Two social workers who say an inquiry report into allegations of child abuse on the British overseas territory of St Helena destroyed their professional reputations have taken legal action.Claire Gannon and Martin Warsama, who worked on St Helena and made cover-up allegations, have sued the Foreign Office and the senior barrister who led the inquiry.They say they “stand by the accuracy and honesty of their disclosures” and say conclusions were reached on the basis of an inquiry which was procedurally unfair.Lawyers representing ministers and inquiry chairman Sasha Wass QC dispute their claim and say the litigation should not proceed.A judge was on Friday considering issues in the case at a High Court hearing in London.Barrister Neil Sheldon, who is leading a legal team representing Foreign Office ministers, asked the judge, Master Victoria McCloud, to halt the litigation and dismiss the claim launched by Ms Gannon and Mr Warsama.The inquiry had been set up by ministers following corruption and cover-up allegations which had been raised in newspaper articles and leaked documents and made by Ms Gannon and Martin Warsama.An inquiry report published in December 2015 concluded that: St Helena did not “attract sex tourism”; said allegations that the island in the South Atlantic was a “paedophiles’ paradise” were not true; reported “no corruption at all”; and found no evidence of any attempt by the Foreign Office, the Department for International Development, the St Helena government or police to cover up child abuse.The report said: “We stress that there was no ‘cover-up’ as alleged by Ms Gannon and Mr Warsama, rather an ignorance of proper safeguarding procedure.”Nicholas Bowen QC, who represents Ms Gannon and Mr Warsama, told the judge the conclusions of the Wass Inquiry “destroyed” the professional reputations of his clients.He said the inquiry process was “procedurally” unfair and said Ms Gannon and Mr Warsama were entitled to “just satisfaction” for their loss.Ms Gannon and Mr Warsama say their claim should not be dismissed but say evidence should be analysed at a trial.
Sir, The Nordic countries have recently come to the fore in the independence debate. The enviable record of prosperity and equality they share with the Alpine and Low countries has become a beacon for those espousing Scottish independence while, predictably, those who oppose it seek to tarnish that record with a selective concentration on income tax rates. While many in the “no” campaign hope that shallow scare story will be enough to neutralise the Nordic influence on the debate, others on the left are not convinced. They see the threat it poses to their assertion that Scotland thrives under the union. So they offer a different argument and claim the surest way for Scots to emulate the Nordic success is to put their faith in the strength of the UK and its ability to deliver it. However, there is a flaw in that assertion. If true, should Scotland not already be there? It’s not as if the union is a new construct that needs time to bed in. It has had many years to deliver prosperity and equality for Scotland. Instead, despite the union and an oil boom, Scotland lags far behind its small, independent neighbours. Indeed, this latest assertion from the “no” campaign merely highlights the failings of the union. Stuart Allan. Flat E, 8 Nelson Street, Dundee. Brits need to buck up their ideas a bit Sir, Up until last week I had been very concerned about the number of immigrants being offered work in this country when so many British people like myself are unemployed. However, I had a major building job to be done in my house last week and I felt very frustrated at the length of time it took and this was mainly because the builders arrived late in the morning, then took a tea break for an hour, had lunch for another 90 minutes and then an hour’s tea break in the afternoon. They also finished early. I do not think British people, particularly in the building trade help themselves gain employment by building this sort of reputation. A friend of mine was having building work done by a group of Polish workers. Although they spoke little English they arrived on time, took very little time off and stayed later. Is there a difference in the work ethic of British builders and their European counterparts? If this is the case then maybe the migrants deserve the work? Gordon Kennedy. 117 Simpson Square, Perth. It just doesn’t add up at all Sir A card was inserted into my copy of The Courier at the weekend that claimed my energy bills would fall if Scotland became a new state. As usual, this huge claim doesn’t specify how that “lower cost of living” would be paid for. Right now, Scotland receives much more energy subsidy than the rest of the UK. Last year, Scotland got almost five times the subsidy for renewable energy than the rest of the UK. The cost of some of those renewable devices is enormous. It’s an expensive policy. It can only be afforded because the UK pays it all. For myself, my renewable subsidy is thirty-eight times the regular price for your domestic electricity. That’s £6 a kilowatt paid to me, compared with the 15.5 pence many readers pay for electricity right now. With a new Scottish Government taking on all the subsidies paid for our renewables, how on earth could that same government afford these very high costs, AND cut our current bills? It just doesn’t add up. Andrew Dundas. 34 Ross Avenue, Perth. Completely bonkers? Sir, I cannot be the only reader who, having read Tuesday’s excellent contribution to your enquiry into fuel poverty, Bishop Nigel Peyton’s article about much the same thing and your article into just how poorly Dundee’s economy is performing, to read that Justine Greening proudly announced we are tripling Britain’s overseas economic aid to £1.8 billion. Has the government, having lost the plot some time ago, gone completely bonkers? Can one get a job lot of straitjackets? Robert Lightband. Clepington Court, Dundee. School run gases worse Sir, The article in Monday’s Courier regarding levels of air pollution in our towns and cities should give us all cause for concern, but I would like to see air samples taken outside our schools when the school run is on. Most of the vehicles used to ferry children to school do very short journeys and the vehicles do not reach operating temperature which means the engines spew out even more poisonous gases. Children and adults have to walk through this daily. It can’t be good for their health. Bob Duncan. 110 Caesar Avenue, Carnoustie. It’s obscene Sir, At last someone is highlighting the cost the royal family inflicts on the British taxpayer. The money lavished out on them is obscene while people are having benefits cut and some are having to choose whether they have food or heat. Alister Rankin. 93 Whyterose Terrace, Methil, Leven. Protecting the wealthy Sir, The condemnation of Ed Balls’ limited and modest proposal to raise the income tax threshold back to 50p for those earning more than £150k has come exclusively from the financial aristocracy. This same group of bankers and speculators (who caused the 2008 crash) have successfully lobbied against any regulation to stop a repeat. Instead the solution to the deficit has been a brutal and inhuman series of cuts to the living standards of working people under the guise of austerity. The UK Government is currently fighting the EU in court to stop legislation which would cap banker bonuses at 100% of their salaries. The reason the Chancellor gave when he reduced the top rate of tax from 50p to 45p was because it only raised revenue of £1 billion per year. This is half of what the bedroom tax is saving the government. The Tories don’t care about working people, they are only interested protecting the lifestyles of the obscenely wealthy. Alan Hinnrichs. 2 Gillespie Terrace, Dundee. No doctors will be involved Sir, As a humanist, I read the article “Staying in control until the last minute” (Courier, January 24), with interest. I am very glad that Dr Buist of Blairgowrie tries to talk his patients out of wanting his help in assisted dying. We, the very few, fewer than two per week out of Scots who die per week, who may want help to die should never ever seek help from a doctor. So, concern for professional medical principles is not necessary. Here in Dundee, a local humanist has developed SCOOP, a scheme whereby far-sighted adult Scots who wish to die stress-free and with dignity, may register this wish officially and when the moment comes as come it must for all of us they will qualify for the help of a compassionate registered facilitator who will supervise their demise in a dignified stress-free manner without any NHS involvement whatsoever. Once SCOOP is legalised this controversy will be resolved and laid to rest forever. Jean Clark. Temperance House, Brechin. They need to be alert as well... Sir, In response to M Clunie, “Need to alert pedestrians” (Letters, January 25), I would ask: “when will pedestrians become more alert to what is going on around them?” I cannot speak for cyclists, but most pedestrian mobility scooter drivers are very aware of their responsibilities towards pedestrians. However, they find that their vigilance is not reciprocated. Too many people wander around with their attention distracted by headphones, mobile phones etc, and seem completely unaware of prams , mobility scooters or others less able than themselves. Mobility scooters do have a beeper but people jump out of their skins and are none too pleased if they are used, so I find it better to quietly wait my turn, put an arm out to prevent someone inadvertently backing into me and warn them I am there if possible. More often than not there is an exchange of apologies and people are very kind and helpful. Mrs M Dumbreck. Mossgiel, Dysart. Gagging law danger Sir, I would like to thank Lindsay Roy, the Labour MP for Glenrothes for supporting the House of Lords’ positive amendments to the Gagging Law. Whilst the overall vote was lost, Lindsay stood up for democracy. The gagging law introduces new rules that would prevent non-politicians from speaking on the big issues of the day. Many charities and campaign groups have spoken out against it. Despite how vocal civil society has been about the issues with this law, the government are trying to rush it through without proper scrutiny. Groups that normally would not agree, have been united in speaking out against this law. Politics is too important to leave to political parties, and in a healthy democracy everyone should be able to express their views. Katrina Allan. 23 The Henge, Glenrothes. Why were they allowed? Sir, It is not only Asda’s sign which offends (Letters, January 21). Aldi in St Andrews has two massive signs, quite unnecessarily. How both were permitted by the council planners is beyond me. Let us hope Cupar’s Aldi is more restrained. John Birkett. 12 Horseleys Park, St Andrews.
An ancient marriage of fermented honey and water, mead offers a warm, golden buzz. Gayle Ritchie meets mead maker Christopher Mullin of The Rookery in Blairgowrie Brewing up mead in his halls of residence at Aberdeen University, it’s no surprise that Christopher Mullin was hugely popular among his fellow students. His fascination with the alcoholic drink developed as he delved deep into the history of Gaelic, and he enjoyed many hours getting merry with his pals in a bid to brew the perfect mead. “It was a big part of the pre-Christian Celtic story and it’s likely to be the oldest alcoholic drink in the world, with archaeological evidence suggesting mead production in Western Turkey in 45,000 BCE,” says Christopher, 42. “It was the predominant drink until hops came along in the 1600s, meaning that beer tasted nicer, lasted longer and cost less.” After university, Christopher joined the army and his work in the Intelligence Corps took him all over the world until he left in 2014. It was then that he had an epiphany moment. “Mead had been a hobby for 20 years and even at uni, I knew it was good enough to sell,” he recalls. “I started hatching plans, talked to home brewers and potential stockists, bought a house in Kirkmichael and set up a micro-brewery which made mead.” The venture – The Rookery – was largely self-financed but Christopher also got some help from an ex-military fund, Business Gateway and GrowBiz. He brewed in a derelict stables at Enochdhu for 18 months until he found his own premises in an old flour factory in Blairgowrie. So how on earth does he make his craft mead? “It’s very simple – I pour honey, sourced from Meigle and Enochdhu, into a barrel, top it up with water and add a little yeast. “Traditional mead takes about three months to make – about six weeks of fermenting and then a few weeks to settle. I filter and bottle it all myself.” There’s no machinery, no added sugar or syrup, and everything is done by taste, sound, sight and smell. “People ask me where the automated mixer is but I’ve literally just got a stick!” As well as traditional mead, Christopher also makes flavoured versions of the drink, using hand-foraged – and never artificial – ingredients. Flavours include spruce, wild cherry, mint, crab apple, rowan berry, dog rose, meadowsweet, and coming soon, wild raspberry. According to Christopher, one of the best things about mead is that it doesn’t give you a hangover. “Mead is alcohol brewed from honey; at least 50% of the alcohol comes from the honey,” he explains. “Honey is anti-bacterial and its sterile nature means it has no chemicals, so you can wake up hangover-free!” While there’s no disputing the product tastes fabulous, it also looks amazing, with its robust, curvaceous bottle and label featuring two ravens, designed by Christopher’s wife Claire. “It's a link to the mythological story of mead, plus we live opposite an old church full of jackdaws,” beams Christopher. Right now, his mead retails in selected farm shops and delis across the UK and he’s on the hunt for new stockists. And there are exciting plans for the future which include building a mead hall to host medieval banquets! He’s also trying to educate people on what mead actually is. “Loads of people come up to me at farmers’ markets and say they have no idea what mead is, or they ask if it’s a whisky. “It’s mostly a luxury impulse buy and a big percentage of buyers are first-time customers and that’s one of my biggest challenges.” In terms of production, it’s very sporadic at The Rookery, with 2016 yielding 3,000 litres of mead – 4,500 bottles. For mead virgins, Christopher says the best way to enjoy the golden nectar is after dinner, although he enjoys his with food. “You can also cook with it or use it as an ice cream pouring sauce,” he says. info For more details, see www.rookery.scot
An Angus councillor has unearthed a fascinating insight into men’s views on the suffragists as the nation commemorated the centenary of some women winning the right to vote. Brenda Durno, SNP member for Arbroath and East Lunan, has been so inspired by an essay written by her great-grandmother in 1904, she is hoping to donate it to a museum in the north east. The amusing reflection was written in the Doric language by Isabella Moir, a 12-year-old pupil at Belhelvie School in Aberdeenshire. She was the eldest of 10 children and had two sisters and seven brothers. Councillor Durno said: “The celebration for the 100 years since women won the right to vote made me think of the essay. “My great grandmother was born in September 1892 and died in May 1992. “She latterly lived in Potterton with my aunt and uncle who ran the shop there and I found the essay when she died.” Mrs Durno chose to enter local politics in the footstep of her father, the SNP councillor Alex Shand, but admitted her great-grandmother was a Liberal supporter. “She was right into politics and was a great friend of Lord Tweedsmuir - the SNP wasn’t around then.” The essay relates to a conversation between a brother and sister as he reads a newspaper article on ‘The Suffragists’. As he works his way through the article, his views become apparent. He berates the efforts of the “limmers of suffragists” claiming “weemans place is at hame” It reads: “They canna mak an men their men’s sarks, keep a clean fireside an have a vote. “Gie then an inch an they wid tak an ill (mile).” The essay goes on to say there a was a time when women were happy “tae tak the chance o’ the first man that socht them, an thankful tae leave the voting an the rulin o the nation tae him”. It was on February 6, 1918 that women aged over 30, those who owned property or had a university education were granted the right to vote through the Representation of the People Act. Mrs Durno is hoping to donate the essay to a museum which specialises in the Doric and would welcome suggestions as to who to contact.
A cross-party group of parliamentarians has lost an early-stage bid to secure a European court ruling on Brexit.Seven politicians from four parties, not including the Conservatives, believe the UK Parliament could unilaterally halt the Brexit process if the final deal is deemed unacceptable by the Commons.They claim this offers a third option instead of Britain having to choose between a bad deal on the UK’s future relationship with Europe or crashing out of the EU with no deal.The group is ultimately seeking a definitive ruling from the European Court of Justice (CJEU) on whether the withdrawal process triggered under Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union can be revoked by the UK on its own, without first securing the consent of the other 27 EU member states.Their legal team went to the Court of Session in Edinburgh last week to ask a judge to refer the question to the Luxembourg court.On Tuesday, judge Lord Doherty refused to move the case to a full hearing at Scotland’s highest civil court, saying the issue is “hypothetical and academic”, and that he is “not satisfied the application has a real prospect of success”.The politicians have a right to appeal against the decision to the Inner House of the Court of Session.The seven elected representatives who launched the case are Green MSPs Andy Wightman and Ross Greer, MEP Alyn Smith and Joanna Cherry QC MP of the SNP, Labour MEPs David Martin and Catherine Stihler and Liberal Democrat MP Christine Jardine. None were present in court as the judge issued his decision.Aidan O’Neill QC, representing the politicians, previously asked for the case to proceed through the Scottish court, arguing there was a genuine dispute between the two sides as to the proper interpretation of Article 50 which the court required to resolve.David Johnston QC, for the UK Government, insisted the application has no real prospect of success and that there was “no live issue” for the court to address.The policy of the UK Government is that the notification under Article 50 will not be withdrawn, he said.Finding in favour of the Government, Lord Doherty said: “I am mindful that demonstrating a real prospect of success is a low hurdle for an applicant to overcome.“However, I am satisfied that that hurdle has not been surmounted. Indeed, in my opinion, the application’s prospect of success falls very far short of being a real prospect.“In my view, the Government’s stated policy is very clear. It is that the notification under Article 50(2) will not be withdrawn.”He went on: “Given that neither Parliament nor the Government has any wish to withdraw the notification, the central issue which the petitioners ask the court to decide – whether the UK could unilaterally withdraw the Article 50(2) notification – is hypothetical and academic.“In those circumstances it is not a matter which this court, or the CJEU, require to adjudicate upon.”The judge concluded: “I am not satisfied that the application has a real prospect of success … Permission to proceed is refused.”The legal action was launched following a crowdfunding campaign and is backed by the Good Law Project.Project director Jo Maugham QC tweeted after the hearing: “It’s plainly in the national interest that MPs, MEPs and MSPs, who face a choice whether to approve Theresa May’s deal, know what options are open to them if they don’t.“I will support an appeal against this decision – to the Supreme Court if necessary.”
A family has been left reeling after a city centre nightclub confiscated their 18-year-old son"s passport, which subsequently went missing. Christopher Gordon was out with friends and had been in London nlightclub for around an hour when he was approached by a steward and asked for proof of identification. His mother, Allison Honeyman (47), says that after the steward showed Christopher's passport to a colleague, he said the form of identification had been shown to another member of staff earlier in the evening, they did not believe it belonged to him and asked him to leave the nightclub. Ms Honeyman said, "Christopher said he would go, but he wanted his passport back. "The steward and another member of staff refused to give it back to him, saying they would pass it to the police." She added, "They said he was to pick it up from Bell Street station the following morning. "Christopher disagreed with this, stating that they should get the police straight away as he needed his passport back, but again, this request was refused." When the family went to Bell Street station the next day there was no record of Christopher's passport having been handed in. They have made numerous calls to Tayside Police to check whether it has turned up, but eight days after the incident there was still no trace. Ms Honeyman said, "Christopher is going there again on Monday but if it still hasn't appeared, we are going to have to decide whether to report it as stolen. "What I would like to know is whether a nightclub has the right to take passports or any other official documents from someone without contacting the police.Theft fear"My biggest fear is identity theft, which is prevalent at the moment." She added, "I left five messages with the nightclub before my first call was returned and a member of staff claimed they were allowed to confiscate passports. "I said I doubted they had any authority to take such an important government document and that proper protocol would be for the police to be sent for and then to validate whether or not the passport had been stolen." Ms Honeyman said that she and her partner Clive Gordon (46) had hoped to take Christopher and their daughter Terri (20) on a last-minute holiday abroad, but this plan has had to be put to one side because of the situation. She said, "Fortunately we had not booked anything in advance had we done so, we would have lost our money." It is understood that the confiscation of passports by nightclubs is something of a grey area, but many businesses advise staff to steer clear of such measures, even if they suspect criminal activity. The Identity and Passport Service advises anyone who has lost a passport, or had one stolen, to report it to them as soon as possible, as this will reduce the risk of anyone else using it or the holder's identity. All passport thefts should be reported to the police.
Art and design lie at the heart of the creative industries in Dundee, industries which have often been inspired by the leisure pursuits and interests of Dundee’s population. These interconnections are clearly shown in the Archives of the University of Dundee; art and design is woven through many of the collections. This article features a few items which highlight the diversity of design related material held in the Archives. Dundee Art Society started out as the Graphic Arts Association in 1890, changing its name in 1904. From the outset the group welcomed both professional and amateur artists as well as art patrons and lovers. As the Art College in Dundee grew, many of the staff joined the Society and used its platform to exhibit their art and network with other artists. The striking design for the cover of the centennial exhibition catalogue produced in 1990 echoes to the artistic trends of the early twentieth century. The longevity of the society reflects the continuing desire of artists within the community to join together, curate exhibitions and share their passion for art. Many of these artists had connections with the Dundee Institute of Art and Technology which was dissolved in 1975 to create Dundee College of Technology and Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art. The Art College remained independent until 1994 when it became a full part of the University of Dundee. All of these bodies are represented in the exhibition material, posters, photographs and student guides in the Archives. Furthermore, alumnus of the College have contributed to our on-going Oral History Project. Former textile students, Pauline Hann and Sheila Mortlock, were interviewed to capture the personal stories of their time at the College, their career paths and interests. Hann and Mortlock were founding members of Embryo – Dundee Creative Embroiderers, formed in 1980, which developed from the frustration felt by numerous students at the lack of opportunities to exhibit contemporary embroidery within Scotland. The remit of the group was to promote the highest standards of workmanship, achieving this by restricting membership to graduates and undergraduates of Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art. Embryo actively promoted their work through various exhibitions not only in Scotland but across the UK, eventually joining forces with two other textile groups to form Edge – Textile Artists Scotland. Edge is still going strong and attracting new members from a broader background albeit with a recognised education in textiles. The Archive’s Embryo collection includes exhibition publicity material, photographs and correspondence. Textile samples can be found in other collections, such as The Wilson Bros Ltd collection who were taken over by Pringle of Inverness. The pattern books of the woollen and cloth products they manufactured from 1927 to 1967 are fascinating. They show the changing trends in pattern and colour combinations and how design comes in and out of fashion over the decades. Other samples in the Archives show how design blended with the mass production of durable textiles as seen in the printed designs on linen which form part of the D. J. MacDonald collection. Using only two colours, the rising sun motif for the MacDonald company is bold and graphic whereas the design for Louise, seller of lingerie and hosiery has a more delicate touch with the female form and the name of the brand printed in signature style picked out in red. Jute and linen bags adorned with colourful printed designs are still popular today. Textile design in the city is thriving. Local fashion designer, Hayley Scanlan, studied textile design at DJCAD. Her oral history recording in the Archives tells of her desire to remain rooted in the city despite her burgeoning international career. Proud of her Dundonian heritage, Hayley’s designs are influenced by the changing city and she will soon open her first shop a stones throw from DJCAD where her talents were honed. Records held in the Archive are accessible to everyone. For further information about the Archives and its collections see www.dundee.ac.uk/archives Sharon Kelly is assistant archivist at Dundee University's Archives Services
Today's letters to The Courier. Sir, - I never thought I would find myself in the same camp as the awesome and awful Donald Trump, but he has got one thing right it is worrying that Scotland is depending more and more on tourism as the saviour of the economy. There is nothing wrong with tourism it has led to an enormous upsurge in the quality of restaurants, hotels, etc but it is manufacturing that is going to pay the bills, and that is going down rather than up. Westminster and Edinburgh plug green power for all it is worth, resulting in the ruination of many magnificent landscapes with pylons and windfarms in direct contrast to what is desired by the tourist industry. Many of your readers have put far better than I am able how inefficient wind power is. Much more worrying is how likely it is that we are going to run out of power altogether and become reliant on European neighbours, who have more sense than we do, for necessary imported power. Nobody in Britain is investing in new and proper power stations. We have under Scotland about a 500-year supply of coal. We also have the technology to extract cleanly electric power from this coal. Why are we not doing the sensible thing and creating thousands of jobs in extracting and using this coal and becoming a massive exporter of power? Political obstinacy? Flexible thinking, it seems, is highly regarded in every area, except where it involves a politician doing a u-turn. Robert Lightband.Clepington Court,Dundee. Rugby club finances are in robust health Sir, - I refer to the article published in The Courier on February 6, reporting Cupar Community Council's support of Howe of Fife RFC's efforts to explore the possibility of it creating clubhouse facilities at Duffus Park, Cupar. The club welcomes the community council's support of this venture. However, the comments in the article attributed to its chairman, Canon Pat McInally, as regards the club's financial integrity were wholly inaccurate. Howe of Fife RFC is not, and never has been "...just about bankrupt..." as Canon McInally was quoted as saying. To the contrary, the finances of the rugby club are in robust health with its clubhouse operation trading profitably. I am sure that neither Canon McInally, nor any of the members of the community council, would have intended to cast doubt on the club's financial well-being, but, that, unfortunately, is what the article has achieved. In these circumstances, it is important that the record be set straight in order to allay any unfounded concerns that may have been raised amongst both the club's membership and the general public. Over many years Howe of Fife RFC has built a deserved reputation as a force in developing youth rugby. The project currently under consideration is driven by the club's ambition to build on that reputation and, ultimately, if possible, to provide improved facilities for all its members, but, in particular, the youth of the club. David Harley.President,Howe of Fife RFC. Where is the evidence? Sir, - Isn't living in Scotland interesting? Despite 75% of the electorate declining to vote SNP last May and the referendum being at least two years away, Ian Angus claims in his letter (February 8) that Mr Salmond has a "mandate for independence"! As if that's not enough he has decided that those who choose not to vote in the referendum must be opposed to the union, so a vote of less than 50% for independence will give the "green light" to go ahead with negotiations. Where on earth does he get the evidence for these statements? Kenn McLeod.70 Ralston Drive,Kirkcaldy. Memories of Willie Logan Sir, - The article on the 50th anniversary of Loganair brought back memories of founder, Willie Logan. In the early 1960s my parents lived in Magdalen Yard Road, overlooking the Riverside Drive airstrip. Blazing oil drums lining the grass runway often announced the early morning arrival of Willie to inspect work on the Tay Road Bridge. I worked for a spell then at Caird's in Reform Street, and on occasions there would be a hammering on the door before opening time, as he came post-haste from Riverside looking for a quick haircut! John Crichton.6 Northampton Place,Forfar. The road is not to blame Sir, - I refer to an article you ran on the front page quite recently, Shock at speeders on the A9. As an ex-driving examiner and member of the Institute of Advanced Motorists, I know the A9 having used it for years and have experienced some dreadful acts of overtaking at speeds over the limit. I certainly do not blame the road. All roads are safe without traffic. Neil G. Sinclair.St Martins, Balbeggie,Perthshire. Poor response Sir, - Further to your recent article, Windfarm response is positive, which referred to a proposal to erect a windfarm alongside the A822 tourist route between Crieff and Aberfeldy at a site above Connachan Farm, it may be illuminating to point out that the conclusions were based on only 50 responses a 1% return of the 5,000 survey questionnaires! A totally insignificant response. John Hughes.Crieff. Get involved: to have your say on these or any other topics, email your letter to firstname.lastname@example.org or send to Letters Editor, The Courier, 80 Kingsway East, Dundee DD4 8SL. Letters should be accompanied by an address and a daytime telephone number.
A former fishing boat sank in Dundee Harbour on Tuesday, causing a diesel spill which leaked into the River Tay. Residents and dog-walkers were alarmed when a small ''slick'' appeared near the banks of the Tay near Marine Parade around lunchtime on Tuesday, sparking fears for marine life in the area. SEPA officers were called out and initially it was thought the spillage might have been caused by a large ship which had left the harbour earlier in the day, or nearby factories. However they were informed by the harbour manager that a privately-owned former fishing boat called Ocean Quest which had come into the harbour for repairs had sunk in Camperdown Dock due to the recent gale-force winds. A SEPA spokeswoman said officers were investigating but it appeared that only around 40 litres of diesel had leaked into the harbour, with only a small amount getting into the river. A Forth Ports spokesman said: ''In the rough weather and severe gales over the Christmas period, the redundant fishing boat Ocean Quest has unfortunately sunk within Camperdown Dock. ''As a result, a small amount of diesel fuel oil which was on board has escaped into the dock.'' Forth Ports implemented its spill response plan deploying oil-absorbent booms across the dock entrance and recovering as much fuel as possible. The spokesman said: ''We expect any remaining oil to evaporate over the course of the next few days. The owner of the vessel has been informed and it will be recovered.'' Christopher Pryce, whose flat in Marine Parade Walk overlooks the quayside, feared seals and swans in the area would be at risk of contamination. He took photographs of the fuel on his phone and his father James sent them to The Courier. However, he said the slick changed, becoming thicker and more like oil. Christopher (22) said: ''It was actually my girlfriend Ashley who saw it first. She told me and I went to the window and had a look. It wasn't that bad at first but gradually as the day went on it got worse.'' He added: ''I phoned my dad and he said to take photographs and send them to him and he contacted SEPA. ''I told them there was a big ship in earlier which had now left and also that there were oil rigs and factories at the harbour. Other dog-walkers have been looking at it and taking pictures too.'' Christopher said he was worried that the local sealife would be affected by the spill. He said: ''The seals here would definitely be put off coming with that in the water they come up to the stairs at the side of the river and there are swans that come here as well. ''We've only been here just over a year and the seals have only recently been coming here, you see them at Riverside Drive but they've started visiting here near the stairs that go down to the river.'' SEPA spokeswoman Lee Cadigan said: ''We received a couple of calls from members of the public and were informed by the harbour manager that around 11.30am a former fishing boat had sunk in the port, causing diesel oil to leak. ''They managed to get the booms across the port to minimise the amount of diesel getting into the river. The port staff did everything they should have done but around 40 litres of diesel oil did escape from the boat.'' Ms Cadigan said a unit manager was out at the harbour investigating the leak and a report would be prepared. She said: ''The small amount of fuel which leaked into the river is expected to dissipate naturally over the next couple of days. ''It's too early to say whether any marine life has been affected by this but the Tay is quite a big river and hopefully it will not have caused any problems.''
Labour grandee Tam Dalyell has said those in the party warming to Scottish independence on the back of the Brexit vote are “living in fairyland”. Former First Minister Henry McLeish and David Martin, who is Labour’s longest-serving MEP, are among the senior Labour figures who have said they could be converted to the independence cause. Official Scottish Labour policy is to oppose a second referendum on secession until at least 2021, but leader Kezia Dugdale has been accused by some quarters of softening her pro-Union stance. Delivering his assessment of those in the party shifting towards independence, Sir Tam told The Courier: “They are living in fairyland. I think they are wrong. “McLeish and others had better realise that there is no chance of an independent Scotland being admitted into the European Union. “No prime minister of Spain would allow it and nor would the Germans.” Mr McLeish, who led a Scottish Labour government in 2000/01, said earlier this year the party must abandon its strategy of “just saying no to independence” and advocated a “new alternative of real home rule”. Mr Martin, who is on Ms Sturgeon’s Standing Council on Europe, has said independence is “worth considering” if Scotland cannot retain access to the single market. Scottish Labour deputy leader Alex Rowley revealed last month that he would not oppose a second independence referendum, saying the Brexit vote had shifted the debate. His boss Ms Dugdale reprimanded on live radio yesterday saying it was “wrong” for Mr Rowley to take that stance against party policy. Sir Tam, who was an MP in Scotland for 43 years and a fervent Unionist, called on MPs from all parties to block Brexit. “I believe it is up to every member of Parliament to do the right thing and to vote against the triggering of Article 50,” he said. “I would hope the House of Commons blocks Brexit and I have very strong views on this.” He said the referendum result does not have to be enacted because “people were lied to and misled by (Boris) Johnson and others”. “You look at what Brexit would mean for places like Dundee, and the damage it could do to universities like Dundee, and I am very angry about it,” he added. Article 50 is the legal mechanism through which member states leave the EU. Political and constitutional experts disagree on whether Parliament has to vote on whether it is triggered.