Freed marine Alexander Blackman praises his ‘wife in a million’

Sgt Alexander BlackmanImage copyright
PA

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Sgt Alexander Blackman had his murder conviction reduced to manslaughter

The Royal Marine jailed for shooting dead a wounded Taliban fighter has praised his “wife in a million” following his release from prison.

Sgt Alexander Blackman received a life term for murder in 2013, but his conviction was reduced to manslaughter last month.

Wife Claire led the campaign alongside author Frederick Forsyth and the Daily Mail.

The 42-year-old was known as Marine A during the original trial process.

After his release from Erlestoke Prison in Wiltshire on Friday, he told the Daily Mail: “She [Claire] has saved me. Her determination to keep on fighting for me has been nothing short of incredible.”

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AFP

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Claire Blackman led a campaign to have her husband’s murder conviction quashed

Blackman, from Taunton, Somerset, was released after serving more than three years of a reduced seven-year sentence.

He added: “I will be eternally grateful to Claire and I cannot put into words how wonderful she is.

“Other inmates often said how lucky I was to have her fighting so hard for me.”

Media captionSgt Blackman was driven away from prison in the early hours of Friday

Blackman’s original murder conviction was quashed in March.

Judges at the Court Martial Appeal Court were told Blackman had a recognised mental illness at the time of the killing in September 2011.

He said: “‘Being out of prison is an immense feeling, but I am very conscious that my sentence is not complete.

“I have been released on licence, and there are certain conditions which I must – and I will – respect.”

Mrs Blackman, 45, told the paper: “I watched the clock all afternoon. Al finally arrived in the middle of the night, and I felt such a surge of happiness.

‘It still feels like a dream. We have spent so long on this rollercoaster ride and have always steeled ourselves for the worst-case scenario.

“Now we have got Al out, the result we always hoped for, it is taking time to sink in.”

Image copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

Claire Blackman was present when her husband had his murder conviction reduced to manslaughter by an appeal court in March

Blackman had more than 13 years of service and had previously been deployed to Iraq on three occasions and to Afghanistan in 2007.

The killing on 15 September 2011 took place during the final month of 42 Commando’s six-month tour of duty to Helmand province – a deployment which saw the unit lose seven men.

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Footage from an unofficial helmet-mounted camera of another marine was found during an unrelated investigation and showed Blackman shooting the Afghan prisoner in the chest at close range with a 9mm pistol.

The shooting took place after a British patrol base came under fire. One of two insurgents was seriously injured by gunfire from an Apache helicopter sent to provide air support, and the marines from 42 Commando found him in a field.

Image caption

Sgt Blackman’s actions were caught on another marine’s helmet camera

Two other marines from 42 Commando tried alongside Blackman in 2013 were acquitted.

Blackman lost an appeal against his conviction in May of the following year, but his 10-year minimum term was reduced to eight years.

Watch: Panorama’s programme on Marine A’s case

The Criminal Cases Review Commission later granted him a fresh appeal after his lawyers submitted expert evidence relating to his mental state at the time of the offence.

His supporters had hoped the quashing of the murder conviction would lead to his reinstatement to the Royal Marines.

However, the judges at the appeal hearing said his dismissal from the service should remain.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-39754517

Breast surgeon Ian Paterson case: ‘Hundreds’ of other victims

Ian PatersonImage copyright
SWNS

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Hospital authorities have been accused of failing to protect patients from Ian Paterson

Hundreds of patients will seek compensation after a breast surgeon was convicted of carrying out needless operations, solicitors have said.

Ian Paterson, 59, was found guilty of 17 counts of wounding with intent, relating to nine women and one man in the West Midlands.

Thompsons Solicitors said 350 women were now bringing a High Court case.

Law firm Slater and Gordon said there could be “hundreds, if not thousands” of other potential claimants.

Paterson, of Altrincham, Greater Manchester, was also found guilty of three counts of unlawful wounding at Nottingham Crown Court on Friday.

The surgeon, who treated thousands of patients during his career, exaggerated or invented cancer risks and claimed payments for more expensive procedures in some cases, the court was told.

Paterson ‘psychopathic like Shipman’

The seven-week trial heard the accounts of 10 victims – representing a sample of those Paterson treated – operated on between 1997 and 2011 at the privately-run Little Aston and Parkway hospitals in the West Midlands.

Jurors were not told Paterson carried out hundreds of unnecessary operations on NHS patients, with a hospital trust paying out £17.8m in damages and legal costs.

He was granted bail and is due to be sentenced in May.


‘He stuck a knife in me unnecessarily’

Media captionJade Edgington said the experience left her feeling “violated”.

Jade Edgington was 16 when she found a lump in her breast and had four operations by the time she was 19.

She has now found out three of those procedures were not necessary.

“You feel almost a bit violated – like, well hold on a minute, essentially someone has stuck a knife in me unnecessarily,” said Ms Edgington, 28.

“He made you feel completely like you were in the best hands that you could possibly be in.”

She said she had been left physically as well as emotionally scarred.

“All that could have been avoided – what was it for?”

Read more from Paterson’s victims


Police said some of his victims believed Paterson wanted to “play God” with their lives and it is believed the surgeon may also have been driven by financial gain.

As a result of his work, he owned a luxury home in Birmingham’s Edgbaston area, numerous properties in Cardiff and Manchester and a holiday home in the US.

Paterson invented what he called a “cleavage-sparing mastectomy” – leaving breast tissue behind to achieve a better cosmetic effect – and performed it on many of his patients.

By doing so, he left them in great danger of developing secondary cancer, jurors heard during the trial.

‘Need for training’

Linda Millband, from Thompsons Solicitors, said: “There are an enormous number of people who have suffered through having the incorrect diagnosis and have had totally erroneous treatment, and there are others who have been over-treated…

“Our case is not only against Mr Paterson, it is also against Spire Hospitals and the Heart of England Foundation Trust – and our allegations are that neither of the hospital authorities took the necessary steps to protect our victims and clients.”

An independent report in 2013, by lawyer Sir Ian Kennedy, found concerns about Paterson dated back to 2003 but were not dealt with for four years.

Sir Ian told the BBC: “There’s a very significant need for training in leadership amongst senior executives, so that they can take on the powerful, charismatic, charming, apparently highly successful operator and address with the right level of moral courage, what’s going on?”

Media captionDebbie Douglas: “He has mutilated me”

In 1996, Paterson was suspended by a previous employer, but two years later he was appointed to the Heart of England NHS Trust.

In 2004, an internal report on his conduct made recommendations that were not acted upon, and he continued to operate until mid-2011, the Kennedy report said. He was eventually excluded by the trust and 642 patients were recalled.

In 2012 he was suspended by the regulator the General Medical Council.

Sir Ian said: “They (the boards of NHS Trusts) need to look at their culture to see whether it’s… putting at the forefront the care of patients, rather than the care of the staff, looking after the buildings, managing the money – they’re all important, but the most important [thing] is the patient.”

Media captionWhat is cleavage-sparing surgery?

In total, Paterson operated on 4,424 people, although he treated thousands more privately.

Emma Doughty, clinical negligence solicitor for Slater and Gordon, said the true number of Paterson’s victims was hard to gauge.

“Although we have seen hundreds of claimants, God knows how many this actually affects,” she said.

“There are hundreds if not thousands of claimants (between various law firms) and then we have got to think about people who haven’t come forward, people who have died and so on.

“It’s on a huge scale.”

Image copyright
Richard T Harris

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Paterson was found guilty of wounding patients at Spire private hospitals

Spire Healthcare, which runs the hospitals at Little Aston and Parkway, said: “What Mr Paterson did in our hospitals, in other private hospitals and in the NHS, absolutely should not have happened and today justice has been done.

“We would like to reiterate how truly sorry we are for the distress experienced by any patients affected by this case.”

Heart of England NHS Trust said: “We welcome the verdict and appreciate the distress caused to Ian Paterson’s patients and families.”


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Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-birmingham-39753498

EU holds summit without UK to formalise Brexit strategy

Letter from UK PM Theresa May to EC President Donald Tusk, informing him of the UK's decision to leave the EU, 29 March 2017Image copyright
Reuters

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Mr Tusk received official notice of the UK’s intention to leave the EU at the end of March

European Union countries are meeting in Brussels to discuss a joint strategy for negotiations with the UK over Brexit.

Twenty-seven countries will be present, but the UK will not take part.

The EU will insist that progress must be made in talks on separating the UK from the EU, before any discussions can begin about future trade relations.

Official talks between London and the EU will not begin until after the UK general election on 8 June.

In a letter to leaders of the EU-27, European Council President Donald Tusk says agreement on “people, money and Ireland” must come before negotiations on the EU’s future relationship with the UK.

The UK government has said it does not want to delay talks on future trade relations.

The EU issued draft guidelines on Brexit on 31 March.

Brexit: All you need to know

The people who will negotiate Brexit

Brexit – special report

Mr Tusk’s letter – calling for a “phased” approach to Brexit – echoed German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s priorities, which she set out on Thursday.

“Before discussing our future, we must first sort out our past,” he said, listing three priorities:

  • On EU citizens living in the UK, he called for “effective, enforceable, non-discriminatory and comprehensive” guarantees
  • The UK must fulfil all its financial obligations agreed as an EU member state
  • A deal must be reached “to avoid a hard border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland”

“We will not discuss our future relations with the UK until we have achieved sufficient progress on the main issues relating to the UK’s withdrawal from the EU,” he said.

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PA

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UK PM Theresa May and the EU’s Donald Tusk. A Brexit deal has to be reached by early 2019

Meanwhile, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said the UK would not have advantages over 27 EU members once Brexit negotiations were concluded.

“There is no free lunch. Britons must know that,” he told Germany’s Funke Media Group.

EU officials estimate that the UK faces a bill of €60bn (£51bn; $65bn) because of EU budget rules. UK politicians have said the government will not pay a sum of that size.

Reports say Irish Prime Minister (Taoiseach) Enda Kenny will also ask his EU partners to back the idea of Northern Ireland automatically joining the EU if the province’s people vote to unite with the Republic.

The UK Brexit Secretary, David Davis, has said that in the event of such a vote, Northern Ireland could become “part of an existing EU member state”.


Brexit timetable:

  • 29 April - EU leaders (excluding the UK) meet in Brussels to adopt Brexit negotiating guidelines
  • 8 June – UK parliamentary election – Brexit talks to start soon after the vote
  • 24 September – German parliamentary election, with Mrs Merkel seeking a fourth term
  • 29 March 2019 - Deadline for ending talks on UK exit terms (any extension requires agreement of all member states)
  • May or June 2019 - European Parliament election (without UK)
  • Ratification - Any Brexit deal requires ratification by all EU’s national parliaments and European Parliament

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-39742949

Elizabeth Hart-Browne cleared of murdering boyfriend

Elizabeth Hart-Browne leaving the courtImage copyright
PA

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The jury in the six-week trial took 15 hours to find Miss Hart-Browne not guilty of murder

A woman accused of stabbing her boyfriend with a kitchen knife has been cleared of his murder after telling jurors she feared he would kill her.

Elizabeth Hart-Browne, 27, broke down in tears as she was cleared of all charges at the Old Bailey.

Miss Hart-Browne cried “I have just killed the man I love” after stabbing Stephen Rayner, 25, on 17 September in Acton, west London.

The mother of two said he had hit her and grabbed her by the throat.

The court heard that with young children sleeping feet away, she picked up a large kitchen knife and stabbed Mr Rayner, 25, three times, inflicting a fatal wound to the neck.

Mr Rayner staggered outside and collapsed in a pool of blood as neighbours rushed to help.

Meanwhile, Miss Hart-Browne, who worked as a jewellery designer, said she panicked and went back to clean the knife and clear up blood around the television.

When the police arrived at their home, Miss Hart-Browne was hysterical telling officers: “I didn’t mean to do it, I’m so sorry.

“I have just killed the man I love.”

The jury in the six-week trial took 15 hours to find Miss Hart-Browne not guilty of murder.

‘Charles Bronson fascination’

The court heard a row erupted after Miss Hart-Browne came home from a family party.

Miss Hart-Browne told jurors she regretted not just going to bed when she got home that night. She said if she had, Mr Rayner, originally from Bournemouth, would still be alive.

The jury was also told of the couple’s volatile six-year relationship, during which Mr Rayner had attacked the defendant many times.

After one incident outside Liquid nightclub in Uxbridge in 2012, Mr Rayner threatened to throw himself into the Thames and went on to plead guilty to battery.

In 2015, Miss Hart-Browne said she had became so fearful she took out life insurance because “I believed I was in danger of him killing me and I didn’t want my kids to be left with nothing”.

The defendant, who was described as having had a troubled upbringing in Somerset, said her boyfriend would take on the persona of his hero Charles Bronson during his terrifying attacks.

She said: “He had a fascination with Charles Bronson. He liked his aggression.

“There were lots of stories about him attacking prisoners and guards.

“He would take on that persona sometimes when he was angry.

“His whole accent changed, his whole being would change and I couldn’t get through to him.”

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-39736953

Merkel’s Brexit stance shows need for Tory poll win

Theresa May and Angela MerkelImage copyright
PA

Angela Merkel’s comments about the UK’s Brexit stance show how “tough” negotiations will be, Theresa May says.

The German chancellor said some Britons had “illusions” that trade talks could take place at the same time as negotiating the terms UK’s exit.

The UK PM claimed this proved she needed “the strongest possible hand” in the talks.

Labour has accused the Tories of adopting a “rigid and reckless” approach to Brexit talks.

The UK is due to leave the EU by March 2019, once formal negotiations have been completed.

The government has repeatedly said it wants the terms of the separation – including demands for any exit fee – to be dealt with at the same time as a new trading relationship is negotiated.

But EU leaders have resisted this, and on Thursday Mrs Merkel told German MPs it would be “a waste of time” to maintain illusions that the two sets of negotiations could be held simultaneously.

She also said the UK could not maintain the rights it has as an EU member.

“A third country – which is what the UK will be – cannot and will not have the same rights as an EU member state,” she told the Bundestag, Germany’s lower house of parliament.

“All 27 EU countries and the EU institutions agree about that.”

Speaking on a campaign visit to Leeds, Mrs May will repeat her claim that an increased Tory majority is needed to strengthen her Brexit negotiating hand.

“We have seen Chancellor Merkel’s comments today. She says the UK has ‘illusions’ about the process and that the 27 member states of the European Union agree.

“We can see how tough those negotiations are going to be at times,” she said.

“Yet our opponents are already seeking to disrupt those negotiations, at the same time as 27 other European countries line up to oppose us.

“That approach can only mean one thing, uncertainty and instability, bringing grave risk to our growing economy with higher taxes, fewer jobs, more waste and more debt.

“So we need the strongest possible hand, the strongest possible mandate and the strongest possible leadership as we go into those talks.”

Labour set out its approach to Brexit on Tuesday, saying it would scrap Mrs May’s plans and unilaterally guarantee the rights of EU residents before talks start.

Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer said Labour wanted a deal which prioritises jobs and workers’ rights.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-39737216

Terror arrest near Houses of Parliament

The suspect being arrestedImage copyright
AFP

Image caption

The suspect was under surveillance for “some time” before being arrested

A man carrying knives near the Houses of Parliament has been wrestled to the ground by armed police and arrested on suspicion of terrorism offences.

The man, thought to be 27, was detained as part of an intelligence-led operation on Parliament Street.

A witness described seeing two knives on the ground, one of which he described as a large bread knife.

The Metropolitan Police said there were no injuries. The suspect is in custody in a south London police station.

A French tourist who saw the arrest said the suspect looked “very calm”. Another witness said the man was not shouting, or acting aggressively.

A police statement said: “The man was arrested on suspicion of possession of an offensive weapon and on suspicion of the commission, preparation and instigation of acts of terrorism. Knives have been recovered from him.

“Detectives from the counter-terrorism command are continuing their investigation, and as a result of this arrest there is no immediate known threat.”

Media captionA witness describes the arrest near Parliament

The incident happened just yards from Downing Street, although Prime Minister Theresa May spent the day campaigning in Derbyshire and Leeds.

Mrs May said: “I think it shows that our police and our intelligence and security services are on the alert, as they always are, looking to keep us safe and secure.”

Image copyright
PA

Image caption

A police worker recovering a knife at the scene

The BBC’s home affairs correspondent June Kelly said: “It’s understood that the man was detained as part of an ongoing operation by Scotland Yard’s counter-terrorism command.

“Officers working on intelligence moved in on him in Whitehall. He was then searched and arrested.”

It’s thought the man lives in London and holds a British passport, but was born outside the UK. Addresses linked to him are being searched.

Eyewitness Helen Chandler-Wilde described seeing “knives and a brown backpack lying on the floor” at the scene at the time of the arrest.

She told BBC Radio 5 Live that passers-by remained calm and were “remarkably not scared at all”.

Analysis

by BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner

This, on the face of it, appears to have been a successful intelligence-led operation by the Metropolitan Police and MI5, the security service.

The suspect arrested today had been under surveillance for some time.

It’s not known what his exact intentions were. But the fact that he was arrested with two knives, close to Parliament and the centre of government, has contributed to this case being investigated by SO15, the Met Police’s counter-terrorism command.

At this stage it is not thought that any other country’s law enforcement agency is involved.

The area around Whitehall has been on increased alert since 22 March when Khalid Masood killed five people, including a police officer, in a terrorist attack.

In addition to visible armed officers, a number of armed police officers regularly patrol the streets of the capital with mobile armouries, ready to respond to an attack.

Image copyright
PA

At the scene

by Mario Cacciottolo, BBC News

A number of items were left on the ground following the incident in Whitehall.

Two police forensics officers, covered in crime scene suits, slowly photographed and picked each one up.

Several knives and what looked like paper or tissue were all put into a separate bag or box. When it came to the brown rucksack lying on the floor, the officer opened it up somewhat gingerly.

Their every move was followed by the click, click, click of camera lenses, both from the press and tourists.

Media captionA bag and what appear to be a number of knives can be seen lying on the ground

Media captionPolice vehicles blocked the entrance to Whitehall

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Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-39736733

Surrey puppy farm shootings: ‘Deep concern’ over police staff

Media captionIPCC associate commissioner Tom Milsom says there are “lessons to be learned nationally” about firearms licensing

Three police officers and two staff have “cases to answer” after the shootings of a mother and daughter at a puppy farm in 2014, inquiries found.

Two Surrey Police staff were rebuked for returning shotguns to John Lowe, who later murdered Christine and Lucy Lee.

Three officers were criticised over the arrest of Ms Lee’s other daughter Stacy Banner after the deaths, said the IPCC.

Surrey Police has sacked a staff member and is considering the other findings.

Image caption

Stacy Banner criticised Surrey Police’s decision to return the firearms, following Lowe’s conviction

A separate investigation about complaints made by Mrs Banner is looking at her contact with family liaison officers and her subsequent arrest after her mother and sister were shot at Lowe’s Farnham home.

‘Beggars belief’

An IPCC investigator’s opinion was that a detective constable and a detective sergeant had cases to answer for misconduct, and a detective inspector had a case to answer for gross misconduct, which related to authorisation of Mrs Banner’s continued detention and her further arrest.

Mrs Banner said: “These reports show that I was right all along about my concerns about Surrey police’s failings.

“It is devastating to see your worst fears confirmed in black and white about how those entrusted with the public safety can abuse and neglect their powers.”

Image caption

During Lowe’s trial, the jury was told he carried out the shootings with a legally-held shotgun he used for killing rats

Mrs Banner said without police failings her mother and sister would be alive.

“To then find myself detained overnight contrary to the law, as the report confirms, in the same police station – possibly the same cell – where my mum and sister’s killer had been held, beggars belief,” she said.

Surrey Police said a decision would be made on what action to follow in due course.

Risks ‘not checked’

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) associate commissioner Tom Milsom said an investigation painted “a deeply concerning portrait” of Surrey’s firearms licensing.

He said: “We found a unit which lacked the necessary training and processes to manage such a serious responsibility, staffed by individuals who were failing to undertake their duties with rigour and due consideration.”

He said investigators looked at the actions of Stanton Royle, firearms licensing supervisor, and John Crabb, a firearms licensing inquiry officer, and found they did not:

  • Check police intelligence on Mr Lowe
  • Highlight the risks he posed from a previous threat-to-kill investigation
  • Look at whether he was a danger to the public
  • Make sufficient inquiries into an ongoing investigation
  • Consider historical information on him

After Surrey Police agreed with the findings, a gross misconduct case was proven against Mr Crabb, who was dismissed without notice. Mr Royle retired before a hearing took place, the IPCC said.

Image caption

Christine Lee’s body was found inside the farm’s main building

Image caption

Lucy Lee’s body was found outside the house, near the animal pens

On the firearms licence, the IPCC said Surrey Police had accepted recommendations including the need to ensure structured training for licensing officers, liaison between the licensing team and officers and appropriate consideration of medical information.

Mrs Banner, who has criticised the force’s decision to return the firearms, said she now planned to sue the force.

Her solicitor, Sarah Ricca, said: “The IPCC recommendations in this shocking case include that the licensing team should liaise with officers investigating allegations against firearms license holders.

“In other words, the IPCC is recommending that licensing team staff do their job.”

Safety ‘primary concern’

Surrey Police said the force seized Lowe’s licence and a number of shotguns in 2013.

Its decision to return the weapons was criticised in two independent reports by Hampshire Constabulary and North Yorkshire Police, which prompted the IPCC investigation and a comprehensive review of firearms licensing in Surrey.

The force said the Crown Prosecution Service decided not to bring criminal charges against the firearms licensing officers.

Assistant Chief Constable Helen Collins said: “The safety of the public has always been our primary concern and it was extremely important to us that in light of these events, changes were made quickly and efficiently to ensure we could be confident in our decision-making practices.”

She said Surrey Police had apologised to the women’s families.

Image copyright
PA

Image caption

The women were killed at Keepers Cottage Stud, Farnham, Surrey

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Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-surrey-39707475

General election 2017: Labour promises pay rises for NHS staff

Nurses walking in a hospitalImage copyright
Science Photo Library

NHS staff will get higher pay and there will be no tuition fees for student nurses and midwives under a Labour government, the party is promising.

Labour said the policies would help address staffing shortages in England that had become a “threat to patients”.

The promises mark the first of what are expected to be a series of policy announcements on the NHS by Labour.

But the Conservatives said Labour’s nonsensical economic policies would put the health service at risk.

“A strong NHS needs a strong economy. Only Theresa May and the Conservatives offer the strong and stable leadership we need to secure our growing economy and with it, funding for the NHS and its dedicated staff,” Health Minister Philip Dunne added.

Three specific guarantees have been set out by Labour. These are:

  • Scrapping the 1% pay cap in place this Parliament so that pay is increased to a “sustainable level” for all NHS staff
  • Reversing the end of bursaries and introduction of tuition fees planned for August for student nurses and midwives
  • Tougher rules on safe staffing levels in NHS settings

Shadow health secretary Jon Ashworth said NHS staff had been “ignored, insulted, undervalued, overworked and underpaid” by the Conservative government.

“Enough is enough. What is bad for NHS staff is bad for patients too. Short staffing means reduced services and a threat to patient safety.

“Labour’s new guarantees for NHS staff will help keep services running at the standards which England’s patients expect.”


Analysis: How much will the policies cost?

The total cost of the policies set out by Labour is difficult to work out.

It estimates the bursary pledge would amount to £800m a year and every 1% extra on pay would cost £350m a year.

But that £350m figure excludes paying doctors more. If that was to happen, the outlay would be closer to the £500m mark.

However, this is all based on the status quo.

Part of Labour’s ambition is to increase the number of front-line staff employed by the NHS, to tackle the workforce shortages.

That could mean another 50,000 staff, according to some estimates. Paying for that could cost billions.

What most people in the NHS are keen to know, from all parties for that matter, is what they are willing to promise in terms of increasing the overall budget.


Last year, the Public Accounts Committee estimated the NHS in England was around 6% short of the frontline staff that it needed.

The report was published after ministers put a halt to a review of safe staffing levels that was being carried out by NHS advisory body, NICE.

Another body, NHS Improvement, has now started looking at the issue, but Labour said it would hand responsibility back to NICE and pass legislation to make recommendations binding.

Image copyright
Science Photo Library

The move on pay and bursaries has pleased the Royal College of Nursing.

The union has already announced it will be taking soundings from its members about strike action over the pay cap.

It says a combination of pay freezes and caps on pay rises since 2010 have, in effect, led to a 14% pay cut due to the rising cost of living.

It has also fought a vigorous campaign against the scrapping of bursaries and grants, which ministers have argued was needed to increase the number of training places that could be afforded.

RCN general secretary Janet Davies said: “A health service that works for patients must value its staff.”

But she said the political parties should go further and promise to “increase investment” overall.

Keeping bursaries and not introducing tuition fees would cost £800m a year – a figure which would rise by £350m for every 1% rise in pay, according to Labour.

The party has said reversing the reductions in corporation tax would cover the cost of the policies.

But Lib Dem health spokesman Norman Lamb said that was not the answer to the funding pressures in the NHS – corporation tax has been highlighted by Labour as a source of funding for other policies.

“Time and again, Jeremy Corbyn has shown that he is incapable of making the kind of difficult calls that a prime minister must be prepared to take – especially when it comes to something as important as tackling the crisis in our vital NHS and care services.”

Meanwhile, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said while the decision to cut bursaries for students was a “very difficult decision”, it would free up funding to train more nurses – as applicants for courses currently outnumber the places available by two to one.

“As a result of that policy change we will be able to train record numbers of nurses in the next few years, thousands more nurses to go on to those wards and relieve the pressure in those hospitals”, he said.

Mr Hunt added a good Brexit outcome was “absolutely critical” to the future of funding for health and social care, but said details would be set out in the Conservative manifesto.

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Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-39711133

Newcastle and West Ham raided in HMRC probe

St James' ParkImage copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

Newcastle United was one of the clubs raided

Newcastle United and West Ham United’s grounds have been raided in a fraud investigation.

HMRC said it deployed 180 officers across the UK and France, resulting in the arrests of several men working within professional football.

It said investigators had searched a number of premises in the north east and south east of England.

A spokesman added it had also seized business records, financial records, computers and mobile phones.

The arrests were connected to a suspected income tax and National Insurance fraud, he added.

Image copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

West Ham played their first game at the London Stadium in August

BBC Sports editor Dan Roan has tweeted that West Ham United was one of the clubs involved.

Newcastle United’s St. James’ Park ground has also been searched.

Image copyright
@DanRoan

In a statement, HMRC said it had arrested “several men working within the professional football industry for a suspected income tax and national insurance fraud”.

“180 HMRC officers have been deployed across the UK and France today,” the statement added.

“Investigators have searched a number of premises in the north east and south east of England and arrested the men and also seized business records, financial records, computers and mobile phones.

“The French authorities are assisting the UK investigation, have made arrests and several locations have been searched in France.

“This criminal investigation sends a clear message that, whoever you are, if you commit tax fraud you can expect to face the consequences.

“As this is an ongoing investigation, HMRC is unable to provide any further detail at this time.”

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-39716009

Court rules Kensington ‘candy-cane’ house stripes can stay

Striped townhouse in KensingtonImage copyright
PA

Image caption

A High Court judge quashed a council notice ordering for the townhouse to be painted white

A woman who decorated her London townhouse with red and white stripes can ignore a council order to repaint it, the High Court has ruled.

Property developer Zipporah Lisle-Mainwaring painted the candy stripes on the building in Kensington in 2015.

The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea said it was out of keeping with the look of the area and had served her with a notice to repaint it white.

Mr Justice Gilbart ruled the stripy decoration was “entirely lawful”.

The council had served the notice under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 claiming the “stripes on the front elevation, is incongruous with… the local area.”

Ms Lisle-Mainwaring, 71, launched a judicial review at the High Court after failed appeals to magistrates and Isleworth Crown Court in 2016.

Explaining his ruling earlier, Mr Justice Gilbart said: “In my judgment, to allow a local planning authority (LPA) to use section 215 to deal with questions of aesthetics, as opposed to disrepair or dilapidation, falls outside the intention and spirit of the Planning Code,” he said.

“I am therefore of the view that it is an improper use of Section 215 to use it to alter a lawful painting scheme,” he ruled.

Ms Lisle-Mainwaring has previously denied she had painted the stripes to spite neighbours who objected to her plans to demolish the property and replace it with a new dwelling and two-storey basement.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-39695911