Dec 18 2012 By Cheryl Mullin
HMRC phone calls cost callers £136m
THE taxman has been condemned for delays in answering phone calls that have been costing callers £136 million a year.
The National Audit Office (NAO) said 20 million calls to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) hotlines - many of which are 0845 numbers – were not picked up at all last year.
People who did get through were also waiting longer to speak to an adviser – an average of 282 seconds compared with 107 seconds in 2009/10. In the first quarter of this year, some 6.5 million people were left holding on for longer than 10 minutes.
IPCC probes officer’s ‘pleb’ claim
A POLICE watchdog is investigating the “validity” of an arrested police officer’s claim to an MP to have witnessed a foul-mouthed tirade by ex-Cabinet minister Andrew Mitchell, it said.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has decided to supervise part of a Scotland Yard probe into claims the officer “independently witnessed” the Downing Street incident.
It was called in after a Diplomatic Protection Squad member was arrested at the weekend – and suspended from duty – on suspicion of misconduct in public office.
Massacre town begins burying dead
A TOWN has begun burying its dead, laying to rest the first of the 20 children killed in the Connecticut school massacre.
Two undertakers in Newtown filled with mourners for six-year-olds Noah Pozner, whose twin sister survived the rampage, and Jack Pinto, who loved the New York Giants football team.
The gunman also killed six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary, and his mother in her home, before committing suicide.
Gun lobby moved to seek change
PROMINENT gun rights advocates in the US government are now calling for a national discussion about curbing gun violence – signalling that the Connecticut primary school massacre could be a tipping point in a debate dormant for years.
White House officials said President Barack Obama would make preventing gun violence a second-term policy priority, but it was unclear what he would pursue or how and aides said stricter gun laws would be only part of any effort.
The President met Vice President Joe Biden and a handful of Cabinet members yesterday, including Attorney General Eric Holder, Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, to begin discussions on ways the country should respond to the Newtown shootings.
Queen to take seat at Cabinet table
THE Queen will become the first monarch for at least a century to attend Cabinet today when she takes a seat beside Prime Minister David Cameron at the famous Number 10 table.
Arranged to mark her Diamond Jubilee, she will be presented with a gift paid for through contributions by each Secretary of State.
But although she is expected only to observe the discussions and not contribute to the debate, the move has been criticised by a constitutional expert.