On 4 July 2000, trading standards officers, accompanied by two police officers, seized three sets of weighing scales from a market stall in Sunderland. The trader, Steve Thoburn, was found guilty under European Union law of using imperial measures rather than metric, after an undercover ‘consumer protection exercise’ had spotted that he was selling bananas by the pound.
Neil Herron, a friend of Steve Thoburn, was instrumental in launching the Metric Martyrs campaign, which has fought to get the criminal convictions of Steve, and four other traders subsequently charged under the same laws, overturned. Twenty years on, a pardon seems within touching distance, although too late for Steve Thoburn himself, who died of a heart attack aged 39 in 2004.
Neil now tells the story of the campaign, which gained worldwide attention and huge public support, in his book Metric Martyrs. The momentum behind the cause shows no sign of slowing as the UK government considers repealing the laws under which the traders were convicted.
Worldmark Films are currently developing a television programme about the Metric Martyrs.
Metric Martyrs will be published by Gibson Square in January 2022.