1 pointFrom the manual: u (PCRE_UTF8) This modifier turns on additional functionality of PCRE that is incompatible with Perl. Pattern and subject strings are treated as UTF-8. An invalid subject will cause the preg_* function to match nothing; an invalid pattern will trigger an error of level E_WARNING. Five and six octet UTF-8 sequences are regarded as invalid since PHP 5.3.4 (resp. PCRE 7.3 2007-08-28); formerly those have been regarded as valid UTF-8.
1 pointAdd the u modifier to your pattern: /[^A-Za-z0-9!\"#%£&()=@\s]/u