I don’t want to die with this hanging over me’: Cabbie jailed for refusing to take smoker in 1986 fights to clear name
He is fighting to clear his name 24 year later.
Richard Carless, 67, was locked up for seven days in July 1986 after turning down the passenger who wanted to light up in his car because he feared it would aggravate his asthma.
He refused to pay the £120 fine on a point of principle and was put behind bars.
The former taxi driver is now taking the case to the Court of Appeal, saying it ruined his life.
Mr Carless, from Basildon, Essex, said: ‘I am in very poor health – I don’t want to die with this hanging over me.
‘As far as I’m concerned I was right then and I’m still right now. It’s time I got some justice.’
The grandfather-of-two refused the passenger as he arrived from a plane at Heathrow in 1985 and insisted he wanted to smoke in the cab.
Mr Carless said the man was happy to wait for the next taxi but a passing traffic warden spotted what happened and called the police.
He was ordered to appear at Uxbridge Magistrates Court in May 1985 charged with failing to be available and willing to be hired under Heathrow Airport London bylaws 1983 and the Airport Authority Act 1975.
His case was even picked up by Esther Rantzen on her BBC TV show That’s Life because it illustrated the new-found dangers of passive smoking.
Mr Carless, who suffers from acute bronchitis, tried to take his case to the European Court of Human Rights but it was ruled inadmissible.
However, since the change in the law banning smoking in work vehicles he has been told this week he can have his case heard at the Court of Appeal.
Mr Carless said the incident contributed to the failure of his first marriage, the loss of his job, a deterioration in his health and even led to him living in his car at one point.
Now new laws say anyone caught smoking in a taxi can be fined £2,000.
Mr Carless said he is now trying to find legal aid and a solicitor to fight his case.
He added: ‘I have suffered from asthma since I was a child and that’s why I could not have people smoking in my cab.
‘I suppose that was ahead of its time. I’m just glad to see everyone else has now cottoned on.’
By the Daily Mail