Skye bridge toll is 'lawful'

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The controversial tolls for crossing the Skye bridge are lawful, a court ruled yesterday.

Sheriff James Fraser rejected the argument of protesters charged with alleged non-payment of the pounds 4.30 toll as some 70 protesters packed the tiny courtroom in Dingwall, Highland, to hear his ruling on legal arguments against the charge.

The group, led by a piper and carrying banners and waving flags, had marched to the courthouse through the town.

Neil Murray QC, for the 180 people facing charges of non-payment of the pounds 4.30 toll, had earlier argued that the charge was incompetent under several statutory rules. He claimed the New Roads and Streets Act 1991, under which the tolls were charged, was contrary to the 1707 Treaty of Union andalso argued that the Secretary of State for Scotland was acting beyond his powers in introducing the toll order in 1992.

Sheriff Fraser ruled in favour of the Crown in test cases against three of the accused, and refused the defence immediate right to appeal.

Following a short adjournment the court then read the names of all 184 accused, with the majority maintaining their not guilty pleas. The trial of the first, George Anderson, will take place on 11 April.