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« Have we got a Guy News exclusive for you! | Main | Old Holborn: the money shot »

Nick Hogan - behind the scenes

It's almost time to move on from the Nick Hogan story but the past week has been surreal - and no more so than yesterday when I found myself entering a category B prison with a man wearing a green Guy Fawkes mask and carrying a suitcase containing £9,000 worth of used £10 notes.

Anyway, some of you were asking questions about the length of time it was taking to get Nick out. All I can say is, Old Holborn worked around the clock from the moment on Friday when the fund reached its target, but it proved far harder to get the money out of PayPal than it did to spring Nick from jail yesterday.

Without exception, the prison officials we spoke to were polite, friendly and helpful - even with a group of journalists and photographers on their doorstep, which seemed to make some more senior officials a little nervous.

We had been warned, in advance, that Nick might not be released for two or three hours after the money had been counted and verified. In the event, he was fast-tracked out within 45 minutes.

Rewinding the clock, we wanted to get Nick out as soon as possible, but some obstacles proved insurmountable. Old Holborn and I discussed travelling to Manchester on Monday night and meeting at the prison at 8.30 the following morning. The money, however, was still stuck in a PayPal account and there was nothing anyone could do about it.

On Monday at 16:23 I got the message: "Alas, the funds have not arrived in the bank." On Tuesday at 07:59 it was a similar story: "Sorry to be the bearer of bad news but no monies came in overnight." At 16:35 I was told: "Money hasn't come in here yet but should do after midnight."

And then, at 7.15 yesterday morning, I finally got the email that told me the money had arrived and we were on our way: "Meeting Tory Bear and Lazy Hyena at Stansted at 10am. Be in Manchester as fast as I can."

(Tory Bear? Lazy Hyena? Don't ask. Or, if you have to ask, click HERE.)

And so to yesterday's events. To be honest, there's not a lot more to add.

We arrived at HMP Forest Bank shortly after two o'clock. We had already tipped off the local media - hence the journalists and photographers gathering outside. I had also spoken, the previous day, to Robert Hardman, a journalist on the Daily Mail.

Robert is (I think) an ex-smoker but years ago, when he worked for the Telegraph, he contacted Forest to see if there were any airlines that would allow him to smoke while flying from Britain to Australia. He now writes feature article for the Mail and I thought the debtors' prison angle (and the fact that we were having to travel a couple of hundred miles with a suitcase full of cash) might appeal to him.

Robert couldn't come but he passed it on a colleague who did. Hence the story in today's paper.

Once we knew that Nick was definitely coming out, Anna Raccoon contacted Denise, his wife, to tell her and Denise joined us 30 minutes later, sitting quietly, drinking coffee, in the visitor's lounge.

Shortly before four, we were told that Nick was out. It was done with the minimum of fuss. Officials wanted him off the premises as quickly as possible but we wanted him to speak to the press and have his photograph taken. We reached a compromise.

And then we were told that Nick didn't want to speak to the media. Aaaagggghhhh!

Fortunately, by the time we found him he had been reunited with Denise and was calm, if a little shaky. (He clearly needed a cigarette!) We had a quick chat and agreed that OH would read out a short statement on Nick's behalf, with Nick and Denise by OH's side.

And that's what we did.

Inevitably, one reporter wanted to ask a question ... and then another piped up. And before long the questions were coming thick and fast. And Nick answered them all. In fact, I think he enjoyed it.

"Did I do OK?" he asked me later, when I joined him for a drink in Denise's pub in Chorley.

Nick, I told him truthfully, you did just great. And so did Anna Raccoon, Old Holborn and all the other bloggers who helped promote the campaign.

And to everyone who contributed to the appeal fund, I'll say just this: without your donation, however small, Nick Hogan would today be facing 21 hours in a claustrophobic (his word) prison cell, bored as hell and moderately depressed.

Instead, thanks to you, he's almost certainly nursing a sore head and enjoying yet another bottle of Budweiser. So thanks to everyone and, well ... cheers!

Reader Comments (28)

How was it, Simon, that you managed to get in on the act? The appeal was launched by Anna Raccoon last Sunday week, and the PayPal account was set up by Old Holborn the same day. It was then picked up by a number of other bloggers. Finally Guido Fawkes stepped in too.

As I recall events, you entered the fray on Monday, adding your support on this blog. The way I saw it, you weren't one of the primary movers and shakers. So how did you end up at the prison gate with Old Holborn?

I'm not suggesting you shouldn't have been there. There are obvious reasons why the representative of Forest should have been there. Similar reasons could have been given for other people being there too. e.g. F2C or some other smoker-related organisation.

Or is it that you played a rather larger role in events than you seem to have given yourself credit for?

March 11, 2010 at 12:58 | Unregistered Commenteridlex

idlex, I'll let OH answer that question if he wants to, although I think he would prefer to move on to other things.

I'll correct you, though, on the date of my first post on this issue: it was on Saturday 27th February, the day after Nick was sent down. I read about the OH/Anna Raccoon campaign the following day and thereafter we took a keen interest in their campaign and did everything we could to help in terms of publicity and encouraging our supporters to donate money.

Everything we did was done with the full knowledge of OH and Anna because it was their campaign and I didn't want to tread on their toes. I did however want the campaign to succeed and I thought that Forest could bring something useful to the table.

But I'll let OH and Anna be the judge of that.

March 11, 2010 at 13:22 | Registered CommenterSimon Clark

Comment from 'Helen, London' on the 'Mail' online page at just after midday:

"Of all the causes and injustices in the world you could fight to do something about it seems petty to support this one.

You cannot just choose which laws you fancy obeying and those you do not.

This guy is a total idiot"

How typical is 'Helen' ?

I dread to think.

Two points to the Helens of this World:

a) Only ROBOTS are unable to choose.

b) Nick CHOSE - and PAID the price.

Sadly, Little Minds think alike, too..............

March 11, 2010 at 13:31 | Unregistered CommenterMartin V

What they forget is that this law wasn't a law just three years ago and not many people have supported it since. Yes, it's true anti-smokers don't like smoke environments, but most prefer choice because catering for all choices is the British way of life. We didn't ask for this fight. People like "Helen" pushed us into it because of their whining and selfishness at not allowing us choice and trying to eradicate us to boot by coming down heavy and making examples of decent law abiding businessmen like Nick.
This is a great day. It is the first positive smoking related news I have EVER heard in 30 or 40 years. If OH is up for more campaiging, let me know. I'm in, committed and dedicated!
Who cares how or why Simon becamse involved. Thank God that he did. He has many years of experience and his involvement only enhanced the whole campaign

March 11, 2010 at 13:44 | Unregistered CommenterPat Nurse

Why was Simon Clark there? Simple.
Because of all the people who contacted us in the early days of the campaign, Simon was the only one, the single person, who offered us profesional advice and support in his private personna of journalist - and bear in mind that neither Old Holborn nor I are professional journalists - one hint from Simon that he wanted to make this a 'Forest' campaign, which I am well aware is another of his professional hats, or even worse that he wanted us to hand over the money to Forest so that Nick's release stopped being a gesture from the blogosphere, and we would have been off like shots. As we would have been if the BNP, UKIP, or any other organisation had wanted to do so.
Simon became a friend that we could trust, and he gave us sound advice.
We were trustees for money that had been given by people from all political persuasions, all walks of life, smokers and non-smokers, members of current campaigns, and embittered ex-members threatening to withdraw their donation if we handed the fund over to anyone else.
Under pressure like that, you need a calm voice that understands how the media works, and can give good advice.
That is what we got, and that is why Simon was there.
Simon has doen a fantastic job of publicising our effeorts and making the media take public note of the unfairness of the current laws - and as Libertarians, that is what was important to us and our donors.
Some people seem to think that the most important thing is to pick over the bones of which particular 'faction' of the pro-smoking campaigners got the most coverage....I note that some of them are even out and about this morning diluting the national coverage Nick has received with their claims that 'they' could have got Nick out earlier.
They couldn't, but their obsessive belief that they could is apparently more important to them than rejoicing in the publicity the entire lobby is enjoying today.

March 11, 2010 at 13:52 | Unregistered CommenterAnna Raccoon

Simon does his bit in more ways than don't worry about that.

March 11, 2010 at 14:19 | Unregistered CommenterChris F J Cyrnik

Anna R -

Bravely said !

And wisely, too................

March 11, 2010 at 15:32 | Unregistered CommenterMartin V

AR wrote..

"Simon became a friend that we could trust,"

One of the first organisations working against smoking bans to come about are FORCES.

Ask them how much you can trust the big tobacco companies.

Anna, you are very late to this particular party. I think you should drop the naivete.
If big tobacco had wanted to they could have really fought these bans before they even got off the ground.
Why didn't they put up more than a token effort? Maybe they knew in advance that smoking bans increase their sales.
BigT cares nothing about their clients, only their profits.

March 11, 2010 at 16:47 | Unregistered CommenterTony

Thanks. It's all clear now.

Simon is far too self-effacing.

Well done everybody.

March 11, 2010 at 17:22 | Unregistered Commenteridlex

I have never read such a 'crock of shit' in all my life. This was nothing but a media staged showpiece Simon, and you were sucked in like a greedy piggy. Dear oh dear me, it seems Hogan could have been out LAST friday-but the date didn't suit certain parties.

March 11, 2010 at 18:34 | Unregistered CommenterSGLB

Hi Simon,
The Scottish Daily Mail never covered the story, if you have a contact up here maybe you could ask them why.

March 11, 2010 at 18:36 | Unregistered CommenterEddie Douthwaite

The only party that the date of last Friday didn't suit was Paypal - unfortunately they held all the aces.

It is possible that you, or others, would have picked a date for Nick's release that would have suited their agenda, please don't judge OH or myself by your morals.

The date that we picked was the first one that the money was available to us.

If it was all so simple, and all of you could have done it so much better, and got Nick out so much sooner - then why didn't you?


It may be a party to you, it may be that you have all been campaigning on this matter since Adam was a lad, I don't doubt it - but this was my campaign, based on one man unjustly jailed.

Who, why or what, is funded by Tobacco companies has had no relevance to when Nick came out.

Oh! I get it, you think Simon picked the date and we worked along with him? Jesus, you don't know me or OH at all do you!!!!!

For a start if media coverage of National No Smoking Day had been in any way relevant, then the time to get Nick out would have been before the newspapers were 'put to bed' for the Natioanl No Smoking Day editions on the Wednesday, not 12 hours after the papers were printed.Or had that little detail not occured to you?

We dance to no man's tune.
Except Paypal's.

March 11, 2010 at 21:07 | Unregistered CommenterAnna Raccoon

Anna wrote...

"Oh! I get it, you think Simon picked the date and we worked along with him? Jesus, you don't know me or OH at all do you!!!!!"

I don't think that. I honestly believe you are one of the good guys as well as OH and Simon.

My concern, and this is being bared out in the comments sections of every paper carrying the story, is that with a connection to FOREST, and therefore big T, you have given the antis ammunition to use in the form of accusations that the money was paid by the tobacco companies and not a whole bunch of disaffected ordinary people.

Maybe none of that will matter in the long run, but I have been watching the antics of our opposition for some time now and they will use anything they can to make a connection to big tobacco and when they do, in the minds of a public overwhelmed with stories of tobacco companies past misdeeds, anything we say will be discounted and dismissed.

Sorry to burst the bubble an all that, but I know how these bastards operate and have seen them get away with their tricks, twists and lies for a long time.

March 11, 2010 at 22:08 | Unregistered CommenterTony

Well the simple amswer to being BT funded is surely a reference to them being BP funded - with several examples of the human abuses that BP inflict for profit. There's thousands of them.

TBH - I detest BP more then BT. They have slaughtered, killed and made life a misery for just as many.

March 12, 2010 at 0:44 | Unregistered CommenterMary

But the ASHites are out in force. A few days ago there were a couple on Old Holborn's blog trying to discredit Freedom 2 Choose by saying they were related to another group of the same name (now defunct) which was set up by a tobacco machine vendor. Complete lies, but it's a tactic ASH have used before such as when trying to discredit F2C's contributions to the Scottish Parliament a few years back. A shame this particular ranti tried to prove his point with ASH memos (sigh).

Then, there were some more on Old Holborn's blog today claiming that his very name is proof of his obvious Big Tobacco involvement! (Whether they were ASHites or just mentally deranged is hard, as always, to tell as there is frequently little difference between the two).

I wonder how they'll try and rustle up some Big T connection with Anna, but I'm sure their fertile devious, lying little minds will come up with some fabrication.

After all, they normally do.

March 12, 2010 at 1:00 | Unregistered CommenterMr A

Quote: "The only party that the date of last Friday didn't suit was Paypal - unfortunately they held all the aces. It is possible that you, or others, would have picked a date for Nick's release that would have suited their agenda, please don't judge OH or myself by your morals. The date that we picked was the first one that the money was available to us. If it was all so simple, and all of you could have done it so much better, and got Nick out so much sooner - then why didn't you?"

Sadly Anna, it has come to light on various blogs that the money was made available to you & OH last friday but that would have pissed on your "No Smoking Day" plans ! YOU refused to repay the generous lender WHEN the paypal account had finally cleared, instead, threatening to repay all donators back instead. Somewhat churlish don't you think? Nick could have been home LAST friday after all then!

March 12, 2010 at 7:48 | Unregistered CommenterSGLB

I know the blogosphere can be like the Wild West at times - and that is part of its appeal - but I won't allow people like SGLB (above) to use this blog as a platform for specious accusations and ludicrous conspiracy theories, especially when I know what the facts are.

Fact: Nick Hogan would not be at home today had it not been for Anna and OH. Simple as, as Nessa (Gavin and Stacey) would say.

If anyone thinks they could have got Nick out earlier, why didn't they DO it, rather than just talking about it or asking Anna and OH to guarantee that they would hand over £9k of YOUR donations to an anonymous third party whose background no-one knew and who could have turned out to have affiliations with God knows what political party or organisation. (Seriously, you couldn't make this up!)

I haven't commented on this before, and I don't intend to say any more on the subject, but some of the comments that have been posted on other blogs about the campaign have either been naive, pig-ignorant or deliberately malicious.

Some of what I've read this week has been truly pathetic. And no, I don't believe some of these comments have been posted by "ASH-ites" (whatever they are).

As I say, I don't believe in conspiracy theories. The truth is, "our" side has just as many one-eyed, blinkered idiots as the anti-smoking lobby, and this week they've been out in force. And it's not a pretty sight, believe me.

I'm not prepared to get into a tit-for-tat style debate on this issue, so if you've got nothing constructive to say, indulge yourself somewhere else.


March 12, 2010 at 8:32 | Unregistered CommenterSimon Clark

Well said, Simon.

March 12, 2010 at 9:25 | Unregistered CommenterJoyce

I have the paypal statement showing the donations. Every single one of them. Names, addresses, email addresses. 42 pages of it. Not ONE from Forest. Not ONE from F2C.

End of discussion.

March 12, 2010 at 11:39 | Unregistered CommenterOld Holborn

"End of discussion"

Spoken like a true global warmist! Lol.

March 12, 2010 at 13:02 | Unregistered CommenterTony

Global warming is not a "fact". OH has factual evidence of donations. Why continue to discuss it?

March 12, 2010 at 13:39 | Unregistered CommenterPat Nurse

Simon said: "The truth is, "our" side has just as many one-eyed, blinkered idiots as the anti-smoking lobby, and this week they've been out in force. And it's not a pretty sight, believe me."

It's a huge embarassment and I wish they'd shut up, stop being so petty and small minded and just celebrate the huge achievement of AR, OH and Simon in getting Nick Hogan out of jail.


March 12, 2010 at 14:50 | Unregistered CommenterAli (F2C)

OH, you may not have had 'official' donations from F2C but I'm sure individual members have contributed, me included.

March 12, 2010 at 14:52 | Unregistered CommenterAli (F2C)

Yup. And me. And at least two dozen other names I recognised on the "I've just donated!" thread.

Enough already. Job done - he's out.

March 12, 2010 at 15:28 | Unregistered CommenterMr A

Me too. Twice.

I'm on the Exec as well.


March 12, 2010 at 19:01 | Unregistered CommenterColin Grainger

Can anybody tell me if the smoking ban comes under jurisdicial law or statute law? Because if it's under a statute law and you refuse to enter into the contract they can't persue you through the courts...or so I was taught.

March 12, 2010 at 20:40 | Unregistered CommenterMr.Delicious Cigarrettes

I donated too - but not via Paypal. I'm aware that many from F2C donated as well, but as individual members.

I'm just relieved that he's out and back where he belongs.

It just shows though what a force we can be when we all set our minds to it.

On a personal note - I'm not interested in mud-slinging, as I see it as wasting time and a huge distraction when we're all so busy fighting the injustices of the current legislation.

March 12, 2010 at 22:46 | Unregistered CommenterHelen (F2C)

Freedom to Choose (Scotland) have been sent a few cheques, totalling £150 (I haven't added anything yet personally so my donation will make it bigger).

If anyone is concerned about whether their cheque reached its destination, please let me know and I can easily check it out (via Facebook or

Since Nick is now home we will convey the money to him directly. He seems to have received donations directly to the prison too but I am sure every little helps.

March 12, 2010 at 23:01 | Unregistered CommenterBelinda

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