Michael Gove has told BBC 1's Andrew Marr Show: "I think it's wrong to claim that this government if favouring one group of individuals over another in public appointments."
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The tree, which suffered previous wind damage in 2011, was made famous through the classic 1994 jailbreak film starring Morgan Freeman.
The British Muslim convert insisted he is not "currently" a fighter in Syria.
The four people who were all related were killed on the A64 near Malton as they returned from a wedding in Leeds.