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Tory MEP Philip Bradbourn dies aged 63

Tory MEP Philip Bradbourn has died aged 63, the Conservative Party has announced. The West Midlands MEP, who had served in the European Parliament since 1999, was diagnosed with bowel cancer shortly after being re-elected in May and died last night.

His no-nonsense approach to politics made him a powerful voice for the West Midlands as well as a resolute defender of the British taxpayers' interests in Brussels and Strasbourg.

– Ashley Fox, leader of the Conservative MEPs

Ashley Fox, leader of the Conservative MEPs, said Mr Bradbourn was a "one-off" adding that he was "a much loved character who could always be relied on for a robust intervention and a succinct summary of a political point".

George Clooney: Sony must release The Interview

Hollywood actor George Clooney has said the entertainment industry should push for immediate release of The Interview online.

George Clooney: Sony must release The Interview. Credit: PA

Not because everybody has to see the movie, but because I'm not going to be told we can't see the movie.

That's the most important part.

Here, we’re talking about an actual country deciding what content we’re going to have. This affects not just movies, this affects every part of business that we have.

That’s the truth. What happens if a newsroom decides to go with a story, and a country or an individual or corporation decides they don’t like it?

Forget the hacking part of it. You have someone threaten to blow up buildings, and all of a sudden everybody has to bow down.

– George Clooney spoke to Deadline

Clooney told the trade site Deadline that Sony should "do whatever you can to get this movie out".

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Panic Saturday: Shops 'expected to double takings'

A Centre for Retail Research report for Vouchercodes.co.uk found that delayed online orders, poor weather in some areas and earlier sales were expected to drive 60.9 million shoppers to the high street between today and Christmas Eve - up 14% on last year.

Department stores expected to double takings. Credit: PA

Britain's department stores can expect to double their takings this weekend, with outlets in the north of England set to benefit the most from Panic Saturday, according to data from payment processing company Worldpay.

It said the number of card payments processed by department stores in some parts of the UK just prior to Christmas rose by as much.

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High Street shops offer up to 60% 'panic Saturday' discounts

High street hops have cut prices for what is expected to one of the busiest shopping days of the year.

High Street shops offer 60% 'panic Saturday' discounts Credit: )PA

Among the retailers offering discounts, Debenhams is selling some Christmas gifts at half-price, Boots is offering a 60% discount of selected fragrances, while Marks & Spencer has knocked 50% off the price of some beauty products.

The Centre for Retail Research (CRR) has predicted in-store sales will reach £4.74 billion over the five days before Christmas - a 21% increase on last year.

Police recapture mistakenly released teenager

Police have managed to recapture a teenage inmate who they released in 'error.'

Police are offering a reward after Jordan Lee Francois was released from prison in error Credit: Metropolitan Police

Jordan Francois, 18, was rearrested at 5.35am today in Edmonton, North London.

The Metropolitan Police had offered a £10,000 reward for information that would lead to the rearrest of the teenager who was "unlawfully at large" from Wandsworth Prison, where he was on remand for attempted murder.

High street stores braced for rush on 'panic Saturday'

Shoppers are expected to spend millions as they buy last-minute Christmas gifts. Credit: Anthony Devlin/PA

High street spending is set to reach £1.2 billion today as festive shoppers hit the stores on "Panic Saturday".

Thirteen million consumers will spend £2.1 million for every minute the shops are open on last-minute gifts and groceries at an average of £92.31 per person, according to a report by the Centre for Retail Research (CRR).

Women hardest hit by austerity plans, Labour warns

Ed Balls claimed women will 'bear the brunt' of Conservative plans to cut the deficit. Credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA

Women will be hardest hit by George Osborne's austerity measures if the Conservatives win next May's general election, Labour has warned.

Analysis by the independent House of Commons Library, commissioned by the Opposition, showed that freezing benefits and tax credits will disproportionately affect women.

Shadow chancellor Ed Balls said the figures showed women will "bear the brunt" of the Tory plans to tackle the deficit.

Of course we need to make savings to get the deficit down. But the Tories have chosen to hit millions of working families on modest incomes again, while keeping their huge tax cut for millionaires.

– Shadow chancellor Ed Balls
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