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Johnson declares Tories have ‘ended the gridlock’ with win

In a victory speech in London, the Prime Minister said his party had 'smashed the roadblock'.

Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson declared that his party has “smashed the roadblock” and “ended the gridlock” as he hailed the biggest Conservative majority since the 1980s.

The Prime Minister vowed to unite the country, spread opportunity and “get Brexit done” after his snap General Election gamble paid off and he romped home with an estimated majority of 78.

In a victory speech in central London, Mr Johnson said: “We did it – we pulled it off, didn’t we? We broke the gridlock, we ended the deadlock, we smashed the roadblock.”

He added: “In winning this election, we have won votes and the trust of people who have never voted Conservative before and people have always voted for other parties. Those people want change. We cannot, must not, must not, let them down.”

The Tory landslide prompted Jeremy Corbyn to announce that he will not lead Labour into another election after his party suffered humiliation across the country.

Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson lost her seat to the SNP and quit as party leader. Sir Ed Davey and Baroness Sal Brinton will become joint acting leaders ahead of a leadership contest next year.

But the success of the Scottish nationalists and of nationalist parties in Northern Ireland could provide Mr Johnson with another challenge on top of Brexit as it suggests that opposition to leaving the EU is hardening there.

But Tory supporters are unlikely to be worrying about that on Friday after witnessing their party take seat after seat in Labour’s heartlands, including some they had never held before.

With most of the 650 seats declared, the Tories are predicted to hold a majority of 78.

And Mr Johnson was on course to finish with more than 43% of the popular vote, the highest for a Tory leader since Margaret Thatcher’s victory in 1979 and around the same as Tony Blair’s in 1997.

The PM is expected to see the Queen at Buckingham Palace later on Friday and be invited to form a Government.

US President Donald Trump tweeted his congratulations, adding that the UK and US will “now be free to strike a massive new trade deal after Brexit”.

And European Council president Charles Michel congratulated Mr Johnson, adding: “We expect a vote on the Withdrawal Agreement as soon as possible.

“(The) EU is ready for the next phase. We will negotiate a future trade deal which ensures a true level playing field.”

Mr Corbyn, who had sought to exploit Mr Trump’s support for the PM during the election campaign, admitted it had been a “very disappointing” night.

He announced that he would call it a day as leader as he was re-elected in his London seat.

Mr Corbyn said he would discuss with the party how to ensure there was a “process of reflection”, adding: “I will lead the party during this period to ensure this discussion takes place.”

Mum wrongly accused of trying to murder daughter to sue NHS

Kirsteen Cooper was arrested after hospital staff accused her of stealing blood from seven-year-old Baillie.

By Susan Ripoll & Jenness Mitchell

A mother is set to sue a crisis-hit health board after hospital staff wrongly accused her of trying to murder her daughter.

Kirsteen Cooper was arrested and kept in a cell overnight after workers at the Royal Hospital for Children (RCH) in Glasgow said she had stolen blood from then four-year-old Baillie to make her anaemic.

As a result of the allegation, the mum-of three was removed from the hospital by police and faced more than two years of limited access to her own daughter.

The criminal case against Ms Cooper was eventually dropped after a consultant haematologist from another hospital stated that Baillie’s anaemia was caused by her complex illness, which was later backed by another consultant.

‘To be accused of doing something to harm your child when all you’ve done is look after them is absolutely destroying.’

Kirsteen Cooper

Ms Cooper, from Cambuslang in Lanarkshire, told STV News: “It’s the worst thing I have ever experienced in my whole life.

“I would never wish it on my worst enemy. To see your child and your whole family be so devastated is a thing you will never, ever get over.

“To know that your child’s lying, crying herself to sleep at night because she can’t be with you – and obviously we’re doing the same at home because we can’t be with her and you can’t protect her – that hurt will never heal, it will never go away.

“The shock and the trauma that everybody faced was just unbearable.

“To be accused of doing something to harm your child when all you’ve done is look after them is absolutely destroying.

“Because you live for your children – your children are your life completely.”

Fighter: Baillie has been in and out of hospital throughout her life.

Seven-year-old Baillie was born premature and has received hospital treatment throughout her life. She has cerebral palsy, uses a wheelchair and has to be fed through tubes.

The youngster – who is now medically treated in Edinburgh – was only four when she was admitted to the RCH in December 2016.

In February 2017, her feeding tube leaked but was quickly fixed. However, Ms Cooper was accused of tampering with the equipment and was arrested and charged later that year with attempted murder.

Due to the allegation, Baillie was released from hospital into the care of other family members until Ms Cooper’s vindication at Glasgow Sheriff Court at the end of last year.

This week, lawyers acting on behalf of Ms Cooper will serve a writ on NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC).

The health board is currently the focus of a public inquiry following safety concerns and deaths from infections at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital (QEUH), where the RCH is based.

Ms Cooper added: “As a family it’s probably made us look at life in a completely different way in how easily your life can be upset.

“I think it’s important to speak out – as hard as it is to be public, and bring everything out that’s happened in your life in the last three years is very difficult – but it’s the only way that people become aware of what’s happening and how people can ruin your life for absolutely nothing.

“I think it’s very important that families know that there is support out there and there’s help for other people that have suffered the same problems and the same injustice.”

Ms Cooper has also lodged a complaint with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), accusing NHSGGC’s chief nurse and head of its child protection service of crafting an inaccurate haematology report which led to her arrest.

A spokesperson for the NHSGGC said: “We are unaware of any legal proceedings. The board does not comment on individual legal cases.”

Hamilton boss Brian Rice admits gambling on football

Rice says 'disease has returned' as club receive Scottish FA notice of complaint.

Hamilton manager Brian Rice has been charged by the Scottish FA after admitting gambling on football.

The club confirmed it had received a notice of complaint after Rice “self-reported” himself to the game’s governing body.

It accuses the 56-year-old of betting on football over the past five seasons, including the current term. A hearing will take place on January 30.

Rice, who has previously admitted being a gambling addict, said his “disease has returned”.

He said: “Firstly, I would like to express my regret to the players, coaching staff and my friends and colleagues at Hamilton Academical for the lapse that has prompted me to voluntarily acknowledge breaches of the Scottish Football Association’s gambling rules.

“This decision was one of the hardest I have had to take but in a way also the easiest.

“I have made no secret of the fact that I have struggled with the disease that is gambling addiction in the past.

“The reality is I am an addict and while I have been proud of the fact I have been in recovery from this disease, a key part of the recovery programme is honesty: honesty to myself, and honesty to those who have and who continue to support me, including my family and my football family at Hamilton.”

It’s an offence under Scottish FA rules for any registered player, manager of official to gamble on football.

A number of figures in the game have previously been punished for breaching the rules.

Hamilton said they were standing by their head coach and would urge the Scottish FA to consider a “gambling amnesty”.

Club director Colin McGowan said: “As a club, we are proud of the work undertaken to support the local community.

“Today, we support our head coach and we feel certain that the community will get fully behind him.

“We also believe Brian’s public admission today can be hugely significant in helping the lives of other coaches and players who can relate to his addiction and other addictions.

“It is my intention to write to my colleagues at the SPFL to table a proposal to the Scottish FA’s Professional Game Board for the introduction of a gambling amnesty in our game: one that will enable people to confront their addiction in a safe and non-judgemental environment, with help and support readily available.

“Brian’s courage today can be a seminal moment for Scottish football.”

Nine face trial for attempted murder after Old Firm game

The accused are said to have acted together in trying to kill Francis McCann in Glasgow's Merchant City.

Merchant City: Nine accused of attempted murder.

Nine people are to stand trial accused of the attempted murder of a man during a brawl after an Old Firm match.

The accusations also include the serious assault of two others during the disturbance in Glasgow’s Merchant City.

Kyle Beard, 25, Andrew Quinn, 26, James Quinn, 21, William Barclay, 28, Kahl Cullen, 23, Gemma Martin, 25, Jack Docherty, 28, Jamie Kinnaird, 26, and James Gemmell, 23, denied the charges at the High Court in Glasgow on Monday.

The incidents are said to have occurred between Albion Street and Blackfriars Street in Glasgow city centre last March 31.

The nine are said to have acted together in trying to kill Francis McCann.

The accusation includes claims Mr McCann was punched, stamped upon and stabbed in the neck with a knife.

It is also alleged he had cider poured over him and a bottle thrown at him.

All nine are separately charged with assaulting Scott Meehan and Lee Wylie to their severe injury, permanent disfigurement and to the danger of their lives.

Mr Meehan is said to have been punched, knocked to the ground and struck with a knife.

Mr Wylie meantime was allegedly punched, kicked and stabbed with a blade.

Mr Beard faces a charge of assaulting George Cullen to his severe injury and permanent disfigurement during a futher alleged knife attack.

The nine, all of Glasgow, are finally accused of behaving in a threatening and abusive manner by shouting and swearing at others.

Lawyers for the group along with prosecutor Murdoch MacTaggart said a trial could be set.

Lord Armstrong fixed a trial due to begin in July. The trial could last around 12 days.

Why do only two Scottish Tory MSPs want the top job?

In 2011, there was a four-way contest to become Scottish Conservative leader, won by Ruth Davidson.

Tories: Jackson Carlaw and Michelle Ballantyne standing for leader. STV

The post-election leadership clearout is well under way.

The highest-profile contest is for the UK Labour leadership, and the party’s sole MP in Scotland Ian Murray is chasing the deputy leadership.

The Lib Dems are looking for a new “candidate for Prime Minister” after Jo Swinson lost her East Dunbartonshire seat. Almost half of their parliamentary party is at least refusing to rule themselves out of running.

In Scotland, Labour needs a new deputy leader after Lesley Laird lost out to an independent candidate who had been suspended from the SNP.

And the Scottish Conservatives have to replace Ruth Davidson – although to some of them she is irreplaceable.

She quit in August, maybe because she didn’t like Boris Johnson’s leadership and Brexit, maybe because she liked spending time with her baby boy, maybe because she had just had enough. Whatever her reasons, she left her party in a much better state than she found it.

In 2011, she became one of 15 Conservative MSPs, and within a few months leader of a party in a very distant third place. She left the leadership last year with the Scottish Conservatives firmly in second place ahead of Labour, although still a long way behind the SNP.

So, given the improvements in the party’s fortunes you would think there would be a clamour for her job, but when nominations closed on Friday only two MSPs were in for it. Jackson Carlaw and Michelle Ballantyne. 

Neither are really household names, although Jackson Carlaw has been around a long time and should at least be known to most Scottish Conservative members. Michelle Ballantyne is the party’s newest MSP, only getting in on the list after a bit of juggling following the 2017 general election which left a gap on the South of Scotland list for the then-leader of the Conservative group on Scottish Borders Council.

Both are offering policy reviews, both want to cut taxes and both want to reconsider university tuition, which is currently paid for Scottish students by the Scottish Government.

Jackson Carlaw has been Ruth Davidson’s stand-in, taking on Nicola Sturgeon for the last 18 months. He says he wants to spend the next 18 months “taking her down”. Michelle Ballantyne thinks that kind of attack failed at the general election and will not win over new Tory voters.

I’m not going to delve into great detail about either candidate. If you want to, you can look at their leadership campaign websites – and

The question for me is why are there only two candidates from the Conservatives’ 31 MSPs? Last time round there were four candidates out of 15 MSPs and surely, it’s a much more attractive job now than it was then, after Ruth Davidson has done so much of the heavy lifting.

Maybe the answer is that there’s just over a year until the next Scottish Parliament election and things look tough. The Tories lost seats in Scotland to the SNP at last month’s general election. They found Brexit and Boris Johnson hard to sell to voters on the doorsteps.

There is no reason right now to think that will get any easier over the course of the next 16 months. The next Holyrood campaign looks almost certain to focus on demands for indyref2, polarising the debate somewhat between the SNP backing it and the Conservatives blocking it.

Maybe younger Conservative MSPs such as Liam Kerr and Miles Briggs, who were tipped as potential leadership candidates, didn’t fancy it this time round and will save themselves for next time. Maybe others like Murdo Fraser, who lost out to Ruth Davidson last time, think now is not the time (to borrow a favourite phrase of Theresa May, remember her?).

Whatever their reasons for not standing themselves, most are backing Jackson Carlaw as the continuity candidate, rather than Michelle Ballantyne as the surprise candidate (at her launch today, even she sometimes seemed a bit surprised to be a candidate).

We’ll get the result of the ballot of around 11,000 Scottish Conservative members on Valentine’s Day – but, for my money, I don’t think it will be Ballantyne’s day.

Analysis: Why court culture may clash with child protection law

Evidence from under 18s will now always be pre-recorded in specialist centres.

The formal surroundings of a High Court can be daunting for young witnesses.

Justice secretary Humza Yousaf today hailed the introduction of new measures to protect child witnesses in court as a “significant milestone” to prevent re-traumatisation.

Under 18s no longer face the daunting prospect of having to testify in the imposing formal surroundings of the High Court. Instead, their evidence will be pre-recorded in specialist centres.

The foundation of today’s law was laid by Mr Yousaf’s predecessor Michael Matheson who, after introducing similar legislation six years ago, was clear that more needed to be done.

Both justice secretaries have moved cautiously – balancing the desire to protect vulnerable witnesses with an accused person’s right to properly test their evidence. That balance seems to have been achieved. Even the most hard-bitten of defence lawyers no longer seem to suggest that pre-recorded evidence is unfair.

Should Mr Yousaf regard it as job done? Can any unfortunate child exposed to serious criminality now expect to be treated with sensitivity and respect by the justice system? My knowledge and experience of the system would suggest not.

Last year, STV News reported on the case of a young girl who was aged between eight and ten when she was sexually assault by a teenage family friend.

It made the news because the sheriff decided to give the teen an ‘absolute discharge’ – meaning he walked free from Dumbarton Sheriff Court without a criminal conviction. But the case could also serve as a textbook example of bad practise.

The girl initially gave a video recorded interview to the police. Police interviews can sometimes be accepted as testimony by courts. But in this case – somehow – the recording failed.

The option for the girl to then pre-record her evidence ahead of the trial was never even made to her parents. This meant she was cited to attend court and provide live testimony via CCTV from another room. Over almost two hours she was questioned by a prosecutor then cross-examined by the defence, recounting every detail of her ordeal all over again.

I also have some personal experience of the reality of how children are treated – in this case my own daughter who witnessed a craven attack on myself by an acid and knife-wielding hitman at our home.

With the trial pending, my dealings with the Crown Office were protracted and emotionally draining. At first I was told my daughter would only need to be interviewed by the police. Then – contrary to this initial claim – a psychologist phoned to say he was to assess her ability to give evidence.

I was dumbfounded but felt compelled to agree. The psychologist duly recommended that my daughter should give pre-recorded evidence. This, the Crown explained, would be on a school day and 50 miles from home in Edinburgh. I refused – knowing that it could happen in Glasgow. The Crown relented and arranged a CCTV link between both venues.

They then shifted the agreed date to a new one – marking almost exactly the first anniversary of my attack. I refused. After all that, the defence eventually conceded my daughter’s police interview was sufficient.

It was apparent that any consideration for my daughter’s wellbeing, and minimising further disruption to her, was of much less importance than the convenience of the lawyers and judges.

While Mr Yousaf’s new law should be commended, he should realise that legislation can’t fix ingrained cultures and attitudes where children do not come first.

Six-hour rescue mission to save cat stuck in van’s engine

Thomas was pulled to safety thanks to three mechanics and a fire crew.

Thomas poses with one of his rescuers following the marathon mission.

A cat was saved from an engine after a six-hour rescue mission.

Three mechanics and firefighters were needed to free the lost pet after he became trapped in a van on January 14.

Thomas was unhurt following the rescue in Cumbernauld and the Scottish SPCA is now searching for his owners.

Although he was chipped and registered to an address in the North Lanarkshire town, the details were out of date.

Scottish SPCA rescue officer Sarah Parker said: “We’re grateful to everyone who assisted with this rescue as it was a real team effort

“The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and mechanics who assisted were essential in getting the cat free.

“The manager at the local Asda even kept us going with hot tea and coffee, which was much appreciated given the weather.

“The cat is unharmed and very friendly. His name is Thomas and is registered to an address in Abronhill, Cumbernauld, however his chip details are out of date.

“Thomas is now recovering from his adventure at our Glasgow Animal Rescue and Rehoming Centre. We’d love to reunite him with his owner.”

Anyone who recognises Thomas can call the Scottish SPCA animal helpline on 03000 999 999.

School’s outdoor classroom burnt to the ground in blaze

Primary pupils have been left devastated at the destruction of the popular facility.

Burnt to the ground: Outdoor classroom was destroyed in blaze. @wright_stacey1

A headteacher has vowed to rebuild an outdoor classroom after it was destroyed by a fire at the weekend.

Jane Lobjoie said pupils at Wallacewell Primary School in Robroyston had been left upset as they returned to the burnt-out structure on Monday.

She said local businesses had already offered help to replace the classroom and a crowdfunding page has been set up by parents.

Around 20 teenagers were seen in the grounds of school on Saturday evening.

A short time later the fire started within the outdoor classroom.

Ms Lobjoie said: “We only had the classroom working since August.

“The children absolutely loved it. They are really upset at what has happened.

“They had enjoyed learning in it and having their snacks there.

“It has been a great addition to the space at the school.”

‘I hope we can find a way to rebuild this for the sake of the pupils.’

Cllr Christina Cannon

Ms Lobjoie said CCTV had caught a large number of youngsters in the playground shortly before the fire started at around 8pm.

She added: “We are hoping the police will be able to help us identify the individuals.

“Those responsible must have been smelling of smoke when they returned home.

Cllr Christina Cannon said on social media: “Some coverage of the awful incident at Wallacewell Primary School over the weekend.

“I would ask people to get in touch with police if they think they know anything about what happened.”

“I hope we can find a way to rebuild this for the sake of the pupils.”

A spokesperson for the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service said: “We were alerted at 8.57pm on Saturday, January 18 to reports of a fire within the grounds of a primary school on Standburn Road, Robroyston, Glasgow.

“Operations Control mobilised two fire appliances and firefighters extinguished a fire which had taken hold within an outdoor classroom.

“Crews left the scene after ensuring the area was made safe.”

Dozen homes needed for unaccompanied young asylum seekers

Campaign launched to recruit families to provide support and shelter to arrivals in Edinburgh.

The council in Edinburgh has launched a campaign to find homes.

A dozen families are wanted to care for unaccompanied young asylum seekers arriving in Edinburgh.

Couples or individuals are being invited to offer a home and support to young people aged over 16, many of whom have experienced the trauma of war, poverty or trafficking.

Last year, 25 people arrived in the capital after coming to the UK from countries across the Middle East and North Africa as well as Vietnam.

The figure is up from just nine young people arriving the year before.

Edinburgh city council has now launched a campaign to recruit more families to meet the demand.

The local authority says it has a duty of care to look after any child when their parent or carer cannot be identified.

Many speak little or no English when they arrive.

Councillor Ian Perry, convener for education, children and families at Edinburgh Council, said: “This is a really rewarding role as the young people who arrive here face uncertainty about their future life in the United Kingdom.

“We need families who can provide a safe, nurturing environment to support them into independence and I would urge anyone who may be considering being a host family to contact us for more information.”

The council is looking to recruit 12 host families who can provide loving homes for the young people.

Prospective families need to have a spare room and live in Edinburgh or within travelling distance of the city.

Experience or skills in caring for young people is helpful, however training, support and a financial allowance are all provided.

Hosts can be married, single or in a partnership, employed or unemployed and enquiries are welcome from all cultures and backgrounds.

First-hand accounts of families who have been looking after young people have been included as part of the campaign.

John’s family have looked after a 17-year-old Vietnamese boy since 2018.

John (not his real name) said: “Being a host family is a fascinating and rewarding experience in which both sides, carers and young people, can learn from each other, open minds and build relationships despite cultural and language differences and life’s inevitable challenges.”

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Beales department store collapses into administration

The 139-year-old department store has gone into administration after a disappointing Christmas period.

Beales: Department store goes into administration.

One of Britain’s oldest department stores Beales has gone into administration after a disappointing Christmas period.

Administrators KPMG Restructuring, who were appointed on Monday, say there is no need for any immediate closures as the company’s 23 stores, including their sole Scottish premises, continue to trade.

Beales on St John’s Street in Perth opened in 2016 after McEwans, who had been operating from the site since 1868, went into administration.

The company, who sell a range of furniture, fashion, toys and cosmetics, employ over 1000 workers in the UK.

All staff members have been retained to assist in trading the stores.

A statement from Beales’ administrators KPMG said: “Will Wright and Steve Absolom have today been appointed joint administrators to Beale Limited and J E Beale Plc (“Beales”).

“Advisers from KPMG were initially engaged by the business in December 2019 to explore possible sale and refinancing opportunities but despite interest from a number of parties, this process did not secure any solvent solutions for the Company.

“As a result, the directors took the difficult decision to place the companies into administration.

“The joint administrators will continue to trade all 23 stores as a going concern while they assess options for the business.”

Will Wright, partner at KPMG and joint administrator, said: “With the impact of high rents and rates exacerbated by disappointing trading over the Christmas period, and extensive discussions around additional investment proving unsuccessful, there were no other available options but to place the company into administration.

“Over the coming weeks, we will endeavour to continue to operate all stores as a going concern while we assess options for the business, including dealing with prospective interested parties.

“During this period gift vouchers, customer deposits and customer returns/refunds will continue to be honoured.”

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