March 25, 2004 by

Steve Thoburn


Categories: Business

sthoburn.jpgSteve Thoburn, a greengrocer in Sunderland, England, earned the nickname the “Metric Martyr” in 2001 when he refused to sell his wares using the metric system.
For selling bananas by the pound, Thoburn’s scales were seized by Trading Standards officers and used in his prosecution. European Union rules adopted by the British Parliament allow fruit and vegetables to be labeled in both metric and imperial measures, but all produce must be sold in grams and kilograms only.
Thoburn was found guilty of breaching the Weights and Measures Act and given a conditional six-month discharge. He and four other British vendors appealed the conviction to the House of Lords, but ultimately lost their two-year legal battle.
Thoburn left school when he was 16 and joined the family fruit and vegetable business. He opened his own shop in Southwick market in 1989, where he worked six days a week.
Britain’s most famous fruit vendor died on March 14 from heart failure. He was 39.

2 Responses to Steve Thoburn

  1. Ian Morrison

    I have just heard of Steve’s death, as I am now living in Beijing, China. What a sad loss for all of us who have, at one time or another, taken up the cudgels against the faceless bureaucrats of Brussels. I reported Steve’s battle for the Morning Star newspaper and also took a great personal interest in it.

  2. Brian Zelley

    Revisited the Autumn 2001″this England” magazine
    article “Weighing in with a Silver Cross for the
    battling Metric Martyr”.
    Shame on the then Sunderland City Council in
    County Durham.
    All the best to STEVE”s Family!
    And thank you Steve Thoburn.

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