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Carmichael admits leaking controversial memo

Alistair Carmichael MP has taken full responsibility for the leaking of the controversial memo in April.NORTHERN isles MP Alistair Carmichael has admitted responsibility for the controversial leaked memo suggesting Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon told the French ambassador she hoped for a Conservative victory in the general election.

On Friday Carmichael, who was secretary of state for Scotland in April when the memo was leaked to the Daily Telegraph, apologised to the first minister and the ambassador Sylvie Bermann.

He has also turned down the three month’s severance pay he would expect as a former Cabinet minister in the UK government after losing his position following the election result.

New deal wins isles firm more business

Ocean Kinetics managing director John Henderson - Photo: John CouttsSHETLAND engineering firm Ocean Kinetics is teaming up with international welding and fabrication company Serimax in a bid to win more work from the oil and gas sector.

The Lerwick business said it was perfectly located to offer significant savings to North Sea and West of Shetland operators.

The agreement with Serimax, whose UK base is at Evanton on the Cromarty Firth, was one outcome from a recent showcase event organised by trade group Energy North with support from development agency HIE.

Row opens up over unsellable fish

Haddock landed at Lerwick fish market.SHETLAND’S fishing leaders have warned the Scottish government will be breaking the law if they do not help fishermen dispose of unsellable whitefish when the new discard ban becomes law next year.

On Thursday Scottish Tory MEP Ian Duncan demanded “an urgent explanation” from Marine Scotland after Shetland Fishermen’s Association told him the government was shirking its legal responsibilities.

Scott urges fire service to act on recruitment

Urgent action is needed to address the shortage of retained fire fighters in Shetland - Photo: Austin TaylorLOCAL MSP Tavish Scott has again stressed the need for action to address the shortage of retained firefighters in Shetland.

His comments came in response to an Audit Scotland report into the merger of Scotland's eight fire and rescue services, which was published on Thursday morning.

The financial watchdog said the controversial merger was managed effectively and found the new Scottish Fire and Rescue Service's performance to be improving.

Shetland to host Global Classroom meeting

Shetland students, Kaylee Mouat (right) and Hannah Budge, with Phi-Luan Chung from Diepholz, Germany, enjoying the view from the Bata Tower in Zlin, Czech Republic at the 2014 Global Classroom Conference - Photo: SICAROUND 60 school pupils and staff from across the world will visit Shetland in June as the isles hosts this year's Global Classroom Conference.

Youths from as far flung as Australia and South Africa will take the trip to Shetland for the educational project's 19th annual conference.

Buoyant markets help SIC reserves to recover

Lerwick Town Hall - Photo: ShetNewsFOLLOWING years of declining funds, Shetland Islands Council's reserves seem to have turned a corner and have grown by a massive £74 million to £278 million during the last financial year.

The local authority's pension pot meanwhile has increased by £34 million to reach £367 million in the same year.

Monday’s court round-up

A FORTY two year old man is being held in custody until next week after he pled guilty to charges of threatening behaviour by brandishing a knife and possessing diazepam, a class C drug at an address in Lerwick on Saturday.

Lerwick Sheriff Court heard that Paul Macklin, of 14 Hogalee, Scalloway, was in the process of moving to Aberdeen when he returned to Shetland with friends to gather his and his girlfriend's belongings.

Following a night out the group ended up at the address in Lerwick where Macklin became drunk on spirits.

Pupils design local flag for Parliament Square

South Nesting flagA FLAG created by pupils from Nesting Primary School will fly in London's Parliament Square this week.

The school was selected to represent Shetland and Orkney in a UK-wide project that will see flags from 80 primaries across the country go on display to mark the 750th anniversary of the Montfort parliament, when representative of the towns and shires came together for the first time.

Drink driver admits killing father of three

A DRUNKEN partygoer who knocked down and killed a father as he walked home from a party last summer pled guilty to causing death by drink driving at the High Court in Glasgow on Friday.

The court heard that 21 year old John Pottinger, known as Jamie, from South Whiteness, was so drunk he stalled his Volkswagen Golf eight times before he set off on his fatal drive on 15 June.

Pottinger had been at a disco at the Burra public hall after a day of drinking, and was seen at 11.30pm drinking lager from his boot.

Later he struck and killed 39 year old George Armour who had been at the disco with members of his family. He leaves behind a partner, a nine year old son and two step sons.

Pair stole from friend days after his death

SENTENCE has been deferred on a Lerwick couple who admitted they stole from the house of a friend who had died in “tragic circumstances” only two days before.

On Thursday Lerwick Sheriff Court heard that David McKinnon, of Hoofields, and his partner Kelly Ann Ross, from Ladies Drive, took a games console and a necklace from the property on 29 July last year.

Procurator fiscal Duncan Mackenzie said the pair went to the house at Grodians, in Lerwick, shortly after the man’s death.

Devo committee backs isles control of seabed

A SCOTTISH government committee has backed calls for control of the seabed around Shetland to be passed to the local council, with Lerwick harbour going to the town’s port authority.

Shetland MSP Tavish Scott, who sits on Holyrood’s Devolution (Further Powers) Committee, has welcomed the recommendations to fully devolve the Crown Estate’s marine assets, which he personally fought hard for.

The committee has so far met 20 times and visited Lerwick in March as part of its response to the UK government’s draft Scotland bill, which will be presented later this month in the Queen’s Speech at Westminster.

A jump off the ‘Edge of the World’

'The moment you jump, you are both dead and live at the same time' - all photos: Simon BrentfordTWO thrill-seekers have performed what they believe is the UK's most remote base jump.

Simon Brentford and Darren Stafford jumped off a 930ft cliff at Nebbifield, on the isle of Foula, last month before launching parachutes.

Broadband slow due to huge demand

HIE chairman Lorne Crerar and local area manager Rachel Hunter in Lerwick on Wednesday - Photo: Hans J MarterTHE UPTAKE of superfast broadband in Shetland has been higher than in any other area across the highlands and islands, resulting in a dramatic drop of internet speeds across the isles.

Telecom giant BT has confirmed that its engineers were drawing up an urgent action plan to address the issue.

Last October, around 4,000 households in Lerwick, Quarff and Sumburgh were the first in Shetland to be connected to broadband speeds of up to 80 Mbps.

Pilot Gray recalls harrowing time in Nepal

Villagers with nowhere to live anymore crowd the helicopter - all photos: Dougie GrayA SECOND powerful earthquake hit Nepal on Tuesday, just days after Shetland helicopter pilot Dougie Gray had left the country for the safety of Australia.

Gray, who has been working for helicopter airline Shree Ltd, has criticised his employer as well Nepalese officialdom for the ineffectiveness of getting aid to tens of thousands of people in desperate need.

Dinsdale: ‘…it's absolutely disgusting!’

The extent of the problem on the old Scalloway road - Photos: SICSHETLAND Islands Council is stepping up its campaign to clean the islands of dog fouling.

Over the next few weeks environmental health officers will be out in strength patrolling hot spots and spraypainting stencils on pavements telling dog owners to "clean it up".

Skene: SNP not a 'foreign, centralising force'

Danus Skene prior to the Althing debate in Tingwall last month. Photo: ShetnewsTHERE is “no way” the Scottish government can defend local authorities and individuals in Scotland from the impact of the next round of Tory spending cuts, according to the man who very nearly won the Northern Isles seat for the SNP.

Danus Skene, who came within 816 votes of ousting Lib Dem Alistair Carmichael last week, warned there is “bound to be a further assault” from Conservative chancellor George Osborne.

The 71 year old is “not looking for” the nomination to take on Tavish Scott in next year’s Holyrood elections because of “sheer age”.

Isles MP fears trouble ahead under Tories

Newly re-elected MP Alistair Carmichael at the count on Friday morning. Photo: ShetnewsALISTAIR Carmichael has warned that the country faces “a difficult five years ahead” after David Cameron’s Tories won a majority in last week’s UK General Election.

The newly re-elected MP, albeit on a drastically reduced share of the vote, has faced much criticism over the Liberal Democrats’ role in coalition with the Conservatives since 2010.

Gabby's new café to help asylum seekers

Gabby Cluness (right) and her friend Angela Ireland are setting up a cafe in Glasgow's south side to help asylum seekers to integrate.A WOMAN from Shetland is starting up a new café in Glasgow’s south side to work with female asylum seekers and refugees to help them integrate into society.

Gabby Cluness, who grew up on the West Side of the islands, has teamed up with a friend, Angela Ireland from Inverness, to get the social enterprise project up and running.

After spending the past year or so looking for a suitable venue, last week the pair received confirmation that they are able to use a venue in the city’s Victoria Road. The café is to be called MILK, and they have started a fundraising effort to help with the start-up costs

Carmichael retains seat despite SNP 'tsunami'

ALISTAIR Carmichael has staved off the challenge from SNP candidate Danus Skene to hold onto the Orkney & Shetland constituency for the Liberal Democrats by a considerably reduced margin of 817 votes.

It leaves him as the only Lib Dem MP left standing in Scotland following an extraordinary General Election night which saw the SNP sweep virtually all before them north of the border.

2015 General Election voting under way

Polling stations are open until 10pm - Photo: ShetNewsPOLLING stations have been open since 7am in one of the closest-fought general elections in recent times.

By 5pm one third of Shetland's 15,000 voters had already been to the polling booths.

More than 34,000 islanders are being asked to choose from five candidates for the Orkney and Shetland seat, which has been a Liberal seat since 1950.

Election: candidates have say on food parcels

CANDIDATES for the Orkney & Shetland general election constituency have clashed over the UK and Scottish governments’ role in the expansion of food banks in recent years.

Shetland News asked each of the five candidates to respond to new figures released by the Salvation Army this week.

They demonstrated a more than 40 per cent increase in the number of food parcels handed out in the isles between January and April this year compared to the corresponding period in 2014.

Renewed calls for lower Loganair fares

Two of the new Saab 2000 aircraft brought in by Loganair last year.FLYBE and Loganair need to introduce “more imaginative pricing” and provide more seats at lower fares on flights in and out of Shetland, according to isles MSP Tavish Scott.

A growing number of islanders are questioning why fares remain so high despite a huge tumble in oil prices, a boom in the number of passengers travelling through Sumburgh Airport and healthy profits for Loganair.

In November the airline, which has operated the Northern Isles franchise on behalf of Flybe since 2008, announced annual profits of £6 million on an £87.5 million turnover.

Shetland Catch focusing on Far East

Shetland Catch stand at the 2015 Seafood Expo in Brussels - all photos: Shetland CatchPELAGIC fish processor Shetland Catch is working hard on developing new markets in the Far East to compensate for its loss of trade following EU sanctions against Russia and the near collapse of the Ukrainian market.

Last week it emerged that the amount of mackerel landed in Lerwick during the first three months of this year had halved to around 15,000 tonnes, while the export of frozen mackerel was also down.

Managing director Simon Leiper said the figures were not quite as dramatic as they appeared at first sight because this year's drop followed on from record landings last winter.

Another big rise in demand for food parcels

THERE has been a more than 40 per cent year-on-year rise in the number of food parcels being handed out in Shetland in the first four months of 2015.

Figures provided by the Lerwick-based, Salvation Army-run service show that 123 parcels have been distributed between January and April. That compares with 87 in the first four months of last year and 76 for the corresponding period in 2013.