Northern Ireland

Man who breached NI's smoking ban loses legal action

NI High Court
Image caption Chris Carter lost his legal challenge in Belfast High Court

A man convicted of breaching Northern Ireland's smoking ban has lost his legal challenge to the legislation.

Chris Carter claimed laws which led to him being fined for lighting up breached his human rights.

The Bangor man was prosecuted for allegedly lighting a cigarette at North Down Borough Council headquarters in 2007.

But a High Court judge dismissed the case he brought himself after finding it was misconceived.

Mr Justice Treacy said: "The squandering of solicited public funds on an application so utterly devoid of legal merit is to be deprecated."

The 56-year-old was also seeking to judicially review being refused permission to call the secretary of state and chief medical officer as part of his defence against prosecution.

Following the ruling, Mr Carter vowed to appeal and likened the smoking ban to a fascist law under Nazi Germany.

Under the terms of the Smoking (NI) Order 2006 he was convicted and ordered to pay a fine and costs of £1,250 in total.

Mr Carter, who referred to himself as campaign manager of The Smokers Rights Appeal Fund UK Ireland, launched judicial review proceedings after a County Court Judge upheld the conviction.

His case involved claims that he was denied permission to call high-profile witnesses during a challenge to the validity of the legislation.

Those he wanted to give evidence also included the chief executive of the Health Promotion Agency and the Northern Ireland health minister.

He further claimed the 2006 Order was incompatible with rights prohibiting discrimination and torture, and protecting privacy, under European laws.

But Mr Justice Treacy held that the County Court Judge had made clear the only limited restriction on Mr Carter smoking was in designated public places,

"Insofar as the present challenge represents a challenge to the smoking ban contained in the 2006 Order, it is quite clear that the challenge is and was devoid of any merit whatsoever," he said.

"The applicant has no arguable case for challenging the decision of the learned County Court Judge which was, as a matter of law, and for the reasons he has given, unimpeachable."

Outside the court Mr Carter, who was not legally assisted but received donations to a campaign fund, insisted his fight would go on.

He confirmed plans to lodge an immediate appeal and disclosed he has now written to Prime Minister David Cameron.

"I have found that the legislation we have today emulates that of legislation passed in 1938 by Hitler's Germany," he claimed.

"The difference is I'm a British citizen in Her Majesty's domain and it is a free, democratic society.

"It would be totally irresponsible for me to walk away from this now."