UK & World News
Iceland 'Bin Food Theft' Charges Dropped
Squatters accused of stealing waste food from bins outside an Iceland store have had charges against them dropped.
Paul May, Jason Chan and William James were facing prosecution under legislation dating back nearly 200 years, despite the frozen food retailer insisting it did not call police.
The three men were accused of stealing tomatoes, mushrooms, cheese and Mr Kipling cakes from bins behind a branch in Kentish Town, northwest London.
The items allegedly taken were worth £33, according to a report in The Guardian.
The store is next to a police station and Iceland said officers attended "on their own initiative".
After it was asked by the supermarket to explain why charges had been brought, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said it had decided a prosecution was "not required in the public interest".
A spokesman for the CPS said: "While the decision to charge was taken by the Metropolitan Police, a subsequent review of the case by the CPS did not give due weight to the public interest factors tending against prosecution.
"In reconsidering this case, we have had particular regard to the seriousness of the alleged offence and the level of harm done. Both of these factors weigh against a prosecution.
"Additionally, further representations received today from Iceland have affected our assessment of the public interest in prosecuting."
The case highlights the practice of 'skipping', where people take goods such as food and clothes from bins in a bid to minimise the amount of waste taken to landfill.
The CPS said it was willing to review decisions such as the charges brought against Mr May, Mr Chan and Mr James, adding it would "take appropriate and swift action when necessary".
"We are committed to bringing the right charges to court when, and only when, it is proper to do so," the spokesman said.
Bindmans, the law firm which represented the three men, said that it was pleased that the case had been discontinued.
They said the men had taken the food to eat.
"They planned to plead not guilty, arguing that they were not acting dishonestly - a defence we felt confident the court would agree with at this time of austerity, food banks, food waste and profligacy by supermarkets," the statement said.
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