Occupy member faces probe into square vandalism

Essential Edinburgh wants the activists out of the square
Essential Edinburgh wants the activists out of the square
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AN Occupy Edinburgh protester has been reported to the procurator fiscal in connection with the vandalism of a Jewish religious symbol.

A 25-year-old man was arrested at the St Andrew Square camp over the smashing of a 15ft menorah on December 19.

The act, which took place in the hours before it was set to be lit to mark the first night of Chanukah, sparked outrage among the Jewish faith.

Police said the crime was being treated as vandalism “aggravated by hate”.

The man has been released from custody pending further investigation by the fiscal.

The report came as the square’s manager Essential Edinburgh suggested the movement had no real intention of negotiating a settlement, revealing that its most recent demands included taxpayers footing the bill for establishing an “office” in the garden.

The business group is currently pursuing the movement, which has been camped on the square for three months, through the courts and has pledged to forcibly remove protesters unless they leave.

The camp has expressed dismay at the move, highlighting the fact that the site has been cleaned up in recent weeks.

It enjoyed significant support, including from the city council and Essential Edinburgh, until recently, when it ebbed largely due to the condition of St Andrew Square.

A number of those associated with the movement have also appeared in court in connection with antisocial behaviour.

Andy Neal, chief executive of the business body, said: “It is important that the people of Edinburgh are given full and accurate information around this very visible issue.

“They maintain they offered to decrease the tent presence by two-thirds and promised no overnight camping – but they also insisted that at least one large tent should be left in the square and also demanded that we provide – at taxpayers’ expense – a portable cabin for their office use in the garden.”

He added: “We are also entirely unconvinced about the ability of the organisers to police their own occupation – be that in terms of the numbers camping or the behaviour of those people.”

Chris Sharp, 24, a copywriter and camp member, accused Essential Edinburgh of offering the cabin in the first place.

He said: “Our negotiators came back and said Andy wanted a limited amount of tents, no sleeping overnight, three marquees and that they suggested some sort of office.

“We went back to them 24 hours later and accepted and they said it was too late. I would say Essential Edinburgh have no desire to negotiate, they are just buying time for legal proceedings to be granted.”