Triggering Article 16 would damage every part of the UK, warns Sturgeon

The FM welcomed comments from Michael Gove on his confidence that suspending the Northern Ireland Protocol will not be necessary.

Sturgeon said Gove’s remarks suggest the UK is now focused on striking a deal. PA Ready via PA Media
Sturgeon said Gove’s remarks suggest the UK is now focused on striking a deal.

Suspending post-Brexit arrangements for Irish Sea trade would have “profound and deeply damaging consequences” for every part of the UK, Nicola Sturgeon has warned.

Scotland’s First Minister welcomed comments from Cabinet minister Michael Gove in Cardiff on Friday when he expressed confidence that negotiations with the EU over the contentious Northern Ireland Protocol could progress without the Government having to suspend that part of the Brexit deal.

The Government has repeatedly warned it will move to suspend parts of the protocol, through the unilateral triggering of the Article 16 mechanism, if ongoing talks with the European Commission do not result in an agreed resolution to the stand-off over disruption caused by the new Irish Sea trade barriers.

Sturgeon said Gove’s remarks suggest the UK is now focused on striking a deal.

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She said any temptation to “stoke tensions” in the hope it might “play well with domestic audiences” must be resisted.

“I welcome Michael Gove’s language today that there is now a focus on getting a resolution,” said the First Minister, who was attending the British-Irish Council summit in Cardiff along with Gove.

“For my part, I think that there are credible and serious proposals on the table, and if there is a political will and a desire to find agreement, that should be possible.

“Triggering Article 16 – and this is where I particularly welcome Michael Gove’s language, saying that he hopes that will not be necessary – I think that would be one of the most irresponsible things that can be done right now in the face of Covid and the other Brexit implications that are being felt across all parts of the UK.

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“I hope we can see these immediate tensions resolved and then opening the way to what should always be the case – a very close and constructive and friendly relationship between the UK and the European Union.

“The triggering of Article 16 would have profound and deeply damaging consequences for every part of the UK.

“I think that would be the case at any time, but particularly now when we’re already dealing with Brexit disruption and all of us are trying to deal with and look ahead to the recovery from Covid.

“It is disruption that nobody needs and nobody should be contemplating.

“I believe it would be wrong and also, crucially, I think it’s unnecessary. I think there is a will to find an agreement and the broad proposals to find it exist.”

Sturgeon said a bad relationship between the EU and UK would have “very real” consequences.

“This is not an abstract political debate, the consequences will be felt, in particular, by businesses and individuals the length and breadth of the UK,” she said.

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“This is about people’s livelihoods, about standards of living, the ability to trade and keep food on our supermarket shelves. This is real. It’s not politics and I think it’s important to say that.”


Twins accused of ‘murdering cyclist and attempting to cover up crime’

Tony Parsons' remains were discovered more than three years after he disappeared.

STV News / Police Scotland
Police: Tony Parsons' remains were discovered more than three years after he disappeared.

Twin brothers have appeared in court accused of murdering a cyclist who disappeared more than four years ago and attempting to cover up the alleged crime.

Anthony Parsons, also known as Tony, travelled from his home in Tillicoultry, Clackmannanshire, to Fort William in the Highlands for a charity cycle on September 29, 2017, but failed to return home.

The 63-year-old former Navy petty officer travelled south on the A82 and was last seen on October 2 at around 11.30pm outside the Bridge of Orchy Hotel, Argyll and Bute.

On January 12 this year, specialist search officers, supported by forensic scientists, discovered his remains in a remote area of ground close to a farm near the A82 at Bridge of Orchy.

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Investigation: Anthony Parsons’ remains were found earlier this year.
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On Thursday morning, Police Scotland confirmed that two men had been arrested and charged in connection with Mr Parsons’ death.

In addition to the murder charge, twins Alexander and Robert McKellar, both 29, have also been accused of conspiracy to murder and attempting to defeat the ends of justice.

Alexander McKellar faces a further charge of causing serious injury by dangerous driving.

The pair, who are due to turn 30 on Friday, made no plea when they appeared at Dumbarton Sheriff Court, West Dunbartonshire, on Thursday afternoon.

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The case was committed for further examination.

The McKellars, from Argyll and Bute, were remanded in custody meantime and will return to court within the next eight days.

Earlier on Thursday, detective inspector John McFall said: “I would like to offer my thanks to the local community for all their help and assistance throughout this investigation and to those who came forward with significant information.”

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Man killed by falling tree during Storm Arwen named by police

David Lapage died after his Nissan Navara was struck on the B977 in Aberdeenshire.

Police Scotland
David Lapage, 35, died when his vehicle was struck by a falling tree.

A man who died after his vehicle was struck by a falling tree in Aberdeenshire has been formally identified.

David Lapage, 35, died after his Nissan Navara pick-up was struck on the B977 Dyce to Hatton Fintry Road around 5.45pm on Friday, November 26.

In a statement released through Police Scotland, his family said: “The family would like to thank all services involved and greatly appreciate all the messages of support.

“They would ask that their privacy is respected at this time.”

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Sergeant Craig McNeill of the Divisional Road Policing Unit at Inverurie said: “Our thoughts are very much with David’s family and friends at this time.

“Our enquiries are ongoing to establish the full circumstances and anyone with information who hasn’t yet spoken to an officer can call 101 quoting reference 2999 of 26 November.”

Man charged and due in court over death of teenager Amber Gibson

The 16-year-old was reported missing from Hamilton, South Lanarkshire, after failing to return home last Friday night.

Police Scotland

A man has been charged and is due in court in connection with the death of 16-year-old Amber Gibson.

The teenager was reported missing from Hamilton, South Lanarkshire, after failing to return home last Friday night.

Her body was eventually discovered in the town’s Cadzow Glen park on Sunday morning.

Amber’s death was initially treated as unexplained, but police later launched a murder inquiry following a post-mortem examination.

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Hamilton: Flowers left in tribute to the murdered teen.
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On Wednesday evening, Police Scotland confirmed a 19-year-old man had been arrested in connection with the death.

On Thursday, a force spokesperson confirmed the suspect had now been charged and is due to appear at Hamilton Sheriff Court on Friday.

They said: “Police Scotland can confirm that the 19-year-old man who had been arrested last night, Wednesday, December 1, has now been charged.

“A report will be sent to the Procurator Fiscal.”

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Family of mother who died after M9 crash awarded more than £1m

Lamara Bell died in hospital after lying undiscovered at side of motorway for three days.

Police Scotland
John Yuill and Lamara Bell died after their car left the M9 near Stirling.

The family of a young mother who died after lying undiscovered in a car for days following a crash on the M9 has been awarded more than £1m in damages.

Lamara Bell and her partner John Yuill both died after their car left the motorway near Stirling on July 5, 2015.

Despite a call being made to police, it took three days for the force to respond and when officers finally arrived at the scene, Yuill was found to be dead while Bell died four days later in hospital.

In a statement, the Bell family said: “Imagine chasing answers, recognition and justice for six years and all you get is silence then in the space of three months you get a conviction and a civil settlement – it is fair say our thoughts and feelings are all over the place right now.

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“Our pain and loss won’t stop just because the legal proceedings are over but there is at least a sense of peace that comes with their conclusion.

“But that peace is fleeting because ultimately we are still without Lamara.

“We are without a daughter and sister and her children are without a mother – such an outcome cannot, and should not ever, go unheeded in a fair society and we are glad to finally have attained that which we sought.

“We’d like to thank our friends, family, community and legal team for all their support but now we really would like to be left alone as we look to the future.”

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Police Scotland was fined £100,000 earlier this year after admitting failings which “materially contributed” to the deaths of Bell and Yuill.

The High Court in Edinburgh heard in September that Bell would probably have survived had she had been found sooner.

Delivering the sentence, Lord Beckett said: “This case arose from terrible events in which two relatively young people died, one of them after days of severe physical suffering when she must have been in an almost unimaginable state of anxiety.

“As days and hours went by she must have been in a state of disbelief that no help arose.”

Lord Beckett said it was “unprecedented” for the police service of Scotland to have been accused and convicted in the High Court.

The office of the Chief Constable of Police Scotland admitted it failed to ensure that people, including Yuill and Bell, were not exposed to risks to their health and safety by failing to provide an “adequate and reliable call-handling system” between April 1 2013 and March 1 2016.

It also failed to ensure the system was “not vulnerable to unacceptable risks arising from human error” and to ensure that all relevant information reported by members of the public was recorded on a Police Scotland IT system so that it could be considered and a police response provided where appropriate.

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The force admitted that as a result, members of the public were exposed to risks to their health and safety and, in particular, on July 5, 2015, a police officer at the force call-handling centre at Bilston Glen Service Centre failed to record a phone call from a member of the public reporting that a vehicle was at the bottom of an embankment at the side of the eastbound junction nine slip road from the M80 on to the M9.

The phone call was not recorded on any Police Scotland IT system and no action was taken.

The force admitted Bell and Yuill remained “unaided and exposed to the elements” in the car between July 5 and 8, 2015, and that the failings “materially contributed” to Bell’s death on July 12 that year at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow.

The force pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

David Nellaney, Partner at Digby Brown, added: “The Bell family has endured things very few people could ever comprehend but the patience, resilience and compassion they have shown at all times cannot be understated.

“It is unfortunate Police Scotland did not admit its failings sooner as it might have spared them unnecessary distress but at least we do now have a conclusion and the Bells can rightly focus on themselves and times ahead.”


St Mirren chairman fined over ‘inappropriate’ Rangers tweets

John Needham was found to have broken Scottish FA rules with historic tweets

Ross MacDonald via SNS Group
Needham (right) has apologised for his comments.

St Mirren chairman John Needham has been fined by the Scottish FA over comments he made on social media about Rangers fans.

An independent disciplinary tribunal found that Needham had broken three of the SFA’s rules, and fined him £6,000, with £1,000 suspended until the end of the season.

Needham, who took up the role at the Paisley club this summer and has been a board member since 2020, posted messages on Twitter earlier this year, with an earlier tweet in 2015 calling Rangers fans “h**s”.

Another message earlier this year was in reply to a photograph of thousands of Rangers supporters crossing a Glasgow bridge, with Needham saying: “Here’s hoping the Squinty Bridge tips as well. Second thoughts… the pollution would be awful.” The tweet was followed by a ‘laughing’ emoji.

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Rangers wrote to St Mirren, the SPFL and the SFA about the comments and the governing body charged Needham with bringing the game into disrepute, making comments of a discriminatory or offensive nature, and acting in an improper manner while using indecent or insulting words or behaviour.

When the messages were highlighted, the club chairman made an apology, saying that the messages were “inappropriate” and expressing regret, claiming that they do not reflect his character.

In October, Needham tweeted: “On Friday 22 October a number of Tweets I created in the past referring to Rangers fans were highlighted on Twitter. As a club chairman I have extra responsibility for the conduct and example I show.

“These posts are completely inappropriate and do not reflect my character or beliefs as a person and I very much regret them.

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“I apologise unreservedly to the directors and fans of Rangers and to everyone at St Mirren. I am acutely aware of my responsibilities. This won’t happen again.”


Warning over pilots’ lack of flying after ‘serious incident’ at airport

There was 67 passengers and six crew members on board the plane.

guvendemir via IStock
Plane: Deviated from expected route.

The rapid descent of a Tui Airways plane could be linked to its pilots being grounded for long periods during the coronavirus pandemic, investigators said.

It was revealed that the pilots of the plane, that significantly deviated from its flight path and started descending 3000ft a minute, had not flown in over a year.

The ‘serious’ incident took place at Aberdeen Airport on September 11 when a Boeing 737-800 with 67 passengers and six crew members on board deviated ‘significantly’ during a go-around.

No link was established between the incident and the fact neither of the pilots had ‘flown for significant periods’ for around 18 months before, however the report found that it was “clearly a possibility”.

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The Air Accidents Investigation Branch has now issued a warning to raise awareness of the event and to highlight that go-arounds can “provoke errors” if not “practiced frequently”.

In a statement released on Thursday the AAIB said: “The pilots, like many other pilots, had not flown for significant periods during the 18 months before this incident.

“Although the investigation has not established a link between this incident and a lack of recent line flying, it is clearly a possibility.

“Therefore, this Special Bulletin is published to raise awareness of this event and to highlight that go‑arounds from intermediate altitudes on an approach can provoke errors because they are not practiced frequently.

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“The aircraft deviated significantly from the expected flight path, initially climbing, but just before it reached the cleared altitude began to descend.

“It descended with a maximum rate of descent of more than 3000 ft/min, and it accelerated to an airspeed of 286kt (the selected airspeed was 200kt) before the crew corrected the flightpath.

“The subsequent approach and landing were completed without further incident.”

The full report into the incident can be read here.

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Military deployed to help in aftermath of Storm Arwen

Around 120 troops will 'focus on welfare checks on the ground' in communities still impacted by loss of power.

STV News
Storm Arwen uprooted trees and ripped down power lines.

More than 100 military personnel are being deployed to assist people still without power in Aberdeenshire following the devastation caused by Storm Arwen.

Troops will start arriving in affected communities on Thursday morning after the local authority made a formal approach to the UK Government requesting assistance.

Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) has reconnected more than 120,000 customers following “catastrophic damage” caused by Friday’s storm, and hoped to restore power to an additional 2500 homes overnight.

The majority of those still without supply are in rural communities in areas including Aberdeenshire, Moray, Angus, Perthshire and Stirlingshire.

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A spokesperson for Aberdeenshire Council said around 120 military personnel are due to arrive in the area “to support our ongoing resilience efforts in the aftermath of Storm Arwen”.  

The spokesperson added: “The troops will focus on welfare checks on the ground within those communities still impacted by loss of power and will supplement what our own teams have been doing since the weekend.  

“We continue to appreciate all the wonderful examples of community assistance which continue to be evident across the region – whether it be supplies of hot food and drinks, checking on elderly residents and neighbours or helping to deliver supplies.  

“Thank you for your all your endeavours and rest assured we continue to work tirelessly to provide the support our communities require at this challenging time.”

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SSEN has said it will reimburse all reasonable accommodation costs for any customer unable to make alternative arrangements.

Customers unable to access the company’s welfare facilities for free hot food and drinks can also claim the cost of takeaways or meals from local establishments, up to £15 per person.

Chris Burchell, SSEN managing director, described Storm Arwen as a “once in a generation extreme weather event” and said the company was doing all it could to restore power “as quickly as possible”.

He added: “As our teams continue to make good progress repairing and restoring the high voltage network in what remains very challenging conditions, we are increasingly turning our focus to the low voltage network, which serves single or groups of homes, often in rural and isolated communities.

“Whilst the low voltage network only serves a fraction of the customers the high voltage network supplies, the repairs required to restore power are just as challenging and complex, which in some cases will require the rebuild of entire sections of overhead line.

“We therefore encourage all customers who remain off supply, particularly where overhead network infrastructure supplies single or small groups of houses, to consider making alternative arrangements.

“This includes our enhanced welfare provisions, with our teams proactively contacting customers to help coordinate support where possible.”

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Meanwhile, the National Trust for Scotland says the weather has had a “devastating” impact on wildlife and trees.

About 800 seal pups are feared to have died at its Berwickshire site as a result of the storm.

At Castle Fraser, about 200 trees are down and the Pittendreigh wood at Leith Hall has been badly damaged, with estate trails at Crathes Castle, Haddo House and Brodie Castle also blocked.

People are asked to stay away from the properties until they are made safe.

In the south-west, Culzean Country Park and Threave Estate also lost trees, causing some damage to buildings including the 19th century pagoda at Culzean.

At the Mar Lodge Estate National Nature Reserve a project to repair its historic Victorian bridge has been set back due to damage caused by the high winds.

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‘Right to die when I want would be the greatest gift of all’

Kay Smith is terminally ill and backs a change in the law to allow assisted dying.

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“It would be the greatest gift that the people of Scotland could give to those whose voices are not being heard.”

Kay Smith is talking about the right to die at a time of her choosing, surrounded by her family and having said a proper goodbye.

The 57-year-old used to relish adventure, with a passion for scuba diving in exotic locations around the world, but she is now living with a range of debilitating illnesses and her life has changed beyond recognition. 

Kay’s medical notes describe “multiple comorbidities” – she has an extreme form of lupus, which attacks the immune system and has led to other complicated conditions, including peripheral artery disease and diabetes.

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Also allergic to painkillers, she expects to die from sepsis.

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Kay Smith is passionate about ending her life on her own terms.

Having seen so many deaths in her career as a palliative care nurse, she’s passionate about ending her life on her own terms and is backing a change to the law that would allow assisted dying.

“I have daughters, I have my husband, I have my grandchildren, I don’t want to watch them watch me suffer and die from sepsis, because it’s a horrendous way to die,” Kay, from Kilwinning, tells Thursday night’s episode of STV current affairs show Scotland Tonight.

“The public has to realise that [if] the law’s passed, it doesn’t mean to say you use it. It’s a personal choice, but in choosing, it gives you peace of mind and allows you to live the best life you can until that moment arrives.

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“And that to me is priceless, I could have quality time with my family and be able to say my goodbyes.  

“As a nurse and as a person in my situation [a change in the law] will be sheer and utter relief.” 

A third attempt to legalise assisted dying, this time drafted by Liberal Democrats MSP Liam McArthur, is currently going through its consultation stage.

His proposal argues that terminally ill, mentally competent adults should be able to access “safe and compassionate dying if they choose, rather than face a prolonged and painful death”. It says the proposal aims to “complement palliative care”. 

‘Improve end-of-life care instead’

But opponents say that rather than change the law, palliative care should be improved to help those at the end of their lives.  

Dr Gillian Wright is part of Our Duty of Care, an organisation made up of healthcare workers who are opposed to assisted dying laws. 

The group has written a letter to health secretary Humza Yousaf, outlining their main concerns. 

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“Our principal concerns are for vulnerable members of society, particularly those who are disabled, those who are terminally ill, those who are depressed,” says Dr Wright, a former palliative care doctor.

“It’s a huge thing for doctors to change from preserving life to taking life, and that’s the fundamental objection we have.

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Dr Gillian Wright is among medics opposed to assisted dying.

“We felt it was really important that there was a clear medical voice of opposition against assisted dying.

“And rather than say to people when you’re giving them a terminal diagnosis that the state would help them take their own life, we should as a society be backing really excellent palliative care research.”  

Dr Wright says there are concerns that if a law is passed, the legislation could be extended in the future and believes vulnerable patients would be most at risk. 

“If you look at an example such as Canada, they introduced legislation similar to what he is proposing – for terminally ill, mentally competent adults – but already, within five years, it has been challenged in the courts for being discriminatory,” she says.

“I think the current law [in Scotland] is the safeguard, it is the protection of the vulnerable. I would be really concerned for patients such as dementia, for children, for adolescents that we would be in a situation where we can’t come back from.”

Scotland Tonight is on STV and the STV Player at 7.30pm on Thursday, December 2.


Injured sea turtle finds new home 5000 miles away in Scotland

April, an olive ridley sea turtle, was found with a plastic bag around her neck in the Maldives.

Kirsty O'Connor via PA Media

A sea turtle has a new home in Scotland after being found injured and entangled in a plastic bag in the Maldives.

April, an olive ridley sea turtle, was in care at the Turtle Rehabilitation Centre at the Four Seasons Resort Maldives Landaa Giraavaru after being found injured in Raa Atoll in April 2019.

When she was found, she was floating on the ocean surface entangled in netting with a plastic bag around her neck.

She was already missing her right front flipper because of the netting and her left front flipper was injured by the friction caused by the plastic bag.

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An X-ray later revealed she was also suffering from a lung infection, with possible tears in her lungs.

Vets found April suffers from buoyancy issues – where she cannot fully immerse herself under water – which means that she cannot return to the wild.

This has led to the turtle being relocated 5000 miles from the Maldives to Loch Lomond, making her the first olive ridley sea turtle in the UK.

Two Maldives-based environmental agencies, Reefscapers And Marine Savers, as well as the UK’s Sea Life aquarium business and its conservation charity the Sea Life Trust, teamed up with IAG Cargo to fly April to her new UK home.

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April joins five other sea turtles taken to new homes through the Flying Turtles Project, while Marine Savers has rehabilitated and released more than 180 others to date.

Kathryn Angel, Sea Life Loch Lomond’s general manager, said: “We are thrilled to welcome April to the Loch Lomond family. She has settled in brilliantly. To have a turtle in our facility once again is a real pleasure.

“April suffered injuries as a result of plastic pollution, so by having April on site at Sea Life Loch Lomond, children can actually see the impact that plastic pollution can have on the creatures first hand.”

Andy Torbet, Sea Life Trust ambassador, said: “Being re-homed to the Sea Life Centre is great for April, it’s going to give her the best quality of life that she can have for the remainder of her life.

“She’ll be a great ambassador not only for marine life and sea turtles, but because of her injuries, which were quite obvious, she’ll act as an ambassador for the idea of plastic pollution and ghost netting being an issue, and why we need to do something about that.

“When you see an injured turtle up close and personal with injuries caused by ghost nets and plastic pollution, that sort of issue is driven home a lot more intensely.”


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