Entries in Britain (68)


French Magazine Publishes Topless Photos of Kate Middleton

John Stillwell - WPA Pool/Getty Images(LONDON) -- Just when the furor over Prince Harry’s naked romp in a Las Vegas hotel room seemed to have subsided, comes news that a French magazine has published topless photos of his sister-in-law, Kate Middleton.

According to Britain’s Mirror, the French magazine Closer claims to have exclusive photos of Middleton topless on the terrace of a guest house in France.  The royal couple was in France last week.

The Closer website shows an image of the magazine’s front cover with a pixilated woman with dark hair about to remove her bikini top.  The magazine claims it is Middleton.

Middleton and her husband, Prince William, are said to be “saddened” by the news.  The couple, whose official title is the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, are on a tour of Southeast Asia and are currently in Malaysia.

The Mirror reports the two were told about the French publication’s plans to publish the photos on Friday.

A source tells the newspaper, “They’re saddened their privacy has been breached -- if it has been breached.  It’s very disappointing.”

The source added, “We will talk to our lawyers in London and counterparts in Paris to see what options are available.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Britain Mulling Quicker Withdrawal from Afghanistan

ISAF Photo by British Royal Army Sergeant James Elmer(LONDON) -- Britain is considering hastening the pace of its troop withdrawal from Afghanistan.

The goal of the U.S. and its coalition allies is to pull out virtually all forces by sometime in 2014 in accordance with the wishes of the Afghan government.

While the U.S. currently has an estimated 67,000 soldiers in the country, Britain is second most with 9,000.

British Defense Secretary Philip Hammond is now suggesting that his government could order thousands of troops out of Afghanistan in a year from now because he is "surprised by the extent to which they have been able to draw back and leave the Afghans to take the lion's share of the combat role."

Hammond also stressed that the British drawdown would be coordinated by how the U.S. sees the situation develop in Afghanistan a year from now.

He emphasized that while the Afghan military has seemed to improve at a faster rate than expected, the government is lacking when it comes to taking diplomatic steps to end the nearly 11-year war.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Digital QR Codes Offer Interactive Cemetery Experience in Britain

Courtesy Chester Pearce Associates(LONDON) -- For centuries we have marked our dead with lifeless granite -- graves inscribed with names, dates, perhaps small inscriptions about the departed.  But stones do not tell stories.

Now, a funeral home in Britain is attaching tiny digital codes to headstones, giving visitors the chance to see, hear, even experience the lives of the dead.  No longer are graveyard visitors limited to letters and numbers etched into tombstones.

The markers, known as Quick Response or QR codes, look like a combination of a barcode and Rorschach blot and are attached to the back corner of the stone.  A smartphone with a QR reader can scan the code, launching websites or multimedia collections created by the family, providing an interactive life story to anyone standing over the grave, or logging in online.

"It is about keeping the memory of someone alive," Stephen Nimmo, managing director of the funeral home Chester Pearce Associates, told ABC News.  "This man or woman really did something -- these are the people they knew, these are their family, this is where they went.  You can learn a lot more about people than what you see on the stone."

QR codes have been used in advertisements for years, and a handful of American funeral homes began attaching them to gravestones in early 2011.  This appears to be the first time they have been placed on gravestones in the United Kingdom.

Nimmo said the codes are for both visitors and the family.  Anyone walking through a graveyard who spots a code can scan it.  And the family can create online memorials to the dead.

"For the families, it's part of the grieving process," Nimmo said in a phone conversation from Poole, along the southern coast of England.  "But it's more for strangers.  Certainly in the U.K., people go to cemeteries and have a historical interest.  People are more interested in not only his name, but what he looked like.  For a country that doesn't talk about death, there's a morbid fascination in it."

Nimmo launched the service, which costs about $600, two weeks ago.  He said he has signed up 10 customers and hasn't encountered much resistance or anyone objecting to technology impinging on tradition.  He also offers versions that can attach to benches, trees -- anywhere a family has chosen to mark their loved ones.

"Sometimes, the British are reticent to doing anything new. God forbid we should do anything too modern," he said.  "This has so much more information than the headstone can ever offer."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Romney Advisers Tell Brits Obama's ‘Comfortable with American Decline’

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(LONDON) -- Mitt Romney would do a better job than President Obama of highlighting the Anglo-Saxon relationship between the U.S. and Britain, according to the London Telegraph’s interview with two Romney advisers who declined to give their name for the story.

“We are part of an Anglo-Saxon heritage, and he [Romney] feels that the special relationship is special,” an adviser told the British paper.  “The White House didn’t fully appreciate the shared history we have.”

One adviser also told the paper, “Obama is a left-winger.  He doesn’t value the NATO alliance as much.  He’s very comfortable with American decline and the traditional alliances don’t mean as much to him.  He wouldn’t like singing ‘Land of Hope and Glory.’”

The Telegraph reports that the advisers would not go on the record because they have been instructed to not insult the president in the foreign press.  The Romney campaign has also made it clear that it will not criticize the president during the six-day trip overseas.

Romney landed Wednesday morning in the U.K. at around 10:30 a.m. local time, arriving at his London hotel with his wife Ann shortly thereafter.  He has no public events scheduled on Wednesday.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


UK Deploys Additional 1,200 Troops to Secure Olympic Games

MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP/Getty Images(LONDON) -- With just three days to go before the summer Olympics kick off in London, the British government has decided to deploy an additional 1,200 troops who were on standby to boost security at the Games.

The move comes after private security contractor G4S failed to deliver enough guards for the event.

With the added troops, the number of British military personnel tasked with securing the Games is up to nearly 18,000 -- almost twice the amount of troops the U.K. sends to Afghanistan to fight the Taliban.

In a statement Tuesday, Olympics Secretary Jeremy Hunt said the decision to take the troops out of standby was more of a precaution.

"On the eve of the largest peacetime event ever staged in this country, Ministers are clear that we should leave nothing to chance," Hunt said.  "The Government continues to have every confidence that we will deliver a safe and secure Games.”

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Seven Men Arrested in UK on Suspicion of Terrorism

Photodisc/Digital Vision/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- Seven men with suspected ties to terrorism were arrested this week in Britain following a routine vehicle stop, police said on Friday.

The men, ranging in age from 22 to 43, were detained between Tuesday morning and Thursday evening on suspicion of the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism.  The news of their arrests comes one day after British police announced they had arrested five men and one woman as part of a months-long international terror probe.

The latest arrests, however, were not part of that ongoing investigation.

"The arrests followed a routine stop of a vehicle by police on the M1 motorway in South Yorkshire on Saturday (June 30th)," West Midlands Police said in a statement.  "The car was impounded on suspicion of having no insurance.  Firearms, offensive weapons and other material were later found hidden inside, prompting police to take action to trace and arrest the driver, passenger and others suspected of being involved."

Authorities are analyzing the materials found in the car and are carrying out searches of the suspects' homes.  All seven are being held in the West Midlands area.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Mystery Deepens Into British Spy’s Death

BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images(LONDON) -- Post mortem examinations of the British spy found dead in his bathtub two years ago have failed to determine how he died. Three pathologists have told the official inquest into his death that asphyxiation or poisoning were the most likely possible causes, but the decomposition of his body prevented them from reaching any firm conclusions.

The naked body of Gareth Williams was found curled up inside a zipped and locked duffle bag in the empty bathtub of his London apartment in 2010. Scotland Yard has been unable to solve the case after a nearly two-year investigation. At the time of his death Williams was working in London as a code breaker for Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service (SIS), also known as MI6.

Tests are still being carried out on DNA fragments found by forensic scientists in the apartment, and which are believed to be from at least two other unknown people.

Pathologist Dr. Benjamin Swift has told the court that the post mortem was hampered by decomposition of the body, made worse by heating from radiators inside the apartment, which inexplicably were switched on in the middle of summer. Although no trace of poison was found in the body of Gareth Williams, Swift said it could have disappeared from his system in the ten days it took for his corpse to be discovered and then examined.

Another pathologist who gave evidence at the inquest said he believed Williams was probably alive when he entered the sports bag, which was fastened with an outside padlock. No signs of struggle were detected on the body of the intelligence officer. The court was told by two experts last week that it was highly unlikely that the spy would have been able to lock himself into the bag.

Williams was working in London after being seconded to the British spy agency by GCHQ, Britain’s secret electronic surveillance agency, where he had previously been employed. His former boss at GCHQ has told the inquest that he was a “world class intelligence officer.” “He was considered something of a prodigy,” Stephen Gale told the court.

His manager at MI6 has called him “a fully deployable, highly talented officer” who had passed exams to do some of MI6′s toughest covert work six months before he was found dead in August 2010.

Police are still treating his death as suspicious and unexplained. The inquest has been told by police that there was no indication of a break-in at the apartment, and nothing to suggest evidence at the scene was destroyed.

Police say thousands of dollars worth of women’s designer clothes were discovered at his apartment, as well as wigs and make-up. Two friends of the dead man have testified that, to their knowledge, Williams was not gay and had no interest in cross-dressing. The inquest has heard that a police examination of the spy’s computer and phone has shown that he made occasional visits to bondage websites and websites about claustrophilia, or the love of enclosure. No classified information was found at his apartment.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Rupert Murdoch Apologizes, Claims He Was Victim to Cover Up

WILLIAM WEST/AFP/Getty Images(LONDON) -- “All I can do is apologize,” Rupert Murdoch said Thursday as he conceded he could have done more to stop the hacking scandal that has engulfed his media empire and destroyed so many careers.

During Britain’s media ethics inquiry Thursday morning, Murdoch claimed he and his son were the victims of a cover up about the extent of phone hacking at their now-shuttered London tabloid the News of the World.

But he also pleaded ignorance.

“The senior executives were all misinformed, and shielded from anything that was going on there,” Murdoch told the inquiry.  “I do blame one or two people for who perhaps I shouldn’t name, because for all I know they may be arrested yet.  But there’s no question in my mind that maybe even the editor, but certainly beyond that, someone took charge of a cover-up, which we were victim to and I regret.”

Although he wouldn’t say who the two are, he referred to a “clever lawyer” who was friends with journalists connected to the hacking.

“This person forbade them to go to (News International chief executive) Mrs. [Rebekah] Brooks or (Murdoch’s son) James,” he testified.

There was a flash of anger at the commission counsel, James Jay, when he insinuated that Murdoch was part of the cover up.  Murdoch apologized, “I take that back,” and reached out his hand to Jay.

He went on to offer contrition.

“I am guilty of not paying enough attention to what was going on at the News of the World” Murdoch said.  “All I can do is apologize to a lot of people -- including all the innocent people at the News of the World who lost their jobs.”

There was also tough questioning from inquiry chair Lord Justice Leveson, who asked Murdoch if he “really did try to understand what was going on, or you felt you didn’t really feel the need to understand what was going on, it’s over, move on?”

Murdoch answered, “I have to admit that some newspapers are closer to my heart.  I also have to say that I failed.  And I am very sorry about it.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Five Men Arrested in England on Terrorism Charges

Photodisc/Digital Vision/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- Five men were taken into custody by British police near London on Tuesday "on suspicion of the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism," according to Scotland Yard.

The suspects, ranging in age from 21 to 30, were apprehended by officers from the Counter Terrorism Command at their homes in Luton.  Scotland Yard said the arrests were "part of a pre-planned, intelligence-led operation."

Authorities have obtained search warrants for each of the men's homes and are conducting thorough searches of the properties.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


One Quarter of British Workers Say They’re 'Too Anxious' to Take Vacation

Ciaran Griffin/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Most workers look forward to time off from their job, but a new survey reveals that isn’t the case for many British employees.

Two separate online surveys involving a total of 7,187 UK adults commissioned by finds 25 percent don’t take all the vacation days they’re entitled to because they’re too anxious to take time off.  Six percent of those surveyed had seven vacation days or more left unused.

Additional findings:

  • Of those who do take their vacation time, 20 percent admit returning to work more anxious than before they left.
  • 45 percent of respondents viewed their annual vacation time as vital to their mental and physical health.
  • 80 percent of those polled said they start to relax almost immediately after arriving at their vacation destination, but seven percent said it takes them up to five days.  Six percent said they never felt fully relaxed on vacation.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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