Sturgeon should resign if she broke code, says Sarwar

Scottish Labour's new leader claimed Nicola Sturgeon would ask the same of a politician from another party.

An investigation into whether the First Minister broke the ministerial code is ongoing. Fraser Bremner/Scottish Daily Mail via PA Wire
An investigation into whether the First Minister broke the ministerial code is ongoing.

Nicola Sturgeon should stand down if she is found to have breached the ministerial code, new Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar has said.

The First Minister is the focus of an investigation over whether she misled the Scottish Parliament on when she knew about allegations of harassment made against her predecessor Alex Salmond.

Sturgeon said she first learned of the complaints in a meeting with Salmond at her home in early April 2018, but it later emerged she had been told by his former chief of staff in her Holyrood office a few days prior, a fact she claims to have forgotten.

She referred herself for investigation by James Hamilton QC, an independent adviser on the ministerial code.

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If Sturgeon is found to have broken the ministerial code, Sarwar said she should step down, saying she would expect the same of ministers in other parties.

“If there is a minister, forget who the minister is or what political party they are from, if a minister is found to have breached the ministerial code, I think people would expect that minister to resign,” the newly elected Scottish Labour leader told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge On Sunday.

“That’s what Nicola Sturgeon would say if it was a Labour politician, a Conservative politician or a Liberal Democrat politician, so let’s take the party politics out of it – it’s a point of principle.”

When pushed specifically on whether or not the First Minister should step down, Sarwar said: “Yes, I think Nicola Sturgeon herself would say that if an opposition politician was in government and they’d breached the ministerial code, they would be expected to resign.

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“Let’s take the party politics and the personalities out of it, it’s a point of principle and respecting the office of First Minister.”

Speaking in his first broadcast interview since becoming leader on Saturday, defeating Monica Lennon with more than 57% of the vote, Sarwar said he believes the First Minister would not support touting a referendum on independence if it were not for the internal struggles of the SNP.

Factions within Scotland’s ruling party have grown more impatient with the approach to independence in recent months, as well as internal strife on the issue of transgender rights and the ongoing Salmond inquiry – where the former first minister claims there has been a “malicious and concerted” effort to push him out of public life from the highest echelons of the party.

The Glasgow MSP said: “The idea that we come through (the Covid-19 pandemic) and straight into a divisive referendum campaign, I just don’t think it’s the right thing to do – instead I think it’s right that we focus on rebuilding our country.”

He added: “I actually don’t think even Nicola Sturgeon would be advocating a referendum right now, but I think she’s more focused on healing the wounds in her political party than she is about healing the wounds in the country.”

Murder probe launched into death of teenager at railway station

Justin McLaughlin, 14, died following an incident at High Street station in Glasgow on Saturday afternoon.

Police Scotland
Justin McLaughlin: Teen died following incident at Glasgow's High Street station.

Police have launched a murder inquiry following the death of a 14-year-old boy at a Glasgow railway station.

Justin McLaughlin was found seriously injured at High Street train station after being attacked with a knife at around 3.45pm on Saturday, October 16.

He was taken to the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, where he was pronounced dead a short time later.

An extensive investigation into Justin’s death is under way and police are appealing to members of the public to assist with their enquiries.

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Detective chief inspector Brian Geddes, of Police Scotland’s major investigation team and the senior investigating officer, said: “Our thoughts very much remain with Justin’s family and friends. His family have asked for their privacy to be respected at this very difficult time, and they are being supported by specialist officers.

“Although enquiries are at an early stage, what we do know is that an incident took place at High Street train station and we are sure that there will be people who may have witnessed something in the lead up to this.

“The area would have been busy with members of the public and commuters and we are urging those who have any information, no matter how small, to get in contact with police.”

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Detectives have set up an online portal to encourage members of the public to submit information.

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The Major Incident Public Portal (MIPP) is a website that gives the public access to a form so they can send information directly to the major incident teams based at the Scottish Crime Campus:

Detective inspector Marc Francey, of British Transport Police, said: “This was a shocking act of violence in broad daylight, which has seen a boy tragically lose his life.

“We are working closely with Police Scotland and doing all we can to find those responsible, and I would urge any witnesses, or anyone who was in the area at the time and saw anything suspicious, to contact us as soon as possible.

“We will also be increasing our uniformed patrols in the local area in the coming days to help reassure the travelling public.”

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Police Scotland can be contacted by calling 101 and quoting incident number 2280 of Saturday October 16. 

BTP can also be contacted by texting 61016 or calling 0800 40 50 40 quoting reference 394 of 16/10/21.

Alternatively, you can call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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Brown: We must show unbreakable resolve after ‘attack on democracy’

Former prime minister speaks out following suspected terrorist attack that killed Conservative MP Sir David Amess.

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Gordon Brown want the UK to prove its democratic values are 'indestructible'.

Gordon Brown has urged the country to show that our democratic values are “indestructible” in the aftermath of the suspected terrorist attack that killed MP Sir David Amess.

The former prime minister stressed that the reaction to the fatal stabbing of the Southend West MP on Friday could not allow “democracy to be diminished”.

But Brown also called for Members of Parliament to have access to increased police protection, predicting that the measures would be introduced within days.

Speaking to Sky News, Brown said: “This is an attack on our democracy, so the answer cannot be less democracy.

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“This looks as if it is a terrorist incident, it is probably related to al-Shabaab or to al-Qaeda, and we’ll find out more in the next few days.

“But the answer when you come across a terrorist incident is we don’t blink, we don’t shirk, we don’t flinch, we don’t show weakness and we stand up for what we believe.

“And, of course, we will increase the security that is available to Members of Parliament and councillors when they’re doing their surgeries, and that is something that must happen immediately.

“But it’s true also to say that we must not allow our democracy to be diminished because a terrorist attack has occurred.”

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Brown, who was an MP at Westminster from 1983 to 2015, continued: “I think the history of dealing with terrorism is that if you ever show weakness and if you ever give the impression that coexistence is impossible and that you’re going to back away and give up on your values, then you show something that gives terrorists hope.

“We must not do that.

“Hearts are broken, but our resolve must be unbreakable.

“A life has been tragically destroyed but our values – our democratic values – they are indestructible, and we must show that now.”

Asked if close protection officers or bodyguards should be offered to MPs, Brown said they should and added: “We must say to members of parliament: be careful where you hold your constituency surgeries in a place that is protected but, at the same time, if you need police protection that is going to be available.

“It need not be obtrusive, it need not be so obvious, but I think the protection has got to be made available now to Members of Parliament who feel that there is a risk to what they are doing.

“I think that will be introduced in the next few days.”


Stretch of M8 closed following serious two-vehicle crash

Emergency services at the scene and westbound traffic being diverted at junction four.

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Police are in attendance after serious crash on the M8.

The M8 is closed westbound in West Lothian following a serious two-vehicle crash on Sunday morning.

Emergency services are in attendance at the scene of the crash, which happened near Heartlands service station at around 9.50am.

Traffic Scotland said westbound traffic was being taken off the motorway at junction four and rejoining at junction five.

A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “Around 9.50am on Sunday, 17 October, police were called to the M8 at junction 4, near Bathgate, following the report of a serious two-vehicle road crash.

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“Emergency services remain at the scene and the road is currently closed.”


Fisherman missing after failing to return from boat trip

Joe Masson left his home in Fraserburgh at 10am on Saturday to go out on his creel boat.

Police Scotland
Missing: Joe Masson has not been seen for more than 24 hours.

A fisherman has gone missing after failing to return home following a trip on his creel boat in Aberdeenshire. 

Joe Masson left his home in Fraserburgh at 10am on Saturday to go out on his boat and was last seen around 1.30pm on board the vessel from Cairnbulg Harbour, Cairnbulg.

The 73-year-old’s family reported him missing after he failed to return home later that day and a search involving police, HMS Coastguard, the MOD and the RNLI has been ongoing to trace him.

Inspector Mark Young from Ellon Police Station said: “We have had significant resources in the area searching for Mr Masson, including the Coastguard helicopter, and search activity will continue in the meantime.

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“The harbour is popular with fishermen and local walkers and I am keen to hear from anyone who was in the area between 10am and 6pm yesterday who may have seen Mr Masson or his blue creel boat ‘Goodway FR23’

“Please call Police Scotland on 101 quoting reference number 3854 of Saturday October 16 2021 if you have seen Mr Masson or have any information that will assist officers with their enquiries.”


Pupils eligible for free school meals ‘should be given food packages’

Families in Midlothian have been given money to help buy packed lunches due to a lack of hot school meals.

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Plea: Councillor urges for families to be given food packages rather than cash.

Families of primary school children who are still missing out on hot school meals should be given food packages rather than cash to support them, a councillor has said.

Hot meals are still off the menu for older primary school children in Midlothian with the local authority giving families who qualify for free meals cash to buy their own packed lunches.

However councillor Kelly Parry has become so concerned by the situation she contacted the cabinet secretary for education Shirley-Anne Somerville MSP seeking advice.

She has urged the council’s chief executive Grace Vickers to take onboard the advice from the MSP, who said local authorities need to step in and provide food not money to families who are struggling to find nutritious meals.

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Councillor Parry said: “I have been contacted by so many families who are concerned about the lack of hot school meals being provided to their children.

“It is so difficult and stressful for many parents, some of whom are working two jobs, to find the food items they need to make sure their children have a proper lunch.

“The supermarket shelves are not well stocked at the moment and costs are rising making it hard to shop for items.

“I would go so far as to say it is a breach of children’s human rights and a national scandal that Midlothian is not providing balanced and nutritious meals in the way other local authorities are doing.”

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At a council meeting last month Midlothian Council’s executive director Kevin Anderson said plans were in place to reintroduce a hot meal option across all ages in October, telling councillors: “It is restricted to a large extent by the school estate and social distancing. There are some restrictions that we still want to apply.”

However councillor Parry said parents whose children qualify for free school meals have received payment to buy packed lunches up to the end of October suggesting the council has missed its deadline.

She raised concerns about the fact only P1 to P4 youngsters were receiving hot school meals across the county while P5 to P7 children entitled to a free meal were receiving payments to buy packed lunches.

Neighbouring East Lothian Council opened its dining halls in primary schools at the start of September but Midlothian primary schools are still serving lunches to P1 to P4 in their classrooms.

Councillor Parry said when she asked officials if money was being saved by not serving hot school meals to older children, she did not receive any “clarity”.

She said: “I would not like to think they are balancing the books over children’s nutritional needs.”

A Midlothian Council spokesperson said moves were underway to reintroduce hot meals for older children.

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They said: “The education service is working closely with the council’s catering service on a phased re-opening of our school dining halls after the October break.

“Parents and carers will be informed by their child’s school as to when the school lunch service in dining halls will reopen after the October break.

“Payments will continue to be paid to parents and carers of P5 to P7 pupils eligible for free school meals until the service resumes.

“In the meantime though, P1s to P4s continue to be offered free school lunches, including a hot meal option, which they are having in classrooms.”

Reporting by Local Democracy Reporter Marie Sharp


Barclays set to reveal £1.6bn profits with more Covid cash released

The bank set aside £3.7bn as a rainy day fund last year and released £742m earlier this year.

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Barclays is set to reveal a rise in profits next week.

Barclays is set to reveal a rise in profits next week driven by a buoyant investment banking division and the release of bad loan provisions set aside due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The bank set aside £3.7bn as a rainy day fund last year and released £742m earlier this year. Investors will be looking to see how much more will be released on Thursday as the economy recovers.

Bosses revealed a strong profit rebound when they updated the City on the first six months of the year in July, recording pre-tax profits of £5bn against just £1.3bn in the same period in 2020.

Analysts are expecting the group to post profits of £1.6bn in the three months to October against £1.1bn made a year ago.

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Between July and October last year, the bank took further bad loan provisions of £608m to cover itself from any Covid-19 losses.

The City is expecting the release of these funds to provide a boost to profits for the same period this year, although how much remains uncertain.

Sophie Lund-Yates, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “Last year, the group put aside swathes of money in case customers defaulted on payments, but these provisions are being unwound – which helped profits substantially in the first half.

“It’s a short-term tailwind, but one which we think will have continued into this quarter.”

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But she warned that low interest rates will continue to drag on the profitability of Barclays’ loans.

Russ Mould and Danni Hewson, financial analysts at AJ Bell, said the performance of the investment bank would also be scrutinised closely by analysts and investors.

They said: “The unit had a good first half, generating £3.4bn of pre-tax profit against £2.2bn in the prior period in 2020, helped by active bond and equity markets, plenty of primary and secondary equity market activity and a good dollop of mergers and acquisitions on top.”

Analysts expect the division to post profits of £1.8bn for the period between July and October.

The pair also said that shareholders will be looking for any update on when Barclays’ chief executive may stand down after churn in the management team in the last year.

They said: “There have been hints that boss Jes Staley may leave by the end of 2021, especially after a reshuffle of management heads at this time a year ago.”

Pensioner dies at scene of early morning house fire

The 79-year-old man died following the blaze on Finavon Terrace, Dundee on Sunday morning.

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Death: Man dies following early morning house fire.

A pensioner has died following a house fire in Dundee.

Emergency services were called to the blaze at a property on Finavon Terrace around 7.20am on Sunday. 

A 79-year-old man died at the scene. 

The Scottish Fire and Rescue service extinguished the fire and enquiries into the cause of the blaze are ongoing. 

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A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “We received a report around 7.20am on Sunday October 17 of a fire at a property in Finavon Terrace, Dundee.

“Emergency services attended. A 79-year-old man sadly died at the scene.

“The fire was extinguished by the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and enquiries into the cause of the fire are ongoing.”


Harry Potter trolley appears at Waverley train station

Fans will be able to recreate the moment the young wizard discovered Platform 9 ¾.

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Harry Potter: Trolley appears in Edinburgh to celebrate 20 years since the first movie's release.

A magical trolley has appeared at Edinburgh Waverley station to celebrate 20 years since the premiere of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

Fans will be able to recreate the moment the young wizard rushes through the magical wall to discover Platform 9 ¾ and the Hogwarts Express.

The trolley, which is a symbol of the gateway between the ‘Muggle’ and wizarding world, is usually situated on the concourse of King’s Cross Station and is visited every year by more than two million people.

The installation will be available at Edinburgh Waverley for Harry Potter fans to visit until October 18 before heading to Birmingham, Cardiff, Belfast and Dublin.

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Harry Potter fans gathered at the unveiling of the trolley in Edinburgh on Saturday and were delighted to recreate the magical moment for themselves. 

Alex McKenzie, 27, said: “I have been a huge Harry Potter fan from since I can remember so it feels great to be a part of the 20th anniversary celebrations. 

“The trolley is such a classic scene from the films and recreating it here has been magical”

Seven-year-old Jenna Marshall added: “Posing with the trolley was just like I was actually going to go to Hogwarts. I felt so excited, it was so realistic!”

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The trolley tour was launched to thank the fan community for their support over the past two decades and help them capture their own version of this iconic moment from the first film.

The official 20th Anniversary of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone will be celebrated on November 16.


Councillors back plans for new service station near A90

The proposed facility near Laurencekirk would feature retail outlets, a restaurant and a hotel.

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Service station: Councillors back plans for the facility near Laurencekirk.

Councillors have backed plans to build a new service station near Laurencekirk, paving the way for the creation of 30 new jobs.

A J Developments had applied to Aberdeenshire Council seeking planning permission in principle for the facility.

The development, to be located next to the A90/A937 junction, is expected to include retail units, a restaurant, a ten-bay petrol station and a 100-bed hotel.

The initial proposal states the site would also feature a children’s play area, toilets and parking as well as charging for electric vehicles.

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The development is expected to create 30 new jobs.

The addition of two drive-thru restaurants and a drive-thru coffee shop to the site had also been proposed, however these plans were later removed.

The new development will be constructed separately to the Scottish Government’s A90/A937 Junction Improvement Scheme.

Mearns Community Council supported the application but raised concerns over “safe” pedestrian access to Denlethen Wood and the diversion of vehicles should an accident occur on the A90.

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Council planners recommended the plan be approved stating the proposed hotel would “cater for a gap in the current market” following the closure of facilities in and around Laurencekirk over recent years.

They also said the development could be constructed “without detriment” to the character of the surrounding area and would provide “clear public economic benefits” by creating local jobs.

At Tuesday’s meeting councillor George Carr moved a motion in support of the application and said he believes the new facility would help the town and wider area.

He said: “The 100-bed hotel could well be a great advantage for the Mearns, it provides an anchor for people to stop off then forage out to support and enjoy other businesses and communities that would greatly benefit from this development.”

Provost Bill Howatson backed the motion and the committee agreed to refer the application to the Infrastructure Services Committee for determination.

Reporting by Local Democracy Reporter Kirstie Topp


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