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Iran plane crash: Tributes to three British nationals killed

Mohammed Reza Kadkhoda Zadeh, Sam Zokaei and Saeed Tahmasebi

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Mohammed Reza Kadkhoda Zadeh, Sam Zokaei and Saeed Tahmasebi were all on board

Tributes have been paid to three British nationals who died when a Ukrainian plane crashed in Iran.

Mohammed Reza Kadkhoda Zadeh, who owned a dry cleaners, BP engineer Sam Zokaei and PhD student and engineer Saeed Tahmasebi were all on board the flight.

They were among the 176 people from seven countries who died in the crash.

Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752 crashed just after taking off from Imam Khomeini airport at 06:12 local time (02:42 GMT).

The airline said the plane underwent scheduled maintenance on Monday.

A Downing Street spokesman said the UK was “working closely with the Ukrainian authorities and the Iranian authorities” over the crash, and there was “no indication” the plane was brought down by a missile.

As well as the three Britons, the victims in the crash included 82 Iranians, 63 Canadians, 11 Ukrainians – including all of the crew, 10 Swedes, four Afghans and three Germans, Ukraine foreign affairs minister Vadym Prystaiko said.

Rescue teams have been sent to the crash site but the head of Iran’s Red Crescent told state media that it was “impossible” for anyone to have survived the crash.

Tributes were paid locally to Mr Kadkhoda Zadeh, 40, who ran a neighbourhood dry cleaners in Hassocks, West Sussex, and had a nine-year-old daughter.

Steve Edgington from the pet shop next door said he had known Mr Kadkhoda Zadeh for 14 years, and described him as a lovely, hardworking man who was good at his job and loved by staff.

Savvas Savvidis, 36, who rented a room in Mr Kadkhoda Zadeh’s home in Brighton, said he was a “super-nice person”.

“It’s so sad. Before he left we had a conversation, he told me that he spent all his life working, working really hard, and now finally he wants to start to enjoy life a bit more.”

Mr Savvidis described Mr Kadkhoda Zadeh as a humble man who loved his daughter very much.

The dry cleaners closed on Wednesday, with neighbouring businesses telling the BBC that staff were too upset to stay open.

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A sign on the window of Mr Kadkhoda Zadeh’s dry cleaners in Hassocks

Meanwhile, in a statement, BP said “with the deepest regret” that its employee Mr Zokaei, 42, from Twickenham, was among the passengers.

Mr Zokaei had been on holiday. He had worked for BP for 14 years and was based at the company’s site in Sunbury-on-Thames in Middlesex.

“We are shocked and deeply saddened by this tragic loss of our friend and colleague and all of our thoughts are with his family and friends,” BP said.

A friend of Mr Zokaei, who did not wish to be named, told the BBC they were “still in shock”.

“He was a highly accomplished person. Very clever and very friendly. Always smiling and full of positive energy. He will be sorely missed.

“He was always trying new adventures. He cycled and toured Europe on bikes a few times. He also loved travelling to interesting far out places.”

Also killed was Mr Tahmasebi, 35, who worked as an engineer for Laing O’Rourke in Dartford.

Last year, Mr Tahmasebi married his Iranian partner, Niloufar Ebrahim, who was also listed as a passenger on the plane.

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Mr Tahmasebi, pictured here last Valentine’s Day, recently married his partner

“Everyone here is shocked and saddened by this very tragic news,” said Laing O’Rourke.

“Saeed was a popular and well respected engineer and will be missed by many of his colleagues. Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this most difficult time and we will do all we can to support them through it.”

‘Humble and generous’

Mr Tahmasebi – whose full name was Saeed Tahmasebi Khademasadi – was also a part-time PhD student at Imperial College London’s Centre for Systems Engineering and Innovation.

A spokeswoman for the university said: “We are deeply saddened at this tragic news. Saeed Tahmasebi Khademasadi was a brilliant engineer with a bright future.

“His contributions to systems engineering earned respect from everyone who dealt with him and will benefit society for years to come.

“He was a warm, humble and generous colleague and close friend to many in our community. Our thoughts and sincere condolences are with Saeed’s family, friends and colleagues, as well as all those affected by this tragedy.”

At Prime Minister’s Questions earlier, Boris Johnson and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn both said their thoughts were with the families of those killed.

A UK Foreign Office spokesman has said: “We are deeply saddened by the loss of life in the plane crash in Iran overnight.”

They said it was “urgently seeking confirmation” about how many British nationals were on board and would be supporting any families affected.

Melinda Simmons, British ambassador to Ukraine, said her thoughts are with those affected.

Ukraine’s state aviation service has forbidden its national airlines from using Iranian airspace from Thursday, with the restrictions in place until an investigation into the cause of the crash has concluded.

Ukraine’s embassy in Tehran and Iranian state television both initially said technical issues caused the crash.

But the embassy later removed this statement and said any comment regarding the cause of the accident prior to a commission’s inquiry was not official.

Ukraine said its entire civilian aviation fleet would be checked for airworthiness and criminal proceedings would be opened into the disaster.

The country’s president warned against “speculation or unchecked theories regarding the catastrophe” until official reports were ready.

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Flowers were laid outside the Canadian embassy in Kiev in remembrance of the 63 Canadians on board the flight

Ukrainian International Airlines said the flight disappeared from radar just a “few minutes” after take-off.

The Ukrainian national carrier said according to preliminary data there were 167 passengers and nine crew members on board but its staff were “clarifying the exact number”.

“The airline expresses its deepest condolences to the families of the victims of the air crash and will do everything possible to support the relatives of the victims,” a statement said.

The airline, which is investigating the crash, said the aircraft – a Boeing 737-800 – was built in 2016 and had its last scheduled maintenance on Monday.

There was no sign of any problems with the plane before take-off and the airline’s president said it had an “excellent, reliable crew”.

A statement from Boeing said its “heartfelt thoughts” were with all those affected following the “tragic event”.

There are several thousand Boeing 737-800s in operation around the world which have completed tens of millions of flights. They have been involved in 10 incidents, including this crash, where at least one passenger was killed, aviation safety analyst Todd Curtis told the BBC.

This is the first time a Ukraine International Airlines plane has been involved in a fatal crash.

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Stanwell crash: Three BA cabin crew dead in New Year’s Eve collision

Bedfont Road,

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The Mercedes HGV left the road after colliding with a white Toyota Yaris

Three British Airways cabin crew members died in a crash involving a lorry and a car outside Heathrow Airport on New Year’s Eve.

A white Toyota Yaris collided with a Mercedes HGV on Bedfont Road, in Stanwell, at about 23:40 GMT.

Two men aged 25 and 23 and a 20-year-old woman, who were in the Yaris, died at the scene. A fourth passenger, a 25 year-old woman, was seriously injured.

British Airways said it was “deeply saddened” by the news.

A spokesperson said: “Our thoughts are with their family and friends, who we are supporting at this distressing time.”

Their next of kin have been informed.

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UK News in Pictures

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A crime scene remains in place along Bedfont Road

The driver of the lorry was taken to hospital as a precaution.

The road remained closed on Wednesday to allow the lorry to be recovered.

The lorry was operated by air services provider dnata, which offers ground handling, cargo, travel, and flight catering services to airlines.

A dnata spokesman said: “We can confirm that one of our trucks was involved in a road traffic accident on the evening of 31 December.

“We are fully assisting relevant authorities with their investigations. Our thoughts and condolences are with the families of those affected by this very sad incident.”

Sgt Chris Schultze, of Surrey and Sussex Roads Policing Unit, said: “We are continuing to appeal for witnesses to what happened and would urge anyone who may have any video footage, CCTV or dash cam or any other kind, to get in touch with us.”

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London’s City Hall provides Christmas meals for homeless

Sadiq Khan hands out food

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Sadiq Khan helped serve 100 Christmas Dinners to guests at City Hall

Christmas dinners have been served to Londoners who are reliant on the city’s homelessness services.

Hairdressers and opticians were also made available at City Hall before guests were given a three-course meal.

Last year, 8,855 people were seen rough sleeping in London, an 18% increase since last year, and more than double the number in 2010.

“Events like this help bring a sense of community back in to London,” Claire, a former rough sleeper, told the BBC.

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Claire said she had been “looking forward” to the Christmas Dinner

Claire, who spent 30 years either living on the streets or in prison, said: “It’s the type of event that does matter. It forms partnerships and builds bonds.

“If it wasn’t for the support of St Mungo’s, I’d either be dead or doing what I was before.”

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Guests were treated to rendition of carols by the London International Gospel Choir

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Around 100 people who use London’s homeless services were invited to City Hall

Guests were chosen from the thousands of Londoners that currently receive assistance from services funded by City Hall and delivered by charities St Mungo’s and Thames Reach.

But Claire said services were still “hit and miss”.

“Where I live I’m still waiting for support with my mental health,” she added.

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Sadiq Khan said “it is shameful that in one of the richest cities in the world we still have the levels rough sleeping that we do”

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Guests were given a three-course Christmas Dinner

Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “St Mungo’s and Thames Reach are struggling with finances.

“Since I became mayor we’ve more than doubled the amount of money we’ve spent on rough sleeping and the size of our outreach team.

“But we’re just scratching the surface. We’ve not got the money or the resources to do much more – as it is I’m criticised for going outside my remit and my power.

“It is both heartbreaking and shameful that in one of the richest cities in the world we still have the levels rough sleeping that we do.”

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Free opticians services were put on by charity Humanity First

Last year 15,470 people were accepted as being homeless by London councils.

There were 55,000 families living in temporary accommodation, such as bed and breakfasts and hostels.

Hundreds more people are estimated to be sleeping on London’s night buses.

Petra Salva, Director of Rough Sleeper Services at St Mungo’s, said: “It’s wonderful that the Mayor has opened the doors of City Hall for this festive event.

“Christmas can be a time of mixed emotions for clients in our services and our staff work hard to support those who stay with us over the holiday period.”

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Jaden Moodie murder: Man jailed for gang killing

Jaden Moodie

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Jaden Moodie was stabbed by rival gang member

A man has been jailed for murdering a 14-year-old boy in a “savage, frenzied” attack.

Jaden Moodie was knocked off a moped and repeatedly stabbed by rival gang member Ayoub Majdouline in Bickley Road, Leyton, in January.

The drug dealer was found guilty of the murder on 11 December after his DNA was found on the murder weapon.

Majdouline, 19, of Wembley, was sentenced at the Old Bailey to life with a minimum term of 21 years.

As Jaden’s family left court, his father Julian Moodie said he was happy with the sentence, adding: “British justice has been done.”

Sentencing Majdouline, Judge Richard Marks said he could not “ignore the evidence” about Jaden’s drug dealing and other criminal-related history.

“That he became so involved starting at the age of 13 is truly shocking but none of that means he deserved to die, still less in the circumstances in which he did,” he said.

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Met Police

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Ayoub Majdouline was found guilty of Jaden’s murder by a majority of 11 to one

Majdouline was one of five men linked to the stabbing who drove around east London in a stolen Mercedes looking for members of a rival gang to attack on the night of 8 January, the court heard.

The group, linked to drug gang the Mali Boys, had covered their faces and two of them, including Majdouline, wore yellow rubber gloves to avoid being identified.

The killing was caught on graphic CCTV, which was shown at the trial.

Once the group spotted Jaden, he was knocked off his moped by the car.

Gang members then got out of the car and stabbed him while he lay on the ground.

Jaden, who was dealing drugs for rival gang the Beaumont Crew, suffered nine stab wounds and bled to death in the road as the attackers ran back to the car and sped off, the court heard.

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Met Police

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CCTV of the moment Jaden was knocked off a moped and stabbed to death was shown to jurors

In a victim impact statement, Jaden’s mother Jada Bailey said her son was a “loving and caring, family-orientated little boy” and described his murder as “barbaric”.

Ms Bailey said she felt “let down” by organisations she had turned to for help.

She told the BBC she had complained to social services about her son being groomed by gangs, and moved 140 miles from Nottinghamshire to Waltham Forest in east London to escape trouble.

“I feel like all this could have been avoided,” she said.

“No parent should have to bury their child before themselves.”

Majdouline had a “non-existent childhood” and was particularly traumatised by the murder of his father, the court heard.

Three years after his father’s death, he was identified by the National Crime Agency as a victim of “modern slavery”.

His lawyer James Scobie QC told the court: “He had significant disruption by experiences of trauma and exposure to certain ideologies that no-one of any age should be exposed to.”

Giving evidence in the trial, Majdouline said he had turned to county lines drug dealing “to survive”.

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Met Police

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Blood-stained rubber gloves worn by Majdouline were found near the crime scene

Det Insp Dave Hillier said the Met Police’s “work is not over yet” and the investigation was still live.

“We know that there were five people in that black Mercedes,” he said.

“After deliberately ramming Jaden off his moped, his attackers did not think twice about carrying out a savage, frenzied attack on him – stabbing him nine times in seven seconds while he laid defenceless on the ground.”

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London homicides highest for year since 2008

Forensics on scene

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The number of homicides has hit the highest number since 2008 when there was 155

The number of killings in London has topped last year’s total and is the highest annual number for more than a decade, police figures show.

The fatal stabbing of 47-year-old James O’Keefe in Hornsey on Monday took the capital’s 2019’s homicide rate to 142.

The figure, which includes murders and manslaughters, is the highest number since 2008, a year when the Met investigated 154 deaths.

The force said a total of 133 homicides were recorded in 2018.

This year’s figure includes 137 homicide investigations by the Met, two by British Transport Police and the two fatal stabbings at London Bridge last month, investigated by City of London Police.

More than half of 2019’s victims were stabbed to death and 23 were teenagers – the highest number of such victims for more than a decade – figures collated by the BBC shows.

“Each one of these cases is a tragedy, not just for the victims, their families and friends, but also for our wider communities who are left reeling by these acts of senseless violence,” a police spokesman said.

“Tackling violence is the number one priority for the Metropolitan Police Service. One homicide, one stabbing, one violent incident, is simply one too many.”

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Met Police

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Jaden Moodie, 14, was the youngest person to be killed in the capital, in 2019

Jaden Moodie, 14, was the youngest person to be killed in the capital, in 2019.

Ayoub Majdouline, 19 and from Wembley, is currently on trial for his murder.

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Jodie was stabbed in the back in an unprovoked attack as she sat in a park in East London on 1 March

Jodie Chesney, who was stabbed to death in east London, was another teenager to die this year.

The 17-year-old was knifed in the back as she sat with friends in Harold Hill, on 1 March.

Svenson Ong-a-Kwie, 19, and Arron Isaacs, 17, of Barking, were both convicted last month of her murder, following an eight-week trial at the Old Bailey.

Analysis

Danny Shaw, BBC Home Affairs correspondent

When Dame Cressida Dick took over as Metropolitan Police Commissioner in 2017, she said her priority was to tackle violent crime.

But the number of cases of murder and manslaughter in London has continued to rise.

With almost three weeks of the year remaining, there have already been 142 killings, nine more than last year and the highest number since 154 people died in 2008.

Most of the cases are being investigated by the Met. The force said it was working “tirelessly” to help bring offenders to justice and take weapons off the streets.

Lib Peck, Director of the Violence Reduction Unit at City Hall, says the number of those aged in their 20s, who are injured by knives, is beginning to drop.

“We are really determined to route out the causes this terrible phenomenon and the importance is that we are really investing in preventative measures.”

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London Bridge: Usman Khan completed untested rehabilitation scheme

London Bridge scene

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London Bridge attacker Usman Khan attended two counter-terrorism programmes that had not been fully tested to see if they were effective, BBC News has discovered.

Khan, who was convicted of a terrorism offence in 2012, killed Jack Merritt, 25, and Saskia Jones, 23, on Friday.

He had completed two rehabilitation schemes during the eight years he spent in prison and following his release.

The government says such programmes are kept “under constant review”.

Three others were injured after Khan launched the attack at a prisoner rehabilitation event inside Fishmongers’ Hall near London Bridge.

Inquests into the deaths of Mr Merritt and Ms Jones were opened and adjourned at the Old Bailey on Wednesday.

The court heard that both of them died after being stabbed in the chest. The date for the full inquests is still to be decided.

During his time in prison, Khan completed a course for people convicted of extremism offences and after his release went on a scheme to address the root causes of terrorism.

The first course Khan went on, the Healthy Identity Intervention Programme, was piloted from 2010 and is now the main rehabilitation scheme for prisoners convicted of offences linked to extremism.

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Usman Khan had been jailed in 2012

Last year, the Ministry of Justice published the findings of research into the pilot project which found it was “viewed positively” by a sample of those who attended and ran the course.

However, the department has not completed any work to test whether the scheme prevents reoffending or successfully tackles extremist behaviour.

There has also been no evaluation of the impact of the Desistance and Disengagement Programme, which Khan took part in after his release last year.

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Media captionWhat happened at London Bridge?

Government officials pointed out that the schemes have not been operating for long enough for the results to be assessed, but a spokesperson said all offender behaviour programmes were kept under constant review.

The spokesperson said: “All our offender behaviour programmes are monitored, evaluated and kept under constant review to ensure that they are effective in reducing reoffending and protecting the public.”

Experimental schemes

The Home Office “fact-sheet” on the Desistence and Disengagement programme contains eight pieces of “key information”.

But it omits the really key bit – that the programme has never been evaluated. In other words, we do not know if it works.

The same is true of the Healthy Identity Interventions course. Although the Ministry of Justice conducted a “process evaluation”, to check the pilot version was being run properly, we will not know for another two years if it is achieving results.

So, these schemes, like many other offender behaviour projects, are, in essence, experimental.

Some say the only way of knowing if they are any good is to try them out. Others argue the risks of doing that are too high, pointing to the once-flagship Sex Offender Treatment Programme, which was used for 25 years until research showed that it increased the likelihood of reoffending.

Rehabilitating convicted terrorists is as complex and challenging as it gets – but a little more openness and honesty is required about the methods that are being used.

A man who recently went through the same Desistence and Disengagement programme as Khan says the London Bridge attacker “shouldn’t have been let out of prison”.

The man – who asked to remain anonymous – was acquitted of terror charges but was required to wear an electronic tag.

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Media captionLegal correspondent Clive Coleman looks at why Usman Khan was freed from prison

Speaking to Sima Kotecha on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, he said: “I had a mentor who came to see me at least twice a week.

“As time went on the authorities saw a change within myself.”

Asked why such mentoring worked for him but not for Khan, the man said: “I wanted to make a change.

“Other people may think that [terror] is the only route because they’ve been radicalised and that’s all they know.”

He added that “anybody can manipulate” when asked whether people could convince their mentors that they have moved away from extremism.

He said: “I don’t know his character, but anybody can manipulate.”

Khan, 28, was arrested in December 2010 and sentenced in 2012 to indeterminate detention for public protection with a minimum jail term of eight years, having pleaded guilty to preparing terrorist acts.

He had been part of an al-Qaeda inspired group that considered attacks in the UK, including at the London Stock Exchange.

In 2013 the Court of Appeal quashed the sentence, replacing it with a 16-year fixed term, and ordered Khan to serve at least half this – eight years – behind bars.

Since his release from prison in December 2018, Khan had been living in Stafford and was required to wear a GPS tag.

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Khan was armed with two knives and was wearing a fake suicide vest during the attack at Fishmongers’ Hall in the City of London on Friday.

He was tackled by members of the public, including ex-offenders from the conference, before he was shot dead by police.

Porter ‘acted instinctively’

Among those praised for their bravery during the attack was a porter – known as Lukasz – who tried to fight Khan at Fishmongers’ Hall.

He issued a statement through Scotland Yard on Tuesday, saying that contrary to some reports, he had used a pole to tackle Khan while someone else used a narwhal tusk.

“The man attacked me, after which he left the building,” he said. “A number of us followed him out but I stopped at the bollards of the bridge. I had been stabbed and was later taken to hospital to be treated.”

He said he was “thankful” that he had now returned home.

“When the attack happened, I acted instinctively,” he said. “I am now coming to terms with the whole traumatic incident and would like the space to do this in privacy, with the support of my family.”

He wanted to express his condolences to the families who had “lost precious loved ones”, he added, as well as sending his best wishes to “everyone affected by this sad and pointless attack”.

Two women were also injured in the attack. They remain in a stable condition in hospital.

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Mujeeb Ur Rahman: Middlesex re-sign Afghanistan spinner for T20 Blast

Mujeeb Ur Rahman has taken 20 wickets in 16 T20 games for Afghanistan

Middlesex have re-signed Afghanistan spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman for next season’s Twenty20 Blast campaign.

The 18-year-old took seven wickets in 10 games last season and will be available for all 14 of their group stage matches in 2020.

Mujeeb made his debut for his country at the age of 16 and featured in this year’s World Cup.

“I enjoyed my time at Middlesex so much, so I am very pleased to be coming back,” he said.

Meanwhile, the club have awarded England’s World Cup-winning captain Eoin Morgan a testimonial year in 2020.

The 33-year-old made his debut for the county’s first XI in 2005.

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Tottenham: Jose Mourinho appointed after Mauricio Pochettino sacked

Jose Mourinho: Watch the new Tottenham head coach’s classic moments

Jose Mourinho has been appointed Tottenham manager after the sacking of Mauricio Pochettino on Tuesday.

Former Chelsea and Manchester United boss Mourinho has signed a contract until the end of the 2022-23 season.

“The quality in both the squad and the academy excites me,” said the 56-year-old Portuguese. “Working with these players is what has attracted me.”

Spurs chairman Daniel Levy said: “In Jose we have one of the most successful managers in football.”

Tottenham will be the third Premier League club managed by Jose Mourinho

Tottenham reached the Champions League final last season under Pochettino, but lost 2-0 to Liverpool in Madrid.

The Argentine, who was appointed in May 2014, did not win a trophy in his time in charge of the north London club, with Spurs’ last silverware being the League Cup in 2008.

Levy said Mourinho has “a wealth of experience, can inspire teams and is a great tactician”.

“He has won honours at every club he has coached,” he added. “We believe he will bring energy and belief to the dressing room.”

Mourinho still has a home in London and won three Premier League titles – in 2005, 2006 and 2015 – as well as one FA Cup in two spells at Chelsea.

Having taken over at Manchester United in May 2016, he won the Europa League and Carabao Cup with them in 2017.

Mourinho was sacked by the Old Trafford club in December 2018, with the club 19 points behind league leaders Liverpool, and had not managed another side before joining Spurs.

He has also previously managed Portuguese side Porto, where he won the Champions League in 2004.

At Italian club Inter Milan, Mourinho won a league, cup and Champions League treble in 2010 and was named Fifa’s world coach of the year, while he led Spanish team Real Madrid to the La Liga title in 2012.

He takes over a Spurs side that are without a win in their past five games and have slipped to 14th in the Premier League, 20 points behind leaders Liverpool after just 12 matches.

Tottenham Hotspur Supporters’ Trust had said “many fans thought Poch had earned the right” to try to turn around the side’s form and that “there are questions that must be asked of the board”.

Following Mourinho’s appointment, it said it had “concerns about how Jose and our club’s executive board will work together”.

It added: “The club must ensure it does not find itself in the same position in two or three years’ time, and we need to hear from the executive board what the long-term thinking behind this appointment is.”

Mourinho’s first match in charge is a trip to West Ham United on Saturday (12:30 GMT kick-off).

Spurs go to Manchester United on 4 December, and host another of Mourinho’s former teams – Chelsea – on 22 December.

Mourinho has turned down a number of managerial opportunities, including in China, Spain and Portugal, since leaving Old Trafford.

Mourinho’s Man Utd ups and downs

Analysis

BBC sports editor Dan Roan

Spurs have never hired a manager as expensive or demanding as Mourinho, nor spent the kind of money on players that he became accustomed to at clubs such as Real Madrid and Manchester United.

But Spurs have come a long way in recent years under Pochettino. They have a new £1bn stadium and training ground, and spent four successive seasons in the Champions League.

They now have a European pedigree, and a hugely talented squad.

Mourinho has been out of the game for almost a year but retained a home in London.

His tribulations at Manchester United saw him lose his ‘Special One’ status, but his many achievements in the game still command widespread respect.



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‘Angry pig’ hinders water pipe repairs and causes train disruption

Broken water main

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Network Rail

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The water main burst beside the railway track in Surbiton, south-west London

An “angry pig” confronted engineers in a London street, delaying their repair of a burst water main before it was led away with a bag of crisps.

The pipe burst on Lamberts Road, Surbiton, damaging nearby railway equipment, which caused train delays.

Thames Water said their efforts to reach a valve to cut the water were initially hindered by “a large pig” which was “acting aggressively”.

It is not known what flavour crisps were used to lead it away.

Damage caused by the flooding of tracks and signalling equipment meant limited trains have been able to run along the line.

Disruption is currently expected to last until 16:00 GMT although Network Rail said engineers were carrying out inspections.

Thames Water said engineers “were quickly on site” to deal with the burst 120cm (48 in) pipe, but they had been unable to initially carry out the work because of the pig, which is thought to be someone’s pet.

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Extinction Rebellion: High Court rules London protest ban unlawful

Extinction Rebellion protest in Oxford Circus

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Nathan Williams/ BBC News

A police ban on Extinction Rebellion protests in London last month was unlawful, High Court judges have ruled.

The Metropolitan Police imposed the ban, which prevented two or more people from the group taking part in protests, under the Public Order Act.

But judges have ruled that police had no power to do this because the law did not cover “separate assemblies”.

Activists say the police could now face claims for false imprisonment from “potentially hundreds” of protesters.

The Met said it would “carefully consider” the ruling.

The protests cost £24m to police and led to 1,828 arrests, with 165 people charged with offences, the Met says.

During the court hearing, the force had argued that the ban was the only way to tackle widespread disruption.

Announcing their judgement, however, Lord Justice Dingemans and Mr Justice Chamberlain ruled in favour of Extinction Rebellion.

Lord Justice Dingemans said: “Separate gatherings, separated both in time and by many miles, even if co-ordinated under the umbrella of one body, are not a public assembly within the meaning of… the Act.

“The XR [Extinction Rebellion] autumn uprising intended to be held from October 14 to 19 was not therefore a public assembly… therefore the decision to impose the condition was unlawful because there was no power to impose it under… the Act.”

The judges noted that there are powers within that act which may be used lawfully to “control future protests which are deliberately designed to ‘take police resources to breaking point”‘.

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Getty Images

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Green Party peer Jenny Jones (centre) was among those to bring the successful legal challenge to court

During 10 days of climate change protests last month, activists shut down areas around Parliament and the Bank of England, and targeted London City Airport.

Police had previously warned protesters to keep demonstrations in Trafalgar Square, or risk arrest – before issuing a city-wide ban on 14 October, under Section 14 of the Public Order Act.

The court was told that the ban was issued on the same day as a message posted online by London activists.

It told protesters to adopt the “be water” tactics used by demonstrators in Hong Kong.

“Be water, crowds split up into fast moving groups and pairs, that network via phones,” it said.

“You gather at particular spots in large numbers, until the police response building then you move to a new disruptive site.”

The ban was lifted four days later, with officers saying that it was no longer necessary because demonstrations had ended.

Analysis

BBC home affairs correspondent Daniel Sandford

This was a radical tactic adopted by the Metropolitan Police on 14 October – banning all future Extinction Rebellion protests across London for several days.

But it has backfired. No police force likes to have their actions described as “unlawful”.

Today’s High Court ruling takes away from officers the ability to impose a city-wide ban of future protests, which means demonstrators wanting to be “like water” – where they split into fast-moving groups – will be difficult to control if they are trying to disrupt a whole city.

So police will have to deal with what is in front of them.

If a specific protest in a specific place gets out of hand they will be able to close it down, but it will have to be a decision made by an officer on the spot, and not by someone sitting in a police station worrying about what protests may happen the next day.

Responding to Wednesday’s ruling, Extinction Rebellion UK tweeted “we won’t be silenced”.

Green Party peer Jenny Jones – who was among those to bring the legal challenge – described the ruling as “historic” and criticised ministers for speaking out in favour of the ban.

Met Assistant Commissioner Nick Ephgrave said the decision to impose the ban had been “reasonable and proportionate” and “was not taken lightly”.

He added that the police “would not and cannot ban protest” and that the ruling was made specifically on whether officers could arrest demonstrators for assembling in central London.

“There is no criticism from me of the decision to impose the condition, which was made with good intent and based upon the circumstances confronting the command team at the time,” he said.

“It did in fact result in the reduction of the disruption. Nevertheless, this case highlights that policing demonstrations like these, within the existing legal framework, can be challenging.”

What does Extinction Rebellion want?

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Extinction Rebellion’s legal victory follows two weeks of protests in the UK last month.

The group (XR for short) wants governments to declare a “climate and ecological emergency” and take immediate action to address climate change.

It describes itself as an international “non-violent civil disobedience activist movement”.

Launched in 2018, organisers say it has groups willing to take action in dozens of countries.

It uses an hourglass inside a circle as its logo, to represent time running out for many species.

Read the full article here.



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