Authorities turned a blind eye as a young campaigner sold illegally-imported dried fruit in defiance of international sanctions.

Matt Barr, from Chichester, sold half-pound boxes of Iraqi dates at the Peace And Environment Centre in Brighton yesterday without interference from officialdom.

Mr Barr, 21, said he risked a possible five-year prison sentence for defying a United Nations trade embargo on Iraq.

He is a member of campaign group Voices In The Wilderness, which wants the embargo lifted.

The dates were originally purchased by Italian charity Bridges To Baghdad from an Iraqi workers' co-operative.

UN sanctions have been in place against Iraq since the 1991 Gulf War.

Mr Barr said: "Under the sanction regime inflicted upon the innocent people of Iraq, there is no scope for exports, with the exception of oil. This denies Iraqi people the access to hard currency and foreign exchange which is so vitally important to reinflate their economy."

Mr Barr said there had been a lot of interest in the campaign from people buying dates from him.

He said: "It went very well. I spoke to quite a few people about the whole issue and what it is like in Iraq, where I have seen with my own eyes the poverty these sanctions are causing.

"I gave out quite a few leaflets and newsletters and managed to get home without being arrested."