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Motoring news

Audi’s new Q cars

April 12 2017

Another week, another new Audi. Two new Audis, in fact. The German car maker has announced a couple more additions to its Q line up of SUVs. The Q4 is a coupe-SUV hybrid that will go up against the BMW X4 and Mercedes GLC Coupe. As its name suggests, it’ll be positioned between the compact Q3 and bigger Q5. At the other end of the scale is the Q8, which will go head to head against the Range Rover. It’s lower and sleeker than the Q7 Audi is also producing. In concept form, it sat only four people, although it seems likely the production version will be a five seater. There’s a 630 litre boot as well. Eagle eyed Audi followers will notice the only SUV slots left to fill are the Q1 and Q6. Watch this space...

This student took his Tinder profile to the next level by turning it into a PowerPoint presentation

February 21 2018

Standing out from the crowd on Tinder can be tough, but with the help of Microsoft PowerPoint a British student has managed just that – and gone viral in the process.Sam Dixey, a 21-year-old studying at Leeds University, made a six-part slideshow entitled “Why you should swipe right” – using pictures and bullet points to shrewdly persuade potential dates to match with him on the dating app. The slideshow includes discussion of his social life and likes, such as “petting doggos” and “laser tag”, and “other notable qualities and skills” – such as being “not the worst at sex” and “generous when drunk”.It even has reviews mocked up from sources such as “Donald Trump”, “Leonardo Di Capri Sun” and “The Times Guide to Pancakes 2011”.Sam told the Press Association the six-slide presentation only took about 20 minutes to make and “started off as a joke”.However, since being posted to Twitter by fellow Tinder user Gracie Barrow, Sam’s slideshow has been shared tens of thousands of times across social media.So, it’s got the seal of approval form Gracie, but how has the slideshow fared on Tinder? “I’d have to say it has been pretty successful,” Sam said. “Definitely a clear correlation of matches and dates beforehand to afterwards.“Most of the responses tend to revolve around people saying ‘I couldn’t help swipe right 10/10’ but I’ve had some people go the extra mile and message me on Facebook.“Plus some people have recognised me outside, in the library and on dates.”A resounding success.

Business news

Tax planning actions to consider

March 16 2015

Nicola Sargeant, a tax manager at Henderson Loggie, shares advice on how to make the most of the tax year end and some changes for lower earners in the new tax year. With the end of the tax year approaching now is the time to ensure you have fully utilised the reliefs and exemptions available to you as an individual. These include: ISAs Probably the most obvious, but often overlooked, is to use up your ISA entitlement. The cash limit increased significantly from 1 July 2014, when New ISAs (NISAs) were introduced. The NISAs allow any combination of cash and shares up to a maximum of £15,000. Prior to 1 July 2014, there was a limit of £5,940 on cash investments. As announced in the March 2015 Budget, the rate from 6 April 2015 will be £15,240 and from this date you will be able to take out your money and put it back in within the same year, without losing your ISA tax benefits - as long as the repayment is made in the same financial year as the withdrawal. (To see this and other changes announced in the 2015 Budget click here.) Capital Gains Tax (CGT) Annual Exemption The CGT annual exemption (£11,000 for 2014/15) is available for offsetting against capital gains arising in the same year. If unused, the exemption is lost and cannot be carried forward. Pensions Contributions to pension funds should not be overlooked as tax relief is available, albeit there are limits to the amount of tax relief available, on payments into a pension fund. Inheritance Tax (IHT) The first £3,000 of annual transfers is exempt for IHT purposes. If unused, the exemption can be carried forward for use in the next year. Small gifts of £250 to any one person are exempt from IHT. If you are gifting cash each year, it is advisable to make full use of the above exemptions. Tax Efficient Investments in Business Enterprise Certain investments attract income tax relief, although there are limits to the amounts that can be invested each year. Such investments include the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS), Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS) and Venture Capital Trusts (VCT). EIS A qualifying EIS company must meet several criteria and be an unquoted trading company. Income tax relief is only available if the individual does not have a connection with the company. A connection would be someone that has been an employee or director or controls more than 30% of the company. Income tax relief is given at 30% of the amount invested, up to a maximum investment of £1,000,000. The relief is given as a tax reducer and, therefore, will only reduce your income tax liability and would not create a tax repayment. Capital gains arising from disposals in the 36 months before or 12 months after the EIS investment can be deferred. The gain deferred is then taxable when the EIS shares are sold or no longer qualify as EIS shares. SEIS Similar to EIS but focuses on smaller companies in the early stages of setting up business in a qualifying trade. Maximum amount of investment is significantly less at £100,000 but income tax relief is given at 50%. Again, as with EIS, this reduces your income tax liability. For SEIS subscriptions, a reinvestment relief is available for CGT on gains arising in the same year. Half of the amount invested can be used to reduce or eliminate capital gains arising in the same year. VCT VCTs are quoted companies investing in qualifying unquoted trading companies. The income tax relief is at the same rate as for EIS (30%) but the maximum investment is restricted to £200,000. Another highlight to a VCT investment is that the dividend income received from VCTs is exempt from income tax. If certain criteria are met, the sale of shares in all three of the above types of investments is exempt from CGT. Looking ahead to the next tax year, for lower earners, there are a two changes from April 2015 that you should be mindful of: the savings income nil rate band and personal allowance transfer. Read more helpful information on end of year tax planning both for individuals and business owners here. Savings Income Nil Rate Band From April 2015, the savings rate band for income tax reduces from 10% to 0%, which means individuals with savings income of less than £15,600, may not pay any tax. This will be extended from April 2016 as announced in the March 2015 Budget. There will be no tax due on the first £1,000 (or £500 for higher rate taxpayers) of interest earned on savings. If you expect your total income to be less than £15,600 for 2015/16 (£15,660 if born before 6 April 1938), you may be able to ask your bank to pay your interest gross (without deduction of tax). This is done by completing HMRC’s form R85 and handing this in to your bank. Unless they receive a signed R85 from you, banks are required by law to pay interest on non-ISA accounts net of 20% tax (ISA accounts are exempt from income tax and are paid gross). There are, however, some types of non-ISA accounts which are paid gross and your bank could advise on this. HMRC also have an online tool, which can be found at http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/tools/r85/r85-2015.htm, for helping you to determine if you can apply to receive your interest gross. If you are required to complete tax returns, any tax overpaid on your investment income can be claimed via self assessment. If your spouse has low income, it may be worthwhile transferring part of your interest generating investments to your spouse to fully utilise both of your personal allowances and savings nil rate bands. Personal Allowance Transfer From April 2015, for basic rate taxpayers, it is possible to transfer £1,060 of your personal allowance to your spouse. This means that if your spouse does not use all of their personal allowance, up to £1,060 of the allowance can be transferred to you, which would result in a tax saving of up to £212. If this is of interest to you, you can let HMRC know by registering at the following link: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/registration-opens-for-new-married-couples-tax-break and HMRC will email you once it is possible to claim. HMRC have still to confirm how the transfer will operate and, hopefully, we will have more information on this soon. For more information email enquiries@hlca.co.uk. This is a sponsored article by Henderson Loggie. Find out more at hlca.co.uk.

Business news

The autumn statement and pensions flexibility what did Santa deliver?

January 5 2015

Chancellor George Osborne delivered his autumn statement last month, much of which confirmed what we already knew, and which was covered in our October article. However, there were one or two surprises and so it is perhaps worthwhile both confirming some of the good news, and unwrapping those unexpected financial gifts. Pensions: what’s the good news? April 5 will herald a brave new dawn of pension flexibility. Gone will be the requirement to buy an annuity and, from the age of 55, people will have the ability to access as much of their pension pot as they wish. Of course, caution should be urged in this respect as pension funds should primarily be seen as a source of income in retirement. If money is spent in the short term, individuals may well have insufficient funds to last them in retirement. However, provided care is taken, greater flexibility will be available for those who may previously have been frustrated with the narrower alternative options of either annuity purchase or drawing down income with a limited ceiling. Q What options are there when taking money out? A The ability to draw a flexible and unlimited amount of income, in addition to the 25% tax-free lump sum, will provide much wider scope for general retirement planning. If larger capital sums are required in the short term, perhaps a wedding to pay for or a replacement car, then a larger pension amount could be taken whilst retaining the balance for future years. Provided the pension plan allows, individuals will have the ability to access infrequent and indiscriminate amounts of pension fund as and when they so wish. Q What happens to pension funds on death? A More detail was provided in relation to the position on death before age 75. We already knew that from April this year the proposal was that ‘drawdown’ pots could be passed to beneficiaries with no liability to tax. However, the vast majority of people who have annuities and not drawdown funds were given some very welcome news. Essentially, if an annuity has been bought with a spouse’s entitlement, or an unexpired guaranteed period in the event of death before age 75, then this will also be payable free of income tax. Effectively, this brings the treatment of annuities into line with drawdown rules, a very welcome and fair amendment to the original proposals. On death after the age of 75 any beneficiary will pay income tax on funds they draw. It was confirmed that for 2015/16, this will be at a flat rate of 45%. In subsequent years, however, the beneficiary will pay income tax at their relevant rate on any sums drawn. Importantly, any beneficiary can leave money in the pension plan and draw money from it as and when they choose, leading to opportunities to remain within income tax thresholds. Is there any bad news? On the down side of these changes, if the new flexible use of pensions is triggered, individuals will be restricted to a reduced maximum annual allowance of £10,000 which can be paid into a pension, in addition to which the use of ‘carry forward’ of previous years’ allowances will no longer be available. Q What about ISA ‘inheritability’? A This is where the Chancellor really sprang a surprise. With effect from the date of the autumn statement people will, on death, be able to pass on the full value of their ISA portfolio to spouses and civil partners within the tax-exempt status of the ISA ‘wrapper’. Conceivably, this could lead to substantial funds remaining in tax-exempt funds, which previously have been their deceased partner’s ISA fund, in order to retain the tax advantages of the wrapper. There will be no impact on the spouse’s/civil partner’s own ISA annual allowance. Q Do these changes create planning opportunities? A Very possibly. The traditional objection to pension funding has always been a frustration at the inability to ‘get the money back’ that has been put in. That objection will become obsolete after April 5. Any money paid in will effectively be either: * Fully accessible after age 55. * Paid to beneficiaries tax free on death before age 75. * Payable to beneficiaries at their own rate of income tax on death after age 75. As a result of this new era of pension flexibility, people may be much more inclined to take advantage of the tax relief available on contributions, safe in the knowledge that beyond age 55, the fund will be available in the event that capital is needed due to a sudden change in circumstances. Money previously held in a bank savings account, for example, may possibly be put to better use by redirecting this into pensions in order to obtain tax relief, tax-free growth, and a 25% tax-free lump sum. This may be of benefit for those already using the current flexible pension options. Whilst we would always urge caution in the prudent use of pension fund monies, there is no question that these impending changes will widen the choices available for UK savers. It brings into sharp focus the increased advantages and flexibility now available through pension planning, whilst removing some of the long-standing concerns held by many. In addition, the Government seems to be increasingly keen to incentivise and help those who want to save that alone has to be a good thing! * Any references to tax and legislation is based on our understanding of law and HM Revenue & Customs practice at the date of publication. Tax and legislation are liable to change. Tax relief may be altered, and the value to the investor depends on their financial circumstances. The purpose of this article is to provide technical and generic guidance and should not be interpreted as a personal recommendation or advice. Investment entails risk, which means the asset values can increase or decrease and you may not get back what you put in.

Business news

Dougy Agnew of Henderson Loggie puts creative-sector tax relief in spotlight

February 2 2015

A recent Government consultation on a new tax relief for orchestral companies is just the latest move to help what may be termed ‘creative’ companies. As Tayside contains a significant number of creative organisations and businesses engaged in, for example, the games sector, the increase in creative-sector tax reliefs is worth looking at in some detail. It all started in April 2013 when the Government introduced tax reliefs for animation and high-end television. At that time it was proposed there would also be a video games tax relief available. However, that relief was delayed due to concerns raised by the European Union and, in particular, the cultural requirements of such a relief. The video games tax relief is now in place, effective from April 1 2014. A final relief was introduced relevant to theatres and productions which is called the theatre tax relief and is effective for expenditure incurred after September 1 2014. These new regimes only apply to companies, so structural changes may be required in order to unlock these. The claims are made within the body of the company tax return, so the quicker the financial accounts are completed, the sooner the claim can be lodged. Therefore, what readers need to know are the main criteria and benefits of these exciting new tax regimes. All the new tax reliefs are derived using the concepts of ‘European Economic Area expenditure’ and ‘core expenditure’, with at least 25% of this expenditure requiring to be consumed in the EEA. The relief works by allowing the company to take an additional deduction, which is capped at a percentage of core expenditure. Two of these regimes, namely the video games and the animation tax relief, require the content to be certified by the British Film Institute (BFI) and pass what is referred to as a points-based cultural ‘test’. Although this is referred to as a test, in our recent video games seminar in Dundee the BFI confirmed it will work with companies to try to help them meet this test. Key to this step is making the application well in advance of any financial and taxation deadlines that may be coming along, as factoring in this application late in the day could have a detrimental impact on obtaining the tax relief. Each regime is quite descriptive as to the nature of expenditure that has to be undertaken in order to obtain the tax relief but, assuming that the right type of expenditure is incurred, a valuable tax benefit will be obtained. For example, in the context of video games tax relief, the relief is available to video games development companies primarily responsible for designing, producing and testing (not de-bugging) the game, but not for advertising, promotion or gambling purposes. The extra tax relief is equal to the lower of the actual EEA expenditure and 80% of the core expenditure incurred. This relief then reduces the tax payable for profitable companies or, in the case of loss-making companies, the enhanced loss can be surrendered back to HM Revenue & Customs for up to a 25% tax repayment. The loss surrendered is capped by reference to the level of qualifying core expenditure. Now, let us turn to the orchestra tax relief that is planned to be effective from April 1 of next year onwards. From a cursory glance of the January 23 consultative document (responses required by March 5), this relief will follow a similar tune. Therefore, provided the right type of company is identified and the correct core type of orchestra-related costs are claimed, there will be the potential for companies to claim a 25% repayable tax credit for touring loss-making companies, or a tax reduction for profitable companies. In a similar manner to theatre tax relief, it is proposed that the rate will drop to 20% for non-touring orchestras. At a time when Tayside is preparing for the cultural benefit of the V&A, the business sector should embrace these creative-sector tax reliefs.

Readers' letters

Cancer charity letter a timely warning

June 14 2013

Sir, Jim Smith’s letter about the charity Coping With Cancer North East is timely. We received one of their donation bags and my wife and I noticed that it is allegedly a registered charity in England and Wales, but not in Scotland. Fearing that someone had stolen some of their collection bags and was distributing in Scotland without their knowledge, I contacted Coping with Cancer North East to alert them that their bags were being distributed in our village. I did not get even a whisper of a reply, which makes me wonder if Coping With Cancer North East is a real charity. Surely, if it is, someone would have contacted me to reassure me, or, if the bags are being distributed without their knowledge, to ask for further information. There have been scandals in the past surrounding donation bag collections for “charities” and even the big names have been affected. I would urge people to be cautious about leaving bags full of donated materials out, especially for little-known organisations like Coping With Cancer North East. (Captain) Ian F. McRae. 17 Broomwell Gardens, Monikie. Bank pay-offis obscene Sir, Stephen Hester, chief executive of RBS, is being pushed out after a five-year tenure with a pay-off of £5.6 million. Surely this is totally obscene? Mr Hester was on an impressive salary along with a bonus which makes the severance settlement even more absurd. When are the bank’s failures and the cost to the taxpayer going to be resolved? Jim Balneaves. 4 Tayside Place, Glencarse, Perth. Some things never change Sir, I read with interest the article in The Courier by Mark Mackay regarding the problems caused by the A85 passing through the centre of Crieff. Apart from the diminishing air quality caused by the ever-increasing volume of traffic, the constant stream of cars and lorries makes both shopping and communication a very hazardous experience for both young and old. Whilst, like many others, I am delighted with the efforts being made by the various groups and authorities to remedy the problems and restore quality living, I remain somewhat cynical about a remedy being put in place. In 1958 a planning inquiry by the former Perthshire County Council came up with a few gems which seem quite apposite some 55 years later! The following makes interesting reading: “Giving evidence yesterday at the resumed public inquiry into objections against the new proposed relief road for Crieff, Inspector James Scobie, Crieff, said that if traffic volume doubled in 20 years’ time, it would mean standstill conditions in the town’s main street. “Mr James S McGavin, the county council’s planning officer said that if the volume of traffic was doubled in 20 years’ time, the position in Crieff’s main street would become chaotic. Consideration has been given to widening the main street but the cost of acquiring property to achieve that would be prohibitive. “Proper by-pass roads were proposed but rejected. In his opinion the relief road was the correct solution to the problem. The planning authority recognised that Crieff was a holiday centre and therefore decided to keep the relief road as close as possible to the existing shopping centre.” In view of the present financial climate, I am afraid an early and obvious solution will be yet further delayed. Colin Mayall. 5a East High Street, Crieff. High hopes for bowling alley Sir, Good luck to the investors wishing to reinstate the former bowling alley in Glenrothes town centre. It should attract as many visitors to its doors as local people. The bingo halls, betting shops and our few remaining pubs seem to be doing a roaring trade (just try getting out of Morrisons’ car park on a weekend afternoon!) and our “carry-out” emporiums. Let’s have the bowling alley back. A T Geddie. 68 Carleton Avenue, Glenrothes. Still important to society Sir, Your editorial piece, A little faith can go a long way, June 11, was a superbly written and balanced piece of journalism. I do not understand why a few hundred, albeit very well organised, Scottish secularist activists want to drive out even the very minimum level of Christian observance in Scottish state schools. Apart from anything else, schoolchildren should see in practice some of the belief system which has been part of Scotland and its people for centuries. In our fragmented society church groups are still far more important and popular in the villages and towns of Scotland than any small secular society or club chattering in our big cities. As your piece put it, even those with no interest in organised religion should be glad to know “their children are being taught some traditional values”. Well done The Courier. I am sure you spoke for many. Angus Logan. 2 York Road, North Berwick.

Business news

Plea to Hammond to freeze business rates as firms face further hikes

February 26 2018

Experts are urging Chancellor Philip Hammond to freeze rises in commercial property tax bills in next month’s spring statement after figures revealed above-inflation hikes are hitting nearly a quarter of a million business premises.After business rate bills began hitting doormats across England last week, new figures from real estate adviser Altus Group reveal that over 242,000 firms face rises of more than 3% in their business rates from April – with nearly 52,500 suffering increases of more than 20%.It comes despite Mr Hammond’s pledge in the November Budget to bring forward the switch in the inflation measure used to calculate annual increases from 2020 to this April.This meant that business rates would increase annually in line with September’s lower Consumer Price Index (CPI) of 3%.But due to phasing in of the recent revaluation changes – which saw crippling rate hikes for thousands of firms – many firms will see rises far greater than inflation.Alex Probyn, president of Altus Group, said it was “not too late” for Mr Hammond to freeze further rises in rates in his spring statement.He said: “The past few months have seen a stream of collapses across both the retail and hospitality sectors with many others teetering on the brink or considering large scales closures.”“Historically, the spring is when chancellors have made key fiscal decisions so it’s not too late for a freeze in inflationary rises to help cushion the blow for those in transition amidst challenging trading conditions.”Analysis of government data by Altus found that 119,665 small premises, 110,502 medium sized premises and 12,107 large premises will all see tax rises greater than last September’s 3% CPI rate totalling business rate rises of £712.75 million. The phased-in transitional relief also means 52,483 properties will see rises in their rates bills of over 20%, while 9,235 will see rises of more than 30%.Business rate hikes have been blamed for adding pressure to firms in the retail and leisure sector in particular, with celebrity chef Jamie Oliver the latest to fall foul.His restaurant chains have been hit by huge bill rises, forcing him to close one of his London Barbecoa eateries and buy out the other in a rescue deal.Recent figures showed the Government is set to cash in to the tune of £25 billion as it reaps the rewards of last year’s controversial business rates  revaluation.The amount of money raked in from businesses by local authorities in England is set to rise by £845 million to £24.8 billion for 2018/19.The business rates overhaul on April 1 saw 1.9 million properties in England revalued and left many businesses facing eye-watering increases.Independent forecaster the Office for Budget Responsibility revealed that £4.5 billion has been set aside to cover tax rebates across England over the next five years.But appeals under the new Check, Challenge, Appeal system reached 12,840 in the first nine months, compared with 169,300 during the first full year of the previous regime, according to data earlier this month from the Valuation Tribunal Service.

News

Advertising feature: Taking control of your pension fund

March 27 2013

It’s a question many of us might ask ourselves. “If I want to take control of my pension fund, how do I go about doing it?” If you haven’t yet asked yourself that question, have you thought long and hard about your pension options or are you simply happy to persist with your existing pension? The problem that many people are having is that their existing pension fund is underperforming and has been doing so for a while. According to research 14 of the 20 largest pension funds have been underperforming over the last 10 years[1]. This could easily apply to you. If your pension fund is underperforming, it could be time for a change. So, what is the solution? This could lie with self-invested personal pensions.What is a self invested personal pension?A self invested personal pension or SIPP is a “do it yourself pension scheme” where you make all the decisions in relation to how and where your pension fund is invested.How does it work?Once you open a SIPP you have the complete freedom to decide exactly where your pension pot is invested. One of the big advantages is the range of SIPP pension investments, which with the top providers can be in the 1,000s if you therefore choose your investments wisely there is the potential to make a lot of money.Will I be charged?When investing in a SIPP, it’s likely that you’ll encounter a number of different charges. For example with some SIPPs you’ll be required to pay a fee when you open the pension, annual charges and then a fee each time you buy or sell investments. At one time this list of charges made SIPPs a pension scheme reserved for the super rich. However, there are now many low cost alternatives on the market which still offer a wide range of potential investments, but which don’t charge fees for establishing the pension or any annual charges you’ll also secure a low charge the more deals you do. This low cost alternative has opened up the market to make SIPPs accessible to the majority of people in the UK.Where can I invest?The following are examples of the kind of options for investment provided by leading SIPP providers:Stocks and shares Unit trusts and OEICs Government bonds Corporate bonds Permanent interest bearing shares Warrants Investment trusts Exchange traded funds and commodities What tax will I pay?The tax relief for a SIPP follows the same lines as tax benefits for any kind of personal pension, i.e. any contribution you make into the pension will be done so “net” of basic rate tax, which basically means the tax man will give you 20%. Higher rate tax payers are able to claim even more tax relief through self-assessment.Is it the right choice for me?The first question to ask yourself is whether or not you are satisfied with your existing pension. Is it performing as you’d expect? Do you feel it’s underperforming? If the answer is yes you may want to consider switching the funds to a SIPP. If you feel confident in making the decisions yourself (you can always seek the help of a financial advisor) then a SIPP may be the ideal choice for you. It could well be time for a change. [1] http://www.employeebenefits.co.uk/benefits/pensions/over-60-billion-invested-in-underperforming-pension-funds/100625.article

Motoring news

Join the queue for littlest Audi Q

November 9 2016

Audi’s relentless release of new models continues with the launch of its smallest SUV. The Q2 goes on sale in the UK next week with prices starting at £22,380. There’s an extensive selection of petrol and diesel power trains as well as the option of front or Quattro four-wheel drive. More models will be added to the range later on, including powerful SQ2 and RSQ2 versions. Aimed squarely at a younger audience, the Q2 has bolder, sharper lines and a different shape to Audi’s bigger SUVs, the Q3, Q5 and Q7. Although it’s clearly meant more for buzzing around cities than growling across farmland, cladding and skid plates lend it an aura of ruggedness. Audi is also offering a range of vibrant colours to deepen the Q2’s appeal to youthful buyers. The interior is as plush as you’d expect from Audi, justifying its price hike over similarly sized SUVs like the Nissan Juke and Honda HR-V. The materials are high quality – softtouch plastics, leather on higher spec cars and brushed aluminium trim elements all blended into a smart-looking package. As standard, drivers get a seven-inch infotainment screen on top of the dashboard. It’s operated through Audi’s rotary dial system that’s far more intuitive and easier to use when on the move than rivals’ touchscreen systems. Among the many options is Audi’s excellent Virtual Cockpit - a 12.3in screen that replaces the manual instruments behind the steering wheel. Overall, the Q2 is 4.7in shorter than the A3 hatchback, but Audi says there’s enough leg and headroom for two adult passengers in the back. Boot space comes in at 405 litres – 50 more than you’ll find in the A3 hatchback and rival Nissan Juke, although it trails the Mini Countryman by the same amount. To begin with, the only diesel option is a 1.6 litre with 114bhp, although a more powerful 184bhp 2.0 litre unit will be added to the range soon. Similarly, the petrol engine range is limited for now but will be expanded by the end of the year. The 1.4 litre, 148bhp unit offered now will be joined by 1.0 litre, 114bhp three cylinder turbo and 2.0 litre, 187bhp options – the latter coming with an S-Tronic automatic gearbox. When it arrives the 1.0 litre petrol version will be the cheapest model in the range with a price tag of £20,230. Courier Motoring has yet to get its hands on the car but early reviews have been very positive and Audi looks to have yet another winner on its hands. jmckeown@thecourier.co.uk

Dundee

Mary McLaren murder accused appears at preliminary hearing

April 7 2011

The man accused of raping and murdering Dundee mum Mary McLaren will stand trial early next month. Patrick James Rae (41), a prisoner at Perth, appeared from custody at the high court in Edinburgh at a preliminary hearing. Rae denies murdering and raping Mrs McLaren between February 25 and March 10, 2010. At the hearing defence advocate Mark Stewart QC lodged an updated witness list and a list of productions. Mr Stewart also outlined a number of outstanding issues that he moved could be dealt with on the trial date of Tuesday, May 3. There was no objection from advocate depute David Young QC, who also noted a number of procedural issues still to be resolved on the same date. Lord Tyre, who intimated he would preside over the trial, continued the case to the trial diet, for which six weeks have been set aside. Rae denies that at North Marketgait and elsewhere in Dundee he assaulted Mrs McLaren, of Rowantree Crescent, by seizing hold of her, forcibly removing her clothing, raping her, repeatedly punching her on the head, repeatedly striking her head and body on the ground and against a wall, or otherwise inflicting violence on her, repeatedly striking her on the neck with a knife or similar instrument, placing a piece of fabric or similar over her throat, seizing her by the throat, compressing, restricting her breathing and murdering her. He also denies that between February 25 and March 15, 2010, at North Marketgait, Dundee, Brechin Road in Arbroath and elsewhere unknown, he concealed the body of Mary McLaren under leaf litter and plant foliage at North Marketgait and, at the same location and elsewhere, removed and disposed of a coat, bagging contents belonging to Mary McLaren. It is also alleged that at the same location and elsewhere, he disposed of a knife or similar instrument, disposing of and washing clothes at Brechin Road, Arbroath, and elsewhere, doing so to avoid arrest, detection and prosecution and thus attempted to defeat the ends of justice.

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