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Page last updated at 07:24 GMT, Wednesday, 17 February 2010
Today: Wednesday 17th February

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Less than a third of juries fully understand a judge's legal directions, a new study has found. And passports belonging to the alleged killers of a top Hamas official in Dubai are fraudulent, the British and Irish governments have said.

More than two-thirds of juries in criminal trials in England and Wales do not understand the legal directions given to them by a judge, a two-year study for the Ministry of Justice has found. Professor Cheryl Thomas, from the faculty of Laws, University College London, and the report's author, explains the results.

Shadow environment secretary Nick Herbert and Sunday Times columnist Andrew Sullivan are to attend a debate on conservatism and homosexuality in Washington. The event, Is There a Place for Gay People in Conservatism and Conservative Politics? will examine how far American politics has come in accepting gay politicians, and they will use it to compare progress to the Conservative party in the UK. Mr Herbert and Mr Sullivan reflect on how far barriers to homosexuality in the Conservative party have broken down.

The business news with Adam Shaw.

American singer Lady Gaga has scooped a Brit Awards hat-trick, winning all three prizes she was nominated for including best international female and breakthrough act. British stars Lily Allen and JLS also picked up awards. Colin Paterson reports from the Brit Awards ceremony.

Thousands of deer in Scotland are dying from starvation because of the cold and snowy as estate owners prepare for their worst losses in more than a decade. Robbie Kernahan, director of deer management at the Deer Commission for Scotland, explains efforts to save the country's deer populations.

Sports news with Rob Bonnet.

Babies who fail to reach a certain stage of development by the age of nine months are more likely to struggle at school and be less well behaved by the age of five, according to the Millennium Cohort Study. The new analysis provides further evidence of life inequalities setting in from an early age. Professor Heather Joshi, the group's director, considers how government policies affect behaviour trends.

The paper review.

An opera of influential film Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song is to open this week, made by the film's African-American film director Melvin Van Peebles. The movie brought the black man's fight against white authority to the big screen and went onto influence the so-called black exploitation films of the 1970s. Reporter Nicola Stanbridge spoke to Mr Van Peebles about the original film and his new opera.

Thought for the day with Canon Lucy Winkett of St Paul's Cathedral.

Passports belonging to the alleged killers of a top Hamas official in Dubai are fraudulent, the British and Irish governments have said. Mahmoud al-Mabhouh was assassinated in a Dubai hotel room by killers dressed in disguises and using false passports. Security correspondent Gordon Correra outlines the case. Dr Ronen Bergman, author of The Secret War with Iran and a senior security and intelligence correspondent for Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, and Dr Rosemary Hollis, Middle East security expert at City University, London, consider how the murder will affect relations in the region.

Less than a third of jurors in England and Wales fully understand the legal directions explained to them by a judge, and one or two jurors in every high-profile trial find it difficult to ignore media coverage of the case, according to a major new study conducted for the Ministry of Justice. The report recommends that jurors be given guidelines outlining their responsibilities including a warning not to search the internet for information about the trial. Clive Coleman, the BBC's legal affairs analyst, outlines the findings. Keith Cutler, a senior circuit judge, and Bob Satchwell , head of the Society of Editors, debate whether media coverage of a trial influences a jury.

Yesterday the Today programme spoke to broadcaster Ray Gosling about the revelations that he smothered his ailing lover who was suffering from Aids. The interview prompted many listeners to contact us with their views of mercy killings and of their experiences. During the interview Mr Gosling claimed that doctors actively collude with families to help patients end their life. Dr Victoria Wheatley, consultant of palliative care at Prince Charles Hospital, Merthyr Tydfil, reacts to Mr Gosling's comments.

Sports news with Rob Bonnet.

A specialist surgeon from Oxford has returned from helping victims of the Haiti earthquake. During his three-week trip Professor Christopher Bulstrode carried out 500 operations. Prof Bulstrode describes his experiences treating people affected by the disaster.

The business news with Adam Shaw.

Forty years ago the CIA recruited and trained a group of hill people in Laos to help fight the north Vietnamese in what became known as the "secret war". The Hmong fought as guerrilla jungle units, blocking the Ho Chi Minh Trail and rescuing downed US pilots. More bombs were dropped on Laos during that time than in the whole of Western Europe in World War Two. After the communists took control of Laos the Hmong became targets for persecution and many fled to Thailand. Now they are being sent back and feel abandoned by the US, and believe they will be killed. Alastair Leithead " STYLE="LINK_Inline">reports on the Hmong's struggles.

A Labour MP has been forced to apologise for allegedly describing the Conservatives as "scum-sucking pigs" on his Twitter account. David Wright claims he did not write the comments and that his Twitter account was hacked into. Rupert Goodwins, editor of ZDNet, a technology news and reviews website, " STYLE="LINK_Inline">discusses how easy it is to hack into somebody's Twitter account.

The Motor Neurone Disease (MND) Association is calling on the government to launch a national strategy to improve quality of life and achieve dignity in death for those with the disease. The disease slowly shuts down the body so that eventually it cannot move or swallow. Chris Woodhead, a former head of Ofsted who has MND, is spearheading the campaign, " STYLE="LINK_Inline">outlines the need to improve facilities for people with MND.



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