09/12/2013 Newsnight


The latest from the Central African Republic where there are fears of a genocide. And a look at cuts to the pay of professional witnesses in the family courts.

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An enormous country in the heart of Africa said to be on the brink of


utter chaos. As France deploys more troops to prevent a feared genocide.


What has brought the central African Republic to such a crisis. He's


going for a duck house? Just like our one? WhatTRANSMIT He's going for


a duck house? Just like our one? What? How do MPs end up with an 11%


pay rise that some are not bothered by.


As the Ukraine crackdown on protestors, what is the future. We


speak to the presidential candidate's daughter. Will your


mother be President of this country? I hope so. And with street lights we


don't get to see this, is it worth the sacrifice? Another force of


French soldiers ordered to Africa began disarming fighters today in


the central African Republic, Britain is supplying air transport.


The Central African Republic, a vast, land locked poverty-striken


mess, almost at the centre of the conflict is racked by sectarian


conflict where children are said to be particularly vulnerable. We talk


to our correspondent in the town of Bossangoa in the north of the


country. What have you seen today Today in the town the situation is a


little calmer compared to the situation we have seen over the last


few days, extremely tense, we have seen three days of fighting, during


which Christian militia, backed by former soldiers attacked Muslim


civilians here, that prompted a reaction from the mainly Muslim


groups which put the current President in power earlier this


year. This fighting, we have seen African peacekeepers fighting hard


and frankly they managed to prevent a bloodbath here in the town of


Bossangoa, they were clearly targeting civilians and now there is


a sudden relief that has come over the weekend because of the arrival


of French troops in the town. Both communities are confined to camps on


either side of the town at the moment. The French Foreign Minister


the other day talked about being on the verge of a genocide in the


Central African Republic, does it team like that to you when you are


there? It is cleared that the conflict has taken a dangerous


religious turn, and the sectarian violence is quite clear in the


region. What we have seen over the last few days was clearly that the


fighters from both sides were targeting civilians according to


their religion. Now we have seen African peace keepers being able to


contain the fighters on both sides of the town. If they hadn't been


there I can, I think that it was clear that it could have been a mass


killing in this town and a lot of civilians would have died. Now


genocide is obviously quite a strong word, I don't think that there is


any sort of attack that is so well orchestrated at the moment. It is


rather chaotic what is happening here. Organised bands of fighters --


preying on the civilians and carrying out attacks here or there,


there is no clear chain of command that is telling us that this mass


killing is clearly orchestrated at the top of their group. Thank you


very much. So how did the Central African Republic get into this


state, and what is driving the unrest? The Central African


Republic, as its name suggests lies in the heart of Africa surrounded by


countries with their own war torn countries. How did the CAR, end up


in this state with armed militias on the streets and hundreds dead. And


the old colonial power sending its troops to keep the peace. That old


colonial power, France this time, not Britain, surely bears some


responsibility. Since the CAR gained independence in 1962 it has swerved


between short lived democratic Governments and sometimes brutal


dictatorships. The regime of the self-styled Emperor and alleged


cannibal, Bocasa, in the 1970s and 80s was a particular memorable low


point in the nation's history. As in so many colonies arbitary borders


drawn on maps failed to create a unified nation state. In the absence


of national unity, people's sense of identity came instead from their


religion or their family. That has meant bitter struggles between the


Muslim minority and the Christian majority. In March this year Muslim


rebel groups, known as the Seleka, ousted the Christian President and


installed a new President. In response Christian militias were set


up, ostensibly to protect Christian communities and violence was soon


out of control. After a UN resolution was passed in October,


peacekeepers were sent in. But the violence of recent days led to calls


for extra French troops to be flown in. They have now begun to patrol


major cities and are working to disarm the militias. Joining us from


New York is the UN's assistant secretary-general for human rights.


How serious is the situation in the Central African Republic? The


situation is extremely serious, what started assort of religious division


that was deepening, in the last couple of days escalated into


interreligious violence. Our assessment is only in the capital we


had 459 casualties. What hopes do you hold out for the success of the


intervention force? Well, I'm quite optimistic, it is very good that the


number of French troops has increased, but it is also important


that the arrival of called the African-led groups is being sped up,


for example, Americans are providing for logistical help to fly in


Burundians sooner than envisaged. It is highly important to increase the


number of troops there, because no national security forces are


reliable. So first priority is to increase security and then, of


course, humanitarian access. We are speaking of our direct casualties,


but far more dangerous is that a lot of civilians are in the bush, there


is a spread of Malaria, and there is quite high rate of infant mortality


and malnutrition. People are paying a lot of attention outside the area


to what's happening there, because of this turn that was used by the


French Foreign Minister recently about being on the verge of


genocide, because everyone remembers what happened in Rwanda, does it


look like that to you? In Rwanda you had deep-rooted ethnic hostility and


history of clashes. This is what we historically did not have in Central


African Republic. However, there is clear evidence of widespread


questionably whether systematic crimes against humanity being


committed. The called Seleka are deliberately targeting civilians


that predominantly of Christian faith. While we had cases also of


called other groups attacking Muslim civilians.


The leaders of the biggest political parties in parliament have spent


much of the day running around like headless chickens, protesting at


their MPs being paid more. According to reports our politicians are in


line for an 11% pay rise. Ed Miliband has called for cross-party


talks on the issue, though this was met with a cool reception from the


Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister. The are bothered because


at that time when much of the public sector is Lucio to get more than 1%,


it is no way for any of them to bask in the affections of their voters.


Tomorrow a play based on the MPs' expenses scandal opens in London, it


is, of course, a comedy. Tell me we haven't got a duck house. We have a


duck house in the pond? The pond. Did we claim for it? I expect so?


Why have we got a duck house? Somewhere for the ducks to live?


They have somewhere to live, it is called the wild. It is a roof over


their head! . The producer says the MPs were sitting ducks! Anyone who


lives away from home is entitled to accommodation and access to an


office. It was the fact that it is the kind of thing that was claimed.


As personified finally by the title of this play, which is who needs a


duck house? In an effort to clean up after the scandal the new


independent parliamentary standards authority will recommend a new pay


and expenses package for MPs, published on Thursday. The sneak


previews, have not, it is fair to say, received rave reviews. The pay


of a backbench MP is concernedly ?66,400, on Thursday, -- Ipsa will


recommend an 11% pay rise N doing so they are cutting back allowances and


pension entitlements which will make the new package ?2. 2 million


cheaper to the taxpayer than the current one. It is right that IPSA


does scrap the resettlement grants and the gold plated pensions that


MPs enjoy. That doesn't justify increasing pay at the time, IPSA


should be doing it regardless, not trading it off to give MPs a very


big pay increase at a time when many people are struggling and private


and public sector workers haven't seen an increase. Take the Mickey


out of MPs for claiming for sparkly toilet seats or massage chairs might


make great comedy, but many MPs aren't laughing. All the party


leaders have come out against the IPSA pay rise, saying it is unTHIBL.


A lot of backbench -- unthinkable, a lot of backbenchers see that has a


betrayal. Why? Because they say it is already for the leaders, they


have a higher paid jobs, a high-earning spouse in the family


and inherited wealth to boot. The party leaders could well afford to


buy whole estates of duck houses if they fancied them. There is two


elements to it, one is paying MPs for the jobs they do. You could say


it is worth it for what they do, you can pay the salary accordingly.


There is the allied point of attracting people able to do that


very complex job. You may be seeking to attract people who have had


experience, they have held professional jobs, you want them to


come in with their experience. So for them it is taking a pay cut to


actually come into parliament. MPs' pay has slipped when compared to


average wages ever since MPs were first paid in 1911, they received


nearly six-times the average wage. The it was around 3. 1 six times the


average wage, now it is slipping back to 2. 7, bringing it back to


the average multiple over time would take pay to ?83,6460, that is far


more than IPSA is proposing. This isn't the usual House of Commons


stuff? No, this is pricier, but I thought what the hell, you know, I


kept the receipt. In the meantime the whole subject is a gift to the


gag writers, even if it is not doing much for the reputation of politics.


Cheers? Cheers, up yours. Now Walker is the MP for Broxbourne, and the


vice-chairman of the 1922 Committee of backbench Conservative MPs.


Caroline Lucas is the green MP for Brighton pavilion. Why do you


deserve a pay rise? IPSA was set up in the wake of the expenses scandal


in 2010 to take pay and expenses out of the hands of the Members of


Parliament. We were told we would never get involved in that margin.


It seems we are. I don't think Members of Parliament deserve a pay


rise, nor do I think they don't, it is up to IPSA, an independent body


making decisions on our pay. You will take? I will. Why? Because I


have not turned pay rise down in my 25-year professional career, and I


won't be holier than,000 on -- thou? Are you going to be holier than


thou? I think when people are having to take pay cuts and MPs getting an


increase of 11%, it sends out the message we are not all in this


together but deeply hip crate calm. When MPs are held in little esteem


this is the worst thing we could do. Do you think there may be something


to do in the argument if you sit in a safe seat it is easier to accept


it than sitting in a seat you might lose? There is probably some truth


about that, that is why you shouldn't have safe seats, so no MP


MP is feeling complacent we need to change the electoral system. I


walked into that? You did. You would accept they are possibly going on to


two categories of MP, a category of MP who can afford to take the money


and a category who cannot? In terms of public opinion it is wrong that


anybody should feel that they can afford to take it. We know this is


deeply unpopular outside of parliament. And quite understandably


so. This has been a running sore for 40 years, Members of Parliament have


broken links with recommended pay increases for 40 years, or the prime


ministers of the day have. I think the whole thing will unravel and Ed


Miliband calling for talk, we will be right back to square one, we have


learned nothing of the past four decades. Once again party leaders


will make a terrible, terrible mistake. You don't dispute that MPs


should be paid? No, I certainly don't dispute they should be paid,


of course they should be paid and paid a reasonable amount. Do you


think they should decide their own salaries? Ideally I believe it


should be an independent body that should do it, which is why we find


ourselves in a difficult position. My point would be is that I wouldn't


have asked the independent body to do this piece of work at a time when


we are in the biggest economic crisis for many, many decades. There


is no logic to this at all, you shouldn't be setting your own level


of pay, you say, and yet you say you should be able to determine when an


independent body can do it and when they can't? I would have thought it


is common sense at a time when you have politicians trying to tell the


rest of the population that we are in unprecedentedly difficult


economic times that we all have to tighten our belts. At that


particular time to go away and ask anybody, whether an independent body


or anybody else to come up with suggestions of pay increase for MPs,


I think is just completely mad timing. I don't think that is an


incomprehensible position to take, I think it is a logical one. The other


point made in the report is there were net savings to the Exchequer


because of changes in pensions and all the rest of it. That is a good


thing isn't it? I found myself in the unusual position of agreeing


with the Taxpayers' Alliance when the gentleman said those cuts should


be made any way not as trade-off to an increased salary. If there are


savings to be made on mention, fine let's look at that, but not the


price to pay for the increase in salaries. The overall package


reduces the cost of politics? It will increase it even more, it will


enable us to save more money if we didn't take a pay increase. We are


telling people who have not had a pain crease for many, many years and


we are trying to justify an 11% increase. I'm not telling anybody


anything, incompetence IPSA is an independent pay body. What do you


think your constitutes think? I'm on the wrong side of the argument with


my constitutes many of them, I was in parliament in 2010, and it was a


desperate situation we found ourselves in, we can't revisit it


again, I fear we will. We are hurtling towards having a parliament


of extremely rich people. If that's what the British public want, fine,


that is absolutely fine by me, but that is where we are heading. We


will have a heart of the independently wealthy, a Government


of the independently wealthy and parliament of independently wealthy.


If that is what the public want. It will only get worse biceping the pay


rise. I don't see how that is logical in terms of saying let's


have an 11% pay rise. Right now we have a number of senior politicians


where being a member of parliament is a hobby job, they have outside


work and high-earning spouses and being a minister is a hobby job. The


Deputy Prime Minister said he would be happy to do this job for nothing.


I haven't met a single constitute who could afford to do his or her


job for nothing. It is one of the serious decisions a court can take,


whether or not a child should be removed from a family. The view of


an experienced professional can be crucial in reaching that decision.


Newsnight has heard a number of professional witnesses in the family


courts said they will continue refuse to appear because the money


they get has been cut by the Government.


It is the expert view that decides whether or not a child goes into


care, the most drastic step a court can take. They can be experts,


psychologists or social workers. I might take 15-20 hours to work on an


assessment of a mother. And I bring to it my experience as a


psychiatrist, psychotherapist and psycho analyst. Which the court does


not have available to it from anyone else. To speed up case, and cut


costs, judges in the family court have been told they can only call an


expert witness if it is strictly necessary for the case. Rather than


reasonably required. Which was the old test. In addition cuts to Legal


Aid are now having an impact. From this month new rules mean experts


are paid less for their assessments. The fee for a child psychiatrist,


for instance, has dropped from ?1 per hour to ?108 per hour. For the


first time the hours they can charge on a case have been limited, for a


child psychiatrist it is a maximum of 25 hours. The danger not merely


now of reducing the rates of pay, as it were, per hour, but crucially


saying that you can only spend a certain number of hours on an


assessment. That really restricts the professional competence of


expert witnesses, many of them who are saying now they won't do this


work, say that would so compromise their work that it would be


unethical to try to assess a whole family in a certain limited number


of hours. Newsnight has seen the resultings of a survey of its


members -- results of a survey of its members. The poll makes stark


reading. Some doubt the experts would turn


down the work. I have been an expert witness in a large number of trial,


and I have seen myself as very well paid and embarrassingly well paid,


actually. There is obvious room for a reduction in the rates. And I


think most expert witnesses will continue to appear. They like the


work, they are well paid any way and so I don't think there will be any


effect at all in the availability of experts. Expert rates were cut


significantly in October 2011, we never thought that they needed to be


cut any furthe There were some people who said they were unable to


work at the cut rates, but most people found a way to continue


working. It is this further cut that we think is destructive. It is not


just the expert witnesses, with the obvious self-interest, worried about


these changes. The country's leading judges are concerned too. They said


that a declining availability of true expertise will inevitably


impede efficient administration of justice and detrimentally affect


decision-making in the best interests of children. Family courts


are already cutting back, in one recent case two social workers


applied to remove a new born baby with no expert evidence at all. In


court the judge was easily persuaded to refuse that application and


ordered that the child, and that the mother and baby go into an


assessment centre, a former expert witness, and she has done extremely


well and shown that a lot of the concerns of the local authority were


misplaced or exaggerated. That is the difference an expert witness can


make. The Ministry of Justice told us the Government was often paying


much for more legally aided expert witnesses than others, and this


could not be justified. The current system can be agonisingly slow,


figures released today showed dozens of care cases started in 2010 are


still unresolved. That could mean children and families are still in


limbo after three years, waiting for the courts to decide their future.


It is this problem as much as cost that the changes are intended to


deal with. Now a busy night for air traffic controllers in South Africa,


as leaders from all over the world make their way to Johannesburg for


tomorrow's memorial service for Nelson Mandela. You would have to go


a long way to find anyone who would dispute man Delled had a's --


Mandela's widely viewed political skills. We are reporting from Soweto


illustrating how that rare skill set was brought into play in a moment of


real danger for the country. Nelson Mandela was forged in the fierce


heat of radical black politics. Soweto was the cauldron of the early


liberation struggle. This, not prison, was what gave manned the --


Mandela what he would need for the prison life. He learned a unique


moral authority. That is not where his real authority or power sprang


from, it sprang from a set of hard-headed political skills as a


leader, from a clarity of political vision sustained over decades and


from a steely ability to make himself the indispensable figure at


Millennium Domes of great crisis. April 1993 was one such moment. In


which Mandela would prove himself a brilliant political operator. And


save South Africa. The white Government had still not conceded a


date for free elections. The communist leader, Chris Hani, was a


heroic figure, second only to Mandela in popular esteem. Then he


was shot dead by a white racist. I went over to the house and I saw


Chris, he was lying there, clutching a newspaper. And he was, I think he


was dead. ??FORCEDWHI Public rage tore through the country, many


blacks lost patience with a peace process that seemed endless. Rolf


Meyer was a key player, leading negotiations for the white


Government. I would say for 36 hours it was a tipping point. It could


have very easily moved us over the edge. And everything was so very


sensitively balanced that a major impact like this could have taken us


completely out of the possibility of a peaceful solution. We want an


election date now. Mandela told the white Government bluntly there could


be no more delay. He needed them to agree a date immediately for free


elections, only that could halt the slide. He then appeared on


television at immense risk to his own public credibility to make a


dramatic appeal for calm. Our grief and anger is tearing us apart. He


knew the public mood was turning against reconciliation, but still he


spoke of the white woman who had tipped off the police about the


killer's identity. A white woman of Afrikana origin risked her life so


that we may know and bring to justice this assassin. Mandela had


the authority from within himself. He had the inner conviction to do


the right thing that would actually confirm his leadership. That was a


perfect moment where he did it. The Government committed to elections,


democracy was only a matter of time. It had a date. Mandela had snatched


from the greatest moment of peril the biggest advance. At Soweto


Cricket Oval, black and white together take a moment of silence


for Mandela before play. This is, in a sense, the future he rescued for


this country. In the early days of Nelson Mandela's presidency the


England cricket team came here to play a one-day friendly against a


Soweto team. Then the streets around the club were still tense with the


aftershock of so much political violence. Half way through the match


Nelson Mandela turned up, unannounced. I was standing a few


feet away, and I could see as Mandela shook the hand of the young


Soweto players they were shining with pride. Not just to be meeting


Mandela, but also because they, black South Africans, were doing


something that had been impossible until now. They were hosting the


England team. They took it as great gesture of respect from the outside


world. Which is what it was, but it was symbolic of something else as


well, it was symbolic of the great promise of the future, symbolic of


all the limitless possibilities that now lay ahead. This man grew up in


teargas and turmoil. He's too young to have been here the day Mandela


came, but he remembers what it meant to the people? I think for the


people that was probably one of the biggest days, especially from a


sports perspective, to have the great man himself here. Apartheid


would have locked people like him out of the lives they live today.


They inherit the future that Mandela pulled from the flames of the early


1990s. Today I'm a chartered accountant and completing my law


degree. I would say the sky is the limit. Even 20 years ago, to hear a


young black, middle-class man speaking like this was pretty rare?


Today I can definitely say there is a whole lot of "us" if I can refer


to it like that. I would like to say to the professional, let's come back


to the grassroots so that Soweto and every other township in South Africa


can bossom. -- blossom. Poverty for the most part still has its


distinctive skin colour in these townships. Did Mandela in return for


the right to vote for freedom concede too much economically. Did


he leave real economic power where it had always been, in white hands.


That is a question that the guardians of his legacy are already


facing. No electricity, no water, no shower. Most things people don't


have. This man has lived in the migrant workers' hostel for 33


years, democracy has not improved living conditions here. 23 years


after winning the vote, he now bonders what the vote is for. Are


you disappointed? Yeah. What can I do? We keep on voting, voting,


voting, we are tired of that now. We don't know what we are voting for.


So two Sowetos emerge from that pivitol moment in 1993, hope and an


enduring despair sit side-by-side. Multiple Soweto, multiple South


Africas sing Mandela to his sleep. The greatest moral figure of our age


bequeaths a democratic South Africa, but his great political skills have


not yet delivered a country that is free from what decades of apartheid


and centuries of racial oppression did to it. The authorities in


Ukraine seem to have decided they have had enough of the protests


which have brought parts of the down a halt. Dismantling and blocking off


several camps near key buildings in Kiev today. Demonstrations began


when President Yanukovych, or how you pronounce it, decided it was


more important to keep sweet with Moscow than get closer to the


European Union. The EU is offering to mediate between Government and


protesters. Our diplomatic editor has just returned from Kiev. Bring


us up-to-date? This is a sharp increase in tension, there has been


this stand-off for nearly two weeks now. Since they turned their back on


this EU partnership agreement, President Yanukovych. What happened


was you had this central protest, an independent Europe, Midan and


satellite occupations and all sorts of things. They have mopped those up


today, the riot police have gone in and dismantled and driven away the


protesters and put some through the courts, they have started doing


that. That has brought a sharp increase in pension. They have not


gone into the central square yet. Baroness Ashton due there tomorrow


has issued a statement before we came on air, urging caution on the


Government for Mr Yanukovych to try to contain the situation. These


pictures we can see today were from one of today's raids on a party


headquarters of the Fatherland party. This party is led by the


country's most charismatic and if you like significant opposition


leader, but someone who is in jail on a seven-year sentence, Yulia


Tymoshenko. She is revealed by many protestors but reviled by many other


Ukrainians. I have been on a journey to find out if she's a hero or


villain. It is before dawn and we are heading to eastern Ukraine, it


is there that the country's most celebrated prisoner is being held in


a secure hospital. Yulia Tymoshenko was one of the heros of the orange


revolution nine years ago, now there is a campaign for her freedom. The


night before we had been in Kiev's independent square to hear Yulia's


daughter read a message from detention from her mother. The crowd


hung on her every word. Even the rather extravagant comparisons of


the country's current leader with Stalin, who murdered millions,


seemed to win their approval. In the forefront team Yulia, the older


ladies for whom Ukraine's imprisoned former Prime Minister is an idol.


TRANSLATION: She's a symbol of endurance, the smiling face of the


revolution of 2004. And in the final analysis Yulia is a symbol of


feminity. Well it is obvious that there are millions of Ukrainians for


whom Yulia Tymoshenko is a martyr, a political prisoner, a kind of Ang


Sang Sukyi. And other foreigners have bought that image, talk more to


people here and you start to hear a very different picture as well.


Yulia went into politics during the 1990s after making a fortune in a


notoriously corrupt oil and gas building. Certificating gay, a harsh


critic of the current Government shared some unflattering light on


Yulia's entry to politics too. She decided to be a politician in 1996,


she was arrested one year beforeician in 1996, she was


arrested one year before. For drug smuggling to Russia, she wanted


immunity that is why she declared.. She was on charges of embezzlement


and other charges. Members of Team Yulia are on hand along with body


guards. Tymoshenko's lawyer turns up too, fresh from a paint-throwing


attack at a court hearing that morning. That was the forth time of


an attack of the defence team against Mrs Tymoshenko. That is the


business card of the attitude towards what is going on.


Little wonder that foreign human rights organisations have criticised


the trial and subsequent tention as political persecution. We can't film


in the hospital where Yulia has been on hunger strike since democracy


protests erupted late last month in the capital. There the protestors


portray themselves as pro-European and trying to stop a pro-Russian


President from getting too close to Vladimir Putin. The protestors


complain loudly about Ukraine's deal with Russia for gas. But it was


Yulia Tymoshenko, who, as Prime Minister, signed it. TRANSLATION: In


2009 an agreement was signed, gas agreement with Russia, coercing


Ukraine to join with Russia in union. That is why we are saying


that Yulia Tymoshenko had already betrayed the interests of the


Ukraine and signed a deal completely against the interests of the


country. They emerge to brief the local press, her mother's hungry


strike is over, she has bowed to a petition from supporters, the


weather has turned and evening fallen. We need to talk but she is


in a hurry. We conduct the interview in her Range Rover. I asked first


about the gas deal which, some said sold the country to the Russians?


She started the way for Ukraine to remove the political aspect from the


gas trade and gas negotiations that take place every year and political


negotiations that control Ukraine. Now Ukraine has lower gas price than


European countries. When she agreed for the contracts, which she didn't


sign, by the way, which was signed by the two enterprise heads, the


price was much lower than in the neighbouring European countries. It


is all alie. Is she an honest woman your mother, did she benefit from


public office in a way that was bad and dishonest? If you follow really


the committee report that was commissioned by the European Union


and they followed every trial, they witnessed, they took witnesses from


all the participants in the trial. They looked for the material cases


and material files of the case. And nowhere in this file was one word of


private gain or corruption. Do you think she will be President of the


Country one day? I hope so. These days in Ukraine people tend to


assume the worst about their politicians and probity, even if


they support them. Did any come through the post-Soviet turmoil,


with reputation intact. If you want to earn billions of dollars you


can't earn without corruption. It is your choice to he were this money,


and the next step you go to politics. If you go to politics


after this corrupted ground, be ready to answer the questions, it is


a certain obligation to be a businessman in the Ukraine.


Journey's end and we are back in Kiev, time to take stock. So did


Yulia Tymoshenko come through the business and political upheavals of


the last 20 years, with clean hands? I think not. I wonder who really


did. The point is now the way that President Yanukovych has treated her


has reinvigorated her political credentials and given her a new


lease of life. And who knows, one day she could be the President of


this country. Now, put that light out! The air raid warden in Dad's


Army would be happily at home in an enormous expanse of Northumbria.


Nearly 600 square miles of Northumberland have been awarded


protected dark sky status, so people can get a better view of the night


sky. Just so you know what we are talking about. Let's look at a shot


from the camera mounted on the proof across the street here in central


London. It is enough to drive Brian Cox and John Culshaw into a suicide


pact. Mention the word "nor you will better land" they go all dreamy


eyed. From above European Union sparkles,


the view from the ground is far from. The area covered is 975 square


miles, incorporating the National Park and the Keilder forest park.


The international dark skies association has granted the area


gold tier state Turks the highest accolade, making it the largest side


of its kind in Europe, it won't be all along in the park. There is


another park like it in Galloway which turned its lights out four


years ago. The night sky has been given protected status, which means


people living locally will have to comply with strict lighting


controls. It is hoped the local economy and nocturnal wildlife will


benefit. There is a boost to astro tourism at the Keilder Observatory.


We are looking forward to working with businesses and communities in


the months and years to come, to try to get everyone to be aware of the


special quality we have in huge amounts, it is above our head it is


a free national quality that we should be very, very proud of and we


should do our best to try to keep as dark as possible.


But with just 2,000 people living within the park, the bonders of a


starry sky will still be can I denied to the vast majority of us.


We have the lead astronomer from the Keilder Observatory, joining us from


Northumberland now. What are we missing down here? It is phenomenal


up here, this award has really been the icing on the cake for a lot of


dedicated people working tirelessly at the observatory, it is about


making astronomy accessible. To as many people as possible. Get out of


your comfort zone and get yourself up north. I don't know if you


managed to see it, you could see the pictures from the roof of the


building in Broadcasting House, nothing here just grey light. What


can you see now? We have got a cornucopia of stars overhead. We


have the lights and cameras all going now it is difficult to observe


the dark skies. These lights are precisely what we don't want. We


want to see the darkness and the dark skies, that is precisely what


we have got. This instrument here allows us to see wonderful galaxies


like M-33, a pin wheel galaxy. It is over nearly 10 million light years


distance, we can see the bonders of our universe by observing these


incredible objects. Is that worth depriving people of decent lighting?


We're not depriving anybody of anything. This is the thing. The


area we have this dark sky park destination in has always been dark,


that is why we built the observatory over six years ago now. It has


always been dark in this part of the world. One of the great challenges


for me as observer, is to make sure people in generations to come can


enjoy the dark skies. In a world where our lives can be difficult on


day-to-day basis, isn't it a wonderful thing you can access a


phenomenal, bluetful, dark sky and wonder what else is out there. Let


your self-dream a bit. It is a port of therapy? Self-dream a bit. It is


a port of therapy? Absolutely. The universe we come from makes us who


we are. Being able to dream about that and to connect in it, in that


insay the sense of wonder, as a child you wanted to drive a steam


train or rocketship. As adults we will lose all that, it is the wonder


of the universe we try to reignite in people. When they come in their


droves that is the one since I can get, people can connect with the


universe, that is what makes us who we are. It is where it all came from


and to be able to connect with that under phenomenal dark skies, that


today we got news and to preserve it for generations to come is


wonderful. Therapy, absolutely. Thanks a lot. That is about all from


us tonight. While the astronomers at the Keilder Observatory were were a


little disappointed by cloudy skies. Back in the Newsnight lab the


boffins were able to reconstruct what they could see if the skies had


been clearer.


Fears of a genocide in the Central African Republic; cuts to the pay of professional witnesses in the family courts; 11 per cent pay rise for MPs; Ukraine; Nelson Mandela; dark skies.

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