Rangers have submitted appeals to the Scottish FA over the bans imposed on five players who broke Covid-19 regulations.
First-team trio Bongani Zungu, Nathan Patterson and Calvin Bassey, plus academy youngsters Brian Kinnear and Dapo Mebude, who is on loan at Queen of the South, were all charged with flouting lockdown regulations in February.
An independent disciplinary panel handed down six game bans for each player, with four games to be served immediately and two matches suspended.
Rangers have now filed an appeal that will see a new panel convened to consider the case. No date for the hearing has been set yet.
Rangers accepted seven-game bans handed to attacker Jordan Jones and defender George Edmundson by the SFA for Covid-19 related breaches last year.
The pair attended a party after their side’s 1-0 Scottish Premiership win against Kilmarnock on November 1 and subsequently Jones and Edmundson moved on loan to Sunderland and Derby County respectively.
Rangers, who won their first Scottish Premiership title in ten years at the weekend, have five league fixtures remaining, along with the Scottish Cup.
A man has been given a life sentence for the murder of a Glasgow woman more than 36 years ago.
Graham McGill, 59, was found guilty at the High Court in Glasgow last month of killing Mary McLaughlin in her Partick flat in September 1984.
The mother-of-eleven’s body was found on October 2, 1984, six days after she was last seen.
The 58-year-old had been on a night out in the west end of the city and left a bar to go to a chip shop on the way home.
The jury heard she met McGill and they returned to Ms McLaughlin’s flat, where he attacked and strangled her with her own dressing gown cord.
Her body was found days later by one of her sons.
McGill was charged with murder in 2019 after a new investigation into the killing – under the direction of the Procurator Fiscal – matched his DNA to that found on items belonging to Ms McLaughlin.
Serial offender McGill was serving a prison sentence for another crime at the time of the killing but had been granted home leave in preparation for his release.
At the High Court in Aberdeen today, McGill was told he must serve a minimum of 14 years in prison.
Sentencing him, Judge Lord Burns said: “36 years after the death of Mary McLaughlin, you have been convicted of her murder. She was 58 when she died and you were 22. You are now 59.
“Her family has had to wait all that time in order to discover who was responsible for that act knowing that whoever did it was probably at large in the community.
“They had never given up the hope that some day they would find out what had happened to her. They have been deprived of her love and companionship.
“It is due to the perseverance of police authorities and, in particular, the forensic biologists, that your guilt could be demonstrated.
“The evidence showed that your chance encounter with Mary McLaughlin that night allowed you to take advantage of a vulnerable and lonely woman who was probably intoxicated.
“The attack took place within her own home to which she may have invited you. She was wholly unable to defend herself against any attack from someone like you.
“You proceeded to strangle her with a cord until she was dead. You then left her in her house.
“From the evidence of Suzanne Russell, to which I can have regard, it may be that you made a calculated decision to kill this woman.
“She was eventually found by one of her sons. You continue to deny any responsibility for your actions. You, therefore, show no remorse for this murder.”
McGill was convicted following a trial at the High Court in Glasgow last month.
Procurator Fiscal for Homicide and Major Crime David Green said: “This was a challenging investigation requiring complex and thorough work by specialist prosecutors.
“Under their direction, experts in forensic science saw an opportunity to use modern DNA techniques to analyse evidence from the scene that had been preserved by the original investigating officers before such techniques were available to them. This foresight ultimately led to Graham McGill’s conviction.
“Unresolved homicides are never closed, and the Crown is committed to working with police to bring these cases to court wherever possible.
“Our thoughts remain with Mary’s family, and I hope the sentence imposed today goes some way towards providing resolution for them.”
McGill did not feature in the 1984 investigation. Officers then discovered that McGill had been on weekend release from prison at the time Mary was murdered.
Over the coming months, officers re-examined paperwork, revisited several original witnesses at the time and utilised updated technology to gather the evidence needed to arrest Graham McGill.
The investigation culminated in the arrest of McGill on December 4, 2019.
Detective Superintendent Suzanne Chow said: “Despite crimes occurring years ago, there is always hope of solving them one day, they are never forgotten.
“Mary’s family has waited a long time for justice and I hope today’s verdict provides some form of resolution for them.
“It is fitting to know that despite the passage of time, justice has finally been served. In all case reviews, families are uppermost in our minds and we work hard to present the best evidential case to ensure successful convictions.”
During the case review, a number of items from the original investigation were identified for priority examination.
Unidentified samples taken at the time of the murder, were re-examined and they matched McGill.
SPA Forensic Scientist Joanne Cochrane said: “The SPA Forensic Services Cold Case Review Team carried out a full forensic review of this case which identified a number of items for further DNA analysis using the very latest technologies available.
“This analysis resulted in finding DNA attributable to Graham McGill on several items, including a cigarette end, the ligature around Mary McLaughlin’s neck, and on the dress she had been wearing.”
A senior police officer has defended Saturday’s operation to contain violent scenes in Glasgow’s George Square, where thousands of Rangers supporters had gathered to celebrate their club’s Premiership victory.
Assistant chief constable Gary Ritchie told Scotland Tonight the operation was “first-class” and was “balanced and proportionate throughout the day”.
Five police officers were injured and 28 arrests were made as a result of Saturday’s disorder, which came after the Ibrox side were presented with the Scottish Premiership trophy after completing the league season undefeated.
The scenes have been heavily criticised by political leaders, police officers and council officials.
The Scottish Police Federation said officers on the ground had told them they faced the worst violence they had dealt with in 20 years.
Ritchie said: “There’s plenty of armchair critics out there (who) can just look at the scenes that they see on their TV or on their laptop and make decisions.
“But in actual fact, I think the policing operation was first class and I think it was balanced and proportionate throughout the day.
“Every single one of the 15,000 people that came out at the weekend – to gather at Ibrox or in the other demonstrations and protests – did so selfishly in contravention of the rules and the regulations that were put in place to try and keep the people of the city safe.
“They (police officers) were shocked and definitely affected by the violence that they faced on the day – it was unusual. However, they acted extremely professionally in the face of that aggression.”
A special team of police will investigate the incidents that took place at and around George Square in Glasgow on Saturday.
The dedicated inquiry – named Operation Shearling – will track those involved using CCTV, video and photographs from the scene.
An online portal has been set-up so that the public can send detectives any video footage or photographs of incidents that took place on May 15.
Rangers said on Monday a “small minority of people behaved inappropriately and in a manner not reflective of our support” after thousands of fans defied Covid-19 warnings against large gatherings and massed in George Square at the weekend.
The club issued a statement condemning the scenes, describing them as “unacceptable” saying they “besmirched the good name of Rangers Football Club”.
Images on Saturday showed George Square strewn with hundreds of broken bottles, plastic bags and spent flares after flag-draped fans had been seen attacking each other and launching traffic cones, plastic bollards and other missiles at lines of riot gear-clad police officers.
Deputy first minister John Swinney said on Monday “every exhortation was given by Police Scotland, the Scottish Government and Rangers Football Club” as he condemned the action of fans as “absolutely reprehensible”.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she had been inudanted with messages about the “disgraceful scenes”.
Meanwhile, Scottish FA President Rod Petrie said the images “represent an abomination, not a celebration”, adding they “brought embarrassment to the national game”.
He said in a statement: “While the majority of the club’s fan base will have celebrated this achievement safely and in line with COVID-19 guidelines across the country and beyond, the scenes witnessed in and around Glasgow’s George Square have brought embarrassment to the national game.
Scotland’s national clinical director has stressed the importance of finding those in Glasgow who missed their first vaccine appointment amid a coronavirus outbreak in the city.
Professor Jason Leitch said that even though this was only around 10% to 15% of the population, it was still a “significant number of people”.
On the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland radio programme, he was also asked about the situations in East Renfrewshire and Midlothian, where cases are rising.
Glasgow and Moray remain in level three restrictions despite the rest of mainland Scotland moving to level two on Monday.
Discussing the vaccination efforts in Glasgow, Prof Leitch said: “The ones most likely to get seriously unwell are the percentage difference between 100 and those we managed to vaccinate in that older age group.
“It’s somewhere between 10-15%. In some places it’s only 5%.
“But 5% of a big number is a big number. So it’s still a significant number of people that we really want to get vaccinated.”
He urged people who had missed either a first or second dose to come forward, saying “we’d love to give you that full protection”.
Public health teams in Glasgow have also decided to offer vaccination to some in the 18 to 39-year-old age group.
Prof Leitch said there had been a “little uptick” of cases in Midlothian and East Renfrewshire, saying the First Minister and her new cabinet would take a decision later this week on whether levels of restriction needed to change.
The national clinical director also responded to comments from Professor Sir John Curtice, who said he had struggled with the Scottish Government’s vaccine helpline.
Sir John, 67, told The Herald that he had waited more than 14 weeks for his second dose and the helpline team had been unable to resolve the issue despite three weeks of calls.
The polling expert said: “The problem seems to be that the helpline is unable to solve the problem that it identifies.”
Prof Leitch said he was “sorry” Sir John had gone through three weeks of consultation without success, but there was “no difference clinically” between a 12-week and 14-week wait.
He said: “I don’t think it’s fair to say the helpline is not working.
“I think it’s fair to say there are some people for who the helpline isn’t working as quickly as it should and we’re trying to correct that as much as we can.”
A wildlife reserve has welcomed its first osprey chick of the season.
A small hole was spotted at about 1pm on Monday on one of the three eggs laid by female osprey NC0 at the Scottish Wildlife Trust’s Loch of the Lowes Wildlife Reserve in Perthshire.
Webcam watchers could hear increasingly vocal cheeping coming from the nest and the chick broke out of the egg just before 10pm, hatching fully by the early hours of Tuesday morning.
Male osprey LM12 brought a fish back to the nest just after 8am on Tuesday, and the chick received its first feed from NC0 shortly afterwards.
The two remaining eggs laid by NC0 this season are expected to hatch by the end of the week.
Sara Rasmussen, Perthshire Ranger with the Scottish Wildlife Trust, said: “Seeing the first chick hatch out is a thrilling sight that demonstrates the importance of guarding the nest from disturbance.
“Everyone at Loch of the Lowes is proud to play a part in ensuring the reserve provides a safe and secure place for nesting ospreys.
“We’re hopeful this tiny chick will be joined by two siblings by the end of the week.
“I’d encourage people to keep a close eye on the trust’s live osprey webcam to avoid missing any of the action.”
She added: “Our Osprey protection programme is a huge undertaking which is made possible with the support of 50 volunteers, trust staff and backing from players of People’s Postcode Lottery.”
This season is LM12 and NC0’s second as a breeding pair, after they successfully fledged one chick last year.
Ospreys chicks need to develop rapidly before taking flight and migrating south at the end of summer.
The parents will be kept busy over the summer ensuring the growing brood receives a steady supply of fish.
Ospreys were extinct in Britain for much of the 20th century but began to recover in the 1960s and today an estimated 300 pairs breed in the UK each summer.
The Scottish Wildlife Trust’s Osprey Protection Programme is supported by players of the People’s Postcode Lottery.
Laura Chow, Head of Charities at People’s Postcode Lottery, said: “It’s fantastic to hear that LM12 and NC0 have hatched their first chick of the season.
“It’s great to see players support the Scottish Wildlife Trust’s work to protect ospreys at Loch of the Lowes and seeing chicks successfully hatch demonstrates the importance of the protection programme.”
The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo has been cancelled for a second year.
The annual event is part of the Edinburgh Festivals which take place through the month of August.
Held near Edinburgh Castle, the show encompasses acts from military organisations, dancers and pipe bands and culminates in a fireworks display each night.
The tattoo was cancelled in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, however organisers have decided to postpone the show for another year.
Organisers said it would be “irresponsible to press on and to risk the longer-term financial viability of our charity” by staging the tattoo in 2021.
Chief executive, Buster Howes, said: “Despite the sense of optimism around the UK’s emergence from the pandemic and our huge enthusiasm to stage a performance this year, it is now clear that the financial risks we confront in delivering The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, at scale, on the Castle Esplanade in August are simply too great.
“Consequently, it is with enormous regret and disappointment that we announce the cancellation of the 2021 Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo.
“We have for months forensically monitored, assessed and sought to mitigate the constraints and uncertainties involved in mounting our show. However, we now reluctantly conclude it would be irresponsible to press on and to risk the longer-term financial viability of our charity, without the ability to underwrite and to offset the potential, substantial economic losses associated with last-minute cancellation obliged by changes in public health policy.
“This has been a very difficult decision. We appreciate it has far-reaching implications for our staff, performers, suppliers, and guests, but we must act responsibly and, in the best, long-term interests of all. Tickets for 2021 will be refunded in full: for those wishing to join us next year, tickets can be transferred to 2022.
“A tremendous amount of energy and effort goes into planning and delivering each Tattoo and this year was no exception. This is a very disappointing outcome. We will now refocus to find other ways to contribute to the national spirit of recovery this year and to surprise and delight the people of our city and from further afield.
“We would like to thank all our ticket holders, friends and stakeholders for their patience over the past year as we have navigated the uncertainty of the pandemic.
“Their continuing commitment and support has been much appreciated by everyone at the Tattoo and we look forward to welcoming them back to the esplanade in the future.”
James McAvoy joins appeal to aid children affected by Covid
STV Children’s Appeal launches campaign to help young people whose mental health has been impacted by the pandemic.
The STV Children’s Appeal has launched a new fundraising campaign focused on supporting the mental health and wellbeing of Scotland’s children and young people, following research that suggests the Covid-19 pandemic will have a damaging long-term impact on young minds.
Glasgow-born Hollywood actor James McAvoy has joined other top Scottish talent – TV presenter Gail Porter, Booker Prize-winning author Douglas Stuart, comedian Janey Godley, Love Island star Laura Anderson and singer-songwriter Joesef – in recording video messages of support for the campaign.
A lockdown survey highlighted that 67% of young people believe the pandemic will be harmful to their mental health in the long-term.
In response, the STV Children’s Appeal – which was first launched in 2011 – will begin airing a new TV campaign voiced by long-time trustee Lorraine Kelly, which asks viewers to consider the impact of a year of lockdowns on youth mental health, and donate to support the recovery phase.
The campaign highlights the particularly detrimental impact of the pandemic on the one in four children currently living in poverty in Scotland.
Most lifelong mental illness begins in childhood and those living in deprivation are three times more likely to experience it, according to the British Medical Association. 100% of the money raised will be quickly distributed by the STV Children’s Appeal to fund vital counselling sessions and peer support groups in communities right across Scotland.
It will also support local projects which give children access to sports, art, music and other means of essential peer-to-peer connection, of which they might otherwise be deprived.
Lorraine Kelly, STV Children’s Appeal trustee, said: “It’s so important we help to raise funds and awareness of our children’s mental health.
“They’ve been through such a lot and we need to make sure they are looked after with kindness and compassion.
“I’m always so inspired by the response of the Scottish public who are incredibly generous and I’m sure we will be able to make life so much better for all the children who need that extra support.”
Jacqueline Cassidy, director of Scotland at children’s mental health charity and STV Children’s Appeal partner organisation Place2Be, said: “For some young people, this pandemic has been a nightmare. We are seeing increased levels of anxiety and emotional worry within the schools and wider communities in which we work.
“Our evidence shows when young people get the right support at the right time, their school performance improves and so do their life chances. And that stays with them as they grow.
“Thanks to the STV Children’s Appeal, we have been able to provide specialist support for parents and carers in Glasgow, as well as training for youth workers across Scotland to build their skills and confidence in responding to the mental health needs of children and young people.
“We are hugely grateful for STV’s support which means we can reach many more young people across Scotland before it’s too late.”
It’s a puzzle that Steve Clarke has been chewing over pretty much since the minute David Marshall saved the penalty that sent Scotland to the European Championship.
Who do you take to Euro 2020?
And who do you leave out?
On Wednesday, those questions will be answered when the Scottish FA reveals the final selection.
When Marshall saved the crucial penalty in Belgrade, the finals were seven months away. Circumstances have given the national team boss an extra year on top of that to consider the best blend of players and the possible teams he might field in three group games and hopefully more beyond that.
Just over three weeks ago, Clarke had settled on his choices “more or less”. And then UEFA announced that they were increasing squad sizes from 23 to 26, reasoning that after a shortened, concentrated season it may ease the workload on top players.
You might think that the increase would have been popular with managers, allowing them a bigger hand to choose from, and leaving them with fewer difficult phone calls to players who missed out.
But Clarke saw it differently.
“Obviously it will make the job when you’re there more difficult because you’re leaving players out that won’t be involved in the games,” he told Sky. “But it’s a chance for some players that might have missed out to be in the squad and to experience the whole atmosphere of a major tournament, which will be good.”
A traditional 23-man squad might have ramped up tension about who would be left out. Clarke has worked to build a club mentality in the squad and embed his ideas at individual and team level and that has meant a consistency in selection.
A few weeks ago – when Clarke knew his top 23 “more or less” – anyone who’s followed the national team could have had a fair stab at knowing it too.
Now, a combination of factors means it’s a little different and there could be some interesting choices on Wednesday.
Injuries have already ruled out a couple of almost definite picks and opened up space, UEFA’s increase to 26 players gives more room and end of season form may have seen some potential picks push harder than others.
Between the sticks
The one area where Clarke is unlikely to spring a major surprise is his goalkeeper selection.
David Marshall, Craig Gordon and Jon McLaughlin have been the go-to choices for some time and there hasn’t been a serious case to dislodge any of the trio at this late stage.
It’s been suggested that the manager might make a private phone call to Allan McGregor to sound out the veteran Rangers keeper after a vintage season, but the very reasons it would be private (risk of upsetting the established picks, and McGregor’s history with the Scottish FA) are the same ones that make it unlikely.
Case for the defence
The current preference for a three-man central defence means plenty of places for part of the team where there’s no defined first-choice partnership.
Kieran Tierney, having overcome injury problems, is a certainty for the left of the trio and a good number of players have their eyes on the remaining places.
Grant Hanley, Scott McKenna, Declan Gallagher, Jack Hendry, Andy Considine and Liam Cooper all have claims to make the squad, with the question of who will start against Czech Republic one to answer further down the line.
In the wing-back positions, Andy Robertson is captain and will be the first name on the team-sheet, with Celtic’s Greg Taylor the accepted back-up while Tierney takes on the central role.
On the right flank, Stephen O’Donnell isn’t going to miss out after tireless work over the last couple of years, though Liam Palmer might be nervously checking his phone on Wednesday morning now that James Forrest is back and available as an option.
Midfield is where injury has already sent Clarke’s early plans awry. Ryan Jack, having shown consistently strong performances for Rangers at home and abroad, had already been ruled out before Kenny McLean was cruelly robbed of his place in his last game of the domestic season. The Norwich midfielder has been a solid part of the squad and shown a cool head in penalty shoot-outs.
Scott McTominay’s spell at the back appears to be over and Scotland aren’t going to leave a Manchester United regular behind to watch the Euros on television. Likewise, John McGinn is on the verge of being a talismanic figure and will be in the starting line-up.
Celtic duo Callum McGregor and Ryan Christie will be in Clarke’s plans, as will Stuart Armstrong, while John Fleck’s case for inclusion has probably strengthened with McLean’s absence.
Further up the field, Forrest’s value to Scotland has been proven over the years, even if injury robbed him of most of this season, and Ryan Fraser’s creativity is essential if the team are to entertain hopes of going beyond the group stage.
Going for goals
The Clarke era has unearthed striking options and after persuading Lyndon Dykes to bring his physical and direct play to the dark blue jersey instead of his native Australia, and converting Che Adams to the cause, they will account for two places in the 26.
Kevin Nisbet and Lawrence Shankland looked to have been in direct competition and it’s likely the Hibs striker has nosed ahead in the last couple of months – but there could be room for both.
Oli McBurnie has been ruled out. Off-the-field issues and a Premier League goal return that’s the same as the Liverpool goalkeeper’s meant Clarke might have faced a tough decision on the Sheffield United forward, but McBurnie revealed on Monday that his fractured metatarsal won’t have healed in time for the Euros.
No discussion of Scotland’s forward options can be complete without mention of Leigh Griffiths, especially when England are among the upcoming opponents. The Celtic striker has had a season to forget but there are plenty who would support his case for inclusion based on an ability to deliver something unexpected.
Waiting by their phones
Beyond these names, most of whom have been in multiple squads throughout Clarke’s reign, there is the potential for a big surprise in Wednesday’s announcement.
The manager’s mention of experiencing a major tournament suggests his last places might go to younger players who can use it to further their career at the top.
David Turnbull’s smooth ascent to becoming a key player in midfield for Celtic must have put him in the frame, while Rangers’ young right-back Nathan Patterson would be a real outsider, though one that could give an option in a difficult position. Hibs centre-back Ryan Porteous has already made previous squads and has made no secret of his hopes to force his way in.
The real story would come from a gamble on either one of a pair of diminutive Scottish midfielders who have enjoyed 2020/21. Ryan Gauld’s move to Portugal was always a brave choice and, despite setbacks, he seems to have found his feet. Nine goals and seven assists in a Farense team that’s been in the bottom half of the top flight might be enough to nail a wildcard spot if there’s one going.
Gauld would have competition from one of Clarke’s old clubs. Billy Gilmour earned first-team appearances under Frank Lampard at Chelsea, but appeared to be back at the drawing board when new manager Thomas Tuchel arrived. However, the former Rangers youngster has returned to the team at Stamford Bridge and shown he’s capable up against the EPL’s best.
The inclusion of either one would be the headline from Wednesday’s squad reveal, but Clarke’s choices will be debated way beyond this week.
Scotland’s first appearance at a major finals in a generation means every spot in the squad is up for scrutiny.
Whether Clarke’s 26 can make the most of it will be the story of the summer.