Spanish police have arrested two men on suspicion of killing a British pensioner in the Costa Blanca.
The pair, a 49-year-old Dutchman and a 33-year-old Spaniard, were held after a lengthy investigation by the Civil Guard into the 70-year-old’s death during a violent robbery at her home south of Alicante.
Police say one of the men was a friend of the victim and she let him in before they stole cash he knew she kept in the house.
She received a fatal blow to the chest as they fled the crime scene.
Two men were arrested after a 70-year-old British pensioner died in Granja de Rocamora (file image, a nearby police station)
The homicide happened on November 18, 2019 in Granja de Rocamora in the Vega Baja del Segura region south of Alicante.
Both suspects are being held in prison on suspicion of homicide and robbery with violence.
A spokesman for the Civil Guard said: ‘Homicide squad officers in Alicante have resolved the death of a British woman aged 70 whose body was found on November 18 last year at her home in Granja de Rocamora where she lived alone.
‘It was a female friend who alerted police after discovering her body on the floor with apparent signs of violence.
‘There were no clues at the scene of the crime that helped officers.
‘The only certainty was that she opened her door voluntarily because there was no forced entry.
The Grupode Homicidios of the UOP of the Alicante Command identified and detained the two alleged perpetrators
‘After months of analysis the theory that the victim knew her alleged killer gained ground.
‘The alleged motive could not be established until the arrests took place.’
The spokesman added: ‘One of the detainees is a 49-year-old from Holland and the other a 33-year-old Spaniard.
‘The police investigation has revealed both went to the property to rob her and one, a friend of the victim, knew she would open the door to him.
‘Knowing she kept money at the property, they took 600 euros. As they fled, apparently to knock her out of the way, one of them delivered a fatal blow to her chest which ended her life.’
A date for their trial has not yet been set.
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ANDREW PIERCE: Patrick Vallance made £5m from company racing to find vaccine
For it has emerged that Vallance (above) holds shares worth £600,000 in GlaxoSmith-Kline, the drugs giant racing to develop a Covid vaccine. Not so long ago, he sold other shares worth £5million
During a rare interview, Sir Patrick Vallance, the Government’s chief scientific adviser, was asked to describe himself in three words. He replied: ‘Introverted, curious… and geeky.’
Yesterday, jaws across Britain dropped when they learned quite how accurately he might have added a fourth adjective: rich.
For it has emerged that Vallance holds shares worth £600,000 in GlaxoSmith-Kline, the drugs giant racing to develop a Covid vaccine. Not so long ago, he sold other shares worth £5million.
A senior Tory MP was not alone in arguing that his current shareholding represents a ‘potential conflict of interest’ with Vallance being at the heart of the Downing Street race to find a vaccine against coronavirus.
The MP added: ‘If he is making decisions on vaccines and advising the Government on them then he either needs to divest himself of the shares or make a declaration… Every time he is talking about vaccines or on TV, he should put it on the table.’
Even more surprisingly, it appears that Vallance, chairman of the Government’s expert advisory panel on vaccines, did not think it necessary to inform Boris Johnson or Health Secretary Matt Hancock about his shares.
Mr Hancock admitted yesterday: ‘The first I knew about it was when I read it in the newspapers.’
If GSK produces a successful vaccine against the coronavirus, it stands to make billions from the discovery – and Vallance’s shares could be expected to rocket, potentially making him yet more millions.
Already, the US government has provided £1.65billion to GSK and its partner Sanofi for vaccine development.
Vallance was president of research and development at GSK, Britain’s biggest drug company, between 2012 and 2018, when he left to become a top mandarin.
‘I think you will find Patrick Vallance is the wealthiest civil servant in the history of Whitehall,’ said one senior source last night.
If GSK produces a successful vaccine against the coronavirus, it stands to make billions from the discovery – and Vallance’s shares could be expected to rocket, potentially making him yet more millions. A researcher is pictured above in a GlaxoSmithKline lab in 2009.
Not surprisingly, given his wealth, Vallance has a gourmet palate, favouring langoustine, pigeon with figs and rare cheeses, though he admits he rarely drinks his expensive wine collection.
If he had his time all over again, he once said he would have liked to train as a chef.
The image of fine dining could not be further from the Vallance who appeared on TV next to the similarly gloomy chief medical officer Chris Whitty in a dispiriting press conference – leading to the duo being dubbed ‘Glum and Glummer’.
In previous appearances flanking the Prime Minister with Whitty, Vallance often seemed dour and defensive. He was regularly asked about the prospects of Britain developing the first viable Covid vaccine.
Joining the Government, he took a huge pay cut. He was on £780,000 at GSK but is now paid around £180,000, although it is clear he could afford the reduced salary.
With his wife Sophia Ann, whom he married in 1988, he bought a large, fire-damaged house in south London two years ago for £1.85million, paying cash.
The new house requires extensive renovation – though happily the couple sold another house in south London last year for £2.95million, which may help to fund the works.
Vallance was born in Essex in 1960 and educated at Truro school in Cornwall, where boarding fees today are almost £30,000 a year.
He studied medicine at St George’s at the University of London, becoming a senior lecturer in medicines policy and for a while was a doctor seeing patients – but it did not suit him.
‘Every time I didn’t give a patient enough time,’ he said.
‘Every mistake I made resulted from not giving 100 per cent to the patient I was with – and it is dreadful to short-change people when they are at their most vulnerable.’
Vallance was president of research and development at GSK, Britain’s biggest drug company, between 2012 and 2018, when he left to become a top mandarin
In 2006 he joined GSK as head of drug discovery and four years later became head of medicines, then president of research and development.
He may be ‘geeky’, but he is also passionate about certain causes, including assisted suicide which, interestingly, is not Government policy.
‘Having had both of my parents ask me to help them die, I support doctor-assisted suicide for terminally ill people under certain conditions,’ he has said.
Knighted in the New Year honours list in 2019, Vallance eschews party politics but is a huge admirer of Aneurin Bevan, the Welsh Labour MP who was one of the founders of the NHS. ‘I understand the true and lasting importance of Bevan’s remarkable vision.’
Despite the growing brouhaha about his vast shareholding and potential conflict of interest, Boris is keeping this adviser close.
The Government insists he has done nothing wrong.
A spokesman for the Cabinet Office said that ‘appropriate steps were taken to manage [Vallance’s] interests in line with advice provided at the time… The chief scientific adviser has no input into contractual and commercial decisions on vaccine procurement which are taken by ministers following a robust cross-Government approvals regime’.
Vallance himself has remained tight-lipped about the matter. His self-professed ‘introversion’ may continue to serve him well.
This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk
Coronavirus UK: Dr JOHN LEE mourns the tragedies CAUSED by lockdown
As every doctor has known since the time of Hippocrates, the primary rule every physician must obey is simple: ‘First, do no harm.’
The best surgeons I encountered during my career as an NHS consultant were those who knew when to stand back and not to operate.
They had the humility to understand when their surgical skills would not save a life, or usefully prolong one for the benefit of the patient.
I despair as I watch this Government, following a flawed scientific narrative, turn the challenge of a nasty coronavirus into a national tragedy and economic disaster.
Shamefully, it is doing so while the medical profession, cowed into bureaucratic obedience, offers endorsement through silence instead of constructive criticism.
A photograph of a boy, one, and his 88-year-old grandmother greeting each other through the glass during the coronavirus pandemic
Because the NHS behaved foolishly in the early days of the pandemic, admitting too many people and then forcing hospitals to discharge elderly patients into care homes, we have lost more people than our European neighbours, with some 42,000 deaths.
The Great Plague of 1665-1666 wiped out almost a quarter of London’s population in 18 months.
In living memory, the Hong Kong flu epidemic of 1968 cost some 80,000 lives in Britain, yet there were no demands then for a national or global shutdown.
Government policy has mutated from ‘protect the NHS’ to the very different aim of driving down cases in all age groups until an effective vaccine emerges in the spring, along with flowers and butterflies.
Britain’s Chief Medical Officer for England Chris Whitty (left) and Britain’s Chief Scientific Adviser Patrick Vallance, both wearing face coverings due to the COVID-19 pandemic, leave from 11 Downing Street in central London on September 21
But the Government has taken action to destroy businesses without any proper cost/benefit analysis of their draconian measures.
Some people may find it too gruesome to ponder, but the Government and private companies routinely place a value on a human life.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) puts a figure of between £20,000 and £30,000 on what is known as a quality-adjusted life year, or QALY.
Any time an expensive new cancer, or cystic fibrosis, or heart disease drug is considered for use, it must first satisfy NICE’s rigorous, coldly-objective modelling of whether it is effective and offers value for money. In other words, is the cure worth the cost of the treatment?
If Boris Johnson were applying this same logic to his anti-Covid measures, data would be published to assess the projected savings in lives against the huge economic costs of pushing parts of the economy into hibernation and the huge loss in QALYs caused by the action taken.
The Government has failed to provide this analysis, either because they haven’t bothered to commission it, or because the results are just too embarrassing. The truth is that in their hearts, ministers probably already know that the cure is worse than the disease.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a visit to Northamptonshire Police Headquarters in Northampton on Thursday
I am of course not suggesting that the elderly should be left to their fate because they only have a few years to live. But surely they must exercise their own judgment about what makes life worth living and whether to shield themselves from a virus that can be lethal to them but is very light on the young.
Contrary to what Mr Johnson seemed to be suggesting during his television address this week, we are not all equally at risk of Covid. Indeed, the virus discriminates viciously against the ill, the elderly and the obese. But I have never understood the bizarre moral equation that tries to justify shutting down swathes of NHS capacity and stops treating people who are ill today in order to protect people who might fall ill tomorrow from Covid.
It is the medicine of the madhouse, and I’m afraid that it has been the hallmark of the Government’s handling of this pandemic almost from the beginning. It will take many years for the NHS to make good on the non-Covid ill-health legacy caused by the actions taken.
Covid-19 has proved to be a disaster for this country but, increasingly, it is becoming a scandal. How can the Twin Horsemen of the ‘Coronapocalypse’, Sir Patrick Vallance and Professor Chris Whitty, go in front of cameras to introduce measures condemning thousands of British businesses to oblivion without taking a single question from journalists to justify their actions?
Chris Whitty’s background is in public health, a wide discipline, yet the only thing he has talked about in public for seven months is one disease.
What about the wider context of the nation’s public health, the spike in suicides, the depressions exacerbated by solitude, the missed appointments.
Commuters disembark a London Underground train. Chris Whitty’s background is in public health, a wide discipline, yet the only thing he has talked about in public for seven months is one disease
Our hospitals are operating at a fraction of their capacities. Oncologists warn of an extra 30,000 deaths from cancers currently going undiagnosed.
Stroke and heart attack victims are going untreated, diabetics are not being properly monitored, all to slow the advance of a virus that is currently killing fewer than 40 of the 1,600 people who die every day in the UK.
The worst thing about Mr Johnson’s latest pronouncement was his refusal to accept that ‘the science’ is by no means settled. He is following a cabal of committee men and women in the grip of groupthink.
I challenge the Prime Minister to organise a televised public debate so that those scientists and doctors who have no faith in his strategy can challenge his in-house ‘experts’. Diversity is how we approach truth.
We need to know who is advising whom, and what is the expected cost of shutting down the economy against the lives that hypothetically might be saved by the measures introduced this week.
At the moment the dissident voices are silenced, and all but squeezed off the BBC. This is a perversion of the way science progresses, through debate and dispute and the free exchange of evidence. Most urgently of all, his experts must explain what happens in the spring if, as I expect, the vaccine does not miraculously bring salvation.
Then the Prime Minister will have to accept that the cure he has adopted really is worse than the disease. Even more shockingly, he will learn the hard way that Pandora’s Box is open and the only ‘cure’ for this virus is to learn to live with it.
- Dr Lee is a former professor of pathology at Hull York Medical School and a recently retired NHS consultant.
This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk
Rishi Sunak unveils a replacement for furlough scheme
Rishi Sunak yesterday unveiled his plan to replace furlough with a scheme to top up workers’ wages – only for businesses to warn it would not prevent major job losses.
The Chancellor said the Jobs Support Scheme (JSS), a form of wage subsidy, would be brought in after furlough is wound down at the end of next month – and last until May.
It could benefit millions, but is far less generous than the furlough scheme – with the state’s contribution falling from 80 per cent of a worker’s wages to a maximum of just 22 per cent.
And it leaves employers potentially having to hand over more than half of their employees’ pay – though they may only be working a third of their hours.
The CBI last night welcomed the scheme as a ‘bold step’ that would help to reduce the ‘scarring effect’ of unnecessary job losses on the economy.
Firms’ loan deals extended
Small businesses will have more time to pay back Government-backed loans in a ‘pay as you grow’ scheme, the Chancellor announced yesterday.
Companies which have taken a coronavirus ‘bounce-back’ loan will be given several more years to pay them off, and be able to defer their tax bills.
Rishi Sunak said these companies would have the right to pause repayments for up to six months without it affecting their credit rating.
‘Right now, businesses need every extra pound to protect jobs, rather than repaying loans and tax deferrals,’ he told MPs.
Almost 1.3 million companies have borrowed £38 billion through the bounce-back loan scheme since May, giving some a vital lifeline as business dried up.
These firms will now be given ten years to pay off the loans of up to £50,000, an increase from the former six-year terms.
But other business groups and bosses warned that it was nowhere near enough to prevent a wave of redundancies this autumn when furlough ends.
The Treasury believes take-up will be anything between two and five million people. At the top end, the scheme could cost £9billion over six months.
The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) also warned it was ‘significantly less generous’ than furlough which has cost around £6billion a month, compared with the £300million cost of this scheme if one million workers take it up.
Yesterday, Mr Sunak told MPs the furlough scheme could not continue indefinitely, and that he could not commit to saving every job – indicating that many would lose theirs once the JSS comes in.
The Chancellor said the JSS would ‘directly support the wages of people in work, giving businesses that face depressed demand the option of keeping employees in a job on shorter hours, rather than making them redundant’.
In his statement, Mr Sunak said the economy was likely ‘to undergo a more permanent adjustment,’ adding: ‘The sources of our economic growth and the kinds of jobs we create, will adapt and evolve to the new normal.’
But Jane Pendlebury, head of the Hospitality Professionals Association, said: ‘The latest measures, whilst offering support, don’t really go far enough given the fact the industry genuinely is on its knees.
‘While we’re pleased to see the implementation of the Job Support Scheme… it still won’t prevent major job losses.’
Unlike the furlough scheme, which protected all jobs, the JSS will only prop up ‘viable’ ones – meaning staff must work at least a third of their hours to qualify.
A worker doing a third of their hours will be paid for these by their employer as usual.
Carol Stewart, 62, will no longer face being sacked by her son under the Chancellor’s Job Support Scheme
On top of that, they will receive two-thirds of the remainder of their wages.
Half of this top-up payment will be paid by the employer, and the other half by the Government.
Overall, it means the person receives almost 78 per cent of their original wage, with 55.5 per cent coming from the employer and 22.2 per cent from the state. These percentages change if a person works more hours.
MPs’ fears for art sector
The arts sector faces a ‘grim future’ of unprecedented redundancies, despite the new job support scheme, Tory MPs have warned.
The sector has been one of the worst hit by the pandemic, with all live performances stopped.
Nearly half of all workers in the arts have been furloughed, and many could lose their jobs at the end of the scheme next month.
Last night, the chairman of the digital, culture, media and sport select committee, Julian Knight, welcomed the new scheme, but added: ‘It still leaves many hundreds of thousands of workers in events, arts and cultural parts of the economy with a grim future.
‘The job support scheme may not be able to stop unprecedented redundancies and many organisations from facing extinction.’
For example, those working half their hours will receive 83 per cent of their wage, with the Government committing 17 per cent.
All firms with 250 employees or fewer will be eligible for the wage support concept, which starts in November and runs for six months, but larger businesses will have to prove their profits have been hit by the pandemic.
The payment will be based on an employee’s normal salary, with the Government contribution capped at £697.92 per month.
After three months, the Government can increase the minimum number of hours that must be worked to qualify.
Eligible employees must have been on the payroll since at least September 23.
However, Treasury rules say workers cannot be made redundant or put on notice while a Jobs Support Scheme grant is being claimed on their behalf.
As with the furlough scheme, employers will be reimbursed by the Government after the work has been done.
Employers who keep furloughed staff on to take advantage of the scheme will also receive the £1,000 job retention bonus.
Dame Carolyn Fairbairn, director general of the CBI, said: ‘These bold steps from the Treasury will save hundreds of thousands of viable jobs this winter.’
But Paul Johnson, director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, said: ‘When the furlough scheme expires that is likely to translate into sharply rising unemployment.’
Yesterday the Bank of England’s chief economist, Andy Haldane, told ITV Tonight that ‘long-term scars’ could be left on the economy if people remained unemployed for too long because of the pandemic.
Thanks, Rishi, but this is nowhere near enough
By Miles Dilworth Money Mail Reporter
Peter Hall Peter Hall, 72, who runs Farlam Hall Country House Hotel in Brampton, Cumbria, with his wife Bb, 67
A luxury hotel manager said the Chancellor’s VAT break is ‘nowhere near enough’ to make up for new restrictions on the hospitality sector.
Peter Hall, 72, who runs Farlam Hall Country House Hotel in Brampton, Cumbria, with his wife Bb, 67, praised Rishi Sunak for his generosity.
Mr Hall said the VAT cut from 20 per cent to 5, which began in July, had allowed the hotel to offer ‘better deals than ever before’.
He welcomed yesterday’s news that the break would be extended until March 31. But he said Boris Johnson had ‘effectively cancelled Christmas’ by imposing limits on numbers and a 10pm curfew.
And under the Chancellor’s Job Support Scheme, Carol Stewart no longer faces being sacked by her son.
Mrs Stewart, 62, who works at travel goods company OneNine5, furloughed by son Alex, 31, in March – and faced potential redundancy when the scheme ends in October.
Mrs Stewart, of Garstang, Lancashire, said she felt ‘edgy’ about her job security before yesterday.
But the plan to subsidise the pay of staff working fewer hours than normal means she will be able to return to work.
So just how on earth do we pay the bill? Rishi Sunak now finds himself trying to pull off a difficult balancing act, writes RUTH SUNDERLAND
The plunge back into lockdown has left the Chancellor with a near-impossible task.
Previous rescue packages were based on the hope that by now, we would be emerging from the Covid crisis and going back to normal.
Instead, Rishi Sunak finds himself trying to pull off a fiendishly difficult balancing act.
His aim is to wean businesses off the hugely expensive furlough scheme, which has kept many afloat artificially and has been supporting ‘zombie’ jobs.
He has to stem the tide of taxpayers’ money flowing out of the coffers and fend off the worst peacetime budget crisis in modern history.
At the same time, he wants to protect jobs that are viable, given some short-term aid.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak with Frances O’Grady, General Secretary of the TUC and Dame Carolyn Julie Fairbairn, Director General of the CBI
So what are the measures, will they work and the all-important question: how on earth will we pay the bill?
National debt stands at £2trillion and counting so it is testament to Mr Sunak’s competence and sangfroid that he injected a note of optimism that we can thrive if we just learn to live with the virus.
The centrepiece of the winter economic plan is the Job Support Scheme. Billed as the successor to furlough, it aims to prop up firms facing a drop in demand due to the virus.
It also ends the undesirable element of furlough whereby millions of employees were paid by the taxpayer to do nothing.
The new scheme is much less generous. For a start, no-one will be paid to remain totally idle: it is only available for staff putting in at least a third of their normal hours.
Employers will pay full wages as normal when staff are at their posts. They will also pay a third of the bill when people are not working, with the Government paying another third.
Unfortunately, it leaves employers far worse off than under furlough and in the invidious position of having to pay staff wages for time off when they aren’t producing anything.
The scheme is meant to be temporary and it certainly could not be sustained long-term.
Shelling out wages in return for zero productivity would torpedo any bottom line.
A recently closed House of Fraser store on Richmond High Street in London
Employees, too, are out of pocket unless their company pays the remaining third of their normal salary.
Yes, it is better than having no job at all, but it also means reduced spending power and confidence, which will hold back the economic recovery.
And it may not be possible to tell the difference between a ‘viable’ and an ‘unviable’ job. It seems inevitable that, as with furlough, many firms will sign up for the support and end up having to sack people anyway.
In already highly stressed sectors, such as retail and hospitality, there have to be severe doubts over whether firms will feel they can afford to participate.
Many businesses have already started redundancy consultations and it is doubtful whether this will be enough to make them relent.
The Chancellor did not provide costings for the Job Support Scheme but it is plain it is vastly less generous than furlough.
The subsidy equates to around 22 per cent of an employee’s salary if they are only working a third of normal hours, compared to 80 per cent under the furlough scheme when it was first deployed.
That is a big extra cost to employers. Put it another way, independent economists estimate the bill for the new measure could add up to around £3billion, which sounds a lot but is a mere fraction of the £35billion so far for furlough.
The self-employed will also see their help taper off in the coming months.
The Chancellor did not provide costings for the Job Support Scheme but it is plain it is vastly less generous than furlough
Measures include an extension of the temporary VAT cut for hospitality and tourism to the end of March next year, which is welcome and will help cashflow.
Businesses that have taken on subsidised emergency borrowings are being given longer to pay them back.
The length of these loans has been extended from six years to ten, which will dramatically cut monthly repayments.
The sting in the tail is that firms will be burdened with debt for longer, which means they have less scope to invest in future and will act as a drag on the economy in years to come.
None of this is to say the Chancellor has done the wrong thing. He was right to launch a huge lifeboat for the economy in the spring and he is right to extend a further helping hand now.
Painful as it may be, businesses and individuals do need to be weaned off the ultra-generous schemes that have been provided thus far.
Some will inevitably go to the wall, which is awful for those concerned. But the Chancellor is not in the business of illusory magic money trees: he wants to help firms with strong roots and real prospects to grow.
He cannot countenance writing blank cheques until a vaccine arrives, if it ever does.
The public finances are already shot to smithereens.
Government borrowing is already forecast to hit £300billion this year and following the announcements yesterday, some economists are predicting it could rise as high as £370billion.
One small consolation is that we are fortunate we went into this with strong public finances.
And the surge in borrowing, though the bald numbers look alarming, is actually not an imminent problem. Interest rates are low, our national credit rating is good and the Bank of England can carry on printing money.
Ominously, however, Mr Sunak intimated he will be making ‘difficult decisions’ in the future, in other words, tax rises and spending cuts.
But we cannot tax a battered economy back to health. Nor will taking an axe to Government spending, desirable though it may be for other reasons, create a burst of prosperity.
We need to grow our way out of trouble. That means learning to live with the virus, opening up the economy and conquering our fear.
This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk
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