Tag Archives: London

Britain’s most venomous spider set to invade London homes


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Britain's most venomous spider set to invade London homes

London and north Kent could be crawling with Britain’s most venomous spider in the coming months.

False widows could creep their way into homes across the capital and surrounding counties due to milder temperatures in September and October, experts have warned.

The UK population of the species, whose bite is typically as painful as a bee sting, has soared into the millions in recent years and is thought to be growing all the time.

Pest management consultant Clive Boase says conditions are ideal for a significant spike in numbers in the autumn.
He said: “We’ve had a reasonably warm year with very few cold snaps and no particularly extended periods of either dry or wet weather.

“That has led to more invertebrates, such as flies, to feed on and means false widows, as well as many other species of spiders, have been able to continue their development throughout the summer.

“Sightings of spiders often peak from September as males of many species reach adulthood and venture into homes in search of a mate, but we could be seeing a lot more of them than normal over the next month or two.”

False widows – originally from the Canary Islands – can grow up to 3cm across, including the legs, and are distinguished by their shiny, black, bulbous bodies and markings which look like a skull on their abdomens.

The false widow spider that bit Alex Michael.
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Another false widow spider

They got their name through their resemblance to the deadly black widow spider, which has a nasty bite known to have been fatal to humans but which is not likely to become established in the UK.

Rob Simpson, manager of pest controllers register BASIS PROMPT, says simple precautions can be taken to reduce the likelihood of false widows.

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Britain’s most venomous spider set to invade London homes
Mr Simpson added: “Spiders will have fewer places to hide if you keep clutter to a minimum, so I would say keep your house tidy and vacuum regularly.

“You can spray dark corners of the home with pesticides and there’s an old wives tale about placing conkers on window sills, but I’m not sure that works.”

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Migrants who can’t speak English ‘can buy language certificate for £500’, investigation finds


Migrants who can’t speak English are able to buy documents showing they have passed a vital language test, an investigation has found.
The documents, required for migrants to obtain British citizenship, are reportedly being sold by one examination centre in London for £500.

The Home Office has said it will carry out a full investigation of the findings, which could lead to criminal prosecutions for fraud.

“The Home Office takes any allegation of fraud extremely seriously and we have already begun a full investigation,” Immigration and Security minister James Brokenshire told the Daily Mail.

“We will take the strongest possible action against anyone who is found to have abused the rules – including the possibility of criminal prosecutions for fraud.”

The Daily Mail said it carried out the investigation into the examination centre at Upton Park, east London, following a tip-off from a whistleblower.

The centre, which has passed 50,000 candidates, is run by Learn Pass Succeed (LPS) which has four offices in London and describes itself a “modern, accredited institution” on its website.

Last night, Uzwan Ghani, one of the directors of LPS, said he was “shocked” by the paper’s findings.

“I’m shocked that this has happened and am very concerned as to how it could have happened,” he added.

“We are very thorough when it comes to checking IDs of candidates before they take the test, so I will have to investigate which of the centres the test was taken in and who the assessor was.

“I’ve been in the business for five years and I’ve never come across something like this and I would not allow it. It is wrong and ridiculous”.

Usain Bolt £20,000 spike stolen


The world’s fastest man, Usain Bolt, yesterday took to popular online social networking website Twitter to express his sheer disappointment regarding the theft of a prized pair of Puma track shoes in the town of Croydon in London, England, recently.

After setting a new 100 metre world record in 2009, Bolt reportedly signed the spikes which were later framed with an accompanying photograph for display. The pair of spikes was reportedly worth approximately £20,000.

According to Scotland Yard, the items were taken from a warehouse located on Gloucester Road in Croydon, London, England, between the dates of April 26-28.

Seemingly disappointed, Bolt called on the robbers to return the shoes, tweeting: “I know u love me … but please why u had to go stealing that signed Usain Bolt spikes in Croydon, England, … I know u going to return it. Right?”

Additionally, the track star tweeted: “Breaking News … All you had to do was just ask me for one … No need to go stealing the ppl things..Come on now..” with an attached photograph of a newspaper article made about the stolen pair.

Meanwhile, British officials are urging persons with information leading to the whereabouts of the missing spikes to contact them.

Third bomb is found outside Midlands mosque as counter-terrorism officers question Ukrainian students.


Bull Ring, Birmingham, England, featuring St M...
Bull Ring, Birmingham, England, featuring St Martin’s church (centre) and the silver Selfridges store. Photo taken by the West Midlands Police helicopter during routine operations. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Wolverhampton Archives
Wolverhampton Archives (Photo credit: WAVE:Galleries, Museums, Archives of Wolverhampton)
Birmingham Mail Logo
Birmingham Mail Logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
West Midlands Police
West Midlands Police (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Counter-terrorism officers have found evidence of a third bomb detonated near to a mosque in the West Midlands.
Wolverhampton Central Mosque on Dunstall Road, Wolverhampton, was evacuated last night after police received information that it may have been the target of a device activated three weeks ago.
Today, West Midlands police said they have found the ‘seat of an explosion’ and debris among trees and shrubbery in the roundabout opposite the mosque.
Early indications are that the device was detonated on June 28. It follows the arrest of two Ukranian men, aged 25 and 22, in connection with two separate bombings near mosques in Walsall and Tipton.

Tip off: Counter-terror police swooped on the area following the arrest of two Ukrainian men on suspicion of terror offences
The suspects are engineering students who have been in England on a summer placement, according to the Birmingham Mail.
No device was found inside Wolverhampton Central Mosque which has now been reopened for worshippers.
Assistant Chief Constable Marcus Beale, who is leading the investigation, said: ‘Officers searching the area have found the seat of an explosion and debris on the island near the mosque.
‘The investigation is being led by specialist officers and staff from our Counter Terrorism Unit who are being supported by a range of departments from across the force.
‘We recognise the impact news of the latest find will have on the communities of Wolverhampton and further afield. We’re working hard to complete our enquiries so that the area can be returned to normality.’
Meanwhile, the industrial unit which is the headquarters of software company Delcam continued to be a hive of activity with bomb disposal officers and members of West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit searching the premises where the two suspects were working on a university placement.
The company’s chief executive, Clive Martell, was at the scene today and confirmed comments he made, after police turned up unexpectedly at the site on Thursday.
Speaking in the Birmingham Mail yesterday, he said: ‘The two men were on work placements with us, but were not employees of the business.
‘They are studying at a foreign university and are engineering students.’
Mr Martell added that the two men were studying engineering degrees in a country in Eastern Europe.
‘One of the men has been with us for four months and the other has been with us for two months,” he said.
‘They were around halfway through the course and we understand that they met each other whilst on the placement.
‘This was completely unexpected and we are doing everything we possibly can to assist the police with their investigations.’
Officers descended on the large industrial unit at 3pm yesterday, and are expected to remain there for the rest of the day according to West Midlands Police.
Workers have been gathering outside since the morning, to collect cars and other belongings they had to leave behind when police arrived.
Local residents took to Twitter to express shock and fear at the continued targeting of mosques in the area, following the murder of British soldier Lee Rigby in May.
The soldier was stabbed to death near his Army barracks in Woolwich, south London.
A Twitter user under the name of Shez Khan said: ‘Dear me. Bomb planted INSIDE Wolverhampton Mosque! What has happened to people?!’
Another Twitter user called Salma said: ‘It’s so sad to see a mosque being under threat 😦 especially a mosque i spent my childhood in #WolverhamptonMosque’.
A person under the name of Amreet tweeted: ‘The first time I’ve heard Wolverhampton mentioned on the main news and it’s because someone has tried to bomb the Mosque, that’s so awful’.
Faizaan wrote: ‘ANOTHER device left outside a Mosque n (sic) Wolverhampton now! This is becoming ridiculous!!!!’
The two Ukranians are being questioned on suspicion of being involved in the commission, preparation or instigation of an act of terrorism following blasts near the Aisha Mosque and Islamic Centre in the Caldmore area of Walsall last month and the Tipton mosque last Friday.
Residents were evacuated after the blast, near the Kanzul Iman Masjid in Tipton, left nails and debris scattered outside.
No-one was injured but some minor damage to property was reported. The bomb exploded just an hour after the funeral of Drummer Lee Rigby.
A small component part of the suspected nail bomb was found in a garden nearby and specialist Army disposal officers were called to the scene to carry out a controlled explosion.
The blast came after more than 100 residents were evacuated from their homes in the Caldmore area of Walsall last month after an explosion near the Aisha Mosque.
No-one was hurt in that blast, which caused minimal damage to a wall near the mosque in Rutter Street on the evening of June 21.
Although residents in the area heard a loud bang at the time of the explosion, the incident was not reported to the police until the following day when parts of the small home-made device were found by a worshipper at the mosque, sparking a major operation involving Army bomb disposal experts.
A 75-year-old man had been arrested in connection with the attack, but he was subsequently released without charge.

Michael Adebolajo attacked in Belmarsh prison


English: Royal Regiment of Fusiliers performin...
English: Royal Regiment of Fusiliers performing public duties (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Michael Adebolajo, one of the two men accused of murdering soldier Lee Rigby outside Woolwich barracks, is believed to have been injured in an attack in Belmarsh prison.

The prison service said the attack occurred on Wednesday but refused to confirm reports that Adebolajo had suffered injuries to his mouth or that he had been targeted by prison officers.

A spokeswoman said: “The police are investigating an incident that took place at HMP Belmarsh on 17 July. It would be inappropriate to comment while the investigation [is] ongoing.”

The BBC reported that Adebolajo, 28, was receiving medical treatment after losing two teeth.

Adebolajo, from Romford, is accused of hacking Rigby to death near Woolwich barracks in south-east London on 22 May. Michael Adebowale, 22, from Greenwich, has been accused alongside him. The trial is scheduled to begin on 18 November.

Adebolajo faces further charges related to the attempted murder of two police officers and possession of a firearm with intent to cause others to believe that violence would be used.

Rigby, a machine gunner and ceremonial drummer in the 2nd Battalion the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, was given a military funeral last week. The prime minister, David Cameron, and mayor of London, Boris Johnson, joined thousands of mourners at the ceremony in Bury near Manchester.

Rigby’s death has sparked several clashes between rival protesters despite pleas from police and the soldier’s family for it not to be used for political gain.

Azelle Rodney ‘Unlawfully Killed’ By Police


English: Armoured Jankel Guardian riot truck i...
English: Armoured Jankel Guardian riot truck in London (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
English: London
English: London (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
MPS officers responding to an emergency call i...
MPS officers responding to an emergency call in a police car in 2005 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Independent Police Complaints Commission
Independent Police Complaints Commission (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

An inquiry into the death of a man shot dead by police eight years ago has concluded that he was unlawfully killed.
Azelle Rodney, who was 24, died after the car he was in was stopped by armed officers in London.
An official report found the police marksman who shot Mr Rodney had no reason to believe he had picked up a weapon – so there was “no lawful justification” for killing him.
The officer who fired the fatal shots could now face criminal charges after the case was referred to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).
Mr Rodney’s mother Susan Alexander said the report backed her view that her son was “executed” and demanded an apology from Scotland Yard.
Former High Court judge Sir Christopher Holland released his findings following the public inquiry into the shooting in Edgware, north London in 2005.
The VW Golf in which the victim was travelling with two other men was stopped by officers who feared the trio were on their way to stage an armed heist on Colombian drug dealers and had an automatic weapon capable of firing 1,000 rounds per minute.
Mr Rodney was shot six times, once each in the arm and back and four times in the head.
Sir Christopher’s critical conclusions raise the possibility of the officer, known only as E7, facing criminal charges for the shooting.
He found that even if the armed officer believed Mr Rodney had picked up a weapon, it was disproportionate to fire the four fatal head shots.
E7 told the inquiry that he had seen Mr Rodney start moving around, reaching down and then coming back up with his shoulders hunched.
But Sir Christopher’s report dismissed this account, which was also contradicted by eyewitnesses.
It said: “E7’s accounts of what he saw are not to be accepted. Prior to firing he did not believe that the man who turned out to be Azelle Rodney had picked up a gun and was about to use it.
“Further, on the basis of what he was able to see, he could not rationally have believed that.”
The officer has written to the inquiry to claim that the findings against him are ” irrational”.
Three guns were found in the Golf – a Colt .45 calibre pistol, a Baikal pistol and a smaller gun that looked like a key fob.
The Colt was not loaded, the Baikal was loaded but was not cocked and the safety catch was on, and the key fob gun was loaded, cocked and the safety catch was off.
During the 11-week public inquiry it emerged that E7 had previously shot two men dead during an incident in the 1980s, and injured another two.
Inquests into the men’s deaths later found that they had been lawfully killed, and the officer received a commendation from the-then Metropolitan Police Commissioner for his conduct.
The two injured men were later tried and jailed.
Sir Christopher found that Operation Tayport, which led to Mr Rodney’s death, was not run in a way that would minimise the threat to life.
He also concluded that the “hard stop” on the Golf “fell short of the standards set by the MPS”.
Drivers were not supposed to deliberately ram the suspect car but two of the police cars did.
The firearms officers were also supposed to be wearing police caps, but the two that could be seen in a video of the shooting were not.
Two officers also fired rounds into the tyres of the Golf after it had been rammed and hemmed in by unmarked police cars.
Sir Christopher has recommended that Scotland Yard now nominates a senior officer to carry out a review of the operation.
Speaking after the report was published, Mr Rodney’s mother Susan Alexander said: “I do not seek to justify what Azelle was doing on the day he died, but he was entitled to be apprehended and, if there was evidence, to be charged and brought before a court of law to face trial before a jury.
“The fact that he was strongly suspected in being involved in crime does not justify him or anyone else being summarily killed.”
She said she did not want any further delays in investigating what happened to her son, and asked for apologies from the police and watchdog the Independent Police Complaints Commission.
Met Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe said: “I have read the findings carefully and want to express my personal sympathy to Mr Rodney’s family.
“The MPS deeply regrets his death, and I recognise how distressing the inquiry must have been for them.”
He said the force accepts recommendations made by Sir Christopher about how officers are debriefed after firearms operations.
The CPS said in a statement: “Following the publication of the report into Mr Rodney’s death, the IPCC has written to the Director of Public Prosecutions to ask that we review the case in light of new evidence provided to the Public Inquiry.
“This review will be completed as soon as practicable, in close liaison with the IPCC and in accordance with the Attorney General’s undertaking to the inquiry.”

Leaks like Snowden’s put lives at risk


Great Seal Bug from NSA archives
Great Seal Bug from NSA archives (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The seal of the U.S. National Security Agency....
The seal of the U.S. National Security Agency. The first use was in September 1966, replacing an older seal which was used briefly. For more information, see here and here. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
STU-III secure telephones on display at the Na...
STU-III secure telephones on display at the National Cryptologic Museum in 2005. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Leaks of sensitive intelligence like those of fugitive U.S. analyst Edward Snowden put lives and national security at risk, potentially jeopardising vital work to protect the public, Britain’s security minister said on Wednesday.
Revelations by Snowden, a former contractor with the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA), published in Britain’s Guardian newspaper last month, led to claims that British spies have been circumventing the law and have stirred concern among London’s European allies.
In its reports, the Guardian said Britain’s eavesdropping agency GCHQ had tapped fibre-optic cables carrying international phone and Internet traffic and had shared vast amounts of personal data with the NSA under a project codenamed “Tempora”.
GCHQ also accessed data about Britons obtained by the NSA under its secret PRISM programme, the paper said.
“Disclosure of highly sensitive information can be damaging. It can certainly undermine our security, certainly it can put lives at risk,” Security Minister James Brokenshire told Reuters at a security conference in London.
“It provides a partial view and it can undermine the very security and actions our intelligence and other agencies are engaged in to keep us all safe,” he said, adding that he would not comment specifically on the leaks.
Snowden, 30, is believed to be still stranded in the transit area of a Moscow airport, where he has been trying since June 23 to find a country that will offer him refuge from prosecution in the United States on espionage charges.
Britain’s most senior counter-terrorism official Charles Farr echoed Brokenshire’s comments about national security.
“Ministers have said this damages our capabilities. Given that a significant part of what GCHQ does is about terrorism, you can draw your conclusions,” he said at the same conference.
The Guardian’s reports have angered some of Britain’s European Union partners, especially Germany, whose Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger has said it would be a “catastrophe” if the “Tempora” claims proved true.
Asked if the disclosures would damage intelligence sharing in the future, Brokenshire said countries recognised they had to work together to combat threats. “I have every confidence that will continue to be the case,” he said.
“SNOOPERS’ CHARTER”
Brokenshire said balancing civil liberties and national security while allowing the spies to carry out vital covert work put the government in a “quandary”, but he repeated assurances that the intelligence agencies worked within the law.
“This isn’t about trying to read everybody’s emails, trying to spy and pry into everyone’s day to day activities,” he said.
“We must always be focused on ensuring our agencies are able to conduct their activities at times in secret because the threats that we face are prepared in secret,” he added.
Brokenshire is leading the Conservative-led coalition government‘s attempts to beef up the powers of police and spy agencies to access details of people’s Internet use in what critics have denounced as a “snoopers’ charter”.
Law enforcement agencies say the measures are vital to fighting serious crime and terrorism, but the Liberal Democrats, junior partner in the coalition, are opposed, and lawmakers from all parties have said it would be too intrusive.
“There is a recognition a solution needs to be found,” said Brokenshire, adding that the plans would need the confidence of parliament and the public. “We will take as long as it takes to get this right.”
The issue of security has come back into sharp focus in Britain after the murder of soldier Lee Rigby in southeast London in what authorities said was the first terrorist attack in Britain since the London suicide bombings of July 2005.
Rigby’s killing also led to calls for a clampdown on militant Islamist preachers such as Anjem Choudary and for the withdrawal of their state welfare benefits. A number of Choudary’s followers have been convicted of terrorism offences.
Brokenshire said a task force was considering a range of measures, including withdrawing benefits from those like Choudary who newspapers say receives 25,000 pounds ($37,900) a year from the state.
“I think it’s right we continue to … look at what can be done about extremist preachers and certainly benefits, … so we make sure those who seek to perpetrate a spiteful, vile message are challenged effectively and robustly,” Brokenshire said.
“I can’t confirm that proposals will be forthcoming, but clearly we look at a whole range of issues.”