The Telegraph 2024-02-06 12:00:30


Live King Charles cancer diagnosis: Prince Harry returning ‘could help heal royal rift’– latest updates

The Duke of Sussex’s return to the UK could help heal the rift within the Royal family, commentators have said. 

The Duke, 39, is expected to arrive in London later today after being pictured at a private terminal in Los Angeles Airport on Monday evening. His return comes after the King contacted him personally, along with the Prince of Wales, to tell him of his cancer diagnosis.

Royal watchers say his presence could help ease familial tensions. Hugo Vickers, a royal author, said the move could work as a “tonic”. Ingrid Seward, a royal biographer, said it “often takes illness, or death, to solder these very tricky family relationships”, following the King’s health scare.

Grant Harrold, a former butler to the King, echoed this and said there was “no doubt” the diagnosis would bring the family closer together again.

Follow the latest updates below

Live Middle East crisis live: Houthis launch missiles at British and US ships

Yemen’s Houthis claim to have struck US and British ships in two separate missile attacks in the Red Sea.

In a statement, Yahya Saree, the Houthi spokesman, said: “The first attack targeted the American ship Star Nasia, while the other targeted the British ship Morning Tide.”

Ambrey, a security firm, had earlier reported a drone attack on a British-owned cargo ship.

The Houthis have attacked dozens of international vessels in the Red Sea, prompting air strikes from the US and UK on targets in Yemen.

Follow the latest updates

Live ‘There’s a grand revolution’, Rees-Mogg tells Popular Conservatism group launch – watch live

Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg told the launch event of the Popular Conservatism group that he believed there is a “grand revolution going on”. 

The former business secretary said: “Electors across the world haver realised that the age of ‘Davos Man’ is over, of international cabals and quangos telling millions, hundreds of millions of people how to lead their lives.”

Pointing to the recent election in Argentina and farmer protests in France, the former business secretary said: “Voters have had enough and they are saying ‘up with this, I will not put’.” 

He added: “It is not just in this country that people are entirely fed up with this internationalist, unaccountable approach to governing.” 

You can follow the latest updates below and join the conversation in the comments section here.

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.