Briefs extra, February 28, 2013

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 28 February, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 28 February, 2013, 3:25am

Mistakes made over sex scandal: Clegg

LONDON - British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said "very serious mistakes" were made over a sex scandal that has rocked his Liberal Democrat party ahead of a crucial by-election. Clegg repeated his insistence that he was unaware of allegations of sexual harassment by several female party workers against former party chief executive Chris Rennard until they emerged last week. But he conceded that rumours about the behaviour of Rennard - who strongly denies groping the women - had been "in the background" of the peer's resignation due to ill health in 2009. AFP



Judge orders veil over probe into spy's death

LONDON - The inquiry into the death of a former Russian spy poisoned in London with radioactive tea will close its hearings to the press and public when it reviews files Britain says contain sensitive information. The judge leading the probe issued the decision after lawyers for the Home Office asked for a so-called public immunity certificate, or PII, over information about Alexander Litvinenko, a critic of the Kremlin who lived in London and died in November of 2006. Bloomberg

Budweiser watered down beer, court hears

WASHINGTON - The makers of Budweiser faced accusations that they watered down the popular American lager in search of higher profits, in a class action lawsuit flatly rejected by the brewery. The beer-drinking plaintiffs demand unspecified "compensatory damages" for anyone in the United States who has bought Budweiser products in the past five years. AFP

Afghan letter activists lose free-speech case

CANBERRA - Australia's highest court narrowly rejected the case of two Muslim activists who argued they had a constitutional free-speech right to send offensive letters to families of Australian soldiers killed in Afghanistan. Iranian-born Man Horan Monis, a self-styled Sydney cleric also known as Sheik Haron, was charged with 12 counts of using a postal service in an offensive way and harassing way over three years until 2009. Amirah Droudis was charged with aiding and abetting the offences. AP

US arms-ban supporter poised for poll victory

CHICAGO - A former Illinois legislator who favours an assault weapons ban captured the Democratic nomination in the race to replace disgraced ex-US lawmaker Jesse Jackson Jnr, after a campaign dominated by gun-control issues in the wake of the Connecticut elementary school massacre. Ex-state lawmaker Robin Kelly is expected to sail through the April 9 general election because the heavily minority Chicago-area district is overwhelmingly Democratic. AP