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Christmas Trees are coming! Be Prepared this December

Types of Christmas Trees

There are various types of Christmas trees available, and you must choose the one that is perfect for your home during the holiday season. There are various types, as you will see below:

Nordman Fir

The Norman Fir Christmas Tree barely drops its needles, making it the most popular choice in Modern times, due to the safety issues related to children and pets, and the sharp Christmas tree needles. They come in a range of shapes and sizes, and their needles are a lot fleshier.

Norway Spruce

The Norway Spruce Christmas tree, brings the classic smell of childhood to your home. Its needles do drop a lot more than other varieties, but it more than makes up for that with its beautiful smell, and really traditional tall and narrow shape.

Potted Christmas Trees

The Potted Christmas tree is a great choice if you would prefer your tree to last longer than just a few weeks, as potted trees are more likely to live on through the year, and be fine to use again a year later. The come in both varieties, the Nordman or Norway Spruce, and are often a little cheaper.

Where to buy a Christmas Tree

You can normally buy Christmas trees at your local garden centre, or check online for your nearest Christmas tree farm. Sapcote Garden Centre, Leicester, LE94LG, 01455 274049, (http://www.sapcotegc.co.uk/christmas/christmas-trees) has a range of Nordman Fir, and Norway Spruce Christmas trees for sale, and the price is the same as 2012.

Haulage chief calls for French army to protect lorry drivers from Calais migrants

  • UK’s Road Haulage Association boss wants action from both governments
  • Richard Burnett said drivers are being forced to ‘run the gauntlet’ daily
  • Cross-channel services resumed but delays expected until Monday 

By

Kate Pickles For Mailonline


Published:
07:57 EST, 3 July 2015

|
Updated:
09:26 EST, 3 July 2015

The UK’s Road Haulage Association called for the French military to be deployed to protect lorry drivers from migrants.

Chief executive Richard Burnett, said drivers were being forced to ‘run the gauntlet every day’ with desperate migrants trying to get on their vehicles.

He said the British and French governments needed to work together to find a long term solution but that truck drivers needed protection in the meantime.

Scroll down for video 

Gauntlet: Richard Burnett said lorry drivers are being forced to 'run the gauntlet' and need protecting from migrants by the army

Gauntlet: Richard Burnett said lorry drivers are being forced to ‘run the gauntlet’ and need protecting from migrants by the army

He spoke to drivers trapped in Calais during the five days of disruption caused by a strike by French ferry workers and said drivers’ lives were being put at risk by the escalating problem.   

‘I took the opportunity to talk to the drivers that were in the queues there and they are having to run the gauntlet literally every day facing risk that is just completely unreasonable,’ he said, speaking on BBC Radio 4 this morning.

‘Our government needs to help influence the French government to get more police, and possibly even the French military, to actually protect the drivers that are there.

‘We have got to be able to protect the drivers that are doing their day-to-day jobs.’ 

Crossing: Migrants climb into the trailer of a truck during an attempt to make a clandestine crossing to England through the Channel tunnel as lorries wait on a road which leads to the Channel Tunnel terminal in Coquelles near Calais

Crossing: Migrants climb into the trailer of a truck during an attempt to make a clandestine crossing to England through the Channel tunnel as lorries wait on a road which leads to the Channel Tunnel terminal in Coquelles near Calais

On the French side of the Channel (pictured) illegal migrants are still trying to take advantage of the chaos to sneak onto stationary lorries

On the French side of the Channel (pictured) illegal migrants are still trying to take advantage of the chaos to sneak onto stationary lorries

Jammed: The blockade caused huge tailbacks at both the French port and on Kent's M20 motorway (pictured)

Jammed: The blockade caused huge tailbacks at both the French port and on Kent’s M20 motorway (pictured)

He said the strikes had caused ‘absolute chaos’ within the industry on unprecedented levels.

Illegal migrants trying to make the crossing was a ‘massive problem’, he said, and one that will not go away without intervention.

‘The UK and French governments must acknowledge their responsibilities to all Port of Calais users, move in and act. If this means deployment of the armed forces then so be it,’ he said earlier this week. 

Cross-Channel ferry services have now resumed between Dover and Calais although the thousands of lorries stuck at both the French port and on Kent’s M20 motorway are not expected to fully clear until Monday. 

A record 3,400 vehicles were stuck on the M20 yesterday after police lined vehicles up two abreast along 33 miles of the motorway.

On the French side of the Channel, there were reports of illegal migrants still trying to take advantage of the chaos to sneak onto stationary lorries and terrified holidaymakers being threatened by gangs of migrants demanding to be allowed to hide in cars before they are loaded onto ferries.

On Friday P&O said it expected to make its usual 25 ferry crossings.

Home secretary, Theresa May, met with French counterpart, Bernard Cazeneuve, on Thursday and jointly pledged to do more to end the chaos connected to strikes at Calais. 

Clogged: Around 8,000 truckers are stuck on a 23-mile stretch of the M20 in Kent which was closed due to the French ferry strike

Clogged: Around 8,000 truckers are stuck on a 23-mile stretch of the M20 in Kent which was closed due to the French ferry strike

 

 

 

 

Xmas Holidays

37 Years on the Dole’s Michelle X is arrested for growing cannabis at Oxford home

  • Michelle X arrested on suspicion of producing cannabis at Oxford home
  • 48-year-old benefit claimant appeared on TV show 37 Years on the Dole
  • She told documentary she had ‘no choice’ but to grow her own cannabis
  • Claims she needs Class B drug to ease the pain of her multiple sclerosis

By

Emma Glanfield for MailOnline


Published:
05:16 EST, 3 July 2015

|
Updated:
09:19 EST, 3 July 2015



Michelle X, who appeared on Channel 5 documentary 37 Years on the Dole, has been arrested on suspicion of producing cannabis at her Oxford home

Michelle X, who appeared on Channel 5 documentary 37 Years on the Dole, has been arrested on suspicion of producing cannabis at her Oxford home

The star of a benefits documentary who doesn’t remember the last time she applied for a job has been arrested for growing cannabis at her home, it has emerged.

Michelle X, from Oxford, appeared on Channel 5 documentary 37 Years on the Dole where she claimed she had ‘no choice’ but to grow cannabis – spending her benefits on growing the plant at home.

However, it was revealed the 48-year-old was arrested on suspicion of drug charges just hours before the show was aired – meaning she spent her time in a police cell as the show was broadcast last night.

The grandmother, who receives £20,000 a year in state hand-outs, claims she needs cannabis to ease the pain of her multiple sclerosis (MS). 

Her partner Albert Bloom confirmed the pair’s home had been raided and they had both been taken into police custody in connection with cannabis-growing equipment found at their property.

Writing on Facebook, he said: ‘All our equipment has been taken. We have nothing left.

‘No lights, no pots, air pumps, tents, fans, filters – it has all been taken.

‘What is even sadder is that the police took all of our goody bags that we had made up from Product Earth to give away to the members of Abingdon & Oxford Cannabis Community.

‘This country is a joke. This law is so unjust.

‘If anyone can aid us out with basic equipment untill (sic) we can purchase new equipment we would be forever greatful (sic).

‘I hope you all managed to see Channel 5 at 8pm. We didnt lol we was in a cell (sic).

‘Big love to you all. Time for a joint from weed they didn’t get.’

He later uploaded a photograph of himself with Michelle, who was holding what appeared to be a small cannabis plant. 

The image was captioned: ‘They left this by mistake… thank you for small mercy.’

Miss X, who changed her surname after her marriage ended, told the Channel 5 documentary that she grows cannabis at home for her ‘condition’. 

She is thought to have been growing the Class B drug for the last 10 years, having been diagnosed with MS in 1988.

She said: ‘I have no choice but to grow my own medicine, because then I know what I’m being given and what I’m taking for my condition.’ 

Scroll down for video 

Albert Bloom, the partner of Michelle X, took to Facebook to confirm the pair had been arrested yesterday

Albert Bloom, the partner of Michelle X, took to Facebook to confirm the pair had been arrested yesterday

On her Facebook page, Michelle X claimed police had 'left' a cannabis plant at her home following her arrest

On her Facebook page, Michelle X claimed police had ‘left’ a cannabis plant at her home following her arrest

She said she had almost 50 cannabis plants and a constant supply of the drug in the spare room of her two-bedroom flat.

She decided to continue to grow the plants despite her home being raided by police two years ago.

In March 2013, police seized 28 cannabis plants and £1,000 worth of cannabis-growing equipment from her property and handed Miss X a caution.

However, despite steering away from the drug, she continued to use her benefit hand-outs to grow the plants.

She added: ‘I don’t remember the last time I applied for a job. All they’ve got to do is find a doctor to say I can work on cannabis.

‘Of course it would be hard to come off the benefits – I’ve been cushioned by them for so long.’

Thames Valley Police confirmed officers had made two arrests yesterday in connection with the production of cannabis at the pair’s home.

A spokesman said: ‘A 48-year-old woman and 34-year-old man from Oxfordshire were arrested yesterday on suspicion of producing a controlled drug of Class B – cannabis.

‘Approximately 40 plants, believed to be cannabis, 20 jars of what is believed to be cannabis and various suspected drugs paraphernalia were seized. 

‘We cannot confirm the relationship between the two arrested people but both have been bailed until 20th August.

‘Arrests were made and evidence was gathered in connection with the alleged offences.’

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Xmas Holidays

All That Glitters ………

Hello and welcome to another challenge at Winter Wonderland -Lynsey here.

Thank you for all your lovely entries into last week’s challenge they were all fantastic!


Last week’s winner as chosen by Random Org is:

so that’s Valery Anne
with this lovely card

Congratulations – please email Deborah  to claim your prize of

$12 voucher for:

before the end of the current challenge. Please make the subject of your e-mail Winter Wonderland Winner and sponsor name.

Now onto the top three

Please take our top three banner to display proudly on your blog.

Now onto this week’s challenge which is ‘All That Glitters‘ so we want to see lots of sparkly creations this week!

Please remember christmas projects only.We are sponsored this week by 





and the lucky winner will win 2 digi’s of their choice from Wendy’s shop.

This is a little about our sponsor:

Hi I am Wendy Burns I live in Nottingham UK with my husband and two children who have been the inspiration behind the characters,  in particular my daughter who has kept me up-to-date with blogging and trends.  I work predominantly within the textile children’s wear market, fashion and interiors.

I trained as a textile designer and although my work is digital based, I love to retain that hand drawn /sewn feel which I hope comes across in my artwork.

Digital stamps is a new challenge for me and the opportunity to work with the All Dressed Up Team and has been very exciting, in particular the creative way my characters have been given individual personalities by the designers .

All Dressed Up is a newly launched blog with an enthusiastic team who are passionate about stamping.  The coordinators Marilyn and Tracy along with an amazing design team are also known as The Dressy Girls.

We have a friendly Facebook page, regular blog posts, tutorials, challenges and freebies .The stamps can be purchased from the Etsy shop which is updated on a monthly basis.
Here’s the inspiration from the DT.  We always appreciate a visit so if you click the name you can hop over and leave them a comment and also find out if they have combined their challenge with any others, which could give you some ideas.

We all hope you are able to join us in our challenge this week. We look forward to visiting your blogs and seeing your gorgeous creations. Please be sure to post a link back to the Winter Wonderland blog in your blog post in order to be eligible for this weeks prize! Thursday evening (5pm GMT) is the deadline for your creation to qualify for the prizes.
So all that’s left is for you to get creative and leave your entry here with the blue frog so we can come and find you asap.

Have fun and remember you can enter each challenge up to 3 times.

Lynsey and the WW Teamies xxx 


Christmas 2013

Gardencentreshopping: New Corner Rattan Couch Set with Cushion Storage for 2015!

http://www.gardencentreshopping.co.uk/rattan/all-rattan-furniture/rattan-corner-sofa-set-with-storage

This corner sofa easily seats 4 people, with extra thick cushions to make relaxing outside all afternoon a breeze.

The cushion storage box makes it really simple to use this furniture, and the main set can be left outside all year round, as it has an aluminium frame that will not rust, and weather proof synthetic rattan that will not rot, warp, or fade.

The cushions are also shower proof, in case you get caught with an unexpected shower!

I'm extremely happy that they have come up with this replacement outside product, as it will certainly make my garden such a beautiful location to unwind in this summertime.

Looks like I'll be having pals over for a stylish and also advanced yard event in 2015!

If anybody was interested in purchasing one of these collections after that follow the link, you won't regret it!

I would certainly give Gardencentreshopping at the very least 10 out of 10!

Britain could start bombing ISIS in Syria after Tunisia beach attack

  • Defence Secretary to deliver Commons speech on response to massacre
  • Will tell MPs it is ‘illogical’ to support UK airstrikes in Iraq but not in Syria
  • Warning there is ‘no military necessity’ and could create a ‘legal grey area’
  • Labour leaves the door open to idea two years after blocking Syria strikes 

By

Matt Chorley, Political Editor for MailOnline


Published:
04:43 EST, 2 July 2015

|
Updated:
09:05 EST, 2 July 2015

Britain moved a step closer to bombing ISIS targets in Syria today as Labour said it would consider backing any military response to the Tunisian beach shootings.

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon told MPs that it is illogical for UK forces to carry out strikes in Iraq but not in Syria.

The Labour party, which defeated a plan to bomb the Assad regime in Syria two years ago, has dropped its opposition to strikes against ISIS in the country. 

But senior Tory MPs was warned there is ‘no military necessity’ for Britain expanding its role which could create a ‘legal grey area’. 

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon told MPs that it is 'illogical' for UK forces to carry out strikes in Iraq but not in Syria

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon told MPs that it is ‘illogical’ for UK forces to carry out strikes in Iraq but not in Syria

David Cameron has promised a ‘full spectrum’ response to the massacre in Sousse, Tunisia on Friday in which 38 tourists including 30 Britons were killed by ISIS gunman Seifeddine Rezgui.

Whitehall sources say that at this stage they do not believe the attack was orchestrated from Iraq or Syria, but Rezgui had been radicalised by ISIS.

Mr Fallon has suggested that any evidence that the attack was directly linked to extremists in Syria would show that the ISIS leadership in the country represents a direct threat to the British people.

The government has promised to hold a Commons vote before launching military action.

But Mr Cameron is still bruised from his defeat two years ago, when Ed Miliband led Labour to vote against action against Bashar Assad’s regime in the wake of the dictator’s use of chemical weapons against rebels in Syria. 

In September last year MPs voted for bombing raids in Iraq, at the request of the Iraqi government.

But Mr Fallon argues there is no reason why the military action should not be extended to Syria.

He told the House of Commons: ‘We are working with the Tunisian authorities to find out exactly how this outrage last Friday was carried out, how it was planned, who was involved in it.

‘Let the House be in absolutely no doubt, the people who perpetrated the murders of our constituents are going to be tracked down, whether they are in Libya, in Syria or anywhere else.’

He said the government remained committed to holding a vote on any future military action.

‘This is of course though a new Parliament and it is for all members to consider carefully how best to tackle Isil – an evil cailphate that does not respect state boundaries,’ he said.

‘We want Assad to go but we are equally clear that Isil operations in Iraq and elsewhere – and probably in Libya – are being directed from northern Syria.

‘We already have American air strikes being carried out in northern Syria, we have air strikes being carried out by other Gulf countries. We have air strikes being carried out by Canadian aircraft that are, of course, helping to keep our streets safe as well.’ 

The terror group ISIS has spread its influence across north Africa after seizing territory in Iraq and Syria

The terror group ISIS has spread its influence across north Africa after seizing territory in Iraq and Syria

Shadow Defence Secretary Vernon Coaker said that Labour would ‘carefully consider’ any fresh proposals that the Government brought forward, while setting out the terms on which it would give its support.

‘We all need to be clear about what difference any action would make to our objective of defeating Isil, about the nature of any action, its objectives and the legal basis,’ he said.

‘Any potential action must command the support of other nations in the region, including Iraq and the coalition already taking action in Syria.

‘This is a time for a considered assessment of the best course of action we can take to defeat this deadly threat to the UK, an objective that unites us all.’

Smoke rises in the Syrian town of Kobani which has come under attack by ISIS militants in recent days

Smoke rises in the Syrian town of Kobani which has come under attack by ISIS militants in recent days

The Prime Minister’s official spokeswoman said: ‘The Prime Minister has been clear on the need for us to be crushing Isil in both Iraq and Syria.

‘Clearly, Isil is seeking to find areas from which it can operate, from where it can seek to threaten people here in Britain, and as part of what the PM was talking about in terms of having a ‘full spectrum’ response, that clearly means not just focusing on one area where they are, but looking at a whole range of areas and how Isil are operating.’

The spokeswoman said ‘a lot has happened’ since the chemical weapon attack by Assad which sparked the previous proposal for air strikes, ‘most recently 22 and likely more British citizens have been killed in a terrorist attack that the investigation so far suggests there are links to Isil’.

She added: ‘Therefore the Prime Minister is clear that we absolutely should be thinking about, are we doing enough, and in the right areas, to tackle Isil.’

ISIS gunman Seifeddine Rezgui walking down the beach in Tunisia where the gunned down 38 innocent tourists. Mr Fallon said said efforts were under way to uncover his links to ISIS in Syria and Iraq

ISIS gunman Seifeddine Rezgui walking down the beach in Tunisia where the gunned down 38 innocent tourists. Mr Fallon said said efforts were under way to uncover his links to ISIS in Syria and Iraq

The former Chief of the General Staff, Lord Dannatt, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that Mr Fallon was ‘absolutely right’ about the illogicality of targeting IS in Iraq but not Syria.

‘So-called Islamic State – Isil, Isis, call them what you like – have no respect for the borders that currently exist. Iraq is Iraq and Syria is Syria to us, but not to them,’ said the former head of the Army.

‘As Michael Fallon has said, they don’t differentiate, and frankly it has been illogical for the last year that our forces have been engaged just in the air above Iraq and not above Syria.’

However, Conservative MP Crispin Blunt, chairman of the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, said that UK involvement in Syria would make little military difference on the ground, but could involve Britain in a legal ‘grey area’.

Mr Blunt told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘There’s no military necessity for this. We are not providing very many of the aircraft. Five per cent of the missions are being flown by the United Kingdom.

‘Therefore it makes no practical difference, and we are getting ourselves in to a slightly more legal grey area.’ 

Xmas Holidays

BBC announces plans to slash 1,000 jobs over £150m licence fee shortfall

  • BBC has announced it is to slash 1,000 jobs as it aims to become ‘leaner’
  • The Corporation is attempting to fix its £150million licence fee deficit
  • Today’s cuts will only save about £50million – so more cuts are to come 
  • Fall in licence fee revenue has hit the Corporation harder than expected

By

Keiligh Baker for MailOnline


Published:
04:56 EST, 2 July 2015

|
Updated:
09:02 EST, 2 July 2015

Pressure to slash costs: BBC director-general Tony Hall announced today that 1,000 jobs are to go from its 18,000-strong workforce - with more cuts to come

Pressure to slash costs: BBC director-general Tony Hall announced today that 1,000 jobs are to go from its 18,000-strong workforce – with more cuts to come

The BBC is to cut up to 1,000 jobs, including many managerial roles, because of a £150million shortfall in its licence fee income.

Staff were given details of the cuts by director general Tony Hall in a meeting at the Corporation’s central London offices this morning.

It is understood that around three layers of management will be cut, while some of the BBC’s divisions will be reduced.

Last night the Daily Mail reported hundreds of jobs were to be axed by the BBC as the Corporation tries to fix its £150million licence fee deficit.

The job cuts were initially expected to be ‘in the high hundreds’ as the broadcaster aims to become ‘leaner and simpler’ – but the number of jobs to go is higher than anticipated.

Lord Hall announced the reductions to its 18,000-strong workforce today amid growing pressure from the Government to slash costs.

Lord Hall said that the fall in licence fee revenue, primarily as a result of viewers switching to ‘catch-up’ TV services like the iPlayer, has hit the BBC harder than expected.

An ‘unexpected increase’ in the number of households claiming they do not watch live TV and so do not pay for a licence has been blamed for the shortfall.

The BBC said many cuts are to come from ‘professional and support areas’, while management structures will be streamlined. 

Lord Hall added this will save around £50m – which means more cuts are to come.

Mr Hall said the BBC was facing ‘difficult choices’ because of the tough financial climate.

A BBC source told The Guardian last night that the cuts would be ‘painful’ and would see a reduction in senior and middle management positions.

The source said: ‘Having to find another £150m inevitably makes decisions even tougher, but the director general has always said he came here to make the BBC a simpler and leaner place.

‘None of this is easy, but his priority is what appears on screen and on the airwaves. Everything else must be reduced to a bare minimum.’

Opposition from comedians: The broadcaster aims to save £30m a year by moving BBC Three online

Opposition from comedians: The broadcaster aims to save £30m a year by moving BBC Three online

The BBC collected a total of £3.7billion in licence fees this year – but this was £150million less than forecast, leaving the Corporation needing to make savings.

The broadcaster aims to save £30million a year by moving BBC Three online, a move that the BBC Trust hinted yesterday would go ahead despite opposition from stars including comedians Jack Whitehall and Rob Brydon.

The BBC is expected to publish a green paper detailing its future plans in the coming weeks.

 The proposed steps are: 

ONLY HALF OF YOUNG PEOPLE WATCH LIVE TELEVISION

Only half of young people watch live TV, with many preferring online services despite the value placed on public service broadcasters (PSB) by the public, according to a report.

The industry’s regulator Ofcom said audience satisfaction has increased from 69% in 2008 to 79%, with four out of five viewers believing PSBs deliver trustworthy news and high quality programmes. 

But only half of 16 to 24-year-olds watch live TV amid the increasing popularity of services such as Netflix, Amazon Instant Video and BBC iPlayer, said the report.

Ofcom said the growth of online viewing provided opportunities for PSB-like content to be delivered by other sources.

The regulator said public service broadcasters needed to respond to changes in technology and viewing trends.

Sharon White, Ofcom’s chief executive, said: ‘Public service broadcasting continues to deliver TV that is enjoyed and valued by millions of viewers across the UK.

‘More people are watching online or on demand, and this presents challenges as well as opportunities for public service broadcasters.

‘They must continue to find new ways of connecting with audiences, and the PSB system needs to evolve to ensure it remains effective in the digital age.’

- To reduce the number of divisions. First by joining up technology teams across digital, engineering and worldwide. Further changes are also possible.

- To reduce the number of layers from the top to the bottom of the organisation. In some places there are currently 10 layers of people and management and this will be cut to a maximum of seven in the future.

- To reduce management roles in all areas of the BBC. A simpler organisation will ‘inevitably’ require fewer managers, especially at senior levels.

- To simplify and standardise procedures across the BBC particularly looking at how professional and support areas such as marketing and communication, finance, HR, IT support and legal are structured and can be simplified. 

A BBC spokesman said today: ‘The licence fee income in 2016/17 is now forecast to be £150m less than it was expected to be in 2011. 

‘This is because as more people use iPlayer, mobiles and online catch-up, the number of households owning televisions is falling. 

‘It also provides further evidence of the need for the licence fee to be modernised to cover digital services.

‘The new measures being proposed will help bridge that gap by delivering £50m in savings from merging divisions, cutting down management layers, reducing managers and improving processes. 

‘More than 1,000 posts will be lost as a result.’ 

The jobs are mainly going in professional and support services amid moves to cut back on duplication of roles.

Lord Hall said: ‘A simpler, leaner, BBC is the right thing to do and it can also help us meet the financial challenges we face.

‘We’ve already significantly cut the costs of running the BBC, but in times of very tough choices we need to focus on what really matters – delivering outstanding programmes and content for all our audiences.’ 

Michelle Stanistreet, general secretary of the National Union of Journalists, said: ‘The NUJ has been pressing for a restructuring of the BBC that prioritises journalism and programming for some time, one that tackles the fleshy layers of management that have been preserved in the face of waves of cuts that have badly hit grassroots content.

‘So a hard look at how to best deploy resources on the services that really matter and make sure the BBC’s structures are efficient and fit for purpose is overdue.

‘News of the significant budget deficit should be a wake-up call for all those who care about public service broadcasting in the UK. The looming negotiations on charter renewal will be a critical juncture for the BBC.

‘Without a new deal that modernises the licence fee and provides for a real-terms increase the BBC as we know it, a world-respected broadcaster and a key driver of the entire British creative industry, will be unable to function.’

Xmas Holidays

Captured ‘Shawshank’ escapee says ‘cops walked right by me as I hid in a tree’

  • Sweat says that he and fellow escapee Richard Matt hid in hunting tree stand and heard people looking for them near upstate New York cabin 
  • Convicted murderer told investigators that he had two close calls, including one where officer who walked right by him in a tree
  • Details emerging after Sweat’s capture on Sunday include that the inmates had a practice run where they popped their heads out of escape manhole
  • Pair also smoked marijuana and drank in cabins where they stayed 
  • Sweat in fair condition and not expected to remain in hospital for long 

By

Christopher Brennan For Dailymail.com


Published:
18:29 EST, 30 June 2015

|
Updated:
08:40 EST, 1 July 2015

David Sweat, the convicted murderer who was caught 23 days after crawling out of a maximum-security prison in upstate New York, has told investigators that he was almost captured twice.

He and fellow inmate Richard Matt, 49, left Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora on June 6 though a steam pipe, where they had conducted a practice run the night before.

Their escape led authorities to search through the forests near the Canadian border for weeks before Matt was shot and killed on Friday and Sweat was captured on Sunday.

Sweat, 35, said that he had evaded close calls with police by hiding in hunting tree stands and officers barely missed him on two separate occasions, Clinton County District Attorney Andrew Wylie told ABC.

The first incident occurred outside a cabin where both Sweat and Matt, who was shot dead by police last week, had been staying and the fugitives were close enough to hear the conversation of three people looking to take them into custody.

Scroll down for video 

Convicted murderer David Sweat, pictured moments after he was shot twice in the torso Sunday, told police that he was almost captured twice during the three-week hunt to find him and fellow fugitive Richard Matt

Convicted murderer David Sweat, pictured moments after he was shot twice in the torso Sunday, told police that he was almost captured twice during the three-week hunt to find him and fellow fugitive Richard Matt

Sweat, who was on the lam for 23 days, has begun giving information to investigators after being shot and taken to hospital on Sunday. Above, correctional officers look for the escaped fugitives on June 25
The captured inmate said that he and Matt hid in a hunting tree stand (pictured, stock image) and could hear three people looking for them near a hunting cabin where they hid out.

Sweat said that he and Matt hid in a hunting tree stand (right, stock image) and could hear three people looking for them near a hunting cabin where they hid out.

Sweat also used a hunting tree stand, which is a small platform for hunters to perch up in a tree, to avoid an officer who walked right by him within the last week, after he had separated from Matt, Wylie told ABC.

He has begun giving information to investigators after being shot by New York state trooper Jay Cook less than two miles from the Canadian border and taken to an Albany hospital.

The escapee was in critical condition on the night he was captured, though he is now listed as ‘fair’ and expected to stay in the hospital for only several more days.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo told reporters Monday that Sweat has said he and Matt split up five days before the latter was shot by a state trooper on Friday.

After three weeks of searching for the inmates from the Clinton Correctional Facility, Sweat (left) is in custody and telling authorities the story of his and Matt's (right) escape

After three weeks of searching, Sweat (left)  is in custody and his former cohort Richard Matt (right) is dead following their shocking escape from Clinton Correctional Facility in upstate New York

Constable, New York, where Sweat was captured, is two miles south of the Canadian border and around 40 miles from Dannemora, where he escaped from Clinton Correctional on June 6

Constable, New York, where Sweat was captured, is two miles south of the Canadian border and around 40 miles from Dannemora, where he escaped from Clinton Correctional on June 6

Sweat supposedly said that Matt was slowing him down during their escape, which included drinking and smoking marijuana at the hunting cabins where they stayed, according to CBS.

Matt was allegedly drunk when he was shot in the head on Friday.  

A bag in Sweat’s possession included maps, tools and bug repellent used for the three weeks spent evading the police, as well as some Pop Tarts.

He was wearing camouflage when he was arrested, though the source of the clothing is unknown.

The pair had apparently planned on heading to Mexico after killing the husband of prison worker Joyce Mitchell, 51, who is accused of smuggling them goods to escape and faces eight years in prison.

Sweat has reportedly said that an officer walked right by the place that he was hiding. Above, two FBI agents search for Sweat near Duane, New York

Sweat has reportedly said that an officer walked right by the place that he was hiding. Above, two FBI agents search for Sweat near Duane, New York

This is one of the cabins where Richard Matt and David Sweat hid from law enforcement after their escape

This is one of the cabins where Richard Matt and David Sweat hid from law enforcement after their escape

TIMELINE: HOW DAVID SWEAT AND RICHARD MATT ELUDED POLICE FOR THREE WEEKS – BEFORE THEIR CAPTURE

JUNE 5

Matt and Sweat are present at nightly prison count at Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York

JUNE 6

They are missing from 5.30am count

It becomes clear they used power tools to escape

JUNE 7

Arrest warrants issued for the two escaped murderers, and $100,000 reward announced for vital information on them

JUNE 8

Prison worker Joyce Mitchell is questioned

JUNE 12

Mitchell is arrested and charged with promoting prison contraband, she faces eight years in prison

JUNE 20

Search jumps 360 miles west to the Pennsylvania border after ‘credible sighting’

JUNE 22

Search returns to Franklin County, 20 miles from Clinton Correctional

JUNE 24

Prison guard Gene Palmer is arrested and charged with smuggling hacksaws into the prison inside frozen meat

JUNE 26

Matt is captured and shot dead near Lake Titus in Malone, New York

1pm: Cabin owner Bob Mitchell calls 911 to say he had found a recently-opened, half-drunk bottle of gin on his kitchen table

1.30pm: A camper van owner calls 911 to say a man tried to steal his car and fired shots

3.45pm: Police dogs pick up Matt’s scent; officers hear him cough in nearby bushes; he refuses to surrender; is shot three times in the head

JUNE 28

Sweat is shot and captured alive in Constable, New York, two miles from Canadian border

3.20pm: Sgt Jay Cook is patrolling the search area and stops to question a man; sees it is Sweat; gives chase; shoots him twice in the torso

6.25pm: Sweat is transferred from local hospital to trauma unit 200 miles south in Albany, New York 

Mitchell, who had been having sex with both Matt and Sweat, checked herself into hospital the day of the planned getaway. 

Matt and Sweat had conducted a practice run of the escape the night before they left the prison, officials told CNN.

Fox News’s Laura Ingle said that the two inmates even practiced popping their heads out of the manhole where they would later escape to find Mitchell not there. 

WHAT NEXT FOR DAVID SWEAT? 

David Sweat, 35, has been transported to Albany Medical Center for surgery after being shot twice in the torso.

He had been serving a life sentence – with no chance of parole – for shooting a sheriff’s deputy 22 times then running him over with a car. 

Clinton County District Attorney Andrew Wylie said Sweat would be facing more charges, including felony escape and promoting contraband in a prison which could add 7 more years to his sentence.

‘But as he is serving life without parole, anything we add on isn’t going to make much difference,’ he said.

Wylie said there is no reason to think that Sweat would return to the Clinton Correctional Facility from where he escaped, but is more likely to go to another maximum security prison in the state

After their getaway driver failed to show up, the inmates then began focusing on the nearer foreign frontier of Canada.

Mitchell’s lawyer said Tuesday that the prison worker was ‘ecstatic both that the manhunt has ended’. 

Gene Palmer, a guard on the block where Matt and Sweat had cells next to each other, is also charged with promoting prison contraband.

He is accused of taking the two inmates frozen hamburger meat with tools hidden by Mitchell.

His former lawyer said that Palmer had no idea about the meat’s contents when he took it to Matt, which Wylie says Sweat agreed with.

Federal and state authorities are looking into lapses in security at Clinton Correctional Facility, as well as possible drug trafficking after there were reports of inmates using heroin.

Nine security staff at the prison and three members of the executive board were placed on adminstrative leave on Tuesday.

Additional punishment is unlikely to affect Sweat, who was serving life in prison without the possibility for parole before the escape for shooting a deputy 22 times then driving over him in 2002. 

Sources told ABC that interviews with Sweat have concluded as of Tuesday. 

Experts do not anticipate that Sweat will go back to Clinton Correctional Facility for fears of his safety. 

‘ACCOMPLICES': WHO ARE PRISON WORKERS JOYCE MITCHELL AND GENE PALMER? 

Joyce Mitchell, 51, and Gene Palmer, 57, are charged with helping Matt and Sweat escape.

JOYCE MITCHELL 

Mitchell, a married grandmother, faces up to eight years in jail if found guilty of ‘providing material assistance’ to the murderers.

She worked in the tailor shop at the prison – where her husband Lyle also works. 

It is believed she had affairs with both Matt and Sweat, who offered her drugs to kill her husband. Her co-worker claims Mitchell would ‘giggle’ around Matt, sneak him food, and take him into a cupboard for 30-minute sex sessions. 

And she allegedly agreed to be their getaway driver after they ‘charmed her’ into smuggling in tools. 

Speaking to the Today show, Lyle Mitchell said he had no idea of his wife’s involvement until she was called in for questioning when Matt and Sweat escaped on June 6. 

Joyce Mitchell
Mitchell in court

Joyce Mitchell (pictured, left, in her mug shot and, right, in court) allegedly had affairs with both Matt and Sweat. Her lawyer said that she is glad the manhunt is over

Lyle Mitchell (pictured) said he has since learned that Matt and Sweat offered his wife drugs as a bribe and told her to kill him

Lyle Mitchell (pictured) said he has since learned that Matt and Sweat offered his wife drugs as a bribe and told her to kill him

He recalled: ‘An investigator comes out and says, ‘Mr Mitchell, your wife is more involved than what she’s letting on’.

‘I asked her what was going on. She said, ‘I did some things… and I got over my head’. I didn’t know what to say. I was just… disbelief, shock.’

He went on: ‘She said, ‘I’ve got something else to tell you… their plan was they want to kill you’.’ 

According to Mr Mitchell, his wife ‘backed out’ of being the getaway driver for Matt and Sweat at the last minute because she could not bear to hurt her husband, and realized she was in ‘over her head’. 

He said he is in no doubt the men would have killed both of them if she had gone through with the plan.  

GENE PALMER

Palmer, a rock-guitar-playing guard, allegedly smuggled needle-nosed pliers and a flat-head screwdriver into the prison inside frozen meat for Matt and Sweat.

He also allegedly let Matt and Sweat inside a prohibited catwalk area to cook hot food. They used this route to escape.

In a statement to state police investigators, Palmer said Matt gave him ‘elaborate paintings and information on the illegal acts that inmates were committing within the facility,’ in exchange for ‘benefits,’ including, ‘paint, paintbrushes, movement of inmates, hamburger meat, altering of electrical boxes in the catwalk areas.’ 

Palmer is charged with first-degree promoting prison contraband, a felony, two counts of tampering with physical evidence, also a felony, and one count of official misconduct, a misdemeanor.

Palmer, a rock-guitar-playing guard, allegedly smuggled  a flat-head screwdriver into the prison inside frozen meat for Matt and Sweat

Palmer, a rock-guitar-playing guard, allegedly smuggled a flat-head screwdriver into the prison inside frozen meat for Matt and Sweat

Gene separated from his wife Laurie 10 years ago when her MS worsened, but he refused to divorce her and gave her the three-bedroom, two-bathroom house in Plattsburgh where they lived. He continues to pay her health insurance premiums too
Gene separated from his wife Laurie (pictured) 10 years ago when her MS worsened, but he refused to divorce her and gave her the three-bedroom, two-bathroom house in Plattsburgh where they lived. He continues to pay her health insurance premiums too

Gene separated from his wife Laurie (right) 10 years ago when her MS worsened, but he refused to divorce her and gave her the three-bedroom, two-bathroom house in Plattsburgh where they lived. He continues to pay her health insurance premiums too

He now lives with his long-term girlfriend Mary (pictured) and is a well-liked member of the community, locals say

He now lives with his long-term girlfriend Mary (pictured) and is a well-liked member of the community, locals say

Despite the indictment, he has received resounding support from the community, with many describing him as a kind man.

Though married, he has lived with his girlfriend for the past 10 years as his wife Laurie has severe multiple sclerosis. 

Gene and Laurie split in 2005 when her condition worsened and she did not wish to burden him.

But Gene refused to divorce her and gave her the three-bedroom, two-bathroom house in Plattsburgh where they lived. He continues to pay her health insurance premiums too.

Now that could be all in danger if, as likely, he loses his job at the Clinton Correctional Facility, where he has worked for 27 years. He is currently on paid administrative leave. 

ONE KILLED AND DISMEMBERED HIS BOSS WITH HIS BARE HANDS, THE OTHER PUMPED 22 BULLETS INTO A SHERIFF’S DEPUTY THEN RAN HIM OVER: THE GRISLY STORIES BEHIND RICHARD MATT AND DAVID SWEAT

Richard Matt, 49, and David Sweat, 35, were both serving life sentences in Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York, for murder. 

The pair had been present at the nighttime count on June 5, but by 5.30am on June 6 were missing from their adjoining cells.

They squeezed through holes neatly cut in the steel wall behind their beds, penetrated a brick wall and a steam pipe, and emerged from a manhole outside the prison’s 40-foot wall – prompting comparisons to the blockbuster movie Shawshank Redemption.

David Sweat
Richard Matt

David Sweat (left) was denied parole after admitting to shooting a deputy 22 times then driving over him in 2002. Richard Matt (right) killed his former boss with his bare hands then dismembered him and threw him in a river, then killed a man in Mexico, in 1997

‘Have a nice day!’ they smirked in a note left along the way.

Police believe they were heading for Canada on Friday when Matt was shot. Sweat was shot and captured alive on Sunday.

Sweat was sentenced to life with no possibility of parole after pleading guilty to the 2002 murder of a sheriff’s deputy. He made a plea deal to avoid the death penalty.

He admitted to pumping 22 bullets into Deputy Kevin Tarsia before running him over. Previously, he served time for an attempted burglary.

Unlike Matt, who left a trail of candy wrappers and footprints, Sweat left few traces in his wake.

Matt marked his 49th birthday while on the run with Sweat.

He was serving 25 years-to-life for killing and dismembering his former boss then fleeing to Mexico, where he killed again, in 1997.

Matt and Sweat left this note behind them after through holes neatly cut in the steel wall behind their beds

Matt and Sweat left this note behind them after through holes neatly cut in the steel wall behind their beds

Police said Matt was under the impression 72-year-old William Rickerson had money he could steal. He broke Rickerson’s fingers, drove around with him in his truck, then broke his neck with his bare hands, dismembering him, and threw him in a river. He then fled to Mexico, where he was arrested and jailed for killing a man outside a bar. 

In 2007, he was extradited to America, convicted of second-degree murder, and jailed in Clinton Correctional.  

Matt has a history of prison breaks and fleeing state custody, dating back to when he was 13 years old and ran away from a group home in Allegany State. Years later, he climbed over the fence of Erie County Correctional Facility, where he was serving a one-year sentence for assault. It took four days to track him down.

According to a former Clinton Correctional inmate, Matt was planning to commit suicide after his last appeal was denied.  

Xmas Holidays

Why alcohol makes you want a kebab after you’ve had a drink

  • First study to measure the role of women’s brains in moderating calorie intake following alcohol consumption
  • Found women were compelled to eat more after drinking alcohol
  • Scans revealed part of the brain – the hypothalamus – responded more to food odours, compared to non-food odours, after women drank alcohol

By

Lizzie Parry for MailOnline


Published:
05:04 EST, 1 July 2015

|
Updated:
07:58 EST, 1 July 2015

Scientists have discovered that the brain becomes more sensitive to food aromas, encouraging you to eat more after drinking alcohol

Scientists have discovered that the brain becomes more sensitive to food aromas, encouraging you to eat more after drinking alcohol

It is a familiar compulsion – the overwhelming need for a kebab, a burger or another calorie-rich treat in the early hours while you’re merrily under the influence of your favourite tipple.

Having consumed one or two too many alcoholic beverages – all laden with empty calories themselves – the post-booze binge just adds to the feelings of guilt and regret the next morning.

But scientists believe they have identified why women in particular are compelled to eat more after drinking alcohol.

It causes the brain to become more sensitive to food aromas, thus encouraging the appetite, scientists at Indiana University have revealed.

Researchers conducted the first study of its kind, measuring the brain’s role in mediating calorie intake following alcohol consumption in women.

The study, led by Dr William Eiler, adds to the current body of knowledge that alcohol increases food intake – dubbed the ‘aperitif effect’. 

But, the new findings show the increased intake does not solely rely on the oral ingestion of alcohol, and its absorption through the gut.

Dr Eiler said: ‘The brain, absent contributions from the gut, can play a vital role in regulating food intake.

‘Our study found that alcohol exposure can both increase the brain’s sensitivity to external food cues, like aromas, and result in greater food consumption.

‘Many alcoholic beverages already include empty calories, and when you combine those calories with the aperitif effect, it can lead to energy imbalance and possibly weight gain.’

Researchers conducted the study in 35 non-vegetarian, non-smoking women, all of a healthy weight.

To test the direct effects of alcohol on the brain, the scientists circumvented the digestive system by exposing each participant to intravenously administered alcohol at one study visit, and then to a placebo – saline – on another study visit, both before eating. 

The women were observed and their brain’s responses to food and non-food aromas were measured, via MRI scans.

After the scans were carried out, the women were offered the choice of pasta with Italian meat sauce or beef and noodles for lunch.

Researchers found that when women received intravenous alcohol, they ate more food at lunch, compared with when they were given the placebo. 

However, there were individual differences, with one-third of participants eating less after alcohol exposure when compared with placebo exposure. 

The area of the brain responsible for certain metabolic processes, the hypothalamus, highlighted in red,  responded more to food odours, compared to non-food odours, after the women received alcohol compared with a placebo of saline, scientists said

The area of the brain responsible for certain metabolic processes, the hypothalamus, highlighted in red, responded more to food odours, compared to non-food odours, after the women received alcohol compared with a placebo of saline, scientists said

The area of the brain responsible for certain metabolic processes, the hypothalamus, also responded more to food odours, compared to non-food odours, after the women received alcohol rather than saline.

The researchers concluded the hypothalamus may therefore play a role in moderating the impact of alcohol exposure on our sensitivity to food cues, contributing to the aperitif phenomenon.

Dr Binks, from Texas Tech Univeristy, said: ‘This research helps us to further understand the neural pathways involved in the relationship between food consumption and alcohol.

‘Often, the relationship between alcohol on eating is oversimplified; this study unveils a potentially more complex process in need of further study.’

The study’s  authors said for further research into the mechanism by which the hypothalamus affects food reward.

‘Today, nearly two-thirds of adults in the U.S. consume alcohol, with wine consumption rising, which reinforces the need to better understand how alcohol can contribute to overeating,’ added Dr Binks.

The study is published in the July issue of the journal Obesity, published by The Obesity Society.  

Xmas Holidays

Police searching for ‘missing’ Blue Peter legend John Noakes in Majorca

  • TV star disappeared near his home in Andratx on the island of Majorca
  • 81-year-old is suffering from Alzheimer’s and cannot speak any Spanish
  • Temperatures have hit 35C making it Spain’s hottest day of the year so far
  • Noakes wasn’t carrying any water and has been missing for several hours  
  • Police officers, local officials and family members have joined the search

By

Gerard Couzens for MailOnline


Published:
06:48 EST, 30 June 2015

|
Updated:
09:00 EST, 30 June 2015

Former Blue Peter presenter John Noakes has gone missing from his home in Majorca.

His wife Vicky has put out an appeal for information on his whereabouts after the 81-year-old disappeared this morning as temperatures hit 35C on Spain’s hottest day so far this year.

She said she last saw him around 9am and he wasn’t carrying any water or ID and spoke no Spanish. She also confirmed he had been suffering from Alzheimers for ‘some years.’

John Noakes
Vanished: Former Blue Peter presenter John Noakes has gone missing from his home in Majorca

Vanished: Former Blue Peter presenter John Noakes (pictured left in 2008 and right in his Blue Peter heyday) has gone missing from his home in the town of Andratz in Majorca. He is suffering from Alzheimers

Police officers in Andratx, Mallorca (pictured) are looking for the TV star after he failed to return from a walk

Police officers in Andratx, Mallorca (pictured) are looking for the TV star after he failed to return from a walk

Town hall officials in Andratx, where Mr Noakes lives, have also highlighted his disappearance on the council website. They have alerted local police who are also taking part in the search.

Mr Noakes remains Blue Peter’s longest-running presenter, with his stint on the show in the 1960s and 1970s lasting 12 years and six months.

Speaking today, Mrs Noakes said: ‘I’m just about to talk to the police again and I understand a bigger search is going to start soon with the Guardia Civil taking over from the local police.’

‘I have friends out looking for him and we covered all the areas of the locality we would expect to find him in… My concern is that because it’s extremely hot here today and he’s got no water he’ll get dehydrated,’ she added.

‘I’m concerned that maybe he’s had a fall somewhere where someone hasn’t been able to find him. If he’d fallen in a street someone would have picked him up and that wouldn’t have been a problem. But between where we live and Andratx it’s quite rural,’ she went on to say.

John Noakes is pictured meeting the Queen at Buckingham Palace to celebrate 50 years of Blue Peter in 2008

John Noakes is pictured meeting the Queen at Buckingham Palace to celebrate 50 years of Blue Peter in 2008

Mrs Noakes confirmed that her husband has been suffering from Alzheimers ‘for a number of years now’ and had been coping with the disease. 

‘But this is a little different this time and I am concerned because it is the hottest day of the year so far here…If he is wandering around, he’ll get more confused as he gets more dehydrated,’ she said 

Speaking of the moment she lost sight of her husband after catching up with him in the car when he left their house without warning this morning, she said: ‘I last saw him about 9 to 9.15am.

‘I did see him immediately after he left and was following him in the car to pick him up. But I couldn’t stop and went down a side street to park and when I went back to the main road he’d disappeared.’

‘It’s one kilometre from the end of the driveway towards the outskirts of Andratx and I saw him about halfway between the two.

‘He doesn’t speak any Spanish and refuses to carry any identification. and I think any expat would have realised he’s a bit confused and found someone to hand him over to.

‘But who knows in this situation. It’s uncharted territory really. All I am very concerned about is that it should have happened when it was so hot.

Long-serving: John Noakes (pictured far right with Peter Purves, Lesley Judd and Valerie Singleton) remains Blue Peter's longest-running presenter. His stint in the 1960s and 1970s lasted 12 years and six months

Long-serving: John Noakes (pictured far right with Peter Purves, Lesley Judd and Valerie Singleton) remains Blue Peter’s longest-running presenter. His stint in the 1960s and 1970s lasted 12 years and six months

Mrs Noakes said her husband didn’t tell her that he was leaving the house before vanishing but said he would often walk to the end of the drive to visit a neighbour’s dog.

‘What was abnormal this morning was that having followed him down to pick him up I couldn’t arrange to stop where he was and pick him up so had to carry on.

‘I think in those few moments he’s either shot off, gone off somewhere else or taken a different turning but at the moment I just don’t know.’

Mr Noakes was wearing marine blue shorts and a blue and white top when he disappeared.

A local police officer said: ‘He’s not been formally reported missing but we are searching for him along with Civil Guard officers.

‘We’ve been told he’s suffering Alzheimer’s and disappeared from his home about a mile from Andratx around 8.30am this morning…He apparently does occasionally go walking down to Andratx so we’re looking along the route he’d normally take.

‘The worrying thing obviously is his state of health and the fact he left home with nothing but the clothes he was wearing and temperatures at the moment are around 95 degrees (35C).

‘If he’s still missing around 2pm local time, then the search area will be widened and a bigger team brought in to look for him.’

John Noakes and his former Blue Peter co-host Valerie Singleton arrive at Buckingham Palace in 2008

John Noakes and his former Blue Peter co-host Valerie Singleton arrive at Buckingham Palace in 2008

Peter Pervis, Valerie Singleton and John Noakes are seen at the National Television Awards in 2008

Peter Pervis, Valerie Singleton and John Noakes are seen at the National Television Awards in 2008

Andratx Town Hall posted a picture of Mr Noakes on its website alongside the message: ‘We’re asking for the public’s help in finding a missing man.

‘He’s wearing marine blue shots and a white and blue shirt. He’s 81 years old.’

Mr Noakes trained as an aircraft engine fitter for the RAF before deciding to become an actor.

He joined Blue Peter as a presenter in December 1965 and usually fulfilled the role of action man in the series.

He looked after Patch, the son of the first Blue Peter dog Petra, before being given a replacement called Shep after Patch’s sudden death in 1971.

His attempts to control the excitable Shep led to his memorable catchphrase ‘Get Down Shep.’

Xmas Holidays

Police stage mock Tunisia-style attack in London with Operation Strong Tower

  • Two-day ‘live play’ exercise in Aldwych near Covent Garden includes 999 services and intelligence agencies
  • Armed police, the military, SAS and spies stage extraordinary show of force to test reaction to a terror attack
  • Actors posing as members of the public seen with fake severed limbs and emerging from a hostage situation
  • Exercise, which recreates a terrorist incident at a tube station, comes amid fears of a ‘lone wolf’ attack in the UK
  • It follows similar ‘marauding‘ gun attacks in Mumbai, Sydney, Paris and the Tunisia shooting on Friday

By

Matt Chorley, Political Editor for MailOnline


Published:
00:17 EST, 30 June 2015

|
Updated:
08:59 EST, 30 June 2015

Armed police, the military, SAS and spies are staging a mock ‘marauding terrorist attack’ on the streets of London today to test how emergency services deal with a deadly atrocity in the wake of the ISIS killings in Tunisia.

In the biggest exercise of its kind ever staged, Operation Strong Tower is a ‘noisy and visible’ practice run for more than 1,000 Met police, armed forces, transport workers and Whitehall officials.

In extraordinary scenes, volunteers posing as members of the public have been see with bloody wounds and fake severed limbs being lifted on stretchers by the emergency services. 

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Maxine de Brunner says the Met has never before put on an exercise of this magnitude and it was designed to be ‘very realistic’. 

The dramatic public display of how the UK’s security services would respond to an extremist’s deadly assault comes as efforts continue to identify British holidaymakers killed by an ISIS gunman on Friday.

Scroll down for video 

Police and emergency services staged an exercise today to practice for a Tunisia-style terrorist attack in the centre of London

Police and emergency services staged an exercise today to practice for a Tunisia-style terrorist attack in the centre of London

Actors playing victims of an imagined terror attack at a tube station were seen sporting gruesome fake injuries during the exercise
Actors playing victims of an imagined terror attack at a tube station were seen sporting gruesome fake injuries during the exercise

Actors playing victims of an imagined terror attack at a tube station were seen sporting gruesome fake injuries during the exercise

Armed police were also seen piling into a disused London Underground station earlier this morning as part of the exercise

Details of the plan were made public in advance to prevent panic, as police chiefs said it would include ‘live play’ of a terrorist attack at a tube station, days before London marks 10 years since the 7/7 bombings which killed 52 people. 

David Cameron said today’s operation will ‘test and refine the UK’s preparedness for dealing with a serious terrorist attack’.

The two-day training exercise began in central London this morning to see how a large number of agencies work together in the face of a chaotic and dangerous situation.

Ms de Brunner, the exercise director, said: ‘The exercise is designed to test command control and coordination of a multi-site marauding terrorist attack.’

This morning it included ‘a test of the emergency service response to a terrorist attack, at the disused tube station at Aldwych’.

Surrey Street, which runs from the Strand to the Thames, was closed in the exercise which has been ‘highly visible and audible to the public’.

The exercise started with a group of terrorists running down the street shooting pedestrians with dummy AK-47 rifles
The exercise started with a group of terrorists running down the street shooting pedestrians with dummy AK-47 rifles

The exercise started with a group of terrorists running down the street shooting pedestrians with dummy AK-47 rifles

TV footage of the incident showed armour-covered police officers treating mock victims marked with signs during the staged 'attack'

TV footage of the incident showed armour-covered police officers treating mock victims marked with signs during the staged ‘attack’

Many of those taking part had blood-soaked clothes and injuries so that police and ambulance services could practice triage
Many of those taking part had blood-soaked clothes and injuries so that police and ambulance services could practice triage

Many of those taking part had blood-soaked clothes and injuries so that police and ambulance services could practice triage

The first officers to arrive on the scene of the fake terror attack were ‘put through their paces by mounting an operation to contain the area, evacuate the public, rescue and treat the wounded, manage a crime scene and importantly catch the people responsible’, the Deputy Assistant Commissioner said.

The exercise is designed to test command control and coordination of a multi-site marauding terrorist attack
Scotland Yard’s Maxine de Brunner

Many of those taking part had blood-soaked clothes and injuries so that police and ambulance services could practice triage. Others appeared to be playing hostages as they emerged appeared from a building near the old Aldwych tube station with their hands on their heads.

Police stressed that the ambitious exercise had been planned since January, but it will take on extra significance after the deadly shootings in Tunisia.

Met Police Commissioner, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, said: ‘The threat level for terrorism has been raised over the last year and it is vital that we train and we learn.

‘Today’s exercise will test our people in how to respond to a terrorist threat and we will learn from the mistakes that we are bound to make today. 

‘It’s best we make them today in an environment were we don’t have terrorists, than make those mistakes when we do.’

The rate of terror-related arrests has increased in the last year, he said to the point where one person is caught every day.

The exercise to help police, ambulance services and officials anticipate how they would deal with a real terror attack in the capital

The exercise to help police, ambulance services and officials anticipate how they would deal with a real terror attack in the capital

Police had to deal with people displaying a range of injuries during the training exercise, which comes after the Tunisia shooting
Police had to deal with people displaying a range of injuries during the training exercise, which comes after the Tunisia shooting

Police had to deal with people displaying a range of injuries during the training exercise, which comes after the Tunisia shooting

The exercise showed the large number of anti-terror police the Met now has at is disposal, with a new unit said to include 130 officers

The exercise showed the large number of anti-terror police the Met now has at is disposal, with a new unit said to include 130 officers

‘It is clear during that time that we’ve disrupted some very serious plots and some of those cases are going to the courts.

The reason we have exercises like today is because, obviously, we are concerned there are people planning terrorist events 

‘We are testing here today in London, our capital city; I think people would expect us to do that. 

‘We’ve got lots of good leaders and lots of well trained people who are able to respond to the terrorist threat. The reason that we have these exercises is to make sure we are well trained.’ 

Sir Bernard added: ‘The reason we have exercises like today is because, obviously, we are concerned there are people planning terrorist events. We intend first of all to stop them from getting to attack. But should we not stop the terrorists in their planning, it’s essential we disrupt them in any of the attacks that may take place.’ 

The exercise includes 1,000 Met police officers and staff, as well as teams from ambulance and fire services, Transport for London, the Home Office, Cabinet Office, Foreign Office, Department for Transport, Ministry of Defence, Department of Health, NHS England and the Department for Communities and Local Government.

Miss de Brunner said: ‘This exercise is focused in the extreme end of what may happen, and I’d like to stress it is not being carried out in response to any specific intelligence

‘And I’d like to reiterate to you all that this has been months in the planning – since January.’

Other police teams appeared outside Aldwych station in red uniforms which include heavy body armour

Other police teams appeared outside Aldwych station in red uniforms which include heavy body armour

Volunteers playing hostages appeared from a building near the old Aldwych tube station with their hands on their heads
Volunteers playing hostages appeared from a building near the old Aldwych tube station with their hands on their heads

Volunteers playing hostages appeared from a building near the old Aldwych tube station with their hands on their heads

Police were seen evacuating scores of people from the disused Underground station, some of whom appeared to have lost limbs

Police were seen evacuating scores of people from the disused Underground station, some of whom appeared to have lost limbs

She added: ‘We do not want the public to be concerned because there will be elements of what we are doing that are noisy and visible.’

However, police and intelligence services believe the biggest threat against Britain comes from an attack by a ‘lone wolf’ who is not connected to any wider terror cell.

Security officials say they are the hardest plots to disrupt because they can be the work of a single person with little or no contact with known terrorists groups.

Police have had to draw up plans on how to respond to an ongoing gun attack, in which the perpetrators target dozens of people in public areas over a long period, as seen in Mumbai in 2008.

Fears of a ‘marauding’ gun attack have been raised after 18 people were taken hostage and two died in a siege in a coffee shop in Sydney last December, and the attack on the offices of the Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris in January in which 12 people died.

On Friday gunman Seifeddine Rezgui targeted tourists at the Tunisian beach resort of El Kantaoui near Sousse, killing 38 people including at least 18 British holidaymakers, making it the worst terror attack on Britons since the July 7 London bombings in 2005.

It was reported this morning that Scotland Yard has been training a special unit of armed police to deal with such situations
It was reported this morning that Scotland Yard has been training a special unit of armed police to deal with such situations

It was reported this morning that Scotland Yard has been training a special unit of armed police to deal with such situations

Actors playing victims of the staged attack were seen being dragged away in slings by armed police

Actors playing victims of the staged attack were seen being dragged away in slings by armed police

The exercise is one of the biggest of its kind ever conducted by the emergency services in London

The exercise is one of the biggest of its kind ever conducted by the emergency services in London

Police chiefs argue they are better prepared for an attack than a decade ago, but have ordered today’s training exercise to adapt to the evolving threat.

Miss de Brunner said: ‘Sadly London is no stranger to terrorism and we, alongside our colleagues, have had to deal with the tragic events of July 2005.

‘Given the changing nature of the very real terrorism threat and events around the world – Paris and Australia – we need to constantly adapt our plans and prepare for new and emerging threats.’

She added: ‘What is vitally important to all the agencies involved, who routinely work together, and to Londoners is that when the very worst happens we are prepared to be the very best that we can and understand how each other will all operate together

‘We have sound plans and highly dedicated, brave staff, that Londoners can be confident in.

‘However, only through testing and exercising, constantly challenging our assumptions, refining our tactics and learning from our own experiences and those from others around the world can we be confident in our ability to respond.’ 

The extraordinary display of force comes days after ISIS gunman Seifeddine Rezgui gunned down 38 innocent tourists, including up to 30 Britons, on a beach in Tunisia

The extraordinary display of force comes days after ISIS gunman Seifeddine Rezgui gunned down 38 innocent tourists, including up to 30 Britons, on a beach in Tunisia

Fears of a 'marauding' gun attack have been raised after 18 people were taken hostage and two died in a siege in a coffee shop in Sydney last December,
The attack on the offices of the Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris in January

Fears of a ‘marauding’ gun attack have been raised after 18 people were taken hostage and two died in a siege in a coffee shop in Sydney last December, and the attack on the offices of the Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris in January in which 12 people died

It comes as the police launched their biggest counter-terror operation for a decade over fears a ‘lone wolf’ attack could be launched using sub-machine guns smuggled into Britain.

The National Crime Agency has warned of the ‘increased threat’ posed by Skorpion weapons from the Czech Republic imported by gangs which could be used to kill dozens of people in copycat of the attack in Tunisia on Friday.

Scotland Yard has drafted in 600 officers – the biggest since the 7/7 bombings – and the Army is on standby to support police.

Terror manuals outlining how to make bombs and use firearms effectively are also being circulated by British extremists online. The interactive guides, which encourage ‘lone wolf’ attacks, were compiled by a militant from England who claims to have links to ISIS.

They include step-by-step instructions on how to make car bombs ‘Iraqi style’ and a piece on staying anonymous while using a smartphone. 

David Cameron said today's operation would 'test and refine the UK's preparedness for dealing with a serious terrorist attack'

David Cameron said today’s operation would ‘test and refine the UK’s preparedness for dealing with a serious terrorist attack’

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