Sturgeon’s appearance at Salmond inquiry postponed

First Minister will no longer appear before Scottish Parliament inquiry next Tuesday.

Sturgeon will not give evidence to Holyrood inquiry next week. Russell Cheyne - WPA/Pool via Getty Images
Sturgeon will not give evidence to Holyrood inquiry next week.

Nicola Sturgeon’s appearance at an inquiry investigating the Scottish Government’s handling of harassment complaints against Alex Salmond has been postponed.

The First Minister had been due to appear in front of the Scottish Parliament inquiry next Tuesday.

However, a court ruling on Thursday may pave the way for Salmond to eventually make an appearance after he earlier pulled out following a committee decision to not publish some of his evidence.

If he does agree to make an appearance, that hearing would take place before Sturgeon is invited to answer questions.

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A spokesperson for the Scottish Parliament said: “At its meeting today, the committee was united in its desire to complete this inquiry in an open and transparent way, and to publish its report and recommendations next month.

“Given the recent impact of the recent court judgement is not known, the committee has agreed that it must have the time to reflect on the impact of its work once the full written judgement is published early next week.

“As a result, the committee has agreed that the First Minster’s evidence should be postponed until the full impact of that judgement is considered.  

“It is important for the committee to hear from Mr Salmond and the committee has always been clear that the First Minister should be the last witness to appear before the inquiry.” 

Salmond was due to give evidence to the committee investigating the botched handling of complaints against him on Tuesday, but he refused to do so after it declined to publish evidence he submitted.

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The committee cited legal concerns over the identity of complainers in Salmond’s criminal trial last year, where he was cleared of 13 charges at the High Court in Edinburgh.

However, a judge on Thursday amended a court order which prevents the publication of anything that may identify the accusers, as well as clarifying its scope.

The Spectator magazine – which published the evidence submission that the committee declined to – applied to the court to vary the terms of the order.

Ronald Clancy QC, acting for the magazine, argued the order is having a “significant influence” on how the committee is operating.

Following a meeting of the committee on Friday, MSPs decided to postpone Sturgeon’s appearance scheduled for next Tuesday until the ramifications of the court order amendment are known.

Judge Lady Dorrian’s judgement will be published early next week.

The committee was set up after Salmond received a £512,000 payout following the Court of Session civil ruling that the Scottish Government’s handling of the complaints against the former First Minister was “unlawful” and “tainted by apparent bias”.

Police investigation into deaths at flagship Glasgow hospital

The deaths being looked at include that of a 73-year-old woman at the hospital campus as well as the deaths of three children.

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Police are investigating four deaths at the flagship Queen Elizabeth University Hospital (QUEH) in Glasgow, it has emerged.

The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) – which has a duty to investigate all sudden, unexpected and unexplained deaths – has instructed officers from Police Scotland to act.

While the investigation is understood to be at an early stage, it could potentially lead to a fatal accident inquiry or criminal charges.

The deaths being looked at include that of a 73-year-old woman at the hospital campus as well as the deaths of three children.

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One of those is Milly Main, who died in 2017 after contracting an infection found in water while being treated at the Royal Hospital for Children – part of the same campus as the QEUH.

Her mother Kimberly Darroch this week told an inquiry looking into issues with the construction of the Glasgow hospital campus and the Royal Hospital for Children and Young People in Edinburgh that she believes “what happened to my daughter is murder”.

Darroch told the Scottish Hospitals Inquiry: “My view is that the hospital should be closed. I don’t think it’s safe.”

She added: “I feel like the health board need to be punished for all of this.”

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A COPFS spokesman said: “The Procurator Fiscal has received reports in connection with the deaths of three children and a 73-year-old woman at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital campus, Glasgow.

“The investigation into the deaths is ongoing and the families will continue to be kept updated in relation to any significant developments.”

The spokesman added: “The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service is committed to supporting the work of the Scottish Hospitals Inquiry and contributing positively and constructively to that work.”

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar welcomed the news of the police investigation, telling STV News that he hoped the investigation would give the families of those who died “the justice they deserved”.


Petrol body blames fuel shortage on panic-buying customers

The UK Petroleum Industry Association has said distributors are working hard to replenish stocks.

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Fuel crisis: Distributors working hard on replenishing stocks.

The UK Petroleum Industry Association has said distributors are working hard to replenish stocks after the president of the AA blamed panic-buying for the shortage of fuel.

The group, which is the trade association for the UK downstream oil sector, has said there are no issues with “production, storage or import of fuels” as drivers queued at petrol stations across the country to fill up their tanks.

In a statement on Saturday, a spokesperson said: “There has been an increase in demand for fuels this week which is above and beyond what is usual.

“There are no reported issues with the production, storage, or import of fuels while distributors are working hard to replenish stocks at forecourts.

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“Customers should continue to buy fuel as they would normally.”

Earlier on Saturday, Edmund King, the head of the AA, said issues surrounding fuel should pass in a matter of days if drivers just stick to filling up when they need to, adding “there is plenty of fuel at source”.

Speaking to BBC Breakfast, Mr King said a shortage of lorry drivers had only been a “localised problem” earlier in the week.

His words come ahead of an expected announcement by the Government that visa rules for foreign lorry drivers will be relaxed.

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“We were in discussions with Government ministers last night and we talked to the major fuel companies, and we can reiterate there is not a problem with supply at the source,” Mr King said.

“Earlier in the week, there were some problems with the supply chain, as we know, due to a shortage of some lorry drivers, but that was only a localised problem.”

Mr King said the shortage had been exacerbated by “people going out and filling up when they really don’t need to”.

“If you think about it, 30 million cars out there, if they’ve all got half a tank (and) if they all rush out to fill up the rest of the tank and the tank is about 60 litres, that will put a strain on the system,” he said.

Mr King said the issues were unlikely to last because the supply chain is not being disrupted by ongoing problems such as industrial action.

“The good news is you can only really fill up once – you’ve got to use the fuel, so this should be a short-term thing,” he said.

“It’s not like the fuel crises in the past when the supplier was hit by strikes etc.

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“So, once people have filled up, they won’t travel more than they normally travel, so this strain on the system should ease up in the next few days.”

While fuel shortages are unlikely to last, Mr King said a shortage of lorry and HGV drivers was an ongoing issue.

“The market is stretched, so I think that is a broader issue that is affecting the supply chain, not just the petrol and diesel, but retail as well.”

Mr King said the Government has freed up a number of driving tests for HGV drivers in training but said he did not know the specifics of further action it plans to take.


Coronavirus: Further 18 deaths and 3261 new cases reported

The test positivity rate in Scotland has now risen to 8.8%, an increase from 8.5% on Friday.

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Coronavirus: Further 18 people die having tested positive for the virus.

A further 18 deaths and 3261 new cases of coronavirus have been recorded in Scotland overnight, according to official figures.

On Saturday, the Scottish Government revealed 40,397 new tests were carried out in the past 24 hours, with the test positivity rate rising to 8.8% from 8.5% the previous day.

There are 1005 people in hospital with recently confirmed Covid-19, a decrease of six, with 79 of those in intensive care, no change from Friday.

There have now been 4,172,573 people who have received the first dose of a coronavirus vaccination, with 3,824,074 having received their second dose.


Security fence to be installed at SEC ‘to guard against terror attack’

An outer security perimeter will provide a suitable 'stand off' in 'the event of a terrorist attack'.

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COP26: The security measure was presented to a committee by the council on Thursday.

The SEC in Glasgow is set to be locked down with a high security fence line during the COP26 climate conference to guard against a potential terrorist attack.

Extra security measures will be put in place where the fence crosses roads to ward off vehicle attacks.

An outer security perimeter is to provide a suitable “stand off” in “the event of a terrorist attack” according to a council report presented to a committee on Thursday. 

Police chief constable Iain Livingstone is also expected to apply for an anti-terrorist traffic regulation order to close roads and paths around the SEC.

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Glasgow City Council head of roads Andy Mollon laid out the plans as he faced criticism over cycle path diversions during the November event. 

Mr Mollon said there will be unavoidable travel disruptions and described “COP26 as the biggest event that the UK let alone Scotland has held for many years if ever.”

He said: “Due to the scale and complexity of the event, which involves the attendance of world leaders and climate activists, we will experience temporary changes to the movement of traffic around the city.”

A number of locations outside the outer security perimeter could also face closures during COP26 depending on the situation. 

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The global summit is expected to see 30,000 delegates visit Glasgow between October 31 and November 12.

Cyclist campaigner Thomas Cornwallis presented a petition to Glasgow City Council calling for path diversions during the summit to be safe, pointing out concerns over some of the alternative routes.

The Convenor for GoBike Glasgow wants cyclists to be able to use Finnieston Street – which would remain open for pedestrians during the event.

Speaking at the Wellbeing, Empowerment, Community and Citizen Engagement City Policy Committee, Mr Cornwallis said: “When COP26 comes to Glasgow in November this year Glasgow City Council have a duty under their declared climate emergency to do everything they can to ensure that travel around the city during this conference is allowed to be as sustainable as possible for the citizens.”

Mr Cornwallis pointed out a diversion from the Squinty Bridge would be two miles longer and the Bridge to Nowhere flyover would be closed to cyclists. 

Councillor Allan Young, Scottish Green Party, asked for the council to meet with GoBike as they “have a lot of good ideas.”

Mr Mollon said other partners would need to be there and he couldn’t commit to a meeting without checking as there is limited time. 

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Mr Cornwallis described being shocked by the state of the COP26 active travel diversion route, which he cycled. 

He said: “Sending a cyclist down Argyle Street will get someone seriously injured or killed without a proper diversion.”

The meeting heard a path at Argyle Street can’t have a barrier protected path due to security reasons. 

Mr Mollon said suggestions from Mr Cornwallis will be considered but the meeting heard security measures to ensure people’s safety is paramount.

The committee was told there may be flexibility on active travel route closures depending on the situation and the scale of the event is “unprecedented.”

Council official Jamie Rodden said a worst case scenario had been presented and efforts would be made to keep certain routes open such as the west city way.

Mr Rodden described the scale of the operation for the huge event as “unprecedented.”

The meeting heard the diversions could feature temporary barriers to segregate traffic from bikes.

Mr Mollon said plans are a “fluid situation.”

Committee convenor Annette Christie asked for officers to engage with GoBike, communicate about ongoing closures and keep councillors updated. 

Cycle routes proposed for closure include the A814 Clydeside Expressway, Stobcross Street, Finnieston Street, The Clyde Arc and parts of the National Cycle Network.

Reporting by local democracy reporter Sarah Hilley


Soldiers begin deployment to ambulance service amid ‘crisis point’

More than 200 army personnel have been deployed to assist the service.

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Soldiers throughout the country have started supporting the Scottish Ambulance Service amid growing NHS pressures.

More than 200 army personnel have been deployed to assist the service by driving ambulances and operating mobile coronavirus testing units.

The Scottish Government requested military assistance to help deal with deteriorating response times after reports of patients dying and waiting in agony for hours before paramedics arrived.

After a grandad died having waited 40 hours for paramedics, a doctor told STV News the Scottish Ambulance Service is at “crisis point”.

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Over 100 are soldiers are driving ambulances this weekend with a further 111 operating the testing units that the military also previously helped run the units during the height of the pandemic last year.

The Ministry of Defence said its staff, including members of the The Royal Highland Fusiliers, were expected to be deployed for a couple of months.

Health secretary Humza Yousaf said on Friday that he will “leave no stone unturned” as part of efforts to improve both the ambulance response times and increase capacity in Scotland’s hospitals.

After meeting some of the soldiers being trained at the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service base in Hamilton, Yousaf said: “I’m delighted to be here to thank the military personnel who really answered our call, with their support and their help.”


Man sought over Sabina Nessa’s death ‘must be traced’

The 28-year-old school teacher's body was found on September 18 in London.

Met Police via Met Police
Appeal: Police urge witnesses to come forward over Ms Nessa's death.

Police have said the man they are searching for in connection with the murder of teacher Sabina Nessa “must be traced”, a week after her body was found.

The Met said the balding man shown in CCTV footage released on Friday is believed to have been carrying a reflective red object as he walked through Pegler Square, Kidbrooke, south-east London, where Ms Nessa had been heading on the evening she died.

Detective Chief Inspector Neil John, from the Met’s Specialist Crime Command, said the man, pictured wearing a black hooded jacket and grey jeans, may have been trying to hide the object up his sleeve.

He said: “I continue to appeal for any witnesses and anyone with information to contact police and share what they know.

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“People in the Kidbrooke area last Friday may recall seeing this man carrying a red reflective object, and possibly trying to conceal it up his sleeve. If so, please call police.

“Please share the CCTV footage on social media and, especially if you have connections to London or Kent, show the image to family members and friends who may not have seen it. He must be traced.

“We all saw at yesterday evening’s vigil the impact that Sabina’s death has had on the community.

“I would reiterate my plea to those in the local area to think and if you have any information that could help this investigation, then please get in touch.”

Metropolitan Police via Metropolitan Police
Police released CCTV images of the man they want to trace.
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Hundreds of mourners, including tearful relatives, gathered for the emotional candlelit vigil in memory of the Rushey Green Primary School teacher who was just 28 when she died.

Jebina Yasmin Islam, Ms Nessa’s sister, broke down as she addressed crowds at the vigil.

She said: “I just want to say thank you to everyone who came today to show support for my sister.

“We have lost an amazing, caring, beautiful sister, who left this world far too early.”

She added: “Sabina loved her family.

“Words cannot describe how we are feeling, this feels like we are stuck in a bad dream and can’t get out of it – our world is shattered, we are simply lost for words.

“No family should go through what we are going through.”

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Ms Nessa’s uncle Shahin Miah described his niece as “a kind and a open-minded person”, who was “always smiling and helping others”.

He said Ms Nessa’s death has “once again brought to the fore the question of women’s safety on the streets”.

In his statement, he said: “We don’t want what happened to Sabina to happen to anyone else.

“We don’t want any other mother’s chest to be empty or filled with deep sorrow, or to see the tears in the eyes of any father.”

The Duchess of Cambridge also described how she was “saddened by the loss of another innocent young woman on our streets” on Twitter.

OneSpace community centre, which is close to where a dog walker discovered Ms Nessa’s body on Friday, invited members of the community to write tributes to her in a book of condolence as it re-opened on Saturday.

The building had been cordoned off by police as they searched the surrounding Cator Park where officers believe Ms Nessa was attacked, and it remained closed until the weekend as a “mark of respect”, the owners said.

Ms Nessa had been walking to meet a friend at a pub near her home when she was attacked in Cator Park on September 17.

Her body was discovered by a member of the public the next day, having been hidden under a pile of leaves, it was reported.

Two men were separately arrested on suspicion of her murder but were subsequently released under investigation.

Detectives also circulated an image, captured in the same area, of a silver car they believe the man they are searching for had access to and appealed for anyone who recognised either to contact the force immediately.

The Metropolitan Police remain keen to trace a third man spotted near where Ms Nessa was killed on the night she died and captured in the 12-second CCTV clip.


Police release CCTV images in appeal following city centre assault

The incident took place on Hope Street in Glasgow earlier this month.

Police Scotland
A man required hospital treatment following the incident.

Police have released CCTV images of a man they believe could help with their investigation into an assault in Glasgow city centre.

The incident took place on Hope Street at around 10.15pm on Tuesday, September 7, with a man being taken to hospital.

Officers say that the individual in the images may have information that could assist with their inquiries.

CCTV images of the man have been released by police. (Police Scotland)

He is described as white, aged in his late 20s to early 30s, around 5ft 8ins, with shaved, fair hair.

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In the images, he can be seen to be wearing a royal blue North Face t-shirt and shorts and is carrying a black drawstring bag with ‘JD’ on it.  

Detectives are asking the man in the image, or anyone who recognises him or who has information regarding this incident, to contact officers through 101 quoting reference number 3748 of September 7.

Alternatively, Crimestoppers can be contacted on 0800 555 111, where anonymity can be maintained.


Gardener smashes record by growing world’s largest marrow

Vince Sjodin, 49, unveiled the huge marrow at the UK National Giant Vegetables Championship.

SWNS via SWNS
Marrow-velous: Gardener grows huge marrow weighing 255lbs.

A British gardener has grown the world’s largest ever marrow weighing a monstrous 255lbs – smashing the current record by nearly 50lbs.

Vince Sjodin, 49, unveiled the gigantic vegetable at the UK National Giant Vegetables Championship on Friday.

Vince carted his 255lbs masterpiece all the way from Wales to the Malvern Autumn Show in Worcestershire.

It was measured by an adjudicator for Guinness World Records – breaking the record for biggest ever marrow on the planet.

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The previous record was set by Dutch farmer Brad Wursten in September 2009 who registered a marrow weighing 206.5 pounds.

Kevin Fortey, 43, also broke the record for the UK’s largest cantaloupe melon weighing in at 32lbs.

The pair were extremely thrilled with their achievements and are striving to grow even larger vegetables in the future.


Three injured after incident involving light aircraft at airport

Fire crews reportedly had to cut three people from the plane following the incident at Teesside Airport.

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Incident: Three people taken to hospital.

The runway at Teesside Airport has been closed after an incident involving a light aircraft left three people in hospital.

The airport said in a statement on Twitter that the incident occurred at 9.39am on Saturday and the pilot and two passengers on board needed emergency care.

It said its runway would remain closed “until further notice” while an investigation is carried out.

Rob Cherrie, general manager at County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service, told the PA news agency that the light aircraft “had taken off then come back down again very quickly”.

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Mr Cherrie, who was incident commander at the scene, said: “I wouldn’t like to speculate on why that occurred.”

He said that fire crews had been forced to cut the three people out of the plane.

There were passengers at the airport waiting to board flights at the time of the crash.

“I wouldn’t say it’s the busiest airport but there were passengers present – by the time we went on to the runway it was closed and flights had been diverted up to Newcastle etc.”

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The fire service sent two fire engines to the scene, while two of the airport’s own appliances had been part of the response, Mr Cherrie said.

Teesside Airport said: “We can confirm an incident occurred today involving a light aircraft at 9.39am. A pilot and two passengers were onboard and have been taken to hospital.

“Our runway will remain closed until further notice while a thorough investigation is carried out.

“We would like to thank the emergency services (and) on-site staff for their quick response.”

In a message to passengers due to travel on outbound Ryanair flights, it said: “Arrangements have been made for all passengers to be coached to Newcastle Airport where the flight will depart.

“Please note, you must check-in for your flight at Teesside.

“We’d like to thank you for your patience and cooperation.”

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The North Eastern Ambulance Service (NEAS) said one of the three casualties had suffered serious injuries.

NEAS said in a statement: “We were called at 9.35am to reports of a light aircraft crashing at Durham Tees Valley Airport.

“We sent two ambulances, a specialist paramedic, an officer and requested support from the Great North Air Ambulance.

“In total, three patients were taken to James Cook hospital, one with serious injuries. One patient was taken by air and the two other patients were transported by road.”

Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen tweeted: “Thoughts and prayers are with the three people onboard at the time of the incident and their families.

“At this time I want to thank the incredible response by the airport fire service and the immediate response of local emergency services to the incident.”

The Air Accident Investigation Branch said: “An accident at Teesside International Airport involving a light aircraft has been notified to the AAIB.

“An investigation has been launched and a multidisciplinary team of inspectors are on their way to the accident site.”


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