Death threats to two Edinburgh councillors sparks police probe

City Chambers on the Royal Mile
City Chambers on the Royal Mile
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POLICE have been called-in to investigate death threats made to two members of Edinburgh City Council.

The threats are understood to have included both face-to-face abuse and messages on social media.

It is also understood in both cases the threats were linked to their role as elected members of the local authority.

The security alert has now sparked calls for a new protocol on councillors’ personal safety.

The Evening News knows the identities of both councillors but is not naming them. Police Scotland investigations are ongoing in both cases.

A motion to be discussed at today’s full council meeting deplores verbal and physical intimidation and calls for a protocol for councillors to report incidents and receive appropriate support.

It will be proposed by Mandy Watt, Labour councillor for Meadows/Morningside and seconded by SNP council leader Adam McVey.

Cllr McVey said the motion aimed to establish a protocol for elected members faced with aggressive or abusive behaviour from members of the public.

He said: “We are in a really unfortunate place now, it seems, where some people have safety as one of the considerations of how they have to go about their business as an elected member.

“That’s not how things should be. We should be able to be accessible and open without having to think about these sorts of things.

“It’s not a party political or even a political point, it’s a civic point about how we engage with each other in the city.

“So I certainly hope the discourse in the city, whether it’s in the newspapers or the council chamber or in the pub or on the comment pages of Facebook or wherever become a nicer place for everyone.”

Edinburgh South West SNP MP Joanna Cherry revealed a few weeks ago she had to receive police protection at her constituency office after receiving a death threat on social media.

And earlier this year Edinburgh Western Lib Dem MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton said he and his staff had been given attack alarms following online abuse.

The call for a new protocol is expected to receive cross-party support at today’s meeting.

The motion, entitled Threatening Behaviour Towards Councillors says: “This council recognises that politicians are working in a febrile atmosphere which could lead to open hostility, verbal abuse and threats of physical violence; deplores all such instances of verbal or physical intimidation; advocates a zero tolerance approach to any such behaviour in our city; and asks that a protocol be developed for councillors to report incidents to the council so that they can receive appropriate support.”