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« Old Holborn: the money shot | Main | Catch me on Five Live - after midnight »

Nick Hogan - free at last!

17:00 ... Two hours ago I was sitting in the reception area at Forest Bank prison in Salford. Standing next to me was blogger Old Holborn, in full costume. OH had just handed over a silver metal suitcase. Inside the suitcase was over £9,000 in £10 notes.

One hour ago we were standing outside the prison talking to (former jailed landlord) Nick Hogan and his wife Denise. Around us was a scrum of photographers and reporters.

Full story of the day to follow. First, here's the news release, issued jointly by Anna Raccoon, Old Holborn and Taking Liberties, and released at four o'clock this afternoon:

NEWS RELEASE Wednesday 10th March 2010

Jailed landlord walks free

Nick Hogan, the former landlord jailed after failing to pay fines imposed when he defied the smoking ban, has walked free from jail.

Hogan’s release, eleven days into a six-month sentence imposed by magistrates in Bolton, follows an online campaign to raise the money to secure his freedom.

Speaking outside Forest Bank prison in Salford, Hogan, 43, said: “I was 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.”

The campaign to pay Hogan’s fines was launched by renowned 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 over £5,000 had been raised. A further £1,200 was donated over the next two days before the campaign received a crucial helping hand from Britain’s most popular political blogger, Guido Fawkes, who publicised it on his widely read and influential site.

By the end of last week donations totalled more than £9,000, enough to pay Hogan’s debts.

A host of libertarian bloggers publicised the campaign, which was also backed by the smokers’ lobby group Forest. A Facebook group, Justice for Nick Hogan, attracted over one thousand supporters.

Anna Raccoon, the blogger who proposed the campaign to secure Hogan’s early release, 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.”

Old Holborn, whose blog hosted the fund that paid Hogan’s fine, said: “Debtors prisons were abolished in 1861. To imprison a bankrupt man for his non-ability to pay fines imposed by the introduction of an unjust law is not something the international blogosphere was prepared to tolerate.”

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.”


More to follow, including pictures, as soon as I can. I will make sure that Nick reads all the comments on this thread when he has a moment.

See also Anna Raccoon and Old Holborn's blogs.

Update (for Iain Dale readers!): Nick Hogan - behind the scenes

References (1)

References allow you to track sources for this article, as well as articles that were written in response to this article.
  • Response
    See, Auntie? It's still a 'live' issue. There are large sections of the country who are deeply opposed to Labour's anti-democratic and absurd legislation nearly three years on

Reader Comments (32)

Fabulous work everyone and thank you all! Best wishes to Nick and his family,

March 10, 2010 at 17:19 | Unregistered CommenterAli

Very best wishes, Nick, and thank you for standing up to this appalling Government.

Thank you OH, Anna and Simon and to everyone who contributed.

This is the best news since the ban began - people power!

March 10, 2010 at 17:44 | Unregistered CommenterJoyce

Thank you so much OH( Love your sarcasism), Anna and Simon.
May I lead my had at your feets
Nice to see a Pic of This couple together again...

March 10, 2010 at 17:55 | Unregistered CommenterFrederique Dupont

Unfortunately because of Forests involvement ASH will spin it that Big Tobacco coughed up the money and that 12637487695764894734% of people still love the ban.

March 10, 2010 at 20:21 | Unregistered CommenterTony

Indeed, best wishes to you Nick and to your family. Thanks for standing up for yourself and for the rest of us!

March 10, 2010 at 20:30 | Unregistered Commenterjredheadgirl

@Tony - they wouldn't get away with it. If they tried I think they could expect several thousand letters from outraged donors. Even better would be those letters to be sent to HMG pointing out that ASH were lying.

Anyhoo, hope Nick's enjoying a good dinner, a drink and a relaxing smoke!

March 10, 2010 at 20:33 | Unregistered CommenterJoyce

Great news. Well done to all those who helped, especially the thousands who donated the money. I wonder if Nick were to write a book on his experiences from July 2007, if will be a best seller and earn him and Denise a few bob.

March 10, 2010 at 20:38 | Unregistered Commenterchas

Hot damn! Nick, it's fabulous you're out again - and super big praises to your wife as well. She's endured plenty, it sure takes a strong woman!

Nice to know my 20 clams helped, but that's paltry compared to what you've done. Nick, take this as a triumph! If we only had 200 like you.

And thanks to all who helped organize this, those in the spotlight AND behind the scenes!


March 10, 2010 at 20:45 | Unregistered CommenterBarry

@Tony - they wouldn't get away with it. If they tried I think they could expect several thousand letters from outraged donors. Even better would be those letters to be sent to HMG pointing out that ASH were lying.


Unfortunately a lie travels the world twice before the truth has even got out of bed.

March 10, 2010 at 21:09 | Unregistered CommenterTony

Tony: I hope ASH do exactly that as it will enrage the ordinary people who contributed.

Please, please, please let them do so, it will be a huge bonus. :-)

March 10, 2010 at 23:06 | Unregistered CommenterDick Puddlecote

Well done smokers - united we stand. We'll NOT let the bastards grind us down or think they are getting away with their Nazi smoking ban..Well done Nick. Good luck with your future career.

I've just read this press release:-

Wednesday, 10th March 2010

UKIP has welcomed the release from prison of Chorley pub landlord Nick Hogan who had been jailed for non-payment of fines levied against him for allowing two pensioners to smoke in his bar.

Hogan, who was sentenced to six months, was released after his £10,000 fine was paid with donations from the online community which flocked to his support.

UKIP spokesman Nigel Farage said: "We are delighted that Nick Hogan is out of jail. He should never have been there.

"While we do not support breaking the law, as Edmund Burke said: 'When law becomes the enemy of man, man becomes the enemy of law.'

"That this should happen on National No Smoking Day is a delicious irony.

"UKIP is the only party that opposes the outright smoking ban and Nick Hogan will be putting himself forward to apply to be a candidate in Chorley in the upcoming General Election."

March 10, 2010 at 23:15 | Unregistered CommenterMargot Johnson

Thank goodness that Nick is back where he belongs.

The speed at which his fund was raised (without main stream media attention) should be a warning to many.

His imprisonment was a step too far by this nanny state/the authorities - the people have obviously spoken, and won, this time.

I applaud and thank everyone for their efforts, against all odds.

Helen Daniels

March 10, 2010 at 23:44 | Unregistered Commenterhelend498

Superb news.
Tony, ASH could not raise that amount of money from the public, in a year, so they would be better keeping quiet methinks, just like the silence from the BBC.
A great injustice has been done to Nick,Denise and his family.

March 11, 2010 at 0:00 | Unregistered CommenterMandyv

Hi Nick,
Great that you and Denise are together again.

You gave up your freedom so that others could be treated with dignity.

Your ordeal should act as a catalyst to get
this intolerant ban amended.

PS. I will never forget your hospitality
during my visits to Bolton.


March 11, 2010 at 0:23 | Unregistered CommenterEddie Douthwaite

Excellent news.

And MY personal thanks to Nick, Denise, and ALL who were involved in his release.

Thanks should also go, I think, to Nigel Farage for his public declaration of support.

All in all, a Good Deed in a Naughty World.........

March 11, 2010 at 7:34 | Unregistered CommenterMartin V

congratulations to nick on his release "he's the man", as for the Labour party, Bolton council and the dum judge that sent him to jail THEY CAN GO TO HELL with thier dictatorship smoking ban.

March 11, 2010 at 8:19 | Unregistered Commenterclif e

Welcome home Nick where you should be. Hopefully now politicians can see how bad this blanket ban is and amend it. Well done to everyone who contributed and of course to OH, Anna and Simon. Thanks so much. Woo-hoo !!!

March 11, 2010 at 10:13 | Unregistered CommenterPat Nurse

Given the enthusiasm with which 'the online community' coughed up to release Nick, and ASH's constant harping on the tobacco funded theme, how's this for a suggestion, Simon - Set up a fighting fund into which all we generous souls can contribute on the condition that Forest no longer accepts funds from big bad tobacco?

It'd be worth a small standing order just to see Debs' expression when informed that au contraire my dear, we are funded entirely by the ban-loving public, and how are your funds doing?

Meanwhile.....THANK YOU NICK, and it's a pity there aren't a lot more like you and the other two amigos!

March 11, 2010 at 10:13 | Unregistered CommenterKaren

Great news it must have been such a relief to get out of there.
Nice to see the news on my monitor this morning.
They know very well just how unpopular this ban is .
Well now they know for sure.
We need to keep the momentum going.

March 11, 2010 at 10:19 | Unregistered CommenterSpecky

Absolutely marvellous news and well done Nick for your courage in standing up to the Anti bastards, they certainly got their comeuppance, as I'm sure they thought they would get away with it by 'making an example' of Nick by sending him to jail for not complying to Big Brother Diktat and that it would put the frighteners on the rest of us.
They have an outrageous cheek to do such a thing to an ordinary decent taxpaying citizen when you see how the slimeball cheating corrupt Banksters are able to get away scott free after robbing us blind and turning the economy into a backet case, where a person cant even get a job not to mind being allowed to run his business because of their shambolic Bans.
They didnt recon on the ole fighting spirit of the englishman.
Glad to see its alive and kicking.
Well done y'all.

March 11, 2010 at 10:29 | Unregistered Commenterann

Nice publicity stunt, Simon. I suppose OH wouldn't have let you participate if FOREST hadn't paid a large part of that sum. I mean OH even did you the favor of bashing F2C publicly, and thereby becoming a pawn in your game.
So, how much of that money is from FOREST?
Don't pretend it's all from the 'blogosphere'. I read the blogs carefully and with 10 or 50 pounds here and there (plus a lady above with 500 pounds) you don't get 9,000.

March 11, 2010 at 10:45 | Unregistered CommenterChristoph

In view of the above comment by Christoph and the likelihood that ASH Uk will try the same tactic, it would be a good idea if you and OH were to publish a breakdown by amounts of the donations, indicating which, if any, are from Forest or businesses.
I think the idea of a fighting fund is a good one. It is what the Dutch bar owners did. A few hundred people paying £10 a month could pay for a continuous stream of smokers clubs and smoke extraction research centres. After a while, the law would be brought into disrepute and the ban amended.

March 11, 2010 at 10:59 | Unregistered Commenterjon

Why DOES every Silver Lining have to have a Cloud ?

March 11, 2010 at 10:59 | Unregistered CommenterMartin V

Christoph: You obviously have no inkling as to how many daily readers OH and AR have, do you? Not even adding in the huge readership of Guido Fawkes who also carried the appeal.

£9,000 isn't a great amount to raise when talking about that many people.

March 11, 2010 at 11:12 | Unregistered CommenterDick Puddlecote

A letter to Nick Hogan from Letters From A Tory.

March 11, 2010 at 11:13 | Unregistered CommenterDick Puddlecote

The Telegraph and the Mail have run the story online too see links at end of post.

I would be happy to chip in to a fighting fund because I believe the smoking ban was the test of how much crap we would take from ASH and the 646 agents of self interest who are an excuse for a Parliament we have to endure.
The petty control freakery just gets worse.
How I despise them all .

March 11, 2010 at 11:23 | Unregistered CommenterSpecky

Sour grapes from Christoph. Somewhat naive as well - do you really believe that any tobacco company would be stupid enough to jeopardise what is clearly a genuine gesture, initiated, supported and paid for by those of us who are sick and tired of being bullied by liars and frauds? This is our way of standing up to be counted.

March 11, 2010 at 11:40 | Unregistered Commenterdavid

I donated like thousends of others concerned about the bullying tactics used by this excuse for a government and the self interest,
(fake jobs paid for by the taxpayer),
of fake charities like ASH.
We donated freely because we are sick fed up to the back teeth of these "sad untalented little control freaks" stealing our taxes
and then using the money to persecute us because we happen to be smokers.

March 11, 2010 at 12:19 | Unregistered CommenterSpecky

Excellent News. Also I would gladly donate again if some other poor b*****d was locked up because of this draconian smoking ban.

March 11, 2010 at 17:05 | Unregistered CommenterPeter Davies

I see the only truth comment has been removed Simon. Didn't you want your house of cards to come tumbling down because of this 'crock of shit' you've written here? You were merely a pawn in their game Simon-wise up befor it's too late!

March 11, 2010 at 22:14 | Unregistered CommenterSGLB


I have the paypal statements.

F2C gave not one penny. Forest gave not one penny.

If you want to see them, employ a QC and let me know.

You don't send boys to do a mans job. Here's the video of ME handing over the funds donated by the Blogosphere to release Nick.

March 12, 2010 at 16:38 | Unregistered CommenterOld Holborn


Watch the video above. My name is not even mentioned. It doesn't need to be. Nick is free and you did nothing.

March 12, 2010 at 16:57 | Unregistered CommenterOld Holborn

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