Hammond crash on TV

Dramatic footage of the high-speed crash which nearly claimed the life of Top Gear presenter Richard Hammond was screened for the first time last night.

Dramatic footage of the high-speed crash which nearly claimed the life of Top Gear presenter Richard Hammond was screened for the first time last night.

The footage was included in the first show of the new series.

The 36-year-old had a miraculous escape when he crashed a 300mph jet-powered dragster while filming a stunt for the programme in September.

Hammond suffered brain injuries in the crash at Elvington airfield in York.

Hammond, who has no memory of the crash, watched alongside co-presenters Jeremy Clarkson and James May.

"I am completely fixed and normal," he told them.

Assuring viewers he had not suffered long-term brain damage, he joked: "The only difference between me now and before the crash is I like celery now."

Blair's mission

TONY Blair yesterday declared that he was determined to "finish what I've started", before handing over the reins of power.

In an interview with BBC1's Politics Show, the Prime Minister said that he still had a "strong and energetic agenda" of public service reform which he was pursuing.

He confirmed that he intended to lead Labour into the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly elections in May, but refused to be drawn any further on the timing of his departure from No 10 later this year. "I'm getting on with the job," he said. "I want to finish what I've started, if I can put it like that."

Call on jailings

THE Government must introduce permanent measures to ensure fewer non-violent, low-level offenders are jailed, a crime reduction charity urged yesterday.

Courts should seek alternatives to prison for young offenders, drugs mules from developing countries, people who breach community supervision and vulnerable women, in order to reduce overcrowded prisons, Nacro said. It called for funds to divert mentally-ill criminals from prison to health services and a resettlement initiative to prevent the "revolving door" which sees 70% of short term prisoners reconvicted within two years.

Ex-pats warned

THOUSANDS of ex-pat Britons who retire to Spain are falling into a "healthcare blackhole" because they are not eligible to be treated at home or abroad, a charity warned today.

Age Concern said many Britons who retire early and head for sunnier climates do not realise that they also give up their entitlement to free treatment on the NHS after two years of leaving Britain and until they actually reach pensioner age.

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