‘It has never been more important to talk about suicide’

A campaign to make Scotland a place of support for those affected by suicide launches on World Suicide Prevention Day.

By Jack Thomson and Gordon Chree

A campaign to make Scotland a place of support and comfort for those affected by suicide has launched on World Suicide Prevention Day.

The movement, known as United to Prevent Suicide, is aimed to open up a conversation about suicide and give people the confidence to help someone who is struggling.

The country’s National Suicide Prevention Leadership Group (NSPLG) is behind the project, which has been created alongside people with lived experience and informed by thousands.

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It comes as a YouGov poll revealed nearly a third (31%) of people in Scotland wouldn’t know how to help if someone they knew was having suicidal thoughts, while more than a third (36%) have never spoken about the issue with anyone.

People are most confident talking to their friends (51%), according to the survey, but 39% wouldn’t feel comfortable talking about suicide with their family.

On average two people die by suicide every day, according to figures from the Scottish Suicide Information Database Report (December 2018).

Campaigners say it is time to bring people together, talk to each other and save lives.

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Rose Fitzpatrick, the chair of NSPLG, said: “Many of us have been affected by suicide in some way, so it has never been more important to be able to talk about suicide.

“Giving each one of us the confidence to ask or tell a member of our family, a friend or colleague about suicide really will make a difference”

STV News spoke to three people who have taken the step to share their stories in the hope that it can help others who are struggling.

Liam Hayman, Glasgow

“I have struggled with gender dysphoria and social problems from an early age. I self-harmed from the age of approximately 13, and eventually became very ill in my late teens, culminating in a suicide attempt at 18, by overdose.

“I was subsequently held on a psychiatric ward for a few months and again attempted suicide on my release, again attempting to overdose.

“I gradually recovered after these events and returned to study at college and university, studying biomedical science at Glasgow. During my illness I received support from charities such as Link (a befriending service) and Penumbra. I volunteered as a mentor with the former for a couple of years until I moved to Glasgow and also raised funds for Penumbra at a race. I did this because I am very keen to return the help that I was given and keep the conversation on mental health going.

“I am trying to do this within academia at the moment as we have horrible mental health stats. I am currently in training as a volunteer with Samaritans.

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“I recently wrote an article for Penumbra spotlight, in which I highlighted that I feel lucky that I am still here today because when I needed it most, I received support that allowed me to avoid a third suicide attempt.

“Since then, my life has transformed in a way that I could never have imagined. However, it could all have been very different and for too many people, it is indeed a very different story. I have a driving passion to ensure that the systems in place for people suffering with mental health problems, and their families, are robust and deliver the maximum amount of positive impact possible.

“I have done this previously and currently in other ways, but this is an opportunity for me to make a difference in a new way.”

Steve McHugh, Banchory

“In January 2016 my eldest son Greg took his own life. He was 21 years old. He had suffered several traumatic events over a short period of time, including the accidental death of his girlfriend’s brother, the death through cancer of a rugby colleague, his mother’s diagnosis with breast cancer and finally his girlfriend ended their long term relationship.

“He left a note stating that he was a monster and did not deserve to live. It was devastating to the family and friends.

“The impact on the rest of the family is ongoing.”

Sam Ashraf, Edinburgh

“I grew up in quite a strict Muslim, quite a conservative religious family. I was told what to wear, I was told how to behave by family members.

“I had siblings who were all male and I felt as though there were a lot of double standards in the way that I was expected to conform to the way that my mum and previous generations had grown up but my brothers had a lot of freedom and could live the British way of life. I found that quite frustrating.

“Those feelings then developed in my teenage years into me becoming more and more withdrawn and becoming really quite isolated, from being able to speak to anybody.

“In my late teens I didn’t feel I could talk to anybody about what was going on. Also, to throw into the mix, I learned that I had developed feelings for people in the opposite sex and the same sex, so there was a lot of confusion there.

“I thought given that my family and I have to follow such a strict religion at the time, how am I going to manage this? So the only thing I could do was to suppress any feelings that I had for people of the same sex.

“With the oppressive nature that I was experiencing within my family, I didn’t feel safe in a sense and I felt quite overwhelmed with the feelings that I had in my own mind.

“Because I couldn’t express them in a safe way and I was unable to articulate them to family members, I began to self-harm.

“The restrictions that were placed on me, I found, were completely overwhelming, and that as I mentioned before, coupled with the development of my sexuality, was really tough. I really struggled with that, there were thoughts of suicide as well.

“I think I would’ve managed my feelings a lot better had I had somebody to speak to… If I could give myself a message, in my younger years, I would say, don’t look back in any angry sense because that will just fuel the negativity. Try and accept who you are, whether it’s to do with your sexuality or anything else in life.”

‘Signing a pledge’

Supporters are invited to join the campaign by signing a pledge at unitedtopreventsuicide.org.uk – the movement looks to improve the knowledge and skills in suicide prevention with learning resources, listening and talking about suicide.

If you are struggling, the following services offer confidential support from trained staff and volunteers. You can talk about anything that is troubling you, no matter how difficult:

  • Call 116 123 to talk to Samaritans, or email jo@samaritans.org
  • Call 111 to talk to NHS 24’s mental health hub
  • Call 0800 83 85 87 to talk to Breathing Space. The service is open 24 hours at weekends (6pm Friday – 6am Monday) and 6pm to 2am on weekdays (Monday – Thursday).
  • Text “SHOUT” to 85258 to contact the Shout Crisis Text Line, text “YM” if you are under 19.

Dozens sent to care homes after positive Covid tests

Covid outbreaks took place at nearly 350 care homes in Scotland between March and June.

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Dozens of hospital patients who tested positive for coronavirus were sent to care homes as the pandemic began to grip Scotland.

However, a report from Public Health Scotland (PHS) concluded that there was no “statistically significant” link between discharges and Covid outbreaks.

The figures show 78 people who tested positive in hospitals were discharged to care homes between March 1 and April 21. Ten of those patients tested negative before they were discharged while the remainder did not.

Thousands more were transferred without being tested during that period, the report said. Of those 3599 people, only 650 were given tests, with official guidance at that time stating they were only required if symptoms were showing.

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The report noted that on April 21, Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said Covid-19 patients being discharged from hospitals to care homes should have given two negative tests before being moved.

Between April 22 and May 31, there were 1605 discharges from hospitals to care homes, with 93% of them (1493) being tested for Covid-19, in line with changes in clinical guidance.

A total of 45 patients did not have a negative test before they were discharged during this period.

Nearly 350 care homes suffered a Covid outbreak between March 1 and June 21, according to the report, with around half of the 4400 virus-linked deaths in Scotland accounted for by the facilities.

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PHS said discharges from hospitals did not create a “statistically significant” risk of outbreaks, adding that the size of care homes was a bigger contributing factor.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said further work would take place to give a more detailed understanding of care home outbreaks.

She said: “Nothing in it [the report] detracts from the tragedy of the deaths that have occurred in care homes over the course of the pandemic, and nothing ever will detract from the heartbreak of those bereaved.

“Where the report’s conclusions highlight the need for additional measures, we will act on that.

“I want people to know we take this very seriously.”

Opposition politicians, however, said the report revealed a “scandalous dereliction” of public health duties.

Scottish Conservatives shadow health secretary Donald Cameron said: “Families who lost loved ones after Covid-positive hospital patients were knowingly discharged into care homes have been waiting months for answers from this SNP government.

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“Today’s overdue report reveals a scandalous dereliction in the provision of public health to some of the most vulnerable people in our society.

“To see people’s worst fears confirmed by these statistics only adds to the need for full and frank disclosure from the SNP.”

Scottish Care, which represents private homes, said the report only told “part of the story”.

Chief executive Dr Donald Macaskill said: “The statistical analysis is thorough and highlights that the risks to care homes in terms of outbreaks are related to the size of a care home.

“This is because larger care homes tend to be nursing homes, dealing with more frail residents and those living with dementia; they have larger numbers of staff members and environmentally because of size present greater risks.

“What is missing amongst all the data and statistics, the numbers and charts, is the story of those who cared for residents in our care homes.

“I hope the researchers can take some time to listen to the experience of staff in care homes where there have been significant outbreaks.

“At the moment we have one side of the story, what is missing is the frontline experience of our care sector and its staff, the voices of those who received care and their families.” 

He added: “The report is a reminder of the pain we have all endured. Its insight should become the energy to ensure that the whole health and care system really does support the care home sector in the weeks ahead, that it becomes each of our responsibilities to protect by our everyday action, putting the needs of the residents rather than the protection of any system or organisation at the heart of that shared focus.”

Coronavirus: 28 more dead as cases rise by 1202 overnight

More than 1000 people are currently receiving treatment in hospital for Covid-19.

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A further 28 people have died in Scotland after being diagnosed with coronavirus, the First Minister has confirmed.

Total confirmed cases of the virus has risen to 60,403 – a jump of 1202 in the past 24 hours and 6.8% of all tests carried out on Tuesday.

The official death toll in Scotland now stands at 2754, however weekly figures on suspected Covid-19 deaths recorded by National Records of Scotland suggest the most up-to-date total is more than 4400.

Of the new cases reported on Wednesday, 451 are in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde region, 292 are in Lanarkshire, 152 are in Lothian, and 91 are in Ayrshire and Arran.

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The remaining cases are spread across nine other health board areas. NHS Western Isles was the only health board not to record a new case.

According to management information reported by NHS boards across Scotland, 1117 people are in hospital with confirmed or suspected Covid-19 – an increase of 17 overnight. Out of those, 85 patients are in intensive care.

Earlier on Wednesday it was revealed that 78 hospital patients in Scotland who had tested positive for Covid-19 were discharged into care homes from March 1 to April 21.

Public Health Scotland’s study found that between those dates there were 3599 discharges from hospital to a care home, the majority (81.9%) of which were not tested for Covid-19.

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Of the 650 who were tested, 78 had received a positive result while in hospital.

Between April 22 and May 31, there were 1605 discharges from hospital to a care home.

The majority (1493 – 93%) were tested for Covid-19, in line with changes in clinical guidance. Of these, 1215 tested negative and 278 tested positive. Of those who tested positive, 233 had a negative test result prior to discharge.

At the Scottish Government’s coronavirus briefing, Nicola Sturgeon said the report concluded that allowing for other factors, such as the size of a care home, “hospital discharges were not found to have contributed to a significantly higher risk of an outbreak”.

Quoting directly from the report, she stated: “The analysis does not find statistical evidence that hospital discharges of any kind were associated with care home outbreaks.”

She said Public Health Scotland would now be carrying out further work to give a more detailed understanding of Covid-19 outbreaks in care homes.

Speaking about Scotland’s new five-tier system for restrictions, Sturgeon said formal confirmation of which levels would be applied to different local authority areas would be revealed on Thursday.

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She said: “Work to finalise these decisions will take place over the course of today and this evening.

“The position we are in right now is really tough, and everyone is thoroughly sick of it.

“That has been the case for some time, but as the nights get darker, as we head into winter, and as our attention and thoughts turn to Christmas, I think that feeling becomes a heavier one for all of us.”


Pardons for Scots miners convicted during 1980s strikes

It's thought around 500 miners were convicted in Scotland during the strikes in the 1980s.

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Former miners were at the Scottish Parliament as the pardoning announcement was made.

Former miners who were convicted during strikes in the 1980s will be pardoned.

The Scottish Government made the announcement on Wednesday following an independent review into arrests the 1984/85 strike.

Around 1400 miners were said to have been arrested, with approximately 500 convicted of breach of the peace and similar offences.

Legislation will be required to overturn the convictions, which justice secretary Humza Yousaf said would be put before parliament to “right a wrong”.

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Millions of people protested against pit closures during the industrial dispute with Margaret Thatcher’s government.

Scottish Labour MSP Neil Findlay joined some miners outside Holyrood on Wednesday afternoon.

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Scottish miners clash with police during the strikes in the 1980s.

Findlay said: “Many former miners and their families have waited years for this – they have paid a heavy price for their convictions including being blacklisted from employment.

“I want to thank former justice minister Michael Matheson for setting up the independent review into policing during the 1984/85 strike and John Scott QC and the panel for their work.”


Man who set ex-partner on fire sent to psychiatric hospital

Kevin Marks laughed as businesswoman Ann Drummond, 47, tried to extinguish the flames engulfing her body.

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Ann Drummond was set on fire by her ex-parnter at Drumcross Farm in Bathgate.

A man who laughed as he set his former partner on fire has been sent to a high security psychiatric hospital.

Kevin Marks, 48, stood over businesswoman Ann Drummond, 47, as she rolled around the ground in a bid to extinguish the flames engulfing her body. 

The High Court in Edinburgh heard how Marks started the fire on June 25, 2019, in Ms Drummond’s car at a road near Bathgate, West Lothian. 

Ms Drummond had been so concerned by Marks’ poor mental health that she had gone to meet him at court moments after he had been released on bail on other charges. 

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The court heard how paramedics rushed to the scene and took her to hospital. Medics later found that more than 80 per cent of Ms Drummond’s body was injured by burns. 

She later died at Glasgow’s Royal Infirmary Hospital after doctors concluded her injuries were so severe that she couldn’t survive. 

Police later arrested Marks, also of Bathgate, and charged him with murder.

But prosecutors accepted a not guilty plea from Marks last month on the basis that his mental health was so poor that he wasn’t responsible for his actions. 

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On Wednesday afternoon, judge Simon Collins QC heard how psychiatrists who had examined Marks concluded that he had suffered from paranoid schizophrenia.

Medical staff at the State Hospital recommended Marks be given an order that compels him to receive medical treatment at the facility. They also recommended that he be kept there indefinitely. 

Judge Collins agreed to impose the restriction and treatment order on Marks.

He said: “This is a horrifying and tragic case. There is nothing which the court can say or do which will ease the pain and suffering of the friends and family of the deceased.

During earlier proceedings, the court heard how before attacking Ms Drummond, Marks had been arrested earlier in the same week in connection with other alleged offences. Officers were so concerned by his mental health that he was twice assessed by community forensic nurses. 

However, the medical staff concluded that he was fit to be released and he later appeared at Livingston Sheriff Court and was granted bail. 

Marks then attacked his former partner in her vehicle at an unclassified countryside road near to Bathgate. 

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Prosecutor Alan Cameron told the court that eyewitnesses noticed a car on fire and phoned 999. 

He added: “In the ambulance, Ms Drummond spoke to paramedics. She said that she had been in the passenger seat and that Mr Marks had poured petrol on her and set her alight. 

“She said that she had got out of the car and while she was rolling on the ground trying to put the fire out he was standing over her laughing. 

“It was noted at this time that she had sustained head injuries. When asked about them she said that she did not know how they occurred. 

“At hospital Ms Drummond was found to have burns to approximately 85% of her body.”

Mr Cameron told temporary judge Simon Collins QC on Tuesday how Ms Drummond had been in a relationship with Marks for around two-and-a-half years – the pair split a week before she died.

He had previously helped Ms Drummond with her dog walking business.

Mr Cameron also explained the reasons why the Crown accepted the not guilty pleas. 

He said: “Mr Marks has pled not guilty on the basis that he is not criminally responsible for his conduct due to mental disorder. 

“That plea, and the existence of the mental disorder in question at the time of the conduct is supported by the psychiatrists who have prepared reports for the court. 

“The Crown accepts the plea of not guilty on that basis.”

On Wednesday, the court heard that psychiatrists who have assessed Marks believe he has a “superficial” understanding of his actions. Medical staff believe they need time to treat him and manage his condition. 

Marks observed proceedings via video link.

Defence advocate Shelagh McCall QC said her client appreciated the need for him to be sent to Carstairs.

She added: “Mr Marks appreciates the need for him to be in the State Hospital and realises the need for treatment.

“My instructions from him are to ask for the imposition of a treatment and restriction order.”

Judge Collins then passed the order. 

Lanarkshire leaders in plea to avoid strictest Covid rules

Council leaders, police and NHS join forces to sign letter to Scottish Government.

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Sturgeon said level four restrictions for Lanarkshire 'cannot be ruled out'.

Bosses of councils, NHS and police in Lanarkshire have written to the Scottish Government urging it to rule out the strictest coronavirus restrictions for the area.

The letter is a response to a leaked government email to Cosla on Monday revealing both North and South Lanarkshire are being considered for tier four measures under the new levels system beginning on Monday.

It was signed by chief executives of North and South Lanarkshire councils, Des Murray and Cleland Sneddon, chief executive of NHS Lanarkshire, Heather Knox, and area’s police commander, superintendent Alan Waddell.

Level four is the closest to a full lockdown, similar to the one introduced at the end of March, and would mean non-essential shops, pubs and restaurants have to close.

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The letter argues the area’s figures are improving and warned of “significant additional harms and consequences” if placed under stricter restrictions.

It goes on to urge the Scottish Government to consider placing both North and South Lanarkshire in level three.

The letter says: “We have been following the numbers intensely and the Scottish Government figures for Lanarkshire have declined.

“There is emerging clear evidence in Lanarkshire that the very steep rise has been halted and that there is an indication that cases are falling to some extent.”

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The letter goes on to warn the Scottish Government that a move to level four has “considerable implications for Lanarkshire and beyond”.

It adds: “It has significant impacts on health and wellbeing, public services, and business and the economy.”

The Lanarkshire bosses say they support basing measures on virus transmission but “do not believe the most up-to-date statistics support a move to Level 4” for their area.

The letter states: “There is a decline in the key indicators for Lanarkshire when the most up-to-date data is considered.

“Against that backdrop, and the significant additional harms and consequences we have set out for level four when compared with the other levels, we would urge the Scottish Government to place Lanarkshire in level three of the restrictions and assume that its neighbouring authorities will be in a similar position.”

Level three of the tier system would mean alcohol sales both indoors and outdoors will not be permitted in the area, although some restaurants may be able to open under strict conditions.

Level four is the most similar to a full lockdown with non-essential shops being forced to close.

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Socialising would not be allowed in people’s homes, but six people from two households could still meet outdoors and there would be no limit on outdoor exercise.

Non-essential travel would be banned and there could be limits on the distance people can travel, as well as guidance to stay at home.

For further details of Scotland’s new coronavirus levels system click here.


Scotland to have five teams in European competition from 2021

UEFA have confirmed the allocation for their club competitions.

Alan Harvey via SNS Group
Scotland will have two teams in the Champions League qualifiers.

Scotland will have five teams in European football competition from 2021 after UEFA confirmed details of their revamped competitions.

Two Scottish sides will be in the Champions League qualifiers for the first time since 2012. The Premiership title winners will enter from the third qualifying round with the runners-up entering a round earlier.

There will be only one Scottish representative in the Europa League with the Scottish Cup winners entering in the third qualifying round of the second-tier tournament.

A newly created UEFA Europa Conference League will launch in the same season with two Scottish sides taking part. The second qualifying round slots will be awarded to the sides that finish third and fourth in the Premiership.


‘No part of Scotland is ready for level zero restrictions’

However, national clinical director Jason Leitch told MSPs they can have confidence in the system imposed.

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Covid-19: Jason Leitch said the current restrictions are working.

Scots have been told no part of the country is ready to move to the lowest level of lockdown.

National clinical director Jason Leitch told MSPs they can have confidence in the restrictions imposed but the “state of the pandemic nationally” means it is too risky to allow any area to be at level zero in the Scottish Government’s five-tier system of restrictions.

Giving evidence to Holyrood’s Covid-19 committee, Professor Leitch said transmission of the virus in hospitality settings and through social interaction is falling as a result of the latest bout of restrictions.

He added: “We’re going to have to hold our nerve and if we hold our nerve and the number [of coronavirus cases] falls, we’ll be able to gradually release some of those more stringent restrictions.”

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He said that two weeks ago there was little evidence that the restrictions were working, but he told MSPs: “I think today, you can reassure [constituents] that it is working.”

Scottish Liberal Democrats leader Willie Rennie asked what areas where coronavirus numbers are low have to do to move into the lowest tier of restrictions.

Prof Leitch said having the lowest number of cases per 100,000 according to the Scottish Government’s grading system, as well as having the lowest positive tests and the lowest hospital and intensive care admissions, is not enough for an area to be at level zero.

He said travel and tourism risks also need to be taken into account, and added: “We know how quickly this virus is imported into countries, or pieces of countries.

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“The present position of the senior clinical advisers in Scotland is that no area in Scotland is ready to get to Level 0 because of the state of the pandemic nationally.”

Another factor that may influence a local authority’s restriction level is the capacity in the area’s intensive care units.

Prof Leitch referenced South Lanarkshire, where patients attend one of three hospitals including University Hospital Monklands in Airdrie which has a capacity of 30 beds for coronavirus patients – far fewer than the 76 forecast to be required in six weeks’ time.

The adviser also said the new rules that are due to come into effect from November 2 will have specific advice for people who were previously shielding and are most at risk from the virus.

He said: “What we’ve tried to do in the recent publication of the draft tiers is to link the advice to the high-risk groups – the so-called shielders.

“At none of those levels are we telling people to stay in the house and cut themselves off entirely, we don’t think that’s appropriate at this time in the pandemic.”


Three officers and child taken to hospital after police chase

A police car crashed into another car and overturned while in pursuit of a Skoda in Castlemilk, Glasgow.

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Crash: Four men and a child have been taken to hospital following a police chase.

Three officers, a man and a child have been taken to hospital after a police car overturned following a chase in Glasgow.

The incident occurred around 5.35pm on Tuesday, when a police pursuit commenced after a Skoda failed to stop on Stravanan Road, Castlemilk.

During the pursuit, the police car collided with a BMW on Carmunnock Road at its junction with Craiglinn Gardens and overturned.

The blue BMW 3 series was not involved in the police pursuit.

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The driver of the Skoda failed to stop and did not return to the scene. 

A 39-year-old man who was driving the BMW and his ten-year-old passenger were taken to Queen Elizabeth University Hospital and Royal Hospital for Children, Glasgow, respectively. 

Three male police officers were also taken to Queen Elizabeth University Hospital.

The road was closed for around three hours.

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Chief Inspector Darren Faulds, of Glasgow’s Road Policing Unit, said: “Our enquiries into the circumstances surrounding the crash, along with the vehicle which failed to stop, are ongoing.

“I would urge anyone who may have witnessed the crash or was in the area around the time of the crash to contact police. Also, anyone with dash-cam footage which could assist our investigation should get in touch.”

As is standard procedure, the incident has been referred to the Police Investigations & Review Commissioner.

Anyone with information can contact police on 101, quoting incident number 2330 of October 27.


Millionaire loses £3.9m divorce settlement to ex-wife

The business owner met his former wife after she was hired to work in his chip shop.

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The judge concluded that £3.9m was entitled to the millionaire's ex-wife.

A millionaire who met his former wife working in his chip shop business has lost a legal bid to have her £3.9m divorce settlement cut.

The woman – who can only be identified as SCA – was given the settlement following proceedings at the Court of Session earlier this year.

The woman married her husband – who can only be identified as MMA – in February 1989.

She worked as a counter assistant and a pizza chef in the business.

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The couple then built a business empire involving restaurants and commercial property throughout the west of Scotland.

The judge concluded that the marriage had broken down “irretrievably” and that there wasn’t any “prospect of reconciliation.”

The judge also said the family’s total assets amounted to £10,279,731 and concluded that SCA was entitled to £3,936,565.

Lady Wise added: “Both parties contributed to this marriage in different ways.

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SCA worked in the fish and chip shops and in the pizzeria…. and running the family home.”

Lawyers for the husband went to the Inner House of the Court of Session.

They told civil appeal judges Lord Malcolm, Lord Pentland and Lord Woolman that their colleague had made errors in her calculations about the couple’s actual wealth.

MMA’s legal team said the figure should be reduced.

However, in a written judgement published by the court, Lord Malcolm rejected the claim and concluded that Lady Wise acted correctly.

Lord Malcolm wrote: “She listened to the competing submissions and reached a decision which cannot be described as unreasonable or manifestly wrong.”


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