Flaming bagpiper deported to US after being detained in Edinburgh

A FLAME-spouting bagpiper and Fringe busker famed for his pro-independence activism has been deported ahead of the festival.

Ryan Randall led a rally of Yes-voters through the streets of Edinburgh on the day of the independence referendum in 2014. Picture: Neil Hanna
Ryan Randall led a rally of Yes-voters through the streets of Edinburgh on the day of the independence referendum in 2014. Picture: Neil Hanna

His supporters claim political motives are behind the refusal to allow him to enter Scotland, but the Home Office maintained he breached visa requirements. “I think it’s an absolute disgrace,” said friend and leading member of pro-independence group Scottish Resistance, Sean Clerkin, 57.

“He’s got Scottish roots and is a familiar figure in Glasgow and Edinburgh.

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“It’s an absolute travesty and he should be allowed to come back.”

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Mr Randall was stopped at immigration after landing at Edinburgh Airport wearing a Scottish Resistance T-shirt on Thursday.

He was taken to the Dungavel Immigration Removal Centre in South Lanarkshire and put on a plane back to the States on Monday.

The 34-year-old spends 90 days a year in Scotland and hoped to take part in pro-independence events over the summer, as well as performing at the Fringe.

But instead he was put on a plane for Chicago and then told to make his way home to Las Vegas from there. Mr Clerkin spoke to a “shocked” Mr Randall in the early hours of yesterday by phone after the musician landed in Chicago.

They claim his deportation was politically motivated after Mr Randall’s profile was raised when demonstrating efforts to deport former Catalonia minister Clara Ponsatí.

Last year, Mr Randall was one of six members of the Scottish Resistance who protested inside the Spanish Consulate.

“I see this as a fundamental abuse of his human rights by a British state, which seems to be very authoritarian these days,” Mr Clerkin said. “Why was it he came in six years previously with no problems?”

Mr Clerkin labelled work visa demands as a “technicality”.

He added: “The week that [Donald] Trump was here at the same time, he’s basically been victimised because he’s a member of Scottish Resistance and his higher profile because of the Spanish consulate case.”

Despite his negative experience, Mr Randall is expected to return to the Capital with the correct visa in future.

Mr Randall, with flames shooting out of the top of his bagpipes, led The Short Walk to Freedom, a rally of Yes voters through the Capital on the day of the independence referendum in September 2014.

About 100 voters joined him to make their way through the streets of a Craigmillar housing estate to the polling station for the historic vote.

A Home Office spokeswoman said: “Non-EU nationals seeking to enter the UK as visitors are not permitted to work.

“Those intending to work in the UK require the appropriate visa to do so.”