Reform Scotland News: 25 April 2012

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

Politics
Leveson & Murdoch: 
Yesterday James Murdoch gave evidence to the Leveson Inquiry, which coincided with the release of a 163-page dossier detailing contacts between senior News Corp executive Frederic Michel and Culture Secretary’s Office.  The information appeared to suggest that Jeremy Hunt had backed News Corp’s attempted take-over of BSkyB and his advisers had shared confidential information with the company.  This has led to calls for Jeremy Hunt to resign.  Revelations also suggest that David Cameron discussed the deal with James Murdoch at a Christmas dinner hosted by Rebekah Brooks.   (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 5, Sun page 8, Times page 1, David Brown in the Times, Mail page 1, P&J page 13, Courier page 14, Guardian page 1, Nick Davies in the Guardian, Tom Watson in the Guardian, FT page 1, Telegraph page 1, Benedict Brogan in the Telegraph)

The dossier also suggested that Alex Salmond had offered to lobby Jeremy Hunt on behalf of the Murdochs with one email commenting that the First Minister would so “Whatever we need him to”.  However, the Scottish government has claimed that the comments “represent internal chatter” within News Corp. (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 1, Sun page 8, Record page 1, Times page 1, Mail page 2, Express page 1, P&J page 13, Courier page 1, Guardian page 5, Telegraph page 1)

Third option for referendum: Elections expert Ron Gould has suggested that a third option in the proposed independence referendum would “muddy the waters” for voters. (Scotsman page 11, Express page 2, P&J page 12, Courier page 15, Telegraph page 13)

Catalonia: Michael Keating in the Scotsman examines the drive for independence in Catalonia and whether there is anything Scotland can learn.

Public appointments: Karen Carlton, Scotland’s public appointments commissioner, has indicated that she did not receive enough information from the Scottish government to suggest that individuals appointed to public bodies in Scotland were suitable for the job.  She reportedly wrote a letter to Permanent Secretary Sir Peter Housden complaining civil servants were “wilfully or through ignorance” misrepresenting the work of her office. (Scotsman page 20)

Economy
Fuel tanker drivers:
 The Unite union has been given until 21 May to decide whether to accept a final set of proposals produced by the fuel distribution contractors in an attempt to prevent industrial action. (Scotsman page 6, Sun page 2)

Green energy: Peter Atherton, head of European utility sector research at Citigroup Global Markets, has claimed that an independent Scotland would “probably not” be able to support a large scale renewable energy sector. (Scotsman page 13, Herald page 2, Times page 5)

Wind poll: An opinion poll carried out for the P&J indicates that while 62 per cent of people in the North East want a review of the government’s policies on wind farms, 59 per cent are in favour of wind energy. (P&J page 1)

Unemployed women: Speaking at the STUC conference yesterday, the First Minister announced a summit would be held to look at the problem of unemployment amongst women.  (Scotsman page16, Herald page 7, Sun page 2, Record page 9, P&J page 12)

Credit rating: David Riley, managing director of sovereign and supranational ratings at Fitch Ratings, yesterday told the Treasury Select committee that no newly independent country had achieved a top level triple A credit rating.  The comments led Tory MP Michael Fallon to claim that homeowners and businesses in an independent Scotland would have to pay higher interest levels. (Herald page 2)

Local Government
Glasgow council executive:
A study by the Taxpayers’ Alliance has revealed that 3,000 council employees across the UK were paid six-figure sums 2010-11, a rise of 13 per cent on the previous year.  The highest paid was in Glasgow where Ian Drummond, formerly executive director of special projects who has since left the post, received a £450,628 package. (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 9, Sun page 2, Times page 11, Mail page 21, Express page 15, Telegraph page 14)

Education
University of the Highlands & Islands:
 Capita Consulting has published a report into the management of the University of the Highlands & Islands (UHI) suggesting it faces major problems unless its management structure is changed.  The report indicates that the colleges forming the UHI had a “distrust” in the hierarchy and fear the formation of a University of Inverness. (Scotsman page 18, Herald page 1, P&J page 8)

Curriculum for Excellence: Jim Fletcher, the Labour leader of East Renfrewshire council, has insisted that his council was right to delay the introduction of new exams, forcing Education Secretary Michael Russell to allow all councils to have a similar opt-out. (Scotsman page 22)

Education authorities: Des McNulty in the Scotsman considers whether Scotland should have a fewer number of education authorities.

Health
Skin cancer: The number of Scots with malignant melanoma increased by 60 per cent between 2000 and 2010 according to official figures published yesterday. (Scotsman page 10, Dr Liz Patton in the Scotsman, Herald page 1, Record page 10, Times page 19, Mail page 4, Express page 9, P&J page 16)

 Obese children: The number of children starting primary school in Scotland for the 2010/11 academic year classed as obese or severely obese each rose by 0.1 per cent to 9.6 per cent and 5.5 per cent respectively on the previous year. (Herald page 6, Mail page 11, Express page 4)