Shetland’s self-styled independence campaigner Stuart Hill has been made bankrupt in a civil action at Lerwick Sheriff Court. But he immediately vowed to make an appeal to the Court of Session.
London debt agency First Credit Limited sued Mr Hill for £11,661.05 on Tuesday. The company, acting as a collection agency for The Royal Bank of Scotland, filed a petition calling for the sequestration of Mr Hill’s estates.
Mr Hill made no response to the complaint, instead re-iterating his long-held belief that neither Scottish nor UK governments have jurisdiction over Shetland.
Sheriff Philip Mann insisted there was no way he could agree with Mr Hill’s view.
In a genial exchange, he said: “If you’re correct I might as well just close up my computer, fold up my papers and walk out now, because all these people [in the court] would potentially have the same argument you would have.
“The people of Shetland have accepted the jurisdiction of this court for hundreds of years. This is the first time someone has come to challenge the jurisdiction of the court in the way you have done.
“As a matter of international law, Scottish courts and Scottish lawmakers have undisputed jurisdiction, and I don’t see how I can competently make a ruling that I’m sitting here incompetently.
“It seems to me the correct way for you to proceed with this is for me to exercise the jurisdiction claimed by this court. If you are unhappy with the decision I make … you should appeal to a higher court.
“Your problem is if you are appealing to the Sheriff Principal you are appealing to a court which, you say, will suffer the same disabilities as this one would.”
Mr Hill said his case would have to be dealt with by an “international court” if he was to receive a fair hearing.
However Sheriff Mann warned: “I can’t allow a situation that would mean that justice in the isles of Shetland is put on hold until you have had an opportunity to make your point in an international court.
“I don’t want to cut you short in your argument, but I see no point in having detailed arguments at this stage. At the end of the day I would say that there’s nothing you could say that would persuade me that this court does not have jurisdiction to try this matter on the basis that you are putting forward.”
Asked what his position was on the case itself, Mr Hill said he had nothing to say. He confirmed to the court he was offering no defence, and was not offering the payment of any sum.
Sheriff Mann said: “In that case, I am bound to grant the sequestration, which I will do.”
But the sheriff wished him “best of luck” if he carried through his intention to appeal to the Court of Session.
The case was held just a month after the 68-year-old from Cunningsburgh last appeared in court, when he claimed he could not be prosecuted because the Crown had no jurisdiction in Shetland.
The isles, he said, had not been properly handed over to Scotland when they were pawned by the Danish crown in 1469.
At the time Sheriff Graeme Napier described Mr Hill as “deluded”.