It is nearly ten years since local Council’s, acting on an EU Diktat, began prosecuting small shopkeepers for selling produce in pounds and ounces rather than metric grams and kilos as part of their European standardisation program.
After the EU’s recommendation that prosecutions would be ‘counter-productive’, our own Government has now said Council’s must use ‘common sense’ i.e. not to prosecute when dealing with such traders.
On the face of it this is a great victory for ‘People Power’. The public overwhelmingly supported prosecuted traders, partly to send an anti-EU message and partly as an outrage at ‘Big Brother’ authority telling us what to do.
The ‘group’ that took the issue nationwide was dubbed the ‘Metric Martyrs’. Leading campaigner Neil Herron said this was a ‘spectacular victory for people power’ and dedicated the triumph to the memory of his friend and prosecuted trader Steven Thoburn.
Some members of the National Liberal Party also recall their experience supporting fellow party member and ‘Metric Martyr’ the late Dave Stephens whose defiance forced at least two Councils to back down from actual prosecution.
Graham Williamson (NLP Havering Secretary) said “Dave believed passionately in the right of traders to sell their wares in imperial measures because that is what most of his customers wanted. For Dave it was a freedom issue rather than being anti-EU although he didn’t have too many kind words for those in Brussels! I am delighted he has been vindicated”.
He further said however “We shouldn’t become complacent because traders were still prosecuted after the EU announcement and even they didn’t say it was wrong in principle only in timing. The Government have not attempted to repeal or ‘shelve’ the law as such. We cannot rule out the EU and a spineless British Government initiating prosecutions again when the ‘time is right’ because European standardisation is still their ultimate goal”.