Hamish loses appeal but plans to battle on

"I WILL keep on fighting."

Hamish Howitt – Blackpool's smoking ban rebel publican – has vowed to continue his battle despite fresh rejection in London's High Court.

The businessman flouted the ban at his DelBoy's Sports Bar on Rigby Road for 18 months, racking up many court appearances and thousands of pounds.

His licence was finally revoked in December last year.

Mr Howitt's claim the nationwide ban on smoking in enclosed public places was a clear breach of human rights has been turned down by the courts.

And yesterday he faced a fresh rejection at the High Court, where Lord Justice Richards and Mr Justice Tugendhat, sitting at a judicial review hearing, refused to overturn his convictions.

But the landlord vowed to battle on and told The Gazette his next step was to appeal to the House of Lords.

The 57-year-old, who claims his battle has cost him more than 500,000 and left him bankrupt, said: "The judges were very sympathetic towards my situation.

"But there was no way they were going to go against the Government's stance on the smoking ban.

"They did not order me to pay costs which does help with the financial burden as I try to continue with the case.

"I will be submitting an appeal to the House of Lords now and continue to fight even if I have to go to Strasbourg, to the European Court of Human Rights."

Mr Howitt, representing himself, argued the ban on smoking in public places should not apply to his pub.

He said his pub, which offered a bar for both smokers and non-smokers, should not be classed as a public place since he had a landlord's right to turn away customers.

He also claimed the ban discriminated against working class people, adding that more than 30 per cent of Blackpool's adults smoked and that his pub attracted an "entrenched working class" clientele.

But Mr Justice Tugendhat said: "Sympathetic as we are, in my judgement it cannot be said the legislation as a whole is incompatible with the Human Rights Act.

"Nor can it be argued that Mr Howitt's pub is not a public place for the purposes of the legislation."

Mr Howitt no longer runs the pub having leased the building to former manager Heather Campbell.

The rebel landlord now faces another judicial review hearing today which will rule whether the inquiry into his son Derek's death should be re-opened.

He fought for years for a fresh hearing after the 21-year-old was washed up at Granny's Bay, Fairhaven in 2003. An inquest recorded an open verdict.