The self-proclaimed King of Everland has been given just over a month to decide whether or not he will apologise to Guernsey's Courts, before he is sentenced for breaking a deal he struck with them.
Steve Ogier appeared in front of the Deputy Bailiff Richard McMahon on Tuesday afternoon where he was found to be in contempt of court. He could now lose his land, face three months in prison or a £50,000 fine.
The States, on behalf of the planning department, were alleging Mr Ogier had breached an official agreement he had made on his last court appearance (12 October 2018) by starting development on an area of land he owns at Ruette du Frocq, Castel. He admitted he had put a shipping container on the land since Christmas, which, in the same way as putting a porta-cabin would have done, amounted to starting development.
While Mr Ogier claimed he had committed no crime, he did fully admit to putting the container there to start work. He had written a letter to the court and the Development & Planning Authority to say he was going to do this just weeks before, even though he had made the undertaking to the Deputy Bailiff previously.
Mr Ogier was arguing 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.
Mr Ogier was last in court in October, where he promised to not continue to develop his land.
He 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.
But Mr McMahon warned Mr Ogier he was at risk of being sent to prison, or facing a fine of up to £50,000. While he could have sentenced him yesterday, the Deputy Bailiff decided to give the self-proclaimed King some time to think about what he was doing, and to think about whether he really wanted to go to prison - he said if Mr Ogier would just apologise and comply with the planning department's request, he would be treated more leniently. Mr Ogier is also at risk of losing the land he claims is his country if he cannot put money together to pay back the 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 Mr 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 permanant population - neither of these criteria were fulfilled. On top of that, it was not down to the island's courts to recognise a new nation, it would have to come from the Ministry of Justice, as Everland would be in the British Isles. Because the MoJ has not commented on the new state, the court could assume its position was as before independence was declared - that the land is part of Guernsey.
The incidents surrounding 'King Steve' of Everland all started some years ago, when Mr Ogier looked to apply for planning permission to change the bunkers on his parcel of Castel land to residential, or, failing that, for permission to build a small house for him and his daughter. But after two meetings with the Development & Planning Authority, he was told not to bother actually applying because he would never get permission.
Because of this, in May 2018, Mr Ogier declared independence from Guernsey, stating that he was creating a micro-nation on the land he owned. The first law he passed in his new state - Everland - was 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 Mr Ogier's new kingdom, and have been pursuing him since he started development. That came to a head with yesterday's court hearing.
Mr 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.
Pictured top: Steve Ogier and his land, which now has a shipping container on.
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