23 February 2011

Edinburgh's viscid troika admonished...

Tree-hugging, most of us will be familiar with. It calls for at least one ripe, stout-trunked sprouting plant and minimal irony or self-consciousness. The young, not to be trammelled by the frontiers of their parents, feel an inevitable pressure to innovate. In his gauche way, David Cameron's hug a hoodie proclamation spoke of his generation's longing for physical proximity - the political power of an embrace, however unwelcome. As I reported in January, today's environmentally conscientious youth have embarked on a concerted campaign of countinghouse-clinches, treasury-tweaking and semi-licit bank-squeezing. The pioneers of this not-for-profit venture are the soi-disant "Superglue 3", who sought to draw attention to the Royal Bank of Scotland's funding of tar sand oil extraction by supergluing themselves to the door of Edinburgh's Nicolson Street branch. In this mission, they were assisted by a ragbag band of baby-faced troubadours and semi-rhythmic wagglers, lurching to the strains of a doggerelised version of Lady Gaga's Pokerface. This viscid troika would be of minimal interest to Scots lawyers, had the procurator fiscal not decided to proceed against them in Edinburgh Sheriff Court, libelling a breach of the peace. You can inspect the locus in quo for yourself in this video footage from the not-really paralysed financial scene:

Is gluey hindrance of the ingress and egress of the lieges from a banking establishment “conduct severe enough to cause alarm to ordinary people and threaten serious disturbance to the community”? Sheriff Neil MacKinnon certainly thought so, holding that their conduct amounted to a breach of the peace and advising them that:

" ... members of the public go to their bank to deal with matters of finance, private or personal, and it is unsurprising that your actions provoked not only irritation but anger."

Shrieval mercy was forthcoming, however, and the three were simply admonished, meaning that their conviction will be recorded but no fine or other penalty is to be imposed. A critical precedent in the annals of Scots criminal jurisprudence it might not be, but for those of you who have been harbouring a secret desire to affix yourself to Scotland's civic buildings and business establishments - take note. 


  1. Quite entertaining, if you look at it from between the fingers.
    It reminds me of similar protests in my youth; most of the the old familiar stereotypes were there except for the token working class contingent.
    At least Tavish Scott has a claim to fame now, being a lookalike to a political activist...

  2. The workings of the shrieval mind remain a mystery. Compare with the foillowing, wherein no nuisance was deemed to have been caused:


  3. I remember hitch-hiking to Paris in May 68 not realising what turmoil lay ahead. Being grabbed somewhere near the Boulevard Saint Michel by a cafe owner who wanted us to help him protect his property from flying pieces of pavement by blocking the door and placing table tops against the now smashed windows. We were just glad for the protection. I've been back often but failed to find that cafe. I don't think the 'soixante huitards' would regard UHU-ing themselves to the Eiffel Tower having the effect of those barricades ... but that was forty years ago. Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Libya ... will they be able to look back on 2011 as their moment. I doubt if these states do not gain some progress, the option of being 'admonished' will be available.

  4. Conan,

    In your salad days, which particular old protesting stereotype did you play?

  5. Richard,

    This blog has recorded some of Scots law's curious decisions on what is and is not taken to be a breach of the peace in recent years.

    The case you mention is a timely reminder that many of the vast majority of decisions on the offence's construction are made in a comparatively low-level, low-visibility summary sheriff trials, which don't make the law reports. Particularly where the accused is acquitted.

  6. What a grand story! I hope do so, Clarinda. A wagged judicial digit is undoubtedly preferable to an itchy trigger finger.

  7. Why, the Che Guevara lookalike of course Lallands.
    My friend Irene was the hippy guitar basher, or should I say one of them.
    A muscular, dungareed character called Bernie was the Alpha...er leader of the Wimmin.

  8. Hirsutism for peace! A fine motto, Conan. That certainly is the full ethnographic back catalogue, largely replicated in the frolicking youth in the video. It is life's continuities that reassure, I find.