Topless Fish Saleswomen Legal in Liverpool

Status: Undetermined (though I'm assuming it's false, until proven otherwise)
Some of you may have read this claim before: "Topless saleswomen are legal in Liverpool, England, but only in tropical fish stores." I hadn't heard it before until I happened upon it on the blog of Cavan Scott who is (rightly, I think) quite skeptical of it. He's emailed the Liverpool county council to get their opinion about it, but my guess is that he probably won't get a reply. (Though I decided to send them an email too... they must be wondering why so many emails about topless fish clerks are pouring in.)

I then wasted a lot of time trying to track down the source of the claim. I quickly figured out that it's posted on (which is probably where everyone else on the internet learned about it), but they provide no references for it. So they could have just made it up. I then searched the Lexis-Nexis legal and news database for any mention of topless Liverpudlian fish saleswomen, but found nothing besides references to the dumb laws site. (No surprise there.) My wife, whose grandmother lives in Liverpool, had never heard of such a law. In other words, I can find absolutely no source, besides, to indicate that this Liverpool law is true. Which is why I'm labelling it as false, until proven otherwise. If it does happen to be true, I'd really like to know what the original reason for passing such a law was.


Posted on Thu Feb 02, 2006


Mostly this thread has got to the correct conclusion. However there is no such law as indecent exposure, it was repealed by the Sexual Offences Act 2003. The replacement should be called "Aggressive Exposure" because it is carefully worded to deal with flashers but avoid turning other nudity into a sexual offence. It isn't so people get mislead and assume that all nudity must be illegal.

The law does not say that it is illegal to cause offence, it says that it is illegal to do anything which is likely to cause offence (a very important difference). That is so vague (how offensive, how likely?) that to a large extent the police, CPS and Courts can make it up as they go along. Also, the definition of public place is very much wider than just visible from a highway.

I would not be at all surprised if there was a byelaw somewhere in the country similar to the Liverpool hoax. The enabling powers are are many, varied and often so broad that councils can make just about anything that they don't like illegal. For example there is one stretch of the UK coast with a byelaw requires swim suits to cover from neck to knees. I obtained a copy from the council solicitor to confirm it.
Posted by Malcolm Boura  in  British Naturism  on  Sun Mar 28, 2010  at  02:02 PM
This was mentioned in an episode of Bones, Season 4 episode 7 "The He in the She"... I found this site in a google search to see if it was true. smile)
Posted by Pickles  on  Mon Jun 28, 2010  at  09:23 AM
Have to check with my Scouse mates
Posted by Peter b  in  usa  on  Mon Jun 28, 2010  at  10:07 AM
I have found a text dating back to 1973 which makes reference to the subject. A local resident Mr Stanley Boardmen suggested that in the 1940's quite a number of Fish Shops in Liverpool were made topless. Furthermore he made acussations that Germans might have been responsible.
Posted by JonJo  in  Barnsley, York County, England  on  Thu Jul 01, 2010  at  04:07 PM
I saw this so called fact about topless saleswomen(I knew it was fake too) on a website that also had this fake fact: In 2004 the Olsen twins (Mary Kate And Ashley) business grossed over $1 billion. The Olsen twins have a lot of money but they aren't billionaires, and their various fashion and video schemes are not grossing anything close to that. But the liar who wrote this knows that it is hard to disprove, because a private company does not disclose how much it grosses per year. A huge percentage of people are just extremely gullible and believe any nutty email or website. Look, most people in this country believed 7 years ago that a country with no nuclear weapons (Iraq) was going to hit us with a nuclear weapon! That is impossible.
Posted by RCA  in  USA  on  Mon Nov 29, 2010  at  08:23 AM
Not saying if it's true or false but there is ALOT of laws in England which date back century's that arcade never been out lawed. So it could be a law that's never been flagged and therefore still technically enforced. There are some really funny ones out there.
Posted by Becky  in  Yorkshire, England  on  Tue Jun 12, 2012  at  06:14 PM
This was mentioned in and episode of Bones. Season 4 episode 7. Maybe that's why it's all over the net.
Posted by Paul Nelson  in  birch run, mi  on  Wed Jan 02, 2013  at  07:32 PM
Which is why this story was originally posted in February 2006, two and a half years before the "Bones" episode you're referring to (which initially aired in November 2008). Maybe the writers got the idea from this website? wink
Posted by Smerk  in  to mischief  on  Thu Jan 03, 2013  at  03:50 AM
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