Brussels e-mail calls Metric Martyrs 'Luddites'

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The Independent Online

The European Commission is investigating the conduct of one of its Brussels staff who sent an abusive e-mail to the leader of the "Metric Martyrs" describing him and his members as a "bunch of fucking luddites".

The European Commission is investigating the conduct of one of its Brussels staff who sent an abusive e-mail to the leader of the "Metric Martyrs" describing him and his members as a "bunch of fucking luddites".

The e-mail was written on Monday 7 March at 5.55pm, by a British man working in the Commission's translation department and ends with the remark: "you luddites in england make me sick."

The message has provoked outrage among hundreds of supporters of the Metric Martyrs, who since 2000 have campaigned to retain imperial weights and measures. Neil Herron, the former fishmonger who heads the Metric Martyrs Defence Fund, said the e-mail was particularly offensive because it was sent to him on the anniversary of the death of Steve Thoburn, the greengrocer who was imprisoned in 2001 for selling bananas in pounds and ounces.

The Commission is investigating the behaviour of John Jones, the translator who admitted sending the e-mail. Mr Jones acknowledged the e-mail was "inappropriate" and said he would make a full apology. No decision had been taken in regard to disciplining Mr Jones but because Mr Jones's comments do not represent the views of the Commission, the affair was being treated as private and there would be no official apology from the Commission.

The e-mail goes on to claim the martyrs' case is weakened by the fact Australia and New Zealand have workable full metric systems and a number of metric units have been named after British scientists. Mr Jones claims: "imperialists are dead in the water ... Blocking progress and natural development is undemocratic and unpatriotic."

In an exchange of e-mails with Mr Herron, Mr Jones adds: "I don't suppose you see any link between the inexorable rise in living standards in the UK over the last 30 years and Britain's membership of the EU? Well, you wouldn't, would you. Imperialists I have spoken to invariably hate the EU and see metrication as a product of Brussels."

"Your motto is: don't confuse me with the facts, I've made up my mind. And, as for your insults, if you need to resort to them ... then you've really lost it, haven't you? So who's the real loser? Don't bother replying."

The e-mail

* youre a bunch of fucking luddites. Metric has to win cos thats what we learnt at school. Long live England. long live metric, with 5 metric units named after Uk scientists and 2 Uk directors of the metre bureau. The imperialists are dead in the water ... you luddites in england make me sick.