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Johnson refuses Sturgeon’s request for indyref2 powers

The Prime Minister said a new independence vote would cause continued 'political stagnation'.

Indyref2: Request for Section 30 powers refused. Getty

The Prime Minister has formally refused the First Minister’s request for powers to hold a second independence referendum.

In a letter, Boris Johnson told Nicola Sturgeon the 2014 independence vote was “once-in-a-generation” and said a new referendum would “continue the political stagnation that Scotland has seen for the last decade”.

He said he had “carefully considered” the case she had made for referendum powers to be transferred to Holyrood under Section 30 of the Scotland Act.

But the PM said both Sturgeon and her predecessor Alex Salmond had made a “personal promise” that the referendum in 2014 was a “once in generation” event.

The First Minister said Johnson’s letter showed he was “terrified of Scotland’s right to choose” and insisted the PM’s refusal “will not stand”.

Johnson said: “The UK Government will continue to uphold the democratic decision of the Scottish people and the promise that you made to them.

“For that reason I cannot agree to any request for a transfer of power that would lead to further independence referendums.”

He added: “Another independence referendum would continue the political stagnation that Scotland has seen for the last decade, with Scottish schools, hospitals and jobs again left behind because of a campaign to separate the UK.

“It is time that we all worked to bring the whole of the United Kingdom together and unleash the potential of this great country.”

Responding to the letter, Sturgeon tweeted: “It will not stand.”

In a further statement, the First Minister said: “The Tories are terrified of Scotland having the right to choose our own future.

“They know that given the choice the overwhelming likelihood is that people will choose the positive option of independence.

“The Tories – and their allies in the leaderships of Labour and the Lib Dems – lack any positive case for the Union, so all they can do is try to block democracy.

“It shows utter contempt for the votes, views and interests of the people of Scotland and it is a strategy that is doomed to failure.”

She continued: “It is not politically sustainable for any Westminster government to stand in the way of the right of the people of Scotland to decide their own future and to seek to block the clear democratic mandate for an independence referendum.

“The problem for the UK government is that the longer they try to block a referendum, the more they demonstrate that the Westminster union is not a partnership of equals and the more support for independence will grow.

“It will also mean for the Tories that the loss of half of their seats suffered at the recent general election – fought by them on the sole issue of opposition to an independence referendum – will be only the start of their road back to political oblivion in Scotland.

“In short, as well as being unsustainable, the position set out today by the UK government is also an entirely self-defeating one.”

The FM continued: “One thing, though, is clear – the people of Scotland will get the right to decide our own future in an independence referendum.

“The Westminster union cannot be sustained without consent. Democracy will prevail.

“The only question is how long it will take the Tories and the rest of the Westminster establishment to accept that inevitability.”

She added that the Scottish Government will “set out our response and next steps later this month” and ask MSPs “again” to endorse the principle of holding a second referendum.

The First Minister formally wrote to request Section 30 powers in December, in the wake of the general election result which saw the Conservatives win a Commons majority but also gave the SNP 80% of Scotland’s seats.

She has said she wants to hold a new independence plebiscite in the latter half of 2020, while the UK is still expected to be in a standstill transition arrangement with the EU.

In 2016, the SNP won the Holyrood election and became a minority government on the vow to hold a fresh independence vote if there was a “material change of circumstances” such as Brexit taking place against the wishes of Scottish voters.

The party says it therefore has a mandate for an independence referendum which it claims has been reinforced by a vote in the Scottish Parliament and by SNP victories in Scotland in the last two general elections and last year’s European election.

Labour MSP: Scotland’s future must be decided in Scotland Read now

Senior figures in Scottish Labour, which lost of six of its seven seats in the general election, have openly discussed backing a second independence vote in the wake of the result on December 12.

Commenting on Johnson’s letter, party leader Richard Leonard said: “I have long argued that the future of Scotland will be won and lost in Scotland, and not on the banks of the river Thames.

“Boris Johnson’s decision to block a second independence referendum in perpetuity does not change this and it is spectacular naively to think this will close the issue down.

“It will only inflame the debate, as Boris Johnson’s history of demagoguery and division shows he is well practiced in doing.”

He added: “The people of Scotland rejected independence in 2014, but Scotland remains divided.

“I believe that home rule within the UK is the only viable option that stands a chance of healing the divisions in our society.”

Analysis by STV’s political editor Colin Mackay

Leaders: Boris Johnson and Nicola Sturgeon meeting in Edinburgh last year.

The Prime Minister rejects another independence referendum and the First Minister rejects his rejection.

That pretty much sums up where we are in Scotland’s constitutional debate today: no further forward.

After the general election, a month ago, Nicola Sturgeon wrote to Boris Johnson setting out her case for another independence referendum. It was accompanied by a 38-page document including draft legislation for transferring the powers to hold that vote from Westminster to Holyrood.

A detailed response was promised, although so far it has come in the form of a short letter saying no. The Prime Minister’s letter says Nicola Sturgeon made a “personal promise” that the 2014 Independence Referendum was a “once in a generation” vote.

Nicola Sturgeon did use those very words in her 2013 speech to SNP conference: “We have a once in a generation opportunity to chart a new course for our country.” That was what the Tories said throughout the general election campaign. The regular response from the SNP was that things have changed since the Brexit vote.

Scotland’s constitutional future has long been the defining issue in Scottish politics, that is not going to change anytime soon. It took an election to break the deadlock on Brexit and it might take another election to clear the way on indyref2.

This will be at the heart of the 2021 Scottish Parliament election.  The Scottish Tories claimed the union was on the ballot paper in Scotland last month, but it seems it is on the ballot paper at every election in Scotland, next year more than ever.

Son appears in court over murder of Louise Tiffney

Sean Flynn, 36, charged with murdering his mum, whose remains were found 15 years after she disappeared.

Louise Tiffney's remains were found at Gosford House in East Lothian in 2017.

A man has appeared in court charged with murdering his mum.

The body of 43-year-old Louise Tiffney was found at stately home Gosford House in East Lothian in 2017.

She was last seen alive after leaving her home in Dean Path, Edinburgh, in May 2002.

Sean Flynn, from Berlin in Germany, appeared at Edinburgh Sheriff Court on Friday morning.

The 36-year-old made no plea to the murder charge and was released on bail until his next appearance at a later date.


Beauticians providing lip injections ‘should be licensed’

Niamh Freeburn, 20, had a procedure that went wrong in late 2018.

The Scottish Government is planning to bring in a licensing system for beauticians offering cosmetic injections such as lip or cheek fillers.

Such procedures are currently not regulated and can be carried out by anyone.

In a consultation document, the government said there is a “growing risk” as the number of unregulated premises – including beauty salons, aesthetic clinics, hairdressers and pharmacies – offering the treatments is increasing.

The paper highlights the potential for the procedures to go wrong and the possibility that permanent damage can be caused.

Niamh Freeburn, 20, had a procedure that went wrong in late 2018.

She had underwent lip enhancement before but when she went for what she thought was a routine appointment, things didn’t go to plan.

Niamh explained: “The next morning I woke up and, obviously I’d had them done before, so they were like abnormally brick solid when I was touching them.

“Within the week they started having burns on my lips and then within two weeks I was waking up and my lips were literally stuck to my bedroom pillow.

“I was having to clean the wounds out with salt water and everything, and then I ended up going to the doctors and they gave me antibiotics for them, and said that I would’ve ended up with sepsis if I left it any longer.”

Dr Simon Ravichandran runs an aesthetic medical clinic in Glasgow and regularly meets people who have had treatments elsewhere – often from practitioners who don’t have a medical background – that have not had the desired outcome.

He said: “It’s a regular occurrence, about once a week or so, at least, I would say.

“We generally see someone who has been to another practitioner, who is possibly not of a medical background.

‘The treatments have been done with good faith but they haven’t ended up the way they wanted to be.’

Dr Simon Ravichandran

“They’ve had treatments. The treatments have been done with good faith but they haven’t ended up the way they wanted to be.

“We see issues like lumps, bumps, irregularities, cosmetic outcomes that are less than desirable. Sometimes we see even more serious things like infections and other things that can happen.”

Ministers plan to bring in legislation to introduce a licensing scheme for people who are not healthcare professionals and carry out non-surgical treatments which penetrate the skin.

They have stopped short of a ban, despite the Scottish Cosmetic Interventions Expert Group effectively calling for such a move by saying the procedures should only be provided “on or behalf of a regulated healthcare professional”.

The consultation document states: “We consider that a blanket ban on non-medical professionals carrying out non-surgical cosmetic procedures could be difficult to enforce and might drive unregulated providers underground.”

In 2016, the law was changed to ensure independent clinics run by a doctor, dentist, nurse, midwife or dental technician had to register with Healthcare Improvement Scotland before they could legally provide cosmetic procedures

The Scottish Government wants pharmacies to be included in this group as part of the proposed legislative changes.

Public health minister Joe FitzPatrick said: “We are committed to patient safety and want to ensure that all those who carry out non-surgical procedures, such as dermal fillers or lip enhancements, are competent and that the treatments take place in safe and hygienic premises.

“We plan to introduce regulations later this year and invite members of the public and interested parties to give their views as part of the consultation on our proposals.

“In the meantime, we urge anyone considering any kind of cosmetic surgery to visit the Health Improvement Scotland website for regulated and approved providers.”

The consultation opened on Friday and runs until the end of April.


Almost £650m spent in a decade to switch off wind turbines

Power firms have been paid to turn off wind turbines when the demand for electricity drops or the wind is too strong.

Customers have been forced to pay electricity companies almost £650m over the past decade – to not produce power.

The cash is compensation for periods that wind turbines are switched off at short notice and usually happens to avoid overloading the UK’s National Grid.

Since 2009, power firms have been paid to turn off wind turbines when the demand for electricity drops or the wind is too strong.

The cost is then added to customers’ electricity bills.

The bulk of the money – so-called constraint payments – comes to electricity suppliers in Scotland because most windfarms are north of the border.

Helen McDade, Scottish policy advisor at the Renewable Energy Foundation, told STV News: “They’re getting to unmanageable levels with last year being a record level.

“£136m was paid in constraints for windfarms to turn off, to not produce, and that’s more than they would have got if they’d been having good windy days.

“So there’s an incentive for them to build where they’re going to be constrained off, where there isn’t the grid to cope.”

Since 2009, customers have directly compensated windfarmers for switching off turbines – to the tune of £649m.

Watchdogs say that volume would have powered 90% of Scottish households for a year.

A trend is emerging with more wind schemes are on the horizon and most are proposed for areas of Scotland where the biggest constraint payments have been made.

Ms McDade said: “There’s a huge swathe of public applications coming forward now and if you look at the map of constraint payments and you look at the map of where these applications are coming forward, there’s quite a similarity to the pressure in these areas.”

Over the decade, the biggest beneficiary for compensation has been Whitelee Windfarm near Glasgow which received £110m.

The Clyde scheme received £80m, Fallago in the Borders £41m, Griffin in Tayside £37m, Black Law in Lanarkshire £24m and Farr in the Highlands £22m.

The trade body Scottish Renewables describes the payments as “a normal part of the overall efficient management of our electricity system.”

The cost has angered those in the frontline of poverty, who are faced with pleas of help from growing numbers of people deciding between heating their homes or putting food on the table.

Alasdair Christie, who runs the Citizens Advice Bureau in Inverness, said: “It’s an awful waste of money that could be diverted and spent on vulnerable people – those in fuel poverty debt, those on the breadline, to try to help them, rather than just haul it up in very rich organisations.”

Responding to the criticism, a spokesman for the UK’s Energy Department said: “We are committed to a dynamic energy market with a range of options for meeting future energy demand including renewables but it must be delivered in a way that offers value for money for consumers and taxpayers.”

The Scottish Government insists wind is “the cheapest form of electricity generated”.

Scotland’s energy minister Paul Wheelhouse said: “In an ideal world we’d avoid any need for constraint payments but it reflects the fact there has been insufficient investment in the grid to meet the growing installation and demand for renewable electricity generation.

“It’s a necessity at the moment. It sometimes is the most cost effective way of dealing with issues rather than over-building the network to cope with surges in supply.”

In a statement, the National Grid Electricity System Operator said it was “significantly cheaper to pay the constraint costs,” rather than upgrade the grid.

It added: “All electricity systems around the world use constraint payments.”


Man jailed after mum-to-be lost unborn twins in stabbing

Stephen Ramsay repeatedly stabbed, punched and throttled woman he accused of stealing money.

Stephen Ramsay: STV

A man who repeatedly stabbed a heavily pregnant mum-to-be, causing her to lose her unborn twins, has been jailed.

Stephen Ramsay also punched and throttled the woman during an attack in Glenrothes, Fife, after accusing her of stealing money he’d made while posing as a homeless person.

He will spent at least five years in prison for attempted murder, but was also handed a lifelong restriction order, which means he may never be freed.

Police kicked down a door to find Ramsay sitting on top of the 35-year-old woman with his hands around her neck.

Shortly after the attack, the 32-weeks pregnant woman lost both babies she was carrying.

When Ramsay was later told the unborn babies had died he became inconsolable and shouted: “I’ve murdered my kids. I don’t deserve to be treated. I deserve to die, just kill me now.”

The victim suffered a spinal cord injury, brain damage, extensive bruising and at least 22 separate injuries on her torso alone.

Ramsay pleaded guilty to the charges, however the High Court in Aberdeen heard on Friday that he now denied committing the offence.

Detective inspector Paul Dick, who led the police investigation, said: “When Stephen Ramsay committed this horrendous attack he was well aware that the woman was heavily pregnant and that his actions could have killed her as well as her unborn children.

“The victim has been left with permanent injuries and she has been left utterly distraught at the death of her twins. No amount of time in prison can ever undo the harm Ramsay has caused to her.”


Slipknot fans hit out at ban on spiked clothing at gig

Slipknot are due to play the SSE Hydro on Saturday and the venue has published a list of prohibited accessories ahead of the concert.

Heavy metal fans have criticised a clothing ban for a Slipknot gig in Glasgow.

The American band are due to play the SSE Hydro on Saturday and the venue has published a list of prohibited accessories ahead of the concert.

Some of the accessories which have been banned include large belt buckles, large chain wallets and various items of spiked clothing.

Debbie Moffat said she was “shocked” to find out a number of the items had been banned.

“I know the Hydro does tend to have a lot of security in place and that’s fair enough,” she said.

“But when you’re seeing that it’s belt buckles and wallets, 99% of that stuff is ideally what people who go to this gig want to wear.

‘Shocked’: Heavy metal fan Debbie Moffat

“The boots I’ve got for it are metal with spikes, can’t wear them. I had a leather jacket with spikes on it, can’t wear that.

“Spiked dog collar, can’t wear that. Pretty much most of the outfits that a lot of these people tend to wear are straight up banned.”

Another fan said: “I think it’s quite absurd because if you think of rock and heavy music, a lot of it is to do with fashion – people express themselves through it.

“So you’re stopping people’s expression, especially because they’re at a gig.”

The SSE Hydro said any restrictions are “related to the safety of everyone attending events” and “to the security of the venue”.

A spokeswoman explained: “We want everyone attending an event here to have an enjoyable experience.

“However, there are restrictions on what is allowed into The SSE Hydro and these can vary – this is related to the safety of everyone attending events here and to the security of the venue.

“These restrictions are consistent with other UK venues part of this tour.”


Rangers charged by SFA over behaviour of staff and players

The Ibrox club have received notices of complaint that could lead to bans and fines.

Rangers are in the dock. SNS

Rangers have been charged by the Scottish FA over the conduct of their staff and players during games against Hibs and Celtic, with the Edinburgh club also being cited for their behaviour.

The Ibrox club has received Notices of Complaint relating to the two matches in December with Alfredo Morelos and Ryan Kent, as well as two members of the backroom team, at the centre of the alleged misconduct.

The first charges come from Rangers 3-0 win at Easter Road on December 20. Kent, Joe Aribo and Jermain Defoe scored the goals that gave Steven Gerrard’s side the three points but the match was marked by a touchline confrontation between the staff of both sides. Hibs assistant John Potter was sent to the stand, as was Rangers coach Tom Culshaw.

Both teams have been charged under rule 204, which states that “All clubs and recognised football bodies shall procure that its officials, team staff, employees and players conduct themselves in an orderly fashion at all times during and/or after a match”. Hibs and Rangers face a fine if the charge is proven to an independent panel.

Potter and Culshaw have both been charged with misconduct under rule 203 and could face suspension.

Rangers are also in the dock over behaviour during their 2-1 victory over Celtic at Celtic Park on December 29. The club has again been accused of breaking rule 204 and the charge is understood to centre on the conduct of Kent, Morelos and coach Michael Beale.

Beale was dismissed from the touchline by referee Kevin Clancy during the final minutes of the game, after Morelos was sent off for picking up a second yellow card. Morelos was also cautioned again after the game for gesturing to Celtic fans as he headed off the pitch.

Kent scored Rangers’ opening goal in the game but drew attention for his celebration, where he used a ‘gun salute’ gesture, which he later said was a tribute to rap act Smif and Wessun.

The rule in full reads: “All clubs and recognised football bodies shall procure that its officials, team staff, employees and players conduct themselves in an orderly fashion at all times during and/or after a match. In particular, clubs and recognised football bodies are responsible for ensuring that its officials, team staff, employees and players refrain from any one or a combination of the following: (a) becoming involved in a confrontation (b) conduct that is likely to lead to or to exacerbate or prolong a hostile or argumentative situation with players and/or team staff from the opposing team and/or match officials (c) conduct that may otherwise incite disorder”.

Beale has also been cited for misconduct after being dismissed and could face a touchline ban.

Dog with ‘serious eye’ condition found near car park

A member of the public found a Yorkshire terrier near the Morrisons car park in Hamilton.

Found: Dog

An appeal has been made to trace the owner of a dog found near a South Lanarkshire car park.

A member of the public found a Yorkshire terrier in the area of the Morrisons car park in Hamilton.

The Scottish SPCA took the dog, which has a serious eye issue and required urgent veterinary treatment, into their care on Wednesday.

Scottish SPCA inspector Dawn Robertson said “We are thankful to the member of the public who went out of their way to bring her to us.

“She is middle aged and has quite a serious eye issue that required urgent veterinary treatment.

“This was not a condition that developed overnight and should have been treated much sooner.

“Apart from the eye, she is in good body condition.

“She has not been microchipped so we have little information to go on.

“We are appealing to the public to help us trace the owner.

“If anyone recognises the dog, please contact our confidential animal helpline on 03000 999 999.”


Two men charged over ‘theft of five-figure sum of cash’

Entry was forced into a static cabin around 6.50am on New Year's Day and a safe containing a five-figure sum was taken.

Police: Two men charged

Two men have been charged in connection with the theft of tens of thousands of pounds from an Edinburgh city centre business on New Year’s Day.

Entry was forced into a static cabin on Bristo Square around 6.50am on Wednesday, January 1, and a short time later a safe containing a five-figure sum was taken.

On Friday morning, police searched two properties in the Holyrood area, which resulted in the recovery of heroin and the arrest of two men in connection with the theft.

A 50-year-old man and 26-year-old man have been charged and will appear at Edinburgh Sheriff Court on Monday, January 20.

Detective inspector Jon Pleasance said: “We are grateful for the all the support we have received from the public in relation to this investigation.

“In particular, I would like to thank the business community around Bristo Square and the South Side of Edinburgh who greatly assisted police enquiries.

“Enquiries into this matter are still ongoing and anyone with information are asked to contact police on 101.”


Brothers set world records in 35-day Atlantic crossing

Three brothers from Edinburgh have set two world records after rowing the Atlantic Ocean in just 35 days.

Three brothers from Edinburgh have set two world records after rowing the Atlantic Ocean in just 35 days.

The MacLean siblings, known as BROAR, set off from La Gomera in the Canary Islands on December 12 and completed their 3000-mile row to Antigua in the Caribbean on Thursday.

It means the brothers – Lachlan, 21, Jamie, 26, and Ewan, 27 – beat the previous record of 41 days, with an official timing of 35 days, nine hours and nine minutes.

They’re also now the youngest rowers to complete the journey.

“Breaking a world record is bizarre, we are just as surprised as anyone else,” said Jamie. “We knew if we made it across we would get the youngest trio, but the speed record came as a bit of a surprise.”

It wasn’t plain sailing for the team, during their journey they had to overcome seasickness, battery issues, dehydration and exhaustion.

“After new year we had a week of poor weather and not much wind,” said Lachlan. “In order to keep up with the teams of four we had to cut the amount of sleep we took. Jamie then fell ill immediately after I fell ill, we were on our oars for basically 24 hours.”

Despite the struggles, the brothers said overcoming the tough times resulted in some of their best moments.

“Looking back, there were points in those really tough days when you just enjoyed it the most,” said Ewan. “When you’re really pushing, there is joy to be had there.

“I’m incredibly proud of that, but mostly I’m proud of the money we’ve raised for charity and the difference we’ll make to two causes very close to our hearts.”

The trio are hoping to raise £250,000 for Feedback Madagascar and Children First.

Children First is Scotland’s national children’s charity, while Feedback Madagascar works with some of the poorest communities in Madagascar to improve their lives and their environment.

Jamie and Lachlan, students at Glasgow University and Glasgow School of Art respectively, convinced their brother Ewan, a design engineer for Dyson in Bristol, to take a sabbatical from work to make the world record attempt.

So what next for the trio? “There will definitely be another adventure,” said Jamie.


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