UK news

Sir Victor Blank takes government panel role

By Jessica Elgot, February 2, 2010

The former chairman of Lloyds, Sir Victor Blank, will take an unpaid role as a government adviser on overseas investment.

Sir Victor, who left Lloyds after its disastrous takeover of HBOS, will sit on the new Investment Advisory Panel, created by Business Secretary Lord Mandelson for government department UK Trade and Investment.

The panel, which includes Dragon’s Den judge James Caan, is believed to have met for the first time this week.

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Brown meets Palestinian leader Abbas

By Jessica Elgot, January 29, 2010

Gordon Brown has met Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at Downing Street to discuss the peace process in the Middle East.

The two met for an hour in Downing Street where their discussion included the Arab Peace Initiative and the Palestinian economy.

A spokesman for Number 10 said: "They focused their discussions on the need to renew efforts towards a lasting peace agreement.

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Web racists have jail sentence cuts

By Robyn Rosen, January 29, 2010

Two men who were jailed for inciting racial hatred on a foreign website have had their sentences cut.

Simon Sheppard, 52, of Selby, North Yorkshire was sentenced to four years and 10 months, and Stephen Whittle, 43, Preston, Lancashire to two years and four months at Leeds Crown Court in July.

They appealed against the conviction and lost.

Today, the three appeal judges reduced Sheppard's sentence by one year and Whittle's by six months.

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Tony Blair: Middle East was my priority

By Jessica Elgot, January 29, 2010

Tony Blair has told the Iraq war inquiry that the Middle East process had been his priority for dealing with Islamic extremism, and that he was “frustrated” that the US had not done more.

Mr Blair said he kept pushing the Israel-Palestine issue: “You could describe me as a broken record through this period.”

But he stressed that he did not trade peace in the Middle East for the war in Iraq. He said: “It would not have been right to make [the Middle East] a pre-condition.

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Human Rights Watch seeks to prove Middle East 'balance'

By Simon Rocker, January 28, 2010

A top official from Human Rights Watch met Jewish representatives in London this week in an effort to persuade them that the organisation is not biased against Israel.

The New York-based human rights organisation — which condemned both Israel and Hamas over their conduct of last year’s Gaza war — has faced a barrage of criticism from Jewish groups over the year, with even its own founder, Robert Bernstein, recently accusing it of undue focus on Israel.

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Family 'heartbroken' as Israel refuses aliyah

By Simon Rocker, January 28, 2010

A black Jewish family from South London who have been trying to make aliyah for more than two years have had their application rejected by Israel’s Interior Ministry.

Carl and Maleka Levy, who converted from Rastafarianism through the Reform movement six years ago, had planned to go out to Israel with their five daughters in August 2007.

But despite testimonials from British rabbis and intervention by Israeli lawyers on their behalf, they were notified last week that they would not be allowed to emigrate under the Law of Return.

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Latin teacher accused of assault on pupils

By Nick Cullen, January 28, 2010

A Latin master at a top London public school subjected three pupils to a sustained campaign of sexual abuse, a court has heard.

Michael Gordon, 55, a member of Pinner and Northwood Liberal Synagogue, regularly stroked the youngsters and pressed himself up against them, it is claimed.

The boys, who were all aged between 10 and 13 at the time, said the abuse made them feel “shivery” and “horrible”, Southwark Crown Court heard.

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British Muslim TV head arrested for 'terrorism'

January 28, 2010

The head of Britain’s main Muslim television channel, Mohamed Ali Harrath, who is wanted by Interpol for alleged terrorism offences, was arrested by South African police this week.

Harrath, 46, faced deportation to Tunisia, which has an extradition treaty with Pretoria, but was released after two days because of doubts about the validity of the arrest warrant.

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Businessman 'shot burglar alarm to stop ringing'

By Marcus Dysch, January 28, 2010

A businessman is being investigated by police after a shotgun was fired at a neighbour’s burglar alarm late at night.

Peter Shalson, 52, was questioned following an incident at the property next to his detached home in St John’s Wood, north west London, earlier this month.

A butler at the neighbour’s house claimed CCTV footage had caught an intruder climbing a cast-iron fence, smashing a glass door and then shooting the alarm’s control box to stop it ringing.

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James Cordon dives in pool at simcha

By Robyn Rosen, January 28, 2010

A comedian has made waves at an engagement party organised by two high-profile Jewish families after he jumped into the pool at a five-star hotel.

Ben Winston, son of Professor Lord Robert Winston, and Meredith Tillman, daughter of fashion retailer Harold Tillman, the chairman of the British Fashion Council (BFC) and owner of Jaeger, celebrated their engagement at the Haymarket Hotel in London last Saturday.

During the bash, catered by top kosher caterer Tony Page, Gavin and Stacey star James Corden caused a splash by jumping into the swimming pool.

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