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MI5 chief: 'Step-change' after 7/7 thwarted plane bombs plot

Andrew Parker said 7/7 is a reminder of the 'reality of what MI5 is striving every day to prevent'.

The head of MI5 has said "a step-change" in the UK's counter terrorism defences in the wake of 7/7 helped prevent "Al Qaeda’s most ambitious plot".

Andrew Parker, Director General of the security service, said: "A year later we detected and, with partner agencies, prevented Al Qaeda’s most ambitious plot - to bring down multiple airliners on US cities using liquid bombs on flights from London.

"Thousands would have died. I’m not sure we would have detected it without the uplift that followed 7/7".

He added: "These and other appalling acts are attempted by individuals who have grown up here but decided for whatever twisted reasons to identify their own country as the enemy.

"They are a tiny fraction of the population. But the continuing fact that some people, born in the UK, with all the opportunities and freedoms that modern Britain offers, can nonetheless make those sorts of warped choices presents a serious societal and security challenge."

He added that the "terrible events" which killed 52 people in 2005 are "enduring reminders of the reality of what MI5 is striving every day to prevent".

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Cowell to return to X Factor auditions on Wednesday

Simon Cowell will return to the judging panel on Wednesday. Credit: PA

X Factor auditions will begin this week after the show was halted following the death of Simon Cowell's mother.

The music mogul will attend auditions on Wednesday and Thursday, a statement from Syco said. The first try-outs had been due to begin in Manchester today.

Announcing the death of 89-year-old Julie Cowell last night, his family said they were "heartbroken".

A family spokesman added: "We would like to thank the media for kindly respecting Julie's privacy throughout and we politely request continued privacy for the entire family at this particularly difficult time."

Read more: X Factor auditions cancelled following death of Simon Cowell's mother

Tsipras: Capital controls must be lifted immediately

Prime Minister Tsipras (right) spoke with ECB President Mario Draghi (left). Credit: Reuters

Capital controls in Greece need to be lifted immediately, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has told the European Central Bank.

During a phone call with Mario Draghi, the bank's president, Mr Tsipras also discussed the liquidity of Greek banks, a government official told Reuters.

The Greek government imposed capital controls to prevent the collapse of the banking system, resulting in banks closing and a limit on the level of ATM withdrawals.

It follows a conversation between the Greek PM and International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde, in which Mr Tsipras was told the lender could not provide funds to countries that had missed payments to it. Greece defaulted on an IMF loan last month.

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