Key dates in the Salmond saga as Sturgeon to appear at inquiry

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will give evidence to the Holyrood committee later on Wednesday.

Scotland: Nicola Sturgeon and Alex Salmond. Jeff J Mitchell via Getty Images
Scotland: Nicola Sturgeon and Alex Salmond.

Nicola Sturgeon is due to give evidence to the Holyrood committee examining the Scottish Government’s unlawful investigation of sexual harassment allegations made against Alex Salmond.

The inquiry was established after Scotland’s former first minister successfully challenged the government’s apparently biased investigation, resulting in a £512,250 payout.

Here are the key dates as the saga has unfolded:

October 31, 2017

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First Minister Nicola Sturgeon orders a review of the Scottish Government’s “policies and processes for addressing inappropriate conduct” in the wake of the MeToo movement.

The review is led by the government’s most senior civil servant, permanent secretary Leslie Evans.

November 4

Sturgeon is informed about an inquiry by Sky News relating to Salmond’s alleged behaviour towards female staff at Edinburgh Airport.

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December 20

Sturgeon approves the “Handling of Harassment Complaints Involving Current or Former Ministers” procedure.

January, 2018

Two female staff members make formal complaints to the Scottish Government about Salmond’s conduct in December 2013 when he was first minister.

An internal investigation is established and investigating officer Judith Mackinnon is appointed.

March 7

The permanent secretary tells Salmond about the investigation.

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March 29

Salmond’s former chief of staff, Geoff Aberdein, meets Sturgeon at Holyrood and discusses the allegations.

In her written evidence to the committee in 2020, Sturgeon says she forgot about this meeting until “late January/early February” 2019.

April 2

Salmond meets Sturgeon at her home in Glasgow and tells her that he is under investigation.

In Salmond’s later written evidence, he states the First Minister “suggested that she would intervene in favour of a mediation process at an appropriate stage” but subsequently decided against intervening.

Sturgeon has argued she thought this was a party meeting, rather than a government one.

April 23

Salmond calls Sturgeon twice, asking her to encourage the permanent secretary to accept his mediation request.

June 7

Sturgeon meets Salmond in Aberdeen, ahead of the SNP conference.

July 14

Sturgeon and Salmond meet at the First Minister’s Glasgow home.

August 21

The Crown Office passes complaints about Salmond to police.

August 22

Salmond is told the government inquiry is complete.

August 23

The Scottish Government tells Salmond’s lawyers it intends to release a public statement about the investigation, but agrees not to until an interim interdict application seeking to block publication has been heard.

The Daily Record newspaper breaks news of the allegations against Salmond via a tweet.

He denies misconduct and calls some of the allegations “patently ridiculous”.

August 28

Salmond lodges a petition for a judicial review at the Court of Session in Edinburgh.

August 29

Salmond resigns from the SNP, but says he will apply to rejoin once he has cleared his name.

He launches a crowdfunding appeal for the review, which quickly reaches more than £100,000.

September 14

Police confirm they have launched an investigation into the complaints against Salmond, separate from the government’s investigation and the judicial review process.

January 8, 2019

A week before the full judicial review is due to start, the Scottish Government concedes defeat at the Court of Session in Edinburgh.

The government’s lawyers accept that investigating officer Ms Mackinnon has had previous contact with the complainers.

The court concludes the investigation was “unlawful” and “tainted by apparent bias”.

Ms Evans releases a statement apologising to “all involved” and Salmond calls for her to consider her position.

January 13

Sturgeon refers herself to independent advisers to rule on whether she breached the ministerial code in her meetings with Salmond.

January 15

MSPs agree to hold a Holyrood inquiry into the government’s handling of the complaints against Salmond.

January 23

Police Scotland arrest Salmond.

January 24

Salmond appears at Edinburgh Sheriff Court and is charged with several sexual offences, including attempted rape, which he denies.

August 2

The Scottish Government pays £511,250 to Salmond in connection with the judicial review.

February 26, 2020

The Scottish Parliament Committee on the Scottish Government Handling of Harassment Complaint meets for the first time.

March 9

Salmond’s criminal trial starts at the High Court in Edinburgh.

March 23

Salmond is acquitted on all charges.

The jury returns not guilty verdicts on 12 charges, including attempted rape, and a further not proven verdict is returned on a charge of sexual assault with intent to rape.

August 18

The Committee on the Scottish Government Handling of Harassment Complaints hears evidence from its first witness, the permanent secretary.

September 29

Committee convener Linda Fabiani warns their investigation is being “completely frustrated” by a lack of evidence from key witnesses, and accuses the Scottish Government of “obstruction”.

November 4

The Scottish Parliament passes a motion demanding the government reveals the legal advice it received during the judicial review.

December 18

The inquiry into the Salmond affair reaches an agreement with the Scottish Government over access to previously undisclosed material.

January 13, 2021

Salmond rejects an invitation to appear before the committee in person on February 19, citing public health grounds.

January 20

Salmond alleges the Scottish Government’s “reprehensible” failure to release “crucial” documents had put him at a disadvantage in both his criminal trial and legal challenge against the government’s investigation.

In written evidence to the committee, he says his legal team will ask the Lord Advocate whether the government was in contempt of court over the “withholding of relevant evidence”.

January 26

Salmond refuses another offer to appear before the committee the following week.

January 27

The committee offers a final date – February 8 – for Salmond to appear to give evidence.

January 29

The Crown Office confirms it has handed over evidence to the Holyrood inquiry.

It allows the unprecedented step of MSPs issuing a notice to the Crown Office under part of the Scotland Act, demanding the release of documents detailing text or WhatsApp communications between SNP chief operating officer Susan Ruddick and Scottish Government ministers, civil servants or special advisers.

It also asks for any documents linked to the leaking of complaints to the Daily Record newspaper in August 2018.

February 3

Salmond brands the behaviour of the current Scottish Government a “disgrace”, in a written submission to the inquiry.

He accuses Ms Evans of having a “bias” against him.

He also claims the “overwhelming likelihood” is that someone in the government leaked details of the case against him to the press.

February 8

Salmond declines to appear before the harassment committee over concerns about the committee not publishing his evidence.

His submission, published elsewhere online, accused Sturgeon of breaching the ministerial code with “false and manifestly untrue” statements to parliament, which she denies.

Salmond’s lawyers say he “cannot take his oath to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth” until a number of concerns were addressed, including the publication of the evidence by the committee and concerns about him being “in legal jeopardy”.

February 25

Alex Salmond agrees to appear before the Holyrood inquiry after his evidence is published in a redacted form following a long drawn-out saga.

February 26

Salmond gives evidence to the Holyrood committee.

He says Scotland’s “leadership has failed” and calls for the Lord Advocate and the head of Scotland’s civil service, Leslie Evans, to resign over the handling of the complaints against him.

He says he has “no doubt” Sturgeon broke rules governing the behaviour of ministers, but stops short of saying she should resign.

March 2

The Scottish Conservatives call on Sturgeon to resign after the Scottish Government published legal advice related to the botched investigation.

Deputy first minister John Swinney agreed to hand over the legal advice under threat of a no-confidence vote, and acknowledged “reservations were raised” by government lawyers about the way allegations about Salmond were investigated.

The Scottish Conservatives say they will submit a no-confidence motion in the First Minister.


Coronavirus: No further deaths as 211 new cases recorded

The Scottish Government also confirmed that 2,744,231 Scots have received their first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.

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Covid-19: The fight to stop the spread of the deadly virus goes on.

There have been 211 new cases of Covid-19 recorded in the last 24 hours, the Scottish Government has confirmed.

However, there have been no new deaths from people who have tested positive for the virus.

The death toll of those who tested positive stands at 7642, however weekly figures on suspected Covid-19 deaths recorded by National Records of Scotland suggest the most up-to-date total is now more than 10,000.

The daily test positivity rate is 1.6%, up from the 1.2% reported on Saturday.

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The Scottish Government also confirmed that 2,744,231 Scots have received their first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.

A total of 738,420 people have received their second dose.


‘Life is on hold’: Mum’s plea two years on from son’s murder

Tony Ferns died after being assaulted in his Audi A3 in Thornliebank during 2019.

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Appeal: Tony Ferns died with his mother Phyllis watching on.

A mother has said her “life is on hold” as she made an appeal for information two years on from her son’s murder in Glasgow.

Tony Ferns was in his Audi A3 in Crebar Street, Thornliebank, on Thursday April 18, 2019, when a man approached and assaulted him.

The 33-year-old managed to make it home with serious injuries to Roukenburn Street, where paramedics fought to save his life.

However Mr Ferns died with his mother Phyllis watching on.

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A murder inquiry was launched and more than 600 people have been spoken to as officers examined thousands of hours of CCTV footage.

Two years on, his mother has appealed to members of the public for help, saying: “I cannot believe it is now two years since my son Tony was brutally murdered and taken away from me forever.

“My life is on hold. I have not been able to move on or accept the fact I won’t see my boy again.

“I need closure. I need the person or persons responsible to be prosecuted.

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“I appeal and plead with anyone who has any information to contact police or Crimestoppers.”

Crimestoppers is also offering a reward of up to £10,000 for information which assists the investigation into Mr Ferns’ murder.

Detective Chief Inspector Gillian Grant, who is now leading the inquiry, said: “I am determined to find whoever is responsible for Tony’s murder. It’s clear he was a much-loved son and partner and is deeply missed by his family.

“I am convinced there are people out there who have information, vital to this investigation, who have failed to come forward.

“This may be down to fear or some misplaced loyalty to those responsible for this horrific crime, but please do the right thing and contact us, you can be assured your information will be treated in the utmost confidence.

“Phyllis had to watch her son, Tony, suffer and die, something no mother should have to go through.

“Put yourself in her shoes and think how she must feel, does she not deserve to know why her son was murdered and taken from her? Please help us find answers for a mother who deserves to know the truth.”

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Anyone with information is asked to call Police Scotland via 101, quoting incident number 4732 of 18 April 2019, or call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 where you can give your information anonymously.


UK scientists ‘must learn’ about Indian Covid variant

Seventy-seven cases have been detected in the UK, including four in Scotland and 73 in England.

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Scientists urged to speed up Indian variant analysis.

UK scientists must urgently learn as much as possible about the Indian Covid-19 variant, a leading epidemiologist has warned.

Mike Tildesley, a member of the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling (Spi-M), said as much information about the new variant must be gathered “as quickly as possible”.

He said: “What’s concerning about the Indian variant is there appear to be two mutations which… may make the vaccines less effective, and may make the virus more transmissible.”

According to the latest update, 77 confirmed cases of the B.1.617 variant, which was first discovered in India, have been detected in the UK, including four in Scotland and 73 in England.

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However, UK environment secretary George Eustice said there is no evidence that the Indian variant of coronavirus is able to “get around” the vaccine.

He said: “The last I think I saw… there were around 70 cases. But I think I’ve seen lots of different numbers on different variants – you’ll appreciate, there is quite a few – so it is a fairly small number at the moment. But it is something that we are watching.

“I’m told that there is no evidence at the moment that this particular variant is able to get around the vaccine, for instance, or indeed that it is necessarily more contagious than the others,” he told Sky News On Sunday.

Dr Hopkins, chief medical adviser for NHS Test and Trace added: “We have seen a couple of cases [of the Indian variant] that haven’t arisen from travel but we’re still trying to undergo the investigations to look in great detail at where they might have acquired it from.

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“To escalate it up the ranking we need to know that it is increased transmissibility, increased severity or vaccine evading, and we just don’t have that yet.”


Rangers end Celtic’s grip on Scottish Cup with 2-0 win at Ibrox

Steven Gerrard's side continued their dominant domestic form to knock out their rivals.

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Steven Davis opened the scoring with an acrobatic volley.

Rangers have beaten Celtic 2-0 in their Scottish Cup fourth round clash at Ibrox.

Steven Gerrard’s side, who have already clinched the Premiership title this season, are on course for a domestic double while Celtic’s difficult season continues and the Parkhead club lost their grip on the last of the three trophies they were defending from last season.

Rangers went ahead after just ten minutes when an attack on the right saw a cross spin up and into the box. Steven Davis met the ball with an acrobatic volley that Scott Bain couldn’t stop.

Celtic responded with shots from Odsonne Edouard and Callum McGregor but missed a golden chance after 24 minutes. A low cross from the left came into the path of Stephen Welsh right in front of goal but the defender steered it back the way it came when he had the goal at his mercy.

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Rangers went further ahead ten minutes later and the move yet again came down their right flank, with Joe Aribo beating Diego Laxalt before hitting the line and firing in a cross that Jonjoe Kenny knocked into his own net under pressure from Ryan Kent.

After the break David Turnbull tested Allan McGregor with a fierce shot from outside the box as Celtic looked to gain a foothold in the game.

The visitors then had another huge chance when Mohamed Elyounoussi’s shot was blocked by McGregor but spun up and into Odsonne Edouard, who flicked the ball over the bar with the goal gaping.

Rangers had further chances. With Kent and Alfredo Morelos trying to beat Bain in quick succession but Celtic kept them out while pushing for a goal of their own.

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The chance with just over ten minutes to go. Leigh Griffiths, brough on for Ryan Christie, was fouled by Joe Aribo in the box and Celtic had a penalty.

Edouard took responsibility from the spot but McGregor dived to parry away his penalty and complete Celtic’s misery.

Neither side could find a goal in the final minutes and Rangers took victory, and progress to next week’s cup quarter-finals where they will meet St Johnstone.


Sturgeon insists SNP manifesto ‘designed to unite Scotland’

Policy proposals, published this week, set out plans to hold a second vote on Scottish independence by the end of 2023.

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Nicola Sturgeon has insisted the SNP’s election manifesto is designed to 'unite Scotland'.

Nicola Sturgeon has insisted the SNP’s election manifesto is designed to “unite Scotland” as the country looks to recover from coronavirus.

While the policy proposals, published this week, set out plans to hold a second vote on Scottish independence by the end of 2023, it also promised free dental treatment, extended childcare and a “green transport revolution” – including giving bikes to youngsters who could not otherwise afford them.

Sturgeon insisted the manifesto, put forward in the run-up to the Scottish Parliament election on May 6, is the “most bold and ambitious” the SNP has produced.

Her comments came as she urged Scots to vote for her party, “to re-elect me as First Minister and for a serious government which will deliver the fairer and more prosperous Scotland that we all want to see”.

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She vowed that in addition to this she would give “the people of Scotland a choice over their future once the Covid crisis has passed”.

Her political rivals have claimed if the SNP wins a majority in next month’s Holyrood elections, Ms Sturgeon will be focused on independence and not ensuring Scotland recovers from the pandemic.

Speaking about her party’s manifesto, Sturgeon said: “It is designed to unite Scotland around shared goals as we lead the country through the pandemic and into a sustainable recovery.”

The SNP leader stated: “At the heart of our plans is a belief that the recovery must benefit everyone.

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“We cannot simply wind the clock back to 2019 – we must be prepared to make long-term investments which will provide much-needed support to families right now, but will also have long-term benefits for our health and wellbeing.

“I’m proud that the SNP has delivered a massive increase in childcare provision, has rolled out free school meals to all P1 to P3 pupils, abolished prescription charges and introduced the Scottish Child Payment.

“But now is the time to build on these ambitions by going even further.”

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Sturgeon calls for four-nations Covid-19 inquiry this year.

The First Minister also said a four-nations inquiry into the coronavirus pandemic should begin this year.

Sturgeon said she had already committed to an inquiry covering Scotland in 2021, but said a UK-wide inquiry could also look at issues affecting each nation.

The Prime Minister has previously said he supported holding an inquiry into the UK’s response to Covid-19 but a timescale has not yet been set.

The SNP’s election manifesto says there should be a “person-centred” public inquiry that would hear from those who have lost loved ones to the virus.

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Sturgeon said: “I am committed to establishing in Scotland a judge-led public inquiry to examine all aspects of our handling of the pandemic – including the situation in our care homes – and to have this under way before the end of this year.

“This will happen in Scotland whether or not it happens in other parts of the UK.

“However, there is no doubt it would be beneficial to have an inquiry that could look across the four nations as well as at specific issues within each nation – this would help provide answers to families, businesses and all those who have made sacrifices over the last year.

“I hope all governments across the UK will join me in committing to a full public inquiry starting later this year.”


Man repeatedly stabbed in arms and chest during attack

The 29-year-old was attacked on a dirt track in Dumbarton around 10.20pm on Saturday evening.

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Stabbed: Man treated at Royal Alexandra Hospital in Paisley following attack.

A man has been seriously injured after being repeatedly stabbed in an attack in Dumbarton. 

The 29-year-old was stabbed in the arms and chest during the incident on a dirt track near the gas works off Castlegreen Street around 10.20pm on Saturday.

He was taken to the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Paisley, where he was treated for serious but not life-threatening injuries.

Police want to identify two men, both aged around 17 to 20 years old, following the attack.

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One is described as being around 5ft 9in tall and of slim build. He was wearing dark trainers, dark jogging bottoms and a dark top – either a hoodie or jacket – with the hood up.

The other was around 5ft 5in tall and of medium build. He was wearing dark trainers, jogging bottoms and a grey jacket with the hood up. The jacket is a synthetic shiny material.

DC Aislinn MacLeod of Clydebank Police Station said: “Our enquiries into this incident are ongoing and anyone with information is asked to come forward.

“If you were in the area and saw or heard something suspicious then please get in touch. Similarly if you were driving in the area and may have dashcam footage then please review this and come forward if you believe you can help our investigation.

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“Please call 101 with any information, quoting incident 5116 of 17 April, or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.”


Tories pledge to boost ‘neglected’ rural communities

Douglas Ross launched the Tories rural manifesto on Sunday, with proposals to help create jobs in the sector.

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Rural: Tories launch manifesto to help support 'neglected' communities.

Rural communities that have been “neglected” by the SNP must not be left behind as Scotland recovers from Covid, the leader of the Scottish Conservatives has said.

Launching the party’s rural manifesto at a farm in Inverurie on Sunday, Douglas Ross outlined a number of proposals to create jobs, improve infrastructure and restore public services in rural areas.

The plans include £550m in Community Investment Deals worth up to £25m each to help rural areas bounce back after the pandemic.

The Tories also pledged to end uncertainty for Scotland’s farmers by launching a full public consultation on a blueprint to replace the Common Agricultural Policy within 100 days of the election.

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Start-up grants for young farmers and new entrants would be reopened, while an extra £5m a year would be invested in agricultural research and development.

The manifesto also includes a commitment to review sentencing and penalties for rural crime and to put an end to higher delivery charges to remote parts of Scotland.

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross said: “Scotland’s rural communities have been neglected by the SNP for too long.

“They have been held back by poor infrastructure, diminished services and a lack of clarity for farmers – this must change now.

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“Rural areas must not be left behind as Scotland recovers from Covid-19, so we have set out plans to spread economic growth and improve public services.

“We want to create jobs in these areas, so that no one needs to move away from where they have grown up to find work.

“From rolling out full fibre broadband to ensuring councils receive fair funding, the Scottish Conservatives will give rural areas the support they need to thrive.

“For farmers, we have committed to end the uncertainty by launching a full public consultation on a blueprint for Scotland’s new agricultural policy within 100 days of the election.

“The SNP have dallied and delayed for too long. We would work with the farming sector to design a simple and fair system that works for Scottish farmers and crofters.

“I am committed to putting a stop to the SNP’s centralisation agenda and representing rural communities, so their voices are heard loud and clear at Holyrood.”


Scottish Labour manifesto launch delayed to Thursday

Anas Sarwar said despite the delays he had nevertheless been setting out his policies on job creation and economic recovery.

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Sarwar said the launch date had been pushed back for a second time.

Anas Sarwar has claimed Scottish Labour’s manifesto launch has been delayed to Thursday due to an “unscheduled” coronavirus announcement from the Scottish Government set for Tuesday.

Sarwar said the launch date had been pushed back for a second time – following the delay to the original launch due to the suspension of campaigning after the Duke of Edinburgh’s death.

However, the First Minister has previously indicated she would be likely to give an announcement this Tuesday.

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Sturgeon has previously indicated she would be likely to give an announcement this Tuesday.

The Scottish Labour leader said despite the delays he had nevertheless been setting out his policies on job creation and economic recovery.

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During an appearance on the BBC’s Sunday Show, Sarwar said the original launch had been planned for Monday but was cancelled due to a halt in campaigning, while other parties had been doing their own launches later in the week.

He said they had planned to move to this coming Tuesday but there was “an unscheduled Scottish Government statement now on Covid, despite us seeking clarification from the government on that”.

Sarwar continued: “We’ve been told to expect a statement from the Scottish Government that was unscheduled.

“So we’re having to move our manifesto date again.”

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He said this was “frustrating” but the party had not been waiting for its manifesto launch to set out its policies on economic stimulus and tackling child poverty.

The next easing of coronavirus restrictions is due to take place on April 26, when indoor opening of hospitality will be permitted.

Sarwar also attacked Nicola Sturgeon’s record in government, saying NHS treatment times had grown poorer.

He said: “She’s taken her eye off the ball on drugs deaths, she’s taken her eye off the ball on the NHS, she’s taken her eye off the ball in terms of her suicide rates across the country, she’s taken her eye off the ball on education.

“We need an effective Labour opposition in the next parliament to make sure she keeps her eye on the ball for the recovery and not focussed by her own priorities.”

The Scottish Government said ministers had a duty to communicate public health updates and plans were being kept under review.

At her briefing on Tuesday April 13, Sturgeon said she was “likely” to do another briefing the following Tuesday.

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Sturgeon tweeted on Sunday: “Tuesday’s Covid briefing isn’t unscheduled (last Tuesday’s was).

“It has been scheduled for weeks – indeed, those watching the briefing I did on April 6 would have heard me signal it.”

Sarwar responded with a tweet of his own, saying: “Nicola Sturgeon’s own Minister told me that the ‘scheduled’ briefing this week had been brought forward to last week, so not to expect one.

“I want this campaign to be about ideas – not TV schedules – so we’ve moved again to ensure we don’t clash with a public health announcement.”


Hibs forwards earn Jack Ross praise after comfortable cup win

Christian Doidge, Kevin Nisbet and martin Boyle were all on the scoresheet in their 4-0 win.

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Ross said his attacker have all hit form.

Hibernian head coach Jack Ross savoured the contribution of his in-form strikeforce after a 4-0 Scottish Cup win at Stranraer.

Christian Doidge and Kevin Nisbet were on target before Martin Boyle struck twice, including from the penalty spot.

The trio have now scored their team’s last 11 goals between them and 14 of the last 15.

Their form is sure to give Hibs confidence ahead of next weekend’s quarter-final against Motherwell at Easter Road.

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Ross said: “They have been like that all season. When you look at the amount of goals the three of them have contributed, they are all in double figures, which is terrific.

“I was laughing in the dugout, you could argue there’s a case for looking for goals from other areas of the pitch. But if you have three forward players that are producing that, there’s not many teams across the country that have got that.

“They are all on good form at this stage of the season which is great.”

Boyle in particular is in a purple patch with nine goals in 11 matches. The winger also set up a series of chances at Stair Park.

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“I think he’s had a brilliant season,” Ross said. “The expectations on him are so high that whenever he comes off it a little bit….

“But if you look at his goals and assists across the season he will be up there with any players in the country.

“When he is super confident like that he’s a brilliant player, a major, major asset to us.”

Stranraer boss Stevie Farrell bemoaned a near miss for his side with the score at 1-0 when Darryl Duffy inadvertently blocked Tam Orr’s goalbound effort.

“I thought Hibs had brought on another centre-half,” Farrell joked.

“I just watched it there and it was going right in the bottom corner.

“They are the wee defining moments that can change games but Hibs thoroughly deserved their victory.

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“You can see why they are the third-ranked team in the country at the minute.

“Their movement is excellent and I said that to the players, don’t be too despondent because you can learn from that.

“But we did well. That was our fourth game in a week and it was always going to be difficult.” 


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