2005-01-31

Stats: Elderly Population Continues to Suffer

'Age Concern Scotland's' new 'Factcard' provides information on the country's elderly population. It said too many pensioners were living in poverty, despite the benefits of free personal care, free central heating and free bus travel. The figures were compiled by various independent and government groups. The 'Factcard' states that local authority-supported care home residents in Scotland receive 18.10_GBP/week as a 'personal expenses allowance'. This is meant to pay for basic items such as toiletries, clothes, hairdressing, telephone calls, newspapers and holidays. The 'Factcard' also states that in 2003, over a million (1_084_216) of Scotland's five million (5_057_400) population were aged over 60. By 2011, 1_187_040 people will be over 60, and by 2031, the figure is predicted to be over one-and-a-half million (1_513_854). The 'Factcard' also reveals:
  • Nearly three-quarters of single pensioner households in Scotland live on less than 200_GBP/week
  • 50 per cent of people aged 70 or over have a limiting illness, 'health problem' or 'disability'
  • 1_515 pensioners were reported as 'homeless' in 2002-2003
  • 48 per cent of men and 57 per cent of women aged between 50 and 69 are 'unemployed'.
'Age Concern Scotland's' Ms.Jess Barrow said the factcard revealed 'very telling' statistics about elderly people. She said:
'Although people are benefiting from free personal care, free central heating and free local bus travel, there are still too many older people living in poverty and poor housing. 'Scotland still has "a long way to go" to ensure that everyone enjoys a decent old age'.
Ms.Sandra White MSP, convener of the cross-party group on age and ageing, said the 'Factcard' was 'a breath of fresh air' from the usual facts and figures politicians received. She said:
'It's a handy "pocket-sized" booklet with "easy to obtain" facts and figures, easy to carry and to locate appropriate information'.
Mr.Donald Gorrie MSP said:
'This year's "Factcard" is both exceptionally useful and at the same time worrying. 'It's a valuable tool for politicians and campaigners alike, but "the stark reality" of its "facts and figures" reveal just how much more we have to do for pensioners in Scotland'.
'Factcard offers elderly insight', BBC NEWS, 2005/01/31 01:31:43 GMT

Stats & Intolerance: Police Crackdown on A77 Speeding

Police are launching a crackdown aimed at 'putting the brakes' on speeding drivers on one of Scotland's worst 'accident blackspots'. Two extra police cars and more speed cameras are being introduced on the A77, which links Glasgow and Ayr. Speed cameras on the road are catching an average of 1_800 drivers/month. 11 people died in 8 crashes on the A77 in the past year.
Motorists are ignoring speed limits imposed because of the 152_million_GBP M77 Glasgow Southern Orbital construction project, which is due to be completed in 2005-04. The construction project will extend the M77 from Newton Mearns to Fenwick. It will also provide a new dual carriageway to East Kilbride, by-passing the conservation village of Eaglesham.
Inspector Mr.Gordon Fulton, of Strathclyde Police, said:
'Throughout the term of the project, "safety" on the current A77 has been "paramount", not only to the members of the public using the road but also to the workforce building the road. 'There is now "no hiding place on the A77". The message is clear: if you fail to observe the speed limit you will be caught. 'The number of people killed or injured on the A77 continues to give us 'great cause for concern' and the number of speeding motorists has continued to rise. 'In general, the vast majority of the Ayrshire motoring public has obeyed the speed reduction. 'However, there have always been a considerable number of inconsiderate motorists who have flouted the law and have been prepared to take a chance. 'The A77 has some of the worst driving behaviour in Scotland'.
Mr.Neil Macgillivray, of 'The Strathclyde Safety Camera Partnership', added:
'Whilst the roadworks on the A77 are "on-going", there are construction workers and vehicles in the area at "all times of day and night", also narrowed lanes, re-directions and temporary road surfaces. '"Excessive" speed is seen to be a "serious problem on this road" and where special hazards occur it is necessary to "take measures" to ensure that speeds are brought down accordingly'.
Last summer, police issued a warning to motorists after a single speed camera caught 100 speeders a day during a three-week crackdown on the A77. More than 2_100 people were 'clocked' at the junction with Galston Road over three weeks. One driver was caught travelling at 158_km/hr (98_mph), while another was doing 148_km/hr (92_mph) in a temporary 65_km/hr (40_mph) zone. 'A77 speed net extended by police', BBC NEWS, 2005/01/31 10:20:26 GMT Previously on This Blog... Stats: Road Casualties and Speeding Fines Rise 2004-12 Money: New Fines to Relate to Income 2005-01

2005-01-30

Thrills Continue on Glasgow Tower

Fire crews had to free 10 people trapped in a lift at 'The Glasgow Science Tower' for five hours. It became stuck almost midway up the 105-metre rotating tower at around 15:30 UCT on 2005-01-29, Sa. It is believed the incident was caused when one of the lift cables snapped, triggering the emergency brake. Fire crews cut panels in the tower and led the six adults and four children across a ladder to safety at 20:40 UCT. None of them had been injured. A Strathclyde police spokesman said a member of staff was among those trapped in the incident. A Strathclyde Fire Brigade spokesman said:
'The only option we had to access the people was to cut through some panels in the tower. 'Crews then lead them to safety on an emergency bridge leading to an internal stairwell which they were then able to step down'.
An investigation will be launched, 'Glasgow Science Centre' said. The tower has been plagued with problems. It was closed in 2002-02 after it sank because of two ball-bearings in the base. The tower was shut down again for maintenance after re-opening in 2004-09. 'Group trapped in tower lift freed ', BBC NEWS, 2005/01/30 00:20:09 GMT Previously on This Blog: The Sinking Tower of Glasgow 2002-03-04 Debt & Blame 2002-11-23 Closed again 2004-09-08 Ready to Re-open 2004-09-23

2005-01-28

Intolerance: City Prostitution Zones Proposals

Liverpool City is to apply to 'The Home Office' for permission to set up the UK's first official prostitution tolerance zone -- but how do other areas deal with the issue? ABERDEEN Since 2000 police in Aberdeen have been operating a 'management zone' for prostitution. The city's estimated 130 prostitutes are allowed to solicit within the zone, an area a quarter of a mile square which adjoins the harbour, but no sexual activity is allowed to take place there. The area is mainly industrial, so clashes with residents have not arisen, says Detective Chief Inspector Mr.Eric Leslie, crime manager for the Aberdeen division of Grampian Police. The prostitutes are only allowed to work in the zone during the evening and night time hours so the activities of local businesses are not affected, he adds.
'I wouldn't say the businesses haven't objected, but they have co-operated with us; obviously they have concerns surrounding health and safety issues'.
DONCASTER Doncaster City is keen to set up a tolerance zone. Consultations have taken place with residents' groups, some of which back the plan in the hope that a zone in an industrial area could stop prostitutes working near to homes and schools. The Mayor Mr.Martin Winter believes a tolerance zone would improve the quality of life for many Doncaster residents.
Martin Winter 'In one area of Doncaster, street prostitution is destroying the lives of local residents and we will not tolerate it', The Mayor says. 'Liverpool, like Doncaster, is a "forward thinking" council who we have worked closely with to share ideas on tackling prostitution.
'We are both looking to pilot a managed zone and we await the outcome of "The Home Office" consultation with interest'.
Other initiatives in Doncaster to tackle prostitution include the partly council-funded 'Streetreach project' which aims to help 'sex workers' find ways of getting out of prostitution. EDINBURGH Edinburgh had one of the UK's oldest unofficial tolerance zones -- until it was scrapped in 2001. The zone was set up in 1980s in the Leith area of the city. However, redevelopment led to the area becoming more residential and complaints about the prostitutes increased. The zone was moved to a nearby industrial area but met local opposition there as well. Since abolition of the zone attacks on 'sex workers' have shot up, according to 'The Scottish Prostitutes Education Project' (ScotPep).
Ruth Morgan-Thomas 'Violence went up from 11 attacks in 2001 to 111 in 2003 -- a ten-fold increase', says Ms.Ruth Morgan-Thomas of ScotPep.
Ms.Morgan-Thomas says the zone helped protect women by allowing them to work in groups in an area regularly patrolled by police. But all that changed with the abolition of the zone which forced women back into residential areas, she adds.
'In order to avoid both police and resident attention women worked on their own. 'That meant "clients" who had a tendency to be violent or take advantage of the women knew there was nobody there looking out for them'.
MANCHESTER In 2004, Manchester City brought an 'anti-social behaviour order' (ASBO) against local prostitute Ms.Joette Lydiate banning her from working on every street in England & Wales. It said she must not 'solicit or loiter for the purpose of prostitution in any place to which the public has access'. The order -- the first of its kind -- was thought to be the most geographically extensive ASBO of its type. However, Mr.Dave Hulme of Manchester City said Ms.Lydiate's was an 'isolated case' and the ASBO was aimed more at preventing her disruptive behaviour than her activities as a prostitute.
'City council policy is actually to divert prostitutes into better lifestyles once they're involved in the court system', Mr.Hulme said.
STOKE-ON-TRENT In spite of a much publicised drive by the town's Mayor Mr.Mike Wolfe, to create a tolerance zone the idea stalled in Stoke-on-Trent. A tolerance zone to control the activities of the town's estimated 100 prostitutes was one of the items on The Mayor's manifesto.
Mike Wolfe 'That would make it clear to anyone, women or men, who want to use prostitutes that it is not acceptable to indulge in prostitution within the residential streets of our city', The Mayor said.
However, the plan did not get as far as being put to residents for consultation.
'It was in The Mayor's manifesto but the idea was dropped following talks with police', a council spokesman said.
'Tackling prostitution around the UK', Cindi John,BBC NEWS, 2005/01/27 15:30:59 GMT

Health: New Sex Strategy

Young people should be informed about 'sexual health' services and have access to them, according to 'The Scottish Executive's' new strategy. 'The Action Plan' for 'Improving Sexual Health', unveiled on Thursday 2005-01-27, stresses the need for respect and taking responsibility for 'sexual health'. The issue of sex education, particularly in 'Roman Christian' schools, has already provoked controversy. The strategy is aimed at tackling high rates of 'STDs' and 'unwanted' pregnancy.
ACTION PLAN FOR IMPROVING SEXUAL HEALTH
  • A balance between government action and the individual's responsibility for their own health and the safety of others;
  • A focus on respect and responsibility as the cornerstones of mature and loving relationships;
  • Redesigned 'sexual health' services to ensure improved access in all areas of the country;
  • 15_million_GBP additional funding over three years;
  • National leadership through the creation of a 'National Sexual Health Advisory Committee';
  • Strategic leaders for 'sexual health' in NHS Boards and Local Authorities;
  • Continued education to raise awareness of the issues relating to good 'sexual health'.
Health Minister Mr.Andy Kerr said 'real change' could be 'delivered'. He said:
Andy Kerr 'We respect the right of faith groups and others to hold on to and promote their religious, moral and spiritual values.
'But in return we also expect respect for the rights of young people to have knowledge of, and access to, 'sexual health' services so that they can make informed choices'.
The policy aims to tackle the causes behind the incidence of 'sexually transmitted' infections across all age groups and unintended 'teenage' pregnancies. Other factors covered by the strategy are overcoming 'embarrassment', the 'quality of relationships' and 'abstinence' or delayed sexual 'activity'. The minister also stressed that 'The morning-after pill' would not be available in schools. All schools -- including 'Roman Christian' schools -- will be expected to follow national guidelines, but head teachers will have the final say. Ministers are to spend an extra 15_million_GBP over three years on the strategy. Scotland has one of the highest rates of teenage pregnancy in Europe, while infections such as 'gonorrhoea' and 'chlamydia' have been on the rise in recent years, with the latter increasing by 39 per cent between 1999 and 2002. The reforms were first suggested by an expert group 14 months ago, but 'The Scottish Executive', mindful of likely controversies, has been careful not to rush the issue. Reacting to the 'sexual health' strategy, the 'Roman Christian Church's' Cardinal Mr.Keith O'Brien welcomed the emphasis on 'marriage' and 'abstinence'. He said he recognised that current approaches to 'sexual health' had failed, but said there were areas of the strategy which could not be reconciled with the church. The Cardinal said:
Keith O'Brien 'Among them is the continued support for the distribution of "The morning-after pill" to schoolchildren without parental consent through pharmacists, general practitioners and clinics. 'I hope such areas of disagreement will be the subject of debate and discussion by the new National Advisory Committee announced today and I underline the willingness of the church to participate in its work'.
Education Minister Mr.Peter Peacock said:
Peter Peacock 'The strategy published today does nothing to change national policy on sex and relationships education. 'It simply reinforces the principles on which the guidelines are based, and reiterates the need to involve parents, carers and the wider community in the development and revision of sex and relationships education programmes'.
'The Scottish Green Party' said that 'The Scottish Executive' must guard against 'postcode lottery'. Scottish Green MSP Mr.Patrick Harvie said:
Patrick Harvie 'If young people's access to services and education is dependent on where they live, or which school they go to, the strategy will have failed an important test. 'It must be a strategy for all of Scotland'.
'The Scottish Conservative & Unionist Party' health spokesman Mr.David Davidson said blanket measures for 'sex education' were not the answer. He said:
David Davidson 'We cannot have a simple uniform approach to this... 'Schools and parents should be trusted to teach their pupils and children as they see fit, and the emphasis in this case must be on teaching what is in their best interests'.
'The Scottish National Party' welcomed the strategy but questioned the level of investment. Their health spokesman Ms.Shona Robison said:
Shona Robison 'With only 5_million_GBP/year pledged to support the strategy, we need to ensure that this cash is sufficient to do the job. 'In comparison, John Reid has budgeted 300_million_GBP for a similar programme in England & Wales'.
In addition, 'The Scottish NHS Confederation' appealed for 'full, unequivocal backing' for NHS boards in implementing the policy. Confederation director Ms.Hilary Robertson said:
'"Sexual health" is often an unpopular destination for NHS resources -- in the eyes of the public, the media and some 'interest' groups. 'Local NHS systems must therefore be confident that they will receive the full backing of "The Scottish Executive" for funding decisions designed to implement the action points set out in the strategy published today'.
'The British Association for Sexual Health and HIV' (BASHH) welcomed the move as 'fantastic milestone' for 'sexual health' in Scotland. 'Respect at centre of sex strategy' BBC NEWS, 2005/01/27 17:25:56 GMT

Intolerance: Calls to Regulate Plastic Surgery

Regulation of the private 'cosmetic' surgery industry is to be tightened to offer more protection to patients. Liam Donaldson England's Chief Medical Officer Mr.Liam Donaldson has called for better medical training, more information for patients and a reform of regulation. 'Cosmetic' surgery is on the rise as surgery has become more affordable. But two reports, commissioned by Sir Liam, warned a more robust system is needed to protect patients, especially with procedures such as 'botox'. 'The Healthcare Commission' -- which inspects NHS and independent healthcare provision -- published a report saying some parts of the private industry remain largely unregulated.
It said there needed to be greater scrutiny of non-surgical procedures such as injectible fillers and 'Botox' treatment, and it also called for specialist training in cosmetic surgery to become mandatory.
The second report by an expert group set up by England's Chief Medical Officer to look at the industry found, while there was no firm evidence patients were being harmed, the growth of new and different procedures of all types required better regulation. At the moment, all surgeons have to be registered with 'The General Medical Council' (GMC) and adhere to 'The Care Standards Act (England) 2000'. But some private clinics are thought to be operating without being registered or regulated. Regulation There is also little regulation of non-surgical procedures. In response to the reports, England's Chief Medical Officer said specialist training programmes need to be put in place by the surgical training bodies, and detailed information about which practitioners and procedures are accredited. He also announced non-surgical procedures will be brought under the regulatory 'remit' of 'The Healthcare Commission', bringing it 'into line with surgery'. The commission will be able to take legal action against providers who do not register with them and stick to their rules.

Top Procedures for women in 2004

Breast 'augmentation': 3_731 done
Breast 'reduction'/'mastopexy':2_417 done
'Blepharoplasty': 1_993 done
Face/neck'lift': 1_511 done
'Abdominoplasty': 1_465 done.
England's Chief Medical Officer said many people were spending their 'hard-earned money' on 'cosmetic' surgery.
'Some are disappointed with the outcome but a minority can suffer serious harm or disfigurement. 'Standards in the cosmetic treatment field must be as high as other areas of health care. 'People have to be confident that their treatment will be safe, that the medical practitioners who treat them are qualified and competent, and that they have the information they need to make informed decisions'.
Mr.Adam Searle, president of 'The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons', (BAAPS) said there was a 'desperate need for regulation'.
'Surgeons who have been working in the industry are appalled by what has been going on. 'It is breathtaking. 'Some, and only some, are operating without being regulated. We need a system that patients can feel confident about'.

Top procedures for men in 2004

'Rhinoplasty': 362 done
'Otoplasty': 295 done
'Blepharoplasty':280 done
'Liposuction': 130 done
Face/neck 'lift': 093 done.
BAAPS recorded 16_367 cosmetic procedures in 2004 -- up from a total of 10_738 in 2003. 9 out of 10 were carried out on women, with 'breast operations' accounting for a third of the total. 'Nose' surgery was the most popular procedure among men. Mr.Simon Gillespie, head of operations at 'The Healthcare Commission', said:
'The safety and quality of cosmetic and aesthetic procedures in England needs to be kept under regular review, not least to understand and respond to new developments'.
In addition, Mr.Harry Cayton, the government's 'patients tzar', who was on the expert group, added he hoped patients would be able to make 'informed choices' and feel confident the industry was 'well regulated'. 'Shake-up for cosmetic op industry', BBC NEWS, 2005/01/28 10:48:29 GMT

Stats & Money: UK Housing Market slips to 3rd Place

Britain has been 'knocked off its top spot' in the European house price inflation table as France takes its place. Overall, Continental Europe saw a housing market 'surge' over 2004. France, Ireland and Spain saw double digit house price inflation throughout 2004. The UK is the only country in the study to see its new mortgage market falter, after interest rate rises in the middle of 2004. The German housing market remains flat, although there are signs of it reviving at the end of 2004. France topped Europe's house price inflation table, followed by Spain, which slipped into second place, and then the UK and Ireland, according to 'The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors'' 'European Housing Market Review'. The Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany and Austria occupy the bottom of the table, with Greece in bottom place. The UK's six-month market slowdown is likely to lower Britain's house price inflation rate even further, said the report, after five interest rate rises since 2003-11. According to RICS' economist, Mr.Milan Khatri,
'Low interest rates have been the principal driver of rising house prices in many countries, despite some quite moderate economic performances.
'Any sustained increase in interest rates takes "the steam out" of markets, as seen in the UK over the last year'.
Author of the report, Mr.Michael Ball added,
'The future of Europe's housing markets is closely linked to interest rates.
'Some countries have clearly unsustainable house price growth rates, while others are still weak'.
'Britain knocked off housing top spot', Yahoo! Business News, 2005-01-28,10:45, Fr

Intolerance: Cartoon Character is "Not Homosexual"

Spongebob Squarepants 'SpongeBob SquarePants', the wacky cartoon character who sparked a 'GAY' alert warning by U.S. American 'Christian' conservative groups, is neither 'GAY' nor 'straight'. Patrick Starfish At least two 'Christian activist groups' said the innocent and hugely popular cartoon character 'SpongeBob' and his best mate 'Patrick Starfish' are being exploited to promote the acceptance of 'homosexuality'. Stephen Hillenburg 'SpongeBob's' creator, Mr.Stephen Hillenburg, 43, said the allegations are 'far-fetched' and his agenda does not go beyond fun and entertainment.
'It doesn't have anything to do with what we're trying to do', Mr.Hillenburg said on Friday, 2005-01-28-- two days before the Asian premiere of the 'SpongeBob SquarePants' movie in Singapore. 'We never intended them to be 'GAY'. I consider them to be almost 'asexual'; We're just trying to be funny and this has got nothing to do with the show'.
Na�ve 'SpongeBob', who lives in a pineapple under the Pacific Ocean, was 'outed' by the U.S. American media in 2002 after reports that the 'Nickelodeon TV' show and its merchandise were popular with 'GAYs'. James Dobson Influential U.S. American author and 'radio evangelist' Mr.James Dobson, among whose top political issues are opposition to 'same-sex' marriage and 'abortion rights', said last week that 'SpongeBob' had been included in a 'pro-homosexual video'.
'Their inclusion of the reference to 'sexual identity' within their 'tolerance pledge' is not only unnecessary but it crosses a moral line', said Mr.Dobson, founder of 'Focus on the Family'.
'SpongeBob' is one of the 'stars' of a music video due to be sent to 61_000 U.S. American schools in 2005-03. The makers -- the non-profit 'We Are Family Foundation' -- say the video is designed to 'encourage tolerance and diversity'. Mr.Hillenburg, a marine-science-teacher-turned-animator who lives in Hollywood and is married with a 6-year-old son, says he thinks there are 'more important issues to worry about'.
'I really don't pay much attention to this'.
Such allegations were common in the history of cartoon and children's entertainment, he said.
'Just think of "Laurel and Hardy" or "Ernie and Bert"', he said, referring to two popular American comic icons -- the former from the 1930s and latter from the U.S. American television series 'Sesame Street'.
In 1999, Britain's 'Teletubbies' were cast into sexual controversy by a U.S. American religious 'leader' who warned parents to be alert to subtle messages from 'Tinky Winky', one of the four androgynous characters, singled out for his purple colour and a triangular antenna on his head, both apparently symbolising 'GAY Pride'. Tinky Winky 'Nickelodeon', part of global media firm 'Viacom Inc.', has made 60 episodes since 'SpongeBob's' birth in 1996, and is working on another 20. It says the series is a big hit in Indonesia and has been translated into Hindi, Korean and Japanese. Mr.Hillenburg, who produced and directed his first 'SpongeBob' movie, has employed stars such as Mr.Alec. Baldwin and Ms.Scarlett Johansson to voice some of the characters while 'Baywatch' TV personality Mr.David Hasselhoff has made a non-cartoon appearance. 'Lay off SpongeBob says creator', Jan Dahinten, Reuters via Yahoo! News, 2005-01-28 09:16, Fr.

The FIRST Glasgow World Film Festival

The line-up for the FIRST 'Glasgow World Film Festival' was unveiled yesterday, with 74 films from 20 countries to be shown at cinemas across the city. Among the highlights are Mr.Woody Allen's latest film, 'Melinda and Melinda', and critically acclaimed titles such as 'Spanglish', 'The Machinist' and 'The Woodsman'. The festival runs from 2005-02-10 to 2005-02-17. Mr.Nick Varley, the festival's director, said the aim was to fill what he claimed was a gap in Glasgow's cultural calendar:
'You have a city that still has the highest cinema attendance per population outside of London', he said. 'You have cinemas that work together throughout the year to provide a vast range of films -- and you have the fact that Glasgow is a major city and doesn't have its own festival, and that is a bit of an oddity'.
He also defended the event against claims that it was in any way a challenge to the International Film Festival in Edinburgh, stating that the capital's festival organisers had given their support to it.
'Scotland and the UK as a whole has a major film festival in Edinburgh's', he added. 'But in setting this up, we didn't want to be seen to set up something that was rivalling Edinburgh or in competition to it. 'It would be foolish to suggest that we could even do it. 'We're trying to celebrate Glasgow's passion for the movie, with the hope that we can attract people from other parts of the UK'.
Though the festival organisers have striven to present examples of world cinema, the Glasgow public were given the opportunity to influence the programme by voting for their favourite films of all time. As a result, 'Gone With the Wind', 'The Magnificent Seven', 'King Kong' and 'Schindler's List' will all receive showings during the festival. 'Best of world cinema to 'fill gap' in Glasgow's cultural calendar', Craig Brown, The Scotsman, 2005-01-28, Fr

Stats: BBC Radio Audience Increasing

Veteran broadcaster Mr.Terry Wogan has set a new record by pulling in more than eight million listeners to his BBC Radio Two breakfast show. The 66-year-old's 'Wake Up With Wogan' programme is now firmly established as the nation's favourite breakfast show after his audience grew by 410_000 in the last three months to pass the 8_million mark for the first time. BBC Radio One's Mr.Chris Moyles was left trailing with 6.29_million listeners, according to figures released yesterday by industry body RAJAR. On hearing the news, Mr.Wogan joked:
Terry Wogan 'Hang on, there's 60_million people in the country -- what are the other 52_million listening to?'
The Irishman was not the only BBC Radio Two DJ to achieve a record audience; Mr.Ken Bruce now has 6.55_million listeners, Mr.Johnnie Walker has 5.13_million and Ms.Sarah Kennedy has 4.71_million. Mr.Jeremy Vine added an extra 110_000 listeners in the last three months and now has an audience of 5.69_million. BBC Radio Two as a whole saw its audience rise to 13.3_million, up 240_000 in the last quarter while BBC Radio One's overall listener figures fell by 110_000, back below the 10_million mark to 9.93_million. A BBC Radio One spokesman blamed a 'seasonal dip' for the slight drop. The BBC's 'Asian Network' digital station has passed the half a million mark for the first time, now reaching 535_000 listeners. Mr.Jenny Abramsky, the BBC's director of radio and music, said:
'Today's strong figures mark the end of an excellent year for BBC Radio.
'I am particularly pleased to see the "Asian Network" top the half million mark and Terry Wogan's figures are simply awesome'.
Mr.Wogan was once very much yesterday's man at the BBC following severe TV over-exposure as a result of his three times a week evening chatshow and a gameshow, 'Blankety Blank'. But he has proved tremendously successful in rebuilding his career as arguably 'The Voice of British Radio' today by winning over a whole new set of fans. Many who cringed as he danced in bells and ribbons as he sang his version of 'The Floral Dance', which hit the charts in 1978, are now ardent fans, known as 'TOGs' (Terry's Old Geezers/Gals).
In his light-hearted way, Mr.Wogan sends up rich and powerful people and institutions -- making fun of the BBC, being rude about celebrities and showing his contempt for politicians. He is also fond of ridiculing his listeners, a dangerous strategy which seems to have paid off. Mr.Robert Beveridge, a lecturer on media policy at Napier University, said:
'He's kind of a polite Billy Connolly. He goes into little reveries and paints a picture in his own world -- but without the bad language. He's certainly got the blarney, he chatters away. 'And there's something to be said for people like Terry Wogan and Alistair Cooke, people who have been round the circuit a few times: they have learned their craft and are not all the time trying to push the boundaries like Chris Evans. 'They are not always trying to be smart. They are comfortable in who they are and so you feel comfortable with them'.
He said Mr.Wogan had benefited from the bulge in the population caused by the post-war baby boomers, people in their 50s and 60s who grew up on the kind of 'rock-and-roll' played on his show and who are left cold by BBC Radio One's current 'playlist'. However, Mr.Wogan is also attracting a new, more youthful audience, including some of the 200 media students at Napier University, who are required to listen to a large number of radio stations as part of their course.
'They quite like "Radio Two". They wouldn't listen to it when they are getting dressed to go out on a Friday night -- they will listen to something like "Beat 106" then -- but in the morning they kind of quite like that radio station', Mr.Beveridge said. 'I think it's not just the "babyboomers", there will be some younger listeners creeping in there too'.
He added part of the reason for the success of 'Wake Up With Wogan' was the way it appealed to the 'middle market' -- people who find BBC Radio Four's 'Today' programme 'too heavy' but are put off by a more tabloid-style shows. Mr.John Beyer, the director of Mediawatch-UK -- the successors to the late Ms.Mary Whitehouse's 'National Viewers and Listeners Association' -- said the poor quality of television had generated new interest in radio.
'There's a great renaissance in radio. A lot of people are tired of what's on TV and are seeking more wholesome entertainment on the radio', he said. 'The last episode of "Wife Swap" wasn't very edifying, and I think we've had enough of all the cookery, lifestyle, gardening make-over programmes on TV. 'People like what's familiar and Terry Wogan is familiar. If you turn on his radio programme, you know what you are going to get -- a mix of talk, laughter and music. It's all very light hearted and early in the morning that's what a lot of people want'.
Mr.Chris Moyles's show has attracted 150_000 more listeners in the last three months. And compared to the same time last year, his audience has increased by a massive 770_000. The BBC digital station, '6 Music', also continued to build its audience, adding 83_000 listeners in the past year to reach an audience of 238_000. Mr.Wogan was yesterday keeping a low-profile, but has persistently down-played his success, publicly wondering when he should retire.
'Will I have the guts to retire? What you have to avoid is leaving with a bad taste, hanging on too long. But what is too long?'
Judging by his current success, the 'Wake Up With Wogan' show still has some time to run. 'Eight million charmed by Wogan's gift of the blarney', Ian Johnston, The Scotsman, 2005-01-28, Fr.

2005-01-27

Stats: Fewer Scots going to University

The number of Scots going to university has dropped for the first time in five years despite attempts by 'The Scottish Executive' to get more people into higher education. Statistics published yesterday 2005-01-26, showed that fewer Scots applicants had been accepted to attend UK universities than in the previous year. The last time there was such a drop was between 1998 and 1999. According to figures from 'The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service' (UCAS), 28_225 Scots were accepted to attend UK universities in 2004, compared with 28_278 in 2003 -- a drop of 0.2 per cent. The findings back two separate sets of figures issued last year which showed falling numbers of Scots were entering higher education. A spokesman for 'The Scottish Executive' insisted there was no evidence to suggest a long-term trend showing Scots beginning to turn their backs on a university education. However, a leading academic accused ministers of 'complacency' and warned that the buoyant labour market meant many people now viewed getting a job as more important than gaining a degree. Mr.John Field, a professor of 'Lifelong Learning' at 'The University of Stirling', said:
'The proportion of school leavers who are qualified to enter higher education is continuing to rise, so it's not a question of there being fewer people in a position to go on to university. 'It's my strong impression that increasing numbers of people are choosing to enter the world of employment rather than higher education. 'These new figures suggest that participation in higher education has now reached a plateau in Scotland and this is something that "The Executive" should not be too complacent about. '"The Executive" might insist that there is nothing to worry about, but that kind of complacency really "won't wash"'.
The 2004-09, statistics from 'The Scottish Executive' showed that the rate of young Scots entering higher education had dropped below 50 per cent for the first time since 2000. And last month, official figures revealed that the proportion of Scottish school-leavers going on to university or college had dropped to its lowest level in five years. 'The Scottish Executive' spokesman said:
'There is no evidence this is the start of a trend. 'Scottish participation in higher education is very high and we remain strongly supportive of the sector and committed to supporting students. 'We have been clear for some time that this is a period of consolidation for higher education in Scotland -- we believe our participation rate meets Scotland's needs'.
Overall, the number of students entering Scottish universities has risen by 1.6 per cent, with the main increase coming from Ireland and other countries in the European Union.
Elsewhere, the UCAS figures revealed an increase in the number of students from England & Wales heading for Scotland and a drop in the number of Scots heading in the opposite direction. A total of 4_067 people from England & Wales were accepted to study at Scots universities, compared with 3_897 the previous year -- an increase of 4.4 per cent. At the same time, the number of Scots entering universities in England & Wales fell by 9.6 per cent, from 1_989 to 1_799. The imminent introduction of 'Top-up Fees' in England & Wales has been blamed for the increasing number of students heading north in search of cheaper courses. Mr.Field said:
'It's clearly the case that more people are coming to Scotland from England because of their concerns at the impact of "Top-up Fees"'.
'Warning over drop in number of Scots going to university', Kevin Schofield, The Scotsman, 2005-01-27

Money: Millions to come to Glasgow

Airport Land Plans for expansion at one of Scotland's largest airports have been given 'the green light' by ministers, it was announced yesterday 2005-01-24. The decision has earmarked 200 hectares of land for 'Glasgow International Airport' (Abbotsinch) to develop over the next 25 years, including the possibility of building another runway. However 'The Green Party' criticised 'The Scottish Executive' for 'pushing ahead' on transport growth without paying attention to 'climate change'. Ministers approved alterations to 'The Glasgow and Clyde Valley Structure Plan' devised by several councils, including Glasgow City and Renfrewshire. The reserved land could also see an expansion of terminal capacity, but it does not give the airport exclusive rights to develop the land -- and any proposed expansion would have to go through the usual planning process. The deputy communities minister, Ms.Johann Lamont, said:
Johann Lamont 'Councils have acted promptly to make provision for the long term development of "Glasgow International Airport". 'The airport is vital for Scotland's economic growth and this alteration will ensure that land is available for future expansion over the coming decades'.
But 'The Green Party's' MSP Mr.Mark Ruskell disagreed.
Mark Ruskell '"The Executive" appears committed to "business as usual" regardless of the ramifications for the future', he said. 'Scotland needs to take more serious steps towards addressing "climate change" and government should be taking a lead, not a back seat'.
'The Scottish Executive' also said it would be 'inappropriate' to commit to a widening of the M8 motorway by the airport; as plans were in the pipeline to create a new 15-minute direct rail link from Glasgow city centre to the airport. 'Airport's plan for growth takes off with securing of nearby land', Andrew Black, The Scotsman, 2005-01-25 'Optima' Optima, Glasgow: CHARING X Glasgow's city centre is on the verge of being transformed, following the unveiling of plans to erect a 17-storey, 55_m high building at a cost of 9_million_GBP. If given the go-ahead, the office complex, which will be known as 'Optima', will be sited in Bath Street, facing the Mitchell library on the opposite side of the M8 motorway. The building will be close to the site where Scotland's tallest building will take shape and is expected to become one of the city's defining landmarks. Property developer 'Credential Charing Cross' is behind the plan, which goes before the city council's planning committee today 2005-01-25. Combining office space and local amenities, it will include a restaurant and a health club and will be connected to a complex of Seventies buildings designed by architect Mr.Richard Seifert, who was responsible for the iconic 'NatWest' and 'Centrepoint' buildings in London. Work could start before the end of 2005. Ms.Marilyn Macmillan, marketing director of 'Credential Charing Cross', said:
'The area is perfect from a developer's point of view in as much as it's close to Charing Cross Station. 'This part of the town is very call-centre-friendly, and we think that this will be one of the main areas of business that will take an interest in it'.
Mr.Peter Richardson, a director of Glasgow-based designers 'ZM Architecture', said that the massive curved structure was an attempt to give the area a' sense of continuity'.
'Elphinstone Place' In 2004-12, a 100_million_GBP plan to build what, at 135_m, would be Scotland's tallest building was given the go-ahead. The 39-storey building called 'Elphinstone Place' will alter Glasgow's skyline. It will replace the former Strathclyde Regional council offices in India Street.
'Another new landmark as �9m office block is planned for Glasgow', Craig Brown, The Scotsman, 2005-01-25 'The Riverside Museum' In a red-letter day for Scotland's cultural scene, 'The Heritage Lottery Fund' yesterday 2005-01-26, announced another 15.9_million_GBP lottery grant -- the second highest award on record in Scotland -- towards a new museum of transport in Glasgow. Backers say the 50_million_GBP museum on the banks of the Clyde will add a major new tourist draw to the region, and is a focal point in the regeneration of Glasgow Harbour. Zaha Hadid Glasgow City is financing the project. The lottery grant ensures that a striking metallic design by the Iraqi Ms.Zaha Hadid, a rising star in world architecture, can be built to her plans, officials said. Next year, Glasgow's 'Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery' re-opens after a major overhaul. 'The Riverside Museum', replacing the current 'Museum of Transport', will open in 2007, with transport links to Kelvingrove. Mr.Colin Mclean, the Heritage Lottery Fund's manager for Scotland, said:
'This is an extremely exciting project for Scotland. 'More Scots go to museums than to football matches -- and it is museums with the universal popularity of Glasgow's "Museum of Transport" that contribute to that statistic'.
Mr.Charlie Gordon, the Glasgow council leader, said:
Charlie Gordon 'The "Museum of Transport" is a much loved and hugely popular attraction, but the new "Riverside Museum" will be bigger and better'.
'The Lottery Fund's' board held its twice-yearly meeting this week, and Scotland did remarkably well, gaining more than 30_million_GBP out of 78_million_GBP handed out to major projects across the UK. 'New transport museum wins �15.9m grant from lottery', Tim Cornwell, The Scotsman, 2005-01-27 Links: Glass tower plans given green light, The Herald Unveiled: 180ft glass tower plan for city centre, The Evening Times

Stats: The Migration Report 2001 Published

The extent to which Scotland's young are 'heading south' to seek work was 'laid bare' yesterday 2005-01-25 by a new report. 'The Migration Report', compiled by the Registrar-General for Scotland from 2001 census data, warns that emigration from remote rural areas is a 'big problem'. But there is hope for 'The Fresh Talent initiative' championed by The First Minister Mr.Jack Mcconnell: immigrants arriving from outside the UK are mostly younger and from strong economies such as the USA, Germany and France. The Registrar General Mr.Duncan Macniven said:
'There are still parts of Scotland where emigration is a big problem -- particularly Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles'.
The findings show the number of people coming to Scotland from the rest of the UK was roughly in balance with Scots heading south in the year before the census -- but the average age of people moving out was one and a quarter years lower than that of those moving in the opposite direction. In the 16-34 age group, there was nett emigration, with an overall loss of 2_688 people. But in the older 35-64 category there was a nett gain of 1_952. The Registrar General said:
'The pattern seems to be that young people leave Scotland, returning when they are older either to raise children or to retire'.
The report found that there were 794_577 Scots-born people living in England & Wales, almost twice as many as the 408_948 people living in Scotland who came from England & Wales. Two thirds of the difference was accounted for by people aged 45 and over, reflecting high levels of emigration from Scotland during the 1950s to 1970s. London continues to attract most Scots who leave, with the 12 months before the census seeing a nett loss to the British capital of about 900 -- mainly from Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen. Mr.Tony Parker, director of 'The School of American Studies' at 'The University of Dundee', said:
'Anybody wanting to use their knowledge or "build a career" is going to "head" where the best job opportunities lie. 'Scotland is a very attractive place to live and the quality of life is high, but very few people come here for the money'.
Others were more positive. Mr.Chris. Jackson, managing director of the recruitment website 'Return To Scotland', said:
'It is perhaps better that young people in Scotland head out to "spread their wings", "explore the world" and become more "rounded" individuals, bringing some of that experience back when they are older'.
Yesterday's report shows that areas defined as 'accessible rural' -- settlements of fewer than 3_000 within 30 minutes' drive of settlements of 10_000 or more -- gained about five people per 1_000 population, while remote rural areas lost most, at almost 8 per 1_000. Argyll and Bute, a short 'commute' from Glasgow, had the highest nett immigration, while Shetland had the highest emigration. Edinburgh's economic success saw it gain immigrants from virtually every part of the UK -- but lose emigrants to five neighbouring areas as house prices soared. A spokesman for 'The Scottish Executive' said:
'These figures demonstrate the need to "tackle" Scotland's declining population by attracting people, particularly those aged 16 to 34 to come live, work or study in Scotland'.
Scores of empty 'council homes' in Aberdeen could be leased to companies trying to attract foreign workers to fill a growing 'skills gap' in the city, it was also revealed yesterday 2005-01-25. The homes, mostly flats in difficult-to-let areas of the city, could be leased to local companies trying to recruit foreign labour. The council has up to 1_200 homes 'lying' vacant at any one time, including a 'hard core' of 400 'council homes' that those on the 'housing waiting list' do not want.
More immigrants come to Scotland from the USA than any other single overseas country, according to yesterday's report. Some 2_875 moved from the USA to Scotland -- about 10 per cent of the total 28_868 arriving from abroad in the year prior to the 2001 census. 43 per cent came from Europe, with Germany, France, Spain and 'The Republic of Ireland' providing the largest number. 21 per cent came from Asia, with a further 15, 11 and 9 per cent from North America, Oceania and Africa respectively. The Registrar General said:
'It does put things into context, given that "asylum seekers" from other countries have been in the spotlight'. He added:
'In future, with expansion of the EU, the numbers from eastern Europe may increase'.
More than three-quarters of the total non-UK immigrants were aged under 35, and 37 per cent were full-time students. But the 'emotional pull' of the 'homeland' was responsible for many immigrants: a quarter of all the immigrants from outside the UK were returning Scots. 'Exodus of young to England revealed by census study', Alastair Jamieson, The Scotsman, 2005-01-26, We. Links: General Register Office -- 2001 census GROS -- Annual Review of Demographic Trends 2003 Previously on This Blog... Stats & Money: New Scheme will Create Scottish "Brain-Drain" 2005-01 Money & Stats: 1st Time Buyers now aged 37, 2005-01 Scottish Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration to be Modernised, 2005-01 Stats & Money: Shrinking Population Requires Immigration, 2005-01 Stats: City Now Dominated by Females, 2005-01 Stats: Population Growth in Edinburgh Alarming, 2004-12 Stats: Men Now Twice As Likely To Live Alone, 2004-11 Stats: Contra-Sexuality May Be Increasing, 2004-11 Stats: Population to fall below five million, 2003-12 Stats: Top Ten Conditions for Happiness, 2003-10 Plans to Boost Population, 2003-02 Stats: Census Figures Reveal Concerns, 2002-10 Stats: Scotland Depopulating, 2002-09

2005-01-26

Intolerance: Scotland to Get Trespass Law to Protect Royal Family

Measures aimed at helping police in England & Wales tackle intruders on Crown land are likely to lead to a new offence of 'Trespass' being introduced in Scotland. But the move has sparked a fierce political war of words; 'The Scottish National Party' and 'The Association of Chief Police Officers' said 'Scots' Law' was already sufficient to deal with intruders on designated sites. However, some Ministers said it was necessary to coincide with legislation closing a loophole in England & Wales. The move would ensure that national security was defended, they added. Sewel Motion 'The Scottish Executive' wants 'The Serious Organised Crime and Police Bill' (now going through 'Westminster') to be subject to what-is-known-as a 'Sewel Motion'.
This is a parliamentary a device whereby 'Westminster' can legislate on Scotland's behalf and 'The Scottish Executive' can then tag this onto its own legislation.
However, opposition parties are already angry at what they see as too many 'Sewell Motions' -- 55 to date. The offence of 'Trespassing on a designated site' is being introduced to address problems that police forces in England & Wales have had in tackling intruders on sites such as 'Buckingham Palace' and 'Westminster'. However, 'Scottish National Party' spokesman Mr.Kenny Macaskill said:
Kenny Macaskill 'This is unnecessary, unwanted and alien to Scotland. '"Scots' Law" is perfectly adequate in this area and it's contrary to where we're going in terms of "right to roam"'.
'The Scottish Conservative and Unionists' stressed that the change did nothing to reassure them about the bill as a whole, which they want debated in full by MSPs. Their Justice spokesman, Ms.Annabel Goldie said:
Annabel Goldie 'I have to question whether these new measures are necessary. 'But it's only because such confusion was created under the Land Reform legislation that "anomalies" and "problems" like this are having to be addressed to ensure the Royal Family have the same security in Scotland as elsewhere in the United Kingdom'.
However, Justice Minister Ms.Cathy Jamieson said:
Cathy Jamieson 'In light of discussions with "The Home Office" it is now proposed to make "amendments" to the bill, to extend to Scotland the offence of "Trespass on a designated site". 'What we are proposing is: creating a new offence of "entering -- or being on -- a designated site without lawful authority". 'This is a separate Scottish provision that has been drafted to take account of the clear distinction between "Scots' Law" and the "concept of trespass" in "English law". 'We believe the public will recognise that "special measures" are necessary in relation to such sites, especially given "the threat of terrorist activity"'.
The minister, who insisted the offence would not be called 'Trespass' in Scotland, said:
'We are absolutely clear that nothing should be left to chance in terms of national security and the protection of the public'.
'The Association of Chief Police Officers' said the new offence was not necessary. Mr.James Chalmers, of the 'Law school' at 'The University of Aberdeen', argued that the 'Trespass' measures would add little to existing Scottish police powers.
However, Mr.Kenneth Norrie, legal Professor at 'The University of Strathclyde', said 'Trespass' was not alien to 'Scots' Law'. The 'right to roam' was enshrined in Land Reform legislation passed in 2003 by 'The Scottish Parliament'. A proposed 66-page access code on the 'right of responsible access' was drawn up by 'Scottish Natural Heritage'. It was generally welcomed by 'The Scottish Landowners' Federation' (now called 'The Scottish Rural Property and Business Association') and 'The National Farmers' Union in Scotland'.
'Anger at Scots trespass law plan',BBC NEWS, 2005/01/25 12:30:02 GMT

Intolerance: USA To Either Retry or Release Death Row Scot

Article 1 A federal appeals court in Ohio has rejected the conviction and death sentence on Briton Mr.Kenny Richey. Ken Richey Mr.Richey has been on 'Death Row' since 1987 after he was convicted of killing a two-year-old girl in a fire. The 'Sixth US American Circuit Court of Appeals' has ruled that he must be retried within 90 days or set free. British politicians have campaigned on behalf of Mr.Richey, 40, originally from Edinburgh. His partner said she was 'delighted' by the news: Ms.Karen Torley, who lives in Cambuslang, on the outskirts of Glasgow, said:
'It was a bit overwhelming to be told the decision after all this time, it was a "bolt out of the blue". 'Every single one of the issues that were presented to the court have all been questioned and his conviction has been found "unsafe". 'It's just been a "total nightmare" for him over the years, it's been hard trying to campaign to get people to see what I could see, but today's result shows it's been worth it all'.
Mr.Richey's lawyer Mr.Ken Parsigian said Mr.Richey was overjoyed with the news:
'He said "thank you, thank you, thank you" and then the word that kept coming up was "finally". 'He said "I can't believe it's finally happened, finally". 'The first thing he wants to do is get out, hug his mum, hug Karen, breathe the free air -- I think all those things are going to consume his time for a while'.
Mr.Alistair Carmichael, the Member of Parliament who led the campaign for Mr.Richey and visited him last year, described the decision as 'excellent', and said it highlighted the flaws in the conduct of the initial trial.
'Where so much doubt exists about the "safety" of a conviction, it would be an offence against humanity to carry out a death sentence', Mr.Carmichael declared. 'It now remains to be seen exactly what attitude the district attorney's office will take -- but in reaching their decision, I hope that they will bear in mind that Kenny has already spent 18 years on "Death Row", when the prosecutor at the time of Kenny's trial was prepared to offer a plea bargain which would have involved Kenny spending 11 years in custody'.
In 2004-03, 150 MPs signed a Commons motion backing Mr.Richey's claim of innocence and The Prime Minister Mr.Tony Blair promised to look into the case. The case has seen appeals on his behalf from Pope John Paul-2 and the former Archbishop of Canterbury. In a resolution passed in 1992-06, 'The European Parliament' expressed its doubt concerning the validity of this sentence. Ms.Margo Macdonald, an Independent Member of the Scottish Parliament who has campaigned for Mr.Richey's freedom, said:
'It's a very bitter-sweet feeling, it's wonderful that he has managed to hold on and stay as focused as he has done. 'Imagine spending that amount of time losing your youth and knowing that you're innocent -- and yet he's still managed to hold onto his sanity and his focus'.
Mr.Richey, who has dual UK-USA citizenship, left Scotland in 1981 to live with his US American father in Ohio state.
He was convicted of killing Ms.Cynthia Collins, who died in a fire in 1986 at her mother's apartment in the town of Columbus Grove. Prosecutors said that he intended to kill his ex-girlfriend but ended up killing the child.
Three appeal court judges in Cincinnati issued a 26-page judgment on 2005-01-25, Tu. In it, they said:
'Because constitutional errors have undermined our confidence in the reliability of Richey's conviction and sentence, we reverse the decision'.
Ms.Kim Norris, spokesman for Attorney General Mr.Jim Petro, said lawyers were reviewing the ruling to determine whether or not to Appeal. State Attorneys could ask the full circuit court or the US 'American Supreme Court' to consider the case. However Mr.Richey's lawyer in Ohio -- and 'Amnesty International Scotland' --said they believed this was unlikely. 'Amnesty's' Ms.Rosemary Burnett said:
'The state has 14 days to Appeal but we imagine they won't Appeal because the trial was flawed. 'They have 90 days to set a date for a retrial or to release Kenny. 'Nobody should be sent to "the living hell of death row", but Kenny Richey's 18-year ordeal has come after a "flawed" trial and serious concerns about the Ohio justice system. 'Indeed, Kenny's case was always one of the most compelling cases of apparent innocence that human rights campaigners had ever come across'.
Mr.Richey has lived through 13 dates for his execution and at one point was an hour away from dying. In 2004, he said:
'I'm innocent and I'll stand by that 'till the day they kill me. 'I used to be afraid of death when I was a kid... but I'm not anymore; death doesn't bother me'.
'Briton's death sentence quashed', BBC NEWS, 2005/01/25 19:16:25 GMT Article 2: The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Pope, Ms.Susan Sarandon, Mr.Robbie Coltrane and Mr.Irvine Welsh have all backed Mr.Kenny Richey's bid for a retrial, but nobody has done as much as Ms.Karen Torley. Karen Torley Ms.Torley, a 41-year-old, from Cambuslang, first heard about his plight from a documentary in 1992 and three years later she took up his case. In the almost ten years that she has worked on his campaign, her involvement has gone from writing letters to 'World In Action' documentaries to setting up an Internet Site and making detailed examinations of the entire court transcripts of his case. Her efforts have helped ensure that MPs, MSPs and organisations such as 'Amnesty International' have kept up the pressure on the US American authorities. In 1994-03, 150 MPs signed a Commons motion backing Mr.Richey's claim of innocence after Mr.Tony Blair, the Prime Minister, pledged to look into the case. When she travelled to the USA to meet Mr.Richey, she said she felt the pair of them 'clicked' and it was as if they had known each other for many years. She now uses his surname of Richey as well as Torley. She first heard his voice on Bonfire Night, 1996, when Mr.Richey rang her at home. They maintained regular contact by telephone until 1998, when he proposed marriage, which she accepted. It seems the pair may finally be able to be together in Scotland. 'Scots fianc�e may finally get to be with her man', Edward Black, The Scotsman, 2005-01-25 Article 3: Mr. Kenny Richey was prepared to go to 'the electric chair' while maintaining his innocence rather than come to a 'plea bargain' with State Prosecutors that would have spared him. The Scot was subjected to a tortuous legal process which saw him go through 12 Appeals until his 13th and last attempt to convince a court of his case. He never wavered, maintaining the steely determination that saw him turn down the 'plea bargain' and a sentence which would have seen him released years ago. The case against Mr.Richey -- that he had climbed over a shed, into a flat, and set fire to it-- killing a two-year-old girl in Columbus Grove, Ohio -- was flawed from the start.
  • The prosecution alleged he had climbed the steep roof of the shed on to a balcony while holding petrol cans without making any noise that would have alerted people in the apartment block.
  • Yet Mr.Richey had broken his hand a week earlier and it was in a plaster cast. He was also seen by a witness as he collapsed drunk in some bushes nearby.
  • His former girlfriend and her new boyfriend -- said to be the target of the arson attack -- claimed to be light sleepers, and their bedroom window (just a few metres away from the shed) was open.
  • No traces of 'accelerants' were found on his clothes although, the prosecution said he had splashed these over the carpet and floor.
  • It was decided that the crime was 'premeditated' -- and therefore worthy of the 'death penalty' -- because a smoke alarm had been deactivated. But no evidence Mr.Richey did this was presented during his original trial.
  • The local fire chief was also reported to have initially said the fire was the result of an accident, a statement he later denied making.
  • The flat was not sealed off for investigation and the owner was given permission to start cleaning up -- extremely unusual if police thought a crime had been committed.
  • Evidence then had to be collected from the local rubbish dump. Unfortunately, the police transferred the charred remains of the contents of the flat on to a local sheriff's forecourt -- near a petrol pump.
In 1997-03, an Appeal court was told of new tests by some of North America's leading scientists -- including Professor Mr.Richard Custer, who advises the FBI -- which showed that the carpet did not contain any ignitable substances at all. They concluded the characteristics of the fire were consistent with an accident, but not arson. The original forensic tests on the carpet were deemed to be 'unreliable'. However, this particular appeal court decided the new evidence was inadmissible because it should have been submitted before. But if Mr.Richey did not start the fire, who did? The most likely candidate was the two-year-old girl who was killed. Ms.Cynthia Collins
was known to have a tendency to play with matches and had started fires in the flat previously. However, the defence was not told during the original trial that firefighters had gone there three times in the weeks before the toddler's death to investigate smoke coming from the flat. Whether this would have made much difference to the outcome of the trial is hard to tell, because it was handled by an inexperienced lawyer called Mr.William Kluge, who was working on his first capital case. Like many defendants who find themselves on 'death row', Mr.Richey had not been able to afford his own lawyer and one was provided for him by the state. The State Prosecution produced 34 witnesses to prove their case, while the defence called just 6. They did not include Mr.Richey or any expert on fires. Numerous inconsistencies in The State Prosecution case also went largely unchallenged Mr.Kluge has publicly admitted that he did not do his job properly and, before yesterday's decision, said he was 'haunted' by Mr.Richey's plight. 'Vindicated by his own determination', Ian Johnston, The Scotsman, 2005-01-25 Article 4: A Scot who has spent 19 years on 'death row' protesting his innocence saw his conviction for murder overturned yesterday after a US Amercian court ruled that grave mistakes had been made during his trial. Edinburgh-born Mr.Kenny Richey 'hooted' after receiving the call to tell him that, after 13 appeals, his ordeal looked finally to be coming to an end. State Prosecutors in Ohio now have 90 days to retry Mr.Richey, 40, or release him, after the decision by 'The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals' in Cincinnati, Ohio. By a two-to-one majority, judges ruled his legal team committed fundamental errors during the 1986 trial in which he was found guilty of murdering his former girlfriend's daughter, Ms.Cynthia Collins, aged 2, by setting fire to her family home. He was sentenced to death.
'Constitutional errors have undermined our confidence in the reliability of Mr.Richey's conviction and sentence', the judges stated. 'Mr.Richey was clearly prejudiced by his attorney's deficiencies'.
Mr.Kenneth Parsigian, Mr.Richey's Boston-based lawyer, who has conducted his appeals since 1993, called him in prison to tell him of the ruling.
'He was understandably very excited', Mr.Parsigian said, 'He just hooted ... and then said "thank you, thank you, thank you"'.
Mr.Richey's execution date had been on hold while the latest Appeal was pending. Mr.Parsigian expressed the hope that Ohio State would decide not to retry Mr.Richey, given the court's conclusion that evidence was mis-handled -- and the amount of time he has already served. The lawyer went on:
'It's been a long time. The evidence has been badly undermined. It would be a real injustice at this point to put Mr.Richey through this again, based on what the court has said'.
Mr.Richey's fianc�e, Ms.Karen Torley, from Cambuslang, near Glasgow, had spent nearly ten years trying to win his freedom. Last night she was 'shocked but delighted' that his conviction had been overturned. Ms.Torley, who plans to marry Mr.Richey upon his release, said
'I have just heard from the lawyer and am trying to "download" the judgment. I am shocked but obviously delighted. 'It has been a "nightmare beyond words" for Kenny himself, but this verdict shows that all our tireless campaigning was worth it and that our arguments against the conviction were perfectly justified. 'I can't think right now about the future but it would nice to see him coming out the prison door and through mine. 'We just want to be a normal family and set up home together here in Scotland'.
British MPs and human rights campaigners had fought on Mr.Richey's behalf for years, pleading a 'compelling' case of innocence. Mr.Alistair Carmichael, the MP for Orkney and Shetland, and Ms.Kate Allen, the UK director of Amnesty International, met Mr.Richey in Ohio last year. His case won support from 'The European Parliament', the Pope and a 'host of celebrities'. In 2004-03, 150 MPs signed a Commons motion backing his claim of innocence after Mr.Tony Blair, the Prime Minister, pledged to look into the case. Mr.Richey was originally sentenced to die in Ohio's electric chair, nicknamed 'Old Sparky', though 'death by Electrocution' was banned in 2001, had his appeal been rejected, he would have been put to death by 'Lethal Injection' within six months. The Scot, who has joint UK-USA citizenship, left this country in 1983 at the age of 18 to go and live with his father in Ohio. In1986-06, shortly before he was due to return home to take up a job as a nightclub bouncer in Edinburgh, he was arrested and accused of setting fire to the home of Ms.Hope Collins, his former girlfriend, in Columbus, Ohio. She told police that her daughter had died in a fire after she asked Ms.Richey to keep watch over her while she spent the night at her then boyfriend's home. Mr.Richey has always denied that he agreed to babysit, saying that he was at a party in a neighbouring flat at the time and would have been too drunk to do so. He has had a string of appeals rejected since he was convicted and ten years ago he came within an hour of going to 'the electric chair' before he was granted a 'stay of execution'. He had even said his last goodbyes to his mother and family and his head had been shaved, ready for 'Electrocution'. Speaking at her home in Edinburgh, Mr.Richey's mother, Eileen, 60, said the verdict had taken her completely by surprise. She said:
'I wasn't expecting to hear anything today; I never knew anything about this latest appeal hearing so it was a total surprise. 'I felt like bursting into tears; I just felt a mixture of relief and joy. 'I felt many a time that this wouldn't happen but now all I am doing is looking forward to him coming home. 'I've spoken to Kenny's brother, Steven, and he was choked with tears. 'It's just a really exciting day. My phone has never stopped since I got the news'.
Mr.Richey's mother, who last saw him in prison two years ago, also paid tribute to Ms.Torley, saying:
'She has done a lot and if it wasn't for her, we wouldn't have got to where we are today. 'It's been a long time coming. I was never sure he would get out, but I just kept hoping. Sometimes Kenny was hopeful but other times he was very down, but he is coming home now and that is all I'm worried about. 'His health has deteriorated and that has been causing me serious concern of late'.
Ms.Kim Norris, a spokesman for 'The Ohio Attorney General's Office', said last night, 2005-01-24:
'We are disappointed in the ruling; a three-judge panel, the Ohio Court of Appeals, Ohio Supreme Court and Federal District Court all agree the evidence against Ken Richey proved his guilt in committing this terrible crime that killed two-year-old Cynthia Collins. 'At least three people heard Richey threaten to burn down the building. Richey admitted to one person after the fire that he set it, saying, "Looks like I done a helluva good job, don't it". 'Ohio law allowed for the "death penalty" based on these facts'.
However, Ms.Rosemary Burnett, of 'Amnesty International Scotland', was thrilled with the outcome.
'We don't have the judgment yet, but we have spoken to the lawyer on the phone and he said that the appeal court in Ohio has recognised that the original trial was flawed and has overturned the original trial', she said. 'The state has 14 days to appeal but we imagine they won't appeal because the trial was flawed. 'They have 90 days to set a date for a retrial or to release Kenny. 'Obviously this is great news and we are absolutely thrilled'.
Mr.Richey's younger brother, Tom, 37, is also behind bars in the USA; he was jailed in 1985 for killing Ms.Arlene Koestner at her home in Washington while high on drugs. He is not due for release until he is 83. '13th appeal saves Richey from death after lawyer is deemed incompetent', Dan Mcdougall, Kevin Schofield & Jacqui Goddard, The Scotsman, 2005-01-25 Article 5: It was on the night of 1986-06-30, that two-year-old Ms.Cynthia Collins was burned to death at home.
The State of Ohio successfully proved: That Mr.Kenneth Richey broke into a nearby greenhouse, stole cans of petrol and paint-thinner -- broke into the Collins' first floor flat -- doused it with the flammables -- disconnected the fire alarm -- set the room ablaze -- fled -- and then rushed back inside in an attempt to save the 2 year old. His motive was revenge -- on the Collins' downstairs neighbour in the ground floor flat: Ms.Candy Barchet, (who was Mr.Richey's ex-lover) -- and who was at that time asleep with her new lover, Mr.John Butler.
On this hypothesis, the child was an innocent victim of a botched attempted murder. Yet in order to secure the death penalty, which The State Prosecutor was keen to secure, Mr.Richey was charged with 'aggravated felony murder'. According to The Statute in place at the time, a guilty 'aggravated felony murderer' must have
'specifically intended to cause the death of the person killed -- the prosecution must prove specific intent of the person to have caused the death by proof beyond a reasonable doubt'
In court, however, The State Prosecution did no such thing; their evidence hinged on four elements:
  • First, Mr.John Butler testified to Mr.Richey's aggression towards him.
  • Second, neighbours insisted they heard Mr.Richey shout statements such as 'If I can't have her, nobody can' and 'I did a good job, didn't I?'.
  • Third was the evidence of 'The State Arson Lab.' -- which insisted accelerants, such as petrol or paint thinner, were present on samples of the living-room carpet. None were found on Mr.Richey's clothes and the cans were never found.
  • There was a final key element in the successful prosecution: Mr.Richey's own defence team; Mr.William Kluge, the public defender assigned to the case, made a number of mistakes that verged on incompetence.
He persuaded Mr.Richey to waive his right to jury trial in favour of a three-judge panel. He chose his arson expert from a newspaper ad., advised the expert (Mr.Gregory DuBois, an expert on metal fatigue, not fire) to spend no more than ten hours in research on grounds of cost. When the defence's expert's conclusions mirrored those of The State Prosecution, Mr.Kluge failed to prevent The State Prosecutor calling him to the stand to support their own case.
After just three days, Mr.Richey was found guilty and sentenced to death; the three judges attached specific significance to the tampered fire detector. Mr.Richey immediately lodged an Appeal. After reviewing the case, his new lawyer, also a public defender, wanted to make the 'ineffective assistance' of his old lawyer, Mr.Kluge, the heart of the Appeal. However his boss (who was a close friend of Mr.Kluge), insisted he drop this idea -- or face career retribution. The new lawyer felt the faults were 'too egregious to ignore' but pushed them weakly. So -- in 1989 -- 'The Ohio Court of Appeals' affirmed the sentence, and in 1992, 'The Ohio Supreme Court' did the same by 4:3 votes. Then in 1993, Mr.Richey retained yet another new counsel -- Mr.Ken Parsigian -- who would successfully illustrate the myriad faults in the case against his client: Witnesses such as Ms.Peggy Villearreal -- who testified against Mr.Richey -- now claimed they were only 'trying to tell the prosecution' what 'they wanted to hear'. At the heart of the new defence was the belief the fire was accidental.
In the two weeks before the blaze, Fire Marshals had been called out three times to investigate smoke in the flat. Mr.Parsigian brought in two new forensic experts -- a specialist in fire reconstruction and a forensic chemist, both demolished The State Procecution's case. Even Mr.Dan Gelfius, one of The State Procecution's forensic chemists, began to doubt his own work.
At the time he performed the studies he was unaware of what had happened to the carpet, which had been taken to the local dump. Police officers later retrieved it, but left it for three weeks to lie in a car park next to petrol pumps.
And the fire alarm that had so convinced the judges who sentenced him? Witnesses came forward to explain that on the evening of the tragedy, Ms.Cynthia Collins' mother burned steaks and the alarm failed to go off.
Nevertheless 5 further appeals in Federal Courts (1994, 1995, 1997, 1998, and 2000) failed.
The Federal District Court even quoted Mr.Anthony Cafe -- a distinguished forensic scientist -- to support The State Procecution's findings. Mr.Cafe later said the court had 'mis-cited and misunderstood' his work.
In 2003-03, Mr.Richey's lawyers went before 'The USA Court of Appeals', and finally -- in 2005-01 -- in a written opinion, the judges found by a 2:1 vote that constitutional errors -- including the decision to proceed with the charge of 'aggravated felony murder' -- had undermined the reliability of Mr.Richey's conviction, and therefore that he must be either re-tried (within 90 days) or else released. 'The law vs Kenny Richey', Stephen Mcginty, the Scotsman, 2005-02-01 Links:
US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit Kenny Richey campaign Scottish Executive Scottish Parliament Foreign Office Previously on This Blog... Intolerance: Political Support Grows for Death Row Scot 2005-07 Intolerance: Scot demands Death Penalty -- For Himself 2004-06