The Reporter
Issue 491, 16 June 2003
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In the news

Police have discovered that the 'book ripper' wanted for art thefts across Europe was a gardener from Leeds. University librarian and keeper of the Brotherton collection Jan Wilkinson joined BBC Look North and Calendar to describe the problems of keeping libraries secure. Speaking to BBC Look North, she said: "If he wants to remove one page from a very large tome, then to expect a national library with a lot of users to check for one missing page is asking too much."

Gordon Brown has said 'no' to the Euro for now but several things will have to change if the UK economy is to meet the five tests. The long-term fixed-rate mortgages found in many EU countries are less flexible than the range available in the UK. Professor Malcolm Sawyer from Leeds University business school shared his prediction with BBC national news: "I think there may be a move towards fixed interest mortgages. At the moment there is quite a mixture."

The Financial Times approached Leeds when they wanted to know 'why the sky is blue'. Dr Frances Drake from geography outlined how 'blue light is preferentially scattered forward and backward by atmospheric gas molecules such as oxygen. So when we look away from the sun we see this blue light'.

Dr Roger Martlew and a team of students from the school of continuing education had just said goodbye to a film crew from BBC Look North when they unearthed a 3,000 year old skeleton of a child at an archaeological dig near Kettlewell, (see Reporter 487). BBC Look North and BBC Radio Leeds both interviewed Dr Martlew to find out more about the remains of a child: "The cause of death may not show up but evidence of malnutrition – wear patterns on the teeth – can tell us a a lot about the life of this child. No one expected anything quite like this," he told them.

Speculation over David Beckham’s future continued with rumours that several major European teams might be interested in the Manchester United player. A move to Real Madrid could be beneficial to both player and team, explained Dr Bill Gerrard from Leeds University business school in the Sunday Times: "Real Madrid’s philosophy is that stars are stars. The club’s marketing thrust is geared towards maximising the return on investment they have made in those outstanding players. "

BBC Radio Leeds talked to Professor Clive Walker about the virtual reconstruction of crimes and other topics discussed at the international conference 'The 21st century court' organised by the department of law. Speakers at the conference included the judge in charge of modernisation Lord Justice Brooke. Professor Walker said: “New communications technologies are having major impacts on litigation and the very nature of the courts.” BBC Radio 4’s ‘Law in Action’ and BBC Radio Leeds will broadcast more about these subjects later in the year.

The fiftieth birthday of the Parkinson chimes (see Reporter 490) was covered by the BBC and local papers. University electrician Chris Nicholson described the history of the bells and why the chimes that echo across campus were only made possible by a donation. "In early 1952 some money was donated towards something they couldn't afford and they decided on some bells. They were cast in 1952 and bought in to operation on 14th May 1953 and turned on by the Duchess of Kent," he said during an interview on BBC Radio Leeds. Asked what it felt like being at the top of the 90-foot tower, he added: "It's very hair-raising!"

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