{"JP":[ {"NewsSection":{"name":"scotland","detaillevel":"full", "Articles": {"count":25,"detaillevel":"full","articlesList":[ {"article": { "url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/ross-macfarlane-we-can-t-have-a-judge-spouting-from-the-bible-in-the-middle-of-the-street-1-4845520","id":"1.4845520","articleHeadline": "Ross Macfarlane: ‘We can’t have a judge spouting from the Bible in the middle of the street. . .’","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1545136141000 ,"articleLead": "

It all started so innocently…

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4845519.1545134417!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The annual concert has become a firm festive favourite. Illustration by Lesley-Anne Barnes Macfarlane"} ,"articleBody": "

It all started so innocently…November 1996: I was a ­fairly new advocate and ­having a cup of tea in the advocates’ reading room with a colleague, Eric Robertson. The reading room resembles a 19th century gentleman’s club stuffed full of antique furniture and is where advocates retire to dodge work, chat to their chums, and generally lick their wounds from their most recent mauling by the Appeal Court.

The chat turned to an enormous Christmas tree recently installed nearby, in the centre of Parliament Square. It was certainly festive.

We joked that we half expected to see Harry Secombe under it dressed as Mr Bumble, a bell in hand, singing O Come, All Ye Faithful. Eric and I laughed, both having had long experience of singing in choirs. “Next thing you know, there’ll be a choir standing under that big tree shaking tins for the homeless…”

What happened next can only be described as a pure Hollywood moment. It was that let’s-put-the-show-on-right-here! scene. Within five minutes, we’d concocted a plan to identify any decent singers in the Faculty of Advocates and drag them out for half an hour to sing carols under that big tree and raise ­money for the homeless charity Edinburgh City Mission.

Over the next few days, we had dragooned a soprano, three altos and a temporary sheriff. Then Eric came bounding in – and the conversation went something like this:

Eric: “I’ve done it! I’ve got us a judge!”

Me (incredulous): “A judge??? A judge who’ll sing under a tree?”

Eric: “No – a judge to do a Christmas reading.”

Me: “We can’t have a judge standing under a tree in the middle of the street spouting the Bible. This is Edinburgh. We’d be arrested for a breach of the peace…”

At that point, it was decided that we’d better do the whole thing indoors. Suddenly, I felt as if I were trapped inside a giant snowball speeding down Calton Hill, gathering momentum, destined to crash into Santa’s Grotto at Jenners.

So we scrambled around and booked a venue (St Andrew’s and St George’s) and the whole event ­suddenly took on a sheen of respectability. Other Members of Faculty came forward and wanted to take part – Andrew Hardie (at that time, Dean of Faculty – later, Lord ­Hardie), Paul Cullen (at that time, the Solicitor General – later, Lord Pentland) and Sheriff Nigel ­Thomson all volunteered their ­services as readers.

Other Members of Faculty, ­families and friends stepped up to create a dedicated and formidable-sounding choir. Two and a half rehearsals later in a freezing room with a tuning fork and a clapped-out organ and we sounded like angels.

I devised the programme – and we were all ready to go. This was going to be a great (if exhausting) one-off.

Then, two days before the concert, without warning, my father died. I was too upset to take part in the event. I was too upset to sit in the audience. The first concert went ahead and I sat at home.

Later that night, there was a ring on my doorbell. A friend, the ­solicitor Sheila Barker, had come to see me. She had been at the concert. She said that it had been a “wonderful event” and we had “raised lots of money for the homeless”. As she left, almost as an afterthought, she said: “And I’m so looking forward to the concert again next year…” It hadn’t occurred to me before that moment that this would be ­anything more than a one-off event, but this week, as we prepare for our 2018 concert, this year’s concert at St Andrew’s and St George’s will be our 23rd consecutive Christmas concert.

Over that time we’ve had the great and good pitch up to do their bit for charity. With various Lord ­Presidents, Justice-Clerks, author Alexander McCall Smith, and selected grumpy judges ­reading King Herod – how could you go wrong?

Inevitably, since 1996, the changes in the choir read like the births, deaths and marriages section of The Scotsman – our choristers have come and gone with their romances, or divorces, or the birth of children. Some of the children who weren’t born at the time of that first concert have now sung with us or have done readings for us. Twenty two unbroken years, all in aid of ­helping the homeless at Christmas and raising tens of thousands of pounds over that time.

The choir itself has gone from strength to strength under the musical directorship of Neil Beynon, advocate. He has conducted us in St Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, in Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris and St Mark’s in ­Venice.

For me, the best part of the whole thing is the joy that comes with standing there, being with friends and singing – creating that beautiful sound.

There’s a special sound that’s ­created when friends and family sing together. And we have that.

Oh, and by the way – the choir sounds great this year. In fact, one of our choristers once sang backing vocals for Barry Manilow. But maybe that’s a story for another time...

The Faculty of Advocates Christmas Concert is tonight at 7pm (doors open at 6.30pm) at St Andrew’s and St George’s West Church, George Street, Edinburgh. The concert lasts for just over an hour and admission is free. The concert comprises community carol singing, choral singing and festive readings, sacred and secular. Children are welcome.

Readers this year include Gordon Jackson QC. All donations will go to Edinburgh City Mission.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4845519.1545134417!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4845519.1545134417!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The annual concert has become a firm festive favourite. Illustration by Lesley-Anne Barnes Macfarlane","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The annual concert has become a firm festive favourite. Illustration by Lesley-Anne Barnes Macfarlane","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4845519.1545134417!/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/lockerbie-anniversary-those-memories-they-stay-with-me-they-are-part-and-parcel-of-who-i-am-1-4845400","id":"1.4845400","articleHeadline": "Lockerbie anniversary: ‘Those memories, they stay with me, they are part and parcel of who I am’","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1545120260000 ,"articleLead": "

The 270 people killed when a passenger plane exploded over the town of Lockerbie 30 years ago will be remembered at services in Scotland and the US later this week.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4845399.1545120255!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "This year marks 30 years since the December 21 attack in 1988.''Picture: John Devlin"} ,"articleBody": "

Wreaths will be laid at a memorial garden in Lockerbie, Dumfries and Galloway, where the wreckage of the bombed Pan Am Flight 103 came down on the night of December 21 1988.

Eleven people died in the town, along with the 259 passengers and crew on board the New York-bound plane which had set off from Heathrow.

A low-key service on Friday will see victims’ relatives join members of the community who assisted in the aftermath of the atrocity, the largest act of mass murder committed on British soil in recent history.

The only person convicted of the bombing, former Libyan intelligence officer Abdelbaset al-Megrahi , died in 2012 after being released from Greenock jail on compassionate grounds.

Canon Patrick Keegans, parish priest in Lockerbie at the time of the disaster, will speak at Mass led by Bishop William Nolan at the town’s Holy Trinity Roman Catholic Church on Friday evening.

Mr Keegans survived as his street, Sherwood Crescent, was showered with debris that destroyed homes and killed his neighbours.

Now semi-retired and based in Prestwick, he said memories of that night would never leave those who lived through it.

The 72-year-old said: “It doesn’t go away, it stays with people.

“Especially those who have lost family and those who have been involved in any sort of way.

“It’s part of our life now. We live with it. We don’t live miserable, sad lives but there’s an undercurrent all the time.

“Those memories of the night and subsequent memories, they stay with me, they are part and parcel of who I am now.”

The majority of those on board the jet were American citizens, including 35 students of Syracuse University in New York State.

A memorial will be held at the university and at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, where a cairn made from Lockerbie stone stands in memory of those who died.

A 30th anniversary service will also be held at FBI headquarters in Washington DC.

Kara Weipz, from New Jersey, lost her 20-year-old brother Rick Monetti, a Syracuse student, and will attend the ceremony at Arlington, where around 500 people are expected to gather. She was 15 and home sick from school the day of the disaster, and had to break the news to her parents when they returned from work.

The mother of three, who is president of the Victims of Pan Am Flight 103 group, said ahead of the anniversary: “I don’t think it gets easier, I think it’s just different.

“The sadness takes different forms. I have an 18-year-old who in the fall (autumn) will be heading off to college, so I think now how my parents must have felt.

“But myself and others are also looking at what we’ve done in 30 years - look at this awful thing that happened to us, and look how we’ve come together, how we’ve enacted change, created our own family and been there for one another.”

She added: “We can’t change things, we can’t bring them back, but we can look at the fact that we have always honoured them with the way we live our lives and the things we do, and that’s the best way we can remember them, 30 years later.”

Back in Scotland, a Walk of Peace has been arranged by the Church of Scotland on Saturday to remember those who died.

People will climb Burnswark Hill near Lockerbie in silence following a special service at Tundergarth Parish Church the previous day.

The church is close to where the nose cone of the plane, Clipper Maid of the Seas, came to rest.

The Rev Adam Dillon, Clerk to the Presbytery of Annandale and Eskdale, said: “The horror of the night will live on in the memories of those who lived in Tundergarth and Lockerbie. This 30th anniversary gives the communities a chance to focus on looking forward - drawing on the resilience and temerity that has been required of them since 1988. My thoughts and prayers remain with all affected.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4845399.1545120255!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4845399.1545120255!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "This year marks 30 years since the December 21 attack in 1988.''Picture: John Devlin","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "This year marks 30 years since the December 21 attack in 1988.''Picture: John Devlin","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4845399.1545120255!/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/bill-jamieson-mackay-no-change-budget-belies-big-risks-1-4844593","id":"1.4844593","articleHeadline": "Bill Jamieson: Mackay ‘no change’ budget belies big risks","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1544916884000 ,"articleLead": "

Move on, nothing to see here,” sums up the muted reaction to Scotland’s budget unveiled last week. Barring grumbles from higher rate taxpayers on freezing of the tax threshold, there was relief – and particularly over the upgrading of economic growth forecasts by the Scottish Fiscal Commission.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4844592.1544887622!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "UK Chancellor Philip Hammond's generosity will benefit Scots through the Block Grant. Picture: Getty Images"} ,"articleBody": "

A quiet period ahead, then? No. Finance Minister Derek Mackay may have struggled for attention amid the deepening roar of the Brexit crisis and feverish speculation that a general election may not now be far off. And if there is anything more likely to impact even harder on business and household confidence, it is the prospect of a bitter and divisive political battle – and the prospect of a Jeremy Corbyn Labour government emerging from the carnage.

But there is something else that could overwhelm this modest budget package. For there is every sign that the UK political crisis is masking an economic one. Reassuring though the mildly more positive SFC forecasts may be, they could be blown off course by a gathering international slowdown, with talk of recession across both the US and the Eurozone. In a widespread world trade and investment downturn, Scotland would not be immune, particularly as that SFC forecast of higher near-term growth does not stem from an underlying improvement in our economic performance.

There is little that gives cheer in the SFC’s analysis. It is looking out on an economy that has barely any spring in its step. Average annual GDP growth since 2010 has been around one per cent, below the rate of GDP growth in earlier decades. Set in this context, its latest forecasts of 1.4 per cent growth his year, and 1.2 per cent next, while higher than its forecasts of a year ago, can hardly be hailed as a break-out from this low-growth performance. Indeed, it goes on to state that, even if we avoid a “hard” Brexit, it does not expect this stronger growth to be sustained beyond next year. It says growth will be subdued in the longer term, averaging just over one per cent over the next five years. This, it explains, is primarily the result of slow productivity growth that has been declining in Scotland since the early 2000s.

As if this in itself was not dispiriting enough, the reasons cited for the upgrading of its earlier forecasts are of equal concern.

That stronger than expected growth is the result of two developments. One is traced to the release of the new data and revisions to past GDP data – that is, an uplift that owes much to statistical corrections. One should not deny the statisticians their improved spectacles – and the brighter light they bring.

The second reason cited is that government expenditure in Scotland “is expected to grow significantly faster than we had previously forecast”. This has been driven primarily by increases in UK government spending in its budget in October. These increases, passed on to Scotland via the Block Grant, “also increases the budget for the Scottish government. We expect this,” says the SFC, “to support higher GDP growth over the next five years.”

The SNP administration would be most unlikely to advance this interpretation. Its line is that Scotland is still groaning under the yoke of Westminster austerity. But whichever side on this you take, there is a more troubling implication beneath: that what improvement in growth we may be enjoying is due to higher government spending, however it is disbursed, and productivity need not bother us much – just so long as that spending keeps growing.

But that leads us directly into trouble. Keep stoking the money furnaces of public expenditure and the economy – or more precisely those statistical measurements – will appear to glow with health. This is uncomfortably close to the model espoused for decades in state-dominated economies: the more the state directs and spends, the healthier and more prosperous the people – until, that is, the people, stripped of the ability to make their own choices, can stand it no longer.

For government expenditure to increase as this model requires, the greater the amount that the state must borrow, or the higher that tax revenues must be driven.

But this works only up to a point. People will seek a way to mitigate the ever-rising tax burden – the “behavioural response” that economists such as Professor David Bell have long warned about. People move, or seek reward in other forms, or seek protection in tax-sheltered pension saving, or are simply disinclined to work more. Whatever the response, it brings the risk that government tax revenues fall short of those linear statistical progressions.

The SFC now warns that we may be close to this tipping point and that the growing income tax gap with the rest of the UK could put some people off coming to work in Scotland.

The extra effective tax bite on Scotland’s higher earners in last week’s budget may seem modest enough: by not passing on a tax break for higher earners announced by the UK Chancellor in October, people earning £50,000 here will now find themselves paying £1,500 more income tax than elsewhere in the UK.

The SFC says this could make people “think twice” about working here. And it predicted it would also make others consider leaving Scotland or changing their residency status, and would have an impact on whether people go for a promotion or work more hours.

Overall, the SFC forecasts that this “behavioural change” will reduce income tax revenues in Scotland by about £6 million a year. But that is unlikely to cause Mr Mackay sleepless nights – after all, freezing the threshold for the higher rate of tax is estimated to raise an additional £68 million.

Meanwhile, the Scottish Government argues that the country has a fairer tax regime than the rest of the UK, with residents getting perks such as free university tuition and personal care that other parts of the UK do not offer.

But the more the state spends, the more functions and services it undertakes, the more it is at risk when the economy stalls and slows. When tax revenues decline and spending has to be cut, restraint by government in such a politicised environment becomes all the more difficult to enforce.

A quiet, “no change” budget may be the verdict for now. But it may have sown the seeds of mighty problems in the years to come.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Bill Jamieson"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4844592.1544887622!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4844592.1544887622!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "UK Chancellor Philip Hammond's generosity will benefit Scots through the Block Grant. Picture: Getty Images","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "UK Chancellor Philip Hammond's generosity will benefit Scots through the Block Grant. Picture: Getty Images","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4844592.1544887622!/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/business/tories-call-on-mackay-to-avoid-wider-tax-gap-in-budget-1-4841427","id":"1.4841427","articleHeadline": "Tories call on Mackay to avoid wider tax gap in budget","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1544313299000 ,"articleLead": "

The tax gap between Scotland and the rest of the UK must not grow wider when Finance Secretary Derek Mackay unveils his Budget this week, the Scottish Conservatives have said.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4841426.1544306215!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Derek Mackay has been urged by Tory finance spokesman Murdo Fraser to focus on growth. Picture: Andrew acColl/Rex/Shutterstock"} ,"articleBody": "

Mackay raised eyebrows last week when he hinted that there is still scope to tax higher earners more north of the border, despite concerns from business leaders over the impact on the economy and key professions.

He has been under pressure over the issue in recent months since Chancellor Philip Hammond unveiled plans in his budget for 2019/20 to provide middle earners with an effective tax cut by extending the threshold at which they start paying the “higher” 40 pence rate to £50,000 – compared with £43,430 in Scotland.

Even if Mackay decides to raise this by inflation to £44,470, it would still mean an average Scot in the higher tax band would be left with a bill of £1,350.

Perhaps the more substantial issue is the impact on economic growth as Scotland’s tax base will have a direct impact on public spending in 2019/20 as the post-Smith Commission “safety net” is removed. If the public spending raised through devolved taxes such as income tax, Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT) and landfill tax falls short, the Scottish exchequer loses out.

Mackay has been meeting with opposition parties in recent weeks as he seeks to do a deal, but a demand for local government tax reform from his usual budget partners, the Greens, has so far thwarted an agreement. Labour and the Liberal Democrats both want steeper tax hikes, which could prove problematic, while the Tories’ call for a second independence referendum to be dropped rules out a deal with Ruth Davidson’s party.

As the pressure builds on Mackay over tax, Tory finance spokesman Murdo Fraser said it is time to focus on growth.

“We’ve asked them to commit to no widening of the income tax differential between us and the rest of the UK at the very least,” he said.

“We would like to see it closed, but politics is the art of the possible, so at the minimum: no widening.”

SNP strategists feel the popularity of policies such as free university education, free prescriptions and free personal care for the elderly, as well as lower water and council tax charges, has resulted in a broader acceptance among middle-class Scots of the case for modest tax hikes.

But it remains contentious and was raised with Education Secretary John Swinney as he appeared at a School Leaders Scotland conference a fortnight ago, with a warning that the tax gap was discouraging qualified teachers from applying for promoted positions because so much of their additional salary would go on tax.

“This is a process and, as devolved income tax become more understood and more part of the political climate and there becomes a broader political debate around tax rates and their impact both on the economy and public services, I think we’ll see people becoming more concerned about it,” Fraser added.

The Scottish Government overhauled the income tax system for 2018/19 after control over rates and bands was devolved to Holyrood. It saw the creation of five bands, including the new starter and intermediate rates.

The Chancellor’s changes for next year will mean higher earners pay significantly more in Scotland than elsewhere in the UK. Even if the Scottish income tax bands only move with inflation, workers making £50,000 north of the border face a tax bill £1,300 higher than their UK counterparts from April.

The Scottish Government has already seen £700 million added to its budget of about £33 billion in 2019/20 as a result of so-called Barnett consequentials – extra cash from Westminster – unveiled last year. But a gloomy outlook for the country’s tax base saw these revised down by £400m last year by the Scottish Fiscal Commission.

This did not affect public spending last year, but it will next year as the Westminster “safety net” is withdrawn. The situation will become clear when the Commission unveils its forecasts on Wednesday.

Fraser added: “We could be in a position where Derek Mackay has been given all this extra money from the UK government, but that additional sum is reduced because the fiscal commission downgrades their forecasts for income tax receipts within Scotland, which would politically send a very strong message that it’s Scotland’s economic underperformance which is adversely affecting the amount of money we have to spend on the public finances.

“By focusing on economic growth and improving productivity you can deliver more money for the public services without having to increase tax rates.”

The SNP has accused the Tories of “trying to con” voters with unaffordable tax cuts. The party cites analysis by the think tank IPPR Scotland which shows that bringing Scotland into line with the tax regime in the rest of the UK would cut revenue by £1bn in the next four years.

SNP MSP Angela Constance said: “The Tories are trying to con voters by promising extra spending while handing high earners a tax cut – it just doesn’t add up.”

Mackay vowed to protect “vital public services” and prioritise spending on health and education. He said: “Our policies have already ensured that Scotland benefits from quality public services and our progressive reforms to income tax have protected those on the lowest incomes.”

While he cited Brexit as continuing to be the “biggest threat to Scotland’s prosperity”, he insisted his proposals would “not be defined” by this.

Instead, he said the Budget “will set out how we help protect Scotland as far as we can from the damaging uncertainty of the UK government’s Brexit policy”.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Scott Macnab and CHRIS MARSHALL"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4841426.1544306215!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4841426.1544306215!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Derek Mackay has been urged by Tory finance spokesman Murdo Fraser to focus on growth. Picture: Andrew acColl/Rex/Shutterstock","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Derek Mackay has been urged by Tory finance spokesman Murdo Fraser to focus on growth. Picture: Andrew acColl/Rex/Shutterstock","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4841426.1544306215!/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/sport/more-in-sport/insight-mountain-rescue-volunteers-in-distress-over-helicopter-service-1-4834727","id":"1.4834727","articleHeadline": "Insight: Mountain rescue volunteers in distress over helicopter service","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1543142777000 ,"articleLead": "

It’s dark, you can barely see, the terrain underfoot is treacherous and a fierce, icy wind is cutting like a knife right through you. You can feel the weight of your gear, pressing heavy on your back. But you must keep going, one foot after the other, climbing ever higher through swirling snow and low cloud. You’re on a mission, the second of the night. Two people have gone missing on a plateau above, and it’s your job to find them.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4834726.1543148604!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Cairngorm Mountain Rescue Team above Coire an Lochain. Picture: Contributed"} ,"articleBody": "

Situations like this are all in a day’s work for the members of Scotland’s mountain rescue teams, who are on call round the clock every day of the year to go to the aid of anyone who gets into difficulty in the hills. They could be summoned while at work, as they sit down for Christmas dinner or while reading bedtime stories to their children.

As jobs go, it’s surely one of the most demanding, requiring specialist knowledge and rigorous training. But these men and women don’t get paid for it. They do it because they want to help people, but also because they love the mountains, are highly skilled and know their home turf better than anyone else.

“It’s not about individuals, it’s about the whole team,” said Al Gilmour, spokesman for Independent Scottish Mountain Rescue (iSMR), a coalition of the country’s four busiest teams. “There’s no room for hero worship. The most important thing is to work together and take no unnecessary risks. If a danger is avoidable, it should be avoided.

“It’s quite a remarkable thing. People are part of teams for decades. It becomes a major part of their life. Being a member is definitely a commitment for the whole family.

“But it’s very rewarding too. The teams work very hard to support each other after very traumatic rescues.”

In Scotland there are 27 civilian mountain rescue teams, staffed by more than 1,000 unpaid volunteers, as well as three police teams and an RAF team. Between them they offer a world-class search and rescue service, backed up by the emergency services.

But iSMR members have recently spoken out to criticise the level of assistance they receive from government-funded helicopter services. They feel air support coordinators value the lives of volunteers on the ground less than those of flight crews.

Lochaber, Cairngorms, Glencoe and Tayside teams have already been called out on 229 missions this year – more than for the whole of 2017.

Air support was historically provided by the RAF and Navy, but that has changed in recent years. New contracts signed in 2013 saw the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) take over the service, with aircraft operated by a private firm phased in over a two-year period from 2015. MCA has ten helicopter bases across the UK, four of them in Scotland – at Sumburgh in Shetland, Inverness in the Highlands, Stornoway in the Western Isles and Prestwick in the south-west.

Along with the contracts came the promise that provision would be “the same or better” than what had been provided by the military. But iSMR teams say the new service has failed to live up to this, despite repeated pleas over the past few years for improvements. Disappointed and frustrated that their concerns have been either ignored or dismissed, they took the decision to go public, posting a detailed explanation on their Facebook page.

“The teams have decided that they can no longer accept an apparent casual disregard for the safety of the volunteers shown by the agencies coordinating search and rescue helicopter operations,” their statement said.

They outline two main areas where they believe helicopter services are failing ground teams. The first centres on the lack of assistance provided when a person has died in the hills and the operation is to retrieve their remains. Such missions can be just as arduous and no less risky than a rescue, but helicopter support is not officially provided because fatalities are no longer “persons in distress”. This often leaves volunteers, exhausted and loaded with kit, facing long and dangerous descents while attempting to transport a body in the most respectful manner possible.

The second problem arises in the final phase of a rescue, once the casualty has been taken to safety. Helicopter support is often withdrawn at this point, abandoning ground teams to make their own way back to base – even though they may have been out for many hours and face a gruelling trek to reach a road.

Whether to airlift ground teams or equipment off the hill is left to the discretion of pilots and air crew and hinges on the risks involved. The iSMR believe it’s not fair that they have to make that call, since the well-being of volunteers is just as important.

“It is clear that our concerns cannot be resolved by asking the pilots and crews to fly beyond their ‘endurance’ criteria. We also realise that a significant consideration here is that helicopter crews must be given the opportunity to rest after flying intense technical missions in the mountains. However, experience shows that the agencies are often then unwilling to allocate another aircraft to finish the job.

“The inescapable conclusion to this is that either the aircraft and crews are too thinly spread to cover requirements or that the agencies do not view the welfare of the volunteer teams in the same way as they appreciate that of the pilots and crew.”

The reality is most rescues are carried out without air support, according to Gilmour.

“But the new contract does not take proper account of the responsibilities of rescuers,” he insists.

“They are at high risk during retrieval of a fatality and the chopper is not allowed to help unless a team member is injured. But we think they have a duty of care.

“The volume of incidents is growing and there is ongoing worry that someone could die. Volunteers are working in an incredibly difficult environment and need a bit of support.”

The MCA has insisted the work of all volunteers in search and rescue is valued.

A spokeswoman for the organisation said: “We know how much what they do matters. We also care greatly for our helicopter crews, who often put themselves at great risk to rescue others.

“There has been no change in the approach we take to the recovery by search and rescue helicopter of those who have sadly died in the mountains. In that respect, our helicopters follow the procedures previously operated by the much-respected military SAR service.

“That means that it is ultimately the aircraft captain’s decision to accept or decline a request to recover a confirmed fatality from the mountain, and we will always respect that decision. If a request is declined, it will usually be because the conditions at that moment in time do not warrant putting four helicopter crew and their passengers at extreme risk in a situation where time is no longer of the essence. Instead we will seek to undertake a recovery of this kind when the risk subsides.

“Our helicopter crews routinely demonstrate incredible bravery in rescuing others. Our Aeronautical Rescue Coordination Centre [ARCC] is made up of highly professional operators that task and coordinate our helicopters. We are immensely proud of the work of all those who play a part in this life-saving service that rescues or assists over 1,900 members of the public every year.”

Representatives of the other 23 volunteer teams stress the importance of all parties working together.

“Even an apparently simple rescue in the mountains will involve many agencies collaborating,” said Damon Powell, chair of the umbrella group Scottish Mountain Rescue.

“Scottish Mountain Rescue teams work closely with all our partner agencies and we spend considerable time working within the UK Search and Rescue framework, discussing and listening to the various challenges involved in a multi-agency rescue.

“The teams we represent understand that these discussions can be nuanced and complex and that the best outcome for any casualty is achieved if we work collaboratively and take the time to understand our partner agencies.”

The iSMR teams have been overwhelmed by the level of backing they have received from members of the public in response to their concerns.

Labour MSP Rhoda Grant raised the issue at First Minister’s Questions and SNP MP Ian Blackford has been liaising with the UK Department for Transport on behalf of iSMR. Scottish Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf has written to the teams, pledging to “take whatever steps we can to make sure they get any available support for the vital work they do”.

The ARCC is amending its operating procedures “to allow a more open and pragmatic approach to helicopter support for body recovery and lifting volunteers to and from the scene”.

This weekend, the iSMR was meeting Police Scotland, which is responsible for coordinating rescues. The force has proposed amendments to the MCA standard operating procedure to make provision for body recovery and clearing the hill. Talks with helicopter crews are also set to take place shortly.

Although control of helicopter rescue services lies with Westminster, Scottish leaders have stepped in to the row.

A spokesman for the Scottish Government said: “We have previously raised these issues with the Coastguard Agency, who are responsible for search and rescue helicopter support across the UK.

“Police Scotland have held discussions with the agency and have since written to the four independent teams about developments, and the response has been positive.”

The Scottish Government provides annual funding of £312,000 to be divided among the 27 civilian volunteer teams – the only administration in the UK to do so.

Other assistance is provided to supply radios and specialist stretchers.

Gilmour said: “Hopefully the strength of support that has been expressed will help the agencies on a longer journey to improve the welfare of the casualty and respect for the deceased and their families, and potentially promote the effectiveness of all volunteer mountain rescue teams by experiencing less avoidable risk and being better able to be ready for the next rescue.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "ILONA AMOS"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4834726.1543148604!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4834726.1543148604!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Cairngorm Mountain Rescue Team above Coire an Lochain. Picture: Contributed","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Cairngorm Mountain Rescue Team above Coire an Lochain. Picture: Contributed","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4834726.1543148604!/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/tories-call-for-new-uk-wide-system-to-buy-medicines-1-4834718","id":"1.4834718","articleHeadline": "Tories call for new UK-wide system to buy medicines","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1543141333000 ,"articleLead": "

The Scottish Conservatives are seeking a meeting with health ministers across the UK in a bid to set up a single mechanism for the purchase of drugs which is currently devolved in Scotland.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4834717.1543141330!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Breast screening for cancer. Breast cancer drug Perjeta is still only available south of the border. Picture: Jane Barlow"} ,"articleBody": "

Shadow health secretary Miles Briggs is calling for a new system to purchase drugs and medical equipment and is championing a “once for the UK approach”.

This flies in the face of the current process which sees the Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) review new drugs that have received a licence before deciding if they can be made available for routine prescription.

The move comes as Westminster health and social care secretary Matt Hancock announced a new deal is being finalised with the pharmaceutical industry with the aim of saving the NHS £1 billion on medicines.

The new Voluntary Scheme for Branded Medicines Pricing and Access will also lead to a more flexible and streamlined commercial process which Hancock said will make the UK more attractive to investors. The scheme will cap spending across the UK and Scotland will receive a share of payments according to an approach agreed between the Scottish Government and the UK Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).

Briggs has highlighted the recent case of breast cancer drug Perjeta, which can extend life expectancy by 16 months, being made available to patients in England but not Scotland, after the SMC rejected it for prescription four times.

He has also raised concerns about the availability of so-called “ultra-orphan” drugs that are used to treat very rare conditions.

Briggs said: “If we are truly going to make sure Scottish patients can access the new medicines and achieve value for money for the public purse then we need to look towards the economies of scale.

“At present we do not have a mechanism to deliver UK-wide purchasing of medicines, especially in relation to ultra-orphan drugs like Orkambi for cystic fibrosis and we see situations where medicines such as the secondary breast cancer drug Perjeta are being made available to patients in England but not Scotland.

“Given the increase in the cost of drugs which the NHS is facing it is vital we try to achieve better value for money.”

Alison Culpan, director of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, said the new voluntary scheme will give the NHS “total certainty” the sales of branded medicines won’t grow at more than 2 per cent in any of the next five years.

She added: “Each devolved nation is responsible for its own spending in line with their health priorities, which may differ dependent upon need. We are working with SMC and the Scottish Government on a new ultra-orphan pathway to make it easier for patients to get speedy access to these much needed medicines”.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We do not agree with this suggestion. Scottish Government investment over recent years has greatly increased patients’ access to new medicines – and we are already working with the other UK administrations to increase transparency in pricing.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Kevan Christie"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4834717.1543141330!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4834717.1543141330!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Breast screening for cancer. Breast cancer drug Perjeta is still only available south of the border. Picture: Jane Barlow","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Breast screening for cancer. Breast cancer drug Perjeta is still only available south of the border. Picture: Jane Barlow","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4834717.1543141330!/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/general-election/scottish-independence-campaigners-aim-to-thrive-on-brexit-turmoil-1-4834694","id":"1.4834694","articleHeadline": "Scottish independence campaigners aim to thrive on Brexit turmoil","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1543103704000 ,"articleLead": "

Independence campaigners are mobilising as they seek to “seize the opportunity” presented by the Brexit turmoil engulfing UK politics, leading figures among pro-nationalist groups have said.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4834693.1543131384!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Independence supporters march in Glasgow in May. Picture: Andy Buchanan/Getty"} ,"articleBody": "

They say Nicola Sturgeon will “absolutely get a mandate” to stage a second referendum if she puts it to the people at the next Holyrood election, as Westminster continues to withold authority.

But the First Minister has been warned she must adopt a radical approach to persuade Scots that a Yes vote will avert the looming “cliff edge” of Brexit and transform the country’s fortunes.

It has prompted claims from pro-Union groups that nationalists will “never stop” campaigning for independence despite no shift in the polls towards a majority for independence.

Sturgeon has come under fresh pressure to set out her timetable for a second referendum after publication of the final EU Withdrawal Deal was met with derision and appears likely to be rejected in the Commons.

“Across the board in the Yes movement there is a real appetite to seize this moment of opportunity,” said Green MSP Ross Greer, who was also communities co-ordinator with the official Yes Scotland group during the last campaign.

“A UK state that is in complete crisis, that is bogged down in its own contradictions, is causing this damage to Scotland and the UK as a whole in such a visible public way.”

He said “huge numbers” of people were getting involved in such things as marches outwith the formal party political campaigns.

“The opportunity we have to really give the independence vision a shot in the arm is to give a vision of how things can be better – or how do we mitigate the damage of this bad decision, but present a vision for society that says this doesn’t have to be Scotland’s long-term future.”

The Scottish Independence Convention, an umbrella body of 20 pro-independence groups recently announced plans to take on two full-time employees as part of a drive get support for a Yes vote above 50 per cent. It came after a fundraising drive secured more than £90,000.

Vice-convener Dave Thompson, who also heads up Christians for Independence, said: “We need to be prepared. That’s why we’re setting up the company and employing staff and getting ourselves organised. We need to be ready for whenever that campaign happens. At the moment, it’s very difficult to know when that’s going to be.

“We’re ready any time. We could go very quickly, but if it’s a bit further down the line. we’re ready for that as well.”

Margaret Young, national co-ordinator with Women for Independence, said local groups had been forming in recent months even without any particular promotional activity.

“Throughout 2018 we’ve had about one new group a month forming,” she added.

The roadblock facing the SNP at Holyrood as it seeks to hold another vote is the fact that Westminster has control over the constitution and Theresa May has refused to grant the “section 30” order which would pave the way for a second vote. The First Minister has ruled out a Catalonia-style vote without legal backing and indicated last week that she may put the referendum to the people by making it the centrepiece of the Holyrood election in 2021. If a pro-independence majority was returned, such as the current SNP-Greens alliance at Holyrood, it would be seen as an irrefutable mandate.

Greer added: “In those circumstances I think you absolutely can get a mandate to win another referendum and in that situation any continued opposition from the UK government would just be completely unsustainable.”

The last independence campaign initially floundered, Greer said, when it sought to allay voters fears’ of leaving the UK with the message change would “safe” and minimal.

“The public know independence is a massively radical step,” he added.

“We need to justify why that radical step is necessary and will result in better things. We need a compelling message from the start.”

But pro-Union campaigners insist there is no appetite for independence among most Scots as the post-Brexit chaos ensues.

Pamela Nash, chief executive of Scotland in Union, said: “This is a stark reminder that nationalist groups will never stop campaigning for a divisive and unnecessary second independence referendum.

“We know from polls that the majority of people in Scotland want to remain in the UK.

“But there must be absolutely no complacency. The SNP and its allies are weaponising Brexit in the hope of boosting support for leaving the UK.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Scott Macnab"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4834693.1543131384!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4834693.1543131384!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Independence supporters march in Glasgow in May. Picture: Andy Buchanan/Getty","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Independence supporters march in Glasgow in May. Picture: Andy Buchanan/Getty","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4834693.1543131384!/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/leader-scottish-labour-s-invisible-man-1-4831506","id":"1.4831506","articleHeadline": "Leader: Scottish Labour’s invisible man","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1542498380000 ,"articleLead": "

Richard Leonard wants to win the battle of ideas. And says he is making progress.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4831505.1542495043!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Richard Leonard has a far lower public profile than his predecessor, Kezia Dugdale. Picture: John Devlin"} ,"articleBody": "

But the man who has been leader of Scottish Labour for a year now needs to win the battle to be recognised first.

Before writing this Scotland on Sunday conducted a completely unscientific poll asking eight readers about Richard Leonard. The most common response: “Who’s Richard Leonard?”

Amid the backdrop of Brexit, and the ongoing grumbles about Scotland not being properly represented, Nicola Sturgeon is the pre-eminent voice, alongside Ruth Davidson,

Scotland needs a strong Labour party and there is scope for the Yorkshireman to make his mark; but he hasn’t been able to get his message across, however strong that message might be.

Even in the Holyrood chamber at First Minister’s Questions he’s looked weak.

Indeed, Scottish Labour has made the headlines more for removing members of the shadow cabinet and its weak stance on Brexit.

Modern politics, like it or not, is about personalities. Kezia Dugdale was able to connect with voters, but Leonard looks a novice by comparison.

Ideas are important, but if few people are listening this counts for nothing.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4831505.1542495043!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4831505.1542495043!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Richard Leonard has a far lower public profile than his predecessor, Kezia Dugdale. Picture: John Devlin","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Richard Leonard has a far lower public profile than his predecessor, Kezia Dugdale. Picture: John Devlin","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4831505.1542495043!/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/lifestyle/slam-poets-open-mic-nights-sweep-the-nation-1-4831435","id":"1.4831435","articleHeadline": "Slam poets’ open mic nights sweep the nation","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1542495662000 ,"articleLead": "

Once it was karaoke, but now the big night out sees hundreds of Scots queuing up to give their take on life in rhyme on everything from Donald Trump and hate crime to love and break-ups at poetry slams.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4831434.1542478998!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Slam poet Patty Vengeance gives a performance. Picture: Scott Carroll"} ,"articleBody": "

With instant feedback and no need for the hassle and expense of finding a publisher, aspiring poets, especially those in the under-30 demographic, are signing up for the sessions in pubs, clubs, cafés, universities and church halls.

Open mic nights, complete with rappers, have also been hosted by Scotland’s prisons with plans being mooted for using prison radio to showcase prisoners’ contributions.

More than 60 poetry open mic nights are held in Edinburgh and Glasgow each month alone, with dozens more across the country, some in Gaelic and Scots.

The democratic art form, which has boomed over the past five years, also features “Insta-poets” such as Edinburgh-born former Scottish Slam Champion Iona Lee, Rupi Kaur, RM Drake and Amanda Lovelace. They post their work on Instagram to accrue millions of followers. The social media service features more than 19 million posts with the hashtag #poetry.

Colin Waters, the communications manager for the Scottish Poetry Library in Edinburgh, said the library’s God Damn Debut Slams, held every month for people performing new material, were attracting capacity crowds.

“Slam poetry is very conversational, very energetic, full of rough and tumble, less literary and tends to be about subjects which are very personal, political or observational,” he said. “This can cover the ‘hot button’ issues of the day from diversity to the fall-out from austerity.

“We’re looking at future stars in the making at the very start of their careers. You don’t have to have money to take part and younger people especially are responding to it.

“It’s a million miles away from ‘old school’ poetry readings, which usually see a well-known poet read from his or her work while the audience sits quietly listening before asking a polite question or two at the end.

“I’d say it’s a case of the times and art form chiming – very much cometh the hour, cometh the art form. Poetry has come through and found its voice.”

Data provider Neilsen Book Scan – which compiles publishing bestseller charts – has reported a hike of 66 per cent in the number of poetry book sales over the past five years, with more than a million books sold at a value of £11.1m.

Ryan Dobbin,of Fife College, which has a contract with the Scottish Prison Service to run education classes at Edinburgh, Polmont and Shotts prisons, said social media and open mic nights had changed the way people communicate.

An education project currently under way is focusing on the First World War and has seen some prisoners writing poetry, which is under consideration for broadcast, a radio play and producing art work on the theme.

One of the poems, ‘Promises Made Should Be Kept’, by a prisoner at Edinburgh Prison includes the verses:

Maps were redrawn, new states were formed overnight

Civil war, unrest, betrayal, no way to make things right.

The Brits wanted a Jewish “homeland” to be based in Palestine

750,000 Arabs later evacuated, but they were told all would be fine.

The conflict that followed persists to this very day

Tens of thousands left dead, but politicians still lead us all astray.

The blood-stained sand, unmarked graves and mother who wept

Was not the fault of the Arab Revolt, but of promises not kept.

Dobbin said: “Prison reflects society and some people in prison, not a lot, might have already heard of the war poets like Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon who were based at Craiglockhart in Edinburgh.

“Social media and open mics have changed how people communicate, making people’s work more accessible.

“The barrier we have is that we don’t have the internet or social media, so we’re looking at recording some of the work for broadcast on prison radio.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Shn Ross"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4831434.1542478998!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4831434.1542478998!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Slam poet Patty Vengeance gives a performance. Picture: Scott Carroll","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Slam poet Patty Vengeance gives a performance. Picture: Scott Carroll","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4831434.1542478998!/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/euan-mccolm-why-jeremy-corbyn-s-stooge-picked-the-wrong-side-1-4827601","id":"1.4827601","articleHeadline": "Euan McColm: Why Jeremy Corbyn’s stooge picked the wrong side","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1541954906000 ,"articleLead": "

Scottish Labour has earned its ‘branch office’ credentials by sitting on the fence over the People’s Vote, writes Euan McColm

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4827599.1541954903!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Neither Richard Leonard nor Jeremy Corbyn want to stand in the way of Brexit. Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty"} ,"articleBody": "

Scottish Labour’s epic quest to become truly irrelevant continues apace. Rather than seeing the loss of swathes of supporters during the 2014 independence referendum campaign as evidence it had to do more to connect with voters, the party that once dominated our national politics seemed to take that humiliation as a challenge. Think we can turn off punters, do you? You ain’t seen nothing yet. Last week members of the Scottish Parliament were invited to participate in a vote on support for a second EU referendum, a so-called “People’s Vote”, on the terms of whatever Brexit deal the prime minister is able to negotiate. A majority were in favour. This was unsurprising enough. After all, most MSPs – in line with the majority of Scots – supported the Remain campaign in the 2016 referendum.

By 65 to 30, MSPs asserted their support for giving the voters the right to accept or reject Brexit in whatever shape it ultimately takes.

Keen-eyed followers of the machinations of the Scottish Parliament will have noticed that more than a quarter of Holyrood’s politicians decided not to take a position on this, the dominant political issue of our times. Take a bow, Scottish Labour which – having been asked to take a stand – decided to abstain.

With the honourable exceptions of former leader Kezia Dugdale and Edinburgh Southern MSP Daniel Johnson, who both supported a Liberal Democrat call for a People’s Vote, the Labour group at the Scottish Parliament took the weasels’ way out and refused to commit to either position.

While Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard struck another blow in favour of political irrelevance, members of the SNP, Greens and Lib Dems united against the Tories to win the day.

The Holyrood vote was, we should remember, symbolic; the Scottish Parliament has no authority to call a People’s Vote. But symbolism matters in politics. In the aftermath of the 2014 independence referendum, Scottish Labour struggled to make sense of the political environment in which it found itself. Yes, it had been on the winning side of that particular constitutional argument, but victory came at a cost: many one-time Labour supporters who had voted Yes decided that the SNP better represented them.

Labour’s uncertainty – its position on a potential second independence referendum seemed to be fluid, shifting from downright hostility to equivocal support and back – benefited only the SNP and the Conservatives, whose leader, Ruth Davidson, swiftly established herself as the champion of those Scots (the majority, remember) who supported the maintenance of the United Kingdom.

The temptation is to say that Scottish Labour has learned no lessons from that experience, that it should have swiftly positioned itself with the majority of Scots who voted Remain. But while the party should, indeed, have stood with the 62 per cent who saw through the Leave campaign’s case, its failure to so do is not a sign of political naivety but of its new priorities.

Under UK leader Jeremy Corbyn – a career-long Eurosceptic who insists he voted Remain – Labour is determined not to stand in the way of Brexit.

The more gullible among Corbyn’s supporters may delude themselves that he offers the best chance of preventing, or at least ameliorating, the worst effects of departure from the European Union, but those people simply aren’t paying close enough attention to their leader’s action. Time and again he has refused to challenge Prime Minister Theresa May on her Brexit plans, instead maintaining the pathetically weak line that it’s time for another general election. Corbyn placed the ball in May’s court, knowing that she would stick a knife in it. Of course she’s not going to call an election, is she?

So, there it is. What passes for Labour policy on the single biggest issue facing the UK is an impotent demand for the prime minister to commit an act of political self-immolation. This is not the position of a party that takes at all seriously warnings that Brexit will harm the economy, costing jobs in areas which might never fully recover from the impact.

On Friday, Tory transport minister Jo Johnson – younger brother of Boris – resigned from May’s government and announced his support for a People’s Vote. Johnson, a Remain voter in 2016, issued a statement in which he said the Brexit deal currently being negotiated with the European Union would be “a terrible mistake”. Johnson argued that Britain was on the brink of its greatest crisis since the Second World War and pointed out – not unreasonably – that what was now on offer was nothing like what was promised by Brexiteers during the campaign of two years ago.

This is where we are now: the old Etonian brother of Boris Johnson is a more formidable champion than the leader of the Labour Party for those, already struggling, who’ll be hit hardest by Brexit.

Scottish Labour’s Richard Leonard is only the latest in a line of leaders to have faced the accusation from the SNP that his party is little more than a “branch office”, taking orders from the imperial capital.

Often the nationalists’ “London Labour” jibe was rather unfair. Various Scottish Labour leaders established their own agendas, distinctive from the UK party’s.

But in the case of Leonard’s Scottish Labour, the charge sticks.

When Labour MSPs abstained during the vote on whether there should be a second EU referendum, they put loyalty to Corbyn before loyalty to the majority of their voters.

Dugdale’s decision to vote in support of another referendum shows how different things would have been had she not been hounded out of office by Corbynistas. Scottish Labour would have found itself, for the first time in a long time, standing with the majority.

It appears that Leonard’s Scottish Labour exists to assist Jeremy Corbyn in his project to reshape his party rather than to fight on behalf of the weakest in society.

If this is not so, how else might we explain Scottish Labour’s shameful cowardice over Brexit?

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Euan McColm"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4827599.1541954903!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4827599.1541954903!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Neither Richard Leonard nor Jeremy Corbyn want to stand in the way of Brexit. Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Neither Richard Leonard nor Jeremy Corbyn want to stand in the way of Brexit. Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4827599.1541954903!/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/sport/golf/revealed-donald-trump-s-plan-to-build-housing-and-luxury-villas-on-ayrshire-farmland-1-4827722","id":"1.4827722","articleHeadline": "Revealed: Donald Trump’s plan to build housing and luxury villas on Ayrshire farmland","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1541930880000 ,"articleLead": "

The Trump Organisation is planning to build swathes of housing and luxury villas on hundreds of acres of land next to its loss-making Turnberry resort, Scotland on Sunday can reveal.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4827720.1541921776!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Donald Trumpat his Trump Turnberry clubhouse."} ,"articleBody": "

The firm, owned by US president Donald Trump, is urging officials to greenlight the major development across a vast tract of farmland in the remote corner of South Ayrshire.

Neither the Trump Organisation nor Trump Turnberry have made public the controversial plans, but Trump’s second son, Eric, has been personally overseeing the project for the past ten months.

Ralph Porciani, general manager of Trump Turnberry, told Scotland on Sunday the Trump Organisation was “excited” by the plans to develop the land, which he said was used only for “the odd bit of cattle grazing.”

Trump has previously boasted of having the right to build “at least a thousand houses” at Turnberry, and while Porciani expressed hope the venture would be “welcomed,” the 72-year-old may yet become embroiled in another battle with authorities in his mother’s homeland.

South Ayrshire Council’s planning service caution that Trump’s housing plan would result in the loss of “prime agricultural land” and have “significant visual impacts.” It also says the benefits of expanding Turnberry’s accommodation are “unsubstantiated.” However, a final decision has yet to be made.

While Trump’s purchase of the world-renowned golf course and hotel in April 2014 attracted international media coverage, less well known is the fact he simultaneously acquired a sprawling expanse of land to the north and east of the historic links course.

Spanning around 200 acres along the rugged Firth of Clyde coastline, it consists of agricultural land, outbuildings, and a disused runway which formed part of RAF Turnberry during both World Wars,

Now, the Trump Organisation has enlisted Covell Matthews, an Aberdeen-based architectural practice, in the hope of convincing the local authority to let the land be used for what it called a “logical extension” to Turnberry.

It promised that if two adjoining sites are included in the council’s new local development plan (LDP2) - a planning framework which decrees which sites will be developed, and which will be protected - Trump’s company will seek full planning permission for the housing and villas shortly after LDP2 is adopted, which could be as soon as late 2019.

Under the Trump Organisation’s proposals, some 87 houses would be built, extending the southern boundary of Maidens, a small coastal village with just 262 dwellings.

Correspondence sent to the council by Covell Matthews, obtained by Scotland on Sunday via the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004, states that the properties would reflect “a continuation of the town’s quaint spirit.” The houses would vary in size and type, and feature “large private gardens.”

Another letter sent by Covell Matthews in support of the extension to the Turnberry resort, located east of the A719, states: “The proposed site represents a logical extension to Trump Turnberry’s current hotel and leisure complex, expanding out from the existing villas whilst maintaining a connection to the golf courses.

“The vision for the site is to develop more villas to support the operations of the hotel and provide customers with alternative accommodation options.”

In both letters, Covell Matthews point to the Trump Organisation’s “excellent track record of investment in the area,” and claim that the undisclosed number of new villas would “create an obvious requirement for Trump Turnberry to employ more staff, which would be very positive for the area.”

Speaking to Scotland on Sunday, Porciani, who has been general manager at Turnberry for 15 years, said previous owners of the resort had tried and failed to develop the land, but he expected the Trump Organisation would prevail.

“What Eric [Trump] has done in the last year is zone the land out that he thinks is the best fit for, it and basically notify the council that it’s our plan to do it,” he said.

“We’ve still got at least 12 months of renovations to do at our villas, the spa, and leisure club, and then we need to add on some more venues. That’ll take us another 12 months, so it’ll probably be at the end of that [period] that we actually start to do more in depth meetings and plans.

“But definitely, does Turnberry want to it? 100 per cent yes. The Trump Organisation have it in their radar and are quite excited.”

He added: “It’s land that used for the odd bit of cattle grazing. We rent the land out to a farmer so he maintains it, it just sits there ticking over. I’d hope it would be welcomed and we would be able to do it, because I think it’;d bring a lot to the area.

“You look at some of the amazing golf courses in the Home Counties which have nice housing around them. I think it would add on an amazing opportunity for people in the area to move closer to Turnberry if they wanted to do that. It’s not often great housing in Turnberry comes up for sale.”

In a June 2016 interview with Reuters, Trump boasted that he had the right to create a major housing development at Turnberry, but stressed his focus was on politics.

He described his network of golf courses as “not really golf investments,” but “development deals,” explaining: “I have the right to build thousands of homes on the various properties I own, and I haven’t wanted to build them because frankly I’ve been busy doing other things, like running for president.

“It’s pretty simple. My golf holdings are really investments in thousands, many thousands of housing units and hotels. At some point the company will do them. Hopefully, I won’t because I will be president, but we’re in no rush to do them.”

In the interview, which coincided with the grand reopening of Turnberry after a major refurbishment, Trump added: “I would have the right to build at least a thousand houses on Turnberry, if I wanted to, again, if I wanted to. Right now I am doing something far more important than building houses.”

However, Trump’s presumption appears misplaced, at least in light of the criticism reserved by South Ayrshire Council’s planning service for his plans to make some of the biggest changes to Turnberry in its 112 year history.

It said the “large scale proposed development” for housing would result in the “loss of prime agricultural land and likely significant visual impacts,” adding that the landscape is “highly sensitive to new development.”

It described the land proposed for the luxury villas as an “extremely large” and “insensitive” site suggestion, with “poorly defined boundaries.” It added: “Potential for economic development but any benefits unsubstantiated.”

However, with the proposed LDP2 yet to be finalised, Trump’s plans remain very much on the table.

A spokeswoman for the council said: “As we have no settled position in terms of a proposed plan at this point, nothing has been definitely included or excluded at this time.”

Since taking over Turnberry - a four-time host of the Open Championship - Trump has yet to turn a profit. SLC Turnberry Limited, the firm behind the resort, ran up losses of £3.38m last year. Under his ownership, its losses now total close to £33m.

A source at Trump Turnberry said the development was seen as integral to stemming the heavy losses, but Porciani denied the project was being pursued for that reason.

He explained: “I’ve been given the job of getting Turnberry into the black. 2018 was always the year that I personally guaranteed we’d break even.

“We’re still working on renovating bedroom stock. We’ve renovated 150 [bedrooms] at the top of the hill, and we’re about a quarter or a third of the way through 86 bedrooms at the bottom. I’ve still got major renovations going on. My goal at the moment is to break even, then next year get it into profit, and thereafter to build that.

“The strategies are there to get Turnberry solid and into the black without any of that development.”

In a strategic report accompanying its latest accounts, published last month, Eric Trump, a director of the firm alongside his brother, Donald Jr, expressed confidence that the resort “will return to profitability in the short to medium term.”

It made no mention of the proposed housing or holiday villa plans, adding only that “further redevelopments are ongoing.”

Covell Matthews is currently working with Trump’s firms on £150m plans for a new mixed use development adjoining Trump International Golf Links, his inaugural Scottish resort. A planning application before Aberdeenshire Council proposes 500 homes and 50 ‘hotel cottages’. It has attracted thousands of objections to date.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4827720.1541921776!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4827720.1541921776!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Donald Trumpat his Trump Turnberry clubhouse.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Donald Trumpat his Trump Turnberry clubhouse.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4827720.1541921776!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4827721.1541921793!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4827721.1541921793!/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/1.4827721.1541921793!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"5809333482001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/environment/kelp-harvest-will-destroy-ecosystem-says-expert-1-4824209","id":"1.4824209","articleHeadline": "Kelp harvest will destroy ecosystem, says expert","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1541289013000 ,"articleLead": "

Plans to mechanically harvest tens of thousands of tonnes of kelp every year from Scotland’s seabeds would have a “devastating” impact on marine life and leave the world a “poorer place”, according to a leading seaweed expert.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4824208.1541270588!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Laminaria hyperborea offers a haven to marine life. Picture: imageBROKER/Rex/Shutterstock"} ,"articleBody": "

An Ayr firm has sparked controversy after seeking a licence from the Marine Scotland civil service directorate to harvest kelp off the west coast using specially adapted boats.

Marine Biopolymers (MBL) claims that over six years, it could harvest up to 33,800 tonnes per year of the seaweed Laminaria hyperborea, a large, leathery brown kelp.

It has proposed a range of sustainability measures, including allowing harvested beds to recover for five year spells.

But critics of its plans include the esteemed naturalist, Sir David Attenborough, who said it was vital Scotland’s kelp forests were protected.

Now, Professor Juliet Brodie, a merit researcher at the Natural History Museum, has warned that if the firm’s application is greenlit, it would have a ruinous impact on the wider marine ecosystem and risk the erosion of coastlines.

Brodie, who has spent decades studying the seaweeds of Britain, said she was “heartbroken” upon learning of the application by MBL.

She said kelp forests around Britain are as large as broadleaved land forests, and are some of the most productive ecosystems on the planet, supporting a variety of other seaweeds and animals, and serving as nurseries for Atlantic cod and pollock.

Brodie explained: “Kelp forests are unique and precious. Mechanical removal of kelp from the seabed will destroy this unique habitat. There will be no nurseries for fish, no protection of our coasts and the world will be a poorer place. We need to wake up to the destruction of these ecosystems before it is too late.”

MBL’s plans, the first of their kind in Scotland, include harvesting entire kelp plants, including their holdfasts, which house a host of different species, including worms, molluscs, and anemones, which in turn serve as food sources for fish and mammals such as seals and otters.

Brodie added: “We know from our work at the museum that this species is also threatened by climate change in the south of Britain. These Scottish populations of kelp are doing well at the moment, which could be an indication that they are resistant to the effects of warmer waters, making them even more vital to protect.”

However, David Mackie, co-founder of Marine Polymers, said the firm was “greatly alarmed” by some of Brodie’s remarks.

He said: “Her comments reflect a complete lack of scale or proportionality in relation to the matters she raises and create an acutely false picture of both the reality and what MBL is proposing in its scoping report.

“We have consistently stated – and remain consistent – that our proposal is to harvest one specific type of brown kelp, in specific areas off the west coast of Scotland, in a sustainable and eco-supportive method.

“The 30,000 wet tonnes of Laminaria hyperborea that we are seeking to harvest each year, represents just 0.15 per cent of the overall stock – leaving 99.85 per cent untouched and not, as she states, ‘destroying a unique habitat’.”

Mackie added: “Her reference to there being no protection of Scotland’s coasts completely ignores our clear statement that there will be no harvesting near vulnerable coastlines.”

Last month, Attenborough became the most high profile conservationist to speak out against MBL’s wild seaweed harvesting initiative, insisting it was “absolutely imperative” kelp forests are safeguarded.

He said: “It is perfectly possible to harvest them sustainably by removing their fronds while leaving the rest of the plant intact.

“But dredging – or indeed any kind of harvesting that removes the whole plant – is a wholly shortsighted measure that risks the wholesale devastation of our kelp beds.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Martyn McLaughlin"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4824208.1541270588!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4824208.1541270588!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Laminaria hyperborea offers a haven to marine life. Picture: imageBROKER/Rex/Shutterstock","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Laminaria hyperborea offers a haven to marine life. Picture: imageBROKER/Rex/Shutterstock","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4824208.1541270588!/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/dani-garavelli-tolerance-leads-to-field-day-for-bigotry-1-4824175","id":"1.4824175","articleHeadline": "Dani Garavelli: Tolerance leads to field day for bigotry","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1541287621000 ,"articleLead": "

Dear Haters”, the banner at the top of the Scottish Government’s One Scotland web page reads, “you’re not going to like this, but we’ve had enough. Yours, Scotland.” The line, which promotes the country as a haven of tolerance, is a new refrain to an old song.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4824174.1541266389!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Hibs manager Neil Lennon lies on the ground after being struck by a coin at Tynecastle. Picture: Craig Williamson/SNS"} ,"articleBody": "

In Alba, we like to see ourselves as open and inclusive; an oasis of enlightenment. This conceit is not entirely without foundation; as the site suggests, the Scottish Government is strong on LGBT and gender equality issues, and many asylum seekers and refugees believe the welcome and support they receive here is superior to that on offer elsewhere in the UK.

We have a reputation, too, for tackling violence. So successful has the work of the Violence Reduction Unit been in reducing gang-related attacks, its approach is being emulated by the Metropolitan Police.

Yet, Scotland is far from perfect. On the Glasgow subway, passengers may be lectured on sexism, ablism, xenophobia, transphobia and religious bigotry, but in our football stadiums, sectarian and other abuse continues to be spewed out week after week; and politicians, the police, the individual clubs and the footballing authorities lack the will and/or the capacity to deal with it.

Last week, trouble erupted, as it is prone to do, at an Edinburgh derby. As tensions rose, the Hearts goalkeeper, Zdenek Zlamal, was punched by a Hibs fan and an assistant referee was assaulted. Most of the headlines, however, were dominated by the coin thrown at Neil Lennon.

This being an increasingly binary world, there have been two mutually exclusive takes on the incident. Either – as Lennon’s former team-mate and Partick Thistle manager Gary Caldwell would have it – the Hibs manager is an antagonistic figure who brings such attacks on himself; or he is the victim of a sustained hate campaign inspired by his Irish Catholic roots.

Outside social media, of course, more than one thing can be true at the same time. Anyone who has seen Lennon in action knows he can delight in taunting rival fans. At last week’s derby, he gestured for the Hearts fans to sit down after a goal was disallowed – an act the former Scottish Police Federation chair Les Gray suggested “could have caused a riot”; but no amount of crowd-baiting justifies the lobbing of a missile.

Proof that the hostility he encounters is at least intensified by his heritage is there in the “Hang Neil Lennon” graffiti daubed on the wall near Tynecastle before the game, and in the abuse he endured while playing for Celtic between 2000-2007.

In the wake of the coin-throwing, his agent, Martin Reilly, reeled off some of the worst incidents – the death threats, the physical assaults, the parcel bombs in the post – while Lennon pointed out that in all the time he played and managed in England he experienced no such harassment.

This latest football incident is reprehensible; but why it should have come as a shock in a country where sectarian singing and football thuggishness is still rife is a mystery.

Scotland’s Secret Shame was no secret even when the then first minister, Jack McConnell, came up with the phrase back in 2002. Now sectarianism is a taboo subject in the same way as immigration, which is to say it’s omnipresent. Nevertheless, it persists.

The same is true of more general anti-social behaviour. Every time I go to a match, I am struck by the aggression towards the ref and rival supporters. Hurling insults is not the same as hurling a coin; but violence is a continuum, and if you are willing to tolerate the first in the name of “atmosphere”, you should not be unduly surprised if it leads to the second. Last week, Police Scotland assistant chief constable Bernie Higgins said football was being blighted by a minority of trouble-makers and by a rise in the use of flares. Or “No pyro, no party”, as some ultras would have it.

Then again, officers were issuing warnings about football matches – and particularly big city derbies – before Police Scotland was formed. The last time the idea of matches played behind closed doors was mooted was in 2011 after the infamous Old Firm Scottish Cup tie dubbed “the shame game”. That match saw a head-to-head clash between Lennon and Rangers manager Ally McCoist.

Between then and now we have had the Offensive Behaviour at Football Act (OBFA), a piece of legislation cobbled together and derided from the moment it was introduced. Few mourned its repeal, but the absence of any alternative plan was a worry.

Then, earlier this month, it emerged the Scottish Government, Police Scotland and the Scottish Football Association were considering lifting the ban on alcohol at matches for a trial period during the Euro 2020 matches at Hampden. This makes sense in commercial terms; without a change of policy, Glasgow would be the only one of 12 Euro 2020 host cities where fans could not buy a drink in the stadium. But in terms of preventing disorder, it seems deranged.

With the SFA and SPFL apparently incapable of effectively policing football, a more promising approach is the one the anti-sectarian charity Nil by Mouth has been championing for years: strict liability. Under the present rules, neither Hearts nor Hibs will be punished by the SPFL if they can demonstrate they took adequate precautions to prevent trouble and have done their best to identify those involved. Strict liability rules, already implemented by UEFA and the English FA, would make clubs responsible regardless of any precautions.

SNP MSP James Dornan is currently working on a bill to introduce strict liability here. However, there appears to be little enthusiasm for the move amongst Scottish senior clubs. In 2013, they voted overwhelmingly against its introduction.

Strict liability wouldn’t solve the underlying problem of sectarianism, and particularly anti-Irish Catholic prejudice. Only education will do that. But making clubs financially accountable for the behaviour of their players and fans may be the only way to prevent the flagrant displays of bigotry and the violent incidents which tarnish Scotland’s reputation as an inclusive nation.

For decades, Scottish clubs have been given enormous licence, particularly in the central belt. Anyone who doubts the power they wield should try to make their way to work near Ibrox or Celtic Park when a match is on; everyone else’s needs are subservient to those of the scarf-wearing hoards.

If the Scottish Government wants its posters on tolerance to be taken seriously; if it wants its One Scotland image to reflect reality, then it needs to apply pressure on those clubs and the SFA and get a grip on football-related violence.

There is little point in patting ourselves on the back over our attitude towards refugees, if Catholic immigrants from Northern Ireland are still facing hostility. And there’s little justification for gloating that “love lives in this country, not hate,” if we continue to tolerate ugly confrontations in the name of the beautiful game.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Dani Garavelli"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4824174.1541266389!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4824174.1541266389!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Hibs manager Neil Lennon lies on the ground after being struck by a coin at Tynecastle. Picture: Craig Williamson/SNS","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Hibs manager Neil Lennon lies on the ground after being struck by a coin at Tynecastle. Picture: Craig Williamson/SNS","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4824174.1541266389!/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/scotland-s-own-amazon-blanket-bog-seeks-special-un-status-1-4820871","id":"1.4820871","articleHeadline": "Scotland’s own Amazon: Blanket bog seeks special UN status","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1540681040000 ,"articleLead": "

The rugged boggy landscape of Scotland’s Flow Country could soon join the Taj Mahal, the Grand Canyon and the Great Barrier Reef as an internationally recognised World Heritage Site.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4820870.1540668787!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "RSPB Forsinard Flows nature reserve, with snow-capped Ben Griam in the distance. Picture: Eleanor Bentall/RSPB"} ,"articleBody": "

The move depends on a successful bid to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation.

Scotland already has six recognised Unesco sites – the Heart of Neolithic Orkney, which includes ancient remains at Skara Brae and Maeshowe, the Antonine Wall, Edinburgh’s Old Town and New Town, St Kilda, New Lanark and the Forth Bridge.

Now a working group has been set up to push forward the plan to achieve official designation for the Flow Country of Caithness and Sutherland as a natural World Heritage Site. They believe the accolade would benefit local communities, the environment and the economy.

Project coordinator, Joe Perry, is in charge of putting together the proposal, which must demonstrate why the place is of “outstanding universal value”.

He said: “The north of Scotland is fast becoming a destination for photographers, eco-tourists and heritage enthusiasts. At first glance, it can seem to be a harsh and intimidating environment, but a closer look reveals beautiful plants and animals and a human history stretching back thousands of years.

“We’ve got to show this blanket bog is not just important for Caithness and Sutherland – it is the best of its kind globally and is universally important. It’s about the habitat itself, because of the sphagnum moss – nowhere else is it quite as deep, full and healthy.”

This corner of northern Scotland holds more than 400,000 hectares of blanket bog, making it the largest expanse of this wild habitat in Europe.

The bogs have been growing for more than 10,000 years, since the end of the last ice age, and the peat is now up to 10 metres deep.

Pristine peatlands store vast amounts of carbon and are globally important in the fight against climate change.

“This is the Amazon or Barrier Reef of peatlands,” said Perry. “It’s the outstanding example in the whole world, and that’s why Unesco would be impressed by it.”

The working group is a collaboration between national and local government, environmental groups, educational bodies and businesses with links to the area.

Caithness resident Frances Gunn, who supports the initiative, said: “We live in a wonderful part of the world and now the rest of the world is discovering just how special it is.

“We hope this accolade will attract visitors who appreciate the natural world, that they take time to stop, get off the beaten track and learn all about the area and its natural and cultural heritage, rather than rush through to the next stop.”

Malcolm Roughead, VisitScotland chief executive, said: “The Flow Country of Caithness and Sutherland is one of the last true wilderness areas of Europe, home to numerous rare plants, insects and birds.

“As far as potential visitors to Scotland are concerned, World Heritage Site status would not only protect this vitally significant habitat for future generations but lend even greater aura and appeal to one of the country’s most unique landscapes.”

Only one site in the UK can be put forward for consideration by Unesco each year. The 2018 nomination is a slate mine in Wales, which would get a landscape designation if successful.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Ilona Amos"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4820870.1540668787!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4820870.1540668787!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "RSPB Forsinard Flows nature reserve, with snow-capped Ben Griam in the distance. Picture: Eleanor Bentall/RSPB","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "RSPB Forsinard Flows nature reserve, with snow-capped Ben Griam in the distance. Picture: Eleanor Bentall/RSPB","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4820870.1540668787!/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-prison-didn-t-talk-to-me-before-katie-allan-s-death-1-4820863","id":"1.4820863","articleHeadline": "Dani Garavelli: Prison didn’t ‘Talk To Me’ before Katie Allan’s death","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1540680235000 ,"articleLead": "

Suicide of vulnerable student at Polmont suggests enlightened rehabilitation strategies are only for show, writes Dani Garavelli.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4820861.1540666741!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Stuart and Linda Allan hold a press conference at Glasgow University Chapel to speak about the death of their daughter. 'Picture: John Devlin"} ,"articleBody": "

In December 2016, I sat in the Scottish Prison Service College at Polmont as a series of experts launched the SPS’s new suicide prevention strategy, Talk To Me. Acknowledging past failings, chief executive Colin McConnell spoke of the complexities of caring for a population with disproportionate mental health problems and outlined the measures being put in place to reduce the number of deaths.

There was no doubting his sincerity; McConnell’s vision of prisons as a place for rehabilitation rather than punishment is well-established. With him at the helm, the SPS has introduced a range of bold initiatives designed to help prisoners maintain family ties and learn new skills to help them reintegrate into their communities on release.

At the launch, McConnell said the guiding principle of Talk To Me was that suicides could only be prevented when the whole prison community, including those in custody, worked together to identify those at risk and encourage them to accept help and support.

The policy would encourage a shift in emphasis from the use of safer cells, which do nothing to tackle underlying problems, to the use of therapeutic interventions and other out-of-cell activities. It also aimed to promote better family liaison, with relatives encouraged to raise concerns with prison staff, and more link-ups with charities such as Breathing Space and The Samaritans.

It all sounded very enlightened; a world away from the more rigid approach to incarceration taken by successive prison ministers south of the border. Surely the suicide rate in Scottish jails, which exceeded that in English and Welsh jails and had spiked the previous year, would start to go down.

It was doubly shocking then – 18 months later – to learn of the death of 21-year-old Katie Allan, a Glasgow University student who killed herself in Polmont Young Offenders’ Institution during a 16-month sentence for causing serious injury by dangerous driving while over the drink-drive limit.

READ MORE: Parents of tragic student launch campaign to reform ‘broken’ justice system

As details of her downward spiral emerged, it became clear her treatment while incarcerated was shoddy. Her declining mental health – obvious from her alopecia, which had been flagged up to the prison doctor – was apparently ignored, along with her self-harming and bullying by other inmates.

Last week, her parents, Linda and Stuart, called for a review of the way mental health is managed in the Scottish penal system. Listening to their account, it is clear their daughter was failed on every level.

Before we come to Katie’s experience in Polmont, there are questions to be asked about why she was put there in the first place. The policy is to reduce the prison population and to keep women out of the system wherever possible.

Katie was a young student who made a stupid mistake; she had a bright future ahead of her and was hugely remorseful for what she had done. She wrote several times to the parents of the 15-year-old she knocked down (who went on to make a full recovery). In an unusual gesture, they wrote to the Crown to ask that she should not be jailed, saying they did not want this one incident to define her life. A social work report also recommended community service.

Despite this, Sheriff David Pender said he could not justify a non-custodial sentence – a conclusion it’s difficult to understand. Katie had drunk four pints before she got into her car, so she deserved to be punished. But what benefit to her or society could have accrued from placing her alongside serial offenders?

This sentence combined with her treatment in jail meant her life wasn’t merely defined by one mistake, it was ended by it. In Polmont, her parents say frequent strip-searches, carried out because she was compliant, left her feeling violated and humiliated.

On the night before she died, when she was distressed, officers allegedly told her they would move her to the adult prison rather than deal with those who were bullying her. They then locked her in her cell and went home.

This ordeal is a million miles from the values enshrined in Talk To Me; but it does resonate with some of the things we have previously heard about the system. For example, in 2014, the Ferret news agency’s analysis of FAIs into 34 prison suicides since 2009 uncovered flaws in the implementation of the previous strategy, Act2Care. Those flaws included communication breakdowns between courts and prisons, inadequate staff training and a failure by prison staff to follow procedures. In 2014/15, four FAIs into deaths in custody also drew attention to a lack of information as to how families could raise their fears over a relative’s state of mind. Then, just weeks before the launch of the new strategy, the Royal College of Nursing published the first review of the service since the NHS took over responsibility for the provision of healthcare in jails in 2011. It revealed the transfer had not improved outcomes and said there were still “significant concerns” over the management of prisoners’ mental health.

A further concern is the time it takes to hold FAIs into deaths in custody. According to figures released by lawyer Aamer Anwar, FAIs are still outstanding on 76 prison deaths in the past four years. Six of them date back to 2014. Many of these deaths will not be suicides and some will be recent. Still, the average timescale for an FAI into a death in custody is said to be between two and four years. Such lengthy delays mean deficiencies in the system go undetected and lessons about how the care of vulnerable prisoners could be improved go unlearned.

Katie’s parents want a meeting with the Justice Secretary, Humza Yousaf, and a review of the prison service, of women in custody and the provision of mental health services. At last week’s press conference, Linda said: “Our decision to speak with the press and expose ourselves and our families to hurtful, cruel comments on social media isn’t because we are so-called middle-class nor because Katie was a woman.

“Our decision was made because Katie was not the first young person to die in custody in Scotland; indeed this could happen to anyone irrespective of class, race, gender, sexual orientation or ability.”

Scotland’s prisons are full of fragile people. Katie’s death is testament to the fact that enlightened strategies and right-on policy documents are not an end in themselves.

Unless the system is properly resourced and McConnell’s vision of rehabilitation is communicated to and shared by all officers, they are merely glossy showpieces to wave in front of the Scottish Government and the media. Only when every member of staff has the will and requisite training to build up positive, mutually respectful relationships with prisoners and their families can the goal of a prison service that empowers those in their care to “unlock their true potential and to transform their lives as fully enfranchised and contributing citizens” be fully realised.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Dani Garavelli"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4820861.1540666741!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4820861.1540666741!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Stuart and Linda Allan hold a press conference at Glasgow University Chapel to speak about the death of their daughter. 'Picture: John Devlin","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Stuart and Linda Allan hold a press conference at Glasgow University Chapel to speak about the death of their daughter. 'Picture: John Devlin","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4820861.1540666741!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4820862.1540666743!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4820862.1540666743!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Katie Allan, who was jailed for 16 months in March","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Katie Allan, who was jailed for 16 months in March","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4820862.1540666743!/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/opinion/leader-musical-of-edinburgh-seven-inspires-new-generation-1-4820896","id":"1.4820896","articleHeadline": "Leader: Musical of Edinburgh Seven inspires new generation","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1540678010000 ,"articleLead": "

As pioneers in the long struggle for equal rights for women, they were truly extraordinary.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4820875.1540669532!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Sophia Jex-Blake, one of the leading figures in the long and often bitter fight for the right of women to train as doctors. Photograph: Edinburgh University Library."} ,"articleBody": "

The Edinburgh Seven, who in the 1870s became the first women ever to matriculate at a British university, faced opposition from powerful male academics who believed women lacked the intellectual ability and stamina to study medicine. Several hundred male students went further, throwing mud and other objects at Sophia Jex-Blake and her six colleagues as they arrived for an exam.

But, in the face of such sexist attitudes and violence, they persevered. They were prevented from graduating, but still Jex-Blake went on to run the London School of Medicine for Women and later opened a similar school in Edinburgh and all the other six became MDs or were involved in medicine in some way.

Such indomitable spirit does not appear to have won over their male contemporaries at Edinburgh University, but it did triumph in the battle for the hearts and minds of the public and the number of applications by women to study at universities soared. Happily, Scotland on Sunday’s sister paper The Scotsman was an early supporter.

Nearly 150 years later, sexist attitudes are still a problem. But telling the story of the Edinburgh Seven – as Jordanna O’Neill and John Kielty plan to do in a new stage musical – will help remind us all that society can be transformed for the better if good people stand up to prejudice and intolerance.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4820875.1540669532!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4820875.1540669532!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Sophia Jex-Blake, one of the leading figures in the long and often bitter fight for the right of women to train as doctors. Photograph: Edinburgh University Library.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Sophia Jex-Blake, one of the leading figures in the long and often bitter fight for the right of women to train as doctors. Photograph: Edinburgh University Library.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4820875.1540669532!/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/transport/scotland-to-london-trains-could-terminate-at-peterborough-next-year-1-4820082","id":"1.4820082","articleHeadline": "Scotland to London trains could terminate at Peterborough next year","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1540571288000 ,"articleLead": "

LNER passengers between Scotland and London could face months of weekend disruption next year during major work at King’s Cross station.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4820080.1540549365!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The works at King's Cross next year are set to cause months of disruption. Picture: The Scotsman"} ,"articleBody": "

It could mean fewer direct trains from Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Inverness running there.

Some may be diverted to other London stations.

There is also speculation that some LNER services may not run further than Peterborough.

However, Network Rail told The Scotsman there would be no complete closures of King’s Cross and it was “very unlikely” that all its direct trains to and from Scotland would be halted.

• READ MORE: ScotRail driver failed drugs test following train derailment

The £250 million project is to upgrade track layouts.

However, the duration and timing of the work, and how trains will be affected, is still being discussed.

A Network Rail spokesman said: “We are not looking at shutting the station, only certain platforms, which would reduce the number of lines running in and out.

“Things are still at the early planning stage and there are no fixed dates.”

However, a LNER spokesman said: “There will be several weekends next year when King’s Cross will be closed. The options are still being developed at present and the access plan is still being agreed.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4820080.1540549365!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4820080.1540549365!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The works at King's Cross next year are set to cause months of disruption. Picture: The Scotsman","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The works at King's Cross next year are set to cause months of disruption. Picture: The Scotsman","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4820080.1540549365!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"5771265702001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/scottish-child-abuse-inquiry-i-was-raped-and-beaten-then-forced-to-apologise-to-abuser-1-4820102","id":"1.4820102","articleHeadline": "Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry: I was raped and beaten - then forced to apologise to abuser","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1540554610000 ,"articleLead": "

A man has told the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry how he was made to apologise to his attacker after being raped and beaten as an eight-year-old.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4820101.1540541380!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry heard a statement from a man raped at Quarrier's Village, Renfrewshire, in the 1950s. Picture: TSPL"} ,"articleBody": "

“Troy” broke down as he told the inquiry he was raped four times by his house father at the “cottage” he shared with other boys at Quarrier’s Village, Renfrewshire, in the late 1950s.

Now aged 67, he said: “I lost everything that night – my childhood, my faith, my dignity and my pride.”

The inquiry heard how Troy, whose identity is protected for legal reasons, stayed at Quarriers during the week before returning to his family at the weekend. He said the man charged with looking after him was “pure evil” and would regularly mete out beatings and force-feedings to him and the other boys.

READ MORE: Child died after violent beating at orphanage, says abuse victim

The inquiry was read a transcript in which Troy recounted being raped and then beaten with a leather belt by the man who held him down with a foot on his back. Troy said the abuse had remained with him all his life, playing like “a film” in his mind. “I’ve got some hate for that man – I live with it every day,” he said.

Troy said after the first rape he reported the abuse to staff only to be taken to his abuser and ordered to apologise.

He said: “They came up with me and he was in a rage. I was grabbed, I was shaken and called a liar. I was made to apologise, you apologise to that man right now, they said. I never made it up, my words are true and for years nobody believed it was true.

“I was taken back to the cottage and I was beaten with that leather belt again. I told you not to tell anyone, he said.”

Troy said he was raped a total of four times and had never told his parents, his ex-wife or son. He finally spoke of his experience to a doctor in 2012.

Asked about the impact the abuse had on his adult life, he said he had “lost count” of the number of times he had tried to kill himself. He said the opening day of the inquiry, led by Lady Smith, had been “one of the greatest days of my life”.

“If one child can be saved from walking the path that I have walked, then I will be a happy man,” he said.

The inquiry, which has cost £17.7 million to date, is currently hearing evidence relating to alleged historical abuse at institutions run by Quarriers, Aberlour and Barnardo’s.

Yesterday the inquiry was also read a transcript of evidence given by “Jenny”, a resident at Quarriers between 1955 and 1966. She said she was sexually abused by a female member of staff and a male teacher and said “complete strangers” were allowed to take individual children away for a day or a weekend.

Jenny also claimed that gravestones for those who died at Quarriers between the 1940s and 1960s had at one point gone “missing”.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4820101.1540541380!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4820101.1540541380!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry heard a statement from a man raped at Quarrier's Village, Renfrewshire, in the 1950s. Picture: TSPL","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry heard a statement from a man raped at Quarrier's Village, Renfrewshire, in the 1950s. Picture: TSPL","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4820101.1540541380!/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/transport/scotrail-driver-failed-drugs-test-following-train-derailment-1-4819586","id":"1.4819586","articleHeadline": "ScotRail driver failed drugs test following train derailment","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1540549932000 ,"articleLead": "

A ScotRail driver has failed a drugs test after his train was derailed by a suspected signalling fault, The Scotsman has learned.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4819753.1540549927!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The derailed train. Picture: Fubar news."} ,"articleBody": "

The driver was suspended after the routine drugs and alcohol test following the incident, which closed the Dundee-Aberdeen line for two days.

The train derailed as it passed a set of points which connect tracks at Stonehaven station in Aberdeenshire.

It had no passengers on board, but the incident on 10 October blocked the line for 48 hours, causing major disruption. Dozens of trains were cancelled, with passengers switched to coaches.

Cross-Border LNER, CrossCountry and Caledonian Sleeper services as well as ScotRail trains were affected.

The incident is thought to have been caused by a signalling error or a fault with the points. A team from the UK Department for Transport’s Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) is still examining the incident and has yet to release any information about its cause.

However, British Transport Police (BTP) said it was caused by a points failure and no “criminality” had been found.

ScotRail said the actions of the driver were not at fault.

It is believed the train was travelling at less than the speed limit and did not pass a red signal.

However, it is understood to be highly unusual for a driver to have tested positive for drugs.

Drivers are regularly subject to random checks, along with other ScotRail staff, in addition to tests in the wake of such incidents.

The drug traces identified in the test are still to be confirmed, it is understood.

This includes their origin, whether from recreational or prescription drugs.

Rail sources said staff who tested positive for drugs usually resigned immediately.

But the driver involved in this case is understood to have challenged the test result.

ScotRail declined to comment. A spokesperson said: “While investigations are still ongoing, there is nothing to suggest the derailment was caused by the actions of the driver or a fault with the train.”

A spokeswoman for BTP said: “We received a report of a train derailment near Stonehaven station at around 5:40pm on 10 October.

“Officers attended to understand the circumstances of the derailment and to assist passengers and railway staff.

“The cause of the derailment was found to be the result of a points failure.

“No evidence of criminality was identified and BTP are not investigating the matter any further.

“The Office or Rail and Road [which regulates track owner Network Rail] and RAIB were also notified.”

An RAIB spokesman said: “We’re still going through the evidence and are likely 
to make a decision on 
whether to investigate next week.”

Two years ago, The Scotsman revealed a ScotRail driver had been arrested for being drunk at Edinburgh Waverley station as he was about to drive a late-night train to Glasgow Queen Street.

Colin Chapman, 54, from Milngavie, was later given a 12-month supervision order and 200 hours of unpaid work after admitting being nearly nine times over the railway drink drive limit.

He was reported by staff for smelling of alcohol and found to have a blood alcohol reading of 174, compared to the legal limit of 20 for train drivers.

Sheriff Kenneth McGowan told Chapman at Edinburgh Sheriff Court his very serious offence “could have had devastating consequences for other people”.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4819753.1540549927!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4819753.1540549927!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The derailed train. Picture: Fubar news.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The derailed train. Picture: Fubar news.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4819753.1540549927!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"5771265702001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/transport/scotrail-punctuality-hits-8-year-low-following-storm-ali-damage-1-4820100","id":"1.4820100","articleHeadline": "ScotRail punctuality hits 8-year low following Storm Ali damage","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1540545074000 ,"articleLead": "

ScotRail’s train punctuality has hit an eight-year low after disruption from Storm Ali further battered already its poor figures.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4820098.1540502406!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Storm Ali damaged overhead power lines and trees fell on tracks. Picture: PA"} ,"articleBody": "

Just 81.8 per cent of services arrived within five minutes of time in the four weeks to 13 October.

That was significantly down on the 91.6 per cent in the previous period and 88.3 per cent seen a year ago.

The last time that punctuality figures were worse than this was in 2010, and the issue has not been as bad in September-October since 2004.

Scottish Labour described the figures as “shocking” and highlighted they were the worst since Dutch state railways offshoot Abellio took over ScotRail in 2015.

The latest figures also further dragged down ScotRail’s underlying performance, on which it is officially measured.

Timekeeping over the year to 13 October was down by 0.5 points to 87.5 per cent, which is nearly five points below the official target of 92.2 per cent.

However, because of an improvement plan in force (the Donovan Review), and a waiver due to the impact of Network Rail infrastructure faults, this has been lowered by five points to 87.2 per cent.

But there was better news for ScotRail when unions called off an overtime ban which had hit some Sunday trains. They agreed to extra pay for working on days off.

Scottish Labour transport spokesman Colin Smyth MSP said: “These are shocking figures, but it is little wonder performance is plummeting after the SNP gave ScotRail a licence to fail until June next year.

“Not only is performance still plummeting, but it is the worst it has been in the franchise.”

A Transport Scotland spokeswoman said: “The significant increase in infrastructure issues, many caused by severe weather, have clearly had an impact on performance. However, ministers expect the ScotRail Alliance to work closely together to build on lessons learned, including those in the Donovan Review.”

The alliance, which includes Network Rail, said Storm Ali had a “severe impact” and caused the six most disruptive incidents during the period. Damage included to overhead power lines and trees falling on tracks.

Managing director Alex Hynes said: “We faced significant challenges during Storm Ali which had an understandable impact on our performance. We know the disruption affected our customers, we understand their frustration and we are sorry their journeys were impacted upon so much during the storm.

“We are investing billions in improved infrastructure and hundreds of millions of pounds on new and upgraded trains as we continue to do everything we can to improve performance.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4820098.1540502406!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4820098.1540502406!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Storm Ali damaged overhead power lines and trees fell on tracks. Picture: PA","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Storm Ali damaged overhead power lines and trees fell on tracks. Picture: PA","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4820098.1540502406!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"5771265702001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/education/john-swinney-orders-review-of-p1-tests-amid-claims-he-defied-parliament-1-4819869","id":"1.4819869","articleHeadline": "John Swinney orders review of P1 tests amid claims he ‘defied Parliament’","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1540540144000 ,"articleLead": "

An independent review will be carried out into controversial Primary 1 tests in Scotland’s schools, education secretary John Swinney has announced.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4820151.1540540140!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Deputy First Minister John Swinney. Picture: Russell Cheyne/PA Wire"} ,"articleBody": "

But he came under fire from political opponents for “defying” the will of the Scottish Parliament, which recently voted for the assessments to be axed.

The review may find the tests should go, Mr Swinney insisted, after claims that some children have been left traumatised while teaching unions branded them a waste of time.

In a Holyrood statement he said he faced “competing considerations”, with most councils have previously carried out some form of assessments in Primary 1, before the national testing regime was introduced last year.

He told MSPs: “I have therefore decided to commission an independent review of the approach to P1 assessment within the context of the national improvement framework.

“The objective of the review will be to reconsider the evidence as the Parliamentary motion asked me to do.

Read more: John Swinney told to ‘listen’ and scrap P1 tests

“I’ve asked Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Education to provide me with advice on who should carry out this independent review.”

It means that the tests will continue during the 2018/19 school year.

The review will look at a number of issues surrounding the assessment, including the effect on children and how useful the findings of the tests have been. It will also look at whether the tests should continue or “whether they be substantially modified or whether they should be stopped”.

Mr Swinney added: “The outcome of the review could be a recommendation to stop the assessments. The review will be led by evidence and what is best for pupils.”

Ministers have defended the tests, insisting they provide an important gauge of children’s development in the crucial early years and identify particular areas where they may need help.

Ministers have also insisted there should not be “set specific windows” for schools to undertake assessments.

Some councils have already looked into the prospect of scrapping the tests, since the vote in parliament and amid concerns among parents.

Larry Flanagan of the EIS teaching union said the reservations of the profession over the value of the tests had been spelled out to Mr Swinney.

He said the union was disappointed the tests were not being scrapped immediately, but added: “We accept, however, that in establishing an independent review, the Deputy First Minister is open to evidence about the efficacy of the SNSAs [Scottish National Standardised Assessments], although we would make the point that perhaps a review of the evidence before the introduction of the tests would have been more appropriate.”

The move prompted an angry reaction from opposition parties after they united to out-vote the minority SNP government at Holyrood last month and backed a motion calling for the tests to be axed.

Read more: Quiz: Could you pass Scotland’s P1 test?

Labour education spokesman Iain Gray said: “This whole statement was a justification for refusing to respect the motion and defying this Parliament. The cabinet secretary demands that we focus on education needs – that’s exactly what we did in reaching the conclusion that we did a month ago. Parliament listened to teachers, parents and the education arguments and voted accordingly.”

Conservative MSP Liz Smith hit back at Mr Swinney’s claims that opposition parties were guilty of political opportunism in their opposition to the testing regime. She questioned whether “Primary 1 teachers and those members of the public and parents opposing these tests are also a disgrace and guilty of political opportunism”.

The review was branded a “missed opportunity” by Greens education spokesman Ross Greer. He said: “They could have proven that they’re listening to teachers, parents, experts and parliament. They could have called a halt to these tests of four- and five-year-olds, but instead, the tests will continue.”

Liberal Democrat education spokesman Tavish Scott said: “58 days ago John Swinney published what he said was an evidence-based review and it was a whitewash. Now he wants another review.

“Teachers say national testing of five-year-old boys and girls add nothing to their knowledge of the child’s progress. So why are primary school teachers, parents and even the government’s educational advisers wrong and John Swinney is right?”

Mr Swinney has already shelved his Education Bill, which had at its heart his flagship plans to hand control over schools to headteachers.

" ,"byline": {"email": "scott.macnab@scotsman.com" ,"author": "Scott Macnab"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4820151.1540540140!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4820151.1540540140!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Deputy First Minister John Swinney. Picture: Russell Cheyne/PA Wire","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Deputy First Minister John Swinney. Picture: Russell Cheyne/PA Wire","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4820151.1540540140!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"5681801427001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/tagging-for-violent-and-knife-crime-convicts-curbed-following-murder-1-4820114","id":"1.4820114","articleHeadline": "Tagging for violent and knife crime convicts curbed following murder","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1540538117000 ,"articleLead": "

Violent offenders and those with a history of knife crime will no longer be able to serve part of their sentence at home on an electronic tag after a catalogue of failures led to the murder of a man in an unprovoked street attack.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4820112.1540538113!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Humza Yousaf says home detention rules will be tightened. Picture: Getty Images"} ,"articleBody": "

Craig McClelland, 31, pictured, was stabbed to death in Paisley last year by James Wright, who had been “unlawfully at large” for five months.

Wright– who had 16 previous convictions, including two for knife crimes – had breached the terms of a home detention curfew (HDC) in February 2017 just days after being released from ­prison.

Yesterday, Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said the rules surrounding HDCs would be tightened after a damning report from HM Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland (HMICS) said 24 offenders had been unlawfully at large for more than four years.

HM Inspector of Constabulary Gill Imery said the processes around HDCs needed to be “significantly improved”. Mr Yousaf told the Scottish Parliament he would accept all of the report’s recommendations, including a presumption against allowing anyone convicted of violence, possession of an offensive weapon or with links to organised crime to leave prison on an HDC.

He told MSPs he would also consider making it a criminal offence for anyone to remain unlawfully at large.

Wright breached his HDC and was deemed to be unlawfully at large by the Scottish Prison Service ten days after his release from HMP Low Moss where he had been serving a 21-month prison sentence for a knife-related crime.

On 23 February last year, he removed his electronic tag and left his curfew address. Police Scotland were alerted the following day by the Scottish Prison Service (SPS) that Wright was now unlawfully at large.

However, he was still free on 23 July when he approached Mr McClelland, a father of three, in the street and asked him for a light before stabbing him twice.

Mr Yousaf paid tribute to Mr McClelland’s family, saying: “It is through their tenacity and tireless campaigning of behalf of Craig that we have got to this point.

“I want to thank them sincerely for their efforts as their campaigning means we will have a stronger, more robust home detention curfew regime.”

Mr Yousaf said it is “nonsense” to say Mr McClelland was at the wrong place at the wrong time.

He said: “James Wright was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Craig had every right to go from his house to his mother’s house and expect to get there safely.”

He said the Scottish Government, SPS and Police Scotland all accept all 37 recommendations made by HM Inspectorate of Prisons in Scotland (HMIPS) and HMICS in their separate reviews.

The HMICS report said that following Wright’s breach of licence, there was little documented evidence detailing the actions taken by police officers tasked with arresting him and returning him to prison.

While attempts were made by police officers to locate and arrest Wright after he removed his tag, HMICS said the local police division was unable to demonstrate that a “professional level of inquiry” was carried out. And it said there was “inadequate evidence” to demonstrate effective management oversight and supervision of the inquiry.

At present, police do not have the power of forced entry or search when someone is unlawfully at large, meaning an offender can evade arrest simply by refusing to answer their front door.

HMICS found that as of 29 June this year, 44 offenders released from Scottish prisons on the curfews were recorded by the service as “unlawfully at large”, and more than half (24) had been so for more than four years. The vast majority (38) were not recorded as unlawfully at large on police systems.

Scottish Labour’s justice spokesman, Daniel Johnson, said: “The murder of Craig McClelland was an untold and utterly unnecessary tragedy and our thoughts remain with his family and friends.

“But the reality is, it should not have taken a horrifying murder to bring these issues to light. This report lays bare multiple failings, not least the issue of police officers having appropriate powers to enforce community sentences – something Labour has repeatedly called for.

“While we welcome the report and its recommendations, it is absolutely shocking that Mr McClelland’s ­killer was allowed to stay at large for so long and that will rightly outrage the public.”

He added: “This murder not only shouldn’t have happened – it shouldn’t have been possible.”

Conservative justice spokesman Liam Kerr said Mr McClelland’s murder had been the result of a “catastrophic failure” of the justice system.

He said: “Can I too praise the family of Craig McClelland for their bravery and leadership in pursuing this matter.

“But ultimately this has been a catastrophic failure of the justice system to protect the public – and on the SNP’s watch.

“The McClelland family and the public will be rightly asking why on earth tragedy had to strike in order for the SNP government to make these changes.”

Chief Superintendent Garry McEwan, of Police Scotland, said: “The decision as to whether an offender is approved for home detention curfew is not reached by Police Scotland, however, we are committed to working closely with the Scottish Prison Service to ensure enhanced collaboration moving forward.

“We have procedures in place to assess each case where a home detention curfew has been breached and offender is unlawfully at large and all recalls as a result of HDC breaches are treated as a high priority for local policing.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4820112.1540538113!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4820112.1540538113!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Humza Yousaf says home detention rules will be tightened. Picture: Getty Images","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Humza Yousaf says home detention rules will be tightened. Picture: Getty Images","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4820112.1540538113!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"5802065688001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/education/plans-for-school-to-help-traumatised-children-with-animal-therapy-1-4820106","id":"1.4820106","articleHeadline": "Plans for school to help traumatised children with animal therapy","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1540530000000 ,"articleLead": "

A Scottish charity has applied or permission to set up a pioneering education centre which will include animal therapy with horses, “risky play” and outdoor activities for young children who have experienced major trauma in their early years.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4820105.1540501822!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Outdoor play and aminal therapy, including caring for horses, will be central to the new school's support for traumatised children. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto"} ,"articleBody": "

Kibble Group, which extensively researched ground-breaking methods of care worldwide over the past three years, has submitted planning permission for the establishment in Lochwinnoch, Renfrewshire.

The charity’s director, Audrey Baird, said the ­therapeutic approach to ­education will allow up to 30 primary children aged between five and 12 to enjoy of outdoor learning alongside National Curriculum-based classroom teaching, before going on to long-term foster care.

She said: “For a lot of the kids we work with, the traditional educational environment has been unsuccessful. Instead we are using the trauma-informed therapeutic model.

“This includes ‘risky play’ which allows children to do things like build their own outdoor shelters using outdoor resources and climb trees, while at the same time teaching them risk assessment. This means they are learning skills to take into adolescence.

“Our studies show this type of activity better prepares the brain for learning.

“We will also have horses and other animals such as goats and chickens on campus.

“The children will be caring for the horses and getting an understanding that while they themselves are working to overcome challenges, the horses might well have had difficult times too.”

Jim Gillespie, chief executive of Kibble Group, said the new approach could improve children’s life chances.

He said: “Kibble believes the right care and education has the potential to transform the lives of young people, no ­matter their background or circumstances.

“The site of this former care home is the ideal, idyllic setting for this type of campus and we’re due to begin speaking with local community organisations about how we can work collaboratively.”

Mr Gillespie added: “We have begun the process of applying for planning permission to renovate the two buildings, converting them into modern classrooms and residential accommodation.

“This will allow us to change the use from a retirement home to a state-of-the-art educational facility delivering tailored support for children.”

Based in Paisley and founded in 1859, Kibble Group bought the former residential care homes Parkhill House and Garpel House are submitting change of use plans to Renfrewshire Council. The new centre is due to open next year.

It also provides education and care from centres in Largs, Paisley and Garnock Valley.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4820105.1540501822!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4820105.1540501822!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Outdoor play and aminal therapy, including caring for horses, will be central to the new school's support for traumatised children. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Outdoor play and aminal therapy, including caring for horses, will be central to the new school's support for traumatised children. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4820105.1540501822!/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/environment/scotland-s-weather-snow-sleet-and-hail-to-blow-in-from-arctic-1-4819860","id":"1.4819860","articleHeadline": "Scotland’s weather: Snow, sleet and hail to blow in from Arctic","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1540489475000 ,"articleLead": "

Temperatures are set to plummet with snow, sleet and hail forecast in parts of Scotland.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4819859.1540489470!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Parts of Scotland are expected to be hit by snow, sleet and hail. Picture: John Devlin"} ,"articleBody": "

A cold weather front will move south across the UK on Friday and over the weekend, bringing cooler air from the Arctic.

Strong winds and gales are predicted in Scotland and forecasters have warned there could also be snow, hail and sleet on high ground.

Motorists have been warned to take extra care on the roads.

Met Office forecaster Bonnie Diamond said: “Especially overnight on Friday and Saturday there is a risk of ice and frost as temperatures fall close to or below freezing.

“Across the north half of the country there is a chance of showers falling as snow on high ground and a mix of sleet and hail, mainly in Scotland.”

• READ MORE: Could it snow in Scotland this weekend? Here’s the latest weather forecast

She added: “We have had a pretty mild October so far and a warm start to autumn in places so it will be a big change for everybody as we go through the weekend.

“Certainly it’s time to get the warm winter clothes out.”

Gritters are on standby across the country, with a number of councils posting pictures of their fleets online.

Temperatures are predicted to be 7C (45F) in northern England and 10C (50F) in the south during the daytime on Friday.

The last time it snowed in the UK in October was in 2012 when around an inch (2.5cm) fell in some areas of north-east England.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4819859.1540489470!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4819859.1540489470!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Parts of Scotland are expected to be hit by snow, sleet and hail. Picture: John Devlin","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Parts of Scotland are expected to be hit by snow, sleet and hail. Picture: John Devlin","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4819859.1540489470!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"5743868544001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/regions/dumfries-borders/scots-to-attend-us-memorial-for-30th-lockerbie-bombing-anniversary-1-4820047","id":"1.4820047","articleHeadline": "Scots to attend US memorial for 30th Lockerbie bombing anniversary","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1540487406000 ,"articleLead": "

The Scottish Secretary and a group of charity cyclists are to attend US events marking the 30th anniversary of the Lockerbie bombing.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4820046.1540487665!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The remains of the flight deck of Pan Am 103 on a field in Lockerbie in 1988. Picture: AP"} ,"articleBody": "

Pan Am flight 103 was on its way from London to New York when it exploded above Lockerbie on the evening of December 21 1988, killing 259 people on board and 11 people on the ground.

Thirty-five of them were students at Syracuse University in the US, who were travelling home for the Christmas holidays.

David Mundell will be in New York on October 30 and 31 for Syracuse University’s annual remembrance week and will also meet a group of Scottish cyclists covering the final leg of their 3,238-mile journey from Lockerbie to Syracuse to remember those who died.

• READ MORE: Kenny MacAskill: Lockerbie bomber’s conviction may well collapse

Colin Dorrance, who was an 18-year-old off-duty police officer on the night of the bombing, is leading the group which includes David Whalley, leader of the RAF search and rescue team on the night and Brian Asher, the head teacher at Lockerbie Academy.

In the US they will set off on Friday from the Lockerbie memorial cairn in Arlington National Cemetery and ride through Maryland, Philadelphia and New York City, ending at Syracuse University.

Mr Mundell will see the group off from New York City’s Central Park on Tuesday morning before meeting staff and students at Syracuse.

He said: “I was brought up in Lockerbie, and know how deeply the air disaster has impacted on the town. But I have also seen the very positive links which have grown between Lockerbie and Syracuse University over the years since.

“As we approach the 30th anniversary of the bombing, it is fitting that five local men are making the journey to Syracuse to remember those lost, and to raise money for a local youth mental health charity. I look forward to seeing them off on the final leg of their journey, and to seeing our friends again in Syracuse for the University’s 30th remembrance week.”

• READ MORE: Lockerbie bomb evidence is found 20 years later in tree

As well as remembering the 270 people who died the event is also raising money for Soul Soup, a local youth mental health charity.

Cycle team leader Mr Dorrance said: “Our journey to Syracuse started in the primary schools around Lockerbie. We have had the opportunity to tell the children about the bombing, but also about the wonderful opportunity that they may have to study at Syracuse in the future.

“It has encouraged them to speak to their parents about the bombing, learning something of how it affected the older generation in 1988. We are all reminded of just how selfless and heroic so many people were, and how widely it is still talked about today. Of course, for some, the journey will never end.

“My teammates and I are focused on the 600 miles we will cycle in the USA over the next week, ending at Syracuse University. The prospect is exciting, humbling and moving all in one.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4820046.1540487665!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4820046.1540487665!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The remains of the flight deck of Pan Am 103 on a field in Lockerbie in 1988. Picture: AP","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The remains of the flight deck of Pan Am 103 on a field in Lockerbie in 1988. Picture: AP","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4820046.1540487665!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} ]}}} ]}