{"JP":[ {"NewsSection":{"name":"scotland","detaillevel":"full", "Articles": {"count":25,"detaillevel":"full","articlesList":[ {"article": { "url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/oil-workers-still-don-t-trust-revamped-helicopter-1-4593237","id":"1.4593237","articleHeadline": "Oil workers still don’t trust revamped helicopter","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1508625919000 ,"articleLead": "

MSPs will this week warn that offshore workers still have to be convinced of the safety of the Super Puma helicopter following a crash that claimed the lives of 13 people.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4593236.1508618769!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Manufacturer Airbus has made changes to the Super Puma since the accident that killed 13 last year"} ,"articleBody": "

A Holyrood debate will highlight the fears of workers claiming that many would refuse to step aboard the aircraft, even though it has now been cleared to fly by the UK civil aviation authorities.

The helicopters were regarded as the workhorse of the oil industry until they were grounded following the crash in Norway in April last year. Among the 13 killed was Iain Stuart, an oil worker from Laurencekirk, Aberdeenshire.

Since then the aircraft has undergone 2,000 hours of testing and 370 experts have contributed to safety improvements.

With the aircraft expected to come back to work shortly, a motion tabled by Lewis MacDonald, pictured, a Labour MSP for north-east Scotland, notes a survey of offshore workers carried out by the Super Puma manufacturer Airbus.

The survey found that 62 per cent of respondents said they would be unlikely to fly in the helicopter if given the choice and that 4 per cent were unaware of work done to improve the safety since the crash in 2016.

Unite the Union has launched a petition opposing the reintroduction of the helicopters which has been signed by thousands of offshore workers in the north-east.

Last night MacDonald said: “There are workers who would simply not get on board a Super Puma. Airbus have clearly done a lot of work on safety and have made some of that public. I think the workforce need more reassurance about what that actually means. What I will call for is full transparency and full engagement with the workforce both by Airbus and the operators and the customers, the oil companies.”

An Airbus spokesman said: “Airbus Helicopters welcomes any open and informed discussion on the safety of offshore helicopters and this is clearly a topic of great importance to MSPs. While global and national independent authorities have lifted all H225 flight restrictions based on new safety measures, Airbus Helicopters understands the importance of restoring confidence in the aircraft ahead of any return to service. We are now in the process of informing the workforce and wider community of the updates.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Tom Peterkin"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4593236.1508618769!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4593236.1508618769!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Manufacturer Airbus has made changes to the Super Puma since the accident that killed 13 last year","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Manufacturer Airbus has made changes to the Super Puma since the accident that killed 13 last year","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4593236.1508618769!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/dani-garavelli-smack-ban-harsh-if-it-monsters-good-parents-1-4593138","id":"1.4593138","articleHeadline": "Dani Garavelli: Smack ban harsh if it monsters good parents","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1508625711000 ,"articleLead": "

For days I’ve been telling myself: “I will not write about smacking,” but sometimes a subject dominates the agenda to such a degree it’s impossible to avoid, and anyway you realise you have something you want to articulate, however hard it might be to do so. My reluctance has been two-fold. Firstly, it touches on parts of my life I would rather not revisit; and secondly it has become another of those polarised subjects on which it is almost impossible to express an opinion without incurring the wrath of one side or the other.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4593137.1508609508!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Handing over offenders to the Criminal Justice System may not always be the best outcome for their children. Picture: Getty/iStockphoto"} ,"articleBody": "

So, I’m going to start by clarifying my position: I am glad the Scottish Government has decided to back John Finnie’s Equal Protection from Assault Bill; it was the right and proper thing to do.

Hitting children is ineffective and wrong and the defence of “justifiable assault”, which it will remove, is grotesque. I also understand that the point of the bill is not to criminalise hard-pressed mums and dads, but to send out a message to society about what constitutes good parenting.

Smacking is already illegal in around 50 countries and violates the terms of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, so it is incumbent on us to take action. And we know legislation can be used to effect a cultural shift because that’s what happened with the smoking ban.

The pro-smacking campaign being waged by Be Reasonable, an alliance of right-wing religious groups such as the Christian Institute and libertarians such as Spiked, is once again stoking fears of state intrusion. But we don’t own our children and, having spoken to Finnie and others, I know the focus is on making sure those who find it difficult to control them are taught better strategies. Children’s charities – including Children 1st and Barnardo’s – have also spoken of the importance of helping to heal fractured families.

Unfortunately, though, not all of the potential fall-out from the bill can be controlled by politicians; the message that eventually embeds itself in the public consciousness may be less empathetic and more accusatory than at first intended.

Already this week, I have noticed a degree of sanctimony from some of those who support the change to the legislation. On radio phone-ins and on Twitter, people have spoken in smug and condescending tones about anyone who has ever so much as raised a finger to their offspring.

Comments I have encountered include: “I managed to bring up my child without resorting to violence”; “If you can’t control your wean without hitting them you are failing”; and “Parents who physically chastise their children are just too bone idle to think of a more positive alternative.”

Yet I will wager those people without sympathy have never been stuck in the house for days on end with three or more fractious children under seven; they’ve never tried to breastfeed a screaming newborn while their toddlers tip out the contents of the fridge on the kitchen floor.

I will wager they have never caressed and cajoled and tried every strategy from distraction to star charts to the naughty step to no avail; they have never been isolated or depressed or been pushed beyond their limits by manipulative teenagers; they have never been so poor, they worried they would have no food come Friday.

Though I do not have the excuse of deprivation, I have, at particular low points, when all my resources have been used up, smacked all three of my children (though not in the past five years). I have never smacked them hard – a slap on the back of the hand, mostly – but still, enough for it to be wrong; enough for me to be consumed by remorse.

I have, of course, spent much more of my time doing loving things, like cuddling them, reading to them, taking them to the park and sitting up all night with them when they were ill. But parenting doesn’t come with a set of scales so you can offset a bad deed with a good one. If I could edit the story of my life, I would; unfortunately I am stuck with the less-than-perfect one I filed some time ago.

The thing is, I reckon most parents who smack their children now and again are like me. They are not people who endorse physical chastisement as an acceptable or effective form of discipline. They are people who have lashed out under pressure and are drowning in shame.

My fear is that in overstating the potential impact of their behaviour, we risk characterising largely loving households as dysfunctional. Or that by further stigmatising those who are struggling as “feckless” or “failures”, we will make it harder for them to get in touch with their health visitor or GP.

Despite reassurances, I am also concerned more parents will find their way into the Criminal Justice System. Even as the law stands, some of those who smack are the subject of reports to the procurator fiscal. Though most are dealt with through diversion schemes rather than the courts, I wonder how contact with the police and CJS social workers can do anything other than compound their existing problems. A better alternative would be to identify struggling families at an earlier stage and step in long before they reach the smacking stage.

So what am I saying? Not that Finnie’s bill is in any way misguided, just that it would be good if those involved were careful about the rhetoric they use to promote it.

Changing the culture on smacking is an admirable objective, but if, in order to do so, we portray it as a great social evil – the kind of thing only very “bad” parents would do – we risk driving it underground.

Casting those who offend as pariahs also makes it easier to ignore those social factors – deprivation, isolation, long working hours – which make parenting such a challenge. We should be empowering mums and dads by increasing their confidence not reinforcing their sense of inadequacy.

To this end, I hope Finnie’s bill will be accompanied by a public awareness campaign that not only explains that smacking is unacceptable, but actively encourages parents to seek out support services. Moreover, with budget cuts having impacted heavily on local authorities and the third sector, I hope sufficient funding is put in place to ensure those support services continue to exist.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Dani Garavelli"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4593137.1508609508!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4593137.1508609508!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Handing over offenders to the Criminal Justice System may not always be the best outcome for their children. Picture: Getty/iStockphoto","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Handing over offenders to the Criminal Justice System may not always be the best outcome for their children. Picture: Getty/iStockphoto","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4593137.1508609508!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/fears-for-safety-of-woman-who-left-without-warning-1-4593233","id":"1.4593233","articleHeadline": "Fears for safety of woman who left without warning","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1508625566000 ,"articleLead": "

Police are “extremely concerned” about a missing grandmother believed to have travelled to London a week ago.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4593232.1508618455!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Karen Brown, 47, who left her family in Clydebank with no warning"} ,"articleBody": "

Karen Brown, 47, left her home in Clydebank as her family slept in the early hours of last Saturday.

She was last seen by her husband Jock and daughter Chloe on Friday night when she returned from work at Asda in the West Dunbartonshire town.

She went to bed after a brief conversation but when Mr Brown woke on Saturday she was gone. He thought she had started work early but when he went to pick her up at 8pm he was told she had not turned up or phoned in.

She left her handbag, purse and phone. She had never gone missing before.

CCTV showed her boarding a bus from Glasgow to London at 8.20am last Saturday. There was a possible sighting of her in Hamleys toy store in London on Tuesday.

Inspector David Quinn said Police Scotland were working with officers in London and in Hampshire, where her husband lived while in the Navy, to help trace her.

“Police, along with her family and friends, are extremely concerned for her wellbeing,” said Quinn.

“An extensive investigation is ongoing. The response from the public has been fantastic and I would continue to ask people to spread the word and help us bring Karen home.

“I appeal to anyone who may have seen Karen, or who has information on her whereabouts, to come forward.

“I would also appeal to Karen directly to please make contact with someone to let them know she is OK. Her family and friends are desperately worried.”

Last week, her husband was joined by their daughters Jemma and Chloe and granddaughter Millie to appeal for information. He said Mrs Brown was a ‘’bit of a worrier’’ but could not explain her disappearance.

She is white, 5ft 6in, medium build, with collar-length brown hair and brown eyes.

On the bus CCTV she was wearing a pink fleece, light blue jeans and white trainers.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Paul Ward"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4593232.1508618455!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4593232.1508618455!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Karen Brown, 47, who left her family in Clydebank with no warning","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Karen Brown, 47, who left her family in Clydebank with no warning","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4593232.1508618455!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/scottish-labour-risks-being-unite-branch-1-4593229","id":"1.4593229","articleHeadline": "Scottish Labour ‘risks being Unite branch’","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1508624598000 ,"articleLead": "

The scale of Unite’s bid to influence the outcome of the Labour leadership contest is emerging with evidence the party is being swamped by members signing up to vote.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4593228.1508617475!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Former shadow Scottish Secretary Ian Murray has expressed concern about union involvement in the leadership campaign. Picture: Steven Scott Taylor"} ,"articleBody": "

Scotland on Sunday understands that one Constituency Labour Party (CLP) with an existing membership of 225 has received an influx of 214 affiliated supporters – of whom 172 are members of Len McCluskey’s union.

Unite has thrown its support behind Richard Leonard, the left wing former GMB organiser who has become the favourite in the contest with Anas Sarwar – the Glasgow MSP is regarded as the more moderate candidate.

The leadership election has proved an acrimonious contest with the role played by Unite becoming one of several controversies to dog the process of replacing Kezia Dugdale as Scottish Labour leader.

Last night a Labour source claimed the Scottish party was in danger of becoming McCluskey’s “branch office”, assuming Scotland’s 72 other CLPs were experiencing a similar surge in Unite affiliated supporters.

“If this is replicated across the country, Scottish Labour risks becoming a branch office – not of UK Labour but of Len McCluskey,” the source said.

Bitterness has resulted from the claims and counter-claims made by supporters of rival candidates over the strategies being used by both camps to sign up new members and supporters to vote in the contest. Under Labour Party rules, party members, affiliated union members and registered supporters are able to take part in the election as long as they signed up prior to 9 October.

The Sarwar camp came under fire when Labour’s Glasgow Southside branch secretary John Cork quit his post after flagging up alleged irregularities, with many applicants using one e-mail address.

Leonard supporters expressed concern at the number of sign-ups with “Asian sounding” names – a remark which led to accusations of racism.

Concerns about the role played by Unite in backing Leonard’s campaign have been raised by former shadow Scottish Secretary Ian Murray. Murray complained that Unite members were being encouraged to sign up to vote via a mass text message. Members of Sarwar’s camp believe using text messages circumvents Labour rules which requires those wanting to vote to demonstrate they are party supporters.

Pat Rafferty the leader of Unite Scotland said: “Unite has not broken any rules whatsoever about voting in the Scottish Labour Party leadership contest. To allege that we have done is totally false. We think it is good for the democracy of the Labour Party that the unions who are affiliated to Labour take part in the leadership election. That is all Unite has done – advised members who are eligible to vote how they can do that.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Tom Peterkin"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4593228.1508617475!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4593228.1508617475!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Former shadow Scottish Secretary Ian Murray has expressed concern about union involvement in the leadership campaign. Picture: Steven Scott Taylor","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Former shadow Scottish Secretary Ian Murray has expressed concern about union involvement in the leadership campaign. Picture: Steven Scott Taylor","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4593228.1508617475!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/lifestyle/campaign-bid-to-capitalise-on-country-s-innovative-past-1-4593151","id":"1.4593151","articleHeadline": "Campaign bid to capitalise on country’s innovative past","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1508624179000 ,"articleLead": "

A global campaign promoting Scotland as the home of pioneering invention and innovation is to be launched in a bid to attract leading thinkers and ground-breaking companies to the country to share plans and projects with “the potential to change the world”.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4593149.1508609829!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Scottish electrical engineer and television pioneer John Logie Baird looks at a telechrome in 1944. Picture: Keystone/Getty"} ,"articleBody": "

Scotland will be sold as the place “Where Ideas Become Legend” during the two-year campaign which will recall the impact of some of the nation’s most famous creations while showcasing the latest ongoing cutting-edge research and development.

It is hoped that highlighting Scotland’s “stellar academic credentials, pioneering spirit and history of innovation”, will persuade some of the world’s biggest companies to showcase their latest products in Scotland.

Dolly the Sheep, the world’s first cloned mammal, and Valkyrie, the humanoid robot, will have starring roles in the campaign, alongside TV and phone pioneers John Logie Baird and Alexander Graham Bell, and the Forth Bridge.

The success of gaming sensations such as Grand Theft Auto and Minecraft, fantasy sports site FanDuel and travel search website Skyscanner will also be showcased.

The digital campaign, which has been developed by the national tourism agency VisitScotland, will also showcase the latest cutting-edge research under way in Scotland in the fields of life sciences, medicine, engineering, robotics, marine science, space, energy, education and the creative industries.

The campaign, which will be launched on 6 November, is expected to be backed by industry leaders, software developers, musicians, filmmakers, architects, fashion designers and gaming developers.

Rory Archibald, business development manager at VisitScotland, said: “The campaign has been in development since August of last year and we were tasked by one of our convention bureaux to come up with a strapline to sell Scotland as a business and events destination.

“We sat down and tried to come up with something a bit different that would get people thinking and a bit more inquisitive. When we came up with the strapline we fell in love with it a bit and felt we needed to use it for a bit more than that.

“Pioneering innovation is in Scotland’s soul. We have a legacy of invention, research and knowledge that continues to this day and is being secured for the future. Scotland is a place where ideas come to life. We’ve gone from that strapline to a fully-fledged two-year campaign. There are growing trends in the industry for destinations to talk about the innovations and knowledge assets that they have as a way to attract events. You need to show your credentials, that you are one of the world-leaders in R&D and innovation.”

Dr Alastair McInroy, senior programme manager for industry umbrella body Technology Scotland, said: “Events are instrumental to the development of new ideas – they provide opportunity for collaboration and discussion, which in turn leads to new ideas and ways of working.

“They are crucial for Scotland remaining at the forefront of innovation.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Brian Ferguson"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4593149.1508609829!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4593149.1508609829!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Scottish electrical engineer and television pioneer John Logie Baird looks at a telechrome in 1944. Picture: Keystone/Getty","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Scottish electrical engineer and television pioneer John Logie Baird looks at a telechrome in 1944. Picture: Keystone/Getty","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4593149.1508609829!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4593150.1508609836!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4593150.1508609836!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Valkyrie, a humanoid robot partly developed in Edinburgh. Picture: AFP/Getty","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Valkyrie, a humanoid robot partly developed in Edinburgh. Picture: AFP/Getty","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4593150.1508609836!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/easyjet-flies-into-scots-banknote-storm-1-4593217","id":"1.4593217","articleHeadline": "easyJet flies into Scots banknote storm","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1508623615000 ,"articleLead": "

Easyjet is training cabin crew to recognise Scottish banknotes after a passenger’s attempt to make an onboard purchase with Scottish money was turned down.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4593216.1508616481!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The airline said that staff had been in error. Photograph: Getty Images"} ,"articleBody": "

The airline has apologised after Scottish notes were rejected on a flight from Venice to Amsterdam even though it was advertised as accepting sterling.

Bruce Anderson, a self-employed contractor from Stirling, was dismayed when cabin crew failed to recognise his Scottish notes when he tried to buy some food for his two children.

When he complained in writing to the airline, easyJet’s response seemed to confirm that Scottish notes were unacceptable.

The agent who responded to Anderson’s complaint wrote: “I am sorry you feel our cabin crew were not very friendly when making a purchase on board.

“I would like to assure you that we take complaints about unhelpful staff very seriously, because our customers are at the centre of what we do

“I do apologise that you could not make the payment in your preferred currency, as easyJet doesn’t accept Scottish pound.”

When contacted by Scotland on Sunday, however, easyJet said the Scottish banknotes had been rejected “in error” and the employee who responded to Anderson’s complaint had also “misunderstood” the airline’s currency policy.

Anderson said: “I found it depressing that they wouldn’t take Scottish banknotes.

“I ended up having to pay them in euros when there is a horrendous exchange rate.

“The thing is, they would have taken English money. My children then asked me why they wouldn’t take daddy’s money, which was upsetting.

“I suppose that’s potentially five million customers who are going to be slightly annoyed by this. It reminded me of being in London where cabbies are reluctant to take Scottish cash.

“Normally you say you have got nothing else and they reluctantly accept it.”

An easyJet spokeswoman said: “easyJet accepts both the euro and pound stirling, including the Scottish pound, for our onboard retail services on all easyJet flights.

“Mr Anderson’s currency was not accepted on board his flight from Venice to Amsterdam in error on 12 July.

“The Italian crew on the day did not on this occasion recognise the currency, and easyJet are working with our team in Venice to ensure that this does not happen in future.

“Unfortunately the agent who wrote to Mr Anderson on 28 August misunderstood our currency policy and so incorrectly advised him.”

The easyJet spokeswoman added: “We are sorry for any confusion and inconvenience caused.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Tom Peterkin"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4593216.1508616481!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4593216.1508616481!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The airline said that staff had been in error. Photograph: Getty Images","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The airline said that staff had been in error. Photograph: Getty Images","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4593216.1508616481!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/gusset-grippers-pelvic-floor-show-goes-to-holyrood-1-4593215","id":"1.4593215","articleHeadline": "‘Gusset Grippers’ pelvic floor show goes to Holyrood","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1508623452000 ,"articleLead": "

Hordes of placard-waving protesters, campaigners dressed as hounds and foxes, “choirs” belting out a list of demands – Scotland’s MSPs may think they have seen it all when protesters descend on Holyrood.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4593214.1508616310!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Physiotherapist and stand-up comedian Elaine Miller will be protesting outside the Scottish Parliament next month. Picture: Ian Georgeson"} ,"articleBody": "

But next month they’ll be confronted by a physiotherapist, who also performs as a stand-up comedian, dressed as a giant, talking, sparkly vagina, bringing her award-winning Edinburgh Festival Fringe show Gusset Grippers to the Scottish Parliament, lobbying for a health campaign promoting pelvic floor exercises.

Elaine Miller, who has more than 20 years experience working in NHS Scotland, wants a campaign, using humour, shown on television, in cinemas and social media, and taken into workplaces, communities and secondary schools.

Miller, 46, from Blackhall, Edinburgh, said: “I get really frustrated when I see people who have struggled for years, if not decades with continence problems, something which can lead
to relationships breaking down and families splitting up.

“This is big public health crisis. Yet there is high success rate if people are taught to do the exercises properly.

“Around one in three women and one in nine men have problems but approximately 80 per cent can be cured with six exercise sessions.

“But instead the NHS is wasting money dealing with the after-effects.”

Pelvic floor muscles stretch like a “hammock” supporting a woman’s bladder, womb and bowel. If not kept in shape these organs can drop down.

The event on 21 November is being sponsored by Lothian Scottish Labour MSP Neil Findlay, a lead campaigner in the mesh implant scandal whereby many women were left in constant pain after the controversial incontinence treatment.

“Incontinence is an issue affecting so many women – it has a huge impact on 
their personal wellbeing, their career, social life and their relationships,” Findlay said.

“I hope by using humour to break down barriers and taboos this show helps highlight such a common condition that is not discussed openly.”

Last week Alex Cole-Hamilton, MSP, Scottish Lib Dem health spokesman called for a national continence strategy.

Groups attending the event include the Royal College of GPs, the Royal College of Midwives, health visitors, the union Unite and the Lothian and Scottish Mesh Survivors Group.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “NHS boards already provide services to promote continence and provide dedicated support to patients where appropriate.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Shn Ross"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4593214.1508616310!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4593214.1508616310!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Physiotherapist and stand-up comedian Elaine Miller will be protesting outside the Scottish Parliament next month. Picture: Ian Georgeson","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Physiotherapist and stand-up comedian Elaine Miller will be protesting outside the Scottish Parliament next month. Picture: Ian Georgeson","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4593214.1508616310!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/nicola-sturgeon-admits-citizen-s-income-plan-might-not-work-1-4592082","id":"1.4592082","articleHeadline": "Nicola Sturgeon admits Citizen’s Income plan might not work","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1508501426000 ,"articleLead": "

Nicola Sturgeon has vowed to press on with plans to explore a citizen’s income scheme for Scotland despite acknowledging the controversial plan “might turn out not to be feasible”.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4592081.1508504479!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Nicola Sturgeon"} ,"articleBody": "

The First Minister said it would be wrong to be “close-minded” about different approaches to benefits in the face of rapid economic and digital change.

The Scottish Government’s plan to fund research into the possibility of a Scottish scheme has been criticised as unaffordable by the Scottish Conservatives.

READ MORE: ‘Impossible’ to fix roads due to cuts, say transport experts

Earlier this week it emerged that civil servants had briefed Ms Sturgeon back in March that spending on benefits would have to rise by £12.3 billion to cover the costs of such a move.

The briefing paper also suggested that all taxpayers could have to pay a 50 pence rate on income tax to finance a citizen’s income. It also suggested the tax-free personal allowance would have to go.

During a speech at a conference on inclusive growth in Glasgow, Ms Sturgeon admitted the proposal might not be workable. .

She said: “Despite the fact that this has some critics, we are going to work with interested local authorities to fund research into the feasibility of a citizen’s basic income scheme.

“I should stress our work on this is at a very early stage. It might turn out not to be the answer, it might turn out not to be feasible.

“But as work and employment changes as rapidly as it is doing, I think it’s really important that we look and are prepared to be open-minded about the different ways in which we can support individuals to participate fully in the new economy.”

Speaking to reporters after the event, Ms Sturgeon added: “We’ve heard the IMF today talk about the opportunities but also the challenges of the digital transformation.

“If countries are serious about leaving nobody behind in these transformations, we have to be open-minded to new approaches, so a citizen’s basic income might turn out not to be the right answer here, but I think it would be wrong to be close-minded.

“That’s why we’re funding this research so that we can better inform the decisions we take.”

Ms Sturgeon also announced a public consultation on plans for a national investment bank for Scotland, another key plank of her programme for government.

Benny Higgins, chief executive of Tesco Bank, has been appointed to head up the bank’s development and views are now being sought from the public on the detail of the plans.

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" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "TOM PETERKIN"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4592081.1508504479!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4592081.1508504479!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Nicola Sturgeon","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Nicola Sturgeon","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4592081.1508504479!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"1505300336839"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/unemployment-in-scotland-rises-by-9-000-1-4589995","id":"1.4589995","articleHeadline": "Unemployment in Scotland rises by 9,000","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1508325777000 ,"articleLead": "

The number of unemployed people in Scotland has risen by 9,000 to 113,000 from June to August this year, official figures have shown.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4589994.1508325778!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Employability minister Jamie Hepburn"} ,"articleBody": "

The unemployment rate rose by 0.3 percentage points over the same period to 4.1 per cent.

The unemployment rate was below the 4.3 per cent recorded for the UK as a whole.

According to the Office for National Statistics, unemployment reached 113,000 for all those aged 16 and over.

For those aged between 16 and 64, unemployment rose by 6,000 to 109,000, with the number in work up 40,000 and the employment rate hitting 75.3 per cent.

Scottish Secretary David Mundell said the increase in employment was “encouraging”, pointing out that it was “close to record levels”.

However he expressed disappointment at the rise in unemployment adding: “We must remain focused on boosting Scotland’s economy. Growth in Scotland lags behinds the rest of the UK and I’d urge the Scottish Government to use their considerable economic levers more effectively.”

The Scottish Government highlighted a 1.4 percentage point decrease in the economic inactivity rate for those aged 16 to 64 to 21.5 per cent - similar to the UK rate of 21.4 per cent - and an increase in the female employment rate to 72 per cent.

Employability Minister Jamie Hepburn said the latest figures were “encouraging and among the highest on record”.

He said: “Scotland has higher employment rates and lower unemployment rates than the UK with 91,000 more people in employment compared to the pre-recession peak.

“Youth unemployment rates continue to outperform the UK. This comes on top of us fulfilling our commitment to reduce youth unemployment by 40%, four years ahead of schedule.

“While these figures are positive we recognise there are still many barriers to getting people into work and are continuing to work to improve labour market conditions.”

DOWNLOAD THE SCOTSMAN APP ON ITUNES OR GOOGLE PLAY

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4589994.1508325778!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4589994.1508325778!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Employability minister Jamie Hepburn","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Employability minister Jamie Hepburn","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4589994.1508325778!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/the-real-edinburgh-reverend-who-stole-literature-centuries-before-the-book-thief-1-4588174","id":"1.4588174","articleHeadline": "The real Edinburgh reverend who stole literature centuries before The Book Thief","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1508165113000 ,"articleLead": "

There could be very little common ground between a fictional 12 year old girl in war-torn Nazi Germany and a real 19th century Scottish man of the cloth – besides a mutual appreciation for stealing books, that is.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4588173.1508165104!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Long before Markus Zusaks character, Liesel Meminger, there was another infamous book thief operating in Edinburgh. Picture: PA"} ,"articleBody": "

In Markus Zusak’s seminal novel, The Book Thief, young protagonist, Liesel Meminger, develops a taste for purloining books (at great danger to herself and her new family) to satiate her growing appetite for words.

Close to two centuries before Zusak’s book was even released, in 1830, there was a similarly light-fingered individual at work in Edinburgh – the very real and somewhat infamous Reverend Duncan McCaig.

Driven to temptation

In the early 19th century, books were still very much a luxury item, with most classes unable to afford them.

It would be several decades before new printing techniques would make literature less expensive, with the invention of cheap ‘penny dreadful’ stories, for instance.

Whether or not his motive was money-related remains unclear, but the good Reverend Duncan McCaig managed to avoid suspicion for nearly a year after carrying out a spate of thefts from booksellers across the city.

Ironically, McCaig’s downfall came when he pilfered a bible from merchant, Walter Richardson.

Pretending to browse before stashing it under his cloak, the Reverend left the stolen bible with a waiter at the Reading Rooms below Richardson’s premises for safekeeping. By chance, Richardson heard that a bible had been left there and was awaiting collection.

A trap was set to catch the book thief.

After lying in wait, astonished police apprehended the clergyman, catching him red-handed with the stolen book.

On searching his lodgings afterwards, officers found 20 other books that had also been reported stolen, including copies of Johnson’s Dictionary, the works of Robert Burns, Latin Synonyms, the works of Sophocles and The Complaint or Night Thoughts.

McCaig’s fate was sealed.

Brought to justice

An account of McCaig’s sensational trial appeared in an article in The Scotsman newspaper, dated 8 June 1831.

A lengthy account of McCaig’s trial appeared in The Scotsman in June 1831 (Photo: JP)

On the day of the trial, the courtroom “was excessively crowded” with spectators, who had come especially to see the reverend face justice.

The evidence was overwhelming – McCaig was beyond help.

Summing up, the three justices presiding over his trial felt compelled to throw the book at the clergyman, sentencing him to 14 years penal servitude in Australia. Lord Justice Clerk was particularly damning:

“I am quite sure that there is nothing I can say – intentionally it will not be said – that could aggravate the feelings of degradation which must swell your own breast.

“To conceive it possible that a person who held the situation of a minister of a Chapel of Ease in Edinburgh should have descended to the commission of such crimes affords one of the most melancholy examples of the depravity of our nature that has ever come to under my observation.”

Having pleaded not guilty, McCaig “maintained the greatest composure, and heard his sentence with almost apparent indifference.”

Transported for life

On 14 October 1832, the disgraced McCaig boarded the prison ship, Circassian, in Plymouth.

The vessel was bound for the penal colony of Port Arthur in Van Diemen’s Land (now Tasmania), bearing a human cargo of 192 convicted criminals.

British Navy ships carried convicts to Australia, where they established the first European settlements in the late 1700s (Photo: Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Transportation to Australia had reached its peak by the 1830s, with most thieves – particularly repeat offenders – expecting to be sentenced to a minimum of seven years’ hard labour on the other side of the world.

As with most transported convicts, McCaig was barred from ever returning to Scotland.

After the American Wars of Independence ended in defeat for the British, there was little alternative but to send criminals to the new Australian colonies instead.

By the 1850s, however, colonists had grown resentful of felons being foisted upon them, and the punishment began to wane.

The prison clerk recording McCaig’s arrival seems to have shown some surprise at his occupation as a clergyman (Photo: Tasmania Government Archives)

Arriving in Tasmania on 16 February 1833 after a four-month voyage, McCaig was entered into Port Arthur’s records as being 31 years of age with a “fresh” complexion, reddish beard, brown hair, and hazel eyes.

Next to profession, the clerk scrawled “clergyman – Scotch church.” It is unclear if the small exclamation marks above this particular entry were contemporaneous, but the convicted criminal’s former career would have undoubtedly raised a few eyebrows.

Life as a prisoner

For the crime of stealing, McCaig would have been forced to work long hours in one of the penal station’s micro-industries – shipbuilding, shoemaking, smithing, timber, and brick making.

His prison conduct records show he was punished several times for his “inability to do the quantity of work required.”

Port Arthur penal station, much of which would have been standing when McCaig arrived in Australia (Photo: Port Arthur Historic Site)

It was noted, however, that he was of “good character, courteous and respectable”, which goes some way towards explaining why authorities granted him an early release.

Salvation

It’s perhaps fitting that the both Reverend Duncan McCaig and Liesel Meminger ultimately found redemption in the written word.

Death – who acts as a narrator in Zusak’s novel – alludes to Liesel becoming a writer when he finally comes to claim her as an old woman.

Released from captivity in Port Arthur with a conditional pardon in 1841, McCaig settled as a free man in the town of Launceston in the north of the island, where he worked as teacher.

He died on 26 February 1849.

In the census carried out during the previous year, McCaig is recorded as a professional person living alone in a wooden dwelling – and still clinging to the beliefs of the Church of Scotland.

• This article first appeared on our sister site, i

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "David Walsh"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4588173.1508165104!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4588173.1508165104!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Long before Markus Zusaks character, Liesel Meminger, there was another infamous book thief operating in Edinburgh. Picture: PA","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Long before Markus Zusaks character, Liesel Meminger, there was another infamous book thief operating in Edinburgh. Picture: PA","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4588173.1508165104!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4588301.1508165107!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4588301.1508165107!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "editorial image","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "editorial image","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4588301.1508165107!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} , {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4588302.1508165115!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4588302.1508165115!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "British Navy ships carried convicts to Australia, where they established the first European settlements in the late 1700s. Picture: Getty Images","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "British Navy ships carried convicts to Australia, where they established the first European settlements in the late 1700s. Picture: Getty Images","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4588302.1508165115!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} , {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4588303.1508165116!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4588303.1508165116!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "editorial image","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "editorial image","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4588303.1508165116!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/leader-everyone-can-help-turn-the-tide-of-beach-pollution-1-4587176","id":"1.4587176","articleHeadline": "Leader: Everyone can help turn the tide of beach pollution","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1508020528000 ,"articleLead": "

The problem of plastic pollution on our beaches is in danger of making an oil spill look relatively manageable.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4587175.1508013472!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Madeleine Berg of Fidra, with jars of nurdles collected at Kinneil nature reserve in Boness. Picture: Catherine Gemmell"} ,"articleBody": "

Without wanting to deflect from how serious a spillage can be, there is always a possibility that the sea will break up leaked oil and prevent it doing what could be catastrophic damage to the environment. With plastic pollution, there is no such hope. Once plastic is released into a marine environment, it will only disappear if collected from the shore by committed conservationists. But when that plastic is in the form of a tiny nurdle, the lentil-sized pellet which is the raw material of plastic products, it is virtually impossible to eradicate.

It is estimated there could be billions of nurdles on the UK shoreline already, and it would require a sieve to identify and remove them, virtually one by one.

Clearly, that isn’t going to happen. We’re stuck with the nurdles, which have mainly ended up in the environment after being spilled during the production process. And once they get into the food chain, they kill marine life.

There is a suggestion from environmental campaigners that we could reach a point where there are more nurdles than sand on our beaches. It is difficult to imagine this will ever happen, but it is perhaps worthwhile raising such a level of alarm, because awareness of the problem remains low. By the time the general public becomes fully aware of what a nurdle is, and the damage it poses, it will be too late to do anything about the huge numbers that are finding their way into the environment right now.

And whether we consider ourselves to be eco-warriors or not, we should all be aware of the threat posed by plastic pollution. Anyone who has been to a beach clean-up – sadly, that’s a tiny minority of us – will know that the amount of plastic collected from a small stretch of shoreline can often be too vast to be removed by volunteers, and requires a truck to take it to a recycling centre.

Sadly, the very act of helping to remove plastic can be enough to make volunteers believe that their efforts are futile. But we must not give up.

Nor should we dismiss concern over nurdles because it is a “global problem” that Scotland can have no impact upon. As well as this being an irresponsible attitude, it is also illogical. It might be possible to trace back pollution around the UK to sources in other countries, but the vast majority of offending material will have come from this island.

We cannot believe that the environment can absorb the plastic problem and that it will disappear or be carried out to sea. It is up to manufacturers to stop the spill of nurdles into the environment, but we all, as individuals, have a role to play in the wider issue of plastic pollution. We might have no way of putting it right, but we have the power to prevent it.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4587175.1508013472!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4587175.1508013472!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Madeleine Berg of Fidra, with jars of nurdles collected at Kinneil nature reserve in Boness. Picture: Catherine Gemmell","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Madeleine Berg of Fidra, with jars of nurdles collected at Kinneil nature reserve in Boness. Picture: Catherine Gemmell","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4587175.1508013472!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/lifestyle/instagram-gallery-will-put-tourists-in-picture-about-scotland-1-4587122","id":"1.4587122","articleHeadline": "Instagram gallery will put tourists in picture about Scotland","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1508019223000 ,"articleLead": "

IT is a world away from the traditional image of a tourist information centre bedecked in tartan or high street travel agency piled high with brochures.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4587118.1508008513!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "A Highland glen and loch."} ,"articleBody": "

VisitScotland has revealed plans to deploy images drawn from Instagram accounts to target potential travellers – at a pop-up shop in the heart of London.

Days after announcing the close of nearly two-thirds of its traditional information centres across Scotland, it will launch the world’s first Instagram travel agency featuring hundreds of striking images of the country beamed onto a floor-to-ceiling digital wall. Visitors to the contemporary art gallery hosting the four-day venture, starting Wednesday, will be able to create an itinerary for a holiday based entirely on the Instagram images they select.

They will also be able to seek inspiration by using the latest headset technology to take a virtual tour of Scotland.

VisitScotland is trying to tap into a growing trend for people to book holidays on the back of seeing a single photograph on Instagram.

The tourism body boasts more than 370,000 followers on its own account and its pop-up agency is opening in the wake of a study earlier this year which found that 40 per cent of UK millennials choose their holiday destination based on its “Instagrammability”. VisitScotland launched a new campaign to tap into the lucrative 16-34 year-old market last month, citing figures which show it is already worth £1.1 billion to the tourism industry. It has joined forces on its latest venture with Instagrammers who have used its hashtags #ScotSpirit #LoveScotland and #VisitScotland to allow it to share their pictures.

Charlie Smith, director of marketing at VisitScotland, which is running the “Instashop” at the Woolff Gallery in London’s Fitzrovia district, said: “As a destination we’re keen to develop and deliver our powerful national story, giving a respectful nod to the past, but portraying a modern, welcoming and dynamic Scotland.

“We’re proud of the fact that VisitScotland has the biggest tourism Instagram account in Europe. People love our feed not only for the stunning photographs but also because they discover the immense and unexpected variety of things they can see and do.

“Our biggest number of Instagram followers come from London, so by extending that traditional Scottish hospitality and opening the world’s first Instagram travel agency in London, we hope to inspire them to come to Scotland to experience it for themselves.”

Marc Crothall, chief executive of the Scottish Tourism Alliance, said: “It is important that Scotland is seen to be a progressive destination which embraces the needs and expectations of today’s tourist.

“Key to this will be having a digital infrastructure that supports the sharing and engagement of those visual and virtual experiences and as a tourism industry.

“The significant shortfall in the level of coverage and the speed of broadband is one of the most important challenges facing the sector.

“The investment in stable and fast connectivity which gives our businesses and visitors access to mobile signal in all areas of Scotland is vital if we are to realise our economic potential and maintain our global competitive edge.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "BRIAN FERGUSON"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4587118.1508008513!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4587118.1508008513!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "A Highland glen and loch.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "A Highland glen and loch.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4587118.1508008513!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4587119.1508008520!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4587119.1508008520!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Shetland ponies.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Shetland ponies.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4587119.1508008520!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} , {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4587120.1508008522!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4587120.1508008522!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "A rocky outcrop on the Isle of Skye.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "A rocky outcrop on the Isle of Skye.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4587120.1508008522!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} , {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4587121.1508008529!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4587121.1508008529!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "A bijou bothy in the Cairngorms.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "A bijou bothy in the Cairngorms.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4587121.1508008529!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/paula-jefferson-focus-turns-to-insurance-as-law-change-empowers-child-abuse-victims-1-4580854","id":"1.4580854","articleHeadline": "Paula Jefferson: Focus turns to insurance as law change empowers child abuse victims","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1507539096000 ,"articleLead": "

They say time heals and that the passing days, months and years eventually soothe the pain and mend the wounds.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4580853.1507406887!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The number of abuse claims is bound to rise. Picture: Getty"} ,"articleBody": "

But for victims and survivors of childhood abuse – whether sexual, physical or emotional – the trauma often lingers far beyond the actual event.

The Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry, which is investigating more than 60 organisations including public schools, church bodies and local authority residential care services, has already highlighted disturbing details of non-recent abuse.

Its remit, whilst limited to “in-care” abuse, does include a wide range of organisations as well as covering a time period “within living memory of any person who suffered such abuse” up until December 2014, when the inquiry was announced.

While the inquiry will consider what needs to happen to protect children in care from abuse in the future, those sins of the past continue to be significant to survivors of abuse. For the organisations potentially linked to the abuse, learning from the past to ensure protection of children in the future is paramount.

In 2008, almost 1,000 cases, which alleged childhood abuse dating back to the 1960s, did not proceed after a House of Lords decision which strictly applied Scotland’s three-year time bar rule.

The decision devastated claimants and sparked a review of the law. Finally, last Wednesday, the Limitation (Childhood Abuse) (Scotland) Act came into force, bringing an end to the three-year limitation rule for civil compensation claims for abuse (if the abuse occurred after September 1964).

It’s a ground-breaking moment in Scots law and a victory for those campaigners who view the defence of a claim, on the basis that the issues occurred too long ago, as totally inappropriate and unfair.

It does, however, have major ramifications for those organisations that find themselves involved in these cases of non-recent abuse. Nobody is certain how many new or reactivated claims will now be made and the impact those claims will have.

So how will these claims proceed? The onus will remain on the claimant to establish, on the balance of probabilities, that abuse occurred and that there is a causative link between the abuse and the injury, physical and/or psychological. For the defender, it is still possible to challenge the claim on the grounds that they will suffer substantial prejudice if the claim proceeds. It will be for a judge to decide what amounts to substantial prejudice. If a claim does proceed then it is likely to do so by consideration of whether or not the defender organisation should be considered to be vicariously liable for the actions of the abuser.

Previous cases before the House of Lords / Supreme Court have already extended the concept of vicarious liability in claims pursued in England or Wales to include not only direct employees but also those in a position akin to employment (such as volunteers or office holders) and most recently to self-employed contractors. The specific circumstances of each relationship will require careful consideration.

It is expected that the number of claims for compensation related to childhood abuse against local authorities, charities, religious and care organisations, will now rise dramatically.

To prepare for those claims organisations should be identifying their Public and Employer’s Liability insurance policies, fingers crossed that they are sufficiently covered.

Some may well be disappointed: Public Liability Insurance has never been compulsory, while Employer’s Liability only became compulsory from 1972. And where a relevant policy is not forthcoming, the costs of meeting compensation claims and related costs will have to be found from their own often already stretched funds. Organisations and institutions would be well advised to check their archives and brokers sooner, rather than later.

In introducing this legislation, the Scottish Government has acted decisively to attempt to find a way to remove a barrier for victims so as to focus on the provision of damages to those abused in childhood. Only time will tell whether that aim is achieved and crucially whether it does soothe the pain and mend the wounds of those who were abused.

• Paula Jefferson, is Partner at BLM – the UK’s leading insurance and risk law specialist

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Paula Jefferson"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4580853.1507406887!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4580853.1507406887!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The number of abuse claims is bound to rise. Picture: Getty","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The number of abuse claims is bound to rise. Picture: Getty","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4580853.1507406887!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/sport/football/teams/aberdeen/long-and-winding-road-to-a-new-home-for-aberdeen-1-4581238","id":"1.4581238","articleHeadline": "Long and winding road to a new home for Aberdeen","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1507461214000 ,"articleLead": "

The biggest day in Aberdeen’s recent history is looming when the decision on where to relocate the club will be announced. In reality, many fans said farewell to the real Pittodrie back in 1992, says Andrew Southwick, as he looks back on the ground’s glory days

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4581233.1507461211!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Pittodrie Stadium, home of Aberdeen FC. Picture: SNS"} ,"articleBody": "

The bulldozers have been poised and ready for 20 years. When they finally get the green light to head down Merkland Road and pull apart Pittodrie, there will be tears. Like an old cruise singer whose heyday is long ago, plying herself with make-up in an attempt to look presentable to a crowd now raised on better models elsewhere, the Pittodrie experience has been a desperate sight in recent years.

Out of morbid curiosity, I will watch. And one day I will walk round the streets again, no doubt by then filled with modern flats where people will cook microwave meals and watch Gogglebox on the same spot where John Hewitt slid in the winner against Bayern Munich and sent Pittodrie berserk in 1983, where Willie Miller scored against Celtic then ran up the touchline with veins pulsing as the league title was all but sealed in ’85, or where Hans Gillhaus knocked in a last-minute winner against Rangers in ’91.

However, Pittodrie as I knew it, the one anyone over 30 grew up on, we said goodbye to that one many years ago. For me, I said my farewells away back in 1992. Scotland 
Under-21s were hosting Germany in the quarter-finals of the European Championships. Despite not being the full national side, the game captured the imagination of the north-east and 22,500 packed into Pittodrie.

Local boys Michael Watt, Stephen Wright and Eoin Jess were in dark blue that night alongside the likes of Paul Lambert, Phil O’Donnell and Duncan Ferguson. From the Germany team, Mehmet Scholl would go on to play in the Euro 96 final four years later, while a young Stefan Klos was in goals.

A 1-1 draw in the first leg in Bochum set the tie up nicely for what was, and remains, the greatest 90 minutes I have had the pleasure to witness. It was also the night many Dons fans got a chance to experience the famous old Beach End for what they thought would be the final time.

The legendary home end of the Dons support had long since been handed over to the away fans, leaving us all looking longingly at it being wasted; its size engulfing the handful of supporters who dared make the long trip north to take another drubbing. Even more depressing was seeing the Old Firm fill it and bounce and sway like we used to. But now we had taken back ownership for the night, and with the impending demolition in order to make way for the new Richard Donald Stand, it deserved a memorable send off.

Markus Kranz and Scholl gave Germany a 2-0 lead, and Ray McKinnon’s goal before half-time did little to suggest Scotland were going to turn it around. Heiko Herrlich’s strike with half an hour to play set Scotland the daunting task of needing to score three times to make the semi-finals. But Pittodrie came alive, and by God did it roar them home that night.

Gerry Creaney started the comeback with 20 minutes to go. With 12 minutes left Lambert made it 3-3 to set up a frantic finale. The send-off was beautiful. Three minutes to go and Alex Rae found a winner, and the old place went wild. The Germans were defeated and Scotland were into the last four.

The calls for Pittodrie to host the semi-final with Sweden were loud, and duly granted, and again a capacity crowd packed the stadium. Once more I took up position in the Beach End, my last time on the old wooden benches actually being my second last. But this time it would turn into a damp squib, a 0-0 draw. Scotland lost the second leg 1-0 and we were denied the chance to face Italy in the final.

A year later and hopes were high for Aberdeen. Willie Miller’s side were playing entertaining football, reaching both cup finals and finishing second in the league, losing out all three times to one of the Old Firm in the midst of their nine-in-a-row procession. Remarkably similar to what Derek McInnes’s side have just endured.

This was happening amidst the backdrop of the new 6,000 capacity two-tiered stand being built behind the goals. It promised better spectator comfort and an increased financial boost for the club, and the £4.5 million price tag has long since been paid off from corporate revenue.

Pittodrie was never the same again though. Now it was an awkward-looking stadium, a big tall stand out of place with the rest. The away fans were given a section of the South Stand along the side of the pitch, and in the case of Rangers and Celtic that meant taking up the majority of the stand, right on top of the action, and influencing the assistant referee down that side.

The voices in the home support, the ones who would have the place jumping on famous nights, were now hidden away in the upper deck of the RDS or standing in the freezing cold on the open and unforgiving corner at section Y.

The stadium as we knew it had gone. Every big game against the Old Firm was played to a backdrop of the away fans singing their battle hymns. The mediocrity on the pitch did not help matters either.

Attempts to improve the atmosphere in recent seasons have failed. A singing section has been tried in the RDS, in various sections of the South Stand, and last season in the corner of the Merkland.

Everything – the atmosphere, the match-day experience, Mark Reynolds’ inability to win headers – will all be solved in the new stadium, we’re told. The paint was barely dry on the new stand when the Dons started talking of a stadium move, and since then it has been a long drawn-out saga. The wait to find a new ground may finally end in the coming weeks if the club can convince Aberdeen City Council that Kingsford, sitting on the edge of the city boundary around ten kilometres from their current home, is the right place to call home. Although even that is not certain with the news last week that the club’s planning application has been deferred.

It is not the first attempt to find land in the city. First the Dons were set for Bellfield, just a couple of miles east of where their current proposals lie. A 30,000 capacity stadium was mooted to be part of Scotland’s joint Euro 2008 bid with Ireland. When Austria and Switzerland gained the hosting rights, out went Aberdeen’s plans.

Then it looked like Loirston in the south of the city would be the destination. Plans were submitted and passed by the council with building work due to start in 2012. But opposition from Dons fans was fierce. The stadium is in a difficult place to drive to and a supporters’ survey showed 81.2 per cent of respondents were against Loirston.

Early last year Aberdeen came up with plan C. They had found land at Kingsford, a deal had been agreed with the landowners, and it had plenty of room for a joint facility. Like Loirston, also sitting just a few hundred yards from the new Aberdeen bypass, by car it trumps Pittodrie.

Furthermore, despite being an out-of-town location far from the pubs and the bustling life of the city centre, it appears most fans are supportive. You wonder how many have just been beaten into submission by the long wait for a new home and are at the point where they want something, anything, built. The club has worked hard to sell the 20,000 capacity stadium to fans who are still sceptical. While envious glances have been made towards Hearts and Hibs who have rebuilt their old grounds in order to remain in the Edinburgh heartlands of Gorgie and Leith, out-of-town stadiums are not abnormal. Indeed, on the continent, many make a great success of it.

Local campaigners against Kingsford have been at pains to point out the lack of public transport options and parking. The closest train station is Dyce, a two-hour walk away. Trams have not run in the city since 1927. It is easy to get to by car, but unsurprisingly many locals in the neighbouring towns of Westhill and Kingswells have little appetite to become glorified car parks on match days.

The club has attempted to find a solution, promising shuttle buses from all areas of Aberdeen. With just 1,300 parking spaces on site, they have had to go cap in hand to local businesses to ask to use their facilities.

The plans were described as “a dog’s dinner” at an Aberdeenshire Council meeting. Mike Rumbles MSP labelled the transport strategy “wholly inadequate”. But Aberdeen chief executive George Yule has hit back, saying: “There are cities up and down this country who move between 50,000 and 70,000 people every week. It is a sad indictment of Europe’s oil capital if we cannot move 13,000 people every second week.”

Where the stadium is planned has some sentimental value to me. I grew up in Westhill. Never did I consider my football club would move to within walking distance of where I once lived. My first game was 1987, a win over Greenock Morton. My two uncles and grandad took me along, hoping to brainwash me into following the Dons the same way they had been. Bad luck had it that I’d missed the Alex Ferguson era, but the Dons were still very easy on the eye.

Just weeks after my Pittodrie debut Charlie Nicholas made his in red and very quickly established himself as my favourite player. The trinity of Jim Leighton, Willie Miller and Alex McLeish ensured I didn’t witness many defeats. I was soon hooked, and so the bi-weekly trip to Pittodrie became a regular pilgrimage: dropped off at my granny’s in Mastrick to wait for my Uncle Colin who always, without fail, turned up late. Then the short drive to park next to Aberdeen university, and a walk through the cobbled streets of Old Aberdeen, past the spectacular surroundings of Kings College Chapel, along King Street until the big floodlights of Pittodrie could be seen.

For many, the visit to Pittodrie has been the same for years. A walk along the same streets, a drink or four in the same pub, and either a walk over Broad Hill with the stadium emerging at the bottom, or the sight of the granite facade of the Merkland Stand turnstiles, as unique a football entrance as there is.

Now fans are being asked to jump on shuttle buses and be dropped off on the outskirts of the city, with the promise it’ll be worth it and that the trip back will not be too painful, even on a cold December midweek match while queuing for a bus to take you halfway home.

If Pittodrie could be redeveloped, that would be the favourable outcome. But the ground is landlocked. Modern building regulations mean that to keep the same capacity the club need to buy more land behind the stadium. Two stands sit within yards of flats. The main stand is next to a main road.

Even if the club could acquire the land, they then still have to find money to actually build the stadium. With Kingsford’s price tag at
£40 million for the stadium alone, where do Aberdeen find the money to build that without the sale of Pittodrie to give them a head start? It also leaves them still seeking land elsewhere for training facilities, which manager McInnes sees as the priority.

At the heart of the Kingsford plan is the club’s insistence on having the training facilities next to the stadium which has restricted the possible locations. The club itself admits that should Kingsford be rejected, it has nowhere to go, and it may need to make the unthinkable decision of leaving Aberdeen altogether, leaving Scotland’s third-largest city without a senior football club.

And so the club and support wait with bated breath for the all-important decision that was due initially on 21 June, and then expected this Wednesday but has now been deferred for discussion at a future meeting of the full council. The likelihood is any rejection of its plans will force the Dons board into accepting that the stadium and training facilities will have to be separate.

If Kingsford fails the most likely reason will be because the traffic and travel plans are not suitable. If that transpires, it could still host the training ground, with Loirston – earmarked by the council as an acceptable location for a stadium – being revisited, a new train station maybe being enough to calm the nerves of agitated supporters.

That argument is one the club do not wish to have. In a campaign where the Dons will try to close the gap on Celtic, stave off the growing threat of Rangers, Hearts and Hibs, and continue to search for silverware, the biggest day of the season will be a day that McInnes and his team can do nothing about.

• This feature appears in Issue 5 of Nutmeg, a long-form publication devoted entirely to every aspect of Scottish football. It is published quarterly and is available via subscription at www.nutmegmagazine.co.uk

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "ANDREW SOUTHWICK FOR NUTMEG MAGAZINE"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4581233.1507461211!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4581233.1507461211!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Pittodrie Stadium, home of Aberdeen FC. Picture: SNS","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Pittodrie Stadium, home of Aberdeen FC. Picture: SNS","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4581233.1507461211!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4581234.1507461212!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4581234.1507461212!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Nutmeg Magazine Issue 5 front cover.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Nutmeg Magazine Issue 5 front cover.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4581234.1507461212!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} , {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4581235.1507461214!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4581235.1507461214!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Pittodries unique granite facade are not matched by the unloved Richard Donald Stand. Picture: SNS","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Pittodries unique granite facade are not matched by the unloved Richard Donald Stand. Picture: SNS","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4581235.1507461214!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} , {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4581236.1507461219!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4581236.1507461219!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Artist impression of the proposed new stadium at Kingsford. Picture: Contributed","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Artist impression of the proposed new stadium at Kingsford. Picture: Contributed","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4581236.1507461219!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} , {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4581237.1507461221!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4581237.1507461221!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The Beach End witnessed its final fling for two key Scotland Under-21 matches back in 1992.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The Beach End witnessed its final fling for two key Scotland Under-21 matches back in 1992.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4581237.1507461221!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/general-election/snp-s-strong-and-stable-message-pushes-indyref2-to-the-margins-1-4581080","id":"1.4581080","articleHeadline": "SNP’s ‘Strong and stable’ message pushes indyref2 to the margins","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1507438850000 ,"articleLead": "

Independence will be off the SNP agenda for the next three days as the party gathers in Glasgow aiming to win back public trust in its stewardship of public services and the economy.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4581079.1507457427!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and her deputy John Swinney. Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty"} ,"articleBody": "

John Swinney will open the SNP conference claiming that only the SNP offers stability amid chaos at the top of the Conservative Party and another contest to lead Labour in Scotland.

But two separate polls have cast a shadow over the conference, confirming that the SNP is losing ground to Labour and highlighting voters’ uncertainty over Nicola Sturgeon’s record in government.

The First Minister is under pressure to satisfy her own supporters’ demands for progress towards a second independence referendum, while responding to the constitutional fatigue that drove voters away from the SNP at the general election in June and cost 21 MPs.

She also faces awkward questions on Tuesday, when she delivers her keynote speech on the same day that the Catalan parliament is expected to make a unilateral declaration of independence.

Topics set for debate by delegates include motions on Brexit, raising the minimum age for military service from 16 to 18, and cracking down on landlords who advertise accommodation in exchange for sex.

But discussion of independence is limited to a pair of fringe meetings.

Delegates will also be given a say on raising the public sector pay cap amid calls from unions for pay rises of up to 5 per cent, but there will be no debate in the conference hall on raising taxes.

“Against the backdrop of Brexit, Labour and the Tories have descended into unprecedented chaos, and amidst the complete abdication of leadership on the key issues of the day, the responsibility on the SNP to deliver strong government has never been greater,” Swinney said ahead of the conference getting under way.

The party is set to highlight the recent ban on fracking, the introduction of “baby boxes” for all new parents, and the completion of the Queensferry Crossing as evidence of its delivery after ten years in power.

Swinney said: “The SNP is the only party delivering progressive government anywhere in the UK.

“In recent weeks, our bold and ambitious policy plans have set the agenda in Scotland and been heard around the world.

“We are the only party firmly focused on the priorities of the people of Scotland, protecting Scotland’s interests and ensuring Scotland’s voice is heard.”

But critics accused the SNP of airbrushing out major challenges facing education, the health service and policing from the party’s record. Interim Labour leader Alex Rowley said the SNP’s term in office had been a “decade of division”.

“The nationalists’ claim to be a progressive government is laughable when they have spent their time in office turning the Scottish Parliament into a conveyor belt for Tory austerity, slashing local authority budgets by £1.5 billion since 2011,” Rowley said.

A Scottish Conservative spokesman said talk of the nationalists’ achievements “might wash with the SNP faithful, but the public more generally are sick of the SNP’s warm words.

“The truth is, in a decade of government, the nationalists have only made things worse.”

It comes as a poll conducted by pro-Union campaigners found that most people disapprove of the SNP’s record in government, and are split on Sturgeon’s performance as First Minister.

Asked to give their verdict on everything the SNP have done since they first formed a government in 2007, 42 per cent of respondents to the YouGov online poll say they disapprove of the nationalists’ record, while 39 per cent approve and 19 per cent don’t know.

On the question of how Sturgeon is doing as First Minister, 45 per cent said she was performing well compared to 44 per cent who say she is doing badly, with 10 per cent saying they do not know.

Scotland in Union chief executive Pamela Nash warned the SNP against reviving the case for another independence referendum, or risk seeing its election prospects dip even further.

“These figures show the tide is now turning and the SNP’s obsession with the constitution is costing them support,” Nash said.

“The issues that matter to Scots such as our economy, our schools and our NHS have been cast aside and it’s clear people are increasingly fed up. They want a government running the country, not a campaign.”

Yesterday the SNP’s Westminster leader, Ian Blackford joined the growing number of senior voices within the SNP calling on Sturgeon to postpone any consideration of indyref2 until after 2020, beyond the next set of elections.

Blackford warned that setting a target date for a second independence referendum was “putting the cart before the horse”.

He said: “We need to know what will happen with Brexit, what is going to be the outcome of the Brexit negotiations, but the second thing is we need to set out a vision of what kind of Scotland we expect to see.”

Fellow SNP MP Pete Wishart recently called for a second independence referendum to be put off until after a post-Brexit transition period, which is not set to end until 2019 at the earliest.

In an interview last month, Sturgeon admitted she didn’t know when indyref2 will be called, saying it depended on the outcome of Brexit.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Paris Gourtsoyannis"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4581079.1507457427!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4581079.1507457427!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and her deputy John Swinney. Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and her deputy John Swinney. Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4581079.1507457427!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/insight-can-you-imagine-the-country-without-its-kirk-1-4580904","id":"1.4580904","articleHeadline": "Insight: ‘Can you imagine the country without its Kirk?’","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1507409013000 ,"articleLead": "

ALREADY facing relegation to second place, the Church of Scotland is asking how it can avoid sleepwalking to oblivion, writes Dani Garavelli

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4580897.1507409002!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "A worshipper in St Giles' Cathedral, Edinburgh. Photograph: Neil Hanna"} ,"articleBody": "

When the Very Rev Dr Lorna Hood became minister of Renfrew North parish church 38 years ago, she had to fight more than 33 other applicants for the post; back then, the Sunday school children would take up the whole central section of the building and sometimes spill over into the gallery.

By the time she retired last year, the Kirk was struggling to find new clergy to fill vacancies, with parishes regularly left rudderless for two or three years. In Renfrew North, which is still looking for a replacement, the Sunday school children filled only seven or eight pews; yet that was busy compared with some parishes which struggled to reach double figures.

“I suppose having been moderator and then having retired and had the opportunity to go round different churches doing supply, you do realise the precarious nature of many of our congregations that are small and elderly,” says Hood.

“For me the big issue is the lack of children – I just don’t see enough happening to capture our young people. In the early days, when I was a chaplain going into schools, I would say: ‘Today, we are going to talk about the Good Samaritan,’ and everybody would know what I was talking about. Now, they would look at me blankly. We are losing our heritage, the stories of our faith.”

When Hood started out, there was also the youth fellowship, where young people would meet to talk about life and faith. “It was the best dating agency,” laughs Hood. “We didn’t need Match.com and Tinder back then. But nowadays people don’t want to sit around in a draughty church hall when they could be at home or in a bar or a club.

“Life has changed, but we haven’t really changed. We are still stuck in the same way of doing things. And it’s depressing because you don’t know the answer.”

Hood is not the only one downbeat about the future of the Kirk. Last week, another former moderator, Albert Bogle, suggested it could easily be “sleepwalking into oblivion”.

“A great cultural tsunami has turned the social and spiritual landscape of church life, certainly in the western world, on its edge,” he wrote in the church’s house magazine, Life and Work.

Christianity is in a state of crisis in Scotland. After centuries of fighting off persecution, all denominations are now faced with a tougher enemy: apathy.

Secularisation, combined with a backlash over sexual scandals, means it is harder for all denominations to keep existing members and attract new ones.

According to the last Scottish Church Census, the number of regular church-goers across the country has more than halved from 854,000 to 390,000 (just 7 per cent of the population) since 1984, when records began.

Two-fifths of Scottish churchgoers are over 65 and, though the rate of decline has slowed, it is predicted the number of regular worshippers will drop by a further 100,000 in the next eight years.

Meanwhile, Christian denominations are also under pressure from humanists, who have turned atheism into an ideology. The organisation now has 14,000 members in Scotland, and is stealing a march when it comes to christenings (or naming ceremonies), weddings and funerals.

Within this landscape of general decline, the Church of Scotland is faring particularly badly. Last week, the Scottish Household Survey showed that while the percentage of Scots saying they were Catholic had gone down by just one per cent (15 per cent to 14 per cent) since 2009, the proportion who declared themselves affiliated to the Church of Scotland had decreased from 34 per cent to 24 per cent, leading the Catholic Church to forecast that in seven years it would have overtaken the Kirk as the country’s most popular religion.

According to Stephen Bullivant, professor of theology and sociology of religion at St Mary’s University in Twickenham, there are two main factors behind the Catholic Church’s relative stability.

First, those brought up within the RC faith in Scotland are more likely to continue identifying as Catholic into adulthood, and second, it has benefited disproportionately from immigration.

“There has been a long history of tribal belonging with Catholicism, especially somewhere like Glasgow [with its history of Irish Catholic immigration],” he says.

“In addition, people from majority Catholic countries have come to Scotland in a way they haven’t from majority Church of Scotland countries. Poles, Hungarians, Lithuanians are all having a fairly significant impact.”

It may also be true that the Catholic Church in Scotland is experiencing a double bounce off the back of Pope Benedict’s visit in 2010 and the popularity of his successor, Pope Francis, who has spoken out quite strongly on socio-economic inequality. In the past seven years there has been a revival in vocations with more young men becoming seminarians at the Scots College in Rome; and this year 12 new priests were ordained – a 20-year high.

Here too, the Catholic Church may benefit from being part of a global movement which is thriving in places such as Africa and South America. Clergy from other parts of the world often spend extended periods in Scottish parishes, and earlier this year, Andrew Niski, who moved to Scotland from Poland, was ordained as a priest in Inverness.

Still, it would be a hollow boast were the Catholic Church to crow about overtaking the Church of Scotland: there’s no disguising the fact that they’re both peddling outmoded wares in an ailing industry. The Catholic Church also has an ageing population and the recent influx of priests is not nearly enough to compensate for the ones who are dying or retiring.

For all Christian denominations, the biggest challenge is attracting more young people. Here, the Catholic Church has one obvious advantage: its own schools. Wherever you stand on the issue – and many vehemently oppose them – Catholic schools mean even where the parents are lapsed, children are being introduced to the faith through masses and the preparation for the sacraments.

In recent years, the Catholic Church has also introduced two Duke of Edinburgh-style schemes, with a focus on community engagement: the Pope Francis award (for Primary 7s) and the Caritas awards for sixth years.

Though a large number of teenagers do drift away, a minority stay, and, as those who stay are swimming against the cultural tide, they are likely to be more committed (and more socially conservative) than their parents.

Social media gives those young people the opportunity to communicate with others of a similar disposition; and then there are pilgrimages, such as to Lourdes, volunteering in developing countries and global congresses such as World Youth Day.

Without denominational schools, the Church of Scotland struggles to reach children in the same way. “When I was at school, you had services,” says Hood. “Now, we have accepted religion should not be practised within education because of the multicultural society we are part of. But if children are not being taught about their faith heritage at Sunday school and they’re not being taught about it at school, where is it going to come from?”

Hood says young parents are not coming to church because lifestyles have changed, with sports taking priority on a Sunday morning. “We need to make our worship more relevant to everyday life and to do other things at other times,” she says.

One of the ways the Kirk is attempting to achieve this is with Messy Church, a phenomenon that brings whole families together to express their faith through arts and crafts, games and music followed perhaps by a reading or message.

The Rev Eleanor McMahon is an interim minister sent to help congregations find a new sense of direction after the death of their own minister or following a period of conflict.

She has been involved in Messy Churches at four parishes, including the one she is based in now: Govan and Linthouse. “The millennial generation – parents in their 20s and 30s – have different life patterns. They are working, their families are more diverse, children may be away at another family at the weekend,” she says.

“Messy Church is an attempt to make church more accessible in terms of time, atmosphere and environment. They all run differently, but they are all noisy, open and welcoming. “

Many churches have also tried to keep up with advancing technology. “Gone are the days when children were handed a colouring sheet to colour in one of the Bible stories,” says Hood. “They live in an age where there are gadgets all around them – we have to adapt in order to fit into that. We see more and more churches coming to Presbytery looking for permission to put in audio visual equipment to develop their worship.”

Before she retired, Hood had plasma screens installed at Renfrew North. “We would have a family service once a month – we had a big Praise band as well – and whatever the theme was, I would try to include a wee video that they could relate to.”

Figures showing humanist wedding ceremonies are outstripping those conducted in the Church of Scotland have prompted ministers to set up stalls at wedding fairs. “I think we are showing the church is willing to be there at this important part of your life,” says Hood. “Very often people who have had a wedding in a church will come back years later and say: ‘I don’t know if you remember, but you married me. Is it OK if I come to see you?’ That’s why the Church is there: to be a servant.”

In an attempt to move away from the idea of a church as bricks and mortar, the Kirk has also appointed a number of Pioneer ministers; their job is to go into communities and engage with those who still believe but have become disconnected from their faith. In a similar vein, a Catholic Mercy Bus – with a picture of a smiling Pope Francis on the side – brought mass and confessions to towns across Scotland this summer.

These initiatives are all aimed at making churches more accessible and inclusive; yet all denominations have been split on LGBT issues, particularly same-sex marriages.

The Catholic Church has not budged from its original position, which is that, while homosexuality itself is not a sin, homosexual acts are. The Kirk is moving slowly – glacially slowly, some would say – towards allowing same-sex weddings to be conducted in church, while the Scottish Episcopal Church gave the go-ahead to same-sex weddings earlier this year (and was last week excluded from ecumenical and leadership roles in the Anglican Communion as a result).

But what impact does each denomination’s stance have on its membership? The Catholic Church believes its steadfastness/intransigence has played in its favour.

“Some people would say the Church of Scotland has moved with the times, but actually that doesn’t do you any good because the more you move with the spirit of the age the less people see that you have something unique to offer,” says Ian Dunn, the editor of the Scottish Catholic Observer. Then again, I know through personal experience that the Church’s treatment of LGBT people has driven liberal Catholics away.

Hood believes the Church of Scotland has come a long way, but still has a long way to go. “When you actually meet [LGBT] people, when some of your friends are in same-sex relationships, then that’s when the change in attitudes takes place,” she says. “One of the saddest letters I ever received was from someone in my congregation who was having a civil partnership. She said: ‘I have been part of the Church all my life, but I can’t [get married here], yet someone who doesn’t care anything about faith can walk in and have their wedding.’”

The Rev Kelvin Holdsworth, provost of St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral in Glasgow, says he is reaping the benefits of his church’s inclusivity, as his congregation has doubled in the past ten years.

“People are searching for something that is believable and gives them inspiration. They are much less loyal and more willing to walk away from something that doesn’t give them what they need,” he says.

Holdsworth insists the more he talks about including gay people, the more young families want to bring their children to the church, so they grow up in a place where sexuality is not an issue.

As for being sanctioned by the Anglican Communion, he says it works in his favour. “The more progressive we are, the more people come,” he says. “Do you remember we had a bit of trouble when people objected to us inviting Muslims and there was a reading from the Koran? Our congregations went up by 20 per cent after that.”

Elsewhere in the world – in Africa and Latin America, for example – religion is thriving. But can Christian churches in Scotland withstand the rise of western secularisation? After all, no amount of eye-catching initiatives will win over the increasing number of people who no longer believe in God.

Dunn says the events of the past few years have made him more hopeful the Catholic Church in Scotland will still exist in 50 years’ time.

“Five or ten years ago I wouldn’t have been so sure,” he says. “I’m not trying to play down the very real problems the Catholic Church has, but I do think there is now reason for optimism.”

Hood too says she is confident the Church of Scotland is capable of weathering the storm. “It’s part of our heritage – part of the life of Scotland. Can you imagine the country without its Kirk or a place for its Kirk?

“Things will happen; things will change. In 40 years’ time, it may not be a church in the way we recognise it today – but the Kirk has overcome a lot worse over the centuries; it will overcome this.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Dani Garavelli"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4580897.1507409002!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4580897.1507409002!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "A worshipper in St Giles' Cathedral, Edinburgh. Photograph: Neil Hanna","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "A worshipper in St Giles' Cathedral, Edinburgh. Photograph: Neil Hanna","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4580897.1507409002!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4580900.1507409010!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4580900.1507409010!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The Very Rev Dr Lorna Hood would like to see more children coming to church. Photograph: John Devlin","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The Very Rev Dr Lorna Hood would like to see more children coming to church. Photograph: John Devlin","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4580900.1507409010!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} , {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4580901.1507409015!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4580901.1507409015!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "A Messy Church event at Coldingham and St Abbs.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "A Messy Church event at Coldingham and St Abbs.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4580901.1507409015!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} , {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4580902.1507409019!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4580902.1507409019!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Mass with Bishop John Keenan and Father Joseph Burke by the Mercy Bus, at Paisley Cross Cenotaph. Photograph: Paul McSherry","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Mass with Bishop John Keenan and Father Joseph Burke by the Mercy Bus, at Paisley Cross Cenotaph. Photograph: Paul McSherry","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4580902.1507409019!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} , {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4580903.1507409022!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4580903.1507409022!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Former moderator of the Church of Scotland Albert Bogle. Photograph: Ian Georgeson","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Former moderator of the Church of Scotland Albert Bogle. Photograph: Ian Georgeson","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4580903.1507409022!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/police-criticised-after-man-found-dead-in-van-days-after-calls-1-4580084","id":"1.4580084","articleHeadline": "Police criticised after man found dead in van days after calls","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1507324374000 ,"articleLead": "

POLICE Scotland came under fresh criticism last night after the body of a man was found in his van by chance two days after a member of the public reported concerns about the vehicle to officers.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4580248.1507302847!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "David Penman was found dead in the van days after calls were first received by the Bilston Glen control room."} ,"articleBody": "

David Penman was found slumped in the driver’s seat of his van in a lay-by near Dunipace, Falkirk, on Thursday 15 December.

A post-mortem examination found he had succumbed to the effects of carbon monoxide poisoning, although it could not be established whether his death was accidental or deliberate.

In a report published yesterday, the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (Pirc) said there had been failings in the way Police Scotland responded to reports of concern from members of the public about Mr Penman’s vehicle.

The calls were taken by the control room at Bilston Glen, Midlothian, which was the subject of a major review following the deaths of Lamara Bell and John Yuill in July 2015.

The control room received a call about Mr Penman’s vehicle two days before his body was found.

A local resident who thought the van had been stolen said it had been parked in Old Northfield Road for three days.

But after a computer check established the vehicle was not stolen, a police officer in the control room decided officers were not required to attend and “closed” the incident.

• READ MORE: Police Scotland warn of ‘diminishing resources’

Another member of the public called the control room on Wednesday 14 December reporting similar concerns about the vehicle, but the report was linked to the previous incident and no further action was taken.

In her report, commissioner Kate Frame said officers should have been sent following each call.

It was only when a third call was made at 7am on Thursday 15 December about another vehicle – an HGV with foreign number plates – that officers were sent to investigate at about 11am.

They were unable to find that vehicle, but found Mr Penman’s van at about 11.50am and saw his body in the driver’s seat.

The Pirc said there were clear inconsistencies in how the police control room dealt with the three calls.

Ms Frame said: “It would be unrealistic to expect the police to investigate each report of an abandoned vehicle.

“However, in this case had the repeated concerns expressed by members of the public been acted on earlier, additional information would have been available which may have prompted officers to locate and search the van in the lay-by sooner.

“While it cannot be determined that if police had acted when the deceased’s vehicle was first reported, he would have been found alive, there are important lessons to be learned in how police deal with similar incidents.”

Mr Penman’s family said they would never know if an earlier police intervention would have saved his life.

In a statement issued through the Pirc, they said: “David was a loving father, son and brother and it has been very difficult for our family to come to terms with his death.

“We are aware of the Pirc report and its findings and we feel that it has provided us with some of the answers we were looking for.

“We will never know for sure whether David would still be alive if more prompt action had been taken initially but we are pleased to note the recommendations in the report. We hope that Police Scotland will take these recommendations on board and that valuable lessons have been learned.”

HM Inspectorate of Constabulary carried out a review into Bilston Glen following the deaths of Mr Yuill and Ms Bell in 2015. Police took three days to find the couple’s vehicle at the side of the M9 after an initial call from a member of the public was not properly logged at the Midlothian control room.

• READ MORE: Kenny MacAskill calls on Chief Constable Phil Gormley to quit

In July, fresh concerns were raised about Bilston Glen following a Pirc report into the death of vulnerable Edinburgh man Andrew Bow.

The 36-year-old’s body was found at his flat in March 2016. Officers were not sent to his home on four occasions when concerns were raised.

Commenting on the latest case, Scottish Conservative shadow justice secretary Liam Kerr said: “This is an appalling case which is frighteningly similar to the M9 tragedy.

“I know the Area Control Centre staff have been working hard to learn lessons since the SNP government mandated centralisation of control centres, but one tragedy is one too many.

“The leadership of Police Scotland needs to spend less time fighting with itself and more time giving support to hardworking officers and ACR staff who just want to get on with the job.

“This incident yet again calls into question the level of planning by the Scottish Government when it made the decision to close call handling centres across the country.

“It is yet another incident on the Justice Secretary’s watch and sooner or later he’ll have to step up and take responsibility.”

Assistant Chief Constable Nelson Telfer said: “Our thoughts remain with the family of Mr Penman and all those affected by his death.

“Following an internal review of this incident, discussions have taken place with Local Policing, C3 Division and Professional Standards and updated guidance has been issued to call handlers and area control room staff to ensure appropriate actions are taken when dealing with a report of an abandoned vehicle.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Police Scotland have made clear they will carefully consider the findings of the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner investigation, taking further action where necessary.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4580248.1507302847!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4580248.1507302847!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "David Penman was found dead in the van days after calls were first received by the Bilston Glen control room.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "David Penman was found dead in the van days after calls were first received by the Bilston Glen control room.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4580248.1507302847!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/controversial-william-wallace-statue-to-move-to-new-home-1-4580081","id":"1.4580081","articleHeadline": "Controversial William Wallace statue to move to new home","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1507305306000 ,"articleLead": "

A controversial sculpture of Scottish hero Wiliam Wallace has been moved to a site where he left English soldiers to die.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4580080.1507297103!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "editorial image"} ,"articleBody": "

The 13-foot statue carved by sculptor Tom Church depicts Mel Gibson’s portrayal as Wallace in the film Braveheart.

For ten years, it stood on display at the entrance to the Wallace Monument in Stirling - attracting scorn and compliments - before being returned to Church’s studio in Brechin in 2008.

READ MORE: William Wallace myths busted

Now 72, Church is downsizing his studio which meant the 12-ton statue needed a new home.

He told the Daily Record: “I couldn’t just get rid of it. It’s the most important piece I have created in my life. It is part of the family.”

It will now be moved to a new home in Ardrossan, Ayrshire.

During the Scottish Wars of Independence, Ardrossan Castle was held by the English. In 1296, Wallace led his army to the castle and laid seige to it.

According to legend, he threw the survivors into a vault in the castle’s cellar with the corpses of fallen soliders and and left them to starve to death.

The cellar become known as Wallace’s Larder.

Over the years, the statue has been the focus of vandals who have thrown paint on it and gauged on its face.

Alan Bell, director of the Scottish Centre for Personal Safety charity in Ardrossan, said: “There is a strong connection between Wallace and Ardrossan and I wanted to highlight this.

“We visited Tom and he agreed to give us the statue as a centrepiece.”

READ MORE: A brief history of William Wallace

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "RUSSELL JACKSON"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4580080.1507297103!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4580080.1507297103!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "editorial image","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "editorial image","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4580080.1507297103!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/jim-sillars-brands-nicola-sturgeon-out-of-her-depth-1-4579786","id":"1.4579786","articleHeadline": "Jim Sillars brands Nicola Sturgeon ‘out of her depth’","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1507289911000 ,"articleLead": "

Nicola Sturgeon has been branded \"out of her depth\" as SNP leader and lacking \"political nous\" by former party Deputy leader Jim Sillars.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4579803.1507285860!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "editorial image"} ,"articleBody": "

The former Govan MP accused Ms Sturgeon of a \"fundamental political misjudgement\" in pushing for a quickfire second independence referendum after the Brexit vote, blaming this for the party's heavy losses in this year's UK election.

He was writing in the Daily Record today and called for the independence movement in Scotland to extricate itself from the SNP - as it is too tied to the party's electoral fortunes.

Mr Sillars has always been an ardent critic of the EU, which said an independent Scotland would face a lengthy wait to join during the referendum three years ago. The Nationalist veteran has hit out at a motion in this weekend's SNP conference which praises Brussels.

• READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon compares Theresa May speech to Fawlty Towers


\"As long as the EU are there, denying Scots membership, we have fatal uncertainty injected into our debate,\" he said in today's article.

\"The independence movement must reconsider their relationship with the SNP, especially in light of the error-strewn course taken by leaders with no strategic nous, out of their depth.

\"They lunged into an exercise in monumental political misjudgement – the demand for a premature second referendum, leading to loss of majority at Holyrood and a near wipeout in the North East, Borders and Galloway in the Westminster election.\"

But a spokesman for the SNP pointed to Mr Sillars’ support for the left-wing RISE Coalition at the Holyrood election last year which was committed to a second independence referendum by 2021.

“Jim Sillars is contradicting himself – he backed an independence referendum at the last Holyrood election, before Brexit had even happened,” the spokesman said.

“And he now finds himself against the majority of Scottish opinion, which is firmly opposed to the Tories’ extreme Brexit plans and the damage they will cause.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "scott.macnab@scotsman.com" ,"author": "Scott Macnab"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4579803.1507285860!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4579803.1507285860!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "editorial image","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "editorial image","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4579803.1507285860!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/kenny-macaskill-calls-on-chief-constable-phil-gormley-to-quit-1-4579873","id":"1.4579873","articleHeadline": "Kenny MacAskill calls on Chief Constable Phil Gormley to quit","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1507286990000 ,"articleLead": "

Former justice secretary Kenny MacAskill has called on Police Scotland's chief constable to step down even if he is cleared of any wrongdoing.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4579872.1507285982!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Kenny MacAskill wants Phil Gormley to "go quietly""} ,"articleBody": "

Phil Gormley is currently on a leave of absence while the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (Pirc) examines three separate bullying complaints from colleagues.

A fourth complaint is currently being assessed by the Scottish Police Authority.

Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland, Mr MacAskill said Mr Gormley's position was now \"untenable\", adding that the chief was doing \"reputational damage\" to the force by staying on.

• READ MORE: Phil Gormley to stay on leave while bullying allegations investigated

He said: \"Natural justice dictates that some due process has to be gone through but the whole situation has become rather unedifying.

\"In any position, whether as a politician or a senior police officer, when you become the story, your position becomes untenable.\"

Commenting on the SPA's decision to extend Mr Gormley's period of leave, Mr MacAskill said there was currently \"no alternative\".

He added: \"This is the time where Mr Gormley should be reviewing his position and if he doesn't, someone should be having a word in his ear.

\"It has to be the new chair of the SPA, it has to be their call. Nothing has been proven. Mr Gormley has a long and distinguished career south of the border and actually did quite a good job stabilising the ship when he came here.\"

• READ MORE: Chief Constable Phil Gormley facing fourth complaint

Asked if Mr Gormley should go even if exonerated due to the perception created by the investigations into his conduct, Mr MacAskill said: \"Absolutely because I think there's reputational damage to the police. Whatever the outcome, even if the allegations are shown to be false or without substance, there has been damage to him and that's impacting on the reputation of the service.

\"For the good of the police service in Scotland, there needs to be stability at the top and there can't be while he is there. I would hope that he will be reflecting on his position and steps will be taken in due course to thank him for his service to date and begin a search for his successor.\"

" ,"byline": {"email": "chris.marshall@jpress.co.uk" ,"author": "Chris Marshall"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4579872.1507285982!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4579872.1507285982!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Kenny MacAskill wants Phil Gormley to "go quietly"","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Kenny MacAskill wants Phil Gormley to "go quietly"","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4579872.1507285982!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/msps-unanimously-back-plans-for-wild-animal-ban-at-circuses-1-4579735","id":"1.4579735","articleHeadline": "MSPs unanimously back plans for wild animal ban at circuses","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1507279104000 ,"articleLead": "

A ban on the use of wild ­animals in travelling circuses in Scotland has been backed unanimously by MSPs at ­Holyrood.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4579734.1507279112!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Nicola O'Brien, Campaigns Director at Captive Animals' Protection Society appearing at Holyrood. Picture: PA"} ,"articleBody": "

But circus industry leaders last night branded the legislation out of date, as there are no circuses left which visit Scotland with wild animals such as elephants, tigers and lions.

Even some of those MSPs who backed the Wild Animals in Travelling Circuses (Scotland) Bill warned it was vaguely worded, prompting claims it could lead to animal shows such as birds of prey displays and penguin parades becoming illegal.

This was rejected by Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham last night.

She said: “Most people now consider it outdated and morally wrong to make wild animals perform tricks that they would not perform naturally or to display them in an unnatural environment simply to entertain the viewing public.

“This is animals as entertainment commodity rather than as sentient beings.”

The legislation was also prompted after it emerged tigers were kept caged in Peterhead in the circus off-season.

But Martin Burton, chairman of the Association of Circus Proprietors of Great Britain, said: “If you read the legislation, the definition of a circus is very weak – but what was happening with the tigers near Peterhead was not a circus.

• READ MORE: MSPs urged to lead the UK with animal ban in circuses

“This legislation might well ban wild animals from circuses, but there are no circuses which come to Scotland with wild animals.”

Animals classed as domestic – such as horses – will still be allowed to be part of travelling circuses, such as Mr Burton’s Zippo’s Circus.

He said: “I come with horses and budgerigars. I love coming to Scotland, the Scottish people love to see my circus and we’ll be back there next summer.”

Some circuses south of the Border still perform with wild animals.

Tory and Labour MSPs last night raised concerns about the way the bill was drafted and claimed there was no definition of what a circus is.

Conservative MSP Donald Cameron said the bill could risk criminalising events which “have a good track record of animal welfare”, such as the presence of reindeer at Christmas markets.

And members of Holyrood’s environment committee warned the bill risks “capturing animal performances it had not intended to”.

The Bill was passed at Stage 1 by MSPs last night. It will come back before MSPs for a final vote later in the year before it becomes law.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "SCOTT MACNAB"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4579734.1507279112!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4579734.1507279112!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Nicola O'Brien, Campaigns Director at Captive Animals' Protection Society appearing at Holyrood. Picture: PA","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Nicola O'Brien, Campaigns Director at Captive Animals' Protection Society appearing at Holyrood. Picture: PA","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4579734.1507279112!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/heritage/people-places/hotel-developers-accused-of-holding-royal-high-hostage-1-4579634","id":"1.4579634","articleHeadline": "Hotel developers accused of holding Royal High ‘hostage’","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1507277436000 ,"articleLead": "

One of Edinburgh’s most prominent buildings is being “held hostage” by hotel developers who are “playing games” over its future, according to the charity trying to take over the world-famous landmark.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4579633.1507277446!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "An artists impression of the hotel plan for the Royal High. Picture: Contributed"} ,"articleBody": "

A trust hoping to convert the old Royal High School on Calton Hill into a music school and concert hall has urged politicians to intervene over the fate of the A-listed landmark as it launched a new campaign to win control of the building.

It has accused the firms behind the planned Rosewood hotel of trying to tie the city council and the building “in legal knots” and proving “incapable” of coming up with viable acceptable plans.

The Rosewood scheme was thrown into turmoil in August after it was unanimously rejected by councillors.

The Royal High School Development Trust, which won permission last year for a relocation of St Mary’s Music School to the site, said it could “start tomorrow” if politicians intervened over the fate of the 1829 building, which has been largely empty since 1968.

They have been urged to “take an active role” to break the “logjam” and demand the release of an agreement struck with the city council after the hotel concept won a design contest in 2010.

William Gray Muir, chair man of the trust, said: “The hotel developers’ contract with the council was entirely conditional on them getting planning consent for their scheme, and they fully took on the risk of getting that consent. But they have proved incapable of coming up with a viable scheme which would be acceptable in planning terms.

“Given the unanimous rejection of the hotel scheme and the very robust stance taken by all of the key statutory bodies the prospects of a successful appeal must be very remote. It seems the hotel developers are hoping to tie the council and the building in legal knots with no serious attempt to find an acceptable solution.”

“We want to urge our politicians to take an active role and break the logjam which seems to have caught the Royal High School. It simply isn’t acceptable that one of the great buildings of the Scottish Enlightenment should be held hostage.”

David Orr, chairman of Urbanist Hotels, one of the hotel developers, said: “Our scheme remains the only proposal that can realistically guarantee the future of the building – both architecturally and financially. Without it we’re facing a very real risk of another 50 years of decay and locked doors, which would be catastrophic for both the building and the city. We remain 100 per cent committed to delivering in line with our agreement.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4579633.1507277446!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4579633.1507277446!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "An artists impression of the hotel plan for the Royal High. Picture: Contributed","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "An artists impression of the hotel plan for the Royal High. Picture: Contributed","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4579633.1507277446!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/environment/cod-and-haddock-stocks-net-a-better-rating-in-green-guide-1-4579660","id":"1.4579660","articleHeadline": "Cod and haddock stocks net a better rating in green guide","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1507272539000 ,"articleLead": "

They have long been on the endangered list as marine experts have warned that overfishing has seen numbers plummet.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4579659.1507272547!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Scots cod is heading towards the coveted green eat rating. Picture: Getty Images"} ,"articleBody": "

But now fans of cod and chips can enjoy their favourite meal with less guilt as the new edition of the Good Fish Guide revealed that stocks of cod and haddock from Scottish waters have improved over the past 12 months and are heading towards the coveted green “eat” rating.

Cod from areas including the west of Scotland and the North Sea have moved from a number four to a three rating, which means they fall into the top end of the “don’t eat too often” category. Meanwhile, haddock has also improved from a number four rating to a three.

However, the annual report from the Marine Conservation Society warned that 
41 per cent of fish stocks in the north-east Atlantic and waters around the UK are still being overfished.

The guide has also seen improved ratings for Irish Sea cod, haddock and plaice and hand-lined pollack from the south west. Haddock from the Irish Sea is now a green-rated, “Best Choice” due to an improving spawning stock biomass and declining fishing mortality, and hand-lined pollack from the south-west is another “Best Choice” option – which the guide says is great news “as it’s a fantastic alternative to the go-to favourites of cod and haddock”.

Samuel Stone, head of fisheries and aquaculture at MCS said that cod and haddock had never been on the red “avoid” list. He added: “We’re very pleased to see increases in both the populations of North Sea cod and North Sea and West of Scotland haddock. Good management is certainly paying off, and if fishing mortality continues to reduce, we would expect to see these fisheries on the green list in the not-too-distant future.”

However, Edinburgh-based marine consultant Owen Stevens warned that the species is not yet out of the danger zone.

He said: “It’s encouraging that stocks are beginning to recover but really it’s early days. Not long ago they were near total collapse on the grand banks and elsewhere.”

Meanwhile, the guide improved its rating of sprat from the Baltic Sea by giving it a green rating, which means they are at their most sustainable for 20 years.

Bernadette Clarke, MCS Good Fish Guide manager said: “We should be eating more oily fish like sprat – not only are they good for our health but sprat from the Baltic is now an environmentally friendly choice too. Sprat are a really nutritious, yet affordable, fish choice.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Jane Bradley"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4579659.1507272547!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4579659.1507272547!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Scots cod is heading towards the coveted green eat rating. Picture: Getty Images","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Scots cod is heading towards the coveted green eat rating. Picture: Getty Images","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4579659.1507272547!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/children-shouldn-t-be-held-responsible-for-crimes-before-15-1-4579658","id":"1.4579658","articleHeadline": "Children ‘shouldn’t be held responsible for crimes before 15’","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1507272273000 ,"articleLead": "

The SNP’s plans to raise the age of criminal responsibility in Scotland from eight to 12 do not go far enough and will still leave the country lagging behind the rest of the world, Scotland’s Children’s Commissioner has said.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4579657.1507272282!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. Picture: PA"} ,"articleBody": "

Bruce Adamson said the Scottish Government must “go further, faster” on the issue, arguing that the age at which children could be held responsible for crimes should be set at around 15.

In her Programme for Government, Nicola Sturgeon said the SNP would bring forward a Minimum Age of Criminal Responsibility Bill over the next year, bringing Scotland “in line with international norms”.

However, the Children’s Commissioner said that raising the age to 12 merely moved Scotland from “absolutely last to jointly at the bottom” of the international table, with many other developed countries setting it significantly higher.

In 2008 the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child called on the UK to raise the age of criminal responsibility to at least 12. In England, Wales and Northern Ireland it is currently set at ten.

“I think [the Scottish Government] needs to go further, faster,” Mr Adamson said. “The UN committee was very clear...that 12 was the absolute minimum that was internationally acceptable.

“I’ve been spending time in some of the Nordic countries that we like to compare ourselves to, and generally they set theirs at about 15. I think it needs to be somewhere between 12 and 18.”

Mr Adamson said “you could argue” that the age of criminal responsibility should be as high as 18, but he did not have a “fixed view”. More than 40 countries set the age above 12, including Columbia, Brazil, Portugal, Sweden, Iceland and Norway.

“It strikes me as one of these things that is really strange, and really doesn’t sit with the many positive things in Scotland,” the Commissioner added.

“It doesn’t sit with where Scotland wants to be or sees itself. I think most people would be quite shocked to hear that we’re the lowest in the world still, and that 12, which the government is putting forward as a solution, still puts us the lowest in the world.

“We go from being absolutely last to jointly at the bottom. I think that probably would surprise a lot of people that we are so out of step.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "CHRIS GREEN"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4579657.1507272282!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4579657.1507272282!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. Picture: PA","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. Picture: PA","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4579657.1507272282!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/royal-mail-workers-to-stage-48-hour-strike-over-pay-and-jobs-1-4579646","id":"1.4579646","articleHeadline": "Royal Mail workers to stage 48-hour strike over pay and jobs","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1507271925000 ,"articleLead": "

Royal Mail workers are to stage a 48-hour strike in a “watershed” dispute over pensions, pay and jobs, prompting the threat of legal action by the postal group.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4579645.1507281255!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Royal Mail employees are to stage a 48-hour walkout over jobs and pay. Picture: Ian Rutherford"} ,"articleBody": "

Members of the Communication Workers Union will walk out at 11am on 19 October after voting overwhelmingly in favour of industrial action.

General secretary Dave Ward said: “This is a watershed dispute that will determine not only our members’ pensions, jobs and pay but also the future of the service.”

The Royal Mail said it was committed to hold talks with the union as a matter of urgency but said it will use all legal options at its disposal, including applying to the High Court for an injunction to prevent the action going ahead.

Mr Ward said: “Postal workers delivered a massive Yes vote for strike action and we are determined to take whatever steps are necessary to deliver an agreement that will protect and enhance our members’ terms and conditions and improve the range of services on offer to customers.

“As well as this call to action, the CWU will now launch a major campaign to gain public and political support for postal workers.

“This is your service. We must work together to save it.”

Royal Mail said it was “very disappointed” at the announcement, adding: “There are no grounds for industrial action. We want to reach agreement.

“Royal Mail will be writing to the CWU invoking the external mediation process under the dispute resolution procedures in the Agenda for Growth. These legally-binding dispute resolution procedures were set up as a vehicle to resolve industrial disputes. We wish to use them to do just that.

“In 2013, Royal Mail and the CWU committed to the Agenda for Growth – a legally binding agreement. This agreement contains contractual dispute resolution procedures.

“Both sides are required to follow them once instigated. They escalate to independent external mediation, which we expect will take close to Christmas to be completed, and may be longer. External mediation as set out in the Agenda for Growth agreement has not yet taken place.”

It will be the first strike at Royal Mail since the postal group was privatised. The CWU said its members in Parcelforce will be involved in the stoppage, which will be the first national postal strike since 2013.

A Royal Mail spokesman added: “We believe any strike action before the dispute resolution procedures have been followed would be unlawful strike action.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "ALAN JONES"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4579645.1507281255!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4579645.1507281255!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Royal Mail employees are to stage a 48-hour walkout over jobs and pay. Picture: Ian Rutherford","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Royal Mail employees are to stage a 48-hour walkout over jobs and pay. Picture: Ian Rutherford","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4579645.1507281255!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} ]}}} ]}