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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Craig Paton

Greens call for answers from chief constable over Queen event arrests

PA Wire

The Scottish Greens have called on Scotland’s top police officer to provide answers over the arrest of people protesting against the monarchy during events to mark the death of the Queen.

The late monarch died on September 8, prompting a number of ceremonial events in Edinburgh that drew thousands of people to watch her coffin as it made its way to the Palace of Holyroodhouse and St Giles’ Cathedral in the capital.

During the proclamation of King Charles III, a 22-year-old woman was arrested in connection with a breach of the peace after an anti-monarchy sign was held up, while another 22-year-old man was arrested in connection with the same offence after Prince Andrew was heckled as he walked in a procession of the Queen’s coffin on its way to the cathedral.

A third man, 74, pled guilty to breach of the peace near the Palace of Holyroodhouse and received a £350 fine.

A major policing operation was in place during events to mark the death of the Queen (Peter Byrne/PA) (PA Wire)

Other instances of arrests also took place at events to commemorate the late Queen south of the border.

In response to the arrests, Scottish Green justice spokeswoman Maggie Chapman said she would be writing to Chief Constable Sir Iain Livingstone and has tabled questions in the Scottish Parliament on the issue.

“We are aware of a number of concerning incidents involving Police Scotland and members of the public during events last week,” she said.

“Given Scotland’s proud tradition of freedom of speech and peaceful protest, we are seeking urgent clarification as to what happened and why Police Scotland deemed it necessary to intervene in the way they did.

“With some proceedings remaining active, we are limited in what we can say.

“However, free speech and democracy are the very bedrock on which the Scottish Parliament was founded.

“Any action taken has to be appropriate and consistent with this founding principle.

“That is why I have tabled questions and am writing to Police Scotland as a matter of urgency.”

In her letter to the chief constable, the Green MSP said: “Free speech and the right to protest are cornerstones of our democracy.

“I passionately believe in the importance of each of these rights, even if the views expressed by people exercising them are views with which I disagree.

“I am also of the firm belief that, in a functioning democracy, views that run contrary to those of the establishment should be allowed to be expressed, as long as they do not incite hate.

“Police Scotland has the responsibility and duty to protect the rights of all people in Scotland, not just those in power or in leadership positions.”

Scottish Labour MSP Katy Clark is due to ask a topical question in Holyrood on the matter on Wednesday afternoon.

Ahead of asking her question, Ms Clark said: “The tone since the Queen’s passing has been overwhelmingly respectful, including among non-monarchists.

“However, the heavy-handed use of breach of the peace powers to quell dissent by protesters should concern us all.

“Arresting people for heckling or holding signs bearing republican slogans are not the hallmarks of a healthy democratic country.

“I believe Police Scotland must explain their actions and will be writing to call for clarity and justification for their policing tactics over the past week and a half.

“Scrutinising such actions may ensure incidents like this are not repeated and people are able to voice their opinions on the royal family in a peaceful manner.”

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