On video: fighter jet shot down over Benghazi

Jet shot down in Libyan rebel stronghold as the allies plan their next move.

The extraordinary events in Libya have taken another violent turn. In the rebel stronghold of Benghazi, a fighter plane has been shot down, video footage (see below) showing the pilot apparently ejecting.

It's not immediately clear who the jet belongs to; it was generally assumed to be one of Gaddafi's, but the Guardian's Chris McGreal reports that "some of the rebels say it's their plane". He adds: "It might have been their only plane that was shot down by Gaddafi's forces."

Despite yesterday's "ceasefire", there are widespread reports of government forces shelling the rebels and of Libyan jets bombing the road to Benghazi Airport and the city's outskirts.

The other significant development is the extensive list of new demands issued by the allies. In addition to calling on Gaddafi to end all attacks on civilians, they have ordered him to stop his troops from advancing on Benghazi and pull them back from Ajdabiya, Misurata and Zawiya; to re-establish water, electricity and gas supplies to all areas; and to allow humanitarian assistance to reach the people.

The attacks by Gaddafi's forces on the rebels have intensified pressure on the allies to act quickly. The French ambassador to the UN, Gérard Araud, has said that we are likely to see military intervention within hours of the end of the emergency conference in Paris.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

Grant Shapps on the campaign trail. Photo: Getty
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Grant Shapps resigns over Tory youth wing bullying scandal

The minister, formerly party chairman, has resigned over allegations of bullying and blackmail made against a Tory activist. 

Grant Shapps, who was a key figure in the Tory general election campaign, has resigned following allegations about a bullying scandal among Conservative activists.

Shapps was formerly party chairman, but was demoted to international development minister after May. His formal statement is expected shortly.

The resignation follows lurid claims about bullying and blackmail among Tory activists. One, Mark Clarke, has been accused of putting pressure on a fellow activist who complained about his behaviour to withdraw the allegation. The complainant, Elliot Johnson, later killed himself.

The junior Treasury minister Robert Halfon also revealed that he had an affair with a young activist after being warned that Clarke planned to blackmail him over the relationship. Former Tory chair Sayeedi Warsi says that she was targeted by Clarke on Twitter, where he tried to portray her as an anti-semite. 

Shapps appointed Mark Clarke to run RoadTrip 2015, where young Tory activists toured key marginals on a bus before the general election. 

Today, the Guardian published an emotional interview with the parents of 21-year-old Elliot Johnson, the activist who killed himself, in which they called for Shapps to consider his position. Ray Johnson also spoke to BBC's Newsnight:


The Johnson family claimed that Shapps and co-chair Andrew Feldman had failed to act on complaints made against Clarke. Feldman says he did not hear of the bullying claims until August. 

Asked about the case at a conference in Malta, David Cameron pointedly refused to offer Shapps his full backing, saying a statement would be released. “I think it is important that on the tragic case that took place that the coroner’s inquiry is allowed to proceed properly," he added. “I feel deeply for his parents, It is an appalling loss to suffer and that is why it is so important there is a proper coroner’s inquiry. In terms of what the Conservative party should do, there should be and there is a proper inquiry that asks all the questions as people come forward. That will take place. It is a tragic loss of a talented young life and it is not something any parent should go through and I feel for them deeply.” 

Mark Clarke denies any wrongdoing.

Helen Lewis is deputy editor of the New Statesman. She has presented BBC Radio 4’s Week in Westminster and is a regular panellist on BBC1’s Sunday Politics.