MSPs rule Alex Salmond inquiry submission can be published

Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body conclusion paves the way for ex-first minister to give evidence to Holyrood committee.

Alex Salmond alleges that First Minister Nicola Sturgeon broke the ministerial code in his submission. Jane Barlow via PA Media
Alex Salmond alleges that First Minister Nicola Sturgeon broke the ministerial code in his submission.

A submission from former first minister Alex Salmond in which he alleges his predecessor Nicola Sturgeon broke the ministerial code can be published, a key Holyrood body has ruled.

The Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body (SPCB) concluded “on balance” it would be “possible” for the document to be published.

The move could clear the way for the former first minister to give evidence to the Holyrood committee which is probing the Scottish Government’s botched handling of harassment allegations against him – which saw Salmond win a £512,000 payout following a case at the Court of Session in Edinburgh.

MSPs on the Committee on the Scottish Government Handling of Harassment Complaints have previously decided against publishing the submission Salmond made to a separate inquiry, which is considering whether Sturgeon breached the ministerial code.


Holyrood Presiding Officer Ken Macintosh, in a letter to committee convener Linda Fabiani, said that the SPCB, which met twice to discuss the issue on Thursday, had “collectively agreed that on balance it is possible to publish the submission by Alex Salmond on the ministerial code”.

Macintosh, who was responding on behalf of the SPCB, said however that the “decision in principle to publish must now be followed by the processing of the submission in line with the committee’s evidence handling statement”.

On Wednesday evening, MSPs on the committee narrowly voted against publishing, because of legal concerns over the identity of complainers in a separate criminal trial against Salmond last year, where he was cleared of 13 charges at the High Court in Edinburgh.

While the former first minister’s submission to the Hamilton Inquiry has not been published as yet by the committee it has been made public online, with the former SNP leader claiming in it that the “Parliament has been repeatedly misled on a number of occasions about the nature of the meeting” he had with Sturgeon at her home on April 2 2018.


Sturgeon has insisted throughout that she did not breach the ministerial code which sets out how government ministers should behave.

Salmond claimed that while Ms Sturgeon had told MSPs that she first learned of allegations against him at that meeting this was “untrue and is a breach of the ministerial code”.

Instead, Salmond claimed his former chief of staff Geoff Aberdein had “personally discussed the existence of the complaints, and summarised the substance of the complaints” in a meeting with Sturgeon in Holyrood on March 29.

Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser, a member of the committee, welcomed the decision from the SPCB.

He said: “This is the right decision.

“The public deserve to know how £500,000 of taxpayers’ money was lost and why women were so badly let down.

“We must hear Alex Salmond’s side of the story to uncover what really happened.


“This welcome decision makes that possible.”

A Scottish Parliament spokeswoman said: “The Committee notes the decision of the SPCB. Mr Salmond’s submission will now be processed in line with the Committee’s statement on the handling of information, ahead of publication early next week.

“The Committee will be writing to Mr Salmond to invite him to give evidence to the Committee on February 24.”

A spokesman for the First Minister said: “The publication of this submission changes nothing as far as the First Minister is concerned, as she has always expected to be questioned on its contents.

“The only frustration is that she has still not had the chance to rebut the claims and conspiracy stories that have been levelled at her – and has lost count of how many times she has agreed to appear before the committee, only for the date to be postponed.”

Covid alert level lowered as threat to NHS ‘reduced’

The decision to reduce the alert to Level 4 has been made by the UK’s four chief medical officers.

Thomas Barwick via Getty Images
The UK’s Covid-19 alert level has been lowered.

The UK’s Covid-19 alert level has been lowered as the country’s top medics said the threat of the NHS being overwhelmed has receded.

The Level 5 alert was announced on January 4 as lockdown measures were introduced amid fears the health service could be swamped.

The decision to reduce the alert to Level 4 has now been made by the UK’s four chief medical officers because the number of cases in hospital are “consistently declining”.

Scotland’s Dr Gregor Smith, England’s Professor Chris Whitty, Northern Ireland’s Dr Michael McBride, Wales’s Dr Frank Atherton, along with NHS England’s Professor Stephen Powis, announced the decision on Thursday following advice from the Joint Biosecurity Centre.


They said health services across the four nations “remain under significant pressure with a high number of patients in hospital”, but thanks to the efforts of the public numbers are now “consistently declining, and the threat of the NHS and other health services being overwhelmed within 21 days has receded”.

They added: “We should be under no illusions – transmission rates, hospital pressures and deaths are still very high.

“In time, the vaccines will have a major impact and we encourage everyone to get vaccinated when they receive the offer.

“However for the time being it is really important that we all – vaccinated or not – remain vigilant and continue to follow the guidelines.”


The alert level move comes as First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced more than 1.5 million Scots have been given their first coronavirus vaccination.

Speaking at the Scottish Parliament on Thursday, she said 1,515,980 people had now received their first dose of the vaccine, an increase of 27,903 in the last 24 hours. 

Almost one third of the adult population in Scotland have now been given their first coronavirus vaccine, which Sturgeon called “an important milestone”.

Will Salmond produce a performance to bring down Sturgeon?

When Alex Salmond appears before MSPs, he has the opportunity - after a prolonged silence - to fight not for a cause but for himself.

Jeff J Mitchell via Getty Images
Alex Salmond with Nicola Sturgeon in 2014 after delivering his last keynote speech as SNP leader.

Alex Salmond will give evidence on Friday to the Scottish Parliamentary committee investigating how harassment procedures adopted by the Scottish Government came to be deemed unlawful at a cost of nearly £600,000 to the public purse.

The fallout from that event has led to a civil war within the SNP as the party’s two most significant leaders fight an increasingly bitter battle, which appeared to start in a dispute over process and is now a head-on clash over their respective integrity.

At one point in today’s exchanges at First Minister’s Questions, Nicola Sturgeon accused the Scottish Conservative Holyrood leader Ruth Davidson of resting questions on “the altar of the ego of one man”. Yesterday, she accused her predecessor, Salmond, of peddling an “alternative reality”.

This is not just political, it is now personal. Assuming they can’t both be right about the events in question, this now looks like a fight ending in the shredding of one reputation.

Whatever comes out of the Holyrood committee inquiry or that being conducted by James Hamilton QC into whether the First Minster broke the ministerial code, it is now a certain bet that the opposition parties will use whatever ammunition may flow from these reports to make an election issue of Sturgeon’s conduct.

The focus of opposition attacks has shifted the longer this affair has dragged on. They have now broadened their concerns to ask why the Crown Office sought to redact Salmond’s evidence to the committee.

Ruth Davidson told MSPs on Thursday the redacted parts were the paragraphs that expose the First Minister, claiming that there was “a culture of secrecy and cover-up”, before asking: “Is saving your own skin worth all the damage that you are doing?”

Sturgeon was having none of it. Cover-up? She had actually explained her actions in a submission to the committee anyone can access on the web. Conspiracy? It was the opposition who have peddled that and in the process have sought to undermine confidence in the independence of the Crown Office.

Jackie Baillie for Labour always seems to needle the First Minister more. She is also pretty unflappable in pursuing her question even with attendant noises from the government benches.

She claimed the identity of one of the women making allegations was revealed at a meeting with Alex Salmond’s former chief of staff Geoff Aberdein, which was “an extraordinary breach of confidentiality”. She wanted to know on whose authority the name of the complainer was revealed.

The First Minister seemed bemused that in pursuing this line, Baillie was accepting Salmond’s account as being beyond reproach. The Labour politician brought howls from the government benches with her assertion that there was “something rotten at the core of the SNP”.

The Scottish Liberal Democrat Leader Willie Rennie pursued the same point. He said: “Jackie Baillie’s just made a very serious point about the handing of the name of a complainer over to Alex Salmond’s chief of staff”. He asked the First Minister to be clear that did not happen. Nicola Sturgeon replied “to the best of my knowledge I do not think that happened”.

So where does this week leave us?

Well, it means the noise around this, already pretty loud, just got louder. The role of the Crown Office has been questioned, too, with some MSPs believing their intervention has sought to censor Salmond’s evidence and limit scrutiny of it.

From the government’s point of view, their intervention has been entirely a matter for the independent office of Lord Advocate and was for legal reasons for which they are accountable.

Still, the allegations of conspiracy abound with those close to Salmond believing his criminal prosecution was rooted in concerted efforts to frame him for political reasons.

Now the best conspiracies are the ones that can be proved. I doubt the remit of the two existing inquiries is wide enough in scope to allow Salmond to put on record all of the evidence he says he has to prove the conspiracy. For that reason, I do not believe that the testimony he will give tomorrow will be the final word on all of this.

What has been noticeable this week is that Sturgeon has become increasingly bullish and has gone on the offensive. For much of the last couple of years, her tone has smacked of “more in sorrow than anger”. Not now. The gloves are off and some of her remarks this week are truly astonishing given that they are directed at her mentor and friend of 30 years.

She has also thrown down a challenge to Salmond. Show us the evidence of conspiracy. In short, put up or shut up.

In his long career culminating in leading the Yes side in the 2014 independence referendum, Salmond has argued for his beliefs and rolled with the punches that come with politics at a high level.

Rarely, if ever, has he had to fight for his reputation. When he takes the oath at 12.30pm tomorrow before MSPs, he has the opportunity, after a prolonged silence, to fight not for a cause but for himself.

The master of the big occasion needs a big performance as he finally gets the chance to put on the record why he believes his reputation has been traduced.

Thousands of jobs under threat at supermarket giant Asda

The supermarket giant has launched consultations with around 5000 workers.

© Google Maps 2020
Asda has launched consultations with around 5000 staff.

Asda has launched consultations with around 5000 staff over a major restructuring which could put around 3000 back office store workers at risk.

The supermarket giant said the restructuring has been driven by the “structural shift” towards online grocery shopping during the pandemic.

The grocery firm said it also plans to create around 4500 separate jobs in its online operations this year and will look to hire staff impacted by the potential cuts.

Nevertheless, Asda said the consultations will impact about 3000 back office store workers, particularly affecting staff with cash and administrative roles amid the continued slump in cash transactions.


The firm said it plans to close its Dartford and Heston home shopping centres, with around 800 jobs affected, as it looks to shift more picking operations into stores.

It added that around 1100 of its store management roles will be changed to support online grocery operations as more picking takes place in stores.

However, the company said this could increase the total headcount in these roles by around 60, as part of the consultations.

Roger Burnley, Asda chief executive and president, said: “The pandemic has accelerated change across the retail sector, especially the shift towards grocery home shopping, and our priority is to serve customers in the way they want to shop with us.


“The last 12 months have shown us that businesses have to be prepared to adapt quickly to change and I am incredibly proud of the way we demonstrated our agility and resilience through the pandemic.

“We know that these proposed changes will be unsettling for colleagues and our priority is to support them during this consultation process.

“Our plans to transform the business will result in more roles being created than those we propose to remove and our absolute aim is to ensure as many colleagues as possible stay with us, as well as creating the opportunity to welcome new people to our business.”

It comes months after the billionaire Issa brothers and private equity backer TDR Capital agreed a £6.8bn deal for the supermarket chain.

The takeover is still awaiting approval from competition regulators, so the new owners are yet to take control of Asda’s operations.

Roger Jenkins, GMB National Officer, said: “Asda workers have had a torrid two years. The failed Sainsbury’s takeover, twelve months working on the pandemic frontline and now the uncertainty of a new take over, sidling the company with huge debts and potential sell-offs.

“This is the last thing they need.


“The scope of today’s announcement means 5000 people have their lives put on hold. It’s not right

“Asda is a profitable company that does not need to enforce redundancies.

“GMB will battle hard to make sure no one leaves their job unless they want to.”

Sydney Devine’s funeral cortege passes mourners at theatre

Dozens of people gathered to pay their respects to the singer, who died earlier this month aged 81.

STV News

The funeral of Scottish entertainer Sydney Devine has taken place. 

Mourners gathered at Alloway Parish Church in Ayrshire on Thursday to pay their respects to the singer, who died earlier this month aged 81.

The funeral cortege then passed by The Gaiety Theatre in Ayr, where dozens of people gathered to offer a final farewell to the star, breaking into applause as the hearse passed by. 

Glasgow Pavillion via Facebook
Scottish singer Sydney Devine died earlier this month.

One woman who stood to pay her respects said it was “quite a big day for locals”.


The cortege then moved on to Ayr cemetery on Holmstone Road, where he was laid to rest. 

STV News
People gathered to applaud the late star outside The Gaiety Theatre.

Devine was best known for his rendition of ‘Tiny Bubbles’ and had sold millions of records throughout his career. 

Tributes poured in following his death, with the First Minister saying Devine was a “true legend” of Scottish entertainment.

Iain Gordon, manager of Glasgow’s Pavilion Theatre where Mr Devine regularly performed, said “he was the ultimate showman and performer”.

SNP remain on course for Holyrood majority – STV poll

Support for the party and independence has fallen slightly since the last poll.

ewg3D via Getty Images

The SNP remain on course for a majority at the Scottish Parliamentary election in May, according to a new STV News/Ipsos MORI poll.

However, support for the party has slipped slightly, with the ongoing Alex Salmond inquiry making some voters think twice.

Backing for Scottish independence has also fallen in the latest poll – although 52% of the most likely voters said they would back separation from the rest of the UK.

Scotland goes to the ballot box on May 6, with the poll projecting that the SNP will win 72 of the 129 seats – nine more than now and giving them a majority of 15.


The Scottish Conservatives would be the second biggest party on 26 seats, with Scottish Labour on 17, the Scottish Greens on nine and the Scottish Liberal Democrats on five.

Ipsos MORI polled a base of 1031 voters in Scotland between February 15-21.

Emily Gray, managing director of Ipsos MORI Scotland, said: “This latest poll from Ipsos MORI and STV News shows a fall in support for independence, and a corresponding increase in support for staying in the union – though Yes still has a four-point lead over No.

“That’s important for Scotland’s political parties, since independence is the top issue voters say will help them make up their minds about which party to vote for in May’s Holyrood elections.


“At this point the SNP look on course to win a majority of seats, but the next few weeks are set to be challenging for the party, with the Salmond inquiry ongoing.”

Voting intention

Constituency vote

• SNP: 52% (-3 compared with November 20-26)
• Scottish Conservatives: 23% (+1)
• Scottish Labour: 15% (+1)
• Scottish Liberal Democrats: 5% (-1)
• Scottish Green Party: 3% (+2)
• Other: 2% (unchanged)

Regional list vote

• SNP: 47% (unchanged)
• Scottish Conservatives: 22% (unchanged)
• Scottish Labour: 14% (-2)
• Scottish Green Party: 8% (+1)
• Scottish Liberal Democrats: 6% (unchanged)
• Other: 3% (+1)

Salmond impact

The ongoing inquiry into how the Scottish Government botched its investigation into harassment claims against the former first minister Alex Salmond is affecting some voters’ thoughts.

Among a number of claims, Salmond says his successor Nicola Sturgeon breached the ministerial code. If that’s proved in a separate investigation due to conclude in the coming weeks, the First Minister would be under huge pressure to resign.


The poll found that 36% of all voters and 21% of those who voted SNP at the 2019 general election felt ‘less favourably’ towards the party as a result of the Salmond saga.


There’s been a four-point reduction in support for Scottish independence since the last STV News/Ipsos MORI poll in November.

Backing for separation from the UK now leads 52-48 – a shift from 56-44 in the previous projection.

And while 56% believe an SNP majority in May should lead to a second referendum within the next five years, that’s down eight points from the previous poll.


Nicola Sturgeon retains a sizeable lead in the satisfaction stakes, although her approval rating has fallen from 72% to 64% since November.

Scottish Conservatives leader Douglas Ross’ popularity has increased, with 28% satisfied with his performance, up from 22%.

Willie Rennie of the Scottish Lib Dems and Patrick Harvie of the Greens both leave 35% of voters satisfied.

What matters to voters?

Voters were asked what issues they considered ‘very important’ when deciding which party to support.

  • Scottish independence: 44%
  • Education: 32%
  • Healthcare/NHS: 25%
  • Coronavirus: 20%
  • Managing the economy: 18%
  • Brexit: 12%
  • Environment/climate change: 12%

Scotland has ‘not been close to eliminating coronavirus’

Professor Mark Woolhouse tells Holyrood committee that actual number of positive cases never fell below 500.

Andrew Milligan via PA Media
A scientific adviser has told MSPs Scotland has never been close to eliminating coronavirus.

Scotland has never been close to eliminating coronavirus at any stage of the pandemic, a scientific adviser to the Scottish Government has said.

Professor Mark Woolhouse contradicted First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s repeated insistence that Scotland was “close” to eliminating the virus after the first wave last summer.

Giving evidence to Holyrood’s Covid-19 Committee, the chair of infectious disease epidemiology at the University of Edinburgh instead said the actual number of positive cases never fell below 500, according to “very well validated” modelling.

He told MSPs: “Scotland was not close to elimination at any stage during this epidemic.”


Although the number of cases actually reported were low between the first and second waves, he argued it is a “misinterpretation” to suggest Covid-19 was close to elimination because of the sheer number of infected people who did not get tested.

There was a “dramatic increase” in positive cases among younger people who possibly did not have symptoms that were discovered when testing capacity increased, Professor Woolhouse said.

He explained that genome sequencing to identify strains “showed quite clearly that the lineages that were present in the first wave in Scotland were still present in the second wave”.

He concluded: “So we were not close to elimination in Scotland.”


Last June, Sturgeon said Scotland was “not far away” from eliminating coronavirus and she has since repeated the suggestion the country had nearly eradicated the virus before new strains were brought in through overseas and cross-border travel.

Professor Woolhouse also argued the UK’s death rate is so high because governments focused on lockdown rather than protecting those most vulnerable to coronavirus.

Health Protection Scotland analysis he was involved with estimated that between half and three-quarters of all deaths in the first lockdown were because of infections acquired after the March 23 restrictions came into force.

“What that tells me is we didn’t pay nearly enough attention to doing things beyond lockdown to protect the vulnerable and care homes and the wider community,” he said. “We simply didn’t do that enough.

“All we had was shielding, which wasn’t a particularly effective policy according to most people, and a little bit of extra advice for the over-70s.

“We could have put so much more effort into protecting the people who needed protecting.

“We do now recognise this with care homes; we recognise for care homes we didn’t do enough.


“We need to recognise the same thing is true of the vulnerable people in the community; we didn’t do enough to protect them either.

“Lockdown did not save those peoples and save the majority of those people and I think that’s something we don’t have to reflect on very hard.”

In the Covid-19 Committee’s second evidence session, national clinical director Professor Jason Leitch said there is some concern over prevalence rates of the virus in Scotland.

“It does appear that all four UK countries have stalled,” he told the committee.

“Everybody has got to about 100 (cases) per 100,000 (people) and it’s kind of stopped there.

“In the last week, we’ve gone from 104 to 104, so the last week has given us cause for reflection.

“We still think it’s safe to open schools and early learning, but one of the reasons why we’re suggesting you shouldn’t do much more than that is in order for us to monitor that three-week – incubation period and a half, roughly – to get us to see what happens to the prevalence of the virus across that period.”

With Scotland set to return to a levels system of restrictions after lockdown is lifted, Professor Leitch said measures will be assessed every three weeks, as opposed to weekly as was the case last year.

“We want that to be as simple as it can be,” he told MSPs.

“We don’t want to do it every week, because we think that was too often and created more confusion for the public actually than light.”

Man jailed for naming Salmond accusers on social media

The High Court in Edinburgh heard Clive Thomson named twice named woman on Twitter.

STV News
High Court: Thomson jailed for six months.

A man who named women who gave evidence against Alex Salmond has been jailed for six months.

Clive Thomson, 52, breached a strict court order which prohibited the identification of the complainers who gave evidence at the former first minister’s trial last year.

The High Court in Edinburgh heard how Thomson, of Rosyth, Fife, named the women on Twitter on two different occasions in August last year.

Lady Dorrian – the judge who presided over the trial which resulted in Salmond being acquitted of all charges – passed the order during trial.


Complainers in sexual assault cases cannot be publicly named in order to prevent their privacy being breached.

However, the defence industry worker ignored the order and named the women on the social media network.

The court heard that he knew that he wasn’t supposed to name the women but did so anyway.

He believed he was safe from prosecution because he was holidaying abroad at the time of one of the tweets.


The court also heard that he also sought advice from other Twitter users about how he could get around the court order.

On Thursday, defence advocate Mark Stewart QC urged Lady Dorrian, Lord Pentland and Lord Matthews not to send his client to prison.

But Lady Dorrian said what Thomson did was so wrong that jail was the only option available to the court.

She said: “It is a very serious matter. There are very good reasons why complainers in sexual offences cases are given anonymity.

“The protection is extended by convention to complainers in all cases – not just the one which we are concerned.

“It so happens that the protection in this case was backed up by a specific order by the court to underline the importance and you knew that this order had been made.”

Salmond was cleared of 13 charges of sexual assault earlier this year. A further charge of sexual assault had previously been dropped by prosecutors.


The former first minister had maintained his innocence throughout the two-week long trial which was held in March 2020.

Junior docs: ‘Covid patients our own age give us a shock’

Junior doctors are being hailed as unsung heroes of the crisis, but here they describe the brutal reality on the frontline.

STV News

It has been almost a year since 121 junior doctors graduated early to support Scotland’s biggest health board in its response to coronavirus.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde placed the volunteers at Glasgow Royal Infirmary, Royal Alexandra Hospital, Inverclyde Royal Hospital and the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital – the biggest teaching hospital in the country.

Junior doctors were also placed at other NHS health boards across the country. 

STV News has followed two doctors as they embarked on the start of their careers. 

Ruaraidh’s story


Ruaraidh Campbell’s career started abruptly when he returned from volunteering in Samoa to help the NHS in the fight against coronavirus.

His graduation date was pulled forward by two months, and soon after he started on the wards.

“I thought there’s no point in sitting at home,” the 25-year-old says. “I’ll get there and help if I can.”

Since March, Ruaraidh has worked on the respiratory and orthopaedic wards, and the high-dependency unit.


“We’ve often seen not just one person coming in with Covid, but multiple people close to them.

“It can often mean that multiple family members or friends can all get very sick at the same time. And unfortunately, when people do pass away, that can be really, really tough.

“Sometimes we’re dealing with situations where relatives are passing away in very short time spaces. That can feel very difficult and you come home and you think, ‘well, this could be my mum and dad, this could be my granny and grandad’.

“When you think about that, when you put yourself in the other person’s shoes, it can feel quite heavy at times.”

One of the things that has shocked Ruaraidh the most is the age of some of his patients.

He says: “Another really difficult thing is seeing patients who are approximately our age, who despite being young and fit are very unwell with Covid.

“That always gives you a bit of a shock.”


Senior consultants say it has been the “most challenging year” junior doctors could have had.

“We’ve had to deal with more death and dying than you usually would,” Ruaraidh said. “But more than that it’s dealing with it in a different way.

“With some visiting restrictions that unfortunately had to be in place because of the pandemic, it’s meant you often have to give tough news or deal with patients and families over the phone.

“I always find breaking bad news difficult. It’s an incredibly personal moment and you have to properly prepare for it. Because, however tough it is for you, it’s tougher for the person listening.

“It can be really difficult to speak frankly and honestly and lay out the facts, because you feel like you’ll hurt the person if you do that. But in most cases by being open and honest, that’s an empowering process.

“I remember the first time doing that, having to speak to a patient’s family and say that it’s not good news. I remember caching myself, when they asked me the question ‘is my relative going to die?’.

“It’s a tough question to answer, you need to compose yourself and say ‘unfortunately, yes but this is what we are going to do to make the person comfortable’. 

One of the main problems facing junior doctors is staff illness, with many requiring time off to self-isolate while others work extra shifts to fill the gaps in the rota.

Ruaraidh caught the virus at work.

“I had Covid myself and it really took it out of me,” he says. “Especially for someone who is pretty fit and healthy. I take care of myself and work out most days. It hit me much harder than I thought it would. It was quite nasty and I’ve been quite tired and breathless since.”

Having only worked in Glasgow for a matter of months, Ruaraidh is looking forward to getting to know his new colleagues over a beer when restrictions ease.

“Junior doctors work long hours and shifts can be tough emotionally and physically and when you have time off you value that,” he says.

“It’s been hard outside of work. Because you do a difficult job, there’s this old adage about ‘work hard play hard’ – and I don’t think that’s 100% true anymore, but it speaks to a certain truth that we really valued our time off because after a difficult long job, you want to make the most of your time off.

“And, like everyone else, we’ve struggled with not being able to see our family and our friends and to do the usual hobbies we’d enjoy. So I think that’s been quite tough on people. It’s not just the work but it’s when you come home, it’s been difficult to switch off.”

Ruaraidh’s virtual graduation was a proud day for his family. His mum and older sister are also doctors.

Although he hasn’t been able to see them, his family and girlfriend Sophie have been a great support.

“You have days that are tough, and you do see some sad stuff. And that is the nature of being a junior doctor.

“Sometimes you get home and you just need someone to listen and give you a hug if you’ve had a tough day, which we have quite often.

“I don’t know how often people in a normal job shed a few tears, but it’s not uncommon here.

“I also have my lovely girlfriend, who’s a massive support as well, she brings me back down to earth, she’s fantastic. It’s been tough at times, but that’s experience shared by many people throughout the UK.”

Annie’s Story

Annie Evans moved 400 miles from her family home in Sheffield to start as a junior doctor at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow.

“It’s always going to be difficult to start as a doctor, but when you have to start in a new city, in the middle of a pandemic, when you don’t really know anyone… it was difficult,” she says.

Living so far away from home, Annie hasn’t been able to spend time with her family.

“I think my parents are proud. When I speak to my extended family as well, it’s always quite shock if you’re telling them stories.

STV News
Junior doctor Annie Evans.

“I don’t think anyone realises how difficult it can be.”

Annie also works as a representative for her year of junior doctors. She says an extra focus is being placed on support.

“When the number of deaths goes up, then there are more people that do die in the hospital. And sometimes that can be quite difficult, if you’re having to go in and see that, just because that’s not really why you go into medicine.

“So it can be kind of demoralising when you have to experience lots of death all at the same time.”

Training concerns

Doctors have raised concerns over access to training. Pressures of the pandemic have meant lectures can only take place online, and senior consultants can only do so much to mentor their junior colleagues.

Dr Colin Perry, head of education at NHSGG, agrees that there has been less access to training.

But he believes the experience of the past year will shape an entire generation of junior doctors.

“It’s been the most challenging year that they could have had,” he says.

“A global pandemic of a new disease none of us had ever seen before. And so normally when they would look to us for guidance, and I suppose advise on how to treat these diseases, we’ve had to learn with them about how this disease is developed and in the midst of all of that, this is unfortunately a disease that’s associated with a higher mortality than perhaps they would have seen in the wards.

“Certainly they have had to have deal with perhaps more difficult situations than they may normally have encountered.

“I think they will come out of this having learned a great deal very quickly. And I think that might be one of the lasting impacts of the pandemic.

“And I think that has also changed the way we look at junior doctors. We’re very aware of their needs to training and education, but we do look at them more now as able colleagues, and a great resource within the system.”

Scotland’s Six Nations clash with France postponed

The game, which was due to take place on Sunday, will now be rescheduled for a later date.

SNS Group
The French team and backroom staff have been forced to self-isolate.

Scotland’s Six Nations Rugby match against France has been postponed after a coronavirus outbreak in the French camp.

The whole team and backroom staff have been forced into isolation following the outbreak.

The game, which was due to take place on Sunday, will now be rescheduled for a later date.

Scottish Rugby confirmed the news on Twitter.


Organisers ordered daily testing before announcing on Wednesday that this weekend’s Stade de France clash would go ahead following a full sweep of negatives results.

But less than 24 hours later they have been forced to shelve the Saint-Denis showdown, with the entire Les Bleus squad placed into quarantine after the French Rugby Federation reported an 11th player had contracted the virus.

The news will come as a major blow to Gregor Townsend’s Scots, who fear they will be without 10 of their biggest stars if the game is moved to a date outside of the international window.

The Six Nations said in a statement: “The Six Nations Testing Oversight Group met today to review the situation in the French camp.


“They unanimously recommended the postponement of the France v Scotland match. This will be ratified later today by the Six Nations council.

“We will be working on the rescheduling of this fixture and will communicate the date in due course.”

Scotland coach Gregor Townsend accepted the call but made it clear that the rescheduled game shuold not see his side disadvantaged in any way.

He said: “While we fully accept the decision of the Testing Oversight Group to recommend postponing our match against France on medical grounds, it is disappointing not to be able to play this fixture on Sunday.

“We have had a good week with our players who were focused and ready to represent their country in Paris and continue our progress in this year’s Guinness Six Nations.

“Throughout this tournament, and the previous Autumn Nations Cup, we have worked hard to maintain strict Covid protocols which have enabled us to select our strongest possible teams for these important international fixtures.

“We will wait to see what options are available to play this match against France, but it remains our position that we want to have all our eligible players available to us for that fixture, so we can compete to the level we would have done this weekend.


“We wish all the French players and staff affected by Covid well in their recovery and look forward to playing them at a future date.”

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