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Friday, 13 July, 2001, 13:18 GMT 14:18 UK
Grocer loses metric battle
weighing scales
People are being "weaned" off pounds and ounces
A grocer has lost a court battle over the right to sell fruit and vegetables in pounds and ounces.

Peter Collins, 51, from Sutton, Surrey, claimed that by trying to force him to sell in kilogrammes, Sutton Council had breached his commercial freedom of expression under the European Human Rights Act.

The case at Sutton magistrates court was aimed at lifting a condition on his licence to ensure he sold in metric measurements in line with European directives.

The council was awarded 13,000 costs and vowed to enforce the payment.

Peter Collins
Peter Collins: Probable appeal
Mr Collins, who has traded from the stall in Sutton High Street for 15 years, said it was "very probable" he would appeal against the ruling.

He said: "It's not the local council I'm fighting, it's Brussels.

"The outcome of this case says that we do not make the law and if we do not abide by Brussels' rules then woe betide you.

"If my customers ask me for my goods in kilos I will serve them in kilos but they will be disappointed because they are being forced to change their way of life."

Lose licence

Mr Collins claimed his customers were not confident in kilogrammes, but the court ruled that there had been no evidence of an "underlying demand" for an imperial system.

Trading standards officers had told Mr Collins that he had to sell and advertise his produce in kilogrammes or face losing his licence.

The warning came after undercover officers bought a bunch of grapes from him in imperial weights.

Tony Northcott, head of health and trading standards at Sutton Council, said that they did not want to drive Mr Collins out of business but they had to enforce the law.

They should stop picking on the little men who are just trying to make a living

Neil Herron, Metric Martyr Defence Fund
He said: "What we really want is for Mr Collins to comply with the law.

"We want him to get on with his business so that we can get on with ours."

For Sutton Council, Fiona Darroch argued that as metric measurements will be compulsory by December 2009 "the idea is to wean people off pounds and ounces and onto kilos".

'Market forces'

Neil Herron, of the Metric Martyr Defence Fund, said that as long as market forces were led by people wanting to buy goods in pounds and ounces then there was little that the courts could do to stop them.

He said: "We are in a situation where you can prosecute this man for selling in pounds and ounces, but you can go out and drive in miles per hour and drink pints of beer.

"They should stop picking on the little men who are just trying to make a living and educate the public properly about the metric system if they want them to use it."

See also:

15 Jan 01 | UK
Grocer fights metric laws
31 Dec 99 | UK
Measure for measure
29 Dec 99 | UK
Shops weigh up changes
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