Snow ends warmest October for 7 years

Heavy snow fell in the highest parts of the UK yesterday to bring a chilly close to what had been the warmest October for seven years.

Plummeting temperatures led to snowfalls in Scotland, northern England and Wales, with flurries as far south as the Midlands.

One meteorologist said the country was experiencing “some of the coldest October days in a decade” after the sunshine and unseasonably high temperatures earlier in the week.

The cold snap saw residents of Co Durham, Cumbria and North Yorkshire waking up to freezing temperatures, their cars covered in snow.

Met Office forecaster John West described conditions in the northeast of England as “mostly sleety wet snow” but there were some heavy falls on higher ground. About 1cm was recorded at Aviemore, the Scottish ski resort.

Staffordshire, Cheshire and West Yorkshire saw a dusting and snow showers were reported on Snowdon, the highest mountain in Wales, along with a sprinkling on the Preseli mountains. Even in London temperatures fell to 5C.

“With temperatures struggling to reach double figures across the country these are some of the coldest October days in a decade, much colder than average,” West said.

He predicted that it would remain cold but the snow would peter out tomorrow before a rise in temperatures at the end of this week. High pressure was building, he said, which would lead to a more settled picture.

THE SUNDAY TIMES: 28 October 2018


Michael Parkinson: ‘Connolly didn’t know who I was’

Billy Connolly’s “wonderful brain is dulled” as he battles a degenerative neurological disease, according to his long-standing friend, Michael Parkinson.

The former chat-show host said the pair shared an “awkward” dinner where he was unsure if the comedian recognised him.

Connolly, 75, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2013 after minor surgery for early-stage prostate cancer.

In an interview yesterday with the television chef James Martin, Parkinson, 83, said: “The sadness of Billy now is that wonderful brain is dulled.

“I saw him recently — he’s now living in America — and it was very sad, because I was presenting him with a prize at an award ceremony.

“We had an awkward dinner together, because I wasn’t quite sure if he knew who I was or not.

“We were walking out after the presentation to go down and have our picture taken and he turned to me and put his hand on my shoulders.

“He said to me: ‘How long have we known each other?’ I thought: ‘Oh God, he doesn’t really know me.’ ”

Glasgow-born Connolly was a regular guest on Parkinson’s chat show, which ran from 1971 to 2007.

Connolly received a knighthood last year from Prince William.



Elderly man seriously injured after being stabbed at Manchester mosque

An 80-year-old man suffered serious injuries after being stabbed at a mosque in Manchester yesterday afternoon.

The incident, inside the Zakariya Masjid and Madrassah mosque, is believed to have involved two worshippers. A man in his 20s has been arrested on suspicion of causing grievous bodily harm and remains in custody.

Chief Inspector Faz Zaman of the Greater Manchester Police’s City of Manchester Division said: “People will understandably be concerned that an elderly man has been stabbed in a place of worship, but we believe this is an isolated incident.”

He added that officers were “in the very early stages of our investigation”, but said that the attack, in Whalley Range, was not being treated as a hate crime.



Leeds traffic collision: Firefighter ‘found injured daughter’ in fatal car crash

A firefighter who rushed to a car crash that killed four young men early yesterday morning is said to have found his daughter badly injured in the same vehicle.

All the men — named locally as Declan Grove, 19, Matty Walshaw, 18, Brandon Frew, 18, and Caelan Megson, 21 — were pronounced dead at the scene on the outskirts of Leeds after their car crashed into an Uber taxi.

Police say early investigations suggest the car the men were in, a five-seat Seat Leon carrying six passengers, was speeding. Two girls, aged 16 and 17, who police say were travelling with the men, were taken to hospital with serious injuries.

Last night the 16-year-old remained in a critical condition but the 17-year-old’s injuries are not considered life-threatening. Police would not confirm reports that the father of one of the girls was a firefighter called to the scene of the accident.

The Uber driver, a 42-year-old from Bradford whose car was travelling in the opposite direction, was also taken to hospital with serious injuries.

Steph Callaghan, 31, who lives opposite the scene of the crash, told MailOnline: “[It] was so bad you could not make out how many cars were involved. It was just a mess of metal.

“I saw a young female crawl out of the wreckage. The taxi driver looked surprisingly all right.”

About 20 minutes after the crash, Callaghan said she saw a woman at the scene, screaming: “Where is she, where is she?”

Sergeant Fiona Hoodless, of West Yorkshire police, said: “Early indications are that the Leon was travelling at speed at the time of the collision.”

The police want to speak to anyone who saw the silver Seat Leon being driven in the area before the collision, which happened at 2.41am, particularly anyone with dashcam footage that could assist the investigation.

THE SUNDAY TIMES: 1 july 2018


Stricken Mo Salah ‘may miss World Cup’

Egypt fans are praying their talismanic forward can recover from a shoulder injury suffered in the Champions League final

Egypt’s World Cup hopes were thrown into disarray last night when their star footballer Mohamed Salah injured his shoulder in the Champions League final — and walked off in tears.

It is believed Salah may have sprained his shoulder ligaments in Liverpool’s 3-1 loss to Real Madrid. The distraught 25-year-old wiped his tears away with his red shirt before heading straight down the tunnel following a tangle in the 26th minute with the Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos.

After the match in Kiev, the Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp confirmed it was serious enough for Salah perhaps to miss the World Cup, which starts in Russia on June 14.

Klopp said: “It is something with the shoulder and he would’ve played on if he could. It doesn’t look good.” He added that Salah had been taken to hospital for x-rays.

Crowds in Cairo who had gathered to watch the match covered their faces when it was clear the striker was seriously hurt. They looked on with disbelief as Salah went to receive medical treatment.

The phrases “We are all Liverpool” and “Ramos the dog” were soon trending on social media in Egypt.

It is the first time in 28 years that Egypt has qualified for the World Cup. Hopes of progressing in the tournament are pinned on Salah, who was the Premier League’s top scorer this season.

Salah has been dubbed the “greatest player in greatest player in Egypt’s history” by the football journalist Marwan Ahmed.

Last night he told the BBC World Service: “We’re just too close for all of our dreams to be shattered. He’s the only player who can make a difference in the Egyptian national team and all Egyptians will be praying in this holy month for his safe return.”

A tweet from the Egyptian football federation said Salah had sprained his shoulder ligaments but the federation remained optimistic that he would be able to play in Russia.



Sounds of the 60s presenter Brian Matthew dies at 88

The former Radio 2 DJ Brian Matthew, the voice of Sounds of the 60s, died yesterday at the age of 88.

The veteran broadcaster, known for his distinctive voice, once described by a reviewer as being “as comforting as a toasty cardigan”, joined the BBC in 1954.

Born in Coventry, he had begun his career working for the British Forces Network while doing national service in Germany in 1946.

He interviewed the Beatles in the early 1960s — his voice can be heard on their album Live at the BBC — and went on to win numerous awards, presenting shows such as Saturday Club, Thank Your Lucky Stars and Late Night Extra.

But it was Sounds of the 60s and the arts show Round Midnight that cemented his reputation as a broadcaster.

He closed his farewell show on February 25 this year with Last Night was Made for Love. As the track played out, Matthew said: “That 1962 top five hit by Billy Fury brings me to the end of my reign as presenter of Sounds of the 60s and I must say I’ve enjoyed every minute of my 27 years in this chair.”

Last night Tony Hall, the director-general of the BBC — which had mistakenly announced Matthew’s death last week — described him as a “true broadcasting great”.

He added: “Brian Matthew was an outstanding broadcaster who entertained and engaged millions over generations.”

The sunday times: 9 April 2017


student's body found in river

Police searching for a missing 19-year-old student found a body in the Avon in Bath yesterday.

Henry Burke was last seen leaving the Zero Zero nightclub at midnight on Thursday. The stretch of water where his body was discovered has claimed the lives of around 11 people since 2009, about half of them under the age of 25.

Police said Burke’s family, from Milton Keynes, had been told of the discovery. There was no indication of foul play.

Burke, a geography student at Bath Spa University, was reportedly last seen being ejected from the nightclub after trying to break up a fight.

His girlfriend, Em Comley, who was in Bristol on Thursday evening, said he had texted her throughout the evening but the messages had stopped just after midnight.

“The last message I got from him was 12.04. I was getting more and more frantic,” she said.

Police were alerted the following day when Burke, a second-year student, did not come home or turn up for work as a tour guide at Bath Abbey.

Burke had been out in Bath with the people he had lived with in the student halls of residence the year before.

A spokesman for Avon and Somerset police said: “At this stage, the death is being treated as unexplained. Our inquiries are continuing.”

Burke’s family, including his younger brothers aged 11 and 17, joined the emergency services in the search for him. Comley, a sales adviser for clothing retailer River Island, and Burke’s housemates also took part in the hunt.

The latest death has led to renewed calls for improved safety measures along the river.


The sunday times: 27 november 2016


UK-trained navy man joins ISis

A man who trained in Britain to become a naval officer has allegedly joined Isis, sparking fears that his knowledge of shipping could be used by the terrorist organisation to attack merchant vessels and passenger ferries.

Ali Alosaimi, 28, enrolled at the marine school at South Tyneside College on a three-year Merchant Navy officer course in 2011, funded by the Kuwaiti government. Part of his course in nautical science involved on-ship training.

Admiral Lord West, a former Royal Navy chief, said Alosaimi’s radicalisation and level of knowledge could create a new terrorist front: “Someone with his knowledge opens up a whole new area where terrorism can take place.”

He added: “I think the most danger is posed by Isis acquiring a liquid natural gas container. These are highly flammable and could cause a very large explosion. Britain and the US have been worried about this for some time.”

It is believed that Alosaimi became radicalised when his 19-year-old brother, Abdullah, was killed while fighting in Syria. A former flatmate of Alosaimi from South Shields added that he would watch videos on the internet of Bashar al-Assad’s troops killing rebels before he travelled there in 2014.

His name appeared on the Isis “general department of borders”, as one of 40 application forms submitted to Isis and seen by The Mail on Sunday. Alosaimi’s family say they have received an encrypted message from him confirming that he was in Syria with Isis.


THE SUNDAY TIMES: 8 may 2016



Violent protest hits Eurostar terminus

PROTESTERS clashed with police at St Pancras station in central London last night as about 150 people tried to storm the Eurostar terminus in an effort to highlight the plight of refugees.

Smoke bombs were thrown at officers as hooded protesters, clad in black with masked faces, breached police barriers outside the entrance to the train station.

The anarchist group No Borders, which campaigns for the free movement of people throughout Europe, had begun targeting the Eurostar terminal in the late afternoon.

Demonstrators carried banners saying: "The people want to bring down the borders", and "We don't cross borders, borders cross us". They also held banners calling for the closure of detention centres holding migrants, above.

Police officers brandishing metal truncheons eventually forced protesters back from the metal barriers and away from the station.

Scotland Yard said the demonstrators had tried to enter the Eurostar platforms at around 6pm but were stopped by British Transport Police. A spokesman said: "Some protestors began to throw items at police, including smoke bombs.

"These protesters were ejected from the station and later dispersed from the area." No arrests were made.

The sunday times: 25 October 2015



Eight feared dead as cargo ship sinks

HOPES were fading last night for the crew of a cargo ship found capsized off the northeast coast of Scotland. The upturned hull of Cemfjord was discovered at 2.30pm yesterday by a passing ferry in the Pentland Firth.

A search operation of four lifeboats and two helicopters looking for any survivors from the eight-strong crew of the stricken Cypriot vessel went on into the night. It was called off at about 9pm, to be resumed at first light.

The NorthLink passenger ship Hrossey took part in the early stages of the operation before the arrival of the coastguard.

The last contact with the 30-year-old cargo ship, which was carrying cement to Runcorn in Cheshire, had been at 1pm on Friday, five miles from John o' Groats, when it sent an automated signal to the Shetland coastguard.

It had left Aalborg in Denmark on Tuesday.

Rescuers had only a few hours of daylight yesterday to conduct a thorough search as darkness fell at 4pm.

Bill Farquhar from RNLI Thurso said he feared that the vessel might have been caught up in a storm.

"The weather at that time was pretty bad. There was no mayday [distress signal] as such," he said.

"It is very, very strange, especially with all the weather technology that we have nowadays." He added: "Whatever happened, it happened very rapidly.

"They [the rescue team] are searching more or less for wreckage and what they can find. Now that darkness is down, it's very difficult to see on the surface of the water.

"At the moment they're just searching and searching until the coastguard decides they are going to stand down.

"The tides are that strong around the area where it happened that they could be anywhere at this time."

The Pentland Firth, a busy shipping lane, separates the Orkney Islands from Caithness in the north of Scotland. It is known for its strong tidal currents, which can reach a speed of up to 11mph.


THE SUNDAY TIMES: 4 january 2015


Patients face longer wait for ambulances

THE National Health Service is considering doubling the amount of time ambulances can take to reach critically ill patients.

Currently emergency vehicles must reach 75% of people with "serious but not the most life-threatening conditions" within eight minutes.

But leaked NHS England documents contain proposals to extend the time within which emergency vehicles are required to reach people suffering from conditions such as stroke and seizures, classed as Red 2 Standard calls, to 19 minutes.

Every year there are about 3m Red 2 Standard calls, which also include call-outs to many car crashes.

The only higher category, Red 1, is for "immediately life-threatening conditions", when ambulances must reach critically injured and sick patients within eight minutes in 95% of cases. There are no plans to change that.

A memo drawn up by the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives, handed to the Mail on Sunday by a whistleblower, suggests the changes may have been approved by NHS England.

Last night a spokeswoman confirmed changes to call-out times are being considered as ambulance services come under increasing pressure to meet targets, but she insisted "no decisions have been made" and that it is one of a number of options.

It is thought that any changes would not come into force until after the general election.

The document also reveals that NHS England has already agreed to give ambulance crews three minutes before the "clock starts" on target times, rather than one minute as they do now. This change could be brought in as early as next month. The proposal means ambulances would then have a total of 11 minutes to reach a Red 2 patient before breaching the government target.

Professor Sir Roger Boyle, a former NHS heart tsar who helped to halve the number of deaths from heart attacks, said he believed the move would put lives at risk. He told the Mail on Sunday: "The way to deal with the crisis is not to take longer to deal with calls."

The Department of Health said ambulance services had requested the review of response time targets. They had also asked NHS England to look into ways of improving their handling of critical calls. Relaxing the response times would make it easier for ambulance services to meet its targets.

Eight of England's 10 regional ambulance services are at a "severe pressure" level, at which they declare they will have to divert noneemergency vehicles to reach emergency cases to increase frontline staff . The other two — London and Yorkshire — are judged to be under even greater pressure, which is at a "critical" level.

Professor Keith Willett, a trauma surgeon and head of acute care for NHS England, said no decisions would be made until next year.

"Any operational changes to ensure ambulances reach the sickest patients even quicker would need to be proposed by the senior doctors running ambulance services and agreed by the NHS nationally," he added.

NHS England said: "No decisions have been made. It is something that is being considered but we are considering lots of things."

Last night Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, took to Twitter to deny any plans to double ambulance times.

THE SUNDAY TIMES: 21 december 2014