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Wednesday, 5 December, 2001, 15:55 GMT
MPs reject Skye toll claims
Skye Bridge
Bridge campaigners have challenged the tolls in court
A parliamentary committee has met for the first time in almost 25 years and rejected claims tolls on the Skye Bridge are illegal.

The Statutory Instruments Reference Committee at Westminster was asked by protesters to quash the toll order.

The committee had been asked by local MP Charles Kennedy and campaigner Robbie the Pict to look at the toll order and two other roads orders from 1992.

Robbie the Pict told the committee the orders were not published properly, but committee members decided the government had complied with the rules.

Skye Bridge tolls
The tolls have been controversial

Committee clerk Michael Henessey said there was nothing to prevent protesters taking other issues - or new evidence - back to the committee.

However, he said the committee's narrow remit meant it could not widen its inquiry beyond the orders put to them.

Robbie the Pict said he was disappointed the committee had only looked at how the orders governing the toll regime were printed and published, not whether it was legal.

He said the committee's deliberations were subject to judicial review, and that is a route campaigners may now take.

But he said, if the committee turns out to be a dead end for the campaign, there are still 15 other legal actions underway.

The campaigner said those opposed to the tolls would not be giving up their fight at this stage.

'Misconceived action'

Campaigners took their case through the Scottish courts, but lost their challenge in 1999.

Four protesters argued that the toll collectors' employers, Miller Civil Engineering, had no lawful authority to collect the money for crossing without the written consent of the secretary of state.

But three judges hearing their appeal in Edinburgh called their action "misconceived".

And even if consent was required, the judges said they were satisfied that this had been implied.

Robbie the Pict was among the four campaigners who had been convicted of not paying the tolls.

BBC Scotland's Craig Anderson reports
"Campaigners took their case to the little-known Statutory Instruments Reference Commitee"
See also:

12 Sep 00 | Scotland
Ruling forces Skye toll increase
26 Jun 00 | Scotland
Skye tolls 'illegal'
30 Nov 99 | Scotland
VAT threat to bridge tolls
07 Sep 99 | Scotland
Drivers 'face more toll costs'
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