Taking off your hat, carrying an uncaged bear and impersonating a Chelsea pensioner: Eight laws you didn't even know you were breaking!

Eight laws you didn't even know you were breaking!

Is one of these men a hardened criminal? No. No they aren't

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

A recently elected council member in Thetford, Norfolk, is challenging a bizarre 800-year-old law requiring women - and only women - to ask permission from the mayor to remove their hats indoors. 

Francesca Robinson, who came to office in the town in May 2015, described the ancient statute as "sexist and discriminatory", while current mayor Robert Kybird claims that the council is "just maintaining traditions". 

The law will be debated in a council meeting in June, and the row got Julia Hartley-Brewer thinking about what other peculiar laws we might all be breaking without even realising. 

CARRYING A PLANK ON A PAVEMENT 
"This goes back to Section 54 of the Metropolitan Police Act," explained Julia's guest, solicitor Mark Stephens, who has made a study of quirky legislation. "It says you’re not allowed to carry a plank along a pavement in London unless you happen to be unloading it from a vehicle.

"The ban includes casks, tubs, hoops, wheels, ladders, poles and other placards.”

IMPERSONATING A CHELSEA PENSIONER
"I assumed this was because people were dressing up as Chelsea pensioners to get free access to Stamford Bridge to watch Chelsea play," said Stephens, who was once described by the Law Society Gazette as the "patron saint of previously lost causes". 

LINGERING AT A FUNERAL 
Presumably this law does not include the deceased. 

"I've never quite worked out what this was all about," admitted Stephens. "Although it does explain why these days funeral directors advise you to buy a double booking so that you can linger over the flowers and pay your respects in a proper way." 

CARRYING UNCAGED BEARS IN COLORADO
While it's unlikely to bother too many people in the UK, you would not want to fall foul of this piece of very specific US legislation. 

"In Denver it is illegal to to carry an uncaged bear in the front seat of your truck," Stephens said. "Presumably they passed this law because some idiot did it.

"Interestingly, they didn’t make it illegal to carry an uncaged bear in a motor vehicle, so you can presumably carry it in your Chevrolet or your Dodge, just not in your truck."

HANDLING A SALMON IN SUSPICIOUS CIRCUMSTANCES
It sounds like a fishy tale, but this crime is covered by Section 32 of the Salmon Act of 1986, as our solicitor explains.

"There's a lot of dodgy salmon on the market," he said. "As a consequence there is a whole trade in unlawfully traded salmon."

IMPORTING POLISH POTATOES
Is this another thing for the Leave campaign to get their teeth into? Possibly not. The Polish Potatoes Order of 2004 was introduced following a nasty case of ring rot in tubers in the eastern European country, although there are numerous exceptions. 

"I expect now Polish potatoes have got free movement under European directives," Stephens said. 

URINATING ON THREE OF A TAXI'S FOUR WHEELS
"There is an old coaching law," Stephens told Julia, "that makes it perfectly permissable to urinate on the rear offside wheel of a London taxi.

"It goes back to the Hackney Carriages. If somebody on a long journey needed to relieve themselves, you knew which direction to avert your eyes from."

Here at talkRADIO we would not recommend you testing that last one out the next time you get caught short on a night out in London.