Private equity predators set to snap up swathes of UK firms

They completed 889 UK transactions last year worth £87.2billion, according to accountancy firm KPMG - a fall of 26 per cent on 2019.
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Police track down pregnant woman’s Tube muggers... but CPS won’t prosecute
The incident will raise renewed concern about the failure of prosecutors to pursue cases
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Demi Lovato ‘feels full of divine wisdom not food’ as she slams diets after ‘accidentally’ losing weight
The singer said she doesn't 'restrict' herself.
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'I took my baby to hospital as a precaution - hours later he was almost dead'
Veni remains in critical care but doctors still don't know what has caused his condition
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Activist writes name and blood type on hand before joining deadly Myanmar protests
Protester says 'spirits are high' in the opposition movement despite Myanmar's deadliest day since the military coup.
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Holby City spoilers: A shock for Hanssen and desperate times for Cameron
A blast from the past.
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Hollyoaks spoilers: 18 new images reveal Mandy exposed, Cher’s rage explodes and huge secret revealed
We reveal all are Hollyoaks pictures.
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Andy Cole tips Erling Haaland to join Manchester City over rivals Manchester United
It's not just the money...
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Will Smith opens up about running for president and we wouldn’t put it past him: ‘I’ll certainly do my part’
Are the Smith family heading to the White House?
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Will Smith says he is considering running for office: ‘I will certainly do my part’
The actor says he is waiting for the office to ‘get cleaned up a little’ first
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Covid news - live: ‘Unrealistic’ to think crisis will be over by end of 2021 as France U-turns on Oxford jab
Follow the latest updates and statistics
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Budget news - live: Labour backs ‘gradual corporation tax rise’ as Rishi Sunak mocked for ‘vain’ promo video
The Labour Party has indicated it would back a "gradual rise" in corporation tax across the course of the current parliament, which is scheduled to run until 2024.
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Royal Family LIVE: Meghan Markle's High Court hearing TODAY on painful letter to father
MEGHAN MARKLE will begin her latest round of legal action today over the publication of a letter she sent to her estranged father.
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Is your best friend toxic?
Founder of The Smart Girl Tribe Scarlett V Clark said thriving friendships have a myriad of benefits, but toxic friends drain you in her new book The Smart Girls Handbook, released on March 4.
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Stephen Hendry’s coach explains remarkable rebuilding process: ‘The work he’s doing his exceptional’
'It’s not that we’ve got no expectation, I’ve got every expectation'
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Taylor Wimpey sets aside £125 million to support fire safety improvement works for leaseholders
Taylor Wimpey has set aside £125 million in funding to support fire safety improvement works for leaseholders in a number of apartments.
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Giuliani suspended from YouTube over election conspiracies again, days after returning to platform
Giuliani is facing a $2.7 billion lawsuit from a voting technology company for spreading election conspiracies
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France Changes Oxford Vaccine Guidance For Over-65s Amid Faltering Rollout
The French government has revised its stance on the Oxford University and AstraZeneca vaccine and will now offer it to people aged over-65.When the vaccine was approved for use by European Union regulators, France mandated it would only go to eligible people under 65, because it said data from trials in older age groups was limited.But speaking on Monday, health minister Olivier Véran said this decision was now being reversed. Several other EU countries including Germany are still restricting the jab to those aged under-65.The move comes as it was revealed the Oxford jab offers 60% to 73% protection against people over 70 getting symptomatic Covid, while the Pfizer vaccine gives between 57% and 61% protection. Public Health England said a single shot of either coronavirus vaccine being used in the UK is around 80% effective at preventing hospitalisation among the over-80s.The rollout of vaccines in many EU countries have been hit by delays and confused messaging about their effectiveness from political leaders.France, which has a similar population to the UK has administered around 3m first doses of vaccines compared to over 20m in Britain. It was also announced that France will retain its current measures aimed at curbing the pandemic, including a nighttime curfew, as a bare minimum for the next four to six weeks.Other measures now in force include the closure of bars, restaurants and museums, and Olivier Veran said he hoped France would not have to go beyond those measures to rein in the disease.France’s Covid death toll rose by 375 to 86,803, the seventh-highest death toll globally. This compares with a rise of 122 on Sunday and a seven-day moving average of 313.At 3.761 million, France’s tally of Covid cases is the sixth highest on the world.One jab of the Oxford University and AstraZeneca vaccine offers 76% protection against Covid-19 for up to three months, a study released on Monday has shown.The finding is a boost for Britain’s controversial decision to extend the gap between the first and second doses of the vaccine to 12 weeks.Oxford University said the findings of the pre-print paper show the jab also had a “substantial effect” on reducing transmission of the disease.Related...Europe’s Bad Week Underlines Scale Of Vaccine Rollout Nightmare
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It’s A Sin: Russell T Davies confirms smash hit series won’t return for season 2
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Every change in tomorrow's Budget so far with new funds for pubs and mortgages
Chancellor Rishi Sunak's Budget is tomorrow and features everything from the minimum wage, fuel duty and Universal Credit to £18k for coronavirus-hit firms. Here's every confirmed, rumoured and rejected change so far
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Premier League top-four race in focus as nine contenders next six games analysed
Manchester City are running away with the Premier League title but the race for the remaining top four spots is heating up, with as many as NINE clubs still in contention to be playing Champions League football next season
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Britney Spears shares rare picture of her teenage sons Sean and Jayden and they’re taller than her now
Britney called her boys 'gentlemen'.
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‘Incredible’ space hurricanes discovered swirling above the North Pole
Scientists say they have confirmed the existence of “incredible” space hurricanes in the Earth’s upper atmosphere.
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Tess Daly opens up on 'soulmate' Vernon Kay
The Strictly Come Dancing host was kept away from her hubby for more than a month as he appeared in the ITV reality show
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GMB viewers 'switch off' as Piers zooms in on Meghan's 'angry' face in photo
GMB presenter Piers, 55, drew ire after zooming in on a picture of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex driving in a car
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London coronavirus cases by borough revealed as infection rate falls below key threshold in 29 areas
Health chiefs want the whole of the capital to get below a rate of 100 before restrictions start to ease and the city appears to be on track
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Pep Guardiola warns Manchester City stars over complacency and insists dominant team can still improve
Pep Guardiola has told his Manchester City stars that they will not play if they naively believe that the Premier League title is already secured this season.
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Two thirds of young adults so addicted to their phone they struggle to sleep
Research by King's College London has found that around 39 per cent of people aged 18-30 reported symptoms such as losing control over how long they spend on their device and distress when they cannot access it
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Morrisons announces improvements coming to over 400 of its supermarkets
The retailer is the first of the big six supermarkets to take 'the plunge'
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Brexit LIVE: Ireland gloats over financial powergrab - UK firms quitting London for Dublin
IRELAND is banking on stealing London's thunder as a post-Brexit financial centre after research indicated three dozen companies have either moved some operations to Dublin, or are considering doing so.
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Pep Guardiola warns Man City players face being dropped if they think ‘job is done’
The Citizens are currently on a 20-match win streak in all competitions, with a 12-point lead at the top of the Premier League
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Neglected North where 'even McDonald's has left' demands PM delivers on promises
EXCLUSIVE: We look at the challenge facing the 'Red Wall' towns after the pandemic, speaking to people in Dewsbury in North Yorkshire and Flint in North Wales as Boris Johnson is urged to keep his election promises to the former Labour heartlands which turned to him in 2019
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Ant Middleton dropped from SAS: Who Dares Wins due to controversial ‘views and values’
Former soldier claims it was his decision to quit
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Harry and Meghan urged to delay Oprah interview out of respect for Prince Philip
One royal biographer said it would be 'heartless, thoughtless and supremely selfish' to air the interview now.
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How can architecture help rather than harm blackness?
In a new exhibition, the damaging impact architecture has often had on communities of colour is explored along with ideas of how to move forwardOne of the most defining images in the history of architecture is a 1972 photograph of frozen, mid-demolition debris clouds rising out of the crumbling remains of Minoru Yamasaki’s Pruitt-Igoe public housing complex in St Louis. This moment has been seared into our memories as the day “modern architecture died”, a phrase central to Charles Jencks and company’s ideological battle between the formal styles of “modernism” and “post-modernism”. Related: Urban clickbait? Why 'iconic architecture' is all the rage again Continue reading...
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Annual UK house prices up 6.9% in February in “surprise” increase
Average UK house prices rebounded in February, with annual price growth of 6.9% in a “surprise” rise, according to new data.
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Prince Philip spends first night in new London hospital St Bartholomew’s as he continues treatment
The Duke of Edinburgh is expected to remain in the hospital until the end of the week
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Jake Quickenden secretly split with girlfriend days before discovering pregnancy
The former Dancing On Ice star, 32, moved out of the home he shares with Sophie Church after a series of explosive rows
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Royal family are 'united in prayers' for Prince Philip, 99
Fears for Philip's health is mounting after the 99-year-old was taken by ambulance from King Edward VII's Hospital in a cloak-and-dagger operation where he was hidden from view by staff.
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Shaq Attack: O'Neal ready to rumble in tag match for AEW
Shaquille O’Neal is set to perform in his first competitive match when he teams in All Elite Wrestling with Jade Cargill in a mixed tag to take on Cody Rhodes and Red Velvet at Daily’s Place on Wednesday’s episode of “Dynamite.”
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Lady Gaga’s Dog Walker Speaks Out Following Shooting: ‘A Lot Of Healing Needs To Happen’
Lady Gaga’s dog walker has opened up about being shot when two of the singer’s three French bulldogs were stolen as he walked them last week. Ryan Fischer shared photos from his hospital bed and said “(a) lot of healing still needs to happen” but he looks forward to reuniting with the dogs.Video from the doorbell camera of a nearby home captured the moment Ryan was shot on a street just off Sunset Boulevard. It shows a white car pulling up and two men jumping out. They struggled with the dog walker before one pulled a gun and fired a single shot before fleeing with two of the dogs.Police are seeking two men over the attack and said on Monday they are still investigating. View this post on InstagramA post shared by Valley of the Dogs (@valleyofthedogs) View this post on InstagramA post shared by Valley of the Dogs (@valleyofthedogs)In his Instagram post, Ryan wrote: “While a car sped away and blood poured from my gun shot wound, an angel trotted over and laid next to me. My panicked screams calmed as I looked at her, even though it registered that the blood pooling around her tiny body was my own. “I cradled Asia as best I could, thanked her for all the incredible adventures we’d been on together, apologized that I couldn’t defend her brothers, and then resolved that I would still try to save them… and myself.”The two dogs, named Koji and Gustav, were returned unharmed on Friday evening when a woman showed up at a Los Angeles police station with them. View this post on InstagramA post shared by Lady Gaga (@ladygaga)Detectives do not believe she was involved in the robbery or shooting and did not know if she would receive the $500,000 reward Lady Gaga had offered for the dogs’ return. The singer is currently in Rome filming a movie.Mr Fischer thanked Lady Gaga for her support during the ordeal, writing: “Your babies are back and the family is whole … we did it!” READ MORE:Jack Whitehall Recalls Once Getting On The Wrong Side Of A Seriously Unimpressed Lady Gaga15 Things You Probably Never Knew About Lady Gaga's Born This Way As The Single Turns 10Lady Gaga Shares Poignant Meaning Behind Her Show-Stopping Inauguration Outfit
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BBC Newsnight: Tory peer warns anti-vaxxers could lead to being ‘locked down forever’
A CONSERVATIVE Life peer has raised concerns that those who are not sure about taking the coronavirus vaccine could force the country to lockdown "forever".
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Climate crisis to blame for at least ‘1,500 UK heatwave deaths’ since 2000, study estimates
Research produces ‘very broad estimate’ of the number of deaths from the 2003 and 2018 UK heatwaves that can be attributed to human-caused climate change
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Explained: The Alex Salmond And Nicola Sturgeon Row – And How It Could Damage The SNP
A laser focus on maintaining unity has been the essence of the SNP’s success as an election-winning force over the last decade. But as its two most high-profile figures, former first minister and SNP leader Alex Salmond and his successor Nicola Sturgeon, engage in open warfare, is this the beginning of the end for the SNP’s dominance of Scottish politics? Bitter division between the two over the Scottish government’s handling of sexual harassment complaints threatens to pull apart the SNP just weeks ahead of the Holyrood elections in May. Ahead of Nicola Sturgeon giving evidence at an inquiry on Wednesday, here is everything you need to know about the political crisis north of the border. The facts Salmond served as first minister of Scotland from 2007 to 2014, when he resigned after voters backed No in the independence referendum and Sturgeon succeeded him. The current saga started in 2018 when the Scottish government launched an investigation into two allegations of sexual harassment made by two civil servants against former Salmond. The allegations dated back to when Salmond was first minister and the government probe was allowed under rules established in the wake of the Me Too movement, which meant older complaints could be investigated.Salmond denied wrongdoing and brought legal action against the government saying the investigation was “unjust”.He won the judicial review in 2019, with Edinburgh’s court of session concluding the government had acted unlawfully during the process and ordering that it cover Salmond’s £500,000 legal fees. The decision came after the government accepted that the investigating officer had previously had contact with the complainers.Top civil servant Leslie Evans admitted the process had been “tainted by apparent bias”.At a subsequent criminal trial in 2020, Salmond faced charges of 14 sexual offence charges and was acquitted.He has alleged Sturgeon misled parliament over what she knew, and when, about the allegations, and therefore breached the ministerial code.What happened after Salmond’s criminal trial? Two inquiries were established to examine Sturgeon and the Scottish government’s handling of the investigation. The first minister referred herself for investigation under the ministerial code. James Hamilton QC is looking at whether she breached rules which govern the behaviour of ministers. There is a question mark over when she learned of the allegations and whether she misled parliament and interfered in the investigation, all of which are questions Hamilton’s inquiry must answer. Sturgeon initially told MSPs she first became aware of the allegations during a meeting with Salmond in her home on April 2, 2018.She later admitted she had had a meeting with Salmond’s former chief of staff, Geoff Aberdein, on March 29, however, when details emerged in a Sky News report. She later told MSPs she had “forgotten” this information. It is said Aberdein and Sturgeon discussed government rather than party business at her home also, which may be a further breach of the code. Sturgeon has said she should face “full scrutiny”, but has said: “I do not consider that I misled parliament – but that is of course for others to judge.”This probe carries the most risk for Sturgeon’s leadership. It is ongoing and may not report for some time. What is happening now?  The second inquiry investigating the Scottish government’s handling of the complaints is led by a Holyrood committee.A number of senior figures have appeared before MSPs in recent days, including – following a long legal wrangle over whether his written evidence would be published – Salmond himself and Sturgeon’s husband, Peter Murrell, chief executive of the SNP.During his evidence, Salmond hit out at several Scottish government figures he alleged conspired against him during the investigation. Among others, he called for Evans, the government’s permanent secretary, Peter Murrell, SNP chief executive and husband of the first minister, and Sturgeon’s chief of staff, Liz Lloyd, to resign. He claimed there was a “deliberate, prolonged, malicious and concerted effort” by these individuals to “damage my reputation, even to the extent of having me imprisoned”. Murrell has faced accusations from opposition MSPs of misleading the inquiry about his knowledge of meetings between Salmond and Sturgeon. It is also claimed he applied pressure for Salmond to face a criminal investigation.  The ex-SNP leader alleged Sturgeon had breached the ministerial code but stopped short of calling for her resignation, saying it was not for him to decide. Sturgeon is due to give evidence on Wednesday. Those around the first minister report she is feeling “bullish” and will strongly contest the claims made against her and her inner circle. What next? The personal enmity between Sturgeon and Salmond – who together formed  arguably the most successful political partnership Scottish politics has ever seen – is visceral. Before the inquiry, Sturgeon used a first minister’s questions session to accuse Salmond of a “scorched earth” attack on the country’s political institutions, while accusing her critics of sacrificing their principles on the “altar of the ego of one man”. Asked during his committee evidence if he had forgiven Sturgeon, Salmond replied “no”. His claim that Scotland’s governance is not fit for independence – “Scotland hasn’t failed, its leadership has failed” – also threatens to damage Sturgeon’s support with the independence movement. If the Hamilton Inquiry concludes that Sturgeon has broken the ministerial code, she will face pressure from within her party and opponents to stand down.Separately, if Hamilton and the committee find senior figures in the government or SNP to be at fault, others may also face pressure to resign.  Will Sturgeon have to resign? Support for Scottish independence has hit record highs (58%) in recent months, with many praising the FM’s handling of the coronavirus crisis. The Holyrood elections are due to take place in May and Sturgeon has published an 11-point roadmap to securing a second independence referendum. There are three possible outcomes to the current crisis for Sturgeon in the months ahead. Firstly, if the Hamilton Inquiry concludes that she broke ministerial code, she will come under intense pressure to resign. It is not yet known if she would resist. If she goes, a successor will have to be found and the Scottish Tories have already begun moves to oust deputy first minister John Swinney, who is separately under attack over what legal advice was withheld from the committee. Secondly, if Hamilton finds no evidence of a rule breach, the Holyrood committee may still criticise senior figures in the government and SNP. In this scenario, allies of Sturgeon, such as Murrell, Lloyd or Evans may be forced to leave their posts. The first minister’s authority would suffer a serious blow as a result. Finally, both Hamilton and the committee could back the Scottish government and FM. In this situation Sturgeon would likely stay in post for the May elections, which, despite the deep divisions, the SNP remain on course to win handsomely. Sturgeon’s internal critics want the party to ramp up demands for a second referendum and dislike her step-by-step approach. They fear this outcome allows the FM, who has sought to make the case for independence alongside other policy issues, to say the public supports her leadership. Whatever happens, it seems unlikely that Sturgeon and her inner circle will survive the crisis completely unscathed, especially as the judicial review, which saw Salmond awarded some £512,000 in costs, has already found the government to be at fault. What does it mean for the SNP and independence? It remains to be seen whether the inquiries will get cut-through with voters but this internecine war will undoubtedly change the SNP. The party’s factionalism has been kept in one tent for the past decade.But those wars look set to burst into the open, for example those between the “gradualists”, who favour more devolution and a slow path to independence, and the “fundamentalists”, who say the SNP must always defend and support its central policy for it to be seen as credible. Factionalism has torn apart Labour and the Conservative Party in recent years. Salmond could return to politics as part of a rival pro-independence party. What his next move will be is not clear. Sturgeon has already moved against his allies in the SNP, however, with a shake-up of the Westminster team, which saw Joanna Cherry, Kenny MacAskill and Angus MacNeil removed from Ian Blackford’s frontbench.While other policy issues, such as how the SNP should advocate for trans rights, were said to be behind the decision, all three had defended Salmond. Despite huge support in the polls, frustration with Sturgeon’s approach is also building as the party’s grassroots think Boris Johnson will always say no to requests for a second referendum. One party source told HuffPost UK: “Nicola is a very orthodox politician who is never going to take a risk. “The people who do the groundwork delivering the leaflets are getting very impatient and they are asking: ‘If not now, when’.” Activists believe “we should be using this election in May to basically secure a mandate to enter into independence negotiations”, they added, saying the 11-point plan was “about smoke and mirrors”.  “The raison d’etre of the SNP is to achieve independence. If we can’t deliver that then naturally people will be looking to see who can,” they said. But allies of Sturgeon say the Scottish government must be trusted to deliver, and point to her stewardship of the country during the pandemic. They also underline the polls. The latest, by Ipsos Mori, predicts that the SNP will win 72 of the 129 seats in Holyrood, nine more than they have now. It would give the party an outright majority of 15.The poll also said the Tories are expected to fall to 26 seats, while Scottish Labour dropped to 17. The Lib Dems and pro-independence Greens were also forecast to make gains. Though other parties are struggling to make gains, independence advocates fear low turnout amid the division can be used to reject calls for a new vote. All of which means that how Sturgeon handles the next few months will be critical for politics north of the border.  Related...Local Elections To Go Ahead In May But Voters Must Bring Their Own PenNicola Sturgeon Backs 'Managed Quarantine' For All Arrivals To ScotlandYoung Scottish Indy Backers Have Only Known Tory 'Brexit Chaos', Says Anas Sarwar
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Andy Murray: ‘I feel like I’m playing for my career each time I step on court’
Andy Murray has said he feels like he’s “playing for his career” every time he steps on court following a hard-fought 2-6, 7-6, 6-3 victory over Robin Haase at the Rotterdam Open.
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John Humphrys slams Meghan Markle for 'wanting to be a royal without the duties'
Mastermind host John Humphrys took aim at the Duchess of Sussex in an opinion piece in which he questioned the validity of the monarchy
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WWE Raw results, grades: Bobby Lashley decimates The Miz to win WWE Championship
A mixed bag for the red brands will some real highs.
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1million households owed energy refunds after 18 suppliers break switching rules
The energy watchdog has ordered 18 gas and electricity suppliers to pay £10.4million in compensation for failures to protect customer tariff prices when they switched firms or deals
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