Young farmers and mental health: We feel so isolated

“He didn’t get help as early on as he should have. By the time he did it was too late.”

Kelsey Ann Williamson, 23, is speaking about her late partner.

They both worked in the farming industry but he took his own life in 2019, after struggling with his mental health.

“It was extremely hard. While he was still alive, I often refer to it as being on 24/7 life watch,” Kelsey tells Radio 1 Newsbeat.

“It got to the point where my mental and physical health were taking a toll and then after he passed away, it really really hit me.”

A study by the Farm Safety Foundation found that 88% of farmers under the age of 40 rank poor mental health as the biggest problem they face today.

But what is it about the farming industry in particular?

“It’s the isolation, we really struggled with that. [My partner] didn’t drive, and he didn’t have access to public transport because it’s so limited in the countryside,” Kelsey says.

And that’s something Stephanie Berkeley, manager of the Farm Safety Foundation agrees with.

“Farmers are dealing with issues of rural isolation and sometimes it can feel like they’ve no way of staying connected.

“They work on their own all day for long periods of time, it’s in no way a nine-to-five job and they’re often living and working exactly in the same place.”

The Mind Your Head campaign – now in its fourth year – was started by the Farm Safety Foundation to try and break down mental health barriers in farming.

Statistics show that 133 people working in farming and agricultural trades in England, Wales and Scotland died by suicide in 2019.

That’s according to the Office of National Statistics and the National Records of Scotland.

“In an industry that has 476,000 people working in it, to lose 133 of them in one year based on them taking their own lives is something we all need to wake up to,” Stephanie tells Radio 1 Newsbeat.

James Hoskings is 28 and lives in Cornwall.

He used to be dairy farmer, but he sold his cows after a family bereavement.

He says being a farmer came along with many mental health struggles.

“You’re often very tied to your work. The cows need milking regardless of what may be happening in your personal life or family life.

“On Christmas Day when most families are in together during the Queen’s speech, a dairy farmer will be out looking after his cows and milking his cows.

“It’s so difficult because you tend to live on the farm so your work and home life are never really separated.”

The Farm Safety Foundation also found that 89% of young farmers believe that talking about mental health in farming will remove any stigma attached to it.

James says he used to talk about his mental health in anonymous chat rooms because of that stigma.

“Farmers are seen as inherently quite tough, because they deal with life and death on a day-to-day basis. Where you get livestock, you will get ‘deadstock’.”

Kelsey says her late partner felt that stigma too.

“He was a very old fashioned ‘traditional’ man, he believed he should provide and be strong.

“It took a lot to sort of talk to him about it and tell him that he wasn’t weak for seeking help.”

Isolation isn’t the only issues farmers in the UK face – many are struggling financially too.

In 2018, Matt Launder spiralled in to a dark place after he lost 60% of his crop in a snowstorm in Wales.

“Things were going so well, then we were hit by the Beast from the East, and I lost all my money overnight.

“My business was crumbling around me I was in a mass of shock. It made me feel rotten and miserable. I bullied myself every day,” he tells Radio 1 Newsbeat.

Unlike Kelsey and James who grew up in the industry, 26-year-old Matt is a first-generation farmer.

“I always wanted to be a farmer. I even had a toy tractor when I was younger.”

But he wasn’t fully prepared for some of the intense struggles that came along with his dream job.

He says sometimes farmers aren’t treated that well even though they work hard.

“We often produce our product at a loss because food has to be cheap for the world to go around.”

Because of his personality, Matt felt that he wouldn’t be believed if he spoke out.

“My personality is very bubbly and I like to make a lot of jokes so people don’t expect me to come out and go, ‘I’m having a really bad time, I’m struggling.’

“I’m usually the one people come to for things like that, but as soon as I did, I realised how easy it was.”

Stephanie from the Farm Safety Foundation says that more farmers are willing to speak out now.

“When we started the campaign four years ago, we didn’t even have anybody that was willing to actually come forward as a case study, which really was a massive indication of how people were so unwilling to talk about it.

“But now we do, and it’s such a lovely thing to inspire somebody else to get the help that they need by showing them that they’re not on their own.”

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Protesters demand answers of Gwent Police after Newport mans death

More than a hundred protesters have gathered in Newport following the death of a man shortly after police were at his house.

Moyied Bashir died on Wednesday after officers were called to his home in Newport at about 09:00 GMT.

The force has referred itself to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) following the death, as is standard procedure.

It said the 29-year-old’s condition worsened after they arrived.

He was pronounced dead at Cwmbran’s Grange Hospital.

Protestors walked through Pill and gathered outside Newport’s central police station on Thursday.

They banged on the door, shouting “we want answers” and “we want justice”.

The protest was led by Mohamed Bashir, Moyied’s brother, who said his parents, Mamoun and Mahasin Bashir, had called the police on Wednesday, looking for help.

“My brother was stabbed about three weeks ago, he was put on medication,” Mr Bashir said.

“He’s been battling mental health for a long period of time.

“The combination of the medication and his mental health, it got a bit stressful.”

He said his parents decided to take him back to hospital but could not get him out of his room.

“They believed their best option was to call the police and help them escort him to hospital,” Mr Bashir said.

“They rung the police with the intention to escort him to hospital with, say, two to three officers.”

But, he said, 24 officers arrived and “forced” their way into his room,

He said police handcuffed him and “tied him up by his leg”.

“His stab wound is on his main artery, so while he is tied up, handcuffed, he started getting weaker,” Mr Bashir said.

“My dad is in shock (saying), ‘What are you doing?’

“In hospital, my brother was given CPR, oxygen, they tried everything. It was too late. We only wanted help.”

His brother was a “big character, the life of the party” and someone who “wouldn’t harm a fly”, Mr Bashir said.

He said he was angry his brother had died, just a month after concerns were raised about another black man’s death, Mohamud Mohammed Hassan, hours after he left custody in Cardiff.

Mr Bashir said: “It’s disgusting, there needs to be something done. It’s been happening for so long.

“Serve and protect that’s what they tell us. We are going to fight. We are going to get answers.”

Mohamed Bashir called on Gwent Police to release any bodycam footage the officers who went to his parents’ house would have been wearing.

“My parents are heartbroken,” he said.

The IOPC said investigators visited the Bashir property. It said officers involved had their initial accounts of what happened.

The watchdog said: “We are aware that Mr Bashir, who was not arrested, was initially handcuffed and leg restraints were applied at the property while an ambulance was awaited.

“During their interaction with Mr Bashir his condition was noted to deteriorate.

“Paramedics arrived and gave medical treatment at the address prior to moving him to a waiting ambulance.

“We have established that by the time the ambulance had arrived a number of police vehicles and nine police officers had responded to the incident.”

It added it was “securing” bodycam footage, police radio transmissions and call logs for analysis.

Gwent Police said when they arrived at the family’s home “a 29-year-old man appeared to be suffering a medical episode”.

“Officers called an ambulance and he was taken to the Grange Hospital where he was pronounced deceased a short time later.”

A14 upgrade: Rare Roman penis carving found in Cambridgeshire

A “highly significant” and rare carved Roman phallus has been discovered by archaeologists working on finds unearthed during a major road upgrade.

It was found on a broken millstone by experts along the route of the A14 in Cambridgeshire between 2017 and 2018.

However, it has only just been put back together, revealing the penis.

Archaeologists said it was one of only four known examples of Romano-British millstones decorated this way.

During work on Highways England’s £1.5bn upgrade of the A14 between Cambridge and Huntingdon, more than 300 querns (hand mills) and millstones were recovered by archaeologists MOLA Headland Infrastructure, working with partners Oxford Archaeology.

The stone which recently revealed its genital markings had been preserved by being reversed and adapted for use as a bedstone, after being initially broken.

Decorated querns and millstones of any date are extremely rare, with only four such Roman millstones discovered from around a total of 20,000 nationwide, said Steve Sherlock, Highways England’s archaeology lead for the A14.

He said phallic images were “seen as an important image of strength and virility in the Roman world, with it being common practice for legionaries to wear a phallus amulet, which would give them good luck before battle”.

“This millstone is important as it adds to the evidence for such images from Roman Britain.

“There were known associations between images of the phallus and milling, such as those found above the bakeries of Pompeii, one inscribed with ‘Hic habitat felicitas’ – ‘You will find happiness here’,” he said.

Dr Ruth Shaffrey, from Oxford Archaeology, said: “As one of only four known examples of Romano-British millstones decorated this way, the A14 millstone is a highly significant find.

“It offers insights into the importance of the mill to the local community and to the protective properties bestowed upon the millstone and its produce – the flour – by the depiction of a phallus on its upper surface.”

The millstone is the latest in a list of finds on the route of the upgrade to be made public by Highways England.

They include the earliest evidence of beer brewing in Britain, dating back to as early as 400 BC, only the second gold coin to be found in the country depicting Roman emperor Laelianus, who reigned for about two months in 269 AD before he was killed, and woolly mammoth tusks and woolly rhino skulls.

Slash business rates to save High Street, says Next boss

Business rates for High Street retail stores should be slashed by 35%, according to the boss of one of the UK’s biggest retail chains Next.

Lord Simon Wolfson says that unless the government sets rates at a level that is fair, a huge number of shops will have to close unnecessarily.

He said the current system was “unfair” to bricks and mortar retailers, many of whom are struggling in the pandemic.

The Treasury said it is conducting a “fundamental review” of the system.

Mr Wolfson told the BBC the value of High Street retail properties had fallen dramatically in the crisis “but the business rates bill hasn’t reflected that”.

He used his own experience at Next as an example. “In-store sales at Next have gone down 25% since 2015 but our rates on those properties have gone up 9%. They have become unfair because they no longer reflect the value property against which they’re charged”

Some of the cost to the government of a retail business rates cut could be offset by raising rates on warehouses and online fulfilment centres, he said. Their value has risen significantly as more retail has moved from the High Street to online.

“Rents on shops have been coming down, rents on warehouses have been going up and the rates don’t fairly reflect the value of warehouse property either. So I think the government can fund some of this by increasing rates on warehousing by around 50%”.

Wolfson is widely considered to be one of the canniest operators in UK retail and NEXT’s significant on-line business has helped the company weather the assault of e-commerce on traditional retail.

Next is one of the UK’s 100 biggest companies – the problem for small retailers is much more acute.

Peter Budek runs the Eagle bookshop in Bedford. He took a big risk last year by moving into a new bigger building so will start paying business rates for the first time when the current rates holiday comes to an end – currently scheduled for April.

He said the prospect of paying rates almost stopped him expanding and says that the current system is stifling the growth of small firms.

“The business rate factor was a big, big thing. You go from paying very little or zero business rates in our tiny little place before, to suddenly having a substantial liability and that nearly put me off.

“And if we can remove that obstacle then you are far more likely to have small independent businesses becoming bigger independent businesses and therefore putting their stamp on the town centre so that each town regains some kind of identity and encourages a network of smaller independent businesses to run along with them.

“So what we’ve done here, may provide some sort of incentive to other businesses in Bedford to step it up a notch, but they will be put off by the rates system.”

There are 30 billion reasons not to reform the system. That’s the total amount the government collects (in pounds) from business rates. But you can’t tax a dead business and the High Street in the UK was the scene a jobs bloodbath in 2020.

The Centre for Retail Research calculates that more than 175,000 jobs were lost as some of the most famous High Street names went bust.

Emergency pandemic measures threw businesses a lifeline as the government offered a business rates holiday. That holiday is due to end in six weeks. But even if the chancellor extends that holiday at the Budget on 3 March, urgent reform is required to prevent long term damage to our high streets according to Lord Wolfson.

“I think we’re at quite a pivotal place on the High Street history… we’ve had a dramatic drop in the value of retail properties because sales have dropped so far and many retailers are on the edge of administration.

“For those companies particularly if they go into liquidation, whether or not their new owners decide to take them on and keep those shops on, or close them, will depend on both the rents and the rates that are being charged.

“So over the next year or two, having the rates set at a level that is economic and fair is going to make an enormous difference to how many shops stay open in the short term. And it would be a shame for a huge number of shops to shut unnecessarily because rates are too high.”

Lord Wolfson admits that cutting business rates on high streets while raising them on warehouses will come at a cost to the stretched public finances. That’s one reason some have suggested an online sales tax to level the playing field between physical and online retailers while filling a hole in tax receipts.

But that would be a mistake according to Lord Wolfson.

“I’m against an online sales tax because ultimately the consumer will pay the price of that and actually I don’t think anyone is going to go back to the High Street because there’s a 2% online tax or whatever number they come up with. You cannot tax people back on to the High Street.

“An online tax isn’t going to get people back… it is going to put a hole in consumers’ pockets.”

The real challenge may not be the tax and rates system but the nature of the opposition High Street retailers are up against. It is almost impossible to compete against giant online retailers who don’t seem to care if they make a profit from e-commerce – and as a result pay very little corporation tax.

Lord Wolfson has a solution: “There are some internet companies who frankly don’t want to make a profit they just want to turn over as much as they can until all of their competition go out of business and then raise their margins later.

“So there is an argument for an online sales tax to stop people avoiding corporation tax. But a better way of doing that is to say if you’re an online business, pay either 2% of your turnover or 19% of your profits, whichever is the higher.

“That would forensically attack those people off-shoring profits whilst not damaging the nascent internet business which, frankly for us traditional retailers, is one of the few things actually keeping us afloat.”

The government is aware of the challenge. At next month’s Budget, it may yet extend a business rates holiday currently scheduled to end in April and says the business rates system is under review.

“We want to see thriving high streets, which is why we’ve spent tens of billions of pounds supporting shops, restaurants and cafes throughout the pandemic, including over £10bn worth of business rates relief,” a Treasury spokesperson said.

“We’re currently conducting a fundamental review of business rates and are considering responses to our call for evidence now.”

It’s not easy to reform a system that has been in place for decades, contributes billions to the public coffers and is a valuable source of funding for local authorities who get a large part of their own income from the rates imposed on local businesses.

But failure to reform could see this once-golden goose unable to lay the eggs of future prosperity for UK high streets.

Robinhood boss says GameStop episode unacceptable

The head of the Robinhood trading platform has apologised to customers at a US congressional hearing prompted by last month’s GameStop trading frenzy.

Vlad Tenev said the situation the firm faced in January – when it limited purchases of certain stocks, sparking outrage – was “unacceptable to us”.

“We are doing everything we can to make sure this won’t happen again,” he said.

Lawmakers said the episode had raised questions about fairness in financial markets.

“Many Americans feel that the system is stacked against them and no matter what, Wall Street always wins,” said congresswoman Maxine Waters, who heads the House Financial Services Committee holding the hearing.

Mr Tenev said the firm, which is popular among everyday investors, was forced to temporarily limit trades due to new financial requirements imposed on the firm due to the surge in trading.

He said the firm raised new funds, which would help it avoid making similar moves in the future.

He also denied that Robinhood had been acting at the behest of anyone else.

Other business leaders called to testify at the hearing also denied wrongdoing in the affair, which saw the price of GameStop shares rise from less than $20 at the beginning of January to more than $350 in a matter of weeks.

The astonishing rise, apparently fuelled by a swarm of independent traders swapping tips online, has sparked probes examining the possibility of market manipulation.

Norfolk Vanguard: Ministers wrong over wind farm go-ahead, says judge

A High Court judge has quashed permission for one of the world’s largest offshore wind farms to be built off the east coast of England.

The Norfolk Vanguard Offshore Wind Farm was granted development consent in July by the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

But Mr Justice Holgate overturned the decision following legal action from a man living near a planned cable route.

A Department for BEIS spokeswoman said it was “disappointed by the outcome”.

“We will be considering the judgment carefully before deciding next steps,” she added.

The legal challenge was brought by Raymond Pearce, who lives near Reepham in Norfolk, who had raised concerns about the effect the development would have on the landscape and the view.

He argued that ministers had not taken into account the “cumulative impacts” of the project, proposed by the energy company Vattenfall, and had given “inadequate” reasons for not doing so.

Trenches, into which cables would be laid from the wind farm to onshore substations, would pass within 80m (262ft) of Mr Pearce’s house.

Mr Justice Holgate said the Vanguard development was closely related to a second wind farm project called Norfolk Boreas.

The judge heard that a substation site planned for both projects near Necton, about 40 miles (65km) from the coast, had attracted “substantial objections”.

Ruling in Mr Pearce’s favour, he said regulations had been breached as a result of a failure to evaluate available information about the “cumulative impacts of the Vanguard and Boreas substation development”.

Speaking to BBC Look East after the ruling, Mr Pearce accepted it was not an “outright” victory, but added “it’s a very good start though”.

He said: “For the people of Norfolk who will be potentially adversely impacted by multiple cable corridors then it really is a very good start, that finally they have a voice and somebody is recognising these national infrastructure projects will have an impact on ordinary people’s lives.”

He said it was “absolutely fantastic we are progressing towards a zero-carbon economy”, but that “the impact in just developing the onshore infrastructure will be devastating, not only on the climate… but on the local environment”.

According to Vattenfall, whose application was granted development consent last year while Alok Sharma was business secretary, the proposed wind farm would provide enough electricity to power the equivalent of 1.95 million homes.

It said it was “a very disappointing outcome”, but pointed out the decision “relates to the process for granting consent and is not about the merits of our world-class Norfolk Vanguard project”.

Danielle Lane, Vattenfall’s UK country manager, said the company had “fulfilled all the requirements placed on developers”.

She added it was “vital that the government now acts to re-determine consent, with regard to the judge’s ruling, as quickly as possible”.

U-Roy, pioneering Jamaican reggae artist, dies aged 78

Pioneering Jamaican reggae artist U-Roy has died at the age of 78, his partner has confirmed.

The musician, whose real name is Ewart Beckford, had been undergoing surgery at a hospital in Jamaica’s capital city, Kingston.

U-Roy, who is credited with popularising the vocal style known as “toasting”, died late on Wednesday.

Among those to pay tribute were Grammy award-winning artist Shaggy and British singer-songwriter Ghostpoet.

U-Roy’s partner, Marcia Smikle, told local news website The Gleaner that the artist had been receiving treatment for diabetes and high blood pressure, and also suffered with kidney problems.

She said he had been in and out of hospital and most recently had undergone an operation to address an issue of internal bleeding.

“It was successful, and the bleeding stopped,” Ms Smikle said, but the doctors had to take him back into the operating theatre at the University Hospital of the West Indies on Wednesday and he later died.

Following news of U-Roy’s death, tributes began to pour in, with Jamaican reggae artist Shaggy describing him in an Instagram post as a “hero” and a “true legend” who was “a master at his craft”.

British musician Ghostpoet, who was nominated for the Mercury Prize in 2011 and 2015, tweeted “RIP”.

BBC Radio 1Xtra reggae music presenter David Rodigan described U-Roy as “the iconic toaster who changed the paradigm of Jamaican music”.

Former BBC Radio DJ Rob Da Bank said he was a “toaster extraordinaire”.

Born in Jones Town, Kingston, in September 1942, U-Roy’s professional music career began as a DJ in 1961.

It was at this point that he adopted “toasting”, a rhythmical vocal style performed over reggae and dance tracks that then became popular in Jamaica in the later 1960s and 70s.

U-Roy recorded a number of singles and albums, with some of his most popular being Dread in a Babylon in 1975 and Natty Rebel in 1976.

Years later, in 2004, he featured on the Jamaican group Toots and the Maytals’ Grammy award-winning True Love album.

In 2007, the Jamaican government awarded him the Order of Distinction for his contribution to music.

Gulf War syndrome not caused by depleted uranium

An illness suffered by soldiers who took part in the Gulf War was not caused by inhaling depleted uranium, according to a scientific study.

Instead, researchers believe Gulf War syndrome may be due to soldiers being exposed to the nerve agent sarin.

The Royal British Legion said a lack of understanding of the condition has had a “serious impact” on veterans.

The Ministry of Defence said it has no plans to conduct further studies but would monitor any research published.

Researchers estimate around 250,000 Gulf War veterans could be living with the syndrome – which can cause symptoms such as insomnia and memory problems.

Former soldier Kerry Fuller was a fit 26 year old who loved outdoor activities prior to the 1991 war.

He suffered a stroke at 40 and now says he is so ill, it is hard just to get out of bed.

“My whole world and way of being changed just like that,” he told the BBC’s Caroline Hawley. “And there’s no going back. The damage is done and my ailments are only getting worse.

“I think myself and the thousands of other veterans would just like an acknowledgment, and being able to then move forward with the knowledge of what caused things, to access the correct treatment.”

Scientists have been trying to work out for years what could be the cause of Gulf War syndrome.

One popular theory was that soldiers had become ill after exposure to depleted uranium in tank shells.

Researchers from the University of Portsmouth tested those with the condition to examine levels of residual depleted uranium in their bodies.

They say their study “conclusively proves” that none of them were exposed to any significant amounts.

Professor Randall Parrish said the results of the study would “surprise many” who have long suspected that exposure to the chemical could have contributed to their illness.

Researchers now believe the most likely culprit is exposure to the nerve agent sarin – which was released into the atmosphere when Iraqi chemical weapons caches were bombed.

They say steps meant to protect the soldiers could have compounded the problem – including anti-nerve agent medication and the extensive use of pesticides.

Pesticides were sprayed on tents and other equipment such as uniforms, and were used on skin as an insect repellent during the war to prevent malaria exposure.

“Being able to debunk the alleged connection between this illness and this radioactive substance allows the medical community to focus more clearly on what the likely causes actually are,” Prof Parrish said.

“Finding causes is a nebulous game when you have so many options to blame.

“The allies’ own activities destroying an Iraqi nerve agent cache or spraying pesticides liberally on troops could be seen in hindsight as an inadvertent ‘own goal’ and one to be avoided in future conflicts.

“It is important to find causes for conditions like this, even if it takes a long time and the causes might be controversial.”

The Royal British Legion said research suggested up to 33,000 UK Gulf War veterans could be living with the syndrome, with 1,300 claiming a war pension for conditions connected to their service.

Andy Pike, head of policy and research at the charity, said: “Whilst we welcome further research that helps to improve our knowledge of the experiences faced by Gulf War veterans, there has been little meaningful research published in the UK concerning effective treatment for those suffering from Gulf War illnesses.

“It is likely this lack of understanding has had a serious impact, leaving many veterans living with debilitating conditions 30 years after the end of combat operations.”

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: “We are indebted to all those who served our country in the Gulf wars and have already sponsored significant research into the effects of this conflict on veterans.

“Although we have no plans to conduct further studies, we continue to monitor any Gulf War research that is published around the world.”

MSPs agree to publish Alex Salmonds inquiry submission

A key obstacle to Alex Salmond appearing before the inquiry into the handling of harassment complaints against him may have been removed.

MSPs on Holyrood’s management group have agreed that a controversial submission to the inquiry by the former first minister can be published.

The submission accuses his successor, Nicola Sturgeon, of misleading parliament.

Mr Salmond had said he would not appear at the inquiry unless it was published.

The inquiry committee had previously refused to do so, citing legal concerns.

But the Scottish Parliament’s corporate body ruled on Thursday afternoon that “on balance it is possible” to publish the submission.

The move could see Mr Salmond give evidence to MSPs on Wednesday of next week.

Ms Sturgeon would then appear the following week, with the first minister previously saying she was “relishing” the prospect of putting her side across and rebutting “conspiracy theories” about her.

The Holyrood inquiry was set up to investigate what went wrong with the government’s internal investigation of harassment complaints against Mr Salmond, after he successfully took them to court.

The former SNP leader has also raised questions about Ms Sturgeon’s role in the process, claiming she had “repeatedly” misled parliament about when she learned about the complaints and had therefore broken the ministerial code.

Mr Salmond said he would only face the Holyrood inquiry if the submission making these claims – which has been widely publicised – was formally published by the committee, so he could refer to it in his oral evidence.

However members twice voted along party lines to reject this, meaning a planned evidence session with Mr Salmond had to be called off earlier this month.

After the second vote, the committee agreed to refer the matter to the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body, a group of MSPs responsible for the running of Holyrood.

And that group has now agreed that “on balance it would be possible to publish the submission by Alex Salmond on the ministerial code”.

This could open the door to Mr Salmond giving evidence after all, with the former first minister having “cleared his diary” for a session on 24 February.

A spokeswoman for the inquiry committee said a letter would be sent inviting him to give evidence that day.

She also said the submission would be published “early next week” once it had been processed in line with evidence-handling rules – which may mean parts are redacted.

Opposition members – who had been defeated in the committee votes over publishing the submission – welcomed the move, with Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser saying it was “the right decision”.

Labour’s Jackie Baillie added: “This decision is most welcome and should pave the way for Mr Salmond appearing before the committee next week.”

After Mr Salmond, the only witness left to give evidence will be the first minister herself.

Ms Sturgeon has repeatedly rejected accusations of wrongdoing, saying: “I do not consider that I breached the ministerial code – I will make that case very, very robustly”.

She also said she wanted to “take head on some of the ridiculous conspiracy theories” circulating about her involvement.

Myanmar coup: UK imposes sanctions on three generals

The UK has announced asset freezes and travel bans on three generals in Myanmar over the military coup earlier this month.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the sanctions would “hold the Myanmar military to account for their violations of human rights”.

The UK will also put in place new measures to prevent UK aid indirectly helping the military regime.

It comes after the US imposed sanctions on the coup leaders last week.

The military seized control on 1 February following a landside general election victory for party of the country’s elected leader, Aung San Suu Kyi.

Ms Suu Kyi has been detained along with members of her party, with the military back in charge and declaring a year-long state of emergency.

Sanctions will be imposed on defence minister General Mya Tun Oo, home affairs minister Lt General Soe Htut and deputy home affairs minister Lt General Than Hlaing.

The new action comes on top of UK sanctions previously in place against 16 individuals from the Myanmar military.

The Foreign Office said the action was being taken “in tandem” with Canada – which has also announced its own action against the new regime.

Mr Raab said: “The UK condemns the military coup and the arbitrary detention of Aung San Suu Kyi and other political figures.

“We, alongside our international allies, will hold the Myanmar military to account for their violations of human rights and pursue justice for the Myanmar people.”

The UK government had previously faced criticism from the opposition Labour Party for not imposing sanctions on military leaders in the immediate aftermath of the coup.

In a Commons debate on the day after, Labour’s shadow Foreign Office minister Stephen Kinnock said the UK should “lead by example”.

During the debate, Foreign Office Minister Nigel Adams said the UK would work with international allies to “consider next steps in the that regard”.

Myanmar, also known as Burma, is a former British colony which gained its independence in 1948.

It was ruled by the armed forces from 1962 until 2011, when a new government began ushering in a return to civilian rule.