Sturgeon denies breaching ministerial ethics code

Nicola Sturgeon is expected to appear before a Holyrood committee on Tuesday.

Nicola Sturgeon and Alex Salmond at a campaign event (file pic). Jeff J Mitchell via Getty Images
Nicola Sturgeon and Alex Salmond at a campaign event (file pic).

Nicola Sturgeon has refused to say if she will resign if she is found to have broken the ministerial code in relation to the Alex Salmond investigation.

She was asked three times by Scottish Labour’s acting leader Jackie Baillie if she would step down if an ongoing investigation concludes her actions breached ethics rules for government ministers.

Meanwhile, the Scottish Conservatives said the First Minister had “backed herself into a corner” in her defence against the allegations.

Sturgeon insisted she had not breached the code and said she would not answer “hypothetical” questions before an investigation by James Hamilton QC publishes its findings.

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The First Minister has been accused by her predecessor, Salmond, of misleading parliament about her involvement in the investigation of sexual harassment claims against him.

It is claimed Sturgeon had an arranged meeting with Salmond’s former chief of staff Geoff Aberdein on March 29, 2018 to discuss the Scottish Government’s investigation of the allegations.

However, Sturgeon told parliament she first heard about the investigation when Salmond visited her home on April 2.

In her written submission to the Holyrood inquiry into the government’s botched, unlawful investigation of Salmond, the current First Minister said she had “forgotten” about the meeting.

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Questions have also been raised about whether meetings Sturgeon had about the investigation of Salmond were party business or government business that would have required records to be kept, as well as the length of time it took the Scottish Government to concede the judicial review after damaging evidence of prior contact between the investigating officer and complainants emerged.

Ruth Davidson, leader of the Scottish Conservatives at Holyrood, accused the First Minister of trying to “conceal the truth”.

She said: “We have failed women, taxpayers’ money and a cover-up at the heart of government – this whole affair stinks to high heaven and someone should take responsibility for these failings.”

Responding to Baillie’s questions at FMQs about whether she would resign, Sturgeon said: “I don’t believe I did breach the ministerial code and therefore I’m not going to engage on a hypothetical.

“When James Hamilton issues his report, we can have an open discussion on the basis of whatever findings he arrives at, just as we no doubt will have an open discussion when the committee [ on the Scottish Government Handling of Harassment Complaints] arrives at whatever findings it arrives at.”

Sturgeon said she was cooperating with both the committee and Mr Hamilton’s investigations and added: “When the outcomes of those are published, people can ask me then and I can say, what I intend to do.

“But I do not believe I breached the ministerial code and that is my position right now, and I think I’m entitled to due process just like everybody else.”

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Last month, Mr Hamilton – the independent adviser to the Scottish Government on the ministerial code – confirmed that the reporting of meetings, as well as Sturgeon’s statement to parliament, was within the scope of his investigation.

He added: “I also wanted to note that I consider the allegations made by Mr Salmond concerning whether or not the First Minister should have intervened to arrange a process of mediation to be within the scope of the remit.”

Mr Hamilton is expected to publish a report outlining his findings, although the 2018 code states that the First Minister is “the ultimate judge of the standards of behaviour expected of a minister” and the appropriate consequences for breaches.

Any end date for Covid restrictions now ‘would be made up’

Nicola Sturgeon addressed the announcement of June 21 as a possible date for the end of restrictions in England.

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First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said she would be “making it up” if she gave a specific date for the end of Covid-19 restrictions.

Speaking at the coronavirus briefing in Edinburgh on Wednesday, Sturgeon addressed the announcement of June 21 as a possible date for the end of restrictions in England.

In setting out her government’s plans on Tuesday for easing the lockdown, the First Minister did not give a similar date.

The Scottish Conservatives accused Sturgeon of giving people “next to no hope”.

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She told the briefing: “If I was to give you a fixed, hard and fast date right now, I would pretty much be making it up and I don’t think that’s the approach I should take with you.

“I’m not ruling out any specific dates. I want it to be as soon as possible and we have every reason to be hopeful that come the summer life will be much, much, much better than it is just now, but when I stand here and give you what I think the actual date when all or most restrictions will come to an end is going to be, I want to be as sure as I can be that is real and it can be delivered.”

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Boris Johnson set June 21 as a possible date for the end of restrictions in England.

Sturgeon added: “I don’t just understand the frustrations that people have, I feel those frustrations.

“As has been the case all along, I’ll have to take decisions that sometimes you agree with and sometimes you disagree with, but I can assure you that the Scottish Government will continue to do our very best to lead the country as quickly but also as safely and sustainably through this horrible ordeal and out the other side of it.”

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Speaking after confirming Scotland has recorded 47 deaths from coronavirus and 798 positive tests in the past 24 hours, she said the Scottish Government’s updated framework for easing restrictions focuses on the next six weeks as “that’s the timeframe that right now we can be most confident about”.

The First Minister said there is uncertainty over how the more infectious virus strain will behave once restrictions are lifted and the impact of the phased return to schools will be particularly scrutinised in this regard.

She said: “My hope is that the more we learn about the impact of the early changes, the more confidence we will then have that we can go further and faster, without risking a resurgence of the virus that would set us all back. In the meantime, we will move forward carefully.”

She also announced care homes should be supporting up to two named visitors for each resident from March 1, where possible, and Scottish Government guidance on this “very important way forward” will be published on Wednesday.

Sturgeon gave a further update on the daily coronavirus figures, announcing the daily test positivity rate is 3.9%, down from 4.8% on Tuesday.

There are 1018 people in hospital confirmed to have the virus, down 58 in 24 hours, and there was no change in those in intensive care which remains at 93.

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross said: “The First Minister seems to be rattled by the backlash to her plans.

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“Nicola Sturgeon gave people next to no hope of when restrictions would ease and now she’s having to furiously backtrack. She seems to be on the verge of a climb-down over her lockdown plan already.

“After Scottish Conservative calls for a u-turn on the slow school reopening, she dodged questions about return dates.

“She’s now suggesting the loosening of restrictions to level 2 might happen earlier and, in another masterclass of political spin, trying to rewrite history and claim that was the plan all along.

“When people just want a clear message of hope and certainty, they’re getting less clarity and more confusion from the First Minister.”

Weekly coronavirus death toll falls over past seven days

The National Records of Scotland said 9347 people have died of confirmed or suspected coronavirus.

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The weekly number of people who have died with coronavirus has fallen in the past seven days.

A total of 9347 people have died in Scotland with confirmed or suspected coronavirus, according to the National Records of Scotland (NRS).

The figures show 290 deaths relating to Covid-19 were registered between February 15 and 21, down 35 on the previous week.

Since then, another 103 deaths have been announced at the daily coronavirus briefings.

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On Wednesday, the First Minister said 47 people died over the past 24 hours, with 655 new cases of coronavirus reported.

The total number of deaths under this measurement – within 28 days of a positive test – now stands at 7053.

The total number of positive cases of coronavirus in Scotland now stands at 199,637, with the daily test positivity rate at 3.9%, down from 4.8% in 24 hours.

There are 1018 people in hospital confirmed to have the virus, down 58 in 24 hours, and there was no change in those in intensive care which remains at 93.

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Meanwhile the number of people who have had their first coronavirus vaccine has risen to 1,488,077, an increase of 22,836.

Indoor care home visits to resume from next month

Two named visitors will be able to visit each resident twice a week from March 1.

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Indoor visiting at care homes can resume from early March, the Scottish Government has confirmed.

Two named visitors will be able to visit each resident twice a week, although only one person can visit at any one time.

Full guidance on the resumption was published by the Scottish Government on Wednesday.

Deaths in care homes related to coronavirus have reduced by almost 70% over the last four weeks, according to official figures.

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Care homes will have to put various safety measures in place before welcoming visitors, including personal protective equipment such as face masks.

A vast majority of care home residents have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine.

However, some care providers have questioned the decision, with one saying only vaccinated people should be able to visit.

Speaking at the daily coronavirus briefing in Edinburgh, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “That may not sound like much and we obviously hope to get back to even more normality in the weeks to come, but I know for many across the country, even that is a big step back to a more normal way of life.

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“It’s not a complete return to normal yet, because there will still be a lot of Covid safety measures in place, face coverings, rigorous hygiene and the availability of testing, but it is nevertheless a very important way forward.”


Lennon resigns as Celtic manager with club 18 points adrift

Lennon's departure comes after 1-0 defeat to bottom-placed Ross County on Sunday.

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Lennon has left the club after a troubled season.

Neil Lennon has quit as Celtic manager with immediate effect.

Lennon’s departure comes after a 1-0 away defeat to Ross County that continues a troubled season for a team that has won four consecutive domestic trebles.

The Northern Irishman leaves with the team 18 points behind Rangers in the Premiership. His assistant John Kennedy will take over as interim manager.

Lennon, 49, has been a player, coach and manager (over two spells) for the vast majority of the past two decades but has been under pressure for months as season full of promise has become a struggle.

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After nine successive league titles, Celtic were chasing a Scottish record ten in a row but instead a resurgent Rangers are closing in on the trophy. Lennon has also seen his side crash out of Europe and end a long run of domestic cup dominance.

Lennon said: “We have experienced a difficult season due to so many factors and, of course, it is very frustrating and disappointing that we have not been able to hit the same heights as we did previously.

“I have worked as hard as ever to try and turn things around, but unfortunately we have not managed to get the kind of run going that we have needed.

“I have always given my best to the club and have been proud to deliver silverware to the Celtic supporters. The club will always be part of me. I will always be a Celtic supporter myself and I will always want the best for Celtic.

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“I would like to thank so many people at the club who have given me so much and I would also like to thank my family for their love and support. I wish the Celtic supporters, players, staff and directors nothing but success for the future.”

Lennon, a successful player with the club from 2000 to 2007, first managed Celtic in 2010, winning the first three league titles of their current run, as well as two Scottish Cup victories.

Following the abrupt departure of Brendan Rodgers from Celtic Park in February 2019, he returned to the club to take charge until the end of the season. He guided the team to the title and, after winning the Scottish Cup for the team to complete a third domestic treble he was offered the job on a permanent basis.

Last season the Northern Irishman continued the run of silverware, sealing a record-equalling ninth consecutive league title and winning the League Cup. He also lead his side out at the delayed Scottish Cup final in December, where they beat Hearts to complete a historic ‘quadruple treble’.

Though successful domestically before this season, Lennon’s record in Europe in his second spell was more troubled. A 5-4 aggregate defeat to CFR Cluj ended Champions League involvement in the third qualifying round last season. The consolation place of a Europa League place was taken and Celtic topped their group but were defeated by Copenhagen in the last 32.

This season, Champions League qualification saw the club knocked out by Ferencvaros in the second round. The Europa League brought more misery with a home defeat to Milan and an away draw with Lille followed by humiliating back-to-back 4-1 defeats to Sparta Prague.

Following the second of those losses, Lennon had insisted that he enjoyed the backing of the Celtic hierarchy and was determined to fight on.

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A League Cup exit to Ross County brought demonstrations at Celtic Park from angry fans and a 4-1 defeat to Milan worsened the situation.

The manager continued to argue that he should be given the chance to turn results around but conceded that his trophy-laden past record may not count for much given recent setbacks.

However, Lennon did receive clear and public backing from the club’s board in early December when they said they were supportive. However, the statement acknowledged results and said that a review would take place “in the new year”.

A run of positive results came to an end with defeat to Rangers at Ibrox on January 2, though Celtic’s performance was much improved on previous encounters.

However, following the defeat the club left for Dubai for a training camp.

Lennon, his assistant John Kennedy, another member of staff and 13 players at the club had to isolate following the trip after defender Christopher Jullien tested positive for coronavirus.

A second Celtic player was confirmed as having the virus during a media conference where Lennon had claimed critics of the trip were “hypocrites”, had claimed other clubs were not following covid protocols, and claimed some in the media had misrepresented the trip.

While Lennon and key players isolated, Celtic drew two games, ceding further ground in the Premiership.

On his return to the dugout, he saw the team draw 2-2 at Livingston and afterwards insisted that he would not quit, saying he had “put too much into it” and that “It’s my life”.

Results continued to be mixed. A 0-0 draw at Almondvale followed, and the team then beat Hamilton 2-0 before defeat to St Mirren.

Five wins in a row then saw Lennon optimistic that the team had found their stride but the defeat in Dingwall in Sunday left him unable to explain another defensive lapse but insisting he was the man to solve the problems and could mastermind a summer rebuild.

‘He fought so hard’

Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell said: “I would like to pay tribute to Neil for all he has done for the club in his second spell, delivering our eighth and ninth successive league titles, the quadruple treble and winning the last five available domestic trophies.

“Neil has always been and will always be a true Celtic man and someone I will always hold in the highest regard.   

“I have watched Neil fight many battles over many years, on and off the field, with a courage and tenacity few could match. Even this season, he has fought so hard and worked tirelessly to turn things around.

“While this season has not progressed as we would have liked, it cannot diminish the character or integrity of a man who has given the club so much.

“Personally, it is a sad day for me to see Neil leave the club. Neil is a man of quality and decency, he is someone who will always be part of the fabric of Celtic and someone who will always be welcomed at Celtic Park.

“On behalf of everyone at the club, and personally, I would like to thank Neil for his work as our manager and I wish him and his family good health and continued success in everything they do.”

Celtic’s biggest shareholder Dermot Desmond said: “Neil is a Celtic legend both as a player and manager. He has given so much to the Club, and with his success over the last number of years – including winning a Treble in his own right – he will be very difficult to replace.

“We thank Neil sincerely for all he has done for the club and we wish him every success going forward.”

Woman seriously hurt after being ‘deliberately’ hit by car

A 30-year-old woman has been arrested and charged with attempted murder following incident in Glasgow.

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Woman suffered serious injuries after being driven at 'deliberately' in Glasgow.

A 30-year-old woman has been arrested and charged in connection with the attempted murder of a 34-year-old woman in Glasgow.

Police are investigating reports that the 34-year-old was deliberately driven at in Stronsay Street, in the Germiston area of the city.

She is currently in hospital with serious injuries.

Detective Inspector Graham McCreadie, of Maryhill Police Station, said: “Around 8.55pm on Tuesday, officers were called to a report of a 34-year-old woman deliberately driven at in Stronsay Street, Glasgow.

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“The injured woman was taken to the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital where she is being treated for her injuries. Hospital staff describe her condition as serious.

“A 30-year-old woman has been arrested and charged in connection with this attempted murder. She is due before Glasgow Sheriff Court on Thursday. “

Police say a full report will be sent to the Procurator Fiscal.


Salmond questions ‘irregular’ Crown Office intervention

The Scottish Parliament agreed to belatedly redact large sections of Salmond's written evidence.

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Salmond: Questions 'highly irregular' intervention.

Alex Salmond has questioned the Crown Office’s “unprecedented and highly irregular actions” after it intervened to have his evidence redacted.

The Scottish Parliament agreed to belatedly redact large sections of Salmond’s written evidence in which he accused First Minister Nicola Sturgeon of misleading Holyrood and breaching the ministerial code, following a letter from the Crown Office expressing concern about possible contempt of court.

The former first minister’s legal team is now calling for the Lord Advocate to explain the “astonishing” intervention that attempted to censor evidence already in the public domain.

A spokesman for Salmond said his lawyers will also ask the Crown Office – the body responsible for prosecuting crimes in Scotland – to not destroy any possible evidence about the decision to intervene.

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Salmond’s evidence, alleging that Sturgeon had breached the ministerial code – a claim she denies – and describing the Crown Office as “simply not fit for purpose”, was eventually published by parliament on Monday evening.

However, following a letter from the Crown Office purportedly suggesting parts of the evidence could amount to contempt of court, parliament removed the submission on Tuesday before replacing it with a version with five sections redacted.

It prompted Salmond to pull out of his scheduled appearance to give oral evidence to the Holyrood inquiry that is examining the Scottish Government’s unlawful investigation of sexual harassment allegations made against him, although he has offered to attend on Friday instead.

“In light of this astonishing decision to intervene at the eleventh hour and in light of the timing, Mr Salmond asked the committee to defer his evidence by 48 hours to enable his legal team to consider the full implications of this extraordinary intervention,” Salmond’s spokesman said.

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“Mr Salmond has now asked his lawyers, Levy & McRae, to write to the Lord Advocate as the head of the Crown Office to ask for an explanation for the Crown’s unprecedented and highly irregular actions.”

The statement, issued on Wednesday morning, also reveals questions that Salmond’s lawyers will put to Lord Advocate James Wolffe – head of the Crown Office and a member of the Scottish Government.

They include demands for him to explain the legal basis for the crown’s intervention, questions over whether the legal position about the evidence has changed and why, and whether there were any representations made to the Crown Office.

The spokesman added: “Mr Salmond has instructed his lawyers to request specifically that the crown preserve and retain all material and communications with all or any third parties which led to their decision to intervene at the very last minute just as he was set to give his evidence.”

The current First Minister has denied any breach of the ministerial code and said there is “not a shred of evidence” that Salmond can show to prove there was a conspiracy against him.

Scottish Labour interim leader and member of the Committee on the Scottish Government’s Handling of Harassment Complaints, Jackie Baillie called for the Lord Advocate to answer an urgent question in parliament about the decision to redact Salmond’s submission.

Baillie said: “The credibility of the inquiry into the Scottish Government’s handling of harassment complaints, and indeed the credibility of the entire Parliament, hangs in the balance.

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“The Crown Office’s unprecedented intervention yesterday demands explanation – we cannot have this Parliament cowed into submission by the will of the Crown Office.

“The Lord Advocate must appear before the parliament to explain the actions of the Crown Office immediately.”

Parliament’s Presiding Officer has since allowed an urgent question to be asked of the Scottish Government on Wednesday afternoon, about whether the Lord Advocate “was consulted about the letter from the Crown Office to the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body in relation to the evidence from Alex Salmond published by the Parliament”.

The call was echoed by the Scottish Conservatives, who have also urged the current First Minister to publish her submission to the separate investigation into whether she broke the ministerial code.

Party leader Douglas Ross said: “The SNP government and the Crown Office are shutting down scrutiny at every turn.

“The Lord Advocate must face Parliament to explain why the Crown Office are strong-arming parliament and suppressing evidence – not to protect victims’ identities – but to protect Nicola Sturgeon.

“The First Minister broke cover this week in a panic to demand Alex Salmond bring forward his evidence, only for the Crown Office to shut it down.

“If she won’t release her own evidence on ministerial code breaches, she’s a hypocrite and, once again, she’s trying to dodge scrutiny.”

The Scottish Government and Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service have been contacted for comment.


Woman who faked pregnancy after one-night stand sentenced

Jaclyn McGowan was sentenced to 150 hours community service after lying about being pregnant for nine months.

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Sentenced: Jaclyn McGowan lied about being pregnant for nine months.

A woman who faked a pregnancy after a one-night stand has been sentenced to community service.

Jaclyn McGowan, 36, from Perth and Kinross, pleaded guilty to causing fear and alarm by stalking for nine months by lying about being pregnant.

At Perth Sheriff Court on Wednesday, Sheriff Lindsay Foulis sentenced McGowan to 150 hours of community service after she lied to Jamie Aitken and his family about being pregnant for nine months.

Fiscal depute Tina Dickie told the court that in June 2019, McGowan met with Jamie Aitken after matching on dating app Tinder and spent the night together in a hotel.

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About two weeks after the meeting, McGowan messaged Mr Aitken to inform him she was pregnant and planned on keeping the baby. The pair agreed they would try to co-parent the child.

Ms Dickie said Mr Aitken told police in August 2019 McGowan sent him a picture of a crib and told him to transfer £300 to pay for it, which he refused to do.

Shortly after, McGowan claimed to be having a miscarriage. Several days later, McGowan told Mr Aitken it had been a false alarm and she was still pregnant.

In September 2019, McGowan sent pictures of a baby scan to Mr Aitken’s mother, Wendy, telling them Mr Aitken would never be a part of his child’s life, but the family were welcome to be.

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In February 2020, McGowan visited a trampoline park in Dundee where Mr Aitken’s brother Corrie worked. He told his brother that despite McGowan supposedly being eight months’ pregnant, she looked “slim and not pregnant”.

She attended the park again several weeks later and appeared to have a large pregnancy bump.

McGowan blocked Mr Aitken from all social media in February 2020 and has had no further contact with him since.

In October 2020, Mr Aitken filed a police report against McGowan, saying her actions had left him feeling low and suicidal.

After being questioned by police, McGowan said after their one-night stand she had taken a pregnancy test, showing her to be pregnant. McGowan had a miscarriage a week later but did not inform Mr Aitken.

She admitted to buying a prosthetic bump to give the appearance of pregnancy while attending the trampoline park and said her actions were to hurt Mr Aitken for the way he had acted when the relationship ended.

McGowan’s solicitor argued that Mr Aitken’s claim he wished to keep the baby “couldn’t be further from the truth”, saying he had made it clear he did not want the child and pressured her to get an abortion.

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Sheriff Foulis said: “It seems to me that these actions fall on the less serious category but certainly don’t diminish your actions.

“You pleaded guilty to causing fear and alarm over a period of nine months, so when I say it is on the less serious side, none the less I have to bear that in mind.”

He noted McGowan had not contacted Mr Aitken for nine months before he filed a police report and that the crown was also not seeking a non-harassment order.


‘Powerful case’ for police being given vaccine priority

Chief Constable Iain Livingstone said hundreds of police officers and staff already have benefits from being given 'surplus' vaccines.

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Vaccine: 'powerful case' for police officers.

There is a “powerful case” for police officers and other key workers such as teachers to get priority for Covid-19 vaccines, Scotland’s most senior police officer has said.

Chief Constable Iain Livingstone said hundreds of police officers and staff already have benefits from being given “surplus” vaccines – unused jabs which would otherwise have gone to waste.

He said he would continue to make the case to the Scottish Government that Police Scotland officers and staff should be a priority group, once the initial rollout of the vaccine to those aged 50 and above and those with underlying medical conditions has been completed.

The Chief Constable spoke as he gave his latest update to the Scottish Police Authority (SPA).

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He stressed it was an “an absolute priority” for him to ensure the safety of his staff, saying this “goes to the core purpose of my duties as Chief Constable”.

A paper from him ahead of the SPA meeting disclosed that by February 15, more than 400 officers and staff had received the first dose of the vaccination as part of an initiative in which local health boards give “surplus vaccines, which would otherwise be wasted, to frontline officers and staff”.

Mr Livingstone said he was “pleased to report, to ensure where surplus vaccine become available which would otherwise be wasted, that they can be taken up by officers and staff working right across Scotland in local communities”.

He added: “This is a real positive initiative which has provided already hundreds of officers and staff with vaccinations which otherwise would have been wasted.”

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The Chief Constable and other senior figures from Police Scotland will also “continue to discuss the national vaccination programme with the Scottish Government ministers and senior officials”, he said.

The police will stress the “legitimate concerns of officers and staff about exposure they encounter during their daily duties”.

He spoke about how the job of the police involved officers “taking themselves into situations of danger, taking themselves into places where people are breaching the coronavirus guidelines, and the anxiety and concern that comes from that”.

He said: “There is, in my view, a strong case to protect officers and staff through vaccination, and through vaccination of officers and staff, therefore, protect the public that they serve.

“I will continue to advocate on their behalf into senior levels of government.”

Mr Livingstone added there was a “very powerful case for police officers and police staff, indeed school teachers and nursery care workers and others involved in public life, key workers”, to be a priority for vaccines.

The jabs are currently being given out in line with guidance from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, with Mr Livingstone saying this list was “clinically led” and focused on achieving the “greatest impact of vaccination”.

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But he told the SPA: “I think there is an understanding within government of the concerns of policing and I will continue to advocate on behalf of policing and voice those concerns in a proportionate and legitimate manner.”


Police issue 500 Covid travel fines in three months

People in poorer areas and those with criminal records were more likely to be fined for breaking restrictions, report finds.

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People with criminal records were also more likely to be caught out and handed a FPN.

More than 500 fines for breaching Covid-19 travel restrictions were handed out by police in the last three months.

A report to the Scottish Police Authority found those in poorer areas and with criminal records were more likely to have to pay-up for rule-breaking.

The review on the use of temporary coronavirus law enforcement powers showed levels of inequality in the numbers of fixed penalty notices (FPNs) issued.

The report read: “Some individuals are feckless or careless, and some transgress through genuine confusion, albeit the persistently large number of unlawful house gatherings may be hard to excuse in that way.

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“Some, especially when it comes to self-isolation, may simply be unable to adhere to requirements due to financial or other need which continues in many cases to go unmet and unsupported.”

University of Edinburgh Professor Susan McVie’s latest data report showed that people living in the 10% most deprived neighbourhoods of Scotland were more than 11 times more likely to receive a Covid fine than those on the opposite end of the scale.

People with criminal records were also more likely to be caught out and handed a FPN.

Professor McVie said the prevalence of those with criminal histories suggests that a better understanding of their behaviors and experiences is needed.

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Between November 20 and February 14, officers made 2033 interventions relating to Covid travel restrictions, including issuing 532 FPNs.

More than 10% of people who were fined once received an additional ticket.

The highest single FPN value given out in Scotland was £480, the maximum possible is £960.

The report found the data suggested “there was a small core of individuals who repeatedly breached the regulations”.

The report said: “These findings do reflect an additional degree of inequality in the way the pandemic was experienced amongst some people who live in communities that are already typified by poorer health, economic, educational and environmental outcomes.”

Women and older people living in deprived areas were also more likely to receive FPNs according to the data, but that it was not possible to explain the pattern of why some groups received fines more often than others.

During the first lockdown, the majority of FPN recipients were young men, and most of the individuals who were fined had prior criminal records.

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