A taxi driver chose the wrong passengers to turn down when he refused to pick up a wheelchair user - who was also a former mayor - and his blind companion.

Even though the booking had been paid for in advance, Majid Hussein Butt, refused to take former Harpenden Mayor Michael Weaver and former Chamber of Commerce President David Clarke, from St Albans to Harpenden.

Butt, of Ash Road, Luton, Beds, has lost his licence to work in the St Albans district and been fined £250 after a prosecution was brought by St Albans District Council.

St Albans Magistrates Court heard last Wednesday how Lisa Bates-Wallis, executive director of the St Albans Chamber of Commerce, had paid operator Gold Line in advance to take to take Mr Clarke and Mr Weaver from George Street, St Albans, to Harpenden in July last year.

She had told the company that both passengers were disabled, but when Mr Butt arrived he refused to take the passengers, saying he had a bad back, and drove away.

The group were left “stunned” and “disgusted” at the driver’s behaviour, the court heard.

Ms Bates-Wallis phoned the taxi company, which apologised and sent another vehicle that took both passengers.

The council carried out an investigation and launched a prosecution under Equality Act 2010.

In mitigation, Mr Butt’s solicitor Ahmed Malik his client had worked as a taxi driver for six years without complaint.

Butt was fined £250 and ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £30 and a contribution towards the council’s costs of £250.

Following the conviction, the council has revoked his Hackney Carriage Driver’s Licence and he has now been notified of the decision. He has three weeks to appeal.

Cllr David Heritage, chairman of the council’s licensing and regulatory committee, said: “We are very sorry at the distress caused by the refusal of one of our licensed taxi drivers to take a wheelchair user.

“The driver’s action has led to both a successful prosecution by the council in the courts and the decision to take away his licence under our convictions policy.

“Under the Equality Act, licensed taxi drivers using accessible vehicles must not discriminate against wheelchair users. They should also give them assistance when required.

“The vast majority of our taxi drivers do an excellent job and are very helpful to disabled customers with complaints being very rare.

“However, this prosecution shows that when we are told of an offence, we will investigate and take appropriate action.”

The council has a statutory duty to license drivers for the Hackney carriage and private hire trade within the district and ensure they abide by the rules.

Hackney carriages are licensed to pick up people who hail from the roadside while private hire licences only permit drivers to take pre-arranged bookings.

For more information about taxi licences, see: http://bit.ly/2UMFZhb.