Climate Activists Demand Answers from Lothian & Borders Police
August 30, 2010
Activists from the Climate Camp, who set up camp at RBS headquarters at Gogarburn, Edinburgh last week, have filed a complaint today against the Lothian & Borders police force over unsubstantiated statements claiming that protestors from Climate Camp were responsible for an alleged oil spill on two main roads outside Edinburgh on Monday 23rd August 2010.
The complaint demands an apology from Lothian & Borders Police for issuing two press releases accusing protesters of spilling oil on major roads, without providing any evidence linking the alleged 'oil spill' to climate activists. (1) Activists from the Camp claim that the police contravened both the Lothian & Borders Police Charter and the Scottish Police Service Code of Ethical Practice in failing to act 'fairly, honestly and with complete impartiality'. (2)
Activists from the Climate Camp are also filing Freedom of Information requests to Lothian & Borders Police for the Gold, Silver and Bronze command logs, police notebooks, and photographs of the scene.
Climate Camp denies any knowledge of a connection between the Camp and the alleged 'oil spill', and have stated that it would be entirely uncharacteristic of Climate Camp actions, which neither endanger nor target the public.
The letter to Lothian & Borders Police comes at the same time as a series of complaints to the Press Complaints Commission regarding 19 articles that published police allegations as fact.
This is not the first time that the police have made false allegations as part of their press strategy regarding protests. The police's media strategy around the Kingsnorth Climate Camp in 2008 (3) and the G20 protests in London (April 2009) (4) were characterised by unsubstantiated accusations and media manipulation.
The letter states:
"This press strategy has both criminalised people attending the Climate Camp at Gogarburn based on conjecture, and irresponsibly publicised these allegations to the press. This has amounted to a smear campaign against Climate Camp on the grounds of an unsubstantiated implication of putting ‘many members of the public at risk’.
"The lack of due process and evidence behind these public accusations represents a violation of the responsibility of the police to behave with fairness, integrity and impartiality toward the public."
A spokesperson from the Climate Camp said:
“It is astounding that the police expect to get away with unfounded accusations against protesters.We do take direct action against the causes of climate change and the severity of the climate crisis sometimes necessitates breaking the law.
"However, our actions have always been targeted at climate criminals - banks, corporations and governments - and have never aimed to endanger the public.”
A full copy of the letter will be available on Monday at
NOTES FOR EDITORS
(1) Climate Camp Update, Lothian and Borders Police 1200hrs, 23/08/10
Climate Camp - round up of today's activity, Lothian and Borders Police, 23/08/10
(2) The Lothian & Borders Policing Charter:
and the Scottish Police Service's Code of Ethical Practice:
(3) At the Kingsnorth Climate Camp the Kent Police accused protesters of causing dozens of injuries to police officers, which later turned out to be wasp stings and back aches. (Guardian 16/12/08, 'Minister apologises for police insect injuries' -
The Kent Police also claimed that they had confiscated stockpiles of weapons and dangerous materials from protesters - these items included a board game, crayons, and soap. (Guardian 1/3/09, 'Police "over the top" at climate camp -
(4) At the G20 protests in London (April 2009), which included the Climate Camp in the City, Met Police alleged that they were prevented from helping Ian Tomlinson due to protesters throwing bottles, (Telegraph 2/4/09 'G20 protests: man who died during demonstrations named as Ian Tomlinson' -
whereas in reality Ian Tomlinson death was caused by police assault, and protesters were the first to attempt to aid him. (Guardian 22/7/10 'Ian Tomlinson: a story of justice denied' -