Contractor tests negative for Covid-19 at RAF Lossiemouth

Two workers were suspected of contracting coronavirus - one has tested negative and the other test is inconclusive.

Coronavirus cases at RAF Lossiemouth. Getty Images
Coronavirus cases at RAF Lossiemouth.

A contract worker has tested negative for coronavirus at RAF Lossiemouth in Moray, while another is awaiting a retest following an inconclusive result.

The workers are non-airforce staff who are employed by the engineering and construction contractor Volker Fitzpatrick.

They had been told to isolate after showing positive antibody test results for the virus. 

Volker Fitzpatrick said in a statement: “As the two individuals were not symptomatic, they were initially ineligible for the antigen testing provided by NHS Scotland.


“We are pleased to report that one of the tests has returned a negative result, with another inconclusive at this time. The individual with the inconclusive test is being re-tested with the result known tomorrow.

“Our daily routine on-site at RAF Lossiemouth begins with 20% of our workforce receiving an antibody test. This equates to 100% of the work force every week. These tests are completely voluntary for our workforce, and we are pleased to report 100% of our workforce have opted-in.”

RAF Lossiemouth Group Captain Chris Layden said he had been informed about two suspected cases of Covid-19 among the Volker Fitzpatrick workforce, who are delivering the essential runway works here at RAF Lossiemouth.

He said: “They were displaying no symptoms but were identified through testing which Volker Fitzpatrick has been voluntarily conducting with the consent of their workforce.


“RAF Lossiemouth is continuing to deliver its vital work in the interests of national security, but we are stringently observing the necessary protocols, to protect both the military community and our wider Moray family.

“I am also assured that our partners Volker Fitzpatrick are doing the same.”

Moray MSP Richard Lochhead said he had discussed the situation with the director of public health for NHS Grampian, who informed him that the tests carried out by the company are for antibodies.

If antibodies appear to be present, the test indicates whether the individual is in the early, mid, or late states of the virus.

Mr Lochhead said: “I understand why this news is causing some anxiety locally. Above all, we need transparency and a precautionary approach from the MoD (Ministry of Defence) and contractors who must now reach out to the community.

“The MoD and the main contractors working at RAF Lossiemouth have been warned repeatedly by community representatives about the risk of bringing Covid into the community.

Mr Lochhead welcomed steps taken so far to reduce the risk of coronavirus infection but said there was a view that more needs to be done.

He said: “The fact that workers travelling to Moray may have had Covid is a wake-up call for the MoD.

“The MoD chose to introduce more risk to Moray by not taking on board the concerns of the community so it is also duty-bound to increase protection for the local community, service families and contractor employees.

“Until we have a vaccine, the MoD should review and oversee the situation.”

Fewer than one in 20 Scots likely to have had coronavirus

Just 4.3% of people in Scotland have tested positive for Covid-19 antibodies, according to new data.

Getty Images
Covid: Antibodies research uses random blood samples.

Fewer than 5% of Scots are thought to have been exposed to coronavirus over the course of the pandemic, public health officials have said.

Just 4.3% of people in Scotland have tested positive for Covid-19 antibodies, a Public Health Scotland report found.

The results came from the random of testing of nearly 5000 blood samples throughout Scotland between the end of April and the end of June.

Deputy chief medical officer Dr Nicola Steedman revealed the figure at the Scottish Government’s daily coronavirus briefing on Thursday.


As Scotland was preparing for the virus to hit earlier this year, then-chief medical officer Dr Catherine Calderwood warned between 60% and 80% of Scots could catch it.

Researching coronavirus antibodies helps to provide officials with more data on very mild or asymptomatic cases of Covid-19 that may have gone undetected.

Dr Steedman said the antibodies research suggested only “a fairly small” chunk of the population had so far been infected with Covid.

It comes as 11 new cases were reported in the last day, while the Scottish Government estimates around 700 people in the country in total are infectious.


Public health officials continue to put the R number – or reproduction rate – below one in Scotland, meaning the epidemic is shrinking.

Dr Steedman told the briefing: “Only a fairly small proportion of the population have so far likely been exposed to coronavirus in Scotland.

“And it is this low number of people likely exposed that explains and reinforces our ongoing messages to you.

“Firstly, that we need to be careful when we are easing out of lockdown and secondly, this is why we still want you to follow all of the current guidance on physical distancing and all the measures that we recommend in order to protect you, your loved ones and, in fact, protect all of us.”

The interim deputy CMO also sought to reassure the public on the use of personal data to form the new research on antibodies.

The 4751 blood samples tested came anonymously from routine blood checks carried out in healthcare settings across Scotland, she said.

Dr Steedman said data privacy is “a priority for all of us”, adding that personal data is used safely and only for the most important research projects.


Antibodies researchers look for the specific proteins that the human body produces to fight different types of infection.

Term-time childcare to resume in line with schools

John Swinney said childcare and early learning services should be fully up and running by August 11.

Term-time childcare services will resume in line with the return of schools next month, John Swinney has confirmed.

The education secretary laid out the next steps for childcare and early learning ahead of pupils going back to school – expected to be on a full-time basis – on August 11.

Much of Scotland’s childcare sector has been able to resume work in the last week after the country entered phase three of its lockdown exit plan, with various restrictions in place.

Speaking at the Scottish Government’s coronavirus briefing alongside Nicola Sturgeon, Swinney stressed that childcare will “look and feel a bit different” even while the sector reopens.


He announced a £11m “transitional fund” to help childcare centres reopen safely in Scotland from next month, in line with schools.

The education secretary also said a separate, previously announced support fund for childminders will open today for grant applications.

Current restrictions on the mixing of different childcare settings, such as between childminders and nurseries, are expected to be relaxed by the end of the month provided coronavirus cases in Scotland remain low.

Swinney also said he hopes a “bubble” model of childcare – where staff are designated to look after smaller groups of children – won’t be needed.


It comes as one more Scot died with coronavirus after seven days with no deaths of confirmed Covid cases.

A total of 11 new cases were reported in the last day, while the Scottish Government estimates around 700 people in the country in total are infectious.

There are 630 people in hospital with confirmed or suspected Covid-19, up 19, and six patients in intensive care, a figure which is unchanged.

The First Minister said more than 500 people have had the “traumatic” experience of being discharged from intensive care in Scotland after having the virus.

She announced that Dr Nadine Cossette, a liaison psychiatrist at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, has been commissioned to develop proposals for the support of those who have had coronavirus.

The FM went on to thank childcare workers, parents and children for how they had responded to the loss of childcare and schooling during the pandemic.

To Scotland’s youngsters, she said: “You have all been brilliant and I want you to know that everyone is really proud of you.”


Swinney also hailed the country’s “outstanding childcare staff” following the First Minister’s remarks.

He added: “Childcare has carried on during the pandemic.

“Key worker childcare was at the heart of keeping Scotland going during lockdown.

“Without it, Scotland could not have responded to the Covid-19 pandemic the way that we did.”

The education secretary continued: “Looking ahead, I expect term-time childcare settings will reopen in line with schools next month.

“This will be welcome news to parents, families, the childcare workforce and most importantly, to children.

“It is important to remember this reopening is not a return to normal. Childcare will look and will feel a bit different.

“Some public health restrictions will remain in place at that time.”

At the heart of this, he said, would be measures to restrict the number of contacts children and staff have, although strict social distancing is not envisaged.

The focus on childcare and education at Thursday’s briefing came after the group advising the government on the return of schools issued a new report.

It said teachers should not need to wear masks in schools unless they are spending prolonged close contact with a pupil.

The group further confirmed it does not expect pupils will need to socially distance from one another.

Speaking at the briefing, Sturgeon also revealed the policy of shielding for those deemed most vulnerable to Covid could be paused by the end of this month if infection rates stay low.

From Friday, shielding people will be allowed to stay at hotels, visit outdoor markets and gardens and spend time with their partner if they are in a non-cohabiting couple.

Has Brexit left our disunited kingdom beyond repair?

Upcoming legislation on post-Brexit powers will see the union come under further strain.

Post-Brexit powers have started fresh arguments over the future of the union.

Pandemics are no respecter of borders or discrete political positions.

In the UK, responsibility for combating coronavirus has fallen on a Conservative prime minister, an SNP first minister, a Labour FM in Wales and in Northern Ireland by representatives of a polarised historical enmity, that frequent hate fest where Ulster unionism clashes with Irish republicanism.

If this had all taken place less than 25 years ago, a centralised Westminster strategy would have been fronted by the prime minister with the secretaries of state for Scotland and Wales acting as quasi-plenipotentiaries with the bare minimum of scrutiny afforded by monthly questions in the Commons.

In Northern Ireland, despite a ceasefire in paramilitarism, the politics was still defined by mutual recrimination, all of which meant that direct rule essentially meant a made-in-Westminster solution for the people of Northern Ireland. Scrutiny, let alone a tailor-made response, would have been an afterthought.


The constitutional changes made by the Blair government and the decision on power-sharing in Ulster were genuinely radical at the time. Radical that is for a state that was centralised and seemingly impervious to ‘let go’.

Much of the bespoke strategies on lifting lockdown have never been analysed from the perspective of the 21-year-old newish normal in governance.

Devolution has allowed for that tailored response. The extent to which different parts of the UK moving at different speeds has raised the odd voice in angst only goes to show that some people simply haven’t adjusted to the realities of devolved government.

And yet the very institutions that facilitate that refined response are headed for the mother of all clashes with the mother of parliaments.


The issue is the post-Brexit split in powers between Westminster and the devolved nations when what was exercised by Brussels now has to be decided in the UK.

The new battleground will heighten tensions and do little to project a sense of harmony in this disunited kingdom.

Since the Scottish Parliament assumed legislative competence on July 1, 1999 much has changed. The Calman Commission, recognising Donald Dewar’s view that change was “a process not an event”, redefined Holyrood’s powers.

The Smith Commission led to more powers, too, even if it was not an organic response to constitutional naval-gazing.

Rather it enacted the panic strategy of the Better Together parties during the 2014 referendum when ‘more powers’ were offered to shore up a campaign that came relatively close to losing.

Since then Brexit has proved there is no bridge to straddle the realities of the UK as a whole voting to leave the EU with the fact that Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to remain.

Brexit may well have been in part a roar of English nationalism. But its consequence has been to embolden the Scottish variety and force people in Northern Ireland into considering the wider dimension of shared economic interests on the island of Ireland.


The UK is no longer the tight-knit unitary state which periodically has to deal with a little local difficulty in the form of containable demands for changes in how folk are governed.

In a real sense it is now a series of nations defined by different demands for further change.

The SNP will demand another independence poll.

A border poll on Irish re-unification is no longer the stuff of belly laughs. The uber unionists of the DUP are now left to explain how the ‘principle of consent’ is fine for defining Britishness but can be ignored when embracing Europeanism.

The forthcoming stushie over who gets what in the post-Brexit power spoils is not the stuff of pub chat or the kind of easy to understand concept that can be encapsulated in a slogan poking at a raw nerve.

It will, however, play to a narrative that all is not well in Britannia. What it does not do is make anything inevitable.

Politics post the 2014 referendum in Scotland has cemented the SNP’s stranglehold on power and it has seen fluidity in some voters in terms of moving from no to yes. But in the absence of another poll it is all rather academic.

The pandemic parked that awkward question for Nicola Sturgeon about her plan B on indyref2 when Boris Johnson says no, as indeed he will continue to say no. It hasn’t gone away.

The ‘power grab’ debate will bring it into sharper focus but it won’t resolve anything, at least not immediately.

Two decades of devolution have changed the UK beyond all recognition in terms of how decisions are made. Who knows what the next two years hold, never mind the next two decades?

Motorcyclist admits causing pillion passenger’s death

Bret Simpson will still face trial accused of dangerous driving before Bronte Hutchison's death.

Bronte Hutchison: Died in crash.

A biker has admitted causing the death of his 23-year-old pillion passenger.

However, 28-year-old Bret Simpson’s guilty plea to careless driving before the fatal crash was rejected, and he will instead go on trial accused of dangerous driving.

Bronte Hutchison died on August 5, 2018, following a crash on the A6091 Galashiels to Melrose bypass.

It is alleged that Simpson rode his motorbike at excessive speed, allowed Bronte to ride pillion while she was under the influence of alcohol and drugs, failed to slow down approaching the Tweedbank roundabout, then braked sharply and lost control of his bike.


Bronte was thrown from the bike, struck her head on the kerb and died at the scene.

Defence counsel Edith Forrest said: “He pleads guilty to causing death by careless driving.”

Prosecutor Shirley McKenna refused to accept the reduced plea and said the Crown was ready for trial.

Judge Lord Mulholland said: “I will continue this for another preliminary hearing on September 24.”


The High Court in Glasgow heard that the trial is expected to last five days.

Man denies stabbing teenager to death with scissors

Connor McMath, 20, is accused of killing schoolboy Sean Ford in Wishaw.

High Court: Accused denies murder charge.

A man has denied murdering a 15-year-old by stabbing him in the neck with a pair of scissors.

Connor McMath, 20, is accused of killing schoolboy Sean Ford at Charles Street, Wishaw, on March 7.

At the High Court in Glasgow, McMath’s QC Donald Findlay entered a plea of not guilty on behalf of his client, who appeared via video link.

Mr Finlay asked for bail for McMath, who is on remand awaiting trial as no date can be set due to lockdown measures, but the request was refused.


McMath also faces a further charge along with Derek Paton, 18, from Wishaw.

They are charged with assaulting a 15-year-old boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, to the danger of his life at a house in Charles Street, Wishaw, on March 7.

It is alleged they repeatedly struck him on the head with a knuckleduster and kicked and punched him on the head and body, rendering him unconscious.

Paton, who is on bail, was not in court for the hearing.


Both accused deny the charges against them.

A further hearing will take place in September.

Finnieston Crane visitor plans include trip to the top

Visitor centre, museum and restaurant lined up as part of £7m Clydeside plans.

The Finnieston Crane has towered over the River Clyde for nearly 100 years.

People could be taken to the top of the famous Finnieston Crane in Glasgow under plans for a new visitor centre.

A museum and restaurant are also being lined up for the 152ft landmark on the banks of the River Clyde.

The £7m plans have been revealed by community interest group Big Cran’ Co, which hopes to create 50 jobs.

A 122-seat restaurant – provisionally named Glasgow Fare – would open in the shadow of the crane’s jib.


Profits made from diners would then fund a visitor centre and museum.

A way of taking people to the top of the crane is still being explored.

Big Cran’ Co chairman Allan Wilson, a former Scottish Government minister, said: “We believe this plan would have enormous benefit to the local community and would preserve a unique and iconic part of Scotland’s heritage.

“The crane played an important part in Glasgow’s industrial past and we want to make sure it remains relevant. It would be great for future generations to understand its story.


“The project can also provide hope as we emerge from lockdown and give a significant economic boost to the area.”

The crane, in use from 1932, was one of last giant cantilevers built on the Clyde and was used to load heavy cargo such as locomotives on to ships for worldwide export.

The Big Cran’ Co has leased the structure, also known as the Stobhill Crane, from owners Peel Ports.

Russia tried to interfere in general election, claims Raab

Foreign secretary Dominic Raab said 'Russian actors' almost certainly tried to amplify sensitive leaked documents.

Raab: Told the Commons documents were illegally obtained.

Russian actors almost certainly tried to interfere in last year’s general election, foreign secretary Dominic Raab has said.

Leaked government documents highlighted by Jeremy Corbyn during a 2019 televised election debate were “amplified” online by agents for the Russian state, he claimed.

The papers, which related to the UK-US free trade agreement, were used by the then-Labour leader to back his claims that the Conservatives were preparing to “sell-off” the NHS.

Raab told MPs the documents were obtained illicitly and shared on Reddit during the build-up to the election.


A criminal investigation into how the documents were acquired is now taking place.

In a written statement, the foreign secretary said: “On the basis of extensive analysis, the government has concluded that it is almost certain that Russian actors sought to interfere in the 2019 general election through the online amplification of illicitly acquired and leaked government documents.

“Sensitive government documents relating to the UK-US Free Trade Agreement were illicitly acquired before the 2019 general election and disseminated online via the social media platform Reddit.

“When these gained no traction, further attempts were made to promote the illicitly acquired material online in the run up to the general election.”


Raab added there was no evidence of a “broad spectrum Russian campaign” against the general election or that the Russian state was involved.

His statement follows the formation of the new parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC).

At it first meeting, the ISC agreed that it would shortly publish a long-awaited report into Russian interference in UK politics drawn up before the last election.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman dismissed suggestions that the timing of Raab’s statement was intended to pre-empt that report as “nonsense”.

Royal Bank of Scotland plans name change

Branches will still be called RBS, but the bank's official name will be Natwest Group.

RBS: Changing name to NatWest Group.

Royal Bank of Scotland is officially changing its name to Natwest Group from next week.

Branches will continue to trade as RBS and the name will still be heavily associated with the business.

But the lending giant wants to move away from the brand tarnished by a £45bn government bailout in 2008.

New boss Alison Rose unveiled the planned name change in February and it will come into effect from Wednesday, July 22.


Chairman Howard Davies said earlier this year: “As the bank has evolved from the financial crisis and the bailout, we have focused on the NatWest brand.

“We have exited a lot of the international business which were not profitable. That was branded RBS and that’s gone.

“It really makes no sense for us to continue to be called RBS. It was designed for a global group of brands, which we no longer are.”

RBS – still majority-owned by the taxpayer more than a decade since the financial crisis – became one of the biggest banks in the world through aggressive acquisition.


But this unravelled in the financial crisis when it was forced to turn to the government for bailout cash to avoid collapse.

It has since shed much of its international operations and once mighty investment banking arm.

Nuclear submarine almost struck ferry carrying 200 people

The two vessels came within 50-100 metres of each other in November 2018.

Stena Line (MAIB)
'Serious risk': Submarine could be seen from ferry.

A nuclear-powered submarine almost collided with a ferry taking more than 200 passengers to Scotland.

The two vessels came within 50-100 metres of each other in the incident on November 6, 2018, a Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) report said.

Crew on the Stena Superfast VII ferry, which was travelling from Belfast to Cairnryan in Wigtownshire, “took immediate action to avoid collision” after spotting the submarine’s periscope nearby.

Ferry passengers and the crew on both vessels were placed “in immediate danger” the report found.


The nuclear-powered submarine, based at Faslane, was patrolling an area south of the ferry route when it came close to the Stena vessel, which had 215 passengers and 67 crew on board.

The report said: “This incident happened because the submarine’s control room team overestimated the ferry’s range and underestimated its speed.

“This combination meant that the submarine’s commanding officer and its officer of the watch made safety-critical decisions that might have appeared rational to them at the time but were actually based on inaccurate information.”

The report found that when the submarine’s control room team initially detected Stena Superfast VII visually, they estimated it to be at a range of 9,000-10,000 yards.


At a speed of 21 knots, Stena Superfast VII would cover 6000 yards in eight minutes and 34 seconds, which was an estimate of the time available for the submarine’s officer of the watch (OOW) to take avoiding action.

However, the report found the OOW had estimated the ferry’s speed as 15 knots, so would have “incorrectly calculated” it would take the ferry 12 minutes to travel 6000 yards and “almost certainly assessed that there was significantly more time to take avoiding action than was actually the case”.

Following the incident, the master of the ferry notified the coastguard, saying the submarine’s periscope had passed down the starboard side of the vessel at a range of 50-100 metres.

The report said: “During safety training in the North Channel, the command team of a submerged submarine did not take sufficient action to prevent the ferry, Stena Superfast VII, passing inside its go-deep range.

“This was an unsafe event and placed the ferry’s passengers and crew, as well as the submarine and its crew, in immediate danger.”

It said the ferry’s OOW showed “great presence of mind and strong conviction” in altering course to port to avoid a collision, and warned that “without this alteration, there was a serious risk of collision”.

Andrew Moll, chief inspector at the MAIB, said: “I have today recommended that the Royal Navy undertakes an independent review of the actions that have been taken in order to ensure that the risk of similar collisions has been reduced to as low as possible.”


A Royal Navy spokesman said: “Ensuring safety at sea is a top priority for the Royal Navy, which is why we welcome this report and have already taken action to tighten our training and procedures.”

The Royal Navy said there were no nuclear safety issues during the incident.

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