RAF Typhoons scramble to intercept Russian aircraft

Fighter jets from RAF Lossiemouth tracked the aircraft across the North Sea.

The Typhoons at Lossiemouth were sent to intercept the Russian aircraft. RAF via PA Wire
The Typhoons at Lossiemouth were sent to intercept the Russian aircraft.

Live-armed Typhoons were scrambled from the RAF Lossiemouth base on Monday morning to intercept two Russian Tu-142 Bear-F aircraft as they approached UK borders.

The aircraft were first detected by Nato and monitored and intercepted by Norwegian Quick Reaction Alert (QRA).

The interception was handed over to the RAF, who then scrambled out of the Lossiemouth base near Moray.

RAF Typhoons tracked the aircraft across the North Sea, supported by Voyager Air-to-Air Refuelling from RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire.

The Russian Bear Aircraft was intercepted by Nato (RAF/PA)
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One of the Royal Air Force QRA pilots involved in Monday’s mission said: “Crews here in Scotland are on standby 24/7 to scramble against any potential threats to the UK.

“On this occasion we were informed by our Nato colleagues of two suspected Russian aircraft approaching our area of interest.

“We were scrambled and intercepted two Russian Tu-142 Bear-F operating near the UK, remaining on task to dissuade them from operating in the area.

“We are committed to maintaining the integrity of UK and Nato airspace, every minute of every day.”

Some homes ‘without power for a week’ after Storm Arwen

Engineers have been working to restore power.

SSEN via PA Media

Some homes left without power following the “catastrophic damage” caused by Storm Arwen last week may not be reconnected until Friday, an electricity company has said.

Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) has reconnected more than 120,000 customers since Friday’s storm, but 6500 remained without power on Wednesday.

Graeme Keddie, of SSEN, said the main villages have been reconnected but that for “localised faults” power is not expected to be restored until Friday.

He apologised to any customers affected and said the company is doing all it can to restore power “as quickly as possible”.

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Mr Keddie said the storm had caused “devastation on parts of the network”, particularly in Aberdeenshire, where 4000 customers remain without power.

He told BBC Good Morning Scotland: “It’s a dynamic situation, we’ve got a better picture than we had yesterday and the day before.

“We’ve got all of the main villages connected; it’s now looking at the rural areas. We’re confident that we have a handle on the situation in terms of what we can restore in the next couple of days.

“We’re looking to make really good progress today and tomorrow and we expect it will be the last final few homes on Friday, and we want to be clear those are our expectations.”

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He added: “For those localised faults, those faults that are serving a home or a group of homes, we are looking into Friday for restoration.”

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

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

SSEN managing director Chris Burchell said: “The impact of Storm Arwen has caused catastrophic damage to the electricity network across the north-east of Scotland and is the most significant event we have ever had to deal with in the area in a generation.

“I would like to thank our customers who have shown great resilience, patience and understanding since the impact of Storm Arwen, and we fully recognise that urgency of the situation for those who continue to remain off supply.

“I would like to personally apologise to all customers who have been impacted and would like to reassure everyone still off supply that our teams are working extremely hard to reconnect them as soon as possible.”


Support for Scottish independence rises to 55% – STV poll

2014 referendum results could be reversed if another was held now, according to the Ipsos MORI poll.

Jeff J Mitchell / Staff via Getty Images

Support for Scottish independence has risen to its highest level for a year, according to a new poll for STV News.

Backing for ‘Yes’ is now at 55% – up five points compared to the last Ipsos MORI poll just before the Holyrood election in May.

Excluding undecideds, it suggests the result of the 2014 referendum could be reversed if another was held now, and comes just days after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon called for indyref2 by the end of 2023.

Meanwhile, approval ratings for Prime Minister Boris Johnson have hit a record low in Scotland, where four in five said they were ‘dissatisfied’ with his performance.

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Sturgeon remains the highest-rated party leader, but while Scots are overwhelmingly positive about the Scottish Government’s handling of the Covid vaccine rollout, they are less pleased with its performance in health and education.

What did the poll tell us?

Independence

STV News

Party leaders

STV News

Scottish Government performance

  • Vaccine rollout: 84% believe the Scottish Government has done a good job
  • Health: 48% say the government has done a bad job of improving the NHS; 40% think it has done a good job
  • Education: Bad job – 46%; Good job – 35%
  • Handling Brexit implications: Bad job – 43%; Good job – 37%

‘Far from over’

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Emily Gray, managing director of Ipsos MORI Scotland, said: “This latest poll from Ipsos MORI and STV News indicates that the argument for Scottish independence is far from over, with a slight improvement for the Yes side. 

“Given the margins of error around polling estimates, however, neither the Yes or No camps should be confident of victory at this point. 

“The Yes camp may be benefiting from what has been a very bad week for Boris Johnson and the Conservatives at Westminster, with fieldwork taking place after heated debate about MPs’ second jobs. 

“This is certainly reflected in Johnson’s own ratings, which have fallen to a new low.”

Ipsos MORI interviewed a representative sample of 1107 adults aged 16 and over across Scotland by phone between November 22-29.


Murder investigation launched after discovery of teenage girl’s body

Amber Gibson, 16, went missing in Hamilton on Friday night.

Police Scotland
Police Scotland can confirm that the body of a young female found near to Cadzow Glen, Hamilton, has been formally identified as 16-year-old Amber Gibson.

The death of a missing 16-year-old girl is being treated as murder after her body was discovered in a wooded area in South Lanarkshire.

Amber Gibson, also known as Amber Niven, disappeared in Hamilton shortly before 10pm on Friday.

She had last been seen on Cadzow Street, after leaving her home in the Hillhouse area around 9.15pm that night.

On Sunday morning, at around 10.10am, emergency services were alerted to a body near to Cadzow Glen.

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On Monday, Police Scotland confirmed the formal identification of the body and said the death was being treated as unexplained.

STV News
Amber Gibson: Cadzow Glen in Hamilton where murdered 16-year-old’s body was found.

But on Tuesday night, officers announced the launch of a murder investigation into the killing.

They have appealed to the public for help discovering what happened to Amber.

Detective superintendent Raymond Brown, from Police Scotland Major Investigations Team West, said: “Our thoughts very much remain with Amber’s loved ones and we will continue to support them through this terrible time.

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“Whilst our enquiries continue, we are asking for anyone with any information on what happened to Amber, or anyone who believes they saw her at any point of her movements between Friday and Sunday, to please come forward.”

Chief inspector Briony Daye, Local Area Commander, said: “I’d like to reassure the local community that this is believed to be an isolated incident and there is not any risk to other members of the public.

“There will continue to be an increased police presence in the area over the coming days and anyone with concerns can speak with local officers at any time.”

Anyone with information can call police on 101, quoting incident 1281 of November 28. Alternatively, you can contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111, to remain anonymous.

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Scottish rugby international Siobhan Cattigan dies aged 26

Scottish Rugby extended its sincere condolences to her family and friends.

Ross MacDonald/SNS Group via SNS Group
The Stirling County back row won 19 caps for Scotland between 2018 and 2021.

Scotland rugby international Siobhan Cattigan has died at the age of 26.

The Stirling County back row won 19 caps for Scotland between 2018 and 2021.

In a statement, Scottish Rugby said it was “deeply saddened” by the news, and extended sincere condolences to her family and friends.

They wrote: “The thoughts of all our people and players go out to Siobhan’s family and many teammates at Stirling County and Scotland at this incredibly difficult time.

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“Specialist Scottish Rugby employees are now providing on-going support to those most closely affected.”

Cattigan started all three matches of the 2021 Women’s Six Nations tournament, playing at number eight against England, Italy and Wales.

She was also involved with Scotland’s Rugby World Cup 2021 Europe Qualifiers squad, where she came off the bench in Scotland’s win over Spain.

Cattigan also studied Criminology and Sociology at the University of Stirling before going on to receive a Master’s degree in sports psychology.

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In a statement by Stirling County, Cattigan was praised as an inspiration and described as being central to the development of women’s rugby within the club.

“Shibby has been a big part of County for many years and will be hugely missed by everyone at the club,” they wrote.

“She was central to the development of women’s rugby within the club & an inspiration to the girls in the youth section.

Shibby was a teammate & friend & we deeply mourn her loss.  Our love,  thoughts & heartfelt condolences are with Shibby’s family at this devastating time. 

“We very much hope their privacy will be respected by everyone as they deal with their tragic loss.”


Scotland records 97 Covid-linked deaths in one week

A total of 12,127 people have died in Scotland with confirmed or suspected coronavirus since the start of the pandemic.

Andrew Milligan via PA Media
Covid: Just under 100 deaths in Scotland last week.

A total of 97 coronavirus-linked deaths were recorded in Scotland in the week to November 28, the latest statistics show.

This is an increase of one on the previous week and takes the total number of people in Scotland who have died with confirmed or suspected coronavirus to 12,127, according to National Records of Scotland (NRS) data.

Of the latest deaths, 18 were people aged under 65, 34 were aged 65-74 and 45 were 75 or older.

Fife was the council area with the highest number of deaths at 11, followed by Glasgow with ten and South Lanarkshire with eight.

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The majority of the deaths – 82 – occurred in hospital, with nine at home or in a non-institutional setting and six in care homes.

The statistics are published weekly and cover all deaths registered in Scotland where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.

They differ from the lab-confirmed coronavirus deaths announced daily by the Scottish Government because the NRS figures include suspected or probable cases of Covid-19.

Pete Whitehouse, NRS statistical services director, said: “The number of deaths from all causes registered in Scotland in this week was 1270, which is 140, or 12%, more than the five-year average.”

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Among the higher than average deaths in the week to November 28 were those from cancer and circulatory causes, which each accounted for 24 more than five-year-average.

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Douglas Ross to be investigated by Westminster’s standards watchdog

Last month, Ross said he had made a 'huge mistake', having failed to declare outside earnings.

UK Parliament via Parliament TV
The commissioner does not confirm what claims she is investigating once a probe has been declared.

An investigation has been launched by Westminster’s standards watchdog into Douglas Ross.

It comes after it emerged he failed to declare thousands of pounds in outside earnings while serving as an MP.

Last month, Ross said he was “deeply sorry” and admitted he had made a “huge mistake”, having also referred himself to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards Kathryn Stone.

The Herald newspaper reported that Ross had failed to declare £28,218.57 in outside earnings from his second job as an MSP and third job as a football referee.

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After he realised his mistake, Ross explained, he contacted the Office of the Register of Interests and made them aware of the situation.

He added that all payments had now been declared, including those from his MSP salary which are donated to charities.

Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg is also set to be investigated by the Commissioner.

Labour had previously demanded an investigation into a £6m loan they said the MP did not declare properly.

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The commissioner does not confirm what claims she is investigating once a probe has been declared.

According to the commissioner’s website, Rees-Mogg and Ross are both being investigated over “registration of an interest under category one of the Guide to the Rules (Employment and Earnings)”, and it refers to paragraph 14 of the Code of Conduct.

The relevant paragraph in the code states: “Members shall fulfil conscientiously the requirements of the House in respect of the registration of interests in the register of members’ financial interests.

“They shall always be open and frank in drawing attention to any relevant interest in any proceeding of the House or its committees, and in any communications with ministers, members, public officials or public office holders.”


All over-18s to be offered Covid booster jabs before February

Scottish Government confirms over-18s will be eligible for a third dose of Covid-19 vaccine three months after their second.

Yui Mok/PA via PA Media
Scottish Government says booster doses should be offered to all adults in Scotland before February.

All adults should be offered a coronavirus booster vaccination by the end of January, the Scottish Government has announced.

Scotland follows the rest of the UK in confirming that over-18s will be eligible for a third dose of a Covid-19 vaccine three months after their second.

The UK-wide Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has advised that a third dose will help increase adults’ protection levels following the emergence of the new Omicron variant.

A total of nine cases of Omicron have been discovered in Scotland – all linked to a single, private event on November 20 – although First Minister Nicola Sturgeon warned of the possibility of “many more” people being infected.

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Confirming the plan to follow the JCVI advice to offer boosters to all eligible over-18s, a Scottish Government spokesman said: “Scotland already has the highest vaccination rate of all UK nations for first, second and third doses. The winter vaccination programme has already delivered more than 1.6 million booster doses to the most vulnerable groups.

“We are aiming to offer the booster vaccine to everyone aged 18 or older who is eligible by the end of January, in line with the JCVI’s advice, and we will confirm our approach to deployment very soon.

“We will continue to do all that we can to make sure people in Scotland are offered the greatest possible protection from vaccination, as quickly as we can.”

According to the JCVI guidance, the booster doses should be given no sooner than three months after a person’s second dose of an original vaccine – halving the time previously recommended.

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Young people aged 12 to 15 should be offered a second dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine, no sooner than 12 weeks after their first dose.

Scots urged to use HIV home-testing kits on World AIDS Day

Almost 10,000 people have used the home-testing kits since they were launched last April.

4421010037 via IStock
World AIDS Day: Those who lost their lives are being remembered.

The First Minister has urged people to make use of home-testing kits for HIV on World AIDS Day.

Nicola Sturgeon said the Scottish Government had provided £120,000 to make the at-home testing kits available to anyone in Scotland.

Since the kits were launched in April last year, almost 10,000 people have made use of them, with 16 people testing positive.

Charity HIV Scotland said 2021 marks 40 years since the onset of the HIV pandemic and urged people to test, treat and eliminate the virus. 

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Sturgeon said: “On World AIDS Day we remember all those who have lost their lives to AIDS-related illness over the past 40 years.  

“Today is also an opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to eliminating HIV transmission in Scotland by 2030, and to reflect on the significant progress we have already made in the treatment and prevention of HIV. 

“In October, Scotland became the first country in the UK to authorise an injection to manage HIV, giving those with the condition a choice about the treatment that’s right for them.

Elaine Livingstone via HIV Scotland
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon with one of the home-testing kits.

“However, the more people who find out their HIV status and go onto treatment, the more HIV transmission can be prevented. 

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“That’s why the Scottish Government has provided £120,000 to make free home-test kits available for anyone in Scotland.”

HIV Scotland chief executive Alastair Hudson said “times have changed dramatically” for those with the virus, adding that “Scotland has led the way in innovation”.

Mr Hudson, who is HIV positive, said: “We were the first country in the UK to offer a daily course of antiretroviral drugs, pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) back in July 2017, which (can be) taken by HIV-negative people to protect themselves from infection.

“The Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) recently licensed Cabotegravir (Vocabria), in combination with rilpivirine – the first ever long-acting injectable treatment for HIV, an alternative to the current daily pill-base regimen, reducing treatment from tablets 365 days a year to only six injections a year. This is another great tool in our armoury, in our fight against HIV.”

Speaking about his own health, he said: “I take one pill a day and have my blood tested twice a year. I am in rude health.

“We are a far cry from the stigma and injustice so beautifully portrayed in It’s A Sin which captured the scale of the loss we experienced in the 80s.”


More than 850 jobs to be created at SSE distribution arm

Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks Distribution aims to boost investment in northern Scotland and central southern England by about a third.

Peter Byrne via PA Media
Investment: Jobs to be created at SSE distribution arm.

Energy giant SSE has unveiled plans to create more than 850 jobs in its distribution business as part of proposals to ramp up investment to £4bn and cut its carbon footprint.

Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) Distribution, which is owned by SSE, aims to boost its investment by around a third in the north of Scotland and central southern England for the next price control period between 2023 and 2028.

It said the extra investment will be delivered without increasing customer energy bills.

It comes as part of the wider SSE group’s aims to invest £12.5bn over the five years and accelerate its net-zero plans.

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The move will see SSE become the biggest constructor of offshore wind in the world and will increase the amount of renewable energy produced by four gigawatts (GW) over the period.

SSE will deliver a quarter of the UK’s 40GW offshore wind target by 2030 and more than a fifth of the UK’s electricity networks investment.

Under the SSEN business plan, which has been submitted to regulator Ofgem for approval, the division aims to cut its carbon footprint by 35%.

It also plans to facilitate the connection of 1.3 million electric vehicles and 800,000 heat pumps on its network.

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SSE chief executive Alistair Phillips-Davies said: “Collectively, SSE is investing nearly £7m each day, enabling over 20% of the upcoming UK electricity networks investment, the delivery of over 25% of the UK’s 40GW offshore wind target and so much more to help the UK and other governments decarbonise.

“With the UK committing to an accelerated net-zero timeline ahead of COP26, this is where the rubber hits the road and we see huge growth in our distribution business as it brings net zero to the front door.”

SSE has resisted calls from activist investor Elliott Investment Management for a break-up, instead focusing on its green spending drive funded by a dividend cut and asset sales.

It is set to sell a 25% stake in SSEN Distribution, as well as SSEN Transmission, likely to be early in 2023-24.


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