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Last Updated: Wednesday, 1 August 2007, 15:35 GMT 16:35 UK
Landlord denies smoke ban charge
Hamish Howitt
Mr Howitt said he would fight the charges all the way
The first pub landlord in England to be prosecuted for flouting the smoking ban has denied the charges.

Hugh Howitt, known as Hamish, pleaded not guilty at Blackpool Magistrates' Court to 12 counts of failing to stop people smoking in his pub.

Mr Howitt, 55, was joined by his wife, Joanne, 41, son Hugh, 35, and friend Warren Thompson, who all face a charge of smoking in the Happy Scots Bar.

All the defendants were ordered to return to the court on 15 August.

The council are going to try to break my spirit and resolve but they will never win
Hamish Howitt

Mr Howitt, of Park Road, Blackpool, Lancashire, runs the Happy Scots Bar and Del Boy's, both in the resort.

He was initially summonsed to face seven allegations, but this was later increased to 12.

The new law, which was introduced on 1 July, forbids smokers from lighting up in public places.

Bar owners and landlords are obliged to enforce the ban and can face fines of up to 2,500 if they fail to do so.

Happy Scots Bar
The summonses were served in the Happy Scots bar

People caught smoking in pubs, cafes or restaurants can also be fined 50 for ignoring the new rules.

Mr Howitt's family and friend did not enter pleas to their charges.

Speaking after the hearing, Mr Howitt said he would fight the ban all the way to the European courts.

"I am prepared to fight this case all the way," he said.

"The council are going to try to break my spirit and resolve but they will never win. I will take this all the way to the European Court of Human Rights."

The offences are alleged to have taken place between 1 July and 27 July.

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