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Bulgarian PM demands head of football quits over racial chants at England players

15 October

The head of Bulgarian football has been told to quit by the country's prime minister following the racist abuse aimed at England players last night.

Sports minister Krasen Kralev told reporters: "The government has done a lot for the development of Bulgarian football in the last four years.
"But after the recent events, having in mind the whole state of football and last night's incidents, the prime minister has ordered me from today to suspend any relations with the BFU, including financial ones, until the resignation of Borislav Mihaylov."
The game was played in a partially closed stadium as punishment for "racist behaviour" by fans during a previous home Euro 2020 qualifier against Kosovo in June.
Monday's game was temporarily halted twice after England players were subjected to monkey chants and Nazi salutes by home fans.
FA chairman Greg Clarke called it "one of the most appalling nights" he has ever seen in football, and called on UEFA to investigate the "abhorrent racist chanting" as a matter of urgency.
England manager Gareth Southgate called the situation "unacceptable" but said his players made a "major statement" on and off the pitch by refusing to let the racists win.
"Sadly, my players, because of their experiences in our own country, are hardened to racism," Southgate said.
"They also know they've made a statement and they want the focus to be on the football."
Following UEFA's anti-racism protocols, an announcement was made in the 28th minute warning fans that any further incidents could result in the match being abandoned, while another pause before half-time only added to the nasty spectacle.
Under the rules, a third incident could have seen officials abandon the game, but England decided at half-time to play on.
Speaking after the 6-0 victory, England captain Harry Kane said: "Whether the UEFA protocol is strong enough, I am not sure.
"It is unacceptable to be racist once so I feel there can be stronger punishments and protocols but from our point of view as a team, we stuck together, showed unity and did what we had to and that is the most important thing."
England star Raheem Sterling said he felt sorry for the Bulgarian players "to be represented by such idiots in their stadium".
Meanwhile, debutant Tyrone Mings revealed he heard racist abuse in the warm-up ahead of the game.
"I think everybody heard the chants, but we stood together and we made certain decisions," he said.
Bulgaria's captain Ivelin Popov was seen remonstrating with home supporters at half-time, prompting England's Marcus Rashford to praise him on Twitter
He wrote: "Also been told what the Bulgaria captain did at half-time. To stand alone and do the right thing takes courage and acts like that shouldn't go unnoticed. #NoTo Racism."
However Bulgaria head coach Krasimir Balakov claimed that conversation was more likely to be about his side's poor display and that he himself had not heard any racism during the match.
"I was concentrated on the game," Balakov said.
"I didn't actually hear anything but I just talked to the English press downstairs and I told them that if this is proven to be true, then we have to be ashamed and we have to apologise for it.
"But, once again, first it has to be proven to be true."

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Brexit deal 'still possible this week', says EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier

15 October

The EU's chief negotiator believes a Brexit deal is "still possible this week" as he returned to "intense" discussions with UK officials.

Speaking on his arrival at a gathering of EU ministers in Luxembourg this morning, where Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay is also present, EU negotiator Michel Barnier told reporters: "Our team are working hard."
"This work has been intense all over the weekend and yesterday.
"Because, even if an agreement will be difficult - more and more difficult, to be frank - it is still possible this week."
Mr Barnier added: "Reaching an agreement is still possible. Obviously any agreement must work for everyone - the whole of the UK and the whole of the EU.
"It is high time to turn good intentions into a legal text."
Mr Barnier's comments prompted the pound to climb by nearly a cent against the dollar to nearly $1.27, and also spike by almost a cent versus the euro to €1.15.
If a legal text on a Brexit deal is agreed by negotiators this week, it could be signed off by EU leaders at a Brussels summit on Thursday and Friday, with MPs possibly being given a vote on an agreement as early as Saturday.
At Tuesday's meeting, Mr Barnier was said to have told ministers from the remaining 27 EU member states that the latest UK proposals were not yet good enough.
He also said he needed a legal text by the end of the day in order to recommend EU leaders approve a deal at Thursday and Friday's summit.
Without a legal text by the end of today, Mr Barnier said he was likely to recommend more negotiations will be needed beyond this week's Brussels summit, Reuters reported.
As he arrived at Tuesday's meeting in Luxembourg himself, Mr Barclay said: "The talks are ongoing, we need to give them space to proceed but detailed conversations are under way and a deal is still very possible."
Mr Barnier's assessment of the state of Brexit talks contrasted with Finland prime minister Antti Rinne's view on Monday.
Mr Rinne, whose country currently holds the EU's rotating presidency, claimed "there is no time in a practical or legal way to find an agreement before the EU Council meeting," adding: "We need more time."
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Boris Johnson was told he will find it "very, very challenging" to get a Brexit deal through parliament before the current 31 October deadline.
Former foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt, the runner-up to Mr Johnson in this year's Conservative Party leadership contest, poured cold water on the prime minister's vow to "get Brexit done" by Halloween.
He also raised the possibility of Brexit being delayed by "a few extra days", as he had suggested in his leadership campaign, in order for the House of Commons to agree the terms of the UK's departure.
Asked if a Brexit deal could be passed by MPs by 31 October, Mr Hunt told Sky News' Kay Burley@Breakfast show: "It would be very, very challenging, I don't want to say it's going to be easy, but I think it's not impossible.
"If we get a deal, people will heave a sigh of relief.
"And, frankly, if we need a few extra days beyond 31 October, I don't think the 52% who voted Leave are going to mind provided we are properly on our way."
Reflecting on his defeated leadership campaign, Mr Hunt said: "Of course, in some ways, it's frustrating not to be close to the action now, but - I think like everyone - I'm really just hoping upon hope that Boris now succeeds.
"Everyone is just fed up with Brexit, they want it sorted."
He also described Mr Johnson's chief adviser, Dominic Cummings, as a "terrier" and someone who is "very, very determined to get the job done and has a particular set of qualities to bring, but is going to break a lot of china along the way".
"If, in the end, he succeeds in getting us out of the EU with a deal - and this is now looking more possible than anyone might have thought - if he succeeds then people will say it was a very inspired appointment," Mr Hunt added.
Ex-justice secretary David Gauke also raised an obstacle to Mr Johnson's hopes of delivering Brexit by 31 October, as he suggested he and other former Conservative MPs could support a delay to the UK's departure from the EU if necessary Brexit legislation looks unlikely to be passed by the end of the month.
Mr Gauke told Kay Burley@Breakfast: "If he [Mr Johnson the prime minister] has got a deal that he's brought back, I would be supportive of that.
"There is just one point I would want to make - I wouldn't want us to be in a position where we vote for a deal on Saturday and then something goes wrong in the next 12 days, and then we crash out without a deal on 31 October."
Downing Street revealed a cabinet meeting due to be held today has been moved to Wednesday in order to allow ministers to receive a more detailed update on Brexit negotiations.

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Jeffrey Epstein's inner circle Ghislaine Maxwell and Jean-Luc Brunel traced to Brazil

15 October

Jeffrey Epstein's death has not silenced his victims.

The prosecution of the disgraced billionaire might be over, but global investigations into his inner circle of alleged enablers are only just beginning.
Among the names most mentioned are Ghislaine Maxwell and Jean-Luc Brunel.
Ghislaine Maxwell's friendship with Epstein goes back years, she was reportedly his girlfriend at one point. It's also claimed she played a significant part in the recruitment of girls and young women.
Jean-Luc Brunel ran successful French model agencies with high profile names on his books. It's alleged he also procured women for Epstein.
The pair haven't been seen since Epstein killed himself on 10 August, while facing trial for sex trafficking.
They've gone to ground, but Sky News understands they've recently been in the Brazilian riviera.
Information gathered by a former US police officer, who was not paid or commissioned by Sky News, shows that Brunel's phone was traced to the Infinity Blue Resort and Spa in Santa Catarina. It is an upmarket holiday area popular with wealthy tourists.
At the same time, Ghislaine Maxwell's phone was also connected to a network in Santa Catarina state.
Sky News visited the hotel but by the time we arrived there was no sign of either Brunel or Maxwell.
Ghislaine Maxwell was last seen in Manchester-by-the-Sea, Massachusetts, in mid-August.
Brunel's lawyer denies he is on the run, insisting he is willing to cooperate with investigations.
Yet there has been no sign of him since 5 July when he was pictured partying at the exclusive members-only Paris Country Club. He was a guest at the club's Soiree Blanche where tables cost over £1000. This was his last public appearance.
Similarly, Ghislaine Maxwell hasn't been seen for weeks.
She shut down her ocean protection TerraMar Project in the US on 12 July, just six days after Epstein's arrest.
Sky News has learnt she has also formally started proceedings to shut the UK arm of the project too.
Companies House records show she signed off the closure on 13 August, three days after Epstein was found dead in his cell.
Maxwell and Brunel both enjoyed a lavish, luxury lifestyle, hanging out with huge names in politics, business and entertainment.
Since the death of Epstein questions have been asked about their role in his trafficking and abuse of young girls.
Ghislaine Maxwell, daughter of disgraced newspaper tycoon, Robert Maxwell, has been named in a number of papers filed in the US.
Among them a case brought by Virginia Roberts, now known as Virginia Roberts Giuffre.
She claimed Maxwell had recruited her as an underage teenager, to have sex with Jeffrey Epstein.
Her case also mentioned Prince Andrew. She says she had sex with him on three separate occasions when she was seventeen years old.
A now infamous photo of Prince Andrew with his arm around her waist, shows Ghislaine Maxwell also in the shot. The image reportedly taken at Maxwell's central London mews house.
A statement from Buckingham Palace strenuously denied "any form of sexual contact or relationship with Virginia Roberts".
There has been much scrutiny of the Duke of York's friendship with Jeffrey Epstein. Epstein and Maxwell were among the guests at a large royal birthday party at Windsor Castle. They were also invited to Sandringham, the Queen's country retreat.
The Prince and Epstein were photographed holidaying together in Thailand, on board a private yacht surrounded by young women.
Even after Epstein was convicted of procuring a minor for prostitution and put on the sex offenders register, Prince Andrew continued seeing him.
They were photographed in 2010 walking in New York's Central Park. And video recently emerged from the same time, of Prince Andrew looking out from the door of Epstein's Manhattan mansion.
In a statement Prince Andrew said: "I have said previously that it was a mistake and an error to see him after his release in 2010 and I can only reiterate my regret that I was mistaken to think that what I thought I knew of him was evidently not the real person, given what we now know.
"This is a difficult time for everyone involved and I am at a loss to be able to understand or explain Mr Epstein's lifestyle. I deplore the exploitation of any human being and would not condone, participate in, or encourage any such behaviour."
The FBI is investigating claims from Epstein's alleged victims, which might include his links to Prince Andrew.
There are private cases underway too. Ghislaine Maxwell is named in a well-documented case brought by Jennifer Araoz.
Ms Araoz claims Epstein frequently masturbated in front of her and raped her. She's suing Epstein's estate and others including Ghislaine Maxwell.
She claims Maxwell was complicit in Epstein's sex-trafficking. Lawyers acting for Ms Araoz say they've not yet been able to serve her with legal papers because they cannot find her.
They've hired private investigators to try to find her, but so far her location remains unknown.
Other women have made similar claims against Ghislaine Maxwell, alleging she recruited them and facilitated encounters with Epstein.
Meanwhile in Paris, preliminary investigations are also underway into Epstein and his associates, relating to the rape and sexual assault of women and girls aged under fifteen.
Prosecutors in France are trying to find out whether claims of sex-trafficking took place on French soil.
As part of the investigations, one of the model agencies which was founded by Jean-Luc Brunel was recently searched.
Virginia Roberts Giuffre claims Brunel offered girls modelling jobs in the US, but was actually recruiting them for Epstein.
Brunel, who has been accused of sexual assault in the past, has strongly denied any wrongdoing in his work as a model agent.
His lawyer says he would help any investigation but hasn't yet been contacted.
The search for Jean-Luc Brunel and Ghislaine Maxwell is far from over.

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Extinction Rebellion activists told to stop London protest or face arrest

15 October

Extinction Rebellion activists have been ordered to stop their protest in London immediately or face arrest, as police attempt to halt more than a week's disruption.

Activists have been told to leave Trafalgar Square, where many have congregated lawfully since Monday last week.
More than 1,400 people have been arrested during eight days of action, with police warning anyone who ignores the ban will be detained.
In a statement on Twitter, the London branch of Extinction Rebellion (XR) wrote: "Police are clearing peaceful protest in Trafalgar & Vauxhall. They are back-tracking on promises made &, MEPs say, in contravention of UK law, in the national square.
"This is an emergency, and an outrage. The police must respect the law. This is a democracy."
Scotland Yard said activists were told to cease their protests by 9pm on Monday or face arrest.
XR later said in a statement that it would "let the Trafalgar Square go tonight" but added that the "International Rebellion continues".
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Laurence Taylor said: "We have made significant progress in managing XR's activity at sites across central London over this past week.
"Today (Monday), protesters targeted areas in the City of London, causing further disruption to people and businesses in London's financial district. Police made more than 90 arrests.
"The policing operation continues, and we will continue to take action against anyone engaged in unlawful protests at locations targeted by Extinction Rebellion."
Ellie Chowns, a Green Party MEP, said she was arrested after "standing in solidarity" with protesters in Trafalgar Square.
She said: "We were given notice just a short time ago that this square is no longer allowable for peaceful democratic protest.
"The rules have been changed. No longer is any space in London allowable for peaceful democratic protest.
"There is no justification for this curtailment of the democratic right to protest for the future of our children."
At 11.30pm on Monday only around 50 protesters remained in Trafalgar Square and the majority of the activists' infrastructure had been removed.
XR said in a statement earlier the police action had given them a "moment to pause and remember why we are".
It added: "Climate and ecological emergency isn't going away and we remain resolute in facing it.
"We urge the government and the authorities to join us in doing the same. We cannot do it alone.
"This is bigger than all of us."
:: A New Climate is a series of special podcasts from the Sky News Daily. Listen on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Spreaker

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Thomas Cook boss tells MPs: I'm deeply sorry

15 October

Former Thomas Cook boss Peter Fankhauser has said he is "deeply sorry" for the collapse of the travel operator.

But he told MPs that he had worked "extremely hard" to try to save it and that there were "multiple parties" involved in unsuccessful attempts to prevent it from going under.
Mr Fankhauser said he was hamstrung by the company's debt pile as he tried to turn around the company's fortunes - and its prospects were then further damaged by the heatwave summer that dented bookings last year.
Former Thomas Cook employees, some of them wearing their old uniforms, sat behind Mr Fankhauser and other former senior management as they gave evidence to the Commons business select committee.
Pressed on the bonuses he received, he disclosed that he had received a £750,000 pay-out in 2017 - partly in shares that are now worthless - but none in 2018 and 2019, adding that he had "worked tirelessly" for the company.
Mr Fankhauser told MPs: "I really want to repeat how deeply sorry we are that we couldn't save this iconic British company.
"I am deeply sorry about this failure and I am deeply sorry at the distress caused to millions of customers who booked holidays with us."
Mr Fankhauser also apologised to suppliers and said he was "especially sorry to all my colleagues, who worked extremely hard".
He added: "I put massive, massive work into saving the company and I have to admit I failed."
Mr Fankhauser said that since taking over in 2014 he had been working on "transforming this business from an old-fashioned tour operator to a modern tour operator".
But he added: "The pace was not fast enough. It was constrained by this huge debt pile."
He said that since 2012, Thomas Cook had spent £1.2bn on interest and refinancing costs.
"Imagine if we could reinvest in the business only half of that, we could have been faster."
MPs rounded on those appearing before the committee, including former chairman Frank Meysman, over the millions that executives were paid in the run-up to Thomas Cook's collapse, describing the sums as "rewards for failure".
Mr Fankhauser said that of his £750,000 bonus in 2017, 30% was in shares, which are now worthless.
He told MPs: "I fully understand the sentiment in the public, I fully understand the sentiment of some of our colleagues.
"What I can say is I worked tirelessly for the success of this company."
Pressed on whether he should give up the bonus, he said there had been "multiple parties" involved in efforts to piece together a deal to try to save it "which then didn't succeed".
The collapse of the 178-year-old company last month put 9,000 UK jobs at risk.
It also triggered the largest-ever peacetime repatriation of British citizens, with more than 150,000 holidaymakers flown back to the UK during a two-week operation run by the Civil Aviation Authority.
Last week, family-owned Hays Travel bought Thomas Cook's network of UK retail stores for an undisclosed sum in a deal that could salvage as many as 2,500 jobs.
More follows...

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