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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…

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

Perth & Kinross

Court hears how HMRC criminal investigations officer looked at alleged £160,000 VAT fraud

January 11 2017

A criminal investigations officer looking into an alleged VAT fraud of more than £160,000 by a Perthshire potato merchant disclosed how court orders were obtained to look at bank accounts and to search business and private premises. On the second day of the sheriff and jury trial concerning Scott Coupland, of Leadenflower Road, Crieff, Catherine Johnson, 48, told Perth Sheriff Court the case against the accused had been passed on to her by local VAT compliance officers as they had “concerns” about some repayments . Miss Johnson, who has been a criminal investigations officer with HMRC since 2008, told depute fiscal John Malpass that a production order had been obtained from the court in order to look at Coupland’s accounts with the Royal Bank of Scotland in London. She added that a search warrant was then granted to allow HMRC to search both Coupland’s business premises and home in Crieff. “I had legal powers to detain Mr Coupland and he was taken to Perth Police station to be interviewed with regard to the VAT allegations on January 29, 2013,” she said. Four tapes detailing the interview were due to be played to the court on Tuesday but it was decided this could only be done if members of the jury were given transcripts of the recordings. As a result, the tapes should be heard in court on Wednesday. Earlier, Chrystal Symons, 59, a compliance officer with HMRC, had confirmed to Michael Meehan QC, representing Coupland, that she didn’t know if the Government body’s VAT computer system automatically added up a column on electronic VAT returns submitted by businesses. The court was then shown a VAT return submitted by Coupland, a sole director with WDR Coupland (Produce) Ltd for the period March 1 to May 31, 2011, which indicated a net figure of £21,534.26 was paid by HMRC to the businessman as a repayment. Mr Meehan also produced a VAT document for the period running from September 1 to November 30, 2011, which stated a net figure of £27,668.66 was paid by HMRC as a repayment. And another VAT return was shown to the court, covering the period from December 1, 2011 to February 29, 2012, that showed a repayment of £28,175.34 to WDR Coupland (Produce) Ltd. The QC stated that all these repayments covered the first charge against Coupland. Ms Symons had told depute fiscal John Malpass that an entry in Coupland’s business bank account dated April 18, 2012, of a payment to Morrison’s Academy of £2,309 would usually be in that person’s own private bank account. And she claimed that a figure of £25,236.03 in an automated credit listing in Coupland’s business bank account dated June 11, 2012, was a very “high” repayment. Coupland, 48, denies knowingly submitting false VAT claims to HMRC and fraudulently evading VAT totalling £124,172 at an address in East High Street, Crieff, between March 1, 2011 and May 31, 2012. He also pleads not guilty to being knowingly concerned in the fraudulent evasion of a second sum, amounting to £37,056.78, between June 1, 2012 and November 30, 2012, by submitting false VAT repayments. The trial, heard before Sheriff William Wood and a jury, continues.  

Perth & Kinross

VAT officer tells trial of high levels of claims by Perthshire potato merchant

January 10 2017

A VAT officer said she felt a figure of almost two and a half million pounds put against the total net value of sales by a Perthshire potato merchant was “very high.” Chrystal Symons, 59, a compliance officer with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), was giving evidence at Perth Sheriff Court at the trial of Scott Coupland, 48, of Leadenflower Road, Crieff, who is accused of two separate charges of VAT evasion. On Monday, the civil servant told depute fiscal John Malpass that she has been a VAT officer since 1993. Ms Symons explained how foodstuffs such as potatoes are “zero-rated” in terms of VAT and how VAT returns submitted by Coupland, a sole director with WDR Coupland (Produce) Ltd, began to “cause her concerns.” Ms Symons said Coupland had cancelled three meetings with her “at the last minute,” when she was told he was “out of the country” in August and October 2012. “On one occasion I left a phone message with Mr Coupland asking to contact me about the VAT returns but he never got back in touch,” she said. “My last arranged visit was in October 2012, when I felt he had ample time to arrange his records but this was again cancelled at the last minute. A repayment detailed in VAT returns of August 31 that year was then inhibited by us. “By visiting businesses, it helps confirm that the submitted VAT returns are correct.” The court heard that Ms Symons had spoken to her manager about “high levels” of repayments submitted by the accused that required checking. As a result, an HMRC investigations team were called in and they visited Coupland’s business premises and “uplifted” the VAT records. Ms Symons said Coupland had previously notified HMRC back in 2009 when a “computer error” by him led to a mistake in some of his VAT returns for 2007 and 2008.  And she told the court that the total net value of sales – listed as £2,242,410.55 in accrual business from March to May 2011 – was “very high.” “You would need to have a large company to be doing that amount of business,” she said. “Also, I felt the figure of £2,092,296.65 given for the net value of purchases, which covers expenses incurred such as haulage, phone use, stationary and computers in the same records, was high.” Coupland denies knowingly submitting false VAT claims to HMRC and fraudulently evading VAT totalling £124,172 at an address in Crieff’s East High Street between March 1 2011 and May 31 2012. He has also pleaded not guilty to being knowingly concerned in the fraudulent evasion of a second sum, amounting to £37,056.78, between June 1 2012 and November 30 2012, by submitting false VAT repayment claims. The trial, heard before Sheriff William Wood and a jury continues.

Perth & Kinross

Perth businessman jailed for £160,000 VAT fraud

February 9 2017

A Perthshire businessman has been sent to jail for two years and six months after being found guilty after trial of a VAT fraud totalling more than £160,000. Sheriff William Wood told Scott Coupland, 48, of Leadenflower Road, Crieff, he had shown “no remorse” nor made any effort to pay back the money owed to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and said the only option for him was to hand out a custodial sentence. Perth Sheriff Court had previously heard that Coupland was the sole director with WDR Coupland (Produce) Ltd, a potato merchant’s business, and how he was solely responsible for submitting the firm’s VAT returns. During the trial, Coupland had claimed that an accounting computer system used to file payments to hauliers and note items such as petty cash, had “crashed” in 2011. The former businessman, who took on three jobs following him being charged with the VAT fraud allegations, had told the court that this computer “glitch” led to the loss of substantial amounts of financial information, and forced him to “re-key” historic details of his VAT returns to HMRC, and as a result, make unwitting errors. However, this failed to convince a jury who found him guilty of knowingly submitting false VAT claims to HMRC and fraudulently evading VAT totalling £124,172 between March 3, 2011, and June 6, 2012. The jury had also found him guilty of being knowingly concerned in the fraudulent evasion of a second sum, amounting to £37,056.78, between June 1, 2012, and November 30, 2012, by submitting false VAT repayments. Coupland had denied both charges. The court had previously heard from Chrystal Symons, 59, a compliance officer with HMRC, who became concerned with certain aspects of Coupland’s VAT returns and how she then passed the matter on to the investigations department of the Government body. On Wednesday, Michael Meehan QC, representing Coupland, told the court that his client had now been offered a loan of £20,000 from his brother towards restitution to HMRC, and asked Sheriff Wood to adjourn the case to allow more time to pay back the remainder of the money owed. “I would ask that some structure be made to pay the remaining £140,000, but realise this £20,000 is only a portion of the money owed,” he said. However, Sheriff Wood told Coupland that the potato merchant business was zero-rated in terms of VAT and that the former businessman had a “somewhat cavalier” approach to submitting his company accounts. “You submitted seven false VAT claims in 21 months, have shown no remorse and made no offer of restitution until today,” he said. “Also, you didn’t make yourself available for interview with HMRC officers and there was no reason for these false claims to be made. “I realise the impact being sent to jail will have on your family but the only option is for a custodial sentence.” Sheriff Wood also granted a request from the Crown to look into the financial aspect of a sale of a property owned by Coupland. This will be heard in court on April 5.  

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

Perth & Kinross

Culinary dimension added to Perth Show

July 28 2016

For more than 150 years Perth Show has been a popular, once a year meeting point for the people of the city and the farming community. The show – now the third largest of its type in Scotland – remains as always a showcase for champion livestock but this year holds a much wider appeal for visitors. To be held on Friday and Saturday August 5 and 6 on the South Inch, throughout the two days, trade stands, sideshows, entertainment, activities, music and parades all add to the vibrancy of the show along with a new culinary direction. “For the first time, Perth Show is set to feature a cookery theatre and food and drink marquee,” said show secretary Neil Forbes. “This will bring a new and popular dimension to the visitor attraction. “Perth Show 2016 is also delighted to welcome Perthshire On A Plate (POAP) – a major food festival, celebrating the very best in local produce and culinary talent. “Organised by Perthshire Chamber of Commerce, the two-day festival will run as part of the show and feature celebrity and local chefs, demonstrations and tastings, book signings, food and drink related trade stands, fun-filled activities for ‘kitchen kids’ and a large dining area and pop-up restaurants in a double celebration of food and farming.” Heading the celebrity chef line-up are television favourite Rosemary Shrager (Friday) and spice king Tony Singh (Saturday), backed by a host of talented local chefs including Graeme Pallister (63 Tay Street) and Grant MacNicol (Fonab Castle). The cookery theatre, supported by Quality Meat Scotland, will also stage a fun cookery challenge between students from Perth College and the ladies of the SWI. A range of pop-up restaurants featuring taster dishes from some of the area’s best known eating places will allow visitors to sample local produce as they relax in the show’s new POAP dining area. “We’re trying to create a wide and varied programme of entertainment,” said Mr Forbes. “Late afternoon on Friday will see the It’s A Knockout  challenge with teams from businesses throughout Perth and Perthshire competing against each other. “And the first day’s programme will end with a beer, wine and spirit festival where teams can celebrate their achievements and visitors can sample a wide range of locally produced drinks.” This year will also see the reintroduction of showjumping at Perth Show on the Saturday afternoon.

VIDEO: Atmosphere lost from Angus light horse day

June 16 2014

Following a two-year absence from the calendar, the Angus Show committee will face an uphill struggle if they want to continue running their light horse classes a week apart from their main agricultural show event. Entries were low across the board and, with no general public in evidence, there was little sense of any occasion at the Brechin Castle show field. The embossed wording ‘Angus Show’ on the equestrian rosettes was ultimately the only clue the gathering had any connection to what was once a leading county event. Nonetheless, some quality horses were forward for competition, with numbers on the field helped along the way by the cancellation of the Fife Hunt Pony Club’s one-day-event, which had been due to take place the same day at nearby Auchlishie. Having already caught the eye of two section judges during early competition, Rebecca Copland’s coloured cob mare Dolly XIII rose through the overall championship to stand as show supreme. “As a traditional horse, she has everything you would look for,” explained Rothienorman’s Mary Sivewright, who had first taken the mare as coloured champion before voting in her favour for the supreme. “She’s so scopey in her canter and she really just blew me away.” It is not the first time Dolly XIII has achieved a supreme accolade under Mary’s watchful eye on this show site, after she stood reserve supreme at the Brechin Spring. She was also supreme champion of the Ingliston Grand Slam on an earlier outing this year. “She’s a really good mover,” agreed another of the overall judges, Martyn Adams from Fyvie. “She’s mannerly, nicely put together and went really sweetly.” The consensus from all the section judges was to bring Victoria Mylius and Rosalind Low’s yearling pony Castafiore Emerald forward to stand reserve overall for Angus 2014. “He might still be a little immature and have a wee bit yet to go, but he’s very pretty, is a nice mover and will certainly have his day in years to come,” said Martyn. Emerald, a son of Strinedale Matador, was home-bred out of the ladies’ renowned show mare Lyndrose Tiny Dancer. equestrian@thecourier.co.uk

Perth & Kinross

Former Perthshire potato merchant ordered to pay back £76,500 to the public purse

January 20 2018

A former Perthshire potato merchant who was jailed for tax evasion has now been ordered to pay £76,500 to the public purse. The Crown and Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) pursued Scott Coupland, 48, of Crieff, in a proceeds of crime action following him being sentenced to two years and six months in February last year, following a trial at Perth Sheriff Court. HMRC have said Coupland “falsely inflated” his business expenses by 2,000% to claim VAT he wasn’t entitled to. A jury had found him guilty after trial at Perth Sheriff Court of knowingly submitting a false VAT claims to HMRC and fraudulently evading VAT totalling £124,172 between March 3 2011 and June 6 2012. The jury also found Coupland guilty of being knowingly concerned in the fraudulent evasion of a second sum, amounting to £37,056.78, between June 1 2012 and November 30 2012, by submitting false VAT repayments. Coupland had denied both charges. Following the trial, Sheriff William Wood had told Coupland he had shown “no remorse” nor made any effort to pay back the money owed to HMRC. On Friday, HMRC welcomed the decision to grant the £76,500 proceeds of crime action. Cheryl Burr, assistant director of HMRC’s fraud investigation service, said: “Coupland has already been jailed for his criminal actions, but even following a conviction our work doesn’t stop. “He showed no regard for honest businesses by using the VAT repayment system to fund his lifestyle and now we will recover a large proportion of the profit he made from his crime, securing these funds for the public purse. “We also have the authority to secure any future assets up to the benefit of the fraud.” She continued: “Coupland submitted a series of false VAT returns to HMRC while he was director of WDR Coupland (Produce) Ltd. He claimed his overheads were more than 20 times higher than they actually were to receive £160,000 in VAT repayments he wasn’t entitled to.” Monies recovered in Scotland under the provisions of the Proceeds of Crime Act are surrendered to the Scottish Consolidated Fund and subsequently repaid to the Scottish Government.