A man accused of strangling his ex-girlfriend and burying her in her garden has told a court they had split up over the death of their pet dog.
French film producer Laureline Garcia-Bertaux, 34, was discovered in a shallow grave at her home in Kew, south-west London, on 5 March.
Kirill Belorusov told the Old Bailey they separated a week after their Rottweiler was put down, and he had owed her nothing at the time.
The 32-year-old denies murder.
The court previously heard Mr Belorusov owed the victim thousands of pounds, and he had tricked his way into her home where he strangled her.
Giving evidence, he said he moved to London in 2009 and began dating Ms Garcia-Bertaux after meeting her at a gig.
“We spent the whole of the night walking and walking and walking, and in the morning I decided to get to her place and she invited me over. She said ‘yes’ and I never left,” he said.
Speaking about their relationship, Russian national Mr Belorusov said they argued “like any couple” over food and money “but everything was OK”.
He said they had separated in 2016 after “a slow build-up over years” and at the time their dog Jazz was “the only thing connecting us”.
The jury has heard Mr Belorusov avoided paying back money he owed to Ms Garcia-Bertaux by pretending to have cancer and there was no record of him receiving treatment at hospitals in London.
However, he insisted he had suffered from cancer with “pancreatic complications” and went on drug trials in Sussex, Kent and Ipswich, the court has heard.
The trial continues.
About 30 residents have been evacuated and part of a building has been destroyed following a suspected explosion.
London Fire Brigade said it was called to a fire after the suspected blast on High Street in Hampton Hill, south-west London, on Tuesday night.
On social media, one witness described hearing a “boom” before the blaze. No was injured.
Road closures remain in place at the scene, Richmond Council said.
A fourth teenager has been arrested on suspicion of the murder of a boy at a chicken shop in central London.
Josiph Beker, 17, was stabbed to death outside Edgware Road KFC, Westminster, at about 14:00 BST on 10 September.
A 16-year-old boy was arrested on Sunday in connection with the murder. He remains in custody.
Two 16-year-old boys were charged with murder on Saturday. An 18-year-old arrested over the murder has been bailed pending further inquiries.
Police have arrested 18 people believed to be involved in a climate change protest at Heathrow Airport.
Heathrow Pause activists threatened to fly drones in the exclusion zone, but no flight disruption has been reported.
The 18 arrested people have all been held on suspicion of conspiracy to commit a public nuisance.
Heathrow Pause said one of the arrested – Roger Hallam, an Extinction Rebellion co-founder – was still planning to fly a drone on Saturday.
The group said Mr Hallam was released from custody at about 22:00 BST on Friday and that he would be flying the drone at midday “near Heathrow” with the location “to be announced nearer the time”.
The Metropolitan Police said that, out of those arrested, five remained in custody on Friday night. The others have been bailed.
Police say those arrested range in age from 19 to 69.
Heathrow Pause had previously said it intended to fly drones within the 5km exclusion zone around the airport on Friday morning, but the group claimed the airport was using “signal jamming to frustrate” their efforts.
Both the airport and police refused to comment on “security matters”.
The Met Police said a dispersal order at the airport would be effective until early on Sunday morning.
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Laurence Taylor said: “We are really clear that [flying drones] is unlawful, it is a criminal offence, and anybody who turns up expecting to fly drones in that exclusion zone will be arrested.”
The force made seven pre-emptive arrests on Thursday, including that of Extinction Rebellion co-founder Roger Hallam.
Heathrow Airport said it was committed to addressing climate change, but this was best tackled through “constructive engagement and working together to address the issue”.
Arsenal striker Vivianne Miedema is the Netherlands’ all-time leading goalscorer, has won three league titles in two countries and holds the record for most Women’s Super League goals in a season. She is also just 23.
Fresh from playing in this summer’s World Cup final, Miedema sat down with BBC Sport to discuss her Dutch roots, football chats with Liverpool centre-back Virgil van Dijk and her childhood fascination with Robin van Persie.
Family, Feyenoord and Van Persie
Growing up in Hoogeveen, a town in the north-east of the Netherlands, Miedema would join her father and younger brother Lars in making the 120-mile trip to Rotterdam to watch Feyenoord play.
And when asked about the influence of her family on her playing career, Miedema jokes she “never really had a choice” but to pursue football as a profession.
“My dad used to play football, my granddad used to play football and my little brother is playing now too,” she tells BBC Sport, referring to Lars’ contract with FC Den Bosch, the club where Ruud van Nistelrooy began his career.
“We just loved it and there was nothing else for me. I am four years older than my brother but I used to play football with him and it’s made me a better player and I think him too.”
The Miedema family were all big Feyenoord fans and between 1996 and 2004 were able to watch as ex-Manchester United and Arsenal striker Van Persie developed on his way to becoming one of the best strikers in Europe.
Reflecting on that time, she says: “If you are a young girl now it might be a bit different because there are lots of female players to look up to but I used to be a fan of the Feyenoord players. I used to buy the little kits of Robin van Persie and watch every single game.
“They were the only games I was allowed to stay up late for during the week. We used to go to some of their games. Sometimes, as a birthday present, I would go to a fan day or an open training session.
“I met van Persie once – I can’t really remember it because I was so young. But [at Feyenoord] you got to meet some of the players and go on the pitch with them. It was amazing.”
Celebrating Dutch success with Virgil van Dijk
Like Van Persie, Miedema has become one of the most prolific strikers in the game.
She scored 22 goals and picked up 10 assists in 19 league appearances last season in helping Arsenal win their first WSL title in seven years, her performances leading to being named the PFA Player of the Year. Compatriot Van Dijk picked up the men’s prize.
“It was quite a big thing back home – two Dutch players winning it made it even bigger than it probably was for me and for him,” says Miedema.
“It was nice to get the awards after the year we both had but we are both quite down to earth and the day after the focus was on the football again.”
For Miedema, focussing on football meant the then-upcoming World Cup. Liverpool defender Van Dijk was supporting Miedema and her Dutch team-mates this summer, wishing them luck before their defeat in the final by champions the USA.
“I spoke with him [Van Dijk] at the PFA awards and he is a nice guy,” says Miedema. “Obviously we had some football chat – I went to the Liverpool v Barcelona Champions League semi-final as well.
“It was just nice. We see them [the men’s internationals] when we are away with the national team as well. We watch their games and they watch ours and he was watching the World Cup final. It’s nice to have that contact and respect each other.”
Breeding confidence at Arsenal
Dutch players have enjoyed success in the English game, with Ruud van Nistelrooy, Edwin van der Sar and Arjen Robben among players to have enhanced their reputations in the Premier League.
In 2018-19, there were four Dutch players in Arsenal Women’s title-winning squad and all four started the World Cup final. This summer, midfielder Jill Roord joined from Bayern Munich.
“The English league is one of the most attractive leagues to go to right now,” Miedema says.
“The step from Holland to England is small, it’s not like going to Spain where you don’t understand a word and it’s a different life. In England, it is quite similar to how we live and that makes it a lot easier.”
Miedema, who has scored 63 goals in 83 appearances for her country, adds that success on the international stage breeds confidence with team-mates back at Arsenal.
“Nobody expected us to win the Euros or do well at the World Cup but we did it, again,” she says. “I played my part in that and it was good to get back into it recently for the start of the Euro qualifiers.”
After becoming the first player to surpass 16 goals in a single WSL season in 2018-19, there are higher expectations of Miedema and her team-mates to defend their title.
“I am lucky because I have been in this situation when I was at Bayern Munich [winning back-to-back league titles in 2015 and 2016]. I have that experience,” she says.
“It is something that’s extra special because obviously every team comes for you and has nothing to lose. They want to get a point off you and work a bit harder against you than other teams.
“That’s just extra motivation to get better every single week and play better football than we did last year.”
Theresa May’s former closest advisers have been recognised in the ex-prime minister’s resignation honours list.
Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill are among 57 people on a list of mostly political figures, though Mrs May showed her love of cricket with knighthoods for Geoffrey Boycott and Andrew Strauss.
Labour said the honours rewarded “big Tory donors and No 10 cronies”.
Every departing prime minister can draw up a resignation honours list, which the Cabinet Office has to approve.
Mrs May announced her resignation in June after failing to get support for the withdrawal agreement she had negotiated for the UK to leave the EU.
The 37 men and 20 women on the list include members of Mrs May’s Downing Street staff, political aides and lifelong supporters of the Conservative Party.
It includes recipients from all four nations of the UK as well as non-political figures and members of civic society.
Former aides honoured
The former prime minister’s chief EU negotiator Olly Robbins receives a knighthood.
The senior civil servant helped to create Mrs May’s Brexit deal before it was defeated in Parliament three times. It has been announced that Mr Robbins is to join investment bank Goldman Sachs.
Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill, Mrs May’s former chiefs of staff who left their jobs after the 2017 general election in which the Conservatives lost their majority in the Commons, become Commanders of the Order of the British Empire, or CBEs.
There is also a knighthood for her former director of communications, Robbie Gibb.
When her predecessor David Cameron awarded a knighthood to his own head of communications, Craig Oliver, Mrs May later joked that she “retched violently” at seeing his name on the list.
Gavin Barwell, the former Tory MP who Mrs May brought in to replace the pair, is one of eight new Conservative peers.
Sir Kim Darroch – who was forced to resign as ambassador to the US after comments he made about President Trump were leaked – has been made a crossbench peer.
Boris Johnson, who was then running in the Tory leadership contest prior to becoming prime minister, was criticised at the time for not showing enough support for Sir Kim.
Meanwhile, there is a damehood for Cressida Dick, whose police career started at the age of 23 after a brief spell working in a fish-and-chip shop. She is one of just a few non-political figures on Mrs May’s list.
Mrs May, who once compared her determination to delivering Brexit with the fighting spirit in Geoffrey Boycott’s batting marathons, has awarded the former Test opener with a knighthood.
Telling journalists he was one of her sporting heroes, she said in November 2018: “Geoffrey Boycott stuck to it and he got the runs in the end.”
But domestic abuse charities have criticised giving a knighthood to Boycott, who was convicted in France in 1998 of beating his then-girlfriend Margaret Moore in a French Riviera hotel.
The 78-year-old, who has always denied the assault, was fined £5,000 and given a three-month suspended sentence over the attack.
Mrs May, who introduced a landmark Domestic Abuse Bill to Parliament earlier this year, was accused of sending a “dangerous message” by the charity Women’s Aid.
Another former England cricket captain, Strauss, was also awarded with a knighthood.
The 42-year-old left his role as England’s director of cricket last year and has raised nearly £400,000 for the charity he set up in honour of his wife, Ruth, who died of cancer in 2018.
Sir Simon Woolley, the founder of operation Black Vote, and Ruth Hunt, the ex-chief executive of Stonewall, have been made crossbench life peers.
While British Empire Medals, or BEMs, have been awarded to Graham Howarth and Debra Wheatley – Mrs May’s head chef at Chequers and housekeeper at Downing Street respectively.
The list of peerages – which sees those appointed sit in the House of Lords – include several nominated by other parties to sit on their benches.
‘Policy of restraint’
Among them are former NUT general secretary Christine Blower, for Labour, and former Green Party leader Natalie Bennett, who will become the party’s second peer in the House of Lords.
The Lord Speaker, Lord Fowler, said Mrs May’s list was “substantially smaller” than those drawn up by predecessors, helping to reduce the size of the House of Lords.
Several MPs have received honours:
- Sir Patrick McLoughlin, Conservative MP for Derbyshire Dales (Companion of Honour)
- George Hollingbery, Conservative MP for Meon Valley (Knighthood)
- David Lidington, Conservative MP for Aylesbury (Knighthood)
- Charles Walker, Conservative MP for Broxbourne (Knighthood)
- Brandon Lewis, Conservative MP for Great Yarmouth (CBE)
- Julian Smith, Conservative MP for Skipton and Ripon (CBE)
- Seema Kennedy, Conservative MP for South Ribble (OBE)
John Mann, the Labour MP for Bassetlaw and an independent government adviser on anti-Semitism, received a non-affiliated peerage.
Mr Mann is standing down as MP, citing Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s handling of the party’s anti-Semitism crisis.
Margaret Ritchie, who was leader of the SDLP in Northern Ireland between 2010 and 2011, also received a non-affiliated peerage.
The former South Down MP made history in 2010 when she became the first leader of a nationalist party to wear a remembrance poppy.
A source close to Mrs May said the list “recognises the many different people who have made a significant contribution to public life” during her political career.
Criticising Mrs May’s choices, Labour Party chairman Ian Lavery said: “It comes as no surprise that big Tory donors and Number 10 cronies are being honoured yet again.
“The Tories only care about looking after their own and will only stand up for the wealthy few who fund them.”
The SNP’s Pete Wishart accused Mrs May of “handing out peerages like sweeties”, adding that it was the “worst kind of cronyism”.
He said: “It is a disgrace that the Tories are able to give away jobs for the boys, and make their cronies and donors legislators for life – with no democratic mandate or accountability to the people of Scotland and the UK.”
Frank Kelly has been a signal operator for more than five decades on the London Underground.
But the signal box he operates will soon be replaced as automation is introduced to signalling at the junction.
And after many years of dedicated service, Frank will be retiring with the signal box.
Alcohol sold in supermarkets should be taxed at a higher rate than drink sold in pubs, a think tank has suggested.
A “pub relief” would make drinking at home less affordable and support the pub sector, according to the Social Market Foundation (SMF).
The Institute of Alcohol Studies (IAS), which commissioned the research, said it would help to cut problem drinking.
Taxing cider and wine by the unit in England would also have public health benefits, the IAS said.
The idea would be to shift taxation towards high-strength drinks bought for consumption at home – and away from weaker products bought in pubs and bars, the SMF said.
That could mean that beer in pubs would become less expensive, depending on how the duties were structured.
Taxing cider and wine by the unit, as is already the case with beer and spirits, would also help cut down problem drinking, it added.
According to recent research, cheap supermarket alcohol was the “number one” concern for publicans, said IAS senior policy analyst Aveek Bhattacharya, followed by competition from big chains.
“Wetherspoon’s comes in, and that’s a killer,” he said, adding: “Business rates are a big pressure.”
The number of pubs in the UK has declined by nearly a quarter since 2008 as small pubs disappear and big chains consolidate their businesses, according to the latest official figures.
‘Tougher and tougher’
“I’ve been in the game 20 years, and it’s got tougher and tougher,” says “CJ” Lewis, the manager of the independent King and Queen pub in London’s Fitzrovia district.
“And to be honest, the supermarkets are a little bit to blame,” he says.
He says that alcohol available in supermarkets “is, in theory, too cheap”.
“The price of alcohol here [in the pub] compared with the price in a supermarket is a bit ridiculous.”
However, he adds: “I can’t complain, because I buy it myself.”
He says the idea of higher taxes for alcohol in supermarkets is “great” for the pub industry in theory, but he’s not sure how it would work out in practice.
Supermarkets may still find a way to cut prices, he says.
And any tax relief on beer sold in brewery-owned pubs might be clawed back from landlords by the breweries, he adds. The breweries could charge those landlords more for their beer, and it would stay the same price in the pub for customers, he says.
Mr Bhattacharya said alcohol in supermarkets is cheap for a number of reasons.
Alcohol duty has been cut in real terms every year since 2013, and beer duty in real terms is 18% lower than then.
One of the main reasons supermarket booze is cheaper than pubs is bargaining power, he says.
Supermarkets can squeeze brewers on price because they are such large customers, but when it comes to landlords negotiating with brewers, “the boot’s on the other foot”, he said.
Supermarkets can also use alcohol as a loss leader – that is, it’s sold at a loss to attract shoppers into stores, where they will buy more profitable items.
Duty of care
Katherine Severi, IAS chief executive, said: “Alcohol has become a lot more affordable, and cheaper too, by comparison with other goods… For too long, alcohol duty has been politicised.”
Landlords have a duty of care to people in their pubs, she said, adding that a change in the tax regime would “reduce societal harms”.
Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA), which represents brewers, said: “The focus should be on reducing the overall beer duty rate, which is one of the highest in the EU and places an enormous burden on pubs.
“It is also important that the report recognises that the excise duty regime should encourage the consumption of lower-strength products.”
A Treasury statement said: “We are committed to supporting our pub industry and responsible drinkers, while tackling the sources of harmful drinking.
“That’s why we’ve consistently cut or frozen alcohol duties, saving drinkers £5.2bn, and introduced a new higher rate of tax for harmful high-strength ciders.”
Passengers are facing travel disruption after an entire London Underground line was suspended due to a signal systems failure at the main control centre.
One commuter tweeted that he “hated the Northern Line”, which was suspended just before 06:00 BST.
More than 800,000 people use the Tube line, which connects transport hubs Waterloo, Kings Cross and Euston, every day.
Transport for London said it was “working hard to restore the service”.
Tube tickets are being accepted on Southeastern and Thameslink trains, as well as on trams and buses.
Both the Bakerloo line and Metropolitan line also have minor delays as a result of the signals failure.
The delays come as schools open for the new term this week and commuters on social media complained of having to queue to access stations.
Brian Woodhead, London Underground’s director of customer service, said: “I am extremely sorry for the disruption suffered by customers on the Northern line today following a signalling system failure at our control centre.
“Our engineers are working hard to fix the problem and restore a full service as quickly as possible.”
A woman had part of her top lip bitten off by an unknown man at Notting Hill Carnival who told her he was “the devil”, police said.
The woman, who does not want to be identified, was on Portobello Road near Golborne Road when he leant forward and bit her.
She has been left with life-changing injuries and will need “extensive surgery”, an officer added.
It happened at 18:00 BST on Sunday 25 August, the first day of carnival.
The suspect has been described as a black man with short black hair and of muscular build. He was wearing a black T-shirt.
Officers have appealed for anyone who may have witnessed what happened to come forward.
Det Ch Insp Hayoukane said: “This was a horrific incident on a woman who has suffered life-changing injuries, requiring extensive surgery.
“The man who did this is clearly a violent and dangerous individual and I am determined that we identify and apprehend him as soon as possible.”