Birmingham LGBT row: Protesters banned from school

Image caption Birmingham City Council said the risk by protesters was “too serious”

Protesters against LGBT teaching at a primary school have been banned from gathering outside the gates by a High Court injunction.

Birmingham City Council pursued the legal action after months of demonstrations outside Anderton Park Primary School.

The school had to close early before half-term due to escalating action.

The council said it sought the urgent injunction after the risk to children became “too serious to tolerate”.

It said the behaviour of demonstrators was “increasingly unacceptable”.

Parents, children and protestors demonstrate against the lessons about gay relationships, which teaches children about LGBT rights at the Anderton Park Primary School, Birmingham.Image copyright PA
Image caption Protests have been held outside Anderton Park School for several weeks

The authority said it made the application in order to protect staff and pupils when they return from their half-term break on Monday.

Protesters were not made aware of the High Court application but told the BBC they still intended to gather next week on a street further away from the school.

The injunction will be in place until 10 June, when those against the diversity teachings will be given the chance to make their case in front of a judge.

The exclusion zone covers the streets around the school, which sits on Dennis Road, from Taunton Road, Yardley Lane and Birchwood Road.

Council leader Ian Ward said “common sense had prevailed”.

He said: “Children right across Birmingham should be free to attend school safely and without disruption.”

He urged parents and campaigners to “take this opportunity to engage in constructive dialogue with the school”.

Parents began protesting over concerns their children were “too young” to learn about LGBT relationships. They also said the lessons contradicted Islam.

On Thursday, the former chief prosecutor for the north-west of England, Nazir Afzal, who was brought in to mediate the matter, said parents were being “manipulated”.

Shakeel AfsarImage copyright PA
Image caption Shakeel Afsar has coordinated the protests outside Anderton Park

Jess Phillips, Labour MP for Yardley, said the council had “done the right thing for the children”, adding “it’s just a shame it has come to this thanks to the bigotry of a few”.

She clashed with lead protester Shakeel Afsar, who does not have children at the school, outside the gates earlier in May.

Mr Afsar tweeted that he will be challenging the injunction, adding: “I will stress to parents – don’t back down. If you feel you are right, invoke your democratic rights.”

The injunction forbids organising or encouraging demonstrations and printing or distributing leaflets. Those in breach of it will be subject to arrest.

It also forbids posting offensive or abusive messages on social media about members of staff at the school in relation to equalities teachings.

Anderton Park head teacher Sarah Hewitt-Clarkson previously spoke of receiving threatening emails and phone calls.

Sarah Hewitt-Clarkson
Image caption Sarah Hewitt-Clarkson received threats and branded the protests as “aggressive”

Education Secretary Damian Hinds welcomed the injunction and said it was “not right to protest in front of schools”.

“This will allow children to return to school and parents to continue peaceful and constructive discussions with staff,” he said.

The protests spread to Anderton Park from Parkfield Community School in Alum Rock, where parents raised a petition in January claiming some of the teaching contradicted Islam.

The “No Outsiders” scheme, created by one of its teachers Andrew Moffatt, had been running at Parkfield since 2014.

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https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-birmingham-48480299

Sir Philip Green charged with assault in US

Sir Philip GreenImage copyright Reuters

British retail tycoon Sir Philip Green has been charged in the US with four counts of misdemeanour assault.

The charges come after a fitness instructor in Arizona alleged that he repeatedly touched her inappropriately.

The incidents, which Sir Philip has previously denied, allegedly occurred at the Canyon Ranch resort in Tucson in 2016 and 2018.

Pima County Attorney’s Office said each count carries a potential sentence of up to 30 days in jail.

Sir Philip could also face a fine of up to $500 (£400) and up to a year of probation on each count, the attorney’s office said.

The complainant said in a police interview that Sir Philip had slapped her bottom.

Sir Philip’s Arcadia Group owns the High Street chains Topshop, Burton, Dorothy Perkins, Evans, Miss Selfridge, and Wallis.

A spokesman for Sir Philip told the Daily Telegraph in February this year when the allegations were first reported: “All this was investigated by Canyon Ranch at the time.”

He added: “Nothing was found against Sir Philip and the matter was dropped.

“In terms of the allegation, it did not happen. Sir Philip has visited the ranch since that time and has no issues with the management or any of the people there.”

The charges against Sir Philip come as his business faces significant challenges, with nearly 50 stores due to close and MPs calling on him to use his own wealth to fund the company’s pension scheme.

He was also at the centre of controversy earlier this year when he took out an injunction barring the Daily Telegraph from reporting allegations of misconduct against him by employees, which included bullying along with sexual and racial abuse, allegations the businessman strongly denied. He later dropped the injunction.

A date for the first court hearing has been set for 19 June at Pima County Court.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-48480365

London Bridge inquests: Chances ‘galore’ to stop attack, says lawyer

Chrissy Archibald, James McMullan, Alexandre Pigeard, Sebastien Belanger, Ignacio Echeverria, Xavier Thomas, Sara Zelenak, Kirsty Boden (clockwise from top left)Image copyright Press Association
Image caption The victims of the attack, clockwise from top left – Chrissy Archibald, James McMullan, Alexandre Pigeard, Sebastien Belanger, Ignacio Echeverria, Xavier Thomas, Sara Zelenak, Kirsty Boden

There were “opportunities galore” to identify that the London Bridge extremists were plotting an attack, an inquest has heard.

Gareth Patterson, the lawyer representing several victims’ families, said there was evidence the attackers had been in contact since January 2017.

Eight people died in the attack on 3 June 2017.

But investigating officer Acting Det Ch Insp Wayne Jolley denied there had been missed opportunities.

Mr Patterson told the hearing at the Old Bailey in London that “any reasonably competent investigation” had the chance to detect the planning that was going on between the three men.

It would have taken the trio a “significant period of time” for them to become close enough to trust each other with planning an attack, he said.

Khuram Butt, 27, Rachid Redouane, 30, and Youssef Zaghba, 22, left 48 people injured when they attacked passsers-by near London Bridge with a van and knives, before being themselves shot dead by armed police.

Xavier Thomas, 45, Christine Archibald, 30, Sara Zelenak, 21, Sebastien Belanger, 36, James McMullan, 32, Kirsty Boden, 28, Alexandre Pigeard, 26, and Ignacio Echeverria, 39, died in the attack, which lasted less than 10 minutes.

Six months after the attack, a major review of whether MI5 could have stopped it revealed that Butt, the ringleader at London Bridge, was under “active investigation” from mid-2015.

At the inquest, Mr Patterson said Butt had been associating with known extremists, including Anjem Choudary, and had told people of his desire to fight in Syria.

Mr Patterson challenged the Metropolitan Police’s investigating officer, suggesting the repeated contact between the attackers was “crying out to be looked at”.

The inquest heard that Zaghba had started going to Butt’s gym in January 2017 and that the two men were in telephone contact after that time.

Zaghba also visited Butt’s home and had been allowed to drive his car, the inquest heard.

In March, all three attackers were at the Ummah fitness centre in east London.

It was in the same month, Mr Patterson said, that Butt had possibly been trying to buy a gun.

There was then a barbecue at Butt’s home in May, which Redouane attended, and those two men were in contact “again and again for months”, Mr Patterson said.

The court heard that, the day after the barbecue, Redouane bought three identical knives.

“Any reasonably competent investigation should have been looking at Redouane at this stage, I would submit,” Mr Patterson said.

Image copyright Metropolitan Police
Image caption Khuram Butt, Rachid Redouane and Youssef Zaghba carried out the London Bridge attacks

Det Ch Insp Jolley said he did not agree that there had been missed opportunities to stop the men and said police would have been working with the intelligence they were given.

The court heard that the three men were extremely careful with how they communicated, and even when their phones and other devices were examined after the attack, there was no evidence of their planning.

Mr Patterson said that there was one occasion in May when all three men were at the gym “in the dead of night” and were speaking together in the street, but one of them employed a “classic anti-surveillance technique” of leaving his telephone on the ground while they walked away and talked.

“The attack planning was there to be detected,” he suggested.

The court also heard that Zaghba had held extremist views since childhood.

He celebrated the 9/11 attacks and had the Islamic State group flags on his Facebook page, according to information from his mother.

Zaghba had also tried to flee abroad to fight for IS and had jihadist material on an SD memory card seized from him when he was stopped at an airport.

But Richard Horwell, the lawyer representing the Metropolitan Police at the inquest, asked: “In the months leading up the attack was there any evidence of any attack planning?”

Mr Jolley said: “Not that we uncovered, sir, no.”

The inquests continue.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-48476417

Jeremy Hunt warns over ‘hard-line’ Brexit approach

Jeremy HuntImage copyright EPA

Tory leadership candidate Jeremy Hunt has warned against taking a “very hard-line approach” in future Brexit talks.

The foreign secretary told the BBC this would provoke a “very hard-line response” from Brussels and would not resolve the current crisis.

He added that the UK had “made mistakes” in the negotiations with the EU so far.

The number of leadership candidates has risen to 12, with former Chief Whip Mark Harper declaring he will run.

Nominations for the contest to replace Theresa May as Conservative leader are due to open on 7 June, with the result expected in late July. The winner will also become prime minister.

Mrs May announced her resignation last week, amid widespread anger within the Conservative Party over her latest attempt to get her EU withdrawal plan through the House of Commons.

She lost three earlier votes on the issue and finding a way to break the parliamentary impasse is a central issue in the leadership contest.

Mr Hunt told the BBC’s Political Thinking with Nick Robinson podcast: “I don’t think this leadership campaign is ultimately going to be decided by personalities. It is going to be decided by solutions.”

“We need to deliver Brexit and my job is to make sure we have a debate about how we do that,” he added. “We must keep no deal [with the EU] on the table. I’ve been very clear that if ultimately there was a choice between no deal and no Brexit and you can only chose one of those two, I would chose no deal, but it’s not a choice that I want to have.”

Meanwhile Mr Harper, the latest Tory MP to enter the leadership race, said he believed the UK would need a “short, focused” extension to the current 31 October Brexit date to allow for a deal to be renegotiated.

He added: “My preference is to leave with a deal. I think that is what is best for the UK and the constitutional integrity of the UK, but if I am faced with the choice between not leaving at all and leaving without a deal, then I would leave without a deal – keep ‘no deal’ on the table.”

Meanwhile, the business lobby group the CBI has sent an open letter to all the Tory leadership contenders who have declared so far, warning that leaving the EU without a deal would do “severe” damage.

Who will replace Theresa May?

The winner of the contest to lead the Conservative Party will become the next prime minister.

Candidates need to gain nominations from two other MPs to enter the contest. The field will be whittled down one-by-one in a series of MPs’ votes.

The last two remaining candidates will then go to a vote among Conservative Party members.

On Thursday, former Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith said the number of MPs needed to nominate a candidate should be increased, in order to speed up the contest.

Charles Walker, co-chairman of the backbench 1922 Committee, which sets the rules on electing Tory leaders, said: “We’re not going to artificially limit the number of candidates who can stand.”

The declared candidates are:

  • Brexit Minister James Cleverly
  • Environment Secretary Michael Gove
  • Health Secretary Matt Hancock
  • Former Chief Whip Mark Harper
  • Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt
  • Home Secretary Sajid Javid
  • Former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson
  • Former Leader of the House of Commons Andrea Leadsom
  • Housing Minister Kit Malthouse
  • Former Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey
  • Former Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab
  • International Development Secretary Rory Stewart

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-48474428

Lightwater Valley theme park: Boy in ‘rollercoaster fall’ critically ill

Child in fall at Lightwater ValleyImage copyright Simon Moran/Getty Images
Image caption The boy is being treated for head injuries in Leeds General Infirmary

A seven-year-old boy believed to have fallen from a rollercoaster is in a critical condition, police have said.

Witnesses said he fell from the Twister rollercoaster at Lightwater Valley, near Ripon, North Yorkshire, on Thursday.

People reported hearing screams and seeing him “hanging backwards” from the carriage.

Police said the boy was taken to hospital with head injuries and was in a “critical but stable condition”.

He is being treated at Leeds General Infirmary.

North Yorkshire Police and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) are investigating.

The theme park tweeted it was “devastated” by the news of the boy’s condition.

It added: “While the Health and Safety Executive investigation is continuing, we will support them and be guided by their advice.”

Eyewitness Mark Charnley said the boy was “hanging backwards outside the actual carriage”.

“Everybody started shouting to get the attention of the guy running the machine,” he said.

It is the second incident involving the same ride at the theme park.

In June 2001, 20-year-old Gemma Savage died when two of the rollercoaster’s cars collided.

Ms Savage, from Wath-upon-Dearne, South Yorkshire, was on a day out with friends from Durham University, where she was studying medical sciences.

Image copyright Simon Moran/Getty
Image caption The boy was airlifted from the theme park on Thursday

Her mother, Linda Savage said she was “devastated” to hear about the boy being injured.

“Our thoughts go out to this little boy and his family,” she said.

“It’s unbelievable that this has happened on the same ride, 18 years on. Why wasn’t the ride shut down?

“It’s incredibly distressing for us in the run-up to the anniversary of Gemma’s death.

“We didn’t know the ride was still in operation. It should have been shut down permanently. It’s about time the whole place was closed down.

“We felt powerless then, and we feel powerless now. Our hopes and prayers go out to the little boy’s family, and we hope he makes a full recovery.”

The theme park’s owner, the manufacturers of the ride and an electrician were all later fined for health and safety breaches over Ms Savage’s death.

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https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-york-north-yorkshire-48474770