‘Brute force’ hack of British MPs blamed on Iran amid nuclear deal tensions – report

‘Brute force’ hack of British MPs blamed on Iran amid nuclear deal tensions – report
A “brute force” attack on British MPs back in June has allegedly been traced to Iranian hackers, the Times reported citing intelligence sources. The article came as London urged Washington not to derail the landmark 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

An unsourced report by the Times claims that a “brute force” hack attack on the Parliament’s computers was attributed to Iranian hackers. The cyberattack that occurred on June 23 affected 9,000 email accounts, including those of UK Prime Minister Theresa May and other government members.

Citing “a secret intelligence assessment,” the Times wrote the June attack “is believed to be Iran’s first significant act of cyberwarfare on Britain and underlines its emergence as one of the world’s biggest cyberpowers.” 

The Times’ sources referred to alleged Iranian perpetrators as “highly capable actors in the cyberworld.” One source said: “It was not the most sophisticated attack but nor did it need to be. It is possible they were simply testing their capability.”

The timing of the publication is particularly noteworthy as it comes only a day after Prime Minister May issued a joint statement on Friday together with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron in support of the landmark 2015 Iran nuclear deal signed by six world powers plus Iran.

“We stand committed to the [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action] and its full implementation by all sides,” the three leaders said, adding that preserving the agreement “is in our shared national security interest.”

The UK, Germany, and France said that the nuclear deal “was the culmination of 13 years of diplomacy and was a major step towards ensuring that Iran’s nuclear program is not diverted for military purposes,” and that they will “take note” of the Trump’s administration intent not to certify the deal by the deadline set for October 15.

May, Merkel, and Macron urged the Trump administration and Congress “to consider the implications to the security of the US and its allies before taking any steps that might undermine the JCPOA,” including imposing renewed sanctions on Iran lifted under the agreement.

Downing Street did not comment on the Times’ article, though the newspaper said senior British officials acknowledged that “the revelation had complicated Mrs. May’s response to Mr. Trump.”

Middle East tensions: ‘‘s real objective is to make walk away from nuclear deal’ – Martin Jay to RT https://on.rt.com/8pre 

The hack attack in question targeted the private email accounts of up to 90 members of the UK Parliament, and was designed to access parliamentary user credentials by identifying weak email passwords.

Later, it was announced the attack was likely masterminded by amateur hackers rather than a state entity. Cybersecurity experts familiar with the investigation said the perpetrators were only able to break into the accounts of MPs who set up simple and easily deducible passwords.

READ MORE: ‘Iran deal not a bargaining chip’: Trump proved US can break agreements at any time, Moscow says

The revelation contradicted earlier claims that a foreign government was behind the hack, as many Western commentators immediately pointed the finger at Russia.

There is an ongoing investigation into the incident by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) and the National Crime Agency. An NCSC spokesperson told the Times: “It would be inappropriate to comment further while enquiries are on-going.”

Courtesy: RT

Brexit talks: EU, Britain say ball is in the other’s court

Six months of Brexit negotiations have passed with little progress. With British Prime Minister Theresa May due to address parliament, both sides have now said that the other is responsible for making the next move.

Union Jack flag next to exit sign

As the EU and Britain started the fifth round of Brexit talks on Monday, both sides quarreled over who was responsible for making the next move in the stalled negotiations over Britain’s departure from the bloc.

Theresa May told the British parliament on Monday that a new agreement “will require leadership and flexibility, not just from us but from our friends, the 27 nations of the EU,” adding that “the ball is in their court.”

Theresa May in the House of Commons

Key points from the speech:

– Britain will not be a member of EU institutions during the two-year “implementation” period after it leaves the union on March 29, 2019, but it will retain access to the EU single market until the implementation period is over.

– Both sides can only resolve the problem of how much Britain owes the EU if they consider the future EU-UK relationship after the implementation period.

– Britain will not revoke Article 50, which would stop the Brexit talks and keep Britain in the EU.

– Government ministries have been preparing “for every eventuality,” a hint that Britain could accept leaving the EU without a deal.

Margaritis Schina speaking in BrusselsMargaritis Schina refuted May’s claim that the EU would need to make the next move

But before May had given the speech, European Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas had told reporters in Brussels that “there has been so far no solution found on step one, which is the divorce proceedings.”

“So the ball is entirely in the UK court for the rest to happen,” he said.

Phase one troubles

The EU has repeatedly said that both sides can only discuss a new partnership agreement – which is expected to include a new EU-UK trade deal – after “sufficient progress” had been made on Britain’s exit from the union.

The first four rounds of negotiations have so far focused on three major exit issues:

– How much Britain owes the EU

– The status of the border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland

– The rights of EU citizens in Britain and British citizens in the EU after Brexit

Watch video00:55

May: ‘Our most important duty is to get Brexit right’

British leaders have criticized the EU for demanding a strict division in the talks, saying agreements on specific exit issues depend on whether both sides can agree on the terms of the post-exit partnership. But EU leaders have so far resisted that call.

Initial plans to complete phase one by mid-October have looked increasingly unrealistic after talks during the summer failed to achieve much progress.

The will to compromise

Both sides have indicated they may compromise to avoid Britain exiting the EU without any final deal.

May said in a speech in Florence, Italy in September that Britain would agree to abide by EU rules and pay into the common budget for two years after Brexit in March 2019.

She also said London would pay any outstanding amount it owed to Brussels, but did not say how much she thought the bill should be. Both sides have clashed on how to calculate the final exit bill.

Speaking to the Guardian newspaper on Monday, Danish Foreign Minister Kristian Jensen called on Britain and the EU to be flexible, saying “this will never be a 100 percent win for one side or the other side. This will be a political compromise.”

Watch video02:09

European lawmakers vote against advancing Brexit

All eyes on Brussels

EU leaders are set to meet in Brussels for a summit on October 19-20 wherethey will formally decidewhether “sufficient progress” has been made to open up phase two negotiations.

With six months of the two-year negotiating period already up, officials and business leaders have become increasingly worried that both sides may not agree to a final deal in time.

May, however, struck a confident tone during her speech on Monday, telling MPs: “I believe we can prove the doomsayers wrong.”

amp/rt (AFP, AP, Reuters)

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Trump, Syriza & Brexit prove voting is only small part of the battle

Neil Clark
Neil Clark is a journalist, writer, broadcaster and blogger. He has written for many newspapers and magazines in the UK and other countries including The Guardian, Morning Star, Daily and Sunday Express, Mail on Sunday, Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph, New Statesman, The Spectator, The Week, and The American Conservative. He is a regular pundit on RT and has also appeared on BBC TV and radio, Sky News, Press TV and the Voice of Russia. He is the co-founder of the Campaign For Public Ownership @PublicOwnership. His award winning blog can be found at http://www.neilclark66.blogspot.com. He tweets on politics and world affairs @NeilClark66
Trump, Syriza & Brexit prove voting is only small part of the battle
If voting changed anything, they’d abolish it. That might sound a bit glib but consider these recent events.

In January 2015, the Greek people, sick and tired of austerity and rapidly plummeting living standards, voted for Syriza, a radical anti-austerity party. The Coalition of the Left, which had only been formed eleven years earlier, won 36.3 percent of the vote and 149 out of the Hellenic Parliament‘s 300 seats. The Greek people had reasonable hopes their austerity nightmare would end. The victory of Syriza was hailed by progressives across Europe.

But what happened?

Pressure was applied on Greece by ‘The Troika’ to accept onerous terms for a new bailout. Syriza went to the people in June 2015 to ask them directly in a national referendum if they should accept the terms.

“On Sunday, we are not simply deciding to remain in Europe, we are deciding to live with dignity in Europe,” Alexis Tsipras, the leader of Syriza, declared. The Greek people duly gave Tsipras the mandate he asked for, and rejected the bailout terms with 61.3 percent voting ‘No.’

Yet, just over two weeks after the referendum, Syriza accepted a bailout package that contained larger cuts in pensions and higher tax increases than the one on offer earlier.
The Greek people may as well have stayed at home on 27th June for all the difference their vote made.

Many supporters of Donald Trump in the US are no doubt thinking the same.
Trump won the election by attracting working-class ‘rust belt’ voters away from the Democrats and for offering the prospect of an end to a ‘liberal interventionist’ foreign policy. Yet just nine months into his Presidency the belief that Trump would mark a ‘clean break’ with what had gone before is in tatters. National conservative members of his team have been purged, while Trump has proved himself as much of a war hawk as his predecessors. Rather than ‘draining the swamp,’ The Donald has waded right into it.

The events of 2017 plainly prove as I argued here that the US is a regime and not a genuine democracy, and that whoever gets to the White House – sooner or later – will be forced to toe the War Party/Wall Street/Deep State line, regardless of what they promise on the election trail.

Let’s get out of Afghanistan. Our troops are being killed by the Afghanis we train and we waste billions there. Nonsense! Rebuild the USA.

Brits too have had a lesson in the way ‘democracy’ works when people don’t vote the way the most powerful people in the establishment want them to. On June 23, 2016, rightly or wrongly, 52 percent voted to leave the EU. But 15 months on, the view that Britain will either never leave the EU or stay in it in all but name is growing. The government only sent off Article 50 in March, after the courts held that Brexit had to be initiated by Parliament.

Last week, Prime Minister Theresa May asked the EU for a two-year ‘transition’ period after Britain is due to leave in 2019. It’s not hard to imagine the transition period will be indefinitely extended. “I’ve been voicing that fear since long before the prime minister’s dismal speech in Florence, and I see nothing to reassure me that the referendum result will be honored,”says Peter Hill, former editor of the Daily Express.

The odds of Britain still being in the EU in 2022 are now about 3-1. And they’re shortening all the time.

Calling it now: the Uber ban doesn’t happen, Brexit doesn’t happen, Debbie McGee wins Strictly and Palace stay up👍

Again, is that what the people who voted for Brexit in 2016 wanted to happen? The issue here is not whether we think leaving the EU is a good idea, but how the referendum vote has not led to the results that people expected.

These are not the only examples of people not getting what they thought they had voted for. In 2008, the citizens of Ireland voted to reject the EU’s Lisbon treaty. Was that the end of the matter? Not at all. They were asked to vote again – a year later – and this time the EU got the desired outcome.

In May 2012, the Socialist Party candidate Francois Hollande won a decisive victory in France’s Presidential elections. Like Syriza, he pledged to end austerity.

“I’m sure in a lot of European countries there is relief, hope that at last austerity is no longer inevitable.” He declared. But guess what. Hollande didn’t end austerity. Just a year later he was pushing through a fresh round of cuts.

Proving once again the truth of the old adage: Plus les choses changent, plus elles restent les mêmes.

This wouldn’t have surprised French students of Hungarian politics as the same thing happened in Hungary in the mid-1990s. In the 1994 election Gyula Horn’s Socialist Party swept the right-wing Hungarian Democratic Forum from power, by promising to preserve the best elements of the old ’goulash communist’ system. Horn attacked energy privatization and pledged to put the interests of ordinary working Hungarians first. But the forces of Western capital had no intention of allowing any vestiges of socialism to survive in the former Eastern bloc country.

Under pressure from Western financial institutions, Horn did a spectacular U-turn, sacking genuinely progressive ministers- and appointing a neoliberal economic professor called Lajos Bokros to impose a brutal austerity program, which was far worse than anything the previous government had introduced. He also stepped up privatization.

See the pattern?

What the above examples illustrate is that regardless of how we vote, the people behind the scenes – the money men, the embedded bureaucrats, those who want to see no end to neoliberal globalization because they do so well out of it – won’t meekly accept the verdict of the people. If the ‘great unwashed’ vote the ‘wrong way,’ i.e., for Trump, for Syriza, for Brexit or for Hollande or Horn, then ways will be found to make sure that normal service is soon resumed.

There are important lessons I think here for the British Labour Party, who could be on the brink of power. Like many this week, I was hugely impressed by the speech to the conference made by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Corbyn pledged to develop “a new model of economic management to replace the failed dogmas of neo-liberalism,” and linked the rise in terrorism to neocon/liberal interventionist foreign policies.

This is heresy as far as the pro-war neoliberal elites are concerned.

Opinion polls show that Labour, which registered its biggest increase in vote share in any election since 1945 earlier this year, has a consistent lead. Establishment attack dogs have been snapping at Corbyn’s heels since day one, and its utterly naïve to think that it’ll all stop if he does get the keys to Number 10, Downing Street. In fact, the war against Jez and his closest comrades will only intensify. The good news is that Labour is already planning for capital flight and a run on the pound if it’s elected. Paul Mason, a pro-Labour commentator, has said the first six months of a Corbyn government would be like ‘Stalingrad.’

Of course, you could argue that the likes of Trump, Hollande, Horn, and Tsipras were never totally committed to the program they stood on, and they said the ‘right things’ to the people just to get elected. But even if politicians are 100 percent genuine as the veteran anti-war activist Jeremy Corbyn appears to be, the pressures on them to cave in to the powerful forces behind the curtain will be immense, especially if they are putting forward policies which the elites don’t favor.

It’s clear from recent history that in modern Western ‘democracies’ voting in itself doesn’t determine outcomes. It’s what comes afterward that’s the most important.

Follow Neil Clark @NeilClark66

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

Courtesy, RT

UK PM Theresa May proposes Brexit transition in Florence speech

 

Prime Minister Theresa May chose a hall in Florence to read her speech on the UK’s exit from the EU. She proposed a creative and deep relationship for the future with a two-year implementation period after March 2019.

Watch video01:26

May proposes two-year transition period after Brexit

Speaking in front of a grey and white map of the world with the motto “Shared History, Shared Challenges, Shared Future” British Prime Minister Theresa May read her 5,000-word Cabinet-approved speech in a building, reported to be a disused police barracks, next door to the ancient Santa Maria Novella church in Florence, Italy on Friday.

Never at home in Europe?

May suggested Britain had for geographical reasons never felt completely part of Europe and the vote to leave taken narrowly in the referendum in June 2016 was in part to regain “domestic democratic control” from the EU.

The prime minister suggested there was a profound responsibility to make the decision work and be “imaginative and creative” in making a new relationship between the UK and the EU.

May referred to the 14 papers published by the UK on Brexit and three rounds of sometimes “tough” negotiations with “concrete progress” being made on issues such as Northern Ireland and the rights of EU citizens in the UK and UK citizens in Europe.

Addressing EU citizens in Britain she said: “We want you to stay, we value you and we thank you for your contribution to national life,” and added that she wanted them to be able to continue living their lives in the same way.

“Life for us will be different,” May said but added that she hoped the EU and UK would stay as partners, “rather than as part of the EU” with a new economic relationship and a new relationship on security.

Responding afterwards to the speech, EU negotiator Michel Barnier commented on May’s “constructive spirit,” and that the sooner an orderly exit could be agreed, the sooner the EU could discuss a future relationship. He said that May’s comments on citizens’ rights were a step forward but that they had to be translated into a precise negotiating position.

UK nationals in Florence held banners ahead of May's speech as she confirmed no deal is still better than a bad deal on BrexitUK nationals in Florence held banners ahead of May’s speech as she confirmed “no deal is still better than a bad deal” on Brexit

Completely different economic partnership

Theresa May confirmed the UK would no longer be part of the single market or customs union. She ruled out both a deal on the lines of the European Economic Area (EEA), seeing a “loss of democratic control” or a European-Canadian free trade agreement which while “advanced” would represent a restriction that “would benefit neither of our economies” and could take years to negotiate.

Instead, May said “let us be creative” and find a new economic relationship with a new set of rules to set out how each side behaved in context of shared values. Asked by a UK journalist, May confirmed it would be a “completely different” relationship to anything that currently exists.

She called for a strong disputes resolution mechanism interpreted in the same way in the UK and EU but “it would not be right for one of the party’s courts to have jurisdiction over the other.”

Security

“We believe we should be as open-minded as possible on how we work together on security matters,” May said. “We share the same values in peace, democracy, human rights and the rule of law.”

She also called for new “dynamic arrangements” to tackle new security challenges in the future with a treaty between the EU and the UK. May also proposed a joint approach to world issues – on diplomacy and development.

The prime minister said the UK was unconditionally committed to maintaining European security and tackling “shared threats.”

May’s speech was delivered to an assembly of international journalists, the Mayor of Florence and Italy’s minister for EU affairs, Sandro Gozi. Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni had met with EU negotiator Michel Barnier in Rome on Thursday. In terms of international protocol, May’s appearance was unusual in that she was not in Florence on the invitation of an Italian leader or as part of an international forum as she made her third major speech on Brexit. The mayor of Florence, who was invited, published his welcome on Twitter:

 

Transitional period

May confirmed Britain was leaving the EU in March 2019 with a “strictly, time-limited period” for implementing the new processes for the new partnership after that date to cover issues such as immigration, which would be in both the UK and the EU’s interests.

However, she suggested some elements of the new partnership could be brought forward.

She proposed what she called a “clear double lock:” a guarantee for people and businesses to have time to prepare, and certainty that the transitional period would not go on forever.

She expressed understanding for the financial effects of Britain’s departure for the EU’s budget but confirmed that Britain would fulfill its responsibilities from the period of its membership and “cover our fair share” of the costs involved in the transition period and the UK’s departure.

May's speech was given in a building near the Santa Maria Novella church in FlorenceMay’s speech was given in a building near the Santa Maria Novella church in Florence

A future of the UK outside the EU

In closing, May outlined her vision for Britain’s future as a confident trading, economic state and a partnership: delivering prosperity.

She said the tone she wanted to set was one of trust and a spirit of partnership in which issues could be resolved quickly.

The next round of EU-UK talks on Brexit begins on Monday. In previous negotiations, the EU has focused on Northern Ireland and its border with EU-member the Republic of Ireland, the rights of EU citizens in the UK and the payment from the UK to settle its obligations from its period of membership – before any new relationship can be discussed. Little progress appears to have been made to date.

Commenting later, the chair of the EPP Group in the European Parliament, Manfred Weber said May had brought no more clarity to London’s position on Brexit. “I am even more concerned now,” he wrote. He also said EU citizens in the UK needed legal certainty, as he reminded the UK parliament that time for an agrement was running out fast:

Infografik Brexit Timeline Englisch

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Hundreds of soldiers deployed across UK to free up police hunting for Parsons Green bomber

Hundreds of soldiers deployed across UK to free up police hunting for Parsons Green bomber
Soldiers have been deployed across the UK to free up the 1,000 policemen hunting for the perpetrators of a terrorist attack at Parsons Green underground station in London, which injured 29. The national threat level has been raised to maximum.

READ MORE: Year of terror: Timeline of ISIS attacks in Great Britain

UK Prime Minister Theresa May said military personnel would take over guard duty at certain “protected sites,” freeing up police to be deployed on the transportation network and on streets across the country.

“For this period, military personnel will replace police officers on guard duties at certain protected sites,” May said in a televised statement.

“The public will see more armed police on the transport network and on our streets providing extra protection. This is a proportionate and sensible step which will provide extra reassurance and protection while the investigation progresses,”she added.

The use of military personnel to assist police is part of Operation Temperer, a British government measure designed to deploy troops at important security points to help police following terrorist attacks. The plan was activated for the first time on May 23 following the Manchester Arena attack in which a suicide bomber killed 22 people, many of them children, after an Ariana Grande concert.

Police say they are “chasing down suspects,” with hundreds of law enforcement officials examining CCTV footage following the London tube attack.

No arrests have been made so far, but counter-terrorism police chief Mark Rowley said the investigation was making “really good progress.”

“We’re chasing down suspects,” he told reporters, as cited by AFP.

“Somebody has planted this improvised explosive device on the Tube. We have to be open-minded at this stage about him and potential associates.”

Metropolitan Police said earlier on Friday that an improvised explosive device [IED] went off in an underground carriage. They also said the IED did not fully detonate.

The attack could have been carried out by domestically radicalized people, former Pentagon official Michael Maloof believes. Speaking to RT, he said that there is anticipation of further attacks in Europe, given the wave of terrorism that has recently hit the region.

“It is not only returning jihadists, but radicalized people who never probably got to the battlefield,” Maloof told RT.

People should go back to daily business, because “if they don’t then, then the terrorists will win,” he said. However, people should stay vigilant and report anything suspicious, as terrorists choose “soft targets” and places with low security to cause maximum damage.

“To see an object sitting in the tube and no one said anything is bizarre to me, given the heightened awareness they should already be exercising. The fact that it was not reported to authorities is troubling,” Maloof said.

Courtesy, RT

As London lures Saudi oil giant, RT looks at UK’s history of rule-bending for its questionable ally

As London lures Saudi oil giant, RT looks at UK’s history of rule-bending for its questionable ally
Serious questions are being raised over controversial proposals that could lure the multi-trillion share listing of Saudi Arabia oil giant Aramco to London. RT UK looks at some other times Britain has been accused of bending the rules for its close ally.

London is battling with stock exchanges around the world to host the lucrative float of Saudi state-owned Aramco, which is said to be valued at more than £1.5 trillion – a figure that would make it the biggest share floatation in history. A listing in the capital would be seen as a major victory for the City and boost the UK economy in the wake of Brexit.

Aramco plans to list five percent of its shares in London or another stock market in the West. Current UK rules state more than 25 percent of shares should be listed to stop a single shareholder having too much dominance.

However, proposals put forward by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) could allow for Aramco to sidestep the rules and qualify for a “premium” listing.

It is certainly not the first time Britain has let Saudi Arabia play by its own rules. From ignoring human rights abuses in the country to burying terrorism reports, the UK is not afraid to turn a blind eye to preserve its lucrative relationship with the Gulf kingdom.

What terrorism report?

A report into terrorism funding in the UK has been permanently shelved, sparking widespread condemnation amid claims the government is trying to cover up substantial evidence of Saudi Arabia funding terrorist organizations in Britain.

The report, commissioned by former Prime Minister David Cameron, will not be published because of “national security reasons” and the “vast amount of personal information” it contains, according to the government.

READ MORE: Theresa May denies suppressing report on Saudi terrorism funding to protect UK arms deals

However, critics say Prime Minister Theresa May is sitting on the report in order to protect diplomatic ties and lucrative trade deals with Saudi Arabia.

Britain and Yemen

When Britain’s part in the Middle Eastern crisis is mentioned, many people would think of Iraq, Afghanistan or Syria. But Britain’s role in the destabilization and destruction of Yemen is often lost in the mainstream media.

In the last two years, the UK has licensed the sale of £3 billion (US$3.86 billion) worth of arms to the Saudi government. The sales have come under sustained scrutiny since the start of the Saudi-led bombing campaign in Yemen.

Amnesty International says the airstrikes are killing and injuring thousands of civilians, adding that some attacks are“indiscriminate, disproportionate or directed against civilian objects including schools, hospitals, markets and mosques.”

The United Nations estimates around 2.5 million people have been displaced during the conflict, and 17,000 people have died.

Despite this, Britain appears to be turning a blind eye to the conflict, with Saudi Arabia remaining the UK’s most important weapons client.
Arms sales have included Typhoon and Tornado jets and the UK has had military personnel embedded in Saudi headquarters throughout the Yemen conflict.

Silence over human rights abuses

Saudi Arabia’s human rights record has repeatedly been called into question.

Saudi authorities continue their arbitrary arrests, trials and convictions of peaceful dissidents, curbing freedom of expression. Dozens of human rights defenders and activists continue to serve long prison sentences for criticizing authorities or advocating political and rights reforms.

Women face discrimination, as do religious minorities. Women cannot drive a car, wear clothes that “show off their beauty,”interact with men they are not related to in public, or try on clothes when shopping.

Sharia law is national law. Judges routinely sentence defendants to floggings of hundreds of lashes. Children can be tried for capital crimes and sentenced as adults if there are physical signs of puberty.

Despite this, May has no problem traveling to Riyadh to mingle with Saudi Arabia’s leaders. One of her first international visits since triggering Article 50 was to Saudi Arabia for a visit she hoped will “herald a further intensification” in relations.

Blair drops arms investigation

In 2006, Tony Blair’s government abandoned a corruption investigation into a multibillion-pound arms deal between British Aerospace Systems (BAE) and Saudi Arabia, after Saudi threats of “repercussions.”

The Serious Fraud Office was looking into allegations of fraud, corruption and bribery allegations involving the Saudi royals and BAE in its Al Yamamah arms deal.

According to court documents released in 2008, Saudi Arabia’s rulers threatened to make it easier for terrorists to attack London unless the probe was dropped – and Blair caved, claiming “British lives on British streets” were at risk.

The dropping of the inquiry triggered an international outcry, with allegations Britain had broken international anti-bribery treaties.
In 2008, the High Court ruled Blair’s government broke the law when it abandoned the investigation.

Courtesy, RT

London fire: Protesters storm town hall

  • 12 minutes ago
  • From the sectionUK
Media captionAngry protesters stormed Kensington Town Hall, demanding answers

Protesters demanding help for those affected by the Grenfell Tower fire have stormed Kensington and Chelsea Town Hall with a list of demands.

Between 50 and 60 people broke off from a protest outside to go into the council building.

One member of the public said people made homeless needed help “right now”.

After meeting survivors near Grenfell Tower, Theresa May announced a £5m fund to pay for emergency supplies, food, clothes and other costs.

There were angry scenes outside the Clement James Centre, in North Kensington, where the meeting had been held.

The Press Association reported one woman was crying at the scene saying it was because the prime minister had declined to speak to anyone outside.

Earlier, the Queen and Prince William visited a relief centre for the victims, while the missing could number about 70, the BBC understands.

Police say at least 30 people died as a result of the west London blaze and are likely to be among the 70. Three of those who died have been identified.

There was nothing to suggest the fire was started deliberately, police said.

The town hall protest began at around 15:00 BST and scores have since joined it.

Protesters outside the Town HallImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionProtesters outside the Town Hall had a list of demands for the council

At around 16:30 BST, people began to rush up the steps and make their way into the building.

One member of the public said people made homeless by the fire needed help “right now”, adding: “Nobody knows what is happening. People are so angry. Those people shouldn’t be sleeping in the street”.

The organisers of the protest said council leaders would not come out to talk to them, but had released a statement, promising to rehouse as many people locally as they could and to provide funding for those affected.

However, they refused to give out the number of people who lived in the tower block – which was one of the protesters’ demands, organisers said.

Public ‘not satisfied’ with answers

Mustafa Al Mansur, who organised the protest, said the council’s response was “flimsy” with “no concrete answers”.

“The people were not satisfied with the answers,” he told BBC News. “The people were getting frustrated and they walked towards the building. They did not force themselves inside. They got inside the main building and were in the foyer, just speaking.”

Police then arrived on the scene and formed a barricade, which Mr Al Mansur said led to “physical confrontation” between the two sides.

“We would like the chief executive of the council to make public commitments on what the council is going to do for the victims of this borough, and for all the other buildings in the borough that [could] stand the same fate at Grenfell Towers.”

Protesters inside the buildingImage copyrightREUTERS
Image captionBetween 50 and 60 protesters rushed into the council building

The £5m Grenfell Tower Residents’ Discretionary Fund, announced by Mrs May, includes the aim to rehouse residents within three weeks as close to where they lived before as possible, to pay for temporary housing in the meantime and to provide extra financial assistance.

During her meeting with survivors, the PM also said they would be consulted on the terms of the public inquiry announced on Thursday and receive state funding for legal representation.

Mrs May said: “Everyone affected by this tragedy needs reassurance that the government is there for them at this terrible time – and that is what I am determined to provide.”

Royal visit

The Queen and Duke of Cambridge met volunteers, residents and community representatives during their visit to the Westway Sports Centre.

The Queen paid tribute to the “bravery” of firefighters and the “incredible generosity” of volunteers now offering support.

Media captionThe Queen meets people affected by the Grenfell Tower fire

Metropolitan Police Commander Stuart Cundy said that of those who were killed, one died in hospital.

He also said there was nothing to suggest that the fire was started deliberately, and that everyone in hospital has now been identified. Police say some of those killed in the fire may never be identified.

The fire broke out shortly before 01:00 BST on Wednesday.

It tore through all floors of the building and took more than 200 firefighters 24 hours to bring it under control.

Mahad Egal, who escaped his fourth floor flat with his family, said: “At first it seemed it was controllable, but really quickly the fire started to rise as the cladding caught fire. It is incredible we survived.”

Emergency services are spending a third day searching for bodies in the burnt-out Grenfell Tower in North Kensington.

Fire chiefs say they do not expect to find more survivors. Police have launched a criminal investigation into the fire and PM Theresa May has ordered a public inquiry.

The Queen being shown food suppliesImage copyrightPA
Image captionHer Majesty was shown the food supplies donated to those made homeless by the fire

The prime minister faced criticism for not meeting survivors on a visit to the scene on Thursday, unlike Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Mayor of London Sadiq Khan.

When Leader of the Commons Andrea Leadsom visited the scene, a man shouted: “Why are Sadiq Khan and Corbyn coming down here to speak to people and Theresa May is coming here with police, walking around, not meeting no-one, not meeting families?

“Enough is enough, I have got friends in that tower. We have a right to be angry.”

Downing Street said the purpose of her visit was to get a briefing from emergency services and she later announced a public inquiry.

But former cabinet minister Michael Portillo said the prime minister “didn’t use her humanity”.

Prime Minister Theresa May with firefightersImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionThe prime minister spoke to fire commissioner Dany Cotton as she surveyed the damage

So far in the investigation:

  • Six victims of the blaze have been provisionally identified by police
  • A total of 24 people remained in hospital – 12 in a critical condition
  • A criminal investigation has been launched
  • MPs have called for the public inquiry to be “swift” and get answers on safety as quickly as possible
  • Mr Khan has written an open letter to the prime minister, calling for her plan to help the community “as a matter of urgency”.
  • Mrs May is chairing a cross-Whitehall meeting on how to help the community recover
  • UK councils are carrying out urgent reviews of their tower blocks, according to the Local Government Association
  • The British Red Cross has launched an appeal to raise money for those affected
  • The emergency number for people concerned about friends and family is 0800 0961 233
Media captionMetropolitan Police Commander Stuart Cundy said the recovery is being done with dignity

The leader of Kensington and Chelsea Council told BBC Two’s Newsnight it would not use the type of cladding fitted to Grenfell Tower on other buildings in the borough.

The cladding – installed on the tower in a recent renovation – has come under scrutiny, with experts saying a more fire resistant type could have been used.

Grenfell Tower

On Thursday, the first victim of the fire was named as Syrian refugee Mohammed Alhajali, 23.

The Syria Solidarity Campaign said Mr Alhajali, a civil engineering student, had been in a flat on the 14th floor when the fire broke out, and had spent two hours on the phone to a friend in Syria.

Media captionVictim’s brother recounts final call: “He said: ‘Why did you leave me?’.”

He had been trying to get through to his family while he was waiting to be rescued.

His older brother, Omar, told the BBC he had lost Mohammed on the way out of the building.

Two other victims have also been named.

Five-year-old Isaac Shawo reportedly got separated from his family in the smoke and later died.

Artist and photographer Khadija Saye, 24, lived on the 20th floor and also died.


At the scene

By Peter Hunt, BBC royal correspondent

This is the British monarchy, in action, showing it has learnt from its mistakes of the past.

Mistakes that have included the significant time that elapsed before the Queen visited the site of the Aberfan disaster in the 1960s and the “Show us you care” newspaper headlines that were printed 20 years ago, in the days following the death of Diana, Princess of Wales.

As Theresa May is learning to her cost, it is a tragedy with a growing political dimension. There is a howl of pain and anger being directed at an establishment which has the royals at its heart.

There’s the talk of the divide between rich and poor. The Queen’s grandson is a millionaire prince living in a palace in the same borough as Grenfell Tower.

In coming to the site, the Queen was acting as “head of the nation” – a focal point at a moment of considerable pain. She was also providing her prime minister with a masterclass in how to respond on such occasions.

Read more from Peter Hunt here


Stories of how people managed to escape have also emerged.

Christos Fairbairn, 41, a resident who lived on the 15th floor, described how he collapsed while fleeing the building, only to be rescued by a firefighter.

“I can’t believe I am alive,” he said. “I will never forget what happened and how traumatising it was. I know I will never live in a tower block again.”

Meanwhile, it has emerged that Elpidio Bonifacio, a partially blind man in his 70s, was rescued from his 11th-floor flat after having been seen at the window waving a jumper.

His son Gordon, 41, said on Facebook that his father was now in intensive care.

Media captionLabour leader Jeremy Corbyn visited the site and spoke to locals

Rydon, the company that carried out the £8.6m refurbishment of the tower, welcomed the public inquiry, but said it had met all building and fire regulations, plus health and safety standards.

Housing minister Alok Sharma said the government was working with the local authority to ensure that “every single family will be rehoused in the local area” – but Kensington and Chelsea Council said it may “have to explore housing options… in other parts of the capital.”

Media captionOne eyewitness said he saw people blinking lights within the building