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Four sacked after student loans firm stamp fraud inquiry

Four people have been sacked from the Student Loans Company and a further two have resigned following an inquiry into alleged stamp fraud at a call centre.

The investigation looked at claims that unfranked stamps were peeled off mail sent to the loans company's Darlington offices and reused or sold.

Some stamps were sold on eBay with one rare and unfranked example fetching over £1,500, according to the Northern Echo.

A spokesman said: "The Student Loans Company is currently investigating a number of alleged incidents of theft at its Darlington office.

"We can confirm that some members of staff involved in these incidents have now left the company. We are taking this matter very seriously and are continuing our investigations."

'Pink pigeon' sightings puzzle in the North East

There have been several sightings of the mysterious pink bird in the North East in the past day Credit: North News

Sightings of a mysterious pink bird have puzzled locals in the North East this week.

The bird has been spotted by several passers-by attempting to blend in among pigeons, but its true breed has remained in doubt - spouting much speculation.

However, Nik Shelton of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), believes the pink plumage can be easily explained.

"The bird has clearly been dyed," he said.

"It is likely to be a captive dove and we have had reports of these being dyed strange colours and released at special events.

"This one has clearly not returned to its owner afterwards," Mr Shelton added.

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Three held after 80-year-old woman found dead

A murder investigation was under way tonight after an 80-year-old woman was found dead in a house in Haughton Road, Darlington yesterday afternoon.

Three men aged 44, 40 and 33 were arrested after the discovery of a elderly woman's body.

A team of 40 detectives were working on the case, Durham Police said. A post-mortem examination will take place later.

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