Sheriff asserts court’s jurisdiction by finding independence campaigner guilty
Shetland’s self-styled independence campaigner, Stuart Hill, has lost his case aimed at challenging the UK’s jurisdiction over the isles.
Hill, 68, of Cunningsburgh, was found guilty of driving offences following a two-hour trial at Lerwick Sheriff Court today.
Hill, who in recent years established the so-called independent state of Forvik in Forewick Holm off Papa Stour, had denied driving two vans without tax, MOT or insurance on 15th June and 5th July. He had originally faced 12 charges, however the Crown only went ahead with six of those after hearing he had a valid driving licence.
He had used his case as a way of pushing across his argument the Crown could not rule over Shetland.
Hill repeatedly claimed unsuccessfully he had no case to answer.
He said the Mercedes vans, on which he had placed “Forvik” number-plates, had been used as “consular” vehicles.
He got off to a bad start with Sheriff Graeme Napier by going through the now-familiar routine of being reluctant to identify himself by name.
The two then got caught in an argument over whether the 1988 Road Traffic Act was a “law under God”.
Hill said Article Four of the 1707 Act of Union allowed him “full freedom and intercourse of movement from any port of place”.
And he annoyed the sheriff further by citing an “obscure” case against Sunderland City Council.
Taking to the stand he produced an insurance certificate issued from “Forvik State Insurance”, and argued it should be regarded as being just as valid as any other insurance document.
He told the sheriff: “In just the same way that a normal insurance policy is a bet, if you like, between the person and the insurance company, so is this [document] backed by the value of the isle of Forvik.”
He said he had been offered £8.2 million for the isle, but had refused to sell because he did not agree with the purpose for which it would be used.
Hill added: “I believe that to be sufficient backing.”
Questioned by procurator fiscal Duncan MacKenzie – who argued Hill had relied on “Google law” to state his case – Hill insisted he took “full responsibility” for his actions.
He told the court: “The whole purpose of my taking these actions is to challenge the jurisdiction of Scotland and the UK.”
However Mr MacKenzie described the documents submitted by Hill as “something you would find in the Ealing comedy Passport to Pimlico“.
“Mr Hill’s responses are an admission of guilt. He put these vehicles on the road without complying with the relevant acts or statutes.”
Finding him guilty, Sheriff Napier fined him £1,400 and imposed 12 penalty points on his licence, which means Hill will automatically be disqualified for six months under the totting up procedure.
But Hill, who was declared bankrupt after a civil action earlier this year, claimed he had nothing to spare from his £500 a month income. The sheriff decided to defer sentence until tomorrow for social workers to ascertain whether he would be suitable to carry out unpaid work.