Scottish Parliament security scare amid reports of 'intruder break in'
Holyrood was subject to a break-in by an intruder who reportedly climbed a fence and walked into the parliament building, it has been reported.
The Scottish Mail on Sunday reports that an intruder broke into the Scottish Parliament despite significant security measures put in place by Holyrood’s corporate body.
The paper reports that despite metal detectors, anti-terror measures and biometric scanners, a man climbed over a fence and walked in unchallenged late at night in January when no ministers, MSPs or staff were working.
He was later ejected after security staff spotted him on the CCTV and when police were called.
The main Holyrood chamber room and other key rooms in the parliament were locked, a source told the Mail on Sunday, meaning many parts of the parliament with confidential papers were off-limits to the intruder.
More than £90m was spent bomb-proofing the Scottish Parliament building, with £1.25m spent constructing bollards and benches to stop the potential of vehicles crashing into the building.
Members of the public also have to enter through a £5m security pavilion, with a £2m biometric pass system for staff members, MSPs, and the press.
In January, the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body which runs the building and has cross-party representation including the Presiding Officer noted an update on security matters and considered a review of security measures at the parliament.
The news comes just a month after plans to implement tougher laws for those protesting on the grounds of Holyrood.
Critics have said the move – announced by presiding officer Alison Johnstone – will weaken the right of protest and several politicians have called for a reversal of the decision.
Making Holyrood a ‘protected site’, as planned, would see £5,000 fines for being on the Holyrood grounds ‘without lawful authority’.
It also gives extra powers to security staff to remove people in the chamber or parliament building, including if they climb on the roof or camp on its grounds.
Announcing the move, Ms Johnstone told MSPs: “As we have seen many times recently, maintaining a functioning Parliament to deliver and oversee the response to the current pandemic has clearly been in the national interest.
"We are also operating in the context of an increasing level of disruptive activity, including protests on our roof requiring specialist policing and emergency services response.”
A spokesperson for the Scottish Parliament said: “There are live proceedings. We cannot comment.”