Taken in by sideshow (Stuart Hill)

It’s time Shetland stopped being taken in by the sideshow of the Scottish referendum. Whether Scotland votes yes or no for its independence is a matter of interest for Shetland, but nothing more – it’s not our business.

In 2009 I put an old Land Rover on the road with Forvik number plates, Forvik “tax disc” and Forvik documentation. Although the police seized the car and destroyed it, they brought no charges – which was strange enough. They referred the matter of the Forvik “tax disc” to the DVLA, who also declined to take any action.

Last Friday (31st January) a car in England with Forvik number plates and documentation was towed away from outside the owner’s house. The owner reported it to the police as stolen and was told the DVLA had removed it.

He called the DVLA and gave them the contact details for the Forvik Vehicle Licensing Authority. He then got an anonymous phone call saying the DVLA had dumped the car in a nearby car park. Seemingly the DVLA does not want to be in the position of justifying the UK’s authority in Shetland.

Both Scotland and the UK want us to think we are part of Scotland because they both see us as a cash-cow. However, neither is able to prove that we are part of Scotland. Everything is based on a presumption that has no basis in law. It’s only kept in place because we don’t question it.

There is no evidence to show that Shetland is not already independent, and the evidence in mounting that it is. So, don’t vote “yes”. Don’t vote “no”. Just ask “Why?”

Stuart Hill


Add Your Comment
  • Matthew Simpson

    • February 7th, 2014 14:28

    So if there’s no proof that Shetland belongs to Scotland then shouldn’t we default back to Norway?

  • John Tulloch

    • February 7th, 2014 17:46

    Alternatives are possible.

    The Aland Islands in the Baltic Sea are autonomous under Finnish sovereignty while the Swedish language and customs of the inhabitants are protected in the Finnish constitution.

    Such an arrangement i.e. self-government with Norwegian sovereignty and the local language and customs protected in law, would be particularly beneficial for Shetland which would find itself, geographically, linguistically and politically, at the fulcrum of a vast North Atlantic trading area stretching from Greenland to London to the Northern Baltic and Arctic Ocean.

    Not to mention the step improvements in local democracy and concern for the maintenance and development of rural/remote communities which would, incidentally, accrue.

    Obtaining most of these benefits needn’t necessitate so radical a course as returning to Norwegian sovereignty, however, it would necessitate a radical shift in the mindsets of the Scottish Government and Shetland Islands Council to whom, it seems, democracy is a minor inconvenience to be nonchalantly wafted aside as deemed expedient.

    Alternatively, if Stuart Hill is right – and while not an historian, I am, as yet, unable to quibble his research – Shetlanders may be able, simply, to declare their own independence.

    If Hill’s anecdote about the Forvik licence disc is accurate, it would appear to substantiate his assertions about the weakness of Scottish/UK legal (de jure) sovereignty (let’s face it, the rest of us would have been given short shrift by the DVLA!).

    Ultimately, of course, Shetlanders’ ‘right to self-determination’ would be expected to trump the ambition of Scottish/UK politicians and the ‘ball is very much at islanders’ own feet’.

  • kevin sandison

    • February 7th, 2014 19:28

    Comment from a man who has done nothing but make a fool of him self and this island. Leave it be.

  • Joe Johnson

    • February 7th, 2014 20:35

    Mr Hill, you are living in a dream world. Whether you like it or not Shetland is part of Scotland. what really makes me laugh is the fact that you are not a shetlander yourself! you are from England. What if your boat ended up in Orkney? I wonder if you ended up there, would you campaign for Orkney independence? Get a grip on reality Mr.Hill.

    • John Tulloch

      • February 8th, 2014 17:33

      Have you read Stuart Hill’s research, Joe, it sounds to me as if you are commenting – like Kevin Sandison – in ignorance?

      The reason I say this is because Stuart Hill regularly states that, although, his comments pertain directly to Shetland, whose circumstances he has studied in detail, that much the same also applies to Orkney.

      Furthermore, anyone who has read Stuart Hill’s research, be he right or mistaken would not call him ‘a fool’.

      I await, with interest, a credible rebuttal of Hill’s claims.

      • Steven Jarmson

        • February 25th, 2014 19:25

        I think, not 100% sure though, the treaty of Utrecht left the situation of Shetland unfinished, but Queen Mary of Scotland went on ahead and made Shetland a “normal” area of Scotland and was hence treated as such there after.
        I agree that perhaps Stuart Hill is technically correct. But, I similarly agree that Shetland doesn’t need his take, week in week out on the subject.
        Foe better or worse, Shetland is part of Scotland and the UK. I keep hearing a certain fishy politician saying this wouldn’t be fair or that wouldn’t be fair. Shetland being part of Scotland isn’t terribly fair, but lets face it, life isn’t fair!!!
        Also, just want to ask a question to Mr Hill. Do you get your UK pension paid to you whilst you’re living in Shetland??
        If you do then you should feel lucky we’re part of the UK as with the UK being in the EU, EU law applies in this area. If Shetland wasn’t part of the UK/EU, then there would be a chance you might not get your UK pension paid whilst living here.
        I know of cases of people living outside the EU who don’t get their pensions as the UK doesn’t need to pay them as they live abroad, which I assume Mr Hill wants Shetland to be??

  • John Tulloch

    • February 7th, 2014 20:39

    Stuart Hill’s claims can’t be lightly dismissed (they were by Lord Pentland in the RBS v Stuart Hill court case), without an open, unbiased inquiry, by historical/legal academics, Scandinavian as well as Scottish/British, to establish the true position.

    Such a study is unlikely to be held before the Scottish independence referendum and it follows that Shetlanders (and Orcadians) must be made aware of the possible consequences of their voting.

    In particular, should Scotland become independent, a ‘Yes’ vote by Shetland for Scottish independence might be misinterpreted as Shetlanders exercising their ‘right to self-determination’ (per United Nations Charter), thus ending five hundred and fifty years of illegality and handing legal (de jure) sovereignty to Alex Salmond on a plate.

    As long as Shetlanders (all residents) are made aware of that, I have no problem with them deciding to vote that way, however, it is important to realise that by doing so, you may be giving away your and your descendants’ sovereignty over the isles for nothing in return.

    Such rights should only be surrendered by negotiation and a separate referendum in the isles.

    It is essential, therefore, that the Scottish referendum be declared non-prejudicial to Shetlanders’ legal position over historical sovereignty issues.

    The Scottish and Shetland authorities need to clarify the position, I suggest, with some urgency.

    • Steven Jarmson

      • February 25th, 2014 19:28

      So what about when we vote in UK, WU and Scottish elections?

      • John Tulloch

        • February 25th, 2014 21:39

        Steven, a good question.

        In my opinion:

        Briefly, ordinary elections don’t involve a change of sovereignty so there’s no logical reason why Shetlanders voting in them should affect the pawning/sovereignty conundrum.

        The referendum, conversely, is inextricably linked to Scottish sovereignty of land and seas.

  • David Spence

    • February 7th, 2014 22:48

    No Offence meant here, but Shetland and the people who reside within these islands will do absolutely nothing in regards to questioning whether Scotland has a legal and (UK) Constitutional right to these islands because the typical mindset of a Shetlander is to do nothing, if it involves rocking the boat, creating waves or disturbing the status quo to which they are used too……and do not want to change…….even if it meant that the islands and who governs them would be better for Shetland and the people who live within them.

    Everybody mocks and makes a fool of Mr Stuart Hill, but they are not strong enough to stand up and say ‘ Yes, he may have a point. Lets pursue this further and see if Shetland can have greater control of its territory and, more importantly, who indeed should rightfully have jurisdiction for the greater good of the islands and its people.’.

    Ahhhhhh but we have no control because Shetland is rich in oil and gas, and we do not own that or the monies it brings to Scotland and the UK…………..so……….typical reaction……..We’ll do nothing about it……just lets things be what they may be without questioning our true identity and heritage.

  • kevin sandison

    • February 8th, 2014 13:33

    Well said joe. As for mr.spence your comments are well off the mark. As a shetlander born and bred I do care about shetland and its future, I know where it lies and its not on our own. Perhaps mr.hill has a spare bed for you on his island paradise.

    • John Tulloch

      • February 8th, 2014 17:47

      @Kevin Sandison, are you reading the comments, or just waiting for another opportunity to have an uninformed ‘go’ at Stuart Hill?

      No it wasn’t, at all, ‘well said’ by Joe. Joe discounts Stuart’s evidence because he is an Englishman!

      I think we need more to convince us that Stuart Hill is mistaken than him being an Englishman and being told that YOU KNOW ‘it (Shetland’s future) is not on our own’, without a single syllable of argument to back up either of the two of your thoughtless assertions.

  • David Spence

    • February 8th, 2014 17:52

    Well Joe and Kevin, you may seem to think that the Shetland and Orkney Islands are rightfully Scotland’s (which I think you will find it very difficult to prove) as a consequence of the marriage of Princess Margaret of Denmark to James III of Scotland in 1469, but if you care to look in detail, as far as I am aware, in regards to the marriage arrangement prior to the event itself, the Shetland and Orkney Islands were only loaned to Scotland as part of the dowry payment and not given to Scotland either in part or whole in which for it (Scotland) to claim solely as its own.

    ‘ The islands of Orkney and Shetland, possessions of the Norwegian crown, were pledged as security until the dowry was to be paid ‘.


    ‘ The Danish Queen claims to have in her possession authenticated copies of the 1575-7 Orkney & Shetland Lawbooks which allow the islands to revert to their previous territorial possession under the Kalmar Union.

    Every copy of these books were believed destroyed by an agent of the Scottish crown, Patrick Stuart, around 1579.

    But acclaimed Danish historian Olaf Gerritupyeson discovered copies of the books in the Soviet wartime archives in Moscow.

    He believes the Nazis looted the historical lawbooks after the occupation of Denmark by the Wehrmacht in 1940.

    Under the auspice of Udal law the Orkneys and Shetlands will revert back to Denmark and Norway on the repayment of the dowry believed to be around 10,000 Kroner.

    It has been calculated that, due to interest rates and inflation, the figure could be as high as $3.7 billion dollars.

    Norwegian Finance Minister Sigbjørn Jahnsen has already tabled a motion in Norways’s parliament seeking permission to use monies from Norway’s Oil Fund on behalf of the Norwegian and Danish governments. ‘

    As for the game the crown (British) is playing, as proven in Mr Stuart Hill’s court case where ‘ ignorance is bliss ‘ then this issue will never be answered properly as long as the crown does not acknowledge Shetland and Orkney’s legitimate claim to be either independent or for this question of who actually has true sovereign rights to the islands to be finally solved.

    Given the huge economical benefit to the UK, Shetland is, it is very unlikely that either Scotland or the UK will ever bring this issue to the fore or to accept, if there was to be one, any payment either Norway or Denmark offers to Scotland for the islands to be transferred back to either country.

    Despite this, it still does not negate the fact that Shetland could be in a position where it could question its own independence and sovereignty against Scotland and for Shetland to be in better position economically to determine its place.

    • John Tulloch

      • February 9th, 2014 11:36

      Na, David, I doot someen ‘is played a plunkie apo you?

  • Michael Inkster

    • February 8th, 2014 20:50

    Silly DVLA, everyone recognises Forvik plates, don’t they?

    • Ali Inkster

      • February 9th, 2014 22:24

      As a lawyer Michael you might be able to enlighten us of other occasions that the DVLA have failed to pursue for non payment of road tax or vehicle excise duty or whatever the heck they call it now, I know that they refused to budge when my car was of the road but not taxed and I was out the country so not even able to drive it on the public road. If what Stuart says is true it does beg the question of why they did not prosecute.

      • John Tulloch

        • February 11th, 2014 8:21

        I had a similar experience, Ali. Back in the early days of the iniquitous S.O.R.N. rule, I was fined for keeping a car in my own garage for two months and forgetting to tell them about it – and I had to pay the back duty, too!

        Fury doesn’t begin to describe it!

        If Stuart Hill is right, Shetland people don’t need to put up with being mugged by the authorities, they can decide for themselves what’s acceptable and what isn’t.

  • Bruce Smith

    • February 9th, 2014 7:29

    Well mr hill I think the people of shetland no there history . And your being very derogatory to the isle and it’s people .you remind me of the big white settler’s that went to America – India – astrailia . These natives don’t no any thing ??. I was west of shetland on a oil supply boat the the night you were picked up we your perrie punt ???? Well most go sent from th South China Sea ??

  • Peter Smith

    • February 9th, 2014 13:03

    This is interesting. Mr Hill states “there is no evidence to show that Shetland is not already indipendent, and the evidence is mounting that it is”, directly and simply contradicted by Mr Spence “The islands of Orkney and Shetland, possessions of the Norwegian crown, were pledged as security until the dowry was to be paid”

    So Scottish while we’re in hock, Norwegian if we are ever out of hock, but never indipendent

    • Ali Inkster

      • February 9th, 2014 20:20

      Australia, New Zealand, Canada, etc etc all share the Queen with the UK and yet all are independent, just how could that be Peter? Could it be that we shared a king with Norway, the Isle of Man, Denmark and Sweden at that time yet all were before and still are independent except us that is. and all the others are doing rather nicely thank you even without the vast energy resource that we have of our shores. and just look how poorly the western isles have faired from their sale to Scotland. So whether we are or are not legally part of Scotland or the UK we should be doing our damdest to be clear of the lot of them. I for one can’t see what is in it for Shetland to be associated with either of them.

  • David Spence

    • February 9th, 2014 17:41

    Thank you Peter……….I must confess, I am not exactly sure if Shetland would be or could be independent in its own right until the issue of 1469 plus was truly answered, and whether or not the people of Shetland would be or could be bothered as to whether Shetlands or the Orkney’s was to become independent from Scotland and to be part of Scandinavia.

    The general impression one gets is that Shetlander’s do not really care who rules them as long as ‘ life goes on without any hassle, mentality ‘………but I may be proven wrong one day lol. One never knows what scottish independence may provoke in regards to Shetland having greater autonomy and say in its own future? lol

    • John Tulloch

      • February 10th, 2014 13:38

      Good point, David.

      There’s plenty willing to masquerade as our feisty forebears but, alas, ‘when the fight for freedom rages’, there isn’t much interest, far less, enthusiasm for being ‘strong and bold as they’!

  • Ali Inkster

    • February 9th, 2014 20:25

    Ps the Faroes who were released from the pawning have their independence recognised and the pawning agreement stated that our independence and laws were to remain, so just when did this change and by what right did it change?

  • John Tulloch

    • February 16th, 2014 23:39

    Anybody NOT going to the lauch of Stuart Hill’s book (The Stolen Isles) at the Shetland Museum and Archives on 26th February?

    Stuart wrote to me following my letter to S.T. about his RBS court case and kindly offered me a preview of ‘The Stolen Isles’, which I gladly accepted.

    I don’t have the time or resources to check out all his references but it’s a fascinating piece of work, laden with interesting interpretations and references and his logic is hard to fault – for non-historian-non-legal-eagle-me, at least.

    I’ll be surprised if it doesn’t sell well, I certainly intend to buy when it becomes available.

  • David Spence

    • February 17th, 2014 14:48

    I bumped into Stuart at the Post Office on Commercial Street John, where he mentioned to me about the launch of his book. I shall definitely be getting a copy of his book at the launch, as I think it will make interesting reading. I asked Stuart as to why Denmark or Norway have not made any waves or contact with him in regards to his investigations and his experience of the courts (crown) playing the game of ‘ Ignorance is bliss ‘ with regard to Shetland questioning Scotland’s claim to the islands, whereupon he told me that Denmark/Norway (cannot remember exactly) only had sovereign rights to only 10% of the islands, and where the other 90% was this of the people of Shetland.

    Any way, I look forward in getting my hand on the book and having a good read……no doubt with questions to follow………which I am sure Stuart could arrange a Q & A at the Museum or wherever after the launch?

  • James Green

    • February 20th, 2014 9:29

    For those interested, there is another recently published book on this topic: ‘Winds of Change’ by Michael James. It does tend to shed a different light on some of Mr Hill’s arguments, although Mr Hill has every right to make them. The book is available through Amazon or Kindle.

    • John Tulloch

      • February 20th, 2014 13:55

      The author, Michael James, notes that ‘it ( ‘Winds of Change’) is a work of fiction’ and hopes he hasn’t made too many mistakes with the history.

      • Brian Smith

        • February 20th, 2014 17:56

        So is The Stolen Isles.

      • John Tulloch

        • February 20th, 2014 23:34

        Why is ‘The Stolen Isles’ a ‘work of fiction’, unlike Michael James’ book, it purports to be based on actual historical events and legal principles, backed with numerous references?

        Is it all ‘fiction’ or just part(s) of it? Which of his key argument(s) are false?

        For example, Hill claims King Christian I of Denmark was not entitled to pawn the whole of Shetland, rather he could only pawn the 10 percent of the land which belonged to him, personally.

        That is one one of Hill’s key arguments, do you accept it and if not, why not?

  • Brian Smith

    • February 21st, 2014 7:11

    I’m tired of explaining this point, John. Perhaps you or Hill could explain: /why/ was Christian I only entitled to pawn ten per cent of Shetland – and what proportion of Orkney?

    • Ali Inkster

      • February 21st, 2014 13:39

      because he did not own it, or he did not need to pawn it to all cover the shortfall. but being as that is the case then there is 90% of Shetland that was not pawned therefor Scotland has no legal rights here at all

    • John Tulloch

      • February 21st, 2014 20:21

      I’m poorly-versed in the Orkney situation and perhaps, the Orkney folk who know better about that will prefer to speak for themselves?

      I can’t find a reference but my memory of it is that the proportion of Orkney affected was considerably larger than that of Shetland, as, indeed, was the associated sum of money – 50,000 florins for Orkney versus 8,000 florins for Shetland.

      I don’t know whether the greater amount of land in Orkney was the reason for the higher price?

  • Joe Johnson

    • February 21st, 2014 16:20

    I think I’ll do a Stuart Hill and set sail in my bath tub to a island near Russia and declare it independent.

  • Brian Smith

    • February 21st, 2014 20:21

    Mr Hill confuses the kings’ ownership of this or that piece of land and the sovereign powers that monarchs exert. He mixes up two other questions: could it happen or should it have happened? Like it or not, Christian pawned the lot.

    • Ali Inkster

      • February 21st, 2014 22:40

      The critical word there is “PAWNED” meaning intended to be redeemed. not sold outright.

    • John Tulloch

      • February 21st, 2014 23:25

      Thanks, Brian.

      Stuart Hill is well capable of defending his own corner without help from me, however, I’m always pleased to learn something new, so let’s see where this takes us:

      If, as you say, “Mr Hill confuses the kings’ ownership of this or that piece of land and the sovereign powers that monarchs exert” then he is in good company.

      I’ve already mentioned Stair above so I hope Stuart won’t object to me supplying one of their quotes from the draft I saw of the ‘The Stolen Isles’:

      “The terms of the impignoration (pawning – JT) did not comprehend all Orkney and Shetland, but only ‘our lands of the Orkneys’ and our ‘lands of the Islands of Shetland’.”
      ( Stair, ‘The Laws of Scotland’, p225, para. 326)

      That sounds more like a mortgage the lands actually owned by the king than a transfer of legal sovereignty, does it not?

      • Brian Smith

        • February 22nd, 2014 17:25

        It sounds like that, but it is incorrect. If Christian I pawned ten per cent of Shetland to King James on 28 May 1469, why did he write to his subjects in Orkney and Shetland (not ‘ten per cent of his subjects’), the same afternoon, telling them to pay their taxes to the King of Scotland? Christian mortgaged his lands ‘of’ Shetland and Orkney to King James in 1468-9, not his lands ‘in’ Orkney and Shetland, whether Mr Hill likes it or not.

      • John Tulloch

        • February 22nd, 2014 22:25


        ” Christian mortgaged his lands ‘of’ Shetland and Orkney to King James in 1468-9, not his lands ‘in’ Orkney and Shetland, whether Mr Hill likes it or not.”

        I think we may safely say that neither “Mr Hill” nor ‘Stair’ is greatly enamoured of that interpretation of the pawning document:

        “The terms of the impignoration (pawning – JT) did not comprehend all Orkney and Shetland, but only ‘our lands of the Orkneys’ and our ‘lands of the Islands of Shetland’.”
        ( Stair, ‘The Laws of Scotland’, p225, para. 326)

  • David Spence

    • February 22nd, 2014 1:07

    ‘ Christian pawned the lot. ‘

    I am intrigued as to the exact legal representation here Brian……Did Christain I pawn the 10% of the Shetland that, according to Mr Hill, Denmark/Norway had the sovereign right to or was it the whole of the Shetlands Islands?

    If it was just the 10%, who, if anybody, had sovereign rights to the other 90%, and is there any documented proof that Scotland had legal rights to the 90% which was not under Danish/Norwegian sovereignty?

    Did Scotland, without any legal representation, assumed it had sovereign rights to the whole of the Shetland Islands after the marriage of Princess Margaret of Denmark to James III of Scotland in 1469?

    If this was the case, does Scotland have documented proof it has legitimate rights to the whole of the Shetland Island’s, and if so, on what grounds does it have the right to claim the other 90% of the lands of Shetland which were not part of the marriage arrangement/dowry?

  • John Tulloch

    • February 22nd, 2014 17:28

    Which ‘lot’ would that be, Brian, the ‘galley mooring lot’, perhaps?

    For someone who is so demanding of precision from others, your replies to perfectly reasonable queries like David’s aren’t exactly ‘crisp’, are they?

    “Twich na wyse that string bot safer as ye may flee the cloise……and thairfore can gif na ansuer thairto.”

    (Instruction regarding Orkney and Shetland to the Scottish ambassador to Denmark treaty negotiations in 1564)

    Scots politicians? Better to keep your hand on your wallet – and on your pawning contracts – I suspect?

    • Brian Smith

      • February 22nd, 2014 21:29

      It seems to me that ‘the lot’ – totas et integras – couldn’t be crisper. The fact that you want to hear something different shouldn’t affect the matter.

      • John Tulloch

        • February 24th, 2014 8:11


        There was me thinking when I bought, ‘all and sundry’ (“totas et integras”) the previous owner of my house in Arrochar’s ‘lands of the county of Argyll and Bute’ that I had only bought the house and surrounding garden but now you’re telling me I’ve bought Argyll and Bute in its entirety – ‘the lot”!

        Wonderful! Maybe, I’ll start with a clearance of the lairds?

  • M Inkster

    • February 22nd, 2014 18:10

    It seems to me that the recent challenges to UK sovereignty and the jurisdiction of the Scottish courts over Shetland only ever appear to arise in the context of financial obligations due, whether that be to pay road fund dues, credit card interest or whatever. Does such a principled stance prevail when it comes to accessing the benefits that the State confer upon its subjects, eg, health care, pension benefits etc? Michael Inkster

  • M Inkster

    • February 22nd, 2014 20:14


    With reference to your earlier post (which I have just read), there’s a positive duty on everyone to declare SORN in the circumstances you mention, though I sympathise with your position.

    Also, with reference to your recent post, I don’t think the act of pawning, in itself, would necessarily have given any indication of the intention of the parties (genuine or otherwise) as it merely gave the pawnor (in this case the King of Denmark, making the pledge) the option to redeem, so far as the (presumably) prescribable right to do so hadn’t prescribed, rather than imposing any obligation upon him to do so. I agree, on balance, that it’s too late to do so, some five and a half centuries on!

    Incidentally, the RBS v Hill case, aside from the issue of court jurisdiction, is an entertaining read, if nothing else, and the defender in that case ought to be commended for his perseverence. Michael Inkster

    • Ali Inkster

      • February 24th, 2014 9:34

      You say aside from the issue of jurisdiction the case is an interesting read, since you have perused the case maybe you could also enlighten us as to jurisdiction, is it as Stuart says the crowns responsibility to prove such? And if so, are you aware of any other legal proceeding where such an important point was decided solely on the dubious content of a magazine? Is this really the only evidence the crown could bring to court?

  • David Spence

    • February 22nd, 2014 20:55

    Michael, is your stance on the said subject based on the fact that because the people of Shetland have access to the amenities provided by the state as is with the rest of the UK, proof that the Shetland Islands are part of the United Kingdom/Scotland as a consequence of such an arrangement…….whether providing state run services or dealing with financial matters (acknowledgement, said very loosely, of the UK/Scottish currency and the Queen as the Head of State) ???

    If this was the case, where is the Crown’s proof that the Shetland Islands are part of Scotland if not the United Kingdom?

    The only knowledge I know, relating to Mr Hill’s Court Proceedings, was a statement given by or on behalf of the Archivist Mr Brain Smith, as legitimate proof the Shetland Islands belonging to Scotland and not the United Kingdom……….however, I may be proven wrong here ?????

  • David Spence

    • February 22nd, 2014 21:06

    In connection to my previous comments, I would also like to add that I was under the impression that during the Court Proceedings related to Mr Stuart Hill’s case, the Crown’s attitude was, moreorless, this of ignorance. This being ‘ Ignorance is bliss ‘ as long as the Crown does not give credence to Mr Stuart Hill’s attempts to provoke the Crown into, lets say, submission in regards to the legal proceedings in regards to Scotland’s (and not the UK’s) legitimate right and sovereignty of the Shetland and Orkney Islands, then such attempts by Mr Stuart Hill would be futile and no doubt make out Mr Stuart Hill to be, want for a better description, a fool in the eyes of the law (said very loosely in regards to what this law is) and the people of Shetland.

  • laurence niven

    • February 23rd, 2014 9:00

    the claim is made that shetland can not be scottish as it was pawned by a scandinavian king and so could be reclaimed by a scandinavian country.
    by what documented legal process did scandinavia gain title to the islands?

    i was taught at school that scandinavian influence arrived around the 8th century with the vikings who occupied the islands forcibly.

    these islands were already occupied by an earlier people (picts) who were of irish/scottish origin.

    why does the present day debate take the 14th century as a starting point and ignore two thousand years of island history in favour of a few centuries of (illegal?) occupation

  • Stuart Hill

    • February 23rd, 2014 9:11

    Golly gosh – I had no idea this conversation was going on.
    A couple of points I’d like to make – according to the law books, the pawning document forms the basis of the relationship between Shetland and the UK, so it is very important to understand exactly what it means. The letter that Brian refers to is not part of that contract, so does not determine the relationship between the two. It was necessary because, as Brian has said, the Kings were interested in the money. Without that letter, James would have only had the rents from the 10%. In order to get the skat from the 90% who were not included in the pawning (they could not be, because king Christian could not pawn something he did not own), Christian had to instruct them separately.
    What nobody has considered is what happened to the 90%? They elected their king (King Christian), they owned their land outright, they made their own laws and they had their own parliament. I challenge anyone to show a more complete definition of sovereignty. They were the cream of society and their rights were attached to the land. Those rights have been passed down to their heirs and successors – anyone who owns a house or a piece of land will find that those rights have never been taken away. Anyone in that position ranks above the Queen in Shetland. Unfortunately for them, that does not apply to the lairds because their estates were built on the basis of feudal charters – charters by which the Scottish kings were giving something they did not own and which are therefore invalid from the start.
    This is a fascinating question that takes on and entirely different appearance when viewed from a legal perspective rather than through a historian’s rose coloured glasses.
    I cordially invite anyone interested to come to my talk this Wednesday, 7:30 at the Museum. To make sure you get a seat, please book by email stuart@forvik.com, or phone 01950 477829.

  • Stuart Hill

    • February 23rd, 2014 9:11

    Of course, the main point in all of this is not any argument over the historical details, but the fact that, when challenged, neither Scotland, nor the UK can show a shred of proof that Shetland is part of Scotland. The reluctance of the DVLA to get involved with the car in England is matched by my experience in Shetland. I found a marked reluctance on the part of any of the ‘authorities’ here to engage with me. If I was right, I could not take anyone to court because I could not recognise the court. It would be necessary for someone to take me to court in order for me to challenge its jurisdiction, but it proved remarkably difficult. Here are some examples:
    I built a house on Forvik without planning permission. The SIC took no action and the house still stands. Would that not be required to be demolished if built on the mainland?
    I refused to pay the council tax demanded and was told they would have to take me to court. Just when I thought I’d achieved my objective, they decided the house was not finished and was only a holiday home anyway, so the demand was withdrawn.
    I stopped paying income tax and VAT on my company. People said ‘don’t mess with the VAT people, they’ll just come and break down your door’. They sent threatening letters and finally a court summons saying they would take my goods and make me bankrupt if I didn’t pay within 14 days. I gave the Sheriff’s Officer a note saying I was quite willing to pay as soon as they showed me when Shetland became part of Scotland. I heard nothing more.
    You may remember I put a Land Rover on the road with Forvik Number plates and documentation. It was seized and destroyed, but no charges brought. I can’t imagine that happening to any normal motorist.
    I painted up a Mercedes van as the Forvik consular vehicle and put it on the road with Forvik plates etc. That too was seized and I was told I would be charged with various offences, but nothing happened.
    After two weeks, I set up consular vehicle No.2, but this time locked myself in when stopped. The police had to break in and pull me out before taking me to the station and charging me.
    I had to resort to that degree of civil disobedience before any so-called authority would engage.

  • Stuart Hill

    • February 23rd, 2014 9:17

    Having got my court case, the first thing to do was challenge the jurisdiction of the court on the basis that Shetland is not part of Scotland – and this where Brian comes in. If the jurisdiction of the court is challenged, the burden of proof is on whoever is bringing the case, in the case the Crown. The only evidence they were able to show was Brian’s article ‘When did Orkney and Shetland Become Part of Scotland?’, which the sheriff accepted verbatim and accepted that jurisdiction was thereby proved. I appealed, but four law lords supported the sheriff’s decision. So apparently the whole of the judiciary is united around the idea that the court’s jurisdiction (and the whole authority of Scotland and the UK in Shetland) rests on The Word of Brian. I’m sure Brian did not intend his work to be used thus – it was simply the only straw for the Crown to clutch at.
    During the process I was held in police cells without being told why, and was imprisoned when challenging jurisdiction. These are not the actions of a judiciary confident in its authority.
    The Sovereign Nation of Shetland has made a formal claim for the allodial title of Shetland and the surrounding 200 miles of seabed on behalf of the sovereign people of Shetland. The claim is unopposed, but I have to say both Scotland and the UK got a bit excited when they realised what they had given their tacit agreement to. Neither has been able to produce a superior claim and what we now have will stand up in court.
    So, the important thing is not any discussion about the finer details of the history and the precise meaning of this document or that. What is really important is that Scotland and the UK have been carrying out a gigantic bluff and when their hand has been called they have folded. What maintains their grip on power is naked force and unquestioning obedience.
    All this and more is in my book, which you can get at the launch on Wednesday, or at the website: http://www.StolenIsles.com

    • Robert Sim

      • February 23rd, 2014 13:33

      Stuart, what is your response to Michael Inkster’s post above in which he comments that: “It seems to me that the recent challenges to UK sovereignty and the jurisdiction of the Scottish courts over Shetland only ever appear to arise in the context of financial obligations due, whether that be to pay road fund dues, credit card interest or whatever. Does such a principled stance prevail when it comes to accessing the benefits that the State confer upon its subjects, eg, health care, pension benefits etc?”

      In the day-to-day world we all inhabit in which we have to educate our children, look after the sick and unemployed and all the other unglamorous but vital tasks which have to be carried out, it seems to me that the question of whether Shetland belongs to Scotland/the UK or not dwindles down into an academic one.

      • Brian Smith

        • February 23rd, 2014 21:25

        You never said a truer word, Robert.

      • Stuart Hill

        • February 23rd, 2014 21:35

        According to the official figures, after paying all direct and indirect taxes and getting back all the grants and subsidies which, although I have not checked in detail, I assume include things like NHS, social security and so on – in other words the total input/output; there is a net balance to the UK treasury of £86 million. In other words, if we stop paying all taxes to the UK, Shetland would be able to support its population at the same level as presently and still have £86 million left over to add to reserves, increase services, lower taxes or whatever.
        That’s before you take into account the oil. Since its discovery, the oil revenue has been supporting the UK economy and allowing the government to embark on such adventures as illegal wars and generally pretending to be a world power. It cannot show any proof of title to the seabed it has appropriated and has no right to the income from it. You will see from my letter above that Shetland has a superior claim to the seabed than the UK.
        Now, I’m not saying for a moment that Shetland should say it wants to keep that revenue for itself (it’s in the region of £10 billion – billion, not million – per year). That would be very silly and we’d soon have those nice friendly Americans wanting to ‘protect’ us. If it’s our money, it should go into a Shetland bank and then be sent out as foreign aid to the UK (or wherever we want) because that’s what it’s always been. I have no objection to appointing the UK as our agent to run the show.
        I’m also not saying that the UK is just going to roll over and say ‘of course you’re right – we’ll hand it over’. They will fight tooth and nail with all the dirty tricks at their disposal and we may or may not think it’s worth fighting for, but I for one do not relish giving in to bullies. If it’s our right, we should stand up for it.
        If you want to talk about defence, £10 billion gives us an awful lot of bargaining power to negotiate whatever we feel is appropriate for our needs.
        I say vote Yes Shetland. You know it makes sense.

    • John Tulloch

      • February 24th, 2014 7:52

      Only academic, Brian and Robert? Oh, no it ISN’T!

      St. Ninian’s Isle Treasure?

      Crown Estates, salmon farms and broadband cables?

      Need I go on?

      • Brian Smith

        • February 24th, 2014 14:03

        Well take it to some legal body, then, John, instead of röding endlessly about it on the internet.

      • John Tulloch

        • February 24th, 2014 16:05

        What’s this, Brian, petulance?

        I always like to detect that in debating opponents.

      • Robert Sim

        • February 24th, 2014 18:22

        It’s only not academic, John, if some representative body (eg a political party) somewhere is going to act on the arguments put forward by Stuart Hill and yourself. We are agreed that there is no sign of that at present.

        It is interesting to note, by contrast, that there was plenty of critical mass to mount a legal challenge to the Viking Windfarm, for example. A lot of people put their money where their mouth was in that concern. Why won’t they do so to support Stuart Hill’s cause?

      • John Tulloch

        • February 24th, 2014 22:03


        I hear what you’re saying however I can’t accept that, for example, the hi-jacking of the St Ninian’s Isle treasure as ‘Treasure Trove’ by the Crown, who overruled Udal Law in favour of itself in the associated court case, is of purely ‘academic interest’.

        Furthermore, it’s said history is written by the victors, sadly, a truism, and Stuart Hill’s research and campaign is challenging the ‘official truth’. All else aside it’s a wonderful addition to Shetland’s culture and a fascinating story to tell – and sell – to the tourists.

        And if, as you suggest, the vast majority of Shetlanders are sleep-walking into the referendum, blissfully unaware of the true history of Shetland and unaware of these arguments, that isn’t a reason for stopping arguing, rather, it’s a reason for continuing to argue, until the penny drops.

        If the arguments are listened to and rejected, that’s ok, that’s democracy.

      • Brian Smith

        • February 25th, 2014 7:32

        ‘A wonderful addition to Shetland’s culture and a fascinating story to tell – and sell – to the tourists’. But unfortunately, pure fiction for the gullible.

      • John Tulloch

        • February 25th, 2014 18:03

        Oh, no it isn’t!

  • M Inkster

    • February 23rd, 2014 20:25

    I wonder whether Mr Hill’s withheld tax and VAT is held in trust for Queen Margrethe of Denmark? If not and insofar as the Treasury appear to be disinterested in claiming it, then maybe consideration should be given to donating it to a worthwhile charity. In that event I’d suggest the lifeboat. Michael Inkster

    • Stuart Hill

      • February 24th, 2014 14:46

      Since I do not agree with the uses to which the UK treasury puts the £86 million they keep of our money, and knowing that paying taxes to a government that engages in illegal war is an illegal act, I would rather keep the money in my own pocket and not add further to a criminal record that has so far been obtained in an honourable pursuit of the truth.

  • David Spence

    • February 24th, 2014 12:46

    It does beg the question in such a debate why Denmark or Norway have no created waves in regards to this subject. The only recent record I can refer to, which I may be wrong, was who had legitimate rights (as in the Crown) to the treasure discovered in the 1950’s at St Ninian’s Isle? Did the UK or Danish/Norwegian Crown own such artifacts? I believe it was settled by a side remark from a Sheriff that the Shetland Islands (without providing proof) belonged to Scotland, thus the treasure was moved to Edinburgh.

    It would be nice to see if there was any documentation of this decision made by the Sheriff at the time, and to see if any evidence was submitted to confirm ownership of the treasure discovered at St Ninian’s Isle. (One would presume if one is claiming to own said property, one would also have to prove one also owns the land (Shetland Islands under the Crown of the UK) to which such items were found???). Where is such a document???

    • Stuart Hill

      • February 24th, 2014 15:02

      The direct question of whether Shetland is part of Scotland had, somewhat to my surprise, never been tested in the courts until my case in 2011 at Lerwick Sheriff Court. Prior to that, the judiciary simply worked on unfounded presumptions. The decision in the St. Ninian’s Isle Treasure case has been referred to as ‘legal imperialism’ in the Scots law books.
      Another amusing aside – in my recent correspondence with the Scottish Government about allodial title, they cited, as confirmation that Shetland is part of Scotland ‘a 2012 case with which you will be familiar’. It took me a little while for me to realise that this was my own case: Royal Bank of Scotland v. Stuart Hill. In his ‘opinion’ Lord Pentland, having heard nothing on the subject from the pursuers after I challenged the court’s jurisdiction, proceeded to make up an argument on their behalf. They are really scraping the barrel.

  • David Spence

    • February 24th, 2014 13:06

    Stuart, as a matter of reference, the number you have given 01950 477 839, is wrong. I believe it should be 01950 477 829 ? I phoned the number you have given (01950 477 839) and the lady said it was the wrong number when I asked to speak to Stuart.

  • M Inkster

    • February 24th, 2014 22:28

    Robert, “Screaming Lord Sutch”, god rest his SOUL, perhaps would have been your man?, Michael Inkster

  • Stuart Hill

    • February 25th, 2014 11:27

    See you all at the launch tomorrow! All welcome, especially if you think you have an argument that can stand up.

  • Robert Sim

    • February 25th, 2014 13:29

    John, I was honestly going to bow out of this thread but I need to correct most emphatically something in your last post in reply to me. You say: “… if, as you suggest, the vast majority of Shetlanders are sleep-walking into the referendum, blissfully unaware of the true history of Shetland and unaware of these arguments, that isn’t a reason for stopping arguing, rather, it’s a reason for continuing to argue, until the penny drops.” You are obviously referring, in your reference to sleepwalking, to our discussion elsewhere on this site, in the thread headed “Norwegian clincher”. But there I say the following: “John… I must disagree with your statement that “…large sections of the Shetland electorate…” are sleepwalking into the current constitutional debate. Where is your evidence of that? I think on the contrary the local media (not least this site) and, for example, the well-attended meeting which Yes Shetland held at Islesburgh in the summer are testimony to the opposite point of view. Of course, “large sections” of any electorate don’t make their views known till polling day; and that is what is to be expected here as anywhere else in Scotland.

    The Shetland electorate are as switched-on as anywhere else in Scotland. They just aren’t persuaded by independence for Shetland, as opposed to the increase in devolved powers currently being negotiated by the three island councils.”

    So I don’t think the Shetland electorate are sleepwalking in terms of the argument for semi-autonomy/independence for Shetland. Having said that, good luck with your persuasion campaign.

    • John Tulloch

      • February 25th, 2014 17:32


      Did you canvass opinion about Shetland autonomy at your ‘well-attended’ ‘YES’ meeting?

      I know that Danus Skene is in favour of an Aland-style arrangement within an over-arching Scottish context because he wrote, calling for that, in the Shetland Times about a year ago.

      And Aland has a great deal more autonomy than SIC is, publicly at least, asking for.

      He’s a very reasonable, intelligent, influential type of chap within the ‘YES’ campaign and I expect a lot of people listen to his views and take them seriously, I certainly do (notwithstanding a peerie spat over the SIC’s £40 million, last year). Did you ask him?

      Do YOU have any evidence to support your claim that there’s no appetite for ‘semi-autonomy/independence’ for Shetland?

      • Robert Sim

        • February 25th, 2014 23:37

        John, with all due respect, there is no political party/movement locally or nationally of which I am aware which supports the status to which you aspire for Shetland. Danus Skene is one individual (whom I admire greatly, I hasten to add), who spoke as far as I can see for himself.

        As regards my proving the absence of an interest in independence for Shetland, I am tempted to reply “Russell’s teapot”. Having said that, I am going to withdraw and say no more on the subject. You are welcome to say “I told you so!” when you are proven correct in the future!

      • John Tulloch

        • February 26th, 2014 7:29

        Thanks for your input Robert, we’ve covered a fair bit of ground.

        Readers may be interested to know that the Argyll online blog ‘For Argyll and the Islands’, presumably, because the Western Isles is involved in “Our Islands, Our Future”, has taken an interest with a short piece highlighting Stuart Hill’s book launch.


      • Brian Smith

        • February 26th, 2014 9:27

        It’s a bit understated to liken Mr Hill to Moses in the bulrushes, John. Surely the Christ-child is the best comparison?

  • Stuart Hammerton

    • February 25th, 2014 23:55

    Out of curiosity Mr Stuart Hill, were you born in Shetland or is your family from Shetland? If not, then what VISA are you visiting or residing on since it is not part of the UK where I presume you come from. Should Shetland have its independence would you be counted as an illegal alien?

    • John Tulloch

      • February 26th, 2014 8:27

      No, Stuart will be ‘Jarl Chancellor’, Minister for Justice and ‘Jarl Speaker’ of the Upper House, the ‘Longhouse of Jarls’ 🙂

  • James Green

    • February 26th, 2014 9:41

    Having read ‘Winds of Change’ (Feb 20th above), it seems the author is very aware of the pitfalls of ‘sleepwalking’ through this subject, and doesn’t exempt the SIC from the disease!

  • David (Lerwick) Spence

    • February 26th, 2014 23:01

    I have just come back from Stuarts talk at the Museum, and I was rather disappointed there was not more people attending it.

    I think, although I may be wrong, one of the main reasons why Stuart has had such a hard, difficult and sometimes hostile reaction to his campaign to prove whether Scotland has legitimate rights to the Shetland is, as is been proven, the majority of Shetlander’s have been conditioned by a system that will do anything to maintain and keep control, even if it means ‘ bending the rules (hiding the truth)’ from the people of Shetland as to its claim upon territory which could be questioned in a proper court of law.

    But as said, people have been conditioned (subjugated, oppressed, brainwashed etc etc) into believe in only the oppressors version of what this truth may be.

  • John Inkster

    • February 27th, 2014 1:07

    I do not know what kind of diesel fuels the Stuart Hill engine, but if the engine were pointed in the right direction, it would be up there with the VW Golf Blue Motion. It just keeps on motoring on low friction road tyres. It does not matter what you put in the way it just keeps going Terminator, “I’ll be back” Arnold Schwarzenegger style.

  • David Spence

    • February 27th, 2014 13:31

    I was at a meeting Stuart was holding at the Museum last night. I was rather disappointed there were not more people attending as it was an interesting talk Stuart gave, despite a few technical problems, in regards to Scotland’s illegal and historical grasp of these islands and whether or not sovereignty is rightfully Scotland’s or this of Scandinavia.

    There was one aspect of this issue very apparent, and that was ‘ Shetlander’s perception ‘ of who rightfully had claim of sovereignty to the Shetland and Orkney Islands was very much clouded by years and years of oppressive measures by Scotland and the United Kingdom, where their rule was very much adhered too despite what history may have said in regards to the ‘ pawning of the islands ‘ where, which seems to be beyond, today, most peoples perception that the islands were only loaned and not given to Scotland.

  • Michael Garriock

    • February 27th, 2014 15:37

    @ David Spence.

    Mr. Hill’s numerous public appearances and utterances tend to be largely ignored, as he has turned the issue of Shetland’s status in to a farcical, “would be amusing if it wasn’t a serious issue” sideshow.

    In my opinion his antics, particularly since “establishing” his so called “nation” of “Forvik” on Forrik Hom have been nothing short of embarrassing to Shetland and Shetlanders, and arguably have ensured any thoughts of devolution/independence which may be harboured locally, have been thoroughly silenced for fear of being tarred with the same brush as the gentleman himself.

    Mr. Hill hasn’t really contributed anything of real worth to what was reasonably widely known general knowledge in Shetland before he was washed ashore here. He may have pinned down a few relevant names and dates, but that is all, the main prudent facts of the issue have always formed part of local tradition.

    It is all purely academic anyway, as while it might well be interesting from a historical point of view to better research and document Shetland’s journey through history thoroughly, and the result *might* assist in supporting any future argument supporting a possible devolution/independence claim. Without a cohesive effort with a democratic mandate from the current population to change from the status quo, any historical injustices, preceived or real, will get nobody and nothing nowhere on its own.

    Shetland neither has a cohesive body promoting possible devolution/independence and no published plans to consult residents to establish if a democratic mandate supporting constitutional change exists, and as long as Mr. Hill insists on running a show on the subject aimed at the intelligence level of a Blue Peter viewer, it seems highly unlikely to me that any other efforts to forward the subject on a more intelligent and realistically effective footing will have a near impossible herculean task in distancing themselves from Mr. Hill’s cheap gimmicks, and raising the level of debate to something that can be taken seriously.

  • David Spence

    • February 27th, 2014 16:05

    Michael, there does seem to be a bit of a anomaly in regards to the legitimate sovereignty of the islands of Shetland and Orkney Islands being under the rule or crown of either Scotland or the United Kingdom?

    Question : Were the islands of Shetland and Orkney ‘ pawned ‘ or ‘ given ‘ to Scotland as part of the payment of the dowry in connection to the marriage of Princess Margaret of Denmark to James III of Scotland?

    If the answer is ‘ pawned ‘ where is the proof ?

    If the answer is ‘ given ‘ where is the proof ?

    Michael, whether it is Mr Hill or somebody else, surely this issue as to who has legal and legitimate sovereignty of the islands is of paramount importance to Shetlander’s ?

    Mind you, in saying this, it seems very obvious Shetlander’s will accept any ruler (as history has proven) as long as it does not impede too much on their live’s? (If it isn’t broke, why fix it mentality).

  • Joe Johnson

    • February 27th, 2014 22:03

    Stuart hill has the right to his opinions about Shetland Independence but how can anyone take him seriously after he breaks the law, gets arrested, behaves badly in court angering the Sheriff, ends up in prison and the fact that he is not a shetlander himself! Everyone is entitled to their opinions and if Stuart Hill voiced his views without making a fool of himself maybe he would be listened to, who knows.

    • John Tulloch

      • February 28th, 2014 11:42

      Isn’t that what Mahatma Gandhi did – civil disobedience – and was also imprisoned for in another UK colony?

      • Wayne Conroy

        • February 28th, 2014 13:31

        To compare Stuart Hill to Gandhi is not only ridiculous but offensive!

        Mahatma Gandhi didn’t put others lives in risk by having lifeboat and coastguard services called out for him on numerous occasions.

        Mr Hill said himself that he felt “no guilt about taking up so much of their time” and quite obviously had no regard for the safety of the not only the crews that had to continually rescue him but also for the other members of the public that were put in danger when he repeatedly did so.

        As if this behaviour wasn’t bad enough in his letter to the Shetland Times in 2009 he said that he had put devices in the water around “Forvik” to purposefully put other sea going vessels in danger.

        It is hard to take a person seriously when they make a fool of themselves. In my opinion Michael Garriock hit the nail on the head in his comments above. If you’ll pardon a pun… Who wants to be in the same boat as someone who acts the fool? In my opinion this man has done more harm than good to the cause he has set for himself and in the process made others less likely to take this matter up.

      • Brian Smith

        • February 28th, 2014 14:26

        Gandhi had a cause.

      • John Tulloch

        • February 28th, 2014 22:03

        Well, heaven forfend my comments cause offence, lest the opprobrium of ‘right thinking’ Shetlanders descend, mercilessly, upon me!

        I hadn’t realised realised Stuart Hill had committed such nefarious acts of war and terrorism. What were these devices placed in the sea around Forvik, sea mines, I suppose?

        If Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness were able to bring peace to Northern Ireland and the latter is now their Deputy First Minister then I think we can probably manage to accommodate Stuart Hill and his Forvik ‘exclusion zone’, declared, presumably, to repel the ferocious assaults of marauding SIC planning officers?

        Not that any of that has the slightest bearing on the quality or otherwise of Mr Hill’s ‘Stolen Isles’ thesis on Shetland sovereignty.

      • Michael Garriock

        • March 1st, 2014 12:02

        Mahatma Gandhi, if history is to be trusted, I seem to recall had a measurable level of support for his cause from the population.

        Mr. Hill, after over a decade of “campaigning”, by all accounts has only minimal support from Shetlanders, and by all appearances that support has been declining rather than growing since he started. That is the difference between the former being taken seriously and the latter steadily descending deeper in to the farcical.

      • John Tulloch

        • March 1st, 2014 14:53


        I think you’re telling us Gandhi had a cause and Stuart Hill has none?

        That isn’t my impression.

      • Brian Smith

        • March 1st, 2014 21:43

        I know.

      • Wayne Conroy

        • March 2nd, 2014 21:43

        @John Tulloch

        I’m glad you find Mr Hills dangerous behaviour a laughing matter.

        You ask what these devices were that Mr Hill placed in the sea around “forvik”… I couldn’t give you an answer as I haven’t seen the devices – I just know what he claimed.

        He claimed he had installed “devices” in the waters surrounding Forewick Holm “that can hole the hull of any boat and others [devices] designed to foul propellers.”

        You say – I think we can probably manage to accommodate Stuart Hill and his Forvik ‘exclusion zone’ – If you think putting objects in the water capable of putting a hole in a boat or rendering a boat incapable of propulsion funny or a matter worth joking about then I have nothing more to say to you.

  • Michael Garriock

    • February 28th, 2014 8:07

    @ David Spence.

    As I see it, the issue of who has sovereignty over Shetland is not really in dispute – Shetland by default of nobody having done anything to prevent it, is part of Scotland, and by default of being so, is part of the U.K. They have been allowed to exercise such rights unhindered over Shetland for several centuries, so the old “use and wint”, “possession is 9/10’s of the law” etc arguments apply.

    How Scotland and by extension the U.K. came to obtain and successfully exercise such rights over Shetland, and the legalities and justness of it all is wholly another debate. One, which as I said above has historical value, and *might* have use (or not as the case may be) in supporting any possible future devolution/independence etc claim(s), but that is all. Even if supposing Shetland being taken in to the Scottish and eventually the U.K. fold 500+ years ago broke every relevant statute of the day and was a travesty whichever spin was put on it, that in and of itself is neither grounds nor good reason to change anything today.

    Mr. Hill’s entire thrust for the last decade seems to have wholly concentrated on forcing forward an agenda that because certain “wrong” things occured 500+ years ago, we must wind the clock back and begin again. That, frankly, is potentially throwing the baby out with the bathwater. To disregard the passing of five centuries and all that happened in them just because the direction we were forced to go in at the start of them, is quite rash to say the least.

    The path we were forced to take to get to where we are today may well have been a much harder to travel one than it needed to be, but nevertheless we are where we are. Unless there is a convincing argument backed up by verifiable facts that Shetland would “benefit” from greater autonomy/independence/Crown Dependency etc, any constitutional change has a high risk of cutting off our nose to spite our face. Likewise, without a democratic mandate for constitutional change from the current Shetland population, attempting to force ahead any such moves is arguably as much of a travesty as is alleged Scotland performed on us 500+ years ago.

    Mr. Hill seems to take the attitude that just because events which occured 500 years ago are alleged to have been “wrong”, that where we find ourselves today after a long journey from those events, must somehow be equally wrong and wiped away, and we “need” him to tell us that and show us the “true” way. That is a quite arrogant and arguably dictatorial stance on his part, and potentially quite insulting to his desired audience, not to mention decidedly lacking in logic, reason and common sense.

    If Mr. Hill feels he must pursue this “cause” and wishes to garner any measurable success, rather than keep on recycling the same rhetoric so he can listen to his own voice. I would suggest that he devotes his energies to researching and producing costed models of a greater devolved, independent and Crown Dependency Shetland, illustrating accurately how they would function, and how viable they would be, etc.

    Were he to do that and produce convincing presentations, then, maybe, just maybe he might start being taken seriously and make a start with something that could possibly go forward, where his current historical research *might* have a place providing additional backing.

    Simply stating that something was allegedly done wrong 500 years ago, so we must cast all aside, regardless of what has happened since then, and fix it, may be a convincing enough reason for Mr. Hill to move forward. I don’t think his view is shared by many, as his support (or lack of it) would seem to illustrate.

    Perhaps Mr. Hill would like to consider that Shetland being “pawned” or “given” to Scotland, while perhaps the largest example, is far from being unique. Not many years after the Shetland/Scotland event, Neven of Scousburgh pawned that estate to Stewart of Bigton, as time passed Stewart of Bigton effectively ceased to exist as they were absorbed in to Bruce of Symbister. To this day the Neven of Scousburgh estate has never been reclaimed, so if this is his line of work, Mr. Hill might want to campaign to have that one changed too.

    Were he to do so, he would find it a pointless exercise, as the Neven, Stewart and Bruce families and their property are all effectively defunct, and the Scousburgh Estate has undergone such change over the passing centuries that there’s not really a lot of anything to be gotten back anyway. I strongly suspect that *if* the changes over five centuries were all ever fully analysed and hammered out for the Shetland/Scotland issue, the end result would be very little different.

    If Mr. Hill wishes to educate Shetlanders in Shetland history, that’s fine, if he want to assist and encourage us to seek greater local control and self-determination he’s going to have to stop dressing the former up as the latter. Events of the 15th etc Centuries may be somewhat connected to the present, but what is and how things are and possibly could be in the 21st Century are what will shape where Shetlanders decide to take Shetland in to the future.

    • John Tulloch

      • March 2nd, 2014 8:21

      Hello, Michael, interesting comment. A couple of observations:

      Orkney and Shetland are in a unique constitutional position in the UK, Scousburgh does not involve issues of national sovereignty.

      You say:

      “If Mr. Hill feels he must pursue this “cause” and wishes to garner any measurable success, rather than keep on recycling the same rhetoric so he can listen to his own voice. I would suggest that he devotes his energies to researching and producing costed models of a greater devolved, independent and Crown Dependency Shetland, illustrating accurately how they would function, and how viable they would be, etc.”

      The Scottish government is unable to do that for their prospective independent Scotland because it is unclear how the negotiated ‘divorce’ will be settled. The same applies to an autonomous Shetland.

      However, the SIC has the results of a study they commissioned which demonstrates that under the present situation, Shetland has a £1 billion a year economy and pays £80-odd million a year more to the Treasury than it gets back.

      It isn’t all oil, either, the fishing industry is worth well over £300 million a year and the Total plant hasn’t been commissioned, yet.

      And the Falkland Islands government has taxation powers over oil exploration in its waters, Shetland (and Orkney) should have the same.

      Why should Stuart Hill waste his time attempting to detail an unworkable study, about which the only thing we can reliably conclude is that autonomy would be, rather obviously, beneficial?

      • Michael Garriock

        • March 4th, 2014 13:00

        @ John Tulloch:

        You miss my point. The mention of Scousburgh was not intended to be a direct comparison, but in a similar way to how Mr. Hill created his so-called “Forvik” as a “here’s one we made earlier from egg boxes and sticky back paper” mini nation, to presumably illustrate in pictures how he preceives Shetland should/could be. The Scousburgh example provides a real life example of the potential difficulties, obstacles and impossibilities of moving forward with Mr. Hill’s theoretical “plan” for Shetland, given that a number of centuries and everything that have occured during them have changed what the Danish Crown “pawned” beyond recognition in every conceivable way.

        I am given to understand (and stand corrected if I have been misinformed), that what the Danish Crown had ownership of pre 1492, and what by default it could legitimately “pawn”, was significantly different to what your average 21st century Monarch has ownership of. I would contend that unless it is established as far as is practicably possible, what exactly it was the Danish Crown owned pre 1492, what exactly the Scots Crown claimed they possessed post 1492, and to what extent that “property” still exists today, in what form, and how legally and realistically it is to return same to its rightful owner(s) (if indeed historical irregularities occured) , there is no real starting point and only a very vaguely defined goal. Elsewhere Mr. Hill has dismissed this line of enquiry, as “irrelevant”, I strongly disagree with him.

        The current Scottish Government as unable (unwilling) to provide any detailed plan/costing for the “independent” Scotland they are seeking, for one reason only. They aren’t seeking Independence, they’re seeking what probably could be best described as “increased devolution” or “increased autonomy”. Keeping the UK currency, Crown, military and whatever else they’re wanting to hold on to does not constitute “independence” by a long stretch of imagination, it called having your cake and eating it. Independence requires not being beholden to any other, and having your own of everything….but that’s a whole other debate….

        With all due respect the “present situation” financial performance of Shetland has only a very limited bearing on how financially viable a greater devolved/Crown Dependency/Independent Shetland might be expected to perform. As while it is heartening and encouraging that we are in the black by a reasonably healthy few millions, and that increased local control could be expected to generate increased income, with it would almost inevitably come increased overheads also. To make an informed choice whether moving forward to increased autonomy/Crown Dependency/Independence is potentially financially viable/worthwhile and by default making the change desirable, as comprehensive and accurate financial forecasts are necessary. “Past performance is no indicator of future income, and the value of your investment may fall as well as rise”, or something like that, as the disclaimer on financial products used to say.

        While there are undoubtedly others, the single overpowering reason Mr. Hill might want to concentrate his energies on producing as comprehensive models of a greater devolved, Crown Dependency and Independent Shetland, is that his current crusade based in hard facts and provable evidence is going nowhere unless backwards. After a full decade and more he is steadily generating less interest, being taken less seriously, and has less visible support every time he makes an “appearance”. At flogging a dead horse, he has become an arguably undisputed expert.

        For whatever reason, and I can think of many, it would appear not many folk care, or can be made to care about half of a Millennium old shady dealings. Were Mr. Hill instead to concentrate on illustrating to folk how their day to day life could realistically “improve” right here and now, I would speculate that he would quickly find a significant attentive audience, and if he doesn’t then perhaps one can only conclude that the majority of Shetlanders are totally content in following a flow they have little control over wherever it takes them.

        I’m not going to try and pretend it would be a quick or easy task for Mr. Hill, but its certainly not an impossible one. Numerous autonomous, Crown Dependency and Independent island groups and regions exist worldwide, all he needs to do is study their situations and apply as appropriate the most successful facets of those models to the local situation. Granted they could never be prefect forecasts, but realistically I do not believe that they, done properly, are the most realistic that could be hoped for before the fact.

        With such models to study, folk could see relatively quickly which option, or the status quo was in their opinion “best” for Shetland in the 21st Century and beyond, and act accordingly.

        Of course, the one biggest issue which makes Mr. Hill’s “crusade” over “righting” 500+ year old alleged events superfluous, is that with a democratic mandate Shetland could fully legitimately pursue greater autonomy/Crown Dependency/Indpendence any time it likes, just as Scotland are pursuing their “indpendence” right now. The events, or otherwise of history have no relevance to the holding and exercising that right.

      • John Tulloch

        • March 4th, 2014 16:25


        If I missed your point about Scousburgh, it’s because you’re only making it now.

        Here’s what you said above:

        “Perhaps Mr. Hill would like to consider that Shetland being “pawned” or “given” to Scotland, while perhaps the largest example, is far from being unique.”

        You didn’t mention Forvik in connection with Scousburgh until now?

  • David Spence

    • February 28th, 2014 19:26

    I do take your point Michael in that, I presume, because events are so far back in time and that another country has took it upon itself to claim the Shetland and Orkney Islands, nothing should be done in regards to the legitimacy of who, if any, is the rightful owner/ruler of the Shetland and Orkney Islands.

    What I find quite staggering and to a certain degree hypocritical of the UK and the west, is those countries supporting and celebrating countries which were under the rule of the U.S.S.R and before Gorbachev introduced in 1986 Perestroika reforms which, in affect, catapulted many of the satellite States of the U.S.S.R. seeking independence, fully supported by the USA, UK and the West purely for their own commercial gains as well as looking upon these new countries as pastures new for commercial gain and wealth. Like the unification of Germany, it wasn’t so much about celebrating the breakdown of communism (which never really started off in Russia before Stalin changed it into a fascist state) it was of a case of celebrating it as a means of forthcoming wealth for those western companies to seek out new commercial targets.

    What is my point, my point Michael is no matter how trivial international affairs or events are which may not directly affect us, doesn’t necessarily justify doing nothing about the principle of putting something right that you know yourself to be wrong. However, as you have said Michael, when people get used to a system and way of life which has not changed in centuries, I can understand why people today in Shetland may not see the relevance of Mr Hill’s actions as being important or worth contemplating on. As the old adage says (which is applicable today I guess?) ‘ If it isn’t broke, why fix it ‘ ?

  • Scott Gray

    • February 28th, 2014 19:45

    Let’s face it even if Shetland pushed for and got independence then we would have to administrate a whole lot more than a local authority and a few charitable trusts. Can anyone imagine how things would turn out given the collection of muppets we have in positions of influence and power? They can’t even get a grip of a £27 million annual overspend; how would they cope with administrating an independent island. I’m pretty sure they would tie themselves in knots with indecision and worry about what their neighbors and constituents might say if they ever met them about town. Corruption and nepotism would thrive……..

    • John Tulloch

      • March 1st, 2014 18:36

      I hear what you’re saying, Scott. But what if an independent Scotland reorganised local government and Shetland got, say, Inverness “muppets”?

      Part of the problem is the current local government structure in which all local power is centralised in Lerwick. With autonomy/independence that would change since, for starters, there would have to be a new constitution and the Scottish government would have no interfering fingers in the pie.

      Non-Lerwick places would, presumably, join together as they have done with the schools, to defend their interests during the production of a new constitution.

      In Scandinavia, community councils have meaningful powers over their own business and even the Scottish government is looking at how to achieve this in Scotland.

      It’s reasonable to think that if Shetland won such freedom that there would be a thorough investigation of how self-government has worked well or not-so-well in comparable island situations and the lessons woven into the new constitution.

  • George Kippets

    • March 2nd, 2014 18:08

    It’s funny how Shetland Independence seems to be mainly favoured by expats who haven’t lived in Shetland for who knows how long and white settlers, while the average Shetland residents seem quite disinterested in the whole thing.

    • Robert Sim

      • March 3rd, 2014 0:36

      I agree with you about the views of the majority of Shetlanders, George. I am however going to be annoyingly pedantic about your use of the word “disinterested” when you mean “uninterested”. You are however in good company as I have heard the same misuse twice this week on the BBC.

    • Gordon Harmer

      • March 3rd, 2014 6:17

      Very undemocratic remark George, this is a free country with free speech (well until September the 18th anyway)

    • John Tulloch

      • March 3rd, 2014 7:31

      If you’re referring to me, I don’t ‘favour independence’, I support more local autonomy up to a level that is most favourable for Shetland and I favour listening to the arguments related to establishing what that level is, which may or may not include independence.

      Michael Garriock is quite correct when he says that “nothing can be done without the support of the inhabitants”. That is not a reason to stop arguing; quite the reverse.

      At the end of the day it should be up to Shetland electors, who may or may not include me when the time comes, how they wish to run their own affairs and they need to be well-informed about the pros and cons of the options on offer.

      Meanwhile, resident or not, I care enough about Shetland to see beyond the next ‘foy’ and spend considerable time learning and communicating about the various arguments relating to increased local autonomy.

  • Stuart Hill

    • March 3rd, 2014 12:29

    Back to the thread topic – of what relevance is the Scottish referendum to Shetland if it cannot be proved that Shetland is part of Scotland?

    • John Tulloch

      • March 4th, 2014 7:54

      Well, isn’t anybody going to have a stab at answering Stuart’s question?

    • Johan Adamson

      • March 4th, 2014 10:26

      Relevant because we have been given the chance to vote in it, and we should vote according to what we want on that topic; we shouldnt muddy the waters with anything else. Shetland needs to appeal to the UK and Scottish governments for independance, if thats what we want, regardless of the outcome of the referendum.

  • Stuart Hill

    • March 3rd, 2014 12:34

    The debate seems to be moving on from argument about the historical details, which is just as it should be. We can forget about all that stuff because the courts have now spoken. That is where attention should be focused.
    The purpose of my breaking the ‘law’ was to test whether that law actually applied in Shetland. If, as I believed, the Shetland court had no jurisdiction (authority) here, I could not take any case to it. For instance, I could not challenge the SIC’s payments to the Crown Estates because I could not recognise the court. It was necessary for somebody to take me to the court so that I could challenge its jurisdiction.
    The question of whether Shetland is part of Scotland had never previously been tested in the courts. Before we decide where we’re going, do we not need to know where we are?
    My efforts to get some ‘authority’ to take me to court proved remarkably difficult because the other side knew exactly what I was doing and none of them wanted to be standing in court providing an answer to the question ‘is Shetland part of Scotland?’
    After a long struggle I finally managed to get three cases, one criminal and two civil.
    The criminal case at Lerwick Sheriff Court was the one most will be familiar with. I won’t go into the various transgressions of rules of court and legislation that occurred during that case, but the most important aspect was that the only evidence the Crown produced that Shetland is part of Scotland was Brian Smith’s magazine article. The sheriff decided he had jurisdiction and his decision was supported by four law lords in a two-stage appeal process. When I refused to carry out the unpaid work and made a mistake on the date of the consequent hearing, I again challenged jurisdiction, but was arrested and held in prison for ‘social reports’. I will leave you to judge whether that was an appropriate response. On my release there was a further hearing to enforce the sentence, which the sheriff was unable to do. So, we have the situation that the whole of the judiciary is united around the idea that the authority of Scotland and the UK rests on The Word of Brian and where the courts are unable to enforce their sentence.
    One of the civil cases was also at Lerwick sheriff court. This time the sheriff (a different one) refused point-blank to here any evidence on jurisdiction. No sheriff or judge should be offended at a challenge to the court’s jurisdiction. It should be dealt with as a matter of course. (Of course, that is difficult if jurisdiction does not exist).
    The other civil case was in the Court of Session in Edinburgh. Once again I challenged the court’s jurisdiction on the basis that Shetland is not part of Scotland. The onus is on the person bringing the case to show the court that it has jurisdiction. They showed no evidence whatsoever, so the judge showed his impartiality by constructing an argument on their behalf.
    All this is documented and available in the public record of the courts and in the press, as are my freedom of information requests to the Scottish and UK governments which The Shetland Times removed from my letter in last Friday’s paper. I include them here for your information: http://tinyurl.com/l3wqspl, http://tinyurl.com/mbh7zcl
    Contrary to popular opinion I do not seek gratuitous publicity and none of this has been done frivolously. I would have been a lot more content not being abused in court, bankrupted and sent to prison – more comfortable forgetting all about this and working on my boat. What drives me on is the fact that Shetland is such a wonderful place and it has the possibility to be even better. I feel a sense of deep injustice at the way it has been treated in the past and continues to be treated today. I have shown that the only way authority is maintained here is by naked force – the iron fist is covered by a very thin velvet glove. Is that the way we want to live?
    All this is documented and names are named in my book Stolen Isles.
    Shetland pays in the order of £80 million per year to the UK treasury – for what? We allow the UK to exploit our seabed, to which they can show no legal right. We allow the EU to determine how we run our fisheries and crofting – for their benefit, not ours.
    It is not my right to impose my views on anybody. Neither is it the right of Holyrood, Westminster or Brussels unless we give them that permission. Currently they enforce that ‘right’ without being able to show any legal basis. Is Shetland just going to roll over once again and subject itself to modern day rape and pillage? I have shown there is an exit door. Is Shetland brave enough to walk through it?

  • James Green

    • March 4th, 2014 12:33

    John: your question of 7.54 today. I thought various Law Lords had already answered it more than adequately.

    • John Tulloch

      • March 4th, 2014 17:02

      I refer you to Stuart Hill’s above post. You may call the ‘proof’ offered ‘adequate’, however, to my mind, it was pretty embarrassing time for the authorities.

      • Brian Smith

        • March 4th, 2014 18:00

        That’s because you believe everything you read from the Hill stable, John.

      • John Tulloch

        • March 5th, 2014 12:30


        If I was sufficiently gullible to ‘believe everything I read’ from any ‘stable’, I would be joining in with the pillorying of Stuart Hill because the first academic work I looked at in connection with the pawning was your own, in which you referred to one of Stuart’s contentions as ‘a crackpot theory’. Your treatment of whether Orkney and Shetland are ‘part of Scotland raised a number of questions about sovereignty which I discussed in a Shetland Times ‘Sounding Off’ article on 26th April, 2013.

        That was long before I read the ‘Stolen Isles’ draft Stuart kindly sent me following my ST letter last November about Lord Pentland’s judgement in the RBS v Hill case, in which Lord Pentland’s judgement contained, without persuasive justification, some damaging comments about sovereignty over the isles which may now be quoted as precedent in future, in a crude attempt to reinforce the authorities’ legal stockade, behind which the weakness of their jurisdiction is concealed.

  • Michael Garriock

    • March 4th, 2014 15:00

    Mr. Hill,

    “The debate seems to be moving on from argument about the historical details, which is just as it should be. We can forget about all that stuff because the courts have now spoken. That is where attention should be focused.”


    So care to elaborate on what the court(s) said when they “spoke”, and whats changed?

    Didn’t you just publish a book, which I’ve gained the impression is a work including those “historical details” – which you seem to have just dismissed after a decade of reiterating your version of them and nothing else, at every opportunity. Won’t this make your book largely redundant – or is it a case of “there’s no such thing as bad publicity”.

    Maybe I am being incredibly dense here, but what exactly did your numerous court appearances achieve? Much as you may believe that the powers that be avoided taking you to court because “….none of them wanted to be standing in court providing an answer to the question ‘is Shetland part of Scotland?’” Perhaps the reality of the situation is considerably more mundane and much less self-serving? That, your so-called “disobedience” was everyday largely harmless nusiances causing minimal harm, not worth their time and trouble, and that it was better to just ignore you for a while in the hopes you might get fed up and go away.

    To the casual observer, your court cases proved nothing. The court maybe didn’t produce “proof” Shetland is part of Scotland, but that doesn’t equate to proving they don’t have any, it equates to proving that in your case they didn’t need to. Why would they elect to enter in to protracted legal debate consuming god knows how many hours of court time and at similar expense, when simply cuffing you and frog marching you to wherever they felt like was quick, simple, and infinitely cheaper.

    The mistake you made in going to court was expecting the dog to bite the hand that feeds it, to expect a Scottish Court to entertain the concept never mind side with you, that territory Scotland has claimed as its own for 500+ years is, and has always been held illegally, was incredibly naive. If you want to “prove” anything is this issue, you need a court outwith the UK, but one which the UK recognises and is duty bound to accept the findings of.

    ” I have shown there is an exit door.”

    We have always known this, its called a democratic majority mandate from Shetland residents to pursue greater autonomy/Crown Dependency/Independence/whatever is voted for.

    • Stuart Hill

      • March 6th, 2014 11:07

      “Maybe I am being incredibly dense here, but what exactly did your numerous court appearances achieve?” They achieved the aim of making the Crown show on what basis it claims authority in Shetland – which turns out to be no more than The Word of Brian.
      “To the casual observer, your court cases proved nothing.” The casual observer should pay more attention.
      What I was challenging is so ingrained and so well indoctrinated that it is almost impossible for most people to contemplate – the idea that Shetland might not be legally part of Scotland. I was under no illusions that any single sheriff or judge could even countenance the idea, but sheriffs and judges are (or should be) subject to the law. Since the question had never previously been tested in the courts, everybody was working on a presumption. Long and firmly held, but still a mere presumption.
      It is fundamental to the court process that the court must be shown evidence of its jurisdiction (its authority). Every action must start with a statement that shows how the court has jurisdiction. Usually that is simple a statement saying “the defendant lives at such and such an address, this court therefore has jurisdiction.”
      If the jurisdiction of the court is challenged, it cannot lawfully or legally proceed without hearing evidence of its jurisdiction. I challenged the court’s jurisdiction on the basis that Shetland is not part of Scotland. It was then up to the pursuer to prove that Shetland is part of Scotland.
      In the traffic case, the Crown produced Brian Smith’s magazine article.
      In the bankruptcy case, the sheriff point blank refused to hear any evidence of jurisdiction.
      In the RBS case, Lord Pentland brushed it aside and made up an argument on the pursuer’s behalf. (Interestingly and somewhat telling was the fact that no costs were awarded to the other side, even though they had ‘won’)
      In each case, the sheriff or judge was in breach of either court rules or the legislation. If there was any proof, it should be easy enough to show – whether it’s me asking for it, or somebody more worthy in your eyes.
      Justice has to be fair and impartial. When it reaches the point when all a sheriff can do is call me a ‘stupid old man’ before throwing me in police cells for a few hours and saying ‘I never want to see you in my court again’ after being unable to enforce the sentence; when I’m jailed while challenging the court’s jurisdiction; when the highest courts in the land accept The Word of Brian as the basis for their authority, these actions do not speak of a judiciary confident in its authority.
      I have declared all the orders in these cases void and the courts do not contest that, but I have not yet got redress. If you would rather live in a society where those in charge of our justice system can make up the rules as they go along, that is a matter for you. To me, it is more reminiscent of a police state. If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck and walks like a duck, then I say it’s a duck.
      I fear my words are wasted however, since I see you favour the idea of a police state: “Why would they elect to enter in to protracted legal debate consuming god knows how many hours of court time and at similar expense, when simply cuffing you and frog marching you to wherever they felt like was quick, simple, and infinitely cheaper.” I think you might change your mind if you were on the other end of such treatment.

      • Michael Garriock

        • March 7th, 2014 21:23


        Perhaps you have encountered genuine evidence from Shetlanders who can trace their local roots back centuries, that proves it “is so ingrained and so well indoctrinated that it is almost impossible for most people to contemplate the idea that Shetland might not be legally part of Scotland.” However, I cannot say I ever have. Be careful here though, that you do not mistaking an act of “just humour the incomer” for something else.

        In my experience the widely held local view of the Scots role in the control of Shetland is that the Scots came, and they took it, and they’ve kept it, because nobody at the time they did it could/would prevent them, and nobody since has had the ability/inclination to unseat them.

        Clearly you are someone who has had some level of faith in state run justice and in the justiciary the state employs to administer it, and despite your more recent encounters with them, you still appear to to retain at least some of that faith. I never have shared that faith, and now very likely never will. Words such as “lawfully” and “legally” etc are just that, words, words that are manipulated by those who control their application and interpretation to serve whatever ends they so choose.

        Contrary to your assumption, I have no desire to live in a police state, however in case you’ve not noticed, its all but impossible not to have to live in one on this planet. Governments the world over tend to run things on that basis.

        I will agree with you on one thing in your OP though. For someone like me who chooses not to self-identify as Scottish, the referendum is something of an irrelevance. If I vote at all it will be “No”, for two reasons. I have no wish to assist them in their power struggles, nor do I wish to assist them in dragging Shetland along with them in their empire building plans by default of where I live.

  • John Tulloch

    • March 4th, 2014 16:54

    @Michael Garriock,

    You’re right, of course, that it would be very difficult to set the clock back on every piece of ground and you’ll need to ask Stuart Hill if he wants to do that as I hadn’t picked up that he does?

    I’m still not convinced Stuart should spend his time attempting to compute what the economy of an autonomous or independent Shetland would be like, I’d say that’s a study which SIC might, appropriately, commission from some expert body and besides, it would keep Stuart ‘out of mischief’ for a very long time and I wouldn’t want that.

    He will, doubtless, speak for himself on this point, however, in my opinion, he has drawn blood over sovereignty and court jurisdiction, forcing the Scottish judiciary into the embarrassment of having to overrule his challenge, effectively, by ‘fiat’, with a concocted ‘fudge’ as a fig leaf to cover Scotland’s five hundred year naked imperialism.

    This has to be acutely embarrassing for the authorities and my own opinion would be that his considerable talents might well be better-employed pressing home his hard-won advantage.

    Stuart never had a snowball’s chance in hell of winning his challenge in a Scottish court, however, an EU or other international tribunal might see it differently.


    • March 5th, 2014 9:46

    Stuart, and maybe even John, might find this hard to believe but, the last time I watched Scotland play Norway in a Lerwick pub, in what was either a World Cup or Euro qualifier, the locals didn’t seem at all confused about their nationality. Regardless of what may, or may not, have happened centuries ago there’s only one sideshow here, and it’s not the Scottish referendum.

    • John Tulloch

      • March 5th, 2014 17:17


      The last time I saw England playing Norway on telly in a Scottish pub I thought the Scots were Norwegian!


      • Dave Cooper

        • March 6th, 2014 9:06

        If an intentional is being shown in a bar more or less anywhere in England. As long as they are not playing England & because they are seen as a home nation the crowd will generally get behind Scotland.
        In almost any Scottish bar the Scots cheer for anyone other than England. The have even been reported incidents of bar owners offering drinks all round every time someone scores against England


    • March 6th, 2014 7:19

    Nice reply, John. It certainly made me smile, however briefly, but I’m afraid it didn’t quite dispel the feeling of exasperation, or should that be ennui, that comes over me whenever I read about Sideshow Stuart and his arcane antics. Good try, though!

    • Harry Dent

      • March 6th, 2014 12:25

      Sideshow Stu! Love it! :o)

    • John Tulloch

      • March 6th, 2014 12:31

      That’s hard to understand, Clive, maybe, it’s something to do with the Munros getting their land at the Cromarty Firth as a reward for fighting the Vikings?

      OK. For me, it isn’t about going back to Norway, it’s about bringing to Shetland people’s attention the state of affairs i.e. apparently no legal jurisdiction, yet using Scottish Law to override udal law to the disadvantage of Shetlanders (and Orcadians) and prevent Shetlanders from taking hold of the reins on their own affairs, like fishing and oil and gas developments in Shetland waters.

      Why, for example, do Shetlanders need to ask permission from and pay rent to, the Crown Estate to have fish farms when there is no legal jurisdiction over the territory?

      Are you comfortable with the Crown overruling udal law in favour of itself in cases like the St Ninian’s Isle Treasure which was hi-jacked by the authorities and taken to Edinburgh, it’s part of Shetland’s heritage and it should be in Shetland.

      It isn’t Shetlanders’ fault that Scotland/UK don’t have legal jurisdiction, it’s the fault of their own authorities’ underhanded dealings in the past.

      So the point is Shetlanders should demand and be granted whatever local powers they wish to have; thanks to the shenanigans of the past, their moral case is unassailable.

  • Michael Garriock

    • March 6th, 2014 15:38

    @ John Tulloch,

    “He will, doubtless, speak for himself on this point, however, in my opinion, he has drawn blood over sovereignty and court jurisdiction, forcing the Scottish judiciary into the embarrassment of having to overrule his challenge, effectively, by ‘fiat’, with a concocted ‘fudge’ as a fig leaf to cover Scotland’s five hundred year naked imperialism.

    This has to be acutely embarrassing for the authorities and my own opinion would be that his considerable talents might well be better-employed pressing home his hard-won advantage.”

    Clearly you hold the Scots establishment in considerably more regard and esteem than I. While you may well be right, I suspect that while he may have given them cause to ruminate for a few minutes over their elevenses on some of the days they had him in the dock, he had already been dismissed permanently from their collective minds before the door was quite done smacking his posterior as he left the building.

    • John Tulloch

      • March 6th, 2014 16:51

      Well, Michael, it’s possible they don’t know how foolish they look and I have to concede that your version would be in line with the Scottish authorities track record of the past.

      I’d still say Stuart has ‘drawn blood’ because the weakness of their jurisdiction has been exposed for all to see.

      • Michael Garriock

        • March 7th, 2014 14:41

        “I’d still say Stuart has ‘drawn blood’ because the weakness of their jurisdiction has been exposed for all to see”.

        In which probably, partly at least lies my laclustre and indifference to the aims of Mr. Hill’s “crusade”. “Da Scots got a len o’ wiz, an widna gie wiz aboot-igyen”, and with it the fact they took over the running of everything “just because they could” has always been commonly held beliefs to the Shetlanders I’ve mixed with for half a century. So there was no expose on Mr. Hill’s part to be had, he was and is preaching to the converted.

        That, and the fact that the alleged irregularities of history aren’t a necessary component to obtaining present day self-determination. We already have the ability to secure any present day self-determination we so choose, all that is necessary to secure it is to establish by democratic poll that a majority of Shetlanders support something other than the status quo, and take that mandate forward.

        Hypothetically speaking, say everything Mr. Hill alleges were to be proven true, what then? Certainly Shetland sovereignty would immediately be placed in limbo, but what next? Without a democratic mandate from the current population to remove the status quo, Shetland would find itself in a position of having to address the situation concerning sovereignty whether they wanted it to change of not. To me that is a cart before the horse situation as it defies logic. Mr. Hill appears to come to the conclusion that a 500+ year old alleged irregularity exists, and must be removed, without first establishing whether the people directly affected have a problem with the results of what that alleged irregularity has evolved in to in the present, or whether those same people favour a different system to the existing.

        By all means if Mr. Hill wishes to research Shetland constitutional history 1492 to present, I have no problem with that. As I’ve said before, there is historical value in it, and perhaps were historical irregularities within that period proven, they could add a little backup pressure to any present day self-determination bid which had been raised on present day standards and merits, but that is all. But to launch a bid for constitutional change in the present day, based solely on a historical irregularity, especially one from 500+ years ago, to me is about as rational as knocking the gable end out of your house without giving a second thought to how or by whom the hole is going to be made weather tight again.

      • John Tulloch

        • March 8th, 2014 12:37

        Fair comment, Michael, I’d be hard-pressed to find fault with much there and I’d only add this thought:

        Stuart Hill has produced a piece of work bringing the historic and legal aspects relating to Orkney and Shetland’s constitutional position within the UK together in one place i.e. “Stolen Isles”, which retired judge Geoffrey Care notes in the Foreword is probably itself unique.

        Stuart’s unprecedented court campaign has generated wide publicity about the lack of legal sovereignty and he has, IMO, ‘drawn blood’ from the Scottish authorities on that score. The weakness of their jurisdiction now sits ‘in stark relief’.

        So if Shetlanders now demand, say, control of the oil fields and fishing grounds, it will be difficult for Edinburgh to waft them away, saying, “You’re part of Scotland whether you like it or not and you’ll get what we decide to give you.”

        Given the nature of his campaign and its outcome, Stuart sets the position out bluntly and it comes as quite a shock to anyone like me who hasn’t thought much about it previously.

        He will, doubtless, speak for himself, however, my own view is that, gIven the “democratic mandate” you refer to, it would be up to Shetland politicians to advance the will of the people by negotiation.

        A great deal of negotiation will be needed to reach a final settlement and Stuart Hill’s work is both relevant to today and of great value to Shetland’s negotiators.


    • March 7th, 2014 9:52

    John, I’m shortly heading off for a blissfully internet-free weekend in Aberdeen but feel, given your concern about my attitude, compelled to quickly try, before I go, to explain why I’ve no time for all this Stuart Hill-related nonsense. Firstly, in your last contribution, you state…”So the point is Shetlanders should demand and be granted whatever local powers they wish to have; thanks to the shenanigans of the past, their moral case is unassailable.”….but, as far as I can see, if their histories were subjected to the same level of rigorous scrutiny there would hardly be a village, town, parish or community anywhere in the world that couldn’t come up with with a Hill-esque reason for declaring independence from whatever greater power is currently subjugating them. It’s a recipe for mayhem, in other words.
    Secondly, I simply don’t recognize Mr. Hill’s patronizing depiction of Shetlanders as, basically, a downtrodden, apathetic and exploited bunch of numpties. Shetland has done remarkably well for itself, in recent times, under both the Scottish and UK governments and it’s population, Mr. Hill included, has reaped numerous benefits from our current constitutional arrangements.
    Thirdly, it’s true that things are a bit tougher at the moment, and I agree with virtually all your points about centralization within the isles, but, personally, I think our current troubles, rather than being the result of external exploitation, are the inevitable result of fairly long-term ineptitude on the part of local politicians. The same people, in fact, that you apparently want to have even more power over our daily lives. That’s the bit I find hard to understand.

    • John Tulloch

      • March 7th, 2014 13:13

      Clive, have fun in Aberdeen.

      You said, “every town and village anywhere in the world…etc..” This is ‘argumentum ad absurdum’ and a fallacy.

      Norway ceded sovereignty of the Western Isles and the Isle of man to Scotland in the Treaty of Perth, 1266 and specifically reserved Orkney and Shetland as Norwegian. It isn’t the same as “every village in the world”.

      Shetland is an island, a 100-odd miles from John o’ Groats. Given the amount of ‘Vikingry’ and fiddle music, etc., that goes on and our Norse history, Shetlanders would readily fit the United Nations requirement of being a ‘people’ in terms of the ‘right to self-determination of peoples’ (UN Charter, Article 1).

      That means Shetlanders have the right to run their own affairs should they so wish.

      Stuart Hill’s research explains why the constitutional position of Orkney and Shetland is unique, certainly, in the UK due to Scotland/UK’s Inability to show they have legal sovereignty over the isles.

      This is a serious issue because it affects the authorities’ jurisdiction, for example, as I understand it, if somebody commits a crime in Shetland and is put on trial, they could ask to be shown proof that the court has legal jurisdiction to try them. Without legal sovereignty, the court has no legal basis on which to administer the law.

      • Brian Smith

        • March 7th, 2014 18:22

        “Given the amount of ‘Vikingry’ and fiddle music, etc., that goes on and our Norse history, Shetlanders would readily fit the United Nations requirement of being a ‘people’ in terms of the ‘right to self-determination of peoples’ (UN Charter, Article 1).”

        Vikingry and fiddle music aren’t mentioned in the UN Charter.

      • John Tulloch

        • March 8th, 2014 7:13

        True, Brian Vikingry and fiddling aren’t mentioned in the UN Charter, however, “the right to self-determination of peoples” is:

        Definition: “3. pl. peo·ples: A body of persons sharing a common religion, culture, language, or inherited condition of life.” (http://www.thefreedictionary.com/people)

        ‘Vikingry and fiddling’ are cultural manifestations of Shetland’s history, both symptomatic of underlying (down-trodden?) resentment of and resistance to, Scottish hegemony. Witness:

        1. The Up Helly-Aa song:
        “When the fight for freedom rages,
        be bold and strong as they.”

        2. Resistance to the ‘auld alliance of ‘Da Laird an’ da Meenister” is writ large in the fiddle tune “Deil stick da Minister”.

        This is borne out in present day politics where, in the Western Isles – ceded to Scotland in 1266 – both Westminster and Holyrood are longstanding SNP parliamentary seats.

        However, in Orkney and Shetland (reserved to Norway in 1266) the Liberals have held sway, wining and dining on the goodwill generated by English Liberal William Gladstone who passed the Crofters Holdings Act, 1886, granting tenant crofters security of tenure.

        Gladstone was revered by Shetlanders of that era, like my late grandmother Aggie Sinclair (1891 – 1990), as a hero and saviour of crofters from the tyranny of the hated lairds.

        Throw in geographical distance and this all adds up to a pretty convincing example of ‘a people’, as defined above, for the purposes of the UN Charter’s ‘right to self-determination of peoples.’

      • Brian Smith

        • March 8th, 2014 11:00

        Yes, Gary & Co. could sing the Norseman’s Home with fiddle accompaniment when they visit the Scottish government next …

      • John Tulloch

        • March 8th, 2014 11:26

        Good idea, Brian – immediately before they commence business!

    • John Tulloch

      • March 7th, 2014 14:36


      I agree that the difficulties Shetland is currently suffering result from the actions of the last several councils. They were not, however, caused by this council who, while I certainly don’t agree with everything they do and say, are making a determined effort to sort out Shetland’s finances.

      The problem lies largely in the structure of local government in which all services are run from Lerwick. That would change with the arrival of autonomy and the opportunity to start with a clean sheet and learn from others’ experiences, good and bad.

      On the whole, the people in the council are both competent and committed, therefore, if the same people were put in charge of an autonomous or independent Shetland, provided the constitution was written to safeguard the interests of country districts and empower them to run key services for themselves, as in Scandinavia, then I see no problem that can’t be overcome using the democratic process.

      To suggest that Shetlanders can’t manage their own affairs is demonstrably false – Faroe, Greenland, Isle of Man, Channel Islands, Aland, Gibraltar and dozens, if not hundreds more relatively small communities are doing ‘nicely, thank you’.

      Where do the Falkland Islanders get the people who run their government?

      • George W. Pottinger

        • March 8th, 2014 0:08

        John, you and whose army are going to bring your fantasy to fruition. It will take a lot of people of similar attitude to establish independence for Shetland, and there is little evidence that they exist.

      • John Tulloch

        • March 8th, 2014 11:03


        It would be more accurate to say that I’m in favour of more local powers for Shetland, up to the level which is most advantageous to Shetland, i.e. up to and including full independence. At present I don’t know exactly what that level is.

        If there were an “army” of people arguing the same case as me, I wouldn’t be so outspoken, I wouldn’t need to be.

        The absence of such an “army” of support doesn’t falsify my arguments and certainly isn’t a reason to stop arguing.

  • Robert Sim

    • March 8th, 2014 13:30

    John, if all you want is more local powers for Shetland Islands Council, you can relax, as the Council is arguing for that with both governments and appears to be making good headway.

    • John Tulloch

      • March 9th, 2014 8:39


      On what basis have you decided that SIC “appears to be making good headway”?

      What does “good headway” represent, “Oh, yes, we’re very strong on subsidiarity, following the ..er…’Declaration of Lerwick’…er.. you’ll get all you want and more….er….ah….after we win the referendum”?

      “Free beer tomorrow”!

      I hate to bring the harsh light of reality in through your rose-tinted, kaleidoscopic spectacles but Alex Salmond’s track record is one of getting what he wants out of people and once he’s got it, throwing them to the wolves.

      I don’t yet know what the optimum level of autonomy is for Shetland and unless somebody has carried out a study in secret, neither does anybody else.

      My ‘gut feeling’ is that it probably lies just short of outright independence in the Faroe/Isle of Man ball park and I’m also unsure about whether an autonomous Shetland would be better off joining an independent Scotland or staying with the UK.

      Given my misgivings about the trustworthiness of the SNP, which were underlined by their recent seizing of SIC’s housing support grant from Westminster, intended as compensation for building oil boom housing, anything they offer must be written on ‘tablets of stone’, irrevocable.

      It’s important that anybody who wants a secure future for Shetland should speak out to make clear that:

      1. They know about the historic weak legality of the Scottish/UK grip on the isles and are aware of their ‘right to self-determination’.

      2. They are ambitious for Shetland’s future and will not accept a ‘fudge’ or ‘beer tomorrow’.

      3. They want SIC to aim commensurately high.

      Shetlanders have waited patiently for five hundred years for ‘the meek to inherit the earth’ and it’s time to stand up and say what they want – NOW – because they may never get another chance, especially, if they vote “Yes” for Scottish independence.

      • Robert Sim

        • March 9th, 2014 19:28

        John, I have decided the ‘Our Islands, Our Future’ campaign is making good headway on the basis of, for example, the information on this page: http://www.shetland.gov.uk/OIOF/The%20campaign%20so%20far.asp. That has to be set alongside is the fact that no other area of Scotland, as far as I am aware, is having this sort of special attention paid to it by both governments. I should also point out that this is not just about the Scottish Government, on which you focus in your post.

        I would also have thought that the best way to achieve more autonomy for the islands is through dialogue with the national government(s). I don’t see what else you are advocating.

        Finally, while I am familiar with the concept of rose-tinted specs, the kaleidoscopic bit is a new one on me 🙂

      • John Tulloch

        • March 10th, 2014 14:13


        Exactly what progress do you see on the “Our Islands Our Future” web page – that the leaders of the three island councils have been awarded “Local Politician of the Year” by the pro-Scottish independence Glasgow Herald?

        The only ray of hope in terms of progress I can see there is the agreement with Alastair Carmichael to “work towards a concordat”, doubtless, “in the..er..fullness of time, etc.,…”

        You, being pro-Scottish independence may be happy for the Scottish government to filibuster what passes for negotiations to take away a large chunk of ‘Scotland’s Oil’ and you may well consider that “good progress”; I most certainly don’t.

        While I support “Our Islands, Our Future”, my concern is mainly with Shetland (and Orkney), which, you have possibly missed, are in a unique constitutional position within the UK in that Scotland/UK are unable to demonstrate they have legal sovereignty.

        It’s therefore entirely reasonable that they should be discussing their constitutional arrangements with both the UK and Scottish governments and apart from the Inner Hebrides, I’m unaware of any of the places which are legally ‘part of Scotland’ having requested consideration of this kind.

        Talking with the governments at an appropriate level is fine and if no progress is achieved – and I see precious little – several options are available, initially, to test the governments’ sincerity.

        If sincere about granting local powers, Holyrood and London would, presumably, have no objection to a former Norwegian province seeking to develop it’s existing trade, cultural and social links with the ‘Old Country’, perhaps, even, with Faroe/Denmark?

        It would benefit Scotland/UK to have a commercial stepping stone to Scandinavia, once the sovereignty conundrum has been, finally, resolved via the formality of a local referendum so why would anyone object?

        After all, the Norwegian prime minister saw fit to visit Shetland and open the Scalloway Museum on Norway’s National Day so presumably, Norwegians still feel considerable affinity towards Shetlanders, opening the possibility of Shetland becoming a friendly commercial interface between Scotland/UK and Scandinavia.

        Most of all, everyone who is ambitious for Shetland needs to speak out, write to your MP/MSP, Alex Salmond, David Cameron and/or the media. Let the politicians know you won’t be fobbed off.

  • George W. Pottinger

    • March 9th, 2014 2:10

    So then John, it’s argument for arguments sake? A bit pointless don’t you think?

  • Bill Smale

    • March 17th, 2014 11:54

    This one seems to have gone quiet lately – are we all done at 139 comments? Is this a record? (The total was a bit more but some contributions appear to have been removed).

  • David Mackenzie

    • March 26th, 2014 19:07

    In between the academic questions there’s a very real one: what status do Shetlanders want for Shetland? There’s only one way to decide. Hold a referendum.

    That’s what 800 people have signed a Scottish Parliament petition for. To join them click here:


    The call is for referenda to be held in Shetland, Orkney and the Western Isles on 25 September, one week after the Scottish vote.

    In each island group, the options will be 1) go independent, 2) stay in Scotland. And if the Scottish vote was “yes”, there will also be a third option: 3) leave Scotland and stay in the UK.

    Never mind who pawned what in the 15th century. If enough people sign this petition, the Scottish Government will have to hold these referenda. Never mind legal points about the past. Let’s decide our future.

    Stuart, Brian, everyoe what do you think?


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