“This attack on our free press, society and democracy is completely unacceptable” was the response of the UK Home Secretary on an early September Saturday afternoon to a coordinated protest by the environmental activist group Extinction Rebellion. Their members had managed to blockade several distribution centres for Rupert Murdoch's News International Group. Their belief was that Murdoch's press was not reporting climate change and was “polluting national debate”. In doing so, they managed to delay the distribution of newspapers across the country.

This protest had also spread to Scotland where the Eurocentral press in Lanarkshire was targeted. Two elements of this event seemed to typify the themes around public order law in Scotland in this strange time. First, Police Scotland announced that the Motherwell event was “peaceful” and had passed without major incident in contrast to London where more than 600 arrests were made. Further, the organisers of the Scottish protest were keen to stress that protesters had worn face masks and had maintained social distancing of two metres. These were only two in a number of examples of UK public protests at the time of Covid-19. However, they also took place at a time when there had been heightened legal discourse around the very question of public protests in Scotland and across the UK.


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Cite as

McKerrell, N. 2021, 'Scottish public protest at a time of Covid-19', Edinburgh Law Review, 25(1), pp. 105-111. https://doi.org/10.3366/ELR.2021.0677

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Last updated: 19 May 2023
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