hello and welcome to bbc news. prince andrew has told the bbc he categorically denies having sex with virginia roberts. she insists she was forced to have sex with him when she was 17 years old. in an interview with bbc‘s newsnight, the prince answered questions for the first time about his links with the convicted sex offenderjeffrey epstein. our royal correspondent nicholas witchell reports. in the state rooms at buckingham palace, a senior member of the british royalfamily, prince andrew, second son of the queen, is preparing to be interrogated
about allegations of sleazy behaviour and gross misjudgement. your royal highness, we've come to buckingham palace in highly unusual circumstances... at issue, which of these two people is telling the truth? andrew or virginia roberts, 17 years old when this photograph was taken? groomed, she says, to provide sexual favours to powerful men. even the photo is contentious. andrew says he has no memory of it. tramp, a nightclub in central london. virginia roberts says she was there with andrew one night in march 2001. she says they later had sex. andrew says he was with his family. and he told the bbc‘s emily maitlis, there's a medical reason why ms roberts‘s allegation cannot be true. she was very specific about that night. she described dancing with you... no. and you profusely sweating, and that she went on to have... there's a slight problem
with the sweating, because i... i have a peculiar medical condition which is that i don't sweat or that i didn't sweat at the time. is it possible that you met virginia roberts, dined with her, danced with her in tramp, had sex with her, on another date? no. do you remember meeting her at all? no. you can say categorically that you don't recall meeting virginia roberts, dining with her, dancing with her at tramp or going on to have sex with her in a bedroom in a house in belgravia? i can absolutely categorically tell you it never happened. do you recall any kind of sexual contact with virginia roberts, then or at any other time? none whatsoever. the other key figure in all of this isjeffrey epstein,
the new york financier who befriended andrew. epstein employed virginia roberts and many other young girls. in 2008, he was convicted of a child sex offence and sent to prison. so... do you regret the whole friendship with epstein? now, still not, the reason being that the people that i met and the opportunities that i was given to learn, either by him or because of him, were actually very useful. in 2010, andrew visited epstein after his release from prison and stayed for several nights at his home in new york. a wrong judgement, andrew now says, "i let the side down." 0verall, did he think his behaviour had damaged the royal family? i don't believe it's been damaging to the queen at all. it has to me.
i wonder what effect all this has had on your close family? you've got daughters of your own. it has been what i would describe as a constant sore in the family. finally, as he looks back... i wonder if you have any sense now of guilt, regret or shame about any of your behaviour and your friendship with epstein? as far as mr epstein is concerned, it was the wrong decision to go and see him in 2010. do i regret the fact that he has quite obviously conducted himself in a manner unbecoming? yes. "unbecoming"? he was a sex offender. yeah. i'm sorry, i'm being polite. andrew will be hoping that his answers will allow him to move on. that remains to be seen. nicholas witchell, bbc news. as protests widen across iran overfuel price rises and rationing, iran's interior minister has issued a warning to those demonstrating. he says that security forces
will act to restore calm if protesters damage public properties. the demonstrations have been going on right across the country, including in the capital, tehran. two people have been killed in clashes with police in other cities. chinese communist party documents leaked to the new york times have revealed new details about the mass detention of uighur muslims in xinjiang. china officially describes detention facilities where uighurs are being held asjob training centres. but the internal documents illustrate the calculated and coercive nature of the ongoing campaign targeting muslims in western china. more on all our stories on our website. please just log on to bbc.com/news. an investigation is under way into the cause of a fire at a block of student flats in bolton. witnesses say the blaze spread quickly to the upper floors, prompting concerns about the cladding on the block. two people were injured. from bolton,
0livia richwald reports. these videos posted on social media show an intense fire which spread rapidly, sending chunks of burning cladding and sparks to the ground. at first, some of the students ignored the alarms. there was this girl who came running and she banged on the doors of the people on my floor, and she just started screaming, saying that "there's a fire, get out of here right now." when we were running down the stairs, it was getting higher and higher and catching really quickly. the cladding on this building is not the same as that which has been blamed for exacerbating the fire at grenfell tower in 2017, which killed 72 people, and the students living here in the cube have been reassured it was safe. but the videos posted on social media have raised alarm bells. this isn't a grenfell cladding scenario.
this is a different type of material, but, essentially, it's a compressed wood or paper pulp, which is still combustible and, as we see from the footage, once it takes hold with a fire, it has potential to impinge on the evacuation or the safety of the occupants. this afternoon, prime minister borisjohnson visited a shelter to meet affected students, and then to the scene where he met firefighters. the university of bolton says it's finding new accommodation for its students and offering them support. all my belongings, it's all gone. i don't know what to say. how are you feeling about it all? traumatised. tonight, there's a warning from the fire brigades‘ union who describe the videos as alarming and say urgent action is needed. 0livia richwald, bbc news, bolton. after six hours of talks, senior labour party figures have reached an agreement on the party's manifesto for next month's general election. jeremy corbyn has hailed the set of policies as "transformative".
it will be a once—in—a—generation opportunity to vote for a more egalitarian society that cares for all, and i am very, very proud of the contents of it and i can't wait to take those contents and its promise of a better britain to everyone all around this country during our election campaign. 0ur political correspondent iain watson has more details on labour's manifesto. taken together, labour's policies would certainly signal a much stronger role for the state, the next government programmes of nationalisation, they were rubber stamped today, but today's meeting was about trying to sort out disagreements behind closed doors. so, for example, the party's grassroots of the conference wanted to see a policy not just of maintaining the free movement of workers, but extending it. now, some unions were worried that might put off voters who were worried about immigration, so i am told today there will be no explicit commitment to extend free movement in the manifesto
and there will be new policies to regulate the employment market so that people don't feel they're going to be undercut by migrant labour. another was over a commitment to deliver net zero carbon emissions by 2030. that date will be on the manifesto but more as a target, rather than a firm deadline. also, help for women who have been adversely affected by an increase in the state's retirement age, and drilling down further, there is going to be a commitment to free dental checks in england. elsewhere, the conservatives and the liberal democrats are both promising to plant millions of trees to tackle climate change if they win the election. liberal democrat leaderjo swinson says the party would plant 60 million trees every year across the uk by 2025 while the tories are pledging to plant 30 million. the sinn fein leader, mary lou mcdonald, has told her party conference there should be a referendum on irish unity within the next five years.
she said she believed a united ireland would be achieved in the 2020s. earlier, sinn fein‘s leader at stormont, michelle 0'neill saw off a challenge to her position. more than 60 flood warnings are still in place across england and wales as water levels begin to subside. large parts of the country have been water—logged for days with south yorkshire among the hardest hit. hundreds of volunteers have begun a clean—up effort in doncaster a week on from the worst of the flooding. some people travelled miles to help out as tom airey reports. ruined down to the foundations. two weeks ago, glyn had decorators in his living room putting up new wallpaper. a week later, it's volunteers ripping up the floor after floodwater rose up through it. we had a few sandbags that i bought years ago and put them in front of the door, but a stupid person drove by when it were about two foot and knocked my wall down.
everything's gone, my blinds fell down, everything, but like i say, i couldn't do it without these people. glyn, like many others in bentley, has been uninsured after the cost of flood cover became unaffordable following major floods here 12 years ago. we came together to help him. what we can do for these people that aren't insured we'll do. we've taken all these floors up, the skirting boards, and then all this rubbish from underneath here, as we need to dry it out and then what we will do when we've got all these floors up, we'll deodorise it all, sanitise it and put dehumidifiers in. today's clear—up was organised by st peter's church with volunteers using a local window company as a hub to store donated supplies. we've had a massive response. i'm guessing over 100 people here already for 9:00. we have put them all in hi—vizers, give them a pair of gloves, wellies, wheelbarrows, shovels and away they've gone. we broke off into five teams with a team leader and you will see they are out on all the streets, helping everybody and trying to get this place tidy.
the doncaster suburb was submerged in knee—deep water last friday after the river don burst its banks. the high—volume pumps here are now being cleared away and it marks the end of the emergency phase. now, the volunteers here are rolling in to help with the recovery process and residents here say this process will take months to complete. the efforts are involving everyone — neighbours, local businesses and even those who have cross—county borders to lend a hand. just got together, come up today just to help clear out a lot of the ruined carpets, a lot of the ruined furniture, a lot of the fridges and washing machines that are ruined, so if we can get them out of the houses, it makes life easier. staff from a nearby supermarket added their support while residents filled bags with ruined clothes destined for the skip. and despite the rain falling once again, it didn't dampen efforts of the volunteers giving up their weekend to help others. turning to sri lanka now — the counting of votes is under way
there after people cast their ballots in a presidential election with a high turnout of around 80%. the main contest is between the former defence secretary, gotabhaya rajapa ksa, and the housing minister, sajith premadasa. the election comes just seven months after a terrorist attack killed more than 250 people. the bbc‘s yogita limaye reports from colombo. buses carrying muslim minority voters, attacked by unidentified gunmen in sri lanka's north—west. no—one was injured, but it meant the election started on a nervous note. as voting got under way, worries about continuing violence began to dissipate. people came out in large numbers in a country that saw fear and religious divides after deadly bombings this year, it was a sign ofjust how much this election matters. we do not want the separation.
muslims, burghers, singhalese, tamils, all must be together. there's a bomb that went off quite close to my house. it made me think, "that is my family, we might be gone," we never know what might happen, right. so i want my country to be stabilised again. the attacks that took place inside this church and at several other locations in sri lanka carried out by islamist extremists were the worst instances of violence this country has seen since its civil war ended ten years ago. they brought the issue of national security back into the spotlight. he's been pitching himself as the man who can keep the country safe/ gotabhaya rajapa ksa, a controversial former defence chief, credited with ending the civil war, but accused of human rights abuses by minority groups. the other big contender is this man, sajith premadasa,
sri lanka's housing minister. he's projecting himself as the more democratic leader, but many believe the government he's a part of failed to prevent the easter attacks. sri lanka's future is on the cusp of two divergent paths. in these boxes, the people's choice. yogita limaye, bbc news, colombo. it's 2:15, this is bbc news. the main story this hour: in an exclusive bbc interview, prince andrew has categorically denied ever having sex with the american virginia roberts, and said some of her story is false. well let's stay with that story now. 0ur royal correspondent nicholas witchell has more on where that interview leaves the prince now. well, the jury is well and truly out, i would say. it is a big gamble for him. i think he very much wanted to do this interview, supported by his closest officials.
i don't think the mainstream, the queen's officials at buckingham palace have had very much to do with this. he will certainly hope to gain credit for having answered all the questions put to him, nothing was off—limits, fairly relentless 45 minutes of interrogation. he will hope to be believed in his denials, given the impression that he is a man with nothing to hide and certainly he seemed quite open and quite relaxed during the interview. where i think he will struggle more is his refusal to regret the friendship with jeffrey epstein. his statement earlier that he was somehow too honourable to have broken off that friendship, he now accepts that was a wrong judgement, and apart from the credibility, i think it's the underlying sense of an element of arrogance, of naivety, of a lack of self—awareness that perhaps people will find rather surprising. one other thing he left open, the option of a sworn deposition which of course is what the american authorities are hoping that he will now agree to.
more than 100 people have been arrested in paris one year on since the start of the so—called ‘gilets jaunes‘ or yellow vest movement. the first major demonstration a year ago demanded an end to a rise in fuel tax, but the movement has widened since then. from paris, lucy williamson reports. in paris today, a reminder that the anger that sparked this movement a year ago hasn't gone away. the number of protesters much smaller now, but for the rioters and police, the tactics remain the same. translation: today is one year since the gilets jaunes took to the streets, to demand social, tax and economicjustice. one year later nothing has changed. we are still angry and still here, and still they gas us and they beat us. it was enough for police to ban the main protest at place d'italie. tear gas and water cannon clearing
the square within hours. tonight across the city, small pockets of demonstrators are still battling with the police. the worry for the government is that this will notjust be a one—day protest but a whole new wave of opposition. president macron is facing a string of different protests over the next few weeks, from unions, students and public sector workers. isolated fires are one thing... the danger is they will unite to become an inferno. police in the czech capital prague say at least 200,000 people have attended a demonstration against the prime minister, andrej babis. prosecutors recently halted a criminal investigation into claims he defrauded the eu of subsidies. but organisers of saturday's protest, held on prague's letna park on the eve of the 30th anniversary of the fall of communism — are still calling for him to step down. rob cameron reports.
they gathered at a symbolic time, in a symbolic place, on the eve of the 30th anniversary of the velvet revolution, at the site of the largest demonstration of november 1989. but not against a totalitarian regime, but a democratically elected politician. andrej babis dismisses the protests against him. what matters to him are the opinions of his voters. mr babis remains way ahead in the polls. translation: they are big numbers, but compared to the number of votes mr babis receives in the elections, they are almost insignificant. but for the students of 1989, democracy is about more than just voting every four years. simon parnek was one of the main student leaders back then. amidst a wave of populism in central europe, he says he does not want his country to go the way of its neighbours.
i also fear that the recent government might have a tendency to cross some of the limits or frames of the constitutional democracy, which is not the case yet, but i think it is very important to show that the civil society citizens are here and are ready to fight for fully fledged functioning democracy. people are still streaming into this protest, long after it started. andrej babis says he doesn't understand the point of this demonstration, now that criminal charges against him have been dropped. but for the people arriving here at letna, the spirit of 1989 lives on. here in the uk, it's now less than a month until the general election, and politicians have been clocking up the miles trying to win over voters up and down the country. from pacts between the parties, to handshakes and heckles for party leaders. here's our roundup of the week's wobbles and winning moments on the campaign trail. have you ever used a mop before?
yes, i thought that was very unfair. you're just swishing around the water. we are going to stand pretty much everywhere, said nigel farage, last week. this week... the brexit party will not contest the 317 seats the conservatives won at the last election. he says though he is making a decision in the national interest not in his party's interest. we are a national, one nation party, we will be standing in all the seats. they got themselves in a bit of a pickle about this plan they have for a four—day week. it's not happening, there is not a four—day week coming in the nhs. that seemed clear enough, didn't it? but take a look atjohn ashwith‘s
facial expression. in that way, the nhs and others will be able to reduce their hours as well. both men agree it would happen alongside economic growth over ten years. the lib dems have not set out their health plans in detail yet, but they have said they will put a penny per pound on income tax to help fund it. it is clear at this election that people deserve a party and a government that will properly invest in the nhs. the conservative government's response has been woeful. this is clearly a national emergency. is there anything in particular you would like us to do? no thank you! a little bit too late there. replacing the chancellor of the exchequer with the carbon chancellor.
every sector of the economy needs to decarbonise. nicola sturgeon has been talking about her desire for another scottish independence referendum, afterjeremy corbyn, who has been in scotland, says he did not want one in the first five years of a labour government. then tweaked that to say he did not want one in the early years. what are you going to do about the will of the scottish people? corbyn is in a position of being able to form a government, and he needs the support of other parties. if he won't accept the right of the scottish people to choose their own future he won't get that support for the snp. should it go up? down? 0r stay the same? in an interview with the bbc jeremy corbyn wouldn't say. i think putting arbitrary figures on it, as successive governments have done, simply doesn't work. the tories said they would control immigration using a points —based system. i think we can have a fair policy where we can have people with the right skills that we need for our economy and our labour market.
broadband, free for everybody. instead of you forking out your monthly bill, we will tax the giant corporations fairly. a huge programme of investment in our roads, in telecoms, gigabit broadband, unlike the crazed communist scheme that was outlined earlier on. there are still a lot of questions to come over how labour plans to pay for some of its big pledges. he says this is affordable, and we will see details of exactly how labour plans to pay for it all when the manifesto is published. a nine—year—old boy from belgium is about to become the world's youngest ever university graduate. laurent simons, who is originally from 0stend, is studying for an electrical engineering degree in the netherlands. if all goes to plan, he'll graduate next month.
the bbc‘s tim allman has the story. laurent simons likes nothing better than a little soldering and tinkering with electronics. a young man with a photographic memory, and an iq of 145, he is living life at quite a speed. translation: i did the first year of my primary school and then it went faster and faster. i did the remaining five years in one year, i did my secondary school in 1.5 years and at university i do a course every week. laurent is studying at the eindhoven university of technology. and although he doesn't spend all that much time with his fellow students, his family believe he is in the right place. translation: i think he would have missed a lot of his youth if he was still in school. now it isjust like a playground here. so he can do whatever he wants.
like many boys of his age he likes robots, but we're not talking about toys. laurent is a lot more ambitious than that. translation: my goal is actually extending life, replacing part of human beings by technology. so for example artificial organs and robot arms, robot legs, things like that. next up he is aiming for a graduate degree. just imagine what he will do when he is ten. the weather now with chris fawkes. hello there. you might remember in the news last week venice was hit with severe flooding and we could see very similar conditions building up later on today. later on, around midday we will see the high water coming in around 1.6 metres above normal, that makes it one of the highest
of the last 90—odd years, perhaps not quite as high as it was on tuesday but it will still be widespread, big flooding the city. those flooding conditions are caused by an area of low pressure in the mediterranean, drawing up these strong winds, pushing a bullet of water from the adriatic, there will be some thunderstorms as well fairly widely in italy. that low pressure will get close to us as we will see injust a moment. for the time being over the next few hours, we have clear spells, we are seeing things turn pretty frosty, particularly in scotland, the odd patch across parts of southern england as well. so for some, a chilly start of the day on sunday. for others, a cloudy start, with fairly persistent but mainly light outbreaks of rain affecting north—east england, becoming quite patchy in nature as it works across northern england into the midlands and wales. probably no huge rainfall totals building up, just some dull and damp weather. brighter on the south, we should see some sunny weather moving into scotland and northern ireland during the day, where there will be some showers across northern scotland driven in by a north—west wind, it will feel quite chilly here.
through sunday night the skies will clear further across the northern half of the uk really, so as that happens we will see temperatures plummet, there will be a widespread frost, temperatures down to around “11 in edinburgh, colder in the countryside, some mist and fog patches to take us into monday. then that area of low pressure bringing flooding to venice later today, here is the low coming around europe and coming quite close to the uk on monday. this area of high pressure though, it looks like it will stop its progress, but it is something we are monitoring carefully given the saturated ground conditions and the flooding problems we have in places, any rain would not be helpful. at the moment it looks like it will be mostly kept at bay, so for monday it will be a cold start to the day, widespread frost and frost and mist and fog patches, a lot of dry weather with sunshine, highs of around three degrees in edinburgh, you could just about see some of that rain getting into parts of eastern england. after that as we get into tuesday and wednesday, low pressures from the atlantic are going to take over. as that happens the wind will back around more to a south—easterly
prince andrew has told the bbc he categorically denies having sexual relations with virginia roberts, the woman who says she was forced to have sex with him when she was 17 years old. he's spoken in detail for the first time about his links with the convicted sex offenderjeffrey epstein. an investigation is under way into the cause of a fire at a block of student flats in bolton. witnesses say the blaze spread quickly to the upper floors, prompting concerns about the cladding on the block. two people were injured. protests have erupted across iran after the government unexpectedly announced it was sharply increasing the price of petrol and rationing supplies. the country's interior minister says security forces will act to restore calm if protesters damage public property. now on bbc news, dateline london.