Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body v The Sovereign Indigenous Peoples of Scotland, 5 May 2016 – removal of protestors camping at the Scottish Parliament
This is an Outer House case in which the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body sought an order for removal of a group of individuals camped within the grounds of the Scottish Parliament with the stated intension of remaining there until Scotland declares itself an independent country.
Lord Turnbull found that the corporate body was the valid proprietor of the grounds on which the camp was located, that the campers had no lawful right to encroach upon the corporate body’s property and found that arguments made by the campers concerning the impact of the Treaty of Union (leading to the creation of Great Britain) on the provision of the corporate body’s powers by the Scotland Act 1998 had no foundation. Lord Turnbull also rejected arguments based on rights claimed by the campers under The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People of 2007 and, in addition, found that the campers’ occupation of the camp did not fall within rights of access (the “right to roam”) created under the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003.
However, Lord Turnbull did find that, as the corporate body is a public body, it is unlawful for it to act in a way which is incompatible with the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. As such, it was necessary to consider whether granting an order for removal of the campers was compatible with the rights guaranteed by the convention; in particular article 10 (freedom of expression) and article 11 (freedom of assembly and association). Consequently, Lord Turnbull granted a procedural hearing anticipating that it would lead to a further hearing to consider evidence on the proportionality of granting the order removing the camp (i.e. to allow the corporate body’s right to the removal order to be assessed against the campers right to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly and association).
The full judgement is available from Scottish Courts here.
(See decision on human rights issues here.)