Sturgeon: Pub coronavirus outbreak exactly what we feared

The First Minister said images of mass crowds in bars and restaurants with little or no physical distancing 'made her want to cry'.

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Nicola Sturgeon has said a coronavirus outbreak linked to a pub is “exactly what we feared” when the decision was taken to reopen the hospitality industry.

Speaking at the Scottish Government’s daily briefing on Monday, the First Minister said images of mass crowds in bars and restaurants with little or no physical distancing ‘made her want to cry’.

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Aberdeen: Crowds gather outside Soul. Picture by Fubar News

Sturgeon said work was being done to address the 13-case cluster linked to The Hawthorn Bar in Aberdeen.

The pub’s owners said the cases were linked to customers who visited the bar on July 26.

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NHS Grampian said contact tracing efforts were continuing to find all those associated with the outbreak.

All those who tested positive are showing only mild symptoms, though the health board says there may be further cases linked to the cluster.

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The Hawthorn Bar: An outbreak has been linked to the pub.

This latest cluster follows another outbreak in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde region last week, which itself was linked to a previous outbreak at a call centre in Lanarkshire.

The First Minister said: “Of course it’s not just this incident in Aberdeen, across the county and across social media we are seeing evidence of people – and it is largely younger people – gathering together with little or no physical distancing in place.

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“I’ve seen pictures on social media over this weekend that, not to put too fine a point on it, made me want to cry looking at them.”

At the briefing, it was also revealed that there have been no further Covid-19 deaths in Scotland for the 18th day in a row.

The official death toll in Scotland currently stands at 2491.

The figures on daily deaths, produced by Health Protection Scotland, only count confirmed cases, while weekly figures from National Records of Scotland include suspected cases.

As of last Sunday, July 26, 4201 people have died where Covid-19 was registered on their death certificate.

Sturgeon also reported 18,694 people have tested positive for the virus, up by 18 from 18,676 the day before.

She said 11 of these new cases were in the Grampian area, though she could not say if these were linked to the outbreak in Aberdeen.

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There were 265 people in hospital with confirmed Covid-19, no change on the previous day.

Sturgeon urged everyone to “follow the rules”, not only for personal safety, but for the safety of family and friends, as well as the good of the economy, ensuring that restrictions do not need to be reapplied.

She said: “Be in no doubt, if we have to do that we will, because we will have no choice.”

Meanwhile, health secretary Jeane Freeman announced a further £50m for social care settings to address issues caused by coronavirus.

She said: “I’ve been clear since the outset that we will meet any increasing need for social care as a result of the pandemic.

“This additional financial support, together with the other measures we’ve put in place, I hope is a practical demonstration of our commitment to supporting the sustainability and resilience of the social care sector.”

The payment is on top of a £50m package announced in May.

The funding will help to tackle the reduction in residence levels, additional staffing, infection prevention and personal protective equipment (PPE) provision.


Police can now issue warnings for the possession of Class A drugs

Lord Advocate says a recorded police warning for possession offences is 'appropriate' for all classes of drugs.

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People found in possession of Class A drugs for personal use can now be issued with a recorded police warning instead of facing automatic prosecution, following a review of guidance by the Lord Advocate.

Dorothy Bain QC, who was appointed Scotland’s most senior law officer in June, told MSPs on Wednesday that she had decided to implement an extension of recorded police warning guidelines following a review.

She said the move does not amount to decriminalisation for the possession of Class A drugs, which include crack cocaine, cocaine, ecstasy (MDMA), heroin, LSD, magic mushrooms, methadone and methamphetamine (crystal meth).

The recorded police warning scheme enables officers to deal with a wide range of low level offences by issuing a warning on the spot or retrospectively, in the form of a notice.

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The guidelines previously permitted the police to issue such warnings for possession of Class B and C drugs.

But the guidance has changed following a review ordered by previous lord advocate James Wolffe QC.

Bain said: “I have considered the review and I have decided that an extension of the recorded police warning guidelines to include possession offences for Class A drugs is appropriate.

“Police officers may therefore choose to issue a recorded police warning for simple possession offences for all classes of drugs.”

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Bain said the scheme extends to drug possession offences only, and not supply. She also said the warnings do not amount to the decriminalisation of an offence.

Officers will retain the ability to report appropriate cases to the procurator fiscal. Accused persons retain the right to reject the offer of a warning.

The announcement comes after drug deaths hit a record high in Scotland during the coronavirus pandemic.

Figures published by the National Records of Scotland (NRS) in July revealed 1339 drug-related deaths in 2020 – a 5% increase on the previous year’s statistics and the largest number since records began in 1996.

It also meant it was the seventh year in a row that drug-related deaths had hit record levels.

Scotland continues to have the worst drug death rate in Europe, with 21.2 deaths per 1000 of the population, more than three-and-a-half times higher than the rest of the UK.

Bain said that a warning or fine may be an “appropriate, proportionate response” for some people caught in supply of Class A drugs.

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She said approximately two thirds of people reported to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, where the only offence reported is possession of drugs, are dealt with by alternatives to prosecution – mainly by being offered a financial penalty.

She said: “Any alternative to prosecution: warnings, fines or diversion, are offers only. An accused person always has the right to reject such an offer and there will be cases where prosecution is the appropriate response in the public interest.

“Where an accused person is subsequently found guilty the courts, in turn, have a range of sentencing disposals appropriate to the individual accused and offence.

“The range of options available to police, prosecutors and courts reflects the fact that in Scotland there is no one size fits all response to an individual found in possession of a controlled substance or an individual dependent on drugs.”

The move, which remains dependent on the discretion of individual officers and could still see those in possession of drugs prosecuted, has been called “de facto de-criminalisation” by the Scottish Tories.

Scottish Tory MSP Jamie Greene said it would not help to address the needs of drug users.

“Scotland’s drug deaths crisis is our national shame, but surely the way to tackle it is by improving access to treatment and rehabilitation,” he said.

“Not to dilute how seriously we treat the possession of Class A drugs, deadly drugs, like heroin, crystal meth and crack cocaine – the scourges of our streets and the scourges of our society.

“The answer to our drug deaths crisis is treatment, not de facto de-criminalisation by the back door, as is the case today.”

Labour MSP Clare Baker welcomed the change, and asked if the announcement would help with the establishment of safe consumption rooms – which would allow drug users a place to go to take drugs and potentially even supply them with substances.

The Lord Advocate said the change to the guidance was “entirely different” to the proposed safe consumption rooms, which would require a waiver from the UK Government to the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 to ensure users and staff were not criminalised.

Assistant chief constable Gary Ritchie, head of drug strategy at Police Scotland, said the Lord Advocate’s decision “gives officers another tool to support those at risk of becoming vulnerable in our communities”.

He said: “A Recorded Police Warning is still a criminal justice disposal which remains on a person’s criminal record. They are used to address low level offending. Issuing such a warning is not the only option available to officers dealing with people in these circumstances and officers can use their discretion to determine the best course of action.”

Ritchie said recorded police warnings would be “inappropriate for persistent or serious offenders”, adding they will still be reported to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service.

He said: “Alongside our focus on improving the safety and wellbeing of Scotland’s people, places and communities through our harm reduction work, we remain steadfastly committed to tackling those who bring misery to our communities by dealing drugs and taking advantage of people who are at their most vulnerable.

“We continue to work alongside UK partners to make Scotland a hostile environment for serious and organised crime.

“Police Scotland is already engaged in further innovations to address the country’s drug death figures, including the Naloxone test of change. We continue to explore further new approaches with our partners in order to improve the safety and wellbeing of Scotland’s people, places and communities.”

‘Hospital murdered my child’, mum tells inquiry

Kimberly Darroch’s daughter died at a children’s cancer ward after contracting stenotrophomonas.

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Queen Elizabeth University Hospital: Kimberly Darroch’s daughter died after contracting stenotrophomonas.

A mother whose daughter died at a children’s cancer ward after contracting an infection has described her child’s death as “murder”.

Kimberly Darroch told the Scottish Hospitals Inquiry she wants the children and adult hospitals at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital (QEUH) campus in Glasgow to close.

She believes NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde health board should be punished after she claims staff covered up the true cause of her daughter’s death, which she found out about two years later in the media.

The inquiry began hearing evidence on Monday into problems at two flagship hospitals that contributed to the deaths of two children.

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It is investigating the construction of the QEUH campus in Glasgow and the Royal Hospital for Children and Young People and Department of Clinical Neurosciences in Edinburgh.

In a statement read out at the inquiry on Wednesday, Ms Darroch said she was never given details of an infection that her daughter contracted when she died, which she later discovered contributed towards her death.

Ms Darroch also claimed hospital reports about her meeting with doctors to discuss the infection were false.

Her statement said: “My view is that the hospital should be closed. I don’t think it’s safe.

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“I feel like the health board need to be punished for all of this. In my eyes, what happened to my daughter is murder.

“She should still be here and I am trying to come to terms with that, after coming to terms with losing her initially.

“I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to. I would never go back to the hospital, never.”

Ms Darroch’s daughter, ten-year-old Milly Main, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in 2012.

She died in 2017 after contracting stenotrophomonas – an infection found in water, the inquiry heard.

Ms Darroch and her family claim they were unaware of this infection which contributed to her daughter’s death until after she died.

Christine Horne, Ms Darroch’s mother, also had her statement read out at the inquiry on Wednesday.

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She said: “We were never told what it was and there was never any indication that it was related to the water in the hospital.

“Nobody said anything about what had caused the infection.”

Earlier on Wednesday, the inquiry heard from Lynn Kearns who criticised a children’s hospital ward at the QEUH campus for having no running water while her young son received treatment for a rare disease in the building’s “prison-like” conditions.

She said her son was unable to shower for about two weeks while being treated in the hospital despite vomiting on his own face during treatment.

Mrs Kearns’ son was 11 when he was diagnosed with a rare and life-threatening blood disorder in December 2017.

He was treated in the Royal Hospital for Children at the QEUH campus between December 2017 and March 2018.

Mrs Kearns said she understood the water supply was cut off due to a certain type of bacteria being found in the system.

She said water supply issues at the hospital ward remain a problem today.

After taking her son into the same hospital on Monday, she said she spoke to two maintenance workers who are still changing filters on the sink taps every two months, the inquiry heard.

The inquiry in Edinburgh, chaired by Lord Brodie, will continue on Thursday.

Yousaf code ‘breach’: Matter considered closed after apology

The ministerial code says announcements should be made to parliament when Holyrood is in session.

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Yousaf: Won't face investigation.

Health secretary Humza Yousaf will not be investigated by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon over a possible breach of the ministerial code.

Yousaf announced on Tuesday plans for the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and more than 100 military personnel to support the crisis-hit ambulance service.

Acute pressure on the emergency service is currently causing severe delays for patients.

But Yousaf came under fire because details of the announcement appeared in the Daily Record hours before the statement was made in parliament.

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The Scottish Conservatives had urged Sturgeon to investigate the potential breach of the ministerial code, with MSP Craig Hoy accusing Yousaf of treating Holyrood “with contempt”.

But on Wednesday a Scottish Government spokeswoman said Yousaf had apologised and it considered “the matter closed”.

The spokeswoman said: “Mr Yousaf has given a formal, in-person apology to the Chamber of the Scottish Parliament and to the Presiding Officer.

“As such we consider the matter closed.”

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The ministerial code says that announcements should be made to parliament when Holyrood is in session.

Yousaf was rebuked by Presiding Officer Alison Johnstone ahead of Tuesday’s statement, who said if it happened again she would not allow the statement to be made to MSPs and would instead move straight to opposition questions.

He subsequently apologised to Ms Johnstone and the parliament.

It comes after Scottish Tory chief whip Stephen Kerr wrote to Ms Sturgeon earlier on Wednesday, urging her to step in.

He said: “Yesterday, in his statement to Scottish Parliament, it was confirmed by the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Care that he leaked the content of his statement to the Daily Record ahead of delivery to parliament.

“This included multiple important announcements of government policy on tackling the current ambulance crisis.”

He added: “The Ministerial Code exists to ensure that those in the highest offices of Scotland’s public sector are held to an appropriately high standard. I know you value its contents greatly.

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“I am therefore writing to you seeking your commitment to investigate this breach and to outline what measures will be taken in response to any possible outcome of such an investigation.”

Following an investigation by James Hamilton QC into whether the First Minister misled parliament in relation to the Alex Salmond inquiry – which found she did not knowingly mislead MSPs – the First Minister said she would step down if she was found to have breached the ministerial code.

“Let me be clear. Had Mr Hamilton’s report gone the other way, I would have accepted it,” the First Minister said, defending herself against a vote of no confidence on March 23.

“Had he found that I had breached the code in anything other than the most technical and immaterial of ways, I would have been standing here right now tendering my resignation, because the integrity of the office that I am so privileged to hold really matters to me.

“The office of First Minister is more important than any temporary incumbent of it.”

Kerr also said he would be writing to the convener of the Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee.

Police name third man killed in M8 crash that injured five

David Paton, Manveer Benning and Mark Downie were all pronounced dead at the scene of the crash on Sunday.

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David Paton (left) and Manveer Benning died in M8 crash.

Police have named three men who died when their car left the M8 motorway and crashed early on Sunday morning.

David Paton and Manveer Benning, both 27, died along with Mark Downie, 31, after their blue Audi Q7 left the road on the M8 westbound near to junction 31 in Renfrewshire.

All three men were pronounced dead at the scene.

Five others were taken to hospital for treatment of serious but non-life threatening injuries.

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A 35-year-old man has been arrested in connection with the incident.


Last of the Summer Wine star Robert Fyfe dies aged 90

The actor, from Fife, portrayed the shy and downtrodden husband of battleaxe Pearl Sibshaw.

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Last Of The Summer Wine: Fyfe’s death was confirmed to the PA news agency.

Robert Fyfe, who played Howard in Last of the Summer Wine, has died at the age of 90.

The actor, from Kirkcaldy, Fife, portrayed the shy and downtrodden husband of battleaxe Pearl Sibshaw on screen from 1985 until the beloved sitcom’s cancellation in 2010.

He was known to viewers for his affair with the peroxide blonde Marina and his often unsuccessful attempts at hiding their dalliance from his wife.

Fyfe’s death was confirmed to the PA news agency by the talent agency Curtis Brown.

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His wife Diana died a few weeks before him, leaving sons Timothy, Nicholas and Dominic.

Fyfe’s first role came in 1962 with Dr Finlay’s Casebook and he later appeared in Coronation Street, Z Cars, Angels, The Onedin Line, Survivors, The Gentle Touch and Monarch of the Glen.

He also appeared in films including The 51st State, Around the World in 80 Days and Cloud Atlas.

Juliette Kaplan, who played Pearl Sibshaw, died in October 2019 from cancer while Jean Fergusson, who played Marina, died in November that year.


Rapist attacked pregnant partner during 18-year campaign of abuse

The domestic abuser subjected two women to repeated violent and sexual attacks from 2002 until 2020.

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Court: Rapist and domestic abuser facing a decade behind bars.

A rapist who subjected two women to repeated violent and sexual attacks during an 18-year campaign of domestic abuse has been jailed for ten years.

William Jackson attacked one partner while she was pregnant and sexually and physically abused another between 2002 and 2020.

He also offered money on social media to “anyone who would assault” one of his ex-girlfriends.

The 37-year-old, from Glasgow, was convicted of raping both of the women and eight other charges following a trial last month.

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He was also found guilty of inciting violence against one of the victims.

The former concierge returned to the High Court in Glasgow on Wednesday to be sentenced for the crimes, which all occurred at a number of addresses in the east end of the city.

Judge Tom Hughes praised the victims for bravely testifying against Jackson, who had denied the accusations.

He said: “It is quite clear you have caused them considerable problems in their life.

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“It must come as comfort that the jury believed them and preferred their evidence.”

Jackson has also been put on the Sex Offenders’ Register and will also be supervised for a further three years on his release.

Non-harassment orders banning him from contacting the women were further imposed.


Concern grows for missing woman last seen two nights ago

The 25-year-old was last seen on Monday and concern is growing.

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Missing: Bervely Chaleka from Edinburgh.

A major search is underway for a woman from Edinburgh who has been missing for two days.

Bervely Chaleka was last seen in the city’s Wester Hailes area on Monday and has not been in contact with any friends or family since.

Police say the disappearance is out of character for the 25-year-old who is described as being around 5ft7 with short dark hair.

When she was last seen she was wearing a white headscarf/bandana, navy jacket and light patterned loose fitting trousers.

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Inspector Keith Forrester from Wester Hailes Police Station said: “It is out of character for Bervely to go away and not keep in contact with her family.

“Her family are worried therefore if anyone has seen Bervely since Monday, or who has any information regarding her whereabouts, is urged to contact Police Scotland via 101.”

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Netflix acquires rights to Roald Dahl’s children’s books

The deal is set to produce films, TV series, spin-off games, immersive experiences and theatre shows.

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Netfilx: Bought Roald Dahl's work.

Netflix has bought the rights to Roald Dahl’s entire catalogue of children’s books in a landmark deal.

The streaming giant’s acquisition of the Roald Dahl Story Company (RDSC) will allow it to create a “unique universe” with the author’s classic characters, such as Matilda, the BFG and the Twits.

The deal is set to produce films, TV series, spin-off games, immersive experiences and theatre shows.

Netflix began a partnership with the RDSC in 2018 to create a slate of animated TV series, with approximately £733m in production spend planned.

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This deal included a series based on the world of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, currently being created by Oscar-winning filmmaker Taika Waititi and Oscar-nominee Phil Johnston, and Sony and production company Working Title are adapting Matilda The Musical.

In a joint statement, Netflix’s co-chief executive and chief content officer Ted Sarandos and managing director of RDSC and Dahl’s grandson, Luke Kelly, said they were “joining forces to bring some of the world’s most loved stories to current and future fans in creative new ways”.

They added: “As we bring these timeless tales to more audiences in new formats, we’re committed to maintaining their unique spirit and their universal themes of surprise and kindness, while also sprinkling some fresh magic into the mix.”

Kelly also said in a letter to their stakeholders: “Our mission at the Roald Dahl Story Company is to share the stories’ messages of hope and of the power and the possibility of young people.

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“We believe being part of a larger company will give us the additional support to continue in that mission.

“There is so much more to do with these beloved stories and their positive messages.

“We currently have plans in place for 19 TV shows, films, stage shows and live experiences, and with Netflix’s support we will be able to reach even more young people and families around the world.”

Kelly said that during the RDSC’s partnership with Nexflix, he has come to know it as a company that “drives for creative excellence” and one that has a “deep love for Dahl’s stories”.

He added: “We know that they will work closely with us to safeguard, nurture, and grow these stories and guard their unique spirit in the coming years.

“We simply could not think of a better partner to support our mission.”

The financial worth of the deal has not been disclosed, but RDSC said it will use a “significant part” of the proceeds from the sale to set up a charitable trust to support existing and new charity partners tackling children’s health, anti-hate and anti-racism.

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The RDSC confirmed its team will remain an “autonomous unit” within Netflix.


Irn-Bru Carnival set to return to Glasgow’s SEC this Christmas

The event was cancelled in 2020 after the Scottish Events Campus (SEC) was transformed into the NHS Louisa Jordan.

Irn-Bru Carnival via Website
Irn-Bru Carnival: The popular event is returning this Christmas.

The Irn-Bru Carnival is set to return to Glasgow this Christmas.

The popular event was cancelled in 2020 after the Scottish Events Campus (SEC) was transformed into the NHS Louisa Jordan hospital in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

On Wednesday, organisers announced its return.

Posting on Facebook, a spokesperson said: “It’s the moment you’ve all been waiting for… The Irn-Bru Carnival is back.”

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As well as dozens of stalls and rides, there will also be an inflatable play area for younger children.

The event will run from December 22 to January 16, aside from Christmas Day, and tickets will go on sale at 10am on Thursday. Autism-friendly sessions will be held on Friday, December 31 and Tuesday, January 11.

Covid guidelines will be put in place with visitors urged to comply with the measures.

The spokesperson added: “We’ve made a few small changes this year – but don’t worry, you’ll still have an awesome day out.

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“We can’t wait to see you all again.”

For more information, click here.

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