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Fay Weldon: The Life And Loves Of A She-Devil author dies aged 91 | Breaking News News

Novelist Fay Weldon, best known for her works The Life And Loves Of A She-Devil and Praxis has died aged 91.

A family statement posted on Twitter read: “It is with great sadness that we announce the death of Fay Weldon (CBE), author, essayist and playwright.

“She died peacefully this morning 4 January 2023.”

The novelist, playwright and screenwriter’s body of work includes more than 30 novels – as well as short stories and plays written for television, radio and the stage.

Previously writing on her website to fans, Weldon apologised for being “out of touch for a long time,” before explaining that she had been hospitalised due to suffering from a broken bone in her back and a stroke.

She wrote: “I’ve been out of touch for a long time, for which, my apologies.

“I have been hospitalised for much of the last year, first with a broken bone in my back and then with a stroke, therefore my silence. I am mostly recovered.”

Born in September 1931, Weldon returned to the UK as a child after being raised in New Zealand.

She went on to read economics and psychology at the University of St Andrews in Scotland and later received an honorary doctorate from the institution in 1990.

Working briefly for the Foreign Office in London and as a journalist, Weldon then moved to start work as an advertising copywriter.

Leaving her career to focus on her writing, she published her first novel, The Fat Woman’s Joke, in 1967. She went on to write children’s books, non-fiction books and newspaper articles.

Weldon was one of the writers on the hit drama series Upstairs, Downstairs which ran from 1971 to 1975. The show’s first episode won an award from the Writers Guild of America.

Her novels, including Down Among The Women (1971) and Female Friends (1975), explored issues surrounding women’s relationships with men, children, parents and each other.

British author Fay Weldon presents her book 'She may not leave' (German title: 'Die Moral der Frauen') during the 2007 Frankfurt Book Fair in Frankfurt

The 1978 novel Praxis was shortlisted for the Booker Prize for Fiction and later, Weldon chaired the 1983 judges’ panel for the prestigious award.

At the age of 70, in 2002 she published a memoir called Auto Da Fa, and before retiring in 2021 taught as a professor of creative writing at Bath Spa University.

In 2001, she was made CBE for her services to literature in the New Year Honours list.

Two men charged with murder of footballer Cody Fisher to stand trial in July | UK News

Two men charged with the murder of footballer Cody Fisher have been told they will stand trial in July.

Kami Carpenter, 21, and Remy Gordon, 22, have been charged with killing the 23-year-old at the Crane nightclub in Birmingham, just before midnight on Boxing Day.

Gordon, of Cofton Park Drive, Birmingham, and Carpenter, of no fixed address, today appeared at Birmingham Crown Court.

Judge Paul Farrer KC ordered a trial in the case to start on 3 July.

He also fixed a plea and trial preparation hearing for 17 March.

Gordon and Carpenter were both remanded in custody.

Mr Fisher, 23, who played for Stratford Town FC, was stabbed to death on the dance floor of the Crane nightclub in Digbeth shortly before 11.45pm on Boxing Day.

The nightclub had its licence suspended for 28 days on Friday following accusations from West Midlands Police that there had been “serious management failings” at the venue on the night Mr Fisher died.

Birmingham city councillors said they will consider whether to close the club permanently at a full review hearing in the future.

Officers recovered a knife from the scene, and a post-mortem examination confirmed that Mr Fisher, 23, died of a stab wound.

Record number of ‘foreign objects’ left inside patients after surgical blunders | UK News

A record number of “foreign objects” have been left inside patients’ bodies after surgery, new data reveals.

Incidents analysed by the PA news agency showed it happened a total of 291 times in 2021/22.

Swabs and gauzes used during surgery or a procedure are one of the most common items left inside a patient, but in surgical tools such as scalpels and drill bits have been found in some rare cases.

There are strict procedures in hospitals to prevent such blunders, including checklists and the repeated counting of surgical tools.

Leaving an object inside a patient after surgery is classed as a “never event” by the NHS – meaning the incident is so serious it should never have happened.

When a surgical implement is left inside a patient, it can require further surgery to remove it.

Sometimes such errors are not discovered for weeks, months or years after the event.

In 2001/02, there were 156 of these episodes.

The lowest number was in 2003/04, when 138 episodes were recorded by clinicians.

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NHS Digital data does not make clear when the patient had their initial surgery or treatment, or whether it was performed under the NHS or by a private hospital.

And each “episode” may not be the equivalent of one patient, as some people may have sought care more than once at a different hospital, but the figures come as the NHS is under intense pressure and is caring for more patients than ever before.

Commenting on the analysis, Rachel Power, chief executive of the Patients Association, said: “Never events are called that because they are serious incidents that are entirely preventable because the hospital or clinic has systems in place to prevent them happening.

“When they occur, the serious physical and psychological effects they cause can stay with a patient for the rest of their lives, and that should never happen to anyone who seeks treatment from the NHS.

“While we fully appreciate the crisis facing the NHS, never events simply should not occur if the preventative measures are implemented.”

A woman from east London described how she “lost hope” after part of a surgical blade was left inside her following an operation to remove her ovaries in 2016.

The 49-year-old, who spoke to PA on condition of anonymity, said: “When I woke up, I felt something in my belly.

“The knife they used to cut me broke, and they left a part in my belly.”

She added: “I was weak, I lost so much blood, I was in pain, all I could do was cry.”

The object was left inside her for five days, leading to an additional two-week hospital stay.

“I lost hope, I lost faith in them, I don’t trust them anymore,” she said.

The wound from the second operation also took a long time to heal – leaving a scar.

“Every time I look at my belly, it’s there,” she added.

Emmalene Bushnell and Kriya Hurley from the medical negligence department at the law firm Leigh Day, which represented the woman in her subsequent claim, said in a joint statement: “Undergoing surgery is obviously very worrying for any patient, but in cases of retained foreign objects they often lead to significant harm to the patient.

“Unfortunately, we continue to see cases of retained objects post-surgery resulting in patients being readmitted to hospital, having a second surgery, suffering sepsis or infection, experiencing a fistula or bowel obstruction, visceral perforation, and psychological harm.”

Earlier analysis by PA, published in May 2022, found that some 407 never events were recorded in the NHS in England from April 2021 until March 2022.

Vaginal swabs were left in patients 32 times, and surgical swabs were left 21 times.

Some of the other objects left inside patients included part of a pair of wire cutters, part of a scalpel blade, and the bolt from surgical forceps.

On three separate occasions over the year, part of a drill bit was left inside a patient.

An NHS spokesman said: “Thanks to the hard work of NHS staff, incidents like these are rare.

“However, when they do happen, the NHS is committed to learning from them to improve care for future patients.

“Last year, the NHS published new guidance introducing a significant shift in the way the NHS responds to patient safety incidents, which will help organisations increase their focus on understanding how incidents happen and taking steps to make improvements.”

All pupils in England to study maths until 18 under Rishi Sunak’s ‘new mission’ | Politics News

Pupils in England will study maths up until the age of 18 under plans to be unveiled by Rishi Sunak.

The prime minister will say there is a need to “reimagine our approach to numeracy” in his first speech of the year on Wednesday, adding: “Letting our children out into the world without those skills is letting our children down.”

The details of the prime minister’s “new mission” will be announced “in due course”, Number 10 said, though the government did not “envisage” making maths A-Level compulsory.

Downing Street says NHS has ‘funding it needs’ – politics latest

Labour said it would be “an empty pledge” if they could not recruit more maths teachers.

Around eight million adults in England have the numeracy skills of primary school children, according to government figures, while 60% of disadvantaged pupils do not have basic maths skills at 16.

“One of the biggest changes in mindset we need in education today is to reimagine our approach to numeracy,” Mr Sunak is expected to say.

“Right now, just half of all 16-year-olds study any maths at all. Yet in a world where data is everywhere and statistics underpin every job, our children’s jobs will require more analytical skills than ever before.”

The prime minister wants pupils to study some form of maths until 18, with the government exploring the right route, including the Core Maths qualifications, T-Levels and “more innovative options”.

During the speech, Mr Sunak is expected to “acknowledge that reform on this scale won’t be easy”, meaning the policy will not come into force until the next parliament.

He will say the issue is “personal” for him, because the “single most important reason” he entered politics was “to give every child the highest possible standard of education”.

Rishi Sunak will say his ambitions for numeracy are ‘personal’

Sunak needs to ‘show his working’

The pledge appears to be a watered-down version of an education policy from last summer’s Conservative leadership contest.

Mr Sunak said then that he wanted to create a new British Baccalaureate requiring all 16-year-olds to study core subjects, including maths and English, beyond GCSE level.

Downing Street said pupils studying maths until 18 would put England on a par with most other OECD countries, including Australia, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Japan, Norway and the United States.

Labour’s shadow education secretary, Bridget Phillipson, criticised the plan, calling on Mr Sunak to “show his working”.

“He cannot deliver this reheated, empty pledge without more maths teachers, yet the government has missed their target for new maths teachers year after year, with existing teachers leaving in their droves,” she said.

“Now, maths attainment gaps are widening yet Rishi Sunak as chancellor said the country had ‘maxed out’ on Covid recovery support for our children.”

Ms Phillipson said the party would end tax breaks for private schools and use the money to invest in 6,500 more teachers, including maths teachers, “to drive up standards in this country”.

Liberal Democrat MP Munira Wilson echoed Labour’s sentiment, saying: “The prime minister’s words mean nothing without the extra funding and staff to make it happen.”

She added: “You don’t need a maths A-Level to know it takes more teachers to teach maths to age 18 than to 16.

“But schools are already struggling with a shortage of maths teachers, and the Conservatives have no plan to turn that around.”

Eleanor Williams: Woman who made Asian grooming gang claims found guilty of perverting course of justice | UK News

A woman who claimed she had been the victim of an Asian grooming gang has been convicted of perverting the course of justice.

Eleanor Williams, 22, put pictures on Facebook and claimed she had been groomed, trafficked and beaten – but prosecutors said her injuries were self-inflicted with a hammer.

Her post was shared more than 100,000 times and led to demonstrations in her hometown and a visit by English Defence League founder Tommy Robinson to “investigate”.

A jury at Preston Crown Court today found her guilty of eight counts of doing acts tending and intended to pervert the course of justice.

As well as claiming an Asian gang abused her, the court heard she had accused multiple men of rape going back to 2017.

Williams, from Barrow-in-Furness in Cumbria, published the pictures in May 2020 after claiming she’d been taken to a house and raped.

However, prosecutors said the injuries were self-inflicted with a blood-stained hammer found by police at her home.

Jonathan Sandiford KC said it was the “finale” to a string of lies.

“The defendant goes online to her social media contacts and effectively finds random names on the internet she presents as being victims of trafficking or perpetrators,” he told the jury.

It was alleged she sent some social media messages to herself, making them appear as if they were from traffickers or other victims.

In other cases, she was accused of manipulating real people to send messages which she then said were from abusers.

A Snapchat account she said belonged to an Asian trafficker called Shaggy Wood in fact belonged to an Essex man who worked in Tesco, the trial heard.

Jurors were also told about Williams’ claims that businessman Mohammed Ramzan had groomed her from age 12, making her work in brothels in Amsterdam and even selling her at an auction in the city.

Prosecutors compared it to the storyline from Liam Neeson film Taken, but said that at the time she was in Amsterdam Mr Ramzan’s bank card was being used in B&Q in Barrow.

Mr Ramzan told Williams’ lawyer during questioning: “Don’t you think you have put my life through enough hell, or your client has?”

One man she accused of rape, Jordan Trengove, told the court the claims had ruined his life.

Williams denied telling a “pack of lies” and told the court she wanted “people to know what was going on in Barrow, still is going on”.

She pleaded guilty to one count of perverting the course of justice at an earlier hearing, after contacting her mother and sister to ask them to take the hammer to her solicitor.

Williams will be sentenced in March.

Murder investigation launched after man dies following assault at adult care centre in Hayes, west London | UK News

A murder investigation has been launched after the death of a man at a care centre for adults with mental health and drug abuse issues.

The 60-year-old died after being assaulted shortly before midnight on Monday at the facility in Hayes, west London.

The man, who was a resident at the centre, was treated by paramedics but was pronounced dead at the scene.

A 44-year-old man, who was also a resident there, has been arrested on suspicion of murder, the Metropolitan Police said.

A spokesperson for the force said: “Police were called at approximately 11.50pm on Monday, 2 January to reports of a man assaulted at an adult care facility in Lansbury Drive, Hayes.

“Officers and London Ambulance Service attended. Despite the best efforts of the emergency services the man, aged 60, was pronounced dead at the scene.

“His next of kin have been informed and a post-mortem examination will be scheduled in due course.

“A 44-year-old man was arrested at the scene on suspicion of murder and remains in custody at a west London police station.

“Both the deceased and the man arrested were residents at the facility.”

Commuters hit with five days of rail strikes, amid fears millions of Britons may ditch trains for good | UK News

Strikes by rail and road staff are set to cause extensive disruption to commuters returning to work after the Christmas break – amid fears that continued walkouts could cause a years-long slump in demand for train travel.

About 40,000 members of the RMT union from Network Rail and 14 train operators are taking industrial action today, tomorrow, Friday and Saturday – meaning most services nationwide will not run.

Train drivers are also set to stage a one-day walkout on Thursday, meaning the UK’s rail network will be crippled throughout the first working week of 2023. Passengers have been urged to only travel if necessary.

Mick Lynch  general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) joins members on the picket line outside London Euston train station

In other developments, more than 100 road traffic officers and control room operators working for National Highways in England are launching their own 48-hour strike today.

While this walkout is expected to have little impact on the network, roads are expected to be busy on both days as commuters ditch the train and head to the office in their cars.

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch has warned that strikes on the railways will continue until the government stops “blocking” a deal to resolve the bitter dispute over pay, jobs and conditions.

The union claims that – despite its best efforts over the festive period – rail employers have not arranged any formal negotiations.

Mr Lynch also alleges that an “unprecedented level of ministerial interference” is preventing progress from being made, and he said RMT representatives are “available around the clock for talks”.

RMT strike days will see approximately half of the network shut down, with just 20% of normal services expected to run. These trains will also start later and finish much earlier than usual, with journeys only possible between 7.30am and 6.30pm.

According to The Times, ministers fear that millions of passengers will give up on train travel altogether as a result of the worst week of rail disruption in 30 years.

A government source told the newspaper: “This is an act of self-harm – a generation of passengers will just write off the railways. We’re talking about permanent scarring. The longer the strikes continue, the greater the risk.”

But Aslef general secretary Mick Whelan, who represents train drivers, said workers have been left with little choice but to strike because they haven’t had a pay rise since April 2019 – with high levels of inflation resulting in a real-terms pay cut.

Stressing that his union is always happy to negotiate with train operators, he added: “The ball is in their court. The companies, or this Tory government which stands behind them, could end this dispute now by making a serious and sensible pay offer. It is up to them.”

The Department for Transport has warned that passengers have “rightly had enough of rail strikes” – and called on unions to stop taking industrial action.

A spokesperson said: “The government has demonstrated it is being reasonable and stands ready to facilitate a resolution to rail disputes. It’s time the unions came to the table and played their part as well.

“Inflation-matching pay increases for all public-sector workers would cost everyone more in the long-term – worsening debt, fuelling inflation, and costing every household an extra £1,000.”

Transport Secretary Mark Harper will be interviewed live on Sky News at 7.20am this morning – followed by RMT general secretary Mick Lynch at 7.30am.

Two Britons among four killed in Australian helicopter collision near Sea World theme park | Breaking News News

Two Britons were among four killed after two helicopters collided mid-air near a marine theme park in the Australian state of Queensland.

An FCDO spokesperson said: “We are supporting the family of two British nationals who died in Australia and are in contact with the local authorities.”

The collision occurred on the Gold Coast at around 2pm local time, when the park would have been filled with families enjoying school summer holidays.

Initial information suggested one of the helicopters had been taking off and the other had been landing when they collided, Queensland Police Acting Inspector Gary Worrell said.

Members of the public were among those first on the scene, with a sandbank making it difficult for emergency service workers to access the site of the crash.

“Members of the public and police tried to remove the people and they commenced first aid and tried to help these people to safety,” said Inspector Worrell.

Emergency workers inspect a helicopter at a scene collision near Seaworld, on the Gold Coast, Australia, Monday, Jan. 2, 2023. Two helicopters collided killing several passengers and critically injuring a few others in a crash that drew emergency aid from beachgoers enjoying the water during the southern summer. (Dave Hunt/AAP Image via AP)

Janey Shearman, from Queensland Ambulance Service, said 13 people had been on the two helicopters.

The three people critically injured were suffering from “multi-system trauma”, while six people with minor injuries – mainly from the impact of the glass – were also taken to hospital.

Sea World Helicopters, a separate company from the theme park, expressed its condolences, saying it was “devastated” by what had happened and was co-operating in an investigation opened by authorities exploring the cause of the crash.

A statement read: “We and the entire flying community are devastated by what has happened and our sincere condolences go to all those involved and especially the loved ones and family of the deceased.”

Emergency workers remove a body from a helicopter collision scene near Seaworld, on the Gold Coast, Australia, Monday, Jan. 2, 2023. Two helicopters collided killing several passengers and critically injuring a few others in a crash that drew emergency aid from beachgoers enjoying the water during the southern summer. (Dave Hunt/AAP Image via AP)
This image made from a video shows sand bank with crashed helicopter on Gold Coast, Australia Monday, Jan. 2, 2023. Two helicopters collided Monday afternoon over the Australian beach. (Australian Broadcasting Corp. via AP)

A witness named John described to Melbourne radio station 3AW that there was a “massive, massive bang” and staff at the theme part moved swiftly to close off areas closest to the crash.

“It was just huge. I’m not sure if it was the propellers or whatever hitting against each other. But there was this poor lady and her son near the helipad in tears.”

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the accident was an “unthinkable tragedy”.

She said: “My deepest sympathies are with each of the families and everyone affected by this terrible accident.”

Cody Fisher: Birmingham nightclub stabbing murder suspects remanded in custody after court hearing | UK News

The two people charged with murder and affray after footballer Cody Fisher was stabbed to death in a nightclub have been remanded in custody at a court hearing. 

Kami Carpenter, 21, and Remy Gordon, 22, appeared in front of two magistrates at Birmingham Crown Court on Monday.

The defendants, both from Birmingham, spoke only to confirm their personal details and enter not guilty pleas to a linked charge of affray during a four-minute hearing.

They were not asked to enter any plea to the murder charge.

Both defendants were ordered to re-appear before a Crown Court judge on Wednesday. A further hearing was set for January 30.

Mr Fisher was stabbed to death on the dancefloor of the Crane nightclub in Digbeth shortly before 11.45pm on Boxing Day.

The 23-year-old, who played for Stratford Town FC, was approached by a group of people and stabbed while on a night out with friends.

The nightclub had its licence suspended for 28 days on Friday following accusations from West Midlands Police that there had been “serious management failings” at the venue on the night Mr Fisher died.

Birmingham city councillors said they will consider whether to close the club permanently at a full review hearing in the future.

The police’s application for the review said Mr Fisher died during “a fight on the dancefloor” and officers who attended “described a scene of chaos and evidence of drug use within the premises”.

Officers recovered a knife from the crime scene, and a post-mortem examination has confirmed that Mr Fisher died of a stab wound.

Nearly 50 shops shut down a day in 2022 – up nearly 50% on 2021 | Business News

Close to 50 shops shut down every day in 2022, more than at any other point for at least five years.

In a bruising year for retail, 17,145 shops closed last year – up by nearly 50% on 2021, when 11,449 shops shut.

Analysis by the Centre for Retail Research found about 47 sites shut up shop for the last time every day last year.

As shops shut, jobs went with them. More than 151,000 retail jobs were lost in the UK last year, including from online retailers – an increase of more than 45,000 on the year before.

The group’s survey found that a little over 5,500 of the shops went under, while more than 11,600 of them were closed as a larger chain decided to cut its costs.

The Centre for Retail Research’s director, Professor Joshua Bamfield, said: “Rather than company failure, rationalisation now seems to be the main driver for closures as retailers continue to reduce their cost base at pace.”

He said the trend was likely to continue this year, but added that a few “big hitters” could also go under.

The researchers found there had been a 56% drop in shops being closed because larger retailers – with 10 or more sites – went out of business.

They said that many of the chains that were going to fail already had in recent years. But Joules, McColl’s and TM Lewin among others still went under.

The real estate adviser Altus Group said that retailers and landlords would have to pay close to £1.1bn from April 1 to cover the business rates on empty sites. These are sites that have been empty for three months.

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Robert Hayton, UK president at Altus Group, said: “Rate-free periods need to be urgently extended to reflect the time that it actually takes to re-let vacant properties.

“The current woes facings the retail sector, driven by the war in Ukraine, mean that empty rates are ripe for modernisation.”