Edinburgh Sheriff Court: Case dropped against indie activist over airport demonstration

The court case against an independence activist following a demonstration at Edinburgh Airport has been dropped.

Wednesday, 8th December 2021, 12:27 pm
Updated Wednesday, 8th December 2021, 12:27 pm

Sean Clerkin was arrested after unveiling a banner declaring 'England get out of Scotland' to discourage tourists from visiting the country.

But prosecutors at Edinburgh Sheriff Court failed to call the case against Mr Clerkin, 60, when it was due to be heard on Tuesday.

Clerkin, of Barrhead, Renfrewshire, had previously posd for pictures with the banner at the Scotland-England border and at other points across the country.

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Mr Clerkin has staged a number of protests with his banner.

He took to the roads with it last summer when England’s Covid cases were higher than they were in Scotland.

Airport bosses acted when Mr Clerkin posed with the banner and he was arrested at his home, in September 2020 on suspicion of committing aggravated breach of the peace.

At the time they Tweeted: “Today's protest at the airport was a despicable act. This group knows that their brand of hatred would not be tolerated by right-thinking people and chose to sneak in and perpetrate it far from the terminal.”

Mr claimed the arrest breached the right to protest and 18 months later charges have been dropped.

He travelled to Edinburgh to attend court only to find the case was not being called by the procurator fiscal.

He said: “This has been a waste of taxpayers' money.

"I have waited a year and half with this over my head and I am innocent.

"I can't believe they put me through all this only to tell me while at court that the case was dropped.”

He was accused of behaving in a "threatening or abusive manner, which was likely to cause a reasonable person to suffer fear or alarm, in that you did attend and display a banner with offensive and racial remarks, contrary to Section 38/1 of the Criminal Justice and Licensing Scotland Act 2010".

The banner, which also prompted complaints to Police Scotland when it was displayed outside Glasgow Central station, will no longer be used.

Mr Clerkin, who has campaigned for tenant rights and against evictions, said: "I don't want to go through all this again. I feel like I have been harassed.

At the time of the demonstration he said: "We are doing the protest to continue our call to the Scottish Government to close the border and all ports of entry for non essential travel from England to Scotland to protect the people of Scotland from covid-19."

He told police: "It is not against the law to have a banner that someone may disagree with.

"The first time the banner was displayed was in Edinburgh and a complaint was made to a senior police officer who stated to me that the banner was not offensive and I could continue to display it.

"That was at the SNP Spring conference in 2019. It said the word 'England'.

"It did not stipulate any hate towards the race. I never have done."

A Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service spokesman said: "The Crown has a duty to keep cases under review and after full and careful consideration of the facts and circumstances of the case, the Procurator Fiscal decided that there should be no further proceedings taken at this time.

"The Crown reserves the right to proceed in the future should further evidence become available."

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