The Telegraph 2024-05-14 16:00:36

Live Watch: Moment armed gunmen ambush prison van and free ‘France’s most wanted man’

Footage has emerged of the moment gunmen attacked a prison van and freed a convicted drug trafficker in France.

CCTV images show a black car swerving around oncoming traffic before ramming into the front of the van, trapping it against the vehicle behind it at a toll gate on the A145 motorway near Rouen.

A group of hooded gunmen emerge, surrounding the vehicles and appearing to fire shots at the officers inside the van before forcing open the side door to free the inmate held inside.

A massive manhunt is underway to catch the escapee – dubbed France’s most wanted man – after two prison officers were killed in the attack.

Mohamed Amra, 30, who reports say was the head of a narcotics network and nicknamed “La Mouche” (The Fly), was being transferred from Rouen to Evreux when the police van and another police vehicle came under attack from “heavy weapons” at the Incarville tollbooth, located in the town of Val-de-Reuil, Normandy, northern France.

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Two men charged with plotting marauding gun attack on Jewish community

Two men have appeared in court accused of plotting to carry out an Islamic State-inspired marauding gun attack against the Jewish community in the north-west of England.

Walid Saadaoui, 36, and Amar Hussein, 50, were arrested at addresses in Wigan and Bolton last week. They were also allegedly planning to target police officers and members of the military.

They appeared at Westminster magistrates’ court on Tuesday charged with the preparation of terrorist acts between Dec 13 2023 and May 9 this year..

Bilel Saadaoui, 35, also appeared before the court accused of knowing about his brother Walid’s plans. He pleaded not guilty to a charge of failing to disclose information about an act of terrorism between the same dates.

‘Intention to cause fatalities’

Rebecca Waller, prosecuting, told the court: “Mr Saadoui and Mr Hussein, are said to have planned a Daesh [Islamic State]-inspired terrorist attack in the UK during which they intended to cause multiple fatalities using automatic weapons.

“The main targets of their attack plans were the Jewish community in the north-west of England and members of both law enforcement and military.

“Both defendants took significant steps to prepare, and by May 2024 had reached the point at which, they believed, they were in a position in which they were ready to launch the attack. Bilel Saadoui is Walid Saadoaui’s younger brother.

“The evidence the Crown say indicates that Bilel Saadaoui was the trusted confidant for his brother knowing he was making plans.”

Bilel Saadaoui was allegedly given his brother’s will along with £17,000 in cash and was also given a key for a safe containing £75,000.

District Judge Louisa Ciecora remanded the three defendants in custody ahead of a preliminary hearing at the Old Bailey on May 24.

Bilel Saadoaui wept as he was led from the dock by five police officers.

‘Distressing details’

Asst Chief Constable Rob Pott, from Greater Manchester Police, said the details of the case “will be understandably distressing and likely to have a significant impact on the communities within Greater Manchester and beyond”.

In a statement, he added: “Everyone should feel safe in our region regardless of their religion or race. We have been working closely with community groups and key stakeholders to address concerns and we will continue to update them throughout this case.

“Local officers across Greater Manchester will continue to listen and act on concerns alongside partners to protect the public and keep you safe.

“The action we have taken so far follows a long-running and carefully managed investigation, and we do not believe that there is a wider risk to the public connected to this case.

“Should you have any concerns about your safety or any suspicious activity in your area, then I would encourage you to contact the police.”

Amanda Bomsztyk, northern regional director of the Community Security Trust, a charity focused on the safety of Britain’s Jewish community,  said: “These are very serious allegations of a plan to commit a terrorist attack against British Jews at a time of record anti-Semitic hate crime levels. This is one of a number of recent and ongoing cases that demonstrate why the Jewish community needs such extensive security measures and why our continuing partnership with police and government is so vital.

“CST thanks Greater Manchester Police and other agencies for their work in this case, and we will continue to work closely with police to provide reassurance and protection for the Jewish community. We urge everyone in the community to continue as normal, remain alert and report any anti-Semitism or suspicious activity at Jewish locations to CST and to the police.”

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Teacher Rebecca Joynes told boy, 16, ‘Every inch of you is perfect’

A teacher accused of having sex with two schoolboys wrote to one of them saying “every inch of you is perfect”, a court was told.

Rebecca Joynes, 30, insists she began a sexual relationship with the boy, 16 at the time, five days after she was dismissed from her job as a maths teacher over claims of inappropriate behaviour with another boy.

Giving evidence for a second day at Manchester Crown Court on Tuesday, Ms Joynes, who became pregnant by the teenager, identified only as Boy B, rejected the suggestion that she was “obsessive” or “controlling”.

Joe Allman, for the prosecution, read out a letter Ms Joynes, from the Wirral, had sent the teenager in which she wrote: “Every inch of you is perfect. You are all I ever dreamed of.”

Responding to Mr Allman, Ms Joynes said: “It was [written] a year after he had left school. We were in a relationship. You write letters and cards to people you are in a relationship with.”

Relationship ‘flew in face of safeguarding’

She admitted the relationship had been a “secret”, agreeing with Mr Allman’s insistence that it “flies in the face of safeguarding” rules. Rejecting the suggestion she was “obsessive”, she said: “Things got very difficult when I got pregnant.”

Ms Joynes admitted contacting Boy B the day she was suspended from her job and when she was on bail for alleged sexual activity with another schoolboy, Boy A, who was 15.

She claimed she formed a close friendship with Boy B during the Covid pandemic, shortly after a break-up from a nine-year relationship.

“We formed a strong friendship because I was so very emotional about what had happened that day, and that’s when it continued,” she said.

She insisted that the sexual relationship only began after she was dismissed from school and he had left school and was over 16.

“He had sent me a message,” she continued. “He was no longer a student. It just grew into that.”

Ms Joynes denied the boy’s claims that when he visited her home when he was 15 she had “straddled him” and “kissed him on the mouth” but wanted to wait until he was 16 before having sex.

She told Mr Allman: “That’s not the case at all. Kissing and sex is part of the whole sexual thing, so I wouldn’t have done that.”

‘I have ruined my chances of my dream job’

Mr Allman put it to Ms Joynes that the jury of seven men and five women had heard she had been lonely during the pandemic and the boy had visited her home for help with his maths.

She replied: “I spoke to my family. I had made a mistake, they were aware of that. And, I have ruined my chances of my dream job.”

Boy B told police that the day before Ms Joynes was arrested for a second time, over alleged sexual contact with him, she had planned a “date night” involving an Ann Summers scratchcard of sexual activities.

He said rose petals were scattered on the floor and notes had been hidden around her flat.

He said: “At the end it was a babygrow. It said something like, ‘Best Dad’ and I was like, ‘What the f—?’

“She started crying and I started crying, because we were undecided whether to get rid of it or not. That was probably the lowest point, we were irresponsible. It’s my own fault. I also thought, ‘What the f— am I going to do?’ I can’t hide a kid.’ I had hid the relationship for 18 months from my parents.”

Ms Joynes denies two counts of sexual activity with Boy A, two counts of sexual activity with Boy B and two counts of sexual activity with Boy B while being a person in a position of trust.

The trial continues.

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Nottingham killer Valdo Calocane’s sentence won’t be changed, judge rules

Valdo Calocane’s sentence for killing three people in a knife rampage in Nottingham last summer was not unduly lenient, three senior judges have concluded…

Tobias Ellwood tweets about new Russian defence minister – with image from comedy movie

Tobias Ellwood has shared a photograph of the new Russian defence chief wearing a military uniform covered in medals – but it was in fact a Photoshopped image of a character from the comedy film The Death of Stalin…

China furious at arrest of ‘UK spies’

A Border Force officer and a Home Office immigration official were among three people charged on Monday with spying for Hong Kong.

Chi Leung Wai, 38, Matthew Trickett, 37, and Chung Biu Yuen, 63, are accused of spying on pro-democracy activists living in the UK.

China reacted angrily to the charges. Its London embassy said: “We strongly condemn the UK’s unwarranted accusation against the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government.”

Mr Wai, also known as Peter, works at Heathrow Airport for Border Force UK, and is alleged to have carried out surveillance and “hostile” reconnaissance on behalf of the Hong Kong intelligence service. He is also a volunteer special constable with the City of London Police.

Mr Trickett is a Home Office immigration enforcement officer, who had spent six years as a commando in the Royal Marines.

The third man charged, Mr Yuen, is a retired Hong Kong police officer, who is employed as a Hong Kong trade official based in London.

The men were detained following an investigation by counter-terrorism police in which 11 people were arrested under the National Security Act, which was introduced last year to tackle the threat to the UK posed by hostile states.

The Telegraph understands that the Home Office has ordered a review of Border Force and Immigration Enforcement recruitment, vetting and supervision procedures in the wake of the police investigation.

Tom Tugendhat, the security minister, said: “The National Security Act is a game-changer for our ability to crack down on foreign intelligence services and hostile actors. We will not tolerate attempts to threaten, harass or silence people in the UK.

“Our commitment to defending the rights and freedoms we hold dear is absolute. We will continue to put protecting the British people and our national security first.”

The three men were charged with two offences after trying to break into the home of a Hong Kong dissident living in Pontefract in West Yorkshire on May 1.

The trio appeared at a brief hearing at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Monday shortly after the Metropolitan Police said its investigation had been “crucial to disrupting” the spy network.

The men were charged with assisting a foreign intelligence service to “undertake information gathering, surveillance and acts of deception” between December 20 last year and May 2. They were also charged with assisting a foreign intelligence service by “forcing entry into a UK residential address”.

Mr Wai, who lives in Staines, Surrey, and is both a UK and Hong Kong national, also runs D5, a security company. On its website, he boasts of “having over 20 years’ experience in the British military, police and private security sector”.

On his Facebook page, he describes himself as a Hong Konger living in the UK, who had joined the Royal Navy after school and then saw active service in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya.

Mr Trickett, from Maidenhead, Berks, served as a commando in the Royal Marines between 2007 and 2013. He was also formerly employed by the UK Border Force at Heathrow before joining Home Office Immigration Enforcement in February this year. He is also listed as the sole director of MTR Consultancy, which he founded in 2021, and describes himself as a security consultant.

A neighbour described him as “nice and polite” but said he was “out of the country more than he was in it”. The neighbour, who did not wish to be named, said that police had raided Mr Trickett’s flat on May 2, with officers breaking down the door with a battering ram.

Mr Yuen, 63, known also as Billy Yuen, from Dalston, east London, is listed as the office manager for the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in central London. He declined to speak to The Telegraph after returning to his flat following his court appearance. 

Neighbours of Mr Yuen described him as a “model citizen” and expressed astonishment at his arrest, insisting it must have been a “mistake”.

Hong Kong leader John Lee on Tuesday called for full information from British authorities on the arrests of the three men, including Mr Yuen.

Mr Lee confirmed that Mr Yuen was a university classmate and he was photographed with him in a group graduation photo from 2002.

Mr Lee cited a statement from the Chinese embassy in London, rejecting what it called “the UK’s fabrication of the so-called case and its unwarranted accusation” against the Hong Kong government.

The men were released on bail after District Judge Louisa Cieciora said they must abide by a 10pm to 5am curfew, report weekly to police, not travel abroad and inform police of devices used to access the internet.

A further seven men and a woman arrested in raids in Yorkshire and London have been released without charge.

Commander Dominic Murphy, head of Scotland Yard’s Counter-Terrorism Command, said: “A number of arrests were made and searches carried out across England as part of this investigation. While led from London, the Counter-Terrorism Policing network has been crucial to disrupting this activity and we have worked closely with the Crown Prosecution Service since the start of the investigation.”

A Home Office source said: “We take all cases of potential internal misconduct incredibly seriously, immediate steps are always taken to ensure that risks are managed swiftly. As is normal practice for cases like these we are reviewing our processes.”

Since the crackdown on pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong in 2019, there have been concerns that Beijing is harassing dissidents in the UK.

The Government gave almost three million residents of Hong Kong the right to move to the UK permanently in 2020. The ruling, which represented the biggest opening of the UK borders since the 1948 British Nationality Act, applied to Hong Kongers who held a British National Overseas (BNO) passport.

Dominic Raab, then deputy prime minister, said at the time the UK was honouring its “historic responsibility” to the people of Hong Kong

Since then, it is estimated that 125,000 Hong Kongers have entered the UK, making it one of the largest migrant waves modern Britain has ever seen.

Mr Tugendhat, in his brief as security minister, is preparing to order new guidance to police on how to spot Chinese repression campaigns being conducted against dissidents in the UK.

In an interview with The Telegraph, Grant Shapps, the Defence Secretary, announced investment for six new ships to counteract Chinese aggression in the Indo-Pacific region.

Suella Braverman, the former home secretary, said in response to yesterday’s charges: “If we are serious about national security we must … declare China a hostile state.”

Bob Seely, a senior Tory MP and prominent China critic, said: “It’s quite clear that there is a significant uptick in espionage operations from both Russia and China, as well as subversive work from Iran too.”

He raised concerns that MI5’s resources would be spread too thinly if the Labour – as it intended to do –deployed the intelligence agency “to police our borders”.

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The woman who won the heart of the most eligible bachelor in England

She’s about to marry one of the richest men in the country in a lavish aristocratic wedding, yet the future Duchess of Westminster remains remarkably low-key.

Last week, Olivia Henson, 31, made her first public appearance when she visited three charities in Chester that her fiancé Hugh Grosvenor’s Westminster Foundation is supporting. As she chatted to charity workers with her long brown hair, slim, willowy frame, perfect teeth and stylish Sandro floral-print trousers and &OtherStories jacket, Henson drew comparisons with a young Catherine, Princess of Wales. And her wedding next month at Chester Cathedral has been almost as talked about as that royal wedding.

As the Duke is close friends with both the Prince and Princess of Wales and Prince Harry – he is godfather to Prince George and Archie, and the godson of King Charles – it was rumoured that Hugh and Olivia’s nuptials on June 7 could be the event to bring the warring brothers back together. But depending on who you believe, either the Duke of Sussex turned down his “save the date” to avoid an “awkward” encounter with the other members of the royal family, or the Sussexes were NFI to avoid overshadowing Hugh’s big day.

So what do we know about the woman who has won the heart of the man known as “the most eligible bachelor in England”? Just like the Princess of Wales, Henson studied at Marlborough College (she was contemporaries with Princess Eugenie) but unlike the Princess of Wales she’s no “commoner”. She is of aristocratic stock, descended from the Hoare banking family, the Marquesses of Bristol and the Dukes of Rutland. Her uncle, Charles Wolrige Gordon, is the Grand Master of Scottish freemasons, Scotland’s senior freemason. Her father, Rupert Henson, is a stockbroker and she has two siblings – 29-year-old Jasper, who works in asset management for a property company, and 26-year-old Emilia, who is a brand relationships manager at the beauty box company Latest In Beauty.

Henson speaks Spanish and Italian, having studied Hispanic Studies and Italian at Trinity College, Dublin (she got a 2:1) and before Marlborough she attended the prestigious Dragon School, Oxford, which she attended alongside Emma Watson. 

After stints working for drinks companies such as Daily Dose Juices and No.1 Rosemary Water, she is now a senior account manager at Belazu, an environmentally friendly B-corp which imports chef-quality, sustainably-sourced ingredients from across Europe. Pictures on the company’s website show her on a trip to Morocco in printed harem pants and dancing to Take That’s ‘Never Forget’ in sunglasses. She met Grosvenor, who is worth £10 billion and known as “Hughie”, in October 2021 through mutual friends.

When Henson and Grosvenor released their official engagement photo in April last year, taken in the grounds of his family home of Eaton Hall in Cheshire, eyebrows were raised at how casual it was. One commentator remarked that Henson hadn’t brushed her hair and appeared to be wearing pyjamas. But, says royal expert Victoria Murphy, that sums up the couple’s low-maintenance, relaxed approach.

“Despite the billions in the bank, they seem like a normal, modern, young couple,” says Murphy, who met them last week as they toured Chester charities. “They both seem very invested and committed to their foundation and making a difference in the community. She was very composed and confident, especially considering it was her first public appearance. She remembered people’s names and was very chatty and natural. I got the impression she’s very passionate about food – she made a comment about restaurants being in her wheelhouse and how good the restaurants are in Chester.”

The couple plan to live in the cathedral city for most of the time, with Henson saying: “It’s obviously a place where we will live, where we’ll be building our lives together. And we’re slowly transitioning to move up from London and be much more permanent here and really putting roots down. So actually, yes it was a really easy decision in the end.” 

Their wedding next month will be held at Chester Cathedral, with the reception at Eaton Hall. No other details have been revealed, but it’s thought it will be a low-key, casual and sustainable affair. “Although they’re obviously high-profile they seem very guarded and private and humble,” adds Murphy, who said Olivia’s engagement ring was a “silver pillowy style” but nothing flashy. Henson notably didn’t show it in the engagement photo.

Last time the Duke of Westminster had a big party at Eaton Hall was a neon-themed bash for his 21st back in 2012, where 800 guests (including the Duke of Sussex) partied with entertainers including Michael McIntyre and Rizzle Kicks. It cost a reported £5 million. When Hugh’s sister Lady Tamara Grosvenor wed Edward van Cutsem at Chester Cathedral in November 2004, thousands of onlookers lined the streets, and the city is expecting a similar turnout next month.

Although after all the speculation about which royals will attend, it looks as though it may just be William. “I don’t know if Charles and Camilla will be there,” says Ingrid Seward, royal commentator. “Friday is not the day they enjoy having engagements – especially as far away as Chester which would mean an un-environmentally friendly helicopter. But they might have to go as Charles is a godfather to Hugh. Otherwise, I think William will have to carry the royal can.” 

The Prince of Wales is hotly-tipped to be Hugh’s Best Man, but it’s unlikely the Princess of Wales will attend due to health issues. Other notable names in attendance will be Hugh’s older sister Lady Edwina Grosvenor, who is married to TV presenter Dan Snow, and the British Skeet Shooting team – the 7th Duke of Westminster is an avid skeet shooter and represented Britain in the Olympics. 

It’s not yet known where the couple will honeymoon, although the Duke has a 37,000-acre hunting estate near Seville, Spain where guests can lawfully shoot boar and partridge. Prince William once sparked controversy when it was discovered he had been there just before launching an appeal to stop illegal wildlife hunting.

With just weeks to go until the big day, Hugh has said he is “incredibly excited” about the wedding which will be “nerve-wracking”. It’s the start of a new life for them in Chester and a new life for Olivia Henson as a Duchess. Let’s hope she manages to brush her hair.

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