The widow of a police officer who was killed in the line of duty has been made an MBE, after campaigning for tougher laws in his memory.
Lissie Harper’s husband, Andrew Harper, a Thames Valley Police officer, died after getting caught in a strap attached to the back of a car and being dragged down a winding country road in Berkshire in 2019.
The couple had been married for just four weeks.
Mrs Harper successfully campaigned for Harper’s Law – which introduced mandatory life sentences for anyone who commits the manslaughter of an emergency worker while they are on duty.
She began to push for a change in the law when the three teenagers found guilty of her husband’s manslaughter were jailed for a total of 42 years after they were all acquitted of murder.
Henry Long, 19, was sentenced to 16 years and Jessie Cole and Albert Bowers, both 18, were handed 13 years in custody over PC Harper’s death.
Mrs Harper’s MBE recognises her services to victims of violent crime and their families.
Harper’s Law came into effect last June and applies to police and prison officers, as well as firefighters and paramedics.
Celebrities honoured at same Windsor Castle event
Actress Vicky McClure, best known for playing Detective Inspector Kate Fleming in the BBC series Line Of Duty, was also made an MBE for her services to drama and charity at the same Windsor Castle ceremony where Mrs Harper was honoured.
The Bafta-winning actress, 40, has been an ambassador for the Alzheimer’s Society since 2018 and has raised awareness around the disease through her creation of Our Dementia Choir.
Conservative MP Michael Fabricant became a knight after being named on former prime minister Boris Johnson’s resignation honours lists.
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Fallon Sherrock, who became the first woman to win a match at the PDC World Darts Championship in 2019, was also made an MBE.
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Northern Ireland footballer Jonny Evans, former England women’s rugby union captain Sarah Hunter, former England women’s footballer Eni Aluko, and former boxer Johnny Nelson were also awarded MBEs.
Pet owners are gearing up for a stressful time for both themselves and their animals as fireworks season begins.
With Bonfire Night and Diwali in October and November, followed not long afterwards by New Year’s Eve, there is little respite from the bangs and vibrations that can have devastating effects on animals.
Julie Doorne from Firework Campaign UK told Sky News that people suffer as well as pets.
Pet owners will avoid leaving their animals at home alone for months on end, or use up annual leave to take them away.
“People’s lives change” due to fireworks, she said.
The campaign wants an end to private fireworks. Ms Doorne says they’re not trying to cancel Bonfire Night or any other celebrations – but they want displays licenced and kept a certain distance from animals.
‘I will never see her again’
Liberty, an 18-year-old from Winterbourne, recently lost her horse Jade due to fireworks. Jade was Liberty’s therapy horse, who helped her with anxiety, and was a gift from her friend Emma.
“Jade taught me everything. My first canter, my first gallop, she gave me the confidence in everything,” Liberty said.
“She knew when I was upset. If she heard me cry she would stand over me. When I was feeling down she would nudge me. She knew when I was at my lowest.”
In October, Jade got spooked by a firework that was let off near the field she was in.
She ran and hurt her back legs in the process. Despite Liberty trying to get her up, it was clear she wasn’t going to.
“She tried but she didn’t have the strength and in the end, she gave up,” Liberty said.
Jade had to be put to sleep.
“My heart is ripped apart,” Liberty said. “She was my best friend and soulmate.
“I will always remember the lowest of my days when she wouldn’t leave my side… I have no words but heartache and tears.”
“I want the whole world to know that Jadey was my life.”
Liberty wants to see a ban on setting off fireworks around livestock.
Jade would have “been here today if it wasn’t for the firework,” she said. “I will never see her again.”
‘Driving to the middle of the New Forest for quiet’
Rosemary, from Hampshire, has a 10-year-old horse called Rolo – and Nala, an 11-year-old working cocker spaniel.
To prepare Rolo for the fireworks, Rosemary plans to put boots on him to stop him from kicking himself and keep him in his stable.
This is the first fireworks season she’s experienced with Rolo, so she plans to “take a leap of faith” and hope he copes well.
But Nala gets very distressed.
“She barks to the point that one New Year’s Eve I drove out to the middle of the New Forest to get her as far away from the noise as possible,” Rosemary said.
She added she is forced to change her routine when she knows there may be fireworks.
“I can’t leave her on the weekend of Bonfire Night. I will always be making a decision on, ‘If we go out, can I take her?’ – but we have to endure it when it’s unexpected.”
‘We’re worried the stress will shorten her life’
Matt Wilke, 36, from northwest London, has a Boston terrier called Nelly, and two cats, Pixie and Poppy.
All three are rescues from South Africa, and he said the journey to bring them to the UK during the pandemic was nowhere near as stressful as fireworks are for them.
“Pixie becomes incredibly skittish and just about hyperventilates. It is absolutely horrible seeing a cat having what looks like an asthma attack and being very frightened,” he explained.
Poppy does her best to try to hide, which is worrying because “she tries squeezing herself into the smallest of spaces and we’re always so worried she will hurt herself”.
Mike also worries Poppy will “get stuck somewhere or – in a panic to find somewhere – get out and run without any idea of where she’s trying to go”.
Nelly becomes very needy, constantly vigilant and frightened of going outside. Matt said the effects on her can last for days after the fireworks have stopped.
“This undue stress simply isn’t good for her and we’re constantly worried that the stress, especially as she gets older, could shorten her life.”
Pip, an elderly dog with a fragile heart
Jane has an elderly dog called Pip.
Pip “has been petrified of fireworks all his life”, she said.
Jane added: “Every year we spend about two weeks around bonfire night unable to sleep until late as he needs comforting because he gets so worked up and frightened when he hears them going off.
“We are dreading this year as he now has a heart condition which means he collapses if he gets highly stressed or excited.
“So we feel we have no alternative but to drive us all out into the country for a few hours to get away from the relentless sound of bombs going off.
“If we don’t I fear he will have a heart attack.”
Could Australian-style ban work in the UK?
Dog owner Jane Price recalled stressful bonfire nights with her Cairn terrier Messi.
“He would bark and get very upset,” she said. “He wouldn’t even go outside, he was worried there was going to be another bang.”
Ms Price is originally from Australia, where there’s a ban on members of the public buying fireworks.
There’s merit to that rule, she said.
In the UK, fireworks can be sold between 15 October and 10 November for Bonfire Night and from 26 to 31 December for New Year celebrations.
They can also be sold in the three days leading up to Chinese New Year and Diwali.
But many pet owners would welcome Australian-style restrictions in the UK.
‘It’s really difficult to calm and console’
Another concerned animal lover, Di, told Sky News her border collie cross, Cody, is “absolutely terrified” of fireworks.
“This appears to be getting worse as she grows older,” she said. “Her reaction to them is to bark continuously, pant and pace and it is really difficult to calm and console her.
“This reaction can continue for a good while after the fireworks have subsided.”
Vet says fireworks ‘totally cruel’ to animals
The run-up to Bonfire Night and New Year’s Eve sees a surge of people seeking sedatives for their pets, a north London vet told Sky News.
“One month before firework night, people are coming in one after the other to get calming remedies for their pets,” she says.
Fireworks displays are “totally cruel” to animals, who have “very sensitive hearing”, she added.
“They’re put under stress and anxiety that can sometimes cause illnesses like alopecia from over-grooming themselves due to stress.”
About 14 million people in the UK attend organised firework displays each year, according to the British Pyrotechnics Association – but that number does not include fireworks set off in private gardens and fields across the country.
These displays are the real problem, according to some pet owners.
Call for organised fireworks events only
Sophie Gannon’s dog Barclay is “petrified by the noise” and “shakes” on hearing fireworks.
“I don’t think they should sell fireworks at all. I think it should just be organised events only,” she said.
The RSPCA receives about 400 calls from concerned pet owners every Bonfire Night, and in 2019 launched its Bang Out Of Order campaign, calling for changes to firework laws.
It wants the sale of fireworks restricted to between 29 October and 5 November and a reduction of the maximum noise level of fireworks from 120 decibels to 90 decibels.
The animal charity has also called for the implementation of firework control zones, prohibiting fireworks near animal habitats, farms and zoos.
The charity’s research shows 73% of adults polled think firework control zones should be introduced and 75% think the firework sale period should be limited.
What are the rules as they stand?
The Animal Welfare Act does not extend to protecting animals from the effects of fireworks.
While it prohibits “any unnecessary suffering to a captive or domestic animal”, if fireworks are let off legally, their use would not be considered unreasonable.
Scotland’s fireworks laws changed in June, giving councils the power to designate Firework Control Zones where it would be illegal to set off fireworks. The impact on animals is one reason why a council could grant a control zone.
In Northern Ireland, anyone who wants to buy, possess, and use fireworks (except indoor fireworks and sparklers) must have a valid fireworks licence.
In 2019, the House of Commons petition committee published a report on fireworks after more than 750,000 people signed a petition demanding a change to the laws.
In response, the government agreed to coordinate a major public awareness campaign, but stopped short of accepting recommendations – including introducing decibel limits and empowering local councils to enforce firework permits.
Another petition calling for tougher regulations gained more than 15,000 signatures in advance of this year’s Bonfire Night.
The government responded by saying it has “no plans to ban the sale of fireworks to the public but continues to monitor the situation”.
A government spokesperson added: “We believe the majority of individuals use fireworks safely and appropriately.
“The government understands that people want to enjoy fireworks. We believe that the legislative framework controlling fireworks strikes the right balance and we have no plans to replace it at this time.”
The commissioner of the Metropolitan Police says laws for tackling extremism may need to be redrawn in light of pro-Palestinian protests around the Israel-Hamas war.
Sir Mark Rowley said it was for politicians to decide on “the line of the law” and for the police to enforce it.
However, he said recent events were “illustrating that maybe some of the lines aren’t quite in the right place”.
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The commissioner’s remarks came just an hour after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s spokesman said there were no plans to make any legislative changes after the protests in recent weeks.
Home Secretary Suella Braverman met with Sir Mark earlier on Monday to challenge him over the decision not to arrest protestors chanting “jihad” in a video of a Hizb ut-Tahrir protest which surfaced over the weekend.
The force posted on social media that specialist counterterrorism officers had not identified any offences arising from the clip.
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Speaking ahead of the meeting, a source close to Ms Braverman said “there can be no place for incitement to hatred or violence” on UK streets and police should “crackdown on anyone breaking the law”.
But despite criticism from her and other ministers about the lack of arrest, a Downing Street spokesman said he was “unaware” of any plans to toughen up legislation to aid the police in acting.
Speaking after his meeting with the home secretary, Sir Mark defended officers’ actions, saying the force was “absolutely ruthless in tackling anybody who puts their foot over the legal line”.
But he said the police were “accountable for the law – we can’t enforce taste or decency but we can enforce the law”.
The commissioner said the conversation with Ms Braverman had been “really constructive”, but finished around “the line of the law”.
He added: “It is our job to enforce to that line, it is parliament’s job to draw that line, and… maybe events of the moment are illustrating that maybe some of the lines aren’t quite in the right place”.
Sir Mark pointed to recent reports from the Counter Extremism Commission and the Law Commission “talking about how the law needs to change to be stronger in dealing with extremism”, adding: “I know the home secretary and her colleagues are really charged by that and thinking hard about that.”
But pushed further on what changes he wanted to see, the commissioner said: “The law that we have designed around hate crime and terrorism around recent decades hasn’t taken full account of the ability of extremist groups to steer round those laws and propagate some pretty toxic messages through social media, and those lines probably need redrawing.”
He also said there were “lessons to be learnt” from other forces who had “more assertive” frameworks, but he concluded: “That is for politicians and parliament to draw the line. I am focused on… enforcing the letter of the law.”
Grant Shapps has hinted at a change to plans for HS2, as the northern section of the rail project looks set to be scrapped.
Sky News understands the high-speed line planned between Birmingham and Manchester will be binned by the prime minister due to concerns over the cost of the much delayed project.
And it is still unclear if the final section between Old Oak Common in west London and the planned central destination in the capital at Euston will go ahead.
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Speaking to Sky News’ Sunday Morning with Trevor Phillips show, Mr Shapps would not confirm the reports, but he suggested there could be a change to the “sequencing” and “pace” of HS2 from the government due to the soaring price tag.
“Money is not infinite,” said the former transport secretary, who is now in charge of the Ministry of Defence.
“All of these big decisions where budgets are, in particularly in the case of HS2, inexorably going higher and higher and higher and your viewers are having to pay that bill, it is absolutely right that the government looks at it and says hold on a minute, is this just a sort of open ended cheque or are we going to make sure this project gets delivered to a pace and a timetable that actually works for the taxpayer?
“We take those long term decisions seriously, but we don’t think any amount of money, no matter how big the budget gets, that you should just carry on ploughing it in. There has a point where you say hold on a minute, let’s just take a break here.”
Mr Shapps also pointed to the impact of COVID and the Ukraine war on the public purse.
“The country has to respond to the circumstances,” he said. “We did not know there would be coronavirus, a one in 100 year event… we didn’t know there would be a war on in Europe… so of course, if circumstances change, you have to look at the sequencing of the big infrastructure cash that you spend.
“Any government that doesn’t do that, any opposition that claims you don’t need to is not fit to govern this country.”
But the expected announcement was slammed by Labour’s mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, who said people in the north of England were “always treated as second class citizens when it comes to transport”.
He told Sky News: “This was the parliament where they said they would level us up. If they leave a situation where the southern half of the country is connected by modern high speed lines and the north of England is left with Victorian infrastructure, that is a recipe for the north/south divide to become a north/south chasm over the rest of this century.
“That is why people here are fed up with false promises and also watching now what seems to be the desperate acts of a dying government. This is not right and not fair to people here who were given so many promises.”
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Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, attacked the decision to scrap the northern leg of the high speed rail line.
HS2 was first touted by Labour in 2009, but it was the coalition government that signed off the plan, designed to connected the South, Midlands and North of England with state of the art infrastructure.
Despite billions being poured into the project, it has been beset by delays and rising costs – with the eastern leg scrapped entirely and work between Birmingham and Crewe delayed due to the impact of inflation.
Some estimates have put the total cost at over £100bn, while the project has been rated “unachievable” by the infrastructure watchdog.
However, plans to scrap the northern leg have been criticised on all sides of the political spectrum.
Former Tory prime minister Boris Johnson called it “desperate” and “Treasury-driven nonsense”, while one of his predecessors, David Cameron, is said to have privately cautioned against it, with an ally telling the Times that HS2 was “a totemic Conservative pledge”.
Brecon Beacons National Park is changing its name.
The park, which lies in mid Wales, will now officially be known only as Bannau Brycheiniog (its Welsh name – which means the peaks of Brychan’s kingdom).
As of Monday 17 April, the park will informally be known as the Bannau.
The change is an “organisational” one which is said to “better reflect the park and the world we live in today”, the park says.
Catherine Mealing-Jones, the park’s chief executive, told Sky News that it was important to have a name that “meant something to the people of the area”.
“As we went through the process of looking at the brand and thinking about the kind of park and organisation that we wanted to be, the old logo didn’t seem to make a lot of sense, we’re an environmental organisation so a giant, carbon-burning brazier isn’t really a good look,” she said.
“If you look at our old logo, it’s always had the bilingual on it so we’re just really emphasising the Welsh side of that because we’re much more coterminous with the old kingdom of Brychan and hopefully it fits with our duty to and our wish to promote Welsh language and culture.
“We’re a landscape which is shaped by people as much as anything, so we wanted something that meant something to the people of the area.”
While Bannau Brycheiniog National Park says it is committed to promoting the Welsh language, it adds that it does not expect the public to use the official name and that they can “choose what they prefer”.
“Using the new name isn’t compulsory. It’s something that we as an organisation are going to put the emphasis on and we hope people will use it and that they’ll use it as a gateway into learning a little bit more about the area,” Ms Mealing-Jones added.
The name change is part of the park’s new management plan in response to the climate and biodiversity emergency.
The plan in based around five key aims which include reaching net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in the park by 2035 and ensuring clean and safe water environments by 2030.
Judith Harvey is a warden manager who has worked at the park for more than 30 years.
Ms Harvey told Sky News that “the achievements we’ve [the park] made throughout the years” keep her work fresh and exciting.
“As climate and biodiversity loss becomes more urgent for us to tackle, through my working life I’ve seen things swing around from being quite low priority as a subject to something that now everybody talks about and most people are committed to stopping biodiversity loss. A lot of people are committed to stopping climate change,” she said.
“It’s fundamental to us all. Absolutely fundamental.”
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The name change will come into force “gradually” according to Ms Mealing-Jones as the park’s rebranding process takes place.
“We really hope people will get into it in the same way that they have done internationally with places like Ayers Rock becoming Uluru.”
The risks of heatwaves, droughts, flooding and failing critical infrastructure are increasing in the UK due to global warming, but the government has been too slow in acting to limit them, according to a new report from its climate change watchdog.
Adapting to higher temperatures and the more intense heatwaves and storms they are predicted to bring, requires investment of around £10bn a year, says the Climate Change Committee (CCC).
Spending on everything from flood defences, to more heat-resilient homes, to improved drinking water supplies is falling well short of what is needed to insulate the UK from climate impacts, according to the report.
“It is no secret that the UK is now experiencing a range of damaging consequences of climate change, but adaptation in the UK remains chronically underfunded and overlooked. This must change,” said Baroness Brown, chair of the CCC’s Adaptation Committee.
When it comes to reducing the risk of climate change itself through its net zero strategy, the government has been clear in defining priorities, says the report.
The same approach has to be used in adapting to the warming that is inevitable due to global warming that’s already under way, it warns.
Key recommendations include improving drainage in urban areas to cope with flooding from extreme rainfall; making more use of “nature based solutions” to reduce the risk of flooding from the sea and rivers; and increasing the ability of the public water system to cope with drought, including investment in new reservoirs and “interconnectors” between water companies.
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The Daily Climate Show
The committee also singled out the need to “climate-proof” infrastructure like roads and railways and the need to retrofit homes to cope with excess heat.
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The Office for National Statistics recently estimated 2,800 excess deaths were linked to heatwaves last summer.
Some actions require direct investment, particularly things like flood defences or tree planting to reduce flood risk, the report finds.
However, many others can be funded by changing planned investments to factor in things like increased temperatures or flood risk, when it comes to improving water supplies, or building new roads, bridges or railways.
“Integrating climate risk into economic and financial decision-making across society is essential for urgently needed investments in our national climate resilience to materialise,” said Ben Caldecott, a co-author of the report.
A failure to invest now, will ultimately cost more, the report argues. It cites a Bank of England study from last year that found climate risks would become a “persistent drag” on banks’ and insurers’ profits of around 10-15% a year.
King Charles III has given his first address to the nation after the Queen’s 70-year reign came to an end on Thursday.
His Majesty paid tribute to his “beloved mother” as he made a “solemn pledge” to serve the country with “loyalty, respect and love”.
Here we take a look at five key takeaways from the historic address.
‘My life will change’
King Charles developed a reputation for being outspoken when he was the Prince of Wales.
He is well-known for having championed causes such as fighting climate change and advocating medicines and alternative therapies.
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As the Prince of Wales, he was sometimes accused of meddling in political and social matters which might not concern him, and believed he should be able to speak freely about issues which he felt were important to the country.
However in his address to the nation, he hinted he will change his behaviour now he is head of state.
“My life will of course change as I take up my new responsibilities,” he said.
“It will no longer be possible for me to give so much of my time and energies to the charities and issues for which I care so deeply. But I know this important work will go on in the trusted hands of others.”
King Charles’s change of approach would be in line with comments he made in 2018 where he acknowledged being heir-to-the-throne and being monarch were two very different roles.
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Harry and Meghan
King Charles also sent his love to his son Prince Harry and his wife Meghan.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have been living in California since stepping back as senior royals in 2020.
The Queen is said to have been disappointed after Harry and Meghan failed to consult her about their decision.
King Charles said in his address: “I want also to express my love for Harry and Meghan as they continue to build their lives overseas.”
William and Kate
In one of the key moments of the speech, King Charles said he was “proud” to hand his son William his former title of Prince of Wales.
The monarch added he had been “so greatly privileged to bear during so much of my life and duty”.
Meanwhile, William’s wife Catherine has become the first person since Diana to use the title Princess of Wales.
The King said: “With Catherine beside him, our new Prince and Princess of Wales will, I know, continue to inspire and lead our national conversations, helping to bring the marginal to the centre ground where vital help can be given.”
The couple’s children are now Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis of Wales.
King Charles also said William “now assumes the Scottish titles which have meant so much to me”.
“He succeeds me as Duke of Cornwall and takes on the responsibilities for the Duchy of Cornwall which I have undertaken for more than five decades,” he added.
Tributes to the Queen
The King paid tribute to his “beloved mother” as an “inspiration and example to me and to all my family”.
“Queen Elizabeth’s was a life well-lived; a promise with destiny kept, and she is mourned most deeply in her passing,” he said.
The King continued: “In 1947, on her 21st birthday, she pledged in a broadcast from Cape Town to the Commonwealth to devote her life, whether it be short or long, to the service of her peoples.
“That was more than a promise: it was a profound personal commitment which defined her whole life. She made sacrifices for duty.”
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King Charles also said his mother’s “dedication and devotion as Sovereign never waivered” and the “affection, admiration and respect she inspired became the hallmark of her reign”.
He added: “Every member of my family can testify, she combined these qualities with warmth, humour and an unerring ability always to see the best in people.”
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Watch the King’s speech in full
How he plans to lead
King Charles said his faith is “deeply rooted” in the Church of England and he was “brought up to cherish a sense of duty to others”.
“As the Queen herself did with such unswerving devotion, I too now solemnly pledge myself, throughout the remaining time God grants me, to uphold the constitutional principles at the heart of our nation,” he said.
“And wherever you may live in the United Kingdom, or in the realms and territories across the world, and whatever may be your background or beliefs, I shall endeavour to serve you with loyalty, respect and love, as I have throughout my life.”