Independence protester Sean Clerkin fined for disrupting Labour event

Sean Clerkin in Glasgow city centre in March. Picture: John Devlin/TSPL
Sean Clerkin in Glasgow city centre in March. Picture: John Devlin/TSPL
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A hardline Scottish independence protester has been fined £1000 for breaching the peace at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall during a Labour event.

Sean Clerkin, 55, was found guilty after a trial at Glasgow Sheriff Court of repeatedly demanding to enter an event where the Ed Balls, former Shadow Chancellor was giving a speech on April 1, 2015.

He used bodily force to attempt to push by members of staff and repeatedly fell to the ground, alleging he had been assaulted.

Clerkin, a notorious activist with the Scottish Resistance movement, was said to have shouted and behaved in an aggressive manner and refused to leave.

Footage filmed by a man with Clerkin captured much of the incident which was played to the court.

Sheriff Tony Kelly fined first offender Clerkin, from Barrhead, £1,000 for his crime.

Clerkin said he would appeal the conviction.

He and his co-accused Piers Doughty-Brown, 56, also faced a charge of behaving in a threatening or abusive manner on May 16, last year at the Labour Party offices on Bath Street, Glasgow, when Jim Murphy announced his resignation. But both were found not proven on that charge.

In evidence Clerkin accepted he was told he wasn’t allowed to enter the meeting with Mr Balls at the Concert Hall and told the court: “I didn’t accept what I was being told was true.”

He claimed he didn’t recall saying the footage of the incident would be put on YouTube but the court heard it ultimately was put online and made public.

It was put to him: “Did you believe you had an opportunity to speak to Ed Balls?” and he answered: “That’s why I went there.”

The court heard from Callum Munro, 24, who was at the time the Scottish Organiser for the Scottish Labour party.

He said Mr Balls was giving a speech at the concert hall and Clerkin appeared in the building with two acquaintances.

Mr Munro said Clerkin had been told where the private event was in error and he told him not to go to it.

He claimed Clerkin became “blustery” and demanded to be able to go, and that he had a right to attend.

The court was told Clerkin “shouted for the best part of an hour”.

He said he felt concerned the situation would further escalate and that he was “being put in what I thought was a dangerous and intimidating situation”.

Mr Munro said Clerkin was pushing past him to get to the room where the event was taking place and using his “full” body weight.

He claimed the incident moved through the building to the bottom of stairs, that lead to the private room the party had.

The witness also said that Clerkin “feigned” falling over and claiming he had been assaulted. At the start of the trial his defence lawyer John Flanagan made a motion that the sheriff should recuse himself because his brother is a Labour MSP.

Mr Flanagan said that because of that, it might be seen to be a conflict of interest. He was unable to produce any authority to the sheriff in support, but said that his brother being affiliated with the party which is linked to the labour head office, might be an issue in the public eye.

Sheriff Kelly told him: “I’m struggling to see what gives rise to the conflict.”

The lawyer said: “The fact is your brother is an MSP, this is about the Labour party and that’s the connection.”