The News Matrix: Tuesday 27 September 2011

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Whitehall uses texts to avoid scrutiny

Whitehall departments routinely contact corporate lobbyists about government business using text messages as a way to slip through the net of Freedom of Information requests. Political advisers and ministers use texts, according to a PR consultant at a major transport company. MORE

Toddler falls three storeys to his death

A two-year-old boy died after falling from the third-floor balcony of a building in Torquay. The boy fell from the block of flats on a housing estate in the resort town on Friday evening. He was taken to hospital where he died. Police said the death is not being treated as suspicious.

Amanda Knox called a ‘she-devil’ in court

Amanda Knox, the US student convicted of killing her room-mate, was a “she-devil”, an Italian court heard yesterday. Knox is appealing against her conviction for the murder of Meredith Kercher in 2007. MORE

Kenyans mourn Nobel prize winner

Nobel Peace laureate Wangari Maathai, a national hero in Kenya, has died from cancer at a Nairobi hospital, aged 71. Remembered by many Kenyans as a fierce human rights campaigner, she was better known internationally for her conservation work.

Prices for terraced homes surge in UK

The price of a terraced home has risen by more than any other type of property over the last 10 years, says Halifax. Terraced home values have risen an average of £118 a week in the past decade with a typical terraced home increasing by 68 per cent, from £89,843 in 2001 to £151,332 in 2011.

Lockerbie case is closed, says minister

The Lockerbie bombing case is “closed”, Libya’s transitional Justice Minister said last night. Mohammed al-Alagi noted that the only man convicted, Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, was freed on compassionate grounds and said there was no reason to keep dragging the case into court. His remarks come after the Scottish authorities sought help from Libya in catching the perpetrators.

Strauss-Kahn asks judge to drop suit

The former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn has asked a judge to dismiss a civil suit filed by a maid who accused him of sexual assault, saying he was immune from such a suit under international law. His lawyers also argued that the allegations impeded the IMF “at a time of worldwide financial crisis and instability.”

Neasden victims died from fumes

Six people killed in a house fire died from inhalation of fumes, post mortem examinations found yesterday. Mother Muna Elmufatish, 41, and five children perished in the blaze in the early hours of Saturday. Scotland Yard said an inquest into the deaths would open at 9am at Barnet Coroner’s Court today.

Trekker lives out his own disaster movie

An American inspired to embark on a solo trek after watching 127 Hours – a film about a man who cut off his own arm after being trapped by a boulder – crawled for four days across the Utah desert after breaking a leg. Amos Richards, 64, fell 10 feet during his trek and was eventually found by rangers. MORE

‘Chick lit’ sales figures plummet

Sales of recent novels by “chick-lit” authors have fallen by 20 per cent on their previous mass-market publications over comparative sales periods, The Bookseller has found, leading to speculation that the public may be tiring of the genre. Marian Keyes’s latest novel has sold 42 per cent less than her previous book. MORE

3D failing to wow UK’s cinemagoers

Cinemagoers say 3D adds little to the movie experience in a poll that indicates the format is failing to win over audiences. Just 22 per cent of respondents to a survey by Yougov believed 3D improved a film; 28 per cent felt it made no difference – and 19 per cent thought it made it worse. MORE

‘Jellyfish’ scupper swimmer’s crossing

Marathon swimmer Diana Nyad was nursing her wounds after being forced to abandon her Cuba to Florida swim. Ms Nyad quit after 40 hours swimming in waters infested with sharks, barracudas and man o’ wars – jellyfish-like creatures with stinging tentacles. She had been warned that another sting could be deadly. MORE

Floyd’s porker flies again for reissue

Pink Floyd’s famous flying pig has floated above Battersea power station, almost 35 years after the original cover shoot. The image featured on the sleeve of the album Animals and has been restaged to mark the reissue of the band’s back catalogue. Record bosses had to order a new inflatable pig because the original was found to be leaky.