The Telegraph 2024-02-04 16:01:01


Live Israel-Hamas war live: US preparing further strikes on Iran-backed groups

The United States intends to launch additional strikes against Iran-backed groups in the Middle East, US national security advisor Jake Sullivan said on Sunday.

“We intend to take additional strikes and additional action to continue to send a clear message that the United States will respond when our forces are attacked, or people are killed,” Mr Sullivan told NBC News.

Sullivan declined to say if the US would launch strikes on Iran directly, stating it would “not be wise” to discuss what the US is “ruling in or ruling out”.

The comments came after Britain and the United States launched a fresh wave of strikes against the Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen on Saturday night.

Saturday’s strikes followed a drone strike in Jordan last Sunday that killed 3 US military personnel. Iran has denied being behind the attack.

Follow the latest updates below

King waves to crowds in first public appearance since leaving hospital

The King waved to onlookers as he walked to church on the Sandringham estate in Norfolk on Sunday – the first time he has been seen in public since he was discharged from hospital…

Grandmother mauled to death by suspected XL Bully dogs days after breed banned

A pensioner has died after being assaulted by two suspected XL bully dogs while visiting her grandson.

Esther Martin, 68, was found seriously injured after she is believed to have been attacked by two of the now banned breed at a property in Jaywick Sands, Essex, at around 4pm on Saturday.

A 39-year-old man from Jaywick, who is said to have kept eight dogs, was arrested on suspicion of dangerous dogs offences and remains in custody.

Essex Police said officers were called to a property in Hillman Avenue shortly after 4pm on Saturday and found a woman seriously injured. Officers believe she was attacked by two dogs, and the force said the dogs were later destroyed.

Mrs Martin died at the scene. Essex Police said it was trying to establish the circumstances that led to the incident, but added that there was no wider threat to the community.

Chief Superintendent Glen Pavelin said: “Experienced detectives are leading the investigation to identify exactly what has happened.

“I know there will be speculation about the breed of the dogs involved. We’re waiting for confirmation from experts about this before releasing further details, and I’d ask people not to speculate.”

XL Bullies, which have been blamed for a rise in dog attacks, were banned last week and it is a criminal offence to own one in England and Wales without a certificate.

Owners will also have to follow a strict set of rules around the animals’ care, including having them neutered, keeping them on a lead and muzzling them in public.

As the deadline passed, around 40,000 people had complied with the legislation and had formally registered their animals with the Department for Food and Rural Affairs.

Kelly Fretwell, one of the victim’s daughters, said the dogs involved in the attack were XL bullies. There were eight XL bullies in the house, six puppies and two adults who attacked when her mother was left there alone, she said.

All eight dogs were owned by the man in custody, and Ms Fretwell said her mother was visiting the area to see her 11-year-old grandson.

“She was amazing,” Ms Fretwell said. “She was retired and trying to bring her life back on track after the passing of my sister two years ago”

The family said that although the attack had taken place around 4pm they did not find out what had happened until 10pm, when police arrived at their front door.

Ms Fretwell said: “This is a very distressing time for our family. If someone knocked on your door at night to say that your mum had been mauled to death, would you believe them?”

Gillian Keegan under fire after claiming Clapham attack case ‘not really about asylum’

Gillian Keegan has come under fire for claiming a chemical attack allegedly carried out by an Afghan refugee given leave to remain in the UK despite being convicted of a sex offence was “not really about asylum”.

The Education Secretary was criticised for her remarks as police continued the manhunt for Abdul Ezedi, who is suspected to have carried out the attack.

Ezedi arrived illegally in the UK from Afghanistan on the back of a lorry in 2016 and was denied asylum twice, but was granted leave to remain in 2021 or 2022 after claiming he had converted to Christianity.

A 31-year-old woman believed to be known to him was attacked with a corrosive alkaline substance, along with her two children, and remains “very poorly” and sedated in hospital. The injuries to her daughters, aged three and eight, are “not likely to be life-changing”.

Calls to tighten British asylum laws have grown after it emerged that Ezedi had been convicted of sexual assault and exposure in 2018.

Asked how he had been allowed to stay in the country, Ms Keegan told Sky’s Sunday Morning with Trevor Phillips: “My understanding is the Home Secretary has asked for all the details.

“But this is not really about asylum – this is about obviously the attack on a mother and her children, which was horrific and obviously impacted others as well, some people who went to her assistance and the emergency services.”

When Mr Phillips said the case was “obviously” about flaws in the asylum system, Ms Keegan accused him of “conflating the two”.

“Clearly, what we say is anybody who commits crimes is not able to stay in this country, so if you have a sentence of more than 12 months you’re not allowed to stay if you have a criminal record,” she said.

“We don’t want to have people in this country who have criminal records, and there are various steps, actually, in the various Bills. The Nationality and Borders Bill tightened it up and the new Bill has tightened it up again. But in this particular case he was granted [asylum].”

Asked why Ezedi had been free to “roam the streets”, the minister said that was “something that we need to get to the bottom of”. Pressed on whether she was concerned about the case, she replied: “I’m concerned, actually, that there’s a mum and two children who are [in hospital].”

But Sir John Hayes, the chairman of the Common Sense Group of Tory MPs, said: “The two issues are intimately associated. You can’t separate the failures of our asylum system with the fact that this bloke was in this country. They are, by their nature, linked – you can’t separate them.

“So I think Trevor Phillips is right that the things are intrinsically connected, and we have to review our whole system of asylum in this country. It’s no use saying these things aren’t linked – of course they’re linked. He was here as a successful asylum seeker.”

Sir John, a former Home Office minister, had previously said he would write to James Cleverly, the Home Secretary, calling on him to urgently review the asylum rules.

Richard Tice, the leader of Reform UK, said: “The Clapham attack is all about the Tories’ total failure to stop illegal immigration, failure to deport foreign criminals and failure to protect British citizens. For a Tory minister to deny this shows how out of touch they are.”

Greg Smith, the Tory MP for Buckingham, said: “The case quite clearly demonstrates that we need to be far tougher on offenders being able to remain in the United Kingdom, by whatever means they have entered the country – legal, illegal, asylum routes, whatever it may be. 

“If you’re a convicted sex offender, there’s no place for you here. Until we can guarantee that, there is a problem.”

The row came as a shadow minister suggested Ezedi should not have been granted asylum in the UK. Asked by Phillips on the same show whether there was “something wrong” with a system that allowed Ezedi to stay in Britain, Sir Chris Bryant said yes.

He added: “In the main, on the face of it, if everything that we have been told is true then it seems absolutely extraordinary that the British people should be put at such risk from this person. Of course it’s something we might need to look at.”

Tory MPs have claimed Ezedi should never have been given refugee status in the first place, with prominent backbenchers calling for the entire system to be reviewed.

Miriam Cates, who co-chairs the New Conservative group, said the “shocking and tragic case” showed the “urgent need to tighten up our asylum processes”.

Watch: First video of Clapham chemical attack suspect Abdul Ezedi

Police have released the first footage of Abdul Ezedi since a chemical attack on a 31-year old woman and her two young daughters in south London…

Royal Navy aircraft carrier cancels Nato sailing after propeller issue

The departure of the Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth to lead the largest Nato exercise since the Cold War has been cancelled at the last minute after an “issue” with a propeller shaft was spotted during final checks.

The setback comes 18 months after sister ship HMS Prince of Wales broke down off the Isle of Wight after a similar malfunction with a coupling on the starboard propeller which meant she could not take part in exercises with the US Navy and a delay of nine months to operational service.

The newest of Britain’s two £3 billion aircraft carriers will now be readied to take the place of the fleet flagship on the Nato exercises, which are planned to involve more than 40 vessels.

Fleet Commander Vice Admiral Andrew Burns said: “Routine pre-sailing checks yesterday identified an issue with a coupling on HMS Queen Elizabeth’s starboard propeller shaft. As such, the ship will not sail on Sunday.

“HMS Prince of Wales will take her place on Nato duties and will set sail for Exercise Steadfast Defender as soon as possible.”

HMS Prince of Wales broke down as she was heading to a diplomatic mission to carry out exercises with the US Navy, Royal Canadian Navy and the US Marine Corps.

The carrier came to a halt off the Isle of Wight and was brought under tow back into harbour for the problem to be identified.

Inspections by divers and engineers found the ship’s 33-ton starboard propeller had malfunctioned, with the coupling holding it in place breaking.

Separate issues

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said the issue on HMS Queen Elizabeth was “separate and not linked” to the earlier defect on its sister ship.

The spokesman said: “The issue identified is with the ship’s shaft couplings. The ship’s propeller shafts are too big to be made from a single piece of metal, so each shaft is made from three sections, which are connected using shaft couplings, which bind the shaft sections together.”

HMS Queen Elizabeth had been set to lead a carrier strike group of eight ships – four of them British, including frigate HMS Somerset and two Tide-class tankers from the Royal Fleet Auxiliary – supported by US, Spanish and Danish vessels.

On board would have been F-35B Lightning stealth fighters from 617 “Dambusters” Squadron, based at RAF Marham, Norfolk, submarine hunting and airborne early warning Merlin Mk2 helicopters from RNAS Culdrose, and battlefield Wildcat helicopters of 847 Naval Air Squadron from RNAS Yeovilton.

HMS Prince of Wales will now take over the lead of the Nato exercise Steadfast Defender, which will take place off Norway’s Arctic coast in March.

Announcing the carrier’s sailing, Commodore James Blackmore, Commander UK Carrier Strike Group, said: “Steadfast Defender demonstrates the unity of the alliance, our commitment to it – and that the UK continues to play a leading role in Nato.

“The exercise allows us to train with our neighbours in a truly challenging environment, especially at this time of year – but that is why we have to operate up there; the weather cannot put us off.”

Before heading to the Arctic, the Carrier Strike Group was due to take part in the annual Joint Warrior exercise off northern Scotland before joining Exercise Nordic Response – the maritime part of Steadfast Defender.

Having HMS Queen Elizabeth out of action could affect the ability of the Royal Navy to deploy an aircraft carrier to the Red Sea amid the continuing threat by Iran-backed Houthi rebels which James Heappey, the armed forces minister has suggested was being considered.

Mother of Brianna Ghey would meet family of her daughter’s killer

The mother of Brianna Ghey, the murdered teenager, has said she would meet the family of Scarlett Jenkinson, one of two school contemporaries convicted of killing her daughter.

Jenkinson and Eddie Ratcliffe, 16, received life sentences last week for the murder of Brianna, a transgender fellow school pupil. They stabbed her 28 times on Feb 11 2023.

In her first interview since their sentencing on Friday, Esther Ghey insisted she did not “carry any hate” for Jenkinson or Ratcliffe but did not think she would ever be able to forgive them.

Asked if she had seen Jenkinson’s mother, Ms Ghey told the BBC’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg: “I’ve seen her, but … We haven’t come face to face.

“But when I think of their emotions and how they’re feeling it just brings back how I felt when all this happened in February. She looks completely broken, really, and rightly so, she’s going through an absolutely horrific time.”

When given an opportunity to send a message to Jenkinson’s mother, she said: “I think that I would like to say that if she did want to contact me, and she does want to speak, then I’m open to that.

Blame

“I’d like to understand more how their life was, and what they want through, and I also want her to know that I don’t blame her for what her child has done.

“And I also want her to know that I understand how difficult being a parent is in this current day and age, with technology and phones and the internet, and how hard it is to actually monitor what your child is on. So … if she ever wants to speak to me, I’m here.”

During the interview, Gillian Keegan, the Education Secretary, who was also a guest on the show,could be seen wiping away tears as she listened to Ms Ghey speak.

Elsewhere in the interview, Brianna’s mother called for the introduction of a law to be introduced mandating the manufacture of mobile phones for under-16s that cannot access social media platforms.

Jenkinson and Ratcliffe had used online messaging platforms to discuss wanting to kill Brianna and other people they knew, while Jenkinson also used a dark web internet browser app to watch videos of the torture and murder of real people in “red rooms”.

Pressed on whether her daughter might have been safe if the law was changed, Ms Ghey replied: “Yeah, without a doubt.

“I think that either, one, they wouldn’t have been searching [for] that in the first place, and, two, if they did search it then the parents would know and they’d be able to get them some kind of help.”

Worst nightmare

In a statement released on Friday, Jenkinson’s family said: “The past 12 months have been beyond our worst nightmares as we have come to realise the brutal truth of Scarlett’s actions”.

“We agree with the jury’s verdict, the judge’s sentence and the decision to name the culprits,” they said.

The family added their lives had been left “in turmoil” as they thanked Ms Ghey for her “incredible selflessness and empathy towards our family”.

“Her compassion is overwhelming and we are forever grateful. To all of Brianna’s family and friends, our community, and everyone else that has been affected by this horror, we are truly sorry.”