The three-year saga of ‘Everland’, and its determined, self-proclaimed ‘King’ is coming to a close, after he was found guilty of breaking planning laws by Guernsey's Royal Court.
Steve Ogier stood trial this week, charged with five counts of break planning law. He maintained his sovereignty right to the very end, even as the nine Jurats announced him guilty on all counts.
20 court appearances and years of litigation have led Mr Ogier to find himself in the Royal Court, facing up to two years in prison. It all started in 2018, with some trucks and some mud.
Pictured: Mr Ogier has accrued £20,400 in court fees and could now be hit with a fine after sentencing.
Mr Ogier owns a parcel of land on Ruette du Frocq in the Castel, earmarked as agricultural land in the Island Development Plan. Mr Ogier bought the land in 2011 and in December that year he had planning permission approved to use two bunkers on site for storage. This ran out two years later, but in 2016 this permission was approved again and Mr Ogier was allowed to park one car on site and use the bunkers as storage spaces.
Fast forward to January 2018. Mr Ogier sought advice on changing the use of the land from domestic storage to living accommodation. He was told that since the bunker was not suitable for conversion, a change of use was highly unlikely to be granted, and in any case, work should not be done without prior planning permission.
On 18 September 2018, the Planning Department was tipped off that a number of trucks had been seen shifting substantial quantities of soil away from the site, and that muddy tracks had been left across the road.
Pictured: The land in the Castle houses a number of German bunkers which have been uncovered further through groundworks.
Dave Perrio was called in to investigate. Mr Perrio was a Planning Enforcement Officer at the time but has since retired. He was called as a witness by the Crown Prosecutor, Chris Dunford, during the trial, to help build a timeline of events.
Mr Perrio recorded development on the property, which he said included substantial groundworks, the erection of a shed and the construction of a dry stone wall; none of which had had planning permission granted. He also noted during his investigations that more than one vehicle had been parked on the site, which was in breach of the permission he had been granted back in 2016.
However, by this point, Mr Ogier had decided that he did not need planning permission, because ‘Everland’ was no longer part of Guernsey.
Due to his claimed sovereignty and his dismissal of Guernsey’s jurisdiction over his land, Mr Ogier ignored every compliance letter he was sent.
Pictured: Mr Perrio noted the 'everland' flag on one of his many visits.
His claim, he said, was a protest. Mr Ogier didn’t agree with the IDP’s guidance that his site couldn’t be built on. He argued that there is no legal reason why he couldn’t claim sovereignty and ignore the rules being forced upon him. Even if this was a protest, Mr Ogier has argued that he has not broken a single law by announcing himself as ‘king’ of his own land.
“I will never stand down,” Mr Ogier announced during his trial.
Despite his accusations that Guernsey’s legal system is corrupt and that a Bailiff or Deputy Bailiff should not be presiding over his case, he lost that case in the Ordinary Division of the Royal Court. Deputy Bailiff Jessica Roland concluded that Mr Ogier could stand criminal trial, because the 2005 Planning Law does apply to his land.
Since the start of the process, Mr Ogier has written letters to the UK Prime Minister, the UN and various legal bodies asking for assistance or representation, but he has received no backing. His suspicions of any state-appointed advocate have led Mr Ogier to trial completely unrepresented.
Pictured: Mrs Roland was joined by a full sitting of Jurats during the trial in the Royal Court.
He stood trial for five counts of breaking planning law. During the process the nine sitting Jurats were repeatedly reminded that this case was to be taken on its own merit, that any jurisdictional question marks had been cleared and were now irrelevant to the proceedings. They were simply to decide whether Mr Ogier was guilty of ignoring a raft of compliance notices.
Due to his insistence that Guernsey has no control over ‘Everland’, Mr Ogier did not enter a guilty or not guilty plea, simply stating “I’m an innocent man”. This was taken by the Royal Court as a not guilty plea.
Before the Jurats retired to make a decision Mr Ogier made a final statement to the court.
“The fact remains that no evidence has been given to counter my argument, it does not say in law that I cannot claim independence.”
Following an unusual trial, with Mr Ogier continuing to maintain his sovereignty despite it no longer having any legal relevance, he was found guilty on all five counts.
His case has now been adjourned until 15 March for sentencing, so that a probation report can be drawn up. Ogier has been placed on bail awaiting sentencing.
Pictured top: Steve Ogier repeated his impassioned mantra thoughout the trial: "I am not a criminal."
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