Deadline News News and pictures from Scotland and beyond Mon, 03 Aug 2015 08:10:52 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Fraser Fyvie hails Scott Allan’s Hibs cameo Mon, 03 Aug 2015 08:10:52 +0000 BY ALAN TEMPLE – Capital City Press

Hibs star Fraser Fyvie hailed Scott Allan’s eye-catching cameo against Montrose – before insisting there was never any chance his pal was going to down tools.

All eyes were on Allan on Saturday as he was left out of the starting line-up for the second successive weekend.

The midfield man has made no secret of his desire to join boyhood heroes Rangers, slapping in a transfer request last week in a bid to force a move to Ibrox.

Easter Road

Hibernian overcame Montrose with ease (Pic: Daniel Richardson)


But it was no surprise to Fyvie when Allan climbed from the bench to net a stunning solo goal for the Hibees, cutting in from the left flank and rifling a low shot past Ross Salmon to make it 2-0.

Fyvie said: “I’m good friends with Scotty and I speak to him about things every day. He is a very professional boy with the way he goes about his business every day so it was no surprise to see him do what he did.

“Everybody can see what he brings to the team and I thought he was terrific when he came on. He gave us that cutting edge the moment he stepped on the park. Any team would be lucky to have him – and we have him!

“I don’t think [transfer talk] affects him. Scotty is a footballer and this sort of thing happens a lot in football. He gets on with his training and gets on with his day to day life.”

Allan’s effort added to goals from Scott Martin and Jason Cummings as Alan Stubbs’ men cruised into the second round of the League Cup with a 3-0 triumph.

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Councils reject one in four requests for information Sun, 02 Aug 2015 16:13:10 +0000 SCOTLAND’S councils are rejecting nearly one in four requests from taxpayers asking how they spend public money, it has been revealed.

New figures show that the number of Freedom of Information (FOI) requests rejected by local authorities has nearly doubled since 2010.

FOI laws were introduced to give the public the “right of access” to unpublished information, allowing them to understand the inner workings of bodies funded by public cash.

But statistics from 16 of Scotland’s councils show that of the 19,376 requests issued last year, 4,603 were rejected.

Edinburgh City Council was the worst offender

Edinburgh City Council was the worst offenderuncil


This gave a rejection rate of 23.7% – up from 19% in 2010.

The worst council for providing information was Edinburgh, which threw out 59.7% of requests for information.

A spokesman for council umbrella group COSLA said: “Local government is under attack from some who wish to use FOI wrongly as a tool to beat us.”

But Calum Liddle, a researcher at the University of Strathclyde, where the figures were compiled, said: “The taxpayer is fast losing the right to know as a result of certain councils overlooking – perhaps even disregarding – the need for transparency.

“Freedom of information is an essential democratic instrument, but the findings suggest a fragmented rights landscape.”

Only 16 of the 32 Scottish councils contacted supplied responses to Mr Liddle’s request for information.

The figures showed that a total of 79,890 requests were made between 2010 and 2014, with 16,609 rejected.

Edinburgh council’s 59.7% rejection rate was up from 24.7% in 2010.

But a council spokesman defended their provision of information, saying: “There is always a presumption in favour of disclosing the requested information – we release as much information as possible to applicants to ensure transparency and accountability.”

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Calls to improve Dunfermline Abbey for tourists Sun, 02 Aug 2015 16:00:12 +0000 A PROMINENT historian has warned that tourists are missing out on one of Scotland’s most significant sights because it lacks the proper signage.

Dunfermline Abbey, the resting place of Robert the Bruce, as well as up to 25 other kings and queens of Scotland, is often known as “little Westminster” owing to its historical significance.

But Sheila Pitcairn, a local tour guide of 30 years, has said that tourists are missing out because not enough has been done to inspire interest on the site.

She has now made calls for plaques to be erected to mark the resting places of Scots kings and queens, including King Malcolm III who makes an appearance in Shakespeare’s Macbeth.

Pitcairn, 81, is now looking to raise the funds to bring the historic site to life for visitors.

The nearby Forth Bridge attracts far more visitors

The nearby Forth Bridge attracts far more visitors


She said: “It’s not fair that the people of Scotland do not know that all these royals are lying under the floor in ­Dunfermline, there in Dunfermline Abbey.

“The only marker is for Robert the Bruce, but we need brass plaques for all of them.”

Only 30,000 visitors come to the abbey every year, despite it lying just across from the Forth Road Bridge, which attracts millions of visitors every year.

Its southern counterpart, Westminster Abbey, also draws more than one million visitors annually,

Pitcairn went on: “It was when such a fuss was made about the bones of Richard III being found in a car park.

“Everyone knew about that and there were plaques put up where he was reburied earlier this year. It made me realise how little information there is to tell people about what we have here in Dunfermline.

“People pay to go in but they have no idea what they are looking at.”

The abbey was founded in 1128, with building completed in 1250.

It has a long history of significance to the throne, and in 1600 it was the birthplace of Charles I, the last British monarch born in Scotland.

A spokesman for Historic Scotland said a new guidebook for the Abbey would be published in 2016.

He added: “Dunfermline Abbey and Palace is an important heritage attraction that sits within our portfolio of properties in care across the country.”

“As part of our efforts to enhance a great visitor experience, we installed a series of new interpretation panels at Dunfermline this year to help communicate and engage visitors with the Abbey’s fascinating history and story.”

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Prison service aware of “potential threat” of drones Sun, 02 Aug 2015 15:51:27 +0000 PRISON chiefs are investigating the “potential threat” of drones being used to smuggle contraband into Scottish jails.

Remote-controlled drones are a low-cost way of transporting goods, and are increasingly being used to get around prison security measures.

In England alone prison bosses have intercepted seven plots to use drones over a four month period – a stark rise on the two incidents recorded in 2014.

Drones can be used to ferry contraband

Drones can be used to ferry contraband


Now experts are calling on Scottish authorities to consider investing in technology to prevent the problem spreading north of the border.

One such development which could hinder the ability of crooks to use drones is a jammer, which would break the connection between the remote control and the drone.

The countermeasure is currently being developed by a UK consortium.

Marin Brook, of Brighter Surveillance, one of the companies involved in the consortium, said: “When you have drones flying over the White House or a political rally, you do not need to be too imaginative to realise that they can be used maliciously to smuggle drugs, phones and weapons into prisons.”

A spokesman for the Ministry of Justice warned: “Anyone using drones in an attempt to get contraband into prisons can be punished with a sentence of up to two years.”

And a spokesman for the Scottish Prison Service (SPS) added; “ We are currently aware of the potential for drones to be used illegally and discussions are on-going as to the potential threat.”

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Thousands of pieces of Scottish land owned by offshore companies Sun, 02 Aug 2015 12:58:19 +0000 THOUSANDS of pieces of land across Scotland have been snapped up by huge offshore companies – many of which are based in the world’s biggest tax havens.

The revelation has prompted fears that firms owning Scottish land are dodging taxes, or even acting as fronts for laundering money.

In total 2,147 commercial and residential developments in Scotland are owned by companies outside the UK.

And one in five of these companies are headquartered in the British Virgin Islands in the Caribbean.

Scottish land could be being bought as an exercise in money laundering

Scottish land could be being bought as an exercise in money laundering


The islands were recently embroiled in a huge tax evasion scandal, and it is now feared that the firms owning huge number of Scottish developments may be using similar tax dodging techniques.

Now experts have backed the claims that businesses owning Scottish land may be using their Island headquarters to “cut down on their tax bill.”

John Christensen, of international research and advocacy group The Tax Justice Network, said the offshore investments of firms such as this “should concern us all.”

He went on: “We’d like to see a full disclosure and a public record of who owns these companies.

“We need extensive reforms across the UK to stop offshore companies buying up our country.

“Many of these offshore companies are run by Brits who use them to cut down on their tax bill.”

Police Scotland have also launched an investigation into the possibility of criminality involved in the offshore ownership of Scottish properties.

In the past criminal enterprises have used offshore companies as a front through which to launder money.

A spokesman said: “We are investigating the use of offshore companies using criminal funds to purchase properties.

“Working with international law enforcement we have been able to identify and trace criminal assets held in offshore companies and tax havens.”

Scottish Conservative chief whip, John Lamont, said: “We cannot have a situation where criminals are hiding their ill-gotten gains right under the noses of Scotland’s communities.”

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Edinburgh uni breakthrough could reduce dieting pill deaths Sun, 02 Aug 2015 12:53:37 +0000 SCOTS scientists have made a breakthrough that could reduce drug-related deaths – including those related to slimming pills.

An Edinburgh University team have pioneered a cheap, paper based biosensor that can be used to flag up dangerous levels of impurities in drugs.

It is hoped that the “litmus test” biosensor will be used to stem the number of deaths caused by users of class-A drugs, as well as dieting pills which are becoming easier to buy online.

The new project was led by a team of undergraduates who were inspired to act when they saw the high level of drug abuse on the streets of the capital.

It is hoped that the test will identify dangerously contaminated drugs

It is hoped that the test will identify dangerously contaminated drugsrugs


The sensor will test for levels of PMA – a drug similar to MDMA, the chemical in ecstasy.

PMA is much more poisonous than MDMA, and there is a far higher chance of users overdosing if they take a larger dose.

The paper sensor will also flag up the chemical DNP in diet pills – which is thought to have caused the death of 21 year old Eloise Parry after taking eight pills earlier this year.

Dominika Pelegrinova, promotions manager for the project, said: “It’s difficult to keep people from taking drugs, but we wanted to do something to make it safer for them.

“We are trying to make this sort of product as accessible as we can so it can be produced cheaply to reduce the risk for users.”

She went on to explain the science behind their invention: “We will freeze-dry enzymes on to a small piece of paper.

“There will be these microscopic channels where the drug would be placed and a reaction would take place which changes the colour on the paper.

“It would just be a piece of paper with plastic covering parts of it, as we wanted it to be cheap and easy to make so it could be available to everyone.”

Carmen McShane, service manager at drugs rehabilitation charity Turning Point Scotland, welcomed the development.

She said: “First and foremost, harm reduction saves lives. It can also offer an important first step for anyone hoping to recover from drug addiction.

“The harm reduction model offering safe injecting equipment was a hugely successful response to the public health crisis facing the UK in the 1980s and early 1990s, saving countless lives, following the emergence and rapid spread of HIV infection linked to the epidemic of heroin.

“More recently Scotland has led the way in having the first publicly funded Take Home Naloxone programme, which is helping to reduce deaths by temporarily reversing the effects of an opiate overdose until the emergency services can attend.

“We welcome any new initiative that has the potential to reduce the risk of overdose because every single drug-related death is a personal tragedy to the individual and their loved ones.

“We are really interested to hear about this new project by Edinburgh University and look forward to taking part in the discussion on the issues around it.”

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Majority of Scots prisoners cannot read, write or solve basic maths problems Sun, 02 Aug 2015 12:49:13 +0000 A huge majority of Scots prisoners cannot read, write or solve basic maths problems, it has been revealed.

Figures revealed through the Freedom of Information (FOI) act show that only 15% of Scots inmates are functionally numerate, whilst only 30% are functionally literate.

The numbers were revealed after a survey of the country’s prisons between August 2014 and March 2015.

They also demonstrated that no improvements have been made in the number of literate and numerate prisoners since 2013.

The Scottish Conservatives have said the figures are “shaming” for the government, who have assured the public that they are addressing the issue.

The Tories went on to claim that improving such basic reading and writing skills would increase prisoners’ chances of reintegrating into society on release.

The stats show that an overwhelming number of prisoners lack basic skills

The stats show that an overwhelming number of prisoners lack basic skills


In its response to the FOI request the Scottish Prison Service (SPS) said that they considered those below level four of the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) to be neither literate nor numerate.

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said: “The poor rates of numeracy and literacy in Scotland’s prisons are shaming for any government which claims it wants to break the cycle of reoffending.

“What chance of full rehabilitation is there if those who break the law are going back to the outside world with such obviously reduced chances of finding employment?

“This is why it’s crucial for prisons to offer rigorous work and education programmes to all inmates.

She also struck out at the government, saying: “The Scottish Government has been aware of this problem for some time, but clearly whatever it is doing is not working. We need to see an urgent improvement.”

But a government spokesman was quick to defend the numbers.

They said: “These statistics refer to screening of people entering custody, not to the skills of current prisoners or those who have been recently released.

“We know that literacy and numeracy skills are vital in enabling prisoners to access wider opportunities, including training and employment.

“The reconviction rate in Scotland is now at its lowest for 16 years, and recorded crime is at its lowest level in 40 years.

“This is a testament to the commitment of the prison service, police, courts, social work, third sector, and wider justice partners who are working hard to address offending and its underlying causes.

“We are not complacent and will continue to work hard to help individuals to develop their skills to support them in putting offending behind them and to embark on a more positive path in their lives.”

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Scots scientists breakthrough will cause mites to “self destruct” Sun, 02 Aug 2015 12:41:27 +0000 SCOTS scientists have made a breakthrough which could provide relief to asthma sufferers across the world – by “silencing” the genes of the European house dust mite.

The hardy mite is notoriously resistant to conventional pesticides, causing misery to asthma sufferers who are susceptible to allergens found in its droppings.

But now Scots scientists have found a way to “silence” the genes of the tiny bug.

The development could allow scientists to turn the mites’ immune systems against themselves, causing them to self-destruct.

The breakthrough could bring relief to the 5.4m asthma sufferers across the UK, one fifth of whom are children.

Dr Stewart Burgess, from the Moredun Research Institute near Edinburgh, said: “It will now be possible to silence genes at will, allowing us to determine their function and their importance to the mite.

“This in turn will allow us to identify genes that are crucial for mite survival, which could identify new targets for drugs.”

The breakthrough has been made by Scots scientists

The breakthrough has been made by Scots scientists


The Scottish breakthroughs have built on the work of American scientists, who discovered a method of “turning off” specific parts of DNA in 1998.

Known as RNA interference, the method allows scientists to stop the production of certain proteins in the body, including areas which cannot normally be affected by normal rugs.

So-called gene silencing has already been used to tackle the varroa mite, a blood-sucking parasite known to be the biggest threat to the honey bee.

Like the European house dust mite, the varroa has developed a resistance to the medication of beekeepers.

But recent developments allowed scientists to turn the bugs’ immune systems against them, effectively making them self-destruct.

Burgess now hopes that the same method can be use to free households of the pest of the European dust mite, thought to be the most common cause of allergic symptoms in humans.

The mites, measuring roughly a quarter of a millimetre long, thrive in carpets, bedding and soft furnishings, and feed on dead skin cells shed by humans.

They produce around 20 waste droppings daily, which cause allergic symptoms affecting roughly 1.2bn people worldwide.

It is also hoped that the breakthrough might have wider applications, as the mite is closely related to scabies mites and sheep scab mites.

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Scots women earn £250,000 less than men over their lifetimes Sun, 02 Aug 2015 12:35:23 +0000 SCOTS women will earn £250,000 less than men over the course of their working lives, it has been revealed.

The gender pay gap was revealed after a detailed analysis of the difference in hourly and weekly pay between men and women.

Across Scotland the average weekly full-time pay, excluding overtime, stands at £620.50 for men and £524.90 for women – a difference of 15%.

In the skilled trade professions there was a 26% difference in pay between the genders, whilst male managers and senior officials earned £971.50 a week to women’s £750.60 – a 23% pay gap.

The new analysis of Scotland’s gender pay imbalance comes from Close the Gap, a group which works with the government to address equal pay.

Women earn less because of the "motherhood penalty"

Women earn less because of the “motherhood penalty”


It comes as the prime minister continues with plans to require large companies to release data on the gender pay gap – to pressure them into eliminating it “within a generation.”

And last week research published by the Law Society of Scotland showed that women in the nation’s legal profession were being paid significantly less than their male counterparts.

Their data showed that the average salary for women in the profession was 42% lower that the earnings of men, with an average difference of £32,650 between male and female salaries every year.

The news added further weight to the warning made by think tank Fiscal Affairs Scotland, which recently claimed that the gender pay gap is far worse north of the border.

The Close the Gap report claims that a “motherhood penalty” may largely be to blame for the disparity in pay.

They say that women returning to the workplace after having children may find it more and more difficult to find positions which allow them to meet their parenting responsibilities.

For many, they say, the only option is part-time work, which is characterised by significantly lower pay.

Anna Ritchie Allan, project manager of Close the Gap, said: “It is not only women who have been affected by the pay gap: employers are also missing out on the abundance of female talent as huge numbers of qualified and experienced women are working in jobs below their skill level.

“Companies have to look at the ways in which their workplace culture impacts on male and female employees differently, and then charge their practices to ensure that women are not disadvantaged.

“Until that’s done it’s difficult to see how the pay gap will end in a generation.”

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Number of obese Scots under the knife for weight loss surgery rises by third Sun, 02 Aug 2015 12:28:40 +0000 THE number of obese Scots going under the knife for weight-loss surgery has increased by more than a third.

Between 2012 and 2015, 713 Scots had bariatric surgery to help them to lose weight, an increase of 36% on the number between 2009 and 2011.

The newest data also reveals a gender gap in the fat reduction operations, with women making up three quarters of patients between 2012 and 2015.

Last year NHS Lothian undertook 49 procedures on females and just nine on males.

More and more Scots are going under the knife

More and more Scots are going under the knife


The new figures have prompted renewed warnings that Scots need greater assistance in managing their weight and remaining healthy.

Jim Hume, health spokesman for the Scottish Liberal Democrats, said: “The fact that the number of weight-loss surgeries increased so substantially… would suggest we have not got to grips with Scotland’s growing waistline.

“There are no easy answers, and the solution needs to include promoting physical activity, educating people about food, and medical interventions where appropriate.

“First and foremost this is about Scotland’s health, but overweight and obese patients also increase pressure on our NHS.

“People struggling with their weight are more likely to suffer from any number of health conditions. It is time ministers looked again at how we can help Scots manage their weight more effectively”

Scots obstetricians have already backed a public health campaign encouraging obese women to lose weight before becoming pregnant.

Experts have found that obesity can be a key factor in preventing fatalities when complications arise during childbirth.

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