UK

Iceland Deny Taking Men To Court Over Food Stolen From Bins

29/01/2014 12:42 GMT | Updated 29/01/2014 15:59 GMT

A man is due to stand trial for taking some thrown-away tomatoes, mushrooms and cheese from a supermarket bin.

Paul May, a freelance web designer, was allegedly caught stealing from dustbins behind a branch of Iceland.

He is expected to argue in court that he does not consider taking the food as illegal, because the food was going to be disposed of and he needed it to feed himself, the Guardian reported.

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The total value of the items taken allegedly amounted to £33, which were returned to the Iceland store.

The landmark case will require magistrates to consider "skipping" – where people take supermarket waste to cook and eat – and will raise important questions about why people are having to resort to the phenomenon.

It will also highlight the issue of how much supermarket food is being discarded, despite long campaigns to reduce the waste.

May, 35, along with Jason Chan and William James, all residents of a squat in Kentish Town, north London, were initially arrested for burglary, but were ultimately charged under an obscure section of the 1824 Vagrancy Act, after being discovered in "an enclosed area, namely Iceland, for an unlawful purpose, namely stealing food".

Lawyers for the three men have asked the Crown Prosecution Service to consider dropping the case, but the CPS said this month that the case would continue, citing “significant public interest in prosecuting these three individuals."

It appears Iceland are not keen for the case to go to court either, with CEO Malcolm Walker taking to Twitter to voice his concerns.