Saturday, 30 June 2012

The Barclays scandal is a crime

Even if he hasn't yet debased the coinage, Bob Diamond has certainly done his bit to debase further the language of British public life. Confronted with a clear ruling that Barclays traders had lied and cheated in seeking to rig a key interest rate used to determine everything from mortgages to credit card bills, Diamond put his hands up and conceded that the traders' action had been "wholly inappropriate". Inappropriate? Inappropriate is wearing a tie to a barbecue. Wholly inappropriate is burping during the wedding vows. Distorting for personal gain a rate that underpins contracts worth $350 trillion worldwide is rather more than "inappropriate". Still, Diamond insisted he wanted to "demonstrate responsibility" for what had happened. There was a time when, if someone in a position of authority took responsibility for a grave error or worse, their next move was resignation: "The buck stops with me and so, with a heavy heart, I must …" Not now. How exactly does Diamond propose to demonstrate his responsibility? He and three colleagues have "volunteered to forgo any consideration for bonuses in 2012, recognising our responsibility as leaders of the organisation in which these events occurred". Imagine a footballer implicated in a match-fixing plot suggesting his punishment should be to forgo that season's pot of extra prize money – while remaining on his telephone-number salary. It would seem – what's the word? – inappropriate. But those in the financial stratosphere apparently see matters of right and wrong, crime and punishment, rather differently to the rest of us. It was the same Bob Diamond who last year told MPs, "There was a period of remorse and apology for banks and I think that period needs to be over" – calling time on the era of bankers' penitence before most thought it had begun. In his remarks both last year and this week, the Barclays chief revealed more than merely his own desire to move on. He also exposed the gaping absence of accountability in our financial system – and not only there. Indeed, a specific lack of accountability lies at the root of this latest scandal. The eyes of the non-expert glaze over, but the crucial fact about the Libor rate is that it is set daily not by the government or the Financial Services Authority but by the banks themselves, through their own trade body, the British Bankers' Association. Those recently appalled at the way the British press works – through self-regulation by the now-discredited Press Complaints Commission – might want to reserve some shock for the way that, when it comes to this vital component of global finance, the banks are quite literally a law unto themselves, beyond the criminal enforcement powers even of the FSA. And make no mistake, it is the banks plural we are discussing, not just Barclays. Submissions from some 15 banks are used to calculate the benchmark Libor rate, making it all but a technical impossibility that a few rogue traders at Barclays alone could have bent it. On the contrary, the most incriminating email to surface on Wednesday – traders promising to celebrate their fiddling of the figures with a bottle of Bollinger – was from an outside bank to Barclays. The latter is surely only in the frame first because it co-operated early in return for a more lenient penalty, but HSBC, RBS and others are all mentioned in court papers. As the chancellor and others have signalled, this scandal is going to spread much wider. And yet, what can be done? You'd think criminal prosecutions would be the obvious next step, but it's not so simple: Libor falls outside the FSA's remit. Yes, there's that £290m fine – though it's worth noting only £60m of that was imposed by the UK, the rest demanded by American authorities. What's more, that £290m is destined not for the public coffers but for the FSA, which will therefore need to levy less from the banks that fund it – including Barclays. So Barclays lose with one hand but are set to gain with the other. Above all, remember that that £290m is about a tenth of the £2.7bn bonus pool Barclays top dogs paid themselves in 2011. It's more than a slap in the wrist, but not much more. It's quite a contrast with the severity of punishment meted out to those guilty of more visible crimes, starting with the 1,292 people jailed for their part in last summer's riots, including the man imprisoned for six months for stealing bottles of water worth £3.50. There was no question of the authorities lacking a proper remit then, nor did any rioter have the chance to tell a parliamentary committee it was time we all moved on. Some will say that now, at long last, a reckoning is coming. Note the governor of the Bank of England's unsparing condemnation of the "deceitful manipulation" of the Libor rate along with today's revelation of yet another mis-selling scandal. Note too, the FSA's Adair Turner damning of a banking culture rotten with "cynicism and greed". That sounds promising, a harbinger of serious reform. But imagine this was last summer, and King and Turner were speaking not of bankers but rioters. Imagine they confined themselves to condemning the underlying cultural malaise, the structural flaws, the excessive greed and consumerism – and promised to make changes that would, in a decade or two, prevent such problems occurring again. They would be denounced as limp-wristed liberals, too blind to see that the first step required was immediate and severe action against guilty individuals, especially the ringleaders. So it should be with this latest banking scandal, and indeed the scandalous conduct that caused the global crash of 2008, a crime that remains unpunished. It's all very well to speak of changing banking culture and it certainly needs to change. If a judicial inquiry is necessary for the press, it's clearly necessary for the banks. But that cannot be an excuse for more of the long-grass mentality that won't see the Vickers recommendations on splitting the banks fully implemented until 2018. Even long-term work begins with a first step – and the first step now should be enforcing the rules we have, then drafting new ones to catch and punish those who have done wrong. So far the public have been remarkably restrained in their anger. But that anger is rising, and Britain's masters – politicians and bankers – would be wise not to push the people's patience too far.

Pentonville prison escapee John Massey recaptured in Kent

A convicted murderer who escaped from prison has been recaptured, the Metropolitan police have announced. John Massey, 64, scaled the walls of Pentonville prison in London on Wednesday but was arrested by police in Faversham in Kent on Friday. A police spokesman said Massey was arrested at a house by detectives from the Metropolitan police specialist crime and operations command in an intelligence-led operation. He has been taken into custody at a north London police station. A second man was also arrested on suspicion of aiding and abetting an absconder. It was Massey's third escape or breach of conditions of liberty in the 36 years since he was sentenced to life for a pub murder in Clapton, east London. Massey was released on parole in June 2007 after spending the last 18 months of his life sentence in an open prison in Derbyshire preparing for freedom, it is understood. Under his parole terms, he was ordered to live in a bail hostel in Streatham, south London, under a curfew. After several months, he broke his curfew to spend a number of days living with his dying father. He was recalled to prison but decategorised after two-and-a-half years before being sent to Ford open jail in West Sussex. Massey reportedly walked out of the prison after hearing news that his sister was gravely ill. He was rearrested 10 months later and taken to Pentonville before his latest escape. The Prison Service said it was still investigating the circumstances of Massey's escape and "would press for the heaviest penalties for those who escape or attempt to escape".

Friday, 29 June 2012

Unemployed man sets himself alight outside Birmingham Jobcentre

The 48-year-old man, who is not being named, arrived at the centre making threats and carrying petrol just before 9.30am. He then tied himself to the railings at the building in Harborne Lane, Selly Oak, before ripping one of his trouser legs and starting a fire. He was sprayed with fire extinguishers but suffered burns to his lower legs. An onlooker told the Birmingham Mail: “The guy came into the Jobcentre with petrol and made threats, so they evacuated the whole building. "I think it was something to do with a payment he had not received.

sexual abuse by police officers

Sexual predators in the police are abusing their power to target victims of crime they are supposed to be helping, as well as fellow officers and female staff, the Guardian can reveal. An investigation into the scale and extent of the problem suggests sexual misconduct could be more widespread than previously believed. The situation raises questions about the efficacy of the police complaints system, the police's internal whistleblowing procedures, the vetting of officers and a failure to monitor disciplinary offences. Police officers have been convicted or disciplined for a range of offences from rape and sexual assault to misconduct in public office relating to inappropriate sexual behaviour with vulnerable women they have met on duty. Others are awaiting trial for alleged offences, though many are never charged with a criminal offence and are dealt with via internal disciplinary procedures. The problem is to a large extent hidden, as no official statistics are kept and few details are released about internal disciplinary action in such cases. By analysing the data available – including court cases and misconduct proceedings – the Guardian has attempted to document the scale of the corruption for the first time. In the past four years, there were 56 cases involving police officers and a handful of community support officers who either were found to have abused their position to rape, sexually assault or harass women and young people or were investigated over such allegations. The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) and the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) are so concerned they are carrying out a rare joint inquiry into the scale of the problem, which will be published in September, the Guardian can reveal. Their work was prompted by the case of the Northumbria police constable Stephen Mitchell, 43, who was jailed for life in January 2011 for carrying out sex attacks on vulnerable women, including prostitutes and heroin addicts, while he was on duty. Despite being the subject of previous disciplinary offences, involving one inappropriate relationship with a woman and the accessing of the force computer to find private details of an individual, Mitchell had not been subjected to extra supervision or dismissed by the force. Those targeted by the officers are predominantly women, but in some cases are children and young people, many of them vulnerable victims of crime. The Guardian's investigation has uncovered evidence of: • Vetting failures, including a concern that vetting procedures may have been relaxed post-2001 during a surge in police recruitment. • Concerns over the recording and monitoring of disciplinary offences as officers progress through their career. • A tendency for women who complain they have been sexually attacked by a policeman not to be believed. • A pervasive culture of sexism within the police service, which some claim allows abusive behaviour to go unchecked. Debaleena Dasgupta, a lawyer who has represented women sexually assaulted and raped by police officers, said: "I don't think any [victims] are quite as damaged as those who are victims of police officers. "The damage is far deeper because they trusted the police and … believed that the police were supposed to protect them from harm and help catch and punish those who perpetrate it. "The breach of that trust has an enormous effect: they feel that if they can't trust a police officer, who can they trust? They lose their confidence in everyone, even those in authority. It is one of the worst crimes that can be committed and when committed by an officer, becomes one of the greatest abuses of power." The officers involved come from all ranks within the service: the most senior officer accused of serious sexual harassment was a deputy chief constable, who was subject to 26 complaints by 13 female police staff. David Ainsworth, deputy chief constable of Wiltshire police, killed himself last year, an inquest heard this month, during an inquiry into his behaviour. He is one of two officers accused of sexual misconduct to have taken their own lives over the past four years. In one of the worst cases in the past four years, Trevor Gray, a detective sergeant with Nottinghamshire police, broke into the home of a woman he met on a date and raped her while her young child slept in the house. Gray was jailed for eight years in May for rape, attempted rape and sexual assault. Many of the cases documented involve police officers accessing the police national computer to gain access to the details of vulnerable women and young people in order to bombard them with texts and phone calls and initiate sexual contact. Deputy Chief Constable Bernard Lawson of Merseyside police, the Acpo lead on counter-corruption, who is working with the IPCC on the joint report, said: "Police officers who abuse their position of trust have an incredibly damaging impact on community confidence in the service. "There is a determination throughout policing to identify and remove those who betray the reputation of the overwhelming majority of officers." In its report on corruption within the police service published last month, the IPCC identified abuse of authority by officers for their own personal gain, including to engage in sexual intercourse with a vulnerable female while on duty, and the misuse of computer systems to access details of vulnerable females, as two of the five key corruption threats to the service. IPCC figures show that 15% of the 837 corruption cases referred by forces to the watchdog between 2008 and 2011 involved abuse of authority by a police officer, and 9% involved misuse of systems. Clare Phillipson, director of Wearside Women in Need, who supported some of Mitchell's victims, said: "What you have here is the untouched tip of an iceberg in terms of sexually questionable behaviour and attitudes. The police service, in my experience, has an incredibly macho culture and women are seen as sexual objects. "Police officers have a duty to steer away from vulnerable women in distress, some of whom see these police officers as their saviours. It is an abuse of their power to exploit that." One area to be examined by the IPCC is whether there might have been vetting failures from 2001 onwards during a massive recruitment drive in the police. Between 2001 and 2007, the overall strength of the service grew by more than 16,000, with around 2,666 officers recruited each year on average. Six years ago, a study of vetting within the police service by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary revealed "disturbing" failures that had allowed suspect individuals to join the service. The report, Raising the Standard, exposed more than 40 vetting failures among police officers and support staff. The report concluded: "The potential damage that can be caused by just one failure should not be underestimated."

Senior Surrey police officers investigated over Milly Dowler phone-hacking claims

Two of Surrey Police’s most senior officers are to be investigated over why the force remained silent for 10 years about its knowledge that the News of the World had hacked Milly Dowler’s voicemails. Craig Denholm, the deputy chief constable of Surrey Police, and Detective Superintendent Maria Woodall, will be investigated by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) over how much they knew about the NOTW’s illegal accessing of Milly Dowler’s mobile phone during the early stage of the force’s investigation into the schoolgirl’s abduction and murder in 2002. It will also try to establish why no criminal investigation into the hacking was launched. The Independent has learnt that the IPCC probe will also look at Surrey officers’ continuing silence during 2006/07, when private investigator Glenn Mulcaire and royal reporter Clive Goodman, both working for the Murdoch-owned Sunday tabloid, were charged and jailed for phone hacking. The IPCC investigation will also examine the Surrey force’s failure to formally tell Scotland Yard what it knew in 2009 when new allegations of phone hacking were published. The decision to launch the investigation of Mr Denholm, who is responsible for “risk and reputation” at the Surrey force, follows revelations in The Independent last October that senior Surrey officers knew Milly’s phone had been hacked by the NOTW in 2002. In January, Surrey’s acting deputy chief constable, Jerry Kirkby, conceded to the House of Commons culture, media and sport committee that substantial contact had taken place between officers and NOTW reporters, including a meeting between senior officers and NOTW executives at the force’s headquarters in Guildford in July 2002. On another occasion, a tape recording of one of the voicemails left for Milly was played to a Surrey Police press officer by a NOTW reporter. Last night, the Labour MP Tom Watson, who helped expose the full extent of the hacking scandal, said: “This marks a new milestone in the hacking inquiry. To think of the misery caused to countless victims of illicit surveillance after Surrey Police were made aware of phone hacking by News International. Much of it could have been stopped had they acted.” The IPCC were called in after the Surrey force this week formally handed over a dossier from a year-long internal investigation, Operation Baronet, which has been examining the “circumstances surrounding the accessing of Milly Dowler’s voicemail”. The watchdog said it was investigating the “conduct” of Mr Denholm, and “examining the information” Ms Woodall provided to Operation Baronet. Although Ms Woodall led the hunt for Milly Dowler’s killer from 2006, securing the conviction of doorman Levi Bellfield last June, The Independent has learned that the IPCC probe will focus on the period when she was a liaison officer to the Dowler family, and is alleged to have informed the force of her suspicions that Milly Dowler’s phone had been illegally accessed. The police watchdog want to know why a criminal investigation was not ordered by Surrey Police. Milly’s parents said they welcomed the “proper investigation of what happened at Surrey 10 years ago” but added they “regretted that the passage of time means that some individuals can now no longer be investigated”. In October The Independent reported that the control of the initial stages of the Dowler investigation came under Mr Denholm and Detective Chief Inspector Stuart Gibson. Mr Gibson has since retired from the Surrey force but is under contract to the Metropolitan Police as a civilian investigator. Scotland Yard were asked if Mr Gibson wished to comment on the IPCC investigation, but did not reply by the time of going to press. Surrey Police said Mr Denholm and Ms Woodall would remain in their jobs while the IPCC investigation went ahead.

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Murderer escapes from Pentonville prison

A convicted murderer has escaped from Pentonville prison, in north London, Scotland Yard says. John Massey fled the Islington jail at about 1830 BST. He is considered potentially dangerous and should not be approached by the public, police say. Massey, 64, is serving life imprisonment for shooting dead a man at an East London pub in September 1975. The Ministry of Justice said it had launched an investigation into his escape. It is understood Massey was not in transit at the time and escaped from within the prison. BBC home affairs correspondent Danny Shaw says the escape is deeply embarrassing for the prison authorities and will inevitably raise questions about prison security. It is highly unusual for inmates to escape from within the confines of a closed prison such as Pentonville, our correspondent adds. There have been only three such escapes in the past three years in England and Wales. Massey was serving life after being convicted of shooting dead a man with a sawn-off shotgun in Hackney. In 2007, he escaped while on day release while being transferred from a high-security jail to an open prison. Police want anyone who spots Massey to call 999. Conditions at Pentonville prison, which was built in 1842 and holds 1,200 male inmates, have been heavily criticised by inspectors.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Sex in prisons to be studied by Howard League

A charity is launching the first study of sex in British prisons. The Howard League for Penal Reform says it will spend two years looking at all elements of the issue, from consensual to coercive sex in jails. The investigation in England and Wales will also look at what can be done to improve the sex education of adolescent and teenage inmates. The UK has a ban on conjugal visits for prisoners - although more than half of European countries allow them. There is virtually no reliable information about the extent of consensual and coercive sex in jails, although ministers recently told Parliament there were almost 140 sexual assaults in 2010, up on the two previous years. The Howard League said it wanted its independent commission to shed light on the issue, which had never been properly discussed. The study has partly come about after the charity got involved in the cases of three teenagers who said they had been raped by other inmates. The research team will try to assess the scale of sexual offending in prisons - but will also look at whether the ban on consensual sex should go. Sex is unlawful in prisons because cells are deemed to be public places - but other countries take a completely different view. 'Behind the times' Frances Crook, chief executive of the Howard League, said: "These are three very big issues that have huge implications for the justice system. Nobody has looked at these at all in this country." She said that attitudes differed from country to country. More than half of European countries allow some form of private visits involving partners, although the rules differ widely. Canada has one of the most liberal systems and it allows private relationship visits for up to three days at a time for qualifying inmates. Canada's prisons service says the scheme was established to "develop and maintain family and community ties in preparation for their return to the community". Other countries take a similar view that private family time while in jail improves the chances of an offender resettling after release. The Ministry of Justice, which runs prisons in England and Wales, has no plans to change the law. "The issues have never been thought through [in the UK]," said Ms Crook. "We are behind the times by not talking about them." A key part of the investigation will look at the experiences of teenagers jailed for a year or more and how their sexual development and education compares to those on the outside. "If you have a 15-year-old who is jailed for two years, they are missing out on what their friends are getting which is the development of their relationships, girlfriends and so on," Ms Crook said. "They come out of prison with none of these experiences and we expect them, as a miracle, to catch up."

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

junior technician in India caused the RBS computer meltdown which froze millions of British bank accounts

The ‘inexperienced operative’ erased a massive swathe of information during a routine software upgrade for the Royal Bank of Scotland and its subsidiaries NatWest and Ulster Bank, according to reports.

The worker was understood to have been part of a team recruited in Hyderabad after the bank laid off more than 20,000 UK staff and outsourced work abroad.

The failure of RBS computers was allegedly the fault of a young technician in India

The failure of RBS computers was allegedly the fault of a young technician in India

Deleted information had to be painstakingly re-entered into the bank group’s computer system, stalling an estimated 100million transactions.

RBS refused to comment on the claims which were reported on technology website The Register.

 The site reported that the computer operator was carrying out an upgrade to the CA-7 software banks use to run their vast network of transactions.

As he checked the update, he accidentally erased a mass of data, the site claimed, adding: ‘A major error was made. An inexperienced person cleared the whole queue... they erased all the scheduling.’

Stephen Hester, RBS CEO, said there was 'no evidence' that the system crashing had any connection to the decision to outsource jobs to India

Stephen Hester, RBS chief executive, said there was 'no evidence' that the system failure was connected to the decision to outsource jobs to India

A source told the Mail the problems were exacerbated because the botched update was applied to both the banks’ back-up systems and the live computer – a worryingly basic mistake.

Millions of payments, including wages, disappeared from accounts leaving customers unable to withdraw cash, check their balance or settle bills.

Finance watchdogs warned the fallout from the computer meltdown could take weeks to sort out.

Sir Mervyn King said the slow reaction from RBS to the system failure needed to be questioned

Sir Mervyn King said the slow reaction from RBS to the system failure needed to be questioned

Bank of England Governor Sir Mervyn King told the Treasury select committee that questions needed to be asked about why the crisis had gone on for so long after the computer failure last Tuesday night, and called on the Financial Services Authority to launch a ‘very detailed investigation’.

The FSA said: ‘We will expect RBS-NatWest to provide us with a complete account of the issues once this is fully resolved and to take any necessary steps to ensure that the risks of these problems occurring again are addressed.’ 

The computer failure was so catastrophic that RBS and NatWest still do not know how many of their 15million customers were affected. 

Ulster Bank said 100,000 of its 1.9million account holders were hit.

Analysts believe the debacle could cost the banking group £100million in compensation and overtime payments.

The group’s share price rallied slightly yesterday after RBS and NatWest claimed they had finally cleared the backlog on their accounts, although more than £1.7billion has been wiped off the taxpayers’ 82 per cent stake in the group since the disruption began. 

RBS and NatWest said their accounts were now up-to-date but admitted ‘a small number of customers’ could still suffer delays and said account holders at Ulster Bank still faced unacceptable delays.

The Financial Ombudsman Service warned the chaos could go on for weeks and said it has been flooded with 500 calls a day from customers.

NatWest was forced to open 1,200 branches across the country over the weekend to clears a massive backlog of payments

NatWest was forced to open 1,200 branches across the country over the weekend to clears a massive backlog of payments

A spokesman said: ‘No one can really anticipate how long the disruption will go on for – but it could be weeks until the bank manages to sort out every complaint.’

Knock-on effects could include problems with charges for late payments and issues with credit ratings if customers have been unable to pay bills or transfer money. 

RBS head of customer services Susan Allen said: ‘We have made an error, we have been clear all the way through that we will make sure that customers and non-customers don’t lose out as a result of that.’

She said she was ‘embarrassed’ such a mistake had happened.

Last February, RBS advertised for a series of key jobs, paying between £9,000 and £11,000 a year for computer graduates with several years of experience using CA-7.

RBS has said the at-fault software was ‘UK-based’ and its computer servers are based in Britain, but insiders said many of their support teams were in Hyderabad.

Chief executive Stephen Hester said there was ‘no evidence’ the debacle was connected to the bank’s decision to outsource jobs to India.

The crisis has raised questions about the robustness of computer systems at  other banks.

BBC Rogue Traders presenter Dan Penteado has pleaded guilty to council tax and housing benefit fraud to the tune of more than £24,000.

Penteado, 40, who co-hosts the programme with Matt Allwright, admitted eight offences of dishonestly or knowingly claiming the benefits while not declaring he earned thousands from the BBC for the show. Penteado, from Bournemouth, was warned he could face jail and he was granted bail while a pre-sentence report is prepared. Kerry O'Neill, prosecuting, said the offences went back to 2007 when Penteado filled out his first claim form and failed to declare he had another bank account. The court heard that Penteado repeated the fraud in subsequent years up to 2011. In that time he failed to tell Bournemouth Borough Council he had been paid more than £56,000 for his work on Rogue Traders from 2008 to 2011. "He (Penteado) received £24,077.60 in housing and council tax benefit he was not entitled to," said Miss O'Neill. "He failed to notify the borough council of the money coming in." The court heard the council, which brought the prosecution, would be seeking to recover all the cash and Penteado had paid back £210 already. No mitigation was put put forward by his solicitor, Terrence Scanlan, at the hearing. The Portuguese-born presenter, who was wearing a white shirt, black tie, black trousers and a black jumper and carrying a black biker jacket, left court without comment. He started working with Mr Allwright in 2001. The case was adjourned until July 17 at Bournemouth Magistrates' Court.

UK firm 'lost £800m to cyber attack'

 Cyber attacks by a foreign state resulted in a British company losing £800m in revenue, the head of MI5 revealed yesterday. This "was not just through intellectual property loss but also from commercial disadvantage in contractual negotiations", said Jonathan Evans. "They will not be the only corporate victims. The extent of what is going on is astonishing, with industrial-scale processes involving thousands of people lying behind both state-sponsored cyber espionage and organised cyber crime." Mr Evans said that he rebellions in the Middle East have allowed some members of the global Islamist network created by Osama bin Laden to find bases for exporting jihad. This, he said, was a "new and worrying development and could get worse as events unfold". The rare public intervention by the director-general of the Security Service adds to the debate about the backing given by the UK, US and European states to opposition movements which have swept away regimes across the region. Critics suggest that it is hard-line Muslim fundamentalists, inimically hostile to the West, rather than progressive groups, which have seized the reins of power in the aftermath. Giving the Lord Mayor's Lecture at London's Mansion House last night, Mr Evans said: "Today, parts of Arab world have once again become a permissive environment for al Qa'ida. This is the completion of a cycle – al-Qa'ida first moved to Afghanistan due to pressure in their Arab countries of origin. They moved to Pakistan after the fall of the Taliban; and now some are heading back home to the Arab world again. "A small number of British would-be jihadists are also making their way to Arab countries to seek training and opportunities for militant activity, as they do in Somalia and Yemen. Some will return to the UK and pose a threat here." Large numbers of young men from the Libyan diaspora from Britain went to fight against Muammar Gaddafi's regime in Libya. Some of them were affiliated to the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) which was, at one point, allied with al-Qa'ida. However, security sources say there is little evidence of returning Libyan fighters becoming involved in domestic terrorist plots. A former head of the LIFG, Abdelhakim Belhaj, is currently suing the UK government, the former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw and Sir Mark Allen, once an officer with MI6, over alleged complicity in his rendition by US officials. Mr Evans continued: "The Arab Spring offers the long-term hope of a more pluralistic, democratic and flexible system in the Arab world. If that happens it would ease some of the pressures that have spawned extremism in the region. So we'll have to manage the short-term risks if there is to be a longer-term reward from the Arab Spring." According to the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), the UK has faced 43 credible terrorist plots since 9/11, with one deemed to be extremely serious every year since then. Mr Evans said: "In back rooms and in cars and on the streets there is no shortage of individuals talking about wanting to mount terrorist attacks here. We see them regularly in our intelligence investigations. Others in various parts of the world have the same ambition." But he added that successful operations have meant "we are near to reaching a form of stalemate – they haven't stopped trying but we have got better at stopping them." At the same time, said Mr Evans, MI5 is facing the challenge of new types of espionage with cyber security in the forefront. The director general said the Security Service was involved in the investigation of "cyber-compromises in over a dozen companies and is working with many others that are potential future targets of hostile state activity. But this is only a tiny proportion of those affected." He added that one London listed company has lost £800m through cyber attacks. The identity of the company cannot be disclosed for reasons of commercial confidentiality, claim Whitehall officials. The vast majority of state-organised cyber attacks in this country are believed to be carried out by China and Russia, with an array of targets from weapons manufacturers to petroleum producers.

Monday, 25 June 2012

Dothan Gordon shooting in Ealing: arrest made

A man has been arrested over the shooting of another man and his partner in west London. Dothan Gordon, 32, died at the scene in Ealing on Wednesday. His 28-year-old partner also suffered gunshot wounds and was taken to hospital to be treated for a shoulder injury. A Scotland Yard spokesman said a 29-year-old man had been arrested at an address in Ipswich on suspicion of murder on Sunday evening. The spokesman added that officers from Suffolk Police had assisted with the arrest. The shooting happened at 14:50 BST on Wednesday at a residential address in Glenpark Court, Felix Road. A post-mortem examination confirmed Mr Gordon died from a gunshot wound.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

OAP arrested in stab murder probe

A pensioner is under arrest after a 60-year-old man was fatally stabbed. Police said they were called to reports of a disturbance in Clifton Street, Bridgwater, Somerset, on Thursday morning. The victim, who has not been identified, was flown to Taunton's Musgrave Park Hospital where he later died from his injuries. An 83-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of murder, Avon and Somerset Police said. It is understood that the pensioner has since been taken to hospital and is receiving medical treatment. Officers are waiting for the results of a post-mortem examination but confirmed that they are treating the victim's death as suspicious. A force spokesman said: "We were called to reports of an altercation in the Clifton Street area of Bridgwater on Thursday morning at about 10.50am. "The man was taken by air ambulance to Taunton's Musgrave Park Hospital where he later died. "Another man was arrested on suspicion of murder in connection with the incident and he remains in police custody. "The post-mortem examination is yet to be carried out but the death is being treated as suspicious."

16-year-olds who have committed 86 crimes each

tiny, hard core of amoral teenagers is responsible for the majority of juvenile crimes, according to a ground-breaking study from the University of Cambridge. A delinquent minority will commit an average of 86 crimes each by the age of 16, with less than 4 per cent responsible for nearly half of all youth crime. A lack of a sense of morality – rather than the opportunity to commit crime or social background – was found to be the most important factor in teenagers breaking the law. The 16 per cent who admitted having the weakest moral sense and self-control were responsible for 60 per cent of all the recorded crimes. Cambridge researchers studied 700 teenagers over five years in Peterborough, chosen as a bellwether location for its average size, crime level and social make-up. From the age of 12 to 16 youngsters were asked about their attitudes to lawlessness and asked what criminal things they had done. Their answers were cross-checked with police records. Crime occurred when teenagers with little sense of right and wrong were in areas where people were unlikely to intervene – primarily city centres or run-down housing estates. The findings could have profound implications for policing and youth crime policy. Last year the number of under-18s in custody in England and Wales averaged more than 2,000, and youth offending remains a source of political controversy. Nationally, the latest crime figures show that under-17s are responsible for 23 per cent of police recorded crime – more than a million crimes. The study suggests that most of those crimes will be committed by a tiny minority of young people. A typical example of this lawless group is Nathaniel Moffett, a 16-year-old from Bristol who was jailed for five years last February after committing a string of armed robberies. In a single court case Moffett admitted five robberies, three attempted robberies and three charges of possessing a bladed article. He led an older accomplice in a series of attacks on women and children last year, including threatening a 14-year-old with a rusty blade to get his mobile phone and 21p in change. He was caught after punching a pregnant woman in the stomach to steal her wallet while her five-year-old daughter looked on. He wrote on his Facebook page: "I'm nothing but a bully that can't hit a man cus I no I will get banged [beaten] so I have to hit girls." The research also offers some insights into last year's riots, notably on the question why some young people went on a lawless rampage while others did not. Teenagers who avoided crime did so not because they feared the consequences or lacked the chance, but because they saw it as wrong. The research, which is the most comprehensive study of youth crime and its causes conducted in Europe, found that a third of teenagers did nothing wrong at all over five years. Professor Per-Olof Wikstrom, who led the Cambridge study, said: "Many young people are 'crime averse' and simply don't perceive crime as a possible course of action ... The idea that opportunity makes the thief – that young people will inevitably commit crime in certain environments – runs counter to our findings." He added that policy-makers should put an emphasis on teaching young people moral boundaries. "We need to focus on developing policies that affect children and young people's moral education and cognitive nurturing – which aids the development of greater self-control." Camila Batmanghelidjh, the founder of Kids Company, cautioned against branding some young people as amoral. She said: "Society is lecturing children and young people about how well behaved they should be but it's not behaving in a way that warrants respect. It's a given that it's a good thing to teach right from wrong, but really where children observe it the most is in experience: it's 'have you looked after me?' and 'do you do what you preach?'" One 14-year-old boy who attends a Kids Company youth club in London said: "I got caught stealing and was given a second chance. That's when I realised it was wrong. Nobody told me I shouldn't do it and my mum still doesn't know I did it." Graham Beech, the director of the crime reduction charity Nacro, said: "In my view the key to preventing crime by the small number of young people who are most likely to get entrenched in crime is to get in early, instil positive attitudes and teach them how to solve their everyday problems in a better way." But academics around the world have heralded the study as a breakthrough in understanding why teenagers break the law. Professor Michael Gottfredson at the University of California described it as "among the most significant works in criminology in decades", while Professor Robert Sampson at Harvard University said the research was a "breakthrough that deserves a wide readership".

Gang behind Southampton £300m cocaine seizure jailed

When the 65ft luxury motor yacht the Louise arrived in Southampton it had enough cocaine hidden on board to sustain a third of the annual UK market. The gang behind the plot aimed to flood Europe with up to £300m of the Class A drug, the equivalent of about seven million street deals. But the conspiracy was smashed after authorities, who had received a tip-off, intercepted gang members' telephone conversations with a wire tap and tracked the pleasure cruiser from the Caribbean to the UK. Border force officers discovered one tonne of 90% pure cocaine, one of their biggest ever seizures, hidden in a deep compartment, during an almost week-long search of the yacht. The haul accounted for almost half of the total cocaine seizures across the whole of the UK in 2010/11, which was 2.4 tonnes. When the smugglers were arrested in a series of police raids across the Netherlands, officers recovered a loaded machine-gun, a handgun with silencer and 1.5m euros. 'Ingenious' hiding place French authorities were first alerted that a shipment of cocaine had been loaded on to the Louise in May last year. The Louise was tracked from the Caribbean to Southampton, where it arrived later that month, after being transported aboard a container ship along with other luxury cruisers arriving from the Caribbean for the UK summer season. Border force officers, who spent six days searching the yacht with sniffer dogs, eventually discovered the cocaine bagged up in a deep compartment, specially designed for smuggling, beneath the diving platform. Drugs being smuggled out of the Caribbean and South America on boats are usually hidden among tropical fruit, the border force said. At the time of the discovery Brodie Clark, then head of the border force, described the hiding place as "ingenious". The cocaine, destined for the Netherlands, via England, was packed inside the boat while it was in Venezuela.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Middlesbrough councillors' police protection after cars torched

Councillors in Middlesbrough are being given police protection after cars were petrol-bombed by "political obsessives", mayor Ray Mallon has said. Cleveland Police said they are linking the Jubilee weekend attacks on cars belonging to Geoff Cole and Bob Kerr. They declined to comment on the type of protection offered, and to whom, saying it could compromise security. Mr Mallon said the spate of attacks was a "sinister" hate campaign to drive out certain Labour representatives. Det Ch Insp Alastair Simpson said: "If these crimes are motivated as attacks against elected officials, it is also of concern for the wider community and democracy in the town. 'Likely targets' "Whilst we have to retain an open mind about the motives for these attacks, we are actively pursuing this theory." Other councillors around Middlesbrough have reported damage to their homes and a car was set alight earlier this year. Mr Mallon, a former Cleveland Police detective who earned the nickname RoboCop for his tough stance on crime, said members of the council are now being given protection after he built up a criminal profile of the arsonists and predicted where they would strike next. "Having analysed the status and activities of all councillors, I have arrived at a judgment as to who are the likely targets of future criminal action," he told councillors at a town hall meeting in Middlesbrough. "You know who you are and what measures are being put into place for your protection and that of your property." Mr Mallon believes radical "community-type activists" angry at the town's social and economic problems are behind the attacks.

Friday, 22 June 2012

dentist Joyce Trail claimed for dead patients in £1.4m NHS fraud, jury told

    Dr Joyce Trail
    Dr Joyce Trail

    A Birmingham dentist conned the NHS out of £1.4 million by making thousands of false claims for treating patients, including dozens for people who were dead, a jury has heard.

    Dr Joyce Trail, who is standing trial alongside her sister and daughter, is alleged to have used the proceeds of the scam to fund a globe-trotting and free-spending lifestyle.

    Dr Trail, 50, her daughter Nyri Sterling, 33, and sister Fiona Trail, 46, all deny conspiring to defraud the NHS between April 2006 and March 2009.

    Opening the case at the start of what is expected to be a five-week trial, prosecutor Miranda Moore QC alleged the fraud at Dr Trail's practice in Handsworth involved more than 7,000 claims backed up by false paperwork.

    Miss Moore told Birmingham Crown Court: "Dr Trail claimed and was paid a great deal for treatment she had not performed - not just a few claims, not just a few clerical errors but something in the order of £1.4 million of false claims.

    "The others (Fiona Trail and Sterling) both worked in the administration side of the practice and they assisted her in running this substantial fraud.

    "We say you will be convinced that her sister and daughter played a part in this fraud, for which they were rewarded."

    False lab dockets and invoices relating to dentures allegedly being supplied to residents in care homes are said to have been used to perpetrate the fraud.

    Dr Trail, of Park Drive, Little Aston, Sutton Coldfield, Fiona Trail, of Belle Vale, Halesowen, West Midlands, and Sterling, of Ashwood Close, Oldbury, face one count of conspiracy to defraud.

    Dr Trail and her sister also deny conspiring to pervert the course of justice in April 2009 as NHS investigators gathered evidence.

    Deal reached in AIG, Gen Re fraud case

    deal has been reached to prevent a new criminal fraud trial for former executives of American International Group Inc (AIG.N) and Berkshire Hathaway Inc (BRKa.N) unit Gen Re, federal prosecutors said on Friday. "The parties have reached agreements to resolve this matter," prosecutors said in a filing in Connecticut federal court, adding that further details were expected later in the day. In 2008, former Gen Re Chief Executive Ronald Ferguson, Chief Financial Officer Elizabeth Monrad, Senior Vice President Christopher Garand and Assistant General Counsel Robert Graham, as well as AIG Vice President Christian Milton, were convicted of engineering a reinsurance deal to fraudulently boost AIG's reserves.

    National Lampoon CEO convicted of financial fraud, conspiracy

    Timothy S. Durham, a former CEO of National Lampoon and leveraged buyout firm executive, conspired with his business partners to defraud investors in a $200 million scheme, a federal court jury in Indianapolis ruled Thursday. Durham, 49, was convicted on 10 counts of wire fraud, one count of securities fraud and one count of conspiracy after he and his co-defendants James F. Cochran and Rick Snow embezzled money from nearly 5,000 investors in the Ohio-based Fair Finance Company, according to court documents obtained by TheWrap. "Mr. Durham and his co-conspirators used lies and deceit as their business model," Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer said in a statement. "They duped investors into thinking they were running a legitimate financial services company and misled regulators and others about the health of their failing firm. But all along, they were lining their pockets with other people's money." Cochran, 56, was found guilty of six counts of wire fraud, one of securities fraud and one of conspiracy. Snow, 48, the former chief financial officer of Fair, was convicted of three counts of wire fraud, one of securities and one of conspiracy, too. They now each face a maximum of five years in prison for the conspiracy count, 20 years for each wire fraud count and 20 years for the securities fraud count. Each defendant could also be fined $250,000 for each conviction. John L. Tompkins, Durham's defense attorney, told TheWrap that his client plans to appeal and maintains his innocence. He said that he believed the Indiana jury was offended by the lifestyle Durham had while living in Los Angeles. "We fought very hard to keep the trial focused on issues related to fraud and prevent the government from turning it into a trial of lifestyle," Tompkins told TheWrap. "He was flamboyant, at least for Indiana. spent a lot of time talking about a fundraiser he did at the Playboy Mansion." In April, Durham's attempt to have the case dismissed, claiming some of the federal government's evidence in the case was obtained through illegal wiretaps, was rejected by a federal judge. Three years after purchasing Fair, Durham, Cochran and Snow began making false and misleading statements about the firm's financial condition and about the way they were investing clients' money. When they bought the firm in 2002, Fair reported $37 million of debt to investors from the sale of investment certificates and income-producing finance receivables of about $48 million. By November 2009, seven years after Durham and Cochran bought Fair, the firm owed investors $200 million. Meanwhile, its only income-producing assets consisted of loans to Durham and Cochran, their associates and the businesses they owned or controlled - which they claimed were worth $240 million - along with $24 million in finance receivables. The money used for personal loans - meant to be used primarily for purchasing finance receivables - virtually decimated the financial health of the firm. By then Durham, whom prosecutors fingered as the ringleader, fired Fair's accountants and stopped obtaining and releasing independent financial audits. Though the loans were booked as lucrative assets, they were worthless or grossly overvalued, producing little or no cash and supported by insufficient or non-existent collateral to assure repayment. Meanwhile, Durham and Cochran granted themselves bonuses and extended lines of credit. The men then lied to concerned investors asking for payments and directed employees not to pay investors who were owed money. Durham resigned from his post at the National Lampoon in January, but continued as CEO of the Indianapolis-based leveraged buyout firm Obsidian Enterprises. He is the second former Lampoon CEO to be convicted of conspiracy in the past two years. In 2010, CEO Daniel Laikin was convicted and sentenced to four years in prison for artificially inflating the company's stock price by paying people to buy shares.

    spread of Calabria's 'ndrangheta mafia sees outposts established in UK and Ireland

    The seemingly unstoppable spread of Italy's most powerful organised crime group has now seen it establish outposts in the UK and Ireland, according to anti-mafia judges. Fuelled by its control of a €27 billion-a year-cocaine business, the 'ndrangheta mafia, with its roots in the southern Italian region of Calabria, has begun to colonise London and Dublin, warn the Reggio Calabria magistrates in key reports. The documents, including the 'Crimine' and 'Crimine 2' probes into 'ndrangheta activity, reveal the astonishing extent to which the crime cartel has established itself around Europe. In London, the Aracri and Fazzari clans are thought to be active in the money laundering, catering and drug trafficking. The level of the activity in the UK and Ireland is low relative to continental Europe. But given the group's ruthlessness and ambition, few experts doubt that its presence in the British Isles will increase as it has in other European countries. Earlier this year, authorities in the south of France warned that the notoriously violent group, which sprang to public attention following the internecine murders of six members outside a pizza restaurant in Duisberg, Germany, 2007, was colonising France's Cote d'Azur, with bases in Marseilles, Monte Carlo, Nice and Menton. 'ndrangheta activity in Barcelona has also risen significantly "They control territory with extortion and intimidation as they do in Calabria or the urban outskirts of Milan, demanding protection money - and not only from Italian ex-pats," said Michele Prestipino, an anti-mafia prosecutor from Reggio Calabria. "'ndrangheta is everywhere," the super-grass Luigi Bonaventura, said yesterday in a video interview with La Repubblica. "You only need two to three people to form a cell."  Once the number of local mobsters reaches 50, the cell becomes a "locale". "In Germany they have dozens of locali," Bonaventura said. "In Holland and Belgium they control the ports, in the Cote d'Azur they control the hotels, in Bulgaria investments in the tourist sector on the Black Sea, in the Balkans they control the drug routes." Other informants have revealed how the crime syndicate is skilled at forming alliances with existing criminal groups before going on to exploit them. This cunning has been credited in a recent report by the Dutch police warning that over twenty senior 'ndrangheta figures and hundreds of their associates are now successfully trading in arms and drugs with authorities virtually unaware of their existence. The lack of special anti-mafia laws outside of Italy make the rest of Europe fertile ground for 'ndrangheta clans. In Italy, convicted mobsters face long stretches in solitary confinement. And members can be jailed under the catch-all crime of "mafia association". This is not the case outside Italy. Some observers have even noted how Germany, the biggest 'ndrangheta stronghold outside Italy, has assumed its increasingly familiar role of subsidising the activity of more workshy southern Europeans. The wives of jailed 'ndrangheta mobsters in Germany get state unemployment benefits of €365 a month. "And they don't even have to pay their rent. How is that possible?" said Vito Giudicepietro, a local union representative in the German town of Singen, which saw a huge influx of southern Italians in the late 1950s. According to Magistrate Prestipino, the lack of anti-mafia laws "is the biggest obstacle". "In Europe, the institutions have trouble understanding the dangers of organised crime clans and their ability to intimidate," he told La Repubblica.

    Gary Barlow faced a backlash last night after it emerged he and two Take That bandmates invested £26million in a scheme allegedly designed to avoid paying tax.

    Barlow, Howard Donald, Mark Owen and their manager, Jonathan Wild, face suggestions they avoided paying their fair share of income tax.

    They are among 1,000 people who contributed £480million to 62 partnerships in music industry investment schemes that act as tax shelters for super-rich individuals.

    The revelations have prompted MPs to question the decision to honour Barlow with an OBE this month.

    Revenue officials will attempt to shut down the partnerships, run by a company called Icebreaker Management Services, at a tribunal in November. 

    A spokesman for Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs said: 'We do not accept that the Icebreaker tax schemes have the tax effects their promoters claim.' 

    He said one Icebreaker scheme had already been successfully challenged.

    Labour MP Stephen Pound criticised Barlow yesterday, saying: 'It's less Take That and more like Take That And All The Rest. Gary Barlow needs to do his patriotic duty and show he is not a part-time patriot off-shoring his wealth through this shelter while keeping his OBE on-shore.' 

    Simon Hughes, the Lib Dem deputy leader, said he was 'on the warpath' over people who did not pay full tax. 

    He said: 'Honours are meant to be for people who serve Britain and are good citizens in doing so. If you don't pay your taxes you're not a fully decent citizen.




    'In the future, the honours committee – because these things are all scrutinised – should make sure that people are clean as far as their tax affairs are concerned as well as having done good public service for Britain and its exports.'

    Mr Hughes added: 'I think we'll hear a lot more of this in the weeks ahead. I'm certainly one of those on the warpath and I'm not going to be diverted. It is completely unacceptable. 

    'We've had billions of pounds unpaid every year by people like the comedians and the singers we're talking about – that's got to end.'

    'Seeking haven': Fellow Take That stars Mark Owen (left) and Howard Donald (right) are also said to have invested in the scheme, which HM Revenue & Customs is attempting to shut down

    'Seeking haven': Fellow Take That stars Mark Owen (left) and Howard Donald (right) are also said to have invested in the scheme, which HM Revenue & Customs is attempting to shut down

    Lawyers representing Barlow, Donald, Owen and Mr Wild confirmed their clients were investors in two Icebreaker partnerships, but believed they were legitimate enterprises.

    Icebreaker denies that its partnerships were designed to avoid tax. There is no suggestion that the scheme is illegal.

    Lib Dem MP Greg Mulholland, a member of the Public Administration Select committee, said: ‘It is wrong for those held up as models of service and duty to be given or indeed to accept honours despite having deliberately avoided the payment of tax. 

    Jimmy Carr has broken his silence over claims that he dodged tax, insisting: 'I pay what I have to and not a penny more'

    Jimmy Carr has broken his silence over claims that he dodged tax, insisting: 'I pay what I have to and not a penny more'

    'Those who are happy to be honoured by their country should also be happy to pay taxes to their country. Not doing so is not acceptable and unpatriotic.’ 

    He added that those honoured by the nation ‘should be happy to make their contribution to national life in every sense’.’ 

    Stephen Williams, the Lib Dems’ co-chair of their Treasury policy committee, added: ‘I don’t think our system should honour individuals who don’t pay their way.’ 

    A typical Icebreaker partnership collects around £10million from about a dozen investors and uses the funds to buy music rights in upcoming and established artists.

    Investors get tax relief on any money they invest in the scheme. 

    However, they are able to wipe out more tax than they actually pay because any investment they make out of their own cash can be bumped up by taking a loan arranged by Icebreaker from an offshore bank and also investing this in the scheme.

    For example, someone who makes a minimum investment of £40,000 of their own money into an Icebreaker partnership, could boost the amount they put in by taking an offshore loan for £160,000. 

    They would get tax relief on the full amount they paid in - wiping £77,250 off their bill.

    A person who invests £200,000 in cash can earn £1million tax free.

    If the tax relief they get is greater than their annual income then it can be used by a wealthy investor against other income they have paid tax on during the previous three years.

    Icebreaker denied that its partnerships were designed to avoid tax. It said they were intended to invest money in the music industry for profit by producing ‘creative and artistic material and [creating] taxable profits’

    Companies House records show that the three Take That members and their manager joined two Icebreaker partnerships in March 2010 and September 2011.

    In the first, they put in £5.2million of their own cash and borrowed another £20.8million.

    The partnership registered a loss in the year to April 2010 of £25.2million, which accounts show as ‘available for discretionary division among members’.

    Lawyers representing Barlow, Donald, Owen and Mr Wild said the men had paid significant amounts of tax. 

    They confirmed that their clients were investors in the two partnerships, but believed they were legitimate enterprises and not tax-avoidance schemes.

    There is no suggestion that other members of Take That were investors - and it is not known whether those that did were aware of the tax benefits when they invested in the partnerships. 

    There is no suggestion that the scheme is illegal.

    Thursday, 21 June 2012

    Teams of organised criminals from Eastern Europe and South America are plotting to fly to London to target the Olympics, police warned today.

    The gangs are planning a crime blitz with pickpockets and conmen preying on visitors to the capital. Police are investigating one Eastern European gang whose members are posing as plain-clothes officers in the street and asking tourists to provide their bank details and Pins. The bogus officers show a fake warrant card and claim they are carrying out a security check. They also impose “fines” or demand people’s wallets. A number of groups are said to be using the con and four people have been arrested. The gang is operating in the West End and around tourist attractions. Det Supt Nick Downing, the head of the police operation against the gangs, said: “It has been going for a while but we need to raise awareness of this. They are preying on people who maybe don’t understand what a plain-clothes police officer looks like or might do. “They are preying on the vulnerability of tourists in London. There is intelligence that there are people from Eastern European and South American groups who are coming to London to target the Olympics and the London economy.” He added: “These problems are occurring in London today but they are magnified by the Olympics.” Police also revealed that dozens of people across the world had fallen victim to internet Olympic ticket frauds. They have interviewed more than 50 people who have spent thousands of pounds on fake tickets. Scotland Yard issued warnings about several websites suspected of selling fake Olympic tickets. Mr Downing said: “Sadly, despite all the warnings people are still clicking on the internet and buying tickets for the 100 metre final for £36. We urge people to only go to the registered official London 2012 website.” He said 35 websites had been suspended and one European ticketing agency had been charged with unauthorised selling of Olympic tickets. “The internet means that we are trying to police the world and it is a major challenge. But our message is if you buy tickets from unauthorised websites you will be let down.” Mr Downing urged tourists and visitors to call 999 if they believed they had been targeted by bogus police. inShare

    Fake Undercover Police Con Olympic Tourists

    Police are warning of criminals posing as undercover cops and "fining" tourists for bogus minor offences ahead of the London 2012 Olympics. They say gangs from South America and Eastern Europe are targeting visitors, accusing them of littering or not having ID documents. They then demand an immediate cash "fine" or accompany them to cashpoint machines and insist they withdraw money. Scotland Yard detectives have arrested four suspects, but believe there are many others trying to dupe confused tourists. Detective Superintendent Nick Downing said: "It's theft, pure and simple. They prey on foreigners who don't know how our police operate and have intimidated some to hand over money. "Visitors should know that no police officer will ever ask for cash in those circumstances." Police have also warned sports fans to beware of eight bogus Olympic ticket websites that are either unauthorised or fraudulent.

    Downing Street defends Gary Barlow honour after tax row

    Downing Street has stood by a decision to give Take That singer Gary Barlow an OBE days before it emerged that he and other members of his pop band invested at least £26million in a scheme that potentially avoided tax.

    Jimmy Carr: 'I've made a terrible error of judgement'

    The comedian had been exposed as the biggest beneficiary of the K2 scheme, which protects money from tax in Jersey. In a statement released via his Twitter page, Mr Carr apologised and promised to conduct his financial affairs "much more responsibly". He told his 2.3 million followers: "I appreciate as a comedian, people will expect me to ‘make light’ of this situation, but I’m not going to in this statement as this is obviously a serious matter. "I met with a financial advisor and he said to me 'Do you want to pay less tax? It’s totally legal.' I said 'Yes.' "I now realise I’ve made a terrible error of judgement.

    Carpenter in court over £23,000 tax fraud claims

    38-year-old carpenter was given a suspended jail sentence after he falsely claimed almost £24,000 in tax repayments. Joseph Adrian Lee, of Park Farm Way, Stanground, Peterborough pleaded guilty at Huntingdon Crown Court last Thursday to making four fraudulent VAT repayments totalling £23,972 for materials that he never purchased. The court handed him a three-month prison sentence suspended for 12 months, ordered to complete 150 hours of community work and pay £500 towards costs. The conviction follows an investigation by HM Revenue and Customs which began in July 2011. Lee made the four fraudulent VAT repayment claims to HM Revenue and Customs between March 31, 2010 and March 31, 2011. HM Revenue and Customs paid the first two claims, totalling around £13,000 but did not pay the other two because the amounts of money being claimed were thousands of pounds more than he had previously submitted to the organisation.

    2,000 'off payroll' civil servants face tax probe

    HM Revenue & Customs said it will open investigations into the “highest-risk cases” of suspected tax underpayment by senior public officials. Exaro, the investigative news website, said that HMRC could recover up to £100 million in revenue from the crackdown. Civil servants found to have underpaid tax would have to pay money back with interest and penalties. They could be billed for unpaid tax going back up to six years, as well as penalties of 30 per cent or more of the amounts owed. Some accountants told Exaro that individual bills could run into tens of thousands of pounds, and HMRC could recoup a total of up to £50 million in unpaid tax and national insurance, plus another £50 million in interest and penalties. Last month, Danny Alexander, chief secretary to the Treasury, found that over 2,400 senior public officials earning more than £58,200 a year were "off payroll". Some – said to be “dozens” – were paid this way for more than 10 years.

    Wednesday, 20 June 2012

    Bride jailed for stealing to help fund wedding

    A bride who stole up to £200,000 from her employer to help pay for a lavish wedding was jailed for 20 months on Wednesday. Kirsty Lane, a 30-year-old part-time accounts assistant, laid on a fireworks display, magician, two bands, a free bar and face painting to entertain guests at her wedding in January 2011. But when she returned from her honeymoon, she was suspended from her job at Pure Audio Visual Ltd in Leyland, Lancashire after irregularities were discovered. At Preston Crown Court, Judge Pamela Badley said Lane had at first stolen "modest" amounts of cash which later rose sharply. "This was a cynical exploitation of the small company for which you worked," the judge told Lane. Some of the money also went on paying for luxuries including car keys covered in Swarovski crystals, a designer watch and personalised car registration plates. Lane joined the firm in May 2007 and carried out her crimes between December 2008 and January 2011. She pleaded guilty to 10 counts of fraud by abuse of position and asked for 112 similar offences to be taken into consideration as well. Around £70,000 went into her husband Graham's bank account. He has already been cleared of any wrongdoing. Prosecution lawyer Kirsten McAteer told the court hearing Kirsty Lane's case: "Once she started stealing money, she couldn't stop. She was afraid Mr Lane would leave her when he found out the truth."

    Julian Assange: celebrity backers face £240,000 bill for WikiLeaks founder's bail breach

    Supporters of Julian Assange are facing a £240,000 bill after the WikiLeaks founder breached bail by staying at the Ecuadorean embassy where he is seeking asylum.

    Julian Assange: Wikileaks founder seeks asylum in Ecuador
    Image 1 of 5
    WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange outside the High Court in London Photo: GEOFF PUGH
    Socialite Jemima Khan, film director Ken Loach and journalist John Pilger all put up thousands of pounds in securities to allow Assange his freedom in December 2010.

    However today Scotland Yard said Assange had breached his conditions by entering the Ecuadorean embassy and now faces re-arrest.

    Asked whether she was "on the hook" for his breach of bail, Khan replied on Twitter: "Yes. I had expected him to face the allegations. I am as surprised as anyone by this."

    Jemima Khan could lose £20,000 after WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange breached his bail conditions

    Vaughan Smith, who housed the WikiLeaks founder at his 10-bedroom Ellingham Hall for more than a year said he was worried about losing the money he had put up.

    Mr Smith said: "I was surprised. I hadn't spoken to him for two weeks. If somebody in Britain feels the need to walk into an embassy and claim asylum I think we as a society have to ask ourselves some qusetions.

    "Julian is a man I've never seen panic. He is courageous and brave. He believes in what he is doing and he should be credited for that.

    "I'm trying not to think about whether I will or will not lose any money. I hope I won't. But first and foremost Julian is a friend.

    "If I were to lose money it would impact on the wealth of my family. But at the same time my family are not living in fear of their lives which I genuinely believe that Jullian is," Mr Smith told The Evening Standard.

    Julian Assange spends Christmas at Vaughan Smith's home of Ellingham Hall

    A friend today claimed Assange is in 'good spirits' and has received a 'generous and welcoming' reception from the embassy.

    Speaking outside the embassy Gavin Macfadyen, director of the Centre for Investigative Journalism, said: "He is fine. He is in very good humour and very grateful for the hospitality of the embassy which has been very generous and welcoming.

    "There will be a statement in time. He explained to me why he took the step of visiting the embassy but I want to leave that for him to say.

    "There are big issues involved in this case. What is being done to Julian is not just. This is all to do with his security as a person against major attempts to 'bring him to justice.'

    "He is in good spirits, but I have no idea what chance he has of getting asylum. At the minute he is in a meeting with his lawyers."

    Vaughan Smith

    Mr Assange entered the embassy in Knightsbridge and requested asylum under the United Nations Human Rights Declaration yesterday afternoon.

    He stayed overnight while his application was being processed but in doing so, has breached one of his bail conditions and is now subject to arrest under the Bail Act.

    A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: "One of the conditions was that he was supposed to be at a named bail address between 10pm and 8am, and it was 10.20pm that we were notified that he had breached that particular condition."

    It is believed discussions were taking place at diplomatic level this morning to move the matter on.

    The founder of the whistle–blowing website, accused his government of “effectively abandoning” him and “ignoring the obligation to protect its citizen, who is persecuted politically".

    His dramatic move came after he lost a long-running legal bid earlier this month to halt his extradition to Sweden, where he is accused of the sex attacks by two former volunteers.

    Assange seeks political asylum

    On Tuesday night WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange applied for political asylum at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London after failing in his bid to avoid extradition to Sweden to face sex crime allegations. The 40-year-old Australian is currently inside the building in Knightsbridge, having gone there on Tuesday afternoon to request asylum under the United Nations Human Rights Declaration. The country's foreign minister Ricardo Patino told a press conference in the South American country that it was considering his request. In a short statement last night, Mr Assange said: "I can confirm that today I arrived at the Ecuadorian Embassy and sought diplomatic sanctuary and political asylum. This application has been passed to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the capital Quito. I am grateful to the Ecuadorian ambassador and the government of Ecuador for considering my application." The computer expert, who was on £200,000 bail after failing in several attempts to halt extradition, attracted several high-profile supporters including Ken Loach and socialite and charity fundraiser Jemima Khan, who each offered £20,000 as surety. Other supporters included Bianca Jagger and veteran left-winger Tony Benn. The Swedish authorities want him to answer accusations of raping a woman and sexually molesting and coercing another in Stockholm in August 2010 while on a visit to give a lecture. Assange, whose WikiLeaks website has published a mass of leaked diplomatic cables that embarrassed several governments and international businesses, says the sex was consensual and the allegations against him are politically motivated. The Supreme Court last month ruled in favour of a High Court ruling that his extradition was legal. Last week the Supreme Court refused an attempt by him to reopen his appeal against extradition, saying it was "without merit". He had until June 28 to ask European judges in Strasbourg to consider his case and postpone extradition on the basis that he has not had a fair hearing from the UK courts. A statement issued on behalf of the Ecuadorian Embassy said Mr Assange would remain at the embassy while his request was considered.

    Monday, 18 June 2012

    Police study Murdoch's 'secret' iPhone account

    Scotland Yard detectives investigating phone hacking at the News of the World are examining the call records of four newly discovered Apple iPhones issued to senior executives at News International. The smartphones, issued by O2 in a contract beginning in October 2009, included a handset given to James Murdoch, the former chairman and chief executive of News Corp Europe. Despite billing for the phones totalling nearly £12,000 between June last year and May this year, neither Operation Weeting nor the Leveson Inquiry was told of the existence of the smartphone accounts. Phone text messages and emails sent and received by News International executives and advisers have provided some of the most controversial evidence heard by Lord Justice Leveson's inquiry into press practices and ethics. It had been assumed that the email and text traffic from key News International executives was centred solely on their company BlackBerry account with Vodafone. In accounts seen by The Independent, issued through 02's corporate customer services at Arlington Business Park in Leeds, Mr Murdoch's iPhone account is listed as "active". Mr Murdoch is said to have told 02 that he specifically wanted a "white iPhone" when the smartphone was issued to him in the summer of 2009. Katie Vanneck-Smith, listed as News International's chief marketing officer, also has an active account. Two other NI executive numbers are described as disconnected. Between June last year – just before The Guardian revealed in July that the mobile phone of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler had been hacked into – and the beginning of the Leveson Inquiry in November, the NI iPhone accounts were billed for £9,650. Last night, Labour MP Tom Watson said people would be "shocked" to learn that the smartphones had been issued to key NI executives, while the company's disclosures focused only on the BlackBerry Vodafone accounts. Mr Watson said he hoped that News Corp's Management and Standards Committee, which is responsible for all matters relating to phone hacking, would enforce its own promise of full transparency and appropriate disclosure, by revealing all the data and logs held on the discovered phones to both the police and the Leveson Inquiry. Last night, a spokeswoman for News International, said: "Mr Murdoch fully co-operated with the Leveson Inquiry. It is ridiculous to suggest that James Murdoch keeps or kept a 'secret phone'." Meanwhile sources close to the Leveson Inquiry have denied that Lord Justice Leveson threatened to quit his judicial investigation following comments made in February by Michael Gove. The Education Secretary told a gathering of political journalists that the inquiry into press ethics and practices was creating a "chilling atmosphere" towards press freedom. During Prime Minister's Questions in the Commons the day after Mr Gove's lobby speech, David Cameron appeared to back his cabinet colleague's view. Concern that Mr Gove might be the Prime Minister's advance messenger prompted Lord Justice Leveson to call the Cabinet Secretary, Sir Jeremy Heywood. Whitehall sources say Lord Justice Leveson wanted to learn directly from Mr Cameron whether his inquiry was wasting public money on an ultimately futile exercise or whether his initial remit stood. Although the reassurances from No 10 took two days to arrive, sources claim there was no threat from the judge to resign from his own inquiry.

    Sunday, 17 June 2012

    British banks could face potential losses of up to £100bn if Italian and Spanish economies implode

    The latest data from the Bank of England reveals that UK lenders are exposed to the tune of $142.5bn (£91.3bn) in both Italy and Spain, spelling potentially disastrous consequences for British banks should these European economies collapse. Of the total, British banks have $83.1bn tied up in Spain’s public and private sector, including its banking system, and a further $59.4bn exposure to Italy. UK banks are relatively insulated to the sovereign debt of the weakest European economies compared to other lenders in the eurozone, including those in Germany and France. But they remain highly vulnerable to private sector debt in Italy and Spain, the Bank said, and have significant money locked up in major European banking systems, resulting in “indirect” exposure to the public sector debt crisis. As at the end of December, the period for which the latest figures are available, UK banks exposure to Italy was $59.4bn. Of this, $44bn was private sector debt and just $8.4bn was sovereign debt.

    Tickets scandal an insult to fans and taxpayers

    Of all the negative stories – from transport meltdowns to security scares – likely to afflict the London Olympics before the curtain goes up on Danny Boyle's opening ceremony, Sunday's was the most predictable. And yet it is also potentially among the most damaging. Claims that 27 representatives of 54 countries – more than a quarter of the total number whose athletes will march around the track in Stratford in the name of Olympic values – were prepared to break International Olympic Committee rules and sell thousands of tickets on the black market will not come as a big surprise to many. Certainly not to anyone who has observed the margins of major sporting events since the 1984 Los Angeles Games set the template for the modern era. Yet the numbers involved still shock – up to £6,000 demanded for "AA" blue riband tickets sloshing around in a global market for an event staged in venues built with billions of pounds of public money. For the IOC, which had spent much of the past decade ridding itself of the stain of the Salt Lake City scandal, and for London 2012 organisers, battling public cynicism about ticketing, cronyism and corporate might, it could not have come at a worse time. In an idyllic lakeside corner of Lausanne, the IOC president, Jacques Rogge, could afford a degree of quiet satisfaction as he sat opposite me last week and reflected on the upcoming London Games. There was no last-minute panic to finish the venues, no international outcry over human rights. Rogge, who will stand down next year after 12 years in the IOC's top job, had hoped to leave behind an organisation in rude financial health and with a restored reputation for probity and transparency. As fires raged at Fifa, the IOC was last year able to bask in the fact that in comparison it looked like a model international governing body. The calm hand on the tiller of the Belgian former Olympic sailor, elected in 2001 in the wake of the Salt Lake City bribery scandal that threatened to fatally undermine its image, had made it appear a beacon of good practice next to Sepp Blatter's collapsing Fifa House. The speed with which the IOC reacted to the Sunday Times allegations reflects the extent to which they threaten to sully that good name. The claims may only involve "thousands" of tickets among 8.8m but, as ever, perception is everything. At a general assembly of the Association of National Olympic Committees in Acapulco in October 2010, the Locog chairman, Lord Coe, acknowledged the threat when he told the gathering that tough action would be taken against anyone who broke the rules regarding distribution of the 1.1m tickets reserved for overseas buyers and gently reminded them of the enquiring nature of the British media. Yet those rules are notoriously difficult to enforce and widespread suspicions remained, only exacerbated by the recent resignation of the general secretary of the Ukrainian Olympic Committee when he was caught by a similar BBC sting. The IOC was keen in its hastily released statement to underline that the NOCs involved were "autonomous". The same goes for the international federations of Olympic sports that from time to time are similarly involved in scandal. And London organisers can justifiably point to having done more to combat touting than any previous Games – including specific warnings to overseas Olympic committees and an effort to limit tickets based on how they are likely to sell and performance pedigree. They also stressed that none of the tickets involved were among the 6.6m allocated to the British public. However, those distinctions mean little to the general public. Many of those who have struggled to secure tickets for the biggest events and already feel ill disposed towards what they see as preferential treatment for sponsors and blazers will see this as yet more evidence for the prosecution. The timing is less than ideal for London organisers, just as they were hoping to capitalise on the groundswell of goodwill created across the country by the torch relay and the looming excitement of the sporting spectacle. They hoped that growing buzz would translate into an acceleration in sales for almost 2m remaining tickets for football and high-priced options for less popular sports and drown out complaints over sponsors, Games lanes and selection controversies. There will be lessons to be learned – above and beyond a reminder to those on the take that they might learn to avoid tempting offers from those claiming to represent middle eastern money men. The way the IOC allocates and distributes tickets must surely change. One of the strengths of the IOC's structure is that the executive is not beholden to national associations in the same way as Fifa's is. A centralised ticketing system that bequeaths less power to national fiefdoms may be one option. However it is done, market forces mean it will never be possible to eradicate the black market entirely – but it should be possible to ensure it's not fuelled by those inside the tent. In the meantime, the immediate reaction of the IOC and Locog to this latest controversy will do much to inform the ongoing battle for the hearts and minds of the public attitude to the Olympic Games – in London, in the UK and beyond.

    ‘We don’t mess about, a kidney is £20,000’

    An investigation has exposed the organised criminals who secretly trade organs for British transplant patients for as little as £4,500 (Dh25,500). The gangs, operating in eastern Europe and the Indian subcontinent, prey on the desperation of patients requiring organs and the poverty of donors who often earn less than £1,000 from the exploitative deals. The so-called organ brokers have developed a network of corrupt officials who provide fake documentation to show that donors are related to the recipients, a legal requirement in Britain and several other countries. They have also recruited corrupt doctors who conduct medical tests and help arrange transplant operations in the donors’ homelands. Police are investigating the first case of people-trafficking for organs in Britain after a woman was brought to the country last month by an eastern European gang that planned to sell her kidney. Article continues below However, the international trade in human organs has been flourishing for several years. Last month, a report by the World Health Organisation estimated that 10,000 black-market transplant operations take place each year. The illicit trade begins with men such as Tsvetan. He and several other touts were found loitering outside a blood transfusion centre in Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria, as they offered poor and homeless people £16 for a unit of their blood. The blood is resold for as much as 10 times that sum. Far more lucrative, however, is the buying and selling of organs — a point not lost on Tsvetan as he listened to an undercover reporter detail how a female relative in London required a kidney. Tsvetan asked for the woman’s blood type and on being told she was A positive replied: “We have that available. I have a man who has exactly that blood type. We have his full medical reports. When you see that everything is right then we can talk about money and the guy will go with you to London.” Hours later, he summoned the reporter to a cafe where he handed over a bundle including blood reports, ultrasound scans and X-rays. Pointing to one, he said: “Look, he is A positive, everything is in order. He has no diseases — HIV, hepatitis, everything is negative. We were going to sell his kidney to another patient but the guy died before the transplant could take place. You are lucky. I am in charge of him and I can promise you that he will go to London and let you have his kidney.” Two days later, Tsvetan, his boss Traicho and the donor, Minko Asenov, met the reporter at another cafe. Traicho said: “You can take him to the doctor to check that he is still healthy and his blood group is fine. We will make the appointment tomorrow with the doctor who is our friend, he works at the top hospital. “He knows everything that we do. The doctor is in the kidney unit and knows that this guy will be selling his kidney. He can do all the tests.” Asenov, a retired factory worker and father of three from Vratsa, a town in eastern Bulgaria, supplements his benefit payments by salvaging scraps from dustbins to sell. “I have sold my blood more than 20 times. We are poor people and this is a way to make good money,” he explained. Traicho said Asenov would be escorted to Britain, adding: “We have sent someone to London before for a transplant. There were no problems.” He quoted a price of €20,000 for Asenov’s kidney. Organ transplants in England and Wales are regulated by the Human Tissue Act 2004, which prohibits the selling of organs. To combat trafficking, doctors must follow strict rules requiring them to satisfy themselves that a donor is not being paid or coerced. Aware of such strict rules, the gangs have a network of officials who provide bogus papers showing a donor is related to the recipient. It took Traicho and Tsvetan less than an hour to bribe a council official to sign and stamp a document falsely showing Asenov was the father-in-law of the woman awaiting a kidney in London. In Bulgaria, the 2004 organ transplant act makes it an offence to provide an organ to anyone who is not related to the donor by blood or marriage. Fines of up to £204,000 can be imposed. Kiro, in his fifties, runs a rival organ trafficking gang in Sofia. He warned the reporter who had approached him seeking to buy a kidney: “We are serious people. We don’t mess around. The price is £20,000.” The deal struck, factory worker Dimitar Doychenov was ushered to the table. “I’m doing this for my son who is 18 months old,” he said. “I’m 30 so I should recover fast.” His confidence is misplaced. Donors, particularly those undergoing surgery in less developed countries, face poor medical care or are ripped off. Recipients operated on abroad are also in peril. In 2002, a study at Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth hospital found 29 NHS patients nationwide had bought kidneys overseas. In more than half the cases, the kidney had subsequently failed. According to Kidney Research UK, almost 7,000 Britons are awaiting a transplant yet fewer than 1,700 kidneys become available each year — tempting some to look overseas. Anthony Nicholls, consultant physician and nephrologist at the Royal Devon and Exeter hospital, said: “A patient of mine went to China to get a kidney which he paid for and got a wound infection. Medical and surgical care in foreign hospitals does not often match our high standards.” The potential risks have failed to dissuade men such as Sanjay Srivastava, a 38-year-old office assistant recruited as a donor by a gang operated by Hemchand Kallu, a private ambulance fleet owner in Delhi. At a meeting with an undercover reporter in the city’s Connaught Place, Kallu acknowledged the trade was illegal but said: “I have somebody who is ready to donate. He is in need of money and will sign any papers. Donors are not a problem. The kidney will cost you between Rs400,000 and 500,000 [£4,500-5,700].” Later, Srivastava explained: “The money will help me to get my sister married.” In case he was not a match, Kallu arranged for the reporter to meet another potential donor — a 30-year-old divorced mother of three called Seema Khan. She said: “I just want to give my children a better life.” Doctors are also involved. In Delhi, SK Gupta, a GP recommended by Kallu, suggested the transplant be carried out in India where he estimated it would cost £15,000. He claimed to have previously helped other British transplant patients. Explaining how paperwork falsely stating a relationship between donor and recipient would be required, he said: “Paperwork will cost you an additional Rs100,000. All that will be sorted. What happens in the office? Everybody gets a cut. That’s how it’s done.” When confronted by phone, Gupta hung up. Those wishing to donate organs for transplant in India must prove they are related to the recipient or, if the donation is altruistic, prove no payment is being made. The rules are widely flouted. Ashok Chand, deputy commissioner of police in Delhi, said: “We take crimes like this very seriously.” Bulgaria’s interior ministry said it would investigate any allegations of organ trafficking.

    Benefits for striking low-paid workers to be axed

    Low-paid workers who take strike action will no longer have their wages topped up by the state, ministers say. Workers on up to £13,000 a year can currently claim working tax credits to top up their income even when they take part in industrial action. But from next year there will be no increase in benefits if a worker's income drops due to strike action. The change is part of the new Universal Credit, which is replacing the benefit system with a single payment. Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith says the fact that the current benefit system compensates workers and tops up their income when they go on strike is "unfair and creates perverse incentives".

    Saturday, 16 June 2012

    BBC Rogue Traders' Dan Penteado has handed himself into police over allegations of benefit fraud.

    BBC Rogue Traders' presenter Dan Penteado charged with benefit fraud

    A warrant has been issued for Dan Penteado's arrest Photo: BBC

    Penteado, who chases down bogus workmen with presenter Matt Allwright on the Rogue Traders part of the show, is accused of pocketing more than £24,000 of government payouts he wasn't entitled to while he worked for the BBC.

    Dorset police applied for an arrest warrant at Bournemouth Magistrates' Court earlier this week after Penteado, 40, failed to respond to letters of enquiry sent to him by Bournemouth Borough Council.

    He was sent a court summons to appear before Bournemouth Magistrates' Court on Wednesday to answer several charges of fraud.

    But he failed to show up and a warrant was issued for his arrest. Yesterday Dorset police today confirmed they were making enquiries to trace Penteado so they could arrest him.

    But last night Penteado handed himself into the police and insisted it had been a 'misunderstanding.'

    Friday, 15 June 2012

    Man jailed for role in drug smuggling gang

    A member of a gang which tried to smuggle £2m worth of cocaine into the UK hidden in a tarmac truck is behind bars after fleeing the country eight years ago. Richard Wright, 51, was jailed for nine years at Manchester crown court on Thursday for his involvement in the attempted smuggling ring, a spokesman for HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) said. Wright, of Chislehurst, Kent, pleaded guilty last month to conspiracy to import class A drugs through Zeebrugge, Belgium, after he was arrested by HMRC officers in November last year. The spokesman said while on the run Wright used several aliases and continued to trade in drugs and firearms. He was arrested by police in Amsterdam in September 2007 and charged with separate offences relating to the seizure of six firearms and 86lb (39kg) of cocaine concealed in a car door after a Dutch police surveillance operation. Wright was identified from UK fingerprints and photographic records, the spokesman added. Wright was jailed for six and half years in 2008, and after serving his sentence in a Dutch jail he was arrested by HMRC officers under the European arrest warrant for offences under operation Giftwrapped. He was extradited back to the UK last year. The HMRC spokesman said: "Under operation Giftwrapped seven other gang members were jailed in 2006 following the seizure of 29kg (64lb) of cocaine at Hull Docks. The drugs were hidden in a deep concealment underneath solidified bitumen, within one of two pods on the rear of a tarmac truck. The drugs were believed to be destined for organised crime gangs in Derbyshire and London." Mike O'Grady, HMRC's assistant director of criminal investigation, said: "Wright fled the UK when circumstances got difficult and he saw we had arrested other gang members associated with the smuggling attempt. "It became clear that he had continued his illegal activities in the Netherlands in the intervening period when he was arrested by our partners there for similar drug smuggling offences. Combining our intelligence and expertise for both smuggling cases has protected UK citizens and wider European communities from this habitual organised criminal."

    Three arrests in corrupt payments investigation

    Three people, including a journalist from The Sun and a former prison officer, were arrested yesterday by officers investigating alleged corrupt payments to public officials. The three were held following a series of 6am raids by Scotland Yard detectives as a result of information handed over by News Corp's standards committee. A serving police superintendent from the City of London force was also arrested yesterday in a separate operation by the police watchdog for the alleged passing of unauthorised information to a journalist but there were no allegations that money changed hands. He was arrested as a result of information passed by officers on Operation Elveden who are investigating illegal payments to public officials. It is understood that the man was arrested by the Independent Police Complaints Commission. The 31-year-old journalist was arrested at his Croydon home on suspicion of conspiracy to corrupt and suspicion of conspiracy to cause misconduct in a public office. The former prison officer, 40, and a woman, 37, were both arrested at their home addresses in Corby, Northamptonshire.

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(1) Detectives looking into the death are expected to examine at least one threatening message placed on website Bebo. (1) Dior suspends John Galliano after arrest for street abuse (1) Diplomatic investigation is under way after former world boxing featherweight champion Scott Harrison’s bid to be transferred from a Spanish jail to Barlinnie Prison in Glasgow was halted. (1) Dozens arrested after police anti-drugs raids across Sussex (1) Dozens arrested in drug and gang operation in Sheffield (1) Dr Colin Howell (1) Drug gang king pin jailed over 22 tonnes of cocaine and cannabis (1) Drug gangs in England exporting gun culture to Wales (1) Drug gangs target cruise ships (1) Drug-dealer jailed for Redhill flat murder (1) Drug-smuggling former prison officer loses appeal against sentence (1) Drugs seized and 15 arrests in Merseyside Police raids (1) Drugs worth £500 (1) Dundee (1) Durham city undercover cop (1) East Dulwich bus murder victim 'stabbed 24 times' (1) East Kilbride (1) EastEnders actor bragged on Celebrity Mastermind about committing crime (1) Eddie Boyd will never walk again after the bungled gangland hit in his home (1) Eddie Lyons has been given his first ever court sentence (1) Edward Pybis (1) Eight bales of the drug were thrown overboard (1) Eighth arrest in Limerick murder inquiry (1) Elite crime unit's database of one million suspects 'breaks the law' (1) Elizabeth Veysey went into the jail with cannabis resin hidden under her skirt (1) Emmanuel Ganpot (1) EuroMillions winners 'terrified of being kidnapped' (1) Ex-United man Wallwork arrested (1) Ex-club owner Gary Robb finally admits guilt: (1) Ex-soldier found guilty of trying to murder wife with grenade (1) Ex-undercover Pc Mark Kennedy 'living in fear': (1) Expenses MPs must face trial (1) Eynsham (1) Farmers are claiming that the British and Americans are responsible for the outbreak of the poppy plague (1) Farmhouse killer Jeremy Bamber faces dying in prison (1) Fazakerley murder victim Joey Cummins survived previous attempt on life in street shotgun attack (1) Fife (1) Finchley (1) Five arrested in Leicester over 'violent' gem raids (1) Five guilty of Lincoln man's killing (1) Five held over Michaela McAreavey murder denied bail (1) Flint Mountain. (1) Ford prison riot adds to chequered history (1) Forfar man Christopher McIntosh jailed over heroin trafficking (1) Four Sussex men suspected of attempted murder after pub brawl (1) Four arrested as police raid wedding ceremony (1) Four in court over teenage footballer's murder (1) Four men arrested on suspicion of murder (1) Four men jailed over Manchester street stabbing murder (1) France (1) Fraud prevention detectives have today (1) Gallaghers' dad gets cop warning (1) Galo Bemudez (1) Gang caught loading van with 100kgs of heroin (1) Gang shootings and fights ‘commonplace’ (1) Gang war results in one death and five injured on the streets of Folkestone (1) Gangs of muggers stole thousands from student protesters (1) Gardai arrest 45 people over drug trafficking (1) Gardaí continue to quiz three over weapons (1) Garry Waring (1) Gipsy Hill murder: Six jailed for shooting 'peacemaker' (1) Girl (1) Gorleston (1) Great Yarmouth (1) Gun gangs targeted in police swoops (1) Gunman jailed for attempted murder in Bolton (1) Gunmen Christopher Bailiff (1) Gypsy gangs train five-year-olds to pickpocket on the streets of Britain (1) Harold Landry murder trial: (1) Hate crime figures paint a grim portrait of life in Britain (1) Hertfordshire Constabulary's ANPR Intercept Team stopped a vehicle travelling on the M11 near Bishop's Stortford (1) Holidaymakers flee Tunisia violence: (1) Honeymoon bride Anni Dewani's text 6 days before murder (1) Honour kill pair jailed (1) Ian Bowrem (1) Ian Griffin (1) Inside the Violent World of Britain’s Street Gangs (1) Jail for truckers in £2.3m drugs and gun smuggling gang (1) Jail increase for £53m Securitas raid matermind (1) Jail threat to Cumbrian gang-fight man (1) James 'Pancake' Taylor (1) Jamie Daniel is thought to be worth £10million (1) Jamie ‘The Iceman’ Stevenson in fight over stress files (1) Jeremy_Bamber (1) Jilted teenager who stabbed Asha Muneer to death facing life in jail (1) Jo Yeates Murder Accused Remanded (1) Jo Yeates murder inquiry: Arrested man still held (1) Jo Yeates murder: Hunt is like a jigsaw with pieces missing (1) Jo Yeates murder: New evidence uncovered (1) Jo Yeates: Accused Back In Court (1) Joanna Brown's husband charged with her murder (1) Joanna Yeates 'may have been strangled with own sock' (1) Joanna Yeates murder suspect Vincent Tabak 'had split with girlfriend (1) Joanna Yeates murder: Mother wants to play Jo in Crimewatch reconstruction | (1) Joanna Yeates murder: Similarities to unsolved murder of Glenis Carruthers in 1974 | Mail Online (1) Joseph Buckley (1) Just one criminal jailed for every 96 crimes (1) KERRY KATONA has been left devastated after her home was raided by thieves (1) Khuram Antonio Khan Garcia (1) Kitted out in body armour (1) Lancashire (1) Lancaster (1) Lance Lewis (1) Latvian man (1) Laurence Henry Shaw (1) Lawrence Taylor Co Ltd are believed to have cold-called investors (1) Layabout son killed parents over hangover row - (1) Lee Wallace (1) Leyland (1) Limerick double murder investigated (1) Lincoln arrests edge police closer to cracking drug syndicate (1) Liquidators to the Weavering Macro Fixed Income hedge fund were appointed in March (1) Liverpool drivers could hold key to solving Eddie Pybis murder (1) Liverpool teenager charged with stabbing murder (1) London fears new wave of gang deaths (1) Lostock Hall (1) Madeleine McCann is in America Private investigator claims (1) Magdalena Januszeska murder suspect arrested in Malton (1) Maidenhead arson murderer jailed for life (1) Man arrested over Bradford prostitute murders (1) Man arrested over murder of exiled Pakistani politician (1) Man bailed over "murder in the mist" killing of Liverpool FC fan Joey Cummins (1) Man released in Louth murder investigation (1) Man shot dead in Liverpool street (1) Mark Woodward (1) Martin Day (1) Matthew Clement (1) Mesut Karakas was under investigation for alleged corruption when he was secretly recorded discussing the kidnap and plot lines from the hit US TV series (1) Michael Caine puts Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan to shame (1) Michaela McAreavey murder accused held in Mauritius Alcatraz (1) Millionaire jailed for ex-wife murder bid (1) Miss Gentle (1) Missing Joanna Yeates: Similarities to Melanie murder are frightening (1) More arrests over Cheltenham iPhone murder (1) More than one murder a week is committed by a thug on bail (1) Murder case extradition ruling due (1) Murder investigation launched as post-mortem reveals Joanna Yeates was strangled (1) Murder probe after street stabbing (1) Mzoli's is in a dangerous area at night (1) NDLEA arrests first drug trafficker in 2011 (1) NRI man sentenced to life for murdering his wife (1) Naked Charles Bronson covered himself in butter (1) Naming of journalists in hacking scandal ordered (1) Napoli gangs attack Liverpool fans (1) New Asian sex slave gang arrests (1) New witness 'saw killers leave murder room' (1) Newly-wed cleared of murder after five months marriage (1) Newlywed Briton's wife killed after armed robbers hijack taxi in South Africa (1) Nightingale Road in Eston and West Dyke Road in Redcar (1) Nikitta Grender murder: Man (1) Nine arrests in York drug raids (1) Norfolk (1) Norwich area (1) Now Ian Huntley throat-slitter is held over prison murder of notorious child sex killer (1) One brother acquitted of Co Laois murder (1) Organised Crime Group sentenced to 39 years (1) POLICE have arrested a man in connection with the killing of Robertsbridge dad Julian Gardner (1) PSNI officer link to Dungannon murder case (1) Pat Finucane murder probe moves steps closer (1) Pentney (1) Pet crematorium owner Emma Bent pocketed cash and dumped pets in ditches (1) Plaistow (1) Police 'determined' to catch killer of Liverpool man (1) Police arrest 22 in Essex and east London drugs raids (1) Police arrest 44 in Gwent day of action (1) Police chief Jim Trotman 'set fire to car and tried to blame lover's husband' (1) Police crime scene officer killed in horror crash (1) Police dismiss link between Bannatyne’s shooting and ‘gangland’ crime (1) Police force plans to axe community officers (1) Police have identified 17 organised crime gangs (1) Police investigate attempted murder after car hits man (1) Police probe as cousin of gangster Stewart 'Speccy' Boyd found dead on woodland path (1) Police searching for the body of Mrs Brown last night sealed off part of Windsor Great Park as her husband was charged with her murder (1) Police shoot gunman dead after West Yorkshire siege (1) Police suspect murder after youth hit by bus (1) Police swoop in Haydock in 'organised crime' crackdown (1) Police want to trace a taxi driver (1) Police want to trace brothers over Salford stabbing (1) Portuguese newspaper Correio da Manha claimed Mr Ross was tortured for 13 days before escaping from his captors in the village of Boliqueime (1) Prison Officers' Association said the violence started after staff tried to breathalyse prisoners. (1) Probe into crash link to Musselbrugh pub manager murder (1) Professor Green (1) Proportionately more criminals in Britain are sentenced for violent and sexual offences than in most other European countries. (1) RAF servicemen jailed for cigarette smuggling scam (1) Racist gang's glass attack raises fears of pub owners (1) Reggie (1) Robert Nairac trial views TV interview with murder accused (1) Royal car attack: Duchess of Cornwall laughs off student protest fees scare (1) SIX MEMBERS of a south London gang have been found guilty of the murder of 22-year-old Ezra Mills. (1) SOCA advises cruise agencies and cruise lines how to recognize signs that passengers might be inclined to smuggle drugs or other contraband (1) Sainsbury's techie jailed for loyalty card scam (1) Sally McGrath death: Arrest number two (1) Scotland pressured to free Megrahi (1) Scotland-based crime gang suspected of trafficking women to work as prostitutes in Belfast was arrested this month (1) Scots drugs gang jailed (1) Scots legal upheaval as 3500 convicts win new appeals (1) Scottish criminals 'only jailed after 40 convictions' (1) Seven arrested over drugs (1) Seven men have been arrested after detectives from the PSNI Organised Crime Branch seized £500 (1) Sex crimes up as 14 (1) Sex swap hip hop diva wanted over Claudia Aderotimi 'butt boost' death (1) Shrien (1) Shrien Dewani 'right to be worried' about handling of Anni Dewani murder case (1) Shrien Dewani Mastermind To Murder Or Paralysed Victim (1) Shrien Dewani says he and his wife (1) Shropshire man accused of triple murder appears in court (1) Sinn Fein (1) Sinn Fein leaders 'knew about bank raid' (1) Six arrests following drug raids in Glossop (1) South Africa honeymoon murder (1) South Africa honeymoon murder accused denied bail (1) South African honeymoon murder claim 'is ludicrous' (1) South African police are on the verge of revealing the motive behind the murder of Anni Dewani (1) South Norwood builder pleads guilty to smuggling cannabis (1) Spanish National Police have intercepted a British registered yacht on the high seas off the Portuguese coast (1) Staff from Browne Mackenzie (1) Stella English is a gangster's moll with a troubled past (1) Steven Purcell quizzed by cops on return (1) Student left dying in street after being stabbed by muggers (1) Suffolk (1) Suitcase death spy was not gay (1) Suspect in murder of British woman to publish writings from fugitive days (1) Swindon; and Anthony Belcher (1) Swindon; received seven years. (1) Teacher in murder quiz was having affair with sex shop girl (1) Teenage robbery gang jailed (1) Teenager stabbed to death in south London (1) Ten Ghanaians on board an Accra-New York flight of Delta Airlines (1) The Base pub in Ashington (1) The Elland Mad Dogs and the Lee Mount Loonies (1) The arrests were related to recent 'distributed denial of service' (DDoS) attacks by an online group calling themselves Anonymous (1) The detective leading a murder investigation after a man was found shot dead in a disused Smethwick factory today refused to rule out a “gangland killing”. (1) The faces of the 10 latest suspected criminals hiding from police on the "Costa del Crime" have been published (1) Three arrested over iPhone murder: (1) Three arrests after ‘massive disturbance’ in Malton (1) Three arrests and £60 (1) Three arrests over west Belfast pipe bombings (1) Tom Murphy is not a criminal. He’s a good republican (1) Travelodge in Kingston Raid on hotel results in five arrests (1) Trial of British climate protesters collapses (1) Trio in court over honeymoon murder (1) Tuesday 25 January (1) Twenty arrests over suspected £50m beer and wine fraud (1) Two Scots wanted in connection with unsolved murders are believed to be hiding out in Spain. (1) Two Sussex men and one from Surrey face extradition to Spain after a boat with £8m of cannabis destined for the UK was stopped between Morocco and Spain. (1) Two arrested in Wisbech park murder investigation (1) Two arrests over 'firearm threat' in Cumbria: (1) Two charged with Peckham murder of Sylvester Akapalara: (1) Two charges over £6million Torbay cocaine haul (1) Two gangs of men who fought a pitched battle with baseball bats (1) Two held in Galway drugs gang sting: (1) Two men accused of helping gunman Raoul Moat will face charges of attempting to murder David Rathband (1) Two men are due to appear in court charged with murdering a 55-year-old man in Belfast. (1) Two men arrested in Blackburn murder inquiry (1) Two men arrested over £1.5m cocaine seizure (1) Two men seriously injured during Samurai sword attack (1) Two men were jailed for life after an illegal immigrant was murdered and dumped in a canal following a drugs feud (1) Two more men arrested over Boxing Day gang fight (1) Two slabs of cocaine were found in a false compartment in her suitcase (1) Two teenagers who killed a man in Cheshire in a dispute over drugs have been detained for five years. (1) Two_men_on_motorbike_sought_for_murder (1) UK becomes 'cocaine capital of the western world' (1) United fans await sentence over 'Wild West saloon brawl' (1) VIOLENCE erupted in Burnley town centre on Monday afternoon when two gangs of men confronted each other with baseball bats. (1) Vince Richard Hubbard (1) Vincent Tabak charged with Joanna Yeates murder (1) WALTHAM FOREST: 367 knife crimes in past year (1) Warning over anti-virus cold calls to UK internet users (1) Wartime ‘trophy gun’ fired in gang murder of student (1) Was Browns phone hacked as well? Pressure mounts to re-open Scotland Yard enquiry (1) Wayne Bassnett shot in the head by assassin in Hale (1) Wealthy BA pilot to stand trial for 'murder of estranged wife' (1) Wednesday will see the anniversary of the killing that ended Lennon's iconoclastic career (1) West Derby (1) Whistleblowing MP shops 6 more colleagues to police over expenses fraud | (1) Widnes man shot dead in Pepper Street near Town Lane in Hale Village (1) Widowed British honeymooner Shrien Dewani will be arrested and charged with murder of his wife Anni if he returns to South Africa (1) Wilbert Dyce (1) Williams had been logging onto bondage Web sites and had visited a drag cabaret in the British capital four days before his death. (1) Woman accused of tube murder was undergoing sex change (1) Woman charged with murder of transvestite (1) Woman stands trial for double murder to which ex-lover confessed (1) Woman's body found washed up in Kent bay (1) Women jailed over bodysuit drug smuggling bid (1) Y Waen (1) Yorkshire 'car key burglary' gang locked up (1) Youth killed as Afghan groups clash (1) Zac Olumegbon (1) a British citizen (1) a class-A drug (1) a hammer and pickaxe handle in a car park (1) admitted carrying out the raid at Lostwithiel on 13 August. (1) admitted theft and fraud by false representation. (1) after he arrived at the airport on Sunday night (1) aged 32 from John Mace Road (1) alarm and distress' to people living nearby (1) and Angel Campoverde (1) and Ivan Marshall (1) and James MacPherson (1) and Jayson Hassan (1) and Rackheath (1) and Scott Taylor (1) and found to be carrying 1.515 tons of cocaine. (1) and on Christmas shoppers (1) and uses cash instead of credit cards (1) arrested over knifed pregnant teenager (1) average amount stolen equated to £1 (1) blasted 11 shots at helpless Eddie Boyd - hitting him five times - as his young daughter screamed in terror. (1) but the Navy boat crews recovered two (1) cannabis and weapons were seized by police who raided 25 houses and apartments. (1) central Clydebank (1) central London (1) charged with murder in Great Yarmouth: (1) checks into hotels under false names (1) corrupt police officer helped his drug lord brother by hiding guns and threatening witnesses (1) death of Julian Gardner (1) discovered a world where automatic pistols (1) drag cabaret (1) drugs squad found 13 mature and 35 immature plants (1) dundee-united-stars-david-goodwillie-scott-allan-arrested-after-4am-street-brawl (1) dyes his hair (1) family friendship leads to second murder investigation (1) five Italian gangsters - known locally as the Camorra - are seen sweeping into a restaurant while families are eating before marching up to a corner table where their targets are sitting. (1) fled a club soaked in blood and clutching a 6in wound (1) flew the plane but says he did not know drugs were on board. (1) former girlfriend of gunman Raoul Moat has told a court of the moment the killer shot dead her new boyfriend then turned his shotgun on her (1) found stabbed to death (1) four (1) from Ballygonney Road West In Moneymore were refused bail. (1) from Brixton Hill (1) from Deramore Gardens in Belfast and Warren Martin (1) from Fulham (1) from Moss Lane (1) from Plymouth (1) from Rushey Hey (1) from Tottenham (1) gang drugs war in Greater Manchester. (1) gangland crime in Limerick (1) gangs have shaped the streets and changed the nature of UK crime (1) grieving father of a student who was raped and murdered pleaded with her suspected killer to give himself up (1) had caused 'a great deal of harassment (1) has been charged with importing a class B drug. (1) has made a new and lengthy statement to police (1) have been accused of killing Mr Yepez (1) he claimed he was one of the main players in north London and could get hold of better weapons than Scotland Yard (1) heroin worth nearly £2 million was seized in a single drugs bust in the Scottish capital (1) highest rates of teenage alcohol-related injuries in Europe (1) highlight London's crime rate and youth alcohol problems (1) his brother Ronnie and notorious English serial killer Graham Young escaping from prison. (1) imprisonment of a woman in Wales for withdrawing rape allegations against her husband is a nightmarish addition to the discrimination awaiting women and girls who seek justice (1) in January. (1) in his mid-40s (1) including some in Rochdale (1) is due to appear at South Western Magistrates' Court in Battersea this morning (1) is the first Western on trial in an Iraqi court since a 2009 U.S.-Iraqi security agreement lifted immunity for foreign contractors. (1) jail terms totalling more than 63 years to William Byrne and 14 crooks linked to his gang. (1) just months (1) known locally as Eddie (1) made more than £1m from crime. He must pay £100 (1) major rural crime wave could break out across Wales (1) man has been arrested on suspicion of murdering a man who was shot dead in south Manchester. (1) man has been shot dead by an off-duty police officer during a suspected robbery at a petrol station. (1) man in his 20s has been arrested over the murder of a champion kickboxer in Dundalk (1) moved to Thailand in 2006 to study the deadly Muay Thai fighting style (1) murdering honeymooner Anni Dewani in Cape Town (1) night-time signalling between vessels at sea and people on the shore (1) of Ansty Road (1) of Clapham (1) of Common Road (1) of Forest Gate (1) of Haig Avenue (1) of Hapton (1) of Looe (1) of Mount Avenue (1) of Oxford Road (1) of Pennyvoss Road (1) of Queen Street (1) of School Lane (1) often borrowed from friends (1) on 3 January when he was shot in the chest. (1) prison officer has been arrested after attempting to smuggle drugs into Mountjoy prison today. (1) seized 180 kilograms of ketamine in Felixstowe (1) seized a haul of scam post in a bid to tackle the UK-wide fraudulent mail blight. (1) seven men and five women found Hodgson guilty of murder at Teesside Crown Court. (1) sleeps on sofas and floors (1) south Kilmarnock and Dalkeith in Midlothian (1) stabbed both his parents to death after his mother called him a “f------ idiot” for lying in bed all morning with a hangover. (1) submachine guns and even hand grenades were being sold for as little as £50 (1) taxi firm has been denied an operator’s licence following police claims of criminal links (1) teenager was killed and another injured when two balaclava-wearing gunmen opened fire on a group of four young friends (1) the Gilnow Road gang (1) the eldest son of Viscount Trenchard (1) the famous fashion designer recently committed suicide by intake of a mixture of the cocaine (1) three dogs performing searches on vehicles entering the 14 jails across the Republic. (1) using guns in deadly drug disputes (1) was ambushed by four young men at the gates of Park Campus School in nearby West Norwood. (1) was arrested at Bali Ngurah Rai International Airport (1) was arrested by UK Border Agency officers in Coquelles (1) was blasted at least three times outside a relative’s home in South Cantril Avenue (1) was convicted in 2003 of hiring two “mules” to carry cocaine (1) was given three life sentences earlier this month. (1) was given three years and nine months behind bars after police found £1 million from the heist in the boot of his car. (1) was released after several hours of questioning over the shooting of Nicky Ayers (1) was shot at close range at least three times outside his daughter’s home in South Cantril Avenue (1) was shot dead in Tillingbourne Gardens (1) was sitting in a silver Volvo on Utting Avenue (1) were ambushed as they were driven through the vast shantytown of Gugulethu in South Africa (1) were among 13 men from around the country involved in the criminal group. (1) were found in 24 of the 33 pubs in and around Alnwick (1) were gunned down outside Strang House (1) were not legally married. (1) were part of a gang that brought in an estimated 16 tonnes of the drug. (1) which is in liquidation (1) who 'fired shots in party battle' arrested for attempted murder (1) who attended the hearing (1) who has already been sentenced to life imprisonment for the two killings (1) who reached No 3 in April with I Need You Tonight (1) whose ring nickname was Pitbull (1) wife of BA pilot vanishes from £3million B;B mansion (1) will be extradited over the murder of Kinga Legg (1) you can never move on with your life.'" (1) young boy has been shot dead. (1) £100m cocaine gang sentenced to 200 years in prison (1) £48k seized from Amsterdam passenger (1) £6m of drugs seized from Lancashire's streets (1) ‘Sick’ Dewani’s bail strategy (1) “Fragile” Shrien Dewani leaves hospital (1)

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