this is bbc news. the headlines. a shipping company awarded a multi—million pound contract to move goods if there's a no—deal brexit has no trading record and no significant assets. 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. a british couple, whose son was murdered by his chinese wife, have won custody of one of their grandchildren after a long legal battle. violence, and claims of vote rigging, as the polls close in bangladesh's general election. and ahead of the awards season, the film the favourite looks to be odds—on to pick up a number of prizes at this year's oscars. good evening.
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 ostend. 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 ease 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 company's total share capital was no more than £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 ostend even though there is, as yet, no such service in operation. one local councillor told me he believes seaborne is in no as a conservative i feel a shell company which is a company that
exists just on paper 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, £14 million. 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 of 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 taxpayer‘ s
money, another example, critics say, the failure to plan properly for a no—deal brexit. joe is in ramsgate now. what more do we know about how and why a company with no trading record was given a contract worth millions by the government. and joe miller also explained why seaborne have been given the contract by the government. we know that for some time the government 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 is 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 is also worth noting that if the government hadn't given
a contract to the 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. 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 has 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, iranians 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 is 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 almost easier to steal than a car. if you use a professional fishing vote the maritime authorities think it is a fishingman 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. alexandra mackenzie, bbc news, kingsdown. we can go now to kingsdown in kent, to speak to the mp for dover, charlie elphicke. good evening.. thanks forjoining us. good evening.. thanks forjoining us. what in your opinion is it going to ta ke us. what in your opinion is it going to take to stop more people following in the wake of those men? i welcome the fact that the home secretary is taking personal charge of the situation and had a positive
call with his french opposite number today. what we now need to see is a strengthening of our coastal patrols and that's why i think the border protection vessels cruising the mediterranean should be recalled to make sure we take back control of oui’ make sure we take back control of our border security. would that leave a gap in the mediterranean if they moved? there are many coastal protection vessels off italy, spain and greece, far more than we have and greece, far more than we have andi and greece, far more than we have and i think it is important that we have a patrol to make sure that outside is properly policed. we must see the development ofjoint operations with the french so that if there are incursions into our waters by migrants or traffickers we can help them back to france, to discourage more of these dangerous journeys from being made. you'd like to see people who are picked up being sent back to where they came from rather than arriving on english
shores, wouldn't you ? from rather than arriving on english shores, wouldn't you? of course the best deterrent for people making these journeys across the channel is that they don't get into britain and then quickly the news will filter through that it's not worthwhile doing and that. the calais —— that can stop the calais migrant is forming. that's whyjoint operations between the french and british authorities and a modern patrol can make that effective and happen. you obviously want more action from the french as well but do you think this will be something that suffers after brexit? i don't think it's anything to do with brexit. we have bilateral treaties with the french, a strong history of working positively with the french on border security. as we saw with the dismantling of the calaisjungle, saw with the dismantling of the calais jungle, putting pressure saw with the dismantling of the calaisjungle, putting pressure on the french authorities to step up to the french authorities to step up to the plate brings results. that's why i think we should have an english
channel maritime safety zone where the british and french work together to discourage people from making these perilous journeys which, to discourage people from making these perilousjourneys which, if they don't stop soon, i'm worried will result in a tragedy in the middle of the channel. the sort of investment you say is needed to tackle this, in an article, you say it cannot be done on the cheap with a half—hearted dad's army set up as suggested by the home office in the past. where do you think the home office is on this in terms of the investment you believe is needed?” think we need a tangible and visible sign of action rather than words, to recall the cutters that are cruising the mediterranean, to have the dover patrol, to have joint the mediterranean, to have the dover patrol, to havejoint operations with the french authorities, to take people and traffickers back to the coast of france, which would send a message there is no point in trying to break into britain and we will have strong border security. history
teaches us that is the best way to stop the trafficking problem. should sajid javid have done this sooner, should he have taken action sooner? i'm pleased he has taken action. over the last couple of months we've had a rising problem. now about 200 people have successfully entered our country. that's why we need to have this close cooperation, close patrols with the french to bring an end to this crisis. so a timely step by sajid javid, or should he have done something sooner, given that the six men who arrived today, and there were 200 before them in the last couple of months?” there were 200 before them in the last couple of months? i think it's important that he's declared this a serious incident, appointing a commander. he is working positively with the french. now we need to see results and that's why i think we should have a modern dover patrol to ta ke should have a modern dover patrol to take back control of our borders, working positively with the french
injoint operations to working positively with the french in joint operations to make sure any migrants and traffickers are apprehended and helped back to the french coast to discourage anyone else from doing it. to my mind that is the humanitarian and compassionate thing to do. . thanks for joining compassionate thing to do. . thanks forjoining us. 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. robin brant in shanghai has the latest on the family's struggle. they have been campaigning for almost two years now, since their son, michael, was murdered by weiwei fu, she was his wife at the time and the mother of the children. she stabbed him to death in an attack in an apartment here in shanghai. the simpsons have been trying to get custody of the grandchildren, they've been fighting a long legal battle, that has invovled mps,
that has invovled mps, the government here, lawyers and chinese officials, as well. that all came to a head about ten days ago, when a court hearing took place. they face the unimaginable decision of having to either take just one of the grandchildren, alice, which is what the chinese grandparents were offering, and the chinese courts supported that, or neither of them. they have struck a deal to take alice back to the uk with them but their grandson, jack, who is a little older, will stay here in china. they say their campaign goes on to have both children in the uk. for now, this is progress of sorts, for this family who have been through the awful trauma of first, losing their son, who was murdered, and then fighting for custody of their grandchildren. they have alice and they're waiting for some paperwork here in shanghai. you can only begin to imagine how dreadful that decision must have been, when it came to what was on the table. opposition parties in bangladesh say
they will 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. our correspondent yogita laymaye is in the capital, dhaka. her report does contain 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 people had cast their ballots, their fingers after people had cast their ballots, theirfingers were after people had cast their ballots, their fingers were marked with ink. bangladesh's prime minister sheikh hasina has been in powerfor ten years but she is confident she will be back. open quote i firmly believe we will win the election close quote, 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. on 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 the political posters you can see are also from the same party. in contrast to the presence of the opposition on the streets is really hard to find. that left people split on whether they wanted to participate. 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‘s thought 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 sheikh hasina will win but it will be a controversial victory.
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. 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. a british couple, whose son was murdered by his chinese wife, have won custody of one of their grandchildren after a long legal battle. 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 dearfriend'. 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 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, joanna lumley said. 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. ooh, ron! 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? oh, 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 withoutjune whitfield. the health secretary, matt hancock, has set out plans to provide better support for mothers and babies in england — to try to halve the number of stillbirths, and maternal and infant deaths by 2025. he said the measures would make the nhs the best place in the world to give birth.
our health correspondent smitha mundasad reports. more than 646,000 babies were born in england, last year. and the vast majority of new arrivals were delivered safe and well. but, tragically, this is not always the case. in 2017, there were 2,679 stillbirths. and last year, 1,857 babies died in their first month of life. there have been steady improvements in the last few years. but there are concerns that england's maternity services lag behind some other european countries. the health secretary's ambition is to make england the best place to give birth in the world. there's a whole package of safety measures around maternity care to make sure that we have the right number of midwives. we will have 3,000 more midwives. we've got record midwives in training at the moment. and we want to make sure
that the very best care that we see in the best hospitals is replicated right across the country. the new measures include more specialist neonatal staff to care for newborns. and more cots in intensive care. more mothers will get physiotherapy after childbirth. and child health records, known by many as the red book, will soon be available on smartphones, making it easier to share information between parents, carers and the nhs. the hope is these measures will go some way to helping the nhs save an additional 4,000 lives by 2025. but some will argue that much more needs to be done to keep both mothers and babies safe. smitha mundasad, bbc news. the labour mp lucy powell has accused private schools of cheating the exam system, to improve their results,
by entering pupils for international gcses. the exams have been criticised as less rigorous than the standard tests taken by most state school pupils. in a statement, the department for education said "the international gcses had not been through the same approval and quality control process as the new gold standard gcses, which is why they are no longer recognised in school performance tables. " 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. a man credited with saving the lives of about 350 jewish children during the second world war has died, aged 108. george loinger would take the children to play football on a pitch near the border with neutral switzerland — where they'd slip through an unguarded fence to safety. the resistance hero was later awarded the french military cross, and the holocaust memorial foundation described him
as an "exceptional man". the favourite is one of the leading contenders at the forthcoming awards season. the film is set in the early 18th century, when a frail queen anne, played by olivia colman, occupies the throne. here's our entertainment correspondent lizo mzimba. dearest queen, how goes the kingdom? this oscar—tipped comedy—drama follows the behind—the—scenes manoeuvring as everyone tries to win favour with an eccentric queen. look at me! how dare you?! close your eyes! playing two of the scheming characters, a pair of britain's brightest young stars — joe alwyn and nicholas hoult. harley's a politician who's playing the chess game of the court, essentially, and trying to get to the queen's ear, because then he knows he can gain what he wants in that world. so, yeah, he's very manipulative. i'm not the brightest character.
i think i'm a bit of an airhead, and i run around lustfully after abigail, who emma plays. there's this kind of cat—and—mouse power play between the two of them in the scenes that they're together, and she uses him. he has some status, and she uses him for that. although set in the 18th century, the story explores power and relationships in a way that still has a relevance today. go back to your rooms. thank you. making these things isn't — when you're kind of inside the bubble of it, it isn't something you're necessarily aware of. but when it comes out, especially in the current climate, there are comparisons — both in terms of politics, or even gender politics. he's referring to the fact that, unusually for hollywood, the three most powerful characters are all women — a refreshing and significant change to the kind of films the cast are used to being offered. sometimes, you read scripts, and i've noticed it before, where you read it and you go,
that's not a well—developed female character, or it's trying to be put into an archetype that doesn't exist. so, yes, it's important for it to reflect what's happening in society, definitely. may i exhort the chamber to roar a mighty hurrah for her majesty in her brilliant decision not to raise the land tax? hurrah! the film is overflowing with british talent, something often seen as a quality mark to us audiences. it's the accent! he laughs. i think we're hard—working, i think that's something about it, and also, we love what we do. i think sometimes — nearly all the brits that i know are in it for the right reasons. you know, so that's a big thing for it. but, yeah, also the accent. it has already been recognised at award ceremonies here and in the us, and if the favourite ends up living up to its name at next year's academy awards, few will be surprised. lizo mzimba, bbc news. 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 semi—final between notre dame fighting irish and the clemson tigers. now it's time for a look at the weather with mel coles. as 2018 draws to an end, the weather is looking mild and settled, with high pressure in charge. over the weekend we've had quite a lot of cloud. this was sunday afternoon in norfolk. clear spells this evening and tonight, so temperatures dipping but we are due to see some mist and fog patches, especially over
southern wales, southern england as well. some clear spells overnight in the east but mostly a frost free, mild but fairly murky start on monday. monday is new year's eve. the weather is shaping up to be mostly dry and settled. quite a lot of cloud but some sunshine. some rain in the north—west of scotland which may move further south this evening. most of us in double figures on monday. if you have plans to see in the new year, apart from rain over parts of scotland it's looking mostly dry with a fair amount of cloud in the skies. bye, bye. hello this is bbc news with me. the headlines. the government has defended its decision to award a fourteen million pound contract to a shipping company, with no trading record as part of its preparations for a possible no—deal brexit. another group of migrants cross the channel and arrive in kent, as the uk and france agree to step up action to deal with the problem. a british couple, whose son was murdered
by his chinese wife, have won custody of one of their grandchildren after a long legal battle. votes are being counted in the general election in bangladesh, which has been marred by violence and allegations of ballot—rigging. now on bbc news it's time for sportsday. hello and welcome to sportsday. i'mjohn watson. manchester city stop the slide on the south coast a player reborn — pogba scores twice as united beat bournemouth and bath finish the year on a high to beat old rivals leicester with liverpool movbing 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. as andy swiss reports. after three defeats in the four matches, the furtive brownell said it all. he knew his manchester city side could hardly afford another slip—up, not that one seemed likely when debit silver probably put them away ahead. recently, their lead proved precarious, a spot of