Divers fined after raiding battleship wrecks off Scapa Flow

The wreck of German battleship SMS Kronprinz Wilhelm was one of two protected monuments raided by divers off Orkney. PIC Wikicommons.

The wreck of German battleship SMS Kronprinz Wilhelm was one of two protected monuments raided by divers off Orkney. PIC Wikicommons.

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Two divers who illegally took artefacts from sunken German warships at Scapa Flow have been fined £18,000 each.

Gordon Meek, 66, a dentist from Glasgow, and Robert Infante, 48, a businessman from the United States, raided a number of vessels including the battleships SMS Markgraf and SMS Kronprinz Wilhelm.

Both ships are designated as scheduled monuments along with the wrecks of five other vessels scuttled off the Orkney coast in 1919.

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Both men pleaded guilty at Kirkwall Sheriff Court to one charge in contravention of Section 2(1) of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979, Section 2(1).

Among items recovered by police were a telephone unit, bulk head lanterns and a microphone.

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Andrew Laing, procurator fiscal for Grampian, Highlands and Islands, said: “For a number of decades now Scapa Flow has been one of Europe’s top attractions for sports divers with the wrecks being of great significance to our heritage and the local community.

“They have lain on the seabed for nearly 100 years and the vast majority of those visiting have treated them with the respect they deserve.

“It is vitally important that there are laws in place to protect such important sites and, as with this case where there is sufficient evidence of a crime and if it is appropriate and in the public interest to do so, we will prosecute.”

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