No voter fined after aiming abuse at Yes supporter

Alex Salmond claimed he too was subjected to intimidation. Picture: John Devlin
Alex Salmond claimed he too was subjected to intimidation. Picture: John Devlin
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A NO voter has been fined for shouting a tirade of abuse at an SNP campaigner just days before the independence referendum.

Henry Harvey launched the verbal attack when he spotted a vehicle decked out in Yes stickers pulling into an East Lothian filling station on 11 September.

The plasterer had been working near Links Road Garage in Port Seton when he shouted at the campaigner, saying that he was going to “break up the country”.

Edinburgh Sheriff Court heard yesterday that emotions had been “running high” ahead of the historic vote on 18 September.

Procurator fiscal depute Francesca Risino said Harvey, of Danderhall in Midlothian, first shouted at the campaigner when he parked on the forecourt.

The driver then went into the filling station to report the verbal abuse to staff.

Ms Risino said: “Concerned about the abuse of a customer, the employee accompanied them back to the car, at which point Harvey started to shout and swear in an aggressive manner.”

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The 44-year-old made several obscene remarks before shouting: “Clearly you are going to break up the country.”

The SNP member left in his vehicle before police were called to question Harvey.

Defence solicitor Angela Craig told the court yesterday that Harvey, a first offender, had “let himself and his family down”.

She added: “Feelings were running high at that time. He realises that he lost his temper.”

Ms Craig said Harvey, who runs his own plastering business, stopped the contract he had been working on in Port Seton to “get away from the situation”.

Sheriff Frank Crowe joked that he was considering deferring Harvey’s sentence until after the general election on 7 May.

He told Harvey: “You just got to the stage where you abused the guy and things went right off course.”

Harvey pleaded guilty to behaving in a threatening or abusive manner by shouting, swearing and making political remarks.

Sheriff Crowe acknowledged that Harvey had never been in trouble before and fined him £130.

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Harvey declined to comment when approached by The Scotsman yesterday.

Last year’s independence campaign sparked several incidents involving police as tensions ran high on both sides of the debate.

Labour MP Jim Murphy suspended his speaking tour of Scotland after having eggs thrown at him in the Fife town of Kirkcaldy, claiming that the Yes campaign was creating a “mob atmosphere”.

Meanwhile, the then Scottish first minister Alex Salmond said he had been involved in a “road rage” incident in which he was chased in his car by someone waving a No sign.

The door handles of a Yes shop in Penicuik, East Lothian, were smeared in excrement in August, while a pro-independence store in Edinburgh’s Newington area was daubed with Nazi slogans and the words “No Thanks”.

Following the No vote, trouble flared in Glasgow city centre when around 700 people gathered in the George Square area.

The incident, which was condemned by thousands of city residents and politicians, began after loyalists bearing Union flags clashed with pro-independence supporters.

More than 20 people were arrested following the trouble on 19 September.

It also emerged after the vote that a special police taskforce had been set up to tackle referendum-related crime during the independence campaign.

Operation Wheeler involved a unit of specialist officers who monitored daily logs of incidents across Scotland’s 14 policing divisions.

Police Scotland said that none of the information was retained after September, and said it was impossible to provide a total of referendum-related crimes.