No arrests but FMQ protesters banned from Holyrood for six months

No arrests were made after protesters disrupted Humza Yousaf’s inaugural First Minister’s Questions, with Holyrood officials issuing six-month bans.

Protests by climate change activists have become a fixture at the weekly parliamentary session, with Presiding Officer Alison Johnstone being forced to suspend proceedings a number of times in recent months.

But on Thursday, Parliament business was suspended five times before the end of questioning from Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross, leaving the Presiding Officer visibly angry and forcing her to clear the public gallery of visitors – leaving just two school classes and the family of the First Minister able to watch proceedings from within the chamber.

Police Scotland said no arrests were made, but 11 people were removed from the gallery at Holyrood.

A spokeswoman for the force said: “Around 12.20pm on Thursday March 30, 11 protesters were asked to leave the public gallery for breach of the code of conduct at the Scottish Parliament.

Protester in the public gallery at Holyrood
First Minister’s Questions was interrupted five times by protesters on Thursday (Andrew Milligan/PA)

“There were no arrests and there is no further police action.”

Late on Thursday, the Presiding Officer told MSPs in an email that the interruptions were “wholly unacceptable”.

She added: Under my authority, all those who disrupted business today will be issued with a ban from the chamber public galleries for six months.

“The (Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body) was also clear that we must be in the strongest position possible to prevent further disruptions to business.

“With that in mind, we will introduce, at the earliest opportunity, more stringent measures to identify those who disrupt our proceedings.

“We will also amend our visitor access policy to explicitly state that anyone who wilfully disrupts business will be excluded from our public galleries.”

The harder stance comes after the Parliament announced this week that mobile phones would not be allowed in the gallery.