BEEFED up police patrols have been requested at polling stations in a troubled election battleground amid claims of candidate intimidation..

Paul Jukes, chief executive of North Lanarkshire Council, has discussed security arrangements with Police Scotland for this Thursday's poll and the follow day's count as footage emerged of a public dispute between rival candidates.

Mr Jukes, who as returning officer is responsible for overseeing the ballot, admitted he had discussed "appropriate policing of the election in North Lanarkshire with Police Scotland”.

It came as footage of an altercation involving SNP hopeful Sophia Coyle and independent candidate Peter Owens, who is running in the same Airdrie area as her parents, appeared on Facebook.

Ms Coyle – flanked by her husband and another man – is filmed at a car boot sale in Lanark 15 miles away from her battleground constituency accusing Mr Owens of selling stolen goods.

Mr Owens has since complained to the council that he was intimidated by the trio.

Several other councillors raised the issue with the authority’s leader, Labour’s Jim Logue, who passed the matter to the chief executive

Mr Owens, a former office manager for local SNP stalwart Alex Neil, is standing in Airdrie South where he will face Ms Coyle’s father Michael, who is standing on an SNP ticket, and mother Agnes, an independent candidate recently de-selected by the party.


The family have been linked to the ongoing internal SNP feuding and power struggles in Lanarkshire, with Mr Coyle recently publishing a letter from the police which he insisted clears him of any links to organised crime.

The move comes just three weeks after another independent and former SNP councillor, Alan O’Brien, was cleared at Hamilton Sheriff Court of threatening Mr and Mrs Coyle.

Mr Jukes said: “The leader of the council brought a video circulating on Facebook to my attention which concerned two candidates. In addition, one of the candidates raised his concerns about the events contained within the video with a depute returning officer.

“As chief executive of the council and returning officer I meet with senior police officers on a regular basis and I raised the video with the police among other matters to do with the election. Any determination on criminality is a matter purely for Police Scotland.

“I understand that this is a time of particular tension for local politicians and campaigners and I have discussed the appropriate policing of the election in North Lanarkshire with Police Scotland, as I do with any other event which requires police involvement.”

Mr Owens said: “My wife has now asked me to reconsider standing as she does not want to spend the next five years living with this type of behaviour hanging over us. But I am determined to go forward.

“I have also raised the allegations made against me with my employers.”

In a written statement Ms Coyle said “The reason why I went to car boot sale is it’s best to buy plants for my garden and the best place is the Clyde Valley garden centres.

“This man seen me first and started videoing me and my friend when I seen him doing this I asked him why he was was videoing me. All I done was ask him questions. He has harassed and stalked myself and my family.”

Mr Logue said: “The behaviour demonstrated by an SNP candidate in this video, concerns me greatly. It is clearly an attempt to intimidate another candidate in the election. Whilst political disagreements are normal at this time, in my clear view this goes well beyond that.

“I fully support the Returning Officer in any action he deems necessary to ensure the integrity of the elections.”

A Police Scotland spokeswoman said: “We can confirm officers met with the Chief Executive and discussed a number of issues, and officers will carry out any further enquiries necessary following this meeting. The election, like any event, will be policed appropriately.”