Reform Scotland News: 15 July 2011


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


In addition to the newspaper stories outlined below, further news coverage can be found online at BBC News Scotland, STV News and Sky News.



Local Income Tax: SNP ministers have dropped a legal bid to block publication of an internal Scottish Government memo that set out the multi-million-pound cost of replacing the council tax with a local income tax. Finance Secretary John Swinney announced last night that the challenge – which has cost the taxpayer more than £100,000 – would no longer be pursued, on the grounds that information from the memo had already been leaked. (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 3, Telegraph page 1)


News International: Rupert Murdoch and his son James have bowed to pressure from MPs and agreed to give evidence next week to a Commons committee investigating the phone-hacking scandal. The News Corp tycoon, who has seen the closure of his biggest-selling British paper, the News of the World, and the collapse of his dream of owning all of BSkyB, will appear before the culture and media select committee on Tuesday to answer questions about the scandal that has engulfed his business empire. (Scotsman page 6, Herald page 2, Times page 1, Guardian page 1, Telegraph page 1, FT page 1, Courier page 1, Press and Journal page 9, Daily Mirror page 1, Daily Record page 6)


Rebekah Brooks: Rebekah Brooks, the embattled chief executive of Rupert Murdoch’s News International, has resigned. Her move came only five days before she is due to explain her role in the phone hacking scandal to a committee of MPs in the Commons. The resignation was also five days after the last appearance of the News of the World, the tabloid at the centre of the fast-moving scandal. (Herald, Guardian, Telegraph)


Scottish Lib Dems: The Scottish Lib Dems have been accused of hypocrisy for trying to recruit unpaid interns just weeks after their UK leader Nick Clegg said he wanted to end the practice because it favours the wealthy and the well-connected.  The Scottish Lib Dems have advertised for three unpaid interns on their website for a period of three months.  Mr Clegg aims to end unpaid internships as part of the UK Government’s social mobility strategy and have those taking up the posts being offered a wage or at least having their out-of-pocket expenses paid.(Herald page 10)


Coastguard: Two Scottish coastguard stations escaped closure yesterday after the UK Government announced that it was scaling down plans to reduce the number of emergency co-ordination centres. Transport Secretary Phillip Hammond told the House of Commons that Shetland and Stornoway coastguard stations would continue to provide 24-hour cover. (Times page 7, Press and Journal page 1, Daily Record page 2)



Fuel poverty: Scotland is on course for “crisis levels” of fuel poverty with one in four struggling to pay their bills, it was claimed last night. Nearly one third of all homes north of the Border are now classed as “fuel poor” when the cost of rising bills is set against family incomes, according to a Government report. The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) said in the report, which led to stark warnings from charities, that at the latest date for which figures were available around 750,000 Scottish households lived below the fuel poverty line. (Herald page 1, Guardian page 11, Courier page 12, Press and Journal page 7)





Murder capital of Scotland: South Lanarkshire is now considered the murder capital of Scotland. The area witnessed more killings in 2010/11 than the whole of Lothian and Borders sees in a typical year, and almost five times that of Grampian. The 14 murders in South Lanarkshire’s Q division over 12 months, which included culpable homicides, represented a 366 per cent rise on the previous year. (Scotsman page 9, Daily Express page 5, Daily Record page 19)


Former Lord Advocate Angiolini: Scotland’s advocates have rounded on former Lord Advocate Elish Angiolini with more than four in five opposing her place in the Faculty. It follows an angry letter to the faculty dean by a leading QC warning admission should not be treated as a “meaningless ritual”. In a survey by legal magazine The Firm, 83 per cent voted against her entry into practice as an advocate with Terra Firma Chambers. Dame Elish was admitted into the faculty in 2008, alongside her successor as Lord Advocate, Frank Mulholland, the then Solicitor General. (Scotsman page 16)



Airport security: A major overhaul of airport security procedures that will do away with rules requiring passengers to remove shoes, keys and phones before boarding a plane has been set out by the UK Government. The reforms aim to cut costs and speed up boarding times by removing strict regulations on airports, instead giving them greater freedom to decide which security procedures are appropriate, given the level of risk posed. It comes amid a general push by the Coalition towards removing red tape from Whitehall and specific concerns that airport security procedures have become too dogmatic in the wake of the Lockerbie bombing and 2001 World Trade Centre attacks. (Herald page 6)



Anti-Semitism: A group of Jewish academics has criticised colleagues in a row over the definition of anti-Semitism. Six Scottish academics have spoken out against four other Jewish educators who last week quit the 12,000-member University and College Union after it rejected the European Union Monitoring Centre’s (EUMC) determination. The stance of UCU prompted the four academics, leading members of the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities (Scojec), to announce their resignation from the union. However, yesterday six academics who belong to the Scottish Jews for a Just Peace group condemned their move.

In a letter published in today’s Herald, they wrote: “Rejection of a particular definition is by no means a licence for anti-Semitism.” (Herald page 12)


Oxbridge: Oxbridge is still out of reach for a disproportionate number of Scottish pupils – even if they attend independent schools. Scottish schools are conspicuous by their absence in research from educational charity the Sutton Trust, which ranks the top 100 UK schools by proportion of higher education applicants accepted at Oxbridge over the past three years. The only Scottish school listed is Edinburgh’s Fettes College, ranked 77. Kingussie High, Madras College in St Andrews, Ullapool High, Banchory Academy and Lochgilphead High are the only Scottish schools within the top 100 comprehensives in the UK for pupils reaching Oxbridge. Kingussie, which has had three pupils accepted, and Madras (14) are the only Scottish entries in the top 100 across all state schools, including England’s many selective schools. However, the list of top 100 UK comprehensives for getting into 30 “highly selective” universities is dominated by 49 Scottish schools. St Ninian’s High in Giffnock is ranked sixth, with 66.2 per cent of applicants accepted. The top 20 UK comprehensives also include Douglas Academy in Milngavie, Mearns Castle High in East Renfrewshire, and Glasgow’s Hillhead High, St Ninian’s High and St Thomas Aquinas Secondary. St Luke’s High in East Renfrewshire, which has a free meal entitlement of 21.8 per cent, is 16th. Those seven schools make up Scotland’s representation in the state sector’s top 100, including selective schools. (TESS page 1)