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Government support 'crucial' for plans to 'transform' NHS

Some hospitals could close under the cuts

The Government must throw its weight behind plans that could lead to the closure of NHS hospitals and some services, a think tank has said.

The King's Fund said controversial sustainability and transformation plans (STPs), which aim to save cash but will lead to some cuts, offer the best hope of making progress in the NHS.

But Chris Ham, the think tank's chief executive, said the aim of cutting hospital beds, which many of the plans set out, is not realistic at a time when hospitals are already running at full capacity.

STPs have been created in 44 areas of England, setting out how the NHS will change services while also saving cash.

In several regions, the aim is to close or downgrade entire hospitals, while others suggest closing A&E departments or maternity, or merging some services.  

All focus on a desire to stem the rise in hospital admissions by providing care closer to people's homes.  

The new King's Fund report said there is currently an "uncertain"  level of political backing for STPs, which were ordered to be drawn up by NHS England.  

It argues politicians must face up to having difficult conversations with the public about which services should close.

Reconfiguring services "stands little chance of being implemented without support from the Government and a willingness to back NHS leaders where the case for change has been made", it adds, saying such support is "crucial".

Mr Ham  said: "We think it is necessary to do because if you're not willing to do go through that process and support plans of this kind, essentially you are colluding as politicians in the continuation of unsafe services.

"So politicians need to step up to the plate and be brave.

"Not in all cases ... because there have been examples of consultations in the past which haven't been well-founded.

"But where the evidence is clear, that's where Government and local politicians need to do their job."

Mr Ham said he did not agree however, with STP proposals to slash hospital beds.

The report said  any plans to reduce hospital beds should be tested "if necessary to destruction".

Mr Ham  said there was "no prospect realistically" of cutting beds when this winter had shown all the beds were needed.

Last November, the King's Fund said  STPs had been kept secret from the public and barely involved frontline staff.

NHS England ordered local health leaders not to reveal the plans to the public or the media until they were finalised and approved by their own officials first.

It even told local managers to refuse applications from the media or the public wanting to see the proposals under the Freedom of Information Act.

Asked if NHS England had contacted the King's Fund after that report was published, Mr Ham said:  "They thought we were quite critical of the process but we stood behind the line we took because we reached the decision to highlight the weaknesses in the process based on the many interviews we'd undertaken."

He said that as  an independent organisation, the King's Fund would be "falling down on the job" if it was to give in to any pressure.

A spokeswoman for NHS England said: "The King's Fund report rightly finds that STPs offer the best hope for the NHS to transform care for patients in a sustainable way. They will allow the NHS to take advantage of new technologies, adopt successful practice more widely, and make practical improvements in areas that we know matter most to patients.

"These proposals are all about putting collaboration at the heart of our care system, with health and local government working more closely together than at any time since the NHS was created. Everyone in the NHS wants help to ensure we can all get excellent care whenever we need it."

Dr Mark Holland, president of the Society for Acute Medicine, said:  "In acute medicine we need to be convinced that moving resources away from hospitals will see a corresponding reduction in our volume of work. The ball is the court of STPs to convince us of ability to deliver on their promises."

Dr Mark Porter, chairman of council at the British Medical Association, said the plans were becoming "unworkable".

He said:  "From the beginning, this process was rushed and carried out largely behind closed doors, by health and social care leaders trying to develop impossible plans for the future while struggling to keep the NHS from the brink of collapse."

A Department of Health spokesman said:  "These NHS plans - developed by local doctors, hospitals and councils working together with the communities they serve - will help patients get better care by delivering the NHS's five year forward view, transforming mental health provision, improving cancer care, and delivering better access to GPs."

BBC analysis has found that cuts to hospital services are being proposed in nearly two-thirds of England.

The broadcaster found that there was some mention of cuts to hospitals in 28 of the 44 STPs.

These include plans to reduce the number of acute hospital sites from three to two in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland, and the closure of a major hospital in south-west London.

David Bowie poised to win two Brits, a year after his death

David Bowie is favourite for the British male solo artist award

David Bowie is the favourite to be handed the British male solo artist prize at Wednesday's Brit Awards - just over a year after his death.

The Starman is expected to win the prize for the third time following successes in 1984 and 2014 and is tipped to take the British album gong.

The singer's Blackstar record, which explores the themes of illness and heaven and was released two days before he died from cancer,  would earn his first prize in the category.

It will compete against Skepta's Mercury Prize-winning album Konnichiwa, The 1975's I Like It When You Sleep For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It, Kano's Made In The Manor and Michael Kiwanuka's Love & Hate.

According to bookmaker Coral, Bowie is 8-11 to win the solo artist award ahead of Craig David, Skepta (4-1 each), Kano and Michael Kiwanuka (8-1 each).

Last year's ceremony was overshadowed by his death as he was remembered through a Lorde performance and a speech by his friend Gary Oldman.

In the best British female solo artist category, Emeli Sande is being tipped to repeat her 2013 success but faces competition from Anohni, Ellie Goulding,  Lianne La Havas and Nao.

Sande can be backed at 1-2 ahead of Goulding (5-1), Anohni, Lianne La Havas, and Nao (all 7-1).

Skepta and X Factor alumni Little Mix lead the nominations for the awards, with three apiece.

The grime artist's third nod is for British breakthrough act, where he is in the same category as Anne-Marie, Blossoms, Critics' Choice winner Rag'n'Bone Man and Stormzy.

Little Mix are in the running for British group, alongside Radiohead, The 1975, Bastille and Biffy Clyro, as well as British single, for their number one hit Shout Out To My Ex.

The girl group will also vie for the British artist video of the year gong, for Hair featuring Sean Paul.

In the same category Zayn Malik will be battling it out with his former group One Direction - the former for Pillowtalk and the latter for History.

Leonard Cohen has also been nominated for a posthumous award, competing for international male solo artist against Bon Iver, Bruno Mars, Drake and The Weeknd.

International female solo artist sees a sibling rivalry between Beyonce and her sister Solange, who are also competing with Christine and the Queens, Rihanna and Sia.

The international group nominees are Kings Of Leon, Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds, A Tribe Called Quest, Drake & Future and Twenty One Pilots.

Stella McCartney 'apologetic' after taxi prang

Stella McCartney has apologised over the incident

Fashion designer Stella McCartney has apologised after bumping her Mini Cooper into the back of a taxi.

The taxi driver filmed the mother-of-four and pursued her after she failed to give sufficient details at the scene of the prang in Hammersmith, west London.

Ms McCartney, whose father is The Beatles star Sir Paul McCartney, provided her registration number and took the driver's phone number after the incident.

The Highway Code states that anyone involved in a collision causing damage must provide their name, address and registration number ”“ or report the incident to police within 24 hours.

The Sun said London minicab driver Arash Nabezadeh, 32, followed her to the gates of a nearby school, where her children study, in an attempt to get her details.

A source close to Ms McCartney, 45, said: "They started filming and following Stella after they recognised her."

Mr Nabezadeh's footage shows her telling him: "Take the number of my licence plate. Do whatever you need to do, no problem.

"You don't need to film me, do whatever you need to do."

She took his phone number and her husband, Alasdhair Willis, called the next day to pass on the details of their insurance broker and policy number, The Sun said.

Ms McCartney's spokesman said she was "very apologetic" but "felt intimidated" during the incident, which occurred more than a week ago.

He said: "Although she and the taxi driver did not swap full details, Ms  McCartney thought that an insurance claim could be made from the licence plate number she was happy to provide, and knew the taxi driver had a full note of.

"She thought she had done the right thing.

"When the driver, with two passengers, started filming her after the incident, she felt intimidated particularly when she realised they had followed her to the kids school, still filming her.

"She accepts liability for the incident and is very apologetic for any issues that have arisen from this incident."

Yo-yo dieting 'could be good for you even if you put all the weight back on'

Some scientists say crash dieting can be good for people, even if they put all the weight back on

Yo-yo dieting benefits health and can be compared with going to the dentist, according to a scientist whose research appears to support the extreme slimming method.

US biostatistician Dr David Allison found that repeated crash diets did no harm to obese mice. In fact, serial dieting animals lived longer than those that remained obese.

He questions the widely held view that yo-yo dieting is harmful and should be avoided.

Dr Allison, from the University of Alabama in Birmingham, said: "If you go the dentist for your six month evaluation, they find there's some plaque around your teeth and scrape it off, and then they give you a toothbrush and piece of string and send you out and say keep up the good work.

"And six months later, guess what, the plaque is back on. Just like weight loss. Nobody says dentistry is a failure. They say that's okay."

Speaking at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) annual meeting in Boston, Massachusetts, he added:  "We think it's probably not a bad idea to lose weight even if you are going to gain it back and redo it every few years."

Around two in three British adults have body mass indexes (BMIs) that classify them as overweight or obese. Excess weight increases the risk of Type 2 diabetes, liver disease and some cancers.

Leading nutritionist Susan Jebb, Professor of Diet and Population Health at Oxford University pointed out that it was better to try losing weight than to do nothing.

She said: "I agree with the notion that losing weight is generally worthwhile, even if you put the weight back on again.

"We have good evidence from long-term follow up studies after controlled intervention studies in humans that there is a benefit."

But Professor Tim Spector, from King's College, London, author of The Diet Myth, spoke out strongly against yo-yo dieting.

He said: "Data in humans shows that yo-yo dieting makes you gain weight long-term. In our twin study of 5,000 twins, the yo-yo dieter was usually heavier long-term than the identical twin who didn't diet."

A recent Israeli study in mice had linked yo-yo dieting  to a massive change in gut microbe population that permanently altered energy regulation, said Prof Spector.

The bugs caused obesity when transplanted into other mice.

"So the evidence for me shows crash calorie restriction dieting is to be avoided at all costs," said Prof Spector.

Scientists at the meeting also warned that obesity can be socially contagious, so that mingling with people who are putting on weight increases the risk of following their example.

Conversely, spending time in the gym with a friend encouraged more healthy behaviour.

Dr Allison said: "One way people have thought about manipulating these social networks is through intervention programmes ... So you and your buddy come in and get the treatment together."  

Watchdog calls for separation of officers in fatal incidents to avoid conferring

The issue of conferring among officers has come under the spotlight following high-profile cases

Police officers directly involved in fatal incidents should be separated as quickly as possible to prevent conferring, a watchdog has said.  

The step is included in new guidance from the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) on how evidence should be collected immediately after a member of the public has died or been seriously injured during contact with the police.

Key policing witnesses should be separated as soon as it is "operationally safe" until after they have provided their personal initial account, according to the document.

The IPCC said separating officers after an incident to prevent conferring is designed to ensure officers provide individual accounts of what they themselves saw, heard and did.

This avoids actual or perceived collusion or their accounts being unintentionally influenced by those of others, the watchdog added.

It stressed that this should happen only once it is operationally safe.  For example, during an ongoing terrorist incident, the police operation takes precedence and any separation of officers would wait until the risk to life had passed.

The issue of conferring among officers has come under the spotlight following high-profile cases, including the fatal shooting of Mark Duggan in 2011.  

The new guidance also says policing witnesses should provide personal initial witness accounts before they go off duty, while they should not view their own body-worn video before offering their initial account.  

IPCC Deputy Chair Sarah Green said:  "A critical role of the IPCC is to investigate deaths or serious injuries following contact with the police.

"We investigate with an open mind, so it's vital that we get the best evidence from police witnesses as quickly as possible, which in turn helps promote public trust in the process.

"We have proposed fresh guidance to help us achieve that aim.

"The measures we have outlined do not treat police officers as suspects, but as witnesses whose early individual accounts will help ensure the integrity and smooth running of the critical early stages in any investigation.

"It's in everyone's interest that the process for gathering evidence is swift, clear and transparent. It helps the public have confidence that police actions are independently scrutinised.

"It speeds up our investigations, which is precisely what the police, bereaved families and complainants want."

If approved by the Home Secretary, all police forces in England and Wales will be obliged to make use of the new guidance in the event of fatalities or serious injuries resulting from firearms operations, incidents in custody or other police contact.

Che Donald, firearms lead for the Police Federation of England and Wales said: "Officers absolutely understand the spotlight they face following a death or serious incident and are under no illusion that there will be scrutiny of decisions made, and rightly so.

"However, this has to start on the right foot. They are witnesses first and foremost and to separate them in the immediate aftermath of a highly traumatic incident is neither proportionate nor necessary and without cause."

MPs condemn 'postcode lottery in benefit sanctions'

Meg Hillier said benefit sanctions have been used "as a blunt instrument" by the Government

An "unacceptable" postcode lottery in benefits sanctions must be tackled to stop  claimants being treated differently depending on where they live, MPs have said.

Penalties have increased in severity and can have "serious consequences" such as forcing people into homelessness, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) said.

The committee warned of the "appalling situation" many housing benefit claimants faced after they were wrongly hit by sanctions.

MPs found that penalties  do encourage some people into jobs but the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) could not be confident about what works best because its data is poor.

In a report they said: "There is an unacceptable amount of unexplained variation in the department's use of sanctions, so claimants are being treated differently depending on where they live.

"It does not know whether vulnerable people are protected as they are meant to be. Nor can it estimate the wider effects of sanctions on people and their overall cost, or benefit, to government."

It follows a scathing report in November by the National Audit Office that found sanctions varied ''substantially'' across the country, with some Work Programme providers making more than twice as many  referrals as others dealing with similar groups in the same area.

More than a million unemployed benefits claimants have to meet certain  conditions, such as showing they are looking for work, to receive their  payments.

MPs called for the DWP to trial issuing warnings for first  offences  and for variations in sanction referrals to be monitored.

The department must report back on improvements in the records it keeps on the system and work to  estimate the impacts of sanctions on claimants as well as the wider costs to government.

Meg Hillier, who chairs the PAC, said: "Benefit sanctions have been used as a blunt instrument by Government.

"It is an article of faith for the Department for Work and Pensions that sanctions encourage people into work. The reality is far more complex and the potential consequences severe.

"Sanctions and exemptions are being applied inconsistently, with little understanding of why.  Some people who receive sanctions stop claiming without finding work, adding to pressures on other services.

"Suspending people's benefit payments can lead them into debt, rent arrears and homelessness, which can undermine their efforts to find work.

"A third of people surveyed by the charity Crisis who were claiming housing benefit had this stopped in error because of a sanction ”“ an appalling situation to be faced with.

"All of this highlights the need for a far more nuanced approach to sanctioning claimants, with meaningful measures in place to monitor its effectiveness.

"As a priority the Government must make better use of data and evidence from the front line to improve its understanding of what best supports both claimants and the interests of taxpayers in general."

A DWP spokesperson said: "Our sanctions guidance is the same right across the UK and the fact is the number of sanctions has more than halved in recent years.

"Sanctions are an important part of our benefits system and are only used in a very small percentage of cases as a last resort when people don't fulfil their commitment to find work."

Teacher shortages in key subjects 'worsening', report warns

A report calls for urgent new focus on retaining teachers and suggested a cap on the number of their hours

England's schools are suffering from worsening teacher shortages, particularly in key subjects such as physics and maths, MPs have warned.

The Government has failed to deal with the problem, missing recruitment targets for the past five years in a row, according to the Commons Education Select Committee.

In a highly critical new report, it called for urgent action, including more focus on retaining teachers once they are in the classroom, and suggesting a cap on the number of hours teachers work.

Committee chairman Neil Carmichael warned that the quality of education children receive relies on good teachers and that ministers must put in place a long-term plan to tackle issues with recruiting and retaining school staff.

"The Government invests a large amount of public money into improving the status  of the teaching profession, but there are still major challenges with teacher supply, some  of which appear to be worsening," the committee said.

It argues that while ministers have recognised that there are issues, it has not addressed the problem and lacks a long-term plan to do so.

Many initial teacher training (ITT) targets have been missed, including in core English Baccalaureate subjects - the subjects ministers say gives teenagers a good academic grounding for the future.

"Recruitment in  computing missed the target by the biggest margin of all EBacc  subjects, with only 68% of ITT places filled," the report says.

"The proportion of the target for physics  trainees recruited was 81%, and for mathematics 84%. Design and technology only reached  41% of its recruitment target this year. This raises questions about the Government's  recruitment strategy."

The introduction of the EBacc increases pressure on demand for teachers in certain subjects, the committee warns, adding that other issues such as rising pupil numbers are also impacting on teacher shortages.

The report suggests: "Recruiting new teachers has consistently been the Government's focus to address  shortages. While recruiting sufficient new teachers is, of course, necessary, the  Government should place greater emphasis on improving teacher retention.

"Not only  is this a more cost-effective way to tackle some of the issues, but more teachers staying  in the profession for longer would strengthen the pool of leadership positions."

A key reason for teachers considering leaving the profession is workload, the committee says, and more should be done to tackle this issue.

"All school leaders should promote a culture of wellbeing in their schools, which will  include taking greater account of teacher workload. This could include implementing the  recommendations of the workload challenge or 'capping' the number of hours teachers  work outside of teaching time."

The committee heard that in Nottingham, education chiefs have produced a charter for schools to sign up to that caps the amount of time teachers work beyond their directed hours, which includes tasks such as marking work, planning and attending meetings as well as teaching pupils.

Mr Carmichael, Tory MP for Stroud, said:  "The quality of education our children receive fundamentally relies on the quality of teachers in our schools. Schools are facing significant teacher shortages as a result of the Government consistently failing to meet recruitment targets.

"The Government must now put in place a long-term plan to tackle the problems of recruiting and retaining teachers and address issues, such as teacher workload and access to professional development, which can drive teachers away from the classroom and into alternative careers."

Malcolm Trobe, interim general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: "Schools want to be able to put permanent teachers who are experts in their fields in front of classes and this is what parents and pupils rightly want too.

"If, as a country, we are to compete in a globalised environment, it is absolutely vital that we are able to do so."

Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT teaching union, said:  "This report should act as a wake-up call to ministers that falling back on sticking plaster solutions such as the failed National Teaching Service will do nothing to address the systemic causes of the teacher supply crisis."

A Department for Education spokesman said: "There are more teachers in England's schools than ever before with secondary postgraduate recruitment at its highest since 2011. We are investing more than £1.3billion in recruitment over this parliament and have recruited more trainees in key subjects like physics and maths than last year.

"We recognise there are challenges. The Secretary of State has set out her ambition to continue driving up standards through investment in professional development so the best teachers stay in the profession. Initiatives like these, the opportunity areas programme and the Teaching and Leadership Fund will also help increase recruitment and retention in areas that have struggled."

Shadow education secretary Angela Rayner said: "Recruitment targets are being missed, school budgets are being cut for the first time in decades and we have thousands more unqualified teachers teaching in our schools.

"Children deserve better than this Tory government that is failing to deliver on its most basic of tasks."

Trump's state visit will go ahead despite angry backlash

Demonstrators attend a rally in Westminster protesting against Donald Trump

Donald Trump's state visit to Britain will go ahead despite a 1.8 million-strong petition, more noisy protests attended by thousands, and MPs' warnings against it, the Government has said.

As thousands of protesters gathered in Parliament Square on Monday, MPs in Westminster Hall called on ministers to heed the "Greek chorus of disapproval" and avoid "fawning subservience" to the United States president.

In the time-limited debate, about a dozen backbench MPs spoke in favour of the petition to downgrade Mr Trump's visit but Foreign Office Minister Sir Alan Duncan insisted the visit "should happen, the visit will happen".

He called on the UK to "extend a polite and generous welcome" to Mr Trump during his state visit, where he will be hosted by the Queen and afforded the pomp and ceremony attached.

Sir Alan said the "rare and prestigious" occasions are Britain's "most important diplomatic tool", adding: "They enable us to strengthen and influence those international relationships that are of the greatest strategic importance to this country, and even more widely, to other parts of the world as well."

But  his calls for a cordial state visit are unlikely to be observed by those attending the rally outside Parliament, organised by the Stop Trump Coalition and campaign group One Day Without Us.

Scores of supporters carried signs and placards reading "Special Relationship: Just say no", and "No to racism; no to Trump", and chanted "No Trump, no Brexit; no racist EU exit".

Veteran Labour MP Paul Flynn, leading the debate in Parliament, called on ministers to listen to the  demonstrators  and downgrade  the  visit.

He likened the president's behaviour to a "petulant child" and urged ministers to avoid making the mistakes of the past when "very unsavoury characters" were invited on state visits.

SNP former Scottish first minister Alex Salmond also hit out at the visit.

He said: "As an example of fawning subservience... the Prime Minister's holding hands across the ocean visit would be difficult to match.

"To do it in the name of shared values was stomach churning.

"What exactly are the shared values that this House, this country, would hope to have with President Trump?"

But several Conservative MPs warned that Britain and the Queen would be made to look foolish if the invite was suddenly rescinded.

Conservative James Cartlidge said there would be "smiles all round in the Kremlin" if the UK withdrew its offer of a state visit to Mr Trump.

While fellow Conservative Sir Simon Burns said it is a "no brainer" the invite should be kept as a post-Brexit Britain will need to keep America close.

MPs also joined the protest, with shadow home secretary Diane Abbott warning  there was a "dark shadow of racism and anti-immigrant sentiment" in the modern era, which was reflected in the Trump administration.

She said: "He (Mr Trump) was supported in his presidential campaign by white supremacists."

Green Party co-leader  Caroline Lucas MP, who came out of the debate to address the crowd, said Mr Trump was a "bully and a bigot" whose first 100 days in power had made it clear "what kind of future he is building".


PM steps up Brexit Bill pressure as she sits in on peers' debate

Prime Minister Theresa May sits behind the Speaker, back row, as Baroness Smith of Basildon speaks in the House of Lords

The House of Lords will conclude the first stage of a crucial Brexit debate after Theresa May and Boris Johnson ramped up pressure on them not to block or delay Britain's exit from the European Union.

In a highly unusual move on Monday, the Prime Minister sat on the steps in front of the Royal Throne in the Upper Chamber as Lords Leader Baroness Evans of Bowes urged peers not to frustrate the passage of the Brexit Bill.

Later, Foreign Secretary Mr Johnson, a leader of the official Vote Leave campaign, took up a similar position in the chamber as peers debated the legislation to give Mrs May authority to launch EU withdrawal negotiations under Article 50.

Their presence, in a position they are entitled to occupy as members of the Privy Council, was seen as a visual warning to peers not to seek to block or delay the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal Bill) in the Lords, where the Government does not have a majority.

Several Brexit-supporting Tory MPs also watched the debate from another part of the chamber, but sources denied their attendance was part of a co-ordinated effort to remind peers that the elected Commons passed the Bill unamended and with a large majority of 372.

On Monday, Mrs May used a by-election campaign visit to Stoke-on-Trent to warn peers not to hold up "what the British people want".

In the debate, Labour Lords leader Baroness Smith of Basildon confirmed her party would try to amend the Bill but stressed that MPs will "as always, and quite rightly, have the final say".

Liberal Democrat leader in the Lords, Lord Newby, said the Government's approach was "little short of disastrous" as he called for a second referendum on the final deal.

No votes are expected at this stage, but the Government is braced for a battle over EU citizens' rights and a meaningful parliamentary say on the final Brexit deal when the Bill returns for its committee stage next week.

A record-breaking 187 peers will have spoken when the Bill concludes its second reading stage on Tuesday, including the likes of former Tory leader Lord Hague and ex-EU commissioner Lord Mandelson.

In his speech on Monday, Lord Hague condemned Tony Blair's call for pro-Europeans to form a new cross-party movement to reverse the outcome of last year's referendum as a "great mistake".

He warned that any attempt to "rise up" against the result would lead to the most "bitter, potentially endless conflict" seen in British society for decades.

Mr Blair's close ally Lord Mandelson said claims the UK would enjoy the same trade benefits after breaking with Brussels amounted to "a fraud on the public".

The Bill's committee stage will begin on Monday, with the report stage and third reading, its final Lords stage, due to conclude on March 7.

Meanwhile, the Guardian claimed that quitting the EU with no free trade deal and falling back on World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules could saddle British exporters with £6 billion in extra tariff costs.

The newspaper said its analysis of trade figures compiled by the UN and World Bank suggested that the 204 billion dollars worth of British goods bound for Europe each year would be hit with 7.6 billion dollars in new tariffs under current WTO rules, equivalent to £6.1 billion.

Commenting on the figures on behalf of the Open Britain campaign group, Labour MP Owen Smith said: "The Government need to start being honest with people about the consequences of their reckless 'Brexit at any cost' policy.

"This underlines why it is so essential to have a democratic check and balance at the end of negotiations, with a meaningful vote in Parliament.

"If we give the Government a blank cheque, it will be working people who pay the price."

The Daily Telegraph meanwhile, said the European Commission wants Britain to pay a 60 billion euro ( £51 billion) exit fee in instalments of 10 billion euro a year, which could mean the UK paying into the Brussels budget until 2023.

Earlier this month, International Trade Secretary Liam Fox has dismissed the idea Britain should pay an exit bill as "absurd".

Ministers dismiss business rates 'underestimation' reports

Chancellor Philip Hammond

The Government has dismissed as "nonsense" reports that Cabinet ministers underestimated business rate rises by 5-7% in a letter sent to Tory MPs.

In the private email, Communities Secretary Sajid Javid and Treasury Chief Secretary David Gauke said there had been "a relentless campaign of distortions and half-truths" about a  business rate revaluation which will leave more than a quarter of companies facing higher bills.

They insisted that most firms will not see any rise in their bills and attached a list revealing  many of the areas facing rate rises are in Tory heartlands, with the Home Counties facing some of the biggest increases.

Rates in Theresa May's Maidenhead constituency will reportedly rise by an average 10%, while Mr Hammond's own Runnymede seat in Surrey will see increases of about 13%.

But according to reports, the figures have been underestimated because they do not take into account inflation or "appeals adjustments", which the Government adds to its calculations to ensure total revenues do not decline as a result of appeals by firms against rating decisions.

A Department for Communities and Local Government spokesman said:  "This latest claim from (rating agent) Gerald Eve is nonsense - we have been clear how our figures are calculated and what they include.

"Councils and businesses can see how the revaluation is making bills fairer and is revenue neutral.

"This is yet more scaremongering, when in reality the revaluation will mean businesses in 80% of council areas will see an average fall in their business rates bills due to revaluation before inflation."

It came as Chancellor Philip Hammond assured Conservative MPs that he is listening to their concerns about the revaluation.

But he stopped short of committing himself to action in next month's spring Budget to soften the blow on affected firms.

Treasury sources indicated that the Chancellor was looking at a longer-term solution to level the playing field between the traditional high street shops and pubs hard-hit by the revaluation and the internet giants whose out-of-town warehouses benefit from low rates.

At an 80-minute meeting of the Tory backbench 1922 Committee in Westminster,  a series of MPs confronted Mr Hammond  with examples of businesses in their constituencies facing steep rises due to the first revaluation of business rates since 2008.

With bills for the coming year due to go  out over a five-week period starting on Friday, there is little time left for concessions from the Chancellor.

A Treasury source said the Chancellor was "open to listening to the issues of the hardest-hit, but he didn't make any commitments either way".

Mr Hammond raised the point that the development of the digital economy, which has seen a growing amount of commerce shift online, has created "challenges" for a form of taxation based on property rental values, said one source.

However, the Chancellor made clear that a solution to this issue would not be found overnight, raising the possibility that a more fundamental overhaul for the business rate system may be in the pipeline further in the future.

The Government insists that almost three-quarters (73%) of businesses will see their rates reduced or stay the same after revaluation, with some 600,000 firms paying no business rates at all.

Mr Hammond stressed that the revaluation, which was set in motion under the previous administration of David Cameron, was the subject of a consultation exercise in which business organisations were involved.

Conservative MP Grant Shapps told Channel 4 News that he told the Chancellor he was "very concerned" about the revaluation, stressing he wanted a "fundamental review" of the entire system.

Senior Labour MP Angela Eagle told the programme: "At the last election, Labour said that we would not reduce corporation tax and would use that money to freeze and then reduce business rates, particularly at the small business end. That's what we would have done.  

"I think there's a wider issue with the sustainability of business rates in areas such as internet businesses which don't pay rates.

"It impacts on the High Street, which does pay rates. The whole base of how we do this now needs looking at again."

TV Muslims 'want to reach out to children facing prejudice'

An imam advised the youngsters not to take part in the documentary

The stars of a series documenting the everyday lives of young Muslims in Britain have said they want to reach out to children facing prejudice.

Described by the Channel 4 show’s creators as "pioneers", Waseem Iqbal and Naveed Ahmed aimed to portray a real and positive picture of Islam to counteract the media’s attention to extremism.

At a screening of Extremely British Muslims on Monday, Ahmed, 26, told the Press Association: “We can remember life before 9/11 but children can’t and they are growing up in a world where they are being told by other people what they are and what their religion is about.

“It’s like if you go into work and everybody tells you that you look unwell - you start to believe it.”

The three-part programme follows the Muslim community in Birmingham, focusing on key issues for its members, including unemployment and dating.

Iqbal, who works for the Human Relief Foundation charity, that delivers aid first-hand to refugees and people living in war torn Syria and Iraq, says on the programme: “There’s no extremism here, we are a nice community - the most extreme thing here is the size of the rats.

“Extremists are just a gang, the biggest baddest gang in the world...they want to feel part of something.

“Our response is the same as every other member of the British public - we feel unsafe like everybody else.”

But the pair explained how they faced a huge backlash from members of their own families for taking part in the programme.

“I had an imam from another mosque telling me not to do it, warning me that our words would be twisted and my dad told me to my face that I shouldn’t do it,” Iqbal said.

“But I thought, is that what Muslims are supposed to do, just keep quiet? Then the only people who get a platform are the crazy geezers with guns.”

Filmed over a year, the documentary covers the Paris terror attack in 2015 and David Cameron’s launch of the Prevent scheme to tackle the possibility of radicalisation in schools.

Commenting on the current Government, Ahmed said: “There needs to be policies created and backed by Muslims if we are going to combat terrorism.”

But the programmes also bring humour, capturing moments such as Ahmed and his friends paintballing and recording video blogs about pizza.

“I’m British and I’m Muslim and that’s a beautiful thing,” Iqbal said. “I want the children to see this and people from other areas to see this and the man who sat next to me on a flight to America who asked to be moved to see this.”

The first episode of the series sees young Muslim friends Sabrina and Bella struggle through the challenge of finding boyfriends.

They said: “We want young girls to have a voice and show the world they are not oppressed and they can be modern British women with expectations and still love their family and religion.”

Producer Fozia Khan added: “I just want my kids to watch something that will make them feel good about themselves.”

::Extremely British Muslims begins with episode one, All The Single Muslims, on March 2 on Channel 4.


Taking children back to US would be bad parenting, says Rob Delaney

Rob Delaney is known for tweeting and airing his political views

Catastrophe star Rob Delaney has said it would be "bad parenting" if he moved back to the US with his children in the current political climate.

The American actor, writer and comedian is living in the UK while he works on the Channel 4 sitcom, and is happy to be living in London, but said he  wishes he could be "physically present" at the anti-Donald Trump protests happening across his home nation.

Delaney told the Radio Times:  "I'd like to be in the United States right now, with Trump as president. I'd like to be physically present at protests."

But he said he is concerned about Mr Trump's stance on healthcare, and will not return.

"In the United States of America you could be denied healthcare if you have a pre-existing condition, which can literally include 'has had a child'," said Delaney, a father-of-three.

"It would be bad parenting for me to bring children back to that country."

Democratic supporter Delaney last year raised tens of thousands of dollars to target Republicans who turned their backs on Mr Trump after the release of the tape of him speaking lewdly about women.

Delaney, who is known for tweeting and airing his political views, said he thought he was "just joking around with a clown" in the run-up to the US election, and that he should have known Mr Trump would win.

He said: "I'm not self-flagellating and saying mea culpa, because he is a clown, he continues to be a clown.

"He's just a dangerous one. But to think that he couldn't win? Yeah, shame on me."

Delaney said the "stage was set" for Mr Trump to win because so many US citizens did not vote.

He said: "That speaks to a cancer-ridden electorate.  The cancer of wilful ignorance, of laziness. When the largest number of people vote for no one, you can end up with somebody like Trump.

"It's my fervent prayer that his election is a wake-up call. I mean, it has been for me. I thought I was awake."

Delaney said he loves living in the British capital and working with his Catastrophe co-star Sharon Horgan.

He said: "I'm crazy about London, I love it so much. I love the NHS. I love the BBC. I love the Tube. I love the bus. I love tea. I love bacon sandwiches, I really do.

"And I vastly prefer writing in the same room as Sharon."

:: This week's Radio Times is on sale now.

Secrecy surrounding Broadchurch plot exhausting, says David Tennant

Olivia Colman and David Tennant are returning as Detective Sergeant Ellie Miller and Detective Inspector Alec Hardy in Broadchurch (ITV/PA)

Broadchurch star David Tennant has said he found the secrecy surrounding the hit drama "exhausting".

The show, co-starring Olivia Colman, is returning for its final series on Monday on ITV.

Former Doctor Who actor Tennant, 45, told Radio Times magazine that knowing the crime drama was coming to an  end felt "like a loss".

He said of the security surrounding the plot: "Everyone found it rather exhausting. We were all issued with different passwords for different things.

"So new bits of script would come through and you'd forget what your password was and have to phone somebody up and prove it was you.

"That drove me mad, if I'm honest. I'd phone up the office and go, 'I need it on paper, I can't cope!'"

None of the actors were given the final script so the storyline could be kept secret.

"There was a recognisable amount of security. Honestly, it was a nightmare," said Tennant, who returns as  DI Alec Hardy.

Colman, 43, who plays DS Ellie Miller,  told the magazine she tried not to cry in the new series - having previously confessed that audiences might have seen her weep in character too often.

"I was really trying not to cry too much, but it was quite hard.

"When the camera was on (co-star) Julie (Hesmondhalgh) and she was doing her scenes, it was so unbearable to watch.

"When the camera was on us for our reaction shots, I had to ask her to do it slightly less well so that I wouldn't cry."

She dismissed any idea that she is a national treasure and said she finds it  difficult to deal with people trying to take selfies with her when she is out doing normal things.

"If you're going to a work do and you're all dressed up for an awards ceremony or something, it's fine because it's work," The Night Manager star said.

"But if I'm going out with my husband and kids, I'm not at work. I grew up without the selfie thing and I find it quite alien and odd.  

"I said something the other day to someone who asked for one. I said, 'Just because there's not a photo doesn't mean it didn't happen'. I think they thought, 'What a weirdo'."

She said talk of national treasure status was "flattering, but I feel I haven't earned that".

"I don't know what it means ... (Dame) Judi Dench and (Sir) David Attenborough ”“ they're national treasures. I feel slightly embarrassed that, at the moment, I'm not in their sphere."

The third series of Broadchurch features a sexual assault storyline.

The show's creator Chris Chibnall said sexual assault is  often "not treated with the time or delicacy it deserves".

"What I did was to deliberately slow the pace down because I wanted to go into detail of how you report an attack," he added.

:: This week's Radio Times is on sale now.

Mary Berry on Bake Off co-star Paul Hollywood: 'I would always stand by him'

Mary Berry described appearing on the BBC as 'an honour'

Former Great British Bake Off judge Mary Berry has said that she had her  differences with Paul Hollywood, but she "admired him a lot".

The  81-year-old decided to stay with the BBC and presenters Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins when Channel 4 poached the hit show, saying that she was never tempted by the money.

She told Radio Times magazine "no one was more surprised than me" when Bake Off left the BBC, but that she avoided even being asked to join the show at its new home.

Asked if she had ever been attracted by the prospect of a bigger pay cheque, she replied: "No, I wasn't. And anyway, I was never asked to go. I avoided being asked. It was suggested what would happen if I did go to Channel 4, what I would get, the advantages.

"But I didn't ever have a meeting with them. I'd made up my mind. To me, it's an honour to be on the BBC. I was brought up on it."

The baking queen, who could be replaced by Prue Leith on the Channel 4 show, said of Hollywood: "I would always stand by him. Paul and I had our differences about what was important to us, but he is a brilliant bread-maker and I admired him a lot."

She called Mel and Sue "extraordinary," adding: "They are extremely bright and their humour is spontaneous and very cheeky. They are hilarious and I am so fond of them.

"It was the BBC's programme, it grew there. So I decided to stay with the BBC, with Mel and Sue."

Berry said that she was no fan of the clean eating craze and has a glass of wine most evenings with supper, adding: "I  don't do any of the clean food thing. It says sugar is out.  There's nothing wrong with having a little sugar. I eat sugar and I'm not huge."

And she joked about her appearance: "I'm quite good, aren't I? I'm not bad".

Opening up about her long and successful marriage to Paul, a retired antiquarian bookseller, she said that when he first asked her father for her hand, he accidentally ran over and killed a dove.

"He called me a blithering idiot," her husband told the magazine, "So I left it for a week."

She only accepted his hand in marriage after the third request - the first and second time sending  him away because he had been drinking.

The couple had three children, Thomas, Annabel and William. In 1989, William died at the age of 19 in a car crash while driving his younger sister into town.

 "After the crash, Annabel used to gather up the newspapers and hide them," Berry said. "So I wouldn't see the reports.  

"To us, it was an immense blessing that Annabel survived. If it had been the other way round, if William had killed his sister, his heart would have broken. He would have blamed himself to the end of his days."

:: This week's Radio Times is on sale today.

'Many peers contribute absolutely nothing' in House of Lords

The programme lifts the lid on life in the House of Lords

Many peers contribute "absolutely nothing" to Parliament, a former lord speaker claimed as she alleged one member kept a taxi running outside while signing in to collect the £300 daily allowance.

Baroness D'Souza suggested the "sense of honour" that used to come with being a member of the House of Lords had been lost.

The comments came in an interview for a documentary about the House of Lords which saw former Cabinet minister Lord Blunkett and Lord Tebbit criticise the process for appointments to the upper house.

On the BBC show Meet The Lords, which combines interviews and fly-on-the-wall footage, Lady D'Souza said: "There is a core of peers who work incredibly hard, who do that work, and there are, sad to say, many, many, many peers who contribute absolutely nothing but who claim the full allowance.

"I can remember one occasion when I was leaving the House quite late and there was a peer - who shall be utterly nameless - who jumped out of a taxi just outside the peers' entrance, left the engine running.

"He ran in, presumably to show that he'd attended, and then ran out again while the taxi was still running.

"So I mean that's not normal, but it is something that does happen and I think that we have lost the sense of honour that used to pertain, and that is a great, great shame."

Lord Blunkett and Lord Tebbit questioned some of the appointments prime ministers had made to the upper house.

Labour former home secretary Lord Blunkett said: "You have got people who may well be, out of the patronage of the government of the day, rewarded for either keeping their mouth shut or opening their mouth or their purse at a particular moment in time."

Tory peer Lord Tebbit said: "Far too many people have been put in here as a sort of personal reward.

"You wouldn't have imagined Mrs Thatcher wanting to give a peerage to Denis Thatcher's tailor or something like that.

"But we have come pretty close to that in recent years."

Liberal Democrat Lord Tyler joked: "It is the best day care centre for the elderly in London, families can drop in him or her and make sure that the staff will look after them very well nice meals subsidised by the taxpayer, and they can have a snooze in the afternoon in the chamber or in the library."

At a preview screening of the show, Lord Speaker Lord Fowler acknowledged there were concerns about the size of the upper house, which has more than 800 members.

He said: "The public and the press, as I know to my cost, regularly mock the size of the House, over 800, second only in size to the Chinese people's congress and all that.

"And they are right, we need to be smaller and I set up a committee under (Lord) Terry Burns to work on achieving just that."

:: Meet The Lords will be broadcast on Monday February 27 at 9pm on BBC Two.

A House of Lords spokesman said: "The House of Lords is an active and effective revising chamber that considered 3,678 amendments to legislation in the last session, and members contribute to that work in a wide variety of ways.

"The forthcoming documentary Meet The Lords shows members doing exactly that.

"In the 2015-16 session, 710 members spoke in debates, 779 voted in divisions, and 321 were members of select committees.

"However, parliamentary work is not limited to these activities, and much of it would not leave a record in Hansard.

"All members have to certify that they have undertaken parliamentary work when claiming for attending the House.

"Where members are shown to have claimed when they have not undertaken parliamentary work, the House has the power to suspend them - as in the case of Lord Hanningfield.

"The House has a robust Code of Conduct overseen by the independent Lords Commissioner for Standards."

februar 20, 2017

Man, 49, in "critical condition" after fatal two car crash near Carlisle

Emergency services at the scene

A MOTORIST whose car was involved in a fatal crash on a key road near Carlisle remains in a "critical" condition.

Police have today renewed their appeal for witnesses following the horrific crash on the A689 near to the Walby Farm Park turn-off which left a 27-year-old woman dead.

She was driving a Peugeot 208.

The driver of the other car, a Peugeot 207, was a 49-year-old man.

He airlifted to Royal Victoria Hospital in Newcastle with multiple injuries. In the car with him were his 43-year-old wife and two children, aged four and six. All are being treated at the RVI but their injuries are said to not be life-threatening.

There was a huge emergency response to the two-car collision, which happened shortly after 1pm yesterday (Sunday) on the A689, a short drive from Linstock roundabout.

The woman who died was pronounced dead at the scene. She was the only person in the Peugeot 208 car. It was in collision with the Peugeot 207, which was heading away from Carlisle. The 49-year-old man in the second car suffered serious multiple injuries.

Two helicopters from the Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS) were called to the scene. One flew the injured man to the Major Trauma Centre at Newcastle's Royal Victoria Infirmary.

The second helicopter took the two children to hospital in Newcastle but their injuries were not serious.

A GNAAS spokesman said: “The male had suffered multiple injuries and arrived at hospital in a stable condition.

"The two children suffered what were described as less serious and relatively minor injuries.”

The crash happened a short distance from the Linstock roundabout.

Police closed the A689 between this roundabout and Brampton to accommodate the emergency response.

As well as the two air ambulances, there were five road ambulances, rapid response paramedics, police and two fire crews from Carlisle.

The road was closed for several hours as emergency crews and accident investigators worked there.

Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service group manager Craig Drinkald said: “The accident involved two cars which were travelling in opposite directions.

“There were five people involved and tragically one was pronounced dead at the scene after being worked on by an ambulance crew.

"The family were in the vehicle travelling in the opposite direction.

“They were all taken to hospital suffering from a variety of injuries.

"We don't believe any of those injuries were life-threatening, though the driver of the second car suffered significant injuries to his lower limbs.”

The two fire crews at the scene, from east and west Carlisle, used specialist cutting gear to free the casualties from both cars.

Mr Drinkald said: “We quickly realised that this was going to be a big incident and because of the number of casualties involved we requested five ambulances.

"We worked alongside colleagues from the air ambulance service to extract the people involved from their vehicles.

“The ambulance crew worked significantly on the person who unfortunately was pronounced dead at the scene.

"The family were heading in a easterly direction and woman in the second car in the opposite direction.”

The road remained closed into early evening yesterday as investigators hunted for clues to what may have caused the tragedy.

The Cumbria police spokesman added: “Witnesses are asked to contact Cumbria police, quoting log number 123 of February 19.”

februar 20, 2017

Lotto funding helps Cumbria network help others

Mandy Beinder, Margie Cooper, Maria Hewitt, Helen Robinson from Cumbria Advice Network

A NETWORK of organisations providing vital help and advice to people across Cumbria has been given a major cash injection.

Cumbria Advice Network received £10,000 from the Big Lottery Fund to provide specialist training to staff and volunteers to continue to help others.

It will see them develop their knowledge of welfare benefits, legislation and people’s rights.

The network ”“ made up of 156 advice and support organisations across the county ”“ reaches thousands of people and provides more than 200 training places every year.

development champion Mandy Beinder said training is “vital” to ensure as many people as possible are given the correct practical advice and support, at a time when there is a growing need for it.

“We’re absolutely delighted,” she said. “It’s really, really important. If we weren’t able to buy that training into Cumbria, those organisations would have to travel and pay for training.”

She explained that, currently, there is a demand from member organisations for training on benefit advice and that there is likely to be a focus on delivering this.

Some of the funding will also be put towards networking events where organisations come together to promote their services.

The project was set up through initial partners Citizen Advice Bureaux, Shelter Cumbria and the Cumbria Law Centre in 2009 and was funded by the Big Lottery for five years, before becoming a charitable incorporated organisation in 2015.

It also received funding through Cumbria Community Foundation.

CAN is one of two organisations in Cumbria among a string of beneficiaries set to receive a share of more than £4m of lottery funding.

Cumbria Pride, which runs a successful festival in Carlisle to address equality, has been granted £8,980 towards developing a winter pride festival in Barrow.

The charity, which operates across Cumbria to strengthen the community by raising the profile of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community, is developing the festival to extend its reach.

februar 20, 2017

Thirty cones stolen from Cumbrian road

About 30 no-waiting cones were stolen from a Cumbrian road over the weekend.

The cones were taken from Solway Road in Workington between Friday and today.

Anyone with information can call Cumbria police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 and quote crime ref WA1700709.

februar 20, 2017

Window forced in attempted burglary in Cumbria

A window was forced open in an attempted burglary in West Cumbria.

Police said the would-be burglar "gained partial entry" to a property in Market Place, Workington, before making off empty handed.

The incident happened between February 14 and today.

Anyone with information can call PC 2395 Callon on 101 quoting incident 45 of February 20 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

februar 20, 2017

Walker suffered serious head injury after 50ft fall

The Great North Air Ambulance near the scene

A walker was airlifted to hospital with a serious head injury following a 50ft fall down a rocky slope.

The woman, in her fifties, was put into an induced coma following the incident in the Borrowdale Valley.

It happened at about 3pm on Friday.

The Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS) was quickly on the scene.

The doctor-led aircrew treated her at the scene before she was flown to hospital in Preston.

They said she arrived in a stable condition.

During the rescue, GNAAS worked alongside Keswick Mountain Rescue Team and North West Ambulance Service.

februar 20, 2017

Women stole groceries from vulnerable man's home

Carlisle Crown Court

Two women who stole groceries from a vulnerable man's Carlisle home have been sentenced by a judge.

Charlene Morrison, 20, and Claire Louise Robinson, 23, took food and cleaning products after entering the victim's house on August 20.

Morrison also took tobacco and a mobile phone from a man, aged in his sixties, who suffered from a brain condition "similar to dementia".

Carlisle Crown Court heard Morrison had been the "prime mover".

Both women were sentenced by Recorder Kevin Grice, having admitted a theft charge.

Morrison, of Borland Avenue, Carlisle, had a four-month prison sentence suspended for a year.

She was given a 12-month supervision order, a rehabilitation requirement and a night-time curfew.

Robinson, of Holywell Crescent, Carlisle, received a four-month night-time curfew as part of a community order.

"It was," Recorder Grice told the women, "a mean offence."

februar 20, 2017

Former Northbank footballers plea to join fundraiser for an ex-Blues hero

Tony Hopper with wife Sue and Daniel, Jack and Adam

A fundraising footballers’ reunion is being organised for former Carlisle United player Tony Hopper following his diagnosis with motor neurone disease.

The 40-year-old father of three ”“ a hugely popular figure in Cumbrian football ”“ had a successful playing career with both United and Workington Reds and as a youngster played for amateur Carlisle club Northbank.

Along with his wife Sue and three sons, the family are determined ”“ despite the illness ”“ to create happy memories for their children.

An online fundraising campaign to help make that happen has already raised nearly £25,000.

Now Tony’s many friends from Northbank have come up with their own uniquely appropriate fundraiser ”“ with more than a little help from the Linton Holme pub in Lindisfarne Street, Carlisle.

Landlady Lorraine Nixon has teamed up with Tony’s friend Kenny Brown, who has had a 17-year involvement with Northbank.

They have put out an appeal to current and former Northbank players to join them in a fundraising extravaganza, which will feature a mini-tournament in Harraby followed by an auction and buffet at the pub, rounded off with live music.

Kenny said: “We’re appealing to all Northbank players going back to when the club got started in 1970.

“There’ll be a mini tournament on the 3G pitch at Harraby followed by the auction and buffet at the pub.

“I’ve known Tony since he was three or four years old when I used to work at the Strand Road sports centre in Carlisle.

“He’s one of the nicest lads you could ever meet.

“He’s never changed from the day I first met him.

“He will get unbelievable support from everyone. He’s a Carlisle lad, well known and well respected.”

Lorraine said: “Everybody here knows Tony and we’re all devastated by the news of his illness.

“He’s such a down-to-earth, great character. Raising money is the best thing that we can do, and everybody’s keen.”

Anybody who wishes to donate a prize for the fundraising auction, which will be held at the pub on June 17, should take it to the pub.

The event will be rounded off with music from the duo Palm Springs.

In a statement, Lorraine described the event as “a great cause for a lovely man.”

Tony ”“ whose father was also a Carlisle United player ”“ has himself spoken of how touched he has been by support shown to his family.

Now living in Brampton, he said the family are still trying to come to terms with his life-limiting illness.

februar 20, 2017

Work underway on new Lanes toilets

Work is underway on new permanent toilets in Carlisle city centre.

The new facilities will be situated in The Lanes Shopping Centre, on the first floor opposite Carlisle Library.

The previous toilets closed in 2014 to make way for Ed's Easy Diner, which closed in October last year.

Since the controversial closure, shoppers have had to use temporary toilets in a portable unit near the main square.

There have since been calls for new permanent facilities to be reestablished in The Lanes.

Work is now underway on the new toilets, which will open in late April.

The facilities will be accessible by lift, escalator and stairs.

Both the male and female areas will have a self-contained baby change cubicle including changing area, toilet, wash hand basin and dryer.

There will also be two new accessible toilets accessed from the main entrance area.

The funding has been provided by Carlisle Shopping Centre Limited and Carlisle City Council.

Les Tickner, deputy leader of Carlisle City Council, said: “Working with partners, we’ve reacted to the requests of Lanes customers and we’re delighted that we can support the steps to improve the shopping centre. The new facilities will be ideally situated in the middle of The Lanes and will be accessible to all shoppers.”

David Jackson, commercial director of The Lanes, added: “I am delighted that we are now in a position to work on this new facility which will be an excellent addition to our centre as we continue to improve the overall shopping experience for the benefit of our customers.”

In addition to the new toilets, there will also be a Changing Places facility, funded by Cumbria County Council.

A ”˜Changing Places’ toilet has enough space and the right equipment to cater for a variety of disabled people’s needs, including a height adjustable changing bench and a hoist.

Beth Furneaux, county council cabinet member for health and care, said:

“I’m delighted we’ve been able to make this investment and it’s great to see the difference it can make.

"Disabled people can face serious challenges getting out and about and enjoying the day-to-day activities many of us take for granted. These new facilities at The Lanes in Carlisle should make a huge difference to disabled shoppers and their families.”

februar 20, 2017

Cumbria police launch search for new officers

More bobbies are being sought to patrol the streets of Cumbria.

The county's police force has launched a recruitment campaign for would-be new constables.

A series of recruitment evenings are being held in Carlisle, Barrow and Workington in the coming weeks.

And Chief Superintendent Mark Pannone said: "We’re looking to recruit highly motivated, intelligent and committed people to be our new police constables.

“Those applying should have integrity and be interested in working hard to serve and improve their community.

“Policing is a challenging profession but extremely rewarding and your application could be the first step on a long and successful career path with Cumbria Constabulary.”

Peter McCall, the county's crime commissioner, says he's pleased the force is in a position where it's able to recruit new officers.

Of the career, he added: "It offers rewarding work in a dynamic and fast paced environment where you have to show real leadership, and most importantly make a difference to your community.

"There is no such thing as the ideal background, we just need good people."


Jobs latest:


februar 20, 2017

Farm vehicle fire near Penrith

Firefighters dealt with a farm vehicle blaze near Penrith.

It happened at 12pm on Salkeld Road, Langwathby.

A mobile straw chopper, which contained a large bale of straw, had caught fire.

The crew dragged the materials out of the machinery and extinguished the blaze before it could spread.

februar 20, 2017

Former chancellor George Osborne pops into Whitehaven on Copeland by-election campaign trail

George Osborne, Copeland Conservative by-election candidate Trudy Harrison and Carlisle MP John Stevenson

Former Chancellor George Osborne joined the by-election campaign trail in Whitehaven today.

Mr Osborne, who was chancellor for six years until 2016, joined the Conservatives' Copeland candidate Trudy Harrison canvassing and knocking on residents' doors in the Bransty ward of town this lunchtime.

He tweeted that there had been "great response" from constituents.

Mr Osborne and Mrs Harrison also met with Copeland mayor Mike Starkie to discuss the nuclear industry and local infrastructure.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Out canvassing in Bransty with <a href="">#TrudyHarrison</a> <a href="">@CopelandTories</a> &amp; <a href="">@JohnStevensonMP</a> - great response on the doorstep to our positive message <a href=""></a></p>&mdash; George Osborne (@George_Osborne) <a href="">February 20, 2017</a></blockquote>

<script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script>

februar 20, 2017

North Cumbrian pub undergoes expansion to meet demand

The Bridge End Inn

A listed north Cumbrian pub is undergoing works which will see the size of its dining area double.

The Bridge End Inn at Dalston, near Carlisle, is expanding in order to accompany demand for weddings, christenings and other events.

It also means the owners, Julie and Ian Brown, will no longer be turning away custom on busy weekends.

With a large table already booked for April, the couple are aiming to complete the extension within the next six weeks.

Ian said: “Because it’s a listed building we’re having to do it with a lot of care and attention but it will be nice when it’s done.

“We’re still open. We are trying to do it without disrupting anything.

“At this time of year it’s not easy but the beer garden is a draw and we need to get it up and then we can have the beer garden for the summer.”

The dining area currently holds about 60 people for meals but the expansion will mean they could accommodate more than 100 diners.

They were fully booked for tables on Valentine’s Day and often find they are having to turn away business at weekends.

Julie said: “We’ve had to cancel a few things.

“It’s something we’ve been looking at. We’ve got a good chef and it’s really going well, so why not?”

She and Ian bought the pub from Punch Taverns about four years ago and did some refurbishment work then.

It underwent a £200,000 renovation and expansion in 2005.

Ian said: “It’s quite a big thing for Dalston.

“This end of Dalston has really taken off.

“A lot of walkers come in the summer time and we have to refuse people because we just haven’t got the space.

“We refuse maybe 50 or 60 people on a busy Saturday and Sunday.

“It will give us more room and we can plan the tables better.”

The building expansion, which will be sympathetic to the area, will be similar to the existing building.

North Cumbria’s pub scene is undergoing a mini boom at the moment, with a number of venues being revamped or new bars opening.

The Fat Gadgie is set to open in Devonshire Street in Carlisle city centre.

And pub-goers and travellers will once again be able to raise a glass in Carlisle’s railway station as it prepares to house a pub inspired by the period in which it was built.

It will be named 301 Miles From London ”“ based on Carlisle folklore which claims that is the distance from the capital, although it’s actually thought to be 299 miles.

februar 20, 2017

Workington nail bar "closed until further notice" after immigration raid

Diamond Nails in Workington

A Workington nail bar is closed "until further notice" after it was raided by immigration officials.

Officers arrested two illegal workers from Vietnam at Diamond Nails, on Oxford Street, last week and forced the business to close for up to 48 hours while they applied for an order to prevent it employing staff who are not registered to work in this country.

Salford Magistrates Court imposed the order on Friday.

It runs until February 16 2018 and includes requirements that the business owner must check that their employees have the right to work, must permit entry by immigration officers to the premises to inspect for compliance and must inform Immigration Enforcement in writing before opening any other business.

A note on the door of the salon says it is closed until further notice.

Immigration Enforcement said a 22-year-old man, whose application for asylum had been refused, and a 21-year-old woman who had entered the UK illegally, were arrested at the Workington premises and were being detained while steps are taken to remove them from the country.

A Home Office spokeswoman revealed it was the second time immigration officers had found irregularities at the business.

She added: "A previous visit to Diamond Nails, Church Street, Whitehaven, conducted on November 11, found three illegal workers and the business was issued with a civil penalty of £30,000 that remains unpaid.

A further £40,000 fine was also issued following last Thursday's raid.

Paul Airlie, assistant director of Greater Manchester immigration enforcement, said: "Local businesses in Cumbria that persistently employ illegal workers must face the consequences.

"These new immigration powers give us an opportunity to further crack down on those offenders, such as Diamond Nails, where civil penalties have been issued and not paid."

The compliance order applies to all branches of Diamond Nails. The Whitehaven branch remains open.

februar 20, 2017

Sighting reported in hunt for man missing from Lake District

A man missing from the Lake District has been spotted, police have said.

David Brown, 68, who is originally from Shetland, went missing from the Borrowdale area at 9am on January 30.

He had set up camp at Chapel House Farm.

Police have now said Mr Brown, who is described as white, 5ft 10in and slim with dark, greying hair and glasses, was seen in Dalton-in-Furness on February 13.

Anyone who has seen Mr Brown is asked to call officers on 101.

februar 20, 2017

Court closure extended after Ministry of Justice fails to apply for licence in time

Maintenance work on West Cumbria's only court building is set to overrun after bosses failed to apply for the correct licence for the work in time.

Work began last week at West Cumbria Court House in Workington, including the removal of asbestos from the building following work to upgrade its wifi system.

The Ministry of Justice originally said civil and family cases would move to Carlisle Combined Court until March 12.

A spokesman has now confirmed they will have to remain in Carlisle for a further day "due to a delay in obtaining a work licence".

He confirmed the delay had been in applying for the licence.

Criminal cases, which are held in different court rooms within the building, have moved to Carlisle Magistrates Court until April 18. That date remains unchanged.

februar 20, 2017

Building application after MPM Marine wins repair contract for windfarm boats

Director Michael John Hawhins waits for the vessel to be relaunched

A small boat repair firm has landed a £100,000-a-year contract to maintain and repair boats servicing an offshore wind farm.

MPM Marine Ltd in Maryport has applied for planning permission to build a 15-metre temporary extension to the company’s marina-side business.

It is aimed at helping it secure business and open opportunities for more employment in the future.

Maryport town councillor Peter Kendall expressed concern at a recent meeting that the structure could be there for six years rather than six months.

“I am not against development but we need to keep an eye on this,” he said.

MPM director Michael John Hawkins said the application was for six months.

“Anything after that would need further planning permission,” he added.

“I don’t think it is going to really impact on anyone else.

“It is coming off the back of our building.

“You see things like this behind the piers in places like Blackpool.”

The wind farm in question is near Barrow.

Mr Hawkins added: “Maryport used to be a working port.

“We are trying to make sure it remains at least a small working port.

“People seem interested in what we do. I don’t think there will be a lot of complaints.”

He said the structure was needed to work on boats which carry 12 to 18 personnel out to the offshore wind turbines.

The wind farm boats are 70-tonne vessels, 20m long and 7.5m wide.

“We need this new structure to enable us to bring large vessels under cover for maintenance,” he added.

“For example, we have painted the hull of a boat but can’t do the top half because of the weather.

“We would need about three weeks of no rain or damp.”

He said it would help the town’s fishermen, too.

“They want their boats repaired when it is too wet or rough to go out to sea,” he added.

“We could do that if we had the indoor covering required.”

februar 20, 2017

Good Samaritan helps family after crash near Carlisle

The overturned Ford Focus on the B5307

A Good Samaritan who helped a family after their car flipped on a country road says she was amazed they escaped serious injury.

Niki Iveson , 37, was driving to Watchtree Nature Reserve when she came across the overturned Ford Focus on the B5307 near Thurstonfield, a few miles west of Carlisle.

The car’s 27-year-old woman driver had already got herself and her two children, aged eight and three, out of the overturned Ford.

A qualified first aider, Niki ”“ in the car with her 13-year-old daughter Bethany ”“ checked over the two children from the car while her husband Kevin, also 37, who had been cycling to Watchtree behind their car, warned other motorists.

An ambulance arrived after 10 minutes.

Remarkably, neither the mother nor her two children appear to have been badly injured in the dramatic 10am crash on Saturday.

Commenting on the lack of serious injuries, Niki, a scout leader who works as a community champion for Asda in Carlisle, said: “I was amazed.

“The mother had been able to get the children out.

“She was just thankful that they’d had their seatbelts on.

“She described how after the crash they were left hanging there. The boy was in a proper car seat and the girl had a booster seat. I checked them and they were talking okay.

“There was concern about the girl’s arm so we put it in a sling.”

Niki Iveson

Niki said she had completed a first aid booster course just two weeks ago, though she qualified eight years ago. She always carries a first aid pack in her car and she also does first aid through work.

She said: “I’d urge anybody to learn simple first aid.

“You never know when you’ll need it. This is the first time I’ve ever needed it for a road accident.”

She was also impressed, she said, at how well the crashed Ford Focus had withstood the crash.

Despite the car flipping, the Ford’s roof remained structurally intact.

The road was closed for more than two hours as emergency crews attended the scene and organised the recovery of the Ford Focus. Police at the scene also expressed surprise that nobody was seriously hurt.

The woman who was driving the Ford Focus and her children were taken by ambulance to The Cumberland Infirmary but police confirmed that they were not seriously hurt.

februar 20, 2017

Carlisle-made film to tackle obesity in Cumbria

Jack Runs Up The Hill

THE issue of childhood obesity in Carlisle has been highlighted in a locally- produced film which aims to encourage youngsters to make healthy choices.

It’s part of Cumbria County Council’s aim to combat obesity in the county ”“ but particularly in Carlisle.

Jack Runs Up The Hill has been jointly produced by Film Cumbria members Eden Films, Cloudscape animations and composer Sean Whytock.

It was made with £4,968 funding through the county council’s healthy weights grant.

Deborah Sweeney, Eden Films writer and producer, and mum of four boys, spoke about their involvement.

She said: “The issue was something I feel really strongly about.

“The importance of keeping children active and eating healthy is a priority for most parents and it’s difficult because children can’t play outside as much anymore because of heavy traffic and worries about people taking children away.”

They set out to create a Pinocchio-type story to show, in a non-judgmental way, that Jack couldn’t reach his full potential until he made changes to his lifestyle.

Telling the story sensitively, Cloudscape created an animated, overweight character called Jack.

He transforms into a healthy real life boy ”“ played by Deborah’s seven-year-old son Cillian ”“ towards the end of the film.

It also featured children from Stanwix School.

Deborah’s husband Peadar, Eden Films director, added: ”˜It has been a fantastic opportunity to collaborate with local creative people to highlight an important issue.”

Cumbria has a level of 66.9 per cent of adults who are classed as having excess weight. In Carlisle that figure is 68 per cent, more than three per cent higher than the national average of 64.8.

In Carlisle, 19 per cent of children in year six are deemed to have excess weight.

In January the Government updated its action plan which aims to reduce England’s rate of childhood obesity within the next 10 years.

It says nearly a third of children, aged two to 15, are overweight or obese.

Younger generations are becoming obese at earlier ages and staying obese for longer, which can lead to health conditions later in life such as type 2 diabetes.

The plan includes the aims of introducing a soft drinks levy, taking out 20 per cent of sugar in products, helping children enjoy an hour of physical activity every day and clearer food labeling.

Film Cumbria, which also produced The Guardians project, bringing to life statues around Carlisle to encourage voting among young people, is a social enterprise.

The film is available on You Tube at:

It has already been shown at Inglewood School in Harraby, Carlisle.

It is set to be distributed to schools, community groups and other organisations.

The film has been shared on social media by parents and was even picked up by a school in Thailand.

februar 20, 2017

Concerns grow for missing Penrith man

Missing Penrith man, Peter Dixon, 64.

Concerns are growing for the welfare of a missing Penrith man.

Peter Dixon, 64, was last seen at his home address on Folly Lane, Penrith, at 11.30pm yesterday.

Police believe Peter is driving a blue Nissan Micra, registration number: T668 LAO. Police ask anyone who has seen this car to contact them.

Peter is described as a white male, 5ft 10in tall with short grey hair. He is believed to be wearing a checked shirt, dark chinos, a blue coat and black shoes.

If anyone has seen Richard please contact Cumbria Police on 101 quoting log number 28 of the 20thFebruary.

februar 20, 2017

Helen Skelton takes top role on daytime TV

Helen Skelton

TV presenter and action girl Helen Skelton will be in the hot seat today when she takes over the popular Lorraine chat show on daytime television.

The former Blue Peter presenter, of Kirkby Thore, near Penrith, will

present the ITV1 morning show for a week.

It will be her last TV role before she goes on maternity leave with her second child.

Helen, who currently lives in France, was a hit with viewers when she appeared on Lorraine last October, with people taking to Twitter exclaiming that she could be a permanent replacement for Lorraine Kelly.

Helen spoke about the new role.

She said: "I can't wait to be back on Lorraine, it's such a great team to work with and I had a lot of fun presenting the show last time."

One of the guests on the show today will be Jonathan Chenan, best friend of TV personality Kim Kardashian, who will talk about his pursuit of love in new reality dating show Celebs Go Dating.

There will also be segments on the Oscars and London Fashion Week, as well as the usual cookery slot.

Lorraine, meanwhile, is fulfilling her lifelong ambition to take a trip from the South Atlantic to Georgia, following the same trip polar explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton, her hero, took a century ago.

Picking up from Monday, February 27 for two weeks will be ex-The One Show host and Loose Women star Christine Lampard.

Lorraine airs weekdays at 8.30am on ITV1.

februar 20, 2017

Teenagers threw stones at dog walker in Workington

Navvies Bridge in Workington

Teenagers threw stones at a man while he was out walking his dog in Workington.

The youths, aged about 14 or 15, assaulted the 40-year-old man on the footpath between Navvies Bridge and the Opera Bingo at about 1pm on Friday before making off towards Northside.

He was left with minor injuries.

Police are appealing anyone who witnessed the incident, or who saw the teenagers - one wearing a blue hoodie -, to get in touch with PC 2395 on 101.

februar 20, 2017

Man assaulted in Whitehaven after getting into what he thought was taxi

A 27-year-old man was left with a black eye and scratches on his nose after he was punched several times in the face.

Police said he was assaulted by a driver in Duke Street at the junction near Queen Street, in Whitehaven, after getting into a car he thought was a taxi.

It happened sometime between 12.30am and 12.45am yesterday.

Contact officers on 101 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111 with any information.

februar 20, 2017

More than one third of fires in Cumbria down to arsonists

Ravenglass Railway Engine shed fire

Arson attacks account for more than one third of all Cumbria fires, new figures show.

Statistics reveal the number of fires started deliberately accounted for 38 per cent of all fires in Cumbria in 2015/16.

Although around the county the number of arson attacks dropped slightly compared to 2014/15, in Allerdale they increased by 20 per cent.

There are six communities in Cumbria where deliberate fires were started a dozen or more times in 2015-16.

Four were in Allerdale: 35 fires in two communities in St Michael's; 16 in Flimby and 13 in Moss Bay. The other two were in Carlisle, with 13 in Botcherby and 12 in Belle Vue.

Recent high profile cases include that of Ben Taylor, 24, of Whole House Road, Seascale, who was sentenced to 10 years in prison last June after being found guilty of five counts of arson.

He started three fires at the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway while employed by the company.

The majority of incidents attended by firefighters are false alarms - 43 per cent, followed by fires, 31 per cent. Seven per cent are road crashes.

A report put before Carlisle City Council's Community Overview and Scrutiny Panel states: "Overall the total number of emergencies attended by Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service has decreased from 5,348 in 2010/11 to 4,518 in 2015-16."

The report attributes the decrease in the number of fires to more effective targeting of people or locations predicted to be more likely to have a fire.

februar 20, 2017

Teen sped away from police - four days after being given driving ban

A teenager sped away from police in his car just four days after he was given a driving ban for drug driving.

Adam Litke, 19, got into trouble for a second time on December 17 last year after police spotted him in his Renault Clio in Esk Street, Longtown, magistrates at Carlisle's Rickergate courts complex heard.

He had immediately sped off, reaching speeds of 50mph in a 30mph zone, and then 80mph as he drove on the C1003 Longtown to Easton Road, the court heard.

The defendant, of Rayfield, Longtown, pleaded guilty to dangerous driving, driving while disqualified, and driving without insurance and while over the cannabis drug drive limit.

Pam Ward, prosecuting, outlined the details of the case.

She described how after seeing the defendant in his car police realised that he was banned from the road but he reacted to their interest by accelerating away.

As they followed him, the officers noticed him breaking the speed limit and swerving through bends.

Mrs Ward said: "The driver accelerated down the busy street, with parked vehicles, and with people going into and out of shops. Other drivers had to stop as he forced his way through, travelling at 50mph in a 30mph zone."

The officers then saw the defendant's car reach a speed of 80mph as he drove along the main road with a 60mph limit.

On a left-hand bend, he finally lost control of his car and crashed into a ditch, said Mrs Ward.

The prosecutor added: "He said [to the officers]: 'I'm sorry. I'm going to prison; I'm disqualified from driving.”

At the time, said Mrs Ward, the defendant had just started a 12 week driving ban.

Keith Thomas, for the defendant, accepted the case was more suitable for Carlisle Crown Court.

Magistrates said their sentencing powers were inadequate and sent the case there for a hearing on March 17.

It will be heard before a judge.

Mr Thomas said that until the conviction in December, Litke had no convictions.

Granting the defendant bail, magistrates imposed an interim driving ban.

februar 20, 2017

Pylons and prisons debated at Copeland by-election hustings

Copeland's seven parliamentary candidates were grilled by the public at a hustings in Millom.

It was the fourth event at which the community could tackle the would-be MPs about the biggest issues facing the constituency.

Hotly debated topics during the by-election campaign have included infrastructure, nuclear, health services and education.

The proposed removal of 24-hour consultant-led maternity care for the West Cumberland Hospital, and the potential for women in labour to travel 40 miles to give birth, has been a key concern.

The campaign has also coincided with the news that the planned nuclear plant at Moorside could be under threat.

All seven candidates put their views across at last night’s hustings, attended by around 150 people at the Beggar's Theatre.

Subjects raised included the plans by the National Grid to erect pylons to connect Moorside. Candidates were asked if they responded to the consultation and how they responded.

Independents Michael Guest and Roy Ivinson and Ukip's Fiona Mills said they had not responded individually, although Mr Guest said Copeland Borough Council, of which he was a part, had been asked to respond.

Miss Mills said she had met with group Power Without Pylons

Jack Lenox (Green Party) said his party had responded and Gillian Troughton (Labour) said she had been involved in the consultation response from Copeland council and the county council.

Rebecca Hanson, for the Liberal Democrats, said she had not personally responded but if she became MP, she would support people to "become more expert than the experts" and help them put together a case against pylons.

The Conservative Party's Trudy Harrison said she had responded personally and was against plans for pylons. She has campaigned with Power Without Pylons. She said: "It is not a legacy I want for our children."

All candidates agreed that undersea cabling was the best option, although Mr Lenox said his party was against Moorside as a whole so that would be the best option for him.

They were asked about the A595 by a campaigner who wondered why, after four years of campaigning, nothing had been done to improve the main road and asked the candidates what they would do.

The seven said they would take the case to Westminster and fight for better infrastructure.

They were also asked about prisons and the Government announcement that prison officers in the south of the England would be given £5,000 more to work.

All agreed that more money was needed to improve ageing prisons, like the local Haverigg jail and more needed to be done to support prison workers.

Mr Ivison asked if prison was always the best option for some crimes and

Miss Mills suggested sending foreign criminals back to their countries to serve out their sentence would help save the prison system money, although she admitted that it was not a popular idea.

Voters in the Copeland by-election will go to the polls on Thursday.

The candidates are: Rebecca Hanson, 44, Liberal Democrats; Trudy Harrison, 40, Conservatives; Michael Guest, 72, Independent; Roy Ivinson, 62, Independent; Jack Lenox, 29, Green; Fiona Mills, 47, UKIP; and Gillian Troughton, 52, Labour.

februar 20, 2017

New report casts doubt on death rates at north Cumbria's main hospitals

A retired consultant has reassured the public that death rates at north Cumbria’s hospitals are not too high, despite previous claims.

Keith Ions said there is now evidence to show that a high-profile review which plunged the Cumberland Infirmary and West Cumberland Hospital into special measures in 2013 was based on flawed information.

The much-publicised Keogh Review was ordered by the Government four years ago as a result of worrying death rates.

But the review’s author, Sir Bruce Keogh, has defended the document, and pointed out that the inspections of the two hospitals ”“ the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle and Whitehaven’s West Cumberland Hospital ”“ uncovered “numerous” concerns.

The Keogh Review had laid bare a catalogue of failings and, as a result, North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust remains in special measures to date.

But Mr Ions said research published recently shows the mortality data that triggered the visit was potentially flawed.

He believes that, at the time of the review, hospitals across the country were experiencing similar problems.

And although it may have ultimately led to improvements in care, Mr Ions said he wants to reassure patients and clarify previous claims that death rates at the trust were too high.

His comments are based on a research paper published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) looking at hospital-wide mortality ratios and whether they could be used to assess quality of care.

The study concluded that standardised mortality ratios (SMRs) ”“ used by Keogh to assess whether death rates at hospitals were too high ”“ “do not provide a useful indication of the proportion of avoidable deaths in a trust”.

It said this figure did not have statistical significance.

The study was the largest of its kind nationally and one of the largest worldwide.

It recommended that in future, other more reliable methods ”“ such as the number of avoidable deaths rather than overall death rates ”“ are used to reflect a hospital’s performance.

Mr Ions said: “The only way to know about the connection between death rates and hospital performance seems to be looking at avoidable death rates: people who die who could have been saved.

“For example, for someone with say appendicitis, death is avoidable with treatment. For someone with terminal cancer it is not.

“The avoidable death rate gives a better, though not infallible, guide to a hospital’s performance.

“However, the only way to get this information is by analysing the individual case notes of patients who have died.

“This is difficult to do, it’s hugely time-consuming and also costly because it has to be done by several experienced clinicians.”

Mr Ions said he hopes the findings will help to reassure patients and help to mend the trust’s reputation.

“Professor Keogh’s team could of course have gone into any hospital and found problems of one sort or another,” he added.

“What concerns me is that the people of north Cumbria may now think that death rates at the hospitals are too high, when this is not necessarily the case.

“This means people may have lost faith in the north Cumbria hospitals without good reason.

“Some positive changes will have resulted from the special measures intervention, but the reputation of the hospital has been unfairly damaged, and that can have long-term implications.”

But Sir Bruce Keogh, who led the review, defended his report.

He said: “The elevated mortality rate over two years was simply a trigger for the review.

“The BMJ study, to which Mr Ions refers, was recommended and instigated by the review to address exactly the issues he raises.

“In my report I was clear that ”˜it is clinically meaningless and academically reckless to use such statistical measures to quantify actual numbers of avoidable deaths’.

“However, we cannot escape the fact that the 2013 visits uncovered numerous issues of concern in the trust, as did subsequent CQC visits in 2014 and 2015.

“In 2013 we found a Trust keen to improve, but with demonstrable weaknesses in a number of areas including some measures of safety, infection control and the way complaints and serious incidents were handled and understood.

“So the reason for the trust being put in special measures went well beyond mortality rates into other well documented areas.

“I know the trust has been working hard over the last few years to address these issues.”

februar 20, 2017

Top billing for actress Greta Scacchi at Keswick Film Festival

Greta Scacchi

Keswick was immersed in movie magic as the town hosted its 18th annual film festival.

And the star billing went to celebrated actress Greta Scacchi , best known for her role in the film White Mischief, the classic 1987 British film dramatising an unsolved true life murder in Kenya.

She provided a fascinating insight into her career in a questions-and-answers session at Keswick’s Theatre by the Lake.

In an action-packed weekend of events, hundreds of festival goers were treated to a wide range of classic films at the town’s Alhambra cinema and fans had a rare chance to meet some of the key professionals who have left their mark on the industry.

Miss Scacchi presented three of her most iconic films, White Mischief, The Player, and The Browning Version, from the respected Carlisle-born director Mike Figgis.

But there were also contributions from other notable film greats, including Swallows and Amazons’ producer Nick Barton, whose hits also include the hugely successful Calendar Girls and Kinky Boots.

Also at the event were three of the country’s top film critics: Matt Glasby, who writes for Total Film and GQ magazine; Karen Krizanovich, honorary secretary of the London Film Critics Circle; and Ali Catterall, who has written for Total Film, Q, and Time Out.

Keswick Film Festival director Ian Payne said: “This event puts Keswick on the map for cultural reasons, and it brings major figures in the world of film to the town.

“We aim to bring the best of independent film making to Keswick.”

Over the course of the weekend, about 3,000 tickets were sold, giving those taking part access to many hours of top class film entertainment.

The event also helps introduce new film talent to the world, via its short film event at the Alhambra.

They included:

  • Caring for the Nuclear Family, by Penny Watson and Melanie Wheatley. The film shares the story of how a west Cumbrian family spend a month caring a child from Belarus, where life is still profoundly affected by the Chernobyl disaster 30 years ago
  • A Shepherd’s Hand, directed by Richard Berry and Jago Miller, and written by Geoff Cox. Set within an attempt on the Joss Naylor Lakeland Challenge, this poetic film pays tribute to the legendary Cumbrian fell runner and explores this demanding sport
  • The Irrational Tendencies of Elias, directed by Ben Bellingham. It tells the story of a desperate, unemployed perfectionist, determined to stand out for the right reasons at an interview. It turns into the interview from hell.

This year’s festival was the first since the death of the event’s former patron Sir John Hurt.

The Oscar-nominated star was renowned for roles including Quentin Crisp in The Naked Civil Servant, the title role in The Elephant Man and wand merchant Mr Ollivander in the Harry Potter films.

Find out more about the event at

februar 20, 2017

Workington Town face long trip in League One Cup Quarter-Final after beating Whitehaven

Workington Town coach Dave Clark

Workington Town face a long trip to Gloucestershire Old Golds in the quarter-final of the League One Cup.

They earned their place with a deserved 22-6 win at the Recreation Ground against Whitehaven.

Coach Dave Clark said: “That represents a new challenge for us and, although it is a long trek, I think it’s something we will look forward to.

“I’ve been pleased with how we have progressed through the pre-season, improving all the time.

“It was unfortunate for both teams that there was a delay of over an hour for the kick-off but once we got started, I was pleased how we responded.

“We have some experienced players now in the likes of Stuart Howarth and Phil Joseph and I think they are going to bring on the young players we have in the squad.

“It has taken time to get the present squad up and running and it’s a long season, so I’m sure there will be changes before we get through all the fixtures.

“But the way the lads are progressing has been very encouraging.

“We have the Challenge Cup next week at Newcastle and they have started very well, so that is going to be another test for us before we start the league programme against them the following week.”

The game had to be delayed by an hour and a quarter because the Whitehaven club’s medical kit was not completely up-to-date.

The doctor on duty had to obtain new drugs for potentially life threatening injuries and, once they were in place, the tie could get under way.

The defeat leaves Whitehaven without a win in five matches so far ”“ four friendlies and a League One Cup tie.

Coach Carl Forster, who put in a strong shift on the field himself, clearly has issues to deal with as his side seem to lack creativity.

They have a must-win game on Saturday when they travel to West Hull to play the Conference Premier Division side in the Challenge Cup.

The League One season opens for them a week later with a trip to South Wales Ironmen.

februar 20, 2017

Workington boss Dave Hewson frustrated after Reds come from two goals down, only to still lose

Reds manager Dave Hewson

Problems mounted for Workington Reds after their 3-2 defeat at Stafford Rangers.

For the two players who were sent-off during the game will miss Saturday’s trip to Grantham.

It used to be ten days before suspensions came into operation but that has changed this season to a week.

Full-back Jake Simpson saw red after 24 minutes for a pull on the home winger who was through on goal. To compound the agony, the referee awarded a penalty after the offence had clearly occurred outside the box.

Then, in the 71st minute, Conor Tinnion was on his way to the dressing room, reacting angrily when a decision went against him as he lashed the ball in the general direction of the referee’s assistant.

Indications are that Simpson will receive a one-match ban while Tinnion might have to serve up to three games.

Joint boss Dave Hewson said: “There were a lot of decisions in the game which were queried by both teams and I don’t want to say more than that.

“But it was so disappointing to lose after we had fought back to level terms with ten men after going 2-0 down.

“To get level showed the spirit there is in the team and we were buzzing again.

“But we spent most of the interval talking about what we hadn’t got to do.

"What happens, they score in the first minute of the second half because we didn’t do what we’d been talking about.

“That was the frustrating thing about the game as it turned out.

“Sam did have one good chance late on. He struck it well but was just off target, or we could have salvaged point.”

Reds haven’t got a big squad and, to add to the two suspensions at the weekend, will still be missing Anthony Wright.

He turned his ankle in the midweek Cumberland Cup win over Cleator Moor Celtic and on Saturday the swelling still hadn’t gone down.

Fellow midfielder James Earl took a knock on the foot towards the end of the game at Stafford and he was limping onto the bus for the journey home.

februar 20, 2017

Nine-men Workington Reds suffer double whammy as the fall to defeat against Stafford Rangers

Conor Tinnion was sent off in Reds' defeat on Saturday

Stafford Rangers 3 Workington Reds 2

An eventful contest at the Marsden Stadium ended in a double whammy against the west Cumbrians.

For not only did Reds lose three valuable points but they also finished the game with nine men.

Jake Simpson saw red after 24 minutes for a pull as last defender on Izak Reid and to compound the agony referee Barry Lamb awarded a penalty.

The contact had been made outside the area; Reid tumbled into it and the official awarded the penalty which subsequently doubled the Stafford lead.

Conor Tinnion was the second player to walk after 71 minutes when he was upset over a decision not to award him a corner.

He reacted angrily, lashing the ball in the general direction of the referee’s assistant who had made the call.

It didn’t hit him but the referee clearly saw it as an aggressive act of dissent and immediately produced the red card.

The final scoreline rather spoiled what had looked, at half-time, as an excellent comeback by the visitors.

They had gone down to 10 men and were 2-0 behind as a result midway through the first half but, by the interval, were back on terms and seemingly back in the contest.

The trouble was Stafford scored again to regain the lead in the first minute of the second half.

That pushed the advantage back towards the hosts, who had other opportunities to add to their lead.

Somehow Reds survived to cling onto the hope they could snatch something on the break, but when Tinnion was sent off with 19 minutes remaining, all hope seemed to have gone.

But soon after his departure, one last chance did present itself.

Substitute Sam Joel gathered a cross into the box and was unmarked with time to pick his spot, but unfortunately fired just the wrong side of the upright.

The game had started badly for Reds as Stafford went in front after only four minutes.

An attempted clearance in the Reds’ box was blocked and the ball fell kindly to Kyle Perry who forced it home from six yards.

Rob Wilson came close to giving Reds parity when his free-kick from just outside the area cleared the wall and rippled the outside of the netting.

Then came the decision which was so crucial. Reid went down under Simpson’s unfair challenge but the referee should have awarded a free-kick just outside.

Instead, he sent off the Workington full-back and awarded the penalty.

Even then, Reds almost got out of trouble as Aaran Taylor saved Reid’s spot kick but he could only push it out and this time the taker made no mistake with the second chance.

It was to Workington’s great credit that the 10 men came back and were the better side in the closing 15 minutes of the half.

On 38 minutes, Josh Calvert got on the end of a deep corner from Tinnion and his powerful header found the opposite corner of the net.

In the second and final minute of time added on, Reds were level.

Did Mr Lamb decide he had made an error earlier and even things up?

Certainly there was only an innocuous coming together, almost an accidental tangling of legs, when Scott Allison went down in the box.

The referee pointed to the spot and Dave Symington levelled things up for a great pre-interval boost.

The problem was Stafford scored immediately after the restart.

Reds were caught out by a long ball over the top and leading scorer Josh Gordon, a target for Leicester City, held off the challenge to fire past Taylor.

Reds lived dangerously for a while with Gordon missing a great opportunity by heading over the bar.

Once it was pinball stuff in the Reds’ six-yard box before Taylor smothered and the Workington keeper twice saved headers from the dangerous Perry.

When Tinnion’s red card followed, the nine men seemed to have no chance, but there was that late opportunity for Joel which he just couldn’t take.

Stafford: Whitehouse, Griffiths, Bowen, Tolley, Morris, Reeves, I. Reid (Thornton 88), Sanders, Perry, Gordon, L. Reid. Subs (not used) Cater, Haughton, McFarlane, Kyprianos.

Workington: Taylor, Simpson, Rowntree, Smith, Calvert, Earl (May (80), Symington, Wilson, Ryan (Joel 72), Allison, Tinnion. Subs (not used) Waterston, Douglas, Fowler.

Referee: Barry Lamb

Crowd: 653

Star Man: Rob Wilson

februar 20, 2017

Bragging rights stay firmly with Workington Town after League One Cup victory over Whitehaven

Carl Forber puts Town on the score sheet

Whitehaven 6 Workington Town 22

The bragging rights stayed firmly with Workington Town after a deserved League One Cup victory at the Recreation Ground.

Always sharper in attack, with more penetration than their hosts, Town were following-up their win in the Ike Southard Memorial Trophy game a fortnight earlier.

Just like then, Town had 16 points in hand on their rivals as they booked their place in the quarter finals of the competition.

For the opening quarter of the game, there was nothing in it.

The kick-off had been delayed by an hour and a quarter but, in heavy underfoot conditions and with rain making ball control difficult, both teams went at it with customary gusto.

The tackling from both sides was tough and effective so that there were no real clear breaks from either side.

But, on 25 minutes, Town broke the deadlock after an error from the rivals.

Jesse Joe Parker dropped a simple pass in his own ten-metre zone and Carl Forber was in quickly to hack the ball over the line and dive on it to complete the touchdown.

Although he failed to convert the breakthrough, that had given Town lift-off and they enjoyed a good spell.

With Steve Scholey running strongly; debutant Phil Joseph, powerful and eager for work and the exemplary Stuart Howarth calling the shots, Town were well on top.

They increased their lead on 28 minutes after a great burst in midfield from Tom Curwen.

Howarth took over to feed Kieran Mewes and, as the defence closed on the winger, he booted the ball forward towards the Whitehaven line.

It should have been tidied up but Town speedster Theerapol Ritson arrived first to dive in for the second unconverted try.

Whitehaven did have a spell at the end of the game when they went close.

Instead of going for the simple penalty to get themselves on the board, they took the tap and were desperately close to scoring. James Newton dived in from close range but was unable to ground the ball.

Tommy Holland and Glen Riley, when they were on the field sharing front row stints for Whitehaven, both ran strongly and coach Carl Foster was always prominent as he played the whole game.

But Town were able to extend their lead with a Mewse penalty on 53 minutes.

Whitehaven desperately needed a lifeline and they almost got that four minutes later.

Good pressure on the Town line saw Foster plunge over but, in doing so, he knocked-on.

When play swept to the other end, Jordan Burns knocked-on three metres from his own line when dealing with a long kick by Jamie Doran.

It proved to be a fatal error for when Town eventually got the ball wide Joe Hambley had a simple task in diving over in the corner. Mewes, who has all the makings of a fine kicker, added a touchline conversion.

Whitehaven sadly lacked creativity and were more ponderous than their opponents when attacking the line.

But they did manage to get over on 74 minutes when Holland crashed through for a try which Paul Crook converted.

But it wasn’t the start of a late Whitehaven revival and the last word, deservedly went to Town.

Whitehaven were attacking when Howarth made a smart interception and raced through.

As he was being caught, he put in a clever kick ahead and it was Forber who was there to dibble over the line and get the touchdown.

Again it was Mewes who put over the conversion to round off a confident Workington performance.

Whitehaven: Burns, Parker, Moore, Taylor, Pattinson, Crook, Roper, Shackley, Newton, Holland, McAvoy, Tilley, Forster. Subs (all used) Worthington, Maudling, Riley, Dalton.

Try: Holland. Goal: Crook.

Workington Town: Ritson, Hambley, Davies, Chmberlain, Mewse, Forber, Howarth, Curwen, C. Phillips, Scholey, B. Phillips, Joseph, Singleton. Subs (all used) Dowsett, Doran, Coward, Shelford.

Tries: Forber (2), Ritson, Hambley. Goals: Mewes (3).

Referee: Callum Straw

Crowd: 908

Penalties: 14-9

Half-time: 0-8

Star men: Tommy Holland (Haven) and Stuart Howarth (Town)

februar 20, 2017

Jamie Proctor shines again as Carlisle Utd end 20-year Wycombe hoodoo

Jamie Proctor battles with Will De Havilland (photos: Barbara Abbott)

Wycombe Wanderers 1 Carlisle United 2: There may be several reasons why Carlisle United appear to have got their promotion mojo back towards the end of a tricky winter, but two words surely stand above them all: Jamie Proctor.

Three appearances from the man signed to replace Charlie Wyke have yielded two goals, nine points and, just as critically, the knowledge United are going into battle with a line-leader worthy of the number on his back.

At Wycombe, as at Leyton Orient and against Doncaster, the Blues' latest No9 appeared exactly what he is: a frontman on loan from a higher level. Proctor scored a timely equaliser here and ensured Carlisle always had an aggressive face at the very front of their team.

This was a gritty team effort, for sure. United's defenders again answered a few questions about whether they can stand up to examination. A first win at Adams Park since 1997 is a result all can share in.

But how much more substance this side seems to have because they are also defending, and attacking, from the front, with the controlled hostility Proctor brings.

Already looking like a linchpin in this promotion bid, the man borrowed from Bolton exerted pressure in just enough places on Saturday. Certainly he helped unsettle an imperfect Wycombe defence on a day when Gareth Ainsworth's men tried all they could to bash United's house down.

Both United's goals resulted from an awareness of where the home side could be weakened. First Proctor found enough space on the edge of the box in the ninth minute to cancel out Adebayo Akinfenwa's opener.

Later, his reading of a long Mark Gillespie ball was such that Ainsworth's back line was too occupied to notice Reggie Lambe stealing onto his flick-on to poke in the winner.

Sometimes the impact is clear, at others it is subtle. You also notice it when it isn't there. Is it too early in his Carlisle career to think it no coincidence how they struggled without Proctor, in that horror show against Blackpool the previous weekend?

Perhaps. It would be wrong to describe this as a one-man show and also wrong to ignore the other parts of a tenacious performance. But still. Six points from two games against fellow contenders is an outcome most fans would have traded limbs for after that 4-1 drubbing last Saturday.

Confidence is now flowing back through Cumbrian veins and next weekend's visit of Portsmouth now shapes up to be a humdinger.

With Proctor at the front, and streetwise enough to be a lone centre-forward, Curle has returned to a system we saw at the very start of 2016//17, which allows an extra attacking midfielder, such as Lambe, to roam dangerously in support. Mike Jones' return has also strengthened the spine while a return to a back four has also brought a little more security.

Not that it necessarily seemed that way to begin with here. Quite how a man of Akinfenwa's shape goes unnoticed in the penalty box is one of life's mysteries but there the Wycombe striker was, two minutes in, glancing Anthony Stewart's cross into the far corner of United's net and extending the wait for a clean-sheet another week.

It is folly to underestimate Akinfenwa, who still has quality to burn at this level. But pleasingly it's again foolish to write off United. Even in a stop-start spell, littered with contentious refereeing calls by Darren Drysdale, they got a quick way back, Lambe linking sharply with Nicky Adams down the left before finding Proctor in space to skim a fine low shot past Jamal Blackman.

Carlisle's response to going behind was already effective, and a sometimes hectic contest brought more forward motion. John O'Sullivan was bright in flashes on the right, setting up Michael Raynes to have a shot blocked, while United fed off further Proctor battling and back-to-goal strength in the first 20 minutes.

There was conflict in the dugouts, too, Drysdale pausing play early on to wag his finger at Curle, and then United had to show their mettle at the back. For Wycombe, the influential Sam Saunders went close with a deflected free-kick in a spell that also saw Paris Cowan-Hall run at the defence, Luke O'Nien test Gillespie, Will De Havilland fail to convert a cross and Joe Jacobson drill into a red shirt after Alex Jakubiak had glided past Gary Liddle.

These forays required serious concentration, and no frills. At one stage Macaulay Gillesphey aimed a no-nonsense clearance so far that it cleared the high roof of the Frank Adams Stand. It was important United kept absorbing and dealing with pressure while Wycombe's tempo was at its highest.

What happened next was a golden bonus. Gillespie aimed a long clearance into the home half and a back four without the injured Aaron Pierre malfunctioned, with Blackman also off his line. After Proctor got his head to it, Lambe sped in to snaffle his first goal since November.

This sort of defending can be fatal if the other team are minded to be stubborn for the rest of the game. And this, more or less, is how Carlisle were. Before half-time, as home fans now turned on Drysdale, they survived another Saunders effort (Gillespie saved well) and a couple of tame penalty appeals, United then narrowly failing to increase their own tally through Raynes.

After the break, things grew more tense and also shorter of fuse, with more of the action in Carlisle's half. Akinfenwa headed a long set-piece against the post. The meaty frontman then fed Jakubiak but Gillespie was equal to the shot.

More Wycombe attempts were high on effort, and persistence, but not on accuracy, as Raynes and Shaun Brisley battled away. Cowan-Hall was speedy but erratic, Saunders one final pass away from being decisive, and Curle's first substitution, sending Jamie Devitt on for O'Sullivan, helped take United back into home territory with some new ideas.

Adams, a flitting danger, was close to setting things up with some deliveries from the left, while Proctor fed Devitt for a cross that Wycombe hacked away. Raynes, towering in the air, won plenty without quite being rewarded. United also enraged the home contingent when their players were awarded free-kicks and didn't exactly leap to their feet.

Further Buckinghamshire ire was reserved for Drysdale, who penalised Akinfenwa more than he favoured him when crosses came into United's zone. Substitute Matt Bloomfield flashed a shot wide and then, the edgier things became, things overspilled on the touchline - in the fourth official's view, at least, as he invited Drysdale for a chat before the ref ordered Curle to the stand.

"It's like being refused entry to a nightclub," Curle later said of his banishment, which followed arguments with Ainsworth. "You walk away and go and find a party elsewhere." His alternative shindig took place in the directors' seats as United, aided by Jabo Ibehre's imposing arrival, held Wycombe off for seven added minutes.

Curle, who swapped some sharp words with Akinfenwa after full-time, later joked that his dismissal had been for the crime of "being too good-looking".

The secret admirer who sent him a Valentine's card last week may concur - and nobody will deny that United are looking easier on the eye again. The reasons, such as Proctor, are no great mystery.

februar 20, 2017

Carlisle strengthen their grip on the North Lancs Cumbria League title with a second win over Wigton in a fortnight

Carlisle's Henry Wainwright with the ball

Week by week Carlisle tick the boxes needed to eventually earn first prize ”“ the North Lancs Cumbria League title.

A second win over Wigton inside a fortnight, this time by 16-8, maintains a strong grip on top spot.

Although their overall lead was actually clipped by a point to ten, the games are starting to run out for erstwhile late challengers.

Those serious chasers are down to two now ”“ De La Salle and Aspatria ”“ as this defeat effectively ended fourth-placed Wigton’s hopes.

Conditions at Lowmoor Road were testing, which made this latest derby game difficult for both sides.

Once again there wasn’t a lot in it as 17-5 in the Cumbria Cup earlier in the month became 16-8 in the league.

It was never going to be a free-flowing game of rugby, full of sparkling handling moves from the backs as the conditions dictated events.

A stiff breeze blowing across the pitch might have been bad enough on its own but, allied to that, there were showers of soaking rain which also made handling difficult.

Carlisle made the best possible start in their quest for a third win of the season over the Greens.

From the kick-off they put Wigton under all sorts of pressure and, after a series of rucks in the 22 on the home side’s left, the ball was moved wide.

That allowed fly-half James Telford to put Josh Holmes in the clear for an easy touchdown.

Wigton, though, made their intentions clear by driving Carlisle back from the restart to keep them pinned in their own 22.

Unfortunately for Wigton, they had to reorganise after the game was delayed for some time.

In quick succession, the Greens lost Gregg Smith and Lindsay Walker to, what looked like, significant leg injuries.

This didn’t seem to put the home side off their stride though and they were able to level up.

As Carlisle seemed intent on playing themselves out of defence, number eight Stuart Creighton made a smart interception to catch hold of a Carlisle pass and crash over for Wigton’s first score.

The Greens’ injury woes kept on coming, though, when midway through the half, Jamie Warwick had to be helped off the field.

Again, this didn’t seem to disrupt them as their replacements were just as keen to keep Carlisle at bay.

However, Carlisle edged back into the lead when Telford landed a penalty opportunity in front of the posts, having just earlier missed one from out wide.

Carlisle, too, were committing a number of penalties and, after a high tackle by Matty Roper, he went to the bin and they were down to 14 men for the best part of what remained in the half.

Carlisle managed the deficiency well and defensively kept Wigton at bay until Roper came back on just as the half ended, with the visitors 8-5 to the good.

The scores were levelled up shortly into the second half, as Dan Reed kicked a penalty for Wigton from 30 metres.

Neither side seemed able to take the game by the scruff of the neck.

Although Carlisle had scrum dominance, too often they were penalised for not controlling the scrum as it hurtled backwards at a rate of knots.

It was the hour mark before Carlisle got their noses in front from another Telford penalty as he slotted one from the 22 into the teeth of the wind.

Both sides had scoring opportunities but their respective defences were pretty resolute, with neither side really troubling the opposition try line.

But, on 66 minutes, Carlisle winger Ben Purdham broke the deadlock. He kicked a loose ball down the right touchline and managed to scoop it up and dive over for Carlisle’s second and which would prove to be the clinching score.

The league leaders were relieved to have survived this latest derby encounter on the winning side. The conditions made handling the ball very tricky and there were lots of unforced errors by both sides.

Carlisle will want to reflect on the high penalty count and the reasons for it, as they enjoy a two-week break before their next league game away to Littleborough on March 4.

The Littleborough side will be sure to make life difficult for Carlisle, as they attempt to close down opportunities for the chasing pack to catch the league leaders.

The same break awaits Wigton whose next assignment is also on March 4, at Bolton the team immediately below them in fifth, but five points adrift.

februar 20, 2017

Cake sale in aid of north Cumbrian teenager badly hurt in crash

From left, Dylan Nicholson Palou, Lucy Gill and Matty Watson with cakes for sale

Students and teachers descended on the sixth-form common room of Caldew School in Dalston as “Pickle’s Bakery” opened its doors for the first time.

The school’s sweet tooth was satisfied by the hundreds of cupcakes, biscuits, flapjacks and traybakes laid out in tins and tubs at break time.

The cake sale was organised by friends of Year 12 student Michael Johnstone to provide a boost to the teenager as he continues to improve.

Football-loving Michael ”“ known as Pickle ”“ has had the lower part of his right leg amputated below the knee.

He suffered serious leg injuries in a crash outside the Pirelli factory, on the edge of Carlisle, on January 31.

Friend Lucy Gill, 16, said: “Michael lost a lot of his clothes ”“ they had to cut them off him when they were treating him ”“ so we’re trying to raise the money to replace them.”

Matty Watson, also 16, added: “Anything left over we’re going to put it to the gofundme page to get him a sports prosthetic so he can carry on playing football.

“Michael is bright, lively, always positive and enthusiastic. Everyone likes him. He’s been overwhelmed by all the cards that we’ve taken over for him.”

The cake sale was the first event Michael’s young friends have organised.

<blockquote data-width="625" data-height="469" class="ricoh-theta-spherical-image" >Sixth Form pupils from Caldew School, Dalston near Carlisle hold a cake sale to raise money for one of their classmates who was seriously injured in a recent road accident<a href="" target="_blank">Spherical Image - RICOH THETA</a></blockquote> <script async src="" charset="utf-8"></script>

Others being planned include a non-uniform day, a sponsored silence and possibly a students-versus-staff football match.

Photographs of Michael are also up across the school asking people to donate loose change to help boost funds.

februar 20, 2017

Keith Curle: Carlisle Utd fans have "no excuses" not to attend Portsmouth game

Keith Curle

Keith Curle has told Carlisle United's fans they have "no excuse" not to turn up at Brunton Park and back his side's revitalised promotion push.

The Blues manager says next weekend's six-pointer against Portsmouth deserves as much support as possible from the Cumbrian faithful.

It follows Carlisle's back-to-back wins against promotion rivals, including Saturday's 2-1 win at Wycombe.

Curle now says it is time for everyone to get behind his side.

"There's no excuses now," he said.

"If you're a Carlisle United supporter and you're in your house listening to a radio next Saturday, you're wrong.

"Because I don’t care what's gone on in the past, this is about what we're trying to do and what we're trying to bring.

"I'll be disappointed if I get people five minutes after the game ringing up with a complaint. It's because they haven't been to the game.

"If you're a Carlisle fan, come to the game, lend your support."

United, now five points above the play-off places, could increase their gap over fifth-placed Pompey to nine points next weekend.

That follows goals from Jamie Proctor and Reggie Lambe in Saturday's gritty win at Adams Park.

Curle added: "It was a challenge, we faced the challenge, and now the focus is a massive test and a massive game against Portsmouth.

"If there's not 9-10,000 supporters there, I don’t know what else I can do.

"We're putting the football club in a fantastic position, Portsmouth are going to bring a lot of fans and they are noisy. Their supporters are noisy but they won't outshout us."

Curle, meanwhile, said Carlisle's "bravery" was behind their first win at Wycombe for 20 years.

Proctor and Lambe hit back after Adebayo Akinfenwa's opener for the hosts.

Curle said: "We know how Gareth [Ainsworth, Wycombe manager] plays. And we've got a lot of respect for how they play because it does get them results.

"Teams can come unstuck if you've got a soft centre, if you're not willing and brave enough to stand up to the challenge and earn the right to play your football. The players stood up to the challenge."

The Blues are also now just three points adrift of second-placed Plymouth, with Curle's side the only team in the top 11 to win on Saturday.

februar 16, 2017

Bungalow transformed with clever use of interior design

Ben and Rachel Mitchinson with their children Leo and Jessie

Ben and Rachel Mitchinson transformed their Kendal bungalow into a sleek, light-filled home designed for family life in just seven months.

A new kitchen, three new bathrooms, replacement windows and doors, an amended bedroom layout, a raft of energy-efficiency measures and building work which included new flat roofs and replacing exterior pebble dash with a modern, smooth render are among the major changes undertaken since they moved in last March.

The speed at which they tackled the work led some friends to question whether they would have done anything differently if they’d taken more time.

“The only thing that bugs me is the door on the master en-suite bathroom,” says Ben.

The door opens inwards but Ben says it would work better if they’d altered it to open outwards.

But it’s a small detail and Rachel describes the property as their forever home where they plan to stay for the long-term with their children Leo, three, and two-year-old Jessie.

Rachel researched and planned most of the interior design schemes. The result is a contemporary look that’s warm and cosy thanks to the use of colourful accessories, texture, clever lighting and pelmets to lower the ceiling height.

“It’s modern but it’s comfortable,” she says.

Ben says he loves living their new home: “I come home with a smile on my face - I can’t believe we live here.”

Ben, 36, and Rachel, 29, hadn’t planned to move house in 2016, having only just finished doing up their previous home in Kendal. They spotted the four-bedroom bungalow online when they were looking for a house for Rachel’s parents.

“I came home from work and she told me we were moving,” says Ben.

As well as the property’s spaciousness and potential, it’s located in an area of Kendal where Ben has always wanted to live.

However, he knew that they would be taking on a major project to make it their own: “I saw the potential but I also saw the sheer amount of work we would have to do to it.”

Having decided to move, their original plan was to tackle one room at a time. But Ben was concerned that they would never finish the work, so they opted instead to refurbish the whole house as one self-contained project.

Ben, who runs his own IT support and consultancy business, iTek in Kendal, grew up helping his dad, Paul Mitchinson, in his building firm and so was able to carry out some jobs himself, such as removing the majority of the exterior pebble dash render.

After using a pneumatic chisel every evening after work for about four weeks, Ben says: “I was incapable of lifting my arms up for a week or two.”

The replacement silicone-based smooth white render is self-coloured and is designed not to need re-painting - one of a number of low-maintenance features at the property.

Ben’s brother, Tom Mitchinson, of Windermere-based Varmr Construction, was the main contractor. Ben and Rachel say they can’t praise Tom and his colleague, joiner Steven Coward, highly enough for the amount of work they got through and the high standard of finish.

Steven put himself out to help Ben whenever there was a deadline to meet. The pair worked through last Easter weekend to fit an underfloor heating system, which included laying 1,000 metres of pipework, so that it would be ready in time for the kitchen fitters to start work.

To ensure their new home would be warm and cosy and to future-proof their fuel bills, Ben researched and planned a number of energy-efficiency measures.

The bungalow now has extensive insulation, solar PV panels, triple-glazed aluminium windows with UV coating to help keep the heat in and LED light fittings. To keep air circulating and to avoid any problems with condensation or damp, a MVHR internal heat recovery system has been installed.

The original master bedroom has been divided in two to create a room each for Leo and Jessie, while two bedrooms have been amalgamated to make a master bedroom, en-suite bathroom, walk-in wardrobe and a home office.

The kitchen, supplied and fitted by Webbs of Kendal, features a mix of contemporary design elements and practical solutions for family life.

Rachel and Ben, who collaborated with Ben Monaghan of Webbs on the design, knew they wanted a breakfast bar where the children and visitors could sit while meals were prepared, a high-level oven which would be safely out of the children’s reach and a combination of gloss and satin-finish units.

A Corian work surface with an upstand has no crevices to trap dirt and is easy to keep clean - which is one of the couple’s priorities throughout the house.

The kitchen and dining area are part of one large open-plan room. Ben Monaghan suggested fitting floating low-level cupboards in the dining area which extend the kitchen design and help to create a cohesive feeling for the room.

Rachel, who works part-time in admin, spotted the John Lewis Cosmic ceiling light, which hangs over the dining table, online but it was out of their price range and so she put it out of her mind.

However, the couple couldn’t find an alternative that they liked as much and bought the Cosmic light, which is now a focal point for the room: “We bit the bullet and I’m really glad we did.”

Ben and Rachel’s first choice for the flooring in the kitchen and dining area was to fit tiles. However, the underfloor heating had raised the level of the floor too high for tiles to work. The alternative wood-effect flooring, from Amtico, which was fitted in a herringbone design, was a practical and attractive solution. The flooring design also deliberately echoes the chevron patterned John Lewis wallpaper in the dining area.

An adjoining playroom for Leo and Jessie is decorated using adhesive stickers from Mamas and Papas and has an oak ceiling - something which Ben chose after spotting the idea in a magazine.

Rachel and Ben were concerned the sitting room, which is approximately seven metres square, wouldn’t have the cosy and welcoming atmosphere they wanted. A solution was to design a pelmet around the edge of the ceiling to lower its height.

“It’s such a big room we thought it might just help bring it in a little and make it feel a bit cosier,” says Rachel.

Rachel chose the orange and grey John Lewis curtains before they’d moved in and designed the room scheme around them. “I read you should find one thing you love in a room and work from it,” she says. “The whole room came from those curtains.”

They wanted to carpet the room to continue the cosy effect and Westmorland Flooring of Kendal was able to help them source a carpet which was large enough to avoid having a join.

The L-shaped sofa and swivel chairs were from Stollers in Barrow and a shelving unit and coffee table were from John Lewis.

Texture was introduced by covering one wall in slate tiles. The slate was bought from a national company - one of the few non-local suppliers the couple used - and was chosen because it has plenty of rust colouring to tie in with the room’s scheme.

The 65in television and Gazco electric fire are housed together in a bespoke box unit made by joiner Steven Coward.

The design for the master bedroom was originally planned around some copper paint but it turned out to be impractical to use because it showed every brush stroke. Instead, Ben built a headboard which they covered with metallic textured wallpaper.

A dark blue and pink colour scheme was chosen to complement the copper accessories.

The en-suite bathroom was supplied and fitted by Billington Design of Kendal, and the company also fitted the main family bathroom, the guest bedroom en-suite bathroom and the cloakroom toilet and sink.

Each is subtly different but they have common features such as wall-hung toilets. The family bathroom has a large resin bath which is big enough for Leo to swim in and which has a TV screen at one end - perfect for relaxing with a drink and catching up with a favourite programme.

Rachel says that apart from the guest room, the family uses every area of their home every day. They spend a lot of time in the kitchen and dining area and retreat to the sitting room after the children are in bed.

“It’s such a big house, the main thing was making sure we used all the space,” she says.

With only the outside landscaping and garden to complete, both are delighted with the end result. Ben adds: “I’m over the moon.”

* This interview first appeared in the latest edition of Cumbria Life, on sale now.

februar 20, 2017

When weddings go bad: Cumbria police respond to 999 calls

It is supposed to be the happiest day of your life...

Yet shocking figures released exclusively to the News & Star reveal that tying the knot can in some cases be fraught with unexpected risk ”“ and occasionally blighted by violence.

In the last five years, Cumbria police officers have had to respond to emergency 999 calls from 60 weddings.

Funerals have also triggered call-outs, with officers sent to sort out problems 15 times.

Covering 2012 to 2016, the figures were released following a Freedom of Information request.

Of the 999 emergency responses to weddings, nine were in north Cumbria, 22 in the west of the county and the rest in the south.

Forty-three of the crimes reported were assaults and 14 thefts.

Six of the call-outs were for criminal damage, five for public order offences, and three for sexual crimes.

One call was triggered by a guest allegedly having a weapon while another was said to have issued a death threat.

Among the other reported offences were burglary and harassment.

But a police spokesman stressed: “These figures are obviously relatively low considering the amount of such events held in the county over a five-year period.

“The figures make up a minute portion of the total number of such events, which traditionally can be attended by large numbers of people.”

In 2012, one wedding in Carlisle ended with horrific violence as the groom’s father was felled by a punch so powerful that he suffered a fractured skull.

The man was attending his son’s wedding reception at a Carlisle club when he was knocked unconscious.

The victim was left almost completely deaf in one ear.

The attacker ”“ said to have drunk an enormous amount ”“ was jailed for two-and-a-half years.

Wedding planner Annabel Candler, of Brougham Hall, Penrith, said she once heard a story about a best man who was arrested after the bridal party went out in town the night before a wedding.

She said the police let him go just 15 minutes before the wedding was due to start and his black eye was immortalised in the wedding photos.

But generally, Annabel thinks tensions run higher in the morning before the wedding itself.

She said: “I think when someone does become irritated or if people can tell something’s going to kick off, normally ”˜the pack’ riles up and says: ”˜No, this is not the time to do it.”

Wedding photographer Chris Freer, based in Cockermouth, thought the number wasn’t bad considering weddings are an emotionally charged occasion.

Photographer Helen Whitaker, of Scotby, said she had been at a wedding with bouncers, but added: “I don’t think I’ve ever had the police called.”


Vicars say the county's weddings are almost always peaceful and happy occasions, rarely marred by violence.

But the same is not always true of the receptions, when self-control can lapse as alcohol flows.

All the clergy contacted by the News & Star were surprised by the Cumbria police figures.

But there were admissions feelings could run high.

Gill Hart

The Reverend Canon Gill Hart , of St Bega's Church in Eskdale, said: "I suppose these are times of heightened emotions.

"By and large, I'm out of the way before the alcohol starts flowing."

The Reverend Jim Hyslop, of St John the Baptist Church in Upperby, Carlisle, has been ordained for 38 years.

He said: "I've known the police to be called to a funeral tea but usually that was because of drinking.

"There are occasions when there have been factions at weddings, but it has never been bad enough to justify getting the police involved."

The Reverend Canon Geoffrey Ravalde , who has been a vicar in Wigton for 26 years, has conducted more than 1,000 funerals and Christenings at Wigton St Mary in that time.

Never once had he seen the police involved.

He said: "The overwhelming majority of people in this area both love and respect their local church.

"They behave well when they're in them."

The Reverend Steven Donald is vicar at Carlisle St John The Evangelist, Botcherby.

He said: "Weddings are usually peaceful and happy occasions.

"At the last wedding I took, a man in the choir and the visiting organist were very moved by what I'd said.

"The verger gave me a hug. And at Burgh-by-Sands a couple of years ago, the bride asked me if she could give me a hug.

"So I must be doing something right!"

Few MPs backing move to oust Commons Speaker John Bercow

Mr Bercow's outspoken comments essentially banned Donald Trump from addressing MPs and peers in Westminster Hall

A bid to oust House of Commons Speaker John Bercow appears to be faltering after just four extra MPs signed a motion of no confidence in him.

Following Mr Bercow's controversial comments about US president Donald Trump and Brexit,  Tory former minister James Duddridge tabled the early day motion as MPs left for the February recess and claimed no Cabinet ministers were  likely  to support the Speaker in any vote.

Pressure on Mr Bercow mounted after his outspoken comments essentially banning Mr Trump from addressing MPs and peers in Westminster Hall during his forthcoming state visit.

Opposition to his position appeared to increase after a video emerged of him telling students that he voted Remain in the EU referendum.

But at the end of the first day back for MPs after recess there were only five backing the no-confidence motion - Tories Mr Duddridge, Alec Shelbrooke, Andrew Bridgen, Karl McCartney and  Daniel Kawczynski.

Mr Duddridge said he believed around 20 other MPs could sign on Tuesday.

But he added: "People said, I'm going to sign if its 50 people or 100 people, so there is safety in numbers, so we will wait and see."

Last week it emerged Mr Bercow has received more than 4,000 letters and emails about his decision on Mr Trump.

The vast majority of the communications (3,227) were supportive of Mr Bercow's attack on Mr Trump, while 854 opposed his position, figures released in response to a freedom of information request revealed.

Arsene Wenger 'astonished' by Sutton's performance as Arsenal progress in FA Cup

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger saw his side pass their tricky FA Cup test

Arsene Wenger admits the performance of non-league Sutton was "astonishing" as they offered a stern test to his Arsenal side before falling to FA Cup defeat.

The Gunners travelled to the humble surroundings of Gander Green Lane for the fifth-round meeting as Wenger named a strong starting line-up with goals from Lucas Perez and Theo Walcott sealing a 2-0 win.

Wenger's side will now face another Vanarama National League outfit in Lincoln for a spot in the semi-final after this examination of character following last week's Champions League capitulation at Bayern Munich.

That result led to increased speculation that Wenger would leave the club when his contract expires in the summer, and the Frenchman has said he will make a decision in the next two weeks.

But he will not be considering a job in the National League after seeing the challenge offered by Sutton.

Asked if was a case of job done, he replied: "Yes, against a side that was astonishing.

"They are basically in division five and they are 17th out of 24. I will never go down there (to manage) because it is too difficult.

"I come from a club that is smaller than that so it reminds me of my childhood. The changing rooms for me were fantastic ”“ the closer you are, the more united you are when you go out there."

Wenger also admitted he was caught out by Sutton's display and believes that justified naming such a strong side, with the likes of Shkodran Mustafi, Granit Xhaka and Lucas Perez also starting and Alexis Sanchez coming off the bench.

"(I was surprised) by the speed of their game," he said.

"The fact they never stopped going until the end and compared to 20 years ago these teams are fit now and can play at the pace of the Premier League, maybe before they collapsed in the last 20 minutes, that is finished.

"We had to keep our focus, I must give credit to the players who were professional and kept their focus, if we had come here in a relaxed mood we would have gone out tonight because they produced quality.

"We could not afford a light team selection tonight and that is why I came with basically all the players who were available because we couldn't afford to go out tonight, we can never afford it."

Sutton boss Paul Doswell echoed his counterpart's sentiments and declared his happiness with the hosts' display.

"Five letters - proud," he said.

"I'm very, very proud of them. We asked them to give everything they had and they gave us that.

"When you see Adam May before half-time and Jamie Collins' header from six yards, Roarie smacks the bar - you do need one of those to go in.

"I'd love to have got a goal for the supporters. One of my little goals was to do better than Southampton and we have done that.

"They lost 5-0 to them and we lost 2-0 so in my mind that's a moral victory."

Ministers dismiss business rates 'underestimation' reports

Chancellor Philip Hammond will not commit to taking action over business rates in next month's Budget

The Government has dismissed as "nonsense" reports that Cabinet ministers underestimated business rate rises by 5-7% in a letter sent to Tory MPs.

In the private email, Communities Secretary Sajid Javid and Treasury Chief Secretary David Gauke said there had been "a relentless campaign of distortions and half-truths" about a  business rate revaluation which will leave more than a quarter of companies facing higher bills.

They insisted that most firms will not see any rise in their bills and attached a list revealing  many of the areas facing rate rises are in Tory heartlands, with the Home Counties facing some of the biggest increases.

Rates in Theresa May's Maidenhead constituency will reportedly rise by an average 10%, while Mr Hammond's own Runnymede seat in Surrey will see increases of about 13%.

But according to reports, the figures have been underestimated because they do not take into account inflation or "appeals adjustments", which the Government adds to its calculations to ensure total revenues do not decline as a result of appeals by firms against rating decisions.

A Department for Communities and Local Government spokesman said:  "This latest claim from (rating agent) Gerald Eve is nonsense - we have been clear how our figures are calculated and what they include.

"Councils and businesses can see how the revaluation is making bills fairer and is revenue neutral.

"This is yet more scaremongering, when in reality the revaluation will mean businesses in 80% of council areas will see an average fall in their business rates bills due to revaluation before inflation."

It came as Chancellor Philip Hammond assured Conservative MPs that he is listening to their concerns about the revaluation.

But he stopped short of committing himself to action in next month's spring Budget to soften the blow on affected firms.

Treasury sources indicated that the Chancellor was looking at a longer-term solution to level the playing field between the traditional high street shops and pubs hard-hit by the revaluation and the internet giants whose out-of-town warehouses benefit from low rates.

At an 80-minute meeting of the Tory backbench 1922 Committee in Westminster,  a series of MPs confronted Mr Hammond  with examples of businesses in their constituencies facing steep rises due to the first revaluation of business rates since 2008.

With bills for the coming year due to go  out over a five-week period starting on Friday, there is little time left for concessions from the Chancellor.

A Treasury source said the Chancellor was "open to listening to the issues of the hardest-hit, but he didn't make any commitments either way".

Mr Hammond raised the point that the development of the digital economy, which has seen a growing amount of commerce shift online, has created "challenges" for a form of taxation based on property rental values, said one source.

However, the Chancellor made clear that a solution to this issue would not be found overnight, raising the possibility that a more fundamental overhaul for the business rate system may be in the pipeline further in the future.

The Government insists that almost three-quarters (73%) of businesses will see their rates reduced or stay the same after revaluation, with some 600,000 firms paying no business rates at all.

Mr Hammond stressed that the revaluation, which was set in motion under the previous administration of David Cameron, was the subject of a consultation exercise in which business organisations were involved.

Conservative MP Grant Shapps told Channel 4 News that he told the Chancellor he was "very concerned" about the revaluation, stressing he wanted a "fundamental review" of the entire system.

Senior Labour MP Angela Eagle told the programme: "At the last election, Labour said that we would not reduce corporation tax and would use that money to freeze and then reduce business rates, particularly at the small business end. That's what we would have done.  

"I think there's a wider issue with the sustainability of business rates in areas such as internet businesses which don't pay rates.

"It impacts on the High Street, which does pay rates. The whole base of how we do this now needs looking at again."

Theresa May steps up Brexit Bill pressure on peers

Prime Minister Theresa May sits behind the Speaker, back row, as Baroness Smith of Basildon speaks in the House of Lords

Theresa May ramped up pressure on peers over Brexit by attending the opening of a crucial debate in the chamber of the House of Lords.

In a highly unusual move, the Prime Minister sat on the steps in front of the Royal Throne as Lords leader Baroness Evans of Bowes Park urged peers not to frustrate the passage of a Bill which will give Mrs May authority to launch EU withdrawal negotiations under Article 50.

Her presence, in a position she is entitled to occupy as a member of the Privy Council, was seen as a visual warning to peers  not to seek to block or delay the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal Bill)  in the Upper House, where the Government does not enjoy an in-built majority.

Speaking during a by-election campaign visit to Stoke ahead of the debate, the Prime Minister said peers should "pay attention" to the fact that the Bill was passed unamended by a large majority of MPs in the House of Commons.

And she added: "Properly there will be debate and scrutiny in the House of Lords, but I don't want to see anybody holding up what the British people want, what the people of Stoke-on-Trent voted for last year, which is for us to deliver Brexit, to leave the European Union."

Around 190 peers are expected to speak during the two days set aside for the Bill's second reading, the first opportunity for the upper chamber to debate the legislation.

No votes are expected during second reading, but the Government is braced for a battle over EU citizens' rights and a meaningful parliamentary say on the final Brexit deal when the Bill returns for its committee stage next week.

Opening the debate, Lady Evans said she was "confident" that peers would take a "constructive approach".

"This Bill is not the place to try and shape the terms of our exit, restrict the Government's hand before it enters into complex negotiations or attempt to re-run the referendum," she said.

Labour's leader in the Lords, Baroness Smith of Basildon, confirmed her party will seek to amend the Bill  but stressed that MPs will "as always, and quite rightly, have the final say".

"We will not block, wreck or sabotage the legislation before us. Whatever our personal views, disappointments and genuine concerns for the future, that is not the role of this House," said Lady Smith.

"But, I've also said, neither should we provide the Government with a blank cheque."

Liberal Democrat leader in the Lords Lord Newby said the Government's approach was "little short of disastrous" as he called for a second referendum on the final deal.

"We now have a country more deeply divided on Brexit than ever," he said.

"The anger of those who wanted to leave is now matched by the growing anger of those who wish to remain ”“ particularly young people.

"If, at the end of this process, we are to come together as a country, we need to dissipate this anger. We believe that giving the people the final say will help to do so."

Former EU commissioner Lord Mandelson insisted he voted as "a patriot" for Britain to remain in the 28-nation bloc.

The Labour peer, who served as business secretary, said claims the UK would enjoy the same trade benefits after breaking with Brussels amounted to "a fraud on the public".

But former Tory leader Lord Hague condemned Tony Blair's call for pro-Europeans to form a new cross-party movement to reverse the outcome of last year's referendum as a "great mistake".

He warned that any attempt to "rise up" against the result would lead to the most "bitter, potentially endless conflict" seen in British society for decades.

Meanwhile, Brexit Secretary David Davis said the UK will continue to be a "good European citizen" after leaving the EU, following talks with Estonia's chief Brexit negotiator Matti Maasikas in Tallinn.

Speaking at the start of a two-day trip which will also take in Latvia and Lithuania, Mr Davis said that on justice and home affairs issues, Britain would "try and get as close as we can to where we are today".

Meanwhile, the Guardian claimed that quitting the EU with no free trade deal and falling back on World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules could saddle British exporters with £6 billion in extra tariff costs.

The newspaper said its analysis of trade figures compiled by the United Nations and World Bank suggested that the 204 billion dollars worth of British goods bound for Europe each year would be hit with 7.6 billion dollars in new tariffs under current WTO rules, equivalent to £6.1 billion.

Commenting on the figures on behalf of the Open Britain campaign group, Labour MP Owen Smith said: "The Government is threatening to leave with no deal with the EU, which threatens only UK manufacturing and industry. These are real jobs and workplaces and this would cause real damage.

"The Government need to start being honest with people about the consequences of their reckless 'Brexit at any cost' policy.

"This underlines why it is so essential to have a democratic check and balance at the end of negotiations, with a meaningful vote in Parliament.

"If we give the Government a blank cheque, it will be working people who pay the price."

TV Muslims 'want to reach out to children facing prejudice'

An imam advised the youngsters not to take part in the documentary

The stars of a series documenting the everyday lives of young Muslims in Britain have said they want to reach out to children facing prejudice.

Described by the Channel 4 show’s creators as "pioneers", Waseem Iqbal and Naveed Ahmed aimed to portray a real and positive picture of Islam to counteract the media’s attention to extremism.

At a screening of Extremely British Muslims on Monday, Ahmed, 26, told the Press Association: “We can remember life before 9/11 but children can’t and they are growing up in a world where they are being told by other people what they are and what their religion is about.

“It’s like if you go into work and everybody tells you that you look unwell - you start to believe it.”

The three-part programme follows the Muslim community in Birmingham, focusing on key issues for its members, including unemployment and dating.

Iqbal, who works for the Human Relief Foundation charity, that delivers aid first-hand to refugees and people living in war torn Syria and Iraq, says on the programme: “There’s no extremism here, we are a nice community - the most extreme thing here is the size of the rats.

“Extremists are just a gang, the biggest baddest gang in the world...they want to feel part of something.

“Our response is the same as every other member of the British public - we feel unsafe like everybody else.”

But the pair explained how they faced a huge backlash from members of their own families for taking part in the programme.

“I had an imam from another mosque telling me not to do it, warning me that our words would be twisted and my dad told me to my face that I shouldn’t do it,” Iqbal said.

“But I thought, is that what Muslims are supposed to do, just keep quiet? Then the only people who get a platform are the crazy geezers with guns.”

Filmed over a year, the documentary covers the Paris terror attack in 2015 and David Cameron’s launch of the Prevent scheme to tackle the possibility of radicalisation in schools.

Commenting on the current Government, Ahmed said: “There needs to be policies created and backed by Muslims if we are going to combat terrorism.”

But the programmes also bring humour, capturing moments such as Ahmed and his friends paintballing and recording video blogs about pizza.

“I’m British and I’m Muslim and that’s a beautiful thing,” Iqbal said. “I want the children to see this and people from other areas to see this and the man who sat next to me on a flight to America who asked to be moved to see this.”

The first episode of the series sees young Muslim friends Sabrina and Bella struggle through the challenge of finding boyfriends.

They said: “We want young girls to have a voice and show the world they are not oppressed and they can be modern British women with expectations and still love their family and religion.”

Producer Fozia Khan added: “I just want my kids to watch something that will make them feel good about themselves.”

::Extremely British Muslims begins with episode one, All The Single Muslims, on March 2 on Channel 4.


David Baddiel praised for The Trouble With Dad dementia documentary

Baddiel has called for the "epidemic" of dementia as a killer of older people to be given more public attention

David Baddiel has said he was "very, very touched" by the positive response to his documentary about dementia.

The comedian's programme about his father, The Trouble With Dad, aired on Channel 4 this evening and messages praising the "sensitive" and "brave" way it handled the subject soon flooded Twitter.

Baddiel, 52, tweeted his thanks to a viewer after the show aired, and added: "And to hundreds of others sending tweets like this.

"I am very, very touched by all you've said about our film. X."

Baddiel's father Colin, 82, suffers from Pick's disease - a rare type of dementia that can see sufferers become sexually uninhibited and prone to swearing and rude behaviour.

The film focused on the relationship between Baddiel and his brother Ivor and Colin, who is housebound and receives 24-hour care.

One viewer wrote on Twitter: "Wow hugely brave and touching and amazing insight. Thank you."

Another tweeted: "Awesome documentary. Informative and educating, an amazing man with incredible sons. You make these things easier to talk about."

Prior the show airing, Baddiel had told his 480,000 followers on Twitter that it was not a standard documentary about dementia.

"It's not bleak. Not tragic. And my dad, imho, is fucking hilarious," he said.

Many viewers said the emotional programme both made them smile and moved them to tears.

"Such a poignant and moving documentary. I have tears in my eyes but a smile on my face too," said one.

"Trouble with Dad was an amazing, heartfelt representation of dementia. I cried both happy and sad tears," tweeted another.

Government proposals could allow firms to cut final salary pension payments

A Government green paper set out a series of proposals to ease the pressure, including allowing struggling businesses to 'cut or renegotiate' pensioners' benefits

Financially "stressed" businesses could be allowed to cut final salary pension payments to employees to save them from collapse, under Government proposals.

Ministers have concluded that while there is no overall problem with the affordability of defined benefit (DB) schemes, maintaining contributions could prove "unsustainable" for some firms.

A Government green paper set out a series of proposals to ease the pressure, including allowing struggling businesses to "cut or renegotiate" pensioners' benefits.

One option could be to allow firms to suspend annual index-linked rises or peg them to the consumer prices index (CPI) measure of inflation rather than to the usually higher retail price index (RPI), which most schemes are tied to.

The paper said: "While we do not believe a case has been made for across-the-board reductions in benefits paid by DB schemes, there may be a case for changing the arrangements for stressed schemes and sponsors, which will help to preserve value and jobs in the economy, while also delivering a good deal for members.

"The Government does not think the evidence is strong enough to suggest that indexation should be abandoned or reduced across the board. There could however be a case to suspend indexation in cases where the employer is stressed and the scheme is underfunded.

"And there may be a case to rationalise indexation arrangements, as the current arrangement where some schemes are prevented from moving to CPI by scheme rules is something of a lottery."

The paper suggested making it easier for struggling business to separate from their pension schemes through the taxpayer-backed Pension Protection Fund.

It stressed that any changes would have to be carefully drawn in to avoid creating incentives for employers to "manipulate" their financial position to reduce pension liabilities.

"Wherever such lines are drawn there will be significant issues which would need to be resolved - for instance there is the possibility of moral hazard, where sponsors could seek to reduce their DB liabilities and take advantage of safety valves, by manipulating circumstances to ensure they meet the criteria."

The proposals were condemned by the GMB trade union which accused the Conservatives of allowing "business cronies" to take funds from ordinary working people.

GMB national officer Keir Greenaway said:  "Allowing schemes to break promises on pensions and raid workers' retirement savings to cover for mistakes in the boardroom will not be music to the ears of employees. However it will no doubt go down very well with the big business bosses who bankroll the Conservatives."

The paper found that while almost all DB schemes ”“ covering 11 million members with funds of £1.5 trillion ”“ have a funding deficit, the shortfalls were likely to shrink as long as employers kept paying in at expected levels.

"The available evidence does not appear to support the view that these pensions are generally 'unaffordable' for employers," it said.

It also suggested tougher powers for the Pensions Regulator, including the ability to impose "significant" fines on employers to "deter poor behaviours".

"However, we also believe that if the regulator is given new powers in this area, they must be proportionate and workable, and not be detrimental to the effective functioning of the economy," it said.

The proposal was welcomed by Frank Field, chairman of the Commons Work and Pensions Committee, who said the Government's plans would be judged on whether they prevented another BHS scandal, after it collapsed with a £570 million black hole in its pension fund.

He said: "The point of a charge big enough to act as a deterrent is that it would never need to be used: the prospect of a significant penalty would concentrate minds on achieving a timely resolution of scheme funding difficulties before they become critical."

Arsene Wenger's Arsenal end non-league Sutton's FA Cup run

Arsenal eased past a spirited Sutton side at a packed Gander Green Lane on Monday night to advance to sixth round of the FA Cup.

Having been thrashed at Bayern Munich in the Champions League last week, the humble setting for this 2-0 win was in stark contrast.

With pressure mounting on Arsene Wenger, the Gunners boss needed to avoid the largest of banana skins against their non-league hosts, and goals from Lucas Perez and Theo Walcott assured an easier night for the Frenchman.

Another fifth-tier opponent now awaits in the last eight as Lincoln visit the Emirates Stadium.

The recalled Walcott was wearing the captain's armband as he led a strong side named by Wenger.

Big-money summer recruits Shkodran Mustafi, Granit Xhaka and Perez were all included while Alexis Sanchez came off the bench.

Sutton had upset Leeds here in round four and their artificial pitch was heavily watered before kick-off.

The strange surface could have played some part in Arsenal's slow start to the tie, with the Vanarama National League side matching them early on.

Ex-Arsenal youngster Craig Eastmond wanted a penalty after skipping past Nacho Monreal with ease, but referee Michael Oliver was unmoved.

The 12-time winners were ahead soon after as Xhaka's raking pass found Perez on the flank.  The 28-year-old cut inside to arrow a low drive past the despairing dive of Ross Worner in the Sutton goal.

Walcott whistled a long-range strike over the bar with Alex Iwobi having a shot turned behind by Worner as Arsenal countered at speed.

Sutton were presented with a great chance to level on the stroke of half-time but Adam May shot wide having been gifted possession by Arsenal goalkeeper David Ospina.

Bedsente Gomis had an opportunity to test the Colombian early in the second half but wanted too much space and eventually his shot was charged down.

And shortly afterwards Walcott hit the killer second goal, finishing at the far post for his 100th Arsenal goal after Monreal and Iwobi combined down the left.

Sutton's moment to remember almost came with a little over half an hour to go as another former Gunner, Roarie Deacon, rattled the crossbar with a dipping effort from 25 yards.

Wenger clearly felt the tie was not  completely sewn up as he turned to Sanchez with 20 minutes remaining, but the Chilean was not required to produce any heroics with  Sutton's challenge dwindling as fatigue set in.

It was not a convincing performance from the visitors, who sit 105 positions above their hosts in the football pyramid, but  for Wenger this was respite after a fortnight which saw his hopes of winning the Premier League or the Champions League all but ended.

And, with Lincoln in the next round, a record 13th FA Cup win remains a possibility for Arsenal and their beleaguered boss.

Man charged with terror offences

Kamran Sabir Hussain will appear at Westminster Magistrates' Court

A man has been charged with a string of terrorism offences, including encouraging support for Islamic State.  

Kamran Sabir Hussain, 39, from Knightsbridge Way, Tunstall, in the city of Stoke on Trent, is accused in connection with his work at a mosque, West Midlands Police said.  

He is due to appear at  Westminster Magistrates' Court on Tuesday.  

Hussain is charged with two counts of addressing a meeting at the mosque in Tunstall, with the alleged purpose being to "encourage support for a proscribed organisation, namely Islamic State, or to further its activities".

The other six counts accuse him of publishing a statement - a sermon to a congregation - in which he "intended or was reckless as to whether members of the public would be, directly or indirectly encouraged or otherwise induced by the statement to commit, prepare or instigate acts of terrorism".

The charges relate to a period of time from about June 24 2016 to about September 16 2016.  

Police said Hussain's arrest on February 14 was pre-planned and intelligence-led and there is no risk to the public's safety.

The force said anyone with any information or concerns regarding this investigation should contact West Midlands Police on 101 or the Anti-Terror Hotline on 0800 789 321.  










Labour leadership challenge 'behind poor poll ratings'

Jeremy Corbyn was returned as Labour leader for the second time in two years last September

Labour's yawning gap with the Tories in opinion polls is down to last summer's challenge to Jeremy Corbyn's leadership and Theresa May's elevation to Prime Minister, a party source has said.

After Mr Corbyn told colleagues that Thursday's crucial by-elections in Stoke-on-Trent Central and Copeland are on a "knife edge", the source said Labour's poor showing in a succession of polls is  "clearly as a result of the internal dissension in the party and the leadership contest".

It comes after an ICM poll for the Guardian showed Mrs May's Conservatives extending their lead over Labour to 18 points, with the Tories on 44% to Labour's 26%.

Mr Corbyn was returned as  Labour  leader for the second time in two years in September after seeing off a leadership challenge  and a string of shadow cabinet resignations after the EU referendum.

After he addressed the weekly meeting of the parliamentary Labour Party (PLP), the source said: "There's obviously concern in the Labour Party at the opinion polls and has been for several months.

"And that's been the case since the leadership challenge last summer, when if you remember, Labour was in the last round of local elections last May, Labour was ahead of the Tories by one point in the actual outcome of the elections.

"And after the leadership challenge and the dissension in the Labour Party, that fell back.

"Obviously since the change of Tory leadership, the Tories have been in a stronger position.

"I think we're confident that won't continue, that Labour's position will improve in the polls and the Tories will fall back.

"I think we're now in a period which won't last, that kind of gap won't last."

Mr Corbyn briefed Labour parliamentarians on plans to expose growing inequality and the "unprecedented" health and social care funding crisis when Chancellor Philip Hammond delivers his Budget next month.

The Labour leader also sought to rally the troops ahead of the by-elections in Stoke, where the party is attempting to see off the threat of Ukip leader Paul Nuttall, and Copeland, where the Tories are looking to win.

"His message was that the by-elections are on a knife edge and that we need to fight for every vote and people need to support Labour's campaign in Stoke and Copeland," the source said.

The source said the Tories' lead in the polls will fall back when  Brexit negotiations begin and they are "confronted by the reality" of the rest of the European Union briefing against the Government,  which  will "exacerbate" internal Tory splits over Brexit.

Meanwhile, a "formal reprimand" letter sent by Labour chief whip Nick Brown to rebellious MPs is intended to be a "last warning" to frontbenchers who defied Mr Corbyn's orders and voted against the Brexit Bill to trigger Article 50, including three junior whips, the source said.


Trump's state visit will go ahead despite angry backlash

A rally in Westminster protesting against Donald Trump on the day that the state visit by the US president is debated in Parliament.

Donald Trump's state visit to Britain will go ahead despite a 1.8 million-strong petition, more noisy protests attended by thousands, and MPs' warnings against it, the Government has said.

As thousands of protesters gathered in Parliament Square, MPs in Westminster Hall called on ministers to heed the "Greek chorus of disapproval" and avoid "fawning subservience" to the United States president.

In the time-limited debate, about a dozen backbench MPs spoke in favour of the petition to downgrade Mr Trump's visit but Foreign Office Minister Sir Alan Duncan insisted the visit "should happen, the visit will happen".

He called on the UK to "extend a polite and generous welcome" to Mr Trump during his state visit, where he will be hosted by the Queen and afforded the pomp and ceremony attached.

Sir Alan said the "rare and prestigious" occasions are Britain's "most important diplomatic tool", adding: "They enable us to strengthen and influence those international relationships that are of the greatest strategic importance to this country, and even more widely, to other parts of the world as well."

But  his calls for a cordial state visit are unlikely to be observed by those attending the rally outside Parliament, organised by the Stop Trump Coalition and campaign group One Day Without Us.

Scores of supporters carried signs and placards reading "Special Relationship: Just say no", and "No to racism; no to Trump", and chanted "No Trump, no Brexit; no racist EU exit".

Veteran Labour MP Paul Flynn, leading the debate in Parliament, called on ministers to listen to the  demonstrators  and downgrade  the  visit.

He likened the president's behaviour to a "petulant child" and urged ministers to avoid making the mistakes of the past when "very unsavoury characters" were invited on state visits.

SNP former Scottish first minister Alex Salmond also hit out at the visit.

He said: "As an example of fawning subservience... the Prime Minister's holding hands across the ocean visit would be difficult to match.

"To do it in the name of shared values was stomach churning.

"What exactly are the shared values that this House, this country, would hope to have with President Trump?"

But several Conservative MPs warned that Britain and the Queen would be made to look foolish if the invite was suddenly rescinded.

Conservative James Cartlidge said there would be "smiles all round in the Kremlin" if the UK withdrew its offer of a state visit to Mr Trump.

While fellow Conservative Sir Simon Burns said it is a "no brainer" the invite should be kept as a post-Brexit Britain will need to keep America close.

MPs also joined the protest, with shadow home secretary Diane Abbott warning  there was a "dark shadow of racism and anti-immigrant sentiment" in the modern era, which was reflected in the Trump administration.

She said: "He (Mr Trump) was supported in his presidential campaign by white supremacists."

Green Party co-leader  Caroline Lucas MP, who came out of the debate to address the crowd, said Mr Trump was a "bully and a bigot" whose first 100 days in power had made it clear "what kind of future he is building".


Naomi Campbell and Penelope Cruz dazzle at Burberry show

Naomi Campbell attending the Burberry London Fashion Week Show at Makers House

Naomi Campbell and Penelope Cruz were among the stars who stepped out in London for the Burberry catwalk show, one of the biggest nights in the fashion calendar.

Clad in a dainty white dress and black coat, British supermodel Campbell cut a stylish figure in the front row at what is always the highlight of London Fashion Week.

Hollywood actress Cruz was dressed in basic black, teaming a classic tuxedo suit with sleek heels.

Jourdan Dunn, Suki Waterhouse and Laura Bailey were among the models at Makers House to see Burberry creative director Christopher Bailey's designs.

And the fashion elite rubbed shoulders with stars of the screen including The Night Manager's Elizabeth Debicki, former Skins star Kaya Scodelario and The Halcyon's Hermione Corfield.

American Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour also attended, showing up in a print dress and a pair of her trademark shades to check out the British design house's autumn/winter looks.

The Burberry event caps four days of shows highlighting London's status as a fashion hub to rival Paris, Milan and New York.

Wedding day cliffhanger for Emmerdale's Robert and Aaron

Danny Miller said he was delighted Emmerdale has taken on the storyline

Emmerdale viewers were left wondering whether Robert Sugden and Aaron Dingle would get to exchange vows after their surprise marriage was disrupted by a dramatic murder accusation.

The pair were about to tie the knot in tonight's instalment of the ITV soap, when police stormed into the venue alongside a mystery woman.

As the shocked guests looked on, the woman pointed at Faith Dingle (Sally Dexter) and shouted: "That's Faith Dingle. That's the Black Widow who murdered my dad."

Earlier in the episode, Robert (Ryan Hawley) had surprised Aaron (Danny Miller) by proposing, shortly before Aaron was due to face court for assault.

The hastily planned ceremony was under way at The Woolpack, which was festooned with flowers and Christmas decorations, when the woman burst in.

Viewers took to social media to express their dismay that the eagerly awaited nuptials had been interrupted.

One tweeted: "Are u winding me up - here's me proper getting into this wedding then the police turn up then it ends. I am fuming."

One fan posted: "Nothing ever goes smoothly in the Dales & I hope doesn't spoil #Robron 's wedding day."

Another asked: "Why couldn't we have, just for once, a happy wedding?"

Emmerdale fans will now have to wait until the next episode to see if Aaron and Robert's marriage goes ahead.

:: Emmerdale continues on Tuesday at 7pm on ITV.

Mako Vunipola in line for England return for Six Nations clash with Italy

Mako Vunipola is set to feature for England against Italy on Sunday

Saracens prop Mako Vunipola is set to make his first appearance of this year's RBS 6 Nations when England face Italy on Sunday.

Vunipola has been named in England head coach Eddie Jones' 28-man squad after missing two months with knee ligament damage.

Jones watched Vunipola play 70 minutes for Sarries against Gloucester in the Aviva Premiership on Friday and the forward is now likely to face the Azzurri at Twickenham, either from the start or off the bench.

There was also positive news regarding Mako's younger brother Billy, who has not played since suffering a knee injury playing for England in November.

Billy Vunipola will join up with England on Tuesday for a medical review but he is not expected to play any part this weekend.

England are hot favourites to beat Italy and extend their winning streak to 17 matches.

Jones' men sit top of the Six Nations table after victories over France and Wales, while Italy have lost both of their opening games to Wales and Ireland.

England's  28-man training squad ahead of Sunday's Six Nations game against Italy at Twickenham:

Forwards: Jack Clifford (Harlequins), Dan Cole (Leicester), Charlie Ewels (Bath), Jamie George (Saracens), Teimana Harrison (Northampton), Dylan Hartley (Northampton), James Haskell (Wasps), Nathan Hughes (Wasps), Maro Itoje (Saracens), Joe Launchbury (Wasps), Courtney Lawes (Northampton), Joe Marler (Harlequins), Kyle Sinckler (Harlequins), Mako Vunipola (Saracens), Mike Williams (Leicester), Tom Wood (Northampton).

Backs: Mike Brown (Harlequins), Danny Care (Harlequins), Elliot Daly (Wasps), Owen Farrell (Saracens), George Ford (Bath), Jonathan Joseph (Bath), Jonny May (Gloucester), Jack Nowell (Exeter), Henry Slade (Exeter), Ben Te'o (Worcester), Anthony Watson (Bath), Ben Youngs (Leicester).

Nile Rodgers reveals 'heart-breaking' George Michael collaboration

Nile Rodgers has been behind dozens of hits across the decades

Music producer Nile Rodgers has told of the "heart-breaking" moment he learned George Michael had died via a news alert on his phone, while he was waiting for a text message from the singer.

Chic star Rodgers had been at Michael's house just two days before the singer was found dead, and the two musicians had arranged to speak on the phone on Christmas Day due to their respective busy schedules.

He had remixed a song of Michael's and was keen for him to hear it before anybody else, and was trying to arrange a time for this to happen.

But instead of the planned message from Michael on December 25, Rodgers saw a news bulletin pop up on his device alerting him that Michael had been found dead at home at the age of 53.

When asked who he would like to collaborate with, Rodgers told the Press Association from the BBC Worldwide Showcase:  "That's a tricky question because I always go to the people that I almost work with and it didn't work out because they passed away and that emotion is so strong.

"I was just working with George Michael. I was here on December 23, and I had come over to remix one of his songs, and while I was here working on the remix I was also doing a Chic concert that night.

"But then George Michael was doing a film, because he was planning a big comeback.

"So they had me come over to his house to shoot the film, and I still hadn't played the demo yet because I thought it was so cool and fairly drastic, I wanted to just play it for him first."

Rodgers, who is starring in a new three-part documentary on BBC Four in April looking back at his successful decades-long musical career, said he did not want the record company to listen to his remix before Michael himself.

He said: "So I get a message from (Michael), a text - 'So Nile lets talk tomorrow'."

He explained how he told Michael he would be flying that day, and how he asked the former Wham! star to message him on Christmas Day instead of Christmas Eve.

Rodgers added: "(On)  Christmas Day, instead of getting a text I get an alert : 'George Michael found dead.'

"It was heart-breaking and he never got a chance to hear what I did, so now I'm ambivalent about the work because I wanted him to hear it, not the record company necessarily.

"Not that I have anything against them, it's just he was such a genius and he created and produced his own work."

Rodgers,  who in recent years has had a slew of popular hits with artists such as Daft Punk and Pharrell Williams,  said that it "breaks his heart" that Michael died, particularly because he was the only person Michael wanted to work with.  

Son's music brought Benidorm star Tim Healy 'back to land of living'

Tim Healy's health problems meant rewrites for his character

Tim Healy has said his son's music brought him back to "the land of the living" when he fell into a coma after becoming ill while shooting Benidorm.

The actor, 65, was taken ill while filming the upcoming ninth series of the ITV show in Spain last year, and was in a coma for days with reports at the time saying he was fighting for his life.

Healy, whose oldest son Matthew fronts rock band The 1975, said his wife Joan was "in bits", adding: "She said that while I was in a coma she kept playing my son's music to me, she had his album on a loop.

"After a few days I started smiling and then I came round, so it was my son's music that brought me back to the land of the living."

The actor's cross-dressing character Les/Lesley was written out while he fought the mystery illness and Healy said he still has no idea how.

"I've been so poorly that I have been out of the loop," he said.

"I came off set that day and then went to hospital, that was it.

"I don't know how Derren (creator Derren Litten) wrote me out. I'm going to have to wait and see it like viewers."

"I feel very bad though, for causing him such a headache with all those re”writes," he added.

Healy is now on the mend after a tough few months, but said his illness has taken its toll physically.

"I lost about three stone, which is good but I wouldn't recommend losing it the way I did!" he said.

"I've put a stone back on, but where I was a pit bull terrier, I'm now a sparrow! I'm a lightweight now.

"I'm still very weak, the problem is that when you're in hospital for a length of time, just lying in a bed, then you lose your muscle."

He continued: "Mentally I'm absolutely fine, I feel sharp, but it's my body that's taking time to catch up. The doctors say it's going to take me at least a year to get myself back to full strength."

Healy, probably best known for playing Dennis in Auf Wiedersehen Pet, no longer smokes as a result of his illness, and said he has also gone off alcohol.

"I used to love my beers, but it doesn't matter what I try now, it tastes awful," he said.  

"So basically I'm saving a fortune because I don't smoke and I don't drink any more.  I don't miss it, to be honest with you, so some good has come out of all this."

:: The ninth series of Benidorm starts on ITV on Wednesday March 1 at 9pm.

Giggs enjoying life outside coaching as he eyes more challenging opportunities

Ryan Giggs has been without a club since leaving Manchester United in the summer

Manchester United great Ryan Giggs has no qualms about extending his coaching break beyond the summer unless the right challenge crops up.

After 29 seasons at Old Trafford as player and assistant manager, the 43-year-old moved onto pastures new in the summer with the hope of making his name in management.

Giggs was strongly linked with the Swansea job earlier in the season but has yet to return to coaching - not that there is much downtime given his business interests and media work.

United's most decorated player has also started work as a UEFA technical observer, with the experience of post-Old Trafford life giving the former winger balance and perspective when it comes to his next step.

"I am really open about it," Giggs told Press Association Sport when asked about the summer and beyond.

"If I was to have another year like the year I've just had, then so be it. I've enjoyed it.

"But also if jobs or opportunities arise that I think are interesting and I'll enjoy and are challenging, then definitely."

A full-time return to football certainly looks unlikely before the summer, joking his "diary is full until the end of the season".

Such focus on other interests does not mean Giggs' desire to coach has dissipated, just that the break has allowed him to enjoy things other than the cut and thrust of day-to-day football.

"When you've been in the game so long, you've left school and go straight into football, you're in that sort of bubble," Giggs explained.

"Then when you come out of it, you see a different side of it. I mean for me, for example, I am just so much more relaxed.

"I look at football in a slightly different way, I can be a little bit more sort of objective and not so biased towards United necessarily.

"I just try and give my thoughts, especially on TV, or through other stuff as well.

"I am a little bit more relaxed and obviously getting to spend time with the kids as well is great, watching my son play football every week, watching my daughter player lacrosse - stuff that I couldn't do for such a long time.

"I wanted to take a year out from the coaching but also I wanted to obviously keep busy and still do stuff and that is what I'm managing to do. It is just getting that balance, really."

Giggs, who was speaking at Fishguard Sports AFC as part of the 2017 McDonald's Community Awards launch, has certainly not been too far away from football.

A regular at Old Trafford this term, the 43-year-old's work as a TV pundit and part ownership of Salford City keeps him close to the game he loves, as does a new role with UEFA.

"I've just started a job with UEFA, working as a technical observer," Giggs said. "Last week I was at the Benfica-Dortmund game writing match reports out.

"Again, that is something different, keeping your eye in, it is also European football.

"You're getting to see European football, how other teams play and any trends that maybe are occurring.

"I am definitely keeping my eye in with the football, but also obviously there are my business interests as well."

:: Ryan Giggs volunteered for the day at grassroots football club Fishguard Sports AFC to help launch the 2017 McDonald's Community Awards. Nominate any deserving grassroots heroes at

Lincoln land 'win-win' FA Cup clash with Arsenal or Sutton

Danny Cowley, wearing blue, will be an interested observer on Monday night

Lincoln boss Danny Cowley has called his side's FA Cup quarter-final draw "a win-win" situation.

The National League leaders' reward for beating Premier League Burnley on Saturday is a trip to either 12-time winners Arsenal or fellow non-league side Sutton.

Lincoln became the first non-league team in 103 years to reach the last eight when they won 1-0 at Turf Moor and manager Cowley will be paying close attention to Monday's tie when Sutton look to emulate them.

"It's a win-win," Lincoln manager Danny Cowley said on BT Sport.

"We either play Sutton for the opportunity to be in the semi-final of the FA Cup or we have a fantastic tie away at Arsenal.

"We wish Sutton all the best tomorrow, I genuinely hope they can do it."

Elsewhere in the last eight, Jose Mourinho will return to Stamford Bridge as FA Cup holders Manchester United face Premier League leaders Chelsea, Middlesbrough will be at home to Huddersfield or Manchester City, and League One outfit Millwall go to Tottenham.

Mourinho, who saw his United team suffer a 4-0 defeat when they last faced Chelsea in October, believes the Blues have a head start when it comes to their cup tie.

"Probably Chelsea can only think about that (the FA Cup) because I think they are champions and they have nothing else to fight for," he said.

"The FA Cup is something I believe is important for them. I have to play St Etienne (on Wednesday), I have to play the (League Cup) final, I have to play hopefully another opponent in the Europa League. I have to fight for a top-four position in the Premier League.

"I have so many things to think about."

Tottenham's London derby against Millwall, who knocked out Premier League champions Leicester in the fifth round, will be the last FA Cup match at White Hart Lane before Spurs move out of their current ground at the end of the season.

They will be wary of Millwall, who have form for making the latter stages of the tournament, after losing to Manchester United in the 2004 final, before making a surprise run to the semi-finals in 2013.

Boro must await the winner of Manchester City and Huddersfield, who shared a goalless draw on Saturday and face a replay.  The quarter-final ties will be played over the long weekend of March 10-13.

Fewer than half of UK vehicles in emissions scandal fixed, says VW boss

Around 470,000 of the 1.2 million vehicles fitted with software to cheat environmental tests have been dealt with, according to VW

Fewer than half of the UK vehicles caught up in the  Volkswagen emissions scandal have been fixed, the company's boss has said.

Around 470,000 of the 1.2 million vehicles fitted with software to cheat environmental tests  have been dealt with, according to  Paul Willis.

He told MPs  some "small issues" that were "very problematic to fix" had caused delays but the rest should  be done by autumn.  

In the US, Volkswagen has agreed a 15 billion US dollar ( £12.3 billion)  settlement, but the company's UK boss  repeatedly said the company in Europe did nothing wrong and "misled nobody".

During a combative session of the Transport select committee, he insisted there was "no legal basis" for compensation claims because there was "no degradation" to the vehicles.

"At no time were any vehicles sold to anyone in Europe based on nitrogen oxide levels," he said.

In a fractious hearing, MPs attacked VW's UK boss for failing to give answers to straight answers.

"You come before us and your mouth opens and words cascade out and then the next time you come before us those words have changed in meaning,"  Mark Menzies said.

The Conservative MP attacked Mr Willis for repeatedly using phrases such as "to the best of my knowledge" and "I can't recall".

Mr  Willis said he had "prepared very diligently" for the session and had answered the questions as "open and  transparently" as he could.

Of the 1.2 million UK vehicles affected by the crisis, there were 508,276 Volkswagen cars, 393,450  Audis, 131,569 Skodas, 79,838 VW commercial vehicles and 76,773 Seats.

Around 20,000 cars a week are being fixed by the company, Mr  Willis  told MPs.

He added: "We are very pleased with that level of technical fix. Our customers are telling us that they are satisfied with the level of technical fix and we have been talking to the Department for Transport and informing them of this progress.

"So, in the main we are pleased. It's not perfect, of course, I wouldn't ever pretend to you that it's perfect.

"We are pleased to say that by autumn time that we should have achieved what we hope to achieve, which is all the vehicles we committed to applying the technical measure."

Transport minister John Hayes said the company's inability to recognise its failures was "little short of ridiculous".

He told MPs: "I think Volkswagen acted extremely badly. I think it is extraordinary in their evidence earlier they seemed to be uncertain about whether they had behaved badly or not yet when this scandal first broke their tone was a very different one."

Mr Hayes said he will be travelling to Germany in March to meet his counterpart for talks about the evidence that they have gathered.

Pressed on why the Government had not taken action against Volkswagen, he replied: "I've said throughout we haven't ruled out taking action."

Mr Hayes said the "righteous  indignation" felt by MPs was shared in the DfT.

"I will take any actions within my power to ensure right is done," he added.





UK Sport bosses blame Brexit for making funding decisions harder

Weightlifting is one of the sports that has had its funding cut

UK Sport bosses have blamed Brexit for making decisions about which Olympic and Paralympic sports to fund even harder.

Seven Olympic and Paralympic sports discovered on Monday that their attempts to overturn a UK Sport decision in December not to fund them for Tokyo 2020 had failed.

Olympic sports archery, badminton, fencing, table tennis and weightlifting, and Paralympic sports goalball and wheelchair rugby,  will now receive no support from the lottery-backed agency.

Speaking to reporters at its London headquarters, chairman Rod Carr and chief executive Liz Nicholl reiterated that UK Sport had a remit to fund sports that win medals and said this meant it had to prioritise those with the best prospects of success.

Carr said: "The reality is we have had less money in real terms in this (four-year) cycle compared to the last cycle,  so we are in a really tight financial situation.

"We have skinned the cat in terms of looking at our own costs - 88 per cent of the money coming in from a combination of lottery and exchequer funding goes out to the sports. That is a really high percentage.

"The reality is our money is going less far because we have got the cumulative effects of inflation, the costs of sending teams to qualify, which gets ever more rigorous."

When asked if the pound's depreciation since last year's European Union referendum had made life tougher, Carr said: "I don't want to  get into a Brexit conversation but exactly that.

"Air tickets, hotels and so on are more expensive. The cumulative bundle of those issues means that in real terms we have less money."

Compared to the four-year build-up to Rio, badminton is the biggest loser in cash terms, as it was given £5.7million last time.  This comes despite the sport hitting its medal target thanks to a bronze medal in the men's doubles.

In a statement, GB Badminton said: "We are staggered by this decision.  Given the strength of evidence we were able to present to justify investment, we cannot believe UK Sport has concluded that they should stand by their decision and award zero funding to our GB programme.

"We have players who are on track to win medals for the nation at Tokyo (2020) and our belief in those players remains as great as it's ever been.  We will now take some time to consider our next steps."

The seven sports were each given an hour to make a representation to the UK Sport board earlier this month.

The only success was enjoyed by  British Weightlifting, which persuaded UK Sport to give them the £1.3m it allocated to Paralympic powerlifting and not the English Institute of Sport, as was originally planned.

In total,  UK Sport has dished out £345m to 31 Olympic and Paralympic sports for their Tokyo preparations, £2m less than the record amount invested in the Rio cycle.

Table Tennis England and British Table Tennis issued a similar statement to their badminton counterpart and may also take its fight for funding to arbitration at Sport Resolutions UK, although the only grounds for appeal would be that UK Sport did not follow its own process correctly.

The arrival of lottery funding, channelled through UK Sport's "no compromise" approach, has revolutionised British sport over the last 20 years, taking Team GB from 36th in the medal table in Atlanta in 1996 to second in Rio.

But the success of both the Olympic and Paralympic teams has undoubtedly put UK Sport's budget under more strain, and there are also concerns about falling National Lottery revenues.  

With that in mind, Nicholl warned that things might get tougher, particularly as the Government's promise to underwrite shortfalls in lottery funding - to the tune of £25m over the next three years - cannot be relied upon forever.  

Nicholl said: "We've got a significant Government underwrite on this cycle which has shored up our ability to invest in medal success and to have the aspiration to win more medals and create more medallists.There is no guarantee of that in the future.

"One of the big challenges we will have over this four-year cycle is to look at whether there is an alternative funding source that we as a whole system can collectively create which will reduce our dependency on public funding.

"This is  something the government wants us to do and what we are asking the sports to do as well.

"We have had to draw a line here on where we can fund down to and we're disappointed that we can't fund every sport with medal potential and we don't want that line to be drawn any higher because of ongoing increases in costs and international competition expenditure.

"So we know that is a big responsibility. We have got to investigate every possibility and get the best brains available around a table because we can't keep going cap in hand to Government."

Ben Stokes and Tymal Mills astonished after bagging 'life-changing' IPL deals

Ben Stokes will be well paid for his IPL commitments

Ben Stokes has bagged a "mental" £1.7million deal to play for Rising Pune Supergiants at this year's Indian Premier League auction.

Stokes and Tymal Mills will become this country's highest ever IPL earners, after the all-rounder was sold at a record price for any overseas player in the 10-year history of the world's most lucrative cricket tournament and his England Twenty20 team-mate was signed by Royal Challengers Bangalore for £1.4million.

Mills, exclusively a Twenty20 specialist after having to opt out of longer formats because of his back problems, may earn more than Stokes this spring when he will be available for the IPL's full eight weeks.

Stokes, a match-winner in all formats, is expected to be recalled by the England and Wales Cricket Board before mid-May to prepare for this summer's Champions Trophy.

There has been no ECB confirmation yet, but the 25-year-old will be paid pro-rata at Pune.  

Stokes was touted as the hottest property at Monday's glitzy auction in Bangalore, and so it turned out.

He was up at 3.30am back in England, just as trading began - but it proved tough to work out from 5,000 miles away what was going on, especially because Stokes' knowledge of Indian currency multiples is sketchy.

"I set my alarm for 3.30, got up and waited about 40 minutes for my turn," he said.

"I was anxious not really knowing what would happen.

"It was hard to follow on Twitter. I wasn't sure how much a Crore was - people were retweeting stuff, and it was complete 'carnage'."

It all worked out beautifully in the end, though, for Stokes - who discovered just a week ago that he is to be England's new Test match vice-captain.

He added: "Seven times my base amount - that's mental ... but pretty cool to think about.

"I hope I'll live up to it, win a few games and deliver on what they've paid for me.

"It's a life-changing amount of money ...  I'm just seriously excited about getting going."

Stokes will be joined at the IPL by his England limited-overs captain Eoin Morgan, snapped up by Kings XI Punjab for £240,000, and their international team-mate Chris Woakes - who fetched around £500,000 with Kolkata Knight Riders.

Morgan will almost certainly need to be back in England for two one-day internationals against his native Ireland at Bristol and Lord's in early May.

Stokes, due to fly with Morgan et al to the Caribbean on Wednesday for three ODIs against West Indies, has been valued at only slightly less than the all-time record IPL fee of £1.9million paid by Delhi Daredevils for India all-rounder Yuvraj Singh two years ago.

Of England's other hopefuls, Sam Billings and Jos Buttler will be involved too - not via the auction but on existing deals with Delhi and Mumbai Indians respectively - while  Sussex left-armer Mills  is about to dwarf his previous earnings.

"I can't believe it," he said.

"I did not see this coming ... It has been a crazy day."

Mills, who has been in the United Arab Emirates this month at the Pakistan Super League, did not have to be up quite as early as Stokes.  

The 24-year-old  added: "I put the auction on TV.

"When my name came up I was nervous, giddy and jumpy.

"I was the lowest of the base prices, because I just wanted to get picked up by a team. I didn't want to wait until July for my next cricket, which would have been the NatWest T20 Blast.

"When it finished I did not know how much it was worth. When I worked it out I could not believe it - it did not seem real. It's an amount of money that can change your life. It will for me."

Elsewhere in the auction, Mills' England and Sussex team-mate Chris Jordan secured his base price of £60,000 to join Sunrisers Hyderabad - and big-hitting opener Jason Roy also reached his minimum value of £120,000 and will play for Gujarat Lions.

There was no bid, however, for Alex Hales - who is still recovering from a broken hand - or Jonny Bairstow.

Among other overseas purchases, pace bowlers were in highest demand - with New Zealand's Trent Boult (Kolkata), South Africa's Kagiso Rabada (Delhi) and Australia's Pat Cummins (Delhi) all sold for upwards of £500,000.

Kurt Cobain's daughter in 50th birthday tribute to Nirvana star

Cobain would have turned 50 on Monday

Kurt Cobain's daughter has paid tribute to the late Nirvana frontman on what would have been his 50th birthday.

The US musician was born on February 20 1967 and committed suicide in 1994 at the age of 27.

His daughter Frances Bean Cobain ”“ who was only 20 months old when her father died - posted a picture of a handwritten note on Instagram, in which she thanked him for giving her "the gift of life".

"Today would have been your 50th birthday," the 24-year-old wrote.

"You are loved and you are missed.

"Thank you for giving me the gift of life.

"Forever your daughter, Frances Bean Cobain."

Frances Bean, whose mother is Hole rocker Courtney Love, captioned the photograph: "February 20th 2017. Happy Birthday."

Victoria and David Beckham share pictures of son Cruz on his 12th birthday

Victoria and David Beckham have both shared unseen photographs of their son Cruz to mark his 12th birthday.

Spice Girl turned designer Victoria posted two images on Instagram to mark the budding pop star's big day.

One shows Cruz looking smart in a shirt and tie and another shows him as a baby, sitting on a staircase with his older brothers Brooklyn, 17, and Romeo, 14.

She wrote: "Happy birthday beautiful boy x We are all so proud and love u so much.

"Can't believe you are 12 years old today!!!! Lots of love and kisses x."

David shared a photograph of himself with Cruz on a beach with his 33 million Instagram followers.

He wrote: "Happy Birthday to the cheekiest member of our family... He may be the cheekiest but this little man has the biggest heart and sweetest nature and any dad would be proud to have that in his son.

"At 12 years old he brings a smile and joy into the house from the moment he opens his eyes till the moment he falls asleep which normally means 8:30pm (but we all know that means 9:30 right CRUZ.

"Anyway Happy birthday little man x love you."

Victoria and David are also parents to five-year-old daughter Harper.

Mark Clattenburg will continue to referee in Premier League until end of season

Mark Clattenburg will remain available to referee in the Premier League until the end of the season

Mark Clattenburg will continue to referee in the Premier League until the end of the season.

Clattenburg announced his decision last week to become head of referees in Saudi Arabia but the official will remain in English football for the rest of the current campaign.

The Premier League have appointed Clattenburg to take charge of Saturday's game between West Brom and Bournemouth at the Hawthorns.

And Press Association Sport understands he will be continue to be considered for fixtures until the summer.

However, it is also understood that commitments relating to his new role in Saudi Arabia, as well as the fact he will not be refereeing in England next season, could limit the number of matches Clattenburg is appointed to.

It had been expected that Clattenburg would leave the Premier League immediately following his decision to quit.

The 41-year-old is considered one of the top referees in English football after taking charge of the Euro 2016 final, Champions League final and FA Cup final last season.

Clattenburg will replace another former Premier League referee in Saudi Arabia. Howard Webb resigned from his position as head of refereeing there earlier this month, and will take up a role with Major League Soccer next month.

februar 20, 2017

Baby airlifted to Newcastle hospital with head injury

A baby was airlifted to hospital after a fall in Cumbria.

The 18-month-old boy suffered a head injury.

It happened in Appleby at 10.30am on Saturday.

The Great North Air Ambulance Service attended.

Its doctor-led trauma team assessed and treated the boy at the scene.

He was then flown to Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary within 18 minutes, arriving in a stable condition.

It was later confirmed that his injuries were minor.

Trump-owned Turnberry remains on Open rota

No sitting US President has ever been to the Open Championship

Nothing that Donald Trump has done since becoming President of the United States has changed the prospects of his Turnberry course hosting the Open Championship, according to the R&A.

Royal St George's was announced as the host of the 2020 Open on Monday, with the 150th edition the following year to be held at St Andrews, but Turnberry - owned by the Trump Organization - remains in contention to host golf's oldest major again after 2021.

Golf's most influential organisations had previously distanced themselves from President Trump in the wake of his views on Mexican immigrants, which were expressed when the 70-year-old announced his decision to stand for the Republican nomination in 2015.

The Grand Slam of Golf was moved from Trump National in Los Angeles, while the PGA Tour switched the  WGC-Cadillac Championship from Trump National Doral to Mexico City from this year. The event was renamed the WGC-Mexico Championship and will be staged next week.

However, Turnberry remains firmly on the Open rota, a rota set to be boosted to 10 courses if Muirfield votes to admit women members - at the second time of asking - next month.

R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers said: "I said last year we were focused on Turnberry as a golf course and there has been nothing that has happened in the last year to change that.

"Turnberry remains absolutely as one of our nine golf courses. 2020 and 2021 did not involve Turnberry and we'll not be thinking about 2022 for at least another year.

"I think it's very important that we're clear about what our business is, which is making sure that the Open Championship is one of the world's greatest sporting events, and staying out of politics.

"We are clearly now in uncharted territory. Sitting presidents have attended US Opens. We have not had a sitting President of the United States at an Open Championship.  

"We're all learning as we go through this. But I think it's important for us that we understand where the game is and make sure we keep to that, without ignoring all the other factors that go around it."

Slumbers said he believed President Trump had been  "good for golf" in terms of the renovation of a number of his courses and that he would accept an invite to play golf with him, as Rory McIlroy did at the weekend.

"With all senior people in the world, I think it's polite and respectful to listen to them and work with them," he added. "It's very important that we work with the President if Turnberry did come back on. That would just be foolhardy not to."

As for Muirfield, Slumbers intimated that the R&A would respond as swiftly to a positive vote on women members as it did when removing the East Lothian course from the Open rota after last May's ballot narrowly failed to achieve the two-thirds majority required.

"Muirfield is a wonderful golf course, it's a great Open venue," Slumbers added. "We're very pleased they are going through that process and we wait to see the outcome.

"We would reconsider and make an announcement very quickly if that vote comes through positively."

The venue for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo is also under scrutiny for its membership policies, with women members at Kasumigaseki Country Club not enjoying full playing privileges.

The International Golf Federation has threatened to find another course if the club does not change its rules and Slumbers added: "We are waiting to see how the clubs reacts and we will act accordingly."

Royal St George's, which voted in March 2015 to admit women members, will stage the Open for the 15th time and the first since Darren Clarke held off the challenge of  Phil Mickelson and new world number one Dustin Johnson.

"It was an unbelievable feeling to lift the Claret Jug and know that my name was displayed on the trophy alongside so many of the greatest players ever to play the game," Clarke said.

"The Open is what it is all about for me as a golfer and it is the championship I always dreamt of winning from when I first took up the game as a kid.

"I have so many wonderful memories from that week at Sandwich and I will be thrilled to go back there for The Open in three years' time."

Ian Brady loses bid to launch fight for choice of tribunal lawyer

Moors Murderer Ian Brady wanted to fight for the right to have the lawyer of his choice representing him at a tribunal

Moors Murderer Ian Brady has been refused permission to launch a "totally unique" High Court fight for the right to have the lawyer of his choice representing him at a tribunal.

Brady applied for the go-ahead to challenge a bar on solicitor-advocate Robin Makin, who has represented him for more than 25 years, receiving a publicly funded contract to put his latest case before the Mental Health Review Tribunal (MHRT).

Mr Justice Morris, sitting in London, dismissed the application as "unarguable" and ruled that it had "no realistic prospect of success".


The serial killer, 79, who now uses the name Ian Stewart-Brady, is a patient at Ashworth Hospital on Merseyside.

Brady and Myra Hindley, who died in prison in 2002, tortured and murdered five children in the 1960s. Four of the victims were buried on Saddleworth Moor in the south Pennines.

Brady was jailed for three murders in 1966 and has been at Ashworth since 1985. He and Hindley later confessed to another two murders.

He last went before the Mental Health Review Tribunal (MHRT) in 2013 and asked for a move to a Scottish prison so he cannot be force-fed - as he can in hospital - and where he could be allowed to die if he wishes.

His request was rejected after Ashworth medical experts said he had chronic mental illness and needed continued care in hospital.

A further review was due in September last year, but Brady refused to take part without Mr Makin.

Mr Makin is currently barred from acting as Brady's publicly funded legal representative because his solicitors' firm, E Rex Makin & Co, is not a member of the Law Society's mental health panel.

Under legal aid rules, only members are entitled to a publicly-funded contract in the mental health law category.

Brady's legal team argued before Mr Justice Morris that the Lord Chancellor, Liz Truss, has power to intervene and protect his human rights and ensure he is represented by the lawyer of his choice.

His barrister Philip Engelman argued Ms Truss had unlawfully fettered her discretion by failing to act in what the tribunal itself had described as a "totally unique" case.

But on Monday Mr Justice Morris ruled all grounds of challenge "unfounded and unarguable".

The judge said nothing in the European Convention on Human Rights or in case law "supports the proposition that in civil proceedings, in particular proceedings related to detention on the grounds of mental health, there is a right to publicly funded representation for a lawyer of choice."

The judge agreed with lawyers for the Lord Chancellor who had argued it would not be a "lawful and proper use of her power" for her to intervene.

The court has heard that Brady was reluctant to engage with the latest review, believing it was biased against him.

But he was persuaded to take part by Mr Makin after "making it clear that the only legal representative he would have was Robin Makin".

His legal team say he has been bedridden for the last couple of years or so.

They state: "It is probably fair to say that his physical condition will not improve and he is terminally ill.

"He is in very poor physical health ”“ he suffers from emphysema and has constant oxygen and a nebuliser four times a day."

The judge refused Brady permission to appeal, but he still has the right to ask the Court of Appeal itself to consider his case.

Mr Makin said the appeal court would be asked to intervene, but if the High Court ruling stood Brady would have no effective representation before the tribunal.

He said: "There is going to be a full-day tribunal hearing towards the end of March in which, although the tribunal said it was a totally unique situation and it would be in the interests of justice for him be represented by me as lawyer of choice, this is not going to be possible.

"The system we have now does not deliver that result. It is an unedifying situation."

Pep Guardiola relishing 'beautiful' intensity of Champions League spotlight

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola is preparing to face Monaco in the Champions League

Pep Guardiola is relishing the intensity of the Champions League spotlight and hopes his Manchester City players can do the same.

City resume their European challenge on Tuesday as they host Monaco in the first leg of their last-16 tie.

Guardiola won the competition twice with Barcelona and took Bayern Munich to three successive semi-finals, thriving on the knife-edge pressure it brings along the way.

Speaking at his pre-match press conference, City boss Guardiola said: "A lot of big clubs are not here, they are not living that situation. We are lucky guys.

"I know how difficult it is as a manager, as a player, to be selected to be here.

"The recent history is quite good but in the long history, Manchester City were not here for a long time. I would like to convince the players to enjoy that moment. It is beautiful.

"All of Europe will watch us, to analyse us, to kill us if we don't win or say how good we are if we do win. That is the huge experience. It is beautiful to me."

He added: "It is one of the most beautiful competitions to play. Maybe not the most important, but the most beautiful."

City reached the quarter-finals for the first time last season and went on to reach the last four, but their opponents in the first knockout stage this time are in formidable form.

Monaco are top of Ligue 1, three points ahead of a Paris St Germain side that thrashed Barcelona last week, having scored 76 goals in their 26 games.

A number of their players have been linked with big-money summer moves with 18-year-old winger Kylian Mbappe, especially, earning rave reviews.

Guardiola said: "Like a spectator it is so nice to see them. I am really impressed how good they are.

"They are physically strong, the full-backs play like wingers, the wingers play like attacking midfielders. The two strikers are fighters in the box ”“ (Radamel) Falcao, (Valere) Germain. They are killers in the box.

"We are looking forward to playing against them. Just compliments (to them) because they are a really good team."

Falcao, who struggled to make an impact during loan spells at Manchester United and Chelsea in the past two seasons, has rediscovered the form that once made him one of the most feared strikers in the world.

The Colombian has scored 19 goals in all competitions this season.

Guardiola said: "He had tough injuries and always you need time for that.

"The system and the way they play now is perfect for him. They attack inside and cross a lot and this kind of player needs that.

"I am happy for him, he is a good professional and a nice guy. I am happy he is back at his level and scoring goals."

City's run to the semi-finals last season was a landmark achievement for the club and the challenge is now to replicate that on a regular basis.

Forward Kevin De Bruyne said: "This team is building on that but we need time to do that year after year.

"Last year was a great step for the team but we know it is going to be a tough test tomorrow to play against an in-form team in France.

"We have to do our job and win this round and stay in the Champions League. It is very important for people who look at us, evaluate us and criticise us to see we are going in the right direction."

Rory McIlroy plays round of golf with US president Donald Trump

Rory McIlroy, pictured, played 18 holes with President Trump on Sunday

Rory McIlroy played a round with US president Donald Trump on Sunday as he continues his recovery from a rib injury.

The world number three  has not played competitively since suffering a stress fracture to one of his ribs during the South African Open in January, where he lost a play-off to Graeme Storm.

The website 'No Laying Up' reported that McIlroy rode in a golf cart for all 18 holes with Trump and quoted the four-time major winner's opinion on the President's game.

"He probably shot around 80. He's a decent player for a guy in his 70s," McIlroy said.  

McIlroy has targeted next week's  WGC-Mexico Championship for his comeback - an event which was moved from Trump National Doral to Mexico City and renamed from the  WGC-Cadillac Championship.

The PGA Tour had a contract to hold the WGC event at Doral until 2023, but with the provision that a new title sponsor would have the right to take the tournament elsewhere. Cadillac's sponsorship ended in 2016.

Speaking last June, shortly after Trump had kicked off his presidential campaign by revealing controversial plans to build a border wall between Mexico and the United States, McIlroy joked: "It's quite ironic we're going to Mexico after being at Doral. We'll just jump over the wall."  

A picture posted on Twitter by Clear Sports on Sunday showed its chief executive Garry Singer alongside former New York Yankee  Paul O'Neill, McIlroy and President Trump at Trump International.

However, McIlroy told No Laying Up that Singer and O'Neill  were not a part of the group.  The four-ball was rounded out by Nick Mullen from International Sports Management and Rich Levine, a friend of the President.

Golf's most influential organisations had previously distanced themselves from President Trump in the wake of his views on Mexican immigrants, which were  expressed when the 70-year-old announced his decision to stand for the  Republican nomination in 2015.

The Grand Slam of Golf was moved from Trump National in Los Angeles,  while the PGA Tour began considering alternative venues for the WGC-Cadillac  Championship after his call for a "total and complete" ban on Muslims entering  America following terrorist attacks.

Man 'killed banker after being laughed at'

Oliver Dearlove with his girlfriend Claire (Metropolitan Police/PA)

An unemployed plasterer has told jurors he killed a young banker after he was "laughed at" and called a "half chap".

Trevor Timon, 31, allegedly punched 30-year-old Oliver Dearlove in the head after becoming angry that he and his friends were talking to a woman he knew.

Mr Dearlove, who lived with his long-term girlfriend in New Eltham, had a brief chat with the woman after spending the evening drinking with old university friends in Blackheath, south-east London.

Timon, from Plumstead, south-east London, has denied murder but admits manslaughter.

Giving evidence, he said he left school at 16 with three GCSEs and got a job as a plasterer.

After four years, he became unable to work because of epilepsy, he said.

On August 27 last year, Timon had met a close female friend and three other women in Morden’s nightclub for a birthday celebration.

He bought a bottle of champagne for the women and drank two glasses himself, he said.

Timon said he felt "happy” and not drunk as they left the club together to get a cab home.

He said he walked up to one of the women to "tell her to hurry up because she had her shoes off".

Timon told jurors he asked her "what are you saying?".

One of the young men replied "nothing to you mate", the defendant said.

Then it all "closed in" and an argument erupted, he said.

"We were just standing there having an argument. One of them said 'she's with the half chap'.

"They were laughing at me really, that's the way I took it.

"I said 'what do you find so funny in saying that. Just go away.'

"I did say to one of the guys 'if you don't get out of my face I will knock you out'. It's a figure of speech really."

One of the women was urging them to go but the shouting continued, he said.

Defending, Courtenay Griffiths QC asked: "Who was the first person to do anything physical?"

Timon replied: "Me. I punched him. He fell backwards. He just fell.

"I stood there for a couple of seconds and walked off."

Asked what was going through his mind when he threw the punch, Timon said: "Nothing. I just threw a punch. I don't know."

Mr Griffiths said: "What were you hoping to achieve?"

The defendant replied: "Nothing. I was pissed off."

He continued: "I was shocked. I didn't think it was that serious. When I got the phone call (from one of the women) to say he was in hospital I was shocked to hear that. I could not believe my punch had led to hospital."

Timon said he went to London City Airport and got on a flight to see his mother in Ireland.

After a couple of days, Timon said he returned and went straight to a police station with his father.

Cross-examining, Anthony Orchard QC suggested Timon attacked Mr Dearlove because he was "wound up".

The defendant said he was "pissed off" from the comment from one of the victim's friends.

The prosecutor said: "You hit him for no reason.

"Oliver Dearlove didn't make the comment. So what did Oliver Dearlove do to you?"

Timon said the victim appeared "ready to fight".

But Mr Orchard said: "You could have walked away from him but you didn't, did you?"

He suggested the case was really about the defendant's interest in one of the women present that night.

In the days after the killing, Timon sent texts to the woman saying he had "mad love" for her.

Timon said: "That's just friendship, not sexual or nothing. Nothing has happened like that. I've got respect for her and her family."

Mr Orchard asked whether Timon had bought champagne on his benefits, on top of the £10 entry to the nightclub.

The defendant told jurors it was "from my money".

Asked if he was interested in boxing, Timon said he had gone to a kids' boxing event.

The defendant denied winding up a forceful punch that knocked Mr Dearlove off the ground.

Britain beats Ibiza to bask in warmest day of year so far

A seagull sits amongst rows of daffodils in full bloom at Tenby, West Wales

Temperatures have hit 18.3C (64.9F) as the country basks in the warmest day of the year so far - beating the likes of Ibiza, southern Spain and the whole of France.

The record temperature was logged at Kew Gardens, west London, where visitors enjoyed temperatures 10 degrees warmer than Milan at 8C (46.4F).

Northolt, north west London, also recorded 18.3C (64.9F), which marks the warmest day of the winter so far.

Britons abroad might be wishing they stayed at home, as Alicante reached 14.8C (58.6F), Menorca 17.1C (62.8F) and Ibiza 15.1C (59.2F), according to forecaster MeteoGroup.

Meanwhile, Heathrow Airport saw 18.1C (64.6F), and Marham, Norfolk 17.5C (63.5F).

The warm temperatures were mainly to be found in London - Edinburgh reached 13.7C (56.7F), Exeter 13.6C (56.5F), and Blackpool 10C (50F).

Nicola Maxey, a Met Office spokeswoman, said the balmy temperatures were caused by tropical Atlantic air sweeping across the country.

"From tomorrow temperatures start dropping - much more near the average temperature for the time of year," she said.

She added that by the end of the week temperatures could be closer to single figures, with London expected to reach 10C (50F).

Monday's high edges towards the highest February temperature since records began - 19.7C (67.5F) at Greenwich Observatory in south-east London, on February 13 1998.

Scotland boss Vern Cotter handed squad fitness boost

Vern Cotter, pictured right, has been cheered by Scotland's improving fitness situation

Scotland head coach Vern Cotter has been handed an RBS 6 Nations fitness boost after a clutch of his struggling players declared themselves fit to face Wales.

Cotter has been left sweating since losing skipper Greig Laidlaw and back-rower Josh Strauss for the remainder of the tournament.

Both men were hurt during last week's 22-16 loss to France, a bruising affair that also saw flanker John Barclay, his replacement John Hardie and hooker Fraser Brown exit after suffering head knocks.

But Cotter feared insult had been added to injury when Sean Maitland and Mark Bennett suffered blows at the weekend.

Saracens wing Maitland trudged off clutching his ribs midway through his club's clash at Gloucester on Friday night, while  centre Bennett was left spinning with a possible concussion during Glasgow's defeat to Ulster in Belfast the following day.

However, both players rejoined Cotter's squad at their training base on the outskirts of Edinburgh on Monday morning and, while they sat out training, they are expected to be part of the Kiwi's plans for Saturday's clash with Wales.

And there is further good news after Barclay, Hardie and Brown, as well as Ryan Wilson, who missed the France clash through illness, also reported back for duty.

Number eight David Denton, meanwhile, made his return for Bath at the weekend after spending five months out with a hamstring tear.

He will not be considered for the showdown with Rob Howley's team but could make a return next month when the Scots round off their campaign against England and Italy.

Defence coach Matt Taylor said: "They've all come into training today and they are being looked at by the medical staff.

"Neither Mark nor Sean trained today but we hope they will be right tomorrow."

That should cheer Cotter after the disappointment of losing his influential skipper.

Laidlaw suffered ankle ligament damage during an accidental clash with team-mate Alex Dunbar, who has himself shaken off a head knock suffered during the defeat in Paris.

His pin-point goal-kicking and cool-headed decision-making during the heat of battle have made the Gloucester scrum-half a key figure for the Scots in recent years.

But Taylor insists there no shortage of contenders ready to take on the mantle of leadership.

"We haven't made a decision on the captaincy yet but we have a number of leaders within the group," he said.

"Jonny Gray captains Glasgow and John Barclay captains the Scarlets, so we have a lot of guys who help Greig out.

"We will be looking for that again this weekend."

Laidlaw's number-nine jersey is now up for grabs, with the Glasgow pair of Ali Price and Henry Pyrgos the two leading candidates.

Price climbed off the bench at the Stade de France when Laidlaw limped off but that was just his second Test appearance.

Pyrgos has 18 caps under his belt and a wealth of experience skippering Warriors in domestic and European competition, but is only just back to full fitness after a troublesome knee injury.

Whoever gets the call to start this weekend, though, Taylor insists they will not let Scotland down.

"We have a plan we want to execute but Henry and Ali have different strengths," he said.

"Ali is very exciting with ball in hand while Henry is good with his organisation and kicking. Both will have big parts to play.

"Vern has sat down with the leaders and talked about their roles. Rugby is a game where people get injured and the next person has to step up. We are looking to them to come to the fore.

"Both nines have been in the squad since the start so they know the systems and they know the rest of the guys well. Both will be important whether they start or finish."

British IS fighter 'carries out suicide bombing in Iraq'

The Foreign Office has advised against all travel to large parts of Iraq

A British Islamic State fighter has reportedly carried out a suicide bombing near Mosul.

The bomber - named by the group as Abu Zakariya al-Britani - is said to have detonated an explosives-filled vehicle in a village to the south of the Iraqi city.

The Britani suffix has been used regularly for militants from the UK.

There has been no official confirmation of the death, and it is unclear when the attack took place.

A Foreign Office spokeswoman said: "The UK has advised for some time against all travel to Syria, and against all travel to large parts of Iraq.

"As all UK consular services are suspended in Syria and greatly limited in Iraq, it is extremely difficult to confirm the whereabouts and status of British Nationals in these areas."

Around 850 individuals of national security concern have travelled to join the conflict, according to figures published by the Government last year.

Of those, just under half have returned to the UK and approximately 15% are dead.



Tipper truck driver 'crushed cyclist to death by careless driving on roundabout'

Moira Gemmill, 55, was on her way to St James's Palace when she was struck by a Mercedes tipper lorry near Lambeth Bridge

A renowned art designer was crushed to death as she cycled to work in London when a lorry ran over her at a roundabout, a court has heard.

Moira Gemmill, 55, was on her way to St James's Palace when she was struck by a Mercedes tipper lorry near Lambeth Bridge in Westminster on April 9 2015.

Harrowing footage played to jurors at the Old Bailey showed the moment the lorry, driven by James Kwatia, pulled away from the bridge on to a roundabout approaching Horseferry Road, crushing Ms Gemmill beneath its wheels and killing her instantly.

Opening Kwatia's trial, prosecutor Mark Gadsden said the 43-year-old had failed to use his mirrors properly and paid insufficient attention to cyclists as he reached the end of the bridge.

He also told the court that Kwatia had positioned his lorry towards the centre of two lanes on the bridge, but as he approached the roundabout he pulled across to his left, leaving no room for Ms Gemmill as she passed by on his near side.

The jury heard that Kwatia had been too preoccupied with traffic on the roundabout to see her, running over her as he accelerated away.

Off-duty police and paramedics tried to save her, but she was declared dead at the scene.

Ms Gemmill, who formerly worked at the Victoria and Albert Museum, had just started a new job as director of capital programmes at the Royal Collection Trust, working on projects at Windsor Castle and Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh.

Mr Gadsden told jurors that Kwatia would have been able to see Ms Gemmill in his mirrors for around eight seconds as he crossed the bridge, and that he should have been aware of her presence and remained straddling the two lanes to give her room.

He said: "Ms Gemmill would have been visible to him in his near-side mirrors as she was coming up on the near side. If he remained in that position this accident never would have occurred.

"We say it was his driving that was the causation of the accident and the death."

The accident happened at about 9.30am on April 9, a "dry, clear and sunny morning".

Ms Gemmill crossed Lambeth Bridge from the east side, riding in the cycle lane with another cyclist behind her.

But jurors were told the cycle lane comes to an end near the roundabout, and footage showed her passing Kwatia's lorry to the nearside as they both approached the junction.

Mr Gadsden said: "His lorry is in the centre of the lane, but coming on to the roundabout itself he cuts right across to the left and therefore allows the cyclist no room.

"As he accelerates away, the cyclist is swept under the lorry and tragically crushed to death."

The prosecutor said while a witness had claimed Kwatia was preoccupied with traffic on the roundabout, when asked after the incident he said he was aware of the cyclists around him.

Mr Gadsden said his driving fell below that of a "careful and competent road user", adding: "He should have known she was there and taken reasonable avoiding action."

Kwatia, from Catford, south-east London, denies causing death by careless driving.

The trial continues on Tuesday.

Underlying financial position of NHS 'not sustainable' as deficit revealed

The year-end forecast for NHS overspending in England is now 873 million pounds

NHS trusts have reported a deficit of £886 million in the first nine months of the financial year and are likely to miss their overspend target, figures show.

While the sum owed by NHS trusts is down from the record overspend of £2.45 billion in 2015/16, the health service is not on track to meet a year-end deficit target of £580m.

Some 135 out of 238 trusts were in deficit at the nine-month point, according to data from NHS Improvement.

The figures cover hospitals, ambulances, mental health units and community services, although most of the deficit was in hospitals.

NHS Improvement said trusts were experiencing "one of the most challenging winters on record due to a huge increase in the demand for urgent and emergency care".

Some 5.34 million patients attended A&E between October and December, which is 200,000 more than the same period the previous year.

Hospitals saw a 3.5% increase in the number of patients requiring major further in-hospital treatment.

"This intense demand for emergency treatment coupled with a significant reduction in bed availability has led to providers collectively underperforming against several key national healthcare standards, and having to postpone some planned care," NHS Improvement said.

It said this was compounded by delayed discharges of people who were medically fit to leave hospital due to problems arranging social care.

The year-end forecast deficit for the NHS is now £873 million.

The NHS Improvement report said despite extra effort "the current forecast deficit remains significantly higher than that planned. This is both unaffordable and unsustainable".

Jim Mackey, chief executive of NHS Improvement, said: "NHS providers are treating more patients than ever before, which is a tribute to the hard work and commitment of their staff.

"But times are extremely challenging, and things are unlikely to get any easier in the short term.

"However, we're fully committed to helping providers improve their services for patients now and tomorrow."

NHS Providers expressed concern that the latest figures rely heavily on one-off savings that cannot be made in the future.

A survey of 99 NHS finance directors released by NHS Providers shows that while most trusts were on or ahead of plan, just over a quarter (27%) reported deteriorating finances.

Finance directors blamed a rise in A&E attendances and hospital admissions of 3.5% against a plan of 2%.

Two-thirds of trusts said they can only meet financial targets this year as a result of one-off savings, estimated to be as much as £1 billion, which may not be achievable next year and beyond.

NHS Providers chief executive Chris Hopson said: "Despite doing everything they possibly can, NHS trusts are £300 million behind the target of reducing the provider sector deficit to £580 million by the end of March.

"This is largely because of winter pressures.

"Trusts spent more than they planned and they lost income from cancelled operations, both were needed to create the extra bed capacity to meet record emergency winter demand.

"This shows the danger of planning with no margin for unexpected extra demand.

"We can't expect to run NHS finances on wafer-thin margins year after year and keep getting away with it.

"Today's figures do show the considerable progress trusts have made this year to cut last year's record £2.45 billion deficit.

"We estimate the year-end deficit will be somewhere between £750 million and £900 million.

"However, this will still need clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) to support trusts where necessary, such as using the money saved from cancelled operations.

"But we shouldn't kid ourselves. The NHS' underlying financial position is not sustainable."

Niall Dickson, chief executive of the NHS Confederation which represents health service organisations across England, said:  "This is a tragedy.

"The NHS had made huge strides to treat and care for patients promptly but the latest figures show a further deterioration and behind those figures lie real suffering for patients and exhausted staff.

"The danger now is that efforts to transform services that government has rightly been championing are derailed because of all the effort that has to go into keeping the service going and trying to balance the books.

"The immediate priority is additional funding for social care, this is a system that is letting down more than one million elderly people who are not receiving the support they need.

"The result is overstretched hospitals having to cope with too many admissions and too many patients unable to be discharged.

"There is a similar story in mental health, which has yet to see the benefit from warm words of support from national leaders."


The financial position of NHS trusts this financial year would be far worse were it not for the £1.8bn sustainability and transformation fund.

The fund was set up to help deliver improvements in services and shore up NHS trusts financially but all the money has been used to plug deficits.

UKAD chief's appearance before select committee postponed by one week

The Culture, Media and Sport select committee quizzed Sir Dave Brailsford in December

The much-anticipated appearance of UK Anti-Doping boss Nicole Sapstead before the Culture, Media and Sport (CMS) select committee has been postponed by one week to Wednesday, March 1.

Sapstead, ex-British Cycling coach Simon Cope and former Team Sky medic Dr Richard Freeman  - two key actors in a drama that has dogged British Cycling and Team Sky all winter - were called to appear before the panel of MPs last month.

The panel is expected to ask the trio, who have all confirmed they can make the new date,  for "documentary evidence" to show no anti-doping rules were broken when Cope delivered a mystery package to Freeman at the end of Criterium du Dauphine race in France in 2011.

UKAD opened an investigation into what was in that package in October, shortly after the Daily Mail first reported the story, and in December Team Sky principal Sir Dave Brailsford informed the CMS committee he had been told by Freeman the package, a Jiffy bag, contained Fluimucil.

If Brailsford hoped this revelation would end the fevered speculation about the package, which has hurt his reputation and his team's, he was wrong.  

Fluimucil is a legal decongestant that is cheaply and widely available on the continent. Former Team Sky coach Shane Sutton told the MPs star rider Sir Bradley Wiggins, who won the race in question, needed the drug because he was struggling with his breathing.

Brailsford, during a very uncomfortable hearing before the CMS committee, said Freeman told him he had administered the drug via a nebuliser.  

Both he and British Cycling president Bob Howden also told the panel that paperwork would be provided to prove the parcel, which was packed at the National Cycling Centre in Manchester and hand-delivered to the finish line of the Dauphine race at La Toussuire by Cope, contained Fluimucil.  

Press Association Sport, however, understands the only paperwork that exists are documents that prove Freeman and other Team Sky and British Cycling doctors ordered Fluimucil and stored it at the National Cycling Centre, and Cope's travel expenses.

When UKAD opened its investigation it said it was looking into "allegations of wrongdoing" within British Cycling and Team Sky and, contrary to usual policy, promised it would make a statement once its investigation was complete, even if there was no anti-doping rule violation.

The unusual nature of UKAD's investigation, which has caused huge annoyance at British Cycling and Team Sky, was compounded by an interview the agency's outgoing chairman David Kenworthy gave to the BBC last month when he described Brailsford's testimony as "very disappointing" and "extraordinary".

That view, however, was echoed by former Olympic and World champion Nicole Cooke when she spoke to the committee later in January.

For his part, Wiggins has said very little, apart from making a few barbed references to the Daily Mail during his brief appearance on Channel 4's winter sports-based show The Jump.

He, however, was already under intense scrutiny after  it had emerged in September he had been given three therapeutic use exemptions (TUEs) to take a powerful corticosteroid on the eve of his biggest races in 2011, 2012 and 2013.

TUEs are doctor's notes which allow athletes to take medicines that would otherwise be banned for their performance-enhancing effects.

British Cycling, Team Sky and Wiggins have said his TUEs for triamcinolone were legitimately granted to alleviate a documented pollen allergy and all three parties have denied any wrongdoing throughout.

In a press release issued when Cope, Freeman and Sapstead were originally summoned,  CMS committee chairman Damian Collins MP said: "There is a considerable public interest in UKAD's investigation and it is also important to our inquiry into doping in sport to understand what they have been able to determine from their investigation.

"The committee has been told by both British Cycling and Team Sky they have supplied all the information they have relating to this investigation to UKAD. However, we need to know if they have received documentary evidence which confirms what was in the package that was delivered by Simon Cope to Team Sky.

"Without this evidence, I am concerned about how it is possible for the anti-doping rules to be policed in an appropriate manner, if it is not possible to review the records of medicines prescribed to riders by the team doctors. I hope that on 22nd February, if not before, we will receive clear evidence on this important matter."

Towie star became bargain hunter after meeting boyfriend, father tells court

Gary Kilbey said that while Daniel Harris was a "good man" he did nothing to enhance his daughter Cara's life financially

Towie star Cara Kilbey went from fine dining at  Nobu and The Ivy to hunting "buy one get one free" bargains after meeting her alleged drug dealer boyfriend, her father has said.

Wealthy businessman Gary Kilbey, who part-owns Fabric nightclub, gave evidence at the Old Bailey in defence of Daniel Harris, who has a young child with his daughter.

The prosecution alleged Harris, 33, made vast profits at the helm of a cocaine dealing empire dispatching drugs around central London on mopeds with a turnover of £500,000 a week.

But Mr Kilbey, of Loughton, Essex, said that while Harris was a "good man" he did nothing to enhance his daughter's life financially - and if anything it was the reverse.

The 57-year-old told jurors that the success of his Tech-en business had made him a "very wealthy" man.

He also spent time running tax-free spread betting accounts for himself and his three children, the court heard.

He estimated that Ms Kilbey's accounts alone made her a profit of £70,000 in 2015.

Mr Kilbey said he was "very close" to his daughter and often visited her flat in Theydon Bois, Essex, with his wife.

He made sure she was never short of money and gave her two Porsche cars which Harris was also seen driving by police surveillance teams, the court heard.

He first met Harris after the couple got together in Spain in the summer of 2014 and learned they were living together in December of that year.

Mr Kilbey said: "He talked a lot about his education, he told me about his City life. We got on very well."

The witness said his daughter was "fundamentally" changed as a result of meeting former banker Harris and becoming pregnant.

The "social animal" who would "push it hard" became more interested in "buy one get one free" in the shops, he said.

Mr Kilbey said he gave Harris £50,000 to set up a Cross Fit venture in exchange for being his "Man Friday" and helping retrieve some debts.

He said £25,000 was to set up the gym, £10,000 to help Harris clear up his tax bill and £15,000 was for living expenses.

He said the defendant was "100% genuine" and enthusiastic about his fitness business.

Mr Kilbey described Harris as "really strong" after Ms Kilbey lost a first child after appearing in a magazine photo shoot posing with her baby bump.

At the time, he gave the couple £4,000 to take a holiday to Abu Dhabi and Ko Samui in Thailand, the court heard.

During 2015, Mr Kilbey said he would always pick up the bill when he went out with Harris and his daughter.

He said: "He always wanted to pay. He's a good man. He just didn't have any money."

Asked who benefited from the relationship, Mr Kilbey said: "He didn't enhance her life. If anything it was the other way.

"I was happy it was the other way, because she was overdoing it."

Harris denies plotting to supply cocaine and heroin and possessing criminal property, cash totalling £116,000 which was found stashed in his young daughter's bedroom following his arrest.

Key questions around NHS overspend

The NHS has overspent by £886 million in the first nine months of the financial year.

Here are some key questions around the figures.


:: What's going wrong?

To be fair to the NHS, the overspend is nothing like the £2.45 billion year-end figure reported the previous year.

Huge efforts have been made to get the overspend down and it has reduced, although NHS trusts are highly likely to miss the target for a £580 million year-end deficit.

Bosses are blaming winter pressures for the performance, with rising demand for A&E and hospital services meaning costs were higher.

Planned operations also had to be cancelled to make way for emergency cases. This meant income from doing routine operations such as hip replacements was down.

The NHS also spends way more on expensive agency staff than bosses would like, although that figure is reducing.


::  Should the NHS be given more money?

Some health organisations argue that the NHS is woefully underfunded, while the Government maintains it service has received all the money it asked for.

Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, has said an extra £10 billion was being made available to NHS England over six years, but overall the health service had "got less" than set out in its five-year plan.

He added that it would be "stretching it to say we got more than we asked for", adding that in  real terms, NHS spending is going to go down.

He has also contradicted Government officials who say total spending on health is around the average for countries in the  Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

Mr Stevens said the OECD includes countries like Mexico, and Britain spends less than countries it compares itself to, including 30% less per head than Germany.


::  What about social care?

There is no denying that social care is having a huge impact on the NHS.

A failure to ensure enough support packages in the community, of the right type, means elderly people have to stay in hospital even when they are medically fit to leave.

Experts say the crisis in social care puts pressure on the NHS at the front end.

A lack of community services and safeguards means that people are far more likely to end up going to A&E or to need hospital treatment, increasing pressure and costs for the NHS.

The Government is attempting to better integrate health and social care as one way of easing pressure on the NHS.

Croydon tram crash investigation suggests driver 'lost awareness'

The scene after a tram overturned in Croydon, south London

The lack of emergency braking by a tram involved in a fatal crash suggests the driver "lost awareness", an investigation has found.

Seven people were killed and a further 51 injured when the tram derailed in Croydon, south London,  as it entered a sharp bend at almost four times the speed limit.

Analysis of the on board data recorder shows the regular service brake was not applied until around 2.5 seconds before the tram reached a 20km/h (13mph) speed limit sign at the Sandilands curve where the accident occurred at 6.07am on November 9 last year.

Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB)  findings published shortly after the crash  gave the speed of the tram as it entered the bend as approximately 43.5mph.

But in a second interim report it stated that the tram only  decreased from 49mph to 46mph by the time it passed the speed limit sign.  The hazard brake was not used.

The  RAIB said: "The late application of the brakes, and the absence of emergency braking,  suggests that the driver had lost awareness that he was approaching the tight,  left-hand curve.

"The RAIB is continuing to investigate the factors that may have  caused this to occur."

The tram driver, Alfred Dorris, 42, from Beckenham, south-east London, was arrested at the scene and questioned on suspicion of manslaughter before being bailed until May.

Around 70 passengers were on the two-carriage tram when it came off the tracks, overturned and slid for 25 metres.

Investigators found that the point at which the bend can be seen and the sign becomes readable in clear conditions is up to 120 metres beyond where a regular full brake must start in order to reduce speed from 50mph (the maximum permitted for trams approaching the area) to 13mph.

But the "readability" of the sign is likely to have been reduced by heavy rain at the time of the crash, the RAIB noted.

The report added: "There was no sign to indicate to drivers where they should begin to apply the brake for the Sandilands curve; they were expected to know this from their knowledge of the route."

London's Transport Commissioner  Mike Brown said additional speed restrictions and associated signage were introduced near Sandilands and at three other locations on the tram network before services were resumed on November 18.

In January chevron signs were installed at four sites with "significant bends" including Sandilands to provide "an additional visual cue" for drivers.

Mr Brown added: "Our thoughts remain with all those affected by the tragic tram derailment and we continue to do all we can to offer our support.

"We continue to work with the Rail Accident Investigation Branch and will take on board all recommendations from this and other investigations."

Six men and one woman were killed in the accident.  A further 51 people were taken to hospital, 16 with serious injuries.

The RAIB said that of the seven passengers who died, one  was found inside the tram, two were found partially inside the tram, three were  found underneath the tram, and another was found on the track close to the tram.

A full accident report is expected to be published later this year.

QC Max Hill appointed new terrorism laws watchdog

Max Hill QC who has been named the UK's new Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation (Home Office/PA)

Max Hill QC has been named as the UK's new terror laws watchdog.

The barrister will take over  from David Anderson QC  as Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation at the start of next month.

Mr Hill has been a QC for nine years and worked on a number of high-profile terrorism cases.

He successfully prosecuted the failed 21/7 bombers, and appeared in the inquest into the 7/7 attacks.

The Home Office said Mr Hill has "extensive experience"  both defending and prosecuting complex cases involving terrorism, homicide, violent crime, high value fraud and corporate crime.

A profile on the website of his chambers said he is an "an effective multi-talented barrister who maintains a heavyweight crime practice".

Mr Hill said: "I am very pleased to have this opportunity, which comes at a time of heightened concern about the risk from terrorism which we all face in the UK.

"As a practising barrister with experience in both counter-terrorism and the rights of citizens facing allegations of serious crime, I look forward to working with participants at all levels and from all sides."

Announcing the appointment, Home Secretary Amber Rudd said: "With the threat from terrorism continuing to evolve and diversify, it is vital we have robust oversight to ensure our counter-terrorism laws are fair, necessary and proportionate.

"Mr Hill brings a wealth of experience and legal expertise to help deliver this."

The independent reviewer scrutinises the operation of the UK's laws on terrorism and produces reports.

During his six years in the role, Mr Anderson has emerged as an influential figure in the counter-terrorism sphere.

His tenure has coincided with a number of major developments, including the emergence of Islamic State and unprecedented scrutiny of the activities of intelligence services.

In 2015 he published a landmark review of surveillance powers which paved the way for the Investigatory Powers Act.

Last month Mr Anderson told the Press Association the country faces a greater threat now than when he took the post.  

He said a sense of being "over the worst" when he started in 2011 had been a "false dawn".

Following the announcement of Mr Hill's appointment, Mr Anderson offered his congratulations to his "very well-regarded" successor on Twitter.  

Mr Hill will begin the part-time role on March 1.

Life-threatening sepsis may affect far more in UK than previously thought

12-month-old William Mead died of sepsis in December 2014 (Family handout/PA)

Far more people in the UK suffer from deadly sepsis than previously thought, research shows.

A study from the  York Health Economics Consortium suggests 260,000 Britons develop the condition every year.

This is 110,000 higher than previous estimates, which put the number of affected patients at 150,000.

Sepsis is a life-threatening condition that occurs when the body's immune system goes into overdrive as it tries to fight an infection. It must be treated quickly with antibiotics.

Early symptoms include fast breathing or a fast heartbeat, high or low temperature, chills and shivering. Sufferers may or may not have a fever.

Severe symptoms can develop soon afterwards and include blood pressure falling low, dizziness, disorientation, slurred speech, mottled skin, nausea and vomiting.

The condition hit the headlines following the death of 12-month-old  William Mead in December 2014.

NHS doctors repeatedly failed to spot he had sepsis, while 111 also mishandled a call from his mother Melissa.

Another child, three-year-old Sam Morrish, from Devon, died from sepsis in December 2010.

He was the victim of a catalogue of NHS errors, including how his call was handled by NHS Direct, now replaced by the 111 service.

Call-handlers at NHS Direct failed to categorise Sam's mother's call as urgent, despite indications that his vomit contained blood.

Even when hospital staff finally realised he was critically ill, they waited three hours before administering the antibiotics that could have saved his life.

Dr Ron Daniels, chief executive of the UK Sepsis Trust, said deaths in the UK every year may be as high as 65,000.

The new study also found that the  cost of sepsis to the UK economy is likely to be as much as £15.6 billion every year, rather than the £2.5 billion previously estimated.

Dr Daniels said: "We've long been aware that sepsis causes thousands of unnecessary deaths every year and presents an unmanageable economic burden.

"A crippling paucity of data has thus far confined us to conservative estimates, but the figures reported in YHEC's study are a shocking new indication of the gravity and sheer scale of the problem. It's sobering to learn that the issue is so much greater than previously estimated.

"Equally sobering, though, is the dearth of reliable data recorded for a condition that carries such an overwhelming costs in human and economic terms.

"It's imperative that the Government acts decisively to develop a national 'sepsis registry' and introduces coding practices for sepsis in all NHS trusts.

"A precise understanding of  how the NHS handles sepsis is urgently required to prevent avoidable deaths, improve outcomes for survivors and save billions of pounds for the UK as a whole."

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said:  "We need to get far better at spotting sepsis across the NHS, which is why we are rolling out a lifesaving campaign to raise awareness and improve clinical practice.

"Already a million leaflets and posters have been distributed to GP clinics, hospitals and other public places - another step in our fight against this devastating condition."”Ž

Phil Dowson to retire before assuming coaching role with Northampton

Worcester flanker Phil Dowson will retire at the end of the season to join Northampton's coaching staff, with Saints bosses backing rugby director Jim Mallinder's stewardship.

Former Northampton back-rower Dowson will return to Franklin's Gardens this summer as an assistant coach, filling the role vacated by Alex King in October.

Northampton sit eighth in the Aviva Premiership table following a 46-31 loss at Newcastle, having finished bottom of their pool in the European Champions Cup.

A new-look coaching line-up including former Saints favourite Dowson leaves Mallinder in control, however, with Dorian West remaining as forwards coach, Alan Dickens running the attack and Mark Hopley supervising defence.

"We believe we have a strong, stable and committed group of coaches that will take the team forward next season," said rugby director Mallinder.

"The first half of the current season was not what we wanted it to be, but since Christmas we have been playing some good rugby in all competitions, scoring tries and being very competitive in every game.

"Dorian, Alan and Mark have a strong working relationship and we are seeing the benefits of that on the pitch.

"Alan's qualities were recognised last season when he helped England Saxons to a 2-0 series win over the Emerging Springboks, Mark deserves his opportunity at this level after his excellent work with our senior academy over a number of years and the first team in the past few months, and both of them have achieved the highest possible level of coaching qualifications with the RFU.

"Stability is a hallmark of many successful teams, but it is also good to freshen things up and we're delighted to be welcoming Phil Dowson back to the club.

"Phil has been a leader throughout his playing career, whether at Newcastle, here at the Saints, or with the England Saxons, and played a key role in establishing the culture that took us to the top of the Aviva Premiership.

"He was always a coach on the field and we know that he will have the respect of the players. He's had a great playing career and has everything it takes to be a successful coach, too."

Dowson spent eight years at Newcastle before switching to Northampton in 2009, helping the Saints land the Premiership title in 2014.

The 35-year-old has spent the last two years at Worcester, and admitted he was excited ahead of his Northampton return.

"The Saints was where I enjoyed most of my success as a player, and in my six years there we were competing in semi-finals and finals each season," said Dowson.

"So while I'm sad to be retiring this is a great opportunity to get involved with the club that I love.

"I obviously know Jim, Dorian, Alan and Mark really well, and how the club works, and this will be a massive help as I make the transition into the next stage of my career onto what will be a steep learning curve.

"Franklin's Gardens is a special place, and throughout the club ”“ players, coaches, staff, ownership and supporters ”“ everyone wants the Saints to be successful.

"It's a strong club with strong values and culture, and I'm looking forward to getting on the other side of the fence and helping the players get better and to achieve things."

Richard Cockerill to become new Edinburgh coach in summer

Former Leicester director of rugby Richard Cockerill will take charge of Edinburgh this summer

Former Leicester boss Richard Cockerill will become Edinburgh's new head coach this summer, the Guinness PRO12 outfit  have announced.

The ex-England hooker has signed a two-year deal with Edinburgh, with acting head coach Duncan Hodge returning to his previous post of backs coach.

Cockerill jumped straight into a short-term role with Toulon after being sacked by Leicester Tigers last month following eight years at the Welford Road helm.

Now the 46-year-old has agreed to take on a new challenge with the Scottish capital club, in a rapid return to permanent coaching work.

"I am very pleased to have secured Richard's services given how highly sought after he was from leading clubs across Europe," said Scottish Rugby chief executive Mark Dodson.

"As a highly-experienced, winning coach we targeted him and worked hard to ensure his talents could be secured for the benefit of Edinburgh Rugby.

"I believe his appointment clearly demonstrates our commitment to developing and maintaining success at our professional clubs in Scotland.

"I'd like to thank Duncan Hodge for all his hard work with the club so far and look forward to him continuing to contribute to Edinburgh Rugby."

Former Leicester hooker Cockerill coached the East Midlands club to three Premiership titles, but was dismissed as director of rugby in January after a run of disappointing  results.

Leicester head coach Aaron Mauger took the Welford Road reins on an interim basis with Cockerill ultimately the fall-guy over a clash of cultures and coaching styles.

Toulon drafted Cockerill into boss Mike Ford's coaching set-up just four days after he was dismissed by Leicester, in a role to run until the end of the current campaign.

And now Edinburgh have seized the opportunity to install Cockerill as their new long-term boss.

Cockerill, who won  27 caps for England, said: "I am very much looking forward to a new challenge and the opportunity at Edinburgh Rugby ticked all the boxes.

"The conversations I had with Mark Dodson and Scott Johnson (Scottish Rugby director of rugby) were instrumental in understanding what the vision for Edinburgh Rugby is and it is a project I'm excited to be a part of.

"I'm also relishing the chance of coaching in the Guinness PRO12, which is a new league for me, and working with a clearly talented group of players."

Edinburgh's existing coaching trio of Hodge, Stevie Scott and Pete Wilkins will remain at the club to work under Cockerill.

Scotland defence coach Duncan Taylor - who is also a member of Glasgow's back-room staff - welcomed the appointment.

He said: "Hodgey has done a great job but Richard has been brought in because he is a really experienced coach who has won at the highest level.

"His record in terms of doing well in Europe is exceptional. It's a strength. Hopefully Edinburgh doing well will strengthen the Scotland team."

Nigel Wood: Super League's World Club Series win strengths RFL's hand

Wigan beat Cronulla on Sunday

Super League's maiden World Club Series triumph has strengthened the Rugby Football League's hand as they step up negotiations for the 2018 event, according to  chief executive Nigel Wood.

The series, expanded in 2015 from a one-off World Club Challenge into a six-team tournament, was scaled back this year after a lack of interest from NRL clubs and only took place at all because of the support of England and Brisbane Broncos coach Wayne Bennett.

Bennett, a noted internationalist, remains committed to the idea despite his club's shock 27-18 defeat by Warrington on Saturday, and Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan spoke of his desire to return in the immediate aftermath of his side's 22-6 loss to Wigan on Sunday.

Now Wood is hoping the performances of the Super League clubs will encourage other previously reluctant NRL clubs to support the series.  

"It's a great boost for the Super League, it's a high spot for the competition," Wood said.  "It certainly feels a lot better 12 months on.

"I think those people who questioned the validity of international club rugby league will have to think again on the back of this.

"You've heard some very sincere words from the coaching staff of all four competing clubs and it's up to us and the NRL to make sure we deliver a concept that can work for everyone.

"I don't know how well known it was but Wayne was significantly influential in making sure the Broncos came over to make sure we got a series rather than just a single stand-alone game.

"The most important thing is that the British sides are competitive and that's the way to get more conviction from the NRL. We've already had conversations with our colleagues at the NRL and we'll have more this week to see what we can do for 2018 to give it the appropriate positioning in the calendar."

Wood says it is important to avoid a repeat of the situation last year when the 2017 series was not finalised until October and is hoping progress can be made within the next fortnight, although he concedes there are difficulties to overcome.

The NRL works closely with the Australian Players' Association on issues such as player welfare and, with the World Cup not due to finish until December 2, it has already put its traditional pipe-opener, the All Stars game, into cold storage and is considering the future of the Auckland 9s.

"There's no cut-off point but everybody needs certainty," Wood said. "We've got to work out what impact the World Cup has in 2018 and there are issues they have to work through like their player agreement."

Both Wigan and Warrington had been prepared to play this year's matches in Australia and Wood accepts the English victories over the weekend has increased the prospect of NRL clubs hosting the 2018 series.

Wigan played their 2013 World Club Challenge against Sydney Roosters Down Under while Warrington have played matches against NRL opponents during pre-season training camps in Australia.

"We were already looking at things like that anyway," Wood added. "Everybody in this part of the world believes international club rugby league has got more to offer than just an occasional game.

"But it's not straight forward, it's not like you can go across on a Wednesday night and play a game. You've got to work through it and these results can only aid that discussion."

Wood has also not ruled out the possibility of starting the Super League season in Australia, saying:  "If it works for everybody, then we'd be very supportive."

The RFL will also consider taking the event to neutral territory such as  Hong Kong or Toronto, which will stage League 1 rugby in 2017.

"It's very possible," Wood said. "I'm sure there will be no shortage of people who want first-class sport such as this.

"Those are options but we've got to see what is possible. We don't want to run before we can walk. Twelve months ago we were all pretty crestfallen, questioning whether this concept could be made to work. Now, 12 months on, the landscape looks very different."

Two senior Ukip officials quit over party's 'insensitivity' about Hillsborough

The resignations are another blow to Ukip leader Paul Nuttall just days before the Stoke-on-Trent Central by-election where he is hoping to oust Labour

Two senior Ukip officials in Liverpool have quit over the party's "crass insensitivity" over the Hillsborough tragedy.

Stuart Monkcom, the chairman of leader Paul Nuttall's own branch in Liverpool, and Adam Heatherington, chairman of the Merseyside regional branch, said comments made by party figures had been "upsetting and intolerable" for the victims of the families.

The announcement is another blow to Mr Nuttall just days before the Stoke-on-Trent Central by-election where he is hoping to oust Labour.

He has already had to apologise for a statement on his website falsely claiming he lost "close friends" in the disaster in which 96 Liverpool fans died.

The party's millionaire backer Arron Banks caused further anger when he said he was "sick to death" of hearing about Hillsborough and accused critics of Mr Nuttall of "milking" the disaster for political purposes.

In a statement, Mr Monkcom said: "Although the timing of our resignations is unfortunate in light of upcoming elections both Adam and I wish to make it clear where the painful subject of Hillsborough is concerned, with closure not yet in sight, this unprofessional approach and crass insensitivity from high-profile people closely within and without Ukip is upsetting and intolerable.

"We identify most strongly with all the good people of Liverpool and most importantly the families of the Hillsborough victims, who have fought so long and hard for justice in their condemnation of the way Ukip has handled these issues and have resigned our positions and membership of Ukip forthwith."

During an emotional address to Ukip's spring conference in Bolton on Friday, Mr Nuttall claimed he had been the victim of a "co-ordinated, cruel and almost evil smear campaign" over Hillsborough.

He has insisted that a press officer was responsible for the inaccurate claim that he had lost friends in the disaster.

He has also strongly denied a report in The Guardian which cast doubt on his claim to have been at the stadium as a 12-year-old fan when the disaster occurred.

Mr Nuttall had been tipped to take Stoke-on-Trent Central in Thursday's by-election triggered by the resignation of Labour MP Tristram Hunt.

Stoke voted strongly for Brexit in last year's referendum and it is unclear whether the continuing controversy over Hillsborough will damage his chances.

He has also faced claims that he was not actually living at the address in Stoke which he gave when he registered as a candidate in breach of election rules.

Mr Heatherington said he "completely" endorsed Mr Nuttall as party leader and claimed most of the anger in Merseyside was directed at Mr Banks over the "total disregard" he had shown for the victims' families.

He told BBC Radio 4's World At One programme: "It was the  Arron Banks remarks that I cannot put up with."

Mr Heatherington said the party leader should have taken down the comments about losing close friends at  Hillsborough from his website  sooner.  

"That's where he was unprofessional, but he's apologised, it's been taken down.

"But he should come to Liverpool and apologise as well. I don't know if he is going to do that."  

Drake: I was labelled a rapper at Grammy awards just because I'm black

Drake won two Grammy rap awards with his song Hotline Bling

Drake has accused the Grammy award organisers of profiling him as a rapper because of the colour of his skin.

The Canadian musician was handed the best rap/sung performance and best rap song for hit track Hotline Bling at the ceremony earlier this month.

He accused  organisers of putting the song - which does not feature a rap section - in that category because he was black.

Drake, 30, told Beats 1: "I won two awards last night but I don't even want them cos it feels weird for some reason. It doesn't feel right to me.

"I feel almost like alienated or you're trying to purposely alienate me by making me win rap awards, or either just pacify me by handing me something, putting me in that category, cos it's the only place you can figure out where to put me.

"Maybe because I've rapped in the past or because I'm black, I can't figure out why."

The musician, who is currently on the UK leg of his Boy Meets World tour, revealed that  organisers had attempted to convince him to cancel two dates in Manchester to attend the ceremony.

He said: "I was pitched by the Grammys to cancel those two shows and fly and go sit in the audience to lose because they don't air the other rap awards on TV.

"I'm really thankful I was at those shows in Manchester cos those were two of the strongest shows that we've had so far."

On Kanye West, who drew public attention last year with on-stage monologues during his Life Of Pablo tour, Drake said: "I'm not really sure what he's referring to half the time."


februar 20, 2017

Do you have £50,000 in your wallet?

Five pound note

The search is on for the fourth, and final, engraved £5 note in circulation.

When the plastic notes were launched last year, artist Graham Short carved portraits of author Jane Austen onto four unique fivers each worth £50,000.

He then spent the notes in all four UK countries, with three of them now found.

The final one was spent in Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire, and could now be anywhere.

The third was discovered in a bar in Northern Ireland last week, with the finder auctioning it off for Children in Need.

It comes after discoveries in Wales and Scotland in December.

The microscopic portrait is engraved onto the transparent part of the notes in a tribute to the author, with each carrying a unique quote from her work.

2017 marks the 200th anniversary since her death.

The serial numbers of the notes were released to help hopefuls identify them. They are: AM32 88551, AM32 88552, AM32 885553 and AM32 88554.

Unilever shares plunge after Kraft Heinz merger bid scrapped

Shares in Unilever fell 7% after a proposed mega-merger with global food firm Kraft Heinz was abandoned

Shares in Unilever have slumped after US food giant Kraft Heinz called off its proposed 143 billion US dollar ( £115 billion) mega-merger with the consumer goods firm.  

The Anglo-Dutch company dropped around 7% on the London Stock Exchange following a joint statement by the two companies on Sunday which said Kraft Heinz had "amicably agreed" to withdraw its proposal.  

Unilever had issued a strongly-worded rebuttal on Friday after the Chicago-based company  tabled an offer representing an 18% premium on Unilever's closing share price on February 16.

If successful, the deal would have been the biggest acquisition of a British company  on record based on  offer value.

A joint statement by the two companies read: "Unilever and Kraft Heinz hereby announce that Kraft Heinz has amicably agreed to withdraw its proposal for a combination of the two companies.

"Unilever and Kraft Heinz hold each other in high regard."

Kraft Heinz brands include Heinz Tomato Ketchup and Philadelphia cheese, while Unilever owns store-cupboard staples such as Marmite, PG Tips and Hellmann's.  

The proposed tie-up was expected to meet strong political opposition, with  Prime Minister Theresa May said to have asked officials to look at the deal before it was abandoned.

Mrs May vowed last year  to devise a ''proper industrial  strategy'' to defend UK companies from being snapped up by foreign firms.

US and Asian businesses have ramped up their interest in buying British following the pound's 17% plunge against the US dollar since the Brexit vote.

George Salmon, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said it was surprising to see the deal shelved just one business day after the news broke.  

"The deal was set to top £100 billion, so the size premium would always have been a consideration - especially since Warren Buffett, one of the biggest names behind the bid, hardly has a reputation for paying anything other than the price he sees fit.

"What exactly happened in this whirlwind of a story is yet to be fully revealed, but it looks like Unilever isn't just playing hard to get.

"It was always going to be a difficult pitch to convince shareholders to relinquish their grip on Unilever, given the expectations for the company to keep churning out resilient growth in the years to come."

Kraft came under fire in 2010 after pledging to keep a Cadbury factory open in  Somerdale near Bath, only to change its mind soon after securing a £11.5 billion  hostile takeover of the UK chocolate firm

In 2012, the business spun off the Dairy Milk-maker into a new  company called Mondelez.

Kraft Heinz was born three years later after Kraft Foods became the subject of  45 billion US dollar ( £36.2 billion) takeover by HJ Heinz Co, owned by US  business magnate Mr Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway and Brazilian investment  firm 3G Capital.

Kathleen Brooks, research director at City Index Direct, said managers at Kraft Heinz would be "spitting feathers" after their proposed offer was leaked on Friday.  

"We expect the chief reason to drop the bid was concern about the political atmosphere in Britain, which is currently against foreigners making bids for 'national treasures', even half-Dutch ones like Unilever.

"Also, the leaked announcement sent Unilever shares surging 15% on Friday, so a protracted battle for ownership would have made it an expensive deal for Buffet and co. at Kraft Heinz."

A Downing Street spokesman said the Government "was not involved" in the ditching of the bid for Unilever.

"The issue of the withdrawal from the Unilever deal was one for Kraft," said the spokesman.

Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley team up for BBC Worldwide Showcase

Patsy and Edina, as played by Joanna Lumley and Jennifer Saunders

Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley are set to host this year's BBC Worldwide as the global showcase event marks the 25th anniversary of hit comedy Absolutely Fabulous.

The pair, who played drunken duo Patsy and Edina in the BBC1 show, will reunite for a special gala on Monday to celebrate the show's global success.

Known as Pour Me Another One in Russia and Totally Hysterical in Sweden, the show has sold in a reported 240 territories and its big screen adaptation last year attracted an all-star cast.

"I'm delighted to see the huge international impact that Absolutely Fabulous is continuing to have," said writer and creator Saunders.

"When I came up with the idea, never could I have imagined what a success it would be, let alone how long it would run for."

The 41st BBC Worldwide Showcase is a four-day international TV market that will introduce more than 6,000 hours of content to 700 global buyers until Wednesday.

One particularly keen buyer is the Vatican's television channel TV2000, which has this year bought nine BBC costume drama series, including Emma (2009), Jane Eyre (2006), Pride & Prejudice with Colin Firth (1995), North & South (2004) and season one of The Paradise (2012).

Presentations throughout the Liverpool ACC Arena  event will be made by stars such as Gary Barlow, Dannii Minogue, Mel Giedroyc, Ed Westwick, Matt LeBlanc and Sherlock creators Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss.

The channel will be sharing a myriad of new and recent releases, including documentaries on music legends such including David Bowie, Bruce Springsteen and Nile Rodgers.

Following the success of David Bowie: The Last Five Years, in the aftermath of the Ziggy Stardust singer's death in January 2016, it has been bought by broadcasters across Europe, North America and Australia.

New series Nile Rodgers: Lost In Music, which sees the Grammy award-winner share his insider secrets on how to make a hit record, is also set to be a hit.

The programme will feature unprecedented access to Rodgers and his collaborators throughout his 40-year career, with words from Kathy Sledge, Nick Rhodes, Mark Ronson and Laura Mvula.

Commenting on the programme he said: "I can't wait to see the series in full, I'm sure it'll be breath taking.

"This series' attention to detail is comprehensive, we looked back through the decades with real curiosity, picking out moments and actions that seemed frivolous at the time, but had a huge impact on the music we made."

BBC Worldwide's president for global markets, Paul Dempsey, said of the whole event: "The range and quality of our programming makes for an outstanding slate, and we're thrilled to host some of the industry's top producers, writers and on-screen talent."

Bradley Walsh 'just laughed' when he was named UK's most successful debut artist

Bradley Walsh was presented with a gold disc in recognition of his achievements

TV star Bradley Walsh has said that he found it "hysterical" to be crowned the UK's most successful debut artist of 2016.

The comedian and presenter's first album, Chasing Dreams, outsold records by former One Direction star Zayn Malik,  fellow newcomer Jack Garratt as well as Mercury Prize-winning Skepta and singer-songwriter Tom Odell.

On Monday, the star, 56, was presented with a gold disc in recognition of his achievements.

He told The Guardian: "I just laughed when I found out.

"I thought it was hysterical. I am probably the oldest new artist Sony has ever signed."

The Chase presenter added: "Niall Horan (Malik's former One Direction bandmate) was sending me messages, laughing his head off. And I got big congratulations from Simon Cowell. He thoroughly enjoyed it."

Walsh's collection of his favourite songs, released on Sony at the end of November 2016, was the only debut by a British act to go gold as it sold more than 100,000 copies.

The record includes covers of Frank Sinatra's Fly Me To The Moon and Barbra Streisand's What Kind Of Fool.

In a statement, Walsh said he was "totally blown away" to have gone gold, adding: "Growing up, I was always in awe of anyone who received a gold disc."

Confident Rashford looking for United to win at Chelsea

Marcus Rashford is hoping to avenge Manchester United's Stamford Bridge humiliation when they face Chelsea in the FA Cup quarter-finals.

Jose Mourinho's return to his old stomping ground in October started badly and only got worse as the most successful manager in the Blues' history saw his side succumb to a humbling 4-0 defeat.

"You're not special any more" chanted some of the Chelsea fans on an afternoon that still sticks in the craw for many at United.

Mourinho's side now have a chance to exact revenge in the FA Cup after Sunday's quarter-final draw pitted them against Antonio Conte's runaway Premier League leaders.

"I mean, at this stage of the competition you're going to be facing a good team no matter where you go," striker Rashford said of their sixth-round opposition.

"I think we've just got to take it game by game. We're on a good run of form and so are they, so I think it'll be a good game.

"But we'll go there confident and to win the game."

Asked if United owed Chelsea one for October, Rashford added: "Yeah, definitely. They've got one over us."

Rashford went on to tell MUTV of the winning attitude they will head to Stamford Bridge with as they had no interest in settling  for a replay - something United will not have to worry about again this season.

The Football Association announced last May that quarter-final replays would be scrapped, reverting to a sudden-death format in a bid to ease English football's congested fixture list.

That is a relief to Mourinho given progress to the Europa League and FA Cup finals would make this a 66-match campaign for United.

The possibility of a 67th had loomed large on Sunday as United struggled to overcome fifth-round opponents Blackburn, with Rashford having cancelled out Danny Graham's stunning opener.

In the end a replay was avoided as substitutes Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic combined, with the latter sweeping home a superb winner in front of the 7,283 visiting fans.

"I think that was the kind of missing bits that we needed in the game," Rashford said of the duo's second-half introduction.

"We had it throughout the game but not in big spurts, so I think we needed them two to come on.

"Everyone knows they are quality players and they did what their team needed to do.

"I mean, (Ibrahimovic) made it look easy but the finish, when you're in the situation, is difficult to take.

"You know, he is experienced and he has been in the position many, many times and he's finished it easily."

The fact Pogba and Ibrahimovic were called upon speaks volumes about the threat Blackburn posed at Ewood Park.

Owen Coyle's side produced a performance that belies their position in the Sky Bet Championship relegation zone and goalscorer Graham wants to build on that in Friday's crunch clash at Burton.

"It was a great moment," the striker told Rovers Player. "Obviously to go 1-0 up against Man United, you think the shock could be on the cards.

"But they are a great team and they put us under a lot of pressure in the second half and it wasn't to be.

"But I think the boys can hold their head up high and we've set a standard now. We need to take that into Friday night's game."

februar 20, 2017

Mum's plea to reunite son with soft toy lost in Carlisle

Jili and James Allen's son, Monty, with Alley Cat

Have you seen Alley Cat?

A Cumbrian mum has made a desperate plea to be reunited with a cherished family toy after it was lost in Carlisle.

Jili Allen was given the cuddly tiger by her husband James 14 years ago, when the couple had just started dating. Since then, it has travelled around the world, accompanying Jili to Paris and the pyramids in Egypt.

It has even been as far afield as Australia.

The couple have since passed on the soft toy - which wears a t-shirt - to their 18-month-old son, Monty.

But a search is now on after Alley Cat went missing while the family, from Lazonby, were out shopping in Carlisle on Saturday afternoon.

"Monty was holding on to him, but had fallen asleep when we were going from Next Childrenswear to the viaduct car park, via St Cuthberts Lane," Jili told the News & Star.

"He must've dropped him, so we went back immediately but we couldn't find him."

Jili said that Monty has been calling out for Alley Cat at night and the couple have been in touch with shops and cafes, but to no avail.

"Someone must've picked him up," she added. "Usually if something's been dropped you'd find it propped up on the railings but we haven't found him."

"We just want him back. James got him for me to celebrate six months together. He's a tiger but he's always been called Alley Cat to us.

"He got the t-shirt five years later. He's been all over the world with me, I lived in Paris for a bit and I took him there, he's also been to the pyramids and Australia. Monty is attached to him as well."

Anyone who has seen - or picked up - Alley Cat can contact Jili on 07863 546596.

Sex attacker who cut his throat in court admits knife offence

Lukasz Robert Pawlowski, 33, stabbed himself in the throat at Haverfordwest Magistrates' Court

A sex attacker who slit his own throat while in the dock awaiting sentence has admitted taking a kitchen knife into a magistrates' court.

Lukasz Robert Pawlowski, 33, stabbed himself in the throat at Haverfordwest Magistrates' Court in Pembrokeshire, west Wales, on January 11.

On Monday he appeared at Swansea Crown Court via video link where the judge said there was no indication that he had intended to hurt anyone else with the weapon.

Judge Paul Thomas said he did not want to send Pawlowski to prison.  

"Breaching court security is a serious matter," he said.  

"The reality is he had already been punished for that; he had been in custody for the equivalent of a three-month sentence."

Of Pawlowski entering the court with the weapon, he added:  "Why it (the knife) was not picked up is an entirely different matter."

Judge Thomas added that he needed a report on the defendant to assess why he did what he did but that "unfortunately"  one could not be prepared for two weeks.

Witnesses were shocked when  Pawlowski, of Bush Street, Pembroke Dock, started making "frantic jabs" at his neck after returning to the dock from going to the toilet.

A Western Telegraph reporter, who asked not to be named, was in the courtroom when the incident happened at around 10.20am and said she was not sure if the defendant had lost consciousness but "he did lose a lot of blood".

She said: "The defendant was in the dock for a sentencing hearing when he attracted his solicitor's attention to ask to be allowed to go to the toilet.

"He returned to the dock very quickly, remained standing then muttered something through the glass.

"Suddenly everyone in the courtroom turned as he made stabbing motions at his neck.

"I couldn't see what he had in his hand, but he made several frantic jabs at his throat.

"The alarm was raised and the clerk rang the emergency services while court staff rushed in to administer first aid."

Paramedics were called and Pawlowski was airlifted to hospital with what the ambulance service described as "serious" injuries.

The reporter added: "It was a surreal situation, and I think everyone was quite shaken, but the court staff were very supportive and professional throughout."

Pawlowski had previously pleaded guilty to sexual assault by grabbing and kissing a shop assistant.

Preseli Pembrokeshire MP Stephen Crabb tweeted: ''Disturbing news. No-one should be in a position to harm themselves or others in a courtroom.''

Pawlowski was remanded in custody to appear before the court for sentence on March 6.

NRL chance too good to turn down for Greenwood

St Helens forward Joe Greenwood is the latest Super League player to move to the NRL

St Helens forward Joe Greenwood says moving to the NRL is an opportunity he could not turn down after it was confirmed he has signed a three-year deal with Gold Coast Titans.

The 23-year-old second rower, who was in England coach Wayne Bennett's 31-strong Super League-based elite training squad preparing for the end-of-year World Cup, had been lined up to join the Titans on a two-year contract at the end of the 2017 season.

However, the Titans managed to fast forward the move after agreeing a swap deal with St Helens that brings former Catalans Dragons back rower Zeb Taia back to Super League on a three-year contract.

Gold Coast chief operating officer Tony Mestrov said:  "We were excited about Joe joining us for seasons 2018 and 2019 but to be able to do a deal and have him at the club this season is a good result.

"He adds some size to our forward pack and will provide some good impact on the edges.  Hopefully we can get him here relatively quickly and he will be pushing for an NRL start in the near future.

"In relation to Zeb, he is a quality individual and someone who provided great leadership in and around the playing group. It's disappointing to lose him but he has the opportunity to prolong his career in the English Super League and we wish him well for the future."

Greenwood, who  made 77 appearances for Saints since making his debut against his hometown club Oldham in 2012, will find plenty of familiar faces in the NRL.

Wigan centre Dan Sarginson made the move to the Gold Coast at the end of the 2016 season, joining England team-mates Josh Hodgson, James Graham, the Burgess brothers,  Elliott Whitehead and Gareth Widdop in the NRL.

Greeenwood said on his Twitter account:  "I have been playing at St Helens from the academy level through to the first team for nine years, making it a big decision for me and my family.  However, it was an opportunity I couldn't turn down.

"I'm looking forward to starting my new chapter with Gold Coast Titans. It's going to be an exciting challenge but can't wait to get stuck in with the boys."

Saints coach Keiron Cunningham said: "We wouldn't want to stand in the way of any player wishing to ply their trade elsewhere and Joe has been given a good opportunity at the Gold Coast."

The loss of Greenwood has been offset by the signing of Taia, 32, who was named in the 2015 Super League Dream Team.

Taia, who captained the Cook Islands in the 2013 World Cup after switching his allegiance from New Zealand,  played for Parramatta and Newcastle before moving in 2013 to the Catalans, for whom he scored 35 tries in 75 appearances.

Cunningham said: "We're delighted to have signed a player of Zeb's calibre and he will bolster our squad immediately."

Taia had a year left on his contract with the Titans but leaves on good terms.

Gold Coast coach Neil Henry said:  "Zeb wanted to prove last season that he was still able to perform in the NRL and he certainly did that, playing in every game except the finals fixture.

"He was a regular mainstay in our starting 13 last season and he provided great leadership both on and off the field.  I'm sure he will be a strong addition to the St Helens playing roster."

Over-50s still facing discrimination in jobs market despite equality laws

A study found that older people must apply to more vacancies than the young to obtain an interview

Employers still discriminate against job applicants over the age of 50 despite legislation intended to level the playing field, a study has found.

Researchers sent 894 pairs of job applications to firms with a variety of vacancies in white-collar, service industry and manual work roles - one from a fictitious 28-year-old white British male, the other from a fictitious 50-year-old white British male.

The study, by Anglia Ruskin University, was carried out alongside a similar experiment with 898 pairs of applications being filled out on behalf of two fictitious black British males of similar ages.

Researchers sought to minimise the stereotyping of older applicants as less active, less motivated and less adaptable than younger workers by ensuring their background information contained current work experience, physical hobbies like cycling and mountain biking, and interests which demonstrated mental flexibility like learning foreign languages and working with computers.

The study found that the older white British applicant was 21.9% less likely to be invited for interview compared with the younger white British applicant.

The older black British applicant was 24% less likely to get an interview compared with the younger black British applicant, suggesting that applicants of minority race encounter higher levels of ageism.

In each study, the older applicant was also invited to interviews for lower-paid positions than the younger applicant was offered.

The older white British applicant was invited for interview for vacancies offering 9.9% lower wages than the younger white British jobseeker, and in the parallel study the older black applicant was offered interview for positions paying 15.7% less than jobs for which the younger black applicant was invited to interview.

Dr Nick Drydakis, reader in economics at Anglia Ruskin University, said: "Our results suggest that ageism plays a significant role in the UK labour market.

"We find that older people must apply to more vacancies than the young to obtain an interview.

"Furthermore, older workers are invited to interview for lower-paid jobs, potentially affecting their standard of living."

He added that the data was collected after the Equality Act 2010 was enacted.

“That we still find compelling evidence of ageism suggests that legislation has not been sufficient to eliminate age discrimination," said Dr Drydakis.

"In this study, because we have controlled for the older applicants' mental and physical capacities, simple prejudice against people aged over 50 is likely to be the reason for ageism.

"Our results also suggest a need for further anti-racial discrimination policies.

"Since the presence of a minority racial background can exacerbate ageism, establishment of equal opportunities in the labour market remains an important task for policymakers."

The study is published in the journal Applied Economics Letters.

Prisoner Charles Bronson's fiancee says marrying him is not a publicity stunt

Charles Bronson, with his dog Della, during time out from prison in 1992

The soap actress fiancee of Britain's most notorious prisoner Charles Bronson has said she is taking a "huge risk" in marrying him.

Paula Williamson, who has appeared in Emmerdale and Coronation Street, insisted the relationship is not a publicity stunt and is hoping Bronson will be released later this year.

The 64-year-old inmate, born Michael Peterson and now called Charles Salvador having changed his name by deed poll, is serving a life sentence for robbery and kidnap and has earned public notoriety with a history of violence inside and outside jail.

Williamson told Good Morning Britain: "Charlie's the first to admit that he's done a lot of terrifying things and I'm aware of those things.

"However, the Charlie that I know is not the same person that's committed all those offences while he's been incarcerated. He is that person, he's committed these offences and he's made these mistakes, but he's a different character now.

"I'm not frightened at all. Charlie, and this may seem completely bizarre to many people, he's a gentle giant and he is a gentleman. He's very, very caring. He's never hurt a woman, he's never hurt a child."

She added that she was "in love" with him, saying: "I'm very excited to be his fiancee".

Asked if the relationship was a publicity stunt, Williamson said: "No, not at all, not at all.

"He's got a parole hearing later this year. If I was doing it for any kind of publicity reasons, I wouldn't get married to Britain's most notorious prisoner, it would make no sense.

"I've not deliberately sought him for that reason. I wrote to him because I connected with him with a book I read that he'd written called Broadmoor. It was about his time (at the psychiatric hospital) and I found his spirit phenomenal and very inspiring."

She added: "He is where he is and I've met him and I can't deny chemistry, I can't deny when you fall in love with somebody, I cannot deny that. I'm taking a huge risk here - I've been sacked from one of my jobs already."

Williamson said the wedding would take place "sooner rather than later".

"We'll get married in prison, within the prison chapel, depending on where he is at that point.

"I believe there's about 10 guests allowed and there'll be a selection of Charlie and I's family friends."

Mercedes management duo Toto Wolff and Niki Lauda sign new long-term deals

Niki Lauda, pictured left, and Toto Wolff have signed new contracts with Mercedes

Toto Wolff and non-executive chairman Niki Lauda have both signed new long-term deals with Mercedes.

Lauda, who began work with the Formula One team in 2012 and Wolff, who joined one year later, will stay with the champions until at least 2020.

The duo's reign at the helm of Mercedes has coincided with their unprecedented success over the past three years.

"It's great news that Toto and Niki have extended their agreements," Dr Dieter Zetsche, chairman and CEO of Daimler AG, who hold a majority stake in the team, said.

"In 2013, we restructured the management of the team with the clear goal of improving our performance. Since then, however, the results have exceeded our expectations.

"A key factor in this success has been the combination of Toto's entrepreneurial skills and Niki's experience. Their renewed commitment gives our programme important continuity for the next four years."

Mercedes have dominated the sport since the move to hybrid engines in 2014.

They have won the constructors' championship for the last three seasons, while Lewis Hamilton has claimed two driver titles and Nico Rosberg one when he clinched the championship last year before retiring.

"Winning is never down to single individuals - it is about the right group of people coming together, aligning themselves with a common objective and then combining their talents to achieve that target," Wolff, the Austrian, who will retain his 30 per cent stake in the team, said.

"Each day I come to the factory, I am humbled to have the privilege of representing this inspiring group of people."

Lauda, the three-time world champion who also has a 10 per cent holding in the team, added: "The last few years have been some of the most enjoyable I have had in Formula One.

"Toto and I formed a perfect partnership at Mercedes and we have a great team on every level that has delivered results."

Lauda and Wolff had formed a managerial triumvirate with Paddy Lowe, but the Briton left the team in January and is set to join Williams. He has since been replaced by the highly-rated James Allison, formerly of Ferrari.

Hamilton and his new team-mate Valtteri Bottas will take the wraps off their new Mercedes at Silverstone on Thursday with the first test of the season starting in Barcelona on February 27. The season gets under way in Melbourne on March 26.

Drivers on London's Night Tube to vote on strike action

Night Tube staff will strike

Drivers on London’s Night Tube are to be balloted for strikes in a row over pay and jobs.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union will vote in the coming weeks on whether to launch a campaign of industrial action.

The union claimed drivers on the weekend service, which started last August, had been "blocked" from applying for full-time jobs on London Underground.

The RMT said it was a "blatantly discriminatory" policy which prevented Night Tube drivers from moving into vacant full-time positions for a period of at least 18 months.

All other staff, including part-time Night Tube station staff are eligible to apply, it was claimed.

The drivers are not eligible for overtime pay because they are contracted to work only 16 hours a week, the union added.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: "It is outrageous that London Underground have decided to discriminate against their Night Tube drivers.

"This is a senseless and damaging policy that picks out one group of staff for negative treatment and of course the drivers are angry and that is why we are balloting for action.

"RMT calls on LU to see sense, stop these stupid attacks on career progression and fair reward for overtime working and confirm that this discrimination against the Night Tube drivers has been lifted."

Peter McNaught, London Underground operations director, said: "Night Tube services have been running since August last year in line with agreements reached with the unions.

"We invite the RMT to meet with us to discuss any issues that need to be resolved and there is no need to threaten industrial action."

Why Muslim parents are sending children to Church of England schools

Church of England schools offer an approach to education that gives attention to spiritual as well as academic development, a spokesman said

Muslim parents are choosing Church of England schools for their children because they believe they prepare youngsters for "life in modern Britain", it has been suggested.

Amid a rise in hate crimes and racial and cultural tensions, the Church is offering an education where "no passports are required", according to its chief education officer, Revd Nigel Genders.

In a blog, he  said Muslim mothers and fathers want to send their children to schools where they will learn to understand different faiths, underpinned by a Christian ethos.

"We constantly hear from Muslim parents who tell us that they choose our schools precisely because we take faith seriously and offer an approach to education that gives attention to spiritual as well as academic development," he said.

"They welcome the opportunity to send their children to a school which will ensure mutual understanding of faiths whilst being clear about the Christian heritage and underpinning narrative on which its ethos and values are based.

"Like the millions of others who have attended such a school, they know that we prepare children for life in modern Britain and a world that is increasingly connected."

Revd Genders added: "The last year has seen a worrying rise in the numbers of registered hate crimes and racial or cultural tensions. The increasingly nationalistic tendencies in countries around Europe and across the Atlantic lead some to conclude that we should build walls of division and implement policies that keep 'others' out.

"But we are proud that our Church of England schools are modelling an education where no passports are required and the doors are wide open to the communities they serve.

"At heart we are offering an education that is deeply Christian, serving the common good, and the millions of people who have had their lives enriched by such an education will be pleased to know that we continue to do so."

There are no statistics available on the number of Muslim youngsters being taught at Church of England schools.  

Around a million schoolchildren in England attend one of the Church's schools, it said, and around half of its schools do not select on faith.

Last autumn, the Government announced proposals to relax rules that currently prevent  faith schools from selecting more than half of pupils according  to religion.

In its response to the proposals, the Church of England said it would not push for schools to be allowed to select more than 50% of pupils based on faith.

Ofsted now inspects all state schools on whether they promote British values, including democracy, liberty and mutual respect and tolerance.

The move came in the wake of the Trojan Horse scandal, which centred on an alleged move by a small group of hard-line Muslims to seize control of a small number of schools in Birmingham.

Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr come together for studio session

Screen grabbed image taken from the Twitter feed of Ringo Starr of the former Beatles drummer with Sir Paul McCartney (Screengrab/Twitter/PA)

The last two living ex-Beatles have teamed up for the first time in seven years.

Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr were in the studio together over the weekend working on the latter's latest album.

Starr posted a photo on Twitter on Monday morning, writing:  "Thanks for coming over man and playing. Great bass. I love you man peace and love."

The two remaining members of the Fab Four were joined by ex-Eagles star Joe Walsh in the studio, according to a second photo by Starr.

He said Walsh had "come out to play", adding "what a day I'm having".

Producer Bruce Sugar, who has worked on Starr's recent releases, also posted a photo of him with the two ex-Beatles on Facebook.

He wrote: "Magical day in the studio today with these two".

The pair last collaborated in 2010 for Starr's Y Not record with McCartney playing bass on Peace Dream and singing on Walk With You.

Starr is currently working on a follow-up to his 2015 Postcard From Paradise album.

Anthony Davis breaks All-Star game points record as West win

Anthony Davis made history

Anthony Davis broke the record for most points in the NBA All-Star game as the Western Conference beat the Eastern Conference 192-182.

New Orleans Pelicans star Davis broke Wilt Chamberlain's 55-year record by scoring 52 points in his home arena.

The teams combined for a record points total in an All-Star game.

The New Orleans crowd also saw a 41-point effort from Russell Westbrook, while Kevin Durant had a triple-double (21 pts, 10 assists, 10 rebounds).

Giannis Antetokounmpo led the way for the East with 30 points, while LeBron James added 23.

februar 20, 2017

Carlisle Utd's Keith Curle says he was sent to stand at Wycombe over "a bit of banter"

Curle is sent to the stand

Keith Curle insisted his dismissal at Wycombe was harsh - claiming his only crimes were "banter" and "verbals" with the home bench.

United's boss had to watch the closing stages of Saturday's win from the stand after being banished by ref Darren Drysdale.

It followed a flashpoint late in the second half that saw Curle and home boss Gareth Ainsworth exchanging views.

But Curle said he had not done anything that warranted ref Drysdale's decision.

Curle said: "I was disappointed to get sent to the stand. I know my boundaries.

"I had a warning and adhered to that. It was a little bit of banter and a little bit of verbal with their bench - you get that every day of the week."

Curle said he did not expect to face any further punishment over the incident.

He declined, though, to go into detail on what the official had told him when making his decision. United's boss joked: "I think it was for being too good-looking.

"I was asked to leave, so I left. It's like being refused entry to a nightclub. You walk away and go and find a party elsewhere.

"There were some good-looking people in our directors' box. It was very pleasing to spend the last 10 minutes with them."

Curle, meanwhile, intends to run the rule over trialists this week whether or not he is able to arrange a reserve friendly tomorrow.

United's boss is assessing "two or three" hopefuls and on the prospects of a game he said: "We're desperately trying. Two opponents have been called off. We've still got a couple of plan Bs and Cs.

"If it's not right, we're still able to maintain the fitness levels we need. We've seen good areas of what they're trying to do and the qualities they've got. But ultimately it's better playing games."

United's youth team suffered a 4-1 defeat at Rochdale with Max Cowburn on target for Darren Edmondson's Under-18s.

Dustin Johnson claims number one ranking with Genesis Open win

Dustin Johnson is the world number one

Dustin Johnson is the world number one for the first time after winning the Genesis Open.

The US Open champion took the lead in the second round and never relinquished it, ending the weekend 17 under par and winning by five shots at  Riviera Country Club.

Johnson needed to win and hope Jason Day finished lower than a three-way tie for third to top the rankings - and the outgoing number one could only manage a tie for 64th after finishing two over par.

The leaders had to complete two rounds on Sunday, following storms on Friday.

Johnson took to the course on day four with a one-shot lead but was six strokes clear after the third round.

The 32-year-old started with a birdie on the first and picked up further shots on the fifth, eighth and 12th before birdieing the last three holes for a seven-under 64.

That took him to 17 under for the tournament - equalling the 54-hole record.

The 72-hole record of 20 under was well within his sights after he gained shots on the first, second and sixth in his final round, but a first bogey in 50 holes dropped him back to 19 under at the turn.

He also recorded back-to-back bogeys on the 15th and 16th but the damage had already been done by then and he made sure of a PGA title for the 10th successive season with pars on the 17th and 18th.

Johnson told Sky Sports: "Today was a great day. I played really good all day long and I'm very happy.

"It's obviously a big bonus to finally get to that number one spot. I'm very proud of myself and my whole team who have supported me.  

"It's going to push me to work even harder."

Day needed something miraculous on Sunday to preserve his ranking but a four-over third round ended his hopes of a high finish.

The Australian was level par in his last round - an eagle and two birdies cancelled out by four bogeys - as he ended 19 shots back on his replacement at the top of the rankings.

Thomas Pieters made a late charge to finish second alongside American Scott Brown - the Belgian's final-round 63 equalled the best round of the week and took him to 12 under for the tournament.

England's Justin Rose was in a four-way tie for fourth after ending with a 68 while Scotland's Martin Laird was a shot behind in eighth.

Harry Potter casts another spell with eight gongs at theatre awards

Jamie Parker bagged a gong

Harry Potter And The Cursed Child swept up at a prestigious theatre awards, winning eight categories including best new play.  

The spellbinding production, nominated for 11 gongs, was the big winner at the 17th annual WhatsOnStage Awards which are voted for by theatregoers.

Author JK Rowling said she was "so proud" of the cast and team behind the hit production.

Jamie Parker, who plays Harry Potter in the sequel to the books, said he was "quivering" after beating veteran stars including Sir Ian McKellen, Sir Kenneth Branagh and Ralph Fiennes to be named best actor in a play.

"This is not my home territory, awards shows ”“ and I've never accepted one before so I've no idea what I said," he told the Press Association.

"You don't get the luxury of hiding behind someone else's words, or somebody's persona."

Co-written by Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, who was named best director, The Cursed Child was also recognised for best set design, best lighting design and best video design.

Noma Dumezweni, who plays Hermione Granger, and Anthony Boyle, who plays Scorpius Malfoy, won best supporting actress and best supporting actor in a play.  

After dancing up on stage to collect her award, Dumezweni admitted she had dashed  straight from a performance and arrived at the ceremony with minutes to spare.

The Swaziland-born actress faced a backlash when she was cast as a black Hermione Granger and said in light of the "hullaballoo" it was "really sweet" to be recognised by fans of the play.

"When the first previews happened, it was unlike anything I had ever experienced as a theatre actor because of the world of Harry Potter and the world that JK Rowling has created," she said.  

Parker said The Cursed Child told a "very vital myth" amid turbulent political times in the UK and abroad.

"It is to do with letting destructive and traumatising and regressive parts of ourselves die so that we can re-emerge in a more evolved and more mature state - I think we badly need that at the moment," he said.  

Rowling tweeted her congratulations to  Dumezweni, Boyle and Parker, with a gif of a clapping Beyonce.  

She later added: "So proud of everyone involved with #CursedChild tonight! #wosawards Congratulations @DickLeFenwick @MissDumezweni @antoboyle!"

The awards, hosted by comedian and actor Vikki Stone and West End star Simon Lipkin, took place at the Prince of Wales Theatre in central London on Sunday.

Half A Sixpence was the most successful musical winning three awards including best choreography - but lost out to School Of Rock in the best new musical category.

The award for best actress in a play went to Billie Piper for her critically acclaimed performance in Yerma at the Young Vic.

Sir Cameron Mackintosh was also recognised for his contribution to the industry with a lifetime achievement award, as he enters his 50th year in the business.  

He told the audience: "I'm still the same stage struck boy at eight who wanted to be a producer, that started producing exactly 50 years ago this year - and I'm still doing it and that's thanks to you, the public."

Mackintosh is currently producing the British version of Hamilton, a musical which won 11 Tony Awards and broke box office records on Broadway, which will open in London in November.  

Town halls warn cuts will continue despite council tax rises

Most councils will have to continue to divert funds into social care services at breaking point, the Local Government Association said

Town halls will be forced to carry on making deep cuts to services despite imposing inflation-busting tax rises, councils have warned.

Local authorities are being pushed "perilously close to the financial edge" and most will have to continue to divert funds into social care services "at breaking point", the Local Government Association (LGA) said.

Failing to stump up the money will continue to "heap further pressure and wasted expense on the NHS", said Lord Porter, the body's Tory chairman.

The Government said funding will exceed the   £5.8 billion gap the LGA estimates will be faced by councils over the next four years.

All councils can raise taxes by up to 1.99% in April, while those responsible for social care can increase bills by up to 3% more.

Nearly all local authorities responsible for social care have approved or are considering applying the precept, the body revealed.

The extra cash must be spent on social care, however the LGA warned that the money will be "swallowed up" by the burden on councils paying the National Living Wage.

The continued shortfall, estimated to hit £2.6 billion by 2020, means other services like bin collections, running children's centres and libraries, filling potholes and maintaining parks will miss out.

The LGA has urged the Government to provide the extra funding for social care when it comes to the Commons with its final Local Government Finance Settlement later this month.

Lord Porter said: "Services supporting the most vulnerable people in our communities are at breaking point and many councils are increasingly unable to turn down the chance to raise desperately-needed money for social care and other local services next year.

"But extra council tax income will not bring in anywhere near enough money to alleviate the growing pressure on social care both now and in the future and the social care precept raises different amounts of money in different parts of the country.

"Social care faces a funding gap of at least £2.6 billion by 2020. It cannot be left to council taxpayers alone to try and fix this crisis.

"Without genuinely new additional Government funding for social care, vulnerable people face an ever uncertain future where they might no longer receive the dignified care and support they deserve.

"This is not only worse for our loved ones but will also heap further pressure and wasted expense on the NHS."

From April all councils can raise council tax by up to a threshold of 1.99% without needing to hold a referendum, while most district councils can increase bills by £5 for Band D homes.

Some 147 of England's 151 social care authorities are either considering or have approved the precept for 2017/18, the LGA said.

So far 108 councils, around three quarters, are considering or have approved introducing the full 3% rise, while a quarter are considering or have approved a 2% rise.

It leaves just four councils who will have announced they will not apply the social care precept and they intend to, or have, frozen council tax next year.

The Government has said it will prop up services with a £240 million adult social care grant, but the LGA argues this is simply repackaging funding originally earmarked for house building.

A Department for Communities and Local Government spokesman said: "Whilst local authorities - like all public bodies - have had to find efficiency savings, our historic four-year funding settlement gives them the certainty they need to plan ahead with almost £200 billion available to provide the services that local people want.

"By the end of this Parliament, councils will be able to keep 100% of local taxes.

"We've also announced an additional £900 million for social care meaning councils will have £7.6 billion of dedicated funding to spend over the four years."

Moonlight outshines La La Land at Writers Guild of America Awards

Barry Jenkins accepted the top prize for his film Moonlight

Moonlight has beaten Oscars favourite La La Land to win the top honour at a politically-charged Writers Guild of America (WGA) Awards.

The film's writer and director Barry Jenkins won best original screenplay for the drama about a young gay black man coming of age in Miami.

He beat Damien Chazelle's musical La La Land - which is widely tipped for Oscar success later this month - as well Manchester By The Sea, Loving and Hell Or High Water.

Accepting his award at the ceremony in Los Angeles, Jenkins said: "I can't say writing will get you on this stage but it will bring you close to the world.

"(This award) means the world to me."

The Academy Awards ruled Moonlight to be ineligible for best original screenplay because it is based on a stage play called In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue.

Instead, Jenkins is nominated for the Oscar for best adapted screenplay at the ceremony on February 26.

Sci-fi drama Arrival won best adapted screenplay at the WGA Awards, beating Deadpool, Fences, Hidden Figures and Nocturnal Animals.

The ceremony at the Beverly Hilton Hotel included a number of references to Donald Trump, with an impersonator of the US president taking to the stage and two men dressed as Russian soldiers handing out awards.

But Oscar-winning film-maker Oliver Stone warned it had been become "fashionable" to criticise Mr Trump as he received the Laurel Award for screen-writing achievement.

Accepting his award, the Platoon director said he wanted to remind writers that "you can be critical of your government and your society".

"You don't have to fit in," he said.

"It's fashionable now to take shots at Republicans and Trump and all that, and avoid the Obamas and Clintons.

"In the 13 wars we've started in the last 30 years and the 14 trillion dollars we've spent and the hundreds of thousands of lives perished from this earth, remember it wasn't one leader. It's a system, both Republican and Democrat.

"In the end, it's become a system leading to the death of this planet and the extinction of us all."

Aaron Sorkin, the creator of The West Wing and The Newsroom, criticised Mr Trump as he accepted the Paddy Chayefsky Laurel Award for television writing achievement.

"We've been told that as coastal elites we're something less than real Americans and that we're out of touch," Sorkin said on stage.

"If you find it mind boggling that living and working in the two largest cities in America makes you less than a real American, you're not the one who's out of touch.

"If you don't think that turning away people who are seeking a safe haven from unspeakable brutality is a morally defensible idea, then you're not the one who's less than a real American."

British film-maker Richard Curtis, whose movies include Four Weddings And A Funeral, Love Actually and Bridget Jones's Diary, received the Valentine Davies Award for humanitarian service.

On stage, the Comic Relief co-founder urged those involved in the film and television industry to use their influence to raise money for charity.

"It's not always easy," Curtis said. "You'll find yourself compromised and it's complicated but then so is everything we all do."

After he was presented with his award by actor Jeff Goldblum, Curtis added: "If Hugh Grant had been anything like him, I'd have had such a happy life."

Atlanta won WGA awards for best new series and best comedy series, while The Americans was named best drama series.

American Crime Story: The People vs. O.J. Simpson took home the award for best long form adapted series.

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver won best comedy/variety show, while Saturday Night Live was named best variety sketch show.  

UK is Europe's third most traffic-congested country, study finds

Congestion on the M6.

The UK has the third worst traffic congestion country in Europe, a study has found.

Drivers are spending an average  of 32 hours a year stuck in jams during peak periods in the UK, according to  traffic information company Inrix.

Researchers calculated that the direct and indirect costs of hold-ups reached £31 billion last year, at an average of £968 per driver.

Congestion is the most severe in London, which was found to be the seventh worst city out of more than 1,000 analysed around the world.

Manchester is the second most congested UK city, followed by Aberdeen, Birmingham and Edinburgh.

Inrix chief economist  Graham Cookson said: "Despite Brexit, 2016 saw the UK economy remaining stable, fuel prices staying low and employment growing to an 11-year high, all of which incentivises road travel and helped increase congestion.

"The cost of this congestion is staggering, stripping the economy of billions, impacting businesses and costing consumers dearly.

"To tackle this problem, we must consider bold options such as remote working, wider use of road user charging and investment in big data to create more effective and intelligent transportation systems."

Aberdeen eclipsed London for congestion at peak periods last year as the hardest city to get into or out of, with drivers stuck in gridlock 24% of the time, moving at an average speed of 5.5mph.

Outside of London, the A1 southbound from College Gardens to Wallace Park in Belfast was the most congested road corridor in the UK.

Businesses suffer the most from traffic in Cardiff, with daytime congestion in the Welsh capital occurring 15% of the time.

Steve Gooding, director of motoring research charity the RAC Foundation, said: "Road congestion is a high price to pay for having a successful economy, and the risk is that gridlock starts to strangle growth.

"That is why we don't just need sustained investment, to add capacity and install better traffic management systems, we need intelligent investment planned to minimise disruption during construction, minimise maintenance requirements, and provide more flexibility for the future."

AA president  Edmund King told the Press Association:  "Employers could help ease the situation by introducing flexible working hours or home-based employment and we also need to improve the efficiency of white van deliveries as light vans are the fastest area of traffic growth."

Russia is the most congested country in Europe, followed by Turkey and the UK.

Recent Department for Transport (DfT) figures show there was a record 320.5 billion vehicle miles travelled in 2016, up 1.2% on the  previous year.

A DfT spokesman said: "We are making the most extensive improvements to roads since the 1970s, investing a record £23 billion to keep our country moving and make journeys faster, better and more reliable for everyone.

"As announced in the 2016 Autumn Statement, we are also spending a further £1.3 billion over the course of this Parliament to relieve congestion and provide important upgrades to ensure our roads are fit for the future."

Pirate websites get harder to find as Google and Bing sign code of practice

Google and Bing have signed up to moves to reduce the prevalence of pirate material websites at the top of search results

Internet users will find it harder to search for illegally streamed live football matches, pirated music and other creative materials under a new plan to crackdown on piracy websites.

Search engine giants Google and Bing have signed up to a voluntary code of practice aimed at protecting users' safety and prevent them from visiting disreputable content providers.

The  code, the first of its kind in the UK, will accelerate the demotion of illegal sites following notices from rights holders.

It means those who search for content such as music videos, digital books and football coverage will more likely  to be taken to bona fide providers rather than pirate sites where a user's security may be  at risk.

Eddy Leviten, director general at the Alliance for Intellectual Property, said: "Sometimes people will search for something and they will end up unwittingly being taken to a pirated piece of content.

"What we want to ensure is that the results at the top of the search engines are the genuine ones.

"It is about protecting people who use the internet, but also protecting the creators of that material too.

"You go into schools and speak to children and many will say they want to be on YouTube, to be a personality on there.

"When you explain to them that they need to protect their ideas, their content, from being stolen or pirated, they understand."

The Intellectual Property Office (IPO) led the discussions to create the code, with the assistance of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).

Ofcom has supported the discussions by examining in detail the way that search results are presented to internet users, and the group has explored possible techniques and metrics that can help UK consumers avoid illegitimate content more easily.

Organisers say this agreement will run in parallel with existing anti-piracy measures aimed at reducing online infringement.

These include court ordered site blocking, work with brands to reduce advertising on illegal sites and the Get it Right From A Genuine Site consumer education campaign, which encourages fans to value the creative process and directs them to legal sources of content.

Stan McCoy, of the Motion Picture Association in Europe, said:  "Pirate websites are currently much too easy to find via search, so we appreciate the parties' willingness to try to improve that situation.

"We look forward to working on this initiative alongside many other approaches to fighting online piracy, such as the Get it Right campaign that aims to help educate consumers about the many ways to enjoy film and television content legally and at the time of their choosing."

The changes are expected to be rolled out by the summer.  

Geoff Taylor, chief executive of BPI, representative body for UK record labels,  and the Brit Awards, said:  "Successful and dynamic online innovation requires an ecosystem that works for everyone, users, technology companies, and artists and creators.

"BPI has long campaigned for search engines to do more to ensure fans are directed to legal sources for music or other entertainment.

"There is much work still to do to achieve this.

"The code will not be a silver bullet fix, but it will mean that illegal sites are demoted more quickly from search results and that fans searching for music are more likely to find a fair site."

 UK Music chief executive Jo Dipple said: "This is the culmination of years of discussions between rights-holders and search engines.

"UK Music welcomes any progress that makes our digital markets more efficient."

Angelina Jolie says her family will be stronger after divorce from Brad Pitt

Angelina Jolie has spoken publicly for the first time about her divorce from Brad Pitt, saying they will "always be a family"

Angelina Jolie has spoken publicly for the first time about her divorce from Brad Pitt, saying they will "always be a family".

The actress said splitting from Pitt after two years of marriage had been a "very difficult time" for her.

Speaking to the BBC, she said: "It was a very difficult time and we're a family. And we will always be a family.

"And we will get through this time and hopefully be a stronger family for it."

Sole custody of their six children was given to Jolie following the couple's filing for divorce at the end of last year.

Asked how she was coping, Jolie said: "Many, many people find themselves in this situation.

"My whole family - we've all being through a difficult time.

"My focus is my children, our children, and my focus is finding this way through and as I said we are and forever will be a family and so that is my, that is how I am coping.

"I am coping with finding a way through to make sure that this somehow makes us stronger and closer."

Jolie, 41, was speaking before the premiere of the film First They Killed My Father, which she directed and is about the Cambodian genocide.

Study warns over imbalance of infrastructure investment

The imbalance in transport infrastructure investment between London and the rest of England is "set to get even worse", a study has warned

The imbalance in transport infrastructure investment between London and the rest of England is "set to get even worse", a study has warned.

More than half (54%) of spending on the country's transport networks is going to the capital,  according to analysis by think-tank IPPR North.

Some £1,943 is being spent per person  in London on current or planned projects  compared with just £427 in the North, researchers found.

The report warned that organisations such as the National Infrastructure Commission and Transport for the North have insufficient investment powers and called for the launch of northern infrastructure bonds to raise capital.

Its author,  IPPR North researcher Grace Blakeley, said the spending gap between London and the North "remains huge" - but stressed "this is about more than money".

She went on: "The North needs to take back control over transport spending to sensibly invest in a range of northern infrastructure projects to unlock more potential."

The report  stated that "chronic public under-investment" is the root cause of problems with the road and rail networks in the North.

It cited Transport for London as an example of a public sector body that has successfully used borrowing to finance infrastructure projects.

The capital's new east-west rail line Crossrail will alone cost £4.7 billion from 2016/17, whereas the total for every transport project in the North is £6.6 billion.

But North West England does appear to be benefiting from the Northern Powerhouse project, with investment of £680 per head - more than any English region outside London.

This is due to "long-term projects finally coming to fruition"  such as improving the north-west quadrant of the M60 motorway and the Northern Hub rail scheme, which could be the precursor for an east-west HS3 high-speed rail line, the report stated.

The figures are based on a Government list of national infrastructure projects with public or public/private funding that are either under construction or planned.

IPPR North  director Ed Cox said: "There is a long, long way to go to rebalance the UK but these figures suggest we're seeing the green shoots of the Northern Powerhouse idea being more than mere bluster.

"We must however make more progress like this if we want to see spades in the ground any time soon."

The report stated that between 2011/12 and 2015/16 public spending on transport in the capital averaged £725 per head compared to £352 across the country.

"This imbalance looks set to get even worse," the study concluded.

A Department for Transport spokesman said: "We are investing £13 billion to improve transport across the North to improve journeys for local people, help industry grow and boost productivity.

"Transport for the North is working with councils to develop a Northern Transport Strategy, to benefit the region as a whole."

North Pole research vessel mission 'could improve climate forecasts'

The project will gather evidence on the changing Arctic climate

A daring attempt to send a research vessel completely trapped in ice across the North Pole could lead to more accurate weather and climate forecasts, say scientists.

Stranded and unable to move, the RV Polarstern will be carried by slowly flowing ice as the bitterly cold and constantly dark Arctic winter closes in.

During the year-long 1,553 mile (2,500km) voyage, teams of scientists - protected from polar bears by armed guards - will take measurements and make observations that have never been possible before.

The bold venture, called MOSAiC (Multidisciplinary drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate), echoes a famous polar expedition more than a century ago.

In 1893 Norwegian explorer Fridtjof Nansen tried to reach the North Pole by allowing his vessel, the Fram, to freeze in place and drift with the ice.

He and his crew eventually abandoned the ship, which continued to drift past the pole, emerging between Greenland and the Svalbard island group in what is now known as the Fram Strait.

While Nansen's goal was the Pole, the purpose of the 50 million euro MOSAiC expedition being undertaken in 2019 is purely scientific.

Co-leader Professor Markus Rex, from the Alfred Wegener Institute in Potsdam, Germany, said: "The plan is to travel in summer when sea ice is thin and sea extent is much smaller. We can travel along the Siberian coast and then make our way with our ice-breaker to the Siberian sector of the Arctic. Then we just stop the engines and drift with the sea ice.

"As the season proceeds the sea ice will grow and by late November we'll sit in solid sea ice. It will get colder; the ice will grow in extent and thickness. By then we'll have set up a network of stations on the ice, some close and some 20 or 30km away.

"We'll have a network of stations on the ice with a central observatory. The whole thing will drift across the Arctic. During winter it will be completely dark and we won't be able to move. We'll just passively drift across the polar cap until we reach the Fram Strait."

Fifty institutions from 14 countries, including the UK, US and Russia, are taking part in the project.

Knowledge gained from the expedition could transform our understanding of climate change and even help forecasters improve their predictions of weather in the UK, said Prof Rex, speaking at  the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) annual meeting in Boston, Massachusetts.

What happens in the Arctic, where climate change is occurring faster than anywhere else on Earth, has a major impact on the weather in northern Europe and North America. Yet the forces at work are not well understood because gaining access to the region to carry out ground-based studies is so difficult.

"There are many, many really small scale processes which affect the climate on a regional and global scale in the Arctic which we can't observe from a satellite," said Prof Rex.

Recorded levels of Arctic sea ice show a much faster rate of decline than computer simulations predict. That suggests vital information is missing from the models, the professor pointed out.

Strong warming in the Arctic affects weather in Northern Europe because it reduces the temperature contrast between low and high attitudes.

This leads to lighter winds that meander instead of blowing in a more contained circular "zonal" pattern and "more frequent and cold air outbreaks from the Arctic", said Prof Rex.

Ex-boxer Michael Watson urges witnesses to come forward after 'car-jacking'

Michael Watson carrying the Paralympic Flame in 2012

Former boxer Michael Watson has appealed for witnesses after he was involved in a "very frightening, violent situation" during a suspected car-jacking.

The 51-year-old, left partially disabled after suffering a near-fatal brain injury during a WBO super-middleweight title clash with Chris Eubank in 1991, was attacked with friend Lennard Ballack on the Ridgeway in Chingford, east London on Thursday.

In a statement, Watson thanked fans for their support and urged for witnesses to come forward.

He said: "I am overwhelmed with all the messages I have received and the kindness shown to me and I would like to thank everyone for their concern.

"Lennard and I were involved in a very frightening, violent situation which came out of the blue in broad daylight in the middle of the afternoon.

"I don't want anyone else to have to go through that so I'm asking you to help the police in finding these men and bring them to justice."

Watson was taken to hospital with cuts to his back while his friend was also seen by doctors after one of the suspects sprayed a substance in his eyes.

The victims are now recovering at home following the incident.

A spokesman for Watson previously told the Press Association: "Somebody bumped into the back of the car that Michael and Lennard were in.

"There didn't appear to be any damage, but Lennard got out to speak to the people in the car behind them.

"From what I understand, the guys wound down their window and sprayed something in his eyes.

"The men then went to the car that Michael was in, he had his seatbelt half off by this point, and they dragged him out the car and along the floor. We are assuming it was an attempted car-jacking.

"The men then sprayed Lennard in the eyes again and drove away."

The suspects left the scene in a different vehicle, while the former world title challenger and his friend were left prone on the floor.

The spokesman said: "Lennard's suffering a bit - his eyes are not good. Michael is okay.

"I think he is very, very sore though. He got dragged along the road so some of the skin has broken badly.

"I gather the police have been very good, so the aim now is to catch the people who did this."

A Metropolitan Police spokesman confirmed officers were called to the scene shortly before 5pm to reports of an attempted robbery.

He said: "Two men, aged in their 50s, informed officers that they had been sprayed in the face with a suspected noxious substance by two suspects who attempted to steal the car.

"The male suspects fled the scene in a different vehicle.

"The victims were assessed at the scene by the London Ambulance Service before being taken to an east London hospital for further treatment - their injuries are not life-threatening."

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to contact police.



Millions more refugees could head for Europe 'if Afghanistan collapses'

More UK soldiers could be heading to Afghanistan

Millions more refugees could head for Europe if Britain and other Nato nations pull their troops out of Afghanistan too soon and the country collapses into disorder, Sir Michael Fallon has warned.

The Defence Secretary told an audience at the Munich Security Conference that if Afghanistan's fragile democracy failed "we here will feel the consequences, very directly".

He added "if it was right to go in, it has to be not right to leave before the job is done" during a discussion about whether Nato's 15-year mission in the war-torn nation had been a success or a failure.

Sir Michael said: "If this country collapsed we here will feel the consequences, very directly.  There could be three, four million young Afghan men sent out by their villages to migrate westwards.

"And they are heading here, they are heading for Germany or Britain.

"That could be the consequence if this entire country collapses."

In total 456 British forces personnel or MoD civilians were killed while serving in Afghanistan.

Troops lowered the flag at Camp Bastion in October 2015, ending combat operations in the country after 13 years, though some remain in training and support roles.

During the Munich event, Sir Michael was flanked by his French, Dutch, Canadian and Turkish counterparts, as well as retired US admiral Jim Stavridis, the former Nato supreme allied commander Europe.

As well as a risk of a migrant influx Sir Michael warned there was still a risk from "transnational terrorist groups", adding: "That is why we went in in the first place - those transnational terrorist groups are still there and they still pose a threat."

He also said Nato should also act to protect its values, saying: "This is a democracy that we helped to establish.

"Seven million people voted in elections for a new future for Afghanistan, voted to choose a government, however fragile it is at the moment.

"That government has asked for our help and my view is we should stay with it until, as long as we can, until that job is done."

Earlier this month Armed Forces Minister Mike Penning told MPs Britain may increase its military presence in the country.

Giving evidence to the Commons Defence Committee, Mr Penning described the security situation in the war-torn country as "difficult", and joked he was "probably going to get shot" for revealing more personnel may be sent there.

He told MPs: "We have no plans to draw-down, actually there is a possibility that we might uplift because of what we are being asked to do.

"I have not been formally asked, but I might as well be honest with the committee, that's a possibility."

UK could review claims for asylum from child refugees in France

Officials will look again at claims from children who had previously been in the migrant camp in Calais if there is new information about them.

Some claims for asylum in the UK from child refugees in France could be reviewed, the Home Office said as ministers came under pressure to take more in.

Officials will look again at claims from children who had previously been in the migrant camp in Calais if there is new information about them.

The Home Office has agreed the move with the French authorities, but it will only apply for children who have family links in the UK.

The Government has faced a backlash after it emerged just 350 unaccompanied children will be given a home in the UK under the so-called Dubs amendment - far fewer than the 3,000 campaigners had hoped for.

The latest development does not alter the closure of the Dubs scheme under section 67 of the Immigration Act, but it could help children with relatives in the UK who may be eligible for asylum under the Dublin Regulation covering family reunion cases.

After the clearance of the Calais Jungle site, children who were moved to migrant centres across France were assessed under the Dubs and Dublin criteria.

A Home Office spokeswoman said: "Children in France may be eligible to be transferred to the UK where they have a family link as set out in the Dublin Regulation.

"We have agreed with the French authorities that we will review any new information from children formerly resident in the Calais camp to assess whether it would change our determination of their eligibility under the Dublin Regulation, to encourage an application."

The development came as The Guardian reported  migrant youngsters had returned to the site of the former Calais camp in a renewed effort to make the crossing to the UK.

One teenager who arrived in London this weekend after hiding beneath a coach at the port told the newspaper that increasing numbers of children in French reception centres had lost hope of travelling to the UK by official means and were returning to Calais.

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said: "It is ridiculous that it has taken so much public pressure to force this Conservative government to live up to its moral duty.

"The Government must now reinstate the Dubs scheme and bring unaccompanied child refugees to the UK who are in Greece and Italy too.

"These children are vulnerable and face exploitation. Britain has always been a place of sanctuary and none are more deserving than these lone children."

The SNP's Westminster leader has also called on Theresa May  to show "moral and political leadership" by reversing the decision to end the Dubs scheme for bringing lone child  refugees to Britain.

Angus Robertson has written to the Prime Minister on  behalf of the party's MPs seeking an urgent meeting on the closure of the scheme.

The decision, which sparked an outcry, will come under scrutiny at Westminster this week with a  special session of the Home Affairs Select committee on Wednesday and a House of Commons debate on Thursday.

The UK Government said it is  "committed to supporting vulnerable children who are caught up in conflict and danger".

Mr Robertson said:  "The Prime Minister cannot continue to remain silent in the face of growing pressure from the public and parliament to reverse this shameful decision.

"We are in the midst of the worst humanitarian crisis since the Second World War ”“ it will not just go away, and the UK Government must not shirk its moral responsibility to receive our fair share of unaccompanied child refugees.

"These are some of the most vulnerable children in the world ”“ we can and must do more to protect them.

"Tory ministers have been far too slow and reluctant to act throughout the refugee crisis. The relatively weak commitments that they have made must now be kept ”“ and instead of closing down key routes to sanctuary the UK Government should be stepping up its resettlement efforts.

"Theresa May must now show some moral and political leadership by immediately scrapping plans to end the Dubs Scheme and by stepping up the UK Government's refugee resettlement efforts."


Teenage vlogger tale So Sammy produced for Disney Channel app

Miranda Hart created So Sammy

Television's Miranda Hart is introducing young people to the highs and lows of vlogging in her first children's comedy web series, So Sammy.

The series, the first to be produced for the Disney Channel app, will follow the life of video blogger Sammy (Harley Bird) and the dilemmas she faces with party shop owner mother and French soon-to-be stepbrother, Olly.

"It has been really fun collaborating on a show set in the vlogging universe where kids hang out today, and it made sense to set Sammy's adventures here," Hart said.

"She is who everyone will want as their best friend, she's real, funny, kind, upbeat and wants to make the world a better place.

"But because she addresses bigger and more real subjects than other vloggers might, she often overstretches herself, but even when it all goes wrong and she puts her foot in it, we will love her even more...We've all been there."

She added: "With the show set in the intriguing world of tween vlogging, it is a perfect fit that So Sammy has its platform on the Disney Channel app."

Launched this weekend, So Sammy is created by  King Bert Productions, the  production company Hart launched in 2014 with David Walliams and Jo Sargent.

Two of the 10 webisodes are now available on the app, with the rest rolling out in pairs from 10am every Saturday.

James Bond actor Daniel Craig now second-longest 007

Daniel Craig trails only Roger Moore for time spent as James Bond

Daniel Craig has become cinema's second longest-serving James Bond.

The British actor has now played the role of 007 for a total of 4,147 days - or almost 11-and-a-half years.

Craig officially took on the mantle of the world's most famous secret agent on October 14 2005. Since then, he has starred in four Bond films.

The most recent, Spectre, was released in October 2015.

He needs to clock up another two-and-a-half years to become the longest-serving Bond, however.

That title is currently held by Roger Moore, who starred in seven films and spent 5,118 days in the  role.

Daniel Craig's predecessor as Bond, Pierce Brosnan, is now in third place in the rankings, while  the original 007, Sean Connery, is fourth.

Timothy Dalton, who appeared in two films, is fifth.

George Lazenby, star of just one Bond film, is in last place.

The figures have been compiled by the Press Association.

To ensure a fair comparison, the rankings are based on the period from the day each actor was  officially confirmed as James Bond to the day their successor was formally announced.

Sean Connery's appearance in 1983's unofficial 007 film Never Say Never Again has not been included  in the calculations.

The James Bond franchise is now in its 55th year, having begun in 1962 with Dr No.

The identity of the actor to play Bond in the next film in the sequence remains uncertain, however.

Speaking in September last year, 007 executive producer Callum McDougall said he would "love" Daniel  Craig to return the role.

"Without any question, he is absolutely [producer] Barbara Broccoli and Michael Wilson's first  choice and I know they are hoping for him to come back," he told the BBC.

Craig said in 2015 that he would rather "slash my wrists" than do another film as 007.

Here is the full list of how long each actor has played James Bond in the official franchise, as of  February 20:

:: Roger Moore - 5,118 days

:: Daniel Craig - 4,147 days

:: Pierce Brosnan - 4,146 days

:: Sean Connery - 3,049 days

:: Timothy Dalton - 2,863 days

:: George Lazenby - 875 days

TV's award-winning Blue Planet to return for a new series

Sir David Attenborough will present TV's Blue Planet II

Renowned naturalist Sir David Attenborough is set to return to television for a new series of BBC's award-winning Blue Planet.

The seven-part series will mark 20 years since the channel's natural history unit first set out to explore never-before-seen wildlife in the deepest and darkest realms of the world's oceans.

Now Blue Planet II will see the team follow a fresh cast of aquatic animals with even more ambitious filming techniques.

Sir David said:  "I am truly thrilled to be joining this new exploration of the underwater worlds which cover most of our planet, yet are still its least known."

Set to broadcast later this year, the BBC team spent four years creating the programme, filming off every continent and investigating all the planet's oceans.

Viewers will witness the very latest in discoveries from the icy polar seas, the stormy green Atlantic and the black, alien deep as the crew use  manned submersibles to delve 1,000m below the surface.

They will be introduced to creatures filmed for the very first time, including the hairy-chested Hoff crab, snub fin dolphins and tool-using tusk fish, as well as underwater volcanoes.

Following the first series' famous footage of a brutal attack by a group of killer whales on a calf, the new programme documents a mother sperm whale's hunting dive with her baby.

New specially developed camera technology allowed the crew to film predators front-on, and even "travel" on the backs of whales, sharks and orcas.

Executive Producer James Honeyborne said: "The oceans are the most exciting place to be right now, because new scientific discoveries have given us a new perspective of life beneath the waves.

"It will provide a timely reminder that this is a critical moment for the health of the world's oceans."

Blue Planet II is being officially launched to buyers at BBC Worldwide Showcase this week.

NHS hospitals 'busier than ever' but breaking point claims 'inaccurate'

The BMA report found that in the first week of January 2017, almost three-quarters of trusts had a bed occupancy rate of 95 per cent on at least one day

The NHS is at "breaking point", with a decline in the number of hospital beds leading to delays in admissions and cancelled operations, the British Medical Association claimed.

The report, based on official statistics, found in the first week of January this year, almost three-quarters of trusts had a bed occupancy rate of over 95% on at least one day.

It said in November 2016, 14.8% of patients spent more than four hours waiting for a hospital bed, having been seen in an A&E department.

The document was seized on by opposition politicians, with Labour saying it was a "wake-up call which Theresa May must not ignore" and the Liberal Democrats warning the situation was becoming "intolerable".

BMA chairman Mark Porter said: "The UK already has the second lowest number of hospital beds per head in Europe per head and these figures paint an even bleaker picture of an NHS that is at breaking point.

"High bed occupancy is a symptom of wider pressure and demand on an overstretched and underfunded system.

"It causes delays in admissions, operations being cancelled and patients being unfairly and sometimes repeatedly let down.

"The delays that vulnerable patients are facing, particularly those with mental health issues, have almost become the norm and this is unacceptable.

"Failures within the social care system are also having a considerable knock-on effect on an already stretched and underfunded NHS.

"When social care isn't available, patients experience delays in moving from hospital to appropriate social care settings which damages patient care and places a significant strain on the NHS.

"In the short term we need to see bed plans that are workable and focused on the quality of care and patient experiences, rather than financial targets.

"But in the long term we need politicians to take their heads of out the sand and provide a sustainable solution to the funding and capacity challenges that are overwhelming the health service."

But Department of Health officials disputed some of the report's key findings, insisting changes in the way data were recorded meant historic figures could not be compared to the current situation.

The BMA report said the number of overnight beds in English hospitals fell by a fifth between 2006/7 and 2015/16.

And according to the analysis, in  2000 there were an average of 3.8 beds per 1,000 people, but this had dropped to 2.4 beds by 2015.

The Department of Health said figures from before 2010/11  included NHS-provided residential care beds and were compiled on an annual basis, while the more recent figures were published quarterly and only included beds under the care of consultants.

A spokesman said: "This analysis is inaccurate, the figures come from two different time periods when the way of counting beds was different, and so they aren't comparable.”Ž

"Our hospitals are busier than ever but thanks to the hard work of staff, our performances are still amongst the best in the world.

"We have backed the NHS's own plan for the future with an extra £10 billion by 2020."

The BMA said the figures in the report had been adjusted to exclude geriatric beds, while even  the current method of data collection shows a decline in the number of beds.  

In the first quarter of 2010/11 there were 144,455 available beds but in the same period in 2016/17 the figure was 130,774 - a fall of almost 9.5%.

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said: "Thanks to Tory mishandling of our NHS, patient numbers in hospitals are now routinely above the levels recommended for safety.

"The shameful reality is this overcrowding puts patients at risk and blows apart ministers' claims to be prioritising safety."

He added:  "This Government's mismanagement is failing our NHS and failing patients.

"The Prime Minister must wake up to this crisis and ensure that the NHS and social care have the funding and support needed in the Budget next month."

Lib Dem spokesman and former health minister Norman Lamb said: "Chronic bed shortages should be the exception not the rule.

"The situation is getting intolerable, with more cancelled operations, longer delays and those with mental health issues being systematically let down.

"The Government is failing to properly fund the NHS and patients are paying the price.

"Ultimately, we could reduce the need for hospital beds by improving preventive care. But cutting both preventive services and beds leads to disaster.

"That is what we are now witnessing."

A NHS Improvement spokeswoman said:  "The NHS has been under real pressure this winter, as it copes with a surge in demand for emergency services the knock-on effects are felt throughout our hospitals.

"Our hospitals are extremely busy but we are working tirelessly alongside providers to help them manage and to support more efficient use of the number of beds available."

The BMA's report  comes ahead of the publication of NHS Improvement's figures for the third quarter of 2016-17 which are expected to show the parlous state of trusts' finances.

NHS Improvement's chief Jim Mackey has acknowledged trusts will miss the £580 million deficit "control target" and forecasters have predicted the combined black hole in their finances could reach nearly £1 billion by the end of the year.

A spokeswoman for NHS England said: "Modern treatment advances such as minimally invasive surgery, fast acting anaesthetics, and medicines taken at home mean the length of time patients spend in hospital has been falling in all western countries.

"The NHS is highly efficient overall, but there are still meaningful differences in discharge practices and community support across England."