Friday, 30 September 2011

Police warn they may not be able to afford Tesco's £3m riot compensation bill

 

In total, the retailer has asked for nearly £3m in compensation from police forces around the country, following the riots that tore through some high streets in August. It is likely that this is the biggest request from a single retailer. The company is claiming under the Riot Damages Act, a piece of Victorian legislation that allows businesses and individuals affected by riot damage to claim directly from the police, rather than their own insurer. In the immediate aftermath of the civil disturbances, the British Retail Consortium urged small retailers to put in their claims to make sure their businesses were not harmed. However, the Greater Manchester Police Authority, which has been hit with 280 claims totalling £4.4m, has criticised Tesco for using the Act, saying there was no guarantee the police force would be able to afford all of the compensation. The force faces £134m budget cuts in the next five years. It added that J Sainsbury was one of a number of large companies that had chosen not to submit any compensation claims. Tesco has submitted more than 20 claims for compensation to Manchester police, including one for £40-worth of looted stock.

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Brussels threatens to sue Britain to let in 'benefit tourists'

 

Ministers fear the move could leave taxpayers handing out as much as £2.5  billion to EU nationals, including out-of-work “benefit tourists”, a new cost that could wreck Coalition plans for welfare reform. The commission’s threat, on the eve of the Conservative Party conference, has raised the political temperature on Europe still further. In an outspoken attack today, Iain Duncan Smith, the Work and Pensions Secretary, says the commission’s move is part of a “wider movement” by the “unelected and unaccountable” European authorities to extend their power over the UK. “This kind of land grab from the EU has the potential to cause mayhem to nation states, and we will fight it,” he writes in The Daily Telegraph. The commission is objecting to Britain’s rules on welfare, claiming they discriminate unfairly against foreigners. To claim benefits in Britain, EU nationals must pass a “right to reside” test. The commission says the test is too tough, and wants Britain to apply more generous EU-wide rules.

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Legal warning to UK over benefits for EU nationals

 

The European Commission has threatened legal action against the UK, saying a test of eligibility for benefits discriminates against foreigners. It says it is easier for UK citizens to prove their "right to reside" - a test imposed by the UK for certain benefits - than EU nationals. The commission says it may refer the case to the European Court of Justice. Ministers say it is a "fundamental challenge" to the UK's right to decide its own social security arrangements. The Commission says it has been in talks with the UK for several years over the issue and is responding to a "huge number" of complaints from EU citizens living in the UK. Residence tests On Thursday it announced that it was giving the UK two months to explain how it was going to bring its legislation into line with EU law - prompting UK Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith to accuse it of a "land grab" and to pledge to fight it. A range of entitlements - including child benefit, child tax credit, state pension credit, jobseekers' allowance and employment and support allowance - are given only to those with a "right to reside" in the UK. Continue reading the main story WHAT BENEFITS ARE INVOLVED Child benefit Child tax credit State pension credit Jobseekers' allowance The Commission says there are already an EU-wide "habitual residence" rules which are strict enough and the UK is imposing an additional test, which indirectly discriminates against non-UK EU nationals. While UK nationals can easily prove their "right to reside" based on their UK citizenship, other EU nationals have their applications heard on a case-by-case basis, which it says breaches EU social security co-ordination rules giving all citizens equal rights. The Commission gives the example of a woman who moved to the UK and worked from April 2007 to April 2009 when she was made redundant. It says she had paid taxes and National Insurance but was refused claims for jobseekers' allowance. 'Very sound' It says UK citizens in other EU states do not have to meet similar tests and get non-contributory benefits. Laszlo Andor, Commissioner for Employment and Social Affairs, said the EU's legal position was "very sound". Continue reading the main story “ Start Quote We are talking here.. about people who are inactive, people who are looking to come to the UK who are not going to work here” Chris Grayling Employment minister "The EU insists on the right of mobile workers to move from one country to another and, in certain places, they are entitled to benefits," he told the BBC. "We want to protect the rights of all EU citizens." Most people moving abroad already had offers of work or were looking for it, he said, rather than primarily wanting to take advantage of more generous benefits. "It may happen that some of them do not a find a job immediately. It is very important that, in these cases, the rights should be respected." He added that some people might choose to move to a country where benefits were higher but "since we have a European Labour market we have to accept this as a fact". But UK ministers fear taxpayers could be forced into handing out more than £2bn to EU nationals - including so-called "benefits tourists" - if the UK has to comply. 'Difference of opinion' Employment minister Chris Grayling, who met EU officials this week to discuss the issue, said there was a "very definite difference of opinion" between the UK and the Commission. "We are talking here, not about active citizens, not about people who are working but people who are inactive, people who are looking to come to the UK who are not going to work here." He said European law was "all over the place at the moment" and the UK had separately been told by the European courts to make disability benefit payments to a British citizen living in Spain. He said 13 EU states had proposed a "comprehensive review" of policy in the area in June and talks were continuing. Nigel Farage, leader of the UK Independence Party, which campaigns for Britain's exit from the EU, said: "It is not discrimination but simply a system to ensure that benefits are only paid to those who are entitled to them."

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Fake death pensioner 'was greedy'

 

Anthony McErlean, 66, was jailed for six years for faking his own death in Honduras in 2009 to get a life insurance claim worth £520,000. He also admitted two counts of theft from a pension fund from the Port of London Authority of £27,000 pounds and £40,658 pounds from the Department of Work and Pensions. The pensioner had impersonated his wife to claim he himself had died after being hit by a truck as he was changing a tyre on a road in the Central American country. A fake witness statement was produced to back up story which said farm workers took his body away to the village of Santa Rosa De Aguan. Suspicious officials at the insurance company contacted the Insurance Fraud Bureau, who alerted the Police.

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Thurlbeck to fight sacking claim

 

The News of the World's former chief reporter has broken his silence over the phone-hacking scandal to insist he played "no part" in the matter that led to his sacking. Neville Thurlbeck, 49, was fired by News International earlier this month after being arrested in April on suspicion of conspiring to intercept voicemails while working at the now-defunct Sunday tabloid. He issued a strongly-worded statement in which he vowed to fight his unfair dismissal claim against his former employers "to the end". Mr Thurlbeck's alleged role in the scandal has been closely scrutinised since details emerged of a June 2005 email headed "for Neville" which contained transcripts of illegally intercepted voicemail messages. The email, which surfaced in April 2008, appeared to contradict News International's previous stance that phone hacking was confined to a single "rogue reporter". Speaking out for the first time since his name was linked to the scandal through the "for Neville" email, Mr Thurlbeck said: "At the length, truth will out. I await that time with patience, but with a determination to fight my case to the end." The Sunderland-born journalist alleged that his former employers withheld the reason for his dismissal for nearly a month. He said he found out why he was sacked from Scotland Yard but did not reveal any details for legal reasons. In a statement issued by his law firm DWF, he went on: "I took no part in the matter which has led to my dismissal after 21 years of service. I say this most emphatically and with certainty and confidence that the allegation which led to my dismissal will eventually be shown to be false. "And those responsible for the action, for which I have been unfairly dismissed, will eventually be revealed." Mr Thurlbeck has lodged employment tribunal papers against his former employers. A hearing in his case planned to take place at the East London Tribunal Service was cancelled on Friday.

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Thursday, 29 September 2011

Rio hit with £500k bill after losing court battle


The England and Manchester United star will now be saddled with paying the estimated £500,000 legal bills incurred by the Sunday Mirror in defence of the lawsuit.

Ferdinand sued the newspaper for misuse of private information after they published details of his 13-year relationship with interior designer Carly Storey, who accepted £16,000 for telling the tale of her liaisons with the defender.

But Mr Justice Nicol dismissed the case at London's high court on Thursday, and refused Ferdinand's legal team permission to appeal.

"Overall, in my judgment, the balancing exercise favours the defendant's right of freedom of expression over the claimant's right of privacy," he said.

The judge was not swayed by Ferdinand's claims that he had not tried to meet Storey after being made England captain, despite claims in the newspaper that he had snuck Storey into the team hotel.

"I did not find this answer persuasive. In his evidence the claimant said that (Fabio) Capello had told him to be professional, not only on the pitch but 'around the hotel'," the judge said.

"In the past, the Claimant (Ferdinand) had not behaved in a professional manner around the hotels into which he had tried to sneak Ms Storey.

"Whether or not he had done that in the few weeks since he had been made the permanent captain of England, his relative recent past failings could legitimately be used to call into question his suitability for the role."

Former England captain Ferdinand, who has three children with wife Rebecca, had told the judge at an earlier hearing that, "I do not see why I should not be entitled to a private life just because I am a famous footballer."

Sunday Mirror editor Tina Weaver hailed the judge's decision.

"The Sunday Mirror is very pleased that the court has rejected Rio Ferdinand's privacy claim," she said.

"The judge found that there was a justified public interest in reporting the off-pitch behaviour of the then England captain and discussion of his suitability for such an important and ambassadorial role representing the country.

"We are pleased the judge ruled that Mr Ferdinand had perpetuated a misleading public image and the Sunday Mirror was entitled to correct this impression.

"There has never been greater scrutiny of the media than now, and we applaud this ruling in recognising the important role a free press has to play in a democratic society."

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Paramedics Who Tried To Save Singer's Life Give Evidence

 

Alberto Alvarez was in charge of back stage during Jackson's final rehearsal on June 24, 2009. He described Jackson as "happy and in good spirits" during the performance. "He was doing very well for the most part," he told the Los Angeles court. He explained that he later drove Jackson back to his rented Holmby Hills home and saw Dr Murray's car parked there. He said the last time he saw Jackson alive was when he said "good night" to the singer. Mr Alvarez was the first person who went into Jackson's bedroom after Dr Murray telephoned for help as he was trying to resuscitate the singer. He said Jackson was lying on his back, with his hands extended out to his side, and his eyes and mouth open. "When I came into the room, Dr Murray said 'Alberto, hurry, we have to get to hospital, we have to get an ambulance'." Jackson's logistics director Alberto Alvarez He then described how Jackson's children Paris and Prince entered the room behind him. "Paris screamed out 'Daddy' and she was crying. "Dr Murray said to me 'Don't let them see their dad like this see'. "I ushered the children out and told them 'Don't worry, we will take care of it, everything is going to be OK'." Mr Alvarez asked what had happened, to which Dr Murray replied: "He had a bad reaction". Two paramedics who tried to save Jackson's life are also due to give evidence on day three of the trial. Martin Blount and Richard Senneff are expected to say that Jackson already appeared to be dead when they arrived at his home on June 25, 2009. The court will also hear from another key witness - Jackson's personal chef Kai Chase. Sky's US correspondent Greg Milam, who is at the court, said: "There are fewer demonstrators, fans of Michael Jackson, and supporters of Dr Murray here today - but they are still being very vocal in their support of both sides in the case." On Wednesday, Jackson's security chief revealed how the star's children crumpled in shock, as they saw their apparently dead father being given heart massage in his bedroom. The court also heard that Dr Conrad Murray, accused of involuntary manslaughter over Jackson's death two years ago, asked aides if any of them knew how to do cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). "Paris was on the ground balled up crying, and Prince was standing there, and he just had a real shocked, you know just slowly crying type of look on his face," bodyguard Faheem Muhammad, referring to two of Jackson's three children, said. "I went and gathered them together, and I kind of talked to them for a second, got the nanny... and we walked downstairs and put them in a different location," he said. He was describing the scene after he was called up to the master bedroom of Jackson's rented Los Angeles mansion where the star died after an overdose of a powerful sedative. The defence team for the doctor insists Jackson self-administered other sedatives, prompting the overdose while his physician was outside the bedroom. Dr Murray, 58, faces up to four years in jail if convicted of involuntary manslaughter for administering the overdose of Propofol.

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Raids in 7 countries in $200M investment fraud

 

Dutch authorities say raids have been conducted in seven countries in connection with an alleged $200 million investment fraud scheme, and four men have been arrested. The country's financial crime prosecutors say they suspect hundreds of investors were conned into fraudulent investments in U.S. life insurance policies by a firm called Quality Investments BV. Prosecutors said Wednesday four Dutch men have been arrested, two in the Netherlands and one each in Switzerland and Turkey. Raids were also conducted in Spain, Dubai, England and the United States, in which millions of euros in assets were seized in hopes of recovering some money for duped investors.

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Global swoop nets huge haul of fake drugs: Interpol

 

Police and customs officers from 81 countries have seized 2.4 million doses of counterfeit medicine sold over the Internet during a one-week operation, international police body Interpol said Thursday. Fifty-five people were arrested during the September 20-27 operation, codenamed Pangea 4, and more than 13,000 websites closed down, Interpol said. More than 100,000 illegal doses were seized in France, over half of which were for supposed to be for treating male erection problems, France's medical security agency that took part in the operation, AFSSAPS, said. The operation was carried out for the fourth successive year in an effort to inform the public about the risks of buying medicines online. "Interpol's member countries and partners have shown through the success of Operation Pangea IV the Internet is not an anonymous safe haven for criminals trafficking illicit medicines," said Interpol secretary general Ronald Noble. The agency said it had targeted Internet service providers, online payment companies and delivery companies during the operation, in order that the whole supply chain of fake drugs be broken down. "We cannot halt the illicit online supply of medicines without a consistent, constant and collective international effort involving all sectors," said Aline Plancon, head of Interpol's fake drugs department. "The operation itself was only made possible thanks to a combined effort involving the 165 different participating agencies sharing and exchanging live information via Interpol's headquarters in Lyon," she said. Interpol has also posted messages on Internet video sharing sites warning punters "Don't Be Your Own Killer" by buying unlicensed pharmaceuticals.

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Motorway speed limit to be raised

 

The speed limit on Britain’s motorways is set to rise to 80mph but with a big expansion in the number 20mph zones in cities and towns, The Independent has learnt. As part of a deal negotiated with the Liberal Democrats the Transport Secretary Phillip Hammond is expected to announce the Government’s intention to bring in the new speed limit at the Conservative conference. Ministers will then consult on the proposal later in the year along with plans to significantly expand the number of areas in Britain covered by 20mph zones.

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Ferdinand loses privacy action

 

Rio Ferdinand has lost his privacy action over a "kiss and tell" story. The England and Manchester United centre back was not at London's High Court to hear Mr Justice Nicol dismiss his claim against MGN Ltd. Ferdinand, 32, brought his case for misuse of private information over an April 2010 Sunday Mirror article in which interior designer Carly Storey gave her account of their 13-year relationship in return for £16,000. The judge said: "Overall, in my judgment, the balancing exercise favours the defendant's right of freedom of expression over the claimant's right of privacy." Ferdinand had branded the piece - "My affair with England captain Rio" - a "gross invasion of my privacy", and said he had not seen Ms Storey for six years by the time it appeared. At a hearing in July, his lawyers asked for a maximum of £50,000 damages and a worldwide gagging order. Afterwards, Sunday Mirror editor Tina Weaver said in a statement: "The Sunday Mirror is very pleased that the court has rejected Rio Ferdinand's privacy claim. "The judge found that there was a justified public interest in reporting the off-pitch behaviour of the then England captain and discussion of his suitability for such an important and ambassadorial role representing the country. "There has never been greater scrutiny of the media than now, and we applaud this ruling in recognising the important role a free press has to play in a democratic society."

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Monday, 26 September 2011

Treasure hunters eye huge shipwreck haul

 

When the SS Gairsoppa was torpedoed by a German U-boat, it took its huge silver cargo to a watery grave. Seventy years later, US divers said they are working to recover what may well be the biggest shipwreck haul ever. Florida-based Odyssey Marine Exploration on Monday confirmed the identity and location of the Gairsoppa and cited official documents indicating the ship was carrying some 219 tons of silver coins and bullion when it sank in 1941 in the North Atlantic some 490km off the Irish coast. That's worth about $200m today, which would make it history's largest recovery of precious metals lost at sea, Odyssey said. "We've accomplished the first phase of this project -- the location and identification of the target shipwreck - and now we're hard at work planning for the recovery phase," Odyssey senior project manager Andrew Craig said in a statement. "Given the orientation and condition of the shipwreck, we are extremely confident that our planned salvage operation will be well suited for the recovery of this silver cargo." Recovery is expected to begin next spring. After a tender process the British government awarded Odyssey an exclusive salvage contract for the cargo, and under the agreement Odyssey will retain 80% of the silver bullion salvaged from the wreck. The 125m Gairsoppa had been sailing from India back to Britain in February 1941, and was in a convoy of ships when a storm hit. Running low on fuel, the Gairsoppa broke off from the convoy and set a course for Galway, Ireland. It never made it, succumbing to a U-boat's torpedo in the contested waters of the North Atlantic. Of the 85 people on board, only one survived. The Gairsoppa came to rest nearly 4 700m below the surface, but Odyssey is insisting that won't prevent a full cargo recovery. "We were fortunate to find the shipwreck sitting upright, with the holds open and easily accessible," Odyssey chief executive Greg Stemm said. "This should enable us to unload cargo through the hatches as would happen with a floating ship alongside a cargo terminal." Odyssey, a world leader in deep-ocean exploration, recently conducted remotely operated vehicles from its main ship, the Odyssey Explorer, to inspect the shipwreck. It said it acquired still and video imagery from the site which were used to confirm the identify and evaluate the condition of the Gairsoppa.

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Sunday, 25 September 2011

Settling in Britain is a privilege not a right

 

THE following is the summary of a speech delivered on September 15, 2011, by Britain’s Immigration Minister Damian Green at the Centre for Policy Studies [see full speech]. The speech is an indicator of the possible policy changes that will come out of the consultation currently underway into the reform of family migration. The consultation opened on July 13, 2011, and will close on October 6, 2011. It is important that as migrants to this country, we take time out to respond to this consultation as judging from Green’s speech it will have far reaching consequences for immigrants . Some of the proposals on the table include the following: # Whilst recognising that marriage is a personal decision, it is argued that it has implications on the wider society and therefore the spouse seeking settlement will be expected to demonstrate that they have integrated into British society. It is proposed to increase the probationary period for a non-EEA spouse or partner to apply for settlement from two to five years. It is argued that, this will allow additional time to integrate into British life and give authorities a longer period in which to test the genuineness of the relationship before permanent residence in the UK is granted on the basis of it. Ministers also believe this will also make the route less attractive to those whose sole purpose is to gain settlement in Britain. It is also argued that extending the probationary period will reduce the burden to the taxpayer by postponing access to non-contributory benefits like income support. # Immediate settlement for adult dependents will be stopped. Currently under paragraph 317 of the immigration rules, a sponsor who is settled in the UK can sponsor adult dependents in certain circumstances. Instead, a probationary period of five years will be introduced before they can apply for settlement. As a result, their in-country application for settlement will be subject to meeting the English language skills requirement. # In fact the English language test is to be extended to all adult family migrants under 65 as well as dependents aged 16 and 17. The justification Green uses for this is the rather shock data that in one year, 2009-10, the Department of Work and Pensions spent £2.6 million on telephone interpreting services and nearly £400,000 on document translation. # The outcome of the consultation is likely to come up with a minimum maintenance threshold. Presently, it has been safe to argue that if the income meets the income support threshold then it demonstrates sufficiently that they can be accommodated and maintained without recourse to public funds. The Migration Advisory Committee has been tasked to come up with a new minimum income threshold for sponsors of dependents for maintenance and accommodation. The new threshold will take into account the number and age of the dependents sponsored. # It looks like third party support is on its way out except in compelling and compassionate circumstances. Presently, it has been possible to show that a third party will assist with the maintenance requirements. But Green argues that it is not easy for the UK Border Agency to verify this. # The dependents of points-based migrants are to face a probationary period increase of two to five years before settlement. # For some time now, there has been an expression of dissatisfaction by the UK Border Agency about the right of appeal in family visit visa matters. It will come as a surprise given what appears to be routine refusals from the Pretoria entry clearance team that a staggering 73% of the family visits applications are granted. Green argues that the tax payer has to foot the bill for the right of appeal where people produce better evidence than they could have produced at the initial application stage. His argument is reinforced by the statics that family visit appeals made up 40% of all immigration appeals and that it cost the taxpayer around £40 million a year. About 63% of the family visits matters are allowed on appeal. The consultation proposes to end the right of appeal and argues that one can submit a new application instead. As I stated above, it is a good idea to read the consultation and respond to it. At first blush, the 77-page consultation document can appear daunting but it does provide a useful insight into where this government intends to take its immigration policy

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Saturday, 24 September 2011

Former deputy editor received £25,000 from News of the World publisher after starting work as consultant with police force

news-world-paid-wallis-met
Former News of the World deputy editor Neil Wallis leaving Hammersmith police station in July. Photograph: Murray Sanders/Mail On Sunday

The relationship between the police and the News of the World has come under fire again amid revelations that Neil Wallis, the former deputy editor of the News of the World, was paid by the paper's publisher for "crime exclusives" while working for the Metropolitan police.

Wallis was secretly paid more than £25,000 by News International after he left the paper and got a contract to work two days a month as a PR consultant with the Met. One story earned him a single payment of £10,000.

The Daily Telegraph claims that internal records obtained by Scotland Yard show that he was paid for providing News International with details of a suspected assassination attempt on the Pope during his visit to the UK last year.

A spokesman for Scotland Yard said the contract it had with Wallis's PR firm, Chamy Media, "had a confidentiality clause, a data protection act clause and a conflict of interest clause within it".

He added that Wallis did not have access to the Met's IT systems.

The revelations that Wallis received money from News International while working for Scotland Yard will raise questions about conflicts of interest.

Last month, it emerged that Andy Coulson, the former editor of the News of the World, continued to receive payments from News International as part of a severance deal after he was employed by the Tory party as its director of communications.

Wallis's solicitor has made a complaint alleging that the police had leaked the information regarding the payments.

 

 

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Friday, 23 September 2011

Suit Planned Against News Corp. in U.S. Over Phone Hacking

 

lawyer representing some of Britain’s phone hacking victims said on Friday that he was planning legal action in the United States against the News Corporation, the parent company of Rupert Murdoch’s global media empire. Enlarge This Image Luke Macgregor/Reuters Mark Lewis said he had held discussions about the steps needed to proceed against the News Corporation in New York. Multimedia Interactive Graphic Key Figures in the Phone Hacking Case Graphic Statements by Top Figures in the Hacking Scandal Interactive Feature Anatomy of the News International Scandal Related Millions May Go to Girl’s Family in Hacking Case (September 20, 2011) Times Topic: British Phone Hacking Scandal (News of the World) In a series of interviews in London, the lawyer, Mark Lewis, said he had held discussions with American lawyers about the steps necessary to open proceedings against the News Corporation in New York, and that he expected the process to begin soon. He said he had hired Norman Siegel, a New York lawyer who has represented many of the families of those killed in the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, to handle the case. In an interview with Sky News, a British television network that is part of the Murdoch empire, Mr. Lewis said that the legal action in the United States would focus on the “News Corporation’s liability for actions by its foreign subsidiaries,” including the tabloid The News of the World, which has been at the center of the phone hacking scandal and was closed in July. He said the lawsuits would focus on the revelations of widespread phone hacking in Britain and on accusations that the police were bribed to assist in the tabloid’s pursuit of scoops. Mr. Lewis did not respond to voice mail messages requesting an interview on the issue. In another development, Andy Coulson, a former editor of The News of the World, has sued News International, the News Corporation’s British subsidiary, because it stopped paying for his legal fees in the hacking case, the BBC reported. Mr. Coulson, who was arrested in July in connection with the investigations into phone hacking and payments to police officials under his editorship, resigned in January as the communications director for Prime Minister David Cameron. Mr. Lewis, based on his remarks in the interviews with Sky News, the BBC and the newspaper The Guardian, appeared to be relying, as a basis for the American legal action, on the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, a 1977 statute that holds American companies and their executives liable for corrupt activities abroad, including bribery of foreign officials. In the Sky News interview, he said part of the reason for pursuing the News Corporation in American courts was the prospect of higher damage settlements than are customary in the British courts. The prospect of defending itself against civil suits in American courts would add a daunting new dimension to the challenges facing the News Corporation as a result of the phone hacking revelations in Britain. But some legal experts in Britain said that Mr. Lewis’s announcement was a publicity stunt, and that the move could complicate legal proceedings in Britain. Mark Thomson, a British lawyer who also represents phone hacking victims, issued a brusque statement disassociating himself from Mr. Lewis’s action. Mr. Thomson said the class-action lawsuit he has filed on behalf of his clients will go to trial in Britain in January, adding, “My clients are not taking part in the reported action in New York.” This week, News International offered a settlement of about $3.2 million, and a further payment of about $1.6 million to go to charity, to the family of Milly Dowler, a teenage murder victim whose voice mail messages were intercepted by The News of the World. The scandal has led to strong pressures on James Murdoch, a son of Rupert Murdoch who leads the company’s European and Asian operations. Both denied any prior knowledge of the practices at The News of the World.

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Phone hacking: Ex-editor Coulson sues newspaper group

 

Former News of the World editor Andy Coulson is suing his ex-employer after it stopped paying his legal fees in relation to the phone-hacking scandal. His lawyers have filed papers at the High Court against News International subsidiary News Group Newspapers. Mr Coulson was arrested in July over NoW phone-hacking allegations. He denies knowledge of the practice. It has emerged some UK victims of alleged hacking are considering US legal action against News Corporation. US lawyers have been asked to explore the possibility of a case against Rupert Murdoch's media group. Arrangement ended Papers were filed at the High Court by Mr Coulson's lawyers on Thursday. BBC political correspondent Robin Brant said: "Even though Andy Coulson hasn't worked for the publishers of the now-defunct News of the World for more than four years, the paper's owners were still paying his legal fees in relation to the hacking investigations. "But following Rupert Murdoch's appearance at the Home Affairs Select Committee in July the arrangement ended." Mr Coulson resigned as Prime Minister David Cameron's director of communications in January, saying that the ongoing coverage of the phone-hacking scandal was making it too difficult for him to do his job. But he has always said he knew nothing about phone hacking under his editorship of the News of the World. Met stories claim Meanwhile, the Telegraph newspaper has claimed that News International paid Mr Coulson's former deputy, Neil Wallis, for stories when Mr Wallis was working for the Metropolitan Police. Mr Wallis became executive editor of News of the World after Mr Coulson left and, after his tenure, left to work as a PR consultant at Scotland Yard. Neil Wallis worked for News of the World before working as a PR consultant for the Met It is understood the contract involved him working two days a month at £1,000 a day, for Met Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson and Assistant Commissioner John Yates. Mr Wallis was arrested in July and his arrest was followed by the resignations of those two senior officers. The Telegraph claims that while Mr Wallis was on the payroll at Scotland Yard, he was paid more than £25,000 by News International to pass on information for stories. It alleges he was paid £10,000 for one story alone. On Friday night, Neil Wallis's lawyer issued a statement alleging that Scotland Yard had leaked information about Mr Wallis. Scotland Yard have confirmed they received a letter of complaint from the lawyer. They say Neil Wallis had signed a conflict of interest clause in his contract when he worked for them and also that he did not have access to the Met's IT systems. The allegations came on the same day it emerged News International had already agreed some settlements with UK victims of phone hacking. Mark Lewis, UK lawyer for a small group of alleged victims, told the BBC News channel: "Although events might have happened in territories abroad, the American organisation can be responsible. "News Corporation - although it's an American organisation, although these claimants are to large extent British and the events that might have happened in Britain, although some happened while people were away - they are meant to have some control under American law, have a great deal of control over what happens in foreign subsidiaries." He added: "We are looking at the practices of control effectively - of directors, and of knowledge of directors, and knowledge or what should have been knowledge of directors, of a large corporation based in America." Payouts US lawyer Norman Siegel told BBC News he was at an "exploratory phase" of examining evidence that had emerged in the UK to see if US federal laws or New York state laws may have been violated. When contacted on Friday, News Corporation declined to comment. The News of the World phone-hacking scandal led to the closure of the UK tabloid in July after 168 years in print. A number of people have been arrested, including Mr Coulson, as part of Scotland Yard's investigation - Operation Weeting - into phone-hacking allegations. Settlements already agreed by News International include: a reported £700,000 to Gordon Taylor of the Football Association; £100,000 in damages plus costs to actress Sienna Miller; £20,000 in damages to football pundit Andy Gray. It is thought that a £2m settlement has been agreed with the family of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler, with Mr Murdoch also thought to be making a personal donation of £1m to charity as part of the deal. The revelation that the voicemail of Milly's mobile phone had been hacked, when she was missing but before her body had been found, reignited the phone-hacking scandal in July.

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This is the buff soldier who exchanged numbers with Cheryl Cole.


Andy Baker plans to meet up with the former X Factor judge after the pair met during her morale-boosting trip to Afghanistan.

The pair were introduced at an award presentation at Camp Bastion and met again a barracks dinner.

New man? Soldier Andy Baker caught Cheryl Cole's eye during her moral-boosting trip to Afghanistan and he hopes to take her out for dinner

New man? Soldier Andy Baker caught Cheryl Cole's eye during her moral-boosting trip to Afghanistan and he hopes to take her out for dinner

They posed for several photos together and once Cheryl returned home, she said she planned to give her 'gorgeous soldier' a call.

Buff: It's easy to see what attracted the singer to Andy, known as Bagsy to his friends

Buff: It's easy to see what attracted the singer to Andy, known as Bagsy to his friends

Andy, 25, who is known as Bagsy to his peers, plans to meet up with her once he returns home.

His brother-in-law Graham Peck told the Daily Mirror yesterday: 'Andy would love to take Cheryl out for dinner when he’s back in the UK.

'He thought she was absolutely lovely, and really gorgeous – I think all the guys did.

 

 

“Andy contacted me through Facebook, raving about Cheryl and even made a photo of them his profile picture.

'They met up a couple of times during her trip and hit it off.'

But the Girls Aloud star may have to wait until next month as Andy has no mobile phone service until October 1.

Graham added: 'When Bagsy read that Cheryl was planning on ringing her mystery soldier, he panicked because he’s not allowed to have his phone on for another nine days – it’s military rules.

'He wants her to know that he’ll be in touch the moment he lands, and wants her to wait for him. Andy’s a great guy and keeps himself fit in the gym.'

 

Popstar to soldier: Cheryl was seen wearing army fatigues with her surname embroided on the pocket of her shirt

Popstar to soldier: Cheryl was seen wearing army fatigues with her surname embroided on the pocket of her shirt

Andy, of Colchester, Essex, sports an enviable six-pack and has a tattoo sprawling from his left wrist and across his chest.

He serves with the tough 3 Commando Brigade, the Royal Navy’s amphibious infantry and has been in the Marines for four years.

Andy is currently based in the Marines’ Logistics branch and earns about £29,000 a year, compared with Cheryl's ex husband Ashley Cole's £90,000 a week.

He is also apparently a keen footballer.

One of the troops: Cheryl with a group of servicemen

One of the troops: Cheryl with a group of servicemen during her visit to Afghanistan

After her trip, Cheryl said: 'Not only are the soldiers incredibly brave, a few were incredibly cute. There was a bit of banter with a couple of the lads and yes, a few flirted I think.

'I came back with a phone number from one lad, although I think his talking to me was a dare.

'I think I am going to call him this week and let’s see what happens. I’m sure he’s not expecting us to, but that’s why it’ll be funny.'


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Dowler lawyer pursues US legal action against News Corp

 

The solicitor who represented the family of Milly Dowler in their phone-hacking claims against News Corporation on Friday announced he has teamed up with US lawyers with a view to initiating proceedings targetting Rupert Murdoch and his son James. Mark Lewis of Taylor Hampton has instructed Norman Siegel, a New York-based lawyer who represents 20 9/11 families to seek witness statements from News Corp and directors including the Murdochs in relation to allegations that News of the World staff may have bribed police. He says he intends to assess whether he can launch a class action against News Corp using American foreign corruption laws, which make it illegal for US companies to pay bribes to government officials abroad. "There is a provision within US law, before you start an action to seek depositions from individuals, in this case, such as James Murdoch and Rupert Murdoch and other directors of News Corp," said Lewis. He added Siegel would examine allegations of not just police bribery but also phone hacking and "foreign malpractices." The move will be a fresh setback for News Corp which has been trying to insulate itself against contagion from the UK phone-hacking scandal that has engulfed its British publishing empire. Separately, it emerged that this week US prosecutors at the Department of Justice have written to Murdoch's News Corporation requesting information on alleged payments made to the British police by the News of the World. The DoJ is looking into whether the company may have violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). Under FCPA laws, American companies are banned from paying representatives of a foreign government to gain a commercial advantage. The decision to co-ordinate legal efforts on both sides of the Atlantic comes just days after News International confirmed it was in settlement talks with the parents of the murdered 13-year-old schoolgirl. News International is discussing a total package of around £3m including a personal donation from Rupert Murdoch of £1m to a charity of the Dowler's choice. News Corp declined to comment but it is understood that senior executives question whether there is any basis for Lewis's actions.

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Thursday, 22 September 2011

Scottish supermarkets face extra tax on selling alcohol

 

Plans to hike business rates for major retailers of alcohol and tobacco in Scotland could see supermarkets pay around £110 million in tax over the next three years.   Finance Secretary John Swinney announced the new levy yesterday, as part of the Scottish government’s Spending Review.   Swinney said the review contained “tough choices, because of the cuts from Westminster that go too far, too fast”.   “We have had to restrict pay costs, reluctantly implement pensions increases on public sector staff, and maximise the income gained from asset sales,” he said.   He outlined that part of the extra revenue brought in would come from a tax on major retailers who sell alcohol and tobacco.   The measure was a surprise announcement, as during the last parliament a proposal to introduce a “Tesco tax” was voted down and it was not included the SNP’s manifesto.   Scottish Retail Consortium director Ian Shearer said: “This new tax is a blatant fund-raising exercise which is illogical and discriminatory. It targets a part of the retail sector which funds Drinkaware, rigorously prevents under-age sales with Challenge 25 and has led the way on clear alcohol labelling, giving it an exemplary record on the sale of alcohol and tobacco.   “Supermarket margins are already cut to the bone as stores compete to offer the best deals to cash-strapped consumers. The UK already has some of the highest alcohol taxes in Europe. This tax would make it harder for food retailers to keep prices down for customers, and makes Scotland a less attractive place to do business, invest and create jobs.”   The WSTA's Jeremy Beadles said he was "disappointed" the meaure had been announced with no consultation.   "The tax on large retailers will place an additional burden on Scottish businesses and push the price up for all consumers regardless of whether they consume alcohol at all,” he added.   “At a time of financial constraint, when many businesses in Scotland are already feeling the pinch and paying increase rates, we do not believe that punishing responsible consumers in Scotland with another tax is either fair or justified.”     Minimum alcohol unit pricing could become as reality north of the border by next summer, although the price has not yet been set. The Scottish government claims it is the “most effective and efficient way” of reducing consumption and alcohol related harm.

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Bloody Sunday family rejects payout

 

Relatives of one of the Bloody Sunday victims have firmly rejected any offer of Government compensation. Sisters Linda and Kate Nash, whose teenage brother William was among 14 men who died after paratroopers opened fire on civil rights protesters in Londonderry in January 1972, said: "I find it repulsive." The Ministry of Defence has confirmed that moves are under way to compensate the families following representation from solicitors acting on behalf of some of the relatives. The Nash sisters said they would not take money for personal financial gain: "Not under any circumstances will I ever accept money for the loss of my brother. "I find it repulsive, taking anything from the MoD. If the MoD wants to set up bursaries they can, but not in my brother's name," Ms Nash said. Prime Minister David Cameron has already apologised to victims and said the shootings were wrong. An MOD spokesman said: "We acknowledge the pain felt by these families for nearly 40 years, and that members of the armed forces acted wrongly. For that, the Government is deeply sorry. We are in contact with the families' solicitors and where there is a legal liability to pay compensation, we will do so." Lord Saville drew up a landmark report last year which criticised the Army over the killings. His panel ruled that the Army fired first and without provocation. It found that all 14 who died and the others who were injured almost four decades ago were unarmed and completely innocent. The MoD's move followed a letter sent to the Prime Minister by solicitors for the families, asking what he was going to do about Bloody Sunday. He described the killings as unjustified and unjustifiable. Defining who would be eligible for compensation could be complicated as many immediate family members are already dead. Relatives received a small payment worth a few hundred pounds from the MOD, without admitting liability, shortly after the event.

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Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Manchester airport reopens after bomb scare

 

Manchester Airport’s main terminal has reopened after bomb disposal experts were called in to check a suspicious package on Wednesday, police said. A man was being questioned, although police said earlier reports that he was being held under the Terrorism Act were inaccurate. The package, a bag, was found to be safe. The airport’s operators had earlier said 11 flights leaving Terminal 1 would be affected. Incoming flights are operating normally and the airport’s two other terminals remained open. Manchester Airport is Britain’s fourth biggest and handles around 20 million passengers each year.

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former X Factor judge and Girls Aloud singer said she would consider becoming a fashion designer and launch her own range.

Cheryl ColeIs Cheryl Cole the new Victoria Beckham? (Picture: PA)

The former X Factor judge and Girls Aloud singer said she would consider becoming a fashion designer  and launch her own range. 

Asked by The Guardian if she'd like her own fashion collection, she replied: 'Do you know what? I wouldn't rule it out, actually. I have loved designing these shoes. I haven't enjoyed a project so much in a long time. So, yes, it might be the start of something.' 

Chezza stepped out earlier this week during London Fashion Week to launch her shoe collection with website Stylistpick.com at The Home House. 

The star will also be choosing her favourite items from the online accessory store's collections and telling fans why she likes them in a new blog. 

Stylistpick’s chief creative officer Juliet Warkentin said: ‘We are thrilled to be working with Cheryl. Cheryl is the style icon and is amazingly warm, a quality that has made her the nation's favourite. 

'We believe that the launch will have a huge fashion impact; establishing fashion's greatest influencer as a major force in fashion design and further democratising fashion.’




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Brit Designers Shine At London Fashion Week

"The truth is that all the ideas come out of here," he said.

"Before they used to be picked up by every other designer from around the world, diluted and communicated to other parts of the world and other people were making the money.

 

London Fashion Week

Models display creations by British born designer Osman

 

"Maybe now it is becoming a lot more important.

"I think Burberry, in a way, bringing their shows back to England has been very important because they have managed to bring the attention back here - that England isn't only a hub of ideas but it is also a business and there is an industry working and people are making it happen."

 

Rosario Dawson (left) and Pippa Middleton

Rosario Dawson and Pippa Middleton on the front row at Temperley catwalk

 

The runways have seen a global standard of models showcasing collections, with designers including Burberry Prorsum, Christopher Kane, Erdem, Jonathan Saunders, Mario Schwab and Mary Katrantzou.

US-based media analytics company Global Language Monitor recently ranked London as the Global Fashion Capital, overtaking New York.

It said the Alexander McQueen wedding dress that Kate Middleton wore at her royal wedding moved London from third to top position.

 

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Cheryl Cole 'Falls For Hunky Soldier' In Afghanistan | Cheryl Cole

 

It seems Cheryl Cole has finally put her failed marriage to footballer Ashley Cole behind her, after apparently falling for a "gorgeous" solider in Afghanistan. The Girls Aloud beauty, who visited Camp Bastion in Helmand Province to boost troops morale, claims to have swapped numbers with the hunky young corporal after taking a shine to him during her trip last week. Chezza confessed to The Mirror: "Not only are the soldiers incredibly brave, a few were also incredibly cute. I actually came back with a phone number from one lad." "He started chatting to me after I'd been shot at during a training exercise. Obviously it wasn't real ammunition, but it was still terrifying." She continued: "Anyway, I think I am going to call him this week and we'll see what happens. I'm sure he's not expecting me to ring but that's why it'll be funny - and that's why I'm going to do it." Cheryl went on to admit that she is realistic about any chances of romance with the lucky solider, stating: "Long-distance relationships are a nightmare – a big time difference is a killer because it’s just so hard to stay in touch.” As well as proving a hit with the men, the former X Factor judge also seems to have charmed ladies, claiming: "There really were so many handsome guys – even some of the girl soldiers were totally gorgeous. Loads of the girls are now following me on Twitter and tweeting me. It’s great.” The 28-year old added: “I’d love to stay in touch with some of the incredible people I was lucky enough to meet.”

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Tuesday, 20 September 2011

British man breaks his hip in new 'balconing' incident

 

British man has broken his hip in yet another case of ‘balconing’ on the Baleares. The 29 year old, who was said to be very drunk, fell from the first floor of his hotel when trying to cross to the neighbouring balcony. It was a fall of some 3 metres and happened in Avenida Isidor Macabich in Sant Antoni. He was taken to the Can Misses Hospital where he is expected to stay for a few days. The Guardia Civil is in charge of the investigation, although the Local Police also attended the incident.

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Ibiza fire brought under control

 

Some 1,200 people were evacuated overnight as their homes in the Roca Llisa urbanisation in the town of Santa Eulàra des Riu were threatened by the fire. The fire was declared at 8pm on Sunday afternoon in Cala Llonga, but given the size of the blaze in the early hours of Monday, 16 men from the Emergency Military Units UME were scrambled to the scene to reinforce the fire crews already working. They arrived on the island overnight on two helicopters. 160 fire fighters brought the fire under control on Monday morning, and there are no reports of any injuries. A total of 115 hectares were affected. In a separate incident a fire at Marratxí on Mallorca has affected some 5 hectares and is now also under control.

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Marrakesh bomb trial to resume

 

The trial in Morocco of nine suspects in a bomb attack in April that killed 17 people, mainly European tourists, is set to resume on Thursday with bereaved relatives in attendance. The main suspect, 25-year-old Adil El-Atmani, and his accomplices face the death penalty if proven guilty. The trial opened on June 30 but was then adjourned to August 18 and further postponed to September 22 in order to allow the plaintiffs to prepare their case. "So far the trial is taking place in normal conditions. The judicial guarantees are there and personally, I'm ready. So I don't wish for another postponement," Omar Abouzouhour, a lawyer for nine of the victims' families, told AFP. The nine suspects are accused of "seriously undermining public order, premeditated murder and laying an ambush, the possession of and making of explosives, and belonging to a banned religious group." The victims, most of them tourists, included eight French nationals as well as citizens of Britain, Canada, Switzerland, Portugal and The Netherlands. Relatives of the victims of the April 28 attack on the terrace of a cafe on Marrakesh's bustling Djemaa El-Fna square are in Morocco for the hearing. The Marrakesh bombing was the most deadly in the north African kingdom since attacks in the coastal city of Casablanca in 2003 which killed 33 people and 12 suicide bombers. Security sources have alleged that El-Atmani, wearing a wig and carrying a guitar, left two bags containing bombs on the cafe terrace and triggered the blasts with a mobile phone just after leaving. Major cracks "Morocco wants this trial to wind up by the end of December, they want it to finish as quickly as possible because every time you talk about the attack, it doesn't do any good to the tourism industry," said Jacques Sombret, one of the French victims' father.

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Pippa Middleton sat front row at the Temperley London show at London Fashion Week


Pippa Middleton had a prime seat at the Temperley runway show at London Fashion Week at the British Museum. (Tim Whitby - GETTY IMAGES)
 on Monday, taking in the elegant 2012 resort collection by Alice Temperley next to British journalist Peaches Geldof and actress Rosario Dawson.

The line contained garments that could easily be seen on either Middleton sister, with tailored jackets and clean cocktail dresses. Drop-waist dresses and a ’20s flapper vibe was also incorporated in the collection, a trend that was also seen during Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in New York last week.

This is not the first time Pippa and Temperley have appeared in the same headline. The royal bridesmaid wore an emerald green gown by the designer for Kate and Will’s post-wedding festivities in April.

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Gadhafi spotted as rebels capture parts of south Libya town

 

Fugitive Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi was spotted in the southern city of Sabha a few days ago, the regional daily Asharq al-Awsat reported on Tuesday, citing an eyewitness. The witness claimed that Gadhafi was living in the city, located around 750 kilometers south of the capital Tripoli. Anti-Gadhafi fighters firing a cannon near Sirte, the hometown of deposed leader Muammar Gadhafi, September 17, 2011. Photo by: Reuters Gadhafi's whereabouts have been unknown since rebels took over Tripoli in August. However, he continues to send statements and voice messages through the Syria-based al-Rai channel. The report comes after the anti-Gadhafi rebels said they took over parts of Sabha city as well as its airport. "The airport of Sabha has been liberated by our fighters," a military spokesman, Colonel Ahmed Bani, said in Tripoli on Monday. "Also two villages near Sabha have been liberated." For around a week the rebels have been fighting pro-Gadhafi fighters, who have put up stiff resistance in his birthplace of Sirte and the desert town of Bani Walid, south-east of Tripoli. Almost a month after they overran Tripoli, the rebels are at pains to take control of the two strongholds before their leaders can declare all of the North African country "liberated."

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Charlie Sheen to pocket $25 million from settlement over ‘Men’ firing

Charlie Sheen to pocket $25 million from settlement over ‘Men’ firing   	Washington: Looks like Charlie Sheen is close to settling his 100-million-dollars legal dispute with Warner Bros. over his firing from the hit sitcom ‘Two and a Half Men’.

 

 

A person familiar with the talks, has revealed that the studio is wrapping up a deal to end the litigation.

According to The Los Angeles Times, Sheen is expected to receive about 25 million dollars from the Hollywood studio. The figure represents Sheen’s participation in profits from the show.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for Warner Bros. denied there is a settlement and declined to comment further. 

 

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NAVY recruit flipped and killed an officer in a gun rampage on a nuclear sub after he was told off for his cleaning work.

Ryan Donovan, 23, fired his SA80 semi-automatic rifle after his hopes of a voyage on a surface ship were dashed as punishment for his shoddy work.

He was also obsessed with violent video games and told a friend he wanted to carry out a Grand Theft Auto-style "kill frenzy".

Yesterday the HMS Astute able seaman was jailed for life by a judge who heard he opened fire on two superiors he blamed — only to miss.

 

Victim ... Ian Molyneux with wife Gill
Victim ... Ian Molyneux 
with wife Gill

 

The shots were heard by Lieutenant Commander Ian Molyneux, 36, who rushed to tackle him during a goodwill visit by the sub to Southampton in April.

Donovan murdered him with a bullet to the head, then stepped over his body to the control room.

There he wounded Lt Cdr Christopher Hodge, 45, in the stomach before being wrestled to the ground by Southampton council leader Royston Smith and chief executive Alistair Neill — who were touring the sub.

Three days earlier Donovan of Dartford, Kent, disobeyed a direct order to clean a section of the sub after it failed inspections, Winchester Crown Court heard.

 

Hero ... Royston Smith, right, on sub visit
Hero ... Royston Smith, right, on sub visit

 

Gangsta rap fan Donovan — who called himself Reggie Moondog — told a fellow sailor hours before his rampage: "I'm going to kill somebody. I'm not f****** kidding, and then watch the news."

He admitted murder and attempted murder and was caged for a minimum of 25 years. The widow of the dead officer — a dad of four — wept just feet away.

Outside court Gill Molyneux paid tribute to her Weapons Engineer Officer husband, describing him as "my hero and true love".

 

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Clegg condemns 'grotesque' hacking

 

No amount of money can absolve News International from hacking in to the phone of Surrey murder victim Milly Dowler, Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg has said , following the disclosure that the company was about to settle its case with the teenager's family. Rupert Murdoch is set to donate £1 million to charity from his own pocket, while the Dowlers themselves will receive in the region of £2 million in a separate payout from News International, the publishers of the now-closed News of the World. The company has confirmed it is in "advanced negotiations" with relatives of the 13-year-old, who was abducted and killed by Levi Bellfield in 2002. On Tuesday Mr Clegg said no amount of money could absolve the company for what happened. He said: "It is not for me to decide what money News International offer the Dowlers. I think it is very, very important we now give the Dowler family the time and space they need to rebuild their lives and move on. "I think the reason why people were so outraged by the invasion of the privacy of the Dowler family is that they weren't celebrities, they weren't politicians, they hadn't asked to be put on the front page of the nation's newspapers. I have met them and they are a lovely, strong, every-day family who lost their daughter and were dealing with that terrible tragedy and even then these journalists - it's just grotesque - were invading their privacy. "In a sense I think, and I am sure the Dowlers feel the same, that no amount of money can absolve people for what they did." News International is reported to have set aside £20 million for payments to phone hacking victims, but a source said the size of the expected compensation for the Dowlers reflected the "wholly exceptional circumstances" of their case. Sources close to the Dowlers have said any agreement will feature a donation to charity. It is not yet known which cause, or causes, would benefit. A News International spokesman said: "News International confirms it is in advanced negotiations with the Dowler family regarding their compensation settlement. No final agreement has yet been reached, but we hope to conclude the discussions as quickly as possible."

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Monday, 19 September 2011

UK Home Office considering gender-neutral passports

 

The Home Office has said it is considering the possibility of not displaying gender on passports. The proposals follow changes to Australian passport rules, which mean that intersex people who identify as neither gender can be listed as ‘X’, rather than having to choose between male or female. A Home Office spokesman said: “We are exploring with international partners and relevant stakeholders the security implications of gender not being displayed on the passport.” Currently, transgender people can obtain passports in their new gender. But intersex people – those born with chromosomal or genital ambiguity – must pick whether they are male or female. Supporters of gender-neutral passports say there is little need for passports to list gender and argue that other forms of ID do not state the information. Intersex rights campaigner Jennie Kermode told PinkNews.co.uk last week that the change would be easy to implement. She said: “The passport offices in the UK will not issue passports with the ‘X’ option now, although they could do so without, as I understand it, any necessary change in UK laws.” Another campaigner, Jane Fae, said: “The issue of documenting gender goes much wider than the ‘feelings of trans and intersect people’. In fact many in the trans community would oppose the removal of gender as its inclusion on passports is vital to ensure safety when travelling abroad. “Many non-trans individuals would be happier not declaring gender for all sorts of reasons. It should be optional for all.”

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Ms Moran, 56, looked a shadow of her former self as she arrived to face 21 charges at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in central London.

 

One count alleges that she falsely claimed £22,500 for dry rot on a home in Southampton more than 100 miles from her constituency.

The former Labour member for Luton South sobbed throughout the brief hearing and was passed a tissue by a court official.

No plea was entered and jurisdiction in the case was declined by District Judge Daphne Wickham on the grounds of the nature and complexity of the charges and sums involved.

They allegations consist of 15 counts of false accounting and six of forgery.

Moran, of Ivy Road, St Denys, Southampton, was remanded on unconditional bail to appear at London’s Southwark Crown Court on October 28 for a plea and case management hearing.

The former politician spoke only briefly, in a faltering voice, to confirm her name and date of birth.

Moran looked almost unrecognisable as she arrived at court this morning with a dark grey beret over her head, wearing glasses, and clutching a handkerchief to her mouth.

The auburn tresses and bright clothes seen in previous photographs were replaced by a sober dark suit and blonde hair.

In court she continued to sob into a handkerchief as she waited for the hearing to start.

The criminal probe into Moran began after an investigation by The Daily Telegraph.


Margaret Moran in May 2009 and arriving at Westminster Magistrates Court today (PA/NICHOLAS RAZZELL)

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Six held in major anti-terror probe

 

Six men have been arrested in connection with one of the most significant intelligence-led counter-terrorism operations this year. The men were detained at or near their homes in Birmingham on suspicion of the commission, preparation or instigation of an act of terrorism in the UK following a joint investigation by both police and MI5. It is understood the investigation relates to suspected Islamist extremism, but it is not thought that an attack or threat was imminent. A seventh person, a 22-year-old woman, was arrested on suspicion of failing to disclose information contrary to the Terrorism Act 2000, police said. West Midlands Police said the "large-scale operation" had been running for some time and had been subject to regular review, adding that the action was necessary "in order to ensure public safety".

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Dale Farm residents celebrate court victory

 

Dale Farm residents have won a last-gasp injunction restraining Basildon Council from clearing structures from the site pending a further hearing at London's High Court on Friday. Mr Justice Edwards-Stuart granted the order at London's High Court on the basis that there was a realistic apprehension that the measures to be taken - while genuinely believed in by the council - "may go further" than the terms of the enforcement notices. Travellers and their supporters had barricaded themselves behind newly built brick walls and chained themselves to fences as officials prepare to evict them from an illegal site in southeast England at the end of a decade-long battle. Supporter Jake Fulton said: "This is really great news but this isn't over yet. It makes us feel we have a really good shot at defending travellers in a way that has never happened before." The showdown between the bailiffs, travellers and a variety of protest groups who have joined their cause marks the climax of one of Britain's most contentious and bitter planning rows in recent years. Basildon Council said last-ditch talks had broken down on Monday morning after the travellers asked for the eviction to be delayed until November 22.

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Dale Farm Eviction: Clashes Expected Between Bailiffs And Residents As Eviction Begins

 

Hundreds of travellers have said they will barricade themselves inside the UK's biggest illegal camp as angry clashes are expected between bailiffs, residents and activists. Residents at Dale Farm in Basildon, Essex, and their supporters are set to be evicted after losing a decade-long legal fight over unauthorised development. Teams of bailiffs are expected at the former scrapyard's front gate to begin forcibly ejecting them. Essex Police and riot-trained colleagues from across the country are also expected, to ensure the eviction of some 50 homes is conducted peacefully. Half of the six-acre site, which has planning consent, will remain. As of this morning Basildon Council had not cut the electricity supply to the site. Residents had feared bailiffs would move in at first light. Supporters closed the gate after 11pm yesterday and built a barricade behind it and parked a van to block the way. Resident Mary McCarthy said: "I don't intend to go anywhere, I'm staying here. "I've faced constant evictions throughout my life and now I'm determined to stay put." Many residents have moved their caravans on to the neighbouring legal site. Activists have chained themselves to barricades at the site, including one who is chained by the neck. They have told Sky News they would not be leaving unless they were forced out. ACTIVIST: WE WILL DO ALL WE CAN TO STOP EVICTION Marie McCarthy, a resident at the site, told Sky News it was "a big scrapyard that is of no use to anyone else". "The Government is not going to ruin our culture," she said. "This is the way we want to live. "Why should we be run off our land? We never knew we were breaking the law - we thought this was a good thing to do because we stopped going onto people's grounds." Activists Dean, 29, and Emma, 18, have handcuffed themselves to a pole concreted inside a barrel. Lying on mattresses, the pair said they were prepared to stay as "long as it takes". The children of Dale Farm hold pictures of themselves up in protest The families have constantly evaded eviction and claim they have nowhere else to go. They insist that their human rights are being breached. Their supporters include the United Nations and Amnesty International. But last month a High Court judge backed Basildon council and local residents and ruled that the eviction must go ahead.

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Sunday, 18 September 2011

Gangland boss Carl Williams fingers cop Paul Dale from beyond grave

 

ON April 24, 2007, deep inside the razor wire of Victoria's Barwon Prison, gangland killer Carl Williams finally decided to tell his story about crooked cops and Melbourne's underworld war. Williams is now dead, but his lurid tale echoed from the grave yesterday as his version of history, made in three statements over two years, was read out to a spellbound audience in the Victorian Supreme Court trial of Williams's alleged murderer, Matthew Charles Johnson. Johnson has pleaded not guilty on the basis of self-defence. According to Williams's statements, his relationship with former policeman Paul Dale began nervously. The gangland killer and the policeman were so "paranoid" about each other that they once met in a swimming pool wearing only bathers so that neither could be "wired" with listening devices. But the court heard the dealings between this odd couple would blossom into something far more deadly. Before long, what began as merely secret payments for information escalated to a murder, sanctioned and paid for by Dale, Williams alleged. The tone of the gangland killer's statements are as casual as they are cold. When Williams heard that the hitman he hired at Dale's request to kill police informer Terrence Hodson had also killed his wife, Christine, he asked the gunman: "What happened with the sheila?" "That's not for you to worry about," the gunman replied, about which Williams said, "That was the end of the conversation". According to Williams, he met Dale following his release from prison in 2002 when Dale requested a meeting with him via another criminal. "I first met him at the Brunswick Club, where Lewis Moran was killed," Williams said. "He (Dale) was telling me he could keep an eye out for me. "In return, Dale expected to be paid for any information that he gave to me . . . I think we were both suspicious of each other at that time and remained so." Williams said, early on, Dale showed him a police report that revealed that an Asian man called Jimmy had been giving information to the police about Williams, who was called "Fat Boy" in the police report. "As a result of reading the report, I dropped off Jimmy and did no more (drug-dealing) business with him." The court heard that Williams's relationship with Dale grew as they met more often. "On most occasions when I met with Dale, I would give him an envelope with money in it. The money I paid Dale usually ranged from $2000 to $5000 each time." On one occasion, he said, Dale asked him if he wanted the detective to do anything to Williams's gangland rival Jason Moran. "It was pretty widely known that Jason and I had problems at the time," Williams said in his statement. "I didn't know whether they (Dale and a fellow detective) were fair dinkum or trying to set me up. Dale said he could kill Jason for $400,000. I told them they were dreaming." Williams claimed that Dale told him he had arranged internal police systems so Victoria Police would be unable to check on Williams without Dale knowing about it. "He told me he did this so that he could keep up to date with any investigations against me." At one stage, Williams said, Dale asked him to meet in a swimming pool near Seaford where Dale told Williams to tip off fellow gangland figure Tony Mokbel about a police investigation into a drug laboratory. "We met at the swimming pool because he was paranoid of me and I was paranoid of him," said Williams. "Dale had two pairs of shorts or swimming togs. We put these on and got into the pool and walked up and down in the water." The court heard that in his April 2007 statement, Williams said he had no knowledge of who killed the Hodsons at their Kew home in May 2004, but in his second statement, in January 2009, he was ready to reveal the hitman. "I didn't want to be a dog and be a protection prisoner, but my attitude has changed," he said. Williams alleged that Dale told him he had to "get" Hodson before he could give evidence at a committal hearing about his alleged involvement in a burglary involving drugs, in which Dale was implicated. He said: "We went for a walk. Dale told me that he had to get Hodson and he had to get Hodson before Dale's committal. "Dale said he didn't want to go back to jail. He said he had been in isolation and it was tough. "He said he had someone on the job but it was taking too long to get Hodson. Dale asked me if I could help him out." Williams claimed Dale told him the job would pay $150,000. Williams said he approached a hitman who he knew had "a reputation as a fairly ruthless bloke". He met with the hitman, who can't be named for legal reasons, on the ground floor of the Marriott hotel. "I told him there was a contract there for Terry Hodson and I told him the amount of $150,000. There was never any contract on his wife and I never mentioned Terry's wife to (the hitman)." Williams said he didn't know exactly when Hodson would be murdered and the first he heard about it was on the news. The court heard that a few days after the Hodsons' deaths, Williams's statement said, he got a call from Dale telling him "it's been dropped off". "I knew he was talking about the money for the Hodson murders," Williams said. "I was at my mum's when Dale made that call to me. I went and checked the bin. It was a large green wheelie bin that Mum kept inside the gate. Inside the bin, I saw a plastic bag and I took it out of the bin and went back inside." He said he counted the money, which was bundled in $10,000 amounts with rubber bands around it. "It might have been $100 or so short but effectively the money was all there." A few days later, Williams met the hitman at the Marriott again. "I left the bag containing the $150,000 on the ground next to our seats and he collected it." "(The hitman said) 'Quick, hey?' and smiled and chuckled. "I said to him: 'What happened with the sheila?' He said: 'That's not for you to worry about.' That was the end of the conversation. "I asked him about the sheila because I didn't think she needed to die and she wasn't a part of the contract. Having said that, I didn't push it any further." Williams said he never spoke again to the hitman about the Hodson murders. "It is an unspoken rule that once a job is done, you don't mention it again so you don't get caught out on a listening device or something." He also revealed that hitmen preferred to kill on cold days because "the cold weather means it's less likely that people will be out walking around and possibly witness something". In his January 2009 statement, Williams said "since I have been locked up, (lawyer Nicola) Gobbo has told me that Dale has asked after me and has asked if there is anything he can do for me. I just dismissed it because there was nothing he can do for me and I don't want to deal with him." Williams was bashed to death in Barwon jail in April last year.
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