Despite being a tiny percentage of the crowd attending the processions associated with H M The King receiving The Honours of Scotland, republican protestors dominated the outside proceedings by virtue of their prominent position and use of a megaphone. This gave a extremely unbalanced and unfair representation of the attitude and the behaviour of the thousands of people who came to watch and made it difficult to hear the bands. As a result, the protesters' chants, booing and placards are today dominating the headlines in the news, here and overseas.
My questions to you are:
- What are the names of the people involved in deciding where the protesters would gather?
- Which of them decided that the use of a megaphone was compatible with a peaceful protest?
It may be helpful, by way of general context, to explain that human rights are protected in Scotland by the Human Rights Act 1998 and the Scotland Act 1998. The Human Rights Act defines a body of (mainly civil and political) rights (“the Convention rights”) which are derived from the European Convention on Human Rights. It is unlawful for a Scottish public authority to act in a way that is incompatible with these rights. In addition, the Scotland Act makes clear that the Scottish Ministers have no power to act incompatibly with the Convention rights. The definition of a public authority includes bodies such as the Scottish Government, the City of Edinburgh Council and Police Scotland. The Convention rights include the rights to freedom of thought, conscience and religion (Article 9), freedom of expression (Article 10) and freedom of assembly and association (Article 11). These are qualified rights which can be restricted in certain circumstances, in accordance with the criteria set out in the text of the Convention and in line with case law developed by the Scottish and UK courts and by the European Court of Human Rights.
In making arrangements for the National Service of Thanksgiving and Dedication for His Majesty King Charles III the Scottish Government took appropriate account of the Convention rights of those who wished to protest, as well as giving proper weight to the legitimate interests and expectations of individuals who wished to participate in the event in order to welcome His Majesty to Scotland. The Scottish Government worked closely with Police Scotland to ensure that the National Service proceeded successfully and according to plan. Within the Scottish Government, James Hynd, the Director and Secretary of Commissions, was project director for the National Service and had responsibility for decisions on protest sites.
While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance the Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested with regard to your second question The reasons why we do not have the information are explained in the Annex below.
The Scottish Government does not hold the information requested
The Scottish Government does not have the information you have asked for because operational decisions on the day of events such as the National Service are a matter for Police Scotland, not the Scottish Government. As such, I hereby provide you with formal notice under section 17(1) of FOISA that the Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested.
The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at http://www.gov.scot/foi-responses.
Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000
The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
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