An 80-year-old sovereignty campaigner and the woman he has been offering unofficial legal advice were both locked up today after testing a sheriff’s patience too far.
Stuart Hill, of Cunningsburgh, is alleged to have been in contempt of court by publishing a 24-page “statement of truth” regarding the case of Sandra Irvine, 60, from Dunrossness.
The document included various allegations, including that Sheriff Ian Cruickshank had himself been guilty of contempt of court during Irvine’s previous hearing and that he was “culpable of impersonating a sheriff”.
Sheriff Cruickshank ordered Hill be remanded in custody until Monday when another court will hear the allegations against him.
Irvine was also sent to the cells after repeatedly refusing to comply with a bail order to undergo a mental health assessment.
Rather than agree to attend, she kept asking the sheriff how he had the authority to force her into having the assessment.
After the final time of asking, the sheriff said the situation was “ridiculous” and he had no option but remand Irvine in custody.
Irvine had been taken into custody for refusing to accept bail conditions during her previous appearance at Lerwick Sheriff Court on 12th July, when she denied charges of shouting and swearing at two people near her home.
She was eventually bailed on the condition she attend the assessment – and stop sending correspondence to the court.
But ahead of her appearance today, Hill published a document on his website and sent copies to the court and media, accusing the sheriff of contempt of court and acting with political motivation.
Hill claimed Irvine had been subject to “unlawful imprisonment and coercion” and claimed the sheriff had “barracked and bullied” her.
Clearly unimpressed, Sheriff Cruickshank ordered Hill to enter the dock.
Firstly, he asked Hill whether he had been recording court proceedings, which is a criminal offence.
Hill replied to say that was “possible”, adding he thought he was entitled to do so.
Then the sheriff asked Hill whether he was responsible for the “statement of truth” document, noting that several sections included “verbatim” accounts of what had been said in court, leading him to believe it had been recorded.
The sheriff went on ask Hill about various claims in the document and its allegations that there had been a “miscarriage of justice” when Irvine was last in court.
Hill’s document said the grounds for a psychiatric assessment were contrived and weaponised, seemingly for political or other reasons.
It likened Lerwick Sheriff Court to an “Alice in Wonderland world” where a “man in a wig holds a conversation with somebody he can neither see nor hear” and questioned “who is most in need of psychiatric assessment?”
Sheriff Cruickshank said he had previously “turned a blind eye” to Hill’s behaviour – but to do so any longer would be “failing in my duties”.
While he said he did not give “two hoots” about Hill challenging his own authority, the sheriff said he could not allow the authority and integrity of the court to be questioned.
The sheriff said that because of Hill’s “personal attack” against him, it would not be appropriate to deal with the matter.
Instead, he said he would be referring the contempt of court allegations to the Sheriff Principal Derek Pyle to deal with – or to appoint another sheriff.
He said remanding Hill was necessary as he would only “perpetuate these allegations further” and place more contemptuous material in the public domain if released.
Recalling Irvine’s case, the sheriff told the accused she would be remanded in custody until tomorrow when a medical practitioner is summoned to carry out the assessment.
“I will refuse,” Irvine said.
The sheriff warned Irvine that if she did refuse he would have to consider contempt of court proceedings.