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Summary

  1. Updates on Wednesday 6 July 2016

Live Reporting

All times stated are UK

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Our live coverage throughout the day

That's all of today's live updates - Thank you very much for joining us.

We'll back bright and early tomorrow at 08:00 with more news, weather, travel and sport stories.

You can get in touch with us at anytime on TwitterFacebook, or via email at northeast.locallive@bbc.co.uk.

Jury retires in Sunderland murder trial

A jury in the trial of three men accused of a brutal back lane murder has retired to consider its verdict. 

Charles Lamont, his son Dalton Barnett and former Nissan worker Patrick Duggan are accused of killing of David Walsh, 45, known as Boff, who died from blood loss after a stabbing attack in Sunderland last November. 

All three deny murder and are being tried by a jury at Newcastle Crown Court.

Raymond Brown, 37, who was seen to plunge a knife into Mr Walsh "26 to 27 times" has pleaded guilty to murder and violent disorder, and is awaiting sentence. 

Canon Cockin Street, where David Walsh was found
Google

Video: Gary Speed's dad on emotional day for Wales

Gateshead find out opponents after fixtures released

BBC Sport

The fixtures for the National League have been released today.

Gateshead's first match will be against Chester on 6 August.

And the league is making the festive period a double-header, so they'll play Barrow on Boxing Day (away) and New Year's Day (home). 

You can read Gateshead's full fixtures here.

Weather: A bright evening

BBC Weather

A bright evening then a dry start to the night. Some light patchy rain or drizzle in the early hours of Thursday, but perhaps becoming dry again from the north towards the end of the night. Feeling mild.  

Weather graph
BBC

Video: Blue light fake ambulance driver fined

A man who fitted his car with blue lights and a siren to make it look like an ambulance has been fined.

Shaun Scandle was spotted by staff at the Tyne Tunnel as he drove through rush-hour traffic.

The 31-year-old, of Priestpopple, Hexham, pleaded guilty at North Shields Magistrates' Court, to driving carelessly on 9 September.  

Shaun Scandle fined over fake ambulance

Belle Vue Nursing Home in Middlesbrough in special measures over 'neglect'

A Middlesbrough care home has been placed in special measures over concerns its residents had suffered from neglect.

Belle Vue Nursing Home was judged to be "inadequate" by the health watchdog, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) after an unannounced inspection in May.

It was ordered to improve but, after further complaints, was visited again in June and found to be "inadequate".

If it does not improve steps will be taken to close it down, the CQC said.

Belle Vue Nursing Home
Google

Video: Chilcot brings 'no closure' for mother

The mother of one of the youngest service personnel to die in Iraq has said that the publication of the Chilcot report has given her "no closure".

Pte Michael Tench was just 18 when he was killed by a roadside bomb near Basra in 2007. 

Janice Proctor watched the coverage of the report's publication on television at her home in Washington.  

Chilcot brings 'no justice' for young dead soldier

Thirteen-year-old girl assaulted in Guisborough

A 13-year-old girl has been assaulted on the footpath which runs along the beck at Stumps Cross in Guisborough on Teesside.

The incident occurred at about 15:40 yesterday when the girl was approached by four boys aged between 13 and 14.

The males pushed the girl on the grass, and one of them who was wearing a plastic glove wiped dog faeces on her.

The boys were all wearing green jumpers and ran away from the scene.

Meet Durham Constabulary’s new recruit… Mittens the cat

Durham Police have adopted a furry friend as their new mascot.

It all happened after five-year-old Eliza Adamson-Hopper wrote to Chief Constable Mike Barton asking why the force only used dogs and that it should consider having cats too.

Mr Barton replied and told her the force was looking to recruit its first cat: And it looked no further than Eliza’s own cat, Mittens.

The Force enlisted the help of a professional artist who transformed Mittens into a cartoon.

Now Mittens will be proudly adopted by Durham Constabulary’s Mini Police, a pioneering volunteer programme for 9-11-year-olds.

Mittens
DURHAM CONSTABULARY

Mother of soldier killed in Iraq believes Chilcot Report backs her call for Blair to face prosecution

The Shields Gazette

The mother of a military policeman killed in Iraq says the Chilcot Report backs what she and other families believed all along.

Pat Long, who lost her 24-year-old son Paul in 2003, has said the inquiry into the war proves Tony Blair “lied” about the details which led to the conflict and claimed the lives of 179 British servicemen and women.

Pat Long
shields gazette

Man threatens Post Office staff with kitchen knife

A man entered the Post Office in Saltwell Road, Gateshead, and threatened a staff member with a large kitchen knife.

He demanded cash before making off with a mobile phone belonging to a worker at about 16:30 on Monday. 

No one was injured but staff members were left shocked.   

The offender is being white, about 6ft and of slim build.

The post office
Google

Mother of soldier killed in Iraq reacts to Chilcot Report

BBC Look North

North East and Cumbria

The mother of Pte Michael Tench, who died in Iraq in 2003, has spoken to Look North following the Chilcot Inquiry.

Janice Procter said she felt "sick" watching John Chilcot's speech, as she was hoping to find the "honest truth" about what happened to her son.

She agrees that Tony Blair, who she calls "the monster of Iraq", had to make certain decisions, but ultimately believes that going to war was not needed.

Mrs Procter added: "He did not back up what should have been backed up, he's had our children murdered, so my law should be the same as his law, and it should be a punishment, and not heavily criticised."

Janice Procter
BBC

Tyne Tunnel blue light fake ambulance driver fined

A man who fitted his car with blue lights and a siren to make it look like an ambulance before driving erratically on the roads has been fined.

Shaun Scandle was spotted by staff at the Tyne Tunnel as he drove through rush hour traffic.

The fake ambulance
Tyne Tunnel

The 31-year-old, of Priestpopple, Hexham, pleaded guilty at North Shields Magistrates' Court, to driving carelessly on 9 September.

He was fined £1,000 and given nine points on his licence.

Sunderland, Middlesbrough and Newcastle offered new trophy route

BBC Sport

Sunderland, Middlesbrough and Newcastle United have the chance to win another trophy next season after their academy sides were confirmed to enter the 2016-17 EFL Trophy.

Clubs from both League One and League Two will play alongside the Category One academies, starting with a group format before a Wembley final in April.

The 16 groups of four teams will each comprise an academy side with the top two from each qualifying for the first knockout round of 32 teams.

The group stage draw will be announced by the EFL in due course.

Known last season as the Football League Trophy and sponsored by Johnstone's Paint, the competition has been rebranded for this season along with the Football League as a whole.  

Barnsley beat Oxford United at Wembley in the Football League Trophy final last season
Empics

Barnsley beat Oxford United at Wembley in the Football League Trophy final last season  

Four osprey chicks in 100-1 odds Kielder nest share

Four osprey chicks are thriving against the odds after hatching in a single nest.

Conservationists said the chances of the chicks surviving were 100 to one.

The multiple hatching, at Kielder Water and Forest Park in Northumberland, was one of only three in public UK osprey sites this year.

The bird of prey has been reintroduced to parts of England after an absence of more than 200 years, the Forestry Commission said.

The birds
PAUL PICKETT/FORESTRY COMMISSION/PA

Universities take a knock post-Brexit

Chris Cook

Newsnight Policy Editor

European academic bodies are pulling back from research collaboration with UK academics, amid post-Brexit uncertainty about the future of UK higher education.

While post-Brexit Britain might remain inside the European research funding system, academics in other countries are nervous about collaborating with UK institutions.

UK-based academics are being asked to withdraw their applications for future funding by European partners.

BBC Newsnight is aware of concerns raised by academics at Durham University.

The vice-chancellor of Sheffield Hallam, Chris Husbands, says research bids have been hit:

Liam Fee: NSPCC release statement

After a mother and her civil partner were sentenced to life in prison for the murder of two-year-old Liam Fee earlier today, the NSPCC have issued a statement.

They have announced that a Significant Case Review into the case has begun, in order to prevent other children from suffering as Liam did before his murder.

Matt Forde, Head of Service for NSPCC Scotland said: “Those responsible for Liam’s brutal murder have quite rightly received long jail terms. It is incomprehensible how two people who were meant to look after the children in their care could subject them to such appalling abuse."

Liam Fee
BBC

Prison officers staged walkouts over past five months

Some other news today away from the Chilcot Report - Prison officers have withdrawn labour or staged unofficial walkouts at five prisons in England over the past five months, the BBC has learned.

The Prison Officers Association, whose members are banned from going on strike, said the action was the result of staff concerns over their safety.

Last year there were nearly 5,000 assaults on prison staff - the highest number for at least a decade.

In May, 40 prison officers at Holme House jail, in Stockton on Teesside, withdrew in protest about changes to the regime. 

Police Officer
BBC

Chilcot Report: 'Royal Military Police were not in Iraq in sufficient numbers'

Royal Military Police were not in Iraq in sufficient numbers to do everything that wasrequired of them, The Chilcot Report was told.

Lt Gen Sir Alistair Irwin, the Adjutant General from 2003 to 2005, told the inquiry: "I began to get a feeling that maybe there were not enough military police in Iraq and maybe also that, extrapolating from that, there were not enough military policemen ... in the British Army" 

It came in the wake of the deaths of two North East soldiers: Cpl Paul Long, from South Shields, and Simon Miller, from Washington.

Both men were killed in an ambush police station at Al Majar al-Kabir in 2003.

Paul Long
MOD

Blair complained about UK forces' 'posture' after deadly month

Tony Blair complained about the "posture" of armed forces in Iraq after being told there had been 11 UK fatalities in the country in a month, the Chilcot Report shows.

His private secretary told him that April 2007 had seen the greatest number of UK fatalities in Iraq since the end of major combat operations in 2003.

The dead included Rifleman Aaron Lincoln, 18, from Durham, who died from a single bullet wound while on patrol in Basra.

Mr Blair commented: “I am really not happy about the posture of our forces in Basra. We must discuss this. 

"There is absolutely no point in taking casualties if they aren’t helping the effort.”  

Rifleman Aaron Lincoln,
MOD

What actually is the Chilcot Inquiry into the Iraq war?

It's more than two million words long and has come out this morning. 

Here's a short guide to what The Chilcot Inquiry actually is:

What actually is the Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq war?

Our soldiers remembered: Michael Tench

Ana Guerra-Moore

BBC News Online

Let me cast your mind back to when you turned 18: Finally becoming an adult, your whole life is ahead of you. Remember the excitement? 

Well, for one of our North East soldiers, all that was taken away from him during the Iraq war.

Pte Michael Tench was only 18 when he was killed in southern Iraq in 2007, after his Warrior patrol vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb.

The Sunderland lad was described by his colleagues as "always happy", and the MoD said he was a "young man with so much promise".

Private Michael Tench
MOD

The army had to apologise to Mr Tench's mother over confusion over his death.

Janice Murray, 45, was originally told that her son's body was intact, but it later emerged that he had lost a leg.

Mrs Murray was "extremely shocked and upset" when she found out the truth, she told an inquest into his death.

MoD 'slow' to provide better equipment for Iraq troops

The Chilcot Report has found that military and political leaders failed to act quickly enough to counter the threat from Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), and provide better armoured vehicles to British forces in Iraq.

Sir John Chilcot's long-awaited report said the Ministry of Defence was "slow" in responding to the potential for casualties from the home-made bombs.

In fact, soldiers reportedly nicknamed Protected Patrol Vehicles "mobile coffins" because of the limited protection they gave to roadside IEDs.

Anthony Wakefield, a soldier from Newcastle, was killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq.

Anthony Wakefield
MoD

Blair to Bush: "I will be with you, whatever"

Tony Blair told George W Bush "I will be with you, whatever" in a confidential memo regarding the Iraq war.

You can read more Chilcot Report updates here.

George Bush and Tony Blair
BBC

Our soldiers remembered: Colin Wall

Ana Guerra-Moore

BBC News Online

Warrant Officer Colin Wall, from County Durham, was on patrol in Basra when he died with two colleagues in an ambush.

He left behind three children.

The thirty-four year old was stationed at Catterick Garrison and served in the 150 Provost Company. 

The men were in a civilian four-wheel drive Nissan vehicle - part of an armed convoy of two vehicles - while making a routine journey from their base through a main street in Basra.

Unconfirmed reports said that gunmen threw a grenade at the soldiers' vehicle after shooting them.

In 2003, Mr Wall's cousin John Harrison, described the soldier as a "true professional, who would be deeply missed"

He added: "He loved the Army, it's all he lived for."

Colin Wall
MOD

Iraq Inquiry: Chilcot says invasion 'not last resort'

The UK did not exhaust all peaceful options before joining the invasion of Iraq, the chairman of the official inquiry into the war has said.

Sir John Chilcot said military action at the time "was not a last resort".

He also said judgements about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction "were presented with a certainty that was not justified" and post-war planning was "wholly inadequate".

Sir John was speaking ahead of publication of his report at 11:35 BST.

Watch live here.

Our soldiers remembered: Aaron Lincoln

Ana Guerra-Moore

BBC News Online

Another 18-year-old from the North East to die in Iraq was Aaron Lincoln.

He died after being wounded on a patrol in southern Iraq in 2007.

According to the MoD, Rifleman Lincoln was hit by small arms fire and later died from his injuries. 

Lieutenant Colonel JCW Maciejewski said: "Rifleman Lincoln loved soldiering and was very good at it. He represents a tradition of soldiering that has very deep roots in County Durham... He lived a life of courage, loyalty, and selfless commitment to others. Ultimately he sacrificed his life for his friends."

Aaron Lincoln
MOD

Timeline - The Chilcot Report

Here is a rundown of what will be happening today.

  • 11:05 - Sir John Chilcot will make a statement on his report and his findings - watch that here on the BBC News Channel
  • 11:35 - The report will be published on the internet
  • 11:45 - Families of soldiers killed in Iraq will hold a press conference
  • 12:00 - Prime Minister’s Questions, where David Cameron may face questions about the report's contents 
  • 12:30 - David Cameron is due to give a formal statement on the Iraq Inquiry, and that will be followed by a statement from the leader of the opposition, Jeremy Corbyn

Later today, Tony Blair is expected to give his reaction to the report.

You can follow all the latest developments, as they happen, here.

The shocking abuse of toddler Liam Fee

The mother of toddler Liam Fee and her civil partner have today been sentenced to life in prison for the murder of the two year old.

For most of his short life, the little boy suffered terribly at the hands of the two women.

Doctors found Liam had suffered a ruptured heart from a blow or blows to his body. They also discovered double fractures of his thigh bone and arm. In total they counted more than 30 injuries on his body.  

POLICE HANDOUT
Liam Fee

The couple had also abused two other boys, one of which they tried to blame for Liam's death.

One child told police that he was forced to spend the night naked in a makeshift cage made out of a fireguard. His hands were bound behind his back with cable ties.

On another occasion, he was tied to a bed in a room where Rachel and Nyomi kept rats and snakes. Nyomi told him the boa constrictor "eats little boys".

'No sentence long enough for Liam Fee murderers'

A former friend of the women who murdered toddler Liam Fee has told the BBC that 'no sentence' could ever be enough for their crimes.

Although Gillian McCusker had fallen out with Rachel and Nyomi Fee just before the two-year-old's death she had been very close friends with the pair. 

She said she never suspected any wrongdoing during the time she knew the Fees. 

The couple from Gateshead were convicted of killing Liam at his Fife home in March 2014. They had blamed another boy for the murder.

Gillian McCusker
BBC

Liam Fee: Mother and partner handed life sentences

A mother and her civil partner from Gateshead have been sentenced to life in prison for the murder of her two-year-old son.

Rachel Fee, 31, must spend a minimum of 23 and a half years in jail and Nyomi Fee, 29, a minimum of 24 years for the murder and ill-treatment of Liam Fee.

The toddler, who was Rachel's son, died at his home near Glenrothes, Fife in March 2014.

He had suffered a ruptured heart as a result of severe blunt force trauma to his body.

Nyomi and Rachel Fee, and toddler Liam Fee
BBC

BreakingCouple given life for Liam Fee murder

A mother and her civil partner from Gateshead are sentenced to life in prison for the murder of her two-year-old son.

More to follow.

Our soldiers remembered: Simon Miller

Ana Guerra-Moore

BBC News Online

Another North East soldier who died in Iraq was Cpl Simon Miller, who was only 21, and from Washington.

He was one of the six soldiers serving with 156 Provost Company, Royal Military Police, to be killed in an ambush at Al Majar al Kabira police station in June 2003. He died alongside Paul Long (see below at 08:55).

At his funeral, his commander, Captain James Hibbert, remembered him, saying: "I can only scratch at the surface of what was a brilliant guy... He lived in a world in which spades were called spades, he faced police work head-on and was a real asset to the unit."

Cpl Simon Miller
MOD

Four years after his death, Mr Miller's father said that not enough had being done to prosecute those he believed were responsible for his son's death.  

Our soldiers who died in the Iraq War: Anthony Wakefield

Ana Guerra-Moore

BBC News Online

An inquiry into the Iraq War will be released later today. 

Eight North East soldiers were among the 179 UK service personnel who lost their lives while serving in Iraq - and we'll be bringing you their stories throughout this morning.

Anthony Wakefield, a 24-year-old Coldstream Guard from Newcastle, was one of these victims.

He was a married father-of-three who had been serving with the 12th Mechanised Brigade in the south-east of Iraq.

Anthony Wakefield
PA

Mr Wakefield was on patrol in an armoured car when a bomb exploded near Al-Amarah in 2005. He died of his injuries the following day.

His wife, Ann Toward, said she blamed the-then Prime Minister Tony Blair for her husband's death.

Druridge Bay opencast beach mine plan backed by council

More on the story we brought you yesterday - Controversial plans for a surface mine close to a nature reserve have been backed by Northumberland County Council.

Developer Banks Group wants to extract three million tonnes of coal, sandstone and fireclay from a site at Highthorn, near the village of Widdrington.

The company said the Highthorn Surface Mine would create jobs and investment.

Critics said it would "damage tourism and scar the landscape". The Secretary of State will make the final decision.

The site adjoins Druridge Bay
THINKSTOCK

North East families await Chilcot Report

BBC Newcastle

A number of North East families are hoping to get the answers they have been awaiting 13 years for, as an inquiry into the Iraq War is released this morning.

The mother of Cpl Paul Long, a military policeman from Hebburn who was murdered by a mob in Iraq, is among those waiting for the report.

Pat Long spoke to us this morning to say that she is hoping for the truth, and for former Prime Minister Tony Blair to be tried for war crimes.

She added: "There was no weapons of mass destruction of what they said, but there were two: Bush and Blair... They caused the war out there, why do they have to go into other countries?"

Corporal Paul Long
MOD

In 2012, Mrs Long's defence team wrote a letter to the-then Defence Secretary Philip Hammond calling for a fresh inquiry.

The letter stated: "Mrs Long feels a strong sense of injustice, that the questions she has about her son's death have not been properly answered and that, importantly, the lack of any accountability for the situation in which her son was placed does not do justice for her son... The circumstances of the deaths in this case reveal obvious defects in the systems which ought reasonably be expected to be in place to protect the lives of British soldiers."