Labour bid to permanently ban fracking in Scotland

The Scottish Government imposed a moratorium blocking fracking in January 2015.

Controversial: Fracking has been subject to a moratorium since 2015. <strong>PA</strong>
Controversial: Fracking has been subject to a moratorium since 2015. PA

Labour is set to bring forward a bill aimed at banning fracking in Scotland.

The Scottish Government introduced a moratorium in January 2015 but ministers have yet to decide whether the temporary ban should be made permanent.

Scottish Labour environment spokeswoman Claudia Beamish now intends to press ahead with a member’s bill to outlaw fracking.

She said: “The SNP has repeatedly failed to ban onshore fracking in Scotland – so Labour will do it.”

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Ms Beamish added: “The climate science is irrefutable. Scotland does not need a new fossil fuel as we shift towards a low-carbon economy.

“People across Scotland are also rightly concerned about the potential health implications of unconventional oil and gas extraction.

“This is about Scotland’s future, the air we breathe, the water we drink and the condition we leave our planet in for our children and our grandchildren.”

Environmental campaign group Friends of the Earth Scotland congratulated Beamish on winning cross-party support for her bill.

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However, a government spokeswoman said: “The Scottish Government has put in place a moratorium on ‘fracking’, which means no projects can currently take place here.

“The Scottish Government, reflecting widespread public concerns, has also taken a cautious and evidence-led approach to examining potential impacts of the activity.

“And the Scottish Government, following publication of independent research, has also given everyone with an interest in this important subject the opportunity to express their views via our four-month consultation, which closed on May 31.

“We have received around 60,000 responses – a very clear demonstration of the value of the strong public interest and our participative approach.

“We have said all along that the people of Scotland must have their say, and those who took the time to take part in our consultation deserve to be heard.

“That’s why a decision on the future of unconventional oil and gas will only be made after the responses to our consultation have been independently analysed, published and the Scottish Parliament has had an opportunity to vote on the recommendation we will make on whether this should be allowed in Scotland.

“As we have repeatedly made clear, the process will be completed before the end of 2017 and we are sticking to our commitment.”

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In June 2016 MSPs at Holyrood voted in favour of a Labour motion calling for an outright ban on fracking.

However, energy minister Paul Wheelhouse said at the time that the vote would “not deflect government” from its current policy.


Scotland records 67 new cases of virus in last 24 hours

A total of 39 cases recorded in Grampian area of the country.

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Coronavirus: A total of 67 new cases in Scotland.

Scotland has recorded 67 new cases of coronavirus in the last 24 hours.

A total of 39 cases were recorded in the Grampian area and 17 were in Greater Glasgow and Clyde.

There have been no deaths registered of people who have tested positive for the virus. It means the number of deaths under this measurement remains at 2491.

A total of 79 cases have now been associated with an outbreak in Aberdeen, having been 54 on Wednesday and 27 at the start of the week. The city is back in lockdown following a spike.

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A further 30 cases are currently being investigated as linked to the outbreak.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said at the Scottish Government’s daily press briefing: “Many of the cases that we’ve seen in recent days are of course linked to outbreaks, such as the one in Aberdeen and the one in Inverclyde last week, but it’s important to say that not all of these cases are linked to outbreaks.

“So we really must be on our guard and recognise what these figures are telling us, which is that this virus is still very much out there and circulating in Scotland.”

The range of the reproduction rate of the virus, the First Minister said, has risen to between 0.6 and one, compared to the most recent estimate of between 0.6 and 0.9.

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However, she said that, as the number of cases drop, the reproduction number becomes less reliable.

First Minister: Aberdeen city lockdown is a ‘wake-up call’

Nicola Sturgeon described the public as 'the first line of defence' in containing the virus.

First Minister: Nicola Sturgeon warns virus is still infectious and dangerous.

The First Minister has warned the lockdown in Aberdeen city is a “wake-up call” that the virus is still present and “dangerous” in Scotland.

Indoor and outdoor hospitality venues, including pubs, restaurants and cafes, have been ordered to close after a spike in Covid-19 cases.

The five-mile travel restriction has resumed for leisure and recreation, while residents have been told not to enter other people’s houses.

In an interview with STV News’ Kelly-Ann Woodland, Nicola Sturgeon described members of the public as “the first line of defence” in containing the virus, as she urged people to follow public health advice.

‘It’s still infectious. It’s still dangerous and Aberdeen is a really big wake-up call.’

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.
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She said: “I think there’s a really important message for the public here… the virus hasn’t gone away.

“We’ve had reducing numbers of cases, we’ve had thankfully reducing numbers of deaths, but it’s still out there.

“It’s still infectious. It’s still dangerous and Aberdeen is a really big wake-up call. People, all of us, every single one of us, as citizens, has a crucial part to play in keeping it under control.

“We’re the first line of defence, so it’s really about complying with all of that basic but so important health advice.”

Coronavirus: First Minister Nicola Sturgeon spoke to STV News’ Kelly-Ann Woodland.
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A total of 79 cases have now been associated with an outbreak in Aberdeen, having been 54 on Wednesday and 27 at the start of the week.

Sturgeon said taking these steps “give us the ability to stamp it out” and “protect the ability to get children back to school next week’.

She said: “We know this cluster in Aberdeen seems to be associated with the night time economy, people going to pubs, and therefore unfortunately closing hospitality for a period is another way of trying to help the Test and Protect teams get a grip of this and stop it spreading more widely but I never wanted to be in a position of doing this.”

School return ‘top priority’

Sturgeon described it as “hugely important” that children young people return to education full-time next week for the first time since schools closed on March 20.

“Young people have been out of school now since March,” Sturgeon said.

“The impact on children’s education, the impact on their wellbeing, the impact on their interaction with peers and friends is not insignificant and therefore my view is that the top priority now has to be to get young people back into education.

“If that means trade-offs elsewhere, if it means being a bit more precautionary when it comes to, as we have done in Aberdeen, closing down pubs for a period in order to protect that then I think that’s the action we’ve got to take.”

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Sturgeon said “we need to take great care in schools”, clarifying that the Scottish Government decisions had been informed by scientific advice.

Reflecting on her role leading Scotland through a pandemic, which saw the first case of the virus in Scotland on March 1, Sturgeon said it had been her “most difficult period” as First Minister.

However, she said it was important not to lose sight of the human impact of the situation.

She said: “I try to focus on doing that job as much as possible, be as professional and as decisive as I can be but I’ve also tried particularly during the period where we were experiencing large numbers of people dying every day and every week not to get into the position where the determination to do the job professionally made me immune to or lose sight of the human impact of all of this.”

Sturgeon added: “I’ve not got every decision right and I’ve not got it right at every turn and I will reflect on these decisions… probably for as long as I live.”

The First Minister and education secretary John Swinney have come under fire this week after the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) downgraded 124,564 results.

Results were worked out using estimates made by teachers based on the pupil’s performance over the school year. However, the national moderation system meant that many students received lower grades than originally estimated.

The Scottish Conservatives said the government should have “trusted” the teachers’ estimates as they are “far better placed than an SQA moderator to give an accurate estimation of the grade their pupils deserve”.

While Ross Greer, the education spokesperson for the Scottish Greens, branded the grading system “disturbing and grossly unequal”.


Three prisoners killed child abduction suspect in cell attack

Craig Derrick, Brian Laing and David Till attacked Darren Brownlie in a cell in HMP Low Moss.

Death: Darren Brownlie was attacked in a cell at HMP Low Moss.

Three prisoners who killed a child abduction suspect have been sentenced to a total of almost 19 years.

Craig Derrick, 31, Brian Laing, 27, and David Till, 33, attacked Darren Brownlie in a cell in HMP Low Moss on January 6 this year.

The 47 year-old, who was awaiting trial for attempting to abduct a six-year-old boy from a car, was kicked and punched during a 66-second assault.

Brownlie had also been accused of ripping off other inmates by swapping prescription drugs for legal highs.

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A judge heard how it took five hours for him to get medical help, but he died due to a ruptured spleen as well as having broken ribs.

The attackers were sentenced on Thursday at the High Court in Glasgow having all earlier admitted to a charge of culpable homicide.

Laing and Till were each sentenced to six years and nine months. Derrick was handed a six year term.

All three will be monitored for a further two years on their release.

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Lord Matthews said: “Plainly this was an attack that was planned with all three of you knowing what was to be done.”

The judge said the death will be the subject of a fatal accident inquiry and that Brownlie’s family “will undoubtedly have a large amount of questions” into the circumstances.

The court earlier heard how Brownlie had been summoned to Derrick’s cell and attacked.

Prosecutor Paul Kearney said: “He had a number of injuries to his face and was bleeding heavily from his nose.

“He was examined by a nurse who suspected he had broken ribs.”

An ambulance was called for at 5.28pm, but it was not until 10.13pm that paramedics arrived to treat an unresponsive Brownlie.

An accident and emergency consultant later concluded that had Brownlie received treatment and then surgery on time “in all probability” he would have lived.

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The court was told the attackers had not meant for Brownlie to have died.

Brownlie’s family earlier this week described his death as “torturous” and that there had been a “combined failure by all services” who had a “duty of care” towards him.


Pupils to protest outside SQA offices over exam results

Organisers say pupils living in areas of high deprivation have been unfairly impacted by downgraded marks.

Exams: Teachers recommendations were downgraded.

School pupils will hold a protest outside the Scottish Qualification Authority (SQA) offices to highlight the impact of the recent exam result decisions.

Organisers of the demonstration, which will be held on Friday, say pupils living in areas of high deprivation have been unfairly impacted by downgraded marks handed out earlier this week.

The pass rate of pupils in the most deprived data zones was reduced by 15.2% from teacher estimates after the exam board’s moderation.

In contrast, the pass rate for pupils from the most affluent backgrounds dropped by 6.9%.

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Erin Bleakley, who planned the protest, says someone’s background or school should not be a barrier to their future prospects.

The 17-year-old St Andrews School Pupil said: “We deserve the same life chances as young people in affluent areas.

“How can anyone expect to close the attainment gap when your hard work can be wiped out based on your postcode?

“There needs to be recognition that living somewhere that is termed an area of deprivation should not be something that prevents young people from progressing to further or higher education.”

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St Andrew’s high school is in Carntyne, Glasgow, which earlier this year was identified as being the second most deprived area in the country, according to the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation.

Erin said she was already feeling nervous before her grades came out, and more so when she heard about the moderation system brought in when exams were cancelled due to coronavirus.

She said: “I did not think it was fair that we were being marked down on how past pupils had performed as we are all individuals.”

An SQA spokesman said: “This year’s results will be cause for celebration for many people but disappointment for others. While this is a strong set of results overall – up on 2019 – this year is no different.

“We would advise young people who feel they haven’t got the grades they hoped for to speak to their school or college first.

“Our appeals process this year will be based solely on the evidence presented by the school or college, for that individual candidate, on a case-by-case basis.

“The most disadvantaged young people have achieved better results in 2020 compared to both 2019 and the average results for the last four years.

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“At grades A to C, the attainment gap between the most and least disadvantaged young people is also narrower this year for National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher than for last year or the average gap for the last four years.”

The protest is set to take place outside the SQA offices in Glasgow from 8.30am on Friday.


Aberdeen lockdown: Contact tracing ahead of school return

The city is back in lockdown after 54 cases were detected and 191 contacts were traced.

Lockdown: Measures reintroduced in Aberdeen.

Contact tracing is continuing in Aberdeen amid a coronavirus outbreak which caused lockdown measures to be reintroduced on Wednesday.

The Scottish Government’s health secretary said schools reopening in the city as scheduled next Tuesday is a priority but warned additional measures may be required if necessary.

The new restrictions ordered all indoor and outdoor hospitality venues to close by 5pm on Wednesday, prevent residents visiting each other’s homes and impose a five-mile travel limit.

Jeane Freeman confirmed on Thursday morning the latest known figures of 54 cases in the city with 191 contacts traced so far.

Pubs closed their doors in Aberdeen.
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She also told the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland it was important to recognise the complexity of the cluster – in comparison with similar outbreaks in Inverclyde and Lanarkshire – with the number of venues involved.

Freeman said: “It is unlikely that one person has been to all 28 or so venues that have been named – what is more likely is that more than one person has been to more than one venue.

Locals react to the new lockdown in Aberdeen.

“That is part of the complexity of this, the nature of it if you think about some of the other outbreaks that we have responded to, and traced right through to the end of the transmission chain.

“In some ways, they’re all very very important but in some ways they have been less complex than this, which is largely centred around the night-time economy in Aberdeen and could be the night-time economy in any city or town.

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“It is complicated to know exactly where everyone has been and that’s part of test and protect, which of course we need to remember is still under way, we’ve not concluded this yet.”

Asked about the process being carried out before schools in the city return next week, she said: “It depends on how quickly the technical problems can be resolved and importantly that our senior statistician confirms that he is confident that that data is robust.

Aberdeen city back in lockdown after outbreak.

“The priority is to get the schools back, we’re being really clear about that as a priority across the country as it’s one of the most important things that we that we do.

“If there is a need for additional measures to help us do that, either in the north east or anywhere else, then I think you’ve seen that we are prepared to take those additional steps.

Coronavirus.
Soul Bar was affected by the Covid cluster in the city.

“But right at the moment there is nothing to tell me that we need to do more in Aberdeen city that we have already done.”

Freeman also said discussions had taken place on Wednesday with leaders of both Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire councils.

City councillor Marie Boulton told the programme: “There was a suggestion that there could have been some community transference, so I think it was the right measures.

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“Some of the things such as closing cafes which maybe don’t sell alcohol, I think, perhaps were maybe a little harsh, because it certainly seems from the list of venues that is alcohol-related premises that we’ve seen spikes coming from.

“We’re in uncharted waters for everyone … this might be the wake-up call people that need to start to apply sensible behaviour when they’re out.”

Chris Littlejohn, NHS Grampian’s deputy director of public health, told the programme if people do not get a call from trace and protect they are not a close contact, regardless of whether they have been in any of the premises listed.

He added if the virus gets “half a chance it will spread like wildfire and that’s the real worry in this situation”.

Venues linked to outbreak

  1. Bieldside Inn                      
  2. Bobbin                                 
  3. Brewdog                             
  4. Buckie Farm Carvery      
  5. Café Andaluz                    
  6. Café Dag                              
  7. Café Drummond             
  8. The Cock & Bull        
  9. College Bar                        
  10. The Dutch Mill                             
  11. Dyce Carvery                    
  12. East End Social Club        
  13. Ferryhill House Hotel     
  14. The Hawthorn Bar
  15. The Howff                    
  16. The Justice Mill         
  17. The Marine Hotel (Stonehaven)      
  18. McGintys’s                        
  19. McNastys                           
  20. Malmaison                         
  21. Moonfish Café                 
  22. No.10 Bar                           
  23. O’Donoghues                   
  24. Old Bank Bar                     
  25. Prohibition                          
  26. Soul                                      
  27. Spiders Web                     
  28. The Draft Project

Leisure clubs linked to outbreak

  1. Aboyne Golf Club
  2. Deeside Golf Club
  3. Hazelhead Golf Club
  4. Banks O’ Dee Football Club

Woman, 55, dies at scene of two-vehicle smash

Man was also injured in the collision in Dumfries and Galloway.

Crash: Woman dies following collision on A75.

A woman has died following a two car crash on the A75.

The 55-year-old was pronounced dead at the scene of the incident that took place near Annan in Dumfries and Galloway.

A 52-year-old man has been left seriously injured following the collision involving a grey Volkswagen Golf and a white Nissan Qashqai.

Emergency services attended after the crash was reported at around 4.30pm on Wednesday.

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The man, who was driving the Volkswagen, was taken to hospital by air ambulance.

The road was closed for around eight hours as a result before being reopened just after midnight.

Police are now appealing for information.

Sergeant Lloyd Caven, of Dumfries and Galloway Road Policing Unit, said: “Our thoughts go out to the family and friends of those involved with this tragic incident.

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“Our inquiries are ongoing into the exact circumstances surrounding the crash and we would ask that if anyone was in the area at the time of the incident that they contact officers.

“I would also ask that if anyone has any possible dashcam footage of the area to get in touch with police.

“Anyone with information can contact police on 101.”


Helicopter launched to aid Rest And Be Thankful clear-up

Around 6000 tonnes of debris hit the road amid heavy rainfall across Argyll and Bute on Tuesday.

A helicopter is being used to clear a 100-tonne boulder from above the A83 Rest And Be Thankful as efforts to clear a large landslip continue.

Landslips hit the road amid heavy rainfall across Argyll and Bute on Tuesday, with 6000 tonnes of debris sliding down a hillside and blocking the route.

Assessments of damage are continuing on Thursday with a team of 42 people working on the road and managing traffic diversions.

Overnight, around 100 tonnes of further material reached the A83 roadside via a steep channel created in Tuesday evening’s landslip.

Heavy rain caused landslip.
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A large boulder, approximately 100 tonnes in size, was exposed in one of the steep channels above the A83 and a helicopter is using water bags to manoeuvre it into a safe location.

Road management and maintenance organisation BEAR Scotland said teams are working to clear the roads with “dedicated personnel scanning the hillside for safety to check that no further material could impact on operations below”.

The A83 and the Old Military Road (OMR), previously used as an alternative route when the main road is impassable, remain closed.

Western Ferries has also added additional sailings between Gourock and Dunoon to aid travel.

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Eddie Ross, BEAR Scotland’s north-west representative, said: “We have rigorous geotechnical assessments under way on the site and are continuing investigations into how this area has been impacted by Tuesday’s landslide.

“A helicopter is being used to address a large boulder exposed on the hillside which is in the process of being made safe.

“We have a good weather window today so we’re pressing on as much as we can with the clear-up of the OMR and also to clear more material from the A83 so we can fully assess the extent of the damage.”

He added: “This is a challenging process due to the amount of debris exposed and the embankments are being carefully monitored by personnel trained in scanning the hillside to alert for any further movements on the slope which could impact on any operations below.

“All efforts are in place to address the landslip as quickly as possible, however safety is paramount and we cannot open either the OMR or the A83 until we are absolutely satisfied that the routes are safe.”


Douglas Ross Q&A: Scots Tory leader on challenges ahead

Moray MP outlines his stance on tackling coronavirus, Scottish indepedence and next year's Holyrood election.

Newly appointed Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross faces a daunting political agenda in the coming months.

Whether it’s the economic and public health implications of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, quelling a rise in support for Scottish independence, or setting out his stall for next year’s Holyrood election, Ross will not be afforded the luxury of settling into his new role.

Currently an MP for Moray, Ross says he plans to keep his place in Westminster after “making a commitment” to constituents to see out his five-year term.

He plans to contest his old seat – the Highlands and Islands – at next year’s Holyrood election, having previously represented the area in the Scottish Parliament.

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Ross spoke to STV’s Political Editor Colin Mackay in his Moray constituency.

What is your reaction to the latest lockdown measures in Aberdeen?

It’s very concerning, the increase in the number of cases now up to 54, it’s a clear message that this virus has not left Scotland or the UK; it’s still very much present here. The restrictions that have been reintroduced and will be reviewed again in seven days shows how important it is that we continue to work as communities and individuals to stop the spread of this virus and I think it’s also important that the UK and Scottish Governments continue to work together to fight the virus, to save lives and livelihoods.

As Scottish Conservative leader, you’ll be in Westminster. You won’t be able to hold the Scottish Government to account over this, you’re going to be largely irrelevant and the big on the biggest issue, aren’t you?

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Well, as you know Colin, (former Scottish Conservative leader) Ruth Davidson has agreed to come back in and field First Minister’s Questions but I’m from Scotland, we’re here in Moray today, I’ll be very present for the next nine months ahead of the general election campaign for the Scottish Parliament and you’ll be hearing a lot from me on important matters such as the increase in restrictions in Aberdeen but other policies going forward as well.

But it will be like you’re shouting from the sideline won’t it?

Colin, you’ll know very well that this is a tried and tested method. Obviously, Alex Salmond was an MSP, an MP, leader of the SNP.

But you’re not Alex Salmond.

Well no, there are differences between me and Alex Salmond and I think that’s positive but there’s a precedent there that people could do that and have done that in the past.

Also, Nicola Sturgeon when that was the case, was deputy leader of the SNP. Ruth Davidson’s not going to be your deputy leader is she? You’ve got two deputy leaders in Holyrood (Annie Wells MSP and Liam Kerr MSP), you’re completely ignoring them.

No, I’m not and it was up to anyone in the Scottish Conservative, if they wished to put themselves forward. Obviously, earlier on today it was announced that I was the only candidate with the required nominations to stand for leader of the Scottish Conservatives. And over the next few days, after a discussion I’ve had with the MSP group earlier on today I’ll be reviewing the positions within the shadow cabinet and throughout the party and looking to get the best team on the pitch ahead of the elections next May.

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You left Holyrood for the Commons, Ruth Davidson is about to leave Holyrood to go to the Lords. Is the Scottish Parliament second best for the Conservatives?

Absolutely not and what the Scottish Parliament should be about is the debate and the aspiration for the future of Scotland and what we’ve seen over the last six years since the independence referendum is division and discord across Scotland. I want to get away from that and have a positive message on the economy, on the health service, on education. That’s what we should be focusing on and we’ll be doing in the Scottish Parliament.

Which suggests you’ve had a negative message thus far and it hasn’t worked for you. Are you a change of leader for the next election or is this for another independence referendum?

No, this is absolutely, we shouldn’t be looking at the division of the past, we settled that once-in-a-generation argument just six years ago and what we shouldn’t keep doing is going back to that constitutional argument because that suits the SNP, that suits the Scottish Government, because it doesn’t then shine a light on their domestic record, which when you look at education, the NHS, the economy, there are major issues on those domestic policies that we should be challenging the SNP on, to lift the debate to the challenges this country faces.


Court sides against Madeleine suspect in rape appeal bid

Christian B has appealed against his 2005 rape conviction of a 72-year-old woman in Portugal.

Appeal: Court upholds rape conviction.

A man suspected of abducting Madeleine McCann has had his bid to overturn a rape conviction halted by a European court. 

German investigators believe Christian B killed Madeleine, then three, after abducting her from a holiday apartment in Praia da Luz in May 2007.

The 43-year-old, who is servicing a prison sentence in Germany for drug trafficking, appealed against his 2005 rape conviction of a 72-year-old American woman at the same Portuguese resort.

He was sentenced to seven years in jail for the crime. 

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The case, at the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in Luxembourg, hinges on a legal point relating to his extradition to Germany from Portugal and later Italy.

According to court documents, Brueckner was extradited from Portugal for sexually abusing a minor in June 2017, then travelled to the Netherlands and Italy whilst still on probation after his release.

He was extradited to Germany from Italy in October 2018 on a warrant for drug trafficking before being tried and convicted of rape and extortion in December last year.

His legal challenge centres on whether the German authorities needed Portugal’s consent to bring rape proceedings because of the 2017 extradition.

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Italy had agreed he could be tried for rape and extortion in Germany.

A preliminary opinion by Advocate General Michal Bobek, which is not binding, on Thursday said the consent of only the Italian authorities was needed for the Germans to carry out their proceedings legally.

It comes ahead of a final decision by ECJ judges at a later date.

German prosecutor Julia Meyer told the PA news agency: “The advocate general shares our opinion.

“We are pleased and wait for the decision of the court the next few weeks.”

He is serving his sentence for drug trafficking until early next year and will be in custody until 2027 if his appeal against the rape conviction fails.

German prosecutor Hans Christian Wolters, who is leading the Madeleine investigation, has previously said investigators have “concrete evidence”, but not “forensic evidence” that he killed her.

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Speaking about the appeal, he earlier told PA: “Ultimately, we cannot influence the decision because it is not related to the McCann investigation.

“This does not affect our investigations, but of course we would like to know where our suspect is.

“As long as he is in custody, we know this.”

Last week German police reportedly discovered the remains of a hidden cellar among foundations of a former cabin following a three-day search of a garden plot on the outskirts of Hanover.

The Metropolitan Police maintain their active investigation into Madeleine’s disappearance, Operation Grange, is a missing person inquiry as there is no “definitive evidence whether Madeleine is alive or dead”. 


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