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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...


Alex Salmond welcomes pledge on men-only golf venues

July 31 2013

The First Minister has welcomed news that the Scottish Open’s biggest sponsor will not agree to the event being played at men-only golf clubs. Aberdeen Asset Management chief executive Martin Gilbert said the firm disagrees with any policies which discriminate against women. The company is signed on as the main sponsor of the event until 2017. Mr Gilbert’s comments follow the controversy over the staging of the recent Open Championship at the men-only Muirfield, which was met with criticism. The First Minister Alex Salmond said: “As the home of golf, Scotland has a responsibility to promote equality in the game and that is why the Scottish Government has made clear our preference that all clubs in this country adopt a policy that gives full playing rights to women for our wonderful courses.” Mr Salmond welcomed Aberdeen Asset Management’s stance as he highlighted the strength of women’s golf before the Ricoh Women’s British Open in St Andrews, which begins on Thursday.


Salmond and Trump told to end feud for sake of Scottish golf

September 9 2014

The most influential man in Scottish golf has called on First Minister Alex Salmond and tycoon Donald Trump to settle their differences to further boost the success of the Scottish Open. Martin Gilbert, chief executive of Aberdeen Asset Management the financial company that effectively sponsors all sectors of the game in Scotland wants to take the Scottish to Trump’s course at Menie Estate and also to Turnberry, which the American acquired earlier this year. However, the feud between the First Minister and Trump over wind turbines means that it’s unlikely either venue will get the Scottish in the near future as the Scottish Government is a significant partner in sponsoring the event with Gilbert’s AAM. The 59-year-old Aberdonian, who has driven the blanket sponsorship of AAM for the Scottish Opens for both sexes, professional players and Scotland’s amateur teams, already gives credit to both men for their work in Scottish golf. “Alex Salmond is mad keen on golf and has done a lot for the game without his support there is no question the Scottish Open would have been lost,” he said. “You’ve got to give credit to Donald Trump too because he has made Aberdeen almost a destination for golf. “We would love to see the Scottish Open some day at his course. People have different opinions on Donald but I have to say I’ve never seen anything like the course at Menie.” Gilbert believes that it will suit both men and the game in Scotland to “end their spat”, and Trump has been more conciliatory in recent statements since he took over Turnberry. “Look, I’d be surprised if they don’t patch up,” continued Gilbert. “Donald is a businessman, and he’s aware that it would be better and much easier for everyone if we could take (the Scottish Open) there. “It’s such a fabulous course, and now there’s Turnberry as well. So I suspect they’ll get over it.” In the meantime, Gilbert believes that the upcoming independence referendum will make no difference to the First Minister’s support of the game. “Whatever the result, the Scottish Parliament is going to continue in one form or another,” he said. “Alex Salmond is going to be in power until whenever the next Scottish election is. “I think his support to Scottish golf is incredible. He was the one who got us into the Scottish Open, he approached us. “We have taken it on from there, but without the Government’s financial support there is no doubt that the Scottish Open would have gone because Hugo Boss wanted that slot in the schedule and wanted to move it to Sweden, I believe. “Alex Salmond has done a great job in making sure that that didn’t happen, while (European Tour executive director) George O’Grady has done an excellent job selling it to TV in the States.” Gilbert always believed that the Scottish Open should be on a links course. “When Barclays pulled out we always thought that the formula was wrong,” he added. “Bob Diamond (the former Barclays chief) was keen to move to links, but Loch Lomond was so successful with the players and with the Pro-Am. I think it was almost too successful, so it was really difficult to move it away.” Gilbert hopes the same sort of success with the men’s Scottish the week before the Open Championship translates to moving the Scottish Ladies Open to the week before the Ricoh Women’s British Open and doubling prize money next year at Dundonald. “We’re just trying to copy a bit of what we are doing on the men’s tour. Having it the week before the Ricoh British hopefully we can get some of the American players over. “We’re trying to make it a bigger event, I think it will take some time to match what has been done in the men’s game. “The women’s game is not in as rude a financial state as the men’s, and anything we can help in a commercial aspect is really important in my point of view, and the tournament’s point of view as well.” AAM’s support to Scottish golf has been lauded by many former Open champion Padraig Harrington said the golfing world was “jealous” of their blanket sponsorship but Gilbert believes he gets his money’s worth. “It’s good for us. We wouldn’t be doing it if we didn’t think we were getting a good return, and we are getting a really good return with the TV audience in America. “The support to the amateur game, compared to the Scottish Open, is really petty cash. But I think where we’ve got to really look at is the gap between our top amateurs and the professional game. We’re not getting enough coming through. With the exception of Stephen Gallacher, we haven’t got anyone in the top 50 in the world.”


Saturday finish and Kingsbarns on Scottish Open agenda

July 11 2016

The Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open could be headed for Kingsbarns Links in Fife and back to a Saturday finish as tournament organisers look to cement the event’s future success. AAM chief executive Martin Gilbert doesn’t “really want to know” how much money the financial services company have pumped into Scottish golf at all levels over the last 10 years, but he made it clear that he isn’t finished yet. The Scottish Open will hold its prime slot in the European Tour schedule the week before the Open Championship despite overtures from Ireland, says Gilbert, but there are “plenty of ideas” to shake up the event even more. “One of the thoughts is to start the Scottish Open a day earlier, on the Wednesday, so that on the last day we are not up against the Wimbledon men’s final,” he said. “With Andy Murray, I mean, it’s going to be a tough choice. Now that Wimbledon has moved (to this week)  permanently, you have to look at it, and TV would be happier because they would have something on the Wednesday as well." The Scottish traditionally ended on Saturday to allow for Open Final Qualifying, although it eventually moved to a Sunday finish before FQs were moved from their slot just prior to the Open itself. In the meantime, and despite loyal supporter Phil Mickelson's public misgivings, Gilbert and AAM's partners the Scottish Government are still keen to move the championship around the country. “We would obviously like to go back to Aberdeen, and Gullane probably, which did really, really well last year," he said. “We want to take it to good courses, and Kingsbarns would be another one we would love to go to.  The live TV pictures beamed to the US are very important for the Scottish government, so I think Kingsbarns lends itself to that more than most courses.” The moves by the Irish, led by Rory McIlroy, for the pre-Open slot were rebuffed by tour chief Keith Pelley and the present arrangement is tied in until 2020, continued Gilbert. “I’m sure Rory would like it but it’s signed to 2020,” he said. “I know Keith is keen to get the event bigger and bigger, and we’re happy to play our part in that. “We all share the same ambition to build this tournament. I think Keith’s thoughts were to create three £7 million tournaments and almost a links swing. “I have always thought it would be a good idea to do Ireland, Scotland and then the Open, three potentially links based events in a row.  That would be the much more logical arrangement.” In the meantime AAM will attempt to stage both men’s and women’s Scottish Opens at Dundonald in Ayrshire in a three-week window next year. “We haven’t made a final decision on this, but it is very much in the thought process,” continued Gilbert. “The infrastructure spend could be considerably less, and for the ladies event the improvement would be massive because you would have the same stands, the same press facilities, everything that you need. “The one we need to build in terms of prizemoney is the Ladies Scottish Open, that’s where we’ll concentrate our efforts over the next few years because we really want to get that up to be one of the richest events on the Ladies Tour.” Either of Donald Trump’s courses are probably off the radar for now, he admitted. “(Former R&A chief exceutive) Peter Dawson didn’t want us on Open courses and I don’t know if Martin Slumbers is of the same view, which maybe rules out Turnberry. “The Aberdeen course is magnificent but while he was running for the US presidency it would not be a great move, so at the moment it’s off limits.”

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.

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


Celebrating 150 years of McManus

December 20 2016

In 2017, The McManus celebrates its 150th anniversary. Opened in 1867 as the Albert Institute, it was designed by the renowned architect Sir George Gilbert Scott who today is best known for London’s St Pancras hotel. Here in Dundee, Gilbert Scott created a monument to Science, Literature and the Arts – a statement building of towering height designed to impress. Generations of Dundonians have taken it to their hearts and in 2000 voted it Dundee’s best loved building. Sympathetically remodelled by Page\Park architects between 2005-10, their use of the simple ellipse shape vesica pisces to link the refurbished interiors with the streetscape of Albert Square, perfectly complements Gilbert Scott’s High Gothic gem. Launching our year-long programme of celebrations is a new display that marks Dundee’s designation as a UNESCO City of Design.  Selected from the City’s diverse permanent collection, each object highlights the myriad ways in which design contributes to our lives. As you’d expect, the display includes objects of stunning beauty, complexity and historic importance.  Not for nothing are Dundee’s fine art, applied art and whaling industry collections - recognised as nationally significant collections. The Doncaster Gold Cup, designed by John Flaxman, is a demonstration of silversmithing of the finest quality by Paul Storr. Hallmarked 1816, it was made when both were working at the height of their powers. Metalworking on a larger scale is celebrated in a model of the 1887 Tay Rail Bridge piers, constructed to replace the original bridge and a reminder that its collapse was blamed on poor design. There are some revealing juxtapositions - Colin Reid’s complex studio glass Untitled R1198 is shown alongside the striations and startling green of the malachite mineral that provided the inspiration for the piece. A basket star with its intricate branching arms sits alongside an ancient Egyptian terracotta Medusa Mask.  Her snake hair reveals the inspiration for the basket star’s more common ‘Gorgon’s head’ moniker. Dundee’s reputation was built on jute, jam and journalism and readers of The Courier will be well aware that DC Thomson remains the UK’s largest independent publisher.  Looking for related material in store we came across a simple tin of pencils.  Prior to computerisation, tins of coloured pencils sat on desks throughout the organisation, used to edit, mark up and most importantly to create… One of the more unusual inclusions is the sponge known as the Venus Flower Basket.  An amazingly visual creature, the sponge weaves its incredible skeleton from silica which it extracts from seawater.  The properties of this natural fibreglass have influenced the development of fibre optics and solar panels. Does it look vaguely familiar? Its lattice mesh structure inspired the steel exoskeleton of Sir Norman Foster’s iconic Gerkin building in London. We couldn’t complete our display without the inclusion of a Keiller’s marmalade jar – a design icon recognised by marmalade lovers the world over.  Also, closer to home was the fashionable Maison Soutar. With premises on the Nethergate, the firm offered Dundee ladies bespoke dressmaking services based on the latest London styles. The delicately embroidered fabric of the Maison Souter bodice displayed was even purchased from Henderson & Co, silk mercers on the High Street. Perhaps the fabric was bought with a Dundee bank note?  A pound note issued in 1833 by the Dundee New Bank combines a beautiful view of Dundee harbour with complex geometric patterns designed to fox forgers. One of the most striking pieces is a sack sample for poultry feed produced for A&S Henry & Co.  Donated in the early 1970s, little information came in with it and sadly we have no details of the designer of this arresting image. If this is your design – or you know who did it – do get in touch. At this festive time of year, make your new year’s resolution to come along and celebrate 150 years of The McManus and the City’s amazing collections.  Truly something to crow about! Anna Robertson is Fine and Applied Art Section Leader at McManus

Scottish politics

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

August 23 2016

Labour grandee Tam Dalyell has said those in the party warming to Scottish independence on the back of the Brexit vote are “living in fairyland”. Former First Minister Henry McLeish and David Martin, who is Labour’s longest-serving MEP, are among the senior Labour figures who have said they could be converted to the independence cause. Official Scottish Labour policy is to oppose a second referendum on secession until at least 2021, but leader Kezia Dugdale has been accused by some quarters of softening her pro-Union stance. Delivering his assessment of those in the party shifting towards independence, Sir Tam told The Courier: “They are living in fairyland. I think they are wrong. “McLeish and others had better realise that there is no chance of an independent Scotland being admitted into the European Union. “No prime minister of Spain would allow it and nor would the Germans.” Mr McLeish, who led a Scottish Labour government in 2000/01, said earlier this year the party must abandon its strategy of “just saying no to independence” and advocated a “new alternative of real home rule”. Mr Martin, who is on Ms Sturgeon’s Standing Council on Europe, has said independence is “worth considering” if Scotland cannot retain access to the single market. Scottish Labour deputy leader Alex Rowley revealed last month that he would not oppose a second independence referendum, saying the Brexit vote had shifted the debate. His boss Ms Dugdale reprimanded on live radio yesterday saying it was “wrong” for Mr Rowley to take that stance against party policy. Sir Tam, who was an MP in Scotland for 43 years and a fervent Unionist, called on MPs from all parties to block Brexit. “I believe it is up to every member of Parliament to do the right thing and to vote against the triggering of Article 50,” he said. “I would hope the House of Commons blocks Brexit and I have very strong views on this.” He said the referendum result does not have to be enacted because “people were lied to and misled by (Boris) Johnson and others”. “You look at what Brexit would mean for places like Dundee, and the damage it could do to universities like Dundee, and I am very angry about it,” he added. Article 50 is the legal mechanism through which member states leave the EU. Political and constitutional experts disagree on whether Parliament has to vote on whether it is triggered.

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.

Business news

Aberdeen Asset Management looks to US

February 15 2013

Aberdeen Asset Management is to acquire American asset management holding company Artio Global Investors Inc. The group said the takeover would help it expand its North American business and deepen its distribution network in the region. Martin Gilbert, chief executive of Aberdeen Asset Management, said: “This transaction is in line with Aberdeen’s strategy of undertaking infill acquisitions that will assist with growing our business organically. “It will be of benefit to our North American business, a region we view as a key growth market for Aberdeen. “The integration of Artio’s operations will strengthen further our US fixed-income expertise, in particular the addition of US total return and global high-yield products, and will help to broaden and deepen our distribution network in the US.” The purchase consideration of approximately £112 million represents a premium of £22m over Artio’s unaudited net asset value at December 31 last year. Artio is debt-free and has net asset value of £90m and cash and seed investments of £87m. The deal is expected to close by the end of the second, or early in the third, quarter of this year, and is subject to customary conditions including approval by a majority of Artio Global shareholders. Artio’s assets under management include mutual fund assets of £4.6 billion. AAM said its new acquisition comprises a £6.3bn fixed-income business with top quartile performance across a range of strategies, and a £2.9bn international and global equities business. The latter will be transitioned to Aberdeen’s top-performing global equity process post-completion. The deal is expected to be earnings enhancing from its outset. Last full-year results showed AAM revenues rose by 11% to £869.2m during the year to the end of September, driven by greater demand for high-margin funds, with a 15% hike in underlying pre-tax profits to £347.8m. Total assets under management hit £187.2bn. Shares rose 2.5% on news of the acquisition yesterday, climbing 10.4p to 426.4p.