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Scottish island ferries suspended amid strikes

Two-thirds of ferry services off the western coast of Scotlans will be suspended today as the third day of a workers' strike kicks off in protest over a potential change in owner.

Publicly-owned CalMac ferries will run just a third of its Clyde and Hebrides services as staff voice concern over a tendering process they fear will see the routes taken over by private firm Serco.

Two-thirds of services will be suspended Credit: PA

Scottish ministers say European laws forbid them from favouring one bidder over another, but the RMT union members have demanded assurances over jobs and conditions.

CalMac managing director Martin Dorchester said the company would work to minimise disruption.

Our door continues to remain open to reach a satisfactory conclusion that suits all parties and avoids this unnecessary action.

Although it looks like this action will be limited in scope, it will undoubtedly still hit the communities we serve hard. It is not just an inconvenience at the start of the tourist season it will impact island businesses where it hurts most, in their pockets.

We will continue to work to mitigate as much as possible any disruption for the travelling public and I would like to apologise for any inconvenience and thank passengers for their patience during this time.

– Martin Dorchester, Cal Mac

Vitamin D deficiency 'not a factor in heart disease after all'

A lack of exposure to sunshine resulting in a vitamin D deficiency may not play a key role in heart disease and winter deaths after all, scientists have claimed.

A research team from the University of Dundee found that while low vitamin D levels did correlate with higher levels of cardiovascular disease, the cause was likely to be down to lifestyle and other risk factors.

Scientists found vitamin D levels played little to no role Credit: Reuters

When these elements were corrected for, vitamin D levels were found to play little or no role in the development of such diseases.

Researchers examined blood samples taken from thousands of men and women who agreed to have their risk factors measured after vitamin D was first linked with excess levels of winter disease in 1981.

We've known for many years that a low level of vitamin D is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, but it was not clear whether lack of vitamin D directly causes the increased risk or is a consequence of other factors.

The long-term Scottish Heart Health Study, which the British Heart Foundation helped to fund, has provided a series of valuable insights over the years and they have now shown that that low vitamin D is result of other risk factors, rather than a cause of increased risk.

– Prof Jeremy Pearson, British Heart Foundation

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Bid to give Scotland more power defeated

A bid to give Scotland's parliament full control of tax and spending have been defeated in the House of Commons.

The SNP pushed a plan to give Holyrood the power to move towards full fiscal autonomy without imposing it immediately.

Conservative former minister Sir Edward Leigh had called for the Scotland Bill to be amended to hand full fiscal autonomy to the Scottish Parliament straight away.

Senior Labour MP Graham Allen's amendment to give the Scottish Parliament the power to retain the Human Rights Act if it was scrapped by the Government was also defeated.

Police search for five-year-old boy missing on Scottish island

Scottish police have appealed for help in finding a five-year-old boy who has gone missing in the Shetlands on Saturday.

Bradley Simpson went missing in Lerwick on Saturday Credit: PA

Bradley Simpson was last seen at around 4pm on Saturday in the Norstane area of Lerwick.

Described as between 3 and a half to 4ft in height, of slim build with short cropped fair hair and blue/green eyes, Bradley was last seen wearing a dark brown jacket with a hood and a Macmillan charity badge attached.

He was also wearing a red and grey striped jumper with a hood, dark blue jeans and white and blue trainers.

Police Scotland said they were "anxious" to trace Bradley and urged anyone who has any information regarding the little boy's whereabouts to contact them on 101.

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Baby among eight injured in minibus crash

Eight people including a 12-week-old baby and five other children have been taken to hospital after a minibus crash Credit: PA

Eight people including a 12-week-old baby and five other children have been taken to hospital after a minibus crashed in Scotland.

The vehicle left the road and turned onto its roof on the southbound carriageway of the A74(M) near Moffat in Dumfries and Galloway at around 5.25pm yesterday.

The baby girl was taken to the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Glasgow with suspected head injuries.

Two girls aged 16 and 13 and three boys aged 12, 10 and eight were taken to Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary, along with the driver, a 33-year-old man and a 37-year-old male passenger.

All remained overnight with a variety of minor injuries.

All eight people in the bus were from Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire.

Police appealed for information from anyone who witnessed the crash. The vehicle was a white LDV minibus.

Local Lib Dems back Carmichael in leaked memo row

Alistair Carmichael initially denied responsibility for the leaked memo. Credit: PA Wire

Liberal Democrats in Alistair Carmichael's Orkney and Shetland constituency are backing the former Scottish Secretary amid a police investigation into his election smear tactics and a growing online campaign to have him removed.

Carmichael leaked an unsubstantiated memo claiming Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish National Party (SNP) leader, had expressed support for the Conservatives, and initially denied any responsibility for the leak.

Local party members have voiced disappointment at Carmichael's conduct, but urged his constituents to give him "a fair hearing" rather than giving in to "mob rule" and the "increasingly personal and unpleasant political motivation of the SNP and the Yes campaign".

The members agreed that Alistair [Carmichael] has rightly taken full responsibility and has apologised to all concerned, not least to the people of Orkney and Shetland ... and he retains the full confidence of the executive.

– Shetland Liberal Democrats executive committee
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