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On August 16th 2011 the question of whether Shetland is part of Scotland was considered in court for the first time in history and we now have the document on which Scotland and the UK base their authority. The evidence produced by the Crown at Lerwick Sheriff Court was a magazine article expressing the mere opinion of a non-legal expert – ‘When did Shetland become Part of Scotland?’ by Brian Smith. The article contains no proof and does not even pretend to be authoritative – it is subtitled ‘A contribution to the debate’. It would not be admissible evidence in any normal court of law. I am confident its author did not intend it to be used as it was, but this was the only straw for the Crown to clutch at in its desperation, such is the lack of evidence.

Alleged sheriff Graeme Napier’s decision that he had jurisdiction was supported at appeal by four law lords, so the Crown’s position is now revealed for what it is. On this pathetic crutch rests the whole authority of Scotland, the UK and even the EU in Orkney and Shetland. Like ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’ the Crown’s claim is supported by the highest authorities and at the same time revealed in its nakedness.

Do we want to continue building on sand, or would we rather build on solid rock? The ‘Our Islands, Our Future’ campaign concedes the crucial point before it even begins, but that is to be expected when all our elected representatives are bound by their oaths and declarations to work within the existing system, no matter how flawed it may be.

People are beginning to open their eyes and there is a nagging doubt in the mind of many Shetlanders that something is not quite right. In spite of being more prosperous than most areas of the UK, cuts imposed by a government in London because of the actions of greedy bankers are now beginning to hurt Shetland and more people are asking pertinent questions.

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