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Last Updated: Wednesday, 27 June 2007, 16:30 GMT 17:30 UK
Pub 'embassy' dodges smoking ban
Bob Beech and Charley Elder
Landlord Bob Beech (L) and Edward Elder have visited Redonda
A pub landlord hopes to get round the new smoking ban by turning his premises into the official British embassy of a remote Caribbean island.

Bob Beech wants to turn The Wellington Arms in Freemantle, Southampton, into the UK base of the uninhabited Redonda.

It follows the pub already being granted status as a consulate of Redonda by the island's king and Mr Beech receiving a Redondan knighthood.

But his plans are likely to be thwarted by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

The landlord said: "We came up with the idea that this pub could become the British consulate for the Kingdom of Redonda - and the king thought it was a good idea.

"We had a ceremony for that and I was made a knight.

The Wellington Arms consulate plaque
The Wellington Arms carries a plaque boasting of its status

"Subsequent to that it was decided that we wanted to become an embassy. Our legal team are waiting to hear if that's possible.

"We intend to go ahead with the full benefits of an embassy."

Those benefits could include not having to enforce the smoking ban when it comes into force on Sunday 1 July.

The ruler of the tiny Atlantic island, King Robert the Bald, sent the island's official cardinal to grant consulate status on the pub.

A remnant of an extinct volcano
One mile (1.6km) long by a third of a mile (0.5km) wide
1493 - Discovered by Christopher Columbus
1967 - Became a dependency of Antigua and Barbuda

Cardinal Elder, also a regular drinker at the pub, said: "If it works we won't have to enforce the smoking ban - I think it will good for the pub and the Kingdom of Redonda."

But a Foreign Office spokeswoman said that Redonda was a territory of Antigua and Barbuda and therefore was not entitled to an embassy or high commission in the UK.

Councillor Gavin Dick, of Southampton City Council, said environmental health officers would be advising Sir Bob of the legal position when the smoke free legislation is implemented.

He added: "If they are not granted embassy status, which requires formal accreditation by the Foreign Office, then they will be covered by the new law, which we will be enforcing."

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