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  1. Updates on Monday 20 February 2017

Live Reporting

All times stated are UK

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Our live coverage across the day

We have now finished our updates here for today. Thank you for joining us.

You can catch up with the latest news tonight on BBC TeesBBC NewcastleLook North and online.

Get in touch on TwitterFacebook, or via email at

But before we go, take a look at Stephen Cooper's stunning photo of the sunrise at Beadnell Harbour in Northumberland.

We'll be back tomorrow from 08:00.  

Beadnell Harbour
Stephen Cooper
Finley Ingles 'has new life' after tumour surgery in America
The mother of Finley Ingles says he has the chance of a happy childhood following tumour surgery.

Magpies are 'best away fans'

BBC Sport

England's most travelled football fan reckons the best away supporters are the Magpies.

Ed Wood (pictured at St James' Park) entered the record books after visiting every one of England's 93 Football League grounds in just 189 days - 48 days quicker than the previous record which was set in 1969.

Ed Wood at St James' Park
Ed Wood

Although a Derby County supporter, Ed ackowledged the best away fans he came across of his travels were those from Newcastle United.

He said: "Easy. Newcastle (at the DW Stadium). They sang all the way through the game. 

"It was arranged for me to do a collection in the home and away bars at Wigan, and once the Newcastle fans heard my speech they kept chanting my name."

Newcastle United v Aston Villa

BBC Sport

Newcastle will be without Isaac Hayden for the match against Aston Villa with an ankle injury, which could keep him out for four weeks. But the Magpies could welcome back Vurnon Anita, who has returned to training.

Newcastle had Jonjo Shelvey and Dwight Gayle on the pitch together for the first time since Christmas in their 2-2 draw with Norwich on Tuesday.

"When they are together on the pitch it's important for the team. But we were winning without those two. We can win using different players. The main thing is the team," Rafa Benitez said.

"It was a Premier League fixture for a lot of years, it will have the feel of a big game."

"The stature of both clubs means it is an important game for everyone, and people will enjoy it."

Weather: Dry and breezy

BBC Weather

It will be a largely dry and breezy night, with some clear spells and variable amounts of cloud. 

There is the risk of the odd shower overnight, but they will be very isolated. 

Minimum temperature: 5C (41F).

Weather forecast

Teaching assistants in week-long vigil

Teaching assistants in County Durham have begun a week-long vigil against council plans to change their contracts.

The assistants, members of Unison and ATL unions, claim the move could mean salary cuts of up to 25%.

They took part in strike action towards the end of last year, which was called off after Durham County Council agreed to enter into talks, which are ongoing.

The vigil is taking place outside County Hall in Durham.

Former Jarrow MP Don Dixon was 'great man'

Jarrow's current Labour MP Stephen Hepburn has paid tribute to his predecessor Don Dixon, who has died peacefully at the age of 87.

Mr Hepburn, who was Lord Dixon's researcher before taking over as the area's MP in 1997, described him as a "great man."

Baron Dixon

He was a man of the people and a legend. He will always be a legend to the people of Jarrow and will be very sadly missed. He grew up here and lived among the people all his life and was very highly thought of."

MP Stephen Hepburn

Lord Dixon became a life peer in 1997 when he retired from the House of Commons and took the title Baron Dixon of Jarrow.

He was married and had three children and four grandchildren.

Exhibition highlights history of Spanish City Dome

A new exhibition is to chronicle the history of Spanish City's grade-II listed Dome.

Called "Dome Sweet Dome", it will explore the important role that the iconic landmark on Whitley Bay’s seafront has played over the years.

Spanish City dome

The interactive exhibition will highlight the work currently underway to restore the Dome through films and information displays and objects salvaged from the building during the work will also be on show.

The exhibition opens on 10 March at the Old Low Light Heritage Centre at North Shields Fish Quay.

Josh Matavesi

Newcastle Falcons continue to add to their squad with the signings of brothers Josh and Joel Matavesi.

Read more

Police report due over T in the Park death

Sunderland Echo


A police report into the investigation sparked by the death of a teenage girl at the T in the Park music festival is due to be completed. 

An inquest review into the death of Megan Bell, 17, from Seaham (pictured), heard a detective inspector from Police Scotland is set to send the document to coroner’s officers in County Durham.

Megan Bell
Sunderland Echo

Prop apologises for 'dreadful' display at Newcastle Falcons

BBC Sport

Northampton Saints prop Alex Waller has apologised to supporters for their "dreadful" second-half performance against Newcastle Falcons on Sunday.

Saints led 24-15 at the break, but a series of defensive and handling errors in the second period allowed Newcastle to turn the game around and win 46-31.

"It was not the performance we were after, after such a strong start in the first half," said 27-year-old Waller.

"We need to go and look at ourselves in the mirror."

Newcastle, aided by a hat-trick from scrum-half Sonatane Takulua, moved above Northampton to seventh in the Premiership table.

Sonatane Takulua celebrates one of his three tries for Newcastle Falcons against Northampton Saints
Rex Features

Severe accident: A194 Tyne And Wear eastbound

BBC News Travel

A194 Tyne And Wear eastbound severe accident, between Wenlock Road and A185 Jarrow Road.

A194 Tyne And Wear - A194 Newcastle Road in Jarrow blocked and very slow traffic eastbound between the Wenlock Road junction and the A185 Jarrow Road junction, because of an accident involving a car and a HGV.

To report traffic and travel incidents dial 0330 123 0184 at any time

Mountain rescue team sees rise in callouts

Cleveland mountain rescue volunteers have dealt with an "unprecedented number" of callouts so far this year.

Last year the team dealt with 37 emergencies. But so far this year, it has already been called out 14 times.

In the past two days it was called out three times to Coxwold, Guisborough and Osmotherly.

A spokesman said all those who were injured had slipped on muddy paths: "Its quite a coincidence to get three similar accidents in one weekend with people just slipping on the wet, muddy paths.

"We would urge anyone venturing out onto the moors or hills to be vigilant and prepared for the conditions at the time."

Rafael Benitez: Aston Villa struggles show Championship is tough

BBC Sport

Newcastle manager Rafael Benitez believes Aston Villa's struggles prove Championship life can be difficult for former Premier League clubs.

Both sides were relegated last season but Villa have struggled to find form, while Newcastle are top.

"They have proved it's a difficult division," Benitez told BBC Newcastle.

"It is not easy to go down and go up first time. It is important to have everyone working together," he added.

Newcastle host Aston Villa tonight, with the two sides meeting at St James' Park for the first time out of the top flight since 1938.

Rafael Benitez and Steve Bruce
Getty Images
Paul Johnson

Police identify the victim of a crash on the A1 in the Scottish Borders at the weekend.

Read more

Dad praises pioneering MS treatment despite recovery setback

Hartlepool Mail


Hartlepool dad Eric Thomson says pioneering MS stem cell treatment he received in Mexico seven months ago has continued to be a success. 

The 50-year-old, from Jowitt Road, made the journey to the Riaz Clinic with wife Joanne last June to receive a Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantations (HSCT).

Eric Thompson
Hartlepool Mail

Farm scoops visitor award

Colin Briggs

Look North

A family-run farm on the edge of Durham Dales has scooped a national award after being named the UK's Farm Attraction of the year. 

Hall Hill Farm near Lanchester, which employs about 50 people, has been providing children and families with educational fun days out for 35 years. 

Hall Hill Farm

It welcomes nearly 75,000 visitors each year.

It is the second time the farm has won the National Farm Attractions Network Award - the last time was in 2011. 

Report aims to boost rape convictions

A report by Northumbria's police and crime commissioner Dame Vera Baird has recommended changes to rape trials to boost conviction rates.

The report - Seeing is Believing - saw a team of 12 volunteers monitor 30 rape trials at Newcastle Crown Court over 18 months.

Of those, five were sent for retrial, six resulted in guilty verdict and there were 19 acquittals - a charge to conviction rate of less than 25%.

The report said on too many occasions the sexual history of complainants was used by defence lawyers without seeking prior permission from judges as guidelines require.

Vera Baird
Northumbria Police

It makes more than 20 recommendations to the Crown Prosecution Service, police forces and the Ministry of Justice, which include better training for lawyers and police officers dealing with rape cases.

Although there is criticism in this report, there was much in what the observers saw that they applauded. Throughout the report examples of good practice appear and are thoroughly commended."

Dame Vera

Graves desecrated in cemetery vandal attack

Police are hunting for vandals who are reported to have desecrated dozens of graves at a cemetery. 

Headstones were knocked over in at least two separate incidents at Hebburn Cemetery in South Tyneside, Northumbria Police said.

Officers launched an appeal for information tracking down the criminals whose callous actions have left relatives of those buried at the site distraught.

About 25 graves were trashed, ornaments were stolen and the area was left strewn with litter and dog mess.

Hebburn Cemetery

A police spokesman said they were taking the incidents "very seriously".

The headstones were damaged between 14:30 on Saturday and 08:30 on Sunday, police said.

Rod Stewart confirmed for cricket ground gig

Rod Stewart fans are in for a treat after the star confirmed he would be playing at Durham County cricket ground in Chester-le-Street later this year.

The "Do You Think I'm Sexy" chart-topper will bring his Hits 2017 show to the venue on 9 June.

Tickets go on sale on 24 February.

Rod Stewart

KInd Darren was life and soul of the party

The Gazette


A heartbroken father has paid tribute to his “happy go lucky” son after his body was found near Aklam Cemetery.

Hemlington man Darren Hewitt was found in the early hours of Friday, February 10 after losing a long battle with mental illness.

Gazette front page

Don Dixon: From shipyard worker to baron

Don Dixon was born in March 1929 and was the MP for Jarrow in South Tyneside for just shy of 20 years.

After working as a carpenter in the then-thriving shipyards of the River Tyne, he became a Labour councillor and subsequently leader of Jarrow Council in 1963 - a position he held for 11 years.

When South Tyneside Borough Council was created in 1974, he became chairman of its newly-formed housing committee.

Don Dixon

He was elected to Parliament as Jarrow's Labour MP in 1979 and served as a party whip in the House of Commons for many years.

He retired from Parliament in 1997 and was elevated to the House of Lords as a life peer - taking the title Baron Dixon of Jarrow.

He retired from the House of Lords in February last year and had suffered from ill-health for some time.

His parliamentary researcher Stephen Hepburn is the current Labour MP for Jarow.

Travel: Train lines blocked after vehicle strikes bridge

Three deaths linked to "low grade heroin"

Police on Teesside are still trying to trace the source of a batch of "low grade" heroin which has been linked to the deaths of three people within days of each other.

Two men aged 35 and a 27-year-old woman all died in hospital after taking the illegal drug in the Stockton area.

Cleveland Police said street dealers were passing the batch off as a higher grade version of the drug.

A spokesman said officers were working with drug support agencies to identify the suppliers.


The force spokesman added: "Obviously we don't advocate anyone should buy any type of drugs, but we are aware there are batches of particularly harmful heroin on the streets which are being peddled by dealers as a higher standard than they are."

Durham's Ben Stokes is IPL's most expensive foreign player

BBC Sport

Durham and England all-rounder Ben Stokes has become the Indian Premier League's most expensive foreign player after Rising Pune Supergiants bought him for £1.7m.

Stokes had a base price of £240,000 (20 million rupees) but became the subject of bids from Mumbai Indians, Royal Challengers Bangalore, Delhi Daredevils and Sunrisers Hyderabad before Pune emerged successful.

His fee overtakes that of former England duo Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Flintoff, who were sold for $1.55m (£1.1m) each in 2009.

Ben Stokes

US doctors hopeful after boy's brain tumour operation

A Teesside boy who has undergone groundbreaking surgery in the United States to treat his rare brain tumour, has been discharged from hospital just 24 hours after his operation. 

Five-year-old Finley Ingles, from Middlesbrough, has up to 20 seizures a day, but after nine hours of laser surgery at a children's hospital in Houston, Texas, his doctors believe about 90% of his tumour has been destroyed.

Finley Ingles

Well-wishers raised £200,000 for the youngster to fly to Houston, which is one of the few hospitals capable of carrying out the delicate procedure.

He is due to spend the next few days recovering before returning to the UK, probably next week.

There will be more on this from Look North's Stuart Whincup, who has has been with Ingles family in Texas, tonight at 18:30.

Weather: Cloudy and mild

BBC Weather

It will be cloudy over hills today with occasional rain or drizzle and mist and fog. Eastern areas will be drier, perhaps mild with sunny intervals. 

All areas will become dry by late afternoon. Westerly winds will be strong and gusty.  

Weather info

Rape trials report due to be published

A report into how victims and witnesses at adult rape trials are supported is due to be released by Northumbria's police and crime commissioner Dame Vera Baird (pictured) later.

It is based on 30 trials which have taken place at Newcastle Crown Court over the past two years.

The trials have been observed by volunteer panelists trained to look at how complainants and witnesses are supported.

Vera Baird
Northumbria Police

The Observers Panel was asked by the commissioner to look at a number of factors in each case, including the language used by barristers and judges and whether there was any sense of the victim being tried rather than the defendant.

Dame Vera Baird is due to publish the report called Seeing is Believing later this morning.

Cyclist killed in Easington car crash

A cyclist has died in a collision with a car near Sunderland.

The man died at the scene at about 10:25 on Sunday when his bicycle and a black Jaguar car crashed in Colliery Lane, next to the junction with Murton Lane, in Easington. 

The junction

Northumbria Police are appealing for witnesses. A force spokesman said the man's next of kin were being supported by specialist officers at "this difficult time".

Paint maker to invest £112m in North East plants

The Dutch-based paint producer AkzoNobel is investing £112m in its International Paints factories in Felling in Gateshead and Ashington in Northumberland.

The company, which is Europe's largest producer of wall coverings, is best known for its Dulux brand.

Chief executive Tom Buchner said the Felling site would become a specialist in research and development, especially in the area of fire-resistant products. 

AkzoNobel, Felling

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