■ UK bans Boeing 737 Max planes amid Ethiopia crash fears
PASSENGER flights using Boeing’s 737 Max plane have been banned from operating in the UK amid safety concerns following the Ethiopian Airlines disaster, which killed 157 people including nine Britons.
The Civil Aviation Authority’s (CAA) ruling covers all commercial flights in UK airspace and will remain in place ‘until further notice’.
A CAA spokesman said: ‘The UK Civil Aviation Authority has been closely monitoring the situation, however, as we do not currently have sufficient information from the flight data recorder, we have as a precautionary measure issued instructions to stop any commercial passenger flights from any operator arriving, departing or overflying UK airspace.’
Tui Airways has the only five 737 Max 8 aircraft operated by a UK-based airline, and confirmed the planes have been grounded following the CAA’s decision, saying that its customers will ‘travel on holiday as planned on other aircraft’.
A number of countries and airlines around the world have also grounded 737 Max 8 aircraft, which was the model involved when Ethiopian Airlines flight ET302 crashed shortly after taking off from Addis Ababa on Sunday morning.
■ Air pollution ‘kills more people than smoking’
AIR pollution is a bigger global killer than smoking, a new study suggests, revealing that 8.8million deaths per year around the world can be attributed to dirty air — chiefly fine sooty particles pouring out of vehicle exhausts, factories and power plants.
The problem is thought to have caused 64,000 deaths in the UK in 2015, including 17,000 fatal cases of heart and artery disease. More than 29,000 other British deaths linked to air pollution were due to a range of conditions such as cancer, diabetes and chronic lung disease, with average life expectancy reduced by 1.5 years among people in the UK dying as a result of air pollution, according to a study.
However, Britons were not as badly affected as some of their European neighbours, including Germany where air pollution was said to have been responsible for an extra 124,000 deaths in 2015 and 2.4 years of lost life expectancy. During the same year an estimated 81,000 people were killed by air pollution in Italy, 67,000 in France and 58,000 in Poland.
Co-author professor Thomas Munzel, from the Mainz University Medical Centre in Germany, said: ‘To put this into perspective, this means that air pollution causes more extra deaths a year than tobacco smoking, which the World Health Organisation estimates was responsible for an extra 7.2 million deaths in 2015. Smoking is avoidable but air pollution is not.’
■ ‘IRA’ claim responsibility for explosive packages
A GROUP claiming to be the IRA has claimed responsibility for the four parcel bombs sent to major transport hubs in Britain last week, while revealing a fifth — sent to a British Army recruitment officer — may not have been discovered yet.
The claim was received yesterday by Belfast-based newspaper The Irish News using a recognised codeword.
The packages that arrived at Waterloo railway station and offices at Heathrow and London City airports on March 5 and 6 were posted with Irish stamps and had Dublin as the return address, prompting Irish police to join the investigation.
A spokesman from the Metropolitan Police said: ‘We continue to keep an open mind and inquiries continue. We are also aware that those claiming responsibility have indicated five devices were sent. At this time, only four devices have been recovered. We continue to urge the public to remain vigilant and report anything suspicious to police.’
■ Five officers convicted of physical abuse at detention centre
FIVE officers have been convicted of historical physical abuse on young prisoners at a detention centre following one of the UK’s biggest police investigations of its kind.
A series of trials at Teesside Crown Court saw jurors told much of the violence at Medomsley Detention Centre was ‘for the enjoyment of the officers’.
The jury heard how 72-year-old Christopher Onslow was in charge of physical training at the facility between 1975 and 1985, but ‘exploited his position of authority in a consistently sadistic and brutal fashion’.
One of his victims was climbing an obstacle course, but got stuck while around 20ft in the air, prompting the then-officer, nicknamed ‘The Machine’ to throw rocks at him until he fell backwards onto the ground. It was later discovered that the trainee had suffered three crushed vertebrae.
Onslow was convicted of two counts of misconduct in a public office, three of assault occasioning actual bodily harm, one of inflicting grievous bodily harm and one of wounding. His ex-colleagues, Brian Greenwell, 71, Kevin Blakely, 67, Alan Bramley, 70, and John McGee, 74, were all convicted of misconduct in a public office by assaulting and abusing prisoners
■ Human rights watchdog launches BBC probe over equal pay
THE Equality And Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has launched an investigation into ‘suspected past pay discrimination against women’ at the BBC, saying that after ‘looking at all of the information’ it suspects that ‘some women at the organisation have not received equal pay for equal work’.
In an announcement on the EHRC website, it said the broadcaster had voluntarily provided information regarding pay policies and practices, to help with its investigation, due to be completed by the end of the year.
Investigators will look at sample salaries dating back to January 1, 2016, to assess whether the pay differences at the BBC are ‘because of sex, whether it is direct sex discrimination or indirect sex discrimination’.
Members of the BBC Women group have welcomed the move, saying: ‘There are still hundreds of women trapped in prolonged equal pay grievances with little sign of resolution in line with equality law. Some grievances are still unresolved after two years. New complaints are lodged every week.
‘HR appears to have a policy never to use the words “equal pay” or apply the legal framework for assessing claims. We believe only a small number of cases have been settled, typically on the brink of legal action or going public. Even then, the BBC is extremely reluctant to admit to any sex discrimination. There is still a very long way for the BBC to go.’