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Last Updated: Thursday, 26 June, 2003, 09:07 GMT 10:07 UK
Gardener sues over 1 plant
Homebase store
Homebase deny the allegations
A woman has taken the Homebase chain to the High Court claiming staff slandered her over an alleged row over the price of a pot plant.

Jo-Ann Bowen-Griffith claims workers at the New Southgate branch in north London accused her of swapping a 12 price tag on a betulia plant for a 1 label.

When she was accused of changing the label, the keen gardener from Hendon, north London, said she felt "extremely upset and angry".

During the alleged argument, she said she spotted a couple in another checkout queue who were her rivals in gardening competitions.

In a statement to the High Court jury, she said: "When I saw them, I became even more embarrassed and demanded even more adamantly an apology."

Seeking aggravated damages for defamation, she said she was forced to take legal action because Homebase refused to admit she was right and had banned her from its stores.

Heads turned

Miss Bowen-Griffith said in May 2001 she tried to pay for her shopping but the cashier looked at the plant and called for another member of staff, Linda Sharpe.

Miss Bowen-Griffith said the plant had an orange sticker which read "reduced to clear".

But she said the cashier told Miss Sharpe: "She has changed the price."

"All heads turned towards me, the cashier and Linda Sharpe," she said.

Store ban

Miss Bowen-Griffith said she demanded to see the manager and was told by Miss Sharpe in a loud voice: "This plant is 12 not 1. You have changed the price."

Miss Bowen-Griffith then went to the plant display section where she had got her betulia, collected an armful of the reduced plants and said to the checkout staff: "These plants have all been reduced from 12 to 1.

"Are you saying that I have changed all these price tags?"

She again asked to see the manager and said that one of the staff members said if she still wanted the plant, it was 1.

Later, Miss Bowen-Griffiths rang Homebase head office from home and claimed that despite being offered vouchers and promised an investigation, neither happened.

She later received a letter from Homebase which said that because "we are not happy with your method of shopping", she had been banned from all its stores.

Homebase says an attempt was made to check a label on the betulia, but shop staff did not make any of the allegations claimed by Miss Bowen-Griffith.

The hearing continues.

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