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FEATURED REPORT: The true story of Rabinder Singh, an Indian spy who became a mole for the CIA and vanished into thin air

Rabinder Singh was a senior joint secretary with India’s Research and Analysis Wing when he disappeared.(Supplied)

AceNewsDesk – From a hidden bunker on a quiet street in New Delhi, a secret agent watches a man ascend the steps of his three-storey home with a nondescript briefcase in tow.


Ace Press News From Cutting Room Floor: Published: Dec.09: 2023: ABC Special News: TELEGRAM Ace Daily News Link

Rabinder Singh was a senior joint secretary with India’s Research and Analysis Wing when he disappeared.(Supplied)

Inside is a trove of top-secret documents taken from India’s external intelligence agency.

The man is a mole, believed to have been leaking sensitive information to a powerful ally, as part of a high-stakes political plot to topple a foreign enemy.

It’s a scene seemingly ripped from 2023’s headlines — as the mission unfolds, the spy is drawn into a complicated web of betrayal and danger, culminating in a daring escape escape across borders.

But the real story behind this Netflix thriller came almost two decades before alleged international assassination plots put India’s intelligence agencies under the spotlight.

Rabinder Singh was working at India’s Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) in 2004 when he became the spy that vanished into thin air.

It is a story so bizarre that it has been rehashed in several dramatic accounts. 

Khufiya (House of Spies), released last month, is the Netflix adaptation of a 2012 novel called Escape To Nowhere, written by former spy chief Amar Bhushan. 

While it has been promoted as a work of fiction loosely inspired by true events, it bears some striking similarities — and some key differences — with the account offered in another book authored by a former intelligence officer.

RK Yadav’s book, Mission R&AW, was released as a tell-all memoir in 2014, detailing “the first eye-opening account … of the achievements and failures of Indian intelligence”.

Piecing together the records of what unfolded reveals a desperate race to catch a double agent and understand how and why the CIA convinced an Indian citizen to turn on his own government.

Who was Rabinder Singh?

Singh first joined the R&AW in the late 80s, after a brief military career.

Media reports describe him as a clean-shaven man from an affluent family in Amritsar, the son of a retired lieutenant in the Indian Army.

Having joined the Gorkha Regiments in 1970 and worked his way up to become major, Singh was reportedly overlooked for further promotion due to his “mediocre calibre” as a soldier.

He did take part in Operation Blue Star, a sting in 1984 targeting a group of separatists known as the Khalistan movement who had taken over the Golden Temple, the most sacred site in Sikhism.

According to Yadav’s book, which he told the ABC was entirely factual and based on his own career as well as interviews with internal sources, Singh was appointed to the agency by an old family friend who had worked with his father.

The covers of two books sit side by side, one titled ESCAPE TO NOWHERE in red font, the other MISSION R&AW
Amar Bhushan’s novel Escape to Nowhere was published in 2012, and RK Yadav’s memoir Mission R&AW was published in 2014.(Konark Publishers/Adhyyan Books)

Stationed in Amritsar, Singh gained a reputation for his close relationships with local police, allegedly getting involved in an embezzlement scheme involving secret service funds meant for clandestine operations in Pakistan.

Singh was eventually posted to the Indian embassy in Damascus, where he once let slip to an American diplomat about a secret Indian Air Force visit to an air strip on the outskirts of the city.

It has been suggested that it was around this time that Singh was first recruited by the CIA.

According to multiple reports in Indian media, Singh’s daughter was seriously injured in 1992 or 1993, and he requested a transfer to Washington DC. 

“Singh said he needed a lot of money to pay for his daughter’s treatment, and that the Washington posting would help,” RL Bhatia, the minister involved in external state affairs at the time, told Frontline in 2004.

The request was declined. Instead, after Damascus, Singh was stationed as a counsellor at The Hague.

Colleagues noted his expensive tastes and penchant for throwing lavish dinner parties at five-star hotels where he mingled with senior officers and foreign diplomats.

“Everybody in R&AW knew that he had acquired disproportionate assets to his known sources of income, but no-one dared to take any action against him due to his allegiance with a coterie of senior officers,” Yadav wrote.

“He openly used to claim in cocktail circles that he was the richest bureaucrat of India, but no-one in R&AW had the guts to question the source of his richness and lavish style of living.”

By the early 2000s Singh had returned to New Delhi, and was working as a joint secretary at R&AW headquarters focused on its South-East Asia operations.

But the man described by his peers as a “fairly ordinary” agent was hiding a secret.

The double agent arouses suspicion

Some time in late 2003, Singh’s colleagues began to notice he had become particularly inquisitive, striking up conversations about topics outside his department’s purview and spending an unusual amount of time at the photocopier.

One officer approached Bhushan, who at the time was the senior secretary in charge of the Counter Intelligence and Security division that monitored internal threats at R&AW. 

Bhushan began preliminary inquiries, and by the new year, Singh was under surveillance.

A man stands at a photocopier, mostly in the dark but lit by a window and the glow of the machine
A scene from Netflix drama Khufiya (House of Spies) depicts the mole photocopying stacks of documents at his office in the Research and Analysis Wing. (Supplied: Netflix)

Agents installed hidden cameras inside his home and office, tapped his phones and opened a mini control room down the street to monitor the video and audio recordings of Singh’s conversations with guests as they came and went.

At one point, Yadav wrote, there were more than 20 agents tracking Singh’s every move.

The wire taps seemed to suggest Singh had been collecting intelligence from inside the R&AW and passing it on to an unknown handler believed to be working for the CIA.

The surveillance team were working on the assumption that Singh had somehow been transferring documents through a courier.

But before they could gather enough evidence or catch Singh in the act, he received a tip-off that he was being watched.

“Surveillance is only effective as long as the suspect doesn’t know they’re being watched. But then once he knows he is being watched, he has power,” Bhushan explained in a documentary last year.

Singh applied for leave from work, ostensibly to attend his daughter’s engagement ceremony in the United States. The request was turned down, confirming his fears.

According to Yadav’s book, tapes from the bugs installed at R&AW headquarters showed Singh desperately ransacking his office in search of hidden cameras — a scene re-created in the film adaptation based on Bhushan’s novel.

One morning in April, the counter intelligence team watched as Singh stacked piles of papers into bundles, ready to be squirrelled out of the building. They pounced.

Bhushan directed his officers to frisk every R&AW employee as they left the building.

“Hundreds of classified documents were seized from senior and middle level officers of R&AW being taken out of headquarters,” Yadav wrote, including pen drives, CDs and DVDs, and a large volume of pornographic materials.

But still there was not enough to pin down their main target.

The spy who vanished

Singh, now suspicious that counter intelligence agents were tailing him, needed to hatch an escape plan.

Meanwhile, operatives installed a trick photocopier in his office that recorded digital copies of every page he scanned.

Over 16 days, Singh took copies of more than 210 reports, including classified documents that contained sensitive information about R&AW’s assessment of activities in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and several of its neighbours, according to Yadav.

The investigation appeared to be gathering steam, but senior agents were frustrated that there was still no conclusive evidence that would allow them to question Singh or identify who he was working with.

They were under pressure to arrest their target, or drop it entirely.

Singh took his chance. On May 1, 2004, he and his wife Parminder Kaur made their escape.

They borrowed a car and drove to the border with Nepal, crossing over at Nepalganj, where they were met by Singh’s CIA contact, David Vacala.

The three of them stayed the night at a hotel before booking a domestic flight to Kathmandu, where they stayed at the American embassy.

There, Singh and his wife were issued US passports under new names: Ram Prasad Sharma and Deepa Jumar Sharma.

On May 7, the Sharmas boarded an Austrian Airlines flight bound for Washington DC.

After Singh had failed to turn up to work for several days, counter intelligence officers checked city hospitals and interrogated family members about his whereabouts.

A team was dispatched south to Chennai, but found no trace of their man.

They contacted international airports, but hadn’t enough evidence to block Singh’s passport.

“We came fairly close to understanding that there could be a security implication. But we simply did not have conclusive evidence at that point,” a senior source told Outlook India in 2004.

A search of Singh’s home finally delivered the smoking gun they’d been looking for: a laptop that Singh had been using to send electronic copies of his pilfered documents. 

The counter intelligence wing soon figured out his whereabouts, but by the time they contacted the Indian embassy in Kathmandu to try to intercept him, it was too late.

The fallout

Singh was formally dismissed as a R&AW officer in 2005, under an article of India’s constitution that allows the president to do so without holding a formal departmental inquiry if it is not considered to be in the national interest.

A senior official at the agency reportedly completed an internal inquiry, but its findings were never made public.

The Indian media was whipped into a frenzy over the “spy who disappeared”, and the secrets he may have sold to one of the country’s strongest allies.

So what happens to a double agent once they are forced to flee their home base and are cut off from a network of informants?

In Singh’s case, it would seem, they become far less valuable.

According to one account, just a few months after he landed state-side, he was dropped by the CIA.

“They stopped paying him, scuppered his attempt at gaining employment with a think tank, and declined to support his request for naturalisation,” wrote Shaunak Agarkhedkar, an Indian spy novelist.

In November 2004, a person calling themselves Surender Jeet Singh petitioned the US Court of Appeals to review a decision by the Board of Immigration denying him asylum.

A page of highlighted text "recruited by an organ of the government of India known as the Research and Analysis Wing"
Court documents include interesting detail about the petitioner named Surender Jeet Singh.(Supplied: US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit)

In court documents, he explained that he had been recruited by a CIA-like department in India called the Research and Analysis Wing, to report on individuals believed to have been pushing for a separate state known as Khalistan.

He claimed to have quit the R&AW when “he was ordered to aid in the assassination of a very religious person he had investigated”.

Singh told the court that after hiding with friends for a year, he had used his own passport to come to the US, and testified that he would be killed if he returned to India.

The immigration judge denied Singh’s asylum request, finding him not credible. In a subsequent appeal, the decision was upheld on the basis that he presented “no corroborative evidence whatsoever” that the R&AW even existed.

The Ninth Circuit Court, however, decided otherwise.

“We can notice that the government of India exists. We can notice that the office of the Prime Minister of India exists. We can notice that a part of the Prime Minister of India’s office is the RAW,” the judge wrote, referring the matter back to the board of immigration appeals.

While there is no official record of Singh’s final asylum application, it appears he was allowed to stay in the country.

India’s Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) — another Indian intelligence agency that runs separately to the R&WA and oversees domestic crimes — had asked Interpol to issue a global arrest warrant for Singh in 2007, but Interpol declined on the grounds that the charges were political.

That same year, the Indian embassy in Washington confirmed to the New York Times that Singh and his wife were wanted by the Indian government for violating India’s Official Secrets Act.

Media reports have suggested Singh spent several years living as a recluse in New York, Maryland and Virginia, near his extended family, before dying in a road accident in 2016.

Questions of a cover-up

At the centre of these recountings of the Singh case are a few key questions: why would the US need to spy on India, and how did this agent manage to escape?

Several theories have been floated about what exactly the CIA was hoping to gain from Singh’s leaks, ranging from intelligence on terrorist activity among India’s closest neighbours, particularly Pakistan and Afghanistan, to evidence of Iraq possessing weapons of mass destruction. 

Yadav and others have suggested that the top priority would have been information about India’s own nuclear capabilities, after recent failures by US intelligence to anticipate a series of nuclear tests known as the Pokhran-II tests

In any case, Bhushan says the documents that Singh did manage to pass on were mostly minor in terms of sensitivity.

While the R&AW never made its internal inquiry public, it did confirm in the wake of the Singh episode that eight of its key operatives had gone missing since the agency was formed in 1968.

The revelation prompted considerable backlash in the community, and questions about the integrity of R&AW’s officers and its decisions.

In Yadav’s book, as well as granular detail about the Singh case that he says was gathered from internal sources, he made the case that R&AW was in urgent need of reform to address unprofessional behaviour and corruption.

The exact details of what went on inside the R&AW in the months leading up to and directly following Singh’s escape are difficult to verify. But Yadav offered the following account.

He believes that many officials were quite happy for Singh to vanish, if he took with him the potential consequences of any further investigation that could point to them as conspirators.

“There is a strong Indian myth that a crow never bites a crow,” he wrote.

Yadav wrote that 57 officers of the R&AW were found to have been involved in Singh’s deception in some way, according to the suppressed internal inquiry.

He listed the names of 19 employees who he argued were conspirators, having either assisted or allowed Singh to flee the country, or provided information that Singh passed on to the CIA.

Yadav filed a complaint to the CBI asking them to look into the matter. 

The complaint landed in Delhi’s High Court, which in 2009 declined to press CBI any further, on the grounds that Yadav had not provided sufficient evidence. 

“Your complete petition is nothing but hearsay. You have no authenticity and without any evidence you are asking us to initiate action against the officers,” Chief Justice A P Shah said.

In his book, Yadav explains the lengths he went to in order to compel an official body to take further action against the people he says helped Singh to escape justice. He maintains to this day that he has only ever sought to expose the truth.

“He was chased away. Had [Rabinder Singh] been arrested here, then those officers who shared information with him would have faced court under the official secrets act. Therefore, they made him escape,” he told the ABC.

review of Yadav’s book published by the CIA noted that it was “difficult to analyse as it has no footnotes, no end notes, and no bibliography, which means there are no citations from secondary sources, archives, or documents to support the claims”.

“The book is strongest when Yadav discusses what he witnessed and experienced, but the sections that contain historical narrative lack independent sources necessary to document the events,” the reviewer wrote.

According to Bhushan’s version of events, there was corruption at the centre of the Singh case — but only of one man. 

“We have perfect institutions. We have laws, we have rules, we have procedures. What’s lacking is people who work within this and implement it,” he told the EPIC Channel documentary.

“From what I understand and see in this case, give lure of money to anyone, he gets tempted. Then he doesn’t know where to stop. If you don’t realise where to stop, you can’t come back.”

Few former agents have gone on record about what went on at the R&AW.

Retired intelligence officers are now required to seek prior permissionfrom the head of their organisation before publishing any details about the inner workings of government agencies.

One former R&AW officer is currently being sued by the CBI for allegedly publishing classified information in his 2007 book titled India’s External Intelligence – Secrets of Research and Analysis Wing.

For now, those with lingering questions about what really happened to Singh will perhaps turn to the accounts penned by his former colleagues — one that calls itself fact, and the other fiction. 

Editor says …Sterling Publishing & Media Service Agency is not responsible for the content of external site or from any reports, posts or links and thanks for following as always appreciate every like, reblog or retweet and comment thank you

Ace Daily News

U.K NEWSPAPER HEADLINES REPORT: MPs’ Anger Over Cost Of Rwanda Plan & Anger Over Christmas Supplies Hit


AceDailyNews Says Here’s Todays Newspaper Headlines: The Daily Telegraph leads on an article by the former immigration minister, Robert Jenrick, who argues that integrating migrants into British society is impossible while the numbers are so high.


Ace Press News From Cutting Room Floor: Published: Dec.09: 2023: Ace Daily News: TELEGRAM Ace Daily News Link

The Telegraph front page 9 December 2023
Several of the papers lead with reports of growing dissent among Tory MPs over Rishi Sunak’s controversial Rwanda immigration scheme. Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Robert Jenrick, who resigned earlier this week as immigration minister, says the plans do not go far enough and integrating migrants into society is “impossible” at current migration levels.
The Guardian 9 December 2023
The Home Office has been ordered to reveal the full cost of the Rwanda scheme, as costs could exceed £400m, the Guardian reports. The paper says that the Home Office’s Permanent Secretary, Sir Matthew Rycroft, will face MPs on the public accounts committee on Monday, before Rishi Sunak tries to get court objections to the scheme overturned through the commons on Tuesday. The paper’s main image is of Lioness striker Alessia Russo, who has given the paper an exclusive interview.
The i front page 9 December 2023
The i reports Rishi Sunak faces rebellions from “angry” Tory MPs who are “plotting to derail” the Rwanda scheme. A government source told the paper that “a gang of 30” backbenchers will launch a campaign to toughen up the legislation.
The Times front page 9 December 2023
The Times says Sunak’s Rwanda immigration scheme has a “50% at best” chance of success, according to the government’s latest official legal advice. Also on the front is a photo of the Princess of Wales with Prince Louis and Princess Charlotte, taken at the Together at Christmas carol concert at Westminster Abbey.
FT 9 December 2023
Disruption in the Panama and Suez canals leave “supply chains at risk for Christmas”, the Financial Times reports. The head of an international body representing importers across the UK told the paper that there are “supplies that just won’t be here in time for Christmas”, due to a drought in the Panama Canal limiting the number of ships using the waterway – and attacks on cargo vessels.
Daily Mail front page 9 December 2023
Royal Mail workers are being old to prioritise parcel deliveries, according to the Daily Mail, leading to a “post fiasco” that is seeing cards piling up in sorting officers. The paper says its investigation found depot managers were telling staff to focus on “premium products” instead of letters and cards.
Daily Star front page 9 December 2023
And a “Santa shortage” has hit Britain, the Daily Star reports. The paper claims British shops have been hit by a 33% drop in the number of Santa’s available to appear at Christmas grottos. According to the insurance firm Simply Business, millions of professional Santa’s quit their jobs during the Covid pandemic.
Daily Express front page 9 December 2023
The Daily Express says five million Britons will be spending Christmas abroad to escape the “cost of living gloom” and festive shopping, with Spain, Greece and the Caribbean the most popular destinations for the period. The paper also sees it as a possible sign of renewed consumer confidence.
The Sun 9 December 2023
Keeping the royal “race row” on the front pages following the publication of a new book about the British monarchy, the Sun quotes sources as saying King Charles “won’t be emotionally blackmailed” by his son the Duke of Sussex.
The Mirror front page 9 December 2023
The Daily Mirror says Nigel Farage’s team is involved in a “desperate bid” to win public votes for the former UKIP leader on ITV’s I’m a Celebrity.

n his first comments since resigning from the government over the Rwanda bill, he says the Tories will face the “red-hot fury” of voters if they do not bring down high levels of immigration. 

Mr Jenrick attacks Rishi Sunak’s Rwanda legislation, saying it does not going far enough and predicts it will result in “some symbolic half-filled deportation flights” due to what he calls a “merry-go-round” of legal challenges. 

The paper believes the critique will provide ammunition for right-wing MPs preparing to vote against the bill at its second reading next week. 

The former Home Secretary Suella Braverman and former Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick both said the Rwanda bill won't work
The former Home Secretary Suella Braverman and former Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick have both said the Rwanda bill will not work

The Times reports that the government’s own legal advisers have put the chances of flights taking off for Rwanda next year at 50% at best under Rishi Sunak’s emergency legislation. The paper says ministers have been told the law leaves a significant risk of flights being blocked by the European Court in Strasbourg. 

A government source tells the paper the bill goes “as far as it can” within international law and “therefore ensures we can get flights off to Rwanda next year”. 

The i says a group of 30 backbenchers is plotting to derail the legislation in a “Brexit-style campaign”.

The cost of the Rwanda scheme is the lead story in the Guardian. It reports that the Tories are “in disarray” over the plans and the Home Office has been ordered to disclose how much it is costing. 

It describes the permanent secretary at the department, Sir Matthew Rycroft, as being “hauled” before the public accounts committee on Monday after the initial spending rose from £140 to £290m.

Disruption of vital trade routes is putting Christmas supply chains at risk,according to the Financial Times. The paper says a drought in the Panama canal and attacks on cargo vessels near the Suez canal are constraining maritime traffic. T

he head of a group representing British importers tells the FT that consumer electronics such as iPhones may not be readily available and some companies are finding it hard to acquire Christmas decorations.

The headline in the Daily Mail warns of a “Christmas mail fiasco”. It says Christmas cards, and letters about cancer appointments, are piling up in sorting offices, while postal workers are told to prioritise what the paper calls “money spinning parcels” such as Amazon deliveries. 

Insiders have told the Daily Mail that the delivery of tens of millions of Christmas cards will be “sacrificed” in favour of packages. The Royal Mail denies having a policy to prioritise parcels, but says they may need to be cleared first to free up space in small sorting offices. 

“Get Me out of Here!” is the declaration on the front page of the Daily Express, but it is nothing to do with celebrities in the jungle. 

It reports that five million Brits are treating themselves to a Christmas getaway with Spain, Greece and the Caribbean the most popular destinations. The paper sees it as a possible sign of renewed consumer confidence.

And the Daily Star has another Christmas scare story, reporting an apparent shortage of professional Santas to work in stores and shopping centres. 

Editor says …Sterling Publishing & Media Service Agency is not responsible for the content of external site or from any reports, posts or links and thanks for following as always appreciate every like, reblog or retweet and comment thank you

Ace Daily News

CHRISTMAS BBC INTERVIEW REPORT: Noddy Holder Remembers His Christmas Hit ‘ Merry Christmas Everybody ‘


AceNewsDesk – Half a century after Slade recorded their massive hit single Merry Xmas Everybody, Noddy Holder said strangers still ask him to shout his “It’s Christmas” catchphrase.


Ace Press News From Cutting Room Floor: Published: Dec.09: 2023: By Andy Giddings: BBC News, West Midlands: TELEGRAM Ace Daily News Link

Slade in December 1973
Noddy Holder said the success of Merry Xmas Everybody had been “massive” and earned “serious dough” for Slade’s record label

In an interview with the BBC, the 77-year-old said the words were written after a trip to the pub.

The melody was taken from a song he wrote and discarded six years previously.

But the recording of the number one single was far from easy.

Speaking to BBC presenter Tony Snell for a special podcast, he said the band was inspired to release a Christmas song by John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s single Happy Xmas (War Is Over) the previous year.

Slade had already claimed five number ones by this stage, were at their peak and had been pushed by their record label to release a Christmas single.

They dug out the first song Holder had written in 1967, which he called Buy Me a Rocking Chair.

He said it had been written in their “hippy dippy psychedelic days” and had been dismissed by the band at the time.

But he said bassist Jim Lea had agreed that it could be revived.

Holder said: “I went to the local pub in Wolverhampton and went back to my mum and dad’s after and I sat up all night with a bottle of whisky and wrote the total lyrics that night.”

Slade were one of the biggest bands of their time in the UK and recorded six number one singles

The song was recorded on a hot September day at a studio in New York, but the band had been dealt a blow earlier in the year when drummer Don Powell was involved in a car crash in Wolverhampton.

He was severely injured and his fiancee, Angela Morris was killed. Holder said they were told at the time their drummer was close to death.

A loss of memory meant Powell had to relearn the drums and could only play them for a short time before having to stop.

But Holder said their engineer was a “clever cookie” and was able to stitch together the sections of the song they recorded, so that afterwards “you couldn’t tell”.

Looking back, 50 years later, he said: “It was the hardest song we ever had to record.”

Noddy Holder is still asked to shout his catchphrase but said “I take it in good heart, it’s what I’m known for”

Merry Xmas Everybody was released in the first week of December 1973 and thanks to the band’s popularity at the time, it sold 500,000 records through pre-orders, taking it straight to the top of the charts.

Holder said their record company, who had told him “we’ve got to put everything behind this record”, were over the moon at the sales, and added: “They were making serious dough from us.”

The song was able to hold off rival Christmas singles from both Wizzard and Elton John, selling a million singles over the festive period.

It was their sixth and final UK number one.

Holder, pictured here at the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, has been fighting oesophageal cancer

In 2018, Holder was diagnosed with oesophageal cancer and told he only had a few months to live.

He said while he would never be clear of it, he was “on a level playing field at the moment”, and determined to enjoy himself.

“I was more worried for my missus and my kids and my grandkids than I was for me,” he said.

“I do live life day to day, and I thought well I’ve done a lot of good stuff in my life, I’ve had a lot of fun if the end is within sight in six months I’ll see it through.”

Holder also said he still dresses up as Santa every year and wakes his wife on Christmas morning with a loud “It’s Christmas!”, before cooking the Christmas dinner and spending the rest of the day in his pyjamas.

One item of clothing he does not wear though is his famous mirrored top hat, which he showed off on Top of the Pops that year.

He said it is a “bit battered” now and was kept in a bank vault in New York for safety.

Editor says …Sterling Publishing & Media Service Agency is not responsible for the content of external site or from any reports, posts or links and thanks for following as always appreciate every like, reblog or retweet and comment thank you


Ace Breaking News

PRESS RELEASE GOV.U.K REPORT: Supermarket Essentials Will No Longer Be Linked To Illegal Deforestation


AceBreakingNews – Orangutans, leopards, jaguars and other endangered species protected with new legislation to safeguard forests


Ace Press News From Cutting Room Floor: Published: Dec.09: 2023: TELEGRAM Ace Daily News Link

Palm oil, cocoa, beef, leather and soy are to be included in new legislation aimed at helping ensure the products we buy do not harm the world’s forests.  

At COP28 Nature Day (9 December), the government will set out how these new laws will ensure that there is no place on our supermarket shelves for products which have been produced on land linked to illegal deforestation.

This move will protect the habitats of some of the world’s most precious and endangered species, including tigers and leopards. It will give British shoppers assurance that the goods they buy are not contributing to deforestation that violates the laws and regulations of the countries where they come from.

The biggest driver of deforestation is agricultural expansion, with an area the size of the UK ploughed up each year to meet UK demand for commodities.

It is a huge threat to rainforests, effectively the “lungs of the earth” because of their ability to absorb harmful gasses and provide a home to thousands of animal and plant species.  

The legislation marks a step change from voluntary approaches already in place, protecting the future of the world’s forests that we need to help tackle climate change, and their wildlife-rich canopies.

Introduced through the world leading Environment Act, this legislation will see businesses that have a global annual turnover of over £50 million and use over 500 tonnes of regulated commodities a year banned from using them if sourced from land used illegally. 

These businesses will also be required to undertake a due diligence exercise on their supply chains and to report on this exercise annually for transparency.  

Environment Secretary Steve Barclay said:  

I find it heart-rending to see the way illegal deforestation is destroying the habitats of tigers, jaguars, orangutans and many other endangered species, and I know many people across the world feel the same. Globally, we lose forests equivalent to the size of about 30 football pitches every minute.

It’s why we are cleaning up supply chains to make sure that big businesses in the UK aren’t responsible for illegal deforestation. It also means shoppers can be confident that the money they spend is part of the solution, rather than part of the problem.

Through our work at COP28 on forests, food, and nature we are reversing the loss of biodiversity, increasing food security, and tackling climate change – safeguarding these critically important landscapes for generations to come.

Tony Juniper, Chair of Natural England, said:

Halting the decline of the natural world isn’t just about saving rare species, it’s about safeguarding the web of life upon which humanity depends for our food, water and economic security. On the pathway to tackling climate change we must go high nature at the same time as low carbon, creating bigger, better and more joined up places for nature to thrive. 

The commitments outlined today are welcome further steps toward UK environmental leadership, both at home and on the world stage. We look forward to supporting the government in delivering results through practical action on the ground”.

Tanya Steele, CEO of the WWF said:

Nearly eight million hectares of primary forest has been lost globally in the last two years alone, so this is an important first step to getting illegal deforestation off UK shopping shelves.

However illegal deforestation is only part of the picture – with wildlife numbers plummeting and wild habitats facing destruction, we must stop felling forests, full stop. Forests absorb 30% of the carbon we emit from burning fossil fuels, so nature is clearly our greatest ally in tackling climate change.  

We haven’t a moment to lose to bring our world back to life and these measures must be implemented in Parliament as swiftly as possible.

Andrew Opie, Director of Food and Sustainability at the British Retail Consortium, said:

Retailers welcome the announcement on UK Deforestation Due Diligence legislation. This will give confidence to British retailers and their customers alike, helping retailers meet their ambitious targets on deforestation and enable a greater supply of deforestation-free products in the UK.

Tackling deforestation requires global cooperation and we look forward to seeing further detail as to how the legislation will align with European proposals.

At COP28 in Dubai, the Environment Secretary will set out his priorities to restore forests, recover nature and create sustainable food systems, building on the ambitions set out by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak earlier during the conference. It is essential to the government’s determination to leave the environment in a better state for future generations and follows the UK’s leadership on nature at COP26 where the Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forests and Land Use was signed by over 140 countries.

The UK government also played a central role in driving forward the global commitment to protect 30% of land and sea for nature by 2030. This takes a step forward today, with a new map published to show what areas could count in the delivery of “30by30”.  

This indicative map illustrates that 8.5% of land in England – including Sites of Special Scientific Interest and National Nature Reserves – already count toward the target, with a further 26.8% of land having the potential to contribute in the future, including Protected Landscapes.

The map has been published alongside the proposed criteria for contributions toward the target, and information on how this will be delivered through a voluntary, bottom-up approach. Work will now progress to identify further areas to contribute to the target, with additional guidance developed in collaboration with land managers and farmers.  

Delivering on the 30by30 commitment for England will ensure our most important places, at the core of nature’s recovery, are protected for our iconic species to thrive. 

The move comes as government announces further support for the UK marine environment, while continuing to support the long-term future and sustainability of the UK fisheries and seafood sector. To help support the conservation and restoration of the ocean, the UK is announcing £72.5 million in new programmes from its flagship Blue Planet Fund. 

Further support for the marine environment includes:  

  • New funding to restore marine biodiversity: £60 million of investment for Ocean Community Empowerment and Nature (OCEAN), a seven-year competitive grants programme as part of the flagship £500 million Blue Planet Fund. The OCEAN Grant Programme offers a vital path to ocean recovery and for local communities and nature to thrive side by side. A further £12.5 million has been committed towards PROBLUE, the World Bank’s multi-donor trust fund, through the Blue Planet Fund to support the blue economy and sustainable ocean sectors in developing countries, including Small Island Developing States. 
  • Strengthened commitments to deliver Marine Net Gain: Following a consultation in 2022, the government will take forward proposals for Marine Net Gain in England– a policy that will ensure that infrastructure and development does not come at the cost of the marine environment, delivering measures to ensure that it is left in a better state than it was found 
  • Blue carbon habitat restoration: An additional £640,000 will be dedicated to support the vital restoration of iconic saltmarsh and seagrass habitats in England. Led by the Environment Agency, this fund will develop the UK Saltmarsh Code and increase the capacity of the Restoring Meadow, Marsh and Reef initiative.   

This package builds on the UK’s commitment to safeguard our marine habitats, complimenting recent support for a moratorium on deep sea mining. This confirmed that the government will not sponsor or support any licenses for deep sea mining by the International Seabed Authority, unless and until there is sufficient scientific evidence about the potential impact on deep sea ecosystems.    

Today’s announcements strengthens the UK’s leadership to address nature loss and tackle climate change.  

The government has announced £15 million new funding to accelerate nature recovery across our most cherished Protected Landscapes, and a new Rainforest Strategy backed by £750,000 funding to protect the delicate and globally rare temperate rainforest habitats found across the Southwest and Cumbria. 

As we mark one year on from the anniversary of the UN COP15 Summit in Montreal, the government is continuing to put nature recovery at the heart of climate change to further this legacy – protecting the environment for future generations. 

Further information   

  • The government played a leading role in negotiating and securing the global deal for nature at the UN CO15 summit in Montreal. This leadership was critical in bringing together 196 countries in a joint, global commitment to halt and reverse biodiversity loss by 2030, and – through leadership of the High Ambition Coalition for Nature & People and the Global Ocean Alliance – to protect at least 30% of the land and of the ocean globally, with robust action underway to meet this target.  
  • The government has announced an additional £2 million funding for the global, market-led Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures (TNFD) initiative which launched its framework in September. This will support capacity building and boost market adoption of the TNFD recommendations for nature-related risk management and disclosure. The TNFD recommendations enable businesses and financial institutions to report and act on their nature-related risks, impacts, dependencies, and opportunities, with the ultimate aim of supporting the realignment of global financial flows towards nature positive outcomes.  
  • At COP28, the UK will be hosting the 10 Point Plan for Financing Biodiversity Ministerial Stocktake. Here the government will launch the 10 Point Plan (10PP) stocktake dashboard – reviewing positive trends and direction of progress against the 10 points of the plan to ensure that finance flows towards nature recovery.
  • Today we are launching the pilot of the Projects for Nature platform, a new pioneering partnership with the Council for Sustainable Business, Crowdfunder, and Accenture. This initiative will match corporate donations to nature recovery projects across England which are selected by Defra, Natural England and Environment Agency. It will link up businesses who have shown leadership in addressing their nature impact, such as Lloyd’s Banking Group and Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks, with nature recovery projects that best align with our domestic and international environmental commitments. To view the platform, visit:  
  • We announced today that we will continue to support the work of the High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People through a new “Ocean Champion” role, whilst continuing our leadership of the Global Ocean Alliance. The two coalitions have also agreed to work in partnership supporting countries to implement 30by30.  
  • The UK has endorsed and joined a number of initiatives at COP28 which elevate the role of nature in global climate  action. This includes: the Coral Reef Breakthrough, Mangrove Breakthrough Declaration, the High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy Joint Declaration on Ocean and Climate action and joining the Mangrove Alliance for Climate initiative.  

Forest Risk Commodities  

  • Between 2016 and 2018, WWF estimate that around 21 million hectares – an area almost the size of the UK – was required each year to meet UK demand for seven forest-risk commodities (FRCs) alone.   
  • The Forest Risk Commodities Scheme will be introduced through provisions in Schedule 17 of the Environment Act 2021.  Secondary regulation to operationalise these provisions will be laid when parliamentary time allows.  This new due diligence legislation requires regulated businesses to establish and implement a due diligence system for any regulated commodity, and any products derived from them, that they use in their UK commercial activities  
  • The full list of commodities in scope is as follows: Non-dairy Cattle products (beef and leather), cocoa, palm, and soy.  
  • Organisations using these commodities in UK supply chains with a global turnover of over £50m are in scope of the regulations.  
  • Organisations whose use of the regulated commodities does not exceed the annual volume threshold of 500 tonnes may submit an exemption.   
  • Legislation follows a consultation in 2021 on the implementation of the regulations. The consultation outcome informed policy decisions on the commodities in scope, thresholds and exemptions for businesses, enforcement of the regulations, a grace period and variable monetary penalties   
  • Organisations (whether in scope or as suppliers or service providers to organisations in scope) will have a grace period to prepare for regulation before the beginning of the first reporting period.  
  • Unlimited Variable Monetary Penalties will be in place as part of civil sanctions 

On 30by30:      

  • The government will work with landowners, farmers, land managers and wider partners to further develop our approach to delivering 30by30 in England.  
  • Following publication of the 30by30 map, we will work with these partners to finalise our 30by30 criteria and develop more detailed guidance by summer 2024.   
  • Contributions to the 30by30 target will be voluntary, and do not represent any new management requirements or designation.  
  • To view the 30by30 map and read the accompanying documents, visit:

Marine Net Gain:     

  • Marine Net Gain is an opportunity to leave our environment in a better place and to reverse the biodiversity decline/crisis in our seas. It compliments and builds on other policies but uniquely seeks to deliver a net gain improvement in the marine environment.   
  • We have published the Government Response to the consultation on the principles of Marine Net Gain, held in 2022. This applies in English waters only.   
  • Government has listened to feedback from the consultation and will now take forward the agreed high-level principles in the next phase of policy development. Decisions on the implementation approach for MNG, will be taken during the next phase of policy development following additional evidence collection, impact assessment and stakeholder engagement.   
  • We will seek to ensure that MNG is simple to follow and operates seamlessly with Biodiversity Net Gain which from January 2024 will apply above the low water line and on land. Where a new development straddles this line there will be no requirement to double up on net gain measures.   
  • The full government response can be seen here.   

On blue carbon habitat restoration:    

  • The additional £640,000 will help drive investment flows from the private sector towards nature through the development of a Saltmarsh Code. This code will allow saltmarsh carbon to be marketed and traded as a carbon offset.    
  • This funding is for Phase 2 of the development of the UK Saltmarsh Code, the first phase (which ended in January 2023) was funded through Defra’s Natural Environment Investment Readiness Fund.    
  • This funding will also create a pipeline of restoration projects in key estuarine and coastal habitats by increasing the capacity of the Restoring Meadow, Marsh and Reef initiative (ReMeMaRe).    
  • This funding will also improve the blue carbon evidence base, helping us to fill the gaps identified by the UK Blue Carbon Evidence Partnership’s Evidence Needs Statement (published in June 2023).

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Ace Breaking News

BREAKING BARBADOS REPORT: PM Urges UK To Pay $4.9 Trillion In Reparations For Transatlantic Slave Trade


AceBreakingNews – Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley has urged the UK to pay $4.9 trillion in reparations for the transatlantic slave trade, in a speech in London on Wednesday.


Ace Press News From Cutting Room Floor: Published: Dec.09: 2023: RT Daily News: TELEGRAM Ace Daily News Link

She added that talks over how this debt should be repaid will “be difficult and will take time.”

“We’re not expecting that the reparatory damages will be paid in a year, or two, or five because the extraction of wealth and the damages took place over centuries. But we are demanding that we be seen and that we are heard,” the prime minister said.

A day earlier, Mottley met with UK Foreign Secretary David Cameron to discuss bilateral relations between the countries, but would not reveal details about Cameron’s position on Britain’s slavery-related debt to the media, saying only that she hopes “the foreign secretary will take his lead from his majesty” on the issue.

King Charles has acknowledged Britain’s role in the slave trade, publicly expressing his regret over the injustice and suffering that slavery inflicted, while making no reference to financial reparations. In a speech in Ghana in 2018, Charles condemned slavery, calling it an “appalling atrocity” and “profound injustice” that can never be forgotten.

In Rwanda last June, Charles said it is important to “acknowledge our past,” including slavery, which he called a “painful period.”

The British Empire traded an estimated 3.1 million Africans, of whom 2.7 million were sent to Britain’s colonies in the Caribbean, North and South America, and other places over a period of 150 years. The slave trade was abolished by Britain’s Parliament in 1807.

Since becoming the leader of the island nation in 2018, Mottley has been an influential voice on the legacy of colonialism and has demanded reparations for the damage done by the empire.

Citing figures from a report by the Brattle Group, which analyzed the cost of the transatlantic slave trade, she said the UK owes $24 trillion in reparations to 14 countries affected by transatlantic slavery, Spain owes $17.1 trillion, France – $9.2 trillion, and the Netherlands – $4.86 trillion.

“These numbers, if taken out of context, can appear to be staggering. But in relation to the total wealth accumulated over a period of time, the numbers are actually minuscule,” Mottley said.

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak publicly declined to apologize or offer reparations for the slave trade in April, saying that “trying to unpick our history is not the right way forward and is not something we will focus our energies on.”

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