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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...

UK & World

Businessman in ‘right to be forgotten’ fight with Google waits for ruling

March 7 2018

A businessman who wants Google to stop linking his name to internet media reports about a past crime is waiting to hear whether he has won an historic High Court fight.The man was convicted of “tax fraud” in the late 1990s and his case was reported in the media, a judge has been told.He says his conviction is legally “spent” and he has a “right to be forgotten”. Google bosses dispute his claims.Mr Justice Warby on Wednesday finished analysing evidence at a High Court trial in London which began last week. Barrister Hugh Tomlinson QC, who heads the businessman’s legal team, told the judge: “All he is doing is making a simple, straightforward request for some old material to be taken off the internet.”He said the information at the centre of the case was “spent” under legislation relating to the rehabilitation of offenders and had become “private”.“Google have simply failed to grapple with the importance of rehabilitation,” he said.“Mr Google having decided that his view of public policy is to be preferred.”He told the judge: “The whole point of the right to be forgotten is that in appropriate cases true information deserves to be forgotten.”Barrister Antony White QC, who is leading Google’s legal team, has told Mr Justice Warby that Google had “declined to delist”.Google bosses say the information is accurate and reports about “business malpractice” are likely to be of continuing relevance.They say the businessman plays a role in public life because he is a businessman and there may be investors who “want to know”.Mr Justice Warby is next week expected to analyse a similar case involving a second businessman.He says he will produce a ruling covering both cases on a date yet to be fixed.

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

Rocktalk

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.

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.

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

UK & World

Google gives public interest defence as men bid to cut links to crime reports

February 27 2018

Google bosses have mounted a “public interest” defence after two businessmen took historic High Court action in a bid to stop their names being linked to internet media reports about past crimes.The two men say convictions are more than a decade old and legally “spent”.Both argue that they have a “right to be forgotten” and want Google to stop linking their names to articles on news websites.A judge has begun to consider evidence relating to the first man.Mr Justice Warby, who says the men cannot be named in media reports of the litigation, heard that the first man had been convicted of “conspiracy to account falsely” in the late 1990s.He is overseeing a trial at the High Court in London which is expected to last several days.The second man’s case is due to be analysed at a further trial in the near future. Lawyers representing Google say the cases are to first “right to be forgotten claims” aired in an English court.Barrister Antony White QC, who is leading Google’s legal team, told Mr Justice Warby that Google had “declined to delist”.“The claimants are businessmen who have current business interests which may involve interaction with actual and potential customers and investors and others, and who have posted statements online about their business experience and expertise,” he said.“The material in question is materially accurate.”He added: “There are strong public interest reasons for maintaining access to the publications.”Barrister Hugh Tomlinson QC, who is representing the first businessman, said the information at the centre of the case was “spent” under legislation relating to the rehabilitation of offenders and had become “private”. “There is a strong public policy in favour of the rehabilitation of criminal offenders,” he said.“The claimant has served his sentence and the rehabilitation period has expired.”Mr Tomlinson said the man had not been charged with any subsequent offence.He added: “Google should not, by the application of its own standards of morality, undermine the clear policy of Parliament.”

UK politics

Brexit legal fight reaches Supreme Court

December 5 2016

The Government has urged the UK's highest court to overturn a ruling that the Prime Minister must seek MPs' approval to trigger the process of taking Britain out of the European Union. Eleven Supreme Court justices - a record to hear an appeal - are hearing the challenge over the country's Brexit strategy, which has attracted world-wide attention from the media and public. The hearing will be the most televised UK case ever, with the proceedings streamed on the Supreme Court website and broadcast on television. In a decision on November 3 that infuriated Brexiteers, three High Court judges said Theresa May lacked power to use the royal prerogative to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty and start the two-year process of negotiating Brexit without the prior authority of Parliament. Now the justices are to have their say regarding one of the most important constitutional cases in British legal history. The Government's top law officer, Attorney General Jeremy Wright, told the justices that the case was of "great constitutional significance in which there is understandable and legitimate interest both inside and outside this courtroom". "Secondly, in the light of what followed the Divisional Court (High Court) judgment, it should be said with clarity this is a case which the claimants brought perfectly properly and which it is now perfectly proper for this court to decide." Mr Wright said the High Court had reached the "wrong" decision. It was for the Government to exercise prerogative powers in the conduct of the UK's affairs on the international plane. He told the judges that triggering Article 50 "will not be an exercise of the prerogative right on a whim or out of the blue", but was part of a process in which "Parliament has been fully and consciously involved". Mr Wright said the use of the prerogative in the circumstances would be lawful. The prerogative was not "an ancient relic", but a "constitutional necessity". He said the legislation enabling the EU referendum had been passed with the "clear expectation" that the Government would implement the result, and that Parliament had had the opportunity to restrict the Government's power to trigger Article 50, but had chosen not to do so. He said: "If this is all about standing up for Parliament, I say Parliament can stand up for itself." James Eadie QC, also representing the Government, described the prerogative as "a long-standing, well-recognised set of powers firmly established in our constitutional arrangements" which were "fundamental to our constitution and essential to effective government". He submitted: "The Government has legal power to give notice pursuant to Article 50." If the appeal is unsuccessful, and any potential further appeal to the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg also fails, the Government's plans for Brexit could be thrown into disarray. But Mrs May has made it clear she still intends to give an Article 50 notification by the end of next March to start the leave negotiations with 27 other EU countries. At the outset of the hearing Lord Neuberger, the court's president, said all parties had been asked whether they wished any of the judges to stand down. He said that all parties to the appeal had stated that they have no objection to any of the justices sitting on the appeal. The announcement follows media reports and comments that have questioned the independence of members of the judiciary. Lord Neuberger also said individual members of the public in the case had received "threats of serious violence and unpleasant abuse in emails and other electronic communications" and warned those responsible that "legal powers" existed to deal with them. He said: "Threatening and abusing people because they are exercising their fundamental right to go to court undermines the rule of law. "Anyone who communicates such threats or abuse should be aware that there are legal powers designed to ensure that access to the courts is available to everybody." Lord Neuberger is leading a panel including Lady Hale, Lord Mance, Lord Kerr, Lord Clarke, Lord Wilson, Lord Sumption, Lord Reed, Lord Carnwath, Lord Hughes and Lord Hodge. In his opening remarks Lord Neuberger stressed the court was aware of the "strong feelings associated with the many wider political questions surrounding the United Kingdom's departure from the European Union" - but those questions were not the subject of the appeal. He said: "This appeal is concerned with legal issues and, as judges, our duty is to consider those issues impartially, and to decide the case according to the law. That is what we shall do." Brexit Secretary David Davis is leading the Government's historic legal action. His team of lawyers, headed by Mr Wright, will argue in the four-day hearing that the three High Court judges erred over Article 50 and its use was legally justified by the June 23 referendum vote in favour of quitting the EU. Lord Thomas, the Lord Chief Justice, gave the ruling blocking the use of Article 50. Two other top judges - Master of the Rolls Sir Terence Etherton and Lord Justice Sales - agreed. Even though it was emphasised to a packed court that they were deciding "a pure question of law" and not expressing any view about the merits of leaving the European Union, they faced fierce criticism from Leave campaigners and an accusation that they were "enemies of the people". The High Court ruling was won by Gina Miller, 51, an investment fund manager and philanthropist who was selected to bring the lead case. She reported that her high-profile role had led to death threats and she had spent £60,000 on security, but she is returning to the battle represented once more by Lord Pannick QC. Her case is being supported by "concerned citizens" drawn from all walks of life, including London hairdresser Deir Dos Santos, 37, who helped start the legal battle over Brexit but, say his lawyers, has been forced underground after receiving "vile" hate mail. The Scottish and Welsh governments and the Attorney General for Northern Ireland are all intervening in the Supreme Court case. A ruling will not be given until the new year.

UK politics

Brexit judges ban publication of personal details after ‘serious violence’ threats

December 5 2016

Information about potentially key people at the centre of the Supreme Court's Brexit case will be withheld due to "threats of serious violence". Lord Neuberger, the president of the Supreme Court, revealed the extraordinary step as the legal battle over whether the UK Government needs parliamentary approval to trigger Article 50 has reached the highest legal authority in the land. The order means no one can publish or reveal the names of certain former claimants in proceedings, the names or addresses of any children who are interested parties, any information likely to lead to the identification of those people or their families in connection with these proceedings, or the home address of the First Respondent to the case. Lord Neuberger said: "We have made this order largely because various individuals have received threats of serious violence and unpleasant abuse in emails and other electronic communications. "Threatening and abusing people because they are exercising their fundamental right to go to court undermines the rule of law. "Anyone who communicates such threats or abuse should be aware that there are legal powers designed to ensure that access to the courts is available to everyone." The Supreme Court is being asked to overturn a High Court ruling that the Prime Minister must seek MPs' approval to trigger the process of taking Britain out of the European Union. In a decision that infuriated Brexiteers, three senior judges said Theresa May lacked power to use the royal prerogative to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty and start the two-year process of negotiating Brexit without the prior authority of Parliament. 11 Supreme Court justices - a record number to sit on an appeal - will have their say on one of the most important constitutional cases in generations. If the appeal is unsuccessful, and any potential further appeal to the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg also fails, the government's timetable for Brexit could be thrown into disarray. The Prime Minister has made it clear she intends to give an Article 50 notification by the end of next March to start negotiations with 27 other EU countries. Brexit Secretary David Davis is leading the government's historic legal action. His team of lawyers, headed by Attorney General Jeremy Wright, will argue in the four-day Supreme Court hearing that three High Court judges erred over Article 50 and its use was legally justified by the June 23 referendum vote in favour of quitting the EU. The Scottish and Welsh governments and the Attorney General for Northern Ireland are all intervening in the case. Scotland's Lord Advocate James Wolffe QC is to argue that it would be unlawful for the Article 50 process to start without a legislative consent motion (LCM) from Holyrood. Lord Neuberger added: "The Justices of the Court are of course aware of the public interest in this case. "And we are aware of the strong feelings associated with the many wider political questions surrounding the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union. "However, as will be apparent from the arguments before us, those wider political questions are not the subject of this appeal. "This appeal is concerned with legal issues, and, as judges, our duty is to consider those issues impartially, and to decide the case according to the law. That is what we shall do."

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.

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