Archive for October 28th, 2009

MoD probes soldier’s Facebook ‘Nazi salute’

Independent: The Ministry of Defence was investigating today after a picture posted on Facebook appeared to show a soldier performing a Nazi-style salute.

A picture of Private Craig Orwin, 19, was posted on the social networking site showing a defiant Hitler-style Nazi salute, the Sun reported.

Pte Orwin serves with the Light Dragoons.

A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Defence said: “We are investigating an incident and if rules have been broken, appropriate disciplinary action will be taken.

“Members of the Armed Forces are free to join any political party but any racist behaviour or breach of the Army’s values and standards will be dealt with robustly.”

His unit is based in Swanton Morley, Norfolk. It has twice served in Iraq and also completed a six-month tour of Afghanistan.

Pte Orwin was unavailable for comment today.


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One million workers to lose final salary pension schemes

Telegraph: Figures published by the Office for National Statistics show 100,000 private sector final salary schemes closed last year, leaving numbers at a record low of 2.6 million.

The rate at which workers are losing their entitlements is likely to be double that over the next five years, according towealth managers Hargreaves Lansdown.

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Brussels to split up Britain’s high street banks

Times: The European Commission will today approve the Government’s plan to split off the viable part of Northern Rock and sell it. Neelie Kroes, the Competition Commissioner, will allow the injection of £3 billion of taxpayers’ money into the part of the bank that contains depositors, branches and some “good” loans.

Some higher-quality home loans will be retained in the rump “bad bank” and remain in state hands. The “good” part of Rock will be handed to UK Financial Investments, the Treasury-controlled unit that owns bank stakes, by the turn of the year with instructions to sell it as soon as possible with the proviso that taxpayers get value for money. That raises the possibility that a deal could go through before the election.

The Government has not ruled out turning Northern Rock into a building society owned by its customers, although the overwhelming preference, according to people within the Treasury, is for a sale. Alistair Darling, the Chancellor, wants a new entrant into the market rather than the remutualisation of Northern Rock, which will report third-quarter results next week.

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Security services ask for secret evidence

Times: British intelligence services made an unprecedented request to a High Court judge yesterday to use secret evidence in defending a civil claim alleging they were complicit in the ill-treatment of former Guantanamo Bay detainees.

In a move that breaks legal ground, MI5, MI6 and their Government departments asked Mr Justice Silber to rule that although this “closed” procedure had never been used before in a civil damages claim, there was no reason in principle why it should not be used if necessary for “the just disposal of the case”.

The alternative would be to “strike out” the claim launched by seven former detainees, lawyers for the intelligence services argued.

The claimaints – Binyam Mohamed, Bisher Al Rawi, Jamil El Banna, Richard Belmar, Omar Deghayes, Moazzam Begg and Martin Mubanga – allege that MI5 and MI6 were guilty of aiding and abetting their unlawful imprisonment and extraordinary rendition to various locations around the world, including Guantanamo.

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MPs’ expenses: demand for inquiry into how report was leaked

Telegraph: Roger Gale, the MP for Thanet North in Kent, has demanded an inquiry into how the details of Sir Christopher Kelly’s report into MPs’ expenses was leaked.

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Mandelson to press on with cutting internet links for download pirates

Times: Lord Mandelson will say today that he intends to press ahead with controversial measures to cut off the internet connections of people caught downloading pirated music, films or television programmes.

The Business Secretary plans to introduce legislation to ensure that serial pirates will have their home internet services “suspended” for short periods as the flagship measure of next month’s Digital Economy Bill.

It is understood that a service would be disconnected only after a series of offences, with initial breaches incurring warning letters and subsequent contraventions penalised by “throttling” internet connections to reduce download speeds.

Lord Mandelson’s intervention — to be made in a speech this morning to creative industries executives — comes after months of pressure from the music industry, led by Lucian Grainge, chief executive of Universal Music.

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Councils get ‘Al Capone’ power to seize assets over minor offences

Times: Draconian police powers designed to deprive crime barons of luxury lifestyles are being extended to councils, quangos and agencies to use against the public, The Times has learnt.

The right to search homes, seize cash, freeze bank accounts and confiscate property will be given to town hall officials and civilian investigators employed by organisations as diverse as Royal Mail, the Rural Payments Agency and Transport for London.

The measure, being pushed through by Alan Johnson, the Home Secretary, comes into force next week and will deploy some of the most powerful tools available to detectives against fare dodgers, families in arrears with council tax and other minor offenders.

The radical extension of the Proceeds of Crime Act, through a Statutory Instrument which is not debated by parliament, has been condemned by the chairman of the Police Federation. Paul McKeever said that he was shocked to learn that the decision to hand over “intrusive powers” to people who were not police was made without consultation or debate.

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