Nick Hogan is safely back behind bars. Not the bars which the government sought to contain him behind for failing to act as an unpaid policeman and report his customers for smoking – even when he was not on the premises to witness them to doing so – but the bars, the snug, and the restaurant of his own private property, the Swan with Two Necks, in Chorley, Manchester.
It was with the greatest pleasure that I was able to telephone Denise Hogan, his wife, a few minutes ago, and ask her to go and collect her husband from the Forest Bank jail in Pendlebury.
The indefatigable Old Holborn had moved heaven and earth, above and beyond the call of duty, to arrive at the jail with £8,664.50p in cash, to exchange with the Custody Officer there in return for Nick Hogan’s freedom.
Nick was jailed as an example to us all, that when the State barks ‘jump’ you only question ‘how high’.
He didn’t. He said ‘Why’?
The State made him pay a high price for his temerity; they harassed him, hounded him, bankrupted him, and finally forcibly removed him from his family and friends and jailed him for six months.
His crime? No longer the original charge that he had failed to prevent two customers from smoking on his premises. No. He was actually jailed for being unable to pay the £11,600 in fines and prosecution costs resulting from that charge. He had managed to pay off £1,600, but incomprehensibly to the State, he was not able to put his hands instantly on the £10,000 balance.
The State is so used to having a bottomless pot of Taxpayers money to dip into whenever they feel the need, that they have literally lost the ability to comprehend what the recession means to ordinary people.
I blogged about this affair on the afternoon of 28th March. My primary concern was, and always would be, Nick’s wife Denise.
Nick objected to the smoking ban. He was part of a group of people, unsurprisingly largely publicans, who violently objected to the smoking ban, both regarding choice and their viability as a business. That is both his right, and his concern. He hosted a demonstration on the day the ban came into force. He stood up to be counted. He was willing to challenge the law.
He eventually paid the price for doing so.
Did Denise? She stood in the background, the loyal wife. She is not a ‘campaigning person’. She is not macho. She is just a wife and Mother.
When the Bolton Evening News story came out, I tracked Denise down to interview her. She was ‘shell-shocked’. Having run a busy restaurant and hotel myself, I was only too aware of the position she had been left in.
‘Put a smile on your face girl; keep the show running’, while the posturing idiots make their political point. Not her choice.
Within minutes of my blog appearing kind hearted people were asking how they could help, where could they send money? I asked Old Holborn if he would let me use his Paypal function and cross post the story onto his web site. Unwittingly I had lured him into a nightmare situation where he would be abused, vilified, threatened, and harassed himself. One day I shall blog about the back ground events to this saga, but today is a day of celebration.
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 political blogger, Guido Fawkes, who publicised it on his influential site.
Money came in from all over the world, the International Blogosphere had reacted in a truly heart warming way, outraged at the behaviour of the State.
Four days after my story first appeared, Old Holborn’s Paypal account held in excess of £9,700 in assorted currencies. We had to ask people to stop sending money! Then began the battle to persuade Paypal that we were not part of an International money laundering cartel….
Today we succeeded, and with the good wishes of thousands of ordinary men and women, equally battered by the recession, Nick Hogan is once more in the bosom of his family, able to support his wife Denise and their children, instead of being locked up with drug dealers and murderers.
Thank-you Blogosphere – and well done.
The fact that so many of you responded is a powerful message from the voting public that politicians would be well advised to heed. The Blogosphere will not be controlled by politicians, bound up in regulations, throttled by impenetrable legislation. It is not a single target that a ‘D’ notice can be fired at. We are not beholden to advertisers.
“We are the authentic, unfiltered, voice of your electorate”.
so much for the quiet half hour with Denise, the press have caught up with him……..