January 2005 in Britain and Ireland


January 2005 in Britain and Ireland

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Events in Britain and Ireland

"This page deals with current events in Great Britain and Ireland, of interest to and/or involving the British or the Irish."

29 January 2005

*Chris Smith, the former British Culture Secretary, reveals that he has been HIV positive for 17 years. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/4219501.stm (BBC)]

28 January 2005

*Gordon Park is convicted of murdering his wife, Carol, in the "Lady in the Lake" case after a ten week long trial, and is sentenced to life imprisonment with a recommendation that he serve 15 years. Park, now 61, was convicted of bludgeoning his wife to death with an ice axe in July 1976 and dumped her body in Coniston Water where it was discovered by divers in 1997. Park was arrested in 1997 but the trial collapsed for lack of evidence. He was rearrested in 2004 following new forensic and geological evidence -- some of the rocks used to weigh down the body were of a rare type, found on Park's property. The conviction was something of a surprise as much of the evidence against Park was circumstantial. Park maintains his innocence, and is supported by his family and friends. Park is appealing against his conviction. See the freegordon website for full details including transcripts from the trial in 2004/5. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/cumbria/4211495.stm (BBC)]

26 January 2005

*British Home Secretary Charles Clarke announces that he will be seeking new powers to combat terrorism. These will include powers to impose house arrest on terrorism suspects regardless of nationality, replacing a policy of jailing foreigners without trial that had been thrown out by judges. [http://www.reuters.co.uk/newsArticle.jhtml?type=topNews&storyID=661482 (Reuters)]
*Four Britons returned to the UK after being detained at Guantanamo Bay for up to three years are released without charge. [http://news.scotsman.com/latest.cfm?id=4052213 (The Scotsman)]

24 January 2005

*Former Irish Minister for Justice Ray Burke is jailed for six months for tax-related offences under the Finance Act, 1983. [http://www.rte.ie/news/2005/0124/burker.html (RTÉ)]
*Hoaxer Christopher Pierson, who sent emails to relatives of people missing in the Indian Ocean tsunami from an AOL account purporting to be from the Foreign Office and claiming to confirm that the relatives were dead, is jailed for six months. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/lincolnshire/4201775.stm (BBC)]

23 January 2005

*Bez is voted winner of Celebrity Big Brother. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/tv_and_radio/4199773.stm (BBC)]

22 January 2005

*61,000 people attend the concert in aid of tsunami victims at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, which raises over £1.25 million. Artists performing in the largest concert in Britain since Live Aid include Charlotte Church, Craig David, Goldie Lookin' Chain, Aled Jones, Badly Drawn Boy, Manic Street Preachers, Lulu and Eric Clapton. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/4195985.stm (BBC)]

21 January 2005

*Irish Minister for Transport Martin Cullen officially opens the nine kilometre long Carrickmacross bypass on the N2 Dublin-Derry route. [http://212.2.162.45/news/story.asp?j=107768060&p=yx776864x&n=107768669 (Ireland Online)]

20 January 2005

*The Republic of Ireland, one of the last countries to use non-metric speed limits, officially changes all road signage and regulations to use kilometres per hour (km/h). Speed limits in Northern Ireland remain in miles per hour (mph). [http://www.rte.ie/news/2005/0120/metric.html (RTÉ)] [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/northern_ireland/4180479.stm (BBC)]
*Carolyn Leckie, a member of the Scottish Parliament, is jailed for seven days for non-payment of a fine arising from a protest at Faslane nuclear base. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/4191815.stm (BBC)]

18 January 2005

*Gibraltar: Commodore Allan Adair RN has been appointed new Commander of British Forces following the shock death of his predecessor David White in circumstances that are still under investigation. It is suggested that White committed suicide in his pool after being requested to return to the UK to answer child pornography allegations. [http://www.chronicle.gi/ (Gibraltar Chronicle)]

17 January 2005

*Cricket: England (411 for 8 dec & 332 for 9 dec) beat South Africa (419 & 247) to win the fourth Test match of their five-match series by 77 runs, with approximately 9 overs remaining. It is the first time in 49 years that England have won at the Wanderers Ground, Johannesburg. Matthew Hoggard's 12 for 205 wins him the man of the match award, and improves his World Ranking to 10. England now lead the series 2-1. [http://uk.cricinfo.com/db/ARCHIVE/2004-05/ENG_IN_RSA/SCORECARDS/frames/ENG_RSA_T4_13-17JAN2005.html (Cricinfo)]
* Police have charged a 42-year-old man with the rape and murder of pregnant 14-year-old Amy Williams, who was found strangled in a churchyard in Telford on 27 December 2004. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/shropshire/4182211.stm (BBC)]

15 January 2005

* Conservative Member of Parliament Robert Jackson, MP for Wantage, Oxfordshire, defects to the Labour Party telling the Sunday Telegraph that Tony Blair rather than Michael Howard would be the best prime minister for the country. Jackson was Minister for Higher Education between 1987 and 1990 in the administration of Margaret Thatcher. The Conservatives attempt to discount the defection by saying that Jackson had already announced that he would not seek re-election at the next General Election. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/4178309.stm (BBC)] .

14 January 2005

* Carlisle United football club are looking for the owner(s) of two goldfish found on their pitch following this week's flooding in the town when hundreds of houses were inundated. The one found in a goalmouth has been named "Billy the Fish" after the goalkeeping character in the comic "Viz". [http://news.scotsman.com/latest.cfm?id=4001785 (The Scotsman)] .

13 January 2005

* The European Commission launches eight cases against the Republic of Ireland for breaches of European Union environmental laws. It has emerged that despite having less than 1% of the EU's population, the Republic has received 16% of all "first warnings" on environmental issues. [http://home.eircom.net/content/irelandcom/breaking/4843670?view=Eircomnet (Irish Times - eircom.net)]
* The number of bodies found after Tuesday night's tragedy in the Hebrides rises to 4. A family of two parents, two children, and a grandfather were travelling from South Uist to Benbecula in two vehicles when they were apparently washed off the causeway between the islands and drowned. [http://www.sky.com/skynews/article/0,,30000-13281051,00.html (Sky News)]
* Fury erupts in the UK over Prince Harry wearing a Nazi military uniform at a private "fancy dress" party. He later apologised for any offence caused. [http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/1105573215455_53/?hub=World (CTV Canada)]
* The Irish Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG) is to conduct an investigation into whether government deals with National Toll Roads (NTR) achieved "value for money". NTR recently increased the toll on Dublin's M50 West-Link toll bridge. [http://home.eircom.net/content/irelandcom/topstories/4840885?view=Eircomnet (Irish Times - eircom.net)]
* Sir Mark Thatcher is fined three million Rand (approximately £265,000), and receives a four-year suspended jail sentence after pleading guilty to supplying equipment to mercenaries for an attempted coup of Equatorial Guinea. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/4169557.stm]

12 January 2005

* Searchers looking for Robert Holohan, a missing Cork boy, have discovered a body about 10 miles from his home. The body is yet to be identified. [http://breakingnews.iol.ie/news/story.asp?j=150292520&p=y5xz93335&n=150293406 (Ireland On-Line)]
* Antony Pitts, a BBC Radio 3 producer has resigned in protest at the corporation's broadcast of Jerry Springer - The Opera. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/4167391.stm (BBC)]
* Two men are found dead after last night's storm near the causeway between the Scottish islands of Benbecula and South Uist. Concern is rising about three other members of the family who are missing. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/4166901.stm (BBC)] , [http://www.sky.com/skynews/article/0,,30000-13281051,00.html (Sky News)]
* Britain's tallest self-supporting sculpture, the "B of the Bang", is unveiled in Manchester by Linford Christie. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/manchester/4166517.stm (BBC)]
* The Irish environmental agency, An Taisce objects to the National Roads Authority's planned route for the M6 motorway from Galway, claiming it would be "particularly destructive" in passing by a historic battle site at Aughrim. [http://www.rte.ie/news/2005/0112/aughrim.html (RTÉ)]

11 January 2005

*Another fierce storm system strikes the northern British Isles:
**In Derry, the driver of an articulated lorry is killed when his vehicle is blown off the Foyle bridge. 3,000 customers across Northern Ireland have lost their electricity supply. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/4165489.stm (BBC)]
**Gusts of up to 100 mph (160 km/h) are predicted for Tuesday night in Northern Ireland, Western Scotland, and North-West England. By Tuesday afternoon there are 4 flood warnings and 40 flood watches in England and Wales, 12 flood warnings and 18 flood watches in Scotland. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/4164613.stm (BBC)]
**Train services between Llandudno Junction and Blaenau Ffestiniog are suspended until further notice because of flood damage -- the line had only recently reopened after expenditure of £3 million following flood damage last year. [http://www.arrivatrainswales.co.uk/en/news/news_releases2.php?categoryID=46&article=591&sub_subnavID=&subnavID=134 (Arriva Trains Wales)]

8 January 2005

*"Jerry Springer - The Opera" controversy:
** The BBC broadcasts "Jerry Springer - The Opera" despite receiving at least 45,000 complaints. BBC Director-General Mark Thompson states: "There is nothing in this which I believe to be blasphemous." [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/tv_and_radio/4154071.stm (BBC)]
** Senior BBC executives receive abusive phone calls after a web site reveals their private telephone numbers. The web site has now been shut down and police are investigating the calls. [http://www.reuters.com/newsArticle.jhtml?type=stageNews&storyID=7272395 (Reuters)]
*After a night of stormy weather, tens of thousands of homes across Ireland are left without power. A ferry has run aground on Scotland's coast, with passengers remaining on board rather than evacuating in stormy weather. Extensive flooding has occurred in Carlisle as well as other locations in Britain and many homes are without power. [http://www.rte.ie/news/2005/0108/weather.html (RTÉ)] [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/4156017.stm (BBC)]

7 January 2005

* The BBC receives over 30,000 complaints and its offices are picketed by religious groups protesting tomorrow night's planned transmission of "Jerry Springer - The Opera". Some claim the opera is blasphemous and obscene, containing 3,168 "F-words" and 297 "C-words". Others argue that this is a misleading total since it counts a swear word sung by multiple members of the cast in unison as multiple instances of that word. One group threatens to bring a private prosecution for blasphemy against the BBC if the transmission goes ahead, under laws last used in the 1970s. [http://www.mg.co.za/Content/l3.asp?cg=BreakingNews-Andinothernews&ao=177601 (Mail & Guardian, SA)]
* Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) Chief Constable Hugh Orde publicly accuses the Provisional IRA of what has now been assessed as a £26.5 million robbery of the Northern Bank in Belfast before Christmas. Northern Bank announces that it is to recall and reissue all its banknotes in different colours and designs in response to the robbery, making most of the money taken "waste paper". [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/4154657.stm (BBC)] [http://www.rte.ie/news/2005/0107/belfast.html (RTÉ)]
* Three ex-Aer Lingus managers have declared their ambition to set up a rival domestic, European and transatlantic low-cost airline. The trio recently quit the Irish state airline over the Irish Government's unclear privatisation plans, and inaction over the airline's future. [http://www.rte.ie/news/2005/0107/aerlingus.html (RTÉ)]
* Jack Straw now says that 49 Britons are confirmed dead in the Asian tsunami, and that the total number of British deaths may reach 440. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/4153741.stm (BBC)]

6 January 2005

*The British public have now donated over £100m to the Asian tsunami appeal, according to the Disasters Emergency Committee. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/4152933.stm (BBC)]
*Police charge three teenagers (aged 19, 17 and 16) from Peckham with the murder of Damilola Taylor in November 2000. They will appear in court tomorrow. The three were arrested yesterday after police used new DNA techniques to examine evidence obtained at the time of the murder. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/london/4153461.stm (BBC)]
*Gerry Kelly, the Sinn Féin justice spokesman, condemns the robbery of the Northern Bank on 21 December 2004 and states that he believes the IRA did not play a role in the robbery. [http://www.rte.ie/news/2005/0106/northpolitics.html (RTÉ)]
*A public awareness campaign is started by the Irish Government to inform motorists of the changeover to metric speed limits in two weeks' time. [http://www.rte.ie/news/2005/0106/metric.html (RTÉ)]
*Jon Smee becomes the youngest ever person convicted of drink driving in the United Kingdom, at 13 years old. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/manchester/4151687.stm (BBC)]
*South Africa (441 and 222-8 dec) beat England (163 and 304) by 196 runs in the third Test in Cape Town. This is England's first Test defeat since December 2003. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/cricket/4151307.stm (BBC)]

5 January 2005

* Work begins on upgrading the N7 Naas road in Dublin, Ireland. The project is part of a €1.1 billion plan that includes upgrading the M50 and associated interchanges. [http://home.eircom.net/content/irelandcom/topstories/4799124?view=Eircomnet (Irish Times - eircom.net)]
*Year-end figures released by the Irish Exchequer show a €33 million budget surplus, as opposed to the €2.8 billion shortfall forecast by the Irish Government at the beginning of the year. [http://home.eircom.net/content/irelandcom/topstories/4799104?view=Eircomnet (Irish Times - eircom.net)]
*Chief executives of the Republic of Ireland's semi-amalgamated health boards meet under the new "Health Service Executive". Health services will continue to be administered separately in the eleven regions for at least six months. [http://home.eircom.net/content/irelandcom/breaking/4792212?view=Eircomnet (Irish Times - eircom.net)]
* Asian tsunami:
** The Irish Government cabinet meets to discuss the aid situation. A Garda team is to be sent to the area. There have been calls for the government to increase their €10 million pledge to match rising public donations. [http://home.eircom.net/content/unison/national/4792508?view=Eircomnet (Irish Independent - eircom.net)]
** Casualties are still being determined even though ten days have passed since the disaster; reports include the parents of celebrity Charlie Dimmock [http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2005/01/05/ndimm05.xml&sSheet=/news/2005/01/05/ixnewstop.html] and government advisor Nim Hoy among the victims, [http://www.shropshirestar.com/news/publish/article_27808.shtml] with presenter David Dickinson narrowly avoiding death. [http://news.scotsman.com/latest.cfm?id=3966504]

4 January 2005

* Smoking has been banned in all Northern Ireland civil service offices. Public health lobbyists are calling for a complete workplace ban, similar to that in force across the border in the Republic. [http://www.rte.ie/news/2005/0104/smoking.html (RTÉ)]
* Asian tsunami:
**Irish Taoiseach Bertie Ahern met with Irish aid agencies to discuss how to allocate the government's €10 million aid pledge. Involvement of the Irish Army in aid efforts is also a matter of debate. [http://www.rte.ie/news/2005/0104/quake3.html (RTÉ)]

3 January 2005

* Asian tsunami:
** Foreign Secretary Jack Straw says that the British death toll is "highly likely" to reach 199. Forty Britons are confirmed dead; another 159 are missing and feared killed. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/4142945.stm (BBC)]
** Christopher Pierson pleads guilty to sending hoax emails to relatives of those missing, claiming that they are confirmed dead. He is remanded in custody until January 24. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/lincolnshire/4142463.stm (BBC)]

2 January 2005

* A hoaxer has emailed friends and relatives of those missing in the Asian tsunami to say that they are confirmed dead. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/4140375.stm (BBC)] .
* Operation Garron, the British military aid effort for victims of the Indian Ocean earthquake is launched. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/4142237.stm (BBC)]
* Rail fare increases take effect from today. Average fares have increased by about 4%, advance fares between 2% and 7.2%. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/4140631.stm (BBC)]
* Police investigating the murder of Amy Williams have been given more time to question the man arrested yesterday. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/4140677.stm (BBC)]

1 January 2005

* UK charities have now collected over £60m for the victims of the Asian tsunami. Thirty-five Britons are now confirmed to be amongst those who died, although authorities have said that the total death toll may never be known. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/4139735.stm (BBC)]
* New Year's celebrations all over the UK fall silent for two minutes as a mark of respect for those who died in the tsunami. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/4136705.stm (BBC)]
* Papers released under the Thirty Year Rule show that the Labour government of 1974 was against the introduction of identity cards. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/4139049.stm (BBC)]
* The Freedom of Information Act and the Environmental Information Regulations come into force. They radically alter the balance of presumption over access to government information.
* A man has been arrested in connection with the murder of pregnant teenager Amy Williams in Telford. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/shropshire/4137045.stm (BBC)]
* New Chip and PIN legislation comes into effect today. It makes retailers liable for fraudulent transactions if they have failed to sign up to the scheme. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/4139211.stm (BBC)] Events in Britain and Ireland by month links


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