By Michael Holden and Sam Tobin
LONDON - The first hearing in a lawsuit brought by Prince Harry, singer Elton John and other high profile figures against the publisher of the Daily Mail newspaper over alleged phone-tapping and other breaches of privacy, is due to begin on Monday.
The seven claimants, which include actresses Elizabeth Hurley and Sadie Frost, and Elton John's husband and filmmaker David Furnish, launched the action last year, but legal restrictions requested by the newspaper group mean specific details of their allegations have not so far been made public.
According to a statement released in October by lawyers for Frost and Harry, the younger son of King Charles, the case against Associated Newspapers includes bugging people's calls, cars and homes, and paying police for sensitive information.
Associated Newspapers, publisher of the Daily Mail, The Mail on Sunday and the Mail Online, has said it "utterly and...
By Andrew MacAskill
LONDON - The next leader of Scotland will be announced on Monday with the victor facing the challenge of uniting a country divided over its future and revitalising an independence movement that dreams of ending its three-centuries-long union with England.
The Scottish National Party (SNP), which runs Scotland's semi-autonomous government, has been plunged into crisis since Nicola Sturgeon, the country's longest-serving leader, announced last month she was standing down after eight years, saying she had become too divisive to lead the nation to independence.
The two main candidates to replace her have traded personal attacks while Sturgeon's husband, the chair of the party, was forced to resign after accepting the blame for misleading the public over a fall in party membership.
The SNP's unity, which had been one of its strengths, has broken down because of arguments over how to achieve a second inde...
LONDON - British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will unveil new measures on Monday to crack down on antisocial behaviour by focusing on policing in several areas of England and Wales, as he works to win over voters in the run-up to an election expected next year.
Sunak, who has seen a small tick up in his approval ratings since last month and received a boost when he curtailed a rebellion in his party over Brexit, is increasingly setting out his policy agenda to try to close a double-digit lead in the opinion polls for the opposition Labour Party.
He will say the new measures, including "hotspot" policing and a ban on nitrous oxide or laughing gas, underscores his zero-tolerance approach to anti-social behaviour which will see offenders receiving swift and visible punishments.
"Anti-social behaviour undermines the basic right of people to feel safe in the place they call home," Sunak said in a statement.
"The public have rig...
- A major incident has been declared after about 200 barrels of reservoir fluid leaked into the water at Poole Harbour in Dorset, southern England, on Sunday, the BBC reported.
The leak occurred at a pipeline operated by Perenco, under Owers Bay on Sunday, according to the report, citing Poole Harbour Commissioners (PHC).
PHC did not immediately respond to a request for a comment.
(Reporting by Maria Ponnezhath in Bengaluru; Editing by Andrew Heavens)...
LONDON - England captain Harry Kane has told British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak he hopes to take the mantle as the Premier League's all-time top scorer after becoming his country's record marksman.
Kane on Thursday netted his 54th England goal in 81 games in a 2-1 Euro 2024 qualifying win away to Italy to surpass Wayne Rooney in the record books.
In a Face Time conversation with Sunak, the striker said his ambition was to beat Alan Shearer's 260 Premier League goals, with the Tottenham Hotspur player currently on 204.
Only Shearer and Rooney (208) have scored more goals in the competition's history.
"Yeah it's definitely there. I'm getting closer, so it's for sure something I want to achieve," Kane told Sunak, who congratulated the 29-year-old striker on achieving his England record in a call released on Twitter on Saturday.
(Reporting by Tommy Lund in Gdansk; Editing by Ken Ferris)...
LONDON - Post Office workers are being asked to vote on a 9% pay offer following "an extremely lengthy dispute" with employers, Britain's Communication Workers Union (CWU) said on Saturday.
"It's our view that the money now on offer marks a considerable step forward – several steps forward – from what was initially an unacceptable position on the part of the employer," said CWU acting deputy general secretary Andy Furey.
Thousands of Post Office workers have been in dispute over pay since early last year, holding eight strikes and other forms of industrial action.
The CWU said the deal, which has been endorsed by its postal executive, would provide lump sum payments for all workers ranging between 1,925 pounds ($2,354.28) and 3,000 pounds, as well as a wide array of additional benefits.
It will now be put to a ballot of members, with voting beginning early next week and closing on April 11.
"We are pleased that...
LONDON - Plans by the British government to move migrants out of hotels and into military bases or even disused ferries are expected to be announced within weeks, Sky News reported on Saturday.
Previous suggestions involving the use of holiday camps and student halls were less likely to be brought into action, the report said.
The government has signalled it wants to end the use of hotels as asylum seeker accommodation.
“We have always been upfront about the unprecedented pressure being placed on our asylum system, brought about by a significant increase in dangerous and illegal journeys into the country," a Home Office (interior ministry) spokesperson said.
“We continue to work across government and with local authorities to identify a range of accommodation options."
Earlier this month, the government set out details of a new law barring the entry of asylum seekers arriving in small boats across the Channel,...
LONDON - British retail consultant and television personality Mary Portas has written an open letter to the John Lewis Partnership accusing the group of losing its soul for considering a change to its longstanding model of employee ownership.
Last week, the partnership, which owns John Lewis department stores and the upmarket Waitrose supermarket chain, confirmed it was considering selling a minority stake in the business to outside investors to fund investment.
The partnership has warned it will have to cut staff numbers and scrap any bonus this year after its customers reduced spending, prompting its annual loss to balloon to 234 million pounds ($286 million).
"Somehow, in recent years, you've let go of the soul," wrote Portas, known as the "Queen of Shops" due to her efforts to save the UK high street.
She accused John Lewis of "chasing the new. New systems, new people, new identity...new owners. But here's the thing:...
By Hannah Ellison
LONDON - Artist duo Gilbert & George are bringing their vision of the world to a dedicated new exhibition venue in east London, with much of the programme shown for free in line with their "art for all" ethos.
The Gilbert & George Centre, in the city's Spitalfields area, is less than 5 minutes from the life and work partners' home and studio.
"We have a following and so they are able to see our work for the first time in a better way, a bigger way. Normally it's limited what you can see in cities, here they can see an intense Gilbert & George feeling," Italian-born Gilbert, whose full name is Gilbert Proesch, told on Friday.
"They're experiencing Gilbert & George art, that's what it is, our vision of the world, our morality, our behaviour and everything."
British-born George, whose full name is George Passmore, added: "The Gilbert & George centre is going to be a cultu...
- More than 3,000 British civil servants across four government departments will strike from April 11 in a dispute over pay, pensions and job security, the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union said on Friday.
"They demand the government holds meaningful talks with us and puts some money on the table to give them a decent pay rise," PCS General Secretary Mark Serwotka said.
The action will affect the Department of Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra), Forestry Commission, Rural Payments Agency and Marine Management Organisation, the union added.
(Reporting by Radhika Anilkumar in Bengaluru; Editing by Shilpi Majumdar)...
By Michael Holden
LONDON - King Charles' first state visit to France as British monarch, postponed on Friday because of widespread social unrest, was supposed to be an occasion celebrating a new chapter of harmony in relations between London and Paris.
Instead, a visit that would have featured a banquet at the old royal palace at Versailles and a visit to the legendary Bordeaux wine-growing region has fallen victim to anti-government protests in France which have seen angry crowds setting buildings ablaze and clashing with police.
As well as an embarrassment to French President Emmanuel Macron, the postponement is a disappointment for Charles, taking the gloss off his first international engagement since succeeding his mother Queen Elizabeth in September.
"The king and queen consort were of course very much looking forward to the visit," a Buckingham Palace source said.
"But when the UK prime minister informed...
PARIS - The state visit of King Charles to France will be postponed amid tensions over pension reform, the French Presidency said on Friday.
The French and British governments took the decision following a phone call between President Emmanuel Macron and the King, the statement said.
(Reporting by Dominique Vidalon; Editing by Benoit Van Overstraeten)...
LONDON - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was greeted by shouting and whistling from hundreds of protesters outside 10 Downing Street on Friday, as opposition to his judicial overhaul followed him to London.
Netanyahu shook hands with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on the steps of Downing Street and is also due to meet Britain's interior minister Suella Braverman.
Protesters could be heard shouting "Netanyahu go to jail, you can't speak for Israel", surrounded by British police and metal barricades.
The protests were organised by British Jews and Israelis under the banner "Defend Against Democracy" to voice opposition against Netanyahu's judicial reforms. Dozens of people waved Israeli flags and banged drums.
(Reporting by Muvija M, writing by Sarah Young; Editing by Kate Holton)...
NEW DELHI - Indian police have opened an investigation into a protest this week outside its High Commission in London, partner ANI reported on Friday, pursuing action on an incident that has raised tension in relations with Britain.
Protesters with "Khalistan" banners took an Indian flag down from a first-floor balcony of the High Commission in the British capital on Sunday to denounce recent police action in India's Punjab state, British and Indian media reported.
Khalistan is the name of an independent Sikh homeland that some members of that community aspire to, both at home in India and in countries where Sikhs have settled.
India summoned the top British diplomat in New Delhi on Sunday to convey its "strong protest at the actions taken by separatist and extremist elements" at the mission, and to seek an explanation for "the complete absence" of security there.
British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said acts of violen...
- The BBC has abandoned filming of the latest series of motoring programme "Top Gear" following an investigation into a December crash that injured former England cricketer Andrew Flintoff, the British broadcaster said on Thursday.
Flintoff, 45, who quit cricket in 2010 and joined Top Gear as a host in 2019, was injured in a car crash during the filming of an episode in December and was said to be "lucky to be alive."
The Times newspaper reported, citing insiders, that Flintoff was quitting as co-presenter of "Top Gear," one of BBC's most successful shows. Flintoff co-hosted the show along with Paddy McGuinness and Chris Harris.
"Under the circumstances, we feel it would be inappropriate to resume making series 34," the BBC said, adding a decision on how best to continue would be made later this year.
The broadcaster said they have apologised to Flintoff, who is widely known for his heroics in the 2005 Ashes series against A...
LONDON - Teachers in Wales have accepted a new pay offer following a consultation, their trade union said on Thursday, ending one part of a dispute that has caused disruptive strikes by thousands of teachers across Britain.
The National Education Union (NEU) said 73% of its teacher members in Wales who responded to a consultation voted to accept the offer from the devolved Welsh government, comprising an additional 3% pay award for 2022/23 alongside a 1.5% one-off payment, and a government-funded 5% rise for the following year.
"Whilst this doesn't meet our ambitions for pay restitution every part of this offer is due to our members' efforts," NEU Joint General Secretary Kevin Courtney said.
In England, the NEU and other teaching unions remain in "intensive" pay talks announced last week in a bid to end strikes by hundreds of thousands of teachers. The NEU has said it won't call for fresh strikes for two weeks during the talks....