News Round-Up

Dec 15: Cameron cover-up?; Harry phone hacking verdict; Three-Vodafone merger questioned

Here are the headlines on Friday, December 15

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Time 6:56 am, December 15, 2023

Government accused of ‘cover-up’ over Cameron’s financial interests declaration

The Conservative government has been accused of a ‘cover-up’ after transparency documents showed only that foreign secretary Lord Cameron holds financial interests in a ‘blind trust’.

The ‘blind management arrangement’ was mentioned in an updated list of ministers’ interests published on Thursday. It is the same arrangement deployed by prime minister Rishi Sunak to list his own financial interests in the register.

The Liberal Democrats said Lord Cameron should reveal a ‘full list’ of his financial interests ‘if he has nothing to hide’. Compiled by Sir Laurie Magnus, the independent adviser on ministers’ interests, Lord Cameron is also listed as being a ‘prospective beneficiary of a family trust with no oversight’.


Harry to discover outcome of hacking claim against Mirror Group Newspapers

The Duke of Sussex will discover the outcome of his unlawful information gathering claim against a tabloid newspaper publisher in a High Court ruling on Friday.

Harry, 39, sued Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN) for damages, claiming journalists at its titles – the Daily and Sunday Mirror and Sunday People – were linked to methods including phone hacking, so-called ‘blagging’ or gaining information by deception, and use of private investigators for unlawful activities.

His case was heard alongside similar claims brought by actor Michael Turner, who is known professionally as Michael Le Vell and is most famous for playing Kevin Webster in Coronation Street, actress Nikki Sanderson and comedian Paul Whitehouse’s ex-wife, Fiona Wightman. The allegations in their claims about unlawful activity at MGN’s titles cover a period from as early as 1991 until at least 2011, the court was told.


Hungarian leader blocks EU aid package for Ukraine

The European Union has failed to agree on a 50bn euro (£43bn) aid package for Ukraine, even after deciding to open accession negotiations with the war-torn country.

The aid was vetoed by Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban on Thursday, delivering another tough blow to Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky after he failed this week to persuade US politicians to approve an additional 61bn dollars (£47.8bn), mainly to buy weapons from the US.

Hungary’s leader decided not to veto the accession talks, but then blocked the aid package. The financial package could not be endorsed after Orban vetoed both the extra money and a review of the EU budget having warned the summit that forcing a decision on the Ukraine issues could destroy EU unity.

Missing boy found in France ‘wanted to see grandmother and have normal future’

A British schoolboy who has been discovered in France after he was believed to have been abducted by his mother six years ago ‘wanted to see his grandmother and have a normal future’, according to the delivery driver who found him.

Alex Batty, who is now 17, went missing in 2017 after going on a family holiday to Spain.

Detectives believe he was abducted by his mother Melanie Batty to live an ‘alternative’ lifestyle abroad.Chiropody student Fabien Accidini had offered the teenager a lift in the early hours of Wednesday after spotting him walking alone near the city of Toulouse. The teenager said he had been hiking in nearby mountains for more than four days in an attempt to return to England.

Consumer confidence increases amid Christmas cheer

Consumer confidence has increased amid Christmas cheer in a small but much-needed boost for retailers, figures show.

GfK’s long-running Consumer Confidence Index increased two points in December but remains firmly in negative territory at minus 22.

Expectations for the general economic situation over the next 12 months increased by one point to minus 25 but has risen to 28 points higher than a year ago. Notably, confidence in personal finances – reflecting household financial optimism and control over budgets – has recovered from the depressed minus 29 of a year ago to minus 2.


Thursday Car Dealer headlines you might have missed

Ministers warned to call in Three-Vodafone merger over national security risks

The government must call in a planned merger of mobile phone companies Three and Vodafone for closer inspection because of national security risks, the head of the Commons business and trade committee has said.

Labour former minister Liam Byrne suggested the deal could leave communications at the heart of government, the Cabinet Office, at risk of exploitation by the Chinese state.

Under the terms of the merger, Vodafone would own 51% of the new company, with CK Hutchinson, the Hong Kong-based owner of Three, taking the remaining 49% stake. The two companies have previously told MPs that the proposals could create thousands of new jobs in the UK, but trade unions warned it could lead to higher prices for consumers.

National Highways unveils plans for 150 emergency areas for smart motorways

National Highways has announced where 150 extra emergency areas are to be created in a bid to make smart motorways safer.

In April, the government announced the cancellation of planned projects to build all-lane running (ALR) smart motorways, which can use the hard shoulder as a live traffic lane.

Eleven stretches of motorways in England have been identified to be upgraded with the places to stop, while work is already underway on doubling the number of areas on the M1 in south Yorkshire, combined this will bring the total to 150. It is part of a £900m scheme aimed at improving the network by 2025, while a total of £105m is being spent on improving operational technology.

Weather

Sunny spells for many this morning, reports BBC Weather. Northern and western areas will cloud over and see some showers later on. Temperatures will be around the 10 degrees mark for most areas.

Clearer areas will gradually turn cloudy tonight. The north-west will be windy with outbreaks of rain.

James Batchelor's avatar

James – or Batch as he’s known – started at Car Dealer in 2010, first as the work experience boy, eventually becoming editor in 2013. He worked for Auto Express as editor-at-large and was the face of Carbuyer’s YouTube reviews. In 2020, he went freelance and now writes for a number of national titles and contributes regularly to Car Dealer. In October 2021 he became Car Dealer's associate editor.

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