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Sunday, 11 September 2011

SDL and Unite Against Fascism stage Edinburgh rallies (UK)

Hundreds of police have staged a show of force in central Edinburgh at a rally by the Scottish Defence League.

Almost 200 supporters of the far right group were heavily outnumbered by officers drawn from forces across the central belt.

They were penned in after the city council refused them permission to march.

A counter demonstration of about 400 Unite Against Fascism protesters was allowed to hold a procession.

They marched along Princes Street before attending a rally.

A spokesman for Lothian and Borders Police confirmed there was a "substantial police presence" and said both demonstrations passed off without incident and without any arrests.
'Minimum disruption'

The Lothian and Borders force was supported by officers from Strathclyde, Tayside, Fife, Central, and British Transport Police.

Assistant Chief Constable Iain Livingstone, of Lothian and Borders Police, said: "We are satisfied with the conduct of the vast majority of those who visited Edinburgh for their respective demonstrations.

"The day passed without significant incident and allowed local residents and businesses to go about their day with minimum disruption."

He added: "I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the public in Edinburgh for their patience and support throughout the policing of this event.

"Edinburgh remains a hub for various demonstrations to take place and Lothian and Borders Police have a wealth of experience in facilitating both planned and spontaneous gatherings."
Disorder fears

The Scottish Defence League is an offshoot of the English Defence League, which has been associated with trouble at gatherings south of the border.

Last year there were minor skirmishes when about 50 SDL supporters staged a rally in the capital.

They were outnumbered by 2,000 counter-protesters marching under the banner of Scotland United.

This year the SDL had originally wanted to march from near the US Consulate to the east end of Princes Street.

This proposal was turned down by members of the council's licensing committee over fears of public disorder.

Speakers at a UAF rally were due to include Malcolm Chisholm MSP, Colin Keir MSP and union representatives.

BBC News