The Telegraph 2024-05-30 16:00:43


LIVE General election 2024: ‘I won’t make you change car prematurely for net zero’, Sunak vows

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Rishi Sunak has said he won’t force people to change their cars as part of premature net zero schemes.

Speaking to workers at a factory in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, on Thursday, he said: “Of course I believe in climate change, I want to get to net zero.

“The questions is how do we get there. We need to be more serious. I want to prioritise our country’s energy security…we are better off getting it here at home.

“I also want to prioritise your bills. What I don’t want to do is force you prematurely to rip out your boiler, change your car. We don’t need to do them right now.”

Mr Sunak held a short speech and Q&A at the factory Niftylift, a cherry picker manufacturer, while on the campaign trail.

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Child and three others shot in ‘drive-by’ gun attack

A nine-year-old girl is in serious condition and three others have been injured following a shooting in Hackney, east London, on Wednesday night

The child was inside a restaurant having dinner with her family when a firearm was discharged from a motorbike outside, police said.

Three men, aged 26, 37 and 42, who were sitting outside the restaurant, were also injured and taken to hospital for treatment.

Their conditions are stable but one potentially faces life-changing injuries.

Police were called to the scene on Kingsland High Street at around 9.20pm on Wednesday, with specialist firearms officers attending.

No arrests have been made and police are investigating the incident.

A stolen motorbike which is believed to have been used in the shooting was recovered in nearby Colvestone Crescent by police.

Chief Superintendent James Conway said: “The investigation is being led by our specialist crime colleagues and we’re supporting them with specialist local officers as we conduct fast-time inquiries to identify and apprehend those responsible and to establish the motive behind the shooting.

“The investigation is at an early stage and we’re keeping an open mind as to that motive.

“We’re keen to identify other witnesses who were in the area around the scene at the time of the shooting.

“Similarly, if you were in Kingsland High Street at the time of the shooting and have information or footage from a phone or another device, please share that with us.”

Witnesses reported seeing a motorcyclist speeding away from the scene near the Evin restaurant.

There are unconfirmed reports that the motorcyclist fired shots towards the direction of the restaurant.

An anonymous witness told the Hackney Gazette that he used his coat to help a victim whose leg was bleeding.

The man was eating at the Evin restaurant which he said was “busier than usual” before the incident. 

When the shooting began he said that everyone dived onto the floor and under the tables.

“It was chaotic,” he said.

Antonia, a local resident who was at a restaurant nearby, told the Hackney Gazette that she heard five or six gunshots and saw a person speeding away on a motorcycle, leaving one person lying on the ground.

“At first everyone didn’t think it was [a shooting], it sounded like a car not working, but we were in Nando’s and we just saw people running past,” she said.

“Everyone stepped out to look and we could see loads of people surrounding that shop.

“The police took ages to come and prior to that we saw the motorcyclist. He went around Nando’s on that road.”

“It happened really quickly.”

Footage of the incident shows four men gathered around the body of a man lying on the ground. He is wearing blue jeans and a white t-shirt and blood stains can be seen on the ground next to him.

In a separate clip, police can be heard calling for pedestrians to move back before approaching the body, while a third video appears to show two bodies on the ground.‌

Rodrique Evans, 49, a former housing manager and father of one, said: “I thought it was a car with a revamped engine. I convinced myself it wasn’t shots, then about 8 minutes later, I heard the blue lights flying past.

“It was a bit of a shock when I saw the cordon this morning.

He added: “I’ve seen at least 16 shootings or stabbings in this area in the last couple of years. I’ve become a bit desensitised now.”

Miklos, a nearby resident of 20 years, said: “It’s shut down like this maybe once every two months.”

When asked if he thought it was gang violence, he said: “Well that’s what came to mind right away. If it’s not, then it’s even worse.”

Trung Nguyen, 24, who works locally, said: “It’s tragic, it’s happened quite a lot in London. And more action needs to be taken to prevent this.

“It’s definitely made me feel insecure. It still brings a sense of shock, especially something like a shooting. We get these stories about knives. But for someone to bring a gun to this area. It’s shocking.”

A London Ambulance Service spokesman said: “We were called at 9.21pm on Wednesday to reports of a shooting on Kingsland High Street, Hackney.

“We sent resources to the scene, including ambulance crews, advanced paramedics, incident response officers and members of our tactical response unit. We also dispatched a trauma team from London Air Ambulance, which consisted of a doctor and a paramedic in a car.

“We treated three adults and one child at the scene before taking them all to a major trauma centre.

Matt Ward, Deputy Assistant Commissioner, said: “We know Londoners will be shocked by what has taken place tonight.

“Our thoughts go to all those affected.

“Fast moving enquiries are under way and we will update as soon as we can. If anyone has any information, please contact us.”

Anyone with information that can help police should call 101 or post @MetCC reference CAD 8082/29May. To remain anonymous call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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Watch: Britons brawl in Majorca as islanders vow to block tourists from beaches

Eight British men on a stag party were arrested after brawling on a Majorca beach on the same day locals vowed to take to the sands to protest against rowdy tourists.

Islanders in Majorca have vowed to block tourists from “every centimetre” of beach this weekend as protests against the effects of over-tourism intensify.

Tourism has brought great wealth to the Balearic Islands but locals now say that they are being choked by traffic congestion, high prices, overcrowding and unaffordable rents.

After about 10,000 islanders marched through the streets of Palma, the capital, last weekend, protesting against saturation tourism, new demonstrations are planned for this weekend.

It came as dozens of British tourists kicked and punched each other outside a bar on a beach in Majorca on Thursday.

Video showed some two dozen people scuffling in the sand and in the sea, throwing each other to the floor, some with beer cans still in hand.

The brawl occurred at 7:30pm on the Illetes beach in Calvia after a waiter reprimanded the group for throwing cans of beer and rubbish into the sea, Diario De Mallorca reported, citing City Hall sources.

The party responded violently and attacked the waiter, prompting other staff and beachgoers to get involved.

Groups of police arrived and eight of the Britons were arrested.

The waiter was taken to a medical centre after being hit on the head and knocked unconscious, while two police officers also suffered injuries.

Locals say that they want to take back their beaches from the millions of tourists who descend on the island each summer.

Many residents were furious when a Spanish politician suggested that they could no longer expect to enjoy their own beaches in July and August, at the height of the tourist season, and instead they should make way for international visitors.

“I understand the discontent but us Mallorcans, who live directly or indirectly from tourism, cannot expect to go to the beach in July and August like we did years ago,” said Manuela Canadas, a member of the far-Right Vox party in the Balearic Islands’ regional parliament.

She warned islanders not to bite the hand that feeds them. “There are other, more attractive destinations and we can end up going hungry because here there’s a lack of jobs.”

In reaction to those comments, activists are urging locals to occupy beaches on Saturday.

Under the hashtag “OcupemLesNostresPlatges” – Catalan for “Let’s Occupy Our Beaches” – a campaign group called Mallorca Platja Tour (Majorca Beach Tour) wrote on social media: “We invite all residents near the beaches to go for a swim, recover our beaches and enjoy them as before. The beaches are for everyone!”

One supporter suggested staging a protest on a beach called S’Arenal near Palma. “Come to S’Arenal and don’t leave a single centimetre for the guiris,” he said, using a local derogatory word for foreign visitors.

Another local wrote: “Let’s fill the beaches!”

The protest on Saturday is intended as a warm-up for a bigger demonstration on June 16, with activists saying that they intend to “fill the beach with Mallorcans”.

In response to the growing disquiet over the effects of mass tourism, on Thursday, Palma’s city council was due to discuss a range of new measures suggested by Jaime Martinez, the mayor, to try to tackle the problem.

They include limiting the number of cruise ships allowed to dock in Palma, banning the biggest cruise ships, imposing new taxes on cruise ship passengers when they disembark, restricting the number of rental cars that can enter the city at a time, and limiting and banning party boats and booze cruises.

During the protest in Palma last weekend, some participants booed tourists who were drinking and eating in bars and restaurants.

They held placards, one of which read: “Salvem Mallorca, guiris arruix” – Catalan for “Let’s save Majorca, foreigners out”. Another read: “Enough Mass Tourism”.

Javier Barbero, one of the organisers, told local media: “This is just the start of things. If measures aren’t taken, we will continue taking to the streets until we see action.”

There were similar protests in Ibiza and Minorca, the two other Balearic Islands. Last year, the archipelago attracted more than 14 million visitors.

Tourism accounts for about 45 per cent of the islands’ GDP, according to data from Exceltur, an industry organisation.

The protests in the Balearic Islands follow similar demonstrations in the Canary Islands in April.

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Watch: Man accused of driving without a licence appears in court – while driving

A man accused of driving without a licence dialled into his remote court hearing in Michigan from behind the wheel of a car.

Corey Harris, 44, appeared before the dumbfounded courtroom from his moving vehicle despite being charged with driving on a suspended licence. 

Cedric Simpson, the judge hearing the case in Washtenaw County, looked confused as the defendant joined the virtual Zoom hearing, asking him: “Mr Harris, are you driving?” 

The defendant replied: “I’m pulling into my doctor’s office actually,” before casually turning the steering wheel and saying he would be ready in “one second”. 

Waiting until Mr Harris had parked, Judge Simpson then condemned the defendant for flagrantly breaking the law.

He told Mr Harris’s lawyer, who was present in court: “So maybe I don’t understand something. This is a driving with a suspended licence [case]. And he was just driving. And he didn’t have a licence.”

‘I don’t even know why he would do that’

Natalie Pate, defending, said that those are “simply the charges” and requested an adjournment of three to four weeks.

After a long pause, Judge Simpson responded: “No, I’m looking at his record. He doesn’t have a licence. I don’t even know why he would do that.”

The video, published on the court’s YouTube channel, then showed the judge revoking Mr Harris’s bail and sentencing him to jail time.

Mr Harris was instructed to turn himself into the Washtenaw County Jail by that evening.

“Oh, my God,” responded the defendant from his car seat, dropping his head to his chest.

Records show Mr Harris was booked into the Washtenaw County Jail that evening, before eventually being released on bail. A case hearing is scheduled for June 5, according to court records.

In Michigan, a first offence for one instance of driving on a suspended licence can lead to a $500 fine and up to 93 days in jail.

A second offence could result in one year in jail and a $1000 fine.

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Electrician dumped dead giant tortoises in Devon woodland

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Bulgarians behind UK’s biggest benefits fraud ‘systematically plundered’ welfare system

A Bulgarian gang who orchestrated the largest benefits fraud ever uncovered in the UK were able to go undetected for years because of a “woefully inadequate checking system” at the Department for Work and Pensions.

The five defendants, who “systematically plundered” the UK’s welfare system, were jailed for a total of 25 years and five months.

Galina Nikolova, 39, Stoyan Stoyanov, 28, Tsvetka Todorova, 53, Gyunesh Ali, 34, and 27-year-old Patritsia Paneva all admitted stealing upwards of £50 million of taxpayers’ money over a four and a half-year period.

False claims were made using an array of forged documents for Universal Credit with real people who were “nearly always living in Bulgaria” and who “were complicit and also gained financially”.

At Wood Green Crown Court on Thursday, Judge David Aaronberg said the sums involved were “eye-watering”, adding: “You systematically plundered the state’s support mechanism for the needy in order to fund your lifestyles and those of many others.”

He it was fraud on an “industrial scale”, which had resulted in the loss of millions of pounds to the taxpayer, adding: “It falls to me to sentence you today for your involvement, along with others not before the court, in the largest fraud of its type ever to be prosecuted in this country.”

‘Woefully inadequate’ systems

Judge Aaronberg added that the gang had been able to operate for so long because of “woefully inadequate checking systems” at the Department for Work and Pensions which failed to identify “repeated use of the same names, addresses and telephone numbers”

The court heard that one phone number had been used for around 600 false claims and around 40 shell companies, set up to provide false payslips, were all registered to one address.

There were a similar number of properties that were “recycled and repeatedly used” for thousands of different claims, the court heard.

Nikolova and Ali, the “leading” architects of the fraud, were jailed for eight years, and seven years and three months respectively. They were told they were also banned from being company directors for 12 years and were liable for deportation following their release from prison.

Ali was said to have “revelled” in the vast amount of cash he was making through his dishonesty, which he used to fund a lavish lifestyle.

The judge said he “rejected entirely” claims by Nikolova that she had been forced to carry out the fraud out of fear of others who had not been prosecuted.

Paneva, who said she worked from a windowless office at the back of a grocery store, processing claims for the gang, was sentenced to three years and two months. The judge said she had been “recruited” by Nikolova because of her “naivety”, and there was no evidence that she had enjoyed a lifestyle like the other defendants.

Stoyanov, described as a “trusted subordinate”, was seen laughing in the dock before he was jailed for four years. The court heard Stoyanov, Nikolova’s partner, was a “conduit for those higher up in the chain”.

Todorova, who was operating her own fraud with a similar methodology and stole just under £300,000, was given a three-year sentence. However, because she had already served 18 months in prison on remand, half of her sentence, she was able to leave court on licence.

Judge Aaronberg said the gang had been able to operate for so long because of “woefully inadequate checking systems” at the Department for Work and Pensions, which failed to identify “repeated use of the same names, addresses and telephone numbers”.

The fraud was only uncovered after a lone policeman in Sliven, Bulgaria, tipped off British authorities when he noticed that his city was suddenly awash with cash and criminals were “living like barons”.

The Telegraph previously revealed that thousands of people living in Sliven, of whom many had never visited Britain, were receiving up to £2,500 a month in benefits from the UK.

Inspector Vassil Panayotov, who alerted police in Britain, said the true scale of the fraud was likely to be hundreds of millions of pounds higher than estimated.

Judge Aaronberg, thanked the Bulgarian authorities for their “assistance and cooperation” in the case.

‘Industrial-scale fraud’

He said the sentencing guidelines envisaged a maximum fraud of £2 million, adding: “In respect of you, Mr Ali and you, Ms Nikolova, I am dealing with losses to the taxpayer which exceed by more than 10 times the highest amount of money specified in the guideline.”

At a previous hearing, the judge speculated that those making the sentencing guidelines “may never have contemplated the possibility that there could be a benefit fraud as big as this”.

The gang members were charged with conspiracy to make false representation, which carries a maximum 10-year sentence and were entitled to credit for their guilty pleas and time served.

Ben Reid, a specialist prosecutor for the Crown Prosecution Service, said: “For a number of years, these defendants conspired to commit industrial-scale fraud against the Universal Credit system, costing the taxpayer more than £53 million.

“Submitting thousands of false claims, the organised criminals enriched themselves from government funds designed to protect and help the most vulnerable people in our society. The CPS proceeds of crime division and DWP will now pursue confiscation proceedings against the defendants, to remove from them any available criminal benefit from this enterprise.”

The DWP has been approached for comment.

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