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New Zealand Herald

Northern Rain - Pathologists Close Ranks - Todd Allegations - Cancer Inquiry Death - Airways Corp Bid - Auckland Rain - Bus Safety- Screening: - Otago Breast Screening - Billionaire Appeals

NORTHERN RAIN: Coromandel residents felt the full sting of the North Island's "big wet" yesterday as flooding and slips closed roads, threatened homes and almost completely sealed access to east coast towns. Dozens of roads were either flooded or partially blocked by slips as the rain fell for the third day in a row.

PATHOLOGISTS CLOSE RANKS: Two of New Zealand's leading pathologists are being accused of closing ranks and failing to support an early inquiry into Gisborne's cervical cancer testing. On the first day of a reconvened ministerial inquiry, the lawyer for affected women, Stuart Grieve, QC, said pathologists Drs Clint Teague and Andy Tie had failed to act when they learned that there could be more than one woman whose cervical smear slides had been misread by pathologist Dr Michael Bottrill.

TODD ALLEGATIONS: New Zealand's top Olympic authority wants Mark Todd to tell it if he snorted cocaine, but the equestrian champion is refusing to phone home. For the past two weeks the New Zealand Olympic Committee has been trying without success to contact the gold medallist over drug-taking allegations made by Britain's Sunday Mirror.

CANCER INQUIRY DEATH: Just before invasive cancer delivered its final and fatal blow to Kathleen Wahine Tahore Ward, she made one thing clear - the suppression order that protected her identity should be lifted. On the day that the Gisborne Cervical Cancer Inquiry reconvened, the wish of the woman known as "Midge" was carried out.

AIRWAYS CORP BID: The Airways Corporation won approval to proceed with its bid for the British air traffic control system last night after being cleared of legal and ethical breaches. But tighter Government scrutiny of the bid will ensure executives will not be offered incentives which led to yesterday's report by the Auditor-General, David Macdonald.

AUCKLAND RAIN: While many Aucklanders curled up in front of the heater as the rain pounded on the roof, others were out fixing roofs the downpour defeated. And unclogging drains. And cleaning carpets. The persistent rainfall over the upper North Island has had tradespeople and cleaners scrambling to keep up with demand.

BUS SAFETY: Stagecoach drivers will not be able to open their rear doors unless the bus has stopped, under a safety drive following a schoolboy's death. The bus company will modify its entire New Zealand bus fleet of 900 to disable the rear doors unless the holding brake is on. It will also adopt a Tramways Union scheme to allow children on school services to exit only through the front door.

OTAGO BREAST SCREENING: A botch-up in the national breast-screening programme is under investigation amid fears that it could have a nationwide impact. Healthcare Otago has ordered the records of 14,000 women in the Otago and Southland area to be reread after irregularities were found in three mammogram results.

BILLIONAIRE APPEALS: The American billionaire who escaped conviction for drug smuggling will appeal against the decision to quash suppression of his name. The High Court last week ruled in favour of the Herald's application to overturn the suppression, finding that the district court judge who made the order had overlooked the Bill of Rights Act and acted wrongly in law.

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