A PROMINENT SNP MP has joined two former colleagues who defected to Alba in a bid to stop a controversial change to the way protests are handled at Holyrood.

Joanna Cherry QC has backed a move by MPs Kenny MacAskill and Neale Hanvey to annul the Westminster order which will soon make demonstrators liable to prosecution.

It follows an emergency motion at last weekend’s SNP conference expressing concern and calling for the order to be withdrawn.

The cross-party Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body (SPCB), which manages the Holyrood estate, decided in June to get the building and its grounds the same security status as Westminster, royal palaces and military sites such as Faslane submarine base.

It asked the Home Office to make Holyrood a “designated site” on national security grounds, and an order was laid in the Commons last week under serious crime law.

It means that from October 1, it will be an offence to be on the parliamentary estate “without lawful authority”, potentially punishable by a year in jail or a £5000 fine on conviction.

The SPCB has said most demos will go ahead as before, with police only removing particularly disruptive people in “a small number of the most exceptional circumstances”.

However the Scottish Greens and Alba want the change dropped, and Mr Hanvey and Mr MacAskill this week tabled a motion to annul the Westminster legislation.

The Alba MPs want a debate and parliamentary vote on the issue, and urged SNP MPs to join them, in light of the motion passed by conference delegates.

Ms Cherry, the SNP MP for Edinburgh South West, was one of the first politicians to criticise the change at Holyrood, calling it a threat to freedom of expression and a symptom of "creeping authoritarianism in public life".

She said today: “In line with the emergency motion passed by ⁦the SNP⁩ conference last weekend, I would be happy to support this excellent initiative to annul the statutory instrument purporting to restrict protests at Holyrood.”

Protesters from a variety of backgrounds held a demonstration outside Holyrood against the proposed change on Thursday, with another planned for October 1.

A Scottish Parliament spokesperson said: “The Parliament welcomes and facilitates thousands of protestors all year round as an essential part of the expression of democracy in Scotland. That key engagement will continue.

"The motion to annul the order is a procedural matter for Westminster.”