By NEIL RIDDELL
The man who says he is the rightful owner of Forewick Holm, or Forvik, has expelled udal law campaigner Stuart Hill from the island, which he claims was in fact not his to give away in the first place.
In response to Mr Hill’s comments in last week’s Shetland Times, Papa Stour resident Mark King said it was time to “put a permanent end to his career of misrepresentation and mischief”. He said Mr Hill had been made aware that he had a mortgage on the property which “serves to prevent me from giving the island away to him, or to anyone at all”.
Mr Hill responded by saying he would “consider my options” but that Forvik – which he proclaimed as a crown dependency – was only a symbolic part of his campaign challenging the authorities to prove that Shetland is legally part of the UK, adding that having received a letter from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) saying they would not be pursuing a £1,200 VAT bill he owes. He is still hoping to have a legal confrontation after refusing to pay council tax for his building on the island.
He said he had no intention of paying the council tax bill of just over £200 to the SIC after the local authority assessed the small building or “official residence” he had erected on Forvik, because the council is an arm of the UK government which he refuses to recognise. It could lead to the court battle which he has been trying to provoke for the past year or so.
But Mr King said the provisions of both Scots law and udal law served to prevent him giving away any part of his mortgaged property on Forvik and he had “now been made aware of the fact that Mr Hill deliberately chose to withhold this very important information from those people who were his own witnesses to the document that he now claims to be lawful.”
He continued: “The reality is that Mr Hill has been living on his wits for many years and most recently has been attempting to portray himself as some kind of local messiah, whilst using other people’s money to pay for a wannabe lifestyle.
“In addition to the deliberate mischief that has been practiced against me and against other people of genuine intent, Mr Hill has taken substantial sums of money from innocent people.
“Unlike Mr Hill, I do not pretend to the exalted position of being above the rules of decency, morality and the law, and because I have no such pretence I am entirely confident that my own position will be upheld by the law, and that Mr Hill will now find himself without the ability to defend himself against those actions that I am now taking in defence of myself and others.”
After a three-month delay, having threatened him with legal action over his VAT bill, Mr Hill has received a letter from the tax man saying that all penalties have been cancelled. “This is extraordinary,” he said. “The only reason I have given for non-payment is that I am not subject to UK tax law because I live in Shetland. Their climb-down is tantamount to an admission that I have a good case. This is only a small victory, but I feel I’ve won the first skirmish in what may be a long battle.”
Mr Hill said he would now be demanding repayment of money paid to HMRC since he became resident in Shetland and said he would be more than willing to help anyone who wishes to follow his example.
Responding to his apparent expulsion from Forvik, he said: “These words come from a man willing to sign a document to give me something he apparently does not own. Ironic when this is exactly what the Crown did with Shetland and what my campaign is about. I have tried to resolve this matter with Mr King in an amicable way, but he seems bent on wrecking the Forvik project. My fight is with the UK authorities, not anyone in Shetland.”
Mr King said a notice was now being displayed on Forvik and that Mr Hill’s building is being dismantled after he had failed to remove it himself having received a warning from Mr King.
Referring to the difficulties inherent in reaching the tiny outcrop – Mr Hill himself had to be rescued by the coastguard last autumn – Mr Hill responded: “If Mr King has been on the island [recently] he’s a braver man than I am.”