Article: Revisiting the Northern Bank robbery – the biggest heist in British history

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Revisiting the Northern Bank robbery – the biggest heist in British history

Steven Moore, 04 May 2021

The BBC is taking a fresh look at the biggest heist in British history – the Northern Bank Robbery.

Broadcast on BBC One NI on Monday (May 3) at 9pm, it tells the story of how the multi-million pound robbery played out in the days before Christmas 2004. In a sophisticated operation, the gang took two families hostage for 24 hours, forcing two bank employees to rob £26.5 million from the Belfast cash centre.

With exclusive access to new source material – including police 999 calls along with internal bank CCTV and court documents – they piece together what could have happened.

Through interviews with key players – in politics, policing and financial crime – they uncover what happened to the main suspects in the cross-border police investigation and ask whether the robbery may, inadvertently, have helped the peace process.

The film includes interviews with Bertie Ahern, former Taoiseach; Michael McDowell, former Irish Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Sir Hugh Orde, former Chief Constable PSNI; Dr Mitchell Reiss, US Special Envoy to Northern Ireland under the Bush administration; Tom Kelly, Prime Minister Tony Blair’s official spokesperson between 2001-7); and Peter Robinson, former leader of DUP and First Minister of NI.

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Article: Almost everyone condemns naked short selling. But not the British Treasury

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Almost everyone condemns naked short selling. But not the British Treasury

George Monbiot , 15 February 2011

You think you’ve seen the worst of it; you haven’t. Last week I wrote about how the British government, while imposing extra taxes and devastating cuts on ordinary mortals, has quietly engineered a new tax exemption for the banks and corporations, which also encourages these businesses to shift some of their operations overseas. I thought that was as bad as it got. I was wrong.

On the day I wrote that column the Conservatives were doing something just as repulsive, and far more dangerous. On Wednesday George Osborne told the House of Commons “we will make sure we learn every lesson that needs to be learned – so that this [the financial crisis] never happens again”. Two days before, his government demonstrated that nothing has been learned at all. Let me first explain the context.

Most people obtain shares or bonds or other securities in the hope that their value will rise. Short sellers hope their price will fall. They might borrow, for instance, 10,000 shares and sell them for £1 a piece. Then they pray that the value collapses. If they’re in luck, and the share price halves, for instance, they can buy the same number as they sold for 50p each. They return the shares to the broker who lent them, and pocket £5,000 (minus fees).

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