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LondonNet News Headlines

LondonNet Archive:
London News Headlines from April 2004
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MI5 Take Terrorist Advice Online
- New site offers commentary on attack-risk to UK

MI5 have let it be known they think "the threat from international terrorism remains real and serious."

Not exactly an earth-shattering assessment but one which appears in public for the first time on the British Secret Service's new-style website. The site, say its backers, is designed to provide the public with the latest information on the risk of terrorist attacks in this country.

The danger is that in pumping out a series of bland warnings already covered in greater depth by the media, MI5 will stand accused of merely playing the PR game and even of needlessly increasing the fear of terrorism.

To counter such an attitude, the MI5 site provides what it call detailed security advice for businesses and other organisations responsible for other people.

euro-Mall to Open off Carnaby Street
- European currency accepted in all 31 shops of new development

CARNABY STREET and its surrounding area has seen a lot of redevelopment in recent years to turn it into a cosmopolitan shopping zone, a process which goes a step further tomorrow when 31 shops at Kingly Court will accept euros as well as pounds.

"Carnaby Street is a cosmopolitan area that attracts a lot of tourists," said a spokesperson for property developer Shaftesbury, which owns parts of the area. "We want to cater for them."

Kingly Court's euro-mall is likely to add to the upmarket feel that's been created in the area over the past half-decade with designers like John Richmond, Pam Hogg and Jean Paul Gaultier all taking advantage of the new shop spaces that have been made available.

Some London tourist experts see the Kingly Court scheme as a glimpse of the future when the vast majority of central London shops will take euros, whether or not the UK central government ditches the pound in favour of the continental currency.

Welcome Party for New EU Countries
- Blair to host London leg of pan-European celebrations

IT'S PARTY time for Tony Blair today as the Prime Minister hosts a celebratory event for the new entrants to the EU.

On Saturday, 1st of May, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia join the European Union. Blair's shindig is the first of many events to be held across Europe in the coming days, the centrepiece being a get-together for leaders of all the EU's 25 countries, new and old, at Dublin on the weekend.

As part of the London leg of the celebrations, Blair has invited a variety of showbiz stars to give the historic moment some colour. Roger Waters, the former Pink Floyd front man, has composed a song for the occasion.

The idea of the events is partly to emphasise the positive aspects of European enlargement, a political process that has seen its fair share of
problems in recent months as fears of immigration have been stoked by some British politicians and newspapers. Blair announced earlier this week that people moving from the new countries to Britain would only be entitled to social housing if they found a job first.

Jerry Springs Back Over the Atlantic
- Opera based on TV show set for 2005 transfer to Broadway

HARVEY KEITEL, Kevin Kline and the man himself are all being tipped to take the leading role in Jerry Springer - The Opera when the award winning show goes to Broadway next year.

In the West End version of the opera based on Springer's nuts 'n' sluts TV talk show, Michael Brandon has made the part his own and there is some talk of him switching to New York when the play opens there in October 2005.

Whoever gets the gig, the transfer is seen as a big risk by some critics, who fear American audiences might not be as tolerant as British ones of the show's bad language and blasphemy.

"Either it will be the most enormous hit or audiences will walk out in horror," said Jon Thoday, producer of Jerry Springer - The Opera. "We are not compromising the production one iota - the content and lyrics will remain the same."

The show has made history by taking the best musical gong at the Critics' Circle Awards, the Evening Standard Awards, the Olivier Awards and the What's On Stage Awards.

Arsenal Crowned Premier League Champions
- Tens of thousands celebrate as gunners clinch title at Tottenham

ON A FOREIGN field that is forever Tottenham, Arsenal Football Club yesterday clinched the Premier League title, the top prize available in the domestic game.

A 2-2 draw was enough for the Gunners as their two nearest rivals for the title, Chelsea and Manchester United had already lost over the weekend, leaving Arsenal's points total impregnable.

"We've been remarkably consistent, haven't lost a game and we have played stylish football. We have entertained people who just love football," said Arsenal coach Arsene Wenger. For once in football, this was not hyperbole but a simple statement of fact. Many impartial observers think this Arsenal side is the best English side in history.

Tens of thousands of Arsenal fans celebrated in the streets and pubs of north London last night, though not those parts of north London populated by Tottenham followers, who had hoped their side would at least dent their bitter derby opponents' unbeaten record.

Also last night, Arsenal striker Thierry Henry collected the Player of the Year award for his extraordinary goal scoring exploits that have been instrumental in guiding the Gunners to the Premiership crown.

London Dances to St George's Tune
- Celebrations on the rise for dragon slayer

FRIDAY is St George's Day. For many years the commemorative date of England's patron saint has raised hardly an eyebrow but things are starting to change.

This year the official events, the first of their kind, are small scale but are likely to be the acorns from which proud English oak trees will emerge. Covent Garden sees a special Morris Dancing display on the piazza while the Globe theatre is having an open day - by a neat historical coincidence, St George's day is also Shakespeare's birthday.

"The theme of St George's Day will be to highlight some of the unique cultural gifts that England, and London in particular, have brought to the
world," said London Mayor Ken Livingstone.

Elsewhere, pubs and restaurants have adopted St George's Day as their latest marketing wheeze in imitation of St Patrick's Day and Burns Night.
In the future, all these events are likely to increase in size, partly from a sense of unfairness felt by many English people at what they see as the preference given to cultural events celebrating other cultures and partly from the money-making angle.

Spencer 'Disgusted' By Dying Diana Broadcast
- Brother slams CBS for decision to show pictures

PRINCESS DIANA'S family have reacted with fury to the broadcast on American TV station CBS of pictures showing Diana as she lay dying in a crashed car.

Lord Spencer, Diana's brother, said he was "shocked and disgusted" at the decision to show the pictures. Spencer is famous for partly blaming the paparazzi for Diana's death-crash, in which her Mercedes is thought by some to have been chased by photographers on motorbikes.

"It will be painful, painful for William and Harry," said Dickie Arbiter, a former royal aide. "They're going to have to live with this sort of thing for the rest of their lives."

Mohamed Al Fayed, whose son Dodi also died in the Paris crash, said: "CBS obviously doesn't care about the appalling effect of showing images of murder victims. They simply want to cash in on the tragedy. It is disgraceful and insensitive of them to do this. It is devastating for me and for Prince William and Prince Harry."

CBS backed its documentary in the 60 Minutes show. "These photocopies are placed in journalistic context - an examination of the medical treatment given to Princess Diana just after the crash - and are in no way graphic or exploitative," a CBS spokesperson said. British newspapers and broadcasters have declined to show the pictures.

Rocket Man Flies Into Record Books
- London Jet-pack effort jumps 152 feet

AS PEOPLE mourned the death of one of the founders of the Guinness Book of Records, London was host to a new attempt at a world best.

Eric Scott launched himself 152ft (43m) into the air over Stoke Newington, north London, via a rocket-powered pack attached to his body.
"I am the first one in the books for the record," Scott said, a view which is likely to be backed up by the famous book's officials. "We are waiting to get all the evidence from them, but I can see no reason why this won't be a record," said David Hawkett, of the Guinness Book of Records.

The jet-pack record comes in the week Norris McWhirter died of a heart attack aged 70 on Monday. Norris and twin brother Ross started the book in 1955. It later became a worldwide phenomenon and was turned into a TV series.


Royal Festival Hall Gets Facelift
- New auditorium and extra space in UKP70 million revamp

THE long-awaited refurbishment of the Royal Festival Hall is to begin with an announcement today of plans that will also revamp a keys section of the South Bank.

Arguments about the extent of the changes to the famous arts venue have raged for a decade or more but at last a UKP70 million scheme has been rubber-stamped that will include a newly fashioned main auditorium.

The exterior of the RFH, now 53 years old, is also to be given a facelift and there is to a new building constructed at the southern end of Hungerford Bridge.

The work is to start in a year's time and is scheduled to be completed by early 2007.

Third Good Day at The Office for Gervais
- Bafta hat-trick for comedian on the night of two award ceremonies

RICKY GERVAIS and Greg Dyke were the stars of last night's Bafta TV awards, held at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London.

Gervais won a Bafta for his performance in sitcom The Office, which he also co-wrote, for the third year in a row while Dyke won the respect of the audience which gave him a huge ovation in recognition of his years in charge of the BBC.

Meanwhile, over in Lucerne, Switzerland, last night's Golden Rose TV awards saw success for Little Britain stars Matt Lucas and David Walliams, who also won at the Baftas for Best Comedy Programme.

Another programme to win in both awards events was Wife Swap in the best reality TV and best feature categories.


Lambs Sent to Bureaucratic Slaughter
- More woe for the Criminal Records Bureau

BRITAIN'S Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) has wrongly fingered 193 people as villains, according to the BBC.

The Bureau is already under attack for its rising costs, which are currently UKP150 million over budget, but this is the first time its accuracy has been questioned in such a way.

Out of the 193 unfortunate and innocent souls, many have been placed on criminal files because they share a name with real bad guys while others have had their identities stole or copied by the forces of darkness.

In its defence the Home Office, which is in charge of the CRB, said it handles at least two and a half million checks a year, so the 193 represents only a tiny percentage of error.

Second Becks' Woman is 'Telling Lies'
- But the other one sticks to her story

DAVID BECKHAM is on course for a one-all draw in his battle with the media over allegations he has been unfaithful to wife Posh Spice.

Sarah Marbeck, the second of the women to have had her allegations plastered all over the tabloids, has been labelled a liar by a former boss but the first, Rebecca Loos, is to go on TV to back up her story.

"She is telling lies and everyone is going for Beckham and making out he was with her but he was never with her. She told me that," said David Wade, Marbeck's ex-boss at the Miss Fleiss escort agency in Sydney. Wade and others have confirmed Marbeck was employed as a whore at the time she is
supposed to have slept with the England football captain.

Meanwhile, Loos is to appear on TV tonight to confirm her own status as a Beckham conquest. "People are calling me a liar and calling me names and, you know, at the end of the day these are the facts," Loos says in the taped programme.

Council Blocks MTV Takeover of Leicester Square
- Now public inquiry to decide fate of famous open space

MTV goes up against Westminster Council today in a bout to be decided by public inquiry.

In one corner stands the mighty cable music channel which wants to film and broadcast its Total Request Live show five days a week from Leicester Square.

In the other corner the local council, who have already turned down MTV's scheme at an earlier stage of the planning process and who are worried about "large uninvited crowds" thronging the famous square.

Though that line of objection seems a bit strange given the fact Leicester Square's is usually prey to uninvited crowds, it is true that it is more famous for its connections to the movie world rather than for music. Maybe
MTV would do better to find a different site to turn into music central.

Travel Chaos Follows Easter Break
- Commuters face severe delays following repair overruns

LONDON's weary commuters faced more delays as Easter weekend repairs to the rail and tube networks overran.

In a repeat of the chaotic scenes following the Christmas and New Year break earlier this year, transport chiefs had to again admit their projects were a tad too ambitious. And once more it was a broken down crane at Clapham Junction that caused some of the worst delays to the overground network.

On the tube the Jubilee line re-opened late as night maintainance work failed to finish on time. Services between Stanmore and Wembley Park were effected.

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