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Grenfell Tower fire: ‘We are truly sorry we couldn’t save everyone’s life that night’

London Fire Brigade chief Dany Cotton has welcomed a critical report on the Grenfell tower fire, but said that the building “failed spectacularly”.

Inquiry chairman Sir Martin Moore-Bick said the absence of a plan to evacuate the tower was a “major omission” by the LFB and more lives could have been saved had the “stay-put” policy been abandoned sooner.

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Josh Hanson murder: Britain’s ‘most wanted’ man jailed for life

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Media captionDet Ch Insp Noel McHugh explains how he managed to track Shane O’Brien

A killer once dubbed one of Britain’s most wanted fugitives has been jailed for at least 26 years.

Shane O’Brien, 31, evaded police for three-and-a-half years after he slashed Josh Hanson’s neck in Hillingdon, west London, on 11 October 2015.

He fled the UK, changed his appearance and moved around Europe before his extradition from Romania in April.

O’Brien, who jurors found guilty of murder last month, was given a life sentence at the Old Bailey.

CCTV released during the trial showed 21-year-old Mr Hanson clutching his neck and stumbling as blood poured out of a 37cm (14.5in) wound.

‘Abrupt, vicious, violent’

After the killing, jurors heard, O’Brien was seen “calmly” walking out of the bar.

He made his way to Ashford, Kent, where a contact had chartered a private four-seater plane to take him to the Netherlands.

The killer grew a beard and long hair and changed his tattoos as he travelled through countries including Germany, Belgium and the Czech Republic, the court was told.

In 2017, the father-of-two was arrested over a dispute in a Prague nightclub but gave police a false name and fled while on bail.

The trial heard the 31-year-old was added to Europol and Interpol’s most wanted lists but still managed to lay low.

However, he was eventually caught by Romanian authorities after he contacted Scotland Yard to arrange a possible meeting, the jury heard.

Sentencing the father-of-two, Judge Nigel Lickley QC called it “a grotesque, violent and totally unnecessary attack on an innocent man”.

“The reason why you behaved in such a way may never be fully explained. You, however, know the reason,” he said.

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Metropolitan Police

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Josh Hanson was pronounced dead at the RE bar in Hillingdon

In a victim impact statement, Mr Hanson’s mother Tracey described her son as being “considerate, kind and generous”.

“He was taken from us in the most horrific way possible – suddenly, abruptly, viciously and violently,” she said.

The victim’s sister, Brooke, said the 21-year-old “was not just my brother, he was my best friend”, and described his “infectious smile” and “magical presence”.

She told the court she had suffered from anxiety and post-traumatic stress since the killing and found herself always wondering if she could have protected him from the “evil” that took him away.

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EPA

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The 31-year-old was eventually detained by authorities in Romania

During the trial, O’Brien had claimed he felt threatened by Mr Hanson’s “very aggressive body language” and had only meant to scare his victim.

There were angry shouts of “coward” from the public gallery as he was led away from the dock.

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Baptista Adjei stabbing: Second murder charge over Stratford killing

Baptista Adjei

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Met Police

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Baptista Adjei lived in North Woolwich but was stabbed to death near the Stratford Shopping Centre

A 15-year-old has been charged with conspiring to murder a schoolboy who was stabbed to death in the street.

Baptista Adjei, also 15, from North Woolwich, was attacked on Stratford Broadway, east London, on 10 October.

Police have charged another 15-year-old boy with murder, GBH and two counts of possessing an offensive weapon.

The latest suspect will appear at Stratford Youth Court later, Scotland Yard said.

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Finsbury Park flood: Families stay in temporary housing

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Media captionFinsbury Park flooding

Some 50 households had to stay in emergency accommodation overnight after a burst water main flooded homes in north London.

About 250 properties including two schools were affected after a 36-inch (91cm) water pipe fractured in Finsbury Park before 08:00 BST on Tuesday.

One man was rescued from a basement while others had to be led to safety.

Thames Water said a temporary fix had been put in place and all flood water had been pumped away.

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Parkwood Primary school has reopened after being shut as a result of the flood

The water main burst at the junction of Queens Drive and Princess Crescent causing an area measuring about 600m x 200m (1,900ft x 650ft) to be flooded to a depth of about 1m (3ft).

About 12 fire engines and 80 firefighters were deployed to help rescue people and pump water away, while postcode areas N1, N4, N5, N7 and N19 were left with no water or low water pressure.

Tanja Schnitzer, who lives in a basement flat on Queens Drive, said rooms in the property had filled up with water “within half an hour from floor to ceiling”.

“It’s devastating. We’ve pretty much lost everything,” she said.

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Residents of a basement flat escaped with their possession to the top floor of their property

Water supplies for most properties in the area have been restored but Thames Water said air locks in the system meant some residents were still experiencing problems.

A spokesman for the firm said bottled water and plumbers were on standby in case of issues while engineers would finish fixing the mains during the day.

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Thames Water said engineers would work throughout the day to repair the broken mains pipe

Woodberry Down Primary School remains shut but Parkwood Primary School has reopened.

Queens Drive, between Brownswood Road and Seven Sisters Road, has been closed to traffic.

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Banksy opens ‘pop-up’ shop in Croydon

Banksy has opened a “pop-up” shop in south London featuring the stab vest he designed for Stormzy’s headline act at the Glastonbury Festival.

A Tony the Tiger rug and a cradle surrounded by CCTV cameras are also on show as part of the venture, at a disused retail outlet in Croydon.

“I’m opening a shop today,” the artist said on Instagram. “Although the doors don’t actually open.”

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Hillingdon Tube stabbing: Tashan Daniel ‘was going to Arsenal match’

Hillingdon station

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Anne Robinson/Twitter/PA Wire

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Emergency services were called to Hillingdon Underground station at shortly before 16:00 BST

A man stabbed to death at a London Underground station was an Arsenal fan on his way to a match, the BBC has been told.

Tashan Daniel, 20, was killed in an “unprovoked attack” on the platform at Hillingdon station on Tuesday.

He had been heading to the Emirates Stadium to see the Gunners face Nottingham Forest in the third round of the Carabao Cup, a source said.

It is the third murder investigation on the Tube network this year.

No arrests have been made over the attack, which Det Supt Gary Richardson described as “a shocking act of violence”.

He said the British Transport Police (BTP) investigation was in its “early stages”.

“We believe a group of young men were involved in an altercation on the platform before one of the men received a fatal stab wound,” he said.

Police and paramedics were called to the station in west London at 15:57 BST.

An air ambulance was also sent to Hillingdon, but Mr Daniel was pronounced dead at the scene.

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Mike Quinn/Geograph

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The man was pronounced dead at the scene at Hillingdon station

Danielle Foster, who was driving past Hillingdon station at the time of the stabbing, said upon “hearing so many sirens, I knew something terrible had happened”.

“Lots of people were being turned away from the station as it had been closed,” she said, adding: “Then the police helicopter began circling the scene.”

Hillingdon station was closed by Transport for London (TfL) while police searched the area.

The station was closed for the rest of Tuesday evening and reopened at 05:45 this morning.

So far in 2019 more than 100 murder investigations have been launched across London by the Metropolitan Police and BTP.

The other two murder investigations carried out by BTP happened after killings at Queensbury Tube station in March and Elephant and Castle Tube station at the start of this month.

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Johnson to urge Iran to release Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe

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Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe

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Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been detained in Iran since April 2016

Boris Johnson is to call for the release of jailed British-Iranian national Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe when he meets Iran’s president later.

The prime minister will meet Hassan Rouhani at a UN summit in New York, hours after blaming Iran for attacks on Saudi Arabian oil facilities.

It comes amid calls for him to take a tougher line with Tehran over its detention of dual nationals.

Mrs Zhagari-Ratcliffe has been detained in Iran since April 2016.

The 40-year-old was jailed for five years in 2016 after being convicted of spying, which she denies.

On his flight to New York on Sunday, Mr Johnson told reporters: “I will not only be discussing Iran’s actions in the region, but also the need to release not just Nazanin but others who in our view are being illegally and unfairly held in Tehran.”

Former foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt suggested Mr Johnson should form a new coalition of allies at the UN to call out Iran for its “diplomatic hostage taking”.

And Mrs Zhagari-Ratcliffe’s husband, Richard Ratcliffe, said the prime minister must tell his Iranian counterpart “enough is enough” and secure his wife’s release.

“I don’t mind how he does that, but this has gone on long enough,” he said.

“Nazanin is at the end of her tether. We have to be clear with Iran that it’s not OK to conduct hostage diplomacy.”

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Media captionWhy one mother’s personal plight is part of a complicated history between Iran and the UK

Mr Hunt is supporting Mr Ratcliffe’s move to launch a new campaign group made up of other families of different nationalities with loved ones held in Tehran.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme it should be a priority to ensure the price of taking hostages is “too high” for Iran.

“Iran is one of the few countries in the world that seeks to settle disputes by taking hostages,” he said.

He said it is thought other countries’ citizens have been taken hostage in Iran and only by working together can countries find a solution.

“When Europe and the US go separate ways on Iran it doesn’t work,” he said.

Campaign group

Mr Ratcliffe said efforts by Mr Johnson to get his wife released could make amends for comments he made as foreign secretary in 2017, when he said Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe was in Iran teaching journalism.

Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s family has always insisted she was on holiday in Iran when she was arrested – and the UK government later clarified it had “no doubt” this was the case.

A number of people with dual Iranian and foreign nationality have been detained in Iran in recent years.

In August, a spokesman for Iran’s judiciary said a British-Iranian dual national, Anousheh Ashouri, had been sentenced to 10 years in prison by a court in Tehran after being convicted of spying for Israel.

Weeks later, two British-Australian women and an Australian man were detained in Iran.

British-Australian Kylie Moore-Gilbert, a Middle East politics specialist at Melbourne University, is being held on charges that remain unclear, according to the Australian government.

Australians Mark Firkin and Jolie King, who also holds a UK passport – are also being detained in Iran.

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Jolie King

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Travel bloggers Jolie King and Mark Firkin are reportedly being held in Tehran’s Evin prison

Earlier this year, the UK foreign office warned all dual nationals against travelling to Iran because of the risk of arbitrary detention.

Tensions between the UK and Iran have worsened in recent months following a row over the seizure of oil tankers in the Gulf.

The meeting between Mr Johnson and Mr Rouhani comes after the UK, France and Germany agreed on Monday that Iran was responsible for the attack on Saudi oil facilities last weekend.

Saudi Arabia has also accused Iran of carrying out the 14 September attacks, in which 18 drones and seven cruise missiles hit an oil field and processing facility.

However, Iran has denied responsibility, accusing the UK, France and Germany of “parroting absurd US claims”.

BBC diplomatic correspondent James Landale said slowly and cautiously, some diplomatic pressure was being applied on Iran.

But he added there was little sign Iran was ready to make any diplomatic concessions, not least while Europe and the US appeared uncertain over how to respond to the Saudi attacks.

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Thomas Cook customers will not be stranded, vows Raab

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Media captionForeign Secretary Dominic Raab says that people “will not be stranded” if Thomas Cook collapses

The government is ready to fly holidaymakers back to the UK if tour operator Thomas Cook collapses, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has said.

Mr Raab told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show contingency planning was in place to make sure no-one would be stranded.

But he dampened hopes of a government rescue bid for the firm.

Ministers did not “systematically step in” when businesses went under unless there was “a good strategic national interest”, he said.

Mr Raab said he did not want to undermine the rescue talks that Thomas Cook is currently conducting with its biggest shareholder and creditors at City law firm Slaughter & May.

The tour operator’s financial difficulties have mounted over the past year, culminating in a refinancing plan in August led by its biggest shareholder, Chinese company Fosun.

But banks now want the company to raise extra funds and it could fall into administration within days unless it finds £200m.

The Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA) union, which represents Thomas Cook staff, is urging the government to step in with a bail out amid fears the company’s collapse could leave about 150,000 British tourists stranded.


Analysis

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Reuters

Katie Prescott, business correspondent

This meeting is crucial for Thomas Cook’s survival.

If there is no agreement, then the decision to wind up the company will be taken at a Board meeting this evening. It’s likely (looking at the precedent of Monarch’s collapse) that any announcement about that will be made late at night, once all planes are on the ground. But the company doesn’t have to announce anything until the markets open at 07:00 BST on Monday.

It’s low season at the moment, the time of year when Thomas Cook has to pay its suppliers for the busy summer season just gone. Hoteliers are paid on 60 to 90-day terms, once travellers have already taken their holidays. The nightmare scenario is that hoteliers who don’t think they will get paid might turn out the people staying with them.

However, it is worth re-stating that the company is still trading. People are still holidaying with Thomas Cook. And while we can assume the company is reining back marketing activity around last-minute deals and offers, until any announcement is made, it is business as usual.

The foreign secretary said he did not want talk of contingency planning to become “a self-fulfilling prophecy”.

But he told the BBC the government had learned lessons from the collapse of the Monarch airline in 2017. The UK’s consular authorities abroad were ready to assist, he said.

A government spokesperson said: “We recognise it’s a worrying time for holidaymakers and employees.

“The financial circumstances of individual businesses are a commercial matter, but the government and the Civil Aviation Authority are monitoring the situation closely.”

‘Being held hostage’

Meanwhile, holidaymakers staying at a hotel in Tunisia owed money by Thomas Cook have reportedly been prevented from leaving the resort until it has been paid.

Guests at the Les Orangers beach resort in the town of Hammamet, near Tunis, said the hotel was refusing to let them leave because of concerns about Thomas Cook’s future.

Customers have reported that the hotel is asking visitors to pay extra money amid fears it will not be paid what it is owed by the tour operator for bookings.

Ryan Farmer, from Leicestershire, told BBC Radio 5 Live the hotel demanded all guests who were due to leave go to reception “to pay additional fees, obviously because of the situation with Thomas Cook”.

Security guards closed the hotel’s gates as guests refused to pay the extra fee, Mr Farmer claims.

He told the Stephen Nolan show: “I’d describe it as exactly the same as being held hostage.”

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AFP

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Thomas Cook has hundreds of High Street stores

Thomas Cook customers have been reminded on social media that they have Atol protection – a fund paid for through industry levies – “in the event that Thomas Cook goes into administration”.

The travel firm also reassured customers on Saturday night that flights continue to operate as normal.

Rescue call

One of the world’s largest travel companies, Thomas Cook was founded in 1841 to operate temperance day trips, and now has annual sales of £9bn.

It employs 22,000 staff, 9,000 of whom are in the UK, and serves 19 million customers a year in 16 different countries.

There are currently 600,000 Thomas Cook customers on holiday, of which 150,000 to 160,000 are British.

TSSA general secretary Manuel Cortes has called on Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom to help Thomas Cook “no matter what”, saying it would save thousands of jobs.

Shadow business secretary Rebecca Long Bailey said “the government must consider stepping in and taking an equity stake to avoid this crisis”.

Wedding worries

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Chloe Hardy

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Chloe and her fiance Jack are due to fly to Zante for their wedding

Chloe Hardy from Leicestershire is due to get married in Zante in October and booked the wedding package with Thomas Cook back in June 2018.

Chloe and her fiance will also have 33 family members flying out, with their trips costing more than £33,000 in total.

With the big day looming, Chloe is frustrated by Thomas Cook’s handling of their booking.

“We are unsure if we will be able to fly… This is causing great concern, worry and stress to all of us involved.”

In July, Thomas Cook produced a business plan saying that it needed £900m in refinancing, up from a previous estimate of £150m. The £900m would come from China’s Fosun, the group of creditors and some other investors.

The group of lenders then commissioned an independent investigation. Its financial advisers said Thomas Cook would require an additional £200m on top of the £900m already required, which would bring the total refinancing needed up to £1.1bn.

Thomas Cook succeeded in finding a backer to provide the additional £200m, but the BBC understands it has since pulled out.

The firm has blamed a series of problems for its profit warnings, including political unrest in holiday destinations such as Turkey, last summer’s prolonged heatwave and customers delaying booking holidays because of Brexit.

What are your rights?

If you are on a package holiday you are covered by the Air Travel Organiser’s Licence scheme (Atol).

The scheme will pay for your accommodation abroad, although you may have to move to a different hotel or apartment.

Atol will also pay to have you brought home if the airline is no longer operating.

If you have holiday booked in the future you will also be refunded by the scheme.

If you have booked a flight-only deal you will need to apply to your travel insurance company or credit card and debit card provider to seek a refund.

When Monarch Airlines collapsed in 2017, the government organised to bring home all the stranded passengers, whether they were covered by Atol or not.

Here is more information on Atol protection and Your questions answered


Are you a Thomas Cook customer or member of staff? If you’ve been affected by the issues raised here, you can get in touch by emailing .

Please include a contact number if you are willing to speak to a BBC journalist. You can also contact us in the following ways:



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Climate Strike: Protests expected across UK

Teenage campaigner Greta Thunberg

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Getty Images

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Teenage campaigner Greta Thunberg – who inspired the protests – sailed to the US ahead of the UN Climate Action Summit in New York next week

Protests are expected across the UK, with pupils leaving schools and workers downing tools in a bid to urge more government action on climate change.

It’s part of a global “climate strike” day, which started in Australia earlier, where organisers said around 300,000 people took part.

They are urging “climate justice” and “an end to the age of fossil fuels”.

Energy minister Kwasi Kwarteng said their voices were being heard but did not “endorse children leaving school”.

It follows earlier school strikes inspired by activist Greta Thunberg.

The teenager, from Sweden, has described the turnout in Australia earlier as “incredible”.

She is set to join a later rally planned in New York, where world leaders will meet at the UN next week to discuss climate change.

Extinction Rebellion, which organised its own climate and environment protests in the UK earlier this year, said it stood “in solidarity” with those taking part.

It added that its members were joining the strikes and holding their own events, including a choir and “kids’ space” in Victoria Tower Gardens, Westminster, and outside King’s College London.

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EPA

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Students gather for a protest against climate change in Nicosia, Cyprus

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn will address the UK Student Climate Network’s Global Climate Strike in Westminster at about 13:15pm.

Mr Kwarteng told BBC Breakfast protesters’ voices were “being heard” but insisted the time spent in school was “incredibly important”.

He added: “What I do support is their energy, their creativity, and the fact that they have completely mastered these issues and take them very seriously.”

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Hampton Hill ‘explosion’: Residents evacuated after building fire

Hampton Hill

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@Barry2103

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The London Fire Brigade evacuated 30 residents after a building on High Street in Hampton Hill caught fire

About 30 residents have been evacuated and part of a building has been destroyed following a suspected explosion.

London Fire Brigade said it was called to a fire after the suspected blast on High Street in Hampton Hill, south-west London, on Tuesday night.

On social media, one witness described hearing a “boom” before the blaze. No was injured.

Road closures remain in place at the scene, Richmond Council said.



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