JK Rowling offers support for Prime Minister Gordon Brown

By Michael MacLeod

BELEAGURED PM Gordon Brown conjured up some unexpected support yesterday – from Harry Potter author JK Rowling.

The Prime Minister is under increasing pressure after leaks about cabinet members’ expenses appeared as if by magic yesterday.

MAGIC: JK Rowling backs Gordon Brown

MAGIC: JK Rowling backs Gordon Brown

But like a Quidditch pro on a flying broomstick, spellbound Rowling swooped to his defence, heaping praise on her fellow Scot.

A day after David Cameron demanded Brown call an election, the megabucks writer said she would vote for Brown if the Tory leader’s fantasy became reality.

She said: “The 58-year-old Brown is frequently dubbed “dour”.

Loyal

“I know him as affable, funny and gregarious, a great listener, a kind and loyal friend.

“These are strange and turbulent times, but issues of fairness, equality and protection of the poor have never been more important.

“I still want Gordon Brown in charge.”

The Harry Potter author – who donated £1 million to the Labour Party last September – is a lone voice of support amid a storm of criticism of Brown’s leadership. Continue reading

Scotch Whisky exports earn UK staggering £97 a second

By SHAUN MILNE

SCOTLAND’S whisky exports are earning the UK a staggering £97 a second, it was revealed today (Friday).

The national drink has also set a new record of £3 BILLION sales in a year – working out at 1080 million bottles.whisky

And a breakdown of figures shows the French apparently losing their thirst for wine and brandy and turning instead to the water of life with the value of exports there up a mouth-watering 22 per cent.

The figures, published for the Scotch Whisky Association, reveal exports of malt whisky for 2008 topped £497m – up 9% on the previous year.

Blended whiskies were also up 9% at £2.43 billion. Scotch Whisky Association chairman Paul Walsh said he was pleased by the figures. Continue reading

Edinburgh derby referee Steve Conroy shrugs off bravery

By SHAUN MILNE

TOP Scots whistler Steve Conroy shrugged off his bravery in stopping crazed Hearts supporters from reaching Hibs star Derek Riordan in Thursday night’s fiery Edinburgh derby saying he feared there could have been a RIOT if he didn’t step in.

The Grade A referee shielded Riordan from the angry fan, grabbing him by the jacket and pushing him away as two others were despatched from the field by raging Hearts players.

But with jubilant Hibs supporters also spilling onto the pitch nearby after Riordan scored what turned out to be a match winning penalty against all the odds, brave Steve only had a split second to decide what to do to stop the match ending in a battle.

He said: “To be honest, it was just a natural reaction.” Continue reading

Peter Mandelson confronted over MPs expenses claims

By Oliver Farrimond

LORD Mandelson has reacted furiously to suggestions that his expense claims, published today, amount to a defrauding of the British taxpayer.

The Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform was bustled into his private van by his press team yesterday after being confronted about the scandal during a visit to a Scottish life sciences company.

When asked if he felt any personal responsibility for the crisis, Lord Mandelson replied: “I think what people need to focus on is not the attempt by one newspaper to besmirch politicians as a whole.

“Instead we need to concentrate on what politicians believe in, what they stand for and what they are doing for the country. Continue reading

Scots artist leaves £3 million will

John Houston

By ALEXANDER LAWRIE

A SCOTS artist once considered one of the country’s finest post-war landscape artists has left his entire £3million fortune to his wife.

But John Houston OBE plans for organizations supporting artists to eventually benefit from his works.

Mr Houston, who was born in the small Fife town of Buckhaven and was once capped for the Scottish international U-21 football team, passed away aged 78 last September.

Included in his legacy is his share of the family home in Edinburgh valued at an estimated £750,000, cash, shares and investments worth over £1 million, as well as his prized Mercedes Benz motorcar.

Throughout his life he continually championed art in his home country, collected scores of awards and titles, and was known for his intense, atmospheric landscapes exploring the dramatic effects of weather and light.

Continue reading

Taxis install chip and pin machines

Taxi Chip n Pin

By ALEXANDER LAWRIE

CABBIES hope to put a stop to customers who run off without paying – by installing new chip and pin machines in their taxis.

An Edinburgh taxi firm has now installed the credit card readers in around 70 per cent of its fleet of cars.

ComCab claim the move will also benefit lone female passengers who will no longer have to seek out a cash machine before hailing a black cab home.

And for the hard-up cabbies there is an added option to add a little extra on to the fare.

Continue reading

The View help save The Doghouse

The View

By ALEXANDER LAWRIE

THE VENUE which helped launch Scots rockers The View is to reopen after the band helped it raise thousands of pounds.

The Doghouse in Dundee was forced to close in March due to mounting debts, but its walls will be rocking again after the Hats Off to the Buskers stars helped out.

The band appeared at the city’s Fat Sam’s last week in a successful fundraising mission.

And the venue will mark its reopening this weekend with a two night musical extravaganza.

Continue reading

Trekkies vote Captain Kirk as the best

By ALEXANDER LAWRIE

CAPTAIN Kirk has been voted the best Star Trek captain ever to beam aboard the Starship Enterprise.

Actor William Shatner, who played the dashing space chief in the 1960s, managed to beat off stiff competition from the Shakespearean actor Partick Stewart who has played Captain Jean-Luc Picard from 1987.

Trekkies said they loved Kirk’s swashbuckling sense of adventure and his way with the ladies when they voted him as their number one.

Kate Mulgrew who made history by becoming the Starship Enterprise’s first female captain during the 1990’s came a creditable third.

Continue reading

Hearts FC ban shamed fans after pitch invasion against Hibs

By SHAUN MILNE & PAUL THORNTON

TWO Hearts fans who shamed their side after running onto the pitch at Tynecastle during Thursday night’s live televised Edinburgh derby against Hibs have been banned indefinitely by furious club chiefs.

Managing Director Campbell Ogilvie lashed their conduct as “unacceptable” and said the pair had disrespected the Edinburgh side which only recently introduced a strict fans’ code of conduct enshrined by its Supporters Charter.

He said they would be shown the door immediately, missing out on one of the most exciting SPL run-ins for years as the SPL side bids for a last remaining Europa cup place.

The shamed pair ran onto the pitch after striker Derek Riordan scored a penalty for Hibs in the last quarter of the match.

BANNED: Hearts fan Robert Philips faces possible jail term

BANNED: Hearts fan Robert Philips faces possible jail term

They were unmasked yesterday as Robert Philips, 25, an electrician from Edinburgh who was warned he now faces jail and Ryan Wyllie, 16, a trainee plumber who was ordered to pay a fine.

Wyllie will also automatically be stripped of his season ticket.

Both appeared in court separately yesterday.

In a tersely worded statement, Mr Campbell said: “We have acted quickly with the police to identify two supporters who entered the playing area during the game. Continue reading