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  1. Updates on Thursday 12 May 2016

Live Reporting

All times stated are UK

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Weather: Clouding over

BBC Weather

Some sunny spells at first this evening, but cloud, hill fog and coastal mist returning from the North Sea overnight.

Breezy near the coast but lighter winds inland. Most parts dry, apart from some coastal drizzle.

NUFC 'failed miserably' but must keep Benitez, fans say

Newcastle United "failed miserably" in waiting too long to sack Steve McClaren and bring in Rafa Benitez, the NUFC Fans Forum says.

The Magpies were condemned to the Championship last night after Sunderland hammered Everton - a result which led the Blues to sack manager Roberto Martinez after three years in charge.

But these Newcastle supporters are adamant the woes of their team are not down to their current manager.

Rafa Benitez,

A  statement from the Fans Forum says: "We are completely devastated to lose our position in the Premier League. 

"Rafa Benitez has demonstrated his ability to connect with the fans. The fans of this club deserve the respect of the board and current owners of Newcastle United.

"This group of fans can make a huge difference to the club and have demonstrated his on several occasions."

Travel: Long delays on A19 in Stockton after accident

BBC Travel

There's long delays as the A19 is closed southbound in Billingham between the Norton Interchange and Portrack Interchange because of a serious accident involving a motorbike and a lorry. 

Congestion is back to the A689 junction.  

Get the latest travel news for Teesside and Tyne and Wear.

Middlesbrough 'breaks safe levels for air pollution'

A total of 40 towns and cities in the UK and Ireland breached safe levels for fine particles in the air, including Middlesbrough, the World Health Organisation says.

Dr Flavia Bustreo, WHO's assistant director general for family, women and children's health, said: "When dirty air blankets our cities, the most vulnerable urban populations - the youngest, oldest and poorest - are the most impacted."

Jenny Bates, Friends of the Earth air pollution campaigner, said air pollution caused 40,000 early deaths a year in the UK.

The WHO said that across the world 80% of cities that measure outdoor air pollution are failing to meet its guidance for safe levels of air quality.

Transporter Bridge

Allardyce: December was dark but we saw a window

A meteorological angle from Sam Allardyce describing Sunderland's route to Premier League safety. "December was dark from a weather point of view and dark at the club. We lost five in a row but there was a window of opportunity.

"That window was January and the new lads have done so well to settle at the club. Since then it's been much brighter.

"I've been very blessed in life but I'll try and make it even better next year!" 

Sam Allardyce
Getty Images

Colin Gregg says he 'wouldn't do any harm' to children

A member of the Greggs bakery family who's accused of sexually assaulting boys has told Newcastle Crown Court he spent years helping children and wouldn't do them any harm.

Colin Gregg, 74, is accused of abusing nine boys over a 30-year period. 

Colin Gregg

His lawyer asked him: "Did you assault any boy in any way?"

He replied no, saying his "life has been spent on fulfilling their potential. Not to harm them".

He told the jury that he set up a schooling establishment to look after boys with difficulties and set up the North East Children's Cancer Run, which has raised nearly £7m.

Previously, the court was told that he assaulted a boy in front of two others, but today the jury heard claims that one them couldn't have been in the room at the same time.

The trial continues.    

Police 'seize £80,000 Audi for having no insurance'

Northumbria Police has shared this photo of an Audi RS6 which it says is worth about £80,000.

It was seized for having no insurance, with officers saying "we don't just stop the bangers".

Audi seized by police
Northumbria Police

We imagine the owner now wishes they'd splashed out a bit more cash to stay on the right side of the law...

Legal boss 'gossiped about affair to make herself look big'

A force's legal boss disclosed confidential details about an alleged affair to "bolster herself" in the eyes of colleagues, a hearing has been told.

The tribunal brought by Denise Aubrey has heard about alleged affairs between senior officers at Northumbria Police.

Cheshire Police Deputy Chief Constable Helen King said her "gossiping" constituted gross misconduct. 

Ms King chaired a disciplinary hearing in 2014 after the head of legal services was accused of gossiping about the rumours with colleagues during a meeting. 

Denise Aubrey

Ms Aubrey is claiming unfair dismissal after being sacked in 2014 for gross misconduct, which the force denies.   

The case continues.

Man killed in A19 crash named by police

A man who died in a crash on the A19 in County Durham yesterday has been named by police.

Jason Hunt, 49, from Acklam Road, Thornaby, was taken by air ambulance to the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle where he later died.

Police believe he may have fallen ill at the wheel but a post-mortem examination is to be carried out to determine the cause of death.

A19 crash scene
Durham Police

Travel: Accident on the A1231

BBC Travel

The A1231 Sunderland Highway in Washington is closed and there's slow traffic eastbound at the A182 Washington Highway junction because of an accident and recovery work.

Get the latest travel news for Teesside and Tyne and Wear.

TV's Robson Green helps save cliff man

North East actor and TV presenter Robson Green has been involved in a dramatic cliff rescue.

He was filming in Clovelly, north Devon when a man in his 70s was found 60ft (18m) down the cliff.

The star heard his cries for help and tried to reach him before coastguards airlifted the man to safety.

His spokeswoman said he "only did what anyone else would have done in the circumstances" and did not consider himself a hero.

Robson Green with Sharon King who saw him help rescuers and called him a "lovely man"
Robson Green with Sharon King who saw him help rescuers and called him a "lovely man"

Local resident Sharon King, who saw the rescue, tweeted that Mr Green "went over the cliff to the casualty. No thought for himself. Lovely man!"  

Danny Simpson handed a curfew order

Former Newcastle United full-back Danny Simpson has been handed a curfew order after the community service sentence he received for throttling his ex-girlfriend was revoked due to press intrusion. 

Simpson, 29, now with Leicester City, had only done half of the 300 hours of unpaid work he was sentenced to last June for assaulting Stephanie Ward, the mother of his child, in a row at their house in Greater Manchester, in December 2014. 

His lawyer Gary Ryan told a district judge at Manchester Magistrates' Court he was applying to have the community order revoked and asked that the millionaire footballer instead pay a fine. 

The judge said Simpson's sentence for assaulting his ex-partner was "richly-deserved punishment" and his original sentence was revoked and he was handed the curfew order instead.

Danny Simpson
Getty Images

Football Daily: Sunderland cheers, Newcastle & Norwich tears

BBC Sport

BBC Radio 5 live's Conor McNamara rounds up the best stats from Sunderland's season and Kevin Kilbane analyses what Sunderland need to do to prevent another relegation battle next time round.

Former Newcastle goalkeeper Shay Given gives his thoughts on the Magpies' relegation and Norwich boss Alex Neil says he blames himself for the Canaries' struggles:

Sunderland church restoration calls in Sam the rothound

A rescue dog, left without a home for being 'too boisterous', is helping sniff out dry rot in a Sunderland church as part of a £3.6m restoration.

Sam the golden Labrador

Sam the golden Labrador is trained to sniff out dry rot hidden in the timbers and structure of old buildings.

The so called rot-hound is helping with survey work at the 300-year-old Holy Trinity Church that is being transformed into a community venue.

A Churches Conservation Trust spokesman said his job is "incredibly important".

Newcastle United: Alan Shearer does not expect Rafael Benitez to stay

Former Newcastle United captain Alan Shearer says he would be 'amazed' if Rafael Benitez remained as manager of the relegated Magpies.

Rafa Benitez

Newcastle's second relegation from the Premier League in eight years was confirmed last night.

Shearer told BBC Radio 5 live: "A guy of great stature, a world-renowned coach with his CV managing in the Championship? I can't see it happening.

"I'd love to be wrong. It would be brilliant if he was to stay."

First Group to run Edinburgh to London budget rail service

A new budget rail service between Edinburgh and London has been given the green light by the Rail Regulator.


The 10-year deal will allow First Group to operate five trains a day each way via intermediate stations at Morpeth, Newcastle and Stevenage from 2021.

It said average fares would be less than £25 and there would be only one class of carriage.

Stagecoach, which operates Virgin Trains East Coast on the same rails, has warned its revenue will be harmed.

Men charged with Byker viaduct trespass in court today

Police have charged two men in connection with a trespass incident on the Byker viaduct yesterday.

A 28-year-old and a 26-year-old, both from Walker, Newcastle, have been charged with public nuisance.

They'll appear at Newcastle Magistrates' Court today.

Lost some ski boots?

Prince Harry meets Hartlepool athlete at Invictus Games

BBC Tees

Prince Harry has had the honour of meeting Craig Winspear from Hartlepool.

Craig is in Florida representing his country less than five years after his life was hanging in the balance.

The former High Tunstall College of Science student is one of the 110-strong team of wounded, injured and sick military personnel and veterans selected by the prince to represent the UK at this year's Invictus Games.

Alongside Prince Harry and Craig is Craig's daughter, Shauna Leigh Winspear, and his partner Hayley Wilson.

Good luck, the region is proud of you sir.

Prince Harry and Craig Winspear
Craig Winspear

Fatal crash on A19: Driver 'may have become ill at the wheel'

A man who died in a crash on the A19 in County Durham yesterday may have become ill at the wheel, police say.

A 49-year-old from Teesside was taken by air ambulance to the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle where he later died.

Police say he may have fallen ill at the wheel but a post-mortem examination will be carried out to determine the cause of death.

Scene of collision
Durham Police

Newcastle United: Mike Ashley criticised by Kevin Keegan

BBC Sport

Former Newcastle manager Kevin Keegan says owner Mike Ashley has 'had quite a lot of years of making a lot of mistakes' as they prepare for life in the Championship.

Kevin Keegan
Getty Images

The Magpies' second relegation from the Premier League in eight years was confirmed on Wednesday by Sunderland's 3-0 win over Everton.

"You have to say Mike Ashley hasn't handled the decision-making very well or he's given the responsibility to people and they haven't handled it very well," Keegan, 65, told BBC Sport.

Daily Express back page: 'Wear all staying up'

The Magpies have dropped to the Championship for the second time in seven years after Sunderland beat Everton 3-0.  

Daily Express back page
Daily Express

Alan Shearer: 'Newcastle have not learned lessons from 2009'

Weather: Cloudy start followed by sunny spells

BBC Weather

A cloudy start to the day is expected with mist over the hills and near the coast.

During the morning the cloud will break with some bright or sunny spells developing during the afternoon.

Most parts dry, away from hills.  

Tougher sentences for young offenders who film their crimes

Young offenders in England and Wales who film their crimes in order to post them on social media could face tougher punishments under new proposals.

Judges and magistrates will be expected to consider such behaviour a "serious aggravating feature" when sentencing offenders aged 10 to 17, the Sentencing Council said.

Angela Wrightson

It comes a month after two teenage girls were given life sentences for murdering 39-year-old Angela Wrightson in Hartlepool.

The girls, then aged 13 and 14, took photographs of the attack, and uploaded them to Snapchat.

Newcastle relegated: After years of poor decisions, what next for the Magpies?

Phil McNulty

BBC Sport chief football writer

Newcastle fan
Getty Images

Newcastle United have walked the Premier League's tightrope once too often.

Only 12 months ago they required a last-day victory against West Ham at St James' Park to avoid relegation.

This time there was no escaping the drop into the Championship, confirmed by Sunderland's victory over Everton last night.

The long flirtation with the second tier is now a full-blown embrace, proof that survival only lasts so long amid poor management, bad choices and signings that were simply not fit for purpose.

Greggs bakery founder's son Colin Gregg denies 'fondling' truant boys

The son of the Greggs bakery founder accused of molesting boys has denied 

Colin Gregg

Colin Gregg, 74, of Gosforth, used to take absent children to school when he worked as a social worker.

Giving evidence at Newcastle Crown Court, he "emphatically" denied accusations that he fondled two of them.

Mr Gregg denies 26 charges of indecent assault relating to nine boys from the 1960s to the 1990s.

Sunderland safe after win

So the big news this morning - Sunderland sealed their Premier League safety and relegated Newcastle with a comprehensive victory over Everton.

Defender Lamine Kone struck twice from close range after Patrick van Aanholt scored with a 25-yard free-kick that was misjudged by keeper Joel Robles.

Victory capped an impressive revival by Sam Allardyce's side, who have lost only two of their past 13 games.

Morning, welcome to our live coverage

Rebecca Turner

BBC North East

Lots to talk about this morning as Sunderland's win last night meant Newcastle United were relegated from the Premier League. 

Much more on that throughout the day.

Other than that, we'll be here until 18:00 with all your news, sport, weather and travel updates from across the North East.

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