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Scottish Indy Camp May Use 14th-Century Document In Attempt To Declare Independence

The independence campers will return to court on 24 March, the very date the Scottish government had planned to become independent, and they're hatching a plan.

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Jamie Ross / BuzzFeed

A group of people who vowed to camp outside the Scottish parliament until the country became independent may attempt to use a 14th-century document to dissolve the Scotland's union with the rest of the UK.

The campers, who pitched tents next to the Scottish parliament in November, are currently facing a legal challenge from the parliament's corporate body, who wish to evict them.

On Wednesday, a hearing took place in Edinburgh's court of session to agree the main case will be heard on 24 March – coincidentally the day Alex Salmond had earmarked for Scotland's independence day should Scots have voted Yes in the 2014 independence referendum.

Speaking after the session, some of the supporters of the camp told BuzzFeed News they hope to use the the Declaration of Arbroath at the next court hearing, which they say could result in the end of the union. They have previously said the case against them could contravene the 1707 Acts of Union as well.

The Declaration of Arbroath, signed by King Robert the Bruce and his magnates in 1320, states "as long as but a hundred of us remain alive, never will we on any conditions be brought under English rule". Supporters of the camp believe this passage may be key to their case.

Iain Tough, a supporter of the independence camp who runs The Last Jacobite Facebook page, said if 100 people had entered the court on Wednesday, the union could have been ended.

Former SNP councillor Pat Lee holds up the Declaration of Arbroath.
Jamie Ross / BuzzFeed

Former SNP councillor Pat Lee holds up the Declaration of Arbroath.

"If 100 people had been in that court today, if they'd let 100 people in, we could have done a whole lot more than argue legal points of law. They knew that, that's why they had people counting us in," said Tough.

He continued: "They'll certainly try and use that tactic on the 24th. Every person here needs to go out and find ten other Scots to come here on the 24th, that's what needs to happen. If they let 100 people into that court, you never know what could happen."

Neil McNeil, part of the Independence Camp's legal team, was more coy about how the Declaration of Arbroath could be used on 24 March, but confirmed it could form part of their plans for defence.

Told about Tough's comments, McNeil said: "Iain is not part of Indy Camp so he has his own thoughts about things. But I can say that, yes, police counted the people in and made sure that 100 people didn't get in. Take from that what you want."

Asked if this month's hearing could mark the end of the union using the Declaration of Arbroath, he said: "That depends. It's a whole area of international law which really seriously needs to be studied and understood.

"There are certain people who will be looking for the authority of the premise of the Declaration of Arbroath. Where it goes from there, I don't know – that's where the hundred people would come in. But I can't comment on that."

The session on 24 March will be a one-day legal debate and take place at 10am.

Jamie Ross is a Scotland reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Edinburgh.

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