A terminally ill cancer patient has been hounded by debt collectors for weeks over a £400 parking fine – despite having paid for a ticket.

John Lawson, who has less than a year to live, received the fine after leaving his vehicle in a hotel car park, even though he bought a four-day parking pass.

But after The Argus stepped in, Smart Parking, which runs the facility at Eastbourne's Cavendish Hotel, backed down and waived the fee on "compassionate grounds".

John, 58, who was once a bodyguard for the Rolling Stones, was diagnosed with peritoneal cancer in April 2022 and only survived thanks to a gruelling ten-hour operation.

However, in October of the same year he was found to have liver cancer and a tumour in his abdomen.

John, who lives in Eastbourne, wanted to spend time with family in the last stages of his life so paid for his son to stay at the town's Cavendish Hotel for four nights from February 25.

The Argus: John and wife CarolynJohn and wife Carolyn (Image: Submitted)

He completed a vehicle registration form and paid the £32 parking fee at reception, then left his car in one of the hotel’s parking spaces for his son to collect and use to return to The Cavendish each evening.

However, John, who used to run a brothel in Soho, said he was not told he should also input his vehicle’s details on a tablet at the reception desk. He later received a £400 fine from operator Smart Parking for failing to do so.

“I am a terminally ill cancer patient,” he said. “Where is the compassion? I’ve got enough going on trying to arrange my funeral. I don’t need to be doing this.”

John filed an appeal against Smart Parking but said it was rejected and that his case was passed to debt recovery agents.

“I’ve had to get my oncologist to tell a car park company that I’m terminally ill,” he said.

“Now I’ve got debt collectors chasing me. Why is it in the hands of debt collectors after just two weeks?

The Argus: John in SohoJohn in Soho (Image: Submitted)

“I had to sell my motorbike to pay for my funeral and I want to take my wife to a white sandy beach before I die. I don’t need to be dealing with this.”

The Argus contacted Smart Parking which took one week to respond to a request for comment but has since decided to drop the fine on “compassionate” grounds.

A spokesman said: “Signage at the hotel clearly states all guests who park should enter their details into a tablet at the reception.

“In the case of Mr Lawson, he parked three times in the car park without registering his car and so received a number of charges.

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“Smart Parking are members of the British Parking Association (BPA) and operate a fully BPA audited appeals service. Mr Lawson only appealed one of his charges and didn't provide sufficient evidence.

“However, now we are fully aware of the situation as an act of compassion we have cancelled his charges in this case."

The Argus: John LawsonJohn Lawson (Image: Submitted)

John said: “They were fully aware of my situation from day one. Why should it take all of this to get them to change their mind?

“They could have just done this from the beginning.

“I’m happy they’ve cancelled it but I’d urge them to have a bit more of that compassion with other people like me instead of putting them through this ordeal.”

John is the subject of a biography called If A Wicked Man, which documents his youth growing up in Scotland, his time running the Soho brothel, a period he spent in prison for extortion and how he found religion while behind bars.

He lives with wife Carolyn and spends time visiting some of the toughest prisons in the world to share his story.