Edinburgh crime: Eco-protesters who covered Scottish Parliament building in red paint fined

“Moral people have to stand on the wrong side of the law to stand on the right side of history”
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Four eco-protesters used water balloons and super soakers to leave the entrance to the Scottish Parliament building covered in bright red paint.

Hannah Torrance-Bright, 21, Hannah Taylor, 23, Georgia Barrett and Ruth Lanser, both 27, defaced the parliament building in a protest against the UK Government’s decision to back hundreds of new oil and gas licences. The four women targeted the building’s entrance by throwing paint-filled balloons and using spray guns and a fire extinguisher at around 1.30pm on August 1 this year.

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The group - who are members of eco-group This Is Rigged - caused around £7,000 of damage before sitting down cross-legged in front of the building to continue their protest. Torrance-Bright, from Renfrewshire, Taylor, from Derbyshire, Barrett, from Brighton and Lanser, from Glasgow, all stood trial at Edinburgh Sheriff Court on Monday and had to return to the dock on Friday to find out a sheriff’s decision on the case.

Activists hurled paint at the Scottish Parliament building in EdinburghActivists hurled paint at the Scottish Parliament building in Edinburgh
Activists hurled paint at the Scottish Parliament building in Edinburgh

They represented themselves during the trial and admitted carrying out the paint attack, but claimed it was justified as a protest against global warming.

Sheriff Alistair Noble found all four guilty of the malicious mischief charge and after acknowledging they had “restricted incomes” he decided to mark the offence by ordering Barrett, Lanser and Taylor to pay a fine of £210. Torrance-Bright was given an admonition as she had spent five days on remand and a further four weeks on a home curfew order where she was electronically tagged.

The trial heard from witness Giuseppe Manca, 33, a rope access technician at the parliament, who said he was outside the entrance on a break when the protest started.

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He said: “I noticed four ladies approach the main entrance. They looked around as if they were seeing if the coast was clear. They began throwing balloons and spraying with water pistols. The balloons were filled with paint and the super soaker-style pistols were also filled with paint. They also had a fire extinguisher spraying paint.”

The court was told the subsequent clean up operation took several hours and cost in excess of £3000. Sally Coyne, head of public engagement services at the parliament, said the protest caused the public access to the building to be closed and two tours for 90 people cancelled.

Ms Coyne, 48, said damage was caused to the sliding door at the entrance and the estimated repairs would be around £3900. She added in her experience it was the “worst damage to the building through a protest” and takings for the cafe and shop were all affected by the unexpected closure.

Torrance-Bright, a Sculpture student at Glasgow School of Art and a community worker, told the trial she decided to take action after the UK government “approved over 100 new oil and gas licences in the North Sea". She said the policy would bring about “catastrophic, irreversible climate collapse” and would worsen the current global warming crisis.

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She told the trial: “Moral people have to stand on the wrong side of the law to stand on the right side of history - we are desperate. We are young people staring down the barrel of a terrible future.”

Torrance-Bright, Barrett, Lanser and Taylor, we’re all found guilty of maliciously spraying paint and throwing water balloons filled with paint on and around the Scottish Parliament building on August 1 this year.