Tuesday, January 29, 2008

DVLA passes drivers details ... to anyone. Now hold that thought.

Now just consider this for a moment.

The DVLA holds a full public record of vehicle keeper details. Anyone can set up a 'Private Parking Enforcement Company' get a couple of references and they are in business. Register with the British Parking Association and agreed to abide by their voluntary code of practice' and you are now accessing the names and addresses of persons at will ... under the spurious guise of 'parking enforcement.'

It costs £2.50 a time.

Now read this story ... Man admits plot to behead soldier

Now is it beyond the wit of anyone with such evil intent to collect registration numbers outside a military base and then submit details to the DVLA who will quite happily take the £2.50 a time and hand over the name and address of the registered keeper.

Are you happy that your personal data can be accessed in such a fashion?

If you are not this 'unfettered access' to sensitive data by bodies other than the Police or enforcement agencies MUST be stopped immediately.

Contact your MP here ... and then ignorance is no defence.

Hairdresser accused of attacking NCP Services Parking Attendant

Hairdresser and Chairman of Kilburn's Business Association, Zulfi Amade recounted an horrific tale last night at a meeting of the London Motorists Action Group chaired by Lord Lucas.

Actor Tom Conti and AA's Edmund King were amongst the group that sat in stunned silence as Zulfi detailed how he had been pinned to a wall by NCP Services' Parking Attendants and subsequently arrested and accused of assault. He was held in cells for 5 hours just before Christmas.

He had spotted a Parking Attendant issuing a Penalty Charge Notice to a car belonging to a waitress in a restaurant adjacent to his shop and had asked the PA not to ticket while he fetched the waitress. She agreed but while he was away ticketed the car.

The Parking Attendant accused him of attacking her and he was held by three more who turned up at the scene and later arrested by the Police after the accusations by the NCP Services attendant.

The full shocking story was reported here in the Ham and High.

However, the Police have since dropped all charges.

An NCP Services spokesman said " Camden Police have confirmed to us that they feel our Parking Attendants behaved appropriately by reporting the incident but that due to the nature of the evidence they were able to gather, which came down to differing individual views of the incident, they have not on this occasion proceeded with criminal charges."

Oh really. ' Differing individual views?'

Was the 'differing individual view' that the Parking Attendant was NOT assaulted at all then?

The month before Tim Cowen of NCP had said: "This was a frightening incident after which a female parking attendant received a deep cut to her face and was in hospital until late evening."

Now that all charges have been dropped Mr. Amade intends to initiate legal action after witnesses, including a solicitor, corroborated his story.

Come on Westminster ... take me on

After having another PCN cancelled by Westminster City Council, and Bolton and Camden ... we parked F1 NED in Little College Street, over the road from the House of Lords to attend a meeting of the London Motorists Action Group chaired by Lord Lucas. Also in attendance were Tom Conti, Anthony Culligan (whose pending Judicial Review on Camden's PCNs could lead to massive refunds for motorists), and Edmund King (now of the AA) as well as a representative of Which?

The vehicle was parked on an area of the highway between parking spaces which had the final faded remnants of a single yellow line. It was not clear, it was broken and it wasn't terminated. It was not accompanied by an upright plate (TSRGD 2002 Diag. 639) and although this is not necessary in a CPZ we did not appear to pass any CPZ entry signs.

After weeks and weeks of not being able to collect a ticket in Westminster this time we were lucky.
The PCN was issued at 18.01 on 28th January 2008 and the appeal was made online at 4.30am on 29th January.
I will wait with bated breath ... we want to get a badly marked, un-terminated single yellow line case to Judicial Review to destroy the mantra " if it 'looks' like a yellow line you should not park there" by etsablishing the point that there is a legal requirement to mark a yellow line correctly (clearly and with a T-bar) and to properly maintain the restriction instead of simply tax-farming and revenue harvesting to fill black holes in the council's coffers.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Metric Martyrs Plea to the Mayor of New York

Janet and her twin sister Pat had had a holiday booked to New York before the case was listed for trial. The two East End market traders had decided on the break to help relax after a stressful few months of Pat fighting a serious illness.

Then, when they were at the solicitors giving a statement in advance of the Court case being brought by Hackney Council Janet mentioned the trip, and was told that there may be a problem because if she was convicted and received a criminal record then she would not be allowed into the States.

This created a great deal of stress especially as the tickets had already been paid for. With the case listed for March 7th and the holiday booked for April there may still be a problem which will depend on when the case is listed for trial.

We intend therefore to issue a plea to the Mayor of New York ... Michael Bloomberg.

Janet Devers is facing criminal charges of selling produce in imperial measures which the London Borough of Hackney Council consider a criminal act.

The European Commission recently conceded that imperial scales which were in use before the year 2000 are lawful. They also bowed to pressure from the US to allow the continued use of imperial measures because of the threat to transatlantic trade after 2009.

"We invite the Mayor of New York to extend a hand of friendship to the two 63 year old East End market traders, whose mother started the business on a bomb site in the Blitz, when they arrive in New York and treat them as heroes in your great city and not potential criminals."

Cassell Bryan-Low's report made the front page of the Wall Street Journal and I am sure that Janet and Pat will be in great demand when they arrive in New York.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Metric Martyr opts for Trial by Jury

On Friday 18th January 2008 Janet Devers turned up to Thames Magistrates Court facing 13 charges of selling goods by the pound or by the bowl.

She was joined by Leigh Thoburn, widow of Metric Martyrs Steve Thoburn (second left) and her brother Colin Hunt, another of the original Metric Martyrs (right).

I am trying to hide my crutches behind my back while balancing on one leg.

The story was covered in the Sunday Telegraph by Christopher Booker here.

The public gallery of the courtroom was packed with standing room only and the press gallery was full including reporters from the national newspapers and the reporter from the Wall Street Journal added an international flavour as well as glamour to the proceedings. Cassell Bryan-Low's report made today's front page of the Wall Street Journal.

We made our way into court and I sat next to Janet Devers with counsel Nicholas Bowen in front. The Hackney Council Trading Standards Officers shuffled nervously in their seats as counsel and the court clerk discussed legal matters.

The case was listed for 2pm but the Magistrates did not enter until 2.34pm.

There was one very interested observer in the public gallery. She had made the trip to London the day before to present the petition calling for a posthumous Royal Pardon for her late husband to Sunderland MP Chris Mullin. She was in court to lend moral support to 63 year old Hackney Market Trader Janet Devers who was facing two identical charges to those which had convicted her late husband Steven Thoburn.

Janet Devers was facing charges of using imperial scales which had been 'destamped' ... because they weighed in imperial.

Leigh Thoburn had lost her greengrocer husband 4 years after his scales had been seized. He had gone to the grave with a criminal conviction for selling bananas on scales that only weighed in imperial. The implications of Janet's case had far reaching implications ... and could be the catalyst for initiating a case of miscarriage of justice which could be brought before the Criminal Cases Review Commission.

The defence argument was that the European Metrication Directive specifically authorised the use of pre-2000 scales therefore the 'destamping' of Janet's (and Steven's) scales because they could not weigh in metric were an abuse of process ... because they were not illegal.

As the two female and one male magistrate entered. The court stood.

After a number of exchanges between the bench and the defence the nature of the charges were established and it was accepted that they were 'triable' by either Magistrates here today, or, Janet could elect to be tried at Crown Court before a jury. We had already discussed matters and Janet was adamant that she was going to plead not guilty to all charges and wanted to be tried by a jury of twelve of her peers.

Now, therein lies the problem. How many people in the country could claim to have never bought goods, or asked for goods in imperial measures thereby inciting a shopkeeper to commit a criminal act?

The defence barrister raised the point that selling goods 'by the bowl' was commonplace across London and , indeed, if it was deemed to be a criminal offence by selling without reference to metric or by number then bowls of strawberries at Wimbledon may well be a criminal act ... and perhaps at the prices charged would make Janet Devers offences look like a burglary on a sweet shop compared the Brinks Mat bullion heist.

Janet raised the point that Kentucky Fried Chicken's Big Bucket could be under threat as well as every bag of chips in the country.

We were elated. A Metric Martyrs case before a jury.

The Magistrates asked Janet to stand. She grimaced.

"Are you in pain?" the Magistrate asked.

"Yes. I have a trapped nerve in my back" Janet replied.

"Would you like a seat?" came the response.

Janet declined. "No thank you. I stand all day for my customers so I can stand for the court. Can I please point out to the court that I have a holiday booked for the 24th February?"

The Magistrate acknowledged this and Janet was given unconditional bail and asked to return to the court at 1.30pm on 7th March for a committal hearing. She was told however, that if she did not attend or was late she could be arrested and imprisoned.

Formalities over we left the court to a barrage or photographers and journalists. Interviews were given and the crowds dispersed.

We went back to Ridley Road Market and dropped Janet's brother Colin off.

The day is set to be a landmark in the Metric Martyrs battle ... the day when finally the matter was finally going to be put before the people.

Now where will they find a jury who has not seen the headlines that imperial measures have been saved and who hasn't bought anything by the pound from a market?

Later that night as Leigh and I jumped in a cab to grab a bite to eat we chatted with the driver. He had seen Janet on the news. He was incensed.

"What is this country coming to? A market trader in the East End of London facing charges of selling goods by the pound? You couldn't make it up. I thought you had won and the Government had backed off."

"Well, this is the last thing that the Government and the European Commission want, especially with the European Constitution debate just starting."

"How much do we owe you" I said as we got out in Chinatown.

"Not on your life. You are fighting for us all. This one's on me. Enjoy your night."

So, thanks to Dave the Black Cab driver and also Steve, the owner of the Chinese restaurant who was just as incensed and had seen the news and told Leigh that when Steve's conviction is overturned she must have the party in his restaurant.

Looks like the world is onside and waiting. We hope it is only a matter of time before justice is finally done.

Meanwhile, Janet and her twin sister Pat can enjoy their break in New York ... free from any criminal conviction ... for the moment. They had been advised that if Janet had been convicted then they would have been denied entry to he US.
I am sure that the Mayor of New York would like to make a very high profile exception.

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith says it's not safe to walk the streets in Hackney. Want to know why?

In today's Mail Home Secretary Jacqui Smith was asked whether she would feel safe walking the streets of Hackney, one of the most deprived parts of London, she replied: "Well, no, but I don't think I'd have ever have done."

Asked why she would not feel safe on Hackney's streets at night, the Home Secretary replied: "Well, I just don't think that's a thing that people do, is it, really?"

May I humbly suggest Ms. Smith that redeploying Police Officers on street patrols may have a beneficial effect ... instead of using them to assist Trading Standards Officers seizing imperial scales from market traders (as shown in the picture below)!

The case of Janet Devers has been listed at Thames Magistrates Court for 7th March 2008 for committal proceedings to Crown Court for trial by Jury.

Meanwhile, Janet is still having difficulty walking from a knee injury sustained on a street beside the market after falling down a pothole which has still to be repaired by the council.

No Police on the streets.
Drugs being sold by the ounce or by the gramme.
Holes in the roads yet Hackney Council has the money to spend £2000 prosecuting a market trader for the heinous crime of selling vegetables in imperial measures.
Is the penny starting to drop Ms. Smith as to why it may not be safe to walk the potholed streets when your Government and Hackney Councils have such a distorted sense of priorities?

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."

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The New Metric Martyr

Meet the shopkeeper who is the latest to have been penalised for her imperial measures

More by this author »

Last updated at 01:08am on 15th January 2008

For Janet Devers, a 63-yearold pensioner who still runs the fruit and veg stall on an East London market started by her mother at the height of the Blitz in 1940, Christmas 2007 was the most frightening she can ever remember.

On Friday, Janet will step into the dock of a courtroom to face 13 criminal charges - putting her at the centre of one of the most shameful farces of recent British politics.

She has become Britain's latest "Metric Martyr" - under EU directives compelling Britain to use only the metric system of weights and measures. She faces financial ruin for breaking that same law which, in 2002, created the original "Martyrs" - the five traders who were found guilty of the crime of selling goods in pounds and ounces.

Since the Metric Martyrs' case aroused massive publicity, around 40,000 market traders all over the country have continued to sell in pounds and ounces without further prosecutions.

But on September 13 last year, trading standards officials from Hackney Council, supported by two police officers, arrived at Janet's Ridley Road market stall to confiscate two sets of imperial, non-metric scales.
Initially, when the metric-only rule came into force in 2000, Janet complied. She went back to her old scales only when her mainly Afro-Caribbean customers protested that they found grams and kilograms baffling.
What makes Janet's plight even more bizarre is that only two days before Hackney's officials seized her scales under EU law, a senior EU Commissioner claimed in Brussels that no such law existed.

On September 11, Brussels announced it had abandoned its 26-year old battle to make Britain an exclusively metric country.
The reason for banner headlines such as "EU Backs Down On Metrication" and "Victory For The Metric Martyrs" was a statement by Gunther Verheugen, a vice-president of the European Commission, that the EU had changed its mind over one of its flagship policies.

Commissioner Verheugen wished to point out that it was never Brussels' intention that it should be a criminal offence for the British to sell in pounds and ounces. We could continue drinking our beer in pints and marking our signposts in miles for as long as we wished.
Mr Verheugen went further. Astonishingly, he insisted that the claim that it was an offence to sell in non-metric measures was merely an invention of Britain's "tabloid press", which had "repeatedly and erroneously" printed stories about "people having to buy their food from markets in kilograms rather than pounds".

Equally startling, in November one of Mr Verheugen's senior aides stated, in a letter to the British Weights and Measures Association, that "the use of pre-2000 weighing instruments in imperial-only units" had always been legal in EU law. "The Directive does not prohibit the use of such instruments."

So what is going on? Why, this week, will Janet Devers appear in court, charged, under EU law, with offences which the EU itself assures us never existed?

This baffling story goes back to the time in 2000 when the EU's compulsory metrication policy exploded into a national cause celebre, after it became illegal to sell any goods in Britain in non-metric weights and measures.

When Sunderland market trader Steve Thoburn became the first person in Britain to be charged with the new crime of selling a pound of bananas, and four more traders were prosecuted soon after, they were scornfully dubbed, by a senior trading standards official, "the Metric Martyrs".

Although the Martyrs took their case to the Court of Appeal - backed by more than £70,000 contributed by readers of the Daily Mail, and thanks to the skillful campaigning of Mr Thoburn's friend and fellow Sunderland market trader Neil Herron - they finally lost.

However, their cause had won such support that no other prosecutions followed - and Brussels was left uncomfortably aware that in Britain the case had done the image of the EU much harm.
This was one reason why, last September, Commissioner Verheugen was keen to show that the EU had softened its line.

But something else which lay behind its U-turn was that, for more than a year, some of the biggest industrial firms on both sides of the Atlantic had been lobbying Brussels to withdraw another highly damaging provision of its metrication policy which was about to do them serious damage.

Still due to come into force in January 2010 is what was intended to be the final step in making Europe totally metric - a law making it illegal for any business not just to sell goods in non-metric measures but to make any reference to them.

After the ban on imperial measures came in seven years ago, businesses were still allowed to assist their customers by providing translations from kilograms into But at the end of next year even this will be forbidden. To mention non-metric measures in any context whatsoever will become illegal. It will even become a criminal offence for McDonald's to sell a "quarterpounder".

These big companies explained to Mr Verheugen that for thousands of firms in the EU and the non-metric U.S., this final step in the drive to total metrication would create havoc.
It would it cost U.S. firms billions of dollars to eliminate any mention of non-metric measures from sales literature or packaging on any goods they exported to Europe.
Even more absurdly it would ban European firms from referring to pounds or inches when selling to customers in America.

On this, the EU finally saw sense. But in announcing his U-turn on one aspect of metrication (although the law is still on the EU and UK statute books), Verheugen went out of his way to make those further claims about how it had never been an offence to sell in non-metric measures in the first place (so absurd was his suggestion that this had all been invented by the "tabloid press" that this particular claim has been removed from the Commission website).

But all this raises a question mark over Hackney Council's decision to charge Janet Devers with an offence which Verheugen maintains never existed.

Just before Christmas, she was served with a 67-page document, setting out 13 charges, such as weighing her goods on the scales seized by the officials, and ordering her to appear at Thames Magistrates' Court on Friday.

Most alarming of all for Janet is a warning that, if she loses the case, she will face massive costs. Just for the work officials have done so far, the bill is nearly £2,000 - the time of two trading standards officials alone is costed at £68 an hour, a rate equating to £141,000 a year each. But this might seem like peanuts when the costs of Hackney's lawyers are added to the bill.

All this, plus the possibility of fines up to £5,000 on each charge, is what Janet faces this week.
When her ordeal began, she and her brother Colin Hunt - one of the original five Martyrs, who runs a stall in the same Hackney market - turned to the Metric Martyrs Defence Fund, so helpful before but which has now run out of money.

Council officials will argue that they are only doing their duty by enforcing the law as it stands. In a sense they are right. Despite Mr Verheugen's huffing and puffing, the laws under which Janet faces prosecution are still on the statute books.

But the fact remains that the UK regulations were only nodded through Parliament under the European Communities Act, to implement a directive which Verheugen insists was never intended to make the use of Mrs Devers's scales illegal.

This is such an absurd anomaly that it would be an affront to justice if her case was not presented with all the force that it deserves.
Opinion polls have consistently shown that more than 90 per cent of the British people are opposed to making it a criminal offence to sell goods in the measures most understand and prefer. In that sense, Mrs Devers will be standing in the dock on Friday on behalf of all of us.

• To offer support, contact Metric Martyrs Defence Fund, PO Box 526, Sunderland SR1 3YS (or e-mail metricmartyrs@btconnect.com).

Sunday, January 13, 2008

For the avoidance of doubt ... here is the letter from the Commission's Vice President

Gunther Verheugen has thrown the cat well and truly amongst the pigeons ...

Steve Thoburn was prosecuted for having 'destamped' scales.

The scales were 'de-stamped' because they could not weigh in metric and were seized on a subsequent visit.

According to Verheugen the scales were lawful.

If anyone had wanted to buy in metric Steve had metric scales on the premises.

Janet Devers case in Thames Magistrates this Friday becomes rather important.


If anyone was in any doubt as to why Hackney Trading Standards are being so vexatious and 'personal' when all other local authorities have stayed well clear one need look no further than the 'flyer' put round the market by a Senior Trading Standards Office a few months ago.

We will reveal the origins of the content in good time but someone it appears wants to 'stick two fingers up to the Metric Martyrs.'

Such contentious and 'personal' opinions should not be handed out in such a manner by paid public officials, especially without any header or provenance as to the source of the opinions.

However, the Freedom of Information Act is a very useful piece of legislation and the author will no doubt be regretting putting such personal opinions into the public domain, in due course.

... and I cannot remember claiming that I had saved the Crown on the Pint, but after half a dozen who knows?

New Metric Martyr Faces 13 Charges

Christopher Booker's Notebook

New metric martyr faces 13 charges

An extraordinary thing happened one week last September. Gunther Verheugen, a vice-president of the European Commission, announced that Brussels had abandoned its policy of forcing Britain to go exclusively metric.

The British, he said, could use non-metric weights and measures as long as they wished. Indeed he went further. The belief that it was a criminal offence under an EU directive to sell in non-metric measures, he said, was an invention of the "tabloid press", which had "repeatedly and erroneously printed stories" of "people having to buy their food from markets in kilograms rather than pounds".

Mr Verheugen's announcement won front-page headlines in the national press. Yet, only a day later, trading standards officials made a mockery of his statement by seizing two sets of "illegal" imperial scales from a stall run by the sister of Colin Hunt, one of the five original Metric Martyrs, in London's Ridley Road market.

This event was totally ignored - except by this column.

Just before Christmas the stallholder, Janet Devers, a 63-year-old pensioner, received a 67-page document from Hackney Council charging her with 13 criminal offences, including use of her old imperial scales. Yet only a month earlier, in a letter to the British Weights and Measures Association, one of Mr Verheugen's senior officials had stated that "use of pre-2000 weighing instruments in imperial-only units" remained entirely legal under EU law, since "the directive does not prohibit the use of such instruments".

Mrs Devers was told the council's costs, for the time of the officials who seized her scales (£68 an hour each, equivalent to £141,000 a year) were already £2,000. Fees for Hackney's lawyers will bring the total much higher - apart from any fines to which she might be liable (up to £5,000 each), for offences which Mr Verheugen insists do not exist.

Next Friday Mrs Devers will appear at Thames Magistrates Court in east London. So important are the issues raised by her case that a firm of solicitors, Bates, Wells & Braithwaite, and a barrister, Nicholas Bowen, have already volunteered to defend her at no charge. In light of those statements from Brussels, they believe her case is very strong. Six years ago generous support from readers of this column (some £110,000) enabled the original Metric Martyrs to fight their case up to the Court of Appeal.

Anyone wishing to support Mrs Devers should contact

Neil Herron,
Metric Martyrs Defence Fund,
PO Box 526, Sunderland SR1 3YS
(or email metricmartyrs@btconnect.com).

New Metric Martyr Case in Hackney could lead to Metric Martyr retrial

Metric Martyrs Press Release: Immediate

New Metric Martyr in Hackney

Hackney Court Case could help overturn Metric Martyr Steve Thoburn's conviction as European Commission's Vice President's statement indicates that the Metric Martyr was 'wrongly convicted'

In a remarkable and dramatic twist to the whole metrication drama a statement on behalf of the Vice President of the European Commission, Gunther Verheugen, throws doubt not only on the conviction of Sunderland greengrocer Steve Thoburn but also on the pending case of 63 year old East End market trader, Janet Devers.

Mrs. Devers faces a number of charges relating to alleged metrication offences relating to selling by the bowl, but two of the charges mirror Steven's, namely using imperial only scales which did not bear an official stamp. The stamp had been removed by a Trading Standards Officer on a previous visit. The scales were subsequently seized when Trading Standards Officers were accompanied by the Police. Photographs and report here

All this occurred after the recent banner headlines which gave the impression to traders and public alike that the Metric Martyrs had indeed been victorious and the pound and the pint had been saved.

The case of Hackney v Janet Devers is listed before Thames Magistrates on 18th January 2008 at 2pm.

However, in the period between being made aware of this and the case being listed for trial, we received a letter from a Metric Martyrs and British Weights and Measures Association supporter, which detailed a response he had received from the Reinhard Klein of the European Commission's Enterprise and Industry Directorate-General on behalf of the Vice President of the Commission, Gunther Verheugen. He had sought clarification from the Commission in light of the headlines in which Verheugen stated that the Metrication Regulations were never intended to apply to market traders.

In the letter of response (shown in full here) Reinhard Klein states:

" The Commission does not consider it necessary to change the current provisions on the use of pre-2000 weighing instruments in imperial only because the Directive does not prohibit the use of such instruments."

This clarification that 'equipment' also includes pre-2000 weighing instruments quite obviously changes everything.

Therefore, both Steven Thoburn and Janet Devers were using scales which were expressly authorised by the Directive.

The removal of the certification stamps by the Local Authority's Trading Standards Officers 'because they were not capable of weighing in metric,' is an action which could be seen as an abuse of process.

The subsequent prosecutions under the 1985 Weights and Measures Act 11(2) for having / using scales 'which did not bear an official stamp' it will be argued were therefore unlawful as the stamps had been removed unlawfully.
Metric Martyrs Campaign's Neil Herron states: "This obvious conflict, now clarified by the Vice President of the European Commission between the Directive and its application or interpretation throws absolute doubt on the conviction of Steve Thoburn who only faced the charges after his legal scales had been 'de-stamped.' We anticipate in light of this to get the Metric Martyrs case before the Criminal Cases Review Commission and back to the Court of Appeal. The fact that Hackney are pursuing the case against Janet Devers, the sister of Colin Hunt, one of the original five Metric Martyrs smacks of a personal and vexatious action by Council officials. Indeed Trading Standards officials have already handed out misleading and inappropriate leaflets around Ridley Road market which are the subject of an ongoing complaint."

The timing of the new Metric Martyr prosecution could not be better as on Thursday 17th January at 1pm in Westminster Neil Herron hands over the 16,000 strong petition calling for a Royal Pardon to Sunderland MP Chris Mullin to present to Parliament. Chris has also agreed to assist the campaign in bringing the matter before the Criminal Cases Review Commission a body set up after he exposed another miscarriage of justice in the case of the Birmingham Six.

Supporters are welcome to attend the Court on Friday.



Neil Herron


Metric Martyrs Defence Fund
PO Box 526
e-mail: metricmartyrs@btconnect.com

Tel. Office 0191 565 7143
Mob. 07776 202045

BBC Coverage of Metric Martyrs Case here


Friday, January 11, 2008

A New Metric Martyr about to hit the headlines

As we recently reported, here and here, the Hackney case is about to flare up ... and with some startling revelations.

Janet Devers' case is listed to be heard a week today at Bow Magistrates in London and is set to reopen the whole Metric Martyrs convictions with some new information which has only just come to light.

A great deal of press and media attention is expected when 63 year old East End pensioner, Janet Devers appears in the dock charged with using imperial scales.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Finally back after the Christmas Break ...

...and what a break it was.
Stitches removed and on crutches for another 4 weeks at least.

And my first encounter of the New Year was with another jobsworth.

This time it was an IKEA delivery. I have just completed a development and one of the flats was to be done as the show flat, so I hopped round IKEA on Saturday and ordered beds, wardrobes and other items. Delivery for this morning. So far so good.

"Where's it to go mate" one of the two from the van said.

"In the upstairs flat. The settees, and all the single bedroom stuff can be left on the first floor, and the double bed stuff just up the next flight of stairs."

"Can't do that mate," came the response. "One room only."

"Normally it wouldn't have been a problem but as you can see I am going to have a little trouble getting a double bed and a wardrobe up to the bedroom."

"Sorry. It's in your terms and conditions. One room only."

"Ok. Not a problem. I'll get the dust sheets out so that the carpet doesn't get dirty."

Everything was lifted up the first flight of stairs.

"Just sign there," said the jobsworth.

"Can you not just lift the double bed and wardrobes up to the next floor? "

The young lad had already remarked that it was his first day.

"No, we only get 15 minutes for every delivery. Your terms and conditions say one room and that is all we can do."

"Sorry, it's not the right room. Just a minute and I'll move the dust sheets so you can take everything up to the bedroom on the next floor. It'll be easier for me to slide stuff down the stairs rather than carry it up."

There was a moment's contemplation.

"Do you just want the bed and wardrobes taking up?"

"Yes please."

Job done. There was no need for it. No need to create the potential for aggravation but it was a little jobsworth's attempt at asserting his authority, perhaps to establish the pecking order for his new starter.

The young lad just shook his head. He got the tip while the jobsworth wasn't looking ;-)

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