Independence march organiser defends decision to refuse start time order

An organiser of a pro-independence march in Glasgow has defended his decision to refuse an order from the police and council for it to be started earlier.

Manny Singh was reported to the procurator fiscal following the All Under One Banner (AUOB) march on Saturday, which police estimate was attended by around 35,000 people.

It had been advertised to start at 1.30pm, however Glasgow City Council and Police Scotland had ordered that to be amended to 11am due to concerns about public safety and disruption to the community.

Organisers failed to comply with the order and Mr Singh was subsequently reported in connection with section 65 of the Civic Government Act 1982.

It states that anyone convicted of holding a procession that does not comply with the relevant council order can be sentenced to imprisonment for a period of up to three months.

In a statement, Mr Singh claimed that the “unionist” Glasgow City council – which is led by the SNP – is pushing for his prosecution over the failure to change the starting time of the event.

He said: “I always knew that the unionist Glasgow City Council could push for this. I evaluated the risks to myself and only myself about what would happen if I defied GCC and their ridiculous demands to keep numbers low.

“Worst case a heavy fine and three months custodial sentence. That is nothing compared to others not just in Scotland but worldwide who endured death, torture, jail to make their nations free.

“There are demonstrations happening all over Britain just now that don’t have one per cent of the planning and organisation that we put into the Glasgow march which was entirely peaceful.”

Mr Singh added: “We told the police and the council a year ago what time we would start. We had people coming from far and near and we just couldn’t change the start time at the last minute.

“I will be defending this charge to the fullest, and will cite the freedom of assembly section of the European Convention of Human Rights. Freedom can never be won by bending the knee.”

March for Independence
March for Independence

Glasgow City Councillor Rhiannon Spear tweeted: “I can assure you Glasgow City Council is anything but Unionist.

“Manny has been reported to the PF because he did not comply with the council order’s start time. His comments here are bizarre + entirely unhelpful. I hope he works with the council from the start next time.”

A spokesman for Glasgow City Council said that it would not be appropriate to comment at this time due to ongoing proceedings.