■ Westminster security boosted after MPs harassed
POLICE are to step up their operation around parliament in the run up to next week’s Brexit deal vote after MPs were subjected to intimidation and harassment just yards from the Commons.
Dep Ass Comm Laurence Taylor said Scotland Yard would be ‘enhancing the policing presence’ after MP Anna Soubry was branded a Nazi by a mob during television interviews and then followed to the Palace of Westminster.
The Commons Speaker demanded police tackle the ‘aggressive, threatening and intimidating behaviour’ towards politicians and journalists outside parliament.
In his letter to Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick, John Bercow hit out at ‘toxic attacks’ and called for officers to intervene when protesters overstepped the boundaries of peaceful protest.
The prime minister’s official spokesman said today that the cabinet had agreed that the abuse Ms Soubry suffered was ‘disgraceful and unacceptable’.
■ Skripals’ former home ‘to be dismantled’
THE home of a former Russian spy is to be dismantled, with the roof completely removed by military teams in the wake of the novichok attack as decontamination work continues.
Everything will be wrapped and sealed before being removed from the site as the clean-up operation gathers pace after a Christmas hiatus.
Wiltshire Council has written to neighbours of Sergei and Yulia Skripal, warning them of the disruption the deep clean and construction work — expected to take up to four months — will cause.
Detectives believe the pair first came into contact with the poison when it was sprayed on the door handle of their property in Christie Miller Road, Salisbury.
■ Salmond calls for top civil servant to quit after ‘humiliation’ in court
FORMER first minister Alex Salmond has called on Scotland’s top civil servant to quit her post after accusing her of ‘wasting’ hundreds of thousands of pounds of public money defending the administration’s ‘unlawful’ handling of sexual misconduct allegations against him.
The former SNP leader took legal action against the Scottish government that he once led, to contest the complaints process activated against him.
A four-day hearing into the case was due to be held next week at the Court of Session in Edinburgh.
But today, Judge Lord Pentland ruled that the Scottish government’s actions were ‘unlawful in respect that they were procedurally unfair and that they were tainted with apparent bias’.
The court had heard the person who investigated the two complaints of sexual misconduct — which Mr Salmond strongly denies — had involvement with the complainers prior to being appointed investigating officer.
Outside the court, Mr Salmond said he hoped Leslie Evans, the permanent secretary to the Scottish government, would step down, adding: ‘I’m obviously glad, delighted, by the result today.’
■ Aldi and Lidl continue to eat into takings of ‘big four’
CHALLENGERS Aldi and Lidl continued to put pressure on the ‘big four’ supermarkets over Christmas, new market share data shows.
Two-thirds of households shopped at one of the discounters over the 12 weeks to December 30, according to Kantar Worldpanel, giving them a combined 12.8 per cent slice of the market.
This was the highest-ever Christmas market share for the retailers, with Aldi’s sales up 10.4 per cent and Lidl up 9.4 per cent.
Meanwhile, Asda came out top of the big four grocers with a 0.7 per cent rise in sales, while Sainsbury’s was the weakest of the pack with a 0.4 per cent decline.
Tesco sales were 0.6 per cent higher and Morrisons notched up 0.1 per cent growth.