Covid patient leaves hospital 195 days after being admitted

Hundreds of staff applauded as Neil McLaughlin finally left University Hospital Hairmyres in East Kilbride with his partner.

Jane Barlow via PA Media

A coronavirus patient in South Lanarkshire has finally left hospital nearly 200 days after he was first admitted with coronavirus.

Neil McLaughlin was taken to University Hospital Hairmyres in East Kilbride on November 21 last year with the “typical symptoms” of a cough and feeling out of breath.

The condition of the 63-year-old from Chapelhall in Airdrie, North Lanarkshire, quickly deteriorated and he was rushed to the intensive care unit (ICU) where he had to be intubated – for 167 days.

Doctors believe this makes Mr McLaughlin one of – if not the longest – patients requiring intubation in Scotland as a result of Covid-19.

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On Friday, hundreds of staff including nurses gathered at a distance in the reception area of the hospital and balconies as the patient was finally allowed home, accompanied by his partner Wendy Busby.

He said: “It’s very humbling, it’s fair to say a lot of the staff clapping I’ve never met before but because I’ve been in hospital so long everybody gets to know your story.

“Me being a guy I decided it was a cold, Wendy being an ex-nurse decided it wasn’t a cold so she booked me a Covid test which came back positive.

“The first lot I don’t remember too much of because I was sedated for five weeks and I was so full of drugs you don’t really know what’s going on.

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“(The physios) brought my mobility on because I’ve had to learn how to walk again, lying in bed for so long… they’ve all been fantastic, even down to the people who made the tea.

“[There is] still work to be done but home now so that’s the main thing”.

Not long after leaving Hairmyres, Mr McLaughlin, himself a former support worker, was on a video call with a cousin who was “over the moon” to see him again after getting out.

He added the first thing he intends to do when he gets home will be to “make a fuss of the dog” – and he is looking forward to a steak dinner.

Ms Busby told the PA news agency how she spent Christmas day on the phone talking to her partner who was sedated in the hospital ward.

The 55-year-old said: “He was in the Covid ICU, he was still Covid positive so there was no chance of getting in, it was just constant phone calls and reassurance from the nurses.

“I was wishing him a Merry Christmas, telling him what I was doing, it was quite emotional but that how was my Christmas to Neil was spent.

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“The staff were absolutely amazing, not only amazing with Neil but for myself – the comfort they gave me when I used to phone up and as Neil says, it’s not just the doctors and the nurses.”

Dr Chris Keuh, one of the consultant physicians, also told PA: “He took a long time to recover, a long time to improve and eventually he was sent down here to ward 10 which is one of our general medical wards.

“Neil’s worked quite hard, he’s had a good attitude about him and has worked very hard with the physiotherapists and today Neil is able to go home after 195 days in hospital.

“It’s been fantastic because we’ve seen him week on week get better, it’s not just myself but the entire hospital pulling together and Neil himself improving. We’ll miss him but actually it’s a great sign that people are recovering from this.

“Although Neil’s time in hospital has come to an end his recovery isn’t at an end at the moment so, unfortunately, he’s still is going to have community physiotherapy coming in to try and help him to build a strength back up.

“Unfortunately, being in hospital for that length of time has its consequences and we don’t know the full effects of Covid until probably much much later, it’s still up to him to continue to work with the physiotherapist to recover from this.

“There have been a lot of people that haven’t been as lucky as Neil and unfortunately passed away, there were a few times when actually we didn’t think he was going to survive, and he still managed to pull through so you know it is unusual that he’s taken so long but we’re happy that he’s managed to pull through this and get home.”

‘He had a knife… I thought I’d just have to be stabbed’

Victims of mass stabbings at a Glasgow hotel reflect on their suffering 12 months later.

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Three asylum seekers who were hurt in mass stabbings at a hotel are still suffering from flashbacks a year on.

Sudanese national Badreddin Abedlla Adam, 28, was shot dead by armed police after injuring six people in a knife attack at the Park Inn in Glasgow.

Police officer PC David Whyte and two hotel workers were also taken to hospital after the incident, which prompted a huge emergency response in the city centre.

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The Park Inn Hotel was housing asylum seekers.

Ahead of Saturday’s anniversary, the three asylum seekers spoke together for the first time and revealed they’re haunted by the memories every day.

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Max Aubin Glossoa and two other men – being named only as Mo and Mohamed – also told STV News they had no “bad feelings” towards their attacker.

‘I spend the days in my house’

Max, 21, from Ivory Coast, rarely ventures outside even 12 months on from the “worst day of my life”.

“To me now ‘safety’ is just a word,” he said. “I came here to be safe and I was stabbed, so it’s just a word. 

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“Physically I have a lot of scars on my body and there are a lot of things I still can’t do, like go to the gym and work out. Mentally it is difficult to forget as the flashbacks are still coming and coming.

“I feel alone. There can be ten people in the room but I still feel alone because I don’t trust anyone. 

“I don’t like to go outside in case someone will hurt me, so I spend all my days in my house, far from the city and from people.”

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Max Aubin Glossoa

‘I just have to be stabbed

Blood in the hotel lift was the first thing that alerted Mohamed, a teenager from Sierra Leone, to the danger, before he was confronted by the knifeman.

“He was keeping a knife behind his back,” the 18-year-old said. “He grabbed me and punched me and tried to reach for his knife. I was shouting for help, but no one was coming to my rescue.

“I thought ‘I’ll just have to be stabbed. I’ll just have to die’.”

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The teenager, who spent three days in hospital with severe bruising, managed to break free and ran outside, where he saw his friend Mo had been stabbed.

“He was crying and saying he was going to die,” Mohamed said. “As he was calling my name, I was just thinking how was I saved.”

‘Will I play football again?

Mo was going to get lunch when he was stabbed in the back.

“I tried to turn and he stabbed me again,” the 19-year-old said. “He was holding two knives and stabbing at my back and stomach. I was shouting and shouting. The place where I tried to run to was blocked.”

Mo spent ten days in hospital and still needs treatment for a liver problem.

“The first thing I asked my doctor was ‘will I play football again?’. The doctor said ‘yes’ and I was like ‘thank god’.

The incident prompted a huge emergency response.

It’s killing me slowly

The three men were moved into flats after being released from hospital and have had counselling, but still face an uncertain future as they wait to learn whether they can remain in Scotland.

Mo said: “It’s killing me slowly. We are always thinking about one thing – is the Home Office going to do this or that? We are in total darkness and thinking about this every day is not good for my mental health.“ 

Their immigration lawyer Andrew Bradley said his clients’ cases deserved to be treated as a priority.

“These three men are going to have to live with what happened to them in Glasgow for the rest of their lives,” he said.

“They have been struggling over the last year and their recovery from this trauma is really poorly served by the ongoing delay.

“It is time the authorities involved and Home Office gave these cases the priority they deserve.”

Needs ‘were not met’

In the aftermath of the attack, serious questions were raised about the treatment of asylum seekers, who were placed in hotels by the Home Office – following a suggestion from housing contractor Mears Group – as Scotland went into lockdown.

Charities and politicians said the needs of vulnerable people – including children, pregnant women and trafficking survivors – were not being met.

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Six people were stabbed.

An agreed pause with the city council on asylum seekers being placed in Glasgow by the Home Office remains in place.

Mears said the victims of the Park Inn attacks had been offered counselling and other support, and that it aimed to move all asylum seekers out of hotels within the next month.

A statement read: “We are seeing the housing and lettings market open up and we are now able to procure additional dispersed accommodation in the community.    

“We have 170 service users currently and we are arranging moves out every day, with the aim of all service users being out of hotels by the end of July.”

What did the Home Office say?

A Home Office spokesperson said: “We take the welfare of those in our care extremely seriously. All asylum seekers in hotels are provided with full-board accommodation with three meals a day served as well as all other essentials.

“In the aftermath of the Glasgow incident, our accommodation provider offered trauma response services and had regular conversations with residents to ensure mental health needs were addressed.

“Our New Plan for Immigration will reform the broken asylum system, allowing us to welcome people through safe and legal routes, while preventing abuse and pressure on the system and the criminality associated with it.”

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Forensics investigators carry out work at the hotel.

Who was Badreddin Abedlla Adam?

The 28-year-old from Sudan had been living in Glasgow for six months before carrying out the attacks at lunchtime on Friday, June 26 last year.

He’d been struggling to get help with his mental health during the pandemic and fellow asylum seekers at the hotel were worried about his behaviour.

One person told STV News he had previously warned he was going to carry out an attack – which campaign group Refugees for Justice said was the culmination of a “tragic chain of events”.

A year later, Max said he had “no bad feelings” towards his attacker.

“Every day when I remember, I still feel guilty,” he added. “We were the same. We lived in the hotel and we were asylum seekers. We didn’t take the time to say ‘are you ok?’.” 

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Badreddin Abedlla Adam

Remembrance and unity’

A commemoration event will take place in Glasgow at 1pm on Saturday, when people are being asked to bring flowers, candles and poems to George Square.

Refugees for Justice coordinator Pinar Aksu said: “We want to mark the anniversary of what happened last year, by remembering our friends and all of the people seeking asylum in our city who lost their lives.

“We want June 26 to be a day when we all come together in a moment of remembrance and unity.”

Pensioner accused of killing toddler dies before court case

Criminal proceedings end following death of woman arrested in connection with killing Xander Irvine by dangerous driving.

Police Scotland
Xander Irvine died after being hit by a car in Edinburgh's Morningside area last year.

No one will stand trial over the death of a three-year-old boy in Edinburgh after the pensioner accused of killing him by dangerous driving passed away.

Xander Irvine was walking with his mother, Victoria, 37, when he was hit by a car on Morningside Road on June 30 last year.

The toddler was taken to hospital but suffered fatal injuries.

A 91-year-old woman was arrested in connection with the incident.

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But the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (Copfs) said on Friday the case is now closed after the pensioner died on May 16.

A Copfs spokesperson said: “As the accused is now deceased, criminal proceedings are at an end.”

The accused appeared at Edinburgh Sheriff Court last October charged with causing death by dangerous driving and while uninsured.

She made no plea and she was released on bail. A trial was expected to take place next month.

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Meanwhile, a fundraiser to install a wood carving in Xander’s memory at Morningside Playpark has already raised almost £7500.

To donate, visit the GoFundMe page here.

Airport bosses call for ‘transparency’ over travel decisions

It comes after the latest travel green list arrangements were unveiled on Thursday evening.

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The latest travel list arrangements were set out on Thursday evening.

The owners of Glasgow and Aberdeen airports has urged the UK and Scottish governments to be “more transparent” over their decisions on international travel.

AGS Airports, which also owns Southampton Airport, also warned that passenger confidence is at “an all-time low”.

It comes after the latest travel green list arrangements were unveiled on Thursday evening.

The Scottish Government said that Malta, Madeira and the Balearics would be amongst those to be added to the expanded list.

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Meanwhile, a number of other destinations, including Tunisia and Uganda, were added to the red list, meaning that people who go there will be required to isolate for ten days on their return.

The latest changes are due to come into effect at 4am on June 30.

In a statement released by AGS Airports, it said that its airports are “virtually empty”.

It read: “We have repeatedly highlighted that aviation is not an industry that can just be simply switched on or off at short notice, so there will likely be no swell in travel from Scottish airports following [Thursday’s] announcement.

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“Passenger confidence is at an all-time low and our airline partners are understandably finding it impossible to operate schedules given the unpredictability of the current situation.

“The UK and Scottish governments must be more transparent about the decisions they are making regarding international travel.

“This weekend should be the start of the peak summer holiday season and we’d normally welcome thousands of people each day through our doors and the terminals would be buzzing with excitement.

“Instead our airports are virtually empty for the second summer in a row.”

It added that the Travel Day of Action, held earlier this week, demonstrated the “strength of feeling amongst the 1.6 million hard working and dedicated people employed across our industry”.

Following the update on Thursday, Scottish transport secretary Michael Matheson said the Government would continue to work closely with the other home nations.

“From the outset we have said caution is required regarding international travel and people should think very carefully about travelling abroad as situations can suddenly change,” he said.

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“We continue to work closely with the other home nations and are cautiously supportive of exploring options for the easing of restrictions for fully vaccinated travellers arriving from countries on the amber list – but only if the clinical advice supports it and if systems are in place to ensure the wider safety of the Scottish population.”


Man dies after two fall overboard from fishing vessel

Police say 61-year-old man pronounced dead after falling into sea in the Sound of Rum on Thursday evening.

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A Coastguard helicopter went to the scene.

One man has died after he and another crew member went overboard from a fishing vessel.

The pair were recovered from the water by the third member of the crew after they fell into the sea in the Sound of Rum.

Police said that one of the men, a 61-year-old, was pronounced dead.

A rescue operation was launched after the Coastguard received a Mayday call from the vessel just before 7.10pm on Thursday.

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The Mayday stated that two of the three crew had entered the water, two nautical miles north-west of the island of Eigg in the Inner Hebrides.

Mayday relay broadcasts were issued to vessels in the area and the Coastguard helicopter from Stornoway and RNLI lifeboats from Mallaig and Tobermory were sent to the scene.

The Coastguard said the crew member still on the fishing vessel managed to get both men back on board, where the helicopter’s winch paramedic attended to them.

A Police Scotland spokeswoman said: “Police were called to a report of two men having fallen into the sea from a fishing vessel in the Sound of Rum.

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“Emergency services attended, including the RNLI lifeboat from Mallaig and HMCG helicopter from Stornoway.

“Both men were recovered from the water but one, a 61-year-old man, was sadly pronounced dead.

“There are no suspicious circumstances. A report will be submitted to the Procurator Fiscal.”

The other man suffered a minor injury and did not need any hospital treatment.

An HM Coastguard spokeswoman said: “Mallaig RNLI lifeboat escorted the fishing vessel to Mallaig Harbour, where they were met by Police Scotland and Mallaig Coastguard Rescue Team.”

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Matt Hancock accused of having affair with adviser

Pictures published by The Sun appear to show the UK health secretary kissing an adviser to his department.

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There are calls for an investigation into the appointment of the adviser.

UK health secretary Matt Hancock has been accused of having an affair with an adviser to his department.

The Sun published pictures of the married Cabinet minister appearing to kiss Gina Coladangelo, who the newspaper said was hired by Hancock last year.

The images, which appear to be captured from CCTV footage, were taken on May 6 from the headquarters of the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), the newspaper adds.

It said the minister hired Coladangelo as an unpaid adviser on a six-month contract in March last year, before appointing her as a non-executive director at the department.

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Hancock, who is said to have met Coladangelo at university, has been married to his wife Martha for 15 years and they have three children together.

Coladangelo is the marketing and communications director at Oliver Bonas, a British retailer founded by her husband Oliver Tress.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps said on Friday morning that he would not be commenting on the “entirely personal” matter following the reports about his Cabinet colleague.

When asked if the health secretary had been ignoring social distancing rules when the images were taken, Shapps told LBC he is “quite sure that whatever the rules were at the time were followed”.

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However, the UK Government’s road map out of lockdown said people should continue to keep their distance from anyone not in their household or support bubble until May 17.

Asked about the rules around appointing friends to Government positions, Shapps told Sky News: “First of all, I think the actual issue is entirely personal for Matt Hancock.

“In terms of rules, anyone who has been appointed has to go through an incredibly rigorous process in Government, so whatever the rules are, the rules will have to be followed.

“There are no short cuts to that, as anyone who has had anything to do with the appointments system in the Civil Service knows.

“There are very strict rules in place.”

Labour said the Government needs to answer whether the health secretary had broken any rules or there had been “conflicts of interest” in the appointment of his closest adviser.

An opposition party spokesman said: “Ministers, like everyone, are entitled to a private life.

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“However, when taxpayers’ money is involved or jobs are being offered to close friends who are in a personal relationship with a minister, then that needs to be looked into.

“The Government needs to be open and transparent about whether there are any conflicts of interests or rules that have been broken.”

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey said on Twitter: “The reason Matt Hancock should resign is that he is a terrible health secretary, not because of his private life.

“From the PPE scandal, the crisis in our care service and the unbelievably poor test and trace system, he has utterly failed.”

Hancock was not at his north London home on Friday morning. The DHSC was also contacted for comment.

SNP MP Tommy Sheppard said that there must be an investigation into the appointment of Coladangelo.

“Private matters are just that but public appointments are another matter entirely and they warrant proper scrutiny and full transparency,” he said.

“There must be an investigation into this appointment and a full public inquiry into the Tory cronyism scandal engulfing Westminster, which is out of control.

“The public deserve answers as to why so many Tory friends and donors have been handed jobs, peerages, public contracts and many millions of pounds in taxpayers’ money.”


Brother and sister with rare genetic disorder seek match

Five-year-old Lily and three-year-old Benjamin are so unique their condition doesn’t even have a name.

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A brother and sister thought to be the only people in the world with the rarest of genetic conditions are joining an international search to help find other families who could be like theirs.

Lily and Benjamin Arnott, from Penicuik, Midlothian, are so unique their condition doesn’t even have a name.

Their parents, Kenny and Crystal, have signed up to a world-leading database in the hope of finding support.

“It can be quite lonely sometimes being parents of children with additional support needs,” said Mr Arnott.

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“Being a parent is hard full stop. It’s hard. But it’s quite hard to explain to other parents what you go through every so often.

“So I guess that’s going to start being really important to us.”

The Arnotts are among 684 families in Scotland who have signed up with Surrey-based charity Unique, whose world-leading database helps to track down and pair families with extremely rare chromosome and gene disorders in the UK or overseas.

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Home: Benjamin Arnott has a rare genetic condition.

Children, who were thought to be the only one with a specific rare chromosome or gene disorder (RCD), are being paired with others and given a lifeline to share experiences and information.

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“Our hopes with being on Unique is to be part of this ever-growing database and hopefully reaching out to other families that may have the same rare chromosome and then being able to support each other,” said Mrs Arnott.

There are no set milestones for Lily and Benjamin’s development because there are no other confirmed cases exactly like theirs.

Genetic testing after Lily was born showed that she had an extra chromosome strand.

Her younger brother, Benjamin, has the same unusual arrangement which has so far not been identified in other patients whose details are logged with UK or international databases.

Finding other families offers the family not just emotional support, but also an opportunity to share information that could help answer questions about the children’s future.

If a match were to be found with an older child or even adult, it would provide valuable information to the family and their doctors.

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Search: The Arnotts have signed up to Unique.

“Having a child with a rare or unique condition can be a very lonely place but this incredible application of science is leading to new discoveries every day, so we have been able to put families in touch with similarly ‘unique’ families across the world,” said Dr Beverly Searle, CEO of Unique.

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“Many of our families have been told that their child may be the only one in the world with their specific disorder so discovering someone else like them and sharing their journeys can be life-changing.”


Crack cocaine, heroin and cash seized in police raids

Three men have been charged in connection with the county lines operation in Aberdeen on Thursday.

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Police: Officers raided nine properties in Aberdeen.

Three men have been charged after more than £30,000 worth of crack cocaine and heroin was seized in police raids across Aberdeen.

Almost £20,000 in cash was also recovered as part of the intelligence-led county lines operation.

On Thursday, officers raided nine properties in areas including Garthdee, Rosemount, Bucksburn and Bridge of Don.

Over the course of the operation, known as Operation Makeshift, police recovered the cash haul as well as heroin with a street value of £13,000 and crack cocaine with a street value of £18,000.

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Three men, aged 22, 35 and 47, were arrested and charged in connection with drug supply offences and will appear at Aberdeen Sheriff Court on Friday.

Police said county lines groups typically use young or vulnerable people to deliver or store drugs, and to sell to customers.

This can involve intimidation, violence and in some cases the sexual exploitation of young people.

Members of a group may take over a vulnerable person’s home as a base to conduct their operations from, often coercing the person into helping them through violence or threats of violence.

Detective inspector Martyn Thomson said: “Proactively targeting organised crime groups who exploit vulnerable people and import drugs into our communities for their own illicit gain remains a priority for our officers.

“Thursday’s operation shows we’re committed to identifying the supply chain of drugs and disrupting the activity of people intent on bringing them to the north-east.

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“Drugs cause nothing but harm and despair to families and communities.

“However we can’t do this alone. The public continue to play a vital role in assisting investigations into drug crime and I would encourage anyone who believes an individual or property within their community may be being exploited for criminal purposes to contact Police Scotland.”

If you have any concerns about the supply of illegal drugs in your area, call 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.


Watchdog probes Amazon and Google over fake reviews

Officials to examine whether people and businesses have been able to post fake reviews online with too much impunity.

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Competition and Markets Authority have opened formal probe into fake reviews.

Competition officials are to examine whether people and businesses have been able to post fake reviews online with too much impunity.

The Competition and Markets Authority has opened a formal investigation into whether Amazon and Google have done enough to crack down on the practice.

CMA chief executive Andrea Coscelli said: “Our worry is that millions of online shoppers could be misled by reading fake reviews and then spending their money based on those recommendations.

“Equally, it’s simply not fair if some businesses can fake five-star reviews to give their products or services the most prominence, while law-abiding businesses lose out.”

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The watchdog said that over the past year it has become concerned that the two technology giants are not doing enough to detect fake and misleading reviews or suspicious behaviour.

In some cases users might have reviewed the same range of products or businesses, or at times reviews suggest that the writer was paid or given another incentive to write the post.

It questioned whether the two are doing enough to investigate and promptly remove fake and misleading reviews from their platforms, and impose adequate sanctions on reviewers or businesses engaged in the practice.

“It’s important that these tech platforms take responsibility and we stand ready to take action if we find that they are not doing enough,” Mr Coscelli said.

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The CMA said its concerns have been prompted by a year-long initial inquiry, which caused it to launch this formal investigation.

If it finds that the two companies are not doing enough, the CMA could force them to change how they work.

But officials stressed that they have not yet reached a view on whether either has broken the law.

Last year Facebook, Instagram and eBay removed groups and banned individuals for buying or selling fake reviews on their sites.

Counselling sessions for young Scots worried about gender identity

NSPCC's Childline has delivered 305 counselling sessions to young people over the last year.

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The children’s charity has around 370 volunteer counsellors at its Glasgow and Aberdeen bases.

More than 300 counselling sessions have been delivered to young people about gender identity and sexuality in the past year, a charity has said.

NSPCC’s Childline delivered 305 such sessions in 2020/21 and in 170 of these, young people mentioned coming out as a concern – an 11% increase from the previous year.

The children’s charity has around 370 volunteer counsellors at its Glasgow and Aberdeen bases who are available for sessions amid challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic.

One 12-year-old girl who spoke to Childline said: “I want to tell somebody that I’m gay but I just can’t find the courage to.

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“I don’t want people to judge me or treat me any differently if they find out. Some people really hate gay people and I’m scared of what will happen if I tell someone.”

Another to speak to the charity, a 15-year-old who identifies as transgender, said: “I’m around my parents way more than I’m around my friends, especially now with Covid.

“My friends know about me being trans and they’re doing everything they can to make me feel comfortable, like using he/him pronouns and calling me by my preferred name instead of my birth name.

“My parents, on the other hand, hate my entire being and still refer to me as a girl, which hurts me so bad.”

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The charity released the figures to mark Pride Month and to remind children and young people of the support available as restrictions ease.

Lauren Burke, Childline Glasgow team manager, said: “At Childline, we know that coming out or speaking about sexuality and gender identity can be really challenging.

“Many children and young people who have spoken to our trained volunteer counsellors have described their time under lockdown as a period of reflection, a chance to think about important issues in their lives, both recent and historic.

“Some children with sexuality and gender concerns revealed that lockdown had been particularly hard for them, as they’d been cut off from their usual support networks.

“Others told Childline that lockdown had given them the confidence and freedom to come out to their friends and family.

“No matter what a young person’s experience is with coming out or speaking about their gender identity or sexuality, at Childline we believe every young person has a right to be listened to and speak about any worries or questions they may have without feeling judged.

“If a young person feels unable to speak to a trusted adult in their life then we would encourage them to speak to Childline.”

Helpline

  • Childline: 0800 1111

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