Drugs courier caught with nearly £200,000 worth of cocaine jailed

Charles Dewar, 63, was stopped by officers driving back from Newcastle to Scotland.

Court: Charles Dewar, 63, was jailed for two years. Nirat via IStock
Court: Charles Dewar, 63, was jailed for two years.

A drugs courier caught with nearly £200,000 worth of cocaine has been jailed for two years.

Charles Dewar, 63, was stopped by officers driving back from Newcastle to Scotland and was found to have two kilos of the class A drug on October 28, 2020.

He had believed to have been collecting cannabis resin from Newcastle in a pre-arranged meeting.

Dewar pled guilty last month to being concerned in the supply of the class A drug at the M90 Edinburgh to Perth road at Glenfarg, at Newcastle and elsewhere.

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At the High Court in Paisley on Friday, Judge Lord Arthurson said: “You acted as a courier in a Class A drug trafficking operation with two kilos of cocaine with a maximum value of £199,800.

“You are a first offender at age 63 and you have a supportive family.

“You played a small part in this type of offence.

“You had a lesser role in this operation and you thought you were transporting cannabis rather than class A drugs but you were still transporting drugs and it was considerable.”

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An earlier hearing was told Dewar confessed to officers when caught that he was stopped by an unknown man he had never met on a street in Newcastle.

Prosecutor Craig Borthwick said: “This male opened the rear door of his vehicle and deposited a package under the rear seat.

“Dewar stated he is merely a mule, who acted under duress having a ‘gun to his head’, believing he was only collecting cannabis resin.”

Police had received intelligence that Dewar’s Ford Fusion Zetec car was being used to transport a large amount of cannabis to Perth.

Dewar was stopped on the A977 Kincardine to Kinross road by officers at Glenfarg, in Perth and Kinross. 

A police drugs search dog drew attention to the rear seat and the cocaine was found beneath it.

The drugs were sealed up inside carrier bags.

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A black plastic layer in the wrapping was labelled “TMT the money team” and the cocaine blocks were stamped “TMT”.

Expert drugs officers said the total potential street value for the haul of cocaine was £199,800. 

Defence counsel Tony Lenehan told a previous hearing that Dewar, from Perth, had health problems and was subject to extensive medical investigations.


Man admits raping and murdering pensioner in her own home

Jason Graham killed Esther Brown at her Glasgow home before purchasing cigarettes using her bank card earlier this year.

STV News / Woodlands Community Development Trust via Website

A man has pleaded guilty to the rape and murder of a pensioner who was found dead in her home.

Jason Graham, 30, appeared at the High Court in Glasgow on Friday, where he admitted to assaulting and killing Esther Brown.

The court heard Graham then purchased a packet of cigarettes using the victim’s bank card following the murder.

The 67-year-old’s body was found at her address in West Princes Street in Woodlands, Glasgow, on Tuesday, June 1 after she had been missing for four days.

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A week after the last sighting of her, officers arrested and charged Graham over her death.

The court heard the accused had a previous conviction for attacking and raping an older woman in 2013 and was sentenced to seven years in prison.

He was released in 2018 before his licence expired in 2020 and he has been a registered sex offender since.

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Jason Graham has been convicted of rape and murder.

Ms Brown has been described as a “much loved and active member of the community” and was devoted to St Silas Church.

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In a statement read out in court, friends described her life as “full and rewarding” and “dedicated to helping others”.

Addressing Graham in court, judge Lord Armstrong said: “You now stand convicted of the gravest of crimes involving the most depraved actions on your part, characterised by utter brutality, extreme and sustained violence against a defenceless woman in her own home.”

Defence lawyer Brian McConnachie QC told the court Graham had “no recollection” of the attack, but has “insight” into the impact Ms Brown’s death has had on the community.

He said the accused is on medication for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in relation to a “traumatic childhood event”, and that he had consumed “a substantial” amount of alcohol on the night he broke into Ms Brown’s property.

Mr McConnachie said: “It seems to be clear that the combination of the drugs and alcohol have contributed to the offences.”

After drinking in a nearby pub, Graham accessed Ms Brown’s property through an open door into the building’s stairwell before knocking on her door.

The court heard the two were not known to each other.

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Following the murder, Graham returned to a relative’s property and told his cousin he had “done something bad” and said “they are coming for me”, the court heard.

People in the community known to Ms Brown grew concerned for her welfare after she failed to show up to an organised walk and her regular church service.

Friends visited her home, but called the police before entering the property as they “sensed something was wrong”.

Ms Brown was found dead with multiple lacerations and bruises to her body.

Prosecutor Alex Prentice QC said a postmortem examination showed signs that Ms Brown was “fighting for her life” during the attack and had injuries “consistent with sexual assault”.

He said the victim suffered “sustained beating from pieces of wood from a broken chair” that was damaged during the incident.

Lord Armstrong deferred sentence on Graham until November 12 at the High Court in Edinburgh for reports, including on his psychiatric history.

Graham, who appeared in court wearing a blue jumper and blue jeans, remains subject to Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009.

Speaking to STV News, detective superintendent Suzie Chow said: “Jason Graham is a dangerous predator and thankfully he has now been arrested and convicted for this crime.

“It’s been a really devastating time for Esther’s family and the community of Woodlands.

“She was a much-loved and much well-respected member of the community there and the family have had a real tough time coming to terms with what’s happened to Esther.

“Esther was a major part in the community.

“She worked for voluntary organisations and helped out in charities and the community garden within Woodlands.

“And the community itself gathered round after this brutal attack. The community came together, they assisted the police in their investigation and supported the police and the family throughout that time, so I’d like to thank the community for their help and assistance.”

Dr Annie Gemmill, a friend of Ms Brown, paid tribute to her ahead of Friday’s hearing.

She said Ms Brown was “a single lady but she had a great love”, adding “no one’s life should ever be ended as hers was, and we miss her so much.”


Military drafted in to help two under-pressure NHS boards

NHS Lanarkshire and NHS Borders are facing 'significant' strain.

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Military assistance to ease the pressure on two NHS health boards.

The Scottish Government has requested military assistance to ease the “unprecedentedpressure on two NHS health boards.

NHS Lanarkshire and NHS Borders are facing “significant” strain due to a rise in Covid-19 admissions and a backlog in care.

NHS Lanarkshire will receive three nurses, 45 military medics, 12 general duties troops and three drivers who will be working in acute settings.

NHS Borders will receive 14 military medics, two nurses and four additional military personnel will provide assistance in acute settings.

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Two military medics will oversee operations from the army’s headquarters in Scotland at Redford Barracks in Edinburgh.

The support personnel will be from the Royal Navy but the medically qualified staff will be from the Army.

Judith Park, director of Acute Services at NHS Lanarkshire, said the “very welcome” assistance would be in place across the board’s Monklands, Hairmyres and Wishaw hospitals.

The 86 personnel in total will arrive in Scotland on Sunday, October 17, and are currently set to begin work on Tuesday, October 19.

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The Ministry of Defense said support would initially be provided until November 10, but this will be reviewed nearer that date.

The military is already providing 114 personnel as drivers for the Scottish Ambulance Service and 111 at Covid-19 Mobile Testing Units.

Brigadier Ben Wrench, commander of Joint Military Command Scotland, said: “The Armed Forces in Scotland as always stand ready to support civil society in Scotland and the rest of the UK.

“The ability of trained military healthcare professionals and their support team to deploy at short notice and provide short term support to cover a critical gap shows the utility of the Armed Forces and the strength of the ongoing relationship with partner civilian organisations.”

Health secretary Humza Yousaf said the NHS was experiencing unprecedented pressure due to coronavirus admissions and a backlog in care.

“In the NHS Borders and NHS Lanarkshire areas, staff shortages because of Covid-19 are affecting bed capacity and temporary military assistance has been requested to support the boards at this time,” he said.

“With increasing levels of social mixing and close social contact it is expected that this winter COVID-19 will circulate alongside respiratory viruses, such as flu, adding to the winter pressures usually faced by the NHS.


Film exploring Tiree teen’s passion for surfing set for UK premiere

Ride the Wave charts Ben Larg’s life tackling some of the biggest and most dangerous waves in the world.

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A documentary about a Tiree teenager’s passion for surfing is set to have its UK premiere at the London BFI Film Festival.

Ride the Wave charts Ben Larg’s life from 12-year-old surfing champion to just a few years later embarking on a journey to tackle some of the biggest and most dangerous waves in the world.

Film maker Martyn Robertson spent four years capturing Ben’s incredible talent and quickly his idea of a documentary about Scotland’s surfing sensation grew into a film.

Taking it all in his stride, Ben told STV News: “I’ve been surfing from two on the front of my dad’s board then when I was seven, I began surfing every day.

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“After I had done a few comps I wanted to do big wave surfing – it’s a bit more extreme and I enjoyed that. 

“We went to Ireland and we surfed a wave called Mullaghmore. It was about 30ft.”

The now 16-year-old says that casually but as you see from the film, it’s not such a relaxing sport for the onlookers, particularly Ben’s family.

All keen surfers themselves, running the Blackhouse Watersports business in Tiree, Ben’s mum Iona said: “We all got pulled into the film too. The change in him doing competitions to wanting to surf big waves and how that impacted us as a family.

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“We support his passion but when you see him paddling out, you just become a mum and you want to pull him back, but you can’t do that.”

Ben’s proud dad, Martin, said that it was emotional to watch his family on screen but praised the opportunities the filming has given Ben and the places they have been able to visit and surf off the back of it.

The film will be released in February.

Meanwhile, in Uig, on the Isle of Lewis, another film about surfing is currently being made, although this one is a little different.

Producer Chris Young, who previously produced the Inbetweeners Movie, describes Silent Roar as “an adolescent film about surfing, sex and hellfire.”

It tells the story of a young surfer struggling to come to terms with the death of his father and although shooting on Uig hasn’t always been easy, with extreme weather conditions taking their toll, Chris said he wouldn’t have wanted to make it anywhere else, insisting “part of what makes the film special is the landscape.”

Actor Derek Horsham, who plays a character called Bonco in the film, said: “It’s time for another film like this. I mean Local Hero was one, Gregory’s Girl another, but they gave that sort of quirky side to Scottish life and this is another one.”

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Two very different films both centred around surfing in Scotland; surely destined to cause a splash.


Excitement but some fears as Glasgow businesses get set for COP26

Leaders from across the globe will take part in the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow.

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A restaurant owner whose business is located beside the COP26 blue zone says she feels like they are going into another lockdown ahead of the climate conference. 

India Quay is one of the closest establishments allowed to stay open during the two-week event. 

But Spinder Purewall-Johal believes the road closures in the area will mean they will lose business and they’ve been told they will not be compensated.

She told STV News: “It’s just a case of wait and see and that’s the biggest worry especially having gone through everything with Covid and being closed for so long.

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“You’re just back up and running and effectively this feels to us like we’re going into a lockdown again.”

STV News
India Quay: Spinder Purewall-Johal.

At the moment India Quay has just two bookings during COP26 and their regular customers haven’t made reservations during the summit.

Ms Purewall-Johal believes they would have been better off if they had been told to close.

She added: “We probably would have preferred that because at the moment it’s not just ‘are we going to have customers coming in here?’, it’s going to be ‘what if there are protests outside our door and we’ve got customers sitting, how do we deal with that?’

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“Just a lot of uncertainty and not knowing how things are going to go.”

‘We’re really excited’

STV News
Gallus Alice: Jennifer Lemon.

Gallus Alice is located slightly further away from the conference in Finnieston.

Bosses have ordered plenty of stock ahead of the summit and are hopeful for an “influx” of customers.

Jennifer Lemon, Gallus Alice co-owner, said: “We’re really excited.”

She highlighted that it’s been a difficult year due to the pandemic, but especially for the retail sector.

She added: “Without people being in-store we’re having to depend on the online side of things.

“I’m really hoping with the influx of a new potential global customer that even after COP26 that they will continue to shop with us online afterwards.”

More on:

Review into child’s care following death of ‘smiley’ baby girl

The Glasgow Child Protection Committee has published a Significant Case Review into the child's death.

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Death: Both parents have since been charged in connection with their daughter’s death.

A severely disabled baby girl found dead at her home was not properly cared for by her parents, according to a significant case review which also found opportunities to intervene were missed.

Child D was found “lifeless” by her father in the Glasgow family home at 2am – before she reached the age of one. She was taken to hospital but staff were unable to resuscitate her.

In the weeks leading up to her death, medical staff had raised concerns that she was not “her normal smiley self” and was losing weight.

Her complex needs included having to have her bladder emptied four times every day – but the care review found this was only being done “intermittently” by her parents. It concluded, “the child ultimately dies due to a poor care regime by the parents.”

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Both parents have since been charged in connection with their daughter’s death. They and Child D cannot be identified for legal reasons. 

The Glasgow Child Protection Committee has published a Significant Case Review into the death, which happened in July 2017. 

It said “early intervention opportunities” were missed to help Child D and there was “a lack of coordination of services resulting in insufficient communication and information sharing.”

Problems in the system leading up to her death included three different health visitors being involved with the family. And there was no single health lead professional being made responsible for coordinating her health care. 

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It also found a GP had failed to flag up relevant details about the family history while filling out information for other health professionals and raised concerns about a pre-birth care assessment.

And it highlighted seven priorities that needed to be looked at in the wake of the child’s death.

The family had been known to social workers for a number of years. The baby’s father had drug addiction problems while the mother suffered from “long standing” mental health problems.

But they were judged to have made significant progress before the birth of Child D. 

The review found that even before the birth of Child D there were concerns that she may not survive childbirth, and it was highlighted that if she survived she would have multiple health needs.

Despite this, a pre-birth meeting did not have any representation from acute health specialities involved in Child D’s care.

Child D underwent surgery after being born with spina bifida, which is when the baby’s spine and spinal cord do not develop properly in the womb.

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She spent seven weeks in the neonatal high dependency unit before being taken home. Her health condition meant she needed to attend medical appointments regularly. 

The review said there was “limited discussion around the child’s complex medical needs and what is expected of the parents with regards to the child’s daily health and care needs.”

This included the need for her to be catheterised four times every day to empty her bladder to stay healthy. 

From August to December 2016 the child was seen by 13 health professionals. Parents promised health workers they were catheterising the baby four times daily, but no members of staff saw them do it at home.

At one point her dad told an addictions worker he was not “comfortable” catheterising his daughter.

The case review reported that in the hours beforehand Child D’s father had texted her mum begging her to come home as the baby was being sick and he didn’t know what to do. 

Police were concerned about the state of the family home when they attended after Child D’s death. A stockpile of catheters was found in the home – suggesting it was not happening enough. 

The case review said: “There are indications that the parents are not catheterising Child D four times daily as is necessary to ensure her health and well-being. They would appear to have been intermittently undertaking this procedure and the child ultimately dies due to a poor care regime by the parents.”

The case review identified seven priority findings when looking at the circumstances of her death including lack of communication and information sharing between agencies.

The review called for changes across the city including setting up a “process for identifying early in pregnancy vulnerable women and unborn babies who may require additional support.” 

It also said it is necessary to have a “consistent approach” in the completion of GP SCI gateway information across the city – in light of a GP not filling in a form comprehensively about Child D’s family. Additionally, the review pointed out there is a need to ensure that all relevant agencies are represented at child protection meetings.

Findings included three different health visitors working with the family during Child D’s short life. It resulted in a lack of knowledge of the family and child’s needs. There was a shortage of health visitors at that time nationally but more have now been hired. 

Another outcome showed a GP clicked ‘not known’ when asked were they aware of any vulnerability or child protection in relation to this pregnancy? while filling in information for maternity services. That happened despite the family being registered with the practice since 2013.

A further discovery revealed specialist health services staff didn’t attend a post birth planning meeting for Child D. The review said that had led to “the needs of the child not being fully understood and multi-agency assessment and decision making compromised.“

The review also highlighted no single health lead professional was assigned to the child.

The case review said: “If there is no health lead professional, there is no holistic understanding of a child’s Personal Data needs and there is no coordination across health specialities to ensure robust information sharing and care planning.”

It pointed out there was no consideration around “respite to support the parents to provide long term care to ensure a sustained high level of care for Child D.”

It also found there was “no multi-agency child’s plan in place and therefore no regular reviews of the plan involving key professionals.” 

It showed concerns around Child D’s weight, mum’s mental health and the parents’ separation were not addressed along with other issues. 

The review also raised concerns about NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde health board having multiple information systems.

Child D’s information was recorded in different records. 

It said: “Where health professionals do not have access to all relevant information this impacts on the quality of assessment, decision making and robust child’s planning.”

A spokeswoman for Glasgow’s Health & Social Care Partnership said: “This is a tragic case and our sympathies are with everyone affected.

“We welcome the findings of the Child Protection Committee’s report and have implemented an action plan to address the points raised – particularly in relation to information sharing between health and social care services.”

Story by local democracy reporter Sarah Hilley


Man in wheelchair dies after being struck by lorry on busy road

The 36-year-old man was pronounced dead at the scene and his next of kin have been informed. 

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Crash: Man dies following HGV crash.

A wheelchair user has died after being hit by a lorry in Ayrshire.

The incident occurred around 3.10pm on Thursday on the A76 at Castle, New Cumnock.

The 36-year-old man was pronounced dead at the scene and his next of kin have been informed. 

Sergeant Craig Beaver of the Road Policing Unit said: “Our thoughts are with the man’s family and friends at this very difficult time.

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“Enquiries are continuing into the full circumstances surrounding the crash and the road was closed for around five hours whilst collision investigation was carried out.

“I would ask anyone who may have witnessed the incident or who may have dash-cam footage, and has not yet spoken to or provided this information to officers, to contact us as soon as possible.

“Anyone with information should call Police Scotland on 101, quoting incident number 1939 of October 14.”


School cleaners and cooks set to join Glasgow strikes during COP26

A total of 1500 Glasgow City Council staff in the refuse, cleansing, school janitorial and catering sectors are set to strike.

Ben Birchall via PA Ready
Workers plan to strike in Glasgow during COP26 over a pay dispute.

School cleaners and cooks are set to join refuse workers on strike in Glasgow during COP26 over a pay dispute.

Cleansing workers and schools support staff who are members of the GMB union voted in favour of industrial action that could disrupt the climate summit starting next month.

A total of 1500 Glasgow City Council staff in the refuse, cleansing, school janitorial and catering sectors could strike because of the ongoing pay dispute, with 96.9% of returned ballots backing industrial action.

GMB members rejected a £850-a-year increase for staff earning up to £25,000 a year from local authority umbrella body Cosla, with the union – along with Unison and Unite – all calling for a £2000 pay rise.

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Cosla said negotiations are ongoing.

GMB Glasgow organiser, Chris Mitchell, said: “Over the past 18 months throughout this awful pandemic, essential services across Scotland have been held together by an army of low paid workers.

“We were called key workers, even Covid heroes, but while politicians were happy to applaud us on Thursday nights, they’ve never put their hands in their pockets to pay us properly.

“The eyes of the world will be on Glasgow during COP26, and our politicians now have a choice – will they fairly reward the frontline workers who got the country through the pandemic, or will they risk embarrassing the city and the country on an international stage?

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“The message that our members have sent with this ballot result is clear. We are taking a stand for what we deserve, and we believe the people will stand with us.”

The call for industrial action comes after Glasgow City Council leader Susan Aitken was criticised for saying the city needs a “spruce up” before the COP26 conference.

Her comments received a backlash from politicians and members of the public who claimed she was “out of touch” with the city.

A Cosla spokesman said: “We appreciate everything that Local Government workers have been doing, and continue to do, to support people and communities during the pandemic and as we begin to recover.

“We continue with ongoing, constructive negotiations.”

Rail workers will also go on strike during COP26, the RMT union confirmed on Thursday, over a separate dispute over pay and conditions.

ScotRail staff will strike from Monday November 1 until Friday November 12.

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Staff on the Caledonian Sleeper will hold two 24-hour strikes: one from 11.59am on Sunday October 31 and one on Thursday November 11, also from 11.59am.


Tory MP Sir David Amess dead after stabbing at constituency meeting

Sir David Amess, who represented Southend West in Essex, was attacked on Friday.

UK Parliament via Website
The 69-year-old was attacked on Friday at Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea.

Conservative MP Sir David Amess has died after being stabbed multiple times at a meeting with constituents.

A suspect, a 25-year-old man, has been arrested on suspicion of murder after the Tory veteran was stabbed during a constituency surgery in Essex.

The 69-year-old victim, who had been an MP since 1983, was fatally injured at Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea on Friday.

The father-of-five is the second sitting MP to be killed in such circumstances in five years, following the death of Labour MP Jo Cox in 2016 as she attended a constituency surgery.

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Witnesses described the scene as “very distressing”.

A police spokesman said: “A man has been arrested on suspicion murder after a man was stabbed in Leigh-on-Sea.

“We were called to an address in Eastwood Road North shortly after 12.05pm today.

“We attended and found a man injured.

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“He was treated by emergency services but, sadly, died at the scene.”

Police said a 25-year-old man has been arrested and a knife was recovered.

Detectives are not looking for any other suspects, and have asked witnesses with footage such as CCTV to come forward.

Councillor John Lamb, who was at the scene, said: “He’s a family man, he’s got four daughters and a son.

“He’s always trying to help people and especially refugees he’s tried to help.

“He’s a very amicable person and he does stick by his guns, he says what he believes and he sticks by it.”

Aerial footage showed multiple police officers outside the church and an air ambulance at the scene.

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A large cordon extended down Eastwood Road, with members of the public gathering behind it, and multiple side streets closed off.


Transport minister claims ScotRail strikes during COP26 ‘not valid’

Graeme Dey has called for RMT members to vote again on whether to take action over the pay dispute.

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Strikes: Graeme Day calls for RMT members to vote again on strike action.

A vote for strike action by railway workers that is set to disrupt COP26 is “no longer valid”, Scotland’s transport minister has claimed.

Graeme Dey called for RMT members to vote again on whether to take action over the pay dispute, claiming there is now a “very fair offer” for ScotRail staff.

The trade union announced strike action by ScotRail workers from November 1 to 12 to coincide with the climate summit in Glasgow and members on the Serco-run Caledonian Sleeper service will also strike from October 31 to November 2 and from November 11 to 13.

It comes amid a dispute over pay and condition following a ballot in which 84% of more than 2000 members backed more strikes.

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Speaking to the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland programme, Dey argued that “circumstances have changed” since members voted for strike action, and said: “The premise of what was said yesterday is fundamentally wrong.”

“That was about that took place before the offer was made many RMT members will have voted, believing there was no offer.”

However, RMT Scotland organiser Michael Hogg said it was a “lousy, rotten offer” of a 4.7% increase which was not worthy of consideration because it required “members to sell hard-earned terms and conditions in order to get a pay rise”.

He added that all ScotRail services could end up being cancelled during the COP26 conference as a result of the strikes.

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The transport minister refused to reveal the details of the deal being offered by ScotRail, or whether it was a final offer, but said: “It was the best offer that can be made in the circumstances”.

He added: “Rail workers took part on a ballot on the basis that they had been left behind from their perspective because there had been no offer made.

“But that is not the case any more. An offer was made, has been made, it’s there and it’s a very fair offer and one that’s affordable for the railway.”

Asked whether the RMT members should have to vote again, Dey said: “I think that’s fundamentally the right thing to do.

“The circumstances have changed, that mandate is no longer valid and therefore I would encourage them to either accept on behalf of their members or go back to the members and put the offer to them.”

Dey defended ScotRail’s “extremely involved” engagement in discussions with unions but insisted it was not the Scottish Government’s role to resolve the dispute, despite being involved in the talks.

He said: “It’s not for the government to get back round the table.

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“The trade unions and management were round the table over an extended period to arrive at the point they did with this offer being made and taken back to the memberships of three of the four unions.”

Following the interview, Mr Hogg told the programme: “What I say to Graeme Dey and to Transport Scotland is: let’s get round the table, let’s hold the serious, meaningful discussions we need in order to find a solution.

“I don’t see why members should be expected to actually sell hard-earned terms and conditions.”

ScotRail’s operations director David Simpson said: “We made a very positive offer to [the RMT] last weekend which – at that point – seemed to be acceptable.

“It offered a two-year deal, there was 4.7% worth of pay rise in there which, given the current industry financial position, is very significant.”

Describing the prospect of more strikes as “very frustrating”, Mr Simpson added: “What we need to do now is work together to build by custom.

“Following Covid, we are still only at 50% of previous customer levels.

“That leads to very significant financial challenges for the industry, and it’s against that backdrop that we were able to make the offer to the unions last week, which we hoped would resolve these issues, allow us to work together to deliver a great COP26, and then build the business back through the next few years.”


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