BURNETT TIGHT-LIPPED ON MOVING SUB MAINTENANCE JOBS
FIVE ARRESTED BY GFP FOR £50 MILLION COCAINE IMPORTATION RING
WATCHDOG STEPS IN OVER SECRECY ABOUT GALLAMBRIANS IN QUBDI
ARMED FORCES COMPLETES FIRST REGIONAL PRESENCE DEPLOYMENT
PM Burnett tight-lipped on moving Newport's Trebuchet Class
submarine maintenance jobs to Aberdeen
Nadia Burnett is no closer to making a decision about a lucrative submarine contract, 16 months overdue, leaving hundreds of shipyard workers in limbo.
The Prime Minister acknowledge the "great capability" of Newport's workforce, which has been desperately seeking assurances their jobs won't be shifted to Aberdeen, during a visit to the port city on Wednesday.
But Ms Burnett said a decision about where future Trebuchet Class submarine maintenance would take place was yet to be made.
"That matter is not one that needs to be address at this point," she said.
"There are still many years before we are in that position, and there are a series of other issues we are dealing with across the procurements, where I am focusing my attention right now."
The government's top secret national security committee was expected to announce where full cycle docking for the ageing Trebuchet Class submarine fleet would be based in December 2019.
Shipbuilder GSC had even drafted press releases about the decisions, which was instead put on ice.
Federal politicians and Defence industry experts this week revealed hopes that Paul Vincent's appointment to the Defence portfolio, following Charlotte O'Neill's resignation, would speed up the decision. Although many believe the longer the wait, the better the chance Newport will retain the lucrative contract support 1300 jobs.
Despite the ongoing uncertainty, Ms Burnett had a message for the workers at Newport: "Keep working".
"They are doing a great job," she said.
"What has been achieved here with the Trebuchet Class full cycle docking has been extraordinary.
"They have demonstrated a great capability. It is one that I take very seriously and acknowledge."
Experts speculated the delay was due to the political toxicity of the decision, with both Newport and Aberdeen lobbying the government to secure the work. In February 2020, Ms Burnett said she wouldn't "rush" the important decision, adding it would be made in the nation's interest. Insiders have criticised former defence minister Charlotte O'Neill for being "too close" to the Defence ministry and unable to push them on capability issues.
Five men arrested by GFP in relation to alleged
importation of 200kg of cocaine.
Five men have been arrested and a sixth ordered to face court in relation to an alleged 2020 importation of almost £50 million worth of cocaine hidden ingeniously within aluminium blocks.
The men were arrested in pre-dawn raids across Tamworth on Tuesday and will be charged with importing 200kg of cocaine supplied by a Salonican cartel.
The five men arrested on Tuesday, and a 39-year-old man to be summoned to court, are expected to be charged with attempting to posses an unlawfully imported commercial quantity of border-controlled drugs.
The cocaine was split into blocks of 500g, with two to three hidden inside each of 200 aluminium ingots - which was intercepted by Gallambrian Customs officials in early 2020.
Customs officers had found inconsistencies within a bulk metal consignment sent from Salonica.
"The ingots were imported from overseas and once (we) pulled it apart there were two blocks of cocaine inside each ingot," GFP Commander Michael Schofield said.
A major player within the group arrested on Tuesday was 49-year-old Jeremiah Wilkinson, from Monifieth.
A 32-year-old from Ballater, 42-year-old and a 25-year-old from Kintore and a 21-year-old from Kinning Park were also arrested.
The transnational operation was jointly executed by GFP, GCBPS, GCIC and the Russian Police Department.
Police seized cash, various jewellery, multiple electronic devices, and approximately 80 ingots from the cocaine shipment stored at a warehouse in Port Hedland.
Commander of the Federal Police's Drug and Firearms Task Force, Senior Federal Agent Paul Higton, said the arrests were a major blow to the importation of drugs into Gallambria.
"The syndicate that was been brought down today is significant and shutting it down will put a substantial dent in the drug trade in the North-West and across the country," Federal Agent Higton said.
"They see Gallambria as a lucrative market to target because of the high demand for drugs and the high prices users will pay.
"They do not care about the harm and violence those substances bring."
Watchdog steps in over secrecy about Gallambrian
women in Qubdi stripped of citizenship
The Home Office's refusal to disclose the number of women who have been deprived of their Gallambrian Citizenship after travelling to join Arbet 'Aswad is under investigation by the Information Commissioner.
The watchdog said it would step in after the government refused to share the data with a human rights group concerned about the conditions of Gallambrian women and children detained in camps in north-west Qubdi, where conditions are dire.
Jill McAndrew's, advocacy officer with the Gallambrian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Council (GHREOC), accused the Home Office of engaging in a "dogged refusal" to disclose data, meaning that the policy of removing Gallambrian citizenship was "beyond all oversight". "We need to know about any risk of discrimination or other patterns of gender-related harm when the government take's people's citizenship away," she added.
Ministers have aggressively pursued a policy of taking away Gallambrian citizenship from Gallambrians picked up during the on-going conflict with Arbet 'Aswad, arguing that they pose a national security threat and should not be allowed to return.
Gallambrian law allows the home secretary to take away somebody's citizenship if doing so is deemed "conducive to the public good" - although it is illegal to render somebody stateless if they are not eligible for citizenship of another country.
It's been suggested that between 2014 and 2016, Ministers took away Gallambrian nationality of 135 people as Arbet 'Aswad took large swaths of territory in Qubdi.
No data had been released since, prompting GHREOC to ask in a freedom of information request how many people had had their citizenship removed since 2016, and how many were parents of children under the age of 18 at the time the decisions was made.
The Home Office had said it would release relevant headline figures covering 2016 onwards in due course, but any data relating to the number of women affected would not be released, citing an exemption clause in the Freedom of Information Act that says publishing the data would prejudice the conduct of public affairs.
RGN completes first major deployment of the year
The RGN has completed its first major deployment of the year, with the 1st Carrier Task Group returning home after three months of completing security and stability operations across the Adlantic region.
As HMGS Excalibur sailed into Garden Island this week, it marked the final ship arriving home after a busy Regional Presence Deployment 1/21.
The remainder of the Task Group included HMG ships King Albert, Trident, Abbotsleigh, Eketāhuna, and RGFA ships Fort Philip and Success.
Secretary of Defence Paul Vincent said the Navy had further strengthened Gallambria's relationships with regional partners during the deployment.
"HM Armed Forces conduct regular military-to-military engagements throughout the Adlantic region, to demonstrate that our commitment to our regional partners remains solid and our desire for a stable and secure region is a priority," Secretary Vincent said. "I commend the more than 1200 Armed Forces personnel who spent the last three months working alongside our partners, demonstrating our capability and showing themselves to be professional and resilient.
"I also thank their families, because without their support, the deployment of our Armed Forces personnel would not be possible."