this is bbc news, i'm luweksa burak. the headlines at 8pm. the department for transport defends its decision to award a contract for nearly £14 million to a shipping company with no trading record, as part of its preparations for a possible no—deal brexit. the uk and france step upjoint patrols and increase surveillance to tackle a rise in the number of migrants trying to reach britain in small boats. violence and claims of vote—rigging, as the polls close in bangladesh's general election. the opposition calls it a farce and demands a new vote. the parents of a british man murdered by his chinese wife win custody of their six—year—old granddaughter, but have been forced to leave their grandson behind. and in half an hour, and in halfan hour, i and in half an hour, i will be looking back on a momentous year for
the royal family, including a memorable royal wedding. that is review 2018, the royal year, with me. good evening and welcome to bbc news. the department for transport has defended its decision to award a contract for nearly £14 million to a shipping company with no trading record as part of its preparations for a possible no—deal brexit. seaborne freight has been contracted to provide ferry services carrying goods vehicles from ramsgate to 0stend. a bbc investigation has established that the company has never run a ferry service and has no significant assets. our business correspondent joe miller reports. these are the large ferries that will carry thousands of lorries across the channel to relieve congestion at dover in the event of a no—deal
brexit as soon as march. but while two large international shipping firms have been awarded contracts to provide extra crossings at locations like portsmouth and plymouth, one british business has been handed millions of pounds by the department for transport on the promise of reviving this terminal with a regular route to belgium. ramsgate‘s commercial port has been dormant for the best part of five years. currently, no large ferries depart from here, but the government has given almost £14 million to a firm called seaborne freight, which has never sailed a vessel and has no significant assets to get a regular service up and running injust three months. as of a couple of months ago, the compa ny‘s total share capital was valued at £66. and this is seaborne freight‘s website, which says it serves the needs of cross—channel freight traffic and claims that freight ferry services operate between ramsgate and 0stend, even though there is as yet no such service in operation.
0ne local councillor told me he believes seaborne is in no position to provide any service. as a conservative, ifeel that as a shell company which is a company that exists just on paper it is a complete waste of money of £14 million of taxpayers‘ money to provide what will be an unsustainable service across the channel here at ramsgate. the department for transport acknowledges seaborne freight, which was set up by seasoned shipping industry figures, is just a start—up but insists it was carefully vetted. and the company's chief executive is adamant that it will have ships to provide a service in time for brexit day on 29th march. but when we asked them to name the vessels it would use on the route, the company declined to do so. a campaigner who opposes the use of ramsgate as a commercial port had a simple question in response. if you have ships, you can name them, but everybody in the industry does not believe seaborne freight has any access to ships at the moment.
the government hopes it won't have to resort to contingency plans. it prefers a negotiated exit from the eu. but regardless of whether seaborne freight‘s services are ever needed it could keep some taxpayers‘ money. another example, critics say, of a failure to plan properly for a no—deal brexit. and joe miller has more details on why seaborne was awarded the contract by the government. we know that for some time, the government has believed in the event of a no—deal brexit, it would need additional capacity at ports other than dover to relieve traffic down to the coast and to get vital supplies through. but only in the last few weeks has it started awarding contracts to shipping firms to get that capacity. two international firms with existing fleets got big contracts and one small british firm without any existing vessels. it's fair to say that
chris grayling's department of transport probably didn't want us to know anything about these contracts. they were sneaked onto a government portal on christmas eve and we only found out about them because a data firm alerted us. it's also worth noting that if the government hadn't given a contract to this small british firm worth £14 million, that other contracts would have gone to french and danish firms and we would be in a position where it was two eu firms who were benefiting from a no—deal brexit. joe miller in ramsgate. and we'll find out how this story and many others are covered in tomorrow's front pages at 10.30pm and 11.30pm this evening in the papers. our guests joining us tonight are entertainmentjournalist and broadcaster caroline frost, and parliamentary journalist tony grew. the home secretary has said britain and france will step up action to deal with the growing number of migrants crossing the channel in small boats. sajid javid, who's returned early from his christmas break,
said he'd discussed the situation with his french counterpart. more than 200 migrants have made the journey in the past two months. today, six iranian men were found at kingsdown in kent. from there, alexandra mackenzie reports. cold, wet and exhausted, iranian nationals on a beach in kent. they arrived on an inflatable boat this morning. they received medical assessments and were questioned by immigration officials. this afternoon the beach was busy with locals. it's fairly calm today, it is quite mild, but that's just not a crossing that people should be making. the home secretary has spoken to france's interior minister. in a statement he said... these are the shores that migrants are desperate to reach.
but what happens next depends partly on how the problem is tackled across the water in france. here in dunkirk, volunteers help migrants. it is thought government attempts to clear camps has led to organised crime gangs encouraging many to leave france. in boulogne, locals say boats have been stolen to aid these journeys. translation: here it is very easy to get a boat to go to england. to steal a boat is easier to steal than a car. than stealing than a car. if you use a professional fishing boat the maritime authorities think it's a fishing man going fishing. back in kent, the coastguard helicopter surveys the shoreline, as many other migrants are expected
to risk their lives on this perilous journey. a 21—year—old man has died following an incident outside a house in wigan. officers were called by the ambulance service shortly after 9.30pm on friday evening following reports a man had been assaulted on bickershaw lane in abram. william livesley was taken to hospital but died from his injuries yesterday. police are questioning a 57—year—old man. a man who died after a minibus overturned in the scottish borders yesterday has been named by police. rossjones barker was 59 and from east lothian. six other men are in hospital with serious injuries. the president of the european commission, jean—claude juncker, has urged britain to get its act together and stop expecting the eu to solve its problems over brexit. the comments come as the senior brexiteer minister liam fox said the chances of britain leaving the eu will only be 50—50 if mps reject the prime minister's brexit deal.
he said if the deal is rejected, that would shatter the bond of trust between the electorate and parliament. a british couple whose son was murdered by his chinese wife have won custody of one of their grandchildren after a long legal battle. ian and linda simpson are due to return to the uk later this week after reaching a deal during a court hearing over christmas in rural china. but they've been forced to leave their other grandchild behind. laura westbrook reports. eight—year—old jack and six—year—old alice have been at the centre of a long international custody battle. their british father, michael, seen here with them, was stabbed to death in his apartment in shanghai by his estranged chinese wife last year. weiwei fu is now serving a life sentence for murder. since their dad's death, jack and alice have been living with their chinese grandparents.
they haven't been told what happened to their parents. their english grandparents want to raise them in the uk. in a heartbreaking decision, they agreed to a custody deal to bring just their granddaughter alice back to the uk, leaving jack with his chinese family back in china. they will also have to pay them £10,000. ian simpson says bringing both of the children to the uk is what his son would have wanted. michael raised them very much in a western style. they spent a lot of time, they spent two visits a year over here. they speak english and... they were already talking about a divorce, weiwei, and she was... weiwei was happy that the children would go with michael. because he was the real carer. so as far as we're concerned, that's where they should be. he's told the bbc that their campaign to have both of their grandchildren back in the uk will continue, but for now, these two siblings
will live thousands of miles apart. 0pposition parties in bangladesh say they'll reject the outcome of today's election, which has been marred by accusations of vote—rigging and violence which has left 18 people dead. early results suggest the prime minister, sheikh hasina, will win a third successive term. her supporters praise her for turning the country into one of asia's fastest—growing economies, but critics say her government is corrupt and repressive. 0ur correspondent yogita laymaye is in the capital, dhaka. her report contains some flashing images. clashes outside a polling centre in dhaka. they spot a reporter and try to stop him from filming. it was just one of the many violent incidents in bangladesh on election day.
others were more deadly. but in large parts, polling did go off peacefully. this indoor basketball court was the women's section of a voting booth for the day. after they had cast their ballots, people's fingers were marked with ink. bangladesh's prime minister, sheikh hasina, has been in power for ten years but she's confident she will be back. "i firmly believe we will win the election," she says. she's been credited with bringing development to the country and tackling islamist militancy. but her government has also been accused of cracking down on the opposition. two days before the polls, i asked her to respond. look, all the allegations they are making but they couldn't prove it. 0n the one hand they are placing allegations and on the other hand they are attacking our party workers and leaders. the opposition is calling the election a farce. people have been killed,
people are being arrested, candidates have been arrested. it is unprecedented. unprecedented. unheard of, could not be dreamt of. these are workers from prime minister sheikh hasina's awami league standing outside a polling booth and this is something we have seen across the city of dhaka today. behind me, all of the political posters you can see are also from the same party. in contrast, presence of the opposition on the streets is really hard to find. that left people split on whether they wanted to participate. translation: the process was ok. i was a bit worried that my vote might have been stolen but i did get to vote. translation: all the parties did not get equal opportunities to campaign. that is why i did not cast my vote. in one part of bangladesh, the bbc saw ballot boxes which had been filled even before polling began. now those and all the other boxes are being opened and counted.
it is widely expected that prime minister hasina will win but it will be a controversial victory. a powerful storm in the philippines has killed at least 22 people. the philippine disaster relief agency said a tropical cyclone which moved through the eastern philippines' visayas and bicol regions had caused widespread landslides and flooding. local media say dozens of other people are missing or trapped by landslides. polls have closed in the presidential election in the democratic republic of congo. it could result in the first peaceful transfer of power since independence in 1960. in some places, the new electronic voting machines had failed to work, causing long queues. some polling stations remained open after the scheduled closing time. the final result is expected be announced in a week's time. the final result is expected to be
announced in a week's time. earlier our correspondent, salim kikeke, was at a polling station in the capital kinshasa and sent us this report. many of the 39 million voters registered in the drc will have voted by now. for those who haven't, some of the polling stations like this one are still open, for those who haven't had a chance to vote. it has been quite a challenge for the electoral commission, they're using voting machines for the first time, but for the voters themselves, some have had an easy ride, walking to the polling station, cast their votes and go home. but for some, in a polling station like this one, they have spent hours trying to practice their they have spent hours trying to practise their constitutional right to vote. but for many, the whole experience has been quite smooth. "i'm happy," she says, "because i was lucky to vote and i was the last person to vote." translation: not too many
problems, everything went well. it was all calm. translation: i voted at 2pm and spent about two minutes, that's it. the electoral commission has assured that each and every voter will get a chance to vote tonight. now, once the voting is complete, the process of counting begins, and according to the electoral commission, provisional results of the presidential poll will be announced on the 6th of january. those results will be confirmed on the 15th of january, and on the 18th of january, the electoral commission will swear in the new president of the democratic republic of congo. just an update on that. we are getting reports of four deaths of
election—related violence in a province. so four deaths related to that election taking place in the democratic republic of congo. it is 17 minutes past eight. the headlines on bbc news. the government has defended its decision to award a £14 million contract to a shipping company with no trading record, as part of its preparations for a possible no—deal brexit. britain and france have agreed to implement what they're calling an enhanced action plan, to prevent migrants crossing the english channel on small boats. the main opposition alliance in bangladesh has described today's general election as farcical, and has demanded a fresh vote. sport, and here's a full round—up, from the bbc sport centre. good evening.
with liverpool moving nine points clear at the top of the pl yesterday, all eyes on manchester city to see if they could put their recent dip in form behind them. they made the long trip to the south coast to face southampton. after back—to—back defeats in the league, they came away with a valuable win to trim liverpool's lead at the top before the two teams face each other on thursday. each other on thursday. as andy swiss reports. after three defeats in four matches, the furrowed brow said it all. pep guardiola knew his manchester city side could hardly afford another slip—up, not that one seemed likely when david silva promptly put them ahead. but as so often recently, their lead proved precarious. a spot of defensive dallying and southampton were level. hojbjerg with a stunner was another shock in store. southampton thought so. james ward prowse thought he should have had a penalty but this wasn't to be his or his
team's day. moments later city took the lead in fortuitous fashion, ward—prowse deflecting raheem sterling's shot into his own net, and in first—half stoppage time sergio aguero's header all but ended the contest. southampton‘s only impact after the break courtesy of it's now three wins from three for 0le gunnar solskjaer, following jose mouinho's sacking. manchester united's interim manager watched paul pogba score twice as united beat bournemouth 4—1 at old trafford. you have to enjoy sitting down and watching the boys enjoy themselves. it's the biggest compliment you can
get when you see the players working like this and the enjoyment we have of working hard and that's the foundation of any team. chelsea moved five points clear of fifth placed arsenal thanks to a 1—0 win. a vital three points for burnley in the day's other game. they beat west ham 2—0 at turf moore. susanna dinnage has pulled out of replacing richard scuadamore as the chief executive of the premier league, as it's believed she wants to remain in broadcasting. the tv executive currently with discovery was announced as his successor in mid—november, with the understanding she would take up her new role early next year. she was called by those who led recruitment process as the outstanding choice from a very strong field of candidates. bath moved up to fifth place in rugby union's premiership after their 23—16 victory over leicester. bath scored three tries to leicester's one, with ruaridh mcconnochie racing down the line for the third. elsewhere, bristol beat
newcastle falcons 35—28. in the pro14, dragons narrowly beat 0spreys 23—22 to record their first welsh derby league win in four years and their first success over the 0spreys in six years. there was some fortune to this. one of their two tries. a long—awaited win. australia are 2—1 down in their test series with india after slipping to defeat in melbourne, leaving the visitors on the brink of a first series win down under. australia still needed 141 more runs to win at the start of the final day but only had two wickets remaining, and they lost both of those for just three runs. it's the first time india have won a test match in melbourne since 1981 and with one match of the series remaining, stand on the brink of an historic series win. that's all the sport for now. you can find more on all those stories on the bbc sport website. that's bbc.co.uk/sport.
tributes have been paid to the much—loved actress dame june whitfield, who's died at the age of 93. the actresses jennifer saunders and joanna lumley, who starred alongside damejune in the hit comedy drama absolutely fabulous, say she became a dear friend. here's our arts correspondent, david sillito. # wheels on fire # rolling down the road...# june whitfield had been part of british comedy for more than 40 years when she was cast in absolutely fabulous. inside of me, inside of me, there is a thin personjust screaming to get out. just the one, dear? laughter paying tribute, jennifer saunders said:
"it's so tremendously sad to lose june. "she became a dearfriend. "she lived and worked with an extraordinary grace." joanna lumley said she was heartbroken to lose such a friend. julia sawalha thanked herfor teaching her the craft of comedy. they were skills learned at rada and on the set of one of the biggest radio shows of the ‘50s, take it from here. 0oh, wrong! her life after that reads like a who's who of the greatest names of comedy. oh, i see you wish to become a blood donor. i certainly do. tony hancock. benny hill. frankie howerd. and a 20—year partnership with terry scott. i'm talking about food. what about eating out? what about the garage? 0h, i'd much prefer a restaurant. when she became damejune whitfield, it was in honour of more than 1,300 appearances on tv, radio and film.
as the writer denis norden once said, it was a mystery how anyone could do a comedy show without june whitfield. dame june whitfield, who has died at the age of 93. a man credited with saving the lives of more than 350 jewish children during the second world war has died, aged 108. george luan—jay would take the children to play football on a pitch near the border with neutral switzerland, where they'd then slip through an unguarded fence to safety. the resistance hero was later awarded the french military cross and the legion d'honneur. the holocaust memorial foundation described him as an "exceptional man". councils in england should be forced to consult local communities before cutting down trees — that's according to proposals
from the environment secretary, michael gove. it follows three years of protests in sheffield, where more than 5,000 trees were chopped down and replaced. mr gove says it's right that residents have a say. rail services on some of the country's busiest routes are likely to be disrupted by another strike on new year's eve in the long—running dispute over the role of guards on trains. members of the rail, maritime and transport union on south western railway, are due to walk out for 24 hours, meaning services will be reduced. many of us will be thinking of what new year's resolutions we'd like to stick to in 2019, with exercise being one of the most popular things people want to do more of. but there's not much more one 90—year—old can fit into his regime. meetjohn carter, the back—flipping daredevil who loves baseball, skiing, and even diving.
i just love his presence and positivity, how he's lived his life, so ijust wanted to share that story with you. two american college football fans were given a shock at a game in texas, when a bald eagle landed in the crowd. the bird, called clark, was apparently meant to fly around the stadium during the national anthem, but instead he decided to land on a fan's shoulder. another spectator was then more inviting, holding out his arm for him to perch on. 90,000 people were at the play—off semifinal between notre dame fighting irish and the clemson tigers. notre dame fans had hoped it was a good omen, but sadly for them, clemson still beat them 30 to three. now it's time for a look at the weather with sarah keith lucas good evening. as 2018 draws close to an end, the weather is looking pretty mild and settled, with a big area of high
pressure in charge. through the weekend, we've had quite a bit of cloud. this was the picture on sunday afternoon in norfolk. but we are also set to see some mist and fog patches developing, particularly across parts of southern wales, southern england as well. some clear spells lasting through the night in the east, but for the most part, a frost free, mild but fairly murky start to monday morning. monday, of course, new year's eve, the new year's eve weather shaping up to be mostly dry and settled. quite a lot of cloud but some sunshine breaking through. bit of rain to the north—west of scotland which could just creep a bit further south across scotland as we head on into the evening hours. most of us still in double figures on monday. if you have plans to see in the new year, apart from a bit of rain across parts of scotland, it's looking mostly dry with a fair amount of cloud in the skies. goodbye. hello, this is bbc news. the headlines: the government has defended its decision to award