British Queen celebrates

UK news


The discovery of a charred body in a London garden reported to be that of a French au-pair has shocked a community of young people seeking adventure overseas who sometimes find themselves lost in a tough spot.

Authorities have yet to identify the victim, though media reports have said it was 21-year-old Sophie Lionnet, from Troyes in northeast France, who was working for French couple Sabrina Kouider, 34, and Oussem Medouni, 40, in Wimbledon, southwest London.

Both were remanded in custody after being charged with murder, and face a plea hearing on December 12.

The body was found last week when neighbours saw thick smoke emanating from the garden and alerted the police.

The gruesome nature of the death provoked a strong reaction from au pairs working in Britain, and among the French community at large.



Monarch Airlines ceased trading Monday, triggering a move by the British government to bring home 110,000 customers stranded abroad.

The British airline and its holidays business entered administration, with KPMG appointed to oversee the financial chaos. "We're sorry to announce that Monarch has suspended flights and holidays," Monarch said on Twitter.

The UK’s Civil Aviation Authority described the situation as “the biggest ever UK airline failure,” adding that “all future holidays and flights provided by these companies have been cancelled and are no longer operating”.


The cost of renovating the British parliament's clock tower, which houses Big Ben, has more than doubled to £61 million (69 million euros, $82 million), authorities said Friday.

Works on the Elizabeth Tower, one of the world's most famous landmarks, are "more complex" than previously thought, the House of Commons and House of Lords commissions announced.

The Big Ben bell, whose famous bongs have rung out across London since 1859, fell silent in August as scaffolding began going up the side of the 96-metre tower.

When it reaches the top, work will begin on the clock, the roof, the interiors and the brick and stonework.



Police stepped up their investigation Monday into the bombing of a packed London Underground train during rush hour after officers made a second arrest in their probe.

The bomb went off on Friday's morning in a crowded carriage and although the device is thought to have malfunctioned, it still wounded 30 people. Britain downgraded on Sunday the nation's terrorism threat from its highest level following the arrest.

It was the country's fifth terror attack in six months, a series that has claimed 35 lives.

Police said earlier Sunday that a 21-year-old man, who has not been identified, was detained late Saturday in Hounslow, on the western rim of the capital.

"The Joint Terrorist Analysis Centre, which reviews the threat level that the UK is under, have decided to lower that level from critical to severe," interior minister Amber Rudd said in a televised statement.



Five years on from the 2012 Olympics, the area of London where they were held has a new train station, a luxury shopping centre and vast green spaces.

A swathe of post-industrial land in Stratford, east London, was given a new life but for local residents, the reality is a lot less perfect.

Penny Bernstock, an expert in housing and regeneration at the University of East London, said there were now "two worlds that co-exist" -- the old, poor, Stratford and a new, wealthy one.

But Hugh Robertson, Britain's sports minister at the time of the Games, told AFP the legacy of 2012 is clear: "The area around Stratford has been completely transformed."

The aim for the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) going into the Games was to regenerate the area -- once deprived and blighted by high unemployment -- by ensuring the infrastructure would have a life after the Olympics.

According to the LLDC, it's job done after billions of pounds were poured into the area.

The 2012 organisers were determined they would leave none of the white elephants that have littered host cities of past Olympics.

The Olympic stadium has been leased to Premier League football club West Ham for the next 99 years -- and hosted the World Athletics Championships in August.

The futuristic Aquatics Centre designed by the late award-winning architect Zaha Hadid was scaled down after the Games and is now a popular facility for locals that can still host international events.

The Olympic Village, where athletes stayed during the competition, has been turned into thousands of flats.

"This is heaven! Look around you; look at this garden," Richard, a 29-year-old local resident, told AFP before making his way into the Olympic Park for his daily jog.

The LLDC plans for 10,000 new homes to be built in the area by 2030.

London seems to have avoided the fate endured by Athens -- where the Games are synonymous with financial ruin -- and Rio, where just over a year since the Olympics took place, the feelgood factor has vanished amid scandal and rotting venues.

In the Greek capital, little of the infrastructure has been reused, while in Rio, the Olympic Park is closed, the swimming pool has been drained and the Village, which was meant to be transformed into high-end housing, is still awaiting residents.

- 'Affordable for whom?' -

Many Stratford locals though feel they have not benefited from the huge sums spent on the Olympics.



Britons left stranded on Caribbean islands devastated by Hurricane Irma said Britain's response had been faulty, but Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson on Monday called the criticism "completely unjustified".

British billionaire Richard Branson meanwhile revealed the scale of the destruction by posting images on his blog of destroyed buildings on his private island in the British Virgin Islands.

Geoffrey Scott Baker, whose daughter Amy Brown is on the nearby Dutch-French Caribbean territory of St Martin, told BBC radio: "Nothing is happening."

"It seems that everybody can airlift their citizens out except for the UK who are doing absolutely nothing on the ground," Baker said after US citizens were evacuated from the island over the weekend.

Ian Smart told The Daily Telegraph that his son Jos with his girlfriend Julia Taylor were trapped on the same island, where "lawlessness is getting worse".



This is the shocking moment a woman was pushed in front of a bus after she collided with a jogger on a west London street.

Dramatic CCTV of the incident shows a man running along Putney Bridge before appearing to push the 33-year-old pedestrian into the road.

A bus heading straight towards the woman is forced to swerve into the adjacent lane, only narrowly avoiding hitting her.

The Metropolitan Police said the bus stopped and passengers tended to the woman – who received minor injuries – following the incident on Friday, May 5 at about 7.40am.

Officers said the jogger ran the other way across the bridge around 15 minutes later and the victim attempted to speak to him, but “he did not acknowledge her”.

Investigating officer Sergeant Mat Knowles said: “The victim was put in extreme danger when she was knocked into the road.


A 17-year-old girl who allegedly married an Islamic State group fighter via Skype appeared in a London court Wednesday (July 26) over plans to carry out a terror attack in Britain.

The teenager wed the jihadist over the messaging service in September 2016, the court heard.

She had already been arrested on a terrorism charge in August after authorities thwarted her plan to join the ISIS member in Syria, but was released on bail.

Between December and April, the duo allegedly conspired to carry out a terror attack in Britain and the girl planned to receive hand grenades and a firearm.


Most European equities sank Monday on poor data, airline sector turbulence and the strong euro, which neared a two-year peak against the dollar.

In afternoon trading London's FTSE 100 index was down 0.9 percent, with airline stocks facing headwinds after low-cost Irish carrier Ryanair posted soaring first-quarter profits but hinted at a price war in the sector.

Sentiment about eurozone stocks was hit as a survey showed that private sector business activity slowed in July for the second month running.

IHS Markit said its July Composite Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) came in at 55.8 points, the lowest reading in six months. A reading above 50 indicates economic expansion.

"The FTSE has suffered a rude awakening to the new week," said IG analyst Joshua Mahony.



US financial firms and no-frills airline easyJet have begun activating Brexit contingency plans and fears are growing that the trickle could turn into a flood as most major businesses in Britain are preparing similar arrangements.

Britain's easyJet, Europe's second biggest carrier by passenger numbers, set up a Vienna-based division on Thursday that will allow it to fly across the European Union regardless of the final outcome of talks on the UK exit from the bloc.

The announcement came after a source told AFP that New York investment bank Morgan Stanley had picked Frankfurt as its temporary hub in the EU and would be adding 200 jobs at its offices there.

US asset manager Northern Trust meanwhile has chosen Luxembourg for its base, and US bank giant Citigroup says it will move some operations from London to Frankfurt and expects "over time" to increase its presence in other EU cities.