An Edinburgh businessman who took the Scottish Government to court over coronavirus grants has failed in his bid to have reductions overturned.

Jon Sharp, the owner of Kilimanjaro which has six coffee shops in the city, argued a 25% reduction to the grants for five of the properties applied from June 8 under the Scottish Government grants scheme was "unlawful".

He received £107,500 - one £25,000 grant that had no reduction and four grants of £18,750 and one of £7,500 after a 25% reduction was applied to each of them as he had multiple properties.

The Court of Session judgment states that had his shops been in England he would have received a full 100% grant for all six properties, an aggregate entitlement of £135,000.

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The court document indicates Mr Sharp "relies heavily" on statements made by UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak on March 17 about the grants scheme, as well as by Scottish ministers at the Scottish Parliament the following day.

Mr Sharp argued he had "a legitimate expectation that a full 100% grant would be paid in respect of all six of his properties" and suggested "the decision of the Scottish ministers to restrict the amount of the grant payable in respect of second and subsequent properties is irrational".

But Judge Lord Fairley refused the petition for judicial review, saying Mr Sharp "did not have such a legitimate expectation", further saying it was "not necessary" to pass judgment on an "abuse of power".

In a written judgment, he said: "At best for the petitioner, however, the Chancellor's statement was ambiguous on the issue of whether the proposed grant support being described by him was intended to be per business or per property.

"Having regard to the way in which the grant schemes ultimately developed in Scotland, it is also worth noting that the use by the Chancellor of the qualifying words 'up to' clearly signified that whilst individual grants would be capped at £25,000, they would not necessarily be paid at that maximum level.

"The words 'up to' were relevant words of qualification."

The judge added: "In their full context, the statements by the Cabinet Secretaries on March 18 were not a clear, unambiguous and unconditional promise to pay multiple grants to small businesses and Retail Hospitality and Leisure sector businesses operating from multiple properties.

"Since the petitioner cannot point to a sufficiently clear, unambiguous and unconditional promise in the terms for which he contends, the part of his argument which is based upon the principle of legitimate expectation must fail.

"For that reason, it is not necessary for me to consider in any detail the two further questions related to frustration of expectation and abuse of power."

A Scottish Government spokesman said: "We welcome the decision of the judicial review.
"From the start of this crisis the Scottish Government has worked with our partners and agencies to give businesses as much support as possible.

"We have provided more than £2.3 billion of business support, a £230 million economic stimulus package and concerted help for businesses to safely restart.

"Our focus will continue to be on supporting the economy through the unprecedented challenges presented by this pandemic."

Outsourcing giant G4S has seen shares leap higher after a better-than-expected first half thanks to a strong performance from its security business.

Shares in the group lifted 6% as its half-year underlying pre-tax profits fell by less than feared - down 4.6% to £187 million in the six months to June 30.

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The company also said its shareholder dividend payouts would remain on hold until the "uncertainty surrounding the pandemic has reduced to an acceptable level".

But investors focused on the better-than-expected profit result, which follows a robust showing from its core security business.

The figures come just a week after G4S announced it was cutting more than 1,000 jobs, largely at its cash solutions business, as part of an overhaul.

It said the restructuring would help it save £100 million in 2020.

In a sign of the difficulties faced amid the coronavirus pandemic, G4S said it estimated a cost hit of up to £25 million in countries where it took government support.

Europe and the Middle East was the worst-affected region, with underlying pre-tax profits tumbling 25% to £69 million after revenues fell 6.5%.

Its cash solutions arm was also hit hard, with profits plummeting by a third to £16 million.

But its secure solutions business - which now accounts for 93% of group turnover - delivered a 1.5% rise in underlying pre-tax profits to £202 million.

The firm is focusing on the security business, having sold off its cash handling division to US firm Brink's Group.

Chief executive Ashley Almanza said: "G4S is at an important inflection point as we accelerate our transition to a highly-focused, global, integrated security business."

On the dividend decision, he said: "The path of the Covid-19 pandemic and its economic impact remain uncertain.

"In these circumstances, and notwithstanding the resilient performance of the group in the first half of this year, the board has decided to prioritise the financial strength of the company in the near term whilst recognising the importance of resuming dividend payments in the future."

Spreadbetting firm IG Group has posted a jump in annual profits as it was boosted by volatility in the markets driven by the coronavirus pandemic.

However, shares in the company dropped lower after as it kept its dividend unchanged despite the profit jump.

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IG said pre-tax profits leapt 52% higher to £295.9 million for the year to May as trading revenues rose by 36%.

It said trading accelerated in the last three months of the financial year as the economic impact of the pandemic caused a flurry of trading activity.

Current trading has continued to reflect elevated levels of volatility but moderated slightly since its March peak, it added.

Shares were down 7.1% at 774.5p.

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