A PASSENGER told how she was dragged along the road by a taxi driver as she tried to grab her handbag from him during a row over the fare.

Danielle Harnwell, 28, hailed a cab in Leigh following a night out with a group of friends. She claims she agreed a price of £25 with a driver from AC Taxis, based in Southend, back to her home in Leighfells, Pitsea.

When she reached her destination, Ms Harnwell claims the driver asked for £40 – and became angry when she argued about the price.

She said: “We’d already agreed on the price, which is about what I normally pay, and then he asked for £40. I said I wouldn’t pay it.

“He leaned over and grabbed my clutch bag which had cash, a bank card and my phone in it.

“He took £50 and wouldn’t give the bag back. I jumped out and tried to open the front passenger door, but he just drove off with me clinging on.”

Ms Harnwell claims she was dragged some distance along the road - leaving her with cuts and grazes.

She added: “I couldn’t believe what was happening. It was only when I realised my feet and knees were beginning to burn from being scraped along the road that I let go.

“I smashed my head on the road as I fell. Luckily I wasn’t too badly hurt. I just had grazes on my legs and feet, inbetween my eyes and on my little finger.

“It left me really shocked though and I’ve had nightmares since then and can barely sleep. I can’t believe what he did.!

Ms Harnwell claims she has been unable to retrieve her bag, bank card and cash from the cab company. She has reported the incident to police.

A spokesman for AC Taxis told the Echo he was unable to find details of the trip as Ms Harnwell picked up a cab from a taxi rank outside Bellini, in London Road.

He added: “Unfortunately this was not a booked job with AC Taxis and therefore we have no record of the journey. If the taxi was booked we would be able to demonstrate the journey length, time and estimate a fare as our system has GPS tracking.

“Our taxis are all Hackney carriages and therefore customers can hail taxis from the street. If the customer can supply any more information such as the vehicle registration or driver’s licence number we would be in a position to investigate the allegation in conjunction with the Southend Hackney carriage office who licence the vehicles and drivers.”.

An Essex Police spokesman said: “Officers are investigating an incident where a woman received injuries and alleges her phone was stolen after getting a taxi from Leigh to Pitsea during the early hours of February 11. The matter was reported the following day.

“Anyone with information is asked to contact police at Basildon police station on 101.”