Cumbria shellfish producers call for water grading change

Shellfish companies in Cumbria are calling on the government to change the monitoring system that grades the county’s fishing waters.

Since 1 January British fishermen have been unable to sell live, untreated shellfish caught in the UK’s Class B waters to the European Union (EU).

The government said it was seeking “an urgent resolution on this matter”.

Steve Manning, who fishes from Flookburgh, said the UK could use EU testing regimes instead.

“We think they do it probably on a daily basis whereas our results are taken over 12 month to two-year periods,” he said.

Heavy rainfall and farm muck spreading washed contaminants into Morecambe Bay, bringing down the whole year’s classification, he said.

Sarah Horsfall from the Shellfish Association of Great Britain said EU countries classified their waters “very differently” from the UK.

“If other countries can do it a different way, which doesn’t cause any issue under the legislation, that allows their industry to operate in a more flexible way, then why shouldn’t we do it?” she said.

Pressure could be put on the government to clean up UK coastal waters to “get them into a classification A”, Mr Manning said.

“Everybody else seems to be able to do it except the UK,” he said.

As an EU member Britain was exempt from rules for third countries requiring mussels, oysters, clams, cockles and scallops from waters lower than Class A to be pre-treated before export.

The government assured the industry current restrictions would end on 21 April but it became clear in February they were permanent.

It said it was “willing to provide additional reassurances to demonstrate shellfish health within reason, but this must recognise the existing high standards and history of trade between us”.

Exporters said pre-treatment was expensive and shortened shelf-life, making sales commercially unviable.

Why is Harry and Meghans TV interview so controversial?

More than a year has passed since the Duke and Duchess of Sussex announced they would “step back” from being senior members of the Royal Family.

Now living in the US, Prince Harry and Meghan have officially stepped down from their roles, and have recorded an extended interview with chat show host Oprah Winfrey to mark this departure.

But why is the interview controversial and what can we expect to hear?

Chat show host Oprah Winfrey attended the Duke and Duchess’s wedding in 2018 and is thought to live near them in California.

Her interview with the couple will air in the US on Sunday, and in the UK on ITV on Monday at 21:00 GMT.

It’s the first sit-down interview with the couple since they stepped down as working royals and moved to the US with son Archie, and is likely to contain details about their new life and their experiences in the UK.

In clips already released, Meghan says it is “liberating” to be able to speak freely. Oprah had sought an interview with Meghan in 2018 around the time of her and Prince Harry’s wedding but she was unable to go ahead with it. Meghan says at the time, she was not even allowed to speak to Oprah personally and royal staff had to be present.

An advance clip of Sunday’s interview, released by broadcaster CBS, further hints at what viewers can expect.

“I don’t know how they could expect that, after all of this time, we would still just be silent if there is an active role that The Firm is playing in perpetuating falsehoods about us,” Meghan tells Oprah.

“The Firm” is a term which the Royal Family is said to use about themselves.

We can also expect to hear about the media scrutiny the couple face. Meghan has previously said it was a “struggle” becoming a new mother in the limelight, and has admitted: “Not many people have asked if I’m OK.”

In other clips from the Oprah interview, Prince Harry draws parallels between the treatment by the media of his late mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, and his wife. He says he feared “history was repeating itself” before they made the decision to step back as senior royals.

Prince Harry and Meghan have had an antagonistic relationship with the British press since the start of their relationship.

Last year, the couple told the UK’s tabloid press they were ending all co-operation with them, saying they refused to “offer themselves up as currency for an economy of click bait and distortion”. And only last month Meghan won a privacy case against the Mail on Sunday newspaper over its publication of extracts from a handwritten letter to her father.

It’s thought the interview could also touch on racism. Last year, Harry said it was only through living in his wife’s shoes that he recognised the issue of unconscious racial bias. The couple also said not enough had been done in the UK to tackle racism.

The timing of the broadcast has come during a tumultuous period for the Royal Family.

While the interview was recorded before the Duke of Edinburgh, Harry’s grandfather and the Queen’s husband, went into hospital, it will air as the prince continues his recovery in hospital following a procedure for a heart condition.

It also comes on the back of a more light-hearted interview Prince Harry gave to James Corden on The Late Late Show, which aired last week – again while Prince Philip was in hospital.

Furthermore, this week has seen the Times newspaper publish a report saying Meghan faced a bullying complaint when she was a working royal. The complainant says she drove two personal assistants out of the household and undermined the confidence of a third staff member. Her spokesman said the duchess was “saddened” by the “latest attack on her character”.

The palace now says it is investigating the claims.

Amid all that, it is worth remembering the Queen rarely speaks about personal matters herself and, on the occasions when royals have publicly spoken about their private lives and family relationships, it has rarely gone down well with the palace.

Yes, but they are not working royals.

Senior members of the Royal Family are expected to undertake official duties on behalf of the Queen, such as representing the Crown on tours overseas, spearheading national events and supporting charities and organisations.

At the beginning of 2020, the couple announced they intended to “step back” from these duties alongside their move to North America, with plans to review the arrangement after 12 months.

In February this year it was confirmed the Duke and Duchess would step down permanently, with the Queen issuing a statement to say they would no longer “continue with the responsibilities and duties that come with a life of public service”.

This means they must return their honorary military appointments and royal patronages, which will be shared out among working members of the Royal Family.

They will keep the titles of Duke and Duchess of Sussex – bestowed on them by the Queen – but no longer be addressed as His/Her Royal Highness.

Harry is still a prince as he was born into the title, and he remains sixth in line to the throne behind his father, older brother and nephews and niece.

When Prince Harry met Meghan in 2016, she was an actress in the successful US drama Suits. They are thought to have been introduced by a mutual friend, and to have bonded over their philanthropic work.

They announced their engagement in 2017, and married at Windsor Castle the following year in a televised ceremony watched by 18 million UK viewers, and many millions more around the world.

After stepping down from royal duties, the couple briefly moved to Canada, before settling in California, where Meghan is from and where her mother still lives.

Their son Archie was born in 2019 and Meghan is expecting their second child.

French MP and billionaire Olivier Dassault dies in helicopter crash

French MP and billionaire Olivier Dassault has died in a helicopter crash in north-western France.

The accident occurred on Sunday evening in Normandy where he had a holiday home, according to police sources.

In his tribute, President Emanuel Macron said Dassault, 69, loved France and his death would be “a great loss”.

Dassault was the son of industrialist Serge Dassault, whose group builds Rafale war planes and owns Le Figaro newspaper.

He was elected to the National Assembly – France’s lower house of parliament – in 2002 and represented the Oise area of northern France.

The MP, from the centre-right Republicans, was considered the 361st richest man in the world – worth an estimated €6.3bn ($7.3bn; £5.2bn) according to Forbes.

“Olivier Dassault loved France. Captain of industry, lawmaker, local elected official, reserve commander in the air force: during his life, he never ceased to serve our country, to value its assets. His sudden death is a great loss,” Mr Macron said on Twitter.

The helicopter carrying Dassault crashed near Deauville at about 18:00 (1700 GMT), sources told AFP news agency. The pilot was also killed, the sources added. No-one else was on board.

Investigators with France’s civil aviation authority said in a tweet that the helicopter, an AS350 Écureuil, had crashed “on take-off” from private land.

Dassault was the father of three children.

Richard Ferrand, president of the National Assembly, said: “I am thinking of his family and loved ones who must feel terrible pain.”

Valerie Pecresse, a conservative politician, tweeted: “Great sadness at the news of the sudden passing of Olivier Dassault. A businessman, but also a renowned photographer, he had a passion for politics in his blood.”

Dassault’s grandfather, Marcel Dassault, founded Dassault Aviation which made aircraft propellers in World War One.

On Marcel’s death in 1986, Serge Dassault appointed Olivier director of civil aircraft strategy at the company. In 2011 he was appointed chairman of the supervisory board of Groupe Dassault.

Dassault later stepped down from his role on the board to avoid any conflict of interest in his political career.

Sarah Everard: Police confirm last sighting of missing woman

Detectives investigating the disappearance of a woman who has been missing since Wednesday in south London have confirmed where she was last seen.

Sarah Everard, 33, was last spotted on CCTV walking alone on the A205 Poynders Road, from the junction with Cavendish Road, in the direction of Tulse Hill.

The time was about 21:30 GMT, 30 minutes after she had left her friend’s home in Leathwaite Road, Clapham.

She was expected to have arrived at her home in Brixton 50 minutes later.

Detectives said it was unclear whether she returned to her home address but think she may have walked across Clapham Common.

An extensive investigation is under way, including searches and house-to-house inquiries to establish whether there were any further sightings of Ms Everard beyond that which was captured on CCTV.

The investigation continues to be treated as a missing person’s inquiry, but due to its complex nature and concerns for her welfare, the Met’s Specialist Crime Command is now leading the case.

Her family said it was “totally out of character” for her to not be in contact with them.

Det Ch Insp Katherine Goodwin said: “I would like to stress that there is no information at this stage to suggest anything untoward may have happened to Sarah.

“The focus remains on returning her home to her family safe and well and that is our number one priority.

“I would like to thank Sarah’s family and friends, the local community and members of the public for their help to raise awareness of this appeal and for coming forward with information.

“I would urge anybody who has information or noticed any suspicious activity in the area to contact us if you haven’t already. “

She was last seen wearing a green rain jacket, navy blue trousers with a white diamond pattern and turquoise and orange trainers.

She was also thought to have been wearing green earphones and a white beanie hat.

Detectives have urged people to check any dashcam or doorbell cameras for sightings of her, particularly along these roads:

Police have asked people to check dashcam and doorbell footage from these areas:

Meghan and Harrys TV interview with Oprah Winfrey to air in US

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s highly-anticipated TV interview with Oprah Winfrey is set to air in the US.

It marks the first sit-down interview with the couple since they quit their roles as senior working royals in 2020.

They are expected to discuss their new life in the US and their experiences in the UK.

In a clip released earlier this week, Meghan said it was “really liberating” to now feel “able to speak for yourself”.

The interview with Oprah will air in the US on CBS on Sunday (01:00 GMT, Monday) and in the UK on ITV at 21:00 GMT on Monday.

It comes as Buckingham Palace is investigating claims the duchess bullied royal staff.

The report about the allegations of bullying levelled at Meghan were first published in the Times after the interview with Oprah was recorded. Meghan has called it the “latest attack on her character”.

The duke and duchess announced they were stepping down as working royals in March 2020, and now live in California.

Prince Harry recently said he had to step back from royal duties to protect himself and his family from the “toxic” situation created by the UK press, as it was “destroying my mental health”.

Deals have been struck in more than 17 countries across the world for the rights to screen Oprah’s interview.

The chat show host, who attended the couple’s wedding in 2018 and is thought to live near them in California, has promised it will be “shocking” with “nothing off limits”.

Meghan will be interviewed about marriage, motherhood, life as a royal and “how she is handling life under intense public pressure”, CBS has said. The couple will also discuss their move to the US and their future plans.

Several clips have already been released by CBS and have racked up millions of views.

In a clip shown on CBS’s This Morning show earlier this week, Meghan was asked why she has decided to give an interview now.

She said: “Well, so many things. That we’re on the other side of a lot of life experience that’s happened and also that we have the ability to make our own choices in a way that I couldn’t have said yes to then. That wasn’t my choice to make.

“So, as an adult who lived a really independent life to then go into this construct that is different than I think what people imagine it to be, it’s really liberating to be able to have the right and the privilege in some ways to be able to say, yes, I’m ready to talk, to say it to yourself.

“To be able to just make a choice on your own and to be able to speak for yourself.”

In two earlier clips released by CBS, Meghan said Buckingham Palace could not expect her and Prince Harry to be silent if it was “perpetuating falsehoods about us”, while Prince Harry drew parallels between the treatment of his late mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, and Meghan.

After these two clips were released, the Times published its report saying Meghan faced a complaint of bullying from her staff while she was a working royal at Kensington Palace.

The palace said it was “concerned” about the accusations and an HR team would look at the circumstances outlined in the article.

On the reported allegations of bullying, the duchess has said in a statement through her spokesman she was “saddened” by the “attack on her character”.

Just hours before the interview is aired in the US, a special programme to celebrate Commonwealth Day will be broadcast on BBC One at 17:00 on Sunday 7 March.

Meanwhile, the timing of the broadcast has come during a tumultuous period for the Royal Family.

While the interview was recorded before the Duke of Edinburgh, Harry’s grandfather and the Queen’s husband, went into hospital, it will air as the prince continues his recovery in hospital following a procedure for a heart condition.

It also comes on the back of a more light-hearted interview Prince Harry gave to James Corden on The Late Late Show, which aired last week – again while Prince Philip was in hospital.

Woman dies after Londonderry house fire

A woman in her 50s has died following a house fire in Londonderry on Sunday morning.

Police said the blaze in Rossdowney Road was reported at about 07:30 GMT.

A woman was taken from the property, however a PSNI spokesman she “tragically died at the scene”.

The cause of the fire has yet to be established but the officer said it will be “subject to investigation” in liaison with the NI Fire and Rescue Service.

The NI Ambulance Service confirmed they had also been called to the property.

The road remains closed following the incident.

Tories plan John Swinney confidence vote over Salmond saga

The Conservatives say they will push for a vote of no confidence in the deputy first minister this week over his handling of the Alex Salmond saga.

Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross said he would also push for a similar vote against Nicola Sturgeon unless more details about the case were released.

The Scottish government published legal advice related to its court battle with Mr Salmond this week.

John Swinney had previously argued such advice should remain confidential.

But the deputy first minister said it had taken the “exceptional step” to rebut “false allegations” made about the legal advice to the Scottish government over the judicial review brought by Mr Salmond.

The move came after all opposition parties indicated they would back a motion of no confidence in Mr Swinney last week if he did not comply, with the SNP government facing defeat.

But Mr Ross said that threat had only resulted in a “partial” release of “vital evidence”.

The Conservatives said they planned to hold a vote of no confidence in Mr Swinney on Tuesday or Wednesday, with a similar vote in Ms Sturgeon “shortly afterwards”.

Speaking on BBC Scotland’s Sunday Show, Mr Ross said the Holyrood inquiry still needed to fill in the gaps in what happened at key meetings about the case involving the Scottish government.

“The [no confidence] vote is not off the table because after an eight-hour evidence session – where the first minister said she’d answered all the questions which clearly she hadn’t – the Scottish government issued more evidence that we’d been calling for.

“Why was that evidence not made available before the first minister came in front of the committee?”

Mr Ross said there was still a “blank” to fill regarding a meeting between the first minister and her permanent secretary on the case.

“There was no minutes taken? I don’t think anyone believes that’s the case, so we are still pushing the deputy first minister… this week on that vote of no confidence, to release all the evidence that the committee needs to get to the truth of this matter.”

The legal advice published this week shows that Scottish government lawyers had “reservations” about its court battle with the former first minister more than two months before it conceded the case.

The judicial review was examining whether the government’s handling of harassment complaints against Mr Salmond was legal.

The review found against the Scottish government, resulting in them having to pay Mr Salmond’s legal fees of more than £500,000.

Mr Swinney said the publication of the advice should “enhance” public confidence that such advice was not “ignored” by the Scottish government.

“I have instructed officials to consider whether further documents should be released, subject to essential statutory checks and notifications, and to do so as a matter of urgency,” he said.

Castlemartin soldier death: Sgt Gavin Hilliers family heartbroken

The family of a soldier who was killed during a live-fire training exercise at an army range have said they are “heartbroken” by his death.

In a statement, Sgt Gavin Hillier’s wife Karyn and his two sons Declan and Connor said they were “not ready to say goodbye”.

Sgt Hillier, of 1st Battalion Welsh Guards, died at Castlemartin in Pembrokeshire on Thursday.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said he was “deeply saddened” by the death.

Sgt Hillier served in Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan during his career in the Army, and in 2019 was awarded the Long Service and Good Conduct medal by the Prince of Wales.

The Welsh Guards said he was “universally loved” across the battalion and his death had been a “terrible shock”.

In a statement, his wife and sons said: “I thank you for the day you came into my life and made me your wife and became the father to our two beautiful boys.

“We are absolutely heartbroken and can’t express how proud we are of you. Our boys will continue to make you proud and you will forever live on through them.

“Daddy, we are not ready to say goodbye just yet so until we meet again, we love you always. Love, your heartbroken wife and boys.”

His mother, Karen Selway, said: “You made me so proud of you from the day you were born and we will be proud for always. Rest in peace my son, you will always be my little boy.”

Sgt Hillier’s platoon commander said his style of leadership “got the best out of the platoon” and his personality was “infectious”.

He added: “He was my rock when I needed guidance, never afraid to offer me advice and was a fierce Welshman.”

On Saturday, Dyfed-Powys Police said it had opened an investigation into the death of the soldier.

Police said officers were liaising with the Health and Safety Executive and the Ministry of Defence.

The Defence Accident Investigation Branch is also involved in inquiries.

Sgt Hillier is the fourth soldier to die at Castlemartin since 2012.

Derbyshires Codnor Castle damaged by ghost hunters and bikers

Ghost hunters and off-road bikers are among those damaging a centuries-old castle, volunteers said.

Codnor Castle, near Ripley in Derbyshire, is partly on private land but close to a number of footpaths.

The trust which looks after the ruins and nearby farmhouses said lockdown had seen stones knocked from walls and arson attacks.

They said visitors were welcome if they treated the site with respect, but many seemed not to care.

The castle dates from the 13th Century and is Grade II listed, but it is also on English Heritage’s Heritage at Risk Register.

Nearby farm buildings, parts of which date to the 16th Century, are empty but the Castle Codnor Heritage Trust has planning permission to convert them into homes and a visitor centre.

These have been boarded up, but doors and windows have been forced open.

Rokia Brown, chairwoman of the trust, said: “It started up at the beginning of the first lockdown when the parks were closed and we had increased footfall in the Erewash Valley.

“We got more again when the schools closed, but we’ve also had so-called urban explorers and paranormal investigators.

“It’s a mix of people not understanding where they can’t go and those who just want to cause trouble.”

Other problems included spray paint on walls which took four months to remove, off-road bikers tearing up laid grass and fences being kicked down.

Ms Brown said stones from the castle had been spotted for sale online and a fire had been started in the farmhouse which could have destroyed the building.

“The damage that is being done is going to cost thousands to put right,” she said.

A spokesman for the Derbyshire Historic Buildings Trust said: “We are supportive of the [Codnor Castle Heritage] Trust’s heroic efforts and is extremely concerned to learn of the growing threat to this important part of the County’s heritage, not only the castle remains but also the historic farmhouse and farmyard.

“We must not allow this remarkable historic place to descend into greater dereliction.”

Abbey Wood: Teenager stabbed to death in fight

An 18-year-old man has been stabbed to death during a fight in south-east London.

The victim was found with a stab wound to his chest in Edington Road, Abbey Wood, at about 17:30 GMT on Saturday. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

His next of kin have been told and formal identification has not yet taken place.

No arrests have been made and detectives have appealed for anyone with information to come forward.

Det Sgt Michael Hartley said: “A young man has lost his life in the most tragic circumstances and officers will work round the clock to bring those responsible to justice.

“We are still in the early stages of the investigation and I would ask anybody who was in the area yesterday evening – or who has information about the attack – to contact us immediately.”