Tories to unveil plans for vote of no confidence in Sturgeon

Douglas Ross has called for support from other parties in a bid to oust the First Minister.

Politics: Douglas Ross has called for support from other parties in a bid to oust the First Minister. PA Media via PA Ready
Politics: Douglas Ross has called for support from other parties in a bid to oust the First Minister.

The Scottish Tories will unveil plans to bring forward a no confidence vote in the First Minister on Tuesday, the party’s leader has announced.

Following his speech to the party’s conference on Monday, Douglas Ross told journalists that a timeline for a vote of no confidence in Nicola Sturgeon will be announced.

Ross claims the First Minister lied to parliament over when she knew about allegations of harassment against Alex Salmond, which if proven would be a breach of the ministerial code, and he would look to oust her in the final weeks of the parliamentary session.

The First Minister referred herself for investigation to the independent adviser on the ministerial code, James Hamilton, who is currently looking into the allegations.

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In his conference speech, Ross said: “The evidence against Nicola Sturgeon is overwhelming and mounting up every day.

“If we allow her to get away with this, then we say that the truth is worthless in Scottish politics.

“We can’t let more than £500,000 wasted, lies to parliament and the mother of all cover-ups, go without challenge.”

Ross went on to implore other parties in Holyrood to back the vote, saying: “So, we will bring that vote of no confidence in the First Minister.

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“Win or lose – we will put all the damage that she has done out there for all to see.

“We will not hold back. From now to May, we’re not going to back off an inch.

“I would urge the other parties to get behind us, to stand up for truth, stand up for our parliament, stand up to the SNP.

“We have the votes, don’t cave in again, don’t duck this chance to be counted,

“Don’t let Nicola Sturgeon get away with this.”

But less than a minute later, Ross attacked the Greens as “lackeys” of the Scottish Government, the Lib Dems as “teetering on the edge of political extinction” and said the Labour Party were “weak, full stop”.

When asked if this was a wise strategy to win support from other opposition parties, Ross said: “They can see the evidence that’s very clear to the Scottish Conservatives and people across Scotland.

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“It’s undeniable that Nicola Sturgeon has lied to the Scottish Parliament and the Scottish people, she and her government have wasted hundreds of thousands of taxpayers’ money with a case that they were told by their lawyers would not be successful.”

Ross added: “If political leaders are so sensitive about what other political leaders say about them, then they shouldn’t really be in politics if that’s a determinant on how they vote.”

The Tories previously failed in their bid to oust deputy first minister John Swinney after he did not release legal advice following two votes by MSPs in Holyrood.

Once the motion was lodged, Swinney agreed to release “key legal advice”, which was enough to secure the support of the Scottish Greens and keep him in post.

A spokesman for Nicola Sturgeon said: “The fact that the Tories announced this vote before the First Minister had even appeared before the parliamentary committee to give evidence shows that this was always about grubby politics rather than supporting the women who were badly let down.

“One by one, the conspiracy theories and smears thrown at the First Minister in this whole affair have been demolished by the documentary evidence – and yet Douglas Ross and the Tories still choose to indulge them.

“The First Minister and the SNP Government are entirely focussed on leading Scotland through the pandemic, which is exactly what the people of Scotland would expect – and it is becoming ever clearer that on the issues that matter, the Tories under Douglas Ross have absolutely nothing positive to offer.”


Husband tells of loss of wife, son and friend in loch tragedy

Waris Ali tried to save Edina Olahova, Rana Haris Ali and Muhammad Asim Riaz from drowning at Loch Lomond on Saturday.

Contributed via Waris Ali
Waris Ali with his wife Edina Olahova and their son Rana Haris Ali.

A widower has told how he tried in vain to save his drowning wife in a tragedy that also claimed the lives of his nine-year-old son and a family friend.

Edina Olahova, 29, and Rana Haris Ali, nine, and Muhammad Asim Riaz, 41, died after getting into difficulty in the water near Pulpit Rock at Loch Lomond on Saturday evening.

Waris Ali said they had stopped at the beauty spot as they headed home from Skye.

The children were on a pier and went into the water thinking it was shallow but it was “too deep” and they “went under”.

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He told Sky News his wife saw the children drowning and the adults jumped in to save them.

He spoke of trying to save his wife: “I managed to stay afloat and head towards the shallow water, but when I got out, I saw my wife’s hands outside and just her eyes out of the water.

“I took my shirt off and threw it to her so she could grab it, but she couldn’t.

“I then went to go and get help.”

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He said a Scottish man saved Mr Riaz’s son but could not rescue the other three from the water.

“I was trying to save my wife for some time, took my shirt off but realised I couldn’t do anything to save her.

“And the guy who came couldn’t save anyone else, just Asim’s son,” he said.

The seven-year-old boy was was taken to hospital.

Three further people died in separate incidents in Scotland’s waters at the weekend, making it one of the worst in memory for the fire service, according to a senior officer.

An 11-year-old boy died in a river at Stonehouse, a 13-year-old boy lost his life in water at Hazelbank in Lanark while a 16-year-old boy died at Balloch at the south end of Loch Lomond on Friday.

Speaking about the deaths on Monday, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “These are just heartbreaking human tragedies.

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“Like everyone else across the country my thoughts are with the families of those who are grieving loved ones right now.”

She added: “These tragedies are a reminder that the beauty of some of our waters often belies the dangers they hold.

“Even if you think you’re a good, strong swimmer, if you don’t understand the current or the depths or the impact of sudden cold water on the body, then you can be putting yourself in real danger.

“I think we’ll want to reflect on what more can be done to educate young people about the dangers as well as the beauties of water.”

Police Scotland deputy chief constable Will Kerr urged people to be aware of the “float for your life” campaign, which urges swimmers who find themselves in difficulty to float as much as possible and call for help.

He said: “We’re realistic and practical, we’re not going to stop everybody going into the water in this beautiful weather.

“Please, please, we want to avoid any more of these terrible tragedies.

“Just be very, very careful when you do so and make sure you know the advice on how to protect yourself and save yourself if you do get into trouble.”

Alasdair Perry, a deputy assistant chief officer for the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, told BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme: “This is the worst weekend in relation to incidents of this nature I can remember and I’d like to offer my condolences and those of everyone at the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service to all those affected by this weekend’s tragic events, and in particular to the friends and families of all those involved.”

Simon Jones, the executive lead for water safety at Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, added: “It’s been a terrible week in the park and across other parts of Scotland as well for tragic events.

“Our deepest sympathies go out to friends and family.

“We can’t remember a period like this, many of our staff were closely involved and it’s been very traumatic for people involved.”

Mr Perry urged those swimming in open water to adhere to safety advice, not to leave young people unattended and to ensure they do not swim after consuming alcohol.

What should you do if you’re struggling in water?

Advice to stay safe in open water after a spate of deaths in Scotland over the weekend.

Loch Lomond Rescue Boat via Facebook
Six people drowned in Scotland's open waters at the weekend, including four in Loch Lomond.

Six drownings in Scotland over the weekend have highlighted the risks of swimming in open water.

High temperatures in recent weeks have tempted many to go wild swimming despite warnings of unpredictable waves, rip currents and much colder water than people were expecting.

Cold water shock can leave swimmers short of breath and struggling to use their arms and legs properly.

The RNLI and Royal Lifesaving Society are among the organisations to have issued advice on staying safe and what to do if you get into trouble.

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Here’s their top tips:

Plan ahead

If you’re looking for a safe place to swim, try to pick somewhere that has a lifeguard on site and don’t go alone.

If that’s not possible, make sure you know where you can enter and exit the water and that you’re aware of any potential hazards at your location.

Find out what the tides and currents are doing and learn how to spot rip currents – a strong surge of water heading away from the shore.

Have the right equipment

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Wear a wetsuit to help you stay warm and increase your buoyancy – that will help you stay in the water for longer.

You should also wear a brightly coloured swimming hat and take a float, ideally one you can attach yourself to.

A mobile phone in a waterproof pouch can also prove extremely valuable in a crisis.

Float to live

Rip currents in open water can be very strong – if you find yourself struggling, avoid the temptation to fight against it.

If you have an inflatable, try to hold on to it, but if not, relax and float on your back until you’re out of the current.

If can you can stand, try to wade out of the water, but if you have to swim, stay parallel to the shore to avoid drifting further away from dry land.

In an emergency

Always call 999 and ask for the coastguard.


Thunderstorms and floods to hit Scotland as heatwave ends

The Met Office said yellow weather warnings are in place for most of the country this week.

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The Met Office said a yellow thunderstorm warning is in place for most of the country.

Scotland warned of thunderstorms and rain over the next four days following weeks of hot weather.

The Met Office said a yellow thunderstorm warning is in place for most of the country for 12 hours from noon on Tuesday

Yellow rain warnings also follow for all of Wednesday and the early hours of Thursday morning.

Experts have warned of potential damage to buildings as a result of floodwater, lightning strikes, hail and strong winds.

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The Met Office also warned of delays and cancellations to public transport as well as potential disruption on roads.

It comes after areas across the central belt were hit with close to 30C heat last week.

STV Weather reporter Philip Petrie said: “Unfortunately the fine dry and sunny conditions many of us experienced last week and over the weekend are taking a bit of a turn this week as low pressure takes control of the weather. This will keep things feeling changeable and unsettled for the rest of the week.

“Already today the Met Office have issued a couple of weather warnings to start the new week. Tomorrow we have a warning for Thunderstorms – this is due to the fact we are retaining the warm conditions from last week but adding the effects of low pressure, so we are likely to see some heavy, persistent and thundery downpours.

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“The warning area covers a large part of the country, stretching down from the Highlands to Dumfries and Galloway and parts of the Borders. We could see some local transport disruption and flooding.

“Come Wednesday a rain warning comes into effect as the rainfall totals begin to top up – again we could see some localised flooding and travel disruption but the warning area covers a smaller part of the country.

“Of course the rain may be welcome by some, after all the dry and humid conditions lately it may be some relief for farmers and those who struggle in the heat.

“The unsettled conditions look set to continue for the rest of the week, and it is likely the Met Office will issue further warnings, so we will be keeping an eye out.”


Health secretary ‘confident’ of easing restrictions despite missed target

All major Covid-19 restrictions are due to be relaxed on August 9 but only if the over-40 age group is fully vaccinated.

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Scotland’s health secretary remains “confident” of the easing of most legal restrictions on August 9, despite having missed a vaccination target set for Monday.

The First Minister said she expected to have the whole 40 to 49-year-old age group jagged, but figures show the real uptake is just 75.8% as of Sunday – with the figure for first doses also falling short of full uptake at 90.7%.

Opposition politicians have accused the Scottish Government of failings in the vaccination programme, but Humza Yousaf praised the rollout, saying he was “confident” of seeing most restrictions ease on August 9.

“The First Minister, of course, is going to update Parliament on August 3, and it is appropriate that she gives the update – I wouldn’t want to pre-empt it, but we’re still confident of being able to move forward,” he told the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland radio programme.

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He added: “We can say that 91% of over-40s have been fully vaccinated.

“You have to remember, this is non-mandatory vaccine. To have 91% of over=40s vaccinated in a non-mandatory vaccine is quite simply an astounding achievement and our vaccinators and all those involved in the programme should be thanked for their efforts.

“Anybody suggesting, as the opposition have done, it is humiliating, or a failure, I’m afraid that’s just mischief.”

The figure quoted by the health secretary is for second doses of anyone over the age of 40, not just the 40-49 age group.

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All major Covid-19 restrictions are due to be relaxed on August 9, but only if the over-40 age group is fully vaccinated – which the Scottish Government has described as a “gateway condition”.

The Telegraph reported on Monday that vaccination centres may be set up near busy pubs and restaurants in an effort to ensure young people get jagged.

When asked about the reports, Yousaf said: “Every health board has had a very clear directive from me – that they should go out to where young people in particular are, because that’s where the lower uptake is.

“We’ve seen vaccination units go to shopping centres, we’ve seen them on the high street – where of course there would be bars and restaurants – I think in Lothian they had a bus outside Ikea yesterday.

“They’re going to where we hope young people are.

“So yes, going to bars and restaurants, where there’s higher volumes of people, I’ve told health boards – do whatever you can with the pop-up clinics and vaccination units to get to young people and as many people as you can.”

He added: “That’s part of the strategy and there’s no complaints from me to health boards doing that.”

Scotland records 1000 new Covid cases and zero deaths

The latest figures were published by the Scottish Government on Monday.

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First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has urged caution as the country seeks to move out of the pandemic.

Scotland recorded 1000 new cases of coronavirus and zero deaths in the last 24 hours.

Official statistics showed that as of Sunday, 475 people were in hospital and 65 people were in intensive case.

The figures, published by the Scottish Government, also showed that close to 4m people have had their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, whilst just over 3m have had their second dose.

It comes one week after Scotland was moved to level zero – the lowest level of coronavirus restrictions in Scotland.

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The move means that hospitality venues are able to stay open until midnight, and up to eight people from four households can enter homes and stay overnight, amongst other changes.

However, masks will continue to be compulsory on public transport and in shops “for some time” in Scotland.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has urged caution and urged people to get vaccinated as the country seeks to move out of the pandemic.

Under the current route map, most major legal restrictions will be lifted in Scotland on August 9, but Sturgeon has made clear that decisions made will be kept under review.


Woman attacked by cyclist after she refused to talk to him

The 24-year-old was followed before being assaulted on a railway bridge.

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Police: Appealing for information.

A woman has been left shaken after being assaulted by a man who tried to engage her in conversation.

The attack took place in Kilmarnock, Ayrshire, in the early hours of Sunday.

The 24-year-old victim was walking along Bonnyton Road at around 12.10am when she was approached and followed by the man on a bike.

After she rejected his attempt to strike up a conversation and get her attention he continued to follow her towards a nearby railway bridge where he assaulted her.

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The man is described as being in his mid-20s and around 5ft8.

He spoke in broken English and is thought to be of Eastern European descent.

After the attack he cycled off in the direction of Warwickhill Road.

Detective Inspector Stuart Dougan said: “I am appealing to anyone who was in the area at the time or who saw a man matching this description on a bike to please come forward if you have not already.

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“If you are a local resident and have CCTV or a driver with a dash-cam, please check back and see if there is any footage that could assist our enquiries.

“Information can be provided by calling us on 101.

“I would like to reassure members of the public that this is believed to be an isolated incident and we are doing everything we can to identify the man responsible.

“Our officers will continue to patrol the area over the coming days. If you have any concerns, or any information in relation to the incident, please do speak to them or contact police on 101.”


Earthquake reaching 2.5 in Richter scale shakes Midlothian

A tremor was recorded at around 5km under the surface on Monday.

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Earthquake: 2.5 on Richter scale.

An earthquake reaching 2.5 in the Richter scale has hit Scotland.

The quake struck in Midlothian, near Penicuik, just after 11am on Monday.

Locals in Penicuik and Loanstone experienced mild shaking of the ground and some buildings.

The British Geological Survey (BGS) say a tremor was recorded at around 5km under the surface and may have been felt as far as Bonnyrigg, 5.5 miles away.

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A spokesman for BGS said: “We detected an 2.5ML earthquake south of Edinburgh at 10.01 this morning, just outside Penicuik.

“We’ve already received a few felt reports, and given it location its likely to have been felt by quite a few people.”


Police estimate almost 200 dogs stolen in past year

Figures released to the Kennel Club suggests there were 193 suspected dog thefts in 2020.

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Dog theft: Almost 200 suspected cases in 2020.

Almost 200 dogs may have been stolen in Scotland last year, according to police estimates.

Figures released to the Kennel Club through freedom of information requests suggests there were 193 suspected dog thefts in 2020.

Across the UK, at least 1751 dogs were reported as stolen, although nine of the 45 police forces failed to provide figures.

The UK Government has launched a taskforce to look at the issue of dog thefts, with the Kennel Club calling for them and devolved administrations to introduce harsher punishment for the crime.

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The Kennel Club’s health, welfare and breeder executive, Bill Lambert, stressed that dog theft has “devastating consequences for both the owners and the animals involved”.

Mr Lambert also lambasted the “frankly jaw-dropping” statistic that just two per cent of dog theft cases resulted in a suspect being charged, according to figures provided by 27 police forces.

He added: “Not only that but when a sentence is handed out it is often treated no more seriously than a petty crime, despite the fact that there is nothing ‘petty’ about pet theft.

“The low charge rates and the paltry sentences are an almost open invitation to criminals looking to target innocent dog owners.

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“While most people will never be unfortunate enough to fall victim to this crime, those that do are left totally bereft but without a clear route to justice.

“We welcome the UK Government taking this issue seriously and hope that the taskforce can deliver meaningful change that will give greater transparency in how we report and record this crime, and deliver more proportionate sentences that treat dog theft with the seriousness it deserves.

“It’s time to see the Scottish Government step up too, for the sake of Scotland’s pets.”


Drownings: Weekend ‘one of the worst’ in Loch Lomond’s history

Six people lost their lives after getting into difficulty in Scottish waters over the weekend.

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The past weekend has “undoubtedly been one of the worst” in the history of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, according to the park authority’s chief executive.

Gordon Watson was speaking after six people died in Scottish waters, including four in Loch Lomond, in just over 24 hours.

The youngest victim was a boy of nine, while a seven-year-old boy is also fighting for his life after they both got into difficulty in the water near to Pulpit Rock at Loch Lomond, south of Ardlui, on Saturday evening.

That incident also claimed the lives of a 41-year-old man and a 29-year-old woman.

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Watson, chief executive of Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park Authority, said:  “First and foremost, I want to extend my deepest sympathies to the loved ones of those who have died.

“I also want to thank all of those involved in the search and recovery operations. This has undoubtedly been one of the worst weekends in the National Park’s history.

“We work hard to help people enjoy the waters of the national park safely and responsibly using a range of measures, including new safety equipment on our sites, clear signage and safety campaigns in the summer months.

“Over the coming days we will, along with our partners, reflect on the events of this weekend and discuss what more can be done by us all to prevent further tragedies in our lochs.”

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The first of the six fatalities occurred on Friday evening, when a 16-year-old boy died in the water at Balloch Country Park, at the south end of Loch Lomond.

Then an 11-year-old boy was pronounced dead at the scene after being found in the river at Alexander Hamilton Memorial Park in Stonehouse, South Lanarkshire, at 4.30pm on Saturday afternoon.

Police were then called out to Hazelbank in Lanark at 5.55pm, following a report of concern for a person in the water.

Emergency services who attended at the scene recovered a body from the water, with the family of a 13-year-old boy made aware of the incident.

Less than an hour later, at 6.40pm on Saturday, police were called out after a group of people got into difficulties in the water near Pulpit Rock.

As well as claiming the lives of a man, woman and child, a seven-year-old boy had to be taken by ambulance to the Royal Hospital for Children in Glasgow, where he is currently in intensive care.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said her “thoughts and condolences” were with the families of those who had died and urged people to stay safe in Scotland’s waters.

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She tweeted: “This is heartbreaking – my thoughts and condolences are with the loved ones of those who have lost their lives in the water over the past couple of days.

“In Scotland, we have some of the most beautiful lochs and rivers in the world – but if swimming in them, please take care.”

Assistant chief constable Mark Williams, of Police Scotland, said the number of deaths that had taken place in open waters over Friday and Saturday was “hard to comprehend”.

He said: “The warm weather can make open water swimming and paddling very inviting but it is extremely dangerous, even for the most experienced swimmers or supervised children. The conditions can change very quickly and there are often hidden risks like deeper water and strong currents.

“The message I want to send to everyone is exercise extreme caution. It is better to keep a safe distance from water if possible.

“Tragically, this weekend has highlighted that open water is very, very dangerous. If you see someone in the water and distressed call 999 immediately.

“Remember, you could get into difficulty yourself trying to help so please take care and seek help as soon as possible.”

A senior officer also said the past weekend was one of the worst in memory for the fire service.

Alasdair Perry, a deputy assistant chief officer for the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, told BBC’s Good Morning Scotland programme: “This is the worst weekend in relation to incidents of this nature I can remember and I’d like to offer my condolences and those of everyone at the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service to all those affected by this weekend’s tragic events, and in particular to the friends and families of all those involved.”

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