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Trent Alexander-Arnold is turning into the heartbeat of the Liverpool side… the sky is the limit for the ‘Scouser in the team’ who is more crucial than ever for club and country

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With new Adidas Predators on his feet, Trent Alexander-Arnold is turning into quite the predator in a goal-scoring sense, too. Since signing a £26million boot deal with the German manufacturers, Liverpool’s vice-captain has put in two mercurial performances and scored two goals.

Alexander-Arnold will argue that he has scored three goals, mind. He was cruelly denied one in Liverpool’s from-behind win against Fulham on Sunday as his near-perfect free-kick bounced in off goalkeeper Bernd Leno’s head.

But there was no need to convene the Dubious Goals Panel for the other two strikes, both clean shots from distance. First, he salvaged a vital away point at champions and league leaders – at the time – Manchester City, then scored a last-gasp winner in a seven-goal thriller.

Those two strikes have earned Liverpool three points, a valuable draw on the road and a victory snatched from the jaws of defeat when Marco Silva’s Fulham threatened to pull off one of the greatest smash-and-grab wins in recent memory. Those points could be pivotal in the title race.

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Fulham would have been the first side since late October 2022 to win at Anfield in the league, after Leeds, but instead the Kop was left toasting to Alexander-Arnold and chanting about ‘the Scouser in the team’, with the local lad lapping up all the praise that came his way.

Trent Alexander-Arnold is turning into one of Liverpool's most fearsome goalscorers

Trent Alexander-Arnold is turning into one of Liverpool's most fearsome goalscorers

Trent Alexander-Arnold is turning into one of Liverpool’s most fearsome goalscorers

Alexander-Arnold's recent goals have helped Liverpool in crucial matches this season

Alexander-Arnold's recent goals have helped Liverpool in crucial matches this season

Alexander-Arnold’s recent goals have helped Liverpool in crucial matches this season

That ‘Scouser in the team’ is now more crucial than ever to success for both Liverpool and England this year, with him maturing into a leader on and off the field after spending time in the off-season plotting how to start a new personal cycle of success for club and country.

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Alexander-Arnold chose to go to an individual training camp in Portland, Oregon in the summer and spent time reflecting on how to improve. His general target for the season was to play a pivotal role in returning Liverpool to glory, and also leading England to Euro 2024 success.

He often has the maturity to proactively reach out to coaches and ask them for advice, with Gareth Southgate and assistant Steve Holland on that list. Klopp and right-hand man Pepijn Lijnders have also been crucial in giving guidance, with Alexander-Arnold a studious player.

Both Klopp and Southgate have told the player that he will be integrated into more of a creative role in the coming year or so, which is reflected in Alexander-Arnold being named as a ‘midfielder’ on official documents when England name their squads for international camps.

It is not just Liverpool and England who see Alexander-Arnold as a global star. Adidas recently signed him up on a multi-year deal to make him one of the faces of their next generation alongside Jude Bellingham and Barcelona’s Pedri. He will get his own signature range of boots.

He knew he could improve leadership attributes, too. During a training session at the Singapore National Stadium in July, Klopp called Alexander-Arnold over for a quick chat. The full-back thought it would be about tactics but, instead, he was told he was to be the new vice-captain.

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From that point on, the boyhood Liverpool fan knew he had to step up. He was already an influential figure in the dressing room but Alexander-Arnold has spent time working on his leadership qualities this season, taking on an unofficial mentoring role for younger stars.

On the pitch, the 25-year-old is growing as a midfield maestro. It would be amiss to ignore that his strolls into central areas sometimes leave Liverpool slightly exposed on their right flank. On Sunday, 44.8 per cent of Fulham’s attacks came down that side, a clear game-plan from Silva.

The Englishman's strike against Fulham snatched victory for Liverpool at Anfield

The Englishman's strike against Fulham snatched victory for Liverpool at Anfield

The Englishman’s strike against Fulham snatched victory for Liverpool at Anfield

Alexander-Arnold has been wearing the new Adidas Predators for Liverpool recently

Alexander-Arnold has been wearing the new Adidas Predators for Liverpool recently

Alexander-Arnold has been wearing the new Adidas Predators for Liverpool recently

But the qualities Alexander-Arnold brings in an attacking and play-making sense almost outweigh the defensive frailties it might cause in Liverpool’s system. He had 102 touches against Fulham and dictated play from the middle.

‘He is the heartbeat of the team, he has a bit of Steven Gerrard and Xabi Alonso about him,’ said Jermaine Jenas on Match of the Day 2, with fellow pundit Leon Osman adding that it could be time for Alexander-Arnold to move to a full-time midfielder.

Playing in midfield is nothing new for the boy who often featured there for Liverpool’s youth teams. But after excelling in an attacking sense from full-back, there is a real feeling he can form a formidable trio with Declan Rice and Jude Bellingham in Germany next summer.

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He has begun starring for the Reds in midfield since being deployed in a more creative role

He has begun starring for the Reds in midfield since being deployed in a more creative role

He has begun starring for the Reds in midfield since being deployed in a more creative role

Many former youth coaches speak of Alexander-Arnold’s ability to absorb information and learn from mistakes. Lijnders and Holland have spent a generous amount of time on training pitches helping him understand the tactical nuances of the game.

‘When he has the ball at his feet and he is free he can put the ball wherever he wants,’ said captain Virgil van Dijk on Alexander-Arnold. ‘That is a big quality, we all know that and opponents know it as well.’

Alexander-Arnold knows that, at 25, he is still young and has plenty of areas to improve on. But as the Match of the Day 2 pundits agreed, he is turning into the heartbeat of Liverpool’s team, and he can follow suit for England, too. For both club and country, the sky is the limit.

IT’S ALL KICKING OFF! 

It’s All Kicking Off is an exciting new podcast from Mail Sport that promises a different take on Premier League football.

It is available on MailOnline, Mail+, YouTube, Apple Music and Spotify.

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Northern Lights light up skies across the UK for the second night in a row – and the Met Office says they could be visible again tonight

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Skygazers had yet another chance to tick off one of the greatest natural sights from their bucket list last night – the Northern Lights.

For the second night running, the spectacular light display was visible in the UK after dusk. 

Viewers have been posting their photos to X (formerly Twitter), including one based in Moffat in Dumfriesshire, Scotland, who called the display ‘stunning’. 

Another viewer on west coast of Lewis in the Scottish Highlands posted: ‘It happened again!’ with the aurora shining purple and green. 

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If you missed the stunning display, there’s good news as the Met Office says there’s a chance the Northern Lights will be visible again tonight.  

This photo was posted to X by user @moffat_wigwams showing the aurora as seen from Moffat in Dumfriesshire, Scotland

This photo was posted to X by user @moffat_wigwams showing the aurora as seen from Moffat in Dumfriesshire, Scotland

This photo was posted to X by user @moffat_wigwams showing the aurora as seen from Moffat in Dumfriesshire, Scotland

The Northern Lights: A stunning natural light display  

The Northern and Southern Lights (auroras) are natural light spectacles.

The displays light up when electrically charged particles from the sun enter Earth’s atmosphere. 

Usually the particles are deflected by Earth’s magnetic field, but during stronger storms they enter the atmosphere and collide with gas particles such as hydrogen and helium.

These collisions emit light in many amazing colours, although pale green and pink are common. 

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An aurora is created by disturbances in Earth’s magnetosphere due to a flow of particles from the sun and is usually centred around the Earth’s magnetic poles. 

The charged particles are expelled from the sun at top speeds before interacting with Earth’s magnetic field.

The colour display depends in part on what molecules the charged particles interact with.

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Red and green colours tend to be hallmarks of oxygen, pink and red the signs of nitrogen with blue and purple being the results of hydrogen and helium.

According to the Met Office, this week’s aurora stems from a coronal mass ejection (CME) – a massive expulsion of plasma from the sun’s corona, its outermost layer. 

It’s possible the display could be visible yet again tonight due to the violent expulsion event although the further north you are the better. 

A Met Office animation shows the auroral oval around the northern hemisphere, which marks where exactly the best chance of seeing the light display is until Friday.

‘A coronal mass ejection (CME) has a chance to affect Earth on Thursday 7th March,’ the Met Office says in a new statement. 

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‘There is a chance that aurora could become visible from Scotland and similar geomagnetic latitudes. 

‘Similar enhancements to the auroral oval are slightly more likely to occur on Friday night.’ 

Pictured, the auroral oval around the northern hemisphere, which marks where exactly the best chance of seeing the light display is

Pictured, the auroral oval around the northern hemisphere, which marks where exactly the best chance of seeing the light display is

Pictured, the auroral oval around the northern hemisphere, which marks where exactly the best chance of seeing the light display is

Twitter user @KmunityOfEquals shared this photo of the aurora from Cornwall on Sunday night

Twitter user @KmunityOfEquals shared this photo of the aurora from Cornwall on Sunday night

Twitter user @KmunityOfEquals shared this photo of the aurora from Cornwall on Sunday night

A F-35B Lightning jet is parked at a flight deck of HMS Prince of Wales aircraft carrier of the Royal Navy, under the northern lights near the coast of Norway, Sunday, March 3, 2024

A F-35B Lightning jet is parked at a flight deck of HMS Prince of Wales aircraft carrier of the Royal Navy, under the northern lights near the coast of Norway, Sunday, March 3, 2024

A F-35B Lightning jet is parked at a flight deck of HMS Prince of Wales aircraft carrier of the Royal Navy, under the northern lights near the coast of Norway, Sunday, March 3, 2024

Members of the public have already shared photos from Sunday night when the Northern Lights was visible in Wiltshire, Merseyside, Lancashire and even Cornwall. 

According to the Met Office, people with a decent camera should be able to capture decent shots of the aurora further south even when it’s not visible with the naked eye.

‘Cameras help as the long exposure allows loads of light in and enhances the colours more than the human eye can see,’ a spokesperson said. 

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‘That is why you see pictures as far south as Cornwall sometimes though you’re unlikely to ever be able to see it with the naked eye that far south.’

The Northern Lights have fascinated scientists and skygazers for centuries, but the science behind it has not always been well understood.

Earth has an invisible forcefield, the magnetosphere, that protects us from dangerous charged particles from the Sun, controlled by the magnetic field.

Expert Marty Jopson explains: ‘Whilst it shelters us, it also creates one of the most impressive phenomena on Earth – the Northern Lights.’

Stonehenge in Wiltshire with the Northern Lights on Sunday March 3, the first big show of the aurora of 2024 in the UK

Stonehenge in Wiltshire with the Northern Lights on Sunday March 3, the first big show of the aurora of 2024 in the UK

Stonehenge in Wiltshire with the Northern Lights on Sunday March 3, the first big show of the aurora of 2024 in the UK

The Northern Lights is most commonly seen over places closer to the Arctic Circle such as Scandinavia and Alaska , so any sighting over the UK is a treat for skygazers. Pictured, Naworth Castle in Cumbria, March 3, 2024

The Northern Lights is most commonly seen over places closer to the Arctic Circle such as Scandinavia and Alaska , so any sighting over the UK is a treat for skygazers. Pictured, Naworth Castle in Cumbria, March 3, 2024

The Northern Lights is most commonly seen over places closer to the Arctic Circle such as Scandinavia and Alaska , so any sighting over the UK is a treat for skygazers. Pictured, Naworth Castle in Cumbria, March 3, 2024

This one of the aurora on Sunday night over the Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland was posted to Twitter by John O'Neill

This one of the aurora on Sunday night over the Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland was posted to Twitter by John O'Neill

This one of the aurora on Sunday night over the Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland was posted to Twitter by John O’Neill 

Stunning: The aurora borealis at Rhossili Bay, Gower, Wales, taken on Sunday March 3, 2024

Stunning: The aurora borealis at Rhossili Bay, Gower, Wales, taken on Sunday March 3, 2024

Stunning: The aurora borealis at Rhossili Bay, Gower, Wales, taken on Sunday March 3, 2024

‘When the deadly solar winds meet Earth’s magnetosphere, some of the charged particles get trapped, and are propelled down the Earth’s magnetic field lines straight towards the poles.

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‘And when they reach Earth, they strike atoms and molecules in our atmosphere, releasing energy in the form of light.’

The problem is disruption to our magnetic field creates solar storms that can affect satellites in orbit, navigation systems, terrestrial power grids and data and communication networks.

‘Harmful space weather has affected Earth before, but as we become increasingly reliant on systems and technologies vulnerable to the Sun’s outbursts, future solar impacts could be even more disruptive,’ says the European Space Agency (ESA).

WHAT ARE AURORAS AND WHAT TRIGGERS THE STUNNING NATURAL DISPLAYS?

The Northern and Southern Lights are natural light spectacles triggered in our atmosphere that are also known as the ‘Auroras’.

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There are two types of Aurora – Aurora Borealis, which means ‘dawn of the north’, and Aurora Australis, ‘dawn of the south.’

The displays light up when electrically charged particles from the sun enter the Earth’s atmosphere. 

There are two types of Aurora - Aurora Borealis (file photo), which means 'dawn of the north', and Aurora Australis, 'dawn of the south.' The displays light up when electrically charged particles from the sun enter the Earth’s atmosphere

There are two types of Aurora - Aurora Borealis (file photo), which means 'dawn of the north', and Aurora Australis, 'dawn of the south.' The displays light up when electrically charged particles from the sun enter the Earth’s atmosphere

There are two types of Aurora – Aurora Borealis (file photo), which means ‘dawn of the north’, and Aurora Australis, ‘dawn of the south.’ The displays light up when electrically charged particles from the sun enter the Earth’s atmosphere

Usually the particles, sometimes referred to as a solar storm, are deflected by Earth’s magnetic field.

But during stronger storms they enter the atmosphere and collide with gas particles, including hydrogen and helium.

These collisions emit light. Auroral displays appear in many colours although pale green and pink are common.

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BUSINESS LIVE: Greggs eyes further growth; US rival to buy Spirent; IWG profits soar

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The FTSE 100 is down 0.4 per cent in early trading. Among the companies with reports and trading updates today are Greggs, Spirent Communications, IWG, Foxtons and Travis Perkins. Read the 5 March February Business Live blog below.

> If you are using our app or a third-party site click here to read Business Live 

Petrol prices record biggest jump in five months

The average price of petrol jumped by 4p a litre in February while diesel shot up by nearly 5p, making for the biggest monthly rise in five months, the RAC says.

A combination of oil rising above $80 dollars and the pound being worth just $1.26 (with oil traded in dollars) pushed wholesale costs higher for UK fuel retailers – costs that have been quickly passed to drivers with higher pump prices.

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Spirent Communications agrees £1bn takeover by US-based Viavi

Spirent Communications shares skyrocketed on Tuesday after the FTSE 250 firm agreed to be bought by US-based communications equipment firm Viavi Solutions.

The takeover will be worth £1billion for the UK telecom testing business with Spirent shareholders receiving 175p per share, reflecting a 61.4 per cent premium to the firm’s closing share price on Monday.

Greggs on course to double sales by 2026 as revenues soar to £1.8bn

Greggs has said it is on track to double turnover under an ongoing five-year strategy after achieving its strongest-ever performance in 2023.

The bakery chain, famous for its sausage rolls, reported total revenue rose by almost £300million to £1.8billion last year, with like-for-like sales in company-managed sites increasing by 13.7 per cent.

From Paris to Milan, our rivals are cashing in as the UK flounders

Hot on the heels of London Fashion Week, our rivals in Paris are wrapping up their own designer showcase.

The battle between iconic British and French fashion brands has a long history.

M&S leads calls to scrap the tourist tax at this week’s budget

Business leaders are making a last-ditch bid to persuade Jeremy Hunt to scrap the tourist tax in his Budget this week.

As the Chancellor puts the finishing touches to tomorrow’s statement, the boss of Marks & Spencer joined a leading London jeweller and an executive at the O2 music arena to call for VAT-free shopping for foreign visitors to be restored.

Scrap tourist tax to boost retail and hospitality, says ALEX BRUMMER

By now we should all have had our fill of possible tax changes to be outlined in tomorrow’s Spring Budget.

The Tories find themselves in a last chance saloon and the main economic escape route is tax giveaways.

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Greggs ups spending on growth plans

Mamta Valechha, equity research analyst at Quilter Cheviot:

‘Greggs reported strong profit numbers this morning, with profit before tax up 13% for the year, just slightly ahead of consensus. This follows its Q4 update provided in January where Q4 like for like sales also came in ahead of consensus at 9.4%.

‘This growth has been supported by market share gains from key strategic drivers including store openings, improved app participation, more stores opening into the evening, and delivery which is benefitting from the group’s partnerships with Uber Eats and Just Eat. With the balance sheet having been rapidly rebuilt, Greggs also announced a 40p special dividend today.

‘Greggs has had a strong start to 2024, with like for like sales up over 8% for the first nine weeks of the year. Cost inflation has come down and is expected to be between 4-5%, with 80% of energy requirement fixed for the year, and management has four months of forward cover on food and packaged goods.

‘The group also plans to increase manufacturing capacity at two of its sites in the Midlands, aiming to be operational by 2026/2027. As a result, capital expenditure is expected to be higher in 2024, and this will likely continue until 2026.’

Market open: FTSE 100 down 0.4%; FTSE 250 off 0.1%

The FTSE 100 has fallen to a near-three week low at the open, dragged down by Ashtead Group and commodity-linked shares, while telecommunications testing firm Spirent has surged nearly 60 per cent following a buyout deal.

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Shares of commodity majors such as BP, Shell and Glencore are down by about 1 per cent each as oil and metal prices dip on pledges by China to transform its economy amid stuttering growth since the pandemic failed to impress investors.

Ashtead has dropped 6.1 per cent to become the biggest loser in the FTSE 100, after the British equipment rental firm forecast full-year group rental revenue at the lower end of its 11 to 13 per cent growth range.

Shares of Spirent Communications jumped after US-based communications equipment firm Viavi Solutions Inc agreed to buy the British firm in a deal valued at about £1billion.

Inchcape is down 7.6 per cent after the car distributor said it expects’ moderated growth’ in the short term.

MARKET REPORT: EU fine wipes £70bn off the value of Apple

Nearly £70billion was wiped off the value of Apple after the US tech giant was fined £1.5billion by European regulators for violating laws on music streaming.

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The iPhone maker was accused of stopping streaming apps like Spotify from telling customers they can subscribe for cheaper if they do not use Apple’s App Store.

Can the Budget help keep Britain’s pubs open?

As Jeremy Hunt prepares to deliver what could be his final budget as Chancellor this week, Britain’s pub industry remains in tremendous peril.

Closures continue to blight the sector; about 3,000 pubs have shut in the past six years, including 509 in 2023, according to the British Beer & Pub Association.

New HIV drug Cabotegravir that can be taken as little as three times a year boosts GSK

The battle against HIV received a boost after GSK reported data showing one of its drugs can be taken as little as three times a year.

ViiV Healthcare, the company’s HIV medicine arm, said a clinical trial of a new formulation of its long-acting treatment Cabotegravir had shown it could be taken ‘at least’ once every four months to provide protection against infection.

This is in stark contrast to most HIV prevention treatments, which require users to take tablets every day to protect themselves from the virus.

Hiscox profits hit record high

Lloyd’s of London insurer Hiscox posted a record annual profit, as rising interest rates and strength in its commercial business helped offset claims inflation and the effect of currency swings.

The London-listed company, which underwrites a range of risks from natural catastrophes to cyber attacks to kidnappings and art theft, said on Tuesday profit before tax for 2023 rose to $625.9million from $275.6 million a year earlier.

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Net insurance contract written premium for 2023 climbed 10.7 per cent to $3.56 billion.

Hiscox said retail outlook for 2024 was positive.

‘Greggs continues to show why it’s the UK’s leading food-to-go brand’

Matt Britzman, equity analyst, Hargreaves Lansdown:

‘Greggs continues to show why it’s the UK’s leading food-to-go brand (YouGov’s Brand Index). This is a business intent on growing, aiming to surpass 3,000 UK shops while enhancing its multi-channel approach for better service.

‘Digital channels are booming, with delivery sales up 23.6% last year following partnerships with Just Eat and Uber Eats. Greggs is extending hours to capture more of the evening market and bolstering its brand to both deepen loyalty and attract new customers.

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‘Greggs is far more than just a treat, and its value offering puts it in a sweet spot with consumers still battling higher living costs. Maintaining that price point is key, and with cost inflation easing Greggs is making sure customers feel the benefit too. That’s likely to be a small drag on sales growth this year compared to last, but there are plenty of other growth avenues to target.

‘Investors don’t have to sit and wait while the growth strategy plays out. Greggs already boast a modest 2.6% forward yield and today’s special dividend is further evidence that the board’s keen to pay investors while it expands.’

IWG profits soar on office demand rebound

Global office rental firm IWG’s annual core profits rocketed 34 per cent last year, buoyed by increased demand for its flexible working spaces and pricing strength.

The London-listed owner of the Spaces and Regus brands said core profit came in at £403million for the year to 31 December, beating market expectations of a £398million return.

‘We enter 2024 continuing our momentum from 2023 as we continue to grow our customer base, our global partnerships and our best-in-class network.

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‘While 2023 was a record year for both revenue and network size, we continue to see significant growth potential. With 1.2 billion white-collar workers globally and a potential audience valued at more than $2 trillion, there is substantial room for growth and as a company, we have a laser-like focus on capturing more of this market over the coming months and years.’

Bitcoin and gold race towards record highs as investors bet on interest rate cuts

Bitcoin and gold raced towards record highs as investors bet on interest rate cuts this summer.

US rival to buy Spirent for £1bn

US-based communications equipment firm Viavi Solutions has agreed to buy British telecommunications testing firm Spirent Communications in a deal valued at about £1billion.

Spirent shareholders will get 175p per share, reflecting a 61.4 per cent premium to the firm’s closing share price on Monday.

Eric Updyke, Spirent CEO, said:

‘Spirent has undergone a period of significant transformation and growth over recent years and I am proud of the significant progress we have made, thanks to the efforts and commitment of our people. We have evolved our offering and routes to market to focus more on high-quality, high-growth, software-centric solutions and have become a mission critical partner to our customers in a more complex and digitised world.

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‘More recently, however, we have endured significant challenges due to the macro backdrop and the impact of this on our core end markets. These conditions are likely to continue for some time.

‘Combining with the Viavi Group brings together a highly complementary product offering which can be marketed globally. It will enable Spirent to build on the strategic progress we have made to date, with a partner that has the scale and resources to capitalise on the long-term growth opportunities ahead. The combination of the Viavi Group and the Spirent Group creates a stronger business that will be better able to compete in what remains a challenging market environment and we are confident in the opportunities this will bring for many of our stakeholders.’

KPMG fined £1.5m over ‘basic failings’ in its audit of advertising firm M&C Saatchi

KPMG has been fined £1.5million over ‘basic failings’ in its audit of advertising firm M&C Saatchi that emerged following an accounting fiasco in 2019.

Adrian Wilcox, a KPMG partner, was also fined £48,750 as a result of an investigation by the Financial Reporting Council (FRC), which regulates the accounting industry.

Greggs eyes further growth as profits jump 13%

Greggs expects further earnings growth in 2024 after underlying pre-tax profits came in 13 per cent higher at £168million for last year, lifted by extending its opening hours into the evening and expanding in food delivery.

The group famed for its sausage rolls posted underlying sales growth of 13.7 per cent for the year, and said a five year plan to double sales by 2026 was on track and it continued to target 3,000 outlets.

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It opened 220 new stores in 2023 bringing its estate to 2,473.

‘Reflecting on another year of rapid growth, I am so proud of how our teams have risen to the challenge of serving more customers through more channels.

‘Whether in our shops, our manufacturing sites, our distribution network, or in Greggs House, our teams stepped up to make sure that we kept pace with the increased customer demand as we delivered on our strategic growth plan.

‘We are very much on track to deliver our bold five-year growth plan to double sales by 2026 and to have significantly more than 3,000 shops in the UK over the longer term.’

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The UK’s rainiest seaside destinations revealed: Aultbea in Scotland is No.1 while Cardiff, Blackpool and Cornwall also feature in the top 20 ranking

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Some Britons will head to the beach come rain or shine.

But those who only venture to the seaside during moments of ‘shine’ should pay close attention to Met Office rainfall data that reveals the nation’s 20 rainiest seaside destinations. And taking the top spot? It’s Aultbea.

The fishing village, in the Scottish Highlands, has an average of 121mm of rainfall every month, with more than half the year – 209 days – seeing more than 1mm of daily rainfall.

Overall, five seaside spots in Scotland appear in the ranking as well as seven in Wales, three in Northern Ireland and five in England. Among them is Blackpool plus two popular beach towns in Devon and Cornwall.

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The ranking was drawn up from former BBC weather presenter Owain Wyn Evans’ analysis of the Met Office data in partnership with Sykes Holiday Cottages.

Analysis of Met Office data reveals that Aultbea, above, is the UK's rainiest coastal destination

Analysis of Met Office data reveals that Aultbea, above, is the UK's rainiest coastal destination

Analysis of Met Office data reveals that Aultbea, above, is the UK’s rainiest coastal destination

The Isle of Tiree (pictured) is second in the ranking, with 106mm of monthly average rainfall

The Isle of Tiree (pictured) is second in the ranking, with 106mm of monthly average rainfall

The Isle of Tiree (pictured) is second in the ranking, with 106mm of monthly average rainfall

Scotland takes all three spots of the undesirable winners’ podium, with the Isle of Tiree, Inner Hebrides, in second (106mm monthly average rainfall) and Lochboisdale, Outer Hebrides, in third (100mm).

The Scottish streak continues with Helensburgh, Argyll and Bute (137mm), in fourth, followed by Portrush in County Antrim, Northern Ireland, in fifth (81mm).

Rounding off the top ten is Fair Isle, Shetland, Scotland (sixth, 77mm); St Bees, Cumbria, England (seventh, 92mm); Cardiff, South Glamorgan, Wales (eighth, 100mm); Tenby, Pembrokeshire, Wales (ninth, 95mm); and Milford Haven, also in Pembrokeshire (tenth, 90mm).

Scotland's Lochboisdale in the Outer Hebrides takes the bronze, with an average monthly rainfall of 100mm

Scotland's Lochboisdale in the Outer Hebrides takes the bronze, with an average monthly rainfall of 100mm

Scotland’s Lochboisdale in the Outer Hebrides takes the bronze, with an average monthly rainfall of 100mm

Helensburgh in Argyll and Bute ranks fourth with 137mm of average monthly rainfall

Helensburgh in Argyll and Bute ranks fourth with 137mm of average monthly rainfall

Helensburgh in Argyll and Bute ranks fourth with 137mm of average monthly rainfall

Those planning a UK beach getaway might also want to steer clear of Cornwall’s popular seaside town of Bude.

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While Visit Cornwall says it’s ‘well known for its great beaches’ and ‘unique townscape’, it has an average monthly rainfall of 75mm, which puts it 17th in the ranking.

Other popular beach destinations on the list are England’s Slapton, Devon (19th, 93mm) and Blackpool, Lancashire (20th, 73mm).

Tenby in Pembrokeshire, Wales, is ninth with an average 95mm of rainfall each month

Tenby in Pembrokeshire, Wales, is ninth with an average 95mm of rainfall each month

Tenby in Pembrokeshire, Wales, is ninth with an average 95mm of rainfall each month

Cornwall's popular seaside town of Bude is 17th in the ranking

Cornwall's popular seaside town of Bude is 17th in the ranking

Cornwall’s popular seaside town of Bude is 17th in the ranking

On a sunnier note, the analysis shows that seaside towns are drier overall than the rest of the UK, getting an average 75mm of rainfall a month, compared to 97mm for the rest of the nation.

Moreover, separate research of 2,000 UK adults found that 72 per cent don’t let typical wet British weather get in the way of a good staycation.

And 61 per cent don’t think it would be a British holiday if it didn’t rain, with sightseeing (53 per cent), strolls along the pier (37 per cent), and tucking into fish and chips on the seafront (30 per cent) among the activities they would do regardless, according to the survey.

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Blackpool ranks 20th on the list, receiving an average 73mm of rainfall per month

Blackpool ranks 20th on the list, receiving an average 73mm of rainfall per month

Blackpool ranks 20th on the list, receiving an average 73mm of rainfall per month

Commenting on the findings, Evans, who is now a BBC Radio 2 DJ, said: ‘I love that even in the rain, holidaymakers will still embrace a Great British staycation.

‘Us Brits won’t let a bit of wet weather keep us indoors, and I’d argue some activities can even be better with a few raindrops.

‘Despite my experience as a weather presenter, the exact detail on rain, especially showers, can be hard to predict, so hopefully this analysis will give Brits some idea of what to expect and plan for if they’re heading to a seaside location this year.’

THE RAINIEST SEASIDE SPOTS IN THE UK 

1. Aultbea, Scottish Highlands: 121mm average rainfall per month

2. Tiree, Inner Hebrides: 106mm

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3. Lochboisdale, Outer Hebrides: 100mm

4. Helensburgh, Argyll and Bute: 137mm

5. Portrush, County Antrim: 81mm

6. Fair Isle, Shetland: 77mm

7. St Bees, Cumbria: 92mm

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8. Cardiff, South Glamorgan: 100mm

9. Tenby, Pembrokeshire: 95mm

10. Milford Haven, Pembrokeshire: 90mm 

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11. Killowen, County Down: 88mm

12. Morecambe, Lancashire: 88mm

13. St-Athan, The Vale of Glamorgan: 87mm

14. Mumbles Head, Swansea: 85mm

15. Helens Bay, County Down: 81mm

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16. Aberporth, Ceredigion: 77mm

17. Bude, Cornwall: 75mm

18. Slapton, Devon: 93mm

19. Aberdaron, Gwynedd: 76mm

20. Blackpool, Lancashire: 73mm 

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Source: Met Office / Sykes Holiday Cottages

 

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Iran executed ‘staggering total’ of 834 people last year, say rights groups

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Iran executed a “staggering” total of at least 834 people last year, the highest number since 2015 as capital punishment surged in the Islamic republic, two rights groups said Tuesday.

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The number of executions, which Iran has carried out by hanging in recent years, was up some 43 percent on 2022.

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It marked only the second time in two decades that over 800 executions were recorded in a year, after 972 executions in 2015, Norway-based Iran Human Rights (IHR) and Paris-based Together Against the Death Penalty said in the joint report.

The groups accused Iran of using the death penalty to spread fear throughout society in the wake of the protests sparked by the September 2022 death in police custody of Mahsa Amini that shook the authorities.

“Instilling societal fear is the regime’s only way to hold on to power, and the death penalty is its most important instrument,” said IHR director Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam in the report, which described the figure of 834 as a “staggering total”.

Iran has executed nine men in cases linked to attacks on security forces during the 2022 protests — two in 2022, six in 2023 and one so far in 2024 — according to the rights groups.

But executions have been stepped up on other charges, notably in drug-related cases, which had until recent years seen a fall.

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“Of particular concern is the dramatic escalation in the number of drug-related executions in 2023, which rose to 471 people, more than 18 times higher than the figures recorded in 2020,” said the report.

Members of ethnic minorities, notably the Sunni Baluch from the southeast of Iran, are “grossly overrepresented amongst those executed” on drug-related charges, it said.

At least 167 members of the Baluch minority were executed in total, accounting for 20 percent of the total executions in 2023, even though the minority accounts for only around five percent of Iran’s population.

Read moreIran’s Baloch population leads anti-regime protests six months after Mahsa Amini’s death

ECPM director Raphael Chenuil-Hazan said the “lack of reaction” by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) was sending “the wrong signal to the Iranian authorities”.

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Most hangings in Iran are carried out within the confines of prison but the report said that in 2023 the number of hangings carried out in public in Iran tripled from 2022, with seven people hanged in public spaces.

At least 22 women were executed, marking the highest number in the past decade, the report said.

Fifteen of them were hanged on murder charges and NGOs have long warned that women who kill an abusive partner or relative risk being hanged.

In 2023, only 15 percent of the recorded executions were announced by official Iranian media, with IHR confirming the other executions with its own sources.

Amiry-Moghaddam expressed concern that a lack of international outrage at the executions, in particular with attention focused on the Gaza war between Israel and Hamas, was only encouraging the Islamic republic to carry out more hangings.

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“The inconsistency in the international community’s reaction to the executions in Iran is unfortunate and sends the wrong signal to the authorities,” he said.

(AFP) 

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Inside the UK’s battle with pregabalin: How addiction fears over opioids and benzos left country sleepwalking towards unfolding fiasco with ‘Valium on steroids’ – as map reveals areas where up to one in 25 residents are given powerful anti-anxiety pills

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Mounting fears over opioids and benzodiazepines have seen doctors increasingly dole out a supposedly ‘safer’ painkiller to Brits battling anxiety, epilepsy and nerve pain.

Yet evidence now suggests pregabalin, widely thought to be less addictive than its alternatives, may be just as dangerous.

Tens of thousands of Brits take the prescription-only drug, nicknamed ‘Valium on steroids’ and the ‘new Xanax’ by doctors aware of its powerful effects. 

NHS chiefs themselves acknowledge it can make users feel like a ‘zombie’. 

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Amid rising prescription rates, MailOnline analysis shows that one in 25 residents in parts of the country are now taking gabapentinoids — a family of pain medications that includes pregabalin.

This is despite campaigners calling for guidelines of ‘GABAs’ to be changed so their usage is restricted because of their addictive nature, just like with benzos. 

Drugs like Valium, one of the most recognised types of benzo, already have similar safety nets because of their widely-established risks and dependency fears.

Last week, Peaky Blinders star Paul Anderson (pictured), 48, was fined after pleading guilty to possession of drugs, including pregabalin

Last week, Peaky Blinders star Paul Anderson (pictured), 48, was fined after pleading guilty to possession of drugs, including pregabalin

Last week, Peaky Blinders star Paul Anderson (pictured), 48, was fined after pleading guilty to possession of drugs, including pregabalin

Paul, who played Arthur Shelby (pictured), pleaded guilty to drug possession after spending Boxing Day at a pub in Hampstead, north London, when officers found crack cocaine, a wrap of brown powder found to be amphetamines plus diazepam and pregabalin, prosecutor Kevin Kendridge said

Paul, who played Arthur Shelby (pictured), pleaded guilty to drug possession after spending Boxing Day at a pub in Hampstead, north London, when officers found crack cocaine, a wrap of brown powder found to be amphetamines plus diazepam and pregabalin, prosecutor Kevin Kendridge said

Paul, who played Arthur Shelby (pictured), pleaded guilty to drug possession after spending Boxing Day at a pub in Hampstead, north London, when officers found crack cocaine, a wrap of brown powder found to be amphetamines plus diazepam and pregabalin, prosecutor Kevin Kendridge said 

Concerns over benzos and similar medicines, such as opioids and Z-drugs, have pushed GPs into prescribing GABAs.

Such warnings concern the drugs’ use for pyschiatric disorders, not for nerve pain and epilepsy. Critics claim there’s no good evidence to support the use of the drugs in the long-term to treat anxiety. 

The drugs can cause unpleasant side effects, including weight gain and memory problems. 

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They are reported to cause significant withdrawal symptoms including nerve pain, anxiety, sleep problems, nausea and excessive sweating. Renowned psychiatrists claim valium is ‘easier to get off’. 

Deaths linked to the drug have also soared 100-fold in a decade amid its increasing usage — a bigger rise than any other substance, including cocaine, heroin and even cannabis. 

Pregabalin, sold under the brand names Lyrica, Alzain and Axalid, has been linked to nearly 3,400 deaths in Britain in the last five years.

This includes 779 fatalities in 2022 — up from just nine a decade earlier in 2012. 

Users of the drug have told MailOnline it has led to erratic behaviour, blurred vision, mood swings and suicidal thoughts.

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Many are now desperate to lower their dosage or come off the medication that has ‘robbed them of their lives’ altogether.

Health experts, however, urge users not to abruptly stop taking the medication over fears of withdrawal symptoms, including nausea, an increased heart rate and even seizures. 

The NHS acknowledges GABAs can be addictive and that patients must be weaned off gradually to avoid such symptoms. 

Last week, Peaky Blinders star Paul Anderson, 48, was fined after pleading guilty to possession of drugs, including pregabalin. 

Paul, who played Arthur Shelby, pleaded guilty to drug possession after spending Boxing Day at a pub in Hampstead, north London, when officers found crack cocaine, a wrap of brown powder found to be amphetamines plus diazepam and pregabalin, prosecutor Kevin Kendridge said.

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Following warnings from the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, pregabalin was made a class C drug in 2019.

The ruling made its sale and possession without a prescription illegal. 

Officials feared ‘pregabs’ sold on the black market were being abused by heroin and other opioid addicts to enhance highs.

Data shows GPs now dish out more than £23million worth of pregabalin — which costs £2.70 per item — annually in England. 

In total, there were 16million courses of GABAs dished out in England in 2022/23.

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More than half of these are thought to have been pregabalin. 

GABA rates have increased by 56 per cent since NHS Business Services Authority records began in 2015/16.

At the same time, figures for benzodiazepines and Z drugs have fallen. 

Experts have previously said this is due to the worrying shift towards GABA drugs, which affect the brain chemical GABA. In effect, they calm down over-excited nerve cells. They take a few weeks to kick in.

Pregabalin was first licensed in 2004 as a medicine to stop epilepsy seizures, and then for neuropathic or nerve pain because it blocks pain signals in the brain.

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Patients taking it also reported feeling calmer, sparking doctors to start offering it for anxiety.

Pregabalin, sold under the brand names Lyrica, Alzain and Axalid, has been linked to nearly 3,400 deaths in Britain in the last five years. This includes 779 fatalities in 2022 ¿ up from just nine a decade earlier in 2012

Pregabalin, sold under the brand names Lyrica, Alzain and Axalid, has been linked to nearly 3,400 deaths in Britain in the last five years. This includes 779 fatalities in 2022 ¿ up from just nine a decade earlier in 2012

Pregabalin, sold under the brand names Lyrica, Alzain and Axalid, has been linked to nearly 3,400 deaths in Britain in the last five years. This includes 779 fatalities in 2022 — up from just nine a decade earlier in 2012

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Yet pregabalin and gabapentin, thought of as its milder sibling, can also be given ‘off-label’ (to treat a condition for which they’re not licensed) for things such as lower back pain — and for which there is little or no evidence that they work.

As well as the shift in prescribing, the increase coincides with soaring numbers of Brits being diagnosed with mental health issues. 

Ian Hamilton, associate professor of addiction at the University of York, told MailOnline: ‘Part of the problem with pregabalin medication is that it is prescribed for long term conditions such as epilepsy and anxiety.

‘Given that these health problems can persist for years, taking pregabalin over this period increases the risk of physical and psychological dependency.

‘The dramatic rise in prescriptions for pregabalin have happened in part due to the increase in people with mental health problems such as anxiety. 

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What is pregabalin? 

Pregabalin is a drug that is used to treat epilepsy, anxiety and nerve pain.

In epilepsy it stops seizures by reducing abnormal electrical activity in the brain.

In anxiety it stops your brain from releasing the chemicals that make you feel anxious.

With nerve pain it affects the pain messages travelling through the brain and down the spine, effectively blocking them. 

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The drug only available in the UK by prescription and can take a couple of weeks to start working.

Commons side effects of taking pregabalin include headaches, diarrhoea, mood changes, blurred visions and memory problems.

Some people can become addicted to the drug, meaning they will suffer withdrawal symptoms if they stop taking it.

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‘Unfortunately many people are given these drugs without any psychological support such as counselling as there are long waiting lists for talking therapies. 

‘Equally up to a third of people who are prescribed other medications for anxiety and depression will not experience any benefit from them, this means that doctors will prescribe pregabalin medication as an alternative.’ 

He added: ‘What is really concerning is that this appears to be happening in poorer areas where access to these therapies is difficult, leaving GPs with little choice but to prescribe pregabalin as a way of ensuring at least some treatment.

‘We have also seen a significant rise in non-medical use of pregabalin drugs where people source these drugs without seeing a doctor. 

‘This is due to the effect pregabalin has physically and psychologically, it can create feelings of euphoria and relaxation.

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‘As pregabalin is already regulated as a class C drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act it is unlikely that there would be any benefit from increasing penalties for misuse, as the current restrictions have had little impact.

‘What would clearly make a difference would be ensuring timely access to specialist mental health support but that requires investment and there is no sign that the government will reverse its squeeze on public services.’

Latest NHS statistics reveal almost 105,000 patients were prescribed GABAs in 22/23 across Cheshire and Merseyside.

This equated to around 3.9 per cent of residents being given gabapentinoids, population figures analysed by MailOnline suggest.

Similar rates were seen in the NHS districts of Lincolnshire (3.8 per cent), Lancashire and South Cumbria (3.7), and Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent (3.6).

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Lee Fernandes, lead therapist for the UK Addiction Treatment Group told MailOnline: ‘Pregabalin is an incredibly strong and potentially dangerous prescribed drug because it can be extremely addictive when misused. 

‘Unfortunately we know that GPs are in between a rock and a hard place – they have a very short window to tackle a potentially big problem for patients. 

‘But whether they’re prescribing pregabalin for pain relief or to help with anxiety symptoms, we’d like to see them instead taking a more holistic approach and addressing the root cause of the pain or the anxiety, rather than tackling the problem with a pill. 

‘This is a drug that can ruin lives and should not be prescribed lightly.’

Alex Silva (pictured), who was prescribed pregabalin after a slipped disc on his neck, told MailOnline 'after two months on it, all I could think about was to kill myself'

Alex Silva (pictured), who was prescribed pregabalin after a slipped disc on his neck, told MailOnline 'after two months on it, all I could think about was to kill myself'

Alex Silva (pictured), who was prescribed pregabalin after a slipped disc on his neck, told MailOnline ‘after two months on it, all I could think about was to kill myself’

Dr Iain Brew, who has spent decades working in community drug treatment service, said: ‘There’s a woeful lack of provision in psychology and it’s easier and cheaper to chuck drugs at a patient, but drugs aren’t the answer.’

He told the Sunday Times: ‘We don’t want these drugs to be banned, we just don’t want them being abused and killing patients.

‘When barbiturate drugs first came out, doctors thought “great, a way of helping people cope with life”. They got overprescribed and a lot of people died.

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‘Then benzodiazepines came out, and everyone got prescribed them, and it became apparent there was addiction, then sleeping pills, and everyone got addicted again.

‘It’s happening again with pregabalin.’

With the rise in its use, both legal and illegal, have come social problems.

Court records show dozens of people being arrested for possession of pregabalin and charged with stealing the drug from pharmacies. 

In one case, a 37-year-old from Kingston upon Hull pleaded guilty to theft of 15 boxes of pregabalin from a medical centre. He was sentenced to 16 weeks in jail.

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Pregabalin users have also told MailOnline about the shocking impacts the drug has had on their lives. 

Alex Silva, who was prescribed pregabalin after a slipped disc on his neck, said ‘after two months on it, all I could think about was to kill myself’.

He added: ‘No doctor ever informed about suicidal thoughts. Thank God, I read about it and stopped taking it straight away. Horrible drug but the worst of all, was that no one told me about the suicidal thoughts.’

Another user who was prescribed pregabalin for lower back pain, said: ‘I went completely crazy for two months and had to wean myself off due to erratic behaviour, blurred vision, mood swings and suicidal thoughts.’

They added: ‘The doctors don’t tell you this when prescribing and when you mention concerns that’s when it seems you are given the information. I was lucky but only because my partner questioned the tablets when I was losing the plot.’ 

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In 2019, the now defunct Public Health England raised the alarm about the side effects and withdrawal symptoms and concluded more people were being prescribed pregabalin for longer. 

It called for a national helpline, regular reviews of prescriptions and alternatives to medicines.

Two years later in 2021, drugs watchdog the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence called for doctors to improve the safety measures they took when prescribing painkillers and dependency-forming drugs such as pregabalin.

Researchers at University College London (UCL), the University of Bristol and Keele University are now investigating the effects of taking pregabalin alongside an antidepressant to treat anxiety symptoms. 

Under the PETRA trial, which began last year and will involve up to 500 participants, scientists hope its results will let doctors give better advice to people with anxiety. 

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Experts, however, have long warned that when pregabalin is mixed with other drugs such as opiates or alcohol, it can also cause severe respiratory depression or in some cases even prove fatal.

Dr Franziska Denk, senior lecturer, King’s College London, said: ‘Most deaths related to pregabalin occur in combination with other drugs — usually opioids and usually when taken illegally.’

Brits who take drugs recreationally should be warned of its ‘potentially dangerous side effects, especially when combined with substances’, she added. 

She added: ‘I do not think there is much evidence to suggest that it should be banned from being legally prescribed, or indeed that it is being over-prescribed to a dangerous degree.  

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‘Epilepsy is a very dangerous, life-threatening condition, for which none of the other existing medications, besides pregabalin, are without the risk of serious side-effects.’

In January, Sean Cummings, a coroner in Bedfordshire, issued a prevention of future death report after Joy Ebanks, 59, died from an overdose of pregabalin and oxycodone.

He quoted research that questioned the effectiveness of pregabalin and highlighted that dependence on it ‘was increasingly recognised as a problem’.

It followed a similar warning by a coroner in north London in October.

It comes as official data released by the ONS in December revealed there were 4,907 drug poisoning deaths in 2022 – a rate of 84.4 deaths per million people. 

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This is the tenth consecutive annual rise, up on the 4,859 recorded in 2021 and the most since records began in 1993. 

Health experts, however, cautioned patients should not stop taking their prescribed pregabalin ‘abruptly’ over fears Brits could suffer withdrawal symptoms. 

Thorrun Govind, TV pharmacist and former chair of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, said: ‘What you should do is speak to your healthcare professional and check that it’s appropriate for you still and have a rounded discussion about your individual needs and make sure it’s suitable for you.

‘Pregabalin isn’t the first line treatment for anxiety. There are other options out there for people if they are concerned. 

‘Even for epilepsy there are other options available. But obviously, with epilepsy you will be on a medication for a long time. 

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‘We need to make sure people are really comfortable and understand the drug that they’re taking and the benefits and risks.’ 

Glyn Lewis, a professor of epidemiological psychiatry at UCL, added:  ‘There is a known problem of combining pregabalin with opiate medication. 

‘Pregabalin could be effective and helpful for many people but patients should follow the advice of their doctor and report any side effects they experience.’

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Coast-to-coast Super Tuesday elections set to kick off Biden and Trump rematch

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President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump are poised to move much closer to winning their party’s nominations during the biggest day of the primary campaign on Tuesday, setting up a historic rematch that many voters would rather not endure.

Super Tuesday elections are being held in 16 states and one territory — from Alaska and California to Vermont and Virginia. Hundreds of delegates are at stake, the biggest haul for either party on any single day.

While much of the focus is on the presidential race, there are also important down-ballot contests. California voters will choose candidates who will compete to fill the Senate seat long held by Dianne Feinstein. The governor’s race will take shape in North Carolina, a state that both parties are fiercely contesting ahead of November. And in Los Angeles, a progressive prosecutor is attempting to fend off an intense reelection challenge in a race that could serve as a barometer of the politics of crime.

But the premier races center on Biden and Trump. And in a dramatic departure from past Super Tuesdays, both the Democratic and Republican contests are effectively sealed this year.

The two men have easily repelled challengers in the opening rounds of the campaign and are in full command of their bids — despite polls making it clear that voters don’t want this year’s general election to be identical to the 2020 race. A new AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll finds a majority of Americans don’t think either Biden or Trump has the necessary mental acuity for the job.

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“Both of them failed, in my opinion, to unify this country,” said Brian Hadley, 66, of Raleigh, North Carolina.

Neither Trump nor Biden will be able to formally clinch their party’s nominations on Super Tuesday. The earliest either can become his party’s presumptive nominee is March 12 for Trump and March 19 for Biden.

The final days before Tuesday demonstrated the unique nature of this year’s campaign. Rather than barnstorming the states holding primaries, Biden and Trump held rival events last week along the U.S.-Mexico border, each seeking to gain an advantage in the increasingly fraught immigration debate.

After the Supreme Court ruled 9-0 on Monday to restore Trump to primary ballots following attempts to ban him for his role in helping spark the Capitol riot, Trump pointed to the 91 criminal counts against him to accuse Biden of weaponizing the courts. 

“Fight your fight yourself,” Trump said. “Don’t use prosecutors and judges to go after your opponent.” 

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State of the Union speech

Biden delivers the State of the Union address on Thursday, then will campaign in the key swing states of Pennsylvania and Georgia.

The president will defend policies responsible for “record job creation, the strongest economy in the world, increased wages and household wealth, and lower prescription drug and energy costs,” White House communications director Ben LaBolt said in a statement. 

That’s in contrast, LaBolt continued, to Trump’s “Make America Great Again” movement, which consists of “rewarding billionaires and corporations with tax breaks, taking away rights and freedoms, and undermining our democracy.”

Biden’s campaign called extra attention to Trump’s most provocative utterances on the campaign trail, like when he evoked Adolf Hitler in suggesting that immigrants were “poisoning the blood” of the U.S. and said he’d seek to serve as a dictator during his first day back in the White House. 

Trump recently told a gala for Black conservatives that he believed African Americans empathized with his four criminal indictments, drawing a sharp rebuke from the Biden campaign and top Democrats around the country for comparing personal legal struggles to the historical injustices Black people have faced in the U.S.

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Trump has nonetheless already vanquished more than a dozen major Republican challengers and now has only one left: Nikki Haley, the former president’s onetime U.N. ambassador who was also twice elected governor of her home state of South Carolina. 

Haley has hopscotched across the country, visiting at least one Super Tuesday state almost daily for more than a week and arguing that her base of support — while far smaller than Trump’s — suggests the former president will lose to Biden.

“We can do better than two 80-year-old candidates for president,” Haley said at a rally Monday in the Houston suburbs.

Haley has maintained strong fundraising and notched her first primary victory over the weekend in Washington, D.C., a Democrat-run city with few registered Republicans. Trump tried to turn that victory into a loss for the overall campaign, scoffing that she had been “crowned queen of the swamp.” 

Vulnerabilities

Though Trump has dominated the early Republican primary calendar, his victories have shown vulnerabilities with some influential voter blocs, especially in college towns like Hanover, New Hampshire, home to Dartmouth College, or Ann Arbor, where the University of Michigan is located, as well as in some areas with high concentrations of independents.

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Still, Haley winning any of Super Tuesday’s contests would take an upset. And a Trump sweep would only intensify pressure on her to leave the race.

Biden has his own problems, including low approval ratings and polls suggesting that many Americans, even a majority of Democrats, don’t want to see the 81-year-old running again. The president’s easy Michigan primary win last week was spoiled slightly by an “uncommitted” campaign organized by activists who disapprove of the president’s handling of Israel’s war in Gaza.

Allies of the “uncommitted” vote are pushing similar protest votes elsewhere. One to watch is Minnesota, which has a significant population of Muslims, including in its Somali American community, and liberals disaffected with Biden. Gov. Tim Walz, a Biden ally, told The Associated Press last week that he expected some votes for “uncommitted” on Tuesday.

While Biden is the oldest president in U.S. history, his reelection campaign argues that skeptics will come around once it is clear it’ll be him or Trump in November. Trump is 77 and faces his own questions about age that have been exacerbated by flubs like over the weekend when he mistakenly suggested he was running against Barack Obama.

That hasn’t shaken Trump’s ardent supporters’ faith in him.

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“Trump would eat him up,” Ken Ballos, a retired police officer who attended a weekend Trump rally in Virginia, said of a November rematch, adding that Biden “would look like a fool up there.”

(AP)

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Meet the new Arsenal: Not too emotional like their manager, powered by the pain of last season’s collapse – and proving Gary Neville’s prophecy right. IAN LADYMAN writes on a team who nobody is laughing at now

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  • Sheffield United suffered a 6-0 thumping at the hands of a rampant Arsenal side 
  • Mikel Arteta’s players have bolstered title intentions with a series of winter wins  
  • Liverpool can’t play a weakened team that says they can’t be bothered in Europe just to be ready for Man City – It’s All Kicking Off podcast

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It was Gary Neville who said recently that Arsenal could win the Premier League by finding a way to produce last season in reverse. Nobody thought it possible. Surely Manchester City and Liverpool were just a little bit too good. But an astonishing run of seven consecutive domestic wins underpinned by an extraordinary tally of 31 goals has changed all that.

Neville’s point, made on his Stick to Football podcast, was simply that Arsenal had shown during the first half of last season just how devastating they can be when they get on a roll. In the 2022-23 campaign, Arsenal only lost one league game before the start of February. Nerves – and Pep Guardiola’s City – got them in the end but, Neville asked, where could they go this time round if a more modest autumn and winter set of results could be bolstered by something better once the clocks went forwards?

And now, suddenly, here we are. As City and Liverpool prepare to meet and therefore take points off each other at Anfield on Sunday, Arsenal’s recent uptick in form and confidence will take them to the summit of the table if they beat Brentford at home a day earlier. They already have a superior goal difference.

Monday night’s 6-0 demolition of Sheffield United at Bramall Lane was beautiful in its sheer heartlessness. We have asked before whether Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal are too weak and too soft. We have asked if, like their Spanish coach, they can become too emotional. Well that’s not happening. Not now. Now here.

Arsenal were magnificent on Monday night. They scored three goals in 15 minutes, four in half an hour and five by half-time. By the time we got to full-time, it was six and they had stopped trying.

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Arsenal faltered last season towards the end of their title charge but are now in rampant form

Arsenal faltered last season towards the end of their title charge but are now in rampant form

Arsenal faltered last season towards the end of their title charge but are now in rampant form

The Gunners hit Sheffield United for six at Bramall Lane in their third league win by five or more goals in February

The Gunners hit Sheffield United for six at Bramall Lane in their third league win by five or more goals in February

The Gunners hit Sheffield United for six at Bramall Lane in their third league win by five or more goals in February

Just two points off league leaders Liverpool the north London side are facing a spell which could define their season

Just two points off league leaders Liverpool the north London side are facing a spell which could define their season

Just two points off league leaders Liverpool the north London side are facing a spell which could define their season

This, though, is a new Arsenal. It’s a development of the prototype. It had to change and grow if it was to win things. Last season taught us that and the progress in this regard is now writ large in their results ledger. 5-0, 2-1, 3-1, 6-0, 5-0, 4-1, 6-0. It reads almost like the result of a one-sided tennis match and that is how it feels watching Arsenal right now. Certainly they had too much pace, power, imagination and craft for Sheffield United on Monday night.

Having rebooted with a spell away during a winter break handed them by their January FA Cup expulsion at the hands of Liverpool, Arsenal now face a spell that could decide their season. They will face Brentford this weekend without preferred goalkeeper David Raya who is not allowed to play against the club from which he has moved to Arsenal on loan. They also have doubts over Gabriel Martinelli, who hurt his foot on Monday night, and also Bukayo Saka who left the field at half-time feeling unwell. 

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Next Tuesday, meanwhile, they have a single goal Champions League deficit to overturn at home to Porto but beyond all that comes the promise of a nineteen day break – due to their lack of involvement in the FA Cup – before an enormous game at City on March 31.

Arteta on Monday ruled out the prospect of taking his squad abroad again which is a shame given how well their January sojourn to Dubai seemed to work in January. They left having just lost at home to Liverpool and returned ready to sweep all aside who stood before them.

Instead Arsenal will be driven on now partly by their own momentum. They simply don’t look like they can lose right now. But also by the memories of last season’s late collapse.

‘It was so very painful,’ said Martin Odegaard, one of five different Arsenal scorers on Monday night.

Arsenal captain Martin Odegaard is keen to erase the bad memories of last season's faulty run

Arsenal captain Martin Odegaard is keen to erase the bad memories of last season's faulty run

Arsenal captain Martin Odegaard is keen to erase the bad memories of last season’s faulty run

‘I think now is the time to show we have learned.’

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Words are easy to say. It feels as though Arsenal must beat City at the end of this month if they are to have a genuine say in this title race. That apart, their hardest other game between now and the season’s end is a north London derby at Tottenham on April 27 and with that in mind it does look as though there is a path available to navigate if Arteta and his players feel ready to be involved at the death this time.

Last season was too much for them and we know that. There is no shame in being run over by the City juggernaut. This time opportunity knocks again. Their key players are in form and the presence of Jorginho and the fit again Thomas Partey may release Declan Rice in to the forward positions in which he has shown he can be so effective and dangerous.

We laughed at Odegaard and his gang when they celebrated like champions after beating Liverpool on their own turf a month ago. None of it looks quite so frivolous now.

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Filmmaker Polanski goes on trial in France on defamation charges

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Veteran Franco-Polish filmmaker Roman Polanski goes on trial in France on Tuesday over allegations he defamed a British actress who accused him of sexual abuse in the 1980s.

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The 90-year-old is wanted in the United States over the rape of a 13-year-old in 1977 and faces several other accusations of alleged sexual assault dating back decades and past the statute of limitations — all claims he has rejected.

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The director — whose lengthy career includes his Oscar-winning films “Rosemary’s Baby”, “Chinatown” and “The Pianist” — fled to Europe in 1978.

Polanski is not due to appear in court, his lawyers have said.

His accuser, Charlotte Lewis, 56, is expected to be present.

Lewis in 2010 accused Polanski of sexually assaulting her “in the worst possible way” as a 16-year-old in 1983 in Paris after she travelled there for a casting. She appeared in his 1986 film “Pirates”.

The France-born filmmaker retorted that it was a “heinous lie” in a 2019 conversation with the Paris Match magazine.

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According to Paris Match, he pulled out a copy of a 1999 article in British tabloid newspaper News of the World, and quoted Lewis as saying in it: “I was fascinated by him, and I wanted to be his lover.”

Lewis has said the quotes attributed to her in that interview were not accurate.

Lewis filed a complaint for defamation, and the film director was automatically charged under French law.

‘Right to defend himself’

“Discrediting and defaming (people) is an integral part of the Polanski system, and this is what Charlotte Lewis is very bravely calling out,” her lawyer Benjamin Chouai told AFP.

Polanski’s lawyer Delphine Meillet said there had been no defamation in the Paris Match article.

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“Polanski has the right to defend himself publicly, as does the woman who accuses him,” she said.

His defence lawyers have called on Stuart White, who wrote the 1999 News of the World article, to appear as a witness during the trial.

White is a Los Angeles-based reporter for the now-defunct News of the World who quit to become a scriptwriter.

In the contested article about Lewis, he purportedly described “how she went from hooker to Hollywood”.

The tabloid, which has repeatedly been accused of libel and fabricating quotes, was forced to close in 2011 after its employees were accused of phone hacking in pursuit of stories.

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In 2010, Lewis said she decided to speak out to counter suggestions from Polanski’s legal team that the 1977 rape case was an isolated incident.

She spoke in the Los Angeles offices of Gloria Allred, a high-profile attorney who has also represented women accusing US producer Harvey Weinstein, sit-com star Bill Cosby and former US president Donald Trump.

‘Impunity’ 

France, Switzerland and Poland have refused to extradite Polanski to the United States.

But plans for Polanski to preside over the Cesars, the French equivalent of the Oscars, were dropped in early 2017 under pressure from feminists.

Between 2017 and 2019, four other women came forward with claims that Polanski also abused them in the 1970s, three of them as minors. He has denied all allegations.

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Among them, California artist Marianne Barnard accused him of sexually assaulting her in 1975 after asking her to pose naked when she was 10 years old.

At the 2020 Cesars ceremony, actress Adele Haenel walked out in protest at Polanski being awarded for his film “An Officer and a Spy”.

The director has in recent years kept a very low profile, his latest film “The Palace” premiering without him in Venice last summer.

The defamation trial comes as French cinema reels from accusations it has too long provided cover for abuse.

Read more‘Wind of revolt’ sweeps French cinema in belated #MeToo reckoning

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At this year’s Cesars Awards, actress Judith Godreche denounced “impunity” in the film industry, after accusing two directors of raping and sexually assaulting her as a teenager.

(AFP)

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Celebrity Big Brother is BACK! Sharon Osbourne enters as a surprise guest star, Louis Walsh prepares to bring the X Factor and Ekin-Su Culculoglu ups the glam as the full lineup is finally REVEALED after weeks of rumours

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Celebrity Big Brother is back on screens. 

The reality show is returning six years after its last broadcast, in the wake of the wildly-successful comeback of the civilian series in November last year and is now set to appear on ITV for the first time ever on Monday night.  

After much-anticipation over the cast list, the stars of the show have now been revealed with X Factor legend Louis Walsh at the helm alongside Fern Britton, Ekin-Su Cülcüloğlu, David Potts and Garry Goldsmith. 

Monday’s launch also revealed that Sharon Osbourne will be moving into the house as a surprise lodger, after ITV were reportedly unable to match her fee demands.

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ITV bosses have reportedly spent a massive £2 million on a number of high-profile stars for the programme, which was was last broadcast on Channel 5 in August 2018.

So who IS starring on the show?

The Celebrity Big Brother 2024 lineup has finally been revealed (L-R David Potts, Fern Britton, Zaza Mills, Levi Roots, Ekin-Su Culculoglu, Sharon Osbourne, Nikita Kuzmin, Louis Walsh, Marisha Wallace, Colson Smith, Bradley Riches, Gary Goldsmith and Lauren Simon)

The Celebrity Big Brother 2024 lineup has finally been revealed (L-R David Potts, Fern Britton, Zaza Mills, Levi Roots, Ekin-Su Culculoglu, Sharon Osbourne, Nikita Kuzmin, Louis Walsh, Marisha Wallace, Colson Smith, Bradley Riches, Gary Goldsmith and Lauren Simon)

The Celebrity Big Brother 2024 lineup has finally been revealed (L-R David Potts, Fern Britton, Zaza Mills, Levi Roots, Ekin-Su Culculoglu, Sharon Osbourne, Nikita Kuzmin, Louis Walsh, Marisha Wallace, Colson Smith, Bradley Riches, Gary Goldsmith and Lauren Simon)

SHARON OSBOURNE

Sharon Osbourne is moving into the CBB house for a guest stint, after ITV bosses were reportedly unable to meet her fee demands

Sharon Osbourne is moving into the CBB house for a guest stint, after ITV bosses were reportedly unable to meet her fee demands

Sharon Osbourne is moving into the CBB house for a guest stint, after ITV bosses were reportedly unable to meet her fee demands

AGE: 71

FAMOUS FOR: Being a member of the Osbourne family, married to rock legend husband Ozzy as well as being a judge on The X Factor.

While it was originally reported that Sharon has joined the main CBB lineup, it’s since been revealed that she’ll be appearing on the show as a guest star.

It’s thought that ITV bosses were unable to match her fee demands, and so she will be entering the house as a late arrival, for just five days.

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Sharon will be reunited with her X Factor co-star Louis Walsh in the house, and it’s hoped their hilarious antics will be a hit with viewers. 

Music manager Sharon appeared on the first four series of The X Factor from 2004 to 2007, the 10th series in 2013, and the 13th and 14th series from 2016 to 2017, with Louis starring alongside her.

The pair became known for their bond and amusing interactions during auditions on The X Factor, with a reunion on Celebrity Big Brother being their first on screen in seven years.

LOUIS WALSH 

LOUIS WALSH is switching his spot on the X Factor panel for a place in the UK's most famous house, after a prestigious career as a music manager to bands like Westlife and Boyzone

LOUIS WALSH is switching his spot on the X Factor panel for a place in the UK's most famous house, after a prestigious career as a music manager to bands like Westlife and Boyzone

LOUIS WALSH is switching his spot on the X Factor panel for a place in the UK’s most famous house, after a prestigious career as a music manager to bands like Westlife and Boyzone

AGE: 71

FAMOUS FOR: His stint as an X Factor judge following a prestigious career as a music manager to bands like Westlife and Boyzone. 

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Louis is one of the biggest signings, as fans hope he will spill secrets behind the scenes from The X Factor amid scandal around the defunct competition. 

A source previously said: ‘[Louis] is one of the most intriguing signings for Celebrity Big Brother because he has almost half a century of experience in showbusiness to recall when he enters the house. 

‘Viewers will be most interested in his memories of his time on The X Factor and working with huge music acts including Westlife and Boyzone.

‘But there may be a few celebrities outside the house who are feeling nervous about what he might say, because Louis is notoriously outspoken.’

GARY GOLDSMITH 

Kate Middleton's uncle GARRY GOLDSMITH, has sparked fears he could 'embarrass' the Royal Family with his views on Harry and Meghan

Kate Middleton's uncle GARRY GOLDSMITH, has sparked fears he could 'embarrass' the Royal Family with his views on Harry and Meghan

Kate Middleton’s uncle GARRY GOLDSMITH, has sparked fears he could ’embarrass’ the Royal Family with his views on Harry and Meghan

AGE: 58

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FAMOUS FOR: Being Kate Middleton’s ‘black sheep’ uncle.

Experts have warned Gary could ’embarrass’ the royal family with his views on Harry and Meghan.

The outspoken businessman brother of Kate’s mother Carole, is reported to have inked a meaty deal with bosses for the return of the celebrity edition of the series after a six-year absence.

It comes at a challenging time for the royals as Kate continues to recover from her abdominal surgery at The London Clinic, while King Charles had a procedure for an enlarged prostate before his cancer diagnosis.

Gary attempted to gain a spot on I’m A Celebrity last year, but was turned down over concerns it could embarrass William and Kate.

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DAVID POTTS 

After shooting to stardom in the Ibiza Weekender, DAVID POTTS will no doubt make a splash in the famous house

After shooting to stardom in the Ibiza Weekender, DAVID POTTS will no doubt make a splash in the famous house

After shooting to stardom in the Ibiza Weekender, DAVID POTTS will no doubt make a splash in the famous house

AGE: 30

FAMOUS FOR: Ibiza Weekender 

David, 30, shot to reality stardom after featuring on Ibiza Weekender as a fun-loving holiday rep and he would no doubt make an entertaining housemate.

The reality personality recently revealed he has lost an incredible three stone and would be in great shape ahead of his arrival in the house.  

Sharing his weight loss secrets recently, he said: ‘For everyone wanting to know how I’ve done it. 

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‘I’m no dietitian or PT, but I try and go to the gym 6 days a week and eat 1700 calories! Then one day I do zero exercise and eat whatever the F I want! It seems to be working for me.’

Following his time on Ibiza Weekender, David has also appeared on The Big Celebrity Detox with other celebs including Kerry Katona.

He has exhausted the reality circuit, also appearing on Celebs Go Dating, Celebs on the Farm, Celebrity Karaoke Club and Celebrity Ghost Trip.

EKIN-SU CULCULOGLU 

EKIN-SU CULCULOGLU is moving into the Big Brother house, after splitting from her boyfriend Davide Sanclimenti earlier this year

EKIN-SU CULCULOGLU is moving into the Big Brother house, after splitting from her boyfriend Davide Sanclimenti earlier this year

EKIN-SU CULCULOGLU is moving into the Big Brother house, after splitting from her boyfriend Davide Sanclimenti earlier this year

AGE: 29

FAMOUS FOR: Winning Love Island in 2022. 

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The reality star, 29, who won Love Island with her ex-boyfriend Davide Sanclimenti in 2022, split from the Italian hunk earlier this year.

Media personality Ekin-Su confirmed she had parted ways with Italian businessman Davide, 29, last month.

Taking to her Instagram Story, the former Dancing On Ice contestant wrote: ‘The last 18-months have been a rollercoaster of ups and downs, just like every relationship.

‘Davide and I both wanted to make this work as we cared deeply for each other. Unfortunately I have recently made the decision to end our relationship and to go our separate ways..

‘Breakups are never easy. For any couple. And we hope that our privacy will be respected. I enjoyed our time together and the memories we made.

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‘Thank you for your continued support. It’s been so lovely to have you follow our Love Island journeys together since the villa and we hope you’ll continue to follow our careers as we go off in our own directions. Love always, Ekin-Su.’

ZEZE MILZ 

Social media star ZEZE MILLZ will undoubtedly speak her mind if she gets a lot on the show, as her show bio reads: 'If we can get them in a room with Zeze... It's gloves off'

Social media star ZEZE MILLZ will undoubtedly speak her mind if she gets a lot on the show, as her show bio reads: 'If we can get them in a room with Zeze... It's gloves off'

Social media star ZEZE MILLZ will undoubtedly speak her mind if she gets a lot on the show, as her show bio reads: ‘If we can get them in a room with Zeze… It’s gloves off’

AGE: 35

FAMOUS FOR: Social media star  

The social media star will undoubtedly speak her mind if she gets a lot on the show, as her show bio reads: ‘If we can get them in a room with Zeze… It’s gloves off.’

Zeze, known for her intense interview style, has her own self-titled show which has featured big names including Akon, N-Dubz and Fireboy DML. 

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Over the years she has also appeared on Good Morning Britain, Celebrity Cooking School and The Victoria Derbyshire Show.

COLSON SMITH 

Coronation Street star COLSON SMITH is the latest soap star to move into the house, with sources tipping him to go 'all the way'

Coronation Street star COLSON SMITH is the latest soap star to move into the house, with sources tipping him to go 'all the way'

Coronation Street star COLSON SMITH is the latest soap star to move into the house, with sources tipping him to go ‘all the way’

AGE: 25

FAMOUS FOR: Playing Craig Tinker in Coronation Street 

Insiders have already predicted that the soap star will go all the way as he is extremely ‘likeable and down to earth in real life’ just like his Corrie character.

A source told The Sun: ‘Big Brother producers have been in talks with Colson for months and it looks like a done deal.

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‘They’re thrilled he’s keen to enter the nation’s most famous house because he’s a big name already loved by millions of viewers and they were hellbent of securing someone from Corrie as it’s great cross-promotion for ITV.

‘Colson’s character Craig is a huge favourite with soap fans and he’s just as likeable and down to earth in real life so don’t be surprised if he ends up winning the whole thing. He’s got all the ingredients of a Celeb BB champion.’

LAUREN SIMON 

Real Housewives of Cheshire star LAUREN SIMON will be swapping one TV show for another as she moves into the CBB house

Real Housewives of Cheshire star LAUREN SIMON will be swapping one TV show for another as she moves into the CBB house

Real Housewives of Cheshire star LAUREN SIMON will be swapping one TV show for another as she moves into the CBB house

AGE: 47

FAMOUS FOR: Real Housewives Of Cheshire

The reality veteran rose to fame as part of the scripted ITVBe show’s inaugural cast when the show debuted in 2014.

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Last year, Lauren spent three weeks in hospital after a botched boob job saw her nipple nearly die.

And Lauren, who split from her ex-husband property tycoon Paul Simon in 2018, recently travelled to a sex retreat where she learnt tantric sex techniques to improve orgasms.

FERN BRITTON 

FERN BRITTON became a household name as a longtime host of This Morning alongside Phillip Schofield, but has since hit out at her time on the series

FERN BRITTON became a household name as a longtime host of This Morning alongside Phillip Schofield, but has since hit out at her time on the series

FERN BRITTON became a household name as a longtime host of This Morning alongside Phillip Schofield, but has since hit out at her time on the series

AGE: 66

FAMOUS FOR: Nineties TV sensation, and acting as Phillip Schofield’s This Morning sidekick before being replaced by Holly Willoughby. 

She became a household name hosting This Morning alongside Philip, 61, from 1999 to 2009. The pair co-hosted the daytime show together from 2003 until 2009.

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It was claimed at the time she felt ‘undervalued by ITV’ and that she was ‘living in Phil’s shadow’.

It was also reported Fern was being paid £250,000 a year less than Phil and that he was earning three times her salary when they were fronting Mr and Mrs together from 2008 to 2010. 

Phil is said to have banked £45,000 an hour while Fern earned just £15,000.

However, Fern denied she left ITV because of her salary and upon her departure she mentioned the whole This Morning team rather than just Phillip.

Four years after her departure, Phillip admitted he and Fern no longer spoke.

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Last year Fern confirmed that while she had a ‘marvellous’ time working on This Morning, she hasn’t stayed in touch with Phillip. 

She said: ‘We were involved in the show and mates at the time, but we don’t really [speak anymore].’

LEVI ROOTS

LEVI ROOTS is one of Dragon's Den's biggest success stories, and has been a fixture on cooking TV shows

LEVI ROOTS is one of Dragon's Den's biggest success stories, and has been a fixture on cooking TV shows

LEVI ROOTS is one of Dragon’s Den’s biggest success stories, and has been a fixture on cooking TV shows

AGE: 65

FAMOUS FOR:  One of Dragons’s Den’s biggest success stories. 

Levi, 65, made millions after taking his Reggae Reggae Sauce on the BBC investment show, asking for a £50,000 investment for a 40 percent stake.

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In a recent interview with The Sun, Levi said: ‘I couldn’t even say my own first name when I left Jamaica, so to come to the UK and now run a multimillion pound business is beyond belief.’

Following his appearance on the show in 2007, Levi went on to stock his sauce in major supermarket retailers and appear on cooking TV shows.

BRADLEY RICHES 

BRADLEY RICHES, best known for his role in Heartstopper, and hopes a stint on the show will help with representation

BRADLEY RICHES, best known for his role in Heartstopper, and hopes a stint on the show will help with representation

BRADLEY RICHES, best known for his role in Heartstopper, and hopes a stint on the show will help with representation

AGE: 24

FAMOUS FOR: Netflix’s Heartstopper. Bradley, who is gay and autistic, played James McEwan, a potential love interest for the main character Charlie Spring’s friend Isaac.

According to sources, Bradley hopes an appearance on the iconic reality series will help with representation.

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A source told The Sun: ‘Brad really wants to fly the flag for autistic, queer people on a huge mainstream show like Celebrity Big Brother.

‘He was diagnosed with autism when he was nine and is passionate about being an advocate for his community. He’s keen to show the world that being neurodiverse isn’t something that holds you back, it’s a superpower.’

NIKITA KUZMIN 

NIKITA KUZMIN, best known as a professional on Strictly Come Dancing, has reportedly ired BBC bosses by moving into the CBB house

NIKITA KUZMIN, best known as a professional on Strictly Come Dancing, has reportedly ired BBC bosses by moving into the CBB house

NIKITA KUZMIN, best known as a professional on Strictly Come Dancing, has reportedly ired BBC bosses by moving into the CBB house

AGE: 26

FAMOUS FOR: Being a professional on Strictly Come Dancing

The twinkle-toed star joined Strictly as one of four new professionals in 2021 and has been paired with chef Gordon Ramsay’s daughter Tilly Ramsay, former Paralympian swimmer Ellie Simmonds and actor Layton Williams during his time on the show. 

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With West End star Layton, Nikita reached the Strictly final for the first time, but missed out on the glitterball trophy to winner Ellie Simmnds. 

Since it was first revealed he’d signed up for the show, reports surfaced that Strictly bosses are fearing he could quit the BBC show after his stint in the famous house.

A TV insider told The Sun: ‘This will send the rumour mill into overdrive, with some already suggesting he may not return to Strictly and is instead making the most of being a rising star.

‘He’ll have been selected by CBB producers as an obvious heartthrob who can spice things up in the house — and maybe even spill some secrets from behind the scenes of Strictly.’

 MARISHA WALLACE 

Theatre star MARISHA WALLACE is swapping the stage for the Celebrity Big Brother house, after roles in Broadway adaptations of Aladdin, Something Rotten and Dreamgirls

Theatre star MARISHA WALLACE is swapping the stage for the Celebrity Big Brother house, after roles in Broadway adaptations of Aladdin, Something Rotten and Dreamgirls

Theatre star MARISHA WALLACE is swapping the stage for the Celebrity Big Brother house, after roles in Broadway adaptations of Aladdin, Something Rotten and Dreamgirls

AGE: 38

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FAMOUS FOR: Actress and singer. 

Marisha’s showbiz history includes performing in Broadway adaptations of Aladdin, Something Rotten and Dreamgirls.

Marisha has released two albums; Soul Holiday in 2017 and Tomorrow in 2020.

The singer was the recipient of an Olivier Award nomination for Best Actress following her performance as Ado Annie in Oklahoma!.

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Extraterrestrials could be stuck on their exo-planet ‘home world’ due to ‘physical limitations,’ study claims – is this why we haven’t found aliens?

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‘Where is everyone?’ It’s the famous question about aliens, echoing out to our quiet galactic neighbors after Manhattan Project physicist Enrico Fermi asked it in 1950.

But perhaps even a highly advanced extraterrestrial civilization might find itself without the resources or the key information needed to escape their home world, at least according to a new study from Spain’s Atlántico Medio university.

Some so-called ‘Super Earths’ might be within their star’s habitable zone, but so massive that their gravity makes interplanetary rocket launches all but impossible.

These and other ‘Fishbowl Worlds’ are just one of several ideas introduced in the new paper, which hopes to help explain Enrico Fermi’s infamous 1950 ‘Fermi Paradox.’

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Fermi’s paradox has perplexed astronomers for over six decades, asking in short: In a universe teeming with as many as 200 billion trillion stars, and still more planets, many capable of supporting life, why haven’t Earth’s scientists spotted any aliens?

Even highly advanced alien civilizations might find themselves without the resources - or key information - needed to escape their home world, according to a study from Spain's Atlántico Medio university. Above, Jupiter's watery moon Europa, imaged by NASA's Galileo spacecraft

Even highly advanced alien civilizations might find themselves without the resources - or key information - needed to escape their home world, according to a study from Spain's Atlántico Medio university. Above, Jupiter's watery moon Europa, imaged by NASA's Galileo spacecraft

Even highly advanced alien civilizations might find themselves without the resources – or key information – needed to escape their home world, according to a study from Spain’s Atlántico Medio university. Above, Jupiter’s watery moon Europa, imaged by NASA’s Galileo spacecraft

‘The image of a planet whose gravity makes it difficult or impossible to leave suggested to me the metaphor of a fishbowl,’ the new study’s author Professor Elio Quiroga told DailyMail.com via email.

‘I found it to be a powerful analogy,’ Prof. Quiroga, who lectures at Atlántico Medio in Spain, said.

For one category of his Fishbowl Worlds, Prof. Quiroga calculated a value he termed the ‘exoplanet escape factor’ (Fex): a value comparing a given exo-planet’s escape velocity to Earth’s 7 miles-per-second (11.19 kilometers-per-second) escape velocity.

Escape velocity, the speed needed for a spacecraft to break free from the gravity of any celestial body — be it a moon, planet or asteroid — varies with that body’s mass. 

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Escaping the potentially habitable exo-planet Proxima Centauri b, four light-years from Earth, for example, is relatively easy: 5.9 miles-per-second, or an ‘Fex’ of just 0.85-times Earth’s own.

But massive, yet hypothetically habitable planets like Kepler-131 b, 746 light-years from Earth, require a daunting speeds to break free: 21.8 miles-per-second to exit Kepler-131 b, for example, or an Fex of 3.13-times Earth.

Some so-called 'Super Earths' might be within their star's habitable zone, but so massive that their gravity makes interplanetary rocket launches all but impossible, like Kepler-131 b (above), 746 light-years from Earth

Some so-called 'Super Earths' might be within their star's habitable zone, but so massive that their gravity makes interplanetary rocket launches all but impossible, like Kepler-131 b (above), 746 light-years from Earth
Others, like Proxima Centauri b (above), turn out to be easier to blast off from than Earth, with lower escape velocities

Others, like Proxima Centauri b (above), turn out to be easier to blast off from than Earth, with lower escape velocities

Some so-called ‘Super Earths’ might be within their star’s habitable zone, but so massive that their gravity makes interplanetary rocket launches all but impossible, like Kepler-131 b (left), 746 light-years from Earth. Others, like Proxima Centauri b (right), are easier to blast off from

‘Many worlds, particularly super-Earths,’ Prof. Quiroga told DailyMail.com, ‘may be dismissed due to prohibitive escape velocities.’

But there were also interesting edge cases, like the habitable world GJ-1214b, 48 light-years from Earth, which has an escape velocity about 1.5 times that of Earth’s. 

Planets like these, which also includes Kepler-103b, might prove harder for an advanced race to blast off from, but might not trap a species on their home world.

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Prof. Quiroga’s research, published in last October in the Journal of the British Interplanetary Society, theorizes that any escape velocity with an Fex more than 2.2 times Earth’s own may lock a civilization onto their planet of origin for good.  

The more than 5,000 exoplanets confirmed in our galaxy so far include a variety of types - among them these mysterious 'super-Earths' that are larger than our world and possibly rocky

The more than 5,000 exoplanets confirmed in our galaxy so far include a variety of types - among them these mysterious 'super-Earths' that are larger than our world and possibly rocky

The more than 5,000 exoplanets confirmed in our galaxy so far include a variety of types – among them these mysterious ‘super-Earths’ that are larger than our world and possibly rocky

But Prof. Quiroga also pointed to unique cultural factors that might lock a species into their home planet, in one case discussing a more literal ‘Fishbowl World.’

An advanced civilization on an ocean planet, he speculated, might have mastered long-distance communication via their own evolution, given that communication travels much further naturally in a fluid environment (think sonar) than in open air.

The dominant species on a watery planet, or a watery moon like Jupiter’s moon Europa, may have enjoyed conversations that travel naturally for hundreds of miles.

In those worlds, Prof. Quiroga wrote, ‘communication between individuals could be feasible without the need for communication devices,’ stifling the urge to innovate advanced communication technologies.

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There were also interesting edge cases, like the habitable world GJ-1214b (above), 48 light-years from Earth, which has an escape velocity 1.5 times Earth's: hard but possible to leave

There were also interesting edge cases, like the habitable world GJ-1214b (above), 48 light-years from Earth, which has an escape velocity 1.5 times Earth's: hard but possible to leave

There were also interesting edge cases, like the habitable world GJ-1214b (above), 48 light-years from Earth, which has an escape velocity 1.5 times Earth’s: hard but possible to leave

‘Telecommunications technology might never emerge on such a world, even though it could be home to a fully developed civilization,’ Quiroga argued in his paper. 

‘Such a civilization would not be “communicative” and would not be contemplated in the Drake equation,’ the famous calculation formulated to predict the chance of finding intelligent life in the universe, Quiroga said.

An evolutionary feature like innate, biological, undersea sonar, in other words, could leave them both silent and unable to listen to humanity’s SETI radio transmissions.

But, as Prof. Quiroga told DailyMail.com, his research is not a cause for astronomers and planetary scientists to drastically change policies or research plans just yet.

‘The initial step is to search for basic life, simple life-forms,’ he said.

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‘We are making progress in this direction, but we require more advanced tools (such as the future Vera Rubin telescope) and improved methods for analyzing the faint signals emanating from these exo-planets.’ 

‘If we were to discover a world in another star system displaying clear and indisputable signs of intelligence,’ Prof. Quiroga said, ‘then we could contemplate whether those beings have achieved space travel, or if it’s within their capability or not.’

What those first, successful signs, which researchers call techno-signatures, will turn out to be remains to be seen, he noted, in part due to the truly alien possibilities of life outside our world.

‘We can only assert that we know of one civilization in the cosmos, and that is our own,’ Prof. Quiroga said.

‘Consequently, we tend to humanize or anthropomorphize everything; it’s inevitable.’ 

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‘However, there is something intriguing to consider,’ he added. 

‘We emerged as a species more or less in the middle of the lifespan of our star, the sun, which suggests something profound: intelligence takes a considerable amount of time to evolve.’ 

Perhaps, Prof. Quiroga suggested, an answer to Enrico Fermi’s famous paradox is that most alien species are taking just as much time to evolve as life did here on Earth.

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