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  1. Updates on Wednesday 28 September 2016

Live Reporting

All times stated are UK

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Our live coverage across the day

Ana Guerra-Moore

BBC News Online

Live updates here have finished for today - thank you for joining us. 

Join us again tomorrow from 08:00 with more news, sport, weather and travel from across the North East. 

Fancy getting in touch? If so, you can contact us on TwitterFacebook, or via email at

Two robberies in Bishop Auckland

Two people were robbed during separate attacks in Bishop Auckland last week.

Both robberies happened in the South Church area of the town.

The first took place on Monday, 19 September, between 20:30 and 21:30 near St Andrew’s Cemetery, where a dog walker had her bag stolen.  

The second happened on Thursday, 22 September, at 12:45 on the path next to St Phillip’s Park, where a man was threatened with a knife and had his mobile phone and wallet stolen.   

Weather: Clouds and rain

BBC Weather

Largely cloudy to end the day with a band of rain moving south, some locally heavy rain for a time across the hills, but lighter and more patchy elsewhere.

Clearer, drier conditions to follow by midnight but remaining windy.  

Weather graph

Check the weather where you are.

Boy assaulted in Newcastle

A teenager has been robbed and assaulted in Newcastle

The 17-year-old boy was assaulted in New Bridge Street, outside the St Vincent De Paul Christian centre at about 12:35 on Friday.

Two men approached the boy, one of them punched him, knocking his cap from his head. They then stole his cap and made off.

A number of people were stood at a nearby bus stop when the attack took place and police believe they may have witnessed the incident.  

'Pervert groped woman in front of her husband and child in street'

Sunderland Echo


A Sunderland sex pest ruined his victim’s life when he attacked her in broad daylight on a city centre street, a court was told.

Sunderland Magistrates' Court.
Sunderland Echo

Travel warning: A69 in Hexham to close after 18:30 tonight

The A69 in Hexham, Northumberland, is to close after this evening's rush hour to clear an overturned lorry, the Highways Agency says.

One lane is currently closed following the crash at Bridge End roundabout which happened at 14:30.

Some of the safety fence was also damaged and will need to be repaired. The road will close at 18:30 and reopen as soon as possible.

Traffic will be diverted via the A6079, the B6318 and the A68 to rejoin the A69 at Stagshaw.

Teapot collection sells for £80,000

One of the largest teapot collections has sold for more than £80,000 in Newcastle.

The collection, which belonged to Berwick architect Philip Miller, consists of 1,200 teapots ranging from  the mid 18th century right up to the modern day.

One of items in the collection was a teapot dating back to 1875 and created by Royal Worcester - which is believed to be the oldest remaining English porcelain brand in existence today.

The teapot collection
Anderson & Garland

Teenager, 14, with links to Gateshead goes missing

A teenager who has links to the Gateshead area has gone missing.

Van Nang Nguyan, who is 14 and originally from Vietnam, has not been seen since 7 September.

He is around 5ft 4in and of slim build.

Van Nang Nguyan

MH17 investigators 'intercepted phone calls'

Prosecutors investigating the MH17 crash which killed two Newcastle fans and 296 others have played recordings from intercepted phone calls during their news conference.

They said witnesses reported seeing the missile launcher move from Russia into Ukraine and presented pictures and videos.

The launch site was pinpointed by "many witnesses", prosecutors said.

Relatives were briefed before the JIT released their preliminary findings.

"They told us how the Buk was transported [and] how they came to that evidence from phone taps, photo, film material, video," Robby Oehler, whose niece was killed in the crash, told the BBC.

How does a BUK missile system work?

Durham teaching assistants set to strike over pay deal

The majority of teaching assistants in County Durham have voted to reject a pay deal, which some claim would see them lose up to 20% of their salary.

The Unison and GMB unions balloted members after the county council said its 2,700 assistants would only be paid during term time.

Unison members, who make up the bulk of staff, voted to reject a compensation offer, while GMB members accepted.

Unison is to now launch a ballot for strike action.

Teaching assistants at a recent rally in Durham

Overnight road closures in Bishop Auckland

Overnight road closures will be in place in Bishop Auckland town centre next week while roadworks are carried out.

North Bondgate will be closed for resurfacing between 19:00 and 07:00 from Monday, 3 October, to Friday, 7 October.

The road will be shut between the junctions with High Bondgate and Silver Street.

The junction with Wear Chare will also be closed to traffic during these times.

North Bondgate

Travel: Trains to airport delayed

Sam Allardyce: Ex-England boss says entrapment has won

Ex-England boss Sam Allardyce has said "entrapment has won" after newspaper allegations led to him stepping down as manager of the national side.

Allardyce left in disgrace after just 67 days after The Daily Telegraph said he advised undercover reporters posing as businessmen how to "get around" player transfer rules.

The former Sunderland and Newcastle manager said it was a "silly thing to do".

Sam Allardyce: Former England boss says he was entrapped

Arrests made in one of Middlesbrough's biggest drug operations

Sixteen people have been arrested in Middlesbrough in a major police operation aimed at tackling drug use and dealers.

Some 120 officers from Cleveland Police targeted properties across the Newport and Gresham areas today.

Temporary Chief Supt John Lyons says they also targeted those involved in the distribution of illegal goods.

Severe disruption: A69 Northumberland eastbound

BBC Travel

A69 Northumberland eastbound severe disruption, at A6079 Rotary Way.

A69 Northumberland - A69 in Hexham blocked and queuing traffic eastbound at Bridge End Roundabout, because of an overturned lorry. Police directing traffic.

Check local traffic and travel reports for:

Hundreds of mourners attend funeral of 'controversial' former Bishop of Durham

Mourners are today paying tribute to the former Bishop of Durham, the Right Reverend Dr David Jenkins, who died aged 91 earlier this month.

Dr Jenkins died in Barnard Castle, County Durham, after living with Alzheimer's disease for many years.

He was often seen as a "controversial cleric", because he questioned some of the fundamental beliefs of Christianity.

His views on the virgin birth and the resurrection caused a storm of protest and considerable opposition to his appointment as Bishop of Durham.

View more on twitter

Sports minister says Allardyce comments are 'very concerning'

Sports minister Tracey Crouch has spoken following the recent sacking of England manager Sam Allardyce.

She said the recent allegations are "very concerning" and confirmed that the matter will be discussed with the football authorities.

Ms Crouch has called the integrity of sport "absolutely paramount" and highlighted that they expect the "highest standards" of governance and transparency from sports governing bodies.

"All the evidence presented must be investigated fully and we stand ready to assist in any way we can", she added.

Three men in court over sex assault of girl, 14

Alison Freeman

BBC Look North

Two young men sexually assaulted a 14-year-old girl in a Newcastle park while a third covered her mouth and nose, a court has heard. 

All three are charged with the sexual assault of the teenager in Leazes Park on 10 May this year. 

The prosecution told Newcastle Crown Court that Omar Badreddin, 18, led the girl behind a hut, known as the pavilion, in the early evening. 

He then kissed and touched her against her will. It is alleged that Mohammed Alfrouh, 20, then joined him and also sexually assaulted her. 

The prosecution said Mohammad Allakkoud, 18, then also joined them and put his hand over her mouth and nose. 

The court also heard that prior to this, Mohammed Alfrouh forcibly kissed and sexually touched another 14-year-old-girl behind a nearby tree. 

Mr Alfrouh is also accused of kissing the girl against her will the day before. All three men deny the charges. The trial continues.

BreakingDurham teaching assistants vote to strike over 'wage cut'

Unison teaching assistants in County Durham have voted to reject the council's offer which they say would mean a proposed wage cut affecting up to 2,700 workers.

Russia disputes MH17 missile was fired from rebel-held territory

Russia has disputed claims that the missile which brought down flight MH17, killing two Newcastle United fans and 296 others, was fired by rebels in eastern Ukraine.

The Dutch-led Joint Investigation Team (JIT) consists of prosecutors from the Netherlands, Australia, Belgium, Malaysia and Ukraine.

"Based on the criminal investigation, we have concluded that flight MH17 was downed by a Buk missile of the series 9M83 that came from the territory of the Russian Federation," chief Dutch police investigator Wilbert Paulissen said.

MH17 inquiry hearing

The missile launcher was later taken back to Russia, he said.

An inquiry by the Dutch Safety Board last year found that a Russian-made Buk missile hit the plane but did not say where it was fired from.

The JIT investigation's findings are meant to prepare the ground for a criminal trial but suspects will not be named.

Elderly woman's wallet stolen in Whitley Bay

An elderly woman's wallet was stolen in a supermarket on Saturday.

The theft happened at the Morrisons store on Hillheads Road in Whitley Bay at about 14:15.

An 82-year-old woman had left her bag on the shopping trolley while in the store and a thief stole her wallet containing bank cards, which he used to steal money from her bank account.

Officers are making inquiries and are checking CCTV.

Morrisons store

Campaign group’s dismay over ‘no A&E in Hartlepool’ recommendation

Hartlepool Mail


A hospital campaign group has given a cautious welcome to some of Professor David Colin-Thome’s findings but is disappointed at no recommendation for A&E being returned to Hartlepool.

People at the first public meeting
Hartlepool Mail

Live at MH17 press conference

Anna Holligan

Reporter BBC News, The Hague

I'm at the media briefing of today's MH17 findings.

Both Russia and Ukraine supplied radar images to the investigation and phone intercepts have been played for us.

The route and trajectory of the BUK missile has been tracked and it's been determined that territory was controlled by pro-Russian fighters.

Numerous witnesses claim to have seen BUK drive by under camouflage netting.

View more on twitter

MH17 missile 'came from area held by Russian-backed rebels'

Full story: International prosecutors investigating the downing of flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine in 2014 say the Buk missile that hit the plane was transported from Russia.

All 298 people on board the Boeing 777 died when it broke apart in midair flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.

Robby Oehler, whose niece was killed in the crash, told the BBC that prosecutors told relatives they will investigate about 100 people over the incident.

MH17 crash site

"They told us how the Buk was transported [and] how they came to that evidence from phone taps, photo, film material, video," he said.

He said prosecutors said the missile was fired from territory controlled by pro-Russian rebels.

The Dutch-led Joint Investigation Team (JIT) consists of prosecutors from the Netherlands, Australia, Belgium, Malaysia and Ukraine.

An inquiry by the Dutch Safety Board last year found that a Russian-made Buk missile hit the plane but did not say where it was fired from.

The JIT investigation's findings are meant to prepare the ground for a criminal trial.

Breaking'Exact location of MH17 missile launcher located'

Investigators have pinpointed the exact location where the missile which hit flight MH17 was fired from, relatives say.

All 298 people on board the Boeing 777 died when it broke apart over Ukraine while flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur in July 2014.

Newcastle fans John Alder and Liam Sweeney were among the dead.

A relative of another victim says he and other family members have been told that the Dutch-led investigation has proof that the missile launch site was controlled by Russian-backed rebels at the time.

They have also been told the launcher was moved into eastern Ukraine from Russia, and then moved back.

The exact location has been contested by Russia, Ukraine and investigators in the past:

MH17 graphic

A "long list" of 100 possible suspects has also been apparently identified.   

Stockton priest denies fraud allegations

A Roman Catholic priest from Stockton has denied allegations of fraud after he was accused of diverting money donated to his church by parishioners.

Father John Reid, 69, is facing two charges after being arrested more than two years ago.

He is accused of channelling money donated to charitable causes and the upkeep of St Cuthbert's Church, Chester-le-Street, to himself.

Durham Crown Court heard he is also charged with failing to keep proper receipts and accounts during the period of June 2009 and October 2013.

Reid, who pleaded not guilty to both charges of fraud by abuse of position, has been granted unconditional bail and his trial will be heard in May next year.

Former Business Minister says Lord Heseltine must be 'held to account' over SSI promise

BBC Tees

The former business minister Anna Soubry has said a "firm plan" needs to be drawn up for the former steelworks site in Redcar - or it will sit derelict for decades.

It's a year to the day since the blast furnace was mothballed, leading to the loss of more than 2,000 jobs.

Lord Heseltine, who the government appointed to chair a group looking at increasing investment in Teesside, previously said the government would foot the bill whatever the cost.  

Ms Soubry said this morning that Lord Heseltine "must be held to account", and called his statement "a very serious commitment".

She added that she's "keen to see progress" and will continue to play her part in the matter.

Anna Soubry
Getty Images

Grown men cried when Teesside's last steel mill shut - but what happened next?

Fiona Trott

BBC News

A white hot girder is being sliced like butter. Former steelworker Denis Alderson is watching the process, his ears and eyes protected from the noise and steel.

We are revisiting the beam mill at Lackenby where he started his career at the age of 16.

"You thought it was the end of the world!" he recalls.

SSI worker

"It was a terrifying place. It was hot, noisy, you're looking around you all the time wondering where the next beam's going to come from - am I safe?"

Today, the mill is one of only three main steel sites that operate in the area.

It is now owned by British Steel - a brand revived in 2016 by an investment group when it bought a division of Tata Steel.

Read the full feature here.

BreakingMiddlesbrough's biggest drug raid in recent years taking place today

BBC Tees

One of the biggest drugs operations in recent years is happening in Middlesbrough this morning. 

About 150 officers are involved in the raids on several homes and businesses in the Newport area of the town.

It's all part of Operation Linen.

We spoke to a woman who has lived in the area all of her life, and she said "times have changed" and drugs are "a big problem" there.

View more on twitter

Ebac returns washing machine manufacture to UK

The first domestic washing machine to be manufactured in the UK in a decade has rolled off a factory production line.

Ebac, based in County Durham, which also makes dehumidifiers and water coolers, hopes to eventually produce 200,000 machines a year.

Initially, they will only be sold via independent stores in the North East.

The family-run company in Newton Aycliffe said it had already been "surprisingly overwhelmed" by demand.

Chairman John Elliott put it down to the "desire for a British-made product".

Washing machine making

Steelworkers criticise government over SSI closure one year on

Fiona Trott

BBC News

Today marks exactly one year since Redcar's SSI plant was mothballed, causing the loss of over two thousand jobs.

The steelworkers' union is now criticising the government for not doing more to prevent the collapse of SSI, when steel prices suggest it could now be making a profit.

The Thailand based company blamed a drop in the price of steel slab.

It's since rallied, with prices this week reaching up to £422 per tonne - more than twice what SSI had previously sold it for.

Today, on the anniversary of the site's closure, the General Secretary of the Community Union, Roy Rickhuss, says the failure of the government to intervene and save the steelworks was "an act of industrial vandalism".

The government has said it couldn't intervene, because of strict EU rules over state aid.  

WATCH: Sam Allardyce - 67 days in 67 seconds

Here's a short video summarising former Sunderland boss Sam Allardyce's 67-day reign as England manager:

Father of MH17 victim talks ahead of today's investigation

BBC Newcastle

The families of Newcastle United fans, Liam Sweeney and John Alder, will be hoping to learn more about what happened to flight MH17 today.

The criminal investigation into the crash over Ukraine more than two years ago, which killed the pair along with 296 others, will release its initial findings at midday. 

The joint investigation team will identify the weapon used to bring down the plane and pinpoint the precise location from which it was launched.

Liam's dad Barry Sweeny says today's meeting is "another part of the jigsaw", which he believes "will never be finished".

"If we can find out why it happened and if it was an error of judgement it would put something to bed", he added.

John Alder (left) and Liam Sweeney

BreakingMan arrested following meat cleaver burglary

A man has been arrested on suspicion of aggravated burglary after a couple were robbed and tied up in their Bishop Auckland home.

The 38-year-old local man was arrested last night and is being interviewed by detectives.

The attack took place at about 00:15 yesterday when a man, armed with what is believed to be a meat cleaver, smashed the downstairs window of the property to gain entry.

The suspect tied up the couple before leaving the house with a number of items. 

Live from Redcar's abandoned SSI site

BBC Tees

We are live from Redcar this morning marking once year since the SSI site was mothballed.

Neil Green and Andy Bell have been speaking to one worker who is still employed there who says it's a depressing prospect to arrive at work every day.

We continue our live coverage until 09:00, and you can listen here.

View more on twitter

Weather: Dry with strong winds

Abbie Dewhurst

Weather Presenter, BBC Look North

A dry start with variable cloud and sunny periods, more especially to the east of the hills.

Through the afternoon, patchy light rain and drizzle developing across the Pennines and Cheviots.

Winds becoming strong and gusty, but pleasantly warm in shelter.  

Check the weather where you are.

Sam Allardyce: England a laughing stock - Alan Shearer

BBC Sport

England are the "laughing stock of world football" following manager Sam Allardyce's departure after only 67 days, says former captain Alan Shearer.

It follows a newspaper investigation claiming Allardyce offered advice on how to "get around" rules on transfers.

"I'm angry, I'm sad, I'm staggered at the misjudgement from a guy who said this was his dream job," the ex-Newcastle striker told BBC Radio 5 live.

The former Sunderland manager has apologised, adding he was "deeply disappointed" to lose his job.

Sam Allardyce