The Scottish Parliament spent around £105,000 of taxpayers’ money to evict the indycamp pitched on Holyrood grounds, it has emerged.
The Holyrood authorities are to apply to the Court of Session in a move which could eventually see the parliament attempting to recover some of the money spent on taking the legal action from the campers who opposed the eviction.
A paper produced for the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body (SPCB) confirms Holyrood’s intention to seek an “award of expenses” to mitigate the £105,889.65 spent over the past year.
A Holyrood spokesman said: “In recognition of the clear public interest in this matter, the SPCB has taken the unusual step of publishing the costs associated with the court action. “Given the SPCB’s duty to use public money prudently, it will also be applying to the Court of Session for an award of expenses. It will be for the court to decide whether to award costs and, if so, the level of costs awarded.”
The paper prepared for the SPCB said it could be argued that the parliament authorities had an obligation to pursue the matter to minimise the cost to the public.
It added: “Such action would also underline the principle that anyone occupying Parliament land unlawfully should be expected to be responsible for the consequences of their actions.”
The document also said it would be for the SPCB to decide whether to pursue cost recovery if the court made the award in principle.
The document said: “It is not realistic to assume that a high percentage of the costs are recoverable. The SPCB would also not wish to spend more on pursuing cost recovery than it could reasonably expect to recoup. Other factors to consider would be the ability of the campers to pay the award and the levels of their assets which is not yet known. That said, given the amount of expenses to date of around £100k (net), securing the recovery of even a proportion for the public purse could be regarded as worthwhile.”
Tents and caravans belonging to independence campaigners appeared outside the parliament in November last year. The campaigners vowed to maintain their Holyrood vigil until Scotland became independent. They were evicted earlier this month.
The Scottish Parliament took legal action against them on the basis that they were stopping others from using the parliament’s facilities. They were evicted following a written judgement from Lord Turnbell, who after a seven month legal batte accused them of “selfish” and “arrogant” behaviour.