INDEPENDENT 2024-03-26 01:04:37


Graphic footage shows suspect in Moscow concert attack ‘being force-fed own ear’

Footage that appears to show the torture of suspects in the Moscow concert hall attack during which more than 130 people were killed is circulating in Russia, although the Kremlin is refusing to answer questions about the videos. A total of 97 people remain in hospital, officials said.

One of the films appears to show security forces cutting off the ear of one of the suspects and trying to feed it to him, while another shows a man apparently being subjected to electric shocks to his groin. A third shows security forces beating a man with their rifle butts and kicking him as he lies in the snow. Isis has claimed the attack, and has released graphic video footage of the attackers firing on the crowd inside the concert hall.

Four men appeared in court over the weekend and were charged in relation to the attack. They appeared to have been beaten, and one of the suspects had heavy bandaging to his right ear. Another had to be brought into the courtroom in a wheelchair.

The four suspects were named by Russian authorities as Dalerdzhon Mirzoyev, 32, Saidakrami Murodali Rachabalizoda, 30, Shamsidin Fariduni, 25, and Muhammadsobir Fayzov, 19.

The men the court identified during the proceedings as Mr Mirzoyev and Mr Rachabalizoda both had black eyes. Mr Rachabalizoda appeared with the bandage on his right ear. The face of the man identified as Mr Fariduni was badly swollen.

Mr Fariduni said in an interrogation video published on social media that he had arrived from Turkey on 4 March. He was trembling while being questioned by the side of a road, with his hands tied behind his back. He said that he had “shot people” in Crocus City Hall “for money”, having been offered 500,000 roubles (£4,300) by a person he did not identify.

The man named as Mr Fayzov appeared to lose consciousness as he was brought into court in a wheelchair. Photographs circulating online on Sunday appeared to show Mr Fayzov with one of his eyes missing.

The men were officially identified as citizens of Tajikistan, Russia’s Tass state news agency said. A court statement on the Telegram messaging service said Mr Mirzoyev had “admitted his guilt in full”, while Mr Rachabalizoda had also “admitted guilt”. All four were remanded in pre-trial custody until May.

The men were caught about 14 hours after the attack in the southern Bryansk region, around 400km (250 miles) southwest of Moscow, when they fled a vehicle and tried to reach a nearby forest.

When asked about the videos showing alleged torture of the suspects, the Kremlin’s spokesperson, Dmitri Peskov, refused to comment.

Russian authorities say at least 137 people were killed in the Moscow attack and close to another 200 were injured. It constitutes the deadliest attack claimed by Isis in Europe – and the worst such attack in Russia for two decades.

On Monday, French president Emmanuel Macron said that the Isis branch behind the attack, known as Khorasan Province (Isis-K), had previously attempted attacks on France, as he agreed with the US assessment that Isis-K was behind the act of terror. Isis-K frequently criticises Russian president Vladimir Putin in its propaganda.

“The information available to us … as well as to our main partners, indicates indeed that it was an entity of the Islamic State [Isis] which instigated this attack,” Mr Macron said during a visit to French Guiana. “This specific group … had over the past months attempted attacks on our soil,” he said.

French prime minister Gabriel Attal later said these foiled attacks had included a plot involving the city of Strasbourg in eastern France. “The claim of responsibility for the [Moscow] attack by a branch of Islamic State that planned attacks in European countries including France prompted us to increase the Vigipirate [security threat assessment] to its highest level,” Mr Attal said, speaking from a Paris railway station about the decision to raise the terror threat level on Sunday night. “We will deploy exceptional means everywhere on [French] territory,” he added.

On Monday, Italy’s interior ministry said it was also stepping up police activity. “In anticipation of the upcoming Easter holidays, an intensification of surveillance and control activities by the police has been agreed,” a statement said, adding that special attention would be given to “all sensitive targets”.

Russian MPs have called on those found guilty of the attack in Moscow to face capital punishment. Dmitry Medvedev, an ally of Mr Putin who served a term as Russia’s president from 2008 to 2012 and has become increasingly strident since Russia sent its troops into Ukraine two years ago, discussed the detained suspects on his Telegram channel on Monday.

“They have been caught. Kudos to all who were chasing them. Should they be killed? They should. And it will happen,” he wrote.

“But it is more important to kill everyone involved. Everyone. Those who paid, those who sympathised, those who helped. Kill them all.”

Russia’s prime minister, Mikhail Mishustin, said that “the perpetrators will be punished” and that “they do not deserve mercy”.

Russia has had a moratorium on capital punishment since the 1990s, but it remains on the statute book. No executions have been carried out since 1996, when the president at the time, Boris Yeltsin, issued a decree establishing the moratorium, which was explicitly confirmed by the Constitutional Court in 1999. Russia’s penal code currently allows for the death penalty for five offences: murder, genocide, and attempted murder of either a judge, police officer or state official.

“Now many people are asking questions about the death penalty. This topic, of course, will be deeply, professionally, meaningfully studied,” Vladimir Vasilyev, parliamentary leader of the United Russia faction in the lower house of parliament, was quoted by Tass media as saying on Saturday.

However, Mr Peskov told reporters that the Kremlin is “not taking part in this discussion at the moment”.

Russian officials have been slow to acknowledge the claim by Isis. On Sunday, Mr Putin instead claimed that the attackers were trying to reach Ukraine, though he did not offer any evidence of this. Mr Putin said some people on “the Ukrainian side” had been prepared to spirit the gunmen across the border.

Ukraine has denied any role in the attack. Its president, Volodymyr Zelensky, has accused Mr Putin of seeking to divert blame for the attack by mentioning Ukraine, which is defending itself against an invasion by Russian forces that Mr Putin launched in February 2022.

Mr Peskov said in his news conference on Monday that it was inappropriate to comment on the Isis claim until an investigation had been completed. Later in the day, Mr Putin called the attack an act of terrorism “committed by radical Islamists”. But he again tried to pin some of the blame on Kyiv.

The White House strongly dismissed the suggestion of a link to Ukraine. “There was no linkage to Ukraine. This is just more Kremlin propaganda,” said White House spokesperson John Kirby.

Mr Macron warned Russia against trying to exploit the attack by blaming Ukraine. “I think that it would be both cynical and counterproductive for Russia itself and the security of its citizens to use this context to try and turn it against Ukraine,” he said, adding that France had offered help to find the culprits.

“We have offered to increase cooperation with the Russian [intelligence] services and our partners in the region, so that the culprits can be found as quickly as possible and so that we continue to fight effectively against these groups which are targeting several countries,” Mr Macron said.

Mr Peskov said Russia’s security services had not accepted any help from the West. “No, our security services are working on their own; no assistance is currently on the table,” he said. Eleven people have been detained in connection to the attack so far, according to Russian officials.

Counterterrorism researcher Lucas Webber said that Isis had been “focused on outreach efforts to central Asia since the mid-2010s, finding success in recruitment, fundraising, and violent incitement”. He added that Isis-K had been the terror group’s “most internationally minded branch”, and that it had created Uzbek, Tajik, and Russian-language media wings to build support. He added that Isis-K-linked plots had been foiled in Kyrgyzstan, Germany, Austria, and Sweden since last year.

Rishi Sunak facing another by-election as lobbying sting MP Scott Benton quits

Tory MP Scott Benton is quitting parliament almost a year after being embroiled in a lobbying sting.

The Blackpool South MP has written to Jeremy Hunt with “a heavy heart” tendering his resignation, meaning Rishi Sunak faces another tricky by-election in the seat.

His departure comes as a recall petition in his seat was ongoing, Benton having been suspended from the parliament after allegedly being caught offering to lobby ministers on behalf of gambling investors in exchange for money.

He was expected to be recalled from parliament by his constituents and face a by-election in the seat, which he would have been likely to lose.

Mr Benton won the seat, which had been held since 1997 by Labour, for the Tories under Boris Johnson in 2019. He had a narrow majority of just 3,690, and with the Conservatives currently trailing Labour in the national polls by 22 points, he was expected to lose the seat in a by-election later this year.

His immediate resignation, rather than waiting for the recall petition to conclude next month, will bring forward the contest.

In his statement, Mr Benton said: “It’s with a heavy heart that I have written to the Chancellor this morning to tender my resignation as your MP.

“I have always sought to do what I believed to be in the best interests of Blackpool, and of our country. In 2019, I pledged to be an active, hardworking and relatable MP who would listen to your concerns and views and act upon them.

“I’d like to think that I have more than succeeded in that aim.”

The chancellor, Mr Hunt, confirmed he had appointed Mr Benton to be Steward and Bailiff of the Manor of Northstead under parliament’s arcane rules for MPs who want to quit. It is expected that the Blackpool South contest will take place on the same day as the local elections on 2 May.

In February, Mr Benton was suspended from the House of Commons for 35 days after being found to have breached the rules.

The House of Commons committee on standards found the MP had given the impression he was “corrupt” and “for sale” after he was secretly filmed saying he could table parliamentary questions and provide “behind the scenes” information for up to £4,000 a month.

Mr Benton was prepared to leak market-sensitive information to an investment fund and ask parliamentary questions on its behalf, in breach of parliamentary lobbying rules, an undercover investigation for The Times found.

He was caught on camera telling undercover reporters posing as investors how he was willing to take actions that would break Parliament’s lobbying rules.

In a meeting in March 2023, Mr Benton described how he could support a fake investment fund, which he believed was set up by an Indian businessman looking to make investments in the UK betting and gaming sector, by attempting to water down proposed gambling reforms.

Mr Benton also offered a “guarantee” to provide a copy of an upcoming gambling white paper to the business at least two days before publication, potentially allowing it to benefit from market-sensitive information.

He also said he could table parliamentary written questions and said he had previously done it on behalf of a company.

Mr Benton said he could offer “the direct ear of a minister who is actually going to make these decisions” and speak to them outside the Commons voting lobby.

The MP agreed with a fee proposed by the reporters in the range of £2,000 to £4,000 a month for two days’ work.

The contest in Mr Benton’s seat will be the latest challenge for Mr Sunak, who has faced a slew of brutal by-election defeats in the past year, including in Peter Bone’s former constituency of Wellingborough and Chris Skidmore’s old seat of Kingswood.

UK investigating claim Hamas attack survivors discriminated against

The UK is investigating claims that survivors of Hamas’s attack on Israel were discriminated against when they arrived at Manchester Airport, James Cleverly said.

The Home Secretary announced the probe in response to a call from the Jewish Representative Council of Greater Manchester and Region to investigate the allegations.

The council said it was made aware that two Israeli nationals, who survived the deadly October 7 terrorist attack on the Nova Music Festival, experienced discriminatory treatment by Border Force officers when they landed at Manchester Airport on Sunday.

They came to the UK to raise awareness for a non-profit organisation they founded to help survivors of terror attacks, the council said.

In a letter posted to X, the Jewish Representative Council wrote: “Upon arrival, when Border Patrol noticed they were travelling with Israeli passports, they were asked why they had come to Manchester.

“They responded that as survivors of the Nova Music Festival, they had been invited to share their experiences with the Jewish community in Manchester.

“They were informed that they would need to be questioned.

“The only reason for their detention and interrogation was because they are Israeli.”

The council said they were detained for two hours, and that it was in possession of a video showing a male officer “speaking in aggressive terms” and in a “demeaning” tone to the two men.

When released, a Border Patrol officer said “they had to make sure that you are not going to do what you are doing in Gaza over here”, the letter alleged.

Mr Cleverly replied on the social media platform: “We are investigating this.

“We do not tolerate antisemitism or any form of discrimination.

“This incident will be handled in line with our disciplinary procedures.”

The Jewish Representative Council had tweeted: “We have been made aware that survivors of the 7th October terrorist attack on the Re’Im Music Festival were discriminated against by @UKBorder when arriving @manairport.

“We have requested an urgent investigation is commenced and assurances are received to ensure passengers with Israeli passports are able to travel without discrimination.

“Thank you to the team at Manchester Airport, as we are aware they have immediately acknowledged and recognised the severity of the allegations contained within our correspondence.

“This issue primarily rests with the Home Secretary and we call upon @JamesCleverly and @ukhomeoffice to ensure this matter is dealt with as a matter of urgency.”

Manchester Airport has been contacted for comment.

World-first new medal launched after King gives approval

A world-first new medal has been announced by the Defence Secretary.

The medal is set to recognise personnel who fulfil “crucial operational roles” but are not necessarily exposed to physical threats.

According to the Ministry of Defence, the Wider Service Medal (WSM) will be the first award for those whose duties are outside traditional “risk-and-rigour” criteria.

The King has approved the WSM and recipients could include those deployed on the UK’s continuous at-sea nuclear deterrent, the MoD added.

Defence Secretary Grant Shapps said: “Our modern armed forces are among the best in the world and do incredible work across the globe.

“The Wider Service Medal recognises the wide range of roles our personnel play in ensuring success on operations.

“It also recognises the ever-changing nature of warfare, underlining the importance of operations which deter adversaries in a pre-war world.”

A Tudor crown on the medal symbolises the monarch’s “central role and inspiration” for government, armed forces and the Civil Service, the MoD said.

The image is circled by text that reads “For Wider Service”.

Arrows pointing from the crown indicate “reaching out across the world in all directions” and the surrounding laurel wreath denotes service and achievement, it added.

The ribbon has a central purple stripe with four narrow stripes on either side.

Purple is said to symbolise government and the colours of the finer lines represent the multiple departments that make up its operations.

Land is green, sea is dark blue, and air light blue.

Army personnel, Royal Air Force pilots and supporting ground crew aiding Nato’s air policing patrol in Estonia and Romania will be eligible for the WSM, the MoD said.

Members of the Royal Navy deployed in the Middle East could also receive one.

Recipients must contribute to the UK’s military objectives and have served uninterrupted for 180 days on eligible operations be recognised.

Those who serve a further 180 days will be awarded a bar for the medal and can have up to three.

The first award will be in early summer and those who served in ongoing operations as far back as December 2018 will qualify.

Snow and freezing rain to hit UK in ‘rare’ weather phenomenon

The UK is set for snow and could even be hit by freezing rain in what the Met Office calls a “rare” weather phenomenon.

The forecaster has warned Britons to brace themselves for the likelihood of colder temperatures in the upcoming days, which could drop below freezing in some areas, in unexpected contrast to the recent warmer climes that seemed to be signalling the start of spring.

The Met Office said Scotland can expect the coldest temperatures, as well as rain, sleet and potentially heavy snow over hills on Tuesday.

While 1-3cm of slushy sleet or snow could settle on Scottish roads above 250m by Tuesday morning, up to 5cm of snowfall is possible above 300m and as much as 10cm of snow could fall above 450m in parts of northern and eastern Scotland.

This rain and snow across central and eastern Scotland will turn more showery through Tuesday, according to the forecaster, with the snow on the roads expected to melt later in the morning due to the strength of the sun in late March.

It added that snow is also possible on Wednesday, potentially falling on high ground in Scotland. Meanwhile, most areas will see rain or showers during the day, with the heaviest rain likely in the far north of the UK.

When it comes to temperatures, they are likely to drop close to 0C in the northern half of Scotland, perhaps as low as -4C in some spots, but staying in low single figures further south. Highs of 2-6C will be experienced widely in Scotland on Tuesday, whereas highs of 12-14C will be felt across much of England and Wales.

Ellie Glaisyer, senior operational meteorologist at the Met Office, said there is a “very small possibility” of freezing rain briefly over the hills in Scotland overnight on Monday too.

The Met Office explains the “rare” phenomenon on its website: “Very often, precipitation first falls from a cloud as snow (when it is cold enough high up where the cloud is). If it falls through warmer air before reaching the ground, it can melt and turn to rain droplets.

“On rare occasions, if it then falls through cold air again just before hitting the ground, the droplets can become ‘supercooled’ and this means that they are still falling in liquid form, even though their temperature has fallen below zero. When this ‘supercooled’ droplet hits the ground (which is below zero too) it spreads out a little on landing, and then instantly freezes, encasing the surface in a layer of clear ice. This is why it is called freezing rain.”

Looking ahead to the rest of the weekend and towards the Easter weekend, the Met Office said the UK will see a typical mix of spring weather with periods of showers, rain and winds, as well as some sunny spells at times. Unsettled conditions are the main theme of the forecast through much of the week, with low pressure exerting its influence, bringing periods of rain from the west, some of which could be heavy in nature.

While the forecaster said details are still being worked out ahead of the Easter weekend, Good Friday is likely to see another day of blustery showers, with these being more frequent in the south and west.

Saturday sees a continuation of this showery theme in southern and western areas, though there is an increasing chance of brighter spells further north and east. It will also become less windy, and temperatures should start to trend upwards, feeling quite warm in any sunshine.

History, heritage, cuisine and culture in Split, Croatia

Historical buildings, pine forest hills and breathtaking views of the Adriatic Sea are just a few things to expect on a fun-filled trip to the old-world coastal city of Split. This ancient sliver of the country is steeped in eclectic history and blessed with abundant natural beauty, a dynamic food scene, and more cultural attractions you can shake a stick at. It’s an all-rounder, ideal to visit no matter the season and even for a quick city break since there are plenty of direct flights from UK cities, including Birmingham, Bristol, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, London and Manchester. Here’s our must-see, must-do guide to this stunning city…

Split is Croatia’s sportiest city, often referred to as The City of Sport, thanks to the number of professional athletes that hail from the city. In fact, Split is the city with the highest number of Olympic medal winners per capita. You can see their names proudly presented on Sports Walk of Fame on the city’s west coast, including Wimbledon champion Goran Ivanišević, double world high jump champion Blanka Vlašić, and ex–NBA star Toni Kukoč.

Catch a basketball game featuring the legendary KK Split, one of the most successful clubs in Europe, at the Gripe Sports Hall, or watch a football match with HNK Hajduk Split at the Poljud Stadium to feel the electrifying passion of local fans. If you’d rather participate, take advantage of Split’s drop-dead coastal location by trying windsurfing, kayaking, paddle boarding or sailing; many places offer equipment rental or lessons. Or, to keep it traditional, try your hand at ‘picigin’ – a local ball game from Split that is played at the beach.

For a more cerebral experience, immerse yourself in the city’s rich history, from Roman walls to UNESCO heritage sites and historical Old Towns. Wander through preserved Roman streets lined with Gothic and Renaissance buildings and visit the oldest cathedral building in the world, Diocletian’s Palace, built between 295 and 305 A.D. The beautiful basement halls here (more commonly known as the substructures) are one of the world’s best-preserved complexes from the era of classical antiquity and central to the historical centre of Split being added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 1979.

Dip your toe into the world of Croatian art at the Ivan Meštrović Gallery, wholly dedicated to the sculptor himself, renowned for his powerful and expressive works. There’s also the Museum of Croatian Archaeological Monuments, which delves deep into the city’s history across more than 20,000 artefacts. Plus, the museum itself is an architectural masterpiece.

If you want to learn all about the city’s history and citizens, the City Museum of Split is a must-visit. It was founded in 1947 at the stunning palace of the Papalić family and is a stunning example of late-Gothic style architecture.

There’s also the Ethnographic Museum of Split, situated inside a former residential complex in the southeastern quarter of Diocletian’s Palace. The museum holds a vast collection of artefacts that showcase the traditional way of life, customs, and cultural practices of the people of the Dalmatia region and beyond. You’ll find everything from household items and religious objects to traditional tools and clothing.

Leave some time in your itinerary to explore the city’s natural wonders and incredible beaches. Ideally situated on the Adriatic coast, Split houses some of Croatia’s finest and most picturesque beaches. Bačvice Beach is one of the most popular in the area, perfect for shallow bathing and basking in the sun; plus, there are many bars and restaurants along the front, and concerts take place throughout the summer months.

There’s also Bene Beach, located on the northeastern part of the leafy Marjan Forest Park, often referred to as the green oasis of Split. It’s usually a little quieter, so it’s perfect for finding a secluded spot, sheltered beautifully by the trees that border the shoreline. Hiking or biking in the forest park Marjan is also a great way to experience the natural landscape of the Dalmatian Coast. You can follow many routes through fragrant pine forests and scenic viewpoints – the Marjan Hill Viewpoint overlooks the entire Old Town. Finish off with a dip in the sea to cool off.

Kašjuni Beach is known for being particularly beautiful, surrounded by lush greenery and rocky cliffs. It tends to be a little quieter and less crowded with calm, crystal-clear water, ideal for snorkelling and swimming. While on the southern side of Marjan, you’ll find Kaštelet Beach, a small but peaceful fine-pebbled beach with shallow banks, perfect for dipping in and out of between basking in the sun.

Follow the scenic coastal promenade from the city centre, and you’ll eventually reach Trstenik, home to a well-equipped, picturesque beach popular amongst water sports enthusiasts. Here, you can enjoy windsurfing, kitesurfing, kayaking, paddle boarding and more. The surrounding neighbourhood is chock full of restaurants, shops and places to stay should you want to spend a few nights here.

Split also serves as an ideal hub for day excursions, offering easy access to the stunning Dalmatian islands and hinterland, each brimming with natural and cultural treasures. From the city, you can visit several of Dalmatia’s spectacular islands, including Brac, Hvar, Vis, Solta and many more. Bisevo Island is one of the most popular to visit, where the remains of a 1050 AD Benedictine monastery lay, and the Blue Cave, one of the must-see natural attractions in the country, renowned for its incredible glowy sun rays that shine through cracks in the cave, creating a magical blue glimmer.

Just a half-hour drive from the city centre, you’ll find idyllic hiking trails on mountains such as Mosor, Kozjak, and Biokovo. There’s also the Cetina River, where you can participate in heart-pumping rafting and canyoning adventures.

As a cultural hub, Split boasts a diverse timetable of not-to-be-missed events throughout the year, including Sudamja, Stories of Diocletian, Advent – Winter Joys, Split Summer Festival, the Split Carnival, Month of Gastronomy and the Split Marathon.  In recent years, the city has also emerged as a sought-after filming destination, hosting productions such as Game of Thrones and the Dark Tower movie. So it’s pretty fitting that the city is home to the Mediterranean Film Festival and the International Festival of New Film.

Food-wise, Croatia’s diverse and delicious cuisine varies significantly from region to region, with coastal areas focusing more on seafood dishes like grilled fish, octopus salad, and black risotto. Learn all about Croatian fare at a local cookery class, where you’ll get to sample and make delicious dishes and take recipes back home.

Split’s culinary scene is constantly evolving, with many restaurants opening in the city, especially in the historic centre and its surroundings. Several restaurants have been recognised by the world-famous Michelin Guide, but there are many more worth visiting, with menus brimming with local Mediterranean cuisine, often with a creative twist added by some of Croatia’s best chefs. Most of the local restaurants’ menus are made with regional, fresh produce, including just-caught seafood.

For an authentic Croatian experience and the most local atmosphere, travellers should dine at a traditional tavern-style konoba restaurant, the Dalmatian version of a tavern, where you can enjoy fresh fish and seafood and popular local meat dishes.

The local diet is also rich in seasonal vegetables, which vegetarians can enjoy in many of the city’s restaurants, with plenty of spots specialising in vegetarian and vegan fare.

Wine and olive oil are essential components of Split’s gastronomic makeup, meaning that restaurants are always stocked with exceptional Croatian wines, particularly those produced within Dalmatia. You can enjoy them with dinner or at a local wine tasting.

If you’re looking for local produce, Ribarnica is stocked with fresh seafood plucked out of the neighbouring Adriatic Sea. While Pazar Green Market is the place to go for fresh fruit, vegetables, herbs, cheese, cured meat, honey, and sweet treats, for delicious eats you can sample on the spot, or take home for a slice of Split you can reminisce with.

For more Split travel ideas and inspiration, head to Visit Split or check out Instagram or Facebook

China has soured what was once a promising relationship

Speaking, appropriately enough, at the launch of a new generation of nuclear-powered and armed submarines in Barrow, the prime minister warned of the “epoch-defining challenge” from China. With palpable frustration, Rishi Sunak declared that the country is “behaving in an increasingly assertive way abroad” and that it represents “the greatest state-based threat to our economic security”.

He is entirely right about that. The curious case of the Electoral Commission hack in 2021, blamed by the security services on Chinese actors, confirms just how keen these agents are on probing the digital infrastructure of the British state, and, in this instance, harvesting the personal details of 40 million voters.

More targeted has been their fairly blatant hijacking of the email accounts of parliamentarians such as Sir Iain Duncan Smith and crossbench peer David Alton. They then impersonated them in almost comically crude fashion – proving that even a superpower has its limits.

Is the Tory commitment to the triple lock on pensions a good idea?

In what may yet prove a more significant move than his cuts to national insurance, the chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, has said the Conservatives will retain the triple lock system to determine annual rises in the state pension if they win the election. Hunt says the pledge will appear in the next Conservative manifesto. The decision raises some interesting questions…

It’s a commitment to increase the level of the state pension applicable to any given individual by either the rate of inflation (as measured by the consumer prices index); the rate at which wages are going up; or 2.5 per cent, whichever is the greater. It has been policy, with one temporary suspension, since 2010, when the idea – which the Liberal Democrats came up with – was incorporated into the policies of the coalition government and the Conservatives adopted it as their own.