Thursday, January 17, 2008

Metric Martyr Widow hands over Royal Pardon Petition

Metric Martyr Steve Thoburn's widow, Leigh Thoburn presents Chris Mullin MP (Sunderland South) with petition calling for a posthumous Royal Pardon for her late husband and the other three Metric Martyrs.

The petition launched by Leigh in the Steve's shop, which she now runs, has attracted over 16,000 signatures since its launch.

BBC reported customers queueing up to sign in the shop in Southwick Sunderland when it was launched in May last year and it was given a boost in September when Brussels announced that it was banning the enforced metrication drive insisting it had never been their intention to criminalised market traders nor ban imperial measures.

As well as the domestic support from across the length and breadth of the land, the petition attracted support from the far flung corners of the globe ... air mail letters containing completed forms came in from ex-pats in Florida, Massachussetts, New York, the Sultanate of Oman, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Zimbabwe.

Meanwhile, back home party politics were set aside as the petition was signed by Dennis Murphy, Fraser Kemp, Marsha Singh, Joyce Quin, John McDonnell, Austin Mitchell (all Labour MPs) and Liberal Democrats Alan Beith and Bob Russell as well as Conservative MPs including Michael Howard, Philip Hollobone, Sir Patrick Cormack, Ann Widdecombe, Richard Barnes, Dr. Julian Lewis, Stephen Dorrell, Ann Winterton and Democratic Ulster Unionist's Sammy Wilson. Signatures from the other place included Lord Tebbit and Lord Stevens, Lady Dixon, Lord Montagu of Beaulieu, Lod Eden, Lord Cobold. To add to the broad mix from across the political spectrum came Tony Benn and celebrated authors Frederick Forsyth and Vernon Coleman. Even the Archbishop of York sent his support.

Local MP Chris Mullin has been supportive of the campaign's aims and had agreed to assist with accepting and presenting the pardon and had written to the Office of Criminal Justice Reform on behalf of the campaign.

We are awaiting the outcome of the Janet Devers case before Thames Magistrates today before deciding the next move, because Janet faces two charges which were identical to the ones Steve was convicted of way back in 2001, namely using imperial scales. The new evidence which has come to light which may force a miscarriage of justice case being brought before the Criminal Cases Review Commission (whose creation followed the overturning of the conviCtions of the Birmingham Six ... the cause championed by Chris) includes the clarification by Gunther Verheugen that the directive ALLOWED the use of imperial scales. Therefore, it could be seen that the 'destamping' of Steven and Janet's scales which preceded their seizure by Trading Standards officials could well have been an abuse of process.

Leigh said: " I feel as though we are coming to the end of a journey. Steve died in my arms a the age of 39 and he went to his grave with a criminal conviction. We have vowed not to rest until we clear his name and it will mean so much for me and the children as well as everyone who has supported the campaign."

Neil Herron states: "It is quite clear that there is no longer any political will in Westminster and Whitehall to drive forward the enforced metrication programme. Quite why Hackney Council Trading Standards Officers sought to step into the breach again is unclear but I am sure that the real reason why the sister of one of the original Metric Martyrs has been targeted will come to light as the activities of Hackney Council are investigated.
Let us hope that legislation, or a common sense decision in court will help restore the balance and allow a line to be drawn."

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