good afternoon. company bosses could face stricter sentences of up to seven years in prison if they mismanage employee pension schemes. that's today's warning from the work and pensions secretary, amber rudd. plans outlined last year for a maximum sentence of two years in prison have been toughened up after public consultation. our business correspondent rob young reports. when the unprofitable construction giant karelian collapsed a year ago, its pension pot at a black hole of hundreds of millions of pounds, as did the bhs pension fund when the high street retailer went into administration in 2016. bankrupt kodak's uk scheme at an even bigger deficit when photographers switched to smartphones. there are many reasons pension schemes end up in the trouble and now the government is proposing a new law to try and make sure that poor behaviour by bosses isn't one of them. amber rudd
says she will make wilful or reckless behaviour relating to a pension scheme a criminal offence, with jail terms of up to seven years and unlimited fines, but some experts are not convinced the proposed law will be effective. proving a business person sat down, put some money into investment or dividends instead of the pension fund and that was reckless or wilful is tough to prove, and to make it a criminal offence, the standard of proof is even higher, so there is a danger that nobody ever gets convicted of the offence. plans for this offence to carry a maximum two—year prison term were outlined last year and politicians have since examined the issue. after public consultation, the sentence has been beefed up. there is already a pensions regulator. the problems being addressed our more about the mismanagement of the companies rather than the pension schemes themselves, and we have got a system
for addressing these problems in place. it is estimated more than 40 million people are members of occupational pensions. most sailors needn't worry and the regulator says the majority of companies and pension trustees do the right thing by their members. theresa may will ask mps to give her more time to secure changes to the most controversial part of her brexit deal, the northern irish backstop. the prime minister is due to report back to mps this week after trying to persuade the eu to make last—minute changes. the bbc understands she will promise parliament another vote on other brexit options if a deal is still not ready by the end of february. the scientist who discovered the link between eating too much processed meat and bowel cancer has accused the government of not doing enough to get people to cut their consumption. the department of health says it's committed to ensuring that all food products are as safe as possible. leigh milnerjoins me now. what actually is a "safe" amount of processed meat and what are the dangers
of eating such foods? so, first of all, when we're talking about processed meats, we're talking about sausages, ham, corned beef and my favourite, bacon. the nhs guidance is to eat no more than 70 grams a day — that's the equivalent of about two sausages or three thin slices of ham. the danger is down to something called nitrites — chemicals that are used to preserve the meat, which can be responsible for causing bowel cancer. but these nitrites aren't all bad. they protect us against things like bacteria which can cause nasty food poisoning. the food standards agency says it tries to get the balance right between putting enough in to be effective and not too much to cause undue risk. there are, of course, other factors that can cause cancer, like smoking. but next time you're packing your child's lunchbox you're being asked just to think twice about how much processed meat you're giving them. firefighters in new zealand are continuing to battle wildfires that have been burning
for almost a week. 3,000 people have been evacuted from their homes on the south island as strong winds push the fires closer to the town of wakefield. a state of emergency has been declared. it's thought the blaze is the worst forest fire in the country since 1955. england are set to take on france in today's six nations rugby action. 0ur sports correspondent joe wilson is at twickenham for us this lunchtime. we are getting some lunchtime son in south—west london after a grave and drizzly start to the day, but you can imagine the confidence pumping through the veins of the england players when they think back to the tries they scored last weekend in dublin their weekend victory. beating ireland in ireland is considered about the hardest thing to do in world rugby union these
days, and today are at home. eddie jones has tinkered with the team a bit, bringing in chris ashton on the wing. he never liked his players to feel complacent about their selection, but i think you'll have noticed a growing sense of camaraderie among the england team. when france think back to last weekend, they can remember being 16-0 weekend, they can remember being 16—0 up at half—time against wales and still losing. there was a time when at twickenham wheat half expect france to produce a performance of verve, passion and skill, but it's so long since it happened i wonder if the french team themselves even expect to produce that kind of by. expect to produce that kind of rugby. we will be under way in sunshine or showers at 3pm. thank you, joe. the most successful female skier of all time — lindsey vonn — has competed in her last race before retiring from competitive skiing. the us star won bronze in the world downhill championships in sweden. over a glittering career, lindsey vonn has won three 0lympic medals, a record 20 world cup titles and 82 victories on the circuit.
the 34—year—old announced her retirement last week after several years spent battling a succession of injuries. i mean, i honestly didn't expect to announce it. itjust kind of came out. people said, how long are you going to keep going, and i said, i'm actually not. so it wasn't a strategy? not a strategy, no. my team was like, whoa, thanks for telling us. no, itjust kind of felt like the right time. the baftas take place at the royal albert hall tonight. the favourite, starring 0livia colman as queen anne, has 12 nominations. here's our entertainment correspondent, lizo mzimba. as has become traditional, the duke and duchess of cambridge will be the guests of honour at this year's ceremony, and it's a royal drama, the favourite, which many expect to live up to its title and win the prestigious best film award, while its star, 0livia colman, who plays queen anne,
is the favourite for best actress. look at me! how dare you close your eyes! she has tough competition from the wife star glenn close, after she won at the screen actors guild for her betrayal of the wife of an award—winning author. you were seducing the luscious linnea 7 nothing happened. don't you dare insult my intelligence! four years out of the last five, best actor has been won by someone playing a real—life character. now the vice presidency is mostly a non—job. this year, christian bale, who plays former us vice president dick cheney in vice... # so you think you can stone me and spit in my eye... and rami malek, who plays freddie mercury in the queen biopic bohemian rhapsody look to be in a close race for that award. dear dolores... d—e—a—r — this is an animal. similarly, for best supporting
actor, mahershala ali, who plays a jazz musician touring america's deep south in green book... i'vejust come from having my teeth bleached. and richard e grant, who plays the best friend of a struggling author in can you ever forgive me are thought to be neck and neck. while best supporting actress looks to be the night's most open race, with emma stone and rachel weisz both in contention for the favourite alongside amy adams for vice, claire foy‘s portrayal of janet armstrong, the wife of astronaut neil armstrong, in first man, and margot robbie's queen elizabeth i in mary queen of scots. lizo mzimba, bbc news. and you can join us at the baftas starting with our live red carpet show from 5:15pm on the bbc news channel. we'll be looking at the films and fashion as well as talking to the stars as they arrive at the albert hall for britain's biggest night in film and television.
and before we go, visitors got more than they bargained for at belfast zoo earlier today. several chimpanzees made an improvised ladder from a large tree branch propped up against a wall to escape. the council, which runs the zoo, said the apes were now back in their enclosure. but this is the second escape attempt by animals at the zoo in as many months. injanuary, a red panda went missing overnight before being discovered in a nearby garden. you can see more on all of today's stories on the bbc news channel. the next news on bbc one is at 5:35pm. bye for now. hello, you're watching the bbc news channel with me, ben brown.
over brexit this week, by urging parliament to give her more time to achieve changes to the plan to avoid a hard irish border. she's expected to promise mps that they'll be given another vote on brexit, if she's unable to recommend a fresh deal by the end of the month. earlier, i spoke to our political correspondent tom barton, who talked me through the prime minister's options. theresa may's ministers heading off to europe, meeting eu officials, other european politicians as they try to find a solution to the difficulties within the brexit deal, and particularly her challenge of getting that through parliament. on thursday, parliament will have a say on what happens next, and we have had several
ministers saying that they are considering resigning in order to delay brexit and avoid a no—deal. well, today the government has essentially said to them, don't do anything yet, we'll give you another say at the end of this month. this is whatjames brokenshire said on the andrew marr show earlier. the government will commit that if the meaningful vote, in other words the deal coming back, has not happened by the 27th of february, we would allow a further motion to take place in parliament to give that sense of assurance as to the process moving forward. to be clear, there will be a meaningful vote this month or not? if the meaningful vote has not happened, so in other words, you know, things have not concluded, then parliament would have that further opportunity by no later than the 27th of february. an important point to note there, ben, is james brokenshire saying that if a meaningful vote has not
happened by the end of the month, in other words the government acknowledging that, four weeks out from brexit, they may yet not have reached a new deal, which is quite remarkable. there was also an admission today from james brokenshire, something which is likely to aggravate brexiteers within the conservative party, that it is likely that the backstop, these controversial insurance policy on the irish border, will remain within the withdrawal agreement. those of your colleagues who say bin the backstop, your answer is that is impossible. we need to see a free—flowing arrangement in relation to the island of ireland, knowing what that means for unionists and nationalists in terms of how people live their lives. i think you are saying the backstop stays, yes? there needs to be an insurance policy there. so that was james brokenshire for the government, what about labour?
in terms of the timetable, labour are saying that parliament should really hold the prime minister's feet to the fire on this promise around another vote at the end of the month, saying that if the government can't come back with a meaningful vote, come back with a deal at the end of february, then it should be down to mps to take more control over the brexit process. there are, of course, discussions going on between the labour party and the government at the moment over whether there could be a cross—party approach that could be taken on brexit. tom watson, the shadow labour leader, saying to andrew marr today that if that can't happen, another referendum should be on the cards. we have been pretty consistent on our red lines, we are duty bound to take the prime minister's offer of consensus talk seriously, and i hope that the letter represents that, and i am pleased
that a number of her colleagues in the conservative party recognise that, but if it fails, the final option, because it is the only way to deal with the impasse, is a public vote, and john mcdonnell has said it this week, keir starmer has said it, and i am saying it. so the labour party talking to the government, the conservative party talking to itself with these discussions around alternative arrangements, the so—called malthouse compromise, and of course we have still got the government talking to the european union, all sorts of talking. action? not much sign of that yet. the government is planning to create a new criminal offence to target company executives who "wilfully or recklessly" mismanage pension funds. the legislation could see offenders jailed for up to seven years and face an unlimited fine. the former lib dem pensions minister steve webb is now director of policy at royal london. he says the focus of policy should be to ensure pensions
are not underfunded before they run into trouble. it is worth saying that we have heard this before, it was announced in the run—up to the 2017 general election, nearly two years ago, it is a long way from being law and put into practice, and the danger is that it is a great headline grabber, but in reality the criminal offence is very hard to prove, and the danger is they might get off scot free. so you think this is, what, a bit of a sledgehammer to crack a nut, is that what you are saying? proving after the event that they didn't put enough money in a pension is very difficult, and you need to get there years earlier. if you get to the point of someone being in court charged with not funding a pension, jobs have been lost, it is too late in the process. but some people would say there is no harm in having a big stick, a deterrent, to any company bosses who want to behave in a reckless way.
we do need deterrents, but they need to bite much sooner. all the attention needs to be focused on those times when companies are still in business and money is not going into the pension that could be. there is more that could be done to protect pensions, but a big headline grabbing announcements, which we hear almost every six months, isn't very convincing, i'm afraid. you think fines are enough in terms of a deterrent? fines are part of the mix, but you can act much sooner. in other words, if you get to the problem when you are fining or imprisoning people, that is at the end of the journey where things have gone wrong. proving that a business person sat down, put some money into investment or dividends instead of the pension fund and that was reckless and wilful, that is tough to prove, and to make it a criminal offence, the standard of proof is even higher, so there is a danger that it sounds great and we will feel we have done a good job, but nobody gets convicted of the offence. meanwhile, pensions are still not properly funded. the headlines on bbc news.
theresa may will ask mps for more time to rework her brexit plan, but labour accuses the prime minister of trying to run down the clock. work and pensions secretary amber rudd warns company bosses they could be jailed for up to seven years if they "wilfully or recklessly" mismanage their employees' pension scheme. kurdish—led forces — backed by the united states — have launched a final push to defeat the so—called islamic state group in syria. police investigating the disappearance of the missing hull university student libby squire have been given more time to question a man. 21—year—old libby hasn't been seen for over a week. the 24—year—old man, who was arrested on suspicion of abduction, will remain in custody until nine o'clock this evening. two people arrested in connection with a house fire in stafford which killed four children have been released on bail. the 24—year—old woman
and 28—year—old man were arrested on suspicion of manslaughter by gross negligence. the children, aged between three and eight, died in the fire on tuesday. five paintings said to be by adolf hilter have gone under the hammer in nuremberg but have failed to sell. 26 pieces of art were pulled from the sale because suspicions were raised they could be fakes. the auction sparked outrage with the city's mayor calling it "in bad taste". tim allman has more. five entirely unremarkable watercolours. that is until you take a look at the signature. these paintings are claimed to be the works of adolf hitler, aspiring artist and one of history's greatest villains. but the planned auction failed to find a single buyer. they were frightened away by the police, security forces, and because of all the news
that these watercolours and oil paintings would be fakes. this is not the first time doubts have been cast over art attributed to the former nazi dictator. last month, three other watercolours were seized by police before a planned auction in berlin. hitler was a prolific artist in his youth, and in his book mein kampf, he claimed to have produced as many as three paintings a day. most were destroyed — so how many fakes are we talking about? somewhere between 500 and couple of thousand, which is ridiculous, especially as you know after the second world war only 30 something survived. whether these were fake or not, the sale of hitler's paintings is hugely controversial. his shadow looms large when it comes to art. kurdish—led forces,
backed by the united states, have launched a final push to defeat the islamic state group in syria. more than 20,000 civilians have been evacuated from land still held by is near to the iraqi border. 0ur arab affairs editor, sebastian usher, reports. the us—backed sdf has played a key role in the war against is in syria. its biggest victory was to drive the jihadists out of their de—facto capital, raqqa. in the past few months, it's picked off one town, village or hamlet after another in the corner of north—eastern of syria to which is fighters have been driven. all that's left for the jihadists there are a few square miles next to the iraqi border — a far cry from the caliphate the group once declared across huge swathes of syria and iraq. the sdf delayed its final attack until thousands of civilians in the area had been able to get out. now they say a decisive battle is under way. the united states military,
our coalition partners, and the syrian democratic forces have liberated virtually all of the territory previously held by isis in syria and iraq. last week, president trump said the total defeat of is could be announced within days. that certainly suits his agenda of withdrawing all us troops from syria. but he's been criticised before for declaring final victory over is prematurely. caution is still needed. is holds another sliver of territory in syria further west, while its sleeper cells remain active, and it's the same story in iraq. the group's ability to continue a guerrilla insurgency persists. the fate of his hostages, such as the british journalist john cantlie, remains unclear, as does that of its leader, abu bakr al—baghdadi. its most effective foe, the sdf, faces an uncertain future,
if and when its us backers leave. sebastian usher, bbc news. with me now is fawaz gerges, who is a professor of international relations at the london school of economics and specialises in islamist movements and jihadist groups. always thanks for being with us, fawaz, is this the end of the road for islamic state? it is the end of the physical territorial caliphate that came into being injune 2014, so at one point, as you know, isis controlled the lives of 7 million people in iraq and syria. now it only controls a tiny sliver of territory west of eastern syria, in the syrian area, but the reality is you still have between 2000 and 15,000 active you still have between 2000 and 15, 000 active competence
you still have between 2000 and 15,000 active competence in both iraq and syria. isis has already shifted into the second phase, which is insurgency. you people realise that isis carries out frequent insurgent attacks in iraq and syria, so even though the physical state has been dismantled, the fight goes on from the point of view of isis. but their dream of that caliphate, as you are saying, a huge swathe of territory, millions of people under their control, that is over. how has it gone wrong for them, in the sense that territory has shrunk so dramatically? not only shrunk, dismantled. they control less than 196 dismantled. they control less than 1% of territories in syria, so their utopian dream of the so—called islamic state really has been basically destroyed, vanished. and this is a big thing, we should not really belittled the physical territorial dismantling of isis. but this is an ideology, notjust a piece of territory, and the ideology
has important areas of refuge in iraq and syria and yemen, the sanaa peninsula, egypt, west africa. it has really spread near and far, and i would argue that the military fight against isis is only one aspect of the larger struggle, the post—war reconstruction reconciling devastated societies, rebuilding, and this is the challenge facing middle eastern states and the international community as well. so islamic state is still a very dangerous entity. in a nutshell, for our viewers, isis is degraded, not defeated, and there is a big difference between degraded and defeated. al-qaeda in iraq was degraded in 2007 height night, and it mutated into isis in 2014, so what isis is doing is shifting into a new phase of fighting, guerrilla warfare, sleeper cells, insurgent attacks, and biding its time for the
next phase, because the war goes on in syria, and society in iraq and other countries are very much polarised, and that is why the post—war reconstruction, civilian, social, economic investment, giving people hope, basically, and reconciling communities, this is the challenge facing iraqi society, syrian society, libyan society, and sadly and tragically, i don't see the western states really concerned and interested and having the will to invest in the post—war reconstruction in these societies. and in the end, i suppose, isjust had so many enemies, including the united states. the reality is that isis has alienated the entire world, the entire world, and no wonder we are seeing the end of the physical caliphate. sadly, the ideology remains very potent, so even though the territorial state is no longer, the territorial state is no longer, the ideology is there. as long as there are conflict zones, isis and al-qaeda will continue to exist. we
have been talking about isis, right, you have not asked me about al-qaeda. the largest al-qaeda base in the world now is in syria, 20-30,000 in the world now is in syria, 20—30,000 active al-qaeda affiliates in syria itself. this tells you how complex and difficult the next stage of the struggle is in syria, iraq, and other places. complex and very dangerous, fawaz gerges, from the london school of economics, thank you very much for being with us, thank you. a woman who was injured in the car crash involving the duke of edinburgh has welcomed the news that he's giving up his driving licence. buckingham palace said prince philip, who's 97, made the decision voluntarily after the collision with a car carrying two women and a baby. the crown prosecution service will take his decision into account when considering whether to bring any charges against him. andy moore reports. it was an accident everyone was lucky to walk away from. the duke of edinburgh's land rover freelander was turned over by the force of the impact and landed on its side.
a baby was unhurt in the other car, a kia. two women were taken to hospital. one of them, emma fairweather, has told the sunday mirror that the duke was right to take the decision to surrender his licence but he could have done it sooner. she said... just days after the accident, the duke was seen driving on public roads near sandringham without a seat belt. norfolk police said they had spoken to him about that. he also sent a letter to mrs fairweather saying sorry for his part in the accident and said he had been dazzled by the low winter sun and was very contrite about the consequences. the police say they have now finished their investigation into the accident and the file has been passed to the crown prosecution service. the duke could be charged for driving without due care and attention. the cps said the file will be reviewed carefully before a decision was made.
but they also said the duke's decision to surrender his licence would be taken into account. andy moore, bbc news. all cub scouts promise to do their best, but one from lancashire has done better than most. ten—year—old matthew has just completed every challenge to earn every badge on offer. he s believed to be one of only who manage it every year. dave guest has been to meet him. this is matthew. he is much like any other schoolboy of ten. he's also a cub scout. but matthew's no run—of—the—mill cub scout. he's very confident child. he's very adventurous and very committed, and he did tell me that he wanted to try and get as many badges as he could. and he's done it, amassing over 60 badges, every single one that cub scouts can try for. at the adlington scout hut, they are swelling with pride at matthew's achievement. it is a massive achievement.
it takes a lot of commitment and a lot of time and a lot of hard work to get that many badges. there's been a few badges that we have had to sort of do a bit kicking and screaming, but most... which ones? go on, tell. reading, when he had to use an atlas and a dictionary and find lots of words, and that took a little bit of extra time and persuasion. but behind this avid badge collector is his nana, debbie. she deserves a needle and thread badge for sewing each and every one onto his overloaded jumper. so it must be a bit like painting the forth bridge, this, it's never—ending. it is, and i've other grandchildren as well, and adopted grandchildren, that i sew their badges on, too. one of the badges matthew did was his chef's badge, so now you're a better chef. what was your favourite badge to do? the sailor's badge. because when me and lynne, my cub leader, got on it, we nearly capsized. oh, dear. did you panic? no. did she? yes.
you wanted to go for every badge? were you determined? did you think you'd do it? no. but you have. yes. and what you think about that? it's amazing. and you now know how to cook as well, don't you? in fact, you're making the tea, aren't you? we'd better hurry up, because tea—time is looming, and the family is starving. matthew will be going up to the scouts soon, and has his eye set on trying to do every scout badge, too. dave guest, bbc news, adlington. time for a look at the weather.