Olivia Williams

Olivia Williams

Olivia Williams was born and raised in London, England. She was a bookseller before shifting to Royal family coverage for UKCelebrityNews where she has worked on numerous stories. She lives in London city and is tall for no reason.

Brexit: 80 Tory MPs will reject Chequers plan says former minister

The Conservatives face a “catastrophic split” if Theresa May relies on Labour votes to push her Chequers plan through parliament, one of the prime minister’s most persistent critics has warned, as the conflict within the party over Brexit intensified. After a weekend dominated by coverage of Boris Johnson’s views on the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, and his tangled personal life, the former junior Brexit minister Steve Baker used an interview to mark 200 days before departure to argue May must take a different approach. Baker, who quit in July over Chequers, said at least 80 Conservative MPs would be willing to vote against the plan, which Eurosceptics argue ties the UK too closely to the EU on regulation and alignment, hampering future bilateral trade deals. The issue is expected to dominate the Conservatives’ annual conference at the end of the month, with MPs from the hard-Brexit-backing European Research Group (ERG), which Baker formerly chaired, hoping to sink the Chequers proposal. “If we come out of conference with her hoping to get Chequers through on the back of Labour votes, I think the EU negotiators would probably understand that if that were done, the Tory party would suffer the catastrophic split which thus far we have managed to avoid,” Baker told the Press Association.

“We are reaching the point now where it is extremely difficult to see how we can rescue the Conservative party from a catastrophic split if the Chequers proposals are carried forward. “It is absolutely no pleasure whatsoever to me to acknowledge that, but I look at the mood of colleagues and the mood of the Conservative party in the country and I am gravely concerned for the future of our party.” While it is widely acknowledged that Johnson, who also wants May to abandon the Chequers plans, is seeking to position himself as the next prime minister, Baker said he was not advocating a change in leadership. “Time is running awfully short for anyone who thinks a leadership contest and a general election is a good idea,” the Wycombe MP said. The justice secretary, David Gauke, disputed Baker’s assessment. Asked by Sky News if Baker’s view was accurate, he said: “No, I don’t think it is.” Gauke castigated Baker and fellow Eurosceptics for not having a coherent plan of their own: “This is a process that is going to require compromises from all sides. And I think it is really important that we go forward with the Chequers proposal. Frankly, there isn’t an alternative that has been put on the table by the critics of Chequers. We haven’t had an alternative set out.”

Gauke was similarly critical of Johnson after a furore over an article by the former foreign secretary on Sunday, in which he argued May’s Brexit plans amounted to “a suicide vest around the British constitution”. “I don’t think his comments yesterday were well judged,” Gauke said. “And, returning to the substance, I don’t think he’s set out an alternative approach to Brexit, in contrast to the Chequers plan. This is a time where we have to seriously address the issues in front of us, have a serious plan to deal with the situation. The prime minister is a serious politician who has set out serious plans.” Asked later by BBC Radio 4’s Today programme as to whether he could serve under Johnson, Gauke said there was no vacancy, adding: “I’m probably not a natural Boris supporter.” The former education secretary Nicky Morgan likened the “suicide vest” comment to a previous Johnson article in which he likened Muslim women wearing the niqab to “letterboxes”. Both were “deliberately incendiary language which just masks the ability to debate the issues”, she said. Morgan added: “Boris has to make a decision – I think he’s sort of made it. He’s either a journalist or a he’s a politician. He knew exactly what he was doing when he was using that language.” Baker and his ERG allies are seeking a so-called Canada-plus deal, which would be based around free trade, but with notably more limited alignment to EU rules. The ERG has been drawing up its alternative Brexit plan based on this.

A draft leaked over the weekend showed it also called for significant tax cuts, something strongly argued for by Johnson in his weekly column for the Daily Telegraph on Monday. Baker said the ERG had decided to hold back on the publication of its detailed plan in order to focus on a plan to avoid a hard Irish border after Brexit, which he said was the “key to the gate” to a satisfactory agreement. Another ERG member, the Tory MP Simon Clarke, told Today he believed this was possible, adding: “The Northern Irish border issue is one that has been greatly exaggerated and abused. I think, for Irish domestic political reasons and by the EU itself. I think there are good reasons to believe that if you want to solve the problem then you can.”

 

Boris Johnson launches fresh attack on May’s Brexit plans

Boris Johnson launches fresh attack on May’s Brexit plans

Boris Johnson has used his first newspaper column of the new parliamentary term to attack Theresa May’s Chequers plan, saying it means the UK enters Brexit negotiations with a “white flag fluttering”. The declaration amounts to a significant escalation the former foreign secretary’s guerrilla campaign against the prime minister and her Chequers plan a day before the Commons returns and at a time when party disquiet over the direction of the divorce talks is mounting. Johnson wrote that “the reality is that in this negotiation the EU has so far taken every important trick.

The UK has agreed to hand over £40 billion of taxpayers’ money for two thirds of diddly squat”. Johnson added that by adopting the Chequers plan, which will see the UK adopt a common rule book for food and goods, “we have gone into battle with the white flag fluttering over our leading tank”. It will be “impossible for the UK to be more competitive, to innovate, to deviate, to initiate, and we are ruling out major free trade deals,” he added. The intervention comes after a summer in which the former minister, who resigned over the Chequers deal, had avoided touching on Brexit in his Daily Telegraph column – although he did unleash a storm of complaint by describing fully veiled Muslim women as looking like letter boxes and bank robbers. It will be seen as preparing the ground for a leadership challenge to May just as the Brexit negotiations reach their critical phase in the autumn, which is to culminate in any final deal agreed by the UK government being put to parliament for a vote. The Commons returns for just over a week on Tuesday, the first chance for Conservative MPs to compare notes about the state of grassroots feeling over Brexit. Many ordinary members, who have the right to chose between the final two candidates chosen by MPs, are unhappy with Chequers, fearing the plan amounts to a loss of sovereignty. Johnson called on May to return to the argument of her Lancaster House speech of January 2017. He said that on the current plan: “We will remain in the EU taxi; but this time locked in the boot, with absolutely no say on the destination. We won’t have taken back control – we will have lost control.” Another group of Tory MPs is also set on halting the Chequers plan.

The 20 backbench rebels, including former ministers Priti Patel and Iain Duncan Smith, have joined the StandUp4Brexit group, a grassroots campaign that has vowed to tear up the EU negotiations to date. Right wing Tories are expected to offer their own alternatives to the Chequers plan in the coming weeks, arguing that the UK should instead strike a free trade deal with the EU, in which the country would leave the single market and customs union. But it is not clear how far the EU will be willing to go along with anything that enhances the UK’s competitive position. On Sunday, David Davis, another former cabinet minister, criticised May for admitting she would have to make compromises to the EU beyond the Chequers agreement in order to achieve a Brexit deal.

The former Brexit secretary told the BBC’s The Andrew Marr Show that he could not vote for what has been proposed because it was worse than staying in. Davis, who also resigned because he said he could not endorse the Chequers deal, was speaking after the prime minister had said in a column for a Sunday newspaper that she would “not be pushed into accepting compromises” on the Chequers plan that are “not in our national interest”. He said May’s words amounted to “an incredible open sesame”, arguing the problem with the UK position was that it was “not the last step” for the EU, and Brussels would not accept it. On the same programme, the international trade secretary, Liam Fox, indicated the government may have to make further concessions. He said the EU had to understand “this is a negotiation”, and added: “We have already set out what we think is a reasonable position for the UK to have in our future trading relationship with Europe. We are waiting for the EU to come back to us with their view.”

 

Chris Evans to quit BBC Radio 2 Breakfast Show for rival Virgin

Evans’ departure to a Rupert Murdoch-owned radio station tests the limits of the BBC’s ability to hold on to its biggest stars after new rules forced the disclosure of leading presenters’ pay. His exit to a deep-pocketed commercial rival follows that of Radio 4 presenter Eddie Mair, who has left to join LBC. It is thought Evans was unhappy with the very public criticism of his pay packet and BBC chiefs struggled to match his demands during recent negotiations.

They have privately raised concerns that the media attention on pay disclosures will put talent off joining the broadcaster, although there are no major concerns that other stars are about to leave the corporation. Evans took a pay cut following a public outcry over presenters’ incomes – partly as a result of quitting Top Gear – but was still paid between £1,660,000 and £1,669,999 by the broadcaster in the previous financial year, making him the BBC’s second-highest paid star after Gary Lineker.

He will present his final Radio 2 show in December, 13 years after presenting his first show for the station. Speculation over his replacement has focussed on Sara Cox, another former Radio 1 breakfast show host, who currently presents a late-night programme on Radio 2. The station currently only has one woman in its daytime line-up: Jo Whiley, who co-presents the drivetime programme with Simo Mayo. Evans will take over the Virgin Radio breakfast show from the new year.

The current version of the station was relaunched in March 2016 and recently bought by Murdoch’s News UK, under the leadership of the former Sun editor Rebekah Brooks. The company hopes to develop a major presence in British radio. The digital-only station reaches 413,000 listeners a week, compared with the 15 million who listen to Radio 2. Announcing the move on-air, Evans suggested he was leaving for family reasons. “The twins are on their way,” he said, but he added that he was looking for a “new adventure”.

Evans previously quit the BBC in a flurry of publicity to host the breakfast show on the old Virgin Radio from 1997 to 2001, which he briefly owned before selling on at a substantial profit. The deal turned sour and ended up in court when he was sacked having failed to turn up for work after going on an alcohol binge with Billie Piper. The station was later rebranded as Absolute Radio. Chris Evans and his wife, Natasha Shishmanian.

In a statement, Evans said: “I have absolutely loved every single moment of my time at Radio 2. The last 13 years have flashed by in what seems like the blink of an eye. I have learnt so much from so many people to whom I will be eternally grateful.” Citing his late predecessor, Terry Wogan, Evans added: “As Sir Terry said before me, there’s never a right time to leave something you love, but there might be a wrong time if you hang on too long.” Evans took over from Wogan as host of the Breakfast Show in January 2010. Audience figures peaked in 2014 at 9.91 million listeners a week, but have fallen since.

In May, the BBC said his show had attracted 9.12 million listeners a week in the first quarter of 2018, down slightly on the previous year. Evans said on Monday, however, that the show was “in fine shape for its next custodian. Whoever that turns out to be, I wish them all the very best, they are in for an absolute blast.” Tony Hall, the director general of the BBC, said: “Chris has been an absolutely first-class presenter of the Breakfast Show. He has brought both warmth and a genuine insight into what listeners want.

“He has given 100% to each of his BBC projects, including raising millions of pounds for Children in Need. I’d like to thank him for all his efforts over the years and wish him all the best for the future.” Lewis Carnie, the head of Radio 2, said: “Over the past eight years on Breakfast, Chris has built an incredibly close relationship with the Radio 2 audience. I’d like to thank him, on behalf of them all, for becoming their friend via the airwaves. We look forward to launching a brand new Radio 2 Breakfast Show early in the new year.”

 

‘Come out of hiding’, Jewish leader tells Jeremy Corbyn

The president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews has accused Jeremy Corbyn of hiding from the antisemitism crisis engulfing the Labour party and called on him to “come out of hiding” and face up to the issue. Marie van der Zyl said Corbyn had “seemingly disappeared” since last weekend, when he released a video and comment pieces, as she repeated a call for Labour to embrace the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism in full. Jeremy Corbyn: ‘I want Jewish people to feel at home in the Labour party’

“He is in hiding from the media and refuses to face the obvious difficult questions. He is clearly just hoping it will go away. I’ve got some bad news for him. Unless he does what he needs to do, it won’t,” Van der Zyl wrote in an article for Jewish News. Corbyn condemned antisemitism over the weekend, writing that it was “Labour’s responsibility to root out antisemitism in our party” in a piece published by the Guardian on Friday evening. But despite speculation that the party might move to adopt three of the four outstanding examples, Labour’s formal position has not changed. Corbyn is on holiday and was pictured at Lion Rock Tea Rooms in Cheddar, Somerset. Van der Zyl said Corbyn needed to resolve the issue and Labour should adopt all 11 examples in the IHRA code, open up the party’s disciplinary process to independent scrutiny and acknowledge “the problematic nature of his own past actions”. “You cannot lead through invisibility,” Van der Zyl concluded.

“I call on Jeremy Corbyn to come out of hiding and do the right thing. Surely, by now, enough is enough.” Labour said it was studying Van der Zyl’s article and would respond shortly.

 

Cricketer Ben Stokes ‘mocked gay couple’ before nightclub fight, jury hears

A jury of seven men and five women was shown footage which the prosecution said depicted the Durham and England cricket star mocking the couple, Kai Barry and William O’Connor, and flicking the stub of a lit cigarette towards O’Connor’s head. Stokes denies a charge of affray relating to a fight later in the evening which left another man with a broken left eye socket. The prosecutor Nicholas Corsellis said that the incident, for which the firefighter Ryan Ali and the former serviceman Ryan Hale have also been charged with affray, was “not a moment of trivial unpleasantness, but a sustained episode of violence which left onlookers shocked”. Ali and Hale have also denied the charges. Bristol crown court heard on Monday that Stokes “lost his control” and acted way beyond the realms of self defence during a fight outside Mbargo nightclub in the early hours of Monday 25 September last year. Stokes had attended the nightclub together with the England captain Joe Root and teammates Alex Hales and Jonny Bairstow after England’s ODI victory over the West Indies earlier in the day. Stokes and Hales left the nightclub at about 12.45am but returned to Mbargo at 2.08am.

The jury heard that they were refused entry and that Stokes attempted to bribe his way into the nightclub by offering the bouncer £60 and then £300. The jury heard that Stokes then insulted the doorman Andrew Cunningham, telling him: “Look at the state of your teeth” – in reference to his two gold front teeth – “They make you look like a cunt.” Stokes arrived at Bristol crown court just before 9am and was greeted by a throng of photographers. There were eight police officers guarding the gate as he exited a silver people carrier with blacked out windows in front of his wife, Clare Ratcliffe, with whom he has two young children, and his agent Neil Fairbrother. The all-rounder played a decisive role in England’s narrow Test victory over India at Edgbaston last week. The 27-year-old helped bowl England to a tense 31-run win, taking the key wicket of India’s star batsman Virat Kohli. Stokes celebrated his match-changing role at Edgbaston, which has been compared to some of the great pivotal moments in Test history, with a roar and a double fist pump in front of a 25,000 crowd. But by 10.30am on Monday, just three days later, the former England vice-captain sat glumly in the dock of courtroom number one. He changed his position from staring intently to sitting with crossed arms as the jury was told he had made a v-sign towards Cunningham after he was refused entry to the nightclub. Stokes, from Castle Eden, Durham; Ali, from Bristol; and Hale, from Westbury-on-Trym, Bristol, are on bail. The case, which is expected to last up to seven days, continues.

 

The Grenfell inquiry: tragic revelations of failure, buck-passing … and bravery

It took 36 minutes for a fourth-floor kitchen fire to sweep 20 storeys up to the top of Grenfell Tower in the early hours of 14 June 2017. The public inquiry into the disaster, which went on to claim 72 lives, is taking far longer. Barristers are now homing in on what happened second by second, with much of the evidence centring on the controversial refurbishment of the 1974 building, ordered in 2012 and completed in 2016. Serious fire safety breaches The inquiry has heard from several witnesses that Grenfell Tower was riddled with faults that accelerated the fire and made survival harder.

Dr Barbara Lane, a technical expert, said a “culture of non-compliance” had meant more than 100 fire doors failed fire regulations. The mechanical smoke ventilation system broke eight days before the fire, according to Martin Booth, the managing director of PSB, which made the system. No one involved in the refurbishment, or in the council’s building control department, seems to have checked on how the external cladding system (installed as part of the refurbishment) performed in a fire. ‘A merry-go-round of buck-passing’ Counsel to the inquiry Richard Millett QC warned organisations involved in the refurbishment evidence not to “indulge in a merry-go-round of buck-passing”. Celotex, which made the combustible insulation, said little beyond issuing condolences. Arconic said that while the core material in the cladding panels it supplied was “obviously combustible”, they were “at most a contributing factor” to the fire. Professor Luke Bisby, a consultant to the inquiry, had said they were the primary cause of fire spread across the building. Arconic claimed no one would have died if the uPVC windows had been built with greater fire protection. It was also up to purchasers to decide if its panels could be “safely and appropriately used”, it added. London fire brigade and cladding fires An internal LFB document issued in 2016 showed pictures of raging cladding fires in Dubai, Shanghai, Grozny and Baku. It concluded: “There is a need to understand what products are being used in the facade system and their fire behaviour”. The LFB also sent a letter to some London councils warning “external fire spread on high-rise residential buildings as a result of being clad in combustible panels presented a generic health and safety issue”. Yet its firefighters knew very little. Michael Dowden, the first incident commander, agreed his knowledge of this risk was “as good as the person in the street”.

The ‘stay put’ strategy The fire spread so fast that the official “stay put” strategy (advising residents to stay in their flats rather than enter potentially hazardous communal areas) failed at 1.23am, according to Dr Barbara Lane, one of the inquiry’s fire safety experts. Yet the London fire brigade kept the policy in place until 2.37am, when 107 people were still inside. Only 36 got out. The LFB asked if evacuation was feasible with only one staircase, no fire alarm and no way to communicate an evacuation alert. Dowden said he had not been trained in how to reverse “stay put” and did not have enough resources to get people out. More senior officers arriving around 45 minutes before “stay put” was abandoned thought an evacuation should have been ordered. Firefighters were sent in to evacuate some people while 999 operators were telling others to stay put. Sharon Darby, an operator 13 miles away in east London, said she had no idea how bad the fire was. “I remember googling the fire and thought to myself, ‘oh my God, we’ve been telling people to stay put (in) that’.” Grenfell Tower in June this year. Faults in the building made the fire harder to control, the inquiry has been told. Firefighters went into ‘a war zone’… One of the first firefighters into the building, Charles Batterbee, described the scene as “a war zone”. After just 20 minutes, Dowden was outside his comfort zone. As a watch manager, he should have been in charge of a fire requiring only four pumps. By the time he was relieved, it was a 25-pump fire. He was “consumed by sensory overload”. Firefighters found the building only had a dry riser, rather than a wet riser, which is mandatory for buildings more than 50 metres high. This meant high-pressure water could not get to the top of the building. A routine fire brigade document supposed to contain building details had not been updated since 2009. … but showed remarkable bravery amid panic and terror “I have never seen fear in the faces of the firefighters as I saw that night,” said firefighter Daniel Brown. But one by one they risked their lives. David Badillo and Chris Secrett climbed 20 storeys to try – in vain – to rescue Jessica Urbano Ramirez, 12. She had moved up to the 23rd floor, but they did not know because radio communications had “completely failed”. Secrett almost ran out of air and put himself in a corner of the stairs to be out of the way if he died. The evacuation Failing radios meant information from 999 calls was ferried into the building on pieces of paper, the inquiry heard. For a period there were not enough firefighters in breathing apparatus to try to rescue people.

Some gave their respirators to children, which meant they themselves inhaled toxic smoke. One firefighter carried an unconscious child and couldn’t tell if they were dead or alive. Many firefighters later required medical attention. Two firefighters who went to the 16th floor to save a man and came back down with Ed Daffarn did not realise they had actually been sent to rescue bed-bound Joseph Daniels, 69. They had knocked on his door but there was no answer. Daniels died. Living with trauma During the hearings, hardened firefighters needed regular breaks. They rarely shed tears but their faces would sometimes go blank as if some overwhelming thought or feeling had overtaken them. Gareth Cook, who ferried child casualties, described how his trauma was triggered at a friend’s barbecue. Glyn Williams, who co-ordinated the 999 information at the base of the tower, said the fire had had “a massive emotional impact”. “I have found it very difficult to deal with the events of Grenfell Tower,” Dowden told the inquiry.

 

Struggling ambulance trust considers using volunteer drivers

The plans have been floated by East of England Ambulance Services Trust, one of many worst performers within the nation on essentially the most pressing response instances, which stated it was contemplating such steps due to issues round capability. Senior paramedics have expressed deep concern in regards to the “determined” plan, saying it may put sufferers and employees in danger. The trust stated volunteers had been concerned in affected person care for many years and that their involvement can be restricted to much less critical instances. The concept was put ahead in an inner electronic mail seen by the Health Service Journal (HSJ).

In it, the trust’s senior management stated it wished suggestions from group first responder volunteers on “very early discussions” for the way they may very well be additionally used. This included proposals for them driving ambulances. The volunteer group first responders would solely be utilized in “low acuity affected person” instances. The trust additionally instructed HSJ it will think about using different emergency companies and the navy this winter to plug staffing gaps. However one senior paramedic at East of England Ambulance Providers was “completely horrified” by the proposal for volunteer ambulance drivers, even for low acuity sufferers, including that it confirmed how “determined” the trust was forward of the winter, suggesting issues round delayed response instances, skilled final winter, may very well be repeated. The senior paramedic, chatting with HSJ on the situation of anonymity, added: “Does it pose a danger to affected person security? Certainly. What occurs if the affected person abruptly deteriorates and must be blue lighted to the hospital? “The paramedic within the again can’t do it. They must be attending the affected person. The employees are very towards it. As a paramedic, you need to be working with somebody who’s certified and is aware of what they’re doing. “I’ve by no means heard something like this in all my years. CFRs fulfil a vital position of their respective communities, however, they need to be there of their communities, not on frontline ambulances. “I instructed colleagues at different trusts in regards to the plans and so they have been completely horrified.”

Group first responders can be members of the general public who’ve acquired primary coaching in life-saving interventions similar to defibrillation, off-duty ambulance employees or professionals from a non-medical self-discipline who could also be close by or attending emergencies, similar to firefighters or safety officers. They get 5 days “intensive” coaching on how you can give primary however usually essential assist earlier than paramedics can get to an affected person. An electronic mail to employees from native managers despatched this week stated: “[The senior leadership group want] to acquire suggestions from CFR teams on the potential utilisation of CFRs in supporting double-crewed ambulances and attending low-acuity sufferers the place the CFR may then doubtlessly drive certified crew members and sufferers to the suitable receiving acute or acceptable care dwelling. “This feature does require the driving licence holder to additionally maintain C1 on their licence [which allows the holder to drive vans up to 7.5 tonnes].” In a press release, the trust stated volunteers had been supporting affected person take care of over 20 years including: “Many individuals who volunteer and work in affected person transport companies deliver earlier abilities and information that may contribute otherwise to the supply of companies throughout instances of maximum service stress.” It stated CFRs may very well be despatched to non-injury fall sufferers – those that fall however are usually not critically damage, usually aged, who might merely need assistance to stand up – and it burdened: “That is info gathering on the proposed two choices, due to this fact ought to nearly all of CFRs agree that is one thing [the trust] ought to doubtlessly take ahead, additional detailed discussions would must be held to make sure all of the related governance, coaching and affected person security features are addressed.” It claimed using volunteers was widespread in nations similar to Canada, the US and Australia including it was “widespread place” for volunteers to employees emergency ambulances.

The assertion stated: “Whereas our long-term plan is delivered, it’s crucial that the trust contemplate each various to maximise current and various assets to assist our sufferers throughout the winter interval.”

Trump pushes Jeff Sessions to end Mueller’s Russia investigation ‘right now’

Trump frequently rages on Twitter about the Mueller investigation, which the president calls a “witch hunt”. Trump reportedly ordered Mueller fired in 2017 but backed down in the face of internal White House resistance. Trump has said that he regretted appointing Sessions because Sessions recused himself from matters relating to the Mueller inquiry. “..This is a terrible situation and Attorney General Jeff Sessions should stop this Rigged Witch Hunt right now, before it continues to stain our country any further,” Trump tweeted. “Bob Mueller is totally conflicted, and his 17 Angry Democrats that are doing his dirty work are a disgrace to the USA!”

Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) ..This is a terrible situation and Attorney General Jeff Sessions should stop this Rigged Witch Hunt right now before it continues to stain our country any further. Bob Mueller is totally conflicted, and his 17 Angry Democrats that are doing his dirty work are a disgrace to the USA! August 1, 2018, The phrase “17 angry Democrats” is Trump’s shorthand for a conspiracy theory imputing political bias to the special counsel’s team. Mueller is a Republican, his direct superior is a Republican, and his teams include members who have made political donations in the past to both Democrats and Republicans. Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff, the ranking member of the House intelligence committee, expressed alarm at the president’s order. “The President of the United States just called on his Attorney General to put an end to an investigation in which the President, his family, and the campaign may be implicated,” Schiff tweeted. “This is an attempt to obstruct justice hiding in plain sight. America must never accept it.” As head of the justice department, Sessions has authority over the special counsel investigation, and although he has recused himself, Sessions could disrupt the Mueller investigation by ordering deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein to fire Mueller or by firing Rosenstein. Sessions have made no indication of a willingness to take any such step. Trump’s lashing out Wednesday morning appeared to be prompted by the trial of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, which began on Tuesday and which is being prosecuted by Mueller’s team. “These old charges have nothing to do with Collusion – a Hoax!” Trump tweeted in reference to the Manafort trial. Trump is correct that the 18 charges of bank fraud and tax evasion that Manafort currently faces in federal court in Virginia do not directly relate to alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives. In the five months he led the Trump campaign, Manafort remained in contact with his partners in Ukraine and Russia, at least one of whom had Russian intelligence ties, and Manafort offered a Russian oligarch private briefings on the campaign. Mueller has indicted 31 individuals, including 12 Russian intelligence agents, and three former Trump aides have reached plea deals with prosecutors. Late on Tuesday, it emerged that Mueller had referred a new case, involving the alleged failure of a Democratic lobbyist and a former Republican congressman to register as foreign agents, to prosecutors in New York. Previously, Mueller referred a case involving former Trump attorney Michael Cohen to prosecutors in New York.

 

Middle-class cocaine users are hypocrites, says Met chief

Cocaine was used by an estimated 875,000 people in 2017-18 according to the latest crime survey for England and Wales – the highest number in a decade and a 15% year-on-year rise. Cressida Dick, the UK’s most senior police chief, said: “There is this challenge that there are a whole group of middle-class – or whatever you want to call them – people who will sit round … happily think about global warming and fair trade, and environmental protection and all sorts of things, organic food, but think there is no harm in taking a bit of cocaine. Well, there is; there’s misery throughout the supply chain.” Her words echoed those of the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, last week. He criticised people who took cocaine at “middle-class parties” believing it to be a victimless crime.

In May, the justice secretary, David Gauke, said middle-class people who take cocaine “should feel a degree of guilt and responsibility” when they see stories of teenagers being murdered in Hackney, east London. Drugs and gangs have been behind the spate of “street homicides” in London that have mainly involved young people, Dick said. There have already been 87 homicides this year, compared with 117 in the whole of last year. National statistics published last month showed a surge in serious offences such as murder, manslaughter and stabbings, helping to fuel concerns about violent crime. However, Dick said the picture was stabilising. “What I can report is that in the last several weeks, we have seen the rates of many categories of violent crime, I would describe as beginning to stabilise,” she said. “I mean by that they are definitely not increasing, they are indeed flattening, and in some categories they are reducing.” Dick said there had been “continuous reductions” in scooter-enabled crime since last summer – although there was a rise which she described as a “blip” in June – and that knife crime involving under-25s was starting to fall. There had only been one “street homicide” in July, Dick said: 18-year-old Latwaan Griffiths died of stab wounds after being dropped off at hospital in Camberwell, south London, by a moped rider. Dick made violent crime her priority when she became commissioner. Since she set up the violent crime task force in April, it has made more than 500 arrests and taken more than 200 knives and offensive weapons, and13 firearms, off the streets. She said the Met had conducted more than 10,000 weapon sweeps since April, yielding 1,200 knives, 140 firearms and 450 other offensive weapons. She said 74 people had been charged and 123 arrested in relation to the 87 homicides this year. Dick defended stop and search, which is controversial for its disproportionate use against black people, saying it had led to more than 200 of the arrests made by the task force.

 

Firefighters ‘weren’t trained for the toxic conditions of Grenfell’

Firefighters ‘weren’t educated for the poisonous situations of Grenfell’

Firefighters usually are not trained to steer folks to security via the kind of toxic conditions they confronted in the Grenfell Tower fire, an officer who attended the blaze has stated. Giving proof to the official inquiry into the catastrophe, Glynn Williams, a firefighter for 18 years, stated: “The FSG [fire service guidance] coaching we obtain teaches the best way to co-ordinate a focused rescue to folks which might be unable to evacuate. We’re educated to rescue that particular person and produce them right into a secure surroundings. We don’t obtain any coaching that includes taking an individual via a poisonous surroundings 20-plus flooring excessive, and produce them to a secure surroundings on floor stage.” An professional report by Dr Barbara Lane, the chief of fireside security engineering at Arup, printed within the second week of the inquiry, discovered that the tower’s cladding produced poisonous smoke that slowed down the firefighters as a result of they needed to put on respiratory equipment and “the last word consequence was a disproportionately excessive lack of life”. In his written assertion, Williams stated: “It regarded as if gases have been omitting from the constructing because of the warmth. I’ve seen hearth reacting to gases beneath stress earlier than however to not this scale.” Williams was evening responsibility watch supervisor at Fulham hearth station when the fireplace broke out. He and his crew arrived on the scene of the incident at 1.50am. His assertion, which is one among dozens being learn as a part of proof to the inquiry, conveyed the sense of confusion and horror amongst firefighters. “There was a girl carrying a little bit boy,” he stated. “As the lady walked handed me crying, I requested them the place the remainder of their household have been, to which the little boy stated, ‘All lifeless’.” Williams gave his helmet to a little bit woman being carried out in her pyjamas to guard her from falling particles. “She in shock as her eyes have been broad open,” he stated. Williams was coordinating the FSG [Fire Survival Guidance] calls, which specify which individuals want rescuing and their whereabouts. He described the amount as unmanageable, with duplicate info coming in, and particulars about those that had been rescued tough to glean. He stated there was “a breakdown in communication between the administration throughout the lobby”. Williams instructed the absence of a working hearth elevate, which meant the stairwell was congested, hampered the rescue operation. He stated one other stairwell, an working hearth elevate, a working mechanical smoke extraction unit, a protected stairwell, ample hearth doorways and set up of sprinklers would all have assisted firefighters. “The Grenfell Tower had a large emotional impression on me and shortly after the incident I began to really feel actually offended that I didn’t go in and rescue somebody,” he stated. “After I was asleep I began to have visualisations of the little woman’s face who I had given my helmet to.”