Such howls of derision greeted the news last week, that Hackney has been prosecuting Dalston's Ridley Road market trader Janet Devers, that the government has stepped in. Stepped in what? You might ask.
Janet defended herself at her sixth appearance before the Courts last week on charges of not displaying kilos when selling fresh salad and veg in pounds and ounces or by the bowl or the bunch. Like the other "metric martyrs" before her, she was convicted. Janet was given a conditional discharge - the minimum possible punishment. Four further charges still await a jury trial.
Hackney's prosecutors, despite being ridiculed in the national press as "jobsworths" and "petty bureaucrats", expressed satisfaction with the outcome. Perhaps their satisfaction was with the order that Janet must pay them £4,800 in legal costs. Hackney has lost tens of thousands of pounds of public money pursuing Janet and other market traders through the Courts.
It seemed as though the Hackney disease had become contagious. In Doncaster the local Council is threatening to prosecute a Polish restauranteur because draught beer imported in litres is not being sold in pint glasses. The European Vice-President has been quick to confirm that it's not the EU's knickers that are in a twist.
Hackney has been going bananas in Ridley Road market. But it's prosecutions policy has now gone pear shaped. Announcing new guidance, which will effectively restore imperial measurements, the Government's Minister for Innovation (sic) has declared Hackney's prosecutions to be "not in the public interest". Janet said she was pleased with this development and that "Hackney got more than they bargained for when they came to my stall that day."
Latest News: Hackney Council has still not restored the electric lighting to Ridley Road market stalls which it cut off last May. Traders are relying on generators and local shops for power. Now Hackney has given traders 14 days to get out of the market's coldstore (recently identified as a "development opportunity site") which, it says, has to be demolished.
For more about Ridley Road market click here
Watch the video
Neneh Cherry and Andi Oliver buy some bunches of callaloo from Janet Devers in Ridley Road. It's the home of the bargain!