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Bomber’s brother ‘was plotting terror act in the UK’

Abu Musa al-BritaniImage copyright Other
Image caption The court was told Mohammed Awan’s brother Rizwan appeared to have joined the Islamic State (IS) group

The brother of a suicide bomber killed in Iraq was caught by police preparing to commit an act of terrorism in the UK, a court has heard.

Mohammed Awan, 24, was arrested days after buying 500 ball bearings, and possessed extremist material advising they could be used in home-made bombs.

It is alleged the dentistry student from Huddersfield owned a guide book on how to form a sleeper cell in the West.

His brother Rizwan Awan killed dozens in a bomb blast in Iraq in 2016.

Sheffield Crown Court was told Rizwan had travelled from Manchester to Istanbul on 17 May, 2015 and appeared to have joined the Islamic State (IS) group.

Image caption Anti-terror police carried out a raid at the family home in Huddersfield

The court heard anti-terror police swooped on 1 June this year after Awan, a Sheffield University student, had bought a bag of ball bearings on the internet.

They were delivered to the family home in Rudding Street, Huddersfield.

More material was discovered during a raid at his flat in Sheffield, including a terrorist publication titled ‘How to Survive in the West’ which was found on a memory stick headed ‘My Stuff’.

The court was told the document is a guide book on how to create a sleeper cell, including advice on using ball bearings as shrapnel and how to make bombs.

A review of images and audio files taken from a mobile phone included pictures of the Boston marathon bombing and a man wearing an orange jumpsuit about to be executed.

Awan claimed the memory stick belonged to his dead brother and he had kept it for sentimental reasons.

But the prosecution said Rizwan Awan’s own digital services had been reset to factory settings and wiped clean before he left the country.

Mohammed Awan denies preparing an act of terrorism and two charges of possessing terrorist-related documents.

The trial continues.

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Media caption‘I would have died without Help to Rent’

For Steve, homelessness started when his relationship broke down.

He moved into shared accommodation and after going into hospital with pneumonia he came home to find the landlord changing the locks.

Soon he was on the streets.

“People think if you’re homeless you must be some kind of addict or a bad person,” he says. “But it takes such a little spark to cause the fire of homelessness. And trying to find help is actually quite hard because it’s not that well signposted.”

Councils have a legal duty to help families, pregnant women and other vulnerable people who find themselves homeless. But as a single man Steve did not qualify as “priority need” and the private rented sector was the most viable option.

Image caption A Help to Rent scheme helped Steve find a long-term home.

But renting in the private sector is expensive.

With most landlords requiring a deposit, a month’s rent in advance and agency fees of up to £350 the costs add up.

Research by homelessness charity Crisis found these upfront costs can range from around £900 for shared accommodation in Yorkshire to over £2,000 for a one-bed flat in London.

This would be a significant amount for anyone, but for someone who is homeless it can be an insurmountable barrier.

This is on top of the fact that most landlords are unwilling to rent to someone on benefits, let alone someone who is homeless – research by Crisis found only 20% of landlords would be willing to let to homeless people.

Eventually Steve was put in touch with a charity in Elmbridge, Surrey, an area he knew.

Elmbridge is in Chancellor Philip Hammond‘s constituency and is one of the most expensive postcodes in the country. Rents and therefore deposits are very high.

Owning virtually nothing except for a few clothes, Steve had little hope of getting the money together for a deposit to rent.

Elmbridge Rentstart helped him find a suitable home and provided a six month bond on his deposit, as well as paying the first month’s rent.

Instead of a cash deposit the charity provides a guarantee to the landlord to cover any damage to the property or unpaid rent, removing the financial risk.

If there is any damage to the property at the end of a tenancy the charity either tries to rectify the issue using volunteers, for example through redecorating, or will pay the landlord directly.

However, they found with the right support deposit deductions tend to be low.

Long-term solution

Rentstart also provided support to help Steve understand the process and the benefits he was entitled to.

“Without Rentstart’s help I would probably have been dead,” he said.

“I wouldn’t have known where to start looking for benefits. I wouldn’t have even known benefits were available. I would have been on the streets in the winter and I probably wouldn’t have seen the winter through.”

The scheme aims to find a long-term solution, matching tenants to suitable homes and providing ongoing support.

“I’ve been living here for four years. And it’s because they did their research,” he explains.

“They didn’t just say ‘well you’re homeless, you’re going here’. I knew the area, I knew the people and I knew where to look for work. I had connections.”

Image caption Chief Executive of Elmbridge Rentstart Helen Watson backs a government-funded rent deposit scheme.

Ahead of the Budget, Crisis is calling for the government to fund more Help to Rent schemes like the one in Elmbridge and a national rent deposit scheme.

This would provide a commitment from the government to guarantee a deposit for tenants who can’t afford to pay one upfront.

A spokesperson for the Department for Communities and Local Government said it was investing £950m up to 2020 to reduce homelessness and a further £2bn in affordable housing.

But Helen Watson, Chief Executive of Elmbridge Rentstart, said a government-funded rent deposit scheme would make a huge difference to organisations like hers.

“It would mean the really limited resources we have to hold to have our own bond scheme would be freed up to house more people in other ways,” she says.

The Westminster Policy Institute estimated funding the scheme would cost £31m a year. But Crisis says the long-term annual savings could be up to £595m, by taking pressure off local authority services and preventing people becoming homeless, allowing them to move off benefits and back into work.

The Homelessness Reduction Act, which comes into force next year, places extra responsibilities on councils to prevent homelessness. Crisis says Help to Rent would help homeless people into the private rented sector, taking the pressure of councils.

Immediate help

Helen Watson acknowledges the need for more social housing but says the private rented sector could also offer solutions.

“With the private rented sector you can pick where you want to live. So if you’ve got problems in a particular area because the network’s not good and you’re trying to recover from a drug or alcohol problem, somewhere else, perhaps where you can find work, is a really good solution,” she says.

“Of course we need more social housing but the private rented sector is a good solution when it’s properly managed by the right sort of organisation.”

Tom Say, a senior campaigns officer at Crisis, agrees.

“We absolutely need to build more social housing but that’s a long term goal. It will take years to build that new housing to get the stock we need,” he said.

“There are homeless people that need help right now and this is a quick way for the government to help those people.”

Steve now works for Elmbridge Rentstart himself, spending his evenings locating homeless people in the area who might be in need of help. He says the Help to Rent scheme changed his life.

“Without the support and guidance it gave me, I’d be worse off than the guys I go out and help.”

Stolen John Lennon items recovered in Berlin

Glasses from the estate of John Lennon are pictured during a press conference on November 21, 2017 in Berlin.Image copyright AFP
Image caption Pairs of John Lennon’s signature round glasses were also found

German police have recovered more than 100 items stolen from John Lennon’s estate, including three diaries.

The diaries were put on display at Berlin police headquarters with other items including a tape recording of a Beatles concert, two pairs of glasses, sheet music and a cigarette case.

Police said a 58-year-old man had been arrested on suspicion of handling stolen goods.

The items were stolen in New York in 2006 from Lennon’s widow, Yoko Ono.

Detectives said much of the haul was confiscated from an auction house in Berlin in July, sparking an investigation to find the rest of the stolen items.

Ono identified the objects from photos she was shown at the German consulate in New York, German media reported.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption The diaries, along with other items, were displayed by police in Berlin

The suspect was arrested on Monday in Berlin after police searched his home and cars.

Martin Steltner, a spokesman for the Berlin prosecutor’s office, said another suspect, who lives in Turkey, “is unattainable for us at the present time”.

It is understood the second suspect used to work as a chauffeur for Ono.

Mr Steltner said it was not clear when the recovered items could be returned to Lennon’s estate.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption John Lennon, pictured here with Yoko Ono in 1969, was shot dead in New York in 1980

Memorabilia connected to the Beatles can fetch huge prices at auction.

In February, a leather jacket believed to have been worn by Lennon sold for £10,400 at an auction in England.

In September, an original score for The Beatles’ song Eleanor Rigby was removed from another auction in England amid claims it had been stolen.

The handwritten score, signed by Paul McCartney, was due to be sold with a guide price of £20,000.

Caldey Island monk sexual abuse ‘reported to abbot’

Father Thaddeus Kotik
Image caption Father Thaddeus Kotik befriended children on the island

A monk who sexually abused children on Caldey Island in the 1970s and 1980s was reported to the abbot but not to police, according to a letter seen by BBC Wales.

Brother Robert O’Brien acknowledged he knew about the abuse by Father Thaddeus Kotik in 1990 and said he had warned him of the “severe penalties”.

Dyfed-Powys Police said it received reports of the abuse in 2014 and 2016.

They investigated but could not prosecute as Kotik died in 1992.

Six women have been paid compensation in an out-of-court settlement by Caldey Abbey following the sexual abuse claims.

But there are fears there could be more victims and calls have been made for an independent inquiry by the Minister and Clergy Sexual Abuse Survivors group.

It comes as the letter from Brother Robert showed Kotik’s behaviour was known about in the monastery.

“The conduct of Father Thaddeus Kotik was a serious heartache to me and I rebuked him very sharply, urging on him the welfare of these little ones, warning him of the severe penalties this country rightly imposes,” he wrote.

Brother Robert was also aware of the methods Kotik used.

“He likes to ‘spoil’ as much as ‘be spoilt’ so won their friendship with biscuits and sweets. When I began to be anxious I forbade him to go to the (the victim’s) home,” the letter continued.

“I summoned Father Thaddeus and warned him of the wrong he was doing the children. He was very contrite, assured me it had gone no further.

“I tried to keep an eye on his goings and comings. I think he did improve a while.

“I believed that it was touches through their clothes and sadly touches by them on his body but again through his clothes. It is possible though, I hope not, that Fr Thaddeus did abuse… more seriously.

“I feel fairly sure I can prevent any repetition with the young children on the island.”

VIDEO: Mum tells of burglary ordeal for crime-busting campaign

Mum-of-two Natalie Starr has recorded five videos telling of her ordeal, which West Yorkshire Police have released on their website.

Mrs Starr’s house was burgled while she was walking her dog with her children, aged four and five. She received a call from one of her neighbours to say she had seen her car being driven away, and returned home to find her house ransacked.

She said: “The biggest upset was actually going through the babies’ things and going through the children’s rooms and thinking there might be something expensive in a toy box or a baby’s memory box. The thing that was actually the most disturbing was when you realise somebody has been in your house.”

Mrs Starr, 35, has now set up a Neighbourhood Watch group.

As part of their new campaign, West Yorkshire Police have put together simple crime prevention advice to help homeowners protect their possessions, backed by a poster campaign.

The three messages are to always remember to lock the door, leave a light on upstairs, and to always set the burglar alarm.

Mrs Starr said: “I didn’t ever believe it would happen to me. I thought I lived in a very safe place, I’m at home a lot and felt very secure.

“We had always talked about adding additional security but felt safe enough for it not to be top of the priority list. They were in the house for 19 minutes, and went through 11 rooms, every cupboard and drawer and the baby boxes to see if anything valuable was in there.

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“The impact has been far more than I ever anticipated.

“After the burglary I was a little scared to be in the house on my own at night. I became a bit neurotic about locking doors behind me and making sure every door was locked in the house.

“We have ordered new gates to make sure it is not so open to see our children playing in the front garden, because you start to worry about other things happening to you as well.”

Police are not revealing the location of Mrs Starr’s home.

See all five videos here.

Cyril Smith inquiry: PM’s pledge on ex-Rochdale MP’s documents

Cyril Smith
Image caption Cyril Smith was a governor at Knowl View

Prime Minister Theresa May has made assurances documents relating to the late Cyril Smith will not be withheld.

An inquiry is investigating alleged sexual abuse of boys by the former Rochdale MP in care institutions.

Wigan MP Lisa Nandy told the Commons she received a letter from Ms May stating security services work would “not prevent information being shared”.

The Labour MP said Home Secretary Amber Rudd had told her some papers would be held back for “national security”.

Rochdale abuse inquiry: What has been revealed?

Ms Nandy said: “Last month in this house, the home secretary told me that some papers would be withheld from the Cyril Smith inquiry for national security reasons.

“This week the prime minister has written to me to say we are clear that the work of the security services will not prevent information being shared with other such inquires.

She added: “So can she can confirm to the survivors of Cyril Smith who have waited for justice for decades that she was wrong and that the prime minister is right?”

Ms Rudd replied: “I am happy to confirm the prime minister is always right and I will certainly look carefully at the letter that she has received to ensure that we comply with it.”

Smith was a Liberal MP for Rochdale between 1972 and 1992.

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse has heard allegations of abuse at Cambridge House hostel and Knowl View residential school, where he was a governor.

It will publish its findings next year.

Sacha Baron Cohen offers to pay ‘Borat’ mankini fines

Sacha Baron Cohen as Borat in a mankini with thumbs upImage copyright PA

Sacha Baron Cohen has offered to pay fines for six Czech tourists who were arrested in Kazakhstan for wearing nothing but ‘Borat’ inspired mankinis.

The group had posed for photos in the capital city of Astana.

On 14 November, local media reported the tourists had been fined 22,500 Tenge ($67; £51) each for their “indecent” appearance.

The notorious one-piece was made famous by the English actor’s character, Borat, a fictional Kazakh TV presenter.

“To my Czech mates who were arrested. Send me your details and proof that it was you, and I’ll pay your fine,” the comedian wrote on Facebook.

Image copyright informburo.kz
Image caption The Czech men were detained for “minor hooliganism” after posing in freezing temperatures

Borat actor offers to pay mankini fines

Baron Cohen’s 2006 comedy film Borat! Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, follows the character of Borat Sagdiyev as he travels to the US to make a documentary.

The film earned the actor a Golden Globe award but also attracted controversy.

Kazakhstan banned the film and sales of the DVD and the authorities threatened to sue him.

But in 2012, the Kazakh foreign minister publicly thanked Baron Cohen for boosting tourism in the central Asian state.

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Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Sacha Baron Cohen as Kazakh journalist Borat Sagdiyev

Mankinis could get you in trouble closer to home too.

In 2012, mankinis and other “inappropriate clothing” were banned in Newquay in a bid to reduce crime and shed the Cornish seaside town’s stag party reputation.

Social media helps Bradford nurse to boost donations for Staying Put – a charity helping those affected by domestic violence

IT was a simple appeal which attracted a significant response.

The power of Social Media in supporting and uniting people has already been demonstrated but the response to her own post still took Joanne Jones by surprise.

Working with families in her role as a community nursery nurse in her home city of Bradford, the 33-year-old was aware of the plight of those who had experienced domestic violence.

Being conscious of the parents who have to up-root their children swiftly to escape to a better life and often not having such simple basic necessities as a toothbrush to hand brought home the reality of the situation to Joanne.

Determined to help, her initial reaction was to help the Bradford-based charity she was already familiar with through her work.

Since it was launched 15 years ago Staying Put has supported more than 50,000 people to change their lives and it is thanks to people such as Joanne, and its many more supporters, that it continues to help many more.

“A lot of our clients have used the service at some point,” says Joanne, referring to the families she sees through her role as a community nursery nurse.

“There was one particular case, we had a lady who had to flee very quickly and left with nothing.”

Through this Joanne learned more about the emergency packs Staying Put provide which include toiletries and goodies to help people feel comfortable and supported during their time of need.

“I thought ‘there is something I can do about this’ – I decided to crack on with it,” she says.

The mother-of-two, from Queensbury, discussed it with some of the mums at the Mum and Baby group she is involved with.

“Everybody thought it was a good idea,” says Joanne.

So she decided to put out a small appeal through social media to garner support – and was overwhelmed by the response.

Conscious the city was already well-supported with food banks, Joanne turned her attentions to the practical help she knew could benefit families greatly.

Shortly afterwards Joanne began collecting donations – some were delivered to her home where she now has boxes of supplies including simple things we often take for granted such as toothbrushes; shampoo and sanitary wear.

She has since ordered some canvas shopping bags which she intends filling with the supplies and taking to the charity to distribute to those in need.

Alongside running the appeal, Joanne also decided to boost funds for the charity to help buy some additional essential items to put in the bags.

She enjoys running but working full-time and looking after her daughters, Eliza, who is two and a half and sixyear-old Gracie, doesn’t give her much time.

Nevertheless, Joanne decided to participate in the recent Bradford 10K run to help swell the funds for Staying Put – and it turned out to be a real family affair with her daughter, Gracie, and husband Neil also taking part!

Joanne says her daughter, Gracie, loves running. “She is a little whippet,” she says.

So far Jo has raised more than £300, topping her target and supporting more domestic abuse survivors in the process.

Says Jo: “I have been overwhelmed by the support I have had in making up the overnight emergency packs, not only by the people that have donated via the JustGiving page, but also by the donations of products and the interest in the idea behind the packs.

“Staying Put is vital to the safety and wellbeing of many people. Could you imagine having to leave everything you have known as well as being petrified for your safety or even your life, potentially doing this with children in tow? This to me is an unbearable thought but all too real for some people.

“Now imagine all this and then having nothing with you for the night or even a few days – no way of having a shower or a wash. Our emergency packs will hopefully bridge that little gap and may help someone for the evening and the next few days ahead.”

They say charity begins at home and every year Jo has also run coffee mornings in her own home to raise funds to support homeless charities.

“I think of it being an easy thing to do. If I can do a little bit if it helps somebody else that has to be a good thing.”

Yasmin Khan, director of Staying Put, said: “We’re very grateful to Jo and all the people who have supported her. This is a brilliant idea and will help many survivors of domestic violence who often leave with nothing. It’s lovely that Jo has been so inspired by our work that she wants to give something back to the charity.”

To donate money to Jo’s fundraising campaign, go to https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/j-jones

Budget 2017: Railcard extended for people aged up to 30

Rail ticket machinesImage copyright PA

Railcards offering discounted train travel are to be extended to people up to 30 years old.

Chancellor Philip Hammond is set to announce the extension in Wednesday’s Budget after a successful trial that convinced the Treasury the move would be revenue neutral.

Currently, the young persons’ railcard is for the 16-25 age bracket, but a new 26-30 card will be introduced.

The so-called millennials’ card will be available from about Spring 2018.

A trial of the 26-30 year-olds card took place in East Anglia and will now be rolled-out nationally.

It will cost about £30 and travellers will get up to one third off ticket fares, although there will be restrictions on peak-time travel.

Railcards were introduced as a way for train companies to help fill seats during off-peak times. The card for 16 to 25-year-olds has existed in one form or another since 1974.

Image copyright Getty Images

Jacqueline Starr, managing director of customer experience at the Rail Delivery Group, the trade body for train companies and Network Rail, said: “It’s good news that government has chosen to build on the trial of a 26-30 railcard by Greater Anglia on behalf of the wider industry.

“A key commitment in our long-term plan to change and improve is to boost communities by enabling more people to travel by train and that’s why we developed this proposal.”

‘Tinkering’

The Treasury said the move would help keep the cost of living down for more young people.

However, Andy McDonald, Labour’s Shadow Transport Secretary said: “Any move that reduces the cost of travel is welcome but the Tories are tinkering around the edges of a broken system.

“Our railway should be run by and for passengers, not private shareholders and foreign governments.”

Also on Wednesday, the chancellor is expected to announce a review, led by an independent chair, into airline insolvency arrangements.

If follows the recent collapse of Monarch, which left 110,000 passengers without a return flight home. It cost UK taxpayers about £60m to bring people back to Britain.

The Treasury said Monarch’s failure highlighted the uneven nature of consumer protection when an airline folds.

The review will consider how insolvency arrangements can be reformed to protect passengers and ensure value for the taxpayer.

The review will produce an interim report by summer 2018, with a final report by the end of 2018.

Lincolnshire Police defends Guy Martin tank decision

Guy MartinImage copyright Channel 4
Image caption Daredevil Guy Martin wanted to drive the replica WW1 tank he built through Lincoln, the birthplace of the tank, on Remembrance Day

The decision not to let Guy Martin drive a 30-tonne tank through Lincoln on Remembrance Day has been defended by police.

The TV daredevil wanted to drive the WW1 replica through the city, which is the birthplace of the tank, on 11 November.

But during a Channel 4 documentary, he said the stunt was pulled because Lincolnshire Police “aren’t happy”.

The force said it did not refuse but had suggested extra safety work.

In Sunday’s programme, Guy Martin’s WWI Tank, the presenter said there were “a few problems“.

He said: “Lincoln is the home of the tank. The plan was get her up and running and drive her up Lincoln High Street for Remembrance Day.

“That’s gone a bit pear-shaped. The police aren’t happy with what we are doing.”

Image copyright Richard Pullen
Image caption Fosters of Lincoln produced as many tanks as possible while still making agricultural machinery

Several people then criticised the police on social media, with one calling the decision a “terrible shame”.

But Ch Supt Mark Housley said the force was “thrilled” when it heard the tank would come to the city but “several issues were raised”.

“The Remembrance Day parade attracts a few thousand people in Lincoln, with a demographic that includes both young and senior citizens,” he said.

“[But] the addition of Guy Martin and his tank would expand that number considerably and, therefore, action needed to be taken by the production company to ensure the safety of all participants.

“The event was not refused but further work was suggested to ensure safety.”

The footage was eventually shot in France.