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Britons mourned as black box fails to explain crash

France: Investigators have extracted pilots' voice recordings from the mangled 'black box' of a doomed Germanwings Airbus - but remain at a loss to explain why the aircraft flew straight into a mountain at nearly 500mph.

The discovery came as the families of three Britons killed in the French Alps plane disaster spoke of their devastating loss.

The three were among 150 people who died when Flight 9525 smashed into the sheer face of a mountain in the French Alps on Tuesday morning and include Julian Pracz-Bandres, who was seven months old.

He was travelling with his mother, Marina Bandres Lopez-Belio, a Spanish film-maker living in Manchester. Her husband Pawel Pracz said: "Marina was visiting her family in Spain for her uncle's funeral, she bought the tickets at the last moment, and decided to return to Manchester quickly as she wanted to return to her daily routine as soon as possible.

"We are devastated."

Another of the victims was Paul Andrew Bramley (28), a student from Hull who was studying hospitality and hotel management in Switzerland. His mother Carol, who lives in Majorca, had flown to Britain to meet him.

"Paul was a kind, caring and loving son. He was the best son, he was my world," she said.

Martyn Matthews (50), a father of two from Wolverhampton, was also on the flight from Barcelona to Dusseldorf, returning home after a business trip to Spain. He was manager for a German electronics firm based in the West Midlands.

His mother Iris (82) said: "This has been a terrible shock. I am numb. Martyn was a lovely family man."

A spokesman for the French air investigation bureau, the BEA, said that usable material had been extracted from the black box cockpit voice recorder found at the crash site.

He said it covered the entire flight but would not say what conversations, if any, between the pilots had been captured on the recording, nor what language they had been conducted in. The second black box has not been found.

Other victims include 72 Germans, 35 Spaniards and people from 12 other nationalities. Fourteen German teenagers and two teachers returning from a school trip, two German opera singers and three generations of one Spanish family are known to have been among the dead.

Labour and Tories trade tax pledges

Westminster: Increasing numbers of men, women and children will flee the UK to join Islamic State if more is not done to win the “hearts and minds” of those at risk of radicalisation, a group of MPs has warned.

Communication between police, schools and parents is in need of “vast improvement”, the Home Affairs Select Committee said in a report on so-called foreign fighters.

An advice service targeted at parents who wished to seek advice or expressed concerns about radicalisation should be set up, the group of MPs said.

The comments come after three British schoolgirls successfully fled to Syria to join Islamic State and after three teenage boys from Brent were stopped in Turkey as they attempted but failed to do the same.

Keith Vaz, chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, said: “Radical groups from abroad are preying on young British citizens through social media, to encourage them to travel abroad to join them.”

The committee said social media companies such as Twitter and Facebook should take action when presented with evidence that users are seeking to promote violent extremism, such as suspending accounts.

Cameron apology for blood scandal

Westminster: David Cameron has apologised on behalf of the Government to victims of the contaminated blood scandal.

The Prime Minister also confirmed £25m of funding to improve financial support for the NHS patients who were infected with hepatitis C and HIV during the 1970s and 1980s.

It comes after a comprehensive inquiry, set up by the Scottish government to investigate what went wrong, called for people who had a blood transfusion before 1991 to now be tested for hepatitis C.

The probe, chaired by Lord Penrose, found that more should have been done to screen blood and donors for hepatitis C in the early 1990s and said the collection of blood from prisoners should have been stopped earlier.

Mr Cameron said: “To each and every one of those people I would like to say sorry on behalf of the Government for something that should not have happened.”

At Prime Minster’s Questions, Mr Cameron pledged to respond to the findings of the inquiry if he is returned to No 10 at the general election.

Court delay over Knox conviction for the murder of Meredith

Italy: A decision on whether to uphold the convictions of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito for the murder of British student Meredith Kercher will be delayed until tomorrow. Italy’s highest court had been expected to reach its decision yesterday.

Ms Kercher (21), from Surrey, was sexually assaulted and stabbed to death in her bedroom in 2007 while studying in Perugia, Italy. Her flatmate Knox, a student from Seattle in the US, and Knox’s then-boyfriend Sollecito spent four years in jail for the murder but were acquitted on appeal in 2011.

Knox returned to the US before an appeal court threw out the acquittal and reinstated her and Sollecito’s guilty verdicts last year.

Church of England greets its second woman bishop

Hull: Another woman has been made a bishop by the Church of England.

The new Bishop of Hull will be the Rev Canon Alison White, currently priest-in-charge of Riding Mill in the Diocese of Newcastle, the Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu has announced.

The Archbishop said: “I am delighted to be welcoming Alison as the next Bishop of Hull.”

The Church of England’s first woman bishop was The Rev Libby Lane, who was consecrated as the eighth Bishop of Stockport at York Minster in January.

Proctor quits job in wake of sex abuse probe search

Leicestershire: Former Conservative MP Harvey Proctor has taken immediate retirement as private secretary to the Duke of Rutland.

Mr Proctor, an MP from 1979 to 1987, said his decision comes after 14 years at the 16,000-acre Belvoir Castle. Earlier this month, his home in the castle grounds was searched by police from Operation Midland investigating historic allegations of child sex abuse.

It follows allegations that boys were sexually abused by a VIP paedophile ring centred around Westminster more than 30 years ago.

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