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Iran plane crash: Tributes to three British nationals killed

Mohammed Reza Kadkhoda Zadeh, Sam Zokaei and Saeed Tahmasebi

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Mohammed Reza Kadkhoda Zadeh, Sam Zokaei and Saeed Tahmasebi were all on board

Tributes have been paid to three British nationals who died when a Ukrainian plane crashed in Iran.

Mohammed Reza Kadkhoda Zadeh, who owned a dry cleaners, BP engineer Sam Zokaei and PhD student and engineer Saeed Tahmasebi were all on board the flight.

They were among the 176 people from seven countries who died in the crash.

Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752 crashed just after taking off from Imam Khomeini airport at 06:12 local time (02:42 GMT).

The airline said the plane underwent scheduled maintenance on Monday.

A Downing Street spokesman said the UK was “working closely with the Ukrainian authorities and the Iranian authorities” over the crash, and there was “no indication” the plane was brought down by a missile.

As well as the three Britons, the victims in the crash included 82 Iranians, 63 Canadians, 11 Ukrainians – including all of the crew, 10 Swedes, four Afghans and three Germans, Ukraine foreign affairs minister Vadym Prystaiko said.

Rescue teams have been sent to the crash site but the head of Iran’s Red Crescent told state media that it was “impossible” for anyone to have survived the crash.

Tributes were paid locally to Mr Kadkhoda Zadeh, 40, who ran a neighbourhood dry cleaners in Hassocks, West Sussex, and had a nine-year-old daughter.

Steve Edgington from the pet shop next door said he had known Mr Kadkhoda Zadeh for 14 years, and described him as a lovely, hardworking man who was good at his job and loved by staff.

Savvas Savvidis, 36, who rented a room in Mr Kadkhoda Zadeh’s home in Brighton, said he was a “super-nice person”.

“It’s so sad. Before he left we had a conversation, he told me that he spent all his life working, working really hard, and now finally he wants to start to enjoy life a bit more.”

Mr Savvidis described Mr Kadkhoda Zadeh as a humble man who loved his daughter very much.

The dry cleaners closed on Wednesday, with neighbouring businesses telling the BBC that staff were too upset to stay open.

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A sign on the window of Mr Kadkhoda Zadeh’s dry cleaners in Hassocks

Meanwhile, in a statement, BP said “with the deepest regret” that its employee Mr Zokaei, 42, from Twickenham, was among the passengers.

Mr Zokaei had been on holiday. He had worked for BP for 14 years and was based at the company’s site in Sunbury-on-Thames in Middlesex.

“We are shocked and deeply saddened by this tragic loss of our friend and colleague and all of our thoughts are with his family and friends,” BP said.

A friend of Mr Zokaei, who did not wish to be named, told the BBC they were “still in shock”.

“He was a highly accomplished person. Very clever and very friendly. Always smiling and full of positive energy. He will be sorely missed.

“He was always trying new adventures. He cycled and toured Europe on bikes a few times. He also loved travelling to interesting far out places.”

Also killed was Mr Tahmasebi, 35, who worked as an engineer for Laing O’Rourke in Dartford.

Last year, Mr Tahmasebi married his Iranian partner, Niloufar Ebrahim, who was also named as having died in the crash.

“Everyone here is shocked and saddened by this very tragic news,” said Laing O’Rourke.

“Saeed was a popular and well respected engineer and will be missed by many of his colleagues. Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this most difficult time and we will do all we can to support them through it.”

‘Humble and generous’

Mr Tahmasebi – whose full name was Saeed Tahmasebi Khademasadi – was also a part-time PhD student at Imperial College London’s Centre for Systems Engineering and Innovation.

A spokeswoman for the university said: “We are deeply saddened at this tragic news. Saeed Tahmasebi Khademasadi was a brilliant engineer with a bright future.

“His contributions to systems engineering earned respect from everyone who dealt with him and will benefit society for years to come.

“He was a warm, humble and generous colleague and close friend to many in our community. Our thoughts and sincere condolences are with Saeed’s family, friends and colleagues, as well as all those affected by this tragedy.”

At Prime Minister’s Questions earlier, Boris Johnson and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn both said their thoughts were with the families of those killed.

A UK Foreign Office spokesman has said: “We are deeply saddened by the loss of life in the plane crash in Iran overnight.”

They said it was “urgently seeking confirmation” about how many British nationals were on board and would be supporting any families affected.

Melinda Simmons, British ambassador to Ukraine, said her thoughts are with those affected.

Ukraine’s state aviation service has forbidden its national airlines from using Iranian airspace from Thursday, with the restrictions in place until an investigation into the cause of the crash has concluded.

Ukraine’s embassy in Tehran and Iranian state television both initially said technical issues caused the crash.

But the embassy later removed this statement and said any comment regarding the cause of the accident prior to a commission’s inquiry was not official.

Ukraine said its entire civilian aviation fleet would be checked for airworthiness and criminal proceedings would be opened into the disaster.

The country’s president warned against “speculation or unchecked theories regarding the catastrophe” until official reports were ready.

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Flowers were laid outside the Canadian embassy in Kiev in remembrance of the 63 Canadians on board the flight

Ukrainian International Airlines said the flight disappeared from radar just a “few minutes” after take-off.

The Ukrainian national carrier said according to preliminary data there were 167 passengers and nine crew members on board but its staff were “clarifying the exact number”.

“The airline expresses its deepest condolences to the families of the victims of the air crash and will do everything possible to support the relatives of the victims,” a statement said.

The airline, which is investigating the crash, said the aircraft – a Boeing 737-800 – was built in 2016 and had its last scheduled maintenance on Monday.

There was no sign of any problems with the plane before take-off and the airline’s president said it had an “excellent, reliable crew”.

A statement from Boeing said its “heartfelt thoughts” were with all those affected following the “tragic event”.

There are several thousand Boeing 737-800s in operation around the world which have completed tens of millions of flights. They have been involved in 10 incidents, including this crash, where at least one passenger was killed, aviation safety analyst Todd Curtis told the BBC.

This is the first time a Ukraine International Airlines plane has been involved in a fatal crash.

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Brighton 1-1 Chelsea: Jahanbakhsh’s stunning effort earns Seagulls point

Alireza Jahanbakhsh has scored two goals in his last two games for Brighton, having failed to find the net in his first 26 for the club in all competitions

Alireza Jahanbakhsh said he has started 2020 “in the best way possible” after his spectacular overhead kick earned Brighton an unlikely point against Chelsea at the Amex Stadium.

The Iranian substitute, who scored his first goal for the club on Saturday, brought the home support to their feet in the 84th minute with an early contender for goal of the month.

“When I was about to go on, I had a feeling I could have an impact on the game,” he told Match of the Day.

“When I saw the ball, I just tried to hit it as hard as I could and the bicycle kick was the only option. I’m going to watch it a couple more times.

“It has been a really tough time for me. I have been training well and working hard to get my chance. Luckily, it has gone the way I wanted.

“2019 didn’t go as well as I wanted. I tried to end the year as well as I could and I’ve started 2020 in the best way possible.”

Cesar Azpilicueta gave the Blues the lead with his third goal of the season when he fired in from close range after Tammy Abraham’s shot was blocked by Aaron Mooy.

‘Courage, effort & quality’ – Potter on Brighton draw

Brighton’s attacking threat was largely nullified by Chelsea’s defence, although aside from the goals they produced the clearest chances – both thwarted by the brilliance of keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga.

The Spaniard produced a one-handed stop to deny Aaron Connolly and then saved Neal Maupay’s low drive with his feet.

The point extends fourth-placed Chelsea’s advantage over Manchester United in fifth to five points. Brighton move up a place to 13th, above Burnley on goal difference.

Big blow for Lampard’s side

Cesar Azpilicueta has scored three goals in his past 11 games in all competitions, as many as in his previous 118

This result is another setback for Frank Lampard and his side, who looked assured of an eighth league win on the road this season.

Prior to Jahanbakhsh’s goal his defence had suffocated Brighton’s attack.

Having been accused of being sloppy at times this season, Kurt Zouma, Antonio Rudiger, Reece James and skipper Azpilicueta were at their dogged best – rarely allowing an opposition ball to find its way into the six-yard area.

Brighton & Hove Albion 1-1 Chelsea: We didn’t take our chances – Lampard

Youth graduate James shone the brightest, and manager Lampard has a potential diamond. Aside from providing support for his centre-backs, the 20-year-old was exceptional as an attacking force down the right.

Brighton’s Dan Burn will not want to face him too soon having left the pitch with a fractured collarbone in the 22nd minute following a collision with the England Under-21 player.

The Blues, however, were as poor as Brighton in attack, and keeper Mat Ryan had less to do than his opposite number. The only time he was called into action in the second half was to make a routine low save from Christian Pulisic.

Jahanbakhsh steals the headlines again

Tears of joy to a look a disbelief – what a week it has been for Jahanbakhsh.

A lack of first-team opportunities had frustrated the Iranian since he made a £17m move from AZ Alkmaar in July 2018, so the outpouring of emotion when he opened his Brighton account against Bournemouth last weekend came as no surprise.

Manager Graham Potter did not reward the 26-year-old winger with another start, but having watched his other attackers fail to make much of a dent in the Chelsea defence he threw on Jahanbakhsh in the 68th minute.

Connolly came close to beating Arrizabalaga with a low drive before Jahanbakhsh tried the more unconventional method and, with his back to goal, he found the Chelsea bottom right with a superb acrobatic effort.

Man of the match – Reece James (Chelsea)

Reece James (left) regained possession 11 times – more than any other player from his side

‘Lack of consistency is a concern’ – reaction

Chelsea boss Frank Lampard: “It was frustrating for different reasons.

“In the first half, the game was there to be won. We weren’t ruthless enough. We got the goal and we had the possession, but we just didn’t kill the game off.

“We allowed them to stay in the game. In the end it was a wonder goal but we were lucky not to lose the game.

“In the end, the tactics matched up for both teams but they were better than us. We have to take that on the chin.

“[The lack of consistency] is a concern. It’s something we absolutely have to look at.

“We have to look at the game today. It’s a point, but I’m not happy with the performance.”

Brighton manager Graham Potter: “I thought our play was really brave and we got our reward.

“Everyone is delighted for Jahanbakhsh. He’s worked so hard and waited so long, and to have his freshness off the bench was the thinking and he popped up with a great strike.

“He’s had to be patient, but he’s got qualities and he’s getting his reward.

“I’m really proud of the performance. We need to carry that forward and get some more points.”

Brighton’s super subs – the stats

  • Brighton earned their first ever point in a league game against Chelsea in what was their 10th match against them.
  • This was Chelsea’s first away Premier League draw this season – the Blues had won seven and lost three of their 10 previous games on the road this term.
  • Chelsea have scored more goals in 11 Premier League away games this season (25) than they managed on the road in the whole of 2018-19 (24).
  • Azpilicueta has scored three goals in his last 11 games in all competitions for Chelsea, as many as he had in his previous 118.
  • Jahanbakhsh became the fifth different Brighton player to score a Premier League goal as a substitute this season, more than any other side in the competition.
  • Despite only coming on as a 68th-minute substitute, no Brighton player had more shots (three) or created more chances (three) than goalscorer Jahanbakhsh.

What’s next?

Brighton are at home to Sheffield Wednesday in the FA Cup on Saturday (15:01 GMT) and the following day Chelsea host Nottingham Forest in the competition (14:01 GMT).



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London’s City Hall provides Christmas meals for homeless

Sadiq Khan hands out food

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Sadiq Khan helped serve 100 Christmas Dinners to guests at City Hall

Christmas dinners have been served to Londoners who are reliant on the city’s homelessness services.

Hairdressers and opticians were also made available at City Hall before guests were given a three-course meal.

Last year, 8,855 people were seen rough sleeping in London, an 18% increase since last year, and more than double the number in 2010.

“Events like this help bring a sense of community back in to London,” Claire, a former rough sleeper, told the BBC.

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Claire said she had been “looking forward” to the Christmas Dinner

Claire, who spent 30 years either living on the streets or in prison, said: “It’s the type of event that does matter. It forms partnerships and builds bonds.

“If it wasn’t for the support of St Mungo’s, I’d either be dead or doing what I was before.”

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Guests were treated to rendition of carols by the London International Gospel Choir

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Around 100 people who use London’s homeless services were invited to City Hall

Guests were chosen from the thousands of Londoners that currently receive assistance from services funded by City Hall and delivered by charities St Mungo’s and Thames Reach.

But Claire said services were still “hit and miss”.

“Where I live I’m still waiting for support with my mental health,” she added.

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Sadiq Khan said “it is shameful that in one of the richest cities in the world we still have the levels rough sleeping that we do”

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Guests were given a three-course Christmas Dinner

Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “St Mungo’s and Thames Reach are struggling with finances.

“Since I became mayor we’ve more than doubled the amount of money we’ve spent on rough sleeping and the size of our outreach team.

“But we’re just scratching the surface. We’ve not got the money or the resources to do much more – as it is I’m criticised for going outside my remit and my power.

“It is both heartbreaking and shameful that in one of the richest cities in the world we still have the levels rough sleeping that we do.”

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Free opticians services were put on by charity Humanity First

Last year 15,470 people were accepted as being homeless by London councils.

There were 55,000 families living in temporary accommodation, such as bed and breakfasts and hostels.

Hundreds more people are estimated to be sleeping on London’s night buses.

Petra Salva, Director of Rough Sleeper Services at St Mungo’s, said: “It’s wonderful that the Mayor has opened the doors of City Hall for this festive event.

“Christmas can be a time of mixed emotions for clients in our services and our staff work hard to support those who stay with us over the holiday period.”

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John Downey ‘active participant’ in Hyde Park bombing

John Downey

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John Downey had denied any involvement

John Downey was an “active participant” in the IRA bombing at Hyde Park in 1982 which killed four soldiers, the High Court has ruled in a civil court case.

A daughter of one of the bomb victims took civil legal action against Mr Downey after the criminal prosecution collapsed almost six years ago.

Wednesday’s ruling paves the way for a damages claim to be made against him.

Mark Tipper, who lost his brother in the bomb, said the victims’ families had finally got “justice and closure”.

His 19-year-old brother Trooper Simon Tipper died alongside Squadron Quartermaster Corporal Roy Bright, Lt Anthony Daly and L/Cpl Jeffrey Young, who was from Tonyrefail in south Wales.

As well as killing the four Household Cavalry soldiers, the explosion injured 31 people.

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Media caption‘The forgotten victims are finally remembered’

Fingerprint evidence

Mrs Justice Yip told the court she was satisfied Mr Downey was “an active participant” in a carefully planned attack.

The judgement was made in London following a civil action brought by L/Cpl Jeffrey Young’s daughter, Sarah-Jane Young.

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Mark Tipper (far left) and Sarah-Jane Young (far right) were among victims’ relatives at the hearing

It followed the collapse of Mr Downey’s murder trial in February 2014, when it emerged he had a guarantee against prosecution issued by the government, known as an on-the-run letter.

Announcing her conclusions in London, the judge said: “This was a deliberate, carefully planned attack on members of the military.

“I have found that the defendant was an active participant in the concerted plan to detonate the bomb, with the intent to kill or at least to cause serious harm to members of the Household Cavalry.”

During evidence, the court heard 67-year-old Mr Downey’s fingerprints were found on two car park tickets connected to the vehicle used in the attack.

Packed with nails

They were handed in at payment booths in the days and hours leading up to the bombing on 20 July 1982.

The bomb was packed with nails and was detonated by remote control as Household Cavalry soldiers made their way to the Changing of the Guard in Whitehall.

Mr Downey was convicted of IRA membership by an Irish court in the 1970s.

He is currently remanded in custody in Northern Ireland charged with the murders of two Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) soldiers in Enniskillen in 1972.

Speaking outside the court after the ruling, Sarah-Jane Young’s solicitor Matthew Jury said justice had finally prevailed 37 years after the killings.

He said: “Sarah-Jane Young and the families here today were told that they would never get justice, that they should put the past behind them and move on.

“They, and thousands whose lives were devastated by the IRA, are the forgotten victims.

“Yesterday, many responsible for the most awful acts of terrorism on British soil were living out their days in peaceful retirement, believing they would never been held to account for their crimes, but justice has prevailed.”

Mr Jury said the families wanted to tell other IRA victims that “no matter how many years have passed, justice can and will and must be done”.

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Four Household Cavalry soldiers died in the IRA’s Hyde Park bomb attack as they rode to the Changing of Guard ceremony in Whitehall

‘Pain’

Mark Tipper told the BBC the past few years had been “difficult” for the victims families since the criminal case was dismissed.

He said: “Today, the families have finally found what we’ve always wanted, which is justice and closure.

“No-one can know how much pain has been suffered over the past 37 years by all of the four families, plus the other boys who were injured that day.

“It’s been a long time and it’s taken its toll on the families.”

Mr Downey, from County Donegal in the Republic of Ireland, did not play any part in the trial but filed a written defence denying any involvement in the attack.

The case will now progress to a second stage to determine the amount of damages to be awarded.

Who are the “on-the-runs”?

The Northern Ireland Good Friday Agreement of 1998 meant anyone convicted of paramilitary crimes was eligible for early release.

However, that did not cover those suspected of such crimes, nor did it cover people who had been charged or convicted but who had escaped from prison.

Negotiations continued after the signing of the agreement between Sinn Féin and the government over how to deal with those known as “on-the-runs”.

Sinn Féin sought a scheme that would allow escaped prisoners and those who were concerned they might be arrested to return to the UK but a formal legal solution proved difficult to establish in the face of strong unionist opposition.

Against that backdrop, the IRA had still not put its weapons beyond use and Sinn Féin needed grassroots republicans to continue supporting the peace process.

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Fulham handed disorderly conduct charge after penalty protests against Bristol City

Fulham felt they should have been given a penalty when Neeskens Kebano went down in injury time

Fulham have been charged with failing to ensure their players conducted themselves in an orderly fashion during their 2-1 Championship loss to Bristol City on Saturday.

The Cottagers felt Neeskens Kebano was fouled in the box in the 93rd minute, but referee Jeremy Simpson did not award a penalty.

It led to heated exchanges with Stefan Johansen and Tom Cairney being booked.

Fulham have until Friday (13 December) to respond to the charge.

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Joseph McCann: Rape accused ‘will not give evidence’

Joseph McCann

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Joseph McCann’s barrister told the Old Bailey he has “declined to come” to court

A man on trial accused of a string of sex offences has declined to come to court and chosen not to give evidence.

Joseph McCann, 34, is accused of 37 offences, including rape, kidnap and false imprisonment, against 11 women and children over the course of two weeks in April and May.

Mr McCann was expected to show up at the Old Bailey on Monday, having opted not to attend before.

But on Wednesday defence barrister Jo Sidhu QC said he “declined to come”.

Mr Justice Edis said: “His absence from the trial is not evidence in the case. You must not infer from his absence that he is guilty of these offences.

“His decision not to give evidence is a separate matter and I will come to that later.”

Jurors were also told they must consider the case “in an objective, calm way”.

The judge said: “I gave you a warning that you would have an emotional reaction in this case and there is no doubt that warning turned out to be right in respect of some of what you listened to in the case.

“It was also intended to remind you and to direct you that an emotional reaction to material is unlikely to be a helpful guide to your decision-making when you come to decide the case.”

Mr McCann, of Harrow, west London, denies the charges against him.

The trial continues.

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Jaden Moodie: Boy, 14, ‘killed by rival gang in frenzied attack’

Jaden Moodie

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Jaden Moodie was stabbed to death in London on 8 January

A 14-year-old boy was knocked off a moped and then stabbed to death by a rival gang in a “violent and frenzied” attack, a court has heard.

Jaden Moodie was allegedly dealing drugs for a gang when he was targeted by a group of five men on 8 January.

Ayoub Majdouline was in a stolen Mercedes which was driven at the victim, causing him to be “catapulted” over the bonnet, the Old Bailey heard.

The 19-year-old, of London, denies murder and possession of a knife.

Prosecutor Oliver Glasgow QC told jurors the five men in the car had armed themselves with knives and had gone to “great lengths” to hide their faces.

“On finding Jaden Moodie, the Mercedes drove straight towards the moped, swerving onto the same side of the road so that it struck Jaden Moodie head on,” he said.

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The 14-year-old was allegedly dealing drugs for a gang when he was targeted by a group of five men

He told the court the victim “did not stand a chance” and his crash helmet had come off when he was struck.

Three men then got out of the car and “repeatedly” stabbed the 14-year-old in a “violent and frenzied attack”, as he lay “defenceless and seriously injured” on the ground, the court was told.

“Fourteen seconds was all it took,” Mr Glasgow added.

Jaden was found with nine stab wounds and bled to death in the road, the jury heard.

‘Petty rivalries’

Members of the victim’s family gasped and cried out as CCTV footage of the attack was played to the jury.

The prosecutor said the images showed the killers had “no qualms about playing out their petty rivalries using the blade of a knife”.

The Mercedes was abandoned in a quiet cul-de-sac, while a knife and a pair of yellow rubber gloves were thrown away and recovered from a nearby drain the next day, the court was told.

Mr Glasgow said the 14-year-old’s blood and traces of the defendant’s DNA were found on both.

Burnt clothing belonging to Jaden’s attackers was also found in a churchyard, the court was told.

Mr Majdouline disputes playing any part in the attack.

The trial continues.

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Tottenham: Jose Mourinho appointed after Mauricio Pochettino sacked

Jose Mourinho: Watch the new Tottenham head coach’s classic moments

Jose Mourinho has been appointed Tottenham manager after the sacking of Mauricio Pochettino on Tuesday.

Former Chelsea and Manchester United boss Mourinho has signed a contract until the end of the 2022-23 season.

“The quality in both the squad and the academy excites me,” said the 56-year-old Portuguese. “Working with these players is what has attracted me.”

Spurs chairman Daniel Levy said: “In Jose we have one of the most successful managers in football.”

Tottenham will be the third Premier League club managed by Jose Mourinho

Tottenham reached the Champions League final last season under Pochettino, but lost 2-0 to Liverpool in Madrid.

The Argentine, who was appointed in May 2014, did not win a trophy in his time in charge of the north London club, with Spurs’ last silverware being the League Cup in 2008.

Levy said Mourinho has “a wealth of experience, can inspire teams and is a great tactician”.

“He has won honours at every club he has coached,” he added. “We believe he will bring energy and belief to the dressing room.”

Mourinho still has a home in London and won three Premier League titles – in 2005, 2006 and 2015 – as well as one FA Cup in two spells at Chelsea.

Having taken over at Manchester United in May 2016, he won the Europa League and Carabao Cup with them in 2017.

Mourinho was sacked by the Old Trafford club in December 2018, with the club 19 points behind league leaders Liverpool, and had not managed another side before joining Spurs.

He has also previously managed Portuguese side Porto, where he won the Champions League in 2004.

At Italian club Inter Milan, Mourinho won a league, cup and Champions League treble in 2010 and was named Fifa’s world coach of the year, while he led Spanish team Real Madrid to the La Liga title in 2012.

He takes over a Spurs side that are without a win in their past five games and have slipped to 14th in the Premier League, 20 points behind leaders Liverpool after just 12 matches.

Tottenham Hotspur Supporters’ Trust had said “many fans thought Poch had earned the right” to try to turn around the side’s form and that “there are questions that must be asked of the board”.

Following Mourinho’s appointment, it said it had “concerns about how Jose and our club’s executive board will work together”.

It added: “The club must ensure it does not find itself in the same position in two or three years’ time, and we need to hear from the executive board what the long-term thinking behind this appointment is.”

Mourinho’s first match in charge is a trip to West Ham United on Saturday (12:30 GMT kick-off).

Spurs go to Manchester United on 4 December, and host another of Mourinho’s former teams – Chelsea – on 22 December.

Mourinho has turned down a number of managerial opportunities, including in China, Spain and Portugal, since leaving Old Trafford.

Mourinho’s Man Utd ups and downs

Analysis

BBC sports editor Dan Roan

Spurs have never hired a manager as expensive or demanding as Mourinho, nor spent the kind of money on players that he became accustomed to at clubs such as Real Madrid and Manchester United.

But Spurs have come a long way in recent years under Pochettino. They have a new £1bn stadium and training ground, and spent four successive seasons in the Champions League.

They now have a European pedigree, and a hugely talented squad.

Mourinho has been out of the game for almost a year but retained a home in London.

His tribulations at Manchester United saw him lose his ‘Special One’ status, but his many achievements in the game still command widespread respect.



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‘Angry pig’ hinders water pipe repairs and causes train disruption

Broken water main

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Network Rail

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The water main burst beside the railway track in Surbiton, south-west London

An “angry pig” confronted engineers in a London street, delaying their repair of a burst water main before it was led away with a bag of crisps.

The pipe burst on Lamberts Road, Surbiton, damaging nearby railway equipment, which caused train delays.

Thames Water said their efforts to reach a valve to cut the water were initially hindered by “a large pig” which was “acting aggressively”.

It is not known what flavour crisps were used to lead it away.

Damage caused by the flooding of tracks and signalling equipment meant limited trains have been able to run along the line.

Disruption is currently expected to last until 16:00 GMT although Network Rail said engineers were carrying out inspections.

Thames Water said engineers “were quickly on site” to deal with the burst 120cm (48 in) pipe, but they had been unable to initially carry out the work because of the pig, which is thought to be someone’s pet.

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Extinction Rebellion: High Court rules London protest ban unlawful

Extinction Rebellion protest in Oxford Circus

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A police ban on Extinction Rebellion protests in London last month was unlawful, High Court judges have ruled.

The Metropolitan Police imposed the ban, which prevented two or more people from the group taking part in protests, under the Public Order Act.

But judges have ruled that police had no power to do this because the law did not cover “separate assemblies”.

Activists say the police could now face claims for false imprisonment from “potentially hundreds” of protesters.

The Met said it would “carefully consider” the ruling.

The protests cost £24m to police and led to 1,828 arrests, with 165 people charged with offences, the Met says.

During the court hearing, the force had argued that the ban was the only way to tackle widespread disruption.

Announcing their judgement, however, Lord Justice Dingemans and Mr Justice Chamberlain ruled in favour of Extinction Rebellion.

Lord Justice Dingemans said: “Separate gatherings, separated both in time and by many miles, even if co-ordinated under the umbrella of one body, are not a public assembly within the meaning of… the Act.

“The XR [Extinction Rebellion] autumn uprising intended to be held from October 14 to 19 was not therefore a public assembly… therefore the decision to impose the condition was unlawful because there was no power to impose it under… the Act.”

The judges noted that there are powers within that act which may be used lawfully to “control future protests which are deliberately designed to ‘take police resources to breaking point”‘.

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Green Party peer Jenny Jones (centre) was among those to bring the successful legal challenge to court

During 10 days of climate change protests last month, activists shut down areas around Parliament and the Bank of England, and targeted London City Airport.

Police had previously warned protesters to keep demonstrations in Trafalgar Square, or risk arrest – before issuing a city-wide ban on 14 October, under Section 14 of the Public Order Act.

The court was told that the ban was issued on the same day as a message posted online by London activists.

It told protesters to adopt the “be water” tactics used by demonstrators in Hong Kong.

“Be water, crowds split up into fast moving groups and pairs, that network via phones,” it said.

“You gather at particular spots in large numbers, until the police response building then you move to a new disruptive site.”

The ban was lifted four days later, with officers saying that it was no longer necessary because demonstrations had ended.

Analysis

BBC home affairs correspondent Daniel Sandford

This was a radical tactic adopted by the Metropolitan Police on 14 October – banning all future Extinction Rebellion protests across London for several days.

But it has backfired. No police force likes to have their actions described as “unlawful”.

Today’s High Court ruling takes away from officers the ability to impose a city-wide ban of future protests, which means demonstrators wanting to be “like water” – where they split into fast-moving groups – will be difficult to control if they are trying to disrupt a whole city.

So police will have to deal with what is in front of them.

If a specific protest in a specific place gets out of hand they will be able to close it down, but it will have to be a decision made by an officer on the spot, and not by someone sitting in a police station worrying about what protests may happen the next day.

Responding to Wednesday’s ruling, Extinction Rebellion UK tweeted “we won’t be silenced”.

Green Party peer Jenny Jones – who was among those to bring the legal challenge – described the ruling as “historic” and criticised ministers for speaking out in favour of the ban.

Met Assistant Commissioner Nick Ephgrave said the decision to impose the ban had been “reasonable and proportionate” and “was not taken lightly”.

He added that the police “would not and cannot ban protest” and that the ruling was made specifically on whether officers could arrest demonstrators for assembling in central London.

“There is no criticism from me of the decision to impose the condition, which was made with good intent and based upon the circumstances confronting the command team at the time,” he said.

“It did in fact result in the reduction of the disruption. Nevertheless, this case highlights that policing demonstrations like these, within the existing legal framework, can be challenging.”

What does Extinction Rebellion want?

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Extinction Rebellion’s legal victory follows two weeks of protests in the UK last month.

The group (XR for short) wants governments to declare a “climate and ecological emergency” and take immediate action to address climate change.

It describes itself as an international “non-violent civil disobedience activist movement”.

Launched in 2018, organisers say it has groups willing to take action in dozens of countries.

It uses an hourglass inside a circle as its logo, to represent time running out for many species.

Read the full article here.



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