Bolton smoking ban landlord freed from jail
Nick Hogan lost his job after he was convicted of breaching the ban
A former pub landlord who flouted the smoking ban has been released from prison after a campaign to raise funds to secure his release.
Nick Hogan, 43, was sentenced to six months for failing to pay fines for smoking ban breaches at his two pubs.
Hogan, of Chorley, was found guilty of breaching the smoking ban at the Swan and the Barristers pubs in Bolton.
More than £9,000 was raised by well-wishers to pay off his fines and he has been freed after 11 days.
The original hearing was told that on the day the ban came into force he organised a "mass light-up" in the two pubs.
The smoking ban has cost me my pub, my job and my liberty
Nick Hogan, released ex-landlord
He was fined £3,000 and ordered to pay £7,136 in costs.
His wife Denise, 53, said that following the conviction her husband lost his job and was unable to keep up with the £125-a-week 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 had been raised and by the end of last week donations totalled more than £9,000.
Mr Hogan was released from HMP Forest Bank in Salford earlier, after the sum owed was handed over in cash to the authorities.
Mr 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."
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."
From the BBC. Yes, I know. I can't believe it either...