Ruth Madeley: Bafta-nominated actor says taxi driver took wheelchair away in ‘disability hate incident’

·2-min read
Ruth Madeley, pictured at the Bafta TV Awards 2016 (Getty Images)
Ruth Madeley, pictured at the Bafta TV Awards 2016 (Getty Images)

Actor Ruth Madeley has revealed that she was victim to a “hate incident”, as a taxi driver took her wheelchair away following an argument.

Madeley, who is best known for her role in Years and Years and has previously been nominated for a TV Bafta, recounted the incident on Instagram.

“Last month, on the same day that our new BBC drama about the fight for #DisabilityRights was officially announced, I had to report my first #disability hate incident,” she wrote.

According to the post, a taxi driver refused to drop off Madeley, a wheelchair user, at the accessible entrance of Euston Station, claiming it would “take too long” and would be “too difficult”.

The driver then told her that he had seen her stand and “knew [she] could walk”. After she told him that she cannot manage stairs, he demanded fare despite the journey being pre-paid.

“When I tried explaining this on the street, he became very agitated &, in sheer frustration, HE TOOK MY WHEELCHAIR from behind me without warning & carried it away to put in the boot of his taxi, leaving me on the side of the road,” Madeley said. “When I asked for it back, he refused.”

She added that she was travelling with her mother at the time, who was able to retrieve the chair from the driver, “although he tried his best to stop her”.

“As a disabled woman, I never thought I’d have to deal with a situation like this in 2021,” wrote the actor. “For me, taking somebody’s wheelchair without consent & effectively holding it to ransom, is criminal behaviour. When I called the police, the lady I dealt with was just awful. After telling me that the ordeal was not a hate crime & that no criminal act had taken place, I’ve since learned that she didn’t log the incident properly &, as such, my case was dismissed without me knowing.

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“I was shut down & made to feel as though I was making a fuss over nothing,” she added. “Ultimately, after more fighting & asking for support, the police told me that nothing can be done. No warning to the taxi driver or the firm, no accountability, no consequences. This kind of s*** is happening to disabled people EVERY SINGLE DAY & it is clear proof that the fight for disability rights is far from over.”

Transport for London has issued an apology for the “utterly appalling” incident.

TFL’s general manager Graham Robinson said (per the BBC): “We have contacted Ruth for more details so we can carry out a full and urgent investigation.”

The incident occurred on the day it was announced that Madeley is set to star in a new BBC2 fact-based drama Independence Day? How Disabled Rights Were Won.

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