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Hill handcuffed…then given a hearing

A SELF-styled Shetland independence campaigner found himself in the cells briefly on Tuesday after he challenged the jurisdiction of Lerwick Sheriff Court.

Stuart Hill, aged 68, of Bard View, Ocraquoy, Cunningsburgh, has been charged with 12 motoring offences on 15 June and 5 July while driving two separate vans in Lerwick, including having no insurance, tax, driving licence or MOT.

He also faces two charges of obstructing police officers by locking himself into his vans, which he claims are consular vehicles for the independent island of Forvik.

Mr Hill does not accept the Scottish courts have powers in Shetland, nor that he has to register his vehicles with the UK authorities and has therefore yet to make a plea.

His claim is based on the belief that Shetland was never legally handed over to Scotland and the UK and Scottish governments have therefore no authority here.

When he was called to the dock on Tuesday he initially refused to acknowledge that he was Stuart Alan Hill, describing himself as “Stuart, of the family Hill”.

Sheriff Graeme Napier said: “Can we just get to the point and stop this monkeying about. Is your name Stuart Hill?”

“I am a sovereign in my own right,” Mr Hill replied.

The sheriff then invited procurator fiscal Duncan Mackenzie to ask for a warrant for his arrest, which was granted and Mr Hill was taken to the cells saying he regarded himself as having been assaulted. A troop of around a dozen supporters filed out of the court.

However he only remained in the cells for 20 minutes before being called back to the court room, where the sheriff apologised for what he had said earlier.

“I think it is appropriate for me to apologise because I think I accused you of mucking about. I apologise for that, but I do think there is a pantomime going on,” Sheriff Napier said.

“It’s an important matter for you, I understand that. It is easier for all of us to deal with this in a civilised way.”

There followed a 90 minute debate between Mr Hill, Mr Mackenzie and the sheriff about the history of Shetland, the Viking invasion around 800, the pawning of the islands by the Danish crown in 1469 and the subsequent powers wielded over the islands by the Scottish and UK authorities, including its territorial waters.

Mr Hill initially claimed that it was up to the court to prove its jurisdiction over him, but when asked to cite an authority for this claim he referred to three US legal cases, suggesting they were universally applicable.

He then submitted an inch thick file to the court to back up his general claim, which the sheriff and the fiscal read and asked questions.

Mr Mackenzie said that Mr Hill had failed to recognise the importance of custom forming the basis of Scottish law and that neither Norway nor Denmark, or anyone else, had challenged the powers of Scotland in Shetland.

Mr Hill, who has lived in the islands for the past 10 years, said that people in Shetland had been too downtrodden to question the authority over them.

“It’s very apparent to anyone who comes here that Shetland people are very reluctant to stand up and challenge authority,” he said.

The case has been continued until 2pm on Wednesday when Sheriff Napier will make a ruling on Mr Hill’s claims.

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