A greengrocer has been threatened with court action because his traditional street touting cry "Bananas of 50p a pound" is too loud.

Kevin Thoburn has ben warned if he doesn't tone down his sales patter he will face legal action.

Kevin, brother of Metric Martyr Steve Thoburn, was issued the threat after a neighbouring accounts firm complained the shouts interfere with their work.

His shouted slogans, which have rang out in city streets for decades, have been branded a "noise nuisance".

And now he has been told if he doesn't shut up he will be gagged by the court.

The 40-year-old said: "I've never heard anything so ridiculous. Market traders across decades have sold their fruit and veg in this method and no one has ever complained like this.

"It strikes at the very heart of our way of life. It affects every trader in the country.

"How could my shouted slogans be too loud? It's only my voice. I'm not using a microphone or speakers. I've done this for years. This is just madness."

Kevin, who has been a greengrocer for 25 years, received a complaint from bosses at Staughan and Co, his upstairs neighbours at his store in Chester-le-Street Co. Durham, in November.

"They said I was disturbing their work. I'm just going about my business. I'm not trying to prevent them from doping their job."

When he carried on with shouted slogans he was hit with an official solicitors letter last week warning if he didn't tone down the so-called "verbal advertising" he would be taken to court.

Newcastle based solictors Anderson and Hagie, acting on behalf of the building landlords, say is beaching his lease by being a noisy neighbour.

Durham County Council chiefs are also investigating the noise complaint, as well as allegations that fruit boxes outside the shop are causing an obstruction.

The threats come as Kevin's brother, Steve, awaits a Court of Appeal decision in his bid to overturn his prosecution for selling a pound of bananas.

The Metric Martyr, voted Campaigner of the Year, was given a conditional discharge and was fined for selling fruit and veg weighed on imperial scales.

Kevin, who is married to wife Yvonne, 26, and has an eight-month-old baby son, Kyle, fears that his court threat could even escalate if his traditional trade calls are classed as adverts and should be therefore in metric measurements.

He said: "I fear this lunacy could escalate and what happened to Steve could happen to me.

"We call this chanting and our customers love it. But if it is being classed as verbal advertising I might have to do that in metric.

"Can you imagine how ridiculous it will sound shouting "bananas 50p for 2.2 kilos."

"Nobody ever thought Steve would find himself in court for selling a pound of bananas. But the same thing could happen to me."

Brother Steve added: "It's another example of beaurocracy gone barmy. And the ordinary working man is treated like a criminal for trying to earn a living."