The Telegraph 2024-04-19 10:00:39


Live World demands end to missile strikes after Israel attacks Iran

World leaders have called for “absolute restraint” after Israel escalated its conflict with Iran by launching strikes near a military base.

Ursula von der Leyen, the chief of the European commission, said it is “absolutely necessary” that “all sides refrain from further action” after explosions were reported early this morning near Iran’s Isfahan air base, which sits close to a major nuclear facility.

Antonio Tajani, the Italian foreign minister, called for “absolute de-escalation”, following Iranian reports it had shot down three drones in the area, while prime minister Rishi Sunak said he wants to see  “calm heads prevail across the region”.

US intelligence reports of an Israeli missile strike have been dismissed by Tehran, which downplayed the incident and indicated it had no plans for retaliation. Isreal has not confirmed the strikes.

China voiced opposition to “any actions that further escalate tensions”, in an apparent criticism of Israel’s retaliatory strike

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Live Sunak vows to stop benefit fraudsters exploiting ‘natural generosity of British people’

Benefit fraudsters will be treated as harshly as people who commit tax fraud under a new crackdown, Rishi Sunak has announced. 

The Prime Minister used a speech in London this morning to declare: “We can’t allow fraudsters to exploit the natural compassion and generosity of the British people.” 

He said new anti-fraud legislation will be brought forward to give the Department for Work and Pensions similar powers to HM Revenue and Customs. 

He said: “We are preparing a new fraud Bill for the next parliament, which will align DWP with HMRC, so that we treat benefit fraud like tax fraud, with new powers to make seizures and arrests, and we’ll also enable penalties to be applied to a wider set of fraudsters through a new civil penalty.

“Because when people see others in their community gaming the system that their taxes pay, it erodes support for the very principle of the welfare state.”

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Labour destroyed documents that could have revealed Rayner’s living arrangements

Labour destroyed documents that could have revealed where Angela Rayner claimed to be living when she applied to be a parliamentary candidate.

Ms Rayner, the deputy Labour leader, is being investigated by police over claims that she broke electoral law by registering the wrong address as her permanent residence on the electoral register between 2010 and 2015.

She was registered at her own house in Vicarage Road, Stockport, for those five years, while her husband at the time lived about a mile away at a house in Lowndes Lane. They married in 2010.

Neighbours have claimed that she actually lived at Lowndes Lane and that her brother was living in the Vicarage Road property.

Labour has previously said it would not reveal which address she included on internal selection papers in 2014. Now it has emerged that the papers have been “disposed of”, which a Labour spokesman said was carried out in line with data protection laws.

Police are investigating multiple allegations against Ms Rayner, with at least a dozen officers assigned to the case. Detectives are also considering whether a single person’s discount on council tax was wrongly claimed at one of the properties.

The Labour deputy leader is facing scrutiny over whether she or her husband paid the right amount of capital gains tax (CGT) when two properties they owned simultaneously during their marriage were sold.

The Telegraph previously requested the selection papers from when she applied to become the Labour candidate for Ashton-under-Lyne, the year before the election, which would have included her main address.

Labour refused, but on Thursday a party spokesman said: “The document is no longer held and had been disposed of, in line with legal data protection requirements.”

If Ms Rayner had listed her husband’s address on Lowndes Lane on the papers, it would cast fresh doubts on her claim she was living in her own home on Vicarage Road.

The question of where she was living is crucial to a number of claims, one being an allegation of electoral fraud. Providing a false address on the electoral roll is an offence under the Representation of the People Act 1983. Ms Rayner is listed on the roll as living at Vicarage Road.

It could also determine whether Ms Rayner was liable to pay capital gains tax on her property when she sold it for £127,500 in March 2015.

If it was her primary address, where she lived the majority of the time, she would have been exempt from capital gains tax on the sale.

If, as has been claimed by neighbours, she was in fact living with her husband on Lowndes Lane, she may not have been entitled to the exemption and could potentially owe tax of up to £3,500.

Private residence relief allows for an exemption from capital gains tax when you are selling your primary residence. Married couples who are not separated are only able to claim the relief on one property and can nominate which one.

If it transpires that Ms Rayner did claim private residence relief on the sale of her property, it would mean her husband would not have been eligible to do the same when he sold his property in 2016.

Police and Stockport council are also reviewing whether Ms Rayner claimed a single person’s council tax discount on her Vicarage Road home while allowing her brother to live there.

Stephen Watson, the Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police, has promised to “get to the bottom of what happened”.

In a statement last Friday, Ms Rayner said she was “completely confident” that she had followed the rules at all times but said she would resign if she was found to have committed a criminal offence.

“I will say, as I did before, if I committed a criminal offence I would of course do the right thing and step down,” she said.

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Live Post Office ‘shredded’ Horizon bug meeting records – watch live

Evidence that minutes from an internal Post Office meeting about Horizon bugs were “shredded” is an “extremely serious allegation”, one of the organisation’s legal chiefs has admitted.

The inquiry has been shown legal advice from Cartwright King barrister Simon Clarke detailing that, following a meeting in July 2013, it had become “unclear as to whether and to what extent material was being retained centrally or disseminated” by the Post Office.

“The following information has been relayed to me: The minutes of a previous conference call had been typed and emailed to a number of persons,” he added. “An instruction was then given that those emails and minutes should be, and have been, destroyed: the word ‘shredded’ was conveyed to me.”

On Thursday, the inquiry heard that these conference calls were attended by various heads of departments at the Post Office and were designed to share information concerns and problems relating to the Horizon system.

Giving evidence to the inquiry, Rodric Williams, a current legal chief at the Post Office, said: “It’s an extremely serious allegation.”

The inquiry then heard that the instruction was attributed to John Scott, the Post Office’s head of security who was in charge of the department which investigated and brought prosecutions against sub-postmasters.

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Sydney Sweeney hits back at ‘shameful’ producer who said she can’t act and isn’t pretty

Sydney Sweeney has hit back at a “shameful” Hollywood producer who criticised her acting ability and asked, “Why is she so hot?”.

The actress, who was nominated for two Emmys this year, said that she felt “unjustly disparaged” after hearing the comments made by Carol Baum.

Earlier this week, Ms Baum told the audience at a film screening that the 26-year-old was an “actor that everyone loves now” but that she “didn’t get” the hype surrounding the White Lotus star.

“I said to my class, ‘Explain this girl to me. She’s not pretty, she can’t act. Why is she so hot?,” Ms Baum, who teaches at the University of Southern California, said.

In response to the comments, a representative for Sweeney told Variety magazine: “How sad that a woman in the position to share her expertise and experience chooses instead to attack another woman.

“If that’s what she’s learned in her decades in the industry and feels is appropriate to teach to her students, that’s shameful.

“To unjustly disparage a fellow female producer speaks volumes about Ms Baum’s character.”

At the screening Ms Baum, who has produced hits including Dead Ringers and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, also criticised the romantic comedy Anyone But You, starring Sweeney, which took £218 million (£175 million) worldwide at the box office.

“I wanted to know who she is and why everybody’s talking about her. I watched this unwatchable movie – sorry to people who love this … romantic comedy where they hate each other.”

This year, Sweeney received Emmy nominations for Euphoria and The White Lotus and recently starred in and produced the horror film Immaculate.

Teddy Schwarzman, a co-producer on Immaculate, also came to her defence.

“I’ll enlighten Ms Baum that two-time Emmy nominee Sydney Sweeney is not only one of the most talented actresses I’ve worked with, but also incredibly smart, kind and humble,” Mr Schwarzman wrote on social media.

He added: “I’m not sure why someone who claims to still be a producer would make such terribly ugly comments.”

Ms Baum told TMZ, the celebrity news website, that she regrets her comments.

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Windows fell out of King’s plane mid-flight after filming lights melted frames

Windows fell out of a plane used by the King in mid-air after filming lights melted the frames, a report has revealed.

Three window panes fell off the Titan Airways Airbus at 14,000ft last October after it took off from Stansted Airport on a flight to Florida.

After take-off, passengers noticed “increased cabin noise” and a crew member discovered one window was visibly loose in its frame.

The A321neo returned to Stansted after 36 minutes airborne.

None of the 24 people aboard the Airbus was injured in the incident.

After landing it was discovered that a total of three windows were missing – and fresh impact damage was visible on the aeroplane’s tail.

King Charles and Queen Camilla had previously used the jet for a state visit to France last September.

It has also been used by Rishi Sunak, the Prime Minister, and James Cleverly, the Foreign Secretary, on official trips abroad.

Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) analysts found that the Airbus’ acrylic windows had shrunk after being exposed to “high intensity” lights used for filming an advert the previous day.

Advertisers were on board the aeroplane at Stansted the day before the incident to film some promotional footage.

Film technicians positioned high intensity halogen lights outside the airliner’s fuselage, shining in through the windows to create a sunrise effect.

The six lights used had a combined lighting capacity of 72,000 watts – more than seven hundred times greater than a household light bulb.

The AAIB said: “The lights were first shone on the right side of the aircraft for approximately five and a half hours, with the light focused on the cabin windows just aft of the overwing exits.

“The lights were then moved to the left side of the aircraft where they illuminated a similar area on the left side for approximately four hours.”

Technicians placed the lights between six and nine metres away from the Airbus’ windows.

Data from the light manufacturer suggested that surfaces six metres (19ft 6in) away could see temperatures rise by as much as 147F (64C).

No information was given by the AAIB about who the advertiser was.

Airliner windows have two panes: a tough outer pane designed to withstand extreme temperatures and pressures, and an inner “scratch pane” on the passenger side.

“All the scratch panes remained in place so there was no direct, unrestricted aperture between the passenger cabin and the outside air,” said the AAIB.

A Titan Airways spokesman said: We would like to thank the members of the AAIB team for their extremely thorough and professional investigation. The aviation industry as a whole will benefit from the lessons learnt from this event.

“We are also pleased to hear that our colleagues at Airbus will be circulating further information to its worldwide customer base, highlighting the potential damage that can be caused by high-intensity lighting.

“We are also grateful to all of our crew members onboard, whose swift and professional handling of the incident was exemplary.”

The airliner was registered G-GBNI while it was being used for royal and Government flights. At the time it was painted white with a Union flag logo on the tail.

After the Government charter ended, the Airbus was re-registered G-OATW and repainted in a black colour scheme.

The Government regularly charters commercial airliners for official trips by ministers and members of the Royal family.

There was no suggestion in the AAIB report that any Airbus manufacturing defect was to blame for the airliner’s windows melting.

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Prince William promises to look after Princess of Wales on return to royal duties

Prince William promised to look after the Princess of Wales as he made his first public appearance since her cancer announcement a month ago.

The Prince gave a helping hand loading food and cooking in the kitchen at Surplus to Supper, a food distribution charity in Sunbury-on-Thames, Surrey.

Rachel Candappa, a 71-year-old volunteer, handed two get well soon cards to the Prince, addressed to the King and the Princess. The Prince said: “Thank you, you are very kind”.

When Ms Candappa told the Prince to look after his wife, the 41-year-old placed his left hand on her shoulder and said: “I will.”

Speaking afterwards, she said: “I was at home at 8.30 last night and I thought I had to do something – this is a chance to give a card directly to the palace officials. I didn’t think I’d be able to give the cards to William.

“I said: ‘Can I shake your hand?’. I loved it, he was very down to earth. I’m never washing my hand again.

“He pointed at the food and said: ‘That’s spaghetti hoops.’ I asked ‘how do you know about spaghetti hoops’ and he said: ‘I’ve got children.’”

Ms Candappa added she had only finished writing her get well soon cards at 1am.

She revealed that the text written inside the car read: “Nation’s hearts were broken when you very courageously went on the global stage on your own to talk about your personal health issues.

“With no trimmings or flowering around issues, you gave the few chosen words to assure anyone who cares to listen that you will fight this dreadful ‘C’ disease. You must have had a lot of steel in you to hold it together.”

Surplus to Supper is based at Sunbury Cricket club, and the Prince told his hosts that his son Louis loves the sport.

Inside, he saw volunteers sorting out items including soap, handwash and make-up, telling Claire Hopkin, the operations director of Surplus to Supper, that he was surprised “how much we throw away”.

The prince also helped out in the kitchen with Mario Colfait, a chef who was making bolognese, sausage casserole and chilli con carne.

He pulled on an apron called out: “It smells good in here, Mario” before being handed a large knife and asked to slice celery for the pot.

The Prince joked that he was worried about slicing off his fingers. He said: “It’s the biggest knife, hope for the best,” adding: “I don’t want to mess up everyone’s lunch. I hope I haven’t ruined your lunch, but you can blame me.”

The kitchen cooks “culturally appropriate” food, which delivered to families in a five-mile radius and includes frozen meals for care homes.

The Prince had privately given the charity a box of unused food taken from the kitchen cupboards at Adelaide Cottage.

The visit marked his first official appearance since the Princess of Wales, 42, announced on March 22 that she was undergoing a course of preventative chemotherapy treatment.

She revealed in a video message that, following successful abdominal surgery in January, post-operative tests found that “cancer had been present”.

The statement was released to coincide with the end of the school term, allowing the Prince and Princess to shield Prince George, 10, Princess Charlotte, eight, and Prince Louis, five, from the ensuing publicity.

The family decamped to their Norfolk home for the school holidays, but returned to Windsor in time for the children to go back to school on Wednesday.

The Prince’s last public engagement was almost a month ago, on March 19, when he visited Sheffield to promote his Homewards homelessness initiative, though he was spotted last week at an Aston Villa football match with Prince George.

He is expected to maintain a reduced timetable, as he has since the beginning of the year, as he juggles work with supporting his wife and children while the Princess’s cancer treatment continues.

The Prince’s focus on food waste is reflective of one of the key priorities of his Earthshot Prize. The reduction of food waste helps protect the environment by reducing emissions from landfill.

Founded in 2017, Surplus to Supper redistributes more than three tonnes of surplus food every day to hundreds of local projects such as foodbanks, charities, schools, and community organisations.

It relies on 200 volunteers to collect food that would otherwise go to landfill from local retailers, wholesalers, manufacturers, and caterers before redistributing it to those most in need.

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