Radio Four 18:00hrs News Script

THE HEADLINES AT 1800 ON WEDNESDAY 27TH FEBRUARY

BBC News at six o'clock. This is Annie McKie. Good evening.

Police searching for bodies at a former children's home on Jersey say more than 160 people have now come forward with claims of abuse, identifying 40 potential suspects.

There's been a major security breach at the House of Commons, with environmental campaigners climbing onto the roof of the House of Commons.

Government plans to cut welfare hand-outs to addicts as part of its new drug strategy have been described as a gimmick by the Conservatives.

Property owners have been counting the cost of the damage caused by the strongest earthquake to hit the country in a quarter of a century.

A Lancashire shopkeeper has been told he won't face a murder charge after the man who tried to rob him was stabbed to death with his own knife.

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JERSEY

The scale of the police investigation into allegations of child abuse on Jersey is becoming clearer. Detectives say more than a hundred and sixty victims have come forward, and around forty people are now suspects -- including former care workers. Search teams have also broken into a cellar at the Haut de le Garenne care home, where a child's remains were discovered on Saturday, and say a sniffer dog has indicated there is something suspicious inside. Reporting from Jersey, our correspondent, Jane Peel:

PEEL: The police teams, forensic scientists and the specialist search dog trained to detect human traces and blood resumed work this morning. The task to get into a bricked-up cellar beneath part of this former care home. The chief investigating officer Lenny Harper said that by the afternoon they'd gained partial access to the room:

HARPER ACT: We've been able to send our forensic examiner in there for a very brief and quick look. What we have also done is we have put the dog into part of the cellar where we've gained access to and we've had an extremely strong reaction from the dog in one of the areas inside the cellar. I would stress that while I'm confident that the dog has found something, there could be an innocent explanation for what the dog may have found.

PEEL: The area identified by the dog has yet to be excavated. There's a mass of debris which will have to be examined or removed. Mr Harper said they'd found what he called an item of interest, which corroborated accounts given by former residents of the home who claimed the cellar was used for sexual and physical abuse, he would not elaborate further. A forensic examiner had also identified at least one other bricked-up room. Work will continue in the morning. Mr Harper revealed that there were now in excess of a-hundred-and-sixty people saying they'd been abused. The substantial majority alleging it took place here at Haut de la Garenne:

HARPER ACT: The number has continued to increase and after the renewed media interest over the weekend, we're receiving large numbers of calls again, as are the NSPCC in London who are working with us on the enquiry. Over seventy to eighty people have called us in the last two or three days and this has imposed a huge additional investigative burden on the team that are working on the case.

PEEL: The accounts given to the police and us appear to be remarkably consistent. They relate to alleged abuse over many different decades. One man who would not be identified but said he was here for six years in the 1980's, said he had no faith in the authorities in Jersey to get to the truth. But both the police and the island's government say no stone would be left unturned to uncover what went on here.

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PORTSMOUTH

Police have re-opened an investigation into a children's home in Portsmouth, after fresh allegations were made following the inquiry in Jersey. Hampshire Police say they're making initial inquiries after a man came forward with claims about the Children's Cottage Home. A previous investigation was closed in 1996 without any charges being brought.

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WESTMINSTER PROTEST

There's been a major security breach at Westminster -- where environmental campaigners opposed to a third runway at Heathrow Airport -- have carried out one of their most audacious stunts. Five demonstrators from the campaign group Plane Stupid, climbed on to the roof of the Houses of Parliament after gaining access as visitors; they then took a lift and got up on to the top of the building through a fire escape. Despite, strenuous efforts to tighten security procedures at the Palace over recent years -- it's emerged tonight that detailed maps of the building's lay-out can still be accessed over the internet. Questions will also be asked over how the protesters managed to get banners and handcuffs through search points, and whether they had inside help. Our Political Correspondent, Norman Smith, reports:

SMITH: Westminster may now be guarded by armed police, ringed by security barriers and equipped with sophisticated airport style entry checks -- but at nine thirty this morning, the five protestors managed with some ease it seems to find their way onto one of Parliament's gothic roofs. From there, they unfurled their banners, waived to the cameras - and phoned the media:

PROTESTOR ACT: The fact that we got in here is really not as worrying or concerning as the fact that we're on a pathway to absolute chaos if we carry on with the government's airport expansion policies.

SMITH: Some two hours later, they were escorted down by police and arrested -- just as the Prime Minister was delivering this rebuke:

BROWN ACT: I think the message should go out today very clearly, that decisions in this country should be made in the chamber of this House and not on the roof of this House and it's a very important message that should be sent out to those people who are protesting.

PROTESTOR ACT: It's understood the protestors gained access to the Commons today by pretending to be visitors attending a committee hearing. Once inside, they apparently gained access to a lift up to the roof. But the speculation among MPs is that they must have received help from someone working at Westminster. Otherwise it's argued it would have been almost impossible for the intruders to find their way round the warren of corridors and doorways. And tonight there was some sympathy for the police. The Liberal Democrat, Norman Baker:

CLIP BAKER

SMITH: But, in a separate development, this evening the BBC has learned that maps with detailed floor plans for Parliament can be found on the internet. This despite the Commons authorities apparently being warned about it after a previous security breach in 2004. While today's events have inevitably raised further questions about security and access to Westminster, there appears to be a broader consensus among MPs - that whatever the security complications, nothing should be done to compromise the right of the public to visit Parliament.

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DRUG ADDICTS

Ministers have been outlining a new ten year drug strategy -- designed to help cure addicts, shut down dealers and support the victims of drug abuse. The Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, said she wouldn't tolerate people dealing drugs and bringing crime and unsocial behaviour to communities. Here's our home affairs correspondent, Andy Tighe:

TIGHE: The Government says it's now spending a record amount of money on tackling drug abuse and in the last year, it's doubled the number of drug-users getting treatment. Today, in announcing the new, ten-year drug strategy, ministers struck a more punitive note. They said they'd extend current powers so that drug dealers' assets could be seized at the point of arrest rather than conviction. And the Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, said drug-users who resisted efforts to place them on treatment programmes could see their state benefits cut:

SMITH ACT: If somebody is on work related benefit or incapacity benefit and what's stopping them from getting back into work is their drug problem, what we're saying is today is we will expect people as a minimum to come and have an appointment or meeting with a specialist treatment advisor.

TIGHE: But drug charities have warned that attempts to punish users who don't cooperate could be counter-productive, encouraging more addicts to commit crimes to support their habit. The Conservatives have condemned many of the announcements as headline-grabbing gimmicks and the Liberal Democrats' Home Affairs spokesman, Chris Huhne, said they fail to address the most serious issues:

HUHNE ACT: We've had a ten year drug strategy before, we've had the drugs tzar who's come and gone but what we have not seen is a serious improvement in the numbers admitted for custodial sentences or prison who had experience of cocaine or opiates like heroin and that's what we've really got to tackle.

TIGHE: Less controversially, the Government's says it's going to give greater priority to the families of drug users, making it easier for grandparents to win care orders and receive benefits on behalf of children whose parents can no longer look after them properly.

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EARTHQUAKE 1

Property owners have been assessing the damage to their homes and businesses after Britain's strongest earthquake in a quarter of a century. The tremor -- which measured 5 point 2 on the Richter scale -- struck just before one o'clock in the morning. The epi-centre was near Market Rasen in Lincolnshire, but tremors were felt for hundreds of miles -- as far away as Southampton, Aberystwyth in west Wales and Dumfries in south west Scotland. There've been hundreds of accounts of lucky escapes -- with only one person seriously hurt. Insurers are predicting that claims could run into tens of millions of pounds. One of the worst affected areas was Gainsborough in Lincolnshire, where our correspondent Mark Simpson has spent the day:

SFX: Broken bricks

SIMPSON: Broken red bricks lie on the street, dozens of them, the most visual evidence of the overnight quake. That's what the aftermath of a British earthquake looks like. And when chimneys started falling at one am, this is what it sounded like:

CLIP: CHIMN ENYS FALLING

SIMPSON: And looking down from a helicopter, it became clear that the impact was random, rather than sustained:

SFX: INSIDE THE HELICOPTER

SIMPSON: Perhaps the most remarkable thing you can see from the air is the fact the even though Market Risen in Lincolnshire was the epicentre, it's here in Gainsborough, more than ten miles away, where the damage seems to be at its worst. Only a small number of householders were directly affected. But almost everyone heard the rumble:

MALE VOX POP 1: The whole room is shaking and vibrating, there's crashing sounds, really felt the house was coming down. I was petrifying.

MALE VOX POP 2: I just thought it was either a bad dream. I were taking a funny turn. I was actually quite relieved when I found it was an earthquake.

MALE VOX POP 3: Basically the bed started shaking and I woke my boyfriend up and he nearly fell out of the bed, it's actually broke my bed. So it's the first time the world's ever moved for me!"

SIMPSON: Gainsborough has now returned to normal or has it? Experts say there's still a chance of an aftershock.

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EARTHQUAKE 2

While small on a global scale, scientists at the British Geological Survey have described the earthquake as a "rare beast" and "significant" for the United Kingdom. They believe it was the result of an old fault in the East Midlands rupturing. The last reported quake in the region was in 1755 -- and records show that up until then, seismic activity was more common in the area. With this assessment, here's our science correspondent, Pallab Ghosh:

GHOSH: The biggest earthquakes occur at the junction of the Earth's tectonic plates. Here, the Earth's crust becomes stressed and the plates slip suddenly. But Britain is far from these high stress areas, so the quakes we feel are much smaller and a result of the release of pressures as parts of the UK gradually shift. According to Dr David Rothery, of the Open University, the origin of these movements was fifteen hundred years ago, when most of Britain was under several hundred metres of ice:

CLIP ROTHERY

GHOSH: There are between twenty and thirty earthquakes in the UK a year that people can feel. At five-point-two on the Richter scale, the earthquake in Lincolnshire is the largest for twenty-five years. And intriguingly, it's the first of that magnitude to have occurred in the region since 1755. Records show that up until then earthquakes of that magnitude were more common. Dr Brain Bapte of the British Geological Survey is investigating whether an old fault has reopened:

CLIP BAPTE

GHOSH: Dr Bapte is asking members of the public to help his investigation. He's asking people who felt tremors last night to provide details of their experience on the British Geological Survey's website.

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BANKS

The value of shares in Britain's biggest mortgage lender -- Halifax Bank of Scotland -- fell sharply today when the bank announced lower than expected profits. The shares rallied in later trading, ending the day down seven per cent. The chief executive, Andy Hornby, predicted further troubles in the year ahead for HBOS, because of a slowing economy and the impact of the global credit crunch. His warning echoes that of Hector Sants -- the head of the Financial Services Authority -- who believes banks will clamp down on lending, following the turmoil in the American mortgage market. Here's our business editor, Robert Peston:

PESTON: It's extraordinary for shares in a bank like HBOS to drop ten per cent in just a few hours, as they did earlier today. After all, HBOS - owner of the Halifax and Bank of Scotland banks - is supposed to be a boring, risk averse supplier of services and loans to individuals and businesses. But investors are nervous about all banks. And they didn't like some of what they saw in HBOS's annual results -- notably an increase in possible losses on loans to companies and a squeeze in the profitability of its retail business. As Hector Sants - the chief executive of the Financial Services Authority - told the BBC today, the crisis in banking markets of last summer has changed the climate for banks like HBOS - possibly forever. They can no longer raise unlimited quantities of cheap money on global markets. That means their profits will be under pressure, unless and until they can pass their increased financing costs on to us. So there's a grim implication for many of us too. We'll all have to adjust to a world in which credit is harder to obtain - and more expensive.

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HEADLINES & TRAILS

You are listening to the six o'clock news on BBC Radio Four. The main news so far:

Jersey police searching for bodies at a former children's home have revealed they've received claims of abuse from more than 160 people, naming 40 suspects.

There's been a fresh security breach at the Palace of Westminster, with protestors climbing onto the roof of the House of Commons.

Still to come:

Why calling an opponent an "obnoxious little weed" isn't cricket.

And.a hundred-and-twenty-five million pound art bequest to the nation.

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ISRAEL

Two Palestinian teenagers are among a number of people who've died in a day of attacks between Israel and the palestinian territories. The violence began when Israel launched an air attack killing five people -- and, in retaliation -- a barrage of rockets were fired from Gaza, killing a man attending a college on the outskirts of Sderot. Our correspondent Tim Franks reports:

FRANKS: The pace of attack and counter attack is surging once again. Early in the day, the Israeli air force targeted a white mini van carrying a group of militants from the Islamist Hamas movement which now controls the Gaza Strip. Five of the militants were killed, their number included at least one senior figure from Hamas's paramilitary wing. A few hours later, Hamas hit back:

SXF: SCREAMING

FRANKS: The sound of pandemonium at a college in the the southern Israeli town of Sderot. One man died after rockets, fired from Gaza, hit the campus. His was the first Israeli death in nine months from the near daily missile attacks. In all, the Israeli army said that more than twenty-five rockets had been fired into southern Israel in the course of two hours today. At the same time, the Israeli army killed another militant in the north of the Gaza Strip. And in a later Israeli air strike two people were killed and seven wounded. Local doctors said that the two dead were fifteen or sixteen-years-old and three of the wounded were under ten. Three months after the start of a new round of peace talks between the Israeli and Palestinian leaderships, there's no clear sign of either progress in those negotiations, nor a dimming of the violence in southern Israel and Gaza.

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TALIBAN MOBILES

Taliban fighters in Afghanistan have given the country's mobile phone companies until tomorrow to suspend all their services at night or risk having their offices and communication towers destroyed. The warning -- posted on a Jihadist website -- comes after the Taliban suffered a number of setbacks when coalition forces eaves-dropped on their phone calls. Here's our security correspondent, Frank Gardner:

GARDNER: It's called 'SIGINT' - Signals Intelligence - and it's clearly hurting the Taliban. US, British and other NATO forces operating in Afghanistan have developed a sophisticated system of listening in on Taliban conversations and then locating where they are. It's a sign of just how damaging this can be to their operations that the Taliban have now ordered all Afghan mobile phone companies to stop their night-time services between the hours of five pm and seven in the morning. 'If those firms do not implement this decision', says their message posted to a jihadist website, 'then the mujahidin will destroy their offices and transmission towers'. British forces fighting in Afghanistan are able to call on a range of electronic warfare specialists, from ground-based troops, to technicians working out of air-conditioned land rovers, to surveillance planes flying overhead and even satellite sensors up in space. In this covert war, however, the Taliban are fighting back. Knowing they are being listened to, they often feed their enemy false information. "The Taliban" said a military source, "are clever cookies, they've had a long time to perfect their game".

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ROBBER

Lancashire Police say a shopkeeper will not face prosecution over the death of an armed robber who attacked him near his store in Skelmersdale. Tony Singh was initially questioned on suspicion of the murder of twenty-five year-old Liam Kilroe, who was stabbed with his own knife, ten days ago. Both the police and the Crown Prosecution Service said Mr Singh was the victim of a violent attack. Lisa McAlister reports:

MCALISTER: Up until he closed his corner shop and got into his car to go home, Tony Singh says it was just an ordinary day. What happened next was anything but. Out of the shadows came Lima Kilroe, a convicted armed robber on the run from police for breaching bail condition on similar charges. The twenty-five-year-old, who was armed with a knife, attacked Mr Singh, punching, biting and stabbing him. But in the struggle, Kilroe also suffered a stab wound and later died. Today, the Crown Prosecution Service said Mr Singh would not face charges over the death. Speaking through his solicitor, Nick Archer, Mr Singh said he had no choice but to defend himself:

ARCHER ACT: I was going home to my family after a day's work. I was subject to a violent and unprovoked knife attack. I tried to get away from the attacker but was left no option other than to defend myself. In the course of the attack, I was stabbed to the head, causing what could have been a life-threatening injury, and also suffered repeated stab wounds to my back. In the struggle with my attacker, I understand he suffered an injury but I do not know how the injury was caused.

MCALISTER: Detective Superintendent Mick Gradwell, believes it is an exceptional case:

GRADWELL ACT: If he'd had the opportunity to perhaps give up the takings, he wouldn't have wanted to fight. He was defending himself as someone was attacking him. I think our advice has got to be to people, don't get involved in these fights. If you can give the property away, that's the safest thing to do.

MCALISTER: Today, Mr Singh extended his sympathies to the Kilroe family. He says his deepest wish for life to return to normal.

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OIL PRICE

The price of oil reached a record high today at over a hundred and two dollars a barrel. At the same time, the dollar reached a record low in the currency markets. It has slipped below one dollar fifty to the euro. As our Economics Editor, Evan Davis explains, movements in the price of energy and the dollar are related:

DAVIS: The chain of events all starts with the weakening American economy -- the evidence suggests it is in some trouble.By way of one example, house prices have fallen five per cent in the last three months. The next link in the chain is the Federal Reserve. There is only one strategy it seems to understand -- to carry on cutting. Cutting interest rates to stimulate spending. Ben Bernanke, the chairman of the Fed has been giving evidence to congress today, sounding as though he is ready to see rates come down. That strategy has implications for the dollar. With those lower rates expected, it becomes less attractive to buy dollars, so the currency falls. In fact, against the euro, the dollar has now lost forty-five per cent of the value it had at its peak, back in October 2000. The final link in the chain takes you to oil and other commodities -- they are priced in dollars, so they get cheaper for everybody paying in other currencies. It is not surprising the dollar price tends to rise. Indeed measured in dollars, the oil price is not only at a record, it is close to its all-time inflation-adjusted high, which was reached in April 1980. That of course takes you to back to where the chain stated -- the high oil price itself threatens the US economy. Which is, at the moment, the weakest link.

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CITY NEWS

In the City, the one hundred share index has closed up 11 points at 6-thousand and 77.

On the currency markets, the pound is up four-fifths of a cent against the dollar at just under one dollar 99. Against the Euro it is down one point three cents at just over one Euro 31, making a Euro worth 76 pence.

In New York, a short time ago, the Dow Jones was up 57 points at 12-thousand 742.

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BAA

The chief executive of BAA -- the company which runs seven British airports -- is to be replaced after less than two years in the job. Stephen Nelson's tenure has been dogged by security and baggage problems, and rows over a proposed third runway at Heathrow. He'll be replaced by Colin Matthews -- a former technical operations director at British Airways.

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MICROSOFT

Microsoft has been fined more than six hundred and eighty million pounds by the European Commission for trying to squeeze out smaller rivals in the computer software industry. The commission said the company failed to comply with a 2004 ruling intended to protect Mircrosoft's competitors. This means it has now faced one-point-two billion pounds of penalties from the European Commission for acting unfairly. Our technology correspondent, Rory Cellan Jones, has the details:

CELLAN-JONES: It has been an epic battle between one of the world's most powerful companies and the Brussels regulators -- and now, it has resulted in the biggest fine that the EU has ever imposed on a business. It was back in 2004 that the European Commission ordered Microsoft to disclose the secrets behind its software to rivals to allow them to make their products work on windows computers. But the company insisted on charging what the Commission says were unreasonable prices for access to that information. The EU Competition Commissioner, Neelie Kroes, said Microsoft was the first company in fifty years of European competition regulation to be fined for failing to comply with a decision:

KROES ACT: Microsoft continued to abuse its powerful market position after our March 2004 decision requiring it to change that practice. Microsoft continued to stifle innovation. How? By charging other companies prohibitive royalty grades.

CELLAN-JONES: Microsoft says today's fine relates to past behaviour and it is now complying fully with European rulings. But what it also shows is how confident the Brussels regulators now are that they can impose their will on global businesses.

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POLICE TRIPS

Two constables with the Gwent police force have had to resign after they were caught going on trips to the seaside while on duty. Two other officers have been fined. It follows an investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission into the alleged misuse of police cars.

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CRICKET

The cricket authorities in Australia have reprimanded the Test batsman, Matthew Hayden, for calling an Indian opponent an "obnoxious little weed." The remark was directed at the bowler, Harbhajan Singh -- who has been at the centre of controversy during India's tour of Australia. Our sports correspondent, Kevin Geary, has been listening to the interview -- which was broadcast on a radio station in Brisbane:

GEAREY: India's tour of Australia has already proved one of the most acrimonious ever, and Harbhajan Singh is probably the least popular visitor down under since Douglas Jardine took his 'bodyline' bowlers there sixty-five years ago. In the simmering row over 'sledging', he was accused, but then cleared, of racially abusing Andrew Symonds. Now, he's found himself on the receiving end of a tactic more usually associated with the school playground: name-calling. It came when the Australian batsman Matthew Hayden, who'd clashed with Harbhajan during a one-day international on Sunday, gave a radio statement:

HAYDEN ACT: It's been a bit of a long battle with Harbhajan. The first time I ever met him he was the same little obnoxious weed that he is now.

GEAREY: For that, Hayden was summoned to the head's study for breaking Cricket Australia's rules forbidding the 'public denigration' of a player. But the cane stayed in the cupboard -- he was merely reprimanded. Completely overlooked was the fact that Hayden had also briefly affected a mock Indian accent during the same interview, which some way found offensive:

CLIP: RADIO INTERVIEW

GEAREY: Cricket has a long and rich tradition of sharp banter. But even its most expert practitioners would insist it should stay on the pitch, not go out on the air.

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PAINTINGS

A collection of modern art worth a-hundred-and-twenty-five-million pounds has become one of the largest such gifts ever to be made to galleries in Britain. The donation consists of paintings, photographs, drawings and sculptures by thirty-two artists including Andy Warhol, Gilbert and George, and Damien Hirst. The Tate and the National Galleries of Scotland -- who will look after the pieces -- said they would transform the nation's collections of contemporary art. Our arts correspondent, Razia Iqbal, reports:

IQBAL: This gift of more than seven hundred works of art is being described as an extraordinary philanthropic gesture. The art dealer, Anthony D'Offay, is donating work which is conservatively valued at one-hundred-and-twenty-five million pounds. He will receive twenty-six-and-a-half million pounds, which is what he paid for the works originally. The collection, entrusted to the Tate galleries and the National galleries of Scotland, is expected to transform public access to contemporary art. Sir Nicholas Serota, Tate Director, described it as unlike anything anywhere in the art world:

SEROTA: In relation to the Tate it has to stand alongside the Henry Tate donation which formed the foundation the Tate gallery. This is obviously larger, but it's transformative in a completely different way.

IQBAL: The collection will not bear the donor's name, but will be known as Artist Rooms; the fifty rooms of art, will act as a lending library for museums and galleries around the country. Curators will be able to borrow rooms of art full of Andy Warhols, or Damien Hirsts, or Joseph Beuys' for instance. Anthony D'Offay was clear that getting credit for this was furthest from his mind:

D'OFFAY ACT: We wanted to say that young people's creativity and education that is at the root of this and not money, wealth or power. And we wanted to say the power is with the artists and their creativity of young people.

IQBAL: Anthony D'Offay hoped his gift might act as an example: since its announcement, two artists, one D'Offay described as internationally known, has offered enough works to create another two rooms.

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CLOSING HEADLINES

The headlines again:

Police investigating allegations of child abuse at a care home on Jersey say they are now looking at around 40 suspects, after more than a hundred and sixty former residents contacted them.

Security at Westminster has again been brought into question after five protestors managed to slip past police and security guards to clamber onto the roof to protest against a third runway at Heathrow.

The Government has unveiled a new ten year drugs strategy, which includes reducing benefits to drug addicts who refuse treatment and seizing the assets of dealers at the moment they're arrested.

The earthquake in Lincolnshire that shook people out of their beds during the night is expected to lead to insurance claims worth many millions of pounds.

** BBC News **

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