McArthur praises 'steadfast determination' of Orkney people over NS Champion

Orkney's MSP, Liam McArthur, today praised the ‘steadfast determination’ of people in Orkney for their role in preventing NS Champion berthing at the Flotta oil terminal and securing a wider ban on Russian vessels entering the UK.

Following the announcement yesterday by the UK Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Shapps, that UK ports should prevent access to Russian vessels, Mr McArthur secured a Topical Question at Holyrood where he sought further assurances on how this will be implemented.

Scottish Transport Secretary, Michael Matheson, confirmed to Orkney's MSP that the prevention of vessels connected to Russia on entering UK ports will come into force from 15:00 today (Tuesday).  The amendment to the UK sanctions regime will also include the power to detain any such vessels connected to Russia already in the UK.

Speaking in the Scottish Parliament, Mr McArthur said:

"Cancelling the contract with Sovcomflot and preventing NS Champion berthing at the Flotta oil terminal was absolutely the right thing to do.

"It also represents a victory for people in Orkney who have been steadfast in their determination to stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of Ukraine.

"Through their defiance, major oil companies have had to act. As a result, money that would’ve flowed into supporting Putin’s bloodthirsty regime has been stopped."

Commenting afterwards, Mr McArthur said:

"It is good to hear that amendments have now been made to the sanctions regime to ensure this ban will have legal force.  This avoids a situation where port authorities, including here in Orkney, are left potentially exposed to costly legal challenge.

"Given the complex ownership, leasing and flagging arrangements within the shipping sector, I also welcome Mr Matheson's confirmation of the close co-operation between UK authorities in sharing intelligence.  This will be vital in ensuring these measures target all those vessels and activity linked to the Russian state.

"I have rarely felt prouder of our community which has played such a pivotal role in securing this outcome and striking a blow for the people of Ukraine.  The applause from around the Chamber this afternoon suggests that pride is felt across the country."

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