this is bbc news. i'm clive myrie. the headlines at 11.00: america's top intelligence officials have warned that russian cyber attacks pose a major threat to the us and beyond. the justice secretary wants to close a loophole which allows domestic abusers to cross—examine former partners during some court hearings. latest figures suggest britain's services sector grew in december at its fastest rate for 17 months. the rmt union has agreed to meet the transport secretary in an attempt to resolve the southern rail dispute. on newsnight, we discuss the difference thatjill saward made to the treatment of violence survivors, campaigning for changes to the judicial system. good evening and welcome to bbc news.
american intelligence officials have given a stark warning about the threat posed by russian cyber attacks. the outgoing us national intelligence director, james clapper, told a senate hearing he hasn't come across a more aggressive campaign to interfere with an american election than russia's actions in last year's race for the white house. mr clapper, who will brief donald trump about his findings tomorrow, said the hacking of democratic party emails had been ordered by the kremlin. here's our north america correspondent nick bryant. washington is investigating what could be the biggest political break—in since watergate. in the ‘70s, it was the building belonging to the democratic national committee that was burgled. in 2016, it was the computer system at the party's present headquarters. a robbery in cyberspace, rather than in person. and us intelligence believes it was orchestrated by vladimir putin, from the kremlin, to help donald trump win the election.
i want to welcome all our members back to the committee. today, those allegations were aired publicly on capitol hill at this republican—controlled congressional committee. every american should be alarmed by russia's attacks on our nation. there is no national security interest more vital to the united states of america than the ability to hold free and fair elections without foreign interference. that's why congress must set partisanship aside, follow the facts, and work together to devise comprehensive solutions to deter and defend against and, when necessary, respond to foreign cyber attacks. america's director of national intelligence, james clapper, said he stood more resolutely by a statement released in october, before the election, that moscow was interfering to help donald trump. he was asked if that was an act of war. whether or not that constitutes an act of war, i think, is a very heavy policy call that
i don't believe the intelligence community should make, but it would certainly carry, in my view, great gravity. the president—elect has repeatedly rubbished the notion that he achieved a kremlin—assisted victory, and has publicly poured scorn on america's spies. he's also spoken approvingly ofjulian assange, the founder of wikileaks, who released the hacked e—mails and claimed the russians weren't involved. that's enraged senators from both parties. who actually is the benefactor of someone who's about to become commander—in—chief trashing the intelligence community? i think there's a difference between scepticism and disparagement. director clapper, how would you describe mr assange? i don't think those of us in the intelligence community have a whole lot of respect for him. then, this blunt and direct message for president—elect trump from a senior member of his own party. i want to let the president—elect
know that it's ok to challenge the intel, you're absolutely right to want to do so, but what i don't want you to do is undermine those who are serving our nation in this arena until you're absolutely sure they need to be undermined. and i think they need to be uplifted, not undermined. trump tower these days has its own micro climate of twitter storms, and today was no different. the president—elect took to social media to complain thatjournalists were being dishonest in saying he agreed withjulian assange and that he was a big fan of the intelligence community. it's emerged tonight that the prime minister, theresa may, is to visit donald trump next month. our political correspondent chris mason is at westminster with more details. what more do we know? downing street are saying they will be meeting with the new president. theresa may expected to fly to washington as
soon as next month, we think. downing street sources say spring, but february seems pretty likely. what we now know as well is how this meeting has come about. there is an interesting timeline into the conversations that have been happening between downing street and the president—elect‘s transition team. downing street had a double dose of embarrassment shortly after donald trump had won the american election, because nigel farage, the former ukip leader, turned up at trump tower and posed for that photo in front of the golden lift doors. then donald trump suggested nigel farage would be a good ambassador for the uk farage would be a good ambassador forthe uk in farage would be a good ambassador for the uk in washington. all of this before theresa may had had a chance to meet donald trump. it now turns out in the second phone call between downing street and trump tower, there was an arrangement that senior officials from the uk would go over to meet his transition team. crucially, they could not have been
more seniors within downing street. nick timothy and fiona hill are the joint chiefs of staff of the prime minister. almost like right and left leg. they are really, really important in downing street. it gives you some sense of how keen theresa may was to establish at the highest level short of her visiting herself as good a relationship as possible between downing street and what will soon be the white house. 0k, what will soon be the white house. ok, chris, thank you for that. chris mason at westminster. there's evidence that britain's services sector grew at its fastest rate for 17 months in december. services, which include areas such as retailing and banking, make up more than three—quarters of the uk economy. earlier i spoke to our economics editor kamal ahmed. it looks like 2016, despite the gloomy predictions of what might happen if britain voted to leave the european union, which we did, don't seem to have come true. we could now be the fastest—growing economy in europe when those figures are finally published at the end of this
month. interestingly, the chief economist at the bank of england, i went to an event he spoke to today at lunchtime, and he welcomed the figures and said he was optimistic the 2016 had been stronger in terms of growth, and many had predicted including the bank. he thought the bank had been maybe too pessimistic. these very good figures are based on the great british shopper, who has kept spending despite the warnings of what the brexit vote might bring. but he did also send a note of caution, a note of warning, when he said this you could be tougher. inflation looks like could be ahead and higher prices for consumers. the fall in the value of the sterling since the referendum means imports on food, and fuel are more expensive. that will feed through to consumers who could see higher prices. that means overspending. that means possibly some tougher headwinds for the economy this year and next year. but impossible at
this stage certainly to predict how much of a knock the economy could ta ke much of a knock the economy could take in 2017. yes, forecasts are a lwa ys take in 2017. yes, forecasts are always a white bed of possibilities. today we have been speaking to consumers on the street out shopping and also to business owners —— wide range of possibilities. one woman owns a card shop in glasgow and had had a good christmas, but was worried because all the suppliers had put their prices up already by 10%. she would have to be feeding through those prices to consumers in the future. consumer confidence is one of the most important things when it comes to the performance of the british economy. inflation expectations, the concerns consumers have their prices might be higher in the future, are going out. consumers are the future, are going out. consumers a re pretty the future, are going out. consumers are pretty savvy. they know at the moment interest rates are very low and employment rates are very high. real incomes are growing and they
are feeling good. they are spinning. it does not mean they will keep spending if any of those figures turning a bit more negative —— they are spending. the way domestic abusers are dealt with in family courts in england and wales looks set to change. the justice secretary, liz truss, wants to stop the growing practice of abusers questioning their own victims — adding to their ordeal. one woman in four can expect to experience domestic violence during her lifetime. at the moment, two women are killed every week in england and wales by a current or former partner. earlier i spoke to denise lester, a solicitor specialising in family law and domestic abuse, who explained the difficulties that can occur when alleged perpetrators are allowed to cross—examine their victim. the problem is that for the public, the family courts are secret, so this goes on regularly across the country, and unlike the criminal justice system, where perpetrators are actually barred from examining
the victim and facing them directly, and there is an intermediate scheme in place, this actually happens in the family courts. you have seen it? yes, i have seen. what did you think about it? i have seen it only very recently. i heard the horror story of one woman amongst many who, for example, asked for screens. had to face her perpetrator. for every victim of domestic abuse in the courts, they are facing and rebuilding what has gone before. it does not enable them to present their case and does not necessarily enable the courts and judiciary to deal justly enable the courts and judiciary to dealjustly and enable the courts and judiciary to deal justly and fairly with the issues before the court, especially if men are seeking child contact, child arrangement orders, and if there are issues which need to be
tried. jill saward, who became a campaigner for victims of sexual assault after she was raped during a burglary at her father's vicarage, has died. she was 51 and had suffered a stroke. ms saward was savagely assaulted by two men in ealing in west london in 1986. she became the first rape victim in the uk to waive her right to anonymity, and spent much of the rest of her life crusading for better treatment of survivors of sexual assault from the courts and police. a 30—year—old man has been charged with firearms offences in relation to a police operation in which another man was shot dead by an officer on monday. moshin amin from dewsbury will appear before magistrates in the morning. a postmortem has found yassar yaqub died from wounds to the chest after the car he was in was stopped on a slip road off the m62 near huddersfield. the rmt union and transport secretary chris grayling are to meet to discuss directly for the first time the long—running dispute over operating train doors
on southern rail. unions argue the extension of driver—only services, where drivers rather than guards open and close carriage doors, is unsafe. but the industry regulator insists it's a safe method. steve hedley, who's senior assistant general secretary of the rmt, says he understands that passengers want to see an end to the industrial action that's caused such misery. it has been going on for nine months, and during that entire time, we have asked to meet chris grayling and his predecessor on numerous occasions. the department for transport are pushing this whole policy of driver only operation. it is not just policy of driver only operation. it is notjust opening the doors. that is notjust opening the doors. that isa is notjust opening the doors. that is a small part of it. it would do away with the person who actually helps people safely through a drowning. they are essential to safety. but the government might be
listening to this after all this time, it is our invitation to meet the rmt, although that is the way they are trying to spin it, that it is their invitation. we are hoping we can meet in good faith and try to sort it out —— through a derailment. a quick look at the papers. they rejected donald trump's dismissal of findings that russia intervened in the election. jill saward has died at the age of 51. the pair because her the bravest of the brave. the mail pays tribute to her and has a story on civil servants working on brexit asking for a pay rise due to unsustainable pressures. new homes are being built on floodplains, 1200 properties being built in what the paper cause danger areas. the telegraph's top story is the admission by the bank of england's chief economist that its warning of
a downturn in the wake of the brexit vote were wrong. the times also beat on optimism regarding the british economy and use the theresa may will visit donald trump after her two most trusted aides began what it calls a secret mission to build bridges. and the six—day run of highs of the ftse 100. bridges. and the six—day run of highs of the ftse100. you are up—to—date on the news and the papers. time for newsnight. it could have been a disaster but downing street sees its quick replacement of our ambassador to the eu as a sign that the brexit negotiations are on track. but is there a bigger problem down the line? as european capitals talk up the danger of this kind of brexit, britain's most senior eu official tells newsnight he has strong doubts about our negotiating strategy. can you buy access to the single market? it's not something that's on sale in that way. i find that rather extraordinary. you're a foreign country outside it and you conclude agreements with the european union if you want to and it wants to.
also tonight, jill saward who died today made history when she waved her anonymity as a rape victim so she could re—educate britain'sjudges. leading lawyer helena kennedy talks about the difference she made to the law. and this. we mustn't be late for the six o'clock whistle. whistle sounds band plays remember when a day's work actually came to an end? would you, too, like the right to disconnect your e—mail after hours and just relax, just like in the good old days? that's what the french have decided to do. can we really go back to all that? do we want to? good evening. the appointment of sir tim barrow as britain's eu ambassador