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Britain has no plans to extend bombing or send troops to Libya, the defence ministry said in a statement Tuesday, after a committee of lawmakers said the nation could deploy a force of 1,000.

The House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee had said that Britain could be part of a 6,000-strong international force in Libya, which has been riven with unrest since the fall of longtime dictator Moamer Kadhafi in 2011.

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon was expected to agree Britain's contribution to the force at a conference in Europe this week, the committee added.

But a government spokeswoman said that the Foreign Affairs Committee was "wrong on a number of counts."

"There are no plans to extend airstrikes to Libya nor are there plans to send British troops to provide security on the ground in Libya," the spokeswoman said.

"It is therefore also wrong to suggest the Defence Secretary will agree any UK contribution this week."

Western countries have agreed that action is needed to dislodge Islamic State (IS) jihadists from Libya but world powers say they want a national unity government to request help before formally intervening.

 

 

Buckingham Palace hit out Wednesday at a report claiming that Queen Elizabeth II favours Britain leaving the European Union, calling in the national press regulator in a rare move.

"Queen backs Brexit", splashed The Sun, Britain's most-read newspaper, on its front page, with a photograph of the monarch and the sub-heading "EU going in wrong direction, she says".

"Queen spoke with venom and emotion," said the page two headline in the notoriously eurosceptic tabloid.

But Buckingham Palace insisted Queen Elizabeth, sovereign since 1952, did not take sides in politics, in line with her constitutional duty.

The stand-off marks a deterioration in relations between the palace and the British media, with The Sun striking a notably less reverential tone this year, in which Queen Elizabeth marks her 90th birthday on April 21.

The same newspaper in July last year published images showing the queen giving a Nazi salute as a young child in the 1930s in a personal family film reel.

Britain is due to vote on June 23 on whether to remain a member of the 28-member EU.

"The Queen remains politically neutral as she has for 63 years," a palace spokesman said.

"We will not comment on spurious, anonymously sourced claims. The referendum is a matter for the British people to decide."

He added: "We have this morning written to the chairman of the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) to register a complaint about the front page story in today's Sun newspaper."

The Sun tabloid said it would defend the complaint "vigorously".

 

- Queen 'let rip' at deputy PM -

The newspaper cited an anonymous "senior source" who said that Queen Elizabeth had "let rip" at pro-EU politician Nick Clegg during a lunch in 2011 when he was deputy prime minister.

 

 

London mayor Boris Johnson on Monday accused Barack Obama of "hypocrisy" following a report that the US president is heading to Britain next month to make the case for the UK to stay in the European Union.

"Coming from Uncle Sam, it is a piece of outrageous and exorbitant hypocrisy," Johnson, a leading member of the campaign for Britain to leave the EU in a June referendum, wrote in his regular column for the Daily Telegraph.

"Can you imagine the Americans submitting their democracy to the kind of regime that we have in the EU?" he asked, adding: "This is a nation born from its glorious refusal to accept overseas control."

Johnson went on to point out that the United States does not accept that its own citizens could be subject to the rulings of the International Criminal Court and does not recognise other jurisdictions.

"In urging us to embed ourselves more deeply in the EU's federalising structures, the Americans are urging us down a course they would never dream of going themselves," he wrote.

 

 

The UN commissioner who investigated human rights in North Korea on Friday recommended establishing a panel of experts to study how crimes against humanity in the reclusive state can be punished.

"What do you do if we bring home powerful evidence of crimes against humanity -- and a veto" from one of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council "prevents you taking it further? How can you deal with that problem?" said Michael Kirby at a conference in London on human rights in North Korea.

Creating a panel of experts "would be a good step because it would keep the focus on the follow up and actions on the COI (Commission of Inquiry) report" he produced, said the Australian judge.

Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein, the UN high commissioner for human rights, said in December that it was essential to take cases to the International Criminal Court.

However, China, traditionally Pyongyang's closest ally, could always wield its UN Security Council veto.

In London, Kirby said it was vital for the international community to keep Beijing engaged because China "likes to keep talking, and there lies the hope on the issues of Korea".

 

 

Prime Minister David Cameron stands accused of unleashing "Project Fear" to try and keep Britain in the EU at a June referendum -- but experts say both camps are resorting to negative campaign tactics to win support.

Cameron's old friend and nemesis Boris Johnson, who came out for Brexit in a surprise snub to the premier last month, has led the attacks with a string of well-crafted broadsides accusing the "Remain" camp of scaremongering.

"The agents of Project Fear -- and they seem to be everywhere -- have warned us that leaving the EU would jeopardise police, judicial and intelligence cooperation," Johnson wrote in the Daily Telegraph shortly after announcing he would support the "Leave" camp.

"In every case, the message is that Brexit is simply too scary -- and the reality is that these threats are so wildly exaggerated as to be nonsense."

Another leading anti-EU figure, Cameron's welfare minister Iain Duncan Smith, accused the other side of "spin, smears and threats".

But neither side is innocent of the charge of negative campaigning, according to observers ahead of the June 23 referendum.

 

"The reality is that so far, this campaign has largely been Project Fear meets Project Fear," said Raoul Ruparel, co-director of think-tank Open Europe.

"This also suggests that the campaign will predominantly be fought on the issue of risk."

 

Five men involved in a daring London heist that drew comparisons with the film "Ocean's Eleven" -- albeit with pensioners filling the lead roles -- were jailed for a combined total of 34 years on Wednesday.

Prosecutors called the raid on Hatton Garden, London's jewellery district, the "biggest burglary in English legal history", netting £14 million ($20.1 million, 18.5 million euros) worth of booty including jewellery, gold and cash.

A jury at Woolwich Crown Court in southeast London last month convicted Carl Wood, 59, and William Lincoln, 60, of conspiracy to commit burglary, and also conspiracy to conceal, convert or transfer criminal property.

Hugh Doyle, 48, was also found guilty of concealing, converting or transferring criminal property.

Another four men -- John Collins, 75, Daniel Jones, 61, Terrence Perkins, 67 and Brian Reader, 77 -- earlier pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to burgle.

 

Rupert Murdoch married model Jerry Hall in London Friday less than two months after they got engaged, prompting the media mogul to describe himself as the "luckiest" man in the world.

It is the fourth marriage for 84-year-old Murdoch and technically the first for Hall, 59, although she had a long-term relationship and four children with Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger.

The couple tied the knot in a civil ceremony at Spencer House, an elegant 18th-century mansion in London's exclusive St James's district which was built for an ancestor of the late Diana, princess of Wales.

Murdoch wore a blue suit while Hall sported a pale trenchcoat and flat shoes as the couple smiled for photographers following the ceremony.

"No more tweets for ten days or ever! Feel like the luckiest AND happiest man in world," Murdoch wrote on Twitter shortly afterwards.

The couple, who have 10 children between them, are expected to hold a ceremony of celebration on Saturday at St Bride's Church on London's Fleet Street, where celebrity guests will reportedly include actor Michael Caine and London Mayor Boris Johnson.

While no major national newspapers are based there any more, Fleet Street is the historic heart of Britain's press and St Bride's calls itself "the spiritual home of the media".

With an estimated fortune of more than $11 billion, Murdoch owns some of the world's most famous newspapers including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Post and British tabloid The Sun.

His third marriage to Wendi Deng ended in 2013 amid media reports that she had developed a crush on Britain's former prime minister Tony Blair. Blair has denied any impropriety.

Hall had a Hindu wedding ceremony with Mick Jagger in 1990 in Bali, although a court ruled the ceremony was not legally binding when they split up nine years later.

 

Captain Eric Brown, a legendary Royal Navy pilot who flew 487 types of aircraft and survived 11 plane crashes, died in hospital on Sunday at the age of 97.

Brown, known as "Winkle", was a world record holder, flying more types of aircraft than anyone else in history and making 2,407 landings on aircraft carriers.

He was also the most decorated pilot of the Fleet Air Arm, the Royal Navy's airborne wing, earning the British royal honours MBE, OBE and CBE.

British Astronaut Tim Peake tweeted a tribute from space: "So sad to hear that Capt Eric 'Winkle' Brown has died - to my mind the greatest test pilot who has ever lived. A true inspiration."

 

London's mayor Boris Johnson on Sunday threw his weight behind the campaign for Britain to leave the European Union, in a blow for his old friend and rival Prime Minister David Cameron, who had appealed for his backing.

"After a great deal of heartache... I will be advocating vote 'Leave'," Johnson said, making his long-awaited announcement to a large crowd gathered outside his home in north London.

Johnson, a popular politician from Cameron's Conservative Party who is seen as a potential successor to the British prime minister, said he wanted ties with Europe based on "trade and cooperation" and not "a political project".

He said Cameron had done "fantastically well" in negotiating concessions from European Union leaders at a summit last week that paves the way for a membership referendum on June 23.

But he added: "I don't think anybody could realistically claim that this is fundamental reform of the EU or of Britain's relationship with the EU".

- 'Better off inside the EU' -

The declaration will be seen as a key victory for supporters of a British departure from the EU -- or "Brexit".Compared to other anti-EU politicians, the mayor of London is popular even with those who do not share his political views, thanks to his witty soundbites and shambolic appearance.

"I'm really disappointed that he's backing leave because I think we should stay," said Andy Burton, 36, a director at a healthcare company who watched Johnson make his statement alongside around 70 other passers-by.

"He's just got a real presence, he's very popular, he will sway Londoners".

 

Every night Andrew, Cristian and Shafiqul visit a church in the wealthy central London district of Westminster to share a meal and get a place for the night sleeping off the cold and wet streets.

Currently homeless, the three are among 15 people given places to sleep by six churches and a synagogue, alternating on a daily schedule, as part of the "Westminster Winter Night Shelter" programme.

The network has grown to encompass more than 90 such shelters across Britain, including 24 in London, compared to just a handful in the early 2000s.

"There's 50 percent more people sleeping rough now than there were five years ago in London," said Jon Kuhrt, executive director of social work at the West London Mission, a Methodist group that helps the homeless in central London.

There were 7,581 homeless people in the British capital in 2014-2015, compared to 3,673 in 2009-2010, according to official estimates.

"In the last 10 years, we've seen more and more ordinary people on the street," said Peter Mwaniki, a coordinator at the Mission

"That's been the biggest shock to the system. The churches have stepped in where the government was not able or not willing to do it," he said.

Kuhrt added: "Rents are ridiculously high in London and we have a real problem with affordable housing".

"When that's combined with relationship breakdown, with refugees, with people coming from Eastern Europe for work, it puts a huge amount of pressure on all the systems and more and more people end up sleeping rough."

Poverty rates have remained broadly stable during years of budget austerity under Prime Minister David Cameron's governments, even though economic growth and employment levels have recovered.

The use of food banks has risen sharply, with one of the main charity providers, the Trussell Trust, reporting a 19 percent increase between 2014 and 2015.

- Community atmosphere -

The shelters are particularly suitable for people who find themselves unexpectedly homeless, without suffering from problems like addiction, and just need temporary support to allow them to find housing and, for those without employment already, a job.

Shafiqul, 37, lived in Westminster for 15 years before he found himself on the streets just before Christmas, following an argument with his wife.

A British citizen originally from Bangladesh, Shafiqul was able to join the shelter in mid-January.