Ever had the feeling that life is about to kick you right between the legs?
Ever felt like the system is out to get you no matter what you do?
Ever felt that the only thing left for 'them' to take is your dignity?
Well folks, I would think that Ray McHale, ex-licensee of the Painters Arms up there in Bradfordland must be feeling pretty low by now after all he has suffered over the past 3 years thanks to the smoking ban and all that goes with.
Now don't get me wrong, Ray and his wife Jill are as law abiding as the next couple, I mean to say, they've run a good steady ship (The Painters Arms) for 5 happy years with no financial problems whatsoever. They even had the audacity to have holidays! But then that nasty ban came in and, as it has done for every pub in the land, turned a kosha business upside down.
Ray & Jill could not see their elderly & infirm customers cast out into the freezing cold nor the wet to enjoy the simplest of all pleasures-a cigarette. They didn't put ashtrays out on display either. What they did do was inform their loyal, elderly regulars that smoking indoors was illegal since July 1st, as he was obligated to do and...err...sort of left it at that! If they brought their own little tin foil ashtrays then fair play to them, neither Ray nor Jill were going to cast them out.
As you can imagine the local council were not too happy with this arrangement and poubced on Ray one fine saturday with two policemen as escorts. Ray politely informed them that he had upheld the law by informing customers they could not smoke indoors and that was that. Basically he invited the EHO's to go nforth and arrest the smokers-which of course they would not do for they do have the powers of arrest!
To add insult to injury Ray then barred both EHO's from his pub and asked the policemen to escort the scumbags off the premises - as his rights entitled him to do
You see folks, that is where the battle lines were obviously drawn. Ray & Jill had made their stance all too clear and the EHO's didn't like it one tiny little bit. I suppose for them (the EHO's) it was a bit like having the old nose rubbed in shite!
That was 2 years ago and the battle has raged ever since with licensee refusing to back down and EHO's unsure of a successful prosection. Amazingly, not once did they issue a fixed penalty notice to any smoker!
The council changed tactics and concentrated on the licensee and his wife and sure enough as time passed they built up an impregnable case against them both-for smoking in their own home, the pub! They had all sorts as witnesses, even a sodding magistrate to ensure the case was strong enough against them and so took the McHales to court.
Let me briefly explain here that two weeks prior to the court hearing Ray & Jill had been forced to leave their home (the pub) as it had been closed by Enterprise Inns supremo's as "non viable". It had been for 5 happy years but one law changed all that!
So Ray went to court and pleaded for himself and on his wifes behalf (Jill was too upset by losing everything to attend)expecting a slap on thewrist for pleading guilty, not wasting the courts time and their current unemployed, homeless status. The magistrates fined the couple approximately £700 on five counts of smoking (in their own home!) which i suppose in this day and age of judicial poverty could be seen as about right-but then came the big boomer!
The council popped up and asked for costs amounting to £4,540 for all their diligence in bringing this/these lawless scoundrels to court.
Anybody thinking back to the Nick Hogan scenario yet?
Nick ruffled feathers and got lumped up with over £10K in costs and then plagued to death by the authorities because he could not pay the monthly penalties from his meagre job seekers allowance!
Anybody joining up the dots yet?
The magistrates have set a monthly sum to be paid by Ray & Jill, irrespective of the fact that they now have no home, no jobs, no savings at all and worst of all, not a lot of hope either!
The organisation Smokers Justice
has stepped in to help Ray McHale stave off the same fate as Nick Hogan suffered. Imprisonment for committing no crime!
Please pop over to SmokersJustice.co.uk and hit the donate button with whatever you can afford folks for Christmas is coming and Ray wants to enjoying his dnner with friends not inmates.
I do know that they have received no state benefits as yet and have not been rehoused so they have rather a lot to contend with don't you think. We need to raise just over £5,000 from blogosphere.....let's go for it folks.