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Last Updated: Wednesday, 26 March 2008, 17:15 GMT
Smoke ban rebel owner fined again
Hamish Howitt
Howitt pledged to carry on allowing smoking
The first landlord in England to be prosecuted under the smoking ban has been fined again for continuing to allow his customers to light up.

Hamish Howitt, 55, of Park Road, Blackpool, denied five counts of failing to prevent smoking in his Del Boy Sports Bar.

He argued the law breaches Human Rights legislation - but was convicted by a judge at Preston Magistrates' Court.

Howitt, a non-smoker, was fined 1,950 and told to pay 2,000 costs.

In November 2007, he was fined 500 at Blackpool Magistrates' Court after admitting 12 counts of failing to prevent smoking.

It's not the judges I am defying - it's the government
Hamish Howitt

On Wednesday, Preston Magistrates' Court was told that officers from Blackpool Council found Del Boy's in Rigby Road, Blackpool, "thick with smoke" on five occasions in November 2007.

A board outside the premises read: "Our political conscience will not allow to put smokers and non-smokers on the street. It's our choice."

Howitt, who represented himself, said the Health Act 2006 was ruining his business and had left him "on the verge of bankruptcy".

He said the law breached the Human Rights Act 1998, in particular Article 4 of the European Convention of Human Rights.

District Judge Michael Singleton disagreed and convicted him of five counts of failing to enforce the ban.

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

He said: "In my view it is not in breach of that act or any articles under the European Convention of Human Rights."

Howitt was fined 250 for each of the five counts of flouting the ban and 100 each for breaching seven separate conditional discharges imposed at the last hearing in November.

He was warned he faced a jail term if he failed to pay the monies owed.

Outside court, Howitt confirmed he was preparing to take the case to the High Court to seek a judicial review.

And he told the BBC that he would continue to allow his customers to smoke in one of his bars.

'Denied choice'

He said: "I'm not telling people how to live. You cannot make us all compulsory joggers and orange juice drinkers.

"It's not the judges I am defying - it's the government.

"I'm giving choice. One of my bars has non-smoking staff serving you and you are not allowed to smoke.

"The other bar is served by smokers. It's so simple and it's called choice, and this government has denied us choice."

Mr Howitt owns the Happy Scots Bar and Del Boy's in Blackpool.

The smoking ban, which was introduced in England on 1 July, forbids smokers from lighting up in enclosed 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.



VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Hamish Howitt blames "unjust" law



SEE ALSO
'Smoking' landlord loses licence
20 Nov 07 |  Lancashire
Landlord denies smoke ban charge
01 Aug 07 |  Lancashire
'First' smoking prosecution bid
11 Jul 07 |  Lancashire
Smoke ban rebel pub under threat
02 Jul 07 |  Manchester

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