Bernie: Oddball comedy drama is trying something different that"s not quite working

Oddball comedy drama Bernie is trying something different that's not quite working

By
Chris Tookey

PUBLISHED:

00:42 GMT, 26 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

12:25 GMT, 26 April 2013

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Bernie (12A)

Verdict: Oddball comedy-drama

U.S. writer-director Richard Linklater has made a weird little biopic about a real-life, small-town mortician and murderer, well loved in his local community of Carthage, Texas.

The role is embraced by Jack Black, who is on good, if muted, form. He makes Bernie a well-intentioned, churchgoing innocent, cruelly exploited by the affluent widow (Shirley MacLaine) he was eventually accused of slaughtering.

The reason this is a curious film is that it’s interspersed by mockumentary footage of locals (played by actors but often quoting real witnesses) enthusing about Bernie. Little sympathy is extended towards his victim.

Scroll down for video

Jack Black doesn't quite make it all the way as Bernie

Jack Black doesn't quite make it all the way as Bernie

One resident even comes out with the justification: ‘It’s not as bad as people say — he only shot her four times, not five.’

The story is too one-paced and monotonous to capture a big audience, and falls midway between comedy and drama, but Black gives his most nuanced performance in years.

I didn’t find it very entertaining, but it is at least trying something different.

User: Jack Black's Bernie takes advantage of lonely Shirley MacLaine's affluent widow

User: Jack Black's Bernie takes advantage of lonely Shirley MacLaine's affluent widow

Weird biopic: Jack Black embraces role

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Denise Van Outen heads out armed with an overnight bag amid rumours of marriage trouble with Lee Mead

Going somewhere Stony-faced Denise Van Outen heads out with an overnight bag amid rumours of marriage trouble with Lee Mead

By
Kelby Mcnally

PUBLISHED:

16:55 GMT, 26 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

18:10 GMT, 26 April 2013

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Despite all the rumours that her marriage to Lee Mead is on the rocks over the past couple of months, Denise Van Outen has rarely been spotted without a smile on her face.

But it looks as though the strain is finally getting to the TV star after she stepped out of her house armed with an overnight bag on Friday.

The 38-year-old failed to raise any sort of smile as she headed out of her north London home, speculating that things might not be all rosy in the star's marriage.

Going somewhere Denise emerges from her North London home with an overnight bag

Going somewhere Denise emerges from her North London home with an overnight bag

The former Strictly contestant wore dark sunglasses as she clambered into the back of the car, without even a glimpse of her husband.

Denise kept her outfit plain in black jeans and a slogan jumper, completing her outfit with a cropped leather jacket.

Speculation has been mounting as the couple have not been seen together for some time, and Denise even revealed in an interview they were leading very separate lives.

The star has been battling troubled marriage rumours for the past couple of months

The star has been battling troubled marriage rumours for the past couple of months

The star has been battling troubled marriage rumours for the past couple of months

She admitted she hasn't spent much time with West End star Lee, 31, who has been going back and forward to Los Angeles for auditions.

She told Now magazine: 'To be honest, it is really difficult. We just haven't seen each other.

'I started on Strictly in September and we've been like passing ships in the night. I'm not going to lie, it's been a massive strain on the relationship.'

The former Strictly star admitted that it has been the 'hardest few months'

The former Strictly star admitted that it has been the 'hardest few months'

Denise and her husband Lee Mead haven't been seen together for some time, speculating that the pair have split

Denise and her husband Lee Mead haven't been seen together for some time, speculating that the pair have split

Denise – who takes turns in looking after their two-year-old daughter Betsy while Lee is at work – admitted that the past few months have been hard.

'We haven't really spent any proper time together for six months…' she said.

'I'd say this has been the hardest few months out of all our time together.'

Denise and Lee mark their fourth wedding anniversary this month, with daughter Betsy turning three next month.

The couple famously met on BBC talent show Any Dream Will Do in 2007, but didn't go public until months after the show ended.

Trouble in paradise Denise and Lee, who have a daughter together, celebrate their fourth wedding anniversary this month

Trouble in paradise Denise and Lee, who have a daughter together, celebrate their fourth wedding anniversary this month

Daniel Radcliffe sparks concern with his gaunt and exhausted appearance

What happened to Harry Potter Daniel Radcliffe sparks concern with his gaunt and exhausted appearance

By
Daily Mail Reporter

PUBLISHED:

13:38 GMT, 26 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

14:12 GMT, 26 April 2013

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He was once the fresh-faced young actor who hit the big time when he was cast as teenage wizard Harry Potter.

But Daniel Radcliffe has certainly come a long way from Hogwarts, judging by his exhausted and gaunt appearance as he stepped out in London on Friday morning.

The 23-year-old actor looked ghostly pale with dark circles around his eyes as he arrived at the BBC Radio 2 studios for an interview with Chris Evans at just after 8am.

Exhausted: Daniel Radcliffe sparked concern with his gaunt and tired appearance as he arrived at the BBC Radio 2 studios in London early on Friday morning

Exhausted: Daniel Radcliffe sparked concern with his gaunt and tired appearance as he arrived at the BBC Radio 2 studios in London early on Friday morning

Transformation: Daniel has come a long way from Hogwarts - with dark circles around his eyes and an incredibly pale complexion

Transformation: Daniel has come a long way from Hogwarts - with dark circles around his eyes and an incredibly pale complexion

Transformation: Daniel has come a long way from Hogwarts – with dark circles around his eyes and an incredibly pale complexion

Wearing an open-neck checked shirt,
with a grey blazer and cord trousers, Daniel took time to sign
autographs for fans outside the studios before heading inside.

But fans could be forgiven for
getting concerned about the way Daniel looked, with the actor looking unshaven and dishevelled for the outing.

The British actor revealed previously how he had to give up drinking after becoming too reliant on alcohol, but is regularly photographed smoking cigarettes.

Since starring in the Harry Potter
franchise, Daniel has been concentrating more on his theatre career, and
can soon be seen in upcoming play The Cripple Of Inishmaan.

Dishevelled: Daniel wore an open-neck checked shirt and went unshaven for the outing

Dishevelled: Daniel wore an open-neck checked shirt and went unshaven for the outing

Meeting the fans: Daniel took the time to meet fans and sign autographs ahead of going in for the interview

Meeting the fans: Daniel took the time to meet fans and sign autographs ahead of going in for the interview

Speaking about starting rehearsals for the production on Monday, Daniel told Evans: 'It's
quite nerve wracking – meeting everybody for the first time. Apart from
me and a couple of other people, most of the cast is Irish.

'So for the non-Irish members of the
cast, we will be thinking about the accent a lot. But I'm looking
forward to meeting everybody and getting started.'

And asked if he has prepared ahead of
the first day of rehearsals, Daniel said: 'I've learnt my lines. Some
actors like to go in and learn it as they go but if I don't do that I
will stress about it. I'm not that kind of a laidback guy, I have to do
the work beforehand.

'It's just about repetition – I just read them over and over again to learn them, and also read them out loud.'

As well as his stage career, Daniel
also had several films coming out over the next few months, including
Kill Your Darlings, in which he stars a poet Allen Ginsberg, and fantasy
drama Horns.

Police under investigation after father, 32, who covered himself with petrol is shot with a TASER and dies from horrific burns in hospital

Police under investigation after father, 32, who covered himself with petrol is shot with a TASER and dies from horrific burns in hospitalAndrew Pimlott was holding can of flammable
liquid which he was doused inDespite this a police officer fired a Taser gun at him The 32-year-old suffered serious
burn injuries and died on TuesdayIPCC today announced it was launching investigation into his death

By
Anthony Bond

PUBLISHED:

15:42 GMT, 26 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

16:00 GMT, 26 April 2013

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A man has died after he was shot with a Taser gun by police officers despite being doused in a flammable liquid, it emerged today.

Andrew Pimlott, 32, suffered serious burn injuries following the stand-of with police officers in Honicknowle, Plymouth, last Thursday.

The injuries resulted in him dying in Bristol's Frenchay Hospital, on Tuesday.

Today, the Independent Police Complaints Commission announced it has launched an investigation into his death.

Probe: Andrew Pimlott, 32 died after he was shot with a taser gun by police officers despite being doused in a flammable liquid, it emerged today

Probe: Andrew Pimlott, 32 died after he was shot with a taser gun by police officers despite being doused in a flammable liquid, it emerged today

Two police officers attended the address in Honicknowle following
an emergency call from an occupant shortly after 9pm.

The caller
advised that Mr Pimlott was in the garden with a can of flammable
liquid.

However, despite knowing that Mr Pimlott was doused in this liquid, an officer fired a Taser at him. He sustained serious burn
injuries and an ambulance was called.

Mr Pimlott was taken to Derriford Hospital in Plymouth
and subsequently transferred to the burns unit at Frenchay Hospital in
Bristol, where he died on Tuesday.

Speaking today, IPCC Commissioner Sarah Green said: 'Our investigators have already carried out a number of actions,
including interviewing the two police officers who attended the incident
and ensuring relevant evidence has been secured.

Investigation: Despite knowing that Mr Pimlott was doused in flammable liquid, an officer fired a Taser at him. This is a file picture of a Taser

Investigation: Despite knowing that Mr Pimlott was doused in flammable liquid, an officer fired a Taser at him. This is a file picture of a Taser

'A post-mortem was carried out yesterday and further forensic analysis
will be carried out. The IPCC had informed the coroner of our
investigation and we will share our report in due course.

'Our investigation will be looking at what information was known to the
officers attending the scene; the officer's rationale for discharging a
Taser on a person known to be doused in flammable liquid; whether the
discharge of the Taser caused the fuel to ignite; and we will look at
training and policies.'

Today, his parents issued a tribute to their son. It read: 'Dear Darling Son Andrew, you were a fantastic son to us, you will always be in our hearts and thoughts.

'We will never forget you. Be in our heart forever and always, we send a million kisses up to heaven.'

His brother also paid tribute: 'You were a dear brother and uncle to us all. We are going to miss you so much and you will never be far from all our thoughts.

'You will always hold a place in all our hearts. Rest in peace dearest Angel, the brightest star in the sky.

'Love you forever and always your two sisters Michelle and Marie, your brother in laws Shane and Jason and all your nieces and nephews.'

Richard Benyon, British richest MP who lectured families on food waste, gives bread to the poor through the window of his manor

Let them eat leftovers: Minister who lectured families on food waste plays Lord of the Manor handing bread to the poor through the WINDOW of his manor
Richard Benyon claims the average family wastes 50 of food a monthNamed country's wealthiest MP, worth an estimated 110millionHe told people to read storage labels properly and keep fruit in the fridgePrime Minister insists the government is helping struggling families

.

The government has been stung by criticism that it is out of touch after Mr Benyon claimed the average family wastes food worth 50-a-month.

The minister suggested people were wrong to keep fruit in a bowl and instead should be packed in the fridge

The minister suggested people were wrong to keep fruit in a bowl and instead should be packed in the fridge

Mr Benyon, who is the heir to the Englefield Estate near Reading in Berkshire, was accused of being out of touch

Mr Benyon, who is the heir to the Englefield Estate near Reading in Berkshire, was accused of being out of touch

Mr Benyon told MPS: ‘We have been needlessly throwing away enormous amounts of food when it is perfectly safe to eat it.

KEEN COOK LANDS HIMSELF IN HOT WATER WITH FOOD TIPS FOR POOR

Environment minister Richard Benyon was accused of being out of touch

Richard Benyon lists cooking among his interests in his Who's Who entry.

But his comments about food waste in the kitchen have landed him in hot water.

The ministerial advice on how to store food is made more politically damaging by the fact that the 49-year-old was today named as Britain's richest MP.

As the heir to the heir to former MP Sir William Benyon, he stands to inherit some 110million from the vast 20,000 acres Englefield Estate in Berkshire.

Born in October 1960, he attended Bradfield College, a public school which counts former Foreign Secretary Lord Owen, cricketer Mark Nicholas and comedian Tony Hancock among its old boys.

He studied for an statement management degree at the Royal Agricultural College – dubbed the Oxford for gentleman farmers – and served as a soldier in the Royal Green Jackets.

He married Emma Villiers in 1988 and had three sons before divorcing. In 2004 he married Zoe Robinson and the couple have two sons. He was elected Tory MP for Newbury in 2005.

A shooting and fishing enthusiast, he has courted controversy since becoming an environment minister in 2010, including sanctioning a cull of buzzards, selling off forests and cutting flood defences.

‘Food
wasted means fewer pounds in our pocket. Household bills are squeezed
at the moment and we have the opportunity through a variety of different
agencies to inform people better about where their food comes from and
how to use it most economically.’

Challenged
about the comments, Prime Minister David Cameron told the BBC:
‘Obviously, that does not look good.’ But he suggested the comments had
been taken out of context.

During a Commons debate on food waste, Mr Benyon went on to issue a raft of advice to families on how to store food at home.

‘Keeping most fruit in the fridge in its packaging can keep it fresher for a week or more, but around 60 per cent of us take fruit out of the packaging, and more than 70 per cent of us do not store it in the fridge.

‘Re-closing packs of cheese and sliced meats helps to stop them drying out in the fridge, but 13 per cent of us apparently store such food unwrapped in the fridge.

‘We can all pay attention to the storage information on food packaging, which will help us to store food at home so that it keeps fresher for longer.’

However, rising food prices have been blamed for piling pressure on families.

Official figures today show fruit prices are more than 10 per cent higher than last year with vegetable costs up 6.7 per cent.

Tory
MP Stephen McPartland said: ‘I don’t think it is right for the
Government to preach to people who choose to purchase food and use that
food.

‘Nobody likes waste
and families on low incomes often buy in bulk because it can be cheaper.
No one in those families are wasting food intentionally,’ he told the
Telegraph.

Paul Nowak, assistant general
secretary of the TUC, said: ‘Of course we should cut down on food waste
but Britain’s families need a change of economic policy rather than
domestic science lessons from cosseted ministers.

‘Mr
Benyon is out of touch with the squeeze on living standards if he
thinks careful fridge management will bring relief. It’s austerity
that’s past its sell-by date.’

Mary Creagh, Labour’s shadow environment, secretary, said: 'Mums struggling to feed their families don't need lectures on wrapping cheese from a Tory Government which has created a cost of living crisis with its failed economic plan.

'People are cutting back on food, eating less fresh meat, fruit and vegetables and foodbanks can barely cope.

'This out of touch Government's response to the cost of living crisis is condescension and a tax cut for millionaires.'

Official figures show how food prices have risen sharply in the last 12 months

Official figures show how food prices have risen sharply in the last 12 months

And Labour MP Michael Dugher added: ‘this Tory minister’s answer to rising poverty is basically, 'Let them eat leftovers’. It’s another crass, patronising and out-of-touch lecture from a minister.”

But Mr Cameron insisted the government was working to help people on low incomes.

The PM said: ‘The real truth here is we need to help families with their household bills, that’s why we’re freezing the council tax for the third year in a row, that’s why we’ve delivered a tax cut for 24m working people by lifting the amount you can earn before you start paying tax, that’s why we’ve cancelled fuel duty increase, we’ve cut the duty on beer, we’re getting behind working families who work hard and want to do the right thing and that is what we’re doing.’

British internet troll Reece Elliott admits Facebook threats to kill 200 US citizens in Warren County, Tennessee

Pictured: British internet troll who admits threatening to kill 200 US citizens in Facebook posts which led to thousands of children staying off school
Reece Elliott, 24, admitted threatening to kill and sending grossly offensive messages at Newcastle Crown Court todayHe left abusive posts under a pen-name on a Facebook tribute site for teenager who died in car crashThousands of American children kept off school in Tennessee after threats were posted

: 'I'm glad the fat bitch is dead. Let's drink
to drink driving. No-one gives a s*** that she's dead, get over it.

'If I was there now I would rape you,' the message read.

Comments on other pages included: 'The f****** fat c*** deserves death.'

'Hip hurray, he's dead. Huge brain injury haha.'

'Haha so f****** funny he's dead'

'Think about her body and smile, splattered all over the road hahaha.'

Elliott admitted posting under a pseudonym on the tribute website - his messages sent panic through Warren County

Elliott admitted posting under a pseudonym on the tribute website – his messages sent panic through Warren County

Reece Elliott, 24, from South Shields, has admitted threatening to kill 200 US citizens in Facebook posts

The series of vile messages were posted on the RIP Caitlin Talley Facebook site in February this year

After the threats were posted between 1-7 February this year, the FBI traced them to an address in South Shields, South Tyneside.

Elliott will be sentenced during the week commencing June 10 after the preparation of reports, including a psychiatric report.

Four charges of making a threat to kill, which Elliott denied, will be dropped by the prosecution.

Around 3,000 schoolchildren stayed home from school in Warren County after Elliott posted his online threats to kill

Around 3,000 schoolchildren stayed home from school in Warren County after Elliott posted his online threats

Judge James Goss QC said: 'As long as it is understood that although there is only a guilty plea in relation to one count of making a threat to kill, the fact is threats were made to more than one person.

'That will be reflected in the sentence.'

Judge Goss remanded Elliott in custody, warning him: 'The judge warned him: “You will remain in custody until the sentence hearing and I am sure you will appreciate the offences to which you entered pleas of guilty are serious matters and of course a prison sentence is the inevitable
sentence in respect of these offences.'

Terrified children are led out of Sandy Hook Elementary School where 26 died in a shooting in December 2012

Terrified children are led out of Sandy Hook Elementary School where 26 died in a shooting in December 2012

Teachers told to introduce porn into the classroom to explain it is "not bad at all"

Teachers should give lessons in pornography and tell pupils 'it's not all bad', experts say
Recommendations suggest teachers confront 'myths' about pornGuidance could have significant influence in British schools

By
Mario Ledwith

PUBLISHED:

02:02 GMT, 26 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

09:53 GMT, 26 April 2013

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);

Teachers have been encouraged to introduce pornography into the classroom, using sex education lessons to explain that porn is 'not all bad' and 'hugely diverse'.

The recommendations, included in an educational guide, suggest that teachers confront 'myths' about porn and inform children as young as five about sexualisation.

The guidance could have significant influence in British schools after the Government's decision to keep sex education lessons voluntary, leaving schools to devise their own ways of teaching the subject.

Guidance from the Sex Education Forum, whose members include the NSPCC and Barnardo's, encourages teachers to introduce pornography into the classroom

Guidance from the Sex Education Forum, whose members include the NSPCC and Barnardo's, encourages teachers to introduce pornography into the classroom

The Daily Mail has led a long-running campaign to introduce measures to protect young people from the growing influence of porn.

But the guidance, produced by a coalition of charities, encourages dialogue in the classroom about all aspects of pornography.

Issued by the Sex Education Forum, whose members include the NSPCC and Barnardo's, the guidance encourages teachers to inform children over the age of 11 about subjects such as sexting, whereby sexually explicit images and pictures are sent in text messages.

Critics said that parents would be 'horrified' by the possible introduction of pornography into classroom lessons.

Under a section titled 'We want teachers to know', the guide includes advice that 'that porn is hugely diverse – it's not necessarily all bad'.

The 'wish list' section, which aims to create the 'ideal environment' for teaching about sexual issues, also advises teachers to 'speak frankly and confidently' about pornography.

In a model lesson plan, it is
suggested that children are told about the differences between what is
'real' and 'unreal' in pornography, using a device known as the 'planet
porn game'.

The Daily Mail has led a long-running campaign to introduce measures to protect young people from the growing influence of porn

The Daily Mail has led a long-running campaign to introduce measures to protect young people from the growing influence of porn

The guidance, contained within the body's first Sex Educational Supplement titled The Porn Issue, also suggests that teachers use a website that describes porn as 'great' and something that can be enjoyed.

A statement on TheSite.org reads: 'Sex is great. And porn can be great. It's the idea that porn sex is like real sex which is the problem.

'But if you can separate the fantasy from the reality you're much more likely to enjoy both.'

Younger children should be taught about 'image manipulation in advertising and body image', according to the guide.

The Family Education Trust's Norman Wells criticised the guide, saying: 'The intention appears to be to steer children and young people away from a belief in moral absolutes and to encourage them to think that there are no rights and wrongs when it comes to sexual expression.'

He told the Daily Telegraph: 'Many parents will be horrified at the prospect of their children being taught about pornography within such a framework.

'To take a no-holds barred approach to sex education has the potential to break down pupils' natural sense of reserve and to encourage casual attitudes towards sex.'

'If we want children to view sexual intimacy as something valuable, special and worthy of respect, it needs to be addressed with modesty and restraint. To give lessons on pornography is to play with fire.'

The Government announced in March that sex education would remain voluntary under the National Curriculum after the previous Labour administration tried to make the lessons compulsory.

The Daily Mail has been calling for tough restrictions to protect youngsters. David Cameron has promised that new computers will be automatically be fitted with web filters unless parents specifically lift them – but has not said when this will happen.

Christian retreat ordered to pay 43,000 to Sadia Raza for bullying

'Is that how they run hotels in Pakistan' Bullying Christian retreat manager to pay 43,000 to Asian former housekeeper
Single mother Sadia Raza, 49, was bullied by manager Graham HollandHe said if he dropped a cheescake 'Sadia will lick it up off the floor'Tribunal rules the single mother, who earned 93 a week, was victimisedShe says Mr Holland's behaviour was 'hardly Christian-like'

.

Abuse: Mrs Raza, 49, was victimised and unfairly dismissed from Whirlow Grange, in Sheffield, the tribunal ruled

Abuse: Mrs Raza, 49, was victimised and unfairly dismissed from Whirlow Grange, in Sheffield, the tribunal ruled

She was hauled before a disciplinary meeting and two months later sacked for gross misconduct – over allegations that she sexually harassed four men at the centre.

Abuse: Married father-of-three Graham Holland who made crude remarks about his motorbike

Abuse: Married father-of-three Graham Holland who made crude remarks about his motorbike

Management claimed she pinched the bottoms of the male employees, cuddled and flirted with them, even suggested to one man that they go up to his flat.

But none of these witnesses were produced at the Sheffield tribunal and Employment Judge Philip Rostant said 'the tribunal draws an inference that the allegations are not true in their substance or at any rate amount to gross exaggerations of the experience of these men with the claimant.'

Whirlow Grange and Mr Holland, who lived in Chesterfield, claimed Mrs Raza 'conducted a number of acts of
gross misconduct' involving sexually harassing the head chef and bar
supervisor and was sacked after a 'reasonable' internal investigation.

The tribunal ruled several other claims made by Mrs Raza were 'outlandish' and that she could be 'irritating' towards Mr Holland on occasions.

But Mr Rostant said she had suffered 'appallingly unfair treatment' during the disciplinary procedure and the panel accepted she was 'upset and humiliated' by Mr Holland's behaviour.

After winning compensation the single mother who is divorced and has a 17-year-old son said: 'Mr Holland told other staff he was a born Christian but his behaviour towards me was hardly Christian-like.'

Mrs Raza, from Sheffield, a British Asian who came to the United Kingdom 18 years ago, had worked in a Citizen's Advice Bureau, for a letting agent and as a cleaner before taking the job at Whirlow Grange in November, 2009.

Christian centre: The Archbishops of York and Canterbury have stayed at Whirlow Grange in the past

Christian centre: The Archbishops of York and Canterbury have stayed at Whirlow Grange in the past

She earned just 93 a week in her job which involved cleaning, helping in the kitchen and general household duties.

Since she was sacked she has lived on 71 a week Job Seekers Allowance and has suffered ill health which requires her to see a psychiatrist once a month.

She claims her former 'sunny disposition' was wrecked after her dismissal and blames Mr Holland, who left Whirlow Grange in September last year, for her plight.

Her doctor says she is suffering from 'enormous stress' and is currently unfit for work. She is practically penniless and still has a mortgage and bills to pay and represented herself at the tribunal after running up legal bills of 2,500.

She said: 'I was accused of flirting with everybody from the chef to the gardener. It was all rubbish just to fabricate a claim of sexual harassment against me.

'In the beginning I thought Graham Holland was a good person. Then he started bullying me to the point where I used to cry at work. He barked at me like a bulldog and swore at me for no reason.

'He treated me like a piece of dog dirt. He didn't speak to any other member of staff like that. I think he did it because of my race. He couldn't stand me for some reason and made my life hell.'

A spokesman for Whirlow Grange has not yet responded to a request for comment.

MPs decide to take ANOTHER two week break: Parliament"s only been back for 10 days since their last fortnight off

MPs decide to take ANOTHER two week break: Parliament’s only been back for 10 days since their last fortnight off
Commons will not sit again until Queen's Speech on May 8MPs will be in Westminster for eight days before 10-day Whitsun holiday
For first 150 days of 2013, Commons will convene just 64 times

By
Matt Chorley, Mailonline Political Editor

PUBLISHED:

09:32 GMT, 26 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

09:37 GMT, 26 April 2013

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MPs have ignored warnings that they risk looking lazy and today begin another two-week holiday.

The latest break comes just days since the Commons' two and a half week Easter recess.

They will return on May 8 for the Queen’s Speech, but only spend eight days in Westminster before heading off again for a 10-day Whitsun get-away.

Empty benches: The latest holiday for MPs means they have spent less than half of 2013 so far in the House of Commons

Empty benches: The latest holiday for MPs means they have spent less than half of 2013 so far in the House of Commons

It means that in the first 150 days of 2013, the Commons will have been convened just 64 times.

The revelation that MPs have met in the Westminster for less than every other day would appear to contradict assertions from senior ministers including David Cameron and William Hague that Britons must work harder to get the country back on its feet.

The latest holiday sparked accusations that the government had run out of ideas and legislation was being rushed through without being properly scrutinised.

David Cameron at Prime Minister's Questions

Ed Miliband at Prime Minister's Questions

The frequent holidays means David Cameron and Ed Miliband have gone head-to-head at Prime Minister's Questions just twice in 12 weeks

Earlier this month Margaret Hodge, the
Labour MP who chairs Westminster’s spending watchdog, warned the public
think politicians are lazy and provide poor value for money.

'We are living through the worst
economic crisis in modern times. MPs have a lot to do and yet we are
spending much of our time in recess,’ she said.

'Members of the public would be
forgiven for thinking that it is MPs who are lazy and that it is
Parliament that is failing to provide good value for money.

Labour's Margaret Hodge has warned that the public think MPs are lazy

Labour's Margaret Hodge has warned that the public think MPs are lazy

'We are not spending enough time in Westminster, and this creates a democratic vacuum.'

Today the Commons begins a 12-day break triggered by prorogation – the gap between one session of Parliament and the next.

Traditionally
Parliament has only broken up for a few days to prepare for the Queen’s
Speech, which sets out new laws planned for the new session.

But the long and frequent holidays means
David Cameron has missed several sessions of Prime Minister’s
Questions. There were just two in the last 12 weeks.

Matthew Sinclair, chief executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance said: ‘It’s ridiculous that Parliament has shut up shop again when so many of its debates get curtailed by strict timetables and important bills have been rushed through.

‘The amount of time that the Commons spends in recess should be a huge cause for concern as it prevents MPs from properly scrutinising the Government for big chunks of the year.

‘With this latest break so close to the local elections, many taxpayers will be left wondering whether it is more about freeing up time for the politicians go out knocking on doors in support of their political friends rather than getting down to work in their constituencies.’

Labour MP Dave Anderson said: ‘We are going to be on holiday for another two weeks when we could have been discussing really serious things.’

Paul Flynn, Labour MP for Newport West, added: ‘The Government has clearly run out of ideas.’

Headteacher, 39, stabbed three times in the face and neck with a screwdriver outside her home

Headteacher, 39, stabbed 'three times' in the face and neck with a screwdriver outside her homeMan, 47, arrested at scene on suspicion of attempted murder
Victim airlifted to hospital in serious condition
Assailant was 'wrestled to the ground by a passing motorist'Police deny reports attack was sparked by 'neighbourly dispute'

By
Simon Tomlinson

PUBLISHED:

09:24 GMT, 26 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

10:04 GMT, 26 April 2013

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A man has been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder after a headteacher was stabbed in the face and neck with a screwdriver.

The 39-year-old was attacked as she got out of her car outside her home in Rochdale, Greater Manchester, just after 5pm yesterday.

Police were called to the scene in Shaw Road, Thornham, following reports that she had been stabbed three times.

The assailant was reportedly wrestled to the ground by a passing motorist.

Horrific: A man was arrested on suspicion of attempted after a headteacher was stabbed in the face and neck with a screwdriver as she got our of her car outside her home in Shaw Road (above) in Rochdale

Horrific: A man was arrested on suspicion of attempted after a headteacher was stabbed in the face and neck with a screwdriver as she got our of her car outside her home in Shaw Road (above) in Rochdale

The headteacher was airlifted to Wythenshawe Hospital and is in a serious condition, although her injuries are not thought to be life-threatening.

A 47-year-old local man was arrested at the scene and is being questioned on suspicion of attempted murder.

One neighbour said: 'She is a really nice lady and her family are good people. She had just got out of her car when it happened.

'A man was driving past in a van and he drove onto the verge and got this guy off.

'The neighbour further up the road rushed out straight away to help her. I think there have been some flashpoints between her family and this guy in the past. But this is totally unexpected.'

Another resident said: 'The ambulance airmen had to cut through the gate so they could get the stretcher through. They were in the field for about half an hour before they took off again.'

Carol Leigh, who also lives on Shaw Road, said: 'I was stunned when I heard the sound and realised a helicopter had landed. I really hope she is okay.'

Detective Inspector Andy Aston, of Greater Manchester Police, said: 'This incident will understandably have caused a lot of concern and anxiety in the local area and I'm sure everyone in the community will be thinking of the woman and wishing her a full recovery after her ordeal.

'I also understand there may be lots of rumour and speculation about what has happened but I would stress that, as we are still at the outset of our investigation, it is important we establish all the facts first.

'However, what I can say is there is no threat to anyone else in the community and it is also important to stress that reports about this being a 'neighbour dispute' or 'neighbour feud' are wrong, so I would ask that people do not speculate.

'We will of course keep the community informed of any developments with this case.'

Anyone with information should call police on 101 or the independent Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.