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by Margaret Taylor
13 April 2023
Presiding Officer introduces new measures to crack down on protestors

Presiding Officer introduces new measures to crack down on protestors

Presiding Officer Alison Johnstone has introduced a new ticketing system for the Holyrood chamber in a bid to prevent protestors from disrupting parliamentary proceedings.

In recent weeks, every session of First Minister's Questions has been disrupted by protesters. At the most recent FMQs, the first since the election of Humza Yousaf, the public gallery had to be cleared.

Last month Johnstone pledged to crack down on protestors and she later banned mobile phones from the chamber, noting that protests “tended to be filmed and shared on social media”.

Today she has written to all members stating that anyone applying for a ticket to attend FMQs will have to provide their name and address and show identification that confirms that when collecting their ticket.

Mobile phones remain banned and will have to be placed in a locker prior to entering the chamber while anyone causing a disruption will not be allowed back for six months.

“It is deeply regrettable that the parliament has had to take this action,” she wrote.

“Over the past 25 years, we have prided ourselves on our openness to the public and the ease with which visitors have access to parliamentary business.

“However, a small, but persistent number of protesters have brought us to the point where increased measures must be introduced. 

“I will review the effectiveness of the new arrangements with the SPCB [Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body] after next week’s FMQs and, if necessary, consider the implementation of further measures to continue to protect parliamentary business from disruption.”

Johnstone confirmed that any MSPs booking tickets on behalf of constituents must ask for names and addresses and provide them to visitor services at the parliament.

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