According to Scottish ministers, the G8 summit at Gleneagles in 2005 will place Scotland “the middle of the frame” for terrorist attacks.
Official files published today by the National Records of Scotland reveal that the high-profile gathering of eight world leaders was deemed by the Scottish Cabinet to be a significant public safety risk.
Climate change and Africa were addressed at the three-day event at the luxurious Perthshire hotel and were praised by then Labour First Minister Jack McConnell as a perfect way to showcase Scotland to the world.
But behind the scenes, in addition to tensions with the Treasury over rising security costs, concerns have been raised that the G8 summit would be a magnet for aggression.
But while demonstrations, including violent clashes with the police, erupted in nearby Auchterarder and Edinburgh, the G8 coincided with a deadly terrorist attack in London.
Three homemade explosives were exploded on the London transport network on the second day of the conference, on July 7, killing 52 people and injuring more than 700 – the deadliest terrorist attack on British soil since Lockerbie in 1988.
The publication of the National Records of Scotland includes previously undisclosed documents documenting the summit’s preparations, including a report by the Civil Contingencies Ministerial Group.
“a more likely target than anywhere in Scotland.”the British capital was a more likely target than anywhere in Scotland.
“The report stated, “There is a strong urgency in this regard. The threat of terrorism remains at historically high levels in the form of traditional chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) attacks.
“London is a more likely target than anywhere in Scotland, but the G8 summit will certainly put Scotland temporarily in the spotlight, and East Coast oil facilities remain an ongoing concern.”
Records also show that after the attack, U.K. Minister of Transport and Edinburgh MP Alistair Darling feared for the safety of the Glasgow Underground.
A Cabinet minute notes that Mr. Darling “suggested that the Executive should carry out a major exercise to test the resilience of Scotland’s transport system, particularly the Glasgow Underground.”
According to a follow-up article by Treasury Secretary Tom McCabe, the summit itself seemed to go smoothly amid the London bombings: “Given the amount of pessimism in the run-up, there was remarkably little disruption to the summit, while genuine protesters were able to make their points effectively.”
A total of 11,000 police officers from across the U.K. were deployed, with arrests, according to some figures, ranging from 350 to 500.
The London terrorist attack also prompted Secretary Malcolm Chisholm of the Communities to alert Scottish education leaders of the danger of school bullying by anti-Muslims.
Government documents show that to address their issues, he also arranged a number of meetings with the Muslim community.
Minutes from Aug. 17, 2005 from the Scottish Cabinet note that the discussions led him to believe that the attacks “had a significant impact on relations with the Muslim community.”
The community education directors were also alerted to the likelihood of anti-Muslim bullying in the schoolyard.
“The minutes indicate, “Mr. Chisholm said that he had written to education directors asking them to be alert to a potential rise in playground accidents in preparation for children returning to school after the summer holidays.
Mr. Chisholm told colleagues that he had also contacted Mohammed Sarwar, Glasgow Central Labour MP, and said that being “proactive” was necessary.
The minutes say, ‘Mr. It was necessary to sustain the momentum of constructive interaction with the Muslim community, Chisholm said, and to that end he worked closely with Mr. Mohammed Sarwar, MP for Glasgow Central, and arranged further meetings with a variety of Muslim organisations, including women’s and youth groups, across Scotland.
“Other ministers have also met with members of the Muslim community and visited mosques.”