Margaret Thatcher’s aversion to pandas revealed by declassified papers

Margaret Thatcher spurned the photo opportunity of sharing a transatlantic, Concorde flight to Washington with a giant panda, newly released files from the National Archives have revealed. The former prime minister’s aversion may have reflected a reluctance to imitate her predecessor, Ted Heath, who brought back pandas from China, dislike of manipulative political stunts or, …

We’re not the National Hangover Service, NHS boss warns revellers

The chief executive of NHS England has accused drunken revellers of being “frankly selfish” when they rely on the health service to help them and has indicated that more “drunk tanks” could be set up to keep intoxicated people out of overstretched accident and emergency wards. Simon Stevens said the rollout of drunk tanks, sometimes …

Police ‘not equipped’ to enforce new domestic abuse laws

Two years after new domestic abuse laws made “coercive or controlling behaviour” criminal offences for the first time police forces remain poorly trained and ill-equipped to deal with the new crimes, MPs and campaigners say. Latest official figures show that only eight out of 43 police forces across England and Wales have rolled out a …

Councils forced to fund emergency help for universal credit claimants

Cash-strapped councils are being forced to set aside extra resources to cushion the blow of switching to universal credit for vulnerable households, according to analysis by Labour. Responses to a series of freedom of information requests submitted by the party have revealed many local authorities are allocating significant funds to support tenants with rent arrears …

Treated ‘worse than animals’: thousands of Indian women feared trapped in ashrams

Neither the din of traffic nor the roar of aircraft from a nearby airport could blot out the screams neighbours say they regularly heard from the apartment building in west Delhi. On Saturday, on the second floor of the unassuming complex in Mohan Garden, authorities discovered 21 women and children living in a heavily fortified …

James Norton ‘got death threats’ after playing Happy Valley baddie

The actor James Norton has revealed that he received death threats after playing the villain in the BBC drama series Happy Valley and dismissed rumours that he could be the next James Bond as “mad”. Norton, who also starred in War & Peace and Grantchester, said his role as Tommy Lee Royce in Happy Valley …

‘Oh dear’: John Major’s mild-mannered notes on briefing papers revealed

“Trouble ahead!” has emerged as John Major’s favourite handwritten response to the contents of the Downing Street files that filled his red box every night as prime minister. While Margaret Thatcher regularly responded to proposals with “No, no , no!” underlined up to three times, Major’s responses were somewhat calmer. On a note proposing an …

Nazi war criminals in Spandau prison ‘could not sleep due to searchlights’

Nazi war criminals held in the infamous Spandau prison after the second world were treated “exceedingly harshly”, and could not sleep because of constant security searchlights, according to Konrad Adenauer, West Germany’s first postwar chancellor, in a letter released by the National Archives. Inmates at the Berlin jail – the running of which was shared …

Two men to appear in court charged with terrorism offences

Two men have been charged with terrorism offences by police who had been investigating a suspected attack plot. Andi Sami Star, 31, from Chesterfield, and a 22-year-old man from Sheffield have been charged with engaging in the preparation of an act of terrorism, West Yorkshire police said on Thursday. They are due to appear before …