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Downing Street has resisted calls for an inquiry into Chief Whip Andrew Mitchell, after the Cabinet minister apologised publicly to police officers for subjecting them to a tirade of verbal abuse in Downing Street.

David Cameron's official spokesman said the Prime Minister believes that Mr Mitchell had done the right thing in apologising, and thinks a line should now be drawn under the affair.

But a senior Police Federation representative said Mr Mitchell was effectively accusing the officers involved of lying and called on Mr Cameron to hold an investigation.

Labour too called for an inquiry, while Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said it was right that Mr Mitchell should explain "fully and in detail" what happened during the altercation after officers refused to allow him to cycle through the main gates of Downing Street.

The Sun, which broke the original story, reported that it had now seen a police report of the incident, prepared for senior officers, which indicated that Mr Mitchell called the officers "plebs" as well as swearing repeatedly at them.

The report was said to be backed up by at least two officers making the same verbatim note of the exchange in their pocket books but in his first appearance before the cameras since news of his outburst broke last week, Mr Mitchell insisted that reports of his comments were inaccurate.

Asked whether he had used the politically explosive word "plebs", he said: "I want to make it absolutely clear that I did not use the words that have been attributed to me."

 

Britain and Canada will establish joint diplomatic missions and share embassy offices abroad, Foreign Secretary William Hague is set to announce.

Mr Hague will reveal more details of the plans when he meets his Canadian counterpart, John Baird, in Ottawa later, a Foreign Office spokesman said.

The proposals involve "co-locating" embassies and sharing consular services in countries where one of the nations does not have an embassy, the spokesman said.

Mr Hague and Mr Baird will sign an agreement and hold a press conference later on Monday to explain more about the plans.

Ahead of the meeting, Mr Hague said: "As the Prime Minister said when addressing the Canadian parliament last year: 'We are two nations, but under one Queen and united by one set of values'.

Nick Clegg's latest bid to draw a line under the damaging tuition fee row has been thrown into doubt after a video lampooning his apology swept the internet.

One of the Liberal Democrat leader's most senior colleagues, Vince Cable, also risked undermining him by claiming to have been "sceptical" about the manifesto pledge to oppose fee hikes.

Mr Clegg expressed regret over the promise for the first time as the party braced for a potentially difficult conference in Brighton.

In a two-and-a-half minute film he admitted that many voters were "angry and disappointed" at the coalition's subsequent move to treble the maximum annual fee to £9,000.

He said it was a mistake, adding: "It was a pledge made with the best of intentions - but we shouldn't have made a promise we weren't absolutely sure we could deliver."

Business Secretary Mr Cable endorsed the apology and insisted he also took responsibility for the "collective" decision, but told the BBC's Newsnight programme: "I was sceptical about the pledge but we agreed collectively to do it and I take my share of the responsibility."

Mr Cable said Danny Alexander, now Chief Secretary to the Treasury, was also among those who privately warned the policy was unaffordable.

In a bizarre turn of events, Mr Clegg has also given permission for a video making fun of his apology to be released as a single on iTunes.

 

Masked raiders have made off with a £500,000 haul of luxury watches in a "brazen robbery" in front of stunned city centre shoppers.

The robbers struck at Selfridges in Manchester while the store was open and busy.

They walked into the premises in Exchange Square wearing high visibility jackets and trousers shortly after 7.20pm on Wednesday.

Police said the trio then smashed display cabinets with an axe and crowbars and stole 100 watches.

They escaped in a black Mercedes Benz driven by a fourth offender. The car was found abandoned in Robert Street, Strangeways, a short time later.

Watches including Audemars Piguet, Jaeger Lecoultre, Hublot and Cartier were stolen.

Detective Constable Adam Cronshaw said: "This was a brazen robbery while the store was open and busy with members of the public. It was clearly well planned and executed. These men were in and out in less than 80 seconds and were very particular about the watches they selected.

 

The Government is reportedly considering linking hikes in benefit payments to average pay rather than inflation.

The automatic uprating could be axed and welfare payments frozen for two years, with any increases then linked to average pay, according to BBC Newsnight.

A Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) spokeswoman said any changes to how benefits hikes are calculated will be looked at by the Government later this year.

The claims come as Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith insisted shifting to monthly benefit payments would help the poorest as he dismissed claims the move will push low-income families into debt.

He told MPs the new Universal Credit had been designed for the majority but would also help longer-term claimants by weaning them off fortnightly payments before they return to work.

The Tory minister also defended moves to encourage claimants who have limited internet skills to apply online, arguing it would be a "very good opportunity to get these people back into the 21st century".

MPs on the Work and Pensions committee were also told that waiters, hairdressers and any other worker that receives tips will have to declare them if they claim the new benefit. "Tips are counted as income," welfare reform minister Lord Freud said.

Under the Universal Credit there will be one single monthly benefit payment - rather than weekly or fortnightly as at present - and social tenants will have to pay landlords themselves.

 

Vince Cable has dismissed criticism over text messages he exchanged with opposition leader Ed Miliband.

Former Liberal Democrat leader Sir Menzies Campbell warned the Business Secretary that such communication could undermine the coalition by aggravating already disgruntled Tory backbenchers.

But Mr Cable told ITV1's Daybreak: "In politics you have to have a reasonably adult way of dealing with people. I very, very occasionally talk to Ed Miliband and sometimes his people, and indeed people across the spectrum."

When asked if he was annoyed that the Labour leader had made their communication public, he replied: "It doesn't matter. There's nothing to be embarrassed about for him or for me. I talk to people across the political spectrum.

"I think that is what politics involves, being grown up, not being tribal. I don't feel remotely embarrassed about it."

In an interview with The House magazine, Sir Menzies said: "The success of this coalition depends upon everyone who participates in it being a full subscriber, and I don't think, we were using the expression pick and mix a little while ago, I don't think it helps a partnership to suggest that you may already be looking for another partner.

"If you were a Tory backbencher hearing of these things, especially one who's disaffected, who wishes there was an unrestricted Tory government, what would you make of it? Would you be encouraged to be yet more loyal to the front bench or would you say well, that's a kind of, maybe, not a green light but an amber light. Proceed with caution. An amber light to people like myself to say well, if so and so looks as if he's talking to the other lot why are we are bothering with this lot?"

Mr Cable's aides dismissed the criticism of the text exchanges between the Business Secretary and the Labour leader.

Former deputy prime minister Lord Prescott is hitting the road to launch his bid to become the country's highest profile police and crime commissioner.

He will unveil his election minibus which he will use to tour Humberside ahead of the November elections.

It has been designed as a "mobile consultation surgery" where people can speak to the Labour candidate about policing and crime issues.

He wants to focus on police cuts and is pledging to protect frontline posts.

He said he wanted a "Plan B" as an alternative to losing police officer numbers in Humberside and asked the public's help in drafting his manifesto.

"If elected, I'll make sure the public are heard and protected from these frontline cuts," he said.

Prime Minister David Cameron apologised Wednesday to the families of the 96 victims of the 1989 Hillsborough football stadium disaster for the "double injustice" they suffered.

Speaking after the release of thousands of documents, he told parliament the Liverpool supporters had suffered first from official failings that led to the deaths and then from police attempts to blame the victims of the crush.

"On behalf of the government -- and indeed our country -- I am profoundly sorry for this double injustice that has been left uncorrected for so long," a sombre Cameron said in a statement to lawmakers.

He was speaking after the Hillsborough Independent Panel, a seven-member body led by the Bishop of Liverpool, published a report into Britain's worst sporting disaster following a review of previously unseen files.

The disaster was caused by massive overcrowding in the Leppings Lane End of Sheffield's Hillsborough stadium at the 1989 FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest.

To ease overcrowding outside the Leppings Lane End, police opened an exit gate, allowing supporters to flood into the central pens. Fenced in, fans were crushed to death.

Lawmakers gasped as Cameron said the panel found that police repeatedly tried to cover-up evidence of their own failings following the disaster in a bid to make it look as if fans were at fault, Cameron said.

Police "significantly amended" 164 statements, including the removal of 116 negative comments about the leadership of the police, he said.

He said there were also failings by the ambulance service, including that it may have been possible to revive some of the victims had they received treatment earlier.

"With the weight of the new evidence in this report, it is right for me today as prime minister to make a proper apology to the families of the 96 for all they have suffered over the past 23 years," Cameron said.

"Indeed, the new evidence that we are presented with today makes clear that these families have suffered a double injustice.

"The injustice of the appalling events -- the failure of the state to protect their loved ones and the indefensible wait to get to the truth.

"And the injustice of the denigration of the deceased -- that they were somehow at fault for their own deaths."

Cameron said the attorney general would now review the "deeply distressing" report to decide whether to apply to the high court to quash an original, flawed inquest into the tragedy.

The city of Liverpool will hold a two-minute silence from 3:06 pm (1406 GMT) -- the time the match was called off -- as a mark of respect to the victims, ahead of a candle-lit vigil.

Cameron said the victims' families had long believed that some of the authorities attempted to create a "completely unjust account of events that sought to blame the fans for what happened.

"The families were right."

A new era for mobile phone use has begun as the UK's largest network operator unveiled plans to launch the country's first superfast 4G products and services in time for Christmas.

Orange and T-Mobile owner Everything Everywhere, which has been renamed as EE, will make the state-of-the-art technology available to some 20 million people in 16 cities across the UK.

Unveiled at the Science Museum in London, the 4G network, which offers speeds up to five times faster than 3G, will be available on HTC, Samsung, Nokia and Huawei devices, as well as "one more to come", which is widely expected to be Apple's iPhone 5.

The announcement is likely to enrage EE's competitors, including Vodafone, 3 and O2, who have threatened legal action over telecoms regulator Ofcom's decision last month to allow EE to launch 4G on its existing network.

The 4G services will allow uninterrupted access to the web on the go, high definition movies to be downloaded in minutes and TV to be streamed without buffering.

Four cities - London, Bristol, Cardiff and Birmingham - are being switched on initially for the company's engineers to begin live testing and systems integration in readiness for the customer launch.

EE gave no specific date but said 4G will be available to its customers by Christmas in London, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Derby, Glasgow, Hull, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham, Sheffield and Southampton.

The group plans to roll out the service to further towns, cities and rural areas next year, with population coverage of 70% and rising to 98% in 2014.

The rampant growth at Burberry showed signs of wavering as the luxury fashion house warned its profits would be at the bottom end of expectations.

The group, which has 196 retail stores, 207 concessions, 48 outlet shops and 58 franchise stores worldwide, said like-for-like sales ground to a halt in the 10 weeks to September 8 and have started to fall over recent weeks. Total sales including new space were up 6%.

The luxury goods firm, famous for its red, black and camel check, warned adjusted pre-tax profits for the year to March 31 will be around the lower end of market expectations.

Burberry, which was founded in 1856, spent much of the year bucking the gloomy trend in the wider retail sector due to its exposure to robust emerging markets, especially China.

Burberry chief executive Angela Ahrendts warned the external environment was "becoming more challenging". She added: "Given this background, we are tightly managing discretionary costs and taking appropriate actions to protect short-term profitability."

The flat like-for-like sales in the second quarter so far are a sharp slowdown from the 6% hike reported for the first quarter to June 30.

Burberry reported a 24% surge in annual profits to £366 million in its last financial year, while total revenues were also up 24% to £1.9 billion as key Asian markets showed more strong growth and flagship stores in London and Paris performed well.

Burberry previously announced plans to add a further 12% to 14% of selling space in this financial year but did not give details of store openings in its update.