Blind woman 'thrown out' of Premier Inn because they ‘didn’t believe’ she had a guide dog

Blind woman 'thrown out' of Premier Inn because they ‘didn’t believe’ she had a guide dog

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A blind woman was allegedly kicked out of a Premier Inn hotel “in the middle of the night” after staff refused to believe her dog was a working guide dog.

Angharad Paget-Jones, an accessibility consultant and data analyst from Port Talbot in Wales, was staying at the hotel in Enfield on Saturday with her partner and her guide dog, Tudor when the incident took place.

In a Twitter thread posted on Wednesday, Angharad said she had checked in with Tudor in “full guiding gear” with “no issues”, but at around 9:30pm her partner took the dog out and was stopped on his way back and told about the hotel’s “no dogs” policy.

Under Premier Inn’s terms and conditions, guests cannot “bring any pets onto Premier Inn premises, with the exception of guide dogs”.

Angharad wrote: “He was asked for proof. He explained he’s a guide dog, showed the lead, said [I] would give proof in the morning if you needed it but it’s late, she’s asleep, and came back [to the room].

“They then knock the door, waking me. They didn’t identify themselves to me (I was in a state of undress using the door for modesty).

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“They demanded ‘documents’ for the dog. I asked for a manager because of the time of night and not having an idea of who they were (I can’t see).”

She added that she then proceeded to close the door, only for the individuals who previously knocked on the door to use a master key to “barge in” to the room and “demanded I leave the hotel”.

“My ID I did show wasn’t enough evidence and accused me of slamming the door (you can’t slam a fire door), which they claimed was aggressive.

“Then someone claiming to be security came and we were thrown out of the hotel. They then claimed I didn’t look blind and it [the ID] was obviously fake bought online,” she continued.

Angharad revealed the documentation she carried was an identification book from Assistance Dogs UK, who on their website state that “only dogs that have been trained by ADUK members” are provided with one.

They also state owners of assistance dogs are “not required by law” to carry identification relating to their guide dog.

Explaining she would be taking legal action against Premier Inn, she said: “This one really shook me up. I feel so fragile and it made me aware of just how vulnerable I am.

“It’s made me feel ashamed of my disability for the first time – like I don’t matter. I’m scared of hotel stays now, and I travel a lot.

“I was discriminated against, bullied and had my privacy stripped from me.”

Disability discrimination is illegal under the Equality Act 2010, which also places a duty on businesses to make “reasonable adjustments” to accommodate disabled people.

Guidance from the Equality and Human Rights Commission, the independent statutory body which champions equality law, states: “It would be unlawful to refuse access to a disabled person accompanied by an assistance dog except in the most exceptional circumstances.”

The charity Guide Dogs responded to the alleged incident on Twitter by describing it as “another distressing access refusal” and that “this has to stop”.

“We’ve been campaigning to end access refusals for several years, but many guide dog owners still frequently encounter illegal refusals. The law needs to be stronger,” they said.

The Royal National Institute for Blind people (RNIB) added it is “one of the worst examples of a guide dog refusal we’ve seen”.

Other disabled people were amongst those condemning the “appalling” situation in the replies, while others took aim at Premier Inn directly:

A spokesperson for Premier Inn told The Mirror: “At Premier Inn we take the needs and equal treatment of all our guests extremely seriously and all team members receive disability awareness training to make sure our guests all get the same warm welcome and enjoy a great stay.

“We were shocked and appalled to see the upsetting Twitter thread alleging that a guest was asked to leave one of our hotels in Enfield.

“An urgent investigation is already underway with that site to find out exactly what’s happened and we’ve reached out to the Twitter user to fully understand the circumstances of what has taken place and apologise for the upset caused.

“Whilst we cannot comment on the outcome of specific investigations, we take a zero-tolerance policy towards discrimination.”

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