The self-proclaimed ‘King’ of a small plot of land in Guernsey has been given one month to apologise to the island’s Royal Court or face being jailed after breaking the law.
Ruler of ‘Everland’ Steve Ogier declared independence in May 2018 after he was refused planning permission to change develop the bunkers on his parcel of land or build a small house there.
He described his Castel plot as a “micro-nation”, with the first law passed in his new state being that the entire country could be used for residential purposes.
He now claims he has 200 residents in Guernsey, but none of them are able to live in the country because of the ongoing legal disputes.
Planning has never fully recognised Ogier's new kingdom, and have been pursuing him since he started development.
Pictured: Ogier was last in court in October, where he promised to not continue to develop his land.
That came to a head in a Royal Court hearing this week when ‘King Steve’ was found to be in contempt of court, and therefore at risk of losing his land, facing three months in prison or a £50,000 fine.
The hearing, which came before Guernsey’s Deputy Bailiff Richard McMahon, saw the island’s States allege he had breached an official agreement during his last court appearance in October by putting a shipping container there, which amounted to starting development.
Ogier claimed he had committed no crime, he fully admitted to putting the container there. He said he had written to the court and Planning authority weeks before to tell them this.
He argued that neither the court, nor the planning department, had any jurisdiction over him because his land is not part of Guernsey. He also said because he had not shaken hands with the Judge when he made the deal in October, it was not official.
"The judiciary on this island do not shake hands with litigants, but make orders," the Deputy Bailiff said.
Pictured: Everland's 'King' is facing prison or a substantial fine.
The ‘King’ repeatedly asked to be shown "in black and white" where the law said he could not claim independence. He said until he had seen this, he would keep going toward "his destiny", by being the King of Everland.
While he could have sentenced him yesterday, the Deputy Bailiff decided to give the self-proclaimed royal time to think about whether he really wanted to go to prison.
He said if Ogier would apologise and comply with the planning department, he would be treated more leniently.
Ogier is also at risk of losing the land he claims is his country if he cannot put money together to pay back the Guernsey’s States for the proceedings - in this case, the land could be seized as an asset.
Summing up why the court did and could not recognise Ogier's independence from Guernsey, Mr McMahon took advice from the States' Advocate Robin Gist.
For a new nation to be official, it would have to be recognised by another nation, and would need a permanent population – criteria that had not been fulfilled.
Furthermore, the island’s courts were unable to recognise a new nation – this would have to be done by the Ministry of Justice, as Everland would form part of the British Isles. This hadn’t happened, so the land remained part of Guernsey.
Ogier will be sentenced on the 22 March for contempt of court - at that hearing, the courts will also decide whether to pass the costs of the proceedings onto him.
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