Sex predator jailed for campaign of abuse against four children

Colin Ritchie, 56, was sentenced at the High Court in Glasgow on Wednesday.

Jailed: Colin Ritchie, 56, was sentenced at the High Court in Glasgow on Wednesday. Georgeclerk via IStock
Jailed: Colin Ritchie, 56, was sentenced at the High Court in Glasgow on Wednesday.

A sex predator who tried to evade justice has been jailed for 11 years.

Colin Ritchie preyed on four children during an 18-year campaign of abuse.

The crimes mainly occurred in Elgin and Fochabers, both in Moray.

The 56-year-old had been due to face the allegations at a high court hearing in March 2020. However, Ritchie failed to show before being eventually held and hauled into the dock.


The first offender was sentenced at the High Court in Glasgow on Wednesday.

He was previously found guilty after a trial in Aberdeen of 11 charges including lewd and libidinous behaviour, indecent assault, breaching bail and failing to appear for the earlier court hearing.

Judge Graham Buchanan told Ritchie: “You were convicted of serious sexual offences against children.

“In the course of the crimes against one boy, it is apparent that you groomed and corrupted him over a substantial period.


“This was to the point that he believed the depraved conduct was perfectly normal.

“It is inevitable that what you did to him and the other victims resulted in long-lasting consequences and psychologically damaging for them.”

Ritchie – who appeared via video link from prison – repeatedly shook his head as he was sentenced.

The abuse occurred between 1988 and 2006. Ritchie targeted two boys and two girls during that time. 

One victim was as young as seven when Ritchie struck.

Bill Adam, defending, said Ritchie continues to maintain his innocence.

Judge Buchanan also placed Ritchie on the sex offenders’ list indefinitely.

‘Life will never be the same again after brain tumour diagnosis’

The full report will be shown on Scotland Tonight at 7.30pm on Thursday.

STV News

“The way the doctor broke the news to me… his words were actually, ‘your life is never going to be the same again’.”

It was the moment everything changed for Hayley Smith, 30.

Just one year after marrying Matthew, 32, her husband started complaining about headaches.

He then received the news he was living with a brain tumour.


Surgery successfully removed some of the tumour, but in April last year it had returned more aggressively.

That news came at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, which delayed treatment.

When surgery eventually took place six months later, the tumour had increased in size.

STV News
Support: Hayley Smith’s husband Matthew has been moved into a hospice.

Mrs Smith, from Fauldhouse in West Lothian, told Scotland Tonight: “I would never, ever have known that there was anything wrong with him.


“Unfortunately, Matthew is now in a hospice. I don’t think he has long left, I think a few weeks or maybe into a few months.

“They found two small bits of growth in different parts of Matthew’s brain, and then said, ‘but we can’t do anything about it because of Covid. I think we both just fell to bits.

“Brain tumours don’t wait, they can grow very quickly. I think if they could have caught it when it was much smaller, it might not have had to go to surgery.”

‘You get this feeling of just a massive part of your life being sliced away’

Brain tumours kill more people under the age of 40 than any other cancer in the UK. Late detection in an emergency department also accounts for 64% of all diagnosis.

Duncan McLean was in his final year at the University in Bristol when his headaches began.

After returning home to Gullane, East Lothian, in 2016, he visited his GP but the pain did not go away.  

On his fourth trip to the doctor, he was referred for a CT scan, which revealed a brain tumour.


Just two days later, the 20-year-old died in hospital.

STV News
Campaigner: Iain McLean, Duncan’s father.

His father Iain told Scotland Tonight: “We had no thought that this was going to be so sudden.

“He then had seizures overnight, two seizures and was effectively at that point brain-dead.

“He was on a ventilator and we had to go and consult with the doctors and agree to switch off the ventilator.

“You get this feeling of just a massive part of your life being sliced away.”

Mr McLean has now helped raise more than £120,000 for The Brain Tumour Charity.

He said: “Better and quicker diagnosis is really important. Brain tumours tend to be needles in haystacks.

“Awareness should help get people diagnosed early and give people a better chance.

“But we need to support the research on a long-term basis, because in brain tumours, the treatments have not improved for almost 40 years.”

‘The bottom of your world does fall out’

Only 12% of people in the UK live more than five years after diagnosis of a brain tumour.

Rhudi Kennedy was a schoolboy when his family rushed him to hospital urging for a scan.

He had been suffering from headaches for nine months and had been to visit a number of medical professionals.

It was this scan that found a tumour the size of a tennis ball. But seven years on, it has been successfully removed.

STV News
Survivor: Rhudi Kennedy was a schoolboy when his family rushed him to hospital urging for a scan.

The 20-year-old, from Blanefield but who studies and lives in St Andrews, said: “They gave me a CT scan reluctantly, and about 30 minutes later they came back – just said they’d found a tennis ball-sized tumour on my brain.

“The bottom of your world does fall out. But strangely it was actually relief that I felt. This gave an actual reason as to why my pain was there and how it could go away.”

Mr Kennedy said he feels “lucky” to still be alive, adding: “It’s all about raising awareness for health professionals because it’s easy to say that barely anyone has a brain tumour.

“You can’t just ignore the real cases. This is real and we need to do something about it.”

‘This is the first of its kind’

Currently CT scans are the only effective way of identifying a brain tumour.

Clinical trials are under way on a blood test that hopes to diagnosis brain tumours at their earliest point.

Created by company Dxcover, based at the University of Strathclyde, and with support from the University of Edinburgh, early studies show the test can detect tumours within one hour.

Dr Matt Baker, co-found of Dxcover, said: “We expect, if everything goes well, we expect this to be in use within three to five years. This is the first of its kind.

“If we can identify tumours early enough, then surgery will be more successful.

“I think if we can carry on innovating and carry on researching, we will see the benefit coming through and increase patients quality of life straight away.”

The full report will be shown on Scotland Tonight at 7.30pm on Thursday.

Police investigating Alex Salmond harassment inquiry leaks

Police Scotland said it was investigating possibly illegal sharing of information.

Jeff J Mitchell via Getty Images
Salmond previously said he would make a complaint to Police Scotland regarding the leak.

Police are investigating “potentially unlawful” leaks about the Scottish Government’s inquiry into allegations of harassment against former First Minister Alex Salmond.

The Daily Record newspaper broke the news of the allegations from two female civil servants on August 23, 2018.

Salmond previously said he would make a complaint to Police Scotland regarding the leak.

He also said a new book, detailing the breakdown of the relationship between himself and his successor Nicola Sturgeon, “potentially breaches the criminal law in a number of ways”.


The book contains extracts from the Scottish Government investigation which is said to have upheld five charges against Salmond at its conclusion.

But the former First Minister won a legal case against the Scottish Government regarding a breach of guidelines during its investigation and its findings were set aside.

Then, a jury at the High Court in Edinburgh cleared the former SNP leader of 13 charges in March 2020.

Inquiries by the government and the information commissioner failed to determine how the Daily Record got hold of the leaks.


In March, the women at the centre of the inquiry said they would make a formal complaint to the Scottish Parliament after their evidence was leaked to the paper.

An inquiry into the government’s handling of the harassment complaints reported its findings on March 23, concluding it had been “significantly flawed”.

A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “We have a received two complaints regarding the potential unlawful disclosure of information which are being investigated.”

Body found in woodland during search for missing Army veteran

Tributes have been paid to the 36-year-old who was originally from Belfast.

Police Scotland
Tributes have been paid to the Dean who was originally from Belfast.

A body has been discovered in a Highland woodland following a search for a missing Army veteran.

Dean Lockhart had been reported missing from Munlochy after last being seen at around 9.30am on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, at around 4pm, a body was found in a forested area near the village in the Black Isle.

Police Scotland said there were no suspicious circumstances surrounding the death and that a report will be submitted to the Procurator Fiscal.


Tributes have been paid to the Dean who was originally from Belfast.

Glentoran Football Club in the east of the city issued a statement on Wednesday night.

A spokesperson said: “We’re deeply saddened to learn the news that Glentoran Football Club fan Dean Lockhart has passed away.

“Our thought are with Dean’s nearest and dearest in this difficult time. One of our own”

Consultation underway on third attempt to legalise assisted dying

An MSP has put forward proposals, which he insisted would allow people to have a 'peaceful, dignified death'.

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Assisted dying: Consultation underway.

A consultation is being launched as part of the third attempt to legalise assisted dying in Scotland – with both supporters and opponents of the Bill calling on people to have their say.

Liberal Democrat MSP Liam McArthur has put forward proposals, which he insisted would allow people to have a “peaceful, dignified death”.

His Member’s Bill seeks to legalise assisted dying as a choice for adults who are both terminally ill and mentally competent.

He has also insisted there are “strong safeguards” built into his Assisted Dying Scotland Bill – which is being supported by Dignity in Dying Scotland, Friends at the End and the Humanist Society Scotland.


But the group Care Not Killing – which includes the Catholic Church and the Muslim Council of Scotland – said it expected thousands of Scots would sign a petition it has launched against the legislation.

Chief executive Dr Gordon Macdonald said there were “significant concerns” about McArthur’s Bill.

Noting that MSPs had twice rejected similar legislation, most recently in 2015, Macdonald said: “The last time MSPs voted against a Bill there were more than 15,000 names on our petition. I am confident the total will be higher this time.”

His comments came as the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland warned: “Legalising assisted suicide would put immeasurable pressure on vulnerable people including those with disabilities to end their lives prematurely, for fear of being a financial, emotional or care burden on others.”


Meanwhile the Muslim Council of Scotland said it was “deeply concerned” about plans to change the law.

It insisted: “Life is a divine gift and trust. Our priority, therefore, must be on care and wellbeing, particularly of those for whom personal circumstances may drive them, or leave them vulnerable to coercion, towards assisted suicide.”

Michael Veitch, parliamentary officer for the campaigning charity CARE for Scotland, said it was “dispiriting” that Holyrood was again debating the issue.

With MSPs having twice rejected similar Bills, he said: “They didn’t do this on a whim, or because they lacked compassion. They did so because of the overwhelming evidence that assisted suicide is a harmful and regressive practice, that threatens to undermine the safety and the value of vulnerable and marginalised groups.”

However Ally Thomson, director of the organisation Dignity in Dying Scotland, said: “The time has come for a new law on assisted dying.

“The overwhelming majority of people in Scotland support a change in the law and now Scots can have their say on the vitally important issue of how we die.

“The current blanket ban on assisted dying does not work, it creates heartache and injustice for so many families and it is time it was rewritten.”


McArthur said: “In my time as an MSP I have heard from many dying people and grieving families who have been failed by the current blanket ban on assisted dying.

“I have watched other countries, such as Australia and New Zealand put new laws in place to ensure their citizens can have a peaceful and dignified death and I believe that the time is right for Scotland to look again at providing our dying people with more choice at the end of life.

“The consultation sets out a blueprint for how we can do this safely and compassionately.”

He continued: “The proposed law will work alongside palliative care and apply only to terminally ill, mentally competent adults. It features strong safeguards that put transparency, protection and compassion at the core of a prospective new law.

“How we die is an issue for our whole society and I am keen that this public consultation encourages a nationwide discussion on what we need to do to give dying people the help and support they need to have a good death. I encourage people to respond with their views and experiences.”

Recording of ‘surreal’ moment mum finds out she won £300,000

At first Sandra Devine thought she had only won £1000.

The National Lottery via Handout
Johnstone mum-of-three Sandra Devine discovered she had won £300,000 on a National Lottery Scratchcard.

A recording of the moment a Scottish mum was told she had won £300,000 on a scratchcard has been released.

Sandra Devine, from Johnstone, was with her husband Martin on his birthday when the couple were unsure about what their winnings were.

“At first I thought we’d won £100 and my husband thought it was £1000,” the 37-year-old said.

“When I found out we had won £300,000 I was so shocked.”


The couple started jumping around their living room.

“To win on Martin’s birthday was the cherry on top of the cake, it was the best present ever,” the mum-of-three said.

“At first, he didn’t believe me, then he started cheering. We just couldn’t believe it – it was surreal.”

The phone call to Camelot reveals Sandra’s reaction to the news and comes as The National Lottery shares research into how Scots react to winning big.

The National Lottery via Handout
The National Lottery Pictured Winner Sandra Devine from Johnstone

Top of the list is jumping up and down, with over a third of people surveyed (35%) saying this would probably be their initial reaction.

The study goes on to reveal that players would likely kiss their partner next (34%) before screaming at the top of their lungs (33%) or bursting into tears (32%).

Andy Carter, senior winners advisor at The National Lottery, said he has seen every reaction possible.

“Unsurprisingly, we get to see a lot of happy people in our job but their reactions certainly differ,” he said.

“Some people feel sick, some people jump up and down, some people are having a party when we arrive, others haven’t told a single soul – I’ve even had people fainting.

“I’ve been there with winners when they reveal to family and friends that they’ve won. That’s lovely as it’s a very private moment for them and you can see the genuine shock and delight on people’s faces.”

Mental health services in Scotland affected by ‘racial inequalities’

A review found people who are black or of mixed ethnicity were seen as a greater risk to themselves and others.

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Mental health: Services 'affected by racial inequalities'.

Mental health services in Scotland are affected by “racial inequalities”, a review has indicated.

The application of mental health legislation differs across ethnic groups, while perceived risks either to oneself or to others also varied across ethnicities, according to the report by the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland (MWC), which examined data for the past 10 years.

It found people who are black or of mixed ethnicity were seen as a greater risk to themselves and others, whereas all categories of white people were more often seen as a risk only to themselves.

The greatest difference was between black women, 48.4% of whom were perceived as a risk both to themselves and others, and white Scottish women, for whom the figure was 33.8% .


Risk to oneself and/or to others is one of the criteria for authorising involuntary treatment.

A key safeguard of having an independent specialist consent to all emergency detentions, which experts have previously said is too low across the board, was lowest for black people.

Fewer than half (45%) of detentions involving black people had the safeguard, compared with 53% of detentions among white Scots, the report added.

The MWC added it wants better recording of data, adding that “time and again” its investigators found a lack of information of ethnicity, both for mental health patients and staff, in records.


Some 32 people, half of whom were refugees, with “lived experience” of mental health difficulties, either their own or as a carer or volunteer, described difficulties accessing treatment.

The report said: “When they did have contact with mental health services, some described how they did not feel that their stories were understood and at times, believed.

“They experienced difficulties in recounting narratives around the asylum process which they found traumatic.”

“Time and again we found that information on ethnicity had not been recorded and reported.

The interviewees also described a “constant drip of micro-aggressions”, which are events not explicitly racist but deemed discriminatory, such as one participant feeling targeted when a security guard tailed her in a shop.

The report, Racial Inequalities and Mental Health in Scotland, was prompted by the notorious killing of George Floyd in the US and “racial disparities in health outcomes” during the Covid-19 pandemic.

It makes a total of 30 recommendations to health and political authorities across the public sector, many of which include directions to capture better data.


Elsewhere, about one-third of staff who provided details of experiences of racism, of whom almost all were white Scots, said they had colleagues who had been racially abused.

Seven in 10 staff said there had been gaps in “equality and diversity” training, including on hidden disabilities, gender identity pronouns and unconscious bias.

Dr Arun Chopra, medical director of the MWC for Scotland, said: “The murder of George Floyd in the US and the subsequent resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement focused attention on how people from minoritised ethnic backgrounds continue to be discriminated against across the world.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has also focused attention on health inequalities and particularly on racial disparities in health outcomes.

“With those two global events as drivers, we wanted to explore how well Scotland’s mental health sector performs in relation to racial equality.

“We found that almost a third of our professional survey respondents reported that they had seen or experienced racism directed at their NHS colleagues.

“Time and again we found that information on ethnicity had not been recorded and reported.

“Poor quality data might seem simply a bureaucratic issue, but it is more than that – without gathering accurate information we cannot hope to properly understand whether or not policies are being delivered for people or understand the extent of the disparities in health outcomes and interventions.

“The span of recommendations in this report reflects that delivering a service that is truly fair for all will require a collective effort across civil society. We are not there yet.

“I hope this report leads to a series of actions within mental health services and is the start of a much wider discussion.

“We know that Scotland’s mental health services are under enormous pressure but we need them to never lose sight of the importance of serving all of our communities”.

Schools urged to allow students to join climate protests

A series of demonstrations will be held this week to mark the return of the regular climate strikes popularised by Swedish activist Greta Thunberg.

Ronald Patrick via Getty Images
Protester: Teenage activist Greta Thunberg.

Scottish schools should allow pupils to attend climate protests on Friday, the Children and Young People’s Commissioner has said.

A series of demonstrations will be held this week to mark the return of the regular climate strikes popularised by Swedish activist Greta Thunberg.

Fridays for Future Scotland will lead the strikes, and Children and Young People’s Commissioner Bruce Adamson has written to the heads of education in each local council asking for pupils not to be penalised for attending.

The protests, Mr Adamson said, will likely have an impact on the learning of those who attend, but have a wider importance to their education.


“Choosing to strike will undoubtedly have a short-term impact on children and young people’s school-based learning,” he wrote to the 32 directors of education.

“However, their actions as human rights defenders in bringing attention to the threat of climate change and their demands for those in power to take action is part of their broader education.

“We should recognise the courage that children and young people are demonstrating in their commitment to addressing climate change as an urgent and acute human rights issue.”

Advocating that youngsters who attend the strikes are not adversely impacted, he added: “It is important that when children and young people take these peaceful and powerful actions, they are not silenced, discouraged or punished.


“I trust that you as education leaders will recognise the importance of this urgent global issue and will ensure that the children and young people taking part in climate strikes are given the support to which they are entitled.”

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Police can now issue warnings for the possession of Class A drugs

Lord Advocate says a recorded police warning for possession offences is 'appropriate' for all classes of drugs.

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People found in possession of Class A drugs for personal use can now be issued with a recorded police warning instead of facing automatic prosecution, following a review of guidance by the Lord Advocate.

Dorothy Bain QC, who was appointed Scotland’s most senior law officer in June, told MSPs on Wednesday that she had decided to implement an extension of recorded police warning guidelines.

She said the move does not amount to decriminalisation for the possession of Class A drugs, which include crack cocaine, cocaine, ecstasy (MDMA), heroin, LSD, magic mushrooms, methadone and methamphetamine (crystal meth).

The recorded police warning scheme enables officers to deal with a wide range of low level offences by issuing a warning on the spot or retrospectively, in the form of a notice.


The guidelines previously permitted the police to issue such warnings for possession of Class B and C drugs.

But the guidance has changed following a review ordered by previous lord advocate James Wolffe QC.

Bain said: “I have considered the review and I have decided that an extension of the recorded police warning guidelines to include possession offences for Class A drugs is appropriate.

“Police officers may, therefore, choose to issue a recorded police warning for simple possession offences for all classes of drugs.”


Bain said the scheme extends to drug possession offences only, and not supply.

Officers will retain the ability to report appropriate cases to the procurator fiscal, while accused persons retain the right to reject the offer of a warning.

The announcement comes after drug deaths hit a record high in Scotland during the coronavirus pandemic.

Figures published by the National Records of Scotland (NRS) in July revealed 1339 drug-related deaths in 2020 – a 5% increase on the previous year’s statistics and the largest number since records began in 1996.

It also means drug-related deaths have hit record levels for seven consecutive years.

Scotland continues to have the worst drug death rate in Europe, with 21.2 deaths per 1000 of the population, more than three-and-a-half times higher than the rest of the UK.

Bain said that a warning or fine may be an “appropriate, proportionate response” for some people caught in supply of Class A drugs.


She said approximately two thirds of people reported to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, where the only offence reported is possession of drugs, are dealt with by alternatives to prosecution – mainly by being offered a financial penalty.

She said: “Any alternative to prosecution: warnings, fines or diversion, are offers only. An accused person always has the right to reject such an offer and there will be cases where prosecution is the appropriate response in the public interest.

“Where an accused person is subsequently found guilty, the courts, in turn, have a range of sentencing disposals appropriate to the individual accused and offence.

“The range of options available to police, prosecutors and courts reflects the fact that in Scotland there is no one size fits all response to an individual found in possession of a controlled substance or an individual dependent on drugs.”

The move, which remains dependent on the discretion of individual officers and could still see those in possession of drugs prosecuted, has been called “de facto de-criminalisation” by the Scottish Tories.

Scottish Tory MSP Jamie Greene said it would not help to address the needs of drug users.

“Scotland’s drug deaths crisis is our national shame, but surely the way to tackle it is by improving access to treatment and rehabilitation,” he said.

“Not to dilute how seriously we treat the possession of Class A drugs, deadly drugs, like heroin, crystal meth and crack cocaine – the scourges of our streets and the scourges of our society.

“The answer to our drug deaths crisis is treatment, not de facto de-criminalisation by the back door, as is the case today.”

Labour MSP Clare Baker welcomed the change, and asked if the announcement would help with the establishment of safe consumption rooms – which would allow drug users a place to go to take drugs and potentially even supply them with substances.

The Lord Advocate said the change to the guidance was “entirely different” to the proposed safe consumption rooms, which would require a waiver from the UK Government to the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 to ensure users and staff were not criminalised.

Assistant chief constable Gary Ritchie, head of drug strategy at Police Scotland, said the Lord Advocate’s decision “gives officers another tool to support those at risk of becoming vulnerable in our communities”.

He said: “A recorded police warning is still a criminal justice disposal, which remains on a person’s criminal record.

“They are used to address low level offending. Issuing such a warning is not the only option available to officers dealing with people in these circumstances and officers can use their discretion to determine the best course of action.”

Ritchie said recorded police warnings would be “inappropriate for persistent or serious offenders”, adding they will still be reported to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service.

He said: “Alongside our focus on improving the safety and wellbeing of Scotland’s people, places and communities through our harm reduction work, we remain steadfastly committed to tackling those who bring misery to our communities by dealing drugs and taking advantage of people who are at their most vulnerable.

“We continue to work alongside UK partners to make Scotland a hostile environment for serious and organised crime.

“Police Scotland is already engaged in further innovations to address the country’s drug death figures, including the Naloxone test of change. We continue to explore further new approaches with our partners in order to improve the safety and wellbeing of Scotland’s people, places and communities.”

Andrew Neil says he will never again appear on GB News over ‘smears’

The veteran broadcaster said he 'couldn’t be happier' to have severed ties.

Ian Gavan via Getty Images
Andrew Neil has said he will never again appear on GB News.

Andrew Neil has said he will never again appear on GB News after accusing the channel of leaking “smears” to a newspaper.

The veteran broadcaster said his former employer “unilaterally” cancelled his exit deal and he “couldn’t be happier” to have severed ties.

A GB News spokeswoman said the channel had no comment on the remarks.

Neil, who announced his departure from GB News earlier this month, tweeted on Wednesday evening: “After weeks of talks with @GBNEWS, resulting in exit settlement, the channel then broke it by briefing Mail on Sunday with load of smears/lies then unilaterally cancelling exit deal.


“Leaving me free to do, say whatever I want + never again be on GBNews. Couldn’t be happier.”

A report in the Mail on Sunday cited a leaked memo claiming Neil was about to be sacked before he walked.

Former BBC presenter Neil, 72, had been chairman of the fledgling channel and its most high-profile star when it endured a troubled launch in June.

He took a break two weeks after the launch.


Amid reports of a difference of opinion between him and other senior executives, Neil’s departure was announced earlier this month.

Initially, it was said he would still appear on the channel as a commentator.

However, Neil appeared on Question Time last week and said he had been in a “minority of one” over the future direction of GB News, which has been accused of trying to import Fox News-style journalism to the UK.

“More and more differences emerged between myself and the other senior managers and the board of GB News,” he said.

“Rather than these differences narrowing, they got wider and wider and I felt it was best that if that’s the route they wanted to take then that’s up to them, it’s their money.

“The route is what I think you can see on GB News at the moment, people should make up their own minds what they want to watch.”

After the Question Time appearance, GB News issued a rebuttal.


It said: “During last night’s BBC Question Time, a number of demonstrably untrue remarks were made about GB News. We stand for fair debate, tolerance, free speech and factual journalism. There are always more than two sides to any story and we believe in listening to all of them.”

A number of big names joined the channel for its launch including ITV News journalist Alastair Stewart, BBC journalist Simon McCoy and former Labour MP Gloria De Piero.

Guto Harri quit the channel following a row over him taking the knee during a debate on the racism directed towards England football players, while other staff members have reportedly left.

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