Colin Dexter, creator of Inspector Morse, dies aged 86

Colin DexterImage copyright

Image caption

Colin Dexter received an OBE for services to literature in 2000

Colin Dexter, who wrote the Inspector Morse books, has died at the age of 86.

His publisher said in a statement on Tuesday: “With immense sadness, MacMillan announces the death of Colin Dexter who died peacefully at his home in Oxford this morning.”

His series of 13 Morse novels, written between 1975 and 1999, were adapted for the long-running ITV series, which starred John Thaw.

Dexter’s characters also featured in spin-off shows Lewis and Endeavour.

‘Sharpest mind, biggest heart’

He wrote his first Morse novel, Last Bus to Woodstock, in 1975 while on holiday in Wales. The fictional detective was then killed off in the final book, The Remorseful Day.

Inspector Morse and Lewis star Kevin Whately described him as “impish and bubbly and always fascinated with everybody and everything”.

He told BBC Oxford: “I think I’m incredibly lucky to have had 30 years of his friendship. He would always turn up – he loved being on set with us, and we loved having him there. He was a very warm, benign presence always.”

Whately joked: “We used to give him a little role, give him the odd line to say, but he was so awful at speaking and acting that we only let him walk through the shot.”

Image copyright

Image caption

John Thaw, Colin Dexter and Kevin Whately

Sheila Hancock, Thaw’s widow, told BBC Radio 4′s Front Row: “He did say to me a couple of times that he really did feel that John was the character and the character was John. It sort of evolved between them. In fact, I think one of the reasons he killed Morse off is he didn’t want to imagine anyone else playing the part.”

She described Dexter as a “remarkably well-read and clever man”, as well as a “bubbly guy” who “just seemed to enjoy life so much” and “loved to laugh”.

Maria Rejt, Dexter’s most recent editor at MacMillan, said the author had “inspired all those who worked with him”, adding: “His loyalty, modesty and self-deprecating humour gave joy to many. His was the sharpest mind and the biggest heart, and his wonderful novels and stories will remain a testament to both.”

Image copyright

Image caption

John Thaw, centre, starred as Inspector Morse alongside Kevin Whately as Lewis

Kevin Lygo, director of television at ITV, said Inspector Morse was “one of the nation’s best-loved shows”, with Thaw’s “irascible detective with a love for crosswords, real ale and classical music” becoming one of the most popular characters of all time.

“Through 33 feature length stories, the casebook of Morse and Lewis changed the landscape of detective drama,” he said.

Dexter worked closely behind the scenes of the show and later became a consultant on Lewis, the sequel starring Whately which ran for nine years.

He was also “one of the key creative forces” behind prequel Endeavour – the inspector’s first name – which saw Shaun Evans appear as the young Morse.

Image copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

Colin Dexter wrote 13 Inspector Morse novels

MacMillan’s publisher Jeremy Trevathan added that Dexter’s death represented a “tectonic shift in the international crime writing scene”.

He said: “Colin represented the absolute epitome of British crime writing, and in the 1990s John Thaw’s Inspector Morse took over Wednesday night television. He was one of those television characters who the nation took to their hearts. This is a very sad day for us all.”

Fellow crime writers paid tribute on Twitter.

Lynda La Plante said of the late author: “Colin Dexter, a masterful writer and storyteller who entertained millions of readers.”

Ian Rankin said: “Sad news – a gentle man with a steel mind; and the creator of such an iconic character…”

Val McDermid said: “Deeply sorry to hear of the death of my good friend Colin Dexter. He brought pleasure to millions and joy to his friends.”

Maxim Jakubowski, vice-chairman of the Crime Writers’ Association told the BBC: “He will be remembered not just as a superlative crime writer and the creator of such a classic character as Inspector Morse, but also as the most convivial of friends, impish, friendly to all, seldom seen in public without a smile, a man who accepted celebrity late in his life with wonderful dignity and humour.”

‘A large Glenfiddich’

Norman Colin Dexter was born in 1930 in Stamford, Lincolnshire, and studied classics at Cambridge University.

He worked as a Latin and Greek teacher from 1954 to 1966 before moving to Oxford – where he set the Morse stories – to become a full-time writer.

Carlton Productions made 33 Morse TV films with Thaw in the lead role. Dexter himself made many cameo appearances.

Image copyright

Image caption

Roger Allam (left) and Shaun Evans star in Inspector Morse prequel Endeavour

Dexter had type 2 diabetes, a condition that he also gave Morse in the last few books of the series.

When Dexter received an OBE for services to literature in 2000, he said he would have liked to have thought his fictional detective would have bought him a celebratory whisky.

Image copyright

Image caption

Dexter pictured in his home town of Oxford, where he set his novels

“I think Morse, if he had really existed and was still alive, would probably say to me, ‘Well, you didn’t do me too bad a service in your writing’.

“He might say, ‘I wish you’d made me a slightly less miserable blighter and slightly more generous, and you could have painted me in a little bit of a better light’.

“If he had bought me a drink, a large Glenfiddich or something, that would have been very nice, but knowing him I doubt he would have done – Lewis always bought all the drinks.”

Sheila Hancock and Kevin Whately are on Front Row on Tuesday 21 March at 19:15. The interviews will be available online later

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

Article source:

UK flight ban on electronic devices announced

Map of affected countries

Image caption

The UK ban applies to direct inbound flights from six countries; the US ban lists eight countries

The British government has announced a cabin baggage ban on laptops on direct passenger flights to the UK from Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia.

The ban, which also applies to tablets and DVD players, follows a similar US move affecting eight countries.

Downing Street said it followed talks on air security and was “necessary, effective and proportionate”.

US officials said bombs could be hidden in a series of devices.

The ban applies to any device larger than 16cm long, 9.3cm wide or 1.5cm deep. It includes smart phones, but most fall inside these limits.

Any affected device, including e-readers and games consoles, will need to be placed into hold luggage.

Number 10 said it was up to individual airlines to decide when to begin enforcing the ban and passengers should contact their airline for more information.

Which airlines are affected?

Six UK carriers:

Eight overseas carriers:

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: “We understand the frustration that these measures may cause and we are working with the aviation industry to minimise any impact.”

Air industry consultant John Strickland said the ban would cause “headaches for airlines and customers”, but carriers had “no choice but to put security first”.

What are the new rules?

Simon Calder, travel editor of the Independent, told the BBC the ban would particularly affect passengers who booked cheaper, hand luggage-only tickets, but would now have to pay to check a bag in.

He added that about 1,000 UK-bound passengers used Turkish Airlines every day to fly from long-haul destinations and would also be affected as their planes were routed via Istanbul.

While the US government cited unspecified “threats” in its announcement, the prime minister’s official spokesman declined to discuss whether the new rules were prompted by specific intelligence.

Media captionWhy are gadgets banned but mobiles ok? Daniel Sandford explains

The US ban applies to flights from 10 airports in eight countries. Nine airlines are affected – Royal Jordanian, EgyptAir, Turkish Airlines, Saudi Arabian Airlines, Kuwait Airways, Royal Air Maroc, Qatar Airways, Emirates and Etihad Airways.

Asked why the US ban differed from the UK, Theresa May’s spokesman said: “We have each taken our own decisions.”

A sign of mounting concern

Image copyright
Getty Images

By Frank Gardner, BBC security correspondent

This is a controversial decision, and, I’m told, not an easy one for the government.

The UK ban goes even further than the US move which does not affect national carriers.

It is not the result of a specific, identified terrorist plot, but of mounting concern in US and British intelligence circles at the ongoing interest amongst jihadist groups in the Middle East in blowing up a passenger plane in mid-air.

There are some in Whitehall who fear this may be an over-reaction, with damaging commercial and diplomatic consequences. But others have pointed to last year’s laptop bomb smuggled onto a flight from Somalia by insurgents from Al-Shabaab.

The year before, so-called Islamic State blew up a Russian passenger plane over the Sinai Peninsula. But that bomb was hidden in the hold, where laptops and other devices will still be allowed.

The editor of Aviation Security International, Philip Baum, told the BBC that “encouraging people to check laptops, and other such items, into the luggage hold simply makes the challenge of screening even harder”.

For more than two years, the official UK threat level for international terrorism has stood at severe, meaning an attack is “highly likely”.

In July 2014, passengers at UK airports were advised to ensure electronic devices were charged so they could be switched on for security checks.

The ban on liquids over 100ml in hand luggage – introduced after a foiled 2006 plot to blow up planes using explosives hidden in drink bottles – also remains in place.

‘Evaluated intelligence’

The US has given airlines 96 hours, beginning at 07:00 GMT on Tuesday, to implement its ban, which officials said had no end date.

Passengers on some 50 flights a day from some of the busiest hubs in the Middle East, Turkey and North Africa will be affected.

The Turkish government has said the US ban is wrong and should be reversed.

But the Department of Homeland Security said extremists were seeking “innovative methods” to bring down jets.

Citing the Somalia incident in February 2016, as well as the 2015 downing of a Russian airline in Egypt and attacks at airports in Brussels and Istanbul, it added: “Evaluated intelligence indicates that terrorist groups continue to target commercial aviation, to include smuggling explosive devices in various consumer items.”

Which airports are affected by the US ban?

  1. Mohammed V International, Casablanca, Morocco
  2. Ataturk Airport, Istanbul, Turkey
  3. Cairo International Airport, Egypt
  4. Queen Alia International, Amman, Jordan
  5. King Abdulaziz International, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
  6. King Khalid International, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
  7. Kuwait International Airport
  8. Hamad International, Doha, Qatar
  9. Abu Dhabi International, United Arab Emirates
  10. Dubai International, United Arab Emirates

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

Article source:

Martin McGuinness: Vigils held for Sinn Féin leader

VigilImage copyright
Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye

Image caption

Crowds gathered to pay tribute to Martin McGuinness in west Belfast

Vigils have been held across the island of Ireland for Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness, who has died aged 66.

His body was returned to his Derry home on Tuesday afternoon.

Image copyright
Peter Morrison

Image caption

Senior Sinn Féin members, including leader Gerry Adams, carry Mr McGuinness’ coffin

Hundreds of people accompanied the coffin, draped with an Irish tricolour, as it was carried through the Bogside area.

The ex-IRA leader turned politician died in Altnagelvin Hospital overnight aged 66. It is understood he had been suffering from a rare heart condition.

His death prompted the Northern Ireland Assembly to be recalled on Wednesday. The funeral will be in Londonderry on Thursday.

Image copyright
Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye

Image caption

Hundreds gathered at a vigil for Martin McGuinness in west Belfast on Tuesday night

Image copyright

Image caption

Former Ardoyne priest Father Gary Donegan offered prayers at the vigil in Andersonstown

Vigils took place in Northern Ireland and in the Republic of Ireland on Tuesday night to mark the former deputy first minister’s death.

One, on the Andersonstown Road in west Belfast, attracted hundreds of people. Some were holding candles and sang songs.

Father Gary Donegan offered prayers and told the crowd how he had “anointed and blessed” Mr McGuinness “weeks ago”.

Another vigil was held near the General Post Office headquarters in Dublin city centre, in the Republic of Ireland.

Similar events were held in Galway, in the Republic of Ireland, and Dungiven in County Londonderry.

Image copyright
Duroyan Fertl

Image caption

A candlelit vigil also took place outside the European Parliament in Brussels

Image copyright
David Lynch

Image caption

Crowds gather in Dublin to pay tribute to Martin McGuinness

The Queen is sending a private message to Mr McGuinness’ widow, Buckingham Palace confirmed.

The flag above Leinster House, which houses the Irish parliament, will be flown at half mast on the day of Mr McGuinness’ funeral.

Among the seismic moments in his time in government was the famous handshake with the Queen in 2012 and a toast to her Majesty at Windsor Castle.

Media captionA look back at the life of Martin McGuinness

Politicians and others have been giving their reaction to Mr McGuinness’ death, as have those who lost loved ones or were injured in the IRA campaign.

Colin Parry, whose 12-year-old son, Tim, died in an IRA bomb in Warrington in 1993, said that although he did not forgive the IRA or Martin McGuinness, he found him a man who was “sincere in his desire for peace”.

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams said: “Throughout his life Martin showed great determination, dignity and humility and it was no different during his short illness.

Media captionThe Queen shook hands with Martin McGuinness in 2012

Prime Minister Theresa May said although she could never “condone the path he took in the earlier part of his life, Martin McGuinness ultimately played a defining role in leading the republican movement away from violence”.

“In doing so, he made an essential and historic contribution to the extraordinary journey of Northern Ireland from conflict to peace,” she added.

Media captionColin Parry’s 12-year-old son was killed by an IRA bomb – but he says he liked Martin McGuinness

Mr McGuinness became deputy first minister in 2007, standing alongside Democratic Unionist Party leaders Ian Paisley, Peter Robinson and Arlene Foster.

A visibly ailing Mr McGuinness stood down from his post in January to protest against the DUP’s handling of an energy scandal, in a move that triggered a snap election.

Analysis: BBC News NI Home Affairs Correspondent Vincent Kearney

No-one knows how many people Martin McGuinness killed, directly or indirectly.

As a senior commander in the Provisional IRA for many years, there is no doubt there was blood on his hands.

Security sources say he went on to become chief of staff of the organisation from the early 1980s, right through until the end of the IRA’s campaign of violence.

Nothing happened in Derry without him knowing.

Read more here:

Former Conservative cabinet minister Lord Tebbit, who was injured and whose wife was paralysed by an IRA bomb in Brighton’s Grand Hotel in 1984, described Mr McGuinness as “a coward”.

“The reason he suddenly became a man of peace, was that he was desperately afraid that he was going to be arrested and charged with a number of murders,” he said.

Media captionLord Tebbit said Martin McGuinness was “a coward, a murderer”

Taoiseach (Irish prime minister) Enda Kenny said Mr McGuinness’ death represented a “significant loss, not only to politics in Northern Ireland, but to the wider political landscape on this island and beyond”.

DUP MP Nigel Dodds, who survived an IRA gun attack in Belfast in 1996 as he was visiting his sick child in hospital, said: “We can’t forget his past…. This will also be a difficult day for victims. But he did help move people forward when it comes to the peace process.”

Media captionMartin McGuinness, from paramilitary to politician

Born in 1950, Martin McGuinness grew up in Derry’s Bogside, radicalised, he said, by discrimination and murder on the streets of his city.

He had a leading role in the IRA during a time when the paramilitary organisation was bombing his home city.

Media captionTony Blair tells BBC’s Today programme what made Martin McGuinness formidable foe also made him formidable peacemaker

The shift to politics came slowly: Mr McGuinness was chief negotiator in the blossoming peace process and took on the post of education minister.

By 2007, he was Northern Ireland’s deputy first minister standing alongside First Minister Ian Paisley. The two forged an unlikely alliance – but they were working together for the same goal.

Image copyright

Image caption

Hundreds of people accompanied the coffin, draped in the Irish flag, as it was carried through the Bogside area

He worked alongside DUP first minister Peter Robinson and, until January, was in office with Arlene Foster.

In recent years, he said: “My war is over. My job as a political leader is to prevent that war and I feel very passionate about it.”

His funeral cortege will leave his home on Thursday at 13:20 GMT ahead of Requiem Mass at St Columba’s Church Longtower at 14:00. He will be buried in the City Cemetery.

Article source:

Shed fire kills 16,000 chickens in Carlisle

About 16,000 chickens have been killed in a fire at a poultry barn.

Firefighters said a second shed containing a further 16,000 birds was saved from the blaze.

Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service said the fire on Orton Road, Carlisle, was well alight when they were called shortly before 12:00 GMT on Sunday.

The blaze was under control by 16:30 GMT and an investigation is now under way to determine how it started. No-one was injured.

Article source:

Doping in amateur sport: Drug use ‘fast becoming a crisis’

BBC Sport

Media playback is not supported on this device

Key stats from a ComRes/BBC doping in amateur sport poll

Drug use at every level of sport is “fast becoming a crisis” according to UK Anti-Doping – responding to a BBC poll into doping in amateur sport.

It found more than a third (35%) of amateur sports people say they personally know someone who has doped, and 8% said they had taken steroids.

Half believe performance enhancing substance use is “widespread” among those who play sport competitively.

Ukad chief Nicole Sapstead described the figures as “incredibly alarming”.

A BBC State of Sport investigation into doping in UK amateur sport also found that 49% thought performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) were “easily available” among people who play sports regularly.

What do the statistics say?

According to figures from UK Anti-Doping (Ukad), the national body responsible for protecting clean sport, there are currently 52 athletes and coaches serving bans.

Of these, only 12% are professional sports men or women; 62% are amateurs, 21% are semi-professional, and 5% are coaches.

Of the 186 sanctions handed out across 22 separate sports by Ukad since it formed in 2009, 46% have been rugby union or league players – mainly at amateur and semi-professional levels.

What does the poll tell us?

Reacting to the ComRes poll for BBC Sport of more than 1,000 men and women who are members of sports clubs and teams, Sapstead said: “Certainly the figures as regards the prevalence of performance-enhancing substances at an amateur level are incredibly alarming.

“That said, it does confirm what UK Anti-Doping has long suspected and also seen through some of our intelligence-led testing.

“I don’t think any sport can say that they don’t have a problem at an amateur level.

“I think now is the time for everybody to sit up and acknowledge that this is a reality in every single sport and that you can’t just be washing your hands of it or hoping that someone else will address it.”

Sapstead also told BBC Sport:

  • Ukad needs an extension of powers and extra cash from individual sports governing bodies to “address what is fast becoming a crisis for sport”.
  • There is a “woeful lack of education” at amateur level about the health risks of doping.
  • There is a “robust” anti-doping programme in the UK, but it faces “challenges”.
  • Ukad works with police forces to target suppliers of drugs to amateur dopers.

Media playback is not supported on this device

State of Sport: Can Ukad do more to tackle doping?

Why do amateurs dope?

Of the 79 people interviewed who had specifically taken anabolic steroids, 41% said improving performance was the main reason for taking them, followed by pain relief (40%) and improving how they look (34%).

However, when this is widened out to include those who admitted taking other performance-enhancing substances, boosting results was no longer the primary reason.

Only 25% of users overall claim they have taken substances with the intention of improving performance.

Over half say they were primarily used for pain relief, while 17% say they were used to improve looks.

“I think there are clearly a group of individuals seeking to enhance their performance by taking prohibited substances,” said Sapstead, “and then there are others who were taking these substances because they have a body image problem, or actually because they think it’s the done thing.”

Is doping a younger issue?

Younger people are the main users of anabolic steroids in amateur sport, according to the poll for BBC Sport.

Among sports club members aged 18-34, 13% say they have taken steroids to support performance or recovery while playing. Not one interviewee aged 55 or over said they had used anabolic steroids.


‘Lack of money’ prompts care firms to end council contracts

Carer with womanImage copyright
Getty Images

Care firms have cancelled contracts with 95 UK councils, saying they cannot deliver services for the amount they are being paid, a BBC Panorama investigation has found.

Some firms said they could not recruit or retain the staff they needed.

The Local Government Association said it was the result of “historic under-funding” and an ageing population.

The government declined an interview but said English councils had received £9.25bn for social care.

The figure for the number of cancelled contracts comes from a Freedom of Information request, which was responded to by 197 of 212 UK councils.

According to the research, carried out for Panorama by Opus Restructuring and Company Watch, 69 home care companies have closed in the last three months and one in four of the UK’s 2,500 home care companies is at risk of insolvency.

Councillor Izzi Seccombe from the Local Government Association – which represents councils across England and Wales – said: “We have warned that the combination of the historic under-funding of adult social care, and the significant pressures of an ageing population and the national living wage, are pushing the care provider market to the brink of collapse.

“These figures show the enormous strain providers are under, and emphasises the urgent need for a long-term, sustainable solution to the social care funding crisis.”

Many home care companies say their biggest problem is recruitment and retention of carers.

The Centre for Workforce Intelligence estimates at least two million more carers will be needed by 2025 in England alone, in both in-home care and care homes, to cope with growing demand.

Last October, the regulator for England, the Care Quality Commission, warned that adult social care was at a tipping point.

  • Who gets social care and who pays for it?
  • 10 charts that show what’s gone wrong with social care
  • How can social care be funded?

Image caption

There are 800,000 home care workers in the UK

One home care company, Cymorth Llaw, which had contracts with three councils in north Wales, told Panorama it had recently stopped working with one – Conwy, which had initially paid £14.20 an hour for care.

It offered to raise that to £15, but the company decided that still wasn’t enough and handed back the contract.

Ken Hogg, at Cymorth Llaw, said: “We didn’t think we could do it for the money – it was as simple as that.

“We pay as much [in wages] as we possibly can and we’ve always paid above what was the national minimum wage and the national living wage.

“[Carers] get a mileage allowance, they get paid travelling time between their clients.”

Image caption

Ken Hogg says council funding barely covers his care home company’s costs

Mr Hogg said the company was legally obliged to pay 1% pension and 13.8% national insurance contributions, along with training and other staff-associated costs, which “doesn’t leave a great deal”.

Conwy Council said it was committed to supporting vulnerable people in communities, despite the financial challenges.

Home care company Mears used to have a contract with Liverpool City Council but cancelled it in July, saying £13.10 an hour was not enough to cover costs.

Mears said it needed at least £15 an hour, and like other companies across the UK, argued its costs are often greater than what councils pay.

Alan Long, executive director at Mears, said: “That was a terrible thing to do for both service users and for care staff.

“We absolutely did not take that lightly, but frankly what choice did we have?

“We just cannot do the two most basic things that you need to do in home care – pay staff the absolute minimum of a living wage and be able to recruit enough people to deliver the service that Liverpool Council actually expected from us.”

Bed shortages

The industry’s trade body, the United Kingdom Homecare Association, said many companies were really struggling.

Colin Angel, its policy and campaigns director, said some care providers are “really desperate” and “really do not know whether they’re going to be able to continue in business, beyond the next year”.

He added: “That means they’re really having to make some hard commercial decisions, whether they might need to cease trading or indeed just hand back work to local councils.”

The nationwide shortage of carers is leaving many elderly people stuck in NHS wards, which results in bed blocking.

Government figures show there are more than 6,500 people across Britain stuck in an acute hospital bed, despite being well enough to leave.

In England, a third of these are waiting for a home care package.

Image caption

Colin Angel has concerns that more care home companies may close in the coming months

Mike Furlong, manager of the Granby Rehabilitation Unit in Liverpool, told Panorama that while on average people spend 28 days at the care facility, “some patients have been with us 12 and 14 weeks because all the therapy is complete, but unfortunately there’s no care package available at the end of it”.

Liverpool City Council said that, over the last seven years, its budget had been cut by £330m and it now needed to find a further £90m over the next three years.

Samih Kalakeche, Liverpool’s director of adult social services, said: “Is there a crisis in the home care services? I’ll say yes, there is – and it’s not just money, it’s the sheer volume of demographics.

“We’ve got an ageing population which we welcome, but we don’t have enough people coming into the industry.”

‘£2bn extra’

Earlier this month, Chancellor Philip Hammond announced £2bn extra for social care for English councils over the next three years.

Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales will decide how they spend their extra funding.

But the industry says that with an increasingly ageing population, it’s just not enough to keep pace with demand.

The government has said it will be bringing forward more proposals later this year, to ensure a financially sustainable social care system.

Panorama: Britain’s Home Care Crisis – Monday, 20 March, 20:30 GMT, BBC One

Article source:

William and Kate meet French attack survivors

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in front of the Eiffel TowerImage copyright

Image caption

The royal couple travelled to Paris at the request of the Foreign Office

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have met survivors of the 2015 Bataclan terror attack during a visit to Les Invalides military hospital in Paris.

Praising the survivors for their bravery, the duke told them: “We think you are very strong and very brave, you’ve made amazing progress.”

The couple’s official two-day visit began on Friday, and is seen as a mission to promote British interests.

They also visited the Musee d’Orsay and saw France v Wales in the Six Nations.

Image copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

The couple met Jessica, who was shot seven times during the attack

Image copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

They also met French war veterans during their visit to Les Invalides

Some 90 people were killed by gunmen at the Bataclan music venue in Paris in November 2015. Another 40 people died in attacks elsewhere in the city on the same night.

The royal couple met a 25-year-old, called Jessica, who was shot seven times in the leg, hip and back as she dined with friends on her birthday at La Belle Equipe restaurant, and Kevin, 28, a Bataclan concert-goer shot in the leg.

Jessica, whose friend Victor Munoz was killed with one shot, said: “At first I was a bit shy and didn’t want to talk about it because of all of the pain and grief.

“But now I want to say we are not only victims, we have lives, we have boyfriends, girlfriends, work.

“I want to speak about my friend who died, to honour him. I want people to remember who he was.”

Image copyright

Image caption

Outside the hospital they were welcomed by French children

Image copyright

Image caption

The duchess was presented with a bouquet of spring flowers

As the duke and duchess toured the historic Les Invalides hospital, where they also met war veterans, a man was shot dead as he tried to grab a soldier’s gun attack at Orly Airport in Paris.

The incident did not affect their itinerary and there was no sign of security being increased.

They later attended a “Les Voisins [neighbours] in Action” event at the Trocadero square, highlighting the ties between young people in France and the UK, before moving on to the rugby at the Stade de France.

France scored a try and a conversion to win 20-18 over Wales deep into extra time.


Image copyright

By Nicholas Witchell, BBC royal correspondent

Not since the Queen’s visit to the Republic of Ireland in 2011 have the royals had such a clear-cut foreign mission.

Not that the British government would ever admit as much, but it is that same government which decides where to deploy the senior royals on their foreign travels – and at the moment the royals are being despatched to countries within the European Union.

Prince William and Catherine in Paris over the past two days and then, in July, to Germany and Poland; Charles and Camilla to Italy and Austria in a couple of weeks; and not forgetting that the Queen herself will be hosting a state visit to Britain by the King of Spain in June.

The British Royal Family are expected to be strictly non-political at home – but on their official foreign travels they are emblems of Britain and instruments of British foreign policy.

And right at the moment – with hugely important and potentially very difficult Brexit talks about to start – they are being sent off in pursuit of British interests.

They are, perhaps uniquely, able to represent the bigger picture by drawing attention to the many shared interests the United Kingdom has with its European neighbours – interests and endeavours which will continue long after the ink has dried on whatever terms the politicians finally agree for Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union.

Image copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

Well-wishers waved Union Jack flags as they gathered to meet the couple at Trocadero square

Image copyright

Image caption

They were attending an event promoting ties between young people in France and the UK

Image copyright

Image caption

The duke and duchess attended the France v Wales rugby match at the Stade de France

Speaking at the start of the official visit on Friday, the prince said the UK’s relationship with France would continue despite the vote to leave the EU.

He said the friendship and co-operation between the two nations “would not change”.

It is Prince William’s first official visit to the city where his mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, was killed in a car crash in 1997.

The trip comes also comes after the duke faced questions over his work ethic for missing a Commonwealth celebration to take a skiing holiday with friends.

It led to criticism from some newspapers after a video emerged of him dancing and in a DJ booth during the trip

Prince William: How hard has he worked in 2017 so far?

Do you have what it takes to work for the Duchess?

The couple have travelled without their children, three-year-old George and one-year-old Charlotte.

Kensington Palace said the trip was at the request of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

A spokeswoman for the Foreign Office said: “Royal visits play a very important role in the United Kingdom’s bilateral diplomacy.

“Whilst every royal visit is unique, each visit is designed to support foreign policy objectives and promote closer ties across a range of areas, for example cultural, economic or political, between the UK and the host country.”

Article source:

‘Chatted up’ tourist beaten up near Tube station

Unnamed victim of Tube attackImage copyright
Met Police

Image caption

The victim, who does not want to be named, has released a picture of her injuries.

A tourist was repeatedly punched in the face after she rejected the advances of a man who followed her from a London Tube station.

The 60-year-old was attacked by a man in his late 20s on 10 March after she left Warwick Avenue station.

The Met said the victim had earlier “politely” rejected the man’s attempts to “chat her up”.

Detectives are now appealing for information to help trace the woman’s attacker.

As part of the appeal the victim, who does not wish to be named, released a picture of her injuries.

‘Busy area’

The attacker is described as white, aged 25 to 27, about 5ft 8in tall, with short brown hair and brown eyes.

He was wearing light-coloured trousers, a brown jacket and a black baseball cap.

The Met said after failing to chat up the victim he followed her as she walked along Warwick Avenue towards Formosa Street, near Paddington.

He then grabbed her from behind and repeatedly hit her in the face, leaving her needing surgery.

After being found by a passer-by she was taken to hospital.

Det Con Mike Reilly, said: “Warwick Avenue is a busy area, especially at 8pm on a Friday evening.

“Someone must have seen something and I’d appeal for anyone with information to come forward as soon as possible so we can bring the perpetrator to justice.”

Article source:

Sturgeon: Holyrood’s will ‘must and will prevail’

Media captionNicola Sturgeon: “Let the PM be in no doubt – the will of our parliament must and will prevail.”

The SNP’s Nicola Sturgeon has told her party conference that the will of Holyrood “must and will prevail” over a new independence referendum.

MSPs will debate calling for permission for a vote on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Theresa May said “now is not the time” for a second referendum and has indicated that the UK government would reject the SNP’s preferred timetable.

Ms Sturgeon told delegates that refusing the call would “shatter” the idea of a partnership of equals.

A second referendum has become the focus of the conference after the UK government said it would reject Ms Sturgeon’s call for a vote between Autumn 2018 and Spring 2019.

Mrs May argues that it would not be fair to hold a referendum before the state of the UK outside the EU becomes clear.

But the SNP leader told the party gathering that “Scotland’s future must be Scotland’s choice”, citing an SNP manifesto pledge that there could be a new referendum if there was a “significant and material” change in circumstances.

‘Time to think again’

She said: “Next week, in line with the mandate secured at last May’s election, we will ask the Scottish Parliament to agree that the Scottish people should have the right to choose our own future.

“We will ask parliament to agree that this choice should be exercised at a time when we know the terms of Brexit but before it is too late to take a different path. And we will ask parliament’s permission to seek the legal authority that will allow the people of Scotland to have that choice.

“If a majority in the Scottish Parliament endorses that position, the prime minister should be clear about this.

“At that point a fair, legal, agreed referendum – on a timescale that will allow the people of Scotland an informed choice – ceases to be just my proposal, or that of the SNP.

“It becomes the will of the democratically-elected parliament of Scotland.”


By BBC Scotland political editor Brian Taylor

Image copyright

Image caption

Ms Sturgeon was addressing the SNP conference in Aberdeen

Brexit may be the trigger for the referendum, but it appears that it is not the first minister’s focus with regard to the referendum. That reflects, of course, the fact that there is precious little sign of zeal for the EU, even in Remain-voting Scotland. There are many, indeed, who voted Yes in 2014 but Leave in 2016.

Rather, the First Minister focused upon what sort of country Scotland is and might become. To do so, she characterised the UK offer as driven by a hard Right, Brexiteer Tory administration – which she envisaged as enduring for a substantial period.

She was offering an “inclusive” Scotland in contradistinction to that depiction. In short, she was not suggesting that Scots might choose between membership of the UK and membership of the EU.

The choice would be between “progressive” Scotland and reactionary UK.

Read more from Brian here

The Greens have said they will back the SNP in the vote, which follows a two-day debate, giving Ms Sturgeon a majority.

The first minister said that to “stand in defiance” of this would “shatter beyond repair any notion of the UK as a respectful partnership of equals”.

She added: “She [Mrs May] has time to think again and I hope she does. If her concern is timing, then – within reason – I am happy to have that discussion.

“But she should be in no doubt. The will of our parliament must and will prevail.”

Economic arguments

Ms Sturgeon said the case for independence should be made “with courtesy, understanding and respect”.

And she said it was important to “embrace” scrutiny of the economic side of the argument, saying “it will be up to us to demonstrate how difficulties can be overcome”.

She added: “As we debate our future, let’s do so openly and honestly. But let no-one – for or against independence – ever seek to run down Scotland’s strengths and our great potential.

“We should also be clear about this – those who argue for Scotland to stay in the UK have big economic questions to answer too. We know that down that path lies austerity, cuts and the impact of leaving the single market.”

Media captionGordon Brown: “If we leave the British single market then a more dramatic set of consequences follow.”

Earlier on Saturday, former prime minister Gordon Brown set out a “third option” for Scotland’s future, based on more powers being transferred to Holyrood after Brexit.

He told a gathering in Kirkcaldy, Fife, that a new form of federal home rule was needed to unite the country and avoid years of “bitter division”.

Mr Brown explained: “The third option, a patriotic Scottish way and free from the absolutism of the SNP and the do-nothingism of the Tories, is now essential because post-Brexit realities make the status quo redundant and require us to break with the past.”

He also said that if Scotland voted for an independence today the country would face greater consequences then it might have done in 2014.

Mr Brown said: “If we leave the British single market, which was not the proposal in 2014 of the Scottish National Party, then a more dramatic set of consequences follow.”

Article source:

Duke and Duchess of Cambridge head to Paris for two-day visit

The Duke and Duchess on a royal tour of Canada in 2016Image copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

The Duke and Duchess on a royal tour of Canada in 2016

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are due to travel to Paris later, on a two-day official visit.

The royal couple will meet survivors of the Bataclan and Nice attacks.

The trip comes just after Prince William faced a media backlash for missing a Commonwealth celebration to take a skiing holiday with friends.

It will be the Duke’s first official visit to the French capital since his mother Princess Diana’s death, in 1997.

He was 15 and his brother Prince Harry was 12 when she was killed in a car crash in the city.

Kensington Palace said the trip was at the request of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Prince William has faced criticism from some newspapers this week after a video emerged of him dancing and in a DJ booth during a trip with friends to Verbier.

It led to questions over his work ethic after he missed a Commonwealth event with the Queen to take the holiday.

The itinerary for the Paris visit includes a reception for young French leaders and a formal dinner at the British Embassy.

The couple will be travelling without their children, three-year-old George and one-year-old Charlotte.

A spokeswoman for the FCO said: “Royal visits play a very important role in the United Kingdom’s bilateral diplomacy.

“Whilst every royal visit is unique, each visit is designed to support foreign policy objectives and promote closer ties across a range of areas, for example cultural, economic or political, between the UK and the host country.”

‘The glamorous card’

The trip comes a day after the Queen gave Royal Assent to the Brexit bill, which will allow the prime minister to notify Brussels that the UK is leaving the EU.

French political magazine Le Point said the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were “the weapon of glamour against a hard Brexit” and said the visit was an attempt “to mitigate” the effect of Brexit on Europe.

Gala magazine called them “the glamorous card to make you forget Brexit“.

Overseas trips are decided by the Royal Visits Committee, whose membership includes a number of royal private secretaries, the private secretary to the prime minister, the permanent under secretary of the FCO and the keeper of the Privy purse.

In July, Prince William and Kate will tour Poland and Germany on official visits.

Later this month, the Prince of Wales will embark on a nine-day visit to Europe, beginning in Romania followed by Italy and Austria.

Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall will travel for the first time on the prime ministerial jet dubbed “Cam Force One” – the converted RAF A330 Voyager refuelling aircraft which was used by David Cameron when he was in office.

Article source: