An angry blind man has accused staff at a city shop of humiliating him and breaking the law after being refused entry with his guide dog on religious grounds.

Guillem Leon moved to London, from Spain, to study for a master's degree and travelled to Norwich last week to see a friend.

However, after trying to shop for groceries on Saturday afternoon at Norfolk Daily Fresh, in Magdalen Road, he was asked to leave by management when entering with his registered and trained guide dog, Sid.

Norwich Evening News: Guillem Leon and his guide dog, SidGuillem Leon and his guide dog, Sid (Image: Guillem Leon)

Mr Leon, 23, said: "We were immediately stopped by a member of staff and told that no dogs were allowed in due to the natural halal groceries being sold.

"I explained that my dog was a fully registered and certified guide dog and must be legally allowed to enter.

"After some back and forth, we asked for a manager, who was even more argumentative and adamant on not serving us."

The manager of Norfolk Daily Fresh had initially stood firm on the decision to refuse Mr Leon entry, citing "halal rule, relating to Muslim religion" when contacted by this newspaper. 

However, the shop's owner, Fam Karim, 37, subsequently made contact to insist that the disagreement should not have happened.

"It was a misunderstanding with the blind man and manager at the time of the incident, he didn’t know the rules as he'd only been with us for three months," said Mr Karim.

"We have no problem having guide dogs in the shop.

Norwich Evening News: Norfolk Daily Fresh, in Magdalen RoadNorfolk Daily Fresh, in Magdalen Road (Image: Newsquest)

"We are friendly with everyone who comes into the shop and we don’t discriminate against anyone.

"We don’t want to push customers away. Of course, we would allow guide dogs allowed in the shop.

"We would roll out the red carpet for them if they were to come back.

"The only thing we consider is that we have loose foods around the shop so we have to be careful."

As well as being a breach of the Equality Act under UK law, the Muslim Shariah Council also advises UK businesses that they should allow entry for assistance dogs.

The word 'halal' is Arabic for permissible. Halal food is that which adheres to Islamic law, as defined in the Koran, and can relate to particular types of slaughter methods.

READ MORE: Fish and chip shop replacing former Chinese takeaway near city centre

The decision to stop Mr Leon from entering the shop with his guide dog has also been slammed by a city sight loss charity based close by, in Magpie Road.

Andrew Morter, chief executive of Vision Norfolk, said: "It's disappointing to hear of a business discriminating against a vision impaired person in this way.  

Norwich Evening News: The charity Guide Dogs has long campaigned on access rights for the blind and visually impaired The charity Guide Dogs has long campaigned on access rights for the blind and visually impaired (Image: PA Wire)

"Not only is it illegal under the Equality Act 2010 to refuse entry to someone who is accompanied by an assistance dog, but ultimately it's bad for business.  

"The public are far more supportive nowadays of disabled people trying to live independent lives and gaining a reputation for standing in the way of them doing that will damage a business in the long run.

READ MORE: Canaries block derby day ticket raffle to leave charity disappointed

"We think it's important to educate and guide businesses in what they can do - not just to comply with the law - but to be more welcoming to all disabled people, including those living with sight loss.  

"We can provide guidance and training for businesses and their staff because we'd much rather work with them for everybody’s benefit than rely on legislation to force their hands."

Norwich Evening News: Andrew Morter, chief executive of Vision NorfolkAndrew Morter, chief executive of Vision Norfolk (Image: Newman Associates)

Mr Leon said he has left messages with Norwich City Council but is yet to have a response.

He added: "I've had a guide dog for six years and this is the worst refusal by far - it was honestly humiliating.

"It made me feel like I was the problem for having this disability and it was really disheartening to have it happen."

READ MORE: Could you finish the 'biggest hotdog' in Norfolk?

The city council did not respond to a request for comment from this newspaper.

'Too many' face discrimination

Under the Equality Act 2010, shops, local authorities and schools must take positive steps to remove the barriers faced because of a disability.

If a company doesn’t cooperate with their duty to make reasonable adjustments, the Equality Act says it’s unlawful discrimination and could face either civil enforcement or be liable for a criminal offence, punishable by a fine of up to £5,000.

Norwich Evening News: A spokeswoman for charity Guide Dogs said too many guide dog owners continue to face discriminationA spokeswoman for charity Guide Dogs said too many guide dog owners continue to face discrimination (Image: Guide Dogs)

A spokeswoman for the Guide Dogs charity said: "Too many guide dog owners continue to face discrimination and are turned away because they have their guide dog with them.

"Our research shows that 81pc of guide dog owners have been refused access to a business or service at some point.

"Guide dog owners should be able to live the lives they want and feel confident, independent and supported, in the world."