Brown forced to repay cleaning and gardening bills

Euronews-Britain’s Prime Minister Gordon Brown has returned to parliament after the summer recess to face a personal expenses re-payment bill of around 12 thousand euros.

He is said to have over claimed on cleaning and gardening costs.

He is one of dozens of MPs who have received letters from Thomas Legg – the man appointed by Brown to rewrite the spending rules in an effort to quell public outrage over alleged misuse of tax payers’ money.

The Conservative opposition leader, David Cameron is also facing questions.
“Everyone should respond to these letters, respond to these inquiries being made and of course, at the end of this process, then everyone will have to comply with what the authorities are asking,” said Cameron.

Details of MPs claims which were leaked to a newspaper earlier this year revealed how numerous politicians made in appropriate demands.

Although most of the claims were made according to the rules at the time, UK voter anger over what they saw as apparent greed has forced MPs to show contrition and pay up or face further investigation.

Cameron sets his stall out for election run in

Britain’s conservative opposition leader has outlined his vision for the country in his last party conference speech before a general election.

euronews channel-David Cameron enjoys a healthy lead in opinion polls with a maximum of eight months left until voting day.

He promised to reduce Britain’s spiralling public debt by shrinking the role of the state.

He told his party conference in Manchester:

“We will need to confront Britain’s culture of irresponsibility and that will be tough for many people. We will have to tear down Labour’s big government bureaucracy, ripping up its time-wasting, money-draining, responsibility-sapping nonsense.”

Cameron remained vague on what he would do if the EU’s Lisbon Treaty came into force before an election but indicated he wanted a smaller role for Brussels in British politics.

“Well here is a progressive reform plan for Europe: let us work together on the things where the EU can really help, like combatting climate change, fighting global poverty and spreading free and fair trade. But let us return to democratic and accountable politics those powers the EU should not have,” he said.

William Hague, who would be Cameron’s Foreign Secretary in government, earlier made the case for a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty but without clarifying what would happen if the treaty was already in place.

With election victory at stake, Cameron is keen to keep the eurosceptics in his party firmly on his side.

Posters inflame minaret debate in Switzerland

Posters inflame minaret debate in SwitzerlandA poster which critics say incites hatred of Muslims is provoking intense debate in Switzerland.

It is part of a campaign supported by the anti-immigration Popular Party to ban the building of minarets, the towers from which Muslims are called to prayer.

The move will be put to a nationwide vote at the end of November. A federal anti-racism body has condemned the poster and some cities have banned it.

There were mixed views in Geneva. One man said:
“I support banning this kind of poster. They just stir up trouble in the coutry.”

Another said: “We’re a democracy, I don’t think a ban is necessary. But people have to use their intelligence and see what’s behind the message.”

“Is it normal to ban a poster during an election campaign?” a woman was asked. She answered: “If it goes beyond acceptable limits, yes.”

Reflecting the division on the streets some cities have banned the image while others have not, claiming that would curtail free speech.

At the moment polls suggest the move against the construction of minarets will be defeated. But there is a large number of undecided voters so the vote could be close.

Expenses scandal hits Irish Speaker

euronews channel-The speaker of Ireland’s parliament John O’Donoghue is to resign over an expenses scandal.
Since taking office as Speaker in June, 2007, his foreign travel expenses have risen to 90,000 euros.
O’Donoghue says he’ll hand in his resignation next week.

A member of the governing Fianna Fail party, he also spent more than half a million euros on travel while Tourism Minister between 2002 and 2007.

O’Donoghue has been the subject of revelations by some Irish newspapers in recent weeks. It was disclosed that his ministerial expenses included a limousine between terminals at London’s Heathrow airport, while a stay in a Paris hotel cost 1,000 euros a night. He also courted controversy by employing ten people in his office, seven more than his predecessor

Radioactive fears after shipwreck is found off Italy

A secret shipwreck found off Italy’s southern coast has set alarm bells ringing.

Far from containing hidden treasure, the cargo on board the vessel is thought to consist of toxic, possibly nuclear material. And the suspicion is that it may have been sunk by the local Mafia, paid by authorities to take waste off their hands.

A former mobster indicated where the wreck would be found off Cetraro, on the Calabrian coast.

Regional environmental official Silvio Greco said the aim now is to establish what is inside the ship and whether it is toxic. He evoked the possible existence of other vessels, as indicated by ex Mafia members.

Questions are being asked about whether local deaths over recent years could be linked to the potentially dangerous load left underwater.

While investigators still have much work to do before the nuclear and Mafia claims can be confirmed, the fact the wreck was never declared has only strengthened suspicions.

Radioactive fears after shipwreck is found off Italy

A secret shipwreck found off Italy’s southern coast has set alarm bells ringing.

Far from containing hidden treasure, the cargo on board the vessel is thought to consist of toxic, possibly nuclear material. And the suspicion is that it may have been sunk by the local Mafia, paid by authorities to take waste off their hands.

A former mobster indicated where the wreck would be found off Cetraro, on the Calabrian coast.

Regional environmental official Silvio Greco said the aim now is to establish what is inside the ship and whether it is toxic. He evoked the possible existence of other vessels, as indicated by ex Mafia members.

Questions are being asked about whether local deaths over recent years could be linked to the potentially dangerous load left underwater.

While investigators still have much work to do before the nuclear and Mafia claims can be confirmed, the fact the wreck was never declared has only strengthened suspicions.

Berlusconi hit by more damaging headlines

Silvio Berlusconi is the focus of new, damaging media reports.

Two respected Italian newspapers – Corriere della Sera and La Stampa – have published new allegations of sex scandals.

In the latest in a series of claims, it is alleged that some 30 women attended close to 20 parties hosted by the prime minister and some were paid to have sex with guests.

There is rising speculation about whether Berlusconi will survive the scandals, but many doubt he will be forced to resign.

One woman in Rome said: “I don’t think this means the end of Berlusconi and it wouldn’t be fair if it did.”

A man said: “This is a troubling time in politics, and personal situations are now often used to damage politicians, on the right and the left. I think in private everyone is free to do what they want.”

Another woman said: “I don’t really care, but I think it’s pure gossip and rubbish.”

But the Italian media says Berlusconi has lost support among Catholic voters and even some of his allies confirm there is speculation about the start of his decline.

The latest claims come from leaked evidence from a court case in southern Italy, where lurid allegations about sex and wild parties involving Berlusconi have emerged.

The prime minister has denied that he has ever paid for sex, and claims his critics are fueling the damaging headlines that have dogged him for months.