A SHETLAND-based pensioner who drove two vans without tax, MOT or insurance to challenge the court’s jurisdiction over the islands, was found guilty of driving offences at Lerwick Sheriff Court on Wednesday.
Sentence on 68 year old Stuart Hill, of Bard View, Ockraquoy, Cunningsburgh, was deferred until Thursday to see if he is fit to perform unpaid work as part of a community payback order.
Hill, who arrived in Shetland 10 years ago after a boating accident, has been running a self-styled independence campaign for several years claiming that Scotland and the UK governments have no authority in the islands.
As part of his campaign this year he registered two Mercedes vans as consular vehicles for the state of Forvik, an uninhabited island off Shetland for which he claimed independence three years ago.
He was arrested by police in Lerwick on 15 June and 5 July for driving defective vans without recognised documentation.
He pled not guilty to 12 charges and went to trial after his claim that the court had no jurisdiction in the isles was thrown out by Sheriff Graeme Napier after a two hour hearing in August.
On Wednesday procurator fiscal Duncan Mackenzie only pressed ahead with six charges after discovering that Hill did have a current valid UK driving licence. Other charges relating to the state of the vehicles and obstructing police were dropped
Mr Mackenzie’s main concern was the lack of insurance, especially when he asked who would pay the cost of treatment for life changing injuries if he was involved in an accident.
Hill produced a certificate from Forvik State Insurance, which he claimed could be backed by the sale of the island, for which he said he had been offered £8.2 million. He refused to sell because he did not agree with the purposes for which the island was to be used.
Mr Mackenzie accused Hill of using “Google law” and described the documents as “ridiculous”, saying: “This document is something you would find in the Ealing comedy Passport to Pimlico.”
After several false starts, misunderstandings and disputes about whether the 1988 Road Traffic Act and the Vehicle Excise and Registration Act of 1994 were “laws under God”, Hill referred to Article Four of the 1707 Act of Union in his defence.
This, he said, gave him “full freedom and intercourse of movement from any port of place”, without barriers such as road tax and an MOT. He also cited a parking ticket appeal against Sunderland City Council, which the sheriff pointed out was not held in a Scottish court.
Summing up, Hill said he believed he had no case to answer. “I don’t accept the jurisdiction of this court or the United Kingdom or Scotland here, and those acts under which these charges are brought are irrelevant to both me and to Shetland in general.”
Sheriff Graeme Napier took no time in finding Hill guilty of all six charges and fined him a total of £1,400, imposing 12 penalty points, which means he is automatically disqualified from driving for six months.
However when Hill said that he had no spare cash from his monthly £500 income from his pension, the sheriff decided to defer sentence until Thursday to see if he would be suitable to carry out unpaid work.
“I can’t help feeling you have got yourself into a very difficult situation for reasons I know you think are laudable, but you could find yourself in significant difficulty,” the sheriff said.
“I have kept these fines down to the barest minimum I could impose. I have not made an example of you in relation to any of this.”
He warned Hill that if he did impose a community payback order and he did not comply he would be sent to prison. “I don’t think you want to spend time in Craiginches,” he said. “That’s to be a decision for me,” Hill replied.
Become a supporter of Shetland News
Shetland News is asking its many readers to consider start paying for their dose of the latest local news delivered straight to their PC, tablet or mobile phone.
Journalism comes at a price and because that price is not being paid in today’s rapidly changing media world, most publishers - national and local - struggle financially despite very healthy audience figures.
Most online publishers have started charging for access to their websites, others have chosen a different route. Shetland News currently has over 430 supporters who are all making small voluntary financial contributions. All funds go towards covering our cost and improving the service further.
Your contribution will ensure Shetland News can: -
- Bring you the headlines as they happen;
- Stay editorially independent;
- Give a voice to the community;
- Grow site traffic further;
- Research and publish more in-depth news, including more Shetland Lives features.
If you appreciate what we do and feel strongly about impartial local journalism, then please become a supporter of Shetland News by either making a single payment or monthly subscription.
Support us from as little as £3 per month – it only takes a minute to sign up. Thank you.Support Shetland News