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'Whistleblowers must be provided with proper support'

Whistleblowers must be given proper support so they have the courage to come forward, the chair of the Commons Public Accounts Committee has said.

Margaret Hodge revealed six out of 10 people would not speak out over fears of reprisals from bullying colleagues.

She told ITV News there must be tougher government sanctions against this so it does not have a detrimental effect on uncovering scandals in the future.

Ministers accused of 'failing whistleblowers'

Margaret Hodge is chair of the Commons Public Accounts Committee.
Margaret Hodge is chair of the Commons Public Accounts Committee. Credit: PA

Government ministers have been accused of failing to protect whistleblowers despite their role in exposing a series of major scandals.

The Commons Public Accounts Committee said the treatment of whistleblowers was often "shocking," with bullying and harassment from colleagues.

However, government departments were unable to say whether any action had been taken against their persecutors.

The committee highlighted the important role played by whistleblowers in uncovering the scandals at the Mid Staffs NHS hospital trust and policing of the Hillsborough football stadium tragedy.

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Nato: 'We will study' UK report on Russia threat

Nato has promised to study a parliamentary report which said that Russia's destabilisation of the Ukraine had exposed "serious deficiencies" in its preparedness to deal with a military threat from its former Cold War adversary.

Nato has promised to study a UK parliamentary report on Russia.
Nato has promised to study a UK parliamentary report on Russia. Credit: Reuters

Oana Lugescu, a spokesperson for the alliance said: “This is an important report and we will study it carefully."

She added that the 28 member states had already taken steps to reinforce collective defense with more planes in the air, more ships at sea, and more exercises on the ground, especially in eastern Europe.

At the Wales Summit in September, she said Nato leaders will adopt an action plan to reinforce the readiness of the alliance to ensure it is able to deal with all the threats it faces.

She added: "We are also considering reinforcement measures, the designation of bases and pre-positioning of equipment and supplies. We are reviewing our defence plans, threat assessments, intelligence-sharing arrangements and early-warning procedures."

EU formally adopts sanctions against Russia

Sanctions curbing arms sales to Russia and cutting off financing to some of the countries banks were formally adopted by the European Union today.

The EU flag
The 28 member states of the European Union formally adopted sanctions against Russia today. Credit: PA

Officials said the sanctions aim to inflict maximum pain on Russia and minimum pain on the 28 member states of the EU, but Russia denounced the sanctions as "destructive and short sighted."

Marina Litvinenko: I am not fighting with Russia

The widow of Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko has told ITV News she is "not fighting with Russia" in her battle to discover the circumstances surrounding his death.

Mr Litvinenko's family believes he was working for MI6 at the time of his death from radioactive poisoning and claim was killed on the orders of the Kremlin.

Speaking as a public inquiry into his death got underway, Marina Litvinenko said she "can't be calm until we realise who commited this crime".

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Poisoned spy's wife: 'Whole world will know the truth'

The widow of a Russian spy poisoned in London has said the "whole world" will know the truth about what happened to her husband as a public inquiry into his death formally opened.

Marina Litvinenko, the widow of Alexander Llitvinenko.
Marina Litvinenko, the widow of Alexander Llitvinenko. Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

Marina Litvinenko said outside the Royal Courts of Justice she was positive the inquiry into her husband Alexander's death would get under way in January next year.

Sir Robert Owen, chair of the inquiry, praised the widow in the hearing for her patience in the face of "highly regrettable" delays.

Ms Litvinenko said today was a "special" day and she was confident the inquiry will start on schedule.

"Everybody all around the world will know the truth," she added.

Read: Public inquiry into Russian spy death opens

Defence Secretary: Ukraine 'wake-up call' for Nato

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said that Nato was taking the threat posed by Russia seriously.

"What's happened in the Ukraine is very much a wake-up call which the Nato leaders will be discussing at their summit in a month's time here in the UK," he said.

Mr Fallon said that Britain was contributing Typhoon fighter jets to the Baltic policing mission along with other Nato members.

An RAF surveillance aircraft was also in the sky over Ukraine's eastern border with Russia, he added.

Read more: MPs say Nato is vulnerable to Russia's 'ambiguous warfare'

Public inquiry into Russian spy death to open

A public inquiry into the death of spy Alexander Litvinenko - who was poisoned with radioactive polonium-210 - will be formally opened today.

Alexander Litvinenko died after drinking tea laced with polonium.
Alexander Litvinenko died after drinking tea laced with polonium. Credit: PA

The current inquest into the Russian spy's death will be suspended by coroner Sir Robert Owen before the inquiry is opened.

The 43-year-old fled to Britain in 2000 and was poisoned six years later while drinking tea with two Russian men, one a former KGB officer, at the Millennium Hotel in London's Grosvenor Square.

Mr Litvinenko's family believes he was working for MI6 at the time he was killed on the orders of the Kremlin.

Home Secretary Theresa May announced the inquiry last week after the Government had previously insisted it would "wait and see" what a judge-led inquest found.

Nato summit 'perfect place' for UK to urge Russia action

The Nato summit in Wales this September is "the perfect place" for the UK to urge allied forces to step up their response to military aggression from Russia, a member of the defence committee said.

Labour's Gisela Stuart admitted "state on state action was unlikely" but urged Nato to be ready to respond to threats like cyber attacks, "which may be coming from countries like Russia."

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