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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...


Dr Gordon James Shepard suspended for plagiarism

May 28 2011

A dishonest orthopaedic surgeon who submitted another student's work for his course at Dundee University has been suspended for four months. Dr Gordon James Shepard admitted the allegations against him when he appeared before the General Medical Council's Fitness to Practise Panel last week. On Friday, the panel decided the misconduct warranted a suspension. The misconduct took place between November 2009 and March 2010 while Dr Shepard was registered on a distance learning course to obtain a Postgraduate Certificate in Medical Education at the Centre of Medical Education at Dundee University. Dr Shepard submitted 12 coursework assignments as his own work. In each of the assignments he plagiarised course work that had previously been submitted by another student actions found to be misleading and dishonest. Dr Shepard is employed at the Royal Bolton Hospital in Lancashire.


Orthopaedic surgeon admits plagiarising

May 27 2011

An orthopaedic surgeon has admitted plagiarising another student's work for his course at Dundee University. Gordon Shepard admitted submitting several assignments which were not his own work when he appeared before the General Medical Council's fitness to practise panel on Thursday. The panel found his "misleading and dishonest conduct" impaired the surgeon's fitness to practise. The panel has yet to decide what sanctions, if any, will be imposed and will hear submissions today from the GMC and Dr Shepard's representative. The "academic dishonesty" occurred between November 2009 and March 2010, while Dr Shepard was registered on a distance learning course to obtain a postgraduate certificate in medical education at the Centre of Medical Education at Dundee University. He submitted 12 assignments that he plagiarised from coursework that had previously been submitted by another student. Dr Shepard is employed at the Royal Bolton Hospital in Lancashire and has remained working there while the case was pending.

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

Two MPs rule out SNP depute bid

March 4 2018

Two more high-profile SNP MPs have ruled themselves out of the contest to be the party’s new depute leader.Joanna Cherry QC and Tommy Sheppard, who lost out to Angus Robertson in a 2016 depute election, have both decided not to stand.Ms Cherry, the SNP home affairs spokeswoman, believes she can “best further the cause of independence in my current role”.While Mr Sheppard said he is “much more at ease as a protagonist than a referee”.The party is looking for a new depute leader after former MP Angus Robertson quit the role eight months after losing his seat in the 2017 general election.MPs Pete Wishart and Ian Blackford, have already ruled themselves out for the post.Ms Cherry said she had received support to stand, but has decided against it.She tweeted: “Huge thanks to all across the indy movement who’ve asked me to stand for @theSNP depute leader.“After long & careful consideration I’ve decided that, for now, I can best further the cause of independence in my current role.”Writing in the Sunday Herald, Mr Sheppard said the depute role is more about how policy is made rather than its content.He said: “I want to be to free to contribute and lead debates about the policy we should advocate and that’s harder if you’re running the policy-making machinery.“And I think we’ve had some success here. On fracking, the National Investment Bank, and other policy areas we’ve seen grassroots policy working its way through branches and conference to end up as party and government policy.“I intend to continue to work with others to similarly shape our future policy agenda.”Glasgow MSP James Dornan was the first to announce he was seeking the post, with Julie Hepburn announcing her bid in FebruaryMs Hepburn is not in elected office, but she is well known within the party and has worked for senior politicians.Mr Wishart, who is the chair of the Scottish Affairs Committee, said after taking soundings from colleagues he did not believe he had “sufficient support” to stand for the post and Mr Blackford said he wanted to concentrate on his constituency and his role as SNP Westminster leader.

Jenny Hjul

JENNY HJUL: The contest and the cult

February 14 2018

The contest to be the next deputy leader of the SNP may be in its early days, with the result not due to be announced until the party’s conference in June, but already it is turning out to be more interesting than it looks on paper. The process should probably have begun more than six months ago when the incumbent, Angus Robertson, lost his Westminster seat in the snap general election. In his resignation letter this month, Mr Robertson told his boss, Nicola Sturgeon, he no longer felt able to fulfil his mandate as her “eyes and ears in the Commons”. But without a berth in the Parliament, that has surely been the case for some time. Now, though, the race is most definitely on, with Glasgow Cathcart MSP James Dornan the first to announce his intention to enter the ring, and several bigger names weighing up their options. Mr Robertson’s successor as Westminster leader, Ian Blackford, ruled himself out on Monday, and Scottish transport minister Humza Yousaf has also said he is not running. But still in contention, at the time of going to press, were Pete Wishart, the long-standing MP for Perth who clung on to his seat by 21 votes last year, and Tommy Sheppard, the former Labour supporter who was elected as a Nationalist MP in the 2015 intake. Other names, not exactly household, have been mentioned, including Philippa Whitford and Joanna Cherry, and more may still put themselves forward when nominations open next month. There are apparently eight in the frame but the reason this battle is starting to attract more widespread attention does not lie in the stellar nature of the potential candidates. Traditionally, SNP deputies tended to serve their apprenticeship and then go on to lead the party. In fact, all of the party’s last five leaders – Nicola Sturgeon, Alex Salmond, John Swinney, Gordon Wilson and Billy Wolfe – had previously served as the party’s deputy. That pattern was broken when Stewart Hosie quit in the wake of claims about his personal life, and now Mr Robertson’s electoral failure has forced him out. Neither Mr Wishart nor Mr Sheppard can be taken seriously as successors to Ms Sturgeon but there is more promising talent among some younger players in the party, Stephen Gethins, for example. He has not made a move yet, but as another Westminster Nationalist he would be well placed to defend the party’s interests in London. However, what kind of a challenge would the job be at this juncture in the separatists’ journey? There are those in the party – Carolyn Leckie, for example, the one-time Scottish Socialist MSP and now a Nat – who are arguing for a firebrand to stir up the radical youth politicised by the Yes campaign and reignite the push for a new independence referendum. Clearly, this wing has given up on success at the ballot box because there is no doubt Ms Sturgeon’s obsession with the constitution cost her 21 seats last June and her own popularity. Keeping happy both the pragmatic Nationalists, who want to stay in power, and the noisy secessionists, clamouring for indyref2 at any price, has been almost beyond the political skills of the First Minister, and her deputy would face the same balancing act. This makes it a difficult decision for the party to make but the Nationalists’ uncertainty is a welcome departure from the recent past. At least there looks like there is going to be some kind of internal discourse. Mr Wishart has already broken ranks with his leader, criticising her dogged anti-Brexit line. In an article for a pro-Nationalist newspaper, he warned that the SNP voters who wanted to leave the EU had been alienated by Ms Sturgeon’s stance, and the party needed to conduct at “honest assessment” of why it lost so many votes in June. “The White Paper of the last referendum is now a historical document for another political era,” he said. “A new case needs to be urgently constructed.” This may not be in the same league as the Foreign Secretary publicly briefing against the Prime Minister. But while the Conservative Party is renowned for its internecine warfare, the Scottish Nationalists have been famously on message. But with the party’s stature a shadow of what it was, and the likes of Mr Wishart anxious for its (and his own) fortunes, a new SNP may emerge, less a cult of obedience and more a normal, bickering political organisation. This is healthy, for the Nationalists and for the rest of us. After more than a decade of furious top-down discipline, ordered by Alex Salmond and then by Nicola Sturgeon and her husband, party chief executive Peter Murrell, a dose of decent democracy may be just what the SNP, and Scotland, needs.


Games jam played out well in Dundee

September 25 2016

Dundee  developers have come up with new virtual reality games in just 24 hours as part of a competition. A games jam took place from 4pm on Thursday until 4pm on Friday at Tag Games, resulting in games prototypes with names like Spider Spider, Mouse of Horrors and Terminal Station. The developers also created their own answer to the famous Boaty McBoatface, with a game titled Vanny McVanFace. Virtual reality, a form of technology that simulates a player's presence in a replica of a real environment, is said to be the future of games with some VR versions already present in many living rooms. Tag's marketing executive Gavin Moffat said: "At the games jam, staff split into four teams of four people - a designer, an artist and programmers. "They then had 24 hours to design a game prototype. "You would struggle to design a full game in that time, although it could be done if you're extremely good and the game is simple. "But with a prototype, you could then spend months perfecting and polishing it into a full game. "Some really great ideas can come out of these jam - you have to be creative and work fast. It was a great event. "This time the theme was virtual reality. Virtual reality headsets are already being used but it's difficult to say whether they'll become the default in gaming. "It could be the case that it's popular for a few years and then people get bored of it, or it could remain popular. "However, it certainly has great potential." Over the past 20 years Dundee has become an international hub for games developers with the world's biggest-selling video game - Grand Theft Auto - starting life in the city. Games jam are popular events where games developers get together to brainstorm ideas and create new prototypes within a short space of time.

UK & World

‘Breaking Bad-style’ murderer of police officer Gordon Semple jailed for life

December 12 2016

Stefano Brizzi, 50, has been jailed for life for strangling a police officer during a bondage sex session and then attempting to cook and eat parts of his body. Brizzi admitted he was inspired by his favourite TV series Breaking Bad as he tried to get away with killing 59-year-old PC Gordon Semple by also dissolving his flesh in an acid bath. Last month, the former Morgan Stanley IT developer was found guilty of murder by a majority of 10 to two after a jury at the Old Bailey had deliberated for more than 30 hours. The estate where Semple’s remains were found (Jonathan Brady/PA) Semple was a “caring and gentle person” and “much loved” by his family, who were left devastated with the news of his murder, the court heard. The trial had heard that Brizzi met his victim on gay dating app Grindr and arranged a “hot, dirty, sleazy session” at his flat near London’s Tate Modern gallery on April 1. According to Brizzi, Semple died when a dog leash he had been wearing slipped as they played a “strangulation game”. But a pathologist concluded that while strangulation was a possible cause of death, it would have taken minutes rather than moments, as the defendant had claimed. Stefano Brizzi has been jailed for life (Metropolitan Police/PA) In the days after the killing, Brizzi was caught on CCTV buying buckets, a perforated metal sheet and cleaning products from a DIY store. He then set about dismembering the body, stripping the flesh, burning some in the oven and mixing some with acid in the bath. Semple’s long-term partner, Gary Meeks, reported him missing when he failed to return to their home in Dartford, Kent. Neighbours complained about the stench coming from Brizzi’s flat and eventually called police, who came across the grisly sight of “globules” of flesh floating in the bath, bags containing bones and a part of Semple’s head, and pools of human fat in the oven. Pc Gordon Semple was strangled (Metropolitan Police/PA) Following his arrest, Brizzi admitted killing and trying to dissolve the body of the policeman because “Satan told me to”. Brizzi denied trying to cannibalise parts of Semple by cooking and then biting into a rib found in his kitchen bin. But at his sentencing, the prosecution said an expert odontologist had since confirmed that even though Brizzi claimed not to remember it, he had in fact tried to eat human flesh. Judge Nicholas Hilliard QC handed crystal meth addict Brizzi life in prison with a minimum of 24 years. Brizzi was also sentenced to seven years for obstructing a coroner, which will run concurrently. CCTV footage showing Brizzi purchasing supplies like buckets after Semple’s death (Metropolitan Police/PA) The judge said there were “terrible features” of the case and that Brizzi’s drug addiction had ruined his life. He told Brizzi: “Regret you express now for Mr Semple’s death has to be seen against what you did over a number of days to his body.” The defendant sat in the dock with his head bowed throughout the hearing.


Award-winning Tayside song writer Eddie Cairney immortalises Queensferry Crossing in tune

October 25 2017

An award-winning Tayside song writer who immortalised the 50th anniversary of the Tay Road Bridge in music last year has released an EP which pays tribute to the newly opened Queensferry Crossing over the Forth. Perth-born Eddie Cairney, 65, who now lives in Arbroath, has released an album called ‘Sketches o' the QC’ which includes songs dedicated to the “isolated” workers who were employed during construction and contrasts the old Forth Road Bridge to the new crossing with its wind shields designed to keep traffic flowing during storms. Eddie, who delayed the release of the album due to family illness and bereavement, said: “It's just another quirky album like I did for the Tay Road Bridge. https://youtu.be/Z6BblA_Zev4 “As you can probably imagine, how do you write six songs about a bridge? “I usually end up using a process of creative journalism. I get a few facts or even just a single fact and then I let my imagination take over. “With each album early on in the writing process I draw a blank and think there's nothing here I can write about but there's always something to write about. “You just have to hang around long enough and it comes eventually. https://youtu.be/a9NyQAFjDsY “I just took threads from here and there. I was going to call the album The Queensferry Crossing but thought that was a bit boring so I went for Sketches o' the Q.C. “It introduces a bit of ambiguity. If you Google the name you get lots of drawings of court scenes!” Eddie was inspired to write Columba Cannon after reading an article about the general foreman for the foundations and towers. https://youtu.be/y_y1y8oV7vo Eddie said: “It was the name that got me and that gave me the first line of the song "He is a bridge builder wi a missionary zeal" Has to be with a name like Columba!” Fishnet bridge was set in a meditative light, describing the bridge as a “thing of beauty that looks like a big fish net glistening high above the Forth but it is a symbolic fishnet with the song taking the form of an imaginary conversation with the bridge.” https://youtu.be/dJgsl2WQ5G0   “Midday starvation came from an article which highlighted the isolation of the workers working high up on the bridge,” he added. https://youtu.be/Dme-bfCXHRI “If you forget your piece you've had it and you starve for there's no nipping round to the corner shop for a pie. The article also said that a local pizza delivery firm regularly delivered a pallet load of warm pizzas to the bridge so that was "midday salvation"! Meanwhile, The boys frae the cheese is a play on words. https://youtu.be/phtQ2-Xx1I0 He added: “I read an article that said The Forth Estuary Transport Authority (FETA) could have acted sooner and avoided the costly closure of the bridge at the end of 2015.” Eddie is no stranger to music and song influenced by Dundee and wider Scottish history. In 2015 he featured in The Courier for his efforts to put the complete works of Robert Burns to music. With a piano style influenced by Albert Ammons, Champion Jack Dupree and Memphis Slim, and a song-writing style influenced by Matt McGinn, Michael Marra and Randy Newman, the former Perth High School pupil, who wrote the 1984 New Zealand Olympic anthem, has organised a number of projects over the years including the McGonagall Centenary Festival  for Dundee City Council in 2002. Last year’s Tay Road Bridge album included a tribute to 19th century poet William Topas McGonagall and also honoured Hugh Pincott – the first member of the public to cross the Tay Road Bridge in 1966. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y51tixl9GEs Thanks to The Courier, he also became one of the first to cross the Queensferry Crossing  when it opened to the public in the early hours of August 30.

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