Tag Archives: US

Graduate with 2:1 sues Oxford for £1m

Oxford University
Image caption Faiz Siddiqui is suing Oxford university for £1m in damages

An Oxford graduate’s failure to get a top degree cost him a lucrative legal career, the High Court has heard.

Faiz Siddiqui alleges “inadequate” teaching on his modern history course resulted in him getting a low upper second degree in June 2000.

He blames staff being absent on sabbatical leave and is suing the university for £1m.

Oxford denies negligence and causation and says the case is “massively” outside the legal time limit.

Mr Siddiqui also alleges medical information about him was not submitted to examiners by a tutor.

The 39-year-old studied at Brasenose College and singled out the teaching on the Indian special subject part of his course for criticism.

‘A huge disappointment’

His counsel Roger Mallalieu told Mr Justice Foskett that Mr Siddiqui had been a “driven young man” aiming at a postgraduate qualification at an Ivy League university.

He said: “Whilst a 2:1 degree from Oxford might rightly seem like a tremendous achievement to most, it fell significantly short of Mr Siddiqui’s expectations and was, to him, a huge disappointment.”

Mr Mallalieu said his employment history in legal and tax roles was “frankly poor” and he was now unemployed, rather than having a career at the tax bar in England or a major US law firm.

Mr Siddiqui also said his clinical depression and insomnia have been significantly exacerbated by his “inexplicable failure”.

Julian Milford, for Oxford University, told the court Mr Siddiqui complained about insufficient resources, but had only described the teaching as “a little bit dull”.

He added the student received exactly the same amount of teaching as he would have in any other year.

The seven-day hearing is concerned only with liability – with damages to be assessed later if Mr Siddiqui succeeds.


Sacha Baron Cohen offers to pay ‘Borat’ mankini fines

Sacha Baron Cohen as Borat in a mankini with thumbs upImage copyright PA

Sacha Baron Cohen has offered to pay fines for six Czech tourists who were arrested in Kazakhstan for wearing nothing but ‘Borat’ inspired mankinis.

The group had posed for photos in the capital city of Astana.

On 14 November, local media reported the tourists had been fined 22,500 Tenge ($67; £51) each for their “indecent” appearance.

The notorious one-piece was made famous by the English actor’s character, Borat, a fictional Kazakh TV presenter.

“To my Czech mates who were arrested. Send me your details and proof that it was you, and I’ll pay your fine,” the comedian wrote on Facebook.

Image copyright
Image caption The Czech men were detained for “minor hooliganism” after posing in freezing temperatures

Borat actor offers to pay mankini fines

Baron Cohen’s 2006 comedy film Borat! Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, follows the character of Borat Sagdiyev as he travels to the US to make a documentary.

The film earned the actor a Golden Globe award but also attracted controversy.

Kazakhstan banned the film and sales of the DVD and the authorities threatened to sue him.

But in 2012, the Kazakh foreign minister publicly thanked Baron Cohen for boosting tourism in the central Asian state.

You may also like:

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Sacha Baron Cohen as Kazakh journalist Borat Sagdiyev

Mankinis could get you in trouble closer to home too.

In 2012, mankinis and other “inappropriate clothing” were banned in Newquay in a bid to reduce crime and shed the Cornish seaside town’s stag party reputation.

UK firm expands into North Sea exploration

Oil rigsImage copyright Getty Images

Chemicals giant Ineos is making a move into deep water oil and gas exploration in the North Sea.

Ineos has bought a majority stake in two exploration licences in areas far to the north of Shetland, thought to have strong prospects for gas reserves.

It is the latest deal for the privately-owned group which recently branched out into fashion by acquiring the motorcycle wear brand Belstaff.

It also bought Swiss football club Lausanne-Sport earlier this month.

The chemicals firm, which was founded by billionaire Jim Ratcliffe, has agreed with Aberdeen-based Siccar Point Energy, to take on two-thirds of the exploration licences.

Ineos already has stakes in gas fields in the southern North Sea, acquired when it took over the portfolio built up by DONG Energy of Denmark earlier this year.

Tom Crotty of Ineos told Radio 4’s Today programme: “It is a big shift [for us], we entered the North Sea just over two years ago, then had a step-up last year.

“We thought it would now be time to step into exploration.”

He admitted that at this stage it might not be possible to accurately foresee the amount of gas reserves in the region.

He added: “There is always a risk until until you get into the detail… but we believe we are proficient operators. We are looking to do this at costs that reduce our risks.”

Where do Ineos’s ambitions end?

Douglas Fraser, business and economy editor, BBC Scotland

Ineos has grown rapidly to take on a widening range of strategically important assets in the UK and far beyond.

It does so with a management team tightly grouped around chairman Jim Ratcliffe, travelling light, nimble in decision-making, and snapping up opportunities while oil, gas and debt remain cheap.

Its roots are firmly in chemicals, with $40bn (£30bn) annual sales, and 18,500 employees across 105 sites in 22 countries.

In his control of the Grangemouth refinery and petro-chemical plant in central Scotland, Mr Ratcliffe showed his smart but ruthless streak, taking on Unite the union, threatening a shut-down and forcing a humiliating retreat.

While doing so, he sent a message to governments in Edinburgh and London that he controls the tap on a facility that is vital for the national economy.

Image copyright Getty Images

The reward for getting more workforce flexibility was investment in a new plant processing ethane, which Ineos ships from the US.

The company moved upstream from 2015, buying mature and new oil and gas fields. That year, it bought assets from German-owned L1, comprising 8% of UK gas production.

Earlier this year, it bought offshore assets from DONG Energy of Denmark, including fields in UK, Danish and Norwegian waters. Priced at $1bn, they pump 100,000 barrels per day, and have 570 million barrels of viable reserves.

The deal made Ineos one of the top ten UK producers, and the biggest in private hands.

Last month, the company took over the Forties Pipeline Network from BP, feeding Grangemouth with nearly 40% of the UK’s oil and gas production, drawing from 85 facilities.

Meanwhile, Ineos is leading the push for fracking in Britain. Scottish MSPs have closed that option, but the company is acquiring fracking opportunities in England. And yesterday, it signed a major deal that will see it shipping fracked US gas to China.

At least two questions arise: where do its ambitions stop, and when will its scale begin to limit its efficiency?

Recoverable gas reserves

The deal with Siccar Point Energy includes the so-called Lyon cluster of potential fields in an area of deep water known as the Northern Gas Fields. These lie around 150 km (90 miles) north of Shetland, under 1,600 metres of water.

The Lyon field is expected to yield between one and three trillion cubic feet of recoverable gas reserves, meaning that it could become a hub for surrounding fields.

Other finds in the area were made 18 years ago in fields named after whisky distilleries – Tobermory, Bunnehaven and Cragganmore.

Siccar Point already has a stake in these, along with Total of France and the energy group SSE.

However, these finds are too small to be viable without a bigger hub, to which they could be connected by pipelines.

Paul Hollywood splits from his wife after 20 years

Paul Hollywood and his wife Alex HollywoodImage copyright PA
Image caption Alex Hollywood describes herself on Twitter as a “FoodieMutha recipe tweeter”

Paul Hollywood and his wife Alex are separating after nearly 20 years of marriage.

The Great British Bake Off judge and his wife, who is a chef, said in a joint statement: “It is with sadness that we have decided to separate.

“Our focus continues to be the happiness of our son… we ask the press and public to allow us privacy during this very difficult time.”

They previously separated in 2013 when the TV baker admitted having an affair.

Image caption Hollywood said his affair with Marcela Valladolid was ‘the biggest mistake of my life’

Hollywood confessed to having had a relationship with Marcela Valladolid, his co-star on the US version of Bake Off, which was axed after one series due to poor ratings.

He and his wife got back together a few months later and he described the incident as “the biggest mistake of my life” in an interview with BBC Radio 5 live.

Speaking at the time, he said he “was shocked about the whole thing kicking off the way it did… but I deserved it and I’ve taken it”, adding: “It was my punishment.”

Hollywood will return as a judge for the second series of Channel 4’s The Great British Bake Off next year, having moved with the show when it went to Channel 4 from its original home on the BBC last year.

He was head baker at a number of hotels before finding TV fame, launching his own bread firm and writing recipe books.

Follow us on Facebook, on Twitter @BBCNewsEnts, or on Instagram at bbcnewsents. If you have a story suggestion email

Not a fan of Black Friday sales? Try making it Buy Nothing Day

FORGET the shopping frenzy prompted by Black Friday – a sales initiative celebrated the Friday after Thanksgiving in the US.

Charities and organisations in Bradford are hosting their own alternative – Buy Nothing Day – to help profile their work helping people to manage their money.

Artworks Creative Communities along with Credit Union, Storehouse, Shared Spaces, University of Bradford Full Scale, Martin House Hospice, Cycle Recycle and many more will be creating a ‘Currency Free Zone’ at the Delius Arts and Cultural Centre in Great Horton Road, Bradford.

Participants will be able to play and explore creatively with food and fun things to make during the event which runs from 3 until 7pm on Friday November 24.

For more information email the project coordinator, call 01274 256919 or visit

Donald Trump’s ‘Spitting Image’ to go on show

Trump puppet
Image caption The Donald Trump puppet could star in a US spin off of Spitting Image

A rubber caricature of US President Donald Trump designed by one of the creators of Spitting Image is to go on show for the first time.

The show’s co-creator Roger Law said he was approached by US network NBC about rebooting the show.

The American spin-off is expected to be penned by US writers, although the puppets will be made in the UK.

Law’s Trump puppet will go on display in Norwich as part of a retrospective of the artist’s work.

Mr Law said about Donald Trump getting the Spitting Image treatment: “I am a reformed old gentleman but I get very angry about things.

“It’s puppets, not people so you can get away with murder.”

Image caption The rubber caricature of Donald Trump was carefully wheeled up to the exhibition space

Asked if he thought the US leader would post a critique about his puppet parody, Law said: “That’ll get a few more viewers… He spends six hours a day watching television so of course he’ll watch it.”

Roger Law created Spitting Image in the 1980s alongside Peter Fluck and Martin Lambie-Nairn.

The show ran for 13 years, parodying figures from Margaret Thatcher to Arthur Scargill.

Image caption One of the gallery staff readies the Donald Trump puppet for display

The exhibition will feature an array of the Ely-based artist’s work, including some of the puppets as well as his work as a ceramic artist, which has seen him establish himself in Jingdezhen, one of China’s most famous porcelain centres.

Mr Law described walking through the retrospective as “like drowning”, adding: “All these images you’ve done in the past come back to haunt you.”

The Trump puppet will stand alongside a number of other near life-size upper torso puppets including a Spitting Image Margaret Thatcher.

Image caption The puppet was made for a potential US reboot of Spitting Image

The gallery’s Elaine Wood said: “This is the first time the new Trump puppet will be shown. It is certainly the startling object in the exhibition.”

The exhibition Roger Law: From Satire to Ceramics will run from November 18 until April 3 2018 at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts in the University of East Anglia in Norwich.

Kevin Spacey mural to be removed from Manchester office

muralImage copyright Hussain Nurbhai
Image caption The mural was created as the firm’s owner was a fan of Spacey’s role in House of Cards

A large mural of Kevin Spacey will be removed from the side of a Manchester office after allegations made against the Hollywood actor.

The double Oscar winner’s conduct has come under scrutiny following claims of sexual harassment in the US and UK.

A mural of him was created in 2015 by the artist Akse on the side of the Nurbhai accountancy firm near Kingsway.

Owner Hussain Nurbhai said he “was a big House of Cards fan”, adding he was now “adamant” it should be removed.

He said the mural would now be changed but would not confirm what would replace it.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Netflix has stopped production on House of Cards

The mural of Spacey is one of about 15 artworks by Akse that are dotted around Manchester, including images of Mahatma Gandhi and Star Wars actress Carrie Fisher.

Spacey has been subject to a series of sexual assault and harassment claims in the past three weeks.

Police in London confirmed earlier in November they were investigating an alleged assault on a man from 2008.

Earlier, the Old Vic theatre in London said it had received allegations from 20 people of inappropriate behaviour by Spacey, who was its artistic director between 2004 and 2015.

The critically-acclaimed venue says it “truly apologises” for not creating a culture where people felt able to speak freely.

Image copyright Google
Image caption The mural is in a prominent position near one of the busiest roads in Manchester

Spacey said on 2 November he was seeking treatment, in the wake of the allegations.

His career has been hugely damaged by the claims, with US network Netflix ending further production of House of Cards.

His agent and publicist have also dropped him as a client, and he has been dropped as the recipient of a special Emmy award.

He will also be replaced by Christopher Plummer in the role of late oil tycoon John Paul Getty in the upcoming film, All the Money in the World, which had already been shot.

Paddington 2 severs Weinstein company ties

Paddington 2Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The film has had rave reviews from critics

Paddington 2 has severed ties with the studio co-founded by beleaguered Hollywood producer, Harvey Weinstein.

Warner Bros has now bought the rights from The Weinstein Company (TWC) and StudioCanal, which financed the film.

Paddington 2 producer David Heyman had said he was “trying to break Paddington out of prison” to ensure TWC did not distribute the film in North America.

Dozens of women have accused Weinstein of sexual assault and harassment. He denies non-consensual sex allegations.

Image copyright StudioCanal
Image caption The film sees Paddington find an innovative way to clean windows

TWC sacked Weinstein last month following the revelations.

Heyman, who also produced the Harry Potter films, said at the London premiere of Paddington 2 earlier this month that he was “looking for alternative distributors”.

Paddington 2 is now out in the UK but will not be released by Warner Bros in the US and Canada until January.

The film stars Hugh Grant, Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Ben Whishaw and Dame Julie Walters.

It debuted at the top of the UK box office this weekend, taking £8.26m, knocking Murder on the Orient Express off the top spot.

Follow us on Facebook, on Twitter @BBCNewsEnts, or on Instagram at bbcnewsents. If you have a story suggestion email

Cocaine smuggler dies in jail after bungled £200 million plot

A COCAINE smuggler who was jailed for his part in a calamitous £200 million transatlantic drugs plot has died in prison.

John Powell, of Airedale Mews, Silsden, was given a ten year sentence in 2015 for skippering the 62-foot yacht Makayabella, which was intercepted off the Irish coast in September 2014 with 41 bales of the narcotics onboard. He had pleaded guilty to two charges of drug trafficking and importation.

He was part of a gang which centred on Guiseley and in which his son Stephen was the “main man“. Other members were from a number of areas including Ilkley, Otley, Bradford and Leeds.

John Powell, who was 73, died in Wandsworth prison.

A Prison Service spokesperson said: “HMP Wandsworth prisoner John Powell died in custody on Tuesday 31 October 2017.

“As with all deaths in custody there will be an independent investigation by the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman.”

Powell suffered from a number of medical conditions and his lawyers had claimed the ten year sentence would effectively be a life sentence for him.

His son Stephen Powell, of Netherfield Road, Guiseley, was jailed for 16 years in 2014 for his “crucial role” in the plot.

Stephen’s wife Dawn Powell, a 56-year-old grandmother, also of Netherfield Road, was convicted of money laundering but cleared of a charge of conspiracy to import cocaine.

Last year convicted drug smuggler James Hill was sentenced to 11 years in prison after the Court of Appeal overturned his original sentence.

Hill, who was 31 and from Ilkley, was originally convicted at Leeds Crown Court in September 2015 and sentenced to six years in prison for his role in a conspiracy to import over a tonne of cocaine into the UK.

John Powell was sentenced in Cork Circuit Court alongside two others.

The court heard of an error-strewn voyage from Venezuela towards the UK, which attracted the attention of the US, France, UK and Ireland.

One of the crew,who was a drug addict and alcoholic, broke his wrist en route and had ripped open one of the bales of cocaine to get high on his own supply to fend off hunger six days after the crew ran out of food.

Drinking water was also running out when the yacht was stormed by the Irish Navy in the Atlantic 200 miles off the south-west coast of Ireland.

Inspector Fergal Foley, a Garda investigator, said the vessel was in a grim state.

“To be quite blunt, they were delighted to see the Navy,” he said.

The whole plot started to unravel four days before when another vessel, known as the Sea Breeze, had to be rescued from the Irish Sea after it ran out of fuel 18 miles off Rosslare, Co Wexford.

After being towed ashore, Irish authorities became suspicious at the large amount of food, drums of diesel, cannabis and satellite phones they found onboard.

Around the same time, a US merchant ship reported the Makayabella foundering in the Atlantic.

Cork Circuit Court was told Stephen Powell, 48, of Netherfield Road, Guiseley, was a “major player” in the UK drugs underworld and the “main man by a step and a half” behind the operation.

Selfridges mistakes Manchester bee for wasp in motif mix-up

'Wasp' mug SelfridgesImage copyright Selfridges

Selfridges has apologised for describing Manchester’s famous worker bee emblem as a wasp on its merchandise.

The corporate gaffe was discovered on a ceramic mug being sold on the store’s website.

The company said there was a copy error online which had now been corrected.

The bee motif symbolised the city‘s solidarity after the Manchester Arena bomb attack in May when hundreds of people got bee tattoos.

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionThe worker bees uniting Manchester

Manchester City and Manchester United players wore a bee badge on their shirts when they played a fund-raising derby for the bomb victims in the US in July.

A company spokeswoman said: “There was a copy edit error when uploading the product to our website, which has now been rectified, and will be visible when the website reloads overnight.

“We’d like to thank BBC Manchester for bringing this to our attention and would like to apologise for any offence caused.”

But the blunder has already drawn a scathing reaction from Mancunians on social media.

“Oh dear obviously some bod in London didn’t check their facts,” said Paula Collins.

“The only mugs are the ones who will buy this don’t get stung by them cashing in on MCR,” added Bill Shepherd.

The bee has been incorporated into a host of logos in the city from renowned brewers Boddingtons to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Salford.

Manchester’s bee

  • The bee has been an emblem of Manchester since the Victorian era
  • Several theories exist about how it became the city’s symbol, but a popular one suggests a German architect described Manchester, then rich with mills and factories, as a “hive of activity”
  • It is a worker bee, symbolising the industry of the city and its people, and was adopted into Manchester’s coat of arms in 1842
  • The bee can be found around the city, including on bollards and in the mosaic tiles of the Town Hall