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Rishi Sunak is expected to continue championing his controversial plans to revive National Service by urging employers to prioritise job applicants who have served time in the military.

The prime minister said all 18-year-olds would be made to undertake a form of “mandatory” National Service if the Conservatives are re-elected on 4 July.

Despite growing criticism of the plans – which Tories estimate would cost £2.5bn a year by the end of the decade – the Financial Times reports the prime minister is set to double down.

Mr Sunak said one way to “get the most out of National Service” would be to encourage bosses to “consider those who complete the armed forces placement during job applications”, the paper reports.

Critics from across the political divide have dismissed the plan as unserious, while leading military figures are sceptical over how it would work.

But Mr Sunak will hope his pledge could boost his bid to narrow a yawning gap in the polls between the Tories and Labour as campaigning enters the first full week.

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Is National Service a good idea?

Security will also be the focus of the day for Labour, with Sir Keir Starmer expected to say in a keynote speech “economic security, border security, and national security” will form the “bedrock” of the party manifesto.

“The very foundation of any good government is economic security, border security, and national security,” the Labour leader is expected to say.

“This is the foundation, the bedrock that our manifesto and our first steps will be built upon.”

Read more:
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National Service pledge derided as ‘deeply cynical’ by defence insider

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Acknowledging some voters may be unsure of Labour’s credentials around national security, he is expected to say: “Whatever the polls say, I know there are countless people who haven’t decided how they’ll vote in this election.

“They’re fed up with the failure, chaos and division of the ­Tories but they still have questions about us.

“Has Labour changed enough? Do I trust them with my money, our borders and our security?

“My answer is yes you can – because I have changed this party. Permanently. This has been my driving mission since day one.”

Sir Keir Starmer during a visit to Tapa Military Base in Estonia, where British armed forces are deployed as part of NATO commitments. Pic: PA
Voters can trust Labour on security matters, Starmer says. Pic: PA

According to The Times, Labour would bring together MI5, police and Whitehall departments to carry out a 100-day review of all the threats that Britain faces, including from Russia and Iran, if it wins the election.

Campaigning for the election is expected to ramp up in the coming week.

Sir Ed Davey will be north of the border launching the Scottish Liberal Democrat campaign with Scottish leader Alex Cole-Hamilton.

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Jay Slater: ‘Living nightmare’ hunt for missing British teenager on Tenerife enters sixth day




Jay Slater: 'Living nightmare' hunt for missing British teenager on Tenerife continues

Helicopters, rescue dogs and drones have continued to scour the holiday island of Tenerife for a missing British teenager as concerned family and friends endure a “living nightmare”.

The hunt for 19-year-old Jay Slater from Oswaldtwistle, near Blackburn in Lancashire, is now in its sixth day.

Lancashire Constabulary said that while the case “falls outside the jurisdiction of UK policing”, it has offered to support Spanish police “if they need any additional resources”.

The force added: “They have confirmed that at this time they are satisfied that they have the resources they need, but that offer remains open and they will contact us should that position change.”

Jay Slater. Pic: Lucy Law
Jay Slater. Pic: Lucy Law

The apprentice bricklayer was holidaying with friends on Tenerife before he disappeared on Monday.

He was last heard from when he called a friend to say he was setting off on an 11-hour walk to get home, after he missed his bus.

Emergency workers near the village of Masca, Tenerife.
Pic: PA
Pic: PA

Ofelia Medina Hernandez, who was the last person to see Mr Slater, told Sky News: “I saw the boy in the morning, at around 8am.

“He asked twice what time the bus came.

“I told him ‘at 10 o’clock’.

“He came back and asked me again, and I told him again – at 10 o’clock.

“After that, he walked off and I didn’t see him anymore.

“Later, I went in my car, and I saw him – he was walking fast.

“But I didn’t see him again after that.”

Her account came as photographs showed the property where he was last seen in the northwestern mountain village of Masca after attending the NRG music festival.

Pic: PA

Pic: PA
Pic: PA

‘We are drained beyond words’

In a post on the Facebook page Jay Slater Missing, the administrator of the group Rachel Louise Harg said family and friends were “drained beyond words”.

She said: “There isn’t an update for anyone unfortunately.

“Struggling to find words at this time but all I can say is we are looking still and everyone is doing all they can.

“We are drained beyond words – I just can’t say no more, I wish I could.

“I wish this would end now, this living nightmare.

“Searches are ongoing and we remain positive.

“Thanks to you all supporting and helping we can’t thank you any more, much love.”

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Focus on unusual details will only grow

Shingi Mararike

Shingi Mararike

North of England correspondent


In the mountains on the outskirts of northern Tenerife, a narrow road winds upwards, with a dramatic view of the sea below.

Beneath the beauty of the scenery, parts of the area where British teenager Jay Slater was last located are barren and remote.

One of the properties on the route through the national park is Casa Abuela Tina, the villa Jay travelled to with two men in the early hours of Monday, before he disappeared.

Just yards away from the villa’s front door you can see the bus stop that would have taken Jay back to Los Cristianos – the part of the island he was staying in near a bustling strip full of British tourists.

The teenager was agonisingly close to being able to make his way home – and as search teams comb the mountains, that fact will surely be on their minds.

Why did Jay decide to try the 11-hour walk, and why did he go to the villa with two strangers in the first place?

As the search continues, a focus on highly unusual details of this story will only grow.

Searchers check river at bottom of ravine

On Friday, search and rescue personnel joined officers from the island’s Guardia Civil near Masca to comb an area of overgrown terrain.

Teams also paid close attention to a river called Barranco Madre del Agua at the bottom of a ravine, where emergency workers carefully picked their way through fallen dead palm trees.

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Mr Slater’s friend Lucy Law, who attended the music festival with him, said he called her at about 8.30am on Monday and told her he was “lost in the mountains, he wasn’t aware of his surroundings, he desperately needed a drink and his phone was on 1%”.

Meanwhile, members of the local community rallied together at a church service in his home town to express their hope of his safe return.

A Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office spokesman said: “We are supporting the family of a British man who has been reported missing in Spain and are in contact with the local authorities.”

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Keir Starmer attends Taylor Swift concert – and fans are quick to make puns




Keir Starmer attends Taylor Swift concert - and fans are quick to make puns

Sir Keir Starmer took a break from the campaign trail to watch Taylor Swift perform at Wembley Stadium.

The Labour leader made a “swift” pitstop for the first night of the London leg of the American pop star’s record-breaking Eras tour.

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Swift is performing three gigs in the capital this weekend – before returning to the venue in August for a further five.

Sir Keir posted a picture alongside his wife Victoria on X with the caption: “Swift campaign pitstop.”

Referring to some of Swift’s song titles, fans joined in on the puns including: “Change (Keir’s Version)” and “I Can Fix The Country (No Really I Can)”.

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Swifties flock to Wembley Stadium for Eras Tour

Others quipped that the PM hopeful was “about to ‘shake off’ 14 years of Tory chaos” and that it had been a “Cruel Summer” for his political opponent Rishi Sunak.

Sir Keir, currently 20-points ahead in the polls, has previously spoken about his love for music, naming Northern soul among his favourite genres, though he recently told The Financial Times that rapper Stormzy’s last album is “my favourite album at the moment”.

The Labour leader was not the only famous face in attendance at Swift’s concert.

The singer was supported by her NFL boyfriend Travis Kelce, while Bridgerton star Nicola Coughlan and model Cara Delevingne were reportedly among the star-studded crowd.

Read more:
In pictures: Taylor Swift’s opening Wembley show

 Taylor Swift performs her first London concert at Wembley Stadium, during the Eras Tour. Picture date: Friday June 21, 2024. Ian West/PA Wire
Taylor Swift performs her first London concert at Wembley Stadium. Pic: PA

Swift will return to the 90,000-capacity venue on Saturday evening and Sunday before moving on to mainland Europe, coming back to Wembley for another five dates in August.

Londoners have waited more than a year for the show to arrive after she kicked off her marathon string of dates in Glendale, Arizona, in March 2023.

She played three sold-out shows at Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh earlier this month, followed by three at Anfield Stadium in Liverpool and one night at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff.

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Taylor-mania has taken hold of London in recent days, with the city’s iconic Tube map redrawn to celebrate her arrival.

Swift-fever even spread to Buckingham Palace earlier on Friday where Shake It Off was played at the traditional Changing of the Guard ceremony.

It was revealed on Thursday that Swift’s fans were expected to boost the London economy by £300m as the capital hosts more Eras Tour shows than any other city in the world, with nearly 640,000 people expected to attend across the eight dates.

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‘I was sleepwalking’: Can you kill someone while you’re asleep?




'I was sleepwalking': Can you kill someone while you're asleep?

“I was sleepwalking,” a public schoolboy, wearing only his boxing shorts, was heard to say after brutally attacking two fellow students and a housemaster.

Henry Roffe-Silvester, a teacher at the exclusive boarding school, was awoken in the middle of the night by footsteps coming from the dormitory directly above.

He went to investigate, and as he opened the door to the pitch-dark room, he saw a silhouetted figure who turned and struck him on the head with a hammer.

“I stumbled backwards into the corridor,” said Mr Roffe-Silvester, during his attacker’s two-month trial. “There was a second blow – I can’t remember if it was before I stumbled back – that’s a little bit hazy for me.”

He suffered six blows to the head before managing to get the weapon off the boy he now recognised as one of his students, who “slumped down” in a squat position and was heard to say: “I was dreaming.”

When paramedics arrived at Blundell’s School in Tiverton, Devon, they found “carnage” like “a scene from a horror film” with blood over the desks, the walls and the cabin-style beds.

There was no question the boy, then 16, caused the “awful injuries” to the housemaster and two sleeping dorm-mates – both boys suffered skull fractures, as well as injuries to their ribs, spleen, a punctured lung and internal bleeding.

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Blundell's school, Tiverton, Devon
Scene was ‘like horror film’

‘Zombie apocalypse’

He told a jury at Exeter Crown Court he kept hammers by his bed for “protection” from “the zombie apocalypse” or the end of the world.

He remembered going to sleep on 8 June last year, he said, and the next thing he recalled was being in the room which was “covered in blood”.

“I knew something really bad had gone on and everyone was looking towards me,” he said.

“I didn’t remember doing anything so the only rational thing I was thinking was that I was sleepwalking.”

Prosecutors said he had armed himself with three claw hammers, then waited for his victims to fall asleep before attacking them.

But his barrister, Kerim Fuad KC, said he must have been “sleepwalking to have committed these extraordinary acts” – meaning he would be not guilty of attempted murder by reason of insanity.

The history of the sleepwalking defence

The idea that acts of violence can be committed by people who are sleepwalking isn’t new – since the 14th century, the Catholic Church recognised the idea that a sleeper shouldn’t be held responsible for killing or injuring someone.

The first English case is believed to be the Old Bailey trial of Colonel Culpeper in 1686, who was said to have shot a guardsman and his horse during a dream. He was convicted of manslaughter while insane but pardoned a few weeks later.

More incidents came to light in the Victorian era as scientists began studying the mind, among them the famous case of Simon Fraser, a known sleepwalker, from Glasgow.

Believing he was saving his family from a wild beast that had burst through the floorboards, he killed his 18-month-old son by throwing him against a wall. He was cleared but was told by the judge to sleep alone in a locked room for the rest of his life.

Jules Lowe was cleared of murdering his father. Pic: PA
Jules Lowe was cleared of murdering his father. Pic: PA

More recently, in 2005 Jules Lowe was found not guilty of murder by reason of insanity and made the subject of a hospital order after claiming he was sleepwalking when he beat his father to death at the family home in Walkden, Greater Manchester, after a drinking session.

Three years later, father-of-two Brian Thomas strangled his wife Christine while they were on holiday in west Wales, believing an intruder had broken into their campervan.

The nightmare was suggested to have been triggered by an earlier incident when they were disturbed by youths doing wheel spins in the car park.

Thomas was described as a “decent man and a devoted husband” by the judge after being cleared of murder when prosecutors dropped the case.

The sleepwalking defence is rare – according to sleep expert Dr Neil Stanley, who was not involved in the Blundell’s case, and tells Sky News it has been successfully used just 200 times in the English-speaking world.


But it has become increasingly common over last 30 years, says Dr John Rumbold, a lecturer at the Nottingham Law School, who tells Sky News there is a growing number of sleep experts and a greater awareness among lawyers.

In the past, reported cases more commonly involved violence, he says, but now around 80% to 90% of cases involve sexsomnia, an extreme variant of sleepwalking, that can cause people to engage in sexual activity while unconscious.

“Very often it’s drunk young men” who are accused of rape or other sex offences, he says. “They don’t really have any other defence and it’s fairly complex actions.”

Dr Stanley believes that some people who are guilty have successfully used the defence in the past and says there is a lack of knowledge of the subject among judges, lawyers and juries.

What is sleepwalking and how common is it?

Around 5% to 10% of the adult population are believed to be regular sleepwalkers, according to experts, with the condition more common in children, peaking between the ages of nine and 13, and typically occurs in the first 90 minutes of sleep.

“We all have the capacity to sleepwalk,” says Dr Neil Stanley, who says some people will do it just once in their lives, while for others it’s a more regular occurrence.

He explains sleepwalking happens when the parts of the brain that control movement and speech wake up.

This can be triggered by anything that disturbs, sleep, such as medication, alcohol, drugs, or “sleeping on your mate’s couch after a few bevvies”.

Sleepwalking is so common that hotel staff may get training in how to deal with a semi-naked guest wandering the corridors.

But the stereotypical perception of a zombie-like state with eyes closed and arms stretched “is a nonsense”, says Dr Stanley.

“They can appear for all intents and purposes, to be awake. But what they can’t do is they cannot interact with the environment as though they were awake,” he says.

It usually involves “doing something that if you did it at 1pm fully clothed wouldn’t be of any interest”, but the “fact that you’re doing it at 1am and you’re in your PJs is probably the thing that differentiates it”.

Dr Stanley adds: “Sleepwalkers do things that are instinctual behaviours. So, they will go to the fridge and get a pint of milk, they will go to the toilet, which, if they’re in a hotel or staying over somewhere, means they pee in the wardrobe or more tragically go over the balcony and kill themselves.

“We know that some sleepwalkers actually can drive while they are asleep. But none of these are interesting other than the fact that the person has no idea that they’re doing them.”

He says that in theory he could use his expertise to tell someone how to behave and what to say to convince a court they were a genuine sleepwalker.

‘Get out of jail free card’

Some see it as “a get out of jail free card”, he says, but he adds that “people, in their sleep, can kill, they can rape, they can assault – sexually or physically”.

Barrister Ramya Nagesh, who has written a book on sleepwalking and other automatism defences tells Sky News that just because it is being used more “that doesn’t mean that it’s being used in bad faith because you do have to have expert opinion”.

She thinks there should be a change in the law to allow a verdict of not guilty by virtue of a medical condition to encompass cases involving sleepwalking, epileptic fits and hypoglycaemia.

“Automatism is an outright acquittal – it feels a bit odd to say we’ll excuse them, but they might go off and do it again,” she says.

“They don’t deserve to go to prison and wouldn’t benefit from a hospital order, so it would give judges a bit more power.”

Blundell's school, Tiverton, Devon
Blundell’s school, Tiverton, Devon

The public schoolboy, now 17, who can’t be identified because of his age, has been found guilty of three counts of attempted murder after a jury deliberated for 40 hours and he will be sentenced in October.

His relatives told the jury there was a history of sleepwalking in the family and he said his mother had found him at the bottom of a staircase in their home around a decade ago.

A ‘textbook example’?

After the attacks, the teenager told a student he was watching horror movies, while others heard him say: “I am sorry, I was dreaming.”

At his trial, sleep forensic expert, Dr Mark Pressman, who has decades of experience in the field, has seen 20,000 patients and more than 100 cases of sleepwalking violence, was called as a witness.

He described the case in court as a “textbook example”, explaining sleepwalkers could be fearful for their lives and “respond with violence to protect themselves at a very primitive level”.

“The defendant swivelled around and attacked his housemaster without knowing who he was,” he said. He was not aware he had attacked the housemaster.”

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But another expert witness, Dr John O’Reilly, told the court he did not believe the boy was asleep as a sleepwalker does not initiate violence because it is triggered by noise or touch.

Prosecutors said he had been awake shortly before the attacks, with an examination of his iPad showing he had been listening to music on Spotify, and that he had a fascination with serial killers.

‘Lucky to still be alive’

In his room, he kept a locked stash of what other pupils described as “weapons”, including shards of broken glass, screwdrivers and multiple hammers.

Police discovered he had carried out internet searches for “rampage killers”, “school massacres”, “murder with a hammer” and “killer kills while sleeping”.

He had sent alarming messages to one of his victims in the months before the attack – including a character from the horror film Texas Chainsaw Massacre wielding a hammer.

“These violent actions were repeated again and again,” said prosecutor James Dawes KC, and there was “no other explanation for his actions other than his intention to kill them”.

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Following his conviction, senior crown prosecutor Helen Phillips said the two boys were “lucky to still be alive”.

“The boy, who had a macabre interest in murder, serial killers, and violence, showed no remorse and naïvely thought that by concocting a story about sleepwalking at the time of the attack he could evade punishment,” she added.

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