Isnin, 16 Mei 2011

The Star Online: World Updates

The Star Online: World Updates

UK's coalition backs minister on driving ban claim

Posted: 16 May 2011 07:13 AM PDT

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's ruling coalition backed environment minister Chris Huhne on Monday after police said they were studying career-threatening claims he dishonestly avoided a driving ban.

Chris Huhne waits to deliver his speech at the Liberal Democrat Party's conference in Liverpool, northern England September 21, 2010. (REUTERS/Phil Noble/Files)

Huhne, one of the junior coalition partner Liberal Democrats' most senior politicians, denies allegations made by his estranged wife that he pressurised another person to take the blame for a speeding offence in 2003.

If proved, the claims could end the career of the former journalist and financial expert who has been seen as a potential successor to party leader and deputy prime minister Nick Clegg.

Huhne is preparing to announce a legally binding deal to drastically cut greenhouse emissions and his departure would be a blow to Britain's climate change programme, as well as forcing an early reshuffle of cabinet positions.

The claims came to the fore this weekend as newspapers published accounts of a phone call between Huhne and the person alleged to have been asked to cover up his driving offence.

On Monday morning Huhne met with Clegg, a spokesman for the deputy prime minister said.

"Chris Huhne denied all the allegations and Nick has accepted that," the spokesman said.

Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron also gave Huhne his backing. Cameron's official spokesman said the prime minister had "full confidence" in Huhne.

Police in Essex, east of London, where the offence is said to have occurred, said they were investigating the reports.

"Officers will be working over the next few days to establish if this offence took place and the circumstances around it. Based on the evidence a decision will then be made (whether) to launch an investigation," an Essex police spokesman said.

Huhne said he welcomed the involvement of the police.

"These allegations are simply incorrect, they have been made before and they have been shown to be untrue, and I very much welcome the referral to the police, as it will draw a line under the matter," Huhne said.

(Additional reporting by Adrian Croft and Matt Falloon)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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Irish militants warn of bomb in central London

Posted: 16 May 2011 07:13 AM PDT

LONDON (Reuters) - Irish militants opposed to the peace process with Britain warned of a bomb in central London on Monday, a day before Queen Elizabeth makes a historic visit to Ireland, security sources said.

"A bomb threat ... has been received relating to central London today. The threat is not specific in relation to location or time," London police said in a statement.

A security source said the caller had used a codeword known to the police, lending credibility to the threat.

The warning came on the eve of the first visit to Ireland by a British monarch in a century and a week before U.S. President Barack Obama makes a state visit to London.

Police said earlier that a security alert had led to the closure of the Mall, a broad avenue leading to Buckingham Palace, Queen Elizabeth's residence, but refused to say what had prompted it.

Despite a 1998 peace deal mostly ending Northern Ireland's three decades of conflict, violence by dissident Republicans opposed to the peace process has been increasing in the British-ruled province.

A Northern Irish republican militant group, the Real IRA, told Queen Elizabeth, head of state of Ireland's former colonial master, last month she was not welcome on Irish soil.


British member of parliament Patrick Mercer said last year he believed militants from Northern Ireland hoped to stage attacks on the British "mainland".

The last Irish-related attack in London came in March 2001 when a powerful car bomb exploded outside the BBC's London headquarters. Police say the Real IRA, a republican splinter group opposed to the IRA's ceasefire, was behind the blast. One man was wounded.

The IRA mounted several bombing operations in England during its campaign. Such attacks were more difficult than actions in northern Ireland, since the guerrillas lacked support networks; but they arguably had more impact on the British government.

The IRA staged its most spectacular attack in 1984 when it blew up the Brighton hotel where Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was staying, along with her chief ministers. She narrowly escaped, but five people were killed.

Britain's interior ministry said in a statement: "We face a real and serious threat from terrorism ... There is a continuing need for vigilance and the public should report any suspicious activity to the police."

The police said the threat of Irish-related attacks was considered lower than the overall threat to Britain from international terrorism which remains at severe, the second heighest level on a five-step scale.

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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