BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: Business
Front Page 
UK Politics 
Market Data 
Your Money 
Business Basics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Wednesday, 6 September, 2000, 11:34 GMT 12:34 UK
Trader fights metric case
Scales were seized by trading standards officers
A market trader is to be prosecuted for selling fruit and vegetables in pounds and ounces and not in kilos and grammes.

Steven Thoburn, who has a stall in Southwick Market, Sunderland, Tyne and Wear, is ignoring European regulations enforced at the beginning of the year, which state the metric system must take precedence over imperial.

I realise the eyes of Europe will be on us, but somebody has to take a stand

Steven Thoburn
His weighing scales were seized by trading standards officers from Sunderland City Council, which is bringing the prosecution.

The court action is being seen as a test case for the new regulations.

Supermarket giant Tesco is also facing legal action after it re-introduced imperial measurements, alongside the metric system, because of public demand.

Mr Thoburn said: "I'm prepared to be the person who tests the law on this matter because it's very important for my business and the country as a whole.

"I realise the eyes of Europe will be on us, but somebody has to take a stand.

"It has been proved over and over again that British people want their food in pounds and ounces and I welcome this court case so that it can finally be settled once and for all."

5,000 signatures

In a statement the council said: "Following careful consideration we have decided to prosecute Steven Thoburn for using non-metricated scales in his business."

Mr Thoburn's stall was packed with shoppers when the four-strong squad arrived and took away three sets of scales.

Tesco has re-introduced imperial measurements
When he objected he was warned that he could be arrested for a breach of the peace if he continued to protest.

Mr Thoburn recently presented a petition with 5,000 signatures at Downing Street, asking for he scales to be returned. He is now using dual-purpose scales.

He is being backed by the UK Independence Party, which is demanding the return of imperial scales, claiming all traders have a legal right to use them under the 1985 Weights and Measures Act.

A poll, commissioned by the British Weights and Measures Association (BWMA) last year, said most people preferred to maintain imperial measures, alongside metric.

The survey, carried out by an independent polling company, found 72% of youngsters and adults in the UK wanted to keep imperial measures.

No date has been set for the hearing which is expected to take place in Sunderland County Court.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
See also:

31 Dec 99 | UK
Measure for measure
29 Dec 99 | UK
Shops weigh up changes
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Business stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Business stories