Child asylum seekers ‘kidnapped’
Several dozen asylum-seeking children have been kidnapped by gangs from a hotel run by the Home Office, reported The Observer. According to a whistleblower who works for a Home Office contractor, children were abducted off the street outside the Brighton hotel and bundled into cars. The pattern is being repeated across the south coast. “Children are literally being picked up from outside the building, disappearing and not being found,” said a source. “They’re being taken from the street by traffickers.”
Zahawi ‘fights for political life’
Nadhim Zahawi has confirmed that he reached a multi-million pound settlement with HMRC but said an error in his tax affairs was accepted by the taxman as having been “careless and not deliberate”. In a statement, the Conservative Party chairman said he wanted to address “confusion about my finances” after claims he tried to avoid tax. Zahawi is “battling to save his political career” said The Observer. It was reported that he had been due to receive a knighthood in the new year’s honours list but this was blocked due to concerns over his tax affairs.
More documents found in Biden search
Investigators have found six more classified documents during a 13-hour search of Joe Biden’s home in Delaware, said a lawyer for the US president. Some documents seized at the Wilmington property were from his days as a senator and others from his reign as vice-president under Barack Obama. The federal search of Biden’s home, while voluntary, marks an escalation of the probe into the president’s handling of classified documents. The scandal is “really bad” for his chances of re-election in 2024, said the New York Times.
Coronation to focus on volunteering
“Diversity, communities and volunteering” will be at the heart of King Charles’ coronation, said The Sunday Times. Over three days of “joyful celebrations” in May, the King will highlight the importance of public service and community-building. The coronation weekend will include street parties, drone displays and a concert at Windsor Castle featuring “global music icons”. Britons will be encouraged to spend a day volunteering in their communities to mark the coronation.
Police crackdown in Peru
Police raided a university in Peru yesterday as part of crackdown on protests against President Dina Boluarte. The officers smashed down the gates with an armoured vehicle, fired teargas and detained more than 200 people who were taking part in anti-government protests. Images showed “dozens of people lying face down on the ground” at San Marcos University, said The Guardian. The protesters are demanding Boluarte’s resignation, the closure of Congress and fresh elections.
Andrew ‘may try to overturn settlement’
Prince Andrew will attempt to overturn the multi-million pound settlement with his sex accuser after her abuse case against a high-profile US lawyer “crumbled”, said The Sun. After Virginia Giuffre dropped the other lawsuit last year, admitting she “may have made a mistake”, the Duke of York is consulting US lawyers to try to force a retraction and apology — which could clear the way for him to return to royal duties.
Questions over Johnson loan
The chairman of the BBC helped Boris Johnson secure a loan just weeks before the then-prime minister recommended him for the role, according to a report. Labour are calling for an inquiry after The Sunday Times said Richard Sharp was involved in arranging a guarantor on a loan of up to £800,000 for Johnson. Sharp denied there was a conflict of interest and insisted he had “simply connected” people. Johnson’s spokesman said he did not receive financial advice from Sharp.
Deadly US air strike in Somalia
A US air strike in Somalia killed about 30 Islamist al-Shabab militants, the US military said. The Somali army and al-Shabab militants have been battling for control of the town of Galcad, about 260km (162 miles) northeast of the capital Mogadishu and the air strike came as the army was being attacked by more than 100 militants. The US has provided ongoing support to the Somali government since Joe Biden approved a Pentagon request to redeploy US troops to the area last year.
Toksvig to meet Welby
Sandi Toksvig has said she will be meeting the archbishop of Canterbury after bishops refused to back gay marriage but said civil partnerships could be blessed in church. “Quick update – I will be meeting the Archbishop of Canterbury for a long promised coffee next week,” the QI host tweeted. Toksvig shared an open letter to Justin Welby in August after he reaffirmed a 1998 resolution that gay sex is sinful.
Aldrin ‘over the moon’ to wed
The former US astronaut Buzz Aldrin has married for the fourth time on his 93rd birthday. One of the pilots on the legendary Apollo 11 spaceflight in 1969, Aldrin was one of the first two people to walk on the moon. “On my 93rd birthday and the day I will be honoured by Living Legends of Aviation I am pleased to announce that my long-time love Dr Anca Faur and I have tied the knot,” he wrote on Twitter. Dr Faur, 63, is the executive vice president of Aldrin’s company, Buzz Aldrin Ventures. The couple are “over the moon” said Sky News.