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Charges against nine of 14 climate change protesters are dropped

Prosecutors have dropped charges against nine of the 14 climate change activists who were held following a series of protests against the Royal Bank of Scotland.

Five people yesterday pled not guilty at Edinburgh Sheriff Court to offences connected to the demonstrations in and around Edinburgh on Monday.

Three of the accused were from London, one from Wales and one was from France.

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The Herald reported yesterday that the total bill for the weekend’s disruption was likely to exceed £100,000 and momentum grew last night for a controversial plan to bill activists convicted of vandalism for police costs at demonstrations.

Edinburgh LibDem MSP Margaret Smith raised questions over the small number of people who eventually appeared in court and added that the Scottish Government should investigate a plan by the city’s police board chairman to make violent protesters pay towards policing as well as for damages to property.

Monday’s action brought disruption to bank customers and motorists after an oil-like substance was spilled on roads.

Ms Smith backed the proposal by Iain Whyte, the capital’s Tory leader and chairman of the Lothian and Borders Police Board, to bill protesters.

An estimated 500 activists set up a Camp for Climate Action behind the RBS global headquarters to protest against its funding of fossil fuel companies, which they say are destroying the planet.

A spokeswoman for the Climate Camp campaign said: “The cost of climate change is going to far exceed the cost of any policing operation. That’s the cost I think most people are worried about.”

At Edinburgh Sheriff Court, trials for the five people charged were set for early next year.

Giovanna Speciale, 38, and Tim Gee, 25, both from London, and Cara Whelan, 34, from Ceredigion, Wales, were accused of preventing customers from entering an RBS branch in the city’s Nicolson Square, chanting slogans and glueing themselves to each other and the entrance door of the premises.

Eleanor Smith, 24, from London, denied painting graffiti on eight bins on the Royal Mile belonging to the bank.

Martin Wallace, 58, of Impasse Shaudaon, France, denied assaulting police officers.

All five were granted bail on the conditions that they left Edinburgh by 7pm last night and did not enter the city unless attending court or meeting their solicitor.

They were further barred from going within 500 yards of the RBS headquarters.

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