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Squaddies prepare for Everest challenge at Leeds Beckett University

A team of British soldiers are being put through their paces by sport scientists at Leeds Beckett University as they prepare to attempt to climb the North Face of Everest.

The north face of Everest

A team of six regular and reserves serving soldiers, along with their team medic, will depart from the UK in April to attempt the feat.

As part of their preparations for the conditions that they will face, they are taking part in a research study led by Leeds Beckett PhD student, Mark Cooke, and supervised by Dr John O'Hara, Reader in Sport and Exercise Physiology, and Visiting Professor Lt. Col. David Woods.

The University experts are putting the team through a pre-acclimation protocol, allowing the expedition team to experience and acclimatise to the physiological challenges of climbing at a high altitude.

The aim of the research is to enhance the likelihood of the team reaching the top of Mount Everest.

"At high altitude, pulmonary diffusion and oxygen transportation are limited, meaning the body is in a state of oxygen deficiency.

"The body tries to compensate for this, and through acclimatisation, this situation can be improved.

"However, at extreme altitudes such as on Mount Everest, the body cannot completely compensate, which makes such a challenge very hard and potentially life threatening.

"Therefore, we hope that this training prior to the expedition will help them acclimatise more effectively whilst on the mountain and enhance their performance.

" In conjunction with outdoor activity specialists Carnegie Great Outdoors, we have a strong history of working with military expeditions in preparing for such challenges and feel strongly that this research will assist them in summiting Mount Everest."

– Dr John O'Hara, Leeds Beckett University

During the training, the Army team are spending prolonged periods of time each day in the University's environmental chamber, which simulates high altitude conditions through the manipulation of the fraction of inspired oxygen at sea level.

The scientists will be testing the team both before and after the training to measure effectiveness of the pre-acclimation protocol, as well as assessing the effectiveness of the training on the expedition.

Anti-drink spiking event held in memory of Jane Khalaf

The parents of a 19-year-old student from Huddersfield who died after claiming her drink had been spiked abroad have spent the last four months trying to find out more about what happened to their daughter.

Jane died following a night out with friends in Germany

Jane Khalaf was on an exchange trip to Germany in November when she collapsed after a night out. Jane died eight days later in hospital - and drugs were discovered in her system although her parents say she was always totally anti-drugs.

On what would have been Jane's birthday, an event was held in her hometown to raise awareness of drink spiking where her family will also be celebrating her life:

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Huddersfield student to be commemorated at event in home town

An event will be held in Huddersfield tomorrow evening to celebrate the life of a student who died in Germany.

Jane Khalaf will be remembered at an event in her home town

Jane Khalaf died after collapsing in hospital in Cologne after claiming her drink had been spiked on a night out. Drugs were found in her system but her family say Jane, a politics student, was fervently against drugs.

They hope to raise awareness about drink spiking at the event.

Meredith's mother " shocked" at ruling

The mother of murdered Leeds University student Meredith Kercher said she was "surprised and very shocked" by an Italian court's decision to overturn the convictions of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito.

The decision by the supreme Court of Cassation is the final ruling in the case, ending the long legal battle waged by Ms Knox and her ex-boyfriend.

Ms Kercher, 21, from Coulsdon, Surrey, was sexually assaulted and stabbed to death in her bedroom in 2007 while studying in Perugia, Italy.

Arline Kercher, Meredith's mother, said she had heard little more about the decision other than the verdict.

She told the Press Association: "(I am) a bit surprised, and very shocked, but that is about it at the moment.

"They have been convicted twice so it's a bit odd that it should change now."

Asked whether she had any plans following the ruling, she said: "I really don't know at the moment, I haven't got any plans."

Former lovers cleared of Kercher murder

An Italian court has overturned the conviction of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito for the murder of Leeds University student Meredith Kercher.

Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito have been cleared of the murder of Leeds University student Meredith Kercher

The decision by the supreme Court of Cassation is the final ruling in the case, ending the long legal battle waged by Ms Knox and her ex-boyfriend. Ms Kercher, a 21-year-old from Coulsdon, Surrey, was sexually assaulted and stabbed to death in her bedroom in 2007 while studying in Perugia, Italy.

Her flatmate Ms Knox, a student from Seattle in the US, and Mr Sollecito spent four years in jail for the murder but were acquitted on appeal in 2011.

Ms Knox returned to the US before an appeal court threw out the acquittal and reinstated her and Mr Sollecito's guilty verdicts last year.

But Italy's highest court today overturned last year's convictions and declined to order another trial.

Ms Knox, who is now 27, awaited for the verdict in her hometown of Seattle. Her Italian former boyfriend Mr Sollecito, 30, had his travel documents seized while the court proceedings were ongoing.

The judges will release the reasons for their decision within 90 days after concluding that a conviction could not be supported by the evidence.

Kercher family lawyer Francesco Maresca said earlier this week: "The interest of the family is to arrive to the end of this trial. They want to be able to remember Meredith outside of the court room."

Ms Knox said last year she would become a "fugitive" if convicted and would have to be taken back "kicking and screaming" to Italy.

Last month, she announced her engagement to 27-year-old musician and school friend Colin Sutherland, who wrote to her while she was in jail.

Following the court's decision, Ms Knox's lawyer Carlo Dalla Vedova said: "Finished! It couldn't be better than this,"

Prosecutors claimed that Ms Kercher, a Leeds University Student, was the victim of a drug-fuelled sex game gone wrong.

But Ms Knox and Mr Sollecito consistently protested their innocence and claimed they were not in the apartment the night she died.

Rudy Guede, a drug dealer, is serving a 16-year sentence over the deat

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Ex-Yorkshire Marine Kosta laid to rest in private ceremony

The family of a former Royal Marine killed while fighting Islamic State in Syria have laid him to rest during a private ceremony this morning.

Erik Konstandious Scurfield, from Barnsley was buried after a funeral service in Nottingham.

The 25-year-old was the first UK national killed battling Islamic State in Syria.

Barnsley marine hailed 'national hero' by Kurds

There were emotional scenes at Manchester Airport today where hundreds of members of the Kurdish community from across the UK gathered to pay respects to a former marine from Barnsley.

Konstandinos Erik Scurfield, known as Kosta, became the first Briton to be killed fighting Islamic State and is being hailed a national hero by Kurds who say he died fighting for their freedom in Syria. Today they mobbed the hearse carrying his coffin and covered it in flowers as his body arrived back at Manchester Airpoirt. Chris Kiddey was there.

Emotional scenes as Kosta is brought home

There have been emotional scenes today as the body of the first Briton to be killed fighting against Islamic state was brought home.

Around 250 members of the Kurdish community threw flowers over the van carrying the body of Konstandinos Erik Scurfield away from Manchester airport.

The former Royal Marine's body had arrived on a flight from Istanbul. The 25-year-old was killed fighting in Syria. His mother said this week she was immensely proud of the sacrifice that he had made.

Kosta is regarded as a national hero by the Kurdish community here in Britain.

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