News in brief

RBS BACKS LONDON

The Royal Bank of Scotland's head of group economics has defended London against critics who insist it is a "drain on the rest of the UK".

The UK would not benefit if economic growth in London was constrained as some have suggested, Stephen Boyle said. It comes after Scotland's First Minister, Alex Salmond, described London as a "dark star", echoing the views of UK Business Secretary Vince Cable, who said London is becoming "a giant suction machine draining the life out of the rest of the country".

Mr Boyle refused to take a stance on Scottish independence and did not address any one critic in particular, but firmly set himself against those who attack London's economic strength.

FIONA'S FREEDOM

Antiques Roadshow presenter Fiona Bruce has been awarded the Freedom of the City of London.

The broadcaster was given the honour to recognise her involvement with Refuge, the national domestic violence charity, and International Women's Day. The freedom is thought to date back to 1237 and has been used to celebrate the recipients' contribution to public life.

Bruce, also a news presenter, was given the honour at the Guildhall in the City.

FLOOD SCHEME PLEDGE

Towns and villages battered by the winter storms and floods are among 50 areas across the UK getting a share of £27.7 million of Government funding for coastal communities.

Ministers said the cash would support more than 4,000 jobs and create some 1,000 apprenticeships and training places, bringing the total number of jobs supported by the Coastal Communities Fund in its first two years to 6,500.

And they said that bids for coastal flood protection repair will be prioritised in the next round of the fund, which will support £64 million of projects over the next three years.

TUBE INJURY PROBED

An incident in which a Tube traveller was dragged along a platform after her scarf caught in a train door is being officially investigated.

The woman, whose scarf was wrenched off by the train, suffered back and head injuries in the incident at Holborn Underground station in central London.

Arriving at Holborn she had moved towards a Piccadilly line train but stopped as she realised the doors were closing. But as she stopped " the end of the scarf that she was wearing continued to swing towards the train and became trapped between the closing doors" and she was "dragged along the platform by her scarf as the train started to move", the Rail Accident Investigation Branch said.

1991 MURDER HUNT

A 49-year-old man is being hunted by police after failing to answer bail in connection with the disappearance of a young mother more than 20 years ago.

The man, whom West Midlands Police are not naming, was arrested in December on suspicion of abduction and murder by detectives investigating the disappearance of Nicola Payne in Coventry in 1991.

A force spokesman said: "Police in Coventry are actively seeking a man after he failed to answer his bail yesterday." He added that the investigation into the missing 18-year-old mother-of-one was "dynamic" and continuing.

EX-HEAD FACES JAIL

A former headmaster who preyed on boarding school pupils for sex has been warned he could face life in prison.

Bryan Greenhalgh, 63, of Suffield in Norfolk, pleaded guilty to 13 counts of indecent assault and one count of buggery at Norwich Crown Court, Norfolk Police said. The charges related to eight male victims under the age of 16.

The majority of the offences took place at two former independent schools in north Norfolk and Lincolnshire between 1976 and 1984.