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Seven Early News -

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(generated from captions) This program is captioned live. This morning - the 'Hey Dad..! sex abuse claims. actor Robert Hughes denies Federal Police head to Croatia

in an Aussie backpacker's death. for clues And police investigate at a car crash. after rubberneckers take photos with Natalie Barr. VOICEOVER: This is Seven Early News Good morning. Actor Robert Hughes has been accused female cast members of sexually abusing 'Hey Dad..!'. on the set of the hit TV series Hughes has denied the allegations a formal investigation. as police consider whether to launch

In the '80s, he was Martin Kelly, 'Hey Dad..!'. star of the popular TV comedy 'HEY DAD..!': Right. is going to clear that table Now, listen - someone it's not gonna be me. and guess what, the centre of abuse allegations Now, Robert Hughes is at by female cast members. if we were back in there In the dressing room you know, tickle you on the bed and he'd come in and he'd, like, with you trying to touch you. and, you know, be on the bed

on the show from the age of six. Sarah Monahan played Jenny She claims by a fellow cast member to have been sexually abused until she was 12 or 13.

named Robert Hughes Last night Seven's 'Today Tonight' and claimed at least two other women

alleging similar experiences. had given formal statements

between other cast members We would discuss it other people come up to them that, you know, we'd heard "He touched me", you know, and say, you know, and I know I'm not the only one. but were quickly silenced. Rumours circulated to the appropriate authority, So you would go explain to them what was going on

that something was done. and hope in hell Nothing was done. It was always a

"Keep it hushed successful TV show on television, "because this is the most "people don't wanna know that".

with his family in Singapore, Hughes, who now lives and denies the allegations. hasn't been charged at the allegations I'm absolutely totally shocked everything. and I deny - absolutely deny - to launch a formal investigation. Police are deciding whether The mysterious death Britt Lapthorne in Croatia of Australian backpacker by the Australian Federal Police. is being reviewed was found in a bay in 2008 The 21-year-old's body at a Dubrovnik nightclub. three weeks after she was last seen are now being sent to Croatia Two AFP officers the local police investigation. to review In the two years since her death, out how Britt Lapthorne died. there's been no headway in finding 100 Victorian police officers As many as are reportedly being investigated or pornographic emails at work. for sending racist, homophobic The 'Herald Sun' claims

at Healesville on Monday night an officer who was found dead in a crackdown on computer use. had been caught But the police union says was accidental. many officers' misuse of work emails are investigating several people Sydney Police

where a man died yesterday morning. who took photos of a crash scene in Sydney's west, A truck smashed into a car on the M7 killing the car driver instantly.

for hours Morning traffic was blocked pulled out the injured truckie. as emergency crews taking photographs People, as they're driving and videotaping the scene we have their details and a couple of those people

and we'll be following up with them. in a stable condition in hospital. The 50-year-old truck driver is has become embroiled Tourism Australia in an animal abuse scandal as part of the G'day USA festival. over a kangaroo promoting Australia took this video of the kangaroo A New Zealand tourist on the streets of LA. in a concrete cage

sight WOMAN: The trainer's nowhere in looking after it. and there's actually no-one here has told News Limited Tourism Australia for four hours a day the roo is only on display it appears distressed. but animal experts say It comes after public outrage showing Rocky the boxing kangaroo. forced a Texas circus to stop A verdict is expected within days Stern Hu ended in China. after the trial of Australian

were shrouded in secrecy Court proceedings but there are reports not guilty to industrial espionage. the Rio Tinto executive pleaded appealed for leniency, A lawyer says Hu and his co-accused they admit taking as bribes. paying back some of the money will be allowed inside court Australian consular officials when the verdict is handed down.

appears to have had little impact The Stern Hu trial on trade relations with Beijing. has signed a $60 billion deal The Federal Government to export liquefied gas to China. 72 million tonnes of gas BG Group will supply over 20 years. from its plant in central Queensland for Australia, It means greater export earning increased revenue for Government. jobs on the ground and

massive Gorgon Gas agreement in WA. The deal is being compared to the will consider tightening the rules The Rudd Government school building program. for its $16 billion of waste and budget blowouts. It comes amid claims Seven News revealed this week asked for a new hall Sydney school Annangrove Public a second library it didn't need, but was instead told to build

costing $825,000. has defended the scheme, saying But Education Minister Julia Gillard from recession it helped save Australia

are to be expected. and "bumps and hurdles" has had an early legal victory A group of residents being scuttled in a bid to stop HMAS 'Adelaide' Central Coast. off the New South Wales The de-commissioned warship

on Saturday was due to be sunk off Avoca Beach to create an artificial reef.

chemicals leaching into the water. But residents are worried about late yesterday They scored a legal victory has been put on hold. and the sinking court's giving us the opportunity We're, obviously, pleased the to put on full evidence about this matter and determine the environmental impacts of the scuttling. The matter will return briefly to court today for a directions hearing. Volunteers from interstate are on their way to Perth to help with the costly clean-up from Monday's storms. As the damage bill climbs, video has emerged of a close call with lightning. The strike hit a light pole just 4m from where Scott Perry was videoing the storm in Melville. VIDEO: That's just staying...(BANG) (BEEP) hell! Did you see that?

Never moved so fast in my life. I just seen a big puff of smoke underneath my legs so I was quite surprised to see myself still alive. About 8,000 homes are still without power and more than $100 million worth of insurance claims have been lodged. The Federal Government is promising $75 million in aid. Now for your first look at Thursday's weather.

Morning fog should clear in Melbourne. Sunny and very warm in Adelaide for this time of year. Darwin can expect the usual late shower or storm. Coming up on 'Sunrise' at 6am -

the team asks are bank customers being taken for a ride? But next on Seven Early News, Oprah Winfrey wins a defamation case. And Sydney's Mr Shuffles gets a new name.

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At least three people have been killed in Norway when an out-of-control cargo train derailed and crashed into a building. Several carriages broke free from the empty train and tore towards the building, which collapsed on impact. Rescue crews are searching for people feared trapped under the rubble. At least three people are being treated in hospital with minor injuries. It's not yet known what caused the crash. Talk-show queen Oprah Winfrey has settled a defamation lawsuit filed by the former headmistress of her South African girls school. It follows remarks made by Oprah in 2007 when she accused the headmistress of bad performance following a sex abuse scandal at the school. She says she now has trouble finding a job after Oprah said she had lost confidence in her and was left to clean up the mess. The pair settled out of court for an unknown amount.

The headmistress had previously asked for $250,000. Pope Benedict XVI

has accepted the resignation of an Irish bishop

for his poor handling of child sex abuse allegations in his diocese. But the sex scandal doesn't seem to be affecting tourism with tens of thousands still visiting the Vatican.

R I don't personally think about it

when I'm here. I come to see the things and the sights and child abuse doesn't enter my mind while I'm here. Last week, the Pope formally apologised for years of sex abuse within the Irish clergy. Now, here's a warning to horn-happy drivers - a Sydney man's been slapped with a $253 fine for tooting to say hello to a neighbour. He says his punishment is un-Australian but police say unnecessary tooting is against the law. It's as Australian as "g'day"... (HORN TOOTS)

How ya going? ..and second nature to Phil Thorsen when he saw neighbour Nikki Kirkwood crossing the road. (HORN TOOTS) That's exactly what I did. But a police officer was behind him. Put his siren on, pulled over and said, "Don't move." Phil explained Nikki was a neighbour. The officer said he was getting a ticket. I said, "Mate, you're an absolute...(TOOTS)" He heated me up and I called him a (TOOTS) a few times and he told me was going to arrest me for the language

and I said "What for?" and he said "For calling me a (TOOTS)." and I said "Even you agree you are." The fine, $253 for using his horn unnecessarily. I feel for the boys in blue but they've got better things to do than fine people for honking at neighbours. Police say the officer thought Phil may have been harassing Nikki and was going to just give him a warning but... His conduct deteriorated to a point where it was deemed more appropriate to be issued with a traffic infringement notice.

Last year, 161 people were booked for... (HORN TOOTS)

The law says you can only toot as a warning. As you can imagine, Phil isn't going to cop this fine. He's already appealed and is even prepared to go to court to fight for his right to... (HORN TOOTS) ..g'day! I just think it's fairly well un-Australian. Sydney's newest baby elephant will today be named officially. The baby boy, now more than 116kg, was nicknamed Mr Shuffles because of his unsteady walk. But despite an internet campaign to keep that name,

Taronga Zoo wants to name him in recognition of his Thai heritage. An online poll has chosen a winner from seven names to be announced at a special blessing ceremony today. Your first finance this Early News - Wall Street is lower this morning on the back of news Poland's credit rating has been cut.

Coming up on 'Sunrise' at 6am - broadcaster Alan Jones marks 25 years on radio.

But next on Seven Early News, Mark Webber's management rejects talk of retirement. And Cassio has Adelaide United running like clockwork

in the Asian Champions League.

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The stories we're following on the Early News - actor Robert Hughes has denied claims he sexually abused female cast members on the set of the hit TV series 'Hey Dad..!'

Two AFP officers will head to Croatia to review the mysterious death of Australian backpacker Britt Lapthorne in 2008. And Tourism Australia has been accused of animal cruelty after a caged kangaroo was used to promote Australia in LA. Now it's over to Simon Reeve with all the day's sport.

Richmond will enter a new era at the MCG tonight, sporting a rookie coach and four debutantes in the AFL season opener against Carlton. Veteran midfielder Ben Cousins will also be there after convincing the match committee he's at full fitness following a recent stomach ailment. So will Dustin Martin, Ben Nason and Relton Roberts who'll make their senior debuts with Mitch Farmer to also play his first game for the Tigers. The Blues have some fresh faces of their own with Lachie Henderson, Robert Warnock and Brock McLean picked to play. The Roosters remain wary of a wounded Bulldogs outfit heading into this weekend's match-up at ANZ Stadium. The Dogs started the season among the premiership fancies but have fallen from favour following back-to-back losses. Ex-Bulldog Nate Myles is convinced

his old club will be looking to make the Roosters pay. Three in a row is probably something they've never even thought about. I've been at the Dogs before so I know what they're like and they never want to lose back to back and they'll be fired up. In Newcastle, Cameron Ciraldo has been named for his first NRL match since his right leg snapped in a sickening tackle against Cronulla last year. He replaces a concussed Ben Cross in the Knights' forward pack for Saturday's clash with Manly. Ryan Harris's impressive Test debut against the Kiwis has come at the perfect time. The in-form paceman will be added to Cricket Australia's elite 25-man contract list in the next fortnight, earning him a hefty pay rise. Despite a 6-wicket haul in Wellington, Harris is still coming to terms with his rapid rise.

It's obviously very surreal still,

but I never thought

but I never thought I'd be playing

Test cricket put it that way. I have

come a long way and it is great

feeling. The Aussies are in Hamilton for the second Test starting Saturday. Adelaide United remains undefeated in the Asian Champions League following a come-from-behind win over Japan's Sanfrecce Hiroshima at Hindmarsh Stadium overnight. Trailing 2-1 deep in the second half, United drew level through big-man Robbie Cornthwaite in the 78th minute. Brazilian star Cassio completed Adelaide's escape act four minutes later. COMMENTATOR: Goal! Cassio! What a game here at Hindmarsh. The win keeps United in top spot in Group H. Mark Webber's management has confirmed he has no plans to retire at the end of the year, pouring cold water on a strange prediction from rival Lewis Hamilton. Enjoying a sail on Sydney Harbour yesterday, Hamilton said he got the impression Webber was ready to walk away from F1. Hamilton shares his team-mate Jensen Button's desire to one day race at Bathurst. I would love to do it, drive around Bathurst. Doesn't matter what car I'm in but the V8s sound pretty awesome. Hamilton believes this weekend is the Red Bull driver's best chance to win his home Grand Prix. To win that coveted home race, Webber can expect no favours from Red Bull Racing team-mate Sebastian Vettel. The German enjoyed some Indigenous hospitality yesterday but won't return the favour come Sunday. I think second is not a bad result. (LAUGHS) We will see. Hopefully, Mark and myself will do well for the team and we get some good points. And the grid girls have a new designer look to parade down pit straight.

Wetsern Force coach John Mitchell has announced he's quitting the club but not just yet. The Kiwi mentor's contract expires at the end of the 2011 season and he won't be seeking an extension.

Mitchell says it has nothing to do with the Force's disastrous start to the Super 14 season. Meantime, Julian Huxley is on the verge of an inspiring return to top-flight rugby. The ex-Wallaby is on the Brumbies bench for tomorrow's clash with the Chiefs two years after being diagnosed with a brain tumour. And Aussie cyclist Anna Meares has reclaimed her 500m time trial crown at the World Track Cycling Championships in Copenhagen this morning. It's the Queenslander's third world title in the event. That's all for now. I'll be back with more sport a little later in 'Sunrise', Natalie. Next on Seven Early News - we'll take a closer look at how today's weather is shaping up

in your part of the country.

MAN: Hup! (ALL GROAN) Ah... MAN: Mike, come on! Mike, what is your deal, man? Oh, come on, man. You've been riding me all day. Mike, you're playing like Betty White out there. That's not what your girlfriend says. Baby! Whoa, whoa, whoa! Come on. That's not cool. Eat a Snickers. Better. Hike! I'm open! (GROANS) That hurt.

'Cause I'm clever, he's learning from me.

It's just about time for 'Sunrise'. Kochie and Mel are here with a look ahead. Nat, we'll be following up on the 'Hey Dad..!' scandal. Actor Robert Hughes has flatly denied molesting a young star. But was there a cover-up of trouble on set? Plus, are bank customers being taken for a ride? One of the big banks says its rates have to rise just as a credit union lowers them.

We'll explain how that's possible and how you can take advantage. Broadcaster Alan Jones marks 25 years on talk radio today.

He'll tell us about his highlights and plans for the future. Find out about the robot baby created by Japanese researchers. It's for couples to test drive parenthood. But could it replace the real thing in the future?

Doesn't poo, doesn't wee. It is good. And Sam Worthington's latest movie after 'Avatar'. He talks to Fifi about fake tans and making 'Clash of the Titans'. See you soon for 'Sunrise'. Now for a closer look at how the weather's shaping up around the country. A high in the Tasman will push very warm to hot northerly winds across Victoria, South Australia and inland New South Wales today. Isolated showers will continue over the Queensland coast and northern tropics. Around the capitals: Morning fog should clear in Melbourne. And Darwin can expect the usual late shower or storm. And that's Seven Early News for this Thursday. I'm Natalie Barr. Stand-by now for 'Sunrise'.