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Wednesday, 23 November 2011

parents of missing Madeleine McCann are to join alleged victims of media intrusion in giving evidence to the press standards inquiry.


The Leveson Inquiry, sitting in central London, will also hear evidence from Sheryl Gascoigne, the ex-wife of former England footballer Paul Gascoigne, lawyer Mark Lewis - who represents phone hacking victims - and journalist Tom Rowland.

On Tuesday, comedian Steve Coogan claimed he was the victim of two "sting operations" by the News of the World.

He told the inquiry that showbiz reporter Rav Singh - who used to work for the defunct tabloid - called him in August 2002 and forewarned him that he was to be subject of a sting operation where a girl would call him and tempt him to reveal personal details about himself.

"She would try to entice me to talking about intimate details of her and my life," Coogan said. "And I was told by Rav Singh that Andy Coulson would be listening to the call." He said he took the call but did not divulge any details. He acted nonchalant so Mr Singh did not get into any trouble, the hearing was told.

Of the second occasion, in April 2004 when Mr Coulson had become editor, Coogan said: "I was in a relationship that was breaking up because of an affair I had. He (Mr Singh) called me and said, 'look, I want to help you'. I begged him not to put in some of the more lurid details of the story.

"He said that if I confirm certain aspects, the more lurid details would be left out... After that, my manager received a phone call from Andy Coulson saying they had recorded the whole phone call and they were going to print it in the newspaper."

The former adviser to supermodel Elle Macpherson also gave evidence at the hearing. Mary-Ellen Field, an alleged hacking victim, said she lost her job because she had been suspected of leaking stories. The Australian said she was accused of speaking to the media because she was an "alcoholic" and was persuaded to spend time in a clinic.

Lord Justice Leveson also heard evidence from the parents of murdered schoolgirl Diane Watson, who called for a change in libel laws so newspapers could be sued for defaming dead people. Margaret and James Watson said the negative reporting about their daughter led to their teenage son committing suicide. The couple's 16-year-old daughter was stabbed to death by fellow pupil Barbara Glover during the morning break at Whitehill Secondary School in Glasgow in April 1991.

The inquiry will hear from actress Sienna Miller, Harry Potter author JK Rowling and former F1 boss Max Mosley, at a later date.

Sixteen people have been arrested in dawn raids as part of an HM Revenue & Customs investigation into a suspected £4.3 million construction VAT fraud.



HMRC investigators and police raided 19 business and residential addresses in Preston, Liverpool, Blackpool, Accrington and Hastings.

The arrests come after a long-running HMRC investigation, codenamed Operation Grassland, into an alleged VAT fraud and laundering, chiefly in the building industry.

Peter Hollier, HMRC assistant director of criminal investigation, said: “Operation Grassland is an HMRC-led investigation targeting a suspected organised crime gang involved in VAT repayment fraud and the laundering of the criminal profits.

“Further details cannot be provided at this early stage, as our investigation is continuing. However, tax fraud and attempts to launder the proceeds of crime are treated extremely seriously by HMRC, and we will relentlessly pursue any individuals or crime gangs believed to be attacking the Public Revenue in this way.”

All those arrested have been bailed pending further investigations.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Latin Kings charged in Texas slaying

 

Fifteen members of the Almighty Latin Kings have been indicted for alleged roles in 19 murders, including slayings of juveniles and a pregnant woman. One of the murders was in Big Spring, Texas, according to the indictment, made public Friday. The murders were done to control gang territory and further their illegal activities, according to the U.S. Justice Department. The indictment also alleges that two Chicago police officers robbed people for the gang, sometimes while in uniform, the Sun-Times reported. Several Latin King members already had been convicted in connection with a 2008 drive-by shooting in Big Spring where six people were shot with an AK-47.  The victims included a woman who was 26 weeks pregnant at the time. She and another victim died of their wounds, the department reported.

Devastating report into the failures of police and care agencies to protect teenage girls who have been groomed, raped and sold by male gangs, most of whom are Asian.


The mother of one teenager from Leeds, who attempted suicide after a gang rape, said her daughter was the victim of a 'broken system.'

'Everyone failed her,' she told The Times. 'There was no sharing of information. 

'They (police) had the names and knew where they (abusers) worked yet the men who did this have never once been arrested or spoken to by the police.'

West Yorkshire Police vowed to look again at the case to see if 'there is evidence that can help bring evil men to book'.

Growing worry: CCTV footage shows now jailed gang members Mohammed Romaan Liaqat and Abid Mohammed Saddique meeting girls as they cruise the streets of Derby in a BMW

Growing worry: CCTV footage shows now jailed gang members Mohammed Romaan Liaqat and Abid Mohammed Saddique meeting girls as they cruise the streets of Derby in a BMW

Jailed: Saddique, left, and Liaqat, right, were leaders of the paedophile ring in Derby and committed a catalogue of offences against vulnerable young girls
Jailed: Saddique, left, and Liaqat, right, were leaders of the paedophile ring in Derby and committed a catalogue of offences against vulnerable young girls

Jailed: Saddique, left, and Liaqat, right, were leaders of the paedophile ring in Derby and committed a catalogue of offences against vulnerable young girls

Children's charity Barnardos has been calling on the Government to take action on child exploitation since January with its Cut Them Free campaign.

 

 

 

Other caregivers have also suggested that political sensitivities are to blame for a near paralysis of the systems designed to keep children safe.

JOSIE'S STORY

A silhouette of a teenage girl on white background with a mobile phone


Like most little girls, Josie lived for horses. She had an exemplary school record with 100 per cent attendance rate.

But at 13, the teen from Keighley, West Yorkshire, was given a laptop and quickly became addicted to Facebook.

Her father was then warned his daughter was spending a lot of time with older Asian men.

One even told the father he would 'slit his throat' when he answered the phone to him.

From there it got worse. Josie started disappearing overnight and began drinking. 

Yet, when her father locked his daughter in her room to protect her, it was he who got into trouble with the police for false imprisonment.

He told The Times he has since collected every scrap of evidence to prove his daughter is being sexually exploited by gangs.

'The police kept saying that they're waiting until Josie realises it's wrong,' he said.

'Is that really the best they can do?

CHARLOTTE'S STORY

Rear view of a woman silhouetted against window light.


When the father of 14-year-old Charlotte looked at his daughter's Facebook profile, he discovered 'loads of male, Asian friends.'

Concerned, he started to restrict his daughter's activities. The teen from Keighley, West Yorkshire, then went to live with her mother.

He tracked down all the names and addresses of her friends he believed were involved and passed them on to police.

Meanwhile her school was reporting Charlotte had begun arriving looking 'dirty and extremely thin'. 

She was going missing for days at a time, according to agency notes.

By October last year she 'admitted she has slept with different Asian males.'

The police told Charlotte's father they hoped to take action against the men.

That was 17 months ago and he is still waiting.

'There's no will to deal with this issue in Keighley' he said.

'What chance have these kids got if that's the attitude of the police?'

There is a culture 'which assumes that once a girl gets to 14 she's beyond hope of intervention - it's too late,' a source told The Times.

Police and care agencies often say that they cannot take action against suspects without the victim's co-operation. 

However, a 2008 protocol established by the force and West Yorkshire's five local authorities states: 'Adults involved in child sexual exploitation... should be treated as child sex abusers and subjected to the full rigour of the criminal law.'

NICOLA'S STORY

A pregnant woman silhouetted against a set of blinds.


Nicola is the only case in six who was groomed by a gang of white men. 

The abuse began when she was 12 after a visit to Leeds from her family home in Bradford.

Nicola had thought they were 'really nice people' but by 13 she was doing drugs - 'everything but heroin'.

She was raped twice. The first time she was 'drugged up to the eyeballs' and remembers being dragged into a bedroom and gang raped.

Afterwards her mother took Nicola to the police station, only to be told that 'we don't deal with that here'.

In desperation Nicola's mother took her daughter to New Zealand and away from the gang.

She let her return four months later. 

Nicola did return to her old haunts but discovered it wasn't really what she wanted.

'I used to think it was so exciting,' she told The Times. 'But after New Zealand, it was like seeing them with another pair of eyes.'

She hasn't been back since.

Children's minister, Tim Loughton, suggested two weeks ago that the plan will call on councils to act with a 'much greater urgency' to identify victims of sexual exploitation while taking 'robust action against those who commit these appalling crimes.'

As well as the gang rape case of the girl in Leeds, five new cases have been highlighted by The Times' investigation.

No one has been prosecuted for sex exploitation in any of them. Only one of the girls in the six cases had been in care. 

One was groomed by white students, but in all the other cases, the perpetrators were Asian, mostly of Pakistani origin.

This pattern of abuse at the hands of male Asian gangs in the West Yorkshire area has been highlighted before, but never formally acknowledged.  

In January the Asian ringleaders of a gang in Derby, who brought a ‘reign of terror’ to a city’s streets, targeting and grooming young girls for horrific sexual abuse, were jailed.

Abid Saddique and Mohammed Liaqat were told they would serve a minimum of 11 years and eight years respectively before they could be considered for release.

A DfE spokesman refused to reveal the contents of the National Action Plan but said: 'We are publishing an action plan this week and that will draw on work around the country to prevent sexual exploitation, identify those at risk and support victims.

'It will address the challenge of securing prosecutions and the need for robust action against perpetrators.



Police were in dark over foreign axe killer living in UK

 

COPS did not know an East European axe murderer was living in the UK until he caused a killer car crash, a court heard yesterday. Intars Pless, 34, hacked through a friend's throat in his native Latvia, then moved to Britain after he got out of jail. But Lincoln Crown Court heard police can only check a foreign national's record if they break the law here. So Pless's horrific crime came to light only after he drove into moped rider Valentina Planciunene, 37, while over twice the limit. Stuart Lody, prosecuting, told the court: "On the night of Valentine's Day he decided it would be a perfectly good idea to drink a very large quantity of whisky. Surprised "He and a friend spent a considerable period of time drinking whisky and driving around. "During the driving he was possibly drinking whisky as well. An empty whisky bottle was found in the boot of the car. "At the time of the collision he was heavily under the influence of alcohol. His ability to drive would have been severely impaired." Pless was convicted of causing death by dangerous driving after the jury heard he left her dead in the road in Wyberton Fen, Lincs. He was told he faces a long jail term. The judge also called for his deportation.

Thomas Cook is running low on cash and has begun talks with its banks

Thomas Cook
Thomas Cook planes parked at Munich airport last year. Photograph: Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

Thomas Cook is running low on cash and has begun talks with its banks, in an effort to increase its borrowings to tide it over the slow Christmas season.

Shares in the tour operator fell by more than three quarters on Tuesday morning after it admitted that trading has "deteriorated" in recent months. It is now seeking to borrow more in the short term, and has postponed the publication of its financial results until the talks are concluded.

Shares in the company, which abruptly lost its chief executive three months ago, tumbled by more than 75% to 9.3p at one stage.

Tour operators tend to run low on cash in the slower winter months, but even so, the news stunned the City. Only last month, Thomas Cook said it had agreed a further £100m in short-term funding from its banks explicitly for the winter lull.

A spokeswoman said that discussions with banks were merely a "prudent" and "pro-active" move. Thomas Cook still has cash in the bank, she said, but wants to be prepared for any unexpected shocks over Christmas. All customer orders are protected by the ATOL protection scheme and equivalent programmes, she added. "Thomas Cook still has cash on the balance sheet, but because conditions have deteriorated further [since October], particularly around trading, some of that extra funding has been used up. Thomas Cook feels it needs more headroom to be prudent," she said.

Interim CEO Sam Weihagen added: "It's business as usual. We are trading within all out business, and financial, covenants, we have all the protection in place like any other travel company, and customers should not worry at all."

The company is seeking roughly £100m more in its latest talks. It made the decision to renew talks with banks on financing after realising the scale of the recent downturn in an internal trading update meeting yesterday.

Chicago cops accused of working for Latin Kings held without bond

 

Two Chicago police officers accused of committing armed robberies at the will of alleged Latin King members were ordered held without bond Monday. Alex Guerrero, 41, and Antonio C. Martinez Jr., 40, were the ones in handcuffs Monday afternoon, appearing before a federal judge in orange Porter County jumpsuits. The duo were named in a 46-page indictment unsealed Friday that alleges a racketeering conspiracy among fifteen Latin King gang members or associates. Guerrero's attorney, Kevin Milner, fought for his client to be on home detention. He said his clients' parents offered to put up their $175,000 Chicago home for their son's pretrial release. "For Mr. Guerrero to violate his bond, his parents would be on the street homeless," Milner said. "I've known Mr. Guerrero for 15 years. He would rather slit his wrists than do that to his parents." Milner claimed there was no evidence against Guerrero, and that the father of six had no criminal record. According to the indictment, Guerrero and Martinez Jr., committed armed robberies of drug dealers in Illinois and Indiana while in uniform and under the guise of performing legitimate police operations. They allegedly turned over the drugs and money to the Latin Kings in exchange for about $10,000 in kickbacks. Assistant U.S. Attorney David Nozick argued that Guerrero and Martinez were dangers to the community after using Chicago police vehicles, service weapons and uniforms to rob people at gunpoint. Nozick also said Guerrero was a flight risk, as his wife has family in Mexico and he faces up to life in prison.  Magistrate Judge Andrew Rodovich ordered Guerrero held without bond. Milner said they were disappointed with the decision, and that his client would be sitting in jail for at least a year pending trial for a crime he did not commit.  "I don't know who will give him that year back," Milner said. Martinez Jr., did not contest being held pending trial.

Police on the Costa del Sol were yesterday hunting a gang who stole £1million of cocaine from a warehouse where authorities held seized drugs before destroying them.

Police on the Costa del Sol were yesterday hunting a gang who stole £1million of cocaine from a warehouse where authorities held seized drugs before destroying them.

The thieves used laser equipment to cut through the metal doors of the store in the docks at Malaga, the capital of the southern Spanish holiday coast. 

They struck when there were no security guards on duty and  it had been left to the paramilitary Civil Guard to watch the building.

The drugs were being stored in a warehouse in Malaga when the thieves struck

The drugs were being stored in a warehouse in Malaga when the thieves struck

 

Drugs seized by police and customs are stored there for tests to be carried-out before the courts issue orders to destroy them.


Sunday, 20 November 2011

Former Royal Marine Carl Davies was raped before being stabbed and his body hurled into a roadside ravine

Brutal: Ex-Marine Carl Davies was raped before being killed and dumped in a ravine, a new post mortem has revealed

Brutal: Ex-Marine Carl Davies was raped before being killed and dumped in a ravine, a new post mortem has revealed

Former Royal Marine Carl Davies was raped before being stabbed and his body hurled into a roadside ravine close to a military barracks on the paradise island of Reunion, a new post-mortem has confirmed.

A second examination of the body of the Kent man revealed he had been sexually assaulted prior to being beaten about the head and knifed in the stomach. 

The first bungled autopsy put his death down to an accident. 

As revealed by MailOnline yesterday, his family believe his murder was covered up to protect tourism there, which accounts for 70per cent of GDP.

A team of British detectives is due to arrive on the island to assist investigations, sources indicated at the weekend. 

On the night of his death on November 9, Mr Davies had been out drinking in St Denis, the capital of Reunion, with two sailors who were serving on board the Cyprus-registered MV Atlantic Trader.

Mr Davies, 33, was employed on the container ship as a guard against Somali pirates who regularly prey on ships in the Indian ocean.


Watchdog warns over shooting probe

 

An investigation into the death of Mark Duggan, whose fatal shooting by police triggered riots across the country, has still to establish the sequence of events concerning a handgun found at the scene, the police watchdog said. The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) said that was a key element in its probe. But it said that the sequence of events was not yet known, despite a report in Saturday's Guardian that the investigation had found no forensic evidence that he was carrying a non-police-issue gun. The newspaper, in a story headlined "Revealed: man whose shooting triggered riots was not armed", said a gun collected by Mr Duggan earlier in the day was recovered 10ft-14ft (3m-4.25m) away, on the other side of a low fence from his body, and that he was killed outside the vehicle he was travelling in, after a police marksman fired twice. On the day Mr Duggan was shot, there is overwhelming evidence that he had obtained a firearm, but the investigation is considering whether he had the weapon in his possession when he was shot, the Guardian said. The IPCC said in a statement on Saturday night that the investigation was examining a range of issues. "This is a complex investigation that involves gathering information including witness statements, pathology, forensics and ballistics analysis and we have stated to the coroner that it will be completed within four to six months," the statement said. "One of the key elements we will seek to establish is the sequence of events concerning the non-police issue firearm found at the scene. That has not been established yet, contrary to what has been written in the Guardian article today. "We would urge people not to rush to judgment until our investigation is complete and they have the opportunity to see and hear the full evidence themselves." The statement said the IPCC believes the headline on the Guardian's article was "misleading, speculative and wholly irresponsible".

Hunted down: Saif al-Islam Gaddafi looks dejected and withdrawn following his capture

Looking haggard and fearful, Saif Al Islam Gaddafi cowers in terror after his capture by Libyan fighters yesterday.

His old swagger gone, the British-educated son of Colonel Gaddafi was clearly terrified that he might encounter the same fate as his father, who was killed a month ago.

Saif could yet face the death penalty for his crimes, but Libyan officials promised he would, at least, receive a fair trial. That trial could prove highly embarrassing for influential British figures – including Prince Andrew and Tony Blair – if Saif reveals details of the close links he enjoyed with them.


Hunted down: Saif al-Islam Gaddafi looks dejected and withdrawn following his capture

 

The 39-year-old former playboy and womaniser was captured trying to flee across the border into Niger. A mob of angry protesters tried to storm the plane but were beaten back by soldiers under orders to keep their prisoner alive so he could face justice.

Only three weeks ago Saif had vowed to avenge his father’s death, declaring defiantly: ‘I am alive and free and willing to fight to the end.’

 

 

But last night he was facing the likelihood of trial in his own country –  or extradition to the International Criminal Court in The Hague on charges of crimes against humanity. 

Thousands of Libyans celebrated in the streets after hearing that the fugitive, who remained loyal to his father’s murderous regime to the end, had been captured without a struggle.

The dictator’s heir was intercepted near the oil town of Obari as he tried to reach the frontier in a 4x4 vehicle, accompanied by three bodyguards. 

Desert fighters acting on a tip-off fired into the air and ground to bring the car to a halt.
As they checked the identity of those inside, Saif told them his name was Abdelsalam – which means ‘servant of peace’ – but he was immediately recognised and taken away by the fighters.



Saturday, 19 November 2011

Four police officers stabbed in north London

 

Four police officers were stabbed as they tried to detain a man after a disturbance in north London, Scotland Yard said on Saturday. Police said officers were called to an incident shortly before 9 a.m. on the main road in Kingsbury where they had tried to speak to a man before he ran into a butcher's shop and grabbed a knife. "Officers followed the man in an attempt to detain him and were subsequently assaulted," Chief Superintendent Dal Babu told reporters. "Four male police constables suffered stab injuries during the incident and have been taken by the London Ambulance Service to hospital." One was stabbed in the stomach, a second suffered head injuries and stab wound to his arm, the third was stabbed in the leg, and the last sustained stab wounds to a hand and also suffered a broken hand. Witnesses told media the suspect had been shouting at police beforehand and up to 10 officers had tried to calm him down. A 32-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder and is being quizzed at a police station in the area.

Friday, 18 November 2011

SIX people have been arrested for their involvement with a gang which stole jewellery from elderly people

 

SIX people have been arrested for their involvement with a gang which stole jewellery from elderly people. They are believed to be responsible for more than 120 robberies in 19 provinces throughout Spain, including Almeria, where some of the members were based. Around 450 pieces of jewellery have been recovered and will be exhibited at the Almeria Guardia Civil station for owners to identify. The way they operated was by one of them asking people over the age of 65 for directions to distract them while taking their belongings, or in other cases, they would offer to sell them cheap jewellery which they put on them while removing the valuable items they were wearing. They travelled in high-range vehicles all over Spain and chose small towns, isolated areas, and locations surrounding homes or centres for the elderly. On some occasions if the victim resisted, they would take the jewellery by force and had knocked down some of the victims.

ONE of Europe’s most powerful hashish smugglers was arrested in Estepona

 

ONE of Europe’s most powerful hashish smugglers was arrested in Estepona, National Police said. The arrest of the 33-year-old man was part of an operation against drug traffickers based in Huelva in which more than 3,620 kilos of hashish were seized from a pneumatic boat at a shipyard in Isla Christina, Huelva. The two men on board were dressed as Guardia Civil officers so as not to arouse suspicion. They were arrested along with eight others. The criminal organization smuggled drugs to Spain via Malaga and Huelva from Morocco. Two days later, National Police the leader of the organization, who had a prison order against him from 2010 for drug-related crimes, was arrested in Estepona. He is considered by police to be one of Europe’s most powerful drug barons. In the operation, police seized 100 mobile phones, documents, three computers, four vehicles, a jet-ski, a motorbike, two satellite phones, six GPS devices and €27,000 in cash. The documents led to the arrest last month of a Guardia Civil officer who allegedly provided the gang with information on vehicles and their owners.

The World Bank today approved $297 million in loans to Morocco to help finance the Ouarzazate Concentrated Solar Power Plant Project

The World Bank today approved $297 million in loans to Morocco to help finance the Ouarzazate Concentrated Solar Power Plant Project, taking a historic step toward realizing one of the first large-scale plants of this kind in North Africa to exploit the region's vast solar energy resources. With this approval from the Bank's Board of Executive Directors, Morocco takes the lead with the first project in the low-carbon development plan under the ambitious Middle East and North Africa Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) Scale-up Program. A $200 million loan will be provided by the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the part of the Bank that lends to developing country governments, and another $97 million loan will come from the Clean Technology Fund. "The World Bank is proud to provide the financing needed to make this large-scale renewable energy investment possible," said World Bank Group President Robert B. Zoellick. "Ouarzazate demonstrates Morocco's commitment to low-carbon growth and could demonstrate the enormous potential of solar power in the Middle East and North Africa. During a time of transformation in North Africa, this solar project could advance the potential of the technology, create many new jobs across the region, assist the European Union to meet its low-carbon energy targets, and deepen economic and energy integration in the Mediterranean. That's a multiple winner." The 500 megawatt (MW) Ouarzazate solar complex, as the first power site, will be among the largest CSP plants in the world and is an important step in Morocco's national plan to deploy 2000 MW of solar power generation capacity by 2020. The World Bank has supported Morocco's national Solar Power Plan since it was launched in 2009 and is now making this significant loan to co-finance the development and construction of the Ouarzazate Project Phase 1 parabolic trough plant through a Public Private Partnership between the Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy (MASEN) and a private partner. Ouarzazate Phase 1 will involve the first 160 MW and will help Morocco avoid 240,000 tons of CO2 equivalent a year. The Ouarzazate project will also contribute to Morocco's objectives of energy security, job creation, and energy exports. As a regional frontrunner in clean energy, Morocco is rising to the challenge of its international commitments made in the last two United Nations' climate summits and under the "Union for the Mediterranean." "The Ouarzazate first phase is a key milestone for the success of the Moroccan solar program," said Mustapha Bakkoury, President of MASEN. "While answering both energy and environmental concerns, it provides a strong opportunity for green growth, green job creation, and increased regional market integration. It will pave the way for the positive implementation of the regional initiatives sharing the same vision (Mediterranean Solar Plan, Desertec Industry Initiative, Medgrid, World Bank Arab World Initiative). The support of international financial institutions, like the World Bank, through development financing but also climate change dedicated financing, is essential to help bring the overall scheme to economic viability," added Bakkoury. Relevant Links North Africa Aid and Assistance Morocco International Organisations Energy Environment The Ouarzazate loan is in line with the World Bank's commitment to scaling up funding that helps developing countries cope with climate change and embark on a low-emission development path. The World Bank Group's renewable energy portfolio increased from a total of $3.1 billion between fiscal years 2008-09 to $4.9 billion in 2010-11. Given the simultaneous expansion of the overall energy portfolio during the same period, the renewable energy proportion rose from 20 percent to 23 percent. About the project: The World Bank, the Clean Technology Fund, the African Development Bank, the European Investment Bank, the Agence Française de Développement, European Union Neighborhood Investment Facility, and the Kreditanstalt fur Wiederaufbau are working with MASEN and a competitively selected private partner to implement Ouarzazate I.

FIVE members of a British family have been arrested for stealing 156,700 litres of diesel oil from a Malaga pipeline.

 

FIVE members of a British family have been arrested for stealing 156,700 litres of diesel oil from a Malaga pipeline. The highly-organised team are alleged to have used their plumbing knowledge to puncture the pipe and set up hidden hoses leading to their rented finca in nearby Campanillas. In early October oil company CLH noticed a drop in pressure in the pipe supplying Malaga airport and filed a complaint with the Guardia Civil, who immediately launched operation ‘Rudolf 2011’ to catch the thieves. Police located the leak and discovered a hut hiding the extracting devices. They traced the pipes to the Campanillas house where they arrested a man who was controlling the device. They also discovered a 500-litre capacity van connected to the supply with a hose. Later they arrested four more members of the family of thieves, who it is thought planned to sell the fuel on illegally. The Guardia Civil have said this is the first case of its kind in Andalucia. Rudolf 2011 will now investigate whether the group is part of a larger criminal organisation. Worryingly, much of the oil had leaked onto the ground through holes in the clandestine system, which was made using a high-pressure tap and household plumbing equipment.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

private jets waved through customs and immigration checks

Home Secretary Theresa May (Pic:PA)

Home Secretary Theresa May (Pic:PA)

THERESA May was fighting for her job last night after damning new documents fuelled the scandal of lax security at our borders.

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Leaked emails showed that thousands of private jet passengers were allowed into the UK without going through immigration or customs.

They also revealed the Home Secretary relaxed checks at airports on at least 2,500 occasions this summer.

And the Mirror can reveal passport applications are being secretly subjected to a controversial new “postcode lottery” trial scheme.

The High Risk Applications scheme is based on fraud statistics. Staff were given a list of postcodes to check against every new passport application or renewal. Applicants in areas deemed to be higher risk face several weeks additional delay in getting their passports.

In London, the only areas which get virtually no checks are postcodes that begin with WC and EC – the most central and prosperous areas. Meanwhile applications from women aged 50 and over are often waved through.

A source said: “It’s a classic Tory policy, and it discriminates against those they deem to be living in ‘poor’ areas.

“The whole thing smacks of elitism and snobbery. A lot of people are very unhappy with the process.”

These revelations come on the day ousted Border Agency official Brodie Clark gives evidence to MPs on how he was pushed out by Mrs May.

Brodie Clark (Pic: DM)

Borders boss Brodie Clark

Labour yesterday released the leaked emails showing UK Border Agency staff were told NOT to check passengers arriving in the UK by private jets – at the instruction of the Home Office.

From March 2, 2011, anyone on a private charter did not have to show their passports and could avoid customs. Figures show there are between 80,000 to 90,000 private flights each year, carrying two to three passengers.

The emails show an unnamed official at Durham Tees Valley Airport warned the UK Border Agency that the policy was putting the UK’s security at risk.

He said that staff “continue to feel uneasy about an instruction that is at odds with national policy and is creating an unnecessary gap in border security which, if exploited by the unscrupulous, could bring the Agency into disrepute”.

He also warned there was no way of checking if the number of people arriving in the country was the same as they had been advised.

His manager at the UK Border Agency’s Border Force said the “no checks policy” was part of a “new national strategy”.

In a further blow to Mrs May, other leaked documents showed how Britain’s borders were abandoned on hundreds of occasions over summer.

The Home Secretary ordered a pilot scheme, which ran from July to October this year, under which Border Agency staff could relax checks on passengers. It meant people arriving from the European Economic Area did not have the biometric chip in their passport checked, while children under 18 could be waved through.

These “level 2 checks” were used on at least 2,600 occasions. The relaxed regime was used to speed up queues at immigration control.

According to an email from a Border Agency Border Force official, the checks were relaxed 100 times in the first week of the trial and more than 260 times in the sixth week.

We revealed last week that officials warned Mrs May the easing of border checks could lead to a rise in child trafficking.

Mrs May admits to bringing in the pilot scheme without informing MPs. But she claims that Mr Clark went further by extending it to include passengers from outside Europe.

Mr Clark, who resigned last week, denies he acted without ministerial authority. His testimony to the Commons select committee could prove very damaging to Mrs May.

Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper said last night: “This is startling new information about the scale of the borders fiasco.

“Ten days on there are even more questions than answers about what on earth was going on at our borders.

“Last week the Home Secretary told us no one had been waived through without checks. But these documents show passengers on private flights weren’t even seen.

"Last week the Home Office wouldn’t admit to having figures about how often checks were downgraded. Now we know those figures exist and that checks were downgraded 260 times in one week alone.

“The Home Secretary needs to show she is capable of sorting this fiasco out rather than making it worse.”

Last night, the Home Office refused to comment on the trial.

The UKBA said: “It is not true that we don’t carry out ­passport and warnings checks on private flight passengers and will deploy officers to airfields where we have concerns.”




Ernesto Manuel Gonzalez, 53, arrived at Washoe County jail for proceedings related to the Sept. 23 shooting of Jeffrey "Jethro" Pettigrew of the Hells Angels inside a hotel-casino

 

Vagos motorcycle gang member arrested in the slaying of a rival at a Sparks casino was transferred Monday to Reno from California to await a court appearance on a murder charge, authorities said. Ernesto Manuel Gonzalez, 53, arrived at Washoe County jail for proceedings related to the Sept. 23 shooting of Jeffrey "Jethro" Pettigrew of the Hells Angels inside a hotel-casino, Sparks police said. Pettigrew was president of the Hells Angels chapter in San Jose, Calif. The extradition of Gonzalez came after Hells Angels member Cesar Villagrana, 36, was rearrested Thursday in San Jose on an indictment charging him with murder in the case, Sparks police Detective Rocky Triplett said. Gonzalez's lawyer, David Chesnoff, wasn't immediately available for comment. Gonzalez was arrested Sept. 30 in San Francisco. Villagrana, of Gilroy, Calif., was with Pettigrew when he was shot. Two Vagos members were wounded in the casino shootout, and another was shot in the stomach the next morning by a gunman in a passing car. Triplett said Villagrana was charged with murder because he can be seen on casino security video drawing a gun and shooting at others. Villagrana was arrested the night of the shooting with a 9mm Smith and Wesson semi-automatic handgun that had been reported stolen in Arizona in 1998, police said. He was previously freed on $150,000 bail after being charged with felony assault with a deadly weapon, carrying a concealed weapon illegally and discharging a firearm in a structure. Villagrana has not entered a plea on any of the charges. Richard Schonfeld, defense co-counsel, told Sparks Justice Court Judge Susan Deriso during a court appearance that Villagrana came from a stable family and had no prior felony convictions.

Four-year sentence for fatal Maple Ridge stabbing

 

A drunken argument between two men on their way to an after-hours bash at a Hells Angels clubhouse led to the fatal stabbing of one and a four-year sentence for the other. B.C. Supreme Court Justice Ronald McKinnon handed Coquitlam's Andrew Leach the jail term Monday after he pleaded guilty to manslaughter for killing James William Ball on Sept. 25, 2009. Leach has already been in jail for more than two years, so McKinnon credited him with double-time and said the sentence equalled an eight-year term. McKinnon addressed Ball's family in the New Westminster courtroom before pronouncing the sentence. "I can only express the court's sympathy for their very grave loss. Nothing done today is going to lessen their burden or make things easier. I read the very poignant victim impact statements which underscore the loss and pain this offence has occasioned to these innocent victims," McKinnon said. "I doubt that I am the first person to observe that this death was completely avoidable which makes it all the more tragic." Crown prosecutor Andrew Blunt read an agreed statement of facts and played a grainy, dark video of the fatal stabbing behind a Safeway on Lougheed Highway in Maple Ridge. Leach, Ball and a third man had been drinking at Club Climax in Maple Ridge until it closed at 2 a.m. They all decided to head to a nearby HA clubhouse for an after-hours party in a truck driven by the third man, Blunt explained. During the ride, Ball, 43, and Leach, now 28, began to argue. The driver pulled over behind the Safeway to relieve himself, as the conflict between the two men escalated and they got out of the truck. The Safeway video shows Leach repeatedly stabbing Ball, who is left slumped over a railing on the loading dock. The driver panicked and took off, though later returned for Leach, Blunt said. Ball was not discovered for more than three hours and later died from massive blood loss. McKinnon noted that the injuries to his neck, chest and abdomen wouldn't have been fatal if Ball had received help right away. "It seems apparent that immediate aid for Mr. Ball following his stab wounds would have saved his life," McKinnon said. Instead, Leach was dropped at his Coquitlam condo and learned the next day that Ball had died. The friend present at the crime scene ended up cooperating with police and wore a wire when he later met with Leach to get details of the stabbing. During the recorded meeting, Leach said "because he used a small knife, the wounds should not have been fatal." He explained that he had got rid of the murder weapon and burned his clothes. Leach was originally charged with second-degree murder. He pleaded guilty two months ago to manslaughter. The young father had no criminal history until the stabbing, McKinnon noted. "While one can evoke alcohol as a contributing factor, it does not excuse the crime nor does anyone suggest that it should," the judge said. "Perhaps it stands as a wake-up call to those whose consumption of alcohol tends to deprive them of reason and sense." He said he didn't know what the argument was about, "but it had to be something quite frivolous but made into a big deal because of alcohol consumption."

Monday, 14 November 2011

I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here! contestant Freddie Starr has been taken to hospital after suffering a severe allergic reaction in the jungle

I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here! contestant Freddie Starr has been taken to hospital after suffering a severe allergic reaction in the jungle. According to the Daily Mail, Starr started feeling sick after completing the Greasy Spoon Bushtucker trial with The Only Way Is Essex star Mark Wright and doctors were called to assess the 68-year old's condition. An ITV spokesman has since confirmed the comedian's illness, stating: "Freddie Starr was taken unwell in the jungle. He was immediately attended to by on-site medics and taken to hospital where he was assessed by doctors." They added: "He will remain in hospital overnight as a precaution, and further tests continue. However, Freddie is in great spirits and keeping nursing staff entertained." A show-insider Down Under also explained to the newspaper that Starr's bout of ill-health has nothing to do with his well-documented heart problems, explaining: "Doctors have told us that it’s highly unlikely that what’s happened is related to any pre-existing condition, cardiac or otherwise." "They think he’s had a severe allergic reaction, but they may not be able to pinpoint the cause. The reaction could be due to a spider bite, he might have reacted badly to a leech or a tic, or even a snake he hadn’t noticed." They continued: "He might have reacted badly to the bark of a tree he leant on, or a leaf he touched in passing. Doctors are testing all of these things. The jungle is an alien environment for most of us, but the show is always prepared for all eventualities and this is no exception." "The unpredictability of the jungle is what sets this programme apart from other shows. The element of jeopardy is always there. However, the  celebs are watched 24-hours a day by a huge team of people." The Mail's source added: "There are dozens of cameras on the celebs, as well as 24-hour security in the camp and a huge crew around them. There are also on-site medics around the clock." As for weather the gruesome bug eating task was to blame, the mole claimed: "The foods are all tested on people before they reach the celebrities." "Extreme precautions are taken and bush tucker like the cockroaches are all bred hygienically. It’s unlikely that this is the cause of his reaction, but tests are continuing and we can't rule out anything."

I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here! contestant Freddie Starr has been taken to hospital after suffering a severe allergic reaction in the jungle. According to the Daily Mail, Starr started feeling sick after completing the Greasy Spoon Bushtucker trial with The Only Way Is Essex star Mark Wright and doctors were called to assess the 68-year old's condition. An ITV spokesman has since confirmed the comedian's illness, stating: "Freddie Starr was taken unwell in the jungle. He was immediately attended to by on-site medics and taken to hospital where he was assessed by doctors." They added: "He will remain in hospital overnight as a precaution, and further tests continue. However, Freddie is in great spirits and keeping nursing staff entertained." A show-insider Down Under also explained to the newspaper that Starr's bout of ill-health has nothing to do with his well-documented heart problems, explaining: "Doctors have told us that it’s highly unlikely that what’s happened is related to any pre-existing condition, cardiac or otherwise." "They think he’s had a severe allergic reaction, but they may not be able to pinpoint the cause. The reaction could be due to a spider bite, he might have reacted badly to a leech or a tic, or even a snake he hadn’t noticed." They continued: "He might have reacted badly to the bark of a tree he leant on, or a leaf he touched in passing. Doctors are testing all of these things. The jungle is an alien environment for most of us, but the show is always prepared for all eventualities and this is no exception." "The unpredictability of the jungle is what sets this programme apart from other shows. The element of jeopardy is always there. However, the  celebs are watched 24-hours a day by a huge team of people." The Mail's source added: "There are dozens of cameras on the celebs, as well as 24-hour security in the camp and a huge crew around them. There are also on-site medics around the clock." As for weather the gruesome bug eating task was to blame, the mole claimed: "The foods are all tested on people before they reach the celebrities." "Extreme precautions are taken and bush tucker like the cockroaches are all bred hygienically. It’s unlikely that this is the cause of his reaction, but tests are continuing and we can't rule out anything."

Phone hacking: the names of nearly 30 News International staff appear in Glenn Mulcaire's notebooks

Glen Mulcaire
Phone hacking: the names of nearly 30 News International staff appear in Glenn Mulcaire's notebooks, the Leveson inquiry has heard. Photograph: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

The names of 28 News International employees appear in notebooks belonging to Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator who worked for theNews of the World, the Leveson inquiry into press standards heard on its first day at London's high court.

 

Lord Justice Leveson's inquiry also heard that Mulcaire wrote the words "Daily Mirror" in his notepad, which suggests he may have carried out work for the paper.

 

Robert Jay QC, counsel for the inquiry, told the high court that "at least 27 other News International employees" are named in Mulcaire's paperwork, as well as former News of the World royal editor Clive Goodman, who was jailed for phone hacking along with the private investigator in January 2007.

 

Jay also told the inquiry, which began formal hearings at the high court on Monday: "The inquiry is beginning to receive evidence to indicate that phone hacking was not limited to that organisation [News International]."

 

He said the number of News International names and the scale of the activity indicated there was a culture of phone hacking at the company. "Either management knew what was going on at the time and therefore, at the very least, condoned this illegal activity," he said, or there was "a failure of supervision and oversight".

 

Mulcaire received a total of 2,266 requests from News International journalists, Jay said, 2,142 of which were made by four unnamed reporters. The most prolific of them made 1,453 of those requests.

 

A total of 690 audio tapes were also recovered from Mulcaire's office, Jay revealed, and there was a record of 586 recordings of voicemail messages intended for 64 individuals. The evidence was seized by Metropolitan police officers during a raid in 2006.

 

Mulcaire's 11,000 pages of notes mentioned 5,795 names, he confirmed, who could be potential phone-hacking victims.

 

Jay also said the inquiry had seen documents that suggest Mulcaire was hacking into phone messages ago as early as May 2001.

 

It had been thought until today that the earliest phone hacking by Mulcaire occurred in 2002. The new date is potentially significant because it falls before the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

 

It has been alleged that News International instructed private investigators in the US to target relatives of the victims of the 9/11 attacks, although no proof has so far emerged that this took place.

 

The Sun is also named in Mulcaire's notes, Jay said. Jude Law had cited the Sun along with its former sister paper the News of the World in his civil case against News International, although the Sun has since been dropped from his claim.

 

Several public figures are believed to be preparing civil cases against the Daily Mirror, but none have so far come to court.

 

The paper's publisher, Trinity Mirror, continues to insist that its journalists operate within the law and follow the Press Complaints Commission's code of conduct.

 

A Trinity Mirror spokesman said the company has "no knowledge of ever using Glenn Mulcaire".

 

Jay said the Mulcaire notes showed a "thriving cottage industry" and the "scale of activity gives rise to the powerful inference that it must have occupied Mulcaire full time".

 

Outlining the vast remit of the inquiry, Jay described a "root and branch" investigation of the press that would not be cowed by the powerful range of institutions in the media.

 

He said the inquiry would consider granting "protected measures" to whistleblowers who were afraid of criticising their employer or speaking truthfully about press ethics.

 

The inquiry will not be limited to phone hacking, Jay said, adding that Leveson was keen to learn about all "unlawful and unethical" newsgathering methods, including subterfuge and blagging.

 

The former News of the World undercover reporter, Mazher Mahmood, has submitted written evidence and will give oral evidence to the inquiry at a later date, Jay said.

 

Opening the hearing, Leveson said he had "absolutely no wish" to stifle freedom of speech and expression, and that the inquiry would monitor media coverage to see if it appears that anyone who speaks out is being "targeted adversely".

Gaga may once again have offended the pious as she emerged as a decapitated corpse from a confession box

GagaGaga may once again have offended the pious as she emerged as a decapitated corpse from a confession box, and that too with a crucifix in the background. No doubt the elaborate attire came off as she began to perform and came to a more natural avatar of fishnet stockings and a black lace bodice.

The Grammy-winner was clearly excited about performance when she tweeted earlier, "So excited to perform Marry The Night on X Factor UK tonight! Will sing my head off for England!! Almost time X-FACTOR! Also get ready monsters cuz #MarryTheNight officially impacts radio next week! Thanku to stations that added it early!"

Now we realise she meant it quite literally!

 

 

THE mother of missing Madeleine McCann said yesterday she still wished she could “stop time”.



03:44 | 

 

Kate McCann (pic: Jeremy Durkin)

Poignant: Kate McCann

 

Kate McCann, who marked the fourth anniversary of Maddy’s disappearance in May, said she and husband Gerry would not give up on finding their little girl.

In a poignant message on the Maddy search website, she wrote: “My grandparents always said the years pass more quickly the older you get. It certainly feels that way. I still dream of being able to stop time.

“Our only alternative however is to continue doing as much as we can to the best of our ability to enhance the search for Madeleine. So that is what we’ll do.”

She added: “It is a big relief that our Government finally agreed to a review. It will be lengthy and difficult but definitely a major step.”

Maddy was nearly four when she vanished from her family’s holiday flat in Praia da Luz, Portugal, in 2007.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Rio de Janeiro’s most wanted drugs baron who controlled the drug trade in South America’s biggest favela with fear and intimidation for 30 years has been arrested

Pictures showed Lopes, 35, looking anguished in handcuffs as he was led to an armoured vehicle by heavily-armed police
Rio de Janeiro’s most wanted drugs baron who controlled the drug trade in South America’s biggest favela with fear and intimidation for 30 years has been arrested after a high risk undercover police operation.  Photo: AP
Antonio Francisco Bonfim Lopes, known as Nem, was captured after being discovered hiding in the boot of a car stopped at a roadblock, as police surrounded the sprawling Rocinha shanty-town in an attempt finally to wrest back control of the area.

Pictures showed Lopes, 35, looking anguished in handcuffs as he was led to an armoured vehicle by heavily-armed police following his arrest at around midnight on Wednesday.

Brazilian police said the man driving the car had claimed to be a Congolese diplomat in an attempt to avoid the vehicle being searched before the occupants offered a bribe of one million Brazilian reais (£357,000) for police to let them go.

Residents of Rocinha and wealthy neighbouring districts alike were gripped by fear amid concerns that the operation could lead to open street battles between police and criminal gangs armed with machine guns, assault rifles and grenades.

Twelve families were reportedly forced from their houses in the night by gang members who wanted to use them as hideouts, while children who attend schools in the area were being excused from lessons.

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