List of terrorist incidents in Great Britain

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The following is a list of terrorist incidents in Great Britain, including incidents where people were arrested under the terrorist laws and later released without charge, but excluding events in Northern Ireland – a part of the United Kingdom.

Attacks involving violence or serious threat to life[edit]


  • 1971, 12 January: Two bombs exploded at the house of government minister Robert Carr. This attack was one of 25 carried out by the Angry Brigade between August 1970 and August 1971. The Bomb Squad was established at Scotland Yard in January 1971 to target the group, and they were apprehended in August of that year.[1][2]
  • 1971, 31 October: A bomb exploded in the Post Office Tower in London causing extensive damage but no injuries. The "Kilburn Battalion" of the IRA claimed responsibility for the explosion.[3]
  • 1972, 22 February: The Official Irish Republican Army killed seven civilians in the Aldershot bombing.
  • 1972, 19 September: The group Black September posted a letter bomb to the Israeli embassy in London killing an Israeli diplomat.[4]
  • 1973: The Provisional IRA exploded a car bomb in the street outside the Old Bailey. A shard of glass is preserved as a reminder, embedded in the wall at the top of the main stairs.
  • 1973, 10 September: The Provisional IRA set off bombs at London's King's Cross Station and Euston Station injuring 21 people.[5]
  • 1974, 4 February: Eight soldiers and 4 civilians killed by the Provisional IRA in the M62 coach bombing.
  • 1974, 17 June: The Provisional IRA planted a bomb which exploded at the Houses of Parliament, causing extensive damage and injuring 11 people.[6]
  • 1974, 5 October: Guildford and Woolwich pub bombings by the Provisional IRA left 4 off duty soldiers and a civilian dead and 44 injured.
  • 1974, 22 October: A bomb planted by the Provisional IRA explodes in London injuring 3 people.[7]
  • 1974, 14 November: James Patrick McDade, Lieutenant in the Birmingham Battalion, of the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) was killed in a premature explosion whilst planting a bomb at the Coventry telephone exchange in 1974.
  • 1974, 21 November: The Birmingham pub bombings, 21 killed and 182 injured.
  • 1974, 18 December: Bomb planted by IRA in the run up to Christmas in one of Bristol's most popular shopping districts explodes injuring 17 people.[8]
  • 1975, 8 August: IRA detonate a bomb in the Caterham Arms pub in Surrey, 400yds from the army barracks in Caterham. 25 injured and 8 seriously injured.[9]
  • 1975, 27 November: IRA gunmen assassinated political activist and television personality Ross McWhirter.[10]
  • 1975, 20 December: The Ulster Defence Association (UDA) bombed Biddy Mulligan's pub in the Kilburn area of London. Five people were injured. It said it bombed the pub because it was frequented by Irish republican sympathizers.[11]
  • 1978, 17 December: Another bomb planted by the IRA aimed at the Christmas shoppers in Bristol takes out the department store Maggs injuring seven people.[12]
  • 1979, 17 February: The Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) bombed two pubs frequented by Catholics in Glasgow, Scotland. Both pubs were wrecked and a number of people were wounded. It said it bombed the pubs because they were used for Irish republican fundraising.[13]
  • 1979, 30 March: Airey Neave killed when a car bomb exploded under his car as he drove out of the Palace of Westminster car park. The Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) claimed responsibility for the killing.



  • 1990 16 May: Wembley IRA detonated a bomb underneath a minibus killing Sgt Charles Chapman (The Queen's Regiment) and injuring another soldier.
  • 1990 1 June: Lichfield City railway station 1 soldier killed and 2 injured in a shooting by the Provisional Irish Republican Army
  • 1990 20 July: The IRA detonated a bomb at the London Stock Exchange causing damage to the building. Nobody was injured in the blast.[17]
  • 1990 30 July: Ian Gow MP killed by a car bomb planted by the IRA while at his home in Sussex.
  • 1991 7 February: The IRA launched three mortar shells at the rear garden of 10 Downing Street.
  • 1991 18 February: A bomb exploded at Victoria Station. One man killed and 38 people injured.
  • 1992 28 February: A bomb exploded at London Bridge station injuring 29 people.
  • 1992 10 April: Baltic Exchange bombing: A large bomb exploded in St Mary Axe in the City of London. The bomb was contained in a large white truck and consisted of a fertilizer device wrapped with a detonation cord made from Semtex. It killed three people: Paul Butt, 29, Baltic Exchange employee Thomas Casey, 49, and 15-year-old Danielle Carter. The bomb also caused damage to surrounding buildings, many of which were also badly damaged by the Bishopsgate bombing the following year. The bomb caused £800 million worth of damage, £200 million more than the total damaged caused by the 10,000 explosions that had occurred during the Troubles in Northern Ireland up to that point.[18]
  • 1992 25 August: The IRA planted three fire bombs in Shrewsbury, Shropshire. Bombs were placed in Shoplatch, The Charles Darwin Centre and Shrewsbury Castle, the latter causing the most damage as the castle housed the Shropshire Regimental Museum and many priceless historical artifacts were lost and damaged by fire and smoke. No fatalities or injuries were recorded.
  • 1992 12 October: A device exploded in the gents' toilet of the Sussex Arms public house in Covent Garden killing one person and injuring four others.
  • 1992 16 November: IRA planted a bomb at the Canary Wharf, but was spotted by security guards. The bomb was deactivated safely.
  • 1992 3 December: The IRA exploded two bombs in central Manchester, injuring 65 people.[19]
  • 1993 20 March: Warrington bomb attacks. The first attack, on a gasworks, created a huge fireball but no casualties, but the second attack on Bridge Street killed two children and injured many other people. The attacks were conducted by the IRA.
  • 1993 24 April: IRA detonated a huge truck bomb in the City of London at Bishopsgate, It killed journalist Ed Henty, injured over 40 people, and causing approximately £1 billion worth of damage,[18] including the destruction of St Ethelburga's church, and serious damage to Liverpool St. Tube Station. Police had received a coded warning, but were still evacuating the area at the time of the explosion. The insurance payments required were so enormous, that Lloyd's of London almost went bankrupt under the strain, and there was a crisis in the London insurance market. The area had already suffered damage from the Baltic Exchange bombing the year before. (see 1993 Bishopsgate bombing)
  • 1994 July: A car-bomb outside the Israeli embassy in London injured fourteen.[15]
  • 1994 27 July: A car-bomb outside Balfour House in London, home to a Jewish charity, injuring five.[15]
  • 1994 13 August: 2.5 lbs of Semtex packed into a bicycle left outside Woolworths in Bognor Regis, exploded damaging 15 shops. A similar bomb found in nearby Brighton.[20]
  • 1995 24 January: The editor of the Des Pardes, Tarsem Singh Purewal, was shot and killed near to the newspaper's Southall office.[21]
  • 1996 9 February: The IRA bombed the South Quay area of London, killing two people. (see 1996 Docklands bombing)
  • 1996 15 February: A 5 lb bomb placed in a telephone box disarmed by Police on the Charing Cross Road.
  • 1996 18 February: An improvised high explosive device detonated prematurely on a bus travelling along Aldwych in central London, killing Edward O'Brien, the IRA operative transporting the device and injuring eight others.
  • 1996 15 June: The Manchester bombing when the IRA detonated a 1500 kg bomb which heavily damaged the Arndale shopping centre and injured 206 people.
  • 1997 March: The IRA exploded two bombs in relay boxes near Wilmslow railway station, thereby causing great disruption to rail and road services, in Wilmslow and the surrounding area.
  • 1999 17 April, 24 April, 30 April: David Copeland set off three nail bombs in London targeting the black, Bangladeshi and gay communities respectively, killing 3 and injuring 129. Convicted of murder on 30 June 2000.
Refer also to the list of IRA terrorist incidents presented to Parliament between 1980 and 1994, listed halfway down the page here


Memorial in London's Hyde Park to the victims of the Islamist 7 July bombings.


  • 2013 Pavlo Lapshyn attacks. On 29 April, Lapshyn, a Ukrainian student, stabbed Mohammed Saleem, a Birmingham resident to death. He later admitted to police that he wished to start a "race war".[26] Lapshyn later detonated a home-made bomb outside a mosque in Walsall on 21 June. 150 homes were evacuated but no person was injured.[26] On 28 May Lapshyn detonated a second home-made bomb near a mosque in Wolverhampton, and attacked a mosque in Tipton with an improvised explosive device containing nails on 12 July. Friday prayers were delayed that day, and so his intended victims were still inside. Laphsyn was later sentenced to serve a minimum of 40 years.[27][28][29]
  • 2013 22 May: A British soldier, Lee Rigby, was murdered in an attack in Woolwich by Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale, two Islamist extremists armed with a handgun and a number of bladed implements. Both men were sentenced to life imprisonment, with Adebolajo given a whole life order and Adebowale ordered to serve at least 45 years.[30]

Prevented, failed or aborted attacks[edit]

These are attacks which could have constituted a threat to life had they worked or been large enough. Does not include attacks that were merely at a talking stage and were not actually in operation.

  • 1985: Police found 10 grenades, seven petrol bombs and two detonators at the home of former Group Development Director for the British National Party Tony Lecomber after he was injured by a nailbomb that he was carrying to the offices of the Workers' Revolutionary Party. Convicted under the Explosive Substances Act 1883.
  • 1993 23 October: In Reading, Berkshire, an IRA bomb exploded at a signal post near the railway station, some hours after 5 lb (2 kg) of Semtex was found in the toilets of the station. The resulting closure of the railway line and evacuation of the station caused travel chaos for several hours, but no-one was injured.
  • 2000 1 June: Real IRA suspected of planting a high-explosive device attached to a girder under the south side of Hammersmith Bridge which detonated at 4.30am.[31]
  • 2000 17 November: Police arrested Moinul Abedin. His Birmingham house contained bomb-making instructions, equipment, and traces of the explosive HTMD. A nearby lock-up rented by Abedin contained 100 kg of the chemical components of HTMD.[32]
  • 2005 21 July: The 21 July 2005 London bombings, also conducted by four would-be suicide bombers on the public transport, whose bombs failed to detonate.
  • 2006 28 September: Talbot Street bomb-making haul
  • 2007 1 February: The 2007 Plot to behead a British Muslim soldier
  • 2007 29 June: 2007 London car bombs.
  • 2008 27 February: British police thwarted a suspected plot to kill Abdullah of Saudi Arabia during a state visit to Britain in the year 2007 a senior officer said.
  • 2012 June: Five Muslim extremists plotted to bomb an English Defence League rally in Dewsbury but arrived late and were arrested when returning to Birmingham. A sixth was also convicted.[33]
  • 2013 April: As part of Operation Pitsford 11 Muslim extremists are jailed for a plotting terror attack involving suicide Bombers.[34]

Given the nature of counter-terrorism, successes in preventing terrorist attacks in the UK will not always come to light, or not be as heavily promoted as intelligence failures. However, during the Police advocacy of 90 day detention during the Terrorism Act 2006 they produced documents listing all the cases about which they could not go into details.[35]

Arrests, detentions, and other incidents related to the Terrorism Acts[edit]

These are cases where either the Terrorism Acts were invoked, or which the authorities alleged were terrorist in nature at the time. It includes plots that were foiled at an early stage before any materials were actually assembled as well as totally innocent suspects.

  • 2003 5 January: Wood Green ricin plot, where police arrested six Algerian men accused of manufacturing ricin to use for a poison attack on the London underground. No poison was found,[36][37] and all men were acquitted of all terror charges, except for Kamel Bourgass who stabbed four police officers during his arrest in Manchester several days later. He was convicted of the murder of the officer he killed (the others he stabbed survived). He was also convicted of plotting to poison members of the public with ricin and other poisons. Two of the suspects in the plot were subsequently convicted of possessing false passports.[38]
  • 2003 October: Andrew Rowe arrested in Dover after being detained as he entered the Channel Tunnel in France.[39] Convicted as a "global terrorist" and sentenced to 15 years in prison on 23 September 2005 on the basis of traces of explosives on a pair of socks and a code translation book.[40]
  • 2004 30 March: Seven men arrested in West Sussex in possession of 600 kg of ammonium nitrate fertilizer, as part of Operation Crevice.
  • 2004 3 August: Fourteen men arrested, but only eight charged in relation to the 2004 Financial buildings plot following the leak of the identity of an Al-Qaeda double-agent. The men possessed detailed plans for attacking financial buildings in the US, but no actual bomb-making equipment. Their leader, Dhiren Barot, pleaded guilty at his trial on 12 October 2006, and was imprisoned for life.
  • 2004 24 September: Four men arrested in the Holiday Inn in Brent Cross trying to buy red mercury, a mythical substance which could purportedly be used to construct a nuclear bomb, from a newspaper reporter.[41] One man was released three days later,[42] while the other three were cleared at their trial on 25 July 2006,[43] during which the jury was told that "whether red mercury does or does not exist is irrelevant".[44]
  • 2005 22 July: The Metropolitan Police killed Jean Charles de Menezes, shooting him seven times in the head at close range on a train over fears of increasingly suspicious behaviour as part of counter-terrorism measure Operation Kratos.
  • 2005 28 July: David Mery arrested at Southwark tube station on suspicion of terrorism for wearing a jacket "too warm for the season" and carrying a bulky rucksack. All charges were dropped on 31 August.[45] It took four more years for the police to apologise for the "unlawful arrest, detention and search of [his] home".[46]
  • 2005 28 September: Walter Wolfgang, who had been ejected from the Labour Party Conference, was briefly held under Terrorism Act 2000 powers when he attempted to go back in.
  • 2005 22 December: Abu Bakr Mansha, described by his barrister as an "utter incompetent", was accused of planning to murder a British soldier who had served in the Iraq War, and convicted under the Terrorism Act for possessing a document that was "likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism". He was sentenced to 6 years.
  • 2006 2 June: The 2 June 2006 Forest Gate raid (on a house in Forest Gate) saw the arrest of two suspects, one who was shot in the shoulder, on charges of conspiring to release a chemical weapon in the form of suicide vest. The suspects were cleared of suspicion and released days later.
  • 2006 10 August: The 2006 transatlantic aircraft plot to blow up 10 planes flying from Heathrow saw the arrest of 24 people from their homes in Britain, chaos at the airports as security measures were put in place and numerous high-level statements from US and UK officials. 8 people were put on trial, and 3 found guilty of conspiracy to murder. It was shown at their trial how bottles of liquid could be made into effective bombs. Since this incident, carriage of liquids in hand luggage on aircraft has been restricted to very small amounts. Rashid Rauf, suspected to have been the link between the UK plotters and Pakistan, escaped to Pakistan where he was arrested, but escaped again on his way to an extradition hearing. It was reported that he was killed in a US airstrike in North Waziristan in November 2008.[47]
  • 2006 23 August: The 2006 Cheetham Hill terrorism arrests, where four men were arrested in the Manchester vicinity over the course of a month, and charged with financing terrorism.
  • 2006 1 September: The Jameah Islameah School in Sussex was cordoned off for over three weeks and searched by a hundred police officers. Twelve men were arrested as part of the operation as they ate in a Chinese restaurant in London.
  • 2007 1 November: Police searching for indecent images of children arrested British People's Party local organiser Martyn Gilleard in Goole, East Riding of Yorkshire under the Terrorism Act, over explosives found in his home. He was subsequently charged with possession of material for terrorist purposes and collection of information useful to a terrorist, and also pleaded guilty to possessing 39,000 indecent images. He was jailed for 16 years.[48][49][49][50][51]
  • 2008 14 May: The Nottingham Two were arrested and detained for six days under the Terrorism Act 2000. A postgraduate student had downloaded a 140-page English translation of an Al-Qaeda document from the United States Department of Justice website for his PhD research on militant Islam. He sent it to a friend in the Modern Language department, for printing. Both were cleared of terrorism-related offences, but the friend was immediately re-arrested on immigration grounds.[52][53][54][55]
  • 2008 14 September: Oxford graduate Stephen Clarke arrested after someone thought they saw him taking a photograph of a sealed man-hole cover outside the central public library in Manchester. He was arrested under section 41 of the Terrorism Act 2000, held for 36 hours while his house and computer were searched, and then released without charge. No photographs of man-hole covers were found.[56]
  • 2009 13 February: 9 men arrested on the M65 motorway under section 40 of the Terrorism Act 2000. 6 were kept hand-cuffed in the back of a van for seven hours. The remaining 3 were detained for six days. No one was charged. [7]
  • On 19 September 2011 West Midlands Police arrested a woman who lived in the Alum Rock area of Birmingham. Salma Kabal, 22, appeared in court on 16 November 2011 accused of failing to inform police that her husband, Ashik Ali, planned to kill himself. The official charge was that she “knew or believed might be of material assistance in securing the apprehension, prosecution or conviction of another person for an offence involving the commission, preparation or instigation of an act of terrorism".[57]
  • On 15 November 2011 West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit arrested four people at their homes who were from Sparkhill Birmingham, on suspicion of conducting terrorist offences. The four men appeared in court in Westminster London on 19 November 2011 charged with terrorism offences. They were named as Khobaib Hussain, Ishaaq Hussain and Shahid Kasam Khan, all 19, and Naweed Mahmood Ali, 24. They were charged with fundraising for terrorist purposes and for travelling to Pakistan for terrorist training.[58]
  • 2012 28 June: The two men, aged 18 and 32, were arrested at separate residential addresses in east London, by officers from the Metropolitan Police Counter-Terrorism Command, at 7am on Thursday. It was believed the men were involved in a bomb plot concerning the London 2012 Summer Olympic Games. A Scotland Yard spokesman said: "At approximately 07:00 hrs today, Thursday June 28, officers from the counter-terrorism command arrested two men under the Terrorism Act 2000 on suspicion of the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism. The men were arrested at separate residential addresses in east London. Both addresses are currently being searched under the Terrorism Act 2000".[59]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "1971: British minister's home bombed". BBC News. 12 January 1971. Retrieved 8 May 2010. 
  2. ^ Bright, Martin (3 February 2002). "Look back in anger". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 8 May 2010. 
  3. ^ Bomb explodes in Post Office tower On this day report by the BBC
  4. ^ Parcel bomb attack on Israeli embassy On this day report by the BBC
  5. ^ Bomb blasts rock central London On this Day report by the BBC
  6. ^ IRA bombs parliament On this day report by the BBC
  7. ^ Bomb blast in London club On this Day report by the BBC
  8. ^ [1] Report
  9. ^ Robert Bartlett and Terry Waterfield. "Surrey Constabulary: Part 3: Policing Change: 1951-1975". Retrieved 22 November 2014. 
  10. ^ "1975: TV presenter Ross McWhirter shot dead". BBC News. 27 November 1975. 
  11. ^ "Bomb in pub - City police hold 4". Evening Times, 20 December 1975.
  12. ^ "Picture and brief report.". Flickr. Retrieved 22 November 2014. 
  13. ^ Wood, Ian S. Crimes of Loyalty: A History of the UDA. Edinburgh University Press, 2006. p.329
  14. ^ "A bomb blast rocks the ANC London office - South African History Online". Retrieved 22 November 2014. 
  15. ^ a b c Alexander, Y. (2002). Combating terrorism: Strategies of ten countries. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan. p. 206.
  16. ^ Animal activists bomb Downing Street On the day report by the BBC
  17. ^ IRA bombs Stock Exchange On this Day report by the BBC.
  18. ^ a b De Baróid, Ciarán (2000). Ballymurphy And The Irish War. Pluto Press. p. 325. ISBN 0-7453-1509-7. 
  19. ^ IRA bombs Manchester On this Day report by the BBC.
  20. ^ [2] The Independent - Tuesday 16 August 1994.
  21. ^ Gunman kills Sikh newspaper editor Gunman kills Sikh newspaper editor.
  22. ^ "Bomb blast outside BBC". BBC News. 2001-03-04. Retrieved 2006-09-22. 
  23. ^ "Second blast at London post office". BBC News. 2001-05-06. 
  24. ^ "Car bombers rock west London". BBC News. 2001-08-03. 
  25. ^ "Bomb blast in Birmingham". BBC News. 2001-11-04. 
  26. ^ a b "Waging a one-man race war in Britain: Ukrainian killer is pictured on bus with nail bomb he left outside mosque as he admits murder of Muslim grandfather, 82". Daily Mail (London). 
  27. ^ "Terror killer Pavlo Lapshyn jailed for minimum of 40 years". West Midlands Police. 25 October 2013. 
  28. ^ Paul Owen and Conal Urquhart (22 May 2013). "Woolwich attack: government convenes emergency meeting". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 May 2013. 
  29. ^ Vikram Dodd. "Pavlo Lapshyn, the 'shy and polite' student turned terrorist". the Guardian. Retrieved 22 November 2014. 
  30. ^ "Lee Rigby murder: Adebolajo and Adebowale jailed". BBC News (BBC). 26 February 2014. Retrieved 26 February 2014. 
  31. ^ Tran, Mark (2000-06-01). "Dissident republicans suspected in Hammersmith bombing". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 2007-12-19. 
  32. ^ Morris, Steven (2002-02-28). "'Bomb factory' Muslim jailed for 20 years". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 2009-11-11. 
  33. ^ "Six admit planning to bomb English Defence League rally". BBC News. 30 April 2013. 
  34. ^ "Operation Pitsford: The 11 men". BBC News. 26 April 2013. 
  35. ^ "Man held after city centre blast". BBC News. 2008-05-22. Retrieved 2008-05-22. 
  36. ^ Fake Terror - Ricin Ring That Never Was
  37. ^ John Pike. "UK TERROR TRIAL FINDS NO TERROR". Retrieved 22 November 2014. 
  38. ^ T cabin gate "Ricin plotter jailed for policeman's murder". London: The Guardian. 2005-04-13. Retrieved 2007-12-19. 
  39. ^ "Man denies tunnel terror charges". BBC News. 2004-05-07. Retrieved 2007-12-19. 
  40. ^ Muir, Hugh (2005-09-24). "British Muslim convert jailed for terrorism offences". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 2007-12-18. 
  41. ^ Wilson, Jamie (2004-09-27). "Terror police arrest four over 'dirty bomb' newspaper sting". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 2007-12-18. 
  42. ^ "'Terror plot' suspect is released". BBC News. 2004-09-30. Retrieved 2007-12-19. 
  43. ^ "Trio cleared of red mercury plot". BBC News. 2006-07-25. Retrieved 2007-12-18. 
  44. ^ "Terror accused in 'mercury sting'". BBC News. 2006-04-25. Retrieved 2007-12-18. 
  45. ^ Mery, David (2005-09-22). "Suspicious behaviour on the tube". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 2007-12-18. 
  46. ^ David Mery, Innocent in London – ‘Suspicious behaviour on the tube’,, retrieved 2010-05-07 .
  47. ^ "UK militant 'killed in Pakistan'". BBC News. 22 November 2008. 
  48. ^ "Terror charge man to face trial". BBC News. 2007-11-08. Retrieved 2007-12-18. 
  49. ^ a b "Man held after 'explosives' find". BBC News. 2007-11-01. Retrieved 2007-12-18. 
  50. ^ "BPP ORGANISER CHARGED!". BPP. Archived from the original on 2008-01-02. Retrieved 2008-01-23. 
  51. ^ Brooke, Chris (2008-06-25). "Jailed for 16 years: Neo-Nazi paedophile found guilty of planning race war". London: Daily Mail. Retrieved 2008-08-25. 
  52. ^ Melanie Newman, Nottingham Scholar Held for Six Days Under Anti-Terror Law, Times Higher Education, 29 May 2008 [3]
  53. ^ Polly Curtis, Student Researching Al-Qaeda Tactics Held for Six Days, The Guardian, 24 May 2008 [4]
  54. ^ Lee Glendinning, It Really is Psychological Torture, The Guardian, 11 June 2008 [5]
  55. ^ Victim of State Islamaphobia Speaks Out, YouTube [6]
  56. ^ Kevin Duffy "Police Silent on DNA Demand". Channel M. 2008-12-18. Retrieved 2009-12-10. 
  57. ^ 'Suicide bomb plotter' told wife it was best they split up "Daily Telegraph online", Accessed 19-11-2011
  58. ^ Four Birmingham men remanded on terrorism charges "BBC News online", Accessed 19-11-2011
  59. ^ Gardham, Duncan; Hough, Andrew (29 June 2012). "London 2012 Olympics: Muslim converts held over 'Games plot'". The Daily Telegraph.