Scotland’s First Minister has condemned the vandals who torched wreaths left in tribute to those who fell fighting for their country as “sickening and disgraceful”.
Nicola Sturgeon led tributes at the war memorial in Edinburgh on Remembrance Sunday, with the First Minister among many who laid poppy wreaths at the Stone of Remembrance outside the City Chambers, the first such gathering since all Covid restrictions were lifted.
But less than 24 hours after the Scottish capital fell silent to the sound of the one o’clock gun, many of the poppy wreaths laid in honour of the dead were set on fire and the memorial damaged.
Ms Sturgeon said: “Utterly beyond comprehension that someone would vandalise a war memorial on Remembrance Day – sickening and disgraceful.
“I hope those responsible are identified and brought to justice.”
And Edinburgh’s Lord Provost Robert Aldridge hit out at those behind the vandalism, and blasted it as “disgusting and disrespectful”.
“We remain at a loss for the reasons someone could do something like this which has caused a lot of upset for everyone who respects the memories of all who serve their country,” he said.
“Yesterday it was my honour to lay a wreath on behalf of the City of Edinburgh to remember those who served and sacrificed so much.
“The vandalism discovered this morning, not only to the recently laid wreaths but also Edinburgh’s Stone of Remembrance, is disgusting and disrespectful”.
As well as Ms Sturgeon and Mr Aldridge, groups from across Edinburgh laid wreaths at the memorial.
Members of the three branches of the Armed Forces marched down the Royal Mile before the short service, led by Rev Calum MacLeod, at the memorial overlooked by St Giles’ Cathedral.
Scottish Conservative Lothians MSP Miles Briggs said: “This mindless act of vandalism is an absolutely appalling insult towards our fallen war heroes.
“It is totally disgraceful that, less than 24 hours after typically poignant Remembrance Sunday services in the capital, moronic idiots would engage in burning tributes that had been laid for our soldiers.
“It is a show of total disrespect towards those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our country.”
The burnt remains have been cleaned up. The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service were called at 5.14am to reports of the blaze.
A spokesman said: “Operations control mobilised one fire appliance to the scene where a fire affecting a number of wreaths had been extinguished prior to arrival.”
Chief Inspector Murray Tait, local area commander, said: “Our inquiries are ongoing after poppy wreaths were set on fire at the war memorial in High Street, Edinburgh, around 5am on Monday November 14.
“Officers are carrying out inquiries and gathering CCTV footage to find out more information on whoever is responsible.
“I utterly condemn this appalling act of vandalism, especially at this time of year when remembrance services have just been held across the country.”