9am Briefing: Probe into fatal blaze

INVESTIGATIONS are continuing today to determine the cause of a fatal fire in West Lothian.

By The Newsroom
Monday, 31st October 2011, 8:53 am

A woman believed to be in her 60s was killed in the blaze at a house in Spottiswoode Gardens, Mid Calder, West Lothian.

Firefighters were called to the scene at around 11pm on Saturday night, with crews from Bathgate and Livingstion battling the fire.

The fire was contained in the living room of the property, Lothian and Borders Fire Service said.

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* FORMER Scottish Parliament presiding officer Lord Steel has warned that Alex Salmond risks creating a legacy of “bitterness and frustration” unless he clears up confusion about the proposed two-question referendum on Scotland’s constitutional future.

He said the SNP had made clear it would still declare independence if there was a majority in favour, even if a “devo max” option - giving Scotland more powers while remaining in the United Kingdom - got more support.

He said: “The Scottish Government now have to set out far more clearly the answers to the challenges people are posing them.”

* EDINBURGH’S SNP group leader Steve Cardownie says he hopes his party’s council coalition with the Liberal Democrats can continue despite a row over privatisation plans.

Lib Dem group secretary Paul Edie has warned it could be “the end of the road” for their partnership after the SNP withdrew support for outsourcing services including bin collection and street cleaning. The Lib Dems have formally invoked a conflict resolution process.

But Cllr Cardownie said: “I’m hopeful everything can be resolved once we see exactly what their complaints are and hear the Lib Dems’ opinions.

“We have achieved a lot together over the last four years. Our group certainly intends seeing the coalition through until May.”

* A NEW probe into the handling of a fatal hit-and-run accident involving a police officer has been launched.

Father of three Martin Douglas, 41, from Hay Gardens in Niddrie, died after being hit by a black Toyota near the Playhouse Theatre as he walked home with wife Lisa in the early hours of New Year’s Day.

It later emerged that the driver of the car, who initially continued on his journey before later returning to the scene, was a police constable who had just finished a shift nearby.

The 25-year-old officer was later charged in connection with the crash and a report sent to the procurator fiscal’s office, but those charges were dropped in April.

Now Central Scotland Police have been drafted into examine the response of Lothian and Border Police to the accident, with their probe set to examine why the officer was not breathalysed after the accident.