Parsons Green: Man arrested over Tube bombing

Parsons Green tube stationImage copyright

Image caption

Police have spoken to 45 witnesses so far and received 77 images and videos from the public

An 18-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of a terror offence in connection with Friday’s attack on a London Tube train.

The man was held in Dover on Saturday and taken to a Kent police station – he will be moved to south London later.

The arrest is “significant” but the terror threat level remains at “critical”, Metropolitan Police Deputy Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu said.

Thirty people were injured after the explosion on a train at Parsons Green.

Met Police Commissioner Cressida Dick described the attack as “cowardly and indiscriminate”.

Ms Dick, who travelled by Tube to Waterloo station before joining Met officers patrolling the South Bank, said: “London has not stopped after other terrible attacks and it will not stop after this one.”

Home Secretary Amber Rudd chaired a meeting of the government’s Cobra emergency committee and it concluded the UK terrorist threat level should remain at “critical”.

It had been raised to that level – which is the highest and means an attack may be imminent – on Friday evening.

The public should remain vigilant, Mr Basu said, as the force was not changing its “protective security measures” and extra armed officers were still being deployed.

Image copyright

Image caption

Met Police Commissioner Cressida Dick joined police patrolling London’s South Bank

Operation Temperer, which involves the use of the military and was put in place after the threat level was raised, is being stepped up gradually.

Home affairs correspondent Danny Shaw said it is focused on London and the south-east of England and is being described as “light-touch”, and not on the same scale as what was seen after the Manchester Arena attack.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said “significant” police activity would continue over the weekend and thanked police, adding: “They are there to keep us safe”.

More armed police officers will be present at London Underground stations, as well as at stations across England, Scotland and Wales, British Transport Police Assistant Chief Constable Robin Smith told the BBC.

Most people caught in the blast were treated for minor injuries and have been released, NHS England said, but three people remain in Chelsea and Westminster hospital in central London.

Analysis: A ‘critical’ change

Image copyright

By BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner

This is the fourth time the UK national terror threat level has been raised to “critical” since the system was made public in 2006.

The last time was in May this year following the Manchester Arena bombing, when it was wrongly thought that the bomb-maker was still at large and could strike again.

In the case of Parsons Green it is perhaps surprising that it took the government so long – over 12 hours – to raise the threat level to critical, under advice from the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre, when it was obvious the perpetrator had neither died nor been caught.

Each time the level has gone to critical, it has only stayed at this highest level of alertness for three to four days – this is partly as it involves an unsustainably high tempo for the police, intelligence and security services.

Extra patrols are mounted on the streets of London, covert surveillance is stepped up and troops are deployed to free up police officers to focus on the main effort: catching the bomber before he can plant another device.

But the very fact that yesterday’s attack took place with no warning shows this system is only a broad guide to the threat and simply reflects the latest assessment.

The BBC understands CCTV images have been obtained of the person suspected of planting the explosive device.

The Islamic State group has said it was behind the bomb, which detonated at 08:20 BST on Friday.

It is understood the device had a timer, but the BBC’s security correspondent Frank Gardner said the bomb appeared not to have gone off properly.

Had it worked as intended, it would have killed everyone around it and maimed everyone in the train carriage for life, he said.

The Met’s Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley said it was “very routine” for the Islamic State group to claim the attack, whether in contact with those involved or not.

Police have spoken to 45 witnesses so far and have received 77 images and videos from the public.

They urge anyone with information to get in touch and to upload pictures and video to the website or to call the Anti-Terrorist Hotline on 0800 789 321.

Were you at Parsons Green station? Did you witness the events? If it’s safe to share your experiences then please email

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:

Sampha wins Mercury Prize for his debut album, Process

Media caption‘Winning the Mercury is like a dream,’ Sampha tells BBC 6 Music

Soul singer Sampha has been awarded the 2017 Hyundai Mercury Prize for his mournful and intimate album, Process.

The singer, who for a long time was better known as a guest vocalist on other people’s records, beat Ed Sheeran and Stormzy to win the £25,000 prize.

“I feel like I’m dreaming!” said the South London singer, before thanking his parents for giving him and his family “the best upbringing possible”.

His album ruminates on the grief he felt after his mother died of cancer.

It is best exemplified by the ballad (No One Knows Me) Like The Piano, which talks about the instrument his mother taught him to play in his childhood home.

“At the time… it was quite important for me to write music,” Sampha told the BBC about the making of his debut record.

“It helped me through everything. So it’s this weird kind of document. But it’s nice, I guess, because I’ll have it for the rest of my life.”

Media captionSampha discusses the recording of his album Process

Born in London to Sierra Leonean parents in 1988, the singer’s real name is Sampha Sissay.

He emerged on MySpace almost a decade ago, and was quickly sought out by dance producers for his honeyed, soulful vocals.

After appearing on records by SBTRKT and Jessie Ware, he was sought out by US RB royalty, and can be heard on Beyonce’s Mine, Drake’s Too Much and Solange’s Don’t Touch My Hair.

His own debut took 10 years to appear, as he cared for his ailing mother and struggled with his self-confidence.

“It took me quite a while to feel like I was emotionally stable [enough] to write my own record,” said the 28-year-old.

Since it came out in February, the reaction, he said, had been “lovely”.

“People have said it helped them… I can’t really ask for anything more,” he said.

The other nominees for the prestigious album of the year award were:

Kate Tempest’s state-of-the-nation album Let Them Eat Chaos had been the favourite to win, although it was always a close contest between her, Sampha and art-rock band Glass Animals.

Process was chosen as the victor by a panel of judges that included Marcus Mumford, Jessie Ware, Ella Eyre, Radio 1′s Clara Amfo and jazz musician Jamie Cullum.

They said the deliberation was the prize’s “longest ever”, even after last year’s jury was split between David Bowie’s swansong Blackstar and the eventual winner, Skepta.

Full details of the judges’ debate have yet to be revealed, but Mumford told the BBC: “We were only allowed to talk about positive things. So I shut up quite a lot.”

Sampha accepted his award from actor Idris Elba, and immediately dedicated it to his late parents.

“My mum would be very proud. My dad would probably be embarrassingly proud,” he said afterwards.

The Mercury Prize ceremony featured performances from all the nominated acts – including an incendiary performance from Stormzy – and was broadcast on BBC Four and BBC 6 Music.

You can relive all the action, from the red carpet to the winner’s press conference, on BBC Music News LIVE.

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

Article source:

Arsenal game delayed by crowd trouble

Alexis Sanchez

Alexis Sanchez scored his first goal of the season for Arsenal

Alexis Sanchez scored a stunning goal as Arsenal came from behind to beat Cologne in a Europa League match delayed for an hour following crowd trouble.

Chilean Sanchez, who nearly left the club to join Manchester City on transfer deadline day, picked the ball up outside the area and curled a shot past keeper Timo Horn.

The game did not begin until 21:05 BST as thousands of visiting supporters arrived at the ground without tickets and then clashed with stewards inside the Emirates Stadium.

When the match did get under way, Cologne took the lead in spectacular fashion as Jhon Cordoba lobbed fellow Colombian David Ospina from 40 yards.

Striker Olivier Giroud planted a header wide of goal from six yards for the much-changed home side, who were booed at the half-time whistle.

But substitute Sead Kolasinac equalised with a thumping volley before Sanchez struck, and Hector Bellerin then added the third from close range, as midfielder Jack Wilshere made his first appearance for the club since August 2016.

In Group H’s other game, Red Star Belgrade drew 1-1 against BATE Borisov.

  • Relive Arsenal’s victory over Cologne

Media playback is not supported on this device

How FC Cologne fans (briefly) took over London

The importance of Alexis

Forward Sanchez scored 30 goals in all competitions for Arsenal last season as they won the FA Cup.

But in August, he almost joined former boss Pep Guardiola at Manchester City for £60m, but the Gunners pulled out of the deal after failing to find a replacement.

Sanchez made his second start of the season in an impressive showing, capping his performance with a sublime effort in the second half – his first goal of the season against the Bundesliga’s bottom side.

He could have scored another two, but struck a free-kick straight at Horn and shanked wide from inside the area.

Forgotten man Wilshere, who spent last season on loan at Bournemouth before suffering a broken leg, came on for Alex Iwobi on 68 minutes, and the England international’s clever dummy was instrumental in the lead-up to Bellerin’s goal.

20,000 does not fit into 2,900

Cologne fans

Cologne fans had been given a ticket allocation of 2,900 but 20,000 fans travelled over from Germany
  • Read more: Arsenal match delay ‘in the interest of crowd safety’

Cologne, like Arsenal, finished fifth in their domestic league last season, achieving European football for the first time in 25 years.

The Bundesliga club’s return to European competition, though, was one tainted by controversy.

There were indications on Thursday afternoon that problems may occur, with more than 20,000 fans arriving from Germany, despite the visitors receiving an allocation of 2,900 tickets.

Videos emerged on social media of the German side’s support briefly bringing parts of central London to a standstill as they threw bottles and let off flares while making their way to the ground.

The kick-off was then put back, after which skirmishes between fans and stewards took place, while many had entered the ground into the home end, climbing barriers to get into the away section.

A number of Arsenal fans inside texted BBC Football, with one supporter reporting that they felt “intimidated by the horrible, tense atmosphere”, another that they were “ashamed of Arsenal for not seeing the warning signs” and a third describing it as “the worst feeling at football in 40 years of watching”.

It remains to be seen whether Uefa charges are brought against one or both sides.

Thursday night fright


NHS workers demand 3.9% pay rise

Nursing staffImage copyright
Science Photo Library

Unions representing nurses and other NHS staff have written to the chancellor to demand a 3.9% pay rise and an extra £800 to make up for the “cut” they have seen in recent years.

Fourteen unions have joined together to ask for the increase, saying pay has fallen by 15% since 2010 once inflation is taken into account.

They said it was unfair ministers had selectively lifted the cap by agreeing a rise for police and prison officers.

The unions have over a million members.

But the British Medical Association, the doctors’ union, has not put its name to the letter, which has also been sent to the devolved nations.

In it, the unions argue that increasing pay would help tackle the shortages of staff being seen in the health service.

Nurse posts vacant

Earlier this year, research by the Royal College of Nursing suggested there were 40,000 posts unfilled – one in nine of the total.

The cost of the pay rise, which the unions want implemented across the UK from next year, would total £2.5bn.

It comes after ministers agreed to give police officers a 1% rise plus a 1% bonus, with prison officers getting a 1.7% rise – both funded from existing budgets.

The health unions, which represent a wide range of staff including nurses, midwifes, cleaners, porters, pharmacists, paramedics and dental technicians, said that still represented a pay cut.

Image copyright
Science Photo Library

Image caption

Nurses will be balloted on taking industrial action unless a 1% pay cap is dropped, says the RCN

Since 2010, pay has been frozen and then capped at 1% for public sector workers.

Unison head of health Sara Gorton said: “Health workers have gone without a proper pay rise for far too long.

“Their wages continue to fall behind inflation as food and fuel bills, housing and transport costs rise.”

RCN general secretary Janet Davies said it was important the money to pay for the rise would have to be found by the Treasury rather than taken from the NHS budget.

“When ministers hold pay down, it drives too many nurses out of the NHS,” she added.

A government spokeswoman said: “Public sector workers, including NHS staff, do a fantastic job, and the government is committed to ensuring they can continue to deliver world-class public services.

“The government will continue to ensure that the overall package is fair while also being affordable to taxpayers as a whole.”

She added next year’s pay award would be “discussed and agreed” as part of the Budget process and through the official pay review bodies and would be “set out in due course”.

Article source:

‘Despicable’ wedding planner jailed for £130k fraud

Craig WilliamsonImage copyright
Kingdom News Agency

Image caption

Craig Williamson used some of the money to pay off gambling debts

A wedding planner who defrauded £130,000 from couples booking ceremonies at an Angus castle has been jailed for 30 months.

Craig Williamson, 42, diverted money from 39 couples who had booked weddings at Guthrie Castle into his own accounts before fleeing to Ibiza.

The castle’s owner had to cover the cost of refunding the couples defrauded by Williamson.

A sheriff told Williamson he had committed a “despicable” crime.

Dundee Sheriff Court was told previously that some couples’ events were double booked and others left in limbo weeks before their weddings.

Williamson had used some of the money to finance his gambling habit.

One bride paid £19,000 to Williamson and found out her wedding was not on the books only a week before the event, but it went ahead after the castle’s owner Dan Pena met the cost.

Image caption

Guthrie Castle’s owner had to cover the cost of refunding the couples Williamson defrauded

Williamson was hired as castle and estate manager in November 2014.

In early April this year he told colleagues he was going to visit his father in Glasgow, but did not return their calls.

A missing person’s inquiry was launched and it was established Williamson had withdrawn £6,000 in cash and boarded a Eurostar train to Paris before travelling to Ibiza.

The court heard that Guthrie Castle stopped taking bookings for weddings at the venue after December 2017 as a result of Williamson’s fraud.

Williamson, a prisoner at HMP Perth, admitted a charge of fraud committed between July 2015 and April 2017.

‘Sorry mess’

Solicitor Billy Rennie, defending, said Williamson had developed a gambling addiction which led to the “initial temptation”.

Mr Rennie said: “The losses began and he ended up robbing Peter to pay Paul and ends up in this sorry mess.

“He realises it will be a different world facing him on his release from prison.”

Sheriff Alastair Carmichael told Williamson: “It was despicable to take money in good faith from people who made wedding bookings.

“One couple have had to move their wedding to 2019.

“As a result, a successful business of 12 years has been closed down due to this crime.

“Jobs have been lost and couples left in doubt about weddings.”

Article source:

Storm Aileen: Winds bring travel disruption

Media captionThe worst of Storm Aileen’s winds have rattled off towards the Netherlands, says BBC Weather’s Matt Taylor

Strong winds have caused travel disruption and power cuts across parts of the country.

Aileen, the first named storm this season, has now eased away but caused problems on rail routes and left thousands without power overnight.

The Met Office said gusts of 74mph hit Mumbles Head in south Wales, with southern parts of northern England and the north Midlands also badly affected.

Lorry drivers and motorcyclists were warned of the risk of being blown over.

Throughout the morning, rail travellers faced slower journeys and cancellations, but services now seem to be returning to normal.

On its website, National Rail said falling trees and large branches, power cuts and debris blown onto the tracks had caused difficulties.

By midday, only Southern rail was still reporting difficulties. Other services were also affected during the morning rush hour.

Image copyright
Abby Myers

Image caption

Fallen branches caused difficulties for motorists in Basildon, Essex

Image copyright
Mark Singleton

Image caption

A car is dented by a branch in Sheffield

Image copyright
Steve Bright

Image caption

In south Wales, the Taff Trail, between Radyr and Cardiff, takes a battering

At its height, the storm cut power to 60,000 homes in Wales – some for 10 minutes, others for several hours.

Western Power Distribution, which provides electricity to homes in south and west Wales, said all affected areas, from Pembrokeshire to Monmouthshire, were back up and running.

Northern Powergrid, which covers north-east England, Yorkshire and Lincolnshire, said 7,400 homes had lost power overnight, and it was still working to restore power to 800 customers.

Electricity North West said its engineers have restored power to 1,000 homes which were cut off overnight, but about 250 homes in Buxton, Macclesfield and Leigh were still without power.

Police forces in Staffordshire, Cheshire and Gloucestershire all reported trees being blown over by the winds during the night.

The Met Office said there was no connection between high winds in the UK and the recent extreme weather in the Caribbean and the US.

Skip Twitter post by @metoffice

End of Twitter post by @metoffice

The UK’s weather system came from the north, in the Atlantic, the Met Office added.

By late morning, all weather warnings had been lifted and Storm Aileen was heading for the Netherlands.

The Environment Agency has issued one flood warning for Keswick, with 14 further alerts for areas where flooding “is possible”.

By contrast, on this day last year, the temperature in Gravesend, Kent, reached 34C (93F).

Storm Aileen is the first storm to be given a name since they were announced for the 2017/18 season.

Other names on the list include Dylan, Octavia, Rebecca and Simon.

Have you been affected by Storm Aileen? Share your pictures, video 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:

Brexit: UK will ‘soon regret’ leaving EU argues Juncker

Media captionBrexit is “a very sad and tragic moment in our history”

The UK will “soon regret” leaving the EU, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has said.

Mr Juncker told the European Parliament that Brexit would be a “sad, tragic” moment for the EU but that the 27-member union would “move on”.

“Brexit is not the future of Europe. It is not the be all and end all.”

But, speaking in the same debate, ex-UKIP leader Nigel Farage said the EU had “learnt nothing” from Brexit and was ploughing “full steam ahead”.

In his state of the union speech in Strasbourg, Mr Juncker proposed an EU summit on the day after Brexit, 30 March 2019, in the Romanian city of Sibiu to map out the future of the European Union.

He called for closer economic and defence co-operation among member states, including more support for states outside the eurozone to prepare them to join the single currency, and reforms to the single market.

Reflecting on the economic and political challenges that the continent had faced in recent years, he said the “wind is back in Europe’s sails”.

While he respected the choice of the British people to go their own way, he said the UK’s exit would prove a “very sad, tragic moment in our history”.

He added: “We will always regret this. I think you will regret it as well soon, if I might say.”

But he stressed that Brexit “was not everything” and an increasingly confident EU would continue to advance, focusing as he put it on the big strategic challenges rather than “the small things”.

‘More Europe’

Mr Farage, the best known campaigner in the Parliament for the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, attacked what he said were “truly worrying” plans to create a single president of the EU, an EU finance minister and a “strong EU army in a militarised Europe”.

He said what was being proposed was “more Europe in every single direction… without the consent of the people”.

Image copyright

Image caption

The EU would further centralise power after Brexit, Mr Farage said

He also warned the idea of allowing future candidates to the European Parliament to stand on transnational tickets, rather than representing nation states, was anti-democratic and “reminiscent of regimes of old”.

“You have learnt nothing from Brexit. If you had offered David Cameron concessions, particularly on immigration, I would have to admit that the Brexit vote would never ever have happened,” he said.

Telling MEPs “thank God we are leaving”, Mr Farage said the EU was “deluding itself” if it believed the “populist wave” of protests against the established European political order was over.

Responding to Mr Juncker’s comments, justice minister Sam Gyimah said his initial reaction was “he would say that, wouldn’t he” and he had signalled a future direction for Europe that “Britain was never going to go in”.

Rather than “berating Britain”, the Conservative MP told the BBC’s Daily Politics that the EU’s best interests would be served by agreeing a Brexit deal which made the whole of Europe more prosperous and secure.

Negotiations between the UK and EU are continuing although the latest round of talks, due to begin on Monday, have been put back a week to allow “more time for consultation”.

Speaking on Tuesday, former Brexit minister Lord Bridges said the UK must be “honest” about the “complexity and scale” of leaving the EU as well as the lack of time to reach agreement with the EU.

And France’s economy minister has sounded a warning that it will aggressively target new business as it seeks to make Paris the pre-eminent financial centre on the continent.

Changes to the country’s labour laws meant France would become the “place to be” for financial services, Benjamin Griveaux told BBC Radio 4′s Today, while acknowledging London would remain a major player.

“We need to have a fair Brexit, but we need to move on and we need probably more clarity and less ambiguity from the British government regarding the target of Brexit,” he added.

Article source:

Hurricane Irma: Briton stuck on ‘war zone’ island rescued

Alex Woolfall sitting on sandbagsImage copyright
Twitter/Alex Woolfall

A British tourist who live tweeted his terror as Hurricane Irma struck has been rescued by the US air force.

Alex Woolfall, from London, who was on holiday on the Caribbean island of St Martin, has been taken to Puerto Rico.

Four days ago, he was evacuated from his hotel room to a concrete stairwell to hide from the storm and described the “apocalyptic” noise as it hit.

Mr Woolfall told the BBC the island now looks “like a war zone after heavy bombardment”.

The PR consultant posted updates for more than 20 hours while trapped in the stairwell of the Westin Hotel, describing the soaring temperature and “terrifying” sounds.

Mr Woolfall said the experience was “like a movie I never want to see”.

His updates eventually stopped after power to the island was cut, and his Twitter account remained silent for several days until his rescue.

Skip Twitter post by @woolfallalex

End of Twitter post by @woolfallalex

Mr Woolfall said a military plane airlifted him to safety just as the next storm of the season – Hurricane Jose – was approaching.

Irma strengthens as it closes on Florida

Royal Marines take aid to Irma victims

In pictures: Irma devastates British Virgin Islands

Hurricane Irma: Visual guide

Shortly after his rescue, he told the BBC about the devastation he left behind.

“Even the plants and trees looks like they have been scorched,” he wrote.

“People made homeless overnight, sitting in the street with no power or water. It’s heartbreaking and they need our help.

“At the same time, I have never in my life experienced such kindness. Local staff at the Westin who have lost everything and have no idea if family and friends are alive came in day after day to look after tourists.

“They were distressed but worked round the clock to provide drinking water and food and support.

“Even as we left, local people sat outside in the rubble waving and shouting, ‘Good luck. Get home safely.’

“It was extremely moving but upsetting at the same time.”

Skip Twitter post 2 by @woolfallalex

End of Twitter post 2 by @woolfallalex

Skip Twitter post 3 by @woolfallalex

End of Twitter post 3 by @woolfallalex

Mr Woolfall said he hoped help would come for the island from the Dutch and French governments, especially with the threat from Hurricane Jose now looming.

Before being evacuated by hotel staff, he said guests had been advised to close blackout curtains, stay away from windows and stay inside the building.

Mr Woolfall said, in a series of tweets during the storm, the noise was “like standing behind a jet engine” – “apocalyptic” with “constant booms and bangs”.

Later he asked for prayers saying he was “pretty terrified”.

Article source:

Tony Blair wants tougher immigration rules for EU citizens

Tony BlairImage copyright

Tony Blair has called on the government to introduce a new UK immigration policy which “reasserts control”.

When he was prime minister, his government – unlike most EU countries – did not apply transitional controls on migrants from eastern Europe.

But in a Sunday Times article, he said “times were different” now, and all EU nationals should register on arrival and should already have a job offer.

However, Mr Blair still opposes leaving the EU, saying it will be “painful”.

He says tougher immigration policies could “deal with the anxieties” that he says led to the Brexit vote – without the UK necessarily having to go through with it.

‘Restrict healthcare’

Under existing rules, citizens of other EU countries can be removed after six months if they have not found a job, have no realistic possibility of finding one, and require support from the welfare system.

But the new report by Mr Blair’s Institute for Global Change says EU nationals should already have an offer of work when they arrive.

Those who didn’t earn permission to stay would be banned from opening a bank account, renting a home or claiming benefits.

The report also proposes restricting free healthcare for unemployed migrants and letting universities charge EU nationals higher tuition fees than British students.

  • No restrictions a ‘spectacular mistake’
  • Eastern European workers in UK pass 1m
  • Reality Check: Migration to the UK

He argues his approach “reaches out to Leave voters to show their concerns are better met”, without “the damage” he claims Brexit will do.

And he acknowledges that his thinking has changed.

“My government in 2004 did not invoke the transitional arrangements when eastern Europe joined the EU,” he writes.

“Back then the economy was strong, the workers were needed and actually the biggest annual numbers came post-2011.

“But the real point is that the times were different; the sentiment was different; and intelligent politics takes account of such change.”

The co-chairman of the campaign group Leave Means Leave, Richard Tice, said Tony Blair’s attempt to deny democracy would be seen for what it was.

Downing Street declined to comment.

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

Article source:

UK’s Hurricane Irma response was not late – Fallon

UK troops distributing aidImage copyright

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon has insisted the UK was “not late” in its response to help British overseas territories hit by Hurricane Irma.

Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show, he said the government’s response had been “as good as anybody else’s”.

Two senior MPs and residents of the Caribbean islands have criticised the response after the storm struck.

Some 500 UK troops have been sent to Anguilla, Turks and Caicos, and British Virgin Islands (BVI).

Asked about reports of looting in the region, Sir Michael said there had been a “security issue” in the BVI.

He added the UK was sending in armed troops backed up by additional police from Britain to help local authorities “ensure law and order is maintained”.

Currently there are 120 UK troops in the BVI, where five people have died, Sir Michael told the programme.

He dismissed comments from Conservative MP Tom Tugendhat and Tory peer Lord Naseby who have said the response was “too slow” and slower than France and Holland.

‘Invisible response’

Sir Michael said: “We weren’t late. We prepositioned a ship in the Caribbean for the hurricane season, it wasn’t by chance that Mounts Bay, a huge 16,000-tonne aid ship, with marines with a helicopter with pallets of aid was already in the Caribbean.”

Charlotte Grayson whose father and siblings live on Tortola, in the BVI, said the government response was “almost invisible”.

“Looting has been rife and he has struggled to obtain more basic supplies for my family.

“My dad hasn’t seen a police officer since Irma hit, he complained that nobody was driving around to give residents any information and their only source had been USVI [US Virgin Islands] radio,” she told the BBC.

What has happened in British territories?

  • Anguilla: Hit by the full blast of the hurricane on Wednesday. At least one death reported.
  • British Virgin Islands: At least five people have died. Expected to require extensive humanitarian assistance.
  • Montserrat: “Swiped” by Irma but suffered less serious damage.
  • Turks and Caicos: Battered by the hurricane on Thursday night, with roofs ripped off, streets flooded, utility poles snapped and a widespread black-out on the main island of Grand Turk.

The French have military garrisons in their Caribbean overseas territories so already have troops in position, the defence secretary added.

“Our response has been as good as anybody else’s and indeed I can tell you the French have asked now for our assistance in helping to lift troops and material to some of their islands.”

Article source: