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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...

Motoring news

Rising repair costs and whiplash claims behind insurance rise

February 11 2017

Vehicle insurance premiums hit a record high last quarter, rising by more than five times the rate of inflation in 2016. The Association of British Insurers (ABI) said that tax increases, rising repair costs and increasing costs arising from whiplash injury claims were to blame. According to the ABI’s Motor Premium Tracker - which measures the price consumers actually pay for their cover, rather than quotes - the average price for private comprehensive insurance in Q4 2016 was £462. The highest figure recorded before this was in Q2 of 2012, when the average price was £443. The Q4 figure for 2016 was up 4.9% over Q3, equating to a £22 rise in the average premium. It was also found that the average premium for all of 2016 was 9.3% higher than the average premium for 2015. ABI’s assistant director and head of motor and liability, Rob Cummings, said: “These continue to be tough times for honest motorists. They are bearing the brunt of a cocktail of rising costs associated with increasing whiplash-style claims, rising repair bills and a higher rate of insurance premium tax. “While we support the Government’s further reforms to tackle lower-value whiplash costs, it must not give with one hand and take away with the other. The sudden decision to review the discount rate has the potential to turn a drama into a crisis, with a significant cut throwing fuel on the fire in terms of premiums. “Insurers are open to a proper dialogue on how to reform the system and urge the Lord Chancellor to engage with the industry about setting a rate that is fair for both claimants and customers.” Meanwhile, the RAC has released research that suggests not indicating when turning is our number one annoyance on the roads. Well over half (58%) of the survey’s respondents said failing to indicate was the top inconsiderate behaviour. It was narrowly ahead (56%) of those who thought middle lane hogging was the greatest driving sin.

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

Scottish politics

Kezia Dugdale insists Labour ‘really upbeat’ as campaign enters final days

May 3 2016

Labour's Kezia Dugdale insisted she is "immensely proud" of the campaign her party has fought as the race for Holyrood entered its final 48 hours. The Scottish Labour leader said her party is "really upbeat" and "really focused on the final few days of the campaign". She was speaking as she took her campaign, which has focused on using new tax powers coming to Holyrood to raise additional cash for public services, to a softplay centre in Glasgow. Her visit came as another poll put Labour and the Tories neck-and-neck in the fight to be the official opposition. While the SNP are comfortably ahead and expected to win another majority at the Scottish Parliament on Thursday, Ms Dugdale said First Minister Nicola Sturgeon may regret posing with a copy of The Sun newspaper. https://twitter.com/TheAnfieldChat/status/726710543873114113 The paper has been boycotted by some Liverpool fans for its original coverage of the Hillsborough tragedy, in which 96 football fans lost their lives, and an inquest ruled last week they were unlawfully killed. In the same week the Scottish Sun gave its backing to the SNP, with a front page picture showing Ms Sturgeon holding a copy of the paper. Neil Findlay, a former Scottish Labour leadership candidate, tweeted : "To pose like this in the week of the Hillsborough verdict is breath-taking." Ms Dugdale said: "I think given the response there has been on Twitter, she will be regretting it." Labour argues Scotland would be £3 billion better off under its plans, which would see the basic rate of income tax increased by 1p north of the border, while the top rate, for those earning £150,000 a year or more, would go from 45p to 50p. "We've got a simple, honest message that the Labour Party has a plan to stop the cuts," Ms Dugdale said. "We're prepared to use the powers of the Parliament to raise enough money to increase public spending in Scotland. If we choose not to do this we're going to face £3 billion of cuts to come in Scotland." That could see £336 million more spent in Glasgow, according to Labour, with an additional £276 million for Edinburgh and £137 million for Aberdeen. Ms Dugdale said: "I'm immensely proud of the campaign Labour has run because we are the only party that has actually been talking about ideas about Scotland's future, about how to transform the country with the powers the Parliament has, and we've done that by being bold and honest about tax, and asking the richest people in society to pay a bit more tax. "I'm immensely proud of that and I will continue to make that argument well into the future."

Perth & Kinross

Top QC warns against plan to scrap corroboration

November 11 2013

One of Scotland’s top QCs has warned scrapping corroboration could see the conviction rate for rape fall in Scotland. Brian McConnachie QC claims that scrapping the requirement for corroboration will do a “disservice” to Scots Law. Corroboration means that at least two pieces of evidence are required to prove a crime. Mr McConnachie, chairman of the Faculty of Advocates’ Criminal Bar Association and a former principal advocate depute in the Crown Office, said: “My opposition to the proposal to abolish corroboration comes as much from my experience prosecuting as it does from my experience defending possibly more so. “What corroboration means is that no-one can be convicted on a single source of evidence there must be evidence from two sources. “People are very often confused and indeed encouraged to be confused by the fact that it often thought that corroboration means two eye witnesses to a crime, but that is not what it is about.” Mr McConnachie said in rape and other crimes of a sexual nature, corroboration usually meant a witness who could testify the victim displayed signs of distress after the attack. “The law is not stupid. It has developed over the years to take into account that, broadly speaking, this is the kind of crime that takes place in private,” he said. Mr McConnachie said while removing the need for corroboration may lead to a rise in prosecutions that will not automatically translate into a rise in convictions. “In my opinion, abolishing corroboration is going to be a disservice to victims of sexual abuse, it is going to be a disservice to the law of Scotland as it currently stands, and it is not going to advance the cause of any of the people who speak out in its favour.”

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.

Dundee

Trial date set for Mary McLaren death accused

January 18 2011

The trial of the man accused of murdering Dundee mother Mary McLaren is to take place this spring. Patrick James Rae (40), a prisoner at Perth, denies murdering and raping Mrs McLaren between February 25 and March 10 last year. At a preliminary hearing at the High Court in Edinburgh on Monday, Lord Kinclaven ordered Rae to stand trial on May 3. Six weeks have been set aside for the case at the High Court in Edinburgh, and a further preliminary hearing to ensure all parties were ready for trial was ordered for April 6. Rae denies that at North Marketgait and elsewhere in Dundee, he assaulted Mrs McLaren, then of Rowantree Crescent, by seizing hold of her, forcibly removing her clothing, raping her, repeatedly punching her on the head, repeatedly striking her head and body on the ground and against a wall, or otherwise inflicting violence on her, repeatedly striking her on the neck with a knife or similar instrument, placing a piece of fabric or similar over her throat, seizing her by the throat, compressing, thereby restricting her breathing and murdering her. The indictment Rae is facing also alleges that between February 25 and March 15 at North Marketgait, Dundee, Brechin Road in Arbroath and elsewhere unknown, he concealed the body of Mary McLaren under leaf litter and plant foliage at North Marketgait and, at the same location and elsewhere, removed and disposed of a coat, bagging contents belonging to Mary McLaren. It is also alleged that, at the same location and elsewhere, he disposed of a knife or similar instrument. Rae is also accused of disposing of and washing clothes at Brechin Road, Arbroath, and elsewhere, doing so to avoid arrest, detection and prosecution and thus attempted to defeat the ends of justice. Rae's defence is being conducted by Mark Stewart QC, while the prosecution is being led by advocate depute David Young QC.

Dundee

Mary McLaren murder accused appears at preliminary hearing

April 7 2011

The man accused of raping and murdering Dundee mum Mary McLaren will stand trial early next month. Patrick James Rae (41), a prisoner at Perth, appeared from custody at the high court in Edinburgh at a preliminary hearing. Rae denies murdering and raping Mrs McLaren between February 25 and March 10, 2010. At the hearing defence advocate Mark Stewart QC lodged an updated witness list and a list of productions. Mr Stewart also outlined a number of outstanding issues that he moved could be dealt with on the trial date of Tuesday, May 3. There was no objection from advocate depute David Young QC, who also noted a number of procedural issues still to be resolved on the same date. Lord Tyre, who intimated he would preside over the trial, continued the case to the trial diet, for which six weeks have been set aside. Rae denies that at North Marketgait and elsewhere in Dundee he assaulted Mrs McLaren, of Rowantree Crescent, by seizing hold of her, forcibly removing her clothing, raping her, repeatedly punching her on the head, repeatedly striking her head and body on the ground and against a wall, or otherwise inflicting violence on her, repeatedly striking her on the neck with a knife or similar instrument, placing a piece of fabric or similar over her throat, seizing her by the throat, compressing, restricting her breathing and murdering her. He also denies that between February 25 and March 15, 2010, at North Marketgait, Dundee, Brechin Road in Arbroath and elsewhere unknown, he concealed the body of Mary McLaren under leaf litter and plant foliage at North Marketgait and, at the same location and elsewhere, removed and disposed of a coat, bagging contents belonging to Mary McLaren. It is also alleged that at the same location and elsewhere, he disposed of a knife or similar instrument, disposing of and washing clothes at Brechin Road, Arbroath, and elsewhere, doing so to avoid arrest, detection and prosecution and thus attempted to defeat the ends of justice.

Fife

VIDEO: St Andrews professor Clara Ponsati and lawyer address Catalonia supporters outside court

May 15 2018

St Andrews professor Clara Ponsati returned to court today to continue her fight against extradition to Spain. The ex-minister was greeted by flag-waving Catalonia supporters for the hearing at Edinburgh Sheriff Court. Gordon Jackson QC, for Prof Ponsati, said her solicitors had visited the region to meet legal experts as part of preparation for the court battle, which could cost £500,000. Outside court, her lawyer said Spain’s extradition bids show the country is facing its “greatest crisis since the dark days of General Franco”. The former Catalan minister is fighting extradition to Spain for her part in an unsanctioned independence referendum in the region last October. She is wanted by the Spanish authorities on charges of violent rebellion and misappropriation of public funds. Her legal team say the extradition is being fought on several grounds including the validity of the warrant and Prof Ponsati’s human rights. During the short procedural hearing, lawyers drew battle lines over the definition of corruption in the two legal systems. Under the rules of the European arrest warrant, a suspect can only be extradited if there are equivalent laws in both jurisdictions. After the hearing, Mr Anwar accused Spain of "abusing" the arrest warrant as a “tool of political oppression”. “The courts can never be a solution to political negotiation,” he told Prof Ponsati’s supporters. “Spain today faces its greatest crisis since the dark days of General Franco. “Without the unconditional release of all political prisoners and the withdrawal of the European arrest warrants, there will never be a resolution to this crisis.” A further procedural hearing is due to take place on June 12 and July 15, before the professor’s case is heard in full over two weeks from July 30. Prof Ponsati was head of economics at the university when she became the region’s education minister, just a few months before the referendum. She returned to Scotland in March and resumed working at the University of St Andrews in Fife ahead of the reactivation of the arrest warrant. <script src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/URjbgxmj-xYmBS0Bi.js"></script>

Fife

Fife rape victims face lengthy support wait

May 5 2018

Fife rape victims face the longest waiting times in Scotland for support services. Statistics obtained by Jenny Gilruth, SNP MSP for Mid Fife and Glenrothes, show that victims in Fife have had to wait up to 10 months for counselling and support. In addition, the figures showed Fife had the highest number of people on the waiting list at 83. Speaking at a parliamentary debate on rape crisis centres, Ms Gilruth said: “On Monday the 8th of October, 83 people in Fife were waiting to access a support service, which was the third largest number in the country. “However, the wait time for support does not match up, because rape victims in Fife can expect to wait up to 10 months for support, which is the longest waiting time in Scotland. It is completely unacceptable.” Fife Rape and Sexual Assault Centre (FRASAC) was forced to close its waiting list in December, blaming a 2.5% funding cut from Fife Health and Social Care Partnership. “We are not talking about huge sums of money — 2.5 per cent of FRASAC’s core funds equates to just £977. Rape Crisis Scotland’s research reveals what that cut means for victims of rape who live in Fife, the third largest local authority in the country,” added Ms Gilruth. The waiting list is now back open. However, the service is still calling for more funding to cover core costs. Elsewhere in Scotland, victims in Perth face a wait of up to five and a half months. And 78 people in Dundee and Angus on a waiting list could expect to wait around three months for support. Labour MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife Claire Baker has also raised the challenges facing FRASAC with Angela Constance, the communities, social security and equalities secretary. “In a reply to me she said that ‘Equally Safe — A Delivery Plan for Scotland’s Strategy to Prevent Violence Against Women and Girls’ commits to a review of funding and commissioning," she said. “That review must fully recognise the need to address waiting times, funding pressures and staffing difficulties.” She added: “The Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre Perth and Kinross contacted me yesterday, and between April 2017 and March 2018 its support service saw an 8% increase in demand. “As it becomes increasingly challenging to secure funding, the centre has had to cut a support post, and its waiting times are increasing.”

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