Scottish Parliament break-in: Crook enters via ‘unsecured door’ despite £100m security

Douglas Ross reacts to hecklers in Scottish Parliament

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The break-in sparked serious concern amongst MSPs, SNP led Scottish Government ministers and officials. Holyrood officials said the break-in, which took place in January at the heart of Scottish democracy was “very embarrassing” and “very serious”.

Officials say a person climbed a fence surrounding the Holyrood compound and entered the Parliament through an “unsecured door”.

After undertaking a jolly through the Parliament, the alarm was then triggered before security guards confronted the burglar.

Police were then called in and the person was arrested with several teams sent to the scene.

It comes after chiefs invested millions in trying to safeguard the national parliament over the last ten years from crime and terrorism.

£90million was spent on bomb proofing the interior and a £5million security pavilion was created for the public to enter through.

In addition, £1.25m was spent on crash proof bollards and £2million on a biometric pass system.

The break-in has boosted the case for the Scottish Parliament to be a “protected site”.

This means that being in the Holyrood building or grounds “without lawful authority” would be punishable by up to a year in prison or fines of £5,000.

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Presiding Officer Alison Johnstone announced the Scottish Parliament’s Corporate Body which oversees the day to day running of Holyrood was seeking to make it a criminal offence last month.

In a message to MSPs, she said: “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, and unauthorised occupation of the debating chamber.

“Actions such as these have the potential to disrupt the parliament’s ability to meet.”

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The measures came into force on October 1 with Westminster and the Welsh Senedd also having the status.

However, the Scottish Greens and Alba are calling for the measures to be dropped because protests outside the Parliament would be restricted.

The Greens, who are junior partners in the Scottish Government said the right to protest was a “fundamental component of democracy” and limiting it was “not only unnecessary but counterproductive”.

Meanwhile, Alba Westminster leader Neale Hanvey has written to senior parliamentarians at Westminster calling for a “united front” to oppose the powers.

Mr Hanvey said: “These new powers are an affront to Scotland’s democratic traditions and a clear threat to civil liberties.”

A Scottish Parliament spokesman declined to discuss the break-in because of forthcoming court proceedings. 

A man is due to appear in court in connection with the incident later this month.


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