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Windrush: Home Office ‘to scrap immigration removals targets’

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Media captionAmber Rudd rejects calls to quit over Windrush scandal

The Home Office is to axe immigration removal targets – a day after Home Secretary Amber Rudd said they did not exist, the BBC understands.

Ms Rudd told MPs investigating the Windrush scandal on Wednesday targets were not set for immigration officials.

But after fresh evidence emerged overnight she was forced on Thursday to admit to MPs that “local” targets for “internal” use had been set.

The Home Office is now scrapping them, the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg understands.

The instruction to axe the targets is likely to be sent out from Immigration and Enforcement, a division of the Home Office, in the coming days.

However, the government’s overall target of reducing net migration to under 100,000 a year will stay in place, the BBC’s political editor said.

The home secretary faced fresh calls to quit following her admission that the targets did exist and, according to union officials, are prominently displayed on posters at regional immigration centres.

In a separate development on Thursday, she appeared to cast doubt on the government’s policy of not being in a customs union with the EU after Brexit – although she later said she “should have been clearer” that “we will be leaving the customs union”.

Ms Rudd said she had not been aware of the immigration removal targets but Labour’s shadow home secretary Diane Abbott said she was “trying to blame officials” and the “direction will have come from the centre”.

Ms Abbott said she did not see how Ms Rudd could survive in her job “unless she is only there as a human shield for Theresa May”.

Asked how the targets had impacted on Windrush migrants, Ms Abbott said: “Immigration officials may have been looking for soft targets in the shape of West Indian pensioners who don’t have hot shot lawyers.”

Her Labour frontbench colleague, Dawn Butler, told the BBC’s Daily Politics Mrs May was “presiding over a government that has policies that are institutionally racist”.

Rudd breaks with May’s approach

By Laura Kuenssberg, BBC political editor

What is remarkable is how the Home Office suddenly ditched the targets.

They were introduced under Labour and tightened up under the Tories to try to cut the numbers of people living in the UK without the legal right to do so.

Ministers believed then, and still now, that the public demand for tighter rules must be heeded.

It is remarkable then that, in less than 24 hours, the home secretary seemed to suddenly ditch that whole approach.

In the commotion, she has made a significant break with Theresa May’s approach.

Read more from Laura

The SNP’s home affairs spokeswoman Alison Thewlis also called for Ms Rudd’s resignation, saying she was presiding over a department “out of control” and it was “no surprise” targets existed as there was “a litany of callous incompetence” at the Home Office.

Conservative backbenchers, including Sir Nicholas Soames and Philip Davies, rallied behind Ms Rudd, with Mr Davies saying most members of the public backed tougher action against illegal immigration and accused Labour and the SNP of being “out of touch with working class communities”.

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Media captionAppearing before a select committee, Home Secretary Amber Rudd denies there are targets

Answering an urgent question in the Commons earlier on Thursday, Ms Rudd said: “I have never agreed that there should be specific removal targets and I would never support a policy that puts targets ahead of people.

“The immigration arm of the Home Office has been using local targets for internal performance management.

“These were not published targets against which performance was assessed, but if they were used inappropriately then I am clear that this will have to change.

“I have asked officials to provide me with a full picture of performance measurement tools which are used at all levels, and will update the House and the Home Affairs select committee as soon as possible.”

An inspection report from December 2015, seen by the BBC, showed targets for the voluntary departures of people regarded as having no right to stay in the UK existed at that time.

Image copyright Crown copyright
Image caption A 2015 report from the Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration details an annual target of 12,000 voluntary departures for 2015/16

The Windrush row erupted after it emerged relatives of migrants from Commonwealth Caribbean countries who settled in the UK from the late 1940s to the 1970s had been declared illegal immigrants if they could not provide a range of documentation that proved they had lived in the UK continuously.

Some of the Windrush generation have been threatened with deportation, lost their jobs or been refused access to medical treatment.

Cancer patient Albert Thompson, the man who has been the focus of much of the Windrush row, has now been given a date to start his treatment on the NHS and granted indefinite leave to remain in the UK.

It comes after he was told last year he would have to pay £54,000 unless he could produce the right documentation.

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Media captionAlbert Thompson: “I was denied NHS cancer treatment”

Addressing the Home Affairs Select Committee on Wednesday, Ms Rudd said she had asked for more removals of illegal immigrants to take place, but added: “We don’t have targets for removals.”

Lucy Moreton, general secretary of the Immigration Service Union, had told the MPs a national target, broken down regionally, had been set to remove people in the UK illegally, and staff were under “increasing pressure” to meet it.

There are three types of enforceable departures: deportations, administrative removals, and voluntary departures.

The term “voluntary” describes the method of departure rather than the choice of whether or not to depart, the Migration Observatory explains. Those leaving in this way are able to approach the Home Office for financial assistance with their travel arrangements.

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Media captionWho are the Windrush generation?

The Green Party has echoed calls for Ms Rudd to quit, saying that her confirmation of the existence of targets had “confirmed our worst fears about the Home Office”.

“You can’t set targets for people you want to kick out without deciding that some people won’t get a fair hearing, because there’s a quota to meet by the end of the year,” said co-leader Jonathan Bartley.

Lib Dem leader Sir Vince Cable has raised concerns about the Home Office’s ability to process applications from millions of EU nationals who want to stay in the UK after Brexit if it cannot deal properly with the Windrush generation.

The government has set up a task force to help those affected by the Windrush cases formalise their status.

So far 3,800 calls have been made to the helpline, of which 1,364 were potentially Windrush cases, MPs were told on Wednesday.


Have you been affected by the issues raised in this story? Email us at [email protected].

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Plastic recycling: Your questions answered

Plastic bottles on a beach. Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption UK consumers use around 13 billion plastic drinks bottles a year but more than three billion are not recycled

Firms responsible for a significant proportion of supermarket plastic packaging have signed a deal to reduce plastic pollution by 2025.

More than 40 companies, including Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola and Asda, have signed up with the government, trade associations and campaigners to form the UK Plastics Pact.

The Pact says it’s a once-in-a lifetime opportunity to rethink the way we use plastic and its impact on the environment.

Recently, the government said it was considering banning plastic straws and cotton buds and this came hot on the heels of a proposal to make consumers pay a deposit on drinks bottles and cans.

The increased motivation to curb plastic waste and boost recycling comes after the Blue Planet II series highlighted the threat of ocean pollution and showed footage of wildlife eating plastic.

But as plastic continues to dominate our shopping aisles for now, we asked you to send in any questions you had about these latest proposals and plastic recycling.

How is so much plastic getting into our oceans in the first place?

BBC Environment correspondent Matt McGrath answers Kathryn Baker’s question

The main way that plastic gets into the seas is via the world’s major rivers. Research suggests that 95% of plastic is transported in this way. Eight of these rivers are found in Asia.

The majority of the plastic in the oceans comes from China but other countries including Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam are also major polluters.

However, consumer behaviour in developed countries including the UK, Europe and the US is also a major factor in pushing plastic into the world’s waters. According to figures, US citizens produce around 120kg (264lbs) of plastic waste per person every year. The UK produces around 76kg (167lbs) of waste while in Sweden, it’s around 18kg (40lbs).

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption A ban on plastic straws in England will form part of a consultation later in the year

Why is the government focusing on plastic straws and cotton buds?

BBC Environment correspondent Matt McGrath answers Mark Bolt’s question

A major step to expand the reduction of plastics beyond bud, straws and stirrers has been announced in the UK Plastics Pact.

Apart from packaging, two of the biggest plastic problems are straws and ear buds. These are among the most widely used items that turn up on beaches around the UK.

Plastic cotton buds are often flushed down toilets and are small enough to pass through water filter systems and end up being eaten by fish and other marine creatures.

The scale of UK plastic straw use is staggering with a figure of eight-and-a-half billion thrown away each year. The government is consulting on these steps with a possible ban to be introduced next year.

Campaigners say that these proposals by government are not enough, and many other products need to be phased out too including plastic film – the UK uses more than a million tonnes a year, most of which can’t be recycled.

Attempts to cut down on the use of plastic coffee cups in the UK by the introduction of a so-called “latte levy” fizzled out earlier this year. The government rejected the idea of a 25p charge on disposable cups, despite the considerable success of a 5p plastic bag charge introduced in England in 2015.

What’s the rest of the world doing?

BBC Environment correspondent Matt McGrath answers @DaveStock18’s question

Last December, 193 countries committed to a UN plan to stop plastic waste entering the oceans. However, the commitment is not legally binding and doesn’t have a timetable. And different countries have adopted different schemes.

Around 40 have banned single-use plastic bags, with charges or outright prohibitions in place in China, Rwanda and many others including Bangladesh.

Others including the UK are moving to ban plastic straws and cotton buds. Zero plastic waste shops are opening in many towns and cities while plastic-free aisles in stores was part of the 25-year plan for nature in the UK put forward by Prime Minister Theresa May.

Image copyright Getty Images

Why does it take so long to put bans into place?

BBC Environment correspondent Matt McGrath answers David Carr’s question

Any substantial action on an environmental problem like plastic pollution requires a number of key steps that take time.

It needs a solid scientific base to determine the scale of the problem such as the landmark study in 2015 that showed the world the true scale of the plastic problem with around eight million tonnes entering the oceans every year.

More importantly it also needs an informed and motivated public willing to change habits to deal with the problem. In that regard, the global impact of Blue Planet II can’t be underestimated.

Many governments including the UK, have moved relatively swiftly to consult on ways of curbing plastic use.

Large global corporations have also indicated their willingness to reduce plastic over the past five years, but that tide has become a flood in the last year.

Where will I return plastic bottles to reclaim the deposit? Will I have another recycling bin?

Marianne

You will not need another recycling bin as the scheme will not operate through kerbside collections.

In order to reclaim a deposit, customers will need to take their empty bottles to a collection point, which are likely to be located in shops and other public spaces.

Some countries which already operate a similar deposit system have installed “reverse vending machines” to automate the process of reclaiming a deposit.

Many of these machines are able to sort, crush and store used bottles.

So-called “reverse-vending” has operated since 1984 in Sweden, where more than 90% of household waste is recycled.

Image copyright Getty Images

Would you be financially rewarded for collecting bottles to be recycled?

Anonymous

Yes, if people have discarded deposit bottles or cans without claiming the deposit, they are fair game for anyone to pick up.

You will not need to prove you purchased the bottle in order to claim the deposit.

In the times when there was a deposit on glass bottles in the UK, children often used to scoop up waste bottles to make a bit of pocket money.

In some US states, the sight of hard-up “can men” or “can women” gathering cans and claiming the deposit is commonplace.

Some pensioners in the German city of Berlin have taken to collecting plastic bottles to supplement their incomes.

Arguably a high deposit fee would have the effect of maximising recycling, but also maximising the worth of discarded cans.

While it is not yet known how high the deposit is expected to be in England, costs elsewhere range from 22p in Germany and 8p in Sweden.

Why is the scheme only being introduced in England?

Jane

The scheme is only being introduced in England because waste policy is a devolved issue.

For example, Wales was the first of the Nations to introduce a charge for plastic bags in shops in 2011.

Northern Ireland followed suit in 2013, followed by Scotland in October 2014, and England in 2015.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced a similar deposit return scheme for Scotland in September 2017.

How will this affect local authorities that contract recycling to waste companies?

Mark

The government is looking to devise a scheme that doesn’t undermine local authority collections. But it’s a tricky issue and, ultimately, the effects are uncertain at this stage.

There has been some disruption to the recycling system since China resolved at the start of the year to ban imports of waste for recycling.

Image copyright Getty Images

Why are some plastics able to be recycled while others are not?

Joseph

There are more than 50 different types of plastics, making it more difficult to sort and reprocess than other materials.

Nearly all types of plastics can be recycled, but the extent to which they are depends on factors such as whether the technology is available in the area you live.

Many recycling collections in the UK have focused on key packaging types, for example plastic bottles, which are heavier than most other plastics and therefore relatively easy to sort.

Often packaging can consist of more than one polymer type, which makes it more difficult to recycle.

Problematic plastics include black plastic food trays, which are used by many supermarkets.

They are generally not collected as sorting machines are not able to detect them – the carbon black makes them invisible.

If they are collected, they are likely to be rejected at the sorting plant although companies are looking at new technology to get around this problem.

Some companies now use yoghurt pots made out of polyethylene terephthalate – the same material that is used for plastic bottles, making them easily recyclable.

But other yoghurt pots are made from polystyrene, which is not usually accepted in recycling schemes.

Margarine tubs are often made from a wide range of polymers, which require technology not readily available in the UK – meaning it is often shipped abroad for recycling.

Some district and borough councils collect plastic bags and film with their recycling, but they are not easy to sort mechanically meaning they are very costly to process.

Why can plastic trays be recycled in, say, Sheffield or Isle of Wight, but not in my home city of Manchester?

Paul Mostyn

Many local authorities now allow residents to put plastic trays in their kerbside collection but recycling is managed locally, rather than by central government.

What each council decides to recycle depends on the resources available.

In Greater Manchester, the only plastic recycled is plastic bottles because they don’t have the technology available to sort between different types.

A bottle and a food tray, for example, can’t be recycled together as they melt at different temperatures.

Recycle for Greater Manchester, part of England’s largest Waste Disposal Authority, says it focuses on plastic bottles as they are in demand by manufacturers that make new products, whereas there is low demand for plastics like yoghurt pots, margarine tubs and plastic trays.

However, other areas, such as Surrey, are happy to take those items for recycling.

According to the UK Household Plastics Collection Survey 2017, by Recoup – a UK organisation which recycles plastics, 76% of (298) local authorities in the UK collect plastic pots, tubs and trays.

Only five local authorities out of 391 do not offer a collection service for plastic bottles, while 19% (75) collect plastic film and 9% (34) collect non-packaging plastics.

To find out what you can recycle where you live, click here.

Image copyright Getty Images

Can ALL of the plastic milk bottle be recycled – including the (harder) plastic screw cap?

L. Hudson

Plastic bottles are the most commonly collected packaging type because they are easy to sort and can easily be recycled in the UK, where a far higher amount is used than in most countries because it is used as a milk container.

Until recently, people were advised to remove lids from their plastic bottles because they were a different colour and could contaminate the bottle stream.

However, many processors are now able to separate the lids from the bottles themselves.

Check your local area.

What about empty toothpaste tubes? Millions of those will be thrown away every year, but am I correct in thinking they cannot be recycled?

Peter Hickman

Yes, squeezable toothpaste tubes are difficult to recycle and it is unusual for councils to collect them as part of their collections schemes.

This also applies to other squeezable tubes that contain products, like moisturising creams.

However, the pump action toothpaste tubes are made from a different type of plastic and are easier to recycle.

When recycled plastic has to be melted down and reformed to make it into new, doesn’t this produce gases?

Ben

Even when plastics can be recycled, some people worry that doing so is even worse for the environment. Recycling paper and glass requires much less energy, so this is a concern more relevant to plastics.

According to Prof Thomas Kinnaman, of Bucknell University in the US, recycling plastic uses roughly double the energy, labour and machinery necessary to put it in landfill.

And all recycling has some environmental costs, including more trucks on the road.

As modern incinerators produce less and less pollution, they could in theory become a more efficient option in the future.

Governments are still encouraging recycling to reduce our need to extract ever more raw material from the environment.

Moreover, leaving plastics in landfills can lead to greenhouses gases being released as they begin to break down.

What can households do to reduce plastic waste?

Karen Lee

The environmental pressure group Greenpeace sets out nine ways for people to reduce the amount of plastic they throw away.

Their tips include: avoid packaged vegetables, carry a reusable cup and getting your milk delivered in glass bottles rather than buying plastics ones.

Other tips include using Tupperware boxes instead of Clingfilm to keep food fresh and avoiding coffee capsules which cannot be recycled.

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Royal wedding: Best man William says revenge will be ‘sweet’

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Media caption“Revenge is sweet”: William on being Harry’s best man

Prince William says revenge will be sweet when he becomes Prince Harry’s best man next month.

Prince Harry, who is marrying Meghan Markle in Windsor on 19 May, was the best man when the Duke of Cambridge married Kate Middleton in 2011.

Prince Harry also joked with reporters stating that he had got down on one knee to ask his brother, who said he was “thrilled” to be asked.

Prince William said he was “working on” a name for his three-day old son.

Prince William and Catherine’s third child, who was born on Monday weighing 8lb 7oz, is fifth in line to the throne.

Before his brother’s wedding in 2011, Prince Harry said his best man’s speech would “dig (Prince William) in the ribs a few times and embarrass him” and “make him lose some hair”.

In an interview with Rio Ferdinand in January, Prince William joked that his brother had not yet asked him to be the best man and “it could be a sensitive issue”.

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Media captionPrince Harry joked about being Prince William’s best man in 2011

More than 600 guests have been invited to the wedding ceremony at St George’s Chapel with 1,000 members of the public being welcomed to the grounds of Windsor Castle.

A further 200 guests – including the Spice Girls – have been invited to the couple’s evening reception.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Prince Harry will marry Meghan Markle on 19 May in Windsor

In a statement, Kensington Palace said: “The Duke of Cambridge is honoured to have been asked, and is very much looking forward to supporting his brother.”

The palace also tweeted a picture of the pair of Princes when they were boys wearing police helmets.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Kensington Palace shared a picture of the two princes as boys

Earlier this week, the palace announced the list of musicians who will be playing at the wedding.

They include a gospel choir and 19-year-old cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason, who won the 2016 BBC’s Young Musician.

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Media captionHopefully Prince William will have had a chance to catch up on his sleep following the birth of his third child by the wedding in May

The May wedding will be the second time within a month to see Ms Markle as a bride.

The actor’s exit from the series Suits was shown on TV on Wednesday with her character getting married.

Image copyright PA Wire
Image caption Prince William is returning the favour after his younger brother was best man at his wedding in 2011
Image copyright PA
Image caption Prince William helped send his three-year-old brother off to Kindergarten in 1987
Image copyright Martin Keene/PA Wire
Image caption The brothers toured the Canadian frigate HMCS Ottawa together in 1991
Image copyright Martin Keene/PA Wire
Image caption That same year they visited the Royal Yacht Britannia
Image copyright Barry Batchelor/PA Wire
Image caption In 2002 the two princes were rivals in a bicycle polo match
Image copyright Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
Image caption They were pictured together again in 2002 at the royal box for the second concert to commemorate the Golden Jubilee of the Queen
Image copyright Andrew Parsons/PA Wire
Image caption They spent their Christmas in 2003 at Sandringham
Image copyright Andrew Parsons/PA Wire
Image caption In 2005 they attended the marriage of Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles
Image copyright Anthony Devlin/PA Wire
Image caption In 2010 they both got up close and personal with a rock python during a visit to Botswana

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Alfie Evans: Dad wants to build Alder Hey hospital relationship

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Media captionThe family of terminally-ill toddler Alfie Evans wants to work with Alder Hey Children’s Hospital

The father of seriously ill toddler Alfie Evans says he wants to “build his relationship” with the hospital he has been locked in a legal battle with.

Tom Evans, who has been fighting to take his 23-month-old son out of Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, said he now wanted to be “left alone” to do so.

The 21-year-old praised staff where Alfie is being treated for their professionalism and “dignity”.

He also thanked supporters Alfie’s Army but asked them “to go home”.

The boy’s parents have lost every legal challenge to a High Court ruling in February allowing the hospital to switch off the toddler’s ventilator.

His life support was withdrawn on Monday.

In a statement on behalf of himself and Alfie’s mother, Kate James, Mr Evans said: “Our lives have been turned upside down by the intense focus on Alfie and his situation.

“Our little family along with Alder Hey has become the centre of attention for many people around the world and it has meant we have not been able to live our lives as we would like.

“We are very grateful and we appreciate all the support we have received from around the world, including from our Italian and Polish supporters, who have dedicated their time and support to our incredible fight.

“We would now ask you to return back to your everyday lives and allow myself, Kate and Alder Hey to form a relationship, build a bridge and walk across it.”

He said: “Together we recognise the strains recent events have put upon us all and we now wish for privacy for everyone concerned.

“In Alfie’s interests we will work with his treatment team on a plan that provides our boy with the dignity and comfort he needs.”

He added there would be no more statements issued or interviews given.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Tom Evans and Kate James had hoped Alfie could be taken to the Bambino Gesu Hospital in Rome

On Wednesday, bosses at the Liverpool hospital defended staff who they said had endured a “barrage” of abuse.

Merseyside Police is investigating claims patients and staff were intimidated.

Chairman of the hospital trust Sir David Henshaw said in an open letter that staff had been the subject of “unprecedented personal abuse that has been hard to bear”.

Vatican-linked hospital

The latest attempt to allow Alfie to be transported to the Vatican-linked Bambino Gesu Hospital in Rome was rejected by the Court of Appeal on Wednesday.

Mr Evans’ barrister Paul Diamond said if the court had ruled in the family’s favour then Alfie would have been taken to Italy straight after the hearing.

Mr Diamond told the court a military air ambulance was on standby “at the request of the Pope”.

On Monday, the Italian government granted Alfie citizenship in the hope he would be given an “immediate transfer”.

But hours later, his ventilator was switched off and the order preventing him from travelling abroad was put in place.

Alfie, who has a rare undiagnosed degenerative neurological condition, has been in Alder Hey since December 2016.

Alder Hey Hospital has been unavailable for comment.

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Wembley: Shahid Khan deal with FA could be completed in eight weeks

Shahid Khan bought NFL franchise Jacksonville Jaguars in 2011

Fulham owner Shahid Khan says he hopes a deal to buy Wembley Stadium from the Football Association will be completed in eight to 12 weeks.

Khan, who also owns NFL side Jacksonville Jaguars, has made an offer thought to be worth £900m.

It is understood he would pay £600m for the stadium and the FA will continue to run the £300m-valued Club Wembley hospitality business.

“This offer makes a lot of sense for us,” he told BBC Sport.

“When I say us, I’m talking about the Jaguars, NFL, Wembley, and I think it also makes a lot of sense for the FA and the English football team.

“I’m pretty confident – that’s why we’re putting our name, our reputation on the line to get it done.”

Khan, who has owned Championship side Fulham since 2013, said England games would remain at Wembley and he would retain the stadium’s name.

BBC Sport understands selling Wembley would allow the FA to make a major investment into football at grassroots level.

Pakistan-born Khan has a current net worth of $7.2bn (£5.2bn) and is the 217th richest person in the world, according to the 2018 Forbes rich list.

He said he understands fans’ concerns over his offer for the 90,000-seat stadium, which is the largest in the United Kingdom.

“I think they have to understand the value and the attraction for myself,” Khan added.

“We’ll leave the tradition and the stadium itself. Even though this is a new stadium, it does need upgrades.

“It means a lot to me because the first English stadium I went to was Wembley, and obviously it’s iconic and historic and it means a lot to me.

“Under this arrangement the FA retains the right, the revenue, and that is really the most positive part of Wembley for the FA. So they will be retaining it and obviously we want it to be there.”

The 67-year-old added that the deal would make lead to “more meaningful discussions” over a permanent NFL franchise in London. Wembley has been hosting NFL games each autumn since 2007.

Additionally, Premier League club Tottenham Hotspur have a deal with the NFL to stage a minimum of two games a season over 10 years once they have moved into their new stadium later this year.

“Until now, NFL doesn’t have a stadium solution or have a home,” Khan said. “And it can’t work with a Premier League club, because of the schedule. It does work very well with Wembley, so I think it makes it closer.”

According to the FA’s latest financial results, it still owes £113m to public bodies such as Sport England, the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, plus the London Development Agency, which helped pay to build the stadium, which cost £757m and opened in 2007.

In January, the FA said it would finish paying for the ground by the end of 2024.

In a statement, Sport England said it had invested £120m of National Lottery money into the development of Wembley and it looked forward to “hearing more detail about how such a deal would work and whether it would benefit grassroots sport”.

‘It could be a positive move’ – reaction to Khan offer

Prime Minister Theresa May’s spokesman: “This process is at an early stage and it’s ultimately a decision for the FA. But Wembley is the historic home of English football and holds a very special place in the hearts of fans up and down the country and I’m sure the FA will want to strongly consider the views of these supporters before deciding what to do next.”

Labour Shadow Sports Minister Dr Rosena Allin-Khan: “The FA should not rush into any deal to sell and any deal must guarantee that England continue to play at Wembley as well as around the country; that major tournaments, cup finals and play-offs for multiple sports are still held at Wembley; and that ticket prices for England games are frozen for 10 years. The FA needs to guarantee that profits of the sale will be put into grassroots football to ensure that future generations will benefit.”

Hodgson would be ‘disappointed’ if England stopped playing at Wembley

Crystal Palace boss and former England manager and Roy Hodgson: “I am a massive supporter of Wembley as the national stadium and England playing there but I also have great faith in the FA that they won’t be making decisions lightly. If they think that is a good deal, a deal that will bring in money that they can spend in a better way, then I would be behind that.”

Former England captain and BBC Sport presenter Gary Lineker on Twitter: “If the money goes towards grassroots football, most importantly on pitches, artificial and otherwise, for youngsters to play then it could be a positive move.”

Swansea manager Carlos Carvalhal, who guided Sheffield Wednesday to the 2016 Championship play-off final: “I think they are monuments and we can’t sell them in my opinion. If you sell Wembley you can sell Big Ben and Buckingham Palace? We can’t sell monuments, it is culture, and you can’t sell culture.”

Chairman of Matchroom Sports and former Leyton Orient owner Barry Hearn: “Unless there’s a very good reason why it shouldn’t be sold, frankly the laws of commerce take over. It’s he who has most will win. I would be saddened but I would be realistic enough to say it’s life in the current system.”

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Spain ‘wolf pack’ gang jailed for San Fermin sex attack

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Media captionThe verdict was met with anger by some as protests erupted outside court

A Spanish court has jailed five men for sexually abusing a young woman during the famous San Fermin bull-running festival but acquitted them of rape.

All five were sentenced to nine years in prison for their part in the attack, which they filmed, during the festival in Pamplona in July 2016.

The 18-year-old victim’s ordeal caused a national outcry, and protests continued outside the court.

Both the woman and the defendants say they will appeal against the verdict.

“It’s rape, not abuse,” demonstrators said outside the court. Rallies have been called in Madrid, Barcelona, Seville, Alicante and more than a dozen other cities across Spain against the verdict and in support of the victim.

The five, in their late 20s and originally from Seville, and the victim, from Madrid, were not present when the judgement was read out after a five-month trial, which was held behind closed doors to protect the woman’s identity.

  • ‘Wolf pack’ gang rape trial angers Spain

Under Spanish law, the charge of sexual abuse differs from rape in that it does not involve violence or intimidation.

But senior politicians and human rights groups questioned whether a prolonged sexual assault involving intercourse by five men could be anything but intimidation or rape.

The men, who have been in custody since 2016, have also been ordered to pay the woman €50,000 ($61,000; £43,500) in compensation.

Prosecutors had asked for sentences of more than 20 years.

However, one judge had argued that the men should have been acquitted of all charges except stealing the victim’s phone.

What was the case against them?

Videos of the late-night encounter between the men and the young woman showed how the five men had wandered the streets among other drunken revellers before two of them led her into a basement by the hand.

According to a police report, the men – who belonged to a WhatsApp group called La manada (wolf pack) – surrounded the woman in a small alcove, removed her clothes and had unprotected sex.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption A picture of the accused is seen on screen in the courtroom

Some of them filmed the sexual act on their phones – there were seven videos, totalling 96 seconds. One of the men posted messages in a WhatsApp group celebrating what they had done and promising to share the recording.

According to the police report, the victim maintained a “passive or neutral” attitude throughout the scene, keeping her eyes closed at all times. Her phone was then stolen.

She was found in a reportedly distraught state by a couple in the street outside the scene of the attack. She told the trial she was still having psychological treatment to deal with trauma.

Some of the men were found to be in a video in which they apparently abused another woman, who seemed to be unconscious.

Spain’s #MeToo moment

By James Badcock, Madrid

The “wolf pack” case has been Spain’s #MeToo over the past two years, with thousands of supporters of the victim uniting under the slogan Yo te creo (I believe you).

The shocking nature of the group abuse, the youth of the victim and the obnoxious celebratory messages about their “conquest” on their WhatsApp chat combined to make the case fertile fodder for black-and-white public opinion.

That the two majority verdict judges have chosen to see shades of grey by not interpreting the criminals’ acts as violent or intimidatory will fuel indignant criticism from feminist groups.

Several leading left-wing politicians have already questioned the verdict. The apparent certainty of an appeal hearing means the debate over whether the law protects women will continue.

Who are the men?

  • José Ángel Prenda, 28: considered the leader of the five, wrote a message in the WhatsApp group about the video showing them having sex with the woman. He had been sentenced to two years in prison in 2011 for theft with force
  • Antonio Manuel Guerrero: a Civil Guard police officer, born in 1989, is thought to have recorded six videos. He also admitted to stealing the victim’s phone
  • Ángel Boza, 26: his criminal records include theft with force and driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs
  • Alfonso Jesús Cabezuelo, 29: a military officer, is thought to have recorded one video
  • Jesús Escudero, 27: a hairdresser

What has the reaction been?

Supporters of the victim gathered outside the courthouse for the verdict, and were furious when it was read out.

Some donned red gloves in protest.

Women’s rights groups and many politicians reacted angrily, with Spain’s Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría calling on officials to analyse the verdict so that similar cases could be avoided.

UN Women programme director María Noel Vaeza said this was a “lost opportunity”, El País newspaper reports (in Spanish), urging an end to the “social impunity [in cases of] rape”.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Dozens of people gathered outside the court ahead of the verdict, some wearing red gloves in protest

Altamira Gonzalo, vice-president of Themis, a Spanish organisation of women jurists, told Efe news agency: “It should have been a courageous sentence. The courts can’t be so distant from society”.

Socialist party leader Pedro Sanchez tweeted his outrage (in Spanish): “If what the ‘wolfpack’ did wasn’t group violence against a defenceless woman, then what do we understand by rape?”

The victim’s lawyer said he was “disappointed” while lawyers for the five men said they would appeal, calling the verdict “unfair”.

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US President Donald Trump to visit the UK in July

Theresa May and Donald Trump in Davos Image copyright AFP
Image caption Theresa May and Donald Trump met in Davos earlier this year

US President Donald Trump is to visit the UK on Friday 13 July, after previously cancelling a trip amid claims he would face mass protests.

It will not be the full-blown state visit Mr Trump was promised when Prime Minister Theresa May visited the White House in January last year.

But an invitation to a state visit still stands, the BBC understands.

He will hold talks with Mrs May, Downing Street said, with further details to be “set out in due course”.

‘Unity over division’

The July date follows the Nato summit in Brussels which the president is expected to attend.

  • Donald Trump scraps UK February visit
  • Trump ‘should visit Scotland, not London’

Downing Street and the White House had hoped to co-ordinate releasing details of the trip, but Mr Trump’s spokeswoman Sarah Sanders apparently let slip the information first.

UK ambassador Sir Kim Darroch confirmed the date on Twitter, saying he was “delighted” that Mr Trump would visit the UK.

Mr Trump cancelled a planned trip to London to open the new US embassy in Vauxhall earlier this year, complaining the move to an “off location” south of the Thames had been a “bad deal”.

But critics said his decision may have been driven by a fear of protests.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson tweeted that it was “fantastic” news that Mr Trump would “at last” be visiting Britain.

His successor as mayor of London, Labour’s Sadiq Khan, who has clashed with the US president in the past over London terror attacks and Mr Trump’s proposed ban on Muslims entering the US, tweeted the president would experience a city that chose “unity over division”.

Reacting to the announcement of his July visit, Kate Allen, Amnesty International UK’s director, said: “When Donald Trump arrives on these shores, we and thousands of our supporters will very definitely be making our voices heard.”

More than 29,000 people on Facebook have already said they will attend a protest organised by left-wing journalist Owen Jones.

Macron visit

Theresa May was the first foreign leader to visit Mr Trump in the White House following his inauguration in January 2017.

She conveyed an invitation from the Queen for Mr Trump to come for a state visit – a formal occasion with much pomp and ceremony. Mr Trump accepted the invitation but a date has yet to be set, amid speculation it has been postponed indefinitely.

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Media captionDonald Trump and Theresa May held hands briefly in Washington

Plans for a working visit to the UK in 2018 were announced when Mr Trump met Mrs May at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January.

The high-profile state visit to Washington DC of French President Emmanuel Macron this week – and his apparent warm relationship with the president – has led to speculation about the state of the so-called special relationship between Britain and the US.

BBC North America editor Jon Sopel said Mrs May would have lots of business to discuss with Mr Trump, from the framework of a future trade deal to his plans for tariffs on steel and aluminium.

But he added, after Mr Macron’s visit – and with German Chancellor Angela Merkel flying in for a US visit on Thursday – the “optics” of such a visit were important and Britain would not want to get left behind.

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Brexit: Amber Rudd suggests customs union position ‘not final’

Lorries being directed at Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The prime minister has ruled out remaining in a customs union with the EU after Brexit

Home Secretary Amber Rudd has appeared to cast doubt on the government’s policy of not being in a customs union with the EU after Brexit.

She told journalists she would not be “drawn” on the issue and said there were discussions to be had about it in cabinet to agree a “final position”.

Later she tweeted that she “should have been clearer” but had not wanted to get into “ongoing cabinet discussions”.

The PM Theresa May has ruled out being in an EU customs union after Brexit.

The comments came on the day Ms Rudd faced fresh calls to resign over her handling of the Windrush scandal, which has seen relatives of people from Caribbean countries who settled in the UK decades ago being declared illegal immigrants, if they could not prove they had lived continuously in the UK.

She was forced to admit in the House of Commons that immigration removal targets had existed, a day after telling a committee of MPs that there weren’t any.

But the issue of whether or not the UK would be in a customs union after Brexit came up as she addressed a lunch for parliamentary journalists

She replied: “I’m not going to be drawn on that. We still have a few discussions to be had in a really positive, consensual and easy way among some of my cabinet colleagues in order to arrive at a final position.”

Labour’s Sir Keir Starmer said: “Amber Rudd appears to have let slip that discussions around the cabinet table about negotiating a customs union with the EU have not in fact concluded.

“If that is so, then the prime minister should rethink her approach and listen to the growing chorus of voices in Parliament and in the businesses community that believe she has got it wrong on a customs union.”

And Tory backbencher Peter Bone tweeted:

Ms Rudd later tweeted a clarification:

The prime minister is under pressure from both sides of the EU debate on the issue of the customs union, which allows for goods to be transported tariff-free between EU member states.

The Financial Times reports that Mrs May is expected to try to secure agreement on an alternative to the customs union, in a Brexit cabinet committee meeting next week.

Ministers were defeated on the issue in the House of Lords last week and the government faces key votes in the Commons next month.

On Thursday, the prime minister’s spokesman said: “The government is clear we are leaving the customs union and not joining a customs union.”

Brexiteers have criticised a suggested “customs partnership” to replace the current arrangements, while pro-EU campaigners say a customs union is the only way to prevent a hard border in Northern Ireland.

MPs debated a non-binding motion on Thursday calling on the government to include in its negotiating objectives with the EU “the establishment of an effective customs union between the two territories”.

With few pro-Brexit MPs attending the debate, the motion was approved without a vote, prompting Labour’s Chris Leslie to suggest it “was now the default consensus view of this House” and said the government should respond.

Crunch votes are expected next month when Remain-supporting MPs will push for a change of course.

What is a customs union?

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Media captionWhat is the EU customs union?

A customs union is when countries agree to apply the same taxes on imports to goods from outside the union.

This means when goods have cleared customs in one country, they can be shipped to others in the union without further tariffs being imposed.

If the UK remains part of the customs union, it would be unable to strike trade deals with countries around the world, but supporters say it would help keep an open border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

During the debate, Labour’s Yvette Cooper said the UK exported more than £230bn of goods and services to the EU every year and warned that to “rip up” existing trade arrangements would be “deeply damaging”.

She argued that existing trade deals should be “cherished” as it was becoming harder to negotiate new ones “as communities across different individual countries become more worried about both the losers and the winners of big changes to trade arrangements”.

  • UK will leave customs union, insists No 10
  • Reality Check: Why is the customs union so important?

Pro-European Conservative Ken Clarke told MPs: “You will damage the economy of this country… if you suddenly decide to erect new barriers at the border between the UK and our major trading partners.”

And former Conservative cabinet minister Nicky Morgan warned: “If we undermine and ignore the evidence for peace in Northern Ireland, and we undermine the business and financial security of the people in this country, we will not be forgiven for a generation.”

Labour MP Kate Hoey, one of the few Brexiteers at the debate, said she felt “alone” in the chamber: “There are a lot of people here today who are using the issue of the customs union to start the process again of wanting to stay in the European Union.”

She argued that if the UK stayed in the customs union, it would be a “transition” to remaining, and would not allow Britain to “take back control” of its trade.

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Your guide to Brexit jargon

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has backed a customs union, but only if the UK had a say in future EU trade deals.

Mrs May has ruled out joining a customs union but has come up with two options to avoid a hard border in Ireland.

One of them is a “customs partnership” that would involve the UK collecting the EU’s tariffs on goods coming from other countries on the EU’s behalf.

If those goods didn’t leave the UK and UK tariffs were lower, companies could then claim back the difference.

This option has been heavily criticised by some Brexiteers, with influential backbench Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg branding it “completely cretinous”.

The other option being proposed by the government would be to minimise checks rather than getting rid of them altogether, by using new technologies and putting in place a trusted trader scheme.

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Avicii’s family: He couldn’t go on any longer

Avicii Image copyright Getty Images

Avicii’s family has issued a new statement which says he “could not go on any longer”.

The body of the Swedish DJ, whose real name is Tim Bergling, was found at a hotel in Oman last week.

His family added that the 28-year-old was “an over-achieving perfectionist who travelled and worked hard at a pace that led to extreme stress”.

A spokesperson for the artist declined to confirm whether he had killed himself.

The police in Oman say they’ve ruled out “criminal suspicions”.

In the statement his family spoke about how Tim “struggled with thoughts on meaning, life, happiness”.

“Our beloved Tim was a seeker, a fragile artistic soul searching for answers to existential questions.

“He wanted to find peace.”

Avicii had always been quite open about his struggles in the limelight and announced in 2016 that he was to retire from touring.

The statement added: “When he stopped touring, he wanted to find a balance in life to be happy and be able to do what he loved most – music.”

The family had previously praised fans and fellow musicians for their support.

Thousands of fans gathered in Stockholm to remember him. After a silence, church bells performed the track Without You.

And some of his biggest hits Wake Me Up, Levels and Hey Brother are expected to enter the chart on Friday.

Other musicians and DJs have also been posting their tributes on social media.

If you’ve been affected by any of the issues in this article, you can find help at BBC Advice. For details of organisations which offer advice and support, click here. In the UK you can call for free, at any time, to hear recorded information on 0800 066 066.

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Drink-driver films journey on dashcam

Footage from a drink-driver’s own vehicle showing her driving dangerously has been released by police.

The video shows the moment Louise Willard crashes into a parked car in Bexhill, East Sussex after swerving across the road and clipping kerbs and grass verges for several miles.

The 41-year-old teacher, of Ashby Close, Bexhill, pleaded guilty at Hastings Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday to driving with excess alcohol and failing to stop after a collision.

She was disqualified from driving for 24 months, and sentenced to a 12-month community order, requiring her to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work.

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