By NEIL RIDDELL
A SMALL part of Shetland will “become” a Crown dependency this weekend, according to maverick udal law campaigner Stuart “Captain Calamity” Hill.
Mr Hill recently acquired Forwick Holm, a 2.5 acre island just south of Papa Stour, from Papa resident Mark King. He has rechristened it Forvik and is claiming that it may hold the key to fundamental changes in Shetland and possibly the UK.
Satellite image of Papa Stour with Forewick Holm lying just offshore.
By Digital Globe, courtesy of Google Earth.
Papa Stour residents had been puzzled over the past few weeks after Mr Hill arrived on the ferry with a large quantity of timber and began building a flat-bottomed boat at the pier, which he has since used to travel to and from Forvik, where he has apparently installed his own generator.
But all became clear this week as Mr Hill revealed his plans for Forvik, which he said would recognise the Queen as its head of state insofar as the “limited” rights and privileges that were granted to the Crown by the pawning of Shetland in 1469 applied – he disputes Norway’s pledge of Shetland to Scotland as a royal dowry payment. There are three existing Crown dependencies within the UK, namely Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man.
In his declaration of “direct dependence” for the island, Mr Hill called on Shetland residents to join with him in setting up a “true and just administration” based on the principles of democracy to “ensure the elected representatives carry out the wishes of the people” and also invited anyone who shares his ideals to join their properties with Forvik in a federation.
Stuart “Captain Calamity” Hill.
Forvik will be declared a crown dependency tomorrow and will not be subject to any taxes levied by the UK government, Mr Hill claimed. He said the only tax would be a contribution by every citizen towards the cost of running the state, initially set at a level of one Forvik gulde per year – a “bargain” price of around £55 in today’s money.
Mr Hill has outlined a host of ambitious plans for the island, which he said would have its own coinage backed by gold, its own stamps and will even offer to register companies in a tax-free environment.
Offshore banking and financial services, he claimed, may follow at a later date. The island, he added, will also set down a claim to the sea and seabed up to a limit of 200 miles, or to the median line between it and other states.
He also maintained that Shetland itself has a right to these opportunities but “currently chooses to follow the unsubstantiated claims of the British government that it is part of Scotland”.
Mr Hill, 65, first came to prominence in 2001 when he was the cause of eight emergency call-outs while making his way up to Shetland from his native Essex on a 14ft boat, earning himself the nickname “Captain Calamity”. He was also the man behind the Shetland Independent Newsletter, which was launched last May and circulated widely throughout the isles, but the freesheet was forced to cease publication due to financial difficulties before the year was out.
Earlier this year, Mr Hill was set to use a small claims dispute with an accountancy firm in Lerwick to challenge Britain’s sovereignty over Shetland before having a last-minute change of heart and deciding to settle out of court. But he still claims to have evidence that the Crown never acquired ownership of the isles from Norway, an assertion which has been strongly rebutted by historians including archivist Brian Smith, whom Mr Hill has accused of suppressing the truth about Shetland’s past.
“Many people here in Shetland know that there’s something wrong here, but it’s difficult to put a finger on it,” said Mr Hill. “My studies of the legal and constitutional position over the past five or six years tell me that a fraud has been perpetrated on Shetland at the highest level of government.
“Shetland’s unique history has made it impossible for it to have been incorporated into the realm of Great Britain, or Scotland before that. Shetland’s relationship with the UK is based on the assumption that it is part of Scotland. That assumption is based on deception at the highest level, has been achieved by subterfuge and nobody can give a date on which it happened.”
As part of his declaration, Mr Hill invited “any suitable person from any country in the world” who supports the aim of becoming “free of liars, thieves and tyrants in government” to become a citizen of Forvik.
However, the official response from London suggests Mr Hill’s declaration is likely to fall on deaf ears.
A ministry of justice spokeswoman told The Shetland Times: “Under the UK constitution, Forvik is part of the Shetland Islands, which is subject to UK legislation.
“The people of Shetland pay taxes to the United Kingdom exchequer and elect MPs to the UK parliament. Forvik is an integral part of the UK.”
But it is understood that there are currently no plans afoot in the corridors of Whitehall to launch an invasion to reclaim the island.
Mr Hill, who said he has made representations to the SIC asking for their backing and legal support for a campaign which he believes could lead to Shetland harvesting all the benefits from the remaining oil in the North Sea, looks no more likely to receive a favourable hearing locally either.
Convener Sandy Cluness said he was not aware of any such approach, but added: “I would, essentially, ignore him. I have to admire his spirit, but in the real world, we have to go another route, I think. Somebody said the other day that to realise his dreams he would need to take up permanent residence.”
But will the eccentric would-be King of Forvik, who lives in the South Mainland but has been working on constructing his official residence on the island throughout the past week, be allowed back into Shetland if he does set up permanent camp on the isolated rocky outcrop? “We might have to see his passport, I guess,” said Mr Cluness.
Mr Hill has also created a “flag” for Forvik, which is essentially the Shetland flag with a shield in the centre bearing the Norwegian lion rampant holding a scroll and the inscription “Med logum skal land buggja”, which means “By the laws the land will be built”.
You can find out more about Forvik tomorrow when Mr Hill launches a new website, www.forvik.com, which he says will give a fuller account of his plans.