NEWS
13/12/2019 20:14 GMT

Five UK Stories You Might Have Missed Because Of The General Election

The world outside of Westminster has continued to turn – even if it doesn't feel like it.

From party manifestos to overwhelming majorities, the headlines of the past 24(ish) hours have more or less revolved around one thing and one thing only – the general election.

And perhaps rightly so. The nation has just seen its political landscape shift to an extent unseen for decades, and the questions about where the results leave us are only just beginning to emerge. 

But while it might have felt as though the world was revolving around Westminster, dozens of other stories that have nothing to do with No.10 were unfolding. 

Here’s a quick guide to five important UK stories you might have missed. 

1. Uber appealed against TfL’s decision to strip its London licence

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A file image of a woman ordering a cab by mobile app

As the country reeled in the wake of the general election result, Uber submitted an appeal against Transport for London’s decision to strip its operating rights in London. 

The Silicon Valley-based company’s move initiated a potentially lengthy legal process during which it can continue to take rides.

Last month, Transport for London (TfL) refused to grant the Silicon Valley-based company a new licence due to what it called a “pattern of failures” on safety and security – the latest stage of a long-running battle with the authorities.

Uber, which was also denied a licence by TfL in 2017 before a judge restored it on a probationary basis, said it had changed its business model over the last two years and would go further, as it lodged its appeal at Westminster Magistrates’ Court.

“We are committed to Londoners and are working closely with TfL to address their concerns and requests, as we have since 2017,” said the firm’s Northern and Eastern Europe boss Jamie Heywood.

TfL declined to comment.

The firm’s roughly 45,000 drivers in London will still be able to take rides until the appeals process is exhausted, which could take months or even years.

 

2. Every A&E missed its waiting room targets for the first time

Phil Fisk via Getty Images
Waiting lists for planned procedures were at an all-time high. 

Not a single A&E department hit the four-hour target for seeing patients, new figures released on Friday show.

Data from NHS England reveal just 81.4% of A&E patients were seen within four hours in November – the worst figure on record, and set against a target of 95%.

There were 88,923 patients waiting more than four hours between a decision to admit and a hospital admission, 64% higher than the same month last year when it was 54,373. Of these, 1,112 patients waited more than 12 hours compared with 258 in November 2018, a 331% rise.

The data also revealed that the number of people on waiting lists for treatments such as knee and hip replacements had hit its highest ever level of 4.45m in October. 

Just 84.7% of patients are starting treatment within 18 weeks against a target of 92%.

Targets on how long people should wait for cancer treatment also continue to be missed.

An NHS spokesperson said that the figures showed that teams were providing a “record-breaking” level of care, against a backdrop of norovirus and flu having a much greater impact than the previous year. 

An NHS spokesperson said: “These figures show that NHS teams across the country are providing a record-breaking level of care to the increasing numbers of people, at a time when norovirus and flu is having a greater impact on local services than last year.”

Niall Dickson, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said: “These figures show an NHS on its knees and it is no wonder that most leaders predict that this winter will be the worst on record.

“More and more patients are turning up at emergency departments and there is a limit as to how many they can cope with.

“Frontline staff are working themselves into the ground but with the current level of vacancies, and ever rising demand, there is only so much they can do.

“We need our newly elected government to get to work now with new services in the community that will relieve the pressure on hospitals, as well as action on staffing, social care and capital investment.”

 

3. Primary school children in Liverpool were not allowed to leave school without an adult after shots were fired

PA Archive/PA Images
Shots were fired into a takeaway on Thursday night. 

A primary school in Liverpool warned parents not to send their children in alone after a gunman opened fire on a takeaway on Thursday night. 

A huge police presence descended on Townfield Close, in the Prenton area of the city, after emergency services received reports of a gun being discharged from a car at a customer inside a nearby takeaway at around 8.25pm.

A spokesperson from Merseyside Police said the front window of the shop was damaged in a manner “consistent with a firearms discharge”, but there have not yet been any reports of injuries. 

Following the incident, a teacher from the nearby Townfield Primary School issued a warning to parents not to send their children into school alone, and also said pupils would not be allowed to leave the premises without an adult. 

In a statement to parents online, the teacher wrote said it was “very frightening that this happened in the community”, but advised that the school would remain open as usual. 

“We will not be releasing any children at the end of the day without an adult to collect them,” they added. 

Police have asked anyone who witnessed the incident on Thursday, or who may have dashcam or CCTV footage from the area, to contact them on Twitter at @MerPolCC, by calling 101 and quoting ref. 0868 of December 12, or calling Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

4. A woman who spent £16m in Harrods is fighting the UK’s first ever unexplained wealth order

PA Wire/PA Images
Zamira Hajiyeva arrives at Westminster Magistrates' Court.

A woman who spent £16m in Harrods is seeking to overturn the nation’s first unexplained wealth order (UWO) at the court of appeal after her “fat cat international banker” husband was convicted in Azerbaijan. 

Zamira Hajiyeva – who spent the huge sum over the course of a decade – is attempting to overturn a UWO obtained by the National Crime Agency (NCA) against a property in Knightsbridge, central London, which was purchased for £11.5m in 2009 by a company incorporated in the British Virgin Islands.

Her husband, Jahangir Hajiyev, was the chair of the state-controlled International Bank of Azerbaijan for 14 years – until his resignation in 2015 –  and was later sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment for fraud and embezzlement.

But Zamira, 56, argues that her husband’s conviction was a “flagrant denial of justice”.

Hajiyeva was the first person ever to be made subject to a UWO, which essentially allowed the NCA to seize assets if their owner is believed to be a  “politically exposed person” (PEP) – someone from outside the European Economic Area in a position of power that makes them liable to bribery or corruption – and they are unable to explain the source of their wealth.

But Hajiyev’s lawyer argued that her husband was not a PEP, adding that the NCA had “seriously mischaracterised” Hajiyev’s job by describing him as a “government official”.

However Jonathan Hall QC, for the NCA, said Hajiyeva’s interpretation of the law was “unsustainable”.

It didn’t stop there – Hall also submitted “fresh evidence” showing Hajiyeva was “under investigation in Azerbaijan for fraudulently spending significant sums on air tickets, jewellery, tuition fees, beauty products, restaurants and hotels”.

In a High Court ruling in October, dismissing Hajiyeva’s attempt to overturn the UWO, Justice Supperstone said three separate loyalty cards had been issued to Hajiyeva by Harrods, and it was revealed in court documents that she had once blow £600,000 in a single day. 

The NCA then seized jewellery worth more than £400,000 from Christie’s after questions were raised about how the items were purchased, while the auction house was valuing the jewellery for Hajiyeva’s daughter.

Hajiyeva’s UWO case was heard by Lord Chief Justice, Lord Burnett – sitting with Lord Justice Davis and Lord Justice Simon – and judgment was reserved. 

5. British teenager accused of lying about rape forced to remain in Cyprus over Christmas

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The teenager has been accused of lying about being gang raped whilst on a working holiday in July. 

A 19-year-old British woman on trial in Cyprus who is accused of lying about being gang raped there has been told she must remain on the island over Christmas. 

The teenager is charged with “public mischief” for allegedly falsely claiming she was attacked by up to 12 Israeli tourists in an Ayia Napa hotel on July 17.

She insists she was raped but pressured by Cypriot police to make a retraction statement 10 days later.

The teenager had hoped a verdict would be delivered after the judge heard closing arguments at Famagusta District Court in Paralimni on Thursday, but the case was adjourned until December 30. 

Michael Polak, a lawyer from the Justice Abroad group, which is assisting the teenager, said in a statement: “We were particularly surprised that it will take two-and-a-half weeks for the court to deliver its verdict, especially given the assurances provided in court that proceedings would be finished last week.

“This means that the teenager, who is not allowed to leave Cyprus, will miss Christmas with her friends and family in the United Kingdom.

“Since reporting the rape, she has spent over a month in prison and six months where she has been unable to leave Cyprus.

“However, despite all of this, she remains determined for justice to be done in her case.”

The teenager was a week into a working holiday, which she had planned for the summer before starting university, when she alleges she was raped by the group of young Israeli men.

She spent more than a month in prison before she was granted bail at the end of August, but cannot leave the island, having surrendered her passport.

She could face up to a year in prison and a 1,700 Euro (£1,500) fine if she is found guilty. The 12 Israelis arrested over the alleged attack returned home after they were released.

The teenager’s family have set up a crowdfunding page asking for money for legal costs, which has so far reached almost £50,000.