THE ACTING chief constable has acted to restrict a far-right 'pro free speech' demonstration in Glasgow because of concerns about "serious public disorder".

The Herald has learned that Iain Livingstone, the deputy chief constable designate, told organisers of the Scottish Defence League protest in support of former English Defence League leader Tommy Robinson that they could have no more than 100 people at today's demo.

The organisers were also told that the protest in George Square could start at 1pm and finish "no later" than 1.30pm. And the protesters were warned that they should disperse "without any group procession forming".

The Herald:

Mr Livingstone also warned that it was an offence to fail to comply with the restrictions.

The restrictions have been criticised by the SDL who say a rival protest from anti-fascists campaigners organised by Unite Against Fascism had no such restrictions.

George Square was fenced off ahead of the restricted rally and SNP MSP Sandra White took to Twitter to express concern for where the rally would take place as the whole square had been cordoned off.

It is estimated that only around 20 far-right protesters showed up, vastly outnumbered by over 300 counter-protesters and a heavy police presence.

The Herald:

The SDL are demonstrating against the imprisonment of the far-right figure on charges of contempt of court.

Anti-fascists to launch counter protest as Scottish Defence League stage Glasgow demo

Last month up to 15,000 turned out in Whitehall against the imprisonment of Tommy Robinson.

Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Christopher Yaxley-Lennon, admitted to broadcasting details of a trial under way at Leeds Crown Court on Facebook.

On Wednesday judges delayed their decision in an appeal by Robinson against his conviction and jailing for contempt of court.

Mr Livingstone's letter to the SDL said that the restrictions took regard to the fact "that on almost all occasions around Scotland, where there has been SDL activity, there has been the potential for serious disorder which on each occasion has required a significant police presence."

The Herald:

He referenced a protest in April, 2017 in Wishaw where "serious disorder was averted by police between SDL member and opposing groups".

He said at another protest in 2016 in Monkton, Ayrshire serious disorder and violence was only avoided by a significant police presence.

"The prospect of serious public order breaking out had those policing resources not been available was readily foreseeable as was the consequent serious disruption to the life of the community," he said.

"I am aware that individuals from various groups from Scotland and England, considered to be 'right wing' with views sympathetic to those of the SDL, have in the past attended SDL events.

The Herald:

"In particular, I refer to individuals affiliated to groups such as the English Defence League, the North East Infidels, Central Scotland Infidels, National Action and Scottish football risk supporters.

"I am also aware that it is the intention of individuals from such groups to attend on Saturday in order to participate in the SDL demonstration.

"I have had regard to the fact that the presence and/or activities of the above mentioned organisations elsewhere in the United Kingdom in the past has, from time to time, occasioned the deployment of significant policing resources to prevent and sometimes to deal with serious public disorder.

The Herald:

"I reasonably believe that the intended public assembly may result in serious public disorder or serious disruption to the life of the community and, to that end, give this direction...

"I am satisfied that these conditions are necessary to prevent such disorder and disruption and I am also satisfied that they are proportionate."

An SDL spokesman said: "This is shocking behaviour from the police, placing all these restrictions on the SDL demo but allowing the left wing counter demo unlimited numbers and unlimited time.

"They will never silence or stop the SDL, no surrender."