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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...

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.

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

Parliamentarians plan appeal as they seek European court ruling on Brexit

February 9 2018

A group of parliamentarians plans to lodge a legal appeal in an attempt to secure a European court ruling on Brexit.The politicians believe the UK Parliament could unilaterally stop the UK leaving the EU if the final Brexit deal is deemed unacceptable by the Commons.They want a definitive ruling from the European Court of Justice (CJEU) on whether the withdrawal process triggered under Article 50 can be halted by the UK on its own, without prior consent of the other 27 EU member states.The group took its fight to the Court of Session in Edinburgh but on Tuesday Judge Lord Doherty turned down a bid to have a full hearing on whether to refer the question to the Luxembourg Court, ruling the issue is  “hypothetical and academic”, and that he is “not satisfied the application has a real prospect of success”.Now campaigners have announced plans to appeal against his ruling to the Inner House of the Court of Session.Two of the original group of seven have withdrawn – the SNP’s Joanna Cherry QC and Liberal Democrat Christine Jardine – while director of the Good Law Project, Jo Maugham QC, which has backed the crowdfunded legal action, has been added.The remaining five members are Green MSPs Andy Wightman and Ross Greer, SNP MEP Alyn Smith and Labour MEPs David Martin and Catherine Stihler.In a statement, Mr Maugham said they believe the judge’s decision was “flawed”.He added: “Establishing that, alongside the political route to revocability there is a legal route, is vital in the national interest.“If Parliament chooses not to withdraw the Article 50 notice then no harm is done by asking now the question whether it has that right.“But if Parliament does come to want to withdraw the notice, knowing it has the right to do so serves the national interest.“It improves the bargaining position of the UK, it ensures we retain the opt-outs and rebates that we presently enjoy, and it places the decision entirely in the hands of the UK’s Parliament and – if it chooses – its people.”Aidan O’Neill QC, representing the politicians, previously asked for the case to proceed through the Scottish court, arguing there was a genuine dispute between the two sides as to the proper interpretation of Article 50 which the court required to resolve.David Johnston QC, for the UK Government, insisted the application has no real prospect of success and that there was “no live issue” for the court to address.The policy of the UK Government is that the notification under Article 50 will not be withdrawn, he said.Finding in favour of the Government, Lord Doherty said: “Given that neither Parliament nor the Government has any wish to withdraw the notification, the central issue which the petitioners ask the court to decide – whether the UK could unilaterally withdraw the Article 50(2) notification – is hypothetical and academic.“In those circumstances it is not a matter which this court, or the CJEU, require to adjudicate upon.”

UK & World

Social workers involved in St Helena child abuse inquiry take legal action

March 23 2018

Two social workers who say an inquiry report into allegations of child abuse on the British overseas territory of St Helena destroyed their professional reputations have taken legal action.Claire Gannon and Martin Warsama, who worked on St Helena and made cover-up allegations, have sued the Foreign Office and the senior barrister who led the inquiry.They say they “stand by the accuracy and honesty of their disclosures” and say conclusions were reached on the basis of an inquiry which was procedurally unfair.Lawyers representing ministers and inquiry chairman Sasha Wass QC dispute their claim and say the litigation should not proceed.A judge was on Friday considering issues in the case at a High Court hearing in London.Barrister Neil Sheldon, who is leading a legal team representing Foreign Office ministers, asked the judge, Master Victoria McCloud, to halt the litigation and dismiss the claim launched by Ms Gannon and Mr Warsama.The inquiry had been set up by ministers following corruption and cover-up allegations which had been raised in newspaper articles and leaked documents and made by Ms Gannon and Martin Warsama.An inquiry report published in December 2015 concluded that: St Helena did not “attract sex tourism”; said allegations that the island in the South Atlantic was a “paedophiles’ paradise” were not true; reported “no corruption at all”; and found no evidence of any attempt by the Foreign Office, the Department for International Development, the St Helena government or police to cover up child abuse.The report said: “We stress that there was no ‘cover-up’ as alleged by Ms Gannon and Mr Warsama, rather an ignorance of proper safeguarding procedure.”Nicholas Bowen QC, who represents Ms Gannon and Mr Warsama, told the judge the conclusions of the Wass Inquiry “destroyed” the professional reputations of his clients.He said the inquiry process was “procedurally” unfair and said Ms Gannon and Mr Warsama were entitled to “just satisfaction” for their loss.Ms Gannon and Mr Warsama say their claim should not be dismissed but say evidence should be analysed at a trial.

Supreme Court to announce decision in black cab rapist case

February 15 2018

The UK’s highest court is to give its decision on a challenge to a ruling which led to two women who were sexually assaulted by London cabbie John Worboys winning compensation.The Supreme Court has been told by lawyers for the Metropolitan Police that imposing a duty of care on officers in relation to their investigations would have an adverse impact on operational effectiveness.Between 2002 and 2008, Worboys, who was jailed for life in 2009, carried out more than 100 rapes and sexual assaults using alcohol and drugs to stupefy his victims.In 2014, after the High Court found that the Met were liable to the women for failures in its investigation, it said that DSD and NBV – who brought their claims under Article 3 of the Human Rights Act which relates to inhuman or degrading treatment – should receive £22,250 and £19,000 respectively.The Met, with the Home Office intervening in support, went to the Supreme Court – which will give its judgment on Wednesday February 21 – after the Court of Appeal backed the decision.It says the case is being pursued to establish legal principles for the future and the women who, it says, showed “considerable bravery”, will keep their damages whatever happens.Lord Pannick QC has told a panel of five justices that the imposition of an investigative duty raised policy concerns as the Supreme Court had repeatedly recognised.He asked them to allow the appeal so that a “dialogue” could take place with the European Court of Human Rights in StrasbourgLord Pannick said there was a concern that any such duty “will reduce the efficacy of police investigations of crime”.Article 3 did not give rise to an entitlement to damages for failings of a police investigation into criminal offending by a member of the public, he argued.Insofar as it did impose an obligation, that was confined to a requirement to put in place the necessary legal structures, but did not extend to the operational content of an individual inquiry into a particular alleged crime.Phillippa Kaufmann QC, for DSD and NBV, said the appeal should be dismissed because there was a duty under Article 3 to conduct an effective criminal investigation when an individual was subjected to serious violence – whether the perpetrator was a private individual or a state official.As identified by the Court of Appeal and the High Court this was a facet of the rule of law and the security and protection of the people.It was “a bare minimum safeguard in any civilised state”.This duty was repeatedly acknowledged by the Strasbourg Court and was not inconsistent with domestic law or incompatible with the common law, she added.Earlier this month, DSD and NBV welcomed a ruling which gave them and London Mayor Sadiq Khan the go-ahead to challenge what they describe as the  Parole Board’s “irrational” decision to release Worboys.Worboys, 60,  will remain in prison pending a full High Court hearing on March 13.

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.

Supreme Court to announce decision in black cab rapist case

February 21 2018

The UK’s highest court is giving its decision on a challenge to a ruling which led to two women who were sexually assaulted by London cabbie John Worboys winning compensation.The Supreme Court has been told by lawyers for the Metropolitan Police that imposing a duty of care on officers in relation to their investigations would have an adverse impact on operational effectiveness.Between 2002 and 2008, Worboys, who was jailed for life in 2009, carried out more than 100 rapes and sexual assaults using alcohol and drugs to stupefy his victims.In 2014, after the High Court found that the Met were liable to the women for failures in its investigation, it said that DSD and NBV – who brought their claims under Article 3 of the Human Rights Act which relates to inhuman or degrading treatment – should receive £22,250 and £19,000 respectively.The Met, with the Home Office intervening in support, went to the Supreme Court – which gives its judgment on Wednesday – after the Court of Appeal backed the decision.It says the case is being pursued to establish legal principles for the future and the women, who showed “considerable bravery”, will keep their damages whatever happens.Lord Pannick QC has told a panel of five justices that the imposition of an investigative duty raised policy concerns and asked them to allow the appeal so that a “dialogue” could take place with the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.Lord Pannick said there was a concern that any such duty “will reduce the efficacy of police investigations of crime”.Article 3 did not give rise to an entitlement to damages for failings of a police investigation into criminal offending by a member of the public, he argued.Insofar as it did impose an obligation, that was confined to a requirement to put in place the necessary legal structures, but did not extend to the operational content of an individual inquiry into a particular alleged crime.Earlier this month, DSD and NBV welcomed a ruling which gave them and London Mayor Sadiq Khan the go-ahead to challenge what they describe as the Parole Board’s “irrational” decision to release Worboys.Worboys, 60, will remain in prison pending a full High Court hearing on March 13.

UK & World

Belfast High Court to hear Brexit legal challenge

October 4 2016

A legal challenge to Brexit is due to begin in Northern Ireland today. Lawyers representing a host of high-profile politicians and campaigners will argue that triggering Article 50 would be illegal if done without securing parliamentary and Northern Ireland Assembly consent. Prime Minister Theresa May has said she plans to use the mechanism to begin negotiations with the European Union next year. Former Stormont justice minister David Ford is among a cross-community group of politicians and human rights activists whose lawyers are taking the case at Belfast's High Court. They have urged the premier to consider the country's peace process and other unique requirements before launching Brexit talks. Northern Ireland's attorney general John Larkin QC is expected to be involved in the landmark legal proceedings. Raymond McCord, whose son Raymond McCord Jr was murdered by the loyalist Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) in north Belfast in 1997, is also involved in the case over concerns that European peace money for Troubles victims may be stopped. Some 56 per cent of Northern Irish voters backed Remain in the June 23 referendum but some unionist-dominated parts supported Leave. Northern Ireland shares the UK's only land border with an EU state, the Republic of Ireland, and the British and Irish Governments have said they are keen to ensure there is no return to the hard borders of the past. Those supporting the legal action include: Green Party leader Steven Agnew; Social Democratic and Labour Party leader Colum Eastwood; senior Sinn Fein Stormont Assembly member John O'Dowd; former head of the Progressive Unionist Party Dawn Purvis; ex-Equality Commission member and disability rights activist Monica Wilson OBE and the Committee on the Administration of Justice human rights group. They want to ensure the Brexit process complies with the rule of law, takes account of parliamentary sovereignty, protects progress made towards a more peaceful society and accords adequate weight to the democratic will of those in Northern Ireland who voted in the European referendum and in the 1998 poll on the Good Friday Agreement.

Scotland

Brexit challenge to proceed to full hearing in Scottish courts

March 20 2018

A legal challenge to the UK Government on Brexit can proceed to a full hearing in the Scottish courts, the country’s most senior judge has ruled.Lord Carloway, the Lord President, said a previous decision to dismiss the case had “erred” in ruling that there was “no real prospect of success”.He has now granted permission for the challenge – which has been brought by a cross-party group of politicians from Holyrood and the European Parliament – to proceed.Jo Maugham QC, director of the Good Law Project and one of the petitioners, tweeted: “The Inner House of the Court of Session has given us permission.”While Lord Carloway was critical of the “rhetoric and extraneous and irrelevant material” in the petition, he stated there was a “point of substance” which should be “argued in the normal way” in court.Labour, Scottish Green and SNP representatives united to bring forward the legal challenge, with Green MSPs Andy Wightman and Ross Greer, SNP MEP Alyn Smith and Labour MEPs David Martin and Catherine Stihler all involved, along with Mr Maugham.The group believe the UK Parliament could unilaterally halt the Brexit process if the final deal negotiated by the Government is rejected by MPs in the House of Commons.They claim this offers a third option, instead of Britain having to choose between a bad deal on the UK’s future relationship with Europe or crashing out of the EU with no deal.The group is ultimately seeking a definitive ruling from the European Court of Justice (CJEU) on whether the withdrawal process triggered under Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union can be revoked by the UK on its own, without first securing the consent of the other 27 EU member states.Their legal team went to the Court of Session – Scotland’s highest civil court – in Edinburgh in February to ask a judge to refer the question to the Luxembourg court.Judge Lord Doherty originally refused to move the case on, saying the issue was “hypothetical and academic”, and that he is “not satisfied the application has a real prospect of success”.However, in his opinion Lord Carloway said: “The issue of whether it is legally possible to revoke the notice of withdrawal is, as already stated, one of great importance.”He added: “On one view, authoritative guidance on whether it is legally possible to do so may have the capacity to influence Members of Parliament in deciding what steps to take in advance of, and at the time of, a debate and vote on the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill.“After all, if Parliament is to be regarded as sovereign, the Government’s position on the legality of revoking the notice may not be decisive.”Lord Carloway said that given the case related to “a matter of very great constitutional importance”, the court had taken “quite some time to consider the petition” – although he said this was “an exceptional course and it is not one which a court should follow in the ordinary case”.A spokesman for the parliamentarians said: “We warmly welcome today’s judgment and are heartened by many of the comments, especially Lord Carloway’s statement that the issue is ‘of great importance’.“We remain of the view that the revocability of Article 50, and indeed how it should be revoked given this is new territory for everyone, is an important if technical point, and that it is open to the UK to revoke the Brexit process in accordance with constitutional procedure.“Nothing in Brexit is inevitable and we look forward to the full hearing in due course.”

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