Amelia Smith

Amelia Smith

Ben Stokes said he was protecting gay couple in fight, court told

The cricketer Ben Stokes feared being violently attacked by two men carrying weapons as he intervened to protect a gay couple on the receiving end of homophobic abuse, a jury has heard.

The Durham and England player said in a statement read to Bristol crown court that he became involved in a violent street fight to stop his “gay friends” from being beaten up. The 27-year-old maintained in the statement that he only remained involved in the brawl, during which he knocked two men unconscious, because he believed he and others were in serious peril. The court was told Stokes had been on a night out with England teammates, including Alex Hales, in Bristol city centre last September, celebrating a victory over the West Indies in a one-day international match. Ben Stokes: Amateur footage shows alleged fight outside Bristol nightclub – video The former England vice-captain said he had consumed five vodka mixer drinks and two or three beers before he and Hales met gay couple Kai Barry and William O’Connor outside the Mbargo nightclub in the city shortly after 2am.

The prosecution earlier this week had alleged that Stokes had been mimicking the couple’s “flamboyant and exaggerated” mannerisms and walking style in a “derogatory manner”. But Stokes denied being homophobic in the statement, which was given to police on 20 November last year. On the contrary, Stokes said he became involved in an altercation with former serviceman Ryan Hale and firefighter Ryan Ali, friends since childhood, when he witnessed them abusing Barry and O’Connor. “As the group came to my attention, I heard some of what was being said,” he told police. “I recall that the language being used was homophobic in nature and was being directed at Kai and William by Ryan Hale and Ryan Ali. Ryan Ali arrives at Bristol crown court. Photograph: Ben Birchall/PA “Ryan Ali and Ryan Hale were taller and broader than Kai and William. I noticed that they both had glass bottles in their hands. “What Ryan Ali and Ryan Hale were saying was far from harmless banter, it was nasty homophobic abuse.” Stokes said he intervened and told Ali and Hale “leave it out – you shouldn’t be taking the piss because they’re gay”. He claimed Ali replied: “Shut the fuck up and fuck off or I’ll bottle you.” CCTV footage played to the court showed the unfolding of the fight, during which Stokes knocked out Hale and, later, Ali. Hales, who was interviewed under caution but not arrested, could also be seen kicking Ali repeatedly as he lay on the floor.

Stokes maintained he acted in self-defence throughout. “They were complete strangers,” the statement continued. “We knew that they were prepared to use weapons that could do serious injury and I feared they could have other weapons with them.” Ryan Hale, centre, arrives at Bristol crown court. “The force I used in defending us was reasonable and entirely justified when the circumstances are viewed objectively,” he said. Footage from a body camera worn by arresting officer PC Stacey Allway showed Stokes handcuffed in a police car. In the video, played to the jury, Stokes was told: “You’re being arrested because of the man in the red with the blood.” Stokes replied: “He was abusing my two friends for being gay.” He asked Allway to loosen the handcuffs, claiming he was in pain from a cricketing injury. Off-duty police officer Mark Spure told the jury he had immediately identified Stokes as the “main aggressor” when he happened upon the fight after leaving the Mbargo nightclub.

Asked by Nicholas Corsellis, for the prosecution, why he had chosen two particular men to try to get between, Spure told the jury: “One individual seemed to be the main aggressor, trying to get at another individual. In my statement I described him as having ginger or light brown hair with a green T-shirt on. The other man seemed to be trying to back away or move away from the situation.” He added: “While I was trying to stop the fighting, one man struck another with a clenched fist and he fell to the floor.” The trial continues.


Criticism grows of Johnson’s burka jibe

Former foreign secretary Boris Johnson is facing growing criticism over his remark that Muslim women wearing the burka “look like letterboxes”. Dominic Grieve, the ex-attorney general, said he would quit the party if Mr Johnson became leader. Ex-Tory chairwoman Baroness Warsi said his remarks could trigger a rise in hate crime. Senior Tories have urged him to apologise but Mr Johnson has not done so, and has stood by his comments. In a Daily Telegraph article, he said full-face veils should not be banned, but it was “absolutely ridiculous” women chose to “go around looking like letterboxes”. He also compared them to looking like “bank robbers”. A source close to the former London mayor has said: “We must not fall into the trap of shutting down the debate on difficult issues. “We have to call it out. If we fail to speak up for liberal values then we are simply yielding ground to reactionaries and extremists.”

But, speaking on BBC Radio 4’s The World at One, Mr Grieve – a former Remain campaigner who has previously clashed with Mr Johnson over Brexit – said his behaviour was “very embarrassing”. Mr Grieve said he would “without the slightest doubt”, quit the Tories if Mr Johnson became leader, “because I don’t regard him as a fit and proper person to lead a political party”. Earlier Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright said there was no reason not to have a “robust conversation” about the subject, but added: “We’re not talking to our friends in the pub. We are public figures and we have an additional obligation to be careful.” A former Tory chairman, Lord Pickles, said Mr Johnson, who was foreign secretary until resigning last month over Brexit, risked “closing down” the debate with his “illiberal language”.

Supporters of Mr Johnson say the row is politically-motivated and that other senior Tories have made similar remarks without such criticism. Media playback is unsupported on your device Media captionSenior Conservative Muslim peer Lord Sheikh calls on party to take whip away from JohnsonMr Johnson, who is a former mayor of London and the current MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip, has long been seen as a potential candidate for the leadership of the Conservative Party. He fronted the successful Leave campaign in the 2016 EU referendum, and resigned as foreign secretary last month in protest at Theresa May’s Brexit plans. Writing in the Guardian, Baroness Warsi said Mr Johnson’s remarks were “indefensible” and “have no place in the modern Conservative Party”. She said, although he was setting out a liberal position on the burka, he was doing it in an “alt-right” way, and using Muslim women as “political fodder… to stake out a leadership bid”. “Johnson’s words… send out a message that Muslim women are fair game,” she wrote. Image copyright PA Image caption Baroness Warsi was the first Muslim woman to sit in a British cabinet But mother-of-seven Tahira Noor, who has been wearing a burka for 20 years, said it was “100% my choice” and Mr Johnson’s comments showed a “lack of knowledge”. She told BBC Radio 5 Live: “In today’s day and age, the majority of the women who wear the burka are born and brought up in this country, are educated in this country, they’ve been to colleges, universities, and have understood why they want to do what they’re doing. ”

They’re under no oppression, they’re not doing it because their husbands want them to or their fathers want them to.” Ms Noor has four daughters and none of them wear a burka. “I haven’t forced my daughters into it because I don’t have to,” she said. “It’s not a must, it’s not an obligation.” Media playback is unsupported on your device Media captionBoris Johnson ‘has caused offence’, PM saysMr Johnson’s former adviser Munira Mirza said Mr Johnson’s views on the burka had been “entirely consistent” and other Conservative politicians had expressed the same view, without being called Islamophobic. In 2013 former Justice Secretary Ken Clarke – who also opposed a ban on the public wearing of burkas – said they should not be worn while giving evidence in court. He referred to burkas as a “peculiar costume” and a “kind of bag”. Ms Mirza said: “The reality is there is a political fight here. “People who frankly couldn’t care less about the issues that Muslim women face are piling into Boris because Boris said it.” What is Islamophobia? By BBC home affairs correspondent Dominic Casciani Last year, Zaynab Hussein, a mother from Leicester, was left fighting for her life after a man she didn’t know smashed into her with his car – and then ran over her again. She was attacked because she was a Muslim. Tell Mama, the national organisation that collects anti-Muslim attack statistics, says that the majority of street victims of such abuse and violence are women, for the same reason that Mrs Hussein was singled out: some Muslim women are easily identifiable by their mode of dress – and therefore easy to target. Seven years ago Baroness Warsi said prejudice against Muslims had passed the “dinner table test”.

And Mr Johnson’s critics regard his “letterbox” and “bank robber” comments as part of the problem the peer defined: normalising prejudice and dehumanising women, rather than calmly debating the complexities of the veil in an open society. Since Baroness Warsi’s warning, there has been the launch of a cross-departmental working group to tackle anti-Muslim hate. But it has been criticised as toothless, not least because the government can’t agree a definition for Islamophobia. What Boris Johnson said In his Daily Telegraph column, Mr Johnson – who last month quit the government in protest at Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit policy – was commenting on the introduction of a burka ban in Denmark. He said he felt “fully entitled” to expect women to remove face coverings when talking to him at his MP surgery – and schools and universities should be able to take the same approach if a student “turns up… looking like a bank robber”. “If you tell me that the burka is oppressive, then I am with you,” he said. “If you say that it is weird and bullying to expect women to cover their faces, then I totally agree – and I would add that I can find no scriptural authority for the practice in the Koran. “I would go further and say that it is absolutely ridiculous that people should choose to go around looking like letterboxes.” He said businesses and government agencies should be able to “enforce a dress code” that allowed them to see customers’ faces. But he said: “Such restrictions are not quite the same as telling a free-born adult woman what she may or may not wear, in a public place, when she is simply minding her own business.” He said a total ban on face-covering veils would give a boost to radicals who said there was a “clash of civilisations” between Islam and the West, and could lead to “a general crackdown on any public symbols of religious affiliation”.

What do you think about Boris Johnson’s comments?

Ian Paisley could be fired by voters in UK’s first recall ballot

Ian Paisley could be fired by voters in UK’s first recall ballot

Ian Paisley, who followed his father into politics, failed to declare family holidays worth £50,000 paid for by the Sri Lankan government.

A petition opens today which could result in the Democratic Unionist MP Ian Paisley losing his seat. The recall petition, the first in parliamentary history, was triggered last month when MPs voted to suspend the politician for 30 days after he failed to declare two luxury holidays paid for by the Sri Lankan government. If 10 per cent of the electorate in his constituency of North Antrim back the petition, a by-election will be held.

Mr Paisley’s suspension is due to begin in September and is the longest faced by a member since the 1940s. He was found guilty of serious misconduct after failing to declare £50,000 of family holidays and then lobbying ministers to prevent an international inquiry into Sri Lanka’s human rights violations.

Watchdog threatens NHS over fertility treatment for transgender patients

Watchdog threatens NHS over fertility treatment for transgender patients

The NHS has been threatened with legal action by the equality watchdog if it does not offer transgender patients access to fertility services before they start transitioning treatment.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) said it took the first step towards a judicial review by writing a pre-action letter to NHS England on Friday over the “outdated” policy that discriminates against the transgender community. Patients undergoing treatment for gender dysphoria, where individuals suffer discomfort or distress over a mismatch between their biological sex and gender identity, can lose their fertility. The watchdog said they should be offered the opportunity to store their eggs or sperm, otherwise, thousands could be forced to choose between the essential medical treatment and not having their own biological children.

The NHS said the EHRC had “misplaced their fire” and pointed towards ministers being responsible for the policy. But EHRC chief executive Rebecca Hilsenrath said: “Our laws and our values protect those who seek treatment for gender dysphoria. “This means that where appropriate, treatment should be made available in order to ensure that access to health services is free of discrimination. “A choice between treatment for gender dysphoria and the chance to start a family is not a real choice. We have asked NHS England to reflect on the true breadth of their statutory mandate and the impact on the transgender community of these outdated policies.” Individual Clinical Commissioning Groups currently decide whether to provide the “gamete extraction and storage” to patients, but the EHRC said “many” chose not to for transgender patients. An NHS England spokesman said: “Decisions on which services are commissioned by NHS England are taken by ministers based on advice from an independently-chaired panel of health experts and patient representatives, using a process set out in primary legislation.”


Police chase jet-ski riders on River Thames

Police chase jet-ski riders on River Thames

A police chase which saw officers in a boat pursue four jet-ski riders on the River Thames has been captured on film. The chase, which one onlooker described as looking like something out of an action movie, took place at around 6.30pm on Friday. Sightings were reported on social media from Greenwich to Canary Wharf. Leigh Jackson, 34, watched part of the chase from his Surrey Quays balcony, where he was enjoying a meal with his partner and sister. “You often do see police boats coming up and down here patrolling, but you don’t often see them engaged in a chase,” he said. Mr Jackson described seeing the vessels “screeching past” towards central London at first. “Then 15 minutes later they came back the opposite way, again being chased,” he said. Despite the first pass of the chase being exciting, Mr Jackson feared an accident could occur involving other river traffic. Mr Jackson’s girlfriend Kristina Kuznetsova filmed the second half of the chase, showing a Metropolitan Police marine policing unit boat pursuing three jet-skis at speed. A fourth jet-ski can be seen hanging back. Marine Policing Unit officers pursued four jet skis this evening after reports that they were speeding down the River Thames.

The Metropolitan police confirmed on Saturday it had responded to reports of jet-skis driving at speed down the River Thames.

Police arrest a man for the murder of Paul Halley at Carluke.

Police arrest a man for the murder of Paul Halley in Carluke.

Police Scotland have tonight verified that a 33-year old guy was arrested and charged in relation to the passing of 43-year old Paul Halley at Carluke. Around 1020 am on Sunday, July 29, authorities received a report of a guy’s body being found at a flat in Hozier Street at Carluke. Adhering to a post-mortem examination police afterwards revealed they were handling the death as a murder enquiry. The 33-year-old guy is supposed to appear before Lanark Sheriff Court on Monday, August 6.


Andy Murray’s tears of joy remind us how far he’s been overlooked

Andy Murray’s tears of joy remind us just how much he has been missed

Obviously that being 2018 there were sceptics. Social networking bores told Murray to”man up” and explained his behaviour as an”embarrassment”.

One colleague of mine asked:”What’s Murray yelling about beating a no-mark Romanian?” Broadly, there are just two main motives for Murray’s response. The first is that annually spent recovering from an intractable hip injury delivered Murray into a pretty dark place emotionally. He feared he’d never play again, and as his comeback has been delayed further and further the odds of him being able to compete in the top level appeared distant.

Moscow 17 rapper Incognito killed in triple stabbing at scene of friend’s shooting in Camberwell

Moscow 17 rapper Incognito killed in triple stabbing at scene of friend’s shooting in Camberwell

A gangster rapper who featured on the former BBC DJ Tim Westwood’s YouTube channel has been stabbed to death two months after a member of his group was shot dead in the same street.

Best of Moscow17 Incognito:

The last snapchat of Incognito:

Sidique Kamara, 23, was ambushed in front of residents in Camberwell, southeast London, at 7.20pm on Wednesday. Two others were injured. He died near the spot where Rhyhiem Barton, 17, was shot dead in May. Both belonged to the rap group Moscow 17. Last week, Mr Kamara, also known as Incognito, wrote on Snapchat that he regretted not going to the aid of his friend Latwaan Griffiths, 17, who died after a moped rider dropped him, bleeding from knife wounds, outside a local hospital. Mr Kamara wrote: “When bro called me…


England have a delicate underbelly and want powerful love

Enough is enough… England have a soft underbelly and need tough love

We’ve seen on a few occasions now that this England facet have a delicate underbelly — and we noticed it again on a superb first day of the collection towards India at Edgbaston. Cruising one minute at 216 for 3, they had been quickly scrambling around at 224 for six. It was a reminder of why Check cricket stays the very best type of the sport — and why this England side are in want of a little bit of powerful love in the event that they’re going to manoeuvre on to the following stage. First up, we must always take our hats off to Virat Kohli. I stated earlier than this recreation that England needed to beware his ardour. We’ve heard about Kohli the batsman and Kohli the captain.

Nevertheless, it was Kohli the fielder who modified the course of the match. Joe Root is run out by Virat Kohli throughout day one of many first Check at Edgbaston on Wednesday Kohli mimics Root’s mic drop celebration after ending the batsman’s probabilities of a century The way in which Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow had run between the wickets, it in all probability wasn’t unfair to imagine there was a second run obtainable after Bairstow had tucked Ravichandran Ashwin into the leg facet. However, Kohli hared after the ball and threw it, off-balance — with simply one-and-a-half stumps to the purpose at. It was a phenomenally athletic piece of fielding and a traditional instance of how a captain can carry his facet with one second of brilliance. I additionally cherished his celebration. Principally, the man doesn’t overlook something. After Root marked his hundred within the third one-day worldwide at Headingley with that ‘mic-drop’ celebration, all of the images had Kohli within the background, quietly paying attention to what he was watching. And so he blew a few kisses, put his finger to his lips, dropped an imaginary mic and presumably mouthed an obscenity. I don’t have an issue with any of that. Kohli capitalised on a mix up between Root (R) and Jonny Bairstow to make the breakthrough Root lies on the ground dejected after freely giving his wicket softly towards India  I assumed it was ridiculous when Kagiso Rabada bought finished for shouting ‘f*** off’ after dismissing Ben Stokes at Lord’s final summer season, particularly as a result of Rabada was in all probability simply letting off steam on the scenario somewhat than Stokes himself. I believe Kohli was doing the identical. I wish to see cricketers displaying ardour.

They’re not robots — and these Indian guys are enjoying below a lot of stress. Their fans need to be blissful that Kohli’s pumped up. He’s a harmful beast when he’s. That stated, England has let India off the hook. With Root and Bairstow wanting set, issues had been going swimmingly. They had been scoring large first-innings runs and giving Adil Rashid a complete to work with later within the recreation. The script couldn’t have been going any higher. I don’t essentially blame Root or Bairstow for the run-out. Nor do I blame Root for failing to transform yet one more half-century. If something, I’ve complete admiration for the truth that, virtually every time I search for, Root’s elevating his bat to acknowledge yet one more 50. However, the reality is there have been simply too many delicate dismissals. What number of England batsmen had been actually bought out? The England captain makes his approach again to the pavilion after being dismissed for 80 Alastair Prepare dinner for certain. However, Keaton Jennings and Bairstow, each dragged on, Root was run out, Jos Buttler missed a straight one and Ben Stokes chipped a lame return catch. Somebody has to say sufficient is sufficient. And that’s why Root shall be so pissed off that he couldn’t flip his 80 into 180.

Not enough players on this facet are making large a whole bunch, and the easiest way for Root to determine his place because the chief of the group is to set that instance. If he doesn’t, others need to step up and recognise the necessity to seize the second. That second was at 216 for 3. And, as a substitute, it was Kohli who seized it. Ben Stokes appears to be like to the skies after being caught and bowled by India’s Ravichandran Ashwin

Grenfell Tower site to be managed by Government following police probe

Grenfell Tower site to be managed by Government following police probe

Grenfell Tower will come under Government control once detectives wrap up their 13-month investigation at the site. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) announced it would take over legal responsibilities instead of Kensington and Chelsea Council this month. It followed anger among survivors and bereaved families at the prospect of the tower’s remains being handed to the council, as the legal owner. Officials from the authority were likewise reluctant to trigger sensitivities through any involvement, with anger still simmering over the role it played in the botched refurbishment blamed for fuelling the fire. Specialist teams from Scotland Yard have been picking through the remnants of the blaze as part of a vast investigation into the disaster on June 14 last year. The husk of the west London block is now shrouded in white sheeting while those touched by the tragedy decide on its future. The Government has re-committed today to putting the #GrenfellTower bereaved, survivors and community at the heart of deciding what happens to the future of the site.

The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC) will remain legal owners of the building, but the Government will make operational decisions until its fate is decided, the MHCLG said on Wednesday. Natasha Elcock, a survivor from Grenfell Tower and member of survivor and bereaved group Grenfell United, said: “We are relieved that the Government has listened to us and stepped in to make sure that RBKC will not be managing site and will have no involvement in any decisions about the site. “It’s hard to put into words how personal what happens to the site is to all of us who lived in the tower, lost loved ones in the fire, and for the wider community. “The people we lost that night will be forever in our hearts and it will be survivors, bereaved families and the community that will make decisions together about what happens to the site now and how we remember the loved ones we lost.” The Government will take decisions about the site including security arrangements, safety, and access. This will then be put into action by the independent team who has overseen day-to-day management of the site since last July, led by Doug Patterson, chief executive of Bromley Council. A formal agreement will be finalised in the autumn, the MHCLG said. The move paves the way for the creation of a “fitting memorial” once the tower is demolished, the shape of which is being planned by survivors and bereaved. The MHCLG reaffirmed the Prime Minister’s “own personal commitment” that the process will be led by those affected and the wider community. Survivors and bereaved families will take control of the site once an “appropriate body” representing them has been established. Core participants and expert witnesses to the public inquiry still require access to the site, the Government said, which “must continue to take priority”.