A blind British ski champion has spoken of feeling shaken and humiliated after being denied access to a Sainsbury’s store with his guide dog.
Paralympian John Dickinson-Lilley tried to enter the store in Holborn, central London, with his guide dog Brett, but said he was stopped by a security guard.
He said: “I had finished work and because it was a really nice day, Brett fancied a walk because we’d been indoors all day.
“We stopped at the Sainsbury’s on Southampton Row to get some wine to enjoy the weather. As soon as I walked in, the security guard said ‘no, no, no’.
“I said ‘what?’ “He said, ‘You know what. No dogs allowed’. I asked to get the manager, but he refused.” Dickinson-Lilley, who retired from competitive skiing last year, said a supervisor eventually apologised.
When he complained about the incident on Twitter, Sainsbury’s responded: “Hi John, sorry for the delay getting back to you. I’ve spoken to the store manager. It’s clear the security guard misread the situation and this has been addressed to prevent it from happening again.”
Businesses are required under the Equalities Act to allow guide dogs on to their premises, but Dickinson-Lilley said that this was the second time he had been denied access at the same store, and that he had encountered a similar situation at a different London branch of the store.
He said he would be taking Sainsbury’s to court over the incident. “The idea that you can walk into a shop and be humiliated like that in 2019 is outrageous.
“There’s clearly something that’s not working in their business. They know they can’t sell booze, knifes and razors to children, but yet they don’t know that I’m allowed in with my dog. They’re not prioritising disabled people.”
Sainsbury’s has sponsored the British Paralympic team since 2012 under a deal that runs until 2020.
Dickinson-Lilley said: “Sainsbury’s made quite a big thing of their involvement in sport. If you put yourself on the front line by saying ‘hey, we’re sponsoring the Paralympics’, you have to be a leader in that field.”
Sainsbury’s said in a statement: “We have apologised to John for his experience and reassure him assistance dogs are welcome in all our stores and petrol stations.”