Entries in Britain (68)


UK Public Workers Stage Massive Strike over Pension Changes

Christopher Furlong/Getty Images(LONDON) -- The U.K. is facing a massive strike by public sector workers on Wednesday who are angry with the government over changes to their pensions.

The walkout has been deemed one of the biggest industrial actions taken in the U.K. in a generation.  Some two million workers have walked off the job, closing thousands of schools and forcing the cancellation of non-emergency surgeries and treatments at hospitals.

However, the large disruption that was predicted to occur at local airports has failed to materialize so far, since contingency plans were put in place.

Unions are protesting plans that would make workers have to work longer and pay more in order to receive their pensions.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


US Slaps Iran with More Sanctions over Nuclear Weapon Fears

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The White House slapped Iran with yet another round of sanctions on Monday for failing to shut down its illicit nuclear program and an alleged plot to kill the Saudi ambassador on U.S. soil.

In a statement, President Obama said, "As long as Iran continues down this dangerous path, the United States will continue to find ways, both in concert with our partners and through our own actions to isolate and increase the pressure upon the Iranian regime."

The new penalties are intended to hurt Iran's oil producing industry as well as labeling Iran as a "primary money-laundering concern."

It was expected that the administration would take action after a recent study by the International Atomic Energy Agency found that Iran has exceeded fears on just how far its come along with its nuclear ambitions.

Britain also announced its own sanctions against Iran, cutting off all financial ties with Tehran, while Canada said that it would suspend nearly all financial dealings with the Iranian government.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Prince William Was Spied on by Murdoch’s 'News of the World'

Ben Stansall - WPA Pool/Getty Images(LONDON) -- Prince William was tailed and spied on by British tabloid News of the World, according to the surveillance expert hired by the shuttered newspaper.

Derek Webb, the retired cop and surveillance expert hired by the Rupert Murdoch-run paper, said that he was hired to follow a number of celebrities and soccer stars as well as the Duke of Cambridge -- who he says had no idea he was being tailed.

A spokesman for Prince William had no comment.

Webb says that he worked for the paper for years, and apparently tailed 90 targets including Hollywood stars like Angelina Jolie, TV personalities like Simon Cowell, rock legend Paul McCartney, and Harry Potter actor Daniel Radcliffe’s parents.  Webb said that he often took orders from the paper’s former royal editor Clive Goodman.

“[Goodman] would ask me to go to Heathrow airport and follow Chelsey Davey, which was Prince Harry’s girlfriend, and follow her to where she was going,” Webb said.

Goodman has already served time for hacking into the voice mails of royal staff.  Last summer, News of the World was shut down in the wake of the phone hacking scandal.  Former editor Rebekah Brooks resigned as CEO of News International after she was linked to the paper’s phone hacking during her tenure as editor.

The newspaper had hacked the voice mails of politicians, movie stars, murder victims and, allegedly, Kate Middleton and her family.

Over a dozen News of the World journalists have been arrested since news of the phone hacking scandal broke in July.  Rupert and James Murdoch, his son and chairman and chief executive of News Corporation, Europe, and Asia, deny knowing anything about the hacking going on at the newspaper.

James Murdoch has been recalled to give evidence to British lawmakers on Thursday.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Six Men Arrested in British Counterterrorism Operation to Appear in Court

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- Six men who were arrested as part of an extensive counterterrorism operation by British police last week will appear before a court in London on Monday.

The men, aged between 25 and 32, were all detained near or at their homes in Birmingham between Sept. 18 and 19 for allegedly preparing to carry out a terrorist attack in the U.K. or failing to disclose pertinent information.

According to West Midlands police, three have been charged with "planning a suicide bombing campaign/event."  Out of those three, two have also been charged with "travelling to Pakistan for training in terrorism including bomb making, weapons and poison making."

The six men will make their appearance at West London Magistrates Court Monday afternoon.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Child Cage Fighting Sparks Outrage in Britain

Hemera Technologies/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- The tiny frame of an 8-year-old boy, young but ready to fight, enters from one side of the room. From the other, his 9-year-old opponent gets a last-minute fighting tactics talk. Both walk past the jeering crowd, a 250-strong throng of spectators, shouting taunts, encouraging them to fight in what has been described as a popular and an up-and-coming sport -- cagefighting for children.

The two boys have been filmed attacking one another in the confines of a cage in front of spectators who have paid almost $40 to watch. One of the boys breaks down and cries. Ever since that video went viral, so too did the widespread shock and outrage.

British Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt has described it as "barbaric," saying "we have to recognize that sport has a very, very important role but I think with this particular sport, I think some people will ask some questions."

It's a brutal and macabre site and has caused a huge uproar in Britain country, but because the club where the fighting takes place has a license to stage such events, it's perfectly legal. But police say they will look into issues surrounding the safety of the children.

Steve Nightingale who trains the young boys at the Reps Gym in Preston, Lancashire, 190 miles north of London, told ABC News that ''there is no striking … it is a mixture of martial arts and wrestling known as mixed martial arts, MMA."

Nightingale said that he was ''shocked'' by the criticism and said that it all comes from people who were not there and are ignorant of the sport.

Marcus Holt, the event promoter, defended the matches, telling the BBC, ''It's a discipline, it's a mixed martial arts, it's what they want to do. They are not being forced to do it. It's better being up here training week in week, out than running the streets and causing trouble on the streets.''

Nick Hartley, the father of one of the boys who took part in the controversial caged bout, insisted it had been safe. "He loves the sport. It's not one bit dangerous, it's a controlled sport … until he gets a bit older and he starts doing physical contact, kicking and punching, then maybe, but at his age it's wrestling, like grappling."

The British Medical Association has condemned the event, saying it is "particularly disturbing." The BMA made the point that the children were not wearing protective head gear or other protective padding.

"Boxing and cage fighting are sometimes defended on the grounds that children learn to work through their aggression with discipline and control. The BMA believes there are many other sports, such as athletics, swimming, judo and football, which require discipline but do not pose the same threat of brain injury," the BMA said in a statement.

The organization which ensures child protection awareness, the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) has joined the chorus of condemnation of the fights.

"We would strongly discourage parents from letting their children take part in this kind of fighting. It's quite disturbing that some of those involved in the bouts were as young as 8, an age when they are still developing, physically and mentally,"said Chris Cloke, head of the NSPCC.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


British Police Arrest Seven in Counterterrorism Operation

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- A large counterterrorism operation by British police has led to the arrest of seven people in Birmingham, according to authorities.

In a statement, West Midlands police said six men aged between 25 and 32 were detained near or at their homes between Sunday night and early Monday morning "on suspicion of the commission, preparation or instigation of an act of terrorism in the U.K."  Another suspect, a 22-year-old woman, was arrested at 6:30 a.m. Monday for allegedly failing to disclose information that could be pertinent to a terrorist attack.

All seven are being held for questioning as police conduct searches on their homes and seven other properties in Birmingham.

Marcus Beale, the West Midlands assistant chief constable, said he couldn't go into detail about the nature of the suspected offenses because the operation was still in its early stages.

"However, I believe it was necessary to take action at this time in order to ensure public safety," he said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


British Council Building Comes under Attack in Afghanistan

MASSOUD HOSSAINI/AFP/Getty Images(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- At least three people are dead and two others wounded after suicide bombers attacked a British compound in Kabul, Afghanistan Friday.

The attack began with a suicide car bombing and continued for more than five hours as at least four suicide bombers fought with Afghan police and U.S. and British forces from inside the heavily fortified British Council building.  The siege came in three waves, and workers reportedly hid inside a safe room during the attack.  At one point, British troops brought in a helicopter to evacuate their wounded.

According to officials, two Afghan policemen and a civilian worker were killed.

The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack, which took place on the day that Afghans were celebrating their 92-year independence from Britain.

Friday's bombing follows Taliban attacks earlier this week that left more then two dozen people dead in western and eastern Afghanistan.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Former 'News of the World' Reporter's Letter: Hacking 'Widely Discussed'

Warren Little/Getty Images(LONDON) -- Adding onto the phone hacking scandal surrounding Britain's now defunct News of the World, a letter from a former journalist of the tabloid released by the British Parliament on Tuesday claims that his fellow employees were aware of the illegal practices the paper is charged with committing.

Clive Goodman, who was imprisoned after pleading guilty to intercepting voicemail messages and subsequently fired from the paper for "alleged gross misconduct," wrote the letter to News International four years ago appealing against his dismissal.

In a letter addressed to Daniel Cloke on March 2, 2007, Goodman wrote, "The decision is inconsistent because [redacted] and other members of staff were carrying out the same illegal procedures."

Click here to see the documents uploaded by the British Parliament.  (To read Goodman's letter, jump ahead to page 39)

He went on to say, ""This practice was widely discussed in the daily editorial conference, until explicit reference to it was banned by the Editor.  As far as I am aware, no other member of staff has faced disciplinary action, much less dismissal."

News International had previously said that Goodman was the only reporter involved in phone hacking.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Prime Minister Cameron Seeking Outside Help in British Policing

Dan Kitwood/Getty Images(LONDON) -- In Thursday's address to Parliament, British Prime Minister David Cameron signaled his continued determination to search globally for the expertise needed to solve the crisis in British policing, notably looking toward North America where sources say there are possible candidates in both the U.S. and Canada who could assist.

ABC News has learned that Cameron's public suggestion that the government seek outside advisers -- he notably mentioned former New York City Police Commissioner Bill Bratton by name -- is an attempt to circumvent Home Secretary Theresa May's determination not to change the requirement calling for a British citizen to be the next head of the Metropolitan Police.

May has very publicly countered the prime minister who had suggested an outsider be brought in to run the troubled department when her office posted ads seeking candidates for the post of Met boss, noting that only British citizens need apply.

While May is under fire as a result of her perceived poor oversight of the Met, it currently appears there will be no move to push her out of government.  May has no background in policing or police oversight, which is a significant part of her portfolio.

Cameron cited gang culture in his speech and noted the American experience in Boston with curbing that culture.

There, Harvard professor David Kennedy mapped gang violence and then used innovative programs in his efforts to curb it.

Bratton and Kennedy have ongoing professional ties dating back to at least when Bratton, a Boston native, served as commissioner there in the 1990s.

It was not immediately clear whether London Mayor Boris Johnson -- who has a say in who might lead the 31,000-officer department -- is aligned with Cameron's thinking.  Johnson is up for re-election in 2012.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


U.K. Riots: Three Dead as London Police Go on Offensive

LEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images(LONDON) -- The rioting and looting gripping England has turned deadly as it enters a fifth day Wednesday, with three men killed by a hit-and-run driver in Birmingham.

Reports from neighbors indicate that the men were attempting to protect their area from rioters when they were struck by the car.

"Three men -- aged 31, 30, and 20 -- were on foot in Dudley Road in the Winson Green area of the city when they were in collision with a car.  All later died from their injuries in hospital," read a statement on the West Midlands Police's website.  "Detectives...will today question a 32-year-old man on suspicion of murder."

In London, Scotland Yard has gone on the offensive in the streets, adding on Tuesday an additional 10,000 officers who have created an eerie calm as night fell on the capital; the show of force apparently stifled the rioting.

Officers continued to arrest those involved in disorder both on the street and as a result of detective work, according to a statement from Scotland Yard, which rejected claims that officers were initially instructed not to make arrests.

"It is simply wrong to suggest officers were initially told not to actively arrest those involved in disorder," the statement read.  "As always the decision to make an arrest is down to the individual officer on the ground who must weigh up whether it is appropriate bearing in mind risks of further inflaming the crowd, wider operational requirements and our ability to gather evidence to arrest later."

In a city bristling with security cameras, pictures of looters began appearing in the newspapers and on TV in an attempt to identify more suspects.

Police had vowed to hit the streets in greater numbers as night fell and there were no new reported hotspots in the city as of late Tuesday evening.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Embassy has issued a statement warning Americans about London violence and has reminded them of common sense practices including avoiding civil unrest and not engaging with those causing disturbance.

The violence that began in London on Saturday has spread across England, with Manchester and Nottingham reportedly being hit hard by rioters, with roving gangs of young people setting buildings and cars on fire, looting stores, and terrorizing the public.  A gang of rioters also firebombed a police station in Nottingham on Tuesday.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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