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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...


Footballer rape claim: Nightclub security guard thought woman needed ambulance

October 21 2016

A woman who claims she was raped by two former Dundee United footballers was in need of an ambulance on the night she left a club, a security firm employee working at the venue has told a court. Gayle McGregor was seeking the woman after she had lost a purse at the nightclub in the early hours of January 2 in 2011. The woman's counsel, Simon Di Rollo QC, asked Miss McGregor, 40, what she was doing when she came across her. She said: "Not very much. She was leaning against the front doors." She said: "She wasn't in control of herself. Her eyes were rolling in her head, She couldn't stand up straight. She couldn't speak to me properly. She wasn't compos mentis." The 30-year woman is suing former Scotland striker David Goodwillie and ex-St Johnstone player David Robertson after raising a £500,000 damages claim at the Court of Session in Edinburgh. Goodwillie's counsel, Dorothy Bain QC, asked Miss McGregor if she had done anything to help the woman. She replied: "I held her up." She said she had earlier seen the woman at the ladies toilets at Chalmers and said she was "speaking away, chatting" but had obviously had "a wee drink". Miss Bain said to her that later she had said the woman needed an ambulance. Miss McGregor said: "In my opinion I thought she did." The counsel said she was speaking to David Robertson when a colleague was there. She said: "I didn't know if that was his name, but the guy with the checked shirt." "He was like 'no, she will be fine. I know her'......He would take her straight home," she said. "I basically told him if she becomes unconscious just to phone 999," she said. She had told the court: "He was telling me he was going to take her away with him. I basically told him she was needing an ambulance rather then getting taken away." Miss Bain said to the witness that nothing that happened that night led her to phone an ambulance or call the police. Miss McGregor responded: "No, I didn't. What was I going to say to the police?" It is alleged both men raped the 30-year-old woman in the early hours of January 2 at a flat in Armadale, in West Lothian. It is claimed that she was incapable of giving free agreement at the time when intercourse took place. Goodwillie, who is now with Plymouth Argyle, and Robertson, of Bathgate, deny the allegation and maintain that intercourse was consensual. Neither was prosecuted. They claim that CCTV footage shows the woman was capable of walking, holding a conversation and using her mobile phone. The hearing continues.

UK & World

Ewan McGregor sings an emotional tribute to David Bowie

February 12 2016

Scottish actor Ewan McGregor has sung an emotional tribute to the late David Bowie. The Star Wars actor delivered a passionate, almost theatrical, rendition of “Heroes”, one of the late musician’s greatest hits. McGregor previously covered the Bowie classic in the 2001 film Moulin Rouge. The 44-year-old actor performed the song at a charity concert in memory of Bowie at The Roxy in West Hollywood.

Angus & The Mearns

Carnoustie man strangled girlfriend during assault

January 8 2016

An Angus man who strangled his girlfriend and broke her arm is facing jail. Connor McGregor from Carnoustie “viciously” attacked Danielle Lawson in Arbroath’s Wardmill Road following a row. The pair left a bar in the town and were walking when the debate turned violent. McGregor chased after Ms Lawson and repeatedly pushed her, causing her to fall. The 21-year-old then pushed Ms Lawson against metal railings on a bridge and grabbed her by the throat. Dundee Sheriff Court was told McGregor then grabbed her by the throat and strangled her until she couldn’t breathe and began to lose consciousness. She was then thrown to the ground and was later found to have a broken arm. At some point during the struggle two men walked past, with the woman shouting out: “If you don’t help me and take me to safety then I’ll be dead.” However, the pair just walked on leaving her in the hands of the violent thug. During the attack, Miss Lawson called another man who heard her screaming and shouting “he’s hitting me”. Following his conviction, the jury was told McGregor had two previous convictions for assaulting and behaving in a threatening and abusive manner towards Ms Lawson. Depute fiscal Eilidh Robertson told the jury: “Why did Danielle Lawson scream at those two men who passed her ‘if you don’t help me and take me to safety then I’ll be dead’? “The answer is plain and simple she had just been viciously assaulted by her partner, Connor McGregor. “Assaulted to the extent that he placed his hand over her throat and made her feel ‘woozy’. “An assault that endangered her life.” McGregor, a prisoner at Perth, denied a charge of assault to severe injury and danger of life. However, a jury found him guilty following a two-day trial. Sheriff Tom Hughes deferred sentence until next month for social work background reports and McGregor was remanded in custody.


Rangers 2 Dundee United 0: Tangerines’ Euro hopes now rest with Old Firm

May 11 2011

Dundee United will now need to count on the Old Firm in order to qualify for Europe after defeat at Ibrox meant they will finish the SPL season in fourth place. The Tangerines were then ripped apart by Rangers on 25 minutes as Smith's men made it two. A brilliant run by Naismith through the heart of the United defence was given the perfect finish when the Scotland man played in Lafferty, who drilled the ball low into the net from 15 yards. United had been swept up in a blue tide of attacking play and they had to somehow find a way back into the game. Just before the break they at least gave the home defence something to think about when Watson whipped in a cross that was plucked off the head of Scott Robertson by McGregor. The Tannadice men made a switch at half-time, bringing on Daly in place of Johnny Russell. With 53 minutes gone, Rangers should have made it three when Jelavic raced down the right wing before swinging the ball across goal, where it should have been tapped in by Lafferty. As the hour approached, however, United were enjoying a fair bit of possession in the opposition half, with crosses just getting cut out and timely tackles being made by the home defenders. Pernis did well to hold on to a Lafferty low strike on 67 minutes before Scott Robertson tested McGregor with a header. That was Robertson's last contribution as he was replaced by Prince Buaben with 20 minutes to go, then was followed by David Robertson, who made way for Stuart Armstrong. A Jelavic free-kick cleared the United bar by a few inches, then the Croat had a header off a Steve Davis cross saved by Pernis. United sub Armstrong got his head on to a ball delivered into the box by Conway but McGregor easily gathered. The goalie was called into more serious action on 81 minutes when a Madjid Bougherra slip let in Goodwillie, who fed Daly. The striker cracked in a netbound shot that McGregor parried over. The Tangerines were now making the title-chasers sweat and, on 82 minutes, young Armstrong smashed a 30-yard strike off McGregor's right-hand post, with the keeper getting a touch onto the woodwork that shook for a few seconds afterwards. With United's purple patch not producing a goal, Whittaker tried his luck at the other end with a low shot that was palmed away by Pernis.Smith's goodbyeAfter the final whistle the stage was left clear for Smith to say an emotional goodbye to the Rangers fans and this result now means it is odd-on that his parting gift to them will likely be another league trophy. His assistant Ally McCoist later made it clear the lap of honour was to pay tribute to Smith and not a premature championship celebration. "That was for Walter Smith and for Walter Smith only," he said. "Our players and management are not taking anything for granted at all. "No way are we being disrespectful to Kilmarnock and the championship is far from won." Smith himself added, "It was a good win for us |because Dundee United have always been awkward opponents for us. Arguably in the second half they had the better of the play but for the first half-hour we played exceptionally well and overall deserved to win the game. "We got into a position where we had to win three games and we have won two of them now. "The most important thing was the victory but it was a nice reception for me and I would thank the supporters for staying behind. Usually when you are a manager leaving a club it is because you're sacked so I am leaving in a more pleasant manner than that." Attendance 49,267.Rangers McGregor, Weir, Papac, Edu, Davis, Lafferty (Foster 89), Naismith, Whittaker, Jelavic (Diouf), Bougherra, Wylde (McCulloch 65). Subs not used Alexander, Fleck, Healy, Hutton.Dundee United Pernis, Dixon, Watson, Severin, Kenneth, S. Robertson (Buaben 70), D. Robertson (Armstrong 73), Conway, Gomis, Goodwillie, Russell (Daly 46). Subs not used Banks, Dillon, Douglas, Shala.Referee Calum Murray. With Hearts now uncatchable in third, the Tangerines need a Rangers title win then a Scottish Cup success for Celtic to return to the continental arena. Of course, that double is a highly likely outcome, with the Hoops favourites to see off Motherwell at Hampden on May 21 and the Light Blues seemingly unstoppable in their quest for a third successive SPL crown. There had been some winding-up going on in the build-up to the match, with Parkhead boss Neil Lennon stating he hoped United would be trying to take points off the Light Blues. Well they did try and tested the hosts' nerve in the second half in particular. Rangers were just on song in a dynamic first period that saw them score first through Nikica Jelavic then Kyle Lafferty. It was all set up for the Light Blues, too, with this being manager Walter Smith's final home game in charge. They will now watch with interest when Celtic go to Tynecastle tonight, before they finish off the season down at Kilmarnock on Sunday. As for the Tannadice men, they should be proud of finishing fourth in what was always going to be a tough campaign, coming after last term's Scottish Cup glory. When you factor in the remarkable amount of injuries that ruled out key men for long spells particularly in central defence then the fans should turn up in good numbers on Sunday for the visit of the Jam Tarts and show their appreciation. "We are going to finish fourth now and I would like to say congratulations to Hearts for clinching third spot," said manager Peter Houston. I think what we have done is as good an achievement as finishing third last season. "When I look back on the season and consider all the problems that have come before this club, with the injuries to key players, we have done really well. "Indeed, since the turn of the year the players have been outstanding and I can't praise them highly enough. "I could pick massive faults in the way we defended the goals tonight. From a coaching point of view I can pick holes in it but it (the 2-0 scoreline) was probably no more than Rangers deserved at that stage. "I would like to have scored a goal to see how Rangers reacted. There were spells in the second half when we looked like we could score and they could have gotten edgy." The Tangerines lined up with eight of the 11 who started their memorable 3-2 win here on April 2. The injured Danny Swanson didn't make it this time, while Sean Dillon and Barry Douglas were on the bench.Daly benchedHouston also named Jon Daly as a substitute despite the big Irishman bagging a hat-trick against Motherwell at the weekend, with the Light Blues unchanged from Saturday's convincing victory over Hearts. Birmingham boss and former Rangers gaffer Alex McLeish was in the crowd, probably to wish Smith well but also to watch Tannadice striker David Goodwillie. The Gers supporters were determined to mark the last home match of Smith's reign, fittingly being played against the team that gave him his break in coaching under Jim McLean. One banner declared, "For deeds done and glories won, thank you Walter." Not all of the Ibrox fans got it right, though, with another reading, "Walter Legned." The atmosphere inside the stadium was electric, with the home support clearly expecting to take a significant step to a third successive title. The Tangerines' task was to silence the stands. With just a couple of minutes gone, United right-back Keith Watson was the first to worry the opposition with a decent shot that didn't fly too far over keeper Allan McGregor's bar. There were loud shouts for a penalty for Rangers when Steven Naismith burst into the United box before falling but the pleas were a tad optimistic and ref Calum Murray waved play on. Naismith and Jelavic combined to almost lay the ball on a plate for Lafferty on 13 minutes but United keeper Dusan Pernis dived at the Northern Ireland international's feet to save. Jelavic headed wide as the visitors were pushed back and only the post saved United on the quarter-hour mark when Lafferty smashed in a shot that beat Pernis. Jelavic found space up the left but could only fire harmlessly over on 20 minutes but the Ibrox side only had another 60 seconds to wait for the opener. Steven Whittaker played a deep ball in from the right and Jelavic clipped a perfect header beyond Pernis to make it 1-0.

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

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.

Perth & Kinross

Perthshire arts venue saved by generous donations from local community

October 18 2016

The owner of a closure-threatened Perthshire arts venue said a community effort to keep it open has “restored his faith” in mankind. David Campbell, project leader of Strathearn Artspace in Crieff, said he was “delighted” with local residents raising £3100 to replace an out-of-date boiler. The venue, which has attracted the support of Star Wars actors Ewan McGregor and Denis Lawson, had been forced to install extra heaters due to the building plummeting 12 degrees through the day. Mr Campbell said: “It’s been really, really good and is nice to know just how many local people are behind the venue. "We managed to raise the money within two weeks which is incredible." He continued: “We had a show on here on Saturday and had to use five electric heaters for those who attended. By replacing the boiler we can fully use the building again. “We had aimed to raise £2700 to replace the boiler but in the end were given £3100. This has restored my faith in mankind. “Many of the people who contributed have not been to the venue so it shows the backing we have in Crieff. We have a performance due this Saturday and I was getting worried as the replacement boiler had gone missing through a courier service, but it looks like it will be installed by Thursday.” And Mr Campbell emphasised how an article in The Courier helped the fundraising effort. “Having the article in The Courier definitely helped,” he added. “We were given a further £700 just after the newspaper article and then I received a cheque for £350 the day after, so the publicity definitely helped. We were at a community market the day after the article was published and lots of people were talking about it.” Strathearn Artspace hosts film screenings, performances by comedians and many other events, including hosting life-drawing classes.


Hull City sign Scotland goalkeeper Allan McGregor

July 2 2013

Hull have completed the signing of Scotland goalkeeper Allan McGregor from Besiktas for an undisclosed fee. The 31-year-old has signed a three-year deal at the KC Stadium as the Tigers continue to prepare for their return to the Barclays Premier League. McGregor told hullcityafc.net: "I'm really excited to be here and I'm happy that everything is done now. "I can't wait to get started here. This is a great chance for me to play in the Premier League and I'm looking forward to the season ahead." McGregor, who spent 14 years with Rangers before his move to Turkey last summer, has won 29 caps for his country. He returned in August 2010 from over a year in international exile after he was dropped over a late-night drinking session with team-mate Barry Ferguson. The pair were then caught making v-signs to photographers while on the substitutes’ bench during a game against Iceland. His move to the KC Stadium, which is subject to international clearance, represents the latest step in City boss Steve Bruce’s efforts to strengthen his defence ahead of the top-flight campaign. Bruce has already signed defender Curtis Davies from Birmingham and given new contracts to centre-back James Chester and full-back Liam Rosenior. McGregor fills one of the club’s primary needs for the new season, with the erratic Eldin Jakupovic and the untried Mark Oxley the only senior keepers previously on their books. Hull took Fulham’s David Stockdale on loan for the latter part of last season.

Scottish politics

Labour figures eyeing up independence are ‘living in fairyland’, says party veteran

August 23 2016

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.