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HOLY TERROR; Vatican fears over citizen's arrest threat to Pope on Scottish visit.

Byline: | Kay Smith

Senior prosecutors were so concerned that the Pope would be arrested on his last visit to Scotland they held emergency security meetings.

Former Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland has revealed that Vatican security chiefs were worried about the pontiff being the target of a citizen's arrest.

They were concerned the Pope would be at the centre of a stunt by humanist, atheist and gay rights activists known as Protest the Pope.

Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell attempted to place Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe under a citizen's arrest in 1999.

The incident spooked the security team of Pope Benedict XVI, who called Mulholland for advice on the legality of an arrest hours before he was due to arrive in Edinburgh in September 2010.

The ex-boss of the Crown Office says his life flashed before him when put on the spot for vital legal advice that may have affected the historic visit.

Mulholland was then Solicitor General for Scotland and he relived the moment during a talk to the Scottish Association of the Study of Offending held in Edinburgh Sheriff Court last week.

The group are made up of legal professionals and academics who study the causes of crime and how to prevent it.

Mulholland said: "I remembered that the Pope was the head of the Vatican State and I advised that you can't arrest a head of state."

The Pope had been invited to visit the UK by then PM Gordon Brown in 2009.

Gary McLelland, of the Scottish Humanist Society, said: "Our protest was intended to make the point that the Pope was also the chief executive of a state and had responsibilities."

CAPTION(S):

POPULAR Crowds greet Pope in Edinburgh. Above, Mulholland

BLESSING Pope Benedict XVI at a Mass in Bellahouston Park, Glasgow, in 2010 Picture Andrew Yates/AFP/Getty

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Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Oct 9, 2016
Words:303
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