The Telegraph 2024-02-06 00:00:31


Live King Charles diagnosed with cancer – live updates

King Charles has cancer and will be postponing his public duties to receive treatment, Buckingham Palace has announced.

The King was diagnosed with cancer after receiving treatment for a benign prostate enlargement. Doctors noticed a separate issue and undertook tests.

He will now receive regular treatment at a London hospital.

He is said to be “wholly positive about his treatment”, and “looks forward to returning to full public duty as soon as possible”. He will continue to undertake State duties including his audiences with the Prime Minister, Privy Council meetings and red boxes.

The news was announced by Buckingham Palace after the Prime Minister was informed, and the King had a chance to tell Prince William, Prince Harry, Princess Anne, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward.

The Telegraph understands that the Duke of Sussex is likely to fly from California to London to visit his father on Monday night.

Follow the latest updates below.

The King needs William – and now the Prince of Wales needs Harry

It is the news no one wants to hear about one of their loved ones.

When the dreaded c-word rears its ugly head in any family – it naturally prompts fears for the future.

But when that family is also a “Firm” – it not only raises concerns for the King as an individual, but also the institution to which His Majesty belongs.

In being so honest with the public about Charles III’s cancer diagnosis, Buckingham Palace is breaking with royal protocol.

In years gone by, there was always great reluctance to discuss private health matters – and if royals have suffered with cancer in the past, their subjects have never been told about it.

Yet the decision to announce that the 75-year-old monarch has been diagnosed with a form of cancer after undergoing a hospital procedure for benign prostate enlargement is reflection of his desire to keep up with the times – as well as assisting “public understanding for all those around the world who are affected by cancer”.

As a renowned workaholic, the King will want to return to public-facing duties as soon as possible. It is certainly a testament to his work ethic that he will continue to undertake state business and official paperwork despite having already commenced what the palace has described as a “schedule of regular treatments”.

As the statement stressed: “He remains wholly positive about his treatment and looks forward to returning to full public duty as soon as possible.”

The truth of the matter, however, is that while the Queen is doubtlessly preparing to play a supporting role, and will continue to carry out a full schedule of public duties, the pressure now lies on the Prince of Wales to step up.

It could not have come at a more challenging time for Prince William as he finds himself –  like many of his generation – sandwiched between looking after young children and caring for elderly parents.

Yes, Camilla will continue to be the King’s right hand woman – but she is 76 years old.

At 41, and seemingly in robust health, it will be down to the heir to the throne to bridge the gap as his father continues to undergo outpatient treatment.

That would ordinarily be a straightforward request, but the Princess of Wales’s recent abdominal operation puts her husband in somewhat of a predicament.

With the King’s blessing, he had made it clear that he would be focussing on immediate family, rather than wider family business, as Catherine, 42, recuperates from spending 13 days in the London Clinic after undergoing surgery for an unspecified condition.

The Princess is not expected to return to official royal duties until after Easter at the earliest.

But now it seems William will be required to return to public duties sooner than planned in support of the King. Although the sovereign’s immediate diary has been cleared, it is anticipated that the Prince will take on some of his father’s obligations on top of his own.

For now, the plan is for the King to continue to hold his weekly audiences with the Prime Minister.

But if he does not feel up to it – it will be for William, as the King’s “liege man of life and limb”, to deputise, rather than his step-mother, the Queen.

Similarly, the Prince of Wales will be the first port of call to act as stand-in at investitures, the accepting of credentials and other events which are of constitutional significance, although it is thought the King will continue to preside over Privy Council meetings.

The King’s siblings, the Princess Royal and the Duke of Edinburgh, are also likely to play an enhanced role – although it is understood they will be operating in their usual capacity as “working” royals, rather than as “counsellors of state”. 

Counsellors of state are appointed by Letters Patents to act in His Majesty’s place should he be unable to undertake his official duties as Sovereign on a temporary basis due to illness or absence abroad. But that is not thought to be necessary at the present time. Instead, royal diaries will be adjusted and added to accordingly.

And what of the Duke of Sussex, who along with the Duke of York, is no longer a “working” royal – but remains a “counsellor of state”?

Having been informed of his father’s condition before it was made public, a source close to Prince Harry has confirmed that he will travel to the UK to see him in the coming days.

Royal insiders will no doubt be hoping that news of their father’s cancer diagnosis acts as a catalyst to bring William and Harry back on speaking terms.

They are not thought to have had much contact since the publication of Spare, Harry’s incendiary autobiography, last January, having barely exchanged words during the funeral of their grandmother, Elizabeth II in September 2022.

While several sources have suggested that their once close bond has been broken beyond all repair, the one thing they do still have in common is their shared love for their “darling Pa”, the only parent they have left.

If ever William needed some brotherly love – it’s now.

If this shock announcement brings about any kind of royal rapprochement, then it will certainly help the King on the road to recovery.

Dad’s Army star Ian Lavender dies aged 77

Ian Lavender, the last surviving main cast member of Dad’s Army, has died at the age of 77.

Lavender played Private Pike in the much-loved BBC series, with his character known for his frequent run-ins with Captain Mainwaring, played by Arthur Lowe, which would usually end with a cry from Mainwaring of: “Stupid boy!”

Jon Petrie, the BBC’s director of comedy, said: “Ian was a much-loved actor and will be sorely missed by all those who knew him.

“In his role of Private Pike in Dad’s Army, he delivered some of the most iconic and loved moments in the history of British comedy. Our thoughts are with his family.”

Lavender was just 22 and only nine months out of drama school when he was cast in Dad’s Army as the youngest member of the Home Guard troop. In his role he became the subject of one of the most famous lines in British comedy TV: “Don’t tell him, Pike!” The series ran from 1968-77. 

The BBC said the actor died on Friday. Hilary Gagan, his agent, told the PA news agency that he had been ill for some time and his wife and sons were by his side when he died.

Lavender’s later roles include Derek Harkinson in EastEnders, who he played for four years in the 2000s, and he appeared in comedies including Yes Minister, Keeping Up Appearances and Goodnight Sweetheart. 

He also appeared on stage, in The Merchant of Venice with Dustin Hoffman, and as the narrator in a touring production of The Rocky Horror Show.

But the actor remained best-known for Dad’s Army and he had a cameo role in the 2016 film version of the sitcom.

Lavender sometimes said he had been typecast as a comic actor but had no regrets about playing Pike.

“If you asked me ‘would you like to be in a sitcom that was watched by 18 million people, was on screen for 10 years, and will create lots of work for you and provide not just for you but for your children for the next 40-odd years’ … I’d be a fool to have regrets,” he said.

He always took references to his most famous role – and the famous line associated with it – in good humour, such as in 2008 when he appeared in an edition of Celebrity Mastermind alongside the musician Rick Wakeman.

When Lavender took his seat and was asked to state his name by host John Humphrys, Wakeman yelled: “Don’t tell him, Pike!”

Producers of The Dad’s Army Radio Show, a stage production, said: “We are deeply saddened to hear the passing of the wonderful Ian Lavender.

“In what truly marks the end of an era, Ian was the last surviving member of the Dad’s Army main cast. His wonderful performance as Private Frank Pike will live on for decades to come. He leaves behind a legacy of laughter enjoyed by millions.”

Lavender is survived by his wife, the choreographer and stage director Michelle Hardy, and their sons Sam and Daniel. 

Clapham chemical attacker ‘may be dead’ after disappearing near Thames

An Afghan asylum seeker suspected of carrying out a chemical attack in Clapham may be dead after last being seen near Southwark Bridge, police have said.

Abdul Ezedi was pictured on CCTV close to the Thames two hours after attacking a 31-year-old woman and her two children, aged three and eight, with an alkaline substance and attempting to run them over before fleeing.

On Monday, Scotland Yard revealed that a 22-year-old man had been arrested and bailed on suspicion of assisting an offender. Despite the raid, which took place in the early hours in London, officers did not rule out the possibility Ezedi may now be dead.

The last known sighting of the 35-year-old was on Southwark Bridge at 9.50pm on Wednesday after he left Tower Hill Tube station and crossed the river, detectives said.

Commander Jon Savell said that Ezedi could have come to harm.

He said: “I think it is realistic to understand that the fact no one has seen him recently and he has not been spotted by anyone either means he has come to harm and is yet to be found, or someone is looking after him and he has not been outside for some time. Those are the obvious two hypotheses.”

Counter-terror officers have been drafted in to scour hundreds of hours of CCTV in the search for Ezedi, who travelled down from Newcastle to carry out the attack.

He allegedly escaped the attack by fleeing onto the Tube network, where he used his bank card to travel across London.

He last used the card on Wednesday and had not been seen since, the force said, as it provided an update on the “painstaking” operation which detectives likened in scale to a murder investigation, or terrorist attack.

The manhunt entered its fifth day on Monday, with a £20,000 reward for anyone with information leading to Ezedi’s arrest.

More than 200 calls have been received from the public with potential sightings but they have since been discounted.

Det Supt Rick Sewart said the investigation had been made more difficult by the fact Ezedi did not have his phone with him.

He said: “It is always more difficult to crack a manhunt when [the suspect] doesn’t have their mobile phone on them.

“If we are in a situation whereby he is being held at one specific address, that clearly could last for several weeks if he is being fed and watered by somebody and wants to lie low.”

Officers recovered the device from the white Hyundai he allegedly used in the attack and said it was “subject to ongoing forensic examination”.

It also emerged that Ezedi was not the father of the two children who were injured in the attack. Detectives have been unable to establish the extent of his relationship with the mother.

Children have been discharged

The woman, who is said to live in London, is still in a critical condition and may lose the sight in her right eye. Her children have now been discharged.

It is understood that the woman is also Afghan but it is not known when she travelled to the UK.

Ezedi was convicted of sex offences in 2018 in Newcastle but was allowed to remain in the country because the sentence was not severe enough to reach the threshold for deportation.

He was twice refused asylum before being granted leave to remain in 2021 or 2022 after a priest vouched for his conversion to Christianity and argued he was “wholly committed” to his new religion.

Foreign national offenders only qualify for deportation if they are sentenced to – or have served – an immediate custodial sentence of 12 months or more under Home Office rules.

Detectives described Ezedi as a “very dangerous offender” who had caused “horrific injuries to a mother which will have a life-changing impact on her and her children”.

Police said that on the day of the attack Ezedi left Newcastle in the early hours of Wednesday and travelled south to London, and was in the Tooting area by around 6.30am.

His car was seen again in Croydon, south London, at around 4.30pm and by 7pm he was in Streatham.

At 7.25pm he launched the attack before attempting to drive away from the scene, crashing into a stationary vehicle and fleeing on foot.

Minutes later he boarded a Tube train at Clapham South station and by 8pm he was at King’s Cross station.

He was caught on CCTV at 9.33pm at Tower Hill Underground station in east London before the final sighting on Southwark Bridge.

Snow could cut off UK’s rural communities as temperatures plummet

A band of snow across large parts of England could cut off rural communities this week, the Met Office has warned.

Most of northern England, Wales and the Midlands are under a yellow weather warning for snow on Thursday and Friday as cold air from the north causes temperatures to drop.

The snow could trigger power cuts and could cut off some rural communities, the weather service warned. Delayed or cancelled rail and air travel is also likely.

Chris Almond, Met Office deputy chief meteorologist, said: “It’s from Thursday that the snow risk becomes more potentially impactful, as mild air attempts to move back in from the south, bumping into the cold air and increasing the chance of snow developing on the leading edge.”

The initial snow risk is highest in northern England and Wales from Thursday, with 1-2cm possible on low levels and potentially up to 20cm over the highest ground.

Yellow weather warning for snow runs until 3am on Friday

The Met Office said the snow could transition from sleet and rain later on from the south.

The yellow weather warning for snow runs from 3am on Thursday to 3am on Friday and stretches from Cumbria and the Scottish border down to Cambridgeshire and the Midlands in England.

All of northern and central Wales, including Anglesey, is included in the warning.

“While there are still lots of details to work out, the initial snow risk looks highest in northern England and Wales from Thursday,” Mr Almond said.

Meanwhile, western Scotland, and much of England and Wales is expected to have rain on Tuesday, which will largely clear by Wednesday, the Met Office expects.

Jocelyn became the tenth named storm in five months

The snow comes during the busiest storm season since the UK began naming storms in 2015.

Jocelyn became the tenth named storm in five months when it hit the country in late January with gusts of up to 97mph.

The Met Office said on Monday that February could be “remarkable on many fronts” when it comes to the weather, as an exceptionally mild and wet start changes to very cold air from Scandinavia.

Paul Davies, the Met Office’s principal meteorologist said sea temperatures off the north-west African coast “are currently comparable to values more typical for July”.

He added that the end of the week would bring “with winds switching north and drawing very cold air from the Arctic, initially arriving across Scotland, Northern Ireland and Northern England later this week and then heading further south into southern England”.

He added: “This may mean a significant contrast between the recent weekend, and next weekend with spring-like conditions one weekend and the potential for wintry hazards, especially in those regions susceptible to east and northeasterly winds across  northern parts of the UK next weekend.”

RAF hero soars again – 102 years old, doing 210 knots flying a Spitfire

It’s almost impossible for younger generations to imagine the skies being filled with the roar of Spitfires, let alone fathom the idea of signing up to go to war.

Jack Hemmings, 102, doesn’t recall feeling frightened when he joined the RAF in 1940 at 18 – he trusted the training would prepare him for whatever the war threw at him.

Going to war “made me grow up a bit, I suppose”, said Jack, a Second World War veteran and former RAF Squadron Leader, who on Monday became the oldest pilot ever to fly a Spitfire.

A bomber pilot, he was stationed in Kolkata with 353 Squadron to protect the Bay of Bengal and the coast of Burma (as it was then known) until 1946, and received the Air Force Cross for “exemplary gallantry while flying”.

Last month, Gen Sir Patrick Sanders, Chief of the General Staff, implored ministers to “mobilise the nation”, suggesting the country’s defences could be strengthened by bringing back conscription, which was suspended in 1960.

What could younger generations learn from that of Jack? “Who’s to say that our generation was any better than theirs?” he said, speaking before his flight in the Heritage Hangar at Biggin Hill airfield. “But by and large I think the present generation are a bit scatty.”

He added: “Going to war, your mind is concentrating on what you’re doing, which is your part in the war […] You apply your mind to your task and do it as well as you can.”

Back then, you relied on your squadron and your training to get you through, he said. “You’re trained to meet all circumstances. If there’s a new circumstance, that’s what you’re trained for – to work out what the problem is, put it right and get back.”

On the airfield at Biggin Hill, as the Spitfire roared into life on Monday, you could feel the judder of its powerful Merlin engine. But as soon as you take flight, Jack said, soaring into the air at 210 knots, aiming for the clouds, it’s a different story – there is a great sense of peace that comes with being airborne. “Once you’re on the ground and away from controlled airspace, the sky is yours, you get all sorts of emotions.

“Sometimes it’s just pleasure at a lovely outlook. Other times it’s relief when you maybe weren’t quite sure where you were.”

Now it was his turn to find out what all the fuss was about

It has been 84 years since Jack, now a grandfather-of-three, first took to the skies.

He might not have been fazed by much at 18, but at 102, you could have forgiven him for being somewhat daunted by the prospect of clambering into a cockpit on a freezing, windswept airfield and taking flight.

But as soon as the signal came to board, he bounded out of his wheelchair and strode towards the aircraft in his khaki flying suit with the vim and vigour of a man at least 20 years younger.

In 1940, he would have rolled his eyes at the Spitfire lads, he said, deeming them “fighter boys” and “kids”.

Now, it was his turn to find out what all the fuss was about.

Speaking before the flight, he wondered if he might find a Spitfire – a slip of a thing compared to the aircraft he flew in the war – easier to handle.

“I expect I’ll find it vastly more manoeuvrable but of course there will be limits on the manoeuvres we can do. I’m sure they’ll want to keep it fairly straight and level.”

Jack is one of just two remaining members of his squadron

Not that he planned to pass up the chance for a few aerobatics – it seems you’re never too old to use the heavens as a playground. “I love aerobatics,” he admitted, smiling broadly. “I suppose it’s the pleasure of starting off straight and level and upsetting that situation and putting it right.”

This year will mark 80 years since the Battle of Kohima – the turning point of the Japanese offensive into India, where Jack was stationed. He is one of just two remaining members of his squadron.

Did he expect his former comrades to be in his thoughts when he took to the skies? He is far too pragmatic for all that. When you’re in the air, he said, “you’re busy doing what you’re supposed to do”. 

“I’m not going to sit there and think of other times. This time is the important one.”

Monday’s flight was by no means the first time in 80 years Jack had been airborne. He bought a small aircraft after his retirement. On his 100th birthday in 2021, he performed an aerobatic display in a Slingsby Firefly – a surprise gift from his wife, Kate.

In 2022, he flew a 1947 Gemini – the same model he took to Africa in 1948 in what was the first British mission to assess humanitarian needs in isolated communities dotted across the continent.

Setting out with a map, a compass and only the River Nile as their guide, he and his friend Stuart King, who had been at D-Day, visited more than 100 mission outposts which were separated from vital resources by jungles and deserts.

Jack wore a look of pure contentment on his face

They crashed on a Burundi mountainside; a moment Jack (who once nicknamed himself “Crasher Jack”) remembers vividly.

“The surprising thing was we smacked the ground at 100 miles an hour, into a totally undeveloped hillside.

“We could have gone straight into an enormous boulder or tree but we went into rough ground and didn’t burst into flames and the lid in the door opened quite simply.

“Neither of us was injured except I had a bruise on my thigh where it hit the throttle and Stuart had a cut on his little finger. It couldn’t have been more minimal.”

They founded Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF), the world’s largest humanitarian air service, which still flies all over the world delivering aid and medical help in low income countries.

Coming into land after his 30-minute flight, Jack wore a look of pure contentment on his face.

His co-pilot, Barry Hughes, had handed over the controls mid-flight. “I don’t think he’s lost his touch,” said Mr Hughes.

How did Jack find it? “Absolutely delightful,” he said, beaming as the propellers slowed and the roof of the cockpit lifted.

“Slightly heavier than I expected. We were flying at about 210 knots which is faster than I used to fly in my Air Force days. I was a bit rusty. Not surprisingly, as I am rusty.”

Drill rapper who owned suspected XL Bully dogs that mauled grandmother to death granted bail

A drill rapper has been released on bail following his arrest after his two suspected XL Bullies mauled a woman to death while she was visiting her grandson.

Esther Martin, 68, was found seriously injured and is believed to have been attacked by two of the now-banned breed at a house in Jaywick Sands, near Clacton-on-Sea.

The pensioner died at the scene, and Ashley Warren, a drill rapper who goes by the name Wyless Man and is said to have eight dogs, was arrested for dangerous dogs offences.

He has now been released on conditional bail until March 5, Essex Police said.

Officers said they were working with experts to confirm the breed of the dogs, although Mr Warren posted a Facebook advert in November selling XL Bully puppies for £500.

The victim’s daughters, Sonia Martin and Kelly Fretwell, said the dogs involved were XL Bullies, and that there were a total of six puppies and two adult dogs in the property.

Acting Det Supt Stuart Truss said: “We’re making good progress in our investigation into Esther’s death.

“It is an investigation with a number of complexities, but we are determined to give Esther’s family the answers they need.

“We are working with experts to confirm the breed of the dogs. This may take some days but it’s really important we get it right.

“I would ask people not to speculate about this element – we will establish the facts and we will keep the community in Jaywick updated.”

He added: “We’re continuing to support Esther’s family. They have asked to be able to grieve in peace.”

Members of the public tried to rescue Ms Martin during the attack at around 4pm on Saturday before the dogs were shot dead by police.

Neighbours said they saw a man attempting to smash his way into the property with a spade after going to check on the woman and seeing blood on the walls.

XL Bullies were banned in England and Wales in January and it is a criminal offence to own one of the dogs without a certificate.

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

However, there are no rules around muzzling when the dogs are on their owner’s private property.

Guidance published by the Government in November provides a minimum height for a dog to be classed as an XL Bully – 20in at the shoulders for a male and 19in for a female, and 32 physical characteristics the dog could have.