Sturgeon urges Johnson to increase Afghan refugees commitment

The First Minister called for the UK Government to increase its commitment from 20,000.

Nicola Sturgeon has urged Boris Johnson to increase the number of Afghan refugees. Pool/Pool via Getty Images / WPA Pool/Pool via Getty Images
Nicola Sturgeon has urged Boris Johnson to increase the number of Afghan refugees.

Nicola Sturgeon has urged Boris Johnson to increase the number of Afghan refugees the UK Government has committed to resettling.

In a letter, the First Minister wrote to the Prime Minister calling for the figure to be scaled up from 20,000, with 5000 in the first year.

Sturgeon insisted that a “substantial” increase in numbers is required, whilst seeking clarity on how many civilians – and particularly women, girls and others in need of refuge – will be protected.

The First Minister also asked for further detail on a proposed four nations summit on the Afghanistan crisis.


She wrote: “While recognising the pressures on accommodation capacity, we are concerned that the commitment to resettle 20,000 refugees in ‘the long term’ and just 5000 in the first year is not sufficient in the context of the humanitarian crisis that is unfolding. 

“We believe a commitment to a substantial increase in numbers is required and urgently seek further details of how civilians, especially women, girls and others in need of refuge will be protected. 

“As you will be aware, all 32 of Scotland’s local authorities participated in the Syrian Resettlement Programme, with over 3500 refugees welcomed into communities across Scotland under both that programme and the Vulnerable Children’s Resettlement Scheme. 

“We want our local authorities to be able to continue to provide strong support for refugees. 


“To do that, we need more detail about the new Afghan Citizens Resettlement Programme, including timescales for arrivals and funding to support local authority participation, as well as wider services which are essential to support people to settle and be able to begin to rebuild their lives.”

The letter was sent by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to Prime Minister Boris Johnson. (ScotGov)

Sturgeon asked Johnson about the options for humanitarian routes available for people in Afghanistan.

“People across our communities, including Afghans with family and friends who are still in Afghanistan, are distressed and concerned about how people will be able to leave and find a place of safety,” she wrote.

“I am keen to know more about options for humanitarian routes for people in Afghanistan.  In the current situation, many people will find it extremely difficult to directly reach a place of safety. 

“We must work to reduce the risk of people being forced to make perilous journeys or becoming vulnerable to the exploitation of traffickers.”

On Tuesday, G7 leaders met virtually to discuss the crisis in the country.

It comes as the Taliban say there will be no evacuations from Afghanistan after the August 31 deadline.


The militants said they will take a “different stance” after the cut-off date for evacuations passes.

And during a press conference in Kabul spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said: “August 31 is the time given and after that it’s something that is against the agreement.

“All people should be removed prior to that date.

“After that we do not allow them, it will not be allowed in our country, we will take a different stance.

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Scotland has ‘adequate petrol supply for normal demand’

Deputy first minister John Swinney said there had been discussions with fuel suppliers in Scotland.

Jeff J Mitchell via PA Media
Swinney: The Scottish Government has spoken to fuel suppliers.

Scotland has an adequate petrol supply to meet normal purchasing patterns, John Swinney has said, though a spike in demand could lead to pumps running out quickly.

The deputy first minister said the Scottish Government had spoken to fuel suppliers about distribution problems in recent days.

On Sunday the UK Government suspended competition laws to allow suppliers to target petrol stations which are running low.

As well as the shortage of HGV drivers, the industry has blamed “panic buying” from consumers for queues at forecourts around the UK.


Discussing the situation on the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland radio programme on Monday, Swinney said Brexit was to blame for the lack of drivers.

He said: “There is an adequate supply of fuel to meet normal demand, but it does hinge on being able to distribute that fuel to all locations.

“From my experience of dealing with difficulties about fuel supply in the past, when we had industrial action amongst tanker drivers, supply can run out very quickly because the petrol stations are being replenished with supply on a really very regular basis.”

He continued: “In a normal purchasing pattern then, I’m confident there is a distribution arrangement in place that can adequately supply those petrol stations.


“But obviously, if there is an increased demand for fuel, then that will put pressure on the distribution companies in being able to meet that demand in all locations around the country.”

Asked about the supply of goods for Christmas, the deputy first minister said that in addition to the shortage of drivers, Brexit had also caused problems with trade between Scotland and the continent.

He said: “It’s not just about the distribution arrangements, challenging though those are, it is also about the fact that the UK Government opted for an absolutely appalling arrangement with the European Union, which could have been avoided if it followed the advice we gave them to maintain membership of the single market.”

Swinney said the Scottish Government had not been in discussions with the Army about using soldiers to drive petrol tankers to stations.

The Prime Minister is reported to have been considering calling in the military to assist with fuel supply.

The Scottish Government drafted in soldiers to help drive non-emergency vehicles for the Scottish Ambulance Service amid pressure on the NHS, an arrangement which Swinney said would be reviewed in November.

Hotel guests taken to hospital after evacuation over chlorine smell

Emergency services attended the Inchyra Hotel due to concerns over strong smell of chlorine from swimming pool.

STV News

Seven people were taken to hospital after a luxury hotel was evacuated due to reports of a strong smell of chlorine coming from the building’s swimming pool.

Emergency services attended the Inchyra Hotel in Grangemouth when the alarm was raised at 7.30pm on Sunday.

Guests and staff were told to leave the building while the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) investigated.

Police said on Monday the incident was caused by “chemicals being used in the spa area”.


A Scottish Ambulance Service spokesperson said: “We received a call at 19.34hrs to attend an incident at Inchyra Grange Hotel in Polmont.

“We dispatched several resources to the scene and seven patients were transported to hospital.”

NHS Forth Valley said a small number of guests were taken to Forth Valley Royal Hospital on Sunday night for assessment and all have been discharged.

A spokesperson for the hotel’s operator Macdonald Hotels said: “Following reports of a stronger than normal smell of chlorine from the swimming pool at the Inchyra Hotel in Grangemouth, guests were initially evacuated to the car park, then accommodated in another wing of the hotel as a precaution whilst the fire brigade carried out investigations into the cause.”


SFRS sent two appliances and a specialist detection, identification and monitoring unit to the scene.

An SFRS spokesman said: “We were called at 7.30pm on Sunday to assist as part of a multi-agency response to an incident at a hotel on Grange Road.

“Operations control sent two appliances and specialist resources to the scene.”

Firefighters left the scene at about 11pm.

A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “Around 7.40pm on Sunday, 26 September, officers were called to assist at a hotel in Grange Road, Grangemouth, following a report of a chemical leak. Following a multi-agency response it was discovered that the incident was a result of chemicals being used in the spa area.

“A number of people were evacuated from the hotel as a precaution, but later returned.”

Police also confirmed some guests were taken to hospital, while others were examined by the Scottish Ambulance Service on site.

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Family’s plea to return dad’s body home after sudden death

Peter had volunteered in the community during the pandemic, but a defibrillator he helped fundraise for couldn't save his life.

Eleni Krasoudaki via Supplied
Panagiotis Giorgiou, better known as Peter, and his partner Eleni Krasoudaki.

The family and friends of a “big-hearted” charity volunteer and father-of-three are appealing for help to send his body home after his sudden death.

Panagiotis Giorgiou, better known as Peter or Pete the Greek, had moved to Scotland a few years ago and preparations were under way for his children to join him.

But on September 3, he suffered a cardiac arrest while on a homecare visit.

“It’s torture,” long-term friend Allan Stewart told STV News, “It doesn’t feel real, it just feels like he is back in Greece visiting his kids and mum and dad.”


Originally from Rhodes, Greece, the 52-year-old dog groomer became a carer for Mr Stewart after he had a stroke.

The pair had set up the G71 Community Action Group, a charity focussed on supporting those suffering hardship in Bothwell, Uddingston and Viewpark communities.

During the coronavirus pandemic, Peter made up and delivered hundreds of food parcels and prescriptions for vulnerable people as well as help fundraise for six defibrillators installed across the area.

When he collapsed in Allan’s home, those nearby tried to revive Peter with one of the devices installed just 100 yards away having performed CPR for 40 minutes.

Eleni Krasoudaki via Supplied

But despite their efforts he was pronounced dead in the ambulance heading to hospital.

Now Peter’s partner Eleni Krasoudaki, Allan and fellow volunteer Kirsty Gardiner are desperately trying to raise the funds needed to send his body to Greece so he can be laid to rest in his home village where his parents still live.

“I’ve never felt anything like this in my life before, because they’re trying to repatriate just now, it doesn’t feel real,” Allan said.

“We can’t get closure until he is home to his mum, dad and his kids.”

Family via Submitted

Kirsty said they had been told it could up to £10,000 to repatriate Peter’s body, with the funeral director liaising with the Greek authorities on the family’s behalf.

She told STV News that Eleni is bereft. Without Peter, she said, the 43-year-old has been left “lost and in limbo”.

“Peter was unique, so caring with a big heart,” Kirsty said, “He was old school, but his compassion shone through.”


You can donate to the fundraiser here.

Children aged 12 to 15 set to receive Covid jab appointments

Scheduled appointments offering children a single dose of the Covid-19 Pfizer vaccination will arrive this week.

valentinrussanov via IStock
Vaccine: Appointment letters will arrive this week.

Appointment letters inviting children aged between 12 and 15 for a coronavirus vaccine will be dropping through letterboxes this week.

Drop-in clinics have been available to this age group for the last week and now scheduled appointments, starting this week, are being issued to all those eligible.

Children aged between 12 and 15 will be offered a single dose of the Covid-19 Pfizer vaccine.

Parents and carers are being encouraged to accompany their children to community-based appointments where possible so they can discuss any questions they have with staff at the site.


The appointment letters, which will be arriving from Monday, contain an information leaflet, which all parents and carers are urged to read with their children so they can make an informed decision about getting the vaccine.

Health Secretary Humza Yousaf said: “The rollout of the Covid-19 vaccine to all children and young people aged 12-15 marks a significant milestone in the vaccination programme.

“It has been demonstrated that Covid-19 vaccines are safe and effective in this age group, and vaccination offers the best chance of protecting young people from Covid-19 and preventing further disruption to education. Many countries around the world have already been safely vaccinating children and young people in this age group.

“Getting the Covid-19 vaccine is a decision to be made jointly between parents or carers and their children, but it’s really important to use reliable and trusted sources such as NHS Inform when making a decision and assessing the potential benefits, risks and side effects.


“Individual choice should be respected for the decisions young people and their parents or carers make in accepting, or not accepting the vaccine offer.

“Where possible, parents or carers are welcome to attend appointments with their children and both can ask questions about any queries they have before the vaccination is given.

“I would like to thank all of the vaccinators and vaccine site staff who have worked so hard to get us to this stage of the Covid-19 vaccine programme.”

In some rural areas, 12 to 15-year-olds will be offered the jabs through their school vaccination programme instead of a community setting and they will receive letters and leaflets home from school.

Test and Protect data concerns referred to statistics watchdog

Newspaper reports there had been more than 50,000 'failed' contact tracing attempts in a year.

Jeff J Mitchell via Getty Images
Scottish Labour has reported data concerns to UK Statistics Authority.

Scottish Labour has reported the Test and Protect system’s data on coronavirus contact tracing times to the UK’s statistics watchdog.

It follows a report that official figures did not include “failed” contact tracing attempts – where the Test and Protect team were not able to reach positive cases by phone.

The Scottish Sun reported there had been more than 50,000 such failed cases in a year, making up around 10% of all Test and Protect cases.

The newspaper says these failed cases were not included in the weekly figures published by Public Health Scotland (PHS), which are used to determine if the system is meeting the international standard of the World Health Organisation (WHO).


The target is for 80% of cases to have their close contacts traced and quarantined within 72 hours of the case being confirmed.

The Scottish Government says it is confident in its interpretation of the PHS data and how it relates to the WHO standard.

Scottish Labour’s health spokeswoman Jackie Baillie said: “In the chaos of this unprecedented public health crisis, we need to be able to trust the official statistics we’re seeing.

“These astonishing revelations sum up everything that is wrong with the SNP’s handling of the pandemic – they show a government more concerned with hiding their failures rather than fixing them.


“This is not the first time they have been caught out pushing the boundaries of accuracy when it comes to statistics.

“The WHO’s mantra may be test, test, test, but the SNP’s is spin, spin spin.”

Baillie has written to the UK Statistics Authority seeking an investigation, saying that when the “failed” cases are included the overall performance dips below the WHO standard.

Other opposition parties also claimed the figures were misleading.

Dr Sandesh Gulhane, health spokesman for the Scottish Conservatives, said: “It is clear SNP ministers have misled the public on their poor performance for as long as possible.

“They wanted to spin that they were on top of tracing positive cases, but nothing could be further from the truth.

“The reality is that they have been cutting corners for well over a year.”


PHS have said they are reviewing the way data on Test and Protect is presented.

A Scottish Government spokesman told the Scottish Sun: “Test and Protect continues to work well, with contact tracing teams successfully handling record numbers of daily cases during the recent rise in cases.

“It is an integral part of the frontline pandemic response.

“We are confident in our interpretation of PHS’s published data on contact tracing performance and how it relates to performance against the indicator of 80% of cases closed in 72 hours.

“Those data reports set out transparently how performance figures are calculated.

“We are grateful to the high numbers of people who engage with contact tracing and provide details of their contacts.”

A spokesman for the UK Statistics Authority confirmed they had received Ms Baillie’s complaint on Monday.

Man charged and due to appear in court over rape of woman

Police say man arrested in connection with the serious sexual assault of a woman in Aberdeen.

© Google Maps 2020
Woman was allegedly attacked in Aberdeen's Bon Accord Terrace Gardens.

A man has been arrested and charged in connection with the alleged rape of a 29-year-woman in Aberdeen.

The alleged assault took place in the city’s Bon Accord Terrace Gardens in the early hours of Sunday morning.

A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “Police can confirm that a 20-year-old man has been arrested and charged in connection with the serious sexual assault of a 29-year-old woman, which happened at Bon Accord Terrace Gardens in Aberdeen, around 3.30am on Sunday, September 26.

“He is expected to appear in court on Monday.”

Cancer fight returns days after mum’s ‘magical’ Las Vegas wedding

Lynne Morgan received a voicemail from her doctor in Scotland hours before her marriage.

Stand Up To Cancer via Supplied / Lesley Martin via Supplied
Lynne and Sam on their wedding day and Lynne sporting her Stand Up To Cancer top.

A mum was about to be married in a “magical” Elvis themed wedding in Las Vegas’ Little White Chapel when she received a voicemail from her doctor calling her in for an urgent appointment.

Lynne Morgan was a 35-year-old single mum to her five-year-old daughter Ruby Cunningham when she was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011.

“…I thought I was going to die,” she said.

“And even if I didn’t die, I would go bald. I thought cancer meant I now had no chance of meeting someone new to share my life with. It was a frightening time.”

Lesley Martin via Supplied
Lynne Morgan with her husband Sam Morgan and daughter Ruby Cunningham.

Lynne had surgery to remove the cancer and breast reconstruction at Ninewells Hospital in Dundee. Then she underwent six sessions of chemotherapy over five months followed by 15 radiotherapy sessions.

Her recovery was slow, but once she was able to Lynn was fundraising for Cancer Research. It was at a Relay for Life event in a muddy Blairgowrie field that she met Sam.

A former Black Watch soldier, the 39-year-old had lost his right leg in Afghanistan when an armoured vehicle he was driving hit an explosive in May 2009.

‘Love pulled me through the toughest of times.’

Lynne Morgan

“Sam got my attention from the word go,” Lynne said.


“It was one of those moments. I think we were just meant to meet that night. We’ve both seen big challenges in life.

“Sam coped with so much in Afghanistan and afterwards had much to adjust to coming home too. I hope I’ve done everything I can to support him.

“And Sam has been there for me to lean on in those days when cancer feels overwhelming.”

Stand Up To Cancer via Supplied

On April 4, 2017, six years after being diagnosed and hours before she was due to be married in Las Vegas, Lynne listened to a voicemail that had come through on her mobile.

It was her doctor back in Scotland asking her to come in for an urgent hospital appointment.

Lynne and Sam arrived at the Little White Chapel on a Harley Davidson and were married by an Elvis impersonator.

‘I want to show that you can live well with cancer. It’s thanks to research and advances in treatment that I’m still standing.’

Lynne Morgan

“Love pulled me through the toughest of times,” she said.


“Even though I knew in my heart that cancer was back, the day we got married was still absolutely brilliant. It was magical.

“I felt so proud to marry this giant of a man who had been a rock for me.”

Just days later after flying home, Lynne had her fears confirmed – the cancer was back and it had spread.

Lesley Martin via Supplied
Lynne Morgan who was diagnosed with cancer after her wedding day launches Stand Up To Cancer in Scotland.

Lynne’s lungs and bones had been affected. Doctors at Ninewells explained her test results and started treatment again – with her receiving the chemotherapy drug Eribulin every three weeks.

Her daughter Ruby, now 15-years-old, was too young to know what cancer meant the first time round.

“But the second time I was diagnosed, she understood and has been amazing,” Lynne said.

“She wrote an essay for school on what it’s been like growing up with a mum who has cancer and her words were insightful.

“They made me cry but I’m proud of her. I’m touched that she’s joining us to Stand Up to Cancer this autumn.”

Lynne has been chosen to launch the joint fundraising campaign from Cancer Research UK and Channel 4 to raise money to accelerate life-saving research.

On October 15, Scots across the country will be asking for sponsors as they raise money by staying on their feet all day or for as long as they can.

“Not everyone has the chance to meet the love of their life and I’m fortunate to have found mine,” Lynne said.

“We’re there for each other. I want to show that you can live well with cancer. It’s thanks to research and advances in treatment that I’m still standing.

“I feel pretty good. I hope Scots will get on their feet and stand up everyone affected by this devastating disease.”

In Scotland, around 32,400 people are diagnosed with cancer every year.

SNP MSP Christina McKelvie thanked the NHS as she revealed she had completed treatment for breast cancer last week.

A special report on Scotland Tonight highlighted the devastating impact of brain tumours, which kill more people under the age of 40 than any other cancer in the UK.

It comes after warnings of a crisis in staffing with hundreds of cancer nurses needed to be trained in the next nine years, according to Macmillan Cancer Support.

Stand Up To Cancer has raised more than £84m, funding 59 clinical trials and projects involving more than 19,000 cancer patients across the country in its nine years in the UK.

To find out more about the fundraiser visit here.

Scotland records one Covid death and 2069 new cases in 24 hours

Around 4.1 million people in Scotland have now had their first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.

Rost-9D via IStock
The latest statistics were published by the Scottish Government on Monday.

Scotland has recorded 2069 new cases of Covid-19 and one death in the last 24 hours.

Official figures indicate that as of Sunday, 1023 people were in hospital with the virus, with 76 patients in intensive care.

Of the 23,553 new tests for coronavirus that reported results, 9.5% of those were positive.

Around 4.1 million people have had their first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, with around 3.8 million having had their second dose.


The latest statistics come as children aged between 12 and 15 begin to receive their vaccine appointment letters.

Drop-in clinics have been available to that age group for since last week, with parents and carers being encouraged to accompany children to sites when receiving their jabs.

Health secretary Humza Yousaf said it has been demonstrated that vaccines in this age group are safe and effective.

“The rollout of the Covid-19 vaccine to all children and young people aged 12-15 marks a significant milestone in the vaccination programme,” he said.


“It has been demonstrated that Covid-19 vaccines are safe and effective in this age group, and vaccination offers the best chance of protecting young people from Covid-19 and preventing further disruption to education.

“Many countries around the world have already been safely vaccinating children and young people in this age group.

“Getting the Covid-19 vaccine is a decision to be made jointly between parents or carers and their children, but it’s really important to use reliable and trusted sources such as NHS Inform when making a decision and assessing the potential benefits, risks and side effects.

More on:

Yellow warning over heavy rain in Scotland’s north-east

Warning for heavy showers in place until 12pm for Aberdeenshire, Moray and the Highlands.

Sezer Alcinkaya via IStock
Yellow weather warning in place for north-east Scotland.

A yellow weather warning for rain has been issued for the north-east of Scotland.

Heavy showers are expected to hit Aberdeenshire, Moray and the Highlands.

The weather warning is in place until about 2pm on Monday.

The Met Office warned flooding of businesses and homes in the area is likely and transport services will likely be delayed due to the weather.


Between 25 and 40mm of rainwater is possible, and perhaps as much as 50 to 60mm in a few places, according to weather experts.

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