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Rotherham Abuse Was 'Dereliction Of Duty'

Written By andika jamanta on Selasa, 02 September 2014 | 20.49

Rotherham Victim 'Verbally Abused By Police'

Updated: 8:43pm UK, Wednesday 27 August 2014

A victim of the Rotherham child sex abuse scandal has told Sky News she was verbally abused when she sought help from police.

She said the violence she suffered was ignored by authorities because her attacker was Asian and they were worried about causing racial unrest in the South Yorkshire town.

The woman gave a disturbing account of how she was treated by some police officers - claiming they called her a string of derogatory names.

One even said her attacker had every right to abuse her, she said.

Her grooming began when she turned 14 and was introduced to the man through friends in Rotherham.

She said he treated her well to start with and she fell in love with him, but after a few months he became violent.

"The more time we spent together the more he started to change," she said. "He became controlling, violent ... a relationship that was domestic violence."

She said she felt so scared at times she thought about killing herself.

"I had a fear of heights and he did a lot of things to try to scare me through that," she said.

"He once drove us to the edge of a cliff and said he was going to kill us both. He then dragged me out of the car and said he was going to throw me off."

She added: "He once tried to throw me over a balcony, luckily two people kind of stopped him from doing that.

"I had a child with me at the time, that were only a few months, in a pushchair, and he even kicked the pushchair over."

She said during her two years of abuse, the attacks went from once a week to two or three times a week.

His brothers were grooming other young girls, she said, but unlike many child victims in Rotherham she was sexually exploited by one man.

She was 16 when she went to police, but said her complaint was ignored.

Her abuser was even granted immunity from prosecution, she claimed.

"I explained to him (the police officer) what relationship we had and he said: 'Well, what do you expect? I think he's got every right to.'

"My Dad went absolutely mental and told him to get out of the house. The police officer then apologised, and we put a formal complaint into the police about him.

"But just his manner of how he dealt with it - he didn't seem to care about it, he was so unprofessional."

When asked why her abuse was ignored by social workers, police and council bosses, she said: "I think it was because of the fact he was Asian.

"I don't think they wanted to start communities colliding together, and starting confrontation between communities."

She said Rotherham Council chiefs should face action for ignoring the plight of the 1,400 child victims targeted in the town.

"The people that were involved back then ... I think they need hanging," she said.

"I don't know what legal stuff can be done, but I think they all need to be in a courtroom and tell people exactly what they knew.

"I think it should be some kind of criminal offence that 1,400 girls have been allowed to be abused by professionals."

South Yorkshire Police say they have no knowledge of allegations concerning derogatory remarks made against the victim.

A spokesman said the suggestion a deal was struck with her abuser has been fully investigated and no evidence was found to support the claim.

"This case forms a part of Operation Clover looking into a series of child sexual exploitation investigations in Rotherham," he added.

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Ebola Patient Flees Clinic In Search For Food

Video has emerged of Liberian ebola clinic workers dressed in contamination suits chasing an escaped patient through the streets after he left a treatment centre to visit a market.

There were chaotic scenes as crowds followed infected man, who was wearing a wristband to show he had tested positive for the disease, and some stallholders argued with him as he approached.

The patient escaped from Monrovia's Elwa hospital, which last month was so crowded with cases of the deadly disease that it had to turn people away.

One woman at the scene said: "The patients are hungry, they are starving. No food, no water.

"The government needs to do more. Let Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf [the President of Liberia] do more."

An ebola patient left a quarantine zone and went into a busy market looking for food. Crowds followed the escaped ebola patient at a distance

Onlookers cheered as health workers arrived in their protective outfits and try to convince the patient to give himself up.

The man, who shows no outward signs of the diarrhoea and bleeding that the virus causes, refuses to return with the health workers and they eventually grab him and carry him away to a waiting ambulance.

At least 1,552 people have been killed by the current ebola outbreak, with 3,062 patients infected overall, according to the latest figures from the World Health Organization.

The UN agency has warned that more than 20,000 people could be infected with ebola before the outbreak comes to an end.

Ebola patient in Liberia escapes The patient was eventually confronted by health workers

There has been widespread panic buying, a shortage of staple foods and severe prices in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia since movement restrictions were imposed to stop the spread of the virus.

At one market stall in Liberia, a nation which has suffered 694 fatalities so far, the price of cassava skyrocketed by 150% in a matter of days.

And despite the UN's World Food Programme launching an emergency operation to get 65,000 tonnes of supplies sent to deprived areas, many patients in quarantined areas are starving.

The UN World Food Programme has been delivering rations to the impoverished region. The UN has launched an operation to feed people in deprived areas

To compound the problem, labour shortages are expected in all three West African countries, weeks before the main harvesting season for maize and rice begins.

The production of other crops such as rubber, palm oil and cocoa could also be seriously affected, sending thousands of vulnerable people further into poverty.

Vincent Martin of the FAO added: "Even prior to the ebola outbreak, households in some of the affected areas were spending up to 80% of their incomes on food.

"Now these latest price spikes are effectively putting food completely out of their reach."

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Beauty Queen Refuses To Return Tiara After Row

A Burmese beauty queen is refusing to return her $100,000 (£60,398) tiara after pageant organisers accused her of lying about whether she had breast implants.

May Myat Noe, 18, reportedly disappeared with the crown after Miss Asia Pacific World organisers arranged to give her plastic surgery.

Pageant organisers say one of the goals of the event is to turn contest winners into actresses, pop stars, and world-class models by changing their looks.

May Myat Noe with her crown. Pic: http://missasiapacificworldstar.com The teenager denies she accepted an offer of a breast enlargement

And pageant director David Kim said Ms Noe was provided with a breast enhancement free of charge after winning the contest; a claim she denies.

"We thought she should be more beautiful, so we sent her to the hospital to operate on her breasts," Kim said.

"It's our responsibility. If she has no good nose, then maybe, if she likes, we can operate on her nose. If it's breasts, then breasts."

Mr Kim added the teenager was stripped of her title and "dethroned" because she was dishonest and unappreciative – and that she absconded with her bejewelled crown.

"She thinks as long as she keeps this crown she's the winner," Mr Kim said. "She's not."

Miss Noe has demanded an apology "to rectify the damage they have done to the integrity of my country".

"I will return the crown only when they apologise to Myanmar, for the dignity of our country," she said.

"I was put under duress to undergo head-to-toe cosmetic surgery which I refused...I didn't have breast implants, but I don't want to go into details, to preserve my dignity."

She said she flew back to Myanmar before realising organisers had decided to remove her title.

Myanmar's former beauty queen May Myat Noe holds box containing jewelled crown, before news conference in Yangon It was reported that Ms Noe's mother wanted to control her career

It has also been claimed there was disagreement over who was supposed to manage Ms Noe's career, with both her mother and event organisers wanting control.

Fifty years of self-imposed isolation kept Myanmar contestants off the international beauty contest stage until 2012.

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Calls Grow For Ashya To Be Reunited With Family

Prime Minister David Cameron has joined mounting calls for Ashya King to be reunited with his jailed parents as Portsmouth City Council calls for a halt to extradition proceedings against them.

Brett King and his wife Naghemeh, from Portsmouth, remain in police custody in Madrid while a Spanish court considers whether to grant a British extradition request.

Ashya, who has a brain tumour, is under police guard at the Materno-Infantil hospital in Malaga, about 330 miles south of the capital.

He has not seen his parents since they were arrested on Saturday after taking him out of Southampton General Hospital to seek specialist cancer treatment abroad.

A court in Madrid has called the parents for a hearing tomorrow morning to hear whether they will be released ahead of a judge's decision on their extradition.

Ashya's parents arrive at court Ashya's parents arrived at court on Monday

Separately, Britain's Crown Prosecution Service is reviewing the case to decide whether prosecution is required.

A High Court judgement is also expected on the wardship of Ashya who was made a ward of court on Friday

In an interview with LBC, Prime Minister David Cameron joined a chorus of voices calling for the King family to be allowed access to Ashya.

"Watching the pictures of him brought back memories of my desperate ill young boy Ivan and I remember him endlessly sitting on my lap and having to feed him through a tube and having to deal with all of the difficulties of having a desperately ill child," Mr Cameron said.

"But the government mustn't tell the police how to act or what to do, nor can we interfere in processes in other countries.

Petition founder Ethan Dallas and family friend Sanjay Ganatra Ashya petition founder Ethan Dallas and family friend Sanjay Ganatra

"I just hope there is a rapid outbreak of common sense so the family can be reunited with this young boy and the best treatment can be given to him either in the UK or elsewhere."

Earlier Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg told Sky News it was a "heartbreaking" situation.

"I've got a five-year-old son and the idea of leaving him in a hospital with no contact with parents and siblings fills me, as I imagine it fills all parents, with horror," he said.

"I would like to see the family reunited and then hopefully people can calmly make a decision about what should happen next.

Meanwhile Portsmouth City Council Leader, Donna Jones, issued a statement calling for an end to the extradition proceedings.

Naveed King Ashya's brother Ashya's brother Naveed said the family had all the right medical equipment

"Like others who have been watching this upsetting case unfolding in the media, I have been moved by the plight of the King family and am most concerned about Ashya. I believe what he needs now is to be with his family," she said.

"That's why I am urging the CPS to urgently review the case involving Ashya King's parents and remove any extradition proceedings, so the family can be reunited with their five-year-old son."

A petition calling for the family to be reunited has also been handed in to Downing Street.

It has emerged that Ashya's parents are planning legal action against Southampton General Hospital.

However the hospital claims it had discussed options for alternative proton beam therapy with the family at a facility in Prague.

ASHYA KING AND BRETT KING Brett King defended the family's decision in a video posted online

"We were willing to support the family's transfer to Prague for proton beam radiotherapy, although we did not recommend it," a spokesperson for University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust said.

Over the weekend a spokesman for the hospital said that "our priority has always been Ashya's welfare".

British police officers are understood to be in Spain to question Ashya's parents.

Hampshire Police's Assistant Chief Constable Chris Shead said he was aware the police's approach had led to a "significant amount of debate" but he would rather be criticised for "being proactive" than "potentially having to explain why a child has lost his life".

Simon Hayes, Police and Crime Commissioner for Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, said: "Hampshire Constabulary's role, as in many other cases, was to safeguard the interests of a very vulnerable sick young child and find Ashya."

Ashya's grandmother Patricia King has accused the authorities of treating the couple "like murderers".

Patricia King earlier said her son was selling his holiday home in Spain to pay for proton beam therapy, which costs an average of £100,000 per person.

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Muslim Leaders Issue Fatwa Against IS Britons

Written By andika jamanta on Minggu, 31 Agustus 2014 | 20.50

Muslim leaders have reportedly issued a fatwa condemning Britons who fight for extremists in Iraq and Syria.

The fatwa, which The Sunday Times newspaper said had been issued by imams, is the strongest denunciation yet by the Muslim community of UK citizens who join militants of the self-proclaimed Islamic State, formerly known as ISIL and ISIS.

It comes as former Liberal Democrat leader Paddy Ashdown accused Conservative ministers of "kneejerk" responses to the terrorism threat from extremists - and the US carried out airstrikes against IS fighters near Amerli in northern Iraq.

Air drops were also made to civilians in the area, including two by British Hercules aircraft, as the Iraqi army evacuated people from the besieged town as Iraqi and Kurdish forces closed in on IS fighters.

British jihadis A number of Britons are known to have joined Islamic State militants

The UK Government has raised the terror threat to Britain from "substantial" to "severe", although Home Secretary Theresa May said there was no evidence to suggest an attack was "imminent".

Issued by a learned Muslim scholar, a fatwa is an edict that may concern any aspect of Islamic life.

Technically it cannot be revoked and dies only with the person it is imposed on.

The Sunday Times reported six senior Islamic scholars have endorsed the fatwa, describing Britons allied to Islamic State cells as "heretics".

According to the newspaper, the fatwa says Muslims have a "moral obligation" to help those in war-torn Syria and Iraq, but that they should do so "without betraying their own societies".

Lord Ashdown Lord Ashdown said the terror threat should be countered 'without panic'

The term fatwa rose to prominence in the West in 1989 after the author Salman Rushdie was forced into hiding after having a "death fatwa" issued against him.

It was imposed by Ayatollah Khomeni, then Supreme Leader of Iran, who said Rushdie's book, The Satanic Verses, had "insulted" Islam.

Meanwhile, Lord Ashdown has argued in an article for The Observer that the current terror threat to the UK is one "one we have faced before and one we know how to deal with - effectively, without panic and without a whole new range of executive powers which could endanger our liberties".

"Indeed, when it comes to facing threats, it was surely far more difficult to cope with IRA terrorists slipping across the Irish Sea than it is to stop jihadis returning from Iraq," he wrote.

He said Prime Minister David Cameron had initially seemed to be keen to avoid a rushed response.

But he argued Tory ministers had recently "indulged in a spasm of kneejerking which would have made even St Vitus feel concerned".

"And Labour, frightened as always when it comes to liberty and security, capitulates to the demand."

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Iraq: RAF Drops Aid As Amerli Siege 'Broken'

Iraqi forces and Shia militiamen have reportedly broken the two-month Islamic State (IS) siege of the northern town of Amerli.

The development came as it emerged that RAF planes have helped to drop vital humanitarian aid to residents in the town.

Iraqi army spokesman Lieutenant General Qassim al Moussawi said forces have "reached" the Shia Turkmen town, but gave no further details.

Turkmen lawmaker Fawzi Akram al Tarzi said the forces, which also included Kurdish peshmerga fighters, entered the town from two directions.

They were now distributing aid to residents, he said.

Mayor of Amerli, Adel al Bayati said: "Security forces and militia fighters are inside Amerli now after breaking the siege and that will definitely relieve the suffering of residents."

Resident Amir Ismael told the Reuters news agency: "I can see the tanks of the Iraqi army patrolling Amerli's street now.

Women and children are evacuated in a military helicopter by Iraqi forces from Amerli, north of Baghdad Women and children are evacuated in a military helicopter by Iraqi forces

"I'm very happy we got rid of the Islamic State terrorists who were threatening to slaughter us."

Around 15,000 Shia Turkmens have been stranded in the farming community, where residents faced major shortages of food and water.

They were also in danger because of their Shia faith, which jihadists consider heresy, and their resistance to the militants, which has drawn harsh retribution elsewhere.

The UN envoy to Iraq warned the people there faced a "possible massacre" by IS fighters after they encircled the town.

Fighting is continuing to the north of Amerli, which is 105 miles (170km) north of Baghdad.

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon told Sky News two Hercules aircraft participated in a "big" aid drop on Saturday.

Iraqi security forces and Turkmen Shiite fighters, who volunteered to join the government forces, hold a position on August 4, 2014 in Amerli. Troops reportedly entered the town from two directions

"The RAF dropped 14 tonnes of food and water there for a Shia population there that's been completely besieged," Mr Fallon told the Murnaghan programme.

Aircraft from the US, France and Australia also took part and the US conducted three airstrikes against the militants near the town.

Mr Fallon added the UK has not been asked to participate in military action.

Speaking on the Murnaghan programme, Mr Fallon said the UK will "look at any further action the Iraqi government thinks will help".

But he ruled out deploying combat troops.

"We have been involved in ferrying supplies of arms as well as non-lethal equipment from eastern European countries - the Peshmerga, the Kurdish forces, tend to use eastern European equipment and ammunition," he said.

"We have been involved in transporting supplies and we will continue to look favourably on any requests to do that."

He said the UK was "helping in any way we can at the moment".

"We are helping with humanitarian aid, we are helping with surveillance, we are helping with counter-terrorism, we are supporting the (Prime Minister designate Haider al) Abadi government, we are helping internationally."

International Development Secretary Justine Greening said: "The UK's humanitarian response has been swift and effective.

"When people depend on our support and protection to survive, we will continue to take action."

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Ashya's Parents Wanted Proton Beam Treatment

The parents of Ashya King have said they removed him from a Southampton hospital because they were unable to get a specialist treatment on the NHS.

In a YouTube video, Brett King said they were hoping to get to the Czech Republic to seek proton beam radiotherapy for their five-year-old son.

The treatment is currently only available to treat eye conditions on the NHS in the UK, but is already being used by European countries and in the US for a range of cancers in adults and children.

It differs from X-ray methods by focusing proton beams more precisely at cancer cells, with doses aimed directly at the tumour, and spares the healthy tissue and organs behind it.

ASHYA KING AND BRETT KING Ashya's parents were arrested on Saturday near Marbella, Spain

Speaking in the video, Mr King said: "It zones in on the area, whereby normal radiation passes through his head and comes out the other side and destroys everything in his head.

"We pleaded with them (in Southampton) for proton beam treatment. They looked at me straight in the face and said with his cancer - which is called medulloblastoma - it would have no benefit whatsoever."

Ros Barnes, whose son Alex went to the US after he was unable to get beam therapy in the UK for his brain tumour, said she would do the same thing as Ashya's family.

She told Sky News: "We were told the same thing, that Alex's tumour wasn't suitable for proton therapy by the NHS here in this country.

Pics: Naveed King His family want him to receive proton beam treatment in the Czech Republic

"The alternative here was radiotherapy, and he was only four years old at the time it would have caused extreme brain damage and probably wouldn't have worked either. So yes, I would have done the same as this family.

"They wanted us to have the operation here and for him to have radiotherapy, but he would have been blind, brain damaged and in a wheelchair, if he survived, and his prognosis was terrible."

David Langton-Gilks died in 2012 aged 16 from the same medulloblastoma after receiving treatment at the same Southampton General Hospital.

His mother Sacha said more research was desperately needed into the disease.

The search for Ashya King Ashya is now in a children's hospital

She said: "I did not want to hear what they had to say, often, and I wanted to run away. You could hear the planes going over the hospital from the airport behind you could see the ferries leaving from the children's cancer ward.

"And it's like - 'get us out of here, this just can't be right for children, surely there's a better way?'

"Unfortunately, the only better way is research... we've got to get better treatments for these children because what's available now is limited, it has horrendous side effects and I'm so sorry for the Kings."

Professor Justin Stebbing, consultant oncologist at Imperial College in London, told Sky News trials on proton beam treatment had yet to be completed.

A Department of Health spokesperson said: "Decisions on treatment for individual patients are made by doctors who are best placed to know what their patient needs.

"We are investing £250m in new proton beam therapy facilities, in Manchester and in London, and more people are being funded to go overseas until facilities are available in the UK."

A spokesperson for NHS England added the NHS supported 99 children to travel abroad last year for proton beam therapy. The treatment costs an average £100,000 per patient, it added.

The only current proton beam facility is in Clatterbridge Centre for Cancer NHS Foundation Trust in Liverpool.

Ashya's parents are facing extradition to the UK after they were arrested in Malaga at 9pm UK time on Saturday.

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Ashya's Parents Face Extradition To The UK

The parents of Ashya King, who was taken out of hospital against medical advice, face being extradited to the UK after being arrested in Spain.

Police say officers in the Malaga area pulled over the family's car at 9pm UK time on Saturday and found the five-year-old and his parents inside after a tip-off from a staff member at the hotel in which they were staying.

The boy from Portsmouth, who underwent "extensive surgery" during an operation on his brain tumour seven days ago at Southampton General Hospital, was taken to a hospital in the local area.

Sky sources in Spain said he was in a stable condition, adding there was no prospect of him being transferred to another hospital.

Assistant Chief Constable Chris Shead, of Hampshire Constabulary, said his parents, Brett King, 51, and Naghemeh King, 45, were in custody after being arrested on a European arrest warrant.

The search for Ashya King An international search was launched after Ashya was taken on Thursday

In response to criticism about the force's actions, he said: "Faced with the situation that we were, we had medical experts telling us Ashya was in grave danger... if he didn't get the care that he needed there was a potential threat to his life.

"So I make no apologies for being as proactive in this investigation as we have been.

"There are no winners in this situation. I've said all along that this must be a terribly distressing time for Ashya's family."

He said it was too soon to say when Ashya would come back to the UK, but said Southampton General Hospital was liaising with doctors taking care of him in Spain.

Mr Shead said a team of Hampshire police officers would be arriving in Spain later to continue the investigation, with proceedings to extradite Mr and Mrs King to the UK expected to start on Monday.

Figaro French media had picked up the story after Ashya was taken from hospital

The arrests came as footage emerged on video-sharing website YouTube in which Ashya's father, a Jehovah's Witness, insisted they had taken him from hospital to seek a cancer treatment not available on the NHS.

"We were much disturbed today to find that his face is all over the internet and newspapers and we've been labelled as kidnappers, putting his life at risk, neglect," he said.

"As you can see, there's nothing wrong with him. He's very happy actually, since we took him out of hospital."

He said he had spoken to specialists after Ashya's surgery and had requested proton beam treatment, which was not available on the NHS.

The search for Ashya King Ashya is now being cared for in a Spanish hospital

"We pleaded with them for proton beam treatment. They looked at me straight in the face and said with his cancer - which is called medulloblastoma - it would have no benefit whatsoever," he said.

"I went straight back to my room and looked it up and the American sites and French sites and Switzerland sites where they have proton beam said the opposite, it would be very beneficial for him."

A spokesman for University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust said it had offered the family access to a second opinion, as well as assistance with organising treatment abroad.

A spokesperson for NHS England said: "Where doctors recommend it, the NHS does fund Proton Beam Therapy including supporting 99 children last year to travel abroad for treatment."

In a Facebook message, Naveed King said a fundraising campaign for his brother Ashya had been launched and asked those wishing to contribute to send their donations to a PayPal account at naveedgamer@gmail.com.

Jehovah's Witnesses refuse blood transfusions on religious grounds but are open to other medical procedures.

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MP Douglas Carswell Quits Tories For UKIP

Written By andika jamanta on Kamis, 28 Agustus 2014 | 20.49

Conservative MP Douglas Carswell has announced he is defecting from the Tories and joining UKIP.

The MP For Clacton in Essex said he made the decision because he believes UKIP is the only party that can break up the "cosy Westminster elite".

Flanked by his new party leader Nigel Farage, Mr Carswell was cheered by supporters as he said he would take the unusual step of resigning from Parliament and fight to win back his seat for UKIP in a by-election.

Mr Farage told his latest recruit: "I think what you've just done is without doubt the bravest, most honourable and noblest thing I've seen in British politics in my lifetime."

The Prime Minister responds to the killing of James Foley David Cameron, who is in Scotland, was not told about his MP's decision

Mr Carswell was scathing in his criticism of David Cameron and his Government - accusing the Prime Minister of being insincere in his vow to reform Britain's relationship with Europe.

He said he had not told the PM of his decision to vacate the seat - which has a Conservative majority of more than 12,000 - in advance.  

Speaking to Sky News moments after the announcement, he said: "I don't think they're serious about the change this country needs. This country needs serious political reform.

"They're not serious about making government accountable to Parliament and Parliament accountable to the people."

He added: "I know David Cameron is not serious because I've heard him say it."

He admitted that he could lose the by-election but said he would trust the voters to make their own decision.

Nigel Farage insisted Mr Carswell was not the only sitting MP who backed his policies.

He told Sky News: "I've spoken to people in the Conservative Party and the Labour Party who do not want Britain to be borderless, who think this is doing great damage to the working opportunities of people in Britain.

"I don't think Douglas Carswell is going to be considered an isolated eccentric - there are other MPs out there considering their options."

A Conservative Party spokesman said: "This is a regrettable and frankly counterproductive decision.

"As he's said, the only way to get a referendum on the EU is to return a majority Conservative government.

"The Conservative Party will contest the forthcoming by-election vigorously to make the people in Clacton have a strong conservative voice in this parliament and the next."

William Hague, the Conservative Leader of the Commons, said Mr Carswell's decision would be " totally counter-productive".

Tory MP Bill Cash - a standard-bearer for the eurosceptic cause - told Sky Mr Carswell's move was a "monumental misjudgement".

Sky News Political Editor Faisal Islam said: "This is precisely the sort of move that turns what might have been called a protest vote in May into something more substantial.

"Douglas Carswell is known for his views on Europe but he's also popular for a variety of reasons.

"The Prime Minister's up in Glasgow trying to keep the Union together and now he's trying to stitch his party together.

"And the old Conservative problem of Europe raises its head again, at the worst possible time."

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Ukraine: Russia Has 'Entered' The Country

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko says Russian troops have entered the country in support of pro-Moscow separatists.

He has cancelled a working trip to Turkey and called an emergency meeting of Ukraine's security and defence council.

Mr Poroshenko said it followed "the rapidly deteriorating situation in Donetsk region, in particular in Amvrosiyivka and Starobesheve, as Russian troops have entered Ukraine".

Earlier the defence council said the border town of Novoazovsk and other parts of Ukraine's south-east had fallen under the control of Russian forces who were staging a counter-offensive with rebels.

Armoured vehicles seen three kilometres from Russian border with Ukraine Convoy of armoured Russian vehicles seen two miles from the Ukraine border

"A counter-offensive by Russian troops and separatist units is continuing in south-east Ukraine," the council said in a post on Twitter.

It said Ukrainian government forces had withdrawn from Novoazovsk "to save their lives" and were now reinforcing troops in the port city of Mariupol.

It added that Russian forces and separatists were combining to launch attacks on Ilovaysk and Shakhtarsk, east of Donetsk.

An Ukrainian serviceman shoots during fighting with pro-Russian separatists in the eastern Ukrainian town of Ilovaysk A Ukrainian serviceman exchanges fire with rebels

Ukraine's Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of having "deliberately unleashed a war in Europe" and called for an emergency UN Security Council meeting.

He also appealed to the United States, European Union and G7 countries "to freeze Russian assets and finances until Russia withdraws armed forces, equipment and agents".

Strategic high point of Savur-Mohyla, east of Donetsk, Ukraine A strategic high point east of Donetsk taken by separatist rebels

Russia denies arming the rebels and sending troops across the border, and has declined to comment on reports of Russian tanks in Novoazovsk.

"The Russian authorities clearly said many times there are no regular Russian troops there. Russia is not taking part in this armed conflict," said a Russian diplomatic source.

However, the US ambassador to Ukraine has said Russian troops have been directly involved in the fighting.

"An increasing number of Russian troops are intervening directly in fighting on Ukrainian territory," Geoffrey Pyatt wrote on Twitter.

"Russia has also sent its newest air defence systems including the SA-22 into eastern Ukraine and is now directly involved in the fighting."

On Wednesday a top rebel leader, Alexander Zakharchenko, admitted Russian troops were fighting alongside his insurgents, but said they were on "holiday" after volunteering to join the battle.

A group of Russian servicemen attend a news conference in Kiev Russian paratroopers captured in Ukraine on Monday

Zakharchenko, prime minister of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic, told Reuters there were about 3,000 Russian volunteers serving in the rebel ranks.

Nato has said there could be well over 1,000 Russian soldiers operating inside Ukraine.

The spiralling tensions come two days after Mr Poroshenko and Mr Putin held their first talks in three months and agreed to work towards launching a peace process.

Russian President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with his Ukrainian counterpart Petro Poroshenko in Minsk Mr Putin and Mr Poroshenko at the talks in Minsk on Tuesday

The day before Ukraine captured 10 Russian paratroopers around Amvrosiivka, a town about 12 miles (20km) from the border with Russia.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has demanded an explanation from Mr Putin about the alleged involvement of Russian troops in Ukraine, while French President Francois Hollande has said it would be "intolerable and unacceptable".

The European security body OSCE had begun a special meeting to discuss "Russia violations in Ukraine" just hours before the latest developments. 

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