A FORMAL complaint has been lodged after an evangelical Christian group staged an event in the Scottish Parliament.
The Edinburgh Secular Society claims strict Holyrood rules were breached when the Evangelical Alliance Scotland (EAS) was allowed to hold a reception at the parliament to mark the publication of its manifesto entitled What Kind of Nation?
Official guidelines say organisations “are not permitted to use the parliament complex for official launches of any kind”.The ESS claimed the event was a clear and “extremely serious” breach of the rules.
And it noted that a speech from Roseanna Cunningham, Minister for Legal Affairs, was read at the gathering.
The complaint said: “ESS has no objections to the general voicing of religious opinion.
“However, we were deeply concerned that the launch of EAS’s manifesto was allowed to take place in the Scottish Parliament with an endorsement from a government minister, giving it a gravitas and support not extended to any other organisations launch event.”
EAS spokesman Kieran Turner said he was aware of the rules and denied there had been any breach. He said: “It was not a launch. We published the document earlier in the week. It was on our website.
“We talked this through with the parliament. We were particularly careful not to call it a launch. We cannot legislate for what other people might call it.
“Any event at the parliament gives a profile to what you are doing – that’s why people have things there.”
Norman Bonney, honorary president of the ESS, said it seemed clear the event had been a launch in all but name.
He said: “They were really launching it – it was the first public event of the campaign at which people were present.
“I think they are technically in breach of the rules. It’s not they who are at fault – it’s the parliamentary authorities for allowing it. And Roseanna Cunningham’s involvement in sending a message would appear to be conniving in that breach of the parliament’s rules.”
A Scottish Parliament spokeswoman said: “The events guidance states that organisations are not permitted to use the parliament for official launches.
“Guidance to members also makes clear the parliament should not be used for referendum campaign activities.
“We do not, however, comment on individual complaints.”