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The Sunday Times UK - 11 March 2018

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March 11, 2018 · Issue no 10,096 ·
£2.70 · only £2 to subscribers · Sunday Newspaper of the Year
Tories break May’s vow
to ban Russian donors
£1m fraud probe
after 15 claimed
over Grenfell flat
Ministers accuse PM of ‘limp’ response to poisoning scandal
Caroline Wheeler,
Andrew Gilligan, Tim Shipman
and Richard Kerbaj
Russian oligarchs and their associates have registered donations of
more than £820,000 to the Conservative Party since Theresa May
became prime minister, The Sunday Times can reveal.
May promised to distance her
party from Russian donors when
she took office, with allies briefing
that she would “sup with a long
spoon” and the prime minister
insisting there would not be a
“business as usual” relationship
with Moscow. However, the party
has declared donations worth
£826,100 from Russian-linked
supporters since July 2016.
Last night May was under pressure to return the cash over the
attempted nerve-agent murder of
the Russian former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury last Sunday.
Marina Litvinenko, the widow
of the former Russian dissident
Alexander, who was killed by the
Kremlin in London in 2006, said:
“These donations are not just from
the heart and for charitable reasons. They are all calculated.” She
said the Conservative Party should
put Britain’s national security
interests “first”.
Cabinet ministers have privately
accused the prime minister of
adopting a “limp” approach to the
assassination plot and being
“in denial” by refusing to point the
finger of blame at Moscow.
The prime minister shocked her
colleagues by silencing Boris Johnson in cabinet on Tuesday when
the foreign secretary said Russia
was responsible for the poisoning.
He and Gavin Williamson, the
defence secretary, are expected to
demand tough retaliation against
Putin’s cronies at a national security council meeting tomorrow.
It was reported last night that
Johnson and Amber Rudd, the
home secretary, are planning to
introduce a new law to target Russian officials mired in corruption
and human rights abuse, hitting
them with travel bans and asset
The Tories have received more
than £3m from Russian-linked
tycoons and their companies, as
well as from lobbyists for Moscow
since their return to government in
2010. One of the most controversial Russian donors paid the Tories
more in a year under May than in
six years under David Cameron.
Lubov Chernukhin, the wife of a
former Putin minister who gave
£160,000 to play tennis with Cameron, last month attended a Tory
fundraising event and bid £30,000
to have dinner with Williamson.
She handed the party at least
£253,950 in the year to September
2017, Electoral Commission figures
show. This compares with
£250,432 she donated between
2010 and Cameron’s resignation in
2016. A further £10,000 was ruled
impermissible because she was not
a British citizen at the time.
Chernukhin’s husband, Vladimir, was Putin’s deputy finance
minister and then chairman of a
state-controlled bank.
Another lobbying company
closely connected to the Conserva-
The Russian agent Anna Chapman, who was part of the 2010 spy swap that saw Sergei Skripal come
to Britain, poses in a picture she posted on Instagram yesterday. She branded Skripal a ‘traitor’
tive Party, New Century Media,
was paid by the Kremlin to promote a “positive image” of Russia
in the UK in 2013. New Century has
donated £143,000 to the Tories,
including more than £24,000 since
May became prime minister.
New Century Media also represents companies run by Gerard
Lopez, who handed £400,000 to
the Tories. The donation was given
in April 2016 but declared under
May’s premiership.
appeared in the Panama Papers,
which exposed ways in which the
rich can exploit secretive offshore
tax regimes, is chairman of the
board of Rise Capital, which lists as
partners Russian banks that are
under EU and US sanctions.
Alexander Temerko, a London-
based businessman born in
Ukraine when it was part of the
USSR, has given the Tories more
than £1m personally and through
his companies. This includes
£148,000 since May became prime
minister. Temerko, once a senior
figure in Russia’s defence industry,
rose to become a key lieutenant in
the Russian oil giant Yukos. He fled
Continued on page 4 →
Mother’s Day cards go gender-neutral
Andrew Gilligan
and Vincent Wood
Waitrose is selling gender-neutral
Mother’s Day cards as retailers
reduce their use of the M-word to
make today’s celebration more
“transgender inclusive”.
The supermarket chain is selling
a “Happy You Day” card in its
Mother’s Day range in which the
word “mother” does not appear.
Waitrose said the move was
aimed at “broadening out who
the cards can go to, whether it’s
grandmas or transgender mums”.
Traditional cards are still sold.
Waitrose has been joined by
other retailers, including Scribbler, whose Mother’s Day offerings
include a “Two mums are better
than one” card for same-sex couples and a “Dad, thanks for being
the most amazing mum” card.
The changes come after calls by
some trans activists to rename
Mother’s Day. Suggestions include
Guardian’s Day and Carer’s Day.
Karen Pollock, a trans campaigner and therapist, said Mothering Sunday, the church’s traditional name for Mother’s Day,
“feels more inclusive to me, since
anyone can be ‘mothering’ ”.
Some schools — including Consett Junior School in Co Durham
and High Bank School in Liversedge, West Yorkshire — have
advertised the festival on their
websites as Special Person’s Day or
Mother’s and Special Person’s Day.
For some the day signifies sadness, perhaps because their
mother has died. Liverpool Cathedral held a service last night for
such “Mother’s Day runaways”.
Editorial, page 22
Dipesh Gadher
Fraud investigators have been
called in after 15 members of the
same family received public aid
worth up to £1m and at least three
new homes by claiming they lived
in a single flat destroyed by the
Grenfell Tower fire.
One of Britain’s most notorious
“crash-for-cash” fraudsters, Masi
Naqshbandi, is among the relatives
rehoused in new properties,
including flats in a luxury development in Kensington, west London,
furnished by John Lewis.
The Naqshbandi family insist
their main residence before the
fire on June 14 last year was a threebedroom flat on the third floor of
Grenfell Tower. However, only four
names are believed to appear on
the original tenancy agreement.
Concerns among council officials grew when some of the relatives started listing the flat as their
address on official documentation
after the tragedy. Two days after
the fire, one couple registered
Grenfell Tower as the address on
their son’s birth certificate.
Under council rules, adults who
can prove they lived in the tower at
the time of the blaze are each
eligible for rehousing with their
families, with all rent and utility
bills waived until July 2019.
Before then, they are put up in
hotels and given a weekly allowance of up to £300 to cover costs
such as meals.
Inquiries by The Sunday Times
have revealed one Naqshbandi
family member and his partner
still appear on the electoral roll at
an address in Harrow, several
miles away.
The family denies any wrongdoing, and officials accept some of
the relatives have legitimately benefited from council assistance.
However, the surprisingly large
number of claimants involved in
the case has led Kensington and
Chelsea council to begin a fraud
investigation. It is understood that
some of the evidence collected has
been passed to police.
A source familiar with the case
described it as “outrageous”. Officials feel there are many bereaved
Grenfell survivors still living in
hotels and other emergency
accommodation who are more
deserving of help.
The Naqshbandis, originally
from Afghanistan, did not lose
any immediate family in the fire,
which killed 71 people, and
one person from their flat suffered
minor injuries. Three family members were in Australia at the time.
Those saying they lived in the
three-bedroom flat before the
blaze include a mother and father
and six adult children, at least
three of whom have partners and a
young child each.
An uncle from Afghanistan is
also receiving taxpayer-funded aid
from the council. He is said to have
registered his driving licence at the
flat only last month — eight months
after the fire. One of the siblings,
convicted of gang-related violence,
has been linked to an address in
south London.
Members of the Naqshbandi
family have been given at least
three new flats in a social housing
block set aside for Grenfell
survivors at Kensington Row, a
high-end development close to the
amenities of Kensington High
Street. One of the siblings,
Continued on page 2 →
meets the
Duke of
TV & Radio
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The Sunday Times March 11, 2018
In your Sunday
y Newspaper
per of th
the Year
Take Rod Liddle’s provocative
quiz to find out which side of the
ideological battle you’re on
Tracee Ellis Ross, the daughter
of superstar singer Diana Ross, is
taking on Hollywood patriarchy
The artist talks paint, parties,
post-menopausal solitude —
and why she has packed her
bags for Margate
How to update your wardrobe
with the new finishing touches,
from transparent bags to
cowboy boots and turbo trainers
British actor
IIdris Elba says playing his own
ffather in the sitcom In the Long
Run was “emotional”
Januszczak hails the
Tate’s Picasso 1932 exhibition
Kids driving you up the wall?
Embrace it, with the growing
trend for “climbing rooms”
Blaze a trail on
the old trade
route through the
mountains and
ancient cities of
Kyrgyzstan and
Self-cater with
our chic
selection —
all with spaces
this summer
As she prepares to move from
her Essex home, Germaine
Greer pens a letter to the next
owner about its rich history and
the wildlife she shared it with
If your paper is incomplete we will send you the missing
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email your details to:
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Magazine podcast:
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MAR 10
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Bonus 50
One ticket holder won last night’s Lotto
jackpot and will collect £7,988,062
4, 5, 10, 26, 36
Thunderball 10
EU casts gloom on
British economy . . .
. . . but chancellor Philip
Hammond declares
there is light at end of
the tunnel after eight
years of austerity
Tim Shipman Political Editor
The European Commission has delivered
a damning assessment of the British
economy, undermining attempts by the
chancellor to signal the end of austerity
this week.
Philip Hammond claimed last night
that the economy was “at a turning
point” and that, after eight years of belttightening, “I am confident that there is
light at the end of the tunnel” — a signal
that ministers are prepared to put more
money into public services.
But the EU’s annual assessment of the
British economy paints a different picture. A leaked copy of the paper seen by
The Sunday Times makes dire predictions for growth that are lower than those
provided by the independent Office for
Budget Responsibility (OBR), which help
to determine Treasury plans.
“Economic growth in the UK has
slowed markedly since the start of 2017,”
the report says. “GDP growth is expected
to remain subdued, slowing gradually
to 1.3% in 2018 and to 1.1% in 2019.”
The report blames “the squeeze on real
disposable incomes” and “stagnation of
labour productivity”. At the time of the
budget last November, the OBR predicted
growth of 1.4% this year and 1.3% in 2019.
The paper, to be published soon, also
makes grim reading on living standards.
While praising a buoyant jobs market, it
says wage growth is moderate, wealth
inequality is “high and rising” and household indebtedness remains high.
The leak will heighten tensions between Brussels and Westminster as Brexit
negotiations reach crunch point. It also
comes at an embarrassing time for the
government, days before Hammond is
due to give his spring budget statement.
Ten days ago it was revealed that
everyday government spending — not
A tax on chewing
gum will be on the
cards when Philip
Hammond announces
plans to slap levies on
plastics in the spring
statement this week. The
chancellor will launch
ng a
consultation proposing
levy on disposable
crisp packets
and takeaway
including capital investment — is now
balanced by tax receipts.
Hammond is expected to announce
this week that borrowing will be £10bn
lower this year than previously forecast,
though he will not make announcements
about tax and spending until the autumn
Last night he said the government’s
approach had meant “we can spend
more on public services instead of debt
interest, and enabled people to keep
more of what they earn”.
He added: “Thanks to the hard work of
the British people, we’re now at a turning
point. Over the last two quarters we have
seen the first signs that productivity
growth — the key to higher wages — may
be increasing and this year we are forecast to see the beginning of the first sustained fall in debt for a generation. It has
been a long road and there is still work to
be done, but I am confident that there is
light at the end of the tunnel.”
The shadow Treasury minister Clive
Lewis called the report a “damning
indictment” of eight years of Tory “failure”, however. “It further blows the lid
off on the failure of this government in
tackling the slide in living standards that
they have presided over . . . The spring
statement next week should be being
used by the chancellor to address many
of the failings this report highlights.”
Editorial, page 22
Harman eyes Speaker role amid bid to oust Bercow
Caroline Wheeler
and Tim Shipman
Harriet Harman is preparing
to launch a campaign to
become Speaker of the House
of Commons as John Bercow
faces a fresh bid to oust him.
The former Labour deputy
leader has told friends she is
“prepared to throw her hat
into the ring” after bullying
allegations were raised
against Bercow.
The BBC’s Newsnight
programme alleged last
week that Kate Emms, who
was Bercow’s private
secretary from May 2010 to
February 2011, developed
post-traumatic stress disorder
after working for him. The
Speaker denied the claims.
With allegations of
bullying by MPs sweeping
Westminster, however, the
Tory MP Andrew Bridgen
will table a motion of
no-confidence in the Speaker
James Duddridge, a Tory
MP who has previously called
for Bercow’s head, revealed
he is considering reporting
the Speaker to parliament’s
sleaze watchdog.
“I have had discussions
with a number of MPs about
whether we refer the Speaker
to the standards committee
for bringing the house into
disrepute and it is certainly
something I shall give
further thought to next
week,” he said.
He added: “It is wholly
unsuitable for him to be in
post while he is facing
bullying allegations so I urge
him to stand aside while the
claims are investigated.”
Until now, Labour MPs
have refused to join Tory
efforts to oust Bercow, but
Harman’s emergence as a
contender is a grave threat
to his position. She would be
the second female Speaker
after Betty Boothroyd.
Bridgen predicted that
female Labour MPs,
concerned about allegations
of bullying, would now back
the campaign to remove
Bercow: “I think he will find
that in politics, as with
spiders, the female is far
more deadly than the male
when there’s prey in sight.”
Labour MPs are
considering demanding an
urgent question into bullying
in parliament this week — a
move that would force
Bercow to rule on whether a
debate should go ahead that
would be likely to include
questions about his conduct.
Last night it emerged that a
senior minister had
witnessed Bercow launch a
foul-mouthed tirade against a
Commons clerk in the past
two months.
Two MPs said that when
Bercow was a backbencher
he became “incandescent
with rage” and ordered police
officers to smash down his
office door to retrieve the text
of a speech he had left in the
locked room. Bercow offered
to pay for the damage but
sources say he did not do so.
A Tory MP revealed that
one of Bercow’s former staff
approached them “begging”
for a job, on the grounds that
“she couldn’t stand working
for him any longer”. The MP
said the aide described
Bercow as “a vicious bully”.
A spokesman for Bercow
said: “The Speaker has no
intention of responding to
this outrageous caricature of
him nor commenting on and
hence violating the privacy
of those who have worked
with him.”
Additional reporting:
Kenza Bryan
Name Rt Hon Harriet
Harman MP
Age 67
Career Deputy leader of
the Labour Party 2007-15,
acting leader 2015
Nickname Hattie
Lineage The daughter of a
solicitor and a Harley Street
surgeon. Niece of Elizabeth
Pakenham, Countess of
Longford, cousin of
Lady Antonia Fraser
Education St Paul’s Girls’
School, west London,
and York University
Key quote “Male hierarchy
is a recipe for a culture in
which sexual harassment
can prevail”
Harriet Harman, top, and
Baroness Boothroyd
Name Baroness
Age 88
Career Speaker of the
House of Commons
Nickname Betty Boo
Lineage The child of
textile workers
from Dewsbury, West
Education Council
schools and the former
Dewsbury College of
Commerce & Art
Key quote “I was the first
woman to be Speaker. I
might also be the first to
wear my slippers in the
chamber of the House
of Lords!”
‘Crash-for-cash’ fraudster’s family
rehoused in Kensington flats
→ Continued from page 1
Masi Naqshbandi, 33, said on
Friday that he and his
partner, Mojda Habib, 30,
had recently been moved into
a new flat with their ninemonth-old son.
In August 2012,
Naqshbandi was jailed for
more than seven years for his
role in one of Britain’s biggest
accident insurance frauds. He
and his gang were found
guilty of staging 250 crashes
to make insurance claims
worth in excess of £6.5m.
Investigators said he used
the proceeds of the scam to
fund a lavish lifestyle,
including driving prestige
cars and staying at the sevenstar Burj Al Arab hotel in
Dubai. His sentence was
reduced to six years on
appeal and he is believed to
have been freed in 2015.
Last September he met
Prince William at the launch
of a support centre for
Grenfell survivors.
Naqshbandi insisted this
weekend that he and his
partner were living in
Grenfell Tower well before
the fire and that he had
documents to prove this. He
said some relatives slept in
the living room and shared
bedrooms, but admitted that
the entire family did not stay
in the flat at the same time.
When told that his name
and Habib’s name appear on
the electoral register dated
December 1, 2017, at his
in-laws’ address in Harrow,
Naqshbandi said it was an
address he gave for legal
reasons for “overnight stays”
and “day visits” from prison.
The Grenfell flat does,
however, appear on the birth
certificate of the couple’s son.
The child was born on May
25, 2017, at Chelsea and
Westminster Hospital, but
was only registered with the
local council on June 16, two
days after the fire.
Naqshbandi said he had no
other permanent address to
give. “We’ve got evidence that
we’ve been registered with
Kensington and Chelsea
council for 20 years when
[my family] first moved to this
country,” he said .
“They’ve moved us like a
football — east, west, north,
south and even to Coventry —
Masi Naqshbandi has a
crash-for-cash conviction
but they finally gave my
family this council house [in
Grenfell] in July 2016, by
which time all the children
were grown up.”
At least one relative
remains in a four-star hotel
near Regent’s Park — although
the booking is under Masi
Naqshbandi’s name.
Kensington and Chelsea
council said: “We have a
number of fraud
investigations under way and
we have handed a number of
cases to the police. We do not
discuss case specifics or
individual details as it may
impact investigations or any
subsequent prosecutions. We
have clear policies in place
for officers to follow when
they think fraud has taken
place and we will take action
— including evictions — where
The Metropolitan police
said: “We will investigate
anyone who we think is
fraudulently profiting from
the tragic fire at Grenfell
Additional reporting: Gabriel
Pogrund and Robin Henry
The Sunday Times March 11, 2018
Expelliarmus! Harry Potter caught
up in battle of Chelsea superboats
Daniel Radcliffe is among the investors in luxury houseboats that may displace residents from their Thames moorings
Oliver Shah City Editor
Flagship is not your average houseboat.
The swanky Dutch barge dwarfs the
smaller boats moored on the Thames in
Chelsea. Indeed, it would dwarf most
homes on dry land, as it has 3,400 sq ft of
internal floorspace.
But with landlubbers priced out of
Chelsea, the fight for luxury homes has
switched to the water. A fierce battle has
broken out between two high-end property developers and locals such as the
artist Damien Hirst’s former partner Maia
Norman and the Yo! Sushi restaurateur
Simon Woodroffe.
Backed by investors including the
Harry Potter actor Daniel Radcliffe,
Andrew Moffat, 44, and his wife
Charlotte, 45, plan to build and sell
luxury houseboats priced at up to £6m
each at Cadogan Pier and Chelsea Reach,
a short stroll from the fashionable King’s
Road and Sloane Square.
Flagship, which is on the market at
£2.5m through Knight Frank, is one of the
first “superboats” to be delivered.
The Moffats’ scheme has alarmed
houseboat owners at the two moorings,
who fear they will be forced out to make
room for the lucrative new arrivals.
Norman and Woodroffe are among 60
houseboat owners at Chelsea Reach who
launched a High Court action last year
against the couple.
But the Moffats’ plans have not just
made unwelcome waves on the Thames.
Neighbours in Cheyne Walk, one of the
smartest addresses in London, are also
furious, fearful that their views across the
river to Battersea Park and the Albert
Bridge will be ruined by “a parade of
colossal houseboats”.
This weekend the Moffats
were trying to evict at least
10 houseboat owners at
Chelsea Reach. Suzanne
Thomas, a former houseboat owner who is acting as
their spokeswoman, said:
“The people down there are
really frightened. The
stress levels and the misery
are extraordinary, as you
can imagine if you suddenly lost your home.”
Moffat, who spent 10
years in the City before
going into luxury development in and around
As it is Chelsea, there is a celebrity or
a highly successful person on every
corner. The former partner of the
artist Damien Hirst is one of the
houseboat owners, and Hirst is
named as a claimant in the High
Court case. While they enjoy life
on the river, landlubbing locals
who also object to the plans
include Fiona BarrattCampbell, the wife of the
former England defender Sol
Campbell; Sally Greene, the
Old Vic Theatre
impresario; and
Victoria Robey,
chairwoman of the
Daniel Radcliffe is one of the backers of a scheme to build luxury houseboats such as the £2.5m Flagship, above and top right
Houseboat owners fear being forced out
Liz Hurley quits US tour to be
at side of stabbed nephew
Liz Hurley with
nephew Miles,
who is being
treated in
Tom Harper
Home Affairs Correspondent
Elizabeth Hurley said
yesterday that her nephew
suffered a “brutal attack”
when he was “repeatedly
stabbed” in London last
The 52-year-old actress,
who is close to Miles Hurley,
21, a model, said it was an
“appalling time for him and
our family” after he was
stabbed in the back by a
group of youths outside an
estate near Battersea Park in
southwest London.
Hurley rushed back from
a promotional tour in
America to be at her
nephew’s bedside after he
and another 21-year-old man
who was with him became
the latest victims of Britain’s
knife crime epidemic.
In a statement the
Metropolitan police said it
was believed “a group of
males . . . got out of a vehicle
and assaulted them before
fleeing the scene”. The attack
took place shortly before
9pm on Thursday in Ascalon
Street, just behind the former
Battersea power station. It
was reported last night that
this was a “road rage”
incident and the victims did
not know their attackers.
This weekend the actress
has appealed for help in
catching those responsible
and praised the police and
medics who helped him.
In a tweet yesterday she
wrote: “My 21-year-old
nephew was repeatedly
stabbed in a brutal attack in
London on Thursday night.
The police & hospital are
being fantastic . . . It is an
appalling time for him & our
The two victims were
taken to a south London
hospital where their
conditions were described
as “not life-threatening or
life-changing”. Nobody has
been arrested.
In the past two months
there have been 16 fatal knife
attacks in London alone.
Miles was signed up by a
model agency aged 16 after a
scout spotted him working on
a stall at Camden Market,
north London.
On the day of the attack
last week, he had paid tribute
to his aunt in a post
celebrating International
Women’s Day.
Bloodbath Lodge: Game of Thrones
inspires fans to rename homes
Vincent Wood
There used to be a time
when people liked living in
homes with names such as
Rose Cottage, the Beeches
and the Old Rectory.
However, Game of
Thrones, the cult television
series based on the books by
George RR Martin, has
introduced a whole new
category — one linked to
power, murder and incest.
New research by Royal
Mail published today looked
at all the addresses in the UK
to work out the most popular
names. It reveals more than
800 households have ripped
up the signs outside their
homes — whether a number
or a name such as Woodlandss
or Hollybush — and replaced
them with names linked to
the popular programme.
More than 70m copies of
Martin’s A Song of Ice and
Fire series, the novels on
which Game of Thrones is
based, have been sold, and
the television show is the
world’s most illegally
downloaded drama.
Royal Mail found about
400 homes whose names are
related to the fantasy’s epic’s
glamorous House Tyrell
family and 250 linked to
House Stark, which includes
Sansa Stark, played by the
actress Sophie Turner.
Another 150 were linked to
House Frey, despite the clan’ss
Turner in
Game of
home being the setting for
one of the bloodthirsty tale’s
more notable massacres.
Steve Rooney, head of
address management at Royal
Mail, said many people hope
naming their home increases
its value. A large number also
think it “looks stylish”.
Meanwhile, JK Rowling’s
Harry Potter, who lived at 4
Privet Drive, Little Whinging,
Surrey, has not inspired as
many copycats. There is only
one Hogwarts, the name of
the boy wizard’s school,
found in Wiltshire.
There are, however, nearly
700 “castle” addresses in the
UK — more than double the
number of medieval
structures that actually exist.
Chelsea, insists “inaccurate information”
about his company’s plans has been circulated. He promises that he and his wife
will “engage with local people”. They
count as locals themselves as they live in
Cheyne Walk.
The couple bought the 143-year-old
Cadogan Pier in 2013, followed by
Chelsea Reach three years later. A fundraising document sent to prospective
investors in 2014 said they planned to
create a “new market” at Cadogan Pier
by selling seven superboats for £6m each,
“fitted out to the highest standards of
The Port of London Authority (PLA),
the public trust that oversees the
Thames, granted the Moffats a new 150year licence to run Cadogan Pier in 2016.
But what perplexes — and angers —
many residents is the deal the PLA agreed
with the Moffats. It did not charge an
upfront sum but asked for an annual rent
starting at £53,050 and 25% of all mooring fees. Just two months later the couple
asked the property agency Savills to
value the lease. The answer: £28.5m.
David Waddell, chairman of the
Cheyne Walk Trust, said the deal looked
“extremely odd”. He added: “It’s very
curious — and we are very unhappy — that
the PLA has given [Andrew Moffat] a
licence which, broadly speaking, entitles
him to do whatever he wants.”
Hirst: claimant
The PLA said the licence was granted
in accordance with the 1968 Port of
London Act, which contains no provision
for such licences to be tendered on the
open market. It said the amount charged
was based on a framework agreed with
the houseboat community in 2011. Moffat
said it was an extension of a licence Cadogan Pier already held from the PLA,
which had been due to expire.
This weekend a spokesman for Radcliffe declined to comment on the actor’s
Moffat insists any new boats will be
“characterful, well maintained and sensitive to the area”. Waddell and many
others have their doubts.
The Sunday Times March 11, 2018
Cabinet rebels tell
May to hurt Russia
I’m not a
hero, says
Jon Ungoed-Thomas
and Tim Shipman
Ministers are to demand asset freezes and the expulsion of spies
Tim Shipman Political Editor
Theresa May is facing a cabinet revolt
over the poisoning of Sergei Skripal, with
senior ministers demanding tough measures to punish Russia.
Ministers were amazed when May
banned a cabinet discussion of the poisoning last Tuesday, silencing Boris Johnson when he suggested the Kremlin was
responsible. Skripal, 66, a Russian
former double agent, and his daughter
Yulia, 33, were found slumped on a
bench in Salisbury on Sunday afternoon.
The prime minister faces an ambush at
a meeting of security ministers tomorrow. She will come under pressure to:
l Slap travel bans and asset freezes on
Kremlin bosses as part of a new law
l Expel Russian spies, with the head of
the GRU — Russian military intelligence —
in London at the top of the list
l Increase the number of armed forces
personnel deployed in eastern Europe.
Senior ministers have privately
bemoaned May’s lack of “leadership”,
accusing her of looking “weak” in the
face of aggression because she has failed
to make a public statement holding
Russia responsible. They are concerned
that May’s caution means she is repeating
her “limp” approach to the murder of
Alexander Litvinenko, poisoned in London in 2006. As home secretary from
2010 she sought to thwart a full inquiry
into his death.
Those pushing for a hard line include
Johnson, Gavin Williamson, the defence
secretary, and even Philip Hammond,
the chancellor, who has told ministers
Britain should make a “strong” response.
The home secretary, Amber Rudd, is also
“more hawkish” in private than her public statements suggest.
On Tuesday the cabinet focused on
industrial strategy. When Johnson said,
“Shouldn’t we be discussing what happened in Salisbury?” and suggested it was
the result of “Russian state activity”, May
told him to stop. One cabinet minister
said: “She absolutely cut Boris dead and
said we shouldn’t say something until
we’ve got the full facts of the case and
there is no doubt who is responsible.”
Another cabinet source not usually
sympathetic to the foreign secretary said:
The policer officer injured in
the nerve agent attack said
yesterday he was no hero but
“merely doing his job”. Nick
Bailey, 38, an officer with
Wiltshire police since 2002,
was one of the first
emergency responders after
the attack on Sergei Skripal
and his daughter, Yulia.
Bailey, a detective sergeant,
fell ill shortly afterwards.
Wiltshire police said: “He
does not consider himself a
‘hero’, he states he was
merely doing his job — a job
he loves and is immensely
proud of — just like all of his
other dedicated colleagues
do, day in, day out, in order
to protect the public and
keep people safe.”
After a meeting of the
government’s Cobra
emergency committee
“To everyone’s surprise the prime minister slapped him down and told him to
button it. This was a major incident.
There was denial of what we are confronted with.”
The affair was “pretty conclusive”,
the source added. “It is all pointing one
way. This is Russia. There is enough there
for the prime minister to be speaking
publicly about it. By Monday we need to
make that clear and spell out what happens next.”
Another minister said: “Nerve agents
don’t come off the shelf in Boots. We can’t
have people in the heart of England
threatened by silent assassins. We have to
take action and it has to hurt the people in
the shadows behind this violation of our
way of life. We have to act decisively.”
Last night it was reported that Johnson
and Rudd are planning to introduce a version of America’s so-called “Magnitsky
Act”, named after a Russian accountant
killed after blowing the whistle on corruption. The US law allows for visa bans
and asset freezes.
Intelligence chiefs do not want mass
expulsions of Russian spies because they
prefer to monitor known adversaries.
Tory whips believe the Russians have
tried to corrupt MPs with money problems. One “vulnerable” Tory recently
sought election to a select committee.
Tory MPs were privately urged not to support him because they feared he was too
close to foreign governments, including
Russia. The MP was not elected.
among the
first on the
Security tightened for ‘resettled’ spies
Richard Kerbaj and
Nicholas Hellen
Britain has tightened security
to protect “resettled” foreign
spies after alleged intelligence
failures over the attempted
assassination of Sergei Skripal
and his daughter Yulia.
The intelligence services,
MI5 and MI6, are understood
to have reviewed the risk to
spies and defectors from
“unconventional” threats
such as radiological and
chemical weapons after the
poisoning of Skripal and Yulia
with a nerve agent.
The intelligence
community has also pointed
the finger at Skripal’s former
employer — the GRU, Russia’s
military intelligence agency —
as being responsible for the
assassination attempt.
Whitehall officials told The
Sunday Times that MI5 and
MI6 had been damaged by
the poisonings, which raise
questions about their ability
to keep recruits alive. “But it’s
impossible to reduce risk to
zero,” a source said. One
official, however, said it was
unfair to accuse the security
services of failure because the
full facts were not yet known.
While the total number of
defectors and resettled spies
is unknown, there are at least
a dozen former Russian
agents and others from Iran
and Pakistan.
This weekend Vladimir
Bukovsky, a dissident forced
into exile in Britain in 1976,
said he had survived three
attempts on his life and no
longer feared Moscow: “I am
nearly dead anyway, so I
doubt the KGB [now the
Federal Security Service]
would waste its resources.”
Bukovsky, 75, said he was
in touch with “hundreds” of
dissidents and former agents.
A British source said that
protecting foreign spies also
depended on the way they
behaved. The fear was they
could not tolerate isolation,
would start communicating
with old comrades “and then
they’re back on the radar”.
Emergency services working at the grave of Sergei Skripal’s wife in Salisbury yesterday
Amber Rudd, the home
secretary, said more than 250
counter-terrorism police
were involved, pursuing 240
pieces of evidence from more
than 200 witnesses.
The Skripals were “critical
but stable” in hospital last
night while Bailey was
“serious but stable” and
“talking to his family”.
The detective, married
with two young children,
visited Skripal’s home in
Salisbury after the former spy
and his daughter were found
slumped on a city centre
bench. It is unclear where
Bailey was contaminated.
It was reported that
flowers at Skripal’s wife’s
grave in Salisbury were being
examined for possible
‘Kremlin TV’ faces Commons ban
after claims Skripals overdosed
Andrew Gilligan and
Caroline Wheeler
For almost a day, it covered
the poisoning of Sergei and
Yulia Skripal by suggesting
they might have overdosed
on recreational drugs.
Now the Kremlin’s
English-language TV channel,
RT, faces removal from
parliament after the leader
of the Commons, Andrea
Leadsom, told The Sunday
Times she would ask for a
review of whether it should
be screened at Westminster.
RT, formerly known as
Russia Today, says the British
media have “gone mad” in
the quest to find a “Russia
link [to the Skripal attack]
despite no evidence”.
The channel prides itself
on “reporting what the
mainstream media doesn’t”
and last week gave substantial
airtime to a claim that the
Skripals were potential
Row over
→ Continued from page 1
to the UK after being accused
of fraud. He has been a vocal
critic of Putin, but some
sources in western
intelligence agencies still view
him with suspicion. All the
donations were declared and
given legally and there is no
suggestion of wrongdoing by
the donors.
Tories and their companies
were also paid to represent
alleged Russian fraudsters
and organised criminals,
documents seen by The
Sunday Times show.
Andrey Pavlov, a Russian
lawyer accused of a massive
fraud, hired a London
consulting firm, GPW, to
prevent EU sanctions from
being imposed on him. In the
engagement letter for the job,
drug abusers who had fallen
ill after taking fentanyl, an
opioid “responsible for 60
deaths in the UK last year”.
A former MI5 officer, Annie
Machon, was interviewed to
lend credence to the story,
saying that “there seems to be
little motivation [for Russia]
to do anything against him.
This might just be some sort
of drug incident.”
Polly Boiko, a reporter for
the station, described the
prominence given in Britain
to the Skripal affair as
“remarkable” and said
“outraged commentators”
were “banging their fists on
Tom Tugendhat, chairman
of the Commons foreign
affairs committee, last week
called on Ofcom to review
RT’s broadcasting licence,
accusing it of being a
“hostile agent” carrying out
“information warfare”.
However, as Tugendhat
GPW promises to “draw on
the experience” of its
chairman, Andrew Fulton, a
former MI6 officer and
ex-chairman of the Scottish
Conservatives. Fulton said
last night he had “no
recollection” of working for
Another firm, CTF
Corporate and Financial
Communications, was hired
by Lord Goldsmith, a former
Labour attorney-general, to
help in the Pavlov case. The
company is linked to CTF
Partners, run by the Tory
election guru Sir Lynton
CTF Corporate said it had
no direct contact with Pavlov
and Crosby had no personal
involvement with the brief,
which was handled by former
Tory MP Adrian Flook.
Nia Griffith, Labour’s
shadow defence secretary,
said: “These revelations call
into question how seriously
Theresa May will be willing to
challenge Russia’s conduct
when her party is literally
being bankrolled by some
close allies of the Kremlin.”
admitted, some of his
Conservative colleagues have
appeared on the station.
Between August 2015 and
October 2017, at least 17 Tory
MPs made at least 54
appearances on RT. They
included David Davis, now
Brexit secretary, Andrew
Mitchell, the former
international development
secretary, and the rising stars
Kwasi Kwarteng and Johnny
In 2016 Daniel Kawczynski,
Tory MP for Shrewsbury and
Atcham, praised RT as “one
of my pet favourite channels.
I go on RT about, probably,
two or three times a month.”
Labour’s appearances on
RT were less frequent but
more senior, with key figures
in the shadow cabinet making
many appearances. Richard
Burgon, the shadow justice
secretary, appeared four
times. Barry Gardiner, the
shadow international trade
secretary, appeared three
times and John McDonnell,
the shadow chancellor, twice.
Alex Salmond, the former
Scottish first minister and
SNP leader, has been widely
criticised for presenting his
own show.
MPs including Tugendhat
have criticised the
Manchester United manager
José Mourinho for accepting
£1m from RT to act as a pundit
during the Russia World Cup.
Last night the Labour MP
Mark Tami, a member of the
Commons administration
committee, said the channels
available in parliament were
under review.
He said the review was
“likely” to consider whether
RT should be included.
Sources close to Leadsom
said she supported a review
of whether to keep RT,
though a parliamentary
spokesman said no formal
proposal had been received.
Putin gets a driving lesson from Tory donor Gerard Lopez
Separately, Andrew
Barrand, the former election
agent for the chancellor,
Philip Hammond, is a board
member and former
campaign chairman of the
Westminster-Russia Forum,
a strongly pro-Putin group.
Barrand now works for the
Tory MP Kevin Foster.
At a 2016 meeting of the
forum, Tory MP Daniel
Kawczynski said: “The time
has come for us to . . . take
on the anti-Russian hysteria
that is pervading our political
and media circles.”
More than 250 counterterrorism police are working
on the Skripal investigation.
The Conservative Party
said: “All donations are
properly and transparently
declared to the Electoral
Commission. We are
looking at tightening our
financial regimes to ensure
the profits of corruption
cannot flow from Russia
into the UK.”
The Sunday Times March 11, 2018
Hold on, why is Litvinenko’s ‘killer’ Fresh suspicion
over death of
urging me to eat the house special? whistleblower
Over lunch in his restaurant,
the chief suspect in the 2006
murder of the defector scoffs
at the idea Putin ordered last
week’s Salisbury attack
Tom Harper
Home Affairs Correspondent
Matthew Campbell
In front of me was a steaming plate of
“Rostov-style” sausages and potatoes. On
the other side of the table sat Andrei
Lugovoi, accused by Scotland Yard of
murdering a Russian defector with
poison in London more than a decade
Lugovoi had invited me to the traditional restaurant he owns in central Moscow, part of his burgeoning business
empire. With a sudden stab of unease,
I wondered why he hadn’t also ordered
the special.
“Tuck in, it’s very good,” he coaxed,
sipping water.
Life could not be better for this wiry
figure wearing a T-shirt etched with a
roaring red tiger. The chief suspect in the
2006 murder of Alexander Litvinenko, a
turncoat Russian intelligence officer, is
now a national celebrity and hero to
many as well as an elected MP.
He has escaped a trial in Britain and
was decorated by President Vladimir
Putin for “services to the nation”.
Last week, though, he digested news
of another suspected Russian assassination attempt on British soil with a mixture
of fascination and dread. “I said to my
wife, ‘Here we go, it’s starting again.’ Now
everyone’s calling me, making a comparison with me.”
Lugovoi, 52, emphatically denies any
involvement in the murder of Litvinenko,
who had defected to Britain and suffered
a horrible, drawn-out death after ingesting polonium-210 in a Mayfair hotel.
“It’s normal that you suspect us,” he
said of another possible Russian assassination attempt against Sergei Skripal and
his daughter.
For Lugovoi, the idea that Putin, the
Russian leader, had ordered Litvinenko’s
killing and one in Salisbury, where
Skripal was attacked with a nerve agent
last Sunday, was “crazy”.
Yet Russian involvement in Litvinenko’s murder has been scientifically
proven by the radioactive trail that he
and a fellow alleged conspirator left behind on plane seats, in hotel rooms and in
the bar where they met Litvinenko for
tea. A British inquiry concluded that
Putin must have approved the killing.
Alexander Litvinenko dying in hospital in London after being poisoned. A British inquiry said Vladimir Putin had probably approved the killing
Campbell meets
Andrei Lugovoi
in Moscow
Implausible as it may sound, however,
Lugovoi maintains he was stitched up by
British intelligence, which he says framed
him in a plot to discredit the Kremlin.
Whatever the truth, the plight of
Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, critically
ill in hospital, has attracted little sympathy among Russians.
Lugovoi, whose career has included a
stint presenting a television programme
about Russian “traitors”, insisted that he
was not celebrating the successful target-
ing of one more. “I’m not rubbing my
hands with glee,” he said. “I believe he
[Skripal] got what he deserved when he
was sentenced to prison in Russia for
selling secrets.”
He went on: “If we had to kill anyone,
[Oleg] Gordievsky was the one” — a reference to the KGB defector living in Britain.
“He was smuggled out of the country
by Britain and sentenced here to death in
absentia,” added Lugovoi, referring to
Gordievsky’s dramatic escape from
Russia in the boot of a British embassy car
in 1985.
Putin, who is expected to be re-elected
next Sunday to a further six years in
office, once famously warned that
Russian traitors would “kick the bucket”
wherever they fled.
But Lugovoi doubted that trying to
assassinate Skripal would serve the
country’s best interests.
“We’re not idiots,” he said. “If they say
we’re not going to the World Cup, is that
good for us?” But if Russia is not behind
the attack, who is?
In Lugovoi’s view the Ukrainians might
hope to profit by trying to blacken
Russia’s name.
“Or perhaps there was an element of
personal revenge,” he mused, referring
to those that Skripal may have betrayed
as a former military intelligence colonel.
With a faint smile playing about his
lips, Lugovoi, a former KGB bodyguard,
appears to be dancing around a truth he
will not, or cannot, reveal.
His thriving career and continuing
freedom are an affront to Litvinenko’s
widow and an example of Russia’s apparently growing contempt for the West. But
he makes no apologies.
“Russia is tired of being lectured to by
the West,” he said. “What bloody
business of yours is it how we run our
With a smile, a handshake and wave he
left for a business meeting. I felt more
confused than ever by his explanation of
events. But the dish of the day was
surprisingly good.
A second Russian who fled to
Britain following a battle with
the Kremlin may also have
been fatally poisoned with a
nerve agent.
Alexander Perepilichnyy, a
businessman who blew the
whistle on an alleged £150m
tax fraud by Russian officials,
may have been killed in a
brazen chemical attack in
Surrey in 2012, according to
one of Britain’s top military
It would prove
embarrassing for UK
authorities who have been
repeatedly accused of taking
a soft line on Russia, and who
maintained for years that
Perepilichnyy’s death was
“non-suspicious” in the face
of mounting evidence.
Following years of
pressure, the government
finally agreed to an inquest
last year. At one hearing, Dr
Paul Rice, chief medical
officer at the Defence Science
and Technology Laboratory,
said he “wouldn’t rule out”
the possibility that
Perepilichnyy had been
targeted with a nerve agent.
During a little-noticed
cross-examination last June,
Rice was forced to admit that
the “symptoms
[Perepilichnyy] exhibited,
although by no means
exclusively consistent with
nerve agent poisoning, was
certainly not inconsistent
with it”. He also conceded it
was a “possibility” the
“Russian state or agents of the
Russian state could have
access to organophosphate
nerve agents”.
He added: “I don’t think
you can, with 100% certainty,
eliminate poisoning as a
cause of death.”
Perepilichnyy, 44, who was
married and had two sons,
vomited a strange “greenyyellow” liquid as he collapsed
after a jog in St George’s Hill,
Surrey, in November 2012.
Paramedics observed the
businessman sweating
heavily and having difficulty
breathing, before falling into
a coma from which he never
Despite the unusual
secretions — and the sensitive
nature of Perepilichnyy’s
disclosures — Surrey police
soon declared the death
“non-suspicious” and ruled
out third-party involvement.
“It’s so obvious that it was
a hit,” said Chris Phillips,
former head of the UK’s
National Counter Terrorism
Security Office.
Elmira Medynska, a blonde
Ukrainian who stayed in a
Paris hotel with the Russian
businessman days before his
death, fears he may have
been murdered for blowing
the whistle.
“It happens to Russian
people in London,” she told
BuzzFeed, the digital media
company, last year. “He gave
Russian information to [the]
Swiss and you can be killed
for that.” She has never been
interviewed by Surrey police.
l Georgi
Markov, a
dissident, was
killed with a
poison-tipped umbrella
on Waterloo Bridge in
1978. He is thought to
have been targeted by
the KGB.
l Viktor Yushchenko, the
former Ukrainian
president, was poisoned
with dioxin in 2004 after
running against a proPutin candidate.
l Igor Ponomarev,
Russia’s ambassador to
the International Maritime
Organisation, died in
2006 before he was to
meet investigators over
links between Italian
politicians and the FSB,
successor to the KGB.
The Sunday Times March 11, 2018
Schools are warned to curb expulsions
Head teachers must stop
‘gaming the system’ by
excluding children who
do badly in exams, the
education secretary says
Caroline Wheeler and Sian Griffiths
Head teachers are to be warned not to
expel vulnerable pupils in an effort to
boost exam results, in a government
crackdown on exclusions by schools.
In an interview with The Sunday
Times, Damian Hinds, the education
secretary, said pupils should only be
expelled as a “last resort”. This week he
will announce a review of exclusions, to
be led by Edward Timpson, a former
children’s minister.
Schools have been accused of trying to
“game the system” by excluding youngsters who may bring down their performance in the league tables.
“I would like to see the number of
children who are excluded from school
coming down,” the education secretary
said. “Although exclusion rates are lower
than they were 10 years ago, they have
gone up in the last couple of years and it’s
really important we understand why.”
Hinds said there were big variations in
the use of permanent exclusions from
area to area and school to school, as well
as among groups of children. Children
with special educational needs are about
four times as likely to be permanently
excluded, and boys of black Caribbean
origin more than three times as likely as
other boys.
Those with autism are twice as likely to
be permanently excluded as other children. Research shows expelled youngsters are more likely to end up in trouble.
The review comes a month after The
Sunday Times launched its Missing
Schoolchildren campaign, focused on
thousands of children “missing” from
official records. In some cases parents
never enrolled them at school. In others,
records were not kept when they were
expelled or withdrawn to be home-educated or taught in unregistered schools.
Carrie Grant and husband David, a
presenter for BBC’s Songs of Praise, have
had to job-share for six months after their
daughter Imogen, 12, was asked to leave
two state schools.
They are so desperate that they are
drawing up plans to open their own
school for families in the same position.
Imogen, who is “clever and creative”
and is on the autistic spectrum, was
excluded after shutting a book in a
teacher’s face, then told she could come
in only if she could manage not to blurt
out in class for three days in a row. At the
second school she was taught on her
own, before her parents were told it was
not “the right school for her”.
David and Carrie Grant with their children, including Imogen, centre, in 2013
“She was excluded for behaviour she
can’t change,” said Carrie, of Southgate,
north London, a former voice coach on
the TV show Fame Academy and now a
reporter for The One Show.
“As a parent you imagine that you are
going to take your children to school in
the morning and pick them up in the
afternoon, and that’s the end of it. I don’t
think you ever imagine that they will be at
home pretty much all day.
“There are many parents homeschooling by default. Not because they
set out to or wanted to.”
Robert Halfon MP, Tory chairman of
the Commons education select committee, welcomed the Timpson review, but
said it did not go far enough. He called for
a bill of rights for parents to limit schools
from expelling children.
“I think there is something deeply
wrong in our country when virtually
every day a whole classroom of pupils, 35
plus children, is excluded. There seems
to be a Wild West of rules out there.
“I recently saw a parent whose child
had been excluded from school for having a fight with a boy who had been cyberbullying him for months. He was
excluded, the other boy was not. The
appeals panel recommended the boy be
returned. The school ignored the ruling.”
The number of fixed period exclusions
across state schools in England has
increased from 302,975 in 2014-15 to
339,360 in 2015-16 — a rise of 12%.
Heads heckle
minister over
‘tight’ funding
Head teachers at one of the most
moderate teaching unions heckled the
education secretary, Damian Hinds,
yesterday when he told them funding
for schools was “tight”, writes
Sian Griffiths.
At the Association of Schools and
College Leaders’ annual conference in
Birmingham, some shouted “answer
the question” when Hinds addressed a
query about whether there was
going to be more money for schools.
Others muttered discontentedly.
Geoff Barton, the general secretary,
urged the teachers to stop, saying: “If
the story today becomes about head
teachers shouting things out and
deputies and other people doing it,
then we lose the respect of teachers
and of parents.”
In his speech, Hinds unveiled a plan
to cut teacher workloads in an effort to
stop the flood leaving the profession.
But it is the lack of money that
concerns many head teachers. Some
have asked parents for donations for
basics such as books and pens; a few
have moved to a 4½-day week to try to
save cash.
Education unions say 18,000
schools face cuts by next year, while
the government says an extra £1.3bn is
going towards schools.
University sued by Bono’s charity
unhappy graduate admits abuse
An Anglia Ruskin graduate,
Pok Wong, 29, from Hong
Kong, is suing the university
in Cambridge for £60,000,
accusing it of “fraudulently”
claiming her business
degree would “help secure a
rewarding job with
prospects”. The university
vowed a “robust” defence.
The One Campaign, the
anti-poverty charity
co-founded by the U2 singer
Bono, has admitted
“institutional failure” after an
internal inquiry revealed
abuse and bullying by senior
figures in Johannesburg.
Ex-employees had tweeted
allegations of misconduct.
Labour takes aim
at campus fat cats
Labour plans to crack down
on university bosses who
award themselves “runaway
pay packages” as lecturers
enter the fourth week of a
strike over cuts to pensions,
shadow education secretary
Angela Rayner writes on The
Sunday Times website today.
Angela Rayner: plans to
curb university bosses’ pay
Party’s over: Cyprus resort to ban yobs
Ayia Napa is clamping down
on “low-quality youth
tourism” that “damages the
reputation” of the Cypriot
region. Mayor Yiannis
Karousos said “inappropriate
behaviour” was no longer
welcome in the resort town, a
popular location for stag and
hen parties from the UK.
Child hat-trick for
Welsh star Bale
Expecting: Bale with
fiancée Emma Rhys-Jones
Gareth Bale revealed
yesterday that his fiancée
and high school sweetheart
Emma Rhys-Jones is
expecting their third child.
The Wales and Real Madrid
footballer has two
daughters, Alba Violet, 5,
and Nava Valentina, 1.
‘Poo-shaming’ map cleans up village
Villagers in Cambridgeshire
have created an interactive
“poo-shaming” map to
control an epidemic of dog
fouling. Wimblington
residents can report findings
to the area’s social media
pages. Resident Amanda
Carlin said the village was
“much cleaner” after a week.
Neighbour is a
really bad egg
Boy, 15, held after
fatal stabbing
A 32-year-old man has been
handed a restraining order
after throwing eggs at his
neighbour’s car and house
on a near-daily basis over
nine months. Stephen
Harwood, from Marchwood,
Southampton, will also pay
£335 in fines and fees after
admitting harassment and
criminal damage.
Three men in their twenties
and a 15-year-old boy have
been arrested on suspicion
of murder after a man was
stabbed to death in the
street in Oldham on Friday.
It is believed the victim,
who has not been named,
was making his way home
after going to pray at a
Nazanin ‘cleared for
release months ago’
The husband of Nazanin
Zaghari-Ratcliffe, the British
woman jailed in Iran on
spying charges, is seeking a
meeting with the foreign
secretary, Boris Johnson, to
discuss claims that officials
in Tehran cleared his wife for
release “months ago”.
Richard Ratcliffe said: “I
would like to meet [the
foreign secretary] to ask,
‘What’s the blockage?’ ”
Richard Ratcliffe and wife
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe
The Sunday Times March 11, 2018
Charity worker
had affair with wife
of stricken veteran
A legal loophole is allowing a counsellor who had sex with the spouse
of a mentally ill ex-soldier once in his care to offer psychotherapy
Mark Hookham and Jonathan Leake
A charity worker who had an affair with
the wife of a mentally ill former soldier,
who had been in his care, was struck off
as a nurse. But a Sunday Times investigation reveals today that Gary Millhouse,
56, is still working as a counsellor, offering patients therapies and “psychological
interventions” for £30 an hour.
The case exposes a loophole that lets
counsellors found guilty of misconduct
continue to treat patients, sparking calls
for ministers to toughen up the law.
Millhouse resigned from Combat
Stress, a charity for military veterans,
and was struck off by the Nursing and
Midwifery Council (NMC) after an “inappropriate sexual relationship” with the
“vulnerable” wife of a veteran.
He asked the woman to stand naked in
front of a full-length mirror and look at
herself as part of what he claimed was a
cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)
session, according to an inquiry by the
“He said he was trying to make me feel
comfortable,” the woman said. “He asked
me to take off my clothes and look at
myself in the mirror. He then took his
clothes off so that he could look at
Millhouse met the woman because he
was part of a team of counsellors treating
her husband, a former serviceman who
was having mental health problems.
They began a sexual relationship in
October 2012, while her husband was
living away from home.
The NMC found that Millhouse bombarded her with an “excessive” number
of telephone calls and made audio
recordings of the pair’s “sexual activity”.
The woman, who reported Millhouse
to Combat Stress in June 2013, said he
threatened to put intimate pictures of her
online when she tried to end the relationship. She also said Millhouse claimed he
worked for the intelligence services and
that no one would believe her. During an
investigation by the charity, Millhouse
denied a sexual relationship with the
woman. He quit Combat Stress before
facing any disciplinary hearing and did
not submit any response to the NMC.
Striking him off for five years, a panel
of the NMC said: “Mr Millhouse abused
his position of trust. He identified a vulnerable person and manipulated that
person into having a sexual relationship,
under the pretence it was part of CBT.”
Four months after being struck off,
Millhouse posted pictures on Facebook
Millhouse: asked woman to take off
her clothes during a therapy session
of himself and his wife enjoying a holiday
in Spain. “Way hay! Temperature in the
mid-high 20s. Food and alcohol allinclusive. Life’s pretty damn good!” he
It emerged this weekend that Millhouse, who lives in Newport, Shropshire,
offers to treat patients through his practice, Newport Counselling Services. His
website offers therapies to help people
“take control of their lives” including
CBT, “behavioural family therapy” and
“narrative exposure therapy”. The website states: “You can be certain that the
counselling I offer is relevant to you and
with your best interest at heart.”
A reporter contacted Millhouse, claiming to be inquiring about counselling on
behalf of his wife, who the reporter
falsely claimed suffered a traumatic incident a couple of years ago.
Millhouse offered to conduct an
assessment and said there were a “number of routes available” including CBT
and eye movement desensitisation and
reprocessing, a form of psychotherapy.
The initial assessment would be free,
Millhouse said, and subsequent sessions
would cost £30 an hour. “I’m led very
much by what your wife would want to
do,” he said.
Despite having been struck off the
nursing register, Millhouse is allowed to
offer the therapies listed on his website
and is not obliged to register with any of
the professional associations that run
registers of accredited counsellors.
The Professional Standards Authority
recommends that the public “only
choose practitioners who belong to an
accredited register”. But it added: “Counselling is not a regulated profession or a
protected title in the UK . . . Anyone can
call themselves a counsellor.”
The government has spent years
deliberating over whether to impose new
rules on unregulated health and care
professions such as counselling. In 2014,
the Law Commission recommended the
introduction of “prohibition orders”
banning individuals from working in
such professions if they had put the
public “at risk of harm”.
Sue Freeth, chief executive of Combat
Stress, said the charity was “appalled and
shocked” that someone struck off by the
NMC “is still treating people”. She added:
“Combat Stress is a strong advocate that
all healthcare practitioners should have a
current and valid registration with an
appropriate professional body. Every
healthcare professional we employ has to
prove this status.”
When contacted by The Sunday
Times, Millhouse denied that he had
been struck off by the NMC or that he had
worked for Combat Stress. “I don’t know
what you’re talking about, or who you are
talking about,” he said.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will get married at Windsor Castle, a departure from the pomp of his brother’s wedding
Suit or regimental pride? Harry’s dilemma
Mark Hookham
and Roya Nikkhah
With two months until the
royal wedding, it is traditional
to speculate about the bride’s
outfit — and which designer
Meghan Markle will choose.
Royal officials, however,
are preoccupied with another
dilemma: what will the
groom wear? Military or
morning dress? And if
military — which uniform,
At the Duke of Cambridge’s
wedding in 2011, Prince Harry
was dressed in the uniform of
a captain in the Household
Cavalry’s Blues and Royals.
The “dismounted review
order” is navy blue with gold
wire shoulder cords,
ornamental gold braiding and
red and gold cuffs.
The prince, who served in
the army for a decade and
was twice deployed to
Afghanistan, has some
affection for his old regiment.
Military sources, however,
say it is regarded as “a bit
naff” in the social circles of
former guards and cavalry
officers to get married in their
Experts say Harry is more
likely to wear the uniform of
Captain General Royal
Marines — a role he was
handed by the Queen in
December. As ceremonial
head of the elite unit, Harry is
entitled to wear the uniform
and insignia equivalent to a
Field Marshal.
“If I was betting, I would
say he’d go for the marines,”
said Chris Parry, a retired rear
The Queen is likely to make
her view known. For her, the
Harry in morning dress at
Pippa Middleton’s wedding
striking red Irish Guards
uniform worn by the Duke of
Cambridge in 2011 was said to
be non-negotiable.
Alastair Bruce, a royal
commentator, expects Prince
Harry to opt for morning
dress, however.
Picking Windsor Castle as
the venue for the ceremony
on May 19 is a clear sign of a
departure from the military
pomp of the Duke of
Cambridge’s wedding, he
said. “I’ll buy a marzipan
hat and send you a picture
of me eating it if he turns out
in all the [military] clobber,”
he said.
As for the bride, yesterday
Ralph & Russo, whose
Mayfair salon overlooks the
gardens of Buckingham
Palace, was the latest fashion
house to be tipped. It
declined to comment.
The Sunday Times March 11, 2018
Sorry, Mr Bowles, the old banger’s
had it — and we at Porsche mean you
The actor is the West End’s
oldest leading man but the
sports car company said
that, at 81, he was too old to
be given a courtesy vehicle
Nicholas Hellen Social Affairs Editor
There are many advantages to being one
of Britain’s best-loved actors, but they do
not include being protected from ageist
treatment by companies that are sceptical about anybody over 80 years old.
At 81, Peter Bowles made a slice of West
End history as the curtain came down
last night on the stage version of the
classic horror film The Exorcist.
No living male actor is believed to have
been older when he played a starring role
in the West End. Yet the former To the
Manor Born favourite was still given short
shrift by Porsche.
His sports car needs a minor repair
and will be in the garage until Easter, but
the German manufacturer said he was
“too old” to be given a replacement
Porsche, or even a hire car.
Bowles, who became a household
name playing the nouveau riche tycoon
Richard DeVere in the late-1970s BBC sitcom, said Porsche had told him: “You’re
too old. After 80 we can’t insure you and
you won’t be able to hire a car either.”
He said he was “very irritated” by the
decision because he has no points on his
licence, his eyesight is perfect and he has
Bowles: recently told he had the blood
pressure of a man in his twenties
kept in superb physical shape with an
exercise regime that he has followed
since the age of 12 when he began the
Charles Atlas fitness programme.
Bowles has regular medicals for his
film and stage roles and was recently told
that he has the blood pressure of a man in
his twenties.
For Bowles, it is a case of life imitating
art, as he looks forward to the premiere
this week of Together, a film in which he
co-stars with Sylvia Syms.
It is based on the true story of a Tyneside couple forced to live apart by social
services after 70 years together. Ray
Lorrison, then 95, was moved to a care
home while his 88-year-old wife, Jessie,
was in hospital after a fall.
When she was discharged, he was told
that she did not meet the criteria to join
him in the home.
In an interview with The Sunday Times
Bowles told of his previous experiences
of unthinking ageism. When his mother,
Sarah Jane, had a stroke at the age of 82 he
feared hospital staff were prepared to let
her die for no better reason than to free
up a bed.
It was only when he demanded: “Is
there anything you can do?” that they
gave her an injection. She went on to live
until 94. “She was back in six months
playing darts in the pub,” he said.
He spoke of his anger that he once
found her lying naked in a mixed ward
with male patients looking on after she
had kicked off her bedclothes while
under the influence of medication.
“For the first time in my life I saw my
mother naked, which I did not want to
see. I cannot tell you the shock and I cannot tell you how angry I was,” he said.
He said that when his wife was recently
in hospital she reached for the arm of a
nurse to steady herself, only to be told
that it was against regulations.
Bowles and his wife, Susan, have taken
practical steps to ensure that they will not
end up in a care home. Once they are too
old to look after each other, a family
member will move in and funds have
been set aside to pay for a professional
Meanwhile, Porsche decided this
weekend not to leave Bowles stranded
and to give him a replacement car.
In a statement the company insisted it
had no upper limit on its insurance, and
that there had been a “genuine, human
clerical error”.
Peter Bowles in a Tales of the Unexpected episode on ITV in the late 1970s when he had become a household name
Dr No Can Do: Fleming family
defeated in £1m land row
James Brewster
It seems that even having
James Bond on your side does
not help you win a High Court
battle over a lucrative plot of
land in the Chilterns.
A legal wrangle over the
Oxfordshire country estate
where the author Ian Fleming
grew up — and where the plot
for the first Bond novel,
Casino Royale, was born —
ended in defeat for his
relatives last week.
The Fleming family have
owned the sprawling country
estate near the Oxfordshire
village of Nettlebed for more
than 100 years. The bitter
row between the family and
the local council centred on
about an acre of land,
donated by Fleming’s
grandfather, Robert, for a
primary school to be built.
Four of Robert Fleming’s
heirs — among them the
photographer Hugo RittsonThomas, known for his
portraits of the Queen — were
trying to claw back about
£1.25m from Oxfordshire
county council, which sold
the land to property
Ian Fleming circa 1960
developers 12 years ago to
fund a new school. At the
centre of the dispute was the
Fleming family’s claim that
ownership of the parcels of
land involved should have
“reverted” to them once the
council decided to move the
school to an adjacent site in
February 2006.
Judge Richard Spearman
was told that Robert Fleming,
a Scottish merchant banker
who built a worldwide
financial empire, had given
away the land in two lots in
1914 and 1928 for a school and
a playground and “for no
other purpose whatsoever”.
When a new community
school was completed
nearby, most of the donated
land was sold to property
developers, earning the
council an estimated £1.3m
which it claimed had helped
pay for the new school. The
original plot is home to 11
new-build houses.
Rittson-Thomas, his two
brothers, Michael and
Rupert, and a fourth family
member, argued that they
were entitled to more than
90% of the council’s profits
under the Reverter of Sites
Act 1987, which governs
ownership rights when
donated land is no longer
used “for particular
In a 21-page ruling issued
on Friday, Spearman ruled
that the closure of the old
school and the opening of the
new school should not be
seen as separate transactions.
He said the council was
entitled to “sell or exchange”
the original land “for the
purposes of a public
elementary school” — as
Fleming had originally
‘Worrying’ rise in patients
forced to pay for cancer drugs
Sarah-Kate Templeton
Health Editor
NHS trusts made £620m from
treating patients privately last
year, according to a report by
LaingBuisson, the healthcare
researchers, which will be
published this month.
The record sum comes as
charities warn that cancer
sufferers are being forced to
pay for drugs that can cost
£1,800-£4,000 a month
because they are not available
on the health service.
The report found that NHS
trusts that have focused on
developing private cancer
treatment enjoyed
particularly sharp rises in
income. One hospital,
Clatterbridge Cancer Centre
on the Wirral, increased its
private patient revenue by
50% in 2016-17 to £1.9m,
according to LaingBuisson.
The Royal Marsden NHS
Foundation Trust, a specialist
cancer hospital in London,
had the highest revenue from
private patients at £92m in
2016-17, a 10.5% increase from
the previous year.
Deborah Alsina, chief
executive of the charity
Bowel Cancer UK and Beating
Bowel Cancer, said: “We’re
increasingly hearing from
patients having to pay
privately for their treatment.
with many resorting to
Schofield: ‘privatisation is
creeping into the NHS’
crowdfunding or borrowing
money to fund treatments.”
Alysson Pollock, director
of the Institute of Health and
Society at Newcastle
University, said the report’s
findings “are worrying”.
Leeds Teaching Hospitals
NHS Foundation Trust had to
apologise to patients in
August after posting them
adverts for private treatment
in letters about NHS
appointments. One patient,
Ali Schofield, 34,who has
breast cancer, said: “It’s
incredibly sad that the NHS is
being degraded in such a way
that private care is being seen
as the only option. This
privatisation is creeping in.”
The trust said it “does not
actively encourage NHSeligible patients to choose
private healthcare although
we may make them aware of
options available.”
Greg Gilbert, 41 —
frontman of the band, Delays,
from Southampton — pays for
part of his treatment for
advanced bowel cancer, after
a crowdfunding appeal by his
fiancée, Stacey Heale, 38. She
said: “It left a nasty taste. This
can only happen because we
have this money and what
about all the people who
can’t pay?”
The University Hospital
Southampton NHS
Foundation Trust said:
“Patients have a choice to
elect for private treatment
and a small increase in
numbers of patients
requesting private treatment
may make a significant
increase to revenue.”
The Clatterbridge Cancer
Centre said: “Clatterbridge
private clinic provides
treatment for patients who
are private insurance holders
or wish to pay for all or part
of their treatment.”
The Sunday Times March 11, 2018
Councils refuse to hand over ashes
to families after pauper funerals
Town halls are accused of callously trying to deter the poor from seeking financial help when loved ones die
Gabriel Pogrund
Councils are refusing to give povertystricken families their loved ones’ ashes
in an apparent ploy to reduce demand for
paupers’ funerals, it can be revealed.
An undercover investigation by The
Sunday Times found that Glasgow city
council has told some of its poorest residents they could not keep relatives’ ashes
unless they paid for a private ceremony.
In a recorded conversation, an official
told a woman posing as a representative
of a dead man’s sister: “It’s us having to
pay for it, so, as I say, she will not get his
ashes back.”
Asked if the sister could scatter her
brother’s ashes at a special location, our
reporter was told: “I’m afraid not. No.”
The official stated the policy three
times, explaining that families had no
right to the ashes because the state was
paying and they would be disposed of in
the council-owned crematorium garden.
Some councils in London and elsewhere in Scotland are understood to
These councils spent the most
on paupers’ funerals in 2015-16
TOP 10
Number of
1 Birmingham
city council
376 £694,534
2 City of Edinburgh
247 £243,667
3 Bristol city council
136 £222,962
4 Leeds city council
5 Fife council
6 Perth & Kinross council 38
7 London borough
of Lewisham
8 London borough
of Bromley
9 Stockport Metropolitan 30
borough council
10 Coventry city council 46
Source: Royal London
impose similar restrictions. Glasgow city
council later denied this was its policy,
saying if staff had said ashes were withheld to discourage people from applying
for a public funeral, this was an error
“and we will discuss this with the team”.
Frank Field, the Labour MP who chairs
the Commons work and pensions committee, said the findings were “shocking”
and “would make most people sick to the
pit of their stomach”.
“The idea that because you are poor
you should have no tangible means
through which to remember and pay
your respects to a loved one is appalling.”
He is to table urgent parliamentary questions to Esther McVey, the work and pensions secretary.
Councils in the UK spend £4m a year
on nearly 4,000 burials or cremations for
those with no next of kin or whose family
are unable or unwilling to pay.
Known as public health funerals south
of the border and as national assistance
funerals in Scotland, they are compared
to the paupers’ funerals of the Victorian
era, with early-morning cremations and
bodies deposited in communal graves.
Their use has risen in recent years in
response to the growing cost of funerals
and the declining value of government
aid to the bereaved. The Department for
Work and Pensions has capped “social
fund” extra expenses for funerals at £700
since 2003. The scheme pays towards
coffins, flowers and funeral directors’
fees, but eligibility rules are strict and
those in work are often excluded. Since
2003 the average cost of a funeral has
risen from £1,920 to £4,078.
Research by the Citizens Advice Bureau in Stirling shows that 82% of paupers’
funerals in Scotland involve families who
are unable, or sometimes unwilling, to
pay, up from 44% a decade ago.
The Green MP Caroline Lucas has
branded ministers “cruel” for refusing to
increase the grant and for making it
difficult for families to claim money until
after the funeral. This means they are
forced to take out payday loans or go into
credit card debt. Last year, credit card
debt for funerals reached £200m.
Research by the insurer Royal London
shows that although some councils spend
generously on paupers’ funerals —
Birmingham tops the list, paying out an
average of £1,847 on 376 occasions in
2015-16 — others keep the annual cost to
three figures. Tamworth borough council
managed to spend just £200 on one
funeral. Broxbourne, Warrington, Chorley, East Staffordshire, Eastleigh and
South Lakeland also spent under £1,000.
If a council refuses a pauper’s funeral,
the body is held in a mortuary until the
family raises the money. If after weeks or
months the council concludes the family
is unable to pay, it then has a duty to
arrange a burial or cremation.
Speaking to the woman assisting The
Sunday Times, the officer from Glasgow
city council bereavement services said
the dead man’s sister could attend a
funeral at the municipal crematorium
“first thing in the morning” and stand for
a minute’s silence.
The officer admitted that the service
was not a “funeral per se”, adding:
“Unfortunately there’s no minister,
there’s no clergy and it’s very, very basic.
The lady will not get his ashes back.
“Glasgow city council’s the applicant,
so we’ll disperse the ashes in the garden
of remembrance. The family will only get
his ashes back if they can make the
Heather Kennedy, campaign manager
for Quaker Social Action’s Fair Funerals,
based in east London, said: “Councils
often play on the shame and grief of their
poorest residents to deny them the help
they need, but [keeping ashes] is one of
the worst tactics we’ve heard of. Funeral
poverty is becoming a national scandal.”
Glasgow city council said it was legally
responsible for “the remains of the
deceased” and sometimes a number of
people tried to claim the ashes “with no
reliable or legal way of determining who
should take precedence”.
“However, where this is clear, we can
and do pass remains into the care of family members.” It added: “The council is
currently creating a fund to support families struggling with funeral costs.”
It said the deceased were treated with
“the utmost dignity and respect” and
explained that provisions were made for
appropriate religious and cultural traditions to be observed
where the beliefs of
were known.
‘A rank, unwholesome, rotten
spot, where the very grass and
weeds seemed, in their frouzy
growth, to tell that they had
sprung from paupers’ bodies’
Charles Dickens, Nicholas Nicklebyy
Sacked doctor had
‘assassination list’
of fellow NHS staff
Vincent Wood
An NHS doctor is awaiting
sentencing after being found
guilty over a plan to use
sub-machineguns to kill
dozens of people involved in
him losing his job.
The High Court in Glasgow
heard Dr Martin Watt, 62, had
planned to gun down NHS
staff after his expulsion from
University Hospital
Monklands in Airdrie, where
he had worked for 18 years.
The judge was told the
former A&E consultant had
worked out a “template” for
his attack, based on the
thriller film Killer Elite.
Prosecutor Alex Prentice
QC said: “All this was done in
preparation for an awful
event. There was an intention
to endanger life, it was more
than mere thinking about it.”
Watt was dismissed by NHS
Lanarkshire after a failed
attempt to phase him back
into work after he suffered a
heart attack.
A search of a house he was
staying in uncovered two
pistols and three submachineguns — along with an
“assassination list” in an
envelope marked “bad guys”
that featured the names and
addresses of people involved
in his dismissal.
Watt admitted he had
“assessed how to assassinate”
people on the list, but said
that he had “no intention” of
following through.
On Friday, he was found
guilty of possessing firearms
with intent to endanger life.
Nameless babies in pile ’em high, sell ’em cheap grave
Gabriel Pogrund
If you want to attend a
pauper’s funeral, know this:
you’ll need to wake up early. I
arrived at the cemetery in
London at 8.30am. The
cheap burial slots are
available first thing in the
morning — even in death,
some are less equal than
I was the first there. A man
arrived in a car a few minutes
later before crunching up the
gravel path and putting his
hand on my shoulder.
“Good morning,” he said.
“Are you the father of one of
the babies?” My heart sank.
Today, the chaplain said, the
council was sending off more
than a dozen nameless babies
and children.
I assumed the real parents
were taking refuge in the
room of prayer. It was bitingly
cold and we still had a few
minutes to spare. Wrong.
There were no mourners.
The guestlist comprised a
chaplain, a funeral director,
two council staff members
and a journalist. We walked
to the “baby garden” in
The babies arrived in a
procession of cardboard
coffins. Each was the size of
a shoebox and could be held
in one hand.
The funeral director took
two boxes and passed them
to a colleague, who in turn
stacked them one on top of
the other in a mass grave.
The concrete-reinforced
pit already had bodies in it,
because with squeezed
council budgets there is no
choice. “Pile ’em high, sell
’em cheap,” is how one
funeral director described it.
A document stated the
names of some of the
children being buried. The
rest were identified only by
numerical code.
I once visited Auschwitz
with a survivor whose arm
bore a tattooed ID number.
Forget forced labour or
nudity. He said nothing was
more dehumanising than
being reduced to a number.
Though there were no
details about those being laid
to rest, paupers’ burials
involve a disproportionate
number of Muslim adults and
children, religious law stating
that adherents must be
buried rather than cremated.
However, once the bodies
had been stacked on top of
each other, the chaplain
started a one-size-fits-all
Christian service. “Earth to
earth, ashes to ashes, dust to
dust.” The group stood in
stone-cold silence, shame
hovering in the air.
In Oliver Twist, Charles
Dickens describes a
Victorian pauper’s funeral set
in 1837 in which “the
reverend gentleman, having
read as much of the burial
service as could be
compressed into four
A mass grave in a London cemetery. A metal lid is placed
over the top to allow more bodies to be added later
What a pirouette! Dancer races
back to replace injured star
David Jays and
Mary O’Connor
It is rarely good news when
you get a call from your boss
when you have just got home
from work.
For Matthew Ball, a first
soloist of the Royal Ballet, the
phone call led to what he has
called “one of the most
unusual and special
performances” of his career.
He was asked to rush back
to the Royal Opera House and
dance a key role in Giselle, a
part he had performed only
once before, after the
American star David Hallberg
injured himself during the
first act. It had been
Hallberg’s long-awaited
comeback, almost three years
after a devastating foot injury.
Matthew Ball as Albrecht: he had 10 minutes to warm up
Ball, 24, had been
rehearsing all day and had
just returned to his flat in
Clapham, southwest London,
where he was planning to “sit
down and put my feet
up”when the call came asking
him to get back in time to take
the part of Albrecht in Act II.
His initial response?
minutes gave his surplice to
the clerk, and walked away
The 2018 version cannot
have lasted much longer than
four minutes, but there was a
difference. In Dickens’s
account, a gravedigger fills
the grave with mud.
No such dignity was
afforded these dead. More
nameless bodies would join
them in days to come. And so,
despite a recent infestation of
Megaselia scalaris or “coffin
flies” — which devour a
“Probably denial,” he said —
but he got into a taxi. He had
“about 10 minutes” before
the curtain went up. He and
the Russian dancer, Natalia
Osipova, 31, rapidly made a
plan. “It was a bit like . . . ‘I
usually do this in this bit.
We’ll make it work’,” he said.
Asked how the audience
had reacted, he said: “There
were people who were
disappointed — but someone
in the audience, who I know,
let out a scream, which
changed the mood.”
After the performance,
Ball, who is from Liverpool,
said it felt “like a dream”.
“I ran to my dressing room
and called my mum, and said,
‘You won’t believe what’s just
happened,’” he said.
corpse’s flesh — a council
worker lugged a metal lid
loosely over the grave.
The driver and minister
walked away for the next part
of their day: the joint
cremation of a dozen
nameless souls. On their
arrival, the furnace worker
was relieved to learn there
would be no mourners today:
no need to suit up.
The coffins were placed
side by side in the large room
of prayer, which could have
sat hundreds but now housed
five people. The minister
moved towards the coffins
and whispered a prayer as the
group stood expressionless.
The living were easily
outnumbered by the dead.
We listened to a brief song
before the service ended and
we shuffled outside. A dozen
bodies, each granted the
equivalent of a 30-second
It is no judgment on the
staff, but this time there was
not even a flicker of emotion
nor an apologetic glance
before small talk began. No
one was looking. No one else
had decided to attend. Why
should they care?
Tonic for gin makers
as sales hit record
of 51m bottles
James Gillespie
Sales of gin, known as
“mother’s ruin” since the
18th century, have hit a
record high.
Gin enthusiasts bought a
total of 51m bottles — the
equivalent of a bottle for
every adult in the UK — last
year, according to the Wine
and Spirit Trade Association.
The volume purchased is
27% higher than it was in
2016, the equivalent of more
than 9.5m more bottles.
The boom in sales has been
helped by the growth in the
number of gin distilleries in
the UK. There are now 315,
twice the number that were
operating five years ago.
The growing number of
brands has in turn led to the
proliferation of bars selling
only gin, serving more than
100 British brands.
Miles Beale, chief
executive of the Wine and
Spirit Trade Association, said:
“We were amazed by the
growth of gin in 2016, but
2017 sales have surpassed all
records again.
“It is a delightful
combination of a quality
British product steeped in
history combined with
innovation by UK distillers
who are producing a huge
range of gins catering for the
consumers’ increasingly
sophisticated palates.”
The popularity of gin
has also helped the sale of
good-quality tonics to help
bring out the flavour.
The Sunday Times March 11, 2018
Leukaemia patients near
death ‘saved’ by edited genes
Two children are among
four people in remission
after artificial immune cells
were infused into their
blood in a trial treatment
Jonathan Leake Science Editor
Two children and two adults on the brink
of death from late-stage leukaemia are in
remission after infusions with genetically
engineered immune cells in medical
trials in London.
The “universal immune cells” had had
their DNA edited so they could recognise
leukaemia cells and destroy them, a task
that natural cells do badly.
Professor Waseem Qasim, an immunologist at Great Ormond Street Hospital,
who designed the artificial immune cells,
said: “In theory, these artificial immune
cells could be mass produced ready to
treat patients when they are diagnosed
with leukaemia.”
The trials followed the 2015 case of
Layla Richards, then aged one, who
was dying of acute lymphoblastic leukaemia when she was given a prototype
of the then untested treatment at the hospital. She has been in remission ever
Leukaemia is a cancer of the bone
marrow which disrupts production of the
white blood cells that fight off infection. It
is renowned for the speed with which it
develops, for targeting young people and
Each year about 10,000 people are
diagnosed with leukaemia and 5,000 die
from it.
The results, discussed at a
conference on gene editing at
the Royal Society last week,
have emerged from two separate trials. One was on children
aged up to 16, at Great Ormond
Street, and the other on
adults. Only a few
patients were involved
because the aim was
to assess how safe
the artificial cells
might be. Any main-
stream treatment remains some way off.
“Of the five patients in the children’s
trial, all went into remission,” said Qasim.
“One has since died from other complications while two more had their leukaemia
come back and also died, but two have
gone six months without disease.”
Professor Paul Veys, director of the
Great Ormond Street bone marrow transplant unit, who works with Qasim, said:
“As they were all close to death this is a
very encouraging result.”
The second trial, on adults, is at King’s
College Hospital, in south London, with
seven patients treated so far — all of them
“on the brink of death”, said Dr Reuben Benjamin, a consultant haematologist. Of the five that went into
remission, two remain clear, a third
has relapsed and the remaining two
have died of separate infections.
“This is a safety trial —
not a therapeutic one,
Layla Richards is in
remission after the
treatment, but was
not part of the trial
so we are very encouraged to get these
results so early on,” said Benjamin. “The
same approach could be applicable in
other blood and bone cancers such as
acute myeloid leukaemia, and myeloma
while, in America, a related therapy
licensed for treating certain types of leukaemia is coming to the market.”
The new treatment starts by extracting
immune cells from the blood of a healthy
donor. Such “T-cells” normally roam the
body, hunting and destroying viruses or
defective cells that might trigger disease.
The T-cells are then treated with molecules that splice a new gene into their
DNA — reprogramming them to hunt
leukaemia cells instead — and infused
into a patient’s blood. A second genetic
modification protects the T-cell from
being targeted by medications.
“Leukaemia in adults is a really nasty
disease, with about a 40% survival rate,”
said Benjamin. “This treatment is a
potential game changer. In the space of a
few years gene editing has given us a
possible treatment for all these diseases.
We need to be cautious but also hopeful.”
A Maltese is prepared for the judging ring at Crufts in Birmingham yesterday
Repentant eco-warrior
admits lookalike sheep
foiled bid to kidnap Dolly
Jonathan Leake
Environment Editor
Dolly the sheep, the world’s
first clone of an adult
mammal, was the target of a
kidnapping attempt by green
activists opposed to
genetically modified
organisms (GMOs), a leading
campaigner has revealed.
The plot was foiled only
because the raiders who
broke into Dolly’s shed at the
Roslin Institute near
Edinburgh found it so full of
sheep that Dolly was
impossible to single out.
The attempt to take Dolly
hostage is revealed in a new
book by Mark Lynas, who
once led the UK campaign
against “frankenfoods”, as
GM crops and livestock were
dubbed by critics.
In Seeds of Science: Why
We Got It So Wrong on GMOs,
Lynas reveals how he and his
co-conspirators found which
of Roslin’s sheds was Dolly’s
home. But when, after several
nights crouching in the cold,
they got into the shed, they
found it contained an entire
flock of genetically modified
sheep and cloned sheep —
with no way of telling which
was the famous one.
Lynas writes: “Cloned
sheep, pretty much by
definition, look even more
the same . . . The Roslin
scientists had outfoxed us by
hiding Dolly in plain sight.
Frustrated and shivering, we
crept back to Edinburgh
grumpy and empty-handed.”
Dolly, born in July 1996,
was cloned by Ian Wilmut
and Keith Campbell from a
cell taken from a sheep’s
mammary gland. The fact she
was cloned from an adult cell
suggested it might one day be
possible to clone many adult
animals — and humans.
Lynas’s book follows his
2013 decision to break with
his fellow activists and admit
his anti-GMO campaign was
wrong. “I apologise for
having spent several years
ripping up GM crops,” he said
that year. “I am also sorry
that I helped to start the antiGM movement. As an
environmentalist . . . who
believes that everyone in this
world has a right to a healthy
and nutritious diet of their
choosing, I could not have
chosen a more
counterproductive path.”
Dolly was cloned from a
mammary gland in 1996
Disability-car firm
backed by taxpayer
in £26m office refit
Jon Ungoed-Thomas
A company operating a
charitable scheme to provide
cars for the disabled spent
£26m fitting out its offices,
The Sunday Times can reveal.
Motability Operations —
largely funded by disability
benefit payments from the
Department for Work and
Pensions (DWP) — spent the
money on its offices in Bristol
and London from 2011-13.
The National Audit Office
(NAO), which is already
looking at the company after
it was criticised for amassing
reserves of £2.4bn and paying
boss Mike Betts up to £1.7m a
year, has now been urged to
examine its operations.
A three-year renovation
gave an 80,000 sq ft campus
for 500 employees in Bristol
the relaxed, affluent style of a
tech company. The 60,000
sq ft London base gained
soft-back chairs, stone vases
and chrome fittings. The two
offices have matching
boardrooms with art displays
and tables worth thousands
of pounds each.
There has been disquiet
internally at the sums spent.
“Is this really best value for
taxpayers and disabled
people?” a source asked.
Insiders say thousands of
pounds are spent by Betts
and his team on “away days”
and overnight stays. One
hotel used for the getaways is
the Pennyhill Park hotel, a
19th-century country house
and spa in Bagshot, Surrey.
Philip Davies, a Tory MP,
said the NAO should examine
the refurbishments. He said:
“I suppose when you’ve got
£2.4bn of reserves this type of
largesse comes quite easily.”
Taxpayers and disabled
people whose benefits fund
the scheme would be
“appalled”, he added.
The Motability charity was
founded in 1977. Motability
Operations was set up as a
company to run the scheme
and is owned by UK banks.
Anyone receiving a
disability allowance can use it
to pay for a Motability car.
The payments, of about £2bn
a year, are transferred from
the DWP to Motability
Operations. The company
tightened its rules in 2011
after some cars for the
disabled were used mainly by
friends and family.
The company said:
“Motability Operations is
Europe’s largest car-leasing
company. Since 2002 the
management team has cut
costs by almost 30% while
delivering over £1bn to
disabled drivers and their
families through subsidies
and charitable donations to
Motability (the Charity).”
It said it was proud that its
buildings now met “the
highest standards of access
and other facilities for
disabled people”.
The Sunday Times March 11, 2018
Gallery keeps
£217m quiet
Tartan fashion
began with ancient
Greek loincloth
James Gillespie and
Mark Macaskill
The museum regularly pleads for cash help to
buy paintings despite sitting on a huge pile
Richard Brooks Arts Editor
The National Gallery, which receives tens
of millions of pounds a year in taxpayer
funding, is sitting on hidden endowments and trusts worth more than
The vast sum makes it Britain’s richest
museum by far: the Royal Academy has
about £15m, while Tate Britain and Tate
Modern together have less than £30m.
Despite its enormous cash pile, the
National Gallery has repeatedly gone to
the government, the Art Fund charity
and the national lottery in recent years
for help in purchasing paintings.
The gallery, in London’s Trafalgar
Square, has a UK-based trust with assets
of £87m, according to its latest figures.
This fund, partly managed offshore by
BlackRock, the US investment giant, has
nearly doubled in size in five years.
The museum has a further $180m
(£130m) in an endowment, the American
Friends of the National Gallery, based in
New York.
This makes a total of £217m which, if
you were to spend it all in a year, would
give you a budget of nearly £600,000
every day, including weekends.
These huge sums are not included in
the National Gallery’s annual report and
accounts. They can be found only on the
websites of the UK and New York state
charity commissions.
The revelation comes after the
museum was involved in an acrimonious
dispute in 2015 with its gallery assistants
over privatisation and an initial refusal to
introduce the London living wage.
The artist Tracey Emin, 54, said she
was shocked by the gallery’s finances.
“Why would a gallery squirrel away so
much? It would never happen in the NHS
or education.”
The gallery also received a £20.4m
grant last year from the government,
which owns its 2,300 paintings on behalf
of the British public.
The National also makes money from
pay-to-see exhibitions, such as last year’s
Michelangelo & Sebastiano show, and
from its shop and restaurant. An exhibition of 75 paintings by Monet, costing up
to £22 a ticket, begins next month.
Critics argue that the gallery should
use its own funds more to buy paintings.
The Labour MP Dame Margaret
Hodge, who has been a culture minister
and chaired the Commons public
accounts committee, said she was
“amazed” by the gallery’s wealth.
“This is not a case of good husbandry.
These reserves are much higher than
other arts organisations. I would also like
to see more transparency,” she said.
In 2016 the museum tried to buy
Pontormo’s Portrait of a Young Man in a
Red Cap. It had been on loan to the
gallery but its owner decided to sell it.
An American banker bid £30m for the
16th-century work, which the National
Gallery managed to match — but only by
taking £19m from the Treasury and other
money from the Art Fund and Heritage
Lottery Fund. The museum itself contributed a total of £4.6m.
The National Gallery pointed out that
its trust and American Friends are independent and legal charitable entities,
whose accounts are published and made
publicly accessible.
It added that over the years they have
helped to buy paintings such as Titian’s
Diana and Actaeon, Raphael’s Madonna
of the Pinks, and other works by the likes
of Caravaggio, Holbein and Poussin,
although public funding had also been
Tracey Emin interview, Magazine,
pages 8-11
Edie Campbell, left,
and Gigi Hadid,
right, model tartan
for Versace, while
Rita Ora, centre, is
in House of Holland
Tartan has suffered through
its unfortunate association
with Rod Stewart and Donald
Trump, but one of Scotland’s
finest exports is fighting back
on the catwalk.
Designers such as
Balenciaga, Miu Miu,
Astrid Andersen and
Prabal Gurung are
among those who have
embraced the famous
check, which for many
young Scots forced to
wear a kilt at Granny’s 80th
birthday party remains
resolutely unfashionable.
The pattern associated
with the clan of
Trump’s Scottish
mother, Mary
Anne MacLeod,
known as “loud
MacLeod” for its
brash yellow
and black
colours, has
been used on a
Balenciaga skirt
in an advertising
The Danish
designer Andersen
included tartan for
the first time in her
2018 line-up, citing
“quality and
provenance” for
the choice.
Gurung chose
tartan patterns
on micro skirts
and Miu Miu used
it on dresses.
The Duchess of
Cambridge wore a
£2,665 tartan coat
by Miu Miu at
Sandringham at
Christmas for
the royal
family’s trip
to church.
But if the
believe they are paying
homage to Scotland, the
traditional home of tartan,
they are in for a shock.
A new discovery suggests
that it may not have
originated among Celts at all
— but among the Greeks.
An ancient civilisation that
thrived in what is now
modern Greece appears to
have been weaving plaid-like
designs almost 3,500 years
ago, according to a recent
archaeological find.
Brian Wilton, former
director of the Scottish
Tartans Authority, is
convinced that tartan
emerged as early as 1,440BC
after the discovery of a
Bronze Age warrior’s tomb
outside the ancient Greek city
of Pylos, near Crete.
Archaeologists unearthed
an intricately engraved,
thumb-sized sealstone — used
for stamping wax seals — in
2015 that depicted a hand-tohand battle between three
warriors. Wilton was struck
by the tartan-like design of
the warriors’ loincloths
“Not being versed — or
indeed necessarily interested
— in the comparatively boring
history of tartan, none of the
specialist researchers
attached any significance to
the warriors’ ‘loincloths’,
which, in the detailed
drawing, clearly showed
tartan,” said Wilton.
“This is manna from
heaven and so my tartan
timeline has been pushed
back to a definite 1,440BC of
the Pylos tomb.
“Quite possibly, tartan was
well established prior to our
warrior’s gory victory.”
So when tartan began
appearing on the catwalks
again recently, it was really
just the latest stage in a very
long journey.
It just goes to show that
everything is fashionable — if
you wait long enough for the
trends to come round again.
The Sunday Times March 11, 2018
Tough Millwall cave in
to transgender ‘bullies’
The famously hard-edged
football club has cancelled a
feminists’ meeting as claims
spread of intimidation by
transgender lobbyists
Andrew Gilligan
They are renowned as English football’s
toughest club, their shirts proclaim they
“fear no foe” and their fans chant: “No
one likes us, we don’t care.” But even
Millwall have given way in a drive by
transgender activists to “bully and
silence” their critics.
Feminists who hired the club’s conference suite for a meeting last week about
“how concerns raised by women are
being shut down through threats, harassment and accusations of transphobia”
say Millwall cancelled the booking after
pressure from transgender lobbyists.
The event was to protest against
potential legal changes allowing people
born male to “self-identify” as women.
Feminists say the move threatens
women’s spaces and rights.
Venice Allan, the meeting’s organiser,
said: “I got a call from the club saying
they’d never seen anything like it — constant phone calls, emails, tweets. They
were really spooked. It wasn’t exactly ‘No
one likes us, we don’t care’.”
A Millwall spokesman said the event
“was cancelled mutually with the organisers. We were pulled into a drama that
we didn’t really feel we should be part of.”
The cancellation came as it emerged
Therapy Today, the official journal of the
British Association for Counselling and
Psychotherapy (BACP), has been bombarded with protests by trans activists
after publishing a letter saying some
young people were identifying as trans
through “youth culture” and “social contagion” and being encouraged to “medically alter their bodies” even though they
might later change their minds.
More than 500 people signed a statement attacking the letter as “transphobic” and saying that “affirmation of a
child’s . . . gender identity is non-negotiable”. The statement added: “This is not a
free speech issue. Therapy Today is not a
tabloid newspaper or TV talk show.”
Within days the editor, Catherine Jackson, published an apology for the “serious error of judgment on my part”.
The letter’s author, Stephanie Davies-
Arai, of Transgender Trend, an organisation questioning the diagnosis and treatment of children as transgender, said:
“Things are in a bad way when even a
letter in what is supposed to be a forum
for debate can be suppressed,” she said.
“Attempts to bully and silence are revealing only of the fact that this new dogma
cannot withstand scrutiny.”
BACP said it had apologised “because
the letter was not compatible with our
responsibilities as a signatory of the
memorandum of understanding on
conversion therapy”, a document that
treats anything other than affirming a
child’s transgender identification as akin
to controversial “gay cure” therapies.
Meanwhile, a woman who criticised a
transgender charity on Twitter has been
questioned under caution by police and
told she will be arrested if she tries to
leave the country. Kellie-Jay KeenMinshull accused the group Mermaids of
“suppressing free speech”.
She had accused Mermaids, which
calls for children to be allowed irreversible sex-change treatment the NHS currently prohibits, of “prey[ing]” on gay
teenagers and of “mass child abuse”.
Mermaids declined to comment.
The actress Gemma Arterton takes part in the annual Million Women Rise march in central London yesterday to
call for an end to domestic violence against women worldwide. Arterton, 32, starred in the Bond film Quantum of Solace
Those students
aren’t he and she
but pup and kit
James Gillespie
It used to be simple: everyone
was either a “he” or a “she”.
Not any more.
An American college has
produced a guide that
suggests eight gender-neutral
pronouns for students. And
even that may not be enough;
it says some people may wish
to identify using animalthemed pronouns, which
require a host of other words.
Bryn Mawr College in
Pennsylvania, a private,
women’s liberal arts college,
says using more pronouns —
including “co”, “kit”, “sie”,
“it” and “ey” — will make
“spaces more gender
Their use is explained in a
chart that gives examples. For
instance, in the case of a
student who identifies as
“kit”, one would say, “Kit
likes kitself.” To refer to a
“co”, one would say, “Co
knows” or “Co likes coself”.
If that were not
complicated enough, the
college pamphlet refers
students to a Tumblr page to
help with students who
identify using animal-themed
pronouns such as “pup/pups/
pupself”, “meow/mews/
meowself” and “spide/
A similar move has been
seen in Brighton, where
council staff are to be issued
with badges that allow them
to choose and display their
preferred gender pronoun.
Some badges say “Please use
my name” while others are
left blank for users to fill in.
At Bryn Mawr, some of the
pronouns suggested come
from foreign languages —
such as the German-inspired
“sie” — while others come
from fiction. For example,
“ze” is a pronoun used in a
future utopia that Marge
Piercy described in her
science-fiction novel Woman
on the Edge of Time.
The Bryn Mawr guide was
revealed on the Campus
Gender-neutral pronouns
for Bryn Mawr students:
Ze or Zie
Xe (Xie)
If you “self -identify”
with an animal-themed
pronoun, there are more
than 60 including fluff,
stag, meow, bug, lynx,
hoof, squid and roe.
Reform website, which
“exposes the liberal bias and
abuse against conservatives
on America’s colleges and
Readers of Campus Reform
were sceptical. One said: “I
don’t need you to ask me, and
I don’t need to ask you, which
pronoun you’re ‘using’ today.
Grow up.”
Hedgehogs spread
salmonella to humans
Shingi Mararike
They may look cute, but
hedgehogs could be
responsible for a rising
number of infections,
including salmonella, a
potentially deadly bacteria
often linked to food
Those most at risk include
those who feed hedgehogs in
their gardens, because the
bacteria spread in their
droppings. “Studies in
Europe have identified
contact with hedgehogs as a
common exposure risk for
human salmonella infection,”
said the Zoological Society of
London researchers in a
paper. “Our study supports
the hedgehog being a
potential source of infection.”
The researchers analysed
170 hedgehog carcasses in
Britain, finding 27% to be
infected with salmonella.
They also found higher rates
of human infection in rural
areas with significant
hedgehog populations.
“People love hedgehogs —
they are our favourite wild
animals,” said Hugh Warwick,
of the British Hedgehog
Preservation Society. “But we
know animals have diseases
so we should always follow
hygiene rules like washing
hands after contact.”
The researchers stress that
contaminated food, rather
than hedgehogs, remains the
main cause of human
salmonella infection.
The paper, in the journal
Scientific Reports, also warns
that the biggest danger could
be to hedgehogs themselves
which are vulnerable to
salmonella, including human
strains. This may help explain
why their numbers have
plummeted by up to 50%
since 2002. There are
thought to be about 1m
hedgehogs in Britain.
Elaine Drewery, who runs
Hedgehog Care in Louth,
Lincolnshire, looking after up
to 200 animals, said: “They
can carry salmonella and
other diseases. I’ve had over
200 ticks [bloodsucking
parasites] which can also
transmit Lyme disease.”
All wild animals can
become reservoirs of disease,
with humans accelerating
their spread between species.
Garden bird feeders, for
example, may help birds get
through winter but if people
fail to wash them or keep
food fresh, then birds using
them can cross-infect each
other, leading many to die.
The Sunday Times March 11, 2018
Spectre of ‘Manchester Pusher’ lingers
as 76 fall victim to death-trap canals
A series of deaths on the city’s
waterways has led to calls for
barriers yet some locals
cannot shake off the fear of a
more sinister hand at work
David Collins and Vincent Wood
The father of Charlie Pope, the latest
victim to be brought from the bottom of
Manchester’s canals, stands on the
unprotected banks of the Rochdale
Canal, where police divers had found his
19-year-old son’s body days earlier.
“This canal is a death-trap,” Nicholas
Pope said, his eyes red and bleary. “I
won’t let my son’s death be in vain.”
It is a tale that has become familiar to
the people of Manchester. Bodies are
being found in the city’s canals at a startling rate. Research by The Sunday Times
has identified 76 corpses discovered in
the canals and waterways of Greater
Manchester since 2007. The entire West
Midlands, which includes the canal-rich
city of Birmingham, recorded 17 bodies in
canals between 2012-16. The same period
in Manchester yielded 38.
The toll has led to talk of a serial killer
called “the Manchester Pusher”, who
stalks the towpaths at night, seeking to
drown unwitting victims in its murky
waters. Greater Manchester police
reviewed the deaths two years ago but
found no evidence of a killer at work.
Most of the 76 deaths appear to be accidents. However, 17 are “unexplained”,
meaning the police and a coroner were
unable to determine how the person
died. At least one father is convinced his
son was murdered.
The body of Souvik Pal, 18, from
Bangalore, southern India, was found in
the Bridgewater Canal in January 2013,
three weeks after he was last seen at the
Warehouse Project, a dance event, on
New Year’s Eve. A coroner recorded an
open verdict. The Manchester Metropolitan University student was pictured on
CCTV walking away with a man who was
never traced. “I believe my son was
murdered and the killer is still out there,”
says his father, Santanu Kumar Pal, 50, a
mechanical engineer in Saudi Arabia.
Those who have drowned in Manchester’s canals include, top row from left:
Charlie Pope, Prince Alwin, Souvik Pal and Catherine Sharman; bottom row:
Nathan Tomlinson, Rafael Pizarro, Steven MacDonald and Tashan Stevens
Manchester Victoria
2 miles
Nicholas Pope near where his son slipped into the water and died. ‘More people are going to die if something isn’t done’
“He was found in the canal curled up
with no injuries. I have been to the section of canal; there is a 6ft fence. He could
not have fallen in. He must have been
attacked and then placed in the canal.
“I don’t know if it’s a serial killer, but
there are a lot of bodies turning up in
Manchester’s canals.”
The case of Charlie Pope is less mysterious. He went out with friends, then
tried to cross the canal in the early hours
using one of the locks. He slipped and fell
into the icy waters.
He is one of 19 to have died in Rochdale
Canal, a stretch of water that crosses the
city centre. In the gay village area, where
They are up against the Canal & River
Trust, which protects the Rochdale
Canal. “Although fencing off the waterfront may appear a straightforward
solution, it’s sadly not that simple,” the
trust says. “Access to and from the water
needs to be maintained for boaters and
those using the water and, indeed, the
safe rescue of those who need help when
they find themselves in difficulty.”
The water safety partnership, which
includes the council, police and the trust,
meets on Tuesday to review canal safety.
In 2012, Simon Brass, 40, was attacked
by a gang of muggers — one aged only 14 —
a few minutes’ walk from Charlie’s spot
several people fell off a wall into the
canal, a plastic barrier is in place.
Once in, it can be hard to get out. The
Rochdale Canal is 15ft deep in places,
with a bottom of silt and sand to which
feet can get stuck. Clothes get tangled up
in bits of rubbish. When one stretch was
drained it revealed chairs, tables, bottles
and cans, sleeping bags and a drum.
Like Charlie, three men, John Nicholls,
66, Alexander Lynch, 46, and Sean Michael Markey, 39, were killed in separate incidents as they tried to cross locks on
Rochdale Canal. The locks are intended
for boaters but pedestrians use them as
footbridges. Indeed, The Sunday Times
witnessed a girl hopping along the lock,
clinging to a wobbly makeshift handrail.
Charlie’s father, Nicholas, 53, a finance
director from Ponteland, near Newcastle
upon Tyne, witnessed the moment. “I
can’t believe she just did that,” he said.
“But there’s no warning signs, no barriers, nothing to help if you fall in. How can
this have been allowed to happen for so
long? I’m telling you now: more people
are going to die if something isn’t done.”
A petition on called “Put
barriers up on the Manchester canals”
has reached 37,000 signatures. One person writes: “My brother was one of the
unfortunate ones that lost his life here.”
r Ir
Charlie Pope
found dead
al e
Simon Brass
Pushed by gang
on the canal towpath. They took his
iPhone and pushed him into the water.
He was unable to swim and drowned.
The case shows that, even if a serial
killer seems far-fetched, it is possible
criminal gangs are operating along the
towpaths, preying on people in the dark.
Patrick Karney, a city councillor and
member of the water safety partnership,
said: “Each time one of these deaths
happens, people are going to ask, ‘Is it the
Manchester Pusher at work?’
“It’s something that isn’t going to go
away. I have seen no evidence to suggest
there is such a person.”
The Sunday Times March 11, 2018
Sports stars’
Dr Doper
struck off
Simon’s Cat claws in fans as 10th purr-thday arrives
A medic who boasted of helping top cyclists and
footballers cheat was caught by The Sunday Times
A British doctor who was secretly filmed
by The Sunday Times describing how he
prescribed banned drugs to 150 elite
sportsmen has been struck off the medical register.
Dr Mark Bonar was found guilty of misconduct by a tribunal last week, which
said he had shown “a reckless disregard
for patient safety” and brought “the
reputation of the entire profession into
disrepute”. The undercover investigation, conducted by this newspaper in
2016, found the 40-year-old medic
charged sports stars thousands of
pounds for illicit drug programmes.
Bonar, who was based at a private
London clinic, was filmed describing
how he used banned substances, such as
erythropoietin, steroids and human
growth hormone. He claimed his network of secret “clients” included Premier
League footballers, an England cricketer,
British Tour de France cyclists and a
British boxing champion.
This newspaper passed its undercover
footage to the General Medical Council
(GMC), which launched an investigation
that led to last week’s tribunal hearing.
Bonar failed to attend, saying he had
retired from medical practice, was living
abroad and did not plan to return to the
UK. The hearing came just days after a
parliamentary select committee released
the damning results of its inquiry into
doping in British sport, which was
triggered by The Sunday Times’s doping
scandal exposé revealing widespread
cheating in international athletics.
The report accused Lord Coe, who is
president of the governing body of world
athletics, of misleading MPs over his
knowledge of cheating and sharply criticised him for accusing this newspaper of
issuing “a declaration of war” on athletics
in the wake of the revelations.
British doctor
claims he doped
150 sports stars
Our investigation on April 3, 2016
The MPs also accused Team Sky of
crossing an “ethical line” by using
medication to boost the performance of
Sir Bradley Wiggins, and urged the GMC
to investigate an injection of a controversial supplement given to Sir Mo Farah by
Rob Chakraverty, now the England football team doctor. Coe, Wiggins, Farah
and Chakraverty deny any wrongdoing.
This newspaper was first tipped off
about Bonar’s doping activities by a
whistleblower who had already reported
him to UK Anti-Doping but was frustrated
at the organisation’s lack of action.
To test the whistleblower’s claims, this
newspaper sent an aspiring Olympic runner to Bonar’s clinic where he secretly
filmed the appointments. The disgraced
doctor was quick to prescribe prohibited
drugs to the runner, described doping a
plethora of top sports people and advised
how to escape the testers. Later, Bonar
denied doping athletes to enhance their
performance and breaching GMC rules.
At last week’s tribunal in Manchester,
however, Bonar was found to have shown
“deliberate and reckless disregard” for
patient safety in doing exactly that. He
was also accused of failing “to show any
recognition of, or insight into, the
seriousness of his actions”.
Video: watch our original undercover
Go to or our
smartphone or tablet apps
Simon Tofield’s
books about his
cat have sold
2m copies
James Gillespie
It started
with a cat jumping
on a bed — and became a
sensation that has
be watched almost a
times in 100 countries.
Simon’s Cat, the comic
of British animator
Sim Tofield, celebrates its
10 birthday this week as
on of the world’s most
illustrated cats since
Jud Kerr’s Mog. The
cartoon, entitled
has been seen
60 times. On Facebook,
Cat has 5.8m
and 2m books have
be sold in 30 countries.
And it all came about by
accident. Tofield, 46, was
trying to teach himself to use
Adobe Flash, an animation
software package. “I thought
I would create a little film as a
working project,” he said.
“My inspiration came from
my tiny black kitten, Hugh,
who would wake me up every
morning for his breakfast.
“He would jump all over
me and pat me on the nose
with his paw. So, Simon’s Cat
is basically greedy little
Hugh and his early morning
Proving you should never
underestimate the power of
cat lovers, Tofield put the film
on his showreel and in 2008 a
company in America asked if
it could use the film to test its
website. The site crashed
twice on the first weekend,
with 35,000 views of Simon’s
Cat. The film went viral
almost immediately and was
posted on YouTube, where it
was watched 8m times.
“It had become viral and
was whizzing around the
world. Everyone who had a
cat was sending it on to their
own cat-loving friends,” said
Tofield, who lives in London.
He quickly produced a
second film, set up the
YouTube channel and was on
his way to global success.
“I have lived with cats
since I was nine, so have
amassed a wealth of comic
material from them over the
years,” Tofield said.
“My cats are always doing
things which make me laugh.
A lot of my humour comes
from mixing real-life
observations with
imagination — getting the cat
to do things you think a cat
would do if he could, like
using a baseball bat to wake
up his sleepy owner.”
Tofield first turned to
drawing and animation
because he found it difficult
to write, although he was
diagnosed with severe
dyslexia only in the past few
years. “I was struggling to
keep up with young sharp
people at work and it was a
relief to find out what was
wrong,” he said.
Tofield has moved into
apps and games. Simon’s Cat
Crunch Time has been
downloaded 4.9m times and
another game, Simon’s Cat
Dash, has just been released.
Hugh died two years ago,
but Tofield is not short of
inspiration: he has four cats,
with Poppy and her daughter
Lilly joining fluffy Teddy and
big Maisy.
Video: watch the first
Simon’s Cat animation
Go to
or our phone or tablet apps
The Sunday Times March 11, 2018
Rod Liddle
Liddle’s Got Issues: Britain’s
culture war
Go to
or our smartphone or tablet apps
Roll on, World Toilet Day, so we can flush
this middle-class jamboree down the pan
spent the first half of International
Women’s Day (IWD) walking the
streets of my town dressed as a
giant iridescent vagina, while
ululating in the manner of a
grieving Palestinian mother. I
thought this struck the right
note of supportiveness.
After being relieved of my costume
and released from custody, I wandered
around shouting encouraging words to
women who passed by, or applauded
and personally thanked them for being
women. I think they appreciated my
efforts. It is remarkable that, despite the
daily iniquities they suffer — the constant
threat from vile, predatory men; the
manspreading and mansplaining; the
condescension and the misogyny —
women are still able to go out shopping
for shoes. In their hundreds! What a
testament to their fortitude that is.
I also hung around the Waitrose car
park to offer advice and assistance to
women trying to park Nissan Micras in
the vast bays designated for people with
children — that is, women. I like to think
they appreciated this too, though they
were oddly sparing in their thanks.
There are demands that IWD be made
a British bank holiday, to which I have no
objection. Yet there are other claims for
a new holiday. November 19, for
example, has been designated World
Toilet Day — a day off we might all enjoy.
Or there’s World Metastatic Colorectal
Cancer Day (September 27, since you
ask), when we commemorate people
who may relish World Toilet Day less
than most. There is also National Herpes
Awareness Day on October 13; according
to the active herpes people, two-thirds
of the world’s population have incurable
sores on their lips or naughty bits.
So many days, so many victims, so
little time. Perhaps we could merge
them into a single bank holiday? World
Metastatic Colorectal Cancer, Women,
Herpes and Toilet Day. Would that suit?
Elsewhere on IWD, things were going
swimmingly. Meghan Markle turned up
in Birmingham to “inspire” the local
l Max Mosley’s lawyers are
demanding to see my emails
— and those of my colleague
Sarah Baxter and other
hacks. This is because we
occasionally mention his
racist and fascist history and
interest in sadomasochistic
orgies. He is bringing a
lawsuit against several
national newspapers under
the Data Protection Act to
stop us mentioning that stuff.
I’ve searched through my
emails and the only ones
where his name emerges are
from articles that were later
published — two, to be
precise. But to keep Mosley
happy, I’ve used the edit
facility to insert the words
“Max Mosley” and “Beat me,
beat me, Brunhilde” into a
few thousand other personal
emails, including the long
exchange I had with the
water board last year. If this
comes to court, I trust
Mosley will get a spanking.
So everyone’s a winner.
Women at the
BBC clocked
off work just
after 4pm to
protest that
some get paid
less than men
females — the message presumably being
“Why don’t you all marry a gingerish
prince, like I’m doing?” Women at the
BBC clocked off work just after 4pm to
protest that some of them get paid less
than the men at the Beeb, even though
they are clearly equally useless and
possibly even more biased. My own
suggestion, that they not turn up for
work at all (the truly radical option), was
sadly ignored as far as I could tell from
the output on Radio 4, which still had
hordes of fantastically stupid middleclass women jabbering at one another.
The shadow chancellor, John
McDonnell, made an important, if
sometimes incoherent, speech in which
he identified the problems women face
when trying to better themselves. All too
often, he asserted, they hit the “glass
seagull”. Why were women hitting
seagulls? Surely they should be showing
solidarity with seagulls, which are often
persecuted. Or are men manufacturing
these glass seagulls precisely to
antagonise women? No explanation. Nor
did he have anything to say about men
dressed up as women inveigling their
way onto shortlists for safe seats within
his party. Or indeed the misogynistic
trolling and bullying of women party
members by his Momentum supporters.
At Oxford University a woman cleaner
was told — by men — to scrub from some
steps the chalked message “Happy
International Women’s Day”. This
aroused fury — that cleaners should be
required to clean stuff, and be told to do
so by men. The university apologised in
that usual cringing tone but did not say
who should have cleaned the graffiti, nor
whether it should have been left there.
And beyond this stuff, itself beyond
satire, millions of women worldwide
turned up for work on IWD and did so
for a minimum wage, or perhaps below a
minimum wage, isolated from this
impeccably self-regarding jamboree for
the affluent. Untouched by it all.
Take Rod Liddle’s culture war quiz,
Magazine, pages 14-21
England’s new World Cup strip
here we
Student snowflakes
are racists of note
Taped to a wall at Bournemouth
University, for all the students to see, is a
series of messages from the local NUS
halfwit. “Dear Muslim Students — you
are not terrorists,” reads one. Another:
“Dear LGBTQ+ Students — your life is
beautiful and allowed to expand past
fake social rules.” And: “Dear Female
Students — Men cannot grab you.” And
my favourites: “Dear Latino(a) Students
— you are not drug dealers or rapists”;
and “Dear Undocumented Students —
in this classroom there are no walls.”
This is patronising even by NUS
standards. Who here thinks Latino
students are drug dealers or rapists?
Isn’t that kind of passive-racist? What
about women who want to be grabbed
and Muslims who are terrorists? And
those poor undocumented students,
forced to study in a room with no walls
— where will they hang their coats?
Gender? Camden
has shedloads
l Should the “singing sisters”
from the Nationwide advert really
be killed, as many people wish? It
seems a bit harsh. The two extremely
self-regarding young ladies were
singing an irritating song about what
it’s like to have a sister. Soon social
media was buzzing with unpleasant
suggestions as to what should be
done to them, and now the police are
involved, at Nationwide’s request.
First stop for the Old Bill should be
the ad firm that foisted this dross on
us. One day corporations — starting
with Nationwide and John Lewis —
will realise their life-affirming, righton, multicultural campaigns have us
scampering to the lavatory bowl.
Reader Martin Shaw has kindly alerted
me to the exciting news that Camden
council intends to build a small shed for
bikes in the Mornington Crescent area
of northwest London. Locals have been
given a questionnaire to complete on
their views about this — most of it about
sex. You can choose from five genders
and nine possible options regarding the
state of your same-sex civil partnership,
including “separated, but still legally in a
same-sex civil partnership”. And then,
mystifyingly: “Have you given birth in
the last 26 weeks?” All this, says the
form, will ensure people with “protected
characteristics” are not adversely
affected. By the building of a bike shed.
The questionnaire is 12 pages long.
The Sunday Times March 11, 2018
‘White privilege’
lessons for lecturers
Oscar film
star Maisie,
6, lined up
for sequel
Sian Griffiths
University academics are being told they need re-educating over racism
Six-year-old Maisie Sly, star of
the British short that won an
Oscar last week, has been
invited to reprise her role in a
full-length movie as the film’s
team call on Theresa May to
let deaf children study sign
language in schools.
The Hollyoaks actress
Rachel Shenton, who wrote
The Silent Child about Libby,
a deaf child born into a
hearing family, said work had
started on the sequel, which
will tell Libby’s story as she
grows up. She confirmed
Maisie, who is deaf, had been
asked to play Libby.
Maisie’s parents, Elizabeth
and Gilson, who are also deaf,
along with Shenton and her
fiancé Chris Overton, the
film’s director, have signed a
letter in today’s Sunday
Times calling for schools to
teach GCSE sign language.
Letters, page 24
Sian Griffiths and Julie Henry
Maisie Sly with the actress and scriptwriter Rachel Shenton after their film won an Oscar
Hundreds of university lecturers are
being asked to acknowledge their “white
privilege” in workshops that outline how
their “whiteness” can make them unknowingly racist.
Masterclasses and seminars being
advertised at universities across the UK
are exploring the idea that white people
enjoy an advantage that they have not
earned, simply because of the colour of
their skin. By contrast, many black staff
and students are discriminated against
regularly, it is claimed.
A session at Bristol University, hosted
by the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic
Staff Advisory Group, entitled Walking on
the White Side of the Street, said it would
ask lecturers to “examine and acknowledge the destructive role of whiteness”.
“We will look at it as a day-to-day reality of white privilege that causes daily
‘aggressions’ towards people of colour,”
said the publicity material for the event in
The concept of “white privilege” has
already been taken up on university
campuses in America. Michigan University offered staff a training event
called Conversations on Whiteness,
while Vermont University held a “white
identity retreat” where white students
were taught to “recognise and understand white privilege”.
The British courses come as figures
show there is a higher drop-out rate
among black and ethnic minority students, who are also less likely to be
awarded a top degree than their white
counterparts. In addition, just 85 of
15,905 professors in the UK are black,
according to a report by the Runnymede
Trust, the race equality think tank, published in 2015.
At York St John University, a masterclass for staff called Learning and
Unlearning Whiteness was held in
November. A workshop listed recently at
Anglia Ruskin University, entitled Privilege: The Truth We Don’t Tell Ourselves,
asks participants to “start by facing our
privilege in an honest manner and understanding exactly how we benefit from a
racist system”. It warns staff and students
that the workshop “seek[s] to expose the
truth about the privileges we unknowingly carry with us in everyday life . . . the
ideas presented might make you feel
Critics condemn the moves as “white
shaming” or reverse racism. On some US
campuses, discussions about whiteness
have prompted students to put up
posters proclaiming “It’s OK to be white”.
The sociologist Frank Furedi warned
that the concept in effect labelled every
white person as racist. “Whiteness is the
equivalent of original sin, and white
racism inescapable,” he said.
Ruth Mieschbuehler of Derby University, author of The Minoritisation of
Higher Education Students, said:
“‘Whiteness’ workshops are one step
towards the hostile relationships
between students with different skin colour we see on campuses in the US.”
backs Rhodes
protest students
Sian Griffiths
Education Editor
Britain’s first black university
vice-chancellor has backed
students who campaigned to
topple the statue of the
Victorian imperialist Cecil
Rhodes at Oxford.
Baroness Amos, head of
Soas, University of London
(formerly the School of
Oriental and African Studies)
said students were “entirely”
within their rights to “raise
questions about the role
some people have had in our
history. I think that’s entirely
She added: “I don’t think
there’s anything that says
because you put a monument
up to somebody many
hundreds of years ago it has
to stay like that
Amos, a former Labour
cabinet minister and adviser
to Nelson Mandela’s
government in South Africa,
where the #Rhodesmustfall
movement started, said she
understood the students who
complained that walking
under a statue of Rhodes —
the 19th-century white Briton
who founded the De Beers
diamond company and
exploited African labour —
made them uncomfortable.
Soas had a statue of the early
civil rights activist and singer
Paul Robeson, she said.
“I do understand when
students say, ‘There’s a
history I find difficult to
engage in because I want
something that better reflects
some of my experience as
well as other people’s
experience.’ Universities
need to be sensitive to that,”
Amos said.
Donors threatened to
withdraw bequests to Oxford
worth millions of pounds
when students, led by a South
African Rhodes scholar,
Ntokozo Qwabe, protested in
an effort to dismantle the
Rhodes statue at Oriel College
two years ago. They argued
that it was a daily reminder of
This year students at Soas
held a protest at a Churchillthemed cafe, saying it
celebrated colonialism. One
called Winston Churchill a
“racist”, others chanted “We
have nothing to lose but our
chains”. Amos said the Soas
students’ union, which has a
“cops off campus” policy, had
the right to have “whatever
policy it wishes”: “We’re a
very activist place.”
She also said Soas had
started “decolonising” its
imperial past
degrees to include more
works by thinkers from
ethnic minority backgrounds.
Students will, for example, be
asked to compare the ideas of
the American feminist writer
Bell Hooks with those of
Aristotle on subjects such as
the role of women.
Every university should
look at revamping its
syllabus, said Amos. “It is
controversial, it is
contentious . . . that’s what
universities are for. We’re
asking people to think
differently, because
sometimes we’re asking
people to let go of things
which are an essential part of
their identity.”
Sightless BBC team leads
salute to blind blues stars
Richard Brooks Arts Editor
When Gary O’Donoghue
joined the BBC 25 years ago,
after doing work experience
in the broadcaster’s braille
department, he was told
that he would never become
a reporter because he
was blind.
He proved his doubters
wrong, however, as BBC
viewers know well, becoming
the broadcaster’s Washington
correspondent. Next Sunday,
he will present a radio
programme about blind
musicians, made by a team
that includes blind members.
The Radio 3 documentary
— Blind, Black and Blue —
explores the successes and
struggles of blind American
blues musicians and singers
from the southern states in
the first half of last century.
His producer, Lee Kumutat,
who went with him to
America for the programme,
is also blind, as is the sound
engineer, Peter Bosher.
O’Donoghue, a blues fan
who plays the guitar, first
suggested the idea a decade
ago but says it was then
turned down.
O’Donoghue has seen
attitudes towards disability
change in the past decade,
while he has been helped by
technological advances. “It’s
a generational thing. I would
also say public opinion
towards blindness is further
advanced than [the attitude]
of some editors at the BBC.
When I was working in the
UK, people in the street
regularly came up to say how
much they liked my work.”
The documentary looks at
musicians such as Blind Willie
Johnson, Blind Boy Fuller and
the Rev Gary Davis, who
influenced Bob Dylan.
“Opportunities for blind
people in the South were very
limited,” said O’Donoghue.
“Some simply took to playing
the banjo or guitar on the
streets to earn some money.
A few were taken on by
recording companies and
became big names.”
The Sunday Times March 11, 2018
Concerned will
dilute union
voting power
Chief of
staff to
Considering new
John McDonnell
Shadow chancellor
out with
Len McCluskey
Unite general secretary
Previously married to and a leading
communist (until 2016) with Michie
Andrew Murray
Adviser to
a child
Karie Murphy
Chief of
staff to
Seumas Milne
adviser to
Best friends
at Oxford
Member of
Jennie Formby
Jon Lansman
Momentum’s candidate and
founder of the movement
Unite’s candidate and
political director
Jonathan Michie
Vice-chairman of
Sister of
Now backing
picks winner
representative on
Christine Shawcroft
Member of
Susan Michie
Communist Party
Daggers glint as Momentum tries
to rip Labour from unions’ grasp
The ballot for Labour’s new
general secretary is turning
into a bitter fight, exposing
personal and factional feuds
among Corbyn’s supporters
Gabriel Pogrund, Tim Shipman
and Caroline Wheeler
When Labour’s ruling national executive
committee (NEC) met on Tuesday, Jon
Lansman — the gnome-like founder of
Momentum, the grassroots supporters of
Jeremy Corbyn — mischievously sat down
next to Jennie Formby, the political
director of Unite, Britain’s biggest union.
A month ago this would have been a
scene of hard-left harmony, a duo representing Corbyn’s loudest cheerleaders
and his party’s biggest paymaster. Last
week it was an act of passive aggression as
the two wings of the Corbynista coalition
found themselves locked in a bitter civil
war to control the party.
Formby, who is Corbyn’s candidate to
succeed the moderate Iain McNicol as
Labour’s general secretary, represents
the power of organised labour. Lansman
is her challenger, a man who has been on
a mission for 30 years to hand control of
the party to its membership.
The contest has laid bare personal,
political and factional disputes that have
riven the party for decades, but had
remained dormant while the far left
rallied to Corbyn’s cause in his battle with
the moderates. Last week these tensions
boiled over.
When Lansman took his seat at the
NEC he sandwiched himself between
Formby and Christine Shawcroft, a longstanding ally of Lansman in the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy. Later
that day Shawcroft let rip at Unite’s
attempts to railroad Formby into the job.
“Nothing,” she declared in a Facebook
post that evening, “would induce me to
support a candidate from a major trade
union. They stick it to the rank-and-file
members time after time after time. It’s
also time to support disaffiliation of the
unions from the Labour Party. The party
belongs to us, the members.”
Shawcroft had recently been made
head of the NEC’s disputes panel, at
which she was seeking to defend a group
of activists in Tower Hamlets using Facebook to propagate what one source
called “toxic” levels of anti-semitism.
Two NEC sources said her beef with Unite
was that Formby had “mysteriously left”
the room for a “strategic comfort break”
during disciplinary hearings on whether
to readmit to the party activists accused
of anti-semitism. Several of Shawcroft’s
Trotskyite allies did not get readmitted.
“Formby didn’t want to help Momentum readmit a bunch of its crank members,” a source said, “so Christine blasted
the unions for not standing up for her
loony mates.”
The subject of the dispute highlighted
again the party’s problems with antisemitism. It emerged in a week when Corbyn himself was under fire for once being
Return of adviser
who sent woman
‘honey glaze’ email
Gabriel Pogrund
A former adviser to Ken
Livingstone who was forced
out of his role in a corruption
scandal has been readmitted
to the Labour Party.
Lee Jasper was banned
from Labour after standing
for George Galloway’s
Respect Party in the 2012
Croydon by-election.
He had earlier stepped
down as Livingstone’s “race
tsar” after leaked emails
revealed he had an intimate
relationship with a woman
whose organisation received
City Hall funds, telling her: “I
want to . . . honey glaze you.”
Jasper did not declare his
relationship with the woman,
whose organisation received
a grant of £100,000.
He was also accused of
using his influence to help
friends and alleged
associates. He denied all the
allegations, saying he was
“absolutely confident and
clear” in his integrity, and a
Scotland Yard investigation
found no criminal activity.
Jasper was welcomed back
to Labour last week after
senior party officials decided
he had no case to answer and
reinstated his membership.
The news comes after proCorbyn candidates won a
clean sweep of new positions
on Labour’s ruling body, the
national executive committee
(NEC). Last month The
Sunday Times revealed the
NEC’s new composition had
led to a sudden relaxation in
disciplinary policy.
Jasper, 59, was among
banned left-wing activists
given a route back into the
party. The decision to
reinstate him came after a
hearing chaired by Andy
Kerr, a pro-Corbyn trade
unionist and NEC member.
Jasper resigned from the
party in protest at Gordon
Brown’s leadership in 2007.
Labour sources said the
charge of disloyalty no longer
applied as five years had
passed since Jasper stood
against the party as a Respect
Labour and Jasper
declined to comment.
Michie neglected
to mention her
grandfather, the
2nd Baron, or her
£52m legacy
a member of a closed Facebook group in
which activists posted anti-semitic messages. To complicate the issue, Shawcroft
is backing Lansman, who is Jewish and
has accused former London mayor Ken
Livingstone of making anti-semitic comments. “It’s a bizarre alliance,” said a
former NEC member.
Shawcroft’s call for the union link to
Labour to be broken led to a backlash
from Len McCluskey — the general secretary of Unite, who fathered a child with
Formby — and the leader’s office. Sources
said at “the tip of the spear” were Andrew
Murray, Unite’s chief of staff who also
advises Corbyn, and Karie Murphy, another Unite member who is Corbyn’s gatekeeper. One said: “Murphy and Murray
manage Corbyn’s information tightly.”
Murray, who left the Communist Party
of Britain in December 2016, is increasingly influential in Corbynworld. Last
Monday his ex-wife, Susan Michie, still a
member, gave a speech declaring communists should no longer oppose Labour,
but start “working full tilt” to get Corbyn
elected. In apparent solidarity, on Friday
the Stalybridge Labour Club flew the
Soviet hammer and sickle on its flagpole.
Michie claimed to speak for “we, the
working class”, failing to mention her
grandfather, the 2nd Baron Aberconway,
an Eton-educated industrialist; the £52m
her mother, Dame Anne McLaren, left in
her will; or that her two children with
Murray were last year granted joint ownership of her former home on a street
where properties are valued at £2m.
Murray is not Corbyn’s only link to
Michie. His closest aide, Seumas Milne,
was best friends at Oxford with Jonathan
Michie, Susan Michie’s brother. In 2012
both men contributed to an anti-capitalist, anti-European Union book, Building
an Economy for the People.
But for all the control Corbyn’s wellheeled clique exerts, Formby is not a
shoo-in. An abrasive personality who has
alienated more moderate unions, such as
the GMB and Unison, one former
employee described her as “a monster”
given to sending critical emails to staff
”just to ruin your weekend”. Other critics
point out that she has never run an election, a core task of the general secretary.
A party moderate said: “The leader’s
officers are content to subcontract that
all to Momentum and use party HQ for
internal control purposes.” A Labour MP
added: “Unite wants to control the membership lists.”
New Norman conquest aims to
lure UK businesses to France
The French
campaign will
run in a string of
Tim Shipman Political Editor
First they agreed to send us
the Bayeux Tapestry — now it
is payback time. France has
launched an audacious bid
to steal British businesses.
The government of
Normandy will this week
launch an advertising
campaign calling on firms to
“vote with their feet” and
move there to dodge
post-Brexit trade tariffs.
One advertisement due to
run in national newspapers
and magazines this week
features a lonely hearts
column calling for a “hot
entrepreneur” who “must
have an appetite for business,
beautiful coastal walks and
long sun-drenched lunches
with wine flowing”, adding
“someone allergic to
post-Brexit tariffs, legislation
and restrictions preferred”.
It says: “If you didn’t vote
for Brexit or it’s not right for
your business, why not vote
with your feet and open an
office, or settle a production
unit in Normandy.”
In a dig at the British
government, the ad says:
“There is still no sign of what
a trade agreement with the
EU might look like. Now is
the time to act.” Those who
choose to do so are promised
they “will find the process as
smooth as Camembert” and
receive reduced tax rates that
will help them “leave postBrexit fears behind”.
Hervé Morin, the region’s
president, said: “Brexit gives
Normandy a unique
opportunity to welcome
British businesses who decide
to stay at the heart of the
European Union.”
The campaign, which will
run in The Guardian, The
Times, Metro, The Telegraph,
the London Evening Standard
and The Economist, was
described by a source in the
region’s development agency
as “Normandy’s answer to
gloomy Brexit: a charm
operation to seduce British
Normandy is home to an
estimated 9,000 Britons and
53 British companies while
6,300 Britons have second
homes there, representing
the area’s largest foreign
presence. The number of
applications for French
nationality by British citizens
has increased by 254%, from
385 in 2015 to 1,363 in 2016.
France wants to knock out
the City, Business, page 5
Applications for the post close on
Tuesday, with the winner determined a
week later. Insiders say Formby has been
picked in part because McCluskey faces a
legal challenge at the Certification Office,
which oversees union elections. Gerard
Coyne, whom McCluskey beat by fewer
than 6,000 votes last year, is challenging
his victory on the grounds that he improperly used the union’s membership databases. If McCluskey stands down, the
Unite officials around Corbyn want union
officials Steve Turner or Howard Beckett
rather than Formby to take over.
Momentum is itself split between ageing Trotskyites and younger members
inspired by Corbyn. Paul Hilder, a young
Momentum acolyte, is also running,
while Laura Parker, Corbyn’s former private secretary and Momentum national
organiser, is seen as an alternative to
Lansman. Yet last week when her name
was floated, Corbyn allies smeared her by
claiming she is “set to inherit a vineyard
in France”. This weekend, allies said:
“She doesn’t want to do the job.”
Some want Formby to win so Corbyn’s
fingerprints are on the result. Adrian
McMenamin, Labour’s former chief press
officer, said: “I want her to get the job
because I want the reality of the way
McCluskey and his followers seek to
centralise power to dole out favours to be
fully exposed. If Corbyn will be the father
of this appointment, McCluskey will be
its midwife.”
Whatever happens, it will be close. As
one party official said: “It’s very finely
Gove and Davidson
team up to unhook UK
from fisheries policy
John Boothman
Michael Gove and Ruth
Davidson have joined forces
to demand that the UK ditch
the common fisheries policy
after Brexit next year in a
rebuke to the chancellor,
Philip Hammond, and
Brussels officials.
The environment
secretary, who helped lead
the “leave” campaign, and
the leader of the Scottish
Davidson: ‘fishermen’s
interests must be protected’
Conservatives, an
arch-remainer, put aside
their differences to publish
an outspoken joint statement
rejecting calls by the EU
to keep “reciprocal access”
to British waters during
the two-year transition
phase, which begins next
The statement puts them
at odds with the chancellor,
who angered fishermen and
Eurosceptics last week when
he said the UK would be open
to such a deal.
Gove and Davidson said:
“We believe it is vital that we
regain control over our own
fisheries management.
During the implementation
period we will ensure
that British fishermen’s
interests are properly
“Whatever differences we
had on Brexit, we both agree
that our fishing industry
stands to benefit from our
departure from the common
fisheries policy.
“We are both committed to
doing all we can to make
those benefits real.”
The Sunday Times March 11, 2018
White House
gets cold feet
on offer to
meet ‘Little
Rocket Man’
Kim Jong-un
would take the
pictures of him
shaking Donald
Trump’s hand
and plaster them
over every
billboard across
North Korea
After Trump’s surprise step, conditions being
set may prevent a US-North Korea summit
Toby Harnden
he “mentally deranged dotard”
Donald Trump may have agreed
to meet “Little Rocket Man” Kim
Jong-un but White House officials already casting doubt on
whether the summit between
the American president and
North Korean dictator will
take place.
After months of trading insults with
Pyongyang’s leader, Trump stunned his
staff and allies across the world by
suddenly agreeing to talk to Kim, despite
warnings from advisers that this could
hand the regime a propaganda coup.
But as officials scrambled to arrange a
venue and establish ground rules for the
talks, the White House appeared to be
getting cold feet about the wisdom of the
meeting and is introducing preconditions that North Korea may not be prepared to meet.
“The president will not have the
meeting without seeing concrete steps
and concrete actions take place by North
Korea,” said the White House spokes-
woman, Sarah Sanders. “They’ve got to
follow through on the promises
they’ve made.”
Another White House official told The
Wall Street Journal: “The invitation has
been extended and accepted, and that
stands. We expect the North Koreans to
adhere to the assurances they’ve made,
and if any of that changes, yes, we’ll have
to rethink whether this would happen.”
It was far from clear what promises
and assurances Kim had made about the
meeting that Trump has said would take
place before the end of May.
American and South Korean officials
have said the North pledged to refrain
from nuclear and ballistic missile testing,
but there has been no statement from
“Whether the North actually desires a
summit or desires to send an electrical
impulse, a jolt, remains to be seen,” said
Nicholas Eberstadt, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and a founding
member of the Committee for Human
Rights in North Korea.
“There are so many ways that it could
get called off. I can see lots of different
ways that it aborts, or that it blows up on
Trump’s decision to
meet Kim has been
questioned by his
defence secretary
and his national
security adviser
the launchpad so to speak. But it may
happen.” Echoing a distinction being
made by the White House, he added:
There’s a difference between agreeing
and going.”
North Koreans had made a promise to
“denuclearise”, but even agreeing on
what that means presents a crucial stumbling block. Eberstadt said: “It is Orwellian language. In the North Korean official lexicon, denuclearisation is a process
of eliminating nuclear capabilities from
the Korean peninsula.
“This begins with the South severing
its ties to a nuclear capable United States.
So denuclearisation means the end of the
US alliance with South Korea and the end
of a nuclear umbrella for South Korea.”
The US decision to agree to a meeting
came late on Thursday evening during an
Oval Office meeting with a trio of South
Korean officials. During a discussion
about Kim’s offer and possible diplomatic
options, Trump interrupted to say: “OK,
OK. Tell them I’ll do it. Tell him yes.”
James Mattis, the defence secretary,
and Lieutenant General HR McMaster,
the national security adviser — both
prominent hawks — are said to have questioned the wisdom of a meeting.
Rex Tillerson, the US secretary of
state, who was in Ethiopia, was blindsided by the announcement. Hours
earlier, he had said: “We’re a long way
from negotiations, we just need to be
very clear-eyed and realistic about it.” He
later said Trump’s move “was not a surprise in any way” and came after a “fairly
dramatic” change in posture from Kim.
Tom Countryman, a former undersecretary for arms control and
international security at the State
Department, said: “It’s still likely to
happen. But there are many obstacles
before it happens and many risks if it
does happen.
“Both leaders have a history of intemperate statements and both have an
incentive to say or do something to satisfy
domestic audiences that would cause the
other to be provoked to cancel it.”
New sanctions or enforcement efforts
by the US or a demand by North Korea
that US military exercises with South
Korea cease could scupper talks.
“The obstacles are not as big as the
risks of the meeting itself; these are two
guys who think they’re the smartest man
in the world, very confident, both thinking they are in a stronger bargaining position than ever before.
“I’m concerned that the US president
would go in without adequate preparation, simply convinced of his own persuasive abilities and not understanding
either the psychology of the other man or
the very important details that would go
into a real agreement.”
Countryman’s fear is that Trump
might strike a deal that would destabilise
Asia. A scenario for the president could
be to trade away the alliance with South
Korea in order to remove a potential
threat to the US. “If if you really believe in
America first and America alone, that
could be an attractive offer. Every other
president has not been interested in such
a deal, but this one might be.”
Harry Kazianis, director of defence
studies at the Centre for the National
Interest, put the prospects of a meeting
happening at no more than 50:50. He
said: “This is act one of a five-act play.
We’re very far away from it actually
happening. The first thing is, they’ve got
to actually agree where to meet. That
may end the possibility of a summit right
then and there.
“The North Koreans are going to
demand to have the meeting in Pyongyang. That’s something that cannot happen. Kim Jong-un would take the pictures
of him shaking Donald Trump’s hand and
plaster them over every billboard across
North Korea.
“The only viable place you can have a
meeting between the two leaders is right
along the DMZ [demilitarised zone] — it’s
neutral, it’s a stark setting that shows the
risks for both sides — that’s where the
shooting would start if there was a war.”
It remained to be seen, he added,
whether Kim was serious, as all the
messages about the North’s intentions
had come from South Korean officials.
“Out of every North Korean propaganda
outlet there is no mention of a meeting
with Trump, there is no mention of them
stopping their nuclear missile tests.
There’s nothing. It’s like this isn’t even
A failure at the talks could be even
more catastrophic, Countryman cautioned. “There is a risk that there are
enough voices in the White House and in
the Republican Party who would say, well
we tried that, the only option left is military action.”
Eberstadt agreed. “If this gets into
North Korea’s standard tradecraft and
negotiating ploys, then San Francisco is
going to be in greater danger after May
than it is today.”
Porn star defies legal bid to gag her
and tears a strip off Trump trolls
Toby Harnden
Stormy Daniels, the porn star
who was paid $130,000
(£95,000) in “hush money”
to prevent her revealing an
alleged affair with Donald
Trump, took on her critics
on Twitter this weekend,
embracing her notoriety even
as the president’s lawyers
sought to silence her.
Daniels, whose real name
is Stephanie Clifford, has
launched a publicity blitz
in the month since the
payment was revealed. She
has appeared on primetime
national television
and hit the road with a
“Make America Horny Again”
tour of strip clubs.
On Tuesday, she filed a
lawsuit in California claiming
the non-disclosure agreement
she signed is unenforceable,
because Trump did not
sign it.
But she has also faced
a storm of insults and
harassment on Twitter since
the allegations against Trump
were revealed. The porn
model corrected her critics’
spelling and dismissed
abusive messages yesterday
in between tweets promoting
her paid-access adult website
and a live show in Fort
Lauderdale, Florida.
One online troll told
Daniels that “a skank with no
standards . . . used to be
called a hooker”, prompting
her to respond, “I’ve always
liked harlot. Sounds fancy.
When another critic
taunted her, “Why would
[Trump] sleep with you when
he has Ivanka,”, she replied:
“I laughed so hard . . . when
someone can’t even insult
you correctly. You’re
welcome. Enjoy!”
Daniels is suing Trump and
Essential Consultants, citing
payments made to her by
Michael Cohen, Trump’s
The correct
spelling is “skank”
Daniels performing at a strip club in
Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on Friday
personal lawyer. Cohen
admits he paid her as part of
a non-disclosure agreement
weeks ahead of the 2016
presidential election.
The agreement sought
Daniels’ silence over an
“intimate relationship” she
alleges she had with Trump in
2006, a year after he married
his third wife Melania. The
relationship continued into
2007, she claims.
Cohen denies the affair
took place and said he paid
the money to Daniels from
his own funds and without
Trump’s knowledge.
The payment was made in
the closing stages of the 2016
election as Trump faced a
slew of sexual harassment
It also came after an Access
Hollywood secret tape was
released, in which Trump
boasted of his dealings with
women saying he liked to
“grab ’em by the pussy”.
In her California lawsuit,
which her lawyer posted on
Twitter, Daniels says attempts
to intimidate her into silence
continue unabated.
The Sunday Times March 11, 2018
Aide behind trade
war now Donald’s
right-hand man
Toby Harnden Washington
Kim Jong-un may be ruthless and reckless but he has proven far from irrational in his single-minded focus on achieving his nuclear ambitions so as to guarantee his regime’s survival
Kim wins seat at top table —
and restarts reactor
Trump says he has forced
Pyongyang to negotiate,
but new satellite pictures
may indicate the US is
being manipulated
Philip Sherwell Asia Correspondent
Even as athletes from the two Koreas
marched together in a show of unity at
the Winter Olympics closing ceremony
plumes of steam rose from a secret site
200 miles to the north. American scientists have concluded from satellite imagery analysis that North Korea restarted
production of plutonium, apparently for
nuclear bombs, at the height of a charm
offensive by Kim Jong-un, its dictator.
The newly released images of the
Yongbyon reactor, showing the rising
plumes and melted river ice nearby,
emerged last week but went largely unnoticed as Donald Trump announced his
startling decision to hold a summit with
Kim. Analysts from 38 North, a research
facility at Johns Hopkins University in
Baltimore, and the Institute for Science
and International Security in Washington, concluded that the reactor was producing plutonium again after a period of
apparent inactivity.
They made their findings after poring
over satellite images. The final one was
taken on February 25, the day that South
and North Korean athletes put on the
show of friendship as the Games closed.
The discovery offers a chilling backdrop to the hopes and fears surging
across east Asia after Kim reportedly put
“denuclearisation” on the table for the
historic meeting with Trump.
Beijing has publicly welcomed the
news of the summit. But for China, which
is obsessed with stability in its backyard,
there will be fears that it risks finding
itself bypassed by an encounter between
two such headstrong characters. In
Japan, there was consternation in ruling
circles. Shinzo Abe, the prime minister,
hastily arranged a trip to Washington to
lobby Trump. And in South Korea, there
was talk of a Nobel peace prize for Moon
Jae-in, the dovish president who has
championed rapprochement with the
North since his election last year. But
from Pyongyang, usually strident in its
outbursts, there has been no word since
the remarkable footage of Kim, his wife
and sister joking on Monday with Moon’s
emissaries over imported French wine,
local rice liquor and Korean hotpot.
Kim has instead left it to the South’s
envoys to relay his proposals — prompting speculation about his true intentions
and leaving him wiggle room to claim at a
later stage that his words had not been
accurately conveyed. So why has he
offered to talk now, after aggressively
pursuing his weapons programme last
year? Prestige, history, economics and
timing all come into play.
North Korea has been seeking a one-toone summit with a serving US president —
and all the recognition as an equal negotiating partner that it believes comes with
that — for two decades. Kim Jong-il, the
father of the current leader, invited Bill
Clinton to Pyongyang in 2000. Clinton
sent Madeleine Albright, his secretary of
state, for a preliminary visit. She concluded that the North was not ready to
abandon its ballistic missile programme
and no presidential visit took place.
Pyongyang has since amassed a fearsome
The White House says Kim has been
forced into talks by Trump’s tactic of
threatening the “fire and fury” of military
action, combined with the bite of new
sanctions. But the North has endured
economic hardship before, even putting
its own population through famine, so it
would be striking if Kim had been cowed
to negotiate. Instead the answer may lie
in Kim’s careful manipulation of events
south of the heavily fortified demilitarised zone that divides the peninsula.
Moon, the son of North Korean refugees, arrived in the presidential Blue
House in Seoul as an advocate of engagement, earning the scorn of Trump at one
stage for his policy of “appeasement”.
And of course Pyongyang knew that the
world’s eyes would be on the Winter
Olympics, to be held in the South just 50
miles from the border.
“Kim was always going to make a play
on Moon at some point,” a former foreign
ambassador in Pyongyang said. “As soon
as he could see the slightest gap between
Washington and Seoul, then he would
not be able to resist trying to drive a
wedge. The Olympics were the perfect
jumping-off point for him — and, boy, did
he do it well.”
The ploy to invite South Korean emissaries to the North and then issue an invitation to Trump for talks was a “win-win”
for Kim, a young tyrant who has proved
ruthless and reckless but far from irrational, in his single-minded focus on
achieving his nuclear ambitions to guarantee regime survival.
“He probably put pressure on Seoul to
encourage Washington to agree to talks
on the presumption that America would
say ‘no’. But Trump’s apparent acceptance works even better for him,” the
former ambassador said. “Pyongyang
now has the chance to portray itself as an
equal nuclear power to Washington. And
Kim has a far easier hand to play than
Trump if they meet. He’s got himself a
seat at the top table, which is what he has
wanted all along.”
Jeffrey Lewis, an expert on nuclear
weapons at the James Martin Centre for
Nonproliferation Studies in Monterey,
California, struck a similar note. “We
need to talk to North Korea,” he said. “But
Kim is not inviting Trump so that he can
surrender North Korea’s weapons. Kim is
inviting Trump to demonstrate that his
investment in nuclear and missile capa-
Kim has
the US to
him as
an equal
Video: Trump’s
history of
threats against
North Korea
Go to
thesundaytimes. or our apps
bilities has forced the United States to
treat him as an equal.”
Han Park, a Korean-American academic who has acted as a back-channel
liaison between Washington and Pyongyang, identified a stumbling block to
progress in any talks. He said the North
would “never” accept independent
inspections by the International Atomic
Energy Agency to verify claims of disarmament. And what does Kim mean when
he holds out the prospect of talks about
“denuclearisation” — seized on by Trump
when he tweeted his rationale for meeting him?
For Washington, it means unilateral
disarmament. But Pyongyang has always
attached a non-negotiable requirement
of “security guarantees” and in particular the removal of US forces and nuclear
weapons from not just South Korea and
Japan but also the US Pacific territory of
Guam, which is a base for long-range
bombers. These demands have sabotaged previous attempts to defuse crises.
Moon’s envoys said the North last
week repeated that it would “denuclearise” if military threats were eliminated
and its security guaranteed, though without spelling out precise conditions.
Any move to withdraw US forces and
nuclear protection would rock to its foundations America’s military doctrine for
the Asia-Pacific region since 1945. But
Trump has previously complained about
the costs of stationing US forces in South
Korea and Japan and talks are under way
between Seoul and Washington about
sharing the financial burden.
In the face of naysayers, Trump is
armed with his unwavering confidence in
his skills as a dealmaker and Kim has
been making the right gestures, promising his South Korean guests that he would
stage no more weapons tests while the
overtures were under way. Yet even as he
was preparing his headline-grabbing initiative, his scientists were apparently
pursuing his nuclear orders.
When Donald Trump was
elected president, Peter
Navarro was viewed as a
fringe character even by the
standards of the other misfit
advisers heading for the
White House.
Now Navarro, 68, an
abrasive former economics
professor who has called
China “the planet’s most
efficient assassin”, is at the
apex of Trump’s team.
When the president signed
an “America First”
proclamation last week
placing tariffs on steel and
aluminium imports, Navarro
scored a pivotal victory for
White House nationalists. It
triggered the resignation of
Trump’s top trade adviser,
Gary Cohn, a former
Goldman Sachs president,
who was viewed by much of
Wall Street as a bulwark for
financial stability.
Navarro, Cohn’s rival, is a
leading candidate to take
over from him as trade
adviser, a prospect that
Trump’s Republican allies on
Capitol Hill regard as
potentially catastrophic.
So who is the maverick
academic who helped the
president fire what could be
the first shot in a global trade
war? And how did the most
vocal trade hawk in the White
House defeat the powerful
figures who were determined
to stop him?
Navarro, who studied at
Harvard, emerged in the
1980s as a left-wing
economist who criticised the
effect of foreign competition
on American jobs. As a
professor at the University of
California, Irvine he ran for
local office three times as a
Democrat — unsuccessfully.
With Beijing’s trade
policies in his sights, he wrote
books with belligerent titles:
The Coming China Wars
(2006) and Death by China
(2011). American
businessmen were “very
aggressive, soldiers in the
pro-China lobby” while
Chinese entrepreneurs were
flooding world markets with
“bone-crushing, cancercausing, flammable,
poisonous, and otherwise
lethal” products.
The actor and political
activist Martin Sheen
narrated a Death by China
documentary in which
Chinese aircraft unloaded
bombs labelled “export tax
rebates” and “income tax
rebates” on US factories.
In the 2016 election
campaign Trump wooed
blue-collar voters, many of
them former Democrats, with
rhetoric on trade that echoed
Navarro’s. He described
China as “killing us”, adding
that it had taken advantage of
the US and perpetrated “the
greatest theft in the history of
our country”.
According to Vanity Fair,
that was no coincidence. It
reported that Trump’s son-inlaw, Jared Kushner, tasked
with researching Beijing’s
trade policies, had found
Death by China on Amazon.
Navarro was brought on
board as a campaign adviser
and moved with Trump to the
White House as director of
the National Trade Council.
This new council was
touted as having considerable
power, but Navarro found
himself in an isolated office
with a single aide and faced
sustained attempts to muzzle
his views on trade. He
reportedly told friends that
the administration was like
Game of Thrones and that he
spent his time dodging
arrows. He had an ally,
however, in Trump.
When officials excluded
Navarro from discussions
with President Xi Jinping at
Mar-a-Lago in Florida last
April, Trump insisted he be
brought into the room,
asking: “Where’s my Peter?
Where’s my Peter?”
Just months ago, Navarro
was marginalised by the
White House chief of staff,
John Kelly, when his work
was folded into Cohn’s
operations. Instead of
resigning, he resisted Kelly’s
attempts to bar him from the
Oval Office and earned a
reputation for wandering the
West Wing corridors late at
night and on weekends in the
hope of bumping into Trump.
Navarro’s opportunity
came last month when Kelly’s
power was diminished in the
debacle over the White House
staff secretary, Rob Porter,
who quit after allegations of
beating his two former wives.
Even at the last minute,
Navarro’s critics could not see
China is
world with
what was coming. Before the
tariffs announcement,
Republican Senator Orrin
Hatch predicted Trump
would change his mind and
criticised “that one staffer
down there who is, in my
opinion, misleading the
president. Navarro should
know better.”
Navarro is glorying in his
new ascendancy and the
discomfort of his Republican
detractors. “When the
president ran against 16 other
Republican candidates, all 16
of those candidates didn’t
embrace his trade agenda
either,” he told CNN last
week. “He beat them.”
Trump has twisted the
knife. Bidding Cohn farewell,
he said: “He’s been terrific.
He may be a globalist, but I
still like him. He’s seriously
globalist, there’s no question.
But . . . in his own way he’s a
nationalist because he loves
our country.”
Cohn’s departure puts
another notch on Trump’s
turnover of staff and creates a
power vacuum that Navarro
seems certain to exploit.
“Steve Mnuchin [the
Treasury secretary] is simply
a sycophant,” a former
Goldman Sachs executive
told Vanity Fair. “Wilbur Ross
is only about self-interest.
And Peter Navarro’s missing a
few strings on his banjo.”
Nepal’s leftist coalition marches to Beijing beat as India’s grip weakens
Philip Sherwell Kathmandu
From their quarters in the
former British mission,
Indian ambassadors have
long been assailed by Nepalis
for intervening in
Kathmandu’s turbulent
politics with the imperious
manner of viceroys of the Raj.
In a country where a
bloody act of regicide in 2001
was followed by the fall of the
monarchy seven years later,
Delhi’s envoys have acted as
kingmakers as 10 prime
ministers came and went in a
decade of political upheaval.
But the era of making and
breaking Nepal’s fractious
coalitions — via threats and
inducements delivered from
the large wooded compound
inherited from Britain’s
legation after 1947 — has
come to an end, for now at
Marxist and Maoist
politicians are moving into
ministerial offices in
Kathmandu after their left
alliance coalition swept aside
the pro-Indian Nepali
Congress in elections.
Beijing has tersely denied
rumours swirling through
Kathmandu’s dust-cloaked
streets that it brokered the
pact between the long-time
communist foes. But there is
clearly a new powerbase in
town — the embassy of the
People’s Republic of China.
KP Sharma Oli, the Marxist
leader and new prime
minister who spent 14 years
as a political prisoner as a
young man, has made clear
Nepal will no longer rely on
India for trade and support.
As a buffer state on the
roof of the world, the small
Himalayan nation is the latest
setting for the power plays of
its giant Asian neighbours,
across the mountains to the
north and plains to the south.
To very public jitters in
Delhi, China seems to have
notched another convert to
the grandiose “new Silk
Road” infrastructure project
of Xi Jinping to connect his
country by land and sea via
Asia to the Middle East,
Europe and Africa.
Pakistan, Sri Lanka and the
Maldives have all welcomed
Chinese investment and
security assistance as part of
Xi’s Belt and Road initiative,
driving anxiety in Delhi that it
is being encircled.
Fears of a military
showdown between India
and China over the remote
Doklam plateau near their
borders with Bhutan have
also resurfaced. It was the
flashpoint for a tense standoff between their security
forces last summer and
India’s media have recently
reported a new Chinese
The intrigues in the region
echo the so-called “Great
Game” that Britain and
Russia waged for trade routes
and influence over central
Asia during the 19th century.
Oli was long close to Delhi
but the new premier turned
against his old allies after proIndian factions in southern
Nepal launched a trade
blockade in protest at a new
constitution in 2015. This
crippled Nepal months after a
devastating earthquake and
stoked anti-Indian sentiments
that have swept Oli and his
leftist allies to power.
The new leader has
announced the revival of a
Chinese dam project that had
been suspended under
pressure from India, and he
has expressed enthusiasm for
the extension of a railway
from Tibet into Nepal.
Arabian Sea
Bay of Bengal
400 miles
In Kathmandu’s Durbar
Square, where the palace and
shrines were badly damaged
by the earthquake, visitors
pass beneath an arch topped
with the Chinese flag and
lined with posters trumpeting
a Beijing-funded restoration
From hydropower to
construction, Chinese
businesses are moving in.
And China has also started to
make inroads with Nepalese
security forces. The new
training academy of the
Nepalese armed
police marching
in Kathmandu.
The force has a
training academy
funded by China
Nepal armed police force, a
$350m (£253m) gift from
China, stands in sharp
contrast to other dilapidated
Nepalese security facilities.
“The Chinese have quietly
told their Nepalese
counterparts that they will
supply anything they need, as
long as they do not also ask
for help from the Indians or
the West,” said Geja Sharma
Wagle, a security analyst and
former UK government
adviser on Nepal.
Nepal has been no stranger
to violent turmoil since the
crown prince shot dead the
king and several family
members before turning his
gun on himself in 2001.
After the end of a bloody,
decade-long Maoist
insurgency in 2006 and the
transition to a republic two
years later, the querulous
communist parties both held
office for short stints via the
ballot rather than the bullet.
Their leftist alliance now
seems set for years in power
after its crushing election
victory and merger talks are
advancing to create a single
party, its ideology closer to
social democracy than the
labels suggest.
Yuba Raj Khatiwada, a
former central banker
appointed as finance
minister, insisted that Nepal
would pursue policies
independent of both
dominant neighbours.
“We are neither pro-China
or pro-India, we are proNepal,” he said.
Narendra Modi, India’s
prime minister, is belatedly
trying to woo back its “little
brother”, placing three
phone calls to Oli and
dispatching his foreign
minister and army chief on
visits. It is an uphill struggle.
“India is losing Nepal to
China because of the failure
of its coercive diplomacy,”
said Wagle. But many
Nepalese are also wary about
the risks of rushing into
Beijing’s fold, looking south
to Sri Lanka, which has been
plunged into a debt trap in its
dealings with China.
“India is the old friend we
knew too well and that
familiarity has bred
contempt,” said Hari Sharma,
a former prime ministerial
adviser. “China are the new
kids but our politicians need
to be very careful about how
they embrace us.”
The Sunday Times March 11, 2018
EU ‘wants Lesbos refugee camp
to be in state of filth and fear’
Firebrand MEP in
attempt to skewer
‘Monster of Brussels’
Andrew Byrne
Louise Callaghan Lesbos
At the EU’s Moria refugee camp on the
Greek island of Lesbos, the horror begins
at sunset when the uniformed aid
workers go home, and the drinking and
fighting begin. Celine, 22, from Kinshasa,
cowers in her tent with the lights out,
praying to be left alone.
“The men come and they bother me,”
she said last week, when The Sunday
Times was granted rare access to Moria.
“They don’t leave me alone. I’m scared
here. It’s not safe.”
The camp, one of Europe’s largest, was
built in 2015 for 3,000 people. Now more
than 5,000, a third of them children, are
crammed in tents and shipping
containers, surrounded by barbed wire.
They share 120 lavatories and 75
showers — though many women say they
are so afraid of being raped that they do
not use them. “I never go to the toilet at
night,” said Hasna, from northern Syria.
“I shower with some water my son brings
for me. I’m afraid.”
After the EU and Turkey reached a deal
in 2016 to control migration, the flood
into Greece slowed to a trickle. But it is
still significant: more than 2,500
migrants arrived in the first two months
of this year. Many are Syrians who say
Moria’s living conditions are worse than
those they left behind.
“We’ve gone from one hell to another,”
said Mohammed, 32, who arrived last
week from Yarmouk, a besieged enclave
near Damascus. Like many, he prefers to
live rough outside the camp than face the
dangers inside. “They wanted me to live
with 17 other people in a container.”
More than 20 men were wounded last
week in a brawl between Iraqis and
Syrians. “All the different groups fight
each other, and the men drink, all around
the children,” said Abdulrahman, 28,
from Raqqa. “It’s a very bad place.”
Médecins sans Frontières, the charity,
which runs its clinic outside the camp
in protest at the conditions inside, said it
had treated several female victims of sexual violence in the past month. However,
aid workers say the majority of attacks go
unreported. In the conservative cultures
the women come from, rape is hidden.
One Syrian woman told The Sunday
Times that if she was raped she would not
even tell her gynaecologist. A UN report
Women shelter in a makeshift settlement next to the Moria refugee camp. Many prefer to live outside rather than face the dangers inside
on Syria said non-disclosure was the most
common reaction to being raped.
Those who do report rape in Moria risk
not being believed, as officials suspect
women of making false claims in the hope
of bolstering their asylum applications.
Under EU law, victims of rape are classified as vulnerable and have specific rights
in the asylum process.
“We don’t have any incidents [of
rape],” said Dimitri Vafeas, Moria’s
deputy commander. “Many women
appear and they say: ‘They attacked me’
or ‘They did rape me.’ But why? After
that they confessed: ‘I said it so I take
vulnerability [protection].’”
Vafeas added that if the refugees disliked the conditions, they were free to live
elsewhere on the island. Many do so.
Children run in the surrounding olive
groves, their clothes bright against the
mud. Residents have dug their own lavatories, and the stench of sewage is thick.
Officials seem unable to explain why
the conditions in Moria, which fall short
of many refugee camps in Iraq and Syria,
are so bad. The problem, they say, is not
money. More than £580m of EU funding
has been channelled to Greece since the
migration crisis of 2015.
“I don’t know, I can’t tell you,” Vafeas
said. He added that overcrowding was
the main problem and blamed local
officials for blocking expansion.
Some officials and aid workers claim
another, darker, factor is in play. They say
that some within European governments
and the European Commission encourage bad conditions in Moria to discourage
migrants from trying to cross to Europe.
“The reason why the living conditions
here are so bad is to not create a pull
factor,” said Luca Fontana, a field co-ordinator for Médecins sans Frontières. “The
European Commission say that in our
bilateral meetings.”
Fontana said children in Moria suffered from the lack of sanitation: waves of
diarrhoea, scabies and parasitic infections sweep through regularly, and
bureaucratic hurdles make it difficult to
provide medicine for the sick.
“When I worked in the Democratic
Republic of Congo, we could get all the
medicines and drugs we needed, but
here we can’t,” he said. “It’s disgusting.”
One regional official said that Moria
was spoken of as a “deterrence” against
trying to cross to Europe. Vafeas said this
was heard “behind closed doors”.
The Commission said: “This accusation is entirely unfounded. On the contrary, the Commission is doing everything in its power to assist the Greek
authorities, who are the ones responsible
for the conditions on the islands, to
improve the situation for the migrants.”
It had made “recommendations to the
Greek authorities on improving conditions in particular on the islands and have
made the necessary funding available to
ensure adequate conditions.”
come and
me. They
leave me
alone. It’s
not safe
Martin Selmayr, dubbed “the
Monster of Brussels” by his
critics, will face demands for
an official investigation into
his appointment as top
Eurocrat at a parliamentary
session tomorrow, as the
political firestorm over his
promotion spreads.
Critics say Selmayr, 47, a
German who amassed
formidable power as chief of
staff to the European
Commission president, JeanClaude Juncker, exploited
gaps in the rules to fast-track
his surprise appointment as
the commission’s secretarygeneral — and brought the
organisation into disrepute.
Sophie in ’t Veld, a
firebrand Dutch MEP, said
she would call on the
commission to reverse its
decision at the European
parliament in Strasbourg
tomorrow. She has also asked
the EU ombudsman to
The MEP said the approval
of the promotion by the EU’s
28 commissioners, without
discussion and without
inviting other applications,
was “stupid and immoral”.
“Nobody objected, nobody
even asked a question,” she
said. “These people are
supposed to be the very best.
They run [the] most powerful
institution on this continent
and yet they behave like
sheep when something like
this is put before them.
“If you’re so out of touch
that you think you can get
away with it and the
parliament will go along with
it, then what planet are you
living on?”
The bureaucratic coup two
weeks ago has placed
unparalleled executive
powers in Selmayr’s hands.
One senior EU politician
said the appointment was
sprung on the commission
after governments were given
no advance warning. The
resignation of Selmayr’s
predecessor, Alexander
Italianer, had been revealed
only moments earlier.
Appointing the head of a
national civil service — the
equivalent of Selmayr’s new
job — without a competition
process would be impossible
in many countries, the
politician added.
The commission has
denied anything untoward in
Selmayr’s appointment. A
spokesman said it had
adhered “religiously” to all
procedures: “Everything was
done by the book.”
Selmayr: new job approved
‘without discussion’
The debacle has revealed
the backbiting inside the EU’s
32,000-strong bureaucracy.
One senior EU official put the
outrage over Selmayr’s new
job down to resentment
among internal opponents he
mercilessly sidelined while he
was Juncker’s chief of staff.
“He inflicted a lot of battle
scars on people in this town
and now they’re trying to kick
him in the face,” the official
Emily O’Reilly, the EU
ombudsman, has just over
three weeks to decide on the
complaint against Selmayr’s
promotion. She has criticised
EU institutions for avoiding
scrutiny but lacks strong
powers to punish
The Sunday Times March 11, 2018
Oligarch’s ‘former
lover’ vows to pin
Trump to Russia
A prostitute now in jail claims she is the missing link in a long chain between
the Russian government and the US election — and has recordings to prove it
The metals
tycoon Oleg
Deripaska, far
left, with
Vladimir Putin
Matthew Campbell Moscow
Philip Sherwell Bangkok
Nastya Rybka, who is now in a Thai prison, is asking for protection in exchange for her recordings
Russia’s presidential election is only a
week away but the talk in Moscow is not
of the big win expected by Vladimir Putin
but of the “little fish” and the billionaire.
While the election lacks excitement —
Putin is sure to win — the intrigue around
one of Russia’s richest men, Oleg Deripaska, the metals mogul and friend of the
president, has kept the city riveted.
It has aroused American interest as
well: in exchange for US asylum, a young
prostitute who calls herself Nastya Rybka
— Russian for “little fish” — is offering to
dish the dirt on what she says are Donald
Trump’s secret dealings with Moscow.
The scandal erupted last month when
Alexei Navalny, the anti-corruption campaigner and opposition politician, published a video accusing Deripaska, one of
the richest men in Russia, of bribing a top
government official by entertaining him
on his yacht with prostitutes.
“We’ll talk of bribes, yachts . . . oligarchs, prostitutes and even Russia’s
involvement in the American elections,”
promises Navalny at the start of the
video. “Did that make you intrigued? All
right, take a seat, buckle up, get ready.”
Posted on YouTube, the video had by
last week attracted 6.5m views. It includes photographs taken on Deripaska’s
yacht by Rybka as well as a recording of
the oligarch and Russia’s deputy prime
minister, Sergei Prikhodko, discussing
Russian-American relations as they
cruised off the Norwegian coast in the
summer of 2016 during the US presidential election campaign.
In a bizarre twist this month, Rybka,
21, was arrested as she held a seduction
seminar in the city of Pattaya, Thailand,
accused of working without a permit.
Attendees paid $600 each for the fiveday course — “Life Without Panties” —
which she had advertised on Instagram:
“It doesn’t matter who you are, a poor
student, oligarch or janitor. What’s the
point if you don’t have the woman you
dream of next to you?”
Russians were further intrigued last
week when, from her Thai prison cell,
Rybka claimed she had been arrested on
the orders of Moscow as payback for the
video on Deripaska and Prikhodko. Her
life would be in danger if she was
deported to Russia, she said.
In a note in English delivered by a
friend to the US embassy in Bangkok, she
described herself as a former “mistress”
of Deripaska and asked for “protection”
has been
on chat
and in
Backroom talks and fear of betrayal
begin as Italy gropes for government
Michael Sheridan Milan
The brash new leader of
Italy’s conservatives, Matteo
Salvini, came home to Milan
this weekend to calculate
the odds against his bid to
take power.
Salvini celebrated his 45th
birthday in discussions with
his party, the League, which
overtook its allies, Silvio
Berlusconi’s Forza Italia, in
last Sunday’s election to
emerge as Italy’s dominant
right-wing force.
They met across the street
from the most famous scene
of treachery in western art,
Leonardo da Vinci’s Last
Supper, which depicts Judas
with Jesus and the other
apostles, in the refectory of
the 15th-century church of
Santa Maria delle Grazie.
Salvini invokes Milan’s
Catholic tradition on every
possible occasion, even
brandishing a rosary and a
New Testament at one rally.
His faith in Berlusconi, his
key ally before the election, is
not quite as solid. The former
prime minister, 81, failed to
make a comeback and has
been skulking at his villa
outside Milan with his aides,
lawyers and girlfriend.
Salvini, who aims to be the
first populist leader of a big
European nation, has seized
the initiative. On Friday he
staked out a low-tax, antiBrussels line ahead of talks to
form a coalition government.
Brussels, he said, always
wanted “more taxes, more
spending cuts, more taxes,
more cuts. We are not going
into government for that.”
For all his bravura, Salvini
faces formidable obstacles.
The centre-right parties, with
37% of the vote, are locked in
a contest with the insurgent
Five Star Movement, led by
Luigi Di Maio, 31, which came
out as the single biggest
party, with 32.6%.
While Salvini’s League
strengthened its grip on its
prosperous northern
heartlands, Five Star did well
across the south, helped by
its promise of a universal
basic income of €780 (£695) a
month for poor job-seekers.
Such was the appeal of this
pledge that some hopeful
southern voters have already
lined up at public offices to
claim the money, according
to the Italian media.
Neither the right nor Five
Star can govern alone but,
Beppe Grillo, left, with Luigi
Di Maio, Five Star’s leader
although both oppose the
EU’s fiscal austerity, their
cultural and political
differences appear
irreconcilable. They are
against mass immigration,
but the right wants
deportations and a
crackdown, while Five Star
wants humanitarian
corridors, managed
migration and aid for Africa.
Despite their common
scorn for the old way of doing
things, the rivals are engaged
in backroom talks, seeking
the eternally flexible
allegiances so dear to the
Italian political class. While
the League fears betrayal by
some of Berlusconi’s MPs,
Five Star could find support
in the fractured ranks of the
defeated centre-left.
One tactical element is that
while Salvini is the
undoubted boss of his own
party, Di Maio is not the
master of Five Star. His party
sprang from the imagination
of Beppe Grillo, a foulmouthed comedian with a
conviction for manslaughter.
Grillo migrated from the
fringes to the centre of
Beppe Grillo was a counterculture comedy star on
Italian state television in the
1980s who — after being
banished from the screen
when his satire offended too
many powerful figures —
turned himself into a
one-man political
movement with a single
memorable slogan,
“Vaffanculo” — or, to put it
politely, “eff off”.
It grew into the Five Star
Movement, drawing
disillusioned young voters
into a web-based grassroots
political machine opposed
to the Italian establishment.
At 69, the bearded guru
remains Five Star’s
“guarantor” and inspiration
— but he had to step back
from frontline politics as his
movement grew into one of
the most potent in Europe.
For all his charisma, Grillo
could not stand for office
because he was convicted
of manslaughter over a 1981
car crash in which two of his
friends and their young son
died. The car in which they
were travelling skidded on
ice and fell into a ravine, but
Grillo managed to escape.
He still exercises a
cult-like influence over his
creation. This weekend he
posted a blog of himself
drawing runes in the sand
on a beach to sketch the
outlines of Italy’s next
Neither the
right nor
Five Star can
govern alone
politics when he teamed up
with a technical visionary,
Gianroberto Casaleggio, to
devise an internet-based
grassroots movement. Their
partnership has been called
environmentalist, utopian,
Eurosceptic (because it
distrusts institutions), proKremlin (because it dislikes
western imperialism) and
anti-globalist. It has also been
compared to a cult.
According to Italian media
reports and party dissidents,
the Casaleggio company
controls the computer
servers that operate Five
Star’s software and polling.
Casaleggio died two years
ago and Five Star appears to
be run behind the scenes by
his son, Davide, 42, a web
entrepreneur who, like Grillo,
rarely submits to questioning
in public or on television.
The duo picked Di Maio to
front the party. He was duly
elected by a large majority of
votes — cast through
Casaleggio’s servers. But the
young southerner may have
eclipsed his patrons. After
five years as deputy speaker
of parliament, he cuts a
reassuring figure, needing
neither rosaries nor profanity
to reach out to the voters.
It now falls to Italy’s
president, Sergio Mattarella,
to decide who forms the next
government of the country
with the third largest
economy in the eurozone.
Some in Brussels and
Rome are praying he will find
a way to leave the populists
behind. But that, to many
Italian voters, would be
in exchange for recordings she claimed
were proof of “crymes [sic] by the
Russian government”. She claims that
she has up to 18 hours of recordings.
She posted several live Instagram
videos appealing for help, one apparently shot on Tuesday as she was driven
in an open-topped police van through
Pattaya. “I am the only witness and the
missing link in the connection between
Russia and the US elections — the long
chain of Oleg Deripaska, Prikhodko, Manafort and Trump,” she wrote.
Paul Manafort is Trump’s former election campaign manager and a former
business partner of Deripaska. He is facing charges in America brought by Robert
Mueller, the special counsel investigating
Russian interference in the 2016 election.
“In exchange for help from US intelligence services and a guarantee of my
safety, I am prepared to provide the
necessary information to America or to
Europe or to the country which can buy
me out of Thai prison,” Rybka added.
On the same day as she posted her
messages, one of Russia’s most important
security officials, Nikolai Patrushev, was
in Bangkok. Novosti, Russia’s state news
agency, reported that he held talks about
the security of Russian tourists.
Rybka claims to have recordings that
include discussions about the 2016 elections, but no proof that she can provide
new information for Mueller’s investigation. At the same time, she cannot be
easily dismissed.
Navalny’s video includes a recording
he had found on her Instagram account
of Deripaska in conversation with
Prikhodko as well as photographs of the
two men with her on the yacht.
Navalny speculates in it that Deripaska
and Prikhodko may have been a link
between the Kremlin and the Trump
campaign in 2016. Manafort was
reported to have offered Deripaska
“private briefings” about the Trump
campaign. Financial records show that
companies controlled by Manafort owed
millions of dollars to Deripaska.
Deripaska has said that Navalny’s allegations had “nothing to do with reality”.
He is reportedly suing Rybka for violating
his privacy. A court has ordered Instagram to remove some of her posts.
Some dismiss Rybka as a self-publicist.
Her real name is Anastasia Vashukevich
and she is from Belarus, not Russia. Last
year she produced a book, The Seduction
of a Billionaire, in which Deripaska
figures as “Ruslan” and Prikhodko as
“Daddy”. She appeared on chat shows
and, semi-naked, in bizarre street protests. One was in support of Harvey Weinstein, the disgraced US film producer.
“I think the American special services
do not really understand who she is, what
it is and what to do with it, if she is a
source to be trusted,” said Sergei Aleksashenko, a Moscow political analyst.
Meanwhile, Rybka is growing tired of
imprisonment. She has complained of
being ill, saying she is being held in a cell
with 100 women and only three lavatories. A Thai official had asked her to sign a
paper saying she believed she would be
safe in Russia. She refused.
Russia’s Paris Hilton now wants to be
president, Style, pages 38-39
The Sunday Times March 11, 2018
Mrs May must show Russia
that she is an Iron Lady too
he attempted murder of a
former Russian spy and his
daughter in Salisbury, using a
nerve agent, was shocking. It
was correctly described by the
security minister, Ben Wallace,
as a reckless and brazen crime
committed on British soil. A
policeman who came to the aid of Sergei
Skripal and his daughter has been recovering in hospital. Police say 21 people have
been assessed or treated for exposure to
the deadly nerve agent. The finger of
blame points firmly towards Moscow.
What should be done? In her speech to
the lord mayor’s banquet last November,
the prime minister ran through the charge
sheet against Russia. It included the illegal
annexation of Crimea — the first time since
the Second World War that a sovereign
nation in Europe has forcibly taken
territory from another — together with
Russia’s fomenting of conflict in the
Donbass, Ukraine; its repeated violation
of the national airspace of European
countries and its sustained campaign of
cyber-espionage and disruption, including meddling in elections.
Mrs May’s “simple message for Russia”
was forthright. “We know what you are
doing,” she said. “And you will not
succeed. Because you underestimate the
resilience of our democracies . . . The UK
will do what is necessary to protect ourselves and work with our allies to do
If Russia is behind the Salisbury attack,
as seems highly likely, then no amount of
fine rhetoric from the prime minister,
or thumping of the dispatch box by
the foreign secretary, will make any
difference. Britain will have been
exposed, once more, as a soft touch.
The prime minister has exasperated
cabinet colleagues with what has so far
been a softly-softly approach. It is suspected that she, like her predecessors,
would rather this kind of thing went away.
Britain’s response to the murder of
Alexander Litvinenko on British soil in
2006 was feeble. Tony Blair, who took the
country to war against Iraq partly on the
grounds of the threat from chemical
weapons, made a minimum of fuss when a
real chemical weapon was deployed in
our capital. When Mrs May was home
secretary, she failed to up the ante, too.
The Russians think we have gone soft
since the days of Margaret Thatcher,
whom they dubbed “The Iron Lady”.
Moscow must be disabused. Diplomats
should be expelled, particularly those
known to be working for the security
services — the more the merrier, the more
high ranking the better.
Money talks. Bill Browder, the former
fund manager in Russia who has emerged
as one of Vladimir Putin’s fiercest critics in
the West, believes the government
already has the legal tools to seize property and other assets owned by Russian
officials and government-connected
oligarchs in London. If the law needs tightening, as in an amendment to the
Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering
Bill, it should be hurried through.
The government cannot afford to do
nothing. This has all the hallmarks of a
state-sponsored terrorist attack on British
soil, causing injury and alarm beyond
those targeted. If the perpetrators are not
punished, governments from Beijing to
Brussels will note the “Kick Me” sign we
have placed on our back.
There’s good borrowing and
bad borrowing, chancellor
It will, according to the Treasury, be a
stocktaking exercise. Philip Hammond’s
spring statement on Tuesday is expected
to be brief, 15 minutes or so, presenting
and taking note of new official economic
and fiscal forecasts from the Office for
Budget Responsibility. Though the economic news last week was mixed, those
forecasts will be for lower borrowing and
slightly stronger growth than was
expected in November.
This is good news, and the chancellor
will be entitled to strike a mildly celebratory tone. When the Tories returned to
office in 2010 in the coalition, the initial
target was to eliminate the current budget
deficit: borrowing to fund day-to-day
spending. That has been achieved, if
about three years later than intended.
There are, however, some other things
that Mr Hammond should do. He should
be more explicit on his ambitions for the
public finances. His predecessor, George
Osborne, was clear when he left office that
the aim should be a budget surplus by the
end of the decade; paying down the debt.
The new targets, a so-called structural
deficit of less than 2% of gross domestic
product by 2020-21 and debt falling as a
percentage of GDP, are neither one thing
nor the other. The government is in a
no-man’s land between the fiscal incontinence Labour would bring and the balanced budgets — and surpluses in good
times — favoured by fiscal conservatives.
Second, and notwithstanding this, the
chancellor should try to educate voters
and financial markets that there is good
and bad borrowing. Borrowing to cover
everyday expenditure is bad. Borrowing
at low interest rates to rebuild the
country’s infrastructure is good. If Britain
is to succeed in the 21st century it needs
more and better infrastructure. If the government is to get anywhere near its target
of 300,000 new homes a year, councils
and housing associations will need to
build many more houses. Under Mr Osborne the distinction between good and
bad borrowing was rarely made. It should
be, and the City would be sympathetic.
Finally, Mr Hammond should use the
opportunity to be honest about the
challenges the country faces, not just
from Brexit but from the demographics of
an ageing population. Chancellors are
conditioned to emphasise good news and
giveaways. This week, if the advance billing is accurate, there will be no significant
tax or spending announcements. There is
thus an opportunity to be clear about
these challenges.
The latest evidence from the National
Audit Office on pressures faced by many
local authorities in meeting social care
obligations suggests targeted increases in
revenue will be needed. In others, policy
may have to adjust to changed circumstances. Continually raising personal
income tax allowances or permanently
freezing fuel duty do not look like sustainable policies. Neither, when many more
people keep working beyond state pension age, does ending national insurance
contributions at that age. Sound public
finances do not arise by accident. The
chancellor should be honest about the
tough choices needed to achieve them.
Mum’s not the word
Today is Mother’s Day, and we can only
apologise. There are people, we must
acknowledge, who are not mothers — or
do not self-identify as mothers — and may
feel excluded from the celebrations.
With this in mind, Waitrose has been
selling a range of Happy You Day cards for
transgender mothers, while some schools
have encouraged children to celebrate
Special Person’s Day — at the obvious risk
of offending non-special persons.
We seem to have reached a stage where
any formal celebration runs the risk of
annoying those who are not being
celebrated. What can we do?
The obvious answer is to celebrate
everybody, all the time, to ensure nobody
is left out, even though this will alienate
people who don’t like a fuss. Or we could
rebrand. So in that spirit we wish you a
very Happy People of Any Gender or
Indeed No Gender Who Identify as Mothers or Carry Out a Recognised Mothering
Function Day. Isn’t life complicated?
Dominic Lawson
Let’s hit Putin where it
hurts — in the pocket
Russia rightly treats an acquiescent UK with contempt. It wasn’t always so
ow they are trolling us. Against a
backdrop of a map of the UK with a
sort of hazard sign on it, a presenter
on Russia’s state-controlled Channel
One advised “traitors”: “I don’t wish
death on anyone, but for purely
educational purposes I have a
warning for anyone who dreams
of such a career . . . Don’t choose Britain as a
place to live.”
In the wake of the nerve agent attack on
Sergei Skripal in Salisbury, those tuning into
our very own BBC got a similar message from
Russia’s ambassador to Ireland: “The British
territories are very dangerous for certain types
of people who are under the jurisdiction of the
British government.” Those “certain types of
people” are any Russian intelligence officer
who has decided to work for Britain.
Unfortunately, there may be collateral
damage. In the case of Skripal, a former officer
in the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence
service, that includes his daughter, Yulia, and
Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey of Salisbury
CID. And when, in 2006, Alexander Litvinenko
was fatally poisoned, polonium contamination
was found throughout the bar of the London
hotel where the lethal dose, obtained from a
Russian state nuclear facility, was administered
— as it was on a number of British Airways
planes used by the assassins. More than 700
people were tested for radioactive poisoning.
So it’s not just “traitors” put at risk by such
actions, but any Britons who happen to be in
proximity to the scene of the crime. And the
British media that refer to Litvinenko and
Skripal as “Russian spies” miss the point. As
the Russian embassy in London helpfully
observed in a tweet, Skripal “was actually a
British spy working for MI6” (note its optimistic
use of the past tense). Litvinenko, too, was a
British subject at the time of his murder.
Not that Theresa May was anxious to make
much of that when, as home secretary, she did
her utmost to block a judge-led inquiry into
that astonishingly reckless assassination. It was
only when Litvinenko’s widow, Marina,
successfully mounted a High Court challenge to
May’s decision that Sir Robert Owen was able
to conduct his inquiry — which concluded the
murder was “probably” ordered by the Russian
president, Vladimir Putin. To be fair, May was
no weaker than the previous Labour
government had been. In 2007, the year after
Litvinenko was poisoned, the British security
services intercepted a Russian who had flown
here from Moscow, charged with the task of
assassinating Boris Berezovsky, an (unlovely)
enemy of Putin resident in Surrey — now
deceased. This would-be assassin was merely
deported and banned from returning to the UK
for 10 years.
So, if it were the Kremlin that commissioned
the nerve gas attack in Salisbury (fulfilling
Putin’s promise, when Skripal was pardoned
and released from a Russian jail as part of a
captured spy exchange in 2010, that traitors
would “kick the bucket”), it could not be
blamed for calculating there would be no great
fuss from the British government.
In fact, Downing Street should definitely
refrain from any immediate action — and not
just because the police’s anti-terrorism unit
and experts at the Porton Down chemical and
biological research facility have got more
detection to do. The first round of the Russian
presidential election takes place in a week’s
time, and it would fit beautifully with Putin’s
campaign theme that the West is out to “get”
Russia if Downing Street were to take radical
action against Moscow in the next few days.
But should the evidence overwhelmingly
point to a Russian state attack in Salisbury, it
would be derelict of our government’s
fundamental duty if it did not make President
Putin reconsider the wisdom of his actions — if
only pour décourager.
The airwaves have been full of recently
retired British diplomats explaining that the
“cupboard is bare” in terms of sanctions that
might achieve such an outcome: which only
made this listener realise just how feeble our
institutions of government have become — and
how right Putin is to treat them with contempt.
So instead, I sought the views of an official of
a much older vintage, who had advised
Margaret Thatcher on such matters. He in turn
referred me to a period before his own
involvement, when, in 1971, a KGB defector
revealed to the then British foreign secretary,
Sir Alec Douglas-Home, the extent of the
It is long overdue that
we follow our
Anglophone allies
Russians’ hostile intelligence operations in the
UK. After the Soviet foreign minister, Andrei
Gromyko, contemptuously refused to discuss
the matter with him, Douglas-Home kicked out
all 105 members of the GRU and KGB
“establishment” at the London embassy. And
added that any replacements would have to be
at the expense of remaining staff in the
embassy. The Kremlin was furious,
complaining bitterly at the “hooligan-like acts”
of the British government. How rude. But it
behaved less insouciantly in London thereafter.
We should do something similar now — as
our security services know the identities of all
the GRU and FSB officers at the London
embassy. Only this time we should publicly
identify them, both their real and cover names.
Minus perhaps two of them, just to make
Moscow wonder why we have chosen not to
expel those ones.
There is an additional response, which
conveniently would gel with legislation now
coming up to the report stage in the House of
Commons. A number of MPs have already
backed an amendment to the Sanctions and
Anti-Money Laundering Bill, to give the
government executive power to freeze the UKbased assets (such as houses in Belgravia) of
individuals suspected of “gross human rights
abuses”, and also to cancel their visas. This has
been termed “the Magnitsky amendment”, as it
mirrors measures introduced by America and
Canada in response to the Kremlin’s protection
of officials who stole an estimated £140m in
taxes owed to the state by a company that
employed Sergei Magnitsky as a lawyer. When
he refused, under torture, to confess to the
crime himself, he was beaten to death.
As the firm for which Magnitsky worked
is managed by a British subject, William
Browder, it is long overdue that we follow our
Anglophone allies in this matter. Because its
principal target is the mafia class that exists in a
mutual and massively profitable protection
racket with the Kremlin, Putin, capo di tutti
capi, dreads and loathes this measure.
When the Kremlin-linked lawyer Natalia
Veselnitskaya had a now-notorious meeting
with Donald Trump’s son, Donald Jr, during the
US presidential campaign, her only demand of
a future Trump presidency was that it end the
Magnitsky sanctions. So it’s obviously time we
started them.
The spy who came into the cul-de-sac,
News Review, pages 26-27
Sarah Baxter
A red-hot civil war is raging
for control of Corbyn’s No 10
Communists have joined the hard-left factions vying to exploit a hollow Dear Leader
omrades! A historic decision was
taken last week at a meeting of the
Communist Party of Britain just a day
or so after the Russian spy, Sergei
Skripal, and his daughter were
poisoned in Salisbury. The party has
thrown the full force of its numbers —
well, all of its 800 members — behind
Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party. Speaking on
behalf of the party, Susan Michie declared that
it would not be contesting seats at the next
election because it would be working “full tilt”
to strengthen “organic” ties to a “left-led
Labour government”.
Why worry about such a tiny membership of
communists who regard themselves as the
vanguard of a Labour revolution? Just as Lenin
had to rush back by sealed train from Zurich to
St Petersburg to seize command of the Russian
Revolution from moderate socialists after the
hard work of overthrowing the tsar had been
done, so these latter-day Bolsheviks are
determined to exploit Corbyn’s unexpected
success and seize control in Downing Street.
They are not alone: hard-leftists, trade
unionists and Momentum activists are fighting
like cats in a sack to control the levers of the
Labour Party and grab the spoils of victory
before anything has been won at the ballot box.
Luckily for the Tories, the far left is so addicted
to factionalism and squabbling that the
“masses” — the voters, to you and me — may
never reward these pocket revolutionaries with
the power they believe they so richly deserve.
“Organically”, the communists are already
astonishingly well-represented in the top
echelons of the Labour Party, which is fast
becoming a family-run affair. Michie was
famous when I was at university for being a
no-holds-barred Soviet sympathiser known as
“Stalin’s nanny”. Her brother, the economist
Jonathan Michie, was the best friend of Seumas
Milne, now Labour’s director of strategy and
communications, neither of whom made any
secret of their pro-Soviet leanings.
Susan Michie went on to marry (and divorce)
Milne’s other great ally, Andrew Murray, the
chief of staff of Unite, who only recently quit
the Communist Party for Labour. The anti-EU,
blue-blooded descendant of an earl was hired
last month by Corbyn as a consultant on Brexit,
paid for by the union. Labour’s inner sanctum
has been well and truly penetrated.
Another Marxist with even more access to
power is John McDonnell, Labour’s shadow
chancellor, who employs Corbyn’s son Seb as
an adviser. (Imagine the fuss about nepotism
had George Osborne hired one of David
Cameron’s children!) In an interview in 2006,
McDonnell named the “most significant”
influences on his thought as “Marx, Lenin and
Trotsky, basically”. More recently, McDonnell
has been sauntering through the City breaking
bread with business and the CBI over Brexit
and giving an interview to the Financial Times
in which he talked about companies “looking
to [Labour] for security” in an uncertain world.
At this point, I imagine, he had a sharkish grin.
I had seen McDonnell speak a few weeks
earlier at a crowded gathering of grizzled
leftists at Westminster, who for years had been
addressing empty rooms and couldn’t believe
their luck. “I’m not a believer in miracles, but
this is near a bloody miracle,” McDonnell said.
“This is the chance some of us have waited a
lifetime for. We’re going to seize that chance.”
Aren’t they all? Look no further for the
reason for the fierce infighting under way over
the appointment of a new Labour Party general
secretary. A post nobody used to give two figs
about, yet which could control the party
Labour’s inner
sanctum has been well
and truly penetrated
machine, has become the site of bitter warfare
between the founder of Momentum and
champion of people’s power, Jon Lansman,
and trade union muscle, represented by Unite’s
candidate Jennie Formby (a former lover of the
union’s boss, “Red Len” McCluskey).
Battle commenced only a fortnight ago and
will end when Labour’s national executive
committee (NEC) anoints the victor in 10 days’
time, yet casualties are already littering the
field. Christine Shawcroft, a director of
Momentum and NEC member, furiously
declared last week: “Nothing would induce me
to support a candidate from a major trade
union; they stick it to the rank and file
members time after time after time.” But in a
foretaste of the show trials to come, she was
forced to recant and delete her comments on
Facebook after a heavy bout of re-education.
Lansman, meanwhile, has gone from hero
of the Corbynistas to agent of Zionism for
daring to challenge the union-approved
candidate. Even Formby felt obliged to come to
Lansman’s defence, tweeting that “antisemitic” attacks on him were “disgraceful and
must stop”. But when the Dear Leader himself
turns out to have belonged to Palestine Live, a
closed group on Facebook with links to
Holocaust deniers, conspiracy theories about
the Rothschilds and lies about an Israeli
involvement in the 9/11 attacks, it is impossible
not to see an ugly pattern of anti-semitism on
the far left.
Corbyn, conveniently, left the Facebook
group around the time he became Labour
leader. He claims not to have noticed the vilest
posts. “Had I seen it, of course I would have
challenged it straight away,” he said last week.
His absurd “Monsieur Zen” guise — never
seeing what is in front of his nose — is central to
his appeal with millennials but has tempted the
infighters to treat him as an empty vessel who
can be controlled. It may yet be his downfall.
The more the “struggle” intensifies between
comrades on the left, the less the “masses” are
likely to see him as prime ministerial material.
The Sunday Times March 11, 2018
Not secretary —
home secretary
The Home Office was very busy
hunting for Russian assassins last
week, but officials still found time for
much more important work on
Thursday — celebrating women.
An all-day event to mark
International Women’s Day began with
a look back at 100 years of women in
the civil service, followed by a talk on
“gender parity” and then “tips on
body language”.
A bowler-hatted source tells me: “It
wasn’t compulsory, but we were
strongly urged to attend.” Staff at
Defra and the ministry of housing,
communities and local government
also staged their own events.
Women have held the job of home
secretary since 2007, when Labour’s
Jacqui Smith got the job, except for
11 months when Alan Johnson
managed to slip in unnoticed. Typical
of the oppressive patriarchy.
Stop shooting your
mouth off, Bob
Buy prints or signed copies of Morten Morland’s cartoons from our Print Gallery at
President Vladimir Putin says he won’t hesitate
to cause a “global catastrophe” in retaliation for
a nuclear strike on his country
Niall Ferguson
Sorry, ref: Trump rules
by breaking the rules
“It’s fantastic — she’s never
at home”
The president’s alarming steps on North Korea and tariffs might just work
“Why do we need a world if
Russia ceases to exist?”
The home secretary, Amber Rudd, reveals the
reaction of her son, on being asked if he was
proud when his mother became an MP
“Together we have
laughed. Together we
have cried”
Princess Beatrice reveals how she and her sister,
Eugenie, have coped with life in the public eye
“We are cutting the throat
of whiteness”
Julius Malema, the leader of South Africa’s
Economic Freedom Fighters party, campaigns
to remove a city mayor because the official
is white
“Put the kettle on, I’m
bringing Oscar home”
Gary Oldman’s message to his 98-year-old
mother on receiving the best actor gong at last
week’s Academy Awards
am a middle-class Scotsman, so at
school I played rugby, not soccer. One
day, a new scholarship boy arrived at
The Glasgow Academy. He was
precociously tall for his age. His
working-class roots had given him an
aptitude for both verbal and physical
violence. He walked with a swagger we
looked upon with awe. This magnificent
specimen’s only defect was that he knew not
a single one of the rules of rugby.
In the course of his first appearance in the
school’s colours, however, he swiftly proved
that this ignorance was no handicap. So large
was he, and so aggressive, that all we had to
do was give him the ball and point him in the
right direction. He broke rule after rule. He
passed forward. He tackled high. He tackled
off the ball. For all of this he was penalised. It
didn’t matter. Every time he got the ball, he
scored. I can still remember the splendid
sight of his rampaging towards the other
side’s try-line, trampling defenders
underfoot — utterly unstoppable.
I learnt an important lesson that day. It is
that, while the rules may apply to us all, they
do not constrain us all equally.
I have been reminded of my old schoolfriend by the latest antics of President
Donald Trump. Over the past week — indeed,
over the past year — Trump has broken one
political rule after another. “When I signed
up to be a conservative,” an eminent
Washington think-tanker said to me on
Thursday, “I thought conservatism stood for
free trade, fiscal responsibility and personal
character.” He might have added firmness
towards dictators.
In fairness to Trump, he is not the first
Republican president to impose tariffs on
imports, to run a very large budget deficit,
and to agree to meet a Communist tyrant.
(I’m pretty sure he’s the first to be sued by a
porn star, but let’s leave Stormy Daniels out
of this.) Both Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford
imposed tariffs in the name of national
security. Both Ronald Reagan and George W
Bush ran substantial fiscal deficits. And if
Trump goes to Pyongyang, there will be an
unmistakeable echo of Nixon’s famous trip
to Beijing in 1972.
Nevertheless, there is a near-universal
consensus among political commentators
that Trump is breaking all the rules. By
announcing tariffs of 25% on steel imports
and 10% on aluminium, he not only will hurt
all those sectors of the US economy that
depend on those imports, but also risks
plunging the world into a protectionist trade
war, destroying the liberal international
order so carefully constructed by American
statesmen since 1945.
By agreeing to meet with the North
Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, he is falling
into a trap other presidents were prudent
enough to avoid, for Kim will claim a
diplomatic victory — “See! The dotard treats
me as an equal!” — and then cheat on any
deal, as his father did in the 1990s.
To seasoned observers of Washington life,
this really is a shocking way to run an
administration. Most shocking of all is not so
much the policy as the way it gets made.
Gary Cohn’s departure last week as Trump’s
chief economic adviser was just the latest of
a succession of exits from the White House.
This is not the way it’s supposed to work. By
year two of any administration, the adults
are supposed to have taken charge.
Yet these commentators increasingly
remind me of the rugby referees of my
schooldays, blowing their whistles in
impotent exasperation as the tallest player
on the field ran amok.
To give Trump his due, he is capable of
self-mockery. His speech at last weekend’s
Gridiron Club dinner might equally well
have been delivered by Alec Baldwin, whose
career has been relaunched by his Trump
impersonation on Saturday Night Live.
“I won’t rule out direct talks with Kim
Jong-un,” said Trump, “I just won’t. As far as
the risk of dealing with a madman is
concerned, that’s his problem not mine.”
He also had some fun at his son-in-law’s
expense. “I wanted to apologise for running
a little bit late,” he began, “because Jared
could not get through the security.”
And Trump contrasted his current job
with his previous role as host of The
Apprentice: “In one job I had to manage a
cut-throat cast of characters, desperate for
TV time, totally unprepared for their roles
and their jobs and each week afraid of having
their asses fired, and the other job I was the
host of a smash television hit.
“So many people have been leaving the
The commentators
are like rugby
referees impotently
blowing their
whistles as the
tallest player on the
field runs amok
White House,” the president went on, “it’s
been exciting and invigorating . . . I like
chaos. So, who’s going to be the next to
leave? Steve Miller, or Melania?”
Here is a man who glories in breaking the
rules, because that is how he rules.
Notice, too, that in the middle of this
comedy routine, Trump revealed exactly
what he was planning to do on North Korea.
“By the way,” he told his audience, “a couple
days ago they said, ‘We would like to talk,’
and I said, ‘So would we, but you have to denuke, you have to de-nuke.’ So let’s see what
happens . . . We will be meeting and we’ll see
if anything positive happens.” Not a single
news outlet got the joke that this wasn’t a
joke. Not until Thursday, when the South
Koreans announced that Trump really had
agreed to meet with Little Rocket Man did
the penny drop. So much for fake news. He
gave them real news — and they all missed it.
Of course, this could all end in just the
kind of train-wreck-plus-dumpster-fire
predicted ad nauseam by the president’s
critics. But consider, if you dare, what a
future historian might one day write:
“President Trump had no experience of
foreign affairs, but he soon grasped how
disastrously his predecessor had bungled
the North Korean nuclear threat. He applied
sustained pressure on Pyongyang, directly
through new UN-mandated sanctions, and
indirectly by menacing China with threats of
military action or a trade war.
“In March 2018 he stepped up the
pressure by announcing new tariffs on steel
and aluminium imports. These tariffs would
have hurt America’s allies more than China,
but Beijing got the message. Xi Jinping was
well aware a trade war directed by the US
against China would hurt China much more
than the US, potentially reducing Chinese
exports to America by as much as 20%.
“The president’s critics were stunned by
the subsequent US–North Korean Strategic
Arms Limitation Treaty, signed in Pyongyang
in 2019, and utterly dumbfounded by the
2020 Chinese–American Trade Agreement,
which committed China to eliminate the
bilateral trade deficit by the end of his
second presidential term.”
Could it happen? I know it seems fanciful
— and will be dismissed by some readers as
an indefensible defence of a rule-breaking
ruler. But, as I said, Nixon imposed a 10%
tariff on nearly all imports in August 1971. He
went to Beijing in February 1972. And he
won a landslide victory in November of that
same year.
Rules are there to be broken, in diplomacy
as much as in rugby.
Niall Ferguson is the Milbank Family senior
fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford
Tory MP Bob Stewart has appeared
to back Donald Trump’s suggestion
that teachers in American schools be
armed, even though the former soldier
says he personally dislikes guns. “It
might be something that should be
considered,” he says.
What courage. Not just the way he
charged headlong into controversy by
failing to dodge a tricky question, but
because he was speaking on RT UK, a
television service funded by the
Russian government — not our best
chums in recent times.
Has the affable colonel quite got the
hang of modern politics?
l David Steel, who led the Liberal
Party into the sunlit uplands of the
Liberal Democrats, has revealed that
he accidentally gatecrashed a
stranger’s funeral. “I went along to the
Borders Crematorium to attend a
neighbour’s funeral,” Lord Steel told
The Oldie magazine, “but on looking at
the order of service, I realised to my
embarrassment that I’d got my date
wrong.” His tip now is always to sit at
the back during a funeral so you can
slip out unnoticed. Unless, of course,
it’s your own.
l Labour’s Kate Hoey is calling for all
shops to be shut by law to mark this
year’s Remembrance Sunday, which
falls on 11 November, exactly 100 years
since the end of the First World War.
“There is a prima facie case for a
one-off retail closure on that day to
enhance the peace and decorum
inherent in Remembrance Sunday,”
says a Commons motion submitted by
the former sports minister. However,
she also suggests it would be a chance
for MPs to rise above their “daily
political divides”. Oh well, a good idea
while it lasted.
l Campaigns for a St George’s Day
bank holiday have always been
doomed to failure, but might we have
better luck with another great national
figure — Phillip Schofield? “He is the
TV legend that we never asked for but
were blessed with by the gods,” says
Philip Schofield Day campaigner Olivia
Bishop. “It’s only right to celebrate his
coming into the world every year.” At
the time of writing, 286 people had
signed her petition.
l Businesses in Salisbury are making
the most of the city’s notoriety as a
previously untapped venue for
international espionage. After the
attack on Russian defector Sergei
Skripal, one of the city’s Indian
restaurants is advertising itself under
the slogan: “Poison-free zone.” Is that
quite the spirit?
The Sunday Times March 11, 2018
Adam Boulton
Captain Hammond fixes his eye on the
horizon while local councils drown
o red box, no official
document, no spending
increases, no tax
changes.” The Treasury
official probably
regretted leaving out “no
fun”. The chancellor has
decided there is no need
for two big financial statements each
year. Big adjustments must await the
budget proper in late autumn; this
Tuesday he aims to get what little he has
to say off his chest in less than 20
For Philip Hammond greyness is the
point. He does not want to do anything
exciting. The chancellor will resist calls
from Labour, from Conservative
councils and even from some Tory MPs
for “an end to austerity”. Calls that have
become almost deafening since the
Office for National Statistics announced
this month that the UK has at last hit
George Osborne’s target, albeit two
years late, and is no longing borrowing
to spend on a daily basis.
The national debt is still at record
levels and the economy is a long way
from the sunlit uplands, but this break in
the clouds has emboldened Hammond’s
Labour opposite number, John
McDonnell, to launch his most explicit
ideological attack yet on the
government’s economic strategy.
“Austerity was always a political
choice, not an economic necessity,” the
shadow chancellor declared this
weekend in his pre-emptive attack,
castigating Hammond for being a
member of the 2010 cabinet that “made
the political choice to give tax breaks to
the wealthy and large corporations while
depriving our economy of the
investment it needed”.
McDonnell, of course, was not in the
Labour cabinet two years before that
when Alistair Darling proposed an
austerity package remarkably similar to
the one the coalition and Conservative
governments ended up following.
The man who would be Jeremy
Corbyn’s chancellor plans a radical
departure from the economic policies
followed under David Cameron, Theresa
May and Gordon Brown “as we enter
government”, as he put it confidently in
recent interviews. McDonnell says he
would give councils £2bn for childcare
services on top of Labour’s extra
spending commitments for the NHS,
schools, students, welfare and
renationalisation. This would all be paid
for “with the reversal of the cut in the
bank levy and the reversal of the £70bn
of planned cuts to corporation taxes,
and taxes paid largely by the super-rich
like capital gains tax”.
Their tax-and-spend plans differ
completely yet there is something that
unites past governments and the one
Corbyn plans to lead. None really
addresses the part of government hit
hardest by austerity: local government.
Last week the National Audit Office
(NAO) reported that local authorities
have suffered cuts in funding from
central government of a staggering 49.1%
since 2010, totalling about £16bn.
They get four-fifths of funding directly
from the Treasury. The remainder
comes from council tax, paid locally but
with increases capped by central
government. In all, the NAO says
councils have suffered a 28.6% cut in
real-term spending power this decade,
while demand on services has increased
steadily. The revenue support grant to
councils is due to fall much further, from
£7.2bn in 2016-17 to £2.3bn 2019-20.
Whatever their political colour,
councils are hitting the panic button.
The chancellor’s leafy constituency of
Runnymede and Weybridge lies in
Surrey. Mike Hodges, the Tory county
council leader there, has reportedly
appealed to the government “not to
stand idly by while Rome burns”. Tory
Northamptonshire has in effect declared
bankruptcy by reducing services to
statutory obligations only.
Not surprisingly, nearly all councils in
England, Wales and Scotland plan to
raise council tax this April, most by the
maximum 2.99% permitted by the
communities secretary, Sajid Javid,
The revenue
support grant to
councils is to fall
further. Whatever
their political
colour, councils
are hitting the
panic button
unless they want to hold a referendum
for a further increase. And 152 bigger
councils, including the London
boroughs and metropolitan authorities,
can impose a further 3% “precept” if it is
earmarked for social care.
These increases will not be enough to
plug the yawning gap in council
finances, which is predicted to be £5bn
by 2020. Just to maintain the current
reduced level of service, many councils
are using up their reserves. Lord Porter
That’s not Nimbyism,
that’s democracy
The housing secretary, Sajid
Javid, doesn’t understand the
concepts of democracy and
sustainable development
(“Crackdown on Nimby
councils”, News, last week).
Javid’s solution to the housing
problem is to insult, and
power-grab from, local
councils whose decisions are
a democratic response to the
wishes of their electorate.
Instead of dismissing local
people with genuine concerns
as “Nimbys”, he should
engage with them. And rather
than berating councils for not
producing development
plans, he should acknowledge
that many have produced
reasonable ones, only to have
them thrown out by the
Rachael Webb, Buckingham
Build the new amid the old
In your interview last Sunday,
Javid revealed plans for “five
new garden towns and
A safe future for
refugee families
For most of us, family is the
centre of our lives, providing
the love and support we need
to succeed. Yet refugees who
have been torn apart from
their families by war and
persecution continue to be
separated from loved ones
because of the UK’s existing
refugee policy.
We know it is far more
likely that refugees will be
able to integrate, and
contribute to the society that
gave them shelter, if their
families are with them. Yet
parents are being kept apart
from young adult children
who still need them and
children are being kept apart
from the parents they still
This Friday the Refugees
(Family Reunion) Bill will
have its second reading in the
House of Commons. This bill
Cold War spy
made amends
Your revelations about David
Floyd (“Unmasked: the Daily
Telegraph reporter who spied
for Moscow”, News, February
25) make no mention of the
man he became after
admitting his actions before
1951. He told the authorities
he wanted to clear his
conscience and begin anew.
He did so. I knew him for 30
years: he was generous
(especially to the émigré
community of Russians and
villages” in the Oxford-Milton
Keynes-Cambridge corridor.
Once again, it looks as if the
government has defaulted to
the easy option of proposing
greenfield development,
rather than thinking more
closely about how to make
the most of existing places.
Opening up greenfield
development will starve
existing towns of investment
and intensity, create a
bonanza of land speculation,
fuel car-based urban sprawl
and worsen climate change.
We need to build new
towns within our existing
settlements, and we need
accountable authorities to
take a lead in planning and
Volume housebuilders may
or may not be good at
building; but they should not
be planning the future of our
towns and cities.
Lord Rogers of Riverside
London EC3
would allow a wider range of
family members to be
reunited with refugees in the
UK. It would also reintroduce
legal aid so that refugees who
have lost everything can
afford to navigate the
complicated process of being
reunited with their families.
As organisations working
with and for refugees in the
UK, we wholeheartedly
support this bill’s aims. These
people have lost their homes,
been separated from their
families and all that they
know. We urge MPs to give
refugees the chance to
rebuild so they can have safe,
happy futures together.
Maurice Wren, chief executive,
Refugee Council; Gonzalo
Vargas Llosa, UNHCR
representative to the UK; Mike
Adamson, chief executive,
British Red Cross; Kate Allen,
director, Amnesty
International UK. For a full list
of this letter’s 15 signatories,
east Europeans), a scholar
(he translated into English
Russian novels by fierce
critics of the Soviet Union,
including Aleksandr
Solzhenitsyn and Anatoly
Kuznetsov) and furthered the
security interests of the UK by
acting as translator for British
intelligence agencies when
significant Soviet figures
defected. David Floyd was a
patriotic Englishman and a
man I revered and loved. I
still do.
Ken Jowitt, Robson professor
of political science, emeritus,
University of California
of Spalding, Conservative leader of the
Local Government Association, claims
councils “will have to continue to cut
back services or stop some altogether”.
The theme of McDonnell’s spring
statement will be to “end the immediate
crisis in local government”. Labour’s
campaigning focus is shrewd — with
elections due on May 3 in London and
metropolitan boroughs — at least in the
short run. The Conservatives lost all five
of the council by-elections they were
defending last week, their worst result
under May’s leadership. Lord Ashcroft’s
latest poll says they are in for a drubbing
in London too.
Yet governing parties almost always
suffer bad council results in mid-term.
The chancellor is likely to have his eyes
fixed unflinchingly on a further horizon.
The next general election is not due until
2022. Political conventional wisdom
would not loosen the purse strings until
the last 18 months or so to maximise a
feel-good factor when it matters.
Building up a war chest for the Brexit
bump out of the EU also looks prudent.
In any case council power usually
spells trouble for the centre.
Momentum’s move on local government
is guaranteeing that the bitter divisions
in the Labour Party will not heal. Ken
Livingstone once sacked McDonnell for
setting an illegally high budget for the
Greater London council. Now
McDonnell thinks he is going to be
chancellor, he has no intention of
redressing the power imbalance that
favours central government.
The chancellor is unlikely to have
anything better than a sticking-plaster
answer to the structural crisis in local
government funding. But then nor does
his shadow. Tax receipts are up, growth
is positive and it is estimated Hammond
has at least £7bn more for spending than
he foresaw in his budget last November.
Spare cash has already been halfpromised to the NHS. Following the
Salisbury nerve agent attack, former
Labour foreign secretary Lord Owen has
joined the generals and Tory
backbenchers in calling for significant
increases in military spending.
Even McDonnell expects “a small
brag” by the chancellor about the
recovering national finances followed by
more “grand vision” about the
challenges of the internet age, ideas he
suggests have been stolen from Labour.
Hammond is due to revisit the “fourth
industrial revolution” themes of his last
budget, with reports due on artificial
intelligence and productivity.
Hammond has already set the
parameters for his spring statement. He
plans to stay in his comfort zone and be
as boring as possible. In the long run that
might just be enough.
The Sunday Times, 1 London Bridge Street, London SE1 9GF
Jake Arnott, novelist, 57
John Barrowman, actor, 51
Thora Birch, actress, 36
Didier Drogba, footballer,
David Gentleman, artist, 88
Alex Gregory, rower, 34
Tom James, rower, 34
Alex Kingston, actress, 55
Lord (Nigel) Lawson,
chancellor 1983-9, 86
Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen,
interior designer, 53
Rupert Murdoch, executive
chairman of News Corp and
21st Century Fox, 87
Jenny Packham, fashion
designer, 53
Shane Richie, actor, 54
Jack Rodwell, footballer, 27
Out by a four-minute mile
Jeremy Clarkson’s column
last week was hilarious, but
the timing was unfortunate
(“A proper lunch — that’s all
millennials need to stop
getting fat and miserable”,
News Review). He wrote:
“They say exercise stimulates
the mind, but they are wrong.
There are no very bright
athletes.” This was published
on the day that the death was
announced of the athlete and
consultant neurologist Sir
Roger Bannister, BCh, MRCS,
LRCP, who was knighted for
services to both sport and
Julian Lloyd, Chester
Sign of the times: Rachel Shenton accepted her Oscar using British Sign Language
Make signing a
GCSE subject
The film The Silent Child and
the Oscar it has won show
that when society, family and
government reach out to
support deaf children, there
is absolutely nothing they
cannot achieve.
An overwhelming 97% of
young people think British
Sign Language should be
Mosley is a threat
to democracy
I share Sarah Baxter’s
concern over what Max
Mosley is trying to do
(Comment, last week). I was
the manager of El Vino in
Fleet Street for 16 years and
developed a great admiration
for the British press (and their
ability to consume quantities
of alcohol). I later spent a
year in Belarus and saw at
first hand how the press can
be subjugated, controlled and
eventually destroyed.
Changing gender
requires doctors
The short-lived Labour Party
adviser on equality, Munroe
Bergdorf, stated that children
should be allowed to “choose
their gender” and supports
the government proposal to
update the Gender
Recognition Act to make it
easier to change gender
without a doctor’s approval
(“Let kids choose their own
gender — says trans Labour
adviser”, News, last week).
There are many complex
issues associated with this,
with one huge elephant in the
room. Gender transition, by
its nature, is a medicalised
process involving powerful
drugs, hormones and
ultimately extensive plastic
surgery, which Bergdorf
herself has undergone. So the
call for this process to be
“de-medicalised” is clearly
offered in schools. Not only
do young people across the
UK want it, but there is strong
cross-party support, as
shown by the passion and
commitment from MPs at the
debate on a British Sign
Language GCSE in parliament
on Monday.
Our prime minister said
last week that she was
captivated by The Silent Child
and the example it sets. Let’s
see these warm words
translated into action. The
Department for Education
must stop blocking a GCSE
the public and many
parliamentarians want.
Susan Daniels, OBE, chief
executive, National Deaf
Children’s Society; Rachel
Shenton, writer and actor, The
Silent Child; Chris Overton,
director, The Silent Child;
Gilson and Elizabeth Sly,
parents of Maisie Sly (6), star
of The Silent Child
My father spent his teenage
years in Manchester and on
many occasions fought
Oswald Mosley’s blackshirts
in the streets. He detested
fascists and carried that
determination to defeat
their ideology into the war
against Hitler. He would be
turning in his grave to learn
that the freedom he fought
for is now being put in
danger, albeit in a more
covert manner, by Oswald’s
son. Without a free press
there is no democracy.
Paul Bracken, Châteauneufde-Chabre, Provence
The BBC, not big
tech, divides UK
The General Medical
Council states in “Good
medical practice — the duties
of a doctor” that doctors
“must prescribe drugs or
treatment, including repeat
prescriptions, only when you
have adequate knowledge of
the patient’s health and are
satisfied that the drugs or
treatment serve the patient’s
needs”. Consequently, no
responsible doctor will offer
life-changing treatments in
the absence of a full clinical
and psychological evaluation
and diagnosis. To do so would
be deeply unethical.
Transgenderism is a
complex issue and needs
careful management. Simply
legislating to allow
individuals legally to
self-identify will not
meaningfully address any of
the problems and could
actually prove harmful.
Dr Tom Goodfellow, Consultant
Clinical Radiologist (retired),
University Hospital, Coventry
Lord Hall has a cheek (“BBC
warns of tech giants dividing
UK”, News, last week). If
anything can be accused of
dividing the UK, it is the BBC.
Left wing, contemptuous of
Brexit, obsessed with gender
and identity politics, the BBC
increasingly broadcasts to a
nation it believes should
exist, rather than the one that
The diversity it so obsesses
about is lacking at every level
of its decision making. It is no
good if a committee is
balanced on gender or
ethnicity if all
those people are social
liberals who think Tories are
dangerous barbarians.
David Gould, London E9
Rumbles at ivory tower
I took perverse pleasure from
Hall’s speech to BBC staff. In a
strange way I was pleased to
know that the plutocracy of
obscenely overpaid
intelligentsia can feel
something stirring at the base
of their ivory tower.
Ian Miller
Neyland, Pembrokeshire
Join the real world, Auntie
In response to Hall, if the BBC
wants to remain relevant to
the young, it is about time
that it entered the real world
of voluntary, democratic
consumer choice and earned
its place in the broadcasting
market instead of being
financed by force.
DSA Murray, Dorking, Surrey
Male MPs’ bit on the side
So women in parliament earn
less than men (News, last
week), even though basic pay
is the same. The main reason
could be that female MPs
concentrate on their
constituency duties, while
men spend time earning
extra on the side.
Stephen Howard, Chislehurst,
Alex Kingston is 55 today
First issue of The Daily
Courant, the world’s first
daily newspaper, published
in Fleet Street
Luddite riots begin in
Arnold, Nottinghamshire,
when factory workers break
63 mechanical knitting
Sugar magnate and gallery
founder Sir Henry Tate born
Harold Wilson, Labour
prime minister, born
Author Douglas Adams
Bacteriologist and Nobel
prize winner Sir Alexander
Fleming dies
Mikhail Gorbachev
becomes Soviet leader
Bank of England’s £1 note
ceases to be legal tender
Islamist terrorists attack
four rush-hour commuter
trains in Madrid, killing
almost 200 people
Gone west?
You report that students have
accused Dame Barbara
Stocking, formerly of Oxfam,
of cultural appropriation for
wearing a Chinese style of
dress (Atticus, last week). Will
these students make the same
accusations against Chinese
women who wear western
clothes? I thought not.
Kevin Coady
Abingdon, Oxfordshire
Scots should sing new song
Your correspondent from
Scotland recommends
England change their anthem
for rugby games (Letters, last
week). The results between
the countries since 2000 are
four Scotland wins, 15 England
wins and one draw. Flower of
Scotland doesn’t appear to be
doing the job. I suggest they
try I’m On My Way by the
Proclaimers. It offers hope.
Roger Foord
Chorleywood, Hertfordshire
How the Tates curate
Waldemar Januszczak has
spoken up for visitors to Tate
Britain (“A show in need of an
education”, Culture, last
week). At Impressionists in
London one had to get
through rooms and rooms of
quirkily curated items before
finding anything that justified
the entry price. But for Tate
Modern’s Modigliani show,
the booklet told you all you
had to know in unpretentious
language, and the pictures
spoke for themselves in
chronological order. Perfect.
Peta Bainbridge
Brentwood, Essex
Small change for a big one
The Royal Mint says the most
popular of its new A to Z 10p
coins are B, R and E (“Join the
Q for the A-Z 10p pieces”,
News, last week). Presumably
the next three are X, I and T?
Lester May, London NW1
F1 no enemy of apartheid
The idea that the Fédération
Internationale de
l’Automobile opposed
apartheid is laughable (“Max
Mosley, a faded choirboy
filled with hate”, News
Review, last week). The 1981
race was opposed on
administrative grounds.
Formula One racing was held
in apartheid South Africa
more than 20 times, ending
only when Nelson Mandela
became president in 1994.
Nicholas Binns
Wirksworth, Derbyshire
C of E-ing is believing
You correctly predicted that
Meghan Markle would be
baptised by the Archbishop of
Canterbury (News, last
week). We were told this was
out of respect for the Queen’s
role as head of the Church of
England. There was no
reference to her becoming a
believing Christian. I assume,
but not with complete
confidence, that the
archbishop questioned Ms
Markle on this and, if he was
not convinced, he would have
declined to officiate.
Douglas Kedge, Sonning
Common, Oxfordshire
Letters should arrive by
midday on Thursday and
include the full address and a
daytime and an evening phone
number. Please quote date,
section and page number. We
may edit letters, which must be
exclusive to The Sunday Times
Munroe Bergdorf’s facial
feminisation surgery at the
2pass Clinic in Antwerp
(Essay, Style, last week) cost
£8,000, not £25,000.
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 Independent Press
Standards Organisation (Ipso)
will examine formal
complaints about the editorial
content of UK newspapers and
magazines. Please go to our
website for full details of how
to lodge a complaint.
The Sunday Times March 11, 2018
Camilla Long
Oh dear, Mr and Mrs Firth, Italy is no
place to try to keep an affair secret
re you having an affair? If you
are and would like to keep it
secret, I’ve got a simple and
easy-to-follow piece of advice.
It doesn’t involve anything
revolting, such as harnesses or
Jim Davidson’s “area”. It’s
something most people in this
country should be able to manage. It’s
this: don’t tell the Italian police.
If you can bear it, try not to involve
the prancing, shimmying, pom-pomcarrying, gossip-mongering, idiot
hairdressers of the Italian crime-fighting
community. No one in the Italian police
ever takes affairs seriously or keeps
them quiet; on receiving news of a fling,
an Italian policeman will regard it as his
constitutional duty to instantly report it
as far and wide as possible.
This is a country in which a woman
can bare her breasts to Silvio Berlusconi
voting in a general election and no one
will immediately know whether she is a
protester or a “close friend”. Affairs are
a badge of honour, almost the law. There
can’t be a politician or policeman or
even a librarian who isn’t currently in
the throes of infidelity.
All terrible truths, but not ones that
the actor Colin Firth has grasped.
Instead, for some baffling reason, The
King’s Speech and his droopy Italian
ethical fashion curtains wife Livia
recently thought it might be a good idea
to share an embarrassing private affair
with the absurd carabinieri. How la
polizia must have laughed, before
someone leaked it straight to the press.
Initially it was claimed that a
childhood friend, a journalist named
Marco Brancaccia, had sent Livia
threatening phone calls and texts. Just a
day after the news appeared, however, it
turned out that far from ( just) stalking
her, Livia and Brancaccia had in fact had
an affair. I’m afraid I laughed and
laughed, especially when Brancaccia,
who looks like Richard Curtis’s idea of a
cultured Italian — that is, an overdressed
bibulous doorknocker — claimed the
marriage had been “over for years” and
that the bloody hussy “wanted to leave
Colin for me”.
Firth, by the way, having sniffily
refused to comment on criminal
proceedings, now started admitting
that Livia had indeed strayed. He’d even
been emailed naked pictures of her by
Brancaccia. But it was only during a
period of separation and now she’s
back, only half of which I think I believe.
In fact, I’m not sure what to believe of
any of this rubbish. It’s Fatal Attraction
directed by a drunk Fellini with a
hungover fashion assistant on hand to
provide donkey green carpet sandals
and ethical diamonds. Of course it’s not
nice to receive “frightening” emails or
texts from anyone, but it’s not a good
look to cheat on your husband, either.
It’s especially not a good look when you
have both spent so long making us all
completely sick with tales from your
perfect marriage.
For the past two decades it’s been
impossible to pick up a glossy without
running into another tedious interview
in which either Colin or Livia assumes
the moral high ground of politics or
fashion. He hates Brexit. She loves
sustainable gold. God, they’re smug,
blank, vain, stupid. I’d cheat on him and
I’d cheat on her and throw her smelly
vegan clothes into the Thames.
I’m nevertheless fascinated to see
how Italian prosecutors will cope with
a case of “stalking”. Will the country of
Casanova be able to make the
distinction between aggressively
pursuing a woman with unwanted
advances and making her cry, and
simply engaging in the Italian national
sport of flirting?
In France recently Catherine Deneuve
implied that men should be allowed the
right to seduce badly. Over here,
aspirational sex pests like Gavin
Williamson or Damian Green would
probably love to be able to be
misunderstood across tablecloths or the
reproduction fireplace. But even a
feminist might find it difficult to tell
what Brancaccia has technically done
l There is one purpose to
Del Toro:
two Oscars
— and too
Colin Firth and wife Livia have had to admit she had a liaison with her ‘stalker’
wrong in this case, as a couple of texts
and an email to Firth hardly sound like a
Stakhanovite campaign of harassment.
He claims she “filed a complaint for
stalking out of fear that I could go
public”, but she says she found herself
“living in terror”. At least one of these
prannies is making a mockery of a
serious crime and a major allegation.
She is unlikely to get a fair hearing in
Italy even if Brancaccia turned up every
day naked apart from a Juventus scarf. It
is, after all, a country where the editor
of a right-wing populist newspaper
recently claimed that the actress Asia
Argento should have been grateful that
Harvey Weinstein performed oral sex
on her. In fact, continued a politician,
Weinstein was probably the victim. To
the Italian mindset, Brancaccia’s hot
pursuit is all part of a rollicking good
affair. Why did Firth ever imagine
anything in this case would end well?
fashion magazines and that’s
telling us who’s fat and who’s
not. To this end I felt the new
editor of Grazia had truly
grasped her calling in life
when she tweeted: “Why are
all the Oscar winners so fat?”
Only she’s had to issue an
apology saying she regretted
this “idiocy”, because there’s
no comment too mild or too
trivial that can’t be turned
into a noose by which to
hang people. I myself am still
recovering from calls to
resign after a tweet I wrote
about Labour’s portly deputy
leader, Tom Watson, in which
I pointed out the whopping
£500,000 given to him by
Max Mosley was enough to
feed him for “nearly a week”.
But you know, I was much
younger when I wrote it (last
week); all I can say is I’ve
changed (I haven’t) and
have different values (I
don’t). With insincere
apologies, you see,
come insincere
emotions, and the
thing the internet
was meant to be
becomes a
place of hollow,
pretending to
be something
they’re not.
Making people
apologise does
not make
society more
honest; it just
makes the
less so. And
Guillermo del Toro
does need to go on
a diet.
l What a silly question the
ITV presenter Julie
Etchingham asked. How did
Theresa May like to let her
hair down during a
get-together with
It was obviously a
heffalump trap aimed at
unbalancing the prime
minister, who is physically
incapable of demonstrating
any level of spontaneity. Not
necessarily a bad thing, in
my view, unless your idea of
a great politician is
someone who can lie well
on command.
May gathered herself and
said she didn’t have time for
an evening of girlfriends
and she’d prefer to focus on
more important issues such
as “domestic abuse”.
It was the perfect answer
to a horribly sexist question.
Since when would anyone
have asked David Cameron
what he did with “the lads”?
Or if Tony Blair ever “really
let go”?
And on International
Women’s Day as well.
May gathered
herself and
said she
didn’t have
time for an
evening of
Lance Armstrong.
No investigation.
No integrity.
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The Kremlin is the obvious suspect for the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury.
Was the Russian mafia used to make the hit? And given that this was not the first mysterious attack
against Russians on British soil, how should we retaliate, ask Tony Allen-Mills and Andrew Gilligan
henever he walked
into town from his
modest home in a quiet
urban cul-de-sac, Sergei Skripal would have
passed the Salisbury
Model Centre, a shop
for enthusiasts of plastic military model kits.
Prominently displayed
in the window last week were several
models the 66-year-old Russian former
spy may have recognised, from a Sovietera Scud missile launcher to a 1,100-piece
Russian T-72 tank on sale at £187.99.
He had little chance of recognising the
weapon that put paid to his outing with
his 33-year-old daughter Yulia last Sunday. On a pleasant afternoon in the
middle of one of the country’s loveliest
cathedral cities, the Skripals fell victim to
the least visible but arguably most sinister tool of 21st-century warfare — a rare
form of lethal nerve toxin.
After lunch at a nearby restaurant and
a drink at a pub, Skripal and his daughter
were found collapsed on a park bench a
few paces away from a busy shopping
centre. A witness reported that Yulia was
“kind of slumped” into her father’s shoulder. He meanwhile was sitting “bolt
upright and rocking back and forth”.
Within hours a third victim was in hospital — Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey of
Salisbury CID was one of the first policemen involved in the case and was at some
point exposed to the toxin. By late last
week he had recovered sufficiently to be
chatting with colleagues; the Skripals
yesterday remained seriously ill. In all,
21 people have been treated in connection with what the home secretary,
Amber Rudd, has described as
“attempted murder in the most cruel and
public way”.
It was on Monday that Skripal’s identity was made public. A former colonel in
the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence
service, he was jailed by Moscow in 2006
as a double agent recruited by Britain
when he worked in Spain in the 1990s. It
has since emerged that MI6 bought him a
timeshare holiday home near Malaga,
where the agent codenamed “Forthwith”
met regularly with his British handlers,
who gave him wads of cash in exchange
for information. On one occasion Skripal,
a former boxing champion in the Soviet
army, handed over GRU’s internal telephone directory.
In 2010 he was freed after serving only
four years of a 13-year sentence in a harsh
Russian penal colony. He was then flown
to Britain as part of an elaborate spy
exchange devised by American, Russian
and British intelligence agencies. His
daughter lives in Moscow, but arrived in
Salisbury to visit her father last weekend.
Those were about the only facts that
could be established with any certainty
after a numbingly brazen attack that has
confronted the British government with
the most perplexing of diplomatic and
security dilemmas.
The use of a nerve agent bore all the
hallmarks of a state-sponsored assassination attempt. The UK government has not
yet publicly identified the substance its
scientists have been analysing at the Ministry of Defence’s Porton Down laboratories, just seven miles outside the city, but
it is not the kind of weapon that can be
bought in kit form in shops.
Was the toxin really produced in a Russian state laboratory, and its use authorised by President Vladimir Putin under
legislation introduced in 2006 that led to
killings in Dubai, Qatar and Vienna? If so,
how should Theresa May’s government
respond to so blatant and aggressive an
assault on British soil, a poison attack
that is far from the first of its kind?
If what happened in Salisbury was
Putin’s revenge for the years that Skripal
spent passing Kremlin secrets to MI6, will
it suffice to kick out a few Russian diplomats and boycott this year’s World Cup?
Or are sterner measures in store for Russian-owned properties and investments
in Britain worth billions of pounds?
There are of course alternative explanations for the assault. If Putin wanted
Skripal dead, it would surely have been a
lot less obvious to arrange some kind of
accident, or just knock on his door and
shoot him. Why deploy the one weapon
that would instantly identify the Kremlin
as the No 1 suspect in the case, and why
do it now, eight years after Skripal arrived
in Britain?
Some kind of public message was
clearly intended, but what was its real
purpose? Experts on Russia warned last
week that the long arm of Russian organised crime — the so-called Moscow
“McMafias” — should not be disregarded.
Nor is it clear exactly what Skripal was up
In retrospect, it
was an odd kind of
vanishing act.
Skripal never
changed his name
and made no
secret of his
Russian military
to on the “business trips” he often took to
London and abroad. He may have been
living an outwardly dreary life, doing his
shopping at Sainsbury’s, eating his
favourite Russian dumplings while playing Second World War tank games on his
computer and applying to join the local
Railway social club, but one of his regular
cab drivers noted that “he never said
exactly where he was going. He never
said what the business was.”
Valery Morozov, a Russian dissident
living in London, claims to have bumped
into Skripal while buying sausages at a
Russian shop in Waterloo last December.
Morozov told The Sunday Times that
Skripal lowered his voice to a whisper
and confided that “every month [he was]
going to the embassy to meet military
intelligence officers”, for reasons that
remain unknown. It was also reported
last week that Skripal had been working
in “cyber-security” and was meeting his
former MI6 handler every month in a
Salisbury restaurant. Could Skripal have
made new enemies unrelated to his spying past, or was espionage still his game?
Meanwhile, the belligerent denials
from Russian officials last week contrasted with crude warnings in the Moscow media that “traitors” should not
settle in Britain because they would not
be safe. It is not impossible that the
authors of the attack hoped to “please”
Putin without acting on the Kremlin’s
orders. Anyone who has ever read a spy
novel knows that in a world built on
intrigue, treachery and deceit, nothing is
quite what it seems.
In many ways, Christie Miller Road in
Salisbury seems the perfect spot to hide a
(supposedly) retired Russian spy. Buried
in a warren of cul-de-sacs in an anonymous development 20 minutes’ walk
from Salisbury railway station, Skripal’s
address is hard to find, even with a map.
The four-bedroom semi-detached house
that was bought in his name for £260,000
in 2011 is at the end of a short turn-off
with no passing traffic. The property was
sealed off last week and has been crawling with investigators since.
It was here that Skripal settled soon
after his surprise release as part of the
2010 spy swap that saw the return to Moscow of Anna Chapman (née Kushchyenko), the glamorous Russian agent
who married a British citizen and later
moved to New York, where she was eventually unmasked by the FBI.
Skripal was recruited while working
for GRU in Spain in 1995 by a British agent
known as “Luis”. In a 2014 Russian documentary entitled A Mole in the Aquarium
(the nickname for the GRU headquarters
in Moscow) it was claimed Luis and
Skripal started a wine business together,
presumably as a cover. Other reports suggested Skripal was paid between $5,000
and $6,000 after every meeting in Malaga, and he once demanded and received
an emergency payment of $10,000.
Formally pardoned by the Kremlin in
2010, he became one of four Russians
sent to the West in exchange for the
return of 10 US-based “sleeper” agents.
As Chapman was flown to Moscow,
where she became a high-profile media
personality, Skripal arrived in Britain and
promptly disappeared from public view.
In retrospect, it was an odd kind of
vanishing act. Skripal never changed his
name and made no secret of his Russian
military background. “Some of us knew
he had been in the Russian army, but I
don’t know anyone who knew he was a
spy,” said a nearby neighbour who asked
not to be named. “He seemed a decent
enough geezer and he certainly wasn’t
living like an oligarch around here —
although he did drive a BMW.”
At some point he was joined in Britain
by his wife, Liudmila. She died of
cancer aged 59 in 2012, beginning a run of family tragedies
that police are investigating
as potentially suspicious.
Skripal’s older brother
passed away in Russia
in 2016; then his
43-year-old son Alexander died in St
Petersburg last July
that remain unclear.
body was sent to Britain
for burial in Salisbury,
where police have cordoned off access to the
graves of both Skripal’s wife
and son.
There was intense speculation
last week about the presence in
Salisbury of Yulia, who lives in
Moscow but appears to have
timed her visit to her father to
coincide with what would have
been her late brother’s 44th
birthday on March 1. There
were reports that Yulia may
unknowingly have led assassins
to her father, or may even have
been carrying a gift she did not
know had been deliberately
poisoned. It is not yet clear
whether the Skripals were
exposed to the toxin at home
or during their afternoon
Yulia moved to Britain with
her parents not long after her
father’s release but she returned
to Moscow in 2014, reportedly
because of a new romance.
In 2011 she joined VK, the Russian version of Facebook, and
posted a quote by Friedrich
Nietzsche: “If you gaze for too
long into an abyss, the abyss also
gazes into you.” In 2013 she wrote
on VK: “Depression is not a
sign of weakness — it is a sign
The Russian agent Anna Chapman,
below left, was returned to Moscow
as part of the spy swap that saw
Sergei Skripal come to Britain. Below
right, Skripal’s daughter, Yulia
that you have been trying to be strong for
too long.”
There were suggestions last week that
Yulia may have made herself a target by
being critical of Putin on social media,
although she seems to have done little
more than leave a couple of brief comments approving the negative posts of
In short, it remains highly improbable
that Russian intelligence had been
unaware of Skripal’s whereabouts until
last weekend. It is hard to imagine, for
example, that Alexander’s body
could have been sent to Britain and
buried in Salisbury without word
reaching Moscow, had the Kremlin really been hunting for
So the most pressing mystery in the Salisbury attack is
not just whodunnit, but why
it was done now and what on
earth can May and her ministers do next to prevent lethal
assaults on Russian citizens
from further endangering British lives ?
n inquiry into the 2006
assassination in central
London of Alexander Litvinenko, another former
Russian agent who had
helped MI6, found his murder
was carried out by men operating on behalf of the Federal
Security Service (FSB), the successor to the KGB, and was
“probably approved . . . by President Putin”. That verdict came 10
years after the killing: for most of that
time, the government had resisted setting up a full inquiry because it risked
damaging relations with Russia.
The verdict was damning, yet Britain’s
response was muted at best. The assets of
the two killers were frozen and the Russian ambassador was summoned to be
told of the UK’s “profound displeasure”.
Four Russian diplomats had earlier
been expelled.
Even that seems like strict punishment compared with the UK’s
action on other mysterious Russian deaths. Another Putin
opponent, Alexander Perepilichnyy, was found dead near
his Surrey home in 2012.
Police continue to claim that
foul play was not involved,
despite the findings of an
His daughter Yulia
may have been
carrying a gift she
did not know had
been deliberately
expert who detected signs of a fatal poison in his stomach and the conclusion of
intelligence agencies across the West that
his death was an assassination.
Perepilichnyy is one of 13 people connected with opposition to Putin to have
died mysteriously in Britain in recent
years. US intelligence sources told the
BuzzFeed News website there was evidence that all the cases were assassinations by Russian state security or mafia
groups. But none has been treated as
murder by the British police, to the anger
of some of our allies.
A senior national security adviser to
the British government said last year that
ministers were not prepared to take the
“political risk of dealing firmly and
effectively in whatever way with the
activities of the Russian state and Russian-organised crime in the UK” because
they were afraid. The Kremlin could
retaliate, he said, by inflicting massive
harm on Britain.
There have been signs since then of
hardening resolve, not least the decision
to make Russia a “tier one” national security threat and a robust speech by May in
November that accused the Kremlin of
seeking to “undermine” free societies
and “threaten the international order on
which we all depend”.
But action has yet to follow the words.
In evidence to a Commons committee
last week Edward Lucas, of the Centre for
European Policy Analysis, said that
“what we have seen so far in Whitehall is
that there’s been a massive turf war,
rather than anything that’s actually dealing seriously with Russia”.
Kicking out large numbers of Russian
diplomats would certainly trigger reciprocal expulsions in Moscow, risking British intelligence operations there. Yet is
the only option a token protest?
Using leaked documents, Bill Browder,
a British-American financier and anticorruption campaigner, has detailed how
stolen Russian money has been laun-
The Sunday Times March 11, 2018
Misha Glenny
he attempt on the life of
Sergei Skripal has been
characterised as the
latest in a string of
mysterious deaths or
assassination attempts
ascribed to either the Russian
state or mafia gangs working
on its behalf. But there is a big
difference between most of
those earlier poisonings,
helicopter crashes or
suspicious suicides and the
latest one.
Until the Skripal case, what
we had witnessed was a
domestic Russian political
struggle being played out in
London and the home
counties. With the clear
exception of one, most of the
unexplained deaths were
associated with the struggle
that pitted the late oligarch
Boris Berezovsky and his
circle of friends against
their nemesis, President
Vladimir Putin.
During the 1990s
Berezovsky was arguably the
most powerful single man in
Russia. During this period of
so-called “gangster
capitalism”, he amassed an
estimated £2bn fortune from
the privatisation of state
assets. But he also exercised
decisive influence over the
increasingly incapable
president, Boris Yeltsin, as
the latter sank into the final
stages of alcoholism.
Berezovsky was granted
political asylum here in 2003
after fleeing Russia, which
was seeking to prosecute him
for alleged fraud and
Berezovsky wasn’t the only
oligarch, and certainly not
the only Russian, to move
here from the late 1990s
onwards. The government of
Tony Blair was happy to see
wealthy people from across
the globe domicile in Britain
as London competed with
New York to become the
financial capital of the world.
As a consequence, we
continue to host about 450
Russian millionaires.
Once here, Berezovsky
continued his campaign
against Putin. His associates,
such as the former KGB
officer Alexander Litvinenko,
were a persistent thorn in
Putin’s side and in 2006
Litvinenko died after being
exposed to the radioactive
substance polonium-210.
Successive British
governments appeared
reluctant to investigate the
murder too deeply until
almost a decade later, when a
public inquiry was finally set
up. In January 2016 it
concluded that Vladimir
Putin had most likely given
his personal approval for the
murder of Litvinenko.
The chief reason why
Britain did not pursue the
string of murders before and
after the death of Litvinenko
too closely was that it didn’t
really have a dog in the fight —
Sergei Skripal, a
former Russian
colonel, is said to
have been
recruited by MI6
in Spain in 2005
Britain is levitating
off dirty money. If
that money was
stopped, certain
people would be
without businesses
dered through a network of banks, companies and purchases in 12 countries,
including Britain. Eleven of those countries have opened criminal investigations
and frozen the assets, Browder said. Only
the UK has refused to act.
“Every single time we have filed a complaint, nobody has responded,” he said.
“They have always found excuses not to
investigate. This country is levitating off
the flow of dirty money. If that money
was stopped, certain people would find
themselves without businesses and I
think those people have some political
weight in this country.” In Britain after
Brexit there is likely to be even more
resistance to any suggestion that foreign
investment should be discouraged.
The UK shelters many unlikely centres
of suspicious money, including an office
block in the Hertfordshire commuter
town of Potters Bar, just north of London.
According to the campaign group Transparency International, a second-floor
office suite in this scruffy building alone
houses more than 100 companies, with a
turnover of billions of pounds, some of
them suspected of laundering former
Soviet funds through the UK.
Its name is Brosnan House — no connection to Pierce Brosnan, the actor who
once played James Bond, that symbol of
British resolve against the Soviet Union in
an earlier, simpler era.
Yet the very brazenness of the Salisbury attack, whatever message it was
intended to send, may prove a turning
point. It has already given new impetus to
powers, promoted by Browder and passing through parliament, to seize suspicious wealth.
Only days before the attack another
new instrument on the statute book,
“unexplained wealth orders”, was used
for the first time by the National Crime
The orders require rich foreigners
with assets in excess of their apparent
income to prove they were acquired legitimately, though investigators have
warned that they are not a magic bullet
against dubious Russian wealth.
“Russia is attacking us with, I reckon,
20 different tactics, which affect almost
every bit of government, from universities to the criminal justice and financial
systems,” said Lucas.
“We’ve got to understand we can’t put
prosperity ahead of security any more.”
it was an internal Russian
matter. It just happened to be
playing out here.
But the Skripal case is
different, as he was part of a
well-publicised spy swap in
2010. Even in the murky
world of intelligence, there
are rules regarding the
exchange of spooks. The
British government would be
expected to ensure Skripal’s
security, but it will have
received assurances from
Russian intelligence that it
would no longer seek to
persecute him for his
previous treasonable
behaviour. So this time
Theresa May cannot bury
her head in the sand.
That is probably why,
after a slow start, the
government — and in
particular the home
secretary, Amber Rudd — is
now treating this with the
utmost seriousness. Rudd
seems ready to divert
considerable resources into
finding who was behind the
assassination attempt.
If it does turn out to be the
Russians, she will face her
toughest challenge yet.
Britain cannot afford to
develop a reputation for
being a country where
foreign intelligence agencies
can carry out murders
without fearing the
For the most part,
Russians in London are well
integrated and engaged only
in lawful activities. But it
would be foolish to deny that
there are also powerful
networks, as I described in
my book McMafia, where
organised crime and
intelligence services mingle.
What sanctions can we
bring to bear if the Russians
are indeed responsible?
There is a growing chorus
calling for the freezing of
assets belonging to oligarchs
close to Putin. But if that were
to include the likes of Roman
Abramovich, Oleg Deripaska
and Alisher Usmanov, the
wealthy of the world may
begin to regard London as too
risky a place to invest. Can
the government risk such a
strategy as Brexit looms?
The Skripal case exposes
Britain’s growing diplomatic
weakness while preoccupied
with Brexit. President
Donald Trump’s decision to
impose import tariffs on
steel and aluminium, and the
hard-nosed US position over
the renegotiation of the open
skies agreement is going to
test the strength of our
special relationship. And
when Britain was running out
of gas last December, the only
country able to deliver
emergency supplies was
So if Russian intelligence
was behind the attack on
Skripal, what is the prime
minister going to do?
Misha Glenny is the author of
the book McMafia
Wife and son’s
graves taped off
The Mill
¼ mile
Skripal’s house
Sergei and his
daughter Yulia
are believed to
have left home
at around 1pm
to go to the
city centre
Zizzi restaurant
They stopped
for a brief lunch
of risotto and
garlic bread. It
is thought that
they then visited
the Mill pub
Shopping centre
They were found
on a nearby
bench at 4.03pm.
Skripal was sitting
‘bolt upright and
rocking back
and forth’
District Hospital
Skripal and his
daughter remain
in a ‘very serious’
James Norton in the BBC adaptation of Misha Glenny’s McMafia
The Sunday Times March 11, 2018
A High Court battle last week highlighted the
growing pressure the NHS faces to save young
lives. But two paediatricians tell Harry Wallop
the huge expense may only delay the inevitable
ast week the parents of Alfie
Evans, the seriously ill 21month-old boy in Alder Hey
children’s hospital, Liverpool,
lost their High Court appeal
against his life support being
ended. The court upheld the
doctors’ decision that any
attempt to take him abroad for
treatment would be “futile”.
The judgment prompted a barrage of
abuse online directed at the “corrupt”
courts and “bastard” doctors, more
interested in their own egos than saving a
child’s life.
One man who knows how the doctors
must be feeling is Dr Peter Wilson, a paediatric intensive care consultant in
charge of Southampton Children’s Hospital, part of Southampton General.
It was from his hospital that Ashya
King, a five-year-old boy with cancer, was
“kidnapped” by his parents in 2014 —
after they refused to accept the hospital’s
decision to give him conventional radiotherapy instead of proton beam therapy.
“It was awful. I had death threats,” says
Wilson, originally from Cape Town. “We
had to screen all phone calls coming into
the trust. Some of the letters I received
were just . . .” he blows out his cheeks. “I
have one of the letters framed. The open-
ing line was, ‘You f****** South African
c***.’ The last line was, ‘I hope your children get cancer and die.’ ”
The framed letter in his office is a
battle scar and, to him, a useful daily
reminder of how medicine has changed
in recent years. The cases of Alfie Evans
and Charlie Gard (which saw Great
Ormond Street staff receive death threats
last summer) are a sign that the British
public now expect every life to be saved,
however “futile” that may be.
And while the case of Ashya King was
slightly different — he was never on life
support — it similarly highlights how parents no longer trust doctors. Last week
Ashya was told he had no remaining signs
of cancer. However, Southampton
argued that treating him with conventional radiotherapy would have achieved
the same result and given him a better
chance of long-term survival than treating him with proton beam therapy in
Prague, the action his parents took.
Wilson believes this distrust has been
fuelled partly by the internet. “People
now see on Google the one case of someone who survived — they want their child
to be like that child.” And if you, as a doctor, can’t save them, he says, “it’s because
you aren’t trying hard enough. Social
media has massively, and rapidly, turned
debates into opinions not facts.”
But there is another reason why the
public expect miracles. There has been a
dramatic improvement in medical technology over the past five years, particularly when it comes to ventilators. The
machines have become more sensitive as well as smaller. This allows
younger babies to be ventilated —
previously they would have died —
and enables children with incurable
conditions to survive on life-support
machines in their homes.
As Wilson’s colleague at Southampton Dr Iain Macintosh neatly puts it:
“We can keep people alive long beyond
the point where we have a real treatment
for them.”
Wilson adds: “About 10 years ago we
had 20 children that were ventilated at
home. We now have something like 90 —
Dr Peter Wilson received death
threats over the case of Ashya King
Rianna Price and partner James Drew
with Penelope, left, and Tallulah, who
was born at 29 weeks and is
permanently on a ventilator. Below,
Chris Gard and Connie Yates, whose
son Charlie had a rare genetic illness
and died last year after a legal battle
and that’s just in our region. Half of those
will need very expensive packages.”
One of those is Tallulah Drew-Price,
now aged 2½. She features in a two-part
Channel 4 documentary, My Baby’s Life:
Who Decides?, which begins on Thursday. The moving programme features
Wilson, his colleagues and different families as they wrestle with the impossible
quandary about whether to keep a baby
alive when they have little chance of a
decent quality of life, let alone surviving
into adulthood.
When Tallulah was born she was so
small she was weighed in grams, not kilograms: a mere 565g (1.2lb). “That’s just
bigger than a small bag of sugar. She was
the size of my hand,” says her mother,
Rianna Price.
She was born at 29 weeks by emergency caesarean on a Friday afternoon,
after a scan revealed that she had
stopped growing at 20 weeks. “I was told
that if I’d waited until the Monday for that
scan, Tallulah wouldn’t be here.”
Indeed, Price and her partner, James
Drew, have been told on many occasions
that Tallulah’s life-support machine may
have to be turned off.
She spent her first two years in hospital, suffering from a chronic lung condition owing to her underdeveloped lungs.
She still cannot breathe by herself.
Although she has been at home in Gosport, Hampshire, since last November,
she is permanently on a ventilator, she is
fed via a tube directly into her stomach
The cases of Alfie
Evans and Charlie
Gard are a sign the
British public now
expect every life to
be saved, however
‘futile’ that may be
and she cannot speak. A team of six carers take it in turns to watch her through
the night.
“It’s to check that her trache[ostomy
tube] doesn’t come out, or she doesn’t
choke; you have to be ready, watching for
that to happen,” says Price.
Both parents are matter-of-fact about
how close Tallulah has come to dying,
especially when she falls ill.
“The doctors told us, on those occasions, that if she didn’t pick up, then the
machines would have to be turned off.
It’s difficult to hear. But in my eyes, she’s
here for a reason and she’s here to stay.
Obviously, I know there’s a chance that
one day we could have to turn the
machines off, but you try to block that
out. We’re taking each day as it comes,”
says Price.
Wilson is keen to have a debate about
whether keeping children such as Tallulah alive is necessarily the best use of NHS
resources. “There’s no doubt about this —
we have to have a conversation about
finances. It sounds very cold-hearted, I
know.” He explains that each child on
long-term life support costs between
£250,000 and £750,000 a year. In his
view many of these cases are “merely
storing up deaths” by delaying the inevitable.
Price says: “Some people would say,
‘Well, there’s no cure, it shouldn’t be
funded.’ To me, she has the best quality of
life a kid can have. Yes, she’s attached to a
ventilator, but she doesn’t miss out on
stuff. She plays with her sister, she plays
with her toys. She’s a happy little child.”
Wilson, who has two children aged 8
and 11, emphasises that he has the
greatest of sympathy for the parents of
both Tallulah and Alfie Evans — both tussling with different definitions of quality
of life.
“I would never turn my own child’s
ventilator off. Never,” he pauses before
adding: “I would absolutely hope that I
would have a doctor with the courage of
their convictions to make it not my
And, he adds, a public that respected
those decisions.
Roger Deakins won
at the 14th attempt
last week. He tells
Julia Llewellyn
Smith how his love
of movies began
hortly after Roger
Deakins was awarded
the Oscar for best
cinematography last
Sunday, he received an
email from the manager of
the marina in his native
Torquay, where — as the
grandson of a fisherman — he
keeps a small boat.
“He said: ‘Congratulations
on your Oscar and — by the
way — the marina’s deep in
snow, but your boat’s OK,’”
laughs Deakins. “I wrote
back: ‘The Oscar’s great but
it’s even better to know my
boat’s fine.’ I meant it.”
Deakins has long learnt to
keep Academy Awards in
perspective. His triumph for
Blade Runner 2049 came
after 13 Oscar nominations
where he didn’t win. Widely
regarded as the greatest living
director of photography, he’d
been perfecting his graciousloser expression since 1995
when he failed to win for The
Shawshank Redemption.
On that occasion he had
prepared an acceptance
speech; since then he hadn’t
bothered, even when he was
up for such acknowledged
classics as Fargo and Skyfall
(he has at least collected four
Baftas and a CBE).
Was he tipped off that this
nomination for his glowering
images in Blade Runner 2049
would be the one to break the
losing streak? “Oh no!” says
Deakins, 68, speaking from
New York, where snow has
halted filming on his current
project, an adaptation of
Donna Tartt’s novel The
Goldfinch. “I suspected it was
the best chance I ever had,
but you never know. I was
quite prepared for it to
happen again.”
As he accepted his Oscar
from Sandra Bullock, his
hands trembled. “I looked
down and saw people like
[long-term collaborator] Joel
Coen, Denzel Washington
and Meryl Streep, who I’ve
worked with, so it was
emotional — not because of all
the awards hoopla, but
because I felt I was among
“I thought, ‘Yes, I’m part of
a community of people who
really love movies’ and I felt a
bit less nervous, though I was
still shaking.
“I really love my job,”
Deakins — a cool, slim figure
in head-to-toe black topped
with a thatch of white hair he
always cuts himself — told the
“That was really genuine,”
he says now in his soft, midAtlantic tones. “I pinch
myself just about every day.”
Growing up in 1950s
Devon, Deakins never
imagined such a glitzy career.
He was expected to follow in
the footsteps of his builder
father, who brought him up
(his mother died when he was
very young). “I really didn’t
Video: beautiful shots by
Roger Deakins
Go to
or our phone or tablet apps
want to decorate and
renovate, so I was a bit lost.
Most of my school friends are
fishermen, maybe I could
have done that. I just couldn’t
have done a nine-to-five job.”
The family were keen
cinema-goers — “There isn’t a
lot else to do in Torquay in
winter” — and while Deakins
was at grammar school he
joined the local film club.
“That really opened my eyes
to directors like Andrei
Tarkovsky, Jean-Luc Godard,
Jean-Pierre Melville. But I
didn’t think such films could
have anything to do with the
way I lived my life.”
He discovered a passion for
photography at art school in
Bath. Having failed to get into
the National Film and
Television School, he spent a
year photographing Devon
life for a local archive, before
successfully reapplying.
Deakins: won
Oscar for
2049, left
He became a documentary
and music-video cameraman,
before making British films
such as Sid and Nancy,
Personal Services and
Nineteen Eighty-Four. “Even
then, my father still thought
I’d come back and take over
the family business,” he says.
Instead in 1991 he moved
to LA, making Barton Fink,
the first of his — to date — 12
films with the Coen brothers,
Joel and Ethan, including O
Brother, Where Art Thou?
and The Big Lebowski, and
marrying his American wife,
James. She works with him on
all his projects.
The director Sam Mendes
persuaded Deakins to join
him on Skyfall, the third
James Bond film to star Daniel
Craig. “I’ve never been a big
Bond fan,” he says. “So many
blockbusters are just
formulaic. But Sam showed
me how this was a great
opportunity to bring
character study to Bond.”
Still, he turned down the
next in the series, Spectre. “I
didn’t think I could bring
anything new to it.”
He intends to continue
working — unusually, he
almost always
operates the
camera himself —
“into my eighties
and hopefully
later”. Plenty
more Oscar
says Deakins.
“But the best
thing about this
Oscar is now the
questions have
stopped about how it
feels never to win.”
The Sunday Times March 11, 2018
Having built a fortune in lingerie, Michelle
Mone is moving into cryptocurrency.
But, you understand, it’s not to make
another pile for herself, the queen
of self-belief tells Laura Pullman
he day before I’m due to meet
Michelle Mone — or, to use her
proper title, Baroness Mone
of Mayfair OBE — The Sunday
Times warned that investors
in the lingerie entrepreneur’s
newest project risk losing all
their money. Last weekend,
this newspaper revealed that
Equi Capital, the multimillionaire’s new cryptocurrency and venture capital investment platform, is not
regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and is not being sold to US investors
for fear of breaching American rules.
The following day, I’m summoned to
the Mayfair offices of Mone’s boyfriend,
and Equi co-founder, Doug Barrowman.
Thankfully Mone, all blonde blow-dry
and French manicure, doesn’t seem
angry. (This, remember, is a woman who
once trashed her husband’s Porsche and
put laxatives in his coffee.)
However, she’s keen to point out that
she and Barrowman, 53, have spent “a
ridiculous sum of money” on lawyers and
would never do “anything illegal”. “It’s
not my fault [cryptocurrency] regulation
isn’t there,” she says.
But my biggest mistake, it appears, is
thinking that Mone, 46, launched Equi to
make dollops of dosh: “We’re not in it for
the money,” she claims. “We’re doing this
because we’re passionate about the
cryptocurrency community.” When I ask
whether digital currencies are a bubble,
Mone estimates that bitcoin will reach
£100,000 in value (the coins are hovering
around £7,000 currently) before emphasising: “We’re doing this because I love
helping businesses.”
She continues: “I was the start-up business tsar [appointed by David Cameron]
in 2015, and I speak all around the world
to maybe 4,000-5,000 people on stage.
At the end they all run up and say, ‘Oh,
please mentor me.’”
But, if all goes to plan, surely Equi
could be very lucrative for her? “To be
honest with you, and I’m being really
honest with you,” she says, leaning in
conspiratorially, “I’ve not even thought
about that. What will be nice is that
people will do well out of it.”
Of course, the risk is that her coins turn
out to be worthless and impossible to sell.
“I’ve never felt so passionately about
something since I invented the bra,” she
says. Strictly speaking, Mone didn’t
invent the bra (that was Caresse Crosby in
1910) but she did create various versions
— frontless, backless, silicon-padded —
for her lingerie company Ultimo.
I confess to Mone that I’ve never had a
proper bra fitting. She stares at my
breasts and feels the back of my bra
through my jumper: “You’re a 32B. I can
tell right away. That’s my party trick — I
can measure boobs without a measuring
tape.” It’s certainly the size I buy.
In 2013 Mone bought her ex-husband,
Michael, out of Ultimo after he cheated
on her with the company’s head designer. Did she have any reservations
about working with Barrowman, her boyfriend of 18 months? “We never talked
about it. It just happened.”
Barrowman, a super-rich businessman, joins us and I hear how they divide
their time between homes in the Isle of
Man, the Caribbean, London, Thailand
and Monaco. His pad in the south of
France is up for sale because the “summer traffic” makes the 20-minute drive to
Monaco too tedious. Do they ever consider their carbon footprint? “To be honest, no, not at all,” says Mone, before
claiming that Barrowman cares about
“plastics and the environment”.
I’ve read that Mone always carries a
lucky Greek stone. “I used to kiss the
stone every morning and every night,”
she says. “I took it everywhere and one
day Doug asked, ‘Why do you need this?’
And I said, ‘Well, it’s my rock.’ And he
replied, ‘I’m your rock.’” They ceremoniously cast the stone into the ocean.
The couple share working-class Glaswegian roots: “both against the odds”, as
Barrowman puts it before sneaking out.
Mone’s start was particularly tough: her
brother died due to spina bifida aged 10
and her father became a wheelchair user
at 38. She left school at 15 and was married with a baby by 19. Then, in her twenties, came Ultimo fame and fortune.
Mone is undeniably striking; has her
appearance been a help or a hindrance?
“The feminist brigade will shoot me
down but I use my femininity to its best. I
give [men] the big smiles and say, ‘Come
on, do this deal.’ Does it mean I want to
jump into bed with them? No, but I will
charm them and get those deals.”
Her self-confidence is, frankly, Trumpian. She tells me how she’s built “nine
brands from scratch”, how she’s “the biggest jewellery designer on QVC” and she
repeatedly refers to her role on the
“global stage”.
She recently tweeted: “I never thought
I could go from being [one] of the best
technical lingerie designers in the World,
No1 woman entrepreneur to one of the
biggest experts in Cryptocurrency &
Blockchain #believe.” Her website states
that Mone “built her multibillion-pound
lingerie business from the ground up”. At
its height the company had a £40m turnover (she has since sold it to a Sri Lankan
Where does her self-belief stem from?
“I’m religious and I’ve always believed
that we’re all on this earth once and to
make a bloody good go of it.” She prays
daily but confesses she’s not been to
church since Christmas.
The darker force driving Mone is memories of her ex-husband. “Every day I
hear that voice saying, ‘You’ll end up
back where you came from,’” she says.
There seems little danger of that. How
much is she worth? “I’ve no idea, but
when you put it all down, it’s a lot.”
I will perform in
front of audiences
but speaking in the
Lords is terrifying
Mone gets a lot of flak, not least for her
record in the House of Lords. So why has
“Baroness Bra”, as she has been dubbed,
spoken there only twice? “I will confidently perform in front of audiences —
I’m one of the biggest women speakers in
the country — but when it comes to speaking in the Lords, it’s terrifying.”
Forget the overstuffed upper chamber,
Mone — glamorous, gobby, self-promoting — is perfect reality-TV fodder. She
isn’t one to talk about smashing glass ceilings and thinks Formula One was foolish
to scrap grid girls. “We’ve got to watch
that we don’t end up going backwards,
where women find that they can’t get as
many opportunities.” Equally, we
shouldn’t focus on a battle of the sexes: “I
want women to just say, ‘I love being a
woman, I love men holding doors open
for me, but I’m not competing with them
and we are different’.”
Has she found it easier working with
men? “Yes,” she says immediately. Women, she argues, get fearful and jealous
of female colleagues’ success. “We need
to stop that. If we’re just going to bitch
amongst one another, where are we
going to be?”
One woman whom Mone found impossible to work with was her daughter
Rebecca (“your kids just don’t listen to
you in that environment”). In the end,
Mone sold her struggling fake tan business to her. It sounds like she isn’t a soft
touch with her three children, aged 25, 21
and 18. “If I have to pin them up against
the wall now and again, then I will,” she
says firmly.
Her luxuries are “bags, shoes and
Montblanc pens” but she “loves Zara”
and isn’t “a brand queen”. What’s she
wearing today? A Diane von Furstenberg
jumpsuit and Valentino heels. The vast
diamond on her ring finger is, sadly, fake,
and on her right hand. Is marriage on the
cards? “We’re very happy as we are. We
feel we’re a partnership and he buys me
lots of nice jewellery, diamonds, anyway,” she says, laughing.
Well, if all goes swimmingly and investors buy into Equi, Lady Mone will be
kept in diamonds galore. Not that that’s
what it’s all about, obviously.
Michelle Mone says she
finds it easier working with
men. Women, she says,
get jealous of female
colleagues’ success
Leaf Arbuthnot has
a close shave as she
joins the ranks of
women shunning
hairdressers for a
cheaper option
am utterly fed up of
doing beards. God, men
are vain.” It’s a brisk
weekday morning and
I’m at a barber shop,
squaring up to my reflection
as Ian Davies, the groomer-inchief, approaches my head
with clippers.
He is pleased to see a
woman in his chair: “It’s rare
for girls to come in.” The rise
in the popularity of facial hair
has been good for business
but not for Davies’s morale.
He is no fan of hipsters.
I’m sacrificing my locks in
the name of research:
according to a survey by
men’s grooming brand The
Bluebeards Revenge
published last week, British
women are increasingly
swapping salons for barber
shops. From film stars to
fashion models, short hair is
all the rage — and the flowing
Sloaney waves I’ve nurtured
since my teenage days have
never seemed more naff.
Ladies’ haircuts can easily
cost hundreds of pounds.
Barbers charge less than
salons and spare their clients
the faff of advance booking
and time-consuming blowdries. At Hobbs barber shop
in Borough Market, south
London, I decide to get an
“undercut”, where the base
of the head, from about the
ears down, is shaved almost
to the skin. Do I want it
shaved to level one, two or
three? Two, please.
Undercuts, especially ones
patterned or inscribed with
writing, have been in vogue
for some time, so Instagram
informs me. My motivations
are simpler, though. I have
thick hair and want it to dry
faster. By losing a third of it,
that seems guaranteed.
Hair is an emotional
matter. One landmark event
in my (humdrum) childhood
was getting a chop at the
village hairdresser and hating
the results so much that my
mother bought me
bubblegum, verboten in our
household. I remember
looking in the mirror and
believing, powerfully, that my
new bob made me look like a
chicken nugget.
As Davies’s clippers grind
into my skull, he insists he
has “never treated men’s and
women’s hair differently”.
The texture of hair is the
same for both sexes. Though
men vastly outnumber female
visitors, he has seen more
and more women dropping in
in recent years. Why?
“It’s less time consuming
[than women’s hair salons],”
he says. “And it’s more
convenient.” Clients pop in
for a cut in their lunch breaks.
Not all women can expect
such a welcome. When Anna
Kaminski, a 36-year-old travel
writer, walked into a barber
shop in Cambridge in 2016,
she was turned away.
“The barber wouldn’t
listen to me and kept pointing
out of the door, saying, ‘The
ladies’ is that way!’ ” she tells
me. “It was the rudeness that
got to me, the way he
humiliated me in front of the
other customers.”
A barber in Liverpool was
accused in 2014 of breaching
equality legislation for
banning women. Its owner,
Johnny Shanahan, received
death threats and even
tampons through the
letterbox, but stuck to his
guns, arguing that “there are
very few places left where
men are allowed to be men”.
Shanahan’s fear of the odd
female visitor strikes me as
rather peculiar. Yet it’s true
the vibe in the barber shop
I’ve chosen is different from
Leaf Arbuthnot undergoes a £10 trim from Ian Davies
the gossipy atmosphere of
salons. Davies, 52, is
obsessive about curating the
right mood: he plays blues
and jazz, “never the news”,
and bans “controversial
“When we had that Brexit
thing going on,” he grumbles
darkly, as my cut hair gathers
in clumps on my gown, “oh
my God, I had to put up signs
banning all talk of it.”
There was nearly a fight in
the shop between a remainer
and a leaver. A magistrate
awaiting a trim calmed the
situation. Now Davies avoids
talking “religion or politics”
with his customers and sticks
to sport. I’ve never loved
baring my soul to my
hairdresser — in some places
it feels rude not to — and
relish sitting in amiable
silence with Davies as he
shaves my head.
The main drawback of
barber shops as a woman
with long hair is that you
can’t typically get a complete
restyling. And you can forget
the head massages that some
posher salons throw in.
After 15 minutes, Davies is
done. He holds up a mirror as
I scrutinise the results. The
undercut is evenly shaved
and my head feels lighter.
If a woman asks him for the
same cut as a man — short
back and sides, say — he
“wouldn’t dream” of
overcharging her. In the end,
I give him a tenner for his
work. A cut and finish at a
traditional salon five minutes’
walk away would cost £68.
“Why should people have
to pay more if they’re
female?” Davies points out.
Quite right too.
In association with
Where next?
Discover Britain’s best places to live in our
exclusive 48-page magazine. Out March 18.
The Sunday Times March 11, 2018
Ursine of the times: Victoria the polar bear with her new cub, the first to be born in the UK for 25 years, at Scotland’s Highland Wildlife Park
Barbara Judge claims to have been “a
bit of a leftie” in her youth. This is not
an accusation that’s often made about
her these days. The corporate lawyer
and banker once described as “the bestconnected woman in Britain” last week
stepped down as chairwoman of the
Institute of Directors (IoD) to contest a
catalogue of allegations against her,
including suggestions she made racist
and sexist comments about staff. She
says she was never questioned about
the claims or given a chance to respond.
A leaked report of an inquiry into her
conduct set out 41 claims made by 14
people, included the allegations —
strongly rejected by
Judge — that:
l She told senior
staff: “I can’t
sack a black
person as they
would behave
l She once
said: “The
problem is,
we have one
black and we have
one pregnant
woman, and that
is the worst
l She told a female staff member not to
Why is Alexa suddenly laughing at
us? Users of Amazon’s intelligent
personal assistant have complained
that Alexa has suddenly started
emitting a chilling “witch-like”
cackle for no particular reason,
such as when she is asked to play
music. The company claimed the
glitch was caused by the voiceactivated device mistakenly hearing
“Alexa, laugh” and said it has
disabled the feature.
But there could be an even more
obvious explanation as to why
Alexa’s instinctive reaction to simple
instructions is now derisive laughter
— has she turned into a teenager?
Is this a clanger I see before me? Critics
have queued up to stick the knife into
the National Theatre artistic director
Rufus Norris’s new production of
Macbeth, starring Rory Kinnear and
Ann-Marie Duff.
“This production is a misjudged mess,
a horror show in all the wrong ways, and
a terrible waste of the acting talents,”
was one verdict. “A big blasted mess of a
show,” said another critic. “Kinnear . . .
seems to interpret the murderous
Scottish lord as a dithering bureaucrat.”
As that well-known theatrical
observer Lady Macbeth might have put
it, all the perfumes of Arabia will not
sweeten this little stinker.
What do you call a nation’s first lady
when she’s not married to
the head of state? The
actress Julie Gayet,
who was official
girlfriend to President
François Hollande of
France, says she
regarded herself as
“queen of
hearts”. She told
Paris Match
magazine: “The
role of the first
lady is sexist.
One person is
elected — not a
The pair’s
relationship was
exposed in
2014, and
Hollande broke
up with his
official first
lady, Valérie
weeks later.
Which makes
Julie the second
lady, doesn’t it?
Milliner to high society who designed
hats for Diana and Margaret Thatcher
John Boyd, who has died aged 92, was a
veteran milliner to royalty and high
society, most recently for the Duchess of
Cambridge. But his most notable
creations were for Diana, Princess of
Wales. When, on her wedding day, she
turned to the photographers in her
“going-away” outfit, perhaps only he
noticed that the pins and net used to
keep the ostrich plume on her pink
tricorn hat in place during delivery had
not been removed.
His clients also included Margaret
Thatcher. Boyd recalled that she was not
the Iron Lady when it came to hiding the
cost of her purchases from her husband.
The Times
Life in brief
Born: Barbara Singer, December 28,
1946, New York
Educated: Pennsylvania
University; New York
University School of Law
AND . . . NOT SO
That famous journal of feminist thought,
The Sun, celebrated International
Women’s Day on Thursday by asking six
young girls about gender issues.
Beatrix Boutique, 4, who wants to be
a princess when she grows up, was
asked: “What do mums do?” Her reply:
“Work and do boring things around
the house.” And dads? “Sit on the sofa
and cook Pot Noodles.”
Inaiya Doyle-Ngondo, 6, who wants to
be a vet, says mums “act sassy and cross
their legs” while dads “wear smelly
socks and grow beards”.
Meanwhile, aspiring mermaid Lola
Mapplebeck, 4, already has very clear
ideas about gender. “Girls are made of
sparkle and glitter,” she told the paper.
And boys? “Boys are made of poo.”
Now that’s what you call a radical
feminist slogan.
Live and let diet
Say what you like about the Daily Mail,
but nobody can fault the paper’s eye for
detail. Reporting on the attempted
murder of Sergei Skripal using a nerve
agent, other publications noted that the
Russian spy and his daughter had eaten
in Salisbury’s Zizzi restaurant before
becoming ill, The Sun mentioning they
ordered seafood risotto.
However, it was a Mail reporter,
Claire Duffin, who discovered not only
that the risotto came with squid rings
and a tomato, chilli and white wine
sauce, but also that the meal contained
600 calories.
Womb for error
A very big scoop for Metro on Thursday,
when the paper’s Twitter feed
announced that the Duchess of
Cornwall, who is 70, is expecting a
baby next month. Which was news to
Camilla’s son, Tom Parker Bowles,
who reacted: “Dear God. Really?”
As the Daily Star explained,
however, the paper had confused
Camilla with the Duchess of Cambridge.
So that’s the real story then: Duchess of
Cambridge still pregnant.
Antique headline of the week
Yet more evidence that newspaper
sub-editors might not be in the first flush
of youth. In Tuesday’s Mail, columnist
Richard Littlejohn wrote about Emily
Maitlis’s short skirts, mentioning that he
had “rather ungallantly” compared her
to a pole dancer.
The headline? “See Emily Play . . .”, a
reference to a Pink Floyd song of the
same name that was released in 1967 —
three years before Maitlis was even born.
Career: partner at Kaye
Scholer law firm, 1973-1980;
US securities and exchange
commissioner, 1980-83;
director, News International,
1993-94; chairwoman, UK
Atomic Energy Authority, 20042010; appointed CBE, 2010;
appointed chairwoman, Institute
of Directors, 2015
Personal life: married Allen Lloyd
Thomas, 1978-2002, one
son; married to Sir
Paul Judge from
2003 until his
death last year
“dress like a tart”.
As a child, the future Lady Judge
dreamt of being an actress, but her
tough New York mother told her to
become a lawyer instead. She found a
job at a corporate law firm but later
switched to banking so she wouldn’t be
competing with her lawyer husband, an
American lawyer. By now they were
both working in Hong Kong.
In the mid-1980s, they returned to
New York, then at the height of the
city’s “Bonfire of the Vanities” financial
boom, but moved to London, ostensibly
to escape from America’s
overwhelming money culture.
By 2007, she had a new husband and
was so established in the UK a profile in
the Daily Mail noted she “has more jobs
than seems possible. Name a board and
she is on it; find a charity and she is
associated with it.” Robert Peston called
her “one of the most impressive
networkers I have ever known”.
Yet she rejects the description as
well as suggestions she can be “chilly”
— although she recalled that, when
she was 30 and her husband threw
her a surprise birthday party: “We
had to work really hard to find 30
friends to invite. All I did was stay at
home and work.”
One friend, Sir Ken Olisa, her deputy
at the IoD and the first black lordlieutenant of Greater London, sprang to
her defence last week, saying: “I’ve
never seen a molecule of racism or
sexism in Barbara’s behaviour.” Yet
faced with so many claims, she’s going
to need those famous networking skills.
Inventor whose wind-up radio helped
spread health message in Africa
Trevor Baylis, who has died aged 80, will
be remembered as a pipe-smoking
British boffin whose most famous
invention, the clockwork radio, was
knocked up in his shed. It sold by the
million and helped save countless lives
in sub-Saharan Africa by making
possible health education broadcasts.
After national service he became a
salesman for a company that sold
free-standing swimming pools. To
demonstrate the products, he’d perform
comedy diving routines, including one
that involved plunging into the water in a
woman’s dress — while on fire.
In 1970, he enjoyed a stint as a circus
performer in Berlin, where he would be
tied up, blindfolded and submerged 10ft
underwater while dressed as an
Egyptian pharaoh.
Daily Mail
The Sunday Times March 11, 2018
Jeremy Clarkson
Use your loafers, with the right shoes you’ll
beat the jungle, illness and Corbyn’s reign
have never really seen the point of
opening a bank statement. Because
it either says you have money in
your account, in which case, so
what? Or it says you are overdrawn,
in which case, you’re going to what?
Magic the balance from behind the
sofa? Sell the dog for medical
experiments? Kill yourself?
Last week, however, while I was on
holiday, I did open a statement and,
worse, I read it. And I’ve never had such
a panic in my whole life, because
suddenly I could see how much
everything was costing. The little wi-fi
dongle, for instance, that I plug into the
cigarette lighter in my car. That costs
more to run than putting three children
through Eton. And Ocado? I spend less
on lawyers.
Over the years, I’ve wandered round
the world with my data-roaming on,
watching amusing clips of cats in
washing machines, imagining that
because it’s the internet it’s all free. But it
isn’t free. It’s pricier than my car.
Of course, in a time of plenty, which is
what the world’s been enjoying these
past 10 years, this recklessness isn’t too
bad, but in the past two weeks I’ve met
my accountant and a woman from my
bank, and both say with solemn faces
that the end is nigh; Corbyn is coming,
and everyone with a mortgage and a car
and enough for a family holiday in the
summer should make preparations.
“Yes,” I said sagely. But, actually, what
preparations can you make for the
arrival of a card-carrying lunatic? We
have no idea what madness he will
ejaculate into the economy or from
where his attacks on the fabric of
common sense will come.
We know only that if your parents
were born in Britain and you have more
than 25p to your name, you will be
visited in the night by his brown-suited
henchmen, who will take away your
money and give it to Hezbollah or that
annoying man on the pavement in town
who has a dog on a piece of string.
So how do you get ready? Do you put
all your money in a biscuit tin under the
bed? Or cover yourself in woad and
move to the woods? Should you be
getting lessons in how a crossbow works
and how to gut a rabbit? Or stocking up
on soup and other tinned foods? Or
getting in a sledge and going to the
countryside with Julie Christie?
Well, you can start — bear with me on
this one — by looking at what you spend
on shoes. According to figures that are
now five years old, the average British
woman buys 13 pairs a year. That, in a
lifetime, is £34,000. You could almost
run my wi-fi dongle for that.
You’d imagine men spend less, and
you’d be right. But it’s not much less. In
the US women spend $30bn on shoes
each year, and men a not-far-behind
$26.2bn. Whereas in the past two years
the amount I’ve spent on footwear is
£360, this being the price of one pair of
Tod’s loafers.
Now I will admit that on a wet
shopping-centre floor the Tod’s loafer is
useless. I visit the giant Westfield arcade
in west London extremely infrequently,
partly because it is full of horrible people
buying horrible things from horrible
shops but mostly because I almost
always fall over.
However, in every other environment
the loafers work brilliantly. You can wear
them for lunch in the Wolseley
restaurant on Piccadilly, and you can
wear them while climbing to the highest
point of a jungly island in the Seychelles.
I know this because I did it last week.
I have worn the same shoes pretty
much every day since I bought them. I
wear them to host my television show,
and I wear them in the field, so to speak.
I have played
football in them,
and tennis. I have
also slept in them.
Well, one of them
I wore them while crossing Colombia in
January, and I wore them in the snow we
had recently. They are the SUV of shoes.
You may argue that for various
sporting activities they would be
hopeless, but no. I have played football
in them, and tennis. I have also slept in
them. Well, one of them.
This morning, while on the beach, I
was alerted by some rumblings in my
tummy that I had only a few seconds
to reach a lavatory. And the nearest was
up 142 steps, behind the hotel’s
reception desk.
Now bear in mind that this was
midday in the tropics. The equator was
only 4 degrees away, and I can spit that
far. The steps would therefore be very
hot, so I’d need shoes. Flip-flops would
be quick to put on, for sure, but they’d
slow me down on the steps. Training
shoes would be ideal for the run, but
doing up the laces would mean getting as
far as the reception and then making a
mess of its marble floor.
Happily, I had the trusty loafers to
hand, which meant — and it was close —
that I made it to the loo in time.
They are also good in airports. You see
people struggling to get out of their Doc
Martens or their over-the-knee boots in
the security area, whereas you can kick
off your loafers in a second and
Then, when the plane journey is over
and your feet have swollen to the size of
barrage balloons, you can hear the
grunts of fellow passengers as they try in
vain to put their normal shoes back on,
whereas when you have a loafer, you can
just put the front of your foot in the shoe
and the job’s a good ’un.
You may find the idea of wearing the
same shoes every day ridiculous, but
trust me: when Corbyn has put a red flag
over Downing Street, you’ll be very glad
of this advice. You will also be glad if you
look at your bank statement and note
that you haven’t spent half your wage
that month on what, when all is said
and done, is nothing more than an
insurance policy in case you tread on a
piece of Lego.
Last week I accidentally alluded to the fact
that Cara Delevingne is pointless. She
isn’t. I meant Meryl Streep
North and South Korea talks
“It’s bound to be Putin”
“As it’s Mother’s Day, I’ve brought you Brexit in bed”
“Who hasn’t been eating my quinoa?”
Buy prints or signed copies of Nick Newman’s cartoons from our Print Gallery at
13°C r
8°C r
Los Angeles
22 f
18 s
8 sh
26 s
Mexico City
24 f
35 sh
21 s
18 f
-6 sn
11 f
28 sh
19 f
New Delhi
33 s
15 f
New Orleans
21 f
18 f
New York
5 f
4 sh
0 sn
16 sh
30 th
13 f
16 f
Buenos Aires
33 f
16 f
28 f
Rio de Janeiro
29 sh
2 f
19 sh
Cape Town
22 f
San Francisco
18 f
27 f
32 s
18 f
10 s
3 f
29 f
26 s
31 f
9 f
1 c
9 sh
23 dr
16 sh
Tel Aviv
20 f
29 f
25 s
0 sn
16 r
Hong Kong
20 s
3 sh
9 f
29 f
10 sh
30 s
29 s
10 r
La Paz
12 sh
15 f
30 f
11 f
26 f
Washington DC
8 f
14 th
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
¬ Mainly cloudy and feeling
warm with showery and
possibly thundery rain in
France, the Low Countries,
Corsica, the Balearics and
Sardinia, turning to snow
at times and slightly fresher
over parts of Spain, Portugal
and the Alps
¬ Warm with dry spells over
Germany, southern Italy and
Sicily, but thicker cloud will
bring persistent heavy and
thundery rain in northern
Italy and Slovenia
¬ Dry and becoming mild in
Turkey, the Balkans, Crete,
Cyprus, Moldova, Slovakia,
Poland, Ukraine and the
Czech Republic, but the risk
of a shower over Croatia,
Hungary and Slovakia later
¬ Rather cloudy at times
with patchy rain and snow
in southern Scandinavia, the
Baltic states and Belarus
UK forecast
Misty and foggy across much of Britain
at first, but this clearing to leave most of
northern England, Ireland and Scotland
dry with sunny spells. Thicker cloud
will bring heavy and possibly thundery
showers into southern areas during
the afternoon. Light to moderate east
or southeasterly winds over England,
Wales and Ireland. Mainly light easterly
winds in Scotland, but moderate or fresh
over the Northern Isles
London, SE England
Mainly dry but rather cloudy at times,
with heavy showers later. Light to
moderate southeasterly wind. Max 11C.
Tonight, isolated showers. Min 5C
Midlands, E Anglia, E England
Rather cloudy with showery rain,
possibly heavy, after a foggy start. Light
to moderate easterly wind. Max 11C.
Tonight, showery rain. Min 5C
Channel Is, SW and
Cent S England, S Wales
Cloudy with showery rain. Moderate
east or southeasterly wind. Max 11C.
Tonight, heavy showers. Min 5C
N Wales, NW England, Isle of Man
Mainly dry with showers later. Light
to moderate easterly wind. Max 11C.
Tonight, showery rain. Min 4C
Cent N and NE England
Mostly dry and sunny, turning cloudy
later. Light to moderate easterly wind
Max 10C. Tonight, showery rain. Min 2C
Dry with some sunny spells but also mist
and fog patches. Light easterly wind.
Max 8C. Tonight, foggy with rain. Min -1C
N Ireland, Republic of Ireland
Dry and sunny at first, but showers in
the south later. Light northeasterly wind.
Max 11C. Tonight, showery rain. Min 2C
Warmest by day
(Friday) 12.2C
Coldest by night
(Saturday) -8.7C
Boscombe Down
(Sunday) 61.6mm
(Friday) 9.9hr
Feeling fresher
with the risk of
showers, but drier
in places. Max 12C
Cloud and rain
in the west, drier
further north and
east. Max 13C
Breezy with
showers in the
south and west.
Max 12C
Heavy and
thundery showers
in places, drier in
the north. Max 13C
The elusive innermost planet Mercury
is 11° high and 4° above the brilliant
Venus in the W 30 minutes after sunset.
The waning Moon is low in the SE and
14° left of Saturn at 05:30 tomorrow.
Mars lies 11° right of Saturn, with Jupiter
prominent much further to their right.
Distance in millions of km tonight:
Mercury 152; Venus 245; Mars 194;
Jupiter 730; Saturn 1,541. Alan Pickup
Isobel Lang
Showers across
much of Britain,
heaviest in
England. Max 13C
The ideal Mother’s Day
present: an umbrella
Moon phase
Sun sets/
lights on
Showers or a
longer spell of
rain. Snow in the
north. Max 11C
With the spring equinox just
over a week away, we could
be forgiven for hoping for
some warmer days ahead.
Thanks to a southerly
wind, it has turned milder
this weekend but
temperatures are still a long
way off the UK record for
March of 25.6C in Mepal,
Cambridgeshire, set in 1968.
Last week began with cold
air over Scotland and easterly
winds feeding in snow
showers. Elsewhere, low
pressure to the southwest of
the UK brought in some rain
and a slow thaw.
Thursday morning saw a
shower band swirl across
England and Wales,
bringing a covering of
snow from Snowdonia
across the Pennines to
the North York Moors.
It did not last long, with
brisk westerly winds
bringing a return to
sunny skies.
Since then low pressure to
the west of Portugal, named
Storm Felix, has sent a band
of heavy rain northwards
across the UK, with some
mountain snow, followed by
milder but showery weather.
At least today the rain has
cleared the north, bringing
some sunshine. Flowers may
be traditional on Mother’s
Day but take an umbrella too,
as it’s shaping up to be an
unsettled few days.
Tomorrow the low will
move across southern
Britain, bringing gales and
rain. The north looks set to be
drier and brighter after early
fog. Tuesday should become
mostly fine in the east, again
after early fog, but be
prepared for further
showers to spread in
from the west. After
that, expect more
widespread rainfall
and strong winds at
Isobel Lang is a Sky
News forecaster
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