The Telegraph 2024-02-01 12:01:13


Live Mother and girl suffer ‘life-changing’ injuries after chemical attack in Clapham – live updates

A 31-year-old woman and her three-year-old daughter have suffered potentially life-changing injuries and remain in hospital after a chemical attack in south London. 

The mother’s eight-year-old daughter is with them in hospital and was one of 12 people injured, including five police officers, after alkaline was thrown at people on a road near Clapham Common.

Police say the suspect, whom was described as a “dangerous individual”, remains at large after he fled the scene on foot moments after driving into a stationary car.

Witnesses have told how neighbours chased the suspect down the street after trying to help the mother and her two children.

Video footage obtained by Sky News has emerged appearing to show a man driving a car into a woman before a child is thrown to the ground. 

Follow latest developments below 

Footage shows chemical attack unfolding in Clapham

Video footage has emerged appearing to show the moment a man drove a car into a woman before throwing a child to the ground in Clapham where police are investigating a suspected chemical attack.

Sky News has obtained CCTV which captures a man running around a car before getting into the driver’s seat with a woman and child standing in front of the vehicle holding their hands up. 

The man then drives the car into the woman and strikes her. The footage then shows the man getting out of the car and opening the back door, before appearing to remove a child who is thrown to the ground.

Video also shows people leaving neighbouring homes to chase the man down the road.

Police launched a manhunt on Wednesday evening after nine people were injured in the incident.

A 31-year-old woman and her two daughters, aged eight and three, remain in hospital, with injuries to the woman and younger child potentially life-changing.

Three women – two in their 30s and one in her 50s – who came to the aid of the family have since been discharged from hospital with minor burns injuries.

A man in his 50s who also helped declined hospital treatment for minor injuries.

Five police officers who were injured as they responded have all been treated and left hospital.

The substance thrown as part of the attack is now known to be alkaline, the Metropolitan Police said.

Alan Bates rejects ‘derisory’ payout over Post Office scandal

Alan Bates has revealed he will reject a “cruel” and “derisory” Post Office Horizon scandal compensation offer from the Government.

The former sub-postmaster, whose story inspired the ITV drama Mr Bates vs. The Post Office, has fought a two-decade battle for justice after being forced to stop running his branch in 2003.

On Wednesday, the Government offered him only about a sixth of what he had requested in compensation. He told The Telegraph he would be turning the offer down.

The Government has been repeatedly criticised for its treatment of sub-postmasters caught up in the Horizon scandal – some of whom have never received any compensation despite their lives being ruined.

In 2022, ministers confirmed plans to compensate sub-postmasters who had won a High Court battle against the Post Office but had only received small sums through a settlement and promised they would deliver “full and fair compensation” to those affected.

After receiving his offer on Wednesday, Mr Bates told The Telegraph: “‘Full and fair’ might be His Majesty’s Government’s interpretation, but in reality the offer is derisory, offensive and after all this time, yes, cruel.”

Mr Bates is one of more than 4,000 people who have been told they will be eligible for compensation as a result of the Post Office Horizon scandal.

Errors in Fujitsu’s Horizon software caused shortfalls to be recorded which did not exist.

Overall, more than 900 sub-postmasters were prosecuted after they were blamed for the shortfalls and some even served time in prison as a result.

After winning a High Court case against the Post Office, sub-postmasters who had lost out were invited to submit a claim to the government compensation scheme.

Mr Bates told The Telegraph his lawyers engaged with forensic accountants to prepare his claim and that his offer was received at 4.59pm on Wednesday, 111 days after he had submitted his claim. He said he had been offered “around a sixth” of what he had claimed for.

He told The Telegraph: “I will absolutely be turning this offer for financial redress down. It is just a terrible way to treat human beings – and I have heard from several sub-postmasters who have received similarly derisory offers, while others are still waiting.

“Bearing in mind my solicitors engaged forensic accountants to prepare my claim in accordance with established legal principles, it now seems we have to spend hours and hours over weeks and months with government-appointed lawyers at who knows what cost, just to point out these legal principles to them. But to them it might just be a good earner.”

He added: “I have been in the queue along with all the others in the scheme, but if my case is an example of the way they are going to treat all the cases, we may as well start looking at a legal action again and let the judiciary decide.”

Mr Bates took over a shop with a Post Office counter in Llandudno, North Wales in 1998, and first became aware something was wrong with Horizon when a shortage of £6,000 appeared on his books.

In 2003, his contract was terminated and while Mr Bates’s careful record-keeping proved he was not at fault, the Post Office said £1,200 was still unaccounted for.

Mr Bates and his partner, Suzanne Sercombe, kept their shop but lost their Post Office counter and their investment of around £60,000.

After setting up a website, he met other sub-postmasters and sub-postmistresses who had experienced similar problems. Along with 554 others, he took the Post Office to the High Court, where a judge ruled in 2019 that the Horizon system contained “bugs, errors and defects”.

The claimants were awarded £58 million in a settlement from the Post Office. However, once legal costs were deducted they received only £12 million – around £20,000 each on average.

The Government set up a compensation scheme for these postmasters called the Group Litigation Order (GLO). It opened last year and was set up to ensure the claimants involved in the legal action received extra money to reflect the gravity of their situations.

Interim payments have been paid out, while claimants await an offer for the final payment.

Previously, the GLO scheme had a deadline for payments to be made by Aug 7 this year; however, the Government brought in new legislation to scrap the deadline in an attempt to allow more claimants to come forward.

A separate scheme for those whose convictions were overturned offers a fast-tracked £600,000 settlement or the opportunity for claimants to enter negotiations if they feel they are entitled to more. Meanwhile, the Horizon Shortfall Scheme is in place for sub-postmasters who were not convicted or part of the GLO court action. Many affected sub-postmasters used their own money to attempt to balance their accounts when false shortfalls were reported.

No date for final report

A statutory inquiry into the scandal is aunder way and is set to finish this summer, with a date for chairman Sir Wyn Williams’ final report as yet unknown.

On Wednesday, Fujitsu confirmed it would wait until the end of the inquiry before deciding how much it would contribute to compensation.

A government spokesman said: “We continue to appreciate the work that Mr Bates has done to campaign for fair compensation after the miscarriage of justice suffered by so many in the Horizon IT scandal, something which we are committed to providing.

“If any applicant to the GLO scheme feels that they are owed more than is being offered, we are happy to discuss the evidence with their legal advisers. If we can’t agree, decisions will be made by an independent panel that includes legal and accountancy experts, who ensure fair redress based on the evidence.

“In most cases, we have agreed the amount of compensation for people from whom we have received claims, with 59 people making claims and 44 offers made, proving that the majority of claims are being decided quickly. We continue to encourage those 400 GLO members who haven’t made a claim to come forward.”

Sturgeon denies ‘burning desire’ for independence influenced Covid decisions

Nicola Sturgeon was accused of letting a “burning desire” for independence drive her response to the pandemic as she appeared at the UK Covid Inquiry on Wednesday.

The former first minister repeatedly welled up as she gave evidence at the inquiry, sitting in Edinburgh, but was accused by a bereaved relative of crying “crocodile tears.”

Jamie Dawson KC, the counsel for the inquiry, put it to the former SNP leader that it was a “matter of instinct” for her to “seek division” within the UK, including announcing different lockdown decisions to those applied in England.

He asked her whether it was possible for her to take any decision without seeing it through the “prism of Scottish independence and your burning desire to achieve it”.

Ms Sturgeon rejected the claim, but minutes of a Scottish Cabinet meeting dated June 30 2020 showed SNP ministers “agreed that consideration be given to restarting work on independence and a referendum” using “the experience of the coronavirus crisis”.

She insisted this did not result in any action to restart a separation campaign and was merely a “comment”, but Lady Hallett, chairing the inquiry, intervened to note that the minutes stated this had been “agreed”.

Another email shown to the inquiry, dated July 2020, advised Ms Sturgeon and her ministers against imposing travel restrictions to Spain because “they will never approve EU membership for an independent Scotland as a result”.

The inquiry also heard accusations that Ms Sturgeon had pursued a doomed “zero Covid” strategy because she wanted to be “the person that drove Covid out of Scotland”. She insisted the relaxation of the lockdown rules was slower in Scotland than in England.

In a conclusion during which Ms Sturgeon fought back tears, Mr Dawson quoted the bereaved wife of a Covid victim as saying that “hubris does not stop a pandemic”. He said: “The story of Covid in Scotland is the story of the hubris of Nicola Sturgeon, is it not?”

Addressing the bereaved, the former first minister said she was “deeply sorry” and insisted she “did my best”.

But she admitted that she had destroyed all her WhatsApp messages from the pandemic, and had already started doing so when she promised in August 2021 that they would all be handed to the inquiry.

Aamer Anwar, the lead solicitor for the Scottish Covid Bereaved group, said: “My clients have asked me to consider asking for a criminal investigation into the actions of the former first minister and others. We will carefully consider our next steps once the evidence is completed today.”

Pamela Thomas, who lost her brother to Covid, told reporters outside the inquiry: “Crocodile tears aren’t washing with me. If there are any tools available to my solicitors or the inquiry with regards to any criminal activity that took place, I would like them to use them all.”

Royal Marine beats submariners to take charge of Navy’s global operations

A Royal Marine has beaten submariners to take charge of the Navy’s global operations for the first time.

Brig Rich Cantrill will take on the role later this year, in which he will oversee the protection of home waters, as well as Navy and Marine actions and activities worldwide.

The Telegraph understands that while several submariners applied for the role, Brig Cantrill, 49, who is currently Assistant Chief of Staff overseeing operations at the Permanent Joint Headquarters in Northwood, north-west London, was considered the best candidate.

A defence source said the role of Commander Operations had changed in recent years, with the Russian submarine threats in the North Atlantic no longer the main focus. They cited the protection of shipping in the Red Sea and the UK having a permanent presence in the Pacific as being “just as relevant”, which made the job suitable for someone without previous experience as a submariner.

Brig Cantrill has held prominent posts across defence and government, notably as deputy of the Ministry of Defence’s counter-terrorism operations, a role in the Cabinet Office’s Covid-19 taskforce and serving as Chief of Staff of the UK’s Amphibious Forces as they countered pirates off the Horn of Africa in 2016.

He has been in the Royal Marines for almost 30 years, notably commanding 3 Commando Brigade after roles in Plymouth-based 42 Commando, first leading Lima Company on operations in Afghanistan before taking over the unit as Commanding Officer in 2014.

Brig Cantrill said he was “absolutely delighted” to have been given the position.

He said: “For me it means a chance to return to my own service after a fascinating time in the joint domain, where I have learned a great deal about modern multi-domain operations, whilst working daily with the current Commander Operations and his team.

“The delivery of Royal Navy operations, and the maritime contribution to joint operations, are fundamental to protecting the nation and helping it to prosper.”

Pictured: Tony Hall’s letter praising Bashir after Diana ‘interview of the decade’

Tony Hall praised Martin Bashir for “the interview of the decade, if not of our generation” in a newly-published note.

Bashir’s reporting forever changed the way the BBC reports on the monarchy, Lord Hall, then the head of news and current affairs at the BBC, wrote. He added that the journalist had conducted himself in “absolutely the appropriate fashion”.

The corporation has released more than 10,000 documents relating to Bashir’s infamous Panorama interview with Diana, Princess of Wales.

They include a copy of the handwritten note from Lord Hall to Bashir in November 1995.

Notes from an internal meeting attended by the BBC’s senior executives state: “Alan Yentob said that Martin Bashir’s presentation had been exemplary. Others agreed. He had the skill to gain the Princess’s confidence.”

Will Wyatt, the managing director of BBC Television at the time, described the interview as “an extraordinary coup… conducted just as one would have hoped”.

Live Middle East crisis live: Houthis attack British ship as US launches fresh air strikes in Yemen

A Houthi strike has hit a British operated ship in the Red Sea in the latest targeted attack against commercial shipping, according to reports.

The vessel, named as KOI, was operating south of Yemen’s port of Aden and reported an explosion earlier this morning. 

Reuters have reported that the KOI is a Liberian-flagged container ship operated by UK-based Oceonix Services.

It comes as the United States carried out strikes in Yemen against 10 attack drones reportedly ready to launch and a ground control station.

A US warship also shot down an anti-ship missile fired by the Houthis and later downed three Iranian drones, the US military said.

While the US has recently launched strikes on the Houthis and other Tehran-supported groups in the region, both it and Iran have sought to avoid a direct confrontation, and the downing of three Iranian drones could heighten tensions.

The Houthis regard all Israeli, US and British ships as legitimate targets following Israel’s war on Hamas in Gaza.

Follow the latest updates