ONE of Scotland’s most prominent aristocrats led an unauthorised march through a town centre which sparked police fears about “public safety”.

The Duke of Argyll was at the head of the Inveraray and District Pipe Band’s world championship victory parade and was one of more than 1,000 band supporters who had protested to police after it was refused permission on traffic grounds.

Organisers of the celebration of  Inveraray and District Pipe Band’s world championships victory say they managed to reach an agreement with a local police officer to allow the evening parade in the town’s main street.

It is understood a local Pc had been faced with more than 1,000 band supporters and a protest from local minister Rev Dr Roderick Campbell, Argyll and Bute MP Brendan O'Hara and even the Torquhil Campbell, the 13th Duke of Argyll - who ended up leading the Saturday evening march.

Police said they were forced to allow the march to go ahead for "safety reasons" but said it was "regrettable" that the right permissions had not been in place.

An attempt to get a rethink over the effective ban on the march even went to the Transport Minister Humza Yousaf who was unable to sanction the event.

The effective ban had been strongly criticised at a time when controversial marches regularly take place involving the Orange Order and Irish republican groups.

The band won the World Pipe Band Championships, fighting off a strong challenge from last year's Northern Irish victors, Field Marshal Montgomery Pipe Band, who came second.

The Inveraray band is only the second Scots band to win the world title in the past 12 years. Field Marshal Montgomery Pipe Band has won seven world titles over that period.

The community council organisers had contacted Transport Scotland last Tuesday, after police at a local station made contact after seeing a Facebook post about the proposed parade, and asking if the relevant closure orders were in place.

But after transport officials said it was a no-no, an appeal was made to the Transport Minister Humza Yousaf in a last ditch attempt to get a u-turn.

However Mr Yousaf responded saying: "I am afraid that the request to Transport Scotland for an order to close the road did not leave enough time to promote and publicise the order, as per the prescribed legal requirements. This is despite TS (Transport Scotland) reviewing how quickly they could complete the process and I am afraid that this process could not be circumvented.

"This lack of notice is unfortunate as Transport Scotland has often promoted such orders to support community events and recognising the great success of the Inveraray Pipe Band is definitely worth celebrating. Of course, Transport Scotland is happy to work with all involved so that the event can be staged at a later date."

Police Scotland said the Inveraray Pipe Band "decided to parade on the A83 through the town without the required authorisation from Transport Scotland". The band deny that saying they intended to march up the pavements but were told by the community council organisers that the police had agreed to the road march.

A Police Scotland spokesman added: "Following significant publicity in previous days, hundreds of spectators had gathered to see the band. As a result, Police Scotland took the decision on this occasion to allow the event to go ahead based on public safety grounds.

"It is regrettable that organisers did not have the necessary permission to do this and officers will be speaking to the event organisers to ensure that this will not happen again."

Former Inveraray Community Council convener, Iain MacAskill said an agreement was made with one police officer who was at the scene.

"The police officer took a look at the crowd, and we discussed what the options were and he agreed the easiest way was to occupy the A83, so between us we got it sorted, and all went to plan with no incident. It was a magnificent night for the town."

And Jim McMillan, the Inveraray band manager said the march lasted less than five minutes and only a handful of cars were affected.

"A few hundred locals and folks from further afield turned up to see the band returning from the Cowal Gathering (where they also won) at 8pm," he said.

"The police turned up - probably to ensure we didn’t march up the road - but eventually saw sense and decided it would be easier to let the street parade take place in view of the crowds that had gathered.


"The band came off the bus at the front green to be welcomed by the Duke of Argyll. They played a few sets there and then marched up the road, with local kids carrying the trophies, to the church and then played for another 10 minutes."

A Transport Scotland spokesman would only say: “We understand that the parade in Inveraray on Saturday was enjoyed by many and allowed the Pipe Band to celebrate their achievements.”

After that they went into the George Hotel beer garden for more tunes and a champagne reception from the community council.

Inveraray Pipe Band reformed 13 years ago after 68 years as a novice juvenile pipe band and moved through the grades to finally win the Worlds in Glasgow.

Almost 35,000 people attended the two-day world piping championships event held on Glasgow Green.

A total of 219 bands including 8,000 pipers from 15 nations took park in the contest, now in its 70th year.