Nicola Sturgeon 'has not heard from police' over probe into SNP finances

Nicola Sturgeon 'has not heard from police' over probe into SNP finances

Scotland’s outgoing first minister Nicola Sturgeon has told Sky News she has not heard whether police want to interview her or her husband as part of a long-running probe into SNP finances.

Police Scotland and the Crown Office are investigating how £600,000 raised by the SNP for independence campaigning has been spent.

In a Beth Rigby interview due to air at 9pm on Sky News, Ms Sturgeon insisted this had nothing to do with her shock resignation last month as she stood by her decision to quit – despite the recent turmoil in the party.

Ms Sturgeon admitted the race to replace her had been a “less than edifying process” so far as she urged those vying to replace her “not to throw the baby out of the bathwater”.

Asked if she had heard whether she or her husband Peter Murrell will be interviewed by police, Ms Sturgeon responded: “No. I wouldn’t comment on any ongoing police investigation and I am not going to comment on this one.”

The SNP has previously denied any wrongdoing around party finances.

Mr Murrell, who had been the party’s chief executive since 1999, quit at the weekend after being embroiled in a row over claims he misled the press over membership numbers.

His departure came shortly after that of media chief Murray Foote, who said there had been a “serious impediment” to his role.

Ms Sturgeon acknowledged the race to succeed her had at times been bumpy, amid criticism of the candidates and calls for greater transparency.

But she said it was right for her to stand down, saying she had become so dominant in politics she was becoming a “barrier to succession”.

“I wouldn’t be standing down if I didn’t think that was necessary after 16 years in government, but also protecting the ingredients of our phenomenal electoral success.”

She said a change in leadership was a “moment for renewal”.

“I’m not suggesting that this is not a difficult process and at times, it has been a less than edifying process,” she said.

“And what I’d say to all of those standing to succeed me as leader… is remember that I am standing down from a party that hasn’t lost an election in Scotland since 2010.

“This is a moment for refresh, renewal, change, but let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater. We have the trust of the people of Scotland and we’ve got to make sure we retain that trust.”

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Bruce Willis sings and blows out candles as he celebrates 68th birthday following dementia diagnosis

Bruce Willis sings and blows out candles as he celebrates 68th birthday following dementia diagnosis

Bruce Willis has celebrated his 68th birthday with a song and a cake, surrounded by his family, after it was announced he had been diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia (FTD) earlier this year.

A video shared by his ex-wife Demi Moore showed the Hollywood star singing happy birthday while surrounded by his daughters, Moore and his wife Emma Heming, before blowing out two candles on an apple pie.

Relatives of the Hollywood star said in March 2022 that he would be “stepping away” from his successful career after being diagnosed with aphasia, a condition affecting his cognitive abilities.

Moore, 60, wrote alongside the Instagram post: “Happy birthday, BW! So glad we could celebrate you today. Love you and love our family.

“Thank you to everyone for the love and warm wishes – we all feel them.”

Heming, 44, also shared an emotional post on Instagram, describing the feelings of “sadness” and “grief” she said she experienced as a caregiver to someone with dementia, adding: “I’m really feeling it today on his birthday.”

Becoming tearful as she ended the short video, she thanked fans for their support, saying: “As much as I do it for myself, I do it for you because I know how much you love my husband.”

Starring in more than 100 films over four decades, Willis has appeared in box office hits including Pulp Fiction, 12 Monkeys and The Sixth Sense, earning him fans worldwide.

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Heming also shared a collection of videos and photos of Willis spending time with his family and playing with his children.

She captioned the post: “He is pure love. He is so loved. And I’ll be loving him always. Happy Birthday my sweet.

“My birthday wish for Bruce is that you continue to keep him in your prayers and highest vibrations because his sensitive Pisces soul will feel it.

“Thank you so much for loving and caring for him too.”

Willis has five daughters, sharing his three eldest – Rumer, Scout and Tallulah – with Moore whom he married in 1987, and his younger daughters Mabel and Evelyn with Heming, who he married in 2009.

Willis and Moore separated in 2000, but remain on good terms.

Rumer marked her father’s birthday by posting the same video of everyone singing happy birthday and wrote: “Happy Birthday Daddio I love you to the moon. You are so cool.”

Scout captioned the video in her post: “Also though, today has been PROFOUNDLY JOYFULLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL !!!!!! HAPPY BW’S BIRTHDAY TO ALL WHO CELEBRATE !!!!”

Tallulah shared a selection of photos of her father from throughout the years on her Instagram, writing: “Happy birthday to my numero uno Bruno !!

“Feeling awash with all the good energies and love headed this Willis way! I love him and he loves me – what a delight!”

FTD is a degenerative brain disorder characterised by deterioration of the frontal and/or temporal lobes, according to the Association of Frontotemporal Deterioration (AFTD).

They list symptoms including uncharacteristic personality changes, apathy, and unexplained struggles with decision-making, speaking or language comprehension are among the most common presenting symptoms.

There are currently no treatments for FTD.

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Most parents think their kids do not vape – but that's not what the numbers say

Most parents think their kids do not vape – but that's not what the numbers say

A new study has been released showing how little some parents may be aware of their child’s vaping habits.

In the poll of 1,325 parents, 3% of parents of teens aged 15 to 18 said their child vaped, while just 1% of people with children aged 11 to 14 said they did.

That’s far lower than the US national averages, which found in 2022, about 3% of middle schoolers and 14% of high school students vaped in the previous 30 days.

“This relatively high level of vaping suggests that parents should not assume their child is not vaping,” the study said.

In the UK, 9% of schoolchildren aged 11 to 15 years old reported vaping in 2021, up from 6% in 2018, the last time the study was carried out.

Vaping was most popular among 15-year-old girls with more than a fifth saying they were current e-cigarette users.

The report on parents’ views on vaping was by the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, part of the University of Michigan, which runs national polls on children’s health.

It found most parents (48%) believed they would definitely know or probably know (40%) if their child was vaping.

Parents said they would know because their child would tell them (67%), they would find vape supplies in their child’s things (57%), they would smell it (48%), or find out from other people (37%).

The report cautioned parents that “detection may be more difficult than parents realise”.

Vapes do not give off the same smell as cigarettes, the cartridges often look like USB sticks or other innocuous objects and disposable vapes are small and easy to buy, use and throw away.

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Revealed: Impact of throwaway vapes

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“Vaping is easy to hide from teachers and parents, even when done in indoor areas like bedrooms, bathrooms and classrooms,” the report said.

“It is likely that parents would have an especially hard time knowing if their child was using disposable vapes.”

The study also revealed most parents believe their children are clued up on the health risks of vaping, which include chronic bronchitis, exacerbation of asthma, and swelling and irritation of the lungs.

“Although 4 in 5 parents in this Mott Poll felt their child recognises these risks, it may be unrealistic to expect adolescents to consider long-term health effects,” the report said.

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Former Australian soldier charged for alleged Afghanistan war crime

Former Australian soldier charged for alleged Afghanistan war crime

An Australian veteran has been charged for the alleged murder of an Afghan man, following an investigation into war crimes.

The 41-year-old man was arrested in New South Wales and identified by Australian Broadcasting Corp as former Special Air Service Regiment trooper Oliver Schulz.

“It will be alleged he murdered an Afghan man while deployed to Afghanistan,” a statement from Australian Federal Police read.

His arrest is the first after a military report published in 2020 found evidence that Australian troops unlawfully killed 39 Afghan prisoners, farmers and civilians.

The report recommended 19 current and former soldiers who served in Afghanistan between 2005 and 2016 face criminal investigation.

If convicted, Schulz faces a potential life sentence in prison.

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Helmet footage broadcast by ABC in 2020 described a soldier they named as Schulz as shooting an Afghan man in a wheat field in the Uruzgan province, southern Afghanistan, back in 2012.

He is expected to appear before a court in Sydney within days, where a magistrate will consider whether he be released on bail.

Australia was part of a NATO-led international force that trained Afghanistan security forces and fought the Taliban.

During the 20 years that Australian forces were present in the country, until their withdrawal in 2021, more than 39,000 military personnel served there, and 41 were killed.

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Donald Trump says he's going to be arrested this week – so what could happen if he is?

Donald Trump says he's going to be arrested this week – so what could happen if he is?

Donald Trump has claimed he will be arrested this week over an alleged hush money payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels.

If right in his assertion, the former US president could be charged by authorities in New York within days.

But what will happen if he is indicted – and how will both sides present their case?

What Trump has said

In a post on his Truth Social platform on Saturday, Mr Trump said he expected to be arrested on Tuesday and urged his supporters to protest against the authorities if he is detained and indicted.

He published a long statement describing the investigation as a “political witch-hunt trying to take down the leading candidate, by far, in the Republican Party”.

“I did absolutely nothing wrong,” he said, before criticising a “corrupt, depraved and weaponised justice system”.

However, it’s worth noting a spokesperson for Mr Trump said he had not been notified of any pending arrest.

The case – that the Republican made a payment to Ms Daniels towards the end of the 2016 presidential campaign in exchange for her silence over an alleged affair – is one of several related to Mr Trump.

Other ongoing cases include a Georgia election interference probe and two federal investigations into his role in the 6 January insurrection in the US Capitol.

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What Trump will do

Mr Trump has accused Manhattan’s district attorney Alvin Bragg, a Democrat, of targeting him for political gain, and may try to argue for the dismissal of the charges on those grounds.

He could also challenge whether the statute of limitations – five years in this instance – should have run out.

But in New York, the statute of limitations can be extended if the defendant has been out of state – Trump may argue that serving as US president should not apply.

Politically, how any possible indictment may affect Mr Trump’s chances in the 2024 presidential election is unclear.

He could be the first former US president to face criminal prosecution – right as polls show him leading other potential rivals for the Republican nomination, including controversial Florida governor Ron DeSantis.

This could lead to the unprecedented situation in which Mr Trump would stand trial as he campaigns in 2024.

If elected, he would not have the power to pardon himself of criminal charges.

In any case, Mr Trump’s lawyer Joe Tacopina told CNBC on Friday that he would surrender if charged. If he refused to come voluntarily, prosecutors could seek to have him extradited from Florida, where he currently lives.

In an ironic twist, as governor, Mr DeSantis would typically have to give formal approval for an extradition.

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What prosecutors will do

The Manhattan District Attorney’s office has spent nearly five years investigating Mr Trump.

It has presented evidence to a New York grand jury that relates to a £114,000 ($130,000) payment to Ms Daniels during the final days of the 2016 presidential campaign.

It is alleged the payment was given in exchange for Ms Daniels’ silence about an affair between her and Mr Trump.

Mr Trump has denied the affair and accused Ms Daniels of extortion.

Any indictment by the district attorney’s office would require Mr Trump to travel to its New York office to surrender.

But Mr Trump’s lawyers will likely arrange a date and time with authorities, as it is a white-collar case. And then his mugshot and fingerprints would be taken before appearing for arraignment in court.

Mr Trump could also be charged with falsifying business records – typically classed as a misdemeanour – after he reimbursed his former attorney Michael Cohen for the payments, falsely recorded as legal services.

To elevate it to a felony, prosecutors would have to show Mr Trump falsified records to cover up a second crime.

In any case, legal experts have estimated that any trial of the former US president would be more than a year away.

That’s why if it happened, it could coincide with the final months of a 2024 election in which Mr Trump seeks a controversial return to the White House.

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Boris Johnson's official partygate defence set to be revealed today

Boris Johnson's official partygate defence set to be revealed today

Boris Johnson’s defence against claims he lied to parliament about whether he knew about Downing Street lockdown parties is expected to be published today.

The former prime minister’s case was submitted to the privileges committee by barrister Lord Pannick KC, and allies believe his position – that he was unaware any gatherings broke the rules – will be “vindicated”.

An estimated £220,000 of taxpayer’s money has been allocated for Mr Johnson‘s legal bills.

The seven-member privileges committee, chaired by Labour’s Harriet Harman but with a Tory majority, will decide whether the Uxbridge and South Ruislip MP misled the Commons – and if it was “reckless or intentional”.

Should his actions be deemed a contempt of parliament, the committee will recommend a punishment that MPs will subsequently get to decide upon – with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak expected to grant a free vote.

A suspension from parliament of 10 days or more could ultimately trigger a by-election in Mr Johnson’s seat.

His defence will be revealed before he faces the committee on Wednesday.

What is Johnson’s case?

The committee is examining evidence from at least four occasions when he may have misled the Commons with his guarantees that restrictions were stuck to.

An interim report by the committee earlier this month suggested breaches of lockdown rules in place during the coronavirus pandemic should have been “obvious” to Mr Johnson.

But he has said there is “no evidence in the report that I knowingly or recklessly misled parliament”.

He is expected to highlight previously unrevealed WhatsApp messages from senior civil servants and members of his Number 10 team, showing he had relied on their advice when he made his statements.

Others will showcase a belief that the gatherings were covered by the “workplace exemption” in the lockdown rules.

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Everything you need to know about partygate investigation

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Partygate inquiry explained

‘A witch hunt’

Mr Johnson has also sought to cast doubt on the findings of Sue Gray’s report on partygate, after she quit the civil service because she intends to take up a role as Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer’s chief of staff.

Backers have also sought to question the impartiality of Ms Harman.

Ex-minister Conor Burns, an ally of Mr Johnson, said: “Boris Johnson’s contention is that what he told the House of Commons was, to the best information supplied to him, true when he told that to parliament.

“I welcome the fact that he is going to bring forward evidence to back up that.”

Tory peer Lord Greenhalgh told Times Radio: “I’m concerned that it will be a witch hunt.”

Current ministers refused to be drawn on the committee process on Sunday.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman said she was an “admirer” of Mr Johnson, but would not comment further.

Cabinet Office minister Oliver Dowden said he expected Mr Johnson to give a “robust defence” of his actions.

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