ROYAL Mile pub Deacon Brodie’s Tavern faked a gas leak to prevent members of far-right group the Scottish Defence League gathering for a meeting amid fears the premises would be smashed up, it has been claimed.
The pub used the excuse to close its doors as members of the SDL were planning to assemble for a demonstration on Saturday.
SDL supporters were due to gather in the historic pub before protesting outside an Islamophobia awareness conference held at Augustine United Church on nearby George IV Bridge.
A source close to the pub said that a member of the rival Unite Against Fascism group called Deacon Brodie’s and threatened that the 207-year-old institution would be attacked if they let the SDL in.
The insider said: “Deacon Brodie’s closed on Saturday under the pretence of a gas leak. But really it’s because the Scottish Defence League was going to have a meeting there and Unite Against Fascism called to tell the management that if it went ahead then they would smash up the pub.”
Later on Saturday, the rival groups were involved in a disturbance outside the conference.
On its official Facebook page, the SDL had confirmed Deacon Brodie’s as the location of its planned meeting.
After the pub was suddenly closed to the public, an SDL member wrote: “We got there and pub said was closed as gas leak was not best start to day.”
Jacqueline Henderson, manager at Deacon Brodie’s Tavern said she was not able to speak about the incident.
A spokeswoman from Mitchells and Butlers, the operator which runs the pub, said: “We took the decision to close the pub on Saturday morning and traded as normal from early afternoon. We are unable to comment any further.”
Scotia Gas Networks confirmed it had not received any phone call relating to a gas leak at the premises.
Campaigners from the SDL and Unite Against Fascism have a history of clashing.
In May last year, a massive police operation involving officers from five different forces prevented clashes between the SDL and anti-fascist demonstrators in the Capital. Around 80 members of the SDL gathered at Regent Road and marched to St Andrew’s House.
More than 300 people gathered for a counter-demonstration by Unite Against Fascism, who marched from the Grassmarket to St Andrew’s House.
In September 2011, rival protests by the far-right and anti-fascist groups saw extra police drafted in following warnings from right-wing extremists that they intended to tear opponents “limb from limb”.
Around 150 activists from a “coalition” of anti-Islamic groups, spearheaded by the SDL, held a “static” rally at Waterloo Place while around 250 members of Unite Against Fascism staged a counter-demonstration at The Mound before marching to the Wellington Statue on Princes Street.