Sunday, January 13, 2008

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

Tel. Office 0191 565 7143
Mob. 07776 202045

BBC Coverage of Metric Martyrs Case here


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