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tv   Newsnight  BBC News  July 14, 2017 11:15pm-11:46pm BST

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the crux of the problem is this — the same fire in the same tower block elicits wildly different responses from fire services across the country. now, take this building behind me. it's a high—rise building in essex. and if there's a fire here, the first response of the local fire service won't be to send a high ladder. whereas in neighbouring suffolk, they will. lauren irish is a community nurse who cares for a resident inside a tower block. at the end of the day, it's a tower block. you hear that it is on fire, why wouldn't you send the highest ladder you've got to get them out quicker, rather than just sending a little one? what's that going to do? you know, who is going to reach the top floor? it's not fair. that's my opinion on it. it's not. i wouldn't like to be on the top floor. essex fire service say that they have inspected all of their high—rise buildings post grenfell, and that no changes to their response plans are needed. sally leaves lee led the review
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to modernise fire services in queensland, australia. and aerial ladder is now essential for all tower fires in this country. the response time has to be arranged so that it is within 15 minutes. any new policy about aerial ladders must take account of what numbers are needed, because there may not be enough to really adequately provide the risk that we now know is with these buildings throughout the country. the differences in predetermined attendances between various fire rescue services go beyond whether they send an aerial ladder or not. for example, kent sends up three fire rangers to report a tower block files. whereas in neighbouring summary, the same tower block fire gets six fire engines, and aerial ladder and a command support team. a london fire brigade spokesman told newsnight. .. few could have foreseen
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what happened at grenfell. but after the disaster, questions have to be asked about whether there should be a national minimum attendance to a high—rise fire. can it be right that your post code dictates what kind of a response of fire services will deliver? james clayton with that report. now, if you're interested to find out how your local fire service would immediately respond to a tower block fire, then you can do so on the bbc‘s website, where we've created an interactive map with all the data. we asked the london fire brigade for an interview tonight, as well as each of the other services whose plans don't include sending a high ladder automatically to a tower block fire, but nobody was available. i'm joined instead by matt wrack, the general secretary of the fbu. good evening to you. is there any sense in the position that says you don't need to send one?
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london fire brigade say, actually, we deal with these things internally and you assess the situation before you deploy. there's a logic to what london fire brigade are saying, firefighters are trained to fight tower block fires internally because of compartmentalisation. we've discussed this before, and using internal tri— rising mains and so on. what grenfell tower has demonstrated is that the risk has clearly changed, because that is premised on the basis that the fire will not spread externally. including we have a case where fire did spread externally and we now find that other tower blocks around the country are feeling similar tests? should we always be sending high ladders, or now we have seen that we have got dangerous cladding on buildings that we haven't understood and we have seen the risk, it is time to learn from that and sent the aerials?
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there are two points. the other point you have raised, the number of fire engines, is a key issue. the number of firefighters is crucial. in terms of high reach vehicles, aerial appliances, we would generally have said that they should always be in tower block fires. your position is that they always go, but especially after grenfell? yes. why would they not send them out? is it expensive? aerial ladders and high reach vehicles, the problem that we have had is that they are very specialist. they therefore used rarely. sometimes people could use them and don't use them. but they are just sitting around. if they are not being taken to a fire... firefighters can do lots of other things. one of the problems we have identified in our own research is actually, it is also about speed, how quickly do fire engines get that? the majority of aerial appliances in the uk or not permanently crewed. there are even further delays. if you put them on the pda,
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the predetermined attendance, you will probably have to have them always screwed up and it might cost them more? that makes sense. the london ones are permanently crewed. matt, do you trust the people who are running the fire services of the uk to be competent at making these decisions? well, we have raised concerns about this sort of issue for more than a decade. we used to have national standards of fire cover. we now have local so—called risk management plans. what they are in reality is budget management plans. you see that the risk assessments over time, as budgets are squeezed, the response is declined over the past few years. in a way, the government says, look, we leave this up to the local people because they will make up their mind. many of them visit the individual buildings were talking about, so they know the buildings. in kent they said, we don't need to send the aerial initially... at the turn—of—the—century
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it was government funded research about what firefighters do a different types of incidents. you could map out how many firefighters you need to fight a fire in a terraced house, a tower block and so on. i have to say, that was government funded, we've done similar research ourselves. the idea... it depends how many firefighters or on the fire engine, because the number of fire engine itself may not be an adequate clue, how many firefighters are on each fire engine, the idea of sending three in our view is completely inadequate to fight a fire in a tower block. matt wrack, thank you. london have at least as an interim measure it changed their policy sets the grenfell fire. on tuesday, the court of appeal will examine whether to overturn the conviction of a man who is injail on a minimum 20—year sentence for murder. it's a case that goes back to the violent killing in 2006
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of an elderly man in a leafy, prosperous part of north london. it was unique in that some of the subsequent trial was held in secret. did that contribute to a potential miscarriage of justice? well, all such cases of course invite the question — did the man convicted of the crime do it or not? but this one is complicated by an association between the chinese man who was found guilty and mi6. it means reporting restrictions apply in this case. but the journalist and writer thomas harding, who lived in the neighbourhood of the murder, has been intrigued by what happened. he's written a book on it and interviewed the convicted man, wang yam. he's authored this film for us on the case, and there are some potentially upsetting images in it. alan chappelow was bludgeoned to death in his home in 2006. the man convicted of his killing, a chinese dissident who was somehow
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connected to the secret intelligence service mi6. the case has always been shrouded in mystery as the first murder trial in modern times to be held partly in secret. the court of appeal is due to decide whether the guilty verdict should be overturned. we've spoken exclusively to the man behind bars, who always claimed he suffered a miscarriage ofjustice. i'm thomas harding. i grew up here on downshire hill in hampstead, north london. i knew the victim alan chappelow as the eccentric who lived four doors up the road from me. after he was killed, the house was knocked down and redeveloped. it's recently been on the market for over £14 million. i've spent the past year writing
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a book about this story. i want to get to the bottom of what happened to my neighbour. an author and photographer, who wrote about george bernard shaw, alan wasn't close to many people. peter tausig lived two doors down the street from him. alan chappelow was part of downshire hill. he was one of the original characters. one would always see him wandering up and down the street in his grubby raincoat with his belt tied round his waist or on his old motorbike which he kept in the garden. but he was so incredibly proud of this ramshackle house. you used to see him up on the roof repairing leaks with sellotape. i felt terribly sad when i heard about his death. police found 86—year—old alan chappelow‘s body buried under half a tonne of his own book manuscripts after being strangled and beaten to death. over the past year, i've had a number of conversations
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with peter la nsdowne, the murder inquiry‘s senior investigating officer. he is portrayed in our film by an actor. it was a real whodunnit, it took two days of searching his house. we saw his foot. lansdowne believes alan chappelow had been the victim of fraud, which led to a burglary gone wrong. you have seen a lot of murders, have you ever seen any bungled burglary with such a high—level of violence? not that i can recall, no. does that raise questions in your head? do you think, oh, maybe? very few. i'm still supremely confident we've got the right man. i find it hard to believe that those brutal pictures of alan were the result of a robbery that had gone wrong. keri nixon is an expert in criminal behaviour. this is an excessive use of violence, if it was
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a bungled burglary. the burglar would likely use some violence to incapacitate the person and they would get out as quickly as they could. what they have done here, they've used an excessive use of violence and they've then taken a long time to bury the body amongst all the manuscripts and rubbish that we can see here. that's not what a burglar does. just days before he was killed, alan called the inland revenue, worried he'd been a victim of mailfraud. this is the audio recording of that call. within days of finding the body, the police had identified
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their prime suspect. when they arrived at his flat to arrest him, they soon discovered that their suspect had fled to switzerland. the police went through wang yam's rubbish and discovered he had been involved in various suspicious financial dealings. soon after, they obtained cctv images of him using alan's checks for bankcards. but they found no forensic evidence tying wang yam to the crime scene. the police also had audio recordings ofa the police also had audio recordings of a chinese sounding man calling banks and pretending to be alan. this is one of them. asa
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as a police officer, how do you go to the murder? it seems so circumstantial. all of the transactions on the account were linked to wang yam or an oriental mail with similarities to wang yam. everything adds up. could it be anyone else? and the answer has to be, very, very unlikely. there is no evidence he had ever been in the house. no. no evidence he had touched allan chappelow. no forensic evidence. no evidence. but no evidence. no evidence. but no evidence that anyone else had,
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either. could there be a viable alternative? we didn't find one. wang yam is currently serving a 20 year sentence and is being held in prison. he continues to maintain that he is innocent. i am the first journalist to interview wang yam. over the past year i have spent 25 hours speaking with him by telephone. following his arrest in switzerland, wang yam was extradited to britain. why do you think your client was innocent? there was no evidence at all fore nsically there was no evidence at all forensically that he had committed this crime. there were no traces of blood found upon clothing and there we re blood found upon clothing and there were no witnesses seeing him. there was nothing in his flat. he had no
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history of violence and to beat someone history of violence and to beat someone to death where you have not a violence bowed in your body is unusual in the extreme and is highly unlikely to occur. i've been given exclusive access to correspondence written by a wang yam's solicitors to the cps before the murder trial. it is clear from this that his lawyers felt crucial information was not being disclosed, in particular wang yam's relationship with mi6. his lawyers also attach this letter from the ministry of defence, which invited wang yam in for an interview and faint invented by a full his cooperation. because of a 2008 court order, we are not allowed to learn any more about our group to's work for mi6 or how it relates to his defence. i questioned wang yam about whether he had asked the police to get in touch with mi6 after being
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arrested. you told them already off the record that you were with mi6? what i can tell you, this was in open court, is that he was trying to get alongside pretty serious criminals in order to gather information as to their illegal activities. to take that information and report to the appropriate authorities. i authorities you mean mi6? i can't go any further. his defence has given in open court was
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that he was gathering information of illegal activity and was taking that information to report back to appropriate authorities. i can't tell you any more as do those authorities were, as to why he was in that position first place, because all of that was in camera, in secret. a few weeks after i started speaking to wang yam i received a letter from the attorney generals office, let me know that they were aware of my research at reminding me of the court's press restrictions. it stated: breach of this order is contempt of court. somebody murdered alan chappelow. there was no other option. that is what you have to rely on at the end of the day. there wasn't an alternative and almost without exception. i think it is without exception. i think it is without exception. if it looks like a
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murderer and smells like a murderer, it probably is the murderer.m there were other people prowling around the streets looking at people besides the suspect wang yam, would that begin to undermine the no alternative concept? it could do. it begins to nibble away, doesn't it? it has two, yes. but there was no intelligence information. nothing like that. have there been other attem pts like that. have there been other atte m pts to like that. have there been other attempts to do fraud in this manner? there was nothing like that. so you think you got the guy?” there was nothing like that. so you think you got the guy? i am absolutely confident. absolutely confident. what else do we know about this case? there is very limited information on the public domain. but one of the few sources is the supreme courtjudgement and it states that wang yam claimed he had been given cheques and credit cards by gangsters and that he was playing along with them as a means of assembling evidence them and reporting them. but because of court
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restrictions, there is little more we can learn about his defence. and extraordinarily we can't even speculate about why parts of the trial were heard in secret. freelance crime reporter duncan campbell has been following this story for years. he believes the issue at the heart of this case is whether the interests of the british intelligence services were prioritised over wang yam's right to afair prioritised over wang yam's right to a fair trial. the official reason for holding the trial in secret was for holding the trial in secret was for national security. the real reason i think was to avoid embarrassment. mi6 were embarrassed that they had in working with somebody who was a little bit rackety and as far as they were concerned could possibly have been involved in crime and even in murder. years after wang yam was found guilty, a new witness came forward. we wrote an article in the guardian in early 2014 and a couple
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of days after it appeared i got this e—mail. dear duncan, i read your article today with interest. i lived article today with interest. i lived a few doors down from this back in 2006. the following february, after wang yam was already arrested, i opened the door to find a man with a knife going to outpost. what i am amazed by it the fact that the local police did not immediately pass this on to people involved in the alan chappelow case and i think it is shocking that wang yam's defence we re shocking that wang yam's defence were unaware of this and shocking that nothing was done about it at the time. do you think wang yam should have been found guilty of the murder of alan chappelow? no, i think you should have been acquitted. i think the jury if they had no that while he was imprisoned someone was carrying out a had no that while he was imprisoned someone was carrying out a similar type of crime that the jury would have acquitted him. he didn't have a fair trial. this new witnesses '
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testimony was taken under review. i asked the former senior investigating officer peter lansdown what he thought about it. have you heard what happened today at the criminal case's review commission? no, i've been away. i'vejust come back. on this case? yes, they referred it to the appeal scores. oh my god, i didn't know that at all. on what basis? the referral is based on new evidence relating to the failure by police to reveal to the crown prosecution service the consequence to the —— deprive the material that could have assisted the defence or undermine prosecution case. i don't even know what they are talking about. sometimes you have problems remembering things, correct? yes. this is my question. is it possible when it is late at
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night and you are lying on your bed imprisoned, you ask yourself, maybe idid it, imprisoned, you ask yourself, maybe i did it, ijust don't remember? no, never. never. i never lost my memory. i never lost my conscience in that degree. i believe there are strong indications that wang yam suffered a miscarriage of justice. indications that wang yam suffered a miscarriage ofjustice. there are no forensics licking him to the scene of the crime. the secret trial may have meant that witnesses didn't come forward and any failure to disclose potential evidence could seriously undermine the prosecution's case. if the court—— court of appeal overturned the verdict, the question then is: who killed alan chappelow?
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thomas harding with his take on the wang yam case there. newsnight contacted the metropolitan police for comment on that claim that another similar burglary in the same street was not passed by local police onto met officers investigating the chappelow murder, or to wang yam's defence team. the met said it was unable to comment given the ongoing judicial proceedings. a spate of acid attacks occurred in east london last night — five attacks in all, and in each case the victims were riding mopeds. two of the victims were couriers for food delivery services, deliveroo and uber eats. two teenagers have been arrested in relation to the attacks. there had been reports of robberies of mopeds in hackney, at the heart of last night's attacks, but not until now with acid. but even before these attacks, there had been concern that acid was becoming a more common weapon, with 458 reported incidents in london last year. what is going on?
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jaf shah runs the charity acid survivors trust international. and down the line from brighton is dr marian fitzgerald, who is a professor of criminology at the university of kent, and was previously a researcher at the home office. start us off on the evolution of the types of crime. as i understand it it's gone from being a revenge, scarring crime of men on women to a gang weapon to some degree? the odd thing is, we have returned to how acid attacks were committed 200 years ago in the uk, where there were many more gang—related activities. that's been the case as we have run through in the 20s, 30s, graham green wrote brighton rock where the main protagonist carries a container full of acid where he attacks other gangsters.
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it is not a new phenomenon, that is the first in to point out, but what is different about what is occurring now, the trend is very different, globally it is men attacking women. 75% of victims are women and girls globally. the uk is unique, what we are experiencing here is predominantly male on male attacks. this takes you back to the gang aspect, effectively. should we view this as a new crime or is this old crimes and there is a new weapon, perhaps because we have clamped down on guns and knives and this is the next thing available? well, i think that we do need to see it in wider terms. the danger is we will get a political knee jerk response which targets acid,
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targeting the weapon, but we have had many of these initiatives and i think you have to distinguish between these sort of things like lethal weapons which can only be used for that purpose, guns being the most obvious example, which should be made illegal, other than where their ownership is justified and licensed, as opposed to a very wide range of things which are not only readily available in most domestic circumstances but which are absolutely necessary. knives themselves come into that category. now we have acid. you have got things like sharpened styling cones. people have been killed with sharpened pencils. someone was killed with a broken bottle. you can't ban those things. and if people find it too difficult because there's a lot of focus on one particular weapon, the people who are determined to go out there and cause damage to other people, whether for gain or simple — to perpetrate violence for whatever reason, they will choose whatever
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weapon is available, they're most likely to be able to get away with. so you've got to target the people. not just keep on endlessly trying to tighten up on the use of everyday objects which can be used for that purpose but there is an infinite variety. do you agree? i absolutely do. i do also believe we should introduce controls around concentrated sulphuric acid, which does enormous lifelong damage. take us through it. a toilet cleaner or something, a bleach or something, is completely different? it depends on the concentration of acid in any of these household products compared to the concentrated acid, which you can purchase without a licence, which does enormous damage. that is for cleaning drains?
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it could be for cleaning metals, treatment of some sort, but... that comes into the category of guns, rather than... exactly. but i agree with the point that was made. we are talking about it, is there a source of infectiousness about it, that the more we talk about it the more people will feel this is the thing to do? well, if someone is looking, whether in the spur of the moment, trying to do damage or whatever, but something to hurt them with, in so far as acid is now being mentioned, and is getting further publicity, it may well be that we see an increase in these things. because they may not have previously thought that under the kitchen think —— sink is something that might do damage,
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but now they might. so i think we will see an increase while the focus is on this, but then there will be something else. it is a question of, domestic violence is one thing, and what sort of weapons are used and this is an extension of what is used by more criminally minded people. they will always you something. you need the intelligence to know who they are. you have got to target them rather than what they are using. i understand. thanks very much. that's it for newsnight this week. but don't go yet, because it's been the first night of the proms this evening. it's the last night, with its raucous packages, and it gets much of the attention, but we thought we'd balance things out over the summer with a proms playout each week. and to start us off, we bring you the vocal ensemble i fagiolini, who open the proms lunchtime chamber series on monday. they are acclaimed monteverdi specialists, and this is the 450th anniversary of his birth. here they are with anima mea perdona. have a great weekend.
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