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Thursday, 31 October, 2002, 22:03 GMT
'Imperial vigilante' wins legal appeal
metric martyr
Tony Bennett manages a 'Guard the Yard' campaign
An "imperial vigilante" who stole 29 metric road signs and defaced others with black paint has had his conviction for theft overturned.

UK Independence Party (UKIP) member Tony Bennett, of Harlow, Essex, believes that by law, all road signs must be in miles and yards, not metres and kilometres.

He drove to Tenterden, Kent on 1 July last year after a tip-off about "illegal" road signs and buried them beneath bushes.

Maidstone Crown Court judge Keith Simpson overturned his conviction for theft on Thursday, saying there was no evidence of dishonesty or that he intended to permanently deprive the owners of their signs.

'Very pleased'

Mr Bennett returned the signs to their owners, McAlpine PPF Joint Venture, in October, 2001.

The company had been installing a pipeline for Transco Gas Company and the signs indicated roadworks to motorists.


Companies and local authorities that put up metric road signs do so with no legal authority

British Weights and Measure Association
The judge upheld Mr Bennett's conviction for criminal damage, but he discharged the sentence, which had been 50 hours of community service.

Mr Bennett indicated that he had not expected the verdict, but said he was "very, very pleased"

He said he intends to carry on with his campaign.

"Now we have the authority to move more signs from roads if they are illegal."

"We're not going to accept them", he said.

Signs illegal

He said 1,846 metric signs have already been removed or amended.

British Weights and Measure Association research officer John Gardner, who backed the case, said: "Metric road signs in this country are illegal.

"Companies and local authorities that put up metric road signs do so with no legal authority."

He said the outcome "sends a strong message to councils and companies that the law has to be complied with".


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22 May 02 | England
01 May 02 | England
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