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Press release: PM commits to government-wide drive to tackle loneliness

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Today (Wednesday 17 January) the Prime Minister will set out how government is tackling loneliness and combating social isolation.

She will announce that the government is accepting a series of recommendations from the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness.

The Prime Minister will host a reception at Downing Street to celebrate Jo Cox’s legacy, and the important work of her family, Foundation and the Commission in highlighting how many people are experiencing loneliness.

Research shows:

  • more than 9 million people always or often feel lonely
  • around 200,000 older people have not had a conversation with a friend or relative in more than a month
  • up to 85% of young disabled adults – 18-34 year olds – feel lonely

Ahead of the reception, the Prime Minister paid tribute to Jo Cox, her family and to those working for the Foundation and Commission for highlighting the issue.

The Prime Minister said:

For far too many people, loneliness is the sad reality of modern life.

I want to confront this challenge for our society and for all of us to take action to address the loneliness endured by the elderly, by carers, by those who have lost loved ones – people who have no one to talk to or share their thoughts and experiences with.

Jo Cox recognised the scale of loneliness across the country and dedicated herself to doing all she could to help those affected.

So I am pleased that government can build on her legacy with a ministerial lead for loneliness who will work with the Commission, businesses and charities to shine a light on the issue and pull together all strands of government to create the first ever strategy.

Speech: PM speech at V&A reception: 18 January 2018

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I am delighted to welcome you to the world-famous V&A this evening – a jewel in the crown of Britain’s culture. And now, like so much of Britain, further enriched by a French contribution – with Alice Dietsch as Project Director for the development of the stunning Exhibition Road Quarter which opened last Summer. And I am very pleased that Alice joins us here this evening, together with British architect Amanda Levete, whose practice delivered the whole project.

This evening marks the culmination of the 35th Franco-British Summit.

Traditionally this Summit has focused on our security and defence partnership. And it is right that today we have deepened that partnership further.

And of course we meet in the year that marks a century since the end of the First World War, when our troops fought side-by-side in defence of our shared belief in freedom and resistance against aggression.

And today we stand together against new threats to that same shared belief in freedom. And as I said in my very first speech as Prime Minister in the British Parliament – in the aftermath of the appalling terrorist attack in Nice – “the values of liberté, égalité and fraternité will prevail.”

But tonight is about even more than the defence of our shared values. It is about celebrating those values and the extraordinary depth of the people to people links between our countries.

Here in this Gallery tonight we have partners in business that make up just some of the £71 billion of trade between our countries every year.

Partners in science – from joint space programmes to joint working on genomics in the fight against cancer.

Partners in culture – for example, with your wonderful offer to bring the Bayeux Tapestry to our shores. The first time in almost a thousand years that people right here in Britain will have the opportunity to see a piece of French art that is so important to both our national stories.

Partners in sport – sharing ideas and expertise about major sporting events ahead of the 2023 Rugby World Cup and the 2024 Paris Olympics.

News story: UK to step up French operations in Africa as PM and President Macron meet for UK-France Summit

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The Prime Minister is expected to make the announcement as part of the UK-France Summit at The Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, where she will discuss the UK’s strong and wide-ranging bilateral relationship with President Macron.

The helicopters, which will provide logistic support to French troops, are part of a wider effort to increase stability in the Sahel region of Africa in order to tackle Islamist terrorism.

UK and French efforts in the region aim to provide greater stability, reducing the global terrorist threat and stemming the flow of illegal migration to Europe.

The UK has been a long-standing supporter of UN, EU and African Union military operations in Mali and has worked with international partners to prevent extremists from using the ungoverned space in the Sahel to plan and launch attacks on Europe, as well as counter the illegal trade in people, drugs, weapons and wildlife.

This is in addition to existing wider support to Africa including doubling our UN peacekeeping contribution with additional deployments to South Sudan and Somalia. Today the UK and France also agreed to work together to ensure EU African Peace Facility funding for AMISOM in Somalia.

The deployment of Chinooks to Mali will increase British support to France’s Operation BARKHANE, in addition to strategic air transport flights already being carried out by the RAF.

British military personnel will not be involved in combat operations, but the deployment of Chinooks will provide a niche capability providing logistical support but also saving lives by avoiding the need to move troops by ground where they are more vulnerable to attack.

Alongside the military contribution, DfID will allocate £50m of additional aid including lifesaving humanitarian support for hundreds of thousands of people affected by epidemics, natural disasters and conflict across Mali, Niger, Chad, North Cameroon, Burkina Faso and Mauritania.

This will provide 320,000 people with emergency food and nutrition support and provide protection for 255,000 internally displaced people, returnees, refugees and their host communities. It will also supply clean water and better sanitation for 150,000 people.

The FCO is also exploring ways to better support the UK national interest in the region by enhancing the UK diplomatic presence.

Hundreds of cases dropped over evidence disclosure failings

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The number of prosecutions in England and Wales that collapsed because of a failure by police or prosecutors to disclose evidence increased by 70% in the last two years, the BBC can reveal.

Last year, 916 people had charges dropped over a failure to disclose evidence – up from 537 in 2014-15.

It comes after recent collapsed rape cases highlighted a failure to share evidence with defence solicitors.

The Crown Prosecution Service said the justice system had "systemic" problems.

In the lead up to criminal trials, police and prosecutors have a duty to disclose evidence that might either assist the defence case or undermine the prosecution's.

However, the recent collapse of several rape cases has heightened concerns that evidence is not being disclosed early enough, and that the rules are not being followed.

'A daily struggle'

In December, the trial of Isaac Itiary, who was accused of raping a child, collapsed when new evidence came to light.

During Mr Itiary's trial, police failed to disclose messages which showed the girl, then 16 years old, had told the defendant she was 19.

The same month, the trial of Liam Allan, who faced 12 counts of rape and sexual assault, was also halted.

The case against Mr Allan was dropped when it emerged evidence on a computer disc – which police had looked through – showed messages from the alleged victim pestering him for "casual sex".

Newspapers threaten legal action for Worboys parole report

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Two newspapers have threatened legal action if the Parole Board does not publish its reasons for agreeing to release convicted rapist John Worboys.

The Sun and the Daily Mail have written to the board and Justice Secretary David Gauke demanding the report.

If they do not release it within seven days, the papers have said they will apply for a judicial review.

Both the board and Ministry of Justice said they are legally prohibited from disclosing Parole Board decisions.

Former black-cab driver Worboys, 60, was jailed for a minimum term of eight years in 2009 for drugging and sexually assaulting women passengers.

After a hearing about his case in November, the Parole Board decided to approve his release with "stringent" licence conditions.

The decision was met with a furore by Worboys' victims and in Parliament.

On Tuesday Scotland Yard confirmed it is investigating a new allegation of sexual assault made against him this month – though dating back to 1997 – which could delay his release date if it leads to criminal charges.

No arrests have been made.

Worboys was transferred from high-security prison HMP Wakefield in West Yorkshire to HMP Belmarsh in south-east London at the weekend – prompting fresh outrage that he may be allowed to return to the capital.

Newspapers threaten legal action for Worboys parole report

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Two newspapers have threatened legal action if the Parole Board does not publish its reasons for agreeing to release convicted rapist John Worboys.

The Sun and the Daily Mail have written to the board and Justice Secretary David Gauke demanding the report.

If they do not release it within seven days, the papers have said they will apply for a judicial review.

Both the board and Ministry of Justice said they are legally prohibited from disclosing Parole Board decisions.

Former black-cab driver Worboys, 60, was jailed for a minimum term of eight years in 2009 for drugging and sexually assaulting women passengers.

After a hearing about his case in November, the Parole Board decided to approve his release with "stringent" licence conditions.

The decision was met with a furore by Worboys' victims and in Parliament.

On Tuesday Scotland Yard confirmed it is investigating a new allegation of sexual assault made against him this month – though dating back to 1997 – which could delay his release date if it leads to criminal charges.

No arrests have been made.

Worboys was transferred from high-security prison HMP Wakefield in West Yorkshire to HMP Belmarsh in south-east London at the weekend – prompting fresh outrage that he may be allowed to return to the capital.

Deaf mum sues Little Mix promoter in sign language row

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Eight-year-old Cate Merry and her friend Megan are big fans of Little Mix.

They've got the T-shirts, the photo albums, the CDs, can sing the songs and rock the dance routines.

So how did their love of the band lead to unprecedented legal action?

Last year, Cate's mum Sally Reynolds bought six tickets to see the band in concert on 1 September at the South of England Event Centre in Sussex.

Sally is deaf and booked for herself and two deaf friends to go with their daughters who are all able to hear.

In order that she and her two friends could fully access the performance, Sally asked the organisers, LHG Live, to provide a British Sign Language interpreter.

She was initially offered carer tickets and told that she could bring her own interpreter, but she didn't consider that met her needs or amounted to full access.

Speaking exclusively to the BBC, Sally explained: "We asked two or three times, please can you provide the interpreter for us, and the explanation we got back was just a 'no'.

"It didn't have any reason behind it and eventually we became so frustrated.

"I wanted to share the same experience my daughter had – essentially I just wanted access to the songs."

Fresh assault claim against black cab rapist

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A fresh allegation of historical sexual assault has been made against black cab rapist John Worboys, it is understood.

The incident, which was reported to the police earlier this month, is reported to have taken place in 1997.

Scotland Yard is now investigating the claim against the 60-year-old, who has not been arrested.

Worboys, a former black cab driver, was jailed indefinitely in 2009 with a minimum term of eight years for drugging and sexually assaulting female passengers.

He was convicted of 19 offences relating to 12 victims, but has been linked to more than 100 complaints in total.

A controversial Parole Board decision to approve his release later this month, following his minimum eight-year term, has led to a moral outcry – with lawyers for his victims describing the move as "extremely distressing".

Video:Worboys victim fears black cab rapist may attempt to contact her

Over the weekend, Worboys was reportedly transferred from HMP Wakefield in West Yorkshire to HMP Belmarsh in southeast London – prompting outrage from MPs.

Justice Secretary David Gauke is facing demands for Worboys to be kept out of the capital – the area in which he preyed on his victims.

Tory MP Zac Goldsmith told the minister that Worboys' proposed release "has absolutely horrified and terrified his many, many victims".

Labour MP Neil Coyle told the House of Commons that Worboys "is not welcome back" to his home in Rotherhithe, south London, in the MP's constituency.

Finsbury Park suspect ‘warned of his intentions’

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The man accused of a deadly van attack near Finsbury Park Mosque is said to have warned drinkers of his intentions two days before.

Darren Osborne, 48, of Glyn Rhosyn in Cardiff, is accused of deliberately driving a hired van into a group of worshippers in north London on 19 June last year.

Image:One man died in the attack near Finsbury Park in north London

Makram Ali, 51, was killed and nine other people were injured in the attack.

Osborne at the van hire reception in Pontyclun, Wales. Pic. Met Police
Image:Osborne at a van hire reception in Pontyclun, Wales. Pic: Met Police

Woolwich Crown Court has heard evidence from several witnesses who said Osborne had been asked to leave his local pub near his home city the day before the attack, after upsetting drinkers and staff with Islamophobic statements.

It is alleged he said "all Muslims are terrorists" and that he was "going to take matters into my own hands".

Osborne at the bar of the pub in Cardiff. Pic. Met Police
Image:Osborne at the bar of the pub in Cardiff. Pic: Met Police

One witness, Calum Spence, was asked to help remove Osborne, who was speaking in an "aggressive and agitated manner".

When Mr Spence said he was in the Army, Osborne said he was too but would not say which regiment he was in.

"You’ll find out tomorrow," he is alleged to have said.

Moments before the van hit the crowd gathered around Mr Ali on Seven Sisters Road. Pic. Met Police
Image:Moments before the van hit the crowd gathered around Mr Ali on Seven Sisters Road. Pic: Met Police

Prosecutor Jonathan Rees QC said Osborne drove to London the next day and attempted to target an Islamic march but couldn’t gain access.

Video footage showing Mr Ali collapsing on Seven Sisters Road, and the van subsequently hitting the crowd was played to the jury on Monday and Tuesday.

4 things the CIA director let slip in rare public appearance

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The CIA will ‘push back against the Russians’ wherever it finds them, the agency’s director said in a rare public appearance. He also revealed tantalizing tidbits about its priorities in North Korea, Latin America and elsewhere.

Speaking at the conservative American Enterprise Institute (AEI) think-tank in Washington on Tuesday, CIA Director Mike Pompeo looked back at his year-long tenure at the agency. In the process, he offered some revelations about the CIA’s operations and aspirations, as well as some burning geopolitical questions.

Upon taking over the agency a year ago, Pompeo said the CIA’s mission would be “to steal secrets” in the name of the US, and “do so aggressively and without any apology.” Yet the CIA also needs to operate in such a way that it earns and keeps the trust of the American people.

North Korea’s nukes

Within weeks of taking over, Pompeo created a North Korea mission center, because there hadn’t been one in place. Someone had to be brought out of retirement to lead it.

“We’re in a much better place today when we were 12 months ago,” Pompeo said, but noted the capabilities were still not where he would like them to be, in particular when it came to assessing the effect of sanctions and identifying those breaking them.

Asked if the CIA believes North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is a rational actor, Pompeo replied: “We do.”

However, he said the agency does not believe Kim is accurately informed by his own officials. So the CIA is taking “real-world actions” to send him a message that the US is serious about denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

The CIA also believes Kim wants nuclear weapons for “more than just regime preservation,” but for other objectives, such as reunification of Korea under his rule.

Director Pompeo: We do believe that Kim Jong Un, given these tool sets (nuclear capabilities) would use them for things besides just regime protection…and that includes to put pressure on what is his ultimate goal: the reunification or the Korean Peninsula. @AEI@CIA

— AEI Foreign Policy (@AEIfdp) January 23, 2018