Russian politician wanted for murder of Alexander Litvinenko marries student half his age "who didn"t know about the killing"

Russian politician wanted for murder of Alexander Litvinenko marries student half his age 'who didn't know about the killing' Andrei Lugovoy, 46, wed in a lavish ceremony to 23-year-old student Xenia Lugovoy is the chief suspect in the murder of Mr Litvinenko He said his bride had 'never heard' of the murdered agent

By
Amanda Williams

PUBLISHED:

20:52 GMT, 25 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

02:40 GMT, 26 April 2013

The Russian politician wanted for the murder of Alexander Litvinenko has married in a lavish ceremony to a young bride who had 'never heard' of the dead former KGB agent.

Wedding pictures, published in the Russian edition of Heat magazine, show a smiling Andrei Lugovoy, 46, dressed in a white suit next to his beaming bride, 23-year-old student Xenia.

According to British authorities Lugovoy – a former KGB agent – is the chief suspect in the murder of Mr Litvinenko, a critic of President Putin who worked for MI6 and Spanish secret services.

Wedding pictures, published in the Russian edition of Heat magazine, show a smiling Andrei Lugovoy, 46, dressed in a white suit next to his beaming bride, 26-year-old student Xenia

Wedding pictures, published in the Russian edition of Heat magazine, show a smiling Andrei Lugovoy, 46, dressed in a white suit next to his beaming bride, 26-year-old student Xenia

Mr Litvinenko was poisoned with radioactive polonium-210 while drinking tea at the Millennium Hotel in Mayfair.

Lugovoy, the alleged poisoner, is now an ultra-nationalist politician in the Russian State Duma. It has been reported he and his wife – half his age – met in a shop.

The over-the-top festivities took place in the celebrated Abrau-Durso winery located in the picturesque resort town of Gelenzhik on the Black Sea.

The Times reports that the festivities stretched over several days, with the couple changing outfits, from traditional Cossack outfits to football kits.

Mr Litvinenko was poisoned with radioactive polonium-210 while drinking tea at the Millennium Hotel in Mayfair

Mr Litvinenko was poisoned with radioactive polonium-210 while drinking tea at the Millennium Hotel in Mayfair

According to British authorities Lugovoy is the chief suspect in the murder of Mr Litvinenko - a critic of President Putin who worked for MI6 and Spanish secret services

According to British authorities Lugovoy is the chief suspect in the murder of Mr Litvinenko – a critic of President Putin who worked for MI6 and Spanish secret services

There were ice sculptures, singing and fireworks, and Russian vodka, it is said.

The nuptials have remained a secret since the ceremony took place in October.

In the Heat interview, Mr Lugovoy said his wife had no idea who he was when they met.

It was only when she saw him on a television programme, taking a polygraph test to deny involvement in the Litvinenko murder, that he said she expressed 'surprise'.

He said: 'It turns out she had never heard about this (Litvinenko) story. It was a long time ago and not many people remember it, basically just the politicians with whom I associate. She was of course very surprised.'

He added that he met his wife in a shop while buying his 'own products', a habit he has formed because he does not 'trust anyone else.'

Attempts to extradite Lugovoy to the UK have been rejected by the Russians.

He is accused of poisoning Mr Litvinenko with radioactive polonium-210 at a London hotel in 2006, and says the results of the polygraph test he took in Russia earlier this year prove he was not involved.

The Crown Prosecution Service has named Mr Lugovoi as the prime suspect in the case and is seeking his extradition to the UK to face trial.

But the former Russian intelligence officer has refused to surrender himself to British justice and has agreed only to provide video evidence to the inquest next year.

He has asked his lawyers to challenge rules which prevent lie-detector evidence being admitted in court because it is considered unreliable.

It has been claimed that Lugovoy and another former KGB agent, Dmitry Kovtun, poisoned Mr Litvinenko at the Millennium Hotel in London's Grosvenor Square.

Moscow has so far refused to co-operate with Mr Litvinenko's inquest or extradite Lugovo

U-turn over NHS database opt-out: Victory for privacy campaign as hunt backs down

U-turn over NHS database opt-out: Victory for privacy campaign as hunt backs down

By
James Chapman

PUBLISHED:

00:29 GMT, 26 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

00:29 GMT, 26 April 2013

Patients are to be given the right to opt out of an NHS database logging details of drinking habits, waist sizes and family medical histories.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt will today announce that – following protests from privacy campaigners – people will be allowed to instruct their GPs not to hand over their records to a centralised information bank.

When details of the scheme emerged earlier this year, ministers insisted there would be no opportunity to opt out.

If personal data has already been shared from a GP practice, a patient will still be able to insist on having it removed

If personal data has already been shared from a GP practice, a patient will still be able to insist on having it removed

Mr Hunt will insist better sharing of information throughout the NHS has ‘enormous potential’ to improve care.

But he will say the scheme can only command support if patients are given a say over how their personal information is used. He will say any patient that does not want personal data to be shared with the NHS’s central Health and Social Care Information Centre will have their objection respected.

If personal data has already been shared from a GP practice, a patient will still be able to insist on having it removed.

Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, will announce the new change

Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, will announce the new change

The British Medical Association, NHS England and the Royal College of GPs will be asked to raise awareness so patients are informed of the changes and know how they can object.

GPs will also be informed of the role they need to play in implementing this.

Around 700,000 patients are thought to have opted out of an existing scheme allowing GPs to share medical information with other parts of the NHS.

Responding to a review by Dame Fiona Caldicott, former head of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, Mr Hunt will say: ‘The review has been about striking the right balance between sharing health and care information to improve services and develop new treatments whilst respecting the privacy and wishes of the patient.

‘If patients are to see the benefits of these changes we must respect the wishes of the small number who would prefer not to share this information.’

The NHS database is part of Everyone Counts, a programme to extend the availability of patient information across the NHS.

GPs will be required to send monthly patient updates to a central database.

Health chiefs will be able to demand information on every patient, such as why they have been referred to a consultant. Another arm of the NHS will supply data on prescriptions.

Health chiefs admit ‘patient identifiable components’ will be included, such as postcodes and dates of birth.

The information will be used to analyse demand for services and improve treatment.

Nick Pickles, head of the Big Brother Watch privacy campaign group, said: ‘It is absolutely right the Government has affirmed its commitment to patients controlling their own medical information and respecting the choice of those who do not wish to have their medical records used for purposes outside direct care.’

Police must not treat 17-year-olds like adults, High Court rules in blow to Home Secretary"s custody rules

Police must not treat 17-year-olds like adults, High Court rules in blow to Home Secretary's custody rules
High Court rules that 17-year-olds must have the same protections as children in custodyTheresa May has opposed a change in the lawParents of children who committed suicide after run-ins with police

By
Matt Chorley, Mailonline Political Editor

PUBLISHED:

10:31 GMT, 25 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

11:22 GMT, 25 April 2013

Police must not treat 17-year-olds as adults when taken into custody under a High Court ruling today.

Teenager Hughes Cousins-Chang, who was arrested by Metropolitan Police but
subsequently found to be innocent, secured the legal victory over Home Secretary Theresa May.

The sixth-form college student from
south-east London was detained for more than 12 hours and strip searched at a police station after being suspected of a robbery. Outside court he said: ‘I am very pleased. It’s been a long journey.’

The legal victory was secured by Hughes Cousins-Chang, pictured today outside the High Court with Ann Thornber (right), the mother of Edward Thornber who committed suicide after a run-in with police

The legal victory was secured by Hughes Cousins-Chang, pictured today outside the High Court with Ann Thornber (right), the mother of Edward Thornber who committed suicide after a run-in with police

Under-16s are entitled to contact their parents or seek advice and assistance from an independent ‘appropriate’ adult but 17-year-olds are not given the same rights.

Two judges ruled today that the policy was ‘incompatible’ with human rights law.

Lord Justice Moses,
sitting with Mr Justice Kenneth Parker, said: ‘I conclude that it is
inconsistent with the rights of the claimant and his mother, enshrined
in Article 8 (of the European Convention on Human Rights) for the
secretary of state to treat 17-year-olds as adults when in detention.’

To do so ‘disregards the definition’
of a child in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the
‘preponderance of legislation affecting children and justice’, said the
judge.

Mr Cousins-Chang, from Tulse Hill, south London, is now aged 18. His mother is Carrlean Chang. Hughes brought today’s landmark challenge with the help of his uncle Christopher Chang.

The change in law has received backing from the Association of Chief Police Officers but is still rejected by Policing Minister Damian Green, Mr Lawton said.

The ruling follows the high profile
deaths of two 17-year-olds, Joe Lawton and Edward Thornber, who killed
themselves after getting into trouble with police.

The ruling marks a defeat for Home Secretary Theresa May who had opposed a change in the law

The ruling marks a defeat for Home Secretary Theresa May who had opposed a change in the law

Joe’s parents, Nick and Jane Lawton,
say that their son would ‘still be here today’ if he had received their
support when he was taken into custody for drink driving.

Joe,
from Stockport, Greater Manchester, was arrested when police stopped
him after he decided to drive his new car home from a party.

He
was kept overnight at Cheadle Heath police station in Greater
Manchester without his parents’ knowledge. Two days later he took his
own life, using the shotgun from the family farm.

The High Court ruled that 17-year-olds should be given the same protections as younger children, and not be treated as adults in custody

The High Court ruled that 17-year-olds should be given the same protections as younger children, and not be treated as adults in custody

Outside the court today an emotional Mrs Lawton
said: ‘We are obviously very pleased with the ruling. We knew right
from the first moment that if we had been there it could have all been
very different.

‘We are so pleased, but it is also tinged with such sadness and devastation.’

Mr Lawton, clutching a large
photograph of his son, said: ‘The judge did say that this law should
have been changed in 2010.’ He said all of their rights had been
‘breached’.

Mr Lawton stressed: ‘They need to
change this today. They need to get on the telephone right now. There
should be someone ringing every police station and telling them that
today, 17-year-olds have the right to have an appropriate adult.’

Ann Thornber, Edward’s mother, said her son had been sent a court summons ‘in error’ rather than a final warning for possessing 50p worth of cannabis.

Lacrosse star Edward, from Didsbury, Greater Manchester, was found hanged on September 15 2011.

Also holding a photograph of her son, Mrs Thornber said: ‘It’s just so
difficult. Obviously we are delighted that some good has come out of it,
but it’s not going to bring Joe or Edward back.

‘If it can stop another family going through the devastation we have been through, there has to be something positive.

‘The tragedy is that Edward and Joe
would still be here today if the law had been changed in 2010 but it
never happened and now we are suffering the consequences of that.’

Mum and daughter diagnosed with breast cancer on the same day… then have surgery on the same day too!

Mum and daughter diagnosed with breast cancer on the same day… then have surgery on the same day too!
Karen Williams and Diane Leach also had surgery on the same dayWere both diagnosed in February last year and are now recovering
Having a mother who had breast cancer doubles a woman's risk

By
Daily Mail Reporter

PUBLISHED:

10:57 GMT, 25 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

00:53 GMT, 26 April 2013

Karen Williams and her mother, Diane Leach, were both diagnosed with breast cancer on the same day

Karen Williams and her mother, Diane Leach, were both diagnosed with breast cancer on the same day

When Karen Williams found a lump in her breast, she and her husband went to break the bad news to her mother.

They were astounded when Diane Leach told them that she had found a lump in a breast, too.

Their worst fears were confirmed when both were subsequently diagnosed with breast cancer on the same day, having unwittingly been in the same queue for a mammogram.

The coincidences didn’t end there, however. For mother and daughter were then operated on by the same surgeon in the same hospital on the same day.

Mrs Williams, 41, and Mrs Leach, 65, are now well on the way to recovery from their cancers.

The chain of coincidence began after Mrs Williams, a mother of four from Ellesmere Port, Cheshire, discovered a pea-sized lump in her breast while showering.

‘I didn’t like the feel of it. Straight away I thought it was cancer,’ she said.

She and her husband Stuart Burnside went to tell her mother at her home in Chester.

‘I told her I’d found a lump, and she said, “So have I”. I thought she was joking,’ said Mrs Williams, who works as a beauty consultant at Boots.

‘I went to my GP and she went to hers. The doctor thought it might just be a cyst, but I knew.

‘I went for a mammogram a few days later and didn’t realise my mum was also going. Stuart saw her as we were in the queue.

‘It was a crazy situation to both be
diagnosed on the same day and my two sisters and my dad didn’t know what
to do with themselves – they didn’t know who to visit.’

Both women went for surgery at the Countess of Chester Hospital on the same day last year.

The mother and daughter also underwent surgery on the same day, at the same hospital

The mother and daughter also underwent surgery on the same day, at the same hospital

Mrs Leach, who has retired from a
carpet fitting business, underwent a mastectomy while her daughter had a
tumour removed from her right breast, tissue from her left and had
both breasts reduced.

They were even in adjoining wards after their surgery and could bang on the wall to each other.

‘On the day of our operation, the
consultant at the hospital couldn’t believe that we had been diagnosed
on the same day and would be undergoing our operation on the same day,’
Mrs Williams said. ‘She said that in 40 years in the NHS she had never
seen anything like it before.’

Even more astonishing is the fact that there were no genetic factors linking their diagnoses.

‘The breast cancer we had is not
hereditary and can happen to any woman, at any time. It is just a case
of bad luck that we were both diagnosed at the same time,’ Mrs Williams
said.

‘It was a really hard period to go
through but we have a wonderful family who supported us all the way
through it, and continue to be there for us.’

Mother and daughter were both treated at the Countess of Chester Hospital

Mother and daughter were both treated at the Countess of Chester Hospital

After receiving support from Macmillan
staff during their treatment, she was full of praise for their work and
the support they offer to patients.

‘The chemotherapy was really, really
severe and there were some really dark days when I thought I just
couldn’t carry on going,’ Mrs Williams said.

‘Having a wonderful family and
husband around me, as well as the support given by Macmillan, helped me
keep going and now, thankfully, I am starting to get back to some sort
of normality.

'I have gone back to work recently at
Boots, which I have loved and everyone has been great, but I think that I
might like to try a different career path and work with those affected
by cancer.

‘It has really had a profound effect on both me and my mum.’

Having finished their courses of
chemotherapy, the mother and daughter are now hosting a charity event
in aid of Macmillan Cancer Care.

Audit firms" "cosy" links to the Treasury: Damning report attacks Government"s relationship with "Big Four" companies

Audit firms' 'cosy' links to the Treasury: Damning report attacks Government's relationship with 'Big Four' companiesCommittee says accountants have 'inside knowledge' of tax loopholes

By
Becky Barrow

PUBLISHED:

00:44 GMT, 26 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

00:46 GMT, 26 April 2013

Margaret Hodge said accountants knew about tax loopholes

Margaret Hodge said accountants knew about tax loopholes

Britain's biggest accountancy firms have ‘an unhealthily cosy relationship with Government’, a damning report from MPs will warn today.

The Public Accounts Committee said that 'much' of the profit made every year by the 'Big Four' accountancy firms – Deloitte, Ernst & Young, KPMG and PricewaterhouseCoopers – comes from 'minimizing the tax paid' by their wealthy clients.

And MPs slammed the firms’ practice of parachuting their tax experts into government departments to provide tax advice.

This creates a ‘ridiculous conflict of interest,’ the committee said, because it allows the accountants to gain ‘inside knowledge’ of the tax system which they then use to help big companies avoid paying tax in the UK – leaving the taxpayer millions of pounds worse off.

Margaret Hodge, the Labour MP and chairman of the influential committee, said the way the firms operated had created a generation of ‘poacher-turned gamekeeper’ accountants with ‘inside knowledge’ of tax loopholes.

She said: ‘When those staff return to their firms, they have the very inside knowledge and insight to be able to identify loopholes in the new legislation.

‘[They can] advise their clients on how to take advantage of them.

‘The poacher turned gamekeeper for a time returns to poaching.’

The report, published today, said it is ‘inappropriate’ for tax experts from accountancy giants ‘to advise on tax law and then devise ways to avoid the tax.’

Mrs Hodge said these controversial secondments into the Treasury and HM Revenue and Customs should be ‘banned’ in a new code of conduct for tax advisers.

Tax bosses from the Big Four insisted the expertise that they provide is not sinister in the way that the report suggests

Tax bosses from the Big Four insisted the expertise that they provide is not sinister in the way that the report suggests

The PAC report comes amid a growing furore over the widespread tax avoidance by big companies in Britain, with some paying not a single penny in corporation tax.

Earlier this month [apr], the energy firm nPower admitted it has not paid UK corporation tax for three years despite making 766million in profits.

Amazon, Google and Starbucks have also come under fire for making millions in Britain while contributing little to the Treasury’s coffers.

Yesterday the accountancy firms insisted the number of staff seconded into the Treasury or HMRC is tiny.

PWC said it sends just two a year, while it is understood that Deloitte sends just one. Ernst & Young said it has had one person on secondment to HMRC over the last three years.

The report says a ‘substantial’ part of the Big Four’s revenue comes from tax advice, equal to an average of around 22 per cent of their total UK turnover.

It highlights how HM Revenue and Customs is waging a David and Goliath type battle with the accountancy firms due to the key Government department’s ‘limited’ resources.

HMRC employs around 65 tax specialists who are experts in how multinational companies operate the payments between their overseas divisions, while they have around 250.

Yesterday tax bosses from the Big Four insisted the expertise that they provide is not sinister in the way that the report suggests.

Bill Dodwell, head of tax policy at Deloitte, said: ‘We have responded to requests for secondees and have provided a small number of people with some tax experience to help the Treasury and HMRC teams working on policy initiatives.

‘Our secondees have all reported to experienced Treasury and HMRC officials and have never driven any policy initiative.

‘We do not believe that there has ever been any conflict of interest but would want to help ensure that there is no perception of conflict.’

Kevin Nicholson, head of tax at PwC, said: ‘We strongly disagree with the PAC’s conclusions about the role of large accountancy firms which seem to be based on a misunderstanding both of what we do and how we do it.

‘We operate under a clear code of conduct, professional guidelines, and work constructively with HMRC.

‘We provide technical insight to Government but only when asked and are never involved in deciding tax policy which is a matter for the Government.’

A Treasury spokesman said: ‘The suggestion that Government shouldn’t work with business and indeed anyone affected by its policies is totally absurd.’

House of Fraser manager sues employer for 1MILLION after "suffering crippling injuries picking up an earring"

House of Fraser manager sues employer for 1MILLION after 'suffering crippling injuries picking up an earring'Safaa Pate, 31, has handed High Court writ to clothing brand CoastShe reached for earring and 'heard clicking noise and felt her back give way'Coast claim she should have used a stick to pick up the jewellery in 2009

By
Martin Robinson

PUBLISHED:

12:25 GMT, 25 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

23:35 GMT, 25 April 2013

Incident: Safaa Pate, 31, outside London's High Court, where she is suing Coast for 1m claiming she suffered crippling back injuries at work whilst picking up a dropped earring

Incident: Safaa Pate, 31, outside London's High Court, where she is suing Coast for 1m claiming she suffered crippling back injuries at work whilst picking up a dropped earring

A FASHION shop manager who says she suffered crippling back injuries while bending down to pick up an earring at work is claiming more than 1million in damages.

Safaa Pate, 31, is suing her employers saying she was left in ‘unbearable pain’ after trying to retrieve the earring, which had fallen under a display unit.

She has had to undergo a spinal fusion operation for her ‘irreparable’ back injuries and now has no feeling in her left leg and foot. She also says she has not been able to work since.

The accident happened when she tried to move the display unit to reach the earring while she was running a clothes and accessories concession at a branch of the House of Fraser department store.

She is suing Coast Fashions, the owner of the concession, for more than 1million, blaming breaches of health and safety regulations for her career-destroying back problems. But the company denies any wrongdoing, saying Miss Pate ‘should have used a stick’ to retrieve the dropped earring and arguing that she was ‘the author of her own misfortune’.

In a writ lodged at the High Court in London, her barrister, Caroline McColgan, described how Miss Pate, of Bray in Berkshire, was injured at the store in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, on January 9, 2009.

‘She was performing a stock-take,’ she said. ‘As she was inventorying some jewellery, she dropped an earring onto the floor. It fell underneath one of the gondolas [display units].

‘She bent down and put her hand under the gondola to retrieve the earring. However, it had landed too far in from the edge and she was unable to reach it without moving the gondola. As she did so she heard a clicking noise and felt her back give way.

‘She experienced increasing levels of pain over the course of the day. When it became unbearable she was compelled to leave work and attend hospital for treatment.’

The barrister claims that Miss Pate’s employers were guilty of breaches of the Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 and the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992, and had ‘failed to take reasonable steps to provide her with a safe system of work’.

In its defence to the action, Coast
admits it ‘owed her a duty of care as her employer at the time’ but
denies responsibility for any harm she suffered.

Lawyers for the company, which is
based in Stanton Harcourt, Oxfordshire, said: ‘Miss Pate’s work was
light work. She had to move clothes … but she was not required to lift
or carry anything of substance.

‘It was not her responsibility nor
part of her job to move the stands and gondolas. Miss Pate alleges she
suffered injury when reaching for an earring which she had dropped on to
the floor. It is denied it was sensible or reasonable or other than a
breach of her own duty to take care to try to push or move the gondola
to reach the earring.

Court: Ms Pate says she hurt her back at this House of Fraser store in High Wycombe, and blames an alleged health and safety breach

Court: Ms Pate says she hurt her back at this House of Fraser store in High Wycombe, and blames an alleged health and safety breach

‘If she proves the earring fell under
the gondola, then she should have used a stick or other method of
reaching under the gondola to pull the earring out, or she should have
left it there until help was provided.

‘She should not have tried to move
the gondola. She acted unreasonably, in breach of her manual handling
training and was the author of her own misfortune.’

The case is due to come to trial in
November. After a preliminary hearing yesterday, Coast’s barrister,
Caroline Allen, said Miss Pate was making a ‘large damages claim’ in
excess of 1million.

Coast prides itself on its ‘elegant clothing for young women and ladies’.

Its range includes both formal and
semi-formal clothing and its clothes are sold in House of Fraser and
Debenhams. In 2011 a review called for a ‘rebalancing’ of safety laws
and a dramatic reduction in the number of rules in the workplace.

According to an estimate by the
Institute of Occupational Safety and Health at the time, worker
accidents cost businesses almost 8billion a year in compensation.

The government-commissioned study,
led by Professor Ragnar Lofstedt, of King’s College London, said the
safety rules were a financial burden on companies.

Some employees were exploiting the law to sue their bosses for incidents caused by their own carelessness.

The reforms on personal
responsibility were backed by the British Safety Council, which said
that in some cases employers were being unfairly held liable for the
‘negligence’ of their staff.

The Government supported the findings of the review and is planning to implement them.

It"s like living in a tanning salon! Family"s agony over neighbour"s solar panels that reflects sunlight directly into their home

It's like living in a tanning salon! Family's agony over neighbour's solar panels that reflects sunlight directly into their home
Trevor Chase, 81, fitted the panels on top of his bungalow in Devon His next door neighbour Robert Phipps says his home is now lit up
His family have to retreat behind thick curtains to hide from the glare
Torridge District Council said planning permission was not required

By
Luke Salkeld

PUBLISHED:

13:33 GMT, 25 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

23:59 GMT, 25 April 2013

Sitting in your conservatory is supposed to be a relaxing way of spending a sunny afternoon.

But for the Phipps family the sunshine means they are forced to retreat behind blackout curtains after their neighbour installed solar panels.

They say there is so much glare that their home is lit up ‘like a tanning salon’.

Robert Phipps says his neighbour's solar panels give off such a glare his family are permanently blinded by the light

Robert Phipps says his neighbour's solar panels give off such a glare his family are permanently blinded by the light

Robert Phipps, 51, says the position and angle of his neighbour’s roof means excessive amounts of light are reflected over his garden and into his property.

He claims his three-bed detached home is now filled with blinding light. He also fears the dazzle could permanently damage eyes and despite erecting a large fence, the garden is effectively out of bounds when the sun is shining.

Mr Phipps, from Torridge, Devon, who lives with his wife Anne, 58, and son Tom, 15, said: ‘There’s this huge wall of light pointing straight at you. It’s worse than looking directly at the sun. I’m really worried it’s causing us retinal damage.

‘It’s not much better inside. We just have to close the curtains and blinds and switch the lights on.

Eco-friendly: The offending solar panels which were put up by Travor Chase on his bungalow

Eco-friendly: The offending solar panels which were put up by Travor Chase on his bungalow

Glare: Robert Phipps at his house in Devon where his neighbour's solar panels reflect light straight into his house

Robert Phipps at his house in Devon where his neighbour's solar panels reflect light straight into his house

‘My son has blackout blinds in his room just so he can escape the glare to do his homework.

‘The conservatory is totally unusable as well. It’s almost like living in a giant tanning salon.’ The panels belong to neighbour Trevor Chase, 81.

Mr Phipps said: ‘I’ve invited him over to see the reflection for himself but he wouldn’t come. He thinks we’re whingeing. My problem is with the authorities – they need to do something about this.’

Mr Chase said: ‘We wanted to do our bit to save energy and help the planet. On a good day the panels power the lights and the cooker.

‘On the house in front we can see sets of solar panels and there is glare when the sun catches them, but we don’t mind. We just think, “live and let live”. It happens everywhere.’

But Mr Phipps, a former engineer, who is unable to work because of long-term health problems, is taking his fight to Communities and Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles.

A spokesman for Torridge District Council said the panels were erected under permitted development rights, so planning permission was not required.
Heat: Robert Phipps says the reflections caused by the solar panels are making his family's lives a misery

Heat: Robert Phipps says the reflections caused by the solar panels are making his family's lives a misery

Domestic solar panels became popular with homeowners in 2010 after the introduction of a tax-free Feed-in Tariffs scheme.

Households are paid for the energy they produce and use themselves and for the electricity they return to the National Grid.

But the payments are far above market rates, requiring heavy subsidies which rose 14-fold last year.

The tariff was introduced by Labour leader Ed Milliband when he was environment secretary in Gordon Brown’s government.

Earlier this year it was reported his scheme to encourage homeowners to install solar panels and wind turbines is set to cost families an extra 1billion in higher bills.

Penny Mills, chairman of the Torridge branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, said: ‘We believe solar panels should be installed on the roofs of agricultural and industrial buildings, as well as homes where appropriate.

‘However, the planning system should of course ensure there are no resulting problems affecting neighbouring properties.’

View from above: On sunny days light from these solar panels shines straight into the home of Robert Phipps

View from above: On sunny days light from these solar panels shines straight into the home of Robert Phipps

Cable warns recovery is a marathon, not a sprint as Britain misses triple-dip recession by a whisker

Cable warns recovery is a marathon, not a sprint as Britain misses triple-dip recession by a whisker
Overall figures better than expected easing pressure on George OsborneEconomy overall grew by 0.3% but construction slumps by 2.5%
Deputy PM Nick Clegg warns: 'We're not out of the woods yet'Labour blames coalition for slowest recovery for 100 years
Government borrowing remains stubbornly high at 120billionTory MPs accuse coalition of being 'timid' and 'complacent' about growth
IMF urged Britain to rethink pace of cuts in face of sluggish recovery

.

The service industries including hotels and transport accounted for most of the growth in the economy, while construction suffered a 2.5 per cent slump

The service industries including hotels and transport accounted for most of the growth in the economy, while construction suffered a 2.5 per cent slump

Business Secretary Vince Cable said the 'road to recovery would be a marathon, not a sprint'

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg insisted the economy was not out of the woods yet

Business Secretary Vince Cable said the 'road to recovery would be a marathon, not a sprint' while Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg insisted the economy was not out of the woods yet

A recession is defined as two
consecutive quarters of decline and Britain has suffered two since the
financial crisis struck – the first in 2008-09 and the second in
2011-12.

Growth was driven by the dominant
services sector, a bounce-back in North Sea oil and gas production, and
soaring demand for energy, as households turned up the heating during
the cold snap.

Output from services firms – which range from hairdressers and hotels to accountants and train operators – rose 0.6 per cent.

Industrial production rose 0.2 per
cent, thanks largely to a 3.2 per cent increase in ‘mining and
quarrying’ as North Sea production recovered from extended maintenance
work on crucial oil rigs at the end of last year. Meanwhile the energy
supply sector rose 0.5 per cent. But factory output fell 0.3 per cent
and construction was down 2.5 per cent as vast swathes of the economy
remained firmly in recession.

It also appears increasingly likely
that the Office for National Statistics will revise away last year’s
‘double dip’ recession.

The change in GDP in the last quarter
of 2011 was recently revised from minus 0.4 per cent to minus 0.1 per
cent – and further amendments are expected, particularly to the first
quarter of 2012, which was also just minus 0.1 per cent.

Lib Dem Business Secretary Vince
Cable said that the growth was ‘modestly encouraging’ but added that the
recovery was a ‘marathon, not a sprint’.

The government was hit by the news that an extra 70,000 were unemployed in the first three months of 2013

The government was hit by the news that an extra 70,000 were unemployed in the first three months of 2013

Meanwhile, Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls
made the startling claim that the deficit had only fallen because of
the ‘inheritance’ left by the Labour government.

He added: ‘These lacklustre figures
show our economy is only just back to where it was six months ago… If
we’re to have a strong and sustained recovery we need urgent action to
kickstart our economy and strengthen it for the long-term.’

John Mann, a Labour MP on the Commons
Treasury Select Committee, claimed the figures confirmed ‘the
Japan-isation of the British economy’.

Latest figures reveal how government borrowing remains stubbornly high at 120.6billion in 2012-13, down just 300million on the year before

Latest figures reveal how government borrowing remains stubbornly high at 120.6billion in 2012-13, down just 300million on the year before

He said: ‘In Japan, the economy
stagnated. Sometimes it went down to below zero, sometimes just above it
but it kept on this very low-growth trend and kept there for 15 years.

‘We are in the same cycle and breaking out of it will need a change of policy.’

Weak growth has pushed Mr Osborne’s
plans to cut the record deficit racked up by Labour off course, and
borrowing fell by just 300million to 120.6billion last year.

MP Brian Binley

Mark Field MP

Tory MPs Brian Binley (left) and Mark Field accused the Chancellor of being timid and complacent about the need for bold action to secure strong economic growth

But the return to growth will have
come as a huge relief to the Treasury just days after Britain suffered
another downgrade to its AAA credit rating, this time by ratings agency
Fitch, and the Chancellor was criticised by the International Monetary
Fund.

IMF chief economist Olivier Blanchard
said Mr Osborne was ‘playing with fire’ by pressing ahead with
austerity while the economy was so weak.

Now the Chancellor’s position will be bolstered as he prepares to defy any formal recommendations from the IMF to change course.

Rob Carnell, an economist at banking group ING, said the figures were ‘one in the eye’ for the IMF and the ratings agencies.

Of the major economies listed in the IMF's World Economic Outlook, the prediction of 0.7 per cent growth for 2013 puts the UK well below the US, Canada, Japan and much of Europe

Of the major economies listed in the IMF's World Economic Outlook, the prediction of 0.7 per cent growth for 2013 puts the UK well below the US, Canada, Japan and much of Europe

Getting better but by George, it’s Slow!, by Alex Brummer

The unrelenting gloom over Britain’s economic prospects has lifted, with growth making an unexpectedly bright reappearance in the first three months of the year.

Timing could not be better for George Osborne ahead of what had promised to be a bruising encounter with the examiners from the International Monetary Fund, who are due in London early in May.

The 0.3 per cent lift in output, after a decline in the final months of last year, was described as ‘lacklustre’ by the Chancellor’s critics on the Labour benches.

But it does mean that the fearful vision of a triple dip, so avidly discussed by broadcasters ahead of the data being published, has been vanquished.

Indeed, revisions to past data suggest the double dip – two successive downturns in the economy since a peak in 2008 – will also turn out to have been a fiction.

This does not mean Britain is in the midst of a storming upturn.

But what is absolutely clear is parts of the economy are, with the help of the shock treatment of record low interest rates, back to where they were before the ‘Great Recession’ of 2009-10.

Behind the emerging recovery is a sharp bounce back in the services sector, which includes everything from the high street to financial services and creative industries, and comprises some 80 per cent of the nation’s output.

International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Christine Lagarde

Mr Osborne has faced criticism for the lack of growth

International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing
Director Christine Lagarde suggested Mr Osborne should consider changing
the pace of his deficit reduction programme

It is now 1.5 per cent higher than a year ago and has fully recovered from the trough of the recession. The buoyancy of services is one of the reasons some 500,000 new private sector jobs have been created in Britain over the past year.

Unfortunately for the Chancellor, his desire to rebalance the UK economy back to manufacturing and exports is not going so well. Manufacturing remains deep in the doldrums, despite a sharp devaluation of the pound that was meant to help exports.

The depression in manufacturing can largely be blamed on the disastrous conditions in the eurozone, with unemployment in Spain surging to an incredible 27 per cent.

Construction is also disappointing, partly because of the exceptionally cold winter weather than dragged on for months.

However total industrial output is on the mend, largely as a result of greater output from North Sea oil and gas that was sharply down late last year.

The Chancellor had expected a difficult encounter with the IMF team.

The Fund’s top economist, Olivier Blanchard, has argued publicly that Britain is ‘playing with fire’ with its continuing austerity measures.

The latest numbers suggest that even with our biggest trading partner in the eurozone mired in chaos the UK economy is still capable of expanding, if not at the pace the Government would like to see.

Britain avoids triple-dip recession by a whisker as economy grows by 0.3%

Phew! Britain avoids triple-dip recession by a whisker as economy grows by 0.3%… and Osborne claims economy is 'healing at last'
Overall figures better than expected easing pressure on George OsborneEconomy overall grew by 0.3% but construction slumps by 2.5%
Deputy PM Nick Clegg warns: 'We're not out of the woods yet'Labour blames coalition for slowest recovery for 100 years
Government borrowing remains stubbornly high at 120billionTory MPs accuse coalition of being 'timid' and 'complacent' about growth
IMF urged Britain to rethink pace of cuts in face of sluggish recovery

. But the economy as a whole is still 2.6 per cent below the 2008 peak.

The growth was fuelled by the super-charged services industry, which saw output increase by 0.6 per cent. Industries, including mining and quarrying also contributed to the rise.

The struggling construction industry slumped by 2.5 per cent in the first quarter of 2013, wiping out growth of 0.8 per cent in the previous quarter.

But experts said the snow and dire wintery weather 'appears to have had a limited impact' on growth.

The service industries including hotels and transport accounted for most of the growth in the economy, while construction suffered a 2.5 per cent slump

The service industries including hotels and transport accounted for most of the growth in the economy, while construction suffered a 2.5 per cent slump

Business Secretary Vince Cable said the 'road to recovery would be a marathon, not a sprint'

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg insisted the economy was not out of the woods yet

Business Secretary Vince Cable said the 'road to recovery would be a marathon, not a sprint' while Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg insisted the economy was not out of the woods yet

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg told LBC 97.3 radio: 'That's a better number than I think many people had been anticipating, but it's one number for one quarter.

'We haven't triple-dipped, so that's obviously a welcome thing, but I don't want anyone to think that somehow we are out of the woods yet.

'We have still got a lot of work to do. The healing of the British economy is taking longer than we had anticipated and we will continue to work hard to make sure the country and the economy grow from strength to strength.'

There was also a strong boost from the transport, storage and communications sector, which saw growth of 1.4 per cent.

One impact of the cold winter weather was a surge in demand for electricity and gas saw output from the energy supply sector rise 0.5 per cent.

The retail sector fell in January and March, but a strong February helped it notch up growth of 0.3 per cent overall in the quarter.

But fears remain over the strength of the recovery, with key sectors such as construction and manufacturing still well below the peak in 2008.

Construction activity plunged by 2.5 per cent in the first quarter and still remains 18.1 per cent below pre-financial crisis levels.

Business Secretary Vince Cable, on a visit to Brazil, said: 'We've always said the road to recovery would be a marathon, not a sprint.

'Today's figures are modestly encouraging and taken alongside other indicators such as employment figures, suggest that things are going in the right direction.

'However there is still a long way to go and some serious issues such as the systemic lack of bank lending to SMEs, the weakness in the construction sector and the need to press further on trade and exports, which I am doing now on my visit to Brazil.

'These issues all need to be addressed before people feel like the economy is genuinely starting to recover.'

The government was hit by the news that an extra 70,000 were unemployed in the first three months of 2013

The government was hit by the news that an extra 70,000 were unemployed in the first three months of 2013

But Mr Osborne faced criticism from the left over the slow pace of the recovery.

Labour's Ed Balls said: '“These
lacklustre figures show our economy is only just back to where it was
six months ago and continue the picture of flatlining we have seen since
the last spending review.

'David Cameron and George Osborne have now given us the slowest recovery for over 100 years,' the shadow chancellor added.

Mark Sewotka, general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services, said: 'While Osborne and his millionaire allies will no doubt celebrate this
pitiful performance, the real effects of his catastrophic handling of
our economy are being felt by millions of people across the country.

'Osborne is not just incompetent, he is an economic vandal who doesn't
deserve to be in a job, let alone have his hands on the nation's purse
strings.

'As part of an alternative of investment in our economy, the very
obvious link should be made between the need to boost construction and
the millions of people waiting for social housing.'

Ahead of the release of the figures,
growing anxiety among Tory MPs about the state of the economy spilled
into the open, with the coalition facing charges of being 'complacent'.

Conservative
Mark Field said: ‘When it came in, the coalition was pretty complacent
about growth. There wasn’t quite the urgency or passion to get things
moving at the outset.

‘We
still continue to flunk the decisions on big infrastructure projects
like nuclear power. We’ll also fudge through on aviation. I don’t think
it’s a very satisfactory situation.

‘Hitherto
it has been George Osborne’s great success that the markets have been
convinced we have a plan, but if market sentiment were to turn, it could
be fatal,' he told London Loves Business.

And Brian Binley complained: 'Our Chancellor is not a man usually found lacking in confidence or ability.

'That
is precisely why it is so curious that he has proven to be so timid on
the one, over-riding issue so fundamental to the life of this
Parliament: restoring economic growth,' he told the Daily Telegraph.

Latest figures reveal how government borrowing remains stubbornly high at 120.6billion in 2012-13, down just 300million on the year before

Latest figures reveal how government borrowing remains stubbornly high at 120.6billion in 2012-13, down just 300million on the year before

The economy is said to be in recession if it shrinks for two quarters in a row.

The UK was plunged into recession five years ago in the wake of the global financial crash.

The
economy shrank for the last three quarters of 2008 and the first two of
2009, and though the initial recession then came to an end, subsequent
growth was sluggish and punctuated by setbacks.

The second dip came at the end of 2011, which lead to three quarters of negative growth lasting into the middle of 2012.

After the Olympics, the economy bounced back with impressive growth of 0.9 per cent in from July to September.

But
the good news was short lived and in the last quarter of 2012 the
economy shrank again by 0.3 per cent as the Olympic effects evaporated.

Britain came close to a triple-dip recession during the stop start recovery in after the 1973 oil crisis.

MP Brian Binley

Mark Field MP

Tory MPs Brian Binley (left) and Mark Field accused the Chancellor of being timid and complacent about the need for bold action to secure strong economic growth

The results come after a week of dire economic news for Mr Osborne, in which the UK’s AAA credit rating was again downgraded, unemployment rose by 70,000 and the International Monetary Fund warned he was playing with fire’.

Yesterday the Chancellor moved to beef up his flagship Funding for Lending scheme (FLS) in an attempt to help more small businesses secure loans, after they dropped by three per cent last year.

Under the original scheme, banks can access low-interest funding in return for lending to households and businesses. Now, they are being told that the amount of funding available will be increased up to ten-fold when based on lending to SMEs – defined as businesses with a turnover of less than 25 million.

Bank figures last week showed net lending to companies slumped by 4.8 billion in the three months to February, declining by 2.8 billion in February alone.

Six years after the financial crash which brought the economy to its knees, there is still little to cheer.

Latest unemployment figures revealed a rise of 70,000 in the numbers out of work. Ministers point to an extra 1.2million private sector jobs but were disappointed to see an end to recent drops in jobless statistics.

Borrowing fell only slightly last year to 120.6billion, just 300million lower than in 2011-12.It was worse than City hopes for a 117 billion deficit in the financial year.

Asked if was ‘getting a bit panicky’ about the economy's parlous state, Mr Osborne replied: ‘No, no, no. The answer is no.’

Total public sector net debt was a record 1.186 trillion in March, equating to 75.4 per cent of GDP and up from 1.1 trillion a year earlier.

The International Monetary Fund last
week cut the UK's growth forecast growth from 1 per cent to 0.7 per cent
for this year and 2014's projection from 1.9 per cent to 1.5 per cent,
noting the recovery was 'progressing slowly'.

IMF chief Christine Lagarde departed
from long-standing support for Mr Osborne, suggesting a change of course
was needed from his austerity plans.

She said: 'We have said that should
growth abate, should growth be particularly low, then there should be
consideration to adjusting by way of slowing the pace.

'Consideration should be given if growth weakens… the growth numbers are certainly not particularly good,' she said last week.

Of the major economies listed in the IMF's World Economic Outlook, the prediction of 0.7 per cent growth for 2013 puts the UK well below the US, Canada, Japan and much of Europe

Of the major economies listed in the IMF's World Economic Outlook, the prediction of 0.7 per cent growth for 2013 puts the UK well below the US, Canada, Japan and much of Europe

International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Christine Lagarde

Mr Osborne has faced criticism for the lack of growth

International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Christine Lagarde suggested Mr Osborne should consider changing the pace of his deficit reduction programme

IMF chief economist Olivier Blanchard has accused Mr Osborne of ‘playing with fire’ by pressing ahead with cuts despite a lack of growth.

Mr Blanchard has been a longstanding critics of the UK’s austerity programme. Last week he said: ‘The UK economy has turned out to be somewhat weaker than had been foreseen, so our view is that the pace of consolidation ought to be reconsidered, and we’ll want to come and have some discussions about that.’

It also emerged that Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood had privately voided frustration at the different approaches to the economy taken by Mr Osborne, David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Vince Cable.

Sir John Gieve, the former deputy governor of the Bank of England, also questioned whether the Chancellor is truly in charge of his economic policy.

Member of hacking group Anonymous UK "raped woman in Occupy London campsite on steps of St Paul"s"

Member of hacking group Anonymous UK 'raped woman in Occupy London campsite on steps of St Paul's'
Malcolm Blackman, 45, allegedly raped the woman twice in her tentActivist frequently spoke to the media during the anti-capitalist protestHe tied victim's hands behind her back with cable ties in attack, court hearsBlackman spoke to the media on behalf of Anonymous, Old Bailey is told

By
Rob Cooper

PUBLISHED:

10:32 GMT, 25 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

12:57 GMT, 25 April 2013


'Attack': Malcolm Blackman, 45, allegedly twice raped a woman inside the Occupy London protest camp

'Attack': Malcolm Blackman, 45, allegedly twice raped a woman inside the Occupy London protest camp

A member of the notorious 'hacktivist' group Anonymous UK raped a woman twice inside the Occupy London camp, a court heard.

Malcolm Blackman, 45, allegedly took advantage of the woman, aged in her 40s, after she passed out drunk in her tent on the steps of St Paul's Cathedral.

In another incident he tied her hands behind her back with cable ties before forcing himself on her, jurors heard.

Giving evidence from behind a screen, she told the Old Bailey how she started spending weekends sleeping at the Occupy campsite in November 2011, and was quickly befriended by Blackman, who she described as a 'leader'.

'He was part of a group calling themselves Anonymous UK,' she said.

'He was a welcoming sort of character, people turned to him and said what do we do about this, he seemed to be a leader sort of person.'

The pair began a secret relationship when Blackman made a pass at her in their tent just before New Year's Eve.

She was kissing him in the tent on January 14 last year when he suddenly slipped cable ties over her hands and forced her onto the floor of the tent.

Breaking down in tears she said: 'He pulled my hands behind me, grabbed hold of my arms and put something around my wrists and tied them very tightly.'

She was sobbing, but said she was too shocked and afraid to say no.

'I told him he's hurt me, but he didn't seem bothered, he just said said next time we'll have to use a code word. I just got dressed and lay there crying.'

The following week, the pair were talking in the tent when she fell asleep, and woke up to find him forcing himself on her.

'I was scared of how he would react if I told anyone,' she said.

'I had seen him get angry with other people in the camp, and I thought if I started talking about it he wouldn't agree.'

Protest camp: The victim was allegedly attacked twice by Blackman, 45, inside the camp

Protest camp: The victim was allegedly attacked twice by Blackman, 45, inside the camp

Blackman frequently spoke to the media on behalf of Anonymous UK during the anti-capitalist Occupy London protest, which was finally broken up by police in February last year.

Prosecutor David Povall asked the victim: 'And who would deal with the press from that group'

She replied: 'From the Anonymous UK group, it was Malcolm who was dealing with the press.'

She said Anonymous camped closest to the cathedral, with tents pitched on land owned by St Paul's.

They would go out to different protests during the day, before drinking in the camp in the evening.

The victim, who cannot be named, lived at home in south London during the week, and slept in the Occupy tent at weekends.

Anonymous UK are the British wing of the global hacking group, who carry out cyber-attacks on capitalist targets and governments.

Blackman, of Weston-super-Mare, Avon, denies two counts of rape.

The trial continues.

Protest: Blackman frequently spoke to the media on behalf of Anonymous UK during the anti-capitalist Occupy London protest

Protest: Blackman frequently spoke to the media on behalf of Anonymous UK during the anti-capitalist Occupy London protest