Students ‘assaulted’ then detained for royal visit

The Princess Royal visited Edinburgh. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
The Princess Royal visited Edinburgh. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
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TWO students claim they were assaulted by staff and then detained by police for almost six hours ahead of a visit to Edinburgh University by Princess Anne.

Hona-­Luisa Cohen-­Fuentes and Euan Kidston say they were studying in Old College on South Bridge when they were “roughly seized” by university security staff members and told: “We have someone really important coming here, we can’t have the likes of you roaming around”.

The pair say they were first told to leave the building, but security staff then changed their minds and decided to detain them instead.

It is understood the students were in an area of Old College close to the principal’s office and another room due to be used by Princess Anne, who is Chancellor of the university, during her visit.

The students also claim the security staff told Ms Cohen-­Fuentes, an international student: “You could be any random scum off the street” and “I hope you get deported”.

Mr Kidston, a third-year anthropology student, said: “I’m still in shock. We were quietly studying and had no idea the building was closing. There was no need for violence, we were happy to find somewhere else to study.”

The students say they were then met by armed Royalty Protection Officers and police in the Old College quad and were subjected to a full search in clear view of over 100 of their fellow students.

And they claim the Royal Protection Officers told them they were “a threat” and later said they had been “lucky not to have been shot”.

The pair say they were then taken to St Leonard’s police station and detained for almost six hours while their possessions were searched for traces of explosive substances.

Ms Cohen­-Fuentes said: “I was reading philosophy when I was assaulted in a building I assumed to be safe, before being put in a prison cell. The privilege and priority given to Princess Anne is a disgrace, especially as students have already voted to remove her as Chancellor.”

Edinburgh University Students’ Association (EUSA) trustee Mike Shaw voiced outrage at the treatment of the two students. He said: “Having discussed the incident in full with the students involved I am lost for words. Randomly targeted, physical and verbal assault, topped off with a clear intent to humiliate and traumatise is a disgusting breach of trust between the student body and their institution.”

He said EUSA was supporting the students in submitting formal complaints against the university and Police Scotland. “Needless to say, this is not the end of the matter,” he added.

A police spokesman said: “The two students were in an area they shouldn’t have been in. When officers were satisfied of their intentions they were released without charge.”