Scottish nationalist not guilty of abusive behaviour at Bannockburn clash

The Scottish flag. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
The Scottish flag. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
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A leading member of a Scottish ultra-nationalist group clashed with members of an Irish Republican flute band at a rally to commemorate the anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn, a court has heard.

Bruce Ogilvie, an office bearer of Siol nan Gaidheal, or “Seed of the Gaels”, once pictured with Alex Salmond, was “angry” that the Irish band had turned up at the 2017 rally at the National Trust for Scotland’s Battle of Bannockburn Visitor Centre, Stirling Justice of the Peace Court was told.

Ogilvie, 57, who was linked to the extreme anti-English group Settler Watch in the 1990s, was alleged to have shouted “Fenian bastards” at the band amid ugly scenes.

The court heard “nasty words” were said on both sides, and the family atmosphere of the rally, attended by hundreds of adults and children, initially began to sour when a group of Spaniards took exception to the Catalan flag being flown.

Donald Anderson, leader of the Scottish Republican Socialist Movement, which organises the annual rally on the nearest Saturday to the anniversary of Robert the Bruce’s 1314 victory, said there had been “the usual march” from the town to the Heritage Centre.

He told the court: “I was the organiser and MC at the microphone.

“There was a band from Coatbridge called the United Irishmen Republican Flute Band.

“My friend Bruce Ogilvie was with me. He wasn’t pleased about the Irish band being present. He was angry and upset. He was shouting things at the band. A few shouted back.

“The bandmaster had to restrain the band members. They all wanted to fight with Bruce - it got to that stage.

“I had to explain to Bruce there were Irishmen at Culloden and he was calmed down.

“Then the rally finished and we all marched off to the pub.”

Cross-examined, Mr Anderson, 82, said there had been “a noise of shouting and swearing, but no fisticuffs”.

Paul Lee, a former soldier monitoring the rally with a bodycam and two-way radio, said Ogilvie had been called “an Orange bastard” by someone present.

Mr Lee, 54, said: “The atmosphere was friendly, with young and old people and weans, but it changed.

“There were a load of Spaniards who were kicking up about a Catalan flag and that was what actually kicked it off.

“I stepped in to split it up.

“It really got out of hand. There were nasty words said from both sides.”

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Mr Lee, from Falkirk, agreed with prosecutor Ashley Smith that when police phoned him up a few weeks after the incident - which occurred on June 10th 2017 - he had stated that Ogilvie, who was wearing a black top with “Gaelic symbols on it”, had “attended with some stragglers, one carrying a Scottish flag” and stood near a contingent from the William Wallace Society.

He told the police officer: “Bruce Ogilvie started shouting at the Irish flute band.”

But he agreed with solicitor Norman Fraser, for Ogilvie, that it had simply been a telephone conversation - he had not gone to the police station and had neither made nor signed a formal statement. He said he had memory problems and could not recall exactly what he had told the officer.

Ogilvie, of Montrose, denied threatening and abusive behaviour, shouting and swearing, and uttering sectarian remarks.

Submitting no case to answer, Mr Fraser said that “anti-Irish, anti-Catholic” slogans were “alien” to Ogilvie.

He said: “They are not expressions he has used.”

Justice of the Peace Dr Vicki Nash upheld the submission.

She said the police statement was insufficiently corroborated and found Ogilvie - who therefore had no opportunity to give evidence himself - not guilty.

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Siol nan Gaidheal was formed in 1978. It does not classify itself as a political party and claims the “fostering of Scottish ethnicity as the bedrock of Scottish nationality should in turn form the basis for Scottish citizenship”. Members were officially banned from the SNP in 1982 by then party leader Gordon Wilson, who described it as “proto-fascist”.

However, Mr Ogilvie appears to have been involved in the SNP until much later. He was active in its Bannockburn branch in 2005 and was pictured with Alex Salmond, then First Minister, and local SNP election candidates in 2009.