News in brief

The latest news stories from around the UK

Lloyds boss warns of ‘weak economy’

The boss of Lloyds Banking Group left taxpayers wondering when they will get their money back yesterday as he warned the state-backed lender would be squeezed further in 2012.

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After unveiling a £3.5 billion loss for 2011, chief executive Antonio Horta-Osorio said the part-nationalised lender would come under pressure this year as a weak economy, heavier regulation and political interference rocked the sector.

But the Portuguese banker, who recently waived his annual bonus after an extended period of sick leave, said the bank was “in a significantly stronger position than it was 12 months ago” and would offset lower income with additional savings.

The 41 per cent state-owned bank saw shares slide 2 per cent to 35.73p – a little over half the 63p price tag paid by the UK government for its stake in the throes of the financial crisis.

Riot blaze victim speaks out

The owner of a family-run furniture shop yesterday said parts of him “had died” after a blaze razed the business to the ground during the riots last summer.

Maurice Reeves was speaking outside the Old Bailey after Gordon Thompson, 33, admitted starting the fire that destroyed the 144-year-old House of Reeves.

Images of the inferno that ripped through the shop in Croydon, south London, were some of the most dramatic from last year’s unrest. Speaking outside court, Mr Reeves said: “It’s difficult to describe because it’s been such a traumatic time for us. The building’s been there all my life. I worked in there every day. When I go to work now the building’s not there.”

Thompson’s trial for starting started at the Old Bailey earlier this week, but he decided to admit certain charges.

£5bn development for Battersea

One of the UK’s most striking buildings is to be offered for sale on the open market for the first time in its history.

Battersea Power Station in south London has been vacant since being decommissioned in 1983.

Planning permission for a £5 billion development including homes, offices, a hotel, retail and leisure facilities was secured for the site from Wandsworth Council last year.

The scheme includes a £200 million contribution towards connecting the power station to the Tube network by extending the Northern line from Kennington.

It would also mean the creation of 25,000 jobs – 15,000 of them within the power station building – and the construction of 16,000 homes. The proposals were put forward by former owner Treasury Holdings.

Estate agents acting for the property, Knight Frank, expects to receive final bids in the autumn.

Extradition branded a disgrace by Tappin

Retired Kent businessman Christopher Tappin described the treatment of his case as a “disgrace” when he arrived at Heathrow police station to be handed over to US marshals and taken to America to face arms dealing charges.

Mr Tappin, who fought a two-year battle against extradition, faces up to 35 years in jail if convicted of conspiring to sell components for Iranian missiles.

He is the latest UK citizen to fight and lose an extradition battle with the US and his case increases pressure on David Cameron’s government to review the arrangements.

Arriving at the police station yesterday morning he said: “I look to Mr Cameron to look after my rights and he has failed to do so.”

Mr Tappin, who was accompanied to Heathrow by his tearful wife Elaine, said earlier that he was “philosophical” about his chances of ever returning home.

He said: “I am 65 years old now. If I was to serve 35 years then I would be 100 by the time I came back.”