What matters to teenagers voting for the first time?

Young voters explain why they're taking the right to vote on Thursday very seriously.

STV News

Many young Scots will be voting for the first time at the Holyrood election.

Unlike UK-wide polls, 16 and 17 year-olds are allowed to have their say on who gets to spend the next five years at the Scottish Parliament.

From education to health, women’s rights and independence, they have plenty on their minds.

So what will they and other young voters be thinking about most when they mark their ballot papers on Thursday.

‘We do know a lot’

Liliana wants to make the most of her first visit to a polling station.
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Studying for her exams, 16-year-old Liliana says she feels “very honoured” to have the right to vote.

“There’s often this misconception that 16 and 17 year-olds are uneducated and don’t really have their own points of view on politics,” she says.

“I disagree with that and I think that we’re actually really educated, especially with the rise of social media and even just education in general.”

While many voters are having their say by mail this year, Liliana wants to make the most of her first opportunity to visit a polling station.

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“I’m really excited to vote in person because I want to get the whole experience,” she says.

“It’s really important for you to have your say on how the country’s run. After all, you live here and you want to live in a place that benefits you.”

For 17-year-old school pupil Daniel, the most important issue going into the election is the recovery of an NHS pushed to its limits during the pandemic.

“Parties standing for coronavirus recovery with a plan to tackle the backlog of treatments is definitely a big thing for me,” he says.

‘I don’t think I’ll find a job’

Archie Brown fears for his future job prospects.

For young people across the country, their future job prospects are a great cause for concern.

Unemployment among 16-24 year-olds has risen from 8.3% to 13.5% in the past 12 months, according to the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC).

And a report commissioned by the Scottish Government found that 39% do not feel optimistic about their employment chances.

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Business student Archie Brown is worried about his future after a difficult first year in further education.

He’s been confined to his room in halls and admits it’s been hard to stay motivated.

“I definitely don’t think I’ll be finding a job in business afterwards,” the 20-year-old says.

“I think a lot of students now are getting qualifications that really aren’t valid in today’s world. Employers are more after experience in the workplace than qualifications.

“I feel that there needs to be some sort of support network for students after completing their degree to help them adjust to the workplace.”

‘Reclaim the streets’

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Nikki Forde organised vigils following the death of Sarah Everard.

Nikki Forde was one of the organisers of vigils held in memory of Sarah Everard, who was allegedly murdered after going missing as she walked home in London.

Her death – for which a man has been charged – sparked ‘Reclaim the Streets’ events as women protested for their right to safety.

“The number of young girls [at vigils in Glasgow] was shocking, and they all had their own stories,” 25-year-old Nikki says.

“The story of Sarah Everard really struck a chord with me. 

“I’ve got sisters, I walk home alone at night from work… you can do everything you’re meant to do – that society tells you to do –  but it’s still not enough.

“I want the framework to be in place for continuous change. 

“I want education reforms starting in schools because if these started years ago, we’d be much further forward.”

‘Conflicted on independence’

Friends Amy, Sean and Jamie discuss politics in the sun at Queen’s Park.

Independence has captured many of the headlines ahead of Thursday’s election.

Whether or not a second referendum takes place in the near future will be largely influenced by the make-up of the next parliament.

Even though Sean McNaughton, Amy Shannon and Jamie Beaton were just 11 or 12 years-old during the first vote in 2014, the debate struck a chord with them, and now weighs heavily on their minds.

Much analysis points to younger Scots supporting separation from the rest of the UK – but is that true?

Sitting firmly in the middle ground, college student Amy says: “I’m not dead set on either side. But I’m a lot more conflicted now than I ever was.”

Meanwhile, 18-year-old Jamie is keen for independence.

“We’d have a much better say and the country would be moving in the direction that we want for our kids, and our kids’ kids,” he says.

“During the pandemic it’d have really helped for us to make more of our own decisions. When we did, I think for the most part they were right.

“The decisions we made domestically showed that we could do things on our own and I think that’s just even more proof that we could really work as an independent country. So I would definitely vote ‘yes’.”

Despite wanting independence in 2014, Sean has since changed his mind following Brexit.

“I think my opinion has changed a bit because of the circumstances that we’re in compared to the last time,” he says.

“During the last independence referendum we were still in the EU, we had a safety net.

“But this time we’re not in the EU, we don’t have a safety net, we’ll have to be put on a waiting list… we’ll be completely on our own.

“So I don’t think it’s the best decision at this moment in time.”

What are the parties pledging? 

SNP

  • Guarantee a university, college, apprenticeship, training place or job for every young person;
  • Increase the age at which people become eligible for council tax from 18 to 22.

Scottish Greens

  • Expand the Young Person’s Guarantee to all under 30 and those who work in fossil fuel industries;
  • Make an extra year of student support funding available for those who need it.

Scottish Liberal Democrats

  • Encourage Scottish universities to help more young people from poorer backgrounds through to completion of their courses;
  • Give the Scottish Youth Parliament a greater role in shaping and reviewing public services.

Scottish Conservatives

  • Develop a national student mental health action plan for universities, colleges and apprenticeship providers;
  • Launch a national campaign, focused on schools, to challenge attitudes towards sexual harassment.

Scottish Labour

  • Create 5000 new apprenticeship places;
  • Expand kick-start subsidy for wages, encouraging businesses to employ young people.


Glasgow Covid cases rise is ‘red flag’, says health expert

Professor Linda Bauld said the surge in coronavirus cases in Glasgow 'needs to be dealt with'.

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Warning: Rise in coronavirus cases in Glasgow.

The rise in coronavirus cases in Glasgow is a “red flag that needs to be dealt with”, a senior health expert has warned.

It comes after a third of the 345 new cases of Covid-19 recorded in Scotland on Wednesday were found to be in the city.

Pollokshields, in the southside of Glasgow, has the highest transmission rate in Scotland – 575 per 100,000, which is just slightly higher than in Easterhouse, in the east end of the city.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said that the situation in Glasgow is being monitored “very closely”, amidst concern over the so-called Indian variant.

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Lockdown restrictions are set to be eased for most of Scotland from Monday, with Glasgow due to be moved into level two.

Speaking on the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland programme, Linda Bauld, professor of public health at the University of Edinburgh, said that a “robust response” is needed to the rise in cases.

Asked if she would advise the Scottish Government against moving Glasgow to level two, she said: “I’m not privy to all the information that they are, it’s for them to make that decision.

“But we do need a robust response and I suppose we’ll hear from them in the next few days what that decision is.”

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Professor Bauld continued: “We need to benefit from the progress that we’ve made and not put it at risk.

“And in the past, and this is just a historical point, we perhaps have not acted early enough to get on top of outbreaks.

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Linda Bauld, professor of public health at the University of Edinburgh.

“So, as I say nationally, I remain optimistic, but I think this is just a red flag that needs to be dealt with.”

Professor Bauld said that a local approach to identify cases should be the first step in tackling cases in the city.

“I would say it’s for policy colleagues to decide what happens,” she explained.

“There’s over 600,000 people living in Glasgow City local authority, it seems perhaps premature to say – once again remember Glasgow has been hard hit with restrictions in the past – okay the whole city can’t move.

“I think a localised approach really, as I say, concentrated identification and support of cases is the first step.

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“But obviously others will be making those decisions.”

Professor Bauld indicated that her message to people would be to use caution as more is opened up from next week.

She said: “We’re moving completely in the right direction, we want to keep moving in that direction.

“We don’t want to take a step back and that means that we all need to try and follow the guidance and when more things open next week, do that really, really cautiously and just make sure that we don’t have more community transmission.”


Protesters block van in bid to stop immigration removals

Around 200 protesters are at the scene in Pollokshields, with chants of 'these are our neighbours, let them go'.

Protesters have gathered in Glasgow to demonstrate their opposition to a raid by the Home Office.

Immigration officials for the UK Border Agency had moved on a property on Kenmure Street in Pollokshields on Thursday morning before protesters blockaded an enforcement van.

Police were called in to provide support and surrounded the van, while the gathered crowd could be heard chanting: “These are our neighbours, let them go.”

A spokesman for Police Scotland said: “Around 9.55 am this morning, Thursday, 13 May, 2021, police were called to support colleagues at the UK Border Agency at an address in Kenmure Street, Pollokshields, Glasgow.

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“A number of protesters are now at the location. Officers are at the scene and enquiries are continuing.”

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who is the MSP for Glasgow Southside, wrote on Twitter that she is “deeply concerned” by the action taken by the Home Office.

She said: “As constituency MSP, I am deeply concerned by this action by the Home Office, especially today in the heart of a community celebrating Eid.

“My office is making urgent enquiries and stands ready to offer any necessary assistance to those detained.”

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SNP MP Alison Thewliss, who represents Glasgow Central, tweeted that she would be taking the matter up with UK Government ministers.

She wrote: “This is absolutely awful, but heartened to see local residents in Pollokshields standing up for their neighbours and refusing to accept the brutality of the @ukhomeoffice.

“I am taking this matter up with Ministers. Not in our name.”

Mohammad Asif, director of the Afghan Human Rights Foundation, was one of what he said were hundreds of neighbours protesting against the action.

The 54-year-old said: “We’re here against the hostile environment created by the Tories and the British state.

“The same people who run from the British and American bombs put at the back of the van right now. And they are about to be deported.

“And it’s on Eid you know… the guys are not even allowed to pray. How do you do that in a democratic society? It’s a sad day.”

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Mr Asif, who left Afghanistan as a refugee himself in 2000, said the atmosphere amongst the protesters was peaceful.

Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie said: “It’s horrific that people have been forced to take such action to defend their most vulnerable neighbours from the brutality of the UK Home Office.

“The current regime, presided over by the institutionally racist Home Office, is inhumane. Scotland needs an asylum system worthy of the name, and asylum support provided to a standard that our communities can be proud of.”

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar tweeted: “I am disgusted by the Home Office raids in Pollokshields. It is particularly unacceptable that this is happening during a pandemic, in an area that has a spike in cases and on the day of Eid.

“We need an immigration policy that is based on human dignity & human rights.”


Former drug addict wheels piano across UK for charity

James Tofalli says playing the piano has helped him overcome his struggles with addiction.

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A former drug addict who found escape in music is wheeling his piano from John o’Groats to Lands End to raise money for charity.

James Tofalli’s mission is to highlight mental health issues while raising cash for charity – and he is bringing joy along the way with his music.

A month after leaving John o’Groats, the 28-year-old reached a sun-soaked Inverness for a well-earned break on an epic trek to the south coast.

James said: “I was on Spice for 11 months.

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“After going cold turkey for two-and-a-half weeks I padlocked myself into my bedroom and I had to climb down a drainpipe because it was the only way out.

“The first place I landed was St Pancras Station.”

Access to a public piano at the railway station proved to be his ticket to paradise as music became his escape route.

“We’re now five years on from when I said ‘no’.

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“I feel that talking about it and bringing awareness to it is my final stage of recovery,” he said.

Self taught, James is now an accomplished pianist and he sees this trek as the final part of his recovery.

“I’ve always said recently that if I’ve got a set of keys in front of me I know I’m going to be fine.

“If you’d met me without the piano, I’m a completely different person.

“I’m a very introverted person, I’m very shy.

“This is my life and I know it saved me and for that I just give it my life back”.

With a beaming smile on his face and with the freedom of leaving the blues behind him, James hopes to reach Lands End some time in September.

New outbreaks of Covid detected across Moray communities

NHS Grampian says additional mobile testing units are being deployed in communities across the region.

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Lossiemouth: New outbreaks of coronavirus have been detected across Moray.

New outbreaks of coronavirus have been detected in several areas of Moray, including Lossiemouth, Keith and Aberlour.

NHS Grampian said on Thursday that additional mobile testing units are being deployed in communities across the region in a bid to bring the cases under control.

Moray is expected to remain under level three coronavirus restrictions next Monday following a surge in cases and an increase in hospital admissions.

The area recorded 100 infections per 100,000 of the population last week.

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NHS Grampian said it had witnessed early signs of improvement in tackling the situation in Elgin but warned against complacency in the days and weeks ahead.

Chris Littlejohn, deputy director of public health at NHS Grampian, said: “We’ve been so encouraged by the response from the community to testing that, at the moment, we’ve no plans to progress to door-to-door testing anywhere in Moray – if that changes we will ensure we communicate it to the community.  

“The number of people coming forward for testing has increased and that it was possible the outbreak in Elgin may be starting to plateau – but it could be a further two weeks before figures show real signs of returning to normal and we cannot afford for any complacency at this point.  

“One person not self-isolating when asked, one mass gathering, people gathering inside and every other breach of the guidance, has the potential to be the start point of a new cluster, that ultimately means Moray’s rates do not drop to where they are compatible with level two restrictions.”

Littlejohn said new cases in Moray are still well ahead of the rest of the country, adding that the health board was starting to see signs of outbreaks in communities outside of Elgin, including in Keith, Lossiemouth and Aberlour.

He added that the number of tests in Moray being undertaken had risen by 400% since the first warnings of rising rates and thanked the community for their efforts.

Concern is also growing over a rise in coronavirus cases in Glasgow, just days before the city is due to move under level two restrictions.

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Over the last week, there have been 25 cases per 100,000 people across Scotland. Glasgow is more than double that at 58 per 100,000.

But Pollokshields, in the southside of Glasgow, has the highest transmission rate in Scotland – 575 per 100,000, which is just slightly higher than in Easterhouse, in the east end of the city.

Most of mainland Scotland will move to level two of the Scottish Government’s five-tier Covid-alert system as scheduled from next Monday.

A decision will be made soon on whether Moray should remain in level three.

Many of Scotland’s islands will move to level one due to vaccination coverage and low case numbers.

Party leaders sworn in at start of new Holyrood term

Returning and new members are being sworn in following last week’s Scottish Parliament election.

The Scottish Parliament via The Scottish Parliament

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Scotland’s other party leaders have been sworn in as MSPs.

Returning and new members of the Scottish Parliament were sworn in on Thursday morning following last week’s Holyrood election.

Outgoing Presiding Officer Ken Macintosh, who decided not to stand in the election, ran proceedings, which require MSPs to pledge their allegiance to the Queen before they are allowed to undertake any parliamentary duties or receive their MSP salary.

If the oath or affirmation is not taken within two months, they will lose their seat.

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The First Minister made an affirmation, followed by Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross and Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar taking the oath.

Beforehand, Sturgeon said the SNP “pledges loyalty to the people of Scotland in line with the Scottish constitutional tradition of the sovereignty of the people”.

Ahead of his affirmation, Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie said he wanted to reassert that his party’s “allegiance lies with the people of Scotland who elected this Parliament and who are sovereign, and we look forward to the day when they can choose their own elected head of state”.

His fellow Greens co-leader Lorna Slater also chose to affirm.

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Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie was the last party leader to be sworn in and he took the oath.

The rest of the MSPs are being sworn in in alphabetical order.

Ariane Burgess, who gave her affirmation in Gaelic, said beforehand she believes “the people of Scotland are sovereign”.

A number of MSPs will take their oath in a language other than English, including Scots, Gaelic, Urdu, Orcadian, Doric and even, in the case of Zimbabwe-born North East Green MSP Maggie Chapman, Zimbabwean Shona.

The oath will be followed by the election of the new Presiding Officer, who will take charge of proceedings in Parliament for the next five years.

No MSP has yet signalled their intent publicly to stand for the position, which requires elected members to renounce their party affiliation and act cross-party for the duration.

Parliamentary arithmetic could prevent some MSPs from putting themselves forward for the position, given the SNP is just one seat short of a majority.

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If the SNP puts someone forward, it would drop further away from the 65 MSPs needed to pass legislation on its own – whereas the chamber would be tied if an opposition MSP takes the role.

Friday will see the election of deputy presiding officers, who do not have to relinquish their party affiliation.


Footballers ‘suffer in silence to save their careers’

David Cox has suffered abuse on and off the pitch since first talking about attempts to end his life.

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Footballers won’t talk about their mental health problems in case it damages their careers, a striker who suffered abuse following suicide attempts has warned.

David Cox says many professional players are suffering in silence because they fear being released by their clubs or left unable to secure new contracts.

Cox recently announced his retirement after accusing a fellow player of mocking his mental health issues during a game.

He left the match in question at half-time, with an investigation ongoing into the alleged comments, which are strongly denied by the other player.

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Speaking to Scotland Tonight before quitting the game, the 32-year-old said: “If someone feels like they want to come out and speak, it’s going to be in the back of their mind that it will affect their life in football.

“Unfortunately, there are always going to be managers, clubs or staff who look as that as a problem.”

Cox first spoke about his mental health issues in a newspaper interview seven years ago.

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David Cox in action for Cowdenbeath last year.

He revealed he had made attempts to end his life and, since then, has received horrific abuse on and off the pitch.

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“I heard a few things from the stand after I told my story,” he said. “I remember one of the shouts was to ‘do it properly this time’.

“I’m no angel on the park and I’ll say things, but when it comes to personal stuff there needs to be a line.”

The well-travelled striker has played for a number of Scottish clubs and believes some have refused to renew his contracts because of his health issues.

“Some clubs have been absolutely amazing with me, really good,” he said. “But I’ve also been at clubs where I’ve been pushed out because of my mental health.”

Craig Foy via SNS Group
David Cox celebrates scoring against Rangers in the Scottish Cup in 2019.

Scotland Tonight – on STV at 7.30pm on Thursday – will take a closer look at the darker side of the beautiful game, asking what’s being done to help players who are struggling to cope.

Last week, a charity told STV News that it had helped five players who considered ending their lives over the past year.

Libby Emerson, from BackOnSide, said: “The abuse players get if they talk about their mental health is wrong and it needs to change.”

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She said it was “hard” for the charity to gain access to players, adding: “A lot of clubs don’t realise there is a mental health issue going on.

“If a player broke his leg on a pitch, they’d get support in an instant and doctors to look after them.

“But when someone says their head’s a bit broken, it’s just ignored.”

One Scottish Premiership club told Scotland Tonight that football as a whole was getting better at dealing with mental health, but accepted that more needs to be done.

Allan Burrows, chief executive of Motherwell FC, who have experienced suicide among former players and fans, said: “I think we’ve made improvements, but we’ve got a lot of work still to do.

“We need to continue to talk about it and raise it as an issue. It needs to constantly be the message; you need to constantly push it all the time.

“We will continue to do that as a club. I hope other clubs will continue to do so as well and other sports and other outlets will continue to do it.

“And if we all do that, and we all try and take it more seriously, then hopefully we can stop this other pandemic that is going on in Scotland at the moment.”


Rangers ask fans to follow Covid guidelines when celebrating title

The club has urged supporters to be "safe and sensible" this weekend.

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Rangers will lift the Premiership trophy on Saturday at Ibrox.

Rangers have asked their supporters to make sure that they follow Covid guidelines and restrictions when they celebrate the club’s league title win this weekend.

Steven Gerrard’s side will lift the Premiership trophy on Saturday after the conclusion of their match against Aberdeen at Ibrox, and the team could complete an unbeaten league season.

Police Scotland has already warned against large gatherings after a fan group organised a title day march from Ibrox to George Square, while justice secretary Humza Yousaf urged Rangers fans to celebrate at home this weekend.

In a statement on the club’s website, Rangers warned that the dangers of Covid-19 were still present despite some restrictions being lifted across the country, and asked the team’s fans to behave accordingly.

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It read: “It’s a day to enjoy and to celebrate the achievements of our club, and the title win by Steven Gerrard and his team. However, we are cognisant that the battle against Covid-19 is far from over and that the virus is still live. It hasn’t gone away.

“Please celebrate this historic day for our club in a safe and sensible manner, respecting public safety- adhering to the current government guidelines and restrictions which are still in place.

“In particular, please be mindful of the government guidelines regarding gathering in large numbers. If possible, please celebrate within your own community.”

The request comes a day after Police Scotland launched an investigation into the lighting of fireworks outside Livingston’s Tony Macaroni Arena while Rangers played there on Wednesday night.

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A group of 200 fans gathered to watch Steven Gerrard’s team from a hill just outside the ground in West Lothian.

Sergeant Jim Gowling said: “An investigation is under way after several pyrotechnics were let off during the Livingston v Rangers game. 

“The inquiry will involve officers reviewing extensive CCTV footage to identify those involved in this reckless and dangerous behaviour.” 


Woman in critical condition after attempted murder bid

The 45-year-old was rushed to Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary with life-threatening injuries.

Police Scotland
Critical: Woman in hospital after being struck by car.

A woman is in a critical condition in hospital after being hit by a car in an attempted murder bid. 

On Wednesday around 8.15pm, the 45-year-old was struck by a car on Whitesands, Dumfries. 

Emergency services attended and the woman was taken to Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary with life-threatening injuries, where she remains in a critical condition.

A 26-year-old woman was also struck by the car but did not sustain any serious injuries.

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A 35-year-old man has been arrested in connection with the incident and enquiries are ongoing.

Anyone with information or dash-cam footage that could assist the investigation is asked to contact police on 101, quoting reference number 3169 of May 12.


Painter and decorator caught with £2m of cocaine in van

Richard Eadie was caught with the drugs on the M74 near Abbington, Lanarkshire in 2019.

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Drugs haul: Cocaine worth £2m seized from van.

A painter and decorator was caught with £2m of high-purity cocaine after a motorway swoop by police.

Richard Eadie was caught with the drugs on November 15, 2019 on the M74 northbound near Abbington, Lanarkshire.

Prosecutor Lindsey Dalziel told how police were “suspicious” when they clocked boxes in the front of the hired Ford Transit van given the space in the back.

They had already received a tip-off that drugs were on board.

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Police went on to discover 20 taped blocks inside each holding 1kg of cocaine.

The drugs had a purity as high as 76% with a potential value of between £1.6m and £2m.

On Thursday, Eadie of Garthamlock, pled guilty at the High Court in Glasgow to being concerned in the supply of cocaine.

His QC Thomas Ross told the hearing: “In terms of the value, he understands that prison is inevitable.”

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Eadie had been on bail, but, deferring sentencing for reports, judge Lady Stacey told him: “You will be remanded in custody.”

The case was adjourned until next month.


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