Talk:Principality of Sealand/Principality of Sealand
Principality of Sealand is the name that was given by Roy Bates of Essex, England, to a former World War II Royal Navy barge known variously as HMS Roughs and HM Fort Roughs that was built in England and towed to a location at at 51°53'40"N, 1°28'57"E above Rough Sands sandbar off Southeast England where it was intentionally sunk during 1942 in shallow water to rest on the sandbank. It is approximately six miles (10 km) from the county of Suffolk and eight miles from the county of Essex, England. At the time of its placement the territorial waters of the United Kingdom extended for three miles. For other meanings of the name "Sealand" please see the Sealand (disambiguation) page.
Roy Bates and Family
The "Principality of Sealand" is the creation of Roy Bates who is also known as Paddy Bates. He is a retired major who served with the British Army.
In 1999, according to The Mirror newspaper, Roy Bates was 77 years old and his wife Joan was recorded as being a "a 69-year-old former model". Their daughter Penny, the paper reported was 49, and "married to a solicitor". Their 45 years old son Michael Roy who lives at Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, was born on August 2, 1952 and according to the the same newspaper report, he operates "a local fishing business".
HM Fort Roughs
HM Fort Roughs was one of several World War II installations that were designed by Guy Maunsell and known collectively as His Majesty's Forts. There were two types of fort, British Army forts that consisted of several connected towers built on location and Royal Navy forts which were built on barges in a dock and then towed by tugboats into position. HM Fort Roughs was of the latter category and it sunk in position on February 11, 1942.
The purpose of "HMS Roughs" was to guard the port of Harwich, Essex and it had approximately 100 men assigned to the barge before deployment on Rough Sands. It was designed as a reinforced concrete pontoon measuring 168 by 88 feet which supported two hollow cylindrical towers, 24 feet in diameter and topped by a gun deck, an upper deck and a central tower unit which controlled radar equipment.
HMS Roughs was in operation within 30 minutes of being launched. The twin towers were divided into seven floors that provided dining and sleeping accommodation and storage areas for generators and munitions. There was a steel framework at one end supporting a landing jetty and crane which was used to hoist supplies aboard.
This sea fort was not a part of the British Army estate, but a vessel belonging to the Royal Navy. After the sea barge had been constructed in harbor it was towed into position by three tugs and then sunk, leaving only the two large diameter towers and connecting platform showing above sea level. Due to the fact that the water was shallow at Rough Sands and due to its proximity to the shoreline of England, half of the concrete twin towers from the waterline upwards remained visible from the coastlines of the counties of Suffolk and Essex, England.
It was confusion over the status of this sea fort that originally caused a Judge in 1968 to direct a verdict of "not guilty" in favor of Roy and Michael Bates during their criminal trial for violations of the 1937 Firearm Act. The Judge issued his ruling as though HM Fort Roughs was a former British Army artificial island and not a sunken Royal Navy vessel. The two types of sea based installation came under the provision of two different types of law. A Royal Navy vessel is classified under Admiralty jurisdiction, but an artificial island is not and the 1937 Firearm Act did not cover the activities of Roy and Michael Bates on Rough Tower at that time.
After World War II
Following the War the partially submerged sea barge fort was used by various British governmental entities until it was finally retired in 1956. The UK Ministry of Defence as successor in interest to the Ministry of War maintained buoys surrounding the installation to warn ships of this obstacle, especially in time of fog due to the fact that busy shipping lanes criss-crossed the area. UK Ordinance Survey now identify the former sea barge fort as Rough Tower on their charts.
Pirate Radio Era
In the 1960s many of the former WWII offshore marine installations where taken over by squatters who could not afford to buy a ship for purposes of offshore pirate radio broadcasting. Two types of marine forts were used by the broadcasters and both types were designed by Guy Maunsell, one type for the British Army and another for the Royal Navy. The British Government reacted to the advent of pirate radio by using existing legislation where it could prove in a court of law that the installation was inside UK territorial waters and finally by passing into law the Marine Broadcasting Offences Act in August of 1967.
1966 Radio Essex Court Case
The Royal Navy sea barge fort on Rough Sands was never used for pirate radio broadcasting, but a similar sea barge had been used by Roy Bates to operate a low-power Radio Essex. In October 1965 Roy Bates had gained control of HM Fort Knock John after winning a physical fight over squatters representing the offshore station called Radio City, which at that time was broadcasting from the former British Army towers on Shivering Sands sandbar.
According to The Sunday Telegraph Roy Bates appeared at Rochford Magistrates’ Court on the 30th November 1966 where he conducted his own case to answer a summons issued by the Post Office concerning his operation of Radio Essex from Fort Knock John without a licence. Roy Bates was fined. He then ordered that the name of his unlicensed station be changed to BBMS pending an appeal, but having run out of money, BBMS closed down on 25th December 1966.
1967 Appeal of 1966 Case
On 17th January 1967 the Appeal of Roy Bates was heard at Chelmsford Quarter Sessions and rejected. As a result of losing his appeal Roy Bates then attempted to move his broadcasting equipment from HM Fort Knock John to HM Fort Roughs, located on Rough Sands sandbar and at the time outside of British territorial waters. However, this sea barge fort was occupied by staff representing Ronan O'Rahilly who represented the two Radio Caroline ships which formed a British network. That fight to gain control of HM Fort Roughs lasted until September 1967.
Unlike the sea barge fort at Knock John which was inside the 3 miles territorial waters of the United Kingdom, the installation on Rough Sands was at that time outside the territorial waters of the UK. Before he could recommence broadcasts the Marine Broadcasting Offences Act came into force at midnight on Monday, August 14, 1967. This law applied to any British citizen who was either inside or outside of British territorial waters and engaged in ulicensed broadcasting from aircaft or marine installations of any kind. As a result of this Act most of the large offshore radio ships ceased their operations either just before or at midnight on Monday, August 14, 1967.
August, 1967 Marine Broadcasting Offences Act
The Marine Broadcasting Offences Act which came into effect after midnight on Monday, August 14, 1967, and it extended the range of the Wireless Telegraphy Act of 1947 to apply to any British citizen who became involved in any aspect of unlicensed or pirate radio broadcasting. While this Act prevented Roy Bates from restarting a pirate radio station from either inside or outside of British territorial waters, the effect of this Act also had a bearing on the trial of Roy and Michael Bates under the Firearms Act in the following year.
September, 1967 Claim of Squatter's Rights
On September 2, 1967 Roy Bates gained physical control of the former sea fort located on Rough Sands by squatters rights. Under the terms of squatters rights it is possible, under certain circumstances, to retain possession of property which is not occupied by the owner and then to go to a court of law and claim actual legal ownership. No such legal permission has ever been granted to Roy Bates by a British court of law.
May, 1968 Firearms Incident and Court Case
In May 1968 Roy Bates was accused of possessing a .22 pistol without a Certificate, and his son Michael, then 16, was charged with possessing a pistol with intent to endanger life, after two Trinity House officials complained that they had come under fire when attempting to maintain the Ministry of Defence buoys marking Rough Tower. At that time Rough Tower was outside of the three miles territorial limit. (Rough Tower is 8 miles from Harwich, Essex.)
Essex Police caught Roy Bates when he came ashore from the sea barge fort. His home was located in Westcliffe-on-Sea (near Southend-on-Sea) in Essex. The case brought against Roy Bates and his son Michael was set for hearing on October 21, 1968 before Judge Chapman at Essex Assizes in Chelmsford. That local court system which was based in The Shire Hall at Chelmsford, no longer exists in the same form.) An alleged transcript of this case has been posted by Sean Hastings on the Internet.
Of particular interest is that Judge Chapman ruled on this matter in two parts. His first ruling concerned the jurisdiction of the court over Rough Tower. He made a directed ruling to the jury on that matter on Monday, October, 21, 1968 which resulted in a verdict of "not guilty".
The second part of the case, which is the part recorded by the alleged transcript, covers the question of the application of the 1937 Firearm Act. On this matter Judge Chapman is alleged to have stated that: "The Firearm Act of 1937 seems to me to be clearly an Act intended to operate only within the ordinary territorial limits and also no doubt on British ships. Breaches of its provisions, even by British subjects, outside those limits are not in my judgment intended to be cogniable by the British Court."
November, 1968 Government Reaction to the Firearms Case
On November 5, 1968, attention of the Cabinet of Prime Minister Harold Wilson was drawn to the firearms case and its dismissal. The government tracked all illegal acts resulting from the era of pirate radio, especially after the death of Reginald Calvert who was shot to death by Oliver Smedley in 1966. That incident arose over rival claims to a broadcasting transmitter that had been delivered to the Radio City operation at the former British Army sea fort on Shivering Sands. It was that case which has caused the Government of Harold Wilson to force through passage of the Marine Broadcasting Offences Act, even though millions of listeners tuned in to these very popular offshore radio stations. The Cabinet issued a written report (now available to the public) which stated that the government would keep an eye on Roy Bates while at the same time doing nothing that would feed him with publicity. They dismissed his actions with pejorative observations about his character.
The Opinion of Justice Chapman
In the alleged transcript of the ruling by Justice Chapman in the 1968 Firearms Case against Roy and Michael Bates, the judge offered the following opinion: "... (T)he British Parliament has power to legislate over British Subjects anywhere and over persons of any nationality on board ships flying the British Flag. I need not trouble with the latter category because no one has suggested that Roughs Tower is a ship, nor indeed was my query as to whether it was an island received with much enthusiasm."
However, Rough Tower was built on land in England as a Royal Navy barge with a superstructure of twin towers and a platform, after which it was towed by tugboat into a position above Rough Sands sandbar in the shallow waters of the North Sea. The hold of the barge was then flooded so that the barge settled on the surface of the sandbar.
It would seem that the distinction between the Maunsell British Army towers which were built on sandbars and the Maunsell Royal Navy sea barge forts which were sailed and then sunk in place, was not drawn to the attention of Justice Chapman. The Justice instructed the Jury to return a verdict of not guilty on the basis that the 1937 Firearm Act had not been extended in the same way that the 1967 Marine Broadcasting Offences Act had extended the 1947 Wireless Telegraphy Act, although he made no mention of the latter act.
The second part of the ruling of Justice Chapman concerned the application of British laws within the territorial waters and lands of the United Kingdom and British ships. The sea barge had been built for the Royal Navy and it was still marked by UK Ministry of Defence buoys, but none of this information was brought to the attention of Justice Chapman which caused him to state that "I need not trouble with the latter category because no one has suggested that Roughs Tower is a ship ..." However, it is upon this case and this opinion that Roy Bates then began to make his own claims.
July, 1969 Investiture of Prince Charles
On July 1, 1969 Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II invested her son Prince Charles as Prince of Wales during a ceremony at Caernarfon in the principality of Wales. The ceremony was seen on television by 200 million people worldwide. According to the July, 2000 edition of Wired magazine, Roy Bates was in a pub with his wife Joan when she "casually mentioned" to her husband and friends who were with them, that she wanted to have "a flag and some palm trees to go with the island her husband had won for her." This is the year in which Michael Bates claims on his own web site that postage stamps first began to appear with the one word name of "Sealand" imprinted upon them.
1972-1975 Creation of the Principality of Sealand
According to the The Independent newspaper of June 5, 2000, it was not until 1975 that Bates first decided to declare Rough Tower a sovereign independent principality, which he called Sealand. This date seems to be uncertain because an unspecified company did manufacture a limited number of collector's coins which seem to date from 1972. Whether these were minted independently or under contract to Roy Bates is not certain. A specimin marriage certificate that is shown on a web site controlled by Michael Bates is merely a British marriage certificate which has been modified. A claim on that same web site also states that passports and stamps date from 1969. Postage stamps are of an uncertain date and origin and they do not bear the legend "Principality of Sealand", but merely "Sealand".
In Wired magazine for July, 2000, Michael Bates claimed that his father's lawyer had found a loophole in international law called "dereliction of sovereignty" and he applied that docrine referring to land to the partially submerged sea barge and claimed that Roy Bates "took over the sovereignty that the British government had derelicted." The adjective derelict and the noun dereliction refer to "things that are not cared for and are in bad condition". The former Royal Navy barge upon which the former HM Fort Roughs was situated, was not in and of itself a geographical location that constituted sovereign territory. It was a partially sunken vessel and as such it came under the classification of the registration laws of the UK which has the sovereign power to register ships.
August, 1978 Rival Claims
In August 1978 It is claimed that there was "insurrection by the government under Mr. Achenbach against Roy of Sealand, who was deposed while conducting negotiations with a consortium about the sale of the state territory in contravention of the existing constitution." A few days later Roy Bates retook the sea barge fort by a helicopter attack and then he took several people hostage.
The end result of this fight on the sea barge fort was that Roy Bates had terminated the charade of acting under a form of government when Mr. Achenbach was banned from the sea fort. Mr. Achenbach claimed that he was forced "into exile" along with the constitutional government which was then put into the hands of a syndicate led by Dr. A. L. C. M. Oomen, a lawyer specializing in international law who was General Secretary of the Academy for International Law at The Hague. The history of the rival "Principality of Sealand" is continued in English under the article title of Fürstentum Sealand (the German word "fürstentum" meaning "principality" in English.) Many of the legal claims subsequently made by Roy Bates appear to be related to this same source material regarding interpretation of international law.
October, 1987 Territorial Sea Act
In order to close down some of the pirate radio stations that were operating from similar Maunsell structures, the UK issued and Order-in-Council on September 25 1964 which was then subsequently added to and used to close down the pirate radio operations of Roy Bates. On October 1, 1987 The Territorial Sea Act came into force and extended the territorial waters of the UK from 3 miles to 12 miles, thereby placing Rough Sands within the United Kingdom. Up until this time Roy Bates had made many claims about restarting radio and even television transmissions from Rough Tower, but these announcements all ceased with the introduction of the Territorial Sea Act 1987. Roy Bates later stated that he did not want to test the application of the law. He had already been fined for pirate radio broadcasting in he past and the UK Department of Trade and Industry had warned Roy Bates that because he was a British citizen he would be subject to the Marine Broadcasting Offences Act of 1967 if he began any new transmissions from Rough Tower.
1988 Sealand Television
In 1988 Roy Bates entered into a contract with an American banker named Wallace Kemper to start Sealand Television on channel 5. Their plan was to construct a 1,000-foot mast on Rough Tower which would house the transmitter to reach a potential audience of 200 million by downloading a signal from the Astra satellite. Radio stations were also to be added that would broadcast on AM in Dutch and English and on FM in English.
Kemper announced plans to broadcast daily from 5 pm to 2 am, with 20 new films each month, plus sports events, music videos and variety shows. Advertising slots were offered at £10,000 for 20 seconds of prime time, and Suzanne Mizzi who had previously appeared as a topless dancer in the Loretta Swit and Peter Cook 1986 film Whoops Apocalypse, was recruited as the station’s presenter. Kemper claimed that he would ask Roy Bates to make her Sealand’s first countess.
The television scheme, like a casino plan that had been previously announced came to nothing. Sealand Television collapsed amid claims that Kemper had defrauded his partners. In 1983 it was alledged that Arab Overseas Trust & Bank, which Kemper registered in Anguilla, had been charging fees of up to $2,500 for business loans, which then failed to materialize. And in 1986 he and three other men were charged with conspiracy to defraud, involving a $3 million bank draft. At the same time, Kemper described himself as head of the European Overseas Bank. In 1988, Kemper, who was born in New Orleans in 1932, was jailed for three and a half years for fraud.
1988 Radio Newyork International
After The Territorial Sea Act 1987 had come into effect in the United Kingdom and after Radio New York International had already been closed down by force after it commenced broadcasting from an ocean going ship anchored off Jones Beach, Long Island, New York in international waters, its owner flew to England and met with Michael Bates, son of Roy and Joan Bates. An agreement was signed (a copy of which was later introduced and filed in evidence in a US federal court case in 1990, in which the ship and the radio station on board the ship were sold to a British company with a London address under the control of Michael Bates. In return the original American owner retained the right to buy back the radio ship and remain a consultant to the new operation. The purpose of this arrangement was to allow the London company to then sell commercial time on the offshore radio station which would would once more anchor off New York, but the ship would claim that it was registered in the independent and sovereign nation called the "Principality of Sealand".
In 1988, after the introduction of The Territorial Sea Act 1987, Radio Newyork International resumed transmissions. The United States immediately reacted by ordering that the station immediately cease broadcasting from international waters to the USA. On the first occasion one year before, armed agents of the USA had physically boarded the ship and taken away in handcuffs the radio station operators who were also the token crew. This time the token caretaker on board the ship, who was also playing prerecorded tapes on AM, FM and shortwave, at first told the US authorities that the ship was registered in the "Principality of Sealand" and that the owner of the station was a London based company. However, when he was told that the ship would be boarded again and he would be arrested, he ceased transmissions immediately.
1990 USA Court Case
In 1990 the owner of Radiio Newyork International which by this time had become a program aired legally over WWCR on shortwave from Tennessee, applied for his own shortwave broadcasting license for a new radio station in Maine. It was then that all of the paperwork relating to Radio Newyork International as an offshore radio station was submitted by both the applicant and the Federal Communications Agency into a US federal Administrative Court in Washington, DC. Meanwhile the applicant had attempted to sell the radio ship to a buyer named Genie Baskir and because the buyer lived close to the court the applicant stayed in the home of the buyer and her husband during the hearings.
The hearings were key to unravelling all of the details about the "Principality of Sealand" because the government of the United States made application to the government of the United Kingdom for a submission of findings concerning the entire matter. As a result one James Murphy who stated that he was an Investigator for the Official Solicitor acting on behalf of the Secretary of State for the Department of Trade and Industry, submitted a sworn statement made under under the laws of both the UK and USA about his own investigation into the claims being made about the existence of a "Principality of Sealand". The applicant to the FCC also took to the witness stand and related his entire relationship with Roy and Michael Bates. The details of this case were reported in transcript form and later, the entire case file complete with affidavits and exhibits was turned over by the lawyer representing the FCC to Genie Baskir personally.
The result of this case was a finding of derision concerning the claims made by Roy Bates which were dismissed because it had been proved by the UK that Roy Bates under any name had no power or authority to register ships and that Rough Tower was merely a disused WWII military installation within UK territorial waters. The applicant later appealed the finding against him and the original decision was upheld in 1991 in which further remarks of derision were added about claims of a "Principality of Sealand". This case has never been challenged by Roy Bates who became furious after hearing about it.
2000 British Registration of HavenCo Ltd
On August 22, 2000, Michael Bates bought an existing dormant British company which was renamed HavenCo Limited. It was given the registration number of 04056934 by Companies House, a part of the UK Department of Trade and Industry. The registered office of HavenCo Limited was recorded at 11 Kintyre House, Cold Harbour, London, E14 9NL England. The directors were listed as Michael Roy Bates, a citizen of the United Kingdom, and Ryan Donald Lackey, who was born on March 17, 1979 and a citizen of the United States.
The world media was then led to believe that the "Principality of Sealand" had registered this company which would soon commence operations as a data haven issuing domain names authorized by the "Principality of Sealand". Ryan Lackey later learned of the 1990 court case in the USA which made it clear that Roy Bates could not register ships; that Roy Bates had no power to issue domain names and that even the mail to Roy Bates was delivered by the British Post Office. Ryan Lackey then left the HavenCo project annnounced that Roy Bates had lied to him but that he had no legal recourse against him other that to file suit in a British court of law.
2004 Crown Estate Ownership of Rough Sands
As of November 9, 2004, the legal owner of the real property known as Rough Sands sandbar is HM Crown Estate, Marine Estates Department, Coastal Section. Because the sea barge originally known as HM Fort Roughs and now known by Ordinance Survey as Rough Tower is not land but a boat, it is classified by Crown Estate as chattel. Crown Estate own all of the surrounding sea bed between the shoreline and the twelve miles territorial limit and they have granted no licence to any entity to lay underwater cables from Rough Tower to the British mainland as originally proposed by the company known as HavenCo Ltd. Rough Sands is managed by various British Government departments concerning environmental preservation for fishing activities; dredging to preserve access to the container port of Felixstowe, Suffolk, as well as Coastguard and Trinity House to maintain safety within British territorial waters.
Additional documents in support of this article will be posted. It has been written with access to the FCC files and the notes of Genie Baskir who was present during the 1990 US Court hearings. Tape recordings of conversations between Roy Bates and associates of Genie Baskir concerning the USA court case have also been made available. Information has also been supplied by Paul John Lilburne-Byford of Chelmsford, Essex who supplied details of legal and police action taken by him involving the "Principality of Sealand". Other contributors are welcomed to add their comments. This article has been written due to high degree of controversy surrounding the article under the heading of Sealand and the call to either delete or merge this article with the article under the alternative heading. However, the correct name of this subject article is found on this page and a futher Sealand (disambiguation) page also exists to direct readers to the many other uses of the word "Sealand".
- Part One of a 2003 photographic tour of Rough Tower by broadcaster and photographer Bob le Roi. The photographic essay gives a good understanding of the subject matter, even though it styled for fans.
- Part Two of a 2003 photographic tour of Rough Tower by Bob le Roi This photo essay also includes a picture that shows the proximity of UK Customs craft to tower and a close-up of UK Ministry of Defence buoy with words "Rough Tower" painted upon it.
- See entry under "Sealand Fantasy" Details are included of the casino venture and the fraud case involving the Sealand TV project.
- Michael Bates 1998 "Sealand" web site. This web site contains pictures of stamps and coins.
- Principality of Sealand POV web site maintained by the Bates family. On the "Official Notices" page links can be found to announcement about placing buoys in the water and links to announcement about problems with the British Government.
- Fürstentum Sealand POV web site maintained by rivals to the claims made by Roy Bates. This site warns: "Please note that sovereign power of the Principality of Sealand cannot be exercised by the deposed Roy Bates or his collaborators."
- The story of Paul John Lilburne-Byford and his complaints to the British Government about "Sealand".
- SeaLand Isle Property for sale SeaLand ISLE's Claim offering to sell approximately 6,000,000 sq. nautical miles of the East Pacific Ocean reflects a similar idea and it has a similar name.