Sovereign State of Forvik

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The Sovereign State of Forvik, previously referred to as the Crown Dependency of Forvik, is an unrecognised micronation run by Stuart "Captain Calamity" Hill. It consists of the island of Forewick Holm.

The micronation of Forvik was created in June 2008 by the island's disputed owner, sole occasional occupant, and Cunningsburgh resident, Stuart Hill when he unilaterally declared Forvik to be a British Crown Dependency. Although Hill asserts the matter is for the Monarch to decide, a spokesperson for the United Kingdom Ministry of Justice stated that under the Constitution of the United Kingdom, Forvik is part of the Shetland Islands and as such is subject to United Kingdom legislation. The Shetland Islands Council Convenor Sandy Cluness has not dismissed Hill's actions out of hand and said official bodies would wait and see how it progressed.

Hill has instituted various forms of citizenship - Shetland residents may apply for one square metre plots of land with voting rights, whilst others may apply for honorary citizenship on the promise of a share of future income. Both classes of citizenship are offered on the payment of an annual tax.

Although Hill admits that the amount of seabed he is claiming is small, he is inviting well established companies to negotiate for oil exploration rights.

Name[edit]

The name Forvik Island was coined by Hill who asserts that it means "island of the bay of sheep".[1] Wick is a development of vik, a Norse word for bay. Holm is a common name in the Orkney and Shetland Islands for a small, rounded island.

"Forvik" is not a recorded historical form, but a pseudo-Norse version of "Forewick", which is the name of a headland on the adjacent island of Papa Stour.

Ownership[edit]

Ownership of the Forewick Holm is in dispute between Papa Stour resident Mark King and Stuart Hill.

Hill states that King donated the island's udal title (allodial title) to Hill in 2008.[2][3]

King stated this was not the case and that he had agreed to sell the island to Hill. In March 2009 King still claimed ownership stating that Hill had not paid for the island as agreed.[4]

Declaration of Dependence[edit]

Forewick Holm from Sandness on Mainland Shetland with Papa Stour in the background

Hill is an Englishman who settled in Shetland after being shipwrecked there in 2001 during a failed attempt to circumnavigate the British Isles. This earned him the nickname "Captain Calamity".[5][6] On 21 June 2008, Hill unilaterally declared Forvik to be a British Crown Dependency, and thus not a part of the United Kingdom or of the European Union.[7][8]

Hill's declaration of dependence is founded on an arrangement struck in 1469 between King Christian I of Denmark/Norway and Scotland's King James III, whereby Christian effectively pawned the Shetland Islands to James in order to raise money for his daughter's dowry. Hill contends that, as the loan was never repaid and no other legal agreement ever put in place, Shetland remains in a constitutional limbo, and should properly enjoy the status of Crown Dependencies such as the Isle of Man or the Channel Islands.[8]

Hill's announcement coincided with an actual legal challenge by Shetland Islands Council to the British Crown Estate's control over the seabed surrounding the islands.[8]

Hill is quoted in one British media report as saying "It's all jolly good fun," and that "Every pensioner should do something like this."[8]

However, he has also stated that "this is not just a whim, something I am doing to amuse myself. This is a serious endeavour to change things here in Shetland, to have a better democracy which will ripple out to the rest of the world, because it is sorely needed. There has been absolutely no response from the authorities so far. It has to come to a confrontation at some point, whether that be physical or in the courts. I am ready when they are."[9]

Letter to Queen Elizabeth II[edit]

On 23 June 2008 Hill wrote a letter[10] to Queen Elizabeth II recognising her as Forvik's head of state, with the same powers as assigned to King James III of Scotland at the time of the pawning of Shetland in 1469, and explaining the constitutional basis for his doing so.

Hill further stated that, "As absolute owner of Forvik and as provided for in the Act of Annexation of 1669, I humbly offer my services to Your Majesty as Steward of this, probably the smallest of your territories outside the United Kingdom."

To date Hill has not reported a response from the Queen.

Response from United Kingdom Government[edit]

On 20 June 2008 a United Kingdom Ministry of Justice spokesperson in London when asked about Mr Hill's forthcoming Declaration of Dependence, replied that, "Under the UK constitution, Forvik is part of the Shetland Islands, which is subject to UK legislation. The people of Shetland pay taxes to the United Kingdom exchequer and elect MPs to the UK parliament. Forvik is an integral part of the UK."[11]

The Ministry of Justice administers communications between the UK government and the three existing Crown Dependencies of Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man.[12] Guidance to civil servants notes that the existing Crown Dependencies have never been part of the UK, and there is therefore no historical precedent for Hill's "declaration".[13]

Response from Shetland Islands Council[edit]

Shetland Islands Council Convenor Sandy Cluness, who has been active in promoting greater local autonomy for Shetland, has not dismissed Mr Hill's actions out of hand, being quoted as saying on 24 June 2008 that official bodies would "wait and see how this one goes".

Further Cluness stated that, "[the Forvik Declaration of Dependence] raises interest in the question of what Shetland's status should be, as is his intention. Many Shetlanders would be quite interested to see whether this has any impact on views in relation to greater autonomy for the isles. From time to time, it has been the council's policy that we could provide a better service if we had greater control of our own resources. From that point of view he is spot on."[9]

On 1 August 2008 a letter to the Shetland Islands News was published (apparently from Shetland Islands Council employee, Guy Nightingale) which mocked Mr Hill including the regular coverage[14] of Mr Hill in The Shetland Times, referred to him as "a king caught half way between a bucket of ridicule and a bucket of excrement", and appeared to make a veiled threat regarding debt collection (related to Mr Hill's recent refusal to pay VAT to Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs[15]): "If I see him again I am going to report my sighting to 'the Flea',[16] get a cut of his debt collection fee and become a Shetland bounty hunter!".[17]

Citizenship[edit]

Hill is accepting Forvik citizenship applications; land-owning citizenship (Shetland Islands residents only) which includes a one square metre plot of land, and honorary citizenship which doesn't but is open to non-Shetlanders. Both types of citizen will pay an annual skat (tax) of one Forvik Gulde per year.[18]

Land-owning citizens will be entitled to vote and participate in the island's open direct democracy system and will decide how the island's income is spent and what projects are undertaken. For each plot of land sold, Hill states that one Gulde will be placed in a holding account until all 8,000 plots are sold. This money is to be held for a purpose to be disclosed at a later stage, but stated as "to the benefit of the Shetland Islands population as a whole."[18]

Local experts speculate that 8,000 plots is a deliberately chosen number, related to the 8,000 Florins of the Rhine for which Shetland was pawned to James III of Scotland by Christian I of Denmark in 1469. Mr Hill has neither confirmed or denied any connection.[19] No person or their immediate family is permitted to own more than twenty plots. Votes are one per person, but shares in future Forvik profits are to be apportioned per plot.

An honorary citizen is a non-land owning, non-voting citizen, but who is entitled to a share in the island’s future income. Applications are open to "suitable persons" from anywhere in the world.

As of 25 July 2008 three Shetland Islands residents had applied for and received land-owning citizenship, joining "hundreds of people around the globe" who had paid to apply for honorary citizenship.[20]

There are no full-time residents of the island or permanent structures.[21] Hill stays in a house in Cunningsburgh on Shetland's south mainland and travels to and from the island on a small flat-bottomed plywood home made boat. Mr Hill had to be rescued by a Coastguard helicopter and RNLI Lifeboat on 14 September 2008 after his vessel began to sink. His boat was described as "ramshackle" and a "floating wardrobe" and was criticised by his rescuers for having no lifejacket or radio aboard.[22][23][24][25]

Oil exploration[edit]

On 18 July 2008 Hill began inviting companies with a "proven track record" to bid for oil exploration rights in Forvik's territorial waters.[26][27]

Hill contends[28] that Forvik's territorial waters cover an area bounded:

60°19.28′N 01°39.85′W / 60.32133°N 1.66417°W / 60.32133; -1.66417 60°18.97′N 01°40.4′W / 60.31617°N 1.6733°W / 60.31617; -1.6733
60°18.80′N 01°39.23′W / 60.31333°N 1.65383°W / 60.31333; -1.65383 60°19.12′N 01°39.81′W / 60.31867°N 1.66350°W / 60.31867; -1.66350

In an interview on the same day, Hill stated his claim to the seabed while up to the 200-mile limit (or to the median line between Forvik and other states) would likely exclude the corridor 200 miles west of Shetland because Shetland’s rights from Papa Stour and the west of Sandness would occlude Forvik's rights. "Even so, the piece of seabed that I am claiming is certainly large enough to put an oil rig on. It has long been rumoured that Shetland is sitting on a basin of oil and as oil discoveries continue to be made ever closer to Shetland’s shores, this would appear to be confirmed," continued Hill.[26]

He elaborated in a different interview: "The waters around Shetland belong to Shetland and I think the British government will find it very difficult to prove that they have any rights which would enable them to licence the oil companies. Making this offer is a direct challenge to the UK government. I will be delighted if and when oil companies contact me for those exploration rights."[29]

See also[edit]


References[edit]

  1. ^ "Forvik Island". shetlopedia.com. Retrieved 22 June 2008. 
  2. ^ "Who owns Forvik?". forvik.com. Retrieved 26 June 2010. 
  3. ^ Riddel, Neil (20 June 2008). "Captain Calamity’ goes it alone again, this time safe on dry land". shetlandtimes.co.uk. Retrieved 2 July 2008. 
  4. ^ "War of words over Forvik after island owner reveals it was gift". ShetlandTimes.co.uk. 6 March 2009. Retrieved 8 August 2010. 
  5. ^ "'Captain Calamity' returns to sea". BBC News. 2001-07-21. Retrieved 2010-05-24. 
  6. ^ "Lucky escape for 'Captain Calamity'". BBC News. 2001-08-22. Retrieved 2010-05-24. 
  7. ^ Forvik Declaration of Direct Dependence
  8. ^ a b c d Khan, Urmee (19 June 2008). "Captain Calamity to create new state in Shetland islands". London: telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 22 June 2008. 
  9. ^ a b [1][dead link]
  10. ^ "Welcome to Forvik". Forvik.co.uk. Retrieved 8 August 2010. 
  11. ^ "Captain Calamity’ goes it alone again, this time safe on dry land
  12. ^ " Crown Dependencies" Ministry of Justice. Retrieved 24 August 2008.
  13. ^ "Briefing background information on Crown Dependencies; Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man" (2006) (pdf) Department for Constitutional Affairs. Retrieved 24 August 2008.
  14. ^ "Stuart Hill". ShetlandTimes.co.uk. Retrieved 8 August 2010. 
  15. ^ Forvik wins some local backing as trio snap up plots of land and voting rights
  16. ^ "Allison Duncan - Shetlopedia - The Shetland Encyclopaedia". Shetlopedia. 11 July 2010. Retrieved 8 August 2010. 
  17. ^ The King spotted in Sandness!
  18. ^ a b Forvik - Forvik
  19. ^ "Forvik Island - Shetlopedia - The Shetland Encyclopaedia". Shetlopedia. Retrieved 8 August 2010. 
  20. ^ Forvik wins some local backing as trio snap up plonts of land and voting rights
  21. ^ "Hill issues invitation to oil firms over rights to the Forvik seabed". ShetlandTimes.co.uk. 18 July 2008. Retrieved 8 August 2010. 
  22. ^ "Captain Calamity rescued again from Shetland seas - Scotsman.com News". Edinburgh: News.scotsman.com. 16 September 2008. Retrieved 8 August 2010. 
  23. ^ Cramb, Auslan (15 September 2008). "'Captain Calamity' rescued again A sailor nicknamed "Captain Calamity" after he was rescued seven times when he tried to sail round Britain has been saved by the coastguard again.". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 30 April 2010. 
  24. ^ "Calamity at sea as King of Forvik loses craft in stormy weather". ShetlandTimes.co.uk. 19 September 2008. Retrieved 8 August 2010. 
  25. ^ "'Captain Calamity' rescued for 8th time after setting sail in 'floating wardrobe'". The Daily Record. Retrieved 8 August 2010. 
  26. ^ a b "Hill issues invitation to oil firms over rights to the Forvik seabed". ShetlandTimes.co.uk. 18 July 2008. Retrieved 8 August 2010. 
  27. ^ "Island owner welcomes oil bids". The Daily Record. 19 July 2008. Retrieved 8 August 2010. 
  28. ^ "Oil Exploration". Forvik.com. Retrieved 8 August 2010. 
  29. ^ [2][dead link]

External links[edit]