PE teacher William Simpson was found to have the drug in his possession when police searched him at the music festival in Balado, Kinross, on Saturday 13 July last year.
The former teacher at Blairgowrie High School, Perth and Kinross, bought the class A drug for £60 at a party the afternoon before he headed to the festival.
A disciplinary hearing of the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) heard that he was convicted at Perth Sheriff Court on 7 January this year and ordered to pay a fine of £260.
He resigned his post at the school, where he had taught since 2006, in December 2013, a month before the court case.
The 32-year-old from Perth admitted the conviction at the GTCS hearing in Edinburgh yesterday.
Mr Simpson, who appeared tearful on occasion, said: “My behaviour was disgraceful. For anybody to do that, particularly a teacher, is just disgraceful.
“I can’t believe I was so foolish and so selfish. I am mortified and not a day goes by past that I don’t kick myself for it.”
“I’ve let the profession down,” he added. “Blairgowrie High is a great school – the pupils are fantastic and my colleagues are incredible. I am ashamed that I have let them all down.”
The Edinburgh University graduate has suffered from ill health due to ongoing stomach muscle problems since 2010, the hearing was told.
This resulted in numerous long periods of absences from his work and led to depression.
Mr Simpson insisted his problems were not the reason he bought drugs that afternoon.
Asked why he had bought the cocaine, he said he had no answer to that.
His lawyer, Alastair Milne, said: “Mr Simpson has taken regular drug tests and the evidence clearly shows that there is no indication that there is a pattern of this behaviour. This was an isolated incident.”
Colleagues also gave evidence to the hearing that he was a hard-working and dedicated teacher who had a good relationship with children.
Mr Milne said a reprimand would, in the circumstances, be “appropriate and fair”.
Panel convenor Mary McCory said they had not found Mr Simpson unfit to teach.
She added: ”We have, of course, found the respondent’s fitness impaired.”
The panel will now decided what sanction to take against the teacher.
The hearing continues.]]>
Janet Garner will appear at the Court of Session in Edinburgh on Friday in an attempt to be reinstated as a teacher after the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) struck her off.
The teaching watchdogs previously struck Ms Garner off after hearing how she was unable to control her classes and regularly made basic mistakes in the sums she set herself.
The 61-year-old’s case has already cost the profession’s regulators £174,000 and the for the Court of Session appeal will see that increase by at least £50,000.
The costs of the case are being met by Scottish teachers who fund the GTCS out of their salaries
The former deputy secretary for Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association (SSTA) Alan McKenzie said: “The costs of a case like this are astronomical, a Court of Session case is more than twice as expensive as the Sheriff Court. it’s not a good system and it needs to change.
“The problem is that the GTCS has no appeal system within their structure. There needs to be a lower court of appeal because as it stands the GTCS are taking a gamble with teachers money.”
The former maths teacher hopes the procedural hearing at the Court of Session will force the GTCS to review its decision that she is unfit to teach.
Ms Garner, who taught at both Alva Academy and Alloa Academy, was struck off in 2011 after a hearing questioned her teacher competence and concluded that she “simply could not teach”.
The panel was told that in 2004 test results for Mrs Garner’s S3 class at Alva Academy were so poor the “whole class of credit level pupils failed overall”.
However Ms Garner successfully brought the appeal case before the Court of Session and was never officially struck off.
The maths teacher was brought before the GTCS for a second time in November last year when her teacher competence was again brought into question. The panel heard from witnesses that her classroom was like a “battleground” and struck her off for a second time.
Ms Garner will represent herself at the Court of Session this week as she is unable to afford legal representation. She said: “This is a fight for justice. It’s a fight to have a case properly heard and for all the evidence to be taken into account.
“The GTCS has ignored huge amounts of evidence in support of my case and this is not my evidence but evidence gathered by the GTCS which contradicts the outcome they wanted to achieve so it has been ignored.”
The GTCS is determined not lose a second Court of Session appeal case. A spokesperson for the GTCS said: “Mrs Gerner has appealed against the decision of a Fitness to Teach panel taken in November 2013 to direct that her name be removed from register.
The GTCS has said it is determined to ensure “high standards are maintained” in the Scottish teaching profession.]]>
Dr Peter Bennie said it was difficult for people from “diverse backgrounds” and those without wealthy parents to become doctors.
The high fees and lengthy university courses involved in getting a medical degree were largely to blame, he suggested.
Dr Bennie, a psychiatrist based in Paisley, Renfrewshire, is the new chairman of the British Medical Association Scotland, the registered trade union and professional body for doctors.
In his first interview since taking up the post this month, he said: “Medicine should not be the preserve of the privileged few.
“Access to a career in medicine should be based on academic ability, not the ability to pay.”
“There’s an increasingly heavy financial burden to go into medical school at all.
“The course is longer, fees higher, so there’s a bias against those from more diverse backgrounds, and those who do not have independent means from their parents.”
Dr Bennie said the answer to making medical schools more accessible was “financial support”.
He said this would “make it possible for those who do not have access to independent finances”.
Medical students should also be guaranteed a training place in the NHS on completion of their degree, he said.
He said: “It would not be responsible of us to encourage young people to study medicine, generate debts of £20-30,000 without ensuring that they have the opportunity to achieve full registration to enable them to practice medicine.”
Dr Bennie said he would take the doctors’ perspective “to the politicians and civil servants responsible for shaping health policy in Scotland”.
“I will encourage them to listen; to understand the realities and implications of their actions not just for doctors, but for patients and the health service,” he said.]]>
Malcolm Airey, 27, from Glasgow and English chef Chris Walton, 43, from Weymouth, Dorset, doused themselves in freshly dug ice at the British Antarctic Survey more than 10,000 miles from home.
Despite the appalling conditions during the Antarctic winter, the bold pair donned shorts, sandals and T-shirts to complete the challenge for motor neurone disease.
The adventurous duo had to dash back inside within seconds to avoid exposure.
Research field assistant Malcolm decided to join in the internet craze after watching the world take part online.
He said: “During the winter months it is important to keep in touch with home.
“We don’t see anyone else between March and October and one way of staying connected with the outside world is by checking the internet and social media sites.
“That’s how we learned of the latest craze for being soaked in ice cold water as a way of raising awareness of motor neurone disease.
“Being surrounded by ice, we thought we too would support this effort by taking part in the Ice Bucket Challenge.”
The video sees the pair digging ice themselves with a large shovel before pouring white buckets of freezing cold water over their heads.
Soaking wet and freezing the duo grimace before racing off to get warmed up inside.
The Rothera Research Station, that has been occupied since 1975, studies the movement of ice sheets, glacial retreat and ice coring for the study of atmospheric chemistry and climate.
The Ice Bucket Challenge, which raises money for motor neurone disease, has gone viral over the couple of weeks, with celebrities around the world taking it on.]]>
Critics have blasted the airport after it was revealed that they are due to raise the cost of their 10 minute drop off from £1 to £3.
The current £1 charge will only apply if drivers are able to enter and exit the zone within five minutes.
The airport, which is owned by Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP), is due to introduce the price changes as of Monday.
A spokesman for GIP confirmed that they were introducing a new charge structure of £1 for five minutes and £3 for 10 minutes.
Some have also warned that the changes could lead to dangerous behaviour as drivers try to avoid paying the new £3 charge.
Currently the airport charge £1 for ten minutes, which will be raised to £3 as of next week.
The airport also has a £5 charge for 15 minutes.
A spokesman for the AA said: “I think tripling the price is pretty serious. It is pretty savage to be honest. It’s pure greed and profiteering.
“It is beyond all the realms of reason.
“They are taking advantage of people’s generosity to give someone a lift or pick them up from the airport.
“It will also lead to dangers as people will be trying to evade it. It’s not going encourage good behaviour anyway.”
Tony Kenmuir, director of Central Taxis, one of Edinburgh’s largest taxi firms, said: “It makes me angry. It really is appalling, it is beyond the pale.
“ Someone is going to have to say stop. There is very little we can do, they have got us prisoner.
“It will eliminate the profit, there will be none. Imagine a taxi driver picking up a banker from Gogarburn and dropping off at the airport. The fair is about £5, and then you have to give £3 of that to the airport.”
One taxi driver, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “It’s absolutely ridiculous. I don’t know how you are supposed to drop someone off in five minutes, or what if you have to pick someone up?
“The camera catches you on the way in to the multi-story car park, which can take a while to get through at the best of times.
“It means that every time someone goes out there they will have to pay the £3 or try to rush through the drop off area.
“It’s just mental. I think they are trying to hit the people picking up, because you are obviously having to sit and wait, but it’s going to get everyone.”]]>
Officers have reverted to a policy of verbally cautioning many drivers who are just over the limit.
Since Police Scotland was created in April 2013, there has been an increase of more than a third in the number of speeding tickets handed out.
The number handed out in Edinburgh tripled during a four month period under the new force.
Previously, most motorists who were caught driving above 30mph but below 35mph would be let off with a verbal warning.
The Police Scotland speeding crackdown has failed to bring about a big decline in accidents.
The number of deaths on the roads increased during 2013/14 by 14% although serious injury accidents were down by the same amount over the period.
Police Scotland chief constable Sir Stephen House claimed the policy change was ‘subtle’.
Sir Stephen admitted: “We have subtly changed so there are fewer tickets being issued and an awful lot more verbal warnings.
“So far this year we are seeing more people killed on the roads.
“It would be very easy, as a result of that, to say the enforcement regime isn’t working.
“The problem with that analysis is our enforcement regime this year has been significantly changed from last year, so we’re actually issuing… fewer fixed penalty notices.”
Head of Roads Policy at the AA, Paul Watters, said earlier this year: “It was hoped that giving police the power to fine people for less serious examples [of careless driving] would encourage drivers to change their behaviour, without clogging up the courts.”
A spokeswoman for Police Scotland said: “We are engaging with motorists who are over the speed limit, advising them and educating them.
“This will be recorded as a warning but no details are taken.
“This is about improving safety and reducing casualties, and about putting our resources where they will have the greatest effect on improving road safety.”]]>
The team will be paid more than £13,000 for a two-month contract to recruit desperately-needed family doctors.
Despite an average salary of £89,000 and the chance to work amid some of the most beautiful scenery in the UK, concern is growing about GP shortages in the Highlands.
NHS Highland last year tried and failed to fill seven GP vacancies in the West Lochaber area alone..
Health bosses are now paying Jersey-based Orchid Communications £13,220 to try to solve the problem.
The firm will lead three pilot schemes, in Kintyre and Mid Argyll, Arisaig, and the Small Isles, with a focus placed on emphasising the positives of life in rural areas.
North MSP Mary Scanlon has welcomed the move, saying that the health board needs to “think outside the box” if they want to fill the vacancies.
Mrs Scanlon said: “There have been people saying for years that the health boards should try advertising in mountaineering magazines or wildlife magazines.
“That’s how you would find people who have an affinity with that way of life and I’m glad they’re now trying something out of the box.
“It’s a worthwhile step and I’m glad that the board are now taking positive steps to deal with growing problem.”
A report published this week by the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) has warned that health boards will face an “increasing struggle” to provide services to patients.
The body, in a new policy paper, said a lack of broadband and mobile data services rendered many innovations championed by the Scottish Government useless in rural areas.
They said some doctors were forced to be on call 24 hours a day, meaning their own family lives were suffering, while others faced social isolation.
In October last year, the health board attempted to recruit new staff by creating a video and uploading it on YouTube.
In the six-minute film, workers seeked to dismiss misconceptions about the Highlands.
But less than a year later the health board are still spending thousands in a desperate bid to fill positions.
An NHS Highland spokeswoman said: “The initial focus will be on GP recruitment but it will also look at other health professions.
“It has become increasingly difficult to recruit and retain health and care professionals to remote areas.
“This scheme will play a vital role in helping to develop longer-term recruitment solutions that will allow the healthcare needs of rural communities to be delivered.
“Funding of £1.5million is being invested in testing innovative ways of recruiting to healthcare professionals in rural areas of Scotland and in particular GPs.”]]>
Douglas McDougall fell and hurt himself following the bar session to celebrate Europe’s famous 2012 victory over the US.
The chemistry and maths teacher – who has a PhD from Edinburgh University – then abused the ambulance team that turned up to help him.
Dr McDougall, 58, taught children with additional support needs at Buchanan High, Coatbridge, North Lanarkshire.
But a disciplinary hearing of the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) heard that he had a history of drink problems.
The teacher faced a further two charges in front of the GTCS relating to drink-driving and the hearing in Edinburgh was also told that he had once kicked a policeman.
The incident involving paramedics took place on September 30, 2012, when Dr McDougall went to the pub near his Hamilton home to to watch the European golf teams “miracle” comeback at Medinah, Illinois.
An ambulance was called after Dr McDougall fell and hurt his head.
The hearing was told that the teacher was admonished at Hamilton Sheriff Court in February this year after he admitted a charge that he did “assault, obstruct or hinder an Emergency Service Ambulance Technician, then responding to emergency circumstances and did shout, swear and gesticulate at them”.
Dr McDougall told the GTCS: “I insisted that I did not need any medical attention and that all I wanted to do was go home.
“I remember raising my voice and pointing to the location of my residence.”
The teacher also admitted that he had been banned from driving for four years in 2004 after he failed to give a breath test. He was banned for a further years in 2012 after driving at over twice the limit for alcohol.
Dr McDougall said: “I admit I had a drinking problem which was exacerbated by family matters over the past 10 years.
“I accept I had problems with alcohol but the likelihood of me doing this again is nil as I no longer consume alcohol and haven’t since autumn of last year.
“I am repentant for the things I have done and I am deeply ashamed the way I treated those professionals. It will stay with me forever.
“To this day I still feel a pang of anguish and shame whenever an ambulance passes me as it serves a reminder of that day and what I done.”
His lawyer Alastair Milne said: “Dr McDougall’s performance in his many years as a teacher has never been called into question. He is well respected by his colleagues and he has sought medical assistance for his alcohol problem.”
Dr McDougall took a retirement package earlier this month but wanted on the remain on the teaching register so that he could continue to provide tuition.
But Gillian Sim, case presenter for the GTCS, called for him to be struck off.
Ms Sim said there had also been an incident in 2006 when Dr McDougall kicked “a police officer in the body”. She said the incident was investigated at the time but no charges were brought forward.
She added: “The facts demonstrate that the defendant has repeatedly fallen below the standards expected.
“There is a clear pattern of inappropriate behaviour and his most recent conviction was in February of this year; just six-months ago.
“It is in the GTCS opinion that Dr McDougal be removed from the register and prohibited from reapplying for the maximum of two-years.”
Panel chairman Yusuf Segovia said: “Your actions have clearly demonstrated that there is an impairment to teach. We have decided that you will be removed from the register and prohibited from reapplying until six months.”]]>
The woman, from the central belt, lost almost £100,000 – her life savings.
Yesterday (tues) Police Scotland revealed that there has been a “drastic increase” in the number of people – most of them OAPs – being caught out.
Vishing is when a criminal calls their victim claiming to be from their bank’s fraud department and says that their account has been “compromised”.
Victims are urged to transfer their money from the compromised account to a “safe” one, which actually belongs to the scammers and is immediately emptied.
According to Police Scotland Detective Inspector Arron Clinkscales it is “predominantly the elderly and infirm” who are being targeted.
Throughout Scotland there have been 26 incidents reported with £1.3m being stolen by fraudsters.
In Edinburgh alone £720,000 has been taken over 17 attempts, with the other being in the “north” and “west” of country.
Speaking Yesterday DI Clinkscales said that it was mainly people in their “60s, 70s, 80s and 90s” being targeted, with the oldest victim being 92.
The woman lost her life savings worth £99,000 in the “very convincing fraud”.
The largest amount lost by a single victim was £163,499, while the lowest was £16,000.
At an event held at the Royal Bank of Scotland’s headquarters in Edinburgh yesterday it was revealed that institutions including the Bank of Scotland, Barclays and Santander had all taken hits.
DI Clinkscales also revealed that on some occasions victims had actually been taken into the banks by criminals to withdraw the money.
Chris Wilson, Managing Director of RBS in Scotland said that all their frontline staff were trained to spot such attempts.
As part of the scam, victims are put off their guard by being encouraged to hang up and call the number on the back of their bank card.
But the fraudsters simply stay on the line and pick up their victims “call”, usually with another criminal answering to avoid raising suspicion.
DI Clinkscales said: “Those responsible for committing these offences are despicable individuals who mostly prey on the elderly and vulnerable members of our communities.
“It is essential that police and the banking industry work together to address this matter and ensure that the public are fully informed on the type of tactics criminals will utilise to obtain their personal details or money.
“Our awareness-raising posters be available within bank branches throughout Edinburgh and local policing teams will deliver crime prevention leaflets to various addresses across the city.
“In addition, bank staff are being given additional training to identify potential victims before they remove large sums of money from their accounts.
“I would like to take this opportunity to remind the public that neither the police, nor banks, will cold-call an account holder and ask for personal details, or for money to be transferred elsewhere.
“If you receive a call like this, do not comply. Hang up and ensure the line has been cleared before contacting police.”
Chris Wilson, Royal Bank of Scotland Managing Director RBS in Scotland said: “Fraudsters work by creating fear that a customers savings may be under threat. No bank will ever ask a customer to transfer their savings or part of their savings to another account or another bank in order to “protect the funds”.
We’re delighted to join Police Scotland in this campaign to raise customer awareness around how these scams work.”]]>
Zoo chiefs fear the noise from low-flying planes and helicopters could cause the pregnant giant panda to lose her cub.
An official aviation notice was issued last month to prevent flights within a mile radius of the world-famous tourist attraction.
Zoo bosses said the restriction was originally brought in to help breeding penguins but now helped protect Tian Tian, who is due to give birth on August 31.
Hopes are high that Tian Tian will produce a panda cub after two years of disappointment.
An official Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) was issued in mid-July.
A zoo insider said: “The main reason for the NOTAM was for the penguins as it’s their main breeding time.
“But the Panda was also a factor.”
A CAA spokesman confirmed that they did issue the notice based on a request from the zoo.
The spokesman said: “Following a request from Edinburgh Zoo through the Air Traffic Control Unit at Edinburgh Airport, we issued a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) on 11 July requesting pilots to not fly within a one mile radius of the zoo or below 1,900 feet above sea level.”
The official notice expired on July 31 but Edinburgh Airport said an informal arrangement was still in place to avoid zoo airspace.
A spokesman said: “We can’t enforce people not to fly so it is a request to helicopters and small planes.
“The request has come from the Zoo and Edinburgh airport and air traffic control are happy to work with.
“So we’re requesting that aircraft do not fly over the Zoo.”
The normal flight path for commercial jets approaching Edinburgh Zoo rarely takes large aircraft closer than two miles.
Edinburgh Zoo said in its official statement that the no-fly request was “to prevent disturbance to all animals in the collection”.
“It is particularly relevant at this time of year due to the regular increased activity of low flying aircraft and hovering helicopters which occur as a result of the festival.
“We have been in contact with the Military Tattoo and the RAF for several years now and they have both always been very supportive and considerate of our requests.”
Police Scotland was made aware of the notice and took it into account when flying its helicopter in Edinburgh.
However, the force was prepared to fly over the zoo if necessary in an emergency.
Last year experts believed Tian Tian became pregnant last year but lost her cub at late term.
Although panda pregnancies are notoriously unpredictable, the latest scientific data suggests she is on course to give birth on August 31.
Other NOTAMS in Scotland in recent days include a warning about a model rocket firing an event in Ayrshire.
Along with an air display in Strathaven, a fireworks display in Dumfries and kite flying in Girvan.]]>