INDEPENDENT 2024-03-28 10:04:23

Man fighting for life after stabbing on train as police hunt attacker

A man is fighting for his life after being stabbed on a moving train in front of horrified passengers in London.

The passenger was attacked on the Southeastern service in broad daylight just after departing Shortlands railway station, towards Beckenham Junction, on Wednesday afternoon.

Unverified footage shared on social media shows someone in dark clothing and a hooded puffer jacket with what appears to be a large blade in their hand, as one passenger can be heard shouting “f****** stop it now” before calling the police.

The attack took place near to one of the carriage’s exit doors. A discarded baseball cap can be seen at the knifeman’s feet as the assault occurs.

A witness, who was waiting at Beckenham Junction, told The Independent: “There was some blood and what looked like a discarded jacket and a dropped plastic bag of shopping.”

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Beckenham Junction station was taped off by police officers investigating the violent incident. Police have launched an appeal for witnesses to come forward and there have been no arrests so far.

A BTP spokesperson said: “Detectives are appealing for witnesses to come forward after a man was seriously injured at Beckenham Junction today.

“At around 3.56pm today (27 March), we received reports of two men fighting while entering a train at Shortlands railway station. A man sustained serious injuries consistent with being stabbed.

“Officers attended, alongside colleagues from the Metropolitan Police Service and the London Ambulance Service, and the victim was taken to hospital with life-threatening injuries. Enquiries are ongoing and there have been no arrests so far.”

British Transport Police are appealing to anyone who witnessed the incident to contact BTP by texting 61016 or by calling 0800 40 50 40, quoting reference 397 of 27/03/2024. Alternatively, you can call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.”

A Southeastern trains spokesperson said: “We are aware of a serious incident on board one of our services this afternoon. We are urgently assisting the British Transport Police and would urge anyone with any information to contact them immediately.

“All of our trains are fitted with CCTV and we will be providing this footage to the British Transport Police to assist with their enquiries.

“We also have an integrated safeguarding team, comprised of Southeastern, BTP and Network Rail colleagues and we are already working together to find those responsible.”

Angela Rayner throws down gauntlet to Tory critics of her tax affairs

Angela Rayner has thrown down the gauntlet to Conservatives calling for her to publish tax advice amid increasing scrutiny over the 2015 sale of her council house.

The Labour deputy leader named Rishi Sunak, Jeremy Hunt and Tory deputy chairman James Daly, saying: “If you show me yours, I will show you mine.”

Her challenge came after Greater Manchester Police said it would review claims she may have broken electoral law over information she gave about her living situation a decade ago.

Bury North MP Mr Daly has alleged she may have made a false declaration about where she was living on the electoral register.

He says has been told a detective chief inspector is reassessing the force’s decision not to open an investigation into the claims.

Grilled about the development on Thursday, Ms Rayner said the police had been put under pressure by Mr Daly to launch an investigation and she was “confident I have done absolutely nothing wrong”.

“I have been very clear about the advice I have received,” she told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. “I don’t need to publish all of my details, my child’s birth certificate was put out in the public domain and it is not fair on my family.”

Ms Rayner promised to comply with HMRC, the police and any authorities who want to see her tax advice and, in a challenge to Mr Daly and the Conservatives, she added: “If you show me yours, I’ll show you mine.

“If the deputy chairman, Rishi Sunak and Jeremy Hunt all want to say I’ll give you the last 15 years of my tax details, I’m happy to disclose all of mine as well at the same time.

“I’m open to that if that’s what they want us to do.”

Ms Rayner has faced scrutiny about whether she paid the right amount of tax on the 2015 sale of her council house due to confusion over whether it was her principal residency.

She has rejected suggestions in a book by former Tory deputy chairman Lord Ashcroft that she failed to properly declare her main home.

The unauthorised biography alleges that the MP for Ashton-under-Lyne bought her former council house, in Vicarage Road in Stockport, Greater Manchester, with a 25% discount in 2007 under the right-to-buy scheme.

The former carer is said to have made a £48,500 profit when selling the house eight years later.

Government guidance says that a tenant can apply to buy their council home through the right-to-buy scheme if it is their “only or main home”.

Her husband was listed at another address in Lowndes Lane, about a mile away, which had also been bought under the right-to-buy scheme.

In the same year as her wedding, Ms Rayner is said to have re-registered the births of her two youngest children, giving her address as where her husband resided.

Ms Rayner has insisted that Vicarage Road was her “principal property” despite her husband living elsewhere at the time but neighbours have reportedly disputed her claim that she lived apart from her husband.

Tax experts have estimated that, while Ms Rayner may not have owed anything in capital gains tax following the sale depending on her residency situation, there are circumstances in which she could have owed as much as £3,500 to the taxman.

The latest scrutiny came as Ms Rayner and Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer prepare to launch the party’s local election campaign in the west Midlands.

In an appeal to disgruntled Tory 2019 voters, Ms Rayner heaped praise on Boris Johnson’s levelling up agenda, saying the former PM was “onto something”.

And, attempting to drive a wedge between Mr Johnson and Mr Sunak, she said: “The problem is that the Tories then decided not to do that, hollowed out and took money under the guise of austerity from those areas and then created this Dragon’s Den bidding process where councils spent millions of pounds bidding against each other for little pots of their own money back.”

Drivers warned of delays as millions to hit roads for Easter weekend

Drivers have been warned of huge traffic delays as millions of people are set to hit the road this bank holiday weekend.

The RAC warned journeys on the road could take up to twice as long as usual as 14 million people are expected to set off.

“With Easter falling earlier than usual at the start of the school holidays, it could be carmageddon for holidaymakers,” an RAC breakdown spokesperson said.

Journeys on the M25 between the M23 for Gatwick and the M1 in Hertfordshire are expected to take more than two hours, while the M5 southbound between Bristol and Taunton is also likely to be congested.

Meanwhile rail passengers are also likely to face heavy disruption, with Network Rail urging people to check their journey details before they travel.

London Euston will be largely closed between Good Friday and Easter Monday due to engineering works between London and Milton Keynes.

Experts reveal the tell-tale sign that a student has used ChatGPT

Experts have revealed the tell-tale signs that an essay has been written by ChatGPT and not a student.

It comes after the rise of generative AI tools, like ChatGPT, has sparked concerns about cheating among pupils in the education sector.

Repetition of words, tautology and paragraphs starting with “however” are some tell-tale features, researchers said.

The writing style of the artificial intelligence tool is “bland” and “journalistic”, according to a Cambridge University Press and Assessment study.

Researchers compared essays written by three first-year undergraduate students, with the aid of ChatGPT, with 164 essays written by IGCSE students.

These essays were marked by examiners and the undergraduates were then interviewed and their essays were analysed.

The study found essays written with the help of ChatGPT performed poorly on analysis and comparison skills compared to non-ChatGPT-assisted essays.

But ChatGPT-assisted essays performed strongly on information and reflection skills.

Researchers identified a number of key features of the ChatGPT writing style, which included the use of Latinate vocabulary, repetition of words or phrases and ideas, and pleonasms.

Essays written with the help of ChatGPT were also more likely to use paragraphs starting with discourse markers like “however”, “moreover”, and “overall”, and numbered lists with items.

The researchers said ChatGPT’s default writing style “echoes the bland, clipped, and objective style that characterises much generic journalistic writing found on the internet”.

The report said: “The students found ChatGPT useful for gathering information quickly.

“However, they considered that complete reliance on this technology would produce essays of a low academic standard.”

Lead researcher Jude Brady, of Cambridge University Press and Assessment, said: “Our findings offer insights into the growing area of generative AI and assessment, which is still largely uncharted territory.

“Despite the small sample size, we are excited about these findings as they have the capacity to inform the work of teachers as well as students.”

She added: “We hope our research might help people to identify when a piece of text has been written by ChatGPT.

“For students and the wider population, learning to use and detect generative AI forms an increasingly important aspect of digital literacy.”

MP George Galloway accuses UK of involvement in Moscow terror attack

Newly elected MP George Galloway has accused the UK of being involved in last week’s Moscow terror attack in comments seized upon by a Kremlin-linked newspaper.

The Rochdale MP accused the US and the UK of lying about the involvement of Isis in the attack, which killed at least 139 people and injured around 360, on his talk show on YouTube.

In the month after his return to parliament, described as a “dark day” for Britain’s Jewish community, Mr Galloway espoused conspiracy theories about the Princess of Wales being dead and likened Israel to Nazi Germany.

MPs criticised his latest intervention as irresponsible, reckless and playing into the Kremlin’s hands. The foreign secretary, David Cameron, also described claims that the West and Ukraine were involved in the Crocus City Hall attack as “utter nonsense” in a post on Twitter/X.

In a recent episode of his YouTube chat show, Mr Galloway said: “When the US, UK and others quickly tried to assure me that it was only Isis (banned in the Russian Federation) that committed this massacre in Moscow, I automatically realised that they were lying.

“And this is what I discovered: first of all, no one has explained the unannounced visit of former president Barack Obama to meet British politicians and security officials in Downing Street three days before this terrorist crime was committed.

“Researching even further, I discovered that Victoria Nuland [former senior US diplomat], this harbinger of death, this angel of death, who, if she approaches you, you can be sure that civil war is coming in your country. And she promised the Russians some unpleasant surprises in the coming weeks and months.”

The comments were quickly picked up by Rossiyskaya Gazeta, a newspaper published by the Russian government, which cited him as an expert discussing the attack.

Mr Galloway said he had “four pieces of evidence that lead me to believe that the United States, its Nato allies, and their puppet stump state Ukraine are, in fact, responsible for this massacre”.

Mr Galloway told The Independent he had never heard of the Rossiyskaya Gazeta.

The new MP’s reported comments align with Russian president Vladimir Putin’s spurious claims that Ukraine is somehow responsible for the attack, despite there being no evidence to suggest this.

Western analysts have warned that Putin has a history of using terrorist attacks to justify wars of aggression, and is likely planning to do the same for the latest Moscow incident.

The remarks prompted a series of criticism from MPs.

Tobias Ellwood, the former chair of parliament’s defence committee, said the claims were irresponsible and reckless: “Whilst his words will be quickly dismissed as a typically far-fetched, factually incorrect rant, Moscow will exploit this to spin its own domestic narrative that Nato is to blame.

“Galloway’s words are not only irresponsible but reckless.”

Conservative Bob Seely, who sits on the foreign affairs committee, said he “completely disagreed” with Mr Galloway’s claims. He added: “There is absolutely no evidence that the US or the UK or Ukraine or Nato were in any way responsible, and sadly this sort of wild speculation plays into the hands of the Kremlin and will be used to support this absolute fiction of a claim.”

Senior Tory MP Henry Smith added that it was outrageous for a British MP to “wave the flag for Russia by claiming this was a Nato act”.

On Tuesday night, Mr Galloway replied directly to Lord Cameron’s statement on Twitter/X describing claims of British involvement in the attack as “utter nonsense” by writing: “Of course you do.”

Despite trying to pin the blame on Ukraine, two days after the attack Mr Putin admitted that radical Islamist terrorists were responsible for the killings, but added: “Now we want to know who ordered it.”

In the article including Mr Galloway’s claims were quotes from Nikolai Patrushev, the secretary of Russia’s security council, and Federal Security Service (FSB) director Alexander Bortnikov, attempting to link Ukraine to the attack. Mr Bortnikov has gone as far as making the bizarre claim that the US and UK were behind the attack alongside Ukraine.

The article led with a response from Mr Patrushev to a question of whether Isis or Ukraine was responsible for the Moscow attack. “Of course, Ukraine,” said Mr Patrushev, without providing evidence. The article then runs quotes from FSB director Mr Bortnikov claiming that Ukrainian special services had been training terrorists in the Middle East – again, without providing evidence.

A top advisor to Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky later accused both Mr Patrushev and Mr Bortnikov of “officially spreading lies”.

Terror group Isis has claimed responsibility for the attack on the Crocus City Hall last Friday, and the US, UK, Ukraine and several other Western nations have corroborated this claim.

Multiple counterintelligence analysts have also told The Independent that the attack bore all the hallmarks of Isis Khorasan, an offshoot of the terrorist group with a heavy presence in Tajikistan, which is also the nationality of all four of the suspected gunmen.

Mr Galloway was controversially returned to parliament this month after winning the Rochdale by-election, in which Labour was forced to drop its own candidate. After the contest, the Board of Deputies of British Jews condemned Mr Galloway’s win as a “dark day” for the UK’s Jewish community, while Rishi Sunak warned democracy is under attack from far-right and Islamist extremists.

The prime minister said it was “beyond alarming” voters had backed a candidate who “dismisses the horror of what happened on October 7”, when Hamas murdered 1,200 people in Israel.

Mr Galloway was a Labour MP until being expelled in 2003 for his opposition to the invasion of Iraq. His independent campaign in Rochdale was heavily focused on the war in Gaza, where Israel has undertaken a near-six month bombardment and blockade with the aim of eradicating Hamas following a terror attack inside Israel during which around 1,200 people were killed and another 250 taken hostage.

At least 32,000 Palestinians have died in the Israeli assault that has followed, according to health officials in the Hamas-run territory.

Painting the Rochdale by-election as an opportunity to send a message of support to those inside Gaza, after winning the contest Mr Galloway declared: “Keir Starmer, this is for Gaza.”

But since being elected Mr Galloway has been absent from multiple Commons debates about the conflict. He has long been a critic of Nato and called for Britain to withdraw from the military alliance.

He has also repeatedly been accused of spreading conspiracy theories, including recently speculating that the Princess of Wales was “dead” and that the April 2022 Russian massacre of civilians in Bucha, just north of Kyiv, was likely staged.

A couple of months after Putin launched his full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Mr Galloway threatened to sue Twitter/X after the social network labelled his account “Russian state-affiliated media”.

Mr Galloway, whose radio programme The Mother of All Talk Shows was broadcast on the Russian state-owned Sputnik service during the first months of the invasion, said he would sue Twitter/X for defamation unless it rescinds the label.

“I work for NO Russian media. I have 400,000 followers. I’m the leader of a British political party and spent nearly 30 years in the British parliament,” he tweeted at the time.

Time to fix the ‘national sickness service’ once and for all

Satisfaction with the NHS has sunk to its lowest level since the British Social Attitudes survey began measuring it in 1983. Only one in four people (24 per cent) are satisfied – a 29-point drop in the past three years – and 52 per cent dissatisfied.

The findings, analysed by the King’s Fund and Nuffield Trust think tanks, are no surprise after the pandemic, a wave of strikes that have dragged on for far too long, and a series of NHS scandals. Understandably, the public’s main concern is about waiting times; they are much happier about the treatment they (eventually) receive.

Despite the criticism, people still have faith in what the former Conservative chancellor Nigel Lawson called “the closest thing the English have to a religion”. One survey participant put it well: people “love our NHS,” as the stickers and badges say, but “it’s a bit of a toxic relationship”. They do not want a different system but want their NHS to work better. It should not be too much to ask for.

Why is Johnny Mercer facing jail over the special forces inquiry?

Johnny Mercer, the veterans minister, has been given until 5 April to reveal the names of special forces officers who told him about war crimes in Afghanistan – and he faces being fined or up to a year in jail if he refuses.

He is understood to have promised whistleblowing troops that he would protect their identity if they came forward with what they knew about the unlawful killings by British troops of unarmed Afghans, information that he has passed to the public inquiry into allegations of such crimes.

However, Lord Justice Haddon-Cave, the former judge who is chairing the inquiry, has accused Mercer of a “misguided understanding of the term integrity and an inappropriate sense of loyalty”, and has served the minister with a notice under the Inquiries Act 2005 requiring him to supply the names to the inquiry in confidence.