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Citrus justice

The Great British public love to consider themselves as law-abiding citizens.

10 July 2015

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Yet a new study has revealed that the average denizen of these fair isles revels in breaking the law of the land a staggering 17 times per year.

Among the laws Britons love to break are speeding, having sex in a public space, and - every intellectual property lawyer's favourite - illegally downloading music, films, or television shows.

Also on the list is dropping litter, with over one in three of us admitting to discarding the odd bit of rubbish on the nation's streets, highways, and byways.

Littering is a big issue for councils. The charity Keep Britain Tidy warned in 2013 that around 250,000 pieces of litter were dropped every day. It also predicted that the cost of cleaning up was set to pass the £1bn mark for the first time.

Nonetheless, when Luke Gutteridge unintentionally dropped a penny-sized piece of orange peel, the last thing he expected was to become embroiled in a nine-month-long legal battle with the Broxbourne Borough Council.

Gutteridge had deposited the majority of his unwanted citrus fruit's skin in a bin when a council worker with too much time on their hands reprimanded him for leaving a small portion behind.

The former salesman was served with a £75 fine from the council and warned that if he didn't pay he would be taken to court. Unfortunately for the council, Gutteridge fought the case and won. Magistrates accepted the defence that littering is only considered a crime if it is intentional.

Having lost the case, Broxbourne Borough Council must pay its own legal fees of an estimated £4,000. To compound matters, Gutteridge has requested his own £4,000 fees are also paid by the council.

It appears, in this instance, that Broxbourne Borough Council has slipped in a mess of its own making.

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