Why there's a row over attendance at the 'biggest ever' pro-independence march

A row has broken out about the lack of an official estimate at a rally in favour of independence that took place in Edinburgh on Saturday.

Organisers from the 'All Under One Banner' campaign group said that their march in the capital was attended by around 200,000 people, a claim that Edinburgh council has been unable to verify.

Politicians and some news outlets shared the figure, which was posted on the AUOB Twitter acount.

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'A Force for Good', a controversial unionist organisation which promoted counter-protests at the event, claimed on its own Twitter that the march was attended by just over 11,000 people, a claim dismissed by organisers.

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Police Scotland had collated estimates in previous years, but are not believed to have attempted to count the attendance at the march, which was addressed by politicians and activists including SNP MP Joanna Cherry and former Solidarity leader Tommy Sheridan.

Joanna Mowat, Conservative councillor for Edinburgh told the Times that she had concerns about the public safety implications of the lack of an official estimate.

She said: "If no official source can disclaim figures made by the organisers then it becomes hearsay, which might suit the senior councillors on the SNP administration who were on the march.

Bikers leading the march. Picture: PA

"It seems somewhat convenient, and smells fishy. Why was the control room so undermanned that they could not carry out an estimate? Did they choose to poorly resource it?"

The Times quoted Police Scotland as saying: "We do not have any estimated figures for the march in Edinburgh. It is not the responsibility of the police to count, although we have done in the past to give an estimate if possible. The council should be able to give you a second source."

Council officials said that they were not required to estimate crowd numbers, and suggested that attempting to estimate the size of the march would have drawn resources away from other aspects of managing the march.

Marches in Edinburgh

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon lent her support to the march, tweeting: "Good luck to everyone marching for independence in Edinburgh later. I’m not able to be there in person today, but I will be with you in spirit. Have a great day. And be in no doubt - independence is coming."