Long Covid: The illness wreaking havoc behind the pandemic

There is no clear treatment or cure for those who haven't fully recovered from coronavirus.

STV News

Coronavirus has been dominating the headlines for a year – but behind the grim death statistics and hospital admissions, a related illness has been quietly wreaking havoc on the lives of thousands of Scots.

Long Covid, or post-covid syndrome, has been described by some as the “pandemic behind the pandemic”.

Research is in its infancy and there is no clear treatment or cure.

The post-viral condition affects people who fell ill with coronavirus, but did not make a full recovery within three months.


Symptoms vary, but some of the most common complaints are extreme fatigue, breathlessness and “brain fog”, such as an inability to focus or remember certain things.

Research is being commissioned and new guidelines have been issued to help GPs support patients, but campaigners are keen to see more holistic support put in place.

For a special report on Scotland Tonight at 7.30pm on Thursday, STV News has been hearing from patients suffering from this insidious and life-changing illness.

Maria: ‘I couldn’t get out of bed’

Maria Timoney, a mum-of-four from Airdrie, is a palliative care nurse.


Her life took a drastic turn when she fell ill with coronavirus in June last year – her chest pains were so extreme that she was admitted to hospital for a few days.

After she was discharged, her symptoms didn’t shift. Eight months later, she’s still struggling with the after-effects of the virus – which sometimes present themselves in unusual and unpredictable ways.

She said: “I thought I was coming home for a few days of rest and then probably going back to work, but after about a week or so I actually felt as if I was worse, the fatigue was overwhelming, I couldn’t get out of bed some days, and if I did get up my legs were shaky, they were really jelly-like.

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Maria Timoney now struggles to cope with everyday tasks.

“The chest pain was still there and that was really concerning me, and I was quite a bit breathless, just on minimal exertion.

“I got referred to respiratory, I got referred to cardiology, and everything came back okay – the GP said ‘you’ve just got to ride this out and see how long it takes’.”

Household tasks such as cooking and cleaning now need to be shared out among the family, and Maria’s symptoms vary from day to day.

“Running up and down the stairs, I used to do that loads every day, now I’m really aware that if I go up the stairs I’m going to be breathless by the time I get to the top of them,” she said.


“I really am desperate to get back to work, I know the district nursing team that I worked with is really busy, I wish I was there, I do feel really guilty.

“For my own mental health I think it would be great but I need to be ready to be able to cope with it as well.”

Wendy: ‘My daughter wants fun mummy back’

Wendy Macdonald, 42, fell ill just before the first national lockdown was imposed last March.

The mum-of-two ran children’s musical workshops and classes but the lasting effects of the virus have forced her to pause the business for now.

Long Covid has had a major physical and emotional impact on her.

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Wendy Macdonald says she can no longer live a normal life.

Wendy, from Bishopton in Renfrewshire, said: “My daughter was in tears the other day, saying ‘I miss my real mum, I want fun mummy back, that could take us places and do stuff’.

“That was really hard, because I know they just want me to be back to normal… and I can’t magic myself back.

“Before I was pretty active and busy, and now I have to pace myself to do everything – anything I do I have to plan out, when am I going to do it, and then when am I going to be able to rest afterwards.

“It’s a hard thing to explain, the exhaustion – it’s not like a ‘oh I didn’t get enough sleep last night, I’m a bit tired’, it’s more like you’ve gone out and done something really physical and your whole body is just exhausted.

“It’s stopping me from being able to live a normal life.”

Ruth: ‘It takes hours to get going’

Ruth Moore from East Kilbride is a part-time carer, used to having a busy family and social life.

Before Covid-19 restrictions came in, the 49-year-old was a regular at karate classes, and recently earned her black belt.

In October, her whole family, including her husband, daughters and elderly mum, was struck down by coronavirus in what she describes as a “domino effect”.

Ruth spent five nights in hospital but unlike the rest of her family, she didn’t feel like she was recovering once she was discharged.

STV News
Ruth Moore was used to having a busy family life.

She told STV News: “I was a normal, healthy person – not on any medication, and now I’m on steroids, inhalers, and I just feel, ‘am I ever going to get back to the way I was?’. I don’t know the answer to that – nobody knows the answer to that.

“I’m lucky if I can get up before lunchtime, and it takes me a few hours to actually get going – and by getting going I mean getting dressed, maybe brushing my hair and brushing my teeth.

“There are days that I’ve had that I feel a bit down and a wee bit dark but then, I’m alive.”

Ruth is keen to return to work but she is waiting until she can build up her strength.

Callum: ‘Half the man I used to be’

Callum O’Dwyer, 29, from Aberdeen, fell ill on March 23 last year – the same day as lockdown was announced.

He had hoped he would recover after resting up over a few days, but ten months on, he’s still living with Long Covid.

He has had to move back in with his parents so they can help look after him, and has to choose between household tasks like loading the dishwasher or walking the dog so he doesn’t exhaust himself for the rest of the day.

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Callum, pictured with his girlfriend, fell ill on the day lockdown began.

“I’m half the man I used to be,” he says. “There hasn’t been a day when I haven’t spent more than at least two – sometimes up to six – hours resting in bed.

“Not long ago, I would have been running 10ks, going to the gym, leading an active, busy lifestyle – but at one point, I had a shower and had to lie down for four hours. It feels like I’m three, four times my actual age.”

Callum says that a more holistic approach is needed to tackle Long Covid care. He wants to see specialist clinics set up to support those living with the illness.

So what is being done?

Glasgow-based GP Dr Sandesh Gulhane admits that there is not a great deal doctors can do to treat Long Covid at this stage.

He describes offering empathy to patients as the “best thing I’ve got in my armoury”.

Dr Gulhane said: “There is no test, and there is no cure – that’s not really doing enough, I wish I could do something more.

“This is all a brand new thing that’s evolving. Long Covid is a real condition, it affects people, it destroys lives and we need to think more about it and try to reach out to get patients the help they need.”

Professor Tom Evans of the University of Glasgow sits on the Scottish Government’s Covid-19 advisory group.

He was involved in drafting guidelines for diagnosing and supporting patients with Long Covid – but he admits that research is still in its early stage.

Prof Evans said: “In Scotland, the Chief Science Officer has sponsored some excellent research projects which will take place in the next year or so, and these will begin to give us some answers – but it will take time, and that’s a difficult one for patients who are waiting for something that’s going to give them real benefit.”

He says that all the research will help inform the best way to treat the condition.

He added: “Time will tell how we can best manage this and whether or not a dedicated service is needed, and the sort of services you might want to access in remote and rural parts of Scotland may be quite different to those in the more urban and central belt areas.”

Lesley MacNiven is part of campaign group Long Covid Scotland and wants people with the condition to contact them via their Facebook page for support

She told STV News: “We’ve still got this binary where people thought at ten days, you either ended up in hospital or got better – but there’s this invisible group of people who didn’t recover; they survived, but they didn’t recover.

“We also know that we need to do something quickly – so we’re not looking for perfection, we are keen to be guinea pigs, we’re happy to be involved in any kind of studies.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We take this issue very seriously, and recognise the impact Long Covid is having on the physical and mental wellbeing of people in Scotland.

“NHS Scotland is delivering care tailored to the individual needs of people experiencing the long-term effects of Covid-19.

“Our ambition is for people to have access to the support they need for assessment, diagnosis, care and rehabilitation in a setting that is as close to their home as possible.

“We are working to enhance and better co-ordinate existing pathways from primary, community care and third sector services, to provide the multidisciplinary and person-centred support that people will require.

“We are also working closely with Chest, Heart and Stroke Scotland to explore how partnership working between third-sector services and our NHS can deliver person centred care for people experiencing Long Covid.

“The Chief Scientist Office has funded nine extensive research projects on Long Covid through £2.5m of funding, and this will increase clinical knowledge on the long-term effects of Covid-19.

“This is in addition to the £5m we recently awarded to 15 Scottish research institutions to better understand the effects of infection and inform treatment and management of the virus.

“We will continue to engage with people who have Long Covid, NHS boards and the wider clinical community to deepen our understanding of the symptoms and impact of Long Covid to help us continue to deliver the support people need.”

In the meantime, the charity Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland has set up a helpline for people dealing with Long Covid.

Chief executive Jane-Claire Judson said: “People living with long covid in Scotland need as much support as possible right now. Support is available now through our Long Covid Advice Line and we are encouraging people to call 0808 801 0899 – please don’t suffer alone.

“There needs to be better coordination of services to help people with Long Covid get the wraparound care they need. Everyone, including people affected by Long Covid, are working with the Scottish Government to make sure that support services are available as soon as possible.”

Coronavirus: Two deaths and 1030 cases reported overnight

It was also confirmed that 3,477,378 Scots have received their first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.

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Covid-19: The fight to stem the spread of the deadly virus goes on.

Two further deaths and 1030 new cases of coronavirus have been recorded in Scotland overnight, according to official figures.

The daily test positivity rate is 4.1%, the same as reported on Friday.

In a note on the data, Public Health Scotland said an ongoing delay in the laboratory processing of specimens at the Glasgow Lighthouse Lab has meant Thursday and Friday’s figures have been lower than expected compared to those reported prior to that period.

Of the new cases reported on Saturday, 297 are in Lothian, 233 are in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde region, 145 are in Tayside and 126 are in Ayrshire and Arran.


The rest of the cases are spread out across eight other health board areas.

The lab-confirmed death toll of those who tested positive currently stands at 7681, however figures including suspected Covid-19 deaths recorded by National Records of Scotland suggest the most up-to-date total is now at least 10,130.

It was also confirmed that 3,477,378 Scots have received their first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, an increase of 18,315 from the day before.

A total of 2,402,700 people have received their second dose, a rise of 27,454.


Saturday’s figures come amid discussions between governments around the UK about the “constrained” supply of the Pfizer vaccine which is expected in the coming weeks.

Following a meeting of the British-Irish Council on Friday, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “We are cooperating across the four nations in terms of vaccine supply.

“We know the Delta (Indian) variant is allowing this virus to transmit more quickly and therefore we have to do everything possible to make sure that vaccination happens at a pace that can keep it under control.

“Across all four of the nations, vaccination is going extremely well, but we do know that we have, as we have at points in the past, periods coming up where some vaccine supply will be more constrained, and over the next few weeks that looks as if it will be Pfizer.”

Euro 2020 game restarts after Christian Eriksen collapses

Inter Milan player Eriksen dropped to the ground at the Parken Stadium shortly before half-time.

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Football: Inter Milan player Eriksen dropped to the ground at the Parken Stadium shortly before half-time.

Denmark midfielder Christian Eriksen received CPR on the pitch after collapsing during his country’s Euro 2020 game against Finland in Copenhagen.

Inter Milan player Eriksen dropped to the ground at the Parken Stadium shortly before half-time on Saturday, leaving players from both teams in clear distress.

English referee Anthony Taylor called medics on to the pitch and Eriksen underwent prolonged treatment.

A tweet from UEFA confirmed the Group B match had been suspended due to a medical emergency. UEFA later stated that the match would restart at 7.30pm “following the request made by players of both teams” after it was reported that Eriksen had “stabilised” in hospital.


Teammates formed a shield around the former Tottenham man after his collapse, while fans inside the stadium were clearly stunned by the incident.

Eriksen fell to the floor after rushing to receive a throw-in close to the corner flag deep in Finland’s half of the field.

The 29-year-old collapsed face first as the ball hit his knee, with nearby players immediately signalling for urgent medical assistance.

A medic was seen performing compressions on Eriksen’s chest.


The BBC, who were showing the game live, cut back to the studio where presenter Gary Lineker and pundits Cesc Fabregas, Alex Scott and Micah Richards all appeared in total shock.

Coverage of the match then ended as the decision to halt play was made.

UEFA later confirmed Eriksen had been transferred to hospital and stabilised, while the Danish football association said the player was awake.

The governing body said further information on the situation would be communicated at 6.45pm UK time.

“Following the medical emergency involving Denmark’s player Christian Eriksen, a crisis meeting has taken place with both teams and match officials and further information will be communicated at 19:45 CET,” read the UEFA tweet.

“The player has been transferred to the hospital and has been stabilised.”

Tottenham, who Eriksen played for between 2013 and 2020 before moving to Italy, were among those to show support for the player on social media.


“All of our thoughts are with Christian Eriksen and his family,” read a tweet from the London club.

After announcing the game would restart, UEFA president Aleksander Čeferin said: “Moments like this put everything in life into perspective.

“I wish Christian a full and speedy recovery and pray his family has strength and faith.

“At these times, the unity of the football family is so strong and he and his family carry with them the good wishes and prayers of everyone.

“I heard of fans of both teams chanting his name. Football is beautiful and Christian plays it beautifully.”

A spokesperson for the BBC issued an apology after pictures of Eriksen were broadcast while he received treatment.

In a statement, the spokesperson said: “Everyone at the BBC is hoping Christian Eriksen makes a full recovery.

“We apologise to anyone who was upset by the images broadcast.

“In-stadium coverage is controlled by UEFA as the host broadcaster, and as soon as the match was suspended, we took our coverage off air as quickly as possible.”

Sadness after fire tears through recreated Iron Age roundhouse

The Scottish Crannog Centre, which is also a museum of life in ancient Scotland, burned down on Friday night.

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Blaze: The Scottish Crannog Centre went up in flames on Friday night.

A large fire which destroyed a recreated Iron Age roundhouse on the shore of Loch Tay has been described as “devastating” by the trust which runs the site.

The Scottish Crannog Centre, which is also a museum of life in ancient Scotland, burned down on Friday night.

It was engulfed in flames shortly before midnight, with firefighters called out to extinguish the blaze. There were no reports of any injuries.

The tourist attraction stood on stilts on the loch shore in Perthshire.


The Crannog Centre’s trust said it would shortly be launching an appeal for donations and continuing its efforts to develop a new site on the north shore of the loch.

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Before: What the roundhouse looked like prior to the blaze.

Mike Benson, director of the Crannog Centre, said: “The outpouring of support from the local community and friends from further afield has been tremendous at this difficult time and the Crannog community would like to thank everyone for their heartfelt messages.

“The loss of the Crannog is devastating but, importantly, the museum collection is intact and no one has been hurt.

“We would also like thank the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and Police Scotland for their instant response to the emergency and their faultless efforts in tackling the blaze and keeping everyone safe in the local vicinity.”

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After: The roundhouse has been completely destroyed.

Deputy first minister John Swinney said the fire was “absolutely devastating”.

He tweeted: “This is absolutely devastating news. Scottish Crannog is a centre of such archaeological and historical significance and has such an impact on the Breadbane area.

“I was due to meet the team on Monday and will offer all my support to recover.”

Historic Environment Scotland tweeted: “Absolutely heartbreaking news this morning. Our thoughts are with our friends at Scottish Crannog.”

As well as the recreated loch dwelling, the centre offered visitors the chance to immerse themselves in the life of Iron Age Scotland, with demonstrations of crafts and ancient cooking.

Last year the Scottish Crannog Centre was one of a number of community projects which shared almost £200,000 in funding as part of Scotland’s Year of Coast and Waters.

The centre was given £18,723 by Historic Environment Scotland to help repair the walkway and decking surrounding the loch dwelling, as well as creating an outreach project for local schools.


Pete Wishart, MP for Perth and North Perthshire, called for the centre to be rebuilt.

He tweeted: “Simply awful. The internationally renowned Crannog Centre is a huge part of the whole community of Kenmore/Loch Tay.

“So sorry for all involved with the centre who will be really upset this morning. We must rebuild it.”

A spokesman for the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service said it was called to the scene at 11.12pm on Friday, where there was a “well-developed” fire, which was extinguished just after midnight.

John Ward, who witnessed the blaze, said it was “devastating to watch it burn”.

He said: “I saw it from the road end and my boat is at the marina.

“So lucky the wind was a westerly or it would have done a lot more damage.”

‘Without young people, there is no future here’

Calls for action to reverse depopulation in the Outer Hebrides.

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The population of the Outer Hebrides is expected to plummet over the next 20 years, prompting calls for action to keep young people on the islands.

A recent report by National Records of Scotland projected that the number of households will have fallen by 11% by 2043.

Those who live there are growing increasingly concerned by depopulation and fear the pandemic may have accelerated the problem.

They want to see a more targeted and intensive campaign to tackle the issue.

‘No future without youngsters’


Kenny Macleod, who runs a community shop on the Isle of Harris, said his daughter’s nursery has just three pupils.

“It’s a big concern for an area like this,” he told STV News. “A village is nothing without its youngsters. There’s no future for it.

“Currently the school roll is falling and it’s falling all the time. Looking into the future it’s pretty bleak at the moment for youngsters and for the school.”

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Shop owner Kenny Macleod.

Leverburgh Care Home on Harris is also facing difficulties – managers have been forced to recruit agency staff from the mainland and rent a home for them.


Deputy manager Joanetta Grantley said: “Years ago there was always lots of people around, a lot of young people around and they’d be staying here, but they’re all moving away now because there’s nothing for them here.

“Restaurants, hotels, bed and breakfasts, all these places are looking for staff at the moment, but there just aren’t enough people.”

‘We need opportunities’

Christina Macleod, a student in Dundee, recently returned to her childhood home in Harris for a summer job, but doesn’t know if she’ll be back after she graduates.

“I would like to live away,” she said. “I much prefer the city, but I do like coming home.

“If there were more opportunities for jobs I would definitely come home.”

Teaching in America from Lewis

At the other end of Lewis, Ariana Ayu, David Robb and their five-year-old son, David, have been bucking the trend.

After living in America for ten years, they decided to settle in Ness, where they run a bed and breakfast.

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Ariana Ayu, David Robb and their five-year-old son David.

Ariana said: “We wanted to find a place to raise our son that had a feeling of community… somewhere we could get to know our neighbours in ways we don’t in a lot of big cities.

“I’m teaching nursing classes in America right now online. So with technology we can really live wherever we want and still be connected to the people that we love and be connected to our jobs.”

‘We need more homes’

A lack of affordable housing is seen as one of the main stumbling blocks when it comes to boosting the population.  

Holiday homes, housing projects concentrated in urban rather than rural areas and inflated property prices due to Covid and Brexit have all had an impact.

Musician Padraig Morrison, who returned to Grimsay in North Uist last year after living in Glasgow, says people do want to return to the islands.

But he said finding a property was a major obstacle; people buying holiday homes has pushed prices up.

“There have been a number of folk who have had really challenging housing situations as soon as they have moved back,” he said.

“They’ve had to go back to the family home or do some couch surfing in order to be in the place that they want to be.”

What is being done?

Western Isles Council said it planned to make a case to the Scottish Government for extra support to provide more diverse jobs and housing.

STV News
It’s hoped various measures can reverse depopulation.

The government said it was looking at options such as an Islands Bond, offering young people and families a financial incentive to stay in or move to the islands.

It added that work was already underway through its National Islands plan to address areas threatened by depopulation.

Children ‘boogie’ as Euro 2020 fever sweeps across Scotland

Clyde Primary School pupils have been showing off their impressive moves in celebration of the football tournament.

Clyde Primary School via Video

Euro 2020 fever has begun to sweep across Scotland as the men’s national team prepare for their opening match.

Clyde Primary School pupils in Glasgow ‘can boogie’ and have been showing off their impressive moves in support of the Scotland squad.

Craig Foy via SNS Group
Glasgow Green: The Euro 2020 fan zone has opened.

Euro 2020 is the first major tournament the national men’s team have qualified for in more than two decades.

Scotland will take on the Czech Republic at Hampden Park on Monday. The team will then play the Auld Enemy at Wembley Stadium on Friday before returning to Hampden to take on Croatia on June 22.

Fan zone: It is the biggest event in the city since the Covid pandemic began.

An official Euros fan zone has opened in Glasgow and will run for the entire championships.

It’s the biggest event in the city since the pandemic began despite concerns it could lead to a spike in coronavirus cases.

Up to 6000 people each day – split into two 3000 sessions – are going to be able to watch Euros matches at Glasgow Green if they have a ticket.

Fans heading to the site were encouraged to take a Covid test before arriving, however proof of a negative test will not be required before entry.

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Game on: Fans enjoyed the opening Turkey vs Italy match.

Scotland superfan Andy Redmond also can’t wait to watch his beloved team in action.

The 73-year-old is a proud member and foot soldier of the Tartan Army and has followed the team all over the world.

Mr Redmond, from Motherwell in North Lanarkshire, told STV News: “I don’t mind admitting it, at Scotland games when we have won I’ve had a tear in my eye because it’s been really, really good.

“I’ve also had a tear in my eye in a different way when we haven’t won.”

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Tartan Army: Andy Redmond has bagged tickets to all three of Scotland’s opening matches.

Known as ‘the walrus’, Mr Redmond has managed to bag tickets for Scotland’s three opening games.

He said the Euros “means the world”, adding: “Well, the Euros, the worlds will be next. It just means a lot to me.

“Just getting back to a live game will be fantastic. Getting to the stadiums, getting into the stadiums, seating arrangements in the stadiums. It’s just going to be so different.”


Mr Redmond joked: “But an advantage might be is that the referee might hear what you’re shouting at him.

“I’m really looking forward to it. Really, I can’t express how much I’m looking forward to it.”

Detectives launch inquiry into ‘suspicious’ death of man

Emergency services were called to a flat in Mosside Drive, Blackburn, shortly before 1am on Saturday.

© Google Maps 2020
Blackburn: Police were called to Mosside Drive on Saturday morning.

Detectives have launched an investigation into the “suspicious” death of a man in West Lothian.

Emergency services were called to a flat in Mosside Drive, Blackburn, shortly before 1am on Saturday.

A 35-year-old man was pronounced dead at the scene.

A post-mortem is yet to take place to establish the cause of death, however investigating officers are treating it as “suspicious”.


A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “Around 12.50am on Saturday, June 12, officers were called to a flat in Mosside Drive, Blackburn. 

“Police and ambulance attended and a 35-year-old man was pronounced dead at the scene.

“A post-mortem will be carried out in due course to establish the exact cause of death, however at this time the death is being treated as suspicious and extensive police enquiries are ongoing into the circumstances surrounding this death.”

‘Boogie cover has put me on the road to Hampden’

Brooke Combe's version of Scotland's new football anthem went viral after the play-off victory.

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A singer who shot to fame with her cover of Scotland’s new football anthem wants to grace the Hampden turf one day.

But despite being a keen footballer in her schooldays, Brooke Combe isn’t expecting to lace up her boots and pull on the famous dark blue jersey.

Instead, she wants to get fans dancing in their seats by one day headlining a concert at the famous national stadium.

The 21-year-old Edinburgh star’s profile “blew up” after she covered Baccara’s disco classic Yes Sir, I Can Boogie – the song adopted by the Tartan Army and Scotland squad.

STV News
Brooke’s cover went viral on TikTok.

Brooke recorded her version after footage showing the players dancing and celebrating to the song took over social media following the national side’s qualification for Euro 2020.

Her video went viral on TikTok and even attracted the attention of Scotland captain Andy Robertson.

“My friend texted me ‘if you cover this it’s going to blow up’,” Brooke told Scotland: We Can Boogie, streaming now on the STV Player.

“It blew up, it absolutely blew up.”


Brooke is now being tipped for big things, having recently released her first single ‘Are You With Me?’, a collaboration with Blossoms bassist Charlie Salt and The Coral.

And she believes her music career will eventually lead her down the road to Hampden.

“To play Hampden one day would be incredible – it will happen, watch this space,” she said.

Appeal to track down man who was ‘hit by car in murder bid’

The incident, involving a Ford Focus, is reported to have happened in Glasgow at around 6.25pm on Thursday.

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Police: Officers would like to track down a man who was reportedly hit by a car.

Police have issued an appeal to track down a man who was hit by a car during an alleged murder bid in Glasgow.

The incident, involving a Ford Focus, is reported to have happened on Sandbank Street in the Maryhill area at around 6.25pm on Thursday.

A 19-year-old man has been arrested and charged in connection with the incident and has been released on an undertaking to appear at Glasgow Sheriff Court.

On Saturday, Police Scotland appealed for the man who was reportedly struck by the car to come forward.


He was described as slim, around 18-21, 5ft 10in, and was wearing a blue tracksuit.

Police believe he sustained a head injury as a result of the incident and was walking with a limp.

Detective sergeant Stephen Palmer, of Maryhill CID, said: “Our enquiries are ongoing to trace the victim of this incident and we are looking for the public’s assistance to trace him.

“We believe the victim sustained injuries as a result of the incident and we want to ensure he is okay.


“We are keen to speak to the victim and would urge him or anyone with information to contact police via 101.”

Minister seeks four nations meeting on drugs law change

Angela Constance has said experts across Europe support the use of overdose prevention facilities.

STV News
Drugs: Minister calls for law change.

Scotland’s drugs policy minister has called for a four nations meeting to discuss reform of drugs legislation.

Angela Constance has written to Home Office minister Kit Malthouse, also seeking to discuss overdose prevention facilities and pill presses.

In her letter, Constance said there is support from experts across Europe on the benefits of overdose prevention facilities.

She said she had been encouraged by Malthouse’s recent comments around widening the availability of overdose treatments.


The Scottish Government recently established a taskforce to tackle the country’s drugs deaths crisis.

She said: “I was also encouraged recently to read of your aspiration to work with all of the devolved administrations to ‘tackle drug misuse, tighten controls on dangerous substances and widen the availability of treatments which prevent overdose deaths’, and I wondered if you were including overdose prevention facilities amongst those possible treatment options?

“A lot of these issues seemed to come up in the recent cross-party parliamentary session that took place to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Misuse of Drugs Act (MDA).

“This session, and the ongoing campaign to reform the MDA, is yet another reminder of the need for us to adopt a public health approach to problem substance use in order to best help protect communities and lives devastated by illicit drugs.


“As you will likely be aware, we are currently taking forward a piece of work through the drug deaths taskforce regarding drug law reform which is exploring the barriers that the current legislation has on our ability to provide a public health response to this crisis.

“I would welcome an opportunity to discuss this with you and the other devolved administrations at a future four nations meeting.”

Constance also said she is keen to establish drugs checking facilities to deal with street benzodiazepines, due to the “lack of understanding around what people are taking”.

Malthouse, who is the Home Office minister for crime and policing, said: “Drugs can devastate lives, ruin families and damage communities.

“This Government’s approach to them remains clear – we must prevent drug misuse in our communities and support people through treatment and recovery.

“Tackling drug misuse is a priority for this Government and we are clear that action is needed across all four nations to reduce the harms caused.

“We are committed to working across the UK and have regular contact with the Scottish Government at ministerial and official level on this issue.”


The Home Office says drug consumption rooms are not legal in the UK, though it will give consideration to new evidence on their harms and benefits.

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