The San Antonio Spurs stand atop the basketball world again. They are champions of the NBA for the fifth time after beating down the Miami Heat on Sunday, ending Miami’s two-year reign and throwing into question their future.No questions remained about which team deserved to win the best-of-seven series after San Antonio blasted the Heat for the third game in a row, 104-87. The Spurs won the series 4-1, with 22-year-old forward Kawhi Leonard being named the MVP after another stirring performance of 22 points and 10 rebounds.“(Leonard) is a great learner and he’s super competitive, has a drive to be the best that’s really uncommon in our league,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “He walks the walk. I mean, he’s there early, he’s there late. He wants more. He wants me and the coaches to push him. So I just talked to him about not being in that defer sort of stage. The hell with Tony Parker, the hell with Timmy (Duncan), the hell with Manu (Ginobili) … you play the game. You are the man.”Miami’s Dwyane Wade: “It’s like (Leonard) just played free. … He’s the future of this team.”“The first two games, he didn’t play so well,” the Heat’s LeBron James said about Leonard. “I thought he attacked more in the last three games, shot the ball extremely well.”James had less of a supporting cast than Leonard did. Wade never looked healthy. Chris Bosh was a nonfactor. And the Heat’s bench was outplayed in every facet. It turned out that the Spurs easily avenged last year’s bitter Game 6 defeat against Miami that cost them the championship.“I’ve said many times, a day didn’t go by where I didn’t think about Game 6,” Popovich said. “So I think, just in general, for the group to have the fortitude that they showed to get back to this spot, I think speaks volumes about how they’re constituted and what kind of fiber they have.”Heat coach Erik Spoelstra could not deny the Spurs’ dominance. “They played exquisite basketball this series and in particular these last three games, and they are the better team,” he said. “There’s no other way to say it.”No telling what the future holds for Miami now. Wade will not likely return to the elite status of player he once was. The rest of the roster needs refurbishing. Talk of James, Wade and Bosh making financial sacrifices to lure upcoming free agent Carmelo Anthony certainly will heat up.But those are Miami’s issues. The Spurs are to be celebrated for functioning as a team, with multiple players — lesser-known talents Boris Diaw and Patty Mills –making significant contributions. Duncan has played 18 years in the league and may consider retiring with his five titles. But Parker has a lot more left and Leonard is a mere babe who likely will get better after his standout performance on basketball’s largest stage.
2016Brice Johnson25th0 2013Reggie Bullock25th2.5 DRAFT YEARPLAYERPICK NUMBERCAREER WIN SHARES 2016David Michineau39thDNP 2016Diamond Stone40th-0.1 2014C.J. Wilcox28th0.1 2015Branden Dawson56th0 The Los Angeles Clippers are accustomed to things not going their way, but that doesn’t make this most-recent era of futility any easier to explain. Sunday’s Game 7 loss to the Utah Jazz meant the Clippers had done what seemed impossible but felt all-too-familiar: coughed up a playoff series lead. It marked an unprecedented fifth straight postseason in which the Clippers had blown a series lead before bowing out. The club has been one of the NBA’s best for more than a half decade, winning 60 percent of its games each of the past six seasons. Yet, during that span, it has somehow failed to reach the Western finals even once.There will surely be a lot of soul-searching in L.A. about whether something is rotten at the Clippers’ core. There’s a chance the early exit this time could bring about a seismic personnel shift for a team that has enjoyed more top-end continuity than any club since 2013.1According to ESPN Stats & Information Group, Chris Paul, JJ Redick, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan have logged 3,877 regular-season minutes together over the past four seasons, about 1,100 more minutes than the next-closest NBA foursome over that span.Whatever is to blame, though, has nothing to do with point guard Chris Paul.Paul’s lackluster 13-point, nine-assist performance in Game 7 — one in which he shot a dismal 6-of-19 and went scoreless in the fourth quarter — was horrible timing, yes. Yet even after Sunday’s dud, Paul averaged 25 points, 10 assists and five rebounds a game for the series while shooting 50 percent overall and 37 percent from 3-point range. Those numbers are more or less in line with the career postseason averages for Paul, who owns the fifth-best Player Efficiency Rating in NBA postseason history.Those gaudy postseason numbers are also in line with his career postseason averages and his regular-season averages. He’s this good all the time. If his greatness flies under the radar a bit, it’s likely because he excels in areas that aren’t as sexy or noticeable in today’s game. In a league that has fully embraced the 3-point shot, he was by far the NBA’s best midrange shooter this season. At a time when players are piling up assists while collecting a ton of turnovers, Paul has maintained a 4-to-1 assist to turnover ratio. And even though he plays a position where not much is expected defensively these days, his career steal percentage2According to Basketball-Reference.com, steal percentage estimates the percentage of the opponent’s possessions that end with a steal by a particular player. rivals that of John Stockton’s. Add all that together, and Paul is, somewhat shockingly, neck and neck statistically with Michael Jordan by some advanced metrics.Yet, with Sunday’s loss, Paul has now gone an NBA-record 76 postseason games without making the conference finals. The Clippers, too, have made history: No other team has won at least 60 percent of its games in six straight seasons and failed to make the conference finals, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.Paul’s critics will more than likely hold these past six postseasons against him, saying that even if he’s the key reason the Clippers have been successful for this long, he should get more blame than anyone for the team’s failure to get past the second round. And it’s certainly fair to wonder whether point-guard led clubs — especially ones led by more traditional floor generals — are generally at a disadvantage and whether that has hindered the Clippers to some extent. But this club has had plenty of other weak spots.The Clippers have leaned heavily on a pair of players who, in some ways, have been highly unreliable during the team’s stretch as a contender. Center DeAndre Jordan is a solid rim protector and ever-present lob threat, but for years, teams forced coach Doc Rivers to pull him off the court because of his lousy foul shooting.3Jordan holds the third-lowest free-throw percentage in NBA history among players with at least 1,000 career attempts. His free-throw totals dropped sharply this season, after the NBA put a rule in place that penalizes teams for intentionally fouling poor free-throw shooters away from the ball. Meanwhile, Jamal Crawford, who has won three Sixth Man of the Year awards and for years has served as a secondary ballhandler behind Paul, has one of the least efficient track records4According to effective field-goal percentage, among players who’ve taken at least 500 career postseason shot attempts. of any shooter in playoff history, a distinction that becomes even more problematic considering that he doesn’t defend or rebound very well.5This season, he logged one of the lowest total-rebounding rates in NBA history among guards 6-foot-5 or taller.The Clippers’ personnel problems rest with Rivers, who doubles as the team’s president and coach. The Clippers have been far too top-heavy for years, and Rivers arguably made the problem even worse by committing so much long-term money to Crawford, who was 36 years old when the team agreed to a three-year, $42 million deal with him. Far worse: The club has routinely gotten virtually nothing from its cheapest talent; contenders usually rely on those less-expensive players because they’re often over the salary cap and therefore unable to bring in star players via free agency.Consider the fact that since Rivers took over in 2013, the Clippers have garnered just 0.42 win shares per rookie acquired through the draft,6To cut through the confusion of picks being sent elsewhere on draft night, our draft-acquisition analysis looked at all drafted rookies since 2013 and where the players ended up before the season began, as opposed to looking solely at which team initially held their draft rights. For instance, it makes more sense to count Andrew Wiggins towards Minnesota’s player development as opposed to labeling him as a Cleveland draft pick, since Wiggins was dealt for Kevin Love before ever suiting up for the Cavs. the third-fewest in the NBA over that span, according to data pulled by Mackenzie Kraemer, a researcher with ESPN Stats & Information Group. In fact, the only draft pick that the Clippers have made since then who has produced more than 0.1 career win shares over that time is Reggie Bullock, a player they traded7For Rivers’s son Austin no less. a year and a half into his career.8In fairness, the Clippers have posted great records, so they haven’t drafted any higher than 25th. But of the 71 draftees who have produced at least 3 career win shares over this span, 24 were drafted in the No. 25 slot or later. Analysis looked at all rookies drafted since 2013 and which teams they ended up on before the start of their first season, as opposed to looking solely at which team initially held their draft rights.Doc Rivers became responsible for the team’s picks in 2014.Source: ESPN Stats & Information Group The Clippers’ draft acquisitions haven’t been great under Doc Rivers Then there are the picks that were given away like candy as the Clippers sought a starting-caliber wing player (one it still doesn’t really have). Rivers unloaded a first to get rid of Jared Dudley and then parted ways with another first-rounder when he sent Lance Stephenson packing9The team had previously given up Matt Barnes and Spencer Hawes to get Stephenson. for Jeff Green. All in all, the cycle of trades, particularly the mismanagement of them, left the Clippers without the assets necessary to trade for someone like Carmelo Anthony, who could’ve given them a spark as they began to prepare for the postseason.But still, even with all the managerial misfires and mistakes, it’s hard to believe the Clippers never managed to make the conference finals. Some of that seemingly came down to bad luck, mostly in the form of injuries. Blake Griffin got hurt this series, and last season, both Griffin and Paul suffered injuries in the same playoff game10The timing here was particularly bad. Just one day earlier, Stephen Curry’s knee injury seemed to provide an opening for the Clippers to survive a potential second-round matchup with Golden State. that would sideline them the rest of the postseason. In other instances, the Clippers simply couldn’t slam the door shut. In 2014, they blew a 13-point lead with four minutes to play that would’ve given them a 3-2 series lead over Oklahoma City. And even more notably, the Clippers blew a 3-1 series lead against Houston in 2015.Whatever the reasons, consider this: The probability that the Clippers would reach the conference finals at least once in the past six seasons, with as much regular-season success as they had, was 85 percent,11They entered the 2011-12 postseason with a 13 percent chance of reaching the conference finals and had an 18 percent chance in 2012-13, a 39 percent chance in 2013-14, a 55 percent chance in 2014-15, a 13 percent chance in 2015-16 and an 11 percent chance this season. according to FiveThirtyEight’s NBA win projection model.The question now is whether it makes sense to bring back the majority of the team’s core — including Paul, Griffin and JJ Redick — given its failures. Some organizations might have the courage to say “no” and blow things up. But when you’re the Clippers, who’ve never won anything meaningful and have the talent to potentially contend if healthy, that’s a far tougher pill to swallow than holding onto the status quo and merely hoping for the best.
Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh pleads for a call during the second overtime against Ohio State at Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio, on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016. Ohio State won, 30-27, in double overtime. (Kirthmon F. Dozier/Detroit Free Press/TNS)Two big calls and a no-call got under the skin of Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh. A pass interference call on Michigan senior safety Delano Hill resulted in a key first down for the Buckeyes on their last regulation drive that sent the game into overtime. On a fourth-and-short for OSU, redshirt junior quarterback J.T. Barrett was stopped just past the line to gain, and the spot stood as a first down upon further review.Arguably the biggest non-call came when OSU redshirt junior cornerback Gareon Conley appeared to grab Michigan sophomore wide receiver Grant Perry before the ball arrived. But, blaming the referees is rarely an excuse for losing a game, and things are no different following OSU’s thrilling 30-27 double overtime win over Michigan.“He was clearly being hooked before the ball got there,” Harbaugh said.He went on to talk about the officiating for most of his press conference. Sure, the call affected some drives and might have had something to do with the outcome, but the Wolverines put themselves into situations that were unfavorable after having the game well in hand for more than 30 minutes of play.De’Veon Smith did not have a late-game impactComing in after a monstrous performance in the game against Indiana, Michigan senior running back De’Veon Smith would have been a difference maker with a similar performance against OSU. Unfortunately for the Wolverines, Smith was far from a bruising force and gained just 60 yards on 21 carries.After averaging 6.9 yards per rush in the week prior to playing OSU, Smith was only good for 2.9 yards per carry. “I told my teammates in (the locker room) it’s truly a blessing to be in the middle of a defense that is truly one of the best defenses, if not the best defense in the nation,” OSU junior linebacker Raekwon McMillan said. If Smith had a bigger game, or if someone else contributed to the run game, this could have been a lot different. After all, Michigan State sophomore L.J. Scott ripped apart the OSU defense for 160 yards on the ground. The Wolverines, as a team, had just 91 yards with eight different players carrying the ball. Speight played well at times, but faded at othersTwo touchdowns and a 64 percent completion percentage is normally a pretty good statline. However, Michigan redshirt sophomore quarterback Wilton Speight was ineffective at moving the pocket and misread key plays, resulting in a passing game that was severely lacking in the second half.Although his overtime touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Amara Darboh kept Michigan’s hopes of victory alive, it was the misreads by Speight that led to golden opportunities for OSU. On his second interception, which came late in third quarter, Speight completely overlooked OSU sophomore linebacker Jerome Baker camping in the middle of the field, and threw it right into the outstretched arms of the former high school all-state running back.Baker nearly returned the pick for a score, and set up an eventual Barrett touchdown run.If Speight would have thrown to the guys in white rather than scarlet, OSU would most likely have been on the losing end of Saturday’s contest.Michigan folded late against the runEarly on, OSU’s offense was anemic. In the first half, redshirt freshman running back Mike Weber had just 14 yards rushing. Junior H-back Curtis Samuel had just 16, and redshirt junior J.T. Barrett had just 27 yards through two quarters, giving the team a total of 57 yards on the ground to start the game.In the second half, the three-headed beast that is OSU’s backfield — Barrett, Samuel and Weber — took the game over, wearing down Michigan and scampering in for three touchdowns in the second half. So, where did Michigan go wrong?For starters, Michigan failed to contain Barrett. Although he averaged just 4.2 yards per carry, the redshirt junior made some key reads on open holes to pick up vital yardage. The fourth-down run where he just reached the first-down line was one of those key runs. On the final play, a lack of initial penetration and the failure to break away from lead blocks helped lead Samuel into the end zone. Michigan played its heart out on Saturday, but failing to stop the run was the biggest downfall of the Wolverines in the second half.
Ohio State senior forward Shayla Cooper guards against Penn State’s forward Kaliyah Mitchell on Feb. 1 at the Schottenstein Center. Credit: Summer Cartwright | Senior Lantern ReporterThe Ohio State women’s basketball team continued its longest streak of season with its sixth straight win against Penn State on Wednesday, 87-72.OSU (20-5, 10-1 Big Ten) was lead by junior forward Kelsey Mitchell in scoring (23) and assists (5). Sophomore forward Stephanie Mavunga picked up her tenth double-double of season with 11 rebounds and points. Penn State coach Coquese Washington said OSU’s versatility makes them the best team head coach Kevin McGuff has had. “They got great guard play,” she said. “They have fantastic post play and they can throw a lot of different looks at you. They went big there, and then they can go small and quick and spread the floor.”Penn State came out in a 2-3 defense, which the Buckeyes were able to take advantage of. Throughout the first half the Buckeyes passed the ball well, allowing OSU to find their shot from the extra pass. The Buckeyes shot 53.3 percent from the field and hit 50 percent from beyond the arc in the first half. McGuff said the Buckeyes were finding the open man, which sophomore forward Sierra Calhoun capitalized on.“Sierra shot the ball extremely well,” he said. “With as much zone as we see that’s really important and our players did a good job of moving the ball and finding her. She’s an outstanding shooter and you could see that tonight.”Calhoun followed Mitchell in scoring for the Buckeyes with 17 total points, hitting five 3-pointers. Defensively, the Buckeyes opened in a uncharacteristic 2-3 zone, forcing eight turnovers in the first quarter and 18 by the end of the game.McGuff said the turnovers might’ve been related to OSU’s different defensive look.“We played a little bit more zone, I wanted to give Penn State a different look than what they probably thought we were going to do,” he said. “I thought we were effective. We were active and energetic with our zone.”In the second half, the Buckeyes kept up their offensive intensity. OSU was particularly a threat from deep and were able to pass the ball around Penn State’s defense, hitting six 3-pointers at 46.2 percent shooting from deep.Penn State was lead by sophomore guard Teniya Page with 32 points. Page was followed by senior guard Sierra Moore with 8 points and she led the Nittany Lions with eight rebounds. Ohio State will look to continue their winning streak at Wisconsin at 2 p.m. on Saturday.
Banfield came second to last, with aerospace engineer Andrew Smyth, 25, faring worse for his Jaffa Cakes and landing in last place.The bake that sealed Banfield’s fate was his Showstopper cake, which was a strawberry surprise mirror cake covered in a dark chocolate mirror glaze, complete with ganache and layers of fresh strawberries and strawberry jam.Hollywood described his genoise sponge as “too dry” while questioning his use of fresh fruit running through the middle layers, and Berry suggested he needed a “lift of cream”.Following his departure, he said the worst moment in the competition was when Hollywood said “that isn’t a Jaffa Cake” when judging his Technical bake.He said: “I was trying to keep a straight face so I didn’t give it away that it was mine.”I’ve always enjoyed baking and at church I do regular baking demonstrations. I won’t show the congregation how to make a Jaffa Cake, I am not going to repeat that experience – I’ll buy them a pack instead.”Banfield took part in the popular BBC One programme after his wife of 47 years encouraged him to apply.He added that he will continue to bake and do his demonstrations at church alongside his job as a pastor. Talking about his exit from the show, Hollywood said: “It’s very sad, but as I’ve just been saying to Lee now, you are one of the 12 best amateur bakers in the country. You should be very proud of yourself.”Jane Beedle, 61, was named the first Star Baker of the series, thanks to her impressive lemon and poppy seed drizzle cake, and chocolate and orange ganache-covered mirror glaze Showstopper.It was a tight competition for the accolade as 30-year-old Ghanaian-born Selasi Gbormittah also made an impression with his bakes, clinching first spot in the Technical challenge. The ratings are expected to rise by several million over the next seven days, as catch-up and on-demand viewing is taken into account, before official figures are released in a week’s time.Last year’s final, which saw Nadiya Hussain crowned as champion, was the most-watched programme of 2015, with 15 million viewers.In Wednesday night’s show, Mr Banfield, who at 67 is the oldest competitor in the seventh series of the popular BBC show, fell behind the other 11 bakers to become the first to exit the tent. He admitted he was “disappointed to be the first off” after his trio of bakes failed to impress judges Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry.The bakers were asked to create drizzle cakes for the Signature bake and Jaffa Cakes in the Technical challenge, before constructing a perfect genoise sponge with a mirror glaze for their final bakes, known as the Showstopper.Banfield struggled early on, with his sponge turning into clumps while preparing his orange and lemon drizzle cake, which he based on the Bells of St Clements.Hollywood praised the flavour of his bake, but criticised the texture as “awful”. His Jaffa Cakes in the Technical challenge were uneven and had lumps of chocolate in the middle of each one, instead of being smooth and uniform. The new series of The Great British Bake Off got off to a record-breaking start, after more than ten million viewers tuned into its launch episode.An audience of 10.4 million viewers – just under half of all those watching television between 8pm and 9pm – saw Bolton pastor Lee Banfield become the first amateur baker to leave the show.The huge audience figures make Wednesday night’s show the most-watched launch episode in the history of Bake Off, beating last year’s previous record of 9.3 million viewers. Lee Banfield with Sue Perkins, Mary Berry and Paul HollywoodCredit:Tom Graham Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.
Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. Caroline Saunders, the assistant coroner for Gloucestershire, recorded a verdict of misadventure.She said: “Anna was a 14-year-old girl who was severely obese and weighed 139kg. Despite engaging with services to weight loss, she had a tendency to overeat and gorge on food, particularly pickled eggs at night.”She lived with her grandparents and sometime during the evening after 7pm she called her grandfather, she appeared to be distressed apparently choking and collapsed.”Ambulance crews arrived at 7.20pm but had difficulties establishing an airway.”The inquest was told the day she died she had drunk a slimming shake and eaten some chicken nuggets that evening before jumping into a paddling pool.The coroner was told she then went into the kitchen and grabbed some pickled eggs, but moments later she reached out to her grandfather saying she could not breath. Despite engaging with services to weight loss, she had a tendency to overeat and gorge on food, particularly pickled eggs at nightCaroline Saunders, assistant coroner for Gloucestershire Her grandmother, Sally-Anne Sexton, heard her husband calling for help. She found Michael performing CPR and Anna collapsed on the floor, telling the inquest she did “everything I could”.Ambulance crews arrived minutes later, but paramedics struggled to find an airway because of her size, the inquest heard.Chin Withybrew, Anna’s GP, said: “She had a medical history of obesity, psoriasis, of raised levels of fat in her blood, and struggled to control her weight. She lost a bit in 2015, but had been regaining weight at the time of death.”Anna had been living with her grandparents, who were her legal guardians, in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, since 2011.The inquest heard she was in regular contact with her mother, Laura Gibbs, father Kevin Sexton and siblings. A 14-year-old girl died choking on a pickled egg hours after returning from a weight-loss club, an inquest heard.Anna Sexton weighed more than 21 stone (139kg) and had sought help after struggling with her size for years, a coroner was told.She would often go downstairs at night and “gorge” on pickled eggs without chewing them, the hearing was told.The teenager returned to her grandparents’ home on June 8 following an after-school weight loss club and later that evening ate a pickled egg. Anna Sexton would ‘gorge’ on pickled eggs without chewing them, an inquest heard. File pictureCredit:Alamy It became lodged in her throat and she collapsed before going into cardiac arrest, an inquest in Gloucester heard.Moments before collapsing in the toilet, Anna called out to her grandfather, Michael Sexton, saying she could not breath.Desperate attempts were made to resuscitate her before ambulance crews arrived and the teenager was taken to Gloucester Royal Hospital.But she suffered a cardiac arrest en route as paramedics battled to find an airway and she was pronounced dead at 8.46pm.The inquest heard she weighed 21st (139kg) and had a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 47 when she died, making her clinically obese.
Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. Lorraine Sweeney (left) and her granddaughter Erin McQuade (right) who were two of the six people killedCredit:Police Scotland Plans for a private prosecution of Harry Clarke have not been granted approval Credit:Andrew Milligan/PA Wire Harry Clarke, the driver in the Glasgow bin lorry crash, will not face a private prosecution over the tragedy which claimed six lives.In a rare legal move, relatives of three crash victims sought permission from senior judges to bring charges against the 59-year-old.It followed a controversial Crown Office decision not to prosecute Mr Clarke, who had blacked out behind the wheel on the day of the fatal crash almost two years ago. A fatal accident inquiry (FAI) heard Mr Clarke had a history of health issues but had not disclosed his medical background to his employers or the DVLA.A sheriff found Mr Clarke “repeatedly lied in order to gain and retain jobs and licences”.The Crown Office insisted there was insufficient evidence to raise criminal proceedings against Mr Clarke but the families of the victims disagreed and sought permission to prosecute him on charges of dangerous driving and causing death by dangerous driving.Lady Dorrian, Scotland’s second-highest judge, who heard the Bills for Criminal Letters with two other judges, ruled in both cases: “We do not consider that the Crown made an error of law.”She added: “It is quite difficult to conceive of circumstances in which the court would pass a bill where the Lord Advocate had examined and investigated the circumstances of the case, and concluded as a matter of informed judgment that the whole tenor and weight of the evidence did not justify prosecution.”Judges did not consider that the state of knowledge of either motorist “can reasonably be elevated to the degree necessary to be capable of establishing beyond reasonable doubt that on the day in question they drove in the face of an obvious and material danger”, she said.The families of Ms Convy and Ms Stewart expressed their disappointment over the ruling outside court.Cate Cairney, Laura’s aunt, said: “Since December 17, when Laura and Mhairi were brutally mown down by William Payne, we’ve all found ourselves locked in a most brutal horror story.”As families who had to identify their daughters, seeing them as no people ever should, we trusted the process and we trusted the law, and this law has fatally let our girls down.”Mhairi’s father Alan Convy said: “The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service from the very start nearly six years ago have done everything in their power to protect an early incorrect decision of non-prosecution, to protect the process, to protect their own self-importance and, in doing so, rather than admit they got it wrong, protected William Payne and allowed their non-prosecution of him to give a huge green light to other drivers out there who have black-outs to get on the road and to kill people and walk away.”We firmly believe that this includes people like Harry Clarke. How many more innocent daughters, parents, brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews have to die before the Crown do the right thing and send out the right message to the public?”If this ruling is the law, then the law is wrong in our eyes. It needs [to be] changed.”The Crown said it acknowledged the distress caused to the relatives by the decision not to prosecute the drivers.A spokesman said: “The Crown has an obligation to take decisions of this nature professionally and dispassionately, on the basis of the evidence.”After carefully considering all the relevant evidence, Crown Counsel concluded there was insufficient evidence in law to raise criminal proceedings.”We note that the court does not consider that the Crown erred in its assessment of these cases.”Ms Convy, 18, and Ms Stewart, 20, were walking in North Hanover Street, Glasgow, on December 17 2010 when a Range Rover apparently lost control, mounted the kerb and hit them.An FAI found the crash happened after Mr Payne suffered a “vasovagal episode” and temporarily lost consciousness.He was initially accused of causing the deaths of the students but the charges against him were later dropped. Three judges at the Appeal Court in Edinburgh ruled on Friday that the family could not launch a private prosecution against Mr Clarke.The court also rejected a similar plea for a private prosecution of motorist William Payne, lodged by the families of students Mhairi Convy and Laura Stewart, who were knocked down and killed in Glasgow in 2010.The students’ relatives voiced disappointment and said they had been “locked in a most brutal horror story” since the crash.The lorry driven by Mr Clarke went out of control in Queen Street on December 22 2014.Relatives of crash victims, Jack and Lorraine Sweeney, 68 and 69, and their granddaughter Erin McQuade, 18, brought the prosecution attempt to court.Stephenie Tait, 29, Jacqueline Morton, 51, and Gillian Ewing, 52, also died in the incident.
Policemen were quick to apprehend the knifeman who brought terror to the heart of London on Wednesday afternoon.Tourist Aaron Tsang videoed the moment the attacker was shot at by police.This video shows the moment pedestrians fled the scene as officers fired shots at the man who stabbed a police officer to death and attempted to enter Parliament.The attack, which has caused two casualties so far, saw pedestrians knocked down in a car rampage on Westminster Bridge.A minister who gave mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to the officer told the BBC that they died at the scene from stab wounds.In this video, shots police fired to stop the attacker can be heard as people flee the scene. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.
Suspicions hardened as the years passed however.“It’s quite clear at the end MI5 are convinced he was working directly with the Soviets,” Dr Dunley said.In 1960, his wife was linked by her handwriting to a KGB operation to build false identities for Russian spies. Two years later Costello was reported to have met two Soviet intelligence officers, though Dr Dunley said the details of the meetings were “sketchy and there were even some doubts over the identification of the Russian officers”.Costello died in 1964.Dr Dunley said: “The debate has continued in the open since his death and the documents released today will provide a fascinating new insight into the man, but they are unlikely to entirely satisfy either side. This story appears to be one with more to run.”Costello’s 80-year-old son said the allegations against his parents had been debunked by a 2007 book called The Sixth Man by Sir James McNeish.He told the Telegraph the latest information appeared “a rerun of the sort of stuff that was previously run against my father”.He said he had never heard of allegations against his mother before. He added: “An MI5 handwriting expert wouldn’t stand up in court anywhere.” Costello and his openly left-wing views first came to the attention of MI5 while he was studying at Cambridge in 1930s, in an era when Kim Philby and his spy ring were recruited by the Soviets.His political sympathies cost him a teaching post at Exeter University, but that did not stop him getting a job four years later with New Zealand’s Department of External Affairs as second secretary at the Legation in Moscow.Dr Richard Dunley, a records specialist at the National Archives in Kew, said Costello was reputed to have informed the New Zealand prime minister he was “a little bit left wing” only to be told: “Oh well, it won’t hurt us to have one or two communists in Moscow”.MI5 was horrified Costello had been appointed to such a sensitive post, but when they tried to raise their concerns with the Dominions Office, they had to admit the case against him was “a thin one”.Dr Dunley said the files showed Britain repeatedly tried to have Costello removed, but New Zealand said it would not fire one of its most able diplomats without evidence.Costello was eventually forced out in 1955 after it became clear Britain and America were reluctant to share intelligence while he was in post.He returned to Britain and resumed his academic career at Manchester University.Dr Dunley said the records showed MI5 had switched back and forth during three decades tracking Costello as to whether he was a foreign agent, or “simply a politically active individual”. The New Zealand born academic, soldier and diplomat never faced espionage charges, but the files show that MI5 tracked him for three decades.The documents show British spy hunters claimed he went on to be seen with known Soviet intelligence officers, while handwriting analysts had linked his wife Bella to a plot to use details of long dead children to build fake identities for KGB spies.But Costello’s son on Tuesday dismissed the material in the files, saying the case against his parents had already been debunked. The documents released today will provide a fascinating new insight into the man, but they are unlikely to entirely satisfy either sideDr Richard Dunley, National Archives To Britain’s Cold War spy hunters, he was a determined Soviet agent and possibly one of the most effective recruits of the notorious Cambridge espionage ring.To his family and defenders, he was a brilliant linguist and senior diplomat, pursued by a McCarthyite witch hunt because of his unashamed left-wing politics.Now more than 50 years after his death, historic MI5 files released to the National Archives in Kew cast new light on the controversy over the life of Desmond Patrick Costello.The files covering the 1930s onwards for the first time reveal the extent of the security services suspicions against “Paddy” Costello. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. Bella CostelloCredit:National Archives Mick Costello, a former journalist and industrial organiser for the Communist Party and now an academic at the University of Kent, said the evidence presented against his parents was “pretty thin”.His father was dogged by accusations he was a spy throughout his career and after his death was identified by the MI5 historian, Prof Christopher Andrew, based on KGB files, as one of the Soviet Union’s most important agents.
Childline Ambassador Geri Horner and Dame Esther Rantzen at the Childline offices in London Credit:Victoria Jones/PA A 17-year-old girl told counsellors: “I got forced to marry last year. I never wanted any of this.”My friends are being supportive but I can’t talk to my mum about it as she thinks he’s the best thing for me and told me that if I end the marriage, she won’t speak to me ever again. I’ve never even met him.”In 2011/12, Childline said it provided just 55 counselling sessions on forced marriage. In 2016/17, they delivered 205, up from 183 in 2015/16. There were also 6,099 visits to the Childline forced marriage page in the past year. NSPCC chief executive Peter Wanless said: “Forcing a child to marry shows a complete lack of regard for their feelings, thoughts or ambitions. We must be clear that, regardless of cultural expectations, this is a crime and an abuse of human rights.”Childline founder and president Dame Esther Rantzen added: “Young people can feel helpless because sometimes those near to them aren’t interested in their happiness or welfare.”It’s desperately important that those are frightened or feel that they have no one to turn to get in touch with Childline.”Forced marriage can carry a prison sentence of up to seven years, the group said.But they added as of December 31 last year, figures suggest there has been just one conviction in Britain.Childline can be reached on 0800 1111 and the NSPCC Helpline is 0808 800 5000.Both lines are free, confidential and open 24/7. More children than ever are calling Childline with fears over forced marriage, the NSPCC has warned. Hundreds of “frightened” and “helpless” teens as young as 13 are contacting Childline for support. The charity said it delivered 12 per cent more counselling sessions in 2016/17 than in 2015/16.It comes as the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) said some families use the long school summer holidays to pull children out of Britain and marry them off abroad to strangers.Family and community loyalties, mixed notions of honour and the film of secrecy over the taboo issue make its true scale hard to grasp, the NSPCC said.Girls added that fears of ostracism, cultural expectations and punishment for relatives acted as barriers against them speaking out. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.