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Iran plane crash: Tributes to three British nationals killed

Mohammed Reza Kadkhoda Zadeh, Sam Zokaei and Saeed Tahmasebi

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Mohammed Reza Kadkhoda Zadeh, Sam Zokaei and Saeed Tahmasebi were all on board

Tributes have been paid to three British nationals who died when a Ukrainian plane crashed in Iran.

Mohammed Reza Kadkhoda Zadeh, who owned a dry cleaners, BP engineer Sam Zokaei and PhD student and engineer Saeed Tahmasebi were all on board the flight.

They were among the 176 people from seven countries who died in the crash.

Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752 crashed just after taking off from Imam Khomeini airport at 06:12 local time (02:42 GMT).

The airline said the plane underwent scheduled maintenance on Monday.

A Downing Street spokesman said the UK was “working closely with the Ukrainian authorities and the Iranian authorities” over the crash, and there was “no indication” the plane was brought down by a missile.

As well as the three Britons, the victims in the crash included 82 Iranians, 63 Canadians, 11 Ukrainians – including all of the crew, 10 Swedes, four Afghans and three Germans, Ukraine foreign affairs minister Vadym Prystaiko said.

Rescue teams have been sent to the crash site but the head of Iran’s Red Crescent told state media that it was “impossible” for anyone to have survived the crash.

Tributes were paid locally to Mr Kadkhoda Zadeh, 40, who ran a neighbourhood dry cleaners in Hassocks, West Sussex, and had a nine-year-old daughter.

Steve Edgington from the pet shop next door said he had known Mr Kadkhoda Zadeh for 14 years, and described him as a lovely, hardworking man who was good at his job and loved by staff.

Savvas Savvidis, 36, who rented a room in Mr Kadkhoda Zadeh’s home in Brighton, said he was a “super-nice person”.

“It’s so sad. Before he left we had a conversation, he told me that he spent all his life working, working really hard, and now finally he wants to start to enjoy life a bit more.”

Mr Savvidis described Mr Kadkhoda Zadeh as a humble man who loved his daughter very much.

The dry cleaners closed on Wednesday, with neighbouring businesses telling the BBC that staff were too upset to stay open.

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A sign on the window of Mr Kadkhoda Zadeh’s dry cleaners in Hassocks

Meanwhile, in a statement, BP said “with the deepest regret” that its employee Mr Zokaei, 42, from Twickenham, was among the passengers.

Mr Zokaei had been on holiday. He had worked for BP for 14 years and was based at the company’s site in Sunbury-on-Thames in Surrey.

“We are shocked and deeply saddened by this tragic loss of our friend and colleague and all of our thoughts are with his family and friends,” BP said.

A friend of Mr Zokaei, who did not wish to be named, told the BBC they were “still in shock”.

“He was a highly accomplished person. Very clever and very friendly. Always smiling and full of positive energy. He will be sorely missed.

“He was always trying new adventures. He cycled and toured Europe on bikes a few times. He also loved travelling to interesting far out places.”

Also killed was Mr Tahmasebi, 35, who worked as an engineer for Laing O’Rourke in Dartford.

Last year, Mr Tahmasebi married his Iranian partner, Niloufar Ebrahim, who was also listed as a passenger on the plane.

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Mr Tahmasebi, pictured here last Valentine’s Day, recently married his partner

“Everyone here is shocked and saddened by this very tragic news,” said Laing O’Rourke.

“Saeed was a popular and well respected engineer and will be missed by many of his colleagues. Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this most difficult time and we will do all we can to support them through it.”

‘Humble and generous’

Mr Tahmasebi – whose full name was Saeed Tahmasebi Khademasadi – was also a part-time PhD student at Imperial College London’s Centre for Systems Engineering and Innovation.

A spokeswoman for the university said: “We are deeply saddened at this tragic news. Saeed Tahmasebi Khademasadi was a brilliant engineer with a bright future.

“His contributions to systems engineering earned respect from everyone who dealt with him and will benefit society for years to come.

“He was a warm, humble and generous colleague and close friend to many in our community. Our thoughts and sincere condolences are with Saeed’s family, friends and colleagues, as well as all those affected by this tragedy.”

At Prime Minister’s Questions earlier, Boris Johnson and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn both said their thoughts were with the families of those killed.

A UK Foreign Office spokesman has said: “We are deeply saddened by the loss of life in the plane crash in Iran overnight.”

They said it was “urgently seeking confirmation” about how many British nationals were on board and would be supporting any families affected.

Melinda Simmons, British ambassador to Ukraine, said her thoughts are with those affected.

Ukraine’s state aviation service has forbidden its national airlines from using Iranian airspace from Thursday, with the restrictions in place until an investigation into the cause of the crash has concluded.

Ukraine’s embassy in Tehran and Iranian state television both initially said technical issues caused the crash.

But the embassy later removed this statement and said any comment regarding the cause of the accident prior to a commission’s inquiry was not official.

Ukraine said its entire civilian aviation fleet would be checked for airworthiness and criminal proceedings would be opened into the disaster.

The country’s president warned against “speculation or unchecked theories regarding the catastrophe” until official reports were ready.

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Flowers were laid outside the Canadian embassy in Kiev in remembrance of the 63 Canadians on board the flight

Ukrainian International Airlines said the flight disappeared from radar just a “few minutes” after take-off.

The Ukrainian national carrier said according to preliminary data there were 167 passengers and nine crew members on board but its staff were “clarifying the exact number”.

“The airline expresses its deepest condolences to the families of the victims of the air crash and will do everything possible to support the relatives of the victims,” a statement said.

The airline, which is investigating the crash, said the aircraft – a Boeing 737-800 – was built in 2016 and had its last scheduled maintenance on Monday.

There was no sign of any problems with the plane before take-off and the airline’s president said it had an “excellent, reliable crew”.

A statement from Boeing said its “heartfelt thoughts” were with all those affected following the “tragic event”.

There are several thousand Boeing 737-800s in operation around the world which have completed tens of millions of flights. They have been involved in 10 incidents, including this crash, where at least one passenger was killed, aviation safety analyst Todd Curtis told the BBC.

This is the first time a Ukraine International Airlines plane has been involved in a fatal crash.

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Norwich City 1-1 Crystal Palace: Connor Wickham scores late VAR-awarded equaliser

Connor Wickham’s strike was waved offside on the field but awarded by VAR

Crystal Palace substitute Connor Wickham scored a late equaliser awarded by video assistant referee to deny bottom side Norwich a much-needed victory at Carrow Road.

Wickham’s strike after turning in Wilfried Zaha’s cross was initially disallowed for offside, but a check by VAR showed the striker was being played on by Christoph Zimmermann’s outstretched boot.

Palace had struggled to create against a resolute Canaries defence – who remain without a clean sheet at home this season – after Todd Cantwell put the hosts in front after only four minutes.

But Norwich ultimately paid for not scoring a decisive second, having come close several times, with Emiliano Buendia drawing a fine save from Palace keeper Vicente Guaita and Kenny McLean hitting the underside of the crossbar.

A renewed Palace surged forward in search of a late winner but Norwich held firm to avoid further damage.

But the Canaries are now five points adrift at the bottom of the table following Watford’s win over Wolves earlier on Wednesday.

Zaha makes most of rare opening

‘We got our reward’ – Roy Hodgson praises Palace work ethic

Zaha was a frustrated figure for most of this game, failing to pick up the ball in space to take on his man and quickly swarmed by Norwich defenders when receiving it in a stationary position.

By cutting out his threat, Norwich seemed to have effectively prevented Palace from creating any clear chances, only for Zaha to prove his worth right at the end.

The Palace winger collected debutant Brandon Pierrick’s neat pass, stole a yard on Max Aarons and fired in an excellent cross for Wickham to convert.

Although the linesman raised his flag for offside, referee Jon Moss quickly consulted VAR, with replays showing that as the ball left Zaha’s foot, Wickham was behind the foot of Norwich’s last man Zimmermann.

After VAR had overturned a goal for Palace against Southampton on Saturday for a marginal call and following other more contentious decisions in Wednesday’s games, this was an example of the technology working efficiently and well.

A point for Palace sees them remain ninth, eight points off the top four.

Norwich needed a second

Todd Cantwell capped a fine Norwich move by sliding in the opener after only four mintues

Norwich looked to be on course for a first league win since November, and to at least keep pace with their relegation rivals, but their failure to convert chances when on top and a brief lapse in concentration mean they are now winless in eight Premier League matches.

The hosts made an ideal start, Buendia slaloming into the area after a one-two with Cantwell and firing in a shot that was deflected back into Cantwell’s path, with the 21-year-old calmly slotting under Guaita.

Palace appealed for offside and VAR was quickly consulted but Cantwell was clearly onside.

Buendia, Cantwell and striker Teemu Pukki tracked back throughout and provided enough outlet to ensure their side did not get drawn into sitting too deep for too long, even when Palace dominated possession in spells.

They were unfortunate not to score again, with McLean almost capping a sublime move but seeing his strike bounce back off the bar and Pukki failing to fashion a chance when one-on-one against Palace centre-back James Tomkins.

Despite a much stronger defensive showing, a brief lapse and a lack of clinical edge has cost Norwich a vital two points as they head in to a run of fixtures against Manchester United, relegation rivals Bournemouth and Tottenham, seven points from safety.

Man of the match – Emiliano Buendia (Norwich)

Another assist for Buendia, he also tracked back well and almost gave Norwich a second goal with a fine free-kick

‘It feels like a loss’ – manager reaction

Norwich manager Daniel Farke to BBC Sport: “I’m not sure that [Wickham was onside] when the ball left Zaha’s foot – if you can guarantee that, we accept the decision, if not, then it’s tricky. It feels tough.

“It’s difficult to score against Crystal Palace, they are so well-structured and balanced, we got the first goal but missed chances – the second goal would have decided the game.

“Conceding a equaliser so late, it feels like a loss. It will be a long road and a sensation for us to stay in this league but we won’t give up.”

Daniel Farke says Norwich’s draw with Palace ‘feels like a loss’

Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson to BBC Sport: “It was very close [for the goal]. You think it might be offside and with the technology you see someone has stuck a foot out, leaned forward and the margins are fine.

“We took chances in the end with 4-2-4 and got our reward, the boldness of the move paid off.

“Connor Wickham has been unlucky with injuries – injury after injury, and he has not been available in my time at the club. It was nice he could play again and I am looking forward to seeing him playing on Sunday.”

Canaries keep dropping points from winning positions – match stats

  • Norwich have dropped 14 points from winning positions in the Premier League this season (all since the start of December), only West Ham have dropped more (15).
  • Connor Wickham’s equaliser for Crystal Palace was his first Premier League goal since netting against Manchester City back in November 2016.
  • No English midfielder has scored more Premier League goals than Norwich’s Todd Cantwell this season (6 – level with Dele Alli, James Maddison and Jack Grealish).
  • Norwich’s Emiliano Buendía has provided seven Premier League assists this season – only Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold (8) and Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne (12) have registered more in the competition in 2019-20.
  • At 18 years and 22 days old, substitute Brandon Pierrick became the second youngest player to feature for Crystal Palace in a Premier League game after George Ndah vs Liverpool in November 1992 (17 years and 341 days).

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London’s City Hall provides Christmas meals for homeless

Sadiq Khan hands out food

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Sadiq Khan helped serve 100 Christmas Dinners to guests at City Hall

Christmas dinners have been served to Londoners who are reliant on the city’s homelessness services.

Hairdressers and opticians were also made available at City Hall before guests were given a three-course meal.

Last year, 8,855 people were seen rough sleeping in London, an 18% increase since last year, and more than double the number in 2010.

“Events like this help bring a sense of community back in to London,” Claire, a former rough sleeper, told the BBC.

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Claire said she had been “looking forward” to the Christmas Dinner

Claire, who spent 30 years either living on the streets or in prison, said: “It’s the type of event that does matter. It forms partnerships and builds bonds.

“If it wasn’t for the support of St Mungo’s, I’d either be dead or doing what I was before.”

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Guests were treated to rendition of carols by the London International Gospel Choir

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Around 100 people who use London’s homeless services were invited to City Hall

Guests were chosen from the thousands of Londoners that currently receive assistance from services funded by City Hall and delivered by charities St Mungo’s and Thames Reach.

But Claire said services were still “hit and miss”.

“Where I live I’m still waiting for support with my mental health,” she added.

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Sadiq Khan said “it is shameful that in one of the richest cities in the world we still have the levels rough sleeping that we do”

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Guests were given a three-course Christmas Dinner

Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “St Mungo’s and Thames Reach are struggling with finances.

“Since I became mayor we’ve more than doubled the amount of money we’ve spent on rough sleeping and the size of our outreach team.

“But we’re just scratching the surface. We’ve not got the money or the resources to do much more – as it is I’m criticised for going outside my remit and my power.

“It is both heartbreaking and shameful that in one of the richest cities in the world we still have the levels rough sleeping that we do.”

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Free opticians services were put on by charity Humanity First

Last year 15,470 people were accepted as being homeless by London councils.

There were 55,000 families living in temporary accommodation, such as bed and breakfasts and hostels.

Hundreds more people are estimated to be sleeping on London’s night buses.

Petra Salva, Director of Rough Sleeper Services at St Mungo’s, said: “It’s wonderful that the Mayor has opened the doors of City Hall for this festive event.

“Christmas can be a time of mixed emotions for clients in our services and our staff work hard to support those who stay with us over the holiday period.”

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John Downey: Hyde Park bomb case hears from survivor

Hyde Park bomb aftermath

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Four Household Cavalry soldiers died in the IRA’s Hyde Park bomb attack as they rode to the Changing of Guard ceremony in Whitehall

A survivor of the Hyde Park bombing has described the explosion which killed four of his fellow soldiers.

Simon Utley was 18 years old and on his first guard duty with the Household Cavalry when the car bomb exploded on 20 July 1982.

Mr Utley was speaking during the civil action against John Downey brought by the daughter of one of those killed.

In 2014, a criminal prosecution against Mr Downey collapsed in controversial circumstances.

It did so after it emerged that Mr Downey had received an assurance from the government that he was not wanted in connection with any offence.

Mr Downey is not being represented at the civil case.

The 1982 blast killed Squadron Quartermaster Cpl Roy Bright, 36, Lt Dennis Daly, 23, Trooper Simon Tipper, 19, and L/Cpl Jeffrey Young, 19.

L/Cpl Young’s daughter, Sarah Young, is bringing a High Court action on behalf of a number of the victims’ relatives against Mr Downey.

Giving evidence in London on Wednesday, Mr Utley’s voice wavered with emotion as he told the court what happened at the time of the blast.

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Simon Utley was 18 years old and on his first guard duty with the Household Cavalry when the car bomb exploded on 20 July 1982

“I was riding along, it was my first guard so I was excited,” he said.

“I remember I was talking to the guy to my left, just asking about what I would be doing later on … and then the bomb went off.

“It was a noise that I can’t describe, but it was a painful noise because it took my eardrum out.”

Finger print evidence

Earlier on Wednesday, the court was told that fingerprint evidence links Mr Downey to the IRA car bomb used to murder four soldiers at Hyde Park in London 37 years ago.

Five prints were found on two parking tickets relating to the car on days leading up to the attack in July 1982.

However, the court heard he has denied involvement in the Hyde Park attack.

A lawyer for the relative bringing the case told the court the “fingerprint evidence is damning”.

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John Downey received an assurance he would not face prosecution

“[Mr Downey] has no answer to it,” added the lawyer.

The attack was described as “precision murder”.

A 20lb (9kg) bomb packed with nails and placed in the boot of a car was detonated by remote control as the soldiers rode past on the way to Whitehall.

The lawyer said its objective was “cold-blooded killing with vicious brutality and maximum harm – [Mr Downey] is liable for this”.

So-called “on-the-run” letters were issued as part of the Northern Ireland peace agreement in 1998.

The judge in the criminal trial ruled the letter guaranteed Mr Downey would not face trial and that to proceed was an abuse of executive power.

The civil proceedings are due to last for three days and are similar to a landmark case brought in 2009 by relatives of those killed in the 1998 Omagh bomb.

Civil cases have a much lower burden of proof than in criminal prosecutions, with a judge reaching a verdict based on the balance of probabilities.

Mr Downey is remanded in custody at Maghaberry Prison in Northern Ireland facing other charges.

The 67-year-old from Creeslough in County Donegal in the Republic of Ireland is accused of murdering Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) soldiers Alfred Johnston and James Eames in an IRA bomb attack in Enniskillen in County Fermanagh in 1972.

Who are the “on-the-runs”?

The Northern Ireland Good Friday Agreement of 1998 meant anyone convicted of paramilitary crimes was eligible for early release.

However, that did not cover those suspected of such crimes, nor did it cover people who had been charged or convicted but who had escaped from prison.

Negotiations continued after the signing of the agreement between Sinn Féin and the government over how to deal with those known as “on-the-runs”.

Sinn Féin sought a scheme that would allow escaped prisoners and those who were concerned they might be arrested to return to the UK but a formal legal solution proved difficult to establish in the face of strong unionist opposition.

Against that backdrop, the IRA had still not put its weapons beyond use and Sinn Féin needed grassroots republicans to continue supporting the peace process.

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Wolverhampton Wanderers v West Ham United

Follow live text and reaction to all Wednesday’s Premier League matches


Wolves are likely to recall defender Romain Saiss, who was banned for Sunday’s game against Sheffield United.

Ryan Bennett is again doubtful due to a groin problem, while Morgan Gibbs-White is out with an ongoing back issue.

West Ham are expected to stick with David Martin in goal following his impressive debut at Chelsea.

Jack Wilshere and Michail Antonio both face fitness tests but Issa Diop is available after suspension, while Sebastien Haller might be recalled.