Driver accused of ordering ‘dirty’ gay men out of minicab for holding hands

Minicab firm investigates after alleged reaction to passengers holding hands is posted on Twitter

A driver with major minicab firm Addison Lee has been suspended while he is investigated for allegedly kicking out a gay couple from his cab after they held hands.

The men were being driven home  by the driver who allegedly called them “dirty” before he ordered them to get out of the taxi. The driver was suspended after one of the passengers, Liam Kelly, wrote about the incident on Wednesday in a post on Twitter, which led to the firm receiving a  string  of angry messages.

The driver was soon identified from a photo of his taxi’s number plate, which Mr Kelly also posted. He alleged in a Tweet: “Just been ejected from an @AddisonLeeCabs taxi for being gay. Thanks for the homophobic treatment.” In another Tweet he said: “My BF and I got into a taxi from G-A-Y Late. Started holding hands and were told to get out, and called dirty.”

Later he wrote: “Thank you to everyone for your messages of support, they mean a lot. We’re home now, after a very nice black taxi journey.”

Ben Summerskill, chief executive of the LGBT rights charity Stonewall, said: “On the face of it this is a clear breach of the Equality Act and it’s very disturbing. There’s no evidence that these two men were doing anything different to what many other loving couples do in the back of cabs.

“If the facts are as proved, these two young men are entitled to go to the county courts.”

He added: “This gives a very disturbing message to lots of people who come to London, both to work and as tourists, who imagine that it’s a twenty-first century metropolis, and that they’ll be treated accordingly.”

Twitter users were quick to condemn the company for the driver’s treatment of the couple, with many pledging to stop using the service altogether. Jo Little-King posted: “Looks like I won’t be getting a contract with @AddisonLeeCabs for my day-job business after all,” while Phil Holmes wrote: “Sigh, don’t need to go to Russia 4 homophobia”.

An Addison Lee spokeswoman said: “We are aware of an incident involving an Addison Lee vehicle in London last night. This incident is being investigated thoroughly, and the driver has been suspended from duty while the investigation takes place. We are also in contact with the customer to understand more about what happened.

“Addison Lee does not tolerate any form of discrimination. We pride ourselves in delivering the highest possible level of professional service, and we take matters like this very seriously.”

The case echoes one in Portland, Oregon, last month, where a lesbian couple were evicted from a taxi on a motorway late at night. That driver lost his licence today, following an investigation into the incident.

This is not the first time that Addison Lee, London’s biggest private hire firm, has been caught up in controversy. Last year its chairman John Griffin published a column in his company’s magazine, Add Lib, which implied that running over cyclists might be acceptable because they were untrained beginners.

Griffin also urged his 3,500 drivers to flout the law and drive in bus lanes, putting cyclists at risk. The call to arms sparked a two year court battle for access to the lanes.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistant - Accounts Payable - St. Albans

£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions