Independent Scotland could be ‘top of the list’ to join the EU

An expert believes there would now be 'broad openness' to an independent Scotland becoming part of the EU.

Brexit: An expert believes there would now be 'broad openness' to an independent Scotland becoming part of the EU. William Voon / EyeEm via Getty Images
Brexit: An expert believes there would now be 'broad openness' to an independent Scotland becoming part of the EU.

An independent Scotland could be “top of the list” to join the European Union, one expert has claimed.

Barbara Lippert, the director of research at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs in Berlin, added that Brexit had been a “gamechanger” for many in Europe in understanding why some Scots want to leave the UK.

She said she believed there would now be “broad openness” to an independent Scotland becoming part of the EU.

The whole UK left the European Union last year, despite Scots having voted against the move in the 2016 Brexit referendum, and the Scottish Government hopes an independent Scotland would be able to again be part of the group.

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Ms Lippert, who is an expert in EU enlargement, insisted that Scotland would not be put “in the same basket” as Western Balkan states looking to join, such as Montenegro, Serbia, and Albania.

The German told an online event, organised by the European Movement in Scotland, that Scotland has a “far better image” than those nations.

She added that in terms of membership criteria “Scotland will look like a bright spot”.

She stated: “I think it will be top of the list of candidates, maybe together with Iceland and other Efta (European Free Trade Association) countries, which could also line up in the future.”

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Another expert, James Ker-Lindsay, a visiting professor at the London School of Economics, dismissed any suggestion Scotland would have to “get in the queue” to join behind other nations, who had already said they wanted to join the EU.

He told the event: “I’ve seen people say this, if Scotland wants to become independent, if it wants to join the European Union it is just going to have to get in line behind the Western Balkans.

“And there is absolutely no reason to believe that is the case at all. That is not how EU enlargement works.

“It is simply a case with the European Union if you are ready, and there is a political will to take you in, then you join. You don’t have to defer that membership behind any other country that might be in advance of you.”

He added: “In many ways I could see the European Union wanting to take Scotland in to show that enlargement is still something.”

Prof Ker-Lindsay said Scotland could have a “very fast accession” in terms of negotiating its entry into the EU, but noted ratification could take longer.

“This is not going to be something that happens overnight,” he added.


Teen arrested in connection with schoolboy’s murder at railway station

Justin McLaughlin died in hospital after being attacked with a knife at High Street railway station in Glasgow.

Police Scotland
Justin McLaughlin was attacked at High Street station in Glasgow.

A 16-year-old boy has been arrested in connection with the murder of Justin McLaughlin at a railway station in Glasgow.

Justin, 14, was found seriously injured after being attacked with a knife at High Street train station around 3.45pm on Saturday, October 16.

He was taken to the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, where he was pronounced dead a short time later.

An extensive investigation into Justin’s death is under way and police say enquiries are ongoing following the arrest.

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Members of the public can still submit information to the police via an online portal.

Those with information can also call Police Scotland on 101, British Transport Police on 0800 40 50 40 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.


Terror plot suspect had ‘dead girl pics’ folder on laptop, court hears

Sam Imrie has been charged with posting statements suggesting he was going to carry out an attack on the Fife Islamic Centre.

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'Terror plot' trial: Sam Imrie.

A laptop and phone found in the bedroom of a man on trial for terrorism offences had images of sexual activity with mutilated women in a folder named ‘dead girl pics’, a court has heard.

The images included photos of women who were believed to be dead, with parts of their bodies missing, including their breasts and heads.

Some of the photos showed signs of sexual activity with the corpses.

The devices are said to belong to Sam Imrie, who is on trial at the High Court in Edinburgh for posting statements on the social media platform Telegram suggesting he was going to carry out an attack on the Fife Islamic Centre in Glenrothes.

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The 24-year-old has also been accused of planning to stream live footage of “an incident”, and of taking, or permitting to be taken or made, indecent photographs of children.

Giving evidence on Monday, Robert Steer, 51, a cybercrime leader in digital forensics for the police, told the court the laptop and phone had 78 files showing deceased women that he believed were “genuine” photos, some of which were taken at a morgue.

He said several of the images were “distinct” showing sexual activity with the corpses.

Jurors heard that 67 images of child exploitation were also found on the accused’s phone.

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Mr Steer said there were 17 photos classed as category A under the UK’s child abuse image database (CAID), which involves photos showing penetrative sex or sadist acts with an animal or a child.

There were also eight images under category B and 42 under category C.

Category B involves images involving non-penetrative sexual activity with a child, while category C relates to “other indecent images” that could include children “sexually posing”, Mr Steer said.

Among other charges, Imrie is accused of being in possession of neo-Nazi, antisemitic and anti-Muslim material.

On the same laptop recovered from Imrie’s bedroom there was a folder called “Hero’s”, which had sub-folders including one named Anders Breivik and Brenton Tarrant, both convicted of terrorism offences.

On Thursday, the High Court in Edinburgh heard a recording of an interview carried out with the accused by police on July 8 2019.

The accused told police he was a “white nationalist”. Asked what that meant, he replied: “It means I care about my race.”

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Imrie denied that he thought white people were superior to non-whites, saying he believed the Chinese were superior.

He made no response when it was put to him that that view “flies in the face of white nationalism”.

Jurors previously heard how the accused made a series of derogatory remarks about minority groups on the messaging app Telegram.

Imrie blamed his actions on alcohol.

When asked about his visit to the Fife Islamic Centre in July 2019, which he had threatened to burn down on the Telegram app, Imrie said: “It was a joke.”

He denies all of the nine charges against him, three of which come under the Terrorism Act.

The trial, before Lord Mulholland, continues.


Police probe reports women ‘spiked by injection’ during nights out

Those who feel they have been the victim of a crime are being urged to report it to the relevant authorities.

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Night out: Police are investigating three separate alleged spiking incidents.

Police have launched an investigation following a report that a woman was spiked by injection during a night out.

The incident is alleged to have taken place at The Liquid Room in Edinburgh on Saturday, October 9.

Officers also hope to track down a woman who claimed online that she was the victim of spiking by injection at Captain’s Cabin in Dundee.

In addition, police are investigating a separate report of a woman’s drink “possibly being spiked” at Tingle Bar in Stirling on Saturday night.

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Bosses from The Liquid Room, Tingle Bar and Captain’s Cabin said they have yet to be notified directly about the alleged incidents. However, the three venues pledged to assist the police probes and urged anyone who feels they may have been the victim of a crime within their premises to report it.

In response to the Edinburgh incident, a police spokesperson said the force had received a report and “enquiries are at an early stage”.

A Liquid Room spokesperson told STV News: “We have not been notified directly of this alleged incident or any similar incidents by Police Scotland or any individuals as yet.

“We also haven’t seen any other reports of a similar nature happen in The Liquid Room.

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“Any allegations of any crimes committed in The Liquid Room is taken seriously and if any customers report directly to us, we will investigate thoroughly and gladly assist Police Scotland if called upon.

“Customer safety is our top priority. We urge anyone who feels they may have been the victim of a crime in The Liquid Room to please contact us directly or Police Scotland.”

In response to the alleged drink spiking in Stirling, MSP Evelyn Tweed said she had been contacted by a “number of concerned constituents”.

She has since written to Police Scotland, asking if complaints have been made and what action is being taken to address the matter.

The Stirling MSP also wished to clarify a claim made on social media that police officers failed to act on the allegation.

Posting on Twitter, Emma Fulton claimed her friend had been spiked and when she went to speak to police about it, they reportedly “wanted absolutely nothing to do with it and told us to put her in a taxi home”.

In her letter, MSP Tweed wrote: “As you will be aware, Stirling has a lively night-time economy on most nights of the week, not just at weekends, and I am keen to ensure that people, particularly young women, are able to enjoy this without fear and in the full knowledge that Police Scotland will support them in the event of an incident unfortunately occurring.”

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Speaking to STV News, MSP Tweed said: “My office has received pressing concerns from constituents, regarding nightlife safety and spiking incidents in recent weeks.

“I have raised these concerns directly with Police Scotland, and have requested further information on the actions they are taking to address these anxieties in Stirling. 

“Everyone deserves to enjoy themselves in a safe manner, and businesses have a responsibility for the wellbeing and security of their customers.

“I await a response from Police Scotland, and constituents with further concerns or information should contact the police directly on 101 or 999.”

In response, a Police Scotland spokesperson said: “We have received a report of a drink possibly being spiked at a premises in Stirling on Saturday, October 16.

“Enquiries are at an early stage and ongoing.

“We would encourage anyone with any concerns around this, or anyone who believes they may have been a victim of drink spiking, to report it to police. All reports will be taken seriously and investigated thoroughly.”

Posting on Instagram, a spokesperson for Tingle Bar said they were aware of recent media reports of “spiking incidents in bars and clubs around Scotland”.

They added: “Guest safety will always be paramount to us and we would like to reassure everyone that our front and back of house areas are fully covered with CCTV and we employ toilet attendants to oversee the parts we cannot monitor.

“We also operate each night with double the recommended SIA accredited stewards and a random search policy to ensure everyone’s safety.

“In a situation like this we would always encourage you to contact the relevant authorities if you have any concerns.

“Contrary to recent social media discussions, we have not received any official complaints of this nature.

“We stand ready and willing to help in any way we can.”

In a further allegation posted online, a third woman claimed she was spiked by injection during a night out at Captain’s Cabin in Dundee.

The woman said she “blacked out suddenly” and woke up in the morning with the feeling of “pins and needles” in her left arm.

Posting a picture of her punctured arm online, she said: “The injection left me unable to walk without the help of someone else and I could barely string a sentence together.”

She added: “I also just looked very drunk at the time which is worrying in case this prevents other girls in future from getting appropriate help if needed.”

The woman said she was going to the hospital “to get checked”.

In response to the post, a spokesperson for Captain’s Cabin said: “We have been made aware of a serious allegation regarding an alleged incident at our venue over the weekend.

“We are very aware that the safety and wellbeing of our customers is paramount, even more so given the events of recent weeks and months throughout the UK.

“Since then, a post regarding this matter has gone viral nationally despite not being able to verify the facts with the individual.

“We have since reported this incident to the police, and we would like to hear from the alleged victim, as we are yet to receive any official complaint regarding this matter.

“We also understand that the police have not received a complaint.

“Any allegation of this nature is taken very seriously and we always work with the relevant authorities and individuals to ensure that all matters are fully investigated.

“Our number one priority is, and always has been, the safety of our valued customers and the community which we have cultivated here at Captain’s Cabin.”

A police spokesperson told STV News that officers have been unable to identify the woman.

The force said: “Officers in Dundee are investigating a post on social media about a female being spiked by injection at a premises on Ward Road.

“Enquiries are at an early stage and ongoing.

“Officers have not yet been able to identify the person who made the original post and are appealing for anyone with any information to contact 101.”

Cold snap to bring frost and snow to parts of Scotland this week

Orkney, Caithness Sutherland, Moray, Aberdeenshire and Angus are expected to be hit with potential snowfall by Wednesday.

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Cold snap: Snowfall could hit parts of Scotland.

Scots can expect frost, hail and the possibility of snow showers later in the week as a cold snap is set to hit parts of the country.

Areas including Orkney, Caithness Sutherland, Moray, Aberdeenshire and Angus are expected to be hit with potential snowfall by Wednesday afternoon.

According to STV Weather presenter Philip Petrie, a frontal system will begin to move in from the north, so by teatime Shetland and Orkney will start to see cloud thickening and a band of rain spreading in.

At the same time, this front will bring in much colder air stretching back to the Arctic, so overnight there is a chance that any lingering showers could feel quite wintry, with hail down to lower levels and on higher ground the chance of snow. 

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By the time most of the country are wakening up Thursday the frontal system will be south of the border, and we will be well under the influence of the cold arctic air.

It is around this time that a second frontal system moves in from the north, and again this will bring further showers that will feel quite wintry across the higher ground of Orkney, Caithness and Sutherland, parts of Moray, Aberdeenshire and stretching down to Angus. 

Philip said: “Well we’ve started the new week fairly unsettled with a lot of low cloud, damp and murky conditions.

“At the same time though we are in a southerly airflow, so that is pulling in milder.

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“If we track that air back it is originating from across the Azores, so this is helping to push our temperatures up a few degrees across Tuesday and Wednesday, possibly reaching highs of 17C for the likes of Inverness, Fort William and parts of the central belt. 

“This is unseasonably mild for the time of year and in some spots will be 4C or 5C above the average. 

“However come Thursday our wind direction does a complete 180 and we will then be in a northerly airflow, with colder conditions flooding down from the north.

“We’ll then be in an arctic airflow and it will be noticeable – not only do our temperatures drop but the freezing level will drop too meaning we could see some hail down to lower levels for the far north of the country, with snow too but restricted mostly to higher ground.

“Conditions will be cold enough for snow down to around 400-500m in any heavier showers.

“This is nothing out of the ordinary for Scotland for the time of year, and in fact Thursday and Friday look set to be some of the brighter days of the week for Scotland, however it will be noticeably colder.”

A Met Office forecaster said: “From Thursday, temperatures will fall below average for most, increasing the likelihood of snow over higher ground in the north.”


Review of security for MPs to conclude within days, home secretary says

Priti Patel faced calls from Labour to put in place a strategy to reduce the risk posed by lone attackers.

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Sir David Amess was fatally stabbed while meeting constituents at Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea last week.

A security review for MPs will conclude within days, the home secretary has said, before she mounted a staunch defence of the intelligence agencies.

Priti Patel faced calls from Labour to put in place a strategy to reduce the risk posed by lone attackers, following the murder of Conservative politician Sir David Amess.

The long-serving Southend West MP was fatally stabbed while meeting constituents at Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea, near Southend, prompting a review of security measures.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Patel said she had been working with Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle on the issue of security for MPs in recent days.

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She added: “It is absolutely right for all members of the House to recognise that we want to see consistency across the board when it comes to the safety and security of Members of Parliament and our ability to conduct our public duties as democratically-elected members of this House.

“The review is under way right now and I can confirm to all MPs that the policing review is concluding literally in the next few days.

“There will be more communications to all colleagues across the House in terms of how to conduct their work publicly in a safe and secure way, while giving the public the confidence and the assurance that they need when they’re coming to meet members in forums such as surgeries, but also that the one-to-one contact that members of Parliament require will be taking place.”

Patel also told MPs: “The issue of lone attackers is not new and across society and across our country and other countries around the world sadly we’ve seen too many lone attackers in previous years.

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“There’s a great deal of work taking place and we will continue to discuss actually the work across intelligence, policing, security, prisons and probation as well, to prevent the attacks, but also the data and intelligence-sharing that is undertaken across our systems, across our government but across all aspects of various institutions and society linked to some of the inquiries that are taking place.

“I also think it’s important to recognise, and I would like all members of the House to hear this, we have some of the best intelligence and security agencies in the world.

“I want to pay tribute to them today and our police forces for the work they have been doing, specifically in regard to the current investigation but also the much wider work they do to keep us safe every single day.”

As MPs paid tribute to Sir David, Labour’s Stephen Timms – who was stabbed during one of his constituency surgeries in 2010 – said “we mustn’t give up on the accessibility of members of Parliament”.

Timms said of Sir David: “He was accessible to his constituents. Tragically he has now given his life. We will rightly reflect on what more we can do to stop that happening again.

“I wonder if we might ask the police to review our appointment lists ahead of each surgery, for example?

“But we mustn’t give up on the accessibility of Members of Parliament. If we do, the sponsors of those who attacked David and who attacked me will have succeeded. That must not happen.”


Controversial ‘Jim Crow stone’ transformed into proud Puffin Rock

The former Jim Crow Rock attracted criticism before being redesigned as a statement of 'positivity'.

STV News
The newly painted Puffin Rock near Dunoon.

On the shore near Dunoon proudly stands the Puffin Rock.

The stone has been freshly painted to resemble the colourful bird and is attracting attention, but for decades it was the subject of controversy.

“The rock first appeared on maps around 1864 and it was thought it looked like a crow, it was then painted to look like a crow and became a bit of a tourist attraction for the local community,” said David Mitchell, headteacher at Dunoon Grammar School.

“But over the last few years, there has been a bit of negativity around the rock.”

STV News
The Jim Crow Rock had attracted criticism.
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The rock’s old name was synonymous with the Jim Crow laws that enforced racial segregation in the United States.

Painted black, with a large red mouth, a picture of the stone features in one of the largest collections of racist memorabilia in the world.

Previous attempts to paint over the rock had been met with resistance, with some people taking it upon themselves to return it to its previous form whenever it was graffitied.

But more people visiting the Cowal peninsula, including international travellers, were taken aback by the stone’s design.

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S3 pupil Alexander Fraser came up with the new design.
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After Neville Lawrence, the father of Stephen Lawrence who was murdered in a racially motivated attack in 1993, told the Dunoon Observer he was “disappointed” the rock existed the local paper reported the Jim Crow Rock was giving the area a bad name.

For the last two years, locals had been trying to come up with a solution that would be backed by the whole community, which resulted in a competition for local school children.

Dr Nighet Riaz, an anti-racist educator and policy maker at the University of Glasgow, said the move was a important sign of progress.

“It was the connotations and what it means now into today’s context that the community felt that they needed to address and the fact that they’ve done that and they’ve done it because they felt it was the right thing to do, without the intervention from anyone from black and ethnic minority backgrounds, shows how far we have travelled in some areas in aspects of tackling racism in that community,” she said.

STV News
The rock was transformed by the school art students with some help from locals.

Dunoon Grammar School S3 pupil Alexander Fraser won with his puffin design.

He told STV News: “Because we’re a coastal town, it would be quite nice to have something to do with the sea, and I noticed the rock has quite a different shape, and I think I just looking through the art books and I saw the puffin and I thought that would work quite well on it.”

Alexander’s art teacher Lucy Neish said: “The young people’s involvement in it makes a quite firm statement of that change of that positivity. It’s moving on, it’s progress, and, as I say, a statement of joy and positivity.”

STV News
Dunoon Grammar School pupils paint the Puffin Rock.

Man denies attempting to murder two-month-old baby boy

Declan Walton allegedly tried to kill the child at a property in Glenrothes, Fife, last year.

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Prosecutors claim the 30-year-old shook the infant or inflicted blunt force trauma to his head by means unknown.

 A man has denied the attempted murder of a baby boy in Fife.

Declan Walton allegedly tried to kill the two-month-old child at a property in Glenrothes on June 5, 2020.

Prosecutors claim the 30-year-old shook the infant or inflicted blunt force trauma to his head by means unknown.

The attempted murder charge states this was to the baby’s severe injury, permanent impairment and to the danger of his life.

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Walton also faces a separate allegation of attacking the child on an earlier date.

He is further alleged to have assaulted a five-year-old boy by striking him and throwing the youngster causing him to hit a wall.

This is said to have occurred between September 2019 and March 2020.

Walton is also alleged to have engaged in abusive behaviour towards a woman and possessed cannabis.

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His QC Ian Duguid pled not guilty on his behalf to the charges during a hearing at the High Court in Glasgow on Monday.

He added: “The defence are in a position to fix a trial.”

Mr Duguid said the case could last for up to 10 days due to the “complexity of the medical evidence”.

No trial was set and Lord Matthews instead adjourned the case until a further hearing later this month.

Walton remains on bail.


Livingston goalkeeper diagnosed with testicular cancer aged 20

Daniel Barden, on loan at the club from Norwich City, will now spend some time away from football.

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Livingston goalkeeper Daniel Barden is undergoing treatment for testicular cancer.

Livingston goalkeeper Daniel Barden has been diagnosed with testicular cancer.

The 20-year-old, who is on loan from English Premier League side Norwich City, is undergoing treatment and spend time away from football.

Barden thanked Norwich manager Daniel Farke and Livingston boss David Martindale for their support in a statement released on Monday.

He said: “It has been a very difficult and challenging period, but the support of my family, friends and colleagues has helped get me through the last few weeks.

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“I can’t thank the medical departments at both Norwich and Livingston enough, as well as everyone at the Royal Marsden Hospital.

“The speed at which everything has moved has been crazy, but everyone has been absolutely brilliant with me. Both Daniel Farke and the Livingston manager, David Martindale, have also been very supportive.

“The initial diagnosis was a real shock for me, but the positive thing is that we’ve caught it early and the prognosis and next steps have all been positive.

“I’m optimistic and have a positive mindset. I’m confident that I’ll be able to beat it and that I’ll be back out there doing what I love soon.

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“I’d like to thank everyone around me for their support. I know that the coming period will be challenging and would ask for privacy for me and my family at this stage. Where possible, I’ll do what I can to update on my progress.”

Barden, who has represented Wales at U-19 and U-21 level, moved to West Lothian on loan earlier this year.

Norwich City sporting director Stuart Webber said: “Everyone at Norwich City wishes Dan a speedy recovery. Our love and thoughts are with him and his family as he starts this latest challenge in his life.

“Dan is part of our family and we look out for our own. He knows we are with him every step of the way.

“The care and attention Dan has had so far has been top class. We thank everyone who has looked out for him and we are grateful for Livingston for acting on Dan’s symptoms and alerting us.”

“We can’t wait to welcome Dan back to Carrow Road and the Lotus Training Centre.

“It goes without saying but we give Dan our full love, support and best wishes in his recovery and will assist where we can at every step of the way.”

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Scottish SPCA appeal after kittens found dumped in vodka box in park

The cats were found by children in Gallatown Park in Kirkcaldy, Fife, on Thursday.

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Rescued: The kittens are now in the care of the Scottish SPCA.

An animal welfare charity has launched an appeal after three kittens were abandoned in a park.

The Scottish SPCA said the young cats were found in a vodka box in Gallatown Park in Kirkcaldy, Fife, on Thursday.

A member of the public called the charity to report that some children had discovered the animals while playing.

The kittens – two males and one female – are thought to be around 12-weeks-old.

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Appeal: The kittens were found in a cardboard box.
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Scottish SPCA inspector Robyn Gray said: “The kittens were found in a vodka box that appears to have been used for moving or storage in the past. The box is marked ‘tops’ and dated from 2017.

“The animals were found in the park at around 2pm and can’t have been there for long as both they and the cardboard box they were in were dry despite the wet weather.

“The kittens were in good condition and did not have any injuries, illnesses or fleas so they have clearly been well cared for up to this point.

“Although we appreciate the owner may have meant for these cats to be found, this is not the proper way to give up an animal if you can no longer care for them.”

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She added: “They are semi-longhaired and all have distinctive markings so we’re sure someone must recognise them.”

Anyone with information about the kittens is asked to call the charity’s confidential animal helpline on 03000 999 999.


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