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May 25 - 31 2011
μWorld News PAGES 14-17
μComment PAGES 18-21
μObituaries PAGES 22-23
μExpat Life PAGES 31-32
Huhne in hot water Pressure grows for minister as wife reveals driving licence
Milly Dowler murder trial Teenager’s troubled relationship with her family unpicked in court
WORLD NEWS P15
Strauss-Khan bailed Wife of the former IMF chief puts up $1m cash and $5m assets
The trouble with soy Louise Gray on the impact of GM crops on villagers in Paraguay
15 6 20 36 38 42 4 17 23 24 30 35
Bonus Ball 4
Bonus Ball 5
There were two winners of Wednesday’s £2.6m prize and one winner of Saturday’s £4.4m jackpot
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By Andy Bloxham and Henry Samuel in Paris ABOUT 200,000 Britons who own holiday homes in France are to be charged a new tax that could cost them thousands of pounds a year.
a wealth tax as well as income tax.
Val Leatham, 49, from Lancaster, and her husband, Andrew, 52, who owns a construction firm, have a cottage on the outskirts of the village of Treignac, near Limoges in central France.
Nicolas Sarkozy, the president of France, who is floundering in the polls, has introduced the levy in an attempt to improve his economic credentials before elections next spring.
The change has been criticised by many property owners who already pay two taxes to the French authorities.
They have spent eight weeks a year there for the past eight years but do not let it because “it’s our personal getaway”. She said: “I’m not very happy about this new tax, especially as we don’t make any money from renting it, but I don’t suppose there’s anything we can do about it.”
Some homeowners are likely to be forced to sell their properties. There has been speculation that the tax could be challenged in the European Court as it might be discriminatory against foreign owners of second homes.
The property tax is due to come into force in January.
Christopher Bailey, 69, a retired management consultant, and his wife, Georgina Howell, an author, who own a medieval manor that they renovated in northwest France, said they resented the extra levy. Mr Bailey said: “To keep what is a fairly substantial property in France, we’re having to find other sources of income. Now, we might have to sell up.”
To calculate the amount owed, the French government estimates the value of the annual rent the property could generate – the valeur locative cadastrale – then charges the owner 20 per cent whether or not it is ever actually let. For example, a family with a two-bedroom flat in Normandy worth £350,000 would have to pay roughly an extra £700 a year; the owners of a £5.5million second home in a fashionable part of Paris would pay about £3,400 extra a year.
There are estimated to be 360,000 non-resident secondhome owners in France, of which about 200,000 are British.
They already pay two taxes: the taxe fonciere, which is paid by the person who owns a house; and the taxe d’habitation, which is paid by those who live in it.
Some expatriates, who are considered residents, also pay
Stewart Cook, a property agent with the firm Classic French Homes, said: “Already hit by a weak pound, many British owners who are having to consider selling on economic grounds will treat this news as the last straw.”
The tax could yet face challenges in the courts. Clare Brown, of the British Association of the Var, in Provence, south-east France, said: “There is a strong feeling among the French legal profession that this new tax will be challenged in the European courts and will not, therefore, be applied next year as proposed.”
Caroline Cohen, a Londonbased solicitor at the French Law Practice, said: “This new 20 per cent tax is likely to be challenged under European law since, in practice, it will discriminate against foreign owners of holiday homes.”
New wave Cannes prize for Dunst
KIRSTEN DUNST collected the best actress award at the Cannes Film Festival on Sunday night for her part in Lars Von Trier’s ‘Melancholia’. The Palme d’Or for best film went to Terrence Malick’s ‘The Tree of Life’. ‘The Tree of Life’ review: Page 27
By Martin Evans THE law surrounding privacy injunctions was described as being at “breaking point” this week after a newspaper used its front page to identify a high-profile footballer with a gagging order.
The Sunday Herald, which is published in Scotland, took the decision as tens of thousands of people defied the courts to go online and name the married Premier League star, who is alleged to have had an affair with the former Miss Wales, Imogen Thomas.
One MP described the backlash against the gagging orders as the biggest act of civil disobedience for decades and said the law was becoming a joke.
Last Friday, lawyers acting for the footballer began legal action against Twitter, the USbased website on which the player’s name was posted, in an attempt to force it to hand over details of users who breached the injunction. But within hours of the move, tens of thousands of people were posting the footballer’s name online.
The Sunday Herald, which argued that it was not bound by the injunction because it is published north of the border — under a different legal system — intensified the row by publishing the footballer’s picture on its front page and naming him inside.
John Hemming, the Liberal Democrat MP who has campaigned against injunctions, said the law required an urgent rethink.
“The judges’ application of privacy law is now close to breaking point, under pressure from the biggest act of civil disobedience seen for many years,” he said. “Thirty thousand people have broken the law by telling a joke. This is making the judge’s application of the law a joke.”
The Sunday Herald said it believed the law was no longer workable.
Gagging orders: Page 6
By Jon Swaine in New York LORD HURD’S daughter-inlaw has been found dead after apparently committing suicide by jumping from the roof of her home in New York.
Catherine Hurd, a mother of five, fell four storeys from the top of the rented town house where she lived with the former foreign secretary’s son Thomas, a British diplomat. Mrs Hurd, 46, left no note.
“All we can say is that no criminality is suspected,” a spokesman for New York police said.
It is thought that Mrs Hurd, who told neighbours that she taught English at an international school, was due to return to London next week. Her husband, 45, is at the end of a posting as a senior British official at the United Nations.
Mrs Hurd was discovered at 4.27am on Saturday on the pavement outside her home. Police arrived at the building after receiving an emergency call.
She was taken to Cornell University Medical Centre by paramedics and was pronounced dead shortly after.
George Rooney, the couple’s neighbour, said Mrs Hurd was a “very nice, very pretty lady”, who had lived next door for about six months.
Mr Rooney added that his wife, Susan, had seen Mrs Hurd earlier that day. “We were having a street sale and she’d already given lots of books because they were moving to England. She stopped and told Susan, ‘I have more books for you.’ She seemed happy as ever,” he said.
Mrs Rooney had heard a noise at midnight, which she thought was a radio “but may have been people next door talking. But just talking. We never heard them argue”.
Some of the couple’s five children are at school in England, the neighbour said, and visited New York only occasionally.
Mr Hurd, a former investment banker, was a contemporary of David Cameron at Eton and Oxford, where he was two years ahead of the Prime Minister.
For the past few years he has been in New York, where he is listed as working for the British delegation on the UN Security Council. telegraph.co.uk/expat
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May 25 - 31 2011
By Louise Gray and Richard Alleyne THE Chelsea Flower Show is meant to test the boundaries and showcase the cutting edge of gardening, but some say things may have gone too far.
With exhibits this year including a display suspended from a crane, a multi-storey vegetable patch and a full-size water wheel, critics are calling for a return to the more basic skills of horticulture.
Several gardening experts have said common sense has “flown out the window”, with grand constructions so far out of reach of the average gardener that they are no longer relevant.
Peter Seabrook, the gardening writer and broadcaster, said: “It worries me that the machinery now used on site to construct the show gardens is out of all proportion. Please could we for a year go back to a spade and wheelbarrow gardening? That is all we need.”
Chelsea Flower Show, organised by the Royal Horticultural Society — which was be opened by the Queen on Monday — is known for its spectacle but this year will contain some especially grandiose designs. Diarmuid Gavin, the television gardener, is building a 50ft pod stuffed with flowers that will be winched 82ft into the air. He is calling it the Irish Sky Garden.
B&Q, the DIY store, is building a six-storey garden, at 30ft the show’s highest, which will contain allotments overflowing with tomatoes, lettuce and edible flowers. Another striking feature will be the 10ft working water wheel in the Leeds City Council Garden.
In further efforts to capture attention, other gardeners are using moving sculptures, “floating” glass roofs and huge water features. But critics say the displays are more about construction skills than gardening skills.
Helen Yemm, The Telegraph gardening writer, said: “I have always thought it is over the top. It fuels people’s fantasies but it doesn’t inform them.”
Others said the criticism missed the point. Tim Richardson, the gardening writer, said: “People don’t go to Chelsea for reality, they go for fantasy.”
Bob Sweet, head of shows development at the RHS, said the trend started a few years ago when the RHS relaxed the rules on height. Cleve West, who is designing The Telegraph’s garden, is bucking the trend with a sunken garden based on the Roman ruins of Libya. “It means you can have a bit of privacy,” he said.
Diarmuid Gavin’s flower bed in the sky, far left, waits to be winched into place. Above, the
Leeds water wheel. Left, the six-storey B&Q allotment tower
By Anita Singh SHERLOCK, the BBC One television drama that transposed Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s detective into the present day, won best drama series at the television Baftas on Sunday night. Martin Freeman, who played Dr Watson, picked up the best supporting actor award.
Benedict Cumberbatch, who played Holmes, was nominated for the best actor award along with the Doctor Who star Matt Smith. However, both missed out when the prize went to Daniel Rigby for his performance as a young Eric Morecambe in BBC Two’s Eric and Ernie.
The best actress award went to Vicky McClure for her role in the Channel 4 drama This Is England ’86.
Any Human Heart, Channel 4’s adaptation of the William Boyd novel, won best drama serial. It starred Gillian Anderson as Wallis Simpson and the actress attended the ceremony wearing a vintage bolero designed for Mrs Simpson by Dior in 1963. A surprise winner of the best comedy prize was BBC Two’s Harry and Paul – so much so that stars Paul Whitehouse and Harry Enfield had not attended the event.
Jo Brand was named best comedy performer. Sir David Attenborough’s Flying Monsters 3D won the best specialist factual award.
Between Life and Death won the best documentary prize for BBC One. The film captured the moment that Richard Rudd, a hospital patient who had been left paralysed and brain damaged after a motorbike accident, blinked to ask doctors not to switch off his life support machine.
Hugh FearnleyWhittingstall’s Channel 4 series Hugh’s Fish Fight, which raised awareness of dwindling fish stocks, took the best features prize.
The broadcaster Sir Trevor McDonald received the academy fellowship.
By Andy Bloxham BRITAIN is enjoying its hottest, driest spring since records began, with temperatures of up to 75F (24C) predicted this week and a sunny bank holiday weekend ahead.
The Met Office said the average temperature across Britain since the start of March has been just over 48.6F (9.2C) – the warmest since records began in 1910.
The fine weather forecast for the rest of May is only likely to push it higher. The previous record spring was 2007, with an average a shade lower at 48.3F (9C).
Although a boon for sunlovers and those who like outdoors activities, the high temperatures and lack of rainfall have caused problems for farmers and gardeners.
Exhibitors at this week’s Chelsea Flower Show have been forced to change their spring flower displays for summer blooms or even refrigerate their plants to slow their development.
There is no relief on the way for farmers affected by a drought that has seen England and Wales averaging just over 2in (61mm) of rain since March 1, and less than half an inch (10mm) in western Suffolk and Cambridgeshire.
In some areas, the rainfall in March and April has been the lowest for a century. A dire harvest is predicted this year and there is a lack of grass to provide feed for livestock, both of which will put inflationary pressure on food prices.
There are also deepening fears over possible water restrictions and the need for hosepipe bans.
According to the Environment Agency, which has now activated its drought plan, south west, central and eastern England as well as southern Wales have received below average rainfall since October 2010.
This spring could also be the sunniest since 1910, with May averaging 108.1 hours of sunshine up to the 15th.