Coronavirus: Scotland records 956 new cases in 24 hours

The latest Scottish Government figures have been published.

Coronavirus: Scotland records 956 new cases. Radoslav Zilinsky via Getty Images
Coronavirus: Scotland records 956 new cases.

Scotland has recorded another 956 new cases of coronavirus in the last 24 hours.

The figures represents 14.9% of newly tested individuals, the Scottish Government confirmed.

In the Greater Glasgow and Clyde health board region, 296 new cases were identified, a drop on the 357 increase recorded the day before.

The Lothian region recorded 158 positive tests, two lower than Saturday, while there were 225 in Lanarkshire – an increase on the previous day’s 204.

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There have been no reported deaths among people who have tested positive in the last day, meaning the total remains at 2550.

The number of people in hospital with recently confirmed Covid on Saturday was 449 – 35 of whom were in intensive care.

Sturgeon to announce £100m fund to help hard up Scots

First Minister will say that problems with poverty and inequality are not "inevitable or insoluble".

Jeff J Mitchell via Getty Images
Sturgeon: Set to announce £100m funding.

A £100m fund will be set up to help hard up Scots this winter.

Nicola Sturgeon will announce, with the support including direct payments of £100 to all families with children in receipt of free school meals.

The First Minister will say the coronavirus pandemic has shown that it should no longer be accepted that problems with poverty and inequality are “inevitable or insoluble”.

The action comes in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis, which has seen many lose their jobs or have their incomes cut.

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The new £100m winter fund for low income households will provide those in need with cash to help “pay their fuel bills and make sure children don’t go hungry”, Sturgeon will tell the SNP annual conference.

In addition to this, it will help pay to get older people connected online and provide help for the homeless.

While the First Minister will stress Scotland does not have to be independent for the SNP government to “start doing the right things”, she will complain that Westminster’s control over much of the social security system north of the border makes it harder for ministers to act.

Following Covid-19, Sturgeon will insist her party wants to rebuild the country “with kindness, compassion, fairness, equality and enterprise at its heart – and not one made in the image of Boris Johnson and his band of Brexiteers”.

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She will state: “We must make sure we are working to the right plan, with all the tools we need to do the job.”

In February, the Scottish Government is bringing in a £10 week a payment for children in low income families – with Sturgeon to say that Scotland is the “only part of the UK” to take such action.

But she will add: “I know that for families struggling now, February is still a long way off.

“So I am announcing today a £100m package to bridge that gap, and help others struggling most with the impact of Covid over the winter months.

“It will include money to help people pay their fuel bills and make sure children don’t go hungry.

“It will offer additional help for the homeless, and fund an initiative to get older people online and connected.

“And, most importantly of all, it will provide a cash grant of £100 for every family with children in receipt of free school meals.

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“The money will be paid before Christmas and families can use it for whatever will help them through the winter. That could be food, new shoes or a winter coat for the kids.

“Families will know best what they need. That’s not for government to decide.”

She will declare: “Initiatives like this are not just about providing practical help to those who need it most – they are an expression of our values and of the kind of country we are seeking to build.”


When does Sturgeon decide to start living dangerously?

The First Minister will be under pressure to deliver a second independence referendum after next year's election.

Nicola Sturgeon may need a plan B to hold indyref2.

Today, Nicola Sturgeon addresses the SNP conference. Like so much of life at the moment, even that will be a strange affair. No packed hall, no obligatory standing ovation, no raucous cheering as the backdrop accompanying the bongs on the evening news programmes.

There will be spending announcements, including financial help for poorer families, and an outline of the agenda on which the party will contest next May’s Holyrood election.

With the polls suggesting those elections are a foregone conclusion in terms of who will win, the only real post-pandemic question for the First Minister is what she will do to deliver a second independence referendum if there is a majority for one next year.

Now, of course, that, constitutionally speaking, is not in her gift. Westminster has to consent to such a poll and the Prime Minister has made clear he will say no.

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Which means that come April, when a campaign of sorts will be underway, Sturgeon will spend much of it being dogged by the question, what do you do when the UK Government says no?

She has been here before. The question was posed at the UK general elections in 2017 and 2019 when the SNP was clear about their ambition for a second referendum. How many mandates does the SNP leader need before she decides to live dangerously?

The frustration of Yes supporters is increased by the belief that next time victory will be theirs. The post-2014 narrative has not gone well for the advocates of the status quo.

The Conservatives have won three UK general elections whilst being supported by only one in four Scots who voted in last December’s poll. And Scotland has left the EU despite a convincing majority in favour of remaining.

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In 2014, the debate around the economics of independence and in particular the currency question acted as a break on the surge for Yes as risk averse voters in middle-class areas opted to say ‘better together’.

As I see it, pro-Union politicians have three new problems post-2014.

First, much of the current debate is on whether the devolved settlement is capable of bridging the ‘democratic deficit’ that devolution was meant to straddle. Brexit suggests not.

If a second poll is fought predominantly on the alleged dysfunctionality of the governance arrangements of the UK, then that is far stronger ground for Yes than having to explain away how they will plug the financial black hole once Scotland accepts her share of the UKs financial liabilities.

Unless the pro Union parties can reframe the debate, they run the risk of fighting on ground more advantageous to the proponents of change.

Second, the pro-Union position has become predominantly identified with the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, who now form the official opposition to the SNP at Holyrood. Alistair Darling’s leadership of the Better Together campaign does seem a lifetime ago.

With Scottish Labour a much diminished force compared to six years ago, there is an added danger that a second poll becomes a surrogate contest in asking voters to choose between independence and the SNP and the status quo and the Conservatives. The lack of a Labour voice in such a dynamic can only benefit the Yes side.

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And then there is the question, who leads? A Conservative politician leading the No side would reinforce the view that unionism is best identified with the Conservative cause, a proposition many who voted No in 2014 would find hard to accept.

Then there is a simple question for the No side. What are you offering? The Vow in 2014 was an 11th hour response to a surge for Yes. It was not part of a carefully crafted strategy where leaders decided to play a strong hand to maximum advantage. I see no signs of serious thought about crafting a new pro-Union agenda outwith some references to federalism by some Labour figures.

All of the above is not lost on Yes supporters, hence their desire to get on with it. Those in the wider Yes movement, already impatient with the First Minister, will not settle for fighting talk ultimately defined by inaction.

With every passing month of 2021, Covid will diminish as a vaccine programme is rolled out. By the third quarter of next year it might be in the last throes of affecting our lives in the way it has.

Until it is beaten it will remain the SNP leader’s number one priority. However, at that point she needs a Plan B on IndyRef to implement. 

Her instincts are cautious, shying away from organising a Holyrood-inspired plebiscite which may titillate constitutional lawyers and frame the case for change around pursuit of a poll that could be mired in debates about illegality.

Doing nothing in 2021 is not an option and she knows it. Then again the given in this conundrum is that Boris Johnson will continue to say No. Will he?

If his party goes down to a large defeat next May he may be forced to abandon the pre-election rhetoric realising you cannot imprison yet another Holyrood mandate in the safety deposit of Westminster sovereignty.


Woman to send hundreds of Christmas cards to care homes

Andrea Fraser aims to brighten up Christmas Day for elderly people who may not have visitors.

SWNS via SWNS
Andrea is wanting to brighten up Christmas Day for elderly people.

A woman is planning to send hundreds of Christmas cards to care home residents facing loneliness due to coronavirus restrictions.

Andrea Fraser, 28, aims to brighten up Christmas Day for elderly people who may not have visitors.

The trainee lawyer, from Leith, Edinburgh, usually collects presents for children in need during the festive period.

But this year she has turned her attention to care home residents – many of whom have been at direct threat from Covid-19 and have had to self-isolate.

SWNS via SWNS
Andrea is planning on sending hundreds of Christmas cards to care home residents.
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Andrea is also looking to send cards to elderly people living alone across the city and has had more than 3000 requests – and offers to help from as far away as Australia.

She has organised seven collection and drop-off points around Edinburgh for those wishing to take part in writing and donating cards for the elderly this Christmas.

The card stations are currently at the post box on Leith Walk, Morrisons in Portobello Road and the little book cupboard St Mary’s School on Leith Links.

‘This year, more than ever and due to the extraordinary measures care homes are having to take to limit visitors, I believe more people than ever will be experiencing loneliness.’

Andrea Fraser

Andrea said: “This year, more than ever and due to the extraordinary measures care homes are having to take to limit visitors, I believe more people than ever will be experiencing loneliness.

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“So I have been determined to be better organised and try to beat my previous record of 300 Christmas cards.

“I got posting again in local Facebook groups and it really just took off. The community response has been incredible.

“I have lots of boxes of blank cards that people can fill out, so I will drop them off at different collection points around the city.

“It’s impossible to tell at the moment how many I have, but it’s a lot. It’s amazing how generous the community is.

“I have had offers to make cards, crochet cards, have children make cards and even an offer from a Portobello resident who is currently living in Australia. It has been amazing.

‘I will make sure to come up with a certain way to quarantine the cards before they are handed to residents for safety reasons.’

Andrea Fraser

“I will make sure to come up with a certain way to quarantine the cards before they are handed to residents for safety reasons.”

She came up with the idea of delivering cards to the elderly last year while she was making shoeboxes of gifts for children.

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With some of the money left over from fundraising for young people in need, she decided to buy cards for those in the older generation who are prone to loneliness.

Andrea said: “It was a bit last minute last year, but with the little money I had left from the children campaign I managed to get around 300 cards delivered.

“I was delivering them to homes up until 6pm on Christmas Eve, I felt like Santa.”

Andrea is currently focusing on delivering cards just in Edinburgh, but plans may change depending on how much momentum the project gathers.

She said: “It may be that we stretch further afield, or that people in other towns and cities take on a similar idea for their areas.

“Either way, it’s lovely to be able to do something that puts a smile on someone’s face this Christmas.”


Two police officers hurt after protests at Celtic Park

Police were present at the scene as fans called for Celtic manager Neil Lennon to resign.

Alan Harvey via SNS Group
Anger: Fans gather at Celtic Park calling for Neil Lennon to resign.

Two police officers have sustained minor injuries after angry fans gathered at Celtic Park calling for the resignation of Neil Lennon.

On Sunday, Celtic lost 2-0 to Ross County, knocking them out of the League Cup and ending a 35-game winning run for the Glasgow side in domestic cups.

Following the game, supporters gathered outside the football stadium in Glasgow.

More than a dozen police vans were lined up outside the main stand and a police helicopter circled overhead as fans called for Celtic manager Lennon to quit. 

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Two officers sustained minor injuries during the protests and police condemned the group for gathering in large numbers in a level four area during the coronavirus pandemic.

At her coronavirus briefing on Monday, the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon described anyone who attacks a police officer as “despicable”.

Celtic said in a statement that there was “no excuse” for violent scenes outside the stadium, adding it was “simply unacceptable” that missiles were thrown at players and management.

The club said said: “While we sincerely share the huge disappointment of all Celtic supporters, there can be no excuse for some of the violent scenes at Celtic Park this evening. The Club will be investigating these events fully.

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“For players and a management team, who have given so much in recent years and have delivered 11 consecutive trophies, to require an escort from Celtic Park while being targeted with missiles, is simply unacceptable.

“While we understand that only a small number of people were involved in this behaviour, some of the actions this evening, which have obviously left our own players shaken, cannot be condoned in any way.”

Lennon could hear the shouts as he walked into his post-match media conference and said: “It doesn’t make me feel good obviously. We are not in a good moment.

When asked what he would say to supporters outside, Lennon said: “What can I say? That’s their opinion. It’s been rumbling for a while.

“It doesn’t matter what I say or what sort of bravado I put on. It won’t wash. I have to turn it round with results. I can only do that with the players.”

‘Protests are prohibited in areas under level four restrictions and we would urge people to find alternative ways to protest to prevent the spread of coronavirus.’

Superintendent Stevie Dolan

Superintendent Stevie Dolan, Greater Glasgow Division said: “Around 4.30pm on Sunday, 29 November, a large number of fans started to gather outside Celtic Park to protest. 

“An appropriate policing response was carried out and the group has now dispersed.

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“No arrests have been made, however two officers sustained minor injuries as a result of the actions of the gathered group.

“We strongly condemn these actions and remind fans that enforcement options remain at our disposal.

“The Scottish Government regulations are clear that protests are prohibited in areas under level four restrictions and we would urge people to find alternative ways to protest to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

“Disorder of any sort will not be tolerated and appropriate action will be taken where any offences are identified.”


Couple wed in hospital in ceremony organised by staff

The couple decided to tie the knot after Rory's health worsened, seeking help from his nurses to pull off the big day.

Rebecca Macadam via

A young couple have married in hospital in a ceremony organised by staff in just two days. 

Rebecca Macadam, 23, and Rory Wilson, 24, decided on Wednesday they wanted to wed after Rory’s health began to deteriorate. 

Rory requires a multivisceral transplant and has been waiting in hospital to travel to Cambridge for assessment before he can be placed on the organ transplant list. 

The couple from Falkirk had originally planned to save for a wedding after becoming engaged two and a half years ago, but sought help from Rory’s nurses at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary after his condition worsened. 

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“They’ve known Rory for five years because he had two liver transplants back in 2015. He’s like their ward son,” Rebecca explained.

Rebecca Macadam via

“The past couple of weeks have been quite touch and go, he’s had involvement from the palliative pain team and there wasn’t much that Edinburgh could do in terms of his condition.

“One thing that he wanted to do was get married and the nurses and the coordinators and everybody decided to help make that happen.”

Rebecca quickly ordered a wedding dress online which arrived on Friday morning and borrowed her late Nana and Grandad’s rings for the ceremony while the couple’s were being delivered. 

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With just six guests allowed at the wedding, Rory and Rebecca each invited their parents and brothers to witness their union at the hospital.

Meanwhile staff busied themselves decorating a bay for the couple in under 24 hours. 

“The coordinators of the liver transplant team organised everything from balloons to the buffet and decorations. One of them even got me a garter,” Rebecca laughed.

“They did so much in such little time, I honestly don’t know how they did it to be honest, they wouldn’t let me see the room they decorated, I was kept in the dark.”

Rebecca Macadam via

On their wedding day, Rory, dressed in a tartan tie, stood waiting for Rebecca to walk up the aisle as staff looked on. 

Rebecca said there wasn’t a dry eye in the house as they became man and wife. 

“It wasn’t the wedding we had planned, but it was definitely something really special for us.” she said.

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“Our whole relationship, the hospital has kind of third wheeled it, so it was very fitting to have all his nurses who have looked after him for a good five years be there as well.

“It was very emotional, I don’t think there was a dry eye.”

Rebecca Macadam via

Following their wedding, the couple hope Rory can travel to Cambridge in the coming days before being placed on the organ donor list for the liver and small bowel transplant he desperately needs. 

Rebecca is thankful they were able to celebrate their special day together and are hoping for a brighter future as man and wife. 

“Two weeks ago we didn’t think he would still be here. You never know what’s around the corner.”


Criminal cash courier leaves £10,000 in bag on Glasgow train

Weijie Shi accidentally left the bag of money behind after alighting the Glasgow to Manchester service at Carlisle.

SNS group via SNS Group
Jailed: Wejjie Shi left a bag of criminal cash on a Glasgow to Manchester train.

A cash courier for a criminal gang has been jailed after he accidentally left a bag containing £10,000 onboard a Glasgow train.

Weijie Shi, 25, left the bag of money behind after alighting the Glasgow to Manchester service at Carlisle train station on November 20 last year, a court heard.

Passengers tried to attract his attention after spotting the unattended bag and phone which he had left on board.

After the train pulled away, Shi told a staff member he’d been separated from his belongings. He then boarded a train back to Glasgow.

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Carlisle Crown Court heard that the bag that he had mislaid was found by staff onboard the train.

When a conductor opened it to check for something that may identify the owner, he found that the bag was crammed full of cash.

British Transport Police later confirmed that the there was a total of £10,000 inside.

Shi, of no fixed address, was traced from CCTV footage and initially gave a fake name which matched a false passport in his possession.

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He later admitted charges of having an identification document with improper intention, and possessing criminal property.

Judge Nicholas Barker said Shi was clearly a “courier’ moving cash linked to crime.

However, there was no indication of who the defendant was working for and it was not revealed how the money was raised.

The court heard Shi was in the UK illegally and had not lodged an asylum claim because he was awaiting the outcome of his case.

Imposing an immediate jail term of 11-months, the judge said: “You are not of settled status.

“You have no previous convictions recorded against you in this country.

“Those who possess false identity documents in this country can expect a custodial sentence.”

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As Shi had already spent six months in custody while waiting for his case to come to court, Judge Barker told him: “It seems likely from what I have been told that your release will either be today or very soon.”


Bayoh inquiry ‘will have 50,000 documents to scrutinise’

Sheku Bayoh died in May 2015 while being held by police officers.

STV News
Sheku Bayoh's family believe race played a part in his death.

An independent public inquiry into the death of a man who was restrained by police will have to scrutinise around 50,000 documents, it is believed.

Sheku Bayoh died in May 2015 while being held by officers who were responding to a call in Kirkcaldy, Fife.

The 32-year-old’s family claimed race played a part in his death and they criticised the subsequent investigation.

Lord Bracadale, retired senator of the College of Justice, will lead the inquiry, with Michael Fuller and Raju Bhatt as assessors to support him.

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In an opening statement published on the inquiry website, he said: “It has now been over five years since the death of Mr Bayoh and I, and my team, are conscious of the length of time this has hung over all involved, particularly the Bayoh family.

“We will work with determination and focus to ensure the work can be completed as quickly as possible.

“It is, however, at this stage impossible to say how long the inquiry will take.

“It is only from today, the setting-up date of the inquiry, that we are allowed by law to start ingathering the evidence.

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“Preliminary discussions with some of the organisations involved lead us to believe that we will have in the region of 50,000 documents to scrutinise.

“This will clearly take some time for my team to get through.”

He added: “After we have considered all the documentary evidence and conducted further investigation, the inquiry will hold public hearings where we will call witnesses to give evidence.

“Again, it is not possible at this stage to say when this will happen; how many witnesses will be called; or how long the hearings will last.

“First, we must work our way through the documentary evidence and make necessary further inquiries.”

The Bayoh family said they “welcomed” the opening statement and hoped it would deliver the truth.

They said in a statement: “Kadie Johnson, Sheku’s sister has no doubt that the way he or her family were treated by the police and the justice system would not have happened had Sheku been white, their treatment was compounded by repeated attacks from those who appear to remain in a ‘child-like’ denial about the existence of racism in policing today.

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“In his death Sheku was smeared, vilified and criminalised in order to negate his right to life.

“So as the inquiry begins, we should never forget that Sheku Bayoh was a 32-year-old black man, with no previous history of violence, he was a loving father, partner, son and brother who died in police custody. 

“Sheku’s loved ones fought for justice, but that word was betrayed by the Lord Advocate, so now all their hopes lie in Lord Bracadale delivering the truth.”

The inquiry was announced last November by Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf with its scope determined in May this year.

On Thursday, he said: “The family of Mr Bayoh have shown remarkable dignity and perseverance during their five-year wait for an inquiry into the death of Sheku.

“I hope that today’s announcement gives them comfort and reassurance that the circumstances surrounding his death will be examined in a public and transparent manner.

“Lord Bracadale and I worked closely together in selecting the assessors and we agreed that Mr Fuller and Mr Bhatt would provide extensive levels of experience and expertise to the inquiry.

“The formal start of the inquiry is a key milestone and I am confident the assessors will ably assist the chair to consider issues relevant to the terms of reference.

“The inquiry will examine the circumstances leading up to the death of Mr Bayoh, the post-incident management process and subsequent investigation.

“The inquiry will also establish the extent to which Mr Bayoh’s actual or perceived race played a part in events, if any.”

A statement from lawyer Aamer Anwar on behalf of Mr Bayoh’s family was expected later on Monday morning.


Scottish Labour MSP to step down after 22 years in Holyrood

Lewis Macdonald will not be seeking re-election next year but said he will remain 'active' in politics.

Fraser Bremner via Getty Images
Stepping down: Scottish Labour MSP Lewis Macdonald to leave Holyrood.

Scottish Labour MSP Lewis Macdonald has announced he will be stepping down after 22 years in Holyrood.

Macdonald will not be seeking re-election next year but said he will remain “active” in politics.

He has served in Holyrood since its creation in 1999, first as the member for Aberdeen Central then as a regional MSP for North East Scotland since 2011.

During that time, he spent six years as a minister between 2001 and 2007 and is now a deputy presiding officer of the Scottish Parliament and convener of the health and sport committee.

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On Twitter, Macdonald wrote: “It has been an honour to represent the north east as a Labour Member of the Scottish Parliament for over twenty years.

“The time has come for others to take on that role, but I will continue to be active in other ways after next year’s election.”

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said Macdonald will be “much missed” in Parliament.

He tweeted: “@LewisMacdMSP has served @scottishlabour, @ScotParl, Aberdeen and north east Scotland with distinction over more than two decades.

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“I’m wishing Lewis a very happy retirement – you will be much missed at Holyrood.”

Macdonald’s announcement comes after fellow Scottish Labour North East Scotland MSP Jenny Marra said she will be stepping down at the next election.

Marra, who gave birth to her second child in April, wrote to her local party branch to inform them of her decision not to stand in next year’s Holyrood election due to the role meaning she spends too much time away from her family.


Wet Wet Wet’s new singer feels pressure ahead of first album

Kevin Simm has replaced Marti Pellow as the Scottish band's frontman.

Chuff Media via Contributed
Kevin Simm, left, has recorded his first album with the band.

Kevin Simm has admitted he is feeling the pressure ahead of his first album as Wet Wet Wet’s lead singer.

The 40-year-old, who triumphed on The Voice UK in April 2016, replaced founding member Marti Pellow in the Scottish band in 2018, after the frontman quit suddenly the previous year.

Speaking as Wet Wet Wet announced a new album and UK theatre tour for autumn 2021, Simm said he hoped to cement his place in the quartet with a selection of original material.

The Liberty X singer said: “Of course there is a pressure. I feel with it being my first record with the guys I want the fans to be blown away by it.

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“The last year or so has been me proving I can sing the songs from the back catalogue and that I can do a good job with them.

Facebook / Marti Pellow
Marti Pellow left the band he helped found in 2018.

“I am now part of Wet Wet Wet’s history – as in I have become a member of the band.

“The real way to really cement my place and put my stamp on the band is by tracks that are originally with me at the front.”

Simm, from Chorley in Lancashire, performed live with the band a number of times before the coronavirus pandemic struck.

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And the group – Simm, Graeme Clark, Neil Mitchell and Tommy Cunningham – are currently finishing The Journey, the band’s seventh album in first more than 13 years.

Speaking about winning over the band’s old fans, Simm said: “With any band, whether it be Wet Wet Wet or Oasis or Liberty X , any member change is never going to be a unanimous thumbs up from the fans.

“There is always going to be fans who can’t accept it, no matter what band it is.

“From my point of view, it would probably be foolish for me to say the majority of fans have accepted me, but I have felt nothing but love when we have been out and gigged.”

Drummer Cunningham spoke of his upset over Pellow’s decision to quit the band and pursue a solo career.

He said: “I had teary moments where I just couldn’t believe that such a strong friendship and bond had broken so easily and over such a thing as someone’s greed, in a way.

“To go and try and steal an audience. We had our 30th anniversary, we had our tour lined up, it was all there.

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“Everyone was in agreement for six or seven months beforehand.

“Two days before announcement he decided he would go and put his own tour on sale and try and pull the rug from under it.”

But Cunningham said Simm’s arrival had “evaporated” their worries over how they would continue.

The 56-year-old also offered an insight into the sound of their upcoming album.

“We are not going to try and become Taylor Swift,” he quipped.

“We have not got our 25 producers that we send it out to and it comes in and it’s all machines doing everything.

“We look at our strengths. Our strengths are we do emotional, melodic songs.

“We do them with real instruments, so in other words it has to stand up with piano, guitar, vocal, bass and drums. That’s the criteria.”

The Scottish band has sold 15 million records, and spent 15 weeks at the top of the charts in 1994 with their cover of The Troggs’ track Love Is All Around.

Tickets from The Journey tour go on sale at 10am on Friday, December 4 at www.myticket.co.uk/artists/wet-wet-wet and venue box offices.


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