A British Paralympic skiing champion is planning to take legal action against Sainsbury’s – one of the sponsors of the British Paralympic team – after he was twice denied access to the company’s stores.
John Dickinson-Lilley, who is registered blind and uses his guide dog Brett to get around, said he was left “shaken” and “humiliated” after he was banned from taking Brett into a store minutes from the supermarket chain’s head office.
John told the Press Association it was the second time he has been illegally barred by staff from entering the same store with his dog.
Sainsbury’s has sponsored the British Paralympic team since 2012 but Mr Dickinson-Lilley, who is a double British and European ski champion, questioned the business’s commitment to raising disabled rights among staff.
John told how he had finished work and because it was a nice day taken Brett for a walk and stopped at Sainsbury’s on Southampton Row in Holborn, central London, to get some wine to enjoy the weather.
John said: “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.
“Eventually a supervisor wrote my name and details on a slip and mumbled an apology. I complained to Sainsbury’s but have not yet had a reply.”
John told the Press Association he has only four per cent of his vision but is very confident because of his senior role in communications. But he added that the incident left him shaken and he had decided to take legal action because it had happened before at the same store and at the Cannon Street branch.
He said: “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 been sponsoring the British Paralympic team since 2012, with the deal running until 2020.
But John questioned the retailer’s commitment. He 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.”
A Sainsbury’s spokesman said: “We have apologised to John for his experience and reassured him assistance dogs are welcome in all our stores and petrol stations.”