Embarrassing (Jonathan Wills)
Well, this is embarrassing: Andrew Halcrow is right.
In the heat of the moment, responding to rapid-fire questions on Radio Shetland last Thursday night, I made a mistake.
What I should have said, but did not, is that although Viking Energy will have legal bills through being represented as an interested party at the judicial review in the Court of Session, because Viking Energy is not the target of the action, it doesn’t face the huge costs that the Scottish government or Sustainable Shetland might have if they were to lose.
But, as Andrew rightly points out, Sustainable Shetland has won an exemption so the taxpayers will meet its costs above a certain amount if the judge decides the wrong way (or the right way, depending on your point of view).
Anyway, I’m sorry if I made a misleading statement but I do assure Andrew it was not intentional. To err is human and to forgive divine. I hope he and his colleagues will forgive me.
I should perhaps explain that I was not on the “Public Platform” on behalf of Viking Energy, for which I cannot and do not speak. I was taking questions as a trustee of Shetland Charitable Trust, whose lawyers are keeping a watching brief on the case.
Any legal fees for the trust are, in my opinion, the fault of Sustainable Shetland for going to court in the first place. That cost is, however, negligible in relation to the potential costs of this “spoiler” legal action to the wider public purse, in the form of the Scottish government.
I’ve again been criticised for pointing out the obvious fact that the purpose in applying for a judicial review was to sabotage the wind farm. What else did Andrew have in mind? It’s also obvious that, if Sustainable Shetland succeeds, it may sabotage the Shetland community’s chance to earn millions of pounds for local charitable objects.
To satirise Sustainable Shetland by calling it “Sabotage Shetland” is therefore well within the bounds of robust debate, as routinely practised at Andrew Halcrow’s highly entertaining Althing sessions (where humourless zealots rarely win the vote).