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BA facing data breach claim that lawyers say could top £800m | Business News

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BA facing data breach claim that lawyers say could top £800m | Business News

British Airways could face claims totalling more than £800m in a group action over a 2018 data breach, according to a law firm.

The firm, PGMBM, says that more than 16,000 people have signed up to the claim against the carrier.

Lawyers say it is the largest group action personal data claim in UK history.

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BA 747s leave Heathrow for final time

They estimate that each of the 420,000 customers and staff whose information was leaked could be entitled to £2,000 each in compensation.

The claim relates to a data breach in September 2018 in which names, debit and credit card numbers, addresses and email addresses were leaked.

Some passengers were diverted to a fake website, which harvested their details.

British Airways was last year fined £20m over the incident, reduced from a proposed £183m penalty after the business was battered by the coronavirus crisis.

Tom Goodhead, a partner at PGMBM, said: “We trust companies like British Airways with our personal information and they have a duty to all of their customers and the public at large to take every possible step to keep it safe.

“In this instance, they presided over a monumental failure.”

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Walsh: ‘It’s going to involve pain for everybody’

British Airways said: “We continue to vigorously defend the litigation in respect of the claims brought arising out of the 2018 cyber attack.

“We do not recognise the damages figures put forward, and they have not appeared in the claims.”

In 2019 a High Court judge ruled that BA customers could go ahead with compensation claims against the airline over the data breach.

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Shake-up of further education in England to focus on needs of businesses | Business News

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Electric cars

A planned shake-up of further education and training in England will tie courses to the needs of employers in local communities, under government plans.

The Department for Education (DfE) said the Skills for Jobs White Paper, broadly welcomed by business groups, aims to put an end to the misconception that a degree is the only route to a rewarding career.

It demands that the existing links between post-16 colleges and employers are bolstered to develop tailored plans to meet local skills needs – replacing the current ‘one size fits all’ approach.

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It is hoped that further education can help drive skills to meet the UK’s climate goals and wider innovation

This would be done with support from a £65m Strategic Development Fund, the government said, alongside improved oversight to ensure training is relevant to the demands of companies.

The White Paper also plans to allow people of any age access to flexible student finance from 2025 and seeks to bolster the numbers of technical education specialists through a recruitment campaign.

However, a union for school and further education heads warned the proposals had to be backed up with some serious investment after years of “severe under-funding” of the post-16 education sector.

The plans build on Boris Johnson’s Lifetime Skills Guarantee, revealed last autumn.

A £2.5bn scheme already announced promises to give adults without an A-level or equivalent qualification the chance to take a free vocational college course.

It is due to get underway in April as the economy looks to recover from the effects of the coronavirus crisis and build a new post-Brexit future, with green energy and wider technology among the areas deemed critical.

The government’s separate Plan for Jobs has, since August last year, offered financial incentives to employers for each apprentice they take on under the age of 25 as part of the COVID fightback.

The scheme offers six-month paid work placements for 16-24 year-olds
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Young people are being encouraged to take up apprenticeships under the Plan for Jobs

But, despite the furlough scheme, it is predicted that the worst is far from over for employment prospects given continuing lockdowns and their effects on education.

The PM said of the latest announcement: “Our Lifetime Skills Guarantee means that everyone will be given the chance to get the skills they need, right from the very start of their career.

“In the years ahead, the reforms we have announced today will deliver high quality technical education across the country – and help people retrain and secure better paid jobs.”

The director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, Adam Marshall, said a partnership was crucial if good jobs were to be created.

He said: “We welcome these ambitious plans to put the skills needs of businesses at the heart of the further education system.

“As local business leaders look to rebuild their firms and communities in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, it is essential to ensure that the right skills and training provision is in place to support growth.”

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, responded: “We continue to be concerned about the severe underfunding of the post-16 sector, which plays such a vital role in delivering
the technical and vocational education that the government says it is so keen to boost, as well as academic routes which are also of the utmost importance.”

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‘Strong smell of cannabis’ near Bank of England leads to drugs factory | Business News

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'Strong smell of cannabis' near Bank of England leads to drugs factory | Business News

More than 800 plants have been seized after a tip-off about a “strong smell of cannabis” led to a raid on a building close to the Bank of England.

City of London Police said it was the first find of its kind in the financial district – currently largely deserted because of the COVID-19 crisis.

A statement said: “This is the first cannabis factory in the City, no doubt being set up in response to fewer people being out and about during the pandemic who might have noticed any unusual activity.

A total of 826 cannabis plants were found and destroyed a week ago, it added, though there was no information on exactly where the raid took place.

Two suspects were arrested.

News of the police operation drew attention from Bank of England governor, Andrew Bailey.

He told an online event hosted by the Bank on Wednesday: “We are now going to be the subject of endless jokes about now we know what the Bank of England has been on.

“I’m sure there will be many other jokes. It is very quiet around the Bank of England, I should say.”

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COVID-19: Pressure mounts on UK and France to agree on financial aid for Eurostar as it fights for survival | Business News

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Cuts to Brussels-London Eurostar trains may help, says Mr Van Ranst

Pressure is mounting on the UK and French governments to agree financial aid for Eurostar, the cross-Channel rail operator, as it fights for survival.

The company admitted late last year that the continuing COVID-19 crisis, which has forced it to slash services from a normal level of more than 50 trains a day to just four, had taken a 95% toll on its revenues.

It appealed at the time for UK government aid, arguing that it was being treated unfairly as airports had secured tax relief to help them cope with the collapse in demand for overseas travel.

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Eurostar currently runs a daily train in each direction between London and Paris and London and Amsterdam via Brussels

Eurostar is majority-owned by the French state rail firm SNCF – potentially leaving the French taxpayer most exposed to its needs for aid.

The lifeline issue is complicated by the fact that the UK government sold its stake to an Anglo-Canadian consortium in 2015.

A campaign for financial aid gathered pace in the UK this week when a letter, backed by businesses, was sent to the Treasury and Department for Transport (DfT) urging them not to threaten the UK’s economic recovery and post-Brexit future by letting Eurostar “fall between the cracks of support”.

Tory MP Huw Merriman, who chairs the Transport Select Committee, added his voice to their effort on Wednesday when he argued the cross-Channel train operator plays a vital role in enabling low-carbon international travel.

He said: “We simply cannot afford to lose Eurostar to this pandemic. The company contributes £800m each year to the UK economy.”

The Eurostar terminal at St Pancras International Station, London.
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The Eurostar terminal at St Pancras in London

Mr Merriman urged both the UK and French governments to act.

The DfT has said it has been in “engaging extensively with Eurostar on a regular basis”.

A French transport economist, Professor Yves Crozet, told the committee: “I suppose that the French government will support Eurostar, but not alone.

“We will have probably an arm wrestling between the UK and France about that.

“But clearly Eurostar is a subsidiary of SNCF, and SNCF has the majority of the capital. So clearly the money will come from France in a very important part but maybe France will ask the UK to give also some hand to the system.”

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