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  1. Brexit: Theresa May under pressure to get DUP on side 5 December 2017 From the section UK Politics Related TopicsBrexit Image copyright AFP Theresa May is under pressure to get an agreement from the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) on the status of the Irish border when the UK leaves the EU. The prime minister pulled out of a deal with Brussels that would have kick-started trade talks after meeting fierce resistance from the DUP. The party said it would not accept a deal which saw Northern Ireland treated differently from the rest of the UK. Mrs May will return to Brussels as early as Wednesday to try again. She is under pressure to get an agreement on EU divorce issues before European leaders meet on 14 December to decide whether to give the green light to start talks on post-Brexit trade. The three issues that need to be resolved are the Irish border, citizens' rights and the amount of money the UK will pay as it leaves. Ireland 'disappointed' at no deal on Brexit Kuenssberg: What on earth happened? UK and EU fail to strike Brexit talks deal Sturgeon calls for 'special' Brexit deals Talks with European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker broke up without agreement on Monday, although both sides said they were hopeful of getting a deal by the end of the week. Mrs May had been expecting to make a major statement to MPs about a breakthrough in Brexit talks on Tuesday, but that has now been cancelled. Media playback is unsupported on your device Media captionThe DUP's Arlene Foster accused Dublin of trying to change the Good Friday agreement unilaterallyInstead, it is thought she will hold meetings with the DUP, as she attempts to get them to back her. She will also update ministers on the situation at a cabinet meeting. The DUP, which is Northern Ireland's largest party, has 10 MPs at Westminster and their support is vital to the government. This is because the Conservatives are without a Commons majority since June's general election, and rely on a deal with the DUP to ensure they can survive key votes. Media playback is unsupported on your device Media captionIrish PM Leo Varadkar said he was "surprised and disappointed"The DUP objected to a clause in a draft agreement with the EU that would guarantee "regulatory alignment" between Northern Ireland and the Republic. Ireland's Prime Minister Leo Varadkar is understood to have insisted on the clause to prevent the return of a "hard border" on the island of Ireland, amid concern it could undermine the 1998 peace treaty that brought an end to The Troubles. But the DUP says it would prevent Northern Ireland from leaving the EU "on the same terms" as the rest of the UK. Northern Ireland would effectively have remained in the EU's customs union and single market in all but name. Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said that if Northern Ireland was allowed to operate under different rules there was "surely no good practical reason" why other parts of the UK could not do the same - a message echoed by Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones and London Mayor Sadiq Khan. Leo Veradkar said he had been "surprised and disappointed" by the failure to get a deal on Monday and claimed the UK had changed its mind at the last minute after the DUP raised objections. Downing Street has not responded to Mr Varadkar's claim. But it said the Irish border was not the only outstanding problem and disagreement remains over the role of the European Court of Justice in overseeing EU citizens' rights in the UK after Brexit. Media playback is unsupported on your device Media captionTheresa May said she is "confident we will conclude this positively"The prime minister is expected back in Brussels for further talks before the end of the week. Sources declined to confirm reports that she would meet Mr Juncker and chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier on Wednesday. The government's chief whip, Julian Smith, is understood to have held talks with his DUP opposite number, Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, on Monday evening, as efforts began to get the party on side. View the full article
  2. Brexit: Theresa May in Brussels for key talks with EU 4 December 2017 From the section UK Politics Related TopicsBrexit Image copyright Reuters Theresa May is set to meet key EU figures for talks on Brexit which could determine whether the UK is able to move on to negotiations on trade. The BBC understands deals on the UK "divorce bill" and citizens' rights have been reached this weekend. But the Irish border remains an outstanding issue. The PM will meet European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker in Brussels, with Downing Street saying "plenty of discussions" lie ahead. The timings of Mrs May's visit marks a deadline set by Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, for her to come forward with an improved offer on the terms of the UK's withdrawal from the EU. The UK is hoping to start talks about a free trade agreement but the EU says it will only recommend this can take place when it deems "sufficient progress" has been made on the other issues. The UK voted for Brexit last year and is due to leave in March 2019, but negotiations between the EU and the UK have not yet reached a breakthrough. Will Ireland's demands delay Brexit? Brexit: All you need to know What will the EU say at the summit? Reality Check: What's happening with Brexit divorce bill? Mrs May will be accompanied by the Brexit Secretary David Davis for the discussions with Mr Juncker and Mr Tusk. Downing Street has described the meeting as an "important staging post" on the route to the "crucial" summit with the other 27 leaders in the middle of the month when it hopes trade talks can begin. However, Mr Tusk has stated Dublin must be satisfied there will be no return to a "hard border" between Northern Ireland and the Republic after Brexit, before the EU moves on to the next stage of negotiations. On Sunday, there were warnings from Tory Brexiteers not to give any more ground to Brussels. Analysis: 'Personal assurances sought' Image copyright Reuters Katya Adler, BBC Europe editor Brussels is in an upbeat mood. There's talk of movement, traction and an absence of negativity in last-minute negotiations before the prime minister's visit. This weekend diplomats finalised agreements on citizens' rights and the financial settlement. Ireland remains the outstanding issue. Dublin wants written assurances from Downing Street that the Good Friday agreement will be protected and that there will be no introduction of a hard border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. What's at stake here is not a final deal but for the EU to decide if enough progress has been made for Brexit talks to widen to include negotiations on the future shape of EU-UK relations. Theresa May's lunch with the European Commission President Jean Claude Juncker is key. She will be expected to given personal assurances and iron out any outstanding disagreements. If all goes smoothly, a joint UK-EU report will then be published locking in all understandings to date. Both sides describe themselves as cautiously optimistic but some in the UK are likely to feel the government has bowed too deeply to EU demands. Read more from Katya Mrs May's meeting comes as the EU withdrawal bill returns to the Commons for a fourth day of debate. Meanwhile, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has warned there will be no Brexit at all unless Mrs May is supported. His comments came after a series of prominent Conservatives including Jacob Rees-Mogg, John Redwood and former chancellor Lord Lawson signed a letter calling on Mrs May to refuse to settle the UK's "divorce bill" unless Brussels agrees to a series of demands. These included ending the European court's jurisdiction the moment the UK leaves in March 2019. The prime minister has promised that Brexit will end the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice in the UK. But she has suggested its remit might continue during an "implementation period" after this date. Whatnegotiations have already happened? Image copyright Getty Images Image caption The amount of money the UK will pay as part of Brexit has been one of the main sticking points so far The talks so far have focused on what happens to citizens' rights after Brexit, the amount of money the UK will pay, and the future of the Irish border. On the "divorce bill", the UK is understood to have recently increased its offer, which could be worth up to 50bn euros (£44bn). There has also been lots of focus on the Ireland question in recent weeks, with the Irish government seeking more information on the "frictionless border" the UK wants to establish so customs checks are not needed. Will Ireland's demands delay Brexit? The EU will only move on to talk about future issues like trade when "sufficient progress" has been made on these subjects - and is due to decide whether this has happened at a summit on 14 and 15 December. View the full article
  3. Are Saturday jobs less popular among children now? By Elisabeth Mahy Business reporter, BBC News 4 December 2017 From the section Business Image caption Rachel, 13, says she manages to balance her part-time job and school work A Saturday job used to be a rite of passage for many children, but pressure to succeed at school and other factors means that's no longer the case. The number of school children with a part-time job has fallen by a fifth in the past five years, new figures show. The findings come from a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to all local authorities across the UK responsible for issuing child employment permits. Employers need to apply for a licence to hire staff under the age of 16. More than 140 authorities responded to the FOI with the numbers of permits issued in 2012 up to 2016, which showed a steady downward decline over that period. Dr Angus Holford from the Institute for Social and Economic Research at the University of Essex said he believed young people in compulsory education are fearful that a part-time job could hinder their performance at school. "Teens are being told evermore that you need to get good GCSEs and A-levels to get a good job in the long term," he said. "Passing the exams you need now is looming larger in people's concerns." Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: "Properly regulated part-time work is a good way of helping young people learn skills that they will need in their working lives. "It is vital that young people, and their parents, ensure that any part-time work they are undertaking leaves them with sufficient time for study and rest." Image caption Krishan started a part-time job at age 15, working in a cafe at weekends But the drop in children working part-time isn't just about academic pressures, it's also due to changing consumer habits. One of the biggest drops in employment permits being issued was in Middlesbrough. In 2011, 101 permits were issued to 13 to 15-year-old children there, but in 2016 the number was just seven. The council said the "massive drop" was due to a decline in the number of people in the area who had a newspaper delivered to their door. Gareth Lewis, the chair of the National Network for Children in Employment and Entertainment, which sets guidelines and good practice for employers, said it was beneficial for children to have some form of part-time work. "(This decline) is not something we have been made aware of … it is hard to see why there may be a trend." Image caption Middlesbrough Council said the decline in the number of permits being issued for employing children was down to a drop in demand for newspaper deliveries Rachel, 13, works in a discount shop in Manchester. She said: "I enjoy my job because I'm earning money and it helps my confidence speaking to people and socialising with people I work with. "I have to be quite organised with my homework, so I'll often do some at lunchtimes and then do the rest as soon as I get home from work." Krishan started his first job at 15 working in a cafe in Cirencester, Gloucestershire. He has just turned 16. "I really wanted to gain my own sense of independence and I thought that getting a job would be a good way to do that. "I enjoy the sense of freedom it gives me because I'm able to make money as well as have free time to meet my friends." Where are the top areas for children at work? Norfolk County Council issued 1,376 permits in 2016. This was equivalent to just over one in every 20 children (5.2%) aged 13 to 15. Dudley in the West Midlands had 471 permits, equivalent to 4.4% of 13 to 15-year-olds. Can a part-time job lead to adult success? Image copyright Reuters Image caption Sir Martin Sorrell's dad gave him a part-time job while he was at school Is having a part-time job early on in life a marker for future professional success? Sir Martin Sorrell, chief executive of advertising and public relations firm WPP, told the BBC: "I was very lucky. My dad gave me a part-time job whilst at school. I was a salesman in one of his stores in Harlesden, selling radios, TVs, radiograms, fridges and vacuum cleaners, amongst other electrical accessories. "I also spent several weeks reviewing credit analyses for hire-purchase agreements ... business was an inherent part of our lives, perhaps to an unusual degree. There weren't many other kids who read the Financial Times on the bus to school." Preparing for work Some research has even shown that not taking on a Saturday or holiday job could be detrimental to a person later on. A 2015 study by the UK Commission on Employment and Skills found that not participating in part-time work at school age had been blamed by employers' organisations for young adults being ill-prepared for full-time employment. It also said this had negative implications for workforce productivity. Employment regulations state that work for 13 to 15 year-olds must be light duties only and between the hours of 7am and 7pm (including holidays). Jobs that need a permit include retail work, newspaper rounds, waiting on tables, office or clerical work, and leaflet delivery. The rules are different for baby-sitting or the odd job for families and individuals. More about this story Data on the number of permits issued by local authorities was gathered by the BBC using the Freedom of Information Act. We then used the official population estimates published by the Office for National Statistics to calculate the rate of employment of 13 to 15-year-olds in each area in 2016. View the full article
  4. Brexit supporters list demands for 'divorce bill' talks 3 December 2017 From the section UK Politics Related TopicsBrexit Image copyright AFP/Getty Image caption Theresa May will hold talks with Jean-Claude Juncker on Monday Leading Brexit supporters have urged the prime minister not to settle the UK's "divorce bill" unless the EU agrees to a series of conditions. The demands of the Leave Means Leave group include ending the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice the moment the UK leaves the EU in 2019. It comes with talks at a key point ahead of a key summit later this month. Meanwhile a minister suggested Brexit might not happen at all unless Theresa May is backed in the negotiations. Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt told ITV: "The choice we face now is not between this Brexit and that Brexit; if we don't back Theresa May we will have no Brexit - and she is doing an unbelievably challenging job amazingly well." Brexit: All you need to know Farage: I'd take my EU pension What will the EU say at the summit? Reality Check: What's happening with Brexit divorce bill? Mrs May is due to travel to Brussels on Monday for talks with European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker, hoping the EU will agree that "sufficient progress" has been made so far to begin trade talks. Leave Means Leave, which campaigns for "a clean Brexit", wrote an open letter to the PM setting out certain conditions the EU should agree to before the UK makes further financial commitments. What's holding things up? Image copyright Getty Images Image caption The amount of money the UK will pay as part of Brexit has been one of the main sticking points so far The talks so far have focused on what happens to citizens' rights after Brexit, the amount of money the UK will pay, and the future of the Irish border. On the "divorce bill", the UK is understood to have recently increased its offer, which could be worth up to 50bn euros (£44bn). There has also been lots of focus on the Ireland question in recent weeks, with the Irish government seeking more information on the "frictionless border" the UK wants to establish so customs checks are not needed. Will Ireland's demands delay Brexit? The EU will only move on to talk about future issues like trade when "sufficient progress" has been made on these subjects - and is due to decide whether this has happened at a summit on 14 and 15 December. What is Leave Means Leave? The campaign group describes itself as the "campaign for a clean Brexit". Signatories of its letter to the prime minister include former Tory cabinet ministers Owen Paterson, John Redwood and Lord Lawson and ex-Brexit minister David Jones. Backbench MPs Jacob Rees-Mogg (Conservative) and Labour's Graham Stringer have signed it, as have several economists and business leaders. Former Conservative leader Lord Howard - who hasn't signed the letter - told the BBC's Sunday Politics he shared the "aspirations" it contains. What they want The letter says the EU has not matched the "patience and goodwill" Theresa May has shown so far, and says the UK should make no "further financial commitment" until it agrees to certain conditions. From March 2019, they say: There should be an "in principle" agreement for a free trade deal to be in place The current free movement of EU citizens into the UK should end No new EU regulations should apply in the UK The European Court of Justice should "cease to have any jurisdiction whatsoever" in the UK The UK should be prepared to revert to World Trade Organisation terms if a future free trade agreement with the EU is not secured, they add. Speaking on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show, Mr Rees-Mogg said if the UK remains subject to European court rulings after March 2019 "we will have stayed in the European Union". What the government says Theresa May has promised that Brexit will end the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice in the UK. But she has suggested its remit might continue during an "implementation period" after March 2019, which would not satisfy the Leave Means Leave demands. On immigration, ministers have said free movement must end with the UK's EU membership but have promised businesses a "cliff edge" will be avoided in terms of employing foreign workers. Meanwhile, there have been more warnings on the subject of the EU court from former Court of Appeal judge Sir Richard Aitkens and ex-Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith. The Sunday Telegraph reports that Sir Richard, the president of the Lawyers for Britain group, has written to Mrs May saying that giving the ECJ the exclusive jurisdiction over EU citizens' rights would be "tantamount to reversing the result of the 2016 referendum". In a separate article in the Telegraph, Mr Duncan Smith warns the plan would be "quite unacceptable" as it would put the UK in the position of "ceding power to a foreign court". View the full article
  5. Social mobility board quits over lack of progress 2 December 2017 From the section UK Politics Image caption Mr Milburn took up his role with the board in 2012 The board of the government's Social Mobility Commission has stood down in protest at the lack of progress towards a "fairer Britain". Ex-Labour minister Alan Milburn, who chairs the commission, said he had "little hope" the current government could make the "necessary progress". Tory former cabinet minister Baroness Shephard is among three others to quit. In a resignation letter first reported by the Observer, Mr Milburn said ministers were preoccupied with Brexit. He said that meant the government "does not have the necessary bandwidth to ensure the rhetoric of healing social division is matched with the reality". Mr Milburn added: "It seems unable to commit to the future of the commission as an independent body or to give due priority to the social mobility challenge facing our nation." He took up his role with the commission, which monitors progress towards improving social mobility in the UK, and promotes social mobility in England, in July 2012. 'Unable to commit' The resignations come as Theresa May, who entered Downing Street in July 2016 promising to tackle the "burning injustices" that hold back poorer people, faces questions over the future of senior minister Damian Green - who is effectively her second in command - and is under pressure as Brexit talks continue. In his resignation letter addressed to Mrs May, Mr Milburn said he was standing down with "much sadness" and was "deeply proud of the work the commission has done". He said: "All the main political parties now espouse a Britain that is less elitist and more equal, while growing numbers of employers, universities, colleges, schools and councils have developed a shared determination to create a level playing field of opportunity in our country." Mr Milburn added: "Individual ministers such as the secretary of state for education have shown a deep commitment to the issue. "But it has become obvious that the government as a whole is unable to commit the same level of support... "I do not doubt your personal belief in social justice, but I see little evidence of that being translated into meaningful action." View the full article
  6. Damian Green porn row: Police in 'dangerous territory' 2 December 2017 From the section UK Politics Media playback is unsupported on your device Media captionDamian Green speaking to reporters outside his home in his constituency of AshfordEx-detectives who disclosed that legal pornography was found on Damian Green's office computer are in "dangerous territory", a former police chief says. Sir Peter Fahy, ex-chief constable of Greater Manchester, said it was vital police were "not involved in politics". Ex-attorney general Dominic Grieve said their actions were "very worrying" and smacked of the "police state". First Secretary of State Mr Green denies watching or downloading pornography on his computer. Speaking on BBC Two's Newsnight, Mr Grieve described the decision by the officers to release the information from a police investigation dating back to 2008 as a "flagrant breach" of their code of conduct. "Eight years later they choose to put material that an ordinary citizen would be prohibited from acquiring under data protection rules into the public domain on their own judgement. "I find it very worrying." And Sir Peter, Greater Manchester's chief constable for seven years, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that the former officers had a duty to protect confidential information uncovered during an investigation. He said: "It is very dangerous territory for a police officer to be making judgements about whether a politician is lying or not. "That should only happen in a criminal investigation, and even then, ultimately it is for a court to decide." Image copyright PA Image caption Peter Fahy, a former chief constable, said police had a duty to protect confidential information According to the College of Policing's Code of Ethics, which applies to forces in England and Wales, police agree to disclose information "only in the proper course of my duties". Tory MPs, including Brexit Secretary David Davis, have backed Mr Green - effectively Theresa May's second-in-command - saying it was wrong for such claims to emerge through the media. The allegations were first raised last month by former Met assistant commissioner Bob Quick, who led a 2008 inquiry into Home Office leaks which saw Mr Green's Commons office being searched. 'Thousands' of images He made the claims after the Cabinet Office launched an investigation into accusations of inappropriate behaviour by Mr Green towards journalist Kate Maltby, which the MP has described as "completely false". On Friday, retired Scotland Yard detective Neil Lewis told BBC News "thousands" of thumbnail images of legal pornography had been found on Mr Green's parliamentary computer in 2008. Davis 'warns No 10 not to sack Green' 'Thousands' of porn images on MP's computer Scotland Yard has confirmed its department for professional standards was examining allegations that Mr Lewis had disclosed confidential information. Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Mr Grieve accused the two former officers of "freelancing" Mr Grieve, attorney general in David Cameron's government between 2010 and 2014, said: "If you think something is relevant you do it by proper official means. You do not go freelancing as these two officers have done... "We give the police powers that other people do not have. They are not and must not be allowed to abuse those powers." Media playback is unsupported on your device Media caption"I was shocked": Former detective constable Neil Lewis speaks to the BBCHowever, former Gloucestershire chief constable Tim Brain said that the information was in the public interest. He told Newsnight that the officers had come forward with what they considered "relevant information" to an ongoing inquiry. Mr Brain said: "Let's just think about this as a workplace computer and to think whether we are happy that people, our MPs, can have this kind of material on what is an official computer." 'Willing to resign' On Friday, sources close to David Davis told the BBC the Brexit Secretary had warned Downing Street not to sack Mr Green as a result of a "wrongful attempt by former officers to do him down". One said Mr Davis might be willing to resign over the issue, although another stressed no threat had been made. "It's right that allegations of misconduct towards individuals are properly investigated," said an associate of Mr Davis. "But police officers have a duty of confidentiality which should be upheld". What is the row all about? The allegations date back to November 2008 when the Conservatives were in opposition and Damian Green was their immigration spokesman He embarrassed the Labour government with a series of leaks about illegal immigration and other issues Police raided his Parliamentary office as part of an inquiry into how he got his hands on confidential documents His office computer was seized and he was detained for nine hours - sparking fury among Tory MPs No charges were brought against the MP or civil servant Christopher Galley, who passed unauthorised material to Mr Green, although the official was sacked The officer in charge of the inquiry, Bob Quick - widely criticised by Tory MPs for the raid - resigned six months later over an alleged security breach But a month ago, Mr Quick disclosed that pornographic material had been found on the seized computer, adding that the police had not pursued the matter at the time or told Mr Green about it The matter has since been investigated by the Cabinet Office as part of a wider inquiry into claims of inappropriate behaviour by Mr Green towards journalist Kate Maltby The inquiry is believed to centre on the ministerial code, which sets out the standards of conduct expected of government ministers. Other MPs to criticise the action of the former officers included the chairman of the Commons culture committee, Damian Collins. He told BBC Radio 4's Any Questions the Cabinet Office "should receive and see any evidence" that's pertinent to its investigation. The DUP's leader at Westminster, Nigel Dodds, said "police are not above the law" and their actions had been "totally wrong". Speaking to reporters at his Kent home on Friday, Mr Green said: "I have maintained all along and I still maintain - it is the truth - that I did not download or look at pornography on my computer, but obviously while the investigation is going on, I can't say any more than that." View the full article
  7. Kaspersky Labs: Warning over Russian anti-virus software By Gordon Corera Security correspondent 1 December 2017 From the section UK Image copyright EPA The British government has issued a fresh warning about the security risks of using Russian anti-virus software. The National Cyber Security Centre is to write to all government departments warning against using the products for systems related to national security. The UK cyber-security agency will say the software could be exploited by the Russian government. Security firm Kaspersky Labs, accused in the US of being used by the Russian state for espionage, denied wrongdoing. Kaspersky Labs is widely used by consumers and businesses across the globe, as well as by some parts of the UK government. Around the world, 400 million people use Kaspersky products. Kaspersky defends its role in NSA breach Russian security firm Kaspersky denies spy agency work For it to work, anti-virus software like that sold by Kaspersky Labs requires extensive access to files on computers and networks to scan for malicious code. It also requires the ability to communicate back to the company in order to receive updates and share data on what it finds. However, the concern is that this could be used by the Russian state for espionage. Officials say the National Cyber Security Centre's (NSCS) decision is based on a risk-analysis rather than evidence that such espionage has already taken place. In the new government guidance, Ian Levy, NCSC's technical director, said: "Given we assess the Russians do cyber-attacks against the UK for reasons of state, we believe some UK government and critical national systems are at increased risk." The NCSC is understood to have been in dialogue with Kaspersky Labs and says it will explore ways of mitigating the risks to see if a system can be developed to independently verify the security of its products. It comes amid heightened concern about Russian activity against the UK. Last month, Prime Minister Theresa May warned the Russian state was acting against the UK's national interest in cyberspace. Following her warning, Ciaran Martin, chief executive of the NCSC, said Russia had targeted British infrastructure, including power and telecoms. Image copyright Reuters Image caption Eugene Kaspersky Officials stress they are not recommending members of the public or companies stop using Kaspersky software. "Beyond this relatively small number of systems we see no compelling case at present to extend that advice to the wider public sector, more general enterprises, or individuals," Mr Levy added. "Whatever you do, don't panic. For example, we really don't want people doing things like ripping out Kaspersky software at large as it makes little sense." 'No facts' Kaspersky has faced a series of accusation in the US press in recent months. It responded to one claim, that it downloaded classified US material from a home computer in the US, by presenting a detailed explanation of what took place. It has always said there is no truth to the claims. Earlier this week, Eugene Kaspersky, chief executive and co-founder of the company, told me: "We don't do anything wrong. We would never do that. It's simply not possible." He denied claims the Russian state could use the company. "It's not true that the Russian state has access to the data. There are no facts about that," he added. Mr Kaspersky said that if he was ever asked by the Russian state to hand over data he would move his company out of the country. View the full article
  8. David Davis 'warns No 10 not to sack Damian Green' 1 December 2017 From the section UK Politics Media playback is unsupported on your device Media captionDamian Green speaking to reporters outside his home in his constituency of AshfordDavid Davis has warned Downing Street not to sack Damian Green as a result of a "wrongful attempt by former officers to do him down", sources close to the Brexit Secretary have told the BBC. One said Mr Davis might be willing to resign over the issue, although another stressed no threat had been made. It comes after an ex-detective said "thousands" of legal porn images had been found on Mr Green's computer. Mr Green says he never watched or downloaded pornography on the computer. 'Thousands' of porn images on MP's computer Mr Davis has thrown a "protective cloak" around the First Secretary of State, who is effectively Theresa May's second-in-command, a source told the BBC. The Brexit Secretary feels he "has a dog in the fight" because Mr Green was his subordinate on the Conservative home affairs team of shadow ministers when the material was allegedly discovered on Mr Green's computer in 2008, the BBC's deputy political editor John Pienaar said. According to one source, Mr Davis might be prepared to contemplate resignation, if he felt Mr Green had been "mistreated". Media playback is unsupported on your device Media caption"I was shocked": Former detective constable Neil Lewis speaks to the BBCAnother close associate said no threat of resignation had been made but the Brexit's secretary's strong feeling had been conveyed to Downing Street "at the highest level". It was made clear that the warning from Mr Davis did not apply to the possibility of Mr Green losing his job under any circumstances, says John Pienaar. "It's right that allegations of misconduct towards individuals are properly investigated," said an associate of Mr Davis. "But police officers have a duty of confidentiality which should be upheld". Meanwhile, informed sources have suggested the Cabinet Office report into Mr Green's conduct - which ranges wider than allegations of viewing pornography on an office computer, and covers accusations of inappropriate conduct - could be finally placed on the prime minister's desk early next week. Former Scotland Yard detective Neil Lewis told BBC News "thousands" of thumbnail images of legal pornography had been found on Mr Green's computer during a 2008 inquiry into government leaks. Conservative MP Andrew Mitchell defended Mr Green on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, saying: "It is the misuse of entirely legal information to blacken the name of a serving cabinet minister." But Mr Lewis said a check of the computer's internet history over a three-month period showed pornography had been viewed "extensively". On Tuesday, Scotland Yard confirmed its department for professional standards was examining allegations that Mr Lewis had disclosed confidential information. A statement from the Metropolitan Police said: "Confidential information gathered during a police inquiry should not be made public." View the full article
  9. David Dearlove found guilty of 1968 Paul Booth murder 1 December 2017 From the section Tees Image copyright Cleveland Police Image caption David Dearlove had denied murder and child cruelty A man who swung his toddler stepson by the ankles and smashed his head into a fireplace has been convicted of murder. David Dearlove, 71, had denied killing 19-month-old Paul Booth at their home in Stockton-on-Tees in 1968. Paul's brother Peter, who was three years old when he witnessed the attack after he crept downstairs for a drink, went to police in 2015. Dearlove, now of Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, will be sentenced at Teesside Crown Court later. The Facebook post that caught a killer The inquest into Paul's death in 1968 recorded an open verdict. But in 2015, Peter went to the police after seeing a photo on Facebook of his little brother sitting on Dearlove's knee. He said as a three-year-old he had seen Dearlove swinging Paul round their living room in Stockton and witnessed the boy's head striking the fireplace. Image copyright Cleveland Police Image caption David Dearlove claimed Paul Booth was injured when he fell out of bed The court heard Dearlove had been violent towards Peter and Paul as well as their sister Stephanie Marron who also accused him of cruelty, saying he punched her and pulled her down the stairs. During the trial, Dearlove insisted Paul suffered the fatal head injury when he fell out of bed onto a concrete floor, although he told police when he was arrested in 2015 that he collapsed in the living room. He said he changed his story because he had forgotten the events of 1968. Image copyright Cleveland Police Image caption Paul Booth's brother Peter said he peered around the door into the living room and saw the attack Home Office pathologist Mark Egan demonstrated how the toddler could have died by swinging a doll by the ankles and banging its head on the surface of the witness box, causing some of the 10 men and two women of the jury to weep. He also said he believed it would have taken separate blows to cause the "z-shaped" skull fracture on the side of Paul's head. The jury also heard that injuries on Paul's body indicated were not accidental, but were caused by someone in the house. Dearlove was also convicted of child cruelty charges, and Mr Justice Males warned him he faced a mandatory life term. View the full article
  10. 1 December 2017 From the section Business RBS says it will close 259 branches and cut 680 jobs as it reduces costs and encourages customers to use online and mobile services. The closures involve 62 Royal Bank of Scotland branches, and 197 NatWest branches. The bank says it will try to make the necessary redundancies voluntary ones. View the full article
  11. Damian Green computer porn claims: 'Thousands' of images viewed By Danny Shaw Home affairs correspondent, BBC News 1 December 2017 From the section UK Politics Image caption Damian Green is Prime Minister Theresa May's deputy A former Scotland Yard detective has told BBC News he was "shocked" by the amount of pornography viewed on a computer seized from the Commons office of senior Tory MP Damian Green. Neil Lewis examined the device during a 2008 inquiry into government leaks and has not spoken publically before. He said "thousands" of thumbnail images of legal pornography were on it. Mr Green, Theresa May's deputy, has said he never watched or downloaded pornography on the computer. But Mr Lewis said a check of the computer's internet history over a three-month period showed pornography had been viewed "extensively". 'No doubt' On some days, websites containing pornography were being searched for and opened for several hours. Mr Lewis, who retired from the Metropolitan Police in 2014, said although "you can't put fingers on a keyboard", a number of factors meant that he was sure it was Mr Green who was accessing the pornographic material. His analysis of the way the computer had been used left the former detective constable in "no doubt whatsoever" that it was Mr Green, who was then an opposition immigration spokesman but is now the first secretary of state. "The computer was in Mr Green's office, on his desk, logged in, his account, his name," said Mr Lewis, who at the time was working as a computer forensics examiner for SO13, the counter-terrorism command. "In between browsing pornography, he was sending emails from his account, his personal account, reading documents... it was ridiculous to suggest anybody else could have done it." Similar material had also been accessed on Mr Green's laptop, he claimed. Image caption Neil Lewis said he was "shocked" by the quantity of porn viewed on a computer used by Damian Green A Cabinet Office inquiry, set up last month to investigate allegations that the 61-year-old had made inappropriate advances to a political activist, Kate Maltby, is also examining the pornography claims. The inquiry is believed to centre on the ministerial code, which sets out the standards of conduct expected of government ministers. The code says they are expected to demonstrate "the highest standards of propriety" and contains reference to the Nolan Principles that holders of public office should be "truthful". A spokesperson for Mr Green said: "It would be inappropriate for Mr Green to comment on these allegations while the Cabinet Office investigation is ongoing, however, from the outset he has been very clear that he never watched or downloaded pornography on the computers seized from his office. "He maintains his innocence of these charges and awaits the outcome of the investigation." Image caption Police evidence tag for the computer found in Damian Green's office Despite being told about Mr Lewis's role examining Mr Green's computers, the Cabinet Office inquiry has not contacted him to give evidence. The Cabinet Office declined to give an explanation for that, but it's thought its inquiry may have approached the Metropolitan Police directly for details about the computers. The force has said it is not prepared to discuss the matter. During his time on SO13, Mr Lewis worked on some of Britain's most high-profile terrorism inquiries, including the 21/7 attack on London's transport network in 2005 - when he took a lead role examining digital devices. He also worked on Operation Miser, an investigation into Home Office leaks that began in October 2008 and resulted in Mr Green's Commons office being searched by police. Mr Lewis's job on the investigation was to search for material relating to documents that had been disclosed without authorisation from the Home Office, on computers used by Mr Green. 'Not morally correct' In accordance with standard police practice, Mr Lewis carried out the examination on digital copies he had made of the computers' hard drives. When he ran a "gallery view" of images viewed on the desktop computer in Mr Green's Portcullis House office he noticed "a lot of pornography thumbnails which indicated web browsing", that he later confirmed by an examination of the computer's internet history. The pornography was not "extreme", as some reports have suggested, and did not contain images of children or abuse, said Mr Lewis, who previously served in the Met's obscene publications unit and carried out investigations into paedophiles. The matter was not referred to the Crown Prosecution Service for a charging decision. The former detective, who spent 25 years with the Met, said after the leaks inquiry ended he was ordered by the force to delete the data on the computer copies he had made. "Morally and ethically I didn't think that was a correct way to continue," he said. The officer erased the data, as instructed, but kept the copies knowing experts could retrieve the information if they had to. However, he now believes the items may have been destroyed. Image caption A page from Neil Lewis's police notebook refers to pornography When he left the force after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, Mr Lewis said the only police notebook he took with him was the one he had used during Operation Miser. The notebook, seen by the BBC, contains a reference to pornography. "This one case, Operation Miser, I have never been comfortable with," he said, claiming the Parliamentary authorities should have been informed about the "extensive" time Mr Green allegedly spent looking at pornographic material. "If a police officer does that, or anyone else, you'd be dismissed, you'd be thrown out." The MPs' code of conduct states members should always behave with "probity and integrity, including in their use of public resources". The pornography allegations were first alluded to by Bob Quick, a former Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner, in written evidence to a Parliamentary committee in 2009. He said the discovery of "private material" on Mr Green's office computer had "complicated" the inquiry into Home Office leaks. Media playback is unsupported on your device Media captionPorn was allegedly viewed on Mr Green's office computer after police raids in 2008In 2011, Mr Quick expanded on the matter in a draft statement for the Leveson Inquiry into press ethics, but it was removed from the final version, only to resurface last month in a Sunday Times article. Mr Green responded to Mr Quick's assertions by accusing him of spreading "disreputable political smears", an attack that so infuriated Mr Lewis that he approached the former counter-terrorism chief to offer his support. He even thought about contacting the cabinet minister directly. "His outright denial of that was quite amazing, followed by his criticism of Bob Quick," said Mr Lewis. "I think he [Mr Green] should have resigned a long time ago." Sir Paul Stephenson, Met Commissioner during the leaks investigation, told the BBC he had been briefed about the pornography in 2008 but considered it to be a "side issue". The Office of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards has said it has no record of a referral being made. View the full article
  12. Irish border: Brexit committee says solution doubtful 1 December 2017 From the section UK Politics Related TopicsBrexit Image copyright PA It is not possible to see how the Irish border issue can be resolved after Brexit, the influential group of MPs scrutinising the process has said. The government wants no hard border between the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland and no customs border between the latter and the rest of the UK. Ministers have suggested technology could enable a "frictionless border". But the Committee for Exiting the EU said the proposals were "untested" and "to some extent speculative". 'Customs partnership' Northern Ireland will be the only part of the UK to share a land border with an EU member state after the UK leaves. Why is Northern Ireland border question so hard? DUP warns Brexit may jeopardise Tory deal Irish border won't be resolved until trade deal struck - Fox There is currently no physical infrastructure on the border but there is concern that this will have to change after Brexit. If the UK leaves the EU's single market and customs union, as the government intends, the Irish border will become the external border for the EU's single market and customs union. The Irish Republic wants Northern Ireland to keep following EU rules, so that goods can continue moving across the border - in effect, staying within the customs union and single market. But this would effectively push the customs border out into the Irish Sea, becoming an internal customs border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK - which the UK government rejects. In its report, the Exiting the European Union Committee says it does not see how it will be possible to reconcile these positions. Media playback is unsupported on your device Media captionCrossing the borderThe government has put forward two proposals, one using "technology-based solutions", such as pre-screening of goods and trusted trader schemes, to reduce the need for customs checks at the Irish border. The other would involve a "customs partnership", with the UK leaving the single market without introducing an EU-UK border - something the UK has admitted would be "challenging". The committee is urging the government set these proposals out in more detail. DUP warning UK Prime Minister Theresa May has said the UK and Irish governments "have the same desire" on the border - to ensure that the movement of trade and people continues "as now" and that no new barriers are created. The government added that it remained "absolutely committed to finding a solution that works for the people of Northern Ireland and Ireland". Media playback is unsupported on your device Media captionAny attempt to 'placate Dublin and the EU' could jeopardise DUP support for ToriesThe Irish government has always insisted there must not be a hard border between the Republic and Northern Ireland, with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar saying he must have written assurance from the UK before Brexit talks can move on. But Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party has warned that any attempt to "placate Dublin and the EU" could lead to the end of its confidence-and-supply agreement with the UK's Conservative government. The DUP struck a deal with the minority Conservative government in June, agreeing to support Tory policies at Westminster, in return for an extra £1bn in government spending for Northern Ireland. The Committee for Exiting the EU itself was split over the report, with five of its 21 members - four Conservatives and a DUP MP - voting to reject it. The report also includes a call for the government to publish the likely terms of any transition period governing what will happen immediately after Brexit in March 2019. It says it is "essential" that the details of the arrangements be published by the end of March so as to give businesses enough time to prepare. It adds that any deal reached on the rights of EU citizens in the UK and vice versa should not be dependent on getting the so-called Brexit divorce bill or the Irish border issue agreed. View the full article
  13. Sammy Wilson warns Brexit talks may jeopardise DUP-Tory deal By Mark Simpson BBC News NI 30 November 2017 From the section Northern Ireland comments Related TopicsBrexit Media playback is unsupported on your device Media captionAny attempt to 'placate Dublin and the EU' could jeopardise DUP support for ToriesDUP MP Sammy Wilson has warned that his party's deal to support the Conservative government could be jeopardised by the Brexit negotiations. He said any attempt to "placate Dublin and the EU" could mean a withdrawal of DUP support at Westminster. He was responding to a Times newspaper report about a possible Brexit deal. It would involve devolving powers to Northern Ireland to enable regulatory convergence with the EU/Irish Republic on areas like agriculture and energy. Tory-DUP deal: What you need to know First £50m from 'DUP deal' to be released Mr Wilson said that the UK government will "have to recognise that if this is about treating Northern Ireland differently, or leaving us half in n the EU, dragging along behind regulations which change in Dublin, it's not on". Earlier on Thursday, DUP leader Arlene Foster said that the government had a "clear understanding that the DUP will not countenance any arrangement that could lead to a new border being created in the Irish Sea". Mr Wilson said the proposal mooted in The Times report was unworkable, and revealed the DUP would be seeking clarification from the government on its accuracy. 'Half in the EU' The DUP struck a deal with the Conservative government in June, agreeing to support Tory policies at Westminster, in return for an extra £1bn in government spending for Northern Ireland. Image caption The DUP signed a "confidence and supply" deal to keep Theresa May's government in power Mr Wilson said his party will be "making clear to the government we have a confidence and supply arrangement with them". The East Antrim MP added that "if there is any hint that in order to placate Dublin and the EU, they're prepared to have Northern Ireland treated differently than the rest of the UK, then they can't rely on our vote". 'No special status' Mr Wilson was speaking in a BBC interview in his East Antrim constituency on Thursday afternoon. Image caption Sammy Wilson was angered by the details in the newspaper report The DUP has consistently opposed calls for Northern Ireland to be granted "special status" within the EU, in a bid to resolve border issues. The party has accused Irish nationalists of using the special status campaign as "an opportunity separate Northern Ireland from the rest of the United Kingdom, with a border in the Irish Sea". Under the type of plan mooted in The Times report, regulations relating to customs would be harmonised on both sides of the Irish border. It would allow a freer flow of traffic and goods, in line with the UK's aim of making the crossing as "frictionless" as possible. View the full article
  14. UK repeats condemnation of Trump far-right retweets 30 November 2017 From the section US & Canada Image caption Amber Rudd said the UK would not "tolerate" groups that spread hate UK Home Secretary Amber Rudd has repeated Downing Street's condemnation of Donald Trump's retweeting of videos posted by a far-right group. Ms Rudd told MPs the US president had been "wrong" to share the Britain First posts. She said the UK government would "not tolerate any groups who spread hate by demonising those of other faiths or ethnicities". Mr Trump earlier hit back at Downing Street's criticism of his tweets. He told Prime Minister Theresa May to focus on "terrorism" in the UK after she criticised his sharing of far-right videos. "Don't focus on me, focus on the destructive radical Islamic terrorism that is taking place within the United Kingdom," Mr Trump tweeted. MPs are debating an urgent question by Labour MP Stephen Doughty, who called for a planned state visit by Mr Trump to be cancelled. Ms Rudd said the invitation for a state visit "has been extended and accepted" but the "dates and the precise timings have yet to be decided". Image copyright Reuters Image caption Theresa May and Donald Trump meeting at the UN General Assembly The US and the UK are close allies and often described as having a "special relationship". Theresa May was the first foreign leader to visit the Trump White House. Skip Twitter post by @realDonaldTrump Report End of Twitter post by @realDonaldTrump MPs have been reacting to the tweet, with Work and Pensions Secretary David Gauke backing Mrs May and calling Britain First a "ghastly, obnoxious organisation". But while Education Secretary Justine Greening said she disagreed with Mr Trump's actions, they should not be allowed to damage the special relationship between the two countries. The videos shared by Mr Trump, who has more than 40 million followers, were initially posted by Jayda Fransen, the deputy leader of Britain First, a group founded by former members of the far-right British National Party (BNP). Ms Fransen, 31, has been charged in the UK with using "threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour" over speeches she made at a rally in Belfast. Several leading UK politicians have criticised the president for retweeting her posts, as has the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, who said it was "deeply disturbing" that Mr Trump had "chosen to amplify the voice of far-right extremists". And it has led to renewed calls for Mr Trump's planned state visit to the UK to be cancelled, although Downing Street said on Wednesday that the invitation still stood. London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who has previously called for the "ill-judged" trip to be cancelled, said: "It beggars belief that the president of our closest ally doesn't see that his support of this extremist group actively undermines the values of tolerance and diversity that makes Britain so great. "After this latest incident, it is increasingly clear that any official visit at all from President Trump to Britain would not be welcomed." In hitting out at Mrs May, Mr Trump first tagged the wrong Twitter account, sending his statement to a different user with just six followers. He then deleted the tweet and posted it again, this time directing the message to the UK PM's official account. After already condemning Mr Trump's actions on Wednesday, Brendan Cox - whose wife, MP Jo Cox, was murdered by a right-wing extremist who shouted "Britain first" before committing the act - told the US president to focus on problems in his own country. Skip Twitter post by @MrBrendanCox Report End of Twitter post by @MrBrendanCox Media playback is unsupported on your device Media captionAnn Coulter defends the US president on Today after he hit out at Theresa May over far-right tweets An unnecessary controversy By Anthony Zurcher, North America reporter It's clear at this point that Donald Trump won't let a perceived slight or criticism go unanswered - even if it's from a supposed friend. Even if it's from the leader of the president's closest international ally. So shock isn't exactly the right word to describe the reaction to Mr Trump's initially botched attempt to tell Theresa May to, in effect, mind her own business. This is just another example of the US president's self-described "modern-day presidential" use of social media, where Twitter is a cudgel for score-settling no matter the diplomatic cost. When Mr Trump assumed the presidency, one of the first foreign dignitaries he received was Mrs May, and it appeared they formed a quick bond - briefly holding hands as they walked past the White House Rose Garden. Those bonds will now be tested in a spat over a few morning retweets of inflammatory videos. It's a wholly unnecessary controversy, but the international consequences could be all too real. What did Trump retweet? The first video purportedly shows a "Muslim migrant" attacking a young Dutch man on crutches. However, the claim in this tweet appears to have little substance. A spokesperson from the Dutch Public Prosecution Service told the BBC that the person arrested for the attack "was born and raised in the Netherlands" and was not a migrant. The Dutch embassy in Washington DC confirmed this on Twitter. Skip Twitter post by @NLintheUSA Report End of Twitter post by @NLintheUSA The second video retweeted by Mr Trump shows a man smashing a statue of the Virgin Mary. Read more about the videos Why is Britain First big online? This video was uploaded to YouTube in 2013. The man in the clip says: "No-one but Allah will be worshipped in the land of the Levant," which could place him in Syria. The third video originates from the riots that took place in Egypt in 2013, and shows a man being pushed from the top of a building in Alexandria. In 2015, those involved in the incident were prosecuted, and one man was executed. Media playback is unsupported on your device Media captionBrendan Cox, the husband of murdered UK MP Jo Cox, said Mr Trump was "legitimising hatred"White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said on Wednesday that Mrs May and other world leaders knew that "these are real threats that we have to talk about". "Whether it's a real video, the threat is real," she said. What other reaction has there been? Mr Trump's actions on Wednesday were criticised by both Democrats and Republicans. Republican Senator John McCain said he was "surprised" at the president's tweets. Meanwhile, Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah said that Mrs May was "one of the great world leaders", adding that he had "incredible love and respect for her". Skip Twitter post by @senorrinhatch Report End of Twitter post by @senorrinhatch Khizr Khan, the father of US soldier Humayun Khan who was killed in the Iraq war, told Today: "[Mr Trump] holds the hatred. He is an actor, he acts and fabricates these facts to exploit people, innocent people, that fall victim to his bigotry and he sees the benefit. "We all need to unite ourselves, all decent people of the world, against the menace of terrorism." In the UK, many politicians voiced their concerns about the videos that were shared. Communities Secretary Sajid Javid said the president had "endorsed the views of a vile, hate-filled racist organisation". Skip Twitter post by @sajidjavid Report End of Twitter post by @sajidjavid And Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson tweeted that Britain First had "no place" in British society. Opposition MPs were even stronger in the criticism, with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn describing the retweets as "abhorrent" and "dangerous". Speaking in the Commons, Labour MP David Lammy accused Mr Trump of "promoting a fascist, racist, extremist hate group". You might also be interested in: Google faces mass legal action in UK over data snooping Migraine therapy that cut attacks hailed as 'huge deal' Mulan: Disney casts Chinese actress Liu Yifei in lead role View the full article
  15. Levi Bellfield allegedly confessed to Russell murders 29 November 2017 From the section Wales Serial killer Levi Bellfield is alleged to have confessed to one of the UK's most notorious murder cases. Lyn Russell, 45, and daughter Megan, six, were killed months after moving to Kent from north Wales. Josie, nine, survived despite horrific injuries. Michael Stone was found guilty in 2001 largely on the strength of a disputed cell confession. When contacted by BBC Wales Bellfield denied both allegations of the murders and the confession. Image copyright PA Image caption Shaun and Lin Russell with daughters Megan (centre) and Josie (right) It is alleged he has confessed in length and in detail to a fellow prisoner whom he had grown to trust. All conversations are said to have been written up contemporaneously and immediately reported to a solicitor. It is claimed Bellfield said he saw the Russells by chance and goes on to talk about details which Stone's legal team insist, would only be known by the killer. Bellfield - currently serving two whole life terms - was reportedly worried about DNA advances saying "my life in jail would be over if they could prove it was me" and that it would "tear his mother in two". Image copyright REX/Shutterstock Image caption Serial killer Bellfield worked as a bouncer, drug dealer and wheel clamping contractor Known as the 'Bus Stop Killer', he randomly launched a so-called 'blitz attack' from behind, striking his victims repeatedly on the head with a hammer. In 2011 the nightclub bouncer, drug dealer, and wheel-clamping contractor was convicted of abducting and murdering 13-year-old Milly Dowler as she walked home from school in Surrey in 2002. By then he had already been convicted of three other attacks in south west London - murdering 19-year-old Marsha McDonnell in 2003, Amelie Delagrange, 22, in 2004 and in the same year attempting to kill 18-year-old Kate Sheedy, by running her over. She survived her injuries. Image caption Amelie Delagrange, murder; Kate Sheedy, attempted murder; Milly Dowler, abduction/murder; Marsha McDonnell, murder It is widely believed by detectives that Bellfield is responsible for numerous crimes dating back to the 1980s. And this is not the first time his name has been linked with the Russell murders. Even though the attack happened over 20 years ago it remains one of the UK's most notorious cases. The mother and two daughters were attacked just before 16:30 BST on 9 July 1996, as they walked with the family dog home from school in Chillenden, near Dover. Half way along a country lane, they were accosted by a man, tied up, made to sit in a copse, blindfolded and bludgeoned with a claw hammer, one by one. Image caption A car had passed the Russells on the unmade track before the driver stopped and attacked them Image copyright Alamy When they were found eight hours later; it was thought all were dead. Josie was found to have a faint pulse. Remarkably, she survived. She lives and works as an artist in north Wales, having returned to Gwynedd with her father soon after the attack. A year after the murders a tip off to Crimewatch from a psychologist who worked at a local psychiatric assessment centre, led to the arrest of 36-year-old Michael Stone from Gillingham. Image caption Michael Stone had a criminal history In October 1998, Stone, a heroin addict with a criminal history, was convicted. In the absence of any forensic evidence, the jury believed the main thrust of the prosecution's case - three prison inmates who claimed Stone had confessed. One of the inmates admitted soon after the trial ended that they had lied and another was discredited. Stone's legal team challenged his conviction. A retrial was ordered. But one of the inmates, Damien Daley, then aged 26, held firm to his claim that Stone had confessed to him in grisly detail. The judge's summing up to the jury was unequivocal: "The case stands or falls on the alleged confession of Damian Daley." In late 2001, Stone was once again found guilty and given three life sentences. As the judge addressed him, Stone cried out: "It wasn't me your Honour, I didn't do it!" Since then Stone has failed in two appeal bids. His legal team has confirmed that details of Bellfield's alleged confession have now sent to the Criminal Cases Review Commission - an independent body which investigates suspected miscarriages of justice - in the hope they will refer the case to the Court of Appeal. "Given what we know about the lack of evidence… presented to the jury in the actual trial," Stone's barrister Mark McDonald QC says, "this confession is so profound, significant, that it goes to the heart of the conviction of Michael Stone. It's unsafe." Image copyright Metropolitan Police Image caption Bellfield denies any part in the murders or making a confession When asked to respond to the possibility of new allegations in this case, Kent Police said that Stone's protests of innocence had been thoroughly tested by the judicial system. Ever since Bellfield's conviction for the murder of Milly Dowler, Stone's legal team have claimed Bellfield may have been responsible for the Russell murders. Meanwhile, Bellfield has been contacted by BBC Wales Investigates and denies both the murders and the confession. He claims he has three letters from Stone and has complained about his "persistent attempts" to get him to take responsibility. He also alleges Stone has offered to give him a share of any compensation money he might get. Lie detector test Stone vehemently denies this. Bellfield added that he had challenged Stone to a lie detector test. Stone has spoken about his reluctance to do this claiming he had been advised that his history of psychiatric problems and drug addiction could impact its accuracy. Recently there has been a war of words between the two convicted killers from behind bars at Durham's Frankland prison where they are both being held, which has been reported in newspapers. A BBC Two investigation of the Russell murders entitled The Chillenden Murders was broadcast in June this year. A panel of experts was given access to all case files to re-examine the evidence. It is this programme which is claimed to have prompted Bellfield's alleged confession. The panel concluded that despite advancements in DNA there was still no forensic link to Stone and it was likely another man was at the scene. BBC Wales Investigates: The Russell murders Thursday at 20:30 GMT BBC One Wales and BBC iPlayer View the full article