Election 2021

The Scottish Parliament is in recess ahead of the election on 6 May.

Because of Covid-19, there are some changes to how the Parliament prepares for the election.

Find out more in our Election 2021 pages

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About the Scottish Parliament

Media access: terms and conditions

Read the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body's terms and conditions for media access at Holyrood.

Part 1: Media access

The introduction of physical distancing has reduced the amount of space available for broadcast interviews and media ‘huddles’. However, measures have been put in place to ensure that reporting can still be facilitated at Holyrood.

We recognise that these measures may be challenging, and we will work with you to support you in reporting from the Scottish Parliament and adapting these where needed. However, these measures are for the safety of all building users and will form part of our conditions of access as the Parliament complies with public health regulations.

Physical distancing should be followed at all times in the building.  This means there will be very limited opportunities for media “huddles” to take place in any area of the building. Space has been set aside for a small number of media (2-3) to gather together in a distanced way in two areas of the building.  They are:

  • Opposite the entrance to the Members' Block
  • In the Members' Lobby.

We would ask that where these spaces are being used, media agree among themselves who will be present.  Additional measures will be put in place to allow for print media to hear from committee witnesses where there is a demand for this.  Such sessions will be facilitated by the Media Relations Office and will take place in a designated room with appropriate distancing in place. 


Areas with no media access:

  • The floor of the Debating Chamber (unless agreed with Media Relations Office (MRO))
  • The floors of committee rooms (unless agreed with MRO)
  • The Donald Dewar Room (unless agreed with MRO)
  • MSP lounge at rear of Media Conference Room
  • SPICe
  • Education Service
  • Crèche (unless as a parent using the facility in accordance with passholder user rights for Holyrood-based personnel which includes media)

Areas where access is by invitation only:

  • MSP Offices (see below for terms of access)
  • The Presiding Officers’ and Clerk’s offices in Queensberry House
  • The Ministerial offices in Towers 3 and 4
  • All staff accommodation

Areas of free access

Unless specified, media can assume free access to all areas including:

  • All public areas and entrances
  • Media Tower
  • Black and White Lobby
  • Garden Lobby
  • Shop
  • Garden Lobby Restaurant
  • Garden Lobby coffee area
  • External landscaped areas (but not Members’ Garden – see Broadcast Access)
  • Basement for bicycle storage along with showers and lockers, in accordance with booking procedures

Areas with specific access arrangements

  • MSP Offices:  Media passholders have free access to the corridors of the MSP Building. Media may only enter the inner or outer office space of a Member with the permission of the Member.
  • First Floor Restaurant and Bar. Access to the first floor restaurant and bar is open to all passholders. Bookings for the restaurant will be restricted to Members only on sitting days until 10.30 am on the day in question. After 10.30am, any remaining tables will be available for booking by any passholder.
  • Media Relations Office and Broadcasting Office: All parliamentary staff offices with the exception of the Media Relations Office (MRO) and Broadcasting Office will be access by invitation only. These two offices will operate a free access policy for media.
  • Chamber Conference Room:  Media passholders have access to this room for media conferences. The established practice of using this room (and other meeting rooms when it is not available) for the Scottish Government’s daily media briefing continues to be facilitated at Holyrood.

Part 2: Broadcast access

With the introduction of physical distancing and regulations around the wearing of face coverings, this has reduced the amount of space which is available for broadcast interviews and media ‘huddles’. However, measures have been put in place to ensure that reporting can still be facilitated at Holyrood.

We recognise that these measures may be challenging, and we will work with you to support you in reporting from the Scottish Parliament and adapting these where needed. However, these measures are for the safety of all building users and will form part of our conditions of access as the Parliament complies with public health regulations.

Garden Lobby

There are three areas where interviews can take place. Each of these areas have been measured and marked to allow physical distancing which means that masks do not need to be worn.  The identified areas are:

  • At Garden Lobby inject point
  • At Garden entrance x 2

These should be used on a first come first served basis. If you wish to undertake interviews and these spaces are full, please contact the Media Relations Office. 

Please do not set up elsewhere in the Garden Lobby for interviews.  This will have an impact on the physical distancing measures in place and restrict the safe movement of other building users.

The other areas of the building remain available for static cameras and details of these are below.

Members' Lobby

There will be a marked out space for media in the Members Lobby. This space should allow for one or a maximum of two broadcast static cameras plus a small number of print media.  If shots are needed from this space, Broadcasters are asked to pool this footage where possible to maximise the use of the space. This space should not be used for interviews.

Broadcasters should not set up elsewhere in the Members Lobby and there should be no following Members as they move through the Members Lobby.

Committee rooms

There will be space for one broadcast static camera outside committee rooms. If broadcasters wish to film outside a committee room, this should be agreed in advance with the Media Relations Office. Broadcasters are asked to pool this footage.  

This space should not be used for interviews.

Broadcasters should not set up elsewhere outside committee rooms.  This will have an impact on the physical distancing measures in place and restrict the safe movement of other building users.

Top of Glass Corridor

There will be space for one broadcast static camera OR one stills photographer. If there are competing requests for this space, access will be considered on a first come first served basis. Broadcasters are asked to pool this footage.

Other areas of the building

Filming outside the building or in the Members’ Garden is permitted, but physical distancing should be followed at all times. 

Any requests to film elsewhere in the building should be made in advance to the Media Relations Office ([email protected]).

Part 3: Photographer access

The introduction of physical distancing has reduced the amount of space which is available for broadcast interviews and media ‘huddles’. However, measures have been put in place to ensure that reporting can still be facilitated at Holyrood. 

We recognise that these measures may be challenging, and we will work with you to support you in reporting from the Scottish Parliament and adapting these where needed. However, these measures are for the safety of all building users and will form part of our conditions of access as the Parliament complies with public health regulations.

Image pooling arrangements will remain in place. However, access will be increased to two photographers in the Holyrood campus.

Requests for access to parliamentary business should be agreed in advance with:

Two photographers will be able to access the Chamber standing at either end of the Gallery. Physical distancing should be followed when moving position in the Chamber.  Access to committees will be limited to one photographer plus the parliament's in-house photographer.  Images will be issued on a pooled basis. 

Accreditation

Photographers who work for mainstream media organisations, whose work requires access to the Parliament, may apply for accreditation. Freelance photographers, like freelance journalists, are required to demonstrate that their work is likely to be used by mainstream media organisations. As such, the countersignature of a Pictures Editor or similar will be required by freelance photographers when applying for accreditation.

Physical access to Holyrood

Accredited photographers will have the same physical access rights to Holyrood as other media passholders.

Media photography in the Chamber

Photographers are permitted to cover proceedings in the Chamber from the gallery. All requests to cover proceedings must first be routed through MRO who will ensure that a pool arrangement is agreed if more than one photographer requires access.  The photographer is required to ensure that he or she does not disturb visitors or passholders in close proximity to these areas.

Media photography in committees

All requests to cover proceedings must first be routed through MRO who will seek the approval of the Committee convener. Pool arrangements will be agreed by MRO if more than one photographer requires access. Given the relatively confined spaces of committee rooms, access should not be intrusive to proceedings or those giving evidence. MRO will take this into account when considering access requests.

Media photography in public areas at Holyrood

All access requests to take pictures elsewhere in the parliamentary estate will be judged on their merits and will take into account the privacy of building users. Requests for press photography inside must first be routed through MRO.

Photography in Members’ offices and news conferences

Where a Member invites photographers to attend a news conference in a privately booked room or to take photographs in their office, access and the signing in of unaccredited photographers will be the responsibility of the Member. The Member should ensure that a member of their staff is identified as the point of contact to facilitate access.

Part 4: Media protocols

In this section, media protocols set out the terms on which full media accreditation will be given to bona fide members of the media. It takes account of the legal Health and Safety responsibility the SPCB has in relation to all media based in the new Parliament building. It also reiterates the journalists’ code of conduct which all media must agree to adhere to on applying for accreditation. Media must also follow the Parliament's Security Policy practices.

Health and safety

With the Parliament owning its premises, the SPCB assumes the role of both landlord and ‘controlling employer.’ The role of controlling employer is set out in Regulation 11 of the Approved Code of Practice on the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999. This role requires the SPCB to establish site-wide arrangements and to pass information to other employers represented, advising them of these arrangements and the actions they will be expected to take to comply with the arrangements.

A corresponding duty is placed upon the media organisations based at Holyrood, as employers, in terms of the same regulations, to co-operate with the SPCB and co-ordinate efforts in relation to Health and Safety.

As such, all accredited media based at Holyrood are required to undertake fire-safety training along with any other appropriate training the SPCB deems necessary in order to comply with the regulations or to promote a safe working environment.

The Parliament’s media-accreditation process and annual pass-renewal process require media personnel to confirm that they acknowledge this legal requirement and that they will co-operate with the SPCB’s Health and Safety practices.

Accreditation

Media accreditation for Holyrood continues to take account of the 1999 recommendations of the Expert Panel on Media Issues to the Consultative Steering Group. This includes cases of alleged breaches of the journalists’ code of conduct, and a system of right of appeal. Ultimately, the Scottish Parliament reserves the right to withdraw parliamentary passes.

The Parliament will seek to grant all reasonable, genuine applications for accreditation. Accreditation will give all bona fide journalists (and media personnel) the same rights of access. The Parliament aims to promote wide accreditation which welcomes local and national media. Arrangements for visiting international media, particularly in relation to major events such as the opening of Holyrood, will continue to be facilitated.

Accreditation applications from non-mainstream news organisations, including individuals working for online websites, will also be considered if the applicant can demonstrate their work meets the Parliament’s accreditation requirements. Such website should provide sufficiently balanced, regular coverage of the work of Parliament with the right to reply within reporting. Sites should not be party political or represent single-issue campaigns.

Requests for accreditation should be made to the Scottish Parliament’s Media Relations Office. All journalists and media personnel are required to operate by the Code of Conduct.

Security policy

You can assist by:

  1. displaying your security pass at all times
  2. challenging anyone not displaying a pass or bringing it to the attention of security or police staff
  3. arranging visits, events and meetings in line with the current security and events planning guidance
  4. accompanying visitors i.e. non passholders at all times
  5. employing a clear desk policy by locking away documents, valuables, portable equipment and keys
  6. not bringing unscreened mail or parcels into the Parliament
  7. reporting a theft immediately if discovered
  8. reporting anything suspicious to the security control room
  9. ensuring that the electronically controlled doors are closed and engaged before moving on
  10. ensuring that care is taken with laptops, blackberries, mobile phones and other equipment and that sensitive papers are kept in a safe lockable place.