A campaign to persuade people in Scotland to back independence is due to be launched in Edinburgh.

The cross-party body Yes Scotland is beginning the drive to leave the United Kingdom before a referendum on the country's future.

Organisers hope to stage the "biggest community-based campaign in Scotland's history" in the run-up to the vote which could take place in October 2014.

Alex Salmond, the Scottish First Minister and Scottish National Party leader, will be one of the key figures at the launch. Former Labour MP Dennis Canavan, who later became an independent MSP, has been named as another of the supporters at the event.

The campaign aims to convince voters that "the people who care most about Scotland are the people that should be running Scotland" but has already faced accusations that it is an SNP sideshow, with two former SNP special advisers, a party lawyer and several prominent SNP supporters taking key roles.

Former SNP adviser Stephen Noon, a life-long independence activist who is now handling publicity for the campaign, said Mr Canavan was one of many non-SNP supporters lending their backing.

A host of celebrities and public figures have been lined up but their identities are secret until Friday's launch at Edinburgh's Cineworld Cinema.

Mr Noon said: "We have a 550-seat venue full to capacity and we could have filled it again with the level of interest we have received. We will have 100 journalists from all corners of the world, from China to the United States, from Spain to Germany, reflecting the interest generated not only in Scotland but internationally.

"We chose a cinema because it's a place where real people go, in contrast to a conference centre or other traditional venues, and we wanted to send a signal that this is about people not politicians. For us, this has to be the biggest community-based campaign in Scotland's history."

Dennis Canavan, speaking on BBC Radio Scotland, said he was a "convert" to the independence cause. He told the Good Morning Scotland programme: "The Scottish Parliament has proved to be far more radical and more progressive than Westminster and in an independent Scotland, the Scottish Parliament and the Scottish Government would have the political and the economic muscle to do much more on issues like the eradication of child poverty, greater recognition of the right to work and the creation of fairer society."