UK mortgage deals at five-year high, more help on its way
At stake for the SFO at the hearing was further embarrassment and also potential disruption to some 30 other cases that are affected by the same procedural issue that gave rise to the challenge. The details of those 30 cases have not been disclosed but to have such a large number jeopardized would have been a huge headache for the taxpayer-funded SFO. The SFO has also suffered a spate of bad headlines over large payoffs for former executives approved by ex-director Richard Alderman, who was accused in parliament in March of having run a “sloppy and slovenly” operation. The legal challenge rejected on Monday was brought by Christopher Ronnie, former chief executive of failed retailer JJB Sports who faces charges of fraud and money-laundering, and co-defendant David Ball, an accountant, who faces charges of furnishing false information. Their forthcoming trial will be an important one for the SFO as JJB Sports was a household name in Britain and has been the subject of years of complex investigations. The trial was due to start earlier this month but has been put back for a year, a setback for the SFO, because of doubts that were raised by the agency itself in August about whether the JJB investigation had been properly initiated. “LACK OF EXPERTISE” At issue was the fact that the decision in 2009 to start the inquiry had been made not by Alderman, the then-director, but by Phillippa Williamson, the then-chief operating officer who later became chief executive. Both left the SFO in 2012. Lawyers for Ronnie and Ball argued that under the 1987 law giving the SFO its powers, it was for Alderman alone to make such decisions and he had no power to delegate. “I have concluded, as a matter of law, that he did have that authority,” Judge Nicholas Loraine-Smith said on Monday, lifting restrictions that had previously stopped reporting of the issue. The case was argued during a two-day hearing last week in which internal emails dating back to Alderman’s 2008-2012 tenure were read out. They showed that within weeks of taking up his post, Alderman had been keen to delegate some of his responsibilities because “too much crosses my desk already”. For her part, Williamson had within two days of joining the SFO started looking at whether she could take over responsibility for approving the start of investigations, even though she was aware she may not have the right experience. “We don’t want to fall straight into the trap of exposing our lack of expertise in this area,” she wrote to her secretary in an email described by Ronnie’s lawyer as “chilling”.
NETGEAR 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot Now Available in the UK Through O2’s New 4G Network
Mortgage deals for house purchase rose surprisingly strongly in August to stand at 62,226, the highest since February 2008 and up from 60,914 in July, Bank of England data showed on Monday. The housing market – a national obsession in Britain – has shown increasing signs of recovery, supported by a healing economy and official programmes to bolster lending to consumers and firms. Stronger demand is being reflected in rising prices. House prices in England and Wales posted their biggest month-on-month gain in more than six years in September, a survey showed earlier on Monday. The new mortgage guarantee scheme, part of the broader Help to Buy programme, which was originally set for launch in January, should boost demand further. “The government’s announcement that the Help to Buy mortgage indemnity scheme will start three months early will probably give further upward momentum in coming months,” said BNP Paribas economist David Tinsley. Monthly mortgage approvals could reach around 70,000-75,000 by the end of the year, he said. That compares with a monthly average of around 90,000 before the 2008 financial crisis. Aiming to help people unable to put up a sufficient mortgage deposit, the government will provide 12 billion pounds in guarantees to encourage lenders to extend mortgages of up to 95 percent of the value of properties being bought. Cameron said state-backed banks Lloyds and Royal Bank of Scotland would take part in the programme. Britain’s other major banks have said they are considering whether to join. Last week, Chancellor George Osborne asked Britain’s central bank to play a bigger role in making sure that Help to Buy does not fuel a new property boom. The Bank has so far said that it does not see signs of a bubble in the housing market because activity remains below its levels before the 2008-09 recession. While consumer spending is driving Britain’s economic growth, business lending remains weak. It fell by 3.76 billion pounds in August, the largest fall since December last year, despite the authorities’ year-old Funding for Lending Scheme, which aims to channel more credit to companies.
The UK’s rail network is set to get faster broadband in 2019
Abu Dhabi: The UAE Navy and UK Royal Navy Task Group yesterday launched joint military exercises across the UAE to safeguard maritime security, economic prosperity, and freedom of navigation in the region, a top UK commander said on Monday. The war games codenamed Sea Khanjar, which will last until October 9, will see the UK Response Force Task Group deploys a range of the Royal Navys capabilities, said Commodore Paddy McAlpine, Commander UK Task Group, which forms part of the Royal Navys Response Force Task Group (RFTG). RFTG is the UKs high readiness maritime force, comprising ships, submarines, aircraft and a landing force of Royal Marines, ready at short notice to act in response to any contingency tasking as required by our government. Commodore McAlpine said he was proud to be commanding the Task Group in this years Cougar deployment. This demonstrates the Royal Navy and UKs enduring commitment to the security of the UAE and is an excellent opportunity to build on our strong defence relationship. The Response Force Task Group was formed in 2011 and is based around a Lead Commando Group and provides the UK with a deployable, very high readiness, flexible capability. In order that this capability can be fully maintained for UK contribution to international defence and security, the task group deploys annually, conducting a series of exercises, to something we call Cougar, Commodore McAlpine said. He added this years Cougar deployment has already operated in the Mediterranean and Red Sea, before arriving in the Gulf. Cougar 13 involves exercising with Gulf partner nations in order that together we can safeguard our shared interests of maritime security and economic prosperity, and effectively cooperate on issues such as freedom of navigation in the region. While in the Gulf my Task Group will exercise its capability and continue to strengthen relationships with key partners in the region. The Task Group is not the only Royal Navy presence in the Gulf region. RFTG has ships permanently in the Gulf region, building on our persistent presence engaged with our partners on matters of defence and security. Commodore McAlpine said the Response Force Task Group will be exercising across the UAE. We will be active offshore, and on land. This gives the Royal Navy an excellent opportunity to test the full extent of our ability to undertake force protection measures, air defence exercises and also for the Royal Marines to be able to exercise their amphibious capabilities. He said the exercise will be jointly commanded by the UK and UAE military and will be conducted offshore and on land. This gives the UK and UAE an excellent opportunity to test the full extent of our collective ability to undertake force protection measures, air defence exercises and also for the Royal Marines and UAE Presidential Guard to exercise their amphibious capabilities. It demonstrates the high priority the UK places on its defence and security relationship with the UAE.
The upgraded “high-speed mobile broadband” network will initially concentrate on the busiest 30% of the UK’s rail network, tackling a series of ‘not-spots’ along rail corridors suffering from poor or intermittent mobile phone signal. The infrastructure will be provided by the existing Network Rail (NR) communication network, which is currently involved in a five-year 1.9bn fibre upgrade to support up to 192,000 gigabit per second (Gbit/s) connections and is set to be complete in late spring 2014. The beginning of the end of poor coverage “There are few things more frustrating than trying to phone a friend or access the internet, only to be thwarted by bad signal,” said Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin, unveiling the plans. “Be it hardworking commuters preparing for the day on their journey into work or leisure travellers making final plans for their weekend away, todays announcement marks the beginning of the end of poor coverage on our railways,” McLoughlin continued. Partnering up Network Rail will provide the backhaul required for the network through its existing rail communications network, which relies on masts placed at strategic points along the rails to wirelessly connect to trains. It will then partner with a customer-facing operator to provide internet services to train passengers, in a similar manner to the Virgin Media Wi-Fi offering that is currently available in London Underground stations. The wireless connection will be provided over Wi-Fi or 4G LTE, with Network Rail currently in talks with suitable partners. An official announcement is due in “months not weeks”, according to a Network Rail spokesperson. Will it be included in your mobile data subscription? “Having solid and fast backhaul is a major issue for mobile networks, and it is therefore potentially a very important step if Network Rail can provide it. But it is just that – only potentially important at the moment – as we don’t know how the consumer-facing access to the train-based internet will be handled,”said John Delaney, associate vice president for mobile devices research firm IDC. “From a customer’s point of view the big question is whether train broadband access will be included as part of their existing mobile data subscriptions, like the Virgin Media Wi-Fi network in TfL’s Tube stations,” Delaney added. Not good enough “We recognise that the limited availability of mobile communications on Britains rail network is not good enough,” said a Network Rail spokesperson.
UAE, UK launch joint military exercise
About O2 O2 is the commercial brand of Telefonica UK Limited and is a leading digital communications company. With over 23 million customers, O2 runs 2G, 3G and 4G networks in the UK. As well as operating O2 Wifi and owning half of Tesco Mobile, O2 has over 450 retail stores and sponsors The O2, O2 Academy venues and the England rugby team. Telefonica UK Limited is part of Telefonica Europe plc (a business division of Telefonica SA), which uses O2 as its commercial brand in the UK, Slovakia, Germany and the Czech Republic. About NETGEAR, Inc. NETGEAR ( NTGR ) is a global networking company that delivers innovative products to consumers, businesses and service providers. For consumers, the company makes high performance, dependable and easy to use home networking, storage and digital media products to connect people with the Internet and their content and devices. For businesses, NETGEAR provides networking, storage and security solutions without the cost and complexity of big IT. The company also supplies top service providers with retail-proven, mobile broadband solutions for their customers on the go. NETGEAR products are built on a variety of proven technologies such as wireless, Ethernet and Powerline, with a focus on reliability and ease-of-use. NETGEAR products are sold in approximately 45,000 retail locations around the globe, and through approximately 40,000 value-added resellers.