Meet Rose Garnett, the mastermind behind Britain’s best movies

The head of BBC Films is worshipped by everyone from Rachel Weisz to Steve McQueen. How did an ex-heroin addict become the biggest hitmaker in British cinema?

Once upon a time, movie moguls were cinema’s biggest mystery. Wreathed in cigar smoke and secrets, the puppet masters who ran the studios were even less knowable than the stars they made and broke.

That is no longer true. Since the fall of Harvey Weinstein, cinema’s big backstage players must be an open book. Press is now necessary – and, for most, highly desirable.

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Country diary: an old dynamite works has become a hub of biodiversity

Ardeer, Ayrshire: This semi-open expanse is now valuable open mosaic habitat, beloved by beetles and solitary bees

A red light had been spinning as we crept along the fenceline, but I hadn’t understood it was a warning until the blast went off. I jumped and screamed. We were exploring the ruins of an old explosives factory, and for a moment I thought we were done for.

Once a vast complex of sand dunes and salt marsh, the Ardeer peninsula near Irvine became a cradle of industry in the 19th century, when Alfred Nobel’s dynamite works were constructed on this remote stretch of coastline. At its height, it supported 13,000 jobs, but those days are now long gone.

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Rewritten MoD guidance could leave door open for torture

MoD document rewritten in 2018 says there is ‘presumption’ that UK will not proceed if risk of torture use by third party

The Ministry of Defence has insisted that newly emerged departmental guidance on the sharing of intelligence derived from torture with allies, remains in line with practices agreed in the aftermath of a series of scandals following the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

An MoD document discretely rewritten in November 2018 and made public on Sunday night says that UK ministers can share information obtained from third parties where there is a “serious risk” of torture “if ministers agree that the potential benefits justify accepting the risk and the legal consequences that may follow”.

In a statement, the department said that the Investigatory Powers Commissioner’s Office, which regulates government conduct in the area, was “entirely satisfied” with the MoD’s “activities and standards in this area”.

It added that “all our policy and activities in this area comply with the Cabinet Office’s consolidated guidance” on torture which was last published in November 2011, by then prime minister David Cameron in response to a series of torture and rendition scandals the decade before.

The carefully written 2011 document says that while the UK does “not participate in, solicit, encourage or condone the use of torture,” a violent practice on which it notes that there is “an absolute prohibition of … international law”.

But it also says that when Britain works with other countries where “a serious risk of torture at the hands of a third party remains, our presumption would be that we will not proceed” – therefore not completely ruling out obtaining intelligence via the illegal practice.

A year ago a group of human rights organisations, including Repreive, Redress and Amnesty International complained that the UK was recasting its guidelines in torture in secret. Writing to the then foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, the human rights groups said: “We therefore have serious concerns that the government may be seeking to amend or even water down its guidance on torture behind closed doors.”

Cameron’s government rewrote the consolidated guidance and agreed to make it public after the Guardian highlighted a series of cases in which terrorism suspects were tortured by overseas intelligence agencies while being asked questions that had been drawn up by the UK’s intelligence agencies.

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UK property register ‘needed urgently’ to stop money laundering

MPs and peers say plans for register of foreign-owned property should not be delayed

Proposals for the first register of foreign-owned property aimed at preventing “McMafia-style” money laundering should be put in practice urgently and reinforced to plug potential loopholes, the government has been told.

Draft legislation contains insufficient verification checks to deter criminals from submitting false information and could allow those exploiting trusts to circumvent controls, MPs and peers have said.

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Rail timetable changes come into effect as industry reels from annus horribilis

Operators have stepped up efforts to avert fiasco similar to 2018, the worst year on record

Rail passengers in the UK endured the worst year on record for delays and cancellations in 2018, it has emerged, as commuters brace for a new timetable change.

Rescheduling on British railways last May was the catalyst for chaos and disruption, particularly in the north-west and south-east. An estimated 4m hours were lost to passengers over the year through major delays, with 80 trains every day on average held for half an hour or more, according to the consumer group Which?.

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UK’s ‘cruel and harmful policies’ lack regard for child hunger, says NGO

Damning Human Rights Watch report accuses the government of breaching its duty

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has accused the UK government of breaching its international duty to keep people from hunger by pursuing “cruel and harmful polices” with no regard for the impact on children living in poverty.

Examining family poverty in Hull, Cambridgeshire and Oxford, it concluded that tens of thousands of families do not have enough to eat. And it revealed that schools in Oxford are the latest to have turned to food banks to feed their pupils.

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