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February 2 - 8 2011
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μComment PAGES 18-21
μObituaries PAGES 22-23
μExpat Life PAGES 30-32
Saving Nimrod Calls for a stay of execution intensify as first plane is scrapped
The true cost of PFI Andrew Gilligan investigates Labour’s Private Finance Initatives
Sculpture park Alastair Sooke reviews the Royal Academy’s eccentric new show
Davos developments Reports and comment from the 2011 World Economic Forum
17 14 20 43 47 49 5 20 25 30 36 47
Bonus Ball 31
Bonus Ball 15
There were three winners of Saturday’s £4.7m jackpot and one winner of Wednesday’s £2.9m prize
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On video ElBaradai returns to Cairo as violence escalates in Egypt’s cities telegraph.co.uk/egypt T
By Colin Freeman and Magdy Salmaan in Cairo EGYPT’S anti-government uprising showed signs of descending into lawlessness after thousands of prisoners were released on to the streets in a series of mass jailbreaks. Inmates escaped from at least four jails across the country, including suspected Islamic extremists and members of the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist opposition group.
As darkness fell on Sunday night, groups of club-wielding “citizens’ committees” manned checkpoints at road junctions across Cairo and other cities in an attempt to stop looters.
Egyptian police have been absent from the streets since last Friday – when they lost control of demonstrations seeking the end of President Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year rule – although they were reported to be returning. The army has been on the streets since then, but is largely restricted to static guard duty in tanks and armoured personnel carriers.
Many Egyptians claimed that the jailbreaks and looting were deliberately orchestrated by Mr Mubarak to convince them that an end to his rule would simply lead to chaos. “Egyptian state television has been showing the pictures of looting all day,” one man said. “This is designed to get protesters to leave the streets and go back to guard their homes.”
At the Abu Zaabal jail, locals claimed that thousands of prisoners had escaped after Bedouin tribesmen from Sinai – an area near the Israeli border notorious for smuggling and banditry – came to free jailed fellow clansmen last Saturday night.
One witness said: “At first they just fired randomly into the air, but then they started shooting at the prison guards, who fired back. Eventually the guards could not keep control and they left the jail. Thousands of people escaped.”
He said the escaped prisoners included members of the Muslim Brotherhood, a movement that contests elections in Egypt and aspires to be a power broker in any post-Mubarak government.
On Sunday, the area around the prison was still lawless, with groups of youths wandering around with clubs and gangs of looters stripping the jail of food supplies and furnishings.
As night fell, large groups of men and youths formed checkpoints all over Cairo, some also armed with knives and pistols. On the route back from Abu Zaabal into the city centre, The Telegraph encountered checkpoints
A man armed with a sword protects his property from gangs roaming the streets almost every 50 yards in some areas.
“We are protecting ourselves and the people,” said Mohamed Kamal, 21, wielding a large black baton. “Last night we arrested 12 criminals and handed them to the army, and today we caught another three. We support the demonstrations here but not any kind of destruction.”
Overall, though, The Telegraph saw little evidence that looting of private property had been particularly widespread.
Most Egyptians were at pains to dissociate the protests from any criminal acts. “Please tell the world that we are law-abiding people, not thugs or thieves,” said Ahmed Ghazi, 45, an engineer, outside a burnt-out police station.
By Martin Evans and David Millward HUNDREDS of British tourists were stranded in Cairo at the weekend after the city’s airport was engulfed by the crisis sweeping the country.
Desperate holidaymakers, heeding Foreign Office advice to leave Egypt, found flights grounded as staff abandoned their posts to join the national protests.
Passengers who risked venturing out of their hotels to travel to the airport found scenes of complete chaos with queues of several hours snaking around the terminal buildings. Unable to leave because of the night-time curfew, many were forced to bed down in the departure lounges.
Those stranded said the entire airport had run out of food and water, adding to the misery. Wendy Jonas said that her mother, Lesely Styan, 60, from Crawley, West Sussex, and four friends were among those stuck in Cairo. “They are in dire straits and we are just doing everything we can to get them home,” Mrs Jonas said. “She spent Saturday night sleeping under an escalator and they are just panicked and crying all the time.
“Mum told me the toilets are an absolute nightmare and the airport ran out of food on the land side. There has been violence outside and we are worried looters will make their way to the airport.”
Despite the deepening crisis, some airlines were accused of profiteering, as passengers saw the cost of flights back to Britain soar over the weekend.
One desperate traveller trying to book a one-way ticket back to Heathrow with British Airways reported
MUSEUM MUMMIES STOLEN AND FIGURINES SMASHED
LOOTERS have destroyed two mummies and smashed artefacts from the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, considered to be one of the most important cultural archives in the world.
Nine men broke into the museum on the edge of Tahrir Square — the epicentre of protests — searching for gold. They broke into 10 cases to take figurines. When they discovered that the figures did not contain gold, they dropped and broke them. They then seized parts of the 2,000year-old mummies and fled.
Dr Zahi Hawass, the director of the museum, said: “Demonstrators in collaboration with security forces stopped the thieves and returned the relics to the museum — but they were already damaged.”
Egyptologists described the smashing of the artefacts as devastating. “It is appalling,” said Robert Connolly, an anthropologist and Egyptologist from the University of Liverpool. “If Egyptians are looting their own heritage, then it is truly terrible.
“But I would not be at all surprised if this was the work of a gang who were being directed by a dealer, from the Middle East or elsewhere. These artefacts are immensely valuable and can be sold for huge amounts of money. They have ways of smuggling them out of the country.
“Dr Hawass has spent many years building up the collection and he will be absolutely devastated by this.”
The museum, which houses more than 120,000 treasures, was protected by tanks by Sunday.
Harriet Alexander being quoted £1,500. However, BA insisted the company had not changed its pricing policy and blamed third-party vendors for inflating costs.
“Tickets are selling at a normal price. We have made no changes to our fares policy,” a spokesman said. “We are trying to operate normally, but we have had to amend plane times to comply with the curfew.”
The British carrier BMI said it would try to get several homeward-bound flights away on Monday, but these were subject to delay and cancellation, and it advised people to monitor its website.
However, with internet and mobile phone access restricted, many of those stranded were left with little choice than to head to the airport and hope for the best.
Questions were being asked about the Foreign Office’s response to the crisis after several other countries including the United States, India and Turkey announced that they were organising special flights for their nationals.
Some 30,000 Britons are thought to be in Egypt, the vast majority in the Red Sea resorts such as Sharm elSheikh, which, so far, have not been affected by the protests. William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, said he was monitoring the situation closely but said there were no plans to send in special flights. He added that flights were going in and out of Cairo airport but a lack of staff there meant it was not functioning properly.
Dominic Asquith, the British Ambassador to Egypt, said: “There are a lot of challenges at the airport in Cairo. That’s why we’ve got the team up there trying to help. There are flights going in and out but it is not orderly.”
A rapid response team from the Foreign Office arrived at Cairo airport on Sunday night to assist British nationals stranded there. But some of those affected complained that not enough had been done.
A British expat, stuck in Cairo, said: “I am extremely frightened. Not enough is being done to keep us informed. We are being told to go the airport but it is going to be a nightmare because other nationalities are evacuating as well.”
Both British Airways and BMI, which fly direct services to and from Cairo, gave warning that the scheduled times had been altered to fit around the curfew.
Egyptian authorities announced that the curfew would be extended and would be in operation between 3pm and 8am from Monday. telegraph.co.uk/expat
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February 2 - 8 2011
G R A M P I A N M O U N T A I N S
SGURR CHOINNICH MOR 3,589ft (1,094m)
Adam Potter (above) fell 1,000ft down Sgurr Choinnich Mor (right-hand slope). A Navy helicopter took him to hospital
By Auslan Cramb Scottish Correspondent MOUNTAIN rescuers, told that a climber had fallen from a snow-covered ridge near Ben Nevis, prepared for the worst.
So when members of the helicopter crew spotted Adam Potter on his feet and consulting a map 1,000ft below the summit, they continued the search for an injured man.
But Mr Potter was the casualty they were looking for. He had fallen the entire way, dropping over three rocky crags, sustaining relatively minor injuries. Alerted to their error by the 36 year-old’s climbing companions, the rescuers headed back down the slope of 3,589ft Sgurr Choinnich Mor to winch him up and ferry him to hospital.
Mr Potter had plunged down a steep slope, as his girlfriend and two friends watched in horror, and “flew” off three rocky crags before a boulder stopped his fall. He had tumbled the height of the Eiffel Tower, leaving a trail of kit behind him, and yet had the composure to get out his OS map to find his location.
Mr Potter, a landfill manager, was airlifted to the Southern General Hospital in his home town of Glasgow.
The accident happened seconds after he turned to his girlfriend Kate Berry, 30, and told her they should stop, put on their crampons and take out their ice axes because the snow was getting icy.
He then lost his footing and began tumbling down the mountain while attempting to use his walking poles and his feet to slow his descent.
“When I first fell I was tumbling and falling head first, then feet first, in different directions,” he said. “I was out of control on a slope of ice and snow trying to slow myself down but then I would go over a cliff and go faster again.
“The helicopter crew told me I must have gone over three cliffs, and the last one was about 100ft. I don’t remember the first two but I remember the last one. I could see what was coming and at that point I thought it could be the end.”
He was still on a steep slope when he landed in snow but fell no further when he came to rest against a rock. Mr Potter, who took his dog with him on the outing, said he was unconscious for a short time and when he came round he tried to shout to his friends to say he was alive.
He put on a spare hat and gloves and had just got to his feet to look at the map when he heard the Royal Navy rescue helicopter. The aircraft had been on a training exercise and arrived within 30 minutes. When the members of the crew saw him standing beneath three craggy outcrops they thought it could not possibly be their man.
Lt Tim Barker, based at HMS Gannet, said: “It seemed impossible, so we retraced our path back up the mountain and, sure enough, there were bits of his kit in a line all the way up where he had obviously lost them during the fall.
“It’s hard to believe that someone could have fallen that distance on that terrain and been able to stand up.”
Mr Potter lost a lot of skin from his face, was suffering from sore shoulders which were wrenched by the rucksack on his back, suffered whiplash and chest pain and three minor breaks in his back, but was being treated as “walking wounded”.
The experience has not put him off climbing, however. He plans to tackle Everest in eight weeks’ time.
By David Millward Transport Editor THE rise in fuel duty that is due to come into effect in April could be postponed to provide some relief for motorists, George Osborne, the Chancellor, said last week.
Petrol prices have risen to record levels of almost £1.30 a litre due to rising oil prices and the recent increase in VAT. In April, fuel duty is due to rise again by the level of inflation plus an extra penny.
This rise is set out under the Fuel Duty Escalator, which the Coalition inherited from Labour, and could add another 3p or 4p on to a litre of petrol. Speaking in the West Midlands last week, the Chancellor gave his strongest hint to date that the Government was ready to bow to pressure from Britain’s 33million motorists and postpone at least part of the increase.
Asked whether he could do anything about the planned rise, Mr Osborne said: “We can override it, we are looking at that.” He also hinted that details of any concessions would be announced ahead of the March 23 Budget, saying that “if we are able to do something about it, we will do it before April”.
The AA sought clarity as to whether ministers proposed to freeze the whole duty increase or just the 1p “escalator” above inflation. “Two-thirds of AA members are being forced to cut back on car use, other spending or both to cope with record fuel prices,” said Edmund King, the AA’s president. “A 3.4 per cent drop in petrol sales in the last quarter, when prices were falling, indicates that many drivers have reached breaking point.”
Freezing all or part of the duty increase is one of the options being considered. David Cameron has said the fuel stabiliser, under which system taxes would reduce if the price of oil rises, was still on the agenda.
However, Whitehall sources also indicated that the Coalition’s ability to offer concessions to motorists was restricted by the state of the public finances and the need to reduce the deficit.
Petrol prices have reached 128.55p a litre and diesel is now selling at 133.21p. The prospects for motorists and hauliers appear grim, with oil continuing to rise on world markets, topping $99 a barrel. Fuel duty already accounts for 58.95p per litre, on top of VAT of more than 20p.
By Nick Pisa in Rome BRITONS living abroad who have lost their right to vote may soon win it back after the European Court of Human Rights asked the Government to explain why they cannot take part in general elections.
Under current legislation, Britons who live overseas can vote if they are on a list of overseas electors, but automatically lose the right after 15 years.
However, the Coalition is facing a challenge from Harry Shindler, a 90-year-old Second World War veteran who has taken his case to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. The court in turn has asked Britain to explain its actions.
It writes: “One of the major concerns of the Council of Europe is to preserve and strengthen democracy and civic rights of member states. Steps should therefore be taken to ensure that every national of a member state is able to exercise his political rights, at least in his country of origin, when he resides in another Council of Europe member state.
“Due regard should be given to the voting rights of citizens living abroad. The right to vote is an essential freedom in every democratic system.”
It comes just a few weeks after David Cameron disclosed that 28,000 prisoners were to be given the vote. The change was in response to a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights that said a 140-yearold blanket voting ban on prisoners in British jails was unlawful and discriminatory. Documents relating to overseas voting rights suggest Strasbourg views those rules in a similar way. Mr Shindler, who lives near Ascoli Piceno in Italy, believes he and hundreds of other expats who are backing him have a strong case. He moved to Italy in the early 1980s after fighting there in the Second World War.
He said: “What is very important is that many pensioners get their pensions from Britain and the Government looks after these pensions so we should have a say in the election of that Government. If people who have broken the law, are in jail – and in my book broken their ties with society more than people who live abroad – can be given the vote, then why can’t we?
“I truly believe the Government will lose this, and to prevent any further embarrassment to them I suggest that they concede now rather than take the long-winded route through the European Court of Human Rights.”
A Cabinet Office spokesman said: “The Government has been notified of the application and will respond to the Court. The right for UK citizens resident overseas to vote has been subject to a time limit since its introduction in 1985, although Parliament has adjusted the length of that limit on occasion. The Government keeps this under review.”