Archive for October 20th, 2009

Public borrowing soars to new record

Independent: Public borrowing ballooned by a further £14.8 billion in September, official figures showed today.

The latest surge takes net borrowing to £77.3 billion for the six months of the financial year so far – the highest half-yearly figure since Office for National Statistics (ONS) records began in 1946.

The Treasury expects borrowing to reach a record £175 billion for the year as a whole as the public finances buckle under the impact of recession.

While September’s borrowing is slightly lower than the £15.3 billion expected by the City, it is almost double the £8.7 billion seen a year earlier.


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Man hacked to death in front of pregnant wife, court is told

Independent: A father was hacked and beaten to death in front of his heavily pregnant wife — who gave birth the next day — and seven-year-old daughter, a jury has heard.

Belfast Crown Court also heard allegations that Julia Mongan pleaded with masked men to stop attacking her husband John Mongan “but they ignored her and continued with the beating”.

Denying the murder are Londonderry men 34-year-old Christopher Stokes, Edward Gabriel Stokes, 38, and a 16-year-old boy who cannot be identified because of his age.

The three also deny causing criminal damage to a Mitsubishi Shogun jeep owned by Mr Mongan and Edward Stokes denies a further charge of wounding Mrs Mongan with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, with all the offences dated on February 7 last year.

Opening the case, prosecuting QC Gordon Kerr said Mr Mongan was beaten to death in his Fallswater Street home in west Belfast after a gang of four men burst into the bedroom.

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Far right ‘hijacking military imagery’

Independent: Former military heavyweights today joined forces to warn that the Armed Forces were in danger of being hijacked by far right groups.

The Times newspaper reported that former Army generals had written a letter warning that political extremists had no right to share the Armed Forces’ proud reputation.

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Paedophile faces court after extradition

Independent: One of Britain’s most wanted criminals who was arrested overseas is due to appear in court today, police said.

Paedophile Stephen Burnell, 56, was tracked down in Crete earlier this month and was last night returned to the UK by North Yorkshire Police’s Protecting Vulnerable Persons Unit.

In March 2007 Burnell, from Scunthorpe, was found guilty at York Crown Court of attempted rape, indecent assault on a female, indecency with a child and taking indecent photographs of a child.

He fled to Crete and was sentenced to six years in prison in his absence.

Burnell is due to appear at York Crown Court.

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Prison governors face sack over scandal of swapped inmates

Guardian: Two of Britain’s most senior prison governors have been charged with gross misconduct and face possible dismissal for their role in a prisoner swap scandal designed to subvert official inspections.

Ian Mulholland, who ran Wandsworth, and Nick Leader at Pentonville were found to have been temporarily transferring difficult and vulnerable prisoners between the two jails just before inspection visits. Three other senior managers at the prisons, two of London’s biggest, have also been charged with disciplinary offences.

An official investigation into a similar attempt to subvert an inspection at Brixton prison is due to conclude later this week.

The chief inspector of prisons, Dame Anne Owers, says in her reports published tomorrow into the inspections that the transfers were “completely pointless, irresponsible and potentially dangerous”. She reveals two prisoners from Wandsworth who had been moved out the weekend before an inspection had tried to kill themselves. One made four attempts immediately after his move to Pentonville.

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Hey, UK plc, it’s time to clean up your act!

Times: Take it from a man who knows, who has taken on everybody from the Mafia to Wall Street’s biggest hitters. Carol Lewis reports

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Prosecutors to be given more discretion over sending cases to trial

Times: More offenders could escape going to court even when there is enough evidence to charge them under guidelines published by the Director of Public Prosecutions yesterday.

Prosecutors are to be given wider discretion over sending people to trial even if a hearing would be in the public interest. Instead, they must ask whether putting someone in the dock is a “disproportionate” response.

At present, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) can only consider whether enough evidence has been gathered against the accused and whether court action is in the public interest.

The proposals are intended to encourage “common sense” in the justice system and are aimed at balancing the cost and time involved in bringing a prosecution with the seriousness of a crime. They could apply to crimes such as theft, shoplifting, minor assault and criminal damage.

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