By politics.co.uk staff
A Conservative club and its steward have been ordered to pay £5,000 in fines and costs after being caught breaking the smoking ban.
The Balfour Conservative Club in Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire, and its steward, John Phillips, all pleaded guilty and were each fined £1,000 by magistrates, in addition to costs of £3,000.
Following a tip-off, Pembrokeshire council officers went to the club and found three men flouting the ban by smoking in a room.
"To put the interests of smokers above the health of others is wholly unacceptable," said Jeff Beynon, a council health manager.
"In circumstances such as this the authority is left with no alternative but to prosecute, to protect the health of non-smokers and of persons employed on the premises."
Magistrates were told the council made an unannounced visit to the club on June 12th last year following a tip-off that the ban was being ignored.
They entered the club to find three men smoking in a room, despite there being a "No Smoking" sign on display and despite the fact the club had been provided with comprehensive guidance about the ban.
The council said the club had even sent someone to a series of roadshows held by council.
Mr Beynon described the club's wilful defiance of the ban as inexcusable.
But he did describe the £5,000 fine as "disproportionate".
He said the three people caught smoking were pensioners and had been standing just inside an external door.