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Page last updated at 07:11 GMT, Thursday, 18 December 2008
Today: Thursday 18 December 2008

PLEASE NOTE: We are unable to offer transcripts for our programme interviews. Today is broadcast live and the running order is subject to change.

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith has given up on plans to make the police more accountable by introducing direct elections to the bodies which oversee them. Home affairs correspondent Rory Maclean reports on claims that senior officers have become increasingly opposed to the idea.

After six Greenpeace activists were cleared of causing criminal damage during a protest over coal-fired power, the Attorney General wants the case referred to the court of appeal. Ben Stewart, of Greenpeace, who protested at Kingsnorth power station and Ann Widdecombe, Conservative MP for a Kent constituency near to Kingsnorth, discuss if "lawful excuse" should be used as a defence.

NHS dental patients are being overcharged by up to £109m a year, the Conservatives claim. Shadow Health Secretary Andrew Lansley says there has been a fundamental mistake in the way NHS dentistry is organised.

Business news with Adam Shaw.

Gordon Brown is to confirm to parliament that British troops will be out of Iraq by July. General Patrick Cordingley, commander of the Desert Rats in the first Iraq war, discusses the legacy that will be left in Basra.

Sports news with Garry Richardson.

The number of scientific procedures carried out on laboratory animals rose by 6% last year to just over 3.2m, the latest Home Office figures show. Science correspondent Tom Feilden gets unprecedented access to some of the country's leading research institutions to discover why.

Today's papers.

A secret political code has been found buried in the verses of the Christmas carol O Come All Ye Faithful, an academic claims. Professor Bennett Zon, the head of music at Durham University, says the carol is actually a birth ode to Bonnie Prince Charlie.

Thought for the day with The Right Reverend Lord Harries of Pentregarth.

The Conservatives are accusing some dentists of finding ways to charge twice for treatments which would normally incur a single fee. Health Secretary Alan Johnson says a new system needs time to bed in. Dr Anthony Halperin, a dentist and trustee of the Patients' Association, says the current system should be scrapped.

The Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams has issued his Christmas message. In a wide-ranging discussion, he gives his view on the economy, the situation on Iraq and the possibility of disestablishment of the Church of England.

In disturbing news for heavy metal fans, head-banging not only causes long-term head and neck pain, it can also lead to "mild traumatic brain injury", a study published in the British Medical Journal has found. Reporter Nicola Stanbridge visits a heavy metal club to discover if the advice for those head-banging - to wear a neck brace - will catch on.

Sports news with Garry Richardson.

It is thought that more than one million people in the Central African Republic - or about a quarter of its entire population - are currently affected by violence. In the fourth of his reports, correspondent Mike Thompson visits the small village of Goroumd, where bandits massacred nearly every man and boy.

The spokesman for the Interior Ministry in Baghdad, Major General Abdul Karim Khalaf, has confirmed that 23 officials from the Interior Ministry and Defence Ministry have been arrested in Iraq. Correspondent Caroline Wyatt reports on those accused of being members of the banned Baathist party, Al Awda or 'the Return', a descendant of Saddam Hussein's Baath party.

Business news with Adam Shaw.

Despite calls from protesters to end animal testing, scientific procedures carried out on laboratory animals have risen by 6%. Dr Simon Festing, executive director of lobby group the Research Defence Society, says use of animals is a small but vital part of medical research. Michelle Thew, of the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection, says the increasing numbers of animals tested is a national disgrace.

If UK troops leave Iraq by July, as Gordon Brown has outlined, it will bring an end to six years of occupation during which 178 British men and women have been killed. General Sir Mike Jackson, a former head of the army, and Patrick Cockburn, of the Independent, discuss if it has been a job well done or a disaster that has left no alternative but to leave.



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