January 22, 2008, - 12:11 pm

This is What You Get When Your Country Gives Up Sovereignty: Meet Janet Devers, Metric System “Criminal”

By Debbie Schlussel
For years before it joined the European Union, British conservatives warned their fellow countrymen to oppose its entry. Their clarion call proclaimed that Britain would lose its national sovereignty in the most Big Brother of ways. And they were right.
Meet Janet Devers, who runs a modest vegetable stall in a London market. At age 63, she is now facing 13 criminal charges for not selling her produce according to the measurements of the metric system.
No worries about the large population of extremist Muslims throughout England and especially in London. Who cares about the terrorist plots so many of them have tried to carry out there? The real prob in Britain–and throughout Europe is this poor woman who braves the cold and sells produce by the pound and ounce. The government actually came to her stall and seized her weighing scales:


Janet Devers: Non-Metric User is Britain’s Biggest Criminal

London’s East End is notorious for its criminals, from serial murderer Jack the Ripper to mobsters the Kray twins.
The latest candidate for this rogue’s gallery is Janet Devers, a 63-year-old woman who runs a vegetable stall at Ridley Road market. Her alleged crime: selling goods only by the pound and the ounce.
Ms. Devers, whose stall has been in the family for 60 years, faces 13 criminal charges stemming from not selling her produce by the kilogram and the gram. She stands accused of breaking a European Union-instigated rule that countries must use metric measures to standardize trade. The rest of Europe is metric.
But Brits drink their milk and beer by the pint. On the road they rack up miles. Imperial measurement “is what we know, how we are. Who’s to tell us to change?” said Scott Lomax, a fellow vegetable-stall owner.
Ms. Devers, who pleaded not guilty in a court appearance on Friday, is being lionized for her stand in Britain’s feisty tabloids. If convicted, she could be fined as much as $130,000.
“It’s disgusting,” said Ms. Devers of the charges. “We have knifings. We have killings,” she said. “And they’re taking me to court because I’m selling in pounds and ounces.”
And, equally illegally, in bowls. Ten of the counts against her relate to purveying produce, such as hot Scotch-bonnet peppers, by the bowl.
The United Kingdom wrote an exemption into its measurements law to meet the EU metric requirement in 2000, as Brussels allowed. It stated that traders must use metric weights, but they could use imperial measures as well. The problem is that Ms. Devers allegedly didn’t have metric prices on all of her produce when she was charged late last year, and two of her scales only measured in pounds and ounces.
The British imperial system dates back at least to medieval times. Notable holdouts still using it are Britain and the U.S. It doesn’t help that the metric system was created over 200 years ago across the Channel in France, England’s ancient archrival.
Aversion to the metric system is one of many signs of the U.K.’s lingering reluctance to integrate with its continental neighbors. Britain shuns the euro in favor of the pound sterling, drives on the left-hand side of the road and has a tradition of “euroskeptic” politicians who thrill some sections of the public by bashing the Continent. . . .
Insulated from the chilly January day in a faux-fur- trimmed hat, Ms. Devers chatted up customers from behind her covered stall piled with eggplant, ginger, green beans (1 British Pound a pound for the beans). Though her signs currently carry prices in pounds as well as the equivalent in kilograms, she said her customers prefer pounds — and sometimes complain when she uses kilos that she’s trying to cheat them.
“I always shop in pounds,” said Sophia Levicki, a 60-year-old part-time shop clerk and a regular at Ms. Devers’s stall. “If it’s good enough and cheap enough, I’ll buy it,” she added, as she asked for two pounds of shiny, purple-skinned eggplant.
Nearby stall owner Mr. Lomax added prices in kilos as well as pounds to his signs after warnings from local authorities in recent years. “The customers don’t understand kilos,” he said. Like many stall owners he uses metric scales, which he got after the EU metric directive was introduced into U.K. law in 2000.
Ms. Devers’s trouble with the law began one Thursday this September, when two representatives from the local government council, accompanied by two policemen, came up to her stall and seized her imperial scales. They told Ms. Devers she was using illegal scales and that she wasn’t allowed to weigh in pounds and ounces, she said. “I was furious,” said Ms. Devers, who asked the police officers if the council was allowed to do that, to which they responded that it was.
Around Christmas, a 67-page letter landed in her mail. It outlined 13 criminal charges against her, including one charge of improper pricing of goods and two charges related to using imperial scales. She also faces 10 counts related to selling by the bowl.
“I think it’s so ridiculous,” she said, noting that pricing per bowl is common practice because customers perceive it as good value. “If they’re going to do me for bowls, they have to do the whole country.”
Alan Laing, an official with the local authority that is prosecuting Ms. Devers, said that “making sure traders comply with weights-and-measures legislation is also part of the job.”
Ms. Devers wouldn’t be the first to be pounded down by the metric law. Four market-stall owners — including her brother — lost an appeal to the High Court in 2002 for not using metric measurements. They received conditional discharge — which means no further action is taken as long as they don’t break the law again within a specific period of time. A group campaigning to pardon them is helping coordinate financing for Ms. Devers’s case and calls them “metric martyrs.”
It’s about “who governs Britain,” says campaigner Neil Herron, from Sunderland, England. . . .
Ms. Devers faces fines of up to $10,000 per charge, or a total of about $130,000. “It would ruin me,” said Ms. Devers, who declined to detail her earnings. She says she canceled a planned trip to New York with her twin sister, because having a criminal record could make entering the U.S. difficult.

Beware the metric jihadis. Consider me a fellow member of Al Anti-Metricaeda.

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15 Responses

Isn’t the metric system a product of the violent French Revolution? If so, why would anyone want to hang onto it?
I noticed when returning from abroad recently that ICE now makes all travelers to America on the immigration and customs form fill out their cards with the European version DD/MM/YYYY instead of the American way of MM/DD/YYYY (the way the cards always were until recently). On the cards ICE refuses to call our country its proper name, which is “America” or “United States of America,” obviously for fear of offending Latin Americans. They just call it “U.S.”
With this type of capitulation to political correctness, I don’t think we are too far behind Britain.

Gabe on January 22, 2008 at 1:27 pm

Fifteen years in the military and 23 years living across the river from Canada I got exposed to it and metric does make more sense. Decimals are easier than fractions, but, on matters like this they should grandfather people like her until she passes on. If her customers don’t complain what’s the problem?

John Cunningham on January 22, 2008 at 1:57 pm

“Isn’t the metric system a product of the violent French Revolution? If so, why would anyone want to hang onto it?”
Gabe there are many beneficial reasons to “hang onto ” the metric system and further abolish the Imperial system. Numerous miscalculations are made every day when converting from imperial to metric, costing companies big dollars. Metric is also the preferred unit system for science and engineering. I think the EU is right here in enforcing its laws.

jonny appleseed on January 22, 2008 at 4:26 pm

This is what GWB wants for the US by proposing the North American Union or SPP.
We too, will be governed by unelected bureaucrats just like the EU police that charged this woman for violating the metric scale law.
Resistance is futile

ScottyDog on January 22, 2008 at 5:04 pm

They tried to shove metric down our throats when I was in school. We don’t do metric here and we better not start.

lexi on January 22, 2008 at 5:14 pm

“I think the EU is right here in enforcing its laws.”
Comments like this make me fear for our own country.

DocLiberty on January 22, 2008 at 7:54 pm

Crazy old biddy. She’s had more than 30 years to get to grips with the metric system. At least her generation will soon be dead and we can concentrate on mocking americans for their ridiculous measurements. Life is change, get over it.

timdaw on January 22, 2008 at 9:55 pm

Government’s are more concerned with controlling their populations than with outside threats. To them – we are the threat.
I’m probably worse than this woman.
Right now were producing bootlegged soaps, deodorants, toilet paper, and a load of other contraband. The wife wants me to start experimenting with light bulbs now.
When these things are outlawed by leftists, then I’ll make more money than the Kennedy’s did with gin and moonshine.

bhparkman on January 22, 2008 at 11:24 pm

Born and raised in the USA. Now living in Israel for a very long time.
As someone else already said, the metric system is easier. Multiples of 10s. What’s to not like!
When in Rome, do as the Romans do. It’s normal of any society to establish laws of weights and standards. Break the law, be ready to get penalized.
There are a lot of things to laugh and cry about British law and politics. Contrary measurement systems is one of them. However, there was no reason this woman couldn’t follow the same standards already established years ago and already in practice in every other British store.
This story on its own is much ado about nothing. What kind of stupid logic is it to point out that there are unhandled homicides that are more important than business infrcations? Is that the kind of logic anyone here wants there society and enforcement system to be based on?
Debbie, assuming you were unfamiliar with the metric system? Would you be just as flexible if stores in Michigan decided to switch over to metric? If I were living there, I would be outraged for my fellow consumers. Why the pity for Ms. Dever’s obnoxious stubborness?

Shy Guy on January 23, 2008 at 2:06 am

What’s not to like, Shy Guy? Being bullied by the government into spending money on new measuring equipment in a business with extremely narrow profit margins and no demand for a new measurement system. What is the business case for forcing vegetable sellers to change to metric?
What is the rationale for persecuting this business operator for putting vegetables on sale “by the bowl”?
This is not about the superiority of one system over the other. It’s about freedom.

Brahim on January 23, 2008 at 5:37 am

“What’s not to like, Shy Guy?
I meant overall the metric versus the imperial measurement system, if you had to start from scratch and chose between them.
Being bullied by the government into spending money on new measuring equipment in a business with extremely narrow profit margins and no demand for a new measurement system. What is the business case for forcing vegetable sellers to change to metric?”
Standardization. Practicality. Consumerism.
Europe has been on the metric standard for ages. England does tons of business with Europe. England wants to blend in with Europe. Wether that is wise or not is a much bigger question but if the government does approve such an approach, this is to be expected.
And this wasn’t overnight and, yes, businesses do have to incur expenditures in order to comply.
What is the rationale for persecuting this business operator for putting vegetables on sale “by the bowl”?
Once again, a country enacts a law, allows time for compliance and someone doesn’t comply? That would be a law violation in any civilized country that I know of.
This is not about the superiority of one system over the other. It’s about freedom.
In most free societies, the citizens are still not above the law. For one person’s “freedom” might trample another person’s “rights”, in this case the rights of consumers to have a standard for weight measurement.
If the citizens of England feel otherwise, let them contact their representatives in Parliament to vote on either fully restoring the imperial standard or allowing weight by carrob seeds, for all I care. Same in any other country.
Again, try opening a stall in your place of residence, using the measurement system not in compliance with local law. See what happens.

Shy Guy on January 23, 2008 at 6:35 am

The EU has a constitution but no Bill of Rights like we have here. Our freedoms are unprecedented compared to the EU. Having a Solid foundation of laws such as the Constitution makes it impossible for the US to join such a farce as our law forbids it. However that doesn’t stop the globalists from trying anyway. Jorge Boosch is a traitor to his oath and so is the majority of Congress. For the last 100 years they enact law after law to restrict the freedoms that were won and enacted by our Founding Fathers 220 years ago.
I have no problem with understanding the metric system but so many do(I don’t understand why they do) but to me it’s about freedom and our guarantees under the Constitution thereof. If we were to use cubits instead of Imperial the last 2 centuries then so be it. Screw the metric system and screw the EU and screw you to all that would change a tradition.

warpmine on January 23, 2008 at 8:40 am

If we were to use cubits instead of Imperial the last 2 centuries then so be it.
That may be true but someone at some point would have passed a commerce law (city/state/federal) that would limit what system(s) of weights and measuresment are allowable. And in fact, that’s just what’s happened and a long time ago and lucky for all of us they didn’t chose cubits! And even better – there’s nothing unconstitutional about enacting such laws of commerce.
Screw the metric system and screw the EU and screw you to all that would change a tradition.
First you rant about freedom. Then you rant about tradition. Freedom should allow you to change tradition when the people of their elected representatives see fit to do so.
Remember the British shilling?
Same thing.
Maybe we should go to the other extreme to drive this point home. For all of your love of freedom and do-what-you-wanna-do (hey! what are you? a hippie or something?!) how would you feel if Brits who became US citizens started pricing their store merchandise throught the 50 states in pounds sterling? After all, it’s a free country, right? And no one’s forcing you to buy there. So, what’s wrong with that? Do you see where the opposite extreme of your lawless freedom will lead to?

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