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The Sunday Times UK - 18 March 2018

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March 18, 2018 · Issue no 10,097·
£2.70 · only £2 to subscribers · Sunday Newspaper of the Year
Blackout threat
to Britain as
Putin hits back
Spy chiefs have warned the bosses
of Britain’s key power companies
to boost their security amid fears
of a Russian cyber-attack that
could put the lights out.
The National Grid was put on
alert last week by officials from the
National Cyber Security Centre
(NCSC) — a branch of the signals
intelligence agency GCHQ — and
given advice on how to improve its
defences to prevent power cuts.
Electricity, gas and water
firms, the Sellafield nuclear power
plant, Whitehall departments and
NHS hospitals have all been
warned to prepare for a statesponsored assault ordered by the
Kremlin after the nerve agent
attack in Salisbury.
NCSC officials, working with the
National Crime Agency and MI5’s
Centre for the Protection of
National Infrastructure, have told
key organisations that they could
face attempts to steal the data of
taxpayers and patients or “denial
of service” attacks that could shut
down their websites.
A Whitehall security source
said: “They’re contacting all the
critical national infrastructure
operators. They’ve been in touch
with National Grid with guidance.”
Paul Chichester, the NCSC
director of operations, said: “It is
absolutely right that we give advice
to sectors on defending themselves from cyber-attacks.
“We are vigilant to cyber-threats
wherever they come from and are
ready to defend against them.”
is viewed as a hotbed of espionage
the finances of Russian
oligarchs living in the UK
l Publish a further list of Russian
officials to be expelled.
Boris Johnson, the foreign
secretary, will address a meeting of
EU foreign ministers in Brussels
tomorrow and will meet the Nato
secretary-general, Jens Stoltenberg, to discuss joint action.
He writes in today’s Sun: “Today
Russia stands alone and isolated.
That fact demonstrates the most
telling difference between Britain
and Putin: we have friends across
the world and he does not.”
Alexander Yakovenko, the Russian ambassador to Britain, said
the dispute was “escalating dangerously out of proportion . . .
restraint is needed and cooler
Britain will not name the 23 Russian spies it has ordered to leave.
But intelligence chiefs are concerned that Moscow will publish
the names, photographs and job
titles of MI6 officers among those
to be expelled, a move that would
stop them serving abroad.
Offensive cyber-operations by
Britain against Russia have been
ruled out but Ciaran Martin, head
of the NCSC, said in January that “it
is a matter of when, not if” Britain
is hit with a “category one” cyberattack that causes loss of life or the
“disruption of critical systems”.
The NHS has boosted its defences after a cyber-attack
launched from North Korea last
year. In 2007 Russian hackers shut
down the websites of Estonia’s parliament, banks and media outlets.
l Target
The warnings come after Russia
announced that it was expelling
23 British diplomats in retaliation
for Theresa May’s decision to evict
23 Russian suspected spies after
the nerve agent attack on Sergei
Skripal and his daughter Yulia.
The British Council, which
promotes British culture and the
English language, will also be
expelled from Russia and plans
to reopen the British consulate in
St Petersburg are to be shelved.
May will chair a meeting of the
national security council on
Tuesday to decide how to respond.
Downing Street has drawn up
plans to:
l Pass emergency legislation to
make it easier to seize the assets of
people who live in Russia but launder their money though London
l Strengthen the visa regime to
make it harder for Vladimir Putin’s
cronies to travel to London
l Close a Russian trade outpost in
Highgate, north London, which
‘Star-struck’ charity boss inquiry
Jon Ungoed-Thomas
The boss of an air ambulance
charity faces an investigation over
claims that he abused his position
to satisfy his “absolute fascination”
with celebrities, The Sunday Times
can reveal.
Andy Williamson, chief executive of the Air Ambulance Service,
asked a concierge service for the
super-rich, that had been hired by
his charity, to help him meet
celebrities, including the Hollywood actor Charlie Sheen.
Williamson also asked the firm
to arrange a “meet and greet” with
the band Little Mix and for him to
join The Ivy’s private members
club with his “friend”, the EastEnders actor Adam Woodyatt.
The Charity Commission said
last night that it was reopening an
investigation into Air Ambulance
which had first been triggered by
complaints from a former trustee.
Rebecca Harding reported her
concerns in January last year about
alleged misconduct, mismanage-
ment and insufficient oversight by
trustees. The charity also faces
allegations about bullying.
The commission admitted that
its response — it had advised trustees in February 2017 that the matter could be dealt with “discreetly”
— “fell short of our procedures”.
The Sincura Group, a luxury
concierge service, was hired by the
Air Ambulance Service, which has
annual income of about £16m, in
March 2016 to raise extra funds.
Williamson was given a complimentary membership which he
Continued on page 2 →
Give Tasers
to all police
on beat, says
top officer
Andrew Gilligan
Crackdown on oligarchs’ Londongrad wealth
Tim Shipman, Richard Kerbaj
and Caroline Wheeler
A heavily pregnant Duchess of Cambridge braves the bitter cold yesterday as she and Prince William
enjoy a St Patrick’s Day parade by the Irish Guards in west London. The Gina Foster hat she teamed with
a Catherine Walker coat is becoming a St Patrick’s Day favourite: she also wore it to the parade in 2014
All police officers on the beat
should be allowed to carry Taser
weapons, according to the man in
charge of armed policing in
England and Wales.
Speaking a year after the Westminster terror attack, Simon Chesterman, deputy chief constable of
West Mercia and firearms lead for
the National Police Chiefs’ Council,
said: “I personally would not want
to be a frontline patrol officer now
without Taser. My view is that if an
officer wants to carry it and they
can meet the standard, they
should be allowed to carry it.”
Asked whether he expected to
see the majority of officers armed
with Tasers on routine patrol,
Chesterman said: “I think we
should be having more of a conversation with the public about this. I
hope we will see an increasing rollout of Taser.”
He stressed the decision was for
chief constables but said: “I think
officers now deserve the protection it affords them.” The move
would end almost two centuries of
unarmed policing in the UK.
The Taser incapacitates its targets, firing two 50,000-volt needle-tipped darts, causing intense
pain. About a dozen people have
died in the UK following police use
of a Taser. In one case, involving
23-year-old Jordan Begley, an
inquest ruled that Taser use had
helped cause the death and a
safety review was ordered.
However, Taser deployment has
continued to rise, with the weapons drawn 11,289 times in 2016, 9%
up on the previous year, and fired
1,755 times. In 2014 the Independent Police Complaints Commission
said there was “considerable public concern” about the weapon and
warned against “mission creep”.
Chesterman admitted that some
people “perceive [Taser] as an
instrument of torture” but said it
had saved many lives and was less
damaging to suspects than being
hit with a baton.
Revealed: the transgender email
Sian Griffiths and Josh McStay
Transgender etiquette has produced a new linguistic complication at leading British universities.
Students and academics are
being encouraged to sign their
emails with their names, titles,
telephone numbers and whether
they prefer to be known as he or
she — or another option.
The addition of “he/him”, “she/
her” or “they/them” to the end of
emails is intended to “normalise
the use of gender pronouns” — and
prevent transgender students
from being wrongly addressed.
Students at Oxford are also
being invited to declare their preferred pronouns before speaking
at union meetings.
“It’s a simple courtesy like
checking you’re using someone’s
name correctly,” said Aisling Murray, who adds “she/her” to emails
she sends as society and citizenship officer at Sussex University.
The philosopher AC Grayling, —
who is firmly a fan of “he/him ” —
said he expected the practice to
TV & Radio
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The Sunday Times March 18, 2018
Last week at the British Press Awards
this newspaper won five awards,
including the prestigious scoop of the
year prize picked up by Tom Harper,
Jon Ungoed-Thomas and
Richard Kerbaj for their report
“Police: We found porn on deputy
PM’s computers”.
Niall Ferguson triumphed in the
broadsheet columnist of the year
category, Martin Hemming was
named travel journalist of the year and
Gabriel Pogrund took the honours
for young journalist of the year.
Completing the haul, The Sunday
Times Magazine won supplement
of the year.
This newspaper was also highly
commended in six categories: travel
journalist John Arlidge;
showbiz reporter Chrissy Iley;
broadsheet feature writer
Christina Lamb; cartoonist
Police: We foun
Morten Morland (jointly with
deputy PM’s co d porn on Man
The Times); scoop of the year
May’s closest ally
“No 10 covered up Trident
by new revelatio shaken
missile fiasco” and
supplement of the year Culture.
Our sister newspaper
The Times also won
five prizes: critic of
the year and the best
of humour awards,
both Hugo Rifkind,
cartoonist of the
No 11 puts hom
Peter Brookes,
es at heart of
budget Jack
and Jill aren’t
best sports
Marc Aspland
and sports
team of
the year.
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our scoop of the
year, Niall Ferguson,
Gabriel Pogrund and
Martin Hemming
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on page 2 →
Continued on
page 2 →
Tim Shipman
incentives for
Political Edit
I know the
between a
hand and a
March 18,
Clockwise from right, Culture, our
Trident scoop, Morten Morland
cartoon, Christina Lamb,
ohn Arlidge
Chrissy Iley and John
New fears over
Brexit timetable
A secret report warns
that Britain’s borders and
databases will not be
ready for the EU trade
deal at the end of 2020
Tim Shipman Political Editor
Britain’s customs system will not be
ready in time for the start of its new
relationship with the European Union at
the end of 2020, according to a damning
report presented in secret to senior
cabinet ministers last week.
The readiness assessment, drawn up
by senior civil servants, was given to
Theresa May’s Brexit war cabinet on
Tuesday afternoon. But ministers did not
get a chance to study it properly before
the meeting was cut short by a Commons
The cabinet was told it would have to
sign up in Brussels this week to a
transition phase lasting 21 months from
the date of Brexit next March, with a new
trade deal kicking in at the end of
December 2020. David Davis, the Brexit
secretary, announced on Thursday that
Britain would accept the EU’s target date
of March 29, 2019.
Cabinet sources, however, said a study
of readiness across a whole range of
sectors revealed that not enough work
has been done to prepare key organisations, computer systems and staff for the
end of the transition phase.
A cabinet source said: “The paper was
on the end date for the implementation
period. It was only circulated to ministers
at the meeting with 15 minutes’ reading
time. It was the EU that has offered
December 31, 2020. Nothing else is
negotiable. But we won’t be ready on
everything by then, notably customs.”
Another said: “The readiness updates
showed there were problems with
borders and databases, which won’t be
ready in time.”
Details of the cabinet paper emerged
after MPs on the Brexit select committee
called for the prime minister to request
an extension of the EU’s article 50
process beyond next March.
The move led to a split in the select
committee, with dissenting Tory and
Democratic Unionist Party Brexiteers,
including Jacob Rees-Mogg, writing their
own “minority report” that contradicted
the rest of their colleagues.
Davis will travel to Brussels today and
meet the EU’s chief negotiator, Michel
Barnier, to discuss the final terms of the
transition deal. May will attend a summit
there on Thursday and Friday where the
other member states are expected to rubber stamp that deal and issue instructions for negotiating the trade deal.
Today senior Eurosceptics, including
the former cabinet ministers David Jones
and Owen Paterson, have written to Barnier and Jean-Claude Juncker, the European Commission president. The letter
warns them to stop bullying Britain during negotiations — or risk the UK walking
away without paying the £40bn exit bill.
“No amount of threats, scaremongering and bullying will make us change our
mind” on Brexit, says the letter, which
has been copied to the European Council
president, Donald Tusk, and the European parliament’s Brexit negotiator, Guy
Verhofstadt. “The alternative is that we
just leave, in which case the people of the
UK will simply not tolerate paying to the
EU the very large sums being talked
£50,000 ON
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The portcullis logo, left, has been redesigned to make it less ‘confusing’, right
as a wes
lif as
John Collingridge
7, 8, 13, 24, 45, 46
Bonus 39
18, 19, 29, 33, 37
Thunder Ball 5
4, 17, 24, 27, 31
Lucky Stars 10, 11
It may be a time of austerity
but that has not stopped
MPs spending £50,000
rebranding the mother
of parliaments.
The Speaker John Bercow
hired a consultancy,
SomeOne, to redesign the
famous crown and portcullis
logo to make it less
“confusing and
To the casual eye,
however, it is difficult to
see where the money went.
The changes are not
exactly dramatic. The name
“Houses of Parliament”
has been replaced with
“UK Parliament”.
Officials said previous
versions of the portcullis
logo, which is 500 years old,
were being consolidated
into one. A spokesman said
the two houses of
parliament shared a range
of services that “have
previously used a confusing
and inconsistent range of
The rebrand has echoes
of Royal Mail’s ill-fated £2m
change to Consignia plc in
2001, which was reversed
16 months later after it was
pointed out that this was an
anagram of “panic closing”.
London firm accused of Facebook data grab
Nicholas Hellen
Social Affairs Editor
Facebook has suspended
Cambridge Analytica, a
London-based company that
worked for Donald Trump’s
2016 presidential campaign,
after accusing it of receiving
personal data from social
media accounts without
A whistleblower said the
data grab involved
information from more than
50m Facebook profiles. The
social media giant questioned
this figure, saying data was
gleaned from 270,000 people
who downloaded an app and
an unspecified number of
their friends.
Christopher Wylie, the
whistleblower, told Channel 4
News: “Steve [Bannon,
Trump’s campaign chief ]
wanted weapons for his
culture war. We offered a way
to accomplish what he
wanted to do, which was to
change the culture of
Wylie, who worked for the
owner of Cambridge
Analytica, Strategic
Communication Laboratories
(SCL), added: “A computer
sees all kinds of sides of you
so we can get better than
human level accuracy at
predicting your behaviour.”
SCL said in a statement that
none of the data was used in
the 2016 campaign and it had
since deleted it.
The data was gathered in
2014 through an app,
described as “a research app
used by psychologists” that
paid people to give
information on their own
personality. It was operated
by Dr Aleksandr Kogan, an
American who subsequently
changed his surname to
Spectre. He is a psychology
research associate at
Cambridge University.
The university was at pains
to distance itself from Kogan’s
commercial work, saying:
“Based on assurances from
Dr Kogan as well as the
evidence available to us, we
have no reason to believe he
used university data or
facilities for his work with
[Kogan’s company] GSR.”
Facebook, however,
released Kogan’s own
description of his work,
which presented it as purely
academic. He wrote: “This
app is part of a research
programme in the
department of psychology at
the University of Cambridge.
The data will never be used
for commercial purposes.”
Facebook did not go public
in 2015 when, it now says, it
first discovered “that Kogan
lied to us and violated our
platform policies by passing
data from an app that was
using Facebook Login to SCL/
Cambridge Analytica”.
It said in a statement that
although he had obtained the
data legitimately, he violated
its policies by passing the
data to third parties.
It said: “When we learnt of
this violation in 2015 we
removed his app from
Facebook and demanded
certifications from Kogan and
all parties he had given data
to that the information had
been destroyed. Cambridge
Analytica, Kogan and Wylie
all certified to us that they
destroyed the data.”
However, Facebook had
learnt in the past few days
that not all data was deleted.
The company faced further
embarrassment when it
emerged that Joseph
Chancellor, a former director
and shareholder at GSR,
works at Facebook.
The Information
Commissioner’s Office said
there was no legal
requirement for Facebook to
tell it about what it described
as a “personal data breach”.
No 10 ‘raps minister for Russia sabre-rattling’
Tim Shipman
When Gavin Williamson
said Russia should “go away”
and “shut up” last week, his
comments raised eyebrows
in Downing Street — but it
might have been worse.
Senior sources said that
when the defence secretary
submitted the text of his
speech condemning Moscow
and Vladimir Putin, it also
raised the heart rates of
Theresa May’s team because
he appeared to be declaring
war on Russia.
The sources added that
Williamson was planning to
declare that “the conflict”
Charity boss
‘fascinated by
with Russia had begun, which
created panic and incredulity
at the heart of government.
“Conflict has a very
precise legal meaning in
international law,” said a
Whitehall security source.
“Gavin might be ready for
war but the rest of us would
like to avoid that if possible.”
Williamson’s outspoken
style created such a headache
for the prime minister’s team
that a senior Downing Street
official called colleagues in
another department and
denounced the defence
secretary for being “childish”
and “unhelpful” at a time
when the government was
trying to calibrate its
response to Moscow’s
aggression. He indicated that
No 10 would issue Williamson
with a slap on the wrist.
“Gavin got a bollocking,”
another source said.
Williamson’s aides deny
the reprimand was issued.
The defence secretary is
believed to be planning a
leadership bid and MPs say
his advisers have urged him
to use blunt language to
appeal to party members.
A No 10 spokesman said:
“We don’t recognise this
→ Continued from page 1
did not declare on his register
of interests.
Tony Baxter, director of
Sincura, said Williamson had
an “absolute fascination”
with celebrities — to the
detriment of the charity.
Williamson said Baxter had
made the allegations after his
contract was terminated. The
claims were untrue and he
had been cleared of any
wrongdoing after an inquiry.
He added that he did not
disclose his Sincura
membership because he had
held it for only a short time.
He said his wife had arranged
a meeting with Sheen and he
did not join The Ivy’s club.
Russia crisis, pages 14-17
Full story, page 7
Page 23
Vladimir Yakunin’s book
The Treacherous Path: An
Insider’s Account of Modern
Russia, reviewed on page 36
of Culture, was withdrawn
by the publisher
after the section
went to press.
We apologise for
any inconvenience
The Sunday Times March 18, 2018
Hawking’s parting shot is multi-cosmic
A final theory submitted
by the renowned scientist
just days before his death
last week shows how we
might find other universes
Jonathan Leake
Science Editor
It could be Stephen Hawking’s most important legacy. As his family were coming
together to plan the funeral of the
“world’s most famous scientist”, his
academic colleagues learnt that he has
left behind a final groundbreaking research paper — completed on his deathbed — describing how humanity might
detect other universes.
The research, submitted two weeks
ago, sets out the maths needed for a space
probe to find experimental evidence for
the existence of a “multiverse”. This is
the idea that our cosmos is only one of
many universes. If such evidence had
been found while he was alive, it might
have put Hawking in line for the Nobel
prize he had desired for so long.
“This was Stephen: to boldly go where
Star Trek fears to tread,” said Thomas
Hertog, professor of theoretical physics
at KU Leuven University in Belgium, who
co-authored the paper. “He has often
been nominated for the Nobel and
should have won it. Now he never can.”
The paper by Hawking and Hertog
confronts an issue that had bothered
Hawking since the 1983 “no-boundary”
theory he devised with James Hartle,
describing how the universe exploded
into existence with the Big Bang.
Under the theory it instantaneously expanded from a tiny
point into the prototype of the
Eddie Redmayne
and Felicity Jones
in The Theory of
Everything and,
below, Hawking and
second wife Elaine
universe we see today — a process known
as inflation. The problem for Hawking
was that the theory also predicted that
“our” Big Bang was accompanied by an
infinite number of others, each producing a separate universe.
This was a mathematical paradox that
made it impossible to test the idea
experimentally. “We wanted to transform the idea of a multiverse into a
testable scientific framework,”
said Hertog.
He had a meeting with Hawking a fortnight ago to get final
approval for the paper, A
Smooth Exit from Eternal
Inflation, which is now under
review by a leading journal.
Hawking’s final theory has
a tragic implication as well as
a triumphant one because it
also predicts that the ultimate fate of our universe is
simply to fade into blackness as all its stars run out
of energy.
Such ideas are controversial among cosmologists.
director of Canada’s Perimeter Institute and a
friend of Hawking’s, but
who disagreed with his
ideas, said: “I remain
puzzled as to why he found
this picture interesting.”
Other scientists said Hawking’s work might represent the
breakthrough that cosmology
needs, especially because it was
the first such theory that could
be tested in experiments.
“A consequence of inflation is
that there should be a multitude
of universes, but we have never
been able to measure this,” said
Carlos Frenk, professor of
cosmology at Durham
“The intriguing idea in
Hawking’s paper is that
[the multiverse] left its
imprint on the background
universe and we
could measure it with a
detector on a spaceship.
“These ideas offer the
breathtaking prospect of finding evidence for the existence of other universes.
This would profoundly
change our perception of
our place in the cosmos.”
What to call such a
spaceship? “The Hawking
Cosmic Probe, of course,”
said Frenk.
Stephen boldly
goes where Star
Trek fears to tread
A mother and daughter
have been shot dead at
their home by a gunman
known to the family, sparking
a frantic murder hunt by
armed police in a quiet
seaside town.
Heather Whitbread, 53,
and her daughter, Michelle,
32, were killed just before
8pm on Friday in a hail of
bullets believed to have been
fired through the window of
their semi-detached house in
St Leonards-on-Sea, East
Another daughter, Raven,
24, who is heavily pregnant,
was in the property in Bexhill
Road at the time, but escaped
unscathed, along with a
fourth woman.
There were unconfirmed
reports yesterday that the
gunman may have been
Raven’s former partner.
A 35-year-old man was
arrested on suspicion of
murder after a two-hour hunt
which involved firearms
officers from London being
scrambled to assist local
The suspect is thought to
have been tracked down after
trying to escape via a nearby
railway underpass that leads
to the beach.
A gun was seized at the
Last night, a neighbour
paid tribute to the “lovely
family”. “The tragedy is that
two generations of the same
family have just been killed,”
said Chris Woodhead, who
lived next door to the
Whitbreads for a decade.
“Raven will probably want
to tell her story at some
point, but I don’t think the
whole world needs to know
the ins-and-outs yet. He [the
suspect] will have his day in
court. Right now, people
should be mourning the
“They were always hard
working, getting on with
things — happy, smiley; just
really nice.”
The Whitbreads are
Armed police at the scene
originally from Islington,
north London, and also spent
time in west Wales before
moving to St Leonards in
Heather is believed to have
been estranged from her
daughters’ father, Stephen
Poskitt, and bought her house
in cash for £180,000,
according to Land Registry
Michelle worked as a
painter and decorator. Raven,
is said to be expecting a baby
girl. They are thought to have
at least one other sibling, a
brother called Adam.
Armed officers led Raven
and another unnamed
woman to safety from their
home on Friday night. They
were uninjured but were
treated in hospital for shock.
Detective Chief
Superintendent Jason
Tingley, of Sussex police,
said: “The women were
known to the suspect . . . We
are not looking for anyone
else in connection with this
incident, but we are
appealing for any witnesses
to come forward.”
Another officer involved in
the case, Inspector Mark
Rosser, described the
shooting as “a horrendous
crime” and “one of the worst
shifts I’ve had in 25 years’
Using Twitter to thank the
Metropolitan police for their
firearms support, Rosser
added: “It was one of those
nights where you knew
something bad was
happening, but got even
worse as it unravelled.”
Who? I didn’t watch show, says new Doctor
Chrissy Iley
and Iram Ramzan
Jodie Whittaker, who made
television history when she
became the first woman to
play the lead in Doctor Who,
has admitted that no one
in her family watched the
BBC show.
Whittaker, 35, best known
for her role as Beth Latimer
in the ITV crime drama
Broadchurch, said: “As a
family we didn’t watch it
except at other people’s
houses. But I was much
more aware of it when it
came back with Christopher
Eccleston, David Tennant
and Matt Smith.”
The admission follows
Smith’s revelation that he
“hadn’t even seen one”
episode before his audition.
Whittaker: fight
for equal pay
Jodie Whittaker
Pages 8-11
Jonathan Leake
Stephen Hawking
with former wife
Jane and their
daughter Lucy at the
Bafta awards in 2015
Suspect held after women
gunned down in seaside home
Dipesh Gadher
Funeral poses a
numbers problem
for grieving children
In an exclusive interview
with The Sunday Times
Magazine today, Whittaker
said she used the codename
“the Clooney” to refer to her
new role before the news was
made public. She explained
that the actor George Clooney
was “an iconic guy” to her
and her husband.
When asked about playing
the first female Doctor, she
urged fans not to be anxious:
“They have lived through so
many changes, and this is
only a new, different one, not
a fearful one.”
Whittaker fought to be
paid the same as her
predecessor, Peter Capaldi,
who earned between
£200,000 and £249,999.
Doctor Who returns in
the autumn on BBC 1
He solved some of the
greatest mysteries in
cosmology but for
Stephen Hawking’s
children those
problems may seem
small compared to the
ones he left behind — such
as whom to invite to his
Hawking leaves two
former wives, Jane and
Elaine, and three children
and is also mourned by
hundreds of colleagues and
collaborators and
thousands who met
him, worked with
him or even, like
Eddie Redmayne,
portrayed him on
His funeral will be
held in Cambridge this
month — but there is
speculation as to
whether Elaine will be
among the 500
mourners. She married
Hawking in 1995 but they
divorced 11 years later,
after Cambridgeshire
police had investigated
alleged assaults against
him — which he and Elaine
denied had taken place.
Hawking’s life is also
expected be
commemorated with a
memorial service in
Westminster Abbey, an
accolade reserved for
exceptional individuals.
“Dr John Hall, dean of
Westminster, has offered
the family a memorial service
in the abbey,” a
spokeswoman said.
That would mean
Hawking’s three children,
Robert, 50, Lucy, 47, and
Timothy, 38, who are
organising the events, would
have to compile invitation
lists of more than 2,000
Hawking’s children would
not say if they planned a
burial or cremation, or if
Elaine, 68, might attend.
Invitees will span the
worlds of academia, showbiz
and politics, from science
celebrities such as Brian Cox
and Sir Tim Berners-Lee,
creator of the worldwide
web, to Redmayne and
Felicity Jones, his co-star who
played Jane in the 2014
biopic, The Theory of
Those invited could
include Barack Obama, who
gave Hawking the
presidential medal of
PAGES 24-25
freedom and tweeted last
week: “Have fun out there
among the stars.”
Despite Hawking’s atheism
the Cambridge service will be
held in a church — albeit one
that allows services for nonbelievers. The Westminster
Abbey service will be a
religious one with prayers
and hymns.
“What a triumph his life
has been,” said Lord Rees of
Ludlow, the astronomer
royal. “His name will live in
the annals of science; millions
have had their cosmic
horizons widened by his
bestselling books; and even
more . . . have been inspired
by a unique example of
achievement against all
The Sunday Times March 18, 2018
Jewish councillors expose Corbynistas’ ‘crude abuse’
Andrew Gilligan
Two serving Jewish Labour
councillors have spoken out
for the first time to expose the
“extraordinary” levels of
“institutional anti-semitism”
in Momentum’s Haringey
heartland in north London.
Joe Goldberg and Natan
Doron said they had been
repeatedly abused to their
faces by pro-Corbyn Labour
members — including fellow
councillors — with crude
allusions to their race or
insulting references to the
Goldberg, the council’s
cabinet member for
economic development, said
he was accused by a Labour
councillor of “bagel-barrel
politics”. The same councillor
criticised academy schools as
comparable to
“Kristallnacht”, the Nazi
pogrom in which 1,400
synagogues were attacked
and dozens of Jews
“This is not just on social
media. Many members have
repeated to me assertions
about Jews having big noses,
controlling the media and
being wealthy,” he said.
“It has become impossible
to operate as a Jewish
councillor in the Haringey
party without having your
views and actions prejudged
or dismissed in terms that
relate to your ethnicity.”
Doron said he was twice
harangued while out
canvassing — not by voters on
the doorstep but by fellow
Labour members he was
working with. “One of them
started having a rant about
how Israel was a Nazi country
and I had no right to be
offended because Israel had
no right to exist,” he said.
The pair are among more
than 20 serving Labour
Haringey councillors who
have resigned or been
deselected and will be
replaced in May’s local
elections by pro-Momentum
candidates. The council,
Goldberg: suffered insults
which is safely Labour, is
almost certain to become the
first run by the hard-left
group. After Goldberg
announced his retirement, a
Haringey Momentum activist,
Shahab Mossavat, tweeted:
“At least [you] will have more
time to count your money.”
Doron’s replacement as a
candidate, Charley Allan, was
suspended from the party last
year for using the insulting
term “Zio”. Doron said:
“People are worried and
scared and Haringey Labour
is definitely not a safe space
for Jews. This is 100% not the
party I joined.”
Goldberg said he had made
at least five formal complaints
to local officials but got
nowhere. “I complained to
the Labour whip, Lorna
Reith, but she told me antisemitism was a ‘debatable
term’,” he said. Yesterday
Reith said: “It doesn’t sound
like anything I would say.”
She said she took complaints
of anti-semitism “extremely
seriously” and that Goldberg
had not responded to her
invitations to meet.
On Holocaust Memorial
Day in January 2015, Reith
retweeted a picture equating
Israel’s military attacks on
Gaza to the Holocaust.
The Sunday Times has
seen a report into one of the
complaints showing that in
2016 Momentum’s thenchairman in Haringey, Phil
Rose, admitted sharing
material from an anti-semitic,
far-right American website on
the members-only Tottenham
Labour Party Facebook
group. Rose posted a link to, a recognised hate
site, in a discussion about
Jackie Walker, a national
Momentum activist
suspended after saying that
Jews were the “chief
financiers of the slave trade”.
Rose was cleared after
insisting the material was not
itself anti-semitic and he had
not realised was a
hate site. He said: “The
motivation behind the
complaint was to use alleged
anti-semitism as a weapon to
silence criticism of Israel.”
Haringey Labour officials
did not return calls.
I couldn’t save knifed
PC and it haunts me
The government minister who rushed to
the aid of the police officer killed in the
Westminster terrorist attack has revealed
he still agonises, almost a year later,
over whether he could have done more to
save him.
Tobias Ellwood ran towards gunfire to
give mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to PC
Keith Palmer, 48, who was stabbed by
Khalid Masood in the cobbled forecourt
of the Palace of Westminster on March 22.
Speaking ahead of the anniversary of
the attack on Thursday, the 51-year-old
ex-army officer said he was still haunted
by the atrocity. Ellwood, a defence minister, said: “He was alive when I arrived on
the scene. That’s what haunts me . . .
when I arrived he was alive and there was
a pulse and when I left there wasn’t.”
Rejecting claims that he was a hero,
Ellwood, who lost his brother Jon in the
Bali bombing in 2002, added: “I didn’t
succeed that day and I have to live with
that every day . . . I still rack my brains
about what more we could have done.”
Palmer was guarding the carriage
gates, the entrance ministers use to get
PC Keith Palmer
pictured with US
tourist Staci
Martin just before
his murder
into the grounds of parliament, when he
came face to face with Masood, who was
armed with two large knives, moments
after the terrorist drove a car into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge.
MPs have since called for the entrance
to be renamed after the police officer as a
mark of his “gallantry and sacrifice”, but
it is understood his family have rejected
the proposal as they continue to grieve.
Ellwood, who is still uncomfortable
speaking about what happened, led the
efforts to save Palmer before an air ambulance arrived. He said: “I vividly remember the quietness in contrast to the usual
busyness, then the helicopter landing,
which was really noisy. And then the guys
in red turned up — the ones with “doctor”
on their uniform — a huge relief.
“I expected the helicopter to take him
away but clearly they needed to stabilise
him before they could move him. I
expected at that point to be told to move
away but I was instead told to continue
with compressions.”
The Conservative MP for Bournemouth East added: “I didn’t know when
to stop, even when the doctor said he
thought we had done everything we
could do for him. I said, ‘You are going to
have to tell me to stop because I am delivering the oxygen to his brain.’ And he
looked at me and called the time of death
and said, ‘Thank you. We have done all
we can.’ And then, as the true professionals they are, they picked up all their
things and went to help the people on
Westminster Bridge.”
Ellwood said he was frustrated that so
little preventative work had been done in
the years between the two terrorist
attacks that have touched his life.
“We need to do more otherwise this
will be recurring,” he said. “The people
who killed PC Palmer and my brother
have scant understanding of the religion
of Islam.
“The Islamic religion actually prohibits suicide and there needs to be better
education so youngsters are not told
what to think but how to think; not what
to read but how to read and interpret it.”
Fifth of schools in
debt, say heads
More than a fifth of head
teachers say their school is
in the red, up from 8% two
years ago, according to a
National Association of
Headteachers survey. Heads
have cut staff, increased
class sizes and even closed
schools early on Fridays to
try to make savings.
Male fertility alert
over plastic toys
Exposure to a chemical
found in plastic toys,
cosmetics and PVC could
harm male fertility, a study
has found. The University of
Illinois studied the impact on
male mice, and found it “may
be a contributing factor to
the decreased sperm counts
and qualities in modern men
compared to previous
Muslim hate letters
‘sent by neo-Nazi’
A year on, the minister caught in the Westminster attack reveals his agony
Caroline Wheeler
Deputy Political Editor
A “Punish a Muslim Day”
hate campaign targeting
MPs — including the
communities secretary
Sajid Javid — is believed to
be the work of a neo-Nazi
loner from the north of
England. Anti-terrorism
police are closing in on the
sender of the letters.
BBC robots show
marches off screen
Robot Wars, the BBC’s cult
TV show which saw amateur
roboticists pit their creations
against each other, has been
axed to “make room for new
shows”. The programme,
presented by comedian Dara
O Briain, ran from 1998 to
2003 before being rebooted
in 2016.
Tobias Ellwood, centre, police and ambulance workers try to save the life of PC Keith
Palmer after he was stabbed outside the Palace of Westminster in March last year
Machete attack
on drinker in bar
‘Poisonous’ Bercow accused of
cruelty and humiliating staff
A man suffered life-changing
injuries when his hand was
cut in a machete attack in
Manchester city centre on
Friday night. Police were
called to the Barca Club
where the victim, in his
thirties, was attacked as
he was drinking with
Kenza Bryan
John Bercow, the Speaker of
the House of Commons, is
under fresh pressure after
two former members of his
staff came forward with new
claims of bullying.
A former senior official
and a former clerk said
Bercow had humiliated
people who were working for
him — in front of others and
also behind their backs.
“He’s been the poison
dwarf at the top of the system
for nine years,” a one-time
staff member claimed.
According to the former
clerk, two junior members of
staff complained in 2014
about Bercow shouting at
them, under the Revised
Respect Policy that the
Speaker had introduced to
combat the bullying and
harassment of Commons
Bercow later apologised,
he said.
Separately, a former
official who regularly worked
14-hour days attending to
Bercow described being
taunted by the Speaker: “He
was a reasonable mimic and
what he would do to me in
front of other people was to
imitate you using words you
would never use, so that was
very cruel.”
The former official claimed
to have been recalled from
holiday only to be told by
Bercow that there was no
reason to be at work and said
he was “finished” after a year
of being shouted at “very,
very regularly”. He added:
“Some days he would just
completely blank you,
making it difficult to work.”
Bercow is understood to
deny all allegations of bad
behaviour. His representative
said yesterday: “The Speaker
completely and utterly
[rejects] the allegation that he
behaved in such a manner . . .
Any suggestion to the
contrary is simply untrue.”
The Speaker is already
under scrutiny after Andrea
Leadsom, leader of the
Commons, recommended a
“short, independently led
inquiry” into allegations that
staff had been mistreated by
Bercow and two MPs. All
three deny the allegations.
The former official claimed
that Bercow would refuse to
Bercow: denies all claims
read research prepared for
him before meetings, then
complain that he had been
badly briefed: “It was like
dealing with a small child.
There was no reward, no
interest and no help.”
He said he “couldn’t sleep
for years” after leaving
Bercow’s employment.
The former clerk claimed
to have witnessed how
“distraught” Bercow’s former
private secretary, Kate Emms,
had been after working for
him eight years ago. Bercow
has faced calls to resign over
allegations that he had
bullied her, which he denies.
“I can remember her not
wanting to go into the
chamber to deliver a message
to someone because
[Bercow] might see her,” the
former clerk recalled.
“We’ve lost some good
people from the House of
Commons and my guess is
there’s some good people
who haven’t joined us
because of this.”
Both former staff members
asked not to be named.
The House of Commons
commission — a group of
MPs, house staff and
experts responsible for
administration — is expected
to decide tomorrow whether
to hold an inquiry.
It is not expected to look at
individual cases, however,
prompting claims that it will
be “toothless”.
Rust Belt Tories to woo millennials
Tim Shipman Political Editor
A group of “Rust Belt Tory”
MPs who won their seats in
Labour heartlands are to
launch a campaign this week
telling Theresa May how to
appeal to young voters.
The Freer campaign,
which is backed by the
cabinet minister Liz Truss,
will argue that millennials are
not as left-wing as they are
The MPs will say the
generation believes in
personal freedom and can be
won over if the Conservatives
offer them social freedoms as
well as economic liberalism.
The group will be run by
Lee Rowley and Luke
Graham, both state-educated
MPs in their thirties, who
represent working-class seats
in Derbyshire and Perthshire.
Rowley’s aunt was once
the secretary to the firebrand
miners’ leader Arthur
Scargill. He said: “One of the
most individualistic,
determined and outspoken
generations in history is
coming of age.
“It’s crucial that we
harness this and recast the
argument about a freer
economy and a freer society.”
Future papers planned by
the group include one on
freedom of expression by the
rising star Kemi Badenoch
and another on the nanny
state by Simon Clarke.
Charlie Gard’s
father hits back
Chris Gard, whose baby son
Charlie died last year after
a legal battle with Great
Ormond Street Hospital,
said in a letter to The Sunday
Times he was worried about
“a concerted attempt”
to “discredit” those who
challenge medical decisions.
Chris Gard and Connie
Yates with son Charlie.
Letters, page 22
Diabetic May gives
thanks for NHS
Theresa May said yesterday
she was “eternally grateful”
every day for the NHS, which
helps her to cope with her
type 1 diabetes. Speaking at
the Tory spring forum in
London, the prime minister
said doubts about her party’s
commitment to public
services were “unfair”.
Teachers doubted
me, says F1 Lewis
The Formula One world
champion Lewis Hamilton
revealed yesterday that his
teachers thought he was
“never going to amount to
anything”. Hamilton, who is
dyslexic, said he struggled
academically, but hoped
they were now proud of him.
The Sunday Times March 18, 2018
Fashion carries off another first —
a plastic bag that costs almost £425
Jane McFarland
Fashion Director
Only the fashion industry
could charge nearly £425 for
a plastic bag. That is the price
it has put on an item which
most people would pay just
5p for — and then only
because they have to by law.
Fashion’s latest cult item —
a thick plastic grocery bag,
sold with a leather purse —
was first seen at Céline’s
spring/summer 2018 show in
Paris. So what is the
difference between a 5p
plastic bag and a fashionable
one, apart from the price?
Céline’s plastic bag
features the label’s name in
its classic font.
The only other design
marker is a warning, in four
languages, that reads: “To
avoid danger as suffocation
keep away this bag from
babies and children.”
The ultimate status symbol
was spotted at recent fashion
weeks, carried by various
editors and “influencers”.
“When I saw it in the
Céline show last October and
then in the showroom I knew
straight away I wanted it,”
said Tina Lundin, blogger. “A
bit of humour is always good
when it comes to fashion.”
This iteration of the
humble plastic bag has
spawned other luxury
The designer Christopher
Bailey sent latex-like
shopping bags down the
runway in his last collection
for Burberry.
At London fashion week
last month, the Indian-born
designer Ashish
transformed the venue for his
show into a “midnight
market”, where models
carried plastic bags from
nearby local stores.
But at $590 (£423) the
Céline plastic bag costs more
than many people spend on
their wardrobe in a year.
It has, however, sparked a
great deal of amusement
“The last plastic bag I had
hanging around in the car
served a travel-sick six-yearold very well,” one observer
wrote on Twitter. “Imagine
shouting ‘Not in the Céline
darling!’ ”
A charity worker suffered
a miscarriage after a
cyber-bullying onslaught
that has been linked to a
British social media firm
Robin Henry
Céline’s plastic bag appears on the catwalk at the fashion label’s spring/summer show
BBC may pay hard-up presenters’ taxes
Nicholas Hellen
Social Affairs Editor
The BBC is considering
footing tax bills for hard-up
presenters as it braces itself
for disclosures in the
Commons that some face
crippling demands from
HM Revenue & Customs.
The news that the
corporation is prepared to
meet the cost of back taxes
for some lower-earning
broadcasters comes as a
group of 170 presenters
prepare to escalate their
dispute with the BBC.
On Tuesday the culture
select committee will
question Liz Kershaw, a
presenter on Radio 6 Music,
Kirsty Lang, who presents
Front Row on Radio 4, Paul
Lewis, who presents Money
Box, and Stuart Linnell of
Radio Northampton.
They are expected to
reveal details of fellow
presenters hit hardest by
demands from HM Revenue
& Customs (HMRC), as well as
emails and signed statements
that they claim will prove
the BBC made them set up
tax-minimising personal
service companies.
About 2,000 people,
including many who earn
no more than £25,000, are
thought to be affected.
One presenter said: “This
could be incredibly damaging
for the BBC because it is
alienating the very people
who are its public face.”
Last month Lord (Michael)
Berkeley, presenter of
Private Passions on Radio 3,
accused the BBC of causing
“huge distress and hardship”
by being “overzealous” in
interpreting new rules to
make almost all freelancers
use the pay as you earn
(PAYE) tax system.
Since the start of the
financial year, responsibility
for paying the correct taxes
has moved from individuals
to the BBC. It responded by
putting many of them on
Topless swimmer
wades into trans row
Mary O’Connor
Male swimmers at a south
London leisure centre were
startled last week when a
topless woman in a pink
floral swimming cap jumped
into the pool at a men-only
session and swam a couple
of lengths.
It turned out to be
part of a campaign
against proposed
legislation that
would allow men
and women to
choose their own
concerned that
proposed reforms
to the Gender
Recognition Act
will allow
Desir: men-only
Stalker unleashes
bot army to smear
‘devastated’ woman
predatory men to
masquerade as females in
order to abuse women have
come up with a novel tactic.
They are pretending to be
men to illustrate the
problems inherent in
transgender legislation.
Amy Desir, 30, a mother
of two, went for a topless
swim with another female
activist at a men-only
session at the Dulwich
leisure centre.
The protest is
part of a
campaign to
women to
“self-identify” as
men every Friday.
The campaign,
revealed on the web
forum Mumsnet, is
called Man Friday.
Kershaw: speaking to MPs
PAYE and withholding some
earnings to meet tax
payments that it had made
on account to HMRC. The
BBC is also stopping these
presenters claiming research
costs as an expense.
The BBC will try to get a
grip on the problem this week
by appointing an expert to
review the past 15 to 20 years
of presenter contracts using
personal companies.
A source said: “The BBC
is looking to bring in some
external expertise to look at
. . . anything we might need
to do differently.”
Asked whether this could
involve paying some back
taxes for lower-paid
presenters, the source said:
“On extreme cases, the BBC
is keeping an open mind but
there is a very high hurdle
where public money is
A tribunal ruled last month
that Christa Ackroyd, a
former presenter of BBC’s
regional Look North
programme, must pay
£419,000 in tax. HMRC
argued that she should have
been paid as an employee
rather than as a contractor.
Jolyon Maugham QC, a tax
expert who will also give
evidence to the committee,
said: “This sounds to me like
a review to try and limit the
reputational harm the BBC is
Snap to it, if you have
a great photo of royals
James Gillespie
Professionals have captured
thousands of pictures of the
royal family but now the
public is getting in on the act.
A new book will gather
images taken by people who
have lined the streets at state
occasions or watched a royal
guest visit their town. It will
be sent to Prince Harry and
Meghan Markle as a wedding
gift and published in May.
The online printing service
Photobox is launching a
search this week for the best
300 images for the book,
The Crown from the Crowd.
Early examples of the type
of picture the organisers
are looking for include a
laughing Harry surrounded
by children and the Queen
smiling broadly as she comes
face to face with a bull at the
Great Yorkshire Show.
Prince William and the
Queen Mother in 1992
One onlooker captured a
young Prince William with
the Queen Mother, his
great-grandmother, after an
Easter service.
Rory Scott, of Photobox,
described the venture as a
“blend of royal reportage and
citizen photojournalism” that
will be a “true world first”.
Fake accounts on Twitter have been used
to try to sway elections, sow dissent and
spread propaganda. But what happens
when a young charity worker becomes
the target of a global hate campaign?
Laura Jane Tait, 28, from Sydney, has
had to move house and then lost her first
child because of the stress caused by
online abuse from a stalker.
Since July last year she has been the
subject of more than 12,000 tweets labelling her a “narcissistic psychopath”, a
“criminal” and a “danger” to the public.
The messages are usually accompanied
by a photograph of her.
The 12,000 tweets are only a fraction
of the total number of posts about Tait. In
one of the most extreme cases of cyberbullying, Tait’s stalker has been able to
enlist the services of a shadowy network
of fake online personas linked to a British
marketing firm and use them to destroy
her reputation.
Speaking for the first time, Tait, who
works for a children’s charity, said she
used to be a “happy, bubbly” person
before the barrage of abuse — entirely
unfounded — began.
The sheer volume of tweets is so great
it is now almost impossible to find genuine information about her. Any record of
her life, career and achievements has
been “drowned out” by the torrent of
false information smearing her.
The abuse is posted several times a
day, every day. During a 12-hour period
last Friday there were 40 tweets.
Speaking to The Sunday Times from
her home in Australia, Tait said she felt
powerless. “I’m devastated. No one can
help me. I’m at a point now where I don’t
know what to do,” she said.
Last year this led to heartbreak for
Tait and her partner when she was
3½ months pregnant with their first
Laura Jane Tait has been subjected to
abuse from fake Twitter accounts
child. “I got to a point where the stress
was too much and I miscarried,” she said.
“It was horrible and I was devastated.
My sister gave birth that day and I turned
up to the hospital with balloons and
someone tapped me on the shoulder and
said: ‘You are covered in blood.’ ”
The abuse is being posted from a network of fake accounts, many of them Russian — known as “bots” after the software
that is used to drive them. The accounts
were created to post messages automatically on demand for paying customers.
A man accused of stalking Tait was
able to hire this army of bots to post his
attacks by enlisting the services of
supposedly legitimate “social marketing”
companies. Tait believes he is a man who
used to visit a community drop-in centre
where she worked and developed a
fixation on her.
Some of the accounts that sent abusive
posts about Tait are linked to a British
firm called Retweets Pro that claimed to
be “The world’s No 1 Twitter and Instagram marketing agency”. It offered a
service that let customers pay for any
message they wanted to be tweeted up to
50,000 times — with no questions asked.
It was based in a rented farmhouse in
Suffolk by Jamie Robertson, 37, who also
runs a wedding catering firm.
Last month The Sunday Times
exposed how bots he used were spreading Russian propaganda and web scams.
This weekend Robertson said he had
found “no evidence” the Tait messages
were placed through his website and
suggested these tweets, as well as those
relating to scams and propaganda, were
instead the work of another social marketing firm deploying the same network
of fake accounts he had used.
For months this network tweeted
messages such as “Laura Jane Tait is the
ultimate sadistic con artist”, “The female
psychopath: Laura Tait of Sydney
Australia” and “Laura Tait is a criminal
who may have never been caught”.
Robertson has shut down Retweets
Pro after being exposed by this newspaper, but many similar companies are
still operating.
In addition to tweets, the stalker has
bought posts on other social media platforms and set up web pages to abuse Tait
and bombard her with abusive emails.
Tait has reported her stalker to the
New South Wales police and her family
and friends have repeatedly complained
to Twitter about abusive posts.
This weekend Twitter shut down many
of the accounts posting about Tait, but
admitted there was “more to do” and said
it was working on a range of measures. In
the meantime, it recommended that anyone suffering from large-scale cyberabuse report the accounts as “spam”.
“This is torture. I haven’t done anything wrong,” said Tait.
The Sunday Times March 18, 2018
‘Mini Beast’ claws at flights, roads and rail
As a cold snap caused
chaos for thousands of
travellers, the Met Office
warned of more havoc
and ‘risk to life’
Mark Hookham and Emily Lawford
More than 200 flights were cancelled and
drivers faced tailbacks as a cold snap
dubbed the “Mini Beast from the East”
swept in yesterday, bringing snow showers, ice and gusts of up to 70mph.
Further travel disruption is expected
today, with motorists urged to take care
and up to 25cm of snow forecast in southwest England.
The return of freezing temperatures
caused disruption at Heathrow with
more than 100 flights to and from the airport cancelled yesterday and scores
more delayed. The same number of cancellations have already been made for
flights that were meant to arrive at, or
depart from, the airport today.
Most of the cancellations were on
short-haul routes, although British Airways flights to New York and Chicago
were among those affected. BA said it was
offering passengers who were due to
travel this weekend the option of postponing their journey until Wednesday.
Lufthansa, Aer Lingus, TAP Air Portugal
and KLM also made cancellations.
Passengers voiced their frustration at
the scale of the cancellations after only a
light flurry of snow fell in London.
Tom Boadle was due to fly to Geneva
today but his BA flight was cancelled yesterday afternoon and he was rebooked
onto a later flight from London City airport. “It’s a little cold in London so [British Airways] have cancelled my flight . . .
useless,” he tweeted.
Nicole Srock Stanley, the chief executive of a German brand consultancy, was
due to fly from Berlin to Heathrow today
Warnings for
snow and ice*
danger to
*As set by Met Office
but her flight was also cancelled. She was
rebooked for tomorrow — but is due to be
speaking at a conference in Las Vegas by
then. “My talk is an Monday! Is there any
chance for a connection tomorrow?!?!,”
she tweeted.
Passengers whose flights are cancelled
cannot claim cash compensation, but the
airline must provide meals, and, if necessary, accommodation.
The M25 was gridlocked anti-clockwise near Chorleywood, Hertfordshire,
yesterday afternoon and the Snake Pass
in Derbyshire was closed because of
snow. Highways England advised motorists to avoid roads over the Pennines,
including a part of the M62.
“Our gritter drivers will be out treating
our roads around the clock,” said Richard
Leonard, Highways England’s head of
road safety.
Trains on the Great Western Railway
between London, Bristol and Cardiff
were cancelled or delayed last night.
The Met Office issued amber warnings
for snow and ice, designating a potential
risk to life, for parts of Yorkshire, northwest England and the Midlands, as well as
London and the southeast for between
4pm yesterday and 9am today, and for
southwest England until 9pm tonight.
Yellow “be aware” warnings are also in
place across much of the UK. The cold
weather is expected to last until Tuesday.
Weather, page 29
A model village in Nenthead, Cumbria, lies under snow yesterday as temperatures fell
Top midwife: Doctors
‘hopeless at childbirth’
Sarah-Kate Templeton
Health Editor
Doctors are “hopeless at
childbirth” and the solution
is to “get rid of half the
obstetricians”, according to
a former leader of Britain’s
Caroline Flint, a past
president of the Royal College
of Midwives and a champion
of natural childbirth, suggests
using the money saved by
culling doctors to employ
“zillions” of midwives.
She said: “Get rid of half
the obstetricians. That money
could produce zillions of
midwives. Doctors are
hopeless . . . at childbirth.”
Flint also blames low
rates of breastfeeding on
obstetricians interfering in
She told the London
Maternity and Midwifery
Festival last month: “It is
much more difficult for
women to breastfeed in 2018
than it has ever been before
and it seems to me [that is]
because they lose so much
blood at birth because their
physiological processes are
messed about — and that is to
do with the fact that we are
dominated by obstetric
Midwives’ salaries range
from £26,000 to £49,000.
Consultant obstetricians
earn between £79,000
and £106,000.
An inquiry into mother
and baby deaths at
Morecambe Bay NHS
Foundation Trust, published
in March 2015, put much of
‘childbirth is
dominated by
the blame on poor working
relationships among
obstetricians, midwives and
paediatricians, and said
midwives pursued normal
birth “at any cost”.
Last week Flint said:
“Midwives know women can
give birth perfectly happily if
they are encouraged and
supported. Obstetricians . . .
see every part of birth as a
really dangerous thing.”
Schools shun scheme
to aid ‘fatherless’ boys
Nicholas Hellen
Social Affairs Editor
A mother who vowed to
tackle the blight of boys
growing up in fatherless
households has been so
successful that her support
group, Lads Need Dads, won
plaudits last week from
experts and a top politician.
But while Sonia Shaljean
rapidly enlisted 18 men to act
as father figures, her efforts
to expand the group have
been hindered by the
reluctance of “politically
correct” schools.
Shaljean said eight schools
in the Colchester and
Tendring areas of Essex had
brushed her off because they
were worried about causing
offence to lone mothers.
She added that the
programme for boys aged 11
to 15 was not intended to
displace biological fathers
or slight the mothers.
“This is the best support
group for single mums,” she
said. “Mums phone us up and
ask: ‘Can you help?’ ”
Boys are teamed with
mentors for about 18 months.
Half the boys later re-engage
with their birth fathers.
Lads Need Dads won a
prize at last week’s annual
awards from the Centre for
Social Justice, set up by Iain
Duncan Smith, the former
Conservative party leader.
US women dominate
story prize shortlist
Richard Brooks Arts Editor
Five women, including the
prize-winning film director
Miranda July, are on a
shortlist of six for The 2018
Sunday Times EFG Short
Story Award.
July is — like all the others
on the list — American. It is
the first time the shortlist has
consisted only of writers from
the US, while five equals the
record for the number of
female contenders for the
£30,000 prize — the world’s
richest and most influential.
Among others on the
shortlist are Allegra
Goodman and Curtis
Sittenfeld, whose bestselling
novels include American Wife
and Sisterland. Three of the
six stories have been
published in The New Yorker
More than 800 entries, the
most since the prize began in
2010, were submitted from
40 countries. The UK entered
in greatest strength, with
464 writers, followed by
America and Ireland. There
were also submissions from
Argentina, Ecuador, Spain,
Slovenia and Russia.
The prize, whose judges
this year include novelists
Sebastian Faulks and Tessa
Hadley, will be awarded on
April 26.
The richest story prize,
Culture, Books, pages 34-35
The Sunday Times March 18, 2018
The high life: Ascot junket and VIP
service for air ambulance chief
A charity boss faces an inquiry over claims that he exploited his role to mix with celebrities
Jon Ungoed-Thomas
and Shingi Mararike
On a summer’s day in 2016 charity bosses
from the Air Ambulance Service, which
flies emergency helicopters across the
country, were mingling in one of the
corporate hospitality tents during the
Gold Cup at Royal Ascot.
They were sharing meat platters and
picnic hampers with champagne and
Pimm’s to drink. The charity’s funds
were picking up a large part of the bill.
The guests included Andy Williamson,
head of the charity, and his wife Linda,
who are joint directors of a public relations and celebrity agency, along with the
EastEnders actress Anita Dobson.
It was billed as a networking day for
the charity, which receives no government funding and flies air ambulances
across five counties including Warwickshire and Derbyshire.
“It was a complete waste of money,”
said one member of staff last week, who
asked not to be identified.
“People weren’t there to network —
they were there for a good day out. There
was no advantage for the charity.”
The previous year the Air Ambulance
Service had been criticised by the Charity
Commission after it lost £110,000 on
tickets that it could not sell for the London premiere of The Bodyguard.
The Ascot event cost only a few hundred pounds of charity funds, but it
prompted concerns that the lessons of
the embarrassing debacle at The Bodyguard had not been learnt.
Some insiders at the charity, which
was founded in 2003 and has an income
of about £16m a year, started making
It was discovered after the Ascot networking event that the Sincura Group,
which acts as a fixing service for the rich,
was being paid £3,000 a month by the
charity for marketing and concierge services. It had organised the Gold Cup
event and was tasked with generating an
extra £250,000 a year for the charity.
Williamson, as chief executive, was
given free membership of the luxury concierge firm, currently sold at £600 a
month plus VAT. He did not disclose it on
the charity’s register of interests.
He told Sincura in March 2016 that he
was due to attend a concert in a private
capacity with friends and family to see
the girl pop band Little Mix. “Wonder if
you could organise a meet and greet with
the band for the six children I am taking,”
he wrote. A meeting was successfully
arranged, although Williamson paid the
meeting fee of about £2,000.
Three months later he was due to
attend an evening with the actor Charlie
Sheen at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane in
London. “Is there any meet and greet
package available?” he asked the charity
contractor. “Sad as it is, Two and a Half
Men is my all time favourite show and it is
my birthday that day!”
He also asked Sincura whether it could
“facilitate” membership at The Ivy private members’ club in London. He said
that he and one of his friends, Adam
Woodyatt, the EastEnders actor who is an
ambassador for the charity, were interested in becoming members.
Williamson sacked the concierge firm
from its charity contract in June 2016.
Tony Baxter, director of Sincura, responded with a furious email, complaining
about the time that had been spent on
personal requests for Williamson.
The charity had won a number of
awards under Williamson’s leadership —
but they came at a price.
Insiders discovered that it had paid
Awards Intelligence, a London firm,
more than £16,000 in 2012 and 2013 to
submit applications for awards, including bonuses of £500 each for winning
such awards.
The charity accounts also reveal that,
in 2011, £27,240 had been paid to the
public relations and celebrity agency
Andy Williamson,
left, head of the
Air Ambulance
Charity, with
Boris Johnson.
The charity had
planned to
organise an
event at Ascot,
right, this year
Williamson asked
to meet the
American star
Chocolate’s not so
yummy eco-secret
Shingi Mararike
and Mark Howarth
Wispa it but our chocolate
cravings damage the
environment, according to
scientists who have
calculated that the UK’s
chocolate industry generates
about the same amount of
greenhouse gases as Malta.
The Manchester University
study, published in the
journal Food Research
International, looked at the
impact of chocolate by
assessing the ingredients and
processes behind big brands.
Adisa Azapagic, one of the
authors, said: “The question
is: what and how do we eat so
as to minimise the impact on
the environment?”
The research looked at
everything involved in
making a chocolate bar, from
the packaging to the growing
of the ingredients. The study
estimates that the chocolate
industry produces about 2.1m
tons of greenhouse gases a
year; Malta produces almost
2.3m tons.
The research found that
“sharing bags”, such as
Maltesers and M&M’s, have
the biggest impact because of
their packaging.
Mars, which makes
Maltesers and M&M’s, said:
“Our packaging lets us
provide our consumers the
products they love in a safe
and sustainable way. We have
committed to working
towards 100% reusable,
recyclable or compostable
packaging by 2025 or earlier.”
Loquendi, of which Williamson and his
wife are directors.
There was concern, too, about the
alleged mismanagement of fundraising
events. Another Ascot event was due to
be held on May 2 this year, but an internal
memo warned that it was “high risk” and
could lose funds.
Workers complained of a bullying
culture within the organisation and staff
turnover was high. “It was like living in
the [George Orwell] novel Nineteen
Eighty-Four,” one former member of staff
said. “There would be someone missing
and you would ask ‘what happened’ and
you would be told ‘they’ve gone’.”
Rebecca Harding, a trustee of the
charity from September 2015 to January
2017, was so concerned that she submitted an affidavit to the police and the Charity Commission in the month she left.
Her concerns included the fact that
she considered the board of trustees was
not sufficiently independent.
The commission’s compliance team
wrote to John Williams, chairman of the
trustees at the Air Ambulance Service in
February 2017, and said that in the wake
of the Kids Company scandal the trustees
should conduct their own investigation
and “discreetly” resolve any concerns.
Wright Hassall, a legal firm that had
defended the charity in employment
cases, was given the job and found no
Harding was furious. “There don’t
seem to be any consequences for bad
behaviour in the charities sector,” she
“People have learnt that they can do
what they like with little or no accountability and so it has become a playground
for abuse. I know others have had similar
experiences with this particular charity
and have not felt able to speak out. I feel
so sorry for the fantastic staff.”
The Air Ambulance Service said: “We
are proud that the money we’ve raised
has funded more than 30,000 missions
in the past 15 years.”
A spokesman for Williamson said he
had not included his free Sincura mem-
bership on his register of interests, but it
covered only about four months. He said
it had been complimentary and no
charity funds had been used for the Little
Mix event or the brief inquiries about
Charlie Sheen and The Ivy club.
The spokesman said the charity had
received four VIP tickets from Sincura for
the Ascot event to network with a view to
fundraising in June 2016 and up to five
other staff members had attended on
tickets paid for by the charity. Williamson’s wife paid for her own £200 ticket.
The work by Awards Intelligence was
part of a wider strategy to win the charity
national recognition for its work. It was
standard industry practice to pay
bonuses for awards that were won. The
spokesman said Williamson’s interest in
Loquendi was correctly disclosed on a
register of interests. The Ascot event
planned for May had been cancelled.
The charity said it employed about
300 staff, with around 25 leaving last
year. The high figure was partly due to a
restructuring of the marketing and fund-
I love getting older, says Jolie
— it reminds me of my mother
Mary O’Connor
She is considered one of the
most beautiful women in
the world — and unlike many
who resist the onset of
wrinkles and grey hair, says
she “loves” getting older.
The Hollywood actress
and director Angelina Jolie
says she is delighted by any
signs of ageing because
they remind her of
her mother Marcheline
Bertrand, who died of
cancer in 2007.
She told the fashion
magazine InStyle: “I look in
the mirror and I see that I
look like my mother and
that warms me. I also see
myself ageing, and I love it
because it means I’m alive
. . . I’m living and getting
Angelina Jolie with mother
Marcheline Bertrand in 1975
older. It’s more that I see
my family in my face. I see
my age.”
Jolie, 42, said she believed
that “intellect” was the most
beautiful quality in a person
and that having “a mind
on fire” is “sexy”, adding:
“There’s nothing you could
. . . put on your face to cover
up if your mind is blank and
your heart is dark.”
The Oscar winner, who
has six children with
her estranged husband
Brad Pitt, warned of the
challenges young people
face in the social media
age, and added that her
children “don’t really do
a lot” of it.
“I’m hoping they’ll have
room to figure out what
they like before they’re told
by a bunch of other people
what they should like or
how they’re being
perceived,” she said.
She said she sees people
as beautiful if they “don’t
bend to somebody else’s
opinion of what is
appropriate or beautiful”.
seems to
be no
in the
raising departments. The charity denies
any allegations of bullying.
The Charity Commission said: “Our
actions in this case fell short of our procedures and were not dealt with in line with
our regulatory approach. In light of this,
and new concerns that have been raised
with us about this charity, we have also
reopened our regulatory compliance
case into the Air Ambulance Service.
“The purpose of our case is to investigate specific concerns raised with us and
to establish more broadly whether the
trustees are fulfilling their legal duties
and responsibilities, including in overseeing their staff and ensuring that the
charity is run for the benefit of the public.
“The language used in a letter to the
trustees in February 2017 was clumsy and
open to misinterpretation.”
A spokesman for Woodyatt said he was
not aware of any inquiries made on his
behalf with Sincura and was not a
member of The Ivy club.
Additional reporting: Emily Lawford
Kendal wants to sink
houseboats plan
Oliver Shah
City editor
The actress Felicity Kendal
has described plans to build
and sell luxury houseboats
worth up to £6m each on the
Thames in Chelsea as
Kendal, 71, best known for
playing Barbara Good in the
1970s sitcom The Good Life,
said she had lived in Chelsea
“for ever” and did not “think
that this particular part of
the world is the place where
you want great big
multimillionaire yachts”.
As revealed in The Sunday
Times last week, Andrew
Moffat, a property developer,
and his wife, Charlotte, have
bought two moorings in
central London, Cadogan
Pier and Chelsea Reach, and
plan to build huge
houseboats, but have
encountered fierce resistance
from other houseboat
“I’m very conscious that
this part of the world is being
bought up by a lot of
investors who don’t actually
live here,” Kendal said.
“It’s become a kind of
playground. I also feel the
Thames is a very special
part of our inheritance,
and should not be used to
develop very expensive
places to moor very
expensive yachts.”
Kendal said it would be
“immoral” for the Moffats to
push out houseboat owners.
The couple deny they have
plans to do so.
The Sunday Times March 18, 2018
Tech giants
urged to save
child addicts
Ministers may ask social media firms to fund
recovery schemes for young digital junkies
Sian Griffiths Education Editor
Facebook, Google and Twitter may be
asked to pay for “recovery programmes”
for children addicted to being online
under a plan being considered by
Free therapy is also proposed for
youngsters who have suffered online
abuse as well as lessons for parents on
how to safeguard their children.
The plans are being discussed as part
of the response to a green paper on
internet safety that is expected in the
next two weeks. Last weekend Matt
Hancock, the digital, culture, media and
sport secretary, said the government was
looking at limiting the time children can
spend on social media and enforcing age
verification for sites such as Facebook.
There is a growing consensus that
children addicted to social media, online
gaming or internet pornography, or who
are suffering anxiety or depression after
cyber-bullying or revenge porn attacks,
need help to recover.
Some surveys have shown that up to
60% of children polled say they have
Charles puts his back into
protecting caber toss
The Prince of Wales is supporting efforts
to protect the centuries-old Scottish
tradition in which rivals toss tree trunks
and hurl stones in a friendly show of
strength, writes Mark Macaskill.
From next month, the caber toss,
the hammer throw and the stone put
will be on the curriculum at three
Scottish schools — backed by the
Prince’s Foundation to counter a lack of
interest in Highland Games from the
YouTube generation.
been bullied online. A fifth of 12- to
15-year-olds have encountered something they “found worrying or nasty in
some way” and 64% of 13 to 17-year-olds
have seen offensive images or videos.
One survey showed that 20% of children said they could not sleep because of
using their mobile phones and laptops
late into the night. Insomnia has been
linked to mental illness.
Linda Papadopoulos, a psychologist
who has advised the government on
internet safety, said the first step would
be pilot programmes and controlled
studies to work out the best way to help.
Teenage girls, she said, were suffering
from addiction to sites that encouraged
them to post selfies and measure their
self-worth by the number of “likes” they
received; teenage boys were more likely
to be caught up in gaming addictions.
“We have to think about the best way
of supporting children. Many internet
companies have a vested interest, as do
all of us, in safeguarding our children’s
mental health. There are kids who are
being cyberbullied who are socially isolated: they live their lives online, that is all
they do. We have to face up to this. This is
a big social experiment we are dumping
on our kids.”
Andy Phippen, professor of social
responsibility in IT at Plymouth University and an adviser to MPs, said the online
industry “has a part to play in funding
recovery programmes. Industry does not
want to be seen as the bad guys — they are
willing to work in partnership on this.
“They are being told they have to
stop porn, stop radicalisation; they are
far more amenable to this.” Facebook
aready funds anti-bullying programmes.
Hancock’s department said: “We are
working to make sure robust protection
is in place.”
Additional reporting: Emily Lawford
Darcey Bussell, appearing with the Royal Ballet in London in 2006, says children are being seduced by screens into leading sedentary and unhappy lives
2a week
Jump to it! Darcey wants ‘inactive’
pupils to do 4 hours of PE every week
recommended amount
of PE by government
Sian Griffiths
eXercise rOutine
1hr 40min
state school average
Darcey Bussell’s recommended
amount of PE
5hr 24min
private school average
Youth Sport Trust survey — state school data.
Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference — private school data
Children should be doing at
least four hours of exercise a
week, according to the
former ballerina Dame
Darcey Bussell, who said the
minimal amount that many
do is “very alarming”.
The Strictly Come Dancing
judge said: “I think we should
have four hours of PE a
week”, which is twice as
much as pupils are supposed
to do now. She added that she
wanted children to spend as
much time in sports lessons
as they have to do in English,
and again in maths.
Government guidelines
suggest state schools should
provide pupils with two
hours of PE a week. In reality,
a typical pupil at a state
primary does only 1 hour and
40 minutes of PE a week. At a
private school the average is
more than five hours a week.
Bussell, 48, said it was
“shocking” that Britain
ranked as having one of the
“most inactive populations in
Europe” and warned that
children were being seduced
by screens into leading
sedentary lives.
“At many schools, children
do two hours a week of PE, or
less. For the health and
wellbeing of our children,
they have to be active all the
time . . . it is very alarming.”
She said she did not want
to tell parents what to do but
had set up an enterprise
offering dance fitness classes
in schools to show pupils how
to copy stars such as John
Travolta and learn styles like
bhangra, jive and flamenco.
Bussell said her daughters,
Phoebe, 16, and Zoe, 14, have
to switch off mobile phones
and laptops at 9pm.
“We always say around
9pm that phones and laptops
should be removed,
especially from bedrooms.
There is always homework to
do and studying for exams
but there has to be a time
when enough is enough. That
is the balance we strive for.”
Bussell, a speaker at last
week’s Education Show in
Birmingham, is making a
documentary about how
dancing gives people
confidence. “For me it was a
massive bonus to be able to
express my anxiety through
dance when I was young.
Being a dancer I know how it
makes you feel, the natural
endorphins it gives you. It
means you are more positive;
it makes everything possible.”
Her hope is that the
dance lessons will inspire
children to try other types of
exercise, rather than being
stimulated only by their
mobile phones.
The Sunday Times March 18, 2018
Briton pours out a first for Chinese wine
A financier who battled with
party politics, typhoons and
irate farmers to set up a
vineyard in China has now
begun exporting to Britain
The imitation
Scottish castle
Chris Ruffle built
in Shandong has
become a tourist
Adam Luck
It has taken several million pounds, a
decade of frustration and 600 tons of
chicken manure, but Chris Ruffle has
finally achieved his dream.
The Yorkshire-born financier is celebrating his status as the first Englishman
to build his own vineyard in China and
export its wines to Britain.
The initial consignment of 6,900
bottles of Ruffle’s Chinese-made wines
from his Treaty Port Vineyards near
Yantai in coastal Shandong province, 450
miles southeast of Beijing, goes on sale in
Britain this month. It follows an epic battle with “incompetent builders, corruption, village politics and irate farmers” —
and the occasional typhoon.
The improbable story of a British
millionaire’s attempt to cash in on a
Chinese wine revolution includes a pretend Scottish castle, a menacing brush
with the local Communist Party and the
unexpected arrival of a motorway that
split his vineyard in two.
“I have questioned my sanity at times,
and, more particularly, my wife has
questioned my sanity in pursuing this
project,” Ruffle, 59, admitted last week.
“I could have invested my money in
Shanghai property, but where is the fun
in that?”
It was in 2004 that Ruffle, an Oxfordeducated investment banker who speaks
fluent Mandarin, met a French winemaker in rural China and saw an opportunity to profit from the country’s
exploding interest in a more western
In 2000, Bordeaux vineyards sold
about 400,000 bottles to China. That
figure is now almost 80m and Chinese
investors have been on a buying spree,
snapping up more than 140 French
vineyard properties, including several
prestige chateaux.
Ruffle took a different approach. He
ended up investing £5.5m in Shandong,
one of China’s main wine-producing
provinces. Having secured the land to
create a vineyard, he built a replica
Scottish castle, a new tourist landmark
A vine
in the East
that is now used as a boutique hotel and is
the base for his vineyard operation.
Undeterred by typhoons, floods and
outbreaks of disease on his vines, Ruffle
built a good relationship with local
Communist Party officials and kept his
project alive. At one point, to improve the
quality of the local soil he had to invest in
a mountain of manure.
“Writing a cheque for 600 tons of
chicken shit will live long in the memory,”
he noted.
Then in 2014 Ruffle learnt that Chinese
authorities had decided to build a fourlane motorway through his carefully
cultivated nine-year-old vines. He was
about to put up a protest banner when
the local mayor warned him that he
would have to call the police and “someone might get hurt”. Ruffle added: “It was
like The Godfather. So we rolled up our
banner and went home. It was a fait
accompli. They said the road’s going here
and you can shout as much as you like.”
After three years of motorway construction, with his divided property
linked by three bridges, he was paid just
under £4,000 in compensation. “I have
experienced just about every emotion at
Ruffle: ‘I could have invested in
property, but where’s the fun in that?’
times, but I was determined to see this
out,” he said.
This year Ruffle’s persistence paid off
—with the help of a Daoist priest who provided a blessing for the vines. An experienced Australian winemaker took charge
of production, and Ruffle’s first shipment
to Britain includes a red syrah, a rosé and
a white chardonnay blend, priced at
about £13 a bottle.
He has since been joined by other
western winemakers eager for a share of
what has rapidly become the world’s fifth
largest wine-consuming market (and
sixth largest wine producer).
Moët Hennessy, which owns Moët &
Chandon champagne, has set up a base in
Yunnan, southwestern China. The parent
company of Château Lafite Rothschild is
a Shandong neighbour of Ruffle’s and
plans to release its first Chinese wine later
this year.
“China always used to be about bulk
production,” Ruffle said. “They tended to
ape poor-quality French wine but that is
changing fast. There is no question that
quality is beginning to improve.”
Ruffle said his wines were intended to
cater for Chinese tastes “so they are
slightly sweeter, softer and with less
tannin [but] I think they will appeal to
English palates, too”.
For all the setbacks, Ruffle said he had
“learnt so much” running a business in
China. “You appreciate the power the
Communist Party wields in the countryside, and it has increased my admiration
for Chinese businessmen.”
He concluded: “I think I am the first to
import quality ‘estate wines’ from China
to the UK, but I have no doubt I will not be
the last.”
Chinese wine has come a long
way very fast. Although the
industry can trace its lineage
back to the 2nd century, the
past 20 years have seen an
astonishing growth in the
number of vineyards planted.
China has the second
largest area under vine after
Spain, and an increasingly
thirsty domestic market. It is
not just the wines of
bordeaux they enjoy either:
Australian wines are popular.
But still there are few people
who know much about the
Asian giant’s wines.
In terms of the quality of its
wine, China is very much a
work in progress. Yes, there
are good examples to be
found in the fine wine sector
and Sainsbury’s has a white
riesling from the country’s
oldest winery, Changyu
Noble, which would make for
a fun summer talking point,
but there are much better
examples to be found.
I have not tasted Chris
Ruffle’s wine but when I have
hosted tastings in Beijing and
Shanghai the knowledge,
appetite for learning and
tangible love of the product
that I have witnessed mean
that he has made a good bet.
A Daoist priest blesses the wine, which is being sold in Britain for around £13 a bottle
Europe’s quiet wine nation,
Will Lyons, Magazine,
page 59
The Sunday Times March 18, 2018
‘Gigabit’ York is the best
place to live in the UK
The city’s combination of
superfast broadband and
medieval architecture
helped it claim top spot in
our 2018 national survey
Alexandra Goss Deputy Editor, Home
Its name evokes the distant past, but
York’s modern mindset and investment
in digital infrastructure have led to it
being named by The Sunday Times today
as the best place to live in Britain. Known
for its medieval architecture, gothic minster and museums such as Jorvik Viking
Centre, York won plaudits for its superfast broadband as the UK’s first “gigabit
city”, plus its cultural and food scene.
The 2018 Best Places to Live in Britain
survey selects 106 locations on measures
such as life expectancy, school performance, green space, culture, food quality,
transport links, community spirit and
that hard-to-define “little bit extra”.
“Nobody does heritage better than
York, yet it’s not nostalgic,” said Greg
McGee, who opened a contemporary art
gallery in the city centre 15 years ago. “It’s
cutting-edge, yet still very northern, with
that rugged, no-nonsense hospitality.”
Johnny Morris of Countrywide, the estate
agency that provided price data for the
survey, pointed out that the average
seller has owned their home for 17 years.
“With moves becoming rarer, there’s
more pressure to get it right. That’s why
the list of best places is so important.”
Melrose tops the list of where to live in
Scotland, while Mumbles, a former fishing village near Swansea, takes the lead in
Wales after investment in its seafront.
The seaside town of Tynemouth, 10 miles
from Newcastle upon Tyne, is regional
winner in the north of England and
Altrincham comes top in the northwest.
Ballyhackamore, “the brunch capital of
Belfast”, leads Northern Ireland.
London’s best place is foodie Bermondsey, while Chelmsford represents
the east of England. In the southeast, it is
Berkhamsted, with the judges praising its
eco-credentials. Frome takes the title for
the southwest while Shipston-uponStour has been named the Midlands’ best
place two years running for its festivals.
Search our interactive site
for your ideal place to live
The minster dominates the skyline of York, which has won top place in The Sunday Times’s Best Places to Live in Britain
Ratings crumble for
BBC’s Civilisations
Richard Brooks Arts Editor
The BBC’s new flagship art
series, Civilisations, has seen
its ratings plunge by nearly
half since it began earlier
this month.
The initial episode fronted
by Simon Schama was
watched by 1.9m viewers.
The second, with Mary Beard
as presenter, fell to 1.2m. In
the latest figures released by
Barb, the official collator of
audience numbers, ratings
have fallen to 966,000.
This is far smaller than for
BBC2’s University Challenge,
although the figure does not
include iPlayer views.
Schama fronts five
programmes in the series,
while Beard and David
Olusoga present two each.
The opening episode
received mixed reviews with
the BBC’s own arts editor,
Will Gompertz, saying it was
“more confused than a drunk
driver negotiating Spaghetti
Junction at rush hour”.
The ratings drop for such a
prestigious project will come
as an embarrassment for the
BBC after it spent many
millions on the series, albeit
with some financial input
from other broadcasters.
The project was conceived
by the director-general Lord
Schama: initial episode was
watched by 1.9m viewers
Hall four years ago after he
was inspired by Civilisation,
the 1969 series fronted by the
art historian Kenneth Clark.
The consensus from critics
and viewers is that the new
version is muddled and
seems to have been produced
by a committee.
Dying NHS chief wants
GP’s help to end agony
Sarah-Kate Templeton
Health Editor
The man responsible for
improving the nation’s health
has been diagnosed with
incurable cancer and has
revealed that he would like
“a quiet chat” with his GP
when his time is nearly up.
Professor Paul Cosford,
director for health protection
and medical director of
Public Health England, would
like to be able to ask his
family doctor for enough
medication to ease his pain —
even if this hastens his death.
In a frank account of his
illness in a blog on a medical
website, he wrote: “I wish I
could have a quiet chat with
my GP and ask him to make it
easier when the time comes.
“That is not a conversation
you can really have these
days. In the past, easing
the process of dying with
sufficient medication to ease
symptoms but which might
also hasten your passing was
generally accepted but it
seems difficult to have this
conversation now because
there have been so many legal
concerns raised.”
He told The Sunday Times:
“Sometimes people are so
concerned about the legal
consequences that we forget
about good, humane,
personalised medical care.”
Cosford, 54, has lung
cancer. He has never smoked
and realised he was ill
only when he could not
complete a 600km (372-mile)
cycle ride.
Addressing a meeting of
the Royal Society of Medicine
in February, he said:
“Thinking that I might have
some control at the end of my
life allows me to focus on
living life well now.”
Cosford, a father of four
married to a doctor, hopes
that if he receives the latest
treatments he will live
another three or four years.
Call for new fathers to
have leave on 90% pay
Nicholas Hellen
Social Affairs Editor
Fathers should be entitled to
receive a month off work
when their wife or partner
has a baby and be paid 90%
of their salary, a Commons
committee will say this week.
At present, few fathers take
off much time when a baby
arrives, with many blaming
the fact that they are not paid.
Under the proposals,
fathers will get a further two
months of paternity leave at
£141 a week, without any loss
of rights for the mother.
The women and equalities
committee, chaired by Maria
Miller, a Conservative, will
argue the gender pay gap will
be closed only if men are
more involved in bringing up
children. One source said:
“We have to move from an
assumption that the mother
is the sole carer to a shared
duty for both parents.”
Shared parental leave,
introduced in 2015, allows a
mother to swap some of her
entitlement with the father,
but take-up has been low. At
the heart of the new plan is
evidence that once a father
has been in sole charge of an
infant for at least a month he
becomes capable of looking
after the child at any time.
Dads are the poor relations,
Business & Money, page 14
The Sunday Times March 18, 2018
Cheltenham hosts royalty by
day, galloping sexism by night
After a day at the festival
races, men on corporate
jollies are ferried into the
town to leer at and grope
scantily clad women
A blonde woman in a push-up bra and
G-string leans back against the sticky bar
trying to dodge kisses from the man who
has her pinned against it. She ducks her
head from side to side as he thrusts his
crotch forward.
From behind me a hand grabs my
waist. Around us a sea of almost-naked
women in see-through sheaths of Ann
Summers lingerie, tiny string knickers
and ripped fishnets parade around a pub
filled with men wearing tweed jackets.
At a local lap-dancing joint last Thursday night I’m experiencing the grim
underbelly of Cheltenham, the overspill
from the corporate entertainment that
floods into the Regency spa town during
the week of the horse racing festival.
Things looked rather different earlier.
The Queen’s daughter, Princess Anne,
granddaughter Zara Tindall and the rock
star Rod Stewart were among the crowd
attending one of the smartest events in
the racing calendar.
In the past five years the Cheltenham
Festival has become a huge corporate
event. This year its hospitality area
served about 10,000 people a day,
attracting guests from firms such as the
wealth management company St James’s
Place, Guinness and Ryanair.
When the races finish, the atmosphere
changes. Men begin wobbling into town.
The pavements become littered with
pink flyers advertising “Eroticats”, one of
the promoters of nude lap-dancing in the
town. It hosts three nights in the 2 Pigs
pub, usually an indie music venue.
Pink-bibbed promoters hand out flyers
on the street while a bus with “Eroticats”
plastered on the side ferries clients to the
venue from the racecourse.
I was warned that, as a woman, I might
not be let in to the 2 Pigs. “Women aren’t
allowed,” a promoter told me. A local said
this was because women going in alone
would be presumed to be prostitutes. At
the door, however, I was admitted.
Inside I found a dancefloor crammed
with semi-naked women wearing
assorted tacky outfits. Straps crisscrossed naked backsides, breasts poured
out of leopard print, flesh bulged from
red bodysuits. Their nudity was accentuated by the fact that they were vastly
outnumbered by men in suits.
I’ve been to strip clubs before but
never one where the men were so openly
lecherous. They grasped at flesh, grinding aggressively against women and
leering at them: “Woah!” Look at this!”
“They’re awful — they’re really
grabby,” one girl working there complained to me. “They’re gross, they grab
you all over and there’s nothing you can
do. If I made enough from my job I
wouldn’t have come.”
“They’re very ‘touchy’, especially the
older ones,” another woman agreed.
“They’re not supposed to touch you —
but they do. But the money’s good.”
Upstairs, in makeshift booths divided
by gauzy material, I watched girls grind
over men on chairs. I was told it was “£20
Zara Tindall attends the festival
for a dance” or “£40 for a naughty”,
which meant “you can get hands-on”.
Some men told me the women could
charge as much as £400, depending on
what the men asked to do. Others
claimed they had gone home with lapdancers, which some of the dancers
In the ladies’ I chatted to a girl with
lipstick smeared over her face. “They’re
absolute c****,” she complained, “but
you have to try and enjoy it.”
“They’d probably prefer you,” one
woman told me. “They like what they
can’t have.”
She was right. Despite endless women
enthusiastically grinding in their lingerie,
I — in my prudish 80-denier tights and
tartan skirt — batted off endless advances
from men who wrapped their hands
around my waist, pressed against me and
tried to kiss me. The less interested I
looked, the more they approached me.
“You’re so sweet because you’re so
innocent,” they said. It was as if any usual
rules of engagement had been abandoned for rampant sexism.
These were not just young lads. I spoke
to men from insurance companies, building firms and surveyors who had spent
the day in hospitality boxes and were still
wearing VIP tags on their lapels.
I talked to one older man waiting for
his client to finish having a private dance
upstairs. “My client likes to come here so
I wait for him,” he said sheepishly.
“I don’t really want to be here. When I
was younger I was a bit more openminded but now I’ve got three kids. I
know my wife wouldn’t like it.”
Tess Beck, from the women’s group
Chelt Fems, said the town should crack
down on seedy behaviour, as the racecourse had done two years ago: “They
should do the same in town. There’s
more going on than what you can see.”
For many locals it is embarrassing.
“It’s great so many people come to town
for the festival, but I hate it that they bring
all of this with them,” one resident I met
outside the 2 Pigs told me.
“It’s usually such a beautiful town and
a wonderful place to live. Then during
the festival it turns into this. The whole
thing is set up for men to get their rocks
off. I find it disgusting.”
Lingerie-clad women mix with men in suits at the 2 Pigs pub during the Cheltenham Festival
at sight of
cling film’
Tony Allen-Mills
The revelations were billed as
“devastating”, but the British
monarchy is likely to survive
a new biography of Prince
Charles, which lays bare his
fondness for “premium
comfort” lavatory paper and
his shocked puzzlement at
the sight of cling film.
The heir to the throne may
have choked on his organic
kippers had he picked up a
copy of the Daily Mail at
breakfast — or rather, had he
ordered one of his two valets,
his butler, his chef, his private
secretary or another flunky
to pick it up for him.
The newspaper’s extract
from Tom Bower’s new book,
Rebel Prince, focused on
Charles’s taste for luxury and
unusual personal habits.
He is said to change his
clothes up to five times a day
and arrives at functions with
his own cocktail glass and a
flask of pre-mixed martinis.
He allegedly employs retired
Indian servicemen to prowl
through his gardens at
Highgrove at night, using
torches to “handpick slugs
from the leaves of plants”.
His supposedly demanding
wife, who “had a habit of
being late for everything”, is
said to have “laughed” at the
assumption that the Duchess
of Cambridge would become
Britain’s first commoner
queen. Bower quotes Camilla
as saying: “That’ll be me.”
After a theatre visit, the
prince and his wife are said
to have returned to Clarence
House, where Camilla had
told staff to leave salads and
cold cuts on the sideboard.
Charles “walked into the
dining room and shrieked . . .
‘What’s this?’,” writes Bower.
It was his first exposure to the
food-protection technique
known as cling film.
Charles the Petulant,
Sarah Baxter, page 20
The Sunday Times March 18, 2018
Top degree
fees ‘to hit
A vice-chancellor is
forecasting Britain’s elite
universities will use their
global standing to raise
tuition bills sharply
Sian Griffiths
Education Editor
Eric Ravilious’s painting HMS Glorious in the Arctic. He had joined Britain’s 1940 campaign in Norway as an official war artist and was killed two years later
Daughters meet 76 years after loss of pilot and war artist
Michael Hodges
Two grey-haired women
embrace in the foyer of
Compton Verney art gallery
in Warwickshire. They have
never met before but the
encounter could hardly be
more emotional.
Carol Lockwood and Anne
Ullmann are joined by an
event 76 years ago, when one
was eight weeks old and the
other 17 months. It is one of
the Second World War’s most
poignant mysteries.
At 5.06am on September 2,
1942, Aircraft V, an RAF
Lockheed Hudson of 269
Squadron, took off from a
base in Iceland in search of a
missing Hudson from the
same base. Piloted by Carol’s
father, Flight Lieutenant
“Ginge” Culver, 25, it carried
three other crew members
and an observer: Anne’s
father, the 39-year-old war
artist Eric Ravilious.
Ravilious could not have
asked for a better pilot. A
holder of the Distinguished
Flying Medal, Culver had just
become a father and was
tipped for promotion to
squadron leader. Yet Aircraft
V disappeared, and the men
were never heard from again.
The two women met at an
exhibition that opened
yesterday. It features Aircraft
V’s logbook, in which Culver
misspelt Ravilious’s name.
Ullmann, 76, is used to
dealing with heart-rending
documents. Her mother, the
artist Tirzah Garwood, who
had breast cancer and was
recovering from an abortion
undergone on medical
advice, describes Eric’s
departure for Iceland in her
autobiography, Long Live
Great Bardfield: “There was
Ravilious: known for watercolours
nothing I could do but just
watch him and remember
what he looked like and, with
an effort, I lifted up Anne to
wave goodbye,” she writes.
“I find that very hard to
read,” said Ullmann. “My
brother James could
remember waving to him. It
must have been terrible for
her, and so hard to pick me
up as she was very weak.”
Known for watercolours of
the South Downs, Ravilious
had joined the 1940
campaign in Norway as a war
artist. His naval battle scenes
caused a sensation at the
National Gallery.
After a two-year hiatus in
which Garwood gave birth to
Anne and underwent a
mastectomy, Ravilious was
desperate to repeat the
triumph. Kenneth Clark, the
future presenter of
Civilisation and then running
the war artist programme,
encouraged him to go back to
the northern light.
Clark would always regret
it. “My job was to make sure
war artists didn’t get killed,”
he wrote. “I failed with Eric
“Maybe they just ran out of
fuel,” says Lockwood, 75. “Or
because they were so near
the North Pole the compasses
were out of true and they
thought they were flying
towards land when they were
flying further out to sea. But I
increasingly wonder if a
U-boat shot them down.
“Three planes went up in
the morning, two came back.
There was no ‘Mayday’ —
absolutely nothing.”
Ravilious & Co: The Pattern of
Friendship. English Artist
Designers 1922-1942 runs until
June 10
Ten British universities will be charging
students up to £120,000 for a degree
within a decade, a leading academic has
An elite group, including Oxford, Cambridge and Imperial College London
could increase fees to attract the best
staff and students from all over the world
— and their vice-chancellors would be
paid correspondingly high salaries.
Sir Anthony Seldon, vice-chancellor at
Buckingham University, believes the new
global elite will also include Harvard, Yale
and Massachusetts Institute of Technology and emerging Chinese institutions.
“They will charge what they can afford
to charge,” says Seldon, who outlines the
radical forecast for the future in The
Fourth Education Revolution, to be published in May. Seldon, a former public
school headmaster, points out that
wealthy families in the UK already pay up
to £40,000 a year in school fees and
many could afford to pay similar sums for
another three years for a degree. He said
exceptionally bright poorer students
could be sponsored by companies or
offered scholarships.
Apart from the top 10, the rest of
Britain’s 100-plus universities would fall
into one of five categories, all charging
students less, he says. The second tier of
“national” universities would include
Leeds, Sussex and Brunel. Among the
third tier of “regional” universities would
be Cardiff, Aston and Dundee. Below
them would be three other rankings,
including online universities.
Seldon, who said similar predictions
had been made by Glyn Davis, vice-chancellor of Melbourne University, forecasts
mergers among universities and the end
of the residential campus as more students choose to study for degrees online.
Seldon also warned that British universities had to stop “ripping themselves
apart” in a bitter strike over proposed
cuts to academic staff pensions if they
wanted to safeguard their future.
His remarks came as university bosses
said they were setting up a panel of
independent experts to review whether
the universities pension fund does
indeed have a £6.1bn deficit. They had
previously argued that the proposed cuts
to pensions — which lecturers say will
leave them £10,000 a year worse off —
were needed because of the shortfall.
University leaders said they hoped the
move would end the strike. Alistair Jarvis,
chief executive of Universities UK, said:
“Concerns have been raised over the way
the scheme has been valued, which has
led some to question whether there is, in
fact, a very large deficit . . . In the interests
of our students, I hope we can now reach
a speedy resolution.”
Lecturers, who have been on strike for
four weeks, have already rejected one
deal. This week they are expected to
announce dates for a further 14 days of
strikes designed to hit exams at 65 universities this summer. Campuses have seen
student occupations, protests and picket
lines in recent weeks in the kind
of direct action not witnessed since
the 1970s.
Universities are in uncharted territory
in terms of holding exams. They are also
facing demands for compensation and
fee refunds from students for missed lectures and classes. So far there has been
little detailed contingency planning, with
efforts focused on the pensions row.
The University and College Union, representing lecturers, said: “We remain
available for talks, but what is needed is a
much-improved offer that addresses our
members’ wish to retain a decent, guaranteed pension income in retirement.”
“…America’s leadership must be guided
by the lights of learning and reason.”
Sound advice from the 35th to the 45th
55 years ago, JFK was silenced.
Today, using the latest AI
technology, we’ve unsilenced him.
Hear the full Dallas speech at
The Sunday Times March 18, 2018
Rod Liddle
Liddle’s Got Issues: Banned from
Britain for being right-wing?
Go to
or our tablet or phone apps
How to get a brain in advertising: leave
your Top 5 Babes list in the men’s room
here was a brief moment in the
late 1970s when I thought I
might fancy a career in
advertising. The idea occurred
after I had read a comment by
the eminent journalist Paul
Johnson to the effect that “all
the brightest” young minds
were now flooding into the industry.
Then I met some people in advertising
and went off the idea very rapidly. Might
there not be another occupation that
would allow me to be facile, banal and
objectionable to the general public on a
weekly basis without having to wear
stupid-coloured spectacles and be
obsessed with consumer durables?
Reader, a little later I found my
vocation. These days when I view the
patronising, virtue-signalling, moribund
bilge that passes for commercials on our
TV screens, it occurs to me that
advertising is a profession for middleclass liberal dimbos who couldn’t quite
cut it in a more taxing profession, such
as teaching or being a pox doctor’s clerk.
This view was gloriously reinforced
last week by the appearance in our
newspapers of Crassman — Paul Martin,
who worked for The&Partnership — such
a hip, wacky name, no? — and has been
forced to do that most millennial of
things, offer a grovelling apology.
In a farewell note sent to all of his
colleagues, Martin ranked the female
employees in order not of their very real
value as human beings, but according to
how much he wanted to give them one.
Some were categorised under the
heading “If I’d had a few too many”,
including one lucky lady whom he
would consent to penetrate if he’d had
“seven pints and bag of pork
scratchings”. And at the bottom of the
list: “If you were the last girl on earth, I
would use you as bait to trap a wild
animal I would be happier f******.”
The remarkable thing is that Martin
thought the women wouldn’t mind at all
— and might actually like being arrayed
by their sexual attractiveness to some
ginger halfwit many might not even have
l A horrible mess by the
garage. Both bins upturned
and the contents strewn
around the garden. My wife
blamed unnamed “foxes”
until I told her it was almost
certainly Russian agents,
possibly Putin himself. I gave
the Kremlin an ultimatum: it
had until midnight to clear
up the mess. This deadline
has passed, and I am now
contemplating stern
retaliatory action.
It is terrible to find oneself
on the same side as Jeremy
Corbyn, Janet Street-Porter
and RT, previously called
Russia Today. But, then, near
unanimity of opinion in the
West always arouses my
suspicions, especially if
accompanied by the tinny
rattling of antiquated sabres.
I think it more likely than
not that the Russian state
was behind the attempted
murders in Salisbury. And
when a bit more evidence
comes to light, maybe I’ll
grab hold of a sabre myself.
But not quite yet.
In every place
I’ve worked
since the age
of 16, men
have ranked
known existed. You can tell the bloke
was shocked at the response to his note
simply by reading his interminable,
cringing apology. He says he got their
permission, but it never occurred to him
that the women might not actually like it.
That’s how thick people in advertising
are. Meanwhile, the #MeToo lobby
emerged from its coven in full fury.
His mistake was writing it down. In
every place I have worked from the age
of 16, bar none, men have ranked female
colleagues in precisely the same way.
Starting at the Middlesbrough glue
factory, where the female employees
comprised a scary, snaggle-toothed hag
who was a kind of seneschal in the
warehouse, and a thyroidic typist with
the girth of the Transporter Bridge and a
perspiration issue. It didn’t matter. They
were ranked just the same. If you had to,
who would you choose?
This is the thing with men: we make
do with what we have. Women aren’t
like that. It was the same when I worked
in the shadow cabinet corridor for the
Labour Party, even if the men had to be a
long way from the office and a bit pissed
before they divulged their own lists. But
they still had their lists, believe me.
When I was at the Today programme
in the 1990s we placed our female
colleagues in order of the most
important (ie, big audience) slots of the
programme. So, say, Christina would be
the lead at 10 past eight — for a full 15
minutes, followed by the sports update.
Whereas Judy was worth at most two
minutes at 6.15. All these very, very
different men, from hugely diverse
backgrounds and with wildly varying
political opinions — all with their lists,
the new men and the old men, the
liberals and the conservatives.
It didn’t alter our appreciation of the
work the women did. That was
irrelevant. But at the same time, none of
us thought the women would like it. We
knew they wouldn’t. So here’s the thing,
Paul — we didn’t tell them. We knew men
and women look at this kind of thing in
different ways. Because we are different.
Britain stands up to Putin
Free speech turned
away at the border
Canadian vlogger Lauren Southern was
refused entry to the UK because, the
Home Office said, her presence was
“not conducive to the public good”. On
that basis we can rid ourselves of Clare
Balding, Joe Hart and John McDonnell.
Southern was asked if she was a
“Christian extremist” and banned “for
racism” (yay, that gets rid of my motherin-law!). She was interrogated in Calais
by Border Force officers. “What do you
think of people who drive vehicles into
Muslims?“ was one of the asinine
questions, a baffled Southern told me.
This appalling infraction of freedom
of speech came days after Saudi crown
prince Mohammad bin Salman visited
the UK. He missed out on a Border Force
grilling. Straight to Buck House for
non-alcoholic aperitifs and halal lamb.
Cancel the show of
strength — there’s snow
Many a new word
spoken by pests
l Just a word of warning if you’re
planning a trip to Hong Kong. A new
law is about to be adopted making it
illegal to mock the Chinese national
anthem, with a sentence of three
years in prison for offenders.
Whenever I hear the shrill,
hysterical, metallic din I — like most
normal people — burst out laughing.
It was OK to do that in Hong Kong
for a very long time. Alas, not any
It’s always a pleasure to bring you a new
term from the social justice warrior’s
cretinaurus. This week’s word is cishet.
And how despicable a thing a cishet is.
As a poster on Reddit put it: “I keep
seeing the word cishet ... usually with
them saying that the cishets cause all of
their problems and need to die.” Cishet
means someone who is happy with their
birth gender and heterosexual – ie, 98%
of the world.
And here’s another: wypipo. That’s
the new approved term for “white
people”. As in this from a recent black
US blog: “Wypipo can see an unarmed
bullet-riddled black body leaking blood
in the street and feel no empathy, but
will be outraged upon hearing that
someone mistreated a house cat.”
Onwards, ever onwards!
The Sunday Times March 18, 2018
Police try to unravel poisoned
Detectives are working non-stop to establish the route taken by
Sergei and Yulia Skripal, who are now said to be ‘close to death’
Tom Harper, Mark Hookham
and Gabriel Pogrund
Scotland Yard admitted yesterday that
the investigation into the poisoned
Russian spy could take “months” as
detectives focused on an unexplained car
journey thought to have been taken by
Sergei Skripal on the morning of his
attempted murder.
Anti-terrorism officers released new
details of the movements of the former
Russian double agent on the day he was
targeted with a military-grade nerve
agent in Salisbury, Wiltshire, two weeks
ago. Detectives believe his distinctive
burgundy BMW was seen three times on
a trip through the city four hours before
he and daughter Yulia left home for lunch
in the centre. They were later found
slumped on a bench in the first known
chemical weapons attack on British soil.
Sources say the car remains at the
centre of the investigation amid claims
that the nerve agent may have been
smeared on the vehicle’s door handle.
This weekend security sources said
both the Skripals were “close to death”
and not expected to recover. But there
was better news for Nick Bailey, the
police officer who had gone to their aid
and was also exposed to the novichok. He
is no longer in a critical condition.
In an update yesterday Neil Basu, the
Metropolitan police assistant commissioner in charge of anti-terrorism, revealed that Skripal’s car had been
seen at about 9.15am following a route
from the north of Salisbury, then skirting
the historic centre towards his fourbedroom, semi-detached home in
Christie Miller Road (see graphic).
Skripal, 66, and Yulia, 33, had lunch in
the city centre and later collapsed on a
park bench. Yulia had arrived at Heathrow from Russia the day before. It is not
known how she travelled to Salisbury and
what she and her father did, or whom
they may have met, after she arrived.
Basu said 250 detectives were studying
4,000 hours of CCTV footage and working “round the clock” to trace the
Skripals’ movements on the morning of
their attempted murder. “We need to be
clearer around their exact movements.
We believe that at around 9.15am on
Sunday, March 4, Sergei’s car may have
Detectives are focusing on an unexplained car journey thought
to be taken by Sergei Skripal through Salisbury four hours
before he and his daughter Yulia left home for lunch
Sergei Skripal’s
burgundy BMW
320d saloon —
Porton Down
Skripal’s BMW took
a route through the
city centre towards
his home
Skripal’s car was
seen heading
towards the
town centre
Way North
Skripal and his
daughter were
found on a park
bench after
eating at Zizzi
been in the areas of London Road,
Churchill Way North and Wilton Road. At
around 1.30pm it was seen being driven
down Devizes Road, towards the town
centre,” Basu said. “In any investigation
the information we receive from the public can be crucial to helping the police
build a picture of events and in this case
the public response has been immense.
“This is an extremely challenging and
complex investigation. We have around
250 exceptionally experienced and dedicated specialist officers from the counterterrorism network working around the
½ mile
clock on this case. They are supported by
hundreds more officers as well as the
military and other emergency services.
“Detectives are making good progress
in a painstaking investigation that is likely
to be ongoing for weeks, if not months.”
Last week reports sourced to intelligence agencies suggested the novichok
had been planted in Yulia’s suitcase
before she left Moscow.
These claims were dismissed this
weekend by Hamish de Bretton-Gordon,
a chemical weapons expert.
“If you accept this was a deliberate
attempt to kill him by people who are the
world’s best, to put it [novichok] in the
post or to put it in a parcel to be brought
back is pretty haphazard,” he said.
“Maybe it was dabbed on a jacket or
some clothing or a car seat or a steering
wheel. That would explain why it took
relatively long to act from what is actually
something very, very toxic.”
Bailey was one of the first officers on
the scene. This weekend NHS England
said the detective sergeant was conscious
and stable. “Today’s news is very welcome,” said Lorna Wilkinson, director of
nursing, Salisbury NHS Foundation
Trust. “I want to thank all our staff
who’ve been working tirelessly to give
outstanding care to him.”
Skripal had been a Russian military
intelligence officer, but was recruited by
MI6 and given the code name “Forthwith”. His cover was eventually blown
and he was convicted of spying for Britain
in 2006. He came to the UK in 2010 as
part of a spy exchange. Since settling in
Wiltshire he was said to have lived a
“modest, quiet life”, playing Second
World War tank games on his computer.
Inquiries by The Sunday Times last
week suggest that he may have remained
more active than previously thought,
making him more of a target.
Max Najim, who owns a Russian food
shop near Waterloo station in London,
said he used to speak to Skripal once or
twice a month when he came in to buy
Russian sausages and pickled cabbage.
“He used to travel a lot,” said Najim.
“He went to the US, France and Dubai. He
described himself as a consultant who
advised various companies on security.”
What are nerve agents?
Highly toxic chemicals that
attack the vital organs
such as the heart and lungs.
Most work by blocking
acetylcholinesterase, an
enzyme vital for nerve
How do they kill?
The agent slows the heart
and restricts the airways,
leading to death by
asphyxiation. Death can be
within minutes if eaten or
over a much longer period if
absorbed through clothing.
Survivors may be left with
permanent nerve and brain
What is novichok?
A group of chemicals up to
eight times as strong as VX,
previously thought to be the
world’s deadliest nerve
agent. Russia is thought to
have made several
thousand tons of them in
the 1990s. Just a tiny
amount in liquid form could
have been used in Salisbury.
Where was it made?
At a military facility in
Shikhany, central Russia,
according to Hamish de
Bretton-Gordon, a chemical
weapons expert.
Novichok victims: Sergei Skripal and daughter Yulia and Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey
How was the poison
It could have been smeared
on the door handle, seats or
steering wheel of Skripal’s
BMW 320d saloon, or put in
its air-conditioning system.
Alternatively, it may have
been dabbed on their
clothes or planted in her
luggage. It is likely the
component chemicals were
mixed at the “last safe
moment” before the hit.
Why is Detective Sergeant
Nick Bailey making a
recovery but the Skripals
are still critical?
Bailey is believed to have
been contaminated when
he rushed to help the pair
outside the Maltings
shopping centre or later at
Skripal’s home. He
suffered a much smaller
dose of the agent. Such a
dose would leave the body
faster, causing less harm.
based Organisation for the
Prohibition of Chemical
Weapons have been asked
to test samples. They took
more than two months to
confirm a sarin attack in
Syria. Even if they identify
the nerve agent, they are
unlikely to attribute blame.
That requires setting up a
UN panel, which Russia
could block.
What next?
The Skripals are said to be
close to death. Meanwhile,
scientists from the Hague-
Video: how Novichok works
Go to or
our smartphone or tablet apps
Special Branch called in as email warns dissident:
Tom Harper
Home Affairs Correspondent
Special Branch is
investigating death threats
against another Russian
dissident living in the UK,
who has received a series of
threatening emails linking his
fate to Sergei Skripal, the spy
poisoned with a nerve agent.
Valery Morozov, 63, who
claimed political asylum in
the UK after blowing the
whistle on Kremlin
corruption, received a series
of emails last week, warning:
“They came for Sergei, they
will come for you.”
The news comes two days
after Scotland Yard
announced a murder
investigation into the death of
Nikolai Glushkov, an enemy
of Vladimir Putin, who was
found strangled in his south
London home last week, just
hours after Theresa May had
issued an ultimatum to the
Russian president over the
death of Skripal.
Morozov received threats
from an anonymous
encrypted email address and
immediately reported them
to Surrey police. When he did
not reply, Morozov received a
second email, warning: “Do
you not care what will
happen to you? Waiting for
your confirmation.”
Special Branch is
understood to have stepped
Nikolai Glushkov,
far left, and Boris
Berezovsky, who
are both dead.
Below, Valery
up the security around
Morozov and his wife Irina,
who fled to Britain in 2012
after exposing a £4m bribes
scandal in the construction
industry for the 2014 Winter
Olympics in Sochi.
The news will heighten
The Sunday Times March 18, 2018
spy’s mystery car journey
First my father was
murdered, now
my friend Nikolai
I fear I’ll be next, says KGB defector ‘abandoned’ by Britain
David Collins
Northern Correspondent
The Russian defector Victor
Makarov ushered us inside
his tiny council flat in a
remote northern town and
within minutes was using the
photographer to demonstrate
a rather painful-looking KGB
“This is how to stop
somebody pointing a pistol at
you,” he says in a thick
Russian accent. “You knock
the gun away, like this . . .”
He was explaining what he
learnt at KGB spy school in
1975 — the same year as
Vladimir Putin.“I also know
some choke holds which will
incapacitate,” he suggests.
The photographer flashed me
a glare. “Best not, Victor,” I
Makarov, 63, has dressed
for our meeting in a fresh
shirt and trousers. But small
details reveal a man living in
poverty. His slippers have
holes at the toes and there’s a
musty smell about the chilly
flat where he lives alone.
After spying for two years
at the heart of Russian
intelligence, MI6 smuggled
him into Britain in 1992.
Initially, Makarov claims he
was given cash handouts and
cheques by intelligence
officers. But after he received
a lump sum of £58,000 in
2001, he claims he was cut
Fast-forward 17 years and
Makarov is living in daily fear
of Putin’s assassins seeking
revenge for his betrayal of
Mother Russia. “I feel
betrayed,” he said. “I trusted
Britain to look after me. I
risked my life to spy for this
country. Now look at me.
“I did far worse than Sergei
Skripal. I told MI6 about
plans Russia drew up to
invade Poland. I told them
lots of things they didn’t
know. I was scared when they
got Litvinenko.
“Now Skripal. Next it could
be me. Every time Russian
media do a story about
traitors I am on their list. I
had a journalist for Russia
Today call me up for an
interview. They haven’t
“When I was in the KGB,
they were searching for
people who betrayed them in
the 1940s — 30 years back.
The KGB never forget.”
He picks a book off a shelf
in his living room — The
Mitrokhin Archive — written
by Vasili Mitrokhin, a
defector whose account of
the feared Russian
intelligence service is
regarded as the gold standard
on the KGB.
He leafs through to a
section on high-ranking KGB
officers who worked as agents
for the British.
Makarov is listed as one of
the six, along with Oleg
Gordievsky, the former KGB
colonel and London bureau
chief who spied for Britain.
Makarov suspects that our
agents believed he was still
working for the Russians.
“How can this be true?” he
said. “I was arrested and lived
five years in prison. I know
the names of many MI6
officers who I never
betrayed. These people
would have been caught and
punished if I was still spying
for Russia.”
Locally, people know him
as George, although his
neighbours know his true
identity. “They are my best
protection,” he said. “I
moved here from London
because I think it’s safer.
People watch out for
strangers. It would be harder
to assassinate me here. But if
they came . . . ?” he shrugs.
“Who knows? The last time I
had contact with MI5 was 10
years ago.”
The ex-spy survives on
benefits of less than £200 a
week. His local MP, Guy
Opperman, has written to
Theresa May asking her to
look at ways he could be
“compensated or assisted
Victor Makarov says he lives in daily fear of Kremlin killers
May responded on
February 8 this year saying
that she recognised the
complexities of the case. She
wrote: “I have asked that
officials in the Home Office
look into his concerns in
further detail. I understand
that, as the minister
responsible, Ben Wallace will
write to you in due course
with an update.”
Makarov’s life is now one
of paranoia and regret. He
is in touch with only one
family member — his nephew
in Russia — who he believes
the authorities are using to
spy on him.
It is a far cry from his life in
Russia as a KGB officer, part
of the Soviet elite. Bullied at
school, he had wanted a job
that would teach him to look
after himself, he said. He
opted for the KGB academy
and graduated in modern
Greek and law. He was given
training in self-defence and
But after joining, Makarov
realised that the security
service was corrupt and he
became increasingly
convinced he was working for
a criminal regime.
By this time he was
working in the KGB’s
cryptoanalytical department
where he deciphered
diplomatic telegrams that
came from embassies around
the world bugged by the
He fell in love with his
English teacher, Olga, who
convinced him to approach
the British intelligence
“We dreamt of escaping to
England and marrying,” he
said. Eventually, using Olga as
a go-between, he began to
pass information to MI6. But
Makarov was betrayed by a
former colleague and
arrested on July 8, 1987.
‘They came for Sergei, they will come for you’
tensions in the Russian
emigré community following
the murder of Glushkov, 68.
The businessman was a close
friend of Boris Berezovsky,
the billionaire arch-enemy of
the Russian president.
Berezovsky was found dead
at his ex-wife’s home in
Berkshire in 2013. Police said
they believed he had killed
himself but a coroner
recorded an open verdict.
Glushkov always
maintained that Berezovksy
was killed. Last week, it was
announced the case would be
re-examined following the
attempted murder of Skripal
and his daughter.
Detectives will also look at
potential links between
Glushkov’s case and legal
action against him in the High
Court. He was being sued by
Aeroflot, 51% of which is
owned by the Russian state,
for the return of $99m. It was
alleged he and Berezovsky
had embezzled the money.
Alex Goldfarb, a vocal
opponent of Putin who knew
Glushkov, said: “I think he
was murdered by the
Russians. I do not think
anything of that sort could
happen without Putin’s
knowledge . . . It is obvious to
me that it comes from the
Kremlin. All of it looks like a
campaign to target Britain,
which has annoyed Putin for
many years and to intimidate
others who might be thinking
of fleeing: there is no
It is understood Glushkov
was at the top of a list of 22
so-called fugitives published
by the Russian embassy in
London a year ago.
Detectives are believed to
be looking into the theory
that it was a staged suicide.
The results of Glushkov’s
post-mortem examination
reportedly show he was
strangled before he was
strung up.
Morozov said he believed
Glushkov was killed because
he “knew too much” about
Berezovsky’s death,
knowledge that could be
dangerous now the case is to
be re-examined.
“There are many criminal
Russian elements living in the
UK, some of them are
connected to Kremlin but
some of them are not,”
Morozov said
“It’s not helpful to
always blame Putin. It
could be that this is
another criminal Russian
gang but the British police
never investigate these
murders properly because
it is always just blamed on
Putin. This time, there
needs to be proper
investigations into all these
Surrey police said: “We
are investigating a report of
a malicious email sent to a
resident living in Guildford.
Inquiries are currently
being carried out by Surrey
police officers.”
Makarov spent five years in
a gulag labour camp in the
Ural mountains. He was freed
in early 1992, a few months
after the collapse of the Soviet
Union, and with the help of
two MI6 officers, escaped to
Britain on a false passport. He
has lost touch with Olga, who
stayed in Russia.
“I was promised a normal
life in this country,” he said.
“I love the British people. I
love this country and I risked
my life for it.
“I don’t want to be found,
poisoned on a park bench
somewhere, wishing I had
asked for help sooner.”
Nine years after my father
Alexander was killed by
radioactive poisoning in
London, I was preparing to
celebrate my 21st birthday
with a few close friends at a
local pub.
My mother, Marina, knew I
was still struggling with my
father’s death because I spent
most days at home, alone,
watching reruns of The
Simpsons rather than facing
the outside world. Headlines
about my father’s murder on
the orders of the Putin regime
reinforced a feeling of
depression and helplessness
that his killers might never be
brought to justice.
On the day I turned 21 my
mother gave me my father’s
gold ring. It was the ring he
had worn most of his life,
from the time we fled Russia
for the UK in 2000 to the day
he checked into hospital on
November 3, 2006, poisoned
with polonium-210.
My birthday present gave
me a renewed sense of
purpose to rediscover who
my father was. And the more
I learnt about my father’s past
as an intelligence officer in
the KGB and FSB, the more I
was struck by his bravery in
standing up to his former
They are renowned for
pursuing critics till the end,
just as they have again with
the attempted assassination
of Sergei Skripal and his
daughter Yulia in Salisbury.
It’s impossible to
overestimate the Kremlin’s
appetite for revenge,
particularly after last week’s
murder of Nikolai Glushkov, a
former deputy director of
Aeroflot, the Russian airline,
in his London home.
The pattern surrounding
the deaths of dissidents has
become all too familiar. I
recall attending a lecture in
Russian politics at University
College London where my
teacher projected a series of
images onto the screen,
including Boris Berezovsky’s.
Berezovsky, like Glushkov,
was another vocal opponent
of Putin who escaped Russia
before being found dead at
home in suspicious
The teacher said it was a
course requirement to
familiarise ourselves with the
stories behind the pictures. I
remember thinking — I know
most of these people
Glushkov was my friend.
On my 16th birthday, he gave
me a watch that I have worn
ever since. Now, like my
father’s ring, it is another
grim memento of a great man
who is no more.
Anatoly Litvinenko, 23, is a
researcher in eastern
European studies in the UK
Alexander Litvinenko in
hospital in London in 2006
The Sunday Times March 18, 2018
Angry Labour MPs
plot pro-EU party
Corbyn’s response to the Salisbury attack has sparked a breakaway call
Tim Shipman and Caroline Wheeler
Senior Labour MPs appalled by Jeremy
Corbyn’s performance over the Salisbury
poisoning have been in secret talks with
the Liberal Democrats and at least one
Conservative MP about forming a new
political party called Start Again.
Plans for a new pro-European centre
party have been openly discussed as part
of cross-party discussions on Brexit,
according to sources present.
One of those involved in the plotting —
a former member of the shadow cabinet
— told The Sunday Times that Corbyn’s
refusal to blame Russia for the attack
would cause MPs to abandon Labour.
“This is a watershed moment,” the MP
said. “It has caused a number of people to
question why we are in this party.”
Sources say a number of possible
names — including the Democrats, Back
Together and Regain — have been discussed for a new party to launch after
Brexit in the spring of 2019, but Start
Again has emerged as the “working title”
of the new party.
Details of Start Again emerged after
reports last week that Chuka Umunna,
the former shadow business secretary,
recently called Sir Vince Cable, the leader
of the Liberal Democrats, to complain
that he had “jumped the gun” by publicly
revealing that Labour MPs might join
forces with the Lib Dems.
Pro-remain MPs and peers, including
Umunna and Chris Leslie, the former
shadow chancellor, and Wirral South MP
Alison McGovern meet every Wednesday
to discuss tactics. Others present include
Anna Soubry, the Tory MP for Broxtowe,
who told the New Statesman magazine in
March last year: “If [a new party] could
somehow be the voice of a moderate,
sensible, forward-thinking, visionary
middle way, with open minds — actually
things which I’ve believed in all my life —
better get on with it.”
A source present for several of the
meetings revealed that Umunna has suggested the combined pro-EU activists in
Britain are a force to be reckoned with if
brought under the same roof.
“I have heard him on three occasions,
in groups of 10 people or more, mention
the fact that if you put together the memberships of the pro-European movements you would have something bigger
than the Labour Party,” the source said.
“Start Again is the working title.”
Umunna last night denied that he was
seeking to start a new party or that he had
berated Cable for jumping the gun. “It’s
nonsense,” he said. A friend of McGovern
said she was not involved in talks about a
new party. Leslie did not return calls.
One prominent Tory remainer was
overheard in the House of Commons tearoom earlier this month predicting that
Brexit would lead to a “scorched earth”
result for the British economy, which
would give them an excuse to leave the
Conservative Party. One of the MPs
present is understood to have reported
the comments to the Tory whips’ office.
‘This attempted murder . . . was an
indiscriminate and reckless act
against the UK . . . Their response
has demonstrated complete
disdain’ Theresa May
‘The temperature of Russian-UK
relations drops to -23 but we are
not afraid of cold weather’
Russian embassy in London
‘Frankly, Russia should go away,
it should shut up’ Gavin Williamson,
defence secretary
‘Boorish language is apparently
the only thing left in the British
military arsenal’ Russian defence
ministry spokesman
‘It certainly looks like the Russians
were behind it. Something that
should never, ever happen and
we are taking it very seriously’
President Donald Trump
The longstanding refusal of Corbyn’s
inner circle to criticise Russia is laid bare
today in documents and emails passed to
The Sunday Times. They show that
Andrew Fisher, Corbyn’s hard-left policy
chief, intervened to remove a section
critical of Vladimir Putin’s government
from a document spelling out Labour’s
position during the EU referendum.
A first draft of the document argued
that Britain’s membership of the EU “protects Britain” by “countering Russian
aggression in eastern Europe”.
In an email sent on May 9, 2016, Fisher
complained that “the references to ‘Russian aggression’ look like a relic of the
Cold War era and should be removed”.
In another internal email Fisher said:
“Happy with all, except the Russia line —
we have taken that out of previous agreed
scripts.” His colleague Jennifer Larbie
backed Fisher, declaring: “Including
point about Russian aggression is unnecessarily conflictual.”
Nonetheless, MPs and shadow cabinet
aides say there are now splits in the
Labour leader’s office where some
officials have doubts that it was wise for
Seumas Milne, Corbyn’s chief aide, to
question the intelligence suggesting
Russia was behind the Salisbury attack on
Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia.
Corbyn was briefed in person last
week by the national security adviser, Sir
Mark Sedwill, though he was not shown
top secret intelligence and was not
invited to join the national security council, an honour extended to Ed Miliband
when he was leader of the opposition.
“The vast majority of people — basically everyone but Seumas — think that
what he is saying on Russia is bonkers,” a
party aide said. “When you are in touching distance of power, many in the
leader’s office think it’s really unwise.”
Corbyn’s stance has prompted moderate Labour MPs to discuss whether they
should sit as a separate faction in
parliament if Labour were to win most
seats at the next election. One said: “The
question we are asking is: how can you, as
a patriot, countenance him being prime
Theresa May speaking at the Conservative spring forum yesterday amid the controversy over the Salisbury poisonings
Promise of roubles ‘dazzled Tories’
Caroline Wheeler
Sir Ed Davey, the former
energy secretary, claims the
Conservatives were “torn”
between national security
and “billions of rouble
wealth” when David Cameron
opened the door to Russian
companies helping to build
nuclear reactors in Britain.
Writing for the Sunday
Times website, the former
cabinet minister says he was
“astonished” when the then
prime minister agreed to
Vladimir Putin’s request that
Rosatom, the Russian state
nuclear company, gain access
to the UK’s civil nuclear
power market. “Putin’s
ambitions have been evident
for some time, but the
Conservatives’ position has
long been incoherent and
inconsistent,” he writes.
“During the coalition, the
Conservatives seemed torn
between the national security
evidence and the billions of
rouble wealth.”
He says there was “simply
no way” Russian involvement
would have survived the
scrutiny given to Chinese
industrial investment. Davey
adds: “I was particularly
astonished when David
Cameron agreed to Putin’s
request that the Russian state
nuclear power company,
Rosatom, be introduced to
the UK’s civil nuclear power
market and develop an
international consortium
with Rolls-Royce.”
In Davey’s account, Putin
asked for access for Rosatom
during a telephone
conversation with Cameron
in 2012, who passed the
request to the Department of
Energy and Climate Change.
A memo of understanding
was signed in Moscow the
following year. Davey claims
the agreement was
“meaningless” but was left
“gobsmacked” when
Cameron refused to ditch the
idea even after Putin’s
annexation of Crimea forced
the government to consider
The Liberal Democrat MP
for Kingston and Surbiton
also claims he received “less
than full support” from No 10
or Theresa May’s Home Office
as he fought to stop Russian
investment in strategic North
Sea oil and gas assets.
Downing Street declined to
Read Ed Davey’s article in full
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The Sunday Times March 18, 2018
Putin rival urges Britain to target
children of Kremlin cronies
Squeezing the ‘Londongrad’
lifestyle of oligarchs,
including revoking child
visas, will hurt the president
too, says Alexei Navalny
Supporters of
Vladimir Putin
gather in
Sevastapol last
week to mark the
anniversary of
annexation of
Matthew Campbell
Russia’s main opposition leader has
urged Theresa May to hit back at Vladimir
Putin for the Salisbury nerve-agent attack
by striking at the comfortable “Londongrad” lifestyle enjoyed by some in his
circle and excluding their children from
schools in Britain.
Alexei Navalny, the anti-corruption
campaigner who has been barred from
standing against Putin in today’s
presidential election, complained that
Britain’s response had been “more than
disappointing”. If the government
wanted to pressure Russia, he said, it
must target the sumptuous lifestyle of
Putin’s cronies in London and this meant
revoking visas for children.
“It’s about their families,” Navalny told
The Sunday Times. “I’m not saying we
should stop all Russian children from
studying in London, but certainly those
of corrupt officials and oligarchs. This is
absolutely 100% necessary.”
Navalny said Putin was probably
“jumping to the ceiling with joy” over the
expulsion of 23 Russian diplomats — to
which Russia responded yesterday by
ordering the expulsion of 23 British diplomats. Britain also announced it would
not send members of the royal family to
the World Cup in Russia this summer.
“These are symbolic gestures of
diplomacy which diplomats consider
severe but which ordinary people don’t
care about,” said Navalny in his office.
The UK reaction had been a “gift” for
Putin, who had “demonstrated that he
can assassinate someone on British soil
without real consequences”.
The poisoning of Sergei Skripal, a
former Russian spy, and Yulia, his daughter, had been carefully designed to cause
maximum outrage, Navalny claimed.
“They want you to be enraged, to
provoke you into actions which they can
predict. Watch Russian television — they
are really enjoying this, glorying in it, the
whole agenda has switched to a discussion of how beastly Britain is being to us,
how England is trying to humiliate
Mother Russia.”
This was “just what Putin wanted” on
the eve of today’s election — which
nobody doubts he will win — distracting
attention from corruption and an economic downturn due to lower oil prices.
“It’s another opportunity for him to
create another two or three seasons of his
favourite series, called ‘look at these
bastards from the West damaging Mother
Russia’,” he said.
Boris Nemtsov, another prominent
Putin foe, was shot dead on a bridge near
the Kremlin in 2015, and Navalny, 41, is
no stranger to the perils of opposition
He has been assaulted, sued and vilified as a dangerous “agent of the West”,
and his home and office have been
repeatedly ransacked by police. His
brother Oleg is being held “hostage” by
the Kremlin in prison, he says. But he
insists: “I am not afraid.”
Starved of publicity by Russian media,
he has turned instead to the internet to
take aim at what he regards as the
greatest scourge in the land — the looting
of the country by Putin, the “tsar of
corruption”, he calls him — and a group
of his greediest cronies.
Britain, he says, is complicit in the
plunder, turning a blind eye to Russians
laundering dirty money in London,
much of it through the capital’s prime
property market. Many have children in
top private schools such as Eton.
“It might not sound pleasant for
British people, but you are paying a price
for your expensive and immoral bankers
and lawyers who have created a huge
lobby protecting Russian oligarchs and
Navalny: poisonings ‘carefully
designed’ to cause maximum outrage
to see
as a
officials,” he said. “This lobby is keeping
them safe.”
One is Oleg Deripaska, the metals
billionaire and Putin confidant, who has
close ties to London. Navalny accused
him recently of bribing a top Russian official by entertaining him on his yacht with
prostitutes — one of whom had posted a
record of her adventures on Instagram.
Deripaska has denied bribing anyone.
But Navalny said he and others had in
effect “bought” a “corrupted British
Establishment” to create “a kind of
perverted high society”.
He recalled that Deripaska, whose En+
Group was floated last year on the London stock exchange, had entertained
George Osborne, then shadow chancellor, and Peter Mandelson, then EU trade
commissioner, aboard his yacht in Corfu
in 2008. “It’s not that type of corruption
in which someone brings an MP a briefcase stuffed with cash, although maybe
that happens as well, but a soft type of
corruption to do with lifestyle and spending time together.”
Navalny also singled out Roman
Abramovich, who is close to Putin and
owns Chelsea football club, Alisher
Usmanov, a billionaire shareholder in
Arsenal, and Igor Shuvalov, first deputy
prime minister of Russia, who owns two
London flats worth £11m, as other figures
benefiting from Britain looking the other
way. They deny any wrongdoing.
Imposing sanctions on them “would
be supported here inside Russia”, said
Navalny. “They are powerful people who
can change the Putin politics and help to
fuel disloyalty to Putin. If their assets
were frozen, if their children could no
longer study in Britain, they would begin
to see Putin as a liability and that would
be a problem for him.”
He believed that there was ample
support among British politicians for
measures against some two dozen
London-based Russian figures with connections to Putin, “but nothing is done.
You have this fantastic anti-bribery act —
why don’t you use it?” He went on:
“There are a lot of things which can be
done by Theresa May and her cabinet.
But the question is if they really want to.”
Navalny’s films on YouTube are a
Russian internet sensation. He has boldly
flown drones with video cameras over
the sumptuous palaces of the elite “to
explain what corruption looks like” —
although not yet in London.
He has published a large calendar featuring photographs of various offenders
— one for each month — pictured against
the backdrop of their ill-gotten gains.
The anti-government blogging has
grown into the crowd-funded AntiCorruption Foundation with a suite of
offices in a commercial centre in Moscow
and several members of staff.
When I arrived there to meet him last
week, Navalny was in the midst of making
another YouTube video — this one urging
Russians to boycott what he referred to as
today’s “so-called election” featuring
“fake candidates” from the “system
opposition” standing against Putin
What worries Navalny is the likelihood
of Putin trying to perpetuate his grip on
power beyond the six more years in office
that he will seize in today’s vote.
“He’ll become a more and more
authoritarian leader, laying down rules
allowing him to become a lifetime president,” predicted Navalny, who believes
that Putin is “trapped” in power because
he would be vulnerable to pursuit if he
left office and has nowhere to run.
The Kremlin has been wary of Navalny
on account of his ability to call large
numbers of protesters onto the streets —
in some ways these are his protection.
When he was sentenced to five years in
jail for embezzlement in 2013 — the
charges are widely believed to have been
fabricated — 10,000 people gathered in
Moscow in protest and he was freed the
next day.
But his brother, Oleg, was jailed for 3½
years in another apparently trumped-up
case. His periods in solitary confinement
seem to coincide with Navalny’s release
of new films about corruption. But he has
urged his brother not to give in.
“My brother is paying the price for my
activities,” said Navalny. “That’s why I
continue. Giving up would mean his
three years in prison were worthless.”
The Sunday Times March 18, 2018
Scattered jihadists
return to menace
‘cleared’ lands
Middle East Correspondent
Mosul has been left in ruins by the long battle for its control. Isis fighters buried explosives everywhere, including in hospitals. One contained 2,500 devices and took six weeks to clear
Isis is long gone but its bombs
keep on killing in Mosul
Refugees returning to the
Iraqi city find desolation,
bodies in their houses and
thousands of booby traps
left by the terror group
Rafi Abid thought his children’s nightmare was finally over when Mosul was
liberated last July. They had seen beheadings during three years of Isis control and
had cowered in a basement surrounded
by mattresses during the nine-month
battle for the city. Their mother had been
killed by shrapnel.
Eight months on, however, and their
house is still in ruins. “Look,” said Abid,
pushing open the door to show everything smashed — furniture, cups and
plates. A torn poster of the Barcelona
football team is the only indication of
what was once a normal life.
Mosul is an apocalyptic scene, still
strewn with burnt-out cars as if the war
had just ended. Inside many ruined
houses there are still corpses: here a
woman, her long black hair matted with
blood, there an entire family.
Isis may have been driven out of their
former capital in northern Iraq but their
deadly mission continues. Not only are
mortar rounds and grenades clearly
visible among the rubble, but the entire
area is intensively booby-trapped.
“As Isis left they seeded the ground
with industrial levels of improvised
explosive devices [IEDs] designed to kill
or maim those returning or those clearing,” said Major-General Felix Gedney,
the British deputy commander of coalition forces fighting Isis in Iraq and Syria.
“We found IEDs in tins of baby food,
sewn into furniture and inside books, so
they have continued their campaign after
they left.”
The terrorists left IEDs that go off when
stepped on, others that kill when an
object is picked up. Others are detonated
by tripwires and even infrared triggers
invisible to the naked eye.
“I call it evil genius,” said Pehr Lodhammar, programme director for the UN
Mine Action Service which is working
with the Iraqi army to clear the explosives. So far his teams have disarmed
more than 27,000 IEDs.
“No one has ever put that amount of
IEDs in a place,” he said. “It took a lot of
effort and thinking to do something like
His men have found “hundreds” of IED
factories that even had quality control
departments and branding: “What they
have done is on a scale and complexity
far beyond anything I’ve seen in 30 years
of this work.”
Many devices were planted in critical
infrastructure such as utilities, schools
and hospitals. Mosul’s large al-Shifa
hospital contained more than 2,500
devices and took six weeks to clear.
Lodhammar estimates it will take a
decade to clear the old part of the city,
but “in 40 years people will still find
The Isis dead, still in their suicide
belts, are also dangerous. Lodhammar’s
men have deactivated more than 110.
“Last Wednesday one of my team did
three before 9am,” he said.
Mohammad Shaban Khidhir is one of
27 Iraqi civil defence workers who pull
the bodies of civilians out of the ruins.
They have removed more than
2,600 so far and he believes
there are many more.
“Some days we have 30 or
40 bodies in plastic bags,”
he said.
He takes out a torn
photograph of a smiling
little girl in pink and wipes
away a tear: “This girl, whose body I
found, could have been my daughter. It’s
heartbreaking.” It is also dangerous. An
Major-General Felix Gedney, the
British deputy commander of
the US-led coalition which has
driven Isis from strongholds in
Iraq and Syria, sees a “limited
window” for reconstruction to
ensure it does not win back
popular support, Christina
Lamb reports.
“I don’t think Isis has been
defeated yet,” he told The
Sunday Times. “We’re seeing
the beginnings of insurgent
activity. We don’t know yet how
virulent that will be.”
He added: “What we see in
some of these insurgent groups
is no more than some very
frightened individuals who
know they are beaten,
everything they stood for taken
away from them and Iraqi
Residents of
Mosul face a
traumatic future
Iraqi colonel working with them was
killed when their digger hit an IED.
“We’ve all been injured,” Khidhir said.
Although they are employees of the
Iraqi interior ministry, they have not
been paid for four years. Khidhir, a father
of six, works as a painter. Others drive
taxis. “People help us out,” he said.
“We’ve carried on because we think:
what if this was your own family, who
would rescue them?”
He is shocked at the lack of international help. “We don’t understand,” he
said. “Britain, the US, all those countries which helped to get rid of Isis
should now bring their machinery
and help people clear and rebuild,
but we’re getting nothing.”
Although 3.2m Iraqis have
returned to areas retaken from
Isis, 2.6m remain displaced in
refugee camps, many in deteriorating conditions. The danger is
if people cannot return home
and earn a livelihood, they might
start supporting terrorists again
instead of their government.
At a reconstruction conference
in Kuwait last month, Iraq was
pledged only $30bn (£21.5bn) of
the $88bn it had requested. One
western diplomat put the reluctance to give money to the Iraqi
government down to corruption.
Transparency International, an anticorruption organisation, ranked Iraq
at 169 out of 180 countries last year.
security forces will find them.”
But “there is a risk so we’ve got
to focus on immediate
stabilisation to show the
population their best hope lies
with legitimate governance so
they don’t say life’s better with
Isis. We get [that] there is a
limited window.”
This would not be easy.
“Large parts of western Mosul
and Raqqa are not going to
rebuild in the timescale we
have,” Gedney said. “But that
doesn’t mean we can’t do
enough to get large numbers to
return and show there is more
hope for them under the
government than under Isis.”
He admitted that the task
was complicated by the fact
that, as Raqqa fell last October,
Gedney: Isis
fighters fled
in convoy
with civilians
hundreds of Isis fighters were
able to escape in a convoy
meant to save civilians.
“The end of fighting in Raqqa
was pretty bloody and there
were a lot of civilians at risk
because of the way Isis was
holding them there,” he said.
“Tribal elders were adamant
about making sure they get
their people to safety. We didn’t
agree with the plan but our
partner forces felt they couldn’t
ignore their pleas.”
Many had been “found,
detained or dealt with” but
some reached Turkey. “We can’t
operate in Turkey but we’re
doing everything we can to
interdict both indigenous and
foreign terrorist fighters as they
move through the battlefield.”
Gedney claimed to be
closing in on the Isis leader, Abu
Bakr al-Baghdadi.
“He’s clearly on our radar and
the territory he’s got and
freedom of movement is hugely
In Mosul, relief at liberation is turning
to anger among the returning families
who wander in their ruined homes. “We
came here to look at our house and cry a
little,” said Alla Mahmood, arriving with
his family. Pointing out a dead woman
lying by an entrance, he added: “Every
home has two or three corpses.”
“People saw things no one can
imagine,” said Abu Hashim, a policeman.
“I hid for three years as they were
killing police. Isis arrested anyone who
tried to flee. They shot dead 21 civilians at
the end of my street.”
Nearby are the remains of the
al-Nuri mosque where the Isis leader,
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, had proclaimed
his “caliphate” in 2014.
“Living under Isis was like a noose
around your neck,” said Uday Fadhil,
whose daughter, 8, and nephew, 7, had
been killed by mortars.
“But liberation has left us destitute —
we’ve lost our homes, furniture and livelihood. We left in the clothes we are wearing. Here there are no schools, electricity,
water, sewage: how can we move back?”
A campaign has been launched to try
to stop Isis taking root in Mosul again.
The ulama council of Islamic scholars
aims to form “brigades” tasked with
ridding residents of extremist ideas.
Young people are collecting books to
replace those burnt by Isis from the
university’s once famous library: 1,000
volumes arrived last week from Manchester University after a crowdfunding
campaign organised by a student there. A
fake McDonald’s has opened.
Mohammad Ahmad, 29, a law student
and violinist, gives concerts with friends
among the ruins of the city. “We play in
all the places where Isis killed people,” he
said. “Our mission is to broadcast peace
anywhere that is destroyed.”
Music had been banned under Isis, so
he had muted the violin by putting a
wooden clothes peg on the bridge. He
practised in a friend’s house where there
was a generator to drown out the noise:
“If Isis heard, they would have killed me.”
He hid his two violins by burying them
in the garden. One was destroyed when
his father watered the plants.
Isis vigilantes came to his house to
search. They found nothing but arrested
him anyway: “They held me a month.
Five times they forced me on my knees
with a pistol on my head, then shot next
to me. I fell, thinking I’d been killed.
“After that I stayed home and played
no more. It was like living in hell. Now
when I play, I hope people will feel life
has begun again.”
Mosul in ruins: more photographs
Go to or
our smartphone or tablet apps
Every few days US BrigadierGeneral Kyle Robinson straps
into an F-15E Strike Eagle and
takes off to hunt Isis fighters.
The pilots in his combat
wing swoop over the
Euphrates valley unleashing
Hellfire missiles at the
battered remnants of the
self-styled “caliphate”,
where a group of fewer than
1,000 militants is fighting to
the death.
Isis, which used to control
an area the size of Scotland,
now holds only small patches
of land in the dusty Iraq-Syria
borderlands. Although the
“caliphate” has crumbled,
however, Isis has not been
“It’s not over,” said
Robinson, leaning back in
his chair at an American
base in an undisclosed
As Isis had lost much of
its land, “they’re going to
have to transition towards
something else: towards an
insurgency . . . where they’re
going to scatter and try to do
their nefarious operations”,
predicted the general, a
veteran of the US campaign
in Afghanistan.
Isis was ousted from Mosul
and Raqqa, its Syrian capital,
last year in an effort that
placed America and its
coalition allies, including
Britain, at the forefront of
the fight. Now analysts,
diplomats and military
sources say that across Syria
and Iraq, Isis is re-emerging.
“It is coming up again in
all sorts of places where it
has been militarily defeated,”
said one western diplomat.
“It has not been destroyed.”
Robinson’s base does not
look temporary. Scores of
soldiers lope to and from
their missions. In a blue-andblack-lit “morale, welfare and
recreation tent” they play
on Xboxes, eat Snickers bars
and drink Jim Beam bourbon.
A board shows a range of
romantic comedies
scheduled for screening in
the on-base cinema. It looks
as if they will be fighting Isis
for a long time yet.
They are needed. Since
the beginning of this year,
there have been increasing
reports of Isis attacks, arrests
and weapons seizures in
parts of Iraq and Syria that
have supposedly been
cleared. In its new insurgent
role, Isis is using guerrilla
tactics: sleeper cells,
hit-and-run attacks and
suicide bombs.
On the crowded battlefield
in eastern Syria, Robinson
said, fleeing militants tried to
exploit the divisions between
advancing forces by fleeing
over their front lines and out
of the Americans’ de facto
“They’re going
everywhere. We’re trying to
keep track of all that in
particular because there [are]
areas we and our coalition
partners control, versus areas
that the regime controls,” he
said. “So it becomes
complicated as they move in
and out of different areas.”
Other forces in Iraq and
Syria have been unable or
unwilling to finish off the
militants. The Iraqi armed
forces and their affiliates
were sent away from Isis front
lines to their northern border
with the Kurds after an
independence referendum
last year sparked violence.
Western diplomats say this
redeployment distracted
from the final clean-up of Isis
fighters in their remaining
pockets in Iraq.
The Kurdish-led Syrian
Democratic Forces (SDF),
America’s main allies against
Isis, drew fighters away from
the Euphrates valley this year
when Turkey attacked
Kurdish forces in Afrin.
“When the attack on Afrin
started, Isis started attacking
more — so this offensive is
making Isis stronger,” said
Redur Khalil of the SDF.
After the Kurds withdrew
their troops, US forces
announced a “pause” in their
operations in the eastern
Syrian desert.
“Isis has tried to come back
in places we’ve liberated,
including in Deir Ezzor,” said
Khalil. “If the Americans
leave, it will make it more
likely for Isis to come back.”
Though Isis is unlikely to
regain its territory and power,
the legacy of sectarianism
and hate remains — and the
terrorist group does not see
itself as defeated.
“The way Isis thinks about
itself and its history is that its
existence is part of a
continuum started in the
wake of the Iraq War and
even before,” said Hassan
Hassan, senior fellow at the
Tahrir Institute for Middle
East Policy in Washington,
and co-author of Isis: Inside
the Army of Terror. “It
reached this point in 2014
and continues today as part
of one story with ebbs and
flows . . . there’s even signs of
recovery in parts of Iraq
and Syria, parts that are
supposed to have been
If governments did not
address the root grievances
that enabled Isis to rise,
Hassan said, its ideology
would continue to enthral.
“ It isn’t dead,” said
Hassan. “This is the end of
one phase of Isis. Next state
it’s a different challenge. It is
a terrorist group that still has
appeal, and that appeal will
ensure that Isis will continue
to exist.”
Additional reporting:
Ahmed al-Hamsi
Area where
Isis is active
River Euphrates
100 miles
Austria in uproar after right-wing police commander orders raids
Andrew Byrne
Wolfgang Preiszler’s police
unit is the scourge of thugs
and drug dealers. It hunts the
violent criminals who work
Vienna’s seedier districts.
Preiszler is also a leading
member of the right-wing
Freedom Party (FPO), which
controls the interior ministry
in Austria’s new coalition
So when Preiszler’s tough
street-crime unit raided the
offices of BVT, Austria’s
domestic intelligence agency,
and the homes of its staff,
seizing computer hard drives,
there was political uproar.
Vienna’s cafes are awash
with talk that the FPO is
trying to capture key parts of
the intelligence service,
weaken official scrutiny of
right-wing groups and carry
out a purge of troublesome
Sebastian Kurz, 31, the
young chancellor, faces a
political scandal only three
months after he came to
power. The president has
demanded an explanation,
and the opposition has called
a special session of
parliament this week.
At the heart of the affair is a
veteran policeman, Peter
Gridling, who in his 10 years
as director of the BVT has
been a thorn in the side of
far-right extremists.
Soon after the Kurz
government took office in
December, a dormant file
of old and unproven
allegations against Gridling
and other intelligence
officials — about the
mishandling of sensitive
information — was dusted off
by the FPO in the interior
ministry and reactivated.
Normally, any raid in an
internal government
investigation would be
carried out by a special anticorruption unit. Yet on
February 28, a “Rambo
troop” of heavily armed
officers led by their FPO
card-carrying boss, was
dispatched to search the BVT
offices and the homes of
Gridling and other officials.
Austria’s head of state,
Alexander Van der Bellen,
who as the Green Party
candidate narrowly saw off
an FPO bid for the presidency
15 months ago, called the
raids “extremely unusual and
The furore centres on
whether any official BVT
documents and computer
files were removed. The
interior ministry dismissed
that as “fake news”.
It said the raids were
approved by prosecutors and
carried out legally. Police did
not search for files on rightwing extremists, it added. But
experts monitoring these
groups believe their email
records were taken.
So what is on the hard
drives that were taken? The
ministry will not say.
Last week the justice
ministry — run by Kurz’s
People’s Party — weighed in
on the side of the interior
ministry. Only private files
had been taken, it said.
But critics pointed out that
the purpose of raids was to
see whether officials had
copied official information
into private files, so BVT
secrets could well be among
the material taken.
Gridling has been
suspended from his job, and
the political establishment is
divided. “If they have really
taken material on right-wing
groups, then they have made
a huge mistake,” said Erhard
Busek, a former vicechancellor and People’s Party
Lothar Höbelt, a historian
with ties to the Freedom
Party, retorted that the
investigation was nothing
more than “bureaucratic
The Sunday Times March 18, 2018
Gina’ faces
battle to
head CIA
Claims of being up to her
eyeballs in torture may
be overblown, but just
what did Trump’s pick as
the new intelligence chief
do in the war on terror?
Toby Harnden
When the American spy Gina Haspel was
presented to the Queen at Buckingham
Palace, she introduced herself using her
Orwellian diplomatic cover title of “minister-counsellor for co-ordination affairs”
at the US embassy in London.
With a twinkle in her eye, according to
an American who was present, Her Majesty replied: “Really? That’s funny. I
thought you were the CIA station chief.”
At the time, in 2011, the name of the
low-key head of station was hidden from
the public on both sides of the Atlantic.
Legal documents referred to her as “Gina
Doe”. That all changed last week when
Donald Trump picked her to become
director of the CIA.
Suddenly, she was “Bloody Gina”, a
brutal operative who revelled in the
waterboarding of terrorist suspects at a
secret “black site” prison in Thailand
codenamed Cat’s Eye. The American
Civil Liberties Union said she was “up to
her eyeballs in torture”.
By this weekend, however, the Bloody
Gina claim was unravelling after her most
prominent accusers apologised for a case
of mistaken identity.
But what did Haspel, 61, really do in
America’s “war on terror”? And who is
this slight, nondescript woman who has
Haspel: ‘she’s
had to be very
tough to survive
in the CIA’
been propelled from obscurity into the
front line of Washington’s febrile political
Haspel faces a bruising Senate confirmation process in which she will be
grilled by Democrats, desperate to
undermine Trump, and even some
Republicans alarmed at the prospect of
“enhanced interrogation techniques”
being used again. If Haspel prevails, she
will be the first woman to lead the CIA in
its 70-year history and the first clandestine operative to rise all the way through
the ranks since William Colby, who was
director from 1973 to 1976.
Haspel has spent her career in the
shadows. When she met the Queen, she
was nearing the end of a two-year tour as
the CIA’s top representative in Britain,
liaising with MI6 on counter-terrorism
matters. She returned for a second stint
in 2014, apparently close to retirement.
“That was supposed to be her swansong,” a former CIA officer said. But last
year Trump made her the CIA’s No 2, her
first overt role.
Even the most basic facts about
Haspel’s life are hard to establish. She
was born Gina Cherie Walker in Kentucky
in 1956. At 20, she married Jeff Haspel, an
army officer, but they were divorced by
the time she joined the CIA in 1985 as a
reports officer, specialising in Russia. By
1988, she was listed as head of “administration (acting)” at the US embassy in
Addis Ababa.
Her subsequent postings remain
classified but she was based in Ankara in
2003 and was CIA station chief in New
York before she returned to London.
While working at CIA headquarters in
Langley, outside Washington, she lived in
the suburbs of northern Virginia.
More recently, she has lived in a chic
1930s art deco apartment building near
the Cleveland Park area of the capital.
Her only recorded brush with the law
was for a minor traffic offence in North
Carolina in 2007. Daniel Hoffman, a
former senior CIA officer who worked
with Haspel, praised her as “the consummate professional”. She had remained
single and had no children, he added.
“Her private life was private and her life
was all about work. She had a real, genuine interest in the people who worked for
her and cared about them a lot.”
Michael Sulick, a former CIA deputy
director, said: “Gina is unburdened by
ego and self-promotion. That humility
is a good thing in any director. She’s
quiet, collegial.”
But a former intelligence official who
worked with Haspel, said her steeliness
should not be doubted. “She’s as hard as
nails. The CIA chews up women and spits
them out so she’s had to be very tough to
survive. She’s unassuming when you first
see her — she looks like an elementary
school teacher — but when she starts talking she has a powerful presence.”
General Michael Hayden, a former CIA
director, said: “Gina is honest, measured,
totally dedicated. She is absolutely confident, always calm, never dramatic.”
In what appeared to be part of a coordinated push to ensure she is
confirmed by the Senate, Haspel has also
been praised by Leon Panetta, John
Brennan and Michael Morell, who all led
the CIA under Barack Obama.
There is, however, a fierce campaign to
block her. Senator Rand Paul has
branded her “the head cheerleader for
waterboarding” and his Republican
colleague John McCain, who was tortured in Vietnam, has bemoaned her
involvement in “one of the darkest
chapters in American history”.
Paul’s jibe, however, was based in part
on erroneous claims that Haspel had
overseen and gloried in the waterboarding 83 times of Abu Zubaydah, a suspected al-Qaeda leader, in 2002. Several
US media outlets were forced to issue
corrections, conceding that Haspel took
over the Thailand base after the waterboarding of Abu Zubaydah.
Abd al Rahim al-Nashiri, who was suspected of leading al-Qaeda’s attack on the
USS Cole in 2000, was waterboarded
three times under her authorisation but
those interrogations were less cruel.
Haspel’s defenders argue that she was
a middle-ranking officer who carried out
instructions to use techniques that the US
justice department at the time had ruled
were legal and which had been described
to members of Congress.
She has also been accused of drafting a
2005 order to destroy 92 videotapes of
waterboardings kept in a vault at the CIA
station in Bangkok. Her supporters say
the destruction was not to hide what happened but to protect the identities of CIA
officers who could have been murdered
in reprisal if the footage had leaked.
Hayden says the CIA will not use waterboarding again. “Gina will never order
it,” he said. “Not because she’s repudiating or saying it didn’t work; she’s saying
we were betrayed.
hands [from George W Bush to Obama],
CIA officers who did what they were told
to do were made legally, and certainly
publicly, vulnerable. No director is ever
going to direct officers to do that again,
least of all for this president who you’d
have no expectation would cover back.”
Bob Baer, a former CIA officer for
whom Haspel worked, said: “You can’t
really excuse the torture because that
was just idiotic. But that stuff was just
parachuted on her. The whole war on
terror was messy. Some war crime was
connected to almost everything and
Some see Haspel as a potentially crucial restraint on an impulsive president.
“She’s a real person, not a bureaucrat
that can be moulded,” Baer said. “Can she
break through to Trump? No. Come on,
who can do that? Is she going to turn
around the United States and make us see
reason? I don’t know but she’s got the
best chance.”
Toby Harnden
Stormy Daniels, a porn star who says she had an affair with Donald Trump, is fighting an agreement that stops her discussing the issue
Crowdfunding site rallies behind porn star as
Trump’s lawyers seek $20m in damages
Josh Glancy
New York
The CrowdJustice website is
usually a beacon of
high-minded legal activism.
It typically plays host to
environmental activists or
immigrants needing funds to
fight deportation. But now it
has rocketed to prominence
thanks to an unexpected
patron: a porn star.
Since Stephanie Clifford,
aka Stormy Daniels, started
using the site to raise funds
for her legal battle with
President Donald Trump, it
has become the focal point of
a struggle that may have
serious ramifications.
Daniels is trying to break a
“hush” agreement signed in
2016, during the presidential
campaign, that stops her
telling the full story of her
alleged affair with Trump and
efforts to gag her.
The scale of her task was
made clear on Friday when
Trump weighed in on the
scandal for the first time.
Court papers filed by his
lawyers claimed Daniels had
violated a confidentiality
agreement at least 20 times,
which would expose her to
on intelligence staff
infighting”. If the party
wanted to purge the ministry
of troublesome officials, it
would do it in a gradual
and tactical way, he argued,
not with a clumsy attack in
the government’s early
The affair leaves Kurz
under criticism for giving the
FPO not just the interior
ministry but also defence and
foreign affairs. The party’s
leader, Heinz-Christian
Strache, named the interior
ministry as its price for
joining the government.
As similar parties in France
and Italy have attempted to
sweep mainstream parties
from power, and the AfD has
risen in Germany, the FPO’s
return to the halls of
government in Austria is
being watched nervously for
signs of how the far-right use
power when they gain it.
Austria was ostracised by
EU partners the last time the
FPO entered government in
He really
had to go:
sacked on
the loo
2000, and Strache has been
trying to soften its image. He
publicly renounced antisemitism and said Austria
needed to acknowledge the
crimes of its Nazi past. But
this call was rejected by
dozens of angry supporters in
posts on his Facebook page
last week.
“The FPO is more extreme
now than it was in the early
2000s,” argued Bernhard
Weidinger, an expert on rightwing extremists.
damages of $20m (£14m) or
That seems to have
boosted the donations to her
on CrowdJustice. She raised
$150,000 in 36 hours, one of
the fastest fundraisings in the
site’s history, rising to more
than $200,000 after a flood
of almost 7,000 donations.
“It definitely didn’t occur
to me that I’d be so thrilled to
have an endorsement by a
porn star,” said Julia Salasky,
the British lawyer who
founded CrowdJustice.
“There’s something
extraordinary about people
coming together to back her
against the most powerful
man in the world.”
The CrowdJustice
campaign is one arm of a PR
blitz being orchestrated by
Daniels’s lawyer, Michael
Daniels has recorded an
interview with the television
news show 60 Minutes, due
to be broadcast next Sunday,
in which Avenatti says she
will reveal “very specific
details” about the 2006 affair.
Trump’s lawyers are said to
be considering legal action to
stop the show going out.
Avenatti claimed last week
that Daniels had been
physically threatened since
her story became public. He
also said six other women
have approached him with
similar stories.
Daniels has sued Trump
over the 2016 non-disclosure
agreement, claiming it is null
and void because he did not
sign it. The case is due to be
heard in July.
She has also offered to
return the $130,000 that
Trump’s personal lawyer,
Michael Cohen, paid her as
part of the agreement. The
money came from a shell
company set up by him.
Ethics lawyers have raised
the possibility that this may
have amounted to an illegal
campaign contribution.
Whether or not Cohen was
reimbursed by Trump and
how that money was paid to
him remains undisclosed —
for now. But the civil lawsuit
may give Avenatti and
Daniels the right to depose
Trump in the process of
Daniels claims to have
pictures and messages from
the affair that she would like
to release. But the possibility
of proving financial
misconduct and a cover-up
by the Trump campaign
could damage him more.
Her fundraising has
attracted support from
such celebrities as the
comedian Jimmy Kimmel,
who told his audience on
Thursday: “You can give
money to a porn
star — just like
the president
of the United
Salasky: Briton who
founded CrowdJustice
Austria’s prime
Sebastian Kurz,
first from right, is
in coalition with
Strache of the
Freedom Party,
second from left
The savage firing of one of
Donald Trump’s bêtes noires
at the FBI was eclipsed
yesterday by accounts of how
his secretary of state was
ignominiously sacked while
on the lavatory with an attack
of diarrhoea.
Andrew McCabe, former
FBI deputy director, was
dismissed less than two days
ahead of his planned
retirement. But while his
demise shocked fellow
officials, details of the exit of
Rex Tillerson, Trump’s
secretary of state, seemed the
ultimate indignity.
The account of how
Tillerson learnt he had been
sacked was provided in an
off-the-record briefing by the
White House chief of staff,
John Kelly, according to
It had previously been
reported that Tillerson
learned of the move via
Twitter. Kelly intimated that
it had been even worse.
America’s top diplomat was
suffering from a stomach bug
during a tour of Africa and
was using a lavatory when
Kelly broke the news to him.
The former chief executive
of Exxon Mobil had
previously been treated
contemptuously by Trump,
who told him during a
meeting in China to “eat the
salad, Rex” so their hosts
would not be offended by the
president’s own
unwillingness to do so.
When Tillerson spoke after
his firing he appeared close to
tears, an industrial titan cut
down to size by an American
president who appears to put
little stock in loyalty.
The leaking of the briefing
could damage Kelly, a former
Marine Corps general with
whom Trump is dissatisfied.
He also reportedly joked
about the former cocaine
habit of the president’s
incoming chief economic
adviser, Larry Kudlow.
McCabe’s brutal removal,
which may cost him his
pension, came after a series
of harsh jabs by Trump via
Twitter. The president
claimed the veteran FBI man,
whose wife is a prominent
Democrat, had a partisan bias
against him.
Trump began attacking
him by name on Twitter last
summer and exhorted Jeff
Sessions, the attorneygeneral, to get rid of him. At
issue was McCabe’s role
supervising FBI investigations
into how Hillary Clinton,
Trump’s opponent in the
2016 election, handled
government emails while she
was secretary of state from
2009 to 2013.
Trump blamed McCabe for
the decision not to charge
Clinton with a crime and
urged Sessions to fire him —
which Sessions did on Friday
night after justice department
officials concluded he had
made misleading statements
in an internal investigation.
Republicans also accused
McCabe of an ethical conflict
because McCabe’s wife had
accepted $700,000 from a
close Clinton ally when she
unsuccessfully ran for public
office in Virginia.
That made McCabe a
lightning rod in the bitter
partisan battles over special
counsel Robert Mueller’s
Russia investigation and the
politically charged inquiries
into Clinton and her family
McCabe’s supporters claim
he is a victim of a vindictive
president who blames career
officials at the justice
department and FBI for
claims his campaign had
colluded with Russia.
Tens of thousands China names
flee Ghouta attack vice-president
Syrian regime airstrikes
killed 37 civilians in the
rebel-held region of Eastern
Ghouta yesterday, while
some 20,000 people
managed to flee, according
to the Syrian Observatory for
Human Rights.
China’s parliament endorsed
its former anti-corruption
chief as vice-president
yesterday. Wang Qishan, 69,
a close ally of President Xi
Jinping, left the politburo
due to his age but is likely to
wield extensive power.
The Sunday Times March 18, 2018
Mr Corbyn fails the test
of national leadership
nybody watching Theresa
May’s response to the outrage
of the use of Russian nerve
agents in the city of Salisbury
must surely conclude that this,
if not her finest hour, may be a
defining period of her premiership. While on Brexit the prime
minister has shown an indecisiveness
forced on her by deep divisions in the
Tory party and in cabinet, on Russia she
has been clear and resolute.
On Monday Mrs May told the Commons that the former Russian spy Sergei
Skripal and his daughter Yulia, as well as a
British policeman, Nick Bailey, had been
poisoned with novichok, a military-grade
nerve agent developed by Russia. While
leaving open the possibility that its government could have allowed the agent to
get into the hands of others, she allowed
Mr Putin time to respond.
Moscow reacted to the first use of a
chemical agent in Europe since the Second World War with what the prime minister described as “sarcasm, contempt
and defiance”. Her response — expelling
23 Russian diplomats identified as
undeclared intelligence officers, pushing
through a version of America’s Magnitsky
Act and freezing some Russian assets, and
suspending high-level bilateral contacts
between Britain and Russia — was proportionate and right. She has had to carry an
inexperienced defence secretary and she
even, on a visit to Salisbury, showed a popular touch that had been lacking during
last summer’s general election campaign.
If the prime minister has done well,
the leader of the opposition plainly has
not. Jeremy Corbyn has lived down to
expectations. Britain’s most powerful
Nato allies have come out strongly in
support of the government and its
response. Mr Corbyn, however, has not,
providing succour to Moscow. As so
often, his natural instincts are to side
with Britain’s enemies.
Instead of condemning Russia, as
many of his MPs and shadow cabinet
members have been prepared to do, Mr
Corbyn responded to the prime minister
by choosing to blame cuts in the diplomatic service. Quite what a few more
embassy staff might have done to prevent
a deadly nerve agent attack on British soil
is unclear, but he has form. His response
to last year’s terrorist attacks in London
and Manchester was to blame police cuts.
Mr Corbyn’s reaction goes beyond
mere prevarication. It includes the usual
nonsense: if the government got it so
badly wrong about weapons of mass
destruction in Iraq in 2003, how do we
know it has now got it right? Answer:
novichok has been used in Salisbury,
leaving Mr Skripal and his daughter in
comas and injuring a policeman who is
now thankfully reported to be recovering.
We should not be surprised. Mr Corbyn
surrounds himself with like minds. His
director of strategy and communications,
Seumas Milne, once appeared on a platform with Vladimir Putin and wrote that
“western aggression and lawless killing is
on another scale entirely from anything
Russia appears to have contemplated”.
Andrew Murray, Mr Corbyn’s political
adviser, is a former chairman of the Stop
the War coalition that blamed the West for
the Ukraine crisis and refused to condemn Russia’s actions in Syria: he left the
Communist Party just over a year ago.
Andrew Fisher, Mr Corbyn’s policy chief,
used his position to remove the phrase
“Russian aggression” from a policy brief.
At the next election will voters recall
that Mr Corbyn and the pro-Moscow cabal
he surrounds himself with showed scant
regard for Britain’s national interest and
rehearsed lines associated with apologists
for Mr Putin and the Russian government?
Will they mind that all over the country
moderate Labour figures are being
purged by the left? We must hope so.
Otherwise this country is in deep trouble.
Britain was a soft touch
for this terrorist
More than a century ago, in his book The
Man Who Was Thursday, GK Chesterton
introduced us to the idea of the terrorist
hiding in plain sight. “The man who
throws a bomb is an artist,” says one of the
main characters, who insists he is serious
about his anarchism. But he is met with
disbelief because that kind of thing “has to
be done anonymously”.
Ahmed Hassan, a teenage Iraqi asylum
seeker, who in 2015 arrived in Britain
illegally on a lorry going through the
Channel tunnel, could hardly have done
more to show he was serious about his
terrorism. The 18-year-old was found
guilty on Friday of attempted murder
after planting a bomb on an Underground
train that injured 51 people and could
have killed many more at Parsons Green,
west London. He had told Home Office
officials that he had been “trained to kill”
by Isis, also known as Islamic State.
When it was discovered by staff at his
sixth-form college that he seemed to be
raising funds for Isis, he said it was his
duty to hate Britain. He was referred to
the government’s Prevent programme
and its Channel project, which has the aim
of mentoring young people and steering
them away from radicalisation. It failed.
When he received a prize of an Amazon
voucher for his studies at the college, he
bought bomb-making equipment.
When he was placed with Ron and
Penny Jones, foster parents appointed
MBEs for their work, they were not told
about his claims of Isis links or fears that
he was being radicalised. But his behaviour did lead them to think he was suffering from a “mental deterioration”. They
are now said to have stopped fostering.
There are so many things wrong with
the Hassan case that it goes beyond what
Ben Wallace, the security minister, has
described as “some lessons to be learnt”.
The collective failure of the security
services, Surrey county council and other
bodies could easily have resulted in a
devastating loss of life. Hassan’s “Mother
of Satan” bomb — packed with knives,
nuts and bolts and which failed to explode
fully — sent a ball of flame through a Tube
carriage. Many of those who were injured
at the time are still affected. More questions need to be asked about Prevent, supposedly a deradicalisation programme.
Above all, why was Hassan here at all?
At a time when this country has problems
enough neutralising the danger from
returning British Isis fighters, providing
asylum to an Iraqi who claimed he had
been trained to kill by Isis seems perverse
in the extreme. His story, that he had been
kidnapped and trained against his will,
was hokum. He should have been put on
the next plane out of Britain. Where terrorists are concerned we can never afford
to be a soft touch. This time we were.
Jammy dodger
For more than 60 years the Queen has
deftly avoided controversy of any kind.
We might guess what Her Majesty thinks,
but we can never be quite sure. Yet now it
seems she has taken sides in one of the
most bitterly contested arguments of the
modern age. A former royal chef has
revealed that when the Queen eats
scones, she prefers the cream to be on top
of the jam.
In this she is siding with Cornwall in
that county’s long-running dispute with
Devon, its neighbour, where the jam goes
on top of the cream. (It is no coincidence,
Devonians might remark, that her son is
the Duke of Cornwall.)
Is there any food more divisive than
the scone? If the Queen took sides on the
great pronunciation debate — rhyming
scone with either “gone” or “bone” — we
could find ourselves in the midst of a
constitutional crisis. Let’s just hope we
never discover that Her Majesty is partial
to a Russian salad.
Dominic Lawson
Russia throws out lies
as freely as nerve agent
RT, the Kremlin mouthpiece, is spreading deceit unchallenged even by ministers
ometimes I wonder if the producers
of BBC1’s Question Time conceive the
political panel show as an emetic to
bring up whatever viewers might
have consumed over dinner
beforehand. If that is their little joke,
it can seldom have been so crudely
delivered as by last week’s episode, in
which a host of the Russian state’s Englishlanguage broadcaster, RT, had been invited to
join the panel.
Did the BBC actually think this person, a
Cambridge-born journalist by the name of
Afshin Rattansi, had valuable insights to offer
into the unleashing in Salisbury of a Russian
nerve agent, novichok, which has left Sergei
and Yulia Skripal close to death and a Wiltshire
CID officer in a dangerous condition?
In fact — as the BBC knew — the man from RT
would be concerned only to discredit the
charges against the government that pays his
salary. And so, as soon as David Dimbleby
invited his opinion, Rattansi referred to the
Skripals as “two spies” and went on to say that
“Britain vetoed in the past few hours a UN
Security Council resolution asking for an
investigation” into the Salisbury attack —
which, he said ominously, was “interesting”.
There has been no such UN Security Council
resolution against which the UK could use its
“veto”. And, while it is true that Sergei Skripal
was a Russian-turned-British spy, it was malign
invention to assert that his daughter, Yulia, was
also a double agent. But a useful invention from
Russia’s point of view, as it might reduce the
sympathy felt for a young woman who must be
suffering unimaginable pain and terror, if she is
conscious at all.
Remarkably, none of the other panellists —
whose number included the Conservative
cabinet minister Chris Grayling and Labour’s
shadow Brexit secretary, Sir Keir Starmer —
pointed out that Yulia Skripal was no “spy”.
And none of them pointed out that we hadn’t
vetoed a UN Security Council resolution since
1989, let alone in “the past few hours”.
That the now almost obligatory showbiz star
on the panel didn’t have a clue comes as no
surprise. But it is astounding — and not in a
good way — that two supposed British political
heavyweights were unable to rebut obvious
inventions from a man they should have been
primed to demolish.
Their inability vindicates the Kremlin’s
media strategy in such circumstances, which is
to put out so many different lies that no one is
quite sure which to disbelieve and why.
Russian state media has now put out more than
a dozen different explanations for the Salisbury
nerve agent attack (mostly predicated on the
idea that Theresa May ordered it to foment
“Russophobia” as a distraction from Brexit).
It’s similar to what followed the slaughter in
2014 — by means of a Russian Army Buk antiaircraft missile system — of hundreds of Kuala
Lumpur-bound mainly Dutch holidaymakers in
a passenger jet flying over Ukraine. Among
many exculpatory lies encouraged by the
Kremlin was one claiming that all the bodies
that had fallen from the disintegrating flight
MH17 were not in fact victims of pro-Russian
forces (who had already shot down Ukrainian
military transport planes similarly flying from
west to east) but bloodless corpses collected
for this nefarious anti-Russian propaganda
purpose from the Malaysian Airlines flight 370
that had disappeared four months earlier.
Pressed about such grotesque fabrications,
the Kremlin’s British admirers almost
invariably resort to what-aboutery. Specifically:
what about Tony Blair’s lies over Iraqi weapons
of mass destruction? On Question Time the RT
charmer inevitably cited this as a reason for the
audience to disbelieve the current British
government’s identifying Moscow’s
responsibility for the use of a uniquely Russian
military-grade nerve agent against a man Putin
had previously denounced as one of a number
of “traitors” who would “kick the bucket”.
In short: Britain “lied” about Iraq’s chemical
weapons and this is a repeat. A similar line was
spun by Jeremy Corbyn’s closest adviser,
Seumas Milne — a former apologist for Stalin
who remains firmly of the opinion that Moscow
is an essential counterforce to the wicked
regime in Washington.
Milne told Westminster lobby
correspondents last week that May’s
intelligence-led claims were “problematic”
given what happened over Iraq. For similar
reasons Corbyn himself insisted in an article
Grayling and Starmer
were unable to rebut
obvious inventions
for Friday’s Guardian that the Salisbury nerve
agent attack might be nothing to do with the
Russian state, but instead the work of “Russian
mafia-like groups”. Trust Corbyn to blame the
private sector for everything.
Even if it were the case that Blair lied about
Iraq’s chemical weapons to start a war, it
doesn’t remotely follow that therefore May is
lying about Russia’s. And unlike Saddam
Hussein’s alleged WMD, the Russian nerve
agent has actually been unleashed in the UK —
nor is May proposing to invade Russia. But Blair
did believe Saddam had WMD. So did almost
everyone else, including other governments.
Those who opposed the invasion did so
because they thought Saddam’s possession of
these weapons and his obstruction of UN
inspectors did not justify military action.
Even in his (magnificent) speech of
resignation over this issue, the late Robin Cook
conceded that Iraq “probably still has
biological toxins and battlefield chemical
munitions”. Menzies Campbell, leading the
Liberal Democrat assault against Blair in the
crucial Commons debate, declared: “We can
also agree that he most certainly has chemical
and biological weapons.” And days before the
war, the late biological warfare expert
Dr David Kelly — now regarded as a heroic
dissident — wrote an article headlined “Only
regime change will avert the threat,” arguing
that “some of the chemical and biological
weapons deployed in 1991 [by Saddam] are still
available, albeit on a reduced scale. Aerial
bombs and rockets are readily available to be
filled with sarin, VX and mustard or botulinum
toxin . . . More sophisticated weaponry . . . may
be limited in numbers, but would be far more
devastating if used.”
This, it turned out, was wrong. The problem
was not just that the solidity of this flaky
intelligence was greatly exaggerated by Blair.
Saddam himself needed it to be believed he
had such weapons, for fear of what his deadly
enemy Iran would do if it knew he didn’t.
In other words, Britain’s catastrophic
decision to back the war in Iraq was not based
on pure invention. Unlike, for example, what
an RT man spews out, uncorrected, on Britain’s
main political panel show. When I watch this
stuff I am reminded of what Mary McCarthy
said about Lillian Hellman, an American
playwright who had propagated the Kremlin
line during the Moscow show trials of the
1930s: “Every word she writes is a lie, including
‘and’ and ‘the’.”
Sarah Baxter
Charles the Petulant may
still earn our forgiveness
The prince’s whining has won him no fans but how he handles the crown will define him
he official shorthand for the Prince of
Wales is PoW. Is he royal prisoner or
prince? I’m told by those in the know
that Charles appreciates the irony of
those initials, for nobody is more
conscious of his gilded cage than the
heir to the throne. The prince once
complained to the television
presenter Selina Scott, the Diana lookalike
with whom he had a mild flirtation, that he
envied her for not having her life “mapped out
. . . as far as you can see”. There were times, he
said, when he felt “totally trapped” by his
His life-in-waiting is still a ludicrously
privileged one. Charles is by far the richest
royal after the Queen, with the Duchy of
Cornwall bringing him a handsome £22.5m a
year. Yet the pampered prince is an “Olympian
whinger”, a friend told Tom Bower, the author
of a new unauthorised biography of Charles. In
an opening salvo in the Daily Mail yesterday,
Bower portrays the “rebel prince” as an epic
sponger, travelling with a truckload of his own
furniture, including his orthopaedic bed and
personal loo seat, to stay gratis at the great
country estates of his aristocratic friends.
When Elizabeth I went on royal
“progresses” in Tudor times, she practically
bankrupted her wealthy hosts. I don’t feel too
sorry for Debo, the Duchess of Devonshire,
who used to hand over a whole wing of
Chatsworth House to Charles and Camilla, or
for his other late friend the Duke of
Westminster — they could afford it — but he
does sound like the guest from hell: often late,
sometimes not arriving at all, insisting on
bringing his own organic food and pre-mixed
flask of martini and so insulated from real life
that Camilla had to explain to him what cling
film was.
Yet Charles, who will turn 70 in November,
is the one who feels put upon, trapped by his
past as much as his future, always in the
shadow of Diana, dogged by the longevity of
his mother and threatened by the popularity of
his sons. Can his reputation survive yet another
damaging book? Last year a biography of the
Duchess of Cornwall by Penny Junor, which
supporters of Charles had hoped might soften
Camilla “de Vil’s” image as an adulterer, only
reminded us how rotten the prince and the rest
of the royal family were to Diana.
We don’t yet know what else is in Bower’s
biography, although “damning” revelations
about the trial of Paul Burrell, Diana’s butler,
are promised this week. Bizarrely, Burrell had
faced three charges of stealing several hundred
of Diana’s possessions only for the case to
collapse in 2002 after the Queen suddenly
“remembered” — following a conversation with
Charles and the Duke of Edinburgh — that the
butler had told her he had retained some
mementos for safekeeping. As a result, he
never had to testify under oath.
Did the Queen — perish the thought — tell a
whopper? It was certainly a curious incident,
rife with speculation that Burrell had his hands
on a secret recording made by Diana, in which
a footman claimed to have been raped by a gay
member of Charles’s household (along with
other awkward revelations about the prince
himself ). It sounds like an off-the-charts nutty
conspiracy theory, but it wouldn’t be the first
time that jaw-dropping revelations about
goings-on in the royal household, from the
leaked “Squidgygate” and “Tampongate” tapes
to Diana’s affairs and bulimia, have turned out
to be true.
If so, royal flunkies are probably on red alert
to hide the newspapers from Charles as he is
Did the Queen tell
a whopper about
Diana’s butler?
said to have a thin skin for public criticism.
However, one thing he has learnt over decades
of preparation for the crown is that crises have
come and gone, but he has survived them all.
“He always bounces back because of his
position,” a close observer tells me. “It gives
him a huge amount of power and authority.”
As Charles has got older, he has also grown
more relaxed about his role as heir to the
throne. He knows he will never replace the
Queen in the affections of the public, but he
will have a decisive role to play — no matter
how brief — in the history of the monarchy. His
mother’s long reign has enabled her to survive
outbreaks of republicanism, but all bets are off
when Charles becomes king. He now accepts
that his task will be to manage the delicate
transition of the monarchy from one
generation to the next.
If some kings are more memorable than
others, it can have as much to do with the
circumstances as the power of their
personality. It’s the same with prime ministers.
Theresa May is assumed to be a transitional
figure, but Brexit guarantees her a place in the
history books. If Prince William is able to
ascend to the throne smoothly, he can thank
his father for securing the future of the crown.
If not, Charles will have blown it, perhaps by
seeming too entitled or by sending politicians
too many bossy “black spider” letters.
Most of all, though, he will be charged with
channelling our emotions after the death of
the Queen. Will the former PoW be up to the
task of rallying the nation? There will be
10 days of official mourning — during which he
appears to be programmed by aides to shuttle
between public walkabouts and receptions
with VIPs — and about six months of
preparation for the coronation.
Increasingly he is standing in for the Queen,
travelling abroad and taking on her duties. But
no amount of rehearsing can adequately
prepare him for this moment in the spotlight.
My guess is that we will forgive Charles his past
if he can rise to the occasion.
The Sunday Times March 18, 2018
Corbynistas see red
at BBC’s Jezza hat
Labour’s Russia crisis plumbed new
depths yesterday when the BBC was
forced to deny it had retouched a
photograph of Jeremy Corbyn to make
him look more like a communist.
The Labour leader appeared in a
backdrop with Red Square behind him
during a discussion on Newsnight on
Thursday about his stance on the
Salisbury chemical attack.
“A photo was selected which was as
Leninesque as possible,” complained
the Corbyn loyalist Owen Jones.
Why you’d bother to make an old
beardie who wears a Lenin hat all the
time look more Leninist is hard to say.
Paxo goes a ‘clown
Trump’ jibe too far
Sensational news: it seems that even
Jeremy Paxman can be too outspoken.
A plucky Radio 2 producer has banned
him from referring to Donald Trump
as a “marmalade-faced clown”, the
former Newsnight presenter has
Paxo was interviewing the singer
Joan Baez when the phrase somehow
slipped out.
Writing for the Financial Times, he
says: “I was under the impression that
this was the common coin for someone
who thinks that giving guns to teachers
is the answer to shootings in schools.”
Isn’t he a rascal?
Buy prints or signed copies of Morten Morland’s cartoons from our Print Gallery at
“Doctor Who almost
destroyed my career”
The BBC blacklisted me for leaving
the sci-fi series, claims the actor
Christopher Eccleston
“I am at my most positively
Philip “Eeyore” Hammond, the chancellor,
delivering his spring statement
“In faraway capitals they
make decisions for us”
President Andrzej Duda of Poland compares
membership of the EU to occupation
“I tremble at the thought
of a media regulated by
the state”
Pressure for press restrictions makes me fear
for democracy, says the culture secretary,
Matt Hancock
“It’s very confusing being
a modern man”
They are struggling under pressure to be
sensitive and macho at the same time, says
the broadcaster Zoe Ball
Niall Ferguson
Life, the Doniverse and
everything – now I get it
Finally reading Stephen Hawking helped me understand US politics today
I Our Picture of the Doniverse
What do we know about the Doniverse and
how do we know it? Where did the
Doniverse come from and where is it going?
Did the Doniverse have a beginning, and if
so, what happened before then? Recent
breakthroughs in politics, made possible in
part by new technologies, suggest answers to
some of these longstanding questions that
may ultimately provide a single theory that
describes the whole Doniverse.
Today, however, scientists describe the
Doniverse in terms of two basic partial
theories — the general theory of relativity
and bunkum mechanics. The general theory
of relativity describes the force of graft-ity as
it acts on Trump’s relatives. Bunkum
mechanics, on the other hand, deals with
phenomena on extremely small scales such
as the particles known as tweets.
II Spin and Truth
Albert Einstein’s famous equation E=mc²
(where “E” is energy, “m” is mass, and “c” is
the speed of lies) means that nothing may
travel faster than the speed of lies. In other
words, the theory of relativity put an end to
the idea of absolute truth! We must accept
that truth is not completely separate from
and independent of spin, but is combined
with it to form an object called spin-truth.
Spin-truth is not flat, as had been
previously assumed: it is curved, or
“warped”. The fact that spin is curved
means that lies no longer appear to travel in
straight lines. General relativity predicts that
lies should be bent by graft-itational fields.
Another prediction of general relativity is
that truth should appear to run slower near a
massive body. This is because there is a
relation between the energy of lies and their
frequency (that is, the number of waves of lie
per second). The theory of relativity gets rid
of absolute truth. Consider a pair of twins.
Suppose that one twin lives aboard the
International Space Station for a year while
the other stays in America. The second twin
would go nuts faster than the first.
This is known as the twins paradox, but it
is a paradox only if one has the idea of
absolute truth at the back of one’s mind. In
the theory of relativity there is no unique
absolute truth, but instead each individual
has his own personal measure of truth that
depends on where he is and what cable
channel he is watching.
III The Expanding Doniverse
If one looks at the television on a clear,
moonless night, the brightest objects one
sees are likely to be the planets Ivanka, Jared,
Melania and Don Jr. There will also be a very
large number of stars, which are just like our
own Don but much farther from us.
The discovery that the Doniverse is
expanding was one of the great intellectual
revolutions of the 20th century. Every day
other stars get further and further away from
our Don. If we add up the masses of all the
stars that we can see in our galaxy and other
galaxies, the total is less than onehundredth of the amount required to halt
the expansion of the Doniverse. Our galaxy
and other galaxies, however, must contain a
large amount of “dark matter” we cannot see
directly, but which we know must be there.
When we add up all this dark matter, we
still get only about one-tenth of the amount
required to halt the expansion. A former FBI
scientist named Robert Mueller is
investigating this dark matter.
IV The Uncertainty Principle
The German scientist Max Planck suggested
in 1900 that lies could not be emitted at an
arbitrary rate, but only in certain packets he
called tweets. In 1926 another German
scientist, Werner Heisenberg, formulated his
famous uncertainty principle. In order to
predict the future position and veracity of a
president, one has to be able to measure his
present position and veracity accurately. But
the more accurately you try to measure the
position of the president, the less accurately
you can measure his spin, and vice versa.
This approach led Heisenberg, Erwin
Schrödinger, and Paul Dirac in the 1920s to
reformulate politics into a new theory called
bunkum politics, based on the uncertainty
principle. In this theory, presidents no
longer had separate, well-defined positions
and veracities that could be observed.
Instead they had a bunkum state, which was
a combination of position and veracity.
Bunkum politics therefore introduces an
unavoidable element of unpredictability or
randomness into life.
V Elementary Parties and the Forces of
Up to about 30 years ago it was thought that
Republicans and Democrats were
“elementary” parties, but experiments in
which Republicans were collided with other
Republicans or Democrats at high speeds
indicated that they were in fact made up of
The brightest objects
are the planets
Ivanka and Melania
smaller parties. These particles were named
Pacs (political action committees).
VI Blue Holes
A set of events, a region of space time, from
which it is not possible to escape is what we
now call a blue hole. Stars in the galaxy that
come too near the blue hole will be torn
apart. A more technical term for a “blue
hole” is “mid-term election”.
VII Black Holes Ain’t So Black
The event horizon, the boundary of the blue
hole, is like the edge of a shadow — the
shadow of impending doom.
VIII The Origin and Fate of the Doniverse
In the case of the Doniverse, could it be that
we are living in a region that just happens by
chance to be smooth and uniform? No. A
better model is called the chaotic
inflationary model.
IX The Arrow of Time
The second law of trumpodynamics says that
in any closed system disorder (or entropy)
always increases with time. In other words, it
is a form of Murphy’s law: things always tend
to go wrong! At a later time, it is more
probable that the system will be in a
disordered state than in an ordered one.
X Wormholes and Time Travel
Time travel is theoretically possible through
a wormhole, a thin tube of spin-truth that
can connect two nearly flat regions far apart.
The alternative histories hypothesis is that
when time travellers go back to the past,
they enter alternative histories. Thus the
possibility of time travel remains open. But
not back to the creation of the Doniverse on
November 8, 2016. Sorry.
XI The Unification of Physics
In G-string theory, the basic objects are not
parties, which occupy a single point of
space, but things that have a length but no
other dimension, such as an infinitely thin
piece of string. As well as parties and Gstrings there were found to be other objects
called p-branes.
XII Conclusion
If we do discover a grand unified theory, it
should in time be understandable in broad
principle by everyone, not just a few
scientists. Then we shall all, philosophers,
scientists and just ordinary people, be able
to take part in the discussion of the question
of why it is that we and the Doniverse exist.
Niall Ferguson was named broadsheet
columnist of the year at last week’s
British Press Awards
l As Britain’s second female prime
minister tackles an international
crisis, here’s what it used to be like for
women in politics. Sixty years ago this
month Mark Bonham Carter fought
Torrington, Devon, for the Liberals.
His widow, Leslie, recalls: “In those
days all the men stopped in the pub
for lunch, but it wasn’t thought right
for a woman to be seen in an alehouse
— teetotal Liberal voters wouldn’t have
approved.” So she sat in the car — in
the cold — with sandwiches.
It worked, though. He overturned a
9,000 Tory majority.
l The death of Baroness (Brenda)
Dean, former Sogat general secretary,
is a reminder of how print unions
once controlled every detail of the
newspaper business. Full of the
optimism of youth one afternoon in
the 1980s, I asked if I might use a
photocopier on the Times print floor.
“Are you,” asked the sentry who
guarded the machine, “a member of
the Society of Graphical and Allied
Trades?” I had to admit I was not.
“Well then,” he snapped. “You can
f*** off, can’t you?”
l How can we stand up to the
Russians? The Etsy website has the
very thing — a President Vladimir
Putin voodoo doll. At £11.15 it won’t
bust the defence budget, and it can be
operated by one person with the
minimum of training. Pins included.
l Author Andrew Gimson’s new book
about Britain’s prime ministers
recalls that Lord North — best known
for losing the American colonies —
used to avoid confrontation in
parliament by dozing off. One day,
writes Gimson, an opponent
interrupted a virulent attack to
complain: “The noble lord is asleep.”
North, his eyes still closed, replied
lugubriously: “I wish to God I were.”
l The House of Lords last week
considered the importance of outdoor
learning for children, but this doesn’t
always turn out well. At the age of 14,
Lord Agnew was sent out to burn some
straw. And what did he learn? “That
you do not light a fire with the wind
behind you.” Thirteen fire engines
were required to put out the blaze.
The Sunday Times March 18, 2018
Adam Boulton
Now we can all see how closely
your Lenin cap fits, Mr Corbyn
eremy Corbyn may have just lost
the next general election,
whenever it takes place. For him
still to be a contender, the public
would have shake up the
kaleidoscope of British politics
and be willing to send to
Downing Street a leader
committed to overturning almost all the
UK has stood for in the world for at least
75 years.
In his response to the Salisbury
poisonings, Corbyn was entirely true to
himself and the beliefs he has clung to
through four decades in politics.
He made three key interventions on
the crime — two in the Commons, one in
a newspaper column. Each time he
explicitly spurned Theresa May’s
challenge “to condemn the culpability of
the Russian state”. His open-ended
“outrage” at “appalling acts or violence”
was not the same, especially when
accompanied by a weary shrug that:
“Labour is of course no supporter of the
Putin regime.”
Oppositions often support the
government when national security is
threatened, but Corbyn took up the
quibbles of those whom the prime
minister asserted are “highly likely” to
be responsible for “the reckless and
despicable act” behind the threat.
Volleys of disruptive chaff are to be
expected from the Putin regime and are
usually batted away. It matters when
they are adopted by one of the two
available candidates for prime minister.
A fortnight ago there was an attempt
to murder two Russians (one now a UK
citizen) on British soil. Sergei and Yulia
Skripal became critically ill, as did Nick
Bailey, the detective sergeant who went
to their aid. These facts are generally
accepted. To question the prime
minister’s assertion that the weapon was
“Novichok — a military grade nerve
agent developed by Russia” is to
question the integrity not just of the
British government but also of the
intelligence services and the scientists at
Porton Down.
May asked the Russian state to
respond to “the only two plausible
explanations for what happened”: either
the state had taken direct action or the
Russian chemical agent had fallen into
the hands of others. Instead the Russians
blustered. Was Britain following the
procedure laid down by the
Organisation for the Prohibition of
Chemical Weapons? Could Russia have a
sample of the deadly agent? What clear
evidence was there against Russia?
These are the issues Corbyn chose to
highlight, along with complaints about
cuts in the diplomatic service, rather
than criticise Russia. He demonstrated
that he really is the Lenin-capped
champion of anti-western, antiimperialist causes, who sympathises
instinctively with those conventionally
regarded as his country’s enemies.
The long-held beliefs of Corbyn and
two of his closest advisers, Seumas Milne
and Andrew Murray, are a matter of
record. Murray, who recently resigned
from the Communist Party, and Corbyn
are both former chairmen of Stop the
War. This organisation protests routinely
against British and American military
action but refuses to condemn Russia’s
military support for Assad in Syria (or
Assad himself ). It defended the Russian
invasion of Ukraine and the annexation
of Crimea. In 2016 The Sunday Times
uncovered close links between Stop the
War, Corbyn and two setups funded by
the Kremlin, the Anti-Globalisation
Movement of Russia and the Institute of
Globalisation and Social Movements.
Milne, a former Guardian journalist,
appeared on a platform with Putin at
one of the propaganda summits
organised by the Kremlin. In 2015 he
wrote “this anti-Russian incitement is
dangerous folly . . . military
expansionism . . . has overwhelmingly
come from Nato”.
The only inconsistency in Corbyn’s
stance on Salisbury is his belated
endorsement of the expulsion of Russian
He instinctively
sympathises with
those seen as his
country’s enemies
diplomats. Logically he must consider
this premature since he considers the
case against Russia not proven.
His unshakable refusal to condemn
Russia triggered panic in the Labour
Party. Habitual opponents of the leader
signed a Commons motion tabled by
John Woodcock backing the
government. Frontbenchers, including
the crafty lawyers Emily Thornberry and
Sir Keir Starmer and the painfully
principled Nia Griffith, abandoned
Corbyn’s position.
Opinion polls suggest that Corbyn is
seriously out of tune as horrified public
opinion focuses on what looks like a
murderous act of state-sponsored
terrorism worthy of a paperback thriller.
According to a YouGov poll, 73% of
respondents believe Russia to have been
responsible. May’s net approval rating
for her handling of the crisis was plus 30,
Corbyn’s was minus 21. A Sky data poll
found similar results but, broken down
by age, there was some comfort for
Corbyn. Those aged 18-34 backed
Corbyn over May by 51% to 49%,
although 35-54s went for May 69% to 31%
and over-55s by 81% to 19%.
The mistakes made after the 9/11
attacks have shaken public confidence in
military action and intelligence. Corbyn
and his defenders insist he may be right
now because “Jeremy was right on Iraq,
Libya and Afghanistan”. There is no
doubt that this highly disputable
statement resonates with younger voters.
If a link between Russia and Salisbury is
not established convincingly it will be a
boon for Corbyn and his party.
But it may be that a relevant lesson
from history can be found in the 1980s.
Like the attack on the Skripals, the
invasion of the Falkland Islands was a
direct physical assault on British
interests. Corbyn’s mentor, Tony Benn,
opposed the Falklands War. Michael
Foot, then Labour leader — and
predictably the target of a vicious
obituary from Milne as “the folly of the
left and the dead end of Labour” —
supported what he saw as a struggle
against a fascist junta. British voters
were overwhelmingly on Foot’s side,
although it didn’t do him or Labour
much good. Victory in the south Atlantic
and soaring popularity took Margaret
Thatcher’s Conservatives to a stunning
victory in 1983.
Corbyn has no intention of following
Foot. He wants to offer the voters an
absolutely alternative foreign policy.
Like Benn he is not a pacifist. He just
opposes any robust response by his own
side to outside aggression. He refuses to
commit to pressing the button on the
nuclear deterrent if he becomes prime
minister, or even to keeping the
Defining images can encapsulate a
political leader’s fate — Thatcher with
the Falklands, Blair and Cool Britannia,
Kinnock falling over in the surf and
calling out “All right” at a pre-election
rally, Ed Miliband with his bacon
sandwich. A pervasive impression of
who is a winner and who a loser, whom
the voters trust and whom they don’t,
permeates even the large parts of the
electorate who aren’t paying attention.
Corbyn has exposed himself proudly
in all his middle-class, north London,
neo-revolutionary, socialist glory. The
choice is stark. We’ll find out on polling
day whether the voters have bought or
sold him. Either way, I’m pretty sure that
collectively we’ve made up our minds.
Camilla Long is away this week
The Sunday Times,
1 London Bridge Street,
London SE1 9GF
National Gallery has fundraising down to a fine art
Richard Brooks’s article last
week did not tell the whole
story (“National Gallery keeps
£217m quiet”, News).
In spite of direct
government funding for
picture purchase coming to
an end in the 1990s and a
steady reduction in grant-inaid, the National Gallery has
been able to go on acquiring
exceptional paintings for the
collection and to sustain its
range of activities. This is
thanks in part to the support
of the National Gallery Trust
(NGT) and the American
Friends of the National
Gallery, London (AFNGL).
Both the NGT and the
AFNGL are independent
charitable trusts whose
accounts are and always have
been publicly accessible. We
have never kept their
existence or their accounts
“quiet” — indeed, the fact that
these resources have been
built up to support our
activities is something we are
grateful for and proud of.
As a long-term endowment
the NGT makes grants
appropriately and sparingly,
to support painting
acquisitions, research,
restoration and education
initiatives, as well as gallery
refurbishments. The AFNGL,
founded in 1985 with a
remarkable endowment by
Sir Paul Getty, has brought
many benefits to the British
public, principally in terms of
acquisition of pictures for
everyone’s enjoyment,
including masterpieces by
Caravaggio, Poussin, Holbein,
Titian, Raphael and most
recently Bellows and Bellotto.
The National Gallery has
been active and successful in
The AFNGL helped buy Poussin’s The Finding of Moses
Red flag
Your article shows just how
unaccountable public bodies
are, and how our National
Audit Office is not doing its
job. It makes you wonder why
the National Gallery asked the
Treasury for £19m and the
lottery for £4m to buy
Pontormo’s Portrait of a
Young Man in a Red Cap. Lord
knows the papers are full of
examples of where such
funds could be better spent.
Noel Morris
attracting funding of many
types, and these efforts have
been encouraged by
government. This fundraising
success has benefited
London, the UK, our visitors
and the many thousands of
people who participate in our
education programmes.
Prioritise the homeless
After all the whingeing and
cajoling of the taxpayer,
keeping £217m quiet is a
disgrace. This cash should be
spent on the homeless — to
whom it should have been
given in the first place.
Valerie Pitt, London
We are grateful to our
supporters, and also to the
trustees of the NGT and the
AFNGL for their tireless,
expert and unremunerated
stewardship of these
Dr Gabriele Finaldi, director,
the National Gallery, London
Luc Besson, film director
(The Fifth Element), 59
Irene Cara, singer, 59
Alex Jones, TV presenter, 41
Peter Jones, entrepreneur
and Dragons’ Den panellist,
John Kander, theatre
composer (Chicago), 91
FW de Klerk, former
president of South Africa, 82
Queen Latifah, rapper and
actress, 48
David Lloyd, cricket
commentator, 71
Kenny Lynch, singer and
actor, 80
Courtney Pine, jazz
saxophonist, 54
Vanessa Williams, actress
and singer, 55
Weed out garden towns
Lord Rogers is right that
garden towns are not the way
to solve the housing crisis
(“Build the new amid the
old”, Letters, last week). In
north Essex, we are already
seeing exactly what he
foresees for the OxfordCambridge corridor: a
bonanza of land speculation,
a diversion of investment
from existing populations,
and car-dependent new
settlements proposed on
greenfield land at a distance
from urban centres.
Rosie Pearson, Campaign
Against Urban Sprawl in
Essex, Pattiswick, Essex
Alex Jones is 41 today
Charlie’s chance
at life not ‘futile’
One of the hardest things
about life without our son
Charlie is having to confront
the repeated use and misuse
of his name.
Harry Wallop’s article
(“The doctor will weigh up
the cost of your child’s life
now”, News Review, last
week) lumps our son’s case in
with others and brands them
“a sign that the British public
expects a life to be saved, no
matter how ‘futile’”.
It is precisely because
Risk of silencing
stalking victims
I read with dismay the article
by Camilla Long in which the
Italian police forces are
portrayed as “prancing,
shimmying, pompomcarrying, gossip-mongering
idiot hairdressers” (“Oh dear,
Mr and Mrs Firth, Italy is
treatment was not considered
futile by a number of worldleading medical institutions
that we fought to prevent the
removal of Charlie’s life
support. When his condition
had deteriorated beyond the
point at which the proposed
treatment could be effective,
we dropped the case.
There seems to be a
concerted attempt to
discredit those who question
the decisions of hospitals in
cases like ours. We hope they
never have to bury their child
believing that more could
have been done to save them.
Chris Gard, Bedfont, London
Professor, I want
my education
The lecturers’ strikes over
pensions that are taking
place in universities
nationwide are denying
students the education they
are paying for. More
significantly, at least in my
eyes, striking lecturers are
breaking a moral contract
struck between academic and
student: to educate.
Lest we forget, academics
are in a position of
privilege. They already
have their education. Now I
Unspoken deal
Your correspondent Stephen
Spencer Ryde appears
comically unaware of the
contradiction implicit in
claiming that his daughter
attends one of our “top”
universities while
complaining about the
inadequate tuition she is
experiencing (“Elusive
lecturers”, Letters, March 4).
I suspect that the family fell
for one of the most successful
con tricks of modern times:
that membership of the selfselected Russell group of
universities guarantees
superior teaching quality, a
myth exploded by the 2017
teaching quality assessment
results. There is usually an
unspoken deal between
these piles and their
undergraduates, which is that
the “teachers” get on with
their research and their
students bask in the glory of
attending a “top” university.
However, this works only if
both sides keep quiet about it.
Professor Chris Barton
no place to try to keep an
affair secret”, Comment,
last week).
Such grossly offensive
statements should not be
worthy of a response, but I
am forced to express my view
due to the widespread
coverage of this piece in the
Italian newspapers. The tone
of the article might deter
stalking victims from
reporting the harassment
they suffer. This is a risk that,
as the head of a police force, I
must avoid at all costs.
You will agree that we need
to offer total support to the
women who are willing to
report to the police acts of
violence committed against
them, even when committed
by their partners or former
partners. The Polizia di Stato
[state police] have long been
pursuing this goal with a
number of initiatives and
awareness campaigns.
The words of the abovementioned journalist go
beyond the boundaries of
gossip and sensationalism. I
am in no way stigmatising
legitimate criticism of the
Italian police forces, which I
am glad to accept when it
fosters professional growth.
But the tone used in the
article would appear to be
discouraging women from
speaking out.
I hope that you will agree
that these issues are too
delicate to be dealt with
Franco Gabrielli, chief of state
police and director-general of
public security, Rome
would like mine, please.
George Young, first year
undergraduate, Edinburgh
Niall Ferguson’s provocative
column on the possible
success of Donald Trump’s
approach to foreign affairs
(“Trump rules by breaking
the rules on North Korea and
tariffs”) split commenters
down the middle. Richard
Marriott summed up the
pro-Potus side: “Trump is
what he is — a loud-mouthed
inarticulate bigot who might
just get more done than any
number of urbane and
sophisticated Obamas.” John
— The Original spoke for the
antis: “If Trump can’t manage
to do a deal that sticks with a
porn star, how’s he going to
do one with North Korea?”
Three camps, rather than
two, emerged in response to
Rod Liddle’s Culture Wars
quiz. It was either a) spot on —
“Rats! Got me in one,” said
Grumpy Granny 8, whose
answers placed her in the
“grumpy social conservative”
Six labourers from
Tolpuddle sentenced to
transportation to Australia
for swearing a secret oath
as members of an early
form of trade union
Great War poet Wilfred
Owen born
Liberian supertanker Torrey
Canyon runs aground off
Land’s End, spilling
100,000 tons of crude oil
In the world’s biggest art
theft, works worth £350m
are stolen from the Isabella
Stewart Gardner Museum
in Boston, Massachusetts
White South Africans vote
to end apartheid
category; b) a little off —
Angela Tammas accused
Rod of wanting to put
everyone in Liddle boxes; or
c) an outrage. “I am . . .
offended by being called
grumpy,” wrote Alan
Hawkes, grumpily. Mind
you, he then added: “Written
from my safe space in the golf
club.” G&Ts all round.
It was a C-minus for the
education secretary’s plans
(“Damian Hinds warns that
schools must curb
expulsions”). “Schools
cannot be expected to keep
disruptive pupils in class,”
said Nigel Plebeian; and, as
Richard J pointed out: “The
cuts to specialist support and
provision often leave schools
with little choice.” Overall
commenters’ verdict: young
Hinds shows promise — but
he must try harder.
A little more sympathy for
the actor Peter Bowles, who
at 81 was deemed too old for a
courtesy or hire car while his
Porsche was being repaired.
“I’m just amazed he can get
into a Porsche and out again,”
said an admiring Pastaman
(who is 61). “The upper age
limit for hiring a car seems to
be a grey area,” added David,
nabbing the pun that our
story had unforgivably
There was an outbreak of
(near) unanimity in response
to Germaine Greer’s essay in
Home on the house she is
leaving after 30 years
(“Germaine Greer offers
advice for the next owner of
her Essex home”). An
enthusiastic flyingcolours
called it “Fascinating . . .
insightful . . . learned . . .
endearing.” Jill Basten said:
“Sounds like heaven on earth
— and in Essex too.” Residents
of that county can respond at
Weakened defences
Since your excellent editorial
last Sunday (“Mrs May must
show Russia that she is an
Iron Lady too”), we have
had Wednesday’s prime
minister’s questions and
Theresa May’s resolute
statement. However, in light
of the “hollowing out” of
our armed forces, it was
curious that it took 1 hour
and 10 minutes for any MP to
touch on the supposed 2% of
GDP that we allocate to the
Ministry of Defence budget.
It cannot be an efficient use
of resources to have our tripwire of soldiers and airmen
deployed in Estonia if we fail
to muscle-up the military
forces, especially amphibious
and airborne, which would
be required to reinforce them
in the event of conflict.
Alasdair I Macgregor
Mitcham, Surrey
Offensive statues
Baroness Amos, the head of
Soas University of London,
comments: “I don’t think
there’s anything that says
because you put a monument
up . . . it has to stay like that
permanently” (“Vicechancellor backs Rhodes
protest students”, News, last
week). In this country we
debate and admit mistakes,
but resist rewriting history.
Unlike Isis and the Taliban,
we do not destroy statues,
monuments and works of art
that may offend us.
Bernard Kingston
Biddenden, Kent
Posh voices at the BBC
Maybe Steph McGovern has
a point thinking the BBC
considers her “not posh
enough” (News, February
25). I watched a bit of BBC2
the other day. The presenters
of the various programmes
were Ben Fogle, Kate
Humble, Tim Wonnacott,
Clare Balding, Jeremy Vine,
Victoria Coren Mitchell and
Jeremy Paxman. All were
privately educated.
Kenny Weir
Ardrossan, Ayrshire
Don’t trip Theresa
Camilla Long is right that the
question to May about how
she liked to let her hair down
with girlfriends, posed by
ITV’s Julie Etchingham, was
vacuous (Comment, last
week). Who needs to know
how the prime minister
uses her downtime? We do,
though, need to know what is
being done about domestic
abuse, which Mrs May was
anxious to convey. Less of
this sexist rubbish and
stop trying to trip up a
serious woman.
Judith A Daniels
Great Yarmouth
So, let’s teach English
It was refreshing to read of
Gillian Reynolds’s disgust at
the common use of “so” to
start a sentence (“Breakfast is
served”, Culture, last week).
I read that Philip Hammond,
the chancellor, is making
£50m available to help nonnative speakers learn English.
Perhaps, bearing in mind that
many of the interviewees to
whom Reynolds refers are
highly educated, we should
start teaching English to
the English.
DF Pearson, Le Somail, France
Tribute to Rodney
The flying of the Soviet flag at
Stalybridge Labour club had
nothing to do with internal
party disputes (“Daggers glint
as Momentum tries to rip
Labour from unions’ grasp”,
News, last week). It was to
mark the passing of muchrespected local campaigner
Rodney McCord, whose wake
was being held there.
Stephen O’Loughlin
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
In “Tories break May’s vow to
ban Russian donors” (News,
last week) we incorrectly
stated New Century Media
was paid by the Kremlin.
The lord mayor of London
appointed NCM to work in
unpaid promotional activity
with Moscow International
Financial Centre. We
apologise for the error.
Complaints about
inaccuracies in all sections of
The Sunday Times should be
addressed to complaints@ or
Complaints, The Sunday
Times, 1 London Bridge Street,
London SE1 9GF. In addition,
the 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 18, 2018
Russia has often eliminated ‘traitors’ abroad but no leader since the 1960s has shown such
interest in killing. Christopher Andrew, the intelligence services historian, counts the bodies
he main responsibility for the
21st-century revival of the
KGB tradition of trying to
assassinate Russian defectors
belongs to President Vladimir
Putin. He first applied to the
KGB at the age of 14, was asked
to wait until he was older,
joined immediately after
graduation and has been an
intelligence hardliner ever since.
In 1998, at the age of 45, he became
head of the FSB, the post-Soviet successor to the domestic arm of the KGB,
whose multiple responsibilities nowadays include poisonings and assassinations on foreign soil. Putin is the only current world leader, and only the second
leader in Russian history, to be a former
intelligence chief.
He made public his personal loathing
for defectors after being humiliated by
the arrest in the US in 2010 of 10 “illegal”
Soviet intelligence personnel, most of
whom had successfully posed for some
years as American citizens — in one case
deceiving even their own children.
Putin blamed this intelligence disaster
on “traitors”. “Traitors,” he said menacingly, “always end in a bad way.” Though
Putin did not mention him by name, the
traitor at the top of his list in 2010 was
Colonel Alexander Poteyev, deputy head
of SVR (Russian foreign intelligence) illegal operations, who was believed to have
betrayed the 10 illegals to the Americans.
Shortly before their arrest, Poteyev
defected to the US. “We know who he is
and where he is,” a Kremlin official told
Kommersant newspaper at the time. “A
Mercader has already been sent after
him.” The reference to Ramon Mercader,
the most famous assassin in Soviet history, shows that the Kremlin sees its own
assassination plots in the context of a
KGB tradition that includes the killing of
Leon Trotsky in Mexico in 1940. Mercader had become the lover of the American Trotskyist Sylvia Ageloff, who had
access to Trotsky’s villa.
As Trotsky sat reading at his study
desk, Mercader took an icepick from his
pocket and brought it down with all the
force he could muster on the back of Trotsky’s skull. Trotsky died in hospital next
day. When Mercader, after 20 years in a
Mexican prison, returned to Moscow in
1960, he was personally welcomed by
Stalin’s successor, Nikita Khrushchev,
and made Hero of the Soviet Union.
Liquidation of “enemies of the people”
abroad remained part of KGB foreign
If, as a Kremlin official claimed in 2010,
another Mercader was sent to track down
Poteyev, he failed. Poteyev is believed to
have died two years ago in America. With
his death, Sergei Skripal, a former military intelligence (GRU) officer jailed in
Russia for spying for Britain and one of
four Russians exchanged for the illegals
arrested in 2010, moved up the FSB rank
order of traitorous defectors.
Like Trotsky’s family, Yulia Skripal was
regarded as fair game by those who targeted her father.
Putin takes a greater interest in “targeted killings” abroad than any Russian
leader since Khrushchev. During the
Khrushchev era, the chief targets of KGB
assassination operations were the leaders in exile of Ukrainian independence
movements. The operations, however,
had a mixed record of success.
In 1954 a highly trained KGB assassin,
Nikolai Khokhlov, knocked on the door in
Frankfurt of the Ukrainian Social Democratic leader, Georgi Okolovich, and
announced: “The central committee of
the Communist Party of the Soviet Union
has ordered your assassination.” Khokhlov then informed the startled Okolovich
that he had decided not to murder him.
Instead, he defected to the CIA and
gave an extraordinary press conference
at which he displayed the murder
weapon: an electrically operated gun
concealed inside a cigarette packet that
fired cyanide-tipped bullets.
Despite the humiliation for the KGB of
Khokhlov’s defection, its killing of
Ukrainian émigré leaders continued.
There was also an almost successful
attempt to poison Khokhlov with thallium. He later received a formal pardon
from President Boris Yeltsin.
Even more embarrassing to the Soviet
leadership and the KGB than the Khokhlov case was the defection in 1961 of
another KGB assassin, Bogdan Stashinsky, who had been awarded the Order of
the Red Banner for killing two Ukrainian
émigré leaders with a spray gun that fired
poison gas from a crushed cyanide capsule and caused cardiac arrest.
Fearful of attracting more of the worldwide publicity generated by Khokhlov’s
defection and Stashinsky’s trial for murder in 1962, the politburo abandoned
assassination as a normal instrument of
policy outside the Soviet bloc.
Putin is nowadays less concerned by
international condemnation than most of
his Cold War predecessors in the Kremlin. Neither Khrushchev nor his successor, Leonid Brezhnev, would have been
willing to continue foreign assassinations
after the kind of bad publicity received by
Putin after the murder of Alexander Litvinenko in 2006.
Twenty years ago, while working with
the former KGB senior archivist, Vasili
Mitrokhin, who, with help from MI6, had
smuggled a huge archive of top secret
material from KGB files to Britain, I was
struck by the sometimes detailed plans to
assassinate Soviet intelligence personnel
who had defected to the West. In almost
every case, however, the reputational
risks of going ahead were considered
too great.
If Litvinenko had defected during the
Brezhnev era, for example, there would
doubtless have been a contingency plan,
possibly involving the use of poison, to
murder him. But the plan would not have
been approved by the Kremlin.
On two occasions towards the end of
the Brezhnev era, however, the KGB did
go ahead with poison operations, confident that it could cover its tracks. In 1979,
in an operation not so far mentioned in
public discussion of the Skripal case, the
KGB attempted to poison President Hafizullah Amin of Afghanistan, whom it suspected (probably wrongly) of plotting
with America.
It succeeded in infiltrating an Azerbaijani KGB illegal, Mutalin Talybov (codenamed Sabir) into the presidential
kitchen in Kabul, where he gained a job as
a chef. Sabir, however, seems to have poisoned the wrong man. The president’s
son-in-law and head of security, Asadullah Amin, became seriously ill with food
poisoning after eating one of Talybov’s
dishes and was flown to Moscow for
urgent medical treatment. No chance
remained of poisoning the president.
As one KGB officer in the illegals
department complained: “[Hafizullah]
Amin was as careful as any of the Borgias.
He kept switching his food and drink as if
he expected to be poisoned.” Having lost
hope of poisoning the president and still
convinced that Amin was plotting with
the US, the KGB’s elite Alpha Squad
stormed his palace later in the year and
shot him dead.
The best-known KGB-assisted poisoning in Britain before that of Litvinenko
was that of the Bulgarian dissident in
London, Georgi Markov, who was
accused of repeatedly “slandering
Comrade Zhivkov”, the longest-serving leader in the Soviet bloc, during
his broadcasts on the BBC World Service. Though the KGB was reluctant
to take the risk of becoming
involved, it concluded that refusing
the Bulgarian appeal for assistance
would be an unacceptable slight
to Zhivkov.
The KGB nearly succeeded in covering its tracks. It provided Bulgarian intelligence with an American
umbrella whose tip had been converted by its technicians into a
silenced gun capable of firing a
lethal pellet of the poison ricin. In
1978, while Markov was waiting
at a bus stop on Waterloo
Bridge, he felt a sudden sting
in his right thigh, apparently
caused by a stranger who had
dropped his umbrella and
Markov became seriously
ill next day and died in hospital. By that time, however,
though the remains of a
small, empty pellet was
discovered in his thigh,
the ricin had decomposed. It was discovered
that ricin had been used
to murder Markov only
when a full pellet was
recovered in Paris
after an unsuccessful
attempt to assassinate another Bulgarian dissident.
As well as using poisons for assassination operations, the KGB also developed
drugs to assist the interrogation of suspected traitors. While I was working on a
book with Oleg Gordievsky, the former
British agent in the KGB, after his dramatic escape from Moscow in 1985, he
told me that at lunch in a KGB dacha,
before being accused of treachery he
had been given a glass of Armenian
He quickly realised the brandy
had been drugged in an attempt to
persuade him to confess. He began
talking quickly and garrulously,
conscious that one part of his mind
was urging him not to lose control
while another part told him the
effort might be beyond him.
Attempts were made later to
deceive him into believing that he
had made a confession.
The Soviet Union’s best-kept
secret during the final decade of
the Cold War was the immense
biological and chemical warfare
programme that developed,
among other horrors, the novichok
(“newcomer”) nerve agents used in the
recent attack in Salisbury on Sergei and
Yulia Skripal.
Vladimir Putin is
far less
concerned about
than most of his
The first warning of the biological warfare programme had been a major
anthrax outbreak in 1979 at Ekaterinburg
(then renamed Sverdlovsk), where Tsar
Nicholas II and most of his family had
been shot and bayoneted by the Bolsheviks in 1918. Later known as “the biological Chernobyl”, at the time the Russian
authorities insisted that the outbreak was
due to natural causes and no independent inspections were allowed.
The West had no idea of the scale and
menace of the work at the many laboratories of Biopreparat, the world’s largest
and most advanced biological warfare
institute, until the defection of one of its
scientific directors, Vladimir Pasechnik,
to MI6 in 1989.
Most of the scientific intelligence provided by Pasechnik is so dangerous that it
remains classified. When I met him a few
years after he went into hiding near Porton Down, he explained that, because he
had not been allowed to travel abroad
while at Biopreparat, it had taken him
several years to plan his escape. Finally,
in the summer of 1989, he was allowed to
go to France to sign contracts for laboratory equipment.
While in Paris, he made contact with
the MI6 station at the British embassy and
was exfiltrated to England. Though I have
little corroboration, I believe his claim
that some of the experiments at Biopreparat were so horrific that they interfered
with his sleep at night. Pasechnik’s willingness to be interviewed by me for a
series I was presenting on Radio 4 at a
time when he feared the FSB was trying
to track him down was certainly not influenced by the modest fee he was paid by
the BBC. Pasechnik simply wanted to do
everything he could to try to ensure that
the horrors of Biopreparat did not return
in post-Soviet Russia. He died from a
stroke in 2001.
A series of FSB poison operations of
the Putin era — including the attempt to
use novichok nerve agents to murder the
Like Trotsky’s
family, Yulia
Skripal was seen
as fair game by
those targeting
her father, Sergei
Skripals — derive from biological and
chemical warfare research at Biopreparat during the final two decades of
the Soviet era.
When Putin became president in
2000, however, it seemed inconceivable that there would be a new wave of
poison operations. I recall a memorable visit by Alexander Litvinenko to the
Cambridge Intelligence Seminar, which
I chair. Although the FSB had already
used poison in Ukraine, I fear it barely
occurred to us that Litvinenko might be
poisoned in London.
Because assassination by poison had
fallen into disuse during the Mikhail
Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin eras, operational efficiency in the early Putin era was
lower than in the early Cold War.
The dioxins used against Viktor Yushchenko during the Ukrainian presidential
election in 2004 temporarily disfigured
him but failed to kill him. The bungled
initial attempts to poison Alexander Litvinenko two years later in London and
the trail of radioactive polonium-210 left
by the assassins were further evidence of
a decline in assassination skills since their
peak during the Soviet era.
As Litvinenko lay dying in University
College Hospital, London, he addressed
these words to Russia’s president: “You
may succeed in silencing one man but the
howl of protest from around the world
will reverberate, Mr Putin, in your ears
for the rest of your life. May God forgive
you for what you have done, not
only to me but to beloved Russia and
its people.”
Though the “howl of protest” in Britain was slow to reverberate in 2006, the
government response to this month’s
attack on the Skripals — in particular the
expulsion of 23 Russian intelligence officers operating under diplomatic cover —
has been far less feeble than in the Litvinenko case.
Putin’s personal responsibility for
what Theresa May denounced on
Wednesday as “a well-established pattern of Russian state aggression across
Europe and beyond” has been publicly
Christopher Andrew’s forthcoming book,
The Secret World: A History of
Intelligence, will be published by Allen
Lane on June 28
The Sunday Times March 18, 2018
Stephen Hawking’s work on black holes launched four
decades of cutting-edge science. He died last week
without ever establishing his Theory of Everything
but his battle with physical ruin inspired the world
he sun sinks at dusk and rises
at dawn. Right? Wrong, obviously. Since Copernicus in the
16th century and Galileo in
the 17th we’ve known it’s the
Earth that moves, not the sun.
OK, we get that. Nothing is
what it seems, but we can
imagine how it isn’t. Then
along comes Albert Einstein
with relativity and curved space-time.
Tricky but, still, we can live with it, sort
of. Then quantum theory. Now we’re
totally lost but, if it’s any consolation, so
are the guys who invented this stuff.
“If quantum mechanics hasn’t profoundly shocked you, you haven’t understood it yet,” said the great physicist Niels
Bohr. “I can safely say that nobody understands quantum mechanics,” said the
equally great physicist Richard Feynman.
Now nothing is what it seems and
nothing makes sense, even to the smart
guys. Worse still, quantum theory, without which you couldn’t have a smartphone, and relativity, without which you
couldn’t have GPS on your smartphone,
contradict each other.
Huh? Enter Stephen Hawking.
“My goal is simple,” he once announced. “It is a complete understanding of the universe: why it is as it is and
why it exists at all.”
He seemed destined to achieve just
that. He was born on January 8, 1942, 300
years to the day after Galileo died. It was
also 300 years after the birth of Isaac
Newton, and Galileo was born in 1564,
the year of Michelangelo’s death and
Shakespeare’s birth, a curious chain of
genius so far unexplained even by quantum theory.
Hawking died on March 14, 2018, 53
years after he was supposed to. He was
diagnosed with motor neurone disease in
1963, aged 21, and given two years to live.
He survived to become first a scientific
superstar and then a global celebrity.
After his diagnosis there were two further crucial moments in his life. The first
was in 1974 when he published a paper in
the journal Nature entitled Black Hole
Explosions?. The second was in 1988
when he published A Brief History of
Time, which became a worldwide bestseller, a book designed in part to pay for
the enormous amount of care required
because of his crushing disability.
The first made him a scientific sensation. The cosmologist Dennis Sciama
called it “one of the most beautiful papers
in the history of physics”.
The second made him a global celebrity, a man who, among other things,
appeared in The Simpsons, The Big Bang
Theory, Star Trek, Futurama and Little
Britain. It also led to the story of his first
marriage and its ultimate collapse being
made into the Oscar-winning biopic The
Theory of Everything, starring Eddie
First the personal/celebrity story. I
interviewed him in Cambridge just
before the publication of A Brief History
of Time. It was, on the face of it, a story
that told itself — a great brain locked in a
ruined body, a mind able, in spite of
everything, to survey and interpret the
cosmos. I found him abrupt and unwilling to engage in discussion of questions
raised by the book. This was understandable. Three years earlier he had lost the
power of speech after an attack of pneu-
monia, and he answered slowly with his
now celebrated computer voice.
The following week I went to talk to his
wife Jane. She started criticising him
fiercely even before I turned on my tape
recorder. While she was religious, he had
become, she said, more aggressively antireligious. He would not be in the same
room as her devout friends.
“There’s one aspect of his thought,”
she said, “that I find increasingly upsetting and difficult to live with. It’s the feeling that, because everything is reduced to
a rational, mathematical formula, that
must be the truth. There doesn’t seem to
be room in the mind of people who are
working out these things for other sources of inspiration. You can’t actually get
an answer out of Stephen regarding philosophy beyond the realms of science.
“He’s delving into realms that really do
matter to thinking people and in a way
that can have a very disturbing effect on
them . . . and he’s not competent.”
Two years later Hawking left home
with his nurse, Elaine Mason, whom he
married in 1995 after his divorce from
Jane. His second marriage ended in
divorce in 2007.
In 1999 Jane published a memoir,
Hawking with his first wife Jane, who said he was aggressively anti-religious
Music to Move the Stars, which portrayed
Hawking’s family as a bunch of bullying
intellectual snobs — “aloof, convinced of
their own intellectual superiority over
the rest of the human race”.
A friend had warned her: “Oh, Jane,
you are marrying into a mad, mad family.” Immediately after the birth of their
third child, her mother-in-law told her:
“You see, we have never really liked you,
you do not fit into our family.” Her sisterin-law once advised her to leave Hawking, with the implication that it was what
the family would prefer.
This may all have been written in the
bitter aftermath of the marital breakdown, and she did subsequently seem to
revise her verdict. In 2007, after the
divorce from Elaine, she produced a
revised and much sunnier memoir, Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen,
which became the basis for the film.
The further twist in this story came
with the surfacing of accusations —
denied by both — that Elaine had abused
him horribly. The raw, hard, cold light of
celebrity exposure had shone cruelly
on Hawking.
But there was an upside to his celebrity. Hawking’s fame in the latter half of
his life exactly mirrored that of his greatest predecessor, Albert Einstein. Einstein
had transformed physics in a series of
brilliant papers in the first decade of the
20th century. By the time he travelled to
New York in 1921 — he was officially welcomed by the mayor — news of his
achievement had spread far beyond the
academies. From then until his death in
1955 he remained one of the most famous
and influential people in the world.
Einstein’s explosion of hair, his bushy
moustache, his general dishevelment
and his habit of pulling funny faces all
became the age’s emblem of stratospheric IQ, of incontestable genius. In
some way this was helped by the fact that
few people really understood his science.
This was a man, in the popular imagination, who had access to deep mysteries, a
rabbinical, prophetic figure who saw a
world beyond anything ordinary folk
could imagine.
In Hawking’s case the emblem of
genius was that of his ruined body pinioned in a massive wheelchair while his
computerised voice delivered clipped
wisdom from the furthest reaches of the
cosmos. It was a far more intense image
than that of Einstein. In fact, it was
astounding — how could the unrelenting
ravages of this disease have left his mind
so gloriously untouched? It was as if his
brain were made of some unearthly substance, or it evoked the pop science-fiction image of the brain in a vat, unencumbered by bodily processes.
The mystery of the image was further
intensified by the way he was forced to
work. Once he could no longer write
equations, he practised his science by
pure thought, imagining his speculations
as visual images. The supporting equations were written out by others.
In his obituary, Sir Roger Penrose,
Hawking’s one-time collaborator, compared him to the Delphic oracle, a post
occupied over centuries by a succession
of women endowed by the gods with the
gift of prophecy. Like the oracle, Hawking
with his inhuman voice and wrecked
body seemed to be the medium for some
extraterrestrial wisdom. His views were
sought on any and every issue and he
usually obliged.
Intelligent aliens? Probably, but the
oracle said we had better not meet them,
for now anyway.
“Meeting a more advanced civilisation, at our present stage, might be a bit
like the original inhabitants of America
meeting Columbus. I don’t think they
were better off for it.”
Global warming? Of course it’s happening. Not only that, there are countless
ways — an asteroid impact, a supervolcano, nuclear war — in which we could
be wiped out. We should be making plans
to colonise other planets and leave our
ageing, overheated Earth behind.
Time travel? Yes, maybe. Artificial
intelligence? Very dangerous — it “may
replace humans altogether”. And so on.
His television appearances supported
his oracular or magus-like powers. This
was not just a smart guy; this was intelligence itself. “The world just dropped a lot
of IQ points,” tweeted Jonathan Ross after
his death. This would not have impressed
Einstein: space is curved
Part of Hawking’s fascination was that
because he could no longer write, he
practised science by pure thought
A friend had
warned his first
wife: ‘You are
marrying into a
mad, mad family’
Hawking marries Elaine Mason, one of
his nurses, in Cambridge in 1995
The great weirdnesses of
20th-century physics now
regularly find their way
into fiction — the
“warp drive” of the ships in
Star Trek, the puzzle of
black holes in the movie
Interstellar and so on. But
the single most
consistently fictionalised
weirdness is time travel,
writes Bryan Appleyard.
After Einstein — who
showed that space and
time were curved — this
began to seem possible.
His general theory of
relativity was, said
Stephen Hawking, “a
theory not only of curved
space, but of curved or
warped time as well”. Time
was the fourth dimension,
so perhaps we could move
about in it as we do in the
the older, wiser Hawking. “People who
boast about their IQ are losers,” he said in
2004. It now sounds like a rebuke to the
Trump presidency.
Even more than with Einstein, the
sheer incomprehensibility of the realm
from which this wisdom came enhanced
the reputation of the man as a quasidivine seer.
And it was indeed, to return to the science, incomprehensible. Black Hole
Explosions?, the 1974 paper, delved into
the ultimate darkness. No black holes
had been clearly detected at that time,
but they were thought to be out there.
Physicists had concluded that Einstein’s
theories predicted these gravitational
sinks, into which things plunged to be
lost for ever, at least to our universe. At
their centre was, it was thought, a “singularity”, a point at which all laws of physics
Nothing could be more black, so the
only way these things could be detected
was indirectly, by their effects on surrounding space. Hawking’s paper proved
otherwise. He showed that black holes
would emit what became known as
Hawking radiation. They would thus dissipate over time, though very slowly; a
black hole the size of the sun would take
longer than the age of the universe to
evaporate. The death of microscopically
small black holes, however, could be
theoretically observed.
The point was that he had applied
quantum thinking to a problem born of
relativity. It suggested a route to the unification of the two great but contradictory
pillars of 20th-century physics, to the creation of a so-called Theory of Everything,
the holy grail of modern science.
The paper in effect launched the next
four decades of cutting-edge physics.
Strange flowers with strange names
bloomed in the garden of cosmic specula-
three dimensions of space.
Einstein had also shown
that time can pass at
different speeds for
observers moving relative
to each other. How fast,
Hawking asked in a lecture,
“does one need to go in
order that the time for one
observer should go
backwards relative to the
time of another observer?”
The answer,
unfortunately, is
faster than the
speed of light,
which is impossible.
Yet could the
warping of
also shown by
Einstein, make
Spock: used
warp drive
time travel work? One way
would be to use
“wormholes” in space-time
to, in effect, travel faster
than light speed and arrive
back where you started
before you left. Maybe it’s
possible but, if so, why has
nobody travelled back
from the future to tell us
how to do it?
“Travel back in time,”
Hawking concluded,
“can’t be ruled out,
according to our present
understanding. [It]
would cause great logical
problems, so let’s
hope there’s a
Protection Law to
prevent people
going back and
killing our
The Sunday Times March 18, 2018
The Science Museum gives Hawking a
‘black hole light’ for his 70th birthday
tion — branes, worldsheets, supersymmetry,
(really!), Montonen-Olive duality and,
strangest of all, the colossal tree of string
theory. Beyond this garden lay the Theory of Everything, the universal understanding that Hawking had dedicated his
life to achieving.
Latterly, however, this garden has
acquired weeds. The great tree of string
theory no longer looks so verdant. It
lacks a key nutrient — experimental
confirmation. It is this lack that denied
Hawking his Nobel prize. It is not
awarded for speculation unconfirmed by
Europe’s massive machine, the Large
Hadron Collider, was expected by many
to underpin string theory. It did, indeed,
confirm the existence of the Higgs boson,
but that was just physics as usual. What
did not pop out of that vast subterranean
tunnel was supersymmetry, a key foundation of string theory.
“This doesn’t disprove string theory,”
the Italian physicist Carlo Rovelli told me,
“but it’s put a big minus next to it. You
could still say supersymmetry was there.
But it’s like looking for lions in the north
of England — you keep saying they’re hiding somewhere but, after 20 years, you
have to say there are no lions.”
Now Rovelli and many other physicists
are turning away from string theory,
seeking new ways to explain the universe.
This provides a deeply poignant ending to the astounding life of Stephen
Hawking, because he may — in spite of the
connections of genius clustered about his
birthday — have been born at the wrong
Like several generations of other phys-
It seemed somehow fitting that
when Stephen Hawking came to visit
the Science Museum (“one of my
favourite places”) he would arrive
with an entourage worthy of a rock
god: there were assistants, carers, a
green room and, of course, he had
specific dietary demands too, writes
Roger Highfield.
Of all his visits, the most
memorable came in the wake of his
70th birthday, when ill health had
forced him to pull out of his
celebrations in Cambridge and the
VIP opening of an exhibition about
him in the museum. Given his
frequent visits to Papworth Hospital,
we all feared the worst.
But the following month, with a
day’s notice, there he was to see the
exhibition, including a specially
commissioned David Hockney iPad
portrait. An enormous crowd craned
their necks to catch a glimpse of the
most famous scientist on the planet,
the genius who had explored the
furthest reach of the universe with
his mind.
icists he was destined to labour under the
burden of the achievements of the titans,
notably Einstein, of the first half of the
20th century. They left behind thrilling
insights but also a monstrous and, thus
far, unsolvable problem — how to make
these insights cohere into a single Theory
of Everything. With string theory being
abandoned by some of the best and
brightest, this now looks as far away
as ever.
Does any of this matter to you and me?
Hawking thought it should. In A
Brief History of Time he wrote
that a complete theory
“should in time be understandable in broad principle
by everyone, not just a few scientists. Then we shall all, philosophers, scientists and just ordinary people, be able to
take part in the discussion of the question of
why it is that we and
the universe exist.”
More brutally, the
Nobel prize-winning
Weinberg says that
such a theory might
discourage people
from reading their
horoscopes. He
also said: “The
more the universe
seems comprehensible, the more it
also seems pointless.”
Eddie Redmayne as
Hawking in the 2014 film
The Theory of Everything
I first encountered Hawking in
Berkeley, California, in 1988, when
he was promoting A Brief History of
Time. The main auditorium and
satellite venues in the University of
California, Berkeley, were fit to burst
as the crowd waited to see Hawking
and hear his synthetic accent.
Hawking made me starstruck, too.
When I met him, I found myself
gabbling away, filling the long gaps
between his witty one-liners with
increasingly inane patter.
Perhaps the most embarrassing
moment of all was when his PA rang
me on another occasion to put him
on the phone to discuss an article I
had asked him to write. I tried very
hard but sadly could not make out
what he was saying.
I was too embarrassed to ask him
to repeat it again after his second
attempt. That sounds brilliant, I told
him, having absolutely no idea what
I had commissioned. And it was.
The author is director of external affairs
at the Science Museum in London
It is true that such a theory would
make no difference to our lives. A set of
equations is unlikely to help you get
through Thursday, and practical applications are improbable.
But I don’t think we should care too
much about such things; we should,
instead, look upward. “We are all in the
gutter,” said Oscar Wilde, “but some of us
are looking at the stars.”
Hawking was certainly looking at the
stars, and his gaze never wavered
through all the appalling tribulations of
his life. This is a heroic narrative of
our time, bloodless, unlike so many
other heroic narratives and, like
great poetry, it is a story about
something that is almost too fine, too
difficult and too beautiful to fully
from his room in St John’s
College, Cambridge, once
gazed down at the statue
of Isaac Newton in the
chapel of neighbouring Trinity College. In
that stone face he saw
“The marble index
of a mind for ever /
Thought, alone.”
strange seas and,
though he was destined never to find a
behind the story of his
voyage and that, surely, is
the best any of us can hope
to do.
The Sunday Times March 18, 2018
The mother of a boy with epilepsy tells
Leaf Arbuthnot of her fight to persuade
the government he should be allowed
the one drug that makes life bearable
lfie Dingley had his first
epileptic fit when he
was just eight months
old. “I’ll never forget
it,” his mother, Hannah
Deacon, says over tea at her
home in Warwickshire. “It
was midnight. I woke to hear
this horrific scream. I went
into his room and he was
purple and shaking, his skin
on fire.” Deacon had never
seen a seizure before and
rushed her son to A&E.
Since then Alfie’s condition
has worsened, preventing
Deacon from returning to
work — she now earns £60 a
week as a stay-at-home carer,
while her partner, Drew,
works as a landscaper to
support the family. Alfie, now
six, has up to 30 seizures a
day, brutal attacks that rip
through his body for up to 25
Yet there is hope. Deacon
says she has found a
“miracle” treatment that is
legally available in much of
America and the EU — but not
in Britain. Last year she
moved the family to Holland
for five months to see
whether Alfie’s epilepsy
could be treated with medical
cannabis. They stayed in a
holiday park while Alfie was
treated by a Dutch paediatric
neurologist. After six weeks
his condition had
dramatically improved. With
three drops of cannabis oil
applied daily under his
tongue, his epilepsy eased —
the seizures didn’t stop, but
they became less frequent
and less intense.
Deacon is now battling for
Alfie to be prescribed
cannabis oil on the NHS.
Currently it is illegal in the
UK, though certain shops
stock a cannabis extract that
does not contain the plant’s
psychoactive ingredient —
which is key for Alfie’s
Shy and apologetic, with
clear blue eyes that fill with
I won’t give
Alfie drugs
made in
some garage
Hannah Deacon with six-year-old son Alfie, who can suffer up to 30 seizures a day, some lasting as long as 25 minutes
Extreme homework
Meet the new vlogging stars – no make-up, lots of books.
Pick up your copy of The Times tomorrow.
tears as she speaks to me,
Deacon is an unlikely drug
legalisation warrior.
“I’m just a mum that wants
my son to be well,” she says.
“I’m not going to start
chaining myself to railings. I
want to help my child live the
best possible life that he can.”
For most of his life Alfie has
been pumped with steroids
that make him aggressive. He
often thumps his sister,
Annie, 3, and Deacon fears
that by the time he reaches
adult size, he may
accidentally kill her.
Earlier this month the
Home Office announced it
was considering allowing
Alfie to be treated in a
medical cannabis trial. But
things aren’t moving quickly
enough, Deacon argues. The
longer her son is treated with
steroids, the more likely it is
he will die of a heart attack or
lapse into psychosis. On
Tuesday Deacon will take
Alfie to Westminster to meet
MPs and to present the
government with a petition
signed by more than 350,000
people. Her aim: to persuade
the government to grant
Alfie’s doctor permission to
prescribe him medical
cannabis. Is she optimistic?
“It will work,” she says
firmly. “I won’t let it not. He’s
the bravest child I know, and
he goes through hell. I’m not
asking for everyone to have
cannabis; I’m asking them to
look at this one case and
allow my child to have a good
quality of life.”
Of course, many people
grow cannabis behind closed
doors. Last year police raided
a cannabis farm in north
London and found a thriving
“rainforest” inside. Deacon
knows perfectly well she
could get her hands on
cannabis oil without the
government’s blessing.
“I’ve had hundreds of
people contacting me to say,
‘I grow cannabis,’” she tells
me, rolling her eyes. “But I
don’t want to give my son
something that someone’s
made in their garage. I don’t
want to worry about who’s
going to knock on my door to
take my children off me.”
I wonder how long her
resolve will hold if the
government refuses to budge.
Deacon shows me a tiny
bottle of legal cannabis
extract that she brought back
from Holland. I take a sniff.
It’s peppery and whisks me
back to my student days.
I ask Deacon why she
thinks the government is
taking so long to decide on
Alfie’s fate. It’s partly fear, she
says. “Cannabis is associated
with severe drug-taking. But
recreational and medical
cannabis use are completely
Balancing Alfie’s needs
with those of her daughter
has pushed Deacon to the
point of breakdown. It is
painfully clear as we speak
that she has virtually no
support system. Above all,
she craves normality. Trips to
the pub and to Disneyland.
Bonding time with Annie.
Weekends away with her
partner. Drew and Deacon
have been engaged for five
years but cannot afford a
wedding — all their disposable
income funds Alfie’s care.
“It is an incredible strain
on our relationship, but Drew
loves his children. It’s really
upsetting but I have to keep
strong for Alfie. I have to
know that I’ve done
everything I can to help him.”
The oil Deacon is seeking
costs €180 (£160) for a 10ml
bottle. She acknowledges it is
expensive but says the cost
pales in comparison with the
alternative: without the
medical cannabis, Alfie
spends around 150 days a
year in hospital. “It’ll save the
NHS over £100,000 a year.”
The past six years for
Deacon and her family have
been gruelling. But there
have been unexpected
“I know what life’s about
now,” Deacon says. “So many
people spend their time
moaning about the fact that
their husband has left the
milk out. If your children are
well, if you are well and if
you’ve got a bit of money,
then life’s all right. You’ve
just got to try to make the
best of it.”
The possible axeing
of the coin has got
Hunter Davies
defending its value
as a cultural icon
from Saxon times to
penny dreadfuls
ast week I spotted a
penny on the pavement
outside our house. After
looking around to check
no one else had also seen
it and was about to pounce, I
picked it up.
I wasn’t worried about
being spotted. “Ooh, look at
him, you wouldn’t think he
was the richest man in our
street.” In fact, only the
richest man in our house. (I
live alone.) Clearly I am not in
need of the odd copper but it
makes my day when I find any
money lying around. And I
love pennies.
Walking along I started
singing Pennies from Heaven.
It’ll come as no surprise that
one of my favourite mottos is
“look after the pennies and
the pounds will look after
themselves”. Along with “a
penny saved is a penny
earned”.Then there’s “a
penny for your thoughts”, “in
for a penny, in for a pound”
and so on.
I wonder what will happen
to these ancient phrases if
and when pennies — and 2p
pieces — are finally phased
out? That was what the
chancellor, Philip Hammond,
and the brains at the Treasury
were threatening in the
spring statement last week,
calling for a review. Oh, I
hope not.
Pennies have been with us
for such a long time, even
before I was born (in 1936 — I
know, hard to believe). They
go back to King Offa of
Mercia, who reigned from 757
to 796. Then they were made
of silver and were used to pay
off the Viking raiders to make
them go away and not bother
us any more.
Pennies were a lovely,
unifying thing for the
Anglo-Saxons, minted here
on this island, a matter for
regional pride and then
national pride. It meant that
Pennies made
of silver go
back to King
Offa (757-96)
The Sunday Times March 18, 2018
Bouncing back from illness with a memoir
and album, Andrew Lloyd Webber
hasn’t time to attend the Lords or to
dwell on turning 70. A new show is
dawning, he tells Laura Pullman
ost people reaching their
allotted three score years
and ten tend to ease their
nose off the grindstone
a little, or even a lot.
Andrew Lloyd Webber is
not one of them. “I’m
actually rather bored by
it and just want to get
on,” he says firmly when
I inquire about his big birthday, which
is on Thursday.
Within minutes of meeting at the Other
Palace (one of seven theatres that he
owns in London), it’s clear that the Midas
of musicals is not a dilly-dallier. He adds
cold water to his coffee — presumably all
the quicker to drink it and get the show
on the road.
And — holy Macavity! — is his passion
undimmed. When asked about the state
of musicals, Lloyd Webber opens up like
a geyser: “The truth is, the action is on
Broadway. It’s the most exciting I’ve ever
known it.” He buzzes about the new
writers on the block and the latest greatest shows: Hamilton (obviously), Dear
Evan Hansen, Come from Away and The
Band’s Visit. It’s all “thrilling” and “joyous”. He doesn’t care where the energy
is, he says, just as long as it’s somewhere.
Thankfully, his love for Broadway is
reciprocated. Last year he equalled a
record set in 1953 by Rodgers and
Hammerstein by having four shows
running there concurrently: Sunset
Boulevard, School of Rock, Cats and The
Phantom of the Opera.
Why is the magic not here? “Because
musicals are not truly in the British DNA.
I’m an unusual fish. Maybe [the theatre
producer] Cameron Mackintosh is as
well, but there are not many of us.”
The day we meet, Lloyd Webber
announces that his New London Theatre
will be renamed in honour of Gillian
Lynne, the choreographer for Cats. It’s
the first West End theatre to be named
after a woman. “I feel rather ashamed I
didn’t think of this ages ago,” he says.
Talk turns to the gender pay gap,
which he doesn’t believe stretches to
musical theatre: “When you look at what
Bette Midler was paid for Hello, Dolly! [on
Broadway from April 2017] it probably
doesn’t exist.” She was reportedly paid
$150,000 (£108,000) a week.
Equally, he’s not aware of a pernicious
casting couch culture in this side of
showbiz: “Obviously when I started out
all citizens with any money
would be carrying around the
same image of our dear
I can clearly remember
those large pennies we had
when I was a lad growing up
during the war. When you
had saved 12 you could
change them for a shilling.
You could buy a bottle of
dandelion and burdock,
and a gobstopper and still
have change for five
It was so satisfying to roll
your large pennies at the fair
and try to land them on a
prize. I wonder what has
happened to all those
machines. Or putting the
penny in the slot to see what
the butler saw.
Has Hammond really
thought out how much it
costs when he starts mucking
around with our coinage?
Pennies survived even the
introduction of decimal
there was quite a strong gay scene, but
nobody was abused by it that I know of.”
However, as his new memoir
Unmasked reveals, Lloyd Webber has
experienced his own #MeToo moments.
When he was a schoolboy a “saddo” tried
to fondle him on the Underground. Then,
when he was 23, the comedian Frankie
Howerd lunged and gave him a love bite,
saying: “Take that home to your wife.”
The 500-page doorstopper, which he
wrote on his iPad “in-between work”, is
stuffed with these sorts of fascinating
nuggets. “My book seems to be better
reviewed than my shows, which is a little
worrying,” he jokes. It is dedicated to his
“fabulously un-PC” Auntie Vi, who wrote
Britain’s first gay recipe book, with one
chapter headed “Too many cocks spoil
the breath”.
As well as career highs and lows,
Unmasked covers everything from his
affair with and marriage to Sarah
Brightman to two suicidal episodes as a
teenager. In 1963 he overdosed on
aspirin. “I can’t tell you if it was a cry for
help or whether I meant it: I don’t know,”
he writes.
Recently, after surviving prostate
cancer only to be struck by crippling back
agony, Lloyd Webber was again contemplating the worst. “I snapped out of it, but
if you’re in huge pain you do think: I can’t
go on with this any more. You don’t see
any light at the end of the tunnel,” he
says. A chiropractor solved the problem
and a regime of swimming, walking and
no alcohol means all is now tickety-boo.
“I basically had four missing years
from just before Love Never Dies opened
to when Stephen Ward did.” Forget coffee
spoons, Lloyd Webber measures life in
stage shows. It was returning to work at
full gusto that brought back the light.
Despite his enduring successes —
Phantom alone has been running for
32 years with $6bn in global box office
takings — the impresario’s place in
Britain’s affections remains puzzling.
He has awards and titles galore, but the
“national treasure” epithet doesn’t feel
quite right. He’s worth about £740m —
might it be a case of tall poppy syndrome?
“It’s really not for me to say. I don’t
believe the public feel that way.”
Musically, he’s too slippery to pin
down too — Requiem on the one hand,
Starlight Express on the other: “I think
people find it hard to see that maybe one
can have other sides to one’s personality.
A coin
Offa, king of
Bad Penny
Blues will live
on, thanks
to jazz fans
Vladimir Putin
was very scary. I
interviewed him
for the Eurovision
Song Contest
Lloyd Webber says his book is
receiving better reviews than his
shows, ‘which is a little worrying’
coinage in 1971, although they
got smaller and flimsier —
pretty useless for rolling.
When our son eventually
left home we discovered a
lifetime of small change in his
room. I found £19.79 in all and
spent it on beaujolais. The offlicence staff were not
pleased, but they had to
accept it.
The Treasury, as part of its
argument, said 60% of our
pennies and 2p pieces get
used only once — then are
either stashed in jars or
thrown away. It therefore
costs more than the actual
value to keep replacing them.
Economically that makes
some sense, but the end of
pennies will leave a vast hole
not just in our history, but
also in our culture.
Some people will not
know what penny dreadfuls
were, but I remember them
well — cheap, flimsy,
paperback books, often with
a half-naked woman on the
Bad Penny Blues will
survive, though, thanks to
Humphrey Lyttelton and his
band. His recording of it in
1956 will still be played,
especially now that vinyl and
proper record players are
back, hurrah — unless
Hammond is contemplating
phasing out jazz fans as
well. That would ruin
Marks & Spencer — who
else but jazz fans buy its
When pennies
finally go, all those
tourists flocking to
Liverpool on the
Beatles trail will be
perplexed by Penny
Lane, wondering where
the name originally came
from. Over the years I
have confidently told
overseas Beatles fans that,
yes, definitely, the name
comes from the coin. (In
fact, that’s cobblers — it
comes from a Liverpool
merchant called James
Penny, a defender of the slave
trade who died in 1799.)
Perhaps penny coins won’t
vanish from our language
when they disappear in real
life. Last week on Match of
the Day I clearly heard a
commentator praise a player
who could “turn on a
Sixpences, or tanners as
we called them, disappeared
back in 1980. Silver sixpences
went back to 1551 and were
considered lucky. A bride
would find one in her shoe
and they were hidden in
Christmas puddings.
We used to sing at school
“I’ve got sixpence, jolly jolly
sixpence, I’ve got sixpence to
last me all my life”. Can that
be true, a whole life, or have I
made it up? Life was short in
the olden days. See, coins are
part of social history.
I am hopeful that pennies
will be with us for ever, both
in that cheap, nasty metal
and in our language. Downing
Street has gauged the mood
of the people and has now
contradicted the Treasury,
assuring us that our coins are
safe — for the moment.
I’ll wager a pound to a
penny that the coins are safe
for now. Let’s hope so.
I don’t want to be kept in a box.” Does he
care about likeability? “Not particularly.”
Sensing Lloyd Webber isn’t enjoying
the introspection, I change gear. Is it true
he has met Vladimir Putin? “Yes, he was
very scary. I interviewed him for the
Eurovision Song Contest.”
He recalls going to the then Russian
prime minister’s dacha armed with
questions provided by David Frost, a
friend: “The interesting parts of the
interview never made it to TV. I think the
BBC light entertainment department
didn’t quite realise what we got and the
BBC Moscow political bureau wasn’t
keen that we’d got the interview.”
As a Conservative peer, Lloyd Webber
once spoke in the upper chamber about
Russian influence. Today he simply says:
“I think we’re in a very dangerous world
at the moment and I fear that we might be
sleepwalking right now.” He resigned
from the House of Lords six months ago,
uncomfortable with how bloated it had
become and keen to prioritise his work.
He seems horrified by the mention of
retirement (“God, no, I don’t think so”),
has just released an album of his hits (also
called Unmasked) and has a new — top
secret — idea for a show. About 30 productions of his musicals are being staged
around the world and every day he
receives “show reports” updating him on
how everything’s going: “I can normally
spot when something’s not quite right.”
With his self-confessed “perfectionist
tantrums”, it’s no secret that Lloyd
Webber isn’t the easiest man to work
with. “It’s vitally important that you keep
standards up. That’s where I have, on
occasions, lost it,” he says.
He talks at length about theatre
restoration, quoting Sir John Betjeman as
he weighs up preserving beautiful
architecture versus keeping the clientele
comfortable. He’s too polite to acknowledge that audiences are growing wider.
What about the ultimate middle-class
problem: long queues for the ladies’ loos?
“You go to Broadway, the facilities there
make us look like paradise.”
Lloyd Webber repeatedly mentions
how lucky he is to have a career that he’s
doolally about and that has served him so
well. He’d like his collection of Victorian
art to be exhibited in full one day, but the
wine cellar has been largely sold off.
He has five children, two from his first
marriage and three with his third wife,
Madeleine. They have been together
since 1991. Neither believes in inherited
wealth, although he’s keen that the family business is kept together: “You want
the legacy of the musicals to be looked
after properly.”
They have homes in London and New
York, an estate in Hampshire (Sydmonton Court) and a house in Barbados. The
parties he throws on a boat in Barbados
every new year are reportedly epic.
After further pestering he finally confesses that he’s having a big 70th bash at
the Theatre Royal Drury Lane this week.
The theme is 1960s floral and dinner will
be recipes from The Good Food Guide in
that swinging decade. “It’s going to prove
that it’s absolute rubbish that food was
not great in London years ago,” he says.
Are there any presents he’s lusting
after — a Millais, perhaps? “What I’d love
is two weeks where I could go and look at
architecture and that’s something I know
I’m never going to get,” he says forlornly.
This seems eminently achievable, but
he clearly senses that time is marching
on. Lloyd Webber — coffee long finished,
coat already on — is squirming to get on
with writing his next smash hit.
Unmasked: The Platinum Collection is out
now on UMC
ave you seen Elon
Musk’s latest big idea?
Not content with firing
SpaceX rockets to Mars
or rolling out Tesla
electric cars, he has a plan
to dig huge tunnels all over
If Musk has his way, these
tunnels will contain either
futuristic vacuum tubes that
will pull pods along at several
hundred miles an hour, or
“electric skates” that can
transport cars at up to
150mph, cutting journey
times and — if the hype is to
be believed — making traffic
congestion a thing of the past.
It is a preposterously
ambitious idea — and who
knows if it will work, but it’s
definitely lots of fun. And
the name of this bonkers
tunnelling business? Musk
calls it the Boring Company.
It just goes to show that
simply because something is
labelled “boring”, it doesn’t
mean it is. That’s also the
case when it comes to
government policy.
Some of the most
structurally important things
that ministers can do — such
as civil service reform or
fixing the broken planning
system — are understandably
dismissed as dull, so
they rarely make it up the
political agenda.
When it comes to the
Brexit debate you can see the
same thing happening. Tory
infighting might be grabbing
the headlines but many
significant consequences of
leaving the EU have largely
been overlooked.
Take state aid rules. These
are among the most powerful
and arcane EU laws of all,
designed to stop countries
unfairly subsidising their own
industries and so impeding
fair competition across the
single market.
For better or worse, these
complex regulations have
constrained British
governments for decades. But
if they no longer apply after
we leave the EU, all manner
of new options open up.
Worryingly, there will be
nothing to stop a Jeremy
Corbyn-led government from
ushering in a new era of
1970s-style corporatism and
wasting billions propping up
unprofitable companies
across the country.
But if you’re willing to be
really boring (like me) and
look at the small print of the
state aid rules, you’ll see
that the EU has also been
blocking innovative things
from happening.
Take investment in
start-ups, for example. If
you’re launching a business,
you need money, but
unfortunately traditional
high street banks no longer
lend to entrepreneurs in the
way they used to.
For years this funding gap
for small firms was a real
problem in the UK, which is
why, when I worked at No 10,
Elon Musk, creator of the
Tesla electric car, wants
tunnels to be bored to
cut traffic jams
we created tax breaks to
encourage people to invest
in start-ups rather than in
unproductive buy-to-lets.
Unfortunately the
outdated way the EU state
rules are drafted made us
scale back these initiatives
dramatically to get them
approved by Brussels.
Once we take back control
from the EU next year, British
governments will be free to
help start-ups obtain the
capital they need to grow
and create jobs.
The same is true across
swathes of government
policy, from tax relief for
film production to measures
to drive investment in green
technologies. Left to our
own devices, there will be
scope for more innovative
and bold policy making.
In the past decade we’ve
seen huge consolidation in
sectors such as energy —
with more than 20 main
suppliers falling to only six
— but British ministers have
been powerless because the
competition framework is set
in Brussels, not Westminster.
Issues such as
environmental damage,
social costs or impact on
small businesses and supply
chains aren’t really taken
into account by the EU’s
competition framework.
The main question is whether
consumer prices will go up
or down.
As Jonathan Taplin points
out in his excellent new book,
Move Fast and Break Things,
this means that the
growing domination of US
technology corporations
is going unchecked by
competition authorities.
Because Facebook is free
for users and Amazon is
driving down prices for
shoppers (for now, anyway),
EU competition rules have
little to say — no matter what
the impact on innovation,
small businesses and other
social costs.
Outside the EU, a future
British government may
choose a distinct path — and
start to take on the US tech
giants. I’m not saying that’s
right or wrong, only that it’s a
new possibility post-Brexit.
It’s a similar story with
regional growth. At the
moment it’s not possible for
a British government to cut
taxes in a specific region
to attract investment and
spark regeneration.
Free from these strictures,
politicians might decide to
designate parts of the
northeast as special trade
zones with zero corporation
tax, or put in place generous
incentives for start-ups in
some of the poorest towns.
As the theoretical physicist
Freeman Dyson once said:
“Nothing is boring if you
look at it carefully.”
If we’re to make Brexit a
success, we’re going to have
to make the most of the
new possibilities that
freedom from obscure EU
rules might bring.
Given everything that’s
at stake, what could be less
boring than that?
Rohan Silva was senior policy
adviser to David Cameron, the
former prime minister
The Sunday Times March 18, 2018
Arctic monkeying: swimmers defy an air temperature of –5C and a 4C sea to take a dip at Unstad, in Norway’s Lofoten Islands
This can often come as a terrible shock,
but the world has changed remarkably
since the late 19th century. What was
acceptable behaviour in the past can
now appear quite embarrassing at the
very least. The latest institution to
discover this is National Geographic
magazine, which has been intrepidly
travelling the globe since 1888 in search,
for much of that time, of exotic cultures
to feature in glossy photographs.
To celebrate this august and serious
publication’s 130th anniversary, the
editors of National Geographic took a
look into the archives and were
horrified by what they found. One
edition from 1916, for example, carried
the following caption: “South Australia
Blackfellows: These savages rank lowest
in intelligence of all human beings.”
So the current issue is not so much a
celebration as an abject apology. It is
devoted entirely to race, and features a
pair of twins on the cover — one black,
one white. “For
decades our
coverage was racist,”
admits the editor,
Susan Goldberg, who
is the first woman to
hold the post. “To
rise above our past,
we must
acknowledge it.”
Geographic is the
official organ of
America’s National
Geographic Society,
and was founded as a
scientific journal. It
was Alexander Graham Bell, the
pioneer of the telephone, who ordered
a change of direction when he was
president of the society in 1897. “Leave
science to others,” he instructed, “and
give us a detail of living interest,
beautifully illustrated by photographs.
The world and all that is in it is our
theme, and if we can’t find anything to
interest ordinary people in that subject,
we better shut up shop.”
By the Second World War the
publication’s reputation was so high
that its maps and pictures were praised
as “the richest and most helpful single
source of pictorial material” available to
the US armed forces.
Of course, not everybody read the
magazine for its geographic and cultural
insights. Professor John Mason, who
specialises in photography and African
history for Virginia University,
conducted an extensive review of the
archives and noted that National
Geographic was one of the few places
where white teenage boys could gaze at
bare breasts. “Editors knew that was
one of the appeals of their magazine,”
he said. “People of colour were often
scantily clothed. People of colour were
often pictured as living as their
ancestors might have lived several
hundreds of years ago.”
Of course, these matters are handled
much more sensitively now. Or are
they? As recently as 2016, there were
widespread reports, amid some
amusement, of an Amazonian tribe that
fired arrows at a passing helicopter.
Still, at least nobody remarked on their
“The Russians should go away and
shut up,” said the defence secretary,
Gavin Williamson, last week in his
first official response to the chemical
weapons attack in Salisbury. Well,
that’s the Russkies told then.
It didn’t help Williamson in his
attempt to assume the gravitas
required for megaphone diplomacy
that he is constantly compared to
Private Pike from Dad’s Army (whose
mum doesn’t want him going
anywhere near Salisbury).
In reply, Russia said that he speaks
like a “market wench”. What did that
mean? A rough translation from the
Russian is: “You stupid boy.”
The musician Don McLean — who, for
the benefit of younger readers, had a hit
called American Pie so long ago that
even your grandparents probably think
it sounds a bit outdated — releases a new
album, Botanical Gardens, this week
and is embarking on a British tour.
But much of the attention last week
was on his Playboy model girlfriend,
Paris Dylan. She is 24, while Don is a
sprightly 72.
“A long, long time ago,” sings
McLean in the 1971 hit, “I can still
remember how that music used to make
me smile.”
When you reach a certain age, still
remembering can be very reassuring.
It seems that even the Queen is a victim
of the gender pay gap. The actress Claire
Foy, who won a clutch of awards for her
portrayal of the young monarch in the
Netflix drama The Crown, was paid less
for the series than Matt Smith.
Admittedly, she was
given a reported
$40,000 (£29,000) an
episode, which is
hardly to be sniffed at,
but Smith’s fee was
higher because of the
fame he had
achieved in his
previous work as
Doctor Who.
Olivia Colman
takes over as the
Queen for the
new series, and it
seems she will be
forward,” says
the series
producer, “no
one gets paid
more than the
Stand-up comedian who compered
the long-running game show Bullseye
Jim Bowen, who has died aged 80,
became an unlikely television star in the
1980s when he hosted ITV’s Bullseye, a
darts-based game show that by all rights
should have died a mercifully early
Bowen’s halting line in bluff northern
chat ran the gamut from “smashin’ ”
through “super” to “great”. He would
bump into the scenery and struggled to
look at the right camera.
An early exchange with a contestant
passed into television lore: “Hello, Ken,
and what do you do for a living?” “I’m
unemployed, Jim.” “Smashin’, Ken.
The Daily Telegraph
Life in brief
First published: 1888
Circulation: as a scientific journal
just 1,000 copies, but it soon hit 2m
under editor Gilbert Grosvenor, the
son-in-law of Alexander Graham
Bell. By the 1980s it sold 12m
worldwide, and now sells 6.7m in
nearly 40 local language editions
Wednesday’s Sun was among the papers
that reported an unusual fight in
Middlesbrough. “A dozen women
brawled in a pub car park after a sevenhour booze binge watching male
strippers — on Mother’s Day,” the paper
The accompanying photographs gave
a taste of the event at the town’s
Woodman Arms. In one of the pictures,
there is a naked man (shown from the
rear) standing in front of a woman sitting
on a stool. In another picture, a woman
What a swell
party: Zara
Tindall at
is lying on the carpet with a semi-naked
man on top of her.
One stripper told the paper how
women licked cream off him. “They
weren’t shy,” he said. “After me was
Sergeant Sex the soldier.”
It made the Presidents Club party,
exposed by the Financial Times in
January, look like a convent coffee
morning. But where was the national
outrage at the obvious exploitation of
these poor young men, covered in dairy
No spit, Sherlock
There is no story that cannot be linked —
sometimes on the thinnest of pretexts —
to another. “Scientists can measure
intelligence by testing saliva after
showing for the first time that IQ can be
predicted by studying DNA,” Tuesday’s
Sun reported. “It comes a day after
football pundit Jamie Carragher, 40,
showed an absence of intelligence by
spitting in a girl of 14’s face.”
All’s swell
Thursday’s Daily Mail featured a picture
of Zara Tindall, who is heavily pregnant,
at the Cheltenham festival. In
accordance with the law, the report was
headlined: “Looking swell!” Last month
it was the Duchess of Cambridge who
was “looking swell”.
Here is a non-exhaustive list of the
expectant mothers who have been
“looking swell” in the Mail over the
years: Charlotte Church, Minnie Driver,
Coleen Rooney, Britney Spears, Kate
Garraway, Jennifer Ellison, Ivanka
Trump, Jessica Simpson, Christina
Aguilera, Kate Silverton and Paris Hilton.
Paris wasn’t pregnant, you understand:
the Mail thought her breasts were
looking slightly larger than usual.
Cheesy pun of the week
Tuesday’s Daily Mirror featured a
still from the ITV show 100 Years
Younger in 21 Days, showing the
former EastEnders actor Sid Owen
covered in goat’s cheese while sitting in a
milk bath. The headline: “Fromage
Bohemian aristocrat whose home was
the scene of legendarily wild parties
Garech Browne, who has died aged 78,
was a Guinness heir who held court at
Luggala, his gothic revivalist house in
Ireland’s Wicklow mountains. House
guests included Mick Jagger, Marianne
Faithfull, Bono and Michael Jackson.
One visitor in the 1970s recalled
seeing naked bodies pressed against the
windows in the middle of the day. A male
guest once drove a car into a marquee
because he felt somebody was paying
too much attention to his wife. It was
said that if you were judged to be boring,
you were never asked back.
If the parties Browne threw were not
quite a modern equivalent of the Hellfire
Club, they were legendary enough.
When asked to account for the time
missing from their lives, guests would
explain that they’d been “Luggala-ed”.
The Times
The Sunday Times March 18, 2018
Jeremy Clarkson
If you’re so happy you could die, I
have a suggestion: move to Finland
ollowing on from the success of
its International Women’s Day,
soon after which we learnt that
several extremely well-paid
newsreaders are not paid quite
as much as their extremely wellpaid colleagues, the United
Nations is preparing to stage its
International Happiness Day this week.
Ahead of this global event, its annual
World Happiness Report has just
announced that the happiest place on
earth is now — drum roll — Finland.
And how have experts arrived at this
conclusion? Well, it was simple. They
went to all of the countries in the world
and, in essence, asked the people they
met if they were content. And more
people said yes in Finland than
anywhere else.
“Joo. I am very happy,” said Erik from
Helsinki as he washed down his 50th
sleeping pill and climbed into the bath
with a Stanley knife and a gallon of
cheap whisky.
I wonder if the UN thought about this.
Seriously. Did it sit down at any point
and think: “Hang on. If these Finns are
as happy as they claim to be, how come
so many of them while away the day by
committing suicide?”
According to the World Health
Organisation, the only people in the
civilised bits of Europe who kill
themselves significantly more often are
the Belgians, usually because officers
from their equivalent of Operation
Yewtree are at the door.
Mozambique is one of the world’s
poorest countries. Life there is hard and
hot but they do better than the
miserable Finns. And it’s the same story
in Rwanda and even the Democratic
Republic of Congo. Although to be fair,
in the DRC, few people have the ability
to kill themselves because some drugcrazed warlord has thrown them into an
acacia tree.
Other spots in Europe where suicide
is relatively popular include Iceland
and Norway. And both of these are in
the top five on the UN’s happiness
So what’s the disconnect then? How
can people claim to be happy when they
are sitting in a car, with a hosepipe
coming through the window? Well, I
think the answer is simple: the UN’s
report is complete claptrap.
Let’s take Britain as an example of the
problem. We finished in 19th place,
which is not bad, but I suspect we’d have
been a damn sight lower down the
running order if the UN had done its
research in Wakefield on a wet Tuesday
evening in November.
When the first “Beast from the East”
was on its way, the BBC found a woman
from somewhere grey and miserable in
West Yorkshire who, because she
couldn’t afford to heat her house, spent
all day riding around town on a bus. “It’s
t’only way to stay warm,” she said.
I’m guessing now, but if you asked her
to rate her level of contentment to keep
some halfwit at the UN’s office in New
York busy, she’d say minus a million and
then tell you to eff off.
Whereas if you asked a family from
Fulham who were playing in the waves
outside Padstow on a beautiful June day
if they were happy, they’d offer you
some prosecco and say: “Yes, very.”
Happiness is hard to pin down
because there’s the undercurrent and
there’s the moment. The undercurrent
says that Jeremy Corbyn is coming and
that makes me sad. But, as I write, the
moment says that I’m going to the
Cheltenham Gold Cup and that makes
me happy.
There’s more. If you are expecting the
surgeon to cut off all your limbs and he
announces at the last minute that he can
In Mozambique
life is hard and hot
but they do better
on suicide than the
miserable Finns
save your left arm, you will be the
happiest person in the world. Even
though you won’t be opening any cans
any time soon.
Then you can have someone who’s
just got out of Cameron Diaz’s bed.
Happy? Not if he’s just trodden on a
piece of Lego.
According to the UN’s report, money
definitely makes you happier. But among
its footnotes — and this will warm the
cockles of Corbyn’s heart — there are
references to a previous study that
suggests this is only true if you earn
$75,000 (£54,000) a year. Any more or
less and the happiness tails off.
The authors of this earlier research,
both of whom have won Nobel prizes —
for services to communism, probably —
note that an increase in income beyond
this point no longer improves a person’s
ability to do what matters most, such as
“spending time with people they like,
avoiding pain and enjoying leisure”.
I see their point on that if your idea
of leisure is bowling or knitting or
having a pint after work. But mine is
going on a superyacht in the Caribbean,
so not earning enough to do that would
make me sad.
All of which brings me back to
Finland, which is one of the most
aggressive places I’ve been to. Other
Scandinavian countries are full of
socialism-lite people paying voluntary
taxes and riding their pastel-coloured
micro scooters to the recycling plant.
But Finland’s not like that in my
experience. It’s often dark. There are
many mosquitoes. Passers-by in the
street will often — and for no reason —
invite you to eff off. One man took out
his penis and waved it at me. And in
every bar I visited, there was always
someone looking at me as though
they were wondering how I’d look
without skin.
It was more like Scotland, really,
which is why it’s no surprise to me that
Finland’s biggest export in recent years
was the mobile phone app called Honey,
Puppy Dogs and Kisses.
Oh no, wait. Sorry. It was Angry Birds.
PS: Don’t worry. The UN’s much
anticipated World Toilet Day is coming,
though not until November 19.
“Can I give you a lift to the polling station?”
“I started reading all the tributes but had to give up”
“Good news, Peter! I’ve got you on MasterChef!”
“I lost a few races and one thing led to another”
Buy prints or signed copies of Nick Newman’s cartoons from our Print Gallery at
2°C f
1°C f
18 f
Los Angeles
17 f
22 f
11 f
36 s
Mexico City
26 f
14 f
28 f
13 f
-5 f
5 c
26 th
1 f
New Delhi
34 s
19 sh
New Orleans
29 th
1 s
New York
9 s
0 f
0 f
-1 sn
31 th
Buenos Aires
32 th
3 c
32 f
-3 f
-1 sn
Rio de Janeiro
28 f
Cape Town
25 f
14 sh
27 sh
San Francisco
14 f
19 f
29 s
11 s
12 f
26 s
29 f
2 sl
31 f
7 f
3 f
15 f
37 s
33 s
Tel Aviv
28 f
1 f
20 f
Hong Kong
22 sh
17 f
15 f
6 f
3 r
31 f
24 f
23 f
La Paz
13 sh
10 sh
31 th
-2 c
25 f
0 f
16 f
Washington DC
12 s
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
¬ A mixture of sunny spells
and scattered showers across
Spain and Portugal, the
showers may turn wintry
over high ground in the north
¬ An unsettled day in Italy,
Sicily and Sardinia with
showers merging to give a
longer spell of rain in places
¬ Heavy showers in the
southern Balkans during the
morning will spread east
through the afternoon
¬ A cold day in Germany, the
Low Countries and France
with snow showers in France
and southern Germany
¬ Bitterly cold and frosty
across northeast Europe,
but staying largely dry with
sunny spells. Heavy snow in
Romania and Ukraine
¬ Dry and settled conditions
dominate across Scandinavia
with light winds and spells of
wintry sunshine
UK forecast
Feeling bitterly cold in a fresh to strong
easterly wind. An area of snow across
Wales and southwest England will give
accumulations through the morning
before clearing later. Turning largely
dry elsewhere, but with snow flurries
continuing in some eastern areas.
Little thaw of any lying snow cover as
temperatures struggle to rise above
freezing. Becoming less cold through the
coming week
v rough
London, SE England
Early snow flurries easing to leave a dry
afternoon. Moderate easterly winds.
Max 2C. Tonight, frosty. Min -3C
Midlands, E Anglia, E England
Cold and rather cloudy, but largely dry.
Moderate to fresh easterly winds. Max
1C. Tonight, hard frost. Min -3C
Channel Is, SW and
Cent S England, S Wales
Snow spreading west this morning will
clear later. Fresh easterly winds. Max 4C.
Tonight, dry and frosty. Min -4C
N Wales, NW England, Isle of Man
Bitterly cold with snow flurries this
morning, turning drier later. Moderate
to fresh easterly winds. Max 1C. Tonight,
clear spells and a hard frost. Min -3C
Cent N and NE England
A cloudy start with snow flurries,
becoming drier and brighter this
afternoon. Fresh easterly winds. Max
0C. Tonight, clear and frosty. Min -2C
Largely dry with bright spells. Light
to moderate easterly winds. Max 3C.
Tonight, hard frost. Min -8C
N Ireland, Republic of Ireland
Snow showers in the south and east,
drier further northwest. Fresh easterly
winds. Max 3C. Tonight, frosty. Min -3C
A frosty start, then
staying largely dry
with sunny spells.
Max 7C
Cloudy in the
east, sunny spells
further west.
Max 9C
Warmest by day
(Thursday) 15.9C
Coldest by night
(Friday) -9.5C
Co Londonderry
(Wed) 45.6mm
St Athan
South Glamorgan
(Tuesday) 10.2hr
Largely dry with
sunny spells,
cloudy in the west.
Max 11C
Patchy rain
spreading east,
feeling milder.
Max 11C
Unsettled and
windy with rain
spreading east.
Max 12C
Venus is brilliant but low in the W as the
night begins. Mercury, much fainter,
lies 4° above and to its right but fades
and sinks lower this week. The earthlit
young Moon lies below-left of Venus
tonight and is impressive as it climbs
higher each night. On Thursday night it
approaches Aldebaran in Taurus and
hides the star at around 23:30 as they
near the WNW horizon. Alan Pickup
Isobel Lang
‘The Beast’ unsheathes
its icy claws once more
Moon phase
Sun sets/
lights on
A mix of sunny
spells and
scattered showers.
Max 11C
Brace yourself. The icy winds
have returned, drawing cold
weather from Scandinavia
and western Russia.
Thankfully, this time the
wintry blast is more of a
short, sharp shock and will
not linger, although some
snow disruption is likely.
Low pressure over central
and southern Britain brought
heavy showers that cleared to
bring a largely fine day last
Tuesday, a perfect start to the
Cheltenham Festival. A
second low then spread more
prolonged rainfall across
Northern Ireland, Wales and
the southwest.
Rain and strong winds
made for a miserable end
to the week made worse
by rain turning to snow.
The snowy mix in the
northeast returned
southwestwards and
slowly petered out
during the early
hours of yesterday,
leading to an icy start
followed by cold east winds
and scattered snow showers.
Today, after another
slippery start with ice, the
bitter east wind will continue
to feed in scattered snow
showers to eastern and
southern parts of the UK. Any
more prolonged snowfall
across southern Britain is
likely to lead to dangerous
driving conditions.
All change for the start of
this week as the high slips
from Scandinavia to be close
to northwest Scotland, with
the winds turning more
northerly. It will still feel cold
but we will have lost the bitter
continental feed and any
showers are likely to be
more mixed with rain,
sleet or snow.
Temperatures will
slowly rise as the high
slips away and we end
with an Atlantic
influence again.
Isobel Lang is a Sky
News forecaster
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