Saturday, 28 April 2012

Michael Brown, the fraudster who donated millions to the Liberal Democrats, is to return to Britain from Spain this week to begin a seven-year prison sentence.

Brown agreed not to block the extradition process at a hearing at the National Court in Madrid.

He went on the run in 2008 after stealing £36 million by posing as a bond trader.

Extradition: Convicted fraudster Michael Brown and his wife Sharon pictured in Mallorca in 2008

Extradition: Convicted fraudster Michael Brown and his wife Sharon pictured in Mallorca in 2008

His victims included former Manchester United chairman, Martin Edwards, who was defrauded of £8 million.

Brown fled to the Dominican Republic and was convicted in his absence of fraud by Southwark Crown Court, South London.

 In 2005, he gave the Lib Dems the party’s biggest-ever donation of £2.4 million.

British police will fly to Spain this week to collect Brown, who is being held at the Soto del Real prison outside Madrid.

Glasgow-born Brown, 46, was arrested in the Dominican Republic in January where he was living under the name of Darren Nally. He was flown  to Madrid last week.

Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg said: ‘I’m pleased he’s coming back to serve his sentence. This is a convicted fraudster.’

Speaking of the donation, he said: ‘It happened before I was an MP. 

'The Electoral Commission found it was received in good faith. 

'All checks that should be made were made.’

The Deputy Prime Minister has insisted his party will not repay £2.4million of ill-gotten gains Brown gave his party in 2005.

He added: ‘If we’d been shown wanting on those accounts, then of course we should pay the money back.’

And mystery continues to surround a missing £18million which police are still trying to trace.

That decision has sparked fury amid claims that even Brown thinks the Lib Dems failed to scrutinise his firm properly before accepting the cash.

Brown will face an extradition hearing this week that should lead to him being put on a plane to the UK to serve a seven-year prison sentence.

An international manhunt was launched when he went on the run after stealing up to £60million.

He was arrested in the Dominican Republic in January in the town of Punta Cana over an unrelated fraud charge.

Prosecutors in the Dominican Republic said Brown was deported to Spain at the request of British police.

The UK does not have a formal extradition agreement with the Dominican Republic, so in an elaborate deal it was agreed that he would be sent first to Spain.

If Brown does not appeal against extradition to Britain, it will have to take place within ten days.

Lavish: Brown's exclusive private gated hideaway in the Dominican Republic

Lavish: Brown's private gated hideaway in the Dominican Republic. Up until recently he was renting a property within the exclusive Arrecife estate, a resort community with its own golf courses and private beaches

A spokesman for the City of London Police said: ‘We will be taking the appropriate steps to bring him back via a European Arrest Warrant.’

Det Supt Bob Wishart added: ‘Mr Brown is a step closer to returning to the UK to start his prison sentence.

‘We hope that him facing justice will bring some closure to the victims who suffered as a result of his frauds.’

But his victims got cold comfort from the Liberal Democrats, who have repeatedly refused to hand over money to those defrauded by Brown. 

An Electoral Commission inquiry in 2009 found the Lib Dems accepted the fraudster’s donation in good faith and cleared them of wrongdoing.

Michael Brown's timeline of crime

 

Mr Clegg denied the party had a moral responsibility to hand over the money. 

Labour deputy chairman Tom Watson has published details of a draft letter written by Mr Brown, which he says is with the police, and in which the fraudster alleges the Lib Dems carried out only rudimentary checks on whether his was a legitimate company.

It says: ‘In the case of the donation made by my company, very little due diligence was undertaken.

Michael Brown made a record donation to the Liberal Democrat party which is now run by Nick Clegg

Michael Brown made a record donation to the Liberal Democrat party which is now run by Nick Clegg

‘A check was made in Companies House that the company was duly incorporated but little or no due diligence was undertaken on whether the company was trading.’

Mr Watson said: 'It’s hard not to conclude that the money should be repaid. Clearly, Mr Clegg’s party failed to conduct all proper checks.'

Labour MP Steve McCabe called for ‘proceeds of crime legislation to be used to recover money he gave Lib Dems’. 

Mike Gapes, another MP, added the ‘Lib Dems surely have a moral responsibility to pay back to his victims’.

The usual route from the Dominican Republic to the UK is via Miami in Florida. But Britain wanted to avoid a stopover there to avoid any chance of Brown being held by the U.S. authorities, who are also probing reports of him money laundering.

He is also wanted in Mallorca on fraud charges, opening the prospect that he will be sent back to Spain after completing his sentence in the UK.




Thursday, 26 April 2012

Darragh MacAnthony in court in Marbella today

Forty clients of the real estate firm say they have been defrauded by MacAnthonyDarragh MacAnthony -  Darragh MacAnthony, and other directors of the MacAnthony Realty International Company, have been called to declare today before the judge in Instruction Court Four in Marbella. They face charges of fraud and misappropriation of funds as investigations continue. They are accused of keeping some 600,000 € paid by some 40 British and Irish clients for their new homes to be furnished, but MacAnthony failed to do so. These 40 clients personally ratified their claims before the same Instruction Judge, Beatriz Fernández Gómez-Escolar, three months ago. It dates back to the period 2005 -2010 and each client had paid between 10,000 and 15,000 € for the furniture which MacAnthony said he would bring from Turkey, Bulgaria, Cape Verde, Italy, France and Morocco, where his company has branches. He obliged the clients to sign the furniture contract, but in many cases they have seen nothing. MacAnthony has since made a de facto closing of the real estate company, emptying its assets without seeking competition, and that could become a corporate crime.

British man arrested after supermarket break-in in Mijas

A British resident of Marbella has been arrested by Mijas Local Police and handed to the National Police in connection with a robbery in the early hours of Wednesday from a branch of a supermarket chain in Las Lagunas. It happened at 4.30 am when a patrol car from the National Police observed how security guards were trying to enter the building, when the alarm went off. One of the railings had been broken to gain access, but neither the National Police nor the security guards found anyone inside. However a man was seen running off the in the direction of Avenida de Andalucía. A Local Police patrol, not involved up to now saw the man running suspiciously and so they stopped to question him. The Briton, who is 36 and has the initials C.E.P. was handed over to the National Police.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Reopen Madeleine case, police urge

Scotland Yard has urged Portuguese authorities to reopen the search for Madeleine McCann as detectives said there are 195 potential leads to finding her alive. The detective leading the Metropolitan Police review said the case can still be solved before officers released a picture of what she might now look like as a nine-year-old. Detective Chief Inspector Andy Redwood said he believes her disappearance was a stranger abduction, as he said there are 195 "investigative opportunities". Police refused to say what evidence they had uncovered to suggest Madeleine is alive. Mr Redwood confirmed that his team of more than 30 officers involved in the case had been out to Portugal seven times, including a visit to the family's holiday flat in Praia da Luz. It will be five years ago next week since the three-year-old went missing as her parents, Kate and Gerry McCann, dined with friends nearby. A spokesman for the McCanns said the family was pleased with the image. Mr Redwood said his 37 officers had dealt with 40,000 pieces of information but the "primacy still sits in Portugal" in the attempt to find her. Commander Simon Foy said: "Most significantly, the message we want to bring to you is that, on the evidence, there is a possibility that she is alive and we desperately need your help today to appeal directly to the public for information to support our investigation." Mr Redwood said "evidence that she is alive stems from the forensic view of the timeline" that there was the opportunity for her to be taken. Investigations show "there do appear to be gaps", he added. Detectives in Portugal are also understood to want the case reopened but must gain judicial approval via the courts.

Insecure websites to be named and shamed after checks

Companies that do not do enough to keep their websites secure are to be named and shamed to help improve security. The list of good and bad sites will be published regularly by the non-profit Trustworthy Internet Movement (TIM). A survey carried out to launch the group found that more than 52% of sites tested were using versions of security protocols known to be compromised. The group will test websites to see how well they have implemented basic security software. Security fundamentals The group has been set up by security experts and entrepreneurs frustrated by the slow pace of improvements in online safety. "We want to stimulate some initiatives and get something done," said TIM's founder Philippe Courtot, serial entrepreneur and chief executive of security firm Qualys. He has bankrolled the group with his own money. TIM has initially focused on a widely used technology known as the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL). Experts recruited to help with the initiative include SSL's inventor Dr Taher Elgamal; "white hat" hacker Moxie Marlinspike who has written extensively about attacking the protocol; and Michael Barrett, chief security officer at Paypal. Continue reading the main story “ Start Quote Everyone is now going to be able to see who has a good grade and who has a bad grade” Philippe Courtot Many websites use SSL to encrypt communications between them and their users. It is used to protect credit card numbers and other valuable data as it travels across the web. "SSL is one of the fundamental parts of the internet," said Mr Courtot. "It's what makes it trustworthy and right now it's not as secure as you think." Compromised certificates TIM plans a two-pronged attack on SSL. The first part would be to run automated tools against websites to test how well they had implemented SSL, said Mr Courtot. "We'll be making it public," he added. "Everyone is now going to be able to see who has a good grade and who has a bad grade." Early tests suggest that about 52% of sites checked ran a version of SSL known to be compromised. Companies who have done a bad job will be encouraged to improve and upgrade their implementations so it gets safer to use those sites. The second part of the initiative concerns the running of the bodies, known as certificate authorities, which guarantee that a website is what it claims to be. TIM said it would work with governments, industry bodies and companies to check that CAs are well run and had not been compromised. "It's a much more complex problem," said Mr Courtot. In 2011, two certificate authorities, DigiNotar and GlobalSign were found to have been compromised. In some cases this meant attackers eavesdropped on what should have been a secure communications channel. Steve Durbin, global vice president of the Information Security Forum which represents security specialists working in large corporations, said many of its members took responsibility for making sure sites were secure. "You cannot just say 'buyer beware'," he said. "That's not good enough anymore. They have a real a duty of care." He said corporations were also increasingly conscious of their reputation for providing safe and secure services to customers. Data breaches, hack attacks and poor security were all likely to hit share prices and could mean they lose customers, he noted.

Anti-depressants likely do more harm than good, study suggests

Commonly prescribed anti-depressants appear to be doing patients more harm than good, say researchers who have published a paper examining the impact of the medications on the entire body. See Also: Health & Medicine Pharmacology Birth Defects Mental Health Research Mind & Brain Depression Disorders and Syndromes Psychiatry Reference COX-2 inhibitor Psychoactive drug Seasonal affective disorder Anti-obesity drug "We need to be much more cautious about the widespread use of these drugs," says Paul Andrews, an evolutionary biologist at McMaster University and lead author of the article, published recently in the online journal Frontiers in Psychology. "It's important because millions of people are prescribed anti-depressants each year, and the conventional wisdom about these drugs is that they're safe and effective." Andrews and his colleagues examined previous patient studies into the effects of anti-depressants and determined that the benefits of most anti-depressants, even taken at their best, compare poorly to the risks, which include premature death in elderly patients. Anti-depressants are designed to relieve the symptoms of depression by increasing the levels of serotonin in the brain, where it regulates mood. The vast majority of serotonin that the body produces, though, is used for other purposes, including digestion, forming blood clots at wound sites, reproduction and development. What the researchers found is that anti-depressants have negative health effects on all processes normally regulated by serotonin. The findings include these elevated risks: developmental problems in infants problems with sexual stimulation and function and sperm development in adults digestive problems such as diarrhea, constipation, indigestion and bloating abnormal bleeding and stroke in the elderly The authors reviewed three recent studies showing that elderly anti-depressant users are more likely to die than non-users, even after taking other important variables into account. The higher death rates indicate that the overall effect of these drugs on the body is more harmful than beneficial. "Serotonin is an ancient chemical. It's intimately regulating many different processes, and when you interfere with these things you can expect, from an evolutionary perspective, that it's going to cause some harm," Andrews says. Millions of people are prescribed anti-depressants every year, and while the conclusions may seem surprising, Andrews says much of the evidence has long been apparent and available. "The thing that's been missing in the debates about anti-depressants is an overall assessment of all these negative effects relative to their potential beneficial effects," he says. "Most of this evidence has been out there for years and nobody has been looking at this basic issue." In previous research, Andrews and his colleagues had questioned the effectiveness of anti-depressants even for their prescribed function, finding that patients were more likely to suffer relapse after going off their medications as their brains worked to re-establish equilibrium. With even the intended function of anti-depressants in question, Andrews says it is important to look critically at their continuing use. "It could change the way we think about such major pharmaceutical drugs," he says. "You've got a minimal benefit, a laundry list of negative effects -- some small, some rare and some not so rare. The issue is: does the list of negative effects outweigh the minimal benefit?"

Madeleine McCann, the British girl who went missing while on holiday in Portugal half a decade ago, could still be alive, Scotland Yard said on Wednesday.

Madeleine McCann as she might look aged 9
Madeleine McCann as she might look aged 9  Photo: Teri Blythe

Detectives released a new “age progression” image of the toddler, which they said showed what she would look like today at the age of nine.

On Wednesday, Britain’s biggest police force said that as a result of evidence uncovered during a review “they now believe there is a possibility Madeleine is still alive”.

Officers have so far identified nearly 200 new items for investigation within historic material and are also “developing what they believe to be genuinely new material”.

Scotland Yard urged Portuguese authorities to reopen the search for her amid the new "investigative opportunities".

Police said the image, created ahead of what would have been her ninth birthday on May 12, had been created in “close collaboration with the family”.

Monday, 23 April 2012

PAIR of British expats have filed a denuncia after losing thousands of euros in an apparent investment scam.

Brothers Malcolm, 66, and Ken Nall, 68, invested 6,000 euros in a French wind farm scheme through a Marbella-based finance company last year. Sold as a reliable three-year bond, they were promised an annual return of 9.5 per cent on their investment through firm Finance Energy. However, alarm bells started to ring after they failed to get their first payment on March 4. “When we called the company, there was no reply,” Malcolm told the Olive Press. “They have apparently taken our money and vanished.” He added: “It’s a lot of money for us because we’re pensioners.” The pair, from the Midlands, have failed to locate representative Gary Oliver, who sold them the scheme. They insist the police don’t seem interested and they are being ‘passed from pillar to post’. “It annoys me to think we’ve been ripped off and the police don’t seem bothered,” Malcolm added. “Clearly we were naïve, but we hope noone else gets caught out.” When the Olive Press attempted to contact Finance Energy, both numbers were disconnected, while the website www.fin-energy.com is no longer in use. Craig Edmonds, from 123 Marbella Internet Services, which manages the site, said: “Legally I am not able to disclose any details of customers or comment on activities, but I have forwarded your email to the current owner.” Firms who solicit investment funds must be authorised by the Spanish CNMV. A search of the regulatory body’s company register revealed no trace of Finance Energy.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

police hunt for Michael Brown's missing millions

British police are still trying to trace £18m allegedly stolen by the Liberal Democrats' fugitive donor Michael Brown, who is expected to be extradited to Britain within the next 10 days. Brown, 46, was in a holding cell near Madrid airport on Sunday, having been deported from the Dominican Republic, where he had been on the run from UK authorities for three years. Brown, who gave £2.4m to the Liberal Democrats before the 2005 general election, is not expected to challenge a formal move to extradite him to London which has already been set in motion. He was convicted of theft and false accounting in his absence in Britain in 2008 and sentenced to seven years in jail. Detectives are still trying to trace around £18m of Brown's stolen money, which had been moved between his accounts in the US, Britain and Switzerland, the Guardian understands. Brown was estimated to have stolen more than £60m in a number of frauds. Most of his assets have been accounted for in property deals, a Bentley, a yacht and the private jet once used to fly senior Lib Dems across the UK. However, more than £18m has not yet been accounted for. "The file at Interpol on Brown and his associates remains open," a source told the Guardian. Brown's return will be another embarrassing development in the long-running saga over the Lib Dems' biggest single donation. The party has refused to compensate any of Brown's victims, claiming it received the money in good faith and spent it on the 2005 election campaign. Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg welcomed Brown's return to Britain but said on Sunday that the party would not be returning his donation because the Electoral Commission had concluded the money had been received in good faith. The deputy prime minister, who pointed out that the donation was made before he was elected to Westminster, told BBC1's Sunday Politics: "I'm very pleased he's coming back to serve his sentence. This is a convicted fraudster. "I should stress that this is something which happened as far as the Liberal Democrats are concerned before I was even an MP, yet alone leader of the Liberal Democrats. What I've been told is that the Electoral Commission in 2009 looked at this exhaustively – as far as the receipt of that money by the Liberal Democrats from one of his companies. They categorically concluded that the money was received in good faith and all the controls, all the checks that should have been made were reasonably made by the Liberal Democrats at the time. If we'd been shown wanting on those accounts then of course we should pay the money back." But Brown's return will increase focus on the Electoral Commission inquiry into Brown's donations. The inquiry failed to call the Lib Dems' former treasurer, Reg Clark, who resigned over Brown in 2005 and warned advisers to the former Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy that Brown should be treated with extreme caution. One of Brown's victims said the Lib Dems should return the money. Tony Brown, managing partner at law firm Bivonas which represents US attorney Robert Mann who lost more than $5m (£3m), said Brown may be asked to give evidence as part of his client's claim against the Lib Dems. "The Lib Dems have refused to repay this money to our client even though they know that this is the proceeds of crime. The Electoral Commission has failed to investigate this properly in our view. So now that Brown is returning to the jurisdiction, we can investigate again and establish the basis on which the Lib Dems received this money." Brown is expected to appear before a Spanish court to confirm his name and will then appear before an extradition hearing within 10 days. City of London police, who first uncovered Brown's fraud, confirmed his deportation. Detective Superintendent Bob Wishart said: "We hope that him facing justice will bring some closure to the victims who suffered as a result of his frauds." A close friend of Brown's told the Guardian on Sunday that he had arrived in Spain on Saturday after "volunteering" for deportation from the Dominican Republic, where he has been hiding for three years under the name of Darren Nally. "He asked to return to Britain. He is going home to face the music," the friend said. Brown appeared to come from nowhere when the party was paid £2.4m in the runup to the 2005 election from his company 5th Avenue Partners. A fast-talking and brash Glaswegian, he had walked into the party's then headquarters in Cowley Street and offered it money. He was not registered to vote, had no interest in politics and had never been a party member, but said he was giving the money to create an even playing field. Brown wined and dined with Charles Kennedy and other party grandees, and used his private jet to fly Kennedy across the country during the election campaign. Former Lib Dem insiders say he dazzled them with stories of Gordonstoun public school, St Andrews University and his connections with royalty and the US government. The truth was that he had attended his local school and completed a City and Guilds in catering at Glasgow College of Food Technology. He had no US government links – although he was wanted in Florida for cheque fraud. He was arrested in late 2005 after four former clients said he had duped them out of more than £40m in a high-yield fraud. His victims included Martin Edwards, the former Manchester United chairman, who had invested £8m with 5th Avenue Partners. The court would later be told that 5th Avenue Partners was wholly fraudulent and Brown had given money to the Lib Dems to give himself an air of respectability while duping his victims. The party had been used as part of his cover story, a judge said. In June 2008, while awaiting trial, Brown fled and a warrant was issued for his arrest. In the weeks before he disappeared, from his Hampstead bail address in north London, he changed his name on the electoral roll to Campbell-Brown and allowed his hair to turn grey. He travelled to the Dominican Republic where he enjoyed a millionaire's lifestyle while on the run. He lived in gated communities yards from some of the most pristine beaches in the Caribbean, drove a series of 4x4 vehicles and was a regular at exclusive golf courses. In Punta Cana, an exclusive resort on the eastern tip of the island, he could often be seen walking his dog – named Charles, after the former Lib Dem leader. He was arrested in Punta Cana in January on unrelated fraud allegations.

Donaldson enjoyed a lavish lifestyle in Marbella and Tenerife, trafficking accused found hiding in loft with £70k in cash

 A SUSPECTED drug trafficker was found by police hiding in a farmhouse loft in Scotland with a bag stuffed with £70,000, a Spanish court was told last week. Ian Donaldson, 32, is accused of helping fund an international drugs ring smuggling cocaine and speed from Spain to Scotland The former amateur racing driver – who drove a Lamborghini with the distinctive Lambo 88 plate – was tracked down to the farm by officers from the Scottish Crime and Drugs Enforcement Agency. Donaldson – who enjoyed a lavish lifestyle in Marbella and Tenerife– is one of six Brits facing court in Madrid accused of making millions from the drugs trade. Detective Inspector James Wallace of the SCDEA told the court: “I arrested him on February 27, 2009. He was hiding in a loft area in a farm building. We also found £70,000 hidden in a bag.” Eight SCDEA detectives gave evidence to the National Court in the Spanish capital last week via a video link from Edinburgh. The court heard Scottish police mounted a surveillance operation after Donaldson, from Renton, Dunbartonshire, was released on bail. Detectives watched him in a series of meetings in Glasgow and Hamilton in April 2009, as he tried to hide the origins of his fortune, prosecutors allege. Donaldson met with fellow accused Mary Hendry and Joseph Campbell and was observed discussing large sums of money and swapping paperwork for a nightclub in Gran Canaria. It was alleged they were secretly plotting to make it look like Donaldson had made some of his wealth from the club. Meetings took place at supermarkets in Glasgow and Hamilton and the Mitchell Library in Glasgow. DI Wallace told the court: “We saw he (Donaldson) was creating a defence for the Spanish charges. “I believe they (Hendry and Campbell) were both subservient to Donaldson, who instructed them on what to do.” The detective said Donaldson and his company IRD Services were also investigated for money- laundering in Scotland. He added: “There is evidence he purchased seven vehicles in Scotland, worth up to £900,000, between 2006 and 2008.” Mary Hendry told the court she only met Donaldson twice for legitimate business meetings. She said: “Joseph Campbell introduced me to Ian Donaldson because I was trying to sell my restaurant. “I met him the next day and he said he was not interested. I never saw him again.” It is alleged Donaldson was the money man for a gang of drug smugglers based in Tenerife and Marbella, led by Glaswegian Ronald O’Dea, 45. The gang are alleged to have spent millions on luxury villas, fast cars and yachts. In October 2008, police seized a a haul of amphetamines worth £660,000 heading to Scotland after stopping a lorry in Oxfordshire. Donaldson, Hendry and O’Dea share the dock in Madrid with fellow Scot James MacDonald, 62, and Londoners Steve Brown, 45, and Deborah Learmouth, 49. The gang face charges ranging from drug-trafficking to money-laundering. They deny all charges. Two other defendants – Brian Rawlings and Joseph Campbell – failed to show up at the trial. The judges will give their verdict at a later date.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Wayne Rooney launches phone-hacking claim

Wayne Rooney and England rugby union World Cup winner Matt Dawson are among the new wave of high-profile figures suing Rupert Murdoch's News International over alleged News of the World phone hacking. The England and Manchester United football star, his agent Paul Stretford, Dawson, now a BBC rugby commentator and Question of Sport team captain, actor James Nesbitt and Sir John Major's former daughter-in-law, Emma Noble, are among 46 new phone-hacking cases filed at the high court in London. Times Newspapers, the News International subsidiary that publishes the Times and Sunday Times, is also facing its first civil damages claim, from Northern Ireland human rights campaigner Jane Winter, who is also suing NoW publisher, News Group Newspapers. Winter's claim is related to an article in the Sunday Times in August 2006, her solicitor confirmed. A reference to the article was made in a witness statement she submitted to the Leveson inquiry in February. Winter alleged in evidence to the inquiry that her emails to the former British army intelligence officer Ian Hurst were hacked by NoW. A News International spokeswoman said Winter's case would be "defended vigorously". Others who have filed claims in the past few days seeking damages for alleged invasion of privacy from News Group, the News International subsidiary that published the now-closed Sunday tabloid, include former Conservative cabinet minister and chief whip Lord Blencathra and former Fire Brigades Union general secretary Andy Gilchrist. The list of new claimants also features Michelle Bayford, the former girlfriend of the victim of the 2006 so-called "elephant man" drug trial case. Her then boyfriend, Ryan Wilson, spent three weeks in a coma and lost all his toes and parts of his fingers to gangrene. Another claimant, Anne Colvin, was a witness in the Tommy Sheridan perjury trial. At a case management conference at the high court in London , Hugh Tomlinson QC, representing victims of alleged phone hacking, told Mr Justice Vos that he had 44 new cases filed while two others had submitted their claims via another legal representative. The court also heard that law firm Harbottle & Lewis has a number of "sensitive clients" who wish to remain anonymous. It is expected that up to 200 new claims will be filed over the coming months, Tomlinson told the court in a previous hearing. Claims filed in the past week bring the number of new cases against News International to 46. This figure includes earlier claims filed by public figures including Cherie Booth, Alex Best, the former wife of the late footballer George Best, and Colin Stagg, the man wrongly accused of murdering Rachel Nickell. Others who have filed claims include comedian Bobby Davro, actor Tina Hobley's former husband Steve Wallington, TV personalities Jamie Theakston and Jeff Brazier, the former boxer Chris Eubank, and footballers Peter Crouch, Kieron Dyer and Jermaine Jenas. The cases are part of a second wave of civil actions which Vos is managing following the settlement of more than 50 cases earlier this year including claims by Jude Law, Charlotte Church and Lord Prescott. Tomlinson did not disclose the names of the claimants on Friday, but court documents show that new cases submitted to the high court in the past week bring the number of new actions faced by News International to nearly 50, a number that is expected to rise considerably. Tomlinson told the court that News International had received 100 requests for discovery of preliminary disclosure. He said there were 4,791 potential phone-hacking victims, of which 1,892 had been contacted by the police. The police believed 1,174 were "likely victims". Court 30 in the Rolls Building of the high court was packed, with more than 50 law firms acting for victims. Vos said there were 58 firms of solicitors representing only 100 victims, which he told Tomlinson was "unbelievable". The judge added that he wanted to ensure costs are reduced for claimants. "Many of them have seen the light and have instructed lawyers who have specialist knowledge of this case," said Vos. He suggested possible tariffs of costs for each element of the legal action. This would mean fresh claimants could access to information relating to the News of the World's phone-hacking activity already produced on discovery in earlier cases, without incurring the costs associated with a full action. "I will have no sympathy for outrageous cost estimates," he said. "A claimant is entitled to have a solicitor, but what he is not entitled to have is a solicitor who knows nothing about the case and charges the defendant for that."

Britons living overseas defrauded 43 million pounds in benefit fraud in 2011


The British Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Iain Duncan Smith, has been visiting the Department of Work and Pensions benefits and healthcare team in Madrid. He warned Britons living abroad not to break the strict rules on what benefits they can and cannot claim. People who are pretending to live in the UK so they can collect benefits, but in fact are living overseas cost the British taxpayer 43 million pounds last year. Most of the reports of such benefit fraud came from Spain. Iain Duncan Smith commented, “We are determined to clamp down on benefit fraud abroad, which cost the British taxpayer around £43 million last year. This money should be going to the people who need it most and not lining the pockets of criminals sunning themselves overseas. The vast majority of British people overseas are law abiding, but fraudulently claiming benefits while living abroad is a crime and we are committed to putting a stop to it.” He also encouraged Britons to use the dedicated Spanish hotline to report benefit thieves. 900 554 440 or you report a benefit fraud here. The hotline has resulted in 100 people being sanctioned or prosecuted, and 134 more cases are currently under investigation. 3.1 million pounds in over payments of benefit have been identified and will be reclaimed. Source – UK in Spain - http://ukinspain.fco.gov.uk/en/news/?view=News&id=754530182 Duncan Smith made the most of his visit to Madrid and took the chance to meet with Health Minister, Ana Mato, and the Mayor of Madrid, Ana Botella. They discussed the response to the crisis with Duncan Smith calling for an end to the culture of ‘unemployment and dependency’, increasing the control on public spending and eliminating ‘the subsidies which don’t resolve problems because in some cases ‘they trap the poor’.

42 witnesses called in the Nóos Institute

The Nóos Institute court case, in which the Duke of Palma Iñaki Urdangarín has been indicted, is underway in Palma de Mallorca, and from today until Saturday the judge, José Castro, will be calling 42 witnesses. Among them are the ex Health Councillor of the Valencia Generalitat, Marina Geli, and the number two from the ESADE business school, Marcel Planellas. The testimony of the ex councillor is key to when the Duke of Palma did or did not make a break from the Institute when the palace has indicated. The Duke has claimed that his ex partner, Diego Torres, pretended to be him in order to take 180,000 € out of the Nóos Institute. The Duke said this was done without his permission, but Torres wrote a series of ‘al portador’ cheques for 2,500 €. Being below 3,000 € they were ‘protected’ from inspection. Police have seized the chequebooks which show the outflow of money, and note the initials IU in the cheque book stubs. There are allegations that the Nóos Institute paid commissions to an unidentified person in the Generalitat Valenciana.

Britons living overseas defrauded 43 million pounds in benefit fraud in 2011


The British Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Iain Duncan Smith, has been visiting the Department of Work and Pensions benefits and healthcare team in Madrid. He warned Britons living abroad not to break the strict rules on what benefits they can and cannot claim. People who are pretending to live in the UK so they can collect benefits, but in fact are living overseas cost the British taxpayer 43 million pounds last year. Most of the reports of such benefit fraud came from Spain. Iain Duncan Smith commented, “We are determined to clamp down on benefit fraud abroad, which cost the British taxpayer around £43 million last year. This money should be going to the people who need it most and not lining the pockets of criminals sunning themselves overseas. The vast majority of British people overseas are law abiding, but fraudulently claiming benefits while living abroad is a crime and we are committed to putting a stop to it.” He also encouraged Britons to use the dedicated Spanish hotline to report benefit thieves. 900 554 440 or you report a benefit fraud here. The hotline has resulted in 100 people being sanctioned or prosecuted, and 134 more cases are currently under investigation. 3.1 million pounds in over payments of benefit have been identified and will be reclaimed. Source – UK in Spain - http://ukinspain.fco.gov.uk/en/news/?view=News&id=754530182 Duncan Smith made the most of his visit to Madrid and took the chance to meet with Health Minister, Ana Mato, and the Mayor of Madrid, Ana Botella. They discussed the response to the crisis with Duncan Smith calling for an end to the culture of ‘unemployment and dependency’, increasing the control on public spending and eliminating ‘the subsidies which don’t resolve problems because in some cases ‘they trap the poor’.

British woman gets 5 years in prison for killing her husband, also British


48 year old British woman, who is named as Michell Cornell, has been given a five year jail sentence for homicide by the Court in Málaga for killing her 57 year old husband David, also British in Benalmádena in July 2010. The sentence was announced on Thursday and follows a guilty verdict in her trial by jury. She also has to pay 60,000 € in compensation to her husband’s inheritors. The husband had allegedly been ill-treating the woman for the past 18 years of marriage. On the day of the killing the woman is described as being in a ‘very excited’ state after have drunk a great deal of alcohol. She picked up a kitchen knife, went to the bedroom and stabbed her husband in the clavicle, causing his death. He had also been drinking heavily. Seeing there was a lot of blood she went to the lounge to phone for help, but she could not find the emergency number because of the state of shock she was in. Finally she went to the neighbours for help. Michelle can now make an appeal to the TSJA Andalucía High Court if she wishes. Despite the 18 years of abuse in the home the sentence explains that the woman showed ‘the clear wish to cause the death of her husband, at least during the moment of the aggression’, but both the jury and the Málaga court consider that she acted because of the ‘well-founded fear’ produced by the partial overriding of her own will. The court considered that looking at the situation lived by the woman during the years of marriage, she could have expected new aggression from her husband. The five year term was chosen as there was only one stab wound and no other signs of violence, the fear suffered by the accused, and the state of drunkenness she was in at the time. The couple lived in Urbanisation Torremuelle in Benalmádena.

Anti-Corruption prosecutors to be strengthened in Málaga

 

The State Attorney General, Eduardo Torres-Dulce, has said that there are plans to designate ‘one or two prosecutors’ more to the specialist Anti-Corruption section in the province of Málaga. He made the comment at an event where Juan Carlos López Caballero took possession as Chief Prosecutor for Málaga, a job which he was sharing with his post as Delegate from the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor, where three prosecutors work. There have been complaints from prosecutors that only 8% of civil servants who work for the administration of justice do so in the prosecutors’ office, a number described as ‘totally insufficient’.

Health Minister announces crackdown on foreigners using the Spanish Health Service


The cabinet on Friday decided to crack down on foreigners using the Spanish Health Service as part of an additional 7 billion € of cuts. They intend to toughen the conditions for inclusion on the Padrón census. Minister for Health, Ana Mato, said ‘We are going to end the abuses committed by some foreigners’. She is going to change the Ley de Extranjería which intends to put a limit to the so-called ‘health tourism’, which has seen family members of foreign residents to come to Spain ‘exclusively’ to receive health attention. Ana Mato insisted that from now it will not be so easy to come to Spain, sign the Padrón census, and obtain a health card, as it has been. ‘Just getting on the Padrón they all had the right to the health card’, said the Minister. ‘Now there will be a series of additional requirements when the Padrón is issued’. She said to guarantee the universality of the Health Service ‘for all the Spaniards’ it was necessary to stop the illegal and undue use which some foreigners have been making of this service. On Thursday the Minister met with the regions and they agreed on a new article which will ‘explicitly prohibit a person moving regions in search of health attention'. The Minister considers these measures will do away with health tourism and save 1 billion €. Ana Mato also said that she was going to revise some international conventions on the matter, given that ‘many’ countries do not repay the money they owe Spain for the health attention given here to their citizens. Among the other measures approved, the end of paying for some medicaments ‘with little therapeutic value’. A list of included medicines accepted nationally is to be prepared. The Minister said ‘We all have to collaborate with those who having a worse time’.

Ryanair threatens surcharge on flights to Spain

 

Millions of its passengers – who have already booked and paid for their flights in full – may now be asked to pay an extra fee upon departure, or be told they are not allowed to board. The airline sent an email to customers this week warning them of the backdated fare. “We may be forced to debit passengers for any government imposed increases in airport charges prior to your travel date,” its message read. “If any such tax, fee or charge is introduced or increased after your reservation has been made you will be obliged to pay it (or any increase) prior to departure”.

Friday, 20 April 2012

Mike Tyson has for the first time revealed his lowest point ever in a searingly candid interview.

Once known as the ‘baddest man on the planet’, his life has taken more than a few dark twists and turns.

But now Mike Tyson has for the first time revealed his lowest point ever in a searingly candid interview.

The former heavyweight champion said that back in 2009 he was in a hotel room with seven prostitutes, a morphine drip in his arm, a pile of cocaine and a bottle of cognac when he began to feel paranoid.

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Candid: The former world champion gave his most honest interview yet - revealing the drug-fuelled night that made him turn his life around and get clean and sober

Convinced the women were trying to steal from him he started beating them up and threw them out - to stop them from 'taking his soul'.

 

 Tyson said: ‘That’s when I realised it wasn’t just demons - it was the devil himself.

‘It was the lowest point of a very low life, but it was my own knockout punch to clean up life, get whole, get well - and I haven’t done anything in three years now. 

‘I’m clean. I’m sober.’

Tyson’s recently swapped the boxing ring for the cabaret stage in a six night comedy show at the MGM Grand Casino in Las Vegas, where some of his biggest fights took place.

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World Champion: Mike Tyson lands the knockout punch to the jaw of challenger Larry Holmes during fourth round of the World Heavyweight Championship in Atlantic City 1988

 

In an interview with Las Vegas Weekly to promote the show, he was asked to talk about the moment he realised he had to turn his life around.

Tyson, 45 said: ‘Laying in bed in a hotel room - I try never to be alone, even if it’s a prostitute, a dog. 

‘This is really dark. I am in my hotel suite, I’ve got seven women there, and I have a morphine drip, and I had my cocaine, and I had my (Viagra like pill) Cialis, I had my marijuana, I had the Hennessy, and I am at my lowest point because I got paranoid and I thought these women were trying to rob me and set me up. 

‘I started beating them. I was in a dark place. There was a purpose, though, because I didn’t want to give them any more of my soul.

‘So this is my devil, this is where I am, I am locked up alone. There is nobody there telling me that I’m doing too much. 

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Troubled: Tyson's first marriage to actress Robin Givens fell apart amid allegations of him being violent - he is now married for the third time

 

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Mug shot: In 1992 Tyson was jailed for raping Desiree Washington - a beauty pageant contestant - he was released from prison after three years

‘That is the devil, he won. I kicked them all out. So that was my lowest point. Oh, man. I am just very grateful to be here - my heart should have blown apart. I was sweating wide awake. No more cocaine. No more. Three years clean.’

In his turbulent life Tyson has been married three times, fathered eight children and became the youngest heavyweight champion the world has ever seen at just 20.

But fame ruined him and his troubled upbringing - his mother was a prostitute and he never knew his pimp father - came back to haunt him.

In the interview he claimed to have earned $300million in winnings but admitted that he was so bad with money he was ‘forced to live paycheck to paycheck’.

In 1992, three years after his first marriage to actress Robin Givens fell apart, he was jailed for six years for raping Desiree Washington, a contestant in the Miss Black America pageant.

Released having served three years, he fought Evander Holyfield in the fight that became one of the most notorious bouts in boxing history when he bit part of his opponent’s ear off.

Reflecting on his life Tyson told Las Vegas Weekly that he was now the happiest he has ever been, and is just trying to be a good husband to his third wife, and a good father to his children.

Tyson said: ‘In order to wear the crown, you have to have a miserable life, and that is the one that inherits the crown. 

‘I don’t know, you have to go from the worst to reach the best. I’m just that extreme type of person. That is who I am, the guy that has no limits.’



EU condemns Repsol state seizure

 The European Parliament has passed a resolution condemning a nationalisation that has strained relations between Spain and Argentina. Argentina has nationalised YPF, wiping out the Spanish firm Repsol's controlling-stake in the oil firm. The resolution asks the European Commission to consider a "partial suspension" of tariffs that benefit Argentine exports into the EU. Shares in Repsol has another decline, falling 2.3% on Friday. Over the week, Repsol stock has lost almost a fifth of its value. MEPs in the European Parliament said the institution "deplores" the decision taken by Argentina and describes it as an "attack on the exercise of free enterprise". Decisions such as that taken by the Argentine authorities "can put a strain on the climate of understanding and friendship needed to reach" a trade agreement between a South American bloc and the EU, it said. The resolution, which is non-binding, received 458 votes in favour, 71 against and 16 abstentions. 'Not valid' It also emerged that Repsol may be obliged to buy a minority shareholder's YPF stake if it ever lost majority control, which Repsol denied. Twenty-five percent of YPF is owned by Argentina's Eskenazi family through its firm, Peterson. Continue reading the main story Nationalising YPF Spain's Repsol has hitherto owned 57.4% of shares with 25.5% belonging to Argentina's Petersen, 0.02% to the Argentine government and 17% traded on stock exchanges The Argentine government proposes to seize 51% of the shares, all of which will be taken from Repsol's stake, leaving the Spanish firm with 6.4% The expropriated shares will in turn be divided between the Argentine government and provincial governors Following the expropriation, Petersen will retain its 25.5% stake and 17% of the shares will continue to be traded Argentina's risky energy seizure According to regulator filings of a 2008 agreement, Repsol must "maintain directly or indirectly through controlled companies an ownership interest greater than or equal to 50.1%". If it does not, Repsol is obliged to buy back the loans used to secure the Eskenazis' shares. But Repsol told the BBC that the expropriation of its stake in YPF had invalidated the agreement. "The agreement is not valid under Spanish law in these conditions," said Kristian Rix, a Repsol spokesman. "The law is unequivocal, there is no debate." Trade war brewing? Spain has threatened retaliation against Argentina over the forced nationalisation of oil firm YPF, raising the prospects of a trade war between the nations. Spanish Trade Secretary Jaime Garcia Legaz said the European Union would intervene over Argentina's seizure of YPF. Argentina is taking over 51% of YPF, wiping out Repsol's 57.4% majority stake. The move has wide support in Argentina but has provoked outrage in Spain. Spain's Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo said US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had also offered support. Repsol has said it wants around $10bn (£6.2bn) for its stake in YPF, but Argentina has said it does not accept that valuation. YPF, Argentina's biggest oil company, was privatised in 1993. Last year it announced huge new finds of shale oil and gas.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Spain police investigate Madeleine McCann 'sighting'

Spanish police are investigating a reported sighting of Madeleine McCann in a Costa del Sol resort. Specialist officers are following up a tip-off received about 10 days ago that a girl resembling the missing British child was spotted in Nerja, 30 miles east of Malaga, sources said. The possible sighting is being handled by the specialised and violent crime unit (unidad de delincuencia especializada y violenta, or UDEV) of Spain's judicial police, the Malaga-based Sur newspaper reported. It is understood that Scotland Yard detectives reviewing the case are liaising with their Spanish counterparts about the latest lead. Madeleine was nearly four when she went missing from her family's holiday flat in Praia da Luz in the Algarve on May 3 2007 as her parents Kate and Gerry McCann dined with friends nearby. There have been hundreds of possible sightings of her all over the world since she vanished, but so far they have all come to nothing. Her parents are preparing to mark the fifth anniversary of her disappearance next month. McCann family spokesman Clarence Mitchell said: "Kate and Gerry are aware of this particular report from Spain. It was absolutely right that the police investigate any potential lead. "Kate and Gerry remain very grateful for the co-operation of the police in the search for Madeleine."

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Ian Donaldson, 32, accused of ­funding his multi-millionaire lifestyle from the proceeds of an international drugs empire.

Ian Donaldson, 32, bought a fleet of Ferraris, Porsches, Lamborghinis and Hummers with cash made from trafficking cocaine and speed from Spain to Scotland, it is claimed.

Donaldson also owned luxury villas and powerboats and enjoyed a playboy lifestyle on the Costa del Sol and Tenerife.

But last week the Spanish National Court in Madrid heard sensational claims that he was the money man for a gang of drug-smugglers led by fellow Glaswegian Ronald O’Dea, 45.

Prosecutors claim Donaldson spent at least £7.2million on cars and property, funded by his lucrative smuggling operation.

Lead prosecutor Dolores Lopez Salcedo is demanding hefty sentences for the gang, including 21 years for alleged ringleader O’Dea and 18 years for Donaldson.

She also wants Donaldson to be fined a staggering £24million.

Ms Salcedo outlined an incredible fleet of supercars seized from Donaldson – a Ferrari F430 Spider, a Ferrari 599GTB Fiorano, two Hummers, a Porsche Cayenne turbo, an Audi Q7 4x4, two BMWs and a Mercedes 63 AMG.

The court was told Donaldson and his fellow gang members spent their days in bars and restaurants on the Costa del Sol and the holiday island of Tenerife.

It was there that they are alleged to have plotted the transfer of massive consignments of drugs to the UK.

Spanish police launched an undercover surveillance operation following a tip-off from their British counterparts.

By tapping the gang’s mobile phones, Spanish detectives discovered a consignment was about to be smuggled in a lorry travelling by ferry from Calais to Dover.

British police swooped on the vehicle on the M40 in Oxfordshire and seized 68.5kg of amphetamines in 29 bags hidden in tanks of liquid used to clean cows’ udders.

Donaldson and O’Dea, pictured, went on trial last week with fellow Scots Jim MacDonald, 62, and Mary Hendry and Londoners Steve Brown, 45, and Deborah Learmouth, 49.

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A panel of three judges were told that Operation Sendero began in July 2008 when detectives from the UK’s Serious Organised Crime Agency emailed the Drugs and Organised Crime Squad in Madrid.

They provided the names and telephone numbers of several British drug-trafficking suspects based in Spain.

Spanish police began a surveillance and phone-tapping operation under the supervision of an investigative judge.

The court heard the suspects used evasive driving techniques to try to avoid being followed and used codes and nicknames while speaking on their mobile phones.

Donaldson, who is 5ft 8in, was nicknamed The Kid while 6ft Steve Brown was referred to as The Big Man.

The inspector who led the investigation told the court: “While under surveillance they enjoyed their days, they went out to eat in restaurants, they went to bars. In their phone conversations none of them ever mentioned work, a business or a job, nothing.

“Ian Donaldson had a level of life that was extremely agreeable, with holidays and luxury cars.

“He went out in the marina area of Marbella and in Tenerife, as well as on a yacht. He had a large villa in Tenerife.

“From the telephone conversations between other suspects it was deduced that Ian controlled the money.”

Donaldson, once cleared of a gangland kidnap in Scotland, was the director of Tenerife-based Ian’s Sports Cars Ltd, which was supposed to buy and sell luxury cars.

But the detective said the company was merely a front for drugs money.

He added: “The company did not really exist, it had no commercial activity.”

The Spanish police also claim Donaldson was protected by hefty bodyguards who escorted him to and from the millionaires’ playground of Puerto Banus.

One undercover officer told the court: “We followed him one day from one of his houses down to the boat in Puerto Banus.

“He had people in vehicles in front and behind him. They were in two Hummers. The men were very well-built, very strong.”

On September 22, 2008, Donaldson and three others were stopped at Glasgow Airport attempting to board a Globespan flight to Malaga with £50,000 hidden in their luggage.

The money was confiscated and Donaldson was released.

It was claimed that after this the gang began preparing the shipment of speed that was eventually seized in Oxfordshire.

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After the shipment was discovered, Spanish cops swooped on dozens of properties including Donaldson’s £1million villa in the south of Tenerife.

The fleet of luxury cars was seized during that raid and police also found 11 mobile phones and 20 SIM cards in the villa.

Donaldson was arrested in Scotland on an international warrant in March 2009 and was extradited to Madrid four months later.

He spent more than a year on remand before being released on bail of £135,000.

His fortified home in Renton, Dunbartonshire, was raided by the Scottish Crime and Drugs Enforcement Agency in July 2009.

Donaldson gave evidence in Madrid on Wednesday, claiming he was a legitimate businessman who made his money from a number of ventures in Scotland in Spain.

He is a director of a Scottish company IRD Services Ltd, which rents out construction machinery, and was also part-owner of Scruffy Murphys nightclub in Gran Canaria until 2007.

He said he made an average of £10,000 per week from the nightclub alone.

Donaldson said: “I was involved in buying and selling cars and houses in Scotland from a very young age.

“There were different avenues for making money. I received money from my Scottish company, my Tenerife company and my Gran Canaria company.

“In Spain I sell cars for cash. I have sold more than 30 luxury cars.”

Donaldson denied prosecution claims he owns a powerboat, Wee Joe II, and that he sold another boat for almost £1million.

Powerfully built O’Dea told the court he made his money from his company ­Fountain Drinks, which supplies soft drinks, beers and ­spirits to restaurants and bars in Scotland.

O’Dea, who owns a £687,000 mansion in Marbella, is described by prosecutors as “the leader of the group”.

He told the court he travelled between Spain and Scotland every two weeks to visit his son.

Ms Salcedo said the pair deserved long prison terms for their role in drug- trafficking and money- laundering operations.

She has also demanded heavy sentences for the rest of the gang.

MacDonald, accused of being in charge of transporting the drugs, should get at least 18 years, while Brown, who also faces forgery charges, could get 20 years.

Learmouth, a travel agent who has lived in Spain for 25 years, faces nine years for drugs offences while ­Hendry faces five years for money-laundering.

Two other defendants – Brian Rawlings, 66, and Joseph Campbell, 52 – were on bail and failed to show at the trial.

All deny the charges and the trial continues.

Friday, 13 April 2012

Death Row Granny may soon be executed

 

IN her final plea for clemency, a Kittitian of Anguillan parentage, whom the media have dubbed ‘Death Row Granny’, has called on the British government to save her from becoming the first female of that country to be executed in 50 years.   She is 53-year-old Linda Anita Carty, who holds a UK dependent territory passport and has spent 10 years on Death Row in the Mountain View Unit women’s prison outside Gatesville in Texas after being convicted and sentenced to death in 2002.   According to Mail Online, Carty in an emotional plea said, “I wouldn't ask the British Government to lobby for me if I knew that I was guilty, because it would be an embarrassment to myself and my family, but also to the country that I love. When I say that I am innocent and that I didn’t commit this crime, I mean that.”   Carty was sentenced to death by lethal injection for the murder of her neighbour in Texas, Joana Rodriguez (25), and plotted with three men to steal the woman’s son, Ray.   Evidence presented at her trial in 2002 stated that on May 16, 2001, three men, Chris Robinson, Gerald Anderson and Carlos Williams, invaded the apartment of Rodriguez, beat her up and duct taped her partner (Raymundo Cabrera) and another individual after beating them also, and abducted the woman and her three-day-old son.   Further evidence submitted in the trial stated that the abductors hog-tied Rodriguez with duct tape, put a plastic bag over her head and placed her in the trunk of a car rented by Carty. Rodriguez died from suffocation but her son was found unharmed in the back seat of another car.   The three men, who were convicted criminals, pleaded guilty to lesser charges and claimed that Carty had recruited them to help kidnap and murder Rodriguez so she could have the young woman’s baby.   Carty however pleaded not guilty and to date maintains her innocence. She said the three men were former drugs traffickers who wanted revenge on her for her work as a secret informant for the US Drug Enforcement Administration.   Following her death sentence, Carty, on Friday, September 18, 2009, had lost her appeal to the US Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans and was denied review by the US Supreme Court in June 2010.   According to Mail Online, Carty’s request for a retrial was based on claims she was given inadequate legal support during her original trial and the government were blocked in their efforts to help her.   Her daughter, Jovelle Carty-Joubert, has been rallying British MPs for support for two years following the US Supreme Court's refusal to re-open her case. And the Foreign Office said it was lobbying the Texas authorities to stop her execution.   A statement said: “The Prime Minister and British Government are deeply concerned.”   It was reported that at her trial, Carty was forced to accept a local court-appointed lawyer, Jerry Guerinot, whose alleged incompetence had already led to 20 of his clients ending up on death row, more than any other defence lawyer in the US.   Media houses reported that Guerinot’s catalogue of serious failings in Carty’s case include:   • Failure to spot obvious flaws and inconsistencies in the prosecution case; • Failure to spend more than 15 minutes with Carty before the trial; • Failure to investigate key mitigating evidence; • Failure to inform Carty, a British citizen, of her right to consular assistance; and • Failure to inform her husband of his right not to testify against his wife.   Also, based on the testimony of their informants, the prosecution’s theory was that Carty was afraid of losing her husband and thought that if she had another baby he would stay.   The prosecution alleged that she was unable to get pregnant and had hired three men to kidnap Rodriguez and that she planned to “cut the child out” of the pregnant mother.   According to one online media house, the baby is of a different race to Carty and “the utter implausibility of this theory should have been obvious: Joana Rodriguez had already given birth to the child, as Linda clearly knew, being her neighbour. Since the baby would be a difference race to Linda, she could not possibly pass it off as her own. When the prosecution produced ‘the scissors’ that Linda was supposedly going to use to cut the child out, Guerinot failed to point out that they were bandage scissors, with a rounded end, obviously useless for any such purpose”.   Linda Anita Carty, also known as Linda Hunte, is a former resident of Old Road and was a primary school teacher in St. Kitts before migrating to England and subsequently to the US.

Monday, 9 April 2012

Incarcaration in Spain is the highest in Western Europe

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What are these types of crime? Apart from the regional government proposal on forest fires, which seems to be due directly to the recent fire, the plan of the Interior, working with the Ministry of Justice in a bilateral commission which, among others, are the Secretaries of State of both departments, revolves around two blocks: the fight against multirreincidencia and increased penalties related to the maintenance of public order. The processing of both reforms to be separated in time, according to Ulloa, because the government wants to give some urgency to the fight against crimes of resisting arrest and vandalism. The idea is to have the Executive’s first organic bill ready before the summer and wait a little longer for the other part of the modification of the code related to multirreincidencia.
Crime rates, however, are of the lowest
“The reasons which the Government justify the penal reforms are based on subjective grounds,” says Julian Rios, Professor of Criminal Law and Corrections at the Universidad Pontificia de Comillas. “Sensations, perceptions, impressions are the most repeated words in the hearings and statements by the Ministers of Interior and Justice, without any empirically verifiable data input. If we turn to the latest statistical data referring to 2010, the Report of the DPP, it is verified that the quantitative evolution of criminal cases in which the Attorney General intervened ‘reveals an extremely positive result, derived from a significant decrease in the number of cases filed in relation to those recorded for the same concepts in 2009 ‘, as stated in the text. Our crime rate is low and is declining rates and the feeling of insecurity has more to do with a message amplified by certain media of specific events with a real increase of insecurity “.
“Our intention is in no case resort to the criminal law as a first response,” said for his part, Secretary of State for Security, Ignacio Ulloa. “The criminal response must be the least and last. But misconduct is not now have an appropriate approach. And when it detects a hole or crack is legal to offer a solution. “

Four men aged between 19 and 28 have been identified and arrested by the Judiciary Police on suspicion of attempted murder.

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Four men aged between 19 and 28 have been identified and arrested by the Judiciary Police on suspicion of attempted murder.
The case dates back to September last year when during an event in Beja the four suspects became involved in an argument with another group of youths. They are thought to have stabbed two of the youths several times before fleeing the scene in a car. Only now have the police manage to identify and arrest the suspects. It is believed that the stabbings took place near the Vidigueira campsite in the early hours of the morning, during an annual music festival.

postponed a trial that was to decide an extradition request lodged to bring British national Graham Mitchell back to the Algarve, to be re-tried for an attempted murder he was acquitted of in 1995, until 20 April.

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Portuguese authorities have postponed a trial that was to decide an extradition request lodged to bring British national Graham Mitchell back to the Algarve, to be re-tried for an attempted murder he was acquitted of in 1995, until 20 April.
The case itself dates back to 1994 when Mitchell and a friend were arrested in the Algarve on the suspicion of having assaulted a German national, leaving him paralysed after allegedly pushing him over a wall.
After 11 months awaiting trial in jail the two Britons were eventually tried for attempted murder and acquitted in May 1995, having been given their passports back and free to return home.
Last week the General Attorney’s Office (PGR) explained that the “judgment was of acquittal but did not go through because of an appeal made by the Supreme Court of Justice.”
A new trial was never held as Mitchell’s whereabouts were unknown, the PGR explained, becoming contumacious from 21 January 1998.
More than a decade later, in December 2008, the decision was made to issue a European capture warrant, which was issued on 6 March this year.

what is clearly a move to decongest Portugal’s courts and speed up the country’s justice system, the Attorney-General Pinto Monteiro is calling for drunk drivers to be punished for their transgressions by settling out of court.

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The procedure prosecutors are being encouraged to follow is explained in a 19-page document circulated by the Attorney-General, but it has already been met with stiff opposition.
Reacting to the announcement the chairman of the Portuguese Automobile Club (ACP) this week said he was against the fact that only punitive measures such as community service, a fine in the shape of a donation or a rehabilitation course are included in this circular while there is no mention of the loss of a driver’s licence.
Carlos Barbosa argues that only courts can take a driver’s licence away and as such, the move does not serve as a deterrent for people to drink and drive.
He added that it “is merely an administrative measure and its purpose is solely to alleviate congested courtrooms.”
Instead, the ACP chief has called for stronger penalties and not what could be perceived as lighter ones, especially as more than 60 people are detected each day on Portuguese roads with alcohol levels above the legally-accepted limit.
Latest available figures show that traffic law enforcement authorities recorded 23,274 cases of driving under the influence in 2011, an increase of 5.5 percent on the previous year.
Driving under the influence of alcohol or an illegal substance is the fifth most common crime registered by Portugal’s police forces.
But the chairman of the Portuguese law society, António Marinho Pinto has come out in support of the move, saying it should have been brought into practice “a long time ago” and should be extended to cover other “minor offences.”
It is believed a handful of courts in Portugal are already following this procedure, such as those in Montijo and Angra do Heroísmo.
In the meantime, the Attorney-General’s office has since clarified that out-of-court settlements will also involve an agreement signed by offending drivers not to take to the wheel of their cars for a pre-defined period.
Transgressors of this bona fide commitment will end up having their day in court.
In the document, the Attorney-General tells prosecutors to take into account a series of factors and criteria when ‘negotiating’ with offenders.
The value of the alcohol reading, the driver’s age, profession, type of vehicle driven, the cause of driving under the influence, previous driving record and the risks posed to the safety of fellow motorists are all listed by Pinto Monteiro for prosecutors to consider before deciding on which course of legal action should be taken.
However, drivers detected with high levels of alcohol, should not be allowed to escape the wrath of the country’s courts, and will not be entitled to resolution of their case without facing a judge.
In addition, a road traffic collision involving a driver who is found to be under the influence, irrespective of the level of intoxication and damage caused will also result in a court date being set.

Two men suspected of being involved in the killing of a 28-year-old man in the Algarve in 1998 have recently confessed their association in the crime but indicated a third person as the trigger-puller.

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The three suspects, aged 40 to 47, started their trial last week at Faro’s courthouse after the case was reopened last summer, but chose to remain in silence throughout.
The case dates back to 2 February 1998 when a man was shot twice in the head on his way home from work, in Faro. After he was killed he was abandoned near the Spanish border.
PJ chief inspector João Garcia, who gave witness statements in court last week, said that two of the suspects, identified as Carlos Castanheira and Fernando Louro had already confessed their involvement in the crime during separate reconstructions of the shooting that were carried out last year.
According to the inspector, the case was reopened after one of his colleagues had a chance conversation with a friend who turned out to be one of the suspects’ ex-girlfriends.
Through phone tapping the police managed to identify Louro, who until then had been unknown to the investigation, but whose genetic profile matched traces left on a cigarette end found in the victim’s car.
According to the witness inspector, who has been investigating the case for 14 years, Castanheira (who is childhood friends with the third suspect, Carlos Lopa) and Louro intercepted the victim, Jorge Nascimento, on his way home from work between Loulé and Faro after simulating a car crash to force him to leave the vehicle.
From there the pair drove Nascimento in his car to São Brás de Alportel, where he was allegedly murdered and his body taken to a deserted spot near the Spanish border, where it was abandoned.
Castenheira and Louro claim that the third suspect, Lopa, was waiting for them in São Brás and it was he who shot and murdered the victim.
During that period the two claim they returned to Faro where they withdrew money with Jorge Nascimento’s bank card, near his home close to the Hospital roundabout.
The victim’s car was later found in Spain, 100 kilometres from the border, and more money was withdrawn in that country with the victim’s card.
Following the reconstructions of the murder Inspector Garcia said that, to him, it was “perfectly clear” that “everything resulted from intentions projected by Carlos Lopa, a former boyfriend of the victim’s then girlfriend.
At the time of the murder everything pointed to theft being the motive for the killing. Fourteen years ago the authorities suspected the assailants were drug addicts who lived near the victim.
Two men were caught on CCTV withdrawing cash from an ATM machine in Spain but the images were not clear enough to make an identification.
The trial continues with hearings on 13 and 27 April.

FIVE Britons were among 14 people arrested in a massive drug swoop

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FIVE Britons were among 14 people arrested in a massive drug swoop in Alicante, Spain’s National Police said.
They are a Glasgow man and woman, two men from Northamptonshire and Middlesbrough and a Dutch born British woman.
A Belgian national and a Spanish man were also arrested believed to head up the alleged drug smuggling operation and acted as a go-between with the Scottish arm of the business.
The detainee’s bank accounts have been frozen and are thought to contain in the region of €600,000.
They were arrested as part of a 14-month joint operation between Spanish and Scottish police forces that focused on high-value drug movements in the Alicante area.
The drug smuggling ring allegedly transported cocaine and hashish in cars and vans from Alicante to Scotland via the English Channel.
Drug sale profits were laundered in real estate investments in the holiday destinations of the Costa Blanca, according to police reports.
Investigations began late 2010 in the Levante area where members of the Scottish-based wing of the operation reportedly settled.
"We can confirm the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency is working with Spanish law enforcement as part of an ongoing investigation,” said Detective Superintendent Jim Reid of the SCDEA, as reported in theHerald Scotland.
In the first wave of arrests two British citizens and a Spanish man were arrested, while €2,500 cash and three vehicles, one of which hid 108kg of hashish, were among the items seized.
Then a van with 3.1kg of high-purity cocaine was found hidden in the fuel tank of a truck destined for a cross-channel crossing with several cars used to shuttle the drugs between various locations on the route between Spain and Scotland.
Five people were detained and the drugs, the van and four other cars seized.
The six expatriates were the latest to be arrested after 250 marijuana plants were found in purpose-built greenhouses in the garage and basement of one of four raided properties.

Spain seems to be holding onto it's unofficial title of the Costa del Crime

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Spain seems to be holding onto it's unofficial title of the Costa del Crime, but Amsterdam is still creeping up on it.
The tracking down of Merseyside gangster Kirk Bradley is the 49th arrest in the search for 65 Most Wanted fugitives who've featured in the regular Crimestoppers campaigns.
That's a pretty good hit rate, with Sky News viewers and Sun readers contributing the info that lead to some of those captures.
A league table of the 49 arrests shows that 28 were caught in Spain, nine in Amsterdam, seven in the UK and Ireland, two in the Canary Islands and one each in the Balearics, Crete and Belgium.
Arno Julsing, chief of detectives for the Amsterdam police, said: "Our approach works and we have found that the number of fugitives hiding in Amsterdam is decreasing. Our message 'Amsterdam is not the place to be' has apparently been heard. "
I'm not sure he's right. I think that, its lack of sunshine apart, Amsterdam will continue to be an attractive hiding place for some very obvious reasons.

TWO men arrested in a Spanish drugs bust

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One of the men is Charles “Chagga” McCormack, 29, who is a known enforcer for the infamous Lyons mob.
In 2010 he was charged and later cleared over an attack on James Hanlon, who was assaulted with a power drill.
Sources claim the shipment of cocaine and cannabis seized by cops on the Costa Blanca was destined for the Lyons mob and their Glasgow underworld empire.
As we reported yesterday, a Spanish police operation led to the arrests of 14 people and seized 3.1kg of cocaine and 108kg of cannabis.
Hanlon was bludgeoned with a power drill when he was ambushed by a mob in Stepps, Lanarkshire, a week before twin Bryan was mutilated in a separate attack.
The brothers were pals of slain hood Kevin “Gerbil” Carroll.
McCormack later had his not guilty plea accepted over the attack on Hanlon.
Robert Kirkwood, 25, pleaded guilty to assault to severe injury.
Spanish police have yet to release full details on all 14 people arrested in their drugs operation, which was helped by the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency.
But at least one person apart from McCormack is also a known Lyons henchman, underworld sources say.
The man, who can’t be named for legal reasons, is said to be an established contact in England for the Lyons clan.
A source said: “This is a major Lyons operation and the bust will cost them millions.
“Chagga has long been an associate of the Lyons clan and he has been working for them in Spain since he left Glasgow six months ago.
“One of the English guys arrested has been moving stuff around for the family for years.”
Steven Lyons, 31, has been living in Spain since he was shot in the leg in a notorious triple shooting at his uncle’s MoT garage in 2006. He was not among those arrested.
Our insider said the drugs for the gang were sourced in Morocco before being taken to Spain by speedboat.
Some of the haul was to stay in Spain, while the rest was destined for the UK.

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