this is bbc news broadcasting to viewers in the uk and around the world. i'm geeta guru—murthy. our top stories... the british socialite ghislaine maxwell is found guilty by a jury in new york on five counts of grooming and trafficking teenage girls for abuse. maxwell procured the girls for the financier and convicted sex offenderjeffrey epstein. she faces the rest of her life behind bars. no matter who you are or what kind of circles you travel in, no matter how much money you have, no matter how many years have passed since the sexual abuse, justice is still possible. europe looks to build its defences against a new wave of covid infections, as the number of cases continues to surge. and afghanistan's former president
defends his decision to flee the countryjust before the taliban take—over, saying he did it to prevent the destruction of kabul. hello and welcome. the british socialite ghislaine maxwell has been found guilty of recruiting and trafficking young girls to be sexually abused by the late american financierjeffrey epstein. the 60—year—old was found guilty on five of the six counts she faced, including the most serious charge, that of sex trafficking a minor. maxwell faces spending the rest of her life in prison after she was found guilty by a jury in new york, but her lawyers say they are already preparing to appeal against the conviction. our north america correspondent aleem maqbool reports. court sketches show the moment ghislaine maxwell's victims
have waited decades for. after five days of deliberation, jurors decided she was guilty on five counts linked to the sexual abuse of teenagers. and it was four of her victims who helped put her behind bars. the court heard how ghislaine maxwell gained their trust. during their emotional testimony, they told the jury how she instructed them to give the late jeffrey epstein massages that turned sexual. all but one testified anonymously, using a pseudonym or just their first name. jane said maxwell participated in her encounters with epstein. "i was terrified and felt gross and ashamed. "when you're14, you have no idea what's going on," she said. kate said, after meeting epstein, maxwell asked her if she had fun, saying she was such a good girl and one of his favourites. and annie farmer, the only victim who publicly identified herself, said ghislaine maxwell gave her an unsolicited massage. she said, "i so badly wanted
to get off the table and have the massage be done." she's now said she's relieved at the verdict and that it shows even those with great power and privilege will be held accountable when they sexually abuse the young. defence lawyers attacked the accusers�* memories and motives, but that ultimately didn't help ghislaine maxwell. we firmly believe in ghislaine�*s innocence. obviously, we are very disappointed with the verdict. we have already started working on the appeal and we are confident that she will be vindicated. well, ghislaine maxwell will be sentenced at a later date, but it seems extremely likely that she'll spend the rest of her life behind bars — a finalfall from grace for the british former socialite who a jury here has decided wasn't just a bystander to the crimes ofjeffrey epstein, but was herself a predator and an active participant in the sexual abuse of teenagers.
police raids of epstein�*s homes showed the duo's jet—setting luxurious lifestyle. in this photo, the pair are seen relaxing at the queen's balmoral residence when prince andrew reportedly invited the couple to the estate. the staggering wealth on display from their opulent properties only highlighted how they used their power together over the years to lure, intimidate and silence everyone around them. house rules, including this manual, told staff to be deaf, dumb and blind, forbidding them from making eye contact with epstein. one of my clients said to me that she's been living in a metaphorical prison all of these years with the psychological fallout of the sexual abuse, the deep shame and embarrassment and trauma that she's experienced and now, ghislaine maxwell is going to experience a real prison where she will have a lot of time to think about the profound damage she has caused to so many girls and young women. ghislaine maxwell still faces a second trial for perjury, a charge which she denies.
aleem maqbool, bbc news, in new york. in 1994, liz stein was 21 years old, a student working in new york when she met ghislaine maxwell who introduced her to jeffrey epstein. she says the two of them assaultted her. she told radio 4 about her experience. some listeners may find her story distressing. i was working doing an internship at a well—known 5th ave retailer, and ghislaine maxwell came in one day, and i helped her. and she was just electrifying. you know, from almost the moment that we met, itjust seemed like we hit it off. she was absolutely magnetic, and we talked about several things while she was shopping that day. it was a really easy conversation
that i had with her, and when she was done shopping, i offered to deliver her packages to her, which is something that i would frequently do for high—end clients, but i had a hard and fast rule, and that was i didn't deliver to anyone personally, i would only drop off to hotel concierge or to doormen. so when i called to arrange to deliver her packages that evening, i was instructed to bring them to a hotel in midtown manhattan that was close by to the store, and i dropped them at the concierge, and when i arrived at the concierge, i was told that ghislaine was in the bar area, and that she was with someone that she wanted me to meet. so i went into the bar area,
and the person that she wanted me to meet was epstein, who she had described to me as her boss, her boyfriend, i wasn't really clear what his role was in her life. so i met epstein that evening, and that was the first time they assaulted me. at the hotel? yes. ghislaine maxwell's legal team was contacted by the bbc to put liz stein's accusations to them. we await a response. let's speak now to professor marci hamilton who is ceo and founder of the organisation child usa, who want to improve laws against child abuse in america and she was a consultant in the epstein victims compensation programme. thank you forjoining us. what is your reaction to the outcome yesterday? it your reaction to the outcome yesterday?— your reaction to the outcome esterda ? . , , . ., yesterday? it was such a relief. the e stein yesterday? it was such a relief. the epstein survivors _ yesterday? it was such a relief. the epstein survivors have _ yesterday? it was such a relief. the epstein survivors have been - yesterday? it was such a relief. the | epstein survivors have been through
so much, so much publicity and cruelty from prior prosecutors, that a verdict against the main organiser of his organisation that delivered these girls to him, that was really heartening. for these girls to him, that was really heartening-— heartening. for anyone who is a victim of these _ heartening. for anyone who is a victim of these crimes, - heartening. for anyone who is a victim of these crimes, they - heartening. for anyone who is a victim of these crimes, they go | victim of these crimes, they go through the abuse in the first place and then they have to relive it and go through further agonies if there is a legal process afterwards. can you explain to us, the people you speak to, how difficult that is. in this case in particular because the florida prosecutor via the prosecutor originally, their tactics were to take the side of epstein and to let him off and to grill them, the victims with really difficult questions. they were invalidated early. then you go through a number
of years, he is all over the front pages but they are not getting justice. finally they have justice in the form of maxwell, who was also abusing girls as well as delivering them. so it was a good day for them. there is obviously a potential appeal. i don't know if you have beenin appeal. i don't know if you have been in touch with any of the victims in this case and spoken to them about their reaction? at victims in this case and spoken to them about their reaction? at this oint, them about their reaction? at this point. survivors — them about their reaction? at this point, survivors are _ them about their reaction? at this point, survivors are pretty - them about their reaction? at this point, survivors are pretty much i point, survivors are pretty much used to the legal system of hurry up and wait, they know they have a good verdict. one of the good parts of the verdict is it is not across the board. the fact they were so careful that they took so much time and requested so many records and the jury said five out of six charges are guilty, that shows the court all thatis are guilty, that shows the court all that is a sensible verdict based on doing the right thing. so she is not
going to wind on appeal but they may have to wait. on the other hand, the good news is that she has to be in jail whilst she waits.— jail whilst she waits. tragically we see allegations, _ jail whilst she waits. tragically we see allegations, convictions - jail whilst she waits. tragically we see allegations, convictions for i jail whilst she waits. tragically we | see allegations, convictions for six abuse of children all over the world across all parts of society when you see these high profile cases, does it embolden survivors to come forward, because obviously it is an incredibly difficult thing to do. this is one of the things that child usa where is the most about that survivors are motivated to come forward to tell their stories, but justice is slow to catch up. so for many of the victims that are hearing this, what they need to understand is they need to talk to a lawyer first and find out their legal options before they step into the ring. the problem is if there is no
way for them to prosecute or follow a lawsuit, too often, especially powerful individuals, will see with them for either defamation or business interference. so it is heartening and it helps us with the movement to end the statute of limitations. but we are not there yet. limitations. but we are not there et. ., ., ., ., ~ yet. ceo and founder of the thank ou ve yet. ceo and founder of the thank you very much — yet. ceo and founder of the thank you very much indeed. _ covid rules are to be toughened up across a number of european countries. austria has revealed it plans to make vaccines mandatory for everyone over 14, with non compliance punishable with a 3000 euro fine every three months. germany has new restrictions on sports events and night clubs, while some countries have banned dancing and music. the restrictions come as more european countries have reported record numbers of infections and people are asked to be cautious ahead of new year celebrations. earlier we spoke to dr catherine smallwood, the world health organization's
senior emergency officer for europe. she says the omicron variant is causing a surge of cases in western europe, but it may not be as severe. we are seeing a very rapid increase in the number of new covid—i9 cases. of course we expected that anyway because of the holiday season, but with the rapid spread of omicron, we are seeing that very much accelerated, and that is especially in western europe, where we are seeing countries like the united kingdom, france, denmark, portugal, spain, italy, all seeing cases now outstripping what they have seen at any previous time during the pandemic. and it's early days yet, but that's significantly going to put health systems under pressure and lead to a lot of people being hospitalised, and it is going to lead to a lot of disruption. some breaking news on travel through europe. the french interior ministry
press office has updated their advice on british citizens travelling through france. european nationals have their main residence in france or in transit through france... these people are being affected. third country nationals and those with valid resident permits. in addition to these categories, the home office says british nationals legally resident in france will be exempt from the need of a residence permit. there is a big more coming in on here is that the uk nationals who reside in another eu country are third country nationals which doesn't allow them to transit through france. but a large number of british people are having difficulties in reaching their country of residence. i think this allows people to transit through france to reach another
european country residence at the moment. we will try and clarify that because it is fairly complex. there is some eurotunnel information making parts clear of the stop they had led the french government has requested positively for those transiting to return home to other european countries during the holiday weekend. apologies that was rather confusing. i think there is some flexibility now for people to travel through france to get home to other parts of europe over this holiday period. meanwhile coronavirus �*surge' hubs are being set up at nhs at hospitals in england to deal with a potential increase in admissions, caused by record daily cases of the omicron variant. eight sites will be able to treat around 100 patients each. at the same time the health secretary, sajid javid, says the supply of lateral flow tests will be tripled injanuary and february in a bid
to combat shortages. here's our health correspondent sophie hutchinson. st george's hospital in south west london, where workers started to build a nightingale hub. it's one of eight hospitals in england which will have these temporary units, aimed at caring for around 100 covid patients. there's great concern within the nhs and within government now that the number of cases is growing so fast that we have to plan for a scenario whereby the nhs cannot, in its current format, cope with those cases. i think the big concern is where do the staff come from to man those beds? there are also plans to make a further 4000 beds available in other places if needed. in a statement, the health secretary said... cases of covid—19 have been increasing sharply across the uk,
with the past week showing more than a 40% rise over the previous one. but many are still finding it hard to get tested. we thought we'd come to the local pharmacy to see if they've got any lateral flow tests, but you don't need to go in to see that they're out of stock. let's try this one. staff suggested we go down the road to another pharmacy. well, i got lucky. the pharmacist here does have a box of tests. he says in fact he gets a delivery every day, but as soon as people find out that he's got them they can run out in half an hourjust because of the sheer size of the demand for them. eve burke, a primary school teacher, has covid, along with her husband and two children. she's hoping to get back to work next tuesday, but can't find a ny lateral flow tests. i've been trying since yesterday, going on to the government website and refreshing hourly, to get lfts sent to our home because we can't go to a place to pick them up, and i've been
messaging friends asking if anybody has any spare that they can drop off, but the issue is everybody�*s in the same position. and if they have some lfts at home they are holding onto them themselves. the government agency which manages tests says it has had to pause supply when demand is very high. we do recognise that there are some difficulties across the country, both with pharmacies and with home testing requests. we do release and are continuing to release test slots for individuals so they should keep trying through the day. obviously as the christmas period subsides then the testing capacity should be more available to them. we do have good supplies and we will be endeavouring to get those to the right places. but with infection rates expected to continue to soar, keeping up with demand for tests is likely only to get harder. sophie hutchinson, bbc news. northern ireland's devolved government has decided to reduce
the self—isolation period for people with coronavirus from ten days to seven — provided they have negative lateral flow tests on the sixth and seventh days. the change will take effect tomorrow. the decision was made by ministers at a virtual meeting this morning. covid restrictions remain unchanged. the stormont executive will meet again in a week's time. the former president of afghanistan, ashraf ghani, has said he made a sudden decision to flee his country on august 15th, minutes after his security forces at the palace told him they could no longer protect him or the capital. in a conversation with the former british chief of defence staff, general sir nick carter for the bbc radio four�*s today programme, mr ghani said he had been made a scapegoat for afg hanistan�*s crisis. he said his only mistake was to trust his international partners, including the united states. our chief international correspondent, lyse doucet reports.
chaos in kabul. the upheaval of august. afghans, fleeing for the airport when the taliban swept in. even president ashraf ghani. he slipped away secretly, in a helicopter. in statements on social media, he said he did it to save kabul and his life. now, he has spoken about that day, and forces meant to protect him - the pps. what was your sort of memory of when you woke up that day? on the morning of that day, i had no inkling that by late afternoon i would be leaving. dr mohib, the national security advisor, with the chief of pps came and they said pps has collapsed. if i take a stand, they will all be killed. and they were not capable
of defending me, and dr mohib the us congress i think has recently asked john sopko, the us inspector general for afghanistan, to investigate allegations that when you left the country a certain amount of money went with you. i want to categorically state i did not take any money out of the country. the helicopters, in our first destination, were available for everybody to search. general carter was also a key player in efforts to find a different way out of this war. do you think if you'd stayed you would have been able to get them to understand? no. because, unfortunately, i was painted in total black. and all that came because we were never given the opportunity to sit down with them. it became an american issue, not an afghan issue. they erased us. there's a big "what if". what if the president had stayed?
many say a deal was all but done for an orderly transition. but once he left, the taliban moved in. either way, the taliban were back. and many blame the president, not just for what he did on august 15th, but what he didn't do in the months before. the blame is totally understandable. what they rightly blame me for, they have a total right, is i trusted in our international partnership and pursued that pact. all of us made a huge mistake in assuming that the patience of the international community would last. what matters now, afghanistan confronts the world's worst humanitarian crisis, in a world still struggling with the consequences of the taliban takeover. lyse doucet, bbc news. the james webb space telescope ——
launched on christmas day —— is starting to unfold its sunshield in a complex process involving hundreds of moving parts. our science editor rebecca morelle has the story. and lift off! the moment of launch for an astronomy mission like no other, as the james webb space telescope blasted off. then the rocket casing opened up, and the telescope was released into the darkness of space, with a million mile journey ahead. but, as it travels, it has a fiendishly difficult task to do — unfolding. it's so big, we didn't have any rocket that's big enough to launch it, you know, fully deployed. so, we had to build this telescope to be folded up, to fit inside the rocket. this is really, really difficult engineering. but, you know, nasa has never shied away from doing hard things. and so i have full confidence that it's going to work. unfurling the sun shield is the most difficult part of this process. it's enormous, the size of a tennis court. first, its two halves are lowered into position.
then the booms are deployed. the operation involves 400 pulleys, 400 metres of cabling and more than 100 release mechanisms that have to fire at exactly the right time. finally, the material is pulled taut, and the five layers of the sun shield, each as thin as a human hair, separate. the whole process has been rehearsed again and again on earth. but doing this in space will be nail—biting. it's made of floppy material, it has to be held on to by a series of pins, which release one by one, pull it out, make it tight, release another bit, pull it out again. until slowly, over days, you pull out this tennis court sized object. so, for many people working on the project, that's where the real nerves are. the sun shield protects the telescope from the heat and light of the sun. the difference between the hot and cold sides is huge — 300 degrees celsius. the telescope needs
to operate in the coldest and darkest conditions to see the most distant stars. for the first time, we'll be able to see all the way back to the time when these very first galaxies formed. and that will allow us to actually get images of them, verify that they are the very first galaxies, and then we can study how galaxies have evolved over the history of the universe. the telescope could also offer a giant leap in our search for life, offering a close—up look at distant worlds beyond our own solar system. webb will also be able to probe the atmospheres of planets around other stars, with far greater sensitivity and spectral resolution than we have been able to do to date. it will be a very important step to answering the question, do some of these exo—planets have the conditions to develop life like we know it? and that's amazingly exciting to me.
the images that eventually come back from james webb will be even more spectacular than these, taken by hubble. but there's still work to do. the sun shield will take several days to open, and that's just the start of this complex unfolding process. with so much at stake, it's a tense time for the team. rebecca morelle bbc news. let's just remind you of that breaking news in the past half hour — that britons will be able to travel through france to other eu countries. there was some confusion when eurotunnel suggested british citizens had been banned from driving across france to homes in other european union countries. eurotunnel have now said that they are �*delighted that the french government has responded positively to its requests for flexibility in travel rules for passengers transiting france to return home to other european countries during the holiday period'.
they say it should be completed by the 28th of december. this is bbc news. thank you for watching. it has been very mild again today and it could be the warmest new year's eve and new year's day on record. we will stick with the exceptionally mild air in the uk, blustery winds with that bit where winds come from is significant because it is the warm winds bringing warmth up from madeira and heading northwards and bringing lots of cloud. these are the temperatures into the early evening. a bit colder in scotland where we have some clearer skies. the rain is developing, continuing to push northwards, overnight moving into central southern scotland and turns wetter in northern ireland. we also see some rain pushing eastwards
across england and wales during the night. still quite breezy for many parts of the country, very mild for the most part as well, bit colder in wales and scotland with the clearer skies. tomorrow, the back of the rain early run in east anglia and the south—east, many parts brightening up with some some train coming through. the wind is not as strong. we still have the rain affecting central southern scotland and the far north of england. it uses up in the afternoon but still damp and cloudy. still very mild once again, temperatures of 13 in the central belt of scotland, 16 or 17 in east anglia. into the evening, seeing in the new year, they could be patchy rain across the north and west of the uk, many places. dry and west of the uk, many places. dry and we still have the exceptionally mild air in place as we head into the new year. new year's day, still some rain, the band of rain should not last too long, pushing eastwards and then we will brighten up from the west with sunshine later in the day
seeing showers arrive in western scotland and northern ireland. a very mild once again, temperatures typically 14 to 16 celsius. after saturday, things change because the very mild southerly winds get pushed more into europe and instead we get the west to south—westerly wind, still mild they're just not as mild. and it will still be rain around as we head into sunday, particularly across more western and southern parts of the uk. temperatures will be a few degrees lower on sunday but still mild for the time of year.
the british socialite ghislaine maxwell faces a long prison sentence, after being found guilty of five counts of grooming and trafficking teenage girls for abuse. maxwell procured the girls for the financier and convicted sex offenderjeffrey epstein — she faces the rest of her life behind bars. lawyers for some of the women abused by the convicted sex offender, jeffrey epstein, have welcomed the conviction. europe looks to build its defences against a new wave of covid infections, as the number of cases continues to surge. in the uk — northern ireland and wales are cutting the isolation period for people with covid from ten days to seven, bringing them into line with england. the change will take effect tomorrow. and afghanistan's former president defends his decision to flee the countryjust before the taliban take—over, saying he did it to prevent the destruction of kabul. now on bbc news, it's time foryourworld: life