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The Sunday Times UK — 7 January 2018

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January 7, 2018 · Issue no 10,087 ·
£2.70 · only £2 to subscribers · Sunday Newspaper of the Year
Google makes millions
from plight of addicts
Company boosts profits using
‘parasites’ preying on vulnerable
Google is profiting from a practice
banned in America in which brokers secretly reap millions of
pounds from vulnerable people
seeking treatment for addictive
diseases in the UK.
An undercover investigation by
The Sunday Times has found that
the internet giant charges the
middlemen as much as £200 each
time someone accesses their website with a single click on the advertised link at the top of a Google
search page.
The brokers, known as referral
agents, advertise themselves as
free advice helplines but are able to
afford the exorbitant Google rates
because they can receive as much
as £20,000 a month commission
by referring only one caller to private rehabilitation clinics.
The huge commissions, which
are not openly declared to
patients, are blamed for increasing
significantly the cost of private
care for people suffering from
addictions. One agency uses 300
websites to lure thousands of
addiction sufferers to its call lines.
Sarah Wollaston MP, who chairs
the health select committee, called
on Google to stop selling advertisements to referral agents.
She said yesterday: “The level of
payments for these referral agents
via promoted links cannot be justified in my view especially as those
desperate to tackle their addictions are unknowingly picking up
the bill.”
Google — which made £59bn
from advertising in 2016 — refuses
to take ads from referral agents in
America where the practice is
against the law in several states.
But it is not illegal in the UK, and
Google has compounded the problem by creating a bidding war
between referral agencies who
want their ads to appear at the top
of the opening page of an internet
Dominic McCann, the development director of the Castle Craig
addiction hospital in Scotland, said
last week that his clinic now
refused to use referral agents,
arguing that they lacked transparency. He described them as “parasites targeting sick people at the
most desperate time of their lives”.
The disclosures come as sufferers of addictive disorders are
increasingly being driven to seek
private treatment because it is diffi-
The head of the UK’s biggest referral agency is founder of the Amy Winehouse Project, a drug clinic in the US, where referral fees are banned
cult to access similar services after
NHS cuts. Drug-related deaths in
the UK are at an all-time high.
Leading clinic providers such as
the Priory Group, Gladstones,
Charterhouse, Regain Recovery
and Bayberry are all said to have
May plots to reshuffle whole
six-pack of cabinet ministers
Tim Shipman and
Caroline Wheeler
Theresa May will move or sack at
least six members of her cabinet in
a reshuffle tomorrow designed to
refresh her top team and make the
Tories look more like the diverse,
modern country they lead.
Boris Johnson has been spared
demotion and, along with Philip
Hammond, Amber Rudd and
David Davis, will stay in his post.
But a group of younger women and
non-white MPs will be drafted into
the ministerial ranks.
Those tipped to move or be
sacked include party chairman
Patrick McLoughlin; education
secretary Justine Greening, said to
have annoyed May with her
“patronising” tone; Greg Clark, the
business secretary; and Andrea
Leadsom, leader of the Commons
— who are all seen as “dead wood”.
May will appoint a first secretary
of state to replace Damian Green,
who resigned from the Cabinet
Office last month. Jeremy Hunt and
Chris Grayling have been linked to
the role. And she will say today that
she is scrapping a vote to end the
ban on foxhunting, first revealed
by The Sunday Times.
Full story, page 8
used referral agents. Critics say the
large commissions raise the cost of
treatment for all patients generally
because the referral agents insist
the clinics charge the same price to
all their clients.
filmed two meetings last year of
the UK’s leading referral agencies
discussing their business arrangements with Google and the rehabilitation clinics.
The reporters were posing as
executives from a new treatment
centre that was to be opened in
They met Daniel Gerrard, the
head of the UK’s largest referral
agency, Addiction Helper, at his
offices in Elstree, Hertfordshire,
Continued on page 2 →
Is it game, set and final
blow for Andy Murray?
Barry Flatman
Tennis Correspondent
There were fresh doubts this weekend whether Andy Murray would
ever challenge for a Grand Slam
title again as it emerged his hip
injury is worse than feared.
The former Wimbledon champion Pat Cash revealed Murray was
plagued by extensive discomfort in
both hips, not just his right one.
Murray has not played professionally since Wimbledon last July;
last week he pulled out of the Australian Open. Andrew Castle, the
former British No 1 player, said
there was “little chance” of him
going for major titles after surgery.
Team Murray’s torment
and triumph, News Review,
pages 26-27.
Double hip surgery, Sport
Elite football
clubs lure
child fans
into gambling
Jon Ungoed-Thomas
More than half of the country’s
Premier League football clubs face
a crackdown on gambling sponsorship as a Sunday Times investigation reveals schoolboy players and
junior fan clubs are being used to
promote the betting industry.
Clubs such as West Ham and
Stoke City have been using some of
their youngest players, who are not
legally permitted to gamble, to
help promote sponsors including
Betway and Bet365. Some clubs
also advertise betting sites to junior fans who can play casino games
there without age verification.
offered by some of the biggest
sponsors of Premier League clubs,
such as Newcastle United sponsor
Fun88, include Penguin Splash,
Big Top Circus and Santa Paws.
The Remote Gambling Association, which represents the online
gambling industry, said this newspaper’s investigation had exposed
breaches in the advertising rules at
some Premier League clubs and
there had been a lack of oversight.
Britain’s gambling companies
provide more than £47m in shirt
sponsorship deals for Premier
Clubs. Nine clubs have betting
companies as their main shirt
sponsor. Watford and West Bromwich Albion have gambling companies as shirt-sleeve sponsors.
West Ham and Stoke City took
down pictures from their websites
showing under-18s with gambling
ads after being contacted by The
Sunday Times. They said the
images had been posted inadvertently. Swansea City removed its
gambling sponsor Letou from the
Junior Jacks section of its website.
Newcastle said it was investigating.
Investigation, page 7
TV & Radio
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The Sunday Times January 7, 2018
In your Sunday Newspaper of the Year
While injury may force an end
to Andy Murray’s career, his
27-year-old brother-in-law has
conquered the South Pole alone
Leaf Arbuthnot takes on the
new world champion
The star of Marvel’s
superhero fantasy Black
Panther is ripping up the
action movie rulebook
{ Your stars 2018: What lies
ahead for work, love and family?
Five feline deaths in Northampton may be linked to 400 more
James Gillespie
From Daniel Day-Lewis’s screen
swansong, Phantom Thread, to
a Freddie Mercury biopic, our
critics pick the best events
Our indispensable guide to
climbing the property ladder
Director Ridley Scott’s decision
to drop Kevin Spacey from his
J Paul Getty drama richly
rewards its audience
The actor and singer
on poached eggs, his
parrot and getting
to know his
Welsh fiancée’s
Classical pianist James Rhodes
talks about his abusive
childhood and need to speak
out on mental health issues
Check out
our bumper
14-page guide
to Britain’s
summer holiday
Magazine podcast:
or subscribe on iTunes
If your paper is incomplete we will send you the missing
section(s) subject to availability. Telephone 020 7711 1521 or
email your details to:
with Missing in the subject.
Man held over
cat deaths ‘may
be serial killer’
18, 28, 31, 32, 44, 51
Bonus 50
4, 6, 16, 24, 34
Thunderball 2
2, 5, 20, 38, 41
Lucky Stars 4, 8
Britain’s most hunted serial killer may
have finally been seized after a reign of
terror lasting more than two years in
which 400 have fallen victim to his
A man has been arrested over a string
of cat killings in Northampton, raising the
question as to whether he is the notorious Croydon cat killer, whose death toll is
put at 400.
Police are investigating if the 31-yearold man, arrested after five cats were
found dead and mutilated in the town
between August and November last year,
could be the south London killer.
Northamptonshire police said the suspect, who was arrested in connection
with arson attacks and cat mutilations in
the Duston and Kingsley Park areas, has
been released under investigation.
The force confirmed that it is working
closely with the Metropolitan police
inquiry into a spate of animal deaths,
known as Operation Takahe.
The Northampton offences are similar
to attacks in the London area but officers
cannot yet be sure they were carried out
by the same person. The five cats in
Northampton were all dismembered in a
similar way with their heads cut off.
In previous slayings the killer has often
left no blood trail at the scene, leading
police to believe the animals were taken
away to be dismembered before their
bodies were dumped back at the scene
where they were killed.
Last night, however, doubts were
expressed over whether the Northampton man is also the Croydon cat killer.
The co-founder of a group that has
been cataloguing the deaths and helping
police with the investigation has said she
does not believe the person arrested was
behind the killings.
Boudicca Rising, who co-runs the
South Norwood Animal Rescue and Liberty centre (Snarl), warned pet owners
their animals are still not safe. “The killer
has not been caught,” she declared.
She believes the cats and other small
animals have been slaughtered across the
country by at least one culprit, who has
Cancer patients will be
among those with operations
and hospital appointments
cancelled until February,
leading to later diagnosis and
the risk of decline, a health
chief has warned.
Tracy Bullock, chief
executive of Mid Cheshire
Hospitals NHS Foundation
Trust, said on social media
that some appointments and
operations delayed by winter
pressures would be for
cancers: “Patients will
potentially deteriorate.”
Professor Karol Sikora, a
cancer consultant, also
feared the backlog would put
patients at risk: “[Because]
many cancers are detected at
routine, non-urgent surgery,
there will inevitably be laterstage diagnosis and therefore
poorer outcomes for some.”
The disclosures come as
the Royal College of
Emergency Medicine warned
that overcrowding in hospital
might say
it’s highly
→ Continued from page 1
in November. Gerrard is
the founder of the Amy
Winehouse Project, a drug
rehab centre in Florida,
where he is happy to abide by
the law that bans referrals.
But in the UK his Google
ads are generating millions of
pounds of business.
“It’s a very difficult
industry to work in,” Gerrard
admitted to the reporters.
“Some might say it’s highly
The majority
of deaths were
in and around
0 The attacker was first nicknamed the
Croydon cat killer because the killings
are believed to have started in the
South Norwood area in 2015
0 Small animals, including rabbits and
foxes, have since been found dead and
mutilated across the country but
particularly around the M25
0 At least one killing in Godalming,
Surrey, which may be linked, dates
back as far as 2011
0 Scotland Yard has deployed 10
officers and enlisted the National
Crime Agency in its hunt for the killer
also been dubbed the M25 cat killer and
the UK animal killer.
There have been a string of reported
attacks over the Christmas and new year
period in south London, north London,
Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire and Tunbridge Wells in Kent.
“What is really clear from the timeline
over Christmas is that he [the attacker]
was in south London and then started
travelling again,” Rising said.
The attacker was first called the
Croydon cat killer because it is believed
the deaths started in the South Norwood
area in 2015, although it is also thought
that there may have been cases dating
back as far as 2011.
The Met has been working with the
RSPCA and Snarl, while a £10,000 reward
has been offered to anyone who provides
information that could lead to the arrest
of the killer.
Hospital delays ‘will cost
cancer patients’ lives’
Sarah-Kate Templeton
and Caroline Wheeler
cats have
been killed
since 2015
A&E departments would
result in deaths. Consultants
are having to move some
patients out of resuscitation
rooms and into corridors
because space is needed for
other patients.
One senior nurse in the
southwest, Lorrae Allford,
told of patients being
examined by doctors in
Medical staff are under
extreme pressure
bathrooms and taking turns
to go into a cubicle for
examination before being
returned to a corridor.
New Labour Party analysis,
verified by the House of
Commons Library, showed
the number of patients
waiting longer than 30
minutes in the back of an
ambulance soaring by 183%
since December 2010.
Last month 59,065 people
waited more than 30 minutes
before being admitted to A&E
against 20,837 in December
2010. December 2017 also
saw the lowest average
number of paediatric
intensive care beds available
in six years, second lowest
number of general and acute
beds since records began and
second highest number of
A&E diversions on record.
NHS England said: “This
should not affect urgent
operations, including for
cancer as well as time-critical
tests. These procedures and
appointments should go
ahead as planned.”
unethical” — though he
himself denies any
He said his business was
spending £350,000 a month
on Google advertising each
month to ensure people
seeking treatment for
addiction came to his free
helpline first.
He said he met Google
representatives every three
months to ensure that his ads
remained “number one” on
an internet search.
To increase the “coverage”
Gerrard also operates or uses
300 sites that appear when
addiction-related search
terms are keyed into Google.
He demonstrated the
effectiveness of this tactic
by doing a random Google
search for the reporters that
brought up five of his sites on
the first page.
Gerrard said his call-centre
staff would say they were
paid by the clinic if asked
directly, but were under
instructions not to reveal the
amount. He says his helpline
provides a valuable service
in finding the best treatment
for addicts and staff are
instructed to offer helpful
advice to callers regardless of
whether they can afford
private rehabilitation.
The second referral agent
who met our reporters was
also reluctant to be open with
patients about the huge
amounts of money he earns
from their treatment fees.
Oliver Clark, the director
of ADT Healthcare, said he
would “definitely not” tell the
patients about his 30% cut
because they “don’t like the
idea of paying broker fees”.
Both said they
recommended the best
treatments for addicts
irrespective of the fees.
In response to our
investigation, the
Department of Health said:
“It is disheartening that those
seeking privately funded
help for their addiction are
potentially being exploited.”
costs ‘to
soar after
Tony Grew
Retailers are warning that
new VAT arrangements after
Brexit could drastically
increase the cost of importing
goods from the EU.
Under a Commons bill to
be debated tomorrow, a
reported 130,000 firms will
have to pay VAT on imports
up front after the UK leaves
the single market and
customs union, including the
EU VAT area, next year.
The British Retail
Consortium has warned this
will create acute cashflow
problems and “may require
companies having to take out
costly bank or insurancebacked guarantees”, forcing
up the cost of the imports,
The Observer reported.
The Tory Nicky Morgan
said the Treasury committee,
which she chairs, would start
an urgent investigation.
The Sunday Times January 7, 2018
Genie, brown up some extras for Aladdin
The live version of the
Disney classic being shot
in London is under fire for
failing to make full use of
the local Asian community
Guy Ritchie,
seen with wife
Jacqui Ainsley,
is directing
“Whitewashing” —
where a white actor
plays an Asian or black
character — has often
attracted controversy.
l Sky dropped the
broadcast of a biopic
that cast Joseph
Fiennes (white)
as Michael
l Ed Skrein
pulled out
of Hellboy
last year after
a furore over his
being cast as
an Asian character
l Tilda Swinton was
cast as the Ancient
One in the 2016 film
of Doctor Strange,
although in the original
comics the character
was a Tibetan man
l Early last year Scarlett
Johansson defended
her role in Ghost in the
Shell — which was
adapted from a Japanese
manga — saying she had
not taken the role from
an Asian actor
l In 2016, Gods of Egypt
was universally panned by
the critics, not least
because it featured
Geoffrey Rush as an
ancient Egyptian god
Andy Jones
Aladdin’s lamp seems to have lost some
of its magic in Walt Disney’s latest production. With an Asian community more
than a million strong living close to the
Surrey film set, it should have been easy
enough for the producers to conjure up
extras of the correct ethnic background
for the crowd scenes. Or perhaps not.
Disney has admitted “browning up”
dozens of white actors for Asian crowd
scenes in the live action version of its
animated classic. The company says it
resorted to darkening white people for
roles requiring skills that could not be
readily found in the Asian community,
such as stunt men, dancers and camel
The movie, to be released next year, is
being shot in Longcross, just 50 minutes’
drive from London, which is home to
about 1.1m people of Indian, Pakistani,
Bangladeshi and Arab heritage.
The Guy Ritchie-directed film, which
features Will Smith as the genie, has
already been criticised for introducing a
white character, Prince Anders — played
by Billy Magnusson — as a love rival to
Aladdin. The original Disney animation is
set in Agrabah, a fictional region based on
Disney assembled a huge and
diverse team for crowd scenes.
The company told The Sunday
Times: “This is the most diverse
cast ever assembled for a Disney
live action production. More
than 400 of the 500 background
Indian, Middle Eastern, African,
Mediterranean and Asian.” But it
is accused of not doing enough.
Kaushal Odedra, 32, was
used as a stand-in for a lead
actor during filming in
September last year, as well
as working as an extra. He
reported seeing a queue
of 20 “very fair-skinned”
actors waiting to have their
skin tone changed,” he said.
The US actor Will Smith, left, with Naomi Scott, centre, as Jasmine, Mena Massoud, right, as Aladdin and
Marwan Kenzari as Jafar. Smith, who plays the genie, posted the picture on social media as shooting began
“Disney are sending out a message that
your skin colour, your identity, your life
experiences amount to nothing that can’t
be powdered on and washed off.”
Other extras in the queue told Odedra
it was normal. “I asked a Saudi cast member what he made of having these extras
being tanned so heavily and he said it’s
unfortunate, but this is how the industry works, and there’s no point complaining about it since it
isn’t going to change.
“Also, if I’d wanted
to discuss it, speaking to
the almost entirely white crew
seemed somewhat intimidating.”
He added that he saw white
extras browned up even for
crowd roles. “On one set, two
palace guards came in and I
recognised one as a Caucasian
actor, but he was now a darkly
tanned Arab. I moved inside
Disney’s Aladdin
animation is set in
fictional Agrabah
the marquee where there were 10 extras
and two were Caucasian, but they had
been heavily tanned to look Middle
“I wonder, if the shoe was on the other
foot — where brown actors were hired
and had their skin lightened to play, for
example, the royal family — whether this
would be seen as OK.”
Riaz Meer, a Bafta-nominated TV
director and member of the Broadcasting, Entertainment, Cinematograph and
Theatre Union’s black members’ committee, branded it “an insult to the whole
industry” and to young ethnic actors
looking to get a break.
“The talent exists and is accessible and
there’s no way that Asian extras could not
have been hired to meet the needs of the
film. Failing to hire on-screen talent of
the right ethnic identity to meet the clear
needs of this production is just plain
wrong. We expect better from all film
Martin Ayers, director of Guys & Dolls,
a professional extras agency, said:
“We’ve never been asked for actors to
BA tilts against reclining seats
Mark Hookham and
Mary O’Connor
It is the scourge of modern
air travel: the passenger in
front reclines their seat, tips
your food into your lap and
crushes your knees.
Now British Airways is
planning to follow budget
carriers by introducing
economy seats that cannot
recline on flights lasting up
to four hours.
The move may prove
controversial for BA amid
criticism of its increasingly
budget-style service and
cost-cutting measures.
It recently removed free
food and drink in economy
class for short-haul flights and
faced a computer meltdown
that stranded 75,000
passengers over last year’s
May bank holiday weekend.
Passengers may soon be
forced to do their shopping
solely in the airport as the
airline is “reviewing” selling
duty-free products, such as
perfumes, on short flights.
BA will fit non-reclining
seats on its new fleet of
35 Airbus A320neos and
A321neos that will begin
coming into service later this
year. The plans could signal
the end to “legroom wars”
when rows and fist fights
break out among passengers
over whether or not they
should move their seat back.
The new economy seats will
mean there will be limited
legroom to fight over.
Some passengers are not
convinced. Marco Spiro, 25,
a financial consultant from
south London and a regular
BA passenger, said: “Very
little differentiates BA from
easyJet and Ryanair.”
BA said: “These changes
will allow us to offer more low
fares to customers.”
brown up. This is the first I’ve
heard of this in 18 years of casting.”
Laura Sheppard of Casting Collective, who supplied some extras for
Aladdin, said: “If we don’t have enough
people of a particular ethnic group on
our books, we will source people from
the required group.”
Production for the film has already
been delayed because of struggles to
find actors of suitable heritage who
could sing, dance and act. The studio
auditioned 2,000 actors before
eventually casting the Egyptian-born
Canadian Mena Massoud as Aladdin
and the British-Indian Naomi Scott as
Aladdin will be released in May
next year, with Disney hoping it will
match the success of other animations made into live action films. The
company’s 2015 version of Cinderella
pulled in £400m at the box office and
last year’s Beauty and the Beast,
starring Emma Watson, £932m.
Guy Ritchie declined to
Swinton, as
the Ancient
One in
Attenborough: Children reject nature
Jonathan Leake
Science Editor
He was an architect of British
television but Sir David
Attenborough, who once ran
BBC2, has warned modern
life, including the internet
and TV, is turning children
away from the natural world
— and many do not know
where milk comes from.
Attenborough said young
people’s increasing lack of
awareness was an
“abnegation” of nature.
Now 91, he spoke out
before his new documentary
Attenborough and the Sea
Dragon (BBC1, 8pm today), in
which he returns to his
childhood passion for fossilhunting. “When I began
collecting fossils there wasn’t
any TV — the romance was in
finding things,” he said.
“Nowadays children become
more interested in the
Attenborough: passion
internet, but if you lose that
[interest in nature] you lose
the pleasure, for example, of
watching a peregrine sitting
on a church spire.”
He described his horror at
discovering some youngsters
did not know where their
food came from. “It’s tragic
but true that when kids
discover where milk comes
from they are often appalled.
But it’s an abnegation of their
own essence.”
The Sunday Times January 7, 2018
Police told rape victim: ‘A black cab driver just wouldn’t do that’
David Collins and
Tom Harper
One was cooking dinner for
her children. Another was
surfing the web. A third was
chatting to friends. Last week
many women found out that
their attacker, the taxi driver
rapist John Worboys, was to
be freed after seeing the story
break in the news headlines.
They heard not a single
word from the Parole Board.
No official of any kind had got
in touch to warn them
Worboys had been
recommended for release
after serving nearly 10 years
behind bars including time he
had spent on remand.
This is despite their
attacker knowing where
many of them live. Worboys
was taking many victims
home in his licensed black
cab when he assaulted them.
For one of the victims, the
Parole Board’s reassurances
they are “confident” he
would not reoffend sounds all
too familiar.
“Their statement reminds
me of the comments the
police made when I reported
to them I had been raped,”
she recalled. “They said, ‘A
black cab driver just wouldn’t
do it.’ I said at the time if they
didn’t find him he would do it
again. Never in my wildest
dreams did I imagine he
would go on to do it again
another 100 times — 100 that
we know of.
“I do not share their
confidence and I am
convinced he will reoffend. I
truly hope for the sake of
every mother, daughter, wife
and sister out there that I’m
She found out on Thursday
afternoon, at 4.30pm, while
cooking dinner for her
children, that Worboys was to
be released. She had been
raped by him in 2003.
“I felt in complete shock
and utterly sickened to my
stomach,” she said. “Since
hearing the news I have been
in a state of panic.”
His victims were young,
educated, professional
women. They included a
hedge-fund manager, a
solicitor, an advertising
executive and a financial
Carrie Symonds was one.
Now director of
Notorious inmates
ready to walk free
behind Worboys
communications for the
Conservative Party, she was
19 when Worboys spotted her
waiting for a night bus in
London in 2007.
He pulled over, said he did
not like to see young women
waiting alone and offered her
a ride, even though she had
just £5. He lied and said he
lived in her area — a story
honed from his experience of
attacking women. He drove
with a rape kit that included
alcohol spiked with sedatives,
condoms, gloves and a
sex toy.
Now 29, Symonds was
praised for her courage in
2009 when she waived her
right to anonymity to
describe her encounter.
She was a star witness for
the prosecution and said
Worboys had boasted about
winning a large sum of money
from gambling. He stopped
the cab and asked to join her
in the back to toast his win.
She threw his champagne
away in case it was spiked but
accepted a second drink as
she could not get rid of it
unnoticed. She has no
memory of what happened
after that.
“I believe he got into the
front of the cab and did drive
me back then straight away,”
she said. “I feel that if I was
assaulted, I would
instinctively know. That’s
what I hope.”
Another victim,
represented by Slater and
Gordon solicitors, sued
Worboys in a civil claim five
years ago. Even then, he was
denying his crimes.
“Can he really have carried
out all of those sex crimes
and then suddenly be a
reformed character? I
seriously doubt it,” she said.
John Worboys, the “black cab” rapist
who will soon be released from prison,
may be the first in a series of notorious
criminals to walk free after the collapse of
a controversial sentencing policy
brought in by Tony Blair’s government.
Nick Hardwick, the chairman of the
Parole Board, says there are a “number of
high-profile cases bubbling away” that
involve offenders similar to Worboys,
who is set to be released after less than 10
years after convincing officials he is no
longer a threat to the public.
The decision, announced last week,
triggered condemnation from prosecutors, politicians, victims and campaigners: the rapist is suspected to be one of
Britain’s most prolific sex offenders.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS)
has been criticised for using just 14 complainants during his trial despite more
than 100 women coming forward. It
claimed many of the woman did not pass
the “evidential threshold”. Yet The Sunday Times has learnt 26 women picked
out Worboys as their attacker to police.
Worboys, a former stripper who plied
female passengers with drugged champagne in his cab, was serving an “indefinite sentence for public protection”
(IPP), a type of sentence that was banned
six years ago on human rights grounds.
Introduced in 2005, IPP sentences
offenders to be kept in prison indefinitely
unless they prove they are fit for release.
However, some inmates convicted of
relatively minor crimes languished in jail
for years, causing the European courts to
overturn the policy.
The Parole Board has released more
than 1,400 of the less dangerous IPP prisoners in the past 18 months. Worboys was
among the first of the more serious cases.
“We are now getting down to the much
more tricky cases where, in order to
release them if they have served their
tariff, we need to have very robust supervision and support arrangements,” Hardwick said. However, he stressed there
was a “core of IPP prisoners” who were
“very dangerous and who it will be
extremely difficult to release”.
In 2009 Worboys received an IPP sentence with a minimum term of eight years
l Mohammed Liaqat, the leader of a
child grooming gang in Derby, was
handed an IPP sentence with a
minimum of eight years in 2011 for a
string of offences including rape and
sexual assault. He will be eligible for
parole next year.
l Wayne Fox savagely assaulted his
girlfriend, leaving her in a coma.
Fox, then 23, was handed an IPP of a
minimum eight years in 2011.
l Vanessa George “plumbed new
depths of depravity” abusing
children in her care at Little Ted’s
nursery in Plymouth. She was
refused parole last year after serving
the minimum seven years of her IPP
sentence but could be considered
for release again next year.
for drugging and sexually assaulting
12 women. After news broke of his release
the CPS faced scrutiny over a decision to
take no action on 69 other complainants
before the trial and another 19 who came
forward to police afterwards.
Defending the Parole Board, Hardwick
said: “Part of the anxiety about this is
whether Worboys was charged with
enough offences in the first place. That is
nothing to do with the Parole Board.”
Nazir Afzal, a senior former CPS
lawyer, said he was “surprised” there
were not more charges. “If there was a
second rape on that count he would have
got a life sentence,” he said. Worboys was
convicted of just one rape.
The CPS prosecutor in the original
case, Tony Connell, has defended the
decision to limit the trial. “Complexity is
always the enemy of prosecution, it
assists the defence,” he said during a ITV
documentary in 2010.
This weekend, David Lidington, the
justice secretary, announced a review to
ensure greater transparency, with new
rules in place by the end of March. He
said: “While it is right that the Parole
Board should remain an independent
body, I believe that there is a strong case
to review how to allow greater openness
about the decision-making process.”
The CPS said complainants who were
not involved in the Worboys trial “did not
pass the evidential test”. A spokesman
said it was not in the “public interest” to
bring charges relating to the women who
came forward post-conviction “because
of the maximum sentence available to
the court”.
MPs accused of sexual
harassment could be
suspended or kicked out of
parliament under plans being
considered by a cross-party
group of MPs.
The group, set up by the
prime minister to tackle
sexual harassment in
Westminster, is expected to
recommend formal sanctions
against sex-pest MPs imposed
by an independent regulator.
The ultimate sanction
would see MPs face a
by-election in their
constituency if they refuse to
resign from the Commons
over their behaviour.
The disclosure comes days
after a leaked draft report
suggested that MPs accused
of sexual harassment would
need only to apologise or
complete an online training
course as punishment.
Andrea Leadsom, leader of
the House of Commons and
chair of the cross-party
group, said tough sanctions
will be introduced to try to
change Westminster’s
working culture.
A behaviour code will be
established to give those who
work in parliament clear
guidance on what constitutes
acceptable conduct. It will
also cover overseas visits.
Leadsom told The Sunday
Times: “Completely contrary
Leadsom: ‘We are going to
put our house in order’
Civil service pay
gap revealed
The department run by the
civil service’s “gender
champion” is paying women
less than men. Women
working at the Department
for Communities and Local
Government received on
average 5.9% less per hour
than men. The gap in the
armed forces was just 0.9%.
MP says sorry for
Kingsmill tweet
A Sinn Fein MP apologised
for posing with a loaf of
Kingsmill bread on his head
on the anniversary of the
Kingsmills massacre on
Friday. Barry McElduff said
the video, shared on Twitter,
was not a reference to the
1976 attack in which 10
Protestants were shot dead.
McElduff: denies reference
to attack that killed 10
Nikos Solis, a Greek Orthodox swimmer, retrieves a crucifix from the Bosphorus
where it was thrown as part of Epiphany Day ceremonies in Istanbul yesterday
Children get £2.54
for cleaning car
Sarah Baxter, page 22
to what has been claimed —
that we are just going to let
MPs off with a ticking off — we
are going to put our house in
order so that we can say
across the workplace that
people feel safe, respected
and valued and are treated
with decency.
“The ambition is
enormous and the intention
is for this to be a fundamental
rethink of the culture of
parliament and will therefore
require the sanctions to be
tough, which is why the
parties have had to look at the
proposals very carefully.”
Under the plans there will
be two paths of the same
complaints and grievance
procedure introduced, one
Peter Preston, editor of The
Guardian for 20 years until
1995, died last night aged 79
after a long illness. He was a
columnist for The Observer
and wrote two novels. He
leaves his wife, four children
and eight grandchildren.
My dad’s gone, News Review,
page 28
Ukraine’s former president
Viktor Yanukovych — in exile
in Russia — is suspected of
siphoning $323m (£238m)
through a UK company,
documents uncovered by
Al Jazeera are said to reveal.
The transferred sum did not
appear in the accounts of
Fincorp Resources LLP.
Sex-pest MPs to face deselection if they break ‘tough’ new code
Caroline Wheeler
Deputy Political Editor
Former Guardian
editor dies at 79
Ukraine millions
‘pass through UK’
The ‘black cab’ rapist may be just the first high-profile criminal to get parole
Tom Harper, David Collins,
Robin Henry and Tim Shipman
specifically to assist victims of
sexual harassment and
assault and another to deal
with more general cases of
workplace bullying and
Both will give the victim
and alleged offender the right
to confidentiality.
Complaints of sexual
harassment will be handled
by a trained independent
sexual violence advocate, but
both routes will have access
to the same sanctions.
If the complaint is against
an MP, the independent
parliamentary commissioner
for standards will— subject to
consultation — be given
beefed-up powers including a
new range of sanctions.
These would include the
ability to suspend a member,
withdraw their passes and
start the recall procedure that
would result in their having to
fight a by-election in their
The Commons has until
now guarded its exclusive
ability to discipline its
members. Giving the
commissioner powers over
MPs would mark a major
culture change at
“Wherever possible the
intention will be to reach an
informal resolution and not
to press the nuclear button
every time,” Leadsom said.
“But the proposed system
is very robust and will have
the teeth it needs to change
the culture and make
parliament an example to the
rest of the world.”
The cross-party group
took evidence for six weeks
but has yet to publish its
proposals. It was claimed last
month that the report had
been delayed by Labour,
which the party denies.
Theresa May authorised
the work after sexual
harassment allegations led to
the departure of two cabinet
ministers, Sir Michael Fallon
and Damian Green. Several
Tory and Labour MPs are still
under investigation.
The group is expected to
meet again later this week.
One in five parents are
happy to pay children for
chores, says a survey of
1,000 families. The rate is
highest for car cleaning
(£2.54). Washing up is £1.57
and dusting £1.53. UK pocket
money totals £2.69m, says
retailer Furniture Choice.
Rail delay payouts
rise 65% to £73m
Compensation paid to rail
passengers for delays and
poor service has soared
by almost 65% in a year to
more than £73m. Govia
Thameslink Railway, which
runs the troubled Southern
franchise, paid out nearly
£15m in 2016-17.
The Sunday Times January 7, 2018
Dana pursues false
sex abuse witnesses
The 1970 Eurovision winner
is seeking a landmark
prosecution of those who
fabricated evidence
against her brother John
James Gillespie
Up to seven witnesses in a sex abuse trial
endured by the brother of the former
Eurovision song contest winner Dana
could face prosecution for giving false
The Metropolitan police have sent a
file to the Crown Prosecution Service
(CPS) regarding the evidence given by the
seven in 2014 when John Brown, 61, from
Berkshire, was unanimously cleared of
five historical counts of indecent assault.
The charges being considered against
the former prosecution witnesses
include perjury and attempting to pervert the course of justice.
During the trial, two women claimed
to be victims of abuse that they alleged
happened when they were under the
ages of 13 and 16 at locations in Northern
Ireland and England during the 1970s.
Brown, who works in PR and the music
industry, denied all the claims. It was also
suggested by the prosecution that Dana —
whose full name is Dana Rosemary Scallon and who won Eurovision in 1970 with
the song All Kinds of Everything — helped
him cover up the alleged offences.
If the CPS decides to prosecute, it will
be the first time witnesses in a historical
sex abuse case have faced trial for making
false accusations.
Brown and his sister are being supported in their campaign to see prosecutions by the singer Sir Cliff Richard, the
Radio 2 presenter Paul Gambaccini and
the X Factor judge Louis Walsh, all of
whom have faced false allegations,
although they were not prosecuted.
A decision to prosecute in the Brown
case would also increase the pressure to
charge the witness known as “Nick”,
whose claims of a Westminster VIP paedophile ring led to the £2.5m Operation
Midland inquiry, which collapsed when it
became clear he was a fantasist.
Brown said it was important that the
witnesses in his case should face justice.
The allegations surfaced for the first time
only during a protracted commercial dispute between Dana, 66, and others.
The judge said during the trial that the
two main complainants had put “their
heads together” in making allegations.
“It [the claims] just came out of the
blue,” Brown said. “The investigation
took three years; I was on bail 773 days
and I was rebailed seven times. There
were as many as 32 police officers, four
departments and up to £1.5m of taxpayers’ money involved. We had to sell
our home and it cost my family
£200,000. I didn’t see a penny back
Sir Cliff Richard, falsely accused in
2014 of historic sex abuse, said: “I
pray that, together, we with Dana and
John will eradicate that destructive
act known as ‘a false accusation’.”
Paul Gambaccini, the DJ who was
the subject of unfounded claims in
2013, said: “I fully support John
Brown and Dana and urge them to
see their legal action through to their
The X Factor judge Louis Walsh,
who faced false allegations in a
newspaper in 2011, said: “I have
known Dana and John for many
years. I fully understand the terrible
time they went though.”
The singer Dana with brothers
John, right, and Gerald in 1981
despite the fact that I am an innocent
man.” After his acquittal he said: “In
effect, both Dana and I were put on trial.”
In the trial, the evidence of the two
main complainants was flawed to the
extent that one was not even in the country at the time of the alleged abuse. There
were also claims of abuse at a property
that had not been built at the time.
Dana, who stood for the presidency in
Ireland in 2011 and was an MEP from 1999
to 2004, said: “The fallout goes very
wide . . . The worldwide damage to your
reputation, integrity and good name can
never be undone.
“We are seeking justice and truth . . . It
is not just about one individual; it is really
important for people to keep faith in the
justice system. It is a message on behalf of
the genuine victims of abuse.”
Solicitor Kevin Winters, of KRW Law,
said: “Mr Brown and his sister Dana suffered a life-changing and terrible ordeal
due to untrue accusations. Both have
suffered incalculable damage to their
good names, reputation and family life.
“The court transcripts, fabricated
evidence and signed prosecution witness
statements prove police had been knowingly misled by complainants and prosecution witnesses and that perjury was
committed. There is sufficient evidence
for prosecution.”
Brown’s case came at a time when the
Jimmy Savile scandal had broken and
police had set up Operation Yewtree to
investigate allegations of sexual abuse
against celebrities.
Richard, who was falsely accused in
2014 of historical sex abuse although he
was not part of the Operation Yewtree
investigation, said: “I would like to join
the growing band of those people who,
like me, have been put through the most
agonising emotional trauma and I pray
that together we, with Dana and John,
will eradicate that destructive act known
as ‘a false accusation’.”
Gambaccini was the subject of
unfounded claims in 2013 and said he
supported Brown. “No man can acquiesce in his attempted annihilation. I fully
support John Brown and Dana.”
The Met are due to have a meeting with
the CPS to discuss the case within the
next few weeks.
Globe stars
in #MeToo
James Gillespie
Jessica Chastain is among the stars joining the Time’s Up protest against sex harassment
The stars will be out in
Hollywood tonight, but the
usually glittering Golden
Globe awards ceremony will
not be its usual self.
In a sombre recognition of
the “#MeToo” movement that
has swept the film industry
and left a trail of disgraced
men in its wake, many of the
celebrity guests will appear
dressed in black.
The Wonder Woman star
Gal Gadot, Jessica Chastain,
Holly Hunter and nominees
Saoirse Ronan, Mary J Blige
and Allison Janney have said
they will join the protest. “I
think that will be really
powerful,” Janney, who is
nominated for her part in the
Tonya Harding black comedy
I, Tonya, said last week. “I
will be in a black dress and be
proud to be standing there
with the other actresses.”
The 75th annual Golden
Globe awards in Beverly Hills
would normally be seen as a
more relaxed event on the
road to the Oscars, but its
lighter tone may be
abandoned this year in favour
of a protest rally.
Allegations of Harvey
Weinstein’s abusive
behaviour, and claims against
A-listers such as Kevin
Spacey, Ben Affleck, Dustin
Hoffman and Steven Seagal
among others, have cast a
shadow over Hollywood and
led to further claims, often
accompanied by the #MeToo
At last year’s event, Donald
Trump was the subject of
many of the jokes and
speeches, but this year’s host,
the comedian Seth Meyers,
has said the evening will be
dominated by the subject of
sexual harassment in the
movie industry. He told Us
Weekly magazine that he
found the stars’ decision to
wear black “really exciting”.
Odds for the boys: top clubs plug
gambling on junior players’ shirts
Footballers as young as
15 are being used to
promote betting sites,
contrary to FA and
advertising rules
Crystal Palace
Betting company: M88
Betting company: Dafabet
Betting company: ManBetX
Betting company: SportPesa
Jon Ungoed-Thomas
and Gurpreet Singh
Two schoolboys at West Ham United
academy are potential stars who may one
day thrill and inspire millions of fans.
William Greenidge and Joshua Okotcha,
who have won scholarship deals at the
club, can look forward to joining the
world of professional football when they
take their GCSEs and leave school.
The talented players are already idolised by some fans, but they are too young
to buy cigarettes, drink in a pub or enter a
casino. They were, however, being used
by the club last week to promote its gambling sponsor and were pictured on the
club’s website with the betting company
Betway on their football strips.
The photographs, which include a
picture of the boys in November when
they were both 15, were promptly pulled
down by West Ham after being contacted
by this newspaper.
A Sunday Times investigation this
weekend reveals how young players and
junior fan clubs of some Premier League
sides are helping to promote the betting
industry. The clubs also promote betting
sites to junior supporters, including ones
on which children can play cartoon
casino games without age verification.
The gambling industry, which denies
targeting children, has become big business for the Premier League. Nine clubs,
including Newcastle United, Everton and
Stoke City, pick up more than £47m a
year from betting companies that are
their main shirt sponsors. Watford and
West Bromwich Albion also have shirtsleeve sponsorship deals with gambling
There is mounting concern that the
deals, not to mention the deluge of
television and billboard gambling advertisements around matches, are fuelling
gambling among young people.
Marc Etches, chief executive of
GambleAware, which is funded by the
industry and promotes safer gambling,
has written to clubs to say he fears they
are “normalising” gambling for young
Football Association rules state that
teams with all players aged under 18
must not promote gambling or alcohol
consumption. But all the players in
Newcastle’s under-18s squad were on the
club’s website on Friday wearing gambling sponsorship for Fun88.
Some players in Stoke City’s under-18s
team were last week pictured on the
club’s website with Bet365 on their shirts
in potential breach of strict advertising
rules prohibiting the use of young people
to promote betting.
It is not just these young role models
who are helping to encourage gambling.
The junior sections of some of the country’s biggest football clubs have gambling
Swansea City’s Junior Jacks membership page was promoting its gambling
sponsor Letou last week; Bournemouth’s
Junior Cherries membership page was
promoting its betting sponsor M88; and
Watford’s Junior Hornets membership
page was promoting its sponsor
Some gambling sites offer free games
for young fans. Fun88, which pays Newcastle about £6m a season, allows children to play virtual slot machines, including Wacky Panda, Penguin Splash and
Robyn, a title featuring a child archer.
The Gambling Commission is concerned such free games may provide a route
to betting for money for young people.
Fans at Watford can click through to its
gambling sponsor The casino
section of its website offers free play on
games such as Vintage Toy Room, Football Star, Santa Paws and Big Top Circus.
Swansea City’s sponsor Letou offers
games such as Mermaids Millions, Wacky
Panda and Snow Queen Riches.
The Sunday Times revealed in October
how some of Britain’s biggest gambling
operators were using cartoon and storybook characters to promote games.
Regulators ordered a crackdown and
a season
a season
Website page for young fans — the Junior
Cherries — has link to gambling site with
free games
Teenager Joshua
Okotcha has been
used by West Ham
to promote its
gambling sponsor
a season
Club website provides link to gambling
site. Casino games can only be played
after age verification
Club website provides link to gambling
site. No casino games available
Club website — including Academy
page — provides link to gambling site. Casino
games available after age verification
Huddersfield Town
Stoke City
Swansea City
Betting company: Ope Sports
Betting company: Bet365
Betting company: Letou
a season
a season
Club website provides link to gambling
site, including on page about junior
supporters. No casino games available
England’s football authorities
have appointed the nation’s
first full-time psychologist for
referees and match officials
after many reported being
traumatised by crowd abuse
and social media criticism —
with some threatening to quit
the game unless they were
given therapeutic support.
The 36 referees, plus
assistants, running Premier
League and Championship
games are the highest-profile
sports officials in England,
and can face vicious abuse on
social media if they are
perceived to make mistakes.
Now the Premier League,
Football Association and the
a season
Some under-18 players pictured on website
with gambling sponsorship. Removed after
Sunday Times investigation
Junior Jacks club website page linked
to betting site, with free games such as
Mermaid Millions. Link now removed
Under-18s player Lewis
Cass in Newcastle’s
strip, including
gambling sponsor
West Ham
Newcastle United
Betting company: Betway
Betting company: Fun88
a season
West Ham had pictures on its website last
week of two schoolboys wearing kit
emblazoned with the Betway logo.
The images have now been removed
Gambling sites
forced to stop
luring children
Our front page
on October 22
Hundreds of child-friendly games banned
Jon Ungoed-Thomas
Britain’s betting industry faces its
biggest crackdown on child gambling, with the regulator demanding operators pull hundreds of
casino games from their websites
after a Sunday Times investigation.
The Gambling Commission and
the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) have joined forces to
order online operators to “immediately” remove controversial
games that appeal to children.
The games, which use favourite
cartoons and characters including
Peter Pan, Moon Princess and Jack
and the Beanstalk, were exposed
this month by the newspaper’s
investigation. The stakes are
between 1p and £600.
About 450,000 children are
gambling in England and Wales
every week — more than those who
smoke or take drugs — and there is
mounting concern of a generation
of young people becoming hooked
draw kids to
Our front page on October 8
Committee of Advertising Practice
(CAP) rules, which prohibit
It said the operators would face
th threat of sanctions unless the
were removed.
The games can be viewed without
o age-verification checks on the
websites and in many
are playable for “fun”.
Tom Watson, the shadow culture
tu secretary, said: “The Sunday
should be congratulated for
the extent to which
games are aimed at chilo
Regulators have finally been
to act as a result of its
journalism. They
have taken steps to end this
The government is also reviewing the maximum £100 betting
stakes on fixed-odds betting terminals, the controversial machines in
bookmakers described as the
“crack cocaine” of gambling.
The Campaign for Fairer Gambling said it was “outrageous” the
industry had been allowed to
promote games that obviously
hundreds of titles were pulled down or
put behind age-verification checks.
The industry admits more protection
is required for young people and that
some gambling companies are yet to take
down games likely to appeal to children.
Clive Hawkswood, chief executive of
the Remote Gambling Association, which
represents some of the biggest betting
companies, said he considered the use
of under-18s to promote gambling
companies with shirt sponsorship to be
in breach of advertising rules. “It’s just
inappropriate,” he said. “The problem is
that it is not being looked at by gambling
compliance people but marketing guys at
the football clubs. They just treat it as any
other product.”
Hawkswood said every licensed operator had been written to after the last
Sunday Times investigation, warning
them to remove games of particular
appeal to children. He said some firms
were still removing games and others
needed to move faster.
He added that it was inappropriate to
be promoting gambling on the junior
sections of club websites.
Lord Chadlington, the Conservative
peer and public relations veteran, who
has called for greater restrictions on gambling advertising, said the government
should consider severely curtailing or
even banning all gambling advertising
and promotion online and offline. He
a season
Under-18s team pictured with gambling
sponsorship. Fun88 offers free casino games,
including Penguin Splash and Santa Paws
Source on sponsorship figures: Sporting Intelligence
said a first step would be the banning of
gambling advertising during sports
broadcasts that children may watch.
Etches said: “For young people today,
an adult activity that is gambling is being
normalised. It most certainly is around
sports. There is an awful lot of gambling
product being pushed at young people.”
Etches added that the reputation of
the gambling industry was “going south”
and sport needed to “restore some balance” with more warnings about the risks
of gambling. GambleAware is helping to
draw up a two-year responsible gambling
campaign backed by the government
with a budget of up to £14m.
West Ham said the pictures of Greenidge and Okotcha were taken during an
under-23 competition and it was an
“oversight” they were posted on the
club’s site. He said the use of the images
was “contrary to our own best practice
guidelines” and players in under-18
teams did not wear Betway advertising.
Counsellor to help football referees handle abuse
Gurpreet Singh and
Jonathan Leake
a season
English Football League have
jointly taken on a counsellor
offering fortnightly sessions
to help deal with the abuse.
The move is revealed in
Elite Soccer Referees, an
academic book by Tom
Webb, a sports researcher at
Portsmouth University.
“The pressure is getting
greater than ever before,” he
said. “The Premier League is
entering a new TV deal, and
as prize money increases,
more is at stake. Referees can
control clubs’ destinies.”
It coincides with the first
use of video technology in
high-level English
competition. Cameras will be
set up on the touchlines at
Brighton & Hove Albion’s
Falmer Stadium for
tomorrow’s third-round
FA Cup match against Crystal
Palace. Referee Andre
Marriner will be able to call
on a “fourth man”, Neil
Swarbrick, who will monitor
the match via video screens at
the Premier League’s match
centre in Stockley Park, west
London, 70 miles away.
One hope is that this might
protect referees from making
bad decisions and so expose
them to less abuse. It may
also prevent embarrassments
such as Arsène Wenger’s new
touchline ban for abusing
referee Mike Dean over a
penalty decision during last
Sunday’s game against West
Bromwich Albion.
Stefan Curtis, a Premier
League spokesman, said
Wayne Rooney
confronts Bobby
Madley in a
match on Friday
referees were encouraged to
meet the psychologist to
discuss the emotional impact
of abuse by players or
managers or online. “It’s
about how you park decisions
and move on.”
Webb said many referees
were so traumatised after
difficult matches that they
refused to read reports.
“Many prefer officiating in
the Champions League [in
Europe], because you work
abroad, so you don’t see the
reports and coverage.”
Abuse of match officials is
rife at every level of the game.
Last year hundreds of Sunday
league referees threatened a
nationwide strike over
touchline abuse and assaults.
For young people
today, an adult
activity is being
normalised. It
certainly is
around sport
Bet365 said it always ensured Stoke
City’s under-18s team did not wear any kit
branded with the firm’s name. There is
also no link to the company via the club’s
website, to make certain Bet365 was not
promoted to junior fans.
Pictures of some members of the
under-18s squad — who had played in
under-23s teams — with gambling sponsorship on their kit were “immediately
investigated” and the images removed.
Newcastle United said the club was
investigating why all of its under-18s team
were promoting its sponsor Fun88.
Swansea City said it had removed links
to its gambling sponsor from the junior
section after being alerted by The Sunday
Times. TGP Europe, which operates the
UK licences of Letou, said the link on the
Junior Jacks page was for the Letou home
page and not to any casino games.
Watford and Bournemouth did not
respond to a request for comment.
Cut ticket prices to keep loyal
fans, says Man City captain
Jon Ungoed-Thomas
One of football’s most
influential players, the
Manchester City captain
Vincent Kompany, has called
for ticket prices to be cut to
ensure the most passionate
fans can attend and help
boost a team’s performance.
Kompany said clubs
needed to ensure that
working-class fans who had
supported clubs for
generations could afford to go
to games. He said teams could
improve performances and
long-term revenue by
attracting the most loyal fans.
Kompany has recently
graduated from Manchester
University’s Alliance
Manchester Business
School with a master of
business administration
His dissertation looked at
how professional football
clubs in the Premier League
can benefit from home-game
advantage and improve
“There’s an entire business
model that at the moment
stands in the way of even
coming near to exploiting
home advantage to the
maximum,” he told the
Financial Times.
Many of the top clubs are
already trying to heed
Kompany’s advice on prices.
Research by the BBC found
in November that 80% of
ticket prices in the Premier
League had either been
reduced or frozen for the
2017-18 season.
Newly promoted
Huddersfield Town offers
some of the cheapest tickets.
Its most expensive season
ticket is £299, which is the
same price as Manchester
City’s cheapest season
ticket. Kompany’s club,
however, offers the cheapest
season ticket among the
major clubs.
The Sunday Times January 7, 2018
May scraps hunting vote amid green blitz
The PM has signalled the
ban is irrevocable, as
Michael Gove plans to
bring back crop rotation
and large-scale grazing
Tim Shipman and Jonathan Leake
Theresa May has revealed that she has
scrapped the Tory pledge to overturn the
ban on foxhunting after a public outcry
that contributed to the Conservative
setback in last year’s general election.
In an interview broadcast today, the
prime minister said there would be no
vote on a repeal of the law during this
parliament, as disclosed last month by
The Sunday Times.
May told the BBC’s Andrew Marr that
her own support for foxhunting has not
changed, but admitted that she had
received a “clear message” from the
electorate to change her government’s
approach to it as well as to “school funding, tuition fees and housing”.
She said: “I’ve not changed my personal view. I’ve never foxhunted as it
happens. But as prime minister my job
isn’t just about what I think about something, it’s actually about looking at what
the view of the country is. I think there
was a clear message about that. And
that’s why I say there won’t be a vote on
foxhunting during this parliament.”
An aide made clear the next Tory
manifesto would be unlikely to offer a
vote on hunting: “We want to focus on
issues that matter most to people — building more homes, continuing to raise
school standards, investing in the NHS
and delivering a good Brexit.”
The move is part of a new year blitz by
the government to convince younger
voters that it is committed to the environment and animal welfare.
The prime minister will make a speech
on green issues on Thursday — her first
major statement on the environment, an
area identified as key to detoxifying the
Tory brand with voters under 40.
The environment secretary Michael
Gove will also publish details of the
government’s proposals. They are
expected to include a pledge to provide
public funding for the creation of a
national forest.
Under Gove’s plans, as part of the biggest shake-up of UK agriculture in decades, cows, sheep and grazing pigs could
return to prime British arable farmland.
His aides are drawing up proposals to
reintroduce crop rotation, livestock
grazing and annual “sustainability”
Hounds linked
to spread of
farm diseases
Jonathan Leake
Science Editor
May ditches hunting
to back animal rights
PM abandons rural Tories to
woo young on blood sports
Caroline Wheeler
and Jonathan Leake
Theresa May is to abandon a
manifesto pledge to overturn the
ban on foxhunting as she seeks to
rebrand the Conservatives as a
“caring” party.
In a move certain to infuriate
many of the party’s rural supporters — and split its MPs — she
will announce plans to drop the
commitment permanently early
in 2018.
The disclosure comes two days
before the Boxing Day meets, the
biggest of the year, when 250,000
people are expected to gather at
hunts nationwide.
May’s move follows a fierce
voter backlash, especially among
young people, against her prohunting policy in this year’s
general election.
A Survation poll taken days
before the election found that 67%
of voters believed foxhunting
should remain illegal. Half said
they would be less likely to vote for
a candidate who supported it.
The prime minister has previ-
make it clear in an intervention
early in the new year that this
is no longer a Conservative Party
policy,” said a senior Whitehall
The policy reversal will affect
about 170 packs of registered foxhounds, plus more than 80 packs
of harriers, beagles and basset
hounds that were historically used
to hunt hares. The hunts and their
40,000 members have kept going
since the 2004 ban, hoping it
would be reversed.
Under the 2004 act, hunts must
follow artificial trails. Animal
rights groups claim many still kill
Michael Gove, the environment
secretary, who was also previously
in favour of blood sports, is
expected to back May — potentially
enshrining the new approach in
laws he is piloting through parliament. Last month he faced a parliamentary and social media backlash
over accusations that he was using
Brexit legislation to reduce UK
levels of protection for animals.
Gove responded by publishing a
draft bill recognising animals,
Theresa May at a
swimming gala in
her Maidenhead
yesterday. The
Sunday Times
broke the story of
her change of
mind over the
hunting ban, left
inspections of farms — effectively restoring features of “pre-industrial” farming.
The crops filling Norfolk’s huge arable
fields could be replaced by grazing animals — and upland regions such as the
Lake District, Wales and Devon could see
some moors becoming forested or with
sheep partially replaced by cattle.
Editorial, page 22
Fox hunts — and their hounds — may
spread animal diseases and parasites,
with humans also at risk, a Bristol
University report has warned.
It found that the dogs and vehicles
used by hunts were subject to none of
the biosecurity rules that farmers
follow to prevent diseases such as
bovine TB spreading in farm animals.
“During hunting, hounds drink
from water supplies, travel through
areas with farm stock, and defecate in
fields used by livestock and for
growing. These activities pose a risk of
disease to livestock and humans,” said
Professor Stephen Harris, of Bristol’s
mammal unit. His report was funded
by the League Against Cruel Sports.
Last year the Kimblewick Hunt in
Buckinghamshire put down more than
two dozen hounds with bovine TB.
Tory ministers to
lose pale, male
and stale image
Tim Shipman and
Caroline Wheeler
Theresa May will recast her
government tomorrow as the
most diverse Conservative
administration, promoting
female and ethnic minority
MPs into the ministerial ranks
as she tries to banish the Tory
image as “pale, male and
The prime minister will
shuffle her cabinet tomorrow
and the lower ministerial
ranks on Tuesday. Her
cabinet plans are mapped out
on a white board in May’s
private office in No 10. One
aide said she wanted to
“make sure the government
reflects the modern and
diverse country” we live in.
Among those tipped for
promotion are Suella
Fernandes, leader of the
backbench Eurosceptics,
whose parents came to
Britain from Kenya and
Mauritius; Seema Kennedy,
May’s parliamentary aide,
whose father was Iranian;
Nusrat Ghani, who helped
review the party’s general
election performance; and
Rishi Sunak, a star of the 2015
intake. Female ministers such
as Margot James, Harriet
Baldwin, Claire Perry and
Sarah Newton could all move
up the ladder.
High-flying MPs Lucy
Frazer, Anne-Marie
Trevelyan and Victoria
Prentis are also expected to
be given jobs for the first
time. Johnny Mercer is tipped
for a ministerial post, and
May’s aides are considering
whether to give jobs to Jacob
Rees-Mogg and Tom
Tugendhat, two of the most
high-profile backbenchers.
May will also take a chance
on members of the 2017
intake with Kemi Badenoch
and Bim Afolami at the front
of the queue. They may be
found non-ministerial jobs
alongside leading ministers.
If Jeremy Hunt moves from
health to the Cabinet Office,
as some aides have suggested,
Anne Milton and Dr Phillip
Lee have been tipped to be
his replacement. Hunt’s
wife has told friends her
husband is “going to have a
good year”.
Ghani, 45
The MP for
Wealden in
East Sussex
is one of the
most highly
thought of
members from the 2015
intake. A member of
the group who call
themselves “the peloton”
because they support
each other in the limelight
like a cycle racing team,
she was drafted in to help
run the inquiry into the
Tory election setback.
Head of the
Eurosceptic Tory
backbenchers, she is
already a party power
Rishi Sunak,
The MP for
in Yorkshire
is seen as
among the
brightest of
the 2015 cadre of MPs and
is already tipped as a
future chancellor or even
leader. Has impressed
with his Brexit policy
ideas on “free ports” and
The Londonborn MP
for Saffron
Walden grew
up in Nigeria
and is regarded as being
on the top rung of the
2017 intake. Seema
Kennedy, May’s
parliamentary aide, is
tipped for promotion;
Badenoch could become
May’s envoy to
Conservative MPs.
Editorial, page 22
Ukip leader told to quit
over affair with model
Caroline Wheeler
The Ukip leader, Henry
Bolton, has been told to
resign by a party councillor,
who also wants him banned
from the royal wedding.
Bolton, 54, is under fire
after he left his wife Tatiana
Smurova and spent Christmas
with Jo Marney, a 25-year-old
topless model.
Now Liz Hazell, leader of
the Ukip group on Walsall
council, has accused him of
“lying to her face” about the
strength of his marriage and
family to gain her vote in the
party’s leadership contest.
In an open letter, she calls
on him to quit Ukip and
demands that Buckingham
Palace bar him from Prince
Harry’s wedding to Meghan
Last night Smurova said
her world had “fallen apart”.
She told the Sunday Mirror:
“What kind of person runs
away to sleep with another
woman, leaving their two
small children over
Christmas? I’m still
breastfeeding his child, for
goodness’ sake.”
Profile, News Review,
page 30
The Sunday Times January 7, 2018
Stores vow
to restrict
sale of acids
actress to
warn girls
on trolling
Sian Griffiths
In a boost for our campaign, top retailers are
to ban under-18s buying corrosive liquids
Caroline Wheeler
Deputy Political Editor
Some of the nation’s largest retailers have
pledged not to sell the most harmful corrosive substances to under-18s in a
victory for The Sunday Times’s Acid
Attack Britain campaign.
Waitrose, B&Q, Morrisons, Wickes,
Co-op, Screwfix and Tesco are among the
businesses to sign up to the government’s
new voluntary commitment on the sale
of acids to minors in store and online.
The voluntary code comes in advance
of new laws that have been promised to
tackle the growing problem amid claims
the UK has one of the highest rates of acid
attacks per capita in the world.
The Sunday Times has called for
tighter controls on the sale of household
products with high concentrations of
acid. Now this newspaper has won praise
from the home secretary, Amber Rudd,
for shining a light on the issue that has led
to parts of London being described as
“no-go zones”.
Launching the new voluntary code for
retailers, the home secretary said she was
determined to stamp out acid attacks,
which she described as “utterly appalling
crimes” that have “no place in a decent
She added: “I welcome the fact that
The Sunday Times has been using its
voice to raise awareness of this extremely
significant issue. The more information
we have and the more voices we hear
condemning acid attacks, the better
equipped we will be to stamp them out.”
Rudd said that preventing potential
offenders from getting hold of dangerous
substances was “a crucial step in tackling
the scourge of acid attacks”.
She welcomed the decision by retailers to restrict the sale of corrosive substances to under-18s voluntarily as she
revealed that the British Independent
Retailers Association will encourage its
members to sign up to the commitment.
“These organisations are stepping up
and taking a stand against some of the
most horrific crimes in our society,” she
As well as zeroing in on the substances
attackers are using, the Home Office has
commissioned research by Leicester
University that will see criminologists
examine the motivations behind carrying
and using acid as a weapon, the characteristics of offenders and their relationship with their victims, as well as how the
substances are bought and transported.
The steps announced today form part
of the acid attack action plan announced
by the home secretary last July.
The measures come weeks after the
Home Office concluded its consultation
on proposals to ban the sale of products
containing the most harmful corrosive
substances to under-18s, make it an
offence to possess a corrosive substance
in a public place without good reason,
and introduce minimum custodial sentences for those repeatedly caught carrying acid without good reason.
Video: how easy is it to buy corrosive
Go to or our
smartphone or tablet apps
Fans of eyebrow slits seen on Instagram include model Chloe Norgaard, top far left, and singer and actor Kris Wu, above far left
Razor slits fashion has schools on edge
Sian Griffiths
Education Editor
They were made popular by
hip-hop stars and are the look
of the moment for everyone
from singer Zayn Malik to
actor Tom Hardy and model
Brooklyn Beckham.
Now eyebrow slits are
causing a headache for
parents and head teachers as
teenagers mimic the style of
their idols and razor vertical
lines into their eyebrows.
Toby Young, former chief
executive of the West London
Free School and a father of
four, says his daughter Sasha,
14, recently tried to persuade
a teenage boy to let her
shave a couple of slits into his
“Eyebrow slits . . . are ‘on
trend’ at the moment,” Young
explained in a recent article.
“Indeed, there is currently a
debate raging in teen fashion
magazines about whether
they constitute ‘cultural
appropriation’, since this is a
look that was popularised by
African-American rap artists.”
Along with the other teen
fashion fad — a wide parting
shaved through hair that have
also been popular with top
footballers such as Cristiano
Ronaldo — head teachers are
having to decide whether to
turn a blind eye or enforce
Vic Goddard, head of
Passmores Academy in
Harlow, Essex, featured in the
Channel 4 series Educating
Essex, said he would take a
tough line on eyebrow cuts.
The school forbids
“tramlines” — patterns
razored into hair,
a style favoured by some
urban gangs.
“Nicks and cuts in
eyebrows are tramlines,” he
said. “Tramlines are banned.”
But he turns a blind eye to
the fashion for shaved wide
partings, with the hair
plastered down on either
side. “That looks smart,” he
says. “If it looks like a parting,
in my book it is a parting.”
Drew Povey, head teacher
of Harrop Fold School in
Salford, Greater
Manchester said he
would decide on a
case-by-case basis
whether to call a
pupil’s parents.
Tom Hardy:
eye for fashion
A former actress on the hit
television show Glee whose
dream career was ended after
she was trolled on social
media is to warn schoolgirls
to be careful what they post
as teachers step up attempts
to protect teenagers online.
Marina Gardiner Legge,
the headmistress at
£35,000-a-year Heathfield
School, Ascot, said she was
flying Nicole Crowther from
America to talk about her
disastrous experience with
social media amid growing
concern about the risks
faced by teenagers who
recklessly post online
Crowther, who appeared
in the musical drama six
years ago, was blacklisted
from the series after revealing
details of the finale in a tweet.
The online backlash ended
her acting career. She now
works in her family’s roofing
She is expected to tell
pupils: “I was just a young girl
like you.”
Crowther has previously
said that she “said the wrong
thing and messed up. Think
before you post. Could you
potentially be harming or
offending anyone? Just don’t
do it.”
Gardiner Legge took action
after a pupil at Heathfield —
whose old girls include the
actress Sienna Miller and the
model Amber Le Bon —
“posted something foolish
online” about another girl.
She said pupils had to realise
that “what you post has
consequences, sometimes
serious ones”.
The move follows last
week’s warnings from Anne
Longfield, the children’s
commissioner, that children
as young as 10 were
becoming dependent on
social media sites.
The Sunday Times January 7, 2018
‘Parasites’ sell addicts to clinics
for £20,000 – aided by Google
Referral centres and the ‘unethical’ search giant are earning millions by exploiting the desperately ill
n the suburban red-brick building
on the outskirts of London, desks of
office workers were taking calls
from people desperately seeking
help to overcome addiction-related
problems. Addiction is an affliction
that causes despair, ill health and
even suicide, as the man sitting in
the glass conference room at one
end of the Elstree call centre on that
winter morning knew only too well.
Daniel Gerrard is a former drug addict
who often appears on television as an
expert on the illness. His Addiction
Helper call centre is billed as a free “treatment service” for a variety of addictions.
But Gerrard, a former City bond
trader, is at the forefront of an industry
that is secretly stripping millions of
pounds from the very people it claims to
help. And those profits are being shared
with the internet giant Google — which is
happy to make money from call centres
such as Addiction Helper in the UK while
barring the practice in America.
Gerrard was in the conference room
that day, meeting two executives who
were setting up a new luxury rehabilitation centre for addiction in the Cotswolds, Gloucestershire.
The executives wanted to know how
they could attract patients to their centre
and had asked Gerrard to explain how
the patient referral system worked. “It’s a
very difficult industry to work in,” admitted Gerrard. “Some may say it’s highly
But his business was generating
millions from referring patients nonetheless. What the two executives didn’t tell
him was that they were undercover
reporters from The Sunday Times investigating a covert enterprise in which
patients are traded to some of Britain’s
biggest clinics for large sums of cash.
The UK has become the addiction capital of Europe, with more people suffering
overdoses than in any other country on
the continent. However, in recent years
funding for addiction services has been
diverted from the NHS, forcing more
people to seek private help for addictions
such as drugs, alcohol and gambling.
Rehabilitation is not cheap. The recommended month-long detox programmes at the biggest clinic groups such
as the Priory and Gladstones can cost up
to £30,000.
But the effects of addiction are so
pernicious and detrimental that sufferers
and their families will often remortgage
homes, take out loans and raid savings to
pay the high costs.
This has created an opportunity for
firms such as Gerrard’s and several other
“referral agents” including ADT Healthcare, whose owner also met this newspaper’s reporters.
In his willingness to impress the
undercover reporters, Gerrard described
in detail the secrets of how the referral
system works — which he prefers to keep
from those calling his helpline.
Addiction Helper has arrangements
with many clinics around the country to
receive up to 30% of any fee paid by a
patient it has referred.
The business even has on its books a
luxury clinic where it can make £20,000
a month for doing little more than
passing on a patient’s details. Sometimes
the patients stay in clinics for many
months or even years — a huge windfall
for the referral agents, who are paid for
the duration of the treatment.
Gerrard’s helpline recently agreed to
merge with a firm called UK Addiction
Treatment (Ukat), founded by businessman Eytan Alexander, which owns seven
clinics around the country and is based in
the same Elstree offices with only a glass
partition dividing them.
Gerrard admitted that around 40% of
the referrals made by Addiction Helper
go to its sister company Ukat, and the
rest go to other clinics that agree to pay
referral fees.
His Addiction Helper website does not
state that it receives a large financial
incentive to help callers go into rehabilitation.
It’s a very
to work
in. Some
might say
it’s highly
Daniel Gerrard,
head of
Addiction Helper
Clark: pretends
to be on an
annual retainer
they had
using a
with no
Gerrard said his phone operators
never reveal the size of Addiction
Helper’s cut of a patient’s fees. If asked
directly, the operators are told to admit
that money is paid by the clinics. But
Gerrard told the reporters: “We don’t feel
it’s appropriate and we’re not required to
tell them how much that is . . . these are
highly, highly stressed people in really
stressed situations.”
There are cheaper options for treatment that the helpline staff could explore
with callers, such as non-residential
counselling from a therapist. But Gerrard
admitted: “It’s minimal money on counselling, so we try not to overpromote it.”
The key to the business is Google,
because that is where the potential leads
come from. Studies have shown that the
majority of people find treatment clinics
through internet searches, and Gerrard
makes sure they see his site first.
Anyone keying in a range of terms
associated with “addiction” and “treatment” is likely to find an advert for
Addiction Helper’s website at the very
top of the first Google search page.
“[We are] number one because we sit
down with Google every three months.
I think we . . . beat our competitors by
something like 35% coverage,” he said.
He explained that Addiction Helper
also operates or uses more than 300 websites to attract people to its call lines.
Using a computer screen on the wall of
the glass room, he demonstrated his
helpline’s domination of Google by doing
a simple search for “alcohol, rehab,
Gloucestershire” — the latter chosen
because it was the county where the
reporters’ fictional company was based.
The results were astonishing. His
websites occupied five different positions
on the first Google page, including the
top advertising slot. Gerrard proudly
counted each one.
he reason companies such as Addiction Helper can do this is because
Google sets up a bartering war for
the top advertising slots on its
pages. Gerrard said he secures the
top slot by giving Google double the
amount paid by any competitor.
This, he said, has meant that at certain
times his helpline has been forced to pay
Google an extraordinary £200 each time
a person clicked to access the website.
The company pays Google £350,000 for
advertising in an average month, which
works out as £4.2m a year.
“We are the biggest spender in the
business,” said Gerrard. “So if there’s
people out there looking for treatment,
they’re going to come to us.”
The aggressive spending has proved
effective. Gerrard says his helpline is
contacted by 6,000 to 7,000 people a
month. He said 95% of callers “haven’t
got a penny” and he provided them with
free service.
But he has become the market leader
in referrals by turning the remaining 5%
of callers into money. If a caller is interested in private rehabilitation, they are
sent a number of options tailored to their
needs taken from a set of clinics that
Addiction Helper has arrangements with.
Last October his business made 295
referrals, a record month. A “f*** load”,
was how Gerrard’s partner Alexander
described it, when he joined the meeting
with the reporters for a short while.
The percentage cut taken by Addiction
Helper depends on how much the clinic
charges. Gerrard said his agency worked
with an array of clinics which charged
from as little as £4,000 a month to as
much as £44,000 a week for the luxury
Kusnacht clinic in Zürich. Since the Kusnacht’s fees are so high, Addiction Helper
charges only a 10% or 12% fee, which still
brings in £21,000 for just one referral if
the patient stays for a month, as is usual.
Banned in US but
UK is fair game
For 22 years in the state of
Florida, offering or accepting
cash for “patient brokering”
has been an offence
punishable by up to five years
in prison.
Several other US states also
deem the practice of referring
people to healthcare
providers in return for
money to be so unethical that
they have made it illegal.
Critics have likened it to a
form of “people trafficking”.
There are, however, still
concerns among addiction
treatment providers that
patient brokers are
continuing to operate on the
internet via Google.
In September last year the
internet giant bowed to
pressure from the industry
and barred all adverts
related to search terms such
as “addiction” and
Marvin Ventrell, executive
director of America’s
National Association of
Addiction Treatment
Providers, said: “We made as
much noise together with
other addiction advocacy
groups as we could and
Google heard us.”
The internet giant had
apparently likened the issue
to the controversy over
payday loans. “They
understood if they allowed
the practice to go on they
would lose their credibility
and authority,” Ventrell said.
The company met industry
representatives last
November at the Google
Campus in California where it
discussed permanently
excluding patient brokering
and other unethical practices
from its adverts.
Google has resisted
introducing such protections
in the UK, however, arguing
that the Care Quality
Commission safeguards the
industry. In reality,
rehabilitation clinics are
regulated by the commission
but the referral agents are
subject to no such oversight.
The Sunday Times January 7, 2018
Video: watch our
Go to
thesundaytimes.c or our
smartphone or
tablet apps
Some critics suggest the combination
of the millions paid to Google and the
profits made by Gerrard’s business add
an unnecessary extra tier to what is
already a very expensive service for
addicts. And Addiction Helper is not the
only one.
Three weeks earlier, the undercover
reporters met Oliver Clark, the director
of ADT Healthcare, for lunch in the City of
London. Clark operates a two-person
referral business that profits from sufferers of addiction. He told the reporters he
spends about £60,000 a month on
Google advertising, and at prime times he
has to pay the internet company up to
£150 for a click on his website.
He refers about 50 people to clinics
each month, and one of his main customers is the upmarket Life Works clinic in
Woking, Surrey, owned by the Priory
Group. At Life Works he claims to take a
25% cut of the patients’ monthly fees of
more than £20,000 a month.
But he told the reporters he would
“definitely” not tell the patients about
such financial arrangements. He said that
families “don’t like the idea of paying brokering fees”, and he pretends he is on an
annual retainer from the clinics if anyone
asks him directly.
The amount Addiction Helper pays
Google for top-rank advertising
over the course of a year
When callers come to him, he says he
gives impartial advice in their best interest. “We advertise our service as an independent information service for anybody
looking for private addiction treatment
either in the UK or abroad.”
Clark said he made recommendations
matched to people’s needs and based on
his industry knowledge, and helped
those who could not afford residential
care. But he was willing to give preference to the reporters’ fictional clinic if
they paid a higher cut than the competitors. “I’m a very straight talker,” he said,
“that’s the bottom line. If it is at that
[30%] fee then you are much more likely
to be getting referrals from us.”
Clark admitted the fees were “very
high” but blamed it on the “cost of acquisition” — by which he meant Google. He
said he needed to make one referral a day
to cover his Google spending.
Google’s annual advertising revenue
has more than doubled to £59bn since
Gerrard first set up Addiction Helper in
2010. While Google appears content to
make money from referral agencies in the
UK, last September it barred adverts triggered by search terms such as “addiction
and “rehab” in America because of con-
cerns that sufferers were being exploited.
It is illegal to make money from referring patients in several states, and Florida
has a law that makes “patient brokering”
a specific offence.
Gerrard founded an addiction clinic in
Delray Beach, Florida, called the Amy
Winehouse Project. He and his partner
Alexander acquired the rights to use the
late singer’s name in America and Canada
from the Amy Winehouse Foundation.
He told the reporters he would never
charge or pay referral fees in America.
“We are not allowed to take a fee in America,” he said. “I know the laws and I’ll
respect those laws.”
Last week, Gerrard’s lawyers said that
the fees he takes remain the same across
the board.
The Life Works
clinic in Surrey,
above, is among
the most
expensive in the
country. Right,
Daniel Gerrard in
a picture from his
Facebook page
Calvert, George
Paola Tamma,
Michael SelbyGreen, Tom Wills
ast November, the Care Quality
Commission wrote a damning report
finding that 72% of English rehab
clinics were failing. Experts believe
the referral agents’ fees have contributed to this decline in standards.
One of the sternest industry critics of
the referral system has been Dominic
McCann, a director of the Castle Craig
drug and alcohol rehab clinic in Scotland.
McCann said his clinic had once paid
Clark’s ADT Healthcare a referral fee but
decided never to do so again because he
felt the lack of transparency was dishonest. “The patients were unaware
what was going on. They thought they
had been consulting a helpline with no
money involved,” he said.
He believes that referral agents are
“parasites targeting sick people at the
most desperate time of their lives”.
McCann says Google is “devoid of
ethics” for allowing the referral agents to
advertise. “Google is allowing these referral agents to pay vast sums in order to
dominate the online advertising space.
People are turning to a Google search for
advice and guidance, but are being lured
to referral agent websites.
“Google may be complicit by pocketing millions of pounds from exorbitant
advertising fees, which pushes up the
price of rehab for patients and families
and contributes to a deterioration in the
quality of clinical standards.” The referral
agents, however, claim they are saving
clinics advertising costs.
Commenting on this newspaper’s
investigation, the Department of Health
issued a statement last week saying: “It’s
disheartening that those seeking privately funded help for their addiction are
potentially being exploited.”
There is widespread concern about
the state’s financing of drug and alcohol
treatment facilities, which lost its ringfencing when the responsibility for
addiction was taken away from the NHS
and given to local authorities in 2013.
Deaths involving heroin and morphine
have doubled since 2012, and the number
of drug fatalities overall is at an all-time
The Department of Health urges
addicts to seek help from state providers.
“Patients are able to access local authority funded services free of charge — waiting times are minimal. We strongly
encourage people to access these
services and get the help they need.”
Fees ‘let us help most needy’
– what the agencies say
Daniel Gerrard, founder of
Addiction Helper, said: “For
all inquiries to our specialist
helpline, statutory
government-funded drug and
alcohol services and
self- support groups are
always recommended, with
referrals to private rehab
clinics as a last resort for
those desperately in need of
residential treatment
representing a small amount
of work that the helpline does
to provide support and
advice around the clock to
those in need.
“Since the Care Quality
Commission decided to
regulate smaller,
independent rehab clinics in
order to ensure safe,
high-quality care, these
clinics have faced increased
operating costs in order to
meet new and improved
standards which ultimately
has led to increased
treatment costs, whereas
treatment costs at larger
clinics already regulated have
stayed constant. The reality is
those providers of care who
have chosen to no longer
work with helplines have not
reduced treatment costs but
. . . chosen to invest into their
own marketing budgets and
paid online advertising.”
Lawyers for Oliver Clark,
director of ADT Healthcare,
said: “The only payments
received by ADT are the
referral fees paid by
rehabilitation clinics. Those
arrangements are entirely
lawful and proper and enable
organisations such as ADT to
continue to provide [free]
services to some of the most
needy people in society.”
They said ADT works hard
to match carefullythe right
level of care for people who
are suffering and in need of
rehabilitation services. They
added that vulnerable service
users benefited from advice
because it can be difficult to
find the best service.
The lawyers denied that
the percentage of fees would
dictate where a prospective
patient was referred to:
“[ADT] would only ever send
individuals to the best and
most suitable facility to meet
their specific needs.”
Google said: “We have a
strict set of policies that
govern the types of ads we do
and don’t allow in order to
protect people from
misleading, inappropriate or
harmful ads. While
advertising from
intermediaries is allowed . . .
as they can provide genuine
value to suppliers and those
in need of their services, we
constantly review our
policies and work with
industry experts to better
understand the market.”
The Priory Group and
Gladstones failed to respond
to questions. Charterhouse,
Bayberry and the Kusnacht
Practice declined to
comment. Shane Creedon,
chief executive of Regain
Recovery, said he viewed
referral agents’ fees as a
legitimate marketing cost.
‘They preyed on
us like vultures’
A man who sought help for a
family member from Britain’s
largest addiction referral
agency has expressed his
anger about being kept in the
dark about the payments the
company levies from the
addicts it claims to help.
Melvin Watson, a 68-yearold father of two, found the
website of Addiction Helper
after it came top of the
Google listings when he was
seeking a rehabilitation clinic
for a loved one who had
lapsed into severe alcohol
addiction in 2015.
He phoned the agency
seeking advice and says he
was surprised when its initial
questions focused on his
A list of recommended
recovery centres on the
Addiction Helper website
were mostly far above the
former accountant’s budget.
Eventually he settled on a
clinic in Birmingham, which
he was informed by the
agency would cost £6,000 a
He was required to pay the
fee up front to Addiction
Helper along with an extra
£1,000 for post-care therapy
sessions, which he said it
strongly recommended.
“I thought the upfront
payment was odd,” he said.
“But I did it because I was
worried about my loved one
who was in a really bad way. I
had to take the money out of
my life savings.”
Watson, from Kingsbury in
Warwickshire, claimed that
the quality of the care
received by his family
member at the rehab centre
was not worth the money,
although the course was
completed successfully.
And when the family
member did not need the
support of a therapist after
returning home, Addiction
Helper refused to provide
Watson with a full refund.
In the end he resorted to
writing in protest to The
Sunday Times’s Money
The agency’s owner,
Daniel Gerrard, was quick to
provide the money after the
newspaper wrote to him
asking for an explanation.
When The Sunday Times
informed Watson last week
that Addiction Helper
routinely took a cut of up to
30% of the money their
clients pay to recovery
centres, he condemned the
agency’s strategy.
“They’re like vultures,” he
said. “They know you’re
desperate and they prey on
that. All they do is have a
brief phone conversation
with you.
“The money they’re
making out of it is scandalous
and it’s wrong that they do
not make it clearer to the
people they are supposed
to be supporting.”
The Sunday Times January 7, 2018
Stand at your desks now,
class, and fight obesity
Jamie Oliver is
back in talks with
No 10 about
childhood obesity
Jamie Oliver is part of a high-profile group with radical ideas on improving child health
Sian Griffiths
Education Editor
For decades schoolchildren have been
told to “sit down quietly”. Now campaigners are calling for stand-up desks to
be available in schools as part of a new
government obesity strategy.
Jamie Oliver, the TV chef is back in
talks with advisers at No 10 about fighting
the “war on obesity” after criticising the
first strategy, published last summer, as
inadequate and a “sign they don’t care”.
Oliver is one of a group of TV chefs,
MPs and health experts involved. They
include the TV chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and author Dr Rangan Chatterjee of BBC1’s Doctor in the House.
Chatterjee said he wanted new measures such as stand-up desks to be
included in the plan as well as a ban on
sales of caffeinated, sugar-laden energy
drinks to under 16s. A pledge to halve
childhood obesity to 800,000 cases by
2026, which was dropped last year, is
also understood to be back on the table.
Chatterjee, who has two children,
aged 7 and 5, at primary school, said: “I
want to see standing desks in schools as
normal. I also want to encourage children
to squat rather than sit.”
He said that sitting for six hours a day
was bad for children’s backs as well as
their weight. Research has shown that
using a standing desk for three hours a
day, five days a week, burns an extra
30,000 calories a year — akin to running
10 marathons — but other studies suggest
that a standing desk can increase the risk
of heart disease. The desks have already
been tried in a handful of British schools,
including Kewstoke Primary in Somerset,
which bought three last year.
One in three British children under 15
are overweight or obese, government
figures say, making them vulnerable to
diabetes and other illnesses.
Oliver said he was “gobsmacked” by
the response to his push for tougher
measures. “I’ve been amazed by how
positive the reactions from the public
have been. It’s brilliant that Waitrose led
the way by announcing a ban on energy
drink sales to children.”
Caroline Wheeler
and Sian Griffiths
I also
to squat
than sit
Stand-up desks at Kewstoke Primary
PM warns
Young over
sex tweets
Search for the best schools near
where you live
Go to
The row over the appointment
of Toby Young, the free
schools advocate, to the new
universities watchdog
intensified last night when he
was criticised by the prime
minister and another leading
Young’s appointment to
the Office of Students has
caused uproar because of his
past tweets and other
comments about women’s
breasts and eugenics.
In an article for the Sunday
Times website, the Tory MP
Robert Halfon says the move
risks reinforcing an image of
the Tories as “heartless and
cruel”. He adds: “Everything
about Young’s appointment
smacks of the elite.”
No 10 branded Young’s
comments “distasteful” and
warned that any repeat
would be “incompatible with
that position”.
Fears for standards as
no student fails exams
at 11 top universities
Andrew Gilligan
At some of Britain’s most
prestigious universities,
failure is impossible and all
must have prizes. Almost a
dozen institutions, including
Durham, Liverpool and
Oxford, have admitted they
did not fail a single student in
their final exams last year.
All 33,000 undergraduates
who took finals at the 11
universities passed and
received an award, according
to data released under
freedom of information
laws or given to The
Sunday Times.
A further 32 universities
awarded degrees to 99% or
more of finalists. Typical of
this group was Birmingham,
where five of 5,768 finalists —
0.09% — failed their exams.
At Leeds, 5,738 students sat
finals and 17, or 0.3%, failed.
The disclosures will add to
concern about an apparent
erosion of standards. The
former education minister
Lord Adonis said: “It is not
credible that amongst
thousands of students none,
or virtually none, will fail to
make the grade. This yet
again raises the issue of
university standards and
universities’ obsession with
simply milking revenue out of
students without requiring
enough in return.”
Those wanting a
guaranteed qualification are
advised to apply to Durham,
Worcester, Oxford, Liverpool,
Surrey, Bath, University of
East London, Abertay, Arts
University Bournemouth,
Sunderland or Edinburgh,
none of which failed students.
In three of the 11, however,
a small number of students
who “passed” were granted a
lesser award than a degree.
Universities that failed
fewer than 1% of students
include Cambridge,
Birmingham, Southampton,
Queen’s University Belfast,
Stirling, Reading, Aston,
Imperial College London,
Queen Mary University of
London, Nottingham,
Nottingham Trent, Essex,
Dundee, Leeds, Exeter,
Newcastle, University College
London, Strathclyde,
Lancaster, University of the
Arts London, Ulster, King’s
College London, Bangor,
Sheffield, London South Bank
and Suffolk.
The figures are mostly for
2017 but in some cases from
the previous year. They cover
students who completed
their degree courses and do
not include those who
dropped out. Only four
universities had a failure rate
greater than 10%.
Pass rates for postgraduate
study, where higher fees can
be charged, were even
greater. Success rates for
taught master’s degrees were
100% at almost 30
A member of academic
staff at one, Lancaster,
said: “We are under great
pressure not to fail master’s
students, even where they
can barely speak or write
English and their work is
Universities UK, the
umbrella body for higher
education, said: “The UK has
one of the most robust and
transparent systems in the
world for assuring academic
standards. Universities follow
the criteria set out in the UK
quality code for higher
education, developed by the
UK’s independent, highereducation quality agency.”
Not picked a university?
The Ucas application
deadline is January 15
Go to
Deaf children suffer as
councils cut support
Sian Griffiths
Kieran Bence wants to be a
bus driver like both his
parents when he grows up.
There is one catch. Kieran,
6, from Rothwell,
Northamptonshire, is deaf,
and his mother, Katrina, is
worried his opportunities are
already being curtailed.
Kieran is one of thousands
of deaf children whose access
to specialist help has been
slashed in recent years.
A report to be released this
week reveals 67% of councils
in England have cut the
number of specialist teachers
of the deaf by an average of
14% since 2011, despite
reporting a 31% increase in
the number of deaf children.
“Kieran, who goes to a
mainstream primary school,
has gone from two hours a
week of teaching by a
specialist to one hour a
fortnight and has had four
different specialists since the
age of four,” said his mother.
There are 713 deaf children
in Northamptonshire and
only 11 teachers of the deaf,
down from 13 a year ago.
Susan Daniels, chief
executive of the National Deaf
Children’s Society, said: “A
whole generation of deaf
children will have their
futures decimated if the
government does not act
before it is too late.”
Katrina Bence with son
Kieran, who is deaf
The Sunday Times January 7, 2018
Rod Liddle
Toddler-in-chief Trump is right where
voters wanted him — lefties included
have a book coming out this month
about Donald Trump, culled from
hundreds of interviews with
important people close to the US
president. It will detonate within
the political firmament like an
enormous dirty bomb made of
highly enriched plutonium and
cobalt-60, and I thought I would share
some of its revelations with you today.
I have been told, exclusively, by at
least two sources, that Trump is “kind of
nuts”. A third described him as “crazier
than a shithouse rat”. I can also reveal he
is sometimes “coarse-mannered” and
prone to “childishness”. Crucially, I
discovered that he has “strange, orange,
hair” and is “not always entirely
respectful towards women”. This stuff is
going to blow the lid off his presidency,
I’m telling you. And it will rank alongside
my previous investigations into US
presidents, such as my one about Nixon,
in which an insider explosively revealed
he could be “a little devious, on
occasion”, and Lincoln, who “was quite
keen on the theatre and black people”.
The only problem is that I’ve been
beaten to it by the excellent journalist
Michael Wolff, who has done exactly the
same thing and got exactly the same
answers. The question for Michael and
me is how the Trump team managed,
cunningly, to conceal all this from us
during his race for the presidency. As the
campaign progressed we were all rather
impressed by Trump’s sanity and
rationality, were we not? His intellectual
depth and seriousness. His highfalutin
eloquence, sensible hairstyle, measured
and mature response to criticism, and,
above all, his commitment to women’s
equality. How could we have been so
gulled, have got it so dreadfully wrong?
I have Wolff ’s book beside me right
now and it’s great — although largely for
the minutiae of what went on than for
the headlines that have propelled the
book to No 1 in America (and probably
Pyongyang). But it will not shift public
opinion one inch. Trump voters suspect
— rightly — that the media has it in for
l Poor old Cleopatra is
being disinterred again, for
another film. And The
Guardian has demanded that
this time the Egyptian queen
be depicted properly — with
a big nose. This is based on
coins of the time, which
indeed show someone who
more closely resembles the
actor Marty Feldman than
Elizabeth Taylor.
The Guardian is trenchant
in its criticism of, as it puts it,
“nose-deniers”, those who
would suggest that a woman
can’t be beautiful if she has a
beak that does justice to a
So, a new year begins and
with it a new term for us all to
be aware of. Check your
privilege, those of you with
slender nostrils, and do not
succumb to the hate-speech
of nose-denying. So many
battles to fight, on so many
fronts. What do we want? Big
noses! When do we want
them? Now!
Plenty of
followers of
to Trump
Trump in a way that surpasses all other
media assaults on a right-wing president,
Reagan included, and so are disinclined
to let it cloud their judgment of the man.
Nor are they stupid, voters. Plenty of
followers of left-winger Bernie Sanders
transferred to Trump. They will have
held their noses; they simply found him
— as would I — immensely preferable to
the aloof, patronising waxwork who
opposed him. Hillary Clinton is now
touring the world, from one chatshow
smugfest to the next, plugging her idiotic
book What Happened. What happened
was you, Clinton. Enough of a politically
correct liberal dynastic procession that
cared not a jot about the poor or (as the
Yanks call them) the middle classes —
they wanted change.
And we have also discovered that
Trump’s bark is worse than his bite. In
terms of action, as opposed to those
stupid schoolyard insults, he has been
restrained over North Korea, thank the
Lord. He has supported Israel, frozen aid
to Pakistan and threatened to cut aid to
Palestine, suggesting that no longer will
America kowtow to a PC view of the
world in which countries that abhor the
West, and harbour terrorists, should be
saturated with US dollars in a pointless
act of self-flagellation. All of this will not
have harmed his voter base one bit. It
may be a better policy, pragmatically,
than Obama’s rationale of “reaching
out” to Muslim states. After all, how did
that work out? And those tax cuts will
have dragged more of the hardworking
“deserving” poor over to his side.
This is not to say that Trump is a
Truman, a Johnson or even a Reagan, all
of whom won by recourse to the same
voter base. He’s often an embarrassment
to human existence. He seems pig
ignorant. But a year into his presidency,
his actions have been more good than
bad. More to the point, Trump and his
voters have become inured to the slings
and arrows of furious liberals in the
media. They just take no notice.
Trump’s White House, pages 18-20
NHS crisis — May steps in
You’ll be out
in no time
Liberal puffins in
a huff about Toby
The campaign to stop Toby Young
existing gathers pace. Now the Labour
Party has endorsed the views of the
100,000-plus puffins who signed a
petition to have the right-wing journalist
abolished for good.
The furore has occurred because
Young has been appointed to a minor
role in an obscure education quango.
Liberals are aghast, as they usually are,
but there are some journalist colleagues
revelling in the odium heaped upon
Young. One columnist, beside himself
with delight, said on social media that
Young was ghastly and had once been
rude to his wife because he didn’t think
she was of importance. Get a better
wife, then, matey. This screeching will
continue for ages, I think. These people
are used to getting their way.
Smug vegans are a
real pizza work
l I suppose we will all have to resign
from National Action now that the
police have decided it is the biggest
threat to our security and have
swooped down upon its leading
National Action is a group of about
seven shaven-headed, drooling and
lobotomised neo-Nazis who seem to
think Mein Kampf was a bloody good
read. As far as I can discern, they have
done nothing whatsoever to harm the
rest of us.
It is true, however, that their
anti-semitism is rancid and ingrained
— almost on a par, in fact, with some
members of the Labour Party. Swoop
down again, you noble coppers . . .
Whose side to be on in the case of the
Shropshire restaurateur who claimed to
have “spiked” a vegan’s meal? It is true
that all vegans, like all cyclists, voted
“remain” and are tiresome and smug.
On the other hand, restaurateurs are
forever carping about their customers
as if they were an unnecessary
impediment to their daily work.
Laura Goodman, who ran the Carlini
bistro (she’s now resigned), received
death threats from hyperbolic
nut-munchers after her claim. What in
fact happened was that she gave a
vegan some cheese on her pizza when
the vegan asked for it. Goodman should
have refused the block booking, instead
of slaving all day making pizzas out of
coir and shredded kale for people who
think they’re saving the world.
The Sunday Times January 7, 2018
Be afraid — thrillers pile up
in Goosebump January
After the success of The
Girl on the Train, the first
month of the year has
become the hot slot for
the launch of crime novels
Karen Robinson
January is about to get darker. Booksellers are braced for an unusual number
of crime and thriller fiction titles from
new writers in the first month of the year,
which used to be the graveyard slot for
book launches.
“Now it’s definitely a crime must-have
slot, not the poor relation,” said Barry
Forshaw, a critic and author of books
about crime fiction.
A British beginner, Will Dean, takes on
the Scandi giants with Dark Pines, the
launch title of a thriller series set in rural
Sweden. Need to Know, another thriller,
is about a CIA analyst who finds evidence
her husband might be a Russian sleeper
agent and is by Karen Cleveland, a former
US intelligence service staff member.
Joining the crime rush, Girl in Snow by
Danya Kukafka is an investigation into the
death of a school pupil in a small Colorado town that proceeds via the inner
psyches of two confused teens and a
hardly less troubled police officer.
Frankie Gray, publishing director,
commercial fiction, at Transworld, said
the change dates from January 2015 when
the publisher launched The Girl on the
Train by the then unknown Paula Hawkins — and made history.
“The big-brand writers come out preChristmas, so January allowed visibility
and space in retailers’ windows. That was
the thinking at Transworld,” she said.
Hawkins’s psychological thriller occupied the No 1 spot in the UK hardback
book chart for 20 weeks and has now sold
an estimated 15m copies worldwide.
Some see Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl,
which came out in paperback in January
2013, as a harbinger of the winter hit with
global bestsellerdom and a film. It also
began the trend for thrillers with “girl” in
the title. But it was The Girl on the Train
that wove an aura around January.
“As soon as something works in
publishing, people copy it,’’ said Nicholas
Clee, joint editor of BookBrunch, the
book-trade newsletter. “You’re making a
statement putting your book out in
Scandi thriller
by British writer
Freud on
show after
50 years
January — you’re saying it could be the
next Girl on the Train.”
The average annual sum writers earn
from books was estimated by a 2016
European Commission report to be
£12,500, but big thrillers are a different
story. Sales of The Girl on the Train
topped £4.5m in 2015, and more than
£7m in 2016 for the paperback edition.
Joseph Knobbs, the crime fiction
buyer for Waterstones, said: “Psychological thrillers are the main force at the
moment, tapping into and dramatising
what are perhaps more commonplace
concerns than detective fiction.”
Alice O’Keeffe, books editor at the
Bookseller magazine, noted the “blurring of the psychological suspense
thriller with the women’s fiction market.
It pulls in two readerships. There’s no
sign of it tailing off.”
Richard Brooks Arts Editor
Editorial, page 22.
Will Dean, Home, pages 16-17
Author worked for
US intelligence
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smartphone or tablet apps
Bacon’s study of Freud is inspired by photos taken by a mutual friend
A painting of Lucian Freud by
Francis Bacon, unseen in
public for more than half a
century, is to go on show at
Tate Britain next month.
The two artists were close
friends from the 1940s until
they fell out in the early 1970s
after each criticised the
other’s work. They would go
to the same demi-monde
drinking clubs and dine at
Freud’s west London home.
Study for Portrait of Lucian
Freud, 1964, has previously
gone on show only once, in
the mid-1960s. It has Bacon’s
visceral style, with an angstridden face.
“Freud did not sit for it but
it was inspired by photos of
him by their friend John
Deakin,” said Elena Crippa,
curator of the Tate’s All Too
Human exhibition. Freud is
depicted as muscular. “Bacon
was always fascinated by
strong, physical presence. He
was also attracted to Freud.”
Roll up, roll up . . .
Britain marks 250th
birthday of circus
Richard Brooks
In 1768 Philip Astley, a cavalry
officer from NewcastleUnder-Lyme, Stafforshire, set
up an amphitheatre in
London for horse-riding
tricks, acrobats, tightrope
walkers and jugglers. It was
the birth of the circus in
Two hundred and fifty
years on, 2018 is marking the
occasion with six “Cities of
Circus” at the centre of
celebratory performances:
London, Blackpool,
Norwich/Great Yarmouth,
Belfast and Bristol, which is
home to 30 circus companies
as well as a circus school.
Circus once meant the likes
of Bertram Mills, Billy Smart
and America’s Barnum and
Bailey, whose story is told in
the film, The Greatest
Showman, now on release.
They boasted exotic animals
such as tigers and elephants,
clowns, human freaks and
female trapeze artists.
Today, circus is more of a
cross between performance
art and contemporary dance,
although more traditional
companies — such as Zippos
and NoFit State, the Cardiffbased circus that travels the
country with a big top shaped
like a spaceship, erected by
performers who live in
trailers — still fare well.
“Circus has always been an
art form, but has only been
recognised as such recently,”
said Dea Birkett, a former
performer with elephants
and now ringmaster of
Circus250, the celebration
body. The Arts Council gives
money to some acts.
Tom Rack, artistic director
of NoFit State, which was set
up 32 years ago, said: “Circus
used to be for grandparents
and their grandchildren, and
was, frankly, seen as lowbrow
The late 1980s saw the
birth of “new circus”,
pioneered by Archaos from
France and Cirque Du Soleil
from Quebec, in which the
acts often develop a theme
and can tell a characterdriven story.
Birkett, who is stepping
down in March as director of
Kids in Museums, which
encourages youngsters to
visit museums and galleries,
believes contemporary circus
appeals because it “provokes
every emotion. Not just
excitement and visual
experience, but crucially fear
because of the risk element.
You don’t really get that in
This year, most of Britain’s
circus companies will stage
new productions to
commemorate the 250th
anniversary. NoFit State is
creating Lexicon, about the
language of circus, while the
all-female Mimbre will offer
The Exploded Circus, an
acrobatic and physical
performance with nonspoken narrative and music.
“We’re known for our
three-woman acrobalance,”
said co-director Lina
Johansson. “Our acts
combine glamour with a very
visceral art form.”
Circus250 is launched on
Tuesday with a design by the
artist Sir Peter Blake beamed
on to buildings in the six
designated cities, while at the
Natural History Museum in
London, the Lost in
Translation circus will
perform a handstand more
than 13ft high under Hope,
the museum’s newly installed
blue whale skeleton.
Lake District may lose
artist’s barn to China
David Collins
Northern Correspondent
It looks like any other mosscovered barn nestled in the
Cumbrian hills. But the Merz
Barn in Great Langdale valley,
used by the German artist
Kurt Schwitters, is regarded
as a piece of art history.
Now a lack of funding
means it may be moved,
stone by stone, from the Lake
District to Shenzhen in
Guangdong province,
southern China.
An unnamed “Chinese
billionaire collector” has
offered to buy the barn and
relocate the building for his
private collection.
Its owner, Littoral Arts
Trust, has been unable to
secure funding from Arts
Council England to restore
and maintain the site.
Schwitters used the barn as
a studio after fleeing from the
Nazis. By 1947 he was
covering the internal walls in
a collage of materials
including glass, rubbish and
sculptures, but he died of
pneumonia months into this
final project, in January 1948.
The Lake District was
recently granted world
heritage status by Unesco.
The barn was included as
part of the submission.
Lord Bragg, a supporter of
the Merz Barn, has called it an
“outstanding contribution to
the understanding of
contemporary art, not only in
this country but in the worldart context”. He said: “To
think that it will crumble
away for the sake of a modest
grant speaks very badly of the
Art Council’s priorities.”
The charity — comprising a
couple who have used their
savings, pensions and a house
sale to keep the barn going —
is thought to be open to offers
of around £350,000.
Representatives of the
Chinese buyer have asked for
a “site-viewing in the coming
Arts Council England said
it had supported Littoral in
the past. It added, however:
“Our role does not include
protection and restoration of
cultural heritage. This is the
responsibility of other
The Sunday Times January 7, 2018
Windsor beggars ‘take
taxis home at night’
Pretend vagrants are being mistaken for the genuine homeless in the Queen’s back yard
Andrew Gilligan
and Iram Ramzan
In the shadow of Windsor Castle —
Britain’s largest example of public
housing — Stuart Hatcher has a rather
more compact council property of his
own. There are some home comforts:
plenty of duvets and blankets, shelves of
food and clothing, even a small library of
paperback books. On the other hand, it is
a bus shelter.
In the past five days — since the local
council leader, Simon Dudley, called on
police to act against “aggressive begging
and intimidation” in Windsor before the
town hosts the royal wedding — Hatcher
says people have become a lot more
“I had one guy who drove up 80 miles
yesterday and he had a parcel of food for
us and a five-pound note. What a lovely
guy,” he said. “A few other people came
up, offered up clothes and quilts. It was
fantastic support.”
In his letter to Thames Valley police,
Dudley, head of the Royal Borough of
Windsor and Maidenhead since 2015,
referred to “an epidemic of rough sleeping and vagrancy in Windsor”.
His demand, which drew an angry
response from outside Windsor, was said
to be “a textbook example of heartless
Toryism”. He had “perpetuated all the
lies and bad attitudes we so often hear
from the right about homelessness”, said
a writer for the New Statesman.
Somebody on The Guardian likened
him to a “Disney cartoon villain in the
privacy of their evil lair”. Even the prime
minister, whose constituency is next
door, slapped down her local council
On the streets of Windsor itself,
however, the picture proved slightly
more complicated. The Sunday Times
found only one person — restaurateur
Massimo Quagliozzi — who supported
Dudley’s claim of aggressive, intimidatory behaviour and many others who
contradicted it.
“They ask for money, but they’re
polite,” said Adarsh Sapkota, a
receptionist at the Harte and Garter hotel
in High Street.
However, it also seemed likely that
some of those begging were doing so
under false pretences and that a number
of the town’s street people do not, in fact,
live on the streets.
At 4pm on Friday, The Sunday Times
counted 13 people who looked as if they
were rough sleepers, sitting or lying in
bus shelters, doorways and by cashpoints and car park pay machines.
By 11pm, all but three had vanished
from the streets and their pitches were
vacant, although the duvets, blankets
and cardboard boxes they used during
the day were left behind. The Sunday
Times followed one of them to a modern
house in Dedworth, a mile or so outside
the town centre.
“Many of them are not homeless —
they use us many times, to Dedworth, to
Slough [to get home],” said Sarfraz Malik,
one of the taxi drivers on the rank in
Thames Street, opposite several of the
main pitches.
“There’s only one or two that stay
overnight,” said another driver, Muham-
mad. “The majority of them, God knows
where they go. After 10pm, they’re gone.”
Sapkota said: “There’s one we know
for sure is homeless. Other people go at
night time and then come back — we
know they have homes.”
During the day, there appeared to be a
shift pattern in operation at some of the
pitches. At about 6.30pm, as The Sunday
Times watched, a younger man changed
places with an older one by the payment
machine at the River Street car park.
The council insists that everyone on
the streets has been approached and
offered accommodation. Most beggars
spoken to by The Sunday Times agreed
with this, but said the accommodation
was either too far away or too low-quality.
Both the borough’s main temporary
homeless accommodation centres are in
Maidenhead, nearly seven miles away.
“They offered us a place over Christmas
because the temperature dropped,” said
Sunny, one of the three rough sleepers
who was still on pitch at 11pm. “It was a
B&B in Southall. They offered us the
place and for us to get there and back but
no money for food or anything like that.”
Cheers, Meghan! Pubs to open late
Pub opening hours will be
extended until 1am for the
royal wedding in May,
under plans to be
announced today.
Ministers will begin
a public consultation
on the proposals,
which will see
licensing hours in
England and Wales
extended on the
evenings of Friday, May
18, and Saturday, May 19.
The plans will also
benefit football fans — the
FA Cup final is at
Wembley on May 19, the
day Prince Harry and
Meghan Markle will marry
at Windsor Castle.
Opening hours were
extended for the Queen’s
90th birthday in 2016, the
wedding of Prince William
and Kate Middleton in 2011,
and the football World Cup
in 2014. The British Beer &
Pub Association said the
extended hours would give a
£10m boost to the trade.
Amber Rudd, the home
secretary, said: “The royal
wedding will be a time of
national celebration, and
we want everyone to be able
to make the most of such an
historic occasion.”
Harry and Meghan: big day
Sunny admitted that over Christmas,
“some people did come here to make
money, but most of them have gone. Most
of the ones here now are homeless.”
Hatcher said he had been offered accommodation in Slough, two miles away, but
had refused because he wanted to be
near his mother in her sheltered accommodation in Windsor.
Martin Allen, who does not beg, said
he had been on the streets of Windsor for
about a year. He had refused accommodation offered in Slough but had now
been promised housing in Windsor itself
in about 10 days’ time.
He said he had been a well-paid
assembly-line worker at BMW in Oxford
before being made redundant and
evicted because he could not afford the
rent. “It could happen to anybody,” he
said. His friend, Michael Boyle, who has
helped get him a home, said: “This is not
something he chose, or most people
choose, and it’s wrong of the council to
say so.”
The impact of the begging on some in
Windsor has been significant. Quagliozzi,
who owns three restaurants in the town,
said he had to cut five jobs after trade
collapsed when one of them, Viva l’Italia,
became a magnet for beggars.
“They would drink whisky outside the
restaurant, they knock on the windows,
the customers can see them a metre from
their dining table,” he said. “We ask them
to move, but they just put the finger up
and abuse us. We are here to work and
earn a living, not to fight.”
Quagliozzi, who has been demanding
a crackdown for months, is now selling
two of his three restaurants after
losing patience with the council and
Phillip Bicknell, the council’s deputy
leader, said: “The mistake that’s being
made at the moment is confusing street
beggars with the homeless.
“I think some people are choosing this
as a quite lucrative lifestyle. These people
are still human beings and are entitled to
be listened to, but they’re not entitled to
sit on our streets and do what they’re
doing to get money.”
Homelessness in Windsor is controversial in the run-up to the royal wedding
The Sunday Times January 7, 2018
Meshak Cornelio,
18, was the first
victim of the New
Year’s Eve
stabbings. The
former college
student, attacked
in Enfield, died
later that day
Taofeek Lamidi,
20, was knifed
close to West
Ham Tube
station. Police
are appealing for
Kyall Parnell, 17,
was the youngest
victim. The
promising rapper
died in Tulse Hill
from a single stab
wound to the
heart as he
headed to a party
student Steve
Narvaez-Jara, 20,
dreamed of
becoming a pilot.
He was killed at a
house party on a
council estate in
he knock at the door came at
lunchtime on New Year’s Eve.
“I’m sorry to tell you that
your son has been stabbed
and he’s been taken to hospital,” the police officer said.
The initial shock for Rosa Dos
Santos, a dinner lady from
Enfield, north London, was
tempered by reassurance.
“We don’t think it’s that serious,” the
officer added.
Minutes later, Dos Santos was rushing
to the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel to check on her 18-year-old son,
Meshak Cornelio. She was accompanied
by her partner, Fortunato Mpanzu —
Meshak’s stepfather — and three of her
four other children.
The prognosis was not what they
expected. Meshak, a “quiet boy” and
former college student with a passion for
music, was in the operating theatre.
“The doctor came to see us and said,
‘We are doing our best to save your son,’”
Mpanzu recalled this weekend.
“I asked, ‘What do you mean? Is it
50-50?’ The doctor said it was worse than
that. It was only then that we realised the
gravity of the situation.”
before 8.30pm,
emerged again
to explain to
Meshak’s bewildered parents that
nothing more could be done. He told
them they had five minutes to say their
goodbyes before his life support was
turned off.
“We saw him lying in bed,” Mpanzu
said. “When the machine stopped, they
took away the [breathing] tubes. His
mother was crying so hard. No one
expected this to happen. We were
approaching new year. It’s brutal to lose
someone in your family like this.”
Meshak was one of four young men,
aged 17-20, to be stabbed to death over
the new year in one of the worst days of
knife violence London has seen. The
unrelated murders crisscrossed the
capital over a 15-hour period, leaving
families and friends grieving in the north,
south and east of the city.
The deaths took the total number of
fatal stabbings in London to 80 for 2017 —
of which 26 involved teenagers, the highest figure in a decade — and triggered a
debate over how to combat Britain’s
knife crime epidemic.
The youngsters killed in the new year
frenzy all came from hard-working
immigrant backgrounds, and had varying hopes and dreams when their lives
were cruelly snuffed out as millions celebrated the arrival of 2018.
In addition to Meshak, one was a
promising footballer, another was a
university student who hoped to become
a pilot, while a fourth victim was known
for his rapping prowess.
The other three died at the spot
where they were stabbed, robbing their
parents of the small comfort of saying
hen Dos Santos came to Britain
19 years ago from her native
Angola, a former Portuguese
colony in Africa, she envisaged a
safe and prosperous upbringing
for her children.
Meshak, the second of five siblings,
was not the most academic of children,
but trained as a plumber and electrician
before dropping out of college in Enfield,
according to his stepfather. His main
interest, it seems, was grime and rap
music, to which he used to sing along in
his bedroom at the family’s housing association property near the A10.
The circumstances behind his death
remain unclear but Meshak was at a
friend’s flat in nearby Larmans Road
when he was stabbed at 11.30am on
December 31. Five men, aged 17-21, have
been arrested in connection with the
Mpanzu, a security guard who works
in Sainsbury’s, visited the scene with his
partner last week. “I don’t know what
happened there,” he said. “Meshak was a
quiet boy. What he was doing behind my
back, I don’t know. I don’t know his
Yet Meshak’s popularity is obvious
from the makeshift shrine that has
sprung up in a park close to where he was
His friends knew him by the nickname
“Chak” and their tributes include
not only flowers, photographs and
candles, but empty bottles of cognac,
The relentless wave of knife
attacks has also continued
outside London over the
past week, writes Gurpreet
l In Bristol, Jamel Powell, 37,
died from stab wounds
following a row outside a
nightclub early last Saturday.
l In Sheffield, five men in
their twenties were slashed
outside a Great Gatsbythemed New Year’s Eve
party at the Crystal Bar. Two
of the victims were left in a
critical condition in hospital,
Four fatal stabbings:
the New Year’s Eve
countdown in blood
Four young men were knifed within 24 hours in London. While politicians play the blame
game, grieving families warn of life becoming cheap on the streets, writes Dipesh Gadher
symbolic of black youth culture toasting
the departed.
“I suppose to some people he’s just
another black boy killed,” said one friend
who gave his name as Frandy. “But he
was a good guy; it’s such a waste of life.”
Mpanzu, also from Angola, said that
far too many youths “are with gangs or
carrying knives”. “When you are carrying a knife, in my mind if someone
provokes me, I’m going to use it,” he said.
“As a security officer, every time I stop a
guy now, I’m scared.
“It seems to be getting worse,” he
added. “Since [Stephen] Lawrence was
killed at that bus stop [in 1993], nothing
has changed. The government has not
done enough. You need a strategy.”
Mpanzu also blamed an erosion in
authority that means families often have
little control over their children. “In
India or Africa, children listen to their
parents,” he said. “Over here, the parents
can’t do anything. They need to change
the law. In Africa, the parents have got
The second youngster to be fatally
stabbed on New Year’s Eve, Taofeek
Lamidi, was a talented footballer who
moved to London as a child with his
family from Nigeria.
His life drained away in a car park near
West Ham Tube station in east London
after he was knifed in the heart. Paramedics tried to resuscitate him, but he
was pronounced dead at 8.22pm. He was
two days from turning 21.
Another makeshift memorial near the
scene of Taofeek’s death has balloons
attached to it, along with birthday cards
from his siblings. One card reads: “Rest in
peace, babe. I’ll forever cherish our
lovely moments.”
There is also a photograph of Taofeek
taken in 2012 when he played a trial game
for the under-16s of MK Dons, the League
One side. A professional career was
beyond his grasp but he planned to be a
personal trainer.
This evening, a week after the murder,
police will revisit the scene to appeal for
witnesses. No arrests have been made.
Across London, Kaizah Parnell, 18,
made a tearful visit to Norwood Road in
Tulse Hill last week where her brother,
Kyall, 17, was killed.
Like Taofeek, the teenager, from Croydon, south London, died from a single
stab wound to the heart. The youngest
victim of the New Year’s Eve rampage,
Kyall was officially confirmed dead 22
minutes before midnight.
Police believe he was on his way to a
party on the No 68 bus with a friend
when a row broke out. He tried to flee but
was chased by up to 10 youths. Two
16-year-olds have been arrested.
The spot where Kyall fell is yards from
where a Polish cleaner was killed in a
hit-and-run last month. Four vehicles ran
over Justyna Kalandyk, 29 — yet none of
the drivers stopped.
Last Wednesday one of Kyall’s friends
showed The Sunday Times footage of the
teenager rapping. “He was really good
and had recorded in the studio,” said the
friend, who did not want to be named.
“He had been in a few scrapes, but he was
while the other three
suffered “superficial
l In Oxford last Wednesday
evening, a 16-year-old boy
was stabbed close to a
children’s playground in the
Friars Wharf area.
A group of runners tried
to save the teenager, but he
died in hospital as a result of
his injuries.
“There was a young bloke
on the floor lying in a pool of
blood,” said a witness.
“There were three or four
runners trying to revive him.
He had stab wounds in his
A 25-year-old woman and
a 33-year-old man were
arrested on suspicion of
l In Birmingham, a
28-year-old man was
stabbed to death on
Thursday at a branch of
the Paddy Power
bookmakers in the
Handsworth area of the city.
Police described it as “an
isolated incident”.
Kyall’s Facebook account shows him in
a series of “gangsta rap” poses and at one
point he changed his profile picture to a
wad of £20 notes. On the Askfm social
media site, he was once questioned:
“What are your major goals in life?” Aged
no older than 13 at the time, Kyall replied:
“To get rich or die tryin’.”
Last week Kyall’s grandmother, Maida
Grant, expressed her anger. “This is happening too much,” she said. “Every day if
there is an argument a knife is always
involved. It’s as if life is cheap and they
don’t think of the consequences.”
The stabbings have sparked a political
blame game with Tories criticising Sadiq
Khan, the Labour mayor of London, for
failing to get a grip on knife crime despite
pledging to make it a priority. Sam
Gyimah, the prisons minister, tweeted:
“You called knife crime an epidemic, but
what is the plan?”
olice, however, believe the Conservative government must share
the blame. One detective pointed
the finger at Theresa May for
restricting the use of stop and
search when she was home secretary.
The detective argued that the powers
— which have disproportionately
affected black and Asian communities —
acted as a deterrent to carrying weapons.
“Don’t forget that black youths are also
among the main victims of knife crime,”
he said. The recent spike in stabbings has
now led some forces, including the
Metropolitan police, to reverse the fall in
searches. Other campaigners have called
for tougher sentences for those caught
carrying knives.
The debate comes too late, however,
for the “broken” family of Steve NarvaezJara, 20, the fourth victim of the new year
stabbings. He was killed at a house party
at a first-floor flat on a council estate off
Old Street in Islington, north London, in
the early hours of January 1.
A second man, aged 20, was also
stabbed at the party and remains in a
critical but stable condition. Three
arrests have been made.
After moving to the UK from Ecuador,
Steve was studying physics and aerospace at Hertfordshire University as part
of his “dream” of becoming a pilot.
His parents, Steven and Viviana, and
three younger sisters, who live in Belvedere, southeast London, said: “Someone
has taken away our only beautiful son and
brother without thinking about the pain
and sadness it has caused our family.”
In a heartfelt plea that appears
doomed to fail, they added: “We pray to
God that Steve’s death brings knife crime
to an end.”
The Sunday Times January 7, 2018
All the president’s women: LA girls,
a wife apart and a driven daughter
Trump dismisses as fiction the incendiary book by
Michael Wolff about White House life, but these
extracts reveal the tangle of characters at its heart
Donald Trump’s marriage was perplexing to almost everybody around him. He
and Melania, who wept — but not with joy
— after his election victory, spent relatively little time together. They could go
days at a time without contact, even
when they were both in Trump Tower.
Often she did not know where he was, or
take much notice of that fact. Her husband moved between residences as he
would move between rooms.
Along with knowing little about his
whereabouts, she knew little about his
business, and took at best modest
interest in it. An absentee father for his
first four children, Trump was even more
absent for his fifth, Barron, his son with
Melania. Now on his third marriage, he
told friends he thought he had finally
perfected the art: live and let live — “Do
your own thing.”
Still, the notion that this was a marriage in name only was far from true. He
spoke of Melania frequently when she
wasn’t there. He admired her looks —
often, awkwardly for her, in the presence
of others. She was, he told people
proudly and without irony, a “trophy
wife”. And while he may not have quite
shared his life with her, he gladly shared
the spoils of it. “A happy wife is a happy
life,” he said, echoing a popular rich-man
Following the route of her father, Ivanka
Trump was crafting her name and herself
into a multifaceted, multiproduct brand.
Father and daughter got along almost
peculiarly well. She was the real miniTrump. She accepted him. She was a
helper not just in his business dealings,
but in his marital realignments. She facilitated entrances and exits. If you have a
douchebag dad, and if everyone is open
about it, then maybe it becomes fun and
life a romantic comedy — sort of.
Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner, united as a power couple, consciously recasting themselves as figures
of ultimate attainment, ambition and
satisfaction in the new global world and
as representatives of a new eco-philanthropic-art sensibility.
Between themselves, the two had
made an earnest deal: if some time in the
future the opportunity arose, she’d be
the one to run for president. The first
woman president, Ivanka entertained,
would not be Hillary Clinton; it would be
Ivanka Trump.
And yet, the larger truth was that
Ivanka’s relationship with her father was
in no way a conventional family relationship. If it wasn’t pure opportunism, it was
certainly transactional. It was business.
Building the brand, the presidential
campaign, and now the White House — it
was all business.
Once, coming back on his plane with a
billionaire friend who had brought along
a foreign model, Trump, trying to move
in on his friend’s date, urged a stop in
Atlantic City. He would provide a tour of
his casino.
His friend assured the model that there
was nothing to recommend Atlantic City.
It was a place overrun by white trash.
“What is this ‘white trash’?” asked the
“They’re people just like me,” said
Trump, “only they’re poor.”
Trump liked to say that one of the things
that made life worth living was getting
your friends’ wives into bed. In pursuing
a friend’s wife, he would try to persuade
the wife that her husband was perhaps
not what she thought. Then he’d have his
secretary ask the friend into his office;
once the friend arrived, Trump would
engage in what was, for him, more or less
constant sexual banter.
Do you still like having sex with your
wife? How often? You must have had a
better f*** than your wife? Tell me about
it. I have girls coming in from Los Angeles
at three o’clock. We can go upstairs and
have a great time. I promise . . .
And all the while, Trump would have
his friend’s wife on the speakerphone,
listening in.
To the senior staff, Hope Hicks, 29,
seemed too young and too inexperienced
to become Trump’s communications
director. Sponsored by Ivanka and ever
loyal to her, Hicks was thought of as
Trump’s real daughter, while Ivanka was
thought of as his real wife.
Hicks had an on-and-off romantic
relationship with Corey Lewandowski,
Trump’s first campaign manager who
was fired in June 2016. Later Hicks sat in
Trump Tower with Trump and his sons,
worrying about Lewandowski’s treatment in the press and wondering aloud
how she might help him. Trump, who
otherwise seemed to treat Hicks in a
protective and even paternal way, looked
Melania and Donald Trump at a congressional lunch last January. According to Michael Wolff’s book, the two have little contact and sleep in separate rooms
up and said, “Why? You’ve already done
enough for him. You’re the best piece of
tail he’ll ever have,” sending Hicks
running from the room.
darker it got. Impatience resulted in
Trump’s orange-blond hair colour.
A pollster who became a key Trump surrogate on cable television shows, Kellyanne Conway seemed to have a convenient On-Off toggle. In private, in the Off
position, she illustrated her opinion of
her boss with a whole series of facial
expressions: eyes rolling, mouth agape,
head snapping back. But in the On position, she metamorphosed into believer,
protector, defender and handler. Trump
loved her defend-at-all-costs shtick.
Loyalty was Trump’s most valued
attribute, and in Conway’s view her
kamikaze-like media defence of the president had earned her a position of utmost
primacy in the White House. But she was
In at least one television interview,
Ivanka made fun of her father’s combover. She often described the mechanics
behind the hairstyle to friends: an absolutely clean pate — a contained island
after scalp reduction surgery — surrounded by a furry circle of hair around
the sides and front, from which all ends
are drawn up to meet in the centre and
then swept back and secured by a stiffening spray.
The colour, she would point out to
comical effect, was from a product called
Just for Men — the longer it was left on, the
so hyperbolic that even Trump loyalists
found her behaviour extreme. None were
more put off than Jared and Ivanka, who
were partial to referring to her as “Nails”,
a reference to Conway’s Cruella de Villength fingernails.
By October, many on the president’s staff
took particular notice of one of the
few remaining Trump opportunists:
Nikki Haley, the UN ambassador. Haley —
“as ambitious as Lucifer” in the characterisation of one member of the senior
staff — had concluded that Trump’s
tenure would last, at best, a single term,
and that she, with requisite submission,
could be his heir apparent. Haley had
courted and befriended Ivanka, and
Ivanka had brought her into the family
circle, where she had become a particular focus of Trump’s attention, and he
of hers.
The president had been spending a
notable amount of private time with
Haley on Air Force One, the presidential
aeroplane, and was seen to be grooming
her for a national political future. Haley,
who was much more of a traditional
Republican, one with a pronounced
moderate streak — a type increasingly
known as a Jarvanka ( Jared-Ivanka)
Republican — was, evident to many, being
mentored in Trumpian ways. The danger
here, offered one senior Trumper, “is
that she is so much smarter than him”.
© Michael Wolff 2018
Extracted from Fire and Fury: Inside the
Trump White House, published by Little,
Brown at £20
In bed by 6.30 with a cheeseburger, three TV screens and a
Michael Wolff
Trump was desperately
wounded by his treatment in
the mainstream media. He
obsessed on every slight until
it was overtaken by the next
slight. Slights were singled
out and replayed again and
again, his mood worsening
with each replay (he was
always rerunning the digital
video recorder).
Much of the president’s
daily conversation was a
repetitive rundown of what
various anchors and hosts
had said about him. And he
was upset not only when he
was attacked, but when the
people around him were
attacked. But he did not
credit their loyalty, or blame
himself or the nature of
liberal media for the
indignities heaped on his
staffers; he blamed them and
their inability to get good
“This man never takes a
break from being Donald
Trump,” noted Steve Bannon,
with a complicated sort of
faint praise, a few weeks after
joining the campaign full
time. It was during Trump’s
early intelligence briefings,
held soon after he captured
the nomination, that alarm
signals first went off among
his new campaign staff: he
seemed to lack the ability to
take in third-party
information. Or maybe he
lacked the interest;
whichever, he seemed almost
phobic about having formal
demands on his attention. He
stonewalled every written
page and balked at every
explanation. “He’s a guy who
really hated school,” said
Bannon. “And he’s not going
to start liking it now.”
If my
shirt is
on the
floor, it’s
I want it
on the
Trump found the White
House, an old building with
only sporadic upkeep and
piecemeal renovations — as
Trump: feels safe with McDonald’s
well as a famous roach and
rodent problem — to be
vexing and even a little scary.
Friends who admired his
skills as a hotelier wondered
why he didn’t just remake the
place, but he seemed cowed
by the weight of the watchful
eyes on him.
At the White House,
Trump retreated to his own
bedroom — the first time
since the Kennedy White
House that a presidential
couple had maintained
separate rooms (although
Melania was spending scant
time in the White House).
In the first days he ordered
two television screens in
addition to the one already
there, and a lock on the door,
precipitating a brief standoff
with the Secret Service, who
insisted they have access to
the room. He reprimanded
the housekeeping staff for
picking up his shirt from the
floor: “If my shirt is on the
floor, it’s because I want it on
the floor.”
Then he imposed a set of
new rules: nobody touch
anything, especially not his
toothbrush. (He had a
longtime fear of being
poisoned, one reason why he
liked to eat at McDonald’s —
nobody knew he was coming
and the food was safely
pre-made.) Also, he would let
housekeeping know when he
wanted his sheets done, and
he would strip his own bed.
If he was not having his
6.30 dinner with Bannon,
then, more to his liking, he
was in bed by that time with a
cheeseburger, watching his
three screens and making
phone calls — the phone was
his true contact point with
the world — to a small group
of friends.
On February 5 The New
York Times published an
inside-the-White-House story
that had the president
stalking around in the late
hours of the night in his
bathrobe, unable to work the
light switches.
Trump fell apart. It was,
The Sunday Times January 7, 2018
Ramble and awe: the
speech to the CIA that
left everyone baffled
Michael Wolff
Staff see
Ivanka as
Trump’s ‘real
wife’ while
Hope Hicks,
left, is his ‘real
fear of being poisoned
the president not incorrectly
saw, a way of portraying him
as losing it, as Norma
Desmond in the movie Sunset
Boulevard, a faded or even
senile star living in a fantasy
world. And, of course, once
again, it was a media thing —
he was being treated in a way
that no other president had
ever been treated.
The president, while often
a fabulist in his depiction of
the world, was quite a
literalist when it came to how
he saw himself. Hence he
rebutted this picture of him
as a half-demented or
seriously addled midnight
stalker by insisting that he
didn’t own a bathrobe.
“Do I seem like a bathrobe
kind of guy, really?” he
demanded, not humorously,
of almost every person with
whom he spoke over the next
48 hours. “Seriously, can you
see me in a bathrobe?”
Who had leaked it? For
Trump, the details of his
personal life suddenly
became a far greater matter
of concern than all the other
kinds of leak.
But another likely source
was Trump himself. In his
calls throughout the day and
at night from his bed, he
frequently spoke to people
who had no reason to keep
his confidences. He was a
river of grievances —
including about what a dump
the White House was.
Trump appears uncomfortable at the White House and is often to be found in bed by 6.30pm
On Saturday, January 21, in
an event organised by Jared
Kushner, the president visited
the Central Intelligence
Agency headquarters in
Langley, Virginia, to, in Steve
Bannon’s hopeful words,
“play some politics”.
In carefully prepared
remarks in his first act as
president, he would lay some
of the famous Trump flattery
on the CIA and the rest of the
sprawling, and leaking, US
intelligence world.
Not taking off his dark
overcoat, lending him quite a
hulking, gangster look,
pacing in front of the CIA’s
wall of stars for its fallen
agents, in front of a crowd of
about 300 agency personnel
and a group of White House
staffers, and, suddenly, in a
mood of sleepless cockiness
and pleasure at having a
captive crowd, the new
president set aside his text
and launched into what we
could confidently call some of
the most peculiar remarks
ever delivered by an
American president.
“I know a lot about West
Point, I’m a person
son who very
strongly believes
es in
academics. Every
ry time I
say I had an uncle
cle who
was a great professor
at MIT for 35 years,
who did a fantastic
job in so many
ways academically
— he was an
academic genius
us —
and then they say,
‘Is Donald Trump
an intellectual?’’
Trust me, I’m like
ke a
smart person.”
Which was all
somehow by way
ay of
praise for incoming
ming CIA
director Mike Pompeo,
ompeo, who
had attended West Point and
who Trump had
ht with
him to stand in the crowd —
and who now found himself
as bewildered as everyone
“You know when I was
young. Of course I feel young
— I feel like I was 30 . . . 35 . . .
39. Somebody said, ‘Are you
young?’ I said, I think I’m
young. I was stopping in the
final months of the campaign,
four stops, five stops, seven
stops — speeches, speeches in
front of 25, 30,000 people . . .
15, 19,000.”
“I feel young,” the
president went on. “I think
we’re all so young. When I
was young we were always
winning things in this
country. We’d win with trade,
we’d win with wars — at a
certain age I remembering
hearing from one of my
instructors, the United States
has never lost a war. And
then, after that, it’s like we
haven’t won anything. You
know the old expression, to
the victor belongs the spoils?
You remember I always say,
keep the oil.”
“Who should keep the
oil?” a bewildered CIA
employee asked a colleague
in the back of the room.
Back to Trump: “I wasn’t a
fan of Iraq, I didn’t want to go
into Iraq. But I will tell you
when we were in we got out
wrong and I always said in
addition to that, keep the oil.
Now I said it for economic
reasons, but if you think
about it, Mike” — he called
out to the soon-to-be director
— “if we kept the oil we
probably wouldn’t have Isis
because that’s where they
made their money in the first
place, so that’s why we
should have kept the oil. But
OK — maybe you’ll have
another chance — but the fact
is we should have kept the
The president paused and
smiled with satisfaction.
Then off he went again.
“The reason you are my
first stop, as you know I have
a running war with the
media, they are among the
most dishonest human beings
on earth, and they sort of
made it sound like I had a
feud with the intelligence
community and I just want to
let you know the reason
you’re the number one stop is
exactly the opposite, exactly,
and they understand that.
“I was explaining about the
numbers. We did, we did a
thing yesterday at the speech.
Did everybody like the
speech? You had to like it. But
we had a massive field of
people. You saw them.
Packed. I get up this morning,
I turn on one of the networks
and they show an empty field
and I say, wait a minute, I
Trump’s disjointed
speech at the CIA
bewildered listeners
They say,
‘Is Donald
Trump an
Trust me,
I’m like a
made a speech. I looked out —
the field was — it looked like a
million, million and a half
people. They showed a field
where there were practically
nobody standing there.
“And they said Donald
Trump did not draw well and
I said it was almost raining,
the rain should have scared
them away, but God looked
down and said we’re not
going to let it rain on your
speech and in fact when I first
started I said, ‘Oooh no.’ First
line I got hit by a couple of
drops, and I said, ‘Oh this is
too bad, but we’ll go right
through it.’ The truth is it
stopped immediately . . .”
“No, it didn’t,” one of the
staffers travelling with him
said reflexively, then caught
herself and, with a worried
look, glanced around to see if
she had been overheard.
“. . . and then it became
really sunny and I walked off
and it poured right after I left.
It poured but we have
something amazing because
— honestly it looked like a
million, million and a half
people, whatever it was it
was, but it went all the way
back to the Washington
Monument and by mistake I
get this network and it
showed an empty field and it
said we drew 250,000
people. Now that’s not bad,
but it’s a lie.
“And we had another one
yesterday. In the Oval Office
there’s a beautiful statue of
Dr Martin Luther King and I
also happen to like Churchill
— Winston Churchill . . . and
as you know the Churchill
statue was taken out.
“So a reporter for Time
magazine, and
an I have been on
the cover like 14 or 15 times. I
think I have the
t all-time
record in the
t history of
Time magazine.
Like if
[NFL quarterback]
Tom Brady is on the
cove it’s one time
he won the
Sup Bowl . . . I’ve
be on 15 times
thi year. I don’t
Mike, that’s a
that can ever
do you
be broken,
agree with that. What
you think?”
do yo
“No,” said Pompeo in
a stricken voice.
“But I wi
will say that they
very interesting
said it was ve
that Donald Trump
down the
the statue, of
th bust,
Dr Martin Luther King, and it
was right there, there was a
cameraman that was in front
of it. So Zeke [Miller], Zeke,
from Time magazine, writes a
story that I took it down.
“I would never do that. I
have great respect for Dr
Martin Luther King. But this
is how dishonest the media is.
Now, big story, but the
retraction was like this” — he
indicated ever-so-small with
his fingers. “Is it a line or do
they even bother putting it
in? I only like to say I love
honesty, I like honest
“I will tell you, final time,
although I will say it when
you let in your thousands of
other people who have been
trying to come in, because I
am coming back, we may
have to get you a larger room
. . . and maybe, maybe, it will
be built by somebody that
knows how to build and we
won’t have columns.
“You understand that? We
get rid of the columns, but
you know I just wanted to say
that I love you, I respect you,
there’s nobody I respect
more. You do a fantastic job
and we’re going to start
winning again, and you’re
going to be leading the
charge, so thank you all very
In a continuing sign of
Trump’s Rashomon effect —
his speeches inspiring joy or
horror — witnesses would
describe his reception at the
CIA as a Beatles-like
emotional outpouring or a
response so appalled that, in
the seconds after he finished,
you could hear a pin drop.
© Michael Wolff
The Sunday Times January 7, 2018
‘A very stable genius’
is stirred to anger
Michael Wolff
says his most
discovery is that
nobody in the
White House
believes Trump is
up to the job
Michael Wolff’s explosive revelations have enraged the president
Toby Harnden
Right now, Michael Wolff is the hottest
commodity in America. It is publication
day for his blockbuster exposé of Donald
Trump — an occasion brought forward
amid a storm of White House legal threats
and barely concealed fury from the man
himself in the Oval Office.
Wolff is pausing to draw breath after a
grilling on NBC’s Today show before
heading into the streets of Manhattan, hit
by last week’s “bomb cyclone”
blizzard, for a day of back-to-back
The shock waves from his book are
registering on the political Richter scale.
It is clear the White House views the tome
as an existential threat.
Would Wolff like to be known as the
person who brought down President
Trump? The journalist who was able to
blag and flatter his way into the inner
sanctum of Trumpworld, only to stroll
out and blow it up, makes a passable
attempt at modesty in response.
“I would love to claim credit for that
but I would probably more realistically
put it that I’m just the person that said the
president has no clothes,” he demurs.
“And suddenly everybody says: ‘Oh my
God, holy crap, he really doesn’t.’”
In addition to a full onslaught from
Trump, Wolff is also facing widespread
sniffiness from American reporters,
some of whom are plainly miffed that it
was he and not they who landed the
As GQ magazine put it, Wolff is
regarded by what he has called “the
journalistic priesthood” as someone
“whose credibility is often suspect and
who represents the absolute worst of
He is 64 and his long career as a columnist, chronicler and provocateur has
been marked by a fascination with wealth
and power — and an unscrupulous desire
to do whatever it takes to gain access. He
speaks bluntly, is cavalier about convention and has a deep reservoir of self-confidence. That made him a perfect fit to
ensnare Trump.
Rather than ponderously double-sourcing every anecdote and offering a dry
historical account, Wolff soaked up gossip and salacious morsels. Not everything
in the book could be proveably correct
Donald J. Trump
Michael Wolff is a total loser who made up stories in
order to sell this really boring and untruthful book.
He used Sloppy Steve Bannon, who cried when he
got fired and begged for his job. Now Sloppy Steve
has been dumped like a dog by almost everyone.
Too bad!
6 Jan 2018
I went from VERY successful businessman, to top
TV star... to President of the United States (on my
first try). I think that would qualify as not smart, but
genius... and a very stable genius at that!
6 Jan 2018
Two of a series of tweets from Trump, dismissing Michael Wolff’s book
but the result is an entertaining, devastating and plausible portrait of a dysfunctional White House.
“A lot of other people are doing great
reporting about Donald Trump but the
reporting is like a grenade going off every
day,” Wolff tells me. “I had the luxury of
stepping back and looking at this and
being able not only to tell the story but to
make sense out of the story.”
Wolff played Trump by sucking up to
him, earning — as he puts it — “a semi-permanent seat on a couch in the West
Wing” despite “having accepted no rules,
not having made any promises about
what I might or might not write”.
He had known Trump since the 1990s
when, Wolff says, he was “one of the people he would call up to scream at and
complain to about”. The key to his being
accepted by Trump, it seems, was that he
was a New Yorker and from outside the
world of politics.
“I am not a political reporter,” he says.
“I am a media reporter and Donald
Trump is not a politician. He is a media
person. So I think we connect on that
basis and the times that I’ve been with
him I spend a lot of time talking about
media people.”
Wolff sees parallels between the
Trump campaign and the Mel Brooks film
The Producers in which the clownish
protagonists create a terrible show they
are sure will be a flop, only to find, to
their horror, that it succeeds. “The entire
assumption of everyone who was
involved with him and the campaign was
that he was not going to win and they
plotted their lives accordingly,” says
“Which is why you see the comparison
to The Producers. If they had lost, everything would have been great. It was winning that would expose everything —
their incompetence, their shady deals,
their complete foolishness.”
The book’s impact has been made all
the more resounding by Trump’s primal
yell of a response, which helped catapult
Fire and Fury to the top of the bestseller
lists. In Washington, people queued at
midnight to buy copies and it sold out
within hours.
Wolff can barely suppress his satisfaction. “It’s a White House run on Donald
Trump’s whim and suddenly this incredible need for self-gratification was him
shouting out: ‘How can this person do
this? Sue him! Stop him!’ So all of the
is a
listens to
no one
things that presidents shouldn’t do, he’s
suddenly doing.”
The lawsuit against his publishers
threatened by Trump’s lawyers was “not
only plain old bullshit but completely
embarrassing bullshit”.
Much of what Wolff found was jawdropping. By his account, Trump and his
wife Melania sleep in separate bedrooms
and have nothing more than “ceremonial
interactions” with each other.
“They’re not battling each other. They
have an understanding . . . it’s an understanding between people who have
unlimited money and an understanding
with Donald Trump, who has pursued a
lifelong career of — um, what’s our word?
— hitting on women.”
Trump told his communications
director, Hope Hicks, she was “the best
piece of tail” that a fellow aide with whom
she was reportedly romantically involved
would ever have, and described Sally
Yates, the acting deputy attorney-general
he had just fired, as “such a c***”. He is
addicted to cable television and is paranoid about being poisoned.
Some of the details in Wolff’s book
appear to be untrue. A Washington Post
reporter came forward to say he had not
been at a breakfast at the Four Seasons in
the city’s Georgetown, where Wolff had
placed him, and had never even been to
the hotel.
There was widespread scepticism,
too, that Trump could have forgotten the
name of John Boehner, former Speaker of
the House of Representatives. But Trump
has only bolstered Wolff’s core narrative
that the president is erratic, even
deranged, and unable to control his
impulses. In an overnight Twitter tirade
at the start of the weekend, he
denounced Wolff’s book as “boring” —
possibly the one charge that has never
been made against him — and branded
him a “total loser”.
Trump then veered into truly surreal
territory, slamming reports, based in part
on the book, questioning his mental stability. He stated that “my two greatest
assets have been mental stability and
being, like, really smart” and boasted
that his achievements would qualify him
“as not smart, but genius . . . and a very
stable genius at that!”
But Wolff ’s most startling discovery,
he says, was that no one in the White
House believed Trump was up to the task
of being president.
“You start to realise that you’ve witnessed a kind of transformative effect
that everyone had thought one thing in
the beginning and that eroded over time
to the point where 100% of them had
come to the conclusion that this was a
man who could not function in this job.”
A central problem, he argues, is
Trump’s reliance on his daughter Ivanka
and her husband, Jared Kushner, whom
Wolff portrays as a vacuous courtier.
“Trump is a man that surrounds himself
with family and it’s partly because he can
trust them but it’s partly because they
Former MI6 officer may
be tried over Russia ‘lies’
Toby Harnden
Christopher Steele, the
former MI6 officer who
compiled an explosive
dossier alleging criminal
collusion between Donald
Trump’s election campaign
and Russia, could face
prosecution in America.
Two Republican senators
have written to the US
Department of Justice stating
that they have reason to
believe that Steele, 53, lied to
federal authorities about his
contacts with journalists.
Chuck Grassley, senator for
Iowa, and Lindsey Graham,
senator for South Carolina,
both Trump allies, appear to
be seeking to switch the
Senate’s investigation into
Russian interference in the
election into an inquiry into
whether collusion took place
by those who originally
publicised the issue.
Steele, who is not an
American citizen, has not
spoken to congressional
committees but he has been
interviewed by special
counsel Robert Mueller’s
team. It is also investigating
the Russia allegations.
He also spoke extensively
to the FBI, alerting the agency
to his findings as early as the
summer of 2016. He passed
on sensational information
regarding allegations of
election collusion and
supposed perverted sexual
escapades by Trump with
prostitutes in Moscow.
Trump vigorously denied
the dossier’s allegations.
It is a criminal offence to lie
to the FBI and the senators
have indicated they believe
there were inconsistencies
between Steele’s statements
to the FBI, which remain
secret, and what he said to
American journalists around
the same time.
Trump is obsessed with
discrediting the dossier and
has leant heavily on the
justice department to defend
him. Senior officials there will
have to consider whether
charges might be brought,
which could lead to Steele’s
arrest should he step onto
American soil.
Steele: interviewed by FBI
over Russia allegations
have no independent life but for him. All
of the money comes from him, the business comes from him. The White House
has all of these people who have no independent credibility, no independent
thought process, no independent standing. They are just extensions of Donald
But what is most damaging is the main
thrust that Trump is a rampant narcissist
and semi-literate man-child who listens
to no one and cares nothing for the presidency or anything much beyond satisfying his own id.
So how does Trump’s presidency end?
We are not even a year into it and already
Wolff believes its days are numbered. “In
some ways the entire story is about how it
ends,” he says,“one of the most astounding train wrecks in history.”
Wolff echoes former Trump chief strategist Steve Bannon in saying the president has a one in three chance of being
removed by impeachment, one in three
of resigning to avoid being removed by
his cabinet under the terms of the 25th
amendment and one in three of somehow limping to the finish of his term.
That is as far as Trump could possibly
get, Wolff concludes, as he heads for the
door and a limousine that will take him to
the next television studio. “There is absolutely no chance that he will have a second term,” he reassures me.
“We know it hits the wall at the end.
And on that note, I have to go.”
Residents dig out their cars in Boston after blizzards struck
18 die as snowstorm
blitzes US east coast
Kenza Bryan
A monster storm was blamed
yesterday for at least 18
deaths in America as
blizzards battered the east
coast — with snow as far south
as Florida.
Dubbed Grayson, the
so-called “bomb cyclone”
closed hospitals, airports and
hundreds of schools.
Among those killed were
three homeless people in
Texas and a man who had a
heart attack while shovelling
snow in Massachusetts.
A state of emergency was
declared in Maryland, North
Carolina, Georgia and
Parts of Maine had nearly
2ft of snow. Over 1m gallons
of untreated sewage spilt into
the iced-over Nantucket
Harbour in Massachusetts.
Iguanas stunned by the
cold were reported to have
dropped from trees in south
Florida, the “sunshine state”,
where it has not snowed in
almost three decades. Turtles
were rescued from icy bays.
In Canada, keepers at
Calgary Zoo had to move king
penguins indoors after
temperatures fell to -25
Americans in the path of
the storm have been advised
to remain indoors and not to
use roads unless necessary.
The Sunday Times January 7, 2018
Kim hides icy edge behind Olympic thaw
Locked in a game
of nuclear dare
Seoul hopes the North’s
overture about the Winter
Games will aid peace;
others see a ploy to dent
the alliance with America
Lawrence Freedman
Philip Sherwell
At the Panmunjom “truce village” in the
heart of the most fortified border in the
world, two rival armies last week played
out their daily rituals — part intimidation
and part spectacle.
South Korean soldiers maintained
ramrod-straight taekwondo martial art
stances while their counterparts from the
North lurked in the shadows, peering out
from behind pillars and trees.
Bill Clinton once described the
inaptly named Demilitarised Zone (DMZ)
that splits the Korean peninsula as the
“scariest place on Earth”.
Yet there was also a strangely
incongruous air as tourists arrived by bus
from Seoul to pose for photographs after
being lectured not to point cameras at the
North’s guards or make signals that could
be viewed as provocative.
It is here, after months of rapidly
escalating nuclear tension, that senior
officials from the two Koreas will this
week meet for the first time in more than
two years following an outbreak of
guarded new year bonhomie.
They will discuss a proposal by the
North’s young dictator, Kim Jong-un, to
send a delegation to next month’s Winter
Olympics in South Korea as a move
towards improving frayed ties after a year
of nuclear brinkmanship and the
intensifying drumbeats of war.
The meeting will be in marked contrast
to the drama of the last showdown at the
DMZ during the high-stakes defection of a
soldier from the North in November. The
man was pulled to safety by guards from
the South under the cover of darkness
after he lay injured for hours in no man’s
land, shot repeatedly by former comrades as they tried to stop his escape.
The North was thwarted that day. But
even some South Korean analysts believe
Kim is now using his overtures to buy
time to develop his nuclear programme,
exploit the strains between Seoul and
Washington and undermine the international consensus as sanctions bite.
Panmunjom is called the truce village
because the armistice suspending the
Korean War was signed there in 1953,
although there has never been a formal
end to hostilities.
Two-and-a-half miles wide, the DMZ —
the world’s last remaining Cold War front
line — snakes through here across the
peninsula, with pop music blaring out to
try to persuade the guards of the merits
of the other side.
Panmunjom has had no residents
since the war but is home to the Joint
Security Area of blue huts where the
occasional meetings take place and
soldiers warily stand guard, stonily face
to face. South Korea’s US allies are also
stationed here and report that the
North’s soldiers sometimes make throatslitting gestures when they see them.
Pyongyang reopened a hotline be-
Kim Jong-un is likely to be using his new year’s overtures to South Korea to buy time to develop his nuclear weapons programme further
tween the two Koreas on Wednesday and
two days later dispatched its agreement
to meet by fax — a near-moribund form of
communication in the 21st century.
The choreography was kicked off by
Kim in his New Year’s Day speech. He
made the obligatory boasts about his
country’s weapons programme, but also
struck a surprisingly positive tone to-
A South Korean
soldier stands
guard by the
door leading to
the North Korean
side of the DMZ
in Panmunjom
wards Seoul, dropping the usual abusive
terms and offering an Olympics olive
branch by raising the prospect of sending
a delegation to the Winter Games.
In the Blue House presidential mansion in Seoul there was an enthusiastic
audience: Moon Jae-in, the liberal veteran elected last year vowing to pursue
engagement with Pyongyang in a reversal
of the policy of his scandal-plagued conservative predecessor, Park Geun-hye.
After months of humiliating setbacks
as Kim relentlessly pursued his weapons
programme, Moon was desperately keen
to secure North Korean participation at
the Winter Olympics, as both a gesture of
peace and a guarantee of security.
Seoul has long feared that Pyongyang
will seek to overshadow the event, which
is being held only 50 miles from the DMZ,
by staging another missile or nuclear test
or with one of the acts of cyber-sabotage
at which the North’s clandestine hacking
unit is increasingly adept.
In a new overture, Moon proposed
postponing the next round of joint USSouth Korean military drills that had
been scheduled to overlap with the
Games and were viewed with fury in
Pyongyang as a preparation for an attack
on the North. Then, in a Thursday night
telephone call, the South Korean leader
secured President Donald Trump’s agreement to push back the military exercises.
Pyongyang’s agreement to the talks came
through a few hours later.
Moon was delighted. “The Olympics
and the Paralympics will become a
clarion of peace on the Korean peninsula,” he had proclaimed earlier. “We
must move through the crisis and
towards peace like an icebreaker.”
Even his own allies, however, worried
that Kim was securing another victory for
his nuclear brinkmanship.
“Kim Jong-un knew South Korea was
desperate for the North to join the Olympics and resume inter-Korean dialogue,”
said Chun Yung-woo, a South Korean
former chief nuclear negotiator.
“Recognising the South’s weakness, he
is using it to try to undermine the alliance
with Washington, drawing it away from
the US and using it as a shield against
possible American military action.”
Close to the edge, Books, Culture
page 38
Iran’s undaunted protesters warn
ruling clerics: ‘The game is over’
Christina Lamb
Mariam, 28, a web designer in
Tehran, thought she was in
the vanguard of the Iranian
protest movement. As a
student, she took part in
demonstrations in 2009 and
was arrested.
But when protests erupted
in cities and towns across the
country three days after
Christmas, she was caught by
surprise. “People were
coming out in the streets in
places I’d never even heard of
and saying things we never
imagined,” she said.
Shayan, 29, a Tehran
University graduate who has
been out protesting each
night, agreed. “This time
people are not calling for
reform but rejection of the
whole system,” he said. “It’s
completely different from
2009. There’s not one
slogan about reform. The
game is over.”
Though no one believes
the theocratic regime is about
to fall, given all the levers it
controls, the demonstrations
are a serious threat.
The protests are smaller
than the vast crowds of the
Green Movement in 2009 but
more widespread and much
angrier, with protesters
prepared to risk everything
by denouncing the supreme
leader, Ayatollah Khamenei.
“Iran is basically the rulers
and the ruled and these are at
the bottom end of the ruled
and really have nothing to
lose,” said Ali Ansari,
professor of Iranian history at
St Andrews University.
Many feel that in spite of
The protests
spread quickly,
feeding on
widespread anger
The protests
are smaller
than the vast
crowds of
2009 but are
much angrier
promises by President Hassan
Rouhani, the nuclear accord
signed with the West in 2015
has benefited only a few. This
is exemplified by the Gucciwearing Porsche-driving
lifestyles seen on the Rich Kids
of Tehran Instagram account.
The cost of living has risen
and unemployment is high.
Rouhani’s budget last month
cut handouts to millions of
families and raised petrol
prices by 50%. It allocated
billions of dollars to the
Islamic Revolutionary Guards
Corps — the military
guardians of the 1979 Islamic
revolution — as well as to
religious foundations
enriching the clerical elite
and to the regime’s overseas
operations such as in Syria.
A 40% rise in the price of
eggs appears to have been
the last straw.
Protests, which began in
Mashhad, Khamenei’s home
town, were initially
encouraged by hardliners
who saw them as a chance to
undermine Rouhani and his
attempted reform.
Soon people were out on
the streets in more than 60
towns. “It was as if someone
lit a fuse and the fire spread
very quickly,” said Sanam
Vakil of the Chatham House
think tank. “I’ve never seen
anything like this.”
Some protesters called for
the restoration of the
monarchy. Prince Reza
Pahlavi, exiled son of the
deposed Shah, called for a
civil disobedience campaign
but stopped short of getting
on a plane home. The regime
denounced protesters as
foreign puppets. According to
activists, more than 2,500
were arrested and 40 killed,
including an 11-year-old boy.
Authorities say the protests
have now fizzled out. But the
broadcast of a football match
on state television had to be
halted on Friday when antiregime slogans were shouted;
and Shayan says he and
others continue to gather in
the capital each evening
chanting slogans such as
“down with the dictator”. “If
we give in to fear no change
will be possible,” he said.
Some believe the regime’s
alarm at the protests gives
Rouhani a stronger hand.
“President Rouhani has a
unique opportunity to pivot
himself away from being the
demonstrators’ target to
becoming their champion for
reform,” said Ali Vaez, Iran
director for the Crisis Group.
But others say he has been
exposed for what he really is.
“Rouhani said people have
the right to protest yet at
same time the internet is
being shut down and people
locked up,” said Ansari. “The
West talks of Rouhani as
moderate but we have to
remember he comes from the
heart of the security
The anger will not go
away. “I suspect we will see
further bouts of this
throughout the year,” Ansari
added. “This is a political
system on life support.”
Editorial, page 22
Last Tuesday evening Fox
News reported that Kim
Jong-un, the North Korean
leader, had claimed in his
new year speech that
America was “within the
range of our nuclear strike
and a nuclear button is always
on the desk of my office”.
One of the network’s most
loyal viewers, President
Donald Trump, responded on
Twitter: “Will someone from
his depleted and food starved
regime please inform him
that I too have a Nuclear
Button, but it is a much bigger
& more powerful one than
his,” adding: “And my Button
The issue of course is not
whether the “button” works
— in America the button is in
fact a briefcase containing
instructions for launching
strikes — but whether the
missiles and warheads work.
The state of Korean
capabilities is at the heart of
this crisis. If Kim already has
serviceable intercontinental
missiles then he has a
When contemplating war
with North Korea,
Washington must reckon with
the risk of at least one major
American city being hit. The
converse of this is that if there
is no such capability there is
time for America to prevent
one being deployed, either by
military action or diplomacy.
Trump has made North
Korea a high priority,
insisting Kim will never get an
intercontinental capability.
Pyongyang’s response has
been to accelerate its tests —
the latest had five times more
explosive power than the
atom bombs dropped on
Japan in 1945.
Many of the tests have
failed — one missile in late
April is now thought to have
misfired and landed on a
North Korean city instead.
But with time Kim will be able
to develop a full operational
capability. That is why this
moment is so dangerous —
and why serious
commentators put the odds
of war at evens.
There is an opportunity for
Trump to deal with this issue
before Pyongyang has passed
the point that he had said it
would not be allowed to
reach. His difficulty, however,
is that North Korea has
already become a substantial
regional, if not global, threat
with a nuclear and
conventional arsenal that it
could use against South Korea
and Japan.
Analysts assume that a
US-backed South Korea
would win a war with the
North, but not without
horrendous costs and the
possibility of China’s
intervention on the North’s
side. James Mattis, the US
secretary of defence, has
warned that war would be
“catastrophic”, the “worst
kind of fighting in most
people’s lifetimes”.
This prospect has given
North Korea cover since it
first began developing a
nuclear option in the 1990s.
At each stage American
presidents have shied
away from military action
because the risks seemed
too great.
Some in Washington
advocate strikes directed
against nuclear facilities,
reasoning that Pyongyang
would not dare to respond in
the knowledge that even
worse would follow. But that
would be a gamble.
For the moment
Washington is relying on
economic pressure — China,
for once, has backed
sanctions against the North —
and it may be having an
effect: while Kim and Trump
exchanged nuclear threats
last week, the North Koreans
opened communications
with the South, offering to
send a team to the Winter
Olympics being hosted by
Seoul next month.
This could help to defuse
tension — or at least reduce
the chance of war.
Sir Lawrence Freedman is
emeritus professor of war
studies at King’s College
North Korea
has a nuclear
arsenal that it
could use on
South Korea
and Japan
The Sunday Times January 7, 2018
Dominic Lawson
Mrs May needs to win the
battle on the home front
even months after her general
election setback, Theresa May is
set to reshuffle the ministerial
pack. That she is able to do so is
a tribute to her political staying
power; some said she would not
survive to this point. But it
would be wise of her not to put
too much faith in the powers of transformation in what looks to be a set of fairly
minor changes.
Advance billing suggests all those in the
big cabinet roles will remain in situ. A plan
to promote Jeremy Hunt into something
like the position occupied by Damian
Green until his dismissal before Christmas
has been called into question by the
current difficulties in the National Health
Service. Changes of personnel are in any
case of limited interest to those outside
the Westminster bubble. The waters
closed rapidly over Mr Green, as well as
over Sir Michael Fallon and Priti Patel, two
other cabinet departures. Most voters
hardly noticed.
What voters are interested in is results
and it is on these that the government will
stand or fall. It would be easy for Mrs May
and her colleagues to conclude that
successfully delivering Brexit is all that
matters. It would also be a mistake.
In three areas, the NHS, the railways
and housing, the government has to show
it can change things for the better. Mr
Hunt has won praise for detoxifying the
Tory brand on the NHS but the service still
gives the impression of lurching from
crisis to crisis, excessively reliant on
regular large emergency doses of public
money. Some of this is a consequence of
the inefficiency of an organisation that
now employs more than 1.6m people.
Beyond that, however, there is no
sense that the NHS is on a journey of
sustained improvement. It is coping at
best, but no more. Such a journey would
involve the ruthless spread of best practice throughout the NHS. It would mean
much more locating of GP surgeries in
accident and emergency departments,
preventing the needless bottlenecks that
clog up A&E. It would mean learning from
the success of hospitals such as Salford
Royal, which successfully pioneered
seven-day working, and saved money
from doing so. It would mean, as Camilla
Cavendish argues opposite, giving hospitals responsibility for community services. The alternative, for a cash-strapped
country, is an increasingly expensive NHS
that creaks along and satisfies nobody.
For the railways, where passengers
have just absorbed a 3.4% fare increase,
and where a series of strikes is promised
for this week, the great danger is that
public dissatisfaction fuels the misguided
belief that renationalisation would be a
better alternative than the current system. It would not be but we now have a
generation of voters who do not remember the horrors of British Rail.
The decision by Chris Grayling, the
transport secretary, to allow Stagecoach
and Virgin to terminate the East Coast
contract three years early has brought
accusations of a bailout of these private
sector firms by the government. Mr Grayling would insist that his strategic vision
for rail, set out in November, will improve
reliability and ensure that when services
fall short passengers will be properly
compensated. The travelling public will
need a lot of convincing.
Mrs May’s reshuffle provides an opportunity to tackle another pressing concern.
For years the job of housing minister has
come to define the revolving door. Successive housing ministers have not stayed
long in the job. Nor have they sat in the
cabinet, an extraordinary omission for
what should be one of the highest-profile
roles within government.
The time has come to rectify that. A bighitting cabinet minister is needed to take
on the task of delivering the hundreds of
thousands of homes Britain needs, and to
tackle the problem of young people
locked out of owner-occupation and
trapped in high rents. Schemes such as
Help to Buy, which have boosted demand,
have merely scratched the surface while
lining the pockets of housebuilding executives. The task is to take on the planners
and Nimbys and build the houses — private and social — needed. Harold Macmillan did it; so should his Tory successors.
Iran’s people pay the price
for a new Persian Empire
It took just over a week for the wave of protests that began on December 28 in Mashhad, Iran’s second largest city, to make it
to the UN security council, at America’s
behest. There, predictably, the Russian
ambassador to the UN attacked America
for seeking to involve the council in what
he described as “an internal affair” for
Iran. He was supported by France, whose
envoy said the protests did not involve any
threat to international peace and security.
There is no evidence that the protests
are orchestrated by the CIA or Saudi
Arabia, as the Iranian regime, also predictably, has claimed. Though the crowds
joining the protests have been smaller
than in 2009, when the so-called Green
Movement called for reform, they reflect
genuine grievances and are more widespread outside the capital. The trigger for
the protests was rising prices, including a
50% rise for petrol and a 40% increase for
eggs, but it is part of a dangerous cocktail
— for a supposedly reformist regime — of
poverty, unemployment and increasing
anger over the wealth and privileges
enjoyed by a corrupt ruling elite. That
elite has enjoyed the benefits of the
nuclear accord signed by President Hassan Rouhani in 2015, a deal now under
threat from the Trump administration.
As at the UN security council, criticism
of Iran divides along predictable lines.
Tom Tugendhat, Tory chairman of the
Commons foreign affairs committee, has
rightly criticised Labour’s mealymouthed response, and the failure of
Jeremy Corbyn, so far, to comment. No
doubt he would insist this has nothing to
do with the £20,000 he received from
appearances on Iran’s state Press TV network. He needs no financial inducement
to be friendly to any regime unfriendly to
the US and the West.
It remains to be seen how far these protests go, though a claim last Wednesday by
the head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard
that the “sedition” had been defeated
looks to have been premature. The protests have continued. Though they are
unlikely to topple the Iranian regime, they
present it with a warning. And, for a country that spends its money on building a
new Persian Empire in the middle east,
they are a reminder that there are deep
problems at home.
Death in a cold climate
Autumn, as the poet Keats reminds us,
is the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness. Winter, on the other hand, is
now the season of literary shootings,
stabbings, poisonings and mysterious
agents who are not quite what they seem.
This month an unusual number of
crime novels and thrillers are published.
January used to be a rather dead month in
the book trade, but publishers hope to
emulate the success of The Girl on the
Train, which came out in January 2015.
It’s a wonder nobody has thought of
this before, as plenty of people feel rather
murderous in January, which is also the
month of biting cold weather, tax returns
and a bumper time for divorce lawyers.
After the festive train strikes, perhaps
an enterprising author might rush out a
page-turner that features mysterious
deaths at a railway company. It could be
called The Girl Who Was Hoping to Be on
the Train but Discovered that It Had Been
Blair won’t stop at remain:
his gang wants the euro
A hidden agenda is driving efforts by the ex-PM, Nick Clegg and others to halt Brexit
longside the phrases commonly
understood to mean the opposite of
what is said (“the cheque is in the
post”, “it’s what I’ve always wanted”,
“I am no racist, but . . .”) we must now
add: “I accept entirely the result of
the 2016 referendum.” It’s what many
people say, just before explaining
why the result was in some way illegitimate:
the winners lied, the people didn’t understand,
it wasn’t what they really meant, and so on and
so forth ad nauseam.
Those nine words were, naturally, what
Tony Blair said to the BBC’s John Humphrys
last week, while arguing that everything must
be done to avoid honouring the result of that
plebiscite. Of course the former prime minister
doesn’t “accept the result”: every fibre of his
being recoils against accepting it.
So when Humphrys asked how the vote to
leave the EU could be reversed — another
referendum? A vote in parliament? — Blair
loftily dismissed this as “a second order
problem”. In other words, it doesn’t matter
how Brexit is stopped: it just must be. Although
Blair then went on to argue that “a fresh
referendum . . . as opposed to 2016 — would be
a choice between two alternatives”. Oh, the
stupid British people, fooled into imagining
that remain or leave had been a choice
between two alternatives!
Blair has always displayed a remarkable
facility for defining the terms of any debate to
suit his own objective. When this far-fromdormant political volcano last erupted, four
months ago, he wrote in this newspaper: “We
have to respect the referendum result to
change it.” Blair went on to explain this
apparently nonsensical proposition. His
argument, such as it was, went as follows: the
vote to leave the EU was only because millions
of people were unhappy about uncontrolled
migration from the other 27 member states, so
we just get Brussels to give us some sort of
emergency brake on immigration and can then
forget about the referendum result. Easy!
Simultaneously, his own think tank, the
modestly titled Tony Blair Institute for Global
Change, added, in support of its owner’s claim,
that the UK could “seek to impose new,
discriminatory terms and conditions for EU
nationals taking up residence in the UK . . .
enabling businesses and universities to give
preference to UK nationals over EU nationals”.
Amazing: Blair’s own institute seemed unaware
that its proposal would be illegal under the
Treaty on the Functioning of the European
Union, a treaty of which the former PM was an
ardent advocate.
But now Blair has sinuously moved in the
opposite direction. He said nothing last week
about trying to change EU law on freedom of
movement. Instead he argued that the NHS was
suffering from a drop in recruitment of staff
from the rest of the EU and that this was a
result of the referendum. In fact the Royal
College of Nursing has pointed out that such
problems with overseas recruitment stem from
the introduction in 2016 of much tougher
English-language requirements. And, by the
way, the number of NHS staff from the rest of
the EU has increased by 3,000 since the
Blair may have given up on the argument
that we can “have our cake and eat it” — EU
membership but with special arrangements on
freedom of movement — but Nick Clegg hasn’t.
The former deputy prime minister has been
claiming in The Sunday Times Magazine and,
latterly, the Financial Times, that the
government had missed the chance after the
referendum of “reopening the rules around
freedom of movement, even though decisionmakers in Brussels were ready to do so”.
Well, the EU “decision-maker” who counted
then — and might for a while longer — was
Angela Merkel. And the German chancellor
made it as clear to Theresa May after the
referendum as she had to David Cameron
beforehand (to his bitter disappointment), that
freedom of movement was fundamental to
membership of the European single market.
There would be — in the phrase German
politicians use to dismiss British demands for
special treatment — “no cherry-picking”.
Clegg’s own revulsion at the outcome of the
referendum has led him to publish a book
entitled How to Stop Brexit. This gives special
pleasure to those of us able to recall the events
of 10 years ago when, as newly elected head of
the Liberal Democrats, Clegg became the first
In two months, the
lead for ‘leave’ has
risen to nine points
mainstream party leader to call for an in or out
referendum on Britain’s membership of the
EU. Indeed, so furious was Clegg when the
Speaker of the Commons decided not to allow
a debate on his proposal, he led his MPs in a
flounce out of the chamber in protest. Clegg
then argued that this was like “allowing the
British people to choose their mode of travel
without asking whether they actually want to
continue on the journey at all”. Now they have
been asked and replied, no thanks, we’d rather
not continue on this journey, Clegg’s little horn
sounds a very different note.
It would make a less discordant parp-parp if
there had been a significant shift in public
opinion on the matter since June 2016. No
opinion poll has remotely the status or
legitimacy of a referendum in which more than
33.5m people voted. But for what it is worth,
YouGov’s tracking poll on the question, “At
this point would you prefer that Britain stays in
or leaves the EU?” records 48% for leave and
39% for remain (with 13% “don’t know”).
Between October and December the lead for
leave had moved from two points to nine.
Further interventions by Blair and Clegg — for
different reasons, the two British politicians
whose word is least trusted — are likely only to
strengthen the determination of those who
voted leave not to repent.
But Clegg’s point 10 years ago about “the
journey” is a revealing one. One other thing
that all those politicians who want to revoke
the referendum have in common (I mean
Michael Heseltine and Andrew Adonis, as well
as Blair and Clegg) is they were adamant that
the UK should join the eurozone — and still
believe that is Britain’s destiny. None of them
have for a second questioned themselves about
that, even as it has been demonstrated what
misery it has inflicted on the southern
European economies, locked in an appallingly
misjudged monetary union with Germany. In
fact, if the UK were to seek readmission to the
EU post-Brexit, it would be in the position of all
new applicants — obliged to prepare for
adoption of the euro. That is what Blair and
Clegg (and, on the Conservative side, Heseltine
and Ken Clarke) really want.
So let them make that case. It is at least an
honest argument about the future, instead of
this disgracefully disingenuous attempt to
rewrite the past.
Lord Remain is here to coax us back to
Brussels, News Review, page 29
Sarah Baxter
Justice is taken for a ride
in Worboys’s black cab
The police flip between believing only the perpetrators or victims of rape
et’s hear first from Jean Clayton, the
former wife of the paroled black cab
driver John Worboys. She claims the
convicted rapist, who may have
sexually assaulted more than 100
female passengers after spiking their
drinks, ought to be locked up for life.
Her ex was “one dangerous man”, she
said: “If he hadn’t been caught and taken to
court he would have murdered somebody.”
She described Worboys as a peeping Tom who
also leered at young girls as they undressed.
“He was the worst husband you could ask for”
— yet he is still being freed.
Or perhaps that accolade should go to
Theodore Johnson, who specialises in bumping
off his lovers. He shoved his wife off a balcony
in 1981, spent only five years inside and
strangled his new partner in 1992. Pleading
diminished responsibility, he was released
after two years and murdered a third partner in
2016 with a claw hammer and a dressing-gown
cord. On Friday the serial killer finally received
a life sentence. About time, you might say.
Worboys was a sexual predator, Johnson a
murderer, but their cases confirm how
ill-served women still are by the criminal
justice system. Before we lose our cool over the
Worboys case, however, it is worth taking a
closer look at it. The obviously premature
release of the black-cab driver would appear to
be the result of a huge overreaction to the
injustices created by indefinite sentences of
imprisonment for public protection (IPPs),
introduced in 2005 and scrapped in 2012. Two
dreadful wrongs don’t make a right.
There was some initial logic to the idea that a
few die-hard criminals likely to reoffend should
not be released until they were no longer
deemed a menace to society. Bureaucracies
being what they are, however, thousands of
prisoners were soon being given IPPs, leaving
them in the horrific situation of never knowing
when — or even if — they might be freed.
In came Nick Hardwick, the new Parole
Board chairman in 2016, who rightly felt that
far too many inmates were languishing in this
way. So now, in a screeching change of gear,
prisoners on IPPs are being thrown out of the
nick and onto the street with barely the chance
to ask: is it safe? Are they likely to reoffend?
The worst of it is that the public has no right to
know why the Parole Board no longer considers
vicious criminals such as Worboys a threat.
The rot set in long before the cab driver
received an IPP. Clearly Sir Keir Starmer, the
former director of public prosecutions, who
has been leading a charmed life on the
opposition benches by sounding so reasonable
about Brexit without the hard graft of actual EU
negotiations, should have ensured that more
charges against Worboys were brought so he
would have faced a longer minimum sentence
(Worboys was convicted of only one rape, five
sexual assaults and 12 druggings).
The Metropolitan police behaved far more
shamefully, however, dismissing as baseless
many women’s accusations. Two courageous
women known only as DSD and NBV went so
far as to sue the Met under human rights law
for subjecting them to “inhuman and
degrading treatment” for failing to believe they
were raped by the cab driver. The police are
still appealing against the judgment in the
women’s favour.
The High Court papers make for fascinating
reading. DSD was one of Worboys’s first victims
in 2002; NBV one of his last in 2007. In his
judgment Mr Justice Green noted that “when
[DSD] first came into contact with police very
shortly after the assault, she appeared to be a
A culture of secrecy
extends through
the justice system
drunk or a drug addict or both; and the police
assumed as much . . . Because of [this], she was
not treated as a victim of crime.”
Shockingly, Worboys had posed as a helpful
cabbie, dropping her off at the police station
when he had in fact spiked her drink (after
persuading her to have a glass of champagne to
celebrate his lottery luck or a casino win). Later
a “rape kit” containing everything he needed
to stupefy and sexually assault a passenger,
including small bottles of champagne,
Temazepam and a vibrator, were found in his
car— but still DSD’s case did not form part of
the charges against him. The judge reported
that she had experienced significant mental
health issues as a result of being disbelieved.
The solution is not, of course, to “believe”
every accusation a woman might bring. We
have already seen how that can lead to
miscarriages of justice as in the case of Liam
Allen, the student wrongly charged with rape
after the Met failed to disclose vital text
messages from his accuser. But, as Green
found, the police could have done far more to
investigate DSD’s and NBV’s allegations and
chase up leads — he never said they should be
blindly believed in the face of contrary
evidence. We seem to be on a permanent
seesaw where the police either ignore the
evidence to get politically correct convictions
against men or wholly discount women’s
testimony to let predators off.
The recent torrent of false accusations of
rape and the relative paucity of charges against
Worboys have this in common: the failure by
police to follow correct procedure and do their
jobs properly. To this we can add a ferocious
culture of secrecy and lack of accountability
that extends all the way through the justice
system to the Parole Board.
Let the daylight in. We wouldn’t be in such a
funk about whether women should “always”
be believed or men should “always” be
presumed guilty if the police and prosecutors
followed Ronald Reagan’s dictum: “Trust,
but verify.”
A new bicycle for
millionaire Benyon
Tory MP Richard Benyon was banned
from driving last month but he’ll have
no trouble getting around his Newbury
constituency: one of his political
opponents is having a whip-round to
get him a bicycle.
Steve Masters, chairman of the West
Berkshire Green Party, appealed for
funds on the GoFundMe website after
Benyon was banned for texting at the
wheel. “Losing one’s licence when it is
central to your working life can be
devastating for working people,” says
Masters. “An eco-friendly bicycle
seems the best solution.”
Donations have reached more than
£400 and any spare cash will go to a
mental health charity. Benyon, who
donated £10, can probably afford to
buy his own bicycle. Worth an
estimated £110m, he is thought to be
the country’s richest MP.
Sorry Theresa,
the spears are out
“What I wouldn’t show the
Pope, I won’t show the
There were dance moves on Strictly that I
refused to perform, reveals the reality TV star
and former Tory minister Ann Widdecombe
“Do we want a big, strong,
capable geezer?
Sometimes we do”
Women don’t necessarily want “sensitive” men
who are in touch with their emotions, admits the
Woman’s Hour presenter Jane Garvey
“I too have a nuclear
button, but it is a much
bigger and more powerful
one than his”
Mine is bigger than yours, says President
Donald Trump, taunting the North Korean
leader, Kim Jong-un
“It’s payback time”
Melissa Ede, a transgender taxi driver who won
£4m on a lottery scratchcard, says she won’t
give anything to the four children who failed to
support her during her transition
“A woman today does not
have to be behind”
Brigitte Macron, first lady of France, says she
won’t be overshadowed by her husband
Camilla Cavendish
Call Dr Stalin: the NHS
must be forced to unify
Theresa May will not be prime
minister by the end of the year — for
thus it is written in the asparagus.
Every year, Jemima Packington, a sort
of Mystic Veg, throws some asparagus
spears into the air and makes
predictions based on the way they fall.
I swear I’m not making this up.
She says 2018 will see a new prime
minister, political scandal and “no
major sporting achievements for our
national teams”. Mystic Atticus could
have predicted that last one, perhaps
after glancing at a piece of chicory.
Cash is not enough — the only cure is a properly joined-up health service
veryone in the NHS dreads the first
week of January. Norovirus and flu
stalk the land. Revellers clog up
A&E. Ambulances fume outside
hospitals, unable to disgorge their
patients because hospital beds are
full of frail elderly people with
nowhere to go. Routine operations
are cancelled. Staff trudge grimly through
hellish scenes and the rest of us worry
about falling ill. We are all equal in the face
of turmoil.
Does the NHS need more money? Yes, if it
is to go on providing all the services people
expect. The strains on A&E are eating up
resources that should have been used for
reform. Either we find more money, perhaps
through a dedicated tax, or the prime
minister must have a grown-up conversation
with the public about what is possible.
Should we keep performing complex
operations on old people with a low chance
of survival? (Many doctors think we should
not.) Should over-the-counter remedies such
as paracetamol be free on prescription? Can
we afford expensive drugs that prolong life
by a few weeks? What is going to give?
Theresa May attempted to face the public
with some uncomfortable facts last year,
with her manifesto pledge to make people
pay more for social care. But it was less
of a conversation than a bombshell. The
cack-handed way in which it was sprung
on the public backfired spectacularly. A
grown-up conversation about healthcare
needs a long run-up and a grown-up
opposition. It may even need a royal
commission involving all the former
Labour, Liberal Democrat and Conservative
health ministers who privately agree on
almost everything, while their parties fill the
media pretending otherwise.
Instead, we get small amounts of new
money to prop up ailing services. We get a
slow, disorderly rationing of things by
managers whose job is to make ends meet,
not to work out — for example — how much a
physiotherapist might save the whole NHS if
she helped an elderly person who would
otherwise never get out of bed again.
And here’s the real problem. The system
doesn’t put the physios where they are
most needed, because the system isn’t a
system at all. The NHS is not the monolith of
popular imagination, but an alphabet soup
of 700 different organisations: acute
hospital trusts, mental health trusts and
regulators — plus 8,000 GP surgeries in
England and Wales. It is a ramshackle
lifeboat held together with dotted lines and
When my father was admitted to hospital
two years ago, a succession of staff came to
ask us questions. What medicines was he
taking? Had he been ill before? Did he live
alone? He was in no state to answer. It took
five days for the hospital to get his medical
records, because in England your medical
records are held by your GP. We must be
almost the only civilised country in the
world where you can black out in your
own home and fetch up in your local
hospital and be treated as though you have
dropped in from Mars when you have lived
in the same town for 50 years and paid taxes
all your life.
That’s not the only divide. The reluctance
of many GPs to visit care homes adds to A&E
visits, because residents whose early
symptoms were not treated are rushed to
hospital after they fall over or fall ill. And the
strains on “community services” mean
elderly patients remain stuck in a hospital
bed because there is no one to dress their
wound, or give them chemotherapy, outside.
Community services — cottage hospitals,
district nurses, occupational therapists — are
the invisible glue holding up the edifice. But
the obsession with the numbers of hospital
nurses and doctors — which the government
has kept increasing — means that little
attention has been paid to the virtual halving
in expert local nurses in a decade.
Money follows power. And power lies with
the chief executives who run the big
hospitals. Outside Northumbria and Salford,
few hospital trusts run community services,
so they don’t have an immediate financial
interest in supporting them.
To bridge these divides, governments
have spawned endless agencies: clinical
commissioning groups, primary care trusts,
Healthwatch. They have tried to limit
monopoly power. But in our desire to avoid
monopolies we have ended up with a
bureaucracy in which the payments made
by different health fiefdoms to each other
cost anywhere between 4% and 14%
(depending on whom you talk to) of the
entire NHS budget.
I have observed the NHS for more than
The NHS is not a
monolith but an
alphabet soup of
700 different
10 years: as a journalist, as a non-executive
director of the NHS regulator Care Quality
Commission, as a patient and relative, and as
head of David Cameron’s policy unit in
No 10. Unlike many patients, I have a map.
Yet like many patients, I can still feel lost.
There are more job titles in the NHS than in
many multinational corporations — some of
them jobs that exist simply to tie together the
disparate pieces.
What if we really had one truly unified
national medical system? What if GPs were
based in hospitals with access to CT
scanners, instead of having to write a letter
to a consultant asking for a test in four
weeks’ time? What if hospitals ran
community services, so they could see the
need to hire district nurses? What if patients
could go to one place, tell one story, and see
the pharmacist at the same time? Until we
have one united medical system, we will
have to rely on “goodwill” alone. But
“goodwill” soaks up enormous amounts of
time. I meet brilliant doctors and nurses,
who seem to spend half their time in
well-meaning committees.
What strikes me is how many NHS leaders
are trying to bridge divides. The GPs who
have persuaded hospitals to let them open
clinics in A&E. The heads of hospital trusts,
in places such as Northumbria and Greater
Manchester, who are taking over GP
practices and community services.
Simon Stevens, the NHS England chief
executive, is encouraging this. But he needs
to be more prescriptive. Every A&E should
have a GP surgery with proper diagnostic
equipment. All GPs should be salaried (half
already are). Hospitals should run
community services.
Some readers will worry I am proposing
some kind of Stalinist NHS that would hold
taxpayers to ransom. Perhaps I am; but the
current system isn’t working. Others may
think I am just shuffling deckchairs, when
what is needed is cold hard cash. I agree
more cash is needed. But it is not just about
making economies, real or false. As
Professor Sir Mike Richards, the cancer
expert and former chief inspector of
hospitals, is fond of saying: “The cheapest
way to look after a patient is to diagnose
them the day before they die.”
Whatever happens this winter, I do
believe the NHS needs more money. But I
would pay it to those who can create a
unified medical system. One system that
doesn’t pay people to ask you the same
questions again and again, but treats you
early and gets you out of hospital because it
works off one budget. One system, which
means that none of us ever need to be lost in
the NHS without a map, ever again.
Niall Ferguson is away
l A Liberal Democrat couple in
London have named their newborn
son Vince in honour of party leader
Vince Cable. The couple prefer to
remain anonymous — and who can
blame them? — but Sir Vince says: “I
feel very flattered, and I’d be delighted
if it becomes a trend as the party’s
fortunes rise.” According to
government figures released last year,
the number of babies called Jeremy
actually fell after the rise of
Corbynism. Anybody prepared to
admit naming a daughter Theresa
after the prime minister?
l Writing in The Oldie, broadcaster
and former Tory MP Gyles Brandreth
recalls checking into the Midland hotel
in Manchester alongside Johnny
Rotten at the height of the Sex Pistols’
fame. Ever the gent, Brandreth took
his fellow guest by the hand and said:
“Exciting to meet you, Mr Rotten.”
“F*** off,” replied Mr Rotten.
l I see a selection of Jacob Rees-Mogg
T-shirts are now available on eBay.
Although you can have Mogg on a
T-shirt, you’ll never see a T-shirt on
Mogg, so wouldn’t a range of vintage
evening dress be more appropriate?
l Labour’s Chris Bryant, entering his
hotel room while staying in Bath
recently, was surprised to find it
already occupied by a naked woman
and a fully clothed man, reports the
New Statesman. The former Europe
minister is used to this sort of thing: he
was once chased around a grand piano
by a randy bishop and, while being
interviewed for a place at Oxford, was
invited to his interviewer’s room to
discuss Shelley. He found the man
soaping himself in the bath.
l The new year resolution of Chris
Heaton-Harris, Tory MP and
Westminster’s king of the one-liner,
was to consider giving up spray
deodorant: “Roll on 2018.” HeatonHarris is available for weddings,
birthdays and bar mitzvahs. Probably.
The Sunday Times January 7, 2018
Adam Boulton
Watch carefully as May shuffles the
pack and you’ll see her change nothing
ave you made a new year
resolution? Even the most
conceited of us sometimes
secretly feel there may be a bit
of room for self-improvement.
My new year resolutions
usually give up on radical
transformation in favour of
doing jobs I’d have to do anyway — such
as completing a tax return on time.
Cabinet reshuffles are like that. For all
the talk of prime ministers “stamping
their authority” and being “good or bad
butchers” who “wield long knives”, they
mostly shuffle because they have to.
So it is for Theresa May. She is not a
prime mover. She copes with events.
To deliver the referendum verdict that
catapulted David Cameron from office
and threw the Tory government into
chaos she executed one of the most
brutal, comprehensive reshuffles ever,
and created two new departments.
The changes to her team since then
have been involuntary. In June last year
she was forced to rethink both her
ministerial and kitchen cabinets again
after the election deprived her of close
allies including Ben Gummer and Nick
Timothy. Then the errant behaviour of
Michael Fallon, Priti Patel and Damian
Green necessitated further changes.
May has shown herself capable of
delivering surprises in the past, most
notably in the trio of admonitory
speeches that have defined her career so
far: to “the nasty party” as Conservative
Party chairwoman, to the police as
home secretary, and condemning
“citizens of nowhere” in her first leader’s
address. But her instinct is to keep her
head down and push on.
This reshuffle was wished on the PM
by Green’s sacking. It is fair to assume
that she already has the big beasts in her
cabinet where she wants them. She will
be reluctant to cull them further. This
protective cloak most probably extends
beyond the great offices of state at the
Home, Foreign Offices and the Treasury,
to the Brexit departments headed by
Liam Fox and David Davis.
Philip Hammond’s unexplosive
budget ushered in the period of relative
calm the prime minister and economy
are enjoying. With no budget to deliver
until autumn, this chancellor is May’s
most reliable shock absorber.
Foreign secretaries haven’t been in
charge of UK foreign policy for as long as
I’ve been covering politics, and for long
before, according to Robert Harris’s
sympathetic account of Neville
Chamberlain at the Munich conference
in 1938. For good or ill, it is much simpler
and more glamorous for prime ministers
to sign an international agreement than
to keep the health service or railways on
track. Topmost office should have its
perks. Margaret Thatcher grasped this
early on, ably assisted by courtiers such
as Charles Powell. Subsequent prime
ministers have followed her, taking the
lead in important diplomacy and
empowering their own loyal civil
servants to represent them.
May has appointed Olly Robbins,
former permanent secretary at the
Department for Exiting the European
Union, as her personal adviser to run the
Brexit negotiations. The outcome was
always going to hang on two things civil
servants well understand: detail and the
will of national leaders.
This PM needs good backroom staff
more than she needs new ministers to
deal with issues such as housing,
infrastructure and relations with
business. At least Robbins’s presence
calms business people and diplomats on
the vital issue of Europe. The genial
Davis has a complementary role:
reassuring Brexiteers, jollying along his
old sparring partner Michel Barnier and
so far managing not to turn
parliamentary drama into a crisis.
With the exceptions of Douglas Hurd
and Robin Cook, modern foreign
secretaries have been functionaries of
No 10. As long as he holds high office, the
Brussels-basher Boris Johnson emits the
populist Eurosceptic signal that May
wants to send out, while remaining in
her pocket as she bails him out from his
blunders. In this politically neutered
This PM needs
good backroom
staff more than
she needs new
ministers to deal
with issues such as
housing and
state Johnson could contribute more
from the Foreign Office without having
to displace Greg Clark, the inoffensive
business secretary, as has been
May could replace Clark or any or all
of the other names touted for her little
list, including Andrea Leadsom, Chris
Grayling, Justine Greening, Patrick
McLoughlin, Sajid Javid or Liz Truss, but
would anybody notice? I don’t mean to
disparage the performance of these
Value judgment
It is not about the cost or
price of something: it is about
the value, as evidenced by the
achievements of Professor
Dame Glynis Breakwell at
Bath University (“Top earners
Brexit divisions
Former House of Lords leader
Baroness Stowell echoed the
metropolitan myth that
Brexit “exposed” a “social
divide” in which “people are
so angry and frustrated”
(“I’m a saver. Mum made sure
of that”, Money, last week).
In fact, surveys show that
the main issue for voters was
the desire for democratic rule
from the UK parliament.
Such misinterpretation by the
elite of the public’s actual
motivation demonstrates
the real social divide.
Tim Martin
chairman, JD Wetherspoon
Sphere of influence
Boris Johnson complains that
the number of UK nationals
in senior positions in EU
Dangerous side
to dieting fads
Your science editor is correct:
dieting is a huge issue in the
UK but not just because of the
obesity crisis (“What a load of
flimflab: proof that 5:2 diet
works long-term is rather
thin”, News, last week). It is
also because 1.25m in Britain
have an eating disorder,
according to the charity Beat.
Anorexia nervosa has the
highest mortality rate of any
psychiatric illness and it can
be triggered by dieting
head worst universities”,
News, last week). Of course
£468,000 is a lot of money,
but it represents a good
investment in relation to the
value created at Bath.
On the other hand, there
are huge “holes” in the
system that are amoral and
yet legal within the limited
governance of privately
owned companies. But on the
plus side, I believe it was
Henry Ford who increased
staff wages in difficult times.
His logic was that his workers
were also Ford’s customers.
Anthony Lee, Harrogate
Staff notice
While Breakwell has indeed
presided over significant
growth since taking the helm
at Bath University in 2001 the
push to develop has been in
response to government
pressure to do so.
It would have taken place
under any competent
vice-chancellor. The hard
work of staff at Bath towards
its success should also be
institutions has dwindled to
such a degree they are now
unable to influence EU aid
and development spending.
Had he not denigrated the
work of the EU during the
time as a Brussels-based
journalist, more Britons
might have been tempted to
apply for jobs there.
Donal Carey, Antibes, France
Contested results
Professor Michael Woolfson’s
correspondence (“Second
opinion”, Letters, last week)
typifies EU-style democracy:
if you do not like the results of
a vote, just hold another
referendum. Perhaps he
would be for second general
elections if the losing party
got the most votes but not the
majority of seats. With this
sort of argument, where
would one ever draw the line?
Alex Johnson, Scarborough
advice. Had I known how
dangerous diets could be,
perhaps I would not have
osteoporosis at the age of 22.
Eleanor Davies
Ewhurst, Surrey
Shedding pounds
The 5:2 diet does work. It has
helped my wife and I, plus
family members and friends:
each shed a stone or more and
our weight has remained
stable, thanks to its follow-up
advice. Nor is it hard to stick
to: willpower is never required
for more than 24 hours.
Peter Saunders, Hastings
were both loyalist remainers and
operators, Patel and Penny Mordaunt
both leavers and former party press
officers. On that basis, Jeremy Hunt
would be the neatest replacement for
Damian Green as No 10 co-ordinator,
though without the pompous first
secretary title.
Hunt said health would be his last job
in politics when May kept him on
unexpectedly. Having airbrushed his
opposition to Brexit, he could be a
survivor of the NHS winter crisis. The
home secretary is the other one to
watch, and not just because Amber Rudd
has reportedly undergone a makeover
by Isabel Spearman, Samantha
Cameron’s old “girl Friday”.
Rising concern over deadly knife
crime and the homeless has given new
cogency to police complaints about
austerity. Whoever is to blame, there is
no longer a visible police presence on
the streets. It could suit Rudd to move on
from the Home Office soon.
But does May sincerely still want to
help Rudd? This prime minister’s
“patronage” seems to have stifled the
ambitions of her rivals, including
Johnson, Hammond and Leadsom.
I could be wrong, but I expect Theresa
May’s 2018 personal reshuffle resolution
will amount to “nothing has changed”
and this time she will really mean it.
The Sunday Times, 1 London Bridge Street, London SE1 9GF
Email: Fax: 020 7782 5454
Seeking excuses for huge pay awards
My wife is an executive officer
in the civil service working in
London (“Your pay is
indefensible, boss; a backlash
is near”, Comment, last
week). In 2010 her gross
salary was £26,000; in 2018 it
will be £27,400. During this
time her rail fare has risen by
more than 20% and her
pension contributions by
nearly 50%. She takes home
far less and our household is
literally poorer for it.
We are certainly both
disappointed by the huge
increases in wages and perks
received by others, which
seem not particularly
deserved, save for delivering
“shareholder value” such as
making staff redundant.
Trevor Baker
ministers by mentioning them here,
indeed I owe Grayling an apology, having
wrongly tipped him as the likely first
cabinet minister to be sacked. It’s just
that mid-term reshuffles seldom change
a government’s trajectory.
Several former prime ministers noted
in evidence to a parliamentary inquiry
that reshuffles are about balancing the
governing party in terms of gender,
region, clique and political orientation.
“I should, perhaps, have given greater
priority to matching abilities to
portfolios,” John Major conceded. For
instance, if she follows her predecessor’s
advice, May might wonder if Nick
Timothy’s protégée, the politically
inexperienced Baroness Evans of Bowes
Park, is the right person to lead the
Conservatives in the Lords given the
difficulties the government anticipates
there this year over EU legislation.
But then even Major’s dramatic
recommissioning of the mighty Michael
Heseltine and Kenneth Clarke failed to
stave off defeat by Tony Blair’s New
Labour. Former big beast William Hague
has ruled out a return. Instead, what
interest there is in this cabinet reshuffle
may focus on the untested talent jostling
for ministerial promotion.
On past form the cautious May will
replace like with like and avoid a lurch to
either left or right. Recent changes were
balanced. Fallon and Gavin Williamson
Sir Richard Armstrong,
conductor, 75
Nicolas Cage, actor
(Leaving Las Vegas), 54
Sir Nick Clegg, former
deputy prime minister, 51
Hunter Davies, writer, 82
Lewis Hamilton, F1 driver, 33
Tom Kiernan, rugby player,
Ian La Frenais, screenwriter
(The Likely Lads, Porridge),
Mark Lamarr, DJ and
comedian, 51
Malcolm Macdonald,
footballer, 68
Baroness (Angela) Smith of
Basildon, shadow leader of
the House of Lords, 59
Track record
You quote Paul Plummer,
chief executive of the Rail
Delivery Group, as saying:
“Our railway performs very
well compared to many other
countries” (“48% of all trains
late or axed”, News, last
week). I have used the rail
networks in Belgium, France
and Germany and find I
can travel twice as far for
half the price on trains with
drivers and guards.
Ian Young, Brighton
Car maker Henry Ford, at the wheel, raised his workers’ wages in spite of straitened times
recognised rather than this
being seen merely as
dependent on management.
Cynthia Spencer, Gloucester
Good fortune
It is astonishing how resistant
the British public is to the fact
that creating and acquiring
wealth are among the best
Do not use UK aid
for our own gain
Boris Johnson’s call to tie
more foreign aid to our
nation’s diplomatic interests
would undermine the UK’s
standing as an honest
broker in fighting poverty
(“Boris smashes £13bn
foreign aid ‘jam jars’”,
News, last week).
Such a short-term and
outdated agenda is a sure-fire
way to ensure that British aid
provides fewer people with
the clean water, food and
medicines they need. Raiding
aid in the name of national
interest abuses the generosity
of UK taxpayers.
Luckily, the international
development secretary,
Penny Mordaunt, puts the
people the aid budget exists
to help front and centre
Hailing marriage
certificate heroine
It is great news that mothers’
names will now be included
on marriage certificates in
England and Wales (“Mums
put on wedding certificates”,
News, and “The passport to
full equality for women”,
Editorial, last week).
We should not forget
who actually started this
campaign, however. It
was my daughter, Ailsa
Burkimsher Sadler, when she
realised that my name as her
things anyone can do for
society. This truth,
appreciated by thinkers and
commentators such as Adam
Smith and Lord Kames, is too
often pushed aside in favour
of doctrines like simplistic
Marxism or Christianity,
which romanticise poverty.
The country needs to ditch
the prejudice that there is
something wrong with wealth
creation. There is definitely
something wrong with
practices that allow huge
rewards to executives who
have contributed no value.
That is a very different thing.
Robert Graham
Dunfermline, Fife
(“Nobody does humanitarian
aid better than Britain, but
2018 will bring new
challenges”, Online, last
week). She is right to argue
that Britain’s interests are
better served by tackling
global poverty so as to make
the world a safer place for all.
Katy Chakrabortty
head of advocacy, Oxfam GB
Room for UN improvement
The UK’s contributions to the
UN help bring about peace,
provide famine relief and
more (“Rev up the ‘vote leave’
battlebus! We’re still paying
dues to another idiotic club”,
Comment, December 24).
However, as Rod Liddle
noted, there are problems
within the UN. Countries
such as China sit on the
human rights council by way
of trade-offs that see nations
stand down in return for
support on other bodies. This
is indefensible. Later this year
— the 70th anniversary of the
Universal Declaration of
Human Rights — 18 seats out of
47 on the council come up for
re-election. There is much to
improve at the UN but until we
find an alternative, we must
stay and fight for reform.
Baroness Falkner
chairwoman, Five Rights
Charity begins at home
I am fed up with the virtue
signalling from a government
that fails to address the issues
plaguing the UK: delayed
surgery, underfunded care of
the elderly, reduced public
services and a rise in the use
of food banks. A government
committed to reducing
borrowing should, at the very
least, decrease overseas aid in
line with the cuts on public
spending endured at home.
Janice Elliott, by email
mother was not mentioned
on her marriage certificate.
So while we applaud the
latest decision, credit where
credit is due, please, to the
campaigning woman in
Hampshire who began it all.
Heather Burkimsher
Marldon, Devon
Sign of the times
For years after we married in
the 1970s I was annually
incandescent that my
husband was required to sign
my tax return. Now, as a
tribute to my deceased
mother, I hope the Home
Office will let me have my
marriage certificate amended
to include her name.
For the sake of posterity, I
would also like new birth
certificates issued including
their mother’s name for my
long grown-up children.
Rosalie Clayton, Fotheringhay,
Mother country
Your report failed to mention
the fact that Scottish marriage
certificates have long shown
the mother’s name — and
even their maiden name.
Steuart Campbell, Edinburgh
Lewis Hamilton is 33 today
Galileo Galilei discovers the
first of the four Galilean
moons of Jupiter. It was the
first object to be found
orbiting another planet
Birth of Francis Poulenc,
Birth of Gerald Durrell,
naturalist and writer
Opening of the first
telephone service between
London and New York
Impeachment trial of
President Bill Clinton
begins in the US Senate. He
was later acquitted
Islamist terrorists murder
11 people at the Paris
headquarters of the
satirical magazine Charlie
Hebdo, before killing a
police officer in a nearby
Data protection
Given how retired police have
treated former deputy prime
minister Damian Green’s
personal digital data, why is
security minister Ben Wallace
surprised that technology
companies might hesitate to
provide him with their users’
details (“Net titans told to join
terror fight or face tax blitz”,
News, last week)?
Matthew Herring, Bristol
Knight manoeuvres
It surely could not have come
as a shock to many that Nick
Clegg has been awarded a
knighthood (“The Gaftas:
And the winner is . . . ”, News,
last week). It was inevitable
that he would be rewarded
for his part in the coalition
government of 2010-15. Other
Liberal Democrats have also
previously received the
honour, Sir Vince Cable and
Sir Ed Davey among them.
Grant Mure, Thurso, Caithness
Worst of both worlds
Niall Ferguson suggests that
we live in a polarised social
media-influenced world and
block out those who dare to
disagree with our views
(“Speak less softly but do
not forget the big stick”,
Comment, December 24). He
agrees with Donald Trump’s
adversarial stance on China,
which replaces the dialogue
and benefit-sharing approach
of former president Barack
Obama. The rest of the world
does not wish for a binary
choice between US or Chinese
domination. It wants neither.
Each new presidential tweet
reinforces the view that
Trump is not a leader who can
make anything great again.
Bob Storey
Skibbereen, Co Cork
Graft counsel
While I have sympathy with
anyone who can only dream
of buying a property, back in
the day, my husband and I
could not afford to live in
Bristol, where we worked
(“Bank of Mum and Dad
angers millennials forced to
rent”, News, last week). We
scraped together a deposit on
a run-down cottage in a
village 16 miles away. We had
no television, had to use a
public call box to phone
anyone and spent evenings
chipping plaster off walls.
After two years, we sold it for
a profit. We worked hard and
we deserved it. How many
millennials would be
prepared to do the same?
Margret Geraghty, Bath
Hot topic
I keep a separate kitchen
bin for all plastic and have
just bought for £19.99 an
incinerator, which I line with
newspaper before popping in
the plastic and burning it
(“Natural solution to plastic
plague”, Letters, last week).
It is a natural way to rid
ourselves of this blight.
Anybody can do the same
Brenda Jackson
Belford, Northumberland
Bloody conclusion
I was born in the Lake District
98 years ago and speak from
experience of foxhunting,
which I now wholeheartedly
condemn (“Voters outfoxed
by election policy U-turns”,
Letters, last week). What
finally sickened me was the
time a fox had entered a
stream so the hounds would
lose the scent, but it was
spotted and the hounds sent
in. What followed was
horrendous, as the stricken
animal howled. No taker of
the occasional lamb deserves
such a barbaric death.
John Armstrong
Cardigan, Ceredigion
End of the line
Stephen Urquhart says that
he cannot comprehend how
anyone can use the death of
an animal for fun (“Unhappy
hunting”, Letters, last week).
Most anglers fish for pleasure.
Would he ban that, too?
The Rev Ian Williams, Tenbury
Wells, Worcestershire
The cover of Style last
week misspelt Agyness
Deyn’s surname. We
apologise for the error.
Complaints about
inaccuracies in all sections of
The Sunday Times should be
addressed to complaints@ or
Complaints, The Sunday
Times, 1 London Bridge Street,
London SE1 9GF.
In addition, the
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about the editorial content of
UK newspapers and
magazines. Please go to our
website for full details of how
to lodge a complaint.
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A persistent hip problem is forcing Andy Murray, at 30, to contemplate the end of
his career. But at 27 his brother-in-law has just conquered the South Pole alone
port is cruel even to its champions. Andy Murray knew
this when he left home aged
15 to train in Spain. He knew
it in his greatest triumph,
when he won his first Wimbledon singles title in 2013.
And he knows it now as he
faces what might be the end
of his career aged 30.
He hasn’t played competitive tennis
since Wimbledon last year, when he was
beaten over five sets by the American
Sam Querrey. He attempted to come back
for the US Open, the last Grand Slam
tournament of the year, but had to pull
out before the start.
The problem is in his right hip. He has
spent the past six months working to get
it better. Certainly, there is scarcely a soul
in sport with the work ethic of Murray. He
was planning to make a comeback for the
Brisbane International event — he’d have
hoped to make the final today — and then
move on to the Australian Open in
Melbourne. Now that’s off as well.
Surgery is an option, though it would
require much more rehabilitation and is
by no means a guaranteed result. The
injury might be a torn labrum — part of
the soft tissue in the joint — or it might be
arthritis, requiring a prosthetic hip.
Either injury could be a career-ender: an
example of the brutal wear-and-tear that
top level sport inflicts on the bodies of its
participants. Last week Johanna Konta,
the British female No 1, who is also suffering from a bad hip, was forced to retire
from her Brisbane quarter-final.
Murray put up an Instagram message
last week accompanied by a picture of
himself as a child. “I choose this pic as the
little kid inside me just wants to play
tennis and compete. I genuinely miss it so
much and I would give anything to be
back out there. I didn’t realise until these
last few months just how much I love this
game. Every time I wake up from sleeping
or napping I hope that it’s better and it’s
quite demoralising when you get on the
court it’s not at the level you need it to be
to compete at this level.”
It’s not like Murray to be so confes-
Murray’s wife Kim at
Wimbledon in 2016, the
year he won there for the
second time
sional. It’s not just the pain and the endless boredom of rehab — it’s the possibility that this could be the end. For a
professional athlete, 30 is usually only
the beginning of the end: last year Roger
Federer, the greatest of them all, won the
Australian Open and Wimbledon aged 35.
But all athletes face the same frightful
prospect: that life as they know it is over
before they hit 40. Only sport offers such
cruelties as a matter of routine. Donald
Trump is 71 with plenty of thrilling times
ahead of him; the Pope is 81 and can still
change Christendom. I can fool myself
that I might write a novel as good as Ulysses. No athlete can have such illusions.
I was sitting in the press box on Centre
Court at Wimbledon in 2013. An hour or
so back I had written in my notebook:
“Bloody hell, he’s going to do it in straight
sets!” Murray had now done exactly that,
beating Novak Djokovic 6-4 7-5 6-4 to
become the first British player to win the
men’s singles championship for 77 years.
And he did a strange thing. He didn’t
celebrate, not at first: the achievement
was too immense, too personal, and we’d
all been waiting far too long. He was, after
all, the first British male winner since
Fred Perry won in 1936.
Instead he turned and looked up at the
press box. Perhaps looking for interpretation, for meaning, or for at least some
reaction beyond scribbling in notebooks.
A quite extraordinary series of expressions chased in rapid succession across
his face: sick relief, genuine bewilderment, joy — and with it, the tiniest hint of
fear. I recalled the promise on the garden
gate in The Chronicles of Narnia: that
those who eat the fruit unlawfully “shall
find their hearts desire and find despair”.
Is that it, then? Is that what I have
slaved away my life for, sacrificed my
childhood for, the thing to which I have
dedicated every sleeping and waking
moment of my life? I have fulfilled my
quest — my life — so now bloody what?
Because nothing will be as good again.
Murray was then 26.
He first came to public attention in
2005, a gangling galoot of 18 who put up
some stirring, precocious performances
at Queen’s, the pre-Wimbledon tournament. Then, in the main event in SW19,
he made a game run to the third round.
By then Tim Henman was in decline
after many gloriously dramatic Wimbledon campaigns. So what should we make
of this awkward young Scot who filled his
press conferences with grunting bagpipe
noises and sported a barbed-wire haircut? Might he, too, take the British tennis
followers through the same teatime agonies of triumph and disaster as Tim?
The answer came later the same year,
in Basel, Switzerland. I went to that one;
the first few hundred of a fine collection
of air miles I totted up in pursuit of Murray. He played Henman, and beat him in
three sets. “I’ve passed on the baton,”
Henman said. “Or is it the torch? Whatever it is, I’ve passed it on.”
The following year Murray went to
contest an event in San Jose, California.
His mother, the majestic Judy, and then
coach Mark Petchey couldn’t go. So he
went with his girlfriend, Kim Sears. Both
were 18. It was a kind of gap-year adventure: a young couple seeing what the real
world was like.
It wasn’t such a bad place, it seemed.
Murray won the damn thing. He beat
Lleyton Hewitt in the final. The last point
was classic Murray: a rally constructed
All athletes face
the same frightful
prospect: that
life as they know
it is over before
they hit 40
Murray posted a picture
of himself as a child on
Instagram to show ‘the little
kid inside me just wants to
play tennis’
from counter-punching backhand slices
that led with glorious inevitability to the
double-fisted kill stroke. Then he kissed
the princess. Life should be like that.
So the British public took Murray to
their hearts — and did so with infinite
wariness. He has never been the sort to
go out of his way for approval. As he has
jested more than once himself, he is British all right — when he wins. When he
loses, he’s Scottish through and through.
Too much has been made of his remark about the football World Cup of
2006. He said he would be supporting
“whoever England were playing”: routine banter as ancient and as daft as football. Inevitably, those with a taste for synthetic indignation decided Murray was
anti-English, never mind that he loved
and later married an Englishwoman — the
same Kim, of course — and chose to live in
But it was soon clear Murray had made
only one bad mistake in his life, and it
wasn’t a football joke. It was the timing of
his birth. Had he been born in almost any
other era, he would have collected half a
dozen Grand Slam singles titles and be
considered on the second tier of all-time
greats: below gods such as Rod Laver and
Pete Sampras; level with Boris Becker,
Stefan Edberg and Mats Wilander.
But Murray played in the time of Federer (19 Grand Slams and counting) and
Rafael Nadal (16). When it seemed that at
last these two were on the wane, Novak
Djokovic (12) took over. To play in a time
of two gods could be regarded as a misfortune, but three looks as if fate was
waging a personal vendetta.
It follows that Murray’s tally of three
Grand Slams (two Wimbledons, one US
Open) involved probably the three hardest titles ever won. His eight losing finals
show not weakness of character but the
opposition’s stupefying strength. And
note: Murray also won two Olympic gold
medals and was for a time world No 1.
He also did something still more
remarkable. In 2015 he led Britain to vic-
The Sunday Times January 7, 2018
tory in the Davis Cup, a competition in
which Britain had been an embarrassment for years. As well as 11 victories and
no defeats in the competition, Murray
inspired lesser players to rise to the occasion. Tennis is supposed to be a lonely
and selfish pursuit: here was Murray as
the greatest team man in the history of
British tennis.
But now he must contemplate the horrors of premature retirement, and as he
does so, he remembers how much he
loves tennis. Not the glory, money and
the winning: the simpler joys of hitting
tennis balls in competition, constructing
beautiful points and finishing them off
with the perfect kill shot. And even when
you fail, the pain of losing is a vivid
reminder that you’re alive.
I remember an encounter with Sugar
Ray Leonard in a New York boxing gym.
He was 34, training for a fight against
Terry Norris. Everyone was telling him to
retire: he, of all boxers, should be able to
outsmart the game and leave it without a
beating that might change him. Why was
he fighting again?
He looked at me as if I had lost my
mind, asking such a question in such a
place. Then he gave me a serious answer.
“Nothing will ever give me the same satisfaction as what I do here. I don’t care if I
do the greatest movie and win an Oscar. It
wouldn’t be the same satisfaction. It
would be foolish to say that it could be.”
Norris beat the hell out of him.
Many of us recall Steve Redgrave's
shouted remark as his boat drifted
towards the boathouse in Atlanta in 1996
after he had won his fourth Olympic gold
medal. “Anyone who sees me in a boat
again has my permission to shoot me.”
Four years later he was in a boat again,
hammering up the rowing lake at the Sydney Olympics. He was now 38, had been
diagnosed with diabetes, the crew had
suffered traumatic defeat and equally
traumatic changes of personnel — and yet
there was Redgrave. Again. Well, why
not? Nothing would ever give him the
same satisfaction as what he did there.
Perhaps some people can take wealthy
idleness in their stride. “A million dollars
in the bank and after that you sit around
on some island drinking pina coladas,”
Leonard said. “That’s not my perception
of life.”
People who become sporting champions tend to lack the pina colada mentality. After Federer won Wimbledon in
2012 he went until last January without
His mistake was
the timing of his
birth, and to play in
the time of Federer,
Nadal and Djokovic
winning a Grand Slam. But he never considered retirement. He loves victory, but
also he loves the struggle. And perhaps as
much as both, he loves the game of
When he and Murray rallied, I sometimes thought that neither ever wanted
the point to end, so enthralling was the
dialogue of tennis. Now Murray is saying
plaintively that he would be happy to rub
along with a ranking of 30: making shots,
playing matches and revelling in sport’s
eternal simplicities: winning is good, losing is bad — and so to the next point, the
next match, the next tournament.
Murray is smart, balanced, concerned,
thoughtful and sometimes eloquent —
and has no taste whatsoever for taking it
He is thoughtful
and sometimes
eloquent — and
has no taste for
taking it easy for
the next 60 years
easy for the next 60 years. I doubt if he’s
tasted a pina colada in his life. He knows
that nothing can compare with the
pursuit and capture of sporting victory.
He has lived without such things for six
months, and now must do so for longer.
Perhaps a lot longer. Perhaps for ever.
If you are one of those who have managed to withhold admiration of Murray
across the arc of his career, I suggest you
cease to do so at once. It’s my belief that
sport can be appreciated on three levels.
The lowest is partisanship. After that
comes drama. And then, at the very top,
comes pure, refined, glorious, bewildering excellence. Murray has in his time
brought us all three at once, and it’s been
truly glorious. I hope he does so again.
Martin Hemming
t’s not like it was in the old
days, walking to the South
Pole. In Scott and
Shackleton’s heroic age of
Antarctic exploration, you
would set off with little more
than a few extra jumpers and
a blessing from the king.
You’d eat tins of luncheon
meat and maybe the odd
husky. You’d write poignant
diary entries and then, in all
likelihood, die a grim death in
the snow. At the pole itself, if
you made it, there would be
nothing but a flag planted by
some flipping Norwegian.
Now here’s a new Scott of
the Antarctic: Scott Sears, at
27 the youngest person to
walk solo to the South Pole.
Then again, if a 27-year-old,
6ft 5in, 16-stone lieutenant in
the First Battalion Royal
Gurkha Rifles can’t manage it,
who could?
After pulling a sledge of
supplies for 700 miles and
38 days, through -50C
temperatures and 150mph
winds, from his starting point
at Hercules Inlet, Sears spent
Christmas Day at the US
research base at the South
Pole, swinging in a hammock,
eating a hot Christmas
dinner, watching films and
waiting for his aircraft to
come and fly him home.
He had the latest kit
provided by a string of willing
sponsors: packets of
dehydrated chicken korma,
GPS, an emergency beacon, a
satellite phone and an iPod
Hercules Inlet
South Pole
1,000 miles
loaded with 200 hours of
Stephen Fry reading Harry
Potter and Sherlock Holmes.
It wasn’t the theme tune to
Rocky that kept him going
through his 12th hour of
skiing on day 20, it was Ed
Miliband’s Desert Island
Discs. And the gurning selfies
on Sears’s Instagram feed are
quite a contrast to the pofaced portraits that we’re
used to seeing of, say, Sir
Ranulph Fiennes.
In short, Sears is a very
millennial sort of explorer.
He is also, as far as records
Sears left
school at 15.
rejected him
10 times
show, the only brother-in-law
of a two-time Wimbledon
champion to make it to the
South Pole. Scott is the
brother of Kim Sears, wife of
Andy Murray.
Yes, Sears loves spending
time with his two nieces, the
second of whom was born
just before he flew to
Antarctica. Yes, the playlist
Kim made him for his
expedition featured Disney
songs from The Lion King
and — ha ha — Frozen —“and
1990s stuff we used to fight
about in the car. My mum put
Stormzy on, which I thought
was incredible.”
The resemblance to his
sister is evident when we
meet in the foyer of an
upmarket east London
cinema. One of his favourite
things to do, he says, is watch
films alone in the dark.
He is a cliché of
handsomeness and
well-brought-up politeness.
He is massive but slim — he
lost 10kg (22lb) in Antarctica
— and, shorn of his requisite
explorer’s beard, could easily
be younger than 27.
Other than a cut above his
right eye, he doesn’t look like
a man who arrived back from
one of the world’s most
inhospitable landscapes two
days earlier. He goes back to
the army this week: “They’ll
just take the piss out of me, as
they have done consistently.”
Despite the breeziness of
his daily blog posts from
Antarctica, tapped out by
numb thumbs on a
smartphone, it wasn’t all
plain sailing. His meal plan
was devised, he realised too
late, for a 5ft 10in man who
was 30kg lighter than him.
He survived one whiteout,
when he couldn’t see further
than the tips of his skis for
five days in row, by going on a
meandering 10-hour long
psychological fantasy about
eating in PizzaExpress.
There were no
breakdowns, no long, dark
nights of the soul — and not
just because it is never night
in Antarctica in December: “I
realised I’m very happy in my
own company. When I got
back to Union Glacier [before
flying home], everyone else
was together playing cards
for eight hours in a row. I was
in my tent by myself reading
[former SAS soldier and
author] Andy McNab’s
As with those people who
kayak across oceans or cycle
round the world: why put
yourself through it all? I
probe Sears for a profound
answer along the lines of
“because it’s there”, George
Mallory’s explanation for
climbing Everest in 1924.
Sears has raised £40,000
for the Gurkha Welfare Trust,
but “to say I did it for charity
is not true”, he admits. (He
won’t say how much the
expedition cost, but group
trips following in Sears’s ski
Scott Sears, brother-in-law
of Andy Murray, is the
youngest person to walk
solo to the South Pole
tracks are being advertised
for upwards of £50,000.) “I
wanted to cut the safety ties
and see if I could do
something by myself, to see if
I could be as resilient as I
thought I could be.”
While he took the Antarctic
environment and its risks
very seriously — he made use
of ground-penetrating
satellite imagery to avoid
crevasse fields — he was also
intent on not taking himself
too seriously: “I know I’m not
Scott or Shackleton. I didn’t
want to play that part.”
The Sears and Murray
families appear a good match
when it comes to modest, yet
unflinching, determination.
He is not the typical posh
boy with nothing better to do
who wanders off into the
wilderness and makes his
mother have kittens. He grew
up in Lewes, East Sussex. His
father is the professional
women’s tennis coach Nigel
Sears. His mother, Leonore,
water-skied for South Africa.
While sister Kim was
getting A*s in her GCSEs and
A-levels, Sears was not. He
left school at 15 to play tennis
full time, throwing rackets in
coaching sessions with his
dad, practising with his
future brother-in-law, but in
matches generally getting
“humped”. He nearly
qualified for the junior
doubles at Wimbledon once.
Next, a tennis scholarship
to the United States, “the
route every failed tennis
player takes”. Sears studied
international relations at
Boise State University, in
Idaho, where he interned in
the state office of the
Democratic Party. He did a
law conversion back in
Sussex. Sandhurst rejected
him 10 times (because of his
lack of A-levels) before
eventually relenting.
For the past 18 months he
has been on exercises with
the Gurkhas in the jungles
of Brunei, a climate that he
says leads to much more
distressing personal odours
than a shower-free month in
Antarctica. And if his mum
wasn’t worried enough by his
polar jaunt, he is flying out to
Afghanistan next January.
Success on the court
eventually came too: last year
he and his 5ft 4in Gurkha
doubles partner won the
intra-army summer tennis
While his toes may not
have fallen off and he may
not have gone doolally in a
snowstorm, there was one
modern-day hiccup. After
listening to the audiobook of
Hillary Clinton’s What
Happened, Sears wrote in his
blog: “There is the constant
risk of throwing myself in the
next crevasse as I am
reminded Donald Trump is
actually the president.”
The Trump trolls duly
pounced but it doesn’t seem
to have ruffled him. It is hard
to imagine what could.
Donate to the Gurkha
Welfare Trust at
Rob Cross with Leaf Arbuthnot: she eventually hit the board
Former electrician Rob ‘Voltage’ Cross
became world champion last week, a
year after turning pro. How will he fare
against Leaf ‘Low Wattage’ Arbuthnot?
hen Rob “Voltage”
Cross enters Flight
Club, a darts bar in
east London, his
gleaming head and
slight pot belly do not mark
him out from the crowd.
Then a lull falls as the
amateur players — nearly all
blokes swigging lager —
realise who has walked in.
Silently, they gather around
Cross to shake his hand in
solemn admiration.
Cross, 27, made darts
history last week by winning
his first world championship
less than 12 months after
taking up the sport
professionally. A former
electrician who used to
confine his darts playing to
the pub, Cross annihilated his
idol, the 16-time world
champion Phil “the Power”
Taylor, in the final.
A year ago, Cross was
watching the championship
at home on television. He
joked to his wife, Georgia,
that he’d like to win it himself
but never imagined his dream
would come true so soon. Still
reeling from his £400,000
victory, he has come to Flight
to teach me how to play.
I put my contact lenses in
before Cross arrives and hone
my technique by holding my
pen up like a dart. My brother
had a magnetic dartboard in
his bedroom growing up,
but we could never find the
darts and eventually it rusted.
How I rue that now.
Cross looks every inch the
darts king. Meaty and
massive, he exudes calm; as
we chat, his small eyes bore
into mine and I feel myself
breaking into a sweat.
Mental strength, he says, is
essential for darts, as are
drive and self-belief. “I don’t
like losing,” he adds. “And I’m
always thinking of ways I can
better myself.”
In his pub-playing days,
Cross would drink a couple of
beers as he practised. No
longer: he orders a Coke. He’s
even learning to eat more like
an athlete, telling me proudly
that he has started snacking
on apples and bananas (“I
never used to eat any fruit”).
I decide I’d better gather
some Dutch courage. The
other amateurs around me
have pints; I go for a
prosecco. Once I’ve mastered
the basics of the game
(basically, aim for the triple
20 or bull’s-eye), I take a
fortifying sip and square up
to the dartboard. It looks
dispiritingly far away.
Cross practises for two
hours twice a day at his home
in Hastings. If he’s throwing
well, he stops, preferring to
end on a high. If he’s
throwing badly, he continues
until he does better.
It sounds far more civilised
than getting up at 4.30am, as
he used to as an electrician.
Back then, he would regularly
pull six-day weeks to earn
money for his young family.
He and Georgia had the first
of their three children when
they were both 21. Since going
pro, however, Cross has
hardly been at home and was
250 miles away when his
youngest daughter,
Maddison, was born. He saw
her just three times in the
first eight weeks of her life.
“It was tough,” he says. Yet
having young children also
sharpens his game — in last
week’s championship,
spotting his son in the crowd
gave him “that little extra
thing that I needed to stay
What’s he going to blow his
£400,000 winnings on? “I’m
going to try and grab a little
holiday with the family.
Disneyland or something
along them lines — for the
kids, because it’s going to be
very busy this year.”
After lining my foot up
with the oche — the line on
the floor behind which
players must stand — I winch
my forearm back and fire.
The dart doesn’t land on the
triple 20. It doesn’t even land
on the board. Cross explains
soothingly that I need to
“follow through” more and
keep my arm straight. I
correct myself and aim again.
The dart misses the board a
second time. “Relax your
back leg,” he suggests. I let it
hang loose and shoot again.
Finally, the dart makes
contact with the board.
“Good,” he says kindly.
I fire the dart
but don’t hit
the triple 20.
I don’t even
hit the board
Cross fell in love with darts
as a teenager, when becoming
a pro was not seen as an
option. “I remember saying I
wanted to be a darts player
and people would look at me
like I was mad,” he says.
Last week’s world
championship marked the
end of a glittering 30-year
career for Taylor. I ask Cross,
who grew up watching “the
Power” on TV, how it feels to
have beaten his hero in
Taylor’s final match.
“I’m still on cloud nine,”
Cross grins. Yet given Taylor’s
imminent retirement, Cross
contained his glee when he
won. “I wanted to be as
ruthless as I could in the
match — but I didn’t really
want to shout at the end.”
Back at the oche, after a
few minutes’ training, I relax
into it. It’s fun. Watching
Cross show me how to throw
properly is mesmerising and
eventually I challenge him to
a match. Trying to fill myself
with the “self-belief” he has
told me is crucial, I jut out my
jaw and warn him he is about
to embarrass himself. He
laughs airily and thrashes me
in moments.
The Sunday Times January 7, 2018
Peter Preston in 1990. He was editor of The Guardian from 1975 to 1995, and a journalist to the end — he filed his last column for The Observer a week before he died. Above, with his wife, Jean, and their children, Ben, Kate, Alex and Rupert
The former editor of The Guardian, Peter
Preston, died a good death at home. It
was one last brave act, writes his son,
Sunday Times executive editor Ben Preston
always thought the only good death
was a quick one. Keeling over in the
kitchen or, preferably, simply going
to bed and never waking up. Anything must be better than a cancer
death: vital organs being eaten up;
the pain of your body’s random
collapse while wasting away to a
living cadaver.
I was wrong. My dad died last night, 10
years after melanoma first struck, 20
months after it returned and barely four
weeks since those clever doctors finally
shrugged and said there was nothing else
they could do for him.
Dad died a good death, one that amplified the qualities we so admired while he
lived. Resilience, bravery, wisdom — he
was loved and loving until the end. The
fulcrum of our family.
Dad died at home, retreating only in
his last hours to the bedroom he shared
with my mum for 48 years. Until then he
spent his days in a chair in the living
room. He watched westerns and too
much football. He soaked up and
returned the love from a Christmas procession of visitors — family and the dearest of friends — even though he snoozed
more and said less with each passing day.
It takes courage to decide to die at
home. Many don’t have the choice
because of their illness. Others, unsurprisingly, are too scared by the unknown,
or just swept along by the momentum of
medical practice.
Of course there are many people to
thank for allowing my dad a good death.
If my mum was daunted by the burden of
being appointed both chief mourner and
chief carer, she didn’t show it. Our family
rallied, the clan came together — my sisters from Manchester and Barcelona, my
brother from Dorset. There was lots of
chatter, not red eyes and wailing.
In a week when no one talks about the
NHS without adding the word “crisis”, we
all simply gave thanks. A flotilla of carers,
hospice workers, palliative nurses, assistants and doctors were our family’s
cornerstone for three long yet strangely
comforting weeks. They brought calm
and cheer with each daily visit, helping
Dad get up and go to bed.
NHS bureaucracy? Incompetence?
Inefficiency? A hospital bed, industrial
quantities of morphine, umpteen prescriptions, a hoist to lift my dad out of bed
and another to winch him into his armchair, all arrived promptly without fuss.
Telephone numbers for out-of-hours
help were freely given. Every call
answered, whenever and whatever.
But most of all, we have my dad to
thank for his good death. Dad wasn’t
scared of dying, even if he was surprised
at how quickly it came. Long ago, this
most temporal of men had explained
why. My dad recounted how, as a 10-yearold stricken by polio, which had killed his
father days before, he had found himself
floating up and away from his body. All
was peaceful and serene — until, to his
surprise, he started drifting down and
back into his body, entombed within an
iron lung.
Dad wasn’t scared of death then or
later — so how could the rest of us be?
Polio left dad with rickety limbs that
somehow he made work like a Heath
Robinson machine. It robbed him of
youthful sporting dreams, so he lived
He never told me
or my brother and
sisters what to do.
Instead he showed
us who we should
aspire to be
them instead through his four children
and eight grandchildren. Yet polio gave
him astonishing self-reliance and helped
him find his greatest talent: writing.
My dad was a journalist until the very
end. The Guardian, which he edited for
20 years, was the second love of his life
after Mum and family. There wasn’t time
for much else.
He filed what proved to be his last column for The Observer barely a week
before he died: 1,800 words were by then
easier to write — pecking, one-fingered at
the keyboard — than to speak. It wasn’t
supposed to be valedictory. But his plea
for his rough trade to forge anew some
semblance of public trust and “treat readers in a jam like human beings” was
exactly that. And within minutes of sending it, he started fretting about what he’d
write the next week.
Regrets? We have a few. This was a
good death, not a perfect one. My dad
wanted to tape some memories that
would otherwise be lost for ever. He
wanted to leave the sound of his voice
behind (not out of vanity but because,
since his mother died almost four
decades ago, he’d forgotten how she
spoke and didn’t want us to feel the
same). But he — we — broke the first rule
of hackery for the only time and missed
his deadline.
And I never had The Funeral Conversation. Twice I tried; twice he moved on.
That was Dad’s way. He never told me or
my brother and sisters what to do.
Instead, he showed us who we should
aspire to be. If only we could be so resilient, humane and wise — in life as well as
As a Sunday Times
reporter Philip
Jacobson, who has
died at 79, was often
in a tight spot but he
knew how to relax,
recalls Peter Pringle
month or so ago, I was
exchanging emails
across the Atlantic with
Philip Jacobson, my
foreign correspondent
comrade of half a century. It
called to mind the uplifting
banter that we once
produced in bars at points
east and west while working
for this newspaper (after
working hours, of course).
And then, shockingly, last
week he died, aged 79, felled
by encephalitis.
It was the kind of sudden
death he had avoided for so
many years covering armed
conflicts, and that made it
more devastating. Britain had
lost a courageous, skilful
reporter and I had lost a longtime friend.
Thankfully, I had saved
hundreds of those emails.
Lucky me, considering that
emailing was all that Philip,
“Jake of Putney and Realms
Beyond”, could manage with
modern communications.
So, my lasting image of him
is with the old Olivetti Lettera
22 portable typewriter
beloved of “foreign firemen”
in its blue plastic case,
clippings from the newspaper
library and a wallet full of
fivers to bribe telex
operators. He sent dispatches
from places that few people
in the 1970s had heard of, let
alone could place on a map.
As a workmate, he was
independent and often
stubborn, but with a strict
daily drill. His routine was
work like hell, file copy and
then find time for humour
and relaxation. To us, they
were glorious days.
He and I recently recalled
how an excellent opportunity
for the daily reward arose in
the 1980s when we found
ourselves in Bogota. Coming
from New York, I arrived first
and was in my hotel bed
Philip Jacobson in Israel
during the Yom Kippur War
in 1973. He was unflappable
in dangerous situations
when there was a knock on
the door. “Police, open up,”
the male voice shouted in
Spanish. It was Philip.
After filing our stories
about the Colombian
guerrilla movement M-19, we
had what we would later
celebrate as the world’s
longest lunch. The restaurant
was a modest affair as Philip
only ever ordered a cheese
omelette on the road, even
where delicious food
beckoned — in the Middle
East, for example. At first, I
thought it was because he
didn’t want to risk food
poisoning but, no, he really
liked cheese. At home, his
favourite snack was cheese
and Marmite.
The Bogota lunch started
at midday and ended at 8pm
as astonished waiters lined up
the empty wine bottles on the
sideboard. As Philip later told
the story, there were 13 in all.
In tight situations, he was
unflappable. In 1972 in Derry,
Northern Ireland, after
Bloody Sunday, we were in a
car travelling from the
Protestant Waterside, across
the River Foyle, into the no-go
area of the Republican
Bogside, when a young man
with his face covered by a
kerchief poked a revolver into
the open car window and
demanded our vehicle.
“Be my guest,” Philip,
always the gent, said wisely.
We handed over the keys, and
called The Sunday Times’s
London office to inform it the
Insight team in Derry had lost
another rental car. Insight’s
editor, John Barry, recalls it
was the third car the city’s
team had lost to hijackers.
Philip and I wrote a book
about Bloody Sunday and
were later called to give
evidence to the Saville
inquiry. We were put into a
hotel in the Protestant
Waterside, where we
assumed that the rooms had
been bugged. Philip’s
suggestion that we switch
hotels turned out to be
shrewd. Behind the scenes at
the inquiry, one of the
functionaries gave us a
dressing-down for changing
hotels. It had been very
inconvenient for the inquiry,
the official claimed.
Philip replied in his own
way. He won the British Press
Awards 2009 feature writer of
the year for revealing the
shocking lawyers’ fees and
expenses for the inquiry, and
never ceased writing about
Bloody Sunday’s injustices.
On Insight, Philip and I
joined forces on several home
inquiries designed to take
posers, fraudsters and
arrogant officials down a peg
or two. But Philip was rarely
as motivated as when he was
a war correspondent —
mostly in the Middle East.
And he was very good at it —
“stylish but unadorned, and
utterly reliable”, Barry
recalls. Harry Evans, who was
then editor of The Sunday
Times, last week called him
“doughty”, which is just
right. He was fit and strong,
and always on the lookout for
a colleague’s wellbeing.
He maintained a healthy
independence and a mocking
of elites, as well as of the
social whirl. In his final email
to me on November 20, he
was “lying on a bed of pain,
felled by a vicious ear
infection”, a forerunner, as it
turned out, of the
encephalitis. He had taken
another shot of antibiotics,
hadn’t had a drink for two
weeks and even turned away
his cheese and Marmite. Tina
Brown was being interviewed
on the radio about her book
on her days as editor of
Vanity Fair and mentioned
she was having a big launch
party the next day. It was the
first he had heard of it.
“But what is this in my mail
box?” he wrote. “A
personalised invitation to this
grand affair. For tomorrow . . .
barring a miraculous
recovery I won’t be up to it —
but at least I made the list.
PJ (prostrate).”
The Sunday Times January 7, 2018
Mark Malloch Brown is trying to
knit the Brexit refuseniks into a
single force. But will voters listen
to a former banker and UN
high-flyer, asks Rosie Kinchen
t is the start of the year and Lord
Malloch-Brown is the only man in
his central London office, a big bear
lumbering between the empty
banks of desks, bemoaning the
state of the world. As well he might,
since he has taken it upon himself
to restore sanity to it. The former
UN high-flyer and “recovering politician” is co-ordinating the Brexit
refuseniks — the disparate groups of dissenters who want to stop Britain leaving
the EU.
Already, in week one of 2018, one of
the rabble is playing up. Tony Blair has
published a blueprint to block Brexit and
given an interview once more urging the
Labour Party to take a firm anti-Brexit
stance. “My position on Tony Blair is
clear,” Malloch-Brown says. “I respect his
message and pretty much fully agree with
it, but I think he is the wrong person to
deliver it.”
Last year Malloch-Brown, 64, was
appointed chairman of Best for Britain,
the campaign group set up by the prominent remainer Gina Miller. He has spent
the past few months in discussion with
Open Britain, the political lobby group
backed by Lord (Peter) Mandelson, and
other smaller organisations invested in
stopping the Brexit process.
There is now an “emerging agreement” to work together on a “common
strategy” and “common fundraising”
with Malloch-Brown at the head. “We are
not quite ready for launch yet. We will
later in January announce our plans to
the world. I am giving you a bit of a
The objective is to “arrive at a point
where the government loses its ‘meaningful vote’ next October”, he explains.
“If we can achieve that, I think it will
trigger a process of either an election or a
referendum, or a change of government
without an election, or at least a change
of prime minister.”
In the meantime, Open Britain will
continue to lobby pliable MPs to support
a soft Brexit, while Malloch-Brown and
his team will have responsibility for the
“country-facing task” of attempting to
persuade people that they don’t really
want to leave after all. To “mobilise public opinion at large”, as he puts it.
There are a number of potential
problems with this, not least the current
lack of appetite for a second referendum.
“If it happened tomorrow, it would get a
very mixed reception and a lot of resistance,” he concedes. “My hope is that
the next nine months will be a steady
education for all of us on the real costs of
the course the government has
embarked on: the impact on healthcare,
jobs and every aspect of our lives and
If they weren’t
such respectable
Tories, I would ask
what they’ve been
His first priority is to address the damaging perception of the “remain” campaign as “a very successful elite whose
incomes had run away, despite their
responsibility in the eyes of many for the
financial crisis”. Which is exactly why
“wheeling out” Tony Blair “is not the way
to appeal to the kind of person who we
need to come on board”.
I can’t imagine that many Brexit voters
will feel that wheeling out MallochBrown is a great deal better. A former
political correspondent for The Economist, he was educated at Marlborough
College and Cambridge, before “fleeing”
to join the UN.
Now based in London and Hampshire,
he leads what he describes expansively as
“the plural portfolio life” with a host of
board positions and chairmanships. He
was in New York on the night of the
referendum, “giving an after-dinner
speech to a lot of my friends from different bits of the UN and NGOs, many of
whom had worked in British government
and were now in exile”.
The mood was one of “bewilderment”, he recalls. “When I stood to
speak, I made some joke about how Britain would be returning to the columns of
sane stable countries when Brexit was
over. By the time I’d sat down it seemed
we probably wouldn’t be.”
He is horrified by the result, though
not because he is a committed Europhile
— “The EU never lit my internal fires in
the same way the UN did. I’ve never been
a huge fan of Brussels” — but because
Brexit means a “disengagement with the
rest of the world”. In trading terms he
believes there is no equivalent. “I know
because I used to be the person to make
the trade visits to India and China,” he
says. “The idea that these markets can
race to the top of the table . . .”, he trails
off in despair. “If they weren’t such
respectable Tories, I would ask what
they’ve been smoking.”
The distress he feels is “as much for
one’s children and seeing it through
their eyes and the real limiting of their
opportunity that has come of this”. The
Malloch-Browns may be among the few
families in the country who are united on
the Brexit issue. His four grown-up
children have British and US citizenship
— thanks to his American wife, Trish —
and were devastated by the result.
The Lords, he says, is a “review and
revision” chamber; “we have a right to
send some of the worst aspects of the
bill back to the Commons. But I think
ultimately we have to defer to them.” This
leaves him with little choice but to make a
cautious re-entry into higher-profile
public life. He found his only taste of
office “very difficult”, he says. He was
coaxed back from New York to join
Gordon Brown’s government of all the
talents (Goats), installed in the Foreign
Office and given a brief that covered
“What I am about to say can be
misconstrued, but I had been the most
senior British official there had ever been
at the UN,” he says. Many colleagues
had returned to their countries and
“became president or whatever”. Malloch-Brown returned to London with a
certain pride as “a boy done good”,
but of course “my old colleagues in the
British media had no time for any such
self-conceit. So I was rapidly taken down
a peg or two.”
At the time he was accused of barter-
The EU never lit
my internal fires in
the same way the
UN did. I’ve never
been a huge fan
Lord Malloch-Brown admits that, even if a second referendum were held, the remainers would have to win decisively
ing his foreign policy expertise for a seat
in government, a grace-and-favour home
in Admiralty House and a peerage
(acquiring a hyphen along the way).
I suspect Westminster politics felt like
a very small pond after his years in the
upper echelons of the UN. His memoir
opens with an epic display of name-dropping, placing him in the same room as
Kofi Annan, Bob Geldof, Bono and Richard Curtis. “I actually found myself on a
plane with Bob Geldof shortly after the
book was published,” he recalls. “He
comes back to me and says, ‘I hear you’ve
published a f****** book. You haven’t
given it to me. Give me a copy.’” Geldof
gave him some CDs in return, “by way of a
trade swap”.
As well as his mediation skills,
Malloch-Brown has an address book that
has propelled him to the fore of the
remainer campaign. He has also held
positions as vice-president of the World
Bank and vice-chairman of George
Soros’s hedge fund. He names the usual
list of hedgies and businessmen (such as
Clive Cowdery and Stephen Peel) as supporters and says “we are starting with significant commitments from people”.
They also hope to use crowdfunding.
Malloch-Brown is a curious mix of selfawareness and self-delusion, held together by the best of intentions. Can he
really imagine that the Brexit-voting
public are going to respond well when a
globetrotting lord and his banker
friends show them the error of their
ways? “Well, maybe, this comes down to
the enforced modesty of the UN,” he
says, “but I don’t intend to be the sole or
even principal spokesperson of this.
I know that people like me should be
clear that we are holding the rein for a
new generation of leaders to come
He talks “fairly regularly” to David
Miliband, he says, but has pinned his
hopes on the recent intake of MPs. “The
mayor of London is a classic example of
someone who is not going to be content
with just being mayor of London and is
likely to come back into front-bench politics.” He also believes the “leadership
that Chuka Umunna is offering to a lot of
the parliamentary anti-Brexit forces is
relaunching him as a credible figure”. On
the Conservative side he suggests Tom
Tugendhat, MP for Tonbridge and Malling, as one to watch.
Even if this merry band of remainers
manage to secure a second referendum,
Malloch-Brown is realistic about the
challenge they face; “remain” wouldn’t
only need to win, but to win decisively. “If
you were [Emmanuel] Macron or
[Angela] Merkel, you’d be pretty dismayed to get a Britain back which this
time was 52-48 in favour of remaining,”
he says. “They have to believe that this
long battle within Britain is over.”
What if they lose? “Then we are
condemned to a period of political and
economic drift,” he sighs.
But Malloch-Brown is above all a passionate believer in democracy. “There is
no way of learning a country better than
being thrown headlong into their democratic process,” he says. I suspect many
Brexit voters agree.
The H&M billionaire Stefan Persson has
delighted his neighbours by giving them
faster broadband, but not all rural folk
welcome a visionary, says Roland White
here is hope at last for
those of us in rural
Britain who daily
struggle to breathe life
into our plodding
broadband connections. The
plan is this: we’ll ask Stefan
Persson if he’d care to move
in next door.
Persson, a billionaire who
owns the fashion chain H&M,
lives in the Wiltshire village of
Axford, where he too was
frustrated at the speed of his
internet connection. In parts
of the British countryside,
you’d be better off entrusting
your messages and shopping
to an asthmatic tortoise.
But you don’t become a
billionaire by sitting back and
accepting second best. On
hearing that BT wanted
villagers to raise £170,000 to
upgrade the connection
before 2021, Persson took
matters into his own hands.
He had a two-mile trench dug
across his 10,000-acre
country estate for the
necessary fibre-optic cables,
and Axford is now expected
to have superfast broadband
by the spring.
Wouldn’t it be nice if every
village could be supplied with
its own billionaire, perhaps
coming as a package with
fibre-optic cabling and a
subsidised bus service? The
people of Axford are said to
be delighted with Persson,
but it doesn’t always work out
happily when high-flyers
decide to transform their
surroundings to suit their
particular (expensive) tastes.
When I lived in Somerset, a
wealthy neighbour offered to
tarmac the rutted, potholed
track that led past our homes.
There was modest uproar.
“We like the ruts and the
potholes,” another neighbour
explained. “It feels more like
the country.”
What Stefan Persson is to
Axford, the millionaire artist
Damien Hirst has become to
the Devon seaside resort of
Ilfracombe. Hirst not only has
a home nearby, but he
opened a restaurant in the
town and in 2012 lent a 67ft
bronze statue of a pregnant
woman called Verity, in
anatomical cross-section and
wielding a sword, for
installation on the pier.
Like much of Hirst’s work,
Verity has divided opinion.
There was even more debate
when the artist announced
plans to expand Ilfracombe
by building 750 eco-friendly
homes on a 187-acre site.
Dubbed Hirst-on-Sea, the
plan was abandoned last year
after the artist reportedly
failed to find a developer who
could match his vision.
“Damien Hirst is like a lot
of celebrities,” noted a
district councillor when the
idea was announced. “They
chuck their money in and
then they think they can do
what they want. That’s what
happened with Verity and it’ll
be the same with the houses.”
One of the defining
characteristics of country life
is that people like things
pretty much as they are. We
are not interested in glamour
and polish, as epitomised by
the members’ club Soho
Farmhouse in Oxfordshire.
The Soho Farmhouse club,
near Chipping Norton,
Oxfordshire, smooths out
country life for Londoners
We are
of so-called
We turn a blind eye if our
neighbours’ homes are full of
dog hair and stray bits of hay.
If there is nothing in it for us,
we are suspicious of so-called
Change in rural areas must
be suggested with diplomacy
and tact (oh, and quietly —
we’re none too keen on noisy
builders either). Remember
how unpopular Lynda Snell
of The Archers made herself
when she arrived in
Ambridge from Sunningdale
with a lot of modern ideas? In
a BBC survey she was once
voted the show’s most
annoying character.
When the US-born
property developer Chad
Pike moved into the Wiltshire
village of Edington in 2009,
he was dynamism itself. He
set up a farm shop selling
fresh vegetables, he gave
money to the church organ
fund and turned the village
inn, the Lamb, into a thriving
gastropub, renamed the
Three Daggers.
Was Edington grateful?
Well, not entirely. “There’s a
money clash,” sniffed one
neighbour amid reports of
unrest in 2012. “There’s a
culture clash. And there’s a
lot of Nimbys like us.”
In the Buckinghamshire
village of Turville, where the
outdoor scenes in The Vicar
of Dibley were filmed, there
was opposition to the oil heir
Mark Getty’s plans to put up
a 600-seat opera house on
his 2,500-acre estate,
Wormsley Park, every
summer. He won, and the
building is now the home of
Garsington Opera.
A millionaire benefactor,
Gillian Goddard, was so
annoyed at opposition to a
modest scheme in the small
Devon seaside resort of
Bantham, where her family
has long owned much of the
land, that she cut the village
out of her will.
Goddard, who died in
2013, had planned to set up a
village trust fund but changed
her mind after protests
against a mobile cafe she and
her fellow estate directors
allowed to set up on the
So if you are a plutocrat
who is hoping to move into a
large pile in an attractive rural
location, how can you
improve life — faster
broadband, sustainable
power sources, opera houses,
Michelin-starred pubs —
without upsetting the
neighbours? You could do
worse than follow the
example of Michael Birch.
Birch, who founded the
social media website Bebo,
spent his childhood holidays
in Woolsery, north Devon,
where his family links go back
to the 1700s. Until 1961 his
family ran the village shop.
In 2016, shocked by the
way the village centre had
declined, he bought the pub,
the chip shop, the run-down
manor house, and one or two
homes in the area.
The chip shop is already
doing good business, the
manor house is being turned
into a boutique hotel, and the
pub, the Farmers Arms, is
expected to reopen later this
Crucially, it won’t be a
gastropub. Birch, who once
bought the interior of a
disused Kent inn to decorate
a club he owns in San
Francisco, likes traditional
pubs and wants to recreate
the Farmers Arms he knew as
a young regular.
And hasn’t that always
been the way for wealthy
people to win friends in the
countryside? If you must flash
your money about, do it in
the pub.
Ice breaker: a barge on the Ohio River, Pittsburgh, on New Year’s Day. A winter storm dumped a foot of snow on the eastern US last week
In a sensational development reported
on Wednesday by The Sun, somebody in
Britain has refused to take offence. More
remarkably, they have refused to take
offence at a joke by the Duke of
Edinburgh. Honestly, what is the
country coming to?
Alaster Ashby, 40, was watching a
royal walkabout at Sandringham with
his family on New Year’s Eve when the
duke spotted his beard and joked: “Is
that a terrorist?”
This was reported as yet another of
Prince Philip’s “gaffes”, but Ashby, a
builder, told The Sun: “I’m not insulted.
He was just having a laugh and trying to
be funny, but I suppose some people
don’t like that.”
The non-terrorist added: “Some
people were saying he had mistaken a
hipster for a terrorist, but I’m not a
hipster — I don’t know what one is. I live
in Norfolk.”
Henry Bolton has led the UK
Independence Party for just over three
months now, at a time when the
dominant political issue is, well, UK
independence. So how has he seized
the moment?
It’s true that nobody could accuse the
former soldier of being invisible, but he
is surely living proof that all publicity is
certainly not good publicity.
In that time, the newspapers have
shown real interest just twice. In
October, there was gleeful coverage of
his claim — during a tongue-in-cheek
interview on the Russian-owned
television station RT — that he could
strangle a badger with his bare hands.
Then, last week, he made the front page
of The Sun as the paper teasingly asked:
“Which party leader has ditched wife
for model?” Well, it was never going
to be Jeremy Corbyn, was it?
Mr Bolton, it was
revealed, has left his
wife, Tatiana, and is in
a relationship with a
25-year-old model,
actress and Ukip
member called Jo
There must have
been times in the past
few days when Mr
Bolton wished he had
stuck to his career as — so his LinkedIn
profile claims — “the top international
His victory in September, supported
by the former leader Nigel Farage, was
rather a surprise. He wasn’t well known
in the party, let alone the country. You
might even think him a rather unusual
recruit to Ukip. He certainly had
experience of standing for parliament,
against Philip Hammond in 2005, but as
a Liberal Democrat.
Born in Kenya, he grew up in
Berkshire and developed an early
interest in security issues. When he was
a teenager, he reportedly called the
White House from a phone box in
Thatcham and demanded to speak to
President Jimmy Carter about the US
missiles at nearby Greenham Common.
He joined the Royal Hussars, and
after leaving the army in 1990 joined the
Territorials, while also serving as a
Thames Valley police officer. According
to his entry on LinkedIn, his time with
the Territorials including a spell as a
“French commando”.
It was after leaving the police that he
began his career as a defence and
security expert. He advised the
Albanian government on the Kosovo
refugee crisis and served as a UN district
governor in Kosovo itself.
He was made an OBE in 2013 after
working for the foreign office
“stabilisation unit” in Afghanistan.
Speaking after he was made an OBE, his
mother said: “He has done things that
no one else in their right mind would
have done.” Does that now include
leading Ukip?
Take cover behind the sofa! It looks
like Manchester United’s Paul Pogba
is lining himself up to be the scariest
Doctor Who villain yet. The
midfielder posted a picture on
Instagram last week, posing in a
special “anti-ageing” mask that looks
like a cross between the Phantom of
the Opera and a Cyberman. The
Opera LED, which costs just under
£2,000 (plus VAT), claims to combat
the effect of sun damage, and boosts
vitamin D with “non-invasive” light
therapy. Other celebrity users
include the reality star Kourtney
Kardashian and the actress Kate
Hudson. Mr Pogba is a sprightly 24.
Who would Emily Brontë want to help
celebrate the 200th anniversary of her
birth this July? Certainly not the
supermodel Lily Cole, say traditionalists
in the Brontë Society, which maintains
the author’s home in West Yorkshire.
Lily, who has a double first from
Cambridge in history of art, will be
working on a project that examines
Wuthering Heights, but the critic Nick
Holland said last week: “The central
question should be, what would Emily
Brontë think if she found that the role of
chief ‘artist’ and organiser in her
celebratory year was a supermodel?”
Presumably she’d say: “What on earth
is a supermodel?”
Congratulations to the hotels heiress
Paris Hilton, who last week announced
her engagement to her boyfriend, Chris
Zylka. The actor and model apparently
popped the question in the ski resort
of Aspen, Colorado (where Paris, in
woolly hat and dark glasses, appeared to
be dressed as Ali G), and presented her
with a diamond
engagement ring
worth about
On the
upside, if he
rolls up with a
ring worth that
much she’s really
not going to say
no, is she? On the
downside, she
has now had to
hire security
guards to keep
watch on her
ring finger.
Life in Brief
Born: Kenya, March 2, 1963
Education: Kennet School,
Thatcham; Royal Military Academy,
Comedian, conceal thyself
Tuesday’s Sun revealed that Jack
Whitehall’s bare backside has gone into
semi-retirement, at the age of just 29.
“Comic Jack Whitehall has put a nudity
curb clause in his contracts as he is fed
up stripping on screen,” said the paper.
Whitehall complained that, especially
as a panellist on the sports-themed
comedy game show A League of Their
Own: “I’m always naked. There’s a lot of
my arse. I said, this series gone, if you
want to show my arse, I want you to send
official approval.”
He was even naked in the BBC1
adaptation of Decline and Fall, in which
he played teacher Paul Pennyfeather.
“I thought: comedy drama — finally, I
might keep my clothes on. First scene,
they’re down.”
Hair apparent
Here is a warning to young people
considering a career in journalism. You
dream of righting wrongs, fighting for
justice and perhaps of one day bringing
down governments with your
mighty pen of truth. And what
happens? You end up writing
about the armpit hair of
Madonna’s daughter.
“Madonna has never
been one to stick to
convention,” said the
Daily Mail on Tuesday.
“And it seems her
daughter Lourdes is
also unafraid to stand
out, flashing her
underarm hair in a
family photo.” The
picture of Madonna and
child, shared on
Instagram, has divided
fans, according to the
Please remember,
readers: brave reporters
monitor the celebrity
world’s underarm hair so that
you don’t have to.
Cheeky chap:
Jack Whitehall
Career: trooper and NCO, Royal
Hussars, 1979-1990; Thames
Valley police officer, 19922001; Lib Dem candidate in
Runnymede and Weybridge,
2005; head of OSCE Borders
Unit, 2006-2009; foreign
office adviser, Afghanistan,
2010-2013; awarded OBE for
services to international
security, 2013; elected leader of
Ukip, 2017
Personal life: separated from
Tatiana Smurova. They have two
children. Bolton also has a
daughter from a previous
Former Labour MP who led his first
industrial dispute as a choirboy
Eric Moonman, who has died aged 88,
served twice as a Labour MP,
representing Billericay from 1966-70
and Basildon from 1974-9. Constituency
matters were perhaps not his forte, and
at times he despaired of the unrealistic
expectations of those he represented. “I
have now ceased to be amazed,” he once
wrote, “at how little even apparently
well-educated people understand about
the power structure in our society.”
As a child chorister at his synagogue,
he once learnt that another singer was
being paid three times his rate of
sixpence a month. Moonman tried to
organise a strike but found he couldn’t
rely on solidarity from other singers.
Instead he quit. “It was my first
industrial dispute,” he said proudly. The
other singer was Frankie Vaughan.
The Times
Soldier and countryman who carried
the name of an Anglo-Saxon warrior
Major Sir Hereward Wake, 14th baronet,
who has died aged 101, was a soldier and
countryman who was awarded a Military
Cross in the North Africa campaign. He
was brought up in the belief that he was
descended from Hereward the Wake, the
leader of a resistance movement against
William the Conqueror. The family
produced some unusual characters over
the years. William, the 11th baronet,
purchased a human skeleton but was
unable to find the money to pay for it
and was clapped in a debtor’s jail. He
escaped by ordering a piano and then
sending it back, having first concealed
himself in the packing case.
The Daily Telegraph
The Sunday Times January 7, 2018
Jeremy Clarkson
Next up on It’s an Arty Knockout —
Chippenham’s forest of manhole covers
omeone has installed a gigantic
and rather elegant ladder on
Dartmoor. It’s not propped up
against anything; it just rises up
from the middle of nowhere
and heads off into the clouds.
Many have called it “the
Stairway to Heaven” and soon
local officials will remove it on the
grounds of health and safety.
They haven’t actually said that this
will happen but it will, because what if
someone were to climb the ladder and
then, when they got to the top — where
there’s nothing but sky — fell off?
Someone would have to be sued. Best,
then, to take it down and put it in a skip.
Previously, an enormous oak chair
lived for a while where the ladder stands
now. It was built by a local artist called
Henry Bruce but “Dartmoor chiefs”
(that’s what the regional newspaper calls
them) said it was too popular with
tourists and, because of the resultant
traffic problems, it must be taken away.
So it was, in a big removal lorry.
I wonder. Why has no one taken down
the 66ft winged figure that towers over
Gateshead? Or the naked men of iron
who stand knee-deep in sand on the
beach at Crosby on Merseyside? Or the
stencil sketches that adorn the sides of
various shops in Bristol?
Ah, well, that’s simple. All of these
things were created by renowned artists.
So they are fine. But the ladder and the
chair? They were both made by ordinary
people, presumably. This makes them
litter, so they must be taken away.
I think this is silly. I like the ladder.
Without it, Dartmoor is nothing more
than a wild expanse of mud and wind.
It’s fine if you are a horse, or an idiot in a
cagoule, or a convicted burglar, but for
ordinary, evolved human beings it needs
a focal point. Or else it’s just something
that must be driven past on your way to
Cornwall. A big blob of nothing that’s
holding back Tavistock.
So I say this to the Dartmoor chiefs:
put up a small notice on a nearby wall
saying they are not responsible if
someone is injured while climbing the
ladder — and then leave it be.
And then I have an even better idea
for the nation’s broadcasters. Let’s bring
back It’s a Knockout, but with a couple of
important changes*. Instead of getting a
paedophile commentator to laugh
hysterically while people dressed as
Smurfs fall into a paddling pool, make it
a gigantic nationwide art competition.
I think people are bored with
watching gym enthusiasts in the jungle,
or Boris Johnson’s relations being
normal. And we are definitely bored
with ducks that can skateboard, shop
assistants who think they can sing and
poorly children who can do magic tricks.
Soon we will even tire of people with two
left legs and a sequin jumpsuit, jiggling
about to an Abba track.
My new programme idea is still a
competition but it’s better than the
established powerhouses because each
week, two whole towns go head to head
in a battle to create the best municipal
art installation. And they will be
encouraged by the judges — Antony
Gormley, Jonathan Yeo, Keith Tyson and
Mr Banksy — to think big.
Think about it. Every town has a bit of
waste ground developers don’t want. As
often as not these days, that area is
known as “the centre”. It’s just a row of
charity shops and takeaways and it only
comes alive at night when it’s a blizzard
of chlamydia and vomit. So why not turn
it into a mile-long Henry Moore?
Sometimes it won’t be the centre. It’ll
be an abandoned factory, or a tower
block that’s deemed, post-Grenfell, to be
uninhabitable, or a park that’s used
mostly as a dog lavatory. Everywhere
People are bored
with watching gym
enthusiasts in the
jungle and ducks
that can skateboard
has something or somewhere that could
do with a makeover.
So a spot is identified by council chiefs
and local artists are consulted.
Everywhere has some of these too;
people who put up their watercolours
and their weird taxidermy in the town
tea shoppe in the hope that a customer
from the Royal National Institute of Blind
People will want to buy it.
These consultations will be filmed
because we’d all like to see the back
story; the prize-marrow-pony-clubsmall-town bitterness that’s bound to
surface when one artist is told that his
plans for painting all the telegraph poles
red is stupid and they’re going for a fullscale model of Bilbao’s Guggenheim.
This will require a lot of work but
that’s OK because in every town there’s
always a lot of busybodies who want to
be involved with “the community”. And
an even greater number who want to be
on television. The one I’d like involves
recreating that old Sony Bravia ad in
which gallons of paint is fired from a
council estate to create a blaze of colour.
Remember that? Well, imagine firing
foot-wide paint balls from a cannon at
the side of an eyesore. In minutes, it
wouldn’t be an eyesore any more.
Bristol could produce an installation
based around Concorde, Doncaster
could make a 600ft-tall bronze miner
and Chippenham could create a forest of
manhole covers in honour of its most
famous son, Jeremy Corbyn, whose
ideas for regenerating forgotten towns
are nowhere near as good as mine.
Surely there must be a town in Britain
somewhere with a company that could
recreate that wonderful fountain from
the lobby of the Burj Al Arab in Dubai
but on a massive scale. I’d far rather
watch someone attempting to do this
than a girl on a journey, from her
checkout till, past Simon Cowell and
back to the checkout till again.
And whereas she’d be forgotten in a
matter of moments, the fountain could
stand for a thousand years. A marvel
that puts the town that created it way
further up the art map than the next
pointless City of Culture. Coventry.
*To be very clear to all television
executives reading this: it’s my idea.
“This book’s terrible — I can’t colour it in”
“I’m drinking to forget it’s Dry January”
“To be fair, journey times are also up 50%”
“Let’s have a laugh and spike some vegan soup!”
Buy prints or signed copies of Nick Newman’s cartoons from our Print Gallery at
2°C f
5°C f
16 f
Los Angeles
23 f
23 sh
4 r
35 f
Mexico City
22 s
14 th
21 f
2 f
2 sl
13 f
25 f
3 f
New Delhi
21 s
17 sh
New Orleans
18 f
-9 s
New York
-8 s
3 c
-4 f
10 f
28 th
Buenos Aires
35 f
6 c
21 s
7 dr
0 f
Rio de Janeiro
28 sh
Cape Town
24 r
18 f
26 sh
San Francisco
15 f
9 r
35 s
-2 sn
2 f
24 s
28 f
6 f
29 th
8 f
0 f
9 f
40 s
22 s
Tel Aviv
19 s
1 s
16 f
Hong Kong
19 r
9 f
12 s
-5 sn
7 sh
29 f
35 s
20 f
La Paz
11 r
11 c
29 f
8 c
23 f
5 dr
13 s
Washington DC
-5 f
Key c=cloud, dr=drizzle, ds=dust storm, f=fair, fg=fog, g=gales, h=hail,
m=mist, r=rain, sh=showers, sl=sleet, sn=snow, s=sun, th=thunder, w=windy
¬ Cold and unsettled in Spain
and Portugal with outbreaks
of rain, sleet and the risk of
snow over high ground.
¬ Rather cloudy in Sicily and
Italy with the risk of isolated
showers in northern areas.
¬ Settled and dry conditions
across much of the Balkans,
Greece and Turkey with long
sunny spells and variable
amounts of cloud.
¬ Overcast across France and
Germany with some patchy
light rain in western France.
Dry in the Low Countries
with some brighter spells.
¬ In the Baltic states, Poland
and Ukraine there will be a
mixture of bright spells and
scattered wintry showers.
¬ An unsettled and cold day
across Scandinavia, with
strong westerly winds and
snow showers spreading
eastwards in the afternoon.
UK forecast
An area of high pressure centred over
Scotland will bring settled conditions
and a bright and sunny day to much of
the British Isles. It will feel cold with
temperatures staying below freezing
throughout the day across Scotland and
parts of northern England. Cloudy at
times along North Sea coasts. Feeling
cold in a moderate northeasterly wind in
the south, but light and variable winds
further north near the centre of the high
London, SE England
Cold and breezy with cloud at first
and brighter spells later. Moderate
northeasterly winds. Max 5C. Tonight,
cloud building. Min 2C
Midlands, E Anglia, E England
Early cloud will clear to leave a sunny
day. Feeling cold in light northeasterly
winds. Max 5C. Tonight, frosty. Min -2C
Channel Is, SW and
Cent S England, S Wales
After a cold and frosty start it will be a
sunny day. Light northeasterly winds.
Max 7C. Tonight, frosty. Min -3C
N Wales, NW England, Isle of Man
A cold day, but staying dry with long
sunny spells. Light northeasterly winds.
Max 3C. Tonight, hard frost. Min -3C
Cent N and NE England
Cold with some bright spells and
variable amounts of cloud. Light
northeasterly winds. Max 4C. Tonight,
hard frost. Min -4C
Cold with frost persisting through the
day. Light and variable winds. Max 6C.
Tonight, hard frost. Min -10C
N Ireland, Republic of Ireland
A dry day with long sunny spells. Light
and variable winds. Max 5C. Tonight,
clear and frosty. Min -5C
Warmest by day
St James Park
Greater London
(Sunday) 13.7C
Coldest by night
(Wednesday) -6.9C
Capel Curig
(Tuesday) 39.6mm
(Monday) 5.5hr
A cold and rather
cloudy day with
rain in the west.
Max 7C
Milder and more
unsettled with
scattered showers.
Max 10C
Scattered showers
in the south, drier
further north.
Max 8C
Dry and bright in
the east, rain in
western areas.
Max 8C
The superb constellation of Orion
climbs from the E horizon at nightfall to
stand in the S at 22:30 as Capella in
Auriga passes overhead. Jupiter rises in
the ESE at 03:30 and is approaching the
S by dawn. Mars, much fainter, is 0.6°
below-left of Jupiter tomorrow; both lie
below the Moon on Thursday. Mercury
hovers very low in the SE during the 90
minutes before sunrise. Alan Pickup
Isobel Lang
Another cold
and dry day with
sunny spells.
Max 7C
Temperatures down,
winds up, ice coming
Moon phase
Sun sets/
lights on
Unsettled with
a band of rain
spreading east.
Max 9C
Temperatures have
nosedived this weekend and
wintry conditions have taken
over from stormy weather.
Last week was lively. On
New Year’s Day we were
fortunate to be on the north
side of a depression that the
French Met Office named
Carmen, its third storm of the
season. She battered
northwest France with gusts
of more than 90mph. Here in
the UK the only evidence was
a veil of cloud with outbreaks
of showery rain in the south.
On Tuesday a front swept
rain and hill snow east across
the UK before Storm Eleanor
barged her way across
Ireland with gusts just shy
of 100mph in Co Mayo.
The storm track took
Eleanor across
southern Scotland and
northern England with
gusts of 76mph in
Sheffield. As the
storm cleared
around dawn, strong west
winds followed with large
waves and high tides
resulting in flooding.
This weekend has allowed
much colder weather to
spread over the UK. Today
will be fine thanks to high
pressure. A bitter northeast
wind will affect eastern and
southeast England but ease
over Scotland. Flurries of
snow may hit exposed coasts.
Tomorrow looks brightest
in the north, after a sharp
frost, with cloud likely to be
more widespread over
England and Wales where it
will still feel cold in the wind.
Drizzle or sleet is possible.
Expect a change as Atlantic
fronts try to make inroads
on Tuesday and
Wednesday, bringing
stronger winds across
the west and a mix of
rain and hill snow,
with the added threat
of ice.
Isobel Lang is a Sky
News forecaster
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The Sunday Times, newspaper
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