To some shoppers an upholder to English tradition and freedom, and dubbed by press a “metric martyr,” British grocer Steven Thoburn is now facing a fine of over £5,000 for his continued defiance of EU regulations.

On trial this week, Thoburn has been prosecuted by Sunderland Council for refusing to sell his loose fruit and vegetables in metric weights, kilos and grammes.

Thoburn’s scales, sporting their traditional imperial-measurements, have taken on a rather symbolic status in the British psyche. They were first confiscated in July by local authorities, but Thoburn’s refusal to swap over to metric weights has now landed him in court.  

“I have yet to find one customer to ask for anything in metric,” said Thoburn. “And you can ask any customer I serve, and I do serve lots of customers. Everybody I serve wants pounds and ounces.”

Thoburn’s actions represent the first case where English law has gone head to head with EU rules in the UK courts.

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The grocer has received much support within the local community. The local football club are organising a fund-raising dinner to pay his legal fees and the UK Independence Party are backing his case. Party leader Geoffrey Titford, and MEP for the Eastern Region, commented: “The British public do not want these changes […] and of course we now have Steve Thoburn who is prepared to put himself forward for us. I think he is standing up for democracy, freedom and the choice for what the British people want.”