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Crossrail project 'still has considerable risks'

There are still considerable risks in delivering a multi-billion cross-London railway programme by its target time of 2019, an influential group of MPs have concluded.

Crossrail engineers wait for the thousand tonne tunneling machine, Victoria, to break into the underground station at Whitechapel Credit: PA

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) warned the £15.8 billion Crossrail project had been undersold by the Department for Transport (DfT).

As a result, the DfT had mixed success securing contributions from businesses and Heathrow Airport Ltd would now only provide £70 million - less than a third of the funding originally agreed.

Costing £14.8 billion, with the trains costing a further £1 billion, Crossrail will stretch from Reading in Berkshire to the west as far east as Shenfield in Essex and will transform cross-London train journeys.

However, PAC praised the project for being "broadly on schedule and delivered within budget"

Read: Huge investment in railways


MPs blast 'questionable' sale of chemicals to Syria

Successive governments have been criticised by a group of MPs for issuing and continuing export licenses which allow chemicals to be sold to Syria.

  • The CAEC hit out at the previous Labour government's decision to issue five licenses for sodium fluoride, which it described as "highly questionable".
  • MPs were also critical of the Coalition for issuing two licences for sodium and potassium fluoride after the civil war had begun. CAEC said this was irresponsible.
  • They also said the current Government's claim that it had no grounds to refuse the licences was "grossly inaccurate".

UN calls for dialogue as Israel shows 'Hamas rockets'

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu showed the UN Secretary General remains of what Israel said were long-range rockets used by Hamas militants in Gaza.

Mr Netanyahu told Ban Ki-moon that these were remains of recently launched rockets by Gaza militants at Israeli cities. The UN called for two-state solution to the conflict in a statement earlier in the day.


PM Netanyahu shows UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon the remains of a rocket fired by Hamas terrorists at Israel.


MPs warn Britain is still 'exporting arms to Russia'

The UK continues to export millions of pounds of weapons and dual-use military equipment to Russia, despite accusations Moscow has been arming separatist rebels in Ukraine, MPs have warned.

Read: MH17 bodies begin long journey back to the Netherlands

Russian flag
Russian President Vladimir Putin has been accused of escalating violence in neighbouring Ukraine by supplying arms to rebels. Credit: PA

The Commons Committees on Arms Export Controls (CAEC) found 251 export licenses had been issued, and were still in use, for £132 million in controlled goods to be sold to Russia.

Only 31 licenses had been revoked or suspended since former foreign secretary William Hague promised to stop military sales to Russia in March earlier this year, CAEC said.

Among the licences which remained valid were permits covering sniper rifles, night sights, small arms ammunition, gun mountings, body armour, military communications equipment, and "equipment employing cryptography".

CAEC chairman Sir John Stanley said: "Russia is an authoritarian regime. We should have been applying a more cautious approach for some time in regard to Russia."

Read: Obama: 'Russia has failed' in halting weapons flow

Palestinian president denounces Israel 'killing machines'

President of the Palestinian National Authority Mahmoud Abbas
President of the Palestinian National Authority Mahmoud Abbas Credit: Daniel Naupold/DPA/Press Association Images

Members of the Palestinian leadership convened to make a statement denouncing continued airstrikes against targets in the Gaza Strip by the Israeli military, describing the bombardments as results of the Israeli machines of "killing and destruction". Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said:

The time has come, and everyone should speak loudly and speak out in the name of justice against the Israeli machines of killing and destruction.

We will go to every place to stop the offensive and to secure our legitimate rights, and we will chase all those who have committed crimes against our people, no matter how long it takes, so these crimes do not go unpunished.

– Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas


easyJet suspends flights to Israel amid violence

Budget airliner easyJet is among several airlines to suspend services to Israel, after a rocket landed near Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion airport. EasyJet said it would review its operations on a day-to-day basis.

The safety and security of easyJet's passengers and crew is the airline's highest priority. We will try to provide suitable and secure hotel accommodation for affected passengers and will fly affected passengers home as soon as we can.

– easyJet

Flights cancelled include:

  • EZS1191 0615 Basel - Tel Aviv
  • EZY2085 1225 London Luton - Tel Aviv
  • EZS1192 1215 Tel Aviv - Basel
  • EZY2086 2020 Tel Aviv - London Luton

BA continues flights to Israel despite recommendations

British Airways is to continue flights to Israel despite other airlines suspending services to the war-torn country.

BA continues flights to Israel
BA continues flights to Israel Credit: PA

Some American and European countries have stopped Israeli flights after a rocket landed near Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion airport. But BA said yesterday it was carrying on with its twice-daily London to Tel Aviv services.

"We are continuing to operate to Israel as normal," a BA spokeswoman said.

Netherlands to lead day of mourning for MH17 victims

The king and queen of the Netherlands will lead mourners as the first victims of the Malaysia Airlines MH17 disaster are repatriated from the Ukraine.

The Dutch flag flies at half-staff at the Kneuterdijk Palace in The Hague
The Dutch flag flies at half-staff at the Kneuterdijk Palace in The Hague Credit: Reuters

King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima will be in Eindhoven with relatives of the 298 people - including 10 Britons - killed when the Boeing 777-200 was apparently shot down by Russia-backed separatists over eastern Ukraine on Thursday.

The Dutch government had declared today a national day of mourning. The Netherlands government said a minute's silence will be held before a motorcade takes them to the Korporaal van Oudheusden barracks, where the process of identifying them will begin.

Obama and Rutte welcome more sanctions over Ukraine

President Obama, in a call with the Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, has welcomed EU preparations over additional sanctions against "those destabilising Ukraine", a White House spokesperson said.

The White House spokesperson added that the leaders both agreed that once the remains of victims from the plane crash were repatriated, their priority would be to secure the crash site and allow an international investigation to proceed.

The president welcomed the action taken today by the European Union's Foreign Affairs Council strongly condemning the actions leading to this tragedy and preparing additional sanctions against those destabilizing Ukraine.

The president and prime minister noted their concerns about further evidence that Russia is continuing to send weapons and fighters across the border to support the separatists, while continuing to mass its own forces.

– White House
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