Break smoke ban and lose your licence

By MA reporter

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags License Hamish howitt

Howitt: licence revoked
Howitt: licence revoked
High Court says allowing smoking in pubs breaks the crime and disorder licensing objective in a case involving smoke rebel Hamish Howitt and Blackpool Council.

Licensees who flout the smoking ban face having their licences revoked — that was the outcome of a new High Court ruling.

Deputy Judge Denyer ruled that Blackpool Council was right to revoke the licence of Hamish Howitt — of Del-Boy's Sports Bar — and overturned an earlier ruling reinstating his licence.

The judge ruled that hosts who allow smoking on their premises amount to a breach of the crime and disorder objective in the Licensing Act.

Howitt claimed that the licensee's duty is only to prevent crime that leads to disorder.

The judge said: "Although not a crime of disorder, permitting smoking in a place where smoking is barred is a criminal offence. Therefore, as a simple matter of definition, it is a crime.

"Like Mr Howitt, I agree to regard smoking in a public place such as his bar as a serious crime on a par with dealing in heroin, gun running or even flogging counterfeit videos is an absurdity. Nevertheless, it is a crime."

Howitt intends to reapply for a fresh licence for Del Boy's, and to undertake not to allow smoking in his premises pending his appeal to the House of Lords.

After hearing the judge reinstate the Council's decision to revoke his licence, Howitt told him: "The law and justice are two different things. I will appeal to the House of Lords, but I will not allow smoking."

Flawed law

Speaking afterwards, Howitt said : "I'm very disappointed. I won't allow smoking right now — I'd love to, but I can't. I'm saying the law is totally flawed."

He said he has a separate application heading for the High Court in which he claims that the smoking ban is a breach of his human rights.

Howitt, of Park Road, Blackpool, was fined £500 by magistrates for flouting the smoking ban, and the Council then revoked his licence for Del-Boy's last November for his failure to promote the prevention of crime and disorder under the Licensing Act.

However Deputy District Judge Goodwin, at Blackpool Magistrates Court, reinstated his licence earlier this year. She ruled that the crime and disorder provision of the 2003 Licensing Act was directed toward preventing drunken and yobbish alcohol-related behaviour. She held that it did not extend to enforcing the smoking ban.

Because of the public interest involved in the case, the judge made the exceptional ruling that Howitt should not have to pay any of the Council's costs of his court defeat.

However, he warned Howitt that taking his case any further may expose him to the prospect of a "fairly hefty costs liability in future".

Related topics Licensing law

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