‘Only her killer knows what happened to Emma Faulds’

How police found Emma Faulds' body in a vast forest and built a case against her killer.

STV News

Ross Willox is the only person who might ever know what happened to murdered Emma Faulds in the final hours of her life, police believe.

The 39-year-old devoted youth worker was reported missing by her family on April 30, 2019, and found dead following a huge six-week search of vast woodlands in Dumfries and Galloway.

Emma’s life had been taken by a man she’d called a friend for 18 years, an old work colleague who went to “extreme lengths” to cover up his crime.

Despite his denials, 41-year-old former prison officer Ross Willox was convicted of murder at the High Court in Glasgow on Tuesday and now faces a life sentence.

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Here, STV News tells how the huge search for Emma played out and how police built a case that persuaded a jury of Willox’s guilt.

‘She trusted her friend’

Emma’s friendship with Willox began when the pair worked together at HMP Kilmarnock. By the time she was reported missing in April 2019, she was a youth worker at the specialist Kibble School in Paisley, a job her colleagues said she loved.

They painted a picture of Emma as someone devoted to her work and who loved spending time with family and looking after her dog.

STV News
Police cordoned off Willox’s home in Monkton during the search.

On the night of April 28, she visited Willox at his home in Monkton, South Ayrshire, for a drink.

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It’s believed Emma never left the house alive.

“For me, that is the worst thing,” Detective Inspector Peter Crombie told STV News. “That Emma was with someone she thought she knew and trusted.”

‘He thought she’d never be found’

Police described the search for Emma’s body as “six weeks of hard slog”.

Knowing Willox had worked on wind farms in the Galloway Park area, officers managed to narrow down an initial 700 square-metre search zone to a tighter section of the vast Glentrool Forest.

DI Crombie, from the Police Scotland major investigation team, said: “The lengths that Ross Willox went to, to dispose of Emma’s body, I have probably never seen anything like that before.

“He took her to an area where he probably thought she’d never be found. The area she was ultimately found in is in a really remote part of the Galloway forest.

STV News
The search for Emma took six weeks.

“It’s probably one of the largest search areas that the major investigation team has ever looked at. It was six weeks of really hard slog.”

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When her body was eventually found by a police search dog, it had been covered in soil and vegetation – a moment of discovery DI Crombie described as “something I will never forget”.

“The main priority for us was getting Emma back for her family,” he said. “It was a bittersweet moment for us but her family are still devastated to this day.”

Building the case against Willox

During the early days of the search, Willox seemed to be concerned for Emma’s safety, leaving several messages on her mobile phone and regularly checking in with police for updates.

He told officers that shortly after she arrived at his house on the night of April 28, she’d driven them both to her flat in Kilmarnock, where Class A drugs were taken.

Crown Office via Contributed
Willox parked Emma’s car in an unusual spot before wiping down the steering wheel.

But as police began to scour CCTV footage and traced mobile phones, Willox quickly moved from being a witness to the prime suspect.

He was captured on camera driving Emma’s BMW into her street at 7.30am on April 29, wiping down the steering wheel and then parking in what her neighbours thought was an unusual spot.

That morning, he was also seen buying bleach and rubber gloves.

Crown Office
Ross Willox was captured on camera buying cleaning products in Poundstretcher.

Later that day, his black Mercedes was spotted en route to Glentrool Forest – at a time he’d told police he was sleeping off the drink and drugs he’d consumed the previous night.

He was then filmed making the same journey the following day, only this time in his wife’s black Jaguar.

That’s when police believe he dumped Emma’s body.

“Ross Willox went to great lengths to try and cover up her murder,” DI Crombie said. “His movements after Emma disappeared were crucial in this investigation – his conduct was highly suspicious.

“Unfortunately, we don’t know what happened inside his house that night, only he knows, but he’s taken Emma’s life in the most disgusting of circumstances.”

While no forensic evidence was ever found inside Willox’s house, DNA experts were able to prove he had been in the driver’s seat of Emma’s car.

The same soil she’d been buried under also provided crucial evidence due to its similarity with earth sampled from a pair of Timberland boots found in his home.

And a police cadaver dog, trained to detect human decomposition, had indicated that a body had been in the boot of the Jaguar.

Guilty of murder

A jury took five hours to find Willox guilty of murder following a five-week trial at the High Court in Glasgow.

Willox now faces life in prison when he is sentenced on June 22.


Man who got girl drunk and left her to die at beauty spot jailed

Mhari O'Neill's body was found by a dog walker after she was left on Edinburgh's Calton Hill in an intoxicated state.

Police Scotland
Schoolgirl: Mhari O'Neill died in December 2018.

A man who killed an underage schoolgirl after buying her drink and abandoning her at a city beauty spot on a winter’s night has been jailed for 38 months.

Ewan Fulton bit Mhari O’Neill on her breast and throttled her before leaving her in an intoxicated state on Edinburgh’s Calton Hill where her body was found by a dog walker.

Fulton, then aged 18, had met the 15-year-old through social media site Yubo, which he later described as being like “Tinder for teenagers”. 

The High Court in Edinburgh heard that even before he met Miss O’Neill on the day of the attack he sent her a message that read: “It is freezing today, should have worn my pimp coat”.

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In a later message, he wrote: “Ur gonna freeze to death OMG.”

/ Paul Devlin via SNS Group
Court: Ewan Fulton has been jailed.

After Miss O’Neill was found dead he told police that he had met her online and was aware that she was 15-years-old.

He said he had bought a large bottle of vodka for them to share after he travelled to Edinburgh from Livingston to meet up with her.

Fulton said after some heavy petting and splitting the drink about 50/50 between them Miss O’Neill was “obviously drunk”.

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He told police: “It was like she had lost all motor skills, she was too drunk to do anything.”

He said she was so intoxicated she kept falling off a bench and could not walk.

He claimed he was starting to panic and knew he needed to get the last train home. He maintained that he told her several times he was leaving but did not get a response as she was “unable to speak”.

The following day the shop worker sent her a text stating: “Are you alive?”

He said he was “freaking out” because he had not heard from her and meant ‘talk to me when you are alive’.

Advocate depute Alex Prentice QC told the court at an earlier hearing that pathologists had decided that on balance they considered that hypothermia, with intoxication, was the most probable mechanism of the Portobello High School pupil’s death.

Fulton, now aged 20, admitted killing Miss O’Neill, who died on December 7 or 8 in 2018, when he appeared at the High Court in Edinburgh last month.

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He took part in sexual activity with the schoolgirl, compressed her neck, culpably and recklessly endangered her health and life, and exposed her to risk of injury and death.

He provided her with alcohol, which resulted in her becoming intoxicated and incapable of looking after herself.

Fulton, of Livingston, West Lothian, abandoned the girl “in a remote and exposed location” in a state of partial undress without means to contact anyone and failed to seek help for her.

The culpable homicide charge stated that he behaved with “utter disregard” for the consequences of his actions towards her.

Fulton was jailed on Thursday and placed on the sex offenders’ register indefinitely.

Judge Norman McFadyen told him: “You had no justification for believing that a severely intoxicated child could safely be abandoned in this remote part of Edinburgh on a cold, wet and windy night.

“There were many things you could have done. You essentially did nothing for her, you panicked and left.

“There was nothing you could do without assistance and you were not willing to get any assistance for Mhari when she was at her most vulnerable.

“I accept that you bitterly regret what happened,

“I consider, because of the gravity of the offence, a custodial sentence is the only appropriate sentence.”

Following Fulton’s sentencing, detective inspector Susan Balfour said: “My thoughts continue to be with Mhari’s family and friends who have shown considerable strength over the past two and a half years while this investigation and proceedings were ongoing.

“Ewan Fulton showed a disregard for Mhari’s safety, obtaining and consuming alcohol with her and then leaving her alone on Calton Hill, an isolated location while she was in a vulnerable condition.

“I would like to thank Mhari’s family, the local communities, media and our partners who assisted with our investigation, which has been challenging, complex and prolonged. As a direct result of our combined efforts, Fulton will have to face the consequences of his actions.

“Police Scotland is committed to protecting our young people from risk and harm and we work closely with partners to ensure the safety and wellbeing of communities across Scotland.

“If you have any concerns about public safety or criminality, please contact Police Scotland on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 to report these to us so we can investigate appropriately.”


‘Man left at death’s door by broken drug addiction services’

Favor UK wants the provision of addiction and rehabilitation services underpinned by law.

Favor UK via Favor UK
Annemarie Ward, chief executive of addiction charity Favor UK, became Jamie's named advocate.

A man has been left at “death’s door” by “broken” drug addiction services in Glasgow, a charity has said.

Jamie has struggled to get the help he needs and said he was told he was “not appropriate” for rehab.

Annemarie Ward, chief executive of addiction charity Favor UK, became Jamie’s named advocate after the 41-year-old became desperate.

“He was begging, he was at death’s door weighing about seven-and-a-half or eight stone,” she told STV News.

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“I started going through the process of advocating for him. That was seven or eight weeks ago and since then we have hit brick wall after brick wall.”

“The system is broken, there is no doubt about that.”

Annemarie Ward, chief executive of Favor UK

Jamie grew up in the care system and took part in the Independent Care Review after suffering from extreme PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) as a result of sexual abuse.

He first became addicted to heroin in his 20s and has been on and off methadone since.

Ms Ward said that Friday was the first time Jamie met his Glasgow Addiction Services case manager, despite asking for rehab for two years.

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“They are acting with impunity across the UK. There is no set standard or legislative guidelines or regulatory bodies that they have to answer to. The system is broken, there is no doubt about that,” Ms Ward said.

Favor UK wants the provision of addiction and rehabilitation services underpinned by law.

Scottish Conservatives leader Douglas Ross raised Jamie’s case in parliament on Thursday and asked Nicola Sturgeon to take “real action”.

Scottish Parliament via Scottish Parliament

He said: “He has been trying to get into rehab for two years but keeps hearing he is ‘not appropriate’ for rehab.

“This man is at death’s door. Today he is having a mental health assessment. Just another hoop he has to jump through because he wants to get better.

“His only hope it seems is private rehab because of a charity’s generosity. This individual case is shocking. But it is being repeated all over our country.”

The Tories will publish a draft Right to Recovery Bill before parliament’s summer recess next week. The legislation would give drug users a right to residential rehab treatment – “a right in law to the treatment they need”, Ross said.

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The First Minister said the Bill could be fast-tracked through Holyrood, like Covid-legislation, if there was consensus across the chamber.

Scottish Parliament via Scottish Parliament

She said: “I will look with an open mind at any proposals that are brought forward, including proposals for legislation.”

Sturgeon said the Scottish Government had “failed in aspects of drugs policy” but was “determined to get it right”.

More than 1200 people died in Scotland last year as a result of drug misuse – the highest annual figure on record.

It is the worst rate in Europe and three-and-half times that of the UK as a whole in terms of the number of deaths per million people.

Joe FitzPatrick resigned as minister with responsibility for drugs policy in December. His replacement Angela Constance will set out “significant financial investment” that will back up new standards on care and treatment on Thursday afternoon.

Glasgow City Health and Social Care Partnership has been approached for comment.

‘Not acceptable’ that health staff faced low supply of PPE

Dr Graeme Eunson said that despite planning exercises undertaken, the NHS was 'not prepared' for the pandemic.

Krisanapong Detraphiphat via Getty Images
An Audit Scotland report indicated that Scotland's central stockpile of PPE ran 'very low' in the early stages of the pandemic.

It is “simply not acceptable” that frontline health staff were left with less than one day’s worth of PPE at the start of the pandemic due to poor planning, according to the chair of the BMA’s Scottish Consultants Committee.

Dr Graeme Eunson said that despite planning exercises having been undertaken, the NHS was not prepared for the pandemic.

It comes after an Audit Scotland report was published on Thursday which indicated that Scotland’s central stockpile of PPE ran “very low” in the early stages of the Covid-19 crisis.

The report also found that a surge in prices for PPE amidst increased demand cost the NHS £37.4m more than normal.

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Speaking to STV News, Dr Eunson said he hopes that the lessons are learned from the report to ensure that the NHS is better prepared for future unexpected health crises.

“I think what we knew was that despite multiple planning exercises, the NHS simply wasn’t prepared for this pandemic,” he said.

“And the shortages of PPE, particularly at the beginning of the pandemic in April, that we all faced was part of that failure to plan, or failure to follow through on the planning exercises.”

He continued: “Central stocks of PPE were down to less than one day’s worth of supply for the staff on the frontline.

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“It’s simply not acceptable for staff to have been put in that position due to poor planning.

“And we hope that the Audit Scotland report is going to allow the NHS to learn the lessons and make sure that both the remainder of this pandemic, but future unexpected health crises, are better prepared for to protect our staff and ultimately, protect our patients.”

Dr Eunson also said that some health staff struggled to acquire masks that fitted due to their design.

He said: “What we did definitely see at the beginning was that most of the personal protective equipment were designed for white, male faces, like mine.

“But, if you were a woman, which makes up the majority of the healthcare workforce, or someone from a different ethnicity, then you struggled to get a mask that fitted.

“And those are the groups who were most at risk because there weren’t enough masks to fit everybody and that was the pressure point that we saw a lot of.

“We saw a lot of lack of visors, a lot of hoods that would fit anyone, those were lacking, and as I said, often the masks that were available didn’t fit every face.”

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He added: “There was a definite worry that you’d turn up to work one day and find out that the wrong brand of mask had been supplied and it didn’t fit and therefore you weren’t protected.”

Dr Eunson said that the government needs to be “ahead of the evidence” and to “plan for the worst case scenario”.

He said: “I think stock levels are now much better, but what we don’t yet know is if the transmission of this variant changes, if we believe that it’s moving away from being aerosol spread to airborne spread, then that will have a significant impact on the type of PPE that we need.

“Most people in the hospital setting are using simple fluid resistant surgical masks, but if we need the proper tightly fitting FFP3 masks for all patient interactions, that will create pressure on the system.

“So, the government needs to be ahead of the evidence and plan for the worst case scenario, rather than assume the best, because ultimately, it’s the staff that need the protection because without the staff, there is no NHS to look after our patients.”

Insight by political editor Colin Mackay

Hours away from running out of PPE in Scotland’s hospitals sounds pretty scary – and if you cast your mind back to April last year it was.

Doctors, nurses and care home workers were all warning about the risk they and patients ran because of a shortage of personal protective equipment after the outbreak of coronavirus.

Thursday’s Audit Scotland report lays bare how close we came to running out – just eight hours away in the case of long-sleeved gowns for medics.

Scottish Labour raised the report at First Minister’s Questions. Nicola Sturgeon made it clear that Scotland never actually ran out of PPE. Anas Sarwar said the message from the frontline was a bit different with doctors and nurses telling of having to reuse visors.

The First Minister said Scotland never had to rely on mutual aid for PPE from the rest of the UK, but England and Wales needed mutual aid supplies from Scotland. The point she makes is that PPE was in short supply all over the world.

At the start of the pandemic all of Scotland’s PPE was imported, at First Minister’s Questions she pointed out the majority is now manufactured here.

The point the opposition makes is that we should not have been so close to running out.

The point Audit Scotland makes is that it should never happen again.

This is just a small part of the story of how Scotland has handled Covid, for the whole story we will have to wait for a public inquiry. The questions for ministers on that is how long we have to wait.


London calling: Tartan Army head to Wembley for crunch tie

Thousands of Scotland fans are expected to make the journey south.

Craig Williamson via SNS Group

The Tartan Army have started making their way south for Friday’s crunch Euro 2020 clash with England.

Scotland take on the group favourites at Wembley in their second game after Monday’s 2-0 defeat to Czech Republic.

Thousands of Scottish fans are expected to make the journey despite pleas from politicians including London Mayor Sadiq Kahn to stay away if they don’t have match tickets or a safe place to watch the game.

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Tartan Army: Fans arriving in London on Thursday.

Fans have been congregating in the city throughout Thursday, with Scotland songs and chants heard throughout the day and fans streamed in through rail, road and air.

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Confidence levels among the tartan faithful have been building as the game draws closer.

Steve Clarke’s men go into the game knowing they need to take at least a point to keep any realistic hopes of reaching the last 16 alive.

England, on the other hand, know a win against the Scots would guarantee them a place in the knock-out stages after their opening game victory over Croatia.

Several train services between Scotland and London have been sold out with fans eager to attend.

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Wembley will only be at 25% capacity for the game, meaning many loyal supporters will have been left unable to get a ticket.

Craig Williamson via SNS Group
London calling: Scotland fans arrive at Euston Station ahead of Friday’s Euro 2020 match against England. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

Pubs and bars will also be limited in the number of people they can let in, with most completely booked out weeks ago.

Scotland, who are competing in their first major men’s tournament since 1998, have never qualified for the knockout stages in ten previous attempts.

Group D rivals Croatia and Czech Republic also play on Friday with a game at Hampden.

More on:

Daily Covid cases hit highest number since late January

There were 140 people in hospital on Wednesday with recently confirmed Covid-19, up from 133 on Tuesday.

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Covid-19: There were 140 people in hospital on Wednesday with recently confirmed Covid-19, up from 133 on Tuesday.

Scotland has recorded its highest number of new coronavirus cases in a day since late January.

The latest Scottish Government figures show there were four coronavirus patient deaths and 1317 new cases in the past 24 hours.

The daily case number is the highest since the 1330 recorded on January 27, amid the lockdown for the second wave of the virus.

The deaths recorded in the past 24 hours take the toll under this measure, of people who first tested positive for the virus within the previous 28 days, to 7688.

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The daily test positivity rate was 4.6%, up from 3.4% the previous day.

There were 140 people in hospital on Wednesday with recently confirmed Covid-19, up from 133 on Tuesday.

Twelve people were in intensive care, down from 15 the previous day.

A total of 3,571,726 people have now received their first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine and 2,516,066 have had their second.


McVitie’s issues redundancy notices as owner ‘refuses to engage’

Unions say owners Pladis refused to participate with the Scottish Government established action group.

STV News
Workers at the biscuit factory in Glasgow staged a demonstration in May following the closure announcement.

Glasgow McVitie’s workers have received redundancy notices as a fight goes on to save the factory.

Pladis, the global company that owns the Tollcross site, said the closure would mean almost 500 people’s jobs were threatened and formally issued redundancies on Thursday.

Trade Unions Unite Scotland and GMB Scotland, jointly representing 472 of the McVitie’s workers, branded the move “an absolute disgrace” and claimed the company refused to engage with the action group set up by the Scottish Government.

With a meeting of the group, chaired by finance minister Kate Forbes, scheduled for June 23 to discuss proposals to maintain a presence at the Tollcross factory, GMB Scotland organiser David Hume said issuing redundancy notices was “an act of extreme bad faith”.

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Operations at the factory are expected to cease later in 2022 with production of Hobnobs and Rich Tea Biscuits moving to one of six Pladis sites in England.

Pat McIlvogue, Unite industrial officer, said: “It’s an absolute disgrace and slap in the face to the workforce that not only has McVitie’s formally issued redundancy notices but they are also refusing to engage with the action group established by the Scottish Government.”

David Murray, Pladis UK and Ireland managing director, previously said action had to be taken at the Tollcross plant to tackle “excess capacity”.

Mr Hume said: “David Murray needs to be hauled by the cabinet secretary before the members of the action group because this is a profitable business with an innovative workforce that can and should have a future in the east end of Glasgow.”

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A petition calling for the McVitie’s factory to be saved has more than 50,000 signatures.

Forbes said the Action Group would meet next week to see what could be done to support affected staff and secure these jobs and asked Pladis to engage.

She said: “This is really disappointing news and my thoughts are with those affected and their families. This will be a very anxious and distressing time for them, especially during these uncertain times, and we stand ready to provide support.

“The Action Group has met frequently to discuss what could be done to save the site and the jobs and just last week we presented a series of proposals as an alternative to site closure. We are therefore extremely disappointed Pladis has decided to notify staff they are at risk of redundancy.”

A spokesperson for pladis said: “We can confirm that we have today issued the HR1 notice; a letter which is a part of the formal consultation process on our proposal to close our factory in Tollcross. ​

“In recent weeks we have been frequently engaging with our trade union representatives and the Action Group co-chaired by cabinet secretary Kate Forbes and councillor Susan Aitken. We remain committed to meaningful consultation with our employees and their representatives.”


Man searched ‘how to kill a woman’ before stabbing victim

Brandon Bloice attempted to murder the woman after knifing her in the back on September 21, 2019.

© Google Maps 2020
Attack: Man stabbed stranger in the back after searching 'how to kill a woman' online.

A man who searched “how to kill a woman” online went on to stab a stranger in the back as she walked to a shop.

Brandon Bloice attempted to murder the woman after knifing her in the back in the early hours of September 21, 2019.

The 22-year-old had also planned to rape the woman before fleeing the scene when she yelled for help.

He attacked his victim on Carpenter Street in Perth, minutes after following another woman who managed to run away. 

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Bloice – a convicted sex attacker once ordered to alert social workers if he ever started a relationship – now faces a jail term after he appeared at the High Court in Glasgow on Thursday.

He pled guilty to following the woman and attempting to murder her all with intent to rape.

Bloice was remanded in custody pending sentencing in August.

The victim had gone to her local Asda store in Perth around 12.40am that night.

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She was walking alone and not aware of anyone near her.

Prosecutor Shanti Maguire told the hearing: “As she got to an alleyway near a design shop, she felt a sharp pain in her back.

“She screamed and turned around. She saw Bloice facing her.

“She started screaming ‘help, police’ over and over again.

“Bloice ran off in the direction of Perth Concert Hall.”

A number of passers-by rushed to help the bleeding victim.

She was treated at hospital for a single stab wound to the back.

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Bloice was traced to a hostel in the city the next day.

He initially claimed to police: “I do not know what you are on about.”

Officers – who also found clothes matching the attacker – went on to examine phones and a tablet device discovered in his room.

Ms Maguire said: “During the analysis, it was established he had used the search terms ‘how to kill a woman stabbing’ and ‘can a dead woman still get pregnant’.”

The advocate depute added Bloice now accepted the assault was carried out with intent to rape the terrified victim.

She told the court: “Although he did not intend to kill her, he was wickedly reckless as to whether she lived or died as a result of the stab wound.”

After an initial police appeal to catch Bloice, another woman came forward to report how he had tracked her five minutes before the murder bid.

She had felt “uneasy” after noticing him in Perth’s High Street and asked for friends to join her and collect her bike.

The woman eventually said she was “fine” and started walking alone.

However, she then again became aware of Bloice who had made up “significant ground” behind her.

She started running and immediately called her boyfriend.

Ms Maguire said: “Due to Bloice’s actions, the woman was scared and stayed on the phone until she got home.”

On Thursday, Bloice also pled guilty to behaving in a threatening and abusive manner in connection with this incident.

Judge Gillian Wade QC remanded him in custody as sentencing was deferred for reports.


BrewDog pledges independent review after staff concerns

An open letter signed by former staff raised a number of concerns over the atmosphere fostered at the company.

Jeff J Mitchell via Getty Images
BrewDog co-founder James Watt has criticised in the open letter signed by former staff.

BrewDog has pledged an independent review of its “culture and people practices”, after concerns were raised by former staff.

In an open letter published online last week, Punks with Purpose, a group comprised of former employees, highlighted a series of issues at the craft beer firm, including that it had been “built on a cult of personality”.

The group also alleged the company had sought to “exploit publicity” in order to further their business goals.

In response, co-founder James Watt, who was singled out for criticism in the letter by the group, apologised to staff and promised to take action.

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Watt has now said that the firm is “very close” to appointing an independent agency to conduct a review of its culture and people practices to “ensure we can make positive and inclusive change at all levels of our business”. 

Writing on LinkedIn, Watt said that the findings of the review would be shared internally and externally before the end of the year, pledging that as part of that process, BrewDog would reach out to the signatories of the letter.

He wrote: “I am ultimately responsible for the culture of our business. The letter that ex-colleagues wrote to us is 100% my fault.

“To all of the signatories and to all of our team and community who were affected by the letter, I am sorry.”

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As well as the independent review, Watt said that BrewDog is conducting a “full review” with each department head of team structures in the coming week, along with sending exit interviews to all leavers from the past 12 months.

Watt said: “I want to be very candid about some mistakes that I have made that have detrimentally impacted our culture.

“In the hard and fast environment of high growth, I have all too often neglected many important people elements of our business.

“Furthermore, despite surviving C-19 due to a phenomenal effort from our amazing team I had to make some very hard decisions to ensure our survival and these decisions have taken a considerable human toll on our business and had a negative impact.

“Additionally, some PR mistakes that I have made in our past have also had a detrimental impact on culture. I can promise that I will not make these mistakes again.”

He added: “I can’t possibly have all the answers at the moment but my commitment to our team is that I am going to throw my heart and soul into working with them to fix these issues.”


Whisky industry welcomes five-year halt to US tariffs

A 25% tariff had been placed on single malt Scotch whisky by the Trump administration.

Wiratgasem via Getty Images
Whisky: Five-year halt to US tariffs.

The Scotch whisky industry has welcomed news the US will not impose tariffs on the spirit for five years, following a breakthrough in talks on the Airbus-Boeing dispute.

A 25% tariff was placed on single malt Scotch whisky by the Trump administration as part of a trade dispute between the US and EU countries over aerospace subsidies.

Washington agreed to temporarily halt tariffs in March in a bid to negotiate a solution.

After talks between UK international trade secretary Liz Truss and US trade representative Katherine Tai, both sides have agreed to halt retaliatory tariffs for five years.

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The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) estimates more than £600m in exports was lost due to the trade barrier.

Other UK industries including cashmere and construction vehicles were also affected by the trade dispute, which had made exporting to the US harder since October 2019.

Karen Betts, chief executive of the SWA, said: “This is very good news for Scotch whisky.

“The past two years have been extremely damaging for our industry, with the loss of over £600m in exports to the United States caused by a 25% tariff on single malt Scotch whisky imposed as a result of the long-running dispute between US and European aircraft manufacturers.

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“This deal removes the threat of tariffs being reimposed on Scotch whisky next month and enables distillers to focus on recovering exports to our largest and most valuable export market.

“Today’s agreement is a culmination of many months of intensive negotiations and we’re grateful to Liz Truss, international trade secretary, and Katherine Tai, US trade representative, and their teams for their hard work.

“Given, however, that this deal suspends tariffs rather than fully resolving the underlying dispute, what’s critical now is that the governments and aerospace companies on both sides stick to their commitments and work with one another constructively.

“I want to note too that American whiskies remain subject to tariffs on entry into the UK and EU as a result of a separate dispute on steel and aluminium, and we hope these tariffs can also be resolved quickly.”

As part of the deal struck between the US and UK governments, both sides agreed to form a working group on the civil aviation industry.

They have agreed that research and development practices will not harm the other, as well as agreeing to co-operate against “non-market practices of third countries”.

Truss said: “This deal will support jobs across the country and is fantastic news for major employers like Scotch whisky and sectors like aerospace.

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“We took the decision to de-escalate the dispute at the start of the year when we became a sovereign trading nation, which was crucial to breaking the deadlock and bringing the US to the table.

“I want to thank Katherine personally for her role in making this happen.

“Today’s deal draws a line under an incredibly damaging issue and means we can focus on taking our trading relationship with the US to the next level, including working more closely to challenge unfair practices by nations like China and using the power of free trade to build back better from the pandemic.”

SNP MP David Linden welcomed the removal of tariffs but he claimed the UK Government had dragged its feet on the issue.

He said: “From the outset, Scotch whisky should never have been caught in the crossfire of this trade dispute and today’s news will see the industry in Scotland breathe a massive sigh of relief.

“Whilst this announcement is very welcome after months of cross-party campaigning, the losses to Scotch whisky exports have been eye-watering and it will take time for the industry to get back on its feet.

“That’s why further support is absolutely vital.”


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