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Metric Culprits

Hackney Council seizes imperial weighing scale

At 11am, Thursday 13 September 2007, two Hackney council officials, accompanied by two police officers, seized weighing scales belonging to market trader Colin Hunt. The offence was that the scales were calibrated in pounds and ounces.

Trading standards officers making off with Mr Hunt's weighing machines
Photo from http://neilherron.blogspot.com/2007/09/hackney-trading-standards-officers.html

Colin Hunt was one of the original five "metric martyr" traders who underwent criminal prosecution for selling in pounds and ounces in 2002. He said at the time, "I will never stop selling in pounds until someone comes down here and physically stops me. That is what my customers want".

The raid by Hackney council was given the all-clear by the Trading Standards Institute (TSI), which corrected claims by the European Commission on 11 September that pounds and ounces could be used by traders:

"The Trading Standards Institute has today clarified the current legal position relating to the sale of produce by metric measure ... There is a great deal of confusion around the recent statement from the European Commission in connection with the legal use of metric measures. The legal position has not changed ... goods sold loose from bulk, such as fruit and vegetables, are still required to be sold in metric quantities and weighing scales must be calibrated in metric units of measurement. Suggestions that goods can now be sold in pounds and ounces are incorrect ... " (13 September 2007)

BWMA standpoint: BWMA welcomes recent moves by the European Commission to allow the display of imperial conversions ("supplementary indications") beyond 2010, and to allow the pub pint and mile indefinitely - but we urge the Commission to exempt pounds and ounces from the metric Directive so that they may be used without metric. Selling fruit and vegetables is a domestic matter, unrelated to EU cross-border trade; Britain's own Parliament should decide the legality of these imperial measures.

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