POLICE Scotland have questions to answer over their policing of anti-monarchist protests over the weekend, critics have said after fears were sparked the force was cracking down on freedom of speech.

Concerns have been raised since a woman was arrested and charged on Sunday with allegedly breaching the peace by carrying a sign which read: “F*** imperialism. Abolish the monarchy”. She has been released from custody and is due in court at a later date.

A police source said she had been arrested in relation to her behaviour and not for displaying the banner. 

Another man was arrested on Monday after he was filmed shouting abuse at Prince Andrew while the Queen’s funeral cortege passed along the Royal Mile.

The National: Protester who was arrested and charged with breach of the peace in Edinburgh while demonstrating against proclamation of King Charles Protester who was arrested and charged with breach of the peace in Edinburgh while demonstrating against proclamation of King Charles (Image: PA)

The force is facing accusations its recent actions could intimidate members of the public from expressing their views after cracking down on protesters taking aim at the monarchy in the wake of the Queen’s death.

'Fundamental to democracy' 

Alex Staniforth, a Greens councillor on the city’s Culture and Communities Committee, said he would write to the head of Police Scotland raising his concerns.

READ MORE: Andrew Marr says arresting monarchy protestors is 'outrageous'

He said: “Regardless of your position on the monarchy, this is concerning behaviour by the police.

“The right of people to peacefully express their views is fundamental to democracy and I will be writing to the chief constable with my concerns.”

Leith Walk councillor Amy McNeese, an SNP member of the committee, said she had heard and seen republican protesters at Mercat Cross on Sunday while she was there.

“My view was, people are expressing their opinion which, hopefully is not something we are going to be arrested for,” she said.

“You wouldn’t think writing a four-letter word on a sign would be grounds for arrest.

“There will be people who feel intimidated by that and feel that they can’t speak out when they have a strong opinion, which is very concerning.

“I think it’s also possible that people will be more vociferous if they feel like their freedoms are being impinged upon.

The National: The Queen's funeral cortege passes by St Giles' Cathedral, Edinburgh The Queen's funeral cortege passes by St Giles' Cathedral, Edinburgh (Image: PA)

“It was a surprise to me that anyone was arrested, certainly for anything that I saw or heard, it was just the thing that you have in democracy, where people don’t always agree.”

Marchers dispersed 

It comes after police on Saturday used draconian powers to shut down public gatherings to disperse Irish republicans who had gathered in Calton, Glasgow to commemorate international volunteers who had fought against fascism in the Spanish Civil War.

READ MORE: 'Inflammatory and wrong': BBC presenter laughs at 'cleared the Catholics out' comment

The force used Section 12 powers to break up a gathering planned by Cairde na hÉireann, citing what they said were concerns over the “potential impact of a planned counter-protest”.

Cairde na hÉireann said in a statement posted to social media that the counter-protest had gathered “around 50” people and said Police Scotland’s response was “an appalling abuse and amounts to nothing more than appeasement of fascists”.

John Mason, the SNP MSP for the area, told The National that two people had raised concerns with him about the police response to the march.

In a letter to the concerned constituents, he said: “I do agree with you that there should be freedom to march and protest and it should be very much the exception for a march to be cancelled.

“At the same time, the police do have a duty to keep public order and were within their rights to cancel the march if they considered there was going to be a serious disturbance.

“But I would agree that it should not be the norm that protesters can effectively veto and stop a march going ahead. 

“This should not be the norm as otherwise it would mean that any group could stop any march by threatening violence. Whether the Queen’s death was a factor in this, I do not know.”

One unlikely critic of police cracking down on anti-monarchy protesters was Daniel Hannan, the vice-chairman of the Conservative Party, who said such moves were “authoritarian” and “un-British”.  

Police Scotland did not respond to criticisms made of the force.