LEADERS of the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign were yesterday hailing a victory for their right to protest after the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (Pirc) upheld three out of six complaints against Police Scotland.

One of the upheld complaints was about a sergeant attending a Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign (SPSC) meeting and gathering information which was recorded by the force.

A second involved a member being visited at home late at night and advised by an officer not to attend an SPSC activity, and a third complaint was about members not being allowed into a court hearing while their political opponents were. All three incidents happened in Aberdeen.

Three other complaints were not upheld, but the Pirc has found that based on the three complaints that were upheld, Police Scotland should consider whether gathering information on the group was compatible with their human rights.

More worryingly for the national force, the Pirc said that officers investigating the complaints then misrepresented the force’s actions. The Pirc has now instructed Police Scotland to appoint independent officers from elsewhere in Scotland to carry out fresh investigations into two of those complaints.

Police Scotland has confirmed that professional standards division (PSD) officers from other parts of Scotland had been instructed to investigate the complaints.

SPSC complained that the sergeant’s visit to their meeting had been a “gross attempt to interfere with our right to protest”. Police Scotland said the officer had attended to help with advice.

The second upheld complaint concerned an inspector and sergeant visiting a campaigner at home at 9pm to tell him not to take part in a demonstration in Aberdeen the following day.

The third case was about police stopping campaigners from entering a court to attend a trial. They had been allowed to demonstrate peacefully outside the building, and supporters of an opposing group had been allowed into the court.

In the first two cases, the Pirc said Police Scotland risked breaching freedom of assembly articles of the European Convention on Human Rights, and on the third complaint they ordered that Police Scotland should explain why the activists were banned from court.

In the other three cases, PIRC said Police Scotland had properly handled the original complaints to “a reasonable standard.”

Sofiah MacLeod, chair of the SPSC, said police activities against the campaign had been escalating since 2014.

She said: “We already know that the Israeli Government is trying its best to influence governments to turn a blind eye to Israel’s brutal apartheid policies and occupation of Palestine and to criminalise Palestine solidarity actions.

“The Priti Patel scandal and the Al Jazeera exposure of the Israel lobby in the UK have revealed much of what is going on.”

MacLeod claimed the Pro-Israel lobby was trying to influence the authorities in Scotland, and added: “We welcome the PIRC conclusions and await a further response from Police Scotland – in the meantime, we call on all those who value free speech and the right to protest to take steps to ensure that institutions and public bodies are not used to protect the actions of a rogue state and its violations of human rights and international law.”

Chief Superintendent Alan Speirs, head of professional standards at Police Scotland, said: “Police Scotland is in the course of responding to the Pirc over this issue, and will do so within their timescale.”

“It would therefore be inappropriate for us to comment at this time. However, we can confirm that PSD officers from a different part of the country are undertaking the reconsideration direction.”