Back to Start
Previous page

It is almost universally presumed that Orkney and Shetland are part of Scotland. If that is true, it should be easy for those exercising power here to demonstrate the basis of their power. When exactly did Orkney and Shetland become part of Scotland? How did it happen? Is there a document? All perfectly reasonable questions, but nobody can give an answer to any of them. The reason is simple – it never happened. Historians will write books, ‘interpret’ the facts and come up with a plausible story, but only a court of law can give a legal determination.

Although a legal answer is required, this is not a job for a lawyer. This book challenges the very foundation of the law in Shetland – something that cannot be done by anyone whose livelihood relies on the preservation of that system. Mine has been a pretty steep learning curve as I have grappled with the Scottish legal system (often being beaten by it), but persistence did achieve the objective. Truly remarkable was the extreme lengths to which members of the judiciary were prepared to go in order not to confront the issue.

It is fundamental to any western legal system that a court must hear evidence of its jurisdiction if that jurisdiction is challenged. No judge should be offended by such a challenge and the evidence should be readily available. I have been faced with a point-blank refusal to hear any evidence on jurisdiction, have been convicted on the flimsiest of evidence and have been confined to police cells and been sent to prison when making such a challenge. In one case, the judge even constructed an argument on behalf of the pursuer when they were unable to come up with their own. These actions do not speak of a judiciary confident in its authority. They come closer to the actions of a police state. The velvet glove thinly veils the iron fist.

In the course of discovering the true basis of Scottish and UK authority in Shetland it has been necessary to challenge the legal system and break the perceived law. That has unavoidably been a one-man exercise.

The research also has been largely a solo effort, although I am grateful for the help I have received from many who have contributed documents and brought material to my attention. Brian Smith, the Shetland archivist, features large in this account because his is the key document in the whole saga. His books have proved to be very helpful and he has brought documents to my attention that I would not otherwise have known about. We differ in our interpretation, but there is no personal animosity.

Page 5