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6,000 march in support of RAF bases

More than 6,000 people joined a rally and march as part of a campaign to stop two RAF bases being closed.

A high-profile campaign was launched to save RAF Lossiemouth in Moray amid fears that its fleet of fast-jet Tornados could be moved to England following the publication of the UK Government's Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) last month.

The region has already been struck a blow with the cancellation of the new generation of Nimrods, which is likely to threaten nearby RAF Kinloss.

Hollywood star Ewan McGregor has given his support to the campaign and said closing both bases would be "devastating" to the close-knit Moray community with "effects that would be far-reaching".

The actor's brother Colin McGregor, a former Tornado pilot who served at RAF Lossiemouth, joined thousands of supporters including ex-servicemen and their families on a march through the streets of Lossiemouth to a rally at Grant Park, home of the local football club.

Marchers held placards with the words "Save RAF Lossie" and "Fighting For Moray".

A worker at one of the bases in Moray, who wished not to be named and joined the march, said: "They need to keep it open. It needs to stay open otherwise Lossiemouth and Moray will be a ghost town. It will kill the Moray area. It's what everybody is feeling, whether they work in the bases or live in Moray."

Colin McGregor, who introduced speakers at the rally, said: "I was based here at RAF Lossiemouth for 11 years and I know the strategic and operational benefits that keeping RAF Lossiemouth open will bring. But I also live here - Moray is my home and I know how devastating the loss of both Kinloss and Lossie would be to our communities. We stand here today united as a community but this issue is one of national importance."

Speakers at the rally included Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond, Scottish Labour leader Iain Gray and Scottish Conservative leader Annabel Goldie. Tavish Scott, leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, Moray Council convener councillor George McIntyre and Richard Lochhead, SNP MSP for Moray, also addressed the crowd.

Angus Robertson, SNP MP for Moray and defence spokesman for the SNP, said: "The turnout has exceeded all expectations and sends a clear message from Scotland to Downing Street that Lossiemouth must not close."

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