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Last Updated: Wednesday, 26 September 2007, 15:55 GMT 16:55 UK
Woman wins tea shop compensation
A disabled woman has been awarded 4,500 in compensation after she was subjected to "aggressive" behaviour when she tried to use a tea shop.

Ms Jazz Shaban won the disability discrimination claim heard at Yeovil County Court against Wharfes Restaurant and Tea Room in Shaftesbury, Dorset.

Ms Shaban, who has brittle bones and uses a wheelchair, was barred from entering the premises by its owner.

The judge described it as "the clearest possible case of discrimination".

Ms Shaban, 43, whose case was supported by the Disability Rights Commission (DRC), entered the tea rooms with friends for a lunch in May 2006.

'Scurrilous'

The court heard that the group attempted to access the downstairs seating area, which was down two steps, when the owner, Rosemary Wharfe, appeared.

Mrs Wharfe shouted to Ms Shaban: "Not in here, we cannot accommodate that".

In a subsequent letter the defendant admitted refusing access to the party, but said that wheelchairs could be pulled upstairs.

Mrs Wharfe did not appear in court and in her defence papers referred to Ms Shaban's case as "scurrilous" and "tawdry".

Small businesses are not exempt from the law and disabled people have every right to be treated with dignity and respect
DRC chairman, Sir Bert Massie

District Judge Brian Smith said it was "wholly unmeritorious defence, which exhibited a lack of sensitivity".

He said the case was the "clearest possible case of discrimination", and said statements made by Mrs Wharfe and given in correspondence to the court were "deeply unfeeling and patronising".

Mrs Wharfe, he said, had behaved in an overt and aggressive way in public.

Ms Shaban, who is at university in London, said: "It was never about the money, I just wanted her to know that her behaviour was wrong and she can't treat people in such a shoddy way."

DRC chairman, Sir Bert Massie, said: "This is a very significant result and should send out a strong message that such discriminatory and aggressive behaviour is unlawful and will not be tolerated.

"Small businesses are not exempt from the law and disabled people have every right to be treated with dignity and respect."


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