{"JP":[ {"NewsSection":{"name":"news","detaillevel":"full", "Articles": {"count":25,"detaillevel":"full","articlesList":[ {"article": { "url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/russia-researching-nerve-agents-for-assassinations-boris-johnson-claims-1-4707793","id":"1.4707793","articleHeadline": "Russia researching nerve agents for assassinations, Boris Johnson claims","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1521405330000 ,"articleLead": "

Russia has been researching nerve agents for use in targeted assassinations, and has manufactured and stockpiled chemical weapons in breach of international treaties, Boris Johnson claimed yesterday as the stand-off with Moscow continued to deepen.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4707792.1521375665!/image/image.png_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.png","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "editorial image"} ,"articleBody": "

The Foreign Secretary dismissed Russian claims that the UK’s chemical warfare research facility at Porton Down could have been the source of the nerve agent attack on a former Russian double agent in Salisbury as “satirical”.

Investigators from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) will visit the UK this week to take samples of novichok, the substance used to attack Sergei Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia, 33.

READ MORE: Russia spat could hit Scottish tourism, say business leaders

Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show yesterday, Mr Johnson said: “We actually have evidence within the last ten years that Russia has not only been investigating the delivery of nerve agents for the purpose of assassination, but has also been creating and stockpiling novichok.”

Rebutting Russian claims, he added: “It was not the response of a country that really believes it’s innocent, that really wants to engage in getting to the bottom of this matter.”

Russia’s ambassador to the European Union, Vladimir Chizhov, prompted a strong response when he suggested the poison may have come from the Porton Down laboratory, which is around eight miles from Salisbury.

He told the same programme that Russia had “nothing to do” with the incident, but his comments were rejected as “nonsense” by UK officials.

Sweden and the Czech Republic denied Russian suggestions they may have been the source of the nerve agent.

Meanwhile, SNP figures claimed yesterday that Russian trolls have launched a campaign of cyber attacks on Nicola Sturgeon after the First Minister condemned the country over the poisoning of the former spy.

Warning that online debate over Scotland constitutional future could be hijacked, SNP MEP Alyn Smith told a Scottish Sunday newspaper: “I’ve voiced concerns before about the conduct of discourse in Scotland, but I’m increasingly alarmed that the worst elements of Scottish discourse are not Scottish at all, but orchestrated from elsewhere.

“I do not want to see the Yes movement played by Putin. Some of the abuse that Nicola has had doesn’t look right. In the last couple of days a lot of the stuff doesn’t ring true.”

And the SNP MP Stephen Gethins said: “Having worked in the former Soviet Union, I’m under no pretence as to what Russia is capable of. It’s not something that would surprise me, as that is the way they have targeted human rights activists and journalists.”

Independent inspectors will arrive in the UK today to test the substance used in the attack, but the results will take at least two weeks to process.

Mr Johnson will travel to Brussels to brief foreign ministers from across the EU at a meeting today on the attempted assassinations before holding talks with Nato secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg.

And the National Security Council will meet early next week to discuss Moscow’s tit-for-tat response to the UK’s expulsion of 23 Russian diplomats.

Labour has faced intense criticism for its response to the attack after leaving open the possibility that Russia was being framed. But shadow chancellor John McDonnell said the Salisbury incident is “highly likely” to have been a state execution, and Russian president Vladimir Putin “is responsible” for the attack whether directly or through negligence.

He told ITV’s Peston on Sunday: “He is responsible whichever way you look at it; he is responsible and all the evidence points to him.”

He added: “We support exactly what the Prime Minister said and we condemn Russia for this, condemn them. I believe this is a pattern of behaviour we have seen.”

US media reported that Mr Skripal and his daughter may have been exposed to a deadly nerve agent through his car’s ventilation system.

ABC News said UK officials now have a clearer picture of how the attack was carried out and that the Skripals may have been exposed via his BMW’s ventilation system.

Scotland Yard would not comment on the ABC News report but UK counter-terrorism police have renewed their appeal for sightings of Mr Skripal’s burgundy BMW 320D car, registration HD09 WAO, in Salisbury on the morning of Sunday 4 March.

Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu said: “We are learning more about Sergei and Yulia’s movements but we need to be clearer around their exact movements on the morning of the incident.”

ABC also reported that intelligence officials said up to 38 individuals in Salisbury have been identified as having been affected by the nerve agent, but the full impact is still being assessed, and more victims affected by the agent are expected to be identified.

Meanwhile, a Sunday newspaper reported that Yulia Skripal’s boyfriend was a Russian secret service agent. The newspaper also said Ms Skripal had worked in the US Embassy in Moscow.

And an exiled Russian businessman facing charges of embezzling £520,000 told a Scottish paper that he fears for his life after fleeing to the Highlands.

Alexander Shapovalov, who will appear in court next month fighting an extradition bid to serve a ten-year prison sentence, is claiming political asylum and said: “That is why I ran away, to save my life.”

Counter-terrorism officers from the Met launched a murder investigation on Friday into the death of exiled Russian businessman Nikolai Glushkov after a post-mortem examination suggested he had been strangled. Mr Glushkov, a critic of Vladimir Putin, was found dead last Monday.

READ MORE: John McKendrick: Darien colony failure has lessons for Russia stand-off

" ,"byline": {"email": "paris.gourtsoyannis@jpress.co.uk" ,"author": "Paris Gourtsoyannis"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4707792.1521375665!/image/image.png_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.png","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4707792.1521375665!/image/image.png_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.png","alt": "editorial image","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "editorial image","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4707792.1521375665!/image/image.png_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.png","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"5752726847001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/ruth-davidson-calls-for-ban-on-rt-propaganda-1-4707800","id":"1.4707800","articleHeadline": "Ruth Davidson calls for ban on RT \"propaganda\"","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1521376788935 ,"articleLead": "Ruth Davidson has called for Russia Today (RT), the network that broadcasts Alex Salmond's television programme, to be banned in the UK as the SNP faced further pressure over its response to the former First Minister's position.","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4707799.1521376898!/image/image.png_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.png","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "editorial image"} ,"articleBody": "

The Scottish Conservative leader said RT was peddling "soft-sell propaganda" in a bid to "poison our public discourse" and called for a crackdown.

Regulator Ofcom is reviewing whether RT remains 'fit and proper' to hold a UK broadcast license in light of the government's claim that the Russian government, which funds the station, is "culpable" for the nerve agent attack in Salisbury.

In an article for the Sunday Telegraph, Ms Davidson writes: "Russia Today, the state-owned, UK-based channel described the claims of a Russian link to the Salisbury attack as 'fanciful'.

"On Russian state TV, it was suggested that Britain deliberately arranged the attack in order to stoke 'Russophobia'. It is we, not Russia, who are guilty of spreading propaganda in the wake of the attacks, declares their foreign ministry, as part of an 'anti-Russian campaign'.

READ MORE: Euan McColm: Alex Salmond TV’s hard viewing after Salisbury watershed

"The tactics are familiar: hard evidence is dismissed as a political smear. Absurd conspiracies are put forward to stoke a wider nationalist narrative; that Russia is under attack from arrogant Western elites, hell bent on humiliating the Russian bear."

Ms Davidson goes on: "Even as victims lie gasping for their lives in a hospital bed in England, truth is bent beyond recognition. Russia is industrialising false information: less an Iron Curtain these days than a web of lies.

"Exploiting the very virtues we uphold - of free expression and freedom of speech - the purpose is to further corrode trust in our public realm, and weaken our society.

"So, beyond the necessary sanctions proposed by the Prime Minister this week in response to the Salisbury attack, there is also a wider response necessary. We must reject any attempt to draw moral equivalence between Britain's vigorous free media, and the highly polished counterfeit versions that Russia is promoting.

"Firstly, that means cracking down on Russia's ability to broadcast falsehoods in this country - by, for example, tougher regulation of the soft-sell propaganda of Russian Today and its Sputnik offshoot.

"That Alex Salmond, the former Scottish first minister, continues to act as a frontman for RT is a shameful stain on his reputation. I hope we can soon pull the plug on it."

Appearing on ITV's Peston on Sunday programme, the SNP's Westminster leader insisted Mr Salmond was a "private citizen" and refused to criticize the former nationalist leader, but made a point of highlighting the lack of press freedom in Russia, saying: "We couldn't have this conversation if we were on Russian television".

Asked whether Mr Salmond's producer and co-host, the former SNP MP Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh, should remain on the party's national executive committee as equalities convener, Mr Blackford said the position was elected and unpaid, but highlighted abuses of human rights in Russia.

Mr Blackford called for further financial sanctions on the Russian government and its associates, including a crackdown on Scottish Limited Partnerships—shell companies that have seen millions of pounds from the former Soviet countries laundered using Scottish addresses. He called the Salisbury attack "effectively an act of state terrorism".

In her article, Ms Davidson goes on to call for greater protections for free speech in the UK, arguing that proposals to force British newspapers that do not sign up to a new state-approved regulator to pay the costs of complainants in data protection cases would be "disastrous".

"They wouldn't be able to pay, so, most likely, editors would simply drop investigations, for fear of being taken to court," she says. "They might feel compelled to print apologies even when they had written something correct."

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon urged to take action over SNP NEC member’s role on Salmond show

" ,"byline": {"email": "paris.gourtsoyannis@jpress.co.uk" ,"author": "Paris Gourtsoyannis"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4707799.1521376898!/image/image.png_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.png","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4707799.1521376898!/image/image.png_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.png","alt": "editorial image","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "editorial image","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4707799.1521376898!/image/image.png_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.png","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/scots-firms-being-used-to-launder-dirty-money-from-russia-1-4707992","id":"1.4707992","articleHeadline": "Scots firms ‘being used to launder dirty money from Russia’","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1521410644000 ,"articleLead": "

Prime Minister Theresa May has been warned she must take action over controversial Scottish shell companies used to funnel hundreds of millions of pounds out of former Soviet countries in the wake of the nerve agent attack blamed on Vladimir Putin’s government.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4707990.1521410639!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Ian Blackford appearing on Peston on Sunday. Picture: ITV"} ,"articleBody": "

Prime Minister Theresa May has been warned she must take action over controversial Scottish shell companies used to funnel hundreds of millions of pounds out of former Soviet countries in the wake of the nerve agent attack blamed on Vladimir Putin’s government.

Scottish Limited Partnerships have been condemned as a legal means to facilitate organised crime, money laundering and tax evasion, with thousands set up using ordinary addresses in Scotland through 100-year-old legislation.

READ MORE: Russia researching nerve agents for assassinations, Boris Johnson claims

Demands for financial penalties on Russia in the wake of the Salisbury attack have focused on the so-called Magnitsky Amendment, seeking restrictions on individuals suspected of human rights abuses.

However, SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford said SLPs could no longer be ignored as scrutiny falls on wealthy Russians sheltering their assets in the UK.

The call came as Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson faced embarrassment after admitting that he played a game of tennis with the wife of a former Russian minister who donated £160,000 to the Conservatives.

READ MORE: ‘Kremlin trolls target Nicola Sturgeon’ after Russia criticism

Lubov Chernukhin – a long-standing donor – bid for the game at a fundraising auction at a Tory event. The match took place in 2014, when Mr Johnson was mayor of London.

Mr Johnson said yesterday there should not be a “miasma of suspicion on all Russians” and insisted the donation was “not a matter for me”.

In presidential elections yesterday, Mr Putin secured a landslide victory, but turnout fell on 2012 numbers in an election that featured no major opposition candidates.

Mr Blackford has written to the Prime Minister calling on her to bring together party leaders and impose new restrictions on SLPs, which are operated under financial regulations reserved to Westminster.

He told The Scotsman: “Now is the time for the UK government to show that it is serious and finally take the tough action needed.”

One SLP registered in Glasgow was used to transfer £160 million out of Russia last year. A network of 21 SLPs was involved in a billion-dollar fraud that siphoned money worth more than a tenth of Moldova’s GDP from the former Soviet republic’s banks.

While SLPs and most of their users are legal, they have been linked to drug trafficking, child pornography and mercenary organisations operating in the Ukraine.

Mr Blackford said the flow of money “must be stopped”. He said: “The UK government has acted as a roadblock to reforms in recent years. They prevented our attempts to introduce effective Magnitsky legislation, and blocked SNP amendments on tackling the use of SLPs to funnel millions of pounds in dirty money.

“We must take strong and robust action to protect our national security, and tackle these corrupt and criminal activities.”

Asked about the donation from Mrs Chernukhin –now a British citizen whose husband served under Mr Putin as a finance minister until 2004 –Mr Johnson admitted that he had played a tennis match in exchange for the £160,000.

Mrs Chernukhin is also understood to be the donor who paid £20,000 earlier this year to have dinner with Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson. The dinner has not yet taken place.

Mr Johnson told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show: “Unless and until evidence is produced against individual Russians, I do not think the entire nation should be calumnified.

“There are many Russians who have come to this country, made their lives here and contributed magnificently to our culture and our society. They feel threatened … it is very important that we do not allow a miasma of suspicion about all Russians in London.”

He added: “It is quite extraordinary at a time when you have two people lying gravely ill in hospital in Salisbury, when a police officer is still not out of hospital, for the fire somehow to be turned on Conservative Party funding. To the best of my knowledge all possible checks have been made and they will continue to be made.”

Labour said Mr Johnson and the Conservative Party had “serious questions to answer” about donations from sources linked to the Kremlin.

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell has suggested a package of measures to make up an “oligarch levy”, including new taxes on offshore property purchases and powers to confiscate illegal “unexplained wealth”.

Shadow Cabinet Office minister Jon Trickett said: “We know the Tories have taken more than £3m in Russian-linked donations since 2010, including £800,000 under Theresa May’s leadership, but we don’t know the nature of all those funds. The Conservative Party can’t remain silent any longer, the public have a right to know what checks if any they made to establish the source of all the wealth amassed by their donors.”

Conservative spokespeople have insisted all donations comply with electoral law.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4707990.1521410639!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4707990.1521410639!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Ian Blackford appearing on Peston on Sunday. Picture: ITV","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Ian Blackford appearing on Peston on Sunday. Picture: ITV","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4707990.1521410639!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"5752726847001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/douglas-ross-i-get-more-abuse-as-tory-than-linesman-1-4707975","id":"1.4707975","articleHeadline": "Douglas Ross: I get more abuse as Tory than linesman","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1521408015000 ,"articleLead": "

Douglas Ross has said he receives more online abuse for being a Conservative MP than for being a football linesman.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4707974.1521408012!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Rangers manager Mark Warburton (centre) speaks with Douglas Ross MP in his role as linesman. Picture: SNS"} ,"articleBody": "

The Moray MP was at the centre of controversy last week when he was filmed shouting “red card” at referee Willie Collum to help ensure the sending-off of Celtic defender Jozo Simunovic in a match against Rangers.

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers questioned the actions of Mr Ross, saying: “The linesman couldn’t wait to give it and that’s not his job. His job is to assist in the decision, not to make it.”

But Mr Ross, 34, said he was shouting to be heard above the roar of the Ibrox crowd on Sunday – and revealed his email inbox and social media feeds were packed with “feedback” from fans before he left Glasgow.

His hopes of representing Scotland at this year’s World Cup were crushed after his decision to miss a vote in the House of Commons to officiate at a European tie was heavily criticised.

Mr Ross said the episode was “bruising” and revealed he knew as he stepped on to the pitch at the Camp Nou in Barcelona to run the line at a Champions League qualifier that his dream of getting to Russia this summer was over.

However, the referee revealed he is hopeful he can in the future resume officiating at top European and international games – but only when the House of Commons is in recess.

Mr Ross said: “I now get more online abuse for being a Tory MP than an assistant ­referee – well, perhaps with the exception of some of the big matches.

“With the Old Firm match last weekend, there was a definite spike in traffic or feedback you might call it – but it tended to be along the lines of ‘You’re an idiot’ rather than anything more sinister.

“Quite a few emails, a lot of Facebook messages and a lot of tweets, and that was before I had even left Glasgow to head home after the game.

“I used to get really wound up by comments on social media, either for the football or politics, but I am never going to convince these people so there’s no point.

“The only thing I would say is I have a duty of care to my staff. They have to read these messages and field the calls, so sometimes I worry about them.”

Last October Mr Ross was at the centre of a media storm when he missed a vote on Universal Credit to be an assistant referee at a Champions League match between Barcelona and Olympiakos in Spain.

SNP MP John Mcnally raised the issue in the Commons, even brandishing a red card, and Prime Minister Theresa May was forced to defend Mr Ross against charges he was more interested in his hobby than his constituents.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4707974.1521408012!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4707974.1521408012!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Rangers manager Mark Warburton (centre) speaks with Douglas Ross MP in his role as linesman. Picture: SNS","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Rangers manager Mark Warburton (centre) speaks with Douglas Ross MP in his role as linesman. Picture: SNS","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4707974.1521408012!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/pressure-on-facebook-after-uk-firm-harvests-50m-accounts-1-4707962","id":"1.4707962","articleHeadline": "Pressure on Facebook after UK firm ‘harvests’ 50m accounts","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1521406142000 ,"articleLead": "

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is facing calls to appear before MPs amid allegations a British data firm “harvested” 50 million user profiles.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4702575.1521406134!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Around 50 million Facebook accounts are thought to have been hacked. Picture: John Devlin"} ,"articleBody": "

Whistleblower Chris Wylie, a former research director at Cambridge Analytica, said the firm obtained the mostly American Facebook profiles in 2014 while attempting to build a system which could influence voters.

The data was collected using an app called thisisyourdigitallife, which was built by Cambridge University academic Aleksandr Kogan and his company Global Science Research (GSR).

Following details published in The New York Times and The Observer, the chief executive of Cambridge Analytica, Alexander Nix, was yesterday accused of “deliberately misleading” parliament when he appeared before MPs last month.

Damian Collins, chairman of the digital, culture, media and sport committee, said it was clear Mr Nix had given “false statements” to MPs.

According to Mr Wylie, Cambridge Analytica, a firm previously linked to former White House strategist Steve Bannon, used personal information taken without authorisation in early 2014 to build a 
system that could profile 
individual US voters in order to target them with personalised political advertisements.

Facebook said that, despite assurances at the time this was discovered in 2015 that the data had been destroyed, the company was informed in recent days that this had not happened.

Mr Collins said Mr Nix had denied to the committee that his company had received any data from GSR, adding: “From the evidence that has been published by The Guardian and The Observer this weekend, it seems clear that he has deliberately misled the committee and parliament by giving false statements.

“We will be contacting Alexander Nix next week asking him to explain his comments and answer further questions relating to the links between GSR and Cambridge Analytica, and its associate companies.”

He added: “I will be writing to Mark Zuckerberg asking that either he, or another senior executive from the company, appear to give evidence in front of the committee as part our inquiry.

“Someone has to take responsibility for this. It’s time for Mark Zuckerberg to stop hiding behind his Facebook page.”

Facebook said Dr Kogan, Cambridge Analytica, parent company Strategic Communication Laboratories and Mr Wylie’s accounts would all be suspended “pending further information”.

In a response to its suspension, Cambridge Analytica said it fully complied with Facebook’s terms of 

It added: “No data from GSR was used by Cambridge 
Analytica as part of the services it provided to the Donald Trump 2016 presidential campaign.

“Cambridge Analytica only receives and uses data that has been obtained legally and fairly. Our robust data protection policies comply with US, international, European Union and national regulations.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4702575.1521406134!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4702575.1521406134!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Around 50 million Facebook accounts are thought to have been hacked. Picture: John Devlin","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Around 50 million Facebook accounts are thought to have been hacked. Picture: John Devlin","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4702575.1521406134!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4707961.1521406138!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4707961.1521406138!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Damian Collins urged Mark Zuckenberg to provide answers. Pic: Kirsty O'Connor/PA Wire","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Damian Collins urged Mark Zuckenberg to provide answers. Pic: Kirsty O'Connor/PA Wire","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4707961.1521406138!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/uk/sergei-skripal-exposed-to-nerve-agent-through-car-vents-reports-1-4707852","id":"1.4707852","articleHeadline": "Sergei Skripal exposed to nerve agent through car vents - reports","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1521389212000 ,"articleLead": "

Former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia may have been exposed to a deadly nerve agent through his car’s ventilation system, US media has reported.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4703672.1521389324!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Former Russian military intelligence colonel Sergei Skripal had been living in Britain since a high-profile spy swap in 2010. Picture: Getty Images"} ,"articleBody": "

The pair are still fighting for their lives after being exposed to Novichok in Salisbury two weeks ago.

ABC News is reporting that intelligence officials said the nature of the substance, described as “dusty”, is now clear.

READ MORE: ‘Kremlin trolls target Nicola Sturgeon’ after Russia criticism

The US news outlet said UK officials now have a clearer picture of how the attack was carried out and that the Skripals may have been exposed to the substance through his BMW’s ventilation system.

The development comes as counter-terrorism police renewed their appeal for sightings of Mr Skripal’s burgundy BMW 320D saloon car, registration HD09 WAO, in Salisbury on the morning of Sunday March 4.

Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu said: “We are learning more about Sergei and Yulia’s movements but we need to be clearer around their exact movements on the morning of the incident.”

Scotland Yard would not comment on the ABC News report.

READ MORE: Russia expels 23 British diplomats as stand-off intensifies

ABC also reported that intelligence officials said that up to 38 individuals in Salisbury have been identified as having been affected by the nerve agent, but the full impact is still being assessed, and more victims sickened by the agent are expected to be identified.

This is not the first time the US media has reported updates from intelligence officials about incidents in the UK.

British police temporarily suspended intelligence-sharing with the US in the wake of the Manchester Arena bombing last May following a series of leaks to American media.

CBS disclosed the name of the bomber, Salman Abedi, citing US sources, at a time when the British authorities were asking media to withhold the information to protect the investigation.

The New York Times then published detailed photographs taken from the bomb scene which had been taken by British investigators.

Meanwhile, The Sun on Sunday reported that Yulia Skripal’s boyfriend was a Russian secret service agent.

The newspaper also said that Ms Skripal had worked in the US Embassy in Moscow.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4703672.1521389324!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4703672.1521389324!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Former Russian military intelligence colonel Sergei Skripal had been living in Britain since a high-profile spy swap in 2010. Picture: Getty Images","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Former Russian military intelligence colonel Sergei Skripal had been living in Britain since a high-profile spy swap in 2010. Picture: Getty Images","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4703672.1521389324!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/euan-mccolm-alex-salmond-tv-s-hard-viewing-after-salisbury-watershed-1-4707736","id":"1.4707736","articleHeadline": "Euan McColm: Alex Salmond TV’s hard viewing after Salisbury watershed","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1521387327000 ,"articleLead": "

Politicians frequently complain that this or that subject is more important than politics.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4707735.1521387322!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The former first minister on Russia Today, the propaganda arm of the Kremlin, on which he said he enjoyed full editorial independence"} ,"articleBody": "

Usually, this is a line trotted out to avoid discussing a difficult matter – failings in the health service, say, or falling standards in schools.

But, occasionally, what they say is true. Some issues really are too important to play politics with.

To her credit, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon recognised last week that the poisoning of a former Russia spy and his daughter in Salisbury is one such case. This is a national security issue affecting the entirety of the United Kingdom and Sturgeon was the stateswoman the moment demanded.

Nicola Sturgeon urged to take action over SNP NEC member’s role on Salmond show

After Prime Minister Theresa May announced that Russia was being held responsible for the nerve agent attack on 66-year-old Sergei Skripal and his 33-year-old daughter, Yulia, and that 23 of Vladimir Putin’s diplomats were being expelled from the UK, the First Minister spoke to the media. And she had no interest in “playing politics” with the issue.

Sturgeon fully condemned Russia over the outrage and offered her full support to the PM. It was very clear, added the First Minister, that Russia could not be permitted to kill or attempt to kill people on the streets of the UK with impunity.

This will have come as a huge relief to those who grow weary with the SNP’s usual tactic of making any and every issue about the failure of the UK. There are many among the SNP’s supporters who would have been perfectly happy to hear the FM say the attack was a “chickens coming home to roost” scenario. Fortunately, Sturgeon was to disappoint them.

But while the First Minister may have promptly marched her party to the right side of these bleak developments, the SNP still stands to be damaged by them.

As is increasingly the case these days, responsibility for damage to the Scottish nationalists’ cause lies with its former leader, and Sturgeon’s predecessor as first minister, Alex Salmond.

While Sturgeon faced the cameras, supporting the PM, Salmond was preparing for the latest edition of his weekly political chat show on the Kremlin-funded propaganda channel, Russia Today – or RT as it now brands itself.

As Sturgeon stood up for the values we share across these islands, Salmond bent the knee to Moscow, parroting the line that RT was a perfectly legitimate broadcaster and insisting that he was free to say whatever he wanted during his half-hourly programme.

The matter of Salmond’s editorial independence (which doesn’t stretch to the news “ticker tape” that runs across the bottom of the screen, pumping out pro-Russian propaganda during every programme) is a mere detail in a far bigger picture, one that shows the former first minister as, at best, a dupe, a useful idiot.

RT is funded by the Russian State with the twin objectives of peddling the Kremlin line on sundry matters and undermining the positions of western governments. It is not a broadcaster in the style of the BBC but President Vladimir Putin’s personal department of (mis)information.

Asked about Salmond’s continued involvement with RT, Sturgeon said she had not changed her previously declared view that her former boss should not be working for it. But Alex is a private citizen, you see, so there’s not much more she could say or do…

This is a problematic position. Yes, it is true that ex-politician Salmond is no longer an elected representative, but to suggest that he is now little more than a bloke in the street is a nonsense.

Salmond is – and will remain until someone leads the nationalists to a referendum victory – the most famous and influential figure in the SNP’s history. The party would not be where it is now, enjoying a third term in government at Holyrood, without the work he did after returning in 2004 for a second stint as leader. Sturgeon would not be First Minister without Salmond.

Among those closest to Sturgeon, anger at Salmond’s continued association with RT is palpable. He is, says one senior nationalist, a “f***ing disgrace”.

There’s anger, too, at the role of Salmond’s business partner, Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh, who produces his grubby little RT show. She may have lost her Westminster seat in last year’s general election but she remains a national office bearer with the SNP. As Convener for Women and Equalities, she sits on the party’s national executive. She is most assuredly not merely a private citizen when it comes to the SNP.

Wise heads at the top of the SNP say that Ahmed-Sheikh cannot continue to be an office bearer while also working for the Russians. As one SNP politician put it to me “Russia? Equality? You’re having a laugh.”

The chemical attack in Salisbury is an agenda-changing moment. Serious politicians from across the spectrum are united in condemnation of an act of barbarity.

Against this backdrop, Salmond is no longer the SNP’s greatest hope, he is the source of its continued embarrassment.

The former first minister may not take dictation from the Kremlin before each show but, then, he doesn’t have to. His appearance on RT helps create a veneer of respectability to an organisation that isn’t about truth but about twisting reality to suit Putin’s objectives.

The incident in Salisbury could just as easily have taken place in Perth or St Andrews. Scotland is not immune from this sort of outrage. While Sturgeon clearly grasps this, Salmond either doesn’t or does but doesn’t care.

The SNP can safely bank on the support of those who view Salmond as great political leader. Those who answered his call to support Scottish independence remain steadfast.

But others – including some of those the SNP must persuade to change their minds if a future referendum is to be won – will surely look at his behaviour and wonder whether the SNP is the great progressive, moral force it claims to be.

Alex Salmond may be a “private citizen”, but his continued employment by RT isn’t good for either his party or his country.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Euan McColm"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4707735.1521387322!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4707735.1521387322!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The former first minister on Russia Today, the propaganda arm of the Kremlin, on which he said he enjoyed full editorial independence","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The former first minister on Russia Today, the propaganda arm of the Kremlin, on which he said he enjoyed full editorial independence","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4707735.1521387322!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"5752726847001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/anas-sarwar-calls-for-action-after-labour-colleague-s-burka-slur-1-4707839","id":"1.4707839","articleHeadline": "Anas Sarwar calls for action after Labour colleague’s ‘burka’ slur","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1521384503000 ,"articleLead": "

Anas Sarwar has urged Labour to “make a decision” on a party member who made an Islamophobic comment about the transport minister.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4692349.1521384498!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Anas Sarwar urged the Scottish Labour party to make a decision on Jim Dempster. Picture: John Devlin"} ,"articleBody": "

Dumfries and Galloway councillor Jim Dempster has been suspended from the party pending an investigation into his remark about Humza Yousaf.

Mr Dempster reportedly said that if Mr Yousaf had visited the region, “he may have been at Springholm but no-one would have seen him under his burka”.

READ MORE: Humza Yousaf calls on Labour councillor to resign after burka slur

Speaking on the BBC’s Sunday Politics Scotland, Labour MSP Mr Sarwar said: “Dinosaurs make crass, stupid, offensive, unacceptable remarks.

“It’s right he apologises. It’s right that Labour has suspended him but I think the Labour Party has got to make a decision in the long-term based upon on how we want to reflect in terms of society, whether he’s truly remorseful or not.

“It’s one thing after an incident saying you are sorry, but it’s about changing yourself and changing your behaviour and how that reflects on wider society.”

He added: “I think the Labour Party’s got to make a decision, and got to take one very quickly.”

READ MORE: Former SNP councillor convicted over racist texts

Mr Sarwar appeared on the programme with Mr Yousaf to discuss the racism and Islamophobia they have both experienced, including death threats.

The transport minister has called for Mr Dempster to resign and refused to accept an apology the councillor offered for his remark.

Speaking about his own experience of racism and Islamophobia, Mr Sarwar said: “People will send threats about burning down my offices, which obviously has an impact on my staff. Targeting me, targeting my family.

“Questioning my loyalty to Scotland, questioning my loyalty to the UK. Saying that I’m part of some undercover mission to impose Sharia law on Scotland or the UK. Questioning whether we belong.”

Mr Yousaf said he had faced similar abuse.

Mr Sarwar is heading a campaign to tackle everyday racism and has drawn up an eight-point plan to about how his party can deal with the issue.

Davie McLachlan, former leader of the Labour group on South Lanarkshire Council, was suspended by Scottish Labour in January pending an investigation after allegedly making a racist remark about Mr Sarwar, which he denies.

Last month, Labour MP Hugh Gaffney apologised for using “deeply offensive” language during a Burns Supper speech.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "LAURA PATERSON"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4692349.1521384498!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4692349.1521384498!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Anas Sarwar urged the Scottish Labour party to make a decision on Jim Dempster. Picture: John Devlin","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Anas Sarwar urged the Scottish Labour party to make a decision on Jim Dempster. Picture: John Devlin","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4692349.1521384498!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"5734512594001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/holyrood-considers-power-to-sack-msps-after-mark-mcdonald-case-1-4707827","id":"1.4707827","articleHeadline": "Holyrood considers power to sack MSPs after Mark McDonald case","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1521383015000 ,"articleLead": "

Legislation allowing voters to ‘sack’ their MSPs will be introduced following the outcry over sexual harassment by the former minister Mark McDonald, it has been revealed.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4689079.1521387100!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Mark McDonald, former Aberdeen Donside MSP, resigned as children's minister last year and quit the SNP last week after an internal inquiry found he sent 'inappropriate and unwanted text messages' to female staff."} ,"articleBody": "

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said he would bring forward a private members’ bill to introduce a power to recall MSPs, matching a similar procedure introduced at Westminster in 2015.

Voters would get the chance to force an MSP to face a snap by-election if there is support from between ten and 20% constituents.

Mr Rennie said he would raise the proposal with other party leaders at Holyrood this week. It follows anger at the lack of sanctions for Mr McDonald, the Aberdeen Donside MSP, who resigned as children’s minister last year and quit the SNP last week after an internal inquiry found he sent “inappropriate and unwanted text messages” and “exploited his position of power” over female staff.

However, there is no means to force Mr McDonald to stand down from his £62,000 a year job as an MSP. Claims that he subjected a member of staff working for SNP MSP James Dornan to “harassment and sexual innuendo” could lead to his suspension by the Holyrood Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee.

Mr Rennie told the Mail on Sunday: “Action is required as it is unacceptable for Mark McDonald to continue as an MSP. I am hopeful MSPs of all parties would back this plan.”

In 2013, when the former nationalist MSP Bill Walker initially refused to stand down despite a conviction for domestic abuse, Mr McDonald joined calls from parliamentarians for him to go.

The proposal has already gained broad cross-party support. A Scottish Labour Party spokesman said: “Mark McDonald’s behaviour has clearly been unacceptable and he should stand down.

“We support the principle of recall and will work with other parties to see how it could work in practice. Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard would be happy to meet Willie Rennie to discuss his plans.”

A Scottish Tory spokesman said: “If the last few weeks have taught us anything, it’s that a system needs to be created to ensure this doesn’t happen again. But if a system of recall is pursued, we have to be extremely careful about the circumstances under which this can activated.”

The Scottish Greens said they would wait for the outcome of a probe by the Commissioner for Ethical Standards in Public Life in Scotland before deciding whether to support a Recall Bill.

A Scottish Government spokesman said Mr Rennie’s proposal would be for parliament to decide.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4689079.1521387100!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4689079.1521387100!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Mark McDonald, former Aberdeen Donside MSP, resigned as children's minister last year and quit the SNP last week after an internal inquiry found he sent 'inappropriate and unwanted text messages' to female staff.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Mark McDonald, former Aberdeen Donside MSP, resigned as children's minister last year and quit the SNP last week after an internal inquiry found he sent 'inappropriate and unwanted text messages' to female staff.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4689079.1521387100!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/kremlin-trolls-target-nicola-sturgeon-after-russia-criticism-1-4707798","id":"1.4707798","articleHeadline": "‘Kremlin trolls target Nicola Sturgeon’ after Russia criticism","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1521376258000 ,"articleLead": "

Russian trolls have launched a campaign of cyber attacks on Nicola Sturgeon after the Scottish First Minister condemned the country over the poisoning of a former spy, it has been claimed.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4707796.1521386467!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Nicola Sturgeon criticised Russia over their alleged involvement in the poisioning of a former spy. Picture: SWNS"} ,"articleBody": "

READ MORE - Nicola Sturgeon hits out at Russia over ‘highly likely’ poisoning

Last week, the SNP leader gave her backing to Theresa May after the Prime Minister called the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury a “indiscriminate and reckless act against the United Kingdom”.

Sturgeon tweeted that a “firm response” was required and “Russia simply cannot be allowed to launch attacks on our streets with impunity”.

Her backing of the Conservatives leader led to criticism on social media with some Scottish independence supporters accusing her of cosying up to a political rival.

However, the party believe that a number of those sending angry messages on Twitter aren’t actually nationalist supporters but instead trolls acting on behalf of the Kremlin and Russian president Vladimir Putin.

Stephen Gethins, the SNP’s international affairs spokesman at Westminster, told the Sunday Herald: “Having worked in the former Soviet Union, I’m under no pretence as to what Russia is capable of. It’s not something that would surprise me as that is the way they have targeted human rights activists and journalists.

“In terms of human rights activists, journalists and politicians, Russia is one of the most dangerous places to be.

The North East Fife MP spoke out following comments made by SNP MEP Alyn Smith.

Mr Smith believes it is likely the Kremlin was targeting the party’s politicians after Nicola Sturgeon tweeted that “Russia’s action would not be tolerated.”

He said: “I know what Scottish abuse sounds like and some of the abuse I have received lately has been in poor English, in sentences constructed poorly with insults that are used in a way that no Scot would use.

“I’ve voiced concerns before about the conduct of discourse in Scotland, but I’m increasingly alarmed that the worst elements of Scottish discourse are not Scottish at all, but orchestrated from elsewhere.

“I do not want to see the Yes movement played by Putin. Some of the abuse that Nicola has had doesn’t look right. In the last couple of days a lot of the stuff doesn’t ring true.”

READ MORE - Russia researching nerve agents for assassinations, Boris Johnson claims

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "CRAIG FORBES"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4707796.1521386467!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4707796.1521386467!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Nicola Sturgeon criticised Russia over their alleged involvement in the poisioning of a former spy. Picture: SWNS","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Nicola Sturgeon criticised Russia over their alleged involvement in the poisioning of a former spy. Picture: SWNS","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4707796.1521386467!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"5750315203001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/lifestyle/culture/theatre/insight-the-impact-of-scottish-youth-theatre-s-funding-crisis-1-4707738","id":"1.4707738","articleHeadline": "Insight: The impact of Scottish Youth Theatre’s funding crisis","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1521360034000 ,"articleLead": "

At Scottish Youth Theatre (SYT) headquarters in Glasgow, Harriet Rafferty, 23, swooshes a jellyfish (an umbrella with plastic bag tentacles) through the air towards a small boat (the top of a flask with some pegs and a paper sail) bobbing along the sea (a blue sleeping bag).

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4707737.1521360030!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Picture: John Devlin"} ,"articleBody": "

This is Tentpole Theatre’s last day of rehearsals before they unveil their first ever production to an audience which they hope will include professionals from respected children’s companies such as Imaginate; but they manage to keep their nerves in check as they use mime and puppets to transform the small studio into a gusty seafront.

The three-strong company – Rafferty, Ross Somerville (fellow puppeteer and sound artist) and Anna Rattray (director) – have been able to put their 20-minute show together thanks to Making Space, a programme launched by SYT this year. Aimed at helping young theatre-makers test new ideas and collaborations or develop a work in progress, it provides rehearsal space, mentoring and feedback.

Rafferty has been involved with SYT since she started the weekly drama classes in Aberdeen at the age of 13. Back then, she was “riddled with anxiety”, but the classes built up her self-esteem. Now, a decade later, Making Space is helping her take the next step in her career.

“If SYT hadn’t kept encouraging me, I probably wouldn’t have had the confidence to create my own children’s theatre company,” she says.

At present, Making Space is a pilot scheme; Tentpole Theatre is only the second company to have benefited from it. Given SYT’s current financial predicament, it may also be one of the last.

Ten days ago, the 41-year-old SYT announced it had a funding shortfall of £200,000 and would close at the end of July. The news came weeks after it was refused regular funding (as a Regularly Funded Organisation, or RFO) by Creative Scotland.

Last week, representatives from SYT met culture secretary Fiona Hyslop to discuss a potential rescue package. One proposal is that the organisation should be given national company status. That would put it on the same level as the likes of Scottish Opera and mean funding would come direct from the Scottish Government.

But if this fails and SYT has to close its doors, Making Space will disappear along with all its other initiatives: the weekly classes, the summer courses, the new National Ensemble and the Family Storytime Company.

The prospect of SYT’s demise galvanised supporters. No sooner had the company announced its decision than parents were raising a petition, with famous alumni – including Colin McCredie, Kate Dickie and Karen Gillan – extolling its virtues.

For many advocates, allowing the company to fold three months into the Scottish Government’s multi-million-pound Year of Young People 2018 would be a national embarrassment and proof of the country’s lack of cultural vision.

They see SYT’s plight as yet more evidence of incompetence at Creative Scotland, which has already admitted its decision-making process was flawed. Last month it did a U-turn restoring RFO funding to five companies – Birds of Paradise, Catherine Wheels, Dunedin Consort, Lung Ha and Visible Fictions – after an almighty backlash from the artistic community.

But there are others who question the assumption that SYT should automatically be bailed out. This is not the first time Creative Scotland has rejected the group’s funding application. The last time, in 2014, the Scottish Government stepped in along with private-sector backer, Clyde Blowers.

Insiders at Creative Scotland maintain SYT’s application was poor and that the company had not done enough to address issues raised with it in previous years.

Its fiercest critics say the organisation is behind the curve artistically – outclassed by groups like Junction 25 at the Tramway – and remains too expensive, with too little focus on making it accessible to those from deprived areas.

The actor Iain Robertson, for example, who was picked to star in Gillies MacKinnon’s film Small Faces at the age of 13, says he attended the free theatre group Toonspeak in north Glasgow in the early 1990s because the SYT was too expensive.

“When I was 11, I went for an audition for the summer course, but it was going to cost about £800. I was one of five siblings and if my parents had found the money for me they would have had to find it for my sisters too – it just wasn’t possible.”

Robertson eventually won a scholarship with the Sylvia Young Theatre School in London and paid his living costs by working professionally.

So what should happen to SYT? Would losing our only national youth theatre group demonstrate a profound lack of understanding of the role drama plays in the health and well-being of our young people? And if the company is bailed out by the Scottish Government should it be with the caveat that it commits to widening accessibility?

The desire to raise the aspirations of working class children was the driving force behind the establishment of the SYT back in 1977 – a time when few schools had drama departments. A teacher in the east end of Glasgow, Gareth Wardell set up committees and rolled out weekly classes all over the country. Later, SYT also established its summer festivals – six-week courses culminating in a stage production.

There is no doubt that for many of those involved, the experience was transformative. Last week, Graham McLaren, formerly associate director of the National Theatre of Scotland, said that without the values and standards given to him by the SYT, he would never have risen to his current position as director of the Abbey Theatre in Dublin.

Kate Dickie, who played Lysa Arryn in Game Of Thrones and Jackie in Red Road, spent her teenage years in Newton Stewart near Dumfries. “It can feel like a pipe dream living in a small town and wanting to be an actor, but SYT just gave it a concrete feeling that I’m going to be determined that this is what I’m going to do,” she said.

In recent years, the remit of SYT has evolved. As more schools began to teach drama and more local groups started springing up, the weekly classes became less important and there was a shift towards helping young people move on to the next stage of their career.

“I think what we do is try to provide a step up for those who have succeeded in their regional youth theatres or colleges and are looking for that extra stretch,” says SYT chief executive Jacky Hardacre.

“We try to make sure the artists they work with are people who are already making professional theatre, and that helps them to learn, but also to establish links into the industry.”

Hardacre says that after Creative Scotland rejected its RFO application, it looked at both cutting costs and increasing income. But the money it needs represents a third of its running costs and – though Creative Scotland said it would be eligible to apply for Project Funding of up to £150,000 at a time – the gap had proved unbridgeable.

“I think, initially, we believed we could keep a skeleton staff and build again from there, but in the end we realised there wasn’t enough money to keep enough staff on to function. Obviously, it has taken a huge toll on morale,” she says.

Hardacre seems to accept there are ways in which SYT has fallen short. However, she insists the organisation has been moving in the right direction, with new projects designed to be more accessible. “The National Ensemble is our flagship project. It is in its second year and there is no fee to take part. We audition around Scotland and we don’t charge for auditions as some theatre companies do,” she says. Making Space and the Family Storytime Company are also free, with bursaries available to cover expenses. “The weekly classes and summer courses have a fee attached. We do offer some supported places , but not as many as we would like because we lack the resources.”

She points out that it is easier to raise money for eye-catching new projects (which will then be free) than to secure regular funding for ongoing ventures like the weekly classes. “It was our intention to relaunch a friends scheme we have had previously and make that specifically about asking for donations to have a bursary pot for people to apply to to access the rest of our programmes.”

Theatre critic for The Scotsman Joyce McMillan also accepts there may have been room for improvement, but says allowing the organisation to go under is not the answer.

“Saying that there are things wrong with the national youth theatre you have got isn’t really a reason for not having a Scotland-wide youth theatre,” she says. “If Creative Scotland was operating a proper traffic lights system like the one the Arts Council in England has produced they would be giving SYT an amber light and saying: ‘If you don’t address some of these issues in the next three years we will really have to look at your funding again.’”

Like many others, McMillan is also concerned about what the plight of SYT says about Creative Scotland’s wider decision-making processes and accountability.

“I think people are using this row as a distraction from the fact the funding round was a shambles,” she says. “Creative Scotland may or may not have got the decision right about SYT, but if they did, nobody knows how or why or on what basis. The handling of all the companies involved just beggars belief. There has been factual misreporting of people’s applications to the panels that made the decisions, and the criteria used and the reasons given to people have often directly contradicted their stated aims.”

Yet staff at Creative Scotland feel increasingly under pressure and hard done by. It is understood they are particularly aggrieved at the way the board caved in once faced with the backlash.

While accepting there were failures of communication – especially around the establishment of a new £2m touring fund – they believe its U-turn undermined their credibility and gave licence to any rejected company to fight back in the future.

The agency’s chief executive Janet Archer has already announced a review of the way funding decisions are reached and a “reset” of future priorities. Whether or not she resigns – and there are those who believe she should have gone already – most critics want a fundamental change. “I am not in favour of abolishing it or completely dismantling it and replacing it with something else, but I do think it needs a root and branch change of culture and approach,” says McMillan. “I think at the moment it is a profoundly confused organisation which has become extremely bad at its central function, which is handing out money to companies in a transparent and consistent way.”

As for the fate of Scottish Youth Theatre, that too hangs in the balance. Last week, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said every option would be explored, but a series of tense meetings have not yet produced a settlement.

Robertson believes if a rescue package is forthcoming it should be with the proviso that SYT focuses on widening access to the deprived communities that might benefit most from involvement. “I would hate to see us lose SYT and I think there is a valid argument that it is already seen as the national youth company,” he says. “But I believe the Scottish Government has a genuine commitment to tackling the attainment gap and, if that’s the case, any public money SYT gets should be used to open it up to those from less advantaged backgrounds.”

In the short-term, those at SYT whose morale has been at rock-bottom have been buoyed by the level of support they have received. “It has been absolutely overwhelming. When you see how many people are commenting about their experiences , going back decades, you realise what a formative experience it is for people,” says Hardacre.

“The acting itself is just the tip of the iceberg : there’s the contribution to mental health, building social skills, employability skills. There are people in all walks of life who say ‘I wouldn’t be who I am today if I had not gone to SYT.’ Some of it reduces me to tears.”

Inside the rehearsal space at SYT headquarters, Tentpole Theatre is still fine-tuning its maritime-themed show. The jellyfish has ensnared the wee boat which is sinking to the bottom of the sea. The trio are so invested in their work, so excited about performing it in front of their first SYT-organised audience, it’s a shame to think the dreams of others like them might soon founder.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "DANI GARAVELLI"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4707737.1521360030!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4707737.1521360030!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Picture: John Devlin","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Picture: John Devlin","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4707737.1521360030!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/dani-garavelli-holyrood-circus-makes-a-mockery-of-abuse-crisis-1-4707734","id":"1.4707734","articleHeadline": "Dani Garavelli: Holyrood circus makes a mockery of abuse crisis","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1521359391000 ,"articleLead": "

Maybe you are fed up reading about sexual harassment. I know I am fed up writing about it. At the beginning of every week, I say to myself: “And now for something completely different.” But events, dear boys (and girls), events. More shit happens. And I get angry. And I find I myself writing about it again.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4707733.1521359386!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Mark McDonald talks to journalists on his return to parliament as an independent MSP last week. Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA"} ,"articleBody": "

This week, the catalyst was Mark McDonald’s return to the Scottish Parliament after his four-month absence, an event that played out in such an astonishing and counterproductive manner, I cannot let it pass without comment.

The first offensive thing about McDonald’s return was that it happened at all. Given he had admitted behaving inappropriately to several women; given he accepted this behaviour was serious enough to warrant his resignation first as minister for Childcare and Early Years and then from the SNP, he should also have stepped down as MSP for Aberdeen Donside. This would have triggered a by-election and – had he chosen to stand again – allowed voters in his constituency to decide whether or not they wanted him to continue to represent them as an independent (rather than just assuming it on their behalf).

A resignation would have allowed McDonald to salvage a degree of dignity and given the women who made the allegations some space. Instead, he took the unilateral decision that he was “morally justified” in staying on (and thus continuing to draw his £62,000-a-year salary). In interviews, he said he was “asking” for a second chance, but, in reality, he was demanding it. The Scottish Parliament has no equivalent of Westminster’s power of recall, so – at least for now – MSPs have no choice but to thole his presence.

If McDonald’s decision to return was regrettable, then the way it was handled was even worse. Everything about it – his grandstanding, the party politicking, the press pack’s undisguised glee at the scent of a fox – reflected badly on our democratic institutions and conspired – yet again – to ensure the only needs that went unserved were those of the women at the centre of the allegations.

You only have to look at the press conference the MSP gave on Tuesday. I have heard it said, he had no choice; that making a formal public statement was the only way to get the pack off his tail. Certainly, so frenzied was the chase, beleaguered media officers were forced to send out an email reminding reporters that unless they had bikes or were using the showers or lockers, they had no right of access to the basement (where McDonald’s office is situated).

Anyway, back to the press conference, where – under duress or not – McDonald was holding court. Sipping from a water bottle, he refused to describe his behaviour as “harassment” or his victims as “women” (which is the exact opposite of owning it). He then took questions from a succession of male reporters. I am not exaggerating: there appeared to be more than 30 men in the room and three women. Only one female voice was heard – that of ITV Border’s Holyrood-based political correspondent Kathryn Samson – and only then because she shouted a question as McDonald was heading out the door; he didn’t answer.

When you see this kind of thing – and you do, time and time again – you 
cannot help but wonder: What Is It Going To Take For Things To Change? Will the men who run our media ever stop and think: “Here is a story all 
about the subordination of women – perhaps we should have some women covering it?”

Shocking though it was, the press conference was only part of the problem. Also unedifying was Labour trying to make political capital by calling for a redacted version of the SNP’s report to be published and handed to the police (though there was no indication the women involved had been asked how they felt about this).

Over in the SNP camp, James Dornan – upset that Holyrood appeared to be protecting McDonald, while offering little support to the victims – had already made an official complaint about his behaviour towards a female staff member to the Committee for Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments, which in turn passed it on to the Commissioner for Ethical Standards in Public Life in Scotland. Later, Dornan referred to the woman involved having suffered a stroke and, though he made it clear he wasn’t holding McDonald responsible, by mentioning it at all he established a link in people’s minds as well as creating an opportunity for some overblown and emotive headlines.

The cumulative effect of all this was the same as always; it deflected attention away from the important underlying issues. The focus on one protagonist altered the narrative; instead of it being a story about male power dynamics where McDonald was emblematic of institutionalised sexism, it became a story of an individual’s character flaws. The consequence is that claiming McDonald’s scalp has become an end in itself, his departure ostensibly the act that would rid Scottish Parliament of its ills, where, in fact it would merely mean one less ripple in the pool. It also more or less erased the victims’ voices, removed their agency and allowed others with vested interests to dominate the conversation.

Since the Westminster sexual harassment scandal broke last year, the emphasis has supposed to have been on making it easier for victims to report abuse. But any woman observing last week’s fall-out would surely have had her worst fears confirmed; would have concluded that, right enough, it isn’t worth the hassle.

In reality, we know this is not all about McDonald: the survey into sexual harassment at Holyrood showed one in five of those who responded had been affected by sexist behaviour with 45 per cent of those saying the perpetrator was an MSP; though I still believe he should have gone, it is more important to address the entrenched attitudes that produce such a sense of entitlement.

So let’s take some time out to reflect on another week that has served as a template of how not to do things and apply our minds to more constructive proposals, such as Kezia Dugdale’s suggestion of an anonymous reporting system where four complaints against the same man would automatically trigger an investigation.

If we want to effect meaningful change, we need to take the long view. To think about how the macho culture exemplified by that testosterone-filled press conference can be eradicated. Not to fixate on one man who may, for all we know, be enjoying the attention.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Dani Garavelli"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4707733.1521359386!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4707733.1521359386!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Mark McDonald talks to journalists on his return to parliament as an independent MSP last week. Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Mark McDonald talks to journalists on his return to parliament as an independent MSP last week. Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4707733.1521359386!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/snp-calls-on-ministry-of-defence-to-tackle-outrageous-waste-1-4707732","id":"1.4707732","articleHeadline": "SNP calls on Ministry of Defence to tackle ‘outrageous’ waste","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1521359224000 ,"articleLead": "

The Ministry of Defence squandered £3.3 million on lost gas canisters, £45,000 on rent arrears and £160,000 in rent for demolished houses in the last nine months of 2017, new figures have shown.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4707731.1521359219!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Colin Beattie MSP. Picture: Scott Louden"} ,"articleBody": "

The SNP yesterday called on the Whitehall department to stop “frittering away” taxpayers’ money following a Freedom of Information request into so-called “fruitless payments” – a category of public spending where money is spent but nothing of use is received in return.

According to the figures, almost £5m was wasted in the nine months up to December last year, including more than £363,000 on disposing of expired ration packs.

Colin Beattie, an SNP MSP on Holyrood’s public audit committee, said: “While families are being hammered by Tory austerity, Brexit is jacking up household bills and people are being told to tighten their belts. It’s outrageous to see this level of waste.

“Over just nine months the MoD managed to fritter away millions in taxpayers’ cash on rent for demolished houses, late payment fees, out of date rations and even £3m in gas canisters which vanished into thin air. It shows a pattern of careless, reckless mismanagement when it comes to public money.

“The SNP previously revealed some £600m in Whitehall waste over the last decade, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg – some departments have point-blank refused to fess up to how much they’ve squandered.

“While governments and businesses alike will occasionally make mistakes, these figures reveal a much deeper problem. They’re just the latest evidence, were it needed, of a systemic culture of waste by a Tory-led government. It represents an absolute scandal in the UK’s public finances.”

An MoD spokesperson said: “Most of these payments are made to other government departments so there is no overall loss to the taxpayer. We have saved billions in efficiencies over recent years as we strive to secure value-for-money for the taxpayer. Our procedures have now been reviewed and improved in these cases to prevent similar losses re-occurring.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "TOM PETERKIN"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4707731.1521359219!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4707731.1521359219!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Colin Beattie MSP. Picture: Scott Louden","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Colin Beattie MSP. Picture: Scott Louden","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4707731.1521359219!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/health/half-of-scotland-s-restricted-patient-gp-surgeries-are-in-lothians-1-4707730","id":"1.4707730","articleHeadline": "Half of Scotland’s restricted patient GP surgeries are in Lothians","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1521358988000 ,"articleLead": "

One of the largest health service areas accounts for more than half of the GP surgeries in Scotland that are currently operating a restricted patient list.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4707728.1521369558!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "editorial image"} ,"articleBody": "

At present 99 GP practices across the country impose some form of restriction, according to figures obtained under a Freedom of Information request. Of these 51 are in the Lothians with the next highest region being Fife, which imposes limits in 20 medical practices.

The restrictions which amount to “informal” closed lists can mean among other things that GPs are not accepting new patients or are only accepting a certain number of people per week who have moved into the area.

It is understood that there are no formal “closed” GP lists in the Lothians at present as this requires an application process and NHS board consent.

The latest figures have reignited debate over the role housing planners should play in factoring GP services into new build proposals.

The Royal College of General Practitioners (Scotland) is calling for planning applications to take account of the effect on the local provision of GPs in the same way they are required to consider local education requirements.

Dr Carey Lunan, pictured below, chair of RCGP Scotland said that across the country practices “simply cannot take on more patients”.

She said: “There is a recognised need for more homes in Scotland, especially more affordable housing, but the provision of housing must take account of the ability of general practices and other healthcare providers to offer safe and appropriate health services to these new developments. Right across the country, record numbers of practices are already operating with closed or restricted registration lists.”

Estimates suggest 618,978 people will live in Edinburgh alone by 2037, compared with 498,810 in 2015, a rise of more than 120,000 in just over 20 years.

Lunan added: “In 2016, we called for measures to be put in place to formalise the consideration of the impact of new homes on local family healthcare provision. If this does not happen, it may result in large numbers of new patients moving into an area and placing additional strain on an already-stretched GP service.”

The ongoing GP recruitment crisis has led the RCGP (Scotland) to predict a shortage of 856 GPs by 2021.

In January, the BMA’s Scottish GP Committee (SGPC) approved the proposed new GP contract for Scotland, following strong backing in a poll of the profession.

Chair of BMA Scotland’s GP committee Dr Alan McDevitt said: “When patient numbers are increasing rapidly and practices are unable to recruit, GPs can be left in a position where they are unable to routinely accept new patients.

“It is a particular challenge in areas where the population is growing rapidly, which is why it is essential that more consideration is given to the impact on health services when making planning decisions”.

Scottish Labour MSP Daniel Johnson said: “The fact that one in ten practices in Scotland have their list restricted to new patients shows that pressure is now at a tipping point. In Edinburgh, the Lothians and Fife, the data shows that the problem is much more severe.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The new proposed GP contract, backed by investment of £110 million in 2018-19 and jointly developed with the BMA, will ensure GPs can spend more time with patients and less time on bureaucracy, helping to cut doctors’ workload and make general practice an even more attractive career.

“Our ambition is to increase the number of GPs by at least 800 over ten years.

“When identifying locations for new housing, planning authorities should take account of infrastructure requirements, such as GP practices.”


Liberton Medical Group1/6/16

Bruntsfield MP3/4/17

Grange MG23/10/6

Southern Medical Group 1/4/16

Inchpark Surgery19/10/16

Ferniehill MP1/3/16

Gracemount MP21/1/16

Conan Doyle17/11/17

Southside Surgery18/7/16

Marchmont MP118/10/17

St Leonards MP18/9/17



Restalrig Park MC625/9/17

Brunton Place Surgery915/3/16

Baronscourt Surgery 99/11/15

Links Medical Practice 1211/10/16

Summerside MP516/3/15

Victoria Practice141/8/16

Dr Gray & Partners – Bellevue830/10/17

Mill Lane168/1/18

St Triduana’s MP12/12/17

Leith Mount MP88/1/18

Hopetoun Practice20/7/17

Leith Surgery1619/12/17

The Long House Surgery527/7/15

West End MP1130/10/17

Eyre Medical Practice1225/8/17

Stockbridge - Blue1/4/16

Stockbridge - Green16/5/16

Bangholm M824/8/16

Cramond MP147/11/16

Ladywell West1410/11/16

Ladywell East14 10/11/16

East Craigs MP2/10/17

Crewe Medical Centre42/10/17

Whinpark MC101/3/17

Colinton Surgery1410/1/14

Riccarton General Practice1425/9/14

Slateford MC7 4/5/15

Springwell MC10 6/3/17

Braids MC1320/11/17

Sighthill Green Practice13/7/17

Sighthill – Dr Rhein8/1/18

Wester Hailes18/7/17

Gilmore MP76/11/17

Sighthill – Dr Sharpe & Partners4 8/12/17

Dalkeith MP1 /4/4

Quarryfoot MP14/9/2015

Strathesk MP12 3/1/2018

Dalhousie MP21/4/2016

Newbyres MG6/2/2017

Pathhead MP29/3/2017

Armadale MP7/3/2016

Source: NHS Lothian January 2018

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Kevan Christie"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4707728.1521369558!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4707728.1521369558!/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/1.4707728.1521369558!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4707729.1521369562!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4707729.1521369562!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "One practice where restrictions apply. Photograph: Ian Georgeson","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "One practice where restrictions apply. Photograph: Ian Georgeson","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4707729.1521369562!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/russia-spat-could-hit-scottish-tourism-say-business-leaders-1-4707727","id":"1.4707727","articleHeadline": "Russia spat could hit Scottish tourism, say business leaders","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1521358829000 ,"articleLead": "

Business leaders yesterday warned that rising tension with Russia would harm Scotland’s tourism trade and hit exports in the aftermath of Brexit.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4707726.1521358684!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "David Watt: 'fraught relations'."} ,"articleBody": "

David Watt, executive director of the Institute of Directors in Scotland, said fraught relations with Russia were unhelpful at a time when the UK should be forging new trade relations.

“This could have come at a better time shall we say, given that in almost a year to the day we are going to be leaving the European Union and we are looking to develop new markets,” Watt said.

“So given that background it is probably not good news from a trade perspective.

“Russia is relatively accessible when it comes to the countries beyond Europe. It is not that inaccessible, so from a trade point of view we don’t want deteriorating relationships which we are having now.”

Watt also warned that Russian tourism to Scotland would also be affected. “There will be a big impact on tourism and Russians who go abroad and come to Scotland tend to have a significant amount of money and inhabit places like the jewellers of George Street. That will have a significant impact on tourism, because while not massive numbers they are fairly affluent people.”

With the UK importing some Russian oil and gas, the petrochemical industry is also looking at ways of making up a potential short-fall.

Oil & Gas UK market intelligence manager Adam Davey said: “The UK is a net importer of oil and gas; however only a small proportion of UK energy demand is met from Russian sources.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "TOM PETERKIN"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4707726.1521358684!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4707726.1521358684!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "David Watt: 'fraught relations'.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "David Watt: 'fraught relations'.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4707726.1521358684!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/video-technology-to-spare-victims-trauma-of-giving-evidence-in-court-1-4707701","id":"1.4707701","articleHeadline": "Video technology to spare victims trauma of giving evidence in court","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1521330455000 ,"articleLead": "

Children and rape victims are to be increasingly spared the “trauma” of appearing in Scotland’s courts after new research found video-link evidence has no impact on verdicts delivered by juries.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4707699.1521323307!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "A courtroom artist's impression of a woman giving evidence to a trial via video link. Image: Sky News"} ,"articleBody": "

The Children’s Commissioner and Rape Crisis Scotland are stepping up calls for change, insisting that vulnerable witnesses are often denied “access to justice” as a result of Scotland’s adversarial legal system.

The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child has expressed concerns about child victims and witnesses being cross-examined in court, while sexual assault victims have complained their treatment is worse than the attack itself.

Pre-recorded evidence and live video links can be used in Scottish courts, but applications are rare. This could now change after Scottish Government research found the techniques do not affect the outcome of cases.

“There is no compelling evidence that the use of pre-recorded evidence or live links, whether by child or adult witnesses, has a significant effect on verdicts in criminal trials,” it found.

Sandy Brindley, of Rape Crisis Scotland, said women had described the court experience as “degrading, terrifying and worse than being raped.”

“We are very supportive of any steps to increase the use of pre-recorded evidence in rape trials,” Brindley said.

“This could transform the experience of the justice process for rape complainers, by reducing trauma and improving the chances of getting the best evidence from them.”

Researchers did not speak to Scots jurors, which is banned, but looked at international evidence for the study entitled The Impact of Pre-recorded Evidence on Juror Decision-Making: An Evidence Review. Contrary to the “misplaced confidence” of jurors, it suggests they are “not significantly better able to discern deception when children testify in open court.

Many countries already ensure that children and young people need not appear in court at trial. Their evidence is recorded as soon as possible after an incident.

Scotland’s Children and Young People’s Commissioner, Bruce Adamson, said it was time to protect youngsters’ rights.

“Children’s right to access justice in Scotland is being breached by an adversarial system which does not take account of their needs and which often leaves children feeling they have been disbelieved,” he said.

Stuart Munro, a member of the Law Society of Scotland’s criminal law committee, welcomed the findings and admitted that court can be a “daunting” experience.

He said: “It is important that our courts take account of the needs of children and vulnerable adult witnesses.

“The Law Society will continue to engage with the Scottish Government and other stakeholders to improve the experience for all court users.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said the findings would mean more people bring spared the ordeal of giving evidence in court.

He said: “We are committed to the increased use of pre-recorded evidence.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "SCOTT MACNAB"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4707699.1521323307!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4707699.1521323307!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "A courtroom artist's impression of a woman giving evidence to a trial via video link. Image: Sky News","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "A courtroom artist's impression of a woman giving evidence to a trial via video link. Image: Sky News","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4707699.1521323307!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4707700.1521323313!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4707700.1521323313!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Sandy Brindley says Rape Crisis Scotland is supportive of any steps to increase the use of pre-recorded evidence in rape trials. Photograph: Robert Perry","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Sandy Brindley says Rape Crisis Scotland is supportive of any steps to increase the use of pre-recorded evidence in rape trials. Photograph: Robert Perry","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4707700.1521323313!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/business/retailer-next-to-unveil-fall-in-profits-amid-high-street-woe-1-4707620","id":"1.4707620","articleHeadline": "Retailer Next to unveil fall in profits amid high street woe","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1521328996000 ,"articleLead": "

Difficult trading conditions on the high street as inflation exceeds earnings growth will be highlighted this week as fashion retailer Next unveils a slide in annual profits.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4707619.1521306901!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Next has been caught up in the high street malaise."} ,"articleBody": "

Next, which along with the likes of Marks & Spencer and Primark is a bellwether for the sector, is the first non-food retail giant out of the blocks with yearly results amid concerns that another Bank of England interest rate rise is in the pipeline for spring.

That would be seen as putting further pressure on household budgets and the prospects for retailers.

The City consensus is for Next’s chief executive Lord Wolfson to unveil an 8 per cent fall in earnings to £725 million, further dampening sentiment in a sector that has had a torrid start to 2018.

Toys R Us and electronics retailer Maplin have collapsed into administration, and profit warnings have been made by Debenhams, Mothercare and Carpetright (the second earnings alert at the floorings specialist since Christmas).

Next has been caught up in the high street malaise, but the chain posted a surprise rise in sales over the festive period and upgraded its profit forecast. It said full-price group sales, including Next Directory, in the 54 days to Christmas Eve rose 1.5 per cent, ahead of expectations,

It attributed part of the rise to much colder weather in late December. However, sales at the shops fell 6 per cent.

Even so, Next upped its full-year profit guidance by £8m to £725m, although the figure is still significantly shy of last year’s £790.2m.

George Salmon, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “Next’s Christmas trading update showed high street sales continuing to suffer.

“That’s a trend that looks set to continue, but the outlook for next year has improved.”

Salmon added: “Next expects sales growth to firm up as online continues to deliver good results. Meanwhile, cost inflation is expected to ease, and then disappear, over the course of 2018.

“All that bodes well – higher sales and higher margins mean doubly higher profits in the longer term.

“However, [physical] retail still accounts for a huge slice of sales, and with conditions remaining tough, it’s likely to be far from plain sailing.”

Wolfson has previously said that Next will look to cut costs by renegotiating rents with landlords and controlling wages and man hours.

Meanwhile, firms including Jamie’s Italian, burger chain Byron and Prezzo have shut hundreds of stores amid tough trading.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "martin flanagan"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4707619.1521306901!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4707619.1521306901!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Next has been caught up in the high street malaise.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Next has been caught up in the high street malaise.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4707619.1521306901!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/education/low-level-disruption-the-new-norm-blighting-our-schools-1-4707668","id":"1.4707668","articleHeadline": "Low level disruption – the new ‘norm’ blighting our schools","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1521328048000 ,"articleLead": "

“Low level bad behaviour” has become the norm in many secondary schools across Scotland, the leader of one of the country’s teaching unions has warned.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4707667.1521370166!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Pupils in Scottish schools are routinely challenging the authority of teachers."} ,"articleBody": "

Seamus Searson, general secretary of the Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association, said unacceptable behaviour was on the increase, impacting on pupils’ education and hampering recruitment to the profession.

This type of behaviour included challenging teachers’ authority by telling them to “f*** off”, refusing to stop using phones during lessons, and running amok in corridors, often escalating into a confrontation when a teacher starts dealing with the incident.

Last week education secretary John Swinney held a session of the Teacher Panel – a group of teachers, principal teachers, deputy head teachers and head teachers – at Holyrood to discuss discipline problems.

Searson says cuts to teaching posts, such as teacher support and guidance, and closure of units where pupils with problematic behaviour could attend, have both contributed to the problem.

“This type of behaviour, which can involve seven or eight pupils at a time, has always been there but it has become a lot worse in recent years. In many cases it is caused by youngsters bringing issues in from the home or the street. But when it is seen to be the norm it spreads like a rotten apple,” said Searson.

“It can take at least ten minutes to settle the class after one of these disruptive incidents, meaning that it stops other pupils learning. This all takes energy away from teachers.

“We’re not talking about the majority of schools but it’s happening in many schools, every day.

“Children get one chance at an education. This is an issue John Swinney has to acknowledge exists and address it with proper resources.”

Figures from the Scottish Government in December revealed that 26.6 per cent of pupils have additional support needs, ranging from dyslexia, ADHD, and autism to behavioural and emotional problems.

Searson added: “In the past a guidance teacher would have spoken to the pupil, finding out if the pupil had been having a tough time at home, perhaps trying to cope with a parent with drug or alcohol problems, or being bullied at school.

“Now we’re getting at least a dozen calls a week from teachers about this kind of behaviour, and I’m hearing more and more that schools aren’t dealing with it, meaning the pupils causing the problem are back in class next day thinking they’ve got off with it, which they have.”

Liz Smith, Scottish Conservative shadow education secretary, said disruption was damaging to pupil education and if unchallenged would see Scottish education slip further down global educational achievement league tables.

“We cannot allow indiscipline to plague Scotland’s school system.

“This account suggests the education of many children across is being harmed, and that a large part of the problem is the SNP’s inability to staff schools properly. That needs to change.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “It is important to remember the vast majority of school heads and teachers believe most pupils are well behaved.

“However, we want all our children and young people to behave in a respectful manner towards their peers and staff – and no teacher should have to suffer abuse, verbal or physical. We will continue to support our schools to promote positive relationships among pupils.

“We listen to teachers and have made clear our commitment to reduce workload.

“We have undertaken a range of actions to help clarify and simplify the curriculum framework and to remove unnecessary bureaucracy, and we have taken decisive action to help recruit and retain teachers through our Teaching Makes People campaign, with more secondary teachers than at any time since 2014.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "SHN ROSS"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4707667.1521370166!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4707667.1521370166!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Pupils in Scottish schools are routinely challenging the authority of teachers.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Pupils in Scottish schools are routinely challenging the authority of teachers.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4707667.1521370166!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/health/scots-doctors-driven-abroad-by-bullying-and-lack-of-work-life-balance-1-4707698","id":"1.4707698","articleHeadline": "Scots doctors driven abroad by bullying and lack of work-life balance","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1521327764000 ,"articleLead": "

Young doctors leaving Scotland have identified bullying by senior colleagues, poor work-life balance and a lack of NHS support as reasons for heading abroad.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4707697.1521358973!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Trainees are also concerned by staff shortages, which are likely to get worse as a result of Brexit. Picture: Peter Byrne/PA"} ,"articleBody": "

The findings of a new study based on in-depth interviews with individuals about to leave for work in other countries have concerned doctors’ leaders, who warn that Scotland’s NHS cannot afford to lose more expertise.

In one of the first studies of its kind, 17 Scottish-based foundation year two doctors were asked about their reasons for leaving.

Staff shortages, a feeling that it was difficult to raise concerns about their jobs, the financial implications of Brexit and the threat of Scottish independence were among the reasons mentioned.

The perception that Australia and New Zealand were more attractive places to work contrasted with complaints about the lack of work-life balance in Scotland.

Loneliness at work, in particular a lack of contact with other doctors, was an issue for some, as was bullying.

One interviewee described breaking down when shouted at by a consultant.

“I was sitting flicking through a massive set of notes and then the consultant walks round the corner and goes: ‘What are you doing?’ and shouts at me in front of all the nurses, everyone on the ward,” the interviewee said.“Then when you get a bit tearful, tells you to grow up in front of everyone, very publicly. Numerous occasions like that, particularly in surgical jobs.”

The study said: “Loneliness at work, a lack of support from seniors, dysfunctional relationships and bullying at work were all cited as reasons for lack of enjoyment in their foundation jobs.”

Research author Dr Samantha Smith said negative reasons for leaving such as bullying were “very concerning”. “Even if just one person is experiencing bullying in the workplace that is a bad sign and my own experience in the NHS suggests that bullying does exist there,” she said.

“I wanted to find if there were ways we can discourage people from going and we conclude – at the end of the research – probably not. But there are ways to encourage people to come back by making the NHS a really attractive place.”

The study has been published amid concern over consultant and GP shortages in Scotland. Last year a study suggested Scotland had a record 470 consultant vacancies. The shortage of family doctors was outlined in a survey which this month suggested a quarter of GP surgeries were at least one short.

Chair of BMA Scotland’s Junior Doctors Committee, Dr Adam Collins, said: “The reasons cited for leaving should concern and dismay all those who supervise Foundation Doctors in Scotland. Lack of senior support, bullying, lack of support to resolve work-life conflict, the undervaluing of health care professionals, a negative working atmosphere, lack of formal teaching, and difficulty raising concerns all speak of an NHS under pressure that is not adequately supporting the next generation of doctors.”

Health Secretary Shona Robison said: “Brexit – and the UK Government’s determination to end free movement of workers – threatens our ability to continue to secure skilled staff for our health service. We recognise the importance of recruiting and maintaining medical talent in Scotland and are listening to the views of trainees so we can keep offering high quality, supportive training posts while we continue to fill the vast majority of junior trainee posts at 100 per cent.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Tom Peterkin"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4707697.1521358973!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4707697.1521358973!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Trainees are also concerned by staff shortages, which are likely to get worse as a result of Brexit. Picture: Peter Byrne/PA","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Trainees are also concerned by staff shortages, which are likely to get worse as a result of Brexit. Picture: Peter Byrne/PA","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4707697.1521358973!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/uk/newsnight-denies-jeremy-corbyn-soviet-stooge-photoshop-stunt-1-4707696","id":"1.4707696","articleHeadline": "Newsnight denies Jeremy Corbyn ‘Soviet stooge’ photoshop stunt","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1521320985000 ,"articleLead": "

A Newsnight boss has dismissed claims the programme photoshopped Jeremy Corbyn’s hat to make him look more Russian.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4707695.1521320981!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "A Newsnight boss has dismissed claims the programme photoshopped Mr Corbyn's hat to make him look more Russian. Picture: Yui Mok/PA Wire"} ,"articleBody": "

Supporters of the Labour leader, including prominent left-wing writer Owen Jones, attacked the BBC Two programme for using an image they claim had been altered.

Mr Jones appeared on the show to discuss Labour’s response to the Salisbury nerve agent attack and claimed Mr Corbyn had been made to look like a “Soviet stooge”.

“The media framing has been a disgrace and I have to say that includes your own programme,” he told presenter Evan Davis on Friday.

READ MORE: Russia expels 23 British diplomats as stand-off intensifies

“Yesterday the background of your programme you had Jeremy Corbyn dressed up against the Kremlin skyline, dressed up as a Soviet stooge.

“You even photoshopped his hat to look more Russian.

“People should complain to the BBC about that kind of thing.”

Mr Corbyn was pictured wearing a hat against a backdrop of Moscow’s Red Square.

Newsnight acting editor Jess Brammar denied the hat had been altered.

“Newsnight didn’t photoshop a hat,” she tweeted.

“Our (excellent,hardworking) graphics team explained the image has had the contrast increased & been colour treated, usual treatment for screen graphics as they need more contrast to work through the screens.

“If you look you can see it’s same hat in silhouette.

“Apparently (forgive me for passing on tech details I don’t understand firsthand) some detail might also have been lost with it going through the screen and then being filmed back through a camera, again the standard effect on images on that big back panel.

“And finally, the Russia background was a rehash of one Newsnight used a few weeks ago, for a story about Gavin Williamson, the Defence Secretary.”

Mr Jones responded to the tweets saying the programme had picked an image of Mr Corbyn that was as “Leninesque as possible”.

“The photo of Williamson is in a suit and his photo remains clear,” he said.

“There is no shortage of photos of Corbyn in a suit. A photo was selected which was as Leninesque as possible in combination with a red Kremlin background.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4707695.1521320981!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4707695.1521320981!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "A Newsnight boss has dismissed claims the programme photoshopped Mr Corbyn's hat to make him look more Russian. Picture: Yui Mok/PA Wire","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "A Newsnight boss has dismissed claims the programme photoshopped Mr Corbyn's hat to make him look more Russian. Picture: Yui Mok/PA Wire","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4707695.1521320981!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/uk/polls-reveals-sizeable-support-for-england-world-cup-boycott-1-4707650","id":"1.4707650","articleHeadline": "Polls reveals sizeable support for England World Cup boycott","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1521311189000 ,"articleLead": "

A third of people would support a World Cup boycott by the England football team, according to a new poll.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4707649.1521311185!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Picture: Getty Images"} ,"articleBody": "

A YouGov survey of 1,986 adults for the Times found 34% of those it questioned would back pulling Gareth Southgate’s team out of the finals in Russia this summer.

Some 39% rejected the idea and 27% said they were unsure, while among those who were football fans, 32% also favoured a boycott and 56% believed the team should take part.

Twelve percent of football fans said they were unsure.

MPs have raised questions over the national team’s participation, as well as concerns over the safety of the travelling fans.

The four-yearly sporting extravaganza is due to kick off in Moscow on June 14, and is expected to be used by Vladimir Putin as a massive PR opportunity for his country.

But Labour’s Stephen Kinnock suggested Britain should ask Fifa to postpone the tournament to 2019 and take it away from Russia in retaliation for the Salisbury poisoning.

His fellow Labour MP John Woodcock also called for Parliament to debate whether the Government should ask its allies to advocate postponing the summer championship or move it to another country.

The Barrow and Furness MP earlier said England’s participation “ought to be in question”, while Conservative chairman of the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, Tom Tugendhat, raised fears football fans travelling to the country for the tournament may be at risk of harm if tensions escalate between London and Moscow.

Theresa May has said no Government ministers or members of the Royal Family will attend and the Foreign Office has warned England fans planning to travel to Russia that they should “be aware of the possibility of anti-British sentiment or harassment”.

But the Government has not given its backing to a boycott of the tournament, insisting that the England team’s involvement is a matter for the Football Association.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4707649.1521311185!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4707649.1521311185!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Picture: Getty Images","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Picture: Getty Images","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4707649.1521311185!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/uk/russia-expels-23-british-diplomats-as-stand-off-intensifies-1-4707499","id":"1.4707499","articleHeadline": "Russia expels 23 British diplomats as stand-off intensifies","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1521285710000 ,"articleLead": "

Russia’s government is expelling 23 British diplomats and threatened further measures in retaliation in a growing diplomatic dispute over a nerve agent attack on a former spy in Britain.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4707497.1521285705!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "British ambassador to Russia, Laurie Bristow, leaves after a meeting at the Russian foreign ministry building in Moscow, Russia. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)"} ,"articleBody": "

The Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that it is also ordering the closure of the British Council in Russia and ending an agreement to reopen the British consulate in St Petersburg.

It ordered the diplomats to leave within a week.

READ MORE: Leader comment: This is Russia’s weak spot

The statement said the government could take further measures if Britain takes any more “unfriendly” moves toward Russia.

British Prime Minister Theresa May this week expelled 23 Russian diplomats and severed high-level contacts over the poisoning of ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia.

They remain in critical condition in hospital.

Moscow and London have both ordered diplomats to be expelled in the deepening dispute.

READ MORE: Defiant Alex Salmond says “I can say what I like” on Russia Today

Vladimir Dzhabarov, deputy chairman of the foreign affairs committee in the upper house of the Russian parliament, spoke on Saturday after Russia ordered 23 British diplomats to leave the country and that the British Council in Russia to be closed.

Britain this week ordered 23 Russian diplomats to leave the country, saying that Russia was not co-operating in the case of Sergei Skripal and his daughter, both found poisoned by a nerve agent that British officials say was developed in Russia.

“It is possible that (Britain) will continue to respond; we are ready for this. But London must understand that this will not do anything, it is useless to talk with Russia with such methods,” Mr Dzhabarov was quoted as saying by the state news agency RIA Novosti.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4707497.1521285705!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4707497.1521285705!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "British ambassador to Russia, Laurie Bristow, leaves after a meeting at the Russian foreign ministry building in Moscow, Russia. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "British ambassador to Russia, Laurie Bristow, leaves after a meeting at the Russian foreign ministry building in Moscow, Russia. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4707497.1521285705!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"5752726847001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/fourth-contender-enters-snp-depute-leader-race-1-4707492","id":"1.4707492","articleHeadline": "Fourth contender enters SNP depute leader race","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1521283654000 ,"articleLead": "

A senior SNP councillor has entered the race to replace Angus Robertson and become the party’s next depute leader.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4707490.1521284356!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Chris McEleny SNP deputy Leadership candidate"} ,"articleBody": "

Chris McEleny is standing for a second time after finishing last in the 2016 contest behind Robertson, Tommy Sheppard and Alyn Smith.

The nationalist’s group leader on Inverclyde Council told The National: “In 2016 I stood to make sure local government was at the heart of the debate.

“The reality though is that Angus Robertson was one greatest politicians of our time and it was that experience our members opted for,” he said.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon urged to take action over SNP NEC member’s role on Salmond show

“However this time round I believe that the experience I have gained since then, my left-of-centre beliefs, a position Tommy spoke to the last time round, as well as the work I have been doing since then as a Scottish representative of the EU’s committee of the regions, are all issues that speak to those that voted in the last election.

“In 2016 I aimed to shape the issues, this time around I aim to so we can get on with the job of taking our message to communities across Scotland.”

Mr McEleny joins economy secretary Keith Brown, Glasgow Cathcart MSP James Dornan and Julie Hepburn in the running to become depute leader.

Mr Brown previously stood for the role four years ago but lost out to MP Stewart Hosie.

The deputy leadership position became available when Mr Robertson stepped down in February.

Westminster leader Ian Blackford and several high-profile MPs including Pete Wishart, Johanna Cherry and Tommy Sheppard have ruled out putting their names forward.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4707490.1521284356!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4707490.1521284356!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Chris McEleny SNP deputy Leadership candidate","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Chris McEleny SNP deputy Leadership candidate","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4707490.1521284356!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"5734512594001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/richard-leonard-how-public-money-is-used-to-exploit-scottish-workers-1-4707327","id":"1.4707327","articleHeadline": "Richard Leonard: How public money is used to exploit Scottish workers","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1521270000000 ,"articleLead": "

SNP must do something about low pay and poor conditions, writes Scottish Labour party leader Richard Leonard.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4707326.1521225833!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "People working for contractors employed on Scottish Government projects should not have to pay to receive their wages (Picture: PA)"} ,"articleBody": "

THE idea that a worker should be asked to pay a fee if they want to get their wages should shock all of us. No-one should have to pay for the privilege of receiving their money after a hard week’s work.

Yet that has been, and still is, the reality for many in the construction industry, who find themselves working on multi-million-pound government contracts, but employed through agencies or umbrella companies, allowing the main contractor to shirk its responsibility around workers’ rights, dodge tax, and still reap the reward of big profits from public money.

It is surely time to call a halt to this exploitation.

The Scottish Government could do this. For too long we have heard that the Holyrood Parliament doesn’t have the powers to intervene and drive up working standards for the people of Scotland.

I say that is wrong. The £11 billion of purchasing power the Scottish Government has through procurement should be managed in the best interests of workers as well as value for money. Public procurement is in the gift of the government and therefore so is the ability to affect how the workers employed through these contracts are treated. This is about political will, not political hand-washing.

Public sector contractors’ corporate responsibility statements need to be more than a box-ticking exercise. It is taxpayers’ money which is spent on the nation’s major infrastructure works, like the Queensferry Crossing and the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route. The government should be ensuring that when these contracts are awarded to the likes of Carillion or Balfour Beatty, the contractors sign up to its business pledge which is supposed to guarantee workers are paid the living wage, that there is no use of zero-hour contracts, and commit to supporting young people towards and into employment.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon urged to stop public contract workers paying for wages

But it doesn’t. Not one major company which received public money has signed the pledge. And, as a result, workers’ rights are diminished and undermined.

The collapse of firms like Carillion should act as a wake-up call. It was a construction firm which won £630 million worth of public contracts, yet employed staff on zero-hour contracts then made them pay up to £100 to an umbrella company to get their wages.

It is not good enough for the SNP to wring its hands and say nothing can be done. There needs to be a wholesale review of how public procurement is used in Scotland; of how the public sector purchases goods and services, and it funds infrastructure projects; of how public money should be being used to provide decent jobs and drive up standards.

Sadly, the SNP chose to vote with the Conservatives last week on this very issue – voting down Scottish Labour’s proposed review.

Last year Scottish Labour published a report by economists Jim and Margaret Cuthbert, which looked at the Scottish Futures Trust – the SNP equivalent of the private finance intitiative. It found that the SFT was not transparent, that its projects gave too much power to companies outwith Scotland and was not delivering value for money. There were, they said, “serious concerns”.

So the government also needs to get its own house in order. Its Hubco schemes – set up through the SFT to develop and deliver community facilities – need to adhere to government procurement guidance. The value of the Hubco programme is £2.7bn, yet there is no oversight or monitoring at all on the pay and conditions of workers employed through the schemes.

So again people could well be being exploited without the knowledge of the government – even though it holds the purse strings. In total 78 per cent of the value of those schemes is delivered by small to medium-sized enterprises, and these should be being supported by government to make the right choices when it comes to employment practices.

READ MORE: Say goodbye to PFI deals, Richard Leonard says

Scottish Labour has an industrial strategy which recommends we stop awarding billions of pounds of public procurement contracts to companies that don’t pay the living wage, that use zero-hour contracts or blacklist workers. You could call it “progressive procurement”.

I have already pledged that there will be no more private finance deals under a future Scottish Labour government. Instead we will deliver decent and well-paid jobs by making sure the companies which benefit from public money believe that workers deserve to be treated properly. We simply cannot go on using taxpayers’ money to line the pockets of shareholders while workers are being exploited.

A social conscience is needed at the heart of procurement; and I will challenge the SNP on this and expose their empty excuses when they say they cannot use procurement to drive up standards because of EU rules. Using procurement, the Scottish Government must seek to make work more secure, pay the living wage and address occupational segregation.

Leading by example is what the Scottish Government needs to do – other public sector bodies will then fall in behind. The private sector too will be shamed into cleaning up its act and giving workers the secure, well-paid jobs they desire and deserve.

Campaigning for better workers’ rights is something the Labour Party has always done – it’s what we were founded to do. But 11 years of Tory austerity have introduced a low-paid, highly insecure workforce. And SNP complacency has meant the Scottish economy is stagnating, as are people’s wages.

If we want to see a high-salary, high-skilled Scotland, an economy that works for the many, then the government needs to use the powers it has at its disposal – not just complain about those it does not.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4707326.1521225833!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4707326.1521225833!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "People working for contractors employed on Scottish Government projects should not have to pay to receive their wages (Picture: PA)","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "People working for contractors employed on Scottish Government projects should not have to pay to receive their wages (Picture: PA)","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4707326.1521225833!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/nicholas-kristof-dictators-love-trump-and-he-loves-them-right-back-1-4707329","id":"1.4707329","articleHeadline": "Nicholas Kristof: Dictators love Trump and he loves them right back","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1521266400000 ,"articleLead": "

Trump has spoken sympathetically about massacre of Chinese pro-democracy protesters and Saddam Hussein’s counter-terrorism policies, and laughed when the Philippine’s Duterte called journalists “spies”, writes Nicolas Kristof.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4707328.1521227349!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "All smiles as Donald Trump and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte link hands at the opening of the 31st ASEAN Summit in Manila (Picture: AFP/Getty)"} ,"articleBody": "

If you’re a murderous dictator, this is a joyous time to be alive.

No one will make much of a fuss if your opposition leader is jailed, if an annoying journalist goes missing or if, as happened in Congo, a judge who displeases the dictatorial president suffers a home invasion in which goons rape his wife and daughter.

As President Donald Trump replaces Secretary of State Rex Tillerson with the more hawkish Mike Pompeo, let’s note something that goes far beyond personnel to the heart of the American role in the world: The U.S. has abandoned a bipartisan consensus on human rights that goes back decades. I’m back from Myanmar, where leaders are finding that this is also the optimal time to commit genocide. The army conducted a scorched-earth campaign against the Rohingya ethnic minority, with soldiers throwing babies onto bonfires as they raped the mothers. What has Trump said to condemn Myanmar for these atrocities? Essentially nothing.

In the past, human rights was at least one thread of our foreign policy. This was pursued inconsistently, grudgingly or hypocritically, and it jostled constantly with realpolitik considerations, but in the past it was one of the factors in play.

READ MORE: Number 10 condemns Donald Trump for spreading Britain First videos

I periodically assailed Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush for not doing more after atrocities in Syria, Darfur or South Sudan, but both Obama and Bush were clearly anguished and frustrated that they didn’t have better tools to stop the slaughter. In contrast, Trump seems simply indifferent. Trump defended Vladimir Putin for killing critics (“What? You think our country’s so innocent?”), and praised Egypt’s brutal president, Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, for “a fantastic job.” Trump hailed the Philippines’ president, Rodrigo Duterte, whose dirty war on drugs has claimed 12,000 lives, for an “unbelievable job on the drug problem.”

Sarah Margon of Human Rights Watch notes in Foreign Affairs that when Trump visited Manila, he laughed as Duterte called reporters “spies” — in a country where aggressive journalism has landed people in the morgue.

“In country after country, the Trump administration is gutting U.S. support for human rights,” Margon writes. So dictators see a clear field: A record number of journalists are in prison worldwide, by the count of the Committee to Protect Journalists. Joel Simon, the organization’s executive director, says Trump has met with the leaders of each of the three top jailers of journalists — China, Russia and Turkey — and as far as we know, has never raised the issue of press freedom with them.

“What’s completely gone is the bipartisan consensus that was a cornerstone of our foreign policy, that if you imprison journalists and restrict the media, there will be consequences,” Simon said. In Cambodia, Prime Minister Hun Sen approvingly cited Trump’s attacks on fake news as a precedent for closing down radio stations and the much admired newspaper Cambodia Daily. After the crackdown, in November, Trump posed for a photograph with Hun Sen, flashing a thumbs-up — and Hun Sen praised the American president for his lack of interest in human rights.

“Your policy is being changed,” Hun Sen declared gratefully, and he lauded Trump for being “most respectful.”

READ MORE: US Congress asks if Russian cash funded Trump’s golf courses

Trump told the king of repressive Bahrain, “there won’t be strain with this administration.” Nabeel Rajab, a heroic Bahraini who is one of the Arab world’s leading human rights campaigners, says the government responded a few days later by killing five protesters — and, just last month, the government followed up again by sentencing Rajab himself to five years in prison for his tweets. Trump’s soft spot for authoritarianism goes way back. He has spoken sympathetically of the Chinese government’s massacres of pro-democracy protesters in 1989, and of Saddam Hussein’s approach to counterterrorism. Important human rights jobs in the administration aren’t even filled, although some conservatives are rallying support for the appointment of Michael Horowitz of the Hudson Institute, which would be a good first step.

Periodically, Trump does raise human rights issues, but only to bludgeon enemies like North Korea or Venezuela. This is so ham-handed and hypocritical that it simply diminishes American standing further.

In some respects, Trump has united the world. Against us.

A recent Gallup poll shows that across 134 countries, approval of the United States has collapsed to a record low of 30 percent. Indeed, more people now approve of China than of the United States. Russia is just behind us.

“Trump has been a disaster for U.S. soft power,” says Gary Bass of Princeton University. “He’s so hated around the world that he’s radioactive. So on those rare occasions when he does something about human rights, it only tarnishes the cause.”

This is a tragedy for the United States. But the greatest loss is felt by people who are helpless as loved ones are raped, tortured or murdered. In Myanmar, a young Rohingya man pleaded with me: “Please don’t let us be treated as animals. Please. Please. Don’t break our trust.” What do we tell him?

© 2018 New York Times News Service

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