Shetland independence campaigner Stuart Hill will face trial for alleged motoring offences after the isles sheriff today rejected his challenge to the court’s jurisdiction.
Hill, 68, of Cunningsburgh, had claimed he could not be prosecuted at Lerwick Sheriff Court because the Crown had no authority in Shetland. The isles, he suggested, were never “properly” handed over to Scotland when they were pawned by the Danish crown in 1469.
But Sheriff Graeme Napier dismissed his arguments, saying Hill had been “deluded by a romantic and unrealistic view” of the way the relationship between Shetland and Scotland had developed over the centuries.
On Tuesday Hill tendered a preliminary plea insisting he did not recognise the court’s authority. He said neither the Scottish nor the UK government had authority over Shetland.
But he raised eyebrows when he refused to confirm his name to the sheriff’s clerk. Pressed, he said he was “Stuart, of the family Hill”.
It was only after a short break during which Hill was taken into custody that the hearing began in earnest.
It was continued until today to allow Sheriff Napier to consider Hill’s “voluminous” 71-page submission.
At the end of a two-hour hearing this afternoon the sheriff pointed to the passing of the Act of the Scots Parliament on 20th February 1472 as evidence that Shetland became part of Scotland.
And he agreed with the assertion made by procurator fiscal Duncan MacKenzie that no challenge had been made by Denmark or Norway to Scotland for the right to take control of the isles, “despite the wealth of the fishing grounds and oil interests off the Shetland shores”.
“It seems to me that Mr Hill has seriously misguided himself as to the inferences to be drawn from the various historical events,” said the sheriff. “I do not propose to discuss these in detail, such detail is of more interest to historians than a 21st century jurist.”
Hill is charged with 12 motoring offences alleged to have taken place between 15th June and 5th July.
He is alleged to have driven without insurance, tax, driver’s licence or MOT. He is also charged with obstructing police by locking himself in his vehicles.
On hearing his plea preliminary plea had been unsuccessful, Hill refused to tender a plea to the charges.
A not guilty plea was tendered on his behalf, and a trial date was fixed for 16th November. An intermediate diet has been fixed for 19th October.