A468 Machen crash: Man arrested after pedestrian killed

A man has been arrested after a pedestrian died when he was hit by a car in south Wales.

The pedestrian, a 30-year-old man from Cwmbran, was hit by a black Mercedes AMG on the A468 between Caerphilly and Newport at about 20:35 BST on Friday.

A 25-year-old man from the Newport area has been arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving and remains in police custody.

Part of the road, known as the “Machen straight”, was closed until Saturday.

Gwent Police is appealing for witnesses to get in touch.

Man appears in court charged with owning submachine gun

A man has appeared in court after being caught with a submachine gun in north London, the Met Police have said.

Police searched three properties linked to Azeem Ahktar, 29, after they stopped a car on Chapter Road, Brent, on Thursday.

At one property police found a Scorpion submachine gun and £200,00 in cash.

Mr Ahktar appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Saturday charged with being in possession of a prohibited weapon.

He was also charged with two counts of drug possession with intent to supply and one count of acquiring, using or possessing criminal property.

He was remanded in custody to appear at Harrow Crown Court on 11 December.

Two other men – aged 29 and 30 years old – have been bailed pending further enquiries

Titanic letter by brave pastor John Harper sells for £42k

A letter written by a Titanic hero who sacrificed his life to save others has sold at auction for £42,000.

Baptist preacher John Harper gave his lifejacket to another passenger and went down with the doomed ocean liner in April 1912.

His last letter was sold at an online auction of Titanic memorabilia in Wiltshire on Saturday.

Auctioneer Andrew Aldridge said: “John Harper was probably one of the bravest men on that boat.”

Written on Titanic stationary on April 11, 1912 to a fellow clergyman, the letter was posted at Cobh in Ireland, which was known as Queenstown when the Titanic stopped at the port before setting out across the Atlantic.

Pastor Harper, 39, was the pastor of Walworth Road Baptist Church, in London. He was a widower and was travelling with his daughter Annie Jessie and his sister Jessie W. Leitch to Chicago to preach at the Moody Church.

He refused a seat in a lifeboat alongside his daughter and sister, instead staying on board to offer words of comfort to passengers.

He then gave his lifejacket to another passenger who survived, with other survivors reporting he continued to preach the Gospel as the ship sank.

The letter talks about life on board the ship and thanks his friend and colleague for a recent kindness.

Originally from Glasgow, Pastor Harper first preached at the Paisley Road Baptist Church which would later be renamed the Harper Memorial Church in 1921.

His daughter Annie Jessie went to be the longest-living Scottish Titanic survivor and died in 1986.

Mr Aldridge, from Henry Aldridge and Sons auctioneers in Devizes, Wiltshire, said: “His actions epitomised that British generation in times of adversity.

“The condition of the letter is superb, it has been owned by a private collector for the last 25 years who has decided to pass the baton on to the next generation.”

The letter says: “My Dear Brother Young. I am penning you this line just before we get to Queenstown to assure you that I have not forgotten you and especially all your kindness while we were north.

“I intended sending on Mrs Pratt’s train fares just before I left but in the rush, which was exceptional having had 11 or 12 services for the week-end, I was unable to get it done.

“I will send it on from Chicago. We had a great season of blessing during the last few days in Walworth.

“I don’t know how I am to thank dear Aunty Mary and yourself for all your kindness. The Lord will repay you for it all. Trust things are going well at Paisley Road. The warriors are with me here and are doing well so far on the journey.

“Very kindest love, your loving auld Pastor, John Harper.”

Falkland islanders celebrate being landmine free – after nearly 40 years

Falkland Islanders have been celebrating the day their beaches and coves have been declared free of landmines – after almost 40 years.

The British overseas territory was peppered with an estimated 13,000 mines by Argentine forces in the 1982 conflict.

On hand for the mine-free declaration day was Welsh-born doctor Barry Elsby.

He is one of the islanders who has never walked on the last beach to be cleared, Yorke Beach near Stanley.

He moved to the Falklands with his wife for a two-year medical contract in 1990, and never left.

He is now one of the islands’ eight members of the legislative assembly governing the 2,500 population.

“I have friends who were born here after the 1982 conflict, and have never been able to stroll along this beach,” he said.

“We are looking forward to reclaiming the beach by blowing up the last mines.

“This will be another good bit of closure for people who were here when the invasion happened and lived through the horrors of that time.

“All the mine signposts were a constant reminder of what happened but now they are all away, it’s another return to normality.

“It is a very welcome development and I don’t think anyone ever thought this would come about.”

A programme to remove the mines has been under way since 2009 as part of the UK’s obligations under the international anti-personnel mine ban convention.

“We never thought the islands would be completely mine free, so this is a momentous change,” added Dr Elsby.

“More importantly, no-one has been seriously harmed doing this. It speaks volumes for the teams that have been responsible for doing this over so many years.”

It also speaks volumes for the islanders, according to the doctor, and gives an insight into why he was happy to swap his former childhood home of Garden City in Flinshire, north Wales, for somewhere like the Falklands.

“We had clear plans when we came here in 1990 – we had no intention of staying,” he said.

“But we were captivated, not just by the beauty, but also by the way of life and friendliness of the community.”

The son of a crane driver in the Shotton steelworks, his links with Wales remain strong despite being almost 8,000 miles (12,735km) away.

“For the last eight years, I have been laying wreaths at Fitzroy where so many Welsh Guards died and were injured, so I think those links will remain forever,” he said.

The UK minister with responsibility for the Falklands, Wendy Morton said the final de-mining exercise on Saturday was a “significant achievement” for the Falklands and its population.

“We must pay tribute to the brilliant team of deminers who made a long-term commitment to this programme and put their lives at risk day-to-day, removing and destroying landmines to make the Falklands safe,” she said.

“Our commitment to ridding the world of fatal landmines does not end with our territories being mine free.

“A further £36m of UK funding will allow demining projects across the world to continue, protecting innocent civilian lives.”

Hungry dog jumping for food starts Braintree kitchen blaze

A hungry dog started a kitchen blaze when it accidentally switched on an electric hob while jumping to reach its food.

The owners found their oven ablaze when they returned home from the school run.

Firefighters arrived at James Road, Braintree, on Friday to find the family safely outside and put out the flames.

William McGrath, of Essex County Fire and Rescue Service, said it could have been a “different outcome” if the family had been delayed coming home.

“They had got out, stayed out and called 999, which was absolutely the right thing to do,” he said.

He warned people to keep all kitchen surfaces clear when not in use and to turn off hobs and ovens at the main switch.

The fire, which had not spread to surrounding cupboards, was put out by 15:55 GMT.

Port Talbot steelworks: Resist speculation over future

There has been a call to “resist dealing in speculation” over the future of steel production at Tata’s plant in Wales.

Welsh Secretary Simon Hart said the firm “want to make steel in Wales, and that’s a good place to be starting this debate from”.

It followed an announcement that Tata is looking to sell part of its European arm.

About 4,000 people work at its Port Talbot steel making plant.

Tata announced on Friday that Swedish firm SSAB had initiated talks over the acquisition of its Netherlands-based operations.

The move would separate the UK and Dutch parts of Tata’s business, which merged back in 1999, then as British Steel and Koninklijke Hoogovens.

Wales’ Economy Minister Ken Skates said the news was “extremely worrying” for Tata’s 8,000 workers across the UK.

Stephen Kinnock, MP for Port Talbot’s Aberavon constituency, said it was “time for a partnership” between Tata Steel and the government.

He told BBC Radio Wales that Tata’s decision “puts the spotlight very firmly on the UK government that has to now step up and provide support to the British steel industry”.

He added: “It is about the UK government now stepping up to the plate and saying ‘okay, this is a British business, we need it for decarbonisation, for climate change objectives, we need it to build sovereign capacity after Brexit’.”

Tom Hoyles, of the GMB Wales union, said public ownership and UK government support “should be on the table” if necessary.

“Those are two options we think they should look at,” he said.

“Port Talbot and steel go together like fish and chips.

“It’s not just the jobs that are there that will be affected but supply lines… the smaller businesses and families who live in the town as well who will be worried.”

The UK government has also said it “will continue to work with Tata Steel and other stakeholders” as the company shapes its business strategy for the future.

The Welsh Secretary said the UK government and Tata had agreed to “work together” to protect the industry.

Mr Hart said it was a positive sign that Tata had made a commitment to a “sustainable steel manufacturing presence” in Wales.

Asked whether the UK government would step in and protect jobs at Tata, he said it needed to see what Tata planned for Port Talbot.

He added: “We stepped in and saved Celsa Steel in Cardiff at the beginning of lockdown.

“We have a good track record in Wales of where the arguments add up, of stepping in and helping. We saved 800 jobs in Cardiff.”

Bird flu found in dead swan in County Derry

A wild swan found dead in County Londonderry has tested positive for bird flu.

It was discovered at Lough Beg near Toomebridge earlier this week.

Preliminary results confirmed that it had a similar strain of the disease to that found in poultry flocks and wild birds in Britain.

Public health officials have advised that the risk to public health from this strain of avian influenza is very low, as is the risk to food safety.

A dead falcon in County Limerick also tested positive in recent days.

The chief vet Dr Robert Huey urged poultry keepers to tighten their biosecurity measures to stop transmission to commercial flocks.

The swan was found by environmentalist Chris Murphy who was assessing the impact of A6 roadworks on overwintering birds at the lough – an internationally important protected site.

Further tests will now be carried out to establish whether the disease is a highly pathogenic strain, or one which is less virulent.

A bird flu prevention zone was declared across Britain on Wednesday after the discovery of the disease there.

Where it is detected in poultry flocks the birds are destroyed and prevention zones are established around affected premises.

It can also lead to restrictions on trade.

Northern Ireland’s Chief Vet Robert Huey urged anyone with poultry to tighten their biosecurity to prevent interaction between wild birds and their flocks.

Wigan fire: Crews tackle blaze involving 400 vehicles

Firefighters are tackling a blaze involving 400 vehicles in an industrial estate.

Crews were called at about 05:45 GMT to the fire in Wigan, Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS) said. No one is reported to be injured.

Station Manager Andy Hardman said firefighters had “scaled back the incident significantly” at Kirkless Industrial Estate.

“Our crews continue to work extremely hard to extinguish this fire.”

He advised local residents to keep windows and doors shut.

There are no details yet on the cause of the blaze.

Northwick Park: Killed teenager named as Jamalie Matthew

The family of a 17-year-old boy stabbed to death in north-west London say they are “utterly devastated”.

Jamalie Matthew was found with fatal stab wounds at Northwick Park, Harrow, at about 15:50 GMT on 12 November.

He was pronounced dead at the scene. No arrests have been made.

“We all knew of his ambition to study law, and coming to terms with the tragedy that has unfolded still feels so surreal,” Mr Matthew’s family said in a statement.

“The whole family is deeply saddened and utterly devastated about the passing of Jamalie.”

Car carrying children rams into police in pursuit near Northampton

A woman driving a suspected stolen Range Rover with children inside rammed into two police cars during a pursuit.

The Central Motorways Policing Group (CMPG) said the Evoque was being pursued near Solihull in the West Midlands.

As officers tried to stop the vehicle near Northampton, it rammed into two police cars shortly before 01:00 GMT.

A 35-year-old woman was arrested on suspicion of dangerous driving, CMPG added.

In a tweet, Warwickshire Police officers who assisted the pursuit said the youngsters were “thankfully unhurt”.