Blog: Farewell, freedom fighter

Catherine Sleep | 15 March 2004

I was really sad to hear that “Metric Martyr” Steve Thoburn had died at the weekend.

He was only 39, and he had three little kids. This in itself is tragic, but he will be missed not just by his family but also by the many people in Britain who supported his cause. For those of you who have never heard of him, Steve was arrested by a Trading Standards officer who caught him selling fruit and veg from his greengrocer’s stall by the pound instead of by the kilogram.

Despite the fact that hardly any of his customers even knew what a kilo of bananas looked like, his stubbornness earned him a criminal conviction. He joined up with a few other traders and appealed against this conviction in a number of courts, right on up to the House of Lords and ultimately the EU Court of Human Rights.

Yes, laws are there to be observed, but many people over the age of 30, say, are only comfortable with pounds and ounces, so was it really worth taking him to court? He dies a criminal but, at the risk of sounding melodramatic and maudlin, I’d say that in many people’s eyes he was a hero.

Metric Martyr


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