Live updates

NHS calls for young black Londoners to give blood and save lives

A new campaign is being launched to encourage young black Londoners to give blood and save lives. Currently half the country's black population lives in the country- and NHS Blood and Transport wants to recruit 7000 new black donors by 2020.

NHSBT aim to recruit 7,000 new black donors by 2020 Credit: PA

The black community makes up around 5% of the UK population - with about half living in London - but active black donors currently account for only 1% of blood donors. *

·NHSBT collects 1.8 million units of blood each year from over 23,000 blood donation sessions in more than 3,000 venues

Rarer blood groupsinclude B+, Ro and RoR which are more common and more in-demand among black communities.

Female blood donors can give blood every 16 weeks, while male blood donors must wait 12 weeks between donations. Platelets can be donated every 2 weeks.

Inquest into death of doctor who died in Syria enters its second day

The inquest into the death of a London doctor who died in a Syrian prison last December enters its second day today. Abbas Khan -- who was from Streatham -- was being held by the Syrian government when he died.

Dr Abbas Khan's mother Fatima outside court yesterday Credit: ITN

His family has always mantained he was murdered- while the authorities insist he took his own life. Yesterday his mother Fatima collapsed in court as she gave evidence. The inquest at the Royal Courts of Justice is set to last three weeks.

Advertisement

Mother gives evidence at Abbas Khan inquest

Fatima Khan, mother of Dr Abbas Khan, at a service in honour of him in 2013 Credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA Archive

The mother of a south London doctor found dead in a cell in Syria in 2013 has been giving evidence at his inquest.

Fatima Khan told the jury that in July last year she went to Syria to rescue her son and visited a number of embassies, ministries and prisons to try to find out where he was. Some of the buildings she went to were shaken by bomb blasts and vans she travelled in came under sniper fire.

She said: "I felt scared, but my son was here so I had to be brave."

She would kiss the shoes of the officials she met and beg them to help her. At the end of that month, she saw her son at the Court of Terrorism.

She told the hearing: "I hugged him. He was a skeleton. He was in tears. I said, 'Look, mummy is here for you'. He said, 'Sorry, I shouldn't have come here, please take me home'. "His hands were cold as if he was fasting. They were full of black marks and one nail was missing as if someone had taken it off. His feet were completely burnt. "I said, 'What's all this?'. He said, 'This is nothing, I have suffered more than this'."

She said she threw herself at the judge's feet and begged for mercy but he said there were allegations against her son, who was taken away in chains and then transferred to a civilian prison.

Mrs Khan said that when she visited him there at the end of August, he said the conditions were much better.

He said the previous prison was "like Hell" with seven prisoners sharing an eight feet square cell 24 hours a day.

He said he was beaten up by other inmates and interrogated by five men who beat him with rubber hoses, leaving him with open wounds which became infected.

Jury to consider whether doctor was "unlawfully killed"

Dr Abbas Khan who died in custody in Damascus Credit: Khan family photo

The coroner at in inquest into the death of a doctor from south London said Dr Abbas Khan, aged 32, was found "allegedly hanged" while in custody in Damascus on 16th December 2013.

He told the jury they would hear evidence that he was a "family man", and also a "respected" medical man.

He added: "It is clear that he wanted to use his medical skills to help others, and that included helping others in conflict-torn Syria."

The coroner said "things went wrong" on 22nd November 2012. Dr Khan, who was working in a hospital, went out for a walk when he was detained and "was never a free man again".

Just over a year later Dr Khan was found dead, he said.

"During that period of a year while in custody his family made superhuman efforts to try to get him released. In particular, his mother Fatima was extraordinarily persistent."

The coroner said the main issues for the jury to consider after hearing all the evidence were likely to be - did Dr Khan take his own life, or was he "forced in some way by his captors to take his own life against his will", or was he "unlawfully killed" by his captors.

Family made 'superhuman' efforts to free doctor

Fatima Khan, second from the right, mother of Dr Abbas Khan, at a service for her son in 2013 Credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA Archive

The family of a British doctor who died in a prison in Syria made "superhuman" efforts to secure his release, the jury at his inquest has been told.

The panel of seven men and four women heard from a coroner today of the steps the family took in the hope of winning freedom for orthopaedic surgeon Abbas Khan.

At the start of an inquest, set to last around three weeks at the Royal Courts of Justice in central London, chief coroner Judge Peter Thornton told jurors that the medic's mother Fatima in particular had been "extraordinarily persistent".

Dr Khan, a father of two from London, died while being held in custody by Syrian government officials last December.

He was captured in the city of Aleppo in November 2012 after travelling from Turkey to help victims of hospital bombings.

His family claim he was murdered while being held. The Syrian government has always maintained Dr Khan killed himself and that he was found hanging in a jail cell.

  1. National

Cameron: You are in our thoughts and prayers

A hand-written note at the bottom of the Prime Minister's letter to Mrs Fatima Khan says "You are in our thoughts and prayers".

The letter, dated December 20, calls Dr Khan's death a "sickening and appalling tragedy" and adds that "it is right that the Syrian regime should answer for it".

Read the full letter here

Advertisement

  1. National

British surgeon's sister: PM vowed to help 'get answers'

The sister of the British surgeon Dr Abbas Khan who died in Syria said that the Prime Minister has sent the family letters.

Sara Khan told ITV News that David Cameron said "he is now going to help us get answers but nothing has actually been said as to how they expect to do this and when".

  1. National

Scotland Yard 'actively involved' in British doctor's case

Scotland Yard is to be involved in the post-mortem process surrounding the death of British doctor Abbas Khan, the family's solicitor has said, after his body was flown back to the UK.

Nabeel Sheikh issued a statement which read:

The family are relieved that his body has been repatriated. Dr Khan is being transported by ambulance to the Coroner's Court in Walthamstow for the purposes of a post-mortem.

The Home Office is organising the process but, as a matter of course, Scotland Yard is actively involved given the circumstances surrounding Dr Khan's death are highly suspicious.

  1. National

Independent post mortem of British surgeon expected

The family of British surgeon Abbas Khan have employed an independent pathologist to oversee the post mortem on his body following his death in a Damascus prison.

Nabeen Sheik, a lawyer for the family said the results of the post mortem were expected tomorrow.

The body of Dr Khan was returned to the UK today.

Load more updates