Campaigners fighting to clear the names of 130 people who were convicted after they took part in protests against the infamous Skye Bridge tolls in the 1990’s have appealed to the new Transport Minister Keith Brown to help clear their names.
Mr Brown (pictured) who replaced Stewart Stevenson as Transport Minister this weekend was himself part of the protest and, like many others, ended up being fined after refusing to pay the controversial levy which was set by a private company after an agreement with the then Tory government.
Campaigners against the sky-high tolls always insisted that they were illegal and in 2004 campaign pressure forced the then Labour/Lib Dem Scottish Executive to abolish them and buy back the bridge from its private owners for £27 million.
In his maiden speech at Holyrood in 2007, Mr Brown acknowledged his role in the successful campaign and urged that convictions of protestors should be quashed saying:
“Indeed, I was convicted for refusing to pay the Skye bridge toll back in the mid-1990s. The Skye bridge toll campaign was another successful campaign to get rid of unjust tolls.
“It would be nice if the Lord Advocate were to consider quashing my conviction and those of others who opposed that disgraceful toll, but I suppose that she could just as easily come after me for the £50 fine that I have not paid in 12 years.”
Mr Brown’s appointment as Transport Minister was welcomed by the campaigners who have offered to share their research with the Minister. The campaigners still argue that the £millions paid in tolls should be returned to Skye.