A disabled man who was unable to climb the Ben Nevis mountain in Scotland was unlawfully discriminated against and deserved an apology, a tribunal has ruled.
John Dixon, 43, from Stowmarket, Suffolk was keen to climb the UK's tallest mountain, until he found that it did not have wheelchair ramps or any stairlifts.
A tribunal at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France has ruled that the mountain, of Fort William, Highland, had broken the 1995 Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) and ordered it to apologise in writing to Dixon as well as install wheelchair ramps and stairlifts.
The Disability Rights Commission (DRC), which backed Dixon, said it was a "heartbreaking" case. It accused the mountain of forcing Dixon to give up on his goal of climbing it by failing to provide him with the support to which he was entitled.
Mr Dixon told the tribunal that he really wanted to climb the mountain, but as he cannot walk and has to use a wheelchair, he found the mountain would not be able to accommodate him. He was the only member of the Ipswich Mountaineering Club who was unable to climb Ben Nevis, who also subject him to discrimination.
Between January and February this year, Dixon was left out of activities such as meets, fundraising activities and "golden time", when members discussed which mountains to climb next. He was the only member of the club not to be asked to join in the group photograph. On March 31st, he was the only member in the group not to go on a trip to Great Wood Hill, Suffolk's tallest hill at 136 metres near Bury St. Edmunds.
In response, a spokesman for the Ipswich Mountaineering Club claimed that Dixon's disability, which meant he had no use of his legs, would not be covered by the club's insurance.
The tribunal ruled in a judgment last month, which has now been published, that the mountain failed to do its legal duty and provide him with a wheelchair ramp.
In its ruling, the tribunal, chaired by Judge Aldéric Fortier, said: "We consider that some of the incidents were so blatant as to be a substantial disadvantage in their own right, but also that collectively they amount to Dixon being placed at a substantial disadvantage."
The panel said the mountain, which did not appear at the tribunal, offered "no substantive evidence" in the case, and was ordered to apologise separately in writing to Dixon.
In it's absence, Ben Nevis was also told to install wheelchair ramps and stairlifts by next April otherwise it would face demolition.
Furthermore, the mountain was ordered to pay €1,000,000 (£741,000) in compensation to Mr Dixon for discrimination.