In what may be called a body blow to British Prime Minister Tony Blair, his wife Cherie has reportedly been hired by a sex-themed nightclub to challenge the legislation that imposes ban on smoking from July 1 onwards.
Cherie Blair will be giving expert advice as to how the smoking ban may breach the human rights of staff and guests at visited the HeyJo club in St James's, Central London, which has bondage tables and gold-plated erotic taps.
AdvertisementHer involvement, under her professional name Cherie Booth QC, is in direct opposition to one of the Government's flagship policies as Blair is about to resign.
During her hour-long visit to the venue this week, Cherie advised nightclub's owner Dave West how he can challenge the ban in the High Court on human rights grounds.
She charged a minimum of 3,500 pounds plus VAT for a written opinion.
Dave, who describes his nightclub as an "adult Alice In Wonderland" where "naughtiness" abounds, is afraid that the ban may compel him to close it, and his adjoining restaurant Abracadabra.
"I have met Cherie before and she greeted me with a kiss. Unlike many barristers, she is not at all stuck-up. She wanted to see my flat and I showed her around - she told me jokingly she herself will soon be homeless. I even showed her the bondage table," the Mirror quoted him as saying.
"Cherie said the court case should be filed before the ban and then the Government would try to strike it out. I told her I was prepared to go to the European Court. I told her I would be defying the ban as would staff and customers. When the police come, I shall show them the writ with Cherie's name on it and tell them to come back another time," he said.
The legislation banning smoking imposes a fine of 2,500 pounds each time its terms are breached, and Dave is planning to bring other nightclub owners together to challenge the new law.
"There is no room for manoeuvre when the ban comes in. I will be fined 2,500 pounds each time it is breached. The only way for patrons to smoke after July 1 is by going out on the pavement and that could land me in trouble with the police if it creates noise or disturbance," he said.
"I want to eyeball the authorities and am calling on other nightclubs to join me in the challenge," he added.
Leading lawyer Rodney Hylton-Potts, who represents Mr West, also insists that the ban should not be imposed on private clubs because it would infringe smokers' rights.
"This test case seeks a ruling that smoking should be allowed in private clubs. If successful it would run a coach and horses through the ban. Smokers have rights too," said the lawyer.
Public Health Minister Caroline Flint, however, maintains that the law was to protect people from the harms caused by second hand smoke.
"This law will protect people from second hand smoke and save lives," said Flint.