Stonehenge tunnel: Protest staged at monument

Protesters have taken part in a “mass trespass” at Stonehenge to oppose plans to dig a tunnel near the monument.

The group, made up of local residents, ecologists, activists, archaeologists and pagans, gathered at the Wiltshire site at about 12:00 GMT on Saturday.

English Heritage closed the site until Sunday and said it was an offence to enter without permission.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps approved the £1.7bn scheme against the recommendations of planning officials.

Campaigners are worried that the work will have a detrimental impact on the wider Stonehenge world heritage site.

They said they gathered in support of Save Stonehenge World Heritage Site, which has launched a legal challenge against Mr Shapps’ decision.

Environmental activist Dan Hooper, known as Swampy, said: “This is the coming together of people who are saying we have had enough.

“The Stonehenge tunnel is just one scheme in a £27bn roads programme.

“As road transport is the single largest source of carbon emissions in the UK, this is insane.”

He added: “Building more roads simply leads to more traffic and carbon. We need to put a stop to these road schemes as we did before.”

In a statement issued on Saturday evening, Wiltshire Police said no arrests had been made and the event had “passed peacefully”.

The tunnel is part of a £1.7bn investment in the A303 between Amesbury and Berwick Down.

The A303, which is a popular route for motorists travelling to and from the South West, is often severely congested on the single carriageway stretch near the stones in Wiltshire.

Highways England said its plan for the two-mile (3.2km) tunnel will remove the sight and sound of traffic passing the site, and cut journey times.

However, Unesco previously said the scheme would have an “adverse impact” on the surrounding landscape.

Simon Bramwell, a pagan, described the site as “hallowed ground” and said the cost of the scheme would “be better spent elsewhere”.

A spokeswoman for English Heritage said: “It is an offence under the Ancient Monuments Act (1979) for people to enter the monument area without English Heritage’s permission..

“Whilst we respect people’s right to demonstrate peacefully, we do not condone behaviour that disrupts and endangers the site and the people who visit or work here.”

Brexit: UK-EU trade talks to resume despite critical issues

The UK and EU have decided to return to the negotiating table to try to agree a post-Brexit trade deal.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen made the decision during a phone call on Saturday.

Negotiating teams will reconvene in Brussels on Sunday, and the leaders will speak again on Monday evening.

A joint statement from Mr Johnson and Ms Von der Leyen said “significant differences” remain between them.

The “three critical issues” that need to be agreed are fishing rights, competition rules and how any deal is enforced, with the statement adding: “Both sides underlined that no agreement is feasible if these issues are not resolved.”

But the leaders continued: “Whilst recognising the seriousness of these differences, we agreed that a further effort should be undertaken by our negotiating teams to assess whether they can be resolved.”

The UK left the EU on 31 January but remains under EU trading rules until the end of the year.

If a deal is not agreed by that point, tariffs – or taxes on goods – could come into force.

The two sides have been holding talks since March in an attempt to secure a deal before the transition period ends on 31 December.

But the same three sticking points have stopped negotiating teams coming to an agreement.

The BBC’s political editor, Laura Kuenssberg, said it “feels like a last roll of the dice, rather than ironing out a few last minute glitches”, and the next 48 hours would be “critical”.

The EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, tweeted after the statement was published, saying: “We will see if there is a way forward.”

Ireland’s Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Micheal Martin also took to Twitter, welcoming the news that the teams would resume trade talks.

He said: “An agreement is in everyone’s best interests. Every effort should be made to reach a deal.”

What happens next with Brexit?

If an agreement is reached it will need to be turned into legal text and translated into all EU languages, then ratified by the European Parliament.

The UK government is likely to introduce legislation implementing parts of any deal reached, which MPs will be able to vote on.

And the 27 EU national parliaments could also need to ratify an agreement – depending on the actual contents of the deal.

Meredith Kercher: Rudy Guede to finish term doing community service

The man convicted of killing 21-year-old UK student Meredith Kercher will finish his sentence doing community service, an Italian court has ruled.

Born in London in 1985, Ms Kercher went to the University of Perugia in 2007 as an exchange student.

On 1 November that year she was sexually assaulted and stabbed to death in her flat, accommodation she shared with American student Amanda Knox.

Rudy Guede was convicted in 2008. He denies murdering Ms Kercher.

Ms Knox and her then-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito were separately convicted of Ms Kercher’s murder in 2009.

Their arrests and the guilty verdicts generated international media attention. The pair served four years behind bars before those convictions were overturned.

After a number of appeals and retrials Italy’s highest court acquitted them both for good in March 2015.

Guede left Perugia and travelled to Germany in the days after her killing. After his extradition back to Italy he chose a fast-track trial, held in a closed session without journalists present, and was subsequently convicted of the murder after his DNA was found at the scene.

The Ivory Coast-born 33-year-old has repeatedly claimed he is innocent. He was initially jailed for 30 years, later reduced to 16, on appeal.

On Friday, a court ruled that Guede could now complete that term doing community service.

He had already been given partial prison release in 2017, and his lawyer told local media after the ruling that his client was “calm and socially well integrated”.

Worlds biggest iceberg captured by RAF cameras

An RAF aircraft has obtained images of the world’s biggest iceberg as it drifts through the South Atlantic.

The A400m transporter flew low over the 4,200-sq-km block, known as A68a, to observe its increasingly ragged state.

The pictures reveal multiple cracks and fissures, innumerable icy chunks that have fallen off, and what appear to be tunnels extending under the waterline.

The Antarctic berg is currently bearing down on the British Overseas Territory of South Georgia.

A68a is now just 200km from the island and there is a real possibility it could become stuck in shallow coastal waters.

The British Forces South Atlantic Island (BFSAI) reconnaissance flight was sent out to assess the situation.

“Guided by satellite tracking, the A400M can get under the weather and closer to the iceberg, enabling more detailed observations,” Squadron Leader Michael Wilkinson, Officer Commanding 1312 Flt, said in a BFSAI Facebook posting.

“I know I speak on behalf of all of the crew involved when I say this is certainly a unique and unforgettable task to be involved in.”

Satellite images acquired in recent weeks have also suggested that A68a’s edges are crumbling rapidly.

Relentless wave action is breaking off countless small fragments, so-called “bergy bits” and “growlers”. But some of the pieces being calved are significant objects in their own right and will need tracking because of the additional hazard they will now pose to shipping.

The A400m’s new imagery – stills and video – will be analysed to try to understand how the berg might behave in the coming weeks and months.

Although currently heading straight at South Georgia, A68a is being carried in fast-moving waters that should divert the bloc in a loop around the southern part of the island.

There is considerable interest in whether the berg might then ground on the territory’s continental shelf.

Should that happen, it could cause considerable difficulties for the island’s seals and penguins as they try to get out to sea to forage for fish and krill.

When A68a broke away from an ice shelf in Antarctica in July 2017, it measured nearly 6,000 sq km – about a quarter of the size of Wales. At 4,200 sq km, it now has an area closer to that of an English county like Somerset.

Experts are surprised the iceberg hasn’t lost more of its bulk. Many thought it would have shattered into several large pieces long before now.

Bird flu: All captive birds in Britain to be kept indoors amid outbreak

Hens, turkeys and other captive birds in Britain will have to be kept indoors from 14 December to prevent the spread of bird flu, the government has said.

The chief vets for England, Scotland and Wales made the decision after a number of cases were detected among both captive and wild birds.

The risk to humans is “very low”, the government said, and should “not affect the consumption of poultry products”.

But in a joint statement, veterinary chiefs said “swift action” was needed.

“Whether you keep just a few birds or thousands, from 14 December onwards you will be legally required to keep your birds indoors, or take appropriate steps to keep them separate from wild birds,” read the statement.

“We have not taken this decision lightly but it is the best way to protect your birds from this highly infectious disease.”

There are numerous strains of bird flu. Most either do not affect humans, or are not easily caught and spread by humans.

Deaths have been recorded outside of the UK related to some strains, but the H5N8 strain – which makes up the bulk of the UK’s current cases – has not infected any humans worldwide to date, the NHS said.

A turkey farm in Norfolk is among those to found to have had an outbreak of the H5N8 bird flu strain. The birds will now be slaughtered to prevent the spread.

While the news will be of particular concern to poultry farmers in the run-up to Christmas, the new rules will apply to all bird owners in Britain.

However, despite the concern, the Department for Environment Farming and Rural Affairs said poultry products – including eggs – are still safe to consume.

Poultry includes chickens, ducks, turkeys, geese, pigeon (bred for meat), partridge, quail, guinea fowl and pheasants.

No end date for the measures has been given, but Defra said they would be kept under “regular review”.

Farmers forced to move their birds indoors in circumstances such as these may continue to market the meat as “free range” as long as the measures do not last longer than 12 weeks.

For eggs, this deadline is slightly longer – 16 weeks. After this point, the eggs must be downgraded to “barn produced”.

Aimee Mahony, chief poultry adviser for the National Farmers’ Union, said the new rules were “a logical next step”.

“These new measures mean that every poultry keeper, whether you have one hen in the garden or a large poultry business, must house their birds indoors and I would urge everyone with poultry to take these measures seriously,” she said.

Man charged with murdering two women in Kent in 1987

A man has been charged with murdering two women from Kent more than 30 years ago.

Cold case detectives arrested David Fuller, 66, from Heathfield, East Sussex, on Thursday in connection with the deaths of Wendy Knell and Caroline Pierce in 1987.

He has now been charged with two counts of murder and remanded in custody.

He will appear before Medway Magistrates’ Court later.

Ass Ch Con Tracey Harman, from Kent Police, said: “Whilst more than three decades have passed since these murders took place, I would urge anyone who has any information, no matter how minor or insignificant it may appear to be, to contact us.”

Ms Knell, 25, was found dead at her home in Guildford Road, Tunbridge Wells, on 23 June, having been beaten and sexually assaulted.

Ms Pierce, 20, was attacked outside her home in the town’s Grosvenor Park on 24 November, before her body was found in a Romney Marsh field, on 15 December.

St Ives Christmas donations destroyed in seafront fire

Dozens of Christmas gifts for families in need have been destroyed after a chip shop fire spread to a Salvation Army building.

Around 100 toys and 80 hampers were lost in the fire on St Ives seafront.

The blaze in a fish and chip shop on Wharf Road broke out at around 17:00 GMT on Friday.

Local councillor Kirsty Arthur said the fire had destroyed donations that people had been “working their socks off to make for the community”.

More than £10,000 has been raised in donations to replace the items lost.

The restaurant fire broke out close to the St Ives lifeboat station and spread to the nearby Salvation Army building, Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service said.

Crews from 17 fire stations battled the flames until 04:30 GMT on Saturday, when firefighters with breathing apparatus could get into the building.

The area around the harbour was evacuated and an overnight centre was opened for people forced to leave their homes.

Cllr Arthur announced on social media that a meeting would be held on Saturday to discuss how the project could continue.

She said: “I know a lot of you are waiting to help so I’ll keep you updated as soon as I know what’s needed.

“I’m not worried as I’ve seen this community come through over and over again.”

Nathan Loxley from the Salvation Army said he was “still in shock” and around 100 toys and 80 food hampers had been destroyed.

A centre for replacement donations has been opened at the Guildhall concert venue and and people can use their online donation page, he added.

Donations have already exceeded £10,200, more than nine times the target.

Mr Loxley said: “We’re looking after each other, asking how people are, sharing hot drinks.”

“It wasn’t a nice atmosphere, of course, but people coming together. Which is always amazing isn’t it?”

Severe flooding disrupts trains and trams in parts of Scotland

Heavy rainfall has caused extensive flooding in parts of Scotland, with train and tram lines being engulfed by water.

ScotRail services between Aberdeen and Inverness have been disrupted after a landslip near Huntly.

Train services were also affected by flooding on the line at Livingston and at Hartwood in North Lanarkshire. Hartwood services have now resumed.

Tram lines in Edinburgh have also been swamped with water.

Edinburgh Trams said the flooding was near Edinburgh Airport and between the Gyle Centre and Edinburgh Gateway.

It said: “Our engineers are working around the clock to minimise the effects of the heavy rainfall to ensure we are able to commence full route reservices as soon as the flooding subsides.

“They continue to pump excess water, however with the nearby Gogar Burn and River Almond at or above capacity, this is having little impact.”

Tram customers can use their tickets on Lothian buses.

Services from Inverness affected by the landslip will terminate and start back from Elgin and services from Aberdeen will terminate and start back from Huntly.

Customers are advised to use valid tickets on Stagecoach East.

A number of roads in Edinburgh have also been closed due to flooding. Affected areas include those around the River Almond in Kirkliston and the Water of Leith in Stockbridge and Roseburn.

Edinburgh City Council staff worked through the night dealing with problems caused by the heavy rain.

The council’s flood response plan was put in place after a Sepa flood warning was received at 18:30 on Friday. Extra staff were also called in to help put out sandbags and clear debris. The flood warning is no longer in force.

The council’s transport and environment convener Councillor Lesley Macinnes said: “Our roads and flood prevention teams have worked extremely hard throughout the night to help the city cope with the impact of last night’s severe weather.

“There has been some localised flooding and road closures and our flood response plan for the Water of Leith was put into place. Our roads teams will continue to work throughout the weekend to attend to any damage resulting from the flooding and clear away any debris.”

Lucy McHugh: Social workers caseload too high before girls murder

Social workers’ caseloads were “too high” in the months before a 13-year-old girl was murdered by a man lodging in her home, a council boss has said.

Stephen Nicholson groomed and raped Lucy McHugh in Southampton before stabbing her to death in 2018.

Teachers’ concerns that Lucy was being abused were not fully investigated, a report by the Southampton Safeguarding Children Partnership found.

Southampton City Council said it would recruit more social workers.

A serious case review found the authorities were aware Nicholson had a criminal history but social workers considered the concerns had “no foundation” because they were given “assurances” by Lucy’s mother.

Nicholson was jailed for life for Lucy’s murder last year.

Rob Henderson, the new executive director of children’s wellbeing at the city council, was quizzed by councillors about the case at a scrutiny meeting, the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) said.

Mr Henderson told the meeting: “At that time, in May 2018, caseloads for the assessment service were too high.

“When you work with too many children and families your capacity to be curious [about a case] is limited because you are involved in a number of situations and often crises which distract you.”

He added that the council would work with an independent organisation to ensure children’s voices were heard.

Nicholson moved into the family’s home in 2017 after being invited by long-time friend Richard Elmes, the partner of Lucy’s mother Stacey White.

Lucy described Nicholson as her “boyfriend” and teachers alerted the council that they feared she was being sexually exploited.

Nicholson stabbed Lucy 27 times near Southampton Outdoor Sports Centre on 25 July – a day after she sent him a message saying she was pregnant. It was later established she had not been pregnant.

Southampton City Council’s executive director has previously apologised to Lucy’s family for the authority’s “shortcomings”.

Three die and two in hospital after Bothwell crash

Two men and a woman have died following a crash in Bothwell, South Lanarkshire.

Police were called to the collision, involving a Vauxhall Astra, on Blairston Avenue – near the junction with Old Bothwell Road – at about 04:35.

A woman, aged 30, and two men, aged 36 and 62, were pronounced dead at the scene.

A man, aged 31, was taken to University Hospital Wishaw, where hospital staff described his condition as critical.

A 42-year-old man was taken to the same hospital where his condition has been described as stable.

Ch Insp Darren Faulds said: “Our thoughts are with the families and friends of those involved in this crash. Our officers are liaising with the families and providing support.

“Our investigation is ongoing to establish the full circumstances of this crash.

“I would ask any witnesses to the crash, or anyone with information that may assist our investigation to contact us.

“I would also like to speak to anyone who was driving on this road around the time of the crash and may have dashcam footage to come forward.”