Lancashire, England - fellow that defied smoking ban gets out of jail..

England Counties Map..Lancs = Lancashire..
March 12, 2010 - Nick Hogan, 43, from Chorley, Lancashire County, walked free 11 days into a six-month sentence imposed by Bolton magistrates after donations from the public paid fine and costs he incurred for breaching the smoking ban. He defied the ban on the day it came into force (July 1,2007) when he organised a "mass light-up" in his two pubs, The Swan and Barristers, both in Bolton.

Hogan, a smoker, was originally fined £3,000 (4,548.00 USD) and ordered to pay £7,136 (10,818.18 USD) in costs but following his conviction he lost his job and was unable to keep up with the £125-a-week (189.500 USD) fine payments.

The campaign to pay Hogan's fines was launched by blogger Anna Raccoon with the help of fellow libertarian blogger Old Holborn who set up an account so people could donate online. Within 36 hours more than £5,000 (7,580.00 USD) had been raised and the campaign received a further boost when it was promoted by political blogger Guido Fawkes. By the end of last week donations totalled more than £9,000
(13,644.00 USD).

Mr Hogan was released today (national no-smoking day) from HMP Forest Bank in Salford after the sum owed was handed over in cash to the authorities. Speaking outside the prison, Hogan said: "I'm devastated to be sent to jail. The smoking ban has cost me my pub, my job and my liberty. I'd like to thank everyone who donated money to get me out of jail, and all the well-wishers who sent me cards and letters while I was behind bars. I can't thank them enough. It's wonderful to know that so many people feel as strongly as I do about the smoking ban and its impact on ordinary working people."'

Blogger Anna Raccoon said: "Nick Hogan is free because ordinary, hard-working members of the public, smokers and non-smokers alike, dug deep in their pockets to raise the money to return this man to his wife and home. The fact that so many people responded is a powerful message from the voting public that politicians would be well advised to heed."

Simon Clark, director of the smokers' lobby group Forest which supported the campaign, said: "We don't condone people breaking the law but we do condemn the draconian nature of the anti-smoking legislation that has resulted in a previously law-abiding man losing his business and going to jail. It's a scandal that landlords are not allowed to offer customers the choice of smoking and non-smoking facilities, as is the case throughout most of Europe, without the threat of imprisonment hanging over them."

References: Landlord who defied smoking ban freed from jail after punters pay his fine,, 3/11/2010; Jailed smoking ban martyr is freed by a mystery crusader's cash by David Wilkes, Mail Online, 3/11/2010.