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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

Answer to Easthaven carving mystery lies in Spain

March 4 2015

An expat sculptor has solved the mystery of a beautiful carving found in an Angus fishing village. Thomas (Tam) Walker, now living in Spain, said the carving was “fashioned by these fair hands of mine” as part of an art college project in Dundee in the 1960s. Mr Walker, a former Carnoustie High art teacher, contacted The Courier after his brother Mike forwarded our article to him and he said the story brightened up his day. The hard-fired terracotta sculpture depicted Robert the Bruce at the Declaration of Arbroath and it was discovered during a village clean-up in Easthaven. An appeal for information was launched after it was found close to the old post road where the pilgrims used to travel between Arbroath Abbey and St Andrews. Easthaven was popular with travellers in the 16th and 17th centuries and artefacts have previously been found there, including pilgrims’ brooches and a 12th-century coin. Residents thought the scuplture might have been of the same vintage but Mr Walker told The Courier it was “far from being of great antiquity.” He said: “By my memory o’ awfy cauld hauns when working on it, I can date it to the winter of 1967/68. “It is made of hard-fired terracotta and any metal therein was added for support and reinforcement. “I gave this panel to someone who asked if they might have it. Who that person was, for the life of me I cannot remember. “How it got to where it was found now that is a mystery.” Mr Walker, who was born in Arbroath, said he lived with his wife for 20 years at Long Row in Easthaven before the couple moved to Spain in 2000. As part of a project for college, Mr Walker made a maquette depicting the signing of the Declaration of Independence at the abbey on April 6 1320. He said: “The Easthaven part, which is featured in the article, was an enlarged detail and this depicted Robert the Bruce, having the declaration displayed to him by a clerk while Bernard de Linton stands behind and Douglas stands in front.” Mr Walker said each of these figures was based on some of the people who took part in the 1966 pageant in Arbroath. He said his lecturers at Duncan of Jordanstone sculpture department gave him a lot of encouragement and it was with their good grace that the pieces were fired in the department kilns. A founder member of the Abbey Theatre and Carnoustie HSFP Rugby Club, Mr Walker continues to work in sculpture in a studio in Spain.

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


Hilda Walker dies aged 103

March 16 2011

One of the oldest residents of Angus has died, aged 103. Hilda Walker was born at Rescobie, near Forfar, and attended Rescobie Primary and Forfar Academy. She took a secretarial course at Bruce's Business College in Dundee and, as a skilled shorthand writer and book-keeper, worked as a secretary and clerkess for a series of firms, ending her career with haulage firm Wilkies of Friockheim. A parishioner at Friockheim Parish Church, Ms Walker never married. She kept a dog and budgies and enjoyed training her birds to speak. Latterly she lived in Cairnie Lodge Nursing Home in Arbroath. Ms Walker's funeral will be at Friockheim Parish Church today.

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.


Former brother-in-law says SNP were warned of ‘tyrant and bully’ Bill Walker

August 23 2013

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon's office was given evidence that Bill Walker was "a tyrant and a bully" before he became an SNP MSP, it has been claimed. Walker, 71, an independent MSP for Dunfermline, was convicted of a string of domestic abuse charges spanning almost three decades following a trial at Edinburgh Sheriff Court. The First Minister has urged him to resign his seat in the Scottish Parliament. Walker’s former brother-in-law Rob Armstrong said he gave court documents to a staff member in Ms Sturgeon's parliamentary office in February 2008, years before Walker was elected and subsequently convicted for domestic abuse. SNP MSP Linda Fabiani said such allegations were "absolutely correctly" passed on to the party as they would not be a matter for an MSP's office. Mr Armstrong said the staff member "photocopied certain newspaper articles and advised me that she would pass this on to the executive and that I should expect to hear from someone in the executive in due course. I never heard anything further." When asked if the documents contained "hard evidence" about Walker's past, he said. "Yes. There was also the judgment of a Swindon court, where a judge described William George Walker as a tyrant and a bully." Ms Fabiani said Ms Sturgeon's constituency office acted "absolutely correctly" in passing the information to headquarters. "It's not a party office," she said. "It's your office as representative of the Scottish Parliament, and when someone comes in with a party issue the MSP's staff would say quite clearly that it's not a parliamentary matter, it's not a matter for the MSP." The SNP's vetting process is "stringent" but it is difficult to weed out liars, she said. She said: "We're not the police. We know that Bill Walker is a consummate liar. He denied everything in court. We know that he is manipulative and it's very difficult to get through that sometimes." Ms Fabiani said Walker should "never set foot in our parliament again" but acknowledged that parliamentary rules only permit MSPs to be ejected if they serve more than a year in prison. She added: "It was a summary case, so he won't go beyond a year whatever the sentence is. This has to be discussed and there will be many calls for that, and we should be discussing with Westminster how the rules can be changed." Sheriff Kathrine Mackie found the 71-year-old, from Alloa, guilty of 24 offences, which all took place between 1967 and 1995. She said he was not “a credible witness”. Mr Walker, elected for the SNP in 2011 but now serving as an independent MSP, denied all charges. Sheriff Mackie said: “There was evidence showing the accused to be controlling, domineering, demeaning and belittling towards the three complainers, his former wives. “The evidence also showed him to be untrustworthy, disloyal and unfaithful towards others including his present wife.” Walker, who has so far refused to stand down from Holyrood, will be sentenced on September 20. First Minister Alex Salmond and SNP leader Alex Salmond said: “Although he has yet to be sentenced, in my view someone convicted of these offences is not fit to be a public representative and therefore he should stand down from the Scottish Parliament and allow the people of Dunfermline to elect a new MSP. “Mr Walker was expelled from the SNP in April 2012 and his conviction by a court of law reinforces his expulsion.” Labour’s Dunfermline and West Fife MP Thomas Docherty said: “Bill Walker must now allow West Fife to be served by an MSP who is capable of performing the role properly and resign from the Scottish Parliament straight away.” A spokesman for the Scottish Conservatives said: “It’s astonishing the SNP thought this man was fit to be an MSP after Nicola Sturgeon’s office was informed of a number of allegations against him.” Labour’s Mid Scotland and Fife MSP Claire Baker also called for Walker to stand down for his “vile conduct” which she said “shames the Scottish Parliament”. Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said: “What sort of message would it send to victims of domestic abuse if Bill Walker was allowed to keep his seat in Parliament despite his conviction?” Walker refused to comment outside the court following the verdict but stood beside his solicitor, Russel McPhate, who made a statement on his behalf. Mr McPhate said: “Mr Walker is obviously disappointed to be convicted of all the charges. “The verdict and, in particular, the comments of the sheriff will be very carefully considered. “In the meantime, he would like to thank his wife, his family, his colleagues, his staff and his friends who have supported him throughout this ordeal, which of course has lasted since March last year and is not over yet.”


Lib Dems call for probe into SNP’s role in Bill Walker saga

September 9 2013

An independent inquiry has been demanded into how convicted wife-beater Bill Walker was allowed to stand as an SNP Holyrood candidate despite the party being alerted to allegations against him. A by-election will take place after Walker, from Alloa, quit as Dunfermline MSP at the weekend citing a “media onslaught” against him. The 71-year-old’s decision to stand down from his £58,000-a-year job came just days after he told The Courier: “I never had any plans to vacate my seat and that’s it.” Speculation is mounting that October 24 could be voting day, given the Dunfermline South council contest to replace Mike Rumney, who died in July, will take place then. Dunfermline and West Fife MP Thomas Docherty said that date provided best value for taxpayers. Opposition politicians have now turned their attention to what the SNP knew about Walker’s past when he made the step up from councillor to parliamentary candidate. Rob Armstrong, Walker’s former brother-in-law, has said he gave a dossier including court documents revealing the politician’s violent past and a newspaper article where he admitted beating his former stepdaughter with a saucepan to staff at Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s constituency office in 2008. Ms Sturgeon has claimed she did not know a complaint was made to her office but insisted it had been fully investigated by party headquarters. That investigation was led by her husband, Peter Murrell. Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said removing Walker “was the priority”, but added an independent-led inquiry was needed into the SNP’s internal processes around the case. Mr Rennie added: “We need to know how this was allowed to happen, why a decision was made not to properly investigate the allegations and who made the decision.” Scottish Labour’s Graeme Pearson said: “As a former police chief, I have investigated a few alibis in my time and I think people need to check Nicola Sturgeon’s. It simply doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.” Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said: “There are difficult questions here for the SNP to answer.” An SNP spokesman said changes in internal procedures were made following a review by party president and Angus MEP Ian Hudghton following Walker’s expulsion once the allegations were made public. He added: “In regard to Mr Walker, the investigation conducted by a member of staff at SNP HQ did not find any evidence of any complaint in law or legal proceedings into domestic violence by Mr Walker, and the inquiry was then closed.” In a statement distributed by “crisis PR” Iain Maciver, Walker said: “It has been increasingly difficult for my wife and my staff to deal with the media interest in my case. That same media onslaught has also made it impossible to properly represent my constituents and their interests.” A spokeswoman for the Scottish Parliament said Presiding Officer Tricia Marwick has received the resignation, effective from Monday.For the latest, see Tuesday's Courier or tryour digital edition.

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 man acquitted of £30,000 benefit fraud

February 6 2013

A Dundee man has been acquitted of an alleged £30,000 benefit fraud, despite investigators telling the court the claimant had admitted to them that he had lied on claim forms. Dundee Sheriff Court had also heard that much of the evidence against him had previously been agreed between the Crown and the defence. Robert Robertson Folan Clark (67), of St Clement Place, was cleared by Sheriff Anwar of claiming a total of £30,964.23 after his defence agent argued he had not been identified in court as the same person who was interviewed by Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and council staff. In addition, there was only evidence from one witness that Clark’s identity had been established at the time he was interviewed by him in relation to his claims. Upholding the submission by solicitor David Duncan on Tuesday, Sheriff Anwar said she had no alternative but to acquit Clark. Clark had denied that on various dates between March 31 2005 and March 31 2010, at 58 Clement Park Place, he obtained benefit of £1,951.62 to which he was not entitled, obtained pension credit amounting to £25,445.41 by fraud and £3,567.20 in council tax benefit, which he was not entitled to. Fraud investigator Bruce Walker of DWP told the court Clark had confirmed to him that he had lied on his claim forms. The court heard it was a matter of agreement that Clark had an excess of capital in his bank account that he had not declared. Mr Walker said: “He said it was money for his two sons from his late wife.” The witness also agreed a suggestion by depute fiscal, Laura Bruce, that the money had been in his account before Clark’s wife had died in 2006. The court heard Clark told them that £40,000 had been laid aside for his sons. Asked why excess funds were in his account, Mr Walker said Clark “couldn’t answer other than to say the information was false initially.” Dundee City Council benefits investigations officer Michelle Fleming told the court that, along with Mr Walker, they interviewed Clark on December 13 2010. The court heard he claimed he had just returned from working in Germany in 1999 and various documents relating to council tax benefit, housing benefit and pension credit claims had been signed by Clark. Ms Fleming told the court: “Mr Clark confirmed that he signed the forms. He provided the answers for the questions he was asked when filling out the forms.” The court heard Clark had told the investigators he wasn’t sure about his late wife’s finances when they came back from Germany and was “surprised” by the amount of money she had. Ms Fleming agreed Clark had savings “in excess of proscribed limits” and said he had told Mr Walker he had no extra income coming in, but later in the conversation he admitted he had pension coming in from NCR and Germany. “He said he had done wrong,” she added. At the conclusion of the Crown case, Mr Duncan submitted that the only evidence in the case that could be relied on was the joint agreement as Clark had not been identified in court as the person who had been interviewed by the investigating officers. Sheriff Anward upheld the submission, saying: “There is no evidence that the person before me was the same person who was interviewed. With the greatest of regret, given the seriousness of the charges faced by Mr Clark, I find him not guilty of all three charges.” awilson@thecourier.co.uk

Angus & The Mearns

Passchendaele heroes added to Dundee war roll

August 10 2017

Three members of a Dundee family who survived the Battle of Passchendaele have been added to the city’s roll of honour. The Great War Dundee Project is the story of the 30,490 men that left the city to fight in the first world war and of the people left at home. Dundee gave 63% of its eligible men to the armed forces and the directory was updated following Saturday’s Courier article about the role the city’s Johnston brothers played in the war. Of the five Johnston brothers, Frank, Walter, David and Peachy were artillerymen, and the fifth, John, was an army doctor. Frank and Walter’s entries have now been updated while David, Peachy and John have now had entries created in the returnee section of the honour roll. Gary Thomson from the Great War Dundee Project said: “Following Saturday’s Courier article on the five Johnston brothers who served in the war, with both Frank and Walter paying the ultimate sacrifice and the fact that Frank, for reasons unknown is not recognised as a casualty of war, the Great War Dundee Project has updated the entries for both Frank and Walter on the new roll of honour. “Dundee paid a high price for her war efforts. By the armistice, over 4,000 men had made the ultimate sacrifice. “Their names are recorded in the city’s original roll of honour, a simple alphabetical list of names, ranks and regiments. “Over the years mistakes and omissions have been discovered by families viewing the list resulting in handwritten corrections to the record.” Mr Thomson said one of Great War Dundee’s main objectives is to produce an “inclusive, fully searchable online roll of Dundonians who contributed to the war effort” and in doing so honour the men and women who lost their lives and those who survived. He added: “Due to the fact that Frank was not recognised as a casualty his entry on the original Dundee Roll of Honour was very sparse with only his name and regiment listed. “Saturday’s article allowed us to contact Frank’s relative who provided us with a fantastic amount on information about Frank and Walter which have been added to their entry. “Not only that but the three brothers who survived, David, John and Peachy have now have entries created, in the returnee section of the honour roll. “It is thanks to people like Douglas that these entries now have added information and photos.” Frank is believed to have been wounded in Flanders in 1917 and he endured a prolonged and difficult death in November 1919 in a private nursing home in Dundee as a result of his injuries. The family have been unable to provide sufficient independent corroboration that he died directly of his war wounds as his army records have not survived. Frank’s great nephew Douglas Norrie from near Arbroath is trying to find documentary evidence to correct this. David and Frank were both with the Royal Garrison Artillery (RGA) and their batteries of large long range howitzers were deployed at Corps level and primarily used to attack specific enemy targets, particularly enemy artillery. Walter and Peachy served with the Royal Field Artillery (RFA) with their respective brigades being attached to infantry divisions and their smaller, highly portable field guns being used in support of infantry. The fifth of the brothers, Captain (Dr) John McPherson Johnston was a doctor and served with the Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC) and was awarded the Silver War Badge after being discharged with TB.