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Monday, 12 August, 2002, 11:32 GMT 12:32 UK
'Metric martyrs' in rights challenge
Steve Thoburn
Steve Thoburn was convicted in Sunderland
A convicted Wearside grocer has appeared before the European Court in Strasbourg to fight for the right to sell produce in pounds and ounces.

Market trader Steve Thoburn, from Sunderland, was refused leave to appeal against a legal ban on selling in imperial measures by the House of Lords in July.

He is one of five so-called "metric martyrs" who have been convicted by English courts for refusing to sell produce in metric measurements.

The five are now mounting a new legal challenge under the European Convention on Human Rights claiming the European law breaches their rights.


Our fight for justice is for customers and shopkeepers across the land

Neil Herron, campaign director

The group, which includes traders from London, Cornwall and Surrey, claimed the Brussels ruling could cause a deep 'constitutional crisis' in Britain.

The latest leg in their legal battle could take five years to complete and could cost up to 100,000.

Human rights group Liberty is co-ordinate the legal challenge, which claims the traders have not had a fair trial in England and that they have been refused freedom of expression.

'Utter contempt'

John Wadham, director of Liberty, said: "It is ridiculous that people should be criminalised for this. It's completely out of proportion.

"The government, the European Union and the criminal justice system should not be involved in whether a grocer uses imperial or metric measurements.

Neil Herron, who is acting for the traders, said: "Our fight for justice is not only for these five men, but also for customers and shopkeepers across the land.

"They are incensed by politicians who have treated them with utter contempt."

The traders claim the 1985 Weights and Measures Act allows them to continue using imperial measures, even though the UK signed up to the 1972 European Communities Act and became subject to European directives.

See also:

15 Jul 02 | England
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20 Nov 01 | England
11 Oct 01 | England
13 Jul 01 | UK
27 Apr 01 | UK
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31 Dec 99 | UK
29 Dec 99 | UK
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