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Smokefree Prosecution Extinguished

6 July 2005

Smokefree Prosecution Extinguished

The Ministry of Health prosecution of Wheatsheaf Tavern Limited for an alleged breach of the Smokefree Environments Act was extinguished at the Christchurch District Court on Monday.

Wheatsheaf Tavern Limited was placed into liquidation prior to the charge being heard before the court and the prosecution had sought a stay of proceedings and an order for costs.

District Court Judge Tony Couch declined to make an order for costs because the company no longer existed, and adjourned the matter to consider the stay of proceedings request. The prosecution subsequently withdrew the information.

WIN Party leader and form Wheatsheaf Tavern licencee John van Buren says, “This could be considered a satisfactory outcome, but probably not the one that was expected”.

Solicitor Kevin Clay of Christchurch law firm Macfarlane Dougall Stringer speaking on behalf of the WIN Party says, “It would have been in the best interests of the hotel industry for this particular case to have been heard by the court”.

“There are some very grey areas in the interpretation of the Smokefree legislation, and there can be no clarity until it is tested in court, but liquidation put paid to this being the test case”.

“The company was liquidated purely for fiscal reasons”, said Clay in response to criticism from some sectors that company director John van Buren wound up Wheatsheaf Tavern Limited only to avoid prosecution.

“The Wheatsheaf Tavern closed in March as a result of the Smokefree legislation and other factors related directly to the smoking ban and there was no plausible reason for keeping the company in existence on paper when there was no longer a tavern and no likelihood it could be successfully resurrected in the future”.

ENDS

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