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June 2 - 8 2010
μWorld News PAGES 14-17
μComment PAGES 18-21
μObituaries PAGES 22-23
μExpat Life PAGES 29-32
Up, up and away Man flies across the Channel, with the help of a few balloons
When I die take me to May Adam Nicolson reflects on the British obsession with gardening
Life after Pi Yann Martel on the follow-up to his Booker-winning novel
EXPAT LIFE P29-31
Special report: Tax-free cars Mike Rutherford on tax breaks available to car-buying expats
4 2 5 19 20 27 2 17 36 39 42 48
Bonus Ball 21
Bonus Ball 41
There were three winners of Wednesday’s £1.9m jackpot and four winners of Saturday’s £4.8m prize
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Saints and sinners Find our full MPs’ expenses database online at telegraph.co.uk/mpsexpenses
By Jon Swaine and Holly Watt THE new Chief Secretary to the Treasury avoided paying capital gains tax when he sold his taxpayer-funded second home at a profit.
Danny Alexander, who was appointed last Saturday after the resignation of fellow Liberal Democrat David Laws, designated the property as his second home for the purpose of claiming parliamentary expenses but described it to HM Revenue and Customs as his main home.
On Sunday night, Mr Alexander admitted that he took advantage of a loophole to legally avoid paying CGT when he sold the south London property in 2007 for around £300,000.
The disclosure that he failed to pay CGT comes at a particularly sensitive time because the Coalition is planning to increase the rate of the tax for owners of second homes and buy-to-let properties in an emergency budget this month. When Mr Alexander sold his flat the top rate of CGT was 40 per cent. It has since dropped to 18 per cent but the Lib Dems are now pushing for it to be increased to 40 or even 50 per cent.
The Telegraph is running a campaign calling on the
Government to protect the savings of small investors and ordinary second-home owners from any rise in CGT.
The fact that Mr Alexander has become the second Liberal Democrat to face questions about his finances within three days has focused attention on whether the party leadership has properly audited the financial activities of its senior figures.
Nick Clegg has been highly critical of MPs who avoided capital gains tax on the sale of their taxpayer-funded second homes. The Conservatives thoroughly audited all of their MPs’ claims at the time of the expenses scandal.
After being elected as an MP in 2005, Mr Alexander declared the flat as his second home to the parliamentary authorities and claimed expenses. He claimed more than £37,000 in expenses for the flat – and carried out some work to the property at the taxpayers’ expense shortly before selling in June 2007. Mr Alexander took advantage of a tax loophole that allows people to continue to tell the tax authorities for three years that a property is their main home even if they have bought another house – in
Danny Alexander attends a Coalition cabinet meeting at No10 last month
Mr Alexander’s case in Scotland – which has become their “principal residence”. It did not stop him telling the authorities at the House of Commons that the London property was his second home.
The three-year loophole was introduced to give people time to sell their homes during housing market downturns. The Lib Dems have previously criticised its capacity to be abused.
Last year, they attempted to change the law to reduce the period to six months unless people were genuinely struggling to sell their home after moving to another property. This was not the case for Mr Alexander.
Senior accountants this week likened Mr Alexander’s arrangements to those of Hazel Blears, the former Labour minister. Miss Blears was forced to repay money to HM Revenue and Customs after selling a property designated as her second home for parliamentary purposes, without paying CGT.
There is no suggestion that Mr Alexander has broken any tax laws.
Editorial comment, page 19
By Toby Harnden and Richard Alleyne MILLIONS of gallons of oil could be gushing into the Gulf of Mexico until at least August, the White House admitted on Sunday, as BP confirmed the failure of the “top kill” attempt to staunch the flow.
The setback, which President Barack Obama described as being “as enraging as it is heartbreaking”, has the potential to make the Deepwater Horizon disaster the worst environmental catastrophe of modern times.
“More oil is leaking in the Gulf of Mexico than at any other time in our history. It means there is more oil than the Exxon Valdez [spill in Alaska in 1989],” said Carol Browner, the White House energy adviser.
Taking the highest estimates of four million gallons, or 95,000 barrels, of oil being released each day, the disaster could lead to 378million gallons polluting the Gulf of Mexico and its beaches if the leak continues for another 90 days.
That would make it the worst ever peacetime oil spill. Some 520million gallons of
<< How the spill compares >>
Ixtoc Oil Well Gulf of Mexico
Jun 1979 140mg
BP Gulf of Mexico 2010 92mg*
Kuwait oil wells
Persian Gulf Jan 1991 520mg mg million gallons
Atlantic Empress Trinidad and Tobago
Castillo de Bellver
South Africa August 1983
Brittany March 1978
Haven Italy, April 1991
31 25 11
Torrey Canyon Isles of Scilly March 1967 Braer Shetland January 1993
Exxon Valdez Alaska, March 1989
oil were released into the Gulf during the 1991 Gulf war and 140million gallons spilt into the Gulf of Mexico from the Ixtoc oil well in 1979-80. The Deepwater Horizon disaster has eclipsed the worst oil spill in US history, from the Exxon Valdez wreck off Alaska in 1989, when 11million gallons were released.
An independent government-sponsored team has estimated up to 19,000 barrels of oil a day have been spewing into the Gulf. If the upper end of that rate continued until the end of August, that would represent 70million gallons of oil, making the spill the sixth worst in history.
BP will now try to fit a containment cap on the ruptured well. It could take a week for it to be put in place.
It will use robots to slice through the damaged pipe to make a clean cut that can be connected to another pipe to capture the leaking oil.
The White House warned that in the short term the operation could actually increase the flow of oil by up to a fifth. BP said the operation had never been carried out at a depth of 5,000ft.
Work has also started on two relief wells, which will not be completed until August. The extended drilling means BP’s near-$1billion (£700 million) costs could triple. It has spent more than $850million so far, causing its share price to drop 25pc since the leak started a month ago.
Business, page 33 telegraph.co.uk/expat
June 2 - 8 2010
By Paul Stokes and John Bingham THE PhD criminology student accused of murdering three prostitutes in killings likened to those of the Yorkshire Ripper stood in court last Friday and announced himself as the “Crossbow Cannibal”.
Relatives of his alleged victims gasped as Stephen Griffiths made the extraordinary declaration as he was asked to enter formally his name in his first appearance since being charged. The 40-year-old former public schoolboy is accused of murdering Suzanne Blamires, 36, Susan Rushworth, 43, and Shelley Armitage, 31, who all went missing while working in Bradford’s red light district.
Mr Griffiths requested the law firm Lumb and MacGill solicitors to represent him because he knew the name from his studies of Peter Sutcliffe, the Yorkshire Ripper, who stalked Bradford’s red light district.
Police linked the three cases after Miss Blamires’s severed head and other mutilated body parts were found in a canal in nearby Shipley earlier last week. It later emerged that they were studying CCTV footage of a woman being shot with a crossbow in the city early the previous Saturday.
Police were also investigating suggestions that the killer might have eaten parts of his victims but had not corroborated the claims.
Last week, officers were searching a fast-flowing water course a few hundreds yards from Mr Griffiths’s flat.
The beck leads directly to the point on the River Aire where parts of Miss Blamires’s dismembered body were found washed up in bags. Earlier, nearby drains were being examined and several hand car washes along the riverbank that pump thousands of gallons of water into the beck every day were being searched.
A small group of friends and relatives of Miss Rushworth and Miss Armitage sat a few feet from Mr Griffiths at Bradford magistrates’ court. Some of the relatives wiped away tears as he walked into the dock,
dressed in a black militarystyle shirt and black trousers, with his hair dyed black.
He momentarily paused, holding his hands together as if in prayer before bowing his head and standing in silence.
When the clerk, Amarjit Soor, asked him to confirm his name for the court, there was a brief pause as he looked up, scratched the back of his head and answered: “The Crossbow Cannibal”.
The clerk quickly moved on, asking Mr Griffiths, of Thornton Road, Bradford, to confirm his address. Glancing around the room, he replied: “Erm… here, I guess.” Griffiths then stood silently as the three charges of murder were read out. In an unusual move, he was remanded in custody to appear at Bradford Crown Court just over four hours later. There, when he was accused of the three killings in the space of 11 months, he was asked, “Are you Stephen Shaun Griffiths?” This time replied, “I am”.
During the six-minute hearing he sat with his hands clasped together and his head bowed but nodded in agreement when his barrister,
A picture of Stephen Griffiths taken from his website and, right from top, pictures of three of his alleged victims: Shelley Armitage, Suzanne Blamires and Susan Rushworth
Ian Howard, said that there was no application for bail. When the judge asked him if he understood that his next appearance would be via a television link from prison on June 7, he again nodded. Outside the court a crowd shouted abuse as he was driven to Wakefield Prison.
Mr Griffiths’s father, also Stephen, said that he had not seen or spoken to his son for 10 years adding: “All our sympathies are with the victims.”
By Paul Stokes Richard Edwards and Andy Bloxham A “KILLER’S kitbag” with hacksaws and knives that could be used to dismember bodies has been found by police investigating the Bradford prostitute murders.
Teams of police divers found a black suitcase containing the tools in the same river from which the severed body parts of Suzanne Blamires were recovered last week.
They will be tested for any links to the victims. Police are also awaiting results on the discovery of further remains found in the River Aire at Shipley.
Stephen Griffiths, 40, a criminology student, appeared in court last Friday charged with the murders of
Miss Blamires, Shelley Armitage and Susan Rushworth.
A former girlfriend of the suspected killer told on Sunday how she lost their baby during pregnancy.
Kathy Hancock, 37, said that Mr Griffiths took a positive pregnancy test stick they had kept and “made a coffin for it”.
She said that when she started dating the PhD student in 2000, he claimed he found her attractive because she was a prison officer at HMP Full Sutton.
“He told me he was attracted to me because I was a figure of authority,” Miss Hancock said. “He said his ideal would have been a police officer.” She claimed that he had a tattoo on his arm saying “Diane Lost War”, referring to a legal battle with a previous girlfriend. She also told how he would take pet lizards to nightclubs in his rucksack. “He used the animals to get people to talk to him,” she said.
Neighbours of the suspect’s mother, Moira Griffiths, 61, a former telephonist, said that she had been on holiday in Britain at the time of the arrest of her son.
However, she had not returned to her home in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire. A police source said they needed to speak to her, adding: “She’s obviously in turmoil.”
Relatives of Mr Griffiths said they were shocked that he was accused of being a serial killer.
Joan Griffiths, an aunt, said: “I do not want anything to do with that side of the family. It is disgusting.”
Joe Dewhirst, an uncle, said relations had been
“traumatised” by the allegations. Mr Dewhirst said Mr Griffiths was a “very quiet and withdrawn” youngster.
“You could never read him,” he said. “He wasn’t the kind of lad you could talk to about football or things like that. He was very much a loner.”
The uncle said Mr Griffiths announced in his teens that he wanted nothing to do with his family and had not been in touch with them since.
Sex workers placed a bouquet of flowers among 30 other floral tributes at the door of Mr Griffiths’s flat in Bradford’s red light district.
They attached a poem to “Sue, Shelley and Amba” [Miss Blamires]. The final line read: “The saddest day of all our lives was the day we lost you. Night, God Bless Angels”.