Ex-detective on murder trial ‘upset’ after wife found dead

Police initially believed death of woman allegedly killed by husband was 'non suspicious'.

Detectives initially decided the death of a woman allegedly killed by her ex-police officer husband was “non suspicious”.

Alice Farquharson’s body was found last August at the home in Aberdeen she shared with Keith Farquharson.

Farquharson, 60, is on trial at the High Court in Glasgow, where he denies murdering his 56 year-old wife last August.

Jurors heard that investigating detectives initially believed there had been no crime and it was only when Inspector Christopher Kerr pushed for further inquiries that a murder probe was launched.

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Insp Kerr was one of the officers who attended at the Farquharsons’ home after an earlier 999 call.

Alice had died that morning despite efforts to save her life.

Farquharson – a retired inspector – was initially described as “tearful and upset”.

The court heard he was asked what had happened.

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Farquharson allegedly told Insp Kerr he got up that morning, then “went through for coffee” before hearing a noise from the bedroom and discovering his wife.

Jurors earlier heard claims Farquharson was in the shower when he heard a “thud” and then gave Alice CPR.

Insp Kerr said he found the dad to be “unsure and doubtful about his recall”.

The inspector went to check Alice – her body was lying in her bed – and noticed “abrasions” on the mum’s face. He said he “found the nature of the death to be suspicious”.

He informed CID before asking Farquharson and other relatives to leave the property.

Insp Kerr recalled Farquharson “protested” and was “agitated”.

The officer added: “He made a remark to me and said ‘I feel like I am an accused’.”

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But, the trial was told the the incident was later “treated as non suspicious”.

Prosecutor Alex Prentice QC put to the inspector: “You had reached a view this should be treated as a suspicious death.

“But, a detective inspector and sergeant decided the matter was not suspicious and that that the home was to be returned to the family.

“Did you agree with that assessment?”

Insp Kerr: “No.”

The officer agreed he was “not content with the outcome reached” and instructed further inquiries, including a post mortem being “expedited immediately”.

Mr Prentice: “Did you later learn a murder inquiry was being instigated?”

Insp Kerr: “That is correct.”

Ian Duguid QC, defending, later quizzed the witness about Farquharson apparently protesting at being asked to leave his home.

Mr Duguid: “Did you find that odd?”

Insp Kerr: “Under the circumstances, the majority of families are supportive, but Mr Farquharson said something like ‘are you joking?’ and had to be calmed down.”

The murder charge alleges he seized hold of Alice, struggled with her before compressing her neck and face.

It is further claimed Farquharson left her unconscious after “restricting her breathing” by covering her nose and mouth.

He is then said to have caused blunt force injury “by means unknown”.

The trial, before Lady Stacey, continues.


Army to set up 80 coronavirus vaccine sites in Scotland

Defence secretary Ben Wallace confirmed the deployment of 98 soldiers over the next 28 days.

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Covid-19: Soldiers will help to identify and prepare vaccination centres.

The British Army will help set up 80 coronavirus vaccination centres throughout Scotland as part of the largest peacetime resilience operation carried out by the armed forces.

Defence secretary Ben Wallace confirmed the deployment of 98 soldiers over the next 28 days to identify and prepare suitable locations for NHS Scotland to administer the Covid-19 vaccine.

Soldiers will organise vaccine delivery to the sites, prepare storage for medicines and equipment, how to register and record patients as well as sorting car parking and traffic flow around the sites.

The troops, most of whom will be from the Leuchars-based Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, will then hand over the running of the sites to the health service.

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Wallace said: “The armed forces are operating across the length and breadth of the country, using their unique skill set to ensure the vaccine reaches the very fingertips of the United Kingdom.

“Our work supporting the new vaccine sites in Scotland complements the extensive preparation and planning the military are already conducting to support the vaccine rollout programme.

“Using the logistical expertise of military personnel, honed in war zones around the world, frees up NHS Scotland and local authorities to continue to focus on administering the initial 900,000 doses provided to Scotland by the UK Government in January.”

The 98 soldiers will be directed by 20 military personnel based in Stirling while a further 32 will offer support alongside the Scottish Government and Scotland’s health boards from St Andrews House in Edinburgh.

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Scottish secretary Alister Jack said: “For us all, vaccines are the light at the end of the tunnel.

“I’m very pleased that the expertise of the British armed forces is helping the Scottish Government get vaccines into arms as quickly as possible.

“The UK Government is supplying and paying for vaccines for the whole of the UK – it is now vital that these doses are administered as soon as possible.

“The UK Government is supporting all parts of the UK during the pandemic. That includes our unprecedented furlough scheme, delivering the bulk of daily testing in Scotland and providing the Scottish Government with an extra £8.6bn to support Scotland’s Covid response.”

Health secretary Matt Hancock said: “Our vaccination programme covers all parts of the UK and I’m proud the armed forces are supporting the largest rollout in our country’s history.

“We have already vaccinated more than 3.5 million people across the UK and this is rapidly increasing every day as more vaccine sites open, providing easier access for people.

“We are making strong progress on our commitment to offer vaccines to all of the most vulnerable people in the top four priority groups by the middle on February.”

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Scotland’s health secretary Jeane Freeman added: “This is the largest mass vaccination programme Scotland has ever undertaken and I am very grateful to the armed forces for their support to help us meet the significant logistical challenges involved, and ensure that by the time sufficient vaccination supplies are in place we have the facility to deliver around 400,000 doses per week by the end of February.

“Vaccination is a vital tool in our work to suppress the virus to the lowest possible level in Scotland but other measures including testing remain absolutely vital, which is why it is so essential people continue to follow the restrictions currently in place while vaccine delivery is rolled out across the country.”

Travel corridors close and negative test required before entry

All passengers arriving in Scotland from overseas are now required to self-isolate for ten days as new rules come into effect.

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UK travel corridors closed at 4am on Monday morning.

Passengers arriving in Scotland from overseas are now required to self-isolate for ten days.

All UK travel corridors, which allowed arrivals from some countries to avoid quarantine, were closed at 4am on Monday morning until further notice.

Passengers arriving in the country from outside the Common Travel Area by boat, train or plane must also have proof of a negative Covid-19 test taken no more than three days before the scheduled time of departure.

The closure comes as a ban on travellers from South America and Portugal came into force on Friday over concerns about a new variant of coronavirus identified in Brazil.

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Transport Secretary Michael Matheson said: “International travel has played a key role in previous waves of coronavirus and is a significant risk to our efforts to suppress the virus to the lowest possible level.

“It is crucial we take the right steps to prevent importing new strains that can increase transmission or undermine the vaccine in Scotland. 

“Travel into or out of Scotland is currently illegal and that will remain the case while we work to suppress the new strain of Covid-19. It remains the case that any travel must be for an essential reason.”

Travellers will need to present proof of a negative test result to their carrier on boarding, while the UK Border Force will conduct spot checks on arrivals.

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New arrivals who flout the rules will face a minimum £500 fine while the operator who transported them will also be fined.

There are limited exemptions, including hauliers, young children, train crew and people arriving from countries which do not have the infrastructure for testing.

New £1500 grant for taxi and private hire drivers affected by Covid

Scotland’s local authorities will directly approach an estimated 38,000 drivers inviting them to claim the funding.

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Funding: A new grant will be launched this week for taxi and private hire drivers.

A new grant will be launched this week for taxi and private hire drivers affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

Scotland’s local authorities will directly approach an estimated 38,000 drivers inviting them to claim the £1500 funding to help with their fixed costs.

Drivers must be licensed for the period October 9, 2020 to at least January 31 this year to be eligible.

The grant comes on top of support from other funding for loss of income available from the Scottish Government’s Covid-19 Public Transport Mitigation Fund and the UK Government’s Self-Employment Income Support Scheme.

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Finance secretary Kate Forbes said: “We know how difficult this pandemic has been for taxi drivers and their families.

“They’ve truly gone the extra mile, continuing to provide a vital service for key workers and vulnerable individuals throughout the lockdown and beyond.

“Following the introduction of tighter regulations at Christmas, I have trebled the budget originally announced for this fund to £57m, enough to provide grants of £1500 to all of Scotland’s 38,000 taxi and private hire drivers.

“It will help to support the taxi trade by augmenting existing support and assisting drivers in meeting fixed costs including licence plate fees, rental fees and insurance payments for taxis not on the road.”


Jobs and exports ‘grow in Scotland’s pharmaceutical sector’

Figures from the University of Strathclyde’s Fraser of Allander Institute report suggest the industry is worth £1.8bn.

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Report: Pharmaceutical industry worth £1.8bn.

Employment and exports have continued to grow in Scotland’s pharmaceutical sector, according to a new report.

Figures from the University of Strathclyde’s Fraser of Allander Institute report suggest the industry is worth £1.8bn, almost 6% higher than when the last major review took place in 2017.

It indicates the industry now exports £575m worth of manufactured goods, up from the £550m also reported in 2017.

Across Scotland there are currently around 5600 people directly employed by pharmaceutical companies with the majority of jobs in North Ayrshire, the Highlands and Dundee.

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The annual average salary of £35,600 is described by the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) Scotland as “significantly higher than Scotland’s annual median income of £24,486”.

It also marks a 9% increase on the 5130 full-time equivalent employees reported in 2018.

Alison Culpan, ABPI Scotland director, said: “In a year that has seen our companies stepping up and starting to lead us out of the pandemic with the vital vaccines we need, I am proud that the pharmaceutical industry continues to thrive in Scotland.

“Scotland’s industry is stronger today than it was three years ago with more people employed in good jobs, more being spent on research and development, and exports topping half a billion pounds.

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“It is important that the Scottish Government is ambitious and works with us to nurture and promote a sector which is not only exporting Scottish excellence around the world but delivering for the health of people here in Scotland.”

Mairi Spowage, Fraser of Allander Institute deputy director, also said: “Our economic analysis shows that the industry continues to grow in Scotland with direct employment, exports and GVA increasing.

“The contribution of the sector extends beyond the activities of pharmaceutical companies themselves, with their output supporting employment and income right across the country including areas of historically high unemployment and deprivation.”


Coronavirus: 1341 new cases as hospital patients rise overnight

According to NHS boards across Scotland, 1918 people are currently in hospital with confirmed or suspected Covid-19.

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

More people are now in hospital with coronavirus than at any time during the pandemic despite new infections falling to the lowest level in almost three weeks.

A further 1341 cases of coronavirus have been recorded in Scotland over the past 24 hours, the Scottish Government confirmed.

The number of new infections is 412 below the 1753 announced on Saturday and is the lowest since December 28 – although there tend to be fewer cases recorded at the weekend.

There have been no further deaths reported.

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Total confirmed cases of the virus has risen to 162,333 since the start of the pandemic.

The daily test positivity rate is 9.5%, up from the 8.4% reported on Saturday.

Of the new cases reported on Sunday, 412 are in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde region, 226 are in Lanarkshire, 131 are in Grampian, 125 are in Ayrshire and Arran, and 123 are in Lothian.

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

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The number of patients with recently confirmed coronavirus continues to reach record levels – increasing daily since Christmas Day, when there were 973 people in hospital.

According to NHS boards across Scotland, 1918 people are currently in hospital with confirmed or suspected Covid-19 – an increase of 55 overnight. Out of those, 147 patients are in intensive care.

The death toll of those who had tested positive stands at 5305, however weekly figures on suspected Covid-19 deaths recorded by National Records of Scotland suggest the most up-to-date total is at least 7074.


Plans for new £33.8m leisure-led development revealed

The proposal includes retail, a hotel, cabins and a museum telling the story of transport and vehicles over the last century.

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Development: A proposal of application notice has been submitted to Perth and Kinross Council.

Plans for a new £33.8m leisure-led development in Perthshire have been revealed.

The West Kinfauns proposal from Morris Leslie Ltd aims to include retail, a four-star hotel, lodge-style cabins and a museum telling the story of transport and vehicles over the last century.

A proposal of application notice has been submitted to Perth and Kinross Council with an online community consultation to be held on Tuesday, March 16 between 3pm and 7pm.

The development would incorporate a park and ride also planned for the site, which already has planning consent, if progressed by the local authority.

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Morris Leslie, chairman of the plant machinery company which has its headquarters in the area, said: “This exciting £33.8m development provides the perfect opportunity to maximise the potential of the location and draw tourism to the area on a local and national basis.

“Well-connected to the surrounding road network, including the A90, this premium destination will provide a gateway to Perth, to the surrounding area and beyond.

“The proposed scheme is of a scale that can support additional development and is ideally placed in terms of transport connection.

“It is also in a beautiful location with wonderful views.”

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As part of the plans, the hotel from “an internationally recognised brand” would include 120-150 guest rooms over four storeys with views of the River Tay.

Perth and Kinross Council leader Murray Lyle said: “This leisure-led development has the potential to make an exciting contribution to the local economy.

“These plans, although at an early stage, are a significant vote of confidence in Perth and Kinross and our ambitious plans for the area, which include the redevelopment of Perth City Hall to house the Stone of Destiny and the creation of the Cross Tay Link Road.”


Body found in park in search for missing 16-year-old boy

A search was launched for Santino Hogan after he failed to return home on Friday night.

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Police: Santino Hogan disappeared on Friday night.

A body has been found in the search for a missing 16-year-old boy in Perthshire.

Santino Hogan, known as Sonny, was last seen leaving his house in Main Street, Glenfarg, at around 6pm on Friday.

Specialist officers and police dogs joined in the search on Sunday.

At around 2pm, a body was found in a park in Glenfarg.

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Formal identification is yet to take place, however it is believed to be the teenager. His family has been made aware.

The death is not being treated as suspicious.

A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “Around 2pm on Sunday, January 17, the body of a male was found in a park in Glenfarg.

“The death is not being treated as suspicious and a report will be submitted to the Procurator Fiscal.

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“Formal identification is yet to take place however it is believed to be 16-year-old Santino Hogan who had been reported missing from his home in Glenfarg. 

“His family have been made aware.”


Monica Lennon joins Anas Sarwar in Scottish Labour leadership race

The central Scotland MSP and party health spokeswoman hopes to succeed Richard Leonard.

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Scottish Labour: Monica Lennon hopes to succeed Richard Leonard as the party's leader.

Monica Lennon has confirmed her bid to succeed Richard Leonard as the next Scottish Labour leader, joining Anas Sarwar in the race.

The central Scotland MSP and party health spokeswoman is vying to replace Leonard, who announced on Thursday he would step down from the role he has held since 2017.

It triggers a contest after Sarwar, Scottish Labour’s constitution spokesman, announced his intention to run again having lost out to Leonard for leadership last time around.

Lennon said: “Following extensive discussions with party members, I have decided to put my name forward to lead the Scottish Labour Party.

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“This is an important time for our country and it is vital that Scottish Labour continues to play a positive and constructive role during the pandemic response.

“The Scottish Parliament election will be a key moment in our democracy, when we decide what a Covid-19 recovery should look like.

“Scottish Labour Party members deserve to have their say about the best way to take forward our vision for a fairer and more equal Scotland.”

Sarwar set out his stall to replace Leonard on Saturday, saying the country “needs political leadership that will bring people together” and that he wants “to rebuild Scottish Labour, and then rebuild Scotland”.

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In a column for the Observer online, the Glasgow MSP wrote: “Over the past few years, I have gained a new perspective on our politics and realised that the things we argue about mean little to people’s lives.

“We spend too much time highlighting our differences, rather than focusing on what unites us.

“I firmly believe we cannot go back to society as it was before the pandemic – insecure work, hollowed-out public services, an underfunded health service, and the constant focus on another independence referendum when there’s far more important things we need to be dealing with.

“Scottish Labour can compete again if we offer a positive alternative – a plan to heal our wounds, to reunite our people and to rebuild our country.”

On Saturday, the party’s executive agreed to a condensed timescale for any contest with the Holyrood elections less than four months away.

The last Scottish Labour leadership contest in 2017 – when Leonard defeated Sarwar – took two-and-a-half months.

A deadline of midnight on Sunday was set for candidates to declare their intention to run and they require support from at least four of the party’s MSPs or its sole Scottish MP by midday on the following Tuesday to be formally nominated.

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Party members and affiliated supporters will be able to cast their votes from February 9 until ballots close on February 26 with the new leader to be announced the following day.


SNP ‘ramping up’ indyref2 campaign with creation of taskforce

The SNP has faced criticism from opposition parties for not focusing on the coronavirus pandemic.

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The SNP has announced the creation of a taskforce to support its campaign for Scottish independence.

The SNP has announced the creation of a taskforce to support its campaign for Scottish independence but faced criticism from opposition parties for not focusing on the coronavirus pandemic.

The taskforce could be the “final piece in the jigsaw” for achieving independence, according to the SNP’s depute leader Keith Brown.

He said it demonstrates the independence campaign is “ramping things up”, with the SNP looking to develop a strategy for another independence campaign ahead of May’s Holyrood elections.

“The independence taskforce will bring strategic direction and expertise which I believe is the final piece in the jigsaw that will help deliver independence,” Mr Brown said.

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He added: “Our independence taskforce at SNP headquarters will be welcomed by party members and grassroots Yes activists across the country.”

Mr Brown also indicated a “high-profile” Yes campaigner will soon be announced to lead the project and added: “I really believe that when I make the appointment it will also fire up the wider Yes movement.”

The SNP’s opponents have seized on the announcement to argue the party is more focused on breaking up the United Kingdom than tackling the Covid-19 pandemic.

Scottish Labour constitution spokesman and leadership candidate Anas Sarwar said: “The SNP’s priorities are wrong. Right now, political leaders should be focused on the coronavirus crisis, the vaccination programme and creating stability for the people of Scotland.

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“As we emerge from the pandemic, what is needed is a taskforce on jobs, health and education – not on independence.”

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross said: “The SNP are ramping up their push for indyref2 this year while the rest of Scotland is worried about their jobs and when they’ll get the Covid vaccine.

“They are stuck in the Holyrood bubble with no clue about the priorities of people across Scotland.

“Their shameless push for another referendum this year would wreck our recovery from the pandemic. We need to focus on building up Scotland, not breaking up our country.”

Willie Rennie, leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, said: “The First Minister promised that the SNP wouldn’t start a referendum in the middle of a pandemic, but off they go. They can’t help themselves.

“Thousands of people are ill with Covid. Business and workers are desperately worried about their immediate future.

“Despite the promises of the First Minister in the Scottish Parliament, nationalists will always put their own interests first. Liberal Democrats will put recovery first.”

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Pamela Nash, chief executive of the Scotland in Union campaign group, added: “Amid a public health pandemic when people are losing their lives and livelihoods, the idea that we need a taskforce on separation shows just how out of touch the SNP is.

“Imagine thinking that what we need right now is a taskforce focused on dividing communities and building borders, rather than bringing people together and rebuilding our country.

“The SNP is obsessed with how to tear families and friends apart, but we are stronger together as part of the UK and we can ensure a successful recovery by working together.”


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