This type of story is sadly becoming all too commonplace. Below is a statement from a friend who was last night refused admittance to Halepi’s Restaurant, simply because one of her party had a guide dog.
I am interested to learn that she called the police following this incident and look forward to hearing what their response was.
*** Statement begins ***
On the evening of Thursday 5 January 2012, accompanied by three friends, one of whom has a guide dog, I attempted to enter the Helepi restaurant at 18 Leinster Terrace, London W2 3ET; with a view to dining there.
A man claiming to be the manager stopped us and told us that we could not come in because of the dog. We explained that it was a guide dog, and that it is against the law to refuse to allow a guide dog into such premises. My friend who is the owner of the guide dog then attempted to give the man some literature on guide dogs, and why it is not in breach of any health or hygiene regulations to allow them into restaurants and food shops. The man refused to look at the information, or to listen to her explanation, and just kept saying that it was the law, and he couldn’t have a dog in his restaurant.
During this time, I also told the man that if he would do us the courtesy of reading the information, he would see that he would not be breaking the law by allowing the guide dog into his restaurant, and indeed was acting illegally by refusing us access, as he was discriminating against us for a reason related to disability, that is, my friends need of a guide dog as a mobility aid.
I stood in the door way during this time, and stated that we would not leave until he had at least read the information we were trying to give him.
The man walked away, and spoke to another member of staff. He then came back and told me the way I was behaving was “very nasty”. And told us to leave the restaurant. I replied that I would leave if and when he read the material we were trying to give him, which clearly stated there was no reason for him not to allow us into the restaurant with my friend’s guide dog.
After a few minutes, he came back and told me to move as he was having complaints from other customers that it was cold because the door was open. He said again that I was “being nasty, and there were children getting cold”. Again I replied that I would move if he would just listen to us, and read the information we were trying to give him.
At this point he took hold of my left arm, with his right hand on my upper arm, and his left hand on my forearm, and attempted to push me out of the door. I warned him that he was now committing an assault, and told him not to touch me, and to let go of my arm. He held my arm tightly enough for it to hurt at the time, but there was no bruising or lasting discomfort.
At this point we left the restaurant, and I called the police from outside the restaurant.
Helen Sara Jane Vernon
6 January 2012