Victory for pounds and ounces campaigners

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Campaigners lobbying for imperial measures in the UK have claimed a "monumental victory" after the EU shelved plans to enforce metric systems.

The European Commission's Gunther Verheugen has said that the "dual marking" of goods in both imperial and metric will "continue indefinitely", with a 2009 deadline to remove the former dropped.

Conservative MEP Giles Chichester explained that the industry commissioner had approved the U-turn after admitting that using both systems would be "good for business", especially with the US.

"After saving the crown on the British pint, I am happy the Conservatives have persuaded the commission that it is good not only for international business but for the British people that traditional measurements are kept," Mr Chichester said.

"I just hope there won't be any more need for metric martyrs and that the government will avoid forcing metrication down the public's throat."

Campaign group Metric Martyrs today hailed Mr Verheugen's admission as a "monumental victory".

"We have stood toe to toe with the council, government and the EU and won; and shown others that you can stop the tide of EU legislation," said former Sunderland fishmonger and campaigns director Neil Herron.

The Metric Martyrs was formed at the beginning of the decade after trader Steve Thoburn had his scales taken from him and was charged under the Weights and Measures Act for refusing to sell his customers produce in metric measurements.

He died aged 39 three years ago after massive heart failure.

"Steve Thoburn was the man who drew the line in the sand," Mr Herron added.

"All that remains now for the campaign is to insist on a royal pardon to quash the criminal conviction that Steve took with him to the grave."

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