London

Three accused of stealing food from Iceland store bins

Three men are to stand trial after allegedly taking cheese, tomatoes and cakes from bins behind an Iceland shop.

Paul May, William James and Jason Chan were arrested in Kentish Town, north London, in October. Iceland said its staff did not call the police.

At a court hearing in November, the men denied being found in or upon enclosed premises, contrary to section 4 of the Vagrancy Act 1824.

They will next appear at Highbury Magistrates' Court on 3 February.

'Waste and austerity'

The items allegedly taken from the store's bins amounted to a total value of £33 and included tomatoes, mushrooms, cheese and Mr Kipling cakes.

Mr May, 35, Mr James, 23, and Mr Chan, 31, all of no fixed address, are expected to say they had been "skipping" - a term used for taking food that would otherwise go to waste from a bin or skip.

Mike Schwarz from law firm Bindmans, who is representing the men, said: "The prosecutor's view that there is a significant public interest in expending public money to prosecute 'skippers' at times of shortage, waste and austerity, seems at best short-sighted, at worst perverse and certainly disproportionate.

"The defendants will say that they were not acting dishonestly."

In a statement, Iceland said: "The store in question is next door to a police station. Iceland staff did not call the police, who attended on their own initiative.

"Nor did we instigate the resulting prosecution, of which we had no knowledge until the media reports of it appeared yesterday evening.

"We are currently trying to find out from the Crown Prosecution Service why they believe that it is in the public interest to pursue a case against these three individuals, and will comment further when we are more fully informed."

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