Tag Archives: News

No permission for Kezia Dugdale to appear in I’m A Celebrity

Richard Leonard and Kezia DugdaleImage copyright PA

Kezia Dugdale was not given permission to join the cast of I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!, according to the new leader of the Scottish Labour party

Richard Leonard said his predecessor sought authorisation from party chiefs to appear on the reality TV show but it was not granted.

However, he told BBC Radio Scotland he was “not persuaded” that she should be suspended from the Labour group.

Ms Dugdale is expected to join the ITV programme later this week.

News of her controversial appearance in the show broke on Saturday – the same day Mr Leonard was named as the new leader of Scottish Labour.

It provoked a strong reaction from party colleagues and Mr Leonard said the parliamentary group would consider suspending their former leader.

Asked about the row on BBC Radio Scotland‘s Good Morning Scotland, he spoke of his “own personal disappointment” at her decision to join the programme.

He said: “There are issues not just around the fact that she’s there and the kind of programme that it is and people‘s view of that.

“There’s also the question about whether she got permission to do that.”

He added: “My understanding is that she sought permission and wasn’t given permission.”

Mr Leonard said he had not spoken to Ms Dugdale over the weekend.

But he said the Labour group at Holyrood needed to have a “proper discussion” about and whether to take action.

“I’m not persuaded that the immediate step that the Labour party needs to take is to suspend Kezia from membership of the Labour group but I do think we need to have a discussion about it,” said.

During the interview, he was also asked about a tweet by SNP MSP Jenny Gilruth, in which she suggested that Ms Dugdale had been the victim of bullying.

Ms Gilruth – who is in a relationship with the Labour MSP – said: “I see @scottishlabour have developed their own unique take on the final day of #AntiBullyingWeek. Huge props, comrades! #TeamKez.”

Mr Leonard said he had not seen the tweet but he added: “There was certainly a strong reaction on social media when the news broke on Saturday morning and feelings are running high about it.

“There’s no question about that.”

The new series of the reality TV show, which is filmed in Australia, began on Sunday night with celebrities including boxer Amir Khan, Hollyoaks actor Jamie Lomas, and Boris Johnson’s father, Stanley, among the contestants.

Ms Dugdale’s father, Jeff Dugdale, said on Twitter that he expected his daughter to make her first appearance on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Nicola Sturgeon used social media to give her backing to her former rival, declaring she was “#teamkez”.

And Conservative MP Nadine Dorries, who was suspended from her party when she took part in the same programme, also posted support for Ms Dugdale.

Ms Dorries tweeted that it was “time for party leaders to grow up” and said Ms Dugdale was a “smart lady” – despite the Labour politician having previously criticised her own appearance on the programme as “daft”.

Mr Leonard was also questioned about the status of the Labour group on Aberdeen City Council, who are currently all suspended from the party for going into coalition with Conservative councillors against the instructions of the central party.

The group’s leader, Jenny Laing, subsequently won the local politician award at the Herald newspaper’s Scottish Politician of the Year Awards for the council‘s efforts to raise money from the capital markets via bonds.

Mr Leonard said the group were “seeking direction” from the party’s Scottish executive, which he was now a member of, and said a report had been sent to the UK executive.

He said: “I don’t like to see a situation where members of the Labour Party are put outside it.

“But neither can we allow for a situation where a group of labour councillors defy an instruction which was issued by the Labour Party.”


School asks parents for £1 per day for pens

Robert Piggott CofE infant schoolImage copyright Google
Image caption Robert Piggott school would like voluntary donations amounting to £190 per family per year

A primary school in Prime Minister Theresa May’s constituency has asked parents for a £1 daily donation to help pay for stationery and books.

Robert Piggott CofE School in Wargrave, Berkshire, said the plea comes after “national changes to school funding”.

Labour said this showed “Tory cuts” were “hitting schools badly”.

Education minister Nick Gibb said the school is set to gain around £10K a year in extra cash from 2018 under the new National Funding Formula.

The school is in the Maidenhead constituency represented by Mrs May since 1997.

‘Funding crisis’

Its letter read: “One of the elements of [the funding plan] was to ask parents and the community to consider making donations to help meet the predicted shortfall in funding.

“Therefore, like many other schools, we are now requesting voluntary contributions from parents.”

“We would like to suggest that parents donate £1 per school day for each child to help the schools through this funding crisis. This equates to £190 per year.”

The school said it would help pay for glue, pens, pencils, exercise books, paper, tape and reading books.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Theresa May has represented Maidenhead since 1997

News of the letter comes days after school heads delivered a letter to Downing Street warning schools are increasingly having to make requests for voluntary donations.

Shadow education secretary Angela Rayner told the Daily Mirror: “The Government can spin all they like but the reality is that Tory cuts are hitting schools badly, even in the PM‘s own constituency.”

Education Secretary Justine Greening said an extra £1.3bn will be found for England‘s schools from existing budgets, though some teacher unions said this would not be enough to plug funding gaps.

Mr Gibb said: “Every school will see an increase in funding through the formula from 2018, with Robert Piggott CofE Infant and Junior Schools set to gain around £10,000 a year in total.”

Newspaper headlines: ‘Pestminster crackdown’ and US-Russia probe

Image caption “Pestminster crackdown” is the headline on the front page of the Metro, which is one of several papers to focus on recent allegations of sexual harassment taking place in Parliament. The paper says “sex pest” ministers could be fired and MPs forced to answer for their behaviour under a new crackdown on sexual harassment in Westminster.
Image caption Prime Minister Theresa May is under pressure from her own MPs to open a “comprehensive” investigation into the claims of sexual harassment, according to the Daily Telegraph. The paper says it comes amid revelations that two women staff members of a minister moved jobs because of his “inappropriate” behaviour.
Image caption The Times says anti-sexual harassment rules will be introduced within days. The paper quotes the leader of the Commons, Andrea Leadsom, as saying that “very swift” action will strengthen protection for victims of sexual harassment.
Image caption The Sun, meanwhile, reports that Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon has admitted to “inappropriately” touching the knee of journalist Julia Hartley-Brewer. The paper quotes Sir Michael as saying that he apologised to her over the incident 15 years ago and both considered the matter closed.
Image caption New developments in the US investigation into Russian interference in the presidential election make the front page of the Guardian. The paper says the investigation “closed in dramatically” on US President Donald Trump, after one of his former election campaign advisers pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about the timings of the meetings with alleged go-betweens for Russia.
Image caption The Financial Times says the charges against Mr Trump‘s former campaign manager and a campaign aide mark the most serious legal threat to the president since Robert Mueller was appointed special counsel to oversee the investigation in May.
Image caption “FBI closes net on Trump’s campaign aides” is the front page headline on the i. The paper says Mr Trump is trying to distance himself from the indictments against his former campaign manager and aide.
Image caption In other news, the Daily Express reports that taking an aspirin a day for at least six months can halve the risk of developing some cancers. The Express cites a study of 600,000 people which found the drug was especially effective against types of cancer that start in the digestive system.
Image caption News that Coronation Street actor Bruno Langley has been charged with two count of sexual assault is the front page story on the Daily Star.
Image caption And the Daily Mirror leads with coverage of its Pride of Britain Awards. The paper says Prince William praised the Grenfell Tower firefighters at the ceremony, adding that it had been “truly inspiring” how survivors had “rallied to help“.

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Watchdog warns Tories over Neath call centre election use

Screen grab Channel 4 NewsImage copyright Channel 4 News
Image caption Undercover filming by Channel 4 News at the call centre in Neath claimed the Tories broke electoral law and data protection rules

A watchdog has warned the Conservative party over how it used a call centre during the general election campaign.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) said small parts of scripts used crossed the line from legitimate market research to unlawful direct marketing.

But it stopped short of taking formal action and the Tories have been asked to comment.

Meanwhile, police are investigating claims the Neath call centre was used to canvass voters during the campaign.

The Conservatives have denied it broke electoral law by using the Blue Telecoms call centre.

However, the ICO investigated whether the Conservative use of the centre broke rules on unsolicited calls for direct marketing purposes.

Image copyright Channel 4 News

It came after a Channel 4 News report said the UK Conservatives contracted Blue Telecoms to conduct marketing campaigns ahead of the vote on 8 June.

The undercover investigation claimed the workers may have been carrying out paid canvassing, banned under electoral law, as they promoted key Conservative messages to undecided voters in the weeks before the election.

“We’ve found that two small sections of the written scripts used by those making the calls crossed the line from legitimate market research to unlawful direct marketing,” a blog on the ICO’s website said.

“We’ve warned the Conservative Party to get it right next time.”

The concerns related to paragraphs referenced both Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn in relation to policy choices.

But it added: “We’ve stopped short of formal regulatory action because the overall campaign was genuine market research.

“The two sections we had concerns about were not enough to trigger formal enforcement action when considered along with the campaign as a whole.

“In addition, the results of the survey were not saved against any individual so they could not be targeted for future marketing.”

Dubai Scot jailed for three months for public indecency

Jamie HarronImage copyright Detained in Dubai/Getty
Image caption Jamie Harron was convicted of public indecency over the incident in a Dubai bar

A Scottish man has been sentenced to three months in jail for touching a man‘s hip in a Dubai bar.

Jamie Harron, from Stirling, was arrested in July and charged with public indecency.

He claimed he had simply been trying to avoid spilling his drink when he touched the man.

The 27-year-old businessman had already been sentenced to a month in jail for drinking beer and still faces further court proceedings.

Image copyright Detained in Dubai
Image caption Mr Harron was on a stopover break in the United Arab Emirates when the incident happened

The businessman who made the complaint against Mr Harron later withdrew it, but prosecutors in Dubai continued with the case.

News of the three-month sentence was released by campaign group Detained in Dubai, which has been supporting Mr Herron.

The group said lawyers acting for the Scot would appeal.

Mr Harron, who worked as an electrician in Afghanistan, was on a two-day stopover in the United Arab Emirates at the time of the incident on 15 July.

Battle for shoppers

Supermarket logosImage copyright PA

It is well known that it is not only those on a tight budget that shop at the discount stores Aldi and Lidl.

But a survey suggests a huge number of the better heeled have also been browsing the aisles and may have a product from at least one of them lurking in their larders and fridges.

Retail researchers Mintel have found that 77% of households earning £50,000 or more have bought from the stores.

That is a higher proportion than UK shoppers on much lower incomes.

Among those with a household income of less than £15,500, 73% use discounters, according to Mintel.

News of further cost cuts late on Tuesday from Sainsbury’s underline the impact the discounters have had on the UK‘s grocery market.

The UK’s second-biggest supermarket chain said the market was “changing at a rapid pace” and meant the firm needed to “transform the way we operate”.

Image copyright Getty Images

Discounters are the only companies whose market share is growing.

Figures on Tuesday from Kantar Worldpanel, show Lidl and Aldi now account for 12% of the food market.

Their sales continue to increase rapidly, with growth well into double digits.

By comparison, Morrisons, the fastest growing among the rest of the established chains, increased sales by 2.8%.

German companies Aldi and Lidl have been in the UK since the 1990s, but their growth spurt really took off in the years following the credit crunch 10 years ago.

They now have more than 600 stores each across the country.

Price war

However, the discounters, too, are finding profits harder to grow than sales.

Aldi reported record sales in the UK and Ireland for last year, but its profits have fallen sharply amid a fierce price war among supermarkets.

Its latest sales were up 13.5% to £8.7bn in 2016, but operating profit dropped 17%.

Image copyright Getty Images

Initially their appeal lay in price, and, perhaps novelty, but Mintel’s survey also gathered shoppers’ views on quality.

It says among shoppers that use Lidl and Aldi, 71% say it is as good as elsewhere, although their premium ranges do not rank as highly. Two thirds rate these as matching those on offer at rival supermarkets.

Nick Carroll, senior research analyst at Mintel, said: “The post-recession success of leading discount food retailers has been built on a softening of their hard discount roots and bringing in ranges which appeal to a wider variety of consumers.

“A part of this success has been the introduction of more premium ranges, something that is clearly going over well with shoppers.”

British IS recruiter Sally-Anne Jones ‘killed by drone’

Sally JonesImage copyright Unknown

British IS recruiter Sally-Anne Jones was reportedly killed in a US drone strike in Syria in June.

Jones, from Chatham in Kent, joined so-called Islamic State after converting to Islam and travelling to Syria in 2013.

The BBC‘s security correspondent Frank Gardner said she had been a useful propaganda agent for IS on social media and her death would be “significant”.

Her death was first reported by The Sun.

Jones, 48, who had no previous military training, had been used to recruit Western girls to the group and posted threatening messages to Christians in the UK.

She used her Twitter account to provide practical advice on how to travel to Syria.

Previously a punk musician, Jones married the jihadist computer hacker Junaid Husain, who was killed in a drone strike in 2015.

News of Jones’s death was not made public earlier this year amid fears that her 12-year-old son, Jojo, may also have been killed, according to The Sun.

Major General Chip Chapman, the former Ministry of Defence head of counter terror, said Jones would have been a “significant” target as a result of her alliance with Hussain and her role in recruiting IS fighters.

Responding to reports her son was killed in the strike, he added: “It is a difficult one because under the UN Charters he is under the age of what we would classify as a soldier.”

A Foreign Office spokeswoman said: “We do not comment on matters of national security.”

Freddy Shepherd funeral: Mourners gather for ex-Newcastle chairman

Wayne Rooney arriving at the funeral service for Freddy ShepherdImage copyright PA
Image caption Everton star Wayne Rooney was among the mourners

Family and friends have gathered for the funeral of former Newcastle United chairman Freddy Shepherd.

Former club captain Alan Shearer, ex-Magpies managers Kenny Dalglish and Sam Allardyce, and Everton star Wayne Rooney were among mourners at St George’s Church, in Jesmond, Newcastle.

The service got under way at noon, to be followed by a private cremation ceremony.

Mr Shepherd, 75, passed away at home on 25 September.

He was described as an “incredibly passionate supporter of Newcastle United” by the club’s current managing director, Lee Charnley.

Image copyright PA
Image caption The club’s record goal-scorer and former captain, Alan Shearer, was due to pay tribute during the service
Image copyright PA
Image caption Mr Shepherd’s coffin was carried into St George’s Church
Image copyright PA
Image caption Mr Shepherd (l) paid £250,000 for a brass statue of former striker Shearer outside St James’ Park last year

Mr Shepherd engineered the £15m deal which took Alan Shearer from Blackburn back to his native Newcastle in July 1996.

He spent 15 years as a director at St James’ Park, serving under Sir John Hall as vice-chairman before eventually taking over the hot seat in his own right in 1997.

During his time at Newcastle, the club twice finished as Premier League runners-up, reached two FA Cup finals and enjoyed two Champions League campaigns.

In addition, he oversaw the redevelopment of an ageing stadium, boosting its capacity from around 36,000 to in excess of 52,000.

However, he was also involved in controversy – he and fellow director Douglas Hall were recorded calling female football supporters “dogs” by the News of the World newspaper in 1998.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Sir John Hall handed over the role of club chairman to Mr Shepherd in 1997
Image copyright PA
Image caption Former Newcastle United and England manager Sam Allardyce was another guest
Image copyright PA
Image caption Aston Villa manager Steve Bruce was among the big names from the world of football in attendance
Image copyright PA
Image caption Television presenter Declan Donnelly was accompanied by his wife, Ali Astall

Newspaper pays ex-intelligence officer hacking damages

Ian HurstImage copyright Getty Images
Image caption Ian Hurst gave evidence to the Leveson Inquiry in 2011

A former army intelligence officer has won damages after his computer was hacked by private detectives working for the defunct News of the World.

Ian Hurst was a “handler” in Northern Ireland – someone who deals with IRA informers for the British Army.

He began legal action following a BBC Panorama investigation in 2011 which showed his emails had been hacked.

In a hearing at the High Court, News Group Newspapers apologised and accepted the hacking happened.

NGN, the parent company that used to publish the News of the World before it was closed in 2011 in the wake of the phone hacking scandal, has paid Mr Hurst substantial undisclosed damages, as well as his legal fees and other costs.

‘Emails intercepted routinely’

Mr Hurst served in Northern Ireland in the Intelligence Corps and the Force Research Unit between 1980 and 1991.

His main role was to recruit and work with agents within Republican terrorist groups in order to gain intelligence.

In 2006, a virus was planted into his computer and his email passwords, and other information was obtained by two private detectives.

Five years later a BBC Panorama investigation claimed that the two PIs had been hired by the News of the World Irish edition and tasked with finding information about an IRA member who had been the subject of a book written by Mr Hurst.

Mr Hurst learned that his computer and online accounts had been targeted following the Panorama investigation.

Jeremy Reed, Mr Hurst’s lawyer, told the High Court that NGN said it would be impossible to determine the full extent of the wrongdoing, but it acknowledged that, at the very least, his emails were intercepted “routinely and intensively” over a period of several months during 2006.

He said that NGN accepted “vicarious liability” for the circumstances which ultimately led to the wrongful acts.

Lawyers for NGN told the court the company offered “its sincerest and unreserved apologies” to Mr Hurst and his family for the “damage that this wrongdoing has caused to them”.

The statement added: “News Group Newspapers accepts that such activity happened, accepts that it should never have happened, and has undertaken to the court that it will never happen again.”

Producer’s ‘tears’ over George Michael song

George Michael

Producer Nile Rodgers has admitted to feeling “uncertainty” about working on George Michael’s new single.

Fantasy, a remix of a 1980s outtake, premiered on Radio 2 on Thursday.

Rodgers’ confession came in response to a fan who expressed “mixed feelings” over the song’s release, eight months after Michael’s death.

“You SHOULD have mixed feelings,” he said on Twitter. “No one’s heart was dragged through emotional ambiguity more than mine.”

Rodgers said he approached the remix with “tears, uncertainty, happiness & #LOVE”.

Fantasy sounds vastly different to the version that was released as a b-side in 1990, and later as a bonus track on 2011’s deluxe version of the Faith album.

The tinny 80s production of the original has been completely overhauled in favour of a slinky funk groove, featuring Rodgers’ choppy guitar rhythms and championing Michael’s soulful harmonies.

On first listen, it appears some of the vocals are alternate takes to the previously released version.

But while it is refreshing to hear Michael’s voice on the radio again, the track still feels more like an offcut than an undiscovered gem.

The decision to create a new “hook” from speeded-up samples of the star’s vocals also feels like a rare mis-step for Rodgers, whose production credits include Madonna, David Bowie and Duran Duran.

“Fantasy was originally meant to be on Listen Without Prejudice and was intended to be one of the singles from the album, but somehow it got lost in the ether,” Michael’s manager David Austin told Radio 2’s Chris Evans in a letter, which the broadcaster read out on his breakfast show.

While working on a reissue of Listen Without Prejudice before his death, he revisited the song and decided it could become a single.

“George phoned up Nile Rodgers, his good pal, in early 2016 because the two of them have always spoken the same musical language, and Nile has reworked the record.”

News of the single emerged on Wednesday as Michael’s sisters Melanie and Yioda posted an update on his official website, saying they will carry on his musical legacy “exactly as Yog would have wanted”.

Fans embraced the track, and many tweeted about “listening with tears” in their eyes.

Image copyright Getty Images

But some were less enthusiastic, saying the track sounded “unfinished“.

Michael, who rose to fame in band Wham!, died last year from heart disease and a build-up of fat in his liver.

His body was found by his partner, hairdresser Fadi Fawaz, at his home in Goring-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, on Christmas Day.

During his career, Michael enjoyed seven number ones on the UK singles charts, including Careless Whisper, A Different Corner, Jesus To a Child and Fast Love.

The 53-year-old had 23 top 10 hits, including Faith, Father Figure, Outside and You Have Been Loved.

The Fantasy remix will feature on a deluxe version of Listen Without Prejudice Vol 1 / MTV Unplugged, which is set for release on 20 October.

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