John Smith

John Smith

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SIR KEN DODD, probably the most famous inhabitant of Knotty Ash, has passed away aged 90 after spending six weeks in hospital with a chest infection.

It was only two days before his death that he married Anne Jones, his partner for 40 years ensuring that she would become Lady Jones having been knighted in 2016.

The creator of the Diddy Men and a hugely popular comedian has been praised by fellow stars and those who knew him.

His slightly eccentric look with hair all over the place and protruding teeth made him immediately memorable and his good humour and charm, coupled with his love of tickling sticks, endeared him to people of all ages.

What surprised many was his exceptional singing voice and he had huge hits with the singles Happiness. Tears and Love is like a Violin.

Always ready with a quip and happy to entertain anyone and everyone, one of his favourite self-deprecating jokes was “My Dad knew I was going to be a comedian. When I was a baby he said, ‘Is this a joke?’”

ACCORDING to animal protection group AnimaNaturalis, during the Fallas de Valencia more than 60 bulls are tortured in a single week.

In theory this is a celebration honouring St Joseph and attracts large crowds to watch the parades, the costumes and the fireworks but part of the week includes a number of bullfights which animal activists and NGOs are totally against.

That is why, last Saturday (March 10), there was a demonstration where a large number of those opposed to bullfighting massed in the centre of the city to protest against the whole tradition.

Usually, those taking part in these regular demonstrations are dressed in underwear only and strap horns to their heads, but on this occasion all wore specially produced tee shirts and broke banderillas (decorated wooden sticks with sharpened points which are stuck into the bull) whilst being sprayed in red dye.

A statement from AnimaNaturalis said “We cannot allow Valencia to stain blood year after year. It is the shameful image that the tourists that go there take, that of a backward country with barbarian traditions. It is time to evolve towards parties without cruelty and respect for all animals.”

THE flag of the European Union which flies at different points in Gibraltar has been lowered today (Friday) and replaced by the flag of the Commonwealth.

This is to mark Commonwealth Day which will be commemorated on Monday and which is a public holiday.

It has been traditional for the Commonwealth flag to fly on that day over No 6 Convent Place, which is the seat of Government in Gibraltar. However, this year the Government decided to expand that symbolic gesture by additionally flying the Commonwealth flag at the border, Princess Caroline’s Battery, the John Mackintosh Hall and Duke of Kent House as well.

Commenting on the matter, the Deputy Chief Minister Dr Joseph Garcia said: “Hoisting the flag of the Commonwealth is a symbol of our commitment to the values and the traditions that the organisation represents.

“It is a reflection of the position that Gibraltar and the United Kingdom are leaving the European Union in 2019 and of the policy of the Government of expanding our links with the Commonwealth at the same time.”

TWO girls aged 16 and 17 have been freed by the National Police after their sister sold them for €20,000.

Both girls had, according to the police, been sexually assaulted by their Romanian father and had fled to the home of their elder sister for safety.

Once there, the sister and her husband negotiated with other local Romanian families to sell the girls for €10,000 each to be married to members of these other families.

The first girl was sold to a family local close to the sister in Zamora (Castile and Leon) and when rescued by the police was found to be ill and had received no medical treatment because the matriarch of the family didn’t think it necessary.

The second girl was sent to Valladolid - also in Castile and Leon – and when released advised the officers that she had been sexually abused by the husband of the sister who had sold them.

In total seven people were arrested for their involvement in this matter and the two girls are now being looked after in a reception centre.

Good news for two young girls just a few days before Spain celebrates International Women’s Day next Thursday (March 8).

IN an investigation that has taken almost seven months to complete, officers from the Guardia Civil have arrested an illegal arms dealer and seized a number of firearms.

Having becoming aware of a number of transactions involving illegally held firearms, a squad was formed to track down the arms dealer and the investigation concentrated on the area of Logroño in La Rioja.

The main suspect was a 52-year-old local man who it was believed had at least 20 guns obtained in Spain and more recently from the Czech Republic with authorities in that country confirming their belief that the dealer had taken delivery of at least three firearms from sources there.

In addition to the guns, the investigation revealed that the man had acquired large quantities of ammunition, as well as steel bearings of various calibres that would allow him to make the ammunition even more deadly.

Once sufficient evidence was collected officers raided two addresses in the area and discovered a horde of illegal firearms and gun making equipment.

19 pistols, three rifles, spare parts, ammunition and gun making equipment were seized alongside computer equipment and documents.

Some of the pistols recovered were originally manufactured to fire blanks but the arrested dealer had machined out the barrels to turn them into viable weapons.

SPANISH naval captain Javier Montojo Salazar fell overboard from the ocean research vessel Hesperides last Friday night.

He was part of a scientific team undertaking research in the waters and islands in the Antarctic and the vessel was close to the Spanish naval base Juan Carlos I on Livingston Island at the time of the incident.

After discovering that the captain was missing, the ship undertook a search of the area and discovered his body in the freezing waters six hours later.

According to the Spanish Ministry of Defence, his body is being taken to the port of Ushuaia in Argentina and will then be returned to Spain.

At this stage no reason for the captain’s fall has been established.

A REWARD of £10,000 (€11,000) is being offered for information leading to the arrest of a murder suspect Bradley Blundell who may be using Ibiza as a place of safety.

It comes as a teenager was cleared by a jury of killing a man outside a petrol station in Essex, England.

18-year-old Bradley Blundell is still at large, while two other teenagers have already been arrested and are on trial.

John Pordage was shot in the chest following a confrontation outside a BP petrol station in Chelmsford, in the early hours of August 5, 2017.

The 34-year-old died in hospital a short time later, despite the efforts of members of the public and emergency services.

A 16-year-old boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was arrested and charged with murder in connection with the incident. A second teenager, Saul Stanley, 18, was arrested and charged with various firearms offences also in connection with the incident. The pair stood trial at Chelmsford Crown Court on Monday January 15.

On Friday February 9, the jury found the 16-year-old was not guilty of murder or manslaughter. Stanley was found guilty of two counts of possession of a prohibited firearm, one count of possession of ammunition without a certificate and perverting the course of justice.

Detectives are still keen to trace 18-year-old Bradley Blundell in connection with the murder of John Pordage. He was last known to be living in Chelmsford, Essex. DCI Pasmore said: “We’ve received information to say he may be using Ibiza as a place to hide, although it is not known where he is at present.

We have also had information to suggest he has friends who regularly visit Ibiza. We remain determined to locate Bradley Blundell and bring him to trial. “

“We also have a European Arrest Warrant in place to facilitate his capture and there is a reward via the Crimestoppers charity for up to £10,000 for information leading to his arrest”.

To be eligible for the reward of up to £10,000, please contact the Crimestoppers charity 100 per cent anonymously. Anyone in the Balearic Islands or Spain who has information about Blundell’s whereabouts can call Crimestoppers on Freephone 900 555 111 or use the anonymous online form at 

MADRID born Javier Fernandez has become the first Spaniard to win an Olympic medal on ice when he came third in the figure skating.

This is his third Winter Olympics and although he has previously won European and World championships, this is his greatest achievement in the Olympic Games and he was incredibly close to the Japanese silver medallist, losing points for just one poor exit from a quadruple salchow.

Known as SuperJavi, his dedication took him to practise in the USA before moving to Toronto in 2011 where he participates in regular competitions there as well as training with defending Olympic champion and training partner Yuzuru Hanyu who scored gold and silver medallist Shoma Uno.

Prior to his success in Pyeongchang, the man who has been so successful in what is an ignored sport in his homeland was recognised by being awarded the Royal Order of Sports Merit by the Spanish government in 2016.

A CHINESE private equity group Orient Hontai Capital has purchased the majority shareholding in Imagina Media Audiovisual valuing the Spanish Company at €1.9 billion.

The company will still be associated with Mediapro Group a Barcelona based company which owns the rights to the distribution of matches in La Liga, the Copa del Rey and certain European League matches as well as the Italian Serie A and Formula 1 for much of Latin America.

This new relationship means that the ever growing Chinese football market will access to even more Spanish and Italian matches but also should open new avenues for Chinese produced films and TV productions.

Sports fans won’t be too interest in this takeover unless it becomes more expensive or more difficult for them to have immediate access to live matches.

AN investigation initiated by SEPRONA the Nature Protection Service of the Guardia Civil has resulted in the arrest of 11 people charged with trafficking in protected species.

The operation has been in place for one year after it was alleged that a number of primates whose sale under the CITES agreement was illegal were being offered on a selection of internet sites.

Those responsible were believed to be operating out of Alicante, Granada, Jaen and Sevilla and the SEPRONA office in Malaga City was detailed to control the operation.

In the event, officers managed to stop a number of sales and to rescue five marmosets as well as one tamarind estimated to be worth in excess of €12,500 on the black market.

Additionally, one of the accused was trying to obtain €3,000 for a pair of marmosets which he didn’t even have, so he is to be charged with attempted fraud.

When the animals were recovered and passed to a veterinary centre in Malaga and a zoo in Fuengirola, they were found to be in a poor state having been kept in unsanitary conditions but have now recovered and are settled in the APP Primadomus Foundation Center for rescue of exotic animals in Alicante.

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