A campaign group is defying United Nations sanctions by selling dates grown in Iraq.

Voices In The Wilderness, which campaigns for sanctions against Iraq to be lifted, said it would be selling the fruit in half-kilo boxes in Brighton and Hastings today.

The dates were imported into Britain, through Italy, by a team from the campaign group, including Matt Barr from Chichester. They were produced by a worker's co-operative in Baghdad.

Under the terms of the UN sanctions, Iraq is not allowed to export any goods for money, except through the oil for food programme.

Mr Barr, 21, who was due to be selling dates at The Peace And Environment Centre in Gardner Street, Brighton, said the sanctions denied the Iraqi people the right to basic economic activity and were causing poverty and hardship.

Mr Barr said he and fellow campaigners would be risking arrest by breaking the UN sanctions and might be committing a further offence by selling the produce on.

If arrested and convicted of sanctions-breaking, he said the campaigners could be sentenced to up to five years in prison. But it was a risk he was prepared to take.

He said: "By selling these dates, we are addressing the key issue in the humanitarian crisis in Iraq, the deflated economy, which is due to economic sanctions.

"Having born witness to the humanitarian crisis in Iraq with my own eyes, I whole heartily support and encourage members of the British public to participate in this action, as it is in our names that this crisis was created, perpetuated and now maintained."

Members of Voices In The Wilderness were also selling Iraqi dates today in Hastings, London, Manchester, Bradford, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Bristol, York, Cardiff, Derbyshire, Liverpool, Berwick, Nailsworth, Oxford and Brentwood.