The Telegraph 2024-04-14 10:00:48

Live Iran vows ‘stronger response’ to any ‘reckless’ Israeli move


Iran’s president has warned Israel against taking any “reckless” action after its overnight drone and missile attack.

Iran launched its first ever direct attack on Israel on Saturday evening, in retaliation to a deadly strike on its Damascus consulate on April 1.

Ebrahim Raisi, the Iranian president, has now warned Israel against retaliatory attacks.

“If the Zionist regime (Israel) or its supporters demonstrate reckless behaviour, they will receive a decisive and much stronger response,” Mr Raisi said in a statement. Iran has said it is not planning any further attacks.

The Israeli military said “very little damage” was caused by the strikes, and that over 99 per cent of the 300 drones and missiles were shot down by Israel and its allies. But, they added that the “campaign is not over yet”.

World leaders have condemned the attack, with regional powers Saudi Arabia and Egypt calling for restraint.

US president Joe Biden has told Benjamin Netanyahu that the US will not participate in any offensive operations.

NATO on Sunday condemned Iran’s attack as an “escalation” of regional unrest and urged restraint on all sides.

Follow the latest updates below.

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Sydney stabbing: Killer was drifter with a troubled past

The man who killed six people at a Sydney shopping centre was known to be suffering with mental health issues and have a fascination with weapons.

Police on Sunday identified the attacker as Joel Cauchi, a 40-year-old who had recently moved from Queensland to Sydney where he had been homeless.

Cauchi had lived with schizophrenia and had used drugs including methamphetamine and psychedelics, investigators believe. He did not have a criminal history in his home state but had been known to authorities because of his struggles.

On Saturday, Cauchi ate lunch at a curry restaurant in Bondi Junction before walking through the Westfield shopping centre where he pulled a knife from his backpack. 

He lunged at shoppers, stabbing at least 17 people including a baby who was laying inside a pram pushed by her mother Dr Ashlee Good. 

Dr Good died in hospital on Saturday night, bringing the death toll from the attack to six. Her daughter remained in hospital on Sunday. 

Five people died inside the shopping centre. Those victims included four women believed to be aged between 20 and 55, and a man aged in his 30s.

“Twelve others – including nine women, two men and a nine-month-old child – suffering stab wounds, were treated by paramedics and taken to various Sydney hospitals,” New South Wales police said on Sunday morning. 

Cauchi was shot dead by a policewoman, Inspector Amy Scott, and died despite her efforts performing CPR. 

Anthony Cooke, the Assistant Commissioner of New South Wales Police, confirmed police had searched a storage container used by the killer. 

“We are continuing to work through the profiling of the offender but very clearly to us at this stage it will appear related to the mental health of the individual,” Mr Cooke said.

“There is still to this point nothing – no information we have received, no evidence we’ve recovered, no intelligence that we have gathered – that would suggest that this was driven by any particular motivation, ideology or otherwise.”

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Sunak criticises ‘complete overreach’ of ‘illegitimate’ ECHR ruling

Rishi Sunak has hit out at the “complete overreach” of an “illegitimate” ruling by the European Court of Human Rights that imposes a duty on governments to achieve net zero.

The intervention from Downing Street comes ahead of a final round of votes on the Rwanda Bill, which could pass by the end of this week, allowing the Government to press ahead with plans for deportation flights. However, there are fears among Tory MPs that the long-awaited flights could yet be thwarted by judges in Strasbourg.

Mr Sunak’s comments will fuel speculation that Mr Sunak is considering including a pledge in the Conservative Party’s manifesto to pull out of the ECHR, with sources saying this has not been ruled out.

On Saturday night, a No 10 source said: “The PM’s view was that this judgment is a complete overreach and an illegitimate interpretation of the ECHR text. No doubt about that.”

In the first judgment of its kind, the court ruled that the human rights of a group of elderly Swiss women had been violated by the failure of their government to act quickly enough to tackle climate change. The ruling also applies to the UK.

Two more Cabinet ministers have made known their dissatisfaction with Britain’s involvement in the ECHR, adding their voices to that of Claire Coutinho, the Energy Secretary.

A source close to Steve Barclay, the Environment Secretary, said human rights in Britain “did not begin with the ECHR and won’t end with it either”.

They added: “The Government was democratically elected on a mandate to deliver tougher border control and stop small-boat crossings. It is a fundamental threat to our democracy if an unelected overseas court is stopping that delivery and Steve has been clear to successive prime ministers for several years that leaving the ECHR must be on the table if it is the only option to uphold that promise to the British people.”

Revolt spreading to top of Government

Another Cabinet minister told The Telegraph they would be “perfectly relaxed about pulling out” of the ECHR, adding: “I don’t think the public would be sorry to see the back of it”.

Ms Coutinho has already expressed “concern” that Strasbourg judges were taking decisions best made by elected politicians.

Earlier this week, Strasbourg judges issued a landmark ruling that governments have a duty to protect people from climate change.

Aided by Friends of the Earth, some 2,000 elderly women claimed that the Swiss state was exposing them to an increased risk of death from extreme heat.

A British judge, Tim Eicke, issued the sole dissent, writing: “I fear that in this judgment the majority has gone beyond what it is legitimate and permissible for this court to do, and unfortunately, in doing so, may well have achieved exactly the opposite effect to what was intended”.

The ruling prompted a Tory backlash, with several senior MPs urging Mr Sunak to take Britain out of the ECHR in the wake of the ruling.

The revolt is spreading to the top of the Government, with Cabinet ministers breaking ranks to call for Mr Sunak to bow out of the convention, particularly given the difficulties it may also pose for implementing the Rwanda policy. 

Other MPs, including Robert Jenrick, the former Home Office minister, and Danny Kruger, the co-chairman of the New Conservatives group of MPs, have accused the court of acting in a “profoundly undemocratic” way and being “bent out of shape” by “progressive” activists and politicians.

However, the Cabinet ministers opposed to leaving the ECHR are believed to outnumber those in favour by two to one. The remainder are said to be either undecided or to have not disclosed their position to colleagues.

The European Court found the Swiss state had breached Article Eight of the ECHR, which guarantees the “right to respect for private and family life”.

The ruling is binding to states that are signatories to the convention, like the UK, and will trickle down to influence the law in 46 countries in Europe, including Britain.

It means individuals and groups could sue for a breach of their human rights if the UK Government fails to meet its net zero or environmental targets.

In the UK, attempts to make such cases on the basis of the European Convention on Human Rights have, until now, not succeeded. However, in a landmark net zero case last year, the High Court suggested UK courts would “keep pace with Strasbourg jurisprudence” as it continued to evolve.

This month, Mr Sunak raised the possibility of the UK leaving it if the Strasbourg court continued to block his delayed plans to deport illegal migrants to Rwanda.

He said controlling immigration is “more important” than membership of the convention. Polling found that half of Conservative voters believe Britain should quit the ECHR. Mr Sunak said “enough is enough” and vowed to ignore the Strasbourg court if it tried to ground deportation flights.

He signalled that he would go ahead with the flights even if the court issued a Rule 39 injunction in an attempt to prevent their departure.

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Sadiq Khan legally committed himself to exploring pay-per-mile

Sadiq Khan is committed to exploring a pay-per-mile scheme for drivers, a legally binding document suggests.

In his official transport strategy, which has a formal legal status, the Mayor says Transport for London (TfL) would “investigate proposals for the next generation of road user charging”.

Since the Mayor has had opportunities to update his transport strategy and to remove any policies he does not wish to pursue, the Tories have claimed that his failure to do so is evidence he remains wedded to exploring pay-per-mile.

Mr Khan has firmly rejected the claims and insisted that he has “ruled out pay-per-mile”.

His transport strategy, originally published in 2018 and subsequently revised in 2022, says: “The Mayor, through TfL, will investigate proposals for the next generation of road-user charging systems.

“These could replace schemes such as the Congestion Charge, Low Emission Zone and Ultra Low Emission Zone [Ulez].”

The document says that “more sophisticated road user charging” could achieve policies in the strategy relating to “mode share, road danger reduction and environmental objectives, and to help reduce congestion on the road network and support efficient traffic movement”.

“In doing so, the Mayor will consider the appropriate technology for any future schemes, and the potential for a future scheme that reflects distance, time, emissions, road danger and other factors in an integrated way,” it says.

Could replace existing schemes

In further explanatory text, it adds that “an integrated ‘per mile’ charge could replace pre-existing schemes… with a single, unified scheme which takes into account both congestion and emissions objectives”.

In February, The Telegraph revealed that TfL was working on a scheme – Project Detroit – to create a “more sophisticated… new core technology platform for road-user charging”, with £21 million spent on the project to date.

But with Labour still bearing the brunt of criticism for the expansion of Ulez, Mr Khan has repeatedly insisted that per-mile charging of drivers will not be introduced on his watch.

However, the Tories have said that such denials can only be given weight if the Mayor formally revises his strategy.

The transport strategy is a document that is legally mandated by the Greater London Authority Act 1999. The legislation states that the Mayor must “prepare and publish” a transport strategy that contains their policies for “safe, integrated, efficient and economic” transport.

The Act also says that “where the Mayor revises the transport strategy he shall publish it as revised”.

In November 2022, Mr Khan was required to amend the strategy in order to allow him to expand Ulez to Greater London.

With the London Assembly having powers to reject the strategy – or any revisions to it – by a two-thirds majority, Mr Khan told Assembly members at the time that he needed “a revision to the policy foundation in the Mayor’s transport strategy to give permission at a future date to widen the Ulezs”.

‘Dodgy lawyer tricks’

Susan Hall, who is Mr Khan’s Conservative opponent in the mayoral race, said that if he was serious about ruling out pay-per-mile he would revise the strategy, with the Tories willing to lend support in the Assembly.

Instead, she said he had relied on non-binding statements to the media, as well as a letter sent to the TfL commissioner, Andy Lord, in which he said his plans for tackling air pollution “will not include a new pay-per-mile road user charging scheme or amending the standards for the Ulez scheme”.

Ms Hall said: “Sadiq Khan has been completely disingenuous in his denials, given he has refused the opportunity to remove pay-per-mile from his legally binding transport strategy.

“We can expect more of these dodgy lawyer tricks from Sadiq Khan if he gets another four years, acting innocent with Londoners while forcing TfL by law to continue pursuing pay-per-mile no matter what he says publicly.”

A spokesman for Mr Khan said: “This is absolute nonsense from a Tory party desperate to distract from their 14 years of failure, and is categorically untrue. Sadiq has been clear he has ruled out pay-per-mile.”

Mr Khan remains the favourite in the mayoral race. Polling by Savanta last week for the Centre for London showed that Mr Khan was on 50 per cent with Ms Hall on 26 per cent.

The Liberal Democrat candidate Rob Blackie was on 10 per cent, the Green Party candidate Zoë Garbett was on 9 per cent while Reform UK’s Howard Cox was on 2 per cent.

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Gordon Ramsay pub squatters turn it into soup kitchen

Squatters occupying Gordon Ramsay’s £13 million Regent’s Park pub restaurant have held a press conference to say they are using “our house” to run a soup kitchen for the homeless…

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Remains of baby found at house in Wigan

The remains of a baby have been found at a house in Wigan, with police arresting five people in connection with the incident.

Greater Manchester Police has sealed off two addresses in the Lancashire town after making the discovery, which it described as “heartbreaking”.

The five people, aged between 20 and 70, were arrested on suspicion of unlawful burial and concealing a death.

They have all since been released on bail.

Officers remain on the scene at the two addresses. One is in the north western suburb of Marsh Green and the other is two miles on Valley Road, Pemberton.

The force said it had received intelligence from a “partner agency” before making the arrests.

‘A truly heart-breaking discovery’

It said it would remain at the scene “over the following days as officers conduct extensive enquiries”.

Ch Supt Clare Jenkins said: “This is a truly heartbreaking discovery, and I do not underestimate the impact that this news will have on the local community.

“I would like to reassure you that we have several teams of officers and specialist resources working diligently to find answers.

“You will likely notice an increased presence of our officers throughout the next week, if you have any concerns or want to share any confidential information, please do not hesitate to speak to them.

“In the coming days we will know more about the circumstances surrounding this incident, but we are confident that this is isolated, and there is no threat to the wider public.

“At this stage, we are keeping an open mind, and we will provide updates as soon as we can.”

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Travellers face disruption after Iran drone attack

British travellers faced disruption following a decision by Israel and its neighbours to shut down their airspace in the wake of the major drone attack by Iran.

The impending threat of an Iranian drone strike led Israel’s airspace to be shut to all flights, according to the country’s aviation authorities.

It was originally anticipated that the drones would arrive in Israel at 2am local time.

Flight times are expected to be longer as airlines avoid Iranian airspace and air fares are also expected to increase.

Jordan also took the step on Saturday night to block incoming, departing and transit aircraft from travelling into its airspace, according to Al Mamlaka News, before declaring a state of emergency.

The measure came into force at 11pm and aviation authorities indicated that the situation would be “continuously updated and reviewed according to developments”.

All air traffic has been temporarily stopped in Iraq following a decision to shut down its airspace, according to the country’s transport ministry.

Israel’s El Al Airlines was reported to have cancelled 15 flights scheduled for Saturday and Sunday and Austrian Airlines was also reported to have cancelled all its flights to Iran until April 18.

United Airlines on Saturday said it had cancelled its service to Tel Aviv.

“We have cancelled Saturday’s planned flight from Newark to Tel Aviv and its associated return flight due to restrictions on Israeli airspace,” a United spokesman said.

“We are closely monitoring the situation and will make decisions on upcoming flights with a focus on the safety of our customers and crews.”

A Lufthansa spokesman, on behalf of the firm including its subsidiary Austrian Airlines, said: “We have temporarily stopped overflying Iranian airspace till April 18. Security is our number-one priority.”

Qantas had already paused its non-stop flights from Perth to London in an attempt to avoid Iranian airspace due to fears of the impending attack on Israel.

The route has now been changed and has a stop in Singapore in place due to the situation.

A Qantas spokesman said: “We’re temporarily adjusting the flight paths for our flights between Perth and London due to the situation in parts of the Middle East. We’ll reach out to customers directly if there’s any change to their booking.”

Is it safe to travel to Israel?

The UK along with the US were among the countries issuing a travel warning to those looking to travel to the region, along with France, Canada and Australia.

Dutch airline KLM also said it would no longer fly over Iran or Israel, according to Dutch press agency ANP on Saturday.

KLM, the Dutch arm of Air France-KLM, said the move was a precaution, but it indicated it would continue flying to Tel Aviv.

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