Category Archive : Uncategorized


Tesco Bank to create 100 tech jobs at Edinburgh base

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Tesco Bank is to create 100 new technology jobs at its Edinburgh base.

The company is recruiting test, software and systems engineers, systems architects, solution designers, project managers, and IT and business analysts.

A further 20 jobs will be created in Newcastle as part of a wider investment in online banking.

This is in addition to 20 roles created when Tesco Bank announced Newcastle as the home for a new “leading-edge technology hub” in November.

David Bowerman, chief operations officer at Tesco Bank, said: “It’s an exciting time at Tesco Bank as we invest to develop propositions which better meet the needs of Tesco shoppers.

“We know there are deep talent pools in Edinburgh and Newcastle, and we hope to tap into these further.”


Sian Green-Lord has prosthetic leg made from Louis Vuitton bag

A woman who lost part of her leg when she was hit by a taxi in New York has made a prosthetic leg out of a vintage Louis Vuitton bag.

Sian Green-Lord, from Leicester, was walking with a friend in Manhattan on holiday when the vehicle mounted the kerb in 2013.

The aspiring model can now also wear high heels for the first time ever since the crash using her new leg, which was made using a vintage handbag.

Taxi driver, Faysal Himon, who has never faced criminal charges, blames a cyclist with whom he was having an argument just before the crash.


Battersea fatal shooting: Man arrested after Flamur Beqiri died

Flamur Beqiri,Image copyright

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Flamur Beqiri had a wife and young child

A man has been arrested on suspicion of murder after a 36-year-old was shot dead in front of his wife and child.

Flamur Beqiri, a Swedish national, died yards from his home in Battersea Church Road, south-west London, on Christmas Eve.

Police said the shooting could have been a “targeted attack”.

The 22-year-old suspect was held under a European Arrest Warrant at Copenhagen Airport on Monday pending extradition back to the UK, the Met said.

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The crime scene where Flamur Beqiri, 36, a father of one, was shot dead on 27 December 2019 in south-west London

Mr Beqiri was of Albanian heritage and had been living in London for four or five years.

The Met previously said it believed he may have been involved in some criminality in Sweden.

According to reports, Mr Beqiri is the brother of former Real Housewives Of Cheshire star Misse Beqiri.

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Flamur Beqiri was attacked just yards from his home in Battersea Church Road


NI Assembly members to get ‘unjustifiable’ pay rise – Michelle O’Neill

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Michelle O’Neill says MLAs had no input into the decision to increase pay

Northern Ireland’s deputy first minister has said an increase in the annual salary of Northern Ireland Assembly members is “unjustifiable”.

On Tuesday, it was revealed that MLAs are set to get a £1,000 pay increase.

The hike will see their pay increase from £49,500 to £50,500.

Michelle O’Neill tweeted that the pay is “set by and independent body, not by MLAs” and the assembly members had “no input into this decision, nor did they seek it”.

SDLP MLAs Pat Catney and Daniel McCrossan said they would be donating their pay rises to mental health charities.

A DUP spokesperson said: “It is right that MLAs do not take decisions on their pay and office cost allowances. We support the independence of this process.”

People Before Profit MLA Gerry Carroll said it was “a slap in the face to nurses who stood on freezing pickets for months for pay parity, and the civil service staff who are still taking industrial action to get what they deserve”.

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The assembly sat for the first time in three years on 11 January

MLAs were due to receive the extra money over the past three years, but the increase was blocked by the former NI Secretary of State Karen Bradley.

She was asked to withhold the money by the Assembly Commission because Stormont was in suspension.

But assembly members can now expect to see more money in their first pay packet following the return of devolution to Stormont.

The current rules on salaries and expenses were set by the Independent Financial Review Panel following a report it produced in March 2016, but the panel is not functioning at present.


New China virus: UK ‘to monitor passengers from China’

Airline passengers wait for their flight departures July 5, 2012 at London, England's Heathrow Airport in Terminal 3. Tourism in London is expected to surge when the 2012 Summer Olympics begins July 27, 2012. Heathrow is the busiest airport in the United Kingdom and the 4th busiest airport in the world.Image copyright
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Under the measures, Heathrow Airport would have an isolated area for flights from Wuhan

The UK is expected to begin monitoring flights arriving from China, as part of a series of precautionary measures after the spread of a new coronavirus.

The measures, set to be announced later, will apply to flights from Wuhan to London Heathrow.

According to government sources, Public Health England will upgrade the risk to the UK population from very low to low.

It comes as Chinese health officials warned the virus could mutate and spread further.

So far, there have been 440 confirmed cases and nine people have died.

Most cases have been in Wuhan, the city in China at the heart of the outbreak, but the virus has also spread to other Chinese cities.

A handful of cases have also been identified abroad, including in Japan and the United States. There have been no cases in Britain.

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At least 15 medical workers in Wuhan have also been infected with the virus

On Tuesday, authorities in China confirmed for the first time that human-to-human transmission of the virus had taken place.

Health team at airport

In its most recent update on Monday, the UK government said the risk to the population was “very low” while the risk to travellers to Wuhan was “low”.

The situation was “under constant review”, it said.

A government source has now told the BBC that Public Health England and the chief medical officer are expected to increase the risk level to the population to “low”.

And on Wednesday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock is also expected to put in place a series of “port measures” as a precaution which include:

  • A health team to meet each direct flight from Wuhan to London Heathrow
  • Passengers on flights will hear an announcement and be given a leaflet to encourage them to report if they are ill
  • Aircraft will land in an isolated area of Heathrow Terminal 4 that “better lends itself to any health contingencies”

It comes as the World Health Organization (WHO) will also consider on Wednesday whether to declare an international public health emergency over the virus – as it did with swine flu and Ebola.

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Matt Hancock is expected to implement the precautionary measures on Wednesday

Authorities in several countries, including Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Japan have stepped up screening of air passengers from Wuhan.

US authorities last week announced similar measures at airports in San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York. They have now announced plans to introduce similar measures at airports in Chicago and Atlanta this week.

The UK’s expected measures do not appear to include a medical screening of passengers at the airport for signs of the virus, as the UK did in 2014 following the Ebola outbreak.

Then, screening involved taking people’s temperatures to check whether they have a fever and asking several questions to assess their risk.

China – which is stepping up containment measures – has still not been able to confirm the exact source of the virus.

But the country’s National Health Commission vice-minister Li Bin said there was evidence that the disease was “mainly transmitted through the respiratory tract”.

A National Health Commission official admitted that the country was now at the “most critical stage” of prevention and control.

What we know so far about the Chinese coronavirus

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Media captionThe BBC’s online health editor talks us through what we know about the virus

This type of coronavirus is a new strain that hasn’t been seen in humans before, which means doctors still have lots to learn about it.

The first human cases were identified in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December 2019. There have not been any other suspected human cases reported prior to this.

The incubation period (how long it takes for symptoms to appear after catching the infection) is days, rather than weeks.

It is not yet known how or when the virus became infectious to people. Experts believe the first cases were transmitted by an animal.

Other coronaviruses, such as Sars and Mers, came from civet cats and camels respectively.

At the moment, there is no vaccine that can protect people against it, but researchers are looking to develop one.


Ross England: Vale of Glamorgan Tories ‘in limbo’ over candidacy

Ross England in Barry

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Ross England was suspended 12 weeks ago

Failure to decide if Ross England will remain as a Conservative assembly candidate is leaving his local party “in limbo”, its deputy chair has said.

Mr England was suspended in 2019 after news broke that his conduct as a witness led to the collapse of a trial.

Russell Spencer-Downe of the Vale of Glamorgan Conservative Association said there had been “no movement”.

The Welsh Conservatives said its investigation “will be concluded very soon”.

Mr England had worked for former Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns in his constituency office.

The aide was giving evidence in a rape trial in April 2018 when he made claims about the victim’s sexual history, which the complainant denied.

A judge accused him of sabotaging the trial.

A row over what Mr Cairns did and did not know about the case led to his resignation from his ministerial job.

Mr Spencer-Downe told BBC Wales the association was hoping for a “quick decision”.

“It’s the not knowing that is an issue,” he said.

“We’re stuck in a limbo where we can’t promote a candidate for the assembly elections because we don’t know if we’re keeping our original candidate or looking to reselect.”

He also said the association was not notified of Mr England’s suspension in October before it was made public.

“The association only found out through a member reading on Twitter our candidate had been suspended in the first instance.”

Communication from the party “wasn’t very good,” he said.

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Byron Davies said Ross England remained suspended from the party

Senior Tories in the assembly have questioned Mr England’s suitability to stand.

Paul Davies, Welsh Conservative Senedd group leader, has said Mr England “fell short” of the standards required of an assembly candidate for the party.

Darren Millar, vice-chairman of the Welsh Conservatives, has called for him to be “ejected” from the job if he does not resign.

Welsh Conservative chairman Byron Davies said: “Ross England is still suspended from the party and therefore as a candidate also, whilst our very thorough investigation continues.

“It will be concluded very soon.”

The Vale of Glamorgan is one of the Conservatives’ main target seats for the next assembly election, which takes place in May next year.


Space mission to reveal ‘Truths’ about climate change

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Artwork: Truths will work with other satellites to calibrate and validate their observations

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The UK is going to lead a space mission to get an absolute measurement of the light reflected off Earth’s surface.

The information will be used to calibrate the observations of other satellites, allowing their data to be compared more easily.

Called Truths, the new spacecraft was approved for development by European Space Agency member states in November.

Proponents of the mission expect its data to help reduce the uncertainty in projections of future climate change.

Scientists and engineers met on Tuesday to begin planning the project. Industry representatives from Britain, Switzerland, Greece, the Czech Republic and Romania gathered at Esa’s technical centre in Harwell, Oxfordshire.

The agency has allocated €32.4m (£27.7m) for the initial design phase, with the scientific lead on the mission to be taken by Britain’s National Physical Laboratory.

NPL is the UK’s “keeper of standards”.

It holds references for the kilogram, the metre, the second and all other units used in the international system (SI) of measurement.

The lab is the place you go, for example, if you want a precise description of the intensity of a light source – something it’s able to gauge using a device called a cryogenic radiometer.

And the aim of the Truths mission is to get one of these instruments into orbit.

Working in tandem with a hyperspectral camera, the radiometer will make a detailed map of the sunlight reflected off Earth’s surface – off its deserts, snowfields, forests and oceans.

The map should be of such exquisite quality that it’s expected to become the standard reference against which all other imaging spacecraft will want to adjust and correct their own observations.

This ought to make it a much simpler task to compare the pictures from different satellites, not just from those missions flying today but also from the ones that have long since been retired and whose data now sits in archives.

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Truths will take into orbit the primary standard used for the measurement of light

One of the other big goals of Truths is that in measuring the complete reflectance of the Earth globally, and doing it with such precision, it will establish a kind of “climate fingerprint” that a future version of the satellite, 10 to 15 years’ later, can then resample.

“By doing that we’ll be able to detect subtle changes much earlier than we can with our current observing system,” explained NPL’s Prof Nigel Fox.

“This will allow us to constrain and test the climate forecast models. So we’ll know earlier whether the predicted temperatures that the models are giving us are consistent or not with the observations.”

Invitations to tender for the design work will be sent out to industry shortly.

A grand plan for how to implement Truths must be ready for when the research ministers of Esa’s member states gather for their next major policy meeting in 2022.

The feasibility work will also need to produce a full costing for the project, likely to be in the region of €250-300m (£210-260m).

Barring technical showstoppers, the ministers should then green-light the mission for a targeted launch in 2026.

Britain will almost certainly bear the majority of the cost of implementing Truths.

The UK has been its leading advocate.

“It plays to our strengths,” said Beth Greenaway, the head of Earth observations and climate at the UK Space Agency. “NPL is remarkable. It does the standard time for the world; it does the standard metre. We like to think of ourselves leading on climate change so we should be providing the standard reference for Earth’s radiation budget.”

Truths is an acronym for Traceable Radiometry Underpinning Terrestrial- and Helio- Studies. It will be sensitive to light in the visible and near-infrared part of the electromagnetic spectrum.

Esa recently agreed to implement another UK-led mission called Forum which will map Earth’s radiation at longer wavelengths in the far-infrared. and follow me on Twitter: @BBCAmos


More than 6,000 victims on rape support waiting list

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Media captionElizabeth Letaief said she did not understand how traumatised she had been by her rape

More than 6,000 victims of rape or sexual assault are waiting to access face-to-face support from Rape Crisis centres across England and Wales.

The charity said there had been an “unprecedented demand” for specialist services since 2012 and has called for “sustainable long term resourcing”.

Victims’ Commissioner for England and Wales Dame Vera Baird QC said the waiting list was “really damaging”.

The government said it had given £32m of funding for the next three years.

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Katie Russell, from Rape Crisis, said victims and survivors were being “let down”

According to Rape Crisis England and Wales, which has 41 centres, there were 6,069 individuals, including 172 children, waiting for a specialist face-to-face service at the end of March 2019. In the same month two years previously, there were 4,000 on the list.

“We know counselling can be life-changing but often women have to wait a year or more to access that service and really we need more resourcing to increase capacity and that waiting time can be reduced,” said spokeswoman Katie Russell.

“We have had to close [some] waiting lists and that’s devastating.”

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Rape Crisis in numbers

Victims and survivors of sexual violence helped by Rape Crisis England and Wales

  • 80,000people were helped by Rape Crisis in 2018-19

  • 50,000The number of people the charity worked with in 2014-15

    Source: Rape Crisis England and Wales

    She said the massive increase in demand came in the wake of revelations about predatory sexual abuser Jimmy Savile and other high profile cases including the independent inquiry into child sex abuse.

    “Since about 2012 there’s been unprecedented need and demand for specialist rape crisis services across England and Wales, including the counselling, therapeutic services, helpline services and specialist advocacy that we offer.

    “To have to turn people away is heart-breaking and not what anyone wants to do – and even worse for the person who has found the courage or strength to come forward and then be told that that service isn’t there for them.”

    She said victims and survivors were being “let down at the moment” because of a “poorly operating” criminal justice system, which needed improving.

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    Elizabeth Letaief turned to the charity, Support After Rape and Sexual Violence Leeds, which is part of the Rape Crisis network

    ‘I felt like nothing’

    Elizabeth Letaief, from Leeds, was raped several years ago but has waived her anonymity to speak to the BBC.

    She said her ordeal left her with severe depression and she was described as “exhibiting the effects” of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

    “I couldn’t even say the word ‘rape’ really,” she said.

    Ms Letaief added: “I didn’t understand how traumatised I’d been and how it could affect health in different ways.

    “Before counselling I felt like nothing, I felt like I was to blame for what happened to me, I felt like I’d made some bad choices and I felt I didn’t need any investment.”

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    Under UK law, victims of sexual offences are given life long anonymity

    Ms Letaief turned to Rape Crisis and received 20 weeks of counselling. She subsequently founded the charity’s peer support group in her home city, which meets on a weekly basis.

    “It’s a different life completely,” she said.

    “I know there are experts to talk to if I need to but through the peer support group we can talk about painful things, learn from each other and it’s ok to have a bit of a wobble.

    “But I know there are people here who have my back if it ever gets bad and I can’t tell you how life changing that is.”

    Sexual offences in England and Wales

    Crimes reported to the police

    Ms Baird said Rape Crisis had a 17% increase in referrals this financial year and the huge waiting list was “extremely bad”.

    “Many of the people who come were assaulted over a year before, because it takes an enormous length of time to get over all this sense of shame and self-blame that goes with it to come forward.

    “So it’s really critical that when someone finally manages to muster that up then there is somebody there to say ‘yes come in, we can help you’.

    She said it was “really urgent that sustainable funding is increased” and echoed the charity’s calls for the government to make it a priority.

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    “Having a waiting list for people who work up the courage to contact Rape Crisis is really damaging,” said Dame Vera Baird QC

    “The government did put some rape crisis funding on a three-year basis instead of annually and that is a good thing and I commend that but it needs more money and it needs more sustainability.”

    The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) said it had increased funding “twice last year” in addition to giving £68m to police and crime commissioners to support all victims of crime.

    A spokesman said the MoJ remained committed to supporting victims of crime and would be consulting on “a new Victims’ Law” this year.


    Guildford pub bomb police face High Court threat over files

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    Getty archives show Bomb Squad Commander Bob Huntley with Home Secretary Roy Jenkins at the scene of the bombings

    Lawyers in the Guildford pub bombing inquest have threatened Surrey Police with High Court action over archives removed from a history centre.

    The Surrey History Centre records were deposited by ex Ch Supt Bob Bartlett.

    A memo seen by the BBC said police “seized” files and one “will be destroyed” while others were required to be destroyed after seven years.

    KRW Law have sought urgent confirmation the files still exist. Surrey Police said no files had been destroyed.

    The memo given to the BBC, and reported at the weekend, said police “entered the Surrey History Centre to recover any Guildford bombings related material” because of the resumed inquest into the deaths of five people in the IRA attacks.

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    Four soldiers and a civilian died in the first explosion at the Horse and Groom

    More than 65 were injured in the explosions and 11 people – the Guildford Four and Maguire Seven – were wrongly-convicted in what became known as one of Britain’s biggest miscarriages of justice.

    Files taken from Surrey History Centre in Woking that could be relevant to the pub bombings included information sheets on and photographs of wanted people from 1967 to 1974; a major incident handbook from the 1970s; a file dated 1973-75 covering actions in dealing with incendiary devices; and photographs of the interiors and exteriors of the two bombed pubs – the Horse and Groom and Seven Stars.

    Other material removed that related to the day-to-day operations of the force over decades included retirement certificates, pocketbooks and photographs of the Operations Rooms.

    ‘Removed by appointment’

    The letter from Christopher Stanley at KRW Law to Ian Pollard, senior investigating officer in charge of the Guildford pub bombings, requested confirmation that files were not going to be destroyed and if police intended to destroy material, they refrained.

    It also asked on what and whose authority the material was taken from the archive.

    The “failure to confirm the retention, independent auditing and storage of the material described in the BBC news report may result in an application to the High Court in Belfast,” it said.

    Surrey Police said the force stood by a comment issued last week in which it said archivists agreed the files would be removed “by appointment”.

    A statement said no files had been destroyed and material would be audited against relevant legal guidelines before being returned, where possible, to the history centre.

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    The bombs killed five people, injured 65 and saw 11 wrongly serve up to 15 years in jail

    After the BBC revealed the removal of the files, Surrey Police and Crime Commissioner David Munro said the actions of police were “entirely appropriate”, adding: “We have been informed that very little of the material in question relates to the Guildford pub bombings.”

    The complete list of files taken is not known, but from those listed in the memo, those that could be relevant to the bombings, based on date and subject, include the following:

    • Surrey Constabulary Major Incident Handbook c 1970s
    • Photograph album of interior and exterior views of the Horse and Groom after the IRA bomb, 5-6 October 1974
    • Photograph album of interior and exterior views of the Seven Stars after the IRA bomb, 5-6 October 1974
    • Photographs of the aftermath of the Guildford pub bombings by Terry Fincher, copyright Photographers International, 1974
    • File of papers relating to the operational activities of Surrey Police including… dealing with bomb threats, 1965-88
    • File of papers relating to the operational activities of Surrey Police, including the years 1968-1976 and including reports and investigation of crimes, 1915-88
    • Folder of Surrey Constabulary crime information sheets, with photographs and descriptions of people wanted for criminal offences, 1967-74
    • Folder of papers relating to actions dealing with hijacked aircraft, incendiary devices and letter bombs, 1973-75
    • Ninety pocketbooks of PC, later Det Con, later Det Sgt, later Det Insp, later Det Supt Nicolas James Brent, 1961-1991
    • A set of crime scene photographs of the immediate aftermath of the explosions and destruction, 1974

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    The wrongly convicted Guildford Four served 15 years in jail

    Most were apparently retained under General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), Management of Police Information (MoPI), Multi-agency public protection arrangements (MAPPA) and Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) guidance.

    Photographs by Terry Fincher, war photographer and Fleet Street journalist, were open and viewed by the BBC last September.

    However, they were held by police as it was “unknown if Terry Fincher served with Surrey Police”, the memo said.

    Mr Fincher’s daughter, Jayne Barlow, who holds his work in a separate archive, said the photographs should not have been in Surrey History Centre and her father would have given the police press office complementary copies of photographs which was “the usual thing to do during that period”.

    She said: “Prints were supplied without any angle of being involved in the politics of a story and not for their reproduction. Terry worked as a neutral photojournalist.”


    Nicola Sturgeon: Wellbeing as important as economic growth

    Nicola SturgeonImage copyright
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    People’s quality of life should be as important as economic growth in a successful economy, according to Scotland’s first minister.

    In a speech later Nicola Sturgeon will say that Scotland is “redefining” what it means to be a successful nation.

    She will tell a conference Scotland is creating an economy where “collective wellbeing” is as fundamental as GDP.

    GDP, a measure of goods and services, has been criticised for undervaluing quality of life.

    Last year Ms Sturgeon joined with other leaders to promote a “wellbeing” agenda.

    Iceland’s prime minister, Katrin Jakobsdottir, and the prime minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern, joined Ms Sturgeon in calling for new social indicators to be considered beside traditional GDP data. More countries are expected to join their collaboration as it looks for new ways to improve wellbeing.

    Ms Sturgeon will tell the Wellbeing Economy Alliance conference in Edinburgh later that Scotland will take centre stage on the issue this year.

    It will host a number of events to promote a “global wellbeing economy”, including a meeting of the Wellbeing Economy Governments (WeGo) – Scotland, Iceland and New Zealand – at the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow.

    ‘Fulfilling work’

    “Scotland is redefining what it means to be a successful nation by focusing on the broader wellbeing of the population as well as the GDP of the country,” the first minister is expected to tell the conference.

    “The goal and objective of all economic policy should be collective wellbeing. This broader approach is at the very heart of our economic strategy which gives equal importance to tackling inequality as economic competitiveness.

    “It is why we are so committed to fair work and making sure that work is fulfilling and well paid and why we are acting to ensure a just transition to a carbon zero economy where no one is left behind.

    “Putting wellbeing at the heart of our approach means we can focus on a wider set of measures which reflect on things like the health and happiness of citizens as well as economic wealth to create a world that considers the quality of a person’s life to be as precious an asset as financial success.”

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    Iceland’s prime minister met Nicola Sturgeon at Bute House last April

    The first minister has previously made a similar plea for modern economies to put more resources into mental health, childcare and parental leave, and green energy in her TED talk.

    Other events to be held in Scotland this year to promote a wellbeing economy include:

    • An international business-les summit on the benefits to the private sector
    • Meetings in Edinburgh focussed on “just transition”, net zero economies and wellbeing budgeting
    • Work with the OECD to share experiences and expand membership of the Wellbeing Economy Governments