Blind woman kicked out of hotel at night after being accused of having a ‘fake’ guide dog

‘They barged in with a master key. Again at no point had they identified themselves to me. It was really scary,’ Angharad Paget-Jones tells The Independent

Maya Oppenheim
Women’s Correspondent
Friday 11 November 2022 20:38 GMT
Blind woman asked to leave hotel at night after staff accused her of having ‘fake’ guide dog

A blind woman said she has been left “shaken up” after a “scary” ordeal which saw her kicked out of a Premier Inn hotel in north London late at night after she was accused of having a “fake” guide dog.

Angharad Paget-Jones, a 29-year-old data analyst, told The Independent the situation felt akin to “bullying” and “harassment” as well as being “discriminatory”.

Ms Paget-Jones, who lives in Port Talbot in South Wales, explained she checked into the hotel in Enfield with her partner at around 8pm on bonfire night and there were initially “no issues” about bringing her guide dog called Tudor in.

Ms Paget-Jones, who tweeted about the ordeal, noted she then fell asleep in the hotel room while her partner took her dog outside in his fluorescent guiding harness.

“The same person who checked us in was now saying ‘no dogs’ and we needed to provide proof he was an assistant dog. My partner came back to the room,” she recounted.

“Not long after that, there was a knock at the door. I opened the door, half asleep. At no point did anyone identify to me who they were. It was late at night and I was using the door to keep my modesty. They demanded documentation.”

(Angharad Paget-Jones)

She then informed them she had her Guide Dogs ID booklet and would show it to them if they got management, Ms Paget-Jones added.

She said: ”I closed the door because I was in a state of undress. They claimed I was aggressive for closing the door and that I’d slammed the door shut but you can’t slam a fire door either.

“Seconds later, they barged in with a master key. Again at no point had they identified themselves to me. It was really scary.

“My ID was shown to them. They said it was just a flimsy piece of paper which could have been bought online. They said you have to leave.”

The ID book, administered by Assistance Dogs UK, contains a photo of herself, her dog, her owner number, his microchip number, his weight, along with other details about him.

Ms Paget-Jones, also a disability rights campaigner, said she was just in a T-shirt and her underwear while talking to the hotel staff - adding that the door was open the whole time so anyone could have walked in.

She explained they phoned the Met Police during the ordeal but they refused to help, saying it was a civil rather than a criminal matter. She believes it was two women and a male security guard who chucked her out of the hotel, she added.

“I had to get dressed in front of them as they didn’t give me any privacy,” Ms Paget-Jones said.

“It felt like they has made up their minds and nothing I said mattered. They were aggressive with their tone. As we were leaving the hotel, I could hear them behind me saying she doesn’t look blind.”

Ms Paget-Jones, who plans to take legal action against Premier Inn, said it was around 10.30pm when they left the hotel, as she noted there is no legal requirement to provide an ID booklet for assistance dogs under human rights and equality laws.

The campaigner, who said she has not received a refund for her stay, added: “I was panicked. I don’t like fireworks. My dog doesn’t like fireworks.

“I have a little useful vision in the daytime. At night I have no vision at all. The dog was shaken up. It was unnecessary, if they wanted ID they could have waited until the morning.”

Premier Inn has said they are “shocked and appalled” to learn of the allegations and an “urgent investigation” into the incident has already begun.

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