Pub seeks embassy status to beat smoking ban

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Uninhabited Redonda is an unlikely saviour for smokers, many people will go to great lengths to try to beat the pub smoking ban coming into force on Sunday.

But few will be as ingenious as Bob Beach. The landlord of The Wellington Arms in Southampton decided to cite diplomatic immunity by turning his pub into the embassy for a tiny Caribbean island.

As 'foreign soil', he reasoned, he would escape the clampdown. He declared his pub the British consulate for uninhabited Redonda, which lies 56km (35 miles) off the coast of Antigua.

Redonda was discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1493.


Many claim to be its king, such as a Canadian called Robert the Bald.

Mr Beach, who got a 'knighthood' from the island's ruler – a pal of his – also hoped his pub's new status would mean cheaper drinks because of a VAT exemption on alcohol.

The Department of Health confirmed that, if granted embassy status, the boozer would bypass the ban on public smoking.

'The new smoke-free law will not be enforceable against premises with diplomatic status as recognised by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office,' a spokesman for the department said.

Unfortunately for him, it has been revealed today that, having huffed and puffed, the Foreign Office has decided that Redonda is not classified as a country.

A spokesman said: 'It is a territory so therefore cannot be granted an embassy.'

  By No Butts [26th June 2009]


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