Tuesday, 29 November 2011


Wales football manager Gary Speed was found hanged at his home by his wife, an inquest was told today. The 42-year-old father-of-two was found dead at his Cheshire home on Sunday morning. Detective Inspector Peter Lawless, of Cheshire Police, told Cheshire coroner Nicholas Rheinberg that Speed's body was found by his wife Louise just before 7am. He said there appeared to be no suspicious circumstances and a post mortem examination found Speed's death was caused by hanging. Mr Rheinberg said: "I adjourn this inquest until January 30, 2012. The inquest will be heard in Warrington and will commence at 2pm." There was a huge media presence at the inquest in Warrington but members of Speed's family did not attend. The coroner asked the media to "respect the privacy" of Speed's family. Earlier today Welsh Assembly Members observed a minute's silence in the Senedd, Cardiff Bay, while flags continue to fly at half mast outside the Welsh Assembly buildings Ty Hywel and the Senedd. Speaking on behalf of the footballer's widow, Louise, and the family, Speed's agent and best man at his wedding Hayden Evans said last night they had been "overwhelmed" with messages of support and condolence. Tributes to the former Leeds United, Everton and Newcastle United midfielder, also poured in from a host of public and sporting figures, led by Prime Minister David Cameron. Mr Cameron said: "I know he meant an enormous amount to people and people feel very, very sad on his behalf and on his family's behalf." The Football Association of Wales chief executive Jonathan Ford said the organisation had received messages from UEFA and FIFA, with the Welsh flag at FIFA House in Zurich flying at half-mast. Mr Ford said: "He was such a great person and he is such a loss." Tottenham winger Gareth Bale, one of the brightest talents in Speed's Wales side, said it was a "massive shock". "It is a tragedy, everyone still can't get their head around it and all our condolences go out to his family and his kids. It is a hard time," Bale told tottenhamhotspur.com. Supporters have left scarves, football shirts and flowers across several football stadiums - including Everton's Goodison Park, Leeds United's Elland Road, Newcastle United's St James' Park and The Millennium Stadium and Cardiff City Stadium, where Wales played their home games. The FAW has opened a book of condolences at its offices in Cardiff allowing fans to express their feelings about Speed's death.

Saturday, 26 November 2011


Kyle Thain, 24, and James Harris, 29, have been released on bail from Font Calent jail in Alicante.

This has left family members and friends overwhelmed – and they haven’t given up hope of getting them back to Britain for Christmas.

Kyle’s brother Jay, 29, said: “This is the best I have felt in a long while. It’'s amazing news.”

Sharon Harris, 56, Kyle’s mother, and husband Dave, 58, sold their Southend home to help fund the legal fight.

Yesterday, £8,000 was transferred to Spain for each of the lads’ bail.

Kyle of Sandringham Road, Southend, and James, of Pelham Road, Southend, have been held without charge since July 8. They are accused of attempted murder after two men were stabbed during a bar brawl near Alicante, close to where they were staying on a lads’ weekend away. They were arrested as they went to board the flight home.

The two pals have always maintained their innocence and insist they did not even set foot in the bar where the violence took place. Their families are convinced there has been a terrible case of mistaken identity.

Kyle and James are now due to leave prison today once funds have cleared. Jay and Sharon will fly out tomorrow where they will be reunited with Kyle and James who will stay with James’s mother Kate Burgess who has been in Spain since their arrest.

The decision on bail was finally made after a judge was presented with evidence that has been available all along.

Jay said a previous solicitor had told a judge that Kyle and James had pictures of them at their apartment around the time of the bar fight.

The new solicitor apparently put the time and date stamped pictures in front of the judge and said they convinced him it was sufficient evidence to at least release Kyle and James from jail.

A previous bail application in September was denied earlier this month and Kyle’s mum Sharon said she was beginning to prepare for Christmas being a “non-event”.

But now the two families are looking forward to trying to clear the names of Kyle and James once and for all.

Jay, also of Sandringham Road, added: “This is a really positive step in the right direction.

“The aim is to try and get them bail to the UK and to continue fighting for the case to be dropped completely.”

Since Kyle and James were arrested family and friends in south Essex have rallied in support with fundraising events netting thousands of pounds for the legal fight.


Spanish savings bank has fired two directors and is investigating two former executives for allegedly syphoning off €20 million ($26.5 million) into secret pension funds, the bank said Saturday. The board of directors of Caixa Penedes bank had "required the departure" of its president, Ricard Pages, and director general Manuel Troyano. It said both men had agreed to leave, the bank said in a statement. The decision comes after state prosecutor for the northeastern region of Catalonia, Teresa Compte, said her office was investigating all four on suspicion of involvement in illegal activity. Regional newspaper La Vanguardia said the case was the first time prosecutors had investigated senior executives for "criminal responsibility" in their handling of a savings bank. The prosecutor named the other two former executives as Joan Caellas and Jaume Jorba. Caixa Penedes along with partners Cajamurcia, CajaGRANADA and SA NOSTRA owns Banco Mare Nostrum, S.A. (BMN). The group received €916 million ($1.21 billion) in restructuring aid from the Bank of Spain's Fund for Orderly Bank Restructuring (FROB). The fund was set up to aid institutions meet higher reserve requirements and is aimed at strengthening their finances and quelling fears that Spain might be Europe's next country to need a bailout. Caixa Penedes said its board "disapproved of the content, method, lack of transparency, unusual nature and disproportionate size" of the remuneration package the four directors had helped themselves to. The pension funds were set up in another institution without the knowledge of Caixa Penedes's board. Ignacio Fernandez Toxo, spokesman for trade union Comisiones Obreras said that if the money could be recovered it could help offset the €45 million ($59.53 million) in wage bill savings BMN had recently said it would seek from its work force. He said many BMN employees are members of Comisiones Obreras. The investigation comes as Spain is burdened with an unemployment rate of 21.5 percent — nearly 5 million people out of work — the eurozone's highest. The country's borrowing costs have also risen to an almost unsustainable level of 7 percent interest rate on 10-year bonds. An auction of 12- and 18-month bonds last week also went badly, with Spain forced to offer very high interest rates to investors.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Nadia, a blue-eyed brunette claims to have met him when she worked as a stripper in a top Moscow nightclub, and says she is currently in hiding, fearing for her life.

She claimed that as she prepared for marriage to Saif, she had to fly to Paris to have an operation to 'restore' her virginity. '

'The doctor proved my innocence in the presence of Saif's aunt. Then I embraced Islam,' she added.

'I tried to have a normal family, but Saif wanted to live as a single man with lovers and orgies,' she said in a Ukrainian newspaper interview.

While there is no proof of her claim of have married and divorced Saif after two years, her claim appears to be taken seriously in Russia and Ukraine.

If she is who she says, she could be a key witness at his trial whether it is in Libya or under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court.

One aspect of his trial is likely to be his alleged friendship with a number of prominent British figures, including Prince Andrew, Tony Blair and Lord Mandelson.

High life: Nadia claims playboy Saif loved luxury and money and was a womaniser. He is pictured here at the Viennese Opera Ball in 2006

High life: Nadia claims playboy Saif loved luxury and money and was a womaniser. He is pictured here at the Viennese Opera Ball in 2006

'Our house looked like more as bordello: a lot of his friends and a lot of women,' she said.

'We got married under religious traditions, I embraced Islam for that, but nobody treated me as the mistress of the house.

'There was no respect at all. My husband tried to make me a submissive Eastern woman, and I couldn't stand that attitude.



'That broke me, ate me from inside. And what's more important, Saif took drugs and he couldn't control himself when he was under narcotics.




'He had certain sexual perversions in sex, for example, he liked to do it in public. I understood that we couldn't live together.'

Nadia, who is believed to be 29, claimed that their relationship ended after a furious row in a restaurant which culminated with him beating her and throwing her out of a window but she miraculously survived.

She claimed she was in a coma for 47 days, and that Gaddafi - who acknowledged her but never started a conversation with her - was outraged by his son's behaviour.

Gaddafi was known to have employed Ukrainian nurses in his medical team, but until now it was not known his second son has a wife from the former Soviet country.

Arrested: Sair al-Islam Gaddafi sitting with his captors in Obari airport on Saturday

Arrested: Sair al-Islam Gaddafi sitting with his captors in Obari airport on Saturday

Of Gaddafi himself she said: 'About me being in hospital, he was in a fury. He kicked Saif away to the desert. It could spoil the reputation of the family that was already not so clean.'

She left Libya and returned to Moscow. 'The last time he came was in 2008, and he suggested that we lived together again ~ but I was cold to him by that time.'

Nadia said she was working in Moscow until 2010 but a mutual friend then told her to disappear or she could face danger.

She claimed that Saif could not have replaced his father. 'He was afraid of his father, as of fire. And Gaddafi, I think, despised him for internal weaknesses.'

The fall: Saif al-Islam sits after his capture, with his fingers wrapped in bandages and his legs covered with a blanket, at an undisclosed location

The fall: Saif al-Islam sits after his capture, with his fingers wrapped in bandages and his legs covered with a blanket, at an undisclosed location

Playboy Saif loved luxury and money. She said: 'He was cheating on me all the time.'

Nadia - it is not known if this is her real name - is apparently in hiding in the Crimea where she says she is fearful of his enemies. 'I don't know any secrets, but still I'm scared,' she said.

She claims not to be rich but for Saif 'it was all in a day's work to spend $20,000 (USD) at a restaurant.

'When we separated I had only luxurious earrings which I managed to sell for $1million. I lived in Moscow on this money. Now almost nothing is left.'

Her most recent interview was with Ukrainian paper Respubika. It was made shortly before his capture.

'I thought Saif would turn my life into an Eastern fairytale,' she said. 'It didn't work.'

Saif panel


Thursday, 24 November 2011


Marbella in Spain is proving popular among Russians looking for property in the country, it has been noted. Fine & Country Spain, a real estate agency, has recorded an increase in the number of buyers from Russia expressing an interest in developments in the region. Sales director at the firm Laurent Coulee commented that the amount of people from the nation searching for properties in Spain has doubled since 2010. He added that the majority of investors are targeting high-end homes on the coast in Marbella. Mr Coulee pointed to several reasons why they may be attracted to Spanish real estate: "If Russians buy property in Spain, they are able to obtain a visa for visits [...] Many also prefer to invest in property in another currency to spread the currency risk." Earlier this month, International Property Success predicted that house prices will not fall any further in Marbella, due in part to the influx of foreign buyers. In addition to Russians, the organisation revealed Middle Eastern and British buyers are also attracted to real estate in this region of Spain.

People queue up to buy ''El Gordo'' lottery tickets in downtown Madrid November 16, 2011. REUTERS/Susana Vera

 November 16, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Susana Vera


 Millions are out of work and a recession looms, all the more reason for Spaniards to dig deep into their pockets to gamble on the famous El Gordo (Fat One) Christmas lottery, the world's biggest jackpot, which will make a record payout this year.


"Things are tough this year, but I am definitely going to get a Christmas lottery ticket.. even if it's just one decimo," said Raquel, a 50-year-old taxi driver. The smallest lottery unit sold is a tenth of a ticket, or decimo, for 20 euros ($26.99).

This year alone the El Gordo Draw will pay out 2.5 billion euros to over 1,202,490 cash prize winners in Spain and around the world. First prize is worth 4 million euros, the highest amount ever and up 33 percent from a year ago. Sales are expected to match last year's despite the economic crisis, said lottery operator Loterias y Apuestas del Estado (LAE).

The tickets, drawn on December 22, are sold in 4,100 official kiosks throughout the country but can also be bought in a further 6,400 outlets such as newspaper kiosks. Local bars and shops also sell decimos.

Even in gloomy economic times, Spain has been battered by the euro zone debt crisis and has the highest jobless rate in the European union, 90 percent of adult Spaniards play the Christmas lottery pooling money with workmates or friends from the neighborhood bar.

In the remote northern Spanish village of Sort, which means "luck" in the local Catalan language, Xavier Gabriel, owner of "The Golden Witch" lottery outlet, has sold out of El Gordo tickets and is now focused on the annual January 5 "El Nino" draw.

"We can't close on Saturdays for lunch... We had 200 motorbikes, 500 cars and eight coaches bringing people up here for El Gordo ticket and it was the same thing on Sundays," Gabriel said.

"The Golden Witch" is the most successful lottery outlet in Spain in terms of sales and sold the winning El Gordo number in 2003.

Gabriel has an established base of overseas clients who buy their Christmas lottery tickets over the internet.


Becoming a millionaire for Christmas or even having the chance to share in one of the millions of cash prizes is appealing to many Spaniards as they struggle to weather the worst economic crisis in generations.

The Spanish Organization for the Blind (ONCE), which runs a weekly lottery, sold out in Madrid for its draw on November 11 this year.

Spain's center-right People's Party stormed to a crushing victory on Sunday over the Socialists whom voters blamed for the country's economic woes.

Prime Minister-elect Mariano Rajoy warned the country, however, that "difficult times are coming" as the new government tackles a steep public deficit threatening to push Spain toward a eurozone bailout.

Since the Fat One went on sale this year queues have been forming outside some of the most famous lottery kiosks in Spain's capital city Madrid.

"I always buy El Gordo at Dona Manolita. They've sold several winning numbers," said 45-year old Maria, currently unemployed, queued up at the kiosk in Puerta del Sol square in central Madrid, also the setting for the "Indignados" (or Indignant) protests against austerity measures earlier this year.

Some cash-strapped locals have made a beeline for the few outlets where they can use a credit card to buy their ticket.

"But there are not many of these outlets in Spain. It's cash in hand," said Juan Gallardo, Commercial Director at the state-owned LAE.

Spain will be glued to radios and television sets on December 22, listening to the monotonous chant of voices of a group of children from the San Idelfonso college, dressed in navy blue and grey uniforms, who sing out the winning numbers and prizes.

"It's the only draw where you really have a chance to win something...and you can see it on TV," Raquel the Madrid taxi driver said.

In 2010, El Gordo raised 2.7 billion euros in revenues for the state. Sales fell 0.2 percent in 2010 from 2009.

"The lottery is part of the Spanish DNA," said LAE chairman Aurelio Martinez earlier this year at a presentation of the planned sale of 30 percent of the lottery operator. The sale was pulled in September due to tough market conditions.


National Police have found more than 550 kilos of cocaine hidden in boxes of ‘top quality bananas’ which were being introduced into Spain via the port in Algeciras. The drugs were hidden in the plastic linings inside the cardboard boxes containing the bananas, found in containers which had come from Ecuador. The drug runners benefitted by the quicker customs procedures for fruit. 11 people have been arrested in Madrid, including the alleged head of the gang. The police investigation started in the middle of last year as a group of Ecuadorian and Colombian men who were planning to send a large amount of cocaine from South America to Spain were uncovered. The members of this gang had top security measures to avoid detection by the Police. Thanks to the methods discovered in that organisation, with the drug hidden in the plastic, it has been possible to make these latest arrests.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Pretty receptionist Tinglan Hong, 32, was known as Tin Tin by staff and entertained diners by singing on the karaoke.

She was born and brought up in China and dated the London restaurant and takeaway’s owner Marco Yu, 60, before falling for the upper-crust English actor’s charms.

The boss and staff were shocked when Tinglan announced she was pregnant with Hugh’s baby earlier this year.

Marco told the Sunday Mirror yesterday: “Tin Tin worked here for seven years and we were good friends. She’s a nice girl and a good worker. Everybody liked her. She comes from a good family and has a masters degree in travel and tourism so is very bright.

“I haven’t seen her since she went on maternity leave but I wish her the best of luck. I have no idea if she will come back to work. The company is still paying her maternity pay but there’s a job for her if she wants it.”

One regular at the Bayee Village restaurant in Wimbledon, South London, explained: “Hugh often visited the place. He’s a big Fulham Football Club fan and the players used to come in a lot too.

“It would have been impossible not to notice Tin Tin. She’s always smiley, friendly and one of those people that everyone just likes.”

Hugh, 51, worth £40million after hits like Notting Hill and Love Actually, had been seen kissing Tinglan at a pub in London. And they were photographed in April at a cocktail bar, though pregnant Tinglan was not drinking. They appeared awkward together and in deep conversation.

He was not present at the birth of his daughter, whose name has not been announced, six weeks ago but did visit soon after.

He had already moved Tinglan into a £1.2m property near his £3m home in Fulham. The actor’s spokesman said this week the relationship was a “fleeting” affair

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Thomas Cook
Thomas Cook planes parked at Munich airport last year. Photograph: Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

Thomas Cook is running low on cash and has begun talks with its banks, in an effort to increase its borrowings to tide it over the slow Christmas season.

Shares in the tour operator fell by more than three quarters on Tuesday morning after it admitted that trading has "deteriorated" in recent months. It is now seeking to borrow more in the short term, and has postponed the publication of its financial results until the talks are concluded.

Shares in the company, which abruptly lost its chief executive three months ago, tumbled by more than 75% to 9.3p at one stage.

Tour operators tend to run low on cash in the slower winter months, but even so, the news stunned the City. Only last month, Thomas Cook said it had agreed a further £100m in short-term funding from its banks explicitly for the winter lull.

A spokeswoman said that discussions with banks were merely a "prudent" and "pro-active" move. Thomas Cook still has cash in the bank, she said, but wants to be prepared for any unexpected shocks over Christmas. All customer orders are protected by the ATOL protection scheme and equivalent programmes, she added. "Thomas Cook still has cash on the balance sheet, but because conditions have deteriorated further [since October], particularly around trading, some of that extra funding has been used up. Thomas Cook feels it needs more headroom to be prudent," she said.

Interim CEO Sam Weihagen added: "It's business as usual. We are trading within all out business, and financial, covenants, we have all the protection in place like any other travel company, and customers should not worry at all."

The company is seeking roughly £100m more in its latest talks. It made the decision to renew talks with banks on financing after realising the scale of the recent downturn in an internal trading update meeting yesterday.

Police on the Costa del Sol were yesterday hunting a gang who stole £1million of cocaine from a warehouse where authorities held seized drugs before destroying them.

The thieves used laser equipment to cut through the metal doors of the store in the docks at Malaga, the capital of the southern Spanish holiday coast. 

They struck when there were no security guards on duty and  it had been left to the paramilitary Civil Guard to watch the building.

The drugs were being stored in a warehouse in Malaga when the thieves struck

The drugs were being stored in a warehouse in Malaga when the thieves struck


Drugs seized by police and customs are stored there for tests to be carried-out before the courts issue orders to destroy them.

Monday, 21 November 2011


A MAN has been sentenced to a year in prison for failing to pay a bill of more than €5,438 at a luxury Marbella hotel. He had been staying at the Marbella Club on the Golden Mile for a week in September 2003 and during the stay, used different services which amounted to €5,438, which he left without paying. The hotel made a formal complaint but the trial wasn’t held until this year mainly due to difficulties locating the man. He admitted that he has stayed at the hotel but had refused to pay the bill because he thought it excessive for the services he had received. His lawyer maintained that he attempted to reach an agreement with the hotel, which the manager claims that he had shown no intention of paying, and that until the day of the trial, when he handed in €3,349, he hadn’t received any money from him. The judge considered that the man had intended to commit fraud and he was sentenced to two years in prison and the payment of the bill plus interests. He appealed, and Malaga Provincial Court, although maintaining that he intended to commit fraud, reduced the sentence by one year because he had attempted to repair some of the damage by bringing a large part of the money he owed to the trial to give to the hotel.


Diners at some of the city's most popular restaurants had their credit card details stolen by waiters working for gangs, who targeted customers with American Express black cards, then spent millions of dollars on expensive clothes and vintage wine, it is alleged. The cards of wealthy customers at Smith & Wollensky, the Capital Grille and Wolfgang's Steakhouse restaurants were allegedly "skimmed" and used to buy Rolex watches, Jimmy Choo shoes and Chanel handbags. Almost 30 people have been charged with crimes, including racketeering, conspiracy and grand larceny, after the alleged fraud ring was broken by police in Manhattan. Seven waiters at the restaurants are alleged by prosecutors to have been recruited by Luis Damian "D.J." Jacas, the 41-year-old alleged ringleader, and equipped with card-copying devices. They were instructed to focus on customers with premium credit cards, including the American Express black card, so that expensive purchases would not trigger alerts to customers. "The thieves were very selective, waiting until they were handed cards with extremely high or unlimited credit," said Manhattan district attorney Cyrus Vance.

Moshe Safdie
Architect Moshe Safdie looks out of a window next to a large red untitled magnifying disk sculpture by artist Fred Eversley at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas. Photograph: Danny Johnston/AP

When Alice Walton, heiress to the Walmart supermarket fortune and the the 10th richest woman in the United States, opened a spectacular fine art museum in her home town, she might have expected plaudits and gratitude. It hasn't quite worked out that way.

The long-awaited opening of the Crystal Bridges Museum for American Art in Walton's home town of Bentonville, Arkansas, has provoked mixed reactions. Some have celebrated the unveiling of a significant new private art institution, but many have criticised the decision to spend $1.4bn of company and family foundation money as the retail colossus cuts back its workers' benefits.

Protesters at the museum have informally joined forces with the Occupy Wall Street camps across the US and point to growing ties between the Occupy movement and established trade unions.

The museum, which opened last weekend and features a survey of American art from Benjamin West to Georgia O'Keefe, from Norman Rockwell to Andy Warhol, and from Joan Mitchell to Walton Ford, has also come under criticism from within the art establishment for both inflating values and buying masterpieces from impoverished art institutions without giving local institutions a chance to match Walton's offer.

While historians point out that this is little different from 19th-century robber barons such as Henry Clay Frick and Andrew Carnegie amassing vast collections of European art and bringing it to America, the prospect of hundreds of masterpieces in rural Bentonville, two hours' drive from Tulsa, is still controversial.

Walton, at 62 the youngest of Walmart founder Sam Walton's four children, started buying specifically for the project in 2005. The Moshe Safdie-designed institution, which sits in 120 acres of dogwood trees and trails minutes from downtown Bentonville, already has 440 works on display and 800 in storage.

"We set market records for very few pieces that we purchased," says curator, David Houston. "But there is latent criticism from an east coast elite that bringing a famous painting like Thomas Eakins's [$68m] Gross Clinic to Arkansas is itself an act of cultural vandalism. We're bringing art to the public, but it's a different kind of public, and there are social and political connotations to that."

In the week since Crystal Bridges opened, it has already seen 5,000 registered visitors. "Sheer curiosity and hunger for an institution like this bears out Alice Walton's vision," Houston says.

Ben Waxman, spokesman for the union-affiliated Making Change@Walmart, said: "Opening a huge, opulent museum in the middle of nowhere while the company is cutting health insurance for its employees is troubling. It sends the message Wal-Mart doesn't care about them."

The issues of wealth distribution that have brought art into conflict with the labour movement at Crystal Bridges have also been on display at Sotheby's during the billion-dollar modern, impressionist and contemporary sales earlier this month in New York.

Since August, when Sotheby's dismissed 43 unionised art handlers, its salesrooms have been besieged by Teamsters union members, bearing an inflatable rat and a fat cat banker with a cigar in one hand and throttled worker in the other. "The company is having its most profitable year in 267 years and they locked us out in the middle of our contract," said Teamsters member Phil Cortero. "Sotheby's represents the richest people in the world. When you lose your shirt down on Wall Street you come and hock your stuff here."

Increasingly, the Teamsters are joined by Occupy Museum activists, chanting "We are the 99%!" They protest that the multimillion dollar art handled by auction houses is used to maintain and transfer the wealth of the 1%.

Outside Christie's, which is not involved in the dispute, Los Angeles property developer Eli Broad, one of America's wealthiest men, confirmed as much to the New York Times. "People would rather have art than gold or paper," he said.

OWS Labor Outreach member Mike Friedman said that Occupy had no problem with the art itself. "But at a time when we're seeing cutbacks in health and education spending, we're seeing the transfer of wealth by way of tax cuts and subsidies to an elite who use excesses of that transfer to buy these magnificent works of art."

With the end of the Zuccotti Park sit-in, Occupy says it plans to initiate focused protests against cultural institutions associated with big Wall Street donors. It has singled out Lincoln Center, home to the New York Philharmonic, the Metropolitan Opera and New York fashion week, which is financially supported by Tea Party funder David Koch.

Back at Crystal Bridges, Houston argues that it will take years to see the full effect of how the Walton family has used its wealth. The family foundation is active in a whole variety of charitable activities, many of them educational, he says. "Their intent is not to create a shrine to an individual or even a family. Their goal is to create a tremendous cultural resource in this part of the world."

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Hollywood star Natalie Wood  was screaming for help as she drowned, according to a witness whose account has never been disclosed.

Retired stockbroker Marilyn Wayne has told The Mail on Sunday she tried to report the star’s ‘last desperate cries for help’ but was ignored.

Los Angeles police last week said ‘substantial new evidence’ has led them to reopen their investigation into the death 30 years ago this week. 

Mystery: Natalie drowned after a row while drinking with husband Robert Wagner and co-star Christopher Walken

Mystery: Natalie drowned after a row while drinking with husband Robert Wagner and co-star Christopher Walken

The West Side Story actress’s drowning off the coast of California was ruled accidental at the time. Now a police source has described Wood’s husband, Hart-To-Hart star Robert Wagner, now 81, as ‘a person of interest’ in the case. 

Wagner – who was on his yacht Splendour with his wife and her alleged lover, Oscar-winner Christopher Walken, on the fateful night – has always maintained Wood, 43, accidentally slipped and drowned as she drunkenly tried to tie up a dinghy against the boat.  


Wayne, 68, believes new statements from her and Dennis Davern, skipper of the Splendour, had triggered the latest police probe.

She said: ‘I have been waiting for years for them to take my account seriously but they would never listen.’

Wayne was on a nearby boat with a boyfriend called John on the night of November 28, 1981.

In a sworn statement submitted to the LA Sheriff’s department, Wayne said: ‘My cabin window was open. A woman’s voice, crying for help, awakened John and awakened me, “Help me, someone please help me, I’m drowning”, we heard repeatedly.’

Wayne said John turned on their yacht’s beam light but they couldn’t see anything. Wayne claims she called the harbour patrol officer ‘but no one answered’ and the local sheriff’s office, who told her a helicopter would be sent. But it did not come. 

She also claims to have heard a man’s slurred voice from the direction of the Splendour saying: ‘Oh, hold on, we’re coming to get you.’ 

Natalie Wood and husband Robert Wagner (left) on their boat Splendour , with captain Dennis Davern (right), whose revelations have helped re-open the case into Ms Wood's death

Natalie Wood and husband Robert Wagner (left) on their boat Splendour, with captain Dennis Davern (right), just weeks before she died

‘Not long after that the cries for help subsided,’ she recalled.

It was only when Wayne gave an account of her story to a U.S. TV crew for a programme scheduled to air next week, that she was asked to give a statement to police.

Wayne’s account matches that of Davern who says he was ‘coerced’ by Wagner’s lawyer into backing Wagner’s story of an accidental drowning after the death.

Davern’s police statement describes a night of heavy drinking that ended in a furious row between Wagner and Wood after Walken had retired to bed.

Emotional: IN a television interview, Lana Wood said her sister was terrified of water

Emotional: In a television interview, Lana Wood said her sister was terrified of water

Wood's sister has claimed the actress was so scared of water that she would never have tried to get into a dinghy voluntarily before she drowned.

The coroner's ruling, based on accounts from the actress's husband Robert Wagner, outlined how she had fallen into the sea after attempting to secure the small boat, but that finding should not be believed, Lana Wood said.

Wood had developed a deep-rooted fear of water ever since her mother warned her as a child that she would meet her death by drowning in 'dark water', Lana Wood told TMZ.

She said: 'It gave Natalie a great fear. She hated the water, she wouldn't even go into her own pool at home.'

Coroner's officials at the time wrote that Ms Wood was 'possibly attempting to board the dinghy and had fallen into the water, striking her face.'

Lana Wood, also an actress best known for her part in Diamonds Are Forever, had never believed that her sister would have tried to sail herself at night, even after drinking for several hours.

The 65-year-old also claimed that the actress's husband left her to drown on the night of her tragic death.

In an emotional interview Lana Wood said that when Natalie was in the water, Wagner, who she calls RJ, had forbidden the captain from helping her and said: 'Leave her there, teach her a lesson'.

Speaking to TMZ, she claimed Dennis Davern, captain of the Splendour yacht from which Ms Wood fell and drowned in 1981, told her what Wagner had said.  

Lana told TMZ: 'He (Dennis) said that everyone was quite drunk and that a fight broke out and that Natalie was in the water and he and RJ did nothing to pull her out.

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Mystery: The yacht 'Splendour' was pictured today moored in a harbor in Honolulu, Hawaii after investigators reopened the case into the mysterious death of Natalie Wood

Lana Wood\nRef 68417ES\nCredit Eddie sanderson/scopefeatures.com

Seeking the truth:  Lana Wood, right, said she never believed Wagner's story about how her sister Natalie, far left, died and believes only Wagner can give her the truth

'He said, and this is a direct quote from what Dennis told me: 'Leave her there, teach her a lesson'.'

In her interview she also claimed that the captain told her Wagner called his attorney before he alerted the Coastguard to the incident. 

The revelations come as the police confirmed today that they will reopen the investigation into the death and said they may use new DNA technology after receiving 'credible and substantial information'.

They said, until they find evidence to say otherwise, Natalie Wood's death will still be ruled as an accidental drowning.

The sheriff said at this point her actor-husband Wagner is not a suspect.

One of the key witnesses in the reopening of the investigation is Mr Davern, who police confirmed they would interview.

Mr Davern has blamed Ms Wood's husband for the death,  claiming that - at the behest of Wagner - they did not do enough to find Ms Wood, after he advised against calling coastguards for four hours.

When asked if he thought Wagner was responsible for Ms Wood's death, he said: 'Yes, I would say so.'


There has been another case of balconing in Spain, this time in Adeje, Tenerife, and with the twist that the victim was having sex with her husband at the time she fell. The British tourist who fell several metres then got her ankle caught between the bars of an internal staircase was left hanging there, head down and totally naked until the emergency crews arrived. 49 year old A.M.A.M. had been having sex with her husband against the railings on one of the public areas of the hotel and in the frenzy, the railings gave way. The husband called the emergency services and the local and national police arrived with a fire crew. After their initial surprise, the managed to release the woman’s trapped right leg, and she was taken for observation to the Hospitén Sur.


Bee Gee Robin Gibb, who has been increasingly frail in recent months, has been diagnosed as suffering from liver cancer. The 61-year-old learned he had the disease several months ago, but the news only emerged this week when he was rushed to hospital. He is reported to have spent five hours in hospital in Oxford on Tuesday before being allowed home, and his brother and bandmate Barry is reported to have flown to see him - along with his 91-year-old mother Barbara. A source told The Mirror: "Robin is not good and there is a lot of concern for him. You can use your wealth to call in the best experts but sometimes no amount of fame, prestige and money can change things when it comes to cancer. "But Robin is a strong character, he is a fighter and has been encouraged by all the online messages from his fans. Dwina is doing everything ­possible and hasn’t left his side. "There will be difficult times ahead but Robin will never give up and his loving family will make sure he has everything he needs. There is ­frustration because Robin has always looked after himself. He doesn’t drink, eats well and exercises daily."

Benalup Street Andalucia Spain
 Photograph: Tracey Fahy /Alamy

The shiny Audis and BMWs that still line the narrow streets of Benalup are a reminder that this Andalucían country town once boasted the greatest number of luxury cars per head in the south-western province of Cádiz.

These days this charming place, set bull-rearing countryside inland from Gibraltar, holds a different kind of record: not only the worst unemployment rate in the country, but the worst in Europe.

"I don't know whether they can fix this," said 19-year-old Juan Carlos Gutiérrez, one of hundreds of young people who dropped out of school and now drift between part-time work, training courses and the dole queue. "I've picked asparagus and worked in a packing factory, but the jobs never last. The future is screwed."

"Everyone our age is out of work," agreed Nora Pérez, 22, as she waited for the hearse bringing her grandmother to her funeral in the picturesque square of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. "My father went to Germany when he was young. Our generation may emigrate as well. Some of my friends have already left."

A grey-bearded, bespectacled man grins from a campaign poster overlooking the tiny ornamental gardens and bandstand on San Juan Street and calls on the people of Benalup to "sign up to change". He is Mariano Rajoy, the conservative People's party (PP) leader set to become Spain's prime minister at the general election on Sunday.

Rajoy will inherit a country in crisis. Growth is zero and unemployment has hit 23%. In Cádiz province, one in three is jobless. In Benalup 1,500 adults are without work. In a country where 46% of the under-25s cannot find employment, Benalup's unqualified youngsters are getting desperate.

"Many got into debt when times were good, buying houses and cars and starting families," says Ricardo Jiménez, who runs the local branch of the Catholic charity Caritas. "Families are very close and help one another out, but we already help 80 families and more come every month. Some are asking for help to feed their babies," he said. That means almost 5% of the town needs church handouts.

Others are handed money by the town hall or given whatever jobs local politicians can invent. "If we have to dig a ditch we do it by hand, rather than with a digger, because that way we employ more people," said councillor Manuel Moguel.

When Luis Moreno, 23, left school five years ago there was no need to worry about finding a job. All you had to do was walk on to a building site. "It was very simple," he says.

Now he receives €526 (£450) a month to attend a training course designed to turn a dozen locals into graphic designers, though design jobs are not plentiful in Benalup. "We have to learn new skills," he says. He is one of the lucky ones. Courses like this are heavily oversubscribed.

As markets demand ever higher interest payments for lending Spain money, and the European Union instructs its politicians to slash its deficit, public money is drying up. Yields on Spanish debt have now overtaken Italy's and soared to the same levels at which Greece and Portugal needed to be bailed out. And if Spain – a much larger economy – fails, then it may bring down the euro.

Spain's biggest problem remains the money owed to banks for property or land bought during a decade-long boom fuelled by cheap credit. The rows of unsold new homes in Benalup are evidence of Spain's housing bubble, which burst in 2008, leaving 700,000 unsold new houses on the market.

By 2004, more than 80% of Benalup's labour force worked in construction, building homes or holiday apartments along the nearby Mediterranean coast.

"Kids left school at 16 because they could earn €3,000 a month working a three-and-a-half-day week," says Moguel. "I had university-trained engineers working in my company who were earning less than that."

As money poured into people's pockets, the number of banks in town doubled. La Caixa, a newly arrived savings bank, started a local lending war – its manager winning awards. "Kids were buying houses and cars with the loans. And those who already had a house bought another one," says Moguel.

Now the town is plastered with "For Sale" signs from Servihabitat, the real estate branch of La Caixa, which is repossessing properties – though owners must still pay off their full debt after homes have been taken away. "That's unfair. You can't have a bank saying your home is worth €180,000, lending you the money and then repossessing it at half that price," says Moguel, a Socialist. He is uncomfortably aware that Spain's torrid affair with speculative capitalism happened largely on the watch of the Socialist government led by outgoing prime minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero.

Even in Benalup, where the Socialists once won 90% of the vote and which still remembers the bloody suppression of an uprising by local anarchists in the 1930s, the vote is now sliding to the right. "It used to be tough in this town to be from the People's party, but we won 43% of the vote at municipal elections in May," says Vicente Peña, a 40-year-old veterinarian who heads the party's local branch.

Peña delivers the same diagnosis of Benalup's ills as his Socialist opponents. "Too many people dropped out of school to become bricklayers. They can't even write a sentence properly."

Vicente Ruiz, owner of the El Buyí bar, will vote for Rajoy. "When Caritas is the biggest employer in town, things are really bad," he says. "It is shameful to have to ask for charity. What we need is a Mrs Thatcher."

Public money is being spent on silly projects, clients in his bar agree. "I've had 60-year-old women coming to bricklaying courses," says one, Nicolás. "It is ridiculous, but they each get their own overalls and hammer."

Peña says that, among other things, people will have to go back to the land. But even there things are going badly. Local horses, bred at stud farms set up as a trophy hobby by nouveau riche local builders, are now being sacrificed for meat and exported to dinner tables in northern Spain.

Pura Raza Española ponies are going for €150. Even fighting bulls are on the decline. "Town halls subsidised many bullfights," says rancher Salvador Gaviria. "But now they have no money, so the market is sinking." The number of bullfights across Spain has fallen by a third as a result.

Benalup is too far inland from the beach to attract tourists. A golf resort set up by a Belgian company, Fairplay, is said to be struggling. The Hotel Utopia, a boutique-style establishment that opened recently, was almost empty this week.

Spaniards hope Rajoy, who has been deliberately ambiguous about his austerity programme and liberal reform plans, can fix their problems. "If changing to Rajoy is going to solve everything, then why haven't the markets – which know he is going to win — shown they trust him?" asks Moguel.

Rajoy will come under immediate pressure to reveal how he plans to square a budget that needs some €41bn of savings next year. Those must come on top of austerity measures already imposed by Zapatero, who cut civil service pay and froze pensions.

Alberto Ruíz Gallardón, PP mayor of Madrid and a probable minister, has called on the socialists to hand over power quickly. "It could be dangerous to prolong the caretaker period," he says.

But parliament does not meet again until 13 December and it may take another fortnight to appoint Rajoy formally. Even if he takes over immediately, jobs are unlikely to reappear in Benalup.

Fortunately it retains the Cádiz tradition of laughing at adversity. Benalup's carnival musical groups are already practising the typicalchirigota songs that parody the powerful. Rajoy, Angela Merkel and the European Central Bank can all expect to feature in them by the time carnival comes around in February.


British government bonds are attracting strong support, in sharp contrast to their troubled eurozone peers as investors seek a safehaven from a debt crisis now spreading to Italy, Spain and even France. British government bonds, or gilts as they are known, are in huge demand largely because the Bank of England is buying them up with newly-created money that it hopes can in turn be used to stimulate an anaemic economic recovery, analysts say. But investors are also reassured by the British coalition government's determined efforts to slash state debt and avoid the severe troubles that have snared the crisis-hit eurozone trio of Greece, Ireland and Portugal.

The council are seeking to claim a total of 2,251,000€

The PP mayor of El Ejido in Almería, Francisco Góngora, has criticized the "negligence" of the former government team and announced that the city council are to begin legal proceedings against the promotions company who were to stage a concert by the Rolling Stones in 2006.

Following the findings of "many irregularities" in the case, the council are now seeking to claim a total of 2,251,000€, which they feel they are owed, in view of the cancellation.

The announcement was made at a press conference in which Francisco Góngora claimed that there was a “contractual obligation” by the promoter to ensure that the concert went ahead and that even if the company were insolvent, then they would seek recompense from the individuals responsible for the incomplete commitment made to the previous government team.

Information indicates that there was a contractual clause that stipulated that insurance must be provided that should the concert be cancelled, then the promoter would be able to repay any money owed, in full, through an insurance claim. It is believed that this insurance was never provided.

Although some money is said to have been returned, it was only about half of the 4.176 million euro that the city had paid for the organisation of the concert.

There also appears to be a lack of information as to where the money actually went and who might be accountable for the cash given to the company by the council. There have also been allegations made that this whole case could be part of a much wider campaign of both political and corporate corruption.

Now, reviewing the clauses of the original contract, it has been found that the rights to claim the money back would expire after 15 years.

Góngora, also stated that there were economic losses of 2.6 million euro recorded after the second concert by the Rolling Stones in El Ejido held in 2007, which were due to "mismanagement" whereas the projected ticket sales were calculated at 60,000 attendees, but only 20,000 tickets were actually sold.

Referring to the award of the second contract by the previous council, Góngora  stated that "despite the failed previous contract they rehired the same company for four million euro of which they did not deduct anything owed," continuing that he considered the failings to be down to the complacency of the previous PSOE government.

The Ministry of Interior for Andalusia had already imposed a 60,150 euro fine on the organisers for breaching the rules on show cancellations in failing to return ticket money within the maximum four days which is set out by the governing body. In actual fact, it took several weeks for the organisers to return the money raised on the 50,500 tickets sold for the cancelled concert.


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