Coronavirus updates as they happened – Wednesday, April 8.

Today's latest coronavirus news and updates from across Scotland as it happens.

Coronavirus: Wednesday's latest updates. Pixabay
Coronavirus: Wednesday's latest updates.

7.30pm: First Scots NHS worker dies

A district nurse from Inverclyde has become the first NHS worker in Scotland to die from coronavirus.

Nurse: Janice Graham passed away on Monday.

Janice Graham, 58, was described as a “beautiful woman with the biggest heart” by her heartbroken friends.

Ms Graham, a health care support worker and district nurse, died at Inverclyde Royal Hospital due to Covid-19 on Monday.

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6.30pm: FM to take questions from party leaders in virtual session

Nicola Sturgeon will take questions from party leaders in a virtual question and answer session on Thursday.

It will go ahead at 12.30pm and is expected to last for around 40 minutes.

The First Minister said it would replace the usual coronavirus briefing – which is held daily.

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It is expected that the session will mirror the first part of the First Minister’s Questions, where Ms Sturgeon takes questions from her opposite numbers.

5.45pm: New rules ‘could prevent prisoners from keeping clean’

New guidance issued to governors could prevent Scottish prisoners from keeping themselves clean during the coronavirus outbreak, opposition parties have said.

Changes to the rules around prisoners and young offenders mean they are entitled to showers at least “twice a week” as opposed to the current rules allowing showers at least once every other day.

Books and newspapers could also be restricted during the Covid-19 outbreak, as well as other activities, recreation and counselling.

MSPs were notified of the new rules on Tuesday.

Scottish Labour said prisoners must be treated with dignity during the pandemic.

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The party’s justice spokesman James Kelly said: “The World Health Organisation has made clear that prisons must ensure that the human rights of those in their custody are protected when implementing measures to deal with coronavirus, and that they should not be cut off from the outside world and retain access to information and healthcare.

“These new powers raise concerns that this may not be the case on the Scottish prison estate.”

Scottish Liberal Democrat justice spokesman Liam McArthur MSP added: “It’s hard to see how preventing prisoners from showering will help slow the spread of this virus.

“Prisons face particular difficulties in terms of containing and responding to the virus, while healthcare provision that was already under stress becomes even more so in the context of over-crowding and self-isolation.

“In the midst of this crisis, prisoners still deserve to be treated with compassion and dignity.”

5.20pm: Government unveils £750m support package for charities

Charities struggling during the coronavirus pandemic will be given a £750m bailout to keep them afloat, the Chancellor has announced.

Rishi Sunak said charities, including those supporting domestic abuse victims and hospices, will receive cash grants to ensure they can meet increased demand as a result of the virus.

Some £360m direct from Government departments will go to charities providing key services, while smaller charities will benefit from £370m, including through a grant to the National Lottery Community Fund.

The Government has also pledged to match the public’s donations to the National Emergencies Trust, guaranteeing a minimum of £20m.

It will also match fund whatever the public decides to donate to the BBC’s Big Night In charity appeal on April 23.

5.15pm: Prime Minister remains in intensive care

Prime Minister Boris Johnson remains in intensive care.

At the UK Government’s daily briefing on Wednesday, Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, said he was “sitting up in bed” and was engaging positively with NHS staff at St Thomas’ Hospital in London.

Johnson was taken into intensive care on Monday, a day after going into hospital for treatment to coronavirus.

An official spokesman earlier said he was receiving “standard oxygen treatment” and was “breathing without any other assistance”.

5.10pm: More than 7000 deaths across the UK

A total of 7097 patients have died in hospital after testing positive for coronavirus in the UK as of 5pm on Tuesday, the Department of Health said, up by 938 from 6159 the day before.

The Department of Health said, as of 9am on Wednesday, 232,708 people have been tested of which 60,733 tested positive.

Overall, 282,074 tests have concluded, with 14,682 tests on Tuesday.

The overall test figure excludes data from Northern Ireland and test data from Charing Cross and Southampton has not been included because of a processing delay, the department added.

5.04pm: FM warns ending lockdown early would be ‘monumental mistake’

Nicola Sturgeon has warned it would be a “monumental mistake” to ease the coronavirus lockdown measures too early and said parents should not expect schools to reopen any time soon.

The First Minister said “prematurely” lifting current restrictions on social distancing and school closures risked undermining efforts to contain the disease and told the public: “We are in this for some time yet.”

Speaking at the daily press briefing in Edinburgh, Ms Sturgeon said: “Obviously we will seek to get back to normal as quickly as possible, but it would be a really monumental mistake for us to lift these measures prematurely because all the hard work people are doing right now would be jeopardised if this virus just got out of control again.

“We will continue to be open with people as our understanding and our decision-making around these things continues to develop, but I will repeat the message today: we are in this for some time yet to come, people have to be prepared to stick with this in order for it to have the impact we want it to have.”

She said she hoped not to have to introduce stricter measures, such as closing public parks, and added that the more people who comply with the guidance, “the quicker we will get to point where we can be starting to lift this”.

On the issue of school closures, Ms Sturgeon acknowledged that many parents and children were eager to return but she said there were no plans to reopen schools after Easter.

4.50pm: 3D printers used to help create protective masks

Staff at Culture Perth and Kinross Libraries have used 3D printers to produce components that will be used to create protective masks for NHS workers.

The printers – bought as part of Leader-funded project Digital Maker_Spaces – were used to make headframes and stiffeners.

Printers: The completed masks will be given to NHS staff.

Working with Men’s Sheds and other partners across the region, these items will have a laminated shield and elastic headband added to them, creating protective masks.

The final product will then be given to the NHS Tayside Testing Centre.

Coronavirus: The 3D printers were used to create headframes and stiffeners.

Jackie Brierton, chair of Rural Perth & Kinross Leader Local Action Group, said: “This is a great repurposing of resources to help combat the coronavirus crisis. 

“We’re delighted that the Leader programme, which is made up of EU and Scottish Government monies, can support Culture Perth and Kinross’ innovative project.  

“The Leader team was able to help the project align the remainder of its funding contribution to respond to the call for help.”

4.32pm: Scottish Parliament explores remote working for MSPs

The Scottish Parliament is exploring remote working in response to the coronavirus outbreak, which could involve party leaders questioning the First Minister virtually on Thursday.

In a letter to MSPs on Wednesday, Presiding Officer Ken Macintosh said the parliamentary bureau – a group of MSPs which decides the business of the parliament – is currently hoping to hold a session similar to First Minister’s Questions.

Testing was due to be undertaken by officials on Wednesday to assess how the process would work.

The Presiding Officer wrote: “Like other legislatures, colleagues here have been very busy in recent weeks examining and testing a range of options for virtual working and I am pleased to say that the progress they are making is very encouraging indeed.

“In the first instance, the Parliamentary Bureau is exploring holding a leaders’ virtual question time where party leaders can question the First Minister.”

If the first session on Thursday worked, the Presiding Officer said there would be scope to allow questions to come from all MSPs in the following weeks.

3.30pm: Emergency funds offered to students during coronavirus outbreak

Richard Lochhead says extra funding for students is being put in place


A £5m package of emergency financial support is being put in place to help students facing hardship as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

Extra cash will be available to any university and college students now struggling as a result of COVID-19, including those attending private institutions.

University and college students will be able to apply for any emergency discretionary payments directly to their own institutions.

Further and Higher Education Minister Richard Lochhead said: “We are ensuring students studying in Scotland should have access to emergency support should they be facing financial hardship as a result of COVID-19 or the social distancing and isolation measures that have been introduced.

“All bursaries, grants and loans are continuing to be paid as planned but the current unprecedented situation has resulted in increased hardship.

“That is why we are making extra funding immediately available for students most in need, to help alleviate concerns around accommodation costs, mental health issues, general living costs and wellbeing.

“Institutions will be provided with specific guidance on the discretionary funding related to COVID-19, to explain all relevant details while students can access the latest information on COVID-19 on the Student Information Scotland website.”

3.15pm: Lib Dems say PPE is an “absolute basic”

Following an open letter send to the government expressing serious concerns about supplies of PPE equipment to frontline workers and the quality of that being received which was signed by over 100 medics in Scotland, Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP has issued a statement.

“We are now weeks into this crisis. It’s outrageous that our health professionals are being sent out on the frontline without the protection they need. These supplies are an absolute basic,” he said.

“Medics should not feel the need to turn to the media for their concerns to be listened to. This daily fight for adequate protective equipment is distressing and distracting at a time when it should be all hands on deck. 

“In both primary and community care we need to see high quality supplies getting to the people who need it right now.”

1.15pm: Prime Minister ‘clinically stable’ and responding to treatment.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson remains ‘clinically stable’ and is responding to treatment.

Downing street say he is in ‘good spirits’ in St Thomas’s hospital in London where he is in intensive care.

Johnson’s official spokesman said: “The Prime Minister remains clinically stable and is responding to treatment.

“He continues to be cared for in the intensive care unit at St Thomas’s Hospital. He’s in good spirits.”


The PM continues to receive “standard oxygen treatment” and is “breathing without any other assistance”, he said.

Downing Street confirmed the PM is not working while in intensive care and thanked the public for messages of support.

Asked if anyone has been in contact, the spokesman said: “The PM is not working, he’s in intensive care, he has the ability to contact those that he needs to, he’s following the advice of his doctors at all times.

“We are hugely grateful for the messages of support that the Prime Minister has received.

“I think the public response to coronavirus throughout has been fantastic and that has been best exemplified by the applause they’ve been giving to NHS staff every week.”

12.58pm: Death toll from coronavirus rises by 70 to 366

The death toll from coronavirus in Scotland has risen by 70 overnight to 366, with more than 4500 confirmed cases, Nicola Sturgeon has said.

Total confirmed cases are up by 336 to 4565, while there are 210 patients with Covid-19 in intensive care and 1711 in hospital overall.

It comes as the National Records of Scotland (NRS) published new weekly figures providing more detail on coronavirus-linked deaths.

Speaking at a Scottish Government press briefing on Wednesday, the First Minister confirmed the numbers.

11.51am: Scottish Government responds to ‘grave concerns’ of medics over PPE

The Scottish Government has said that the protection of frontline healthcare workers is the ‘highest priority’ after medics raised ‘grave concerns’ over the issue.

Over 100 medics signed an open letter questioning if protective equipment provided to them was adequate for the job hand.

In response a government spokesperson said: “We attach the highest priority to the protection of our frontline social care and healthcare workers, and the detailed clinical guidance issued last week was jointly prepared by senior expert clinicians across the UK, was jointly agreed by Scotland’s Chief Medical and Nursing officers and contains specific detail about what PPE should be worn, by which staff and when.

“As the Health Secretary announced last week, we have introduced four direct supply lines for PPE, a streamlined ordering system for all staff who need PPE and a new dedicated email address for any health or social care worker who has any concerns about PPE supply to make contact with us immediately. Where we are alerted to any local issue about PPE availability, we act immediately to address these.

“We are clear that appropriate eyewear protection must be provided in accordance with UK four nation guidance. We have adequate supplies of PPE in place and our new supply line measures are ensuring that the right equipment reaches the right locations with the highest possible urgency.

“The Health Secretary had discussions with Andrew Buist and Lewis Morrison of the BMA, last week, on key issues including PPE and will continue to engage with them both regularly during this time.”

11.16am: Glasgow Warriors star returns to NHS as a physio to help fight against covid-19.

Rugby star Petrus de Plessis has announced he will return to the NHS as a physio.

The Glasgow Warriors player-coach, who has been at the club since 2018, made the announcement on Twitter.

The 38-year-old South African has registered as a respiratory physiotherapist in a bid to help the fight against covid-19.

He said: “I’ve registered to go back to the NHS as a respiratory physiotherapist. I strongly believe it’s important to have all hands on deck to overcome this virus!”

10.16am: Pub’s tribute to health workers

Grace’s Bar in the Merchant City area of Glasgow has paid a striking tribute to NHS workers.

The venue, known as a Celtic pub, is closed during lockdown and wanted to brighten its boarded-up windows.

Bar owner Paul Kelly said: “We felt the need to board up the windows as a precaution for extra safety and security and it suddenly hit us that everything we have worked for as a team and a community was in ruins.  

“We could have advertised our venue but that wasn’t right either when there are people out there fighting for their lives and others on the frontline battling this virus.

How the boarded-up windows of Grace’s bar look.

“We are a sports bar, mainly Celtic fans but we have many fans from other teams who visit regularly too and we’ll all really miss the place during this closure.

“However the message is still the same, we want to help remind everyone to stay at home.  It is Easter weekend which is meant to be a holiday, a time of joy and it would be easy to forget our commitments to stay safe, so we wrote this message as a reminder that it is more important than ever to stay home and help in this fight. We are all in this together.”

9.50am: Half of those diagnosed with covid-19 in Forth Valley ‘fully recovered and back home’

Around half of the 243 people who have had a confirmed coronavirus diagnosis in Forth Valley are already fully recovered and back home.

Dr Graham Foster, Forth Valley’s director of public health, said it was important to get the message out that people had been discharged when it was safe to do so.

As the Scottish and UK death tolls rise, and the Prime Minister himself in intensive care, more and more people are facing up to just how deadly covid-19 can be.

And some have been nervous about those who have had the illness returning to their communities.

But Dr Foster said: “We want to be reassuring that these people are not a big infection risk and they don’t need to be treated any differently.

“They will obviously do the self-isolation that everyone else is doing and obey the same rules as everyone else but people don’t need to worry about them.

“People need to get used to the idea that the normal path of covid is that you become unwell for a period of time, usually seven days, and then you are safe after that to be discharged.”

9.27am: Emergency £500 grant available to those impacted by coronavirus

People in financial crisis caused by the ongoing covid-19 pandemic can now receive immediate help in the form of a cash grant.

The initiative comes thanks to the launch of an emergency coronavirus grant fund by national poverty charity, Turn2us.

A one-off crisis grant of £500 will be approved and paid within just three working days of an application, as long as they meet the grant fund’s eligibility criteria.

The grant will not need to be paid back and is intended to be a financial lifeline in a time of crisis.

One million people came to Turn2us for help in the last three weeks alone, representing a 520% increase, and 1800% increase amongst the self-employed.

8.50am: ‘Video visiting’ launched for Western Isles hospitals

A new ‘video visiting’ service is to be launched in the Western Isles on Wednesday, which will enable hospital inpatients and their friends and family to keep in touch via a video link.

In a statement, NHS Western Isles said that since the closure of local hospitals to visitors as a measure to control the spread of Coronavirus, staff had been working on a new system enabling video connections for hospital patients.

The service will initially be available for calls seven days a week between 2pm and 4pm to patients in Western Isles Hospital in Stornoway, with a roll-out of the scheme to all Western Isles hospital sites over the next two weeks currently being considered. Calls will be ten minutes in duration. 

8.46am: Entrepreneur gives £100,000 to fund free meals

Scots entrepreneur Marie Macklin has donated £100,000 to help people in need during the coronavirus outbreak.

She has launched a community fund called Lift Up Your Hearts, which aims to deliver 20,000 free meals.

The project has teamed up with charity Centrestage and company Braehead Foods to prepare and deliver free meals to homes in Kilmarnock and across East Ayrshire.

Marie, who founded the HALO urban regeneration company, said: “It is a very proud day for not just me but everyone at the HALO to see so many people come together to support the Lift Up Your Hearts campaign which we hope will help local communities that need it the most during these unprecedented times.

“I’d like to thank the team at Braehead Foods and everyone at Centrestage for their support and dedication to making the first deliveries of these 20,000 meals happen so quickly.

“I am confident that together we will help as many people as possible get through these difficult times.”

8.32am: Scottish football clubs set for crunch coronavirus talks

Scottish clubs will hold further talks with league officials on Wednesday in a bid to secure more clarity on the fate of the current season.

A number of clubs have already called on the Scottish Professional Football League to declare the standings as they are.

But Hearts have threatened legal action if they are relegated with eight games left and Rangers vowed to challenge any attempt to declare Celtic champions.

8.20am: Medics raise ‘grave concerns’ over protection equipment in open letter to Scottish Government

More than 100 medical professionals have signed an open letter to the Scottish Government raising “grave concerns” over personal protective equipment.

The open letter states that the virus has caused “upheaval” and lives have been “turned upside down” with people suffering from “fear and anxiety”.

It goes on to say that many working for the health service have concerns about the adequacy of the protective equipment needed in the “frontline battle” against an “invisible enemy”.

The medics wrote: “Health care workers are falling ill and dying due to covid-19. We believe it is vital that essential workers are given adequate PPE at the very least, to protect themselves and in-turn their patients from this new virus.”

7.50am: UK coronavirus strategy questioned

Questions have been asked over the UK’s covid-19 strategy in the absence of the Prime Minister who remains in intensive care with the virus.

Concerns were raised over when the lockdown measures will be reviewed – and leading officials have admitted the UK has “a lot to learn” from Germany’s expansive testing scheme.

Earlier, foreign secretary Dominic Raab, who is deputising in Boris Johnson’s absence, suggested the review of the lockdown announced by the PM when he set out the restrictions would not go ahead on Monday as scheduled.

7.35am: Prime Minister spends second night in intensive care

Boris Johnson spent second night in intensive care.

Boris Johnson has spent a second night in intensive care being treated for Covid-19.

Downing Street said the PM’s condition remained “stable” on Tuesday night as they confirmed he would be staying in St Thomas’s hospital for “close monitoring”.

The 55-year-old is said to be in “good spirits”.

7.05am: Report warns that GDP could shrink by 25% if lockdown continues

The Scottish economy could contract by up to a quarter if the current lockdown restrictions continue for a three-month period, according to the Fraser of Allander Institute.

The report from the economic research institute at Strathclyde University found there is likely to be “a long road to recovery” from the “unprecedented” impact on GDP from the coronavirus pandemic.

The estimates are predicted on a three month period of restrictions and are not an “exact prediction for growth” in Q2 of 2020, but “simply an illustration of the scale of the shock” to the economy.

The report adds that “it might be many months or even years before we actually know the full extent of the effect of the shut down on the Scottish economy”.

7am: Jobs market sees greatest drop in permanent starts since global crash

Permanent job appointments across Scotland in March fell at the fastest rate since the global financial crash, according to a study.

The latest Royal Bank of Scotland figures show the country saw the steepest decline last month in these job starts since April 2009, with a drop of 10.7 points from the “no change” base rate of 50.

Permanent job placements in April 2009 had a rating of 33.6, some 16.4 points below the 50 standard.

Temporary billings also fell 19.3 points – the steepest rate on record – as the Scottish jobs market was hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

‘Difficult’ night for police as 28 arrested at Rangers party

Thousands of supporters gathered at George Square in Glasgow on Sunday.

Craig Foy - SNS Group via SNS Group

Police arrested 28 people as Rangers fans gathered in their thousands to celebrate the club winning the Premiership.

Glasgow’s police chief said officers were faced with “a very difficult set of circumstances” as they tried to control the crowds on Sunday.

Football fans flocked to George Square in breach of coronavirus restrictions and could be seen singing, drinking and letting off fireworks.

The scenes were condemned by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who said the fans were putting the planned loosening of lockdown restrictions at risk.

Memorial benches were destroyed on Sunday night (STV News)
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Police officers were assaulted while members of the public were arrested for using pyrotechnics and sectarian-related breaches of the peace.

A number of people were injured throughout the day, some as the result of drunkenness. Seven fixed penalty notices were handed out.

Memorial benches in George Square were destroyed and litter was strewn across the area.

A clean-up crew were on the scene on Monday morning, with smashed glass and discarded alcohol containers gathered up.

A memorial bench is taken away by Glasgow City Council staff (STV News)
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In a statement, the club said it had “proactively engaged” with Police Scotland and the government regarding public safety on the lead-up to Sunday.

Chief Superintendent Mark Sutherland, divisional commander for Greater Glasgow Division, said: “A pre-planned policing operation was instigated after Rangers FC were confirmed as league champions.

“Despite the coronavirus regulations and the prohibition of gatherings, our officers were faced with a very difficult set of circumstances as many thousands of supporters gathered to celebrate across a number of different venues.”

He added: “An appropriate policing response was in place throughout the day and officers continually engaged and encouraged compliance with coronavirus regulations.

Craig Foy via SNS Group
Rangers fans gathered in George Square after being crowned champions.

“Over the course of the day a number of minor injuries were sustained by members of the public, some of which were as a result of intoxication.”

The First Minister branded fans who broke lockdown rules as “disgraceful”.

Sturgeon congratulated Rangers on the win, but warned that supporters gathering in crowds could “delay exit from lockdown for everyone else”.

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She tweeted: “I share folks’ anger at this. Everyone has made so many sacrifices in the past year and seeing a minority risk our progress is infuriating and disgraceful.

“It is deeply unfair to the entire country, and the police have a hard enough job already.”

She added: “Please ask fans to go home Rangers FC.”

In a statement the club said: “During the last number of weeks, Rangers can confirm that we initiated open dialogue with key stakeholders in relation to the possibility of us achieving a historic 55th league title.

“We have proactively engaged with our local MP, the Justice Minister, the Scottish Government, Police Scotland and the SPFL in relation to maintaining a cohesive message regarding public safety during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We understand the jubilance of our support across the world who recognise this has been a historic year for the club.

“Nevertheless, it has been of great frustration for all football fans across the world that they have not been able to watch their team within stadiums, especially for the loyal Rangers season-ticket holders who have stood by this football club through thick and thin in the last decade.

“We reiterate the message from our manager, Steven Gerrard, who highlighted that fans should adhere to government guidelines – stay safe, socially distance and look after each other in this difficult time.

“We are aware there is the possibility of more, significant milestones within this season, and we will continue to proactively engage with key stakeholders to maintain a cohesive message in relation to government guidance at this present time.

“We look forward to further open dialogue with the government, police, SPFL and other key stakeholders.”

Greens and government reach deal to pass Scottish Budget

Concessionary travel scheme extended and pay rise for public sector workers.

handout via Getty Images / Andrew Mckenna / EyeEm via Getty Images
Kate Forbes' Budget will pass into law after Green Party signalled support.

The Scottish Greens will ensure the Scottish Budget is passed after reaching a deal with the Scottish Government.

Finance secretary Kate Forbes announced the deal while giving evidence to the Finance and Constitution Committee on Monday.

Forbes has agreed to extend the forthcoming concessionary travel scheme to all young people under 22 years old, pay rises for public sector workers and pandemic relief payments of £130 to those on low incomes.

All primary school pupils in Scotland will be able to claim free school meals during term time, under the new plans, and £40m will be invested in active travel, energy efficiency and other environmental efforts.

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Forbes said: “I’ll be able to say more at stage three but I wanted to take the opportunity to update the committee transparently on this recent development.”

Talks are also continuing with the Scottish Liberal Democrats ahead of the final vote on the Budget on Tuesday.

The draft budget for 2021-22 was unveiled in January and promised record funding of £16bn for the NHS in Scotland and money for local authorities to freeze council tax.

But with the Scottish Government not having a majority in Holyrood, SNP ministers need to win the support of at least one other party for the Budget to pass.

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The new initiatives included in the Budget include:

  • Pandemic Support Payments of £130 to households receiving council tax reduction and two payments of £100 to families of children qualifying for free school meals
  • Phased introduction of free school meals to all primary school children by August 2022
  • An £800 pay rise for public sector workers earning up to £25,000, and a 2% increase for those earning over £25,000 up to £40,000.
  • Extending free bus travel to under 22s
  • £40m to support the green recovery, including a further £15m for active travel, £10m for energy efficiency, £10m for biodiversity and £5m for agri-environmental measures

Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie said he was “delighted” the “constructive approach” of his party had yielded concessions from the Scottish Government.

He said: “This year’s budget cements the impact the Scottish Greens have had on Scotland’s priorities over the last five years.

“From fairer taxes to local services, we’ve shown every year that Green MSPs will get things done to build a fairer and greener Scotland.”

He added: “We’ve also been clear that school meals can be a vital tool in tackling child poverty. Marcus Rashford has brought the campaign for meals during the school holidays to the forefront, and I’m proud that Green MSPs have won that in Scotland, and universal free school meals for all primary kids by next summer.

“Concessionary bus travel for young people is a game changer, opening up opportunities for families and young people, and promoting public transport use for a whole generation.

“And after the insult of a public sector pay freeze from the UK Budget, I’m proud that the Greens have secured an uplift for the workers who have been and still are on the front line of our efforts to tackle this public health crisis. We will continue to back further progress, for example in the imminent NHS Scotland pay review.”

Meghan Markle: ‘I just didn’t want to be alive anymore’

Harry and Meghan open up about loneliness, fear and being ignored by family in Oprah interview.

Joe Pugliese via Harpo Productions
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex during their interview with Oprah Winfrey.

The Duchess of Sussex has told of how she felt suicidal during her time living with the Royal Family.

In an interview with Oprah Winfrey, due to be broadcast on STV on Monday at 9pm, Meghan said there were times that she “just didn’t want to be alive anymore”.

The Duchess also told of how a member of Harry’s family raised concerns about “how dark” their son Archie’s skin might be before his birth.

She also spoke of her battle with loneliness and worries that Archie would be vulnerable if he was denied a title – leaving him without protection.

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Ms Winfrey asked Meghan if she had been thinking of harming herself, the Duchess responded: “Yes. This was very, very clear.

“And that was a very clear and real and frightening constant thought. And I remember, I remember how he just cradled me and I was… I went to the institution, and I said that I needed to go somewhere to get help.

“I said that I’ve never felt this way before and I need to go somewhere. And I was told that I couldn’t, that it wouldn’t be good for the institution.”

The Duke of Sussex joined his wife in the interview, broadcast in the US overnight on Sunday.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex during their interview with Oprah Winfrey which was broadcast in the US on March 7 (Harpo Productions)
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Ms Winfrey asked Harry about a conversation Meghan had described in which Archie’s skin colour was brought up.

He said: “That conversion, I am never going to share. At the time it was awkward, I was a bit shocked.”

Harry also said Prince Charles “stopped taking my calls” during the build-up to the couple’s departure from the family.

Asked if they had “blindsided” the Queen with their announcement they were leaving, Harry said: “No, I would never blindside my grandmother, I have too much respect for her.”

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Meghan and Harry with William, Kate and the Queen (Getty Images)

He told Ms Winfrey he had three conversation with his grandmother and two with Charles before he stopped taking his calls.

The Duke said he is prioritising the relationship with his father who is now taking his calls.

Meghan said that reports she had made the Duchess of Cambridge cry were untrue and that it was, in fact, Kate who reduced her to tears.

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She claimed Kate apologised with flowers and a note, but that it was not a “confrontation” and it would be unfair to go into detail.

Oprah with Meghan and Harry will be aired at 9pm on Monday, March 8 at 9pm.

If you or someone you know needs help, Samaritans operates a 24-hour service available every day of the year, by calling 116 123. Or, if you prefer to write down how you’re feeling, or if you’re worried about being overheard on the phone, you can email Samaritans at jo@samaritans.org

Four men in hospital after incident near football ground

A teenager and three others are in a "stable" condition after they were found injured in Glasgow.

Police Scotland
Police and the ambulance service responded to the scene on Old Shettleston Road.

Four men were taken to hospital after they were found injured following an incident near a football ground in Glasgow.

Police and the ambulance service responded to the scene on Old Shettleston Road, near Chester Street, in the east of the city on Sunday.

At around 6.45am, three men, aged 21, 17 and 25, were found injured on the street and were taken to hospital.

Police investigated the disturbance near Shettleston Juniors FC grounds and a fourth man, aged 21, was found injured inside a flat on Old Shettleston Road.

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All four are described by medical staff as in a “stable” condition.

A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “Around 6.45am on Sunday, March 7, three men, aged 21, 17 and 35 years were found injured on Old Shettleston Road, near to Chester Street, Shettleston, Glasgow.

“Following enquiries, a fourth man, aged 21, was found injured with in a flat in Old Shettleston Road.

“All injured have been taken to local hospitals where medical staff describe their condition as stable.

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“Enquiries are ongoing to establish the circumstances surrounding the incident.”


Construction of new swing bridge over River Clyde set to begin

A twin-leaf swing bridge that will connect Renfrew and Yoker in West Dunbartonshire forms the centrepiece of the project.

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Artist's impression of the new opening road bridge over the River Clyde.

Construction of the first opening road bridge over the River Clyde is to begin in the coming weeks.

Renfrewshire Council’s finance board agreed to award the £79.5m Clyde Waterfront and Renfrew Riverside contract to civil engineering experts Graham during a meeting on Friday.

A twin-leaf swing bridge that will connect Renfrew and Yoker in West Dunbartonshire forms the centrepiece of the project.

Works on the structure are scheduled to start in spring and will take three years to complete.

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Graham has previously worked on the iconic Samuel Beckett Bridge in Dublin and the Carpenters Land Bridge in Stratford, London.

The firm said it would create more than 100 community benefits including jobs, apprenticeships, and community volunteering activities.

Other parts of the project include riverside walking and cycling routes and a new road through Renfrew connecting the bridge to the Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District Scotland being developed by Renfrewshire Council in collaboration with the Scottish Government and Scottish Enterprise.

Leo Martin, managing director for Graham’s civil engineering division, said: “The new bridge will provide a gateway to the area’s fast-growing manufacturing innovation district and help better connect communities with significant employment and development opportunities.”

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The project is jointly funded by the UK and Scottish governments through the £1.13bn Glasgow City Region City Deal.

It will support around 700 jobs during its construction and is set to generate hundreds of subcontract and supplier opportunities.

Economic estimates in the final business case found the scheme could also lead to 1400 permanent posts and 950 temporary construction roles from the resultant £230m in private sector investment expected to be attracted to development sites on both sides of the Clyde over the coming years.

Renfrewshire Council leader Iain Nicolson added: “We are delighted to have approved the awarding of this contract and look forward to working with Graham and its project partners on what is a hugely significant project for Renfrewshire, the Glasgow City Region, and Scotland.

“We are excited by its potential in creating a vibrant attractive waterfront and connecting communities to their work, to hospitals, and to education.”

Further City Deal funding is supporting the council as it converts a 52-hectare site next to Glasgow Airport into a research and development centre for advanced manufacturing.

Construction of the underpinning infrastructure is scheduled for completion this year and plans are progressing for a specialist carbon-reducing district heating network, campus square, and riverside green spaces.

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Story by local democracy reporter Stephanie Brawn

Investigation launched after body found near army barracks

The man's body was discovered on the B9011 between Findhorn and Kinloss.

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Investigation: Body found near army barracks.

A man’s body has been discovered near army barracks in Moray. 

The body was found by Kinloss Barracks on the B9011 between Findhorn and Kinloss.

Police said the death of the man is being treated as “unexplained” and enquiries into the discovery are ongoing.

A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “Police Scotland can confirm that the body of a man has been discovered by Kinloss Barracks on the B9011 between Findhorn and Kinloss.

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“The death is currently being treated as unexplained and enquiries into the matter are at an early stage.”


Anti-racist professor wants to educate not ‘tear down statues’

Campaigner rejects report that leaked list of monuments could be torn down.

© Google Maps 2020 / One Scotland via Scottish Government
The Melville Monument should remain in its context, said Sir Geoff Palmer OBE.

A leading anti-racist campaigner has hit back after several commentators accused him of wanting to ‘tear down’ statues and ‘defile’ Adam Smith’s grave.

Sir Geoff Palmer OBE, a professor emeritus in the School of Life Sciences at Heriot-Watt University, has been appointed by Edinburgh City Council to lead the Edinburgh Slavery and Colonialism Legacy Review Group.

The group will investigate the street names, monuments and buildings of the capital, and according to Sir Geoff, will provide educational resources to ‘provide people with information about their city’, rather than removing statues and changing place names.

Despite this, some commentators have heavily criticised Sir Geoff and the review group after a leaked draft list of places and monuments that could be subject to review was leaked to The Telegraph newspaper.

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Contrary to some reports, the list, which is a draft compilation of possible review subjects submitted by individual members of the group, is not an agreed list of placenames and monuments to investigate – that list is set to be agreed when the group meets on March 15.

The leaked document listed Adam Smith’s grave, in Canongate Kirkyard, as a possible contender for investigation, due to Smith’s apparent acceptance of slavery as ‘inevitable’ – although he was a fierce critic of the practice and frequently condemned it.

The inclusion of Adam Smith’s grave on the draft list has led to several conservative commentators heavily criticising Sir Geoff Palmer on social media.

The ‘Save Our Statues’ Twitter account, which regularly tweets about the Black Lives Matter movement, tweeted: “Adam Smith’s grave listed in Edinburgh City Council’s slavery review. Despite saying slavery was contemptuous.

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“With historically illiteracy and targeting of graves, Sir Geoff Palmer’s kangaroo court is showing up the lunacy of these reviews better than I ever could.”

Matt Kilcoyne, the deputy director of neoliberal think tank the Adam Smith Institute, accused Sir Geoff of trying to ‘wipe Adam Smith out of history’, writing: “I condemn in unequivocal terms the moves by some on Edinburgh Council to try and wipe Adam Smith out of history.

“His record on slavery is one of condemnation, he wrote the moral case against it and the economic case against it. Adam Smith’s record is readable and redoubtable.

“We’re proud to champion his legacy and the Adam Smith Institute today speaks out against forced labour — most recently we’ve highlighted the slave camps of Xinjiang. We will continue to do both.”

Mr Kilcoyne has also started collecting names in support of the full retention of Adam Smith’s grave and statue, despite Sir Geoff’s previously stating he does not wish to remove monuments, and has written a comment piece for The Spectator on the same subject.

Commentator Paul Staines, who runs the right wing politics website Guido Fawkes, also tweeted in the belief Smith’s statue was under threat, writing: “Of all the statues not to tear down, Adam Smith, who argued against the consensus of the time, that slavery was immoral, is surely the one.

“That he did not win the argument in his lifetime is no reason to defile his grave.”

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In response, Sir Geof Palmer has reiterated his belief that some commentators are misrepresenting what he’s trying to accomplish, saying: “I was one of the only people saying don’t tear our statues down, which is the irony of Twitter accounts like Save Our Statues attacking me.

“The council has appointed me knowing what my views are. My view is clear – and I’ve said it quite clearly – the next statue down in our country should be racism.

“If you remove the statue you remove the deed, and our statues are in the context of our history.

“So where Dundas is, it is in the context of St Andrew Square, it is in the history of St Andrew Square, it is linked to Dundas Road across the street.

“It is linked to Henry Brougham, the abolitionist, who lived in St Andrew Square.

“So if you start removing things from their context, then in 100 years time we will have forgotten this historical context.

“It’s also important because the reasons why Dundas’ statue was put there are important, and therefore we cannot remove history from its context.”

Sir Geoff also says his work on BAME history will help fight racism in the present: “What I would like to see is the Scottish people, with this remit, will understand their history better.

“They will come to understand the truth of the link between Edinburgh and it’s relationship with slavery. We’re going to do this by giving them the evidence.

“Street names for example – we know that Balcarres Street, named after Earl Balcarres, was Henry Dundas’ governor of Jamaica, and he owned slaves and enslaved them.

“We’re also going to look at the New Town, we’re going to look at the streets and roads in the New Town, and many of these streets are on the compensation list – the people who lived there got compensation for their slaves.

“We’re going to look at statues and monuments of people who are linked to slavery and colonialism. We’re going to provide people with information about their city.

“That information will not be prejudicial, it is not going to be there to denigrate, it is there to give the public information about their city and its links with slavery and colinialism.

“We will then have a document, which is evidence-based, that can be used for educational purposes in order to say to the public that when you look at a BAME person in our society, they have a right to be here.

“They were part of the British Empire, they worked and they died for it and therefore we are all now one Scotland.”

Story by local democracy reporter Joseph Anderson

Businesses ‘optimistic’ about year ahead despite pandemic

A financial report found firms were positive about the future despite the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

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Business: Optimism despite pandemic, report finds.

Businesses in Scotland are now more optimistic about the year ahead than they have been for almost a decade, a financial report has found.

The latest Royal Bank of Scotland purchasing managers’ index (PMI) found firms were positive about the future despite still suffering the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

The bank’s analysts noted improved confidence among private-sector firms, the highest recorded in its monthly reports since 2012.

Businesses said their optimism was boosted by hopes of a timely end to Covid-19 restrictions and a subsequent financial recovery.

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It came despite the Scottish economy remaining stuck in a downturn during February.

The RBS business activity index found a sixth straight monthly reduction in new business and a drop in private-sector employment for the 13th month in a row.

Businesses said coronavirus restrictions and temporary closures had led them to cut back on staffing, although they also mentioned the government furlough scheme.

Malcolm Buchanan, chairman of the Scotland board at Royal Bank of Scotland, said: “Lockdown measures continued to stifle the Scottish economy in February.

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“Both business activity and inflows of new work fell steeply again, although the rates of decline eased notably since January.

“Despite the challenging conditions, Scottish companies reported the strongest level of business confidence on record in February, with the lockdown road map prompting hopes of easing restrictions and a strong economic recovery in the coming year.”

The Royal Bank of Scotland PMI is compiled from responses to questionnaires sent to a panel of around 500 manufacturers and service providers.


Tractor driving and sheepdog training fund for women announced

The £115,000 package was announced by the rural economy secretary on International Women’s Day.

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Farming: Fund to support women announced.

Women are to be offered support to drive tractors, train sheepdogs and photograph livestock as part of agriculture funds announced by the Scottish Government on International Women’s Day.

Rural economy secretary Fergus Ewing revealed the £115,000 package for women in farming and crofting businesses.

It tops up previous money announced for women in the sector in December.

Training courses on offer through the funds include tractor and trailer driving, sheepdog training and education in the use of antibiotics in livestock.

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Applications for the funds have also come from women seeking to diversify their agricultural business into new areas, such as livestock photography.

Ewing said: “It’s fitting the new funding of £115,000 is announced on International Women’s Day as we seek to empower women living and working in Scottish agriculture with increased business skills, knowledge and confidence.

“These training funds have already proved enormously popular and we look forward to investing still further in future female successes.

“In supporting women in this way, we are increasing equality of opportunity and gender balance in Scottish agriculture and creating a more resilient agricultural industry.

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“The benefits to the rural economy and way of life for women living and working in agriculture will be significant in terms of accessing increased training funding.”

The fund is administered by Lantra Scotland and is now accepting applications from woman resident in Scotland who are living, working or studying in agriculture.


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