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Daily Political Media Summary: 5 February 2010

All newspaper references refer to Scottish editions. Where there is a link to a newspaper’s website, the relevant page reference is blue and underlined.

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Economy

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Wine Merchant Saved: Sir David Murray has stepped in to save Scotland’s oldest wine merchant, Cockburns of Leith, after it was placed into administration last Friday. (Scotsman page 7, Herald page 5)

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Olympics Contracts: First Minister Alex Salmond yesterday claimed Scottish firms are “missing out” on the lucrative contracts being awarded in preparation for London’s 2012 Olympics. (Scotsman page 17)

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Homecoming: Creditors still trying to recover money from the summer Gathering event have criticised last night’s £6,000 Homecoming celebration as insensitive. Only a few days ago the Gathering’s centrepiece event went into administration. (Scotsman page 24)

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Wind Turbines: A manufacturing boom in off-shore wind turbines is expected to benefit eleven areas across Scotland over the next decade. 8,000 giant turbines, worth £20 billion, are expected to be erected by 2020. (Scotsman page 30, Herald page 4)

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Energy War: Hopes have been raised of a new price war between rival energy firms after Scottish Gas reduced its standard gas prices by an average of 7 per cent. (Herald page 9)

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Crime

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Taser Guns: Strathclyde, Scotland’s biggest police force, is set to be the first in the country to issue Taser guns to officers. The 50-000-volt stun guns will be used across Glasgow and South Lanarkshire by 30 officers as part of a six-month pilot project starting in April. (Scotsman page 13, Herald page 2)

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Transport

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Amphibious Bus: The 500-year old Renfrew ferry may be replaced by an amphibious bus, Stagecoach said yesterday. The Dutch-built vehicle will be tested on Monday; if successful, the “amfibus”, costing £70,000, would be the first to carry commuters in the UK. (Scotsman page 17, Herald page 3)

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Education

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Catchment Controversy: East Renfrewshire Council’s education committee yesterday accepted a legal ruling that found its plans to remove hundreds of homes from the catchment area of top-performing Catholic secondary school St Ninian’s High School was illegal. (Herald page 11)

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HMIE: Graham Donaldson, outgoing head of HM Inspectorate of Education, has mounted a robust defence of his organisation, as one of Scotland’s leading head teachers calls for fundamental changes in the way schools are inspected. In an interview to mark his last day as senior chief inspector of education after almost eight years in charge, he reportedly believes the reforms he began in 2003 have led to a shift in the negative perception inspection previously had. (TESS page 1)

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Health

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Out-Of-Hours Care: The Scottish Conservative Leader, Annabel Goldie, has produced figures showing that 95 per cent of GPs have opted out of the out-of-hours medical care system. Miss Goldie said: “it is clear the ambulance service, already under pressure, is filling the gap”. (Scotsman page 2)

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Sick-Kids: Health chiefs in Edinburgh have stripped a crisis-hit charity of its independence after controversy over the handling of a £15 million fund-raising drive. (Scotsman page 21)

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Politics

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MPs’ Expenses: 364 MPs must repay a total of £1.1 million, Sir Thomas Legg has announced in an eagerly anticipated review of MPs’ expenses. The report damned the “culture of deference” that allowed MPs to claim an average of £11 million a year from 2004-9. The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) is expected today to announce possible criminal charges against MPs and members of the House of Lords. (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 6, Telegraph page 1, Guardian page 1, Courier page 1, Press and Journal page 12, Daily Express page 4, STV)

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Scottish MPs – including Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Scottish Secretary Jim Murphy – have been ordered to repay £103,000 (Scotsman page 6)

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The Labour MP for Livingston, Jim Devine, will today find out if the CPS intends to press criminal charges against him over his expenses. (Herald page 1)

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Bank of England: The BOE has decided against extending its quantitative easing scheme to boost the economy. After finishing its latest round of assistance last week, the bank has pumped £200 billion in new money into the ailing economy. (Scotsman, page 7)

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Lockerbie Bomber: Kenny MacAskill was wrong to visit the Lockerbie bomber in jail before granting him compassionate release, Holyrood’s Justice Committee has said. The meeting at Greenock Prison has been one of the most heavily criticised aspects of the Justice Secretary’s decision. (Scotsman page 9, Herald page 7, Times page 9, Telegraph page 15, Courier page 9, Press and Journal page 1, Daily Mail page 1, BBC, STV)

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Lunch Row:  According to reports, Holyrood authorities are expected to investigate First Minister Alex Salmond and his deputy, Nicola Sturgeon, for auctioning lunches to raise thousands of pounds for the SNP’s general election campaign. Under Parliamentary rules, it is forbidden for parliament facilities to be used for party political purposes. Iain Gray, the Scottish Labour leader, said: “Was it wrong of the First Minister to auction lunch with himself in Holyrood to raise £9,000 for the SNP? Such grubby behaviour demeans the office.” It is thought the successful bidders were two businessmen who attended the event for 200 people from Glasgow’s Asian community. The “cash for access” row caused animosity in Holyrood as the Presiding Officer, Alex Fergusson, switched off Mr Salmond’s microphone during a bitter exchange with Labour MSP Paul Martin. (Scotsman page 12, Herald page 1 & Brian Currie, Times page 9, Telegraph page 1, Alan Cochrane page 15, Courier page 13, Press and Journal page 9, Daily Record page 1, Daily Mail page 2, Daily Express page 5, BBC, STV)

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Public Sector: Andrew Haldenby of Reform comments in the Telegraph on the need for public sector reform, the heartening number of people within the public sector willing to introduce significant efficiencies, and the need for political leaders to play their part. (Telegraph page 24)

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Eco-Friendly Lights: Scotland’s first trial of energy saving lights will be launched tonight in Edinburgh’s Princes Street. (Scotsman page 29)