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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...

Angus & The Mearns

Man sacked for attending gin festival while off sick with stress

January 9 2018

A Dundee man was sacked while on sick leave following the murder of one of his friends and the disappearance of a close friend's son when his bosses found out he had gone to a gin festival. Stan Reid was off work due to stress associated with the hunt for teenager Ralph Smith, who had fallen from cliffs near Arbroath, and the subsequent killings of Julie McCash and David Sorrie following a vigil at the teenager's family home in Whitfield. However, bosses at the city's Michelin factory learned he had attended a gin festival  and fired him for gross misconduct. An employment tribunal in Dundee yesterday heard the company was alerted to a Facebook post, in which Mr Reid was tagged, that suggested he was at the event in Glasgow. A comment from him, stating "I'm not there", was followed by a comment from his girlfriend which said "shhh...." The factory's production manager and joint disciplinary committee (JDC) chairman David Ashforth said the messages suggested Mr Reid was not as sick as his employers had been led to believe. He said: "For me and the panel, we felt that if he could go to a gin festival then he could go to his work. "I understand the circumstances around this were difficult but why was going to a gin festival a good idea?" The tribunal, heard by Peter Wallington QC, was told Mr Reid had been certified as sick due to stress as a result of the disappearance and murders. Mr Reid was a major part of the search effort for 18-year-old Ralph Smith— who he had known since his birth — in circumstances described by his solicitor Ryan Russell as "incredibly distressful." The tragedy was compounded when Ms McCash and Mr Sorrie were murdered. One month later, Ralph's death was confirmed after his body washed up on the town's Victoria Park. A second witness, Michelin's development manager Stuart Duncan, said he did not believe Mr Reid was sick but did not question the authenticity of his certification. Mr Russell questioned this rationale and  criticised Mr Duncan's failure to follow company procedure when he dismissed Mr Reid. Mr Duncan said he had already made the decision to dismiss him following the JDC, despite Mr Reid being told he would be given the opportunity to argue his case. Mr Russel said: "I would put it to you that this is shocking. "It's a complete and utter disregard for all proper process. You just dismissed Mr Reid before he had even uttered a word. He was not given a fair crack of the whip." Mr Duncan responded that his understanding was that the meeting was simply to "deliver my decision". The tribunal continues today.

Farming news

Aberdeen-Angus DNA test hailed by Victor Wallace

February 13 2015

The adoption of a new DNA test to authenticate the pedigree of all Aberdeen-Angus calves will put the breed in the vanguard of genomic technology, retiring Aberdeen-Angus Cattle Society president, Victor Wallace, told a packed annual at Stirling. The society has decided to collect blood samples using special ear tags which incorporate a small uniquely identified receptacle. As the tag is inserted soon after birth the small amount of displaced tissue and blood is captured ready for future DNA testing. Responding to criticism of the society’s decision to use only one company, Caisley, for the collection of samples, Mr Wallace insisted Caisley was the only ear tag company which had the technology to meet the society’s required specification. “We invited a number of ear tag companies to tender and some didn’t bother to reply while others couldn’t meet the spec,” said Mr Wallace. “It is a simple and inexpensive system which most breeders are finding easy to use.” The aim is to collect blood samples from all bull calves to enable the sire of all calves to be verified in the case of any uncertainty or dispute and to authenticate beef being sold as Aberdeen-Angus.” The move by the society has been welcomed by major supermarkets selling Aberdeen-Angus beef. Mr Wallace added: “This process was extensively and rigorously tested with management and council visits to the manufacturers in Germany and the completion of field trials. After this process it was brought back to council and unanimously approved. “Like all changes, there has been some resistance but I am convinced that putting the society in a position to be leading in genomic testing can only be a good one. “We should be leaders, not followers.” Mr Wallace admitted that a £34,000 re-branding exercise carried out over the past year, which included the dropping of the society’s long-established black, green and yellow colours, left room for “significant improvement”. The issue, particularly improvement to the website, would, he said, be addressed in the coming year. The decision to prop up the pension fund of chief executive, Ron McHattie, by £120,000 in four tranches was defended by new president, David Evans, who explained that it was a “catching up” operation as the funding of the pension had not been addressed for 11 years and annuity rates had halved in that time. Mr Evans, who works as a financial adviser, runs a 60-cow pedigree herd in Cleveland with his wife, Penny, and has been chairman of the society’s breed promotion committee. He is planning a series of open days throughout the country this year to promote the commercial attributes of the Aberdeen-Angus breed. “There is a huge and growing demand for certified Aberdeen-Angus beef with the active involvement of most of the leading supermarkets in the UK and registrations in the Herd Book are at a record level and continuing to increase,” said Mr Evans. “But we can’t stand still and it is important that the breed adopts all the latest technology to take the breed forward in the future.” New senior vice-president is Tom Arnott, Haymount, Kelso, while Alex Sanger, Prettycur, Montrose, was appointed junior vice-president.


£34,000 fake babies scam man ordered to pay back £1

June 29 2017

A businessman who faked the birth of 26 non-existent babies using phony birth certificates for fictitious home births as part of a massive, organised benefit scam has been ordered to pay back just £1 of the stolen cash. Rory McWhirter, director of property firm Capital Residential Ltd, concocted the complicated scheme while living with his paediatric doctor girlfriend in Dundee, who had charges against her dropped. He duped people into applying for fake jobs at a Glasgow hotel through an ad on Gumtree – then used their identity details and those of other couples to get copies of their marriage certificates. He then used those and forged letters claiming the children had been born in home births before using them to register the non-existent children. https://www.thecourier.co.uk/fp/news/local/dundee/395486/businessman-jailed-faking-26-births-benefits-fraud-scam/ McWhirter, 29, then used the birth certificates for non-existent children to claim for tax credits, child benefit and maternity grants – raking in a total of £34,381.18. McWhirter was jailed for 28 months for the “sophisticated fraud” – and prosecutors lodged a Proceeds of Crime Act action in a bid to recoup the cash. Dundee Sheriff Court earlier heard McWhirter earned £80,000 a year – but on Wednesday it heard he has no assets of his own and that even his home is in girlfriend Kiyo Adya’s name, meaning he had no way of paying back the money. Depute fiscal Joanne Smith told the court an agreement had been reached with defence lawyers for an order to be made for just £1. However, the existence of the order means McWhirter will be liable in the future for the full £38,381.18 that he stole if he returns to work after his release from prison. Sheriff George Way said: “This is quite a complicated fraud. “He is saying in his answers that the only asset is the family home that is in his partner’s name. “I will make a confiscation order in the sum of £1.” McWhirter’s scheme was only rumbled after he returned to the scene of one of his early false birth registrations at Aberdeen registry office where he was recognised by staff. Around the same time, an “organised attack” on HMRC’s computer systems – which showed around 350 requests had been received for tax credits application forms from an address in Dundee and others in Campbelltown linked to McWhirter – triggered other alarms. In the end it was McWhirter’s BMW Z4 convertible car that he used to travel to the registrar offices across Scotland that led police to his door.


Fife father used fake documents to enrol son into school a year early

May 16 2014

A Fife father is facing jail after using fake documents to enrol his son in school a year early because his wife couldn’t cope with having all nine of their children at home. Shahazad Aslam, 40, from Kirkcaldy, admitted charges of fraud and attempted fraud at Cupar Sheriff Court on Thursday by enrolling his son in a primary school in April 2011, using false documents to confirm the child’s identity. The court heard that the boy, who we have chosen not to name, studied at the school for a year despite being too young to attend school and that Aslam carried out the offence as a means of helping his wife, who was struggling to cope with their large family. Fiscal depute Joanne Smith said Aslam initially contacted the school pretending he had a different first name and surname. “At that time he was advised of certain requirements regarding identification documents. He provided those on June 29 2011 including a birth certificate that he said had been translated into English. “In addition he presented a photocopy of a passport in the name of the child. The enrolment was deemed compliant and the child attended school from August 2011 onwards. “The child was part of an earlier intake than he should have been the birth certificate had different dates of birth.” Ms Smith added that in the months that followed there were “difficulties” with the child attending school. After he failed to attend in August 2012 Aslam was contacted, at which time he told the school he planned to enrol the boy in a different Fife school. Problems arose however when Aslam asked his child’s school to forward copies of identification documents to the new school but they refused. Ms Smith said: “He then said his child would stay where he was.” The court heard, however that Aslam’s wife, later attended the new school and provided the child’s genuine documents, including his original passport and birth certificate, which were compared with the original ones held at the first school and the offences therefore came to light. “Police were then advised and the accused was interviewed under caution but the accused denied any wrongdoing and appeared confused about the allegations.” Aslam’s defence lawyer, Ryan Sloan admitted it was a “highly unusual case”. “Essentially if the child had been born six weeks earlier he would have been in that school year,” he said. Sheriff Charles Macnair QC deferred sentence until June 11 at Dundee Sheriff Court for the preparation of a criminal justice report and restriction of liberty assessment and released Aslam on bail.


Businessman jailed after faking 26 births for benefits fraud scam

March 28 2017

A businessman who crossed Scotland to register the births of 26 non-existent babies in a benefit fraud scam has been jailed. Rory McWhirter - director of property firm Capital Residential Ltd - concocted the complicated scheme while living with his paediatric doctor girlfriend in Dundee. She had charges against her dropped. He duped people into applying for fake jobs at a Glasgow hotel through an ad on Gumtree - then used their identity details and those of other couples to get copies of their marriage certificates. He then used those and forged letters claiming the children had been born in home births. McWhirter then used the birth certificates for non-existent children to claim for tax credits, child benefit and maternity grants. McWhirter's lawyer told Dundee Sheriff Court the scheme was "hardly Machiavellian" but a sheriff said it was a "sophisticated fraudulent scheme" and jailed the £80,000-a-year businessman for two years and four months. McWhirter, 29, of Douglas Crescent, Edinburgh, pleaded guilty on indictment to a charge of fraud committed between June 1 2014 and October 22 2015 at addresses across Scotland. In total he claimed tax credits amounting to £14,222.48, child benefits of £19,658.70 and a Sure Start maternity grant of £500 - a total of £34,381.18. His paediatric doctor girlfriend Kiyo Adya originally appeared in court alongside McWhirter last year but had the charges against her dropped.

UK & World

Idaho must allow gender changes on birth certificates, judge rules

March 6 2018

A federal judge has said the state of Idaho can not keep automatically rejecting applications from transgender people seeking to change the gender listed on their birth certificates.US Magistrate Judge Candy Dale says rules by the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare violate the Equal Protection Clause of the US Constitution.She said on Monday the state must begin considering applications to change the sex listed on birth certificates under new, constitutionally sound rules by April 6.The ruling also says reissued birth certificates can not include a record of the gender having been changed.Most states already allow such changes but Idaho was one of four — including Kansas, Ohio and Tennessee — prohibiting transgender people from changing their birth certificate to reflect their gender identity.

Road tests

Audi Q2 puts quality over size

March 21 2018

Audi’s Q2 was one of the first premium compact SUVs on the market. It sits below the Q3, Q5 and the gigantic, seven seat Q7 in Audi’s ever growing range. Although it’s about the same size as the Nissan Juke or Volkswagen T-Roc, its price is comparable with the much larger Nissan X-Trail or Volkswagen Tiguan. Even a basic Q2 will set you back more than £21,000 and top whack is £38,000. Then there’s the options list which is extensive to say the least. My 2.0 automatic diesel Quattro S Line model had a base price of £30,745 but tipped the scales at just over £40,000 once a plethora of additions were totted up. Size isn’t everything, however. In recent years there’s been a trend of buyers wanting a car that’s of premium quality but compact enough to zip around town. It may be a step down in size but the Q2 doesn’t feel any less classy than the rest of Audi’s SUV range. The interior looks great and is user friendly in a way that more mainstream manufacturers have never been able to match. The simple rotary dial and shortcut buttons easily trounce touchscreen systems, making it a cinch to skim through the screen’s menus. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4eQ5p5Z7-Ek&list=PLUEXizskBf1nbeiD_LqfXXsKooLOsItB0 There’s a surprising amount of internal space too. I took three large adults from Dundee to Stirling and no one complained about feeling cramped. As long as you don’t have a tall passenger behind a tall driver you can easily fit four adults. At 405 litres the boot’s big too – that’s 50 litres more than a Nissan Juke can muster. Buyers can pick from 1.0 and 1.4 litre petrol engines or 1.6 and 2.0 litre TDIs. Most Q2s are front wheel drive but Audi’s Quattro system is standard on the 2.0 diesel, as is a seven-speed S Tronic gear box. On the road there’s a clear difference between this and SUVs by manufacturers like Nissan, Seat and Ford. Ride quality, while firm, is tremendously smooth. Refinement is excellent too, with road and tyre noise kept out of the cabin. It sits lower than the Q3 or Q5 and this improves handling, lending the Q2 an almost go-kart feel. On a trip out to Auchterhouse, with plenty of snow still on the ground, I was appreciative of the four-wheel drive as well. The Q2 is expensive – though there are some good finance deals out there – but you get what you pay for. Few cars this small feel as good as the Q2 does. Price: £30,745 0-62mph: 8.1 seconds Top speed: 131mph Economy: 58.9mpg CO2 emissions: 125g/km


Study shows mistakes in one in 16 death certificates in Dundee

April 30 2013

One in every 16 death certificates issued in Dundee has mistakes, a study has found. Doctors have listed incorrect or incomplete causes of death, got the sequence of events leading up to a death muddled and in some cases even got the name of the deceased wrong. The errors have been uncovered during a pilot project run in the city ahead of the launch next year of a national system of independent medical reviews of death certificates. This will see a random sample of certificates referred by registrars to a medical reviewer, who will check them for quality and accuracy. The Dundee pilot ran from May 2012 to February 2013. A total of 505 certificates were subjected to a basic check, including a conversation with the issuing doctor, while another 69 were given a more comprehensive examination that saw the reviewer check the deceased’s medical records. Of that total of 574 investigations, 36 certificates were found to be wrong, with some containing several errors or omissions.Mistakes included the cause of death being wrong or too vague, conditions either being omitted or recorded when they should not have been and the sequence of the cause of death being wrong or illogical. Some certificates had the time and date of death wrong or missing or the location of the death missing and some even had the deceased’s personal details including their name wrong or omitted. Some doctors forgot to include their own name or address or their medical qualifications. A Scottish Government report said: “The vast majority of reviews found medical cause of death certificates (MCCDs) to be in order, but there are some examples where reviews highlighted areas that doctors may require some guidance on. “The benefits identified through the test site process are that it provides a good opportunity to support and educate doctors about the importance of completing death certificates accurately.” Once the system comes into force next April, medical reviewers across Scotland will be expected to check the accuracy of as many as a quarter of all death certificates. The Scottish Government report said it would be important for doctors and funeral directors to warn families this might happen. Reviews will have to be completed before a death is fully certified, so any delays in the process could results in funerals being postponed. A spokesperson for the British Medical Association in Scotland said: “The new death certification system is designed to help improve the accuracy of death certification. “Because the new system has a high level of scrutiny, it is much more likely that potential inaccuracy will be identified and corrected.”

UK & World

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.