China executes British national accused of drug trafficking

A British man convicted of drug smuggling in China has been executed, the Foreign Office has confirmed.

Akmal Shaikh, 53, of London, had denied any wrongdoing and his family said he was mentally ill.

The execution took place despite repeated calls from his family and the British government for clemency.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said he was appalled and condemned the execution “in the strongest terms”.

Mr Shaikh is the first EU national to be executed in China in 50 years.


Far-right leader denies being Nazi on BBC show

A handful of anti-fascist demonstrators broke into the BBC’s television headquarters but they could not prevent British far-right leader Nick Griffin from taking part in a much publicised political debate.

The British National Party chief and MEP said he had been misquoted over his beliefs:
“I have been relentlessly attacked and demonised over the last few days. The fact is that my father was in the RAF (Royal Air Force) during the Second World War. I am not a Nazi, I never have been,” he said.

Some in the studio audience challenged him. One man said: “You poison the minds of people in this country. The vast majority of this audience find what you stand for to be completely disgusting.”

The BNP leader said European law prevented him from explaining past comments questioning the Holocaust, a claim that brought derision from others in the studio.

After the show, other panellists said his credibility had been damaged and his extremism exposed.

Griffin accused the hundreds of protesters outside the building of attacking the rights of millions to hear his views.

The BBC’s decision to invite the head of the anti-immigration British National Party onto the show has polarised opinion in the country.

Iran: Britain denies role in guards attack

Britain’s foreign minister has categorically denied Britain had anything to do with the suicide attack on Iran’s Revolutionary Guards yesterday.

America and Pakistan have also denied accusations they helped the Sunni rebel Jundollah movement carry out the bombing, which killed two of the Guard’s senior commanders and 40 others.

Several senior Iranian figures have said the Iranian security services had proof of foreign involvement, with President Ahmadinejad accusing Pakistan, but today he called instead on Islamabad for closer co-operation in dealing with terrorism, which he called their “common enemy”.

The Jundoullah group is based in the province of Sistan-Baluchistan on the Afghan frontier and it has been mounting increasingly spectacular attacks against the regime in Tehran for a number of years.

Iran says group members are given safe haven in Pakistan and it is sending a delegation to demand the extradition of its leader, Abdolmalek Righi.

Iran executed 13 group members in July.

Three British men guilty of aircraft bomb plot

Three British citizens have been found guilty of plotting to kill thousands of people by blowing up transatlantic aircraft in mid flight.

Abdulla Ahmed Ali, 28, Tanvir Hussain, 28, and Assad Sarwar, 29, were convicted at Woolwich Crown Court.

Bombs containing liquid explosives were to have been used in the suicide attacks. Four other men were found not guilty of the plot.

The bombers had intended to destroy at least seven airliners simultaneously, as they flew between London and the US and Canada. Each of the planes would carry an average of 250 passengers.

The conspirators were arrested following the biggest surveillance operation carried out by British police. Prosecutors say the explosives were to have been hidden in soft drinks bottles.

The suspected al Qaeda plot led to tight worldwide restrictions on the amount of liquids passengers could take on board flights.

Brown warns against G20 “complacency”

Brown warns against G20 “complacency”

UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown

Britain says the world’s economies must stick together against the recession, saying faint signs of recovery could lead to complacency. Prime Minister Gordon Brown told G20 finance ministers in London that emergency stimulus measures must stay in place despite what appears to be a gradual improvement from the worst downturn in 60 years.

There is general agreement on maintaining economic life-support, but divisions have arisen over reforming the banks.

“We cannot accept a return to the past ways of governance,” said Brown. “Specifically, pay and bonuses cannot reward failure or encourage unacceptable risk-taking. It is offensive to the general public whose tax payers’ money, in different ways, has helped banks from collapsing and is now underpinning their recovery.”

Bank reform is expected to dominate this G20 meeting. Washington has proposed tightening bank capital requirements to curb risky lending, but Paris and Berlin prefer restricting pay and bonuses to prevent the excesses which encourage such risks and sparked the recession. President Sarkozy has even called for a global bank tax, but Britain and America are firmly against that.

G20 policymakers prepare for summit

G20 policymakers are promising to keep economic support packages in place.

They will also seek to reassure financial markets with credible plans to withdraw stimulus packages when appropriate.

The meeting in London has already attracted protesters linked to various pressure groups like War on Want.

Their message? They’ve had enough of governments saying money is king. They want people to come first.

Representatives from Brazil, China, Russia and India are meeting in the sidelines ahead of the main gathering.

The world’s economy has improved since the last summit in April. But not by much and policymakers are cautious about declaring victory.

Brown denies cover-up over Lockerbie bomber

Gordon Brown says Scotland came under no pressure to free the Lockerbie bomber as part of a trade deal.

The British prime minister says the release of Abdel Basset al-Megrahi, who’s now reportedly in intensive care dying from cancer, was entirely up to Scotland.

Official documents show Britain didn’t want to damage ties with Libya but Brown denies there was a cover-up.

“On our part, there was no conspiracy, no cover-up, no double-dealing, no deal on oil, no attempt to instruct Scottish ministers, no private assurances by me to Colonel Gaddafi. We were absolutely clear throughout with the Libyans and everyone else that this was a decision for the Scottish government,” he said.

But Brown’s denial has failed to convince the leader of the opposition Conservatives who says al-Megrahi should not have been released.

“On the one hand Gordon Brown has completely refuse to give his opinion on the release of this mass murderer. But on the other hand was content for the Libyans to be told that he shouldn’t die in prison, that is double dealing,” said David Cameron.

Megrahi was freed on compassionate grounds last month, eight years into his life sentence for his part in the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie in 1988. A total of 270 people died.

But the decision of the SNP minority-led government has also been roundly condemned by the Scottish parliament which voted to censure the move.

Only in Libya, it seems, is the outcome viewed as positive.

Film of his return was used by Colonel Muammar Gaddafi on Tuesday to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the revolution which saw him become Libya’s leader