Derek Mackay: Reaction to finance secretary’s departure

Mackay has quit after allegedly sending hundreds of messages to a 16-year-old boy.

Senior political figures have reacted to finance secretary Derek Mackay’s resignation over hundreds of messages sent to a 16-year-old boy.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said in a statement the MSP recognised “his behaviour has failed to meet the standards required” as she accepted his resignation.

It was also confirmed by Sturgeon at Holyrood Mackay has been suspended from the SNP and the party’s parliamentary group “pending further investigation”.

The decision comes after the Scottish Sun newspaper published a full transcript of a conversation he allegedly had with a 16-year-old boy.

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In the social media messages, Mackay apparently described the teenager as “cute” and continued to talk to him after being told the boy’s age.

Quit: Former finance minister Derek Mackay has stepped down.

The budget will go ahead as planned on Thursday, with public finance minister Kate Forbes stepping in.

Scottish Conservatives leader Jackson Carlaw believes Mackay should also resign as an MSP.

He described the alleged behaviour as “very detailed” and “totally inappropriate”.

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Carlaw added: “… by any standard judgement of what constitutes the grooming of a young individual, these would pass that test.”

He then said: “I think that it’s a huge lapse of judgement.”

Mackay’s SNP colleague and justice secretary Humza Yousaf believes he made the right decision by resigning from his ministerial position.

Right call: Humza Yousaf believes Derek Mackay was correct to resign as finance secretary.

He said: “Derek’s done the right thing, having to resign.”

Asked by STV if he thought Mackay had groomed the teenager, Yousaf said: “It’s not for me to take part in police investigations.

“That’s the job of the police to investigate that but Derek has done the right thing.”

Asked if there should be a police investigation, Yousaf added: “That’ll be for the independence of the chief constable to decide.”

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Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said: “Derek Mackay has acted beyond ‘foolishly’, his actions are predatory and must be thoroughly investigated. He has abused his position of power with a vulnerable adolescent.

“The thoughts of everyone at Scottish Labour are with the schoolboy involved and his family.

“The nature and the gravity of these allegations demands decisive action.”

Demanding investigation: Richard Leonard

Scottish Conservatives finance spokesman, Murdo Fraser, described the situation as a huge blow for Sturgeon.

He said: “Derek Mackay acted foolishly and is right to resign from the government.

“Politics aside, I have always enjoyed working with him, and he is popular in his own party and across the parliament. I wish him and his family well in what will be a difficult time.

“This is, however, a huge blow for Nicola Sturgeon to lose such a key member of her governement at such a crucial time – and one tipped as her successor. Big day ahead for Kate Forbes.”

Scottish Greens co-leader, Patrick Harvie, said the alleged behaviour was “utterly unacceptable”.

He said: “Derek Mackay’s behaviour was utterly unacceptable, and his resignation was clearly necessary.

“But we are now just hours from publication of the Scottish budget, in what were already unprecedented circumstances. It’s vital now that all parties put the public interest first.”

He added: “Kate Forbes now has one brief opportunity to build political agreement over this month and amend the budget if necessary. “

Joanne Cherry, an SNP MP for Edinburgh South West, said: “Grooming behaviour is totally unacceptable and must be condemned without fear or favour.

“The First Minister was right to accept Derek Mackay’s resignation and suspend him. The party’s disciplinary procedures must now take their course.”

“By resigning Derek Mackay has acknowledged that his behaviour was inappropriate.”

Mary Glasgow, chief executive of Children 1st

Jess Phillips, a Labour MP, said: “Young people will trust adults, add on top of that respectable positions of power and the trust deepens.

“If, as an elected official you don’t recognise that power dynamic or worse if you recognise it and exploit it you are not fit for office.”

Mary Glasgow, chief executive of the children’s charity Children 1st, added: “By resigning Derek Mackay has acknowledged that his behaviour was inappropriate.

“Children 1st has always been clear that children and young people are vulnerable in situations where there is a significant difference in age, power and status between them and another person.

“Society should recognise by now that it is never acceptable to exploit that vulnerability.”

Hero paddle boarder rescues child blown out to sea

Coastguard said the individual's 'quick actions' prevented a 'tragic ending' in North Ayrshire.

Rescue: Coastguard were called to the scene shortly after 4.30pm on Thursday.

A paddle boarder rescued a child blown out to sea on an inflatable pool toy in North Ayrshire.

Ardrossan Coastguard said the person’s “quick actions” saved the young girl from a “tragic ending”.

Emergency services were called shortly after 4.30pm on Thursday.

The boarder had managed to recover the young girl, but could not return to shore because of wind.

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The lifeboat swiftly retrieved the pair, before making its way to Ardrossan Harbour. Both were checked over by paramedics but no further medical attention was needed.

A short time later, three kayakers were blown off shore north of Ardrossan Harbour. Coastguard and the lifeboat navigated challenging conditions to help them return to land.

None of the individuals required treatment and their kayaks were recovered.

An Ardrossan Coastguard statement said: “Yesterday also highlights once again the dangers of using inflatables at the coast especially in offshore wind conditions.

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“Inflatable toys are designed for the swimming pool – not the sea.

“We would also advise people to avoid setting to sea for any sort of surface water sport including paddle boarding or kayaking when there is an offshore wind.

“You can very quickly drift or be blown a significant distance from shore without realising and ultimately may require to be rescued.”


Scots race home after overnight changes to quarantine list

Prices skyrocket as thousands of tourists try to find a way back to Scotland.

Quarantine: Travellers returning from Frances, the Netherlands and Malta face a 14-day quarantine from Saturday.

Scots face a race against time to return home from France, the Netherlands and Malta after the countries were added to the quarantine list.

Travellers returning from the destinations, who arrive in the United Kingdom after 4am on Saturday, will have to self-isolate for 14 days.

A speedy return comes at a cost – British tourists in France are being charged hundreds of pounds to return home before quarantine restrictions are imposed.

Air fares are more than six times higher than normal for flights from Paris to London on Friday, with the cheapest British Airways tickets being sold for £452. The lowest priced Eurostar tickets available on Friday morning are £210.

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Travellers willing to pay these inflated fares could still miss out due to many services already being fully booked. An estimated 160,000 holidaymakers are expected to try to return to the UK from France on Friday.

The decision by the Scottish Government, also made by the UK Government and devolved administrations in Northern Ireland and Wales, aims to reduce the risk of transmission of coronavirus by those travelling.

The public health measures now also apply to those arriving from Aruba, Turks and Caicos, and Monaco.

Justice secretary Humza Yousaf said: “We have always been clear we are closely monitoring the situation in all countries and that we may need to take action to remove a country from the list of places exempt from quarantine requirements should the virus show a resurgence.

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“These are not decisions which we take lightly but on the basis of the evidence it is important that we take action to suppress transmission of the virus and protect public health.”

Failure to comply with requirement to quarantine can result in a fine of £480.

Department for Transport officials said data from France shows that over the past week there has been a 66% increase in newly reported Covid-19 cases and a 52% increase in the weekly incidence rate per 100,000 population, indicating a sharp rise in infections.

The latest 14-day cumulative figures from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control show 32.1 coronavirus cases per 100,000 people in France, compared with 18.5 in the UK.

The move will come as a bitter blow to the hard-pressed French tourism industry which relies heavily on visitors from the UK.

France’s secretary of state for European affairs said the UK decision would lead to “reciprocal measures” across the Channel.

The decision to add the Netherlands was made after a 52% increase in newly reported cases between August 7 and 13 after a consistent series of rises in previous weeks.

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Over the past week, there has been a 273% increase in newly reported cases in Turks and Caicos, a 1106% increase in Aruba and a 105% rise in Malta.


English club train in Edinburgh even though Hearts can’t

Hull City can continue to train in Scotland despite a ban issued by governing bodies.

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Base: Hearts training headquarters at Oriam in Edinburgh

English League One team Hull City have been cleared to hold training sessions in Scotland despite a ban in place for most Scottish clubs.

Hull are holding a pre-season camp at Oriam in Edinburgh – the training base of Hearts, who were told on Thursday that they must cease their preparations until at least August 24.

Scottish football’s Joint Response Group yesterday enforced a ban on training activity north of the border for all clubs outside of the 12 Premiership sides and Glasgow City, who are preparing for a UEFA Women’s Champions League tie later this month.

This morning, the JRG said because Hull City and Oriam have a private arrangement to use the facilities and the Humberside club do not fall under the jurisdiction of the governing bodies in Scotland, they were clear to continue training in Edinburgh as long as they continue to follow the relevant Coronavirus protocols.

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The Scottish Government has been contacted for comment.

Hearts last night issued a statement claiming they would examine their options after being told to stop their pre-season camp for the next ten days.

In a club statement, they said: “We have done nothing wrong and yet, once again, we are being disproportionately disadvantaged by a decision which has been described as ‘the fairest’. 

“We should not forget that this situation has come about, not because of Covid-19, but because of behavioural issues, not by our employees but by those of other clubs.

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“This delay reflects a lack of confidence that certain clubs will be able to comply and meet the required protocols.

“How can it possibly be ‘fair’ that we should be penalised?”

Three other Scottish Championship clubs were preparing to return to training on Monday, but will now have to postpone their plans by at least a week.


Camper clampdown: Call for ‘dirty tourism’ prosecutions

Community leaders hit out at lack of action to tackle wild campers leaving litter and setting fires.

Wild camping has become a common sight during the post-lockdown tourism surge.

Community leaders in the Highlands are calling for prosecutions to clamp down on “dirty tourism” at beauty spots.

In the village of Durness, the number of wild campers has regularly outstripped the local population.

Fires, litter and bad parking have also been causing problems in the area.

Fines of £200 can be imposed, but STV News has learned none has been dished out during a post-lockdown tourism surge.

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Tackling the problems of littering and dumping of general and human waste is primarily the responsibility of local authorities.

However, police and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency have also been part of a co-ordinated effort to deal with well-documented recent problems affecting countless communities across Scotland.

A spokeswoman for Highland Council said: “No tourist-related fixed penalty notices (FPNs) have been issued during lockdown by (our) environmental health service.”

She added that its officers were investigating claims of camper van illegally disposing of chemical waste and a wild camper leaving litter behind.

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“If sufficient evidence is established, then a FPN will be issued in both cases,” she said.

Community council leaders said they wanted to see tougher enforcement action.

Kinlochbervie Community Council secretary Margaret Meek said: “I’m shocked that Highland Council have issued no fixed penalty notices and are only pursuing two cases.

“Although I’d imagine gathering sufficient evidence to pursue an individual case would be difficult, it seems clear the current measures to address the ‘dirty tourist’ problem are inadequate.”

Durness Community Council chairman Donald Campbell said: “I’m not surprised by Highland Council’s response.

“They haven’t put any staff in place to cover this area in order to enforce any litter or pollution infringements by tourists. If the same happened in Inverness it would be dealt with.

“If we, as locals, break the same law they seem to have the resources to deal with it. We can’t ask people to put themselves in danger by asking people to obey the law.”

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Highland Council is keen to promote the fact that it welcomes lifeline tourism as “a crucial component of our local economy”.

It pointed out that there is no statutory requirement for it to provide public toilets, but that it supports communities taking responsibility for them through asset transfers or with bids to develop new facilities.

In an effort to prevent littering, council officials said there were bigger bins and more collections in key sites including Sutherland.

The council, together with the Highlands and Islands Local Resilience Partnership, has established a working group to tackle so-called “wild camping” issues.

The organisations are developing a leaflet for local communities to use to promote “responsible tourist/camping behaviour”.

Highland has applied for a £358,000 Scottish Government grant for infrastructure to provide enhanced waste services.

The council is also planning to develop a “visitor management plan” with the aim of addressing key tourism related concerns.

Police Scotland said local officers carry out regular patrols in the north-west Highlands to respond to concerns raised about irresponsible camping and parking.

Inspector James Rice said: “We’ll continue to work with our partners to address any antisocial or illegal behaviour and take the appropriate action.”

A spokeswoman for the Scottish Government said: “We’re aware of incidents of littering, antisocial behaviour and damage to our natural environment since lockdown restrictions began to ease, and are clear that this behaviour is completely unacceptable and disrespectful to local communities.

“We’ve taken exceptional measures in every area of government as we deal with the challenges of Covid-19 and that’s particularly clear in our support for local services.”

She said the Scottish Government had committed almost £330m of extra funding to local government, of which Highland Council would receive “a fair share”.


No contact info, no beer: Pubs clamp down on details

Further rules introduced to combat spread of virus in sector, meaning tables should be pre-booked and queuing avoided.

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New rules: Scottish Government tightens guidance for pubs and restaurants.

Pubs and restaurants are now required by law to collect customers’ contact details as new rules come into force.

The requirement is to help Test and Protect teams as the Scottish Government looks to contain coronavirus.

Further rules have been introduced to combat the spread of the virus in the hospitality sector, meaning tables should be pre-booked and customer queuing should be avoided.

There should be no background music and TVs should be muted to reduce the need for people to shout or lean in close to one another.

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No more than three households at a time should meet in a group.

Additionally, staff have been told face shields may be used but only if they are worn in addition to a mask.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon previously said a common factor in the rise in new coronavirus outbreaks across the world – including the Aberdeen cluster – is the hospitality sector.

Settings such as pubs and restaurants are particularly susceptible to the virus.

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She last week: “I now intend to make it mandatory for a range of settings, including hospitality businesses, to collect customer details.”

Placing compliance on a “statutory footing”, Sturgeon added, will ensure Test and Protect can function as effectively as possible.

She said Police Scotland will enforce the measures, which came into effect from Friday, if necessary.


Three victims of train derailment named by police

Christopher Stuchbury died alongside train driver Brett McCullough and conductor Donald Dinnie during the crash.

Deaths: Brett McCullough, Donald Dinnie and Christopher Stuchbury.

Tributes have been paid to the three men who were killed in the train derailment in Aberdeenshire.

Train driver Brett McCullough, conductor Donald Dinnie and passenger Christopher Stuchbury all died in the crash on Wednesday.

They were all aboard a train that came off the rails near Stonehaven amid heavy rain and flooding.

Six others were also injured on board the 6.38am Aberdeen to Glasgow Queen Street service.

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The family of Mr Stuchbury, 62, from Aberdeen, described him as “much adored” and said he was “loved by many”.

Three men were killed during the crash in Aberdeenshire.

A statement read: “Chris was a much adored husband, son, dad, stepdad, grandad, brother and uncle and was a treasured and loved friend to many, including the Targe Towing Team where he was an integral and valued member of staff.

“He also volunteered at Roxburghe House in Aberdeen during his spare time which he thoroughly enjoyed doing.

“We are devastated by his death and we request privacy at this difficult time as we come to terms with our loss.”

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Mr McCullough, 45, who was a former gas engineer before deciding to switch careers after servicing the boiler of a railway worker, leaves behind wife Stephanie and three children, two girls and a boy.

Emergency crews at the scene following the derailment.

His family said: “Words cannot describe the utterly devastating effect of Brett’s death on his family and friends. 

“We have lost a wonderful husband, father, and son in the most awful of circumstances. 

“Brett was the most decent and loving human being we have ever known and his passing leaves a huge void in all our lives.”

Stonehaven train derailed.
Emergency response at the scene near Stonehaven.

Relatives of 58-year-old train conductor Donald Dinnie also paid tribute following their loss.

They said: “As a family we are devastated by the sudden and tragic loss of Donald, a loving and proud dad, son, partner, brother, uncle and friend.

“No words could ever describe how much he will be missed by us all and there will always be a missing piece in our hearts.

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“It is so heart warming to see how many people have fond memories of Donald and I am sure they have plenty of happy and funny stories to tell. He was a kind, caring and genuine person who was never found without a smile on his face. We know he will be deeply missed by all.

“Together we thank each and everyone of you for your kind words and condolences but we kindly ask at this time that we have the chance to grieve privately as a family.”


Barn owl trapped in thick mud saved from ‘sticky end’

Lauren Moir was enjoying a stroll in the Angus Glens with her daughter and partner when she came across the distressed bird.

Rescue: The rare barn owl was saved after getting stuck in sticky mud. Picture by Angus Glens Moorland Group.

A rare barn owl was saved from an untimely ‘sticky end’ after getting stuck in thick mud.

Lauren Moir, daughter Layla and partner Dale Dunbar were enjoying a stroll in the Angus Glens when they came across the distressed bird.

Due to the hot weather, the water course had dried up but left a circle of deep mud that entrapped the owl as it hunted for prey.

Ms Moir launched a rescue mission by piling up stones in the mud to get closer to the animal. Mr Dunbar was then able to free it by using a tree branch.

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Ms Moir said: “When we first spied the owl, we knew we had to get it out. I started to pile stones to get closer but the mud was quite deep. 

“I piled about four or five stones on top of each other so we could get as close to the bird as possible. 

“Dale managed to hook the owl out of the mud with a stick from the woods. The whole thing took about 45 minutes.”

Clean-up: Rowan was given a gentle wash in a kitchen sink.

With its feathers caked and matted, Ms Moir wrapped newly-named ‘Rowan’ safely in her hoodie before seeking the advice from a falconer and local gamekeeper Garry MacLennan.

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Mr MacLennan collected Rowan and took it home for a clean-up in his kitchen sink.

The owl was then kept warm overnight in a box, fed with a rabbit leg, and released the following day after regaining its full strength.

The rescuers were there for the grand release, along with Layla’s friend Pyper and Mr MacLennan’s son Mason.

Once free, Rowan flew towards trees at a field edge.

Ms Moir said: “It was great to see Rowan get released and we are happy to know we probably saved its life. 

“It was a really positive experience for my daughter Layla and her friend Pyper to see it flying away again.”

Release: Rowan was back to full strength by the morning.

Barn owls are Schedule 1 birds and are fully protected all year round. There are only around 4000 pairs in the UK. 

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Without timely assistance, it is likely Rowan would have starved to death.

Mr MacLennan said: “We have four breeding pairs of barn owls on the estate. 

“They are majestic birds and I love to watch them hunting at night. 

“I was happy to help Rowan recover from otherwise a horrible death.”


Ship shape: Waverley paddle steamer returns to water

More than £3m was raised to get the famous paddle steamer sailing once again.

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The Waverley paddle steamer is back in the water.

The world’s last seagoing paddle steamer has returned to the water for the first time in almost two years following major repairs

An urgent appeal for funding was launched last year after it was announced the Waverley, built in 1946, would not sail in 2019.

In just seven months £2.3m was raised by more than 8000 members of the public and £1m from the Scottish Government.

A refit of the ship’s aged boilers has now been completed and she took to the water for the first time in 22 months on Thursday.

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She set off from Custom House Quay, Greenock, Inverclyde, to start trials following the major ‘open-heart surgery’, which saw the paddles turning for the first time since 2018.

It’s not yet known when the iconic paddle steamer will be able to carry passengers again.

A spokesperson for Waverley Excursions said: “Given the overwhelming support for Waverley we will strive to return her to service when it is right to do so.

“A final decision on whether she can operate this season with passengers has yet to be made.

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“If Waverley is returned to service this year she will only be able to operate a short programme of cruises on the Clyde. She is starting to look ship shape.”


Courtroom drama coming to cinemas as juries watch

The move follows the success of the 'remote jury' model used by the High Court in Edinburgh.

Pixabay
Juries to hear trials remotely from cinemas to tackle backlog of cases.

Juries will hear trials remotely from cinemas as part of plans to tackle a growing backlog of cases.

The move follows the success of the “remote jury” model used by the High Court in Edinburgh, where juries have observed trials by video link from another courtroom to allow for physical distancing.

High Court trials restarted last month in Edinburgh and Glasgow, having been paused during the pandemic.

The Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service (SCTS) said tests have been run from a jury centre based in a cinema complex, during one of which a mock trial was conducted with a full jury of 15 people watching the proceedings.

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It is now seeking to establish remote jury centres based in cinemas in the east and west of Scotland for at least 16 juries, with £5.5m in financial support from Scottish Government.

Lady Dorrian, chairwoman of the restarting solemn trials working group, said: “The beauty of this solution is that it preserves the 15-person jury trial and will allow us, in time, to raise business in the High Court to a level that will start to address the growing backlog of cases.

“The working group took a long, hard look at the lessons learned from the two-court and three-court model currently in use to run a small number of trials.

“It was clear that the remote jury model does work and, if suitable external venues could be identified, it would be possible to run a much higher number of trials, making full use of the courtrooms we have available for the trials.”

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The target is to open the jury centres, which will be managed and staffed by SCTS, in the autumn.

Eric McQueen, chief executive of the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service, said: “The great advantage of these remote jury centres is that they provide, in a single building, a number of spacious and soundproofed auditoria that can comfortably accommodate 15 physically-distanced jurors, combined with state-of-the-art secure technology.

“It also means we have a model that can be replicated at various sites around the country.”

Justice secretary Humza Yousaf said work is ongoing to consider what further actions may be needed to address the backlog of cases and for remote jury centres to be further rolled out for sheriff and jury cases.

He said: “As we continue to move out of lockdown we need new thinking and collaboration to deliver jury trials in line with public health requirements.

“Lord Justice Clerk Lady Dorrian’s working group and the courts service should be commended for finding and delivering a ground-breaking solution that significantly increases High Court capacity to make up to 16 jury-rooms available while importantly adhering to physical distancing rules.”

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