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Man arrested in Bulgaria over alleged indecent assault of 14-year-old girl in Rotherham | UK News

A man wanted in connection with the alleged indecent assault of a 14-year-old girl in Rotherham has been arrested in Bulgaria.

Shahid Hussain, a Pakistani national who previously lived in the South Yorkshire town, was detained at a border crossing between Bulgaria and Turkey, according to the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA).

The 48-year-old was held by Bulgarian police officers at the Kapitan Andreevo border post on 26 November as he tried to enter the country from Turkey.

Hussain is wanted over the alleged indecent assault of the girl, which is said to have happened in 2003.

He was charged with offences in July 2018, but failed to appear in court.

A European Arrest Warrant was later obtained by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

NCA operations manager Stuart Cobb said: “Hussain has been wanted by the NCA for more than five years, and we were always determined that he be brought back to the UK to face those charges.

“We will be working with our partners at the CPS and in Bulgaria to ensure that happens and the extradition process continues.”

The investigation into Hussain is part of Operation Stovewood, which is looking into non-familial child sexual exploitation in Rotherham between 1997 to 2013.

NCA officers have so far made more than 200 arrests and have more than 50 active investigations under the Stovewood banner.

While the NCA has committed to complete the current investigations, it has previously announced it will no longer adopt new investigations from January 2024.

Former Labour chancellor Alistair Darling dies | Politics News

Alistair Darling, who served as chancellor under then prime minister Gordon Brown, has died at the age of 70.

His family confirmed the news about the Labour peer on Thursday, calling him “the much-loved husband of Margaret and beloved father of Calum and Anna”.

Lord Darling became a household name when Gordon Brown appointed him chancellor after taking the keys to Number 10 back in 2007.

He ran the Treasury throughout the global banking crisis, and stayed in post until Mr Brown lost the election in 2010.

But he was a presence in Tony Blair’s government from the start, beginning as chief secretary to the treasury in 1997 following Labour’s landslide victory, and going on to run a number of departments – including work and pensions, transport and trade.

He was a member of parliament from 1987 until he stepped down in 2015.

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UK to launch an Online Fraud Charter with 11 major tech companies including TikTok, Snapchat and YouTube | Politics News

The UK is to launch an Online Fraud Charter with 11 major tech companies in a “world-first” initiative to combat scams, fake adverts and romance fraud.

Home Secretary James Cleverly will host representatives from several leading tech companies – including Facebook, TikTok, Snapchat and YouTube – to sign the pledge to tackle internet fraud on Thursday.

Other firms signing the voluntary agreement include Amazon, eBay, Google, Instagram, LinkedIn, Match Group and Microsoft.

The charter will call on the firms to introduce a number of measures to better protect users, including verifying new advertisers and promptly removing fraudulent content.

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There will also be increased levels of verification on peer-to-peer marketplaces and people using online dating services.

The companies will pledge to implement the measures which apply to their services within six months.

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James Cleverly leaves 10 Downing Street after attending a cabinet meeting 
James Cleverly Pic:AP

It will be backed by a crackdown on illegal adverts and promotions for age-restricted products such as alcohol or gambling which target children.

These steps will be detailed in an action plan published by the Online Advertising Taskforce.

Mr Cleverly, who will announce the charter at Lancaster House, said: “The Online Fraud Charter is a big step forward in our efforts to protect the public from sophisticated, adaptable and highly organised criminals.

“An agreement of this kind has never been done on this scale before and I am exceptionally pleased to see tech firms working with us to turn the tide against fraudsters.

“Our work does not end here – I will continue to ensure we collaborate across government, and with law enforcement and the private sector, to ensure everyone in the UK is better protected from fraud.”

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Each of the tech firms will pledge to work closely with law enforcement including creating direct routes to report suspicious activity.

The government highlighted that fraud accounts for about 40% of all crime in England and Wales, with data from UK Finance showing that almost 80% of authorised pushed payment fraud originating from social media or fake websites.

The news comes as cyber security experts warn that the rise of generative AI tools such as ChatGPT is helping cybercriminals create more convincing and sophisticated scams.

As ChatGPT marks the first anniversary of its launch to the public, a number of experts have said the technology is being leveraged by bad actors online.

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PM hails ‘landmark’ AI agreement

They warn that generative AI tools for text and image creation are making it easier for criminals to create convincing scams, but also that AI is being used to help boost cyber defences.

At the UK’s AI Safety Summit earlier this month, the threat of more sophisticated cyber attacks powered by AI was highlighted as a key risk going forward, with world leaders agreeing to work together on the issue.

The UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has also highlighted the use of AI to create and spread disinformation as a key threat in years to come, especially around elections.

Sir Elton John to MPs: Next election winner can help eradicate AIDS by 2030 | Politics News

The winner of the next general election can help the UK eradicate AIDS worldwide by the end of the decade, Sir Elton John has told MPs.

The singer spoke to a cross-party blend of politicians in Westminster after the government announced an increase in opt-out testing for HIV at accident and emergency departments in all high prevalence areas for the virus in England.

Some 46 more A&Es will employ the testing, up from the existing 34 that were taking part in a trial – which also screens for viruses like hepatitis B and C.

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Since April last year, around 4,000 people with HIV have been identified through the scheme after more than 1.4 million samples were tested.

It is thought more than 4,500 people are living in England with HIV but are not aware.

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June: Sir Elton ‘not chilling out’ after farewell tour

“Automatic testing gets to people earlier, which means less HIV transmission, less illness, less death and by the estimate of health economists, £50m saved for the NHS,” Sir Elton said.

“So, to hear today from the secretary of state that this work will be expanded to every high HIV prevalence area… 46 new accident and emergency departments in local hospitals across England… more than doubling the number of HIV tests, is truly wonderful news.”

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He continued: “Whoever wins the next general election can help to end AIDS worldwide by 2030.

“Starting right here at home. In the UK, new HIV diagnoses are down 46% since their peak in 2015.

“We can be the first country in the world to defeat this awful virus. Playing our part, fulfilling the United Nations goal and showing other nations how it’s done.”

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 29: Sir Keir Starmer, Leader of The Labour Party, and Sir Elton John attend a reception honouring Sir Elton John hosted by the All Party Parliamentary Group on HIV/AIDS at Speakers House in recognition of his enduring commitment to ending the AIDS epidemic, both personally and through the work of the Elton John AIDS Foundation, on November 29, 2023 in London, England. ..Photo by Dave Benett
Labour Leader Sir Keir Starmer with Sir Elton. Pic: Dave Benett

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 29: Victoria Atkins, Secretary of State for Health, and Sir Elton John attend a reception honouring Sir Elton John hosted by the All Party Parliamentary Group on HIV/AIDS at Speakers House in recognition of his enduring commitment to ending the AIDS epidemic, both personally and through the work of the Elton John AIDS Foundation, on November 29, 2023 in London, England. ..Photo by Dave Benett
Health Secretary Victoria Atkins with Sir Elton. Pic: Dave Benett

Sir Lindsay Hoyle, Speaker of the House of Commons, said: “It is an honour to host this reception for Elton John in recognition of his work to end HIV and AIDS.

“Sir Elton has been an unwavering advocate in the fight against HIV and AIDS for four decades. His efforts have helped destigmatize the disease, promote education, and provide crucial support to those affected, making him a true champion in the goal to end AIDS.”

Florence Eshalomi MP, co-chair of the all party parliamentary group on HIV/AIDS, said: “We are delighted that the government today has taken concrete steps to increase and normalise HIV testing in the UK.

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“The APPG believes that as parliamentarians, we should play our part in addressing this epidemic and this is something we have been calling for following the successful roll-out of opt-out to extremely high prevalence areas.

“We also echo Elton John’s comments that whilst this will have a very real and significant impact, there is still a huge amount that needs to be done to end the AIDS epidemic both here in the UK and abroad.”

£20,000 reward in hunt to track down attacker who stabbed police officer in North Ayrshire | UK News

A £20,000 reward is being offered in the hunt for an attacker who stabbed a police officer last month.

The 30-year-old was attacked in North Ayrshire while three officers were investigating a report of a break-in at a property in Arthur Street, Stevenston, during the early hours of 18 October.

At the time, Chief Superintendent Raymond Higgins branded the attack “despicable”.

The Scottish Police Federation (SPF) reported that the officer sustained a “significant injury”, but colleagues would rally round.

The force’s union condemned the “traumatic incident” and said it showed the “unpredictable nature of policing”.

No one else was injured and, to date, no one has been charged over the stabbing.

Crimestoppers is now offering a reward of up to £20,000 for information that leads to a conviction in connection with the case.

The charity, which is independent of the police, guarantees the anonymity of any individual who comes forward.

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Angela Parker, Crimestoppers national manager for Scotland, said: “Whilst we are not the police, our charity works closely with them every day by passing on essential tip-offs given to us anonymously.

“Our role is vital in keeping people and communities safe.

“We understand that it can be difficult to come forward with crime information, which is why our charity is here to support anyone who wants to make a difference but feels unable to speak directly to law enforcement.”

Lloyds to give Frazer notice of £1.2bn Telegraph loan repayment | Business News

Ministers will be given notice on Wednesday that the Barclay family is ready to repay a £1.16bn loan to Lloyds Banking Group, paving the way for a public interest probe into the future ownership of The Daily Telegraph.

Sky News has learnt that Lloyds, the Barclays and RedBird IMI, the Abu Dhabi-backed vehicle which is funding the loan repayment, will write to Lucy Frazer, the culture secretary, to give her 48 hours notice of the redemption.

Sources said the notice – which had been demanded by Ms Frazer last week – would see the funds being transferred to Lloyds as early as Friday, or at the start of next week.

That would trigger the dissolution of a court hearing in the British Virgin Islands to liquidate a Barclay family company tied to the newspaper’s ownership, and temporarily put the Barclays back in control of their shares in the broadsheet title.

It would also necessitate the removal of AlixPartners as receiver to some of the companies in the Telegraph’s corporate structure.

However, the family is unlikely to be able to exert any influence over the Telegraph or Spectator magazine because – as Sky News revealed on Tuesday – the government is contemplating issuing a hold-separate notice which would ring-fence the media assets from their legal owners.

RedBird IMI, which is led by the former CNN president Jeff Zucker, intends to take control of the Daily and Sunday Telegraph by converting a £600m chunk of its loan to the Barclays into equity.

Jeff Zucker
Jeff Zucker leads RedBird IMI. Pic: AP

That conversion will, however, be the subject of a Public Interest Intervention Notice (PIIN) which is expected to be issued by the culture secretary before the end of the week.

The PIIN will trigger an inquiry by Ofcom and the Competition and Markets Authority which could last for months.

RedBird IMI’s offer to fund the loan redemption has circumvented an auction of the Telegraph titles which has drawn interest from a range of bidders.

It is unclear whether the auction process will continue once the funds are transferred to Lloyds.

The independent board brought in to oversee the sale of the Telegraph has already offered to remain in place during the government probe.

Lloyds wrote to government officials last Thursday to say it would support the retention of a trio of independent directors while a public interest inquiry is carried out.

The bank’s intervention has the backing of both the Barclay family and RedBird IMI, Sky News reported last week.

Ms Frazer has said she is minded to issue a PIIN amid concerns – including warnings from rival bidders – about possible editorial interference in the Telegraph’s journalism.

Last Friday Mr Zucker, who Sky News revealed last week was spearheading the deal, told the Financial Times that competing bidders were “slinging mud”.

“There’s a reason that people are slinging mud and throwing darts – [it’s] because they want to own these assets,” he told the newspaper.

“And they have their own media assets to try to hurt us.”

The battle for control of The Daily Telegraph has rapidly turned into a complex commercial and political row which has raised tensions between the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the Foreign Office.

Prospective bidders led by the hedge fund billionaire and GB News shareholder Sir Paul Marshall have also been agitating for the launch of a PIIN.

RedBird IMI includes funding from Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, a member of Abu Dhabi’s royal family and owner of Manchester City.

Sky News revealed last week that Ed Richards, the former boss of media regulator Ofcom, is acting as a lobbyist for RedBird IMI through Flint Global, which was co-founded by Sir Simon Fraser, former Foreign Office permanent secretary.

The Telegraph auction, which has drawn interest from the Daily Mail proprietor Lord Rothermere and National World, a London-listed local newspaper publisher, has now been paused until next month.

The original bid deadline had been shifted from 28 November to 10 December to take account of the possibility that Lloyds could be repaid in full by the Barclay family ahead of the December 1 deadline.

Sky News reported earlier that the Barclays had now agreed not to contest the liquidation if they do not repay the loans by 1 December.

The Barclays have made a series of increased offers in recent months to head off an auction of the newspapers they bought nearly 20 years ago, raising its proposal last month to £1bn.

Until June, the newspapers were chaired by Aidan Barclay – the nephew of Sir Frederick Barclay, the octogenarian who along with his late twin Sir David engineered the takeover of the Telegraph in 2004.

Lloyds had been locked in talks with the Barclays for years about refinancing loans made to them by HBOS prior to that bank’s rescue during the 2008 banking crisis.

Uber to offer partnership with black cab drivers in London | UK News

People in London will be able to order black cabs through Uber from early next year, the company has announced.

A spokesman for the firm said a “small number” of taxi drivers have already signed up to the service and it hopes to recruit “several hundred” by January.

Senior figures in the black cab industry have frequently expressed concerns over the growth of Uber, which has traditionally offered minicab journeys.

Steve McNamara, general secretary of the Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association (LTDA), which represents taxi drivers, claimed there is “no demand” from passengers for a partnership, and accused Uber of attempting to use black cabs to “reinvigorate their ailing business model”.

People who book a taxi through the app will be shown an estimated price but will be charged the fare on the meter plus a £2 booking fee retained by Uber.

Uber said it will not charge new drivers commission for their first six months but didn’t reveal what the fee would be after that period.

Uber’s UK general manager, Andrew Brem, said: “We’re partnering with taxi drivers across the world and the message we are hearing from them is clear: Uber and taxis are better together.

“Black cabs are an iconic part of the capital, loved by Londoners and visitors alike, and we are proud to work side by side.

“Partnership is win-win-win: helping London cab drivers earn more, boosting travel options for passengers, and making London’s transport network more efficient.”

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Uber said taxi drivers in Paris, New York, Rome and other major cities in 33 countries already provide journeys booked through its app.

Mr McNamara said: “There is no demand for this partnership from the London licensed taxi drivers we represent or our passengers.

“We are not aware of any drivers having been recruited and don’t believe our members will even consider joining the app, given its well-documented poor record on everything from passenger safety to workers’ rights in London.”

He said taxis can already be booked through a range of apps such as Gett, TaxiApp, FreeNow and ComCab.

Spain ‘very close’ to post-Brexit Gibraltar deal after Cameron meeting | World News

Spain says it’s “very close” to agreeing a deal on the post-Brexit status of Gibraltar.

The country’s foreign minister made the statement after meeting Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron in Brussels at a NATO meeting.

“Today we have made progress, because David Cameron has shown a willingness to reach an agreement,” Jose Manuel Albares told reporters.

“We are very, very close,” he added, in comments broadcast by Spain’s TVE.

Mr Albares said the pair were discussing details such as how both sides would use the island’s airport.

In a call with Mr Albares on Monday, Lord Cameron reiterated Britain’s commitment to conclude a deal on Gibraltar “as soon as possible”, said a Foreign Office spokesperson.

The question of how to police Gibraltar’s border with Spain long term has been undecided since Brexit.

A last-minute deal on 31 December 2020 meant Gibraltar stayed part of EU agreements, such as the Schengen Area, and left Spain to police the port and airport until another solution could be worked out.

Foreign Secretary David Cameron arrives for a NATO foreign ministers meeting at the Alliance's headquarters in Brussels, Belgium November 28, 2023.
Lord Cameron met his counterpart at a Brussels meeting of NATO foreign ministers

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Spain’s foreign minister said he hoped an agreement could be signed as early as Wednesday after his country recently tabled “a balanced and generous agreement”.

In late 2022, the European Commission and Spain proposed keeping Gibraltar’s land border to Spain open and ensuring the free flow of people.

The narrow peninsula – known colloquially as ‘The Rock’ – has been a British territory since 1713, but Spain has long called for it to be handed back.

Guilt free flying or clever PR? What it was like on Virgin Atlantic’s new 100% sustainable aviation fuel flight | Climate News

“It works!” declares Virgin Atlantic founder Sir Richard Branson as we cross the Atlantic on this record-breaking flight using 100% sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), largely made up of used cooking oil.

In his affable way, he recalls the times he had to be rescued from the very same ocean during previous record-breaking attempts. We smile along, a little nervously.

There are no ordinary passengers on board the Boeing 787. Instead, milling about the cabin are engineers, scientists, aviation officials, Mark Harper, the transport secretary, and journalists.

So what’s it like to travel on the “fat flyer” as it’s been dubbed?

Well, perhaps a little disappointingly, just like any other flight.

SAF looks, smells and performs just like normal aviation fuel and can be dropped in normal engines without the need for modification.

Sir Richard and Virgin know how to make a big noise about their achievements so, as I look out of the window over the ocean, I ponder is this just another great way to get attention, or actually another important step along the flightpath to what the government likes to call “guilt free flying”?

The truth is, probably a bit of both.

Sky News presenter Jonathan Samuels on the Virgin Atlantic flight using 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF), largely made up of used cooking oil.
Sky News presenter Jonathan Samuels on the flight

Virgin Atlantic has, like British Airways and other UK-based airlines, genuinely committed to trying to find a greener, cleaner way of flying.

After all, in a highly competitive market they know passengers are demanding it.

Virgin points out it has one of the youngest and most fuel-efficient fleets in the skies which has already reduced carbon emissions by more than 20%.

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The airline is working hard to reach the government’s ambitious target to increase the use of SAF to at least 10% by 2030.

This flight however is not 100% emission-free, but rather “net zero” with the airline offsetting carbon emissions made during the journey.

Plus the very process of making SAF uses lots of energy, and SAF critics argue there simply isn’t anything like enough raw material or “feedstock” in the UK to produce it.

WhatsApp picture of a Virgin Atlantic plane being refuelled from Jonathan Samuels
The Virgin Atlantic plane being refuelled

The Royal Society estimates more than half of all the UK’s agricultural land would be needed to produce enough SAF to replace the jet fuel used by Britain’s aviation sector.

Pressure is being put on the government to help invest in SAF technology and to scale up production.

Green campaigners also point to the growth in flying.

The International Air Transport Association expects the number of passengers to nearly double by 2036, and many environmentalists say the best way to save the planet is to drastically reduce our air miles.

So as flight VS100 ploughs along over the pond don’t be mistaken into thinking it is the answer to all our climate-friendly flying prayers.

Instead, SAF is a mid-term solution to helping make a decent dent in decarbonising aviation while other greener technologies, like hydrogen, are developed.

Man pleads guilty to killing Nottingham students – but not guilty to murder | UK News

A man has admitted killing two students and a caretaker in a spate of attacks in Nottingham.

Valdo Calocane, 32, denied murdering Barnaby Webber, Grace O’Malley-Kumar and Ian Coates on 13 June this year, but pleaded guilty to their manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

He also pleaded guilty to attempting to murder three others.

Prosecutor Karim Khalil said the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) would need further time to decide whether Calocane’s pleas were acceptable or not.

University of Nottingham students Ms O’Malley-Kumar and Mr Webber, both 19, had been celebrating the end of their exams when they were stabbed to death as they walked home from a night out.

School caretaker Mr Coates, 65, was also killed on his way to work at Huntingdon Academy.

Calocane, who was himself a former student at the university, also hit three pedestrians – Wayne Birkett, Marcin Gawronski and Sharon Miller – while driving Mr Coates’ van in Milton Street and Upper Parliament Street, in the city centre.

He was arrested on the day of the attacks.

Calocane, who answered to the name Adam Mendes, appeared in the dock at Nottingham Crown Court dressed in a dark suit and looked straight ahead during the 15-minute hearing.

Judge Mr Justice Turner adjourned the case until 16 January 16 next year.