CLIMATE protesters who repeatedly disrupted the Scottish Parliament will be banned for six months, Holyrood authorities have said.

In an email to MSPs, Presiding Officer Alison Johnstone – the Holyrood equivalent of the Speaker – said This is Rigged demonstrators who interrupted First Minister’s Questions five times on Thursday would be banned for half a year.

She wrote: “Under my authority, all those who disrupted business today will be issued with a ban from the chamber public galleries for six months.

“The SPCB [Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body] was also clear that we must be in the strongest position possible to prevent further disruptions to business.”

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Johnstone, who sat as a Scottish Greens MSP before leaving the party to become officially neutral as Presiding Officer, said the SPCB would tighten security to “identify” protesters before they got the chance to interrupt proceedings.

She stressed the importance of the “openness” of the Scottish Parliament but warned the work of MSPs could not be “jeopardised by the actions of a small number of people”.

Johnstone wrote: “We will introduce, at the earliest opportunity, more stringent measures to identify those who disrupt our proceedings. 

“We will also amend our visitor access policy to explicitly state that anyone who wilfully disrupts business will be excluded from our public galleries.

“This is in addition to the measures we already agreed on mobile devices being stored before accessing the chamber. 

“Excluding individuals is not a step we take lightly - indeed this is the first time such action has been necessary in this way. Over the last 25 years this Parliament has prided itself on its openness to the public and that is an ethos that we want to retain.

“However, the individuals who disrupted the Parliament today did not attend to observe parliamentary democracy, but to disrupt.

“The Parliament must consider the impact on the welfare of others in the gallery where such action may result in alarm and distress. In such circumstances we must act.

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“Finally, can I use this opportunity to apologise to any of your constituents who may have travelled from across Scotland to be with us today. It is deeply regrettable that the actions of a small number of people prevented them from being part of today’s historic session.”

The disruption came on Humza Yousaf’s first grilling from MSPs as leader of the Scottish Government and follows a pattern of protests which have increased in recent months.