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Entries in Britain (68)

Wednesday
Aug102011

British PM: 'We Will Take Every Action Necessary' to Quell Riots

Peter Macdiarmid/WPA Pool/Getty Images(LONDON) -- As violence persisted in Britain Tuesday, this time breaking out in Manchester, Birmingham and other cities, British Prime Minister David Cameron vowed on Wednesday to "take every action necessary to bring order back to our streets."

"We will do whatever is necessary to restore law and order unto our streets.  Every contingency is being looked at it.  Nothing is off the table," Cameron said.

The prime minister announced that police have been authorized to use rubber bullets to quell the rioters that have been looting and setting fires across London and neighboring cities since the weekend.  The violence began after Mark Duggan, a 29-year-old father of four with reported links to London gangs, was shot and killed by officers in London's Scotland Yard last Thursday.

Discussing the so-called Cobra emergency planning group, Cameron said water cannons will also be utilized to break up the rioting, if necessary.

"We agreed at Cobra that while they're not currently needed, we now have in place contingency plans for water cannons to be available at 24 hours notice," he said.

These latest measures in security come a day after Scotland Yard deployed an additional 10,000 officers on the streets of London Tuesday night.

So far, 770 people have been arrested in London -- including one 11-year-old boy.  Between Saturday night and Tuesday morning, 525 arrests were made -- 310 of which were overnight on Monday.  Across the country, a total of 1,100 arrests have been made.

"We will not put up with this in our country.  We will not allow a culture of fear to exist on our streets," Cameron said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Aug092011

British PM Condemns London Riots; Security Stepping Up

Peter Macdiarmid/WPA Pool/Getty Images(LONDON) -- In response to the growing violence that has spurred across Britain following the shooting death of 29-year-old Mark Duggan last week, British Prime Minister David Cameron announced on Tuesday that security measures will be increased to help scale back the rioting and looting.

Cutting his summer vacation in Italy short to chair an emergency meeting with police and security officials, Cameron condemned the violence and arson attacks that have rattled London and neighboring cities since the weekend.

"These are sickening scenes.  Scenes of people looting, vandalizing, thieving, robbing.  Scenes of people attacking police officers," Cameron said.

He added, "This is criminality pure and simple.  And it has to be confronted and defeated."

To that end, Cameron said more police officers will be deployed Tuesday night to try to stop the violence.

"The Metropolitan Police Commissioner has said that compared with the 6,000 police on the streets last night in London, there will be some 16,000 officers tonight," the prime minister said.

He reassured people that "we will do everything necessary to restore order to Britain's streets and make them safe for the law abiding."

So far, 450 people have been arrested, according to Cameron, but "people should expect to see more, many more arrests in the days to come."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Aug082011

London Riots Spread as Violence Intensifies

Dan Kitwood/Getty Images(LONDON) -- British authorities say violence has spread to Liverpool as police deal with "a number of isolated outbreaks of disorder" following the destructive rioting and looting that erupted over the weekend after the police shooting of 29-year-old Mark Duggan in the Tottenham section of North London Thursday.  

Witnesses in north Liverpool have described scenes of mass violence, including looting and arson, with riot police working to contain a crowd of about 300 people, many of whom are youths with their heads and faces covered.

Meanwhile, police in Birmingham have made close to 100 arrests after rioters rampaged across the center of the city Monday and into surrounding areas.

Scotland Yard says it deployed an extra 1,700 extra officers Monday night to help counter the increasingly dangerous situation. Riot police from neighboring forces have also been drafted in to help the situation.

So far, 225 people have been arrested and 36 people have been charged as police say the rioting continues to spread throughout neighboring cities. According to the Scotland Yard, violence and looting have flared up in several locations, including Clapham, Ealing, Camden, Portobello, East Ham, and Woolwich.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jul282011

Investigation of Britain's Phone Hacking Scandal Begins

Warren Little/Getty Images(LONDON) -- The inquiry into Britain's phone hacking scandal, which will determine whether the country needs to ramp up its media regulation, officially kicked off on Thursday.

British Prime Minister David Cameron called for the investigation earlier this month in response to allegations that the country's highest circulated newspaper, News of the World, hacked into the cellphones of a missing schoolgirl and grieving families of terror victims, among others, in an effort to produce and break stories.

The panel, led by senior judge Brian Leveson, will start by examining whether the current self-regulation in the British press industry needs any modifications.

"My goal must be to consider what lessons if any may be learned from past events, and what recommendations if any should be made for the future," Leveson said.

Later on, the panel will also look at relations among the press, police, and politicians. Scotland Yard suffered a black eye in the scandal as well, as police officers have been accused of taking bribes in exchange for leaking details to former News of the World reporters. 

It will have the power to compel witnesses to appear.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jul222011

Two Britons Detained in Afghanistan for Alleged Terrorist Efforts

ABC News(LONDON) -- British authorities say two individuals claiming to be British nationals have been detained in Afghanistan for reportedly being involved in plotting a terrorist attack back home in the U.K.

AFP reports the pair, a man and a woman, were picked up by British and Afghan forces last week and are currently being held at a secure location in Kandahar.  The Times of London reports the pair were arrested at the International Trade Center Hotel in the city of Herat in what the newspaper called an unprecedented counter-terrorism raid on Afghan soil.

According to the BBC, the two suspects are believed to have traveled from the U.K. to Afghanistan to possibly make terrorist contacts in an effort to develop some kind of attack back home.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jul192011

Rupert Murdoch, Rebekah Brooks to Testify Before British Parliament

Indigo/Getty Images(LONDON) -- Rupert Murdoch and his son James will appear before British Parliament on Tuesday to be grilled by a special committee over evidence of phone hacking at the defunct tabloid News of the World.

Rebekah Brooks, the former chief executive of News International -- the company that owns the tabloid -- is also scheduled to testify.  Brooks resigned from her position on Friday and was arrested by London police on Sunday for her alleged involvement in the scandal.

The widening controversy has rocked the media, police and the public in Britain, where Murdoch owns many of the country's largest newspapers.  It is alleged that his now defunct News of the World hacked the phones of 4,000 people, from stars to crime victims, to get juicy stories -- all with the encouragement of top editors at the paper and aided by some in the police force.

Rupert Murdoch made a rare apology over the weekend, publishing a full-page ad in British newspapers.

"We are sorry.  The News of the World was in the business of holding others to account.  It failed when it came to itself," Murdoch wrote in the ad.

The elder Murdoch is a man "who meets power with power" and is not going to leave News Corp. willingly, biographer Michael Wolff told Bloomberg News.  Wolff's book, The Man Who Owns the News: Inside the Secret World of Rupert Murdoch, was published in 2008.

The Murdoch name has been synonymous with News Corp. even before it was incorporated in 1979.  Rupert Murdoch, the only son of Sir Keith Murdoch, took over his father's newspaper publishing business, News Limited, after Murdoch Sr. passed away in 1952.

After decades of cutthroat competition and shifting technology, the Murdoch family and embattled News Corp., which owns FOX News Channel, The Wall Street Journal and publisher Harper Collins, among other assets, now face the tough challenge of surviving a scandal that has even rocked Scotland Yard.

On Sunday, Sir Paul Stephenson, the Metropolitan Police commissioner and head of Scotland Yard, resigned.  A day later, John Yates, who led the police counter-terrorism department, also stepped down.

After the dust clears, Rupert Murdoch reportedly hopes one of his children will eventually take the reigns of what has been called the second-largest media congolmerate in the world in terms of 2010 revenue, second only to Disney, which owns ABC News.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jul152011

News Int'l CEO Rebekah Brooks Resigns Amid Hacking Scandal

MAX NASH/AFP/Getty Images(LONDON) -- In the midst of the hacking scandal surrounding Britain's famed tabloid News of the World, the chief executive of News International -- the company that owns the paper -- has resigned.

In a letter sent to her staff on Friday, Rebekah Brooks announced, "I have given Rupert and James Murdoch my resignation.  While it has been a subject of discussion, this time my resignation has been accepted."

Despite growing calls for Brooks' dismissal, the executive remained at her position because she "believed that the right and responsible action has been to lead us through the heat of the crisis."  But, she admitted in the letter, that her "desire to remain on the bridge has made me a focal point of the debate," and has detracted "attention from all our honest endeavours to fix the problems of the past."

"I now need to concentrate on correcting the distortions and rebutting the allegations about my record as a journalist, an editor and executive," Brooks said, adding that the "resignation makes it possible for me to have the freedom and the time to give my full cooperation to all the current and future inquiries."

The executive also apologized to the victims of the scandal, saying, "I feel a deep sense of responsibility for the people we have hurt and I want to reiterate how sorry I am for what we now know to have taken place."

News of the World is accused of hacking into the cellphones of murder victims, terrorism victims and their families, and celebrities -- among others -- in an effort to produce and break stories.  The tabloid has since been shut down.  Its final issue hit newsstands on July 10.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jul122011

Murdoch Hack Attack: More Papers Caught in Scandal

Warren Little/Getty Images(LONDON) -- Fresh allegations that not one but three of Rupert Murdoch's newspapers had been involved in illegal activities have marred the media mogul's multi-billion dollar deal to buy full control of British Sky Broadcasting.

Monday's allegations that the Sunday Times and Sun newspapers allegedly used deception to try to obtain former Prime Minister Gordon Brown's private financial records was the latest in an unfolding scandal that saw Murdoch's News of the World fold last Sunday.

News International's Sunday Times allegedly had details that Brown obtained an apartment from controversial publishing magnate and former member of parliament Robert Maxwell for a "knock-down price," according to the BBC.

Brown told the BBC that he believes that the paper was "trying to prove a point," that it was "completely wrong" and wanted to bring him down in his then role as Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer.

The Sun went much further when it allegedly stole Brown's family's medical records.  Though no one but his family knew in 2006 that Brown's newborn baby son, Fraser, had cystic fibrosis, the Sun splashed the exclusive across its front page in November 2006.

"Sarah and I were incredibly upset about it," said Brown.  "We were thinking about his long-term future, we were thinking about our family," Brown told BBC News, adding that he was in tears when he was told by News International journalists that the Sun had the information about his son's condition.

The Sun claimed that "the story was used to increase national understanding of the condition, in partnership with the Cystic Fibrosis Trust."

News International allegedly was aware as far back as 2007 about questionable practices used by the News of the World to obtain the confidential information about the royals. Such a breach, if true, represents a huge lapse in security and a threat to Queen Elizabeth.

If News Corp. did in fact know of the News of the World's practices, it did nothing.

In emails received by police last month, Clive Goodman -- the paper's recently arrested royals reporter -- requested cash from the now-disgraced editor Andy Coulson to buy a top secret directory called the "Green Book," according to the BBC.  The directory contained all the confidential phone numbers of the royal family and their staff.

In the email, Goodman allegedly said that a royal protection officer had stolen a copy and wanted £1000 for it.

The unfolding scandal couldn't come at a worst time for Murdoch, who days ago believed he would be closing one of the biggest deals of his life.  The worldwide media mogul was on the verge of buying full control of British Sky Broadcasting, Britain's biggest commercial network.

The British government signaled Monday that it would delay -- and possibly halt altogether -- Murdoch's $19 billion deal to purchase BSkyB as a result of the public outrage surrounding the growing scandal.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jul082011

British PM Calls for Investigation, Reform after Press Hacking Scandal

Peter Macdiarmid/WPA Pool/Getty Images(LONDON) -- British Prime Minister David Cameron is calling for a full investigation into the phone hacking scandal revolving around Britain's highest circulated newspaper, News of the World.  

The tabloid has come under fire recently for allegedly hacking into the cellphones of a missing schoolgirl and grieving families of terror victims, among others, in an effort to produce and break stories.  James Murdoch, the owner of the paper, announced Thursday that the final issue of News of the World would be published on Sunday.

"That these people could have had their phones hacked into in order to generate stories for a newspaper is simply disgusting," Cameron said, speaking before the press on Friday.

Vowing change, the prime minister said, "I want a police that's proved itself beyond reproach.  A political system that people think is on their side and a press that is -- yes -- free and vigorous, that investigates and entertains, that holds those in power to account and occasionally, maybe even regularly, drives them completely mad.  But in the end we need a free press that is also clean and trustworthy."

Meanwhile, Cameron's former Chief of Communications, Andy Coulson, was arrested in the U.K. on Friday for corruption allegations and conspiring to intercept communications.  Coulson was appointed to the position after working for several years as an editor for News of the World.  He stepped down as the prime minister's spokesman in January of 2011.

Labour Party leader Ed Miliband had asked Cameron to apologize for the "appalling error of judgement" he committed in hiring Coulson, but the prime minister defended his decision at Friday's news conference.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jul052011

British Prime Minister Highlights Drawdown from Aghanistan

number10.gov.uk(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- On yet another surprise visit to Afghanistan, British Prime Minister David Cameron underlined again his intention to pull all U.K. combat forces out of the country by the end of 2014.

Britain has a large debt problem to deal with and as polls have shown, most people don't know why British forces are still in Afghanistan.

It's that stark reality that seems to have spurred Cameron to action.

"As we build up the Afghan national security forces, as we see a stronger and more confident Afghan national army, stronger Afghan police -- many of whom we have trained ourselves -- and also the Afghan local police, I do believe it's right to start planning the withdrawal of some of our troops. As I say, we start with 9,500, there are around 426 that are coming home this year -- that's over and above the 9,500 -- and I'll be making an announcement in the House of Commons tomorrow about a modest reduction which will take place next year," Cameron said.

Cameron was speaking in Kabul at a joint news conference with Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

Many in debt-affected Britain now say enough money has been thrown at Afghanistan; the time has come to focus on the domestic front and get Britiain's own financial house in order.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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