An action packed week in the news – with Israel and Gaza edging closer to war, record fines over deep water disasters in America and back in the UK the public are seemingly reticent to put a cross beside the name of someone they know little about, during the first event PCC election this week which saw a record low turnout for a national poll in peacetime. The Savile scandal continued with the ‘Hairy Cornflake’ being arrested and Abu Qatada avoiding deportation has made this week anything but uneventful.
Abu Qatada wins deportation appeal
The radical Islamist cleric Abu Qatada has been released on bail having won a last-minute reprieve from deportation after Mr Justice Mitting ruled that he was not satisfied Mr Qatada would not receive a fair trial if sent back to Jordan to face terror charges.
In a double blow to Theresa May, home secretary, who has branded the ruling "deeply unsatisfactory" a judge at the Special Immigration Appeals Commission has upheld Abu Qatada’s appeal and allowed his speedy release from Long Lartin prison in Worcestershire. He is expected to be subject to a 16 hour a day curfew. Shadow home secretary, Labour MP Yvette Cooper told MPs: "I think people will be horrified across this country to learn that that is the case." Ministers have been battling to banish the suspected terrorist – once described by a Spanish judge as “Osama bin Laden’s right-hand man in Europe” – for the past seven years. Security chiefs believe he played a key ideological role in spreading support for suicide bombings.
BP gets record US criminal fine over Deepwater disaster
BP has agreed to the largest U.S. criminal fine in history over the 2010 Gulf oil spill. The fine is part of a $4.5bn (£2.8bn) settlement related to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster, in which 11 people died and millions of barrels of oil were released into the Gulf of Mexico over 87 days. The company pleaded to a total of 14 charges including 11 felony counts of misconduct or neglect of ships officers and one count of obstruction of congress. The payments will be made in installments over a period of five years, the London-based company said in a statement. BP will also pay to $525 million to settle charges with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
BP's chief executive, Bob Dudley said, "All of us at BP deeply regret the tragic loss of life caused by the Deepwater Horizon accident as well as the impact of the spill on the Gulf coast region". The settlement does not include individual civil claims or any compensation sought from individual states along the Gulf Coast. The oil giant has been selling assets worth billions of pounds to raise money to settle all claims. The company is expected to make a final payment of $860m into the $20bn Gulf of Mexico compensation fund by the end of the year. The group has struggled to repair its reputation after the Deepwater explosion, despite paying out billions of dollars so far to cover costs and claims.
DJ Dave Lee Travis Arrested
Former BBC Radio 1 star David Lee Travis was this week arrested on suspicion of sexual offences as part of the police probe set up in the aftermath of the Jimmy Savile scandal. The DJ - known by the nicknames DLT and the Hairy Cornflake - is best known for his 25-year stint on Radio 1. Mr Travis also presented editions of Top of the Pops in the 1970s and 1980s. He now presents The DLT Show, a radio programme on the Magic Network.
The Metropolitan Police Service is leading a national investigation into abuse allegations made against disgraced TV presenter Savile. So far, around 450 potential victims have come forward and 200 allegations of sexual assault have been made. Officers are looking at three strands within their inquiry: claims against Savile, those against Savile and others, and those against others. The arrest of Mr Travis is the fourth so far in connection with the Savile investigation. Children’s charity the NSPCC said it had received 236 calls about Savile, an average of five per day, since the first sexual abuse allegations emerged. The number of contacts made about other claims of sexual abuse has trebled in the last month, rising to 550.
Israel and Gaza Edging Closer to War
Hamas militants have launched a rocket on Jerusalem - the first time the holy city has been targeted in decades - and the first such attack from Gaza. It is possible that the bombing and rocketing will drag on into next week, with the threat growing of a full-scale ground assault by Israel.
Rockets are believed to have landed near Israel's main centre of population, two on November 15th and the third the next day, despite Israel's deployment of its Iron Dome anti-missile system, which, the army says, had intercepted around 160 of the 510-odd missiles fired from Gaza into Israel between November 14th and 16th. On the fourth day of Israeli air strikes in the coastal enclave Israel targeted the headquarters of Hamas leaders and other key facilities in Gaza. At least 38 Palestinians and three Israelis have died since Israel killed Hamas's military chief last week.
Egypt, under its Muslim Brotherhood president, Mohamed Morsi, has vowed to back Gaza in the face of "blatant aggression". Their prime minister, Hisham Kandil, visited Gaza on November 16th. His mission was described as an act of "solidarity" with Hamas, but also signals a desire to see the violence end—and to be seen to help.
Western leaders have appealed for both sides to stop the escalation in violence. While asserting Israel's right to defend itself from incessant rocket salvoes, America has urged Egypt, Turkey and other regional states to exert their influence on Hamas to bring about a ceasefire. Barack Obama telephoned both Mr Netanyahu and Mr Morsi. France and Britain, and the UN's secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, have also all been active diplomatically, and Mr Ban plans to visit the Middle East next week.
PCC elections dubbed a “comedy of errors”
Prime Minister David Cameron was accused of presiding over an election shambles on Friday after voters stayed away from a costly national poll to pick commissioners to boost the oversight of local police forces.
Turnout in polls to elect the U.S.-style police commissioners for 41 forces across England and Wales looked set to become one of the worst in British electoral history. Fewer than 15% of voters turned out in the 41 English and Welsh police areas electing a PCC, raising questions over the legitimacy of the successful candidates.
The elections had been a "complete shambles", said Labour, accusing the Conservative-led government of wasting the 75 million pound cost of running the polls. The Electoral Reform Society (ERS), a pro-democracy campaign group, said the elections had been a "comedy of errors".The newly elected police and crime commissioner will have the power to control budgets, set policing priorities, and hire and fire chief constables.
Image Credits: BBC News, The Telegraph