Mark Sampson: FA sorry over race remarks to Eniola Aluko & Drew Spence

Media playback is not supported on this device

FA chief’s request ‘bordering on blackmail’ – Aluko

The FA has apologised to two players for racially discriminatory remarks by sacked England women’s boss Mark Sampson.

An independent barrister ruled Sampson made unacceptable “ill-judged attempts at humour” on two occasions, to Eniola Aluko and Drew Spence.

As the report of Katharine Newton’s reopened investigation was published, FA bosses faced uncomfortable questions over four hours at a parliamentary inquiry, with one MP labelling the organisation “shambolic”.

Chelsea striker Aluko, 30, said she felt “vindicated and relieved” by the barrister’s ruling but accused English football’s governing body of behaviour “bordering on blackmail” and an agenda to protect Sampson and its own reputation.

Aluko had said the FA was “dismissive” when she first claimed Sampson told her to make sure her Nigerian relatives did not bring the Ebola virus to the friendly against Germany at Wembley in November 2014.

Sampson denied that claim, along with another allegation that he asked a mixed-race player – Chelsea midfielder Spence – if she had been arrested before, and then jokingly suggested she had been arrested four times.

  • As it happened: FA bosses and Aluko appear in front of MPs

Newton’s initial report, completed in March, had cleared Sampson, but new evidence from Spence led to her investigation being resumed.

Despite concluding Sampson had made remarks which were “discriminatory on the grounds of race”, she did not believe he is racist and said Aluko was not subjected to “a course of bullying”.

A report of the reopened investigation, which says Sampson had difficulty judging boundaries around banter, was released as FA bosses and Aluko faced a Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee.

FA chief executive Martin Glenn said Sampson, who was paid nine months’ salary on his departure, may proceed with a wrongful dismissal claim.

He was sacked as England women’s boss last month after evidence of “inappropriate and unacceptable” behaviour with female players in a previous role.

<!–<!–

Mark Sampson: FA sorry over race remarks to Eniola Aluko & Drew Spence

Media playback is not supported on this device

FA chief’s request ‘bordering on blackmail’ – Aluko

The FA has apologised to two players for racially discriminatory remarks by sacked England women’s boss Mark Sampson.

An independent barrister ruled Sampson made unacceptable “ill-judged attempts at humour” on two occasions, to Eniola Aluko and Drew Spence.

As the report of Katharine Newton’s reopened investigation was published, FA bosses faced uncomfortable questions over four hours at a parliamentary inquiry, with one MP labelling the organisation “shambolic”.

Chelsea striker Aluko, 30, said she felt “vindicated and relieved” by the barrister’s ruling but accused English football’s governing body of behaviour “bordering on blackmail” and an agenda to protect Sampson and its own reputation.

Aluko had said the FA was “dismissive” when she first claimed Sampson told her to make sure her Nigerian relatives did not bring the Ebola virus to the friendly against Germany at Wembley in November 2014.

Sampson denied that claim, along with another allegation that he asked a mixed-race player – Chelsea midfielder Spence – if she had been arrested before, and then jokingly suggested she had been arrested four times.

  • As it happened: FA bosses and Aluko appear in front of MPs

Newton’s initial report, completed in March, had cleared Sampson, but new evidence from Spence led to her investigation being resumed.

Despite concluding Sampson had made remarks which were “discriminatory on the grounds of race”, she did not believe he is racist and said Aluko was not subjected to “a course of bullying”.

A report of the reopened investigation, which says Sampson had difficulty judging boundaries around banter, was released as FA bosses and Aluko faced a Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee.

FA chief executive Martin Glenn said Sampson, who was paid nine months’ salary on his departure, may proceed with a wrongful dismissal claim.

He was sacked as England women’s boss last month after evidence of “inappropriate and unacceptable” behaviour with female players in a previous role.

<!–<!–

Theresa May to scrap universal credit helpline charges

Media caption‘It’s a lot of weeks to wait’

People will be able to call the government’s universal credit helpline without being charged, within weeks.

Prime Minister Theresa May said she had listened to criticism of the charges, which can be up to 55p a minute, and decided it was “right” to drop them.

But she again rejected calls by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to “pause” the roll-out of the controversial benefit amid fears it is causing hardship.

In a symbolic vote, MPs backed a pause after Tory MPs were told to abstain.

The opposition won by 299 votes to 0 with one Conservative – Totnes MP Sarah Wollaston – defying her party by siding with Labour.

The outcome is not binding on the government although Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said ministers must “act on the clearly expressed will of Parliament” and halt its roll out.

Commons Speaker John Bercow advised ministers to take account of the vote and “show respect for the institution” by indicating what they intended to do.

‘Simpler system’

Universal credit, which rolls six working-age benefits into a single payment, is designed to make the system simpler and ensure no-one faces a situation where they would be better off claiming benefits than working.

But it has faced a backlash from Tory MPs, who fear payment delays risk pushing families into destitution.

Explaining her decision to rebel, Dr Wollaston said the length of time people were waiting to be paid – in many cases more than six weeks – was a “fundamental flaw” that must be addressed.

She told the BBC she wanted to “see a much stronger commitment” from government “that they’ll do that immediately”.

At Prime Minister’s Questions earlier, Mr Corbyn said he was glad the PM had “bowed to Labour pressure” by scrapping the hotline charges.

Media captionSpeaker: Don’t pretend you didn’t lose

But he added: “The fundamental problems of universal credit remain – the six week wait, rising indebtedness, rent arrears and evictions.

“Will the prime minister now pause universal credit and fix the problems before pressing ahead with the roll-out?”

Mrs May prompted cheers from Labour MPs as she began her reply with “yes”, before urging them to “listen to the whole sentence I was going to make”.

She said universal credit was “a simpler system”, that “encourages people to get into the workplace – it is a system that is working because more people are getting into work”.

The universal credit hotline will become free to use “over the next month”, the government has said, and that would be followed by all DWP helplines by the end of the year.

The government says it makes no money from the 0345 number. It is charged at local rate and is included as a free call in many landline and mobile phone packages but can cost some mobile phone users as much as 55p a minute.

Universal Credit has been introduced in stages to different groups of claimants over the past four years, with about 610,000 people now receiving it.

Almost a quarter of all claimants have had to wait more than six weeks to receive their first payment in full because of errors and problems evidencing claims.

But the government recently approved a major extension of the programme to a further 45 job centres across the country, with another 50 to be added each month.

Media captionThe PM appears to give a surprising initial answer when asked to pause the national rollout of universal credit.

Labour’s Frank Field told MPs a food bank in his Birkenhead constituency needed to order five tonnes of extra food to deal with hardship caused by the roll-out of universal credit over Christmas.

He asked Work and Pensions Secretary David Gauke if his constituents should ignore the food bank’s warnings, or give it extra donations as a result of the minister’s “inability to deliver a scheme that works”.

‘Pious loan shark’

Mr Gauke had earlier accused Labour of attempting to wreck the new benefit rather than taking a constructive approach to reforming it.

The SNP’s Mhairi Black said the offer of advance payments made matters worse for some claimants because they had to be paid back.

She accused the government of acting like a “pious loan shark – except that instead of coming through your front door they are coming after your mental health, your physical well-being, your stability, your sense of security.”

The Department for Work and Pensions says its latest data, from last month, indicates 81% of new claimants were paid in full and on time at the end of their first assessment while 89% received some payment.

BBC Newsnight’s political editor Nick Watt said he understood ministers were giving “serious thought” to cutting the initial waiting period for payments from six to four weeks around the time of next month’s Budget.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-41659504

Theresa May to scrap universal credit helpline charges

Media caption‘It’s a lot of weeks to wait’

People will be able to call the government’s universal credit helpline without being charged, within weeks.

Prime Minister Theresa May said she had listened to criticism of the charges, which can be up to 55p a minute, and decided it was “right” to drop them.

But she again rejected calls by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to “pause” the roll-out of the controversial benefit amid fears it is causing hardship.

In a symbolic vote, MPs backed a pause after Tory MPs were told to abstain.

The opposition won by 299 votes to 0 with one Conservative – Totnes MP Sarah Wollaston – defying her party by siding with Labour.

The outcome is not binding on the government although Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said ministers must “act on the clearly expressed will of Parliament” and halt its roll out.

Commons Speaker John Bercow advised ministers to take account of the vote and “show respect for the institution” by indicating what they intended to do.

‘Simpler system’

Universal credit, which rolls six working-age benefits into a single payment, is designed to make the system simpler and ensure no-one faces a situation where they would be better off claiming benefits than working.

But it has faced a backlash from Tory MPs, who fear payment delays risk pushing families into destitution.

Explaining her decision to rebel, Dr Wollaston said the length of time people were waiting to be paid – in many cases more than six weeks – was a “fundamental flaw” that must be addressed.

She told the BBC she wanted to “see a much stronger commitment” from government “that they’ll do that immediately”.

At Prime Minister’s Questions earlier, Mr Corbyn said he was glad the PM had “bowed to Labour pressure” by scrapping the hotline charges.

Media captionSpeaker: Don’t pretend you didn’t lose

But he added: “The fundamental problems of universal credit remain – the six week wait, rising indebtedness, rent arrears and evictions.

“Will the prime minister now pause universal credit and fix the problems before pressing ahead with the roll-out?”

Mrs May prompted cheers from Labour MPs as she began her reply with “yes”, before urging them to “listen to the whole sentence I was going to make”.

She said universal credit was “a simpler system”, that “encourages people to get into the workplace – it is a system that is working because more people are getting into work”.

The universal credit hotline will become free to use “over the next month”, the government has said, and that would be followed by all DWP helplines by the end of the year.

The government says it makes no money from the 0345 number. It is charged at local rate and is included as a free call in many landline and mobile phone packages but can cost some mobile phone users as much as 55p a minute.

Universal Credit has been introduced in stages to different groups of claimants over the past four years, with about 610,000 people now receiving it.

Almost a quarter of all claimants have had to wait more than six weeks to receive their first payment in full because of errors and problems evidencing claims.

But the government recently approved a major extension of the programme to a further 45 job centres across the country, with another 50 to be added each month.

Media captionThe PM appears to give a surprising initial answer when asked to pause the national rollout of universal credit.

Labour’s Frank Field told MPs a food bank in his Birkenhead constituency needed to order five tonnes of extra food to deal with hardship caused by the roll-out of universal credit over Christmas.

He asked Work and Pensions Secretary David Gauke if his constituents should ignore the food bank’s warnings, or give it extra donations as a result of the minister’s “inability to deliver a scheme that works”.

‘Pious loan shark’

Mr Gauke had earlier accused Labour of attempting to wreck the new benefit rather than taking a constructive approach to reforming it.

The SNP’s Mhairi Black said the offer of advance payments made matters worse for some claimants because they had to be paid back.

She accused the government of acting like a “pious loan shark – except that instead of coming through your front door they are coming after your mental health, your physical well-being, your stability, your sense of security.”

The Department for Work and Pensions says its latest data, from last month, indicates 81% of new claimants were paid in full and on time at the end of their first assessment while 89% received some payment.

BBC Newsnight’s political editor Nick Watt said he understood ministers were giving “serious thought” to cutting the initial waiting period for payments from six to four weeks around the time of next month’s Budget.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-41659504

Brexit: May offers more assurances to EU nationals

Anti-Brexit demonstrator outside ParliamentImage copyright
AFP

Image caption

Theresa May says the future of British and EU nationals has always been her “first priority”

Theresa May has vowed to make it as easy as possible for EU citizens to remain in the UK after Brexit ahead of a key summit of European leaders.

In a Facebook post, the prime minister insisted the application process for settled status would be “streamlined” and the cost “as low as possible”.

She said representatives of EU citizens will sit on a “user group” which will iron out any problems in the system.

The other 27 EU leaders will assess overall progress in the talks so far.

At a meeting on Friday, at which the UK will not be present, they are expected to conclude officially that “insufficient progress” has been made on the status of EU nationals in the UK and British expats on the continent – and other separation issues – to move onto the second phase of trade discussions.

European Council President Donald Tusk said there would be no “breakthrough” at the two-day summit, but progress could be achieved by the next scheduled meeting of EU leaders in December.

  • EU bill ‘won’t be debated this month’
  • Brexit: What is at stake in EU-UK talks?
  • Deadlock over UK’s Brexit bill – Barnier

Before leaving for Brussels, Mrs May used her Facebook post to offer further assurances to the three million or so nationals of other EU countries living in the UK and uncertain about their future after Brexit.

In her message, she said those who already had permanent residence would be able to “swap this” for settled status in as hassle-free a way as possible.


Some encouragement for UK

Image copyright
AFP

Analysis by Europe correspondent Kevin Connolly

The October summit was always the first date in the EU calendar on which a gathering of the 27 heads of government could declare themselves satisfied with the Brexit divorce negotiations and agree to start talking about trade.

It’s been clear for weeks that they won’t do that – but they will offer the UK some encouragement by starting internal discussions about future trade with the UK – ready for any breakthrough at the next summit in December.

Theresa May isn’t expected to make any big new proposal in her after-dinner remarks but to underline the quality of the financial offer made in her speech in Florence – worth around £20bn.

The EU side wants more though – more money as well as further movement on citizens rights and the Irish border.

There are almost as many predictions about what happens next as there as diplomats in Brussels; one has suggested that the prospects of a December breakthrough are no better than fifty-fifty but an official close to the talks said the signal on Brexit from this summit would be fundamentally positive.


“I know there is real anxiety about how the agreement will be implemented,” she wrote.

“People are concerned that the process will be complicated and bureaucratic, and will put up hurdles that are difficult to overcome. I want to provide reassurance here too.

“We are developing a streamlined digital process for those applying for settled status in the UK in the future. This process will be designed with users in mind, and we will engage with them every step of the way.”

The process of applying for permanent residency, for which EU nationals are eligible after five years, has long been criticised as cumbersome and overly bureaucratic. At one point, it involved filling out an 85-page form.

‘People first’

In simplifying it, Mrs May said she was committed to putting “people first” in the negotiations and expected British nationals living on the continent to be treated in the same way.

“I know both sides will consider each other’s proposals with an open mind and with flexibility and creativity on both sides, I am confident we can conclude discussions on citizens’ rights in the coming weeks.”

Media captionThornberry: Labour will not accept a no-deal Brexit

Mrs May, who will address other leaders at a working dinner on Thursday, wants mutual dialogue on the UK’s future relationship with the EU, including trade and defence, to begin as soon as possible.

But Mr Tusk is expected to propose to the 27 EU leaders that they begin talks amongst themselves about Britain’s future relationship with the EU, when it leaves the bloc in March 2019.

As well as citizens’ rights, the two sides remain at odds over the so-called financial “divorce” settlement and the future of the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic.

A group of pro-Brexit Tory and Labour politicians, including former Chancellor Lord Lawson, is urging Mrs May to walk away from negotiations this week if the EU does not accommodate the UK’s wishes.

A letter to the PM, organised by the Leave Means Leave campaign and also signed by pro-Brexit business figures, says the government “has been more than patient” and “decisive action” is now needed to end the “highly damaging” levels of uncertainty facing businesses.

In the event of no progress at Thursday’s meeting, the letter says, Mrs May should formally declare the UK is working on the assumption it will be reverting to World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules on 30 March 2019.

Early notification of such a move would allow the UK to “concentrate our resources on resolving administrative issues” and prepare to “crystallise the economic opportunities” of Brexit, it adds.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-41672097

Brexit: May offers more assurances to EU nationals

Anti-Brexit demonstrator outside ParliamentImage copyright
AFP

Image caption

Theresa May says the future of British and EU nationals has always been her “first priority”

Theresa May has vowed to make it as easy as possible for EU citizens to remain in the UK after Brexit ahead of a key summit of European leaders.

In a Facebook post, the prime minister insisted the application process for settled status would be “streamlined” and the cost “as low as possible”.

She said representatives of EU citizens will sit on a “user group” which will iron out any problems in the system.

The other 27 EU leaders will assess overall progress in the talks so far.

At a meeting on Friday, at which the UK will not be present, they are expected to conclude officially that “insufficient progress” has been made on the status of EU nationals in the UK and British expats on the continent – and other separation issues – to move onto the second phase of trade discussions.

European Council President Donald Tusk said there would be no “breakthrough” at the two-day summit, but progress could be achieved by the next scheduled meeting of EU leaders in December.

  • EU bill ‘won’t be debated this month’
  • Brexit: What is at stake in EU-UK talks?
  • Deadlock over UK’s Brexit bill – Barnier

Before leaving for Brussels, Mrs May used her Facebook post to offer further assurances to the three million or so nationals of other EU countries living in the UK and uncertain about their future after Brexit.

In her message, she said those who already had permanent residence would be able to “swap this” for settled status in as hassle-free a way as possible.


Some encouragement for UK

Image copyright
AFP

Analysis by Europe correspondent Kevin Connolly

The October summit was always the first date in the EU calendar on which a gathering of the 27 heads of government could declare themselves satisfied with the Brexit divorce negotiations and agree to start talking about trade.

It’s been clear for weeks that they won’t do that – but they will offer the UK some encouragement by starting internal discussions about future trade with the UK – ready for any breakthrough at the next summit in December.

Theresa May isn’t expected to make any big new proposal in her after-dinner remarks but to underline the quality of the financial offer made in her speech in Florence – worth around £20bn.

The EU side wants more though – more money as well as further movement on citizens rights and the Irish border.

There are almost as many predictions about what happens next as there as diplomats in Brussels; one has suggested that the prospects of a December breakthrough are no better than fifty-fifty but an official close to the talks said the signal on Brexit from this summit would be fundamentally positive.


“I know there is real anxiety about how the agreement will be implemented,” she wrote.

“People are concerned that the process will be complicated and bureaucratic, and will put up hurdles that are difficult to overcome. I want to provide reassurance here too.

“We are developing a streamlined digital process for those applying for settled status in the UK in the future. This process will be designed with users in mind, and we will engage with them every step of the way.”

The process of applying for permanent residency, for which EU nationals are eligible after five years, has long been criticised as cumbersome and overly bureaucratic. At one point, it involved filling out an 85-page form.

‘People first’

In simplifying it, Mrs May said she was committed to putting “people first” in the negotiations and expected British nationals living on the continent to be treated in the same way.

“I know both sides will consider each other’s proposals with an open mind and with flexibility and creativity on both sides, I am confident we can conclude discussions on citizens’ rights in the coming weeks.”

Media captionThornberry: Labour will not accept a no-deal Brexit

Mrs May, who will address other leaders at a working dinner on Thursday, wants mutual dialogue on the UK’s future relationship with the EU, including trade and defence, to begin as soon as possible.

But Mr Tusk is expected to propose to the 27 EU leaders that they begin talks amongst themselves about Britain’s future relationship with the EU, when it leaves the bloc in March 2019.

As well as citizens’ rights, the two sides remain at odds over the so-called financial “divorce” settlement and the future of the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic.

A group of pro-Brexit Tory and Labour politicians, including former Chancellor Lord Lawson, is urging Mrs May to walk away from negotiations this week if the EU does not accommodate the UK’s wishes.

A letter to the PM, organised by the Leave Means Leave campaign and also signed by pro-Brexit business figures, says the government “has been more than patient” and “decisive action” is now needed to end the “highly damaging” levels of uncertainty facing businesses.

In the event of no progress at Thursday’s meeting, the letter says, Mrs May should formally declare the UK is working on the assumption it will be reverting to World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules on 30 March 2019.

Early notification of such a move would allow the UK to “concentrate our resources on resolving administrative issues” and prepare to “crystallise the economic opportunities” of Brexit, it adds.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-41672097

Crimewatch axed by BBC after 33 years

Jeremy Vine and Tina Daheley

Image caption

Jeremy Vine and Tina Daheley have fronted the show since its relaunch last year

Crimewatch, one of the BBC’s longest-running shows, is being axed after 33 years.

The programme, which asks viewers for help to track down criminals, is hosted by Jeremy Vine and Tina Daheley.

The BBC said in a statement: “We are incredibly proud of Crimewatch and the great work it has done over the years.

“This move will also allow us to create room for new innovative programmes in peak time on BBC One.” Daytime show Crimewatch Roadshow will continue.

Image caption

Michelle Ackerley and Rav Wilding present Crimewatch Roadshow

“We believe the successful Crimewatch Roadshow format in daytime is the best fit for the brand going forward and we will increase the number of episodes to make two series a year,” the BBC said.

The Sun, which first broke the story, said ratings had suffered as it was scheduled against Cold Feet and Broadchurch.

Three episodes have aired this year – in February and March – watched by an average of almost three million viewers. That is down from 14 million who watched at its peak.

Previous Crimewatch presenters include Jill Dando, who was murdered in 1999 – with her own case being featured on the show.

Nick Ross, Sue Cook, Kirsty Young, Fiona Bruce and Rav Wilding have also hosted the programme.

Ross, speaking on BBC Radio 4′s Today programme, said: “I’m amazed that it’s gone on for so long. And it’s a tribute to the team they’ve kept it going.

“When it started, it was revolutionary. Up to that point, television and radio basically talked at the audience. There was no internet, very few phone-ins, this was a programme where the audience could talk back and could actually influence the end of the programme.

“This sort of revolutionary thing then had a huge impact on television generally and has kept going for 33 years despite all the changes in technology.”

Image copyright
PA

Image caption

A Crimewatch appeal helped to catch Sarah Payne’s murderer, Roy Whiting, in 2001

Ross said falling ratings had had an impact on crime-solving.

“If you get 15 million people watching a programme and you have an appeal, the chance of finding somebody, that one witness who saw something they had no idea was connected with the crime… they can ring in.

“Once your audience starts plummeting, you go back to two million, one million, your chances of finding that person are so remote.”

Famous cases the show has featured and helped solve include the James Bulger murder, the killings of Lin and Megan Russell and the murder of schoolgirl Sarah Payne.

BBC Today programme presenter Nick Robinson tweeted a tribute to the show, which gave him his first job 30 years ago.

Skip Twitter post by @bbcnickrobinson

End of Twitter post by @bbcnickrobinson

Vine and Radio 1 presenter Daheley took over as hosts of Crimewatch in September 2016.

The Police Federation said it was a “shame” that the programme was ending, and that it had shown “the complex side of policing and solve crime”.

Simon Kempton, the Police Federation’s head of operational policing, said: “For those wider appeals which needed national coverage it was great and there has been nothing else that has been able to give cases such a wide reach, but if there aren’t the audience figures and people aren’t watching it then you have to move with the times.”

Follow us on Facebook, on Twitter @BBCNewsEnts, or on Instagram at bbcnewsents. If you have a story suggestion email entertainment.news@bbc.co.uk.

Have you ever provided information after watching Crimewatch which led to a successful prosecution? Share your views and experiences by emailing

Please include a contact number if you are willing to speak to a BBC journalist. You can also contact us in the following ways:

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-41648972

Hurricane Ophelia: UK faces more storm disruption

Residents look at fallen trees in CorkImage copyright
AFP/Getty Images

Image caption

Trees felled in the storm have blocked roads and train lines

Winds of more than 70mph and heavy rain are hitting parts of Scotland and England as remnants of Hurricane Ophelia continue to affect the UK.

All schools in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland remain closed for a second day as the clean-up begins.

In Ireland some 245,000 customers are without electricity, while 3,800 homes are without power in Northern Ireland and 4,000 in north Wales.

Three people were killed in the storm in the Irish Republic on Monday.

Some 20,000 households are also without water in the country, and it is expected to take days for electricity to be restored for those without it there.

Image copyright
Reuters

Image caption

Debris and fallen trees will continue to cause problems

The Met Office has issued a yellow “be aware” wind warning across southern and central Scotland and northern England and warned of rush-hour disruption.

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency has issued 14 flood warnings, meaning flooding is expected, and several flood alerts, meaning flooding is possible, for the west coast of Scotland.

Some 1,100 homes are without power in south-west Scotland, but they are expected to be reconnected later this afternoon.

In England, there’s a flood warning in Dorset and a series of flood alerts across the North West and the South West.

Train services in northern England are disrupted – including on the line between Halifax and Bradford Interchange – as a result of trees felled in the storm weather.

More than 130 trees were cleared from roads on the Isle of Man.

As hurricane-force gusts battered the Republic of Ireland on Monday – the 30th anniversary of the Great Storm – one woman and a man died in separate incidents when trees fell on their cars.

Father-of-two Fintan Goss, 33, was killed in Ravensdale, Dundalk, when a car he was in was struck by a tree.

A woman driver in her 50s died when a tree fell on her car in strong winds near Aglish village in Co Waterford.

Another man died in a chainsaw accident while trying to remove a tree felled by the storm.

Schools and universities closed, while non-emergency appointments at a number of hospitals were postponed, as the country’s prime minister, Leo Varadkar, warned people to stay in and avoid unnecessary travel.

The Irish Republic’s Electricity Supply Board said help from Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK was expected to be drafted in on Wednesday to help restore power.

Image caption

Damage caused by Storm Ophelia in Cork

Strong winds of up to 70mph (112km/h) wreaked havoc in Cumbria on Monday night, damaging the roof of Barrow AFC’s stadium and forcing police to close roads in the town.

Cumbria Police said they had reports of roofs and debris on the roads and overhead cables coming down – and it urged people to make only essential travel.

Get news from the BBC in your inbox, each weekday morning

Are you affected by Hurricane Ophelia? E-mail your stories and pictures to

Please do not put yourself in any danger to take images and please heed all safety warnings.

You can also contact us in the following ways:

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-41647852

UK inflation at highest since April 2012

Money changing handsImage copyright
Getty Images

The UK’s key inflation rate climbed to 3% in September from 2.9% in August, its highest for more than five years.

The Consumer Prices Index (CPI) was last at 3% in April 2012, but has been driven higher by increases in transport and food prices.

The increase in inflation raises the likelihood of an increase in interest rates next month.

The figures are significant because state pension payments from April 2018 will rise in line with September’s CPI.

Interest rate rise ‘should be delayed’

Inflation ‘to cause £300 benefit squeeze’

Business rates will go up by September’s Retail Prices Index (RPI) of 3.9%.

The fall in the pound since last year’s Brexit vote has helped to push up inflation.

The basic state pension is protected by the “triple lock” guarantee which means it will go up next April by a rate equal to September 2017′s CPI, earnings growth or 2.5% whichever is the greatest.

However, Chancellor Philip Hammond could amend that in next month’s Budget.

Letter to chancellor

At the moment, the full new state pension is £159.55 per week, equivalent to £8,296.60 per year.

Bank of England, Mark Carney, has narrowly avoided having to write a letter to the chancellor, only necessary if inflation reaches more than 1% either side of the 2% target.

ONS Head of Inflation Mike Prestwood said: “Food prices and a range of transport costs helped to push up inflation in September. These effects were partly offset by clothing prices that rose less strongly than this time last year.”

Laith Khalaf, senior analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “The tick upwards in inflation will increase expectations of a rate rise from the Bank of England later on this year, stoked by a flurry of hawkish rhetoric coming from Threadneedle Street.”

However, he added, it is not a foregone conclusion, “so it’s probably best not to count those chickens until they’re hatched”.


Analysis: Brian Milligan, Personal Finance reporter

Pensioners’ delight

Pensioners will be celebrating again. Today’s CPI inflation figure means they will get a 3% rise next April, their largest pension increase for six years.

Those on the new state pension will see their weekly income rise to £164.

Compare that to workers, who’ve seen their earnings rise by 2.1% over the last year.

This is all thanks to the triple lock, which sees the state pension rise by the highest of earnings, prices or 2.5%.

Food for thought for the Chancellor, perhaps, who’s reported to be considering tax concessions for younger people in his forthcoming budget, to even up the inter-generational unfairness that the triple lock has contributed to.

The 2.5% element of the triple lock is due to be dropped in 2021.


Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-41649498

Killer drivers to receive life sentences in law change

road crash sceneImage copyright
PA

Image caption

A Government consultation in December 2016 found support for the law change

Drivers who kill someone in the most serious cases of dangerous and careless driving will now face life sentences.

Causing death by dangerous driving, or death by careless driving while drunk or on drugs, will carry the top-level punishment.

Jail terms in cases involving mobile phones, speeding or street racing will now be the equivalent of manslaughter, the Ministry of Justice said.

Road safety charity Brake said it was a “major victory” for victims’ families.

It follows criticism that sentences for those convicted over road deaths were too lenient.

The increase will apply to offences in England, Scotland and Wales, but not Northern Ireland, which has separate road safety laws.

Barrister Matthew Scott told BBC Radio 5 live the change would not increase road safety.

Announcing the change, justice minister Dominic Raab said: “Based on the seriousness of the worst cases, the anguish of the victims’ families, and maximum penalties for other serious offences such as manslaughter, we intend to introduce life sentences of imprisonment for those who wreck lives by driving dangerously, drunk or high on drugs.”

A new offence of causing serious injury through careless driving is also to be created.


‘This is something serious’

A woman who lost her partner to a driver distracted by his mobile phone believes a life sentence may be the deterrent needed to make drivers take more care.

Meg Williamson’s Australian boyfriend Gavin Roberts, 28, died after his BMW was hit by a Vauxhall Corsa driven by Lewis Stratford on the A34 in Oxfordshire in June 2016.

Stratford, who was speeding and having an argument with his girlfriend over the phone, admitted death by dangerous driving and was jailed for three years and eight months in March.

Image copyright
Meg Williamson

Image caption

Gavin Roberts with Meg Williamson in the last photo taken of the couple together, on the night before he died

Ms Williamson told BBC Radio 5 live that if a harsher sentence had been in place at the time “it might have prevented Lewis from doing what he did”.

She said: “It’s about re-educating people now. I think it might just take that one person to get the life imprisonment if some fatality occurs then people will start to realize this is something serious.”

Ms Williamson met Stratford, who was also badly hurt in the crash, before he was sentenced at Reading Crown Court.

She said the meeting had been difficult but had helped them both move towards “closure”.

She said: “In time I think I will forgive him. It’s something everybody has got to live with.

“He now has to live with the guilt of what he has done and we are all dealing with the fact that somebody is missing from our life on a daily basis.”


The changes follow a public consultation in December 2016 which generated 9,000 responses.

Of them, 70% backed increasing the maximum sentence for death by dangerous driving from the current 14 years to a life term.

Death by careless driving carries a maximum term of five years, increasing to 14 years if alcohol or drugs are involved.

Image copyright
Lancashire Police

Image caption

Atif Dayaji was jailed for four years for death by dangerous driving, after killing a nine-year-old boy

Last week a man who killed a nine-year-old boy while driving at more than double the speed limit was jailed for four years.

Atif Dayaji, 27, had admitted death by dangerous driving after hitting Adam Imfal-Limbada while travelling at about 67mph (108kph) in a 30mph (48kph) zone in Blackburn, Lancashire, in August 2016.

Department for Transport figures show that while three in five killer drivers are jailed, the average sentence is four years.

In 2016, 157 people were sentenced for causing death by dangerous driving and 32 were convicted of causing death by careless driving whilst under the influence, the MoJ said.

‘Grossly inadequate’

Brake has argued that penalties faced by drivers who kill and injure are “grossly inadequate” and cause added anguish to their families.

Jason Wakeford, Brake’s director of campaigns, said: “We applaud the government for at last recognising that the statute books have been weighed against thousands of families who have had their lives torn apart through the actions of drivers who have flagrantly broken the law.”

Mr Scott argued that the announcement was a “crowd-pleasing gesture” and that life sentences “should be reserved for the most serious offences”.

He told BBC Radio 5 live: “Bad though it is and wrong though it is, taking out a mobile phone while driving without any intention to cause death, I don’t consider that is the sort of behaviour that could possibly justify a life sentence.”

Get news from the BBC in your inbox, each weekday morning

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-41627240