A solicitor behind the campaign for a public inquiry into Edinburgh Trams claims he was assaulted by a tram official as he protested at Saturday’s launch.
Daniel Donaldson alleges a Transport for Edinburgh tram official pushed him, pinned his arm across his chest and attempted to break his fingers.
The 33-year-old claims the assault happened as he challenged the official after the man ripped down a poster asking people to sign a petition about the £776 million cost of the tram project.
Mr Donaldson said the alleged incident – at around 11am on Princes Street – left him shaken and only ended when members of the public intervened.
Mr Donaldson told The Scotsman: “It is extremely worrying that a public official should take to assaulting a solicitor or any other campaign organiser because they do not like the level of publicity or the message of the campaign. The City of Edinburgh Council and the Edinburgh Trams are both public authorities in terms of the human rights act and the equality act.
“By assaulting me and allegedly authorising the destruction of campaign materials they have acted illegally in an attempt to disrupt this important campaign. I established the Trams Inquiry Campaign because, as a solicitor, I could not stand by and watch £776m of public money disappear without explanation or any accountability.”
Mr Donaldson alleges the first official who removed a poster, in Princes Street, said he was authorised to do so as it was illegal fly-posting. Mr Donaldson claims he was assaulted an hour later after a second officialremoved a poster from a bike stand between Hanover Street and Frederick Street.
He said: “When he saw I was about to take his photo he walked off down Princes Street. I followed him and he said to me ‘I’m going to smash your face in and get you done for breach of the peace’. He then pushed my right arm across my chest and pinned my fingers back.
“I cried out in pain and was very shaken. Three members of the public saw what was going on. I’ve got them as witnesses.”
Mr Donaldson, from Drylaw, said he approached councillor Lesley Hinds, the city’s transport leader and his local councillor, who was in Princes Street, telling her he had been assaulted. He claims she replied: “You’ve been flyposting and they’ve been authorised to remove them. What do you expect? If you’re going to protest it should be against the Scottish Government, not us.”
A Transport for Edinburgh spokesman said: “Our staff member was initially approached at Princes Street tram stop after removing an illegally posted banner and then was followed along Princes Street for some distance. He then had something thrust into his face and raised his hand to protect himself as he was surprised and felt threatened. We feel this accusation is without foundation and we’re fully supporting our team member.”
A police spokesman confirmed officers are investigating a report of a minor assault.
Cllr Hinds refuted Mr Donaldson’s claims. She said: “Daniel approached me twice on Saturday. The first time, he told me he’d had posters removed and I reminded him this is because he hadn’t obtained consent to put up posters on street furniture.
“The second time he approached me, he alleged someone had tried to grab his camera. I advised him that if he had something to report, he ought to go to the police or take it up with Edinburgh Trams staff.”