131997T. Dilfer25382263322/122733 112006A. Smith22448293517/18776 TRANSLATED PASSINGAPPROX. VALUE —2015T. Bridgewater23405275711/1222— 51971D. Shaw24417276816/22119 202006J. Losman25434309820/15146 32008J. Flacco23430292615/151177 11978D. Whitehurst23403274113/131011 41973A. Manning24407277015/122568 The names on Bridgewater’s comp sheet illustrate the myriad directions in which a young quarterback’s career can drift, even after two solid NFL seasons. Troy Aikman and John Elway became Hall of Famers, and Tom Brady will join them in Canton someday. Joe Flacco, Archie Manning and Neil Lomax all flashed greatness at various times in their careers but didn’t maintain that level of play throughout. Trent Dilfer and Alex Smith salvaged the lost promise of their youth to become semi-successful journeymen, and Tim Couch and J.P. Losman were outright busts. The book on Cam Newton’s career is far from written.For a quarterback-rich franchise such as the Colts or Packers, the above list probably wouldn’t inspire a lot of enthusiasm about Bridgewater. For the Vikings, though, it represents a huge change from their recent fortunes. One way we can measure that is by looking at the Approximate Value (AV) that Bridgewater’s comps produced over the remainders of their careers. After weighting by their similarity to Bridgewater and making a slight adjustment for the fact that Bridgewater had more career AV through the season of comparison than his comps did,2How much a player outperforms his comps’ rest-of-career AV depends on the amount by which he outperformed them through the season of comparison. If a player has the same career AV as his comps did at the same age, he’ll be expected to have roughly the same AV going forward, as well. But if he had 50 percent more AV at the same age, we’d expect him to outproduce his comps by about 20 percent going forward; 50 percent less, and we’d expect him to produce about 13 percent less AV in the future., Bridgewater’s comps were good for about 46 AV in their remaining careers. Ever since the last premerger starting QB retired in 1981, the average NFL starter has consistently hovered around 40 points of future expected AV, so Bridgewater’s potential was better than the norm going into this season. And that was a big deal for the Vikings, who hadn’t featured a QB with such potential since Daunte Culpepper posted a brilliant season in 2004 (before falling apart the next season). Sources: Football Outsiders, Pro-Football-Reference.com 82000S. King23422278519/14162 162001T. Brady24410287419/1212211 21990T. Aikman24429275511/199113 92001T. Couch24451307318/212012 RANKYEARQUARTERBACKAGEATTYDSTD/INTTHRU YEARAFTER YEAR 102013R. Griffin23417282914/14285 172004B. Leftwich24447290514/111818 182013C. Newton24433298420/155132 71982N. Lomax2337525359/91567 Whatever momentum the Minnesota Vikings were riding after last year’s surprise division title has vanished with Tuesday’s devastating injury to starting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater’s knee. Although he was fortunate the damage wasn’t even worse, the ACL injury will cause Bridgewater to miss the entire 2016 season.It’s not that Bridgewater was great last season; he was below average in passing-efficiency metrics such as adjusted net yards per attempt and Football Outsiders’ defense-adjusted value over average. But he was decent, and more important, still young. Bridgewater turned 23 last November, and that combination of youth and competence typically sets a quarterback up for at least a solid career, with room to develop into something greater. Long-term potential is something the Vikings have sorely lacked from their passers in recent years.One way of measuring a young quarterback’s promise is to find historical passers who produced similar statistics at the same age, and track how those players’ careers ended up panning out. To that end, I gathered seasonal data on every player to throw a pass in the NFL or AFL during the Super Bowl era (since 1966), and translated it to a common standard: a 16-game season with the NFL’s typical passing environment since offensive rules were liberalized in 1978.1Without this step, the NFL’s increased focus on passing would make cross-era comparisons impossible. I then plugged those numbers into Football Outsiders’ similarity score formula for quarterbacks, returning a list of the 20 most similar QBs for any given passer’s season.For Bridgewater, that list looked like this last season: 121995T. Dilfer2338726144/19753 192014T. Bridgewater22373256512/15913 61972D. Shaw25386260519/17182 Most similar passing seasons to Teddy Bridgewater’s 2015 season 152008T. Edwards25376265812/12135 141984J. Elway24385262517/1314189 Aside from the brief blip of Christian Ponder in 2012 — who gleaned 43 expected future AV out of an eclectic comp list that included Kordell Stewart (maybe the algorithm matched them because neither knew how to throw a football?) and Troy Aikman, plus Dilfer and Dave Brown — Culpepper was the last Viking passer with above-average potential before Bridgewater came along. And those three joined Randall Cunningham (right after his amazing 1998 resurgence) and Brad Johnson (from his first year at the team’s helm, in 1996) to create the only moments a Minnesota QB flashed superior potential in the last 28 years. The division-rival Packers have had a starter crack 40 AV of potential in a league-best 19 of the 23 seasons since the NFL’s free-agency era began in 1993; Minnesota’s topped average less than half as often.And with Shaun Hill now leading the Vikings’ depth chart, that trend is unlikely to improve. (Hill’s rest-of-career projection after last season: 1.9 AV.) Bridgewater hadn’t yet joined the elite ranks of NFL signal-callers, but he offered Minnesota the next-best thing: real potential. It was a rarity for the franchise, and a promise that will now have to remain on hold for another season.
The Oscar Pistorius murder investigation in South Africa, which has the attention of much of the world, has quickly degenerated into amateur hour. And you thought the Los Angeles prosecutors and police were incompetent during the O.J. Simpson trial of 1995?As bizarre as some of the twists in the Simpson murder trial of his ex-wife Nicole Brown and her friend Ron Goldman, already the Pistorius case has been jumbled. Most recently comes word that Hilton Botha — the lead investigator in the case of the Valentine’s Day shooting of Reeva Steenkamp — has a May court trial on seven counts of attempted murder. Yes, the detective is not only still on the job despite serious charges against him, but he is the lead investigator in the most publicized case in South Africa in recent memory.Police Brig. Neville Malila said Thursday that Botha and two other police officers fired shots while trying to stop a minivan in October 2011. The charges were initially dropped, but police said they learned Wednesday that the charges had been reinstated.“The (Pistorius) prosecutors were not aware of those charges (against Botha),” Medupe Simasiku, of the National Prosecution Agency, said. “We are calling up the information so we can get the details of the case. From there we can take action and see if we remove him from the investigation or if he stays.”That was Wednesday. Thursday Botha was, indeed, dismissed from the case and replaced by Lt. Gen. Vinesh Moonoo, who will “gather a team of highly skilled and experience detectives,” according to officials. Moonoo is called South Africa’s “top detective.” But he will have to overcome some damage Botha and others left behind.A checklist of police blunders helped the case against Pistorius unravel. Botha testified that authorities had no evidence to challenge the double-amputee Olympian’s claim he killed his girlfriend accidentally by shooting through the bathroom door because he thought a burglar was in his home in Pretoria, the South African capital.Prosecutors were seen rubbing their temples while looking down at their notes in dismay as Botha said he misjudged distances of a witness who said he heard shouting coming from the Pistorius house. Botha acknowledged that a forensics team left in the toilet bowl one of the bullet slugs fired at Steenkamp. Police also allowed a Pistorius friend to take evidence out of the home: bullets that the accused had for the murder weapon.It likely will be difficult to convict Pistorius, a national hero as it is. The police’s ineptitude so far has made it more difficult.To wit: Botha said the witness who heard “nonstop talking, like shouting” in the early-morning hours was in a house more than 650 yards away from the murder scene, a distance equal to four city blocks, making it nearly impossible for someone to hear from that distance.But when prosecutor Gerrie Nel questioned Botha, the veteran detective said the distance was much closer. Botha also said police found syringes and steroids in Pistorius’ bedroom. Nel cut off the officer and said the drugs actually were testosterone. Yes, much of the police investigation and testimony have been bungled, which may create doubt in the minds of the potential jurors.
Where will the players drafted by the NFL over the past few days do the bulk of their professional work? If trends in the past two decades continue, the answer is with the team that drafted them.For the piece I wrote last week on comparing consecutive years of the NFL draft, I downloaded year-by-year draft data from Pro-Football-Reference. The site includes, for each player in each year, his weighted career Approximate Value, a modified form of the site’s Approximate Value metric. It also includes the amount of the player’s weighted career value accrued for the team that drafted him.For each draft from 1970 to 2013, I summed the career value accrued for drafting teams by the first 222 players selected — 222, because that’s the lowest number of draft picks during the period, in 1994. Then I divided that by the overall career value of the year’s drafted players.From the AFL-NFL merger in 1970 to 1981, drafting teams’ share of value kept climbing, to a high of 88 percent in 1981. Then the share started to fall, precipitously as the effects of free agency in 1993 started to kick in in players’ later years. Teams’ share of their drafted players’ career value was just 56 percent for those picked in the first offseason of free agency.At the dawn of free agency, some analysts feared this trend would continue unabated. “Say goodbye to dynasties and continuity,” Alan Greenberg wrote in the Hartford Courant 20 years ago this month. “Now everyone’s a raider. If the salary cap won’t let you pay ’em, you’ll lose ’em. If they’re no good, dump ’em and steal somebody else’s guys. What uniforms should players wear on their trading cards? How about blank?”And some have perceived that the trend has continued unabated. “Fans are increasingly rooting for the decals on their team’s helmets and against the decals on the other teams’ helmets,” Elliot Harrison wrote on NFL.com last year. “The truest loyalty in the player-fan relationship is of the fantasy football variety. You can thank free agency for that.”But the reality has been different. Right after that nadir in 1993, teams’ share of their drafted players’ career value rose sharply, to 64 percent the next year and 69 percent in 1995. It remained in the high 60s nearly every year afterward. The results are similar when looking at all of a draft’s picks, not just its first 222.The downside to this approach is it can’t be updated all the way to the present. Drafted players are more likely to play for their drafting team in their first seasons in the league, before becoming eligible for free agency. So while teams’ share climbed to 86 percent in 2009 and 98 percent last year, those percentages are sure to fall.To approximate the trend in recent years, I isolated the analysis only to players who were no longer active last season. And among that group, teams kept getting a higher share of their drafted players’ value — above 70 percent every year until 2005, when retired players’ share of drafts’ value starts getting so low that the results aren’t meaningful. Here’s one piece of anecdotal evidence: Many of the most valuable players drafted since then remain with their drafting team, such as Aaron Rodgers, Frank Gore, Jahri Evans, Haloti Ngata, Patrick Willis and Adrian Peterson.What this all means is up for further analysis and debate. Maybe teams have gotten better at identifying their drafted talent before rookie contracts are up. Maybe they’ve come to value continuity in their rosters, for on-field benefits and for fan support. Perhaps players value continuity for the same reasons. Maybe the 2011 collective-bargaining agreement has changed things for some of the more-recent draft classes.Whatever the explanation, it’s clear that free agency has had a far bigger impact on players’ freedom to change teams than it has on the uniforms shown on trading cards.
Love them or hate them, the Los Angeles Lakers long represented the closest thing the NBA had to a proverbial land of milk and honey. For the better part of three decades, the club often had a surplus of star players, a robust record, and the occasional championship trophy.Then they were hit with what equates to a biblical drought for their fans: a five-season stretch without a playoff berth.But on Sunday night, the sky opened up and watered the thirsting Laker franchise, as LeBron James, the world’s best basketball player, chose to join the Los Angeles club as a free agent, agreeing to a four-year, $154 million deal, according to Klutch Sports, the sports management agency that represents James.James’s choice will change the NBA landscape for obvious reasons. LeBron reached eight straight NBA Finals in the Eastern Conference, and his departure from his hometown Cleveland club almost certainly figures to put the Cavaliers back in the cellar, while also giving other teams in the badly diminished East — like Boston, Philadelphia and Toronto — a clearer path to the Finals.But the more pressing issue for the 33-year-old James is how quickly he and the young Lakers can become title contenders while Golden State essentially has a stranglehold on the league.The answer obviously hinges on the route Los Angeles takes next: either a more patient approach that lets the talented yet unseasoned Lakers develop around James, or a more aggressive one that involves trading some of that talent for a proven star like Kawhi Leonard.Regardless of which path the Lakers take, they will be considerably improved if LeBron can stay healthy the way he always has.According to CARMELO, FiveThirtyEight’s NBA player projection system, the current club with James would be projected to win 52 games, with an 11 percent probability of winning it all next season.1This assumes the Lakers would be keeping Julius Randle, who is currently a restricted free agent — one Los Angeles can exceed the salary cap to keep if it wishes. The projected win total would jump considerably, to nearly 60 victories with a 22 percent probability of a title, if the Lakers were to land Leonard in exchange for Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, Luol Deng and a first-round pick or two. Such a deal would sting — Ingram has incredible potential, and Kuzma’s an impressive young scorer — and you can bet on the Lakers doing all they can to resist surrendering this sort of haul. Yet Leonard’s stature as a top-five talent when healthy is impossible to deny, and he would quicken any timeline for contention. (The late-Sunday-night addition of Lance Stephenson didn’t figure to help the team much, per our projections, which essentially label the ex-Pacer as a replacement-level player at this point.)The first scenario, in which LeBron plays with the homegrown Lakers, would be a pretty far cry from 2014, when he started his second stint with Cleveland by playing alongside two other established scorers in Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love and thrived in a wide-open offense that catered to James’s unique ability to drive and kick. The Lakers ranked near the bottom of the NBA in 3-point shooting and may need to scour the free-agent market for perimeter marksmen.And while Los Angeles boasts a much better defense than the Cavs had last year, the Lakers were similar to Cleveland in that they lacked a true rim-protecting presence on last season’s club. More than 30 percent of Lakers’ opponents shots came from within 3 feet of the basket, tied for the third-highest rate in the NBA last season, according to Basketball-Reference. (The Lakers also agreed to terms Sunday with JaVale McGee, who isn’t the most reliable on D. But he had his moments against James in the Finals and his wingspan helps him around the rim.)There would be at least one clear upside: After a year where James had to dominate the ball in Irving’s absence, he can now share that responsibility with second-year point guard Lonzo Ball. The two could connect quite frequently in transition, given that Ball is known for his uptempo style and long outlet passes, and James — looking to get a breather after some offensive possessions — will occasionally hang back and cherry-pick layups and dunks.Ball figures to be a part of the core going forward, even if the Lakers do push for Leonard. The Spurs — long seen as the league’s most straitlaced team — are rumored to lack interest in Ball, likely due to some of the off-court distractions that surround him. But having Leonard would carry obvious benefits. James — who hasn’t played on a roster without a prime-age All-Star-caliber teammate since the 2009-10 season2The 2015-16 season was the only one in that stretch where none of his teammates made the All-Star team, but Kyrie Irving only failed to make the roster because he was injured that year; his performance on his return was up to his usual standard. — wouldn’t have to shoulder nearly as much of the clutch-scoring burden. Perhaps more important: In a potential matchup with the Warriors, James wouldn’t necessarily have to defend Kevin Durant, as Leonard would be more than capable of handling that task.By no stretch of the imagination are the Lakers a force to be reckoned with yet. But after these last five years, the roughest dry spell in franchise history, this is a welcome shift. Depending on how aggressively Magic Johnson and the team’s front office handles the trade market, they could creep into Golden State’s rear-view mirror more quickly than many suspected. Nabbing LeBron James, even at damn-near 34 years old, will speed up just about any team’s process.— Neil Paine contributed to this story.CORRECTION (July 2, 2018, 12:25 p.m.): An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that LeBron James had not been on a team without at least one other prime-age All-Star since the 2009-10 season. In 2015-16, he was the only All-Star for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The nation’s top-ranked Akron Zips men’s soccer team looks to extend its 11-game shutout streak Wednesday when it visits No. 23 Ohio State for a match in which the Buckeyes are the underdogs. “We got nothing to lose and everything to gain by getting a good result in this game,” OSU coach John Bluem said. “The pressure is all on their team.” The Buckeyes (5-2-1) are hoping to parlay last Wednesday’s scoreless tie with No. 8 Louisville and Saturday’s 1-0 win at Michigan into momentum heading into tonight’s game and the upcoming Big Ten schedule. “It’s a chance to play the No. 1 team in the country and measure yourself against them,” Bluem said. “At the end of the year, if you want to be a Big Ten Champion or an NCAA Tournament participant, this is what you’re going to face,” Bluem said. Despite their shutout streak, the Zips’ defense doesn’t match up with their offense, defender Matt Gold said. “Someone always told me that the best defense is offense and that sums it up pretty well,” he said. “They are all very technical, talented and smart players.” Bluem said that in order to end Akron’s shutout streak, OSU must concede space defensively while using more defenders with the hope of being able to capitalize on counter attacks. Gold said Akron normally controls the ball for 70 percent of the game, which means opposing teams rarely get opportunities to score. “We just have to exploit their weaknesses,” midfielder Sam Scales said. “If they make a mistake we really have to take advantage of it, especially in the back, we got to counter and finish our chances.” The recent play of goalkeeper Matt Lampson might afford OSU’s defense to play more aggressively. Monday, Lampson received the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week accolades for his shutout efforts against Louisville and Michigan. He had 11 saves in Ann Arbor, Mich. “He was at his very best against Michigan,” Bluem said. “He had a great performance and he’s going to need to have a similar performance for us to be successful against Akron.” Kickoff against Akron is Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.
OSU coach Urban Meyer is interviewed during media day on Dec. 29. Credit: Alexa Mavrogianis | Photo EditorOhio State coach Urban Meyer announced that freshman linebacker Baron Browning underwent shoulder surgery and will miss a couple months, which included the rest of spring practice. He said Browning should be back to 100 percent by June, which would make him ready for fall camp.Tuesday was Meyer’s first time speaking to the media in three weeks. Here are three takeaways from the press conference.InjuriesIncluding Browning’s shoulder, the Buckeyes are currently dealing with three other injuries and an academic issue.Meyer said redshirt sophomore defensive tackle DaVon Hamilton broke his foot a couple practices ago and will be “full speed soon.” Sophomore running back Antonio Williams and sophomore defensive end Jonathon Cooper are both sidelined with hamstring injuries. Cooper was seen jogging on the sideline with redshirt senior tight end Marcus Baugh who underwent offseason shoulder surgery. Williams was not seen at practice.Redshirt freshman tight end Kierre Hawkins is “taking care of some academic stuff,” Meyer said.Cooper and Hamilton were in the second-string rotation on the defensive line in spring practice. Hamilton played in all 13 games and had 2.5 tackles for loss, while Cooper played in six.Running back depth chartIt appears freshman running back J.K. Dobbins has taken advantage of Williams’ injury and has made the most of his decision to enrol early at OSU. Meyer said Dobbins is the No. 2 running back right now, behind starter redshirt sophomore Mike Weber. Meyer added that Dobbins and sophomore Demario McCall are battling for the second spot on the depth chart at running back.Dobbins — listed at 5-foot-10, 208 pound — joined a youthful running back group, with every player having three years of eligibility left. But it seems that it hasn’t taken long for the Texas native to impress his position coach Tony Alford, Meyer and the rest of the offensive staff.Meyer even said that Weber is being pushed quite a bit by Dobbins.“The best thing that can happen is competition and we didn’t have much last year at that position.”Wide receivers making stridesLast season, the wide receiver position was perhaps the most underwhelming position on the field for the Buckeyes. Already this spring, Meyer has seen great improvements, saying he’s somewhat impressed with the development of the group.“I put Parris (Campbell) No. 1,” he said. “I put K.J. (Hill) and Terry McLaurin either (No.) 2 slash (No.) 3. I put Ben Victor — he’s as talented as any I have ever coached — and then Austin Mack. Johnnie Dixon is having a good spring. Brendon White is actually making good plays for us. And Eric Glover-Williams, we just got to get everything in order. He’s real skinny. We just got to develop him because he’s got talent.”Campbell and Hill were primarily working out of the slot, playing as the inside receiver, in the hour time frame the media was allowed to watch at Tuesday’s practice. Meyer said that the plan for now is to play Campbell as the H-back, filling in for the departed Curtis Samuel.Other notes:Meyer called the 10 early enrollees “maybe the best group that we’ve had come in.”Junior college transfer cornerback Kendall Sheffield had his black stripe removed. He was practicing against the first-string receivers in 7-on-7 drills on Tuesday.Redshirt sophomore offensive lineman Matt Burrell has been practicing with the first team. Redshirt junior Demetrius Knox is also practicing with first team.Justin Hilliard went back to practicing with the linebackers after undergoing shoulder surgery in late September.
Ohio State junior forward Mason Jobst prepares for a face-off against Robert Morris on Oct. 27. The Buckeyes won 5-3. Credit: Nick Hudak | For the LanternThe No. 15 Ohio State men’s hockey team (8-4-4, 3-4-1-0 in Big Ten) will continue its streak of conference play with a weekend series against No. 7 Minnesota (10-7-1, 4-5-1-1 in Big Ten) on Friday and Saturday. The Golden Gophers enter the series losing three of the past four games, but the losses were against high-ranked opponents in No. 14 Wisconsin and No. 4 Notre Dame. Ohio State is coming off a disappointing series against No. 18 Penn State, in which they lost in shootout after a 5-5 tie, then lost 4-0 the following game.“No one likes to lose, and certainly you don’t like to lose the way we lost on Saturday,” head coach Steve Rohlik said. “We’re playing one of the better hockey teams in the country, and we know we have to be ready, so obviously it’s important for us to get back and have a good effort.”Minnesota gets its scoring from a variety of players. Three Golden Gophers rank top-50 in the NCAA in points. Sophomore forward Rem Pitlick leads the team with eight goals and 19 points, followed closely by junior forward Tommy Novak and freshman forward Casey Mittelstadt with 17 and 15 points, respectively.With the Buckeyes taking a few weeks off after this series, junior defenseman Sasha Larocque understands the importance of playing well against Minnesota.“It’s huge, they’re a top team, both in the Big Ten and nationally, so it’s a good marker for us going into break here,” Larocque said.Minnesota is ranked 30th in goals for and tied for 12th in goals against in the nation. Its impressive lack of allowed goals can be largely credited to junior goalie Eric Schierhorn, who has played in goal every game for the Golden Gophers this season.Last season Ohio State and Minnesota split both series. The four games totaled a combined 39 shots finding the back of the net between both teams.“It’s an easy team to get up for,” Larocque said. “We’ve had … some real tough series against Minnesota, and we know they’re a great program, so we’re excited to play against them.”The Buckeyes look to fix their struggles at home and Rohlik said it’s all about fixing the mentality going forward.“That’s a good question. Certainly if I had (that answer) we’d already have that fixed, but I think it’s just a mindset,” Rohlik said. “On the road we feel a little more loose for whatever reason, and we just have to come out here at home and we have to win hockey games no matter where we’re at.”Puck drop for the series against Minnesota is set for 6:30 p.m. Friday and 8:00 p.m. Saturday at the Schottenstein Center.
Britain is set for another blast of Indian Summer with an unusually hot start to October forecast on the back of one of the warmest Septembers in recent years.The Met Office said people across most of England can expect temperatures to rise to more than 20 Celsius (68F) during the first week of next month.Tuesday, September 13 was the hottest September day in Britain for more than a century when the mercury soared to 34.4C (93.9F) in Gravesend, Kent. The average UK temperature for September over the last 30 years is 6.5C (61.7F), which September this year is expected to beat comfortably by several degrees. And forecasters say that October will also begin with a warm spell.Met Office forecaster Emma Sharples said: “There will be warmer than normal weather for the beginning of autumn.”The 30-year average for September is 17.8C (64F) for England and 16.5C (61.7F) for the UK.”The average temperature for September 2016 can’t be confirmed yet, but the indicative trend is that it will be a few degrees above average.”Even though this weekend and the beginning of October next week will see nothing like the 34C (93.2F) heat of a few weeks ago, next week will be fairly pleasant for the time of year. We expect to see temperatures breaking above 20C (68F).”UK weather forecast for Thursday, September 29 Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. But Ms Sharples warned that the weekend is also likely to see showers, which might cool down temperatures.She added: “Even though the weekend will see temperatures across the UK in the high teens, temperature is not the whole picture.”There will be quite a few showers, so it will not feel particularly warm.”
One Nato naval source said the Russian vessels were due to leave Severomorsk near Murmansk imminently and could pass Britain as early as next week.The source said: “It’s not catching us by surprise, we are working up what to do and we are all over it. The most likely thing is that they will go through the North Sea, down the Dover Strait and through the Channel.“They might even stop off the North East coast to fly for a bit.”But the source said it was also possible the Russian warships would split, with some going through the Irish Sea or down the West coast of Ireland, “to cause more trouble”.The source said: “Even if it splits five ways and we can’t man mark them, it doesn’t matter, we have got this covered.” The Royal Naval preparations come after Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, this week triggered a diplomatic row by saying he would “like to see demonstrations outside the Russian embassy” in London over Moscow’s role in the ongoing Syrian conflict.A former First Sea Lord on Friday said Russian posturing risked inflaming tensions further.Nato navies have been preparing a major operation to track the 55,000 tonne Admiral Kuznetsov and its escorts in a game of “naval cat and mouse” down through the North Atlantic to the Bay of Biscay and then into the Mediterranean. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. Russia is expected to sail its only aircraft carrier through the English Channel later this month amid strained relations between London and Moscow over the Syria crisis.Royal Navy chiefs and their Nato allies are drawing up plans to escort up to eight Russian warships which are due to leave port imminently to join the country’s air strike campaign against Syrian rebels.Admirals believe the Kremlin will use the voyage as an opportunity for a show of strength as it passes Britain, and expect the carrier’s aircraft to launch flying drills off the British and French coasts. One Royal Navy Type 23 frigate and one Type 45 destroyer are being prepared to monitor the Russians, while an RAF Rivet Joint spy plane, C130 Hercules and Typhoon jets will also be on standby.But sources said, with the Royal Navy short of ships and sailors, the warships would have to be diverted from other missions to meet the Russian vessels.Sergei Shoigu, Russian defence minister, has said the carrier will be escorted by six warships and three or four support vessels. The Russian vessels are expected to include the battlecruiser Peter the Great and a Udaloy class destroyer.Once in the Mediterranean, the Kuznetsov is set to take up position off the coast of Syria for four to five months, where it could uses its complement of MiG-29K/KUB jets and helicopters to carry out airstrikes.Lord West of Spithead, a former First Sea Lord, said the Russians were entitled to sail down the Channel, and the ageing carrier was not fully operational, but he said the country’s posturing over Syria would risk inflaming tensions.He said: “When people start posturing, things become dangerous. It all raises tensions and makes things more difficult and that’s not a clever thing to do.“It makes sense to have them monitored by a couple of Nato ships. The fact that the Navy is scrabbling around for a frigate is symptomatic of the fact that it’s a national disgrace we only have 19 surface escorts.He said: “I find Russia very worrying at the moment. Their economy is on a war footing.”Dr Igor Sutyagin, a Russia expert at the Royal United Services Institute, said that as the country’s economy foundered it was left only with its military might to project influence.
You have to subscribe to the groupthink to get on, and that is not healthyEd Vaizey “Let’s not beat about the bush: the arts are relentlessly left wing,” he said. “Anyone rightwing probably works at Christie’s.“As Munira Murza [the former London]mayor’s head of culture] once said: there is no pro-fox hunting play. Indeed, there are no plays about over-powerful trade unions letting down their members. Benedict Cumberbatch famously used the Hamlet stage to deliver an impassioned political speech in aide of refugees Delivering the Chairman’s Lecture at the Royal Society of Arts, Mr Vaizey called on leaders to stop greeting new culture secretaries with “unremitting hostility” and treating them like philistines.He said he was now in a position to deliver some truths he would have been “murdered” for uttering while in government, as he insisted it was time for museums, galleries and libraries to work more closely with innovative digital companies instead of relying on old models.“There is massive groupthink in the arts, both in terms of cultural policy and in terms of cultural offers,” he said. Ken Loach has been praised by Jeremy Corbyn for his films The British arts establishment is suffering from relentlessly left-wing “groupthink”, the former Culture Minister has said, as he argues it should stop simply begging for more public money and start pursuing more radical ideas.Ed Vaizey, who was removed from his position earlier this year by Theresa May, said there are few plays representing a right-wing point of view, with a tendency for the arts community to “sit in a bubble” and cold-shoulder anything different.He argued it was now essential for the arts lobby to challenge the overriding view that “all must stay the same”, and stop insisting that no library or museum should ever be shut down no matter how poor or under-used its service. “As a Remainer, there is no pro-Brexit play attacking unaccountable Brussel’s bureaucrats building a European superstate. There’s no play exposing the corruption and abuse in a country like Venezuela – why not?“The arts sit in a silo in Whitehall, but perhaps they sit in a bubble outside of Whitehall, where everyone in the arts community reinforces each other’s thinking and cold-shoulder people with different points of view. Mr Vaizey attends the BFI London Film Festival earlier this month “You have to subscribe to the groupthink to get on, and that is not healthy.”He told an audience: “There were very few radical ideas put to me when I was a minister. I was only ever asked for more money.“The view seemed to be a simple one: no museum or library must ever close, no performing arts organisations must ever be shut down – if it was funded once, it must be funded forever. All must stay the same.”Praising the arts as a whole, Mr Vaizey went on to call for a halt to financial cuts, adding he hopes Mrs May will acknowledge that the “arts do a huge amount for our country”. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.
A murder investigation has been launched after a 22-year-old man died and two others were injured after reports of multiple stabbings on Halloween night.The men, all aged in their 20s, were found on Gloucester Road in Croydon, south London, shortly after 8pm.Two men, aged 27 and 21, were transferred to hospital in a serious condition while another died at the scene. Chief Superintendent Andy Tarrant, responsible for policing in Croydon, said: “Whilst colleagues from the Homicide and Major Crime Command are investigating last night’s fatal stabbing, my officers will be carrying out patrols across the borough to provide reassurance to the community.”I would personally like to reassure people that attacks of this nature are rare and we are doing everything we can to catch those responsible.”Anyone with information is asked to contact the incident room on 020 8721 4054 or via 101. To give information anonymously contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or visit crimestoppers-uk.org. Officers in Croydon tweeted earlier on Monday evening: “Units responding to reports of multiple stabbings on Gloucester Road. Expect road closures and delays in the area.”They added later: “A murder investigation has been started at Gloucester Road after this incident.”A Scotland Yard spokesman said no arrests had been made in connection with the attack. A murder investigation has been started at Gloucester Road after this incident #Croydoncops https://t.co/aT2eXBuUty— Croydon MPS (@MPSCroydon) October 31, 2016 Units responding to reports of multiple stabbings on Gloucester Road. Expect road closures and delays in the area #Croydoncops pic.twitter.com/1v0rgwcnVQ— Croydon MPS (@MPSCroydon) October 31, 2016 Police said a fourth man, 22, presented himself to a south London hospital with stab injuries.The dead man has not been formally identified and next of kin were being informed, the Met said. A post-mortem examination is due to be held today. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.
Freezing temperatures are likely to hit Britain this winter as the polar vortex above the Arctic moves south bringing bone-chilling weather in the run up to Christmas, the Met Office has predicted.Health officials have issued a desperate plea to the public, urging them to wrap up warm and turn to pharmacies at the first sign of illness, amid “enormous pressure” on casualty departments. Forecasts suggest Britain could be facing the coldest winter for five years, with average minimum temperatures likely to fall below zero in some parts of the UK. In recent years, the NHS has struggled to cope despite a succession of mild winters but Arctic winds are expected later this week, and cold snaps are forecast to continue between now and Christmas. Weather forecasters say a weak polar vortex – the name for the winds which circle the Arctic – is causing chilly weather to be pulled further south and increasing the risk of bad weather. Every degree drop below 5C sees a 10 per cent rise in pensioners seeing GPs for breathing difficulties, along with almost a 1 per cent rise in emergency hospital admissions and a 3.4 per cent increase in deaths.”We are urging people to take practical steps such as to wrap up warm before the temperature dial hits freezing,” Prof Willett said. Health officials are concerned that the icy spells ahead could overload hospitals which are already battling record levels of bed-blocking, with warnings that a crisis in social care has reached “tipping point”.Prof Keith Willett, NHS England medical director for acute care, asked the public to do all they could to reduce “avoidable” visits to Accident & Emergency departments. Warning that the NHS was now under “enormous pressure,” he urged the public to take more responsibility for their own health. Prof Willett said: “The NHS is here to help but there are important things we can all do to take care of ourselves during the winter months,” he said.”It is vital that the most vulnerable people take preventative steps to keep healthy and stay well. We have a high number of A&E attendances over this time that are due to issues which could have been avoided had people sought advice at the first sign of illness.” The senior doctor advised keeping homes warm, with regular hot drinks and meals, and urged people to see their pharmacist at the first sign of health problems. Elsa aged 8 sledging in the snow near Nenthead CumbriaCredit:North News and Pictures Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. A frosty morning captured at sunrise at Corfe Castle, Dorset Credit:Emily Endean / SWNS.com Professor Adam Scaife, head of long-range prediction at the Met Office Hadley Centre, said: “There is an increased risk of cold snaps between now and Christmas.“Several factors, including tropical rainfall, are known to drive UK and European winter conditions: following a strong El Nino last year, the tropics are now influenced by a weak La Niña and unusual rainfall conditions in the Indian Ocean.“Historical weather observations and our latest computer model simulations agree that these factors are increasing the risk of a cold start to winter for the UK.” The Met Office today also launches its Get Ready for Winter campaign after finding that millions are left vulnerable by not making simple checks and changes ahead of the colder months.Four in 10 adults have been injured due to bad weather while nine in 10 underestimate how chilly Britain can get in the winter time. Communities minister Andrew Percy said: “Severe winter weather can have a terrible impact on communities and wreak havoc on people’s day-to-day lives. I would urge everyone to visit the Met Office’s new website so they can help prepare appropriately for the wintery weather ahead.” Research has also shown that people with conditions such as heart disease, lung problems including asthma, and dementia are much more likely to die in winter.Cold indoor or outdoor temperatures increases blood pressure, which heightens the risk of heart failure, kidney disease and stroke. It also makes the blood more likely to clot, raising the risk of heart attack and stroke, and reduces the lung’s ability to fight off infection.The Stay Well This Winter campaign urges those who are eligible for their flu vaccination to get one now. Anyone with a cough and cold should seek early help from a pharmacist, the guidance from NHS England and Public Health England (PHE) says. Snowplows have already been out this winter in CumbriaCredit:North News and Pictures
Both men escaped from Pentonville Prison in north LondonCredit:Jonathan Brady Both Whitlock and Baker have now been recapturedCredit:Met Police Whitlock was on remand after being charged with conspiracy to burgle relating to a series of alleged ATM thefts.He was detained at an address in Shepherd’s Lane in Homerton shortly after 4.30pm on Sunday, the Metropolitan Police said.A 48-year-old man and a 19-year-old man were also arrested at the address on suspicion of assisting an offender. Meanwhile, Baker was found with a with a broken leg hiding under a bed at his sister’s house in Ilford, east London last Wednesday. Both inmates who escaped from Pentonville prison in North London earlier this month have now been recaptured after James Whitlock was arrested on Sunday afternoon.The 31-year-old was arrested at an address in Homerton, east London for being unlawfully at large.Whitlock escaped from Pentonville Prison along with convicted attempted murderer Matthew Baker on November 7. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. They then scaled the perimeter wall of the prison before jumping to the ground and making their escape.The breakout sparked criticism from the head of the prison’s independent inspection watchdog, who said Pentonville was “a soft target” because of the “dilapidated” state of its windows.Steve Gillan, general secretary of the Prison Officers Association, said on Tuesday that the jail break had followed years of under-investment and staff cuts, and the focus should fall on the Government.The Category B facility, which opened in 1842 and holds more than 1,200 adult men, was also singled out by former justice secretary Michael Gove last year as “the most dramatic example of failure” in the estate. His 21-year-old sister, Kelly Baker, appeared at Highbury Corner Magistrates’ Court earlier this week accused of harbouring him and buying him hair dye to change his appearance. A 33-year-old man and 24-year-old woman were also arrested on November 9 and 10 respectively on suspicion of assisting an offender, and bailed pending further inquiries, police said.Scotland Yard launched a manhunt for the pair after their escape from the Victorian Prison was discovered earlier this month.The pair were said to have stuffed their pillows in order to make it appear as if they were sleeping before using diamond-tipped cutting equipment to cut through the bars on their cells.
Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. The Telegraph is running a Better Broadband campaign to highlight the damaging impact poor internet coverage is having on families and businesses in rural communities.The Government has proposed that every Briton should have the legal right to request access to internet speeds of 10mbps by 2020.Matt Warman, chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary group on broadband, said the Government must introduce specific provisions to improve broadband in schools, as rural children are missing out on “huge chunks of the curriculum”.Mr Warman, who is MP for Boston and Skegness and sits on the science and technology select committee, told The Daily Telegraph: “Children aren’t able to do huge chunks of the curriculum if they don’t have a decent connection. “Some councils have been forward thinking about this, but others have not and it is very clear that some schools are better connected than others and that’s not fair in an education system that is meant to provide equal opportunities for all.“It is hard for me to justify to one parent whose children have almost zero broadband at school while others have something much better.” Poor broadband connections in remote areas hinder children’s learning because they cannot do their homework properly, a report has found.Brian Wilson, director at Rural England said that pupils who grow up in rural communities are at a disadvantage compared to their urban dwelling peers, as they less able to access online learning resources and carry out research based projects.A report by the campaign group, titled State of Rural Services 2016, said that rural communities are suffering due to poor transport links to vital public services.Mr Wilson, who wrote the report, said: “A lack of a fast broadband connection is an issue in a lot of rural places. It is expanding but it is still the case that about a quarter of homes will be unable to get a broadband connection.“Schools are increasingly using online learning materials, children are expected to do a lot of homework online. A slow connection at home makes it harder to do homework, particularly research based tasks, projects which involve trying to download attachments or large document.” Broadband speeds can be bad in the countrysideCredit:Martin Pope He added that the Government’s proposals for a national standard of internet speed “need to also take into account that schools should be given priority”.Ofcom, the telecoms regulator, revealed last month that a quarter of all properties in rural areas – close to a million in total – still do not have decent broadband. Steve Unger, Ofcom’s group director, said it was “unacceptable” that so many people were struggling to get broadband and urged ministers to improve coverage in the countryside.Rachael Maskell MP, Labour’s Shadow Secretary for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, said that Rural England’s findings represent “yet more evidence that rural communities have been left behind by this Tory Government”.She added: “It’s clear that the lack of infrastructure in rural areas, including broadband and mobile access, is blocking access to vital services across the board.” A DCMS spokesman said: “Nine out of ten homes and businesses in the UK can now get superfast broadband, and the Better Broadband scheme is now providing immediate assistance to those homes in rural area with the slowest speeds.”But we are determined to go further and we’ve just announced £400 million that will be used to take superfast broadband even further and reach hundreds of thousands more rural homes. And we are legislating for a Universal Service Obligation, which will give every home and business in the UK the right to fast broadband.”The report, published on Tuesday, found that more than three fifths of students cannot reach schools in rural areas in reasonable travel time.They used Department for Transport data, which includes details of those living within ‘reasonable’ distances of schools and hospitals.The DfT does not publish its own definitions of ‘reasonable travel times’ but many local authorities say 75 minutes is a reasonable distance to travel to a secondary school.A Department for Education spokesperson said: “The legal responsibility for transport to schools and further education colleges rests with councils, who are best placed to understand the needs of their population and the local transport infrastructure.“We know that buses play a key role in helping children to get to school, especially in rural areas. We provide around £250 million to support services in England every year, which councils can use for specific bus routes.”
Referring to the testimonial mentioning Stevie Wonder, Wolkind said: “It wasn’t in great taste, I would not have chosen that, but there it is.”It was complete hyperbole, it wasn’t a great comment. I didn’t think it was funny, but it never occurred to me it could be discriminatory.”It was the absurd hyperbole of a client who was so grateful, that is the point – that he was willing to make a statement like that showed his degree of satisfaction.”Asked about his “personal criticisms” of the prosecution, Wolkind said: “We all make mistakes from time to time and we expect our opponents to point them out.Defending his conduct, Wolkind added: “I had to fight as best I could. There were many ways to lose that case and only one way to win”, which he said was in “trying to take them on on each point of circumstantial evidence”.He admits six charges relating to claims on his website about being the UK’s top criminal barrister and the UK’s top criminal QC and also being the UK’s top murder barrister and QC.Wolkind denies professional misconduct relating to alleged personal comments against prosecution counsel in the trial of R v Ekaireb.He also denies professional misconduct relating to comments in a harassment trial that his client was “unwilling to take it lying down unlike, sadly, his wife did throughout the affair” and a testimonial on his website saying he could “get Stevie Wonder a driving licence”.Two charges relating to being absent from court during the summing up in the Ekaireb trial and claims Wolkind had “appeared as leading counsel in more murder cases than any other criminal barrister practitioner” were dismissed as having no case to answer.If any of the charges are found proved, Wolkind could face a fine or a period of suspension. The hearing continues. Stevie Wonder, the blind American musicianCredit:Kevin Winter/Getty There are great legal minds, even greater legal minds, and then there is Michael Wolkind QCwebsite biography Brian Altman QCCredit:David Wimsett/UPPA/Photoshot Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. Wolkind, of 2 Bedford Row chambers, is now facing ten charges of professional misconduct before the Bar Tribunal and Adjudication Service in central London.In November 2015, the barrister’s website described him as being the “UK’s top criminal barrister” and the “UK’s top criminal QC”.His biography featured a claim that he was “widely recognised as one of the UK’s top criminal trial and appeal barristers” and featured a testimonial: “There are great legal minds, even greater legal minds, and then there is Michael Wolkind QC.”He also claimed to be the top barrister for murder, protest, terroris and householder self-defence cases, as well as inquests, health and safety cases and tribunals.One testimonial stated that Wolkind “could get Stevie Wonder a driving licence”. His website was referred to the Bar Standards Board after it came to the notice of Lord Thomas during the appeal of Wolkind’s former client Robert Ekaireb, now 42.Ekaireb, a jeweller and property developer, was convicted in December 2013 of murdering his wife, 27-year-old lapdancer Li Hua Cao. Ms Cao went missing while 22 weeks pregnant in October 2006 and her body has never been found. A leading barrister wrongly claimed he was the “UK’s top criminal QC” on his website and promoted himself with a testimonial saying he “could get Stevie Wonder a driving licence”, a misconduct hearing was told.Michael Wolkind QC was criticised by the Lord Chief Justice for his “patronising” behaviour during a murder case when he launched a series of personal attacks on prosecutor Brian Altman QC.Wolkind accused Mr Altman, who is now the lead counsel for the Independent Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse, of telling “a whopper of a lie” and “flying away from the real world on a jet plane”.His client’s new barrister, Orlando Pownall QC, later described Wolkind’s performance during the case as “wholly incompetent”, the hearing was told. Referring to the mention of Stevie Wonder, the blind American musician, Mr Moran said that Wolkind’s “joke at the expense of somebody with serious disabilities is not something that ought to appear on the website of leading counsel or any other barrister. He is publishing it to the world, basically.”Wolkind also joked during a case that his client Ian Puddick, a celebrity plumber who was accused of harassment by tweeting about his wife’s infidelity, was “unwilling to take it lying down unlike, sadly, his wife did throughout the affair”.Mr Moran added that the joke was “not acceptable and would be likely to diminish the public confidence, certainly from the female public”.Wolkind, who became a barrister in 1976 and a QC in 1999, represented Norfolk farmer Tony Martin in his successful murder appeal and has been described in The Legal 500 as “brilliant at cross-examination”.The barrister told the hearing that “to find myself here is a shock”, adding: “I was too enthusiastic, I praised myself too much on that website.”That website came about because a very old school friend of mine went into computing. He, for a long time, told me about the possibility of promoting myself.”My reaction to him was ‘no way, never’. As years went by, there came a time when I said yes. I take full responsibility because I employed him.” Li Hua Cao went missing in October 2006 and her body has never been found. Her husband, Robert Ekaireb, was jailed for life after being found guilty of killing herCredit:Metropolitan Police/PA During the trial, Wolkind argued that Ms Cao was not necessarily dead and had left an unhappy marriage because she was “bored by his lifestyle in London”.In 2015, the Court of Appeal ruled that Ekaireb’s conviction was safe, but Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd found Wolkind had made “completely unprofessional” personal criticism of the prosecution and worked on other cases during the trial.Lord Thomas described Wolkind’s closing speech as “ill-judged, patronising and contained inappropriate attempts at humour” and also declared he was “surprised” at the “content and tone” of the barrister’s website.Ekaireb’s new barrister at the appeal, Orlando Pownall QC, also said Wolkind had been “wholly incompetent” in his defence.Andrew Moran QC, for the Bar Standards Board, said Wolkind had accused his opposing counsel, Mr Altman, of making the “worst interpretation of everything” and making “random attacks” in his closing speech to the jury.He quoted Wolkind as telling the jury: “Mr Altman addressed you straight-faced with a whopper of a lie.” Mr Moran said: “We say that’s a straightforward attack on Mr Altman.”He also quoted Wolkind saying “Mr Altman is flying away from the real world on a jet plane” and “he didn’t do very well because he didn’t get to the point”. He also said that Wolkind had launched into “criticism of the individual rather than the case”.Mr Moran said: “The Bar Standards Board’s case is that these sorts of personal comments about prosecution counsel are conduct likely to diminish public confidence in the legal profession or the administration of justice.”
An NHS hospital in Greater Manchester has become England’s first to ban all sugary food and drinks for both patients and staff.Obesity campaigners have welcomed the “trailblazing” announcement by Tameside Hospital and predicted it will prompt others to follow suit.The new policy goes significantly further than a ban on just fizzy drinks which comes into force across the health service in July.It followed a successful staff weight-loss scheme at Tameside last year initiated to battle obesity among clinicians who graze on unhealthy snacks to keep going over long shifts.One nurse lost two stone over 12 weeks after snacks were removed from the menu for a trial period, while others lost 20 lbs over the same period.As part of the “Slimpod” weight-loss programme, some of the participants underwent hypnotherpay telling them to avoid sugary food. Karen James, Chief Executive of the hospital, said: “My staff work very hard.”Long hours and shift patterns often make it very difficult for people to make healthy choices, so they opt for the instant sweet fixes, which until now have been readily available. “These are dedicated healthcare professionals who believe they should be role models for their patients but the food environment has been working against them.”A recent report revealed one in four NHS nurses is obese, which is exacerbating staff sickness levels.Last week NHS England released an updated contract for hospitals, which for the first time included a clause prohibiting the sale of sugar sweetened beverages.Retailers including Marks & Spencer, WH Smiths and Subway had already agreed to cut sales of sweet drinks to a maximum of 10 per cent of their output.Tam Fry, Chair of the National Obesity Forum, said: “Tameside’s initiative should be rolled out to every UK hospital forthwith.” Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.
Train trapped by landslipCredit:PA In another incident, a 64-year-old man was rescued after a two hour search in the south of Scotland.He had been without power for seven days in his remote home in the woods near Eskdalemuir when he decided to set out to try to reach the village.After four hours of struggling through deep snow he called for help and was found by the Moffat Mountain Rescue Team on Sunday night.It was called out again a few hours later to take part in an operation with Tweed Valley Mountain Rescue Team and Police Scotland to find two walkers on the Southern Upland Way. They were eventually found, unharmed, at 5.30am.Helen Roberts, of the Met Office, said the “significant warming” following a lengthy cold snap could lead to further avalanche or landslip conditions, before a period of gales and rain. Two others members of his party were rescued near the summit of the mountain on Sunday but deteriorating weather and the risk of avalanches prevented the Lochaber rescue team from continuing the search at the time. The train remained stuck in the mudCredit:PA She said: “There is also the potential for flooding issues with a lot of snow melting, combined with expected rainfall.”On Wednesday, we are looking at gales, or even severe gales, with possible wind speeds across the north and west of 65mph. There is no warning out yet but there is the potential for one being issued in advance.” Scotland is facing the prospect of further landslides and avalanches as temperatures continue to rise following an incident in which a passenger train was derailed by tonnes of mud.The Mallaig to Glasgow train left the track on a remote stretch of line between Arisaig and Glenfinnan, near the famous viaduct that features in the Harry Potter movies.The carriages remained upright and the five passengers on board were unhurt but the line will remain closed “until further notice”, with a replacement bus service operating between Mallaig and Fort William.Tonnes of mud swept across the track from the bare hillside above, and a NetworkRail Scotland spokesman said engineers were assessing the site to determine the scale of the problem.The unstable conditions have been blamed on a huge temperature swing, from the lowest figure recorded this winter, when it reached -13.5C in Dalwhinnie on Saturday, to the 10C expected in the central belt on Tuesday.The avalanche risk is said to be “considerable” in the mountains, including the Ben Nevis area where searchers were continuing to look for a missing hillwalker. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.
Show more Thousands of pregnancy testing kits are being recalled after women were wrongly informed they were expecting.About 60,000 of the potentially faulty Clear & Simple digital pregnancy tests have been distributed in the UK and an unknown number have been found to give a false positive result.China-based manufacturer Guangzhou Wondfo Biotech announced the recall following an investigation, admitting that a production error had led to its results “misleading consumers”.The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has urged women who might have bought the test to check the lot number and expiry date to determine if it is among those affected.–– ADVERTISEMENT ––Dr Duncan McPherson, director of clinical devices at the MHRA, said: “If you have any questions about using digital pregnancy tests, please speak to your healthcare professional. Patient safety is our highest priority. We strongly encourage anyone to report any issues with this product.”The batch was manufactured last July and has been available in the UK since last November. The test’s packaging claims that it is “over 99 per cent accurate”, with a “clear digital reading” and results in five minutes.Several customers raised concerns about the reliability of the product earlier this year. One, writing on an online parents forum, said she was feeling “confused” after a Clear & Simple test came back positive while another brand gave a negative result. Several others said they had received false positive results from the brand. Healthpoint, the UK distributor of the test, said affected stocks had been removed from shops and chemists and would be destroyed. Guangzhou Wondfo Biotech said it had decided not to take further action beyond the recall as the information leaflets that accompany the tests advise customers to talk to a doctor who will tell them what to do next in the event of a positive result.The NHS states that a positive test result is “almost certainly correct”, while “a negative result is less reliable”.In July, Asda apologised after four of its pregnancy tests returned false results, leading a woman to wrongly believe she was expecting her first child.The 25-year-old, from Plymouth, told her partner and wider family that she was pregnant only to discover the tests, which claim to be 99 per cent accurate, were all wrong.Several other customers left similar reviews on the company’s website claiming that they too had been given false positive results. Asda insisted that its two-pack of digital tests was quality tested and a spokesman said it would continue to sell the product.The Clear and Simple product recall applies to single, digital tests with a batch number of DM10220170710E and expiry date of January 2020. One customer even suggested there might be a faulty batch and another woman stated in August that the company had responded to her complaint, admitting that it was “aware of false positives happening”. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.
Seven men are huddled, cold and wet, in a car park at Samphire Hoe near Dover talking to a Coastguard Search and Rescue officer. Four have turquoise blankets wrapped tightly around their shoulders by the time an ambulance arrives on Friday lunchtime to check if they have any injuries or hypothermia.On the rocks of a beach below, a dinghy with a small engine is deflating. Two lifejackets and a red fuel tank float limply inside it. A black glove and coat have been abandoned nearby on the pebble beach, which is overlooked by Dover’s white cliffs.The men are Iranian, and have travelled overnight in their inflatable craft through thick fog across the English Channel, the latest migrants to arrive during an unprecedented week which has seen 55 caught by border patrol, in what is thought to be a rush ahead of the March Brexit deadline. Most travelled by boat across the Dover Strait, mainly from Iran and including a four-year-old boy, with seven of the suspected migrants discovered on a lorry from France. The Coastguard responded to six separate incidents in three days in a surge of crossings that has never been seen before. New smuggling networks into the UK run by criminal gangs and the impending arrival of winter, as well as the Brexit deadline which it is assumed will harden the border, are all thought to be reasons for the increase. The Coastguard was alerted to the arrival of the seven migrants on a dinghy shortly before noon on Friday when a member of the public walking along Samphire Hoe pebble beach saw three lifejackets floating in the water.Following initial fears that a helicopter and two rescue boats would need to be dispatched to rescue people from the water, officers discovered that all seven men had safely clambered ashore. Four were wet from the crossing and two were carrying large rucksacks.Less than two hours after they arrived in the UK, the seven men are led into a Care and Custody immigration van and taken to Dover to be processed. They leave behind them a deflated dinghy, the fog-shrouded English Channel, and a path others will soon follow. The boat the seven Iranians used to cross the Channel on FridayCredit:Steve Finn “The Dover Strait is the busiest shipping thoroughfare in the world, with over 400 commercial traffic movements a day,” says Roberts. “There’s always the risk of being run over and with today’s thick fog they would easily be lost.”He adds: “In the last few weeks 90 per cent of the people who have been rescued have been young, fit men. If it was children and the elderly they would already be dead.”The rise in the number of people attempting to reach the UK by boat has worried local fishermen, who say they must now watch for precarious dinghies, as well as obstacles such as driftwood.Fisherman Matt Coker, 38, rescued four Iranian migrants, including one woman, from the choppy waters between England and France back in June. He was fishing for cod, pollock and bass with a dozen crew when he spotted what he thought was a gill net.“As we got closer I could see it wasn’t actually the flag of a gill net, but people holding up oars, waving them and frantically panicking,” he says. “They had been drifting for a few days in a three-man, blow-up pleasure dinghy.”After bringing them on board, Coker told the migrants to remove their clothes and dry them in the sun. The woman was being sick and one of the men was coughing up blood. The inflatable dinghy which brought seven migrants across the Channel on FridayCredit:Steve Finn L’Epervier, the stolen French fishing trawler which entered Dover Harbour with 17 migrants on board on TuesdayCredit:Steve Finn Coker was reminded of the rescue last week as he watched a lifeboat tow a “tiny” French fishing boat, no more than six metres long, into port. Ten Iranian men clambered off it and into the custody of Border Force agents. Their first sight of the UK was a marina that normally houses fishing boats and personal yachts, with names such as “Wine Time”. This week, it is home to two Border Force ribs and a stolen French fishing trawler.“The boat was really listing over and low down in the water, to the point that it actually looked like it was sinking,” says Coker. “There isn’t enough Border Force support. I’ve seen them a lot more than ever before but they’re overstretched.”Echoing Lieutenant Ingrid Parrot, spokeswoman for the French Maritime Prefecture, Coker says he is worried things could get worse in the months before the UK leaves the EU. “It has stepped up massively since the Brexit vote,” he says. “The closer we get to March, the more people are starting to panic.” There have been no known casualties in British waters to date, but a body was discovered off the coast of Boulogne last week. The scene on Friday at DoverCredit: Steve Finn Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. Roberts agrees that there should be 24-hour presence of Border Force agents in the sea around Dover. “This is the shortest crossing from France to the UK and it shouldn’t be a case of ‘we haven’t got enough cover’,” he says. “We have a minimal number of official boats compared with the French.”On Tuesday, a stolen French fishing trawler entered Dover Harbour with 17 migrants on board. “When you have a trawler that size coming into Dover port without being stopped it’s a security lapse,” says Roberts . The sea is calm, but the air is heavy with fog; conditions that most would call treacherous. An RNLI lifeboat and Border Force rib circling just off the shore are barely visible.The fog, which descended on to the cliffs of Dover and shores of France on Thursday evening, offered the migrants cover, but also made them invisible to the passing ferries that transport millions of people per year. “The fog and darkness mean the French won’t have seen them,” says another Coastguard officer at the scene. “They’ll have travelled through the night for up to seven hours.”Andy Roberts, a retired Coastguard officer who has worked in the area for 30 years, says it is only a matter of time before someone dies. “A tragedy will happen, it’s inevitable,” he says. “They have been very lucky so far.” “I felt sorry for them,” Coker recalls. “I gave them some First Aid, a couple of cups of tea and some fresh water.” He phoned the Coastguard who met them at the port with officials from Border Force. “It is always surprising to see people come those distances across the sea in a little boat like that,” says a Coastguard officer who is on the beach near the abandoned dinghy. “It is not meant to be a seafaring boat.”He adds: “Even with my experience, I wouldn’t attempt to cross in a boat like that. But it’s been happening a fair amount recently.”
Prince Charles and Meghan get on famously at this year’s Commonwealth Day serviceCredit:Pool The conspiracy theory was further compounded in the wake of the launch of the Sussex Royal Instagram page, in which the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have used an array of American spellings and words – such as diaper – in their official communications.Fans believe the Duchess has taken control of social media communication herself, drafting messages in her distinctive voice to share with the world.At Clarence House, however, there is no such confusion.Examination of the Prince’s letters showed that he has regularly chosen to use an -ize suffix, in a habit unusual in modern English but nevertheless correct. When the Prince of Wales published a letter of condolence to the French president after the Notre-Dame fire, he intended to convey to the nation his heartfelt sympathies.He may not have expected to become embroiled in one of the more bizarre royal internet conspiracy theories to date, nor to have inadvertently educated a generation in the finer points of 17th century English spelling.The Prince, who habitually uses the “ize” ending to words such as “realize”, left the internet-reading public questioning whether an American had been writing his letters for him.Perhaps, some more far-fetched theories wondered, his daughter-in-law the Duchess of Sussex could be aiding him with his work while on maternity leave?In fact, royal sources said, the letter was merely a continuation of the Prince’s lifelong preference of using older English spellings, considered correct by the Oxford Dictionary of English. The letter, printed on Clarence House headed writing paper and reproduced on the palace’s social media pages, read: “My wife and I were utterly heartbroken to learn of the terrible fire at Notre-Dame Cathedral this evening and wanted to let you know immediately how much we are thinking of yourself and the French people at this most agonizing of times, and of the emergency services who are so bravely tackling the blaze. “I realize only too well what a truly special significance the Cathedral holds at the heart of your nation; but also for us all outside France it represents one of the greatest architectural achievements of Western Civilization.”Social media users were quick to point out that “agonizing, realize and civilization” would more usually be spelled “agonising, realise and civilisation” in English, with the -ize suffix more commonly used in America.“Are you an American or the future king?” one wondered, while another suggested: “Maybe it was written by an American. Maybe Charles dictated a letter and Meghan wrote it up lol.” The Oxford Dictionary of English lists realize, agonize and civilization only under their “z” spellings, giving the -ise version as a variation in parenthesis. The Prince of Wales, Duchess of Cornwall and Duchess of Sussex at a garden partyCredit:Pool Both “realize” and “civilization”, it notes, have origins in early 17th century French, while “agonize” could come from late 16th century French, or the late Latin “agonizare” from the Greek “agonizesthai”.A blog explaining the matter, published in 2011 by Oxford Dictionaries, states: “There’s a widespread belief that these spellings belong only to American English, and that British English should use the ‘-ise’ forms instead, i.e. realise, finalise, and organise.“In fact, the ‘-ize’ forms have been in use in English spelling since the 15th century: they didn’t originate in American use, even though they are now standard in US English.”It cites the first example for the verb organize in the OED in around 1425, from an English translation of a treatise on surgery written by the French physician Guy de Chauliac describing how “in euery partie is organized one vertue”.