PM: UK must not ‘slacken resolve’ despite vaccine news

Boris Johnson said Pfizer announcement was a sign the 'scientific cavalry' was on its way.

Prime Minister: Boris Johnson said there were still more hurdles to cross. STV News
Prime Minister: Boris Johnson said there were still more hurdles to cross.

The Prime Minister has urged the public not to “slacken their resolve” despite a pharmaceutical giant announcing a coronavirus vaccine breakthrough.

Boris Johnson said the Pfizer vaccine news – that the jab is more than 90% effective in preventing infection – was a sign the “scientific cavalry” was on its way, but added it was “very, very early days”.

He told a Downing Street press conference that the vaccine had cleared a “significant hurdle” but there were more to cross before it could be used.

He said: “The Pfizer/BioNTech Vaccine has been tested on over 40,000 volunteers and interim results suggest it is proving 90% effective at protecting people against the virus.


“But we haven’t yet seen the full safety data, and these findings also need to be peer-reviewed.

“So we have cleared one significant hurdle but there are several more to go before we know the vaccine can be used.”

The UK Government has ordered 40 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine – enough for about a third of the UK population.

“If the Pfizer vaccine passes all the rigorous safety checks and is proven to be effective then we will begin a UK-wide NHS led programme of vaccine distribution,” the Prime Minister said.


But he added: “We have talked for a long time, or I have, about the distant bugle of the scientific cavalry coming over the brow of the hill

“And tonight that toot of the bugle is louder, but it is still some way off.

“And we absolutely cannot rely on this as a solution.

“The biggest mistake we could make now would be to slacken our resolve at such a critical moment.”

Earlier, Pfizer and its vaccine partner BioNTech said interim data showed their jab was more than 90% effective in preventing Covid-19 infection.

Scientists around the globe welcomed the news, with many saying it was a significant breakthrough in the fight against Covid-19.

Peter Horby, professor of emerging infectious diseases and global health at the University of Oxford, said: “This news made me smile from ear to ear.”


The vaccine has been tested on 43,500 people in six countries and no safety concerns have been raised.

Pfizer and BioNTech plan to apply to the US Food and Drug Administration – the US medicines regulator – by the end of the month for emergency approval to use the vaccine.

About a dozen Covid-19 vaccines around the world are currently in the final stages of testing but Pfizer’s is the first to report any results.

Further 89 deaths from coronavirus recorded in Scotland

John Swinney said the total number of coronavirus deaths in Scotland now stands at 5,468.

SNS Group via SNS Group

Scotland has recorded a further 89 deaths from coronavirus, the Deputy First Minister has said.

At Thursday’s daily briefing, John Swinney said the total number of deaths after confirmed coronavirus in Scotland now stands at 5468.

There were 1636 new cases of Covid-19 reported, with 2004 people currently in hospital with the virus.

Of that number, 161 people were in intensive care, an increase of five from Wednesday.


He added that 168,219 people have now tested positive in Scotland, up from 166,583 the previous day.

The daily test positivity rate is 7%, down from 7.5% on the previous 24 hours.

The Deputy First Minister said that 334,871 people have now received their first coronavirus vaccination and added it is hoped all over 70s will be vaccinated by mid-February.

Swinney said the latest estimate showed the R number in Scotland – the average number of people infected by each person with Covid-19 – was now estimated to be “around 1” and had “probably fallen during the last week”.


This shows the current lockdown measures are “at the very least helping to stabilise case numbers”, the Deputy First Minister added.

He said the number of infections occurring remained “concerningly high”.

Swinney also said that three new walk-in testing centres were opening in Scotland this week.

One opened in Paisley on Tuesday, he said, with further sites opening in Dunfermline and Glenrothes later on Thursday.

He said that each of these new centres would be able to undertake up to 300 Covid-19 tests a day and take the total number of walk in centres to 28.

“They will help to increase the accessibility and effectiveness of testing,” Swinney added.

The Deputy First Minister stressed that while infection numbers remained high, the lockdown restrictions were “vital”.


Swinney said: “They are the single most important way in which we can reduce case numbers and ease some of the pressure on our health and social care services.”

Murderer left elderly landlady to ‘die on the kitchen floor’

Roman Frackiewicz assaulted his 77-year-old victim, leaving her with 14 fractured ribs, a broken breastbone and collapsed lungs.

Police Scotland / Paul Devlin via SNS Group
Court: Roman Frackiewicz was convicted of murder.

A lodger who brutally murdered his elderly landlady in a sustained attack that ruptured her heart is facing life imprisonment.

Roman Frackiewicz, 44, assaulted his 77-year-old victim in her home, leaving her with 14 fractured ribs, a broken breastbone and collapsed lungs after drinking vodka.

Jadwiga Szczygielska let him stay at her flat after he was convicted of a domestic assault in 2018 and a court imposed a non-harassment order preventing him contacting the victim of the attack.

The High Court in Edinburgh heard the priest at Mrs Szczygielska’s church asked her to take him in.


Advocate depute Alex Prentice QC told the court: “She gave him her bedroom and extended great kindness towards him.”

But on April 17 last year, Frackiewicz attacked Mrs Szczygielska at her Edinburgh home in Pirniefield Bank, Seafield.

Mrs Szczygielska came to Scotland from Poland in 2013 to live with her son. He had a workplace accident and returned to Poland but she stayed on in Scotland where she had made many friends.

She continued to work as a childminder and sent money back to her family in Poland. 


Mr Prentice said her son, Krzysztof, “indicated he could not find words to express how this terrible crime affects his life and his family, observing that this traumatic event will be with him for the rest of his life”.  

Mr Prentice told jurors that Edinburgh council refuse collector Frackiewicz had consumed a “substantial amount of vodka” before attacking Mrs Szczygielska after a quarrel broke out.

The court heard the injuries suffered by the victim were of a type found in serious road traffic collisions.

The jury was told that the rupture to her heart could have proved fatal, but that the fractures and lung injury she suffered could also have killed her.

Mr Prentice said: “The Crown is unable to specify precisely what was done to her because there were only two people in that flat when those injuries were sustained. The accused himself said nobody came to the flat.” 

Frackiewicz, who is also a Polish national, came to the UK in 2012 and after moving in with his victim paid her £200 a month while he slept in the bedroom at the flat and she bedded down on a sofa.

He had denied murdering Mrs Szczygielska by repeatedly inflicting or causing to be inflicted blunt force injuries to her head and body by means to the prosecutor unknown. However, he was unanimously convicted of the murder by the jury.


The morning after the crime he contacted an employee with a community alarm service and said he needed an ambulance as he thought she was dead.

He phoned an acquaintance and said: “Jadwiga has passed away.” He later claimed it was “probably a heart attack”.

Following the verdict on Thursday, Lord Braid told him: “You have been convicted by the jury of the crime of murder and there will be only one sentence which I can impose, which is life imprisonment.”

However, Lord Braid adjourned sentencing on Frackiewicz until next month for the preparation of a background report as he has to set the minimum term the murderer must serve in jail before he becomes eligible to apply for release on parole.  

Frackiewicz, who has two previous convictions for assault, was remanded in custody until his next appearance at the High Court in Aberdeen on February 18.

The judge told jurors that some of the evidence in the trial was “disturbing to hear and to look at”.

Following Frackiewicz’s conviction, detective inspector Bob Williamson said: “Jadwiga Szczygielska was a generous and caring woman who was well liked within the community. 

“She allowed Roman Frackiewicz to stay in her home at a time when he had nowhere else to live. 

“Frackiewicz repaid Jadwiga by taking advantage of her within her own home and abusing her kindness. 

“We will never know why he chose to attack her that night but his actions were violent, brutal and cruel resulting in the catastrophic injuries suffered by Jadwiga. 

“He left her to die on her kitchen floor while he went to his bed. 

“This guilty verdict will never bring Jadwiga back but I sincerely hope it will bring some sense of justice to her family.”

Ten residents die in care home coronavirus outbreak

The first death at Thorney Croft Care Home in Stranraer was reported earlier this month.

© Google Maps 2020
Thorney Croft Care Home: Ten residents have died following a coronavirus outbreak.

Ten residents have died in a Covid outbreak at a care home in Dumfries and Galloway.

The first death at Thorney Croft Care Home in Stranraer was reported earlier this month.

On Thursday, Dumfries and Galloway health and social care partnership confirmed a further nine deaths have occurred, with four in the past week.

A total of 45 staff members and 45 residents have also tested positive for the virus.


Community Integrated Care – the charity that runs the home – said all necessary steps were being taken to manage the outbreak.

Martin McGuigan, managing director of Community Integrated Care, said: “Our teams continue to work tirelessly, alongside the local authority and public health teams, to implement extensive infection prevention measures to manage this outbreak. 

“Our hearts go out to the loved ones of our residents, as well as our colleagues. 

“We are continuing to provide practical and emotional support to everyone at this very difficult time.”

Man dies after being hit by falling mast at building site

Enquiries into the death are ongoing alongside the Health and Safety Executive.

Police Scotland
Emergency services were called to Hallmeadow Place in Annan.

A man has died at a building site in Dumfries and Galloway after being struck by a fallen mast.

The 52-year-old was killed on an Ashleigh Building site in Hallmeadow Place, Annan, around 9.45am on Thursday morning.

The site has been closed and an investigation has been launched into the death by police and the Health and Safety Executive.

A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “Around 9.45am on Thursday, January 21, we were called to a report of a mast having fallen on a 52-year-old man at a building site on Hallmeadow Place, Annan.


“Emergency services attended and the man was pronounced dead at the scene.

“Enquiries into the incident will be carried out alongside the Health and Safety Executive. A report will be submitted to the Procurator Fiscal.”

A spokesperson for Ashleigh Building said: “We are devastated to confirm a fatality on our Hallmeadow, Annan site this morning.

“Whilst full details are still to be established, our immediate thoughts and prayers are with the family, friends and colleagues of the operative involved.


“The wellbeing of anybody working on our sites is absolutely paramount to us.

“A full investigation will be carried out, and we are working with all of the relevant authorities in this regard.

“We have closed the site to allow the investigation to be concluded.”

Road closures and delays as snow sweeps in across Scotland

The Met Office has issued a number of weather warnings across the country.

Traffic Scotland via Twitter
Queensferry Crossing: The bridge was closed due to a risk of falling ice.

The Queensferry Crossing has reopened following a risk of falling ice.

The bridge, which carries the M90 motorway across the Firth of Forth, was closed to traffic in both directions during the early hours of Thursday morning as snow swept in across Scotland.

Motorists faced a 36-mile diversion via the A985 Kincardine Bridge.

Bear Scotland warned drivers that the Forth Road Bridge “should not be used as a diversion”.


The road was eventually reopened shortly after 10am.

STV News
Ochil Hills: Weather warnings have been put in place across Scotland.

The Met Office has issued a number of weather warnings across the country.

An amber alert was put in place across south and south-east Scotland on Wednesday evening, with around 30cm of snow expected to fall overnight.

The warning, which remained in place until 8am on Thursday, covered areas such as South Lanarkshire, Lanark, Jedburgh, Melrose, Lauder, Peebles and Penicuik in Midlothian.


Blizzard-like conditions are expected to develop on Thursday in Moray and the east Highlands and could affect roads on higher ground.

Al MacPherson via email
Highlands: The A9 between Slochd and Tomatin is currently blocked.

The A9 between Slochd and Tomatin in the Highlands is currently blocked by snow and a number of jackknifed lorries.

Snowploughs have been hampered by the trucks blocking the route, leading to traffic tailbacks.

Elsewhere in the Highlands, the Bealach na Ba route in Wester Ross is closed due to heavy snow.

Lower-level routes have been affected by ice, snow and hail showers.

Snow is also expected to fall across most of central Scotland, western Fife and Stirlingshire.

A yellow warning for rain has also been put in place in the north-east of the country.


The alert, which runs through Thursday until 12pm on Friday, affects Peterhead, Fraserburgh and Banff in Aberdeenshire as well as Wick and Thurso in the Highlands and the Orkney Islands.

Winds will also be an issue for the north and north-east as Storm Christoph heads into the North Sea on Thursday.

The north of Lewis, north Highland coast, Orkney, Shetland and coastal Moray and Aberdeenshire could see gusts of up to 50mph.

Traffic Scotland’s Gritter Tracker page provides live tracking of gritters on the trunk road network.

William Wall-Ice, Sprinkles and Megameltasaurus are currently working their way across the north-east of the country.

To view all the gritters out on Scotland’s roads, click here.

Fishing could be ‘destroyed’ without intervention, MPs warn

MPs queried whether the meat industry was ‘in jeopardy’ following reports of products sitting in lorry parks waiting for customs.

Brian Lawless via PA Wire
MPs also queried whether the meat industry was ‘in jeopardy’ following reports of products sitting in lorry parks waiting for customs clearance.

The entire fishing industry could be destroyed if ministers do not fix customs clearance technology at the border, the environment secretary has been warned.

SNP MP Stuart C McDonald (Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East) told George Eustice that Scottish seafood companies were concerned they were “going out of business” with their produce “sitting in lorry parks in Kent waiting for customs clearance”.

His comments came as other MPs queried whether the meat industry was also “in jeopardy” after newspapers reported this week that pigs heads were “rotting in Rotterdam”.

But Mr Eustice assured MPs that while there were “occasionally delays at the border”, in general, “goods are flowing”.

Environment Secretary George Eustice said a £23 million fund had been established to help exporters who were struggling with the paperwork (Aaron Chown/PA).

Speaking in the Commons during environment departmental questions, Mr McDonald said: “Scotland’s high-quality seafood producers are warning that they’re going out of business.

“They can’t have their products sitting in lorry parks in Kent waiting for customs clearance, those products have to reach market fresh.

“So what is the Government doing to change the procedures and fix the technology to ensure an entire industry isn’t destroyed, and will there be ongoing compensation offered to business until this is sorted, or was that a one-off?”

Mr Eustice said his department was ‘working daily with the fishing sector to tackle and iron out any particular issues’ (Danny Lawson/PA).

Mr Eustice responded: “We have announced a £23m fund to help those exporters who struggled with the paperwork in these initial weeks.


“We’ve also been working daily with the fishing sector to tackle and iron out any particular issues that they’ve encountered.”

He added that the problems were simply “teething issues”.

Meanwhile, shadow environment minister Daniel Zeichner told the Commons: “I fear the Secretary of State is living in a parallel universe.

“He must have seen the headlines ‘pig heads rotting in Rotterdam’ as Brexit delays hit the British meat industry,” and asked if the meat industry was “in jeopardy”.

Mr Eustice said: “He is wrong about that actually. Goods are flowing, particularly when it comes to lamb, which is our principal meat export. Dairy goods are also flowing.

“Yes, there are occasionally delays at the border as border officials in France and The Netherlands get used to these new processes, but we are intervening in all such instances to help the businesses concerned.”

The Environment Secretary also told MPs that an agreement between the UK and Norway over access to each other’s fishing waters during the next year could “conclude within the next couple of weeks”.


Mr Eustice said that last week an interim agreement was reached between the two countries to allow British fishers to catch a quota of 2,750 tonnes of cod in waters around Svalbard, Norway, up to March 31.

Responding to Labour MP Emma Hardy (Hull West and Hessle), he told MPs: “We would anticipate that these negotiations would conclude within the next couple of weeks and then access for Arctic cod, should that be agreed in the agreement, could be resumed.”

MPs were also informed that the UK Government was conducting bilateral negotiations with Ireland over easing pet travel restrictions between Great Britain and the island of Ireland.

Since January 1, the UK has “part two listed status” under the EU Pet Travel Scheme, meaning that people travelling from Great Britain with their pets and assistance dogs need to follow new requirements in order to travel to the EU and Northern Ireland.

SDLP MP Claire Hanna (Belfast South) said the current situation caused “challenges” for pet owners, particularly in relation to guide dogs.

Mr Eustice replied: “The primary purpose of these pet travel regulations is to control the spread of rabies and both Ireland and Great Britain have a very similar and very high health status on rabies having not had it in dogs previously.

“We, therefore, do think that there should be easements on this particular provision, we have argued with the (European) Commission that we should be listed in part one but we are continuing to make those bilateral negotiations with Ireland a priority.”

Murderer jailed for life after brutal attack with scissors

Christopher Lawson attacked Steven Clark at the victim's home in Maryhill, Glasgow.

© Google Maps 2020
Court: Christopher Lawson has been jailed for life.

A man who boasted he’d committed a “first-degree murder” after killing a man has been jailed for life.

Christopher Lawson brutally attacked Steven Clark, 45, at the victim’s home in Maryhill, Glasgow, on October 13, 2019.

The 20-year-old choked Mr Clark before stabbing him with knives and scissors.

On Thursday, Lawson was ordered to serve at least 16 years and two months during a hearing at Paisley Sheriff Court.


He had previously pleaded guilty to murder during his trial at the High Court in Glasgow.

Jurors heard that Lawson – while being held in Glasgow’s Govan police station on October 15, 2019 – made comments to police custody officer James Thompson.

Mr Thompson told prosecutor Greg Farrell said: “As we were walking, he stated he had had his last cigarette for the next 20 years.

“He said he had done a ‘first-degree murder’. He said he had ‘done it for his sister’ and that it ‘had to be done’.”


Mr Thompson initially thought the comments were “strange” as they were like something from an “American TV show”.

But, he immediately told investigating detectives after Lawson was put in his cell.

A neighbour of Mr Clark earlier told the trial how she had seen Lawson and another man yelling up at the victim’s window shortly before the murder.

The witness said the pair demanded to be let in and accused Mr Clark of owing money.

During the trial the court was shown photos of Mr Clark’s dead body lying in his home.

Lawson’s QC said the killer had “absolutely no recollection” surrounding the death.

But, Donald Findlay, defending, added Lawson realised during the trial that he must be responsible


Mr Findlay said: “He had no ill will towards Mr Clark. 

“Mr Lawson said to his mum, ‘I can’t go through with the trial and the chance of being acquitted when I killed this man’.”

Funeral held for Glasgow Archbishop Philip Tartaglia

Catholics celebrate Archbishop's life after he passed away following a positive coronavirus test.

Archdiocese of Glasgow via Archdiocese of Glasgow
The body of Archbishop Philip Tartaglia is brought to St Andrew's Cathedral in Glasgow.

A funeral has been held for Glasgow’s Archbishop, Philip Tartaglia.

Archbishop Tartaglia, who had served as the head of Scotland’s largest Catholic community since 2012, tested positive for Covid-19 shortly after Christmas and was self-isolating at home when he passed away.

However, a spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Glasgow said the cause of his death last week was not clear.

The Pope has expressed his sorrow at the death in a message received from Cardinal Parolin, his secretary of state.


The message read: “His Holiness Pope Francis was deeply saddened to learn of the untimely death of Archbishop Philip Tartaglia, and he offers heartfelt condolence and the assurance of his spiritual closeness to the clergy, religious and lay faithful of the Archdiocese of Glasgow.”

Archbishop Tartaglia’s body was laid in the city’s St Andrew’s Catholic Cathedral on Wednesday night in preparation for his funeral.

Credit: Archdiocese of Glasgow

Under current coronavirus restrictions, only 20 of the Archbishop’s family and friends were able to attend the service, which started at midday.

Glasgow’s previous Archbishop, Mario Conti, paid tribute to his successor as he told of the moment when he heard of his sudden passing on January 13, the day Catholics celebrate the Glasgow’s patron Saint, St Mungo.

Jeff J Mitchell via Getty Images
Archbishop Philip Tartaglia

Archbishop Emeritus Conti said: “I had made up my mind to send him greetings for the feast day, a short message of ‘Buona Festa’.

“I was at the computer preparing that message when the Archdiocesan Chancellor, Monseigneur Paul Murray, clearly emotionally upset, informed me of Philip’s sudden death.

“It was a shock which I am sure was shared by all who heard it, and like me, all who heard it were greatly saddened.”

Archbishop Tartaglia grew up in Glasgow’s east end as part of a large family where his parents established their business as Italian immigrants.

Archbishop Emeritus Conti said: “Perhaps only third to the love of his family and of the city of Glasgow was his love of Celtic Football Club.

“I don’t recall ever seeing him so animated and so much enjoying himself as at a dinner in the hospitality suite of Celtic Park on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Knights of St Columba, founded in this very city.

“And football was not only a wholesome diversion from the hard work of administering a large Archdiocese; it was a natural choice for him – the world of faith, family and football was the culture in which he had been brought up, and which he loved.”

New Covid drug screening hub launched at Glasgow Uni

The facility has been established at the University of Glasgow's centre for virus research.

STV News

A new Covid-19 drug screening and resistance hub (CRUSH) aimed at uncovering medical treatments to combat the virus has been launched at the University of Glasgow.

The facility has been established at the uni’s centre for virus research.

The CRUSH Project has received £2.5m of funding to accelerate the research and a bid to understand the virus that has stopped the world.

In a bid to find drugs that will kill the virus without harming people they have been growing Covid in the lab to try and understands how it works and mutates.


Dr Agnieszka Szemiel from CRUSH said: “Sometimes when you get home it’s 10pm and you are just collapsing in bed you feel like ‘why did I volunteer’. But on the other hand if we are able to provide medication that works, this will help.”

Professor Massimo Palmarini from the University of Glasgow Centre of Virus Research said: “There was a certain level of realisation that this our time that we can contribute and normally we do research as really as going long term objectives where you don’t see the practical obligation right away. When instead with this, it was a bit different.”

Despite increased hope vaccines will help the world beat covid, Professor Palmarini says it’s crucial we also have anti-viral drugs.

He continued: “The vaccine will never be universal, so there will never be 100% of individuals vaccinated so you need to have other therapeutics that can act at the single patient level.”

You're up to date

You've read today's top stories. Where would you like to go next?