Reform Scotland News: 29 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.


We will be observing the bank holiday on Monday 1st August and will resume as normal on Tuesday.



SNP spending: New figures have reconfirmed that the SNP have a financial lead over Labour. The figures show how party chiefs were able to pour thousands of pounds before the turn of the year on this May’s election campaign.  The Electoral Commissions figures showed that the SNP spent £2.1 million in 2010, which is nearly double the amount that was spent five years ago.  By contrast, Scottish Labour spent £600,000 in total in 2010, £1.5 million less than the SNP. (The Scotsman page 6, The Times page 5)


Hacking scandal: The mother of murdered school girl Sarah Payne has been left “absolutely devastated” by revelations her phone may have been hacked by a private investigator working for News of the World.  Sara Payne has been told by the police that her phone number was found on a list compiled by Glenn Mulcaire, who has been jailed for intercepting phone messages.  The number is thought to be for a handset that was personally given to Ms Payne by former News of the World editor Rebekah Brooks – who has described the allegations as “abhorrent”.  Yesterday it was also announced by Lord Justice Leveson that the first public hearings in his phone hacking inquiry will take place in September.  (The Scotsman page 1, The Herald page 1, P&J page 5, Courier page 1, Guardian page 1-4, FT page 2, The Times page 1,Telegraph page 1, Daily Mail page 6, Daily Express page 2, Daily Mirror page 7, Daily Record page 1, Sun page 2)


Pensions: Tens of thousands of public sector workers in Scotland are to be affected by controversial changes to their pension schemes which could see their contributions double.  The 30,000 Scottish civil servants affected by the UK governments plans to save £1.2 billion next year were yesterday told that how much extra they will be expected to pay in pension contributions from April 2012.  (The Scotsman page 2, The Herald page 9, Guardian page 6, FT page 3, The Times page 25, The Daily Telegraph page 6, Daily Mail page 10, Daily Mirror page 8&9, Daily Record page 6)


Lockerbie: The First Minister has confirmed his intention to publish a confidential report that raises questions over the conviction of the Lockerbie bomber.  Alex Salmond said legislation would be brought forward early in the next Scottish Parliament to allow the Scottish Criminal Case Review Commission (SCCRC) to publish its statement of reasons for referring Ali Mohamed al-Megrahi’s conviction back to the Court of Appeal in Edinburgh.  The appeal was dropped before justice secretary Kenny MacAskill’s decision to release Megrahi on compassionate grounds almost two years ago.  (Scotsman page 5, The Times page 5, Daily Telegraph page 1)



Tourism figures: New figures released today have shown that there has been a dramatic slump in the number of overseas visitors in Scotland last year.  Around 100,000 fewer foreign visitors were persuaded to take a trip to Scotland, a drop of 8% compared to 2009.  However actual income generated by overseas visitors to Scotland rose to £86 million last year – an increase of 5.5%. (The Scotsman page 11)


British Gas: Energy giant British Gas faced fresh anger from customers after new figures showed average household fuel bills had soared more than 100% in recent years.  The firm was accused of “profiting at the expense” of hard-pressed Scots, after it emerged British Gas’s parent company Centrica recorded profits of more than £1.3 billion in the first half of 2011. (The Scotsman page 10, The Herald page 7, Daily Mirror page 6, Daily Record page 4, Sun page 6)



Tayside Police: The Police Complaints Commissioner for Scotland has criticised Tayside Police after carrying out an unauthorised strip search on a woman after the car she was in was pulled over by officers.  The commissioner’s report said the police force should apologise to the woman after the incident and review its guidance on strip searches. (The Scotsman page 17)



Train disruption: Thousands of people using one of Scotland busiest stretches of the Scottish rail network are to suffer a third day’s disruption today – with some being diverted onto a line not used for regular passenger trains for 50 years.  Services west from Edinburgh are not expected to return to normal until tomorrow after a train derailed near Waverly on Wednesday evening.  An official investigation into the cause, which has delayed the line being cleared, is understood to focus on a set of points over which the train had just passed. (Scotsman page 3, The Herald page 3, Courier page 6, Daily Mail page 16, Daily Express page 10)


Rail crossings: Nearly two-thirds of Scotland’s open level crossings would be fitted with barriers because of their high crash risk, government investigators have recommended.  The call from the Department of Transport’s rail accident investigation branch (Raib) followed the deaths of three people at a crossing in Caithness two years ago.  Raib also urged more cameras to be installed at crossings to deter drivers from jumping red lights. (The Scotsman page 19, P&J page 1)


Road ban: Hundreds of Scots drivers are being allowed to stay on the road, despite having more than the maximum twelve penalty points for breaking motoring laws.  One driver in Edinburgh was found to have amassed twenty-six penalty points, which is more than twice the supposed upper limit. Courts can allow drivers to keep their licenses if they can prove they would suffer “exceptional hardship” if it were taken away.  However road safety campaigners were outraged and said that the figures were “staggering” and urged bans for bad drivers. (The Herald page 12, Sun page 10)



Higher education: Research from the Scottish Funding Council (SFC) on participation rates in further and higher education has found that women are still outnumbering men at colleges and universities in Scotland, but the gap is closing. (The Scotsman page 23, The Herald page 4)



Breast cancer: Screening women for breast cancer has little impact on falling death rates from the disease, researchers have claimed.  A study in the British Medical Journal compared countries with similar populations but introduced screenings at different times.  They found that all nations saw similar reductions in deaths from breast cancer, even though some introduced screening programmes up to fifteen years later than others.  However the Scottish Government and campaigners yesterday said that screening still played a vital role in making sure women were diagnosed and treated early. (The Scotsman page 14, The Herald page 1, The Times page 26, The Daily Telegraph page 1)


Obesity drugs: Overweigh Scots are being driven to obesity drugs after being bullied about their size, new research has suggested.  The survey found that one in seven people in Scotland believed they faced discrimination because of their weight.  While half of Scots said they had sought help from their GP or pharmacist to lose weight, campaigners said people need to be given more help to slim down without resorting to drugs. (The Scotsman page 18)