Scotland politics

IndyCamp group evicted from Scottish Parliament site

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Media captionIndyCamp protestors evicted from Scottish Parliament land

Independence campaigners who held a vigil outside the Scottish Parliament for 11 months have been evicted.

The IndyCamp group set up at Holyrood in November 2015, but were taken to court by parliament and served with an order to quit the site.

The camp applied for leave to appeal in the UK Supreme Court, but the eviction order remained valid in the meantime.

Fences were put up around the site and caravans towed away after parliament said it had been left "no option".

The eviction was enforced by messengers-at-arms on Friday morning, 343 days after the vigil began.

It follows a lengthy and often colourful legal battle between the camp and the parliament's corporate body, which the campers have vowed to continue.

They claim they were not given a fair hearing in their Inner House appeal case, and have applied to challenge it in the UK's highest courts.

The camp was set up on the edge of the Holyrood campus almost a year ago, with the goal of staying in place until Scotland becomes independent.

But the parliament's corporate body took legal action, arguing the group was taking up space others could be using for an indefinite period, and endangering the neutrality of the parliamentary estate.

As the site was being cleared, camp veteran Dean Halliday told BBC Scotland: "There was a big bang at the door.

"We were lying sleeping, opened the door to lots and lots of police officers in high viz vests, sheriff's officers, people in suits. It was really rather intimidating.

"We put an appeal in yesterday - I myself lodged the papers at the Supreme Court. What happened to due process?"

Rights 'violated'

Fellow campaigner Garry Mitchell said: "The Scottish Parliament insist they're going to look after people's human rights, and make them forefront - well where are our rights? Clearly brushed aside.

"This helps our appeal all the more. They've violated every right we have."

The Scottish Parliament previously said its "clear preference" was for the campers to leave voluntarily.

However, it obtained an order to have the camp removed, which could be enforced regardless of the latest move for an appeal.

A spokesman said: "The Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body (SPCB) have consistently requested that the protesters respect the judgement of the court and leave the Parliament estate peacefully and of their own accord.

"As a result of their continued refusal to do, the SPCB had no option but to have the camp removed.

"The SPCB has followed due process throughout this action. The order granted by the Court of Session to remove the camp remained valid and enforceable regardless of whether leave was sought for an appeal to the Supreme Court and the parliament was entitled to enforce it following the repeated refusal of the protesters to remove the camp voluntarily."

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