Actor Ruth Madeley says taxi driver took her wheelchair after an argument

·3-min read
Photo credit: Comic Relief - Getty Images
Photo credit: Comic Relief - Getty Images

Actor Ruth Madeley, who's starred in series including Years and Years, has told followers she recently reported her first "disability hate incident" when a taxi driver took her wheelchair away after "refusing" to drop her off at an accessible point.

Ruth told fans on Instagram the taxi driver had refused to drop her off at Euston Station's accessible entrance as the traffic was heavy and it would "take too long" and be "too difficult" for him to drive there.

"He instead insisted that I get out and use the inaccessible entrance, as he had seen me stand and so 'knew I could walk'. When I told him that I can't manage stairs, he proceeded to tell me that it was MY problem not his," the 33-year-old explained.

She said the traumatic experience continued when the driver demanded his fare even though the journey had been prepaid.

"When I tried explaining this on the street, he became very agitated and, in sheer frustration, HE TOOK MY WHEELCHAIR from behind me without warning and carried it away to put in the boot of his taxi, leaving me on the side of the road," the actor added.

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Ruth said she asked for him to return her wheelchair, but he refused. Her mum, who had also been on the taxi journey, grabbed the chair from the driver, although he tried his best to stop her, the Years and Years star said.

"As a disabled woman, I never thought I'd have to deal with a situation like this in 2021... For me, taking somebody's wheelchair without consent and effectively holding it to ransom, is criminal behaviour."

In the post, Ruth then went on to cover her dealings with the police, following the incident, describing the person she spoke to on the phone as "awful."

"After telling me that the ordeal was not a hate crime and that no criminal act had taken place, I've since learned that she didn't log the incident properly and, as such, my case was dismissed without me knowing. I was shut down and made to feel as though I was making a fuss over nothing," Ruth said, adding that after more "fighting and asking for support", there were "no consequences" for the taxi driver.

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"This kind of shit is happening to disabled people EVERY SINGLE DAY and it is clear proof that the fight for disability rights is far from over," she said.

After an outpouring of frustration and well-wishes from people online, Ruth has shared an update with fans, thanking them for their support.

"I know there have been questions as to what kind of taxi I used, so just wanted to clarify that it was a private hire company & TfL are now looking into the incident," she said.

Graham Robinson, Transport for London's general manager for taxi and private hire, said in a statement: “This sounds like an utterly appalling incident. We have contacted Ruth for more details so we can carry out a full and urgent investigation.”

Warren Kirwan, Media Manager at disability equality charity Scope told Cosmopolitan UK:

“There is simply no excuse for such abusive and bad behaviour. Taking a disabled person’s wheelchair away - the device they use to get around - and refusing to give it back is beyond the pale.

“Disabled people, like all customers, should expect to get the good quality service that they’ve paid for. We’re pleased that TfL are taking this incident seriously but it really shouldn’t be happening in the first place.”

For free advice and support on an issue connected to disability, you can contact Scope at helpline@scope.org.uk or by calling 0808 800 3333.

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