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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...

Fife

Fears ‘Scalp Hunter’ had Fife victim prove unfounded

May 29 2013

A Fife woman feared to have fallen victim to a notorious killer dubbed the Scalp Hunter has been traced safe and well. John Patrick Sweeney was convicted in April 2011 of murdering former girlfriends Paula Fields and Melissa Halstead and dumping their body parts in canals. He was jailed for life in 2002 for attempting to murder another ex-girlfriend. An investigation into Sweeney’s possible Fife connection was launched in early February. Murder squad detectives are now satisfied he did not kill the Fife woman, whose identity has never been made public. Officers from the Metropolitan Police’s Homicide and Serious Crime Command launched a media campaign seeking her whereabouts. She was believed to have been Sweeney’s girlfriend in the mid-1980s. Police said then she was possibly called Fiona, and shared a house with Sweeney and others in Hornsey Park Road, north London, in 1985. Police said she may have originally been from Fife, possibly Burntisland, and her father or other family member had links to the prison service in Scotland. The Courier has learned the woman has been traced safe and well in England. While it is understood her name is Fiona and she was an acquaintance of Sweeney, it is understood she was from Central Scotland, not Burntisland, and had no family connection with the prison service. A police source said: ”As a result of the local media carrying an appeal by the Metropolitan Police, the woman, who is called Fiona, has been found safe and well. “She lived in London in the 1980s and never returned to Scotland.” In April 2011 Sweeney, from Liverpool and then aged 54, was told he would die in jail after being given a whole-life sentence at the Old Bailey for murdering former girlfriends Paula Fields and Melissa Halstead. The possibility of a Fife connection emerged from “reasonably fresh information” which the Met had been working on. At the end of January, Met officers travelled to Fife as part of their Operation Sherston probe. Despite fears Sweeney killed other women, they hoped ‘Fiona from Fife’ was still alive.

Music

Gig preview: Andy Irvine in Newport-On-Tay and Montrose

September 30 2016

Born in London in 1942 to an Irish mother and a Glaswegian father, Andy Irvine started out as a child actor, before he was inspired as a teenager by the songs of his great hero Woody Guthrie to move into singing. Playing in the Irish folk tradition of his youth, he corresponded with Guthrie during the final years of his life, and his songs retain a strong commitment to themes of social justice. Moving to Dublin in the 1960s, mandolin player Irvine helped form the Irish folk-rock group Sweeney’s Men, and went on to co-found the highly successful group Planxty. Later works included the album Parallel Lines with Leith’s Dick Gaughan and the group Patrick Street, while more recent work includes 2013’s Irish-Australian folk record Parachilna with Rens van der Zalm and 2015’s live collaborative project Usher’s Island at Glasgow’s Celtic Connections. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QhJIMIcxFb0 The Newport, Newport-On-Tay, October 5; Links Hotel, Montrose, October 6 More info: www.andyirvine.com

Theatre

Review: Sweeney Todd at Dundee Rep

May 24 2010

Artistic director James Brining's latest show is a big, bold, beautiful production in which every element combines to maximum effect. Forget Edinburgh, Glasgow or London's west end here on the banks of the Tay is a production of a musical that is up there among the best. This production of Stephen Sondheim's musical thriller is the latest in a series of ambitious projects undertaken by the Rep in which they have excelled. Sweeney Todd is an enormous undertaking for the Rep, with a cast of 16 and a 10-strong band, but it pays off as at times the power of the piece comes at the audience like a theatrical force-field. Sondheim was inspired by Christopher Bond's play which took the tale of the demon barber from melodrama to something much richer. Sweeney was not just a man with bloodlust but a once-decent victim of injustice. Angela Hardie, one of the departing graduates, is revealed as having a beautiful singing voice as Johanna, Sweeney's lost daughter. It is invidious to single out individuals since all the performers are at the top of their game supported by the band under MD Hilary Brooks, who take on the vagaries of Sondheim's music with brio. Probably best known is The Ballad Of Sweeney Todd, which interweaves the action. Part of the fascination of Sondheim's work is to see how the same song can be used in different ways to underline the change of mood as the action gets blacker and the music gets edgier. Sweeney Todd runs until June 12 get your tickets quickly.

Perth & Kinross

Perth barber backs down in Peaky Blinders trademark row

April 20 2018

A Perth barber who was threatened with legal action after trying to re-brand as the Peaky Blinders says he has given in to demands from TV bosses. Will Robertson had tried to change the name of his South Street barber shop from Sweeney Todd but was threatened with legal action by the makers of the hit BBC show. Chiever Brand Protection, working on behalf of production company Caryn Mandabach, claimed he was trying to "free-ride" on the reputation of the TV show under the English law of 'passing off'. As well as the name-change, Will had ordered 20,000 Peaky Blinders-branded hair gel tubs, which he will now have to repackage. The TV show is based on the Victorian-era gang which terrorised the English West Midlands over two decades in the late 19th century and early 20th century. It has spawned a youth sub-culture who wear flat-caps and high-fade hair-styles similar to central character Tommy Shelby, played by Irish actor Cillian Murphy. Caryn Mandabach claimed trademarking the name for use as a barber shop would "mislead the public" into thinking the shop was associated with the show. Will, who filed his claim in December, has now withdrawn his application amid fears he could lose everything if he pursued the trademark. Will said: "I don't think it is worth it to be honest. "It would have been good to get the name change but it is what it is. They are a big company and it was always going to be difficult. "I have had to remove all the associations to the Peaky Blinders characters. I'll just count my losses. I'll need to re-label the hair gel that I ordered but that shouldn't cost much more than a few hundred pounds. "I guess if I had stuck to my guns we may have come to some sort of an agreement but it is done now." Chiever BV, who filed a trademark claim at the start of March, are awaiting a final decision from the UK Government's Intellectual Property Office.

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.

Scotland

Glasgow bin lorry crash family disagrees with ‘no prosecutions’ decision

August 27 2015

The family of three of the victims of the Glasgow bin lorry crash "profoundly disagree" with the decision not to prosecute any party over the deaths, an inquiry has heard. Relatives of Erin McQuade and her grandparents Jack and Lorraine Sweeney expressed "great concern" over how the tragedy was investigated. Mark Stewart QC raised the issue in his final submission to the fatal accident inquiry into the crash which claimed six lives on December 22 last year. Mr Stewart said the family did not agree that it should have been treated as a road traffic accident and believes there should have been more involvement from the Health and Safety Executive. Concerns were also raised over the fact that driver Harry Clarke was never interviewed by police after the crash. Mr Stewart said the decision reached by the Crown Office in February not to prosecute the driver or Glasgow City Council was "one that the family profoundly disagree with". He added: "It is submitted that the investigation was conducted in remarkable haste." The Crown Office said in February that no charges would be brought against Mr Clarke and the relevant information had been taken into account regarding a decision not to prosecute. The family representative said relatives had found it "difficult to prepare for" the FAI and the speed with which it has been held has "placed them under heightened pressure". The inquiry heard that Erin, 18, and her grandparents had been Christmas shopping and out for lunch on the day of the crash. They were described as a "close family" and the deaths had left relatives "devastated". Ms McQuade was a first-year student at the University of Glasgow where she was studying English literature. She was also said to be a talented artist and had previously volunteered to help sick people visit Lourdes. Mr Sweeney, 68, had previously worked in Canada and was said to have enjoyed gardening, horse racing and family holidays. His wife, 69, had worked in a coffee shop and enjoyed shopping trips. Mr Stewart told the inquiry that they cared for their grandchildren, including Ms McQuade's three young siblings, and were close to their two daughters and their husbands. At the end of his submission, Mr Stewart said: "it is submitted that the families who have attended court have done so with remarkable strength of character, grace and dignity." Sheriff John Beckett said; "I would agree with that." Ms McQuade and Mr and Mrs Sweeney, from Dumbarton, West Dunbartonshire, Stephenie Tait, 29, and Jacqueline Morton, 51, both from Glasgow, and Gillian Ewing, 52, from Edinburgh, were killed as the lorry driven by Mr Clarke veered out of control during a routine rubbish collection.

Scotland

Glasgow bin lorry crash inquiry hears of driver blackout ‘disparity’

August 4 2015

The inquiry into the Glasgow bin lorry crash which claimed the lives of six people has heard there was a "clear disparity" between two accounts of a brief blackout suffered by the driver in 2010. Glasgow Sheriff Court heard Harry Clarke told his GP the episode on April 7 five years ago happened in a work canteen. But a letter from his then employer stated that the loss of consciousness took place on a stationary bus, the inquiry heard. Mr Clarke, 58, was driving the council truck in Glasgow city centre on December 22 last year when he appeared to lose consciousness at the wheel and the lorry veered out of control. A fatal accident inquiry (FAI) into the tragedy has heard he suffered from previous blackouts and dizziness dating back to the 1970s, but failed to notify the local authority when he applied for his post with them. The FAI, now in its 10th day, has been hearing from Baillieston-based Dr Gerald McKaig, 50, who was Mr Clarke's GP in 2010. The inquiry has heard how his medical notes for the driver recorded he had a "five-second loss of consciousness" on April 7 2010. It happened at work in the "hot environment" of the canteen, the notes recorded. They added that there had been no warning signs of the incident, that Mr Clarke had felt "slightly disorientated" during the episode and that paramedics attended. Dr McKaig, who said he had no clear recollection of the appointment, said his view at the time was that the incident was a "simple faint" and did not need to be reported to DVLA. But the inquiry was also told of a letter dated April 8 2010 from Mr Clarke's then employer, FirstBus, to another GP at the same medical practice. It stated that the driver had had "an episode of loss of or impaired consciousness while on a stationary bus" the previous day. The letter sought advice and said: "I understand he has been advised he does not need to inform the DVLA of the incident." Dr McKaig confirmed the information in the letter appeared to be different to the account he had received in relation to the location of the incident. "There is a clear disparity between the descriptions," the GP told the inquiry. Questioned by Solicitor General Lesley Thomson QC, leading the inquiry, Dr McKaig confirmed the information in his notes would have come from one source, Mr Clarke. Ms Thomson asked whether there was any room for the GP having got his notes wrong. "No, not at all," he replied. Erin McQuade, 18, and her grandparents Jack Sweeney, 68, and Lorraine Sweeney, 69, from Dumbarton, West Dunbartonshire, died from multiple injuries after being hit by the truck. Stephenie Tait, 29, and Jacqueline Morton, 51, both from Glasgow, and Gillian Ewing, 52, from Edinburgh, were also killed as the lorry travelled out of control along Queen Street and towards George Square before crashing in to the side of the Millennium Hotel. The Crown Office ordered an FAI into the crash after prosecutors ruled there was no evidence to warrant criminal proceedings.

Scotland

Glasgow bin lorry crash inquiry hears of ‘significant shortcomings’ in recruitment procedures

August 3 2015

An inquiry in to a bin lorry crash which claimed the lives of six people has heard claims there were "significant shortcomings" in the council's recruitment procedures at the time the driver got his first job at the authority. Harry Clarke, 58, was driving the council truck in Glasgow city centre on December 22 last year when it went out of control, with witnesses reporting that he appeared to lose consciousness at the wheel. A fatal accident inquiry looking in to the tragedy has already heard that Mr Clarke had a history of health issues including fainting, dizziness and stress dating back to the 1970s. And it has been told that he did not disclose his medical history when completing a health questionnaire as part of his job application to be a school bus driver for Glasgow City Council in 2010. Dorothy Bain QC, representing the family of one of the crash victims, questioned Geraldine Ham, a human resources manager at the council, as the inquiry entered its third week. Talking the witness through various employment documents, the lawyer put it to her: "At the stage that Mr Clarke was employed by the council to transport children with special needs, we can see significant shortcomings in the council process for recruitment." Ms Ham said the local authority tried to ensure that the necessary employment processes were in place. Ms Bain said the inquiry has seen that where Mr Clarke "doesn't tell the council the truth, the recruitment process was not adequate in order to prevent his employment". The witness agreed. The QC went on: "For that reason you would agree, I presume, that the recruitment process wasn't adequate?" Ms Ham responded: "There's room for improvement, yes." She also agreed that Mr Clarke would not have been given the job if the council had received full disclosure of his medical history. Erin McQuade, 18, and her grandparents Jack Sweeney, 68, and Lorraine Sweeney, 69, from Dumbarton, West Dunbartonshire, died from multiple injuries after being hit by the truck. Stephenie Tait, 29, and Jacqueline Morton, 51, both from Glasgow, and Gillian Ewing, 52, from Edinburgh, were also killed as the lorry travelled out of control along Queen Street and towards George Square before crashing in to the side of the Millennium Hotel. The Crown Office ordered a fatal accident inquiry (FAI) into the crash after prosecutors ruled there was no evidence to warrant criminal proceedings.

Scotland

July date for Glasgow bin lorry crash inquiry

June 18 2015

An inquiry into a bin lorry crash which killed six people will begin next month despite a request from the lawyer of one of the bereaved families to delay it. The fatal accident inquiry (FAI), which will start on July 22, will examine the tragedy which happened in Glasgow city centre days before Christmas last year. Erin McQuade, 18, her grandparents Jack Sweeney, 68, and his 69-year-old wife Lorraine, all from Dumbarton, West Dunbartonshire, died when the truck lost control in Queen Street on December 22. Stephenie Tait, 29, and Jacqueline Morton, 51, both from Glasgow, and Gillian Ewing, 52, from Edinburgh, were also killed when the vehicle mounted the pavement before crashing into the side of the Millennium Hotel in George Square. At a hearing at Glasgow Sheriff Court today, Mark Stewart QC, representing relatives of Mr and Mrs Sweeney and Ms McQuade, asked for the inquiry to be adjourned for three months to give him more time to prepare. He told the court that he only became involved on June 10 after legal aid was granted, which he said gives him a very short time to come to terms with a vast amount of paperwork. He said: "There are voluminous papers which themselves contain a vast amount of factual data and complex technical data, and time is required to get through this." At the last court hearing on May 18, representatives for the family told the court of difficulties in the process of accessing full legal aid. Mr Stewart also said the fact the inquiry is due to take place during the school holidays will present problems for some of the family who have children to look after. John Beckett QC, who will hear the FAI, said that while understanding the family's position, he took into account the views of the other families and parties represented, whose view was either neutral or that the inquiry should proceed on July 22, the date which was originally set down for the inquiry in March. He added: "This inquiry proceeds in the public interest and it's generally thought to be in the public interest that any lessons learned from the FAI are learned and disseminated as quickly as possible. "Having considered all of the interests involved and the public interest, I consider that the inquiry should proceed on July 22." Sheriff Beckett has replaced Sheriff Principal Craig Scott, who withdrew from overseeing the inquiry after realising he knew one of the victims. The inquiry will focus on the driver's medical background, his fitness to hold a licence and his employment record and training. It will examine whether anything could have been done to bring the lorry to a controlled stop and explore the route it took, as well as considering technical aspects of the vehicle itself. Scotland's second most senior law officer, Solicitor General Lesley Thomson QC, who will lead the inquiry, said she intends to start the inquiry with visual evidence such as various DVDs. Paul Reid, representing Harry Clarke, the driver of the lorry, said his client will co-operate fully in the inquiry and answer all questions on the understanding that he will not be prosecuted over the incident. Ms Thomson reiterated the statement issued by the Crown Office in February when it said Mr Clarke would not be prosecuted. She said: "The Crown made a public statement on February 25 that the driver will not be prosecuted in respect of this tragic incident. "Despite its catastrophic consequences, there is no evidence to suggest that the driver's conduct at the time amounted to a breach of the criminal law." Ms Thomson said she expects the FAI to take about three weeks; however, other lawyers gave different estimates, saying it could last five or six weeks. As well as the families, other parties represented at the inquiry include the DVLA, Glasgow City Council, the two passengers in the bin lorry and various doctors.

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