A SENIOR SNP politician has been accused of a “pathetic attempt at bullying people who are only doing their job” amid a row over independence demonstrators being banned from Stirling Castle.

The 500 Miles group, which has been walking 500 miles around Scotland in support of independence, said campaigners were asked to leave the castle car park over the weekend, with staff even calling the police.

Historic Environment Scotland later confirmed an employee had moved to break up the “unauthorised demonstration”, following “normal procedure”.

It came after the government quango was accused of acting unlawfully in denying the use of Holyrood Park in Edinburgh for “the biggest independence rally yet”.

Responding to a statement by HES on Twitter, SNP MSP James Dornan, convener of Holyrood's local government committee, wrote: “Can you confirm for me, what is the maximum number of tourists you would allow to congregate together before calling the police? Thanks.

“Taken in conjunction with your decision to ban stalls and a stage on Saturday this really does your reputation no good whatsoever.”

Alastair Cameron, founder of anti-independence group Scotland in Union, accused Mr Dornan of trying to bully the heritage body.

He said HES was “entirely consistent” and had refused permission for a pro-UK event in the run up to the 2014 referendum.

He wrote on Twitter: “Pathetic attempt at bullying people who are only doing their job.”

He added: “I've known since 2014, when @HistEnvScot denied organisers of 'Big No' permission to use Holyrood Park, that they don't allow political events.

“Over the last week, we've learned @HistEnvScot don't allow political non-events either.”

Mr Dornan said Mr Cameron "should look up the meaning of bullying". 

He added: "There was no ‘event’ when the member of staff called the police therefore it can’t be compared to a previous one. 

"The questions I asked are entirely valid and, whatever the reason, taken alongside the decision not to allow the ‘event’ in Holyrood Park it has left an uncomfortable taste with many people.

"I have no real interest in what a spokesperson from Scotland in Union has to say but I await with interest what HES say in response to my very reasonable questions."

HES has insisted it does not allow political events of any kind to take place on its properties.

But independence campaigner Martin Keating claimed the decision to ban a rally in Holyrood Park breached human rights.

Dave Llewellyn, one of the organisers of the 500 Miles event, said the Stirling Castle row was proof of a "concerted attack on the Yes movement".

He said campaigners had been "threatened with the police by Historic Environment Scotland at Stirling Castle after being asked to leave the property and refusing".

Responding to the claims, HES said: "A member of castle staff, understanding this to be an unauthorised demonstration, followed our normal procedure and engaged with the group to tell them that they would not be able to congregate on the esplanade.

"The group were also informed that we were anticipating a busy day at the castle and as such we work to ensure visitor flow and access is not disrupted.

“We can confirm that the group had made no prior approach to the site to seek permission for use of the castle esplanade. Our staff followed procedure that would be taken for any unauthorised demonstration or photo opp at our sites.”