The year is 1953. The mood in Scotland is changing. Nationalist calls for independence are being reinforced by acts of daring, plots to blow up ERII pillar-boxes. All topped by the most ambitious rebellion of all.
Friday, August 06, 2010
But was it really treason? Or was it, as the accused themselves claimed in their defence, an elaborate hoax to uncover the use by Scottish police of agent provocateurs to inflame the hot-blooded nationalists into dangerous and reckless acts of violence against the status quo.
For Liberty Alone tells the true story of four young nationalists accused of treason, who endured a roller coaster 12 months from arrest, through trial to imprisonment and their eventual and ironic release by Royal Pardon.
The trial at Edinburgh High Court in front of Lord Clyde lasted seven days and saw Scotland’s leading lights in the legal world battle it out to the stunning conclusion.
A fascinated jury of eight men and seven women believed an impassioned defence team and the men were not guilty of treason. But the prosecution scored victory too, and the men were ultimately sentenced to 12 months in HMP Saughton in Edinburgh.
Scotland and her faithful nationalist supporters refused to take the verdict lying down. Protests, led by Edinburgh University activist Douglas Henderson and backed by such vociferous characters as Sir Compton Mackenzie and Wendy Wood, saw the nation put pressure on Parliament.
More acts against the state followed and increased pressure on the Government from MPs to release the young men from prison. Ironically, a Royal Pardon from the very Queen against whom the men had protested, secured their early release.
For Liberty Alone – the inscription on the medals uniquely struck for the four men by the nationalist movement – is an intriguing tale of passion and politics, truth and lies, at the very heart of Scotland’s history.