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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...

Dundee

More than £11,000 seized from drug dealer

June 10 2011

More than £11,000 has been seized from a Dundee man after a sheriff ruled that the money was obtained through drug dealing. Sheriff Derek Pyle granted a Proceeds of Crime application by the Crown Office against Robert Paul Dick (38), of Kirkton, Dundee, who had hidden the money below his floorboards. Dick was not convicted of any offences in connection with the police raid at his home in November 2009 and no controlled drugs were found. The judgment published on Thursday explained £11,448.80 was found hidden underneath the floorboards, accessible by a secret hatch. The Civil Recovery Unit, acting on behalf of Scottish ministers, alleged Dick to have been a drug dealer. After hearing evidence over four days, Sheriff Pyle was satisfied these allegations had been proved, not just to the civil standard of "a balance of probabilities" but "beyond reasonable doubt". He added that the evidence led by the Civil Recovery Unit was "utterly compelling". The head of the Civil Recovery Unit, Ruaraidh Macniven, said, "In this case a sum of cash has been forfeited for the public benefit instead of being available for those who peddle misery in our communities. "Thanks to excellent police work on the part of Tayside Police, the sheriff had no hesitation in concluding that this cash was derived from crime. "The Civil Recovery Unit will continue to use civil proceedings to disrupt crime and to make Scotland a hostile place for those who seek to benefit from unlawful activity." Detective Superintendent Willie Semple of Tayside Police's headquarters crime division said the case exemplified the close working relationship the force enjoys with the Civil Recovery Unit and serves as a warning to criminals that they can be pursued not just though the criminal courts but also via the civil courts to be held to account. "Tayside Police has an unrelenting focus on serious and organised criminal gangs and, working with other police forces and our partners in law enforcement, we will take every opportunity to exercise the powers given to us under the Proceeds of Crime Act," he added. "It is an extremely valuable tool, which truly holds the criminal to account, seizing money and property from them that would otherwise allow them to fund or prosper from a life of crime." Money recovered under the Proceeds of Crime Act is invested by ministers in community projects aimed at alleviating the effects of crime. To date, over £41 million has been invested in a range of free activities for young people through the CashBack programme.

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

Motoring news

Form an orderly Q for Audi SUV

August 10 2016

First there was the Q7. Then the Q5 and Q3. All have been a phenomenal success for Audi. I’d be surprised if that script changes when the Q2 arrives in November. Audi’s baby SUV is available to order now with prices starting at £22,380. Can’t quite stretch to that? Don’t worry, an entry level three-cylinder 1.0 litre version will be available later this year with a cover tag of £20,230. From launch, there are three trim levels available for the Q2 called SE, Sport and S Line. The range-topping Edition #1 model will be available to order from next month priced from £31,170. While the entry-level 113bhp 1.0-litre unit isn’t available right away, engines you can order now include a 113bhp 1.6-litre diesel and 148bhp 1.4-litre petrol unit, both with manual or S tronic automatic transmissions. Also joining the Q2 line-up from September is the 2.0-litre TDI diesel with 148bhp or 187bhp. This unit comes with optional Quattro all-wheel drive. A 2.0 litre petrol with Quattro and S tronic joins the range next year. Standard equipment for the new Audi Q2 includes a multimedia infotainment system with rotary/push-button controls, supported with sat-nav. Audi’s smartphone-friendly interface, 16in alloy wheels, Bluetooth connectivity and heated and electric mirrors are all also standard for the Audi. Along with the optional Audi virtual cockpit and the head-up display, the driver assistance systems for the Audi Q2 also come from the larger Audi models – including the Audi pre sense front with pedestrian recognition that is standard. The system recognises critical situations with other vehicles as well as pedestrians crossing in front of the vehicle, and if necessary it can initiate hard braking – to a standstill at low speeds. Other systems in the line-up include adaptive cruise control with Stop & Go function, traffic jam assist, the lane-departure warning system Audi side assist, the lane-keeping assistant Audi active lane assist, traffic sign recognition and rear cross-traffic assist.

UK & World

Government wants to wait before deciding on future of civil partnerships

May 14 2018

Ministers want to wait until next year before consulting on the future of civil partnerships.Government lawyers told the Supreme Court the wait was “justified” so four whole years of data could be gathered following the introduction of same-sex marriage.The court is hearing the case of Rebecca Steinfeld, 37, and Charles Keidan, 41, who want a civil partnership but are prevented by legislation which says only same-sex couples are eligible.The academics, who live in Hammersmith, west London, suffered defeat at the Court of Appeal in February last year, but were given the go-ahead in August for a Supreme Court hearing.A panel of five Supreme Court justices, including the court’s president Lady Hale, began considering the couple’s appeal on Monday. James Eadie QC, representing the equalities minister, told the court the Government wants to wait until September next year before it considers what to do and would launch a public consultation.He said civil partnerships are “essentially identical” to civil marriage and were created to give legal recognition to same-sex unions at a time “when society was not felt ready” to recognise such relationships as marriages.Mr Eadie told the judges it is accepted Ms Steinfeld and Mr Keidan have a “genuinely held” objection to marriage, but the Government’s decision to “take some time” before deciding on the future of civil partnerships is “justified”.He said: “These are highly sensitive social (and indeed political) issues in which the Government and Parliament are currently, actively and seriously engaged on a defined timescale and process.“The process has taken some time – a fact that is in part due to an understandable and legitimate concern to gauge the reaction over a period of time to the introduction of the Marriage Act 2013.”He later added: “The future of civil partnerships raises difficult questions of social policy for which there is no obvious answer and Parliament has a Bill before it with different options to deal with those difficulties.”Mr Eadie told the court the number of civil partnerships formed in England and Wales fell by 85% in the first two years after the introduction of same-sex marriage. Karon Monaghan QC, representing Ms Steinfeld and Mr Keidan, argued the delay was unacceptable as they were “instantly” discriminated against from the moment the Marriage Act came into force.She told the judges the couple are in a “long-term and committed heterosexual relationship”.She added: “They share a profound and serious objection to the institution of marriage.“Whilst the appellants wish to formalise their relationship, their conscience does not permit them to do so through marriage.“Rather, they wish to enter into a civil partnership with one another.”In a statement outside court before the hearing, Ms Steinfeld and Mr Keidan called on the Government to “stop making excuses” and give everyone the choice to enter a civil partnership.The couple, who have two daughters aged eight months and two years, claim the Government’s position is “incompatible with equality law”.The Court of Appeal agreed the couple had established a potential violation of Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which relates to discrimination, taken with Article 8, which refers to respect for private and family life.But, by a majority of two to one, the judges said the interference was justified by the Government’s policy of “wait and evaluate”.They heard the couple have deep-rooted and genuine ideological objections to marriage and wish to enter into a legally regulated relationship which does not carry “patriarchal baggage”.The Government said it was decided, after public consultations and debate in Parliament, not to extend civil partnerships to opposite-sex couples, abolish them or phase them out at that stage.The aim was to see how extending marriage to same-sex couples impacted on civil partnerships before making a final decision which, if reversed in a few years, would be disruptive, unnecessary and extremely expensive.The hearing is expected to last two days.

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

UK & World

Ministers urged to ‘stop making excuses’ over civil partnerships for all couples

May 14 2018

A heterosexual couple who want the right to have a civil partnership have called on the Government to “stop making excuses” and make them available for everyone.Rebecca Steinfeld, 37, and Charles Keidan, 41, want a legal union through that route but are prevented because the Civil Partnership Act 2004 says only same-sex couples are eligible.The academics, who live in Hammersmith, west London, suffered defeat at the Court of Appeal in February last year, but were given the go-ahead in August for a Supreme Court hearing.A panel of five Supreme Court justices, including the court’s president Lady Hale, began considering the couple’s appeal on Monday.In a statement outside court ahead of the hearing, Ms Steinfeld and Mr Keidan said: “Throughout our campaign we have met hundreds of couples like us who love each other and want a civil partnership so they can celebrate their commitment and strengthen the security of their family unit.“Their reasons for not wanting to marry vary from bad personal experiences to expense to conscience – but that doesn’t matter.“All they want is the choice of marriage or a civil partnership to suit them, which is currently available only to same-sex couples.“We have a new Equalities Minister and she should take this opportunity to look afresh at the Government’s position.“It’s time for the Government to stop making excuses which play with people’s lives, and give choice to all now.”The couple, who have two daughters aged two and eight months, claim the Government’s position is “incompatible with equality law”.Their barrister Karon Monaghan QC told the court: “They have deep-rooted and genuine ideological objections to marriage. “I want to observe that they are not alone in holding those deep-rooted objections.”She said matrimony was “historically heteronormative and patriarchal” and the couple’s objections were “not frivolous”.Ms Monaghan added: “These are important issues, no small matters, and they are serious for my clients because they cannot marry conformable with their conscience and that should weigh very heavily indeed.”The Court of Appeal agreed the couple had established a potential violation of Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which relates to discrimination, taken with Article 8, which refers to respect for private and family life.But, by a majority of two to one, the judges said the interference was justified by the Government’s policy of “wait and evaluate”.They heard the couple have deep-rooted and genuine ideological objections to marriage and wish to enter into a legally regulated relationship which does not carry “patriarchal baggage”.The Government said it was decided, after public consultations and debate in Parliament, not to extend civil partnerships to opposite-sex couples, abolish them or phase them out at that stage.The aim was to see how extending marriage to same-sex couples impacted on civil partnerships before making a final decision which, if reversed in a few years’ time, would be disruptive, unnecessary and extremely expensive.Speaking before the hearing, LGBT and human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell said: “It’s time for ‘straight’ equality.“The ban on opposite-sex civil partnerships is discrimination and a violation of human rights.“It is outrageous that the Government is unwilling to legislate equality and that this couple are forced to go to court to get a basic human right – the right to be treated equally in law.“It cannot be fair that same-sex couples now have two options, civil partnerships and civil marriages, whereas opposite-sex partners have only one option, marriage.”The hearing is expected to last two days.

Dundee

Dundee drug dealer loses £2,000 inheritance in court battle

May 23 2014

A drug dealer has lost his £2,000 inheritance under Proceeds Of Crime laws even though he was able to prove it was left to him by his mother. Dundee supplier Ronald “Rondo” Wright gave up a legal battle to keep the money after lawyers for the Crown Office, in a rare civil case, argued he planned to use it for “unlawful activity” and not, as he claimed, to buy a car. His case was highlighted as the Crown’s Civil Recovery Unit (CRU) unveiled its annual report this week. Wright’s £2,000 was seized, along with some heroin, during a police raid on his home in February 2009. He was not convicted as a result of the raid and argued the money came from an inheritance from his late mother. The CRU, using intelligence about the previously convicted dealer, argued he was going to use the money for criminal pursuits. Initially, Wright fought the case but eventually gave up, failing to attend a court hearing on the matter. Scotland’s Solicitor General Lesley Thomson stressed the £2,000 taken from Wright showed the unit could stop crimes taking place in the first place. Ms Thomson said: “We, as prosecutors, usually look at something that has already happened. In this particular case we stopped something happening.” Scotland’s 2002 Proceeds Of Crime Act allows the CRU to chase cash and assets they believe are the proceeds of crime. However, a clause in the legislation also allows the unit to go after cash they believe is intended to be used unlawfully. Linda Hamilton, the head of the CRU, said: “This is a really powerful part of the civil recovery legislation. We can and will use it if we think cash even if it may have been obtained lawfully is going to be used unlawfully.”

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.

Cross-party group loses bid to secure legal ruling on Brexit

February 6 2018

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.”

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