Frozen food firm Iceland has said its staff did not call police over three men alleged to have stolen waste food from bins.

Paul May, 35, along with Jason Chan and William James, who all live in a squat in north London, are facing prosecution over claims they took tomatoes, mushrooms, cheese and Mr Kipling cakes from bins behind a branch in Kentish Town.

The retailer said that the store is next to a police station and that officers had attended "on their own initiative".

It has asked the Crown Prosecution Service to explain why charges are being brought.

Details of the case were revealed in the Guardian newspaper, which reported that the stolen items were worth £33, and that the trio had been charged under the 1824 Vagrancy Act.

A statement on the Iceland website said: "The store in question is next door to a police station. Iceland staff did not call the police, who attended on their own initiative. Nor did we instigate the resulting prosecution, of which we had no knowledge until the media reports of it appeared yesterday evening.

"We are currently trying to find out from the Crown Prosecution Service why they believe that it is in the public interest to pursue a case against these three individuals, and will comment further when we are more fully informed."

A CPS spokesman said today: "I can confirm that Jason Chan, William James and Paul May have been charged with being found in or upon enclosed premises, contrary to section 4 of the Vagrancy Act 1824.

"The next hearing is 3 February at Highbury Magistrates' Court for trial.

"As usual, we will not be discussing the prosecution case in detail ahead of the trial."

The case highlights the the practice of "skipping", where people take goods such as food and clothes from bins in a bid to minimise waste.

The Guardian reported that May is expected to argue that he needed to feed himself and that the food was destined for landfill.