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Fears for barn owls after 'worst year on record'

Extreme weather has left barn owls suffering their "worst year ever," conservationists have warned.

An unusually cold spring caused a dramatic drop in nesting by the farmland species in 2013, according to monitoring schemes undertaken across the UK.

Barn owls suffered their worst year on record in 2013 as they struggled in the face of the bitterly cold spring, conservationists have said. Credit: PA

The number of occupied nests was down 71% on the average across all previous years and almost four times as many dead barn owls were reported to the British Trust for Ornithology in March, according to the Barn Owl Trust.

David Ramsden, the trust's senior conservation officer, said: "It's a lot to do with the fact that March was like January. Just when it should be getting warmer and mortality should have been dropping, it continued."

The barn owl's chance of recovery depends on land management and whether climate change will bring more cold winters, he added.

Teen cancer patient gets a visit from Jason Manford

Teenage cancer sufferer Stephen Sutton has had a hospital visit from comic Jason Manford - who helped his fundraising campaign go viral over social media.

Stephen initially set himself a target of trying to raise £10,000 for the Teenage Cancer Trust. He later raised that to £1m.

After it was confirmed yesterday that the total donated had surpassed that, Jason Manford urged his followers on Twitter to keep the campaign going in an attempt to reach £2m. At the time of writing, the total is roughly a little over £1,784,000.

Read: £1m cancer fundraiser Stephen Sutton 'still fighting'


Man 'crushed to death' at industrial waste site

A man whose body was found at a waste disposal site died of crushing injuries, a post-mortem examination has shown.

The body of Ben Farr, 28, of St Leonard's, East Sussex, was found at the Rudford Industrial Estate near Ford, West Sussex, on Tuesday.

Ben Farr, 28, died of crushing injuries Credit: Sussex Police

He was likely to have been inside a commercial bin that was transported to the site by a lorry, said police, who are treating the death as "unexplained."

Sussex Police's Detective Inspector Jim McKnight said Mr Farr's family has been informed and appealed for anyone with information to contact the police.

"It is likely that Ben's body was brought to the site by lorry having been taken from a commercial refuse bin," he said. "The refuse bin could be from a number of locations but is likely to be from a coastal location in West Sussex."

For more on this story visit ITV News Meridian


Vladimir Putin says the internet is a 'CIA project'

Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned Ukraine against using the army on its own population Credit: Reuters

Russian President Vladimir Putin has derided the internet as a Central Intelligence Agency project and has pledged to protect Russia's interests online.

According to the Associated Press, Putin mocked the World Wide Web at a media forum in St. Petersburg, claiming that it was "originally a CIA project" and is "still developing as such".

The Kremlin has long sought greater controls over the internet as many opposition activists, who are banned from state media, use the medium to promote their views and organise protests.

Read: Russia blocks Ukraine protest websites

Govt 'very concerned' about threat from Syria conflict

Prime Minister David Cameron said the Government was "very concerned" about the terror threat posed by the conflict in Syria.

Prime Minister David Cameron. Credit: Jeff Moore/Jeff Moore/Empics Entertainment

His comments come as a national campaign to urge British Muslim women to warn their husbands and sons against travelling to Syria has been launched.

Mr Cameron said: "We are very concerned as a Government and as a country about the threat of terrorism coming out of Syria. What we are doing is trying to prevent people from travelling there.

"And people can help: if you know someone who is in danger of being radicalised, with radical views, and is thinking of travelling to Syria, then the best thing to do is to talk to the police, talk to the authorities so that we can help you to stop that from happening."

Ukraine: Russia 'must stop blackmail'

Ukraine's acting President Oleksandr Turchynov has demanded that Russia pull back troops from the border with Ukraine, stop interfering with the country's internal affairs and end its "black mail.'

Mr Turchinov broadcast a brief address to the nation after Russia said it had begun military exercises near the border in response to escalation by Ukraine.

Video: Ukrainian troops clear road blocks in Sloviansk

Andy Coulson: I didn't help or hinder hacking probe

Andy Coulson told the Old Bailey hacking trial he made the decision not to "help or hinder" a 2006 police investigation into hacking at the now-defunct News of the World.

"I made my decision, and I decided that I wouldn’t hinder the police investigation, but I made the decision I wouldn’t help the police investigation," the paper's former editor said in response to a question by co-defendant Clive Goodman's lawyer, David Spens QC.

Mr Coulson also accused the ex-royal editor of "completely twisting" his words after a meeting at a cafe in Wimbledon, south west London, in which Mr Goodman alleges his boss tried to convince him to admit he undertook hacking a "lone wolf".

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