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Death linked to E.coli outbreak – with dozens of cases reported | UK News

One person has died following a UK outbreak of E.coli, health officials have said.

Since July, 30 cases of Shiga toxin-producing E.coli (Stec) have been confirmed across England and Scotland, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said.

People aged seven to 81 have been infected, and one person from Scotland has now died following infection, the agency added.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) announced on Christmas Eve a precautionary recall of four products from cheesemaker Mrs Kirkham’s Lancashire Cheese because of possible E. coli contamination.

It added a fifth product on 27 December.

The UKHSA said investigations were continuing into any common links between cases, including links to the recalled cheeses.

It said: “One death has been associated with this outbreak.

“Epidemiological and food chain investigations have identified links between some of the identified cases and a number of unpasteurised cheeses produced by a business in England.”

UK weather: Thousands of homes still without power after Storm Gerrit | UK News

Thousands of homes are still without power after Storm Gerrit wreaked havoc across northern England and Scotland.

The chaotic weather has delivered everything from heavy snow to a damaging tornado, ruining many people’s journeys home from Christmas festivities.

Around 1,500 properties in Scotland are still suffering electricity outages, with people in the northeast and Shetland among the worst affected.

Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) hopes to restore power to the remaining households on Friday and welfare vans serving hot food and drink will be open to customers in the meantime.

Handout photo courtesy of James Matheson of a flooded road in Cupar, Fife, Scotland. Police Scotland has urged drivers stuck on the A9 due to the effects of Storm Gerrit to remain in their vehicles. Drivers have been asked to stay in their vehicles, keep warm and tune in to local radio or social media where further updates will be provided as soon as possible. It comes as travellers across Scotland endure disruption due to poor weather conditions caused by Storm Gerrit. Picture date: Wednesday D
A flooded road in Cupar, Fife, this week

‘Absolute disaster’

The storm is also still being felt in northern England and Wales.

Stalybridge, Tameside, and Carrbrook in Greater Manchester are in a “recovery phase”, local authorities have said, after they were hit by a rare tornado that toppled trees and damaged homes.

The freak whirlwind was thought to have been caused by a supercell thunderstorm, and residents said it had left some homes looking like “an absolute disaster”.

Elsewhere, three men died after their 4×4 vehicle was submerged in the River Esk, near Glaisdale.

In Wales, 36,000 properties were left without power after lightning struck in Ceredigion.

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Residents in shock after ‘mini tornado’

Travel disruption set to continue

Storm Gerrit brought chaos to roads, railway lines, airports, and ferry services nationwide earlier in the week – and the disruption isn’t over as the weekend beckons.

The Met Office has said the final days of 2023 will see more strong wind, rain, and snow, though there are no weather warnings in place.

But the Environment Agency has 33 active flood warnings, meaning flooding is expected, covering rivers including the Severn and Ouse.

Read more from Sky News:
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Flying through Storm Gerrit in a helicopter

ScotRail, LNER, Avanti West Coast and London Northwestern Railway are among the train companies to have told passengers they should check before travelling in the coming days.

While many lines have reopened since the storm blew through, services could still be suspended or cancelled due to system faults and damage.

The London Euston and Watford Junction lines are not expected to be fully online until the end of Friday, while Welsh train services are expected to be hampered until Monday.

Ferries are also still expecting trouble, with journeys between Dover and France impacted by wind.

Charlotte Brown: Father urges daughter’s killer Jack Shepherd to reveal ‘truth’ about speedboat death ahead of prison release | UK News

A grieving father has pleaded with his daughter’s killer to reveal the truth about her speedboat death on the eve of his prison release.

Graham Brown has never believed Jack Shepherd‘s story that his daughter Charlotte had taken the controls of the vessel shortly before it crashed.

Mr Brown, 60, told Sky News: “Shepherd has never said what really happened that night. And what he has said conflicts with what we know did happen and what came out in the trial.

Jack Shepherd is due to appear in court on Monday
Jack Shepherd

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June 2019: ‘He has shown no remorse’

“The pure fact that he took my daughter out on a dodgy speedboat at 10 o’clock at night, without lifejackets, on a very dangerous stretch of the River Thames and accelerated up to 30 knots, and then to turn around and say, it was her fault…”

Shepherd, 35, is expected to be freed automatically from jail next month after completing half of his 10-year sentence for Charlotte’s manslaughter and a separate, unrelated assault in a pub.

He has said in the past he did not believe he bore responsibility for Charlotte’s death in December 2015, claiming it was “ultimately her action” that caused the tragedy.

Mr Brown said: “My daughter would not have been driving that boat. In my own mind, I’m fairly confident that she thought it was just going to meander, turn around, and go back.

“She would have had no idea what he was going to do. She would have been absolutely terrified.”

Charlotte, 24, had met Shepherd on a dating app and he had wined and dined her at a Shard restaurant near London Bridge before taking her for a late-night ride along the Thames on his defective speedboat in December 2015.

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January 2019: Shepherd – I was shouting ‘help her’

It was their first date.

The speeding boat hit a submerged tree, overturned and flung them both into the water.

They were rescued, but Charlotte was unconscious and later died, while Shepherd survived.

Shepherd, a serial womaniser who had given rides to other women, told police they had drunk champagne and Charlotte had taken over the controls just before the collision near Wandsworth Bridge.

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Graham Brown in 2019: ‘He won’t accept responsibility’

After being charged with manslaughter by gross negligence, Shepherd fled the UK for Georgia, the former soviet state, but was sentenced in his absence to six years in jail.

He gave himself up to authorities in the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, in January 2019 and was extradited and jailed at the Old Bailey in April that year for another four years for an attack on a pub barman in Devon.

File photo dated 20/07/2018 of the family of Charlotte Brown (left to right) father Graham Brown, sister Katie and mother Roz Wicken. Web developer Jack Shepherd has been found guilty of killing her in a speedboat accident on the Thames. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Thursday July 26, 2018. Jack Shepherd had been trying to impress 24-year-old Charlotte Brown after meeting her on dating website OkCupid. But their champagne-fuelled first date ended in tragedy when his boat capsized and she
The family of Charlotte Brown at court. File pic

Mr Brown, the father of three daughters, said he had no wish to speak to Shepherd on his release, but hoped he would offer a full explanation for what happened on the night Charlotte died.

He said: “I wish he would just be able to tell the truth and state clearly what happened. I feel that he will never do that.”

Sheffield car crash victim named as father-of-two Christian Marriott | UK News

A man who died after a car hit a group of people in Sheffield has been named as father-of-two Christian Marriott

Mr Marriott, 46, had been out for a walk with his wife and two young sons on Wednesday afternoon when he stopped to help a woman lying unconscious in the street.

It is believed the woman had been involved in an altercation between a group of people, according to South Yorkshire Police.

As Mr Marriott was helping the woman, the car then hit him as well as a number of others, including an off-duty midwife, who had also stopped to help.

Following the incident in College Close, Burngreave, a 23-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of murder and a 55-year-old man on suspicion of attempted murder, South Yorkshire Police said.

One of the people injured in the crash is in a serious condition in hospital.

A police cordon on Scott Road, Burngreave, after a 46-year-old man died and several others were injured after a car hit a crowd of people during violence in Sheffield. A 23-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of murder and a 55-year-old man on suspicion of attempted murder, South Yorkshire Police said. Picture date: Thursday December 28, 2023. See PA story POLICE Burngreave. Photo credit should read: Dave Higgens/PA Wire
A police cordon on Scott Road, Burngreave

Read more from Sky News:
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Senior Investigating Officer, DCI Andrew Knowles, said: “This is an utterly heartbreaking case in which a Good Samaritan, who had stepped in to help a stranger in their time of need, has lost his life.

“Chris leaves behind a loving family including his devastated wife and two young sons. We are absolutely determined to secure justice for Chris and his loved ones following this horrific tragedy.”

The woman Mr Marriott was helping remains in hospital in a life-threatening condition.

Amount paid out by Ministry of Defence for bullying and harassment claims doubles in four years | UK News

The average settlement paid out by the Ministry of Defence for bullying, harassment and discrimination claims has more than doubled since 2020, new figures have revealed.

The average compensation payout made by the MoD for these types of claims reached £235,564 in 2022/23.

Only a few years earlier, in 2020/21, the figure was £100,527.

The number of settlements has also increased by more than 100%, from five to 12 in the same time frame.

Earlier this month it emerged that 60 senior women had complained of a “hostile” and “toxic” environment at the government department, which is responsible for the UK’s armed forces.

And it comes just a day after Sky News detailed the “toxic culture” of sleaze and bullying within the RAF’s elite flying squad, the Red Arrows.

Young female pilots were treated like “fresh meat”, and one claimed she was plied with alcohol by a senior member of the squad, while others said they were harassed for sex.

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Although an investigation was launched, the victims claimed the air force misled the public by telling parliament that none of the allegations heard by the inquiry team met a criminal threshold.

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Red Arrows: Victims break silence

‘Shocking’ data

Labour called the newly released settlement data “shocking” and has urged ministers to “root out” unacceptable behaviour in the department and armed forces.

The figures were obtained by shadow defence minister Maria Eagle, following a written parliamentary question.

She said: “That both the number of settlement payments and the average payout has more than doubled in just two years lays bare the MoD’s problems with bullying, harassment and discrimination.

“Ministers must lead from the top to root out unacceptable behaviour in the MoD and the armed forces. Labour in government will legislate to establish an Armed Forces Commissioner to act as a strong independent voice to improve the lives of serving personnel and their families.”

A Ministry of Defence spokeswoman said: “We do not tolerate abuse, bullying or discrimination of any kind, which is why we have introduced many changes to improve the experience for everyone across defence, including improvements to reporting mechanisms, diversity and inclusion training, and increased access to support.

Read more: Teenage soldier killed herself after ‘sexual harassment’

“We actively encourage any personnel who believe they have experienced or witnessed unacceptable behaviour to report it.

“All allegations of unacceptable behaviour are taken extremely seriously and are thoroughly investigated. If proven, swift action will be taken.”

RSV vaccine could cut baby hospital admissions by more than 80%, study suggests | Science & Tech News

A vaccine to combat a common seasonal virus among babies could reduce hospital admissions by more than 80%, a trial has shown.

Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) impacts 90% of children before they reach the age of two, often causing a mild cold-like illness.

But infection can also lead to severe lung problems like pneumonia, and an estimated 30,000 babies and youngsters are admitted to hospital in the UK each year – putting extra pressure on the NHS.

Scientists have said a jab called nirsevimab could offer a solution after a study suggested a single shot provided immediate protection against chest infections for up to six months.

The trial found this could lead to an 83% reduction in RSV-related hospital admissions.

It is already being rolled out in the US and Spain and is being considered for a UK rollout, where it has been approved but not yet made available on the NHS.

Experts who worked on the study said the findings showed it was safe and could protect thousands of babies.

What is nirsevimab?

Nirsevimab is a monoclonal antibody, which are man-made proteins designed to mimic the human immune system’s natural antibodies.

Like other vaccines, it is administered via an injection.

The study included 8,058 babies up to the age of 12 months, with a randomly assigned group of them given a single dose and the others given usual treatment.

Just 11 who got the jab ended up in hospital for RSV-related infections, compared to 60 in the standard group.

The researchers said this corresponded to an efficacy of 83.2%.

Jab could ‘dramatically’ help NHS

Sir Andrew Pollard, director of the Oxford Vaccine Group at the University of Oxford, said the jab could help combat a virus that places “huge pressure” on Britain’s health system.

During the past two winters, cases were higher than usual after COVID pandemic measures in previous years suppressed cases – meaning children had much lower immunity.

Sir Andrew said the jab could help “protect the youngest in society and dramatically alleviate winter strain in the NHS”.

One of the scientists involved in the study, Professor Saul Faust from the University of Southampton, said he hoped it would help the UK decide on how to proceed with a national vaccination rollout.

The University of Southampton was one of three UK universities whose experts worked on the research, along with University Hospital Southampton and St George’s University Hospital, London.

The research was funded by Sanofi and AstraZeneca and published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Sir Winston Churchill, Buckingham Palace, British athletes commemorated on new 2024 coins | UK News

Sir Winston Churchill, Buckingham Palace and the RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution) are all commemorated in new coins unveiled by the Royal Mint for 2024.

They are among five new designs celebrating key events and anniversaries, which also include tributes to the National Gallery, Team GB and ParalympicsGB as they head for the Paris 2024 Olympics and Paralympics.

Buckingham Palace features on a new £5 coin, while the 150th anniversary of the birth of Sir Winston and the 200th anniversary of the National Gallery feature on £2 coins.

New 50p coins will mark the 200th anniversary of the RNLI, Team GB and ParalympicsGB.

“As we approach the New Year, we are excited to reveal five new designs set to appear on commemorative coins in 2024, celebrating some of the most significant moments and anniversaries set to take place,” said Rebecca Morgan, director of commemorative coins at the Royal Mint.

“The Royal Mint has been regularly issuing annual sets since 1971 and they have become highly collectable as works of art. They are also gifted to people celebrating special occasions in the upcoming year, as they serve as a keepsake of that memorable time.”

The five designs for 2024

The Buckingham Palace £5 coin, one of five new designs set to appear on UK commemorative coins in 2024

Designed by artist Henry Gray, the Buckingham Palace £5 coin features the architecture of the royal residence in London front and centre of the image.

The Winston Churchill £2 coin, one of five new designs set to appear on UK commemorative coins in 2024

The £2 coin commemorating the 150th anniversary of the birth of Sir Winston Churchill depicts a portrait of the former prime minister as a young man in 1895, in the uniform of the 4th Queen’s Own Hussars. “Pave the way for peace and freedom,” is the edge inscription, taken from a remark he made in late 1953 while serving his second term leading the country. The design appearing on the coin was created by Natasha Seaward, a graphic designer at the Royal Mint.

The National Gallery £2, one of five new designs set to appear on UK commemorative coins in 2024

The National Gallery coin was created by designer, engraver and printmaker Edwina Ellis, featuring the famous art museum’s image at the centre.

The Team GB & ParalympicsGB 50p, one of five new designs set to appear on UK commemorative coins in 2024

Designed by art director Charis Tsevis, the first of two new 50ps depicts two athletes representing both the Olympic and Paralympic Games in parity. The Royal Mint said it produced the coin to celebrate and wish Team GB and ParalympicsGB athletes the best of luck at the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The RNLI 50p, one of five new designs set to appear on UK commemorative coins in 2024

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) has been saving lives at sea since 1824. As the charity approaches its milestone 200th anniversary, the new UK 50p marks the moment. The design was created by coin designer John Bergdahl, and displays the RNLI flag surrounded by a life ring highlighting the 200 years of service.

David Leland: Pierce Brosnan and Liam Neeson lead tributes to filmmaker | Ents & Arts News

Stars including Pierce Brosnan, Liam Neeson and Tim Roth have paid tribute to writer, director and actor David Leland following his death at the age of 82.

The British star died on Christmas Eve, “held tight by his loving family”, his agent confirmed.

In a career spanning more than five decades, he was known for writing two hit films about British madam Cynthia Payne, the first titled Personal Services and starring Dame Julie Walters.

The second, Wish You Were Here, marked his directorial debut and won a BAFTA for best original screenplay, as well as the Fipresci prize at the Cannes film festival.

Leland also won an Emmy for his directing of an episode of the US war drama Band Of Brothers in 2002, and was both a director and writer for The Borgias.

‘An essential part of my story’

Pierce Brosnan poses at a special screening of the film "The Out-Laws," Monday, June 26, 2023, at the Regal LA Live theaters in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)
Pic: AP/Chris Pizzello

Paying tribute, Brosnan, 70, said Leland held “a mighty place in my heart” for giving him a chance not long after he had left the former Drama Centre school in London, of which Leland was an alumni.

He had given the James Bond star his first stage role in the British premiere of Tennessee Williams’ The Red Devil Battery Sign at the Roundhouse.

“It was the thrill of my young lifetime to be cast as McCabe, working with David and Tennessee,” Brosnan said. “David will forever be an essential part of my story and of all who knew and loved him.”

Leland’s directorial credits also included The Big Man in 1990, starring Neeson, Sir Billy Connolly and Hugh Grant.

‘You are always in my heart, old friend’

Liam Neeson poses for photographers upon arrival at the UK premiere of the film 'Marlowe' in London, Thursday, March 16, 2023. (Scott Garfitt/Invision/AP)
Pic: Scott Garfitt/Invision/AP

Neeson, 71, described him as “a dream” to work with.

“He was a real collaborator,” he said. “He genuinely loved and admired actors. We formed a close bond.

“I loved his mischievous sense of humour. You are always in my heart, old friend. See you down the road.”

Leland initially trained as an actor at the Central Speech of School and Drama, and appeared in several productions before moving into stage management at the Crucible Theatre.

His credits for screenwriting and directing include Neil Jordan’s Mona Lisa, starring Sir Michael Caine and Bob Hoskins, and Made In Britain, starring Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs star Tim Roth in his first film role.

“David was there at the very beginning of this crazy adventure,” Roth, 62, said. “He changed my life, and I love him for it. I’ll keep him with me always.”

Read more from Sky News:
The famous faces we said goodbye to in 2023

Leland directed films including The Land Girls with Rachel Weisz and Anna Friel, and returned to the stage to direct the musical A Tribute To The Blues Brothers – which played in the West End and toured for 10 years across the UK and Australia.

In a statement, BAFTA paid tribute, saying: “We are saddened to hear that director and writer David Leland has died at the age of 82.”

Leland won a Grammy for best long-form music video for Concert For George – a memorial music event at the Royal Albert Hall in honour of George Harrison. He was a close friend of the late Beatles star and worked as a director on the guitarist’s 1988 film Checking Out.

He also directed videos for other musical stars including Tom Petty and The Traveling Wilburys.

He is survived by his wife Sabrina, his four daughters and six grandchildren “all of whom he loved almost as much as Arsenal Football Club”.

Man stabbed to death in Hackney named as police appeal for witnesses to ‘argument’ | UK News

A man stabbed to death on Boxing Day in east London has been named as Michael John Murphy.

Police have launched an investigation into the murder in Hackney, and arrested four people, who were later released with no further action being taken.

They were called to Cranwood Street at 3.10am on 26 December, where the 49-year-old died of his injuries. His next of kin has been informed and a formal identification is taking place.

The Metropolitan Police is now appealing for witnesses to come forward, after initial inquiries “confirmed there was an argument in the street” before Mr Murphy was stabbed.

Up to ten people may have been involved, and the force says residents may have overheard what happened.

Detective Chief Inspector Kelly Allen from the Met’s Specialist Crime Command said: “We are continuing to piece together the events that led to Michael sustaining his injuries and would appeal to anyone who saw or heard anything in the Cranwood Street area on Boxing Day morning to come forward.”

Metropolitan Police officers speak to a man beside a cordon at a property in Cranwood Street
Metropolitan Police officers speak to a man beside a cordon at a property in Cranwood Street

Detective Chief Superintendent James Conway, who is responsible for policing in Hackney and Tower Hamlets, said: “Our thoughts are with Michael’s family at this unimaginably difficult time. That this tragedy occurred over the Christmas period will be shocking to many and I reiterate DCI Allen’s appeal for witnesses who were in the area to come forward.

“Specialist detectives, supported by local officers from Hackney, have been at the scene since this incident, carrying out vital evidence-gathering work.

“Their presence has caused disruption to residents in the area and I would like to thank everyone for their patience and support while this work is carried out.”

‘Pints’ of wine to be sold in Britain for the first time | UK News

Britons will soon be able to buy a “pint” of wine, with a new 568ml bottle set to appear on supermarket shelves and in pubs, clubs and restaurants.

Pint bottles of champagne were sold in the UK before Britain joined the European Common Market, and remained on shelves until 1973.

However, their production ceased because they did not comply with EU weight and measure rules.

Now, some 900 UK vineyards – which produce 12.2 million bottles of still or sparkling wine a year – are set to benefit from new post-Brexit “freedoms”, the government has said.

The changes will also allow new quantities of both pre-packed still and sparkling wine – in bottles or cans – to be sold in 200ml and 500ml quantities alongside the new 568ml “pint” quantity.

Currently, still wine cannot be sold in 200ml quantities and sparkling wine cannot be sold in 500ml amounts.

The standard size of a bottle of wine sold in supermarkets, off-licences, pubs and bars is 750ml. Legally, pubs must sell wine in small (125ml), medium (175ml) or large (250ml) glass sizes.

There will be no legal obligation for businesses to sell the new sizes.

WineGB chief executive Nicola Bates said: “We welcome the chance to be able to harmonise still and sparkling bottle sizes and we are happy to raise a glass to the greater choice.”

Kevin Hollinrake, Minister for Enterprise, Markets and Small Business, said: “Our exit from the EU was all about moments just like this, where we can seize new opportunities and provide a real boost to our great British wineries and further growing the economy.”

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Alcohol duty shake-up explained

UK rejects return to imperial system

The changes have been introduced following a government consultation on units of measurement, which was published in June last year and received more than 100,000 responses.

The consultation also considered government proposals to remove the requirement to show metric units alongside imperial or allow them to be shown in less prominence.

In 2000, the European Union weights and measures directive forced UK traders to use metric when selling packaged or loose goods such as fruit and veg. They could still use pounds and ounces but must also list grams and kilos, except for a few items.

The government’s consultation was branded “complete and utter nonsense” by one supermarket boss.

And it seemed the rest of the UK agreed – the Department for Business and Trade found 98.7% of people were in favour of continuing to use metric units when buying or selling products.

In the metric system, 1,000 grams are equivalent to one kilogram, yet under the imperial system there are 14 pounds in a stone and 16 ounces in a pound. 1 imperial pound is 453.592g. As for liquids, there are 20 fluid ounces in a pint and 160 fluid ounces in a gallon, instead of metric’s 1,000 millilitres in a litre.