House prices suffer biggest fall since records began


House prices: Dropped by more than £25,000 over the past year. Photo: Cate Gillon/Getty

House prices fell by 1.8% in August, bringing the average price of a property in the UK below the government’s new stamp duty threshold, figures showed today.

The UK’s largest lender, Halifax, said the average price of a property had fallen by 12.7% since last August – the biggest fall since it began publishing a monthly survey in the early 1980s.

Prices have dropped by more than £25,000 since August 2007 when the average cost of a home was £199,612, and by more than £3,000 since July.

Read moreHouse prices suffer biggest fall since records began

EU is throwing habeas corpus out of the window

British citizens could be convicted in their absence by foreign courts for traffic, credit card or other criminal offences under plans approved in principle by the European Parliament.

The proposals would allow citizens to be extradited automatically under fast-track procedures at the request of another European Union country on the basis of a decision by the foreign court.

The overwhelming adoption by the Parliament of the proposals, which now go to the Council of Ministers, was condemned yesterday as “throwing habeas corpus out of the window”.

Philip Bradbourn, the Conservative justice and home affairs spokesman in the European Parliament, said: “This initiative would enable courts to pass judgments in absentia. It goes against one of the most fundamental corner-stones of British justice – that the accused has a right to defend himself at trial. If other EU countries want to go ahead with this proposal that’s their choice, but the British Government should have no part [of it].”

Read moreEU is throwing habeas corpus out of the window

Scotland launches schoolgirls’ anti-cancer health programme

A PROGRAMME to vaccinate schoolgirls against the virus that causes cervical cancer begins today.
Schools in several Scottish areas will begin vaccinating pupils aged 12 and 13 from this week.

They will be the first in the UK to receive the jab as part of a nationwide programme announced last year.

Read moreScotland launches schoolgirls’ anti-cancer health programme

Scramble for cash as central banks dry up

British banks soon could be scrambling for short-term funding once more amid reports that supplies from Threadneedle Street and from Frankfurt may be drying up.

The Bank of England explicitly ruled out extending its Special Liquidity Scheme (SLS), while the European Central Bank is reportedly considering tightening its lending criteria.

The two central banks have been huge suppliers of liquidity to British banks. The SLS is thought to have provided £50 billion or more, while the ECB has lent banks €467 billion (£378 billion) – much of it thought to have gone to UK institutions.

Read moreScramble for cash as central banks dry up

EU, Dependent on Russian Energy, Balks at Georgia War Sanctions

Sept. 2 (Bloomberg) — European Union leaders refused to impose sanctions on Russia over the invasion of Georgia, acknowledging their reliance on Russian oil and gas at a time of faltering economic growth.

EU leaders took the symbolic step yesterday of suspending talks over expanded trade ties with Russia, fearing that tougher measures would expose the energy-dependent bloc to Russian retaliation.

Russia is the 27-nation bloc’s main supplier of oil and gas and third-biggest trading partner, giving it leverage at a time when the European economy threatens to tip into recession. Europe’s determination to maintain business links also undercuts U.S. efforts to line up allies against the reassertive Russia.

Read moreEU, Dependent on Russian Energy, Balks at Georgia War Sanctions

Alarm as nurse and dog are treated for bovine TB

A veterinary nurse and her dog have contracted bovine TB, raising fears that the high level of disease in some parts of the country could spread to more humans and pets.

The woman, from Cornwall, has been treated for the respiratory infection. Her daughter has also been tested for the disease and has received medication, The Times has learnt.

Read moreAlarm as nurse and dog are treated for bovine TB

Home Office: Recession will bring big rise in crime and race hatred

Ministers are bracing themselves for a rise in violent crime and burglaries and a shift to far-right extremism as the effects of the economic downturn take their toll, a leaked Home Office report to the Prime Minister says.

In a series of warnings, the Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, says that Britain also faces a “significant increase” in alcohol and tobacco smuggling, hostility towards migrants and even a potential rise in the number of people joining terrorist groups.

Read moreHome Office: Recession will bring big rise in crime and race hatred

UK: Housing sales sink to worst for 30 years

· Estate agents average one deal a week as prices fall
· Rics calls for tax-free cash help for first-time buyers

The government is being urged to act swiftly to help drag the ailing property industry up off its knees as housing sales slow to their worst level in three decades and prices continue to decline.

Read moreUK: Housing sales sink to worst for 30 years

Legal bid to stop CERN atom smasher from ‘destroying the world’

The world’s biggest and most expensive scientific experiment has been hit by a last minute legal challenge, amid claims that the research could bring about the end of the world.


Opponents fear the machine may create a mini-black hole that could tear the earth apart Photo: PA

Critics of the Large Hadron Collider – a £4.4 billion machine due to be switched on in ten days time – have lodged a lawsuit at the European Court for Human Rights against the 20 countries, including the UK, that fund the project.

Read moreLegal bid to stop CERN atom smasher from ‘destroying the world’

Women warned not to wear perfume during pregnancy

PREGNANT women have been advised to avoid using perfumes or scented body creams after research suggested the products can cause unborn boys to suffer infertility or cancer in later life.

Research on rats carried out by Professor Richard Sharpe has found that the reproductive system of male foetuses can be damaged as early as at eight weeks’ gestation by chemicals including those found in many cosmetics.

The damage can result in in fertility or testicular cancer – both growing medical problems across the world – said Sharpe, principal investigator at the Medical Research Council’s Human Sciences Unit.

Read moreWomen warned not to wear perfume during pregnancy