‘Freeman on the land’ causes chaos in court

David Macrae has pleaded not guilty at Livingston Sheriff Court. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
David Macrae has pleaded not guilty at Livingston Sheriff Court. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
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A SELF-STYLED “Freeman on the land” has caused chaos in court as he claimed the hearing was “an unjust assault on my sovereignty”.

David Macrae, 42, claims to be part of a loose group of people who hold that laws passed by parliament are unjustified and can only be enforced if an individual consents.

He has pleaded not guilty at Livingston Sheriff Court to illegally bypassing the electricity meter at his home in Blackburn, West Lothian and producing and possessing the class B drug cannabis on February 5 last year.

At the court yesterday he shouted down Sheriff Peter Hammond and repeatedly interrupted fiscal depute Catherine Knowles.

He also claimed the court case was “a crime under common law”. Sheriff Hammond warned him: “Be quiet, and don’t talk gibberish in this court” adding: “Stop speaking rubbish and just sit quietly.” But the interruptions continued.

At one stage, the clearly exasperated sheriff told Macrae, who is conducting his own defence, that he would have him removed to the cells and hold the trial in his absence.

Macrae also denies acting in a threatening or abusive manner on January 27 by barricading a door, refusing to allow a lawful entry warrant to be executed and posting a picture on his Facebook page in which he is pointing a longbow and arrow with a “refusal of service notice” at the camera.

The charge alleges that he posted Facebook images of live electrical cable attached to a window frame and a hand grenade wired to a door handle – implying that they were at his home – and threatening to “deploy” boiling cooking fat over anyone who entered his home “unlawfully”.

In one of Macrae’s many interruptions, he claimed he was “having a laugh with mates online” when he posted Facebook messages.

He also admitted that he had four marijuana plants growing in rotation so that he could use the crop to make a cream for his leg disability. He shouted: “There is no offence. I’ve the right to self-medicate when the medication I need isn’t available. It’s a right.”

ScottishPower electrician David Gentles, 60, told the court that he found a wire bypassing the electricity meter in the accused’s home. It led to a room where plants were being grown.

Karen Mason, 26, a warrant officer with Scottish Hydro, said she later went to Macrae’s house with a lawful entry warrant to install a prepayment meter. She said a locksmith drilled the door lock but she failed to gain entry to Macrae’s home and summoned police to help. She said Macrae filmed them on his iPad and later posted the video on his Facebook page along with images of a grenade attached to a door handle and live wires fixed to a window frame. The trial continues.

Followers ignore the law

“FREEMEN on the land” are a loosely defined group who believe the law is something that can be opted out of.

The movement began in America in the 1970s, where some individuals believed they can declare themselves independent of government jurisdiction as it only applies to those who agree to be governed.

One example was Mark Bond, from Norfolk, who was arrested in 2010 for refusing to pay his taxes after claiming he was no longer a UK citizen.

He was handed a three-month prison sentence, which was suspended for three months.