Britain To Reveal Post-Coronavirus Recovery Plan

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street in central London on June 24, 2020, to attend Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) at the House of Commons. Ben STANSALL / AFP.

 

The British government will on Wednesday unveil a mini-budget to kickstart economic growth after the coronavirus shutdown, with a jobs scheme for young people and investment in infrastructure among the big ticket measures.

Britain has suffered Europe’s deadliest outbreak of COVID-19 and a nationwide shutdown led to the worst economic contraction among the G7 leading industrialised states.

In a statement to parliament at 1130 GMT, finance minister Rishi Sunak will detail a £2 billion (2.2-billion-euro, $2.5 billion) jobs scheme for young people at risk of long-term unemployment.

He has also already announced £3 billion of green investment, after Prime Minister Boris Johnson vowed to “build, build, build” out of the economic crisis.

“As Britain recovers from the outbreak, it’s vital we do everything in our power to support and protect livelihoods across the nation,” Sunak said ahead of the statement.

The investment package includes £2 billion in grants for households to insulate homes and make them more energy efficient, and another £1 billion for public sector buildings, including hospitals.

The plan is part also of Britain’s long-term pledge to reduce carbon emissions to net zero by 2050 to tackle climate change.

In addition, Sunak is reportedly set to announce plans to reduce stamp duty, which is levied on real estate transactions, to boost the property market.

Yet he is not expected to alter Britain’s emergency jobs retention plan, or furloughing, under which the government pays up to 80 percent of salaries for private sector workers.

It is currently supporting more than nine million jobs, part of a series of multi-billion-pound packages to help those affected by the impact of the outbreak, but is due to end in October.

Since the global pandemic hit Britain in mid-March, more than 44,000 people confirmed to have COVID-19 have died.

Infection rates have now slowed and schools, shops and the hospitality industry are gradually reopening.

“Four months on from the outset of coronavirus, we have slowly and carefully reopened much of our economy, and we can now begin our national recovery,” Sunak told parliament Tuesday.

However, he acknowledged that “we cannot protect every single job”.

– Financial ‘hole’ –

Britain imposed a nationwide lockdown on March 23 to halt the spread of COVID-19 but has gradually begun easing restrictions in the hope of boosting ailing businesses.

Recent official data showed that the UK’s biggest quarterly contraction for more than 40 years — at minus 2.2 percent — in the January-March period.

However, the data included only the first full week of the lockdown and economists expect subsequent damage to be considerably worse for the second quarter.

Another contraction would place Britain in a technical recession.

Since the crisis began, the Bank of England has pumped cash stimulus worth £300 billion into Britain’s virus-hit economy and slashed its main interest rate to a record-low 0.1 percent — moves aimed at propping up businesses and saving jobs.

Experts estimate the total cost of state emergency measures meanwhile could run as high as £300 billion.

“As the UK begins to emerge slowly from lockdown, focus now turns to plugging the eye-popping £300 billion hole left in the UK’s finances by COVID-19,” said analyst Tom Selby at stockbroker AJ Bell.

“The chancellor will have to weigh up his desire to kickstart the economy after its slumber with the need to raise extra revenue via the tax system.”

Selby said “a strong recovery should boost tax receipts and lower the amount spent on benefits, automatically improving the government’s balance sheet.

“The chancellor may decide to front-load the ‘good news’ items on Wednesday as he attempts to kickstart the economy — and save the tax nasties for his Autumn budget,” he added.

AFP

UK PM Johnson Warns Israel Against Annexation Plan

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street in central London on June 24, 2020, to attend Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs)a at the House of Commons – ˜Ben STANSALL / AFP.

 

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned Israel Wednesday against going ahead with plans to annex parts of the West Bank, calling them illegal and against the Jewish state’s own interests.

“I am a passionate defender of Israel,” he wrote in an article published in Hebrew on the front page of Israel’s top-selling daily, Yediot Aharonot.

“So it is with sadness that I have followed the proposals to annex Palestinian territory,” he added.

“I am fearful that these proposals will fail in their objective of securing Israel’s borders and will be contrary to Israel’s own long-term interests.”

Israel’s coalition government has agreed July 1 as the date from which it can begin implementing US President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace proposal, which paves the way for annexations of Jewish West Bank settlements and potentially the Jordan Valley.

“Annexation would represent a violation of international law,” Johnson wrote, adding that it would also jeopardise “the progress that Israel has made in improving relationships with the Arab and Muslim world.

“I still believe the only way to achieve true, lasting security for Israel, the homeland for the Jewish people, is through a solution that allows justice and security for both Israelis and Palestinians,” Johnson wrote. “I refuse to believe that this is impossible.”

Last month, in a rare op-ed in an Israeli newspaper, the Emirati ambassador to Washington, Yousef al-Otaiba, warned that annexation of parts of the West Bank would jeopardise any warming of Arab-Israeli ties.

Describing it as the “illegal seizure of Palestinian land”, Otaiba said “plans for annexation and talk of normalisation are a contradiction”.

AFP

UK PM Johnson Vows ‘Rooseveltian’ Response To COVID-19 Crisis

PM Johnson Says UK Anti-Racism Protests 'Hijacked By Extremists'
In this file photo taken on April 12, 2020 A handout image released by 10 Downing Street, shows Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson as he delivers a television address after returning to 10 Downing Street after being discharged from St Thomas’ Hospital, in central London on April 12, 2020. Pippa FOWLES / 10 Downing Street / AFP.

 

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Monday the coronavirus crisis needed the type of massive economic response US president Franklin D. Roosevelt mobilised to deal with the Great Depression.

Johnson told The Times newspaper’s new radio station that Britain was heading for “bumpy times” as it struggles through its biggest economic contraction on record.

He intends to unveil a spending programme in a speech Tuesday his office has simply dubbed “build, build, build”.

“I think this is the moment for a Rooseveltian approach to the UK, really really moving forward,” said Johnson.

“I really think the investment will pay off.”

Roosevelt launched the New Deal programme in the 1930s that created a comprehensive social care system whose legacy lives on to this day.

The first part of Johnson’s initiative earmarks £1 billion ($1.2 billion, 1.1 billion euros) for school repairs.

“The country has gone through a profound shock. But in those moments you have the opportunity to change and to do things better,” Johnson said.

“We really want to build back better, to do things differently, to invest in infrastructure, transport, broadband — you name it.”

READ ALSO: EU Trade Chief Hogan Drops Out Of WTO Race

Johnson’s interview with Times Radio comes a week before the full reopening of restaurants, pubs and other parts of the hospitality, tourism and cultural sectors in England for the first time since March 20.

A full lockdown was imposed three days later, and has been one of the longest in Europe.

As restrictions ease nationwide, the UK’s first local lockdown may soon be introduced in the central city of Leicester to deal with a reported spike in virus cases.

“I think the crucial thing is that we are ready to crack down on local flare-ups,” Johnson said.

“That’s why you’re seeing the steps that are being taken in Leicester.”

Johnson admitted that his own near-death experience with COVID-19 — he was treated at an intensive care unit in early April — made him reassess his hands-off approach to Britons’ general fitness.

Some data suggest that people who are overweight have a higher mortality rate from the new virus.

Johnson has admitted he is on a diet and said Monday he “lost some weight” while recovering.

“I have taken a very libertarian stance (on fitness). But when you compare us to other countries, we are significantly fatter,” he said.

AFP

UK PM Johnson Says Will Not Ignore Anger Over Racial Injustice

In this file photo taken on April 12, 2020 A handout image released by 10 Downing Street, shows Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson as he delivers a television address after returning to 10 Downing Street after being discharged from St Thomas' Hospital, in central London on April 12, 2020. Pippa FOWLES / 10 Downing Street / AFP
In this file photo taken on April 12, 2020 A handout image released by 10 Downing Street, shows Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson as he delivers a television address after returning to 10 Downing Street after being discharged from St Thomas’ Hospital, in central London on April 12, 2020. Pippa FOWLES / 10 Downing Street / AFP.

 

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has acknowledged the “cold reality” behind angry protests against racial injustice, but warned he would not tolerate violence or the breaking of coronavirus distancing laws.

Demonstrations have broken out across Britain following the death of George Floyd in the United States, most of them peaceful, although clashes in London left 35 police officers hurt.

“We simply cannot ignore the depth of emotion that has been triggered by that spectacle of a black man losing his life at the hands of the police,” Johnson said in a statement late Monday.

“In this country and around the world his dying words — I can’t breathe — have awakened an anger and a widespread and incontrovertible, undeniable feeling of injustice, a feeling that people from black and minority ethnic groups do face discrimination: in education, in employment, in the application of the criminal law.

“And we who lead and who govern simply can’t ignore those feelings because in too many cases, I am afraid, they will be founded on a cold reality.”

He continued: “And so I say yes, you are right, we are all right, to say Black Lives Matter.

READ ALSO: Cyprus Welcomes First Tourist Flights Since March

“And to all those who have chosen to protest peacefully and who have insisted on social distancing, I say, yes of course I hear you, and I understand.”

He said while Britain had made “huge strides… there is so much more to do — in eradicating prejudice, and creating opportunity, and the government I lead is committed to that effort.”

However, he warned the country was “in a time of national trial” as it battled the coronavirus outbreak, which has killed 40,000 people in Britain.

– ‘Bygone era’ –

“I will not support those who flout the rules on social distancing,” he said.

“And no, I will not support or indulge those who break the law, or attack the police, or desecrate public monuments.”

London protesters defaced the statue of World War II leader Winston Churchill in Parliament Square, and in Bristol, southwest England, crowds pulled down a statue of a notorious local slave trader.

“We have a democracy in this country. If you want to change the urban landscape, you can stand for election, or vote for someone who will,” Johnson said.

London mayor Sadiq Khan on Tuesday announced a review of the capital’s landmarks, including statues and road names, many of which he said “reflect a bygone era”.

“We must ensure that we celebrate the achievements and diversity of all in our city, and that we commemorate those who have made London what it is — that includes questioning which legacies are being celebrated,” he said.

AFP

UK PM Johnson Urges Global Effort At Vaccine Summit

In this file photo taken on April 12, 2020 A handout image released by 10 Downing Street, shows Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson as he delivers a television address after returning to 10 Downing Street after being discharged from St Thomas' Hospital, in central London on April 12, 2020. Pippa FOWLES / 10 Downing Street / AFP
In this file photo taken on April 12, 2020 A handout image released by 10 Downing Street, shows Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson as he delivers a television address after returning to 10 Downing Street after being discharged from St Thomas’ Hospital, in central London on April 12, 2020. Pippa FOWLES / 10 Downing Street / AFP.

 

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson called for a “new era of global health co-operation” as he prepared to host a vaccine fundraising summit on Thursday under the shadow of coronavirus.

The virtual meeting aims to raise $7.4 billion for immunisation programmes stalled by the pandemic, and will see the launch of a new fundraising drive to support potential COVID-19 vaccines.

“I hope this summit will be the moment when the world comes together to unite humanity in the fight against disease,” Johnson said in a statement.

The British leader added he hoped it would “inaugurate a new era of global health co-operation, which I believe is now the most essential shared endeavour of our lifetimes”.

More than 50 countries are taking part in Thursday’s meeting, as well as individuals such as philanthropist Bill Gates, and will raise funds for Gavi, the vaccine alliance.

Over the next five years, it wants to reboot halted programmes and provide vaccines at a much-reduced cost to some 300 million children.

READ ALSO: Armenia Hospitals Overwhelmed As COVID-19 Cases Surge

Gavi and its partners will also launch a financing drive to purchase potential COVID-19 vaccines, scale-up their production and support delivery to developing nations.

The pandemic has exposed new ruptures in international cooperation, notably with US President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the World Health Organization (WHO).

But Johnson said helping developing countries would benefit places such as Britain, which has suffered the worst coronavirus death toll in Europe.

“This support for routine immunisations will shore up poorer countries’ healthcare systems to deal with coronavirus — and so help to stop the global spread,” he told reporters on Wednesday.

“This virus has shown how connected we are. We’re fighting an invisible enemy. And no one is safe frankly until we are all safe.”

– All at risk –

Gates said that pharmaceutical companies had been working together to try and secure the required production capacity.

“It’s been amazing, the pharmaceutical companies stepping up to say ‘yes, even if our vaccine is not the best, we will make our factories available’,” he told BBC Radio 4.

“If you only have one factory, and it’s only making say 300 million doses a year, then the scramble for that would be very difficult.

“If you can get 10 of those factories and get three billion a year, then it’s not nearly as difficult.”

The coronavirus pandemic has killed more than 380,000 people since it emerged in China last December, according to an AFP tally of official sources.

Stay-at-home orders were imposed across the world, causing huge economic disruption and the suspension of many routine immunisation services.

The WHO, UN children’s agency UNICEF and Gavi warned last month that vaccine services were disrupted in nearly 70 countries, affecting some 80 million children under the age of one.

Polio eradication drives were suspended in dozens of countries, while measles vaccination campaigns were also put on hold in 27 countries, UNICEF said.

Recent Gavi-supported modelling from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine estimated that for every coronavirus death prevented by halting vaccination campaigns in Africa, up to 140 people could die from vaccine-preventable diseases.

“More children in more countries are now protected against more diseases than at any point in history,” said Seth Berkley, chief executive of Gavi.

“However, these historic advances in global health are now at risk of unravelling as COVID-19 causes unprecedented disruption to vaccine programmes worldwide.

“We face the very real prospect of a global resurgence of diseases like measles, polio and yellow fever, which would put us all at risk.”

AFP

UK PM Johnson Condemns George Floyd killing, Calls For ‘Lawful’ Protests

In this file photo taken on April 12, 2020 A handout image released by 10 Downing Street, shows Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson as he delivers a television address after returning to 10 Downing Street after being discharged from St Thomas' Hospital, in central London on April 12, 2020. Pippa FOWLES / 10 Downing Street / AFP
In this file photo taken on April 12, 2020 A handout image released by 10 Downing Street, shows Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson as he delivers a television address after returning to 10 Downing Street after being discharged from St Thomas’ Hospital, in central London on April 12, 2020. Pippa FOWLES / 10 Downing Street / AFP.

 

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday condemned the killing of George Floyd by police in the United States but declined to say whether he had spoken about the issue with key ally Donald Trump.

“I think what happened in the United States was appalling, inexcusable,” Johnson told lawmakers in parliament, in his first public comment on the case.

“We all saw it on our screens and I perfectly understand people’s right to protest what took place,” he added.

“Obviously I also believe that protests should take place in a lawful and reasonable way.”

But Johnson avoided answering questions as to whether he had raised the matter with the president, as Britain eyes a post-Brexit trade deal with the United States.

Floyd, an unarmed African-American, died last week after a police officer in the US city Minneapolis knelt on his neck, an incident captured on video by a witness. The officer concerned has been charged with third-degree murder.

The killing has prompted waves of angry and sometimes violent protests in cities across the country and around the world.

Johnson’s comments echoed those of British police chiefs Wednesday.

“We stand alongside all those across the globe who are appalled and horrified by the way George Floyd lost his life,” they said in a joint statement.

“Justice and accountability should follow.

“We are also appalled to see the violence and damage that has happened in so many US cities since then.”

The police chiefs appealed for people in Britain to “work with officers” as protests mount over Floyd’s killing, just as a nationwide coronavirus lockdown is being eased.

– ‘Challenging time’ –

Hundreds of people defied the virus restrictions and rallied in the British capital on Sunday, including outside the US embassy and in Hyde Park.

The Metropolitan Police said it arrested 23 people, and issued a further 10 people with fines for breaching the rules.

Protests also took place in other cities, including Liverpool and Manchester, and more are expected on Wednesday.

READ ALSO: Pope Reacts To Killing Of Floyd, Says Racism Is Intolerable

In their statement, police chiefs said they understood “people want to make their voices heard” but appealed to them “to work with officers at this challenging time”.

“The right to lawful protest is a key part of any democracy, which UK police uphold and facilitate,” they added.

“But coronavirus remains a deadly disease and there are still restrictions in place to prevent its spread, which include not gathering outside in groups of more than six people.”

Britain has its own fraught history of racism within policing, with a landmark 1999 report finding “institutional racism” within London’s police force.

The report was commissioned after the racist murder of a black teenager, Stephen Lawrence, at a bus stop in south London in 1993.

The police investigation was marred by a catalogue of failures that saw no one convicted until 2012.

Despite programmes of reform, a 2015 study by the Runnymede Trust, an educational charity which aims to promote a successful multi-ethnic Britain, found “systemic and institutional racism persists” within British policing.

“Britain is no stranger to racialised police violence,” it noted.

“Black and minority ethnic people are disproportionately represented in the criminal justice system at every level, from arrests to stop and search, to imprisonment, to deaths in custody.”

AFP

British Fighter Yarde Loses Father To Coronavirus

British Boxer, Anthony Yarde has lost his father to the coronavirus disease (COID-19). Credit: @thebeastyarde

 

British boxer Anthony Yarde urged the public to stay at home after revealing his father has died of the coronavirus. 

Yarde, who fought Sergey Kovalev for the Russian’s cruiserweight world title last year, said his father had been “fit with no health issues”.

Like many parts of the world, Britain is under lockdown in a bid to stop the spread of the pandemic.

There have been over 17,000 confirmed cases in Britain and Yarde, 28, called on people to respect the situation and stay at home.

“I’m a very private person and tbh I’m still in shock but maybe this can help people stay at home,” Yarde wrote on Instagram.

“My dad passed away from this virus yesterday and he was fit with no health issues. The more people go out and mingle the longer this isolation will last and the more it will spread.

“I’m not a doctor but I do know if you stay home you are less likely to catch it or pass it on. It’s seriously not worth the risk.”

A statement from Yarde’s promoter Frank Warren said: “Frank Warren and everyone at Queensberry Promotions would like to express sincere condolences to Anthony Yarde and his family after the untimely passing of his father.

“Coronavirus is an issue affecting all of us, but that doesn’t make the individual casualties any less tragic.

“We hope that his fans listen to Anthony’s heartfelt plea for people to take the government’s advice seriously so we can try and minimise the suffering of others.”

AFP

British Tourist Dies In Cape Verde After Contracting Coronavirus

This handout illustration image obtained February 27, 2020 courtesy of the National Institutes of Health taken with a scanning electron microscope shows SARS-CoV-2 (round blue objects) emerging from the surface of cells cultured in the lab, SARS-CoV-2, also known as 2019-nCoV, is the virus that causes COVID-19, the virus shown was isolated from a patient in the US. Handout / National Institutes of Health / AFP

 

A 62-year-old British man has died in Cape Verde after contracting COVID-19, the government said Tuesday, marking the West African archipelago’s first fatality from the disease.

The man arrived on the island of Boavista — a tourist hotspot and one of Cape Verde’s 10 islands — on March 9, and began showing symptoms a week later.

His condition “began to worsen, and unfortunately he died on Monday evening,” Health Minister Arlindo do Rosario said Tuesday.

All staff at the hotel where the man was staying are now in confinement, according to the authorities.

READ ALSO: Over 200,000 Coronavirus Cases Declared In Europe 

The British tourist was the first coronavirus case to be detected in the former Portuguese colony.

Authorities have detected two other cases on Boavista: one in a friend of the British tourist, the other in a 60-year-old Dutch tourist, whose case is considered worrying.

AFP

Britain Asks Public To Respect Coronavirus Lockdown

Police community support officers talk to a man on a street in Brighton, southern England on March 24, 2020 after the British government ordered a lockdown to help stop the spread of coronavirus. – Britain was under lockdown March 24, its population joining around 1.7 billion people around the globe ordered to stay indoors to curb the “accelerating” spread of the coronavirus. Glyn KIRK / AFP.

 

Britain’s leaders on Tuesday urged people to respect an unprecedented countrywide lockdown, saying that following advice to stay at home would stop people dying of coronavirus.

“Unless you stay at home, then the people you love most may die,” senior minister Michael Gove said in a round of broadcast interviews.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson late on Monday bowed to pressure to follow other European countries in shutting most shops and services, as the death toll reached 335.

Many streets were deserted on Tuesday morning, although reduced traffic still circulated in London and construction workers were being allowed to stay on site.

Pictures on social media showed packed rush-hour trains on the London Underground “Tube” network, but this is partly as a result of a dramatic reduction in services.

READ ALSO: Over 200,000 Coronavirus Cases Declared In Europe

Johnson said people must stay inside except to buy essentials and take daily exercise, but there were questions about how the new rules will be enforced.

“For those people who are determined to flout the rules, the police will have the tools in order to ensure that those people are penalised and punished”, Gove said, citing the risk of a fine.

– Police ‘very stretched’ –

But Britain’s police forces were thinly spread even before the outbreak, which has caused further shortages due to officers self-isolating.

Peter Fahy, the former head of police in Manchester, said clarification was needed, particularly on how to enforce a new rule banning gatherings of more than two people.

“Our police officers are already very stretched,” he told BBC television.

“It will require a huge amount of public support, public acceptance and public compliance.”

Britain has been slower than some of its neighbours to impose a shutdown to tackle the outbreak of COVID-19 sweeping the globe.

Johnson insists he has been following the scientific advice, but many commentators suggest his instinctive dislike of telling people what to do has played a part.

Last week, the government told people to maintain ‘social distancing’ and on Friday shut pubs, restaurants and cafes — only to see crowds of people packing parks and beaches over the sunny weekend.

“You must stay at home,” Johnson told the country in a televised address, which broadcast industry analysts said was watched by 27 million people, calling the situation a “national emergency”.

– ‘Eerily quiet’ –

AFP reporters on Tuesday morning reported quiet streets with shops shuttered and pavements emptied except for joggers.

On Hampstead Heath, one of London’s most popular open spaces, many people were out for an early morning walk with their dog or for a run.

Most followed park signs to keep two metres away from each other.

One south London supermarket was doing brisk trade from the minute it opened at 6:00 am (0600 GMT), although most shoppers were keeping apart.

One shop assistant said she had been worried about being stopped going into work.

“I got in at 4:30 am and the roads were eerily quiet. My manager told me to bring proof of where I work in case the police stopped me,” she told AFP but added she was not checked.

In Edinburgh, which relies on tourism, tour guides, buses, bagpipers on street corners were nowhere to be seen, as the Scottish capital turned into a ghost town.

The popular statue of Greyfriars Bobby — a Skye terrier who won hearts for guarding his master’s grave in the late 1800s — was covered by a medical face mask.

Johnson’s government has already announced unprecedented measures to help businesses and workers hit by the economic fallout, as latest statistics showed a record slump in industrial output.

New help is expected for the self-employed.

Lawmakers are also debating proposed emergency legislation to tackle the outbreak.

AFP

British Footballer Fashanu To Be Inducted Into Museum Hall of Fame

Former British footballer, Justin Fashanu, is to be inducted into the Football Museum Hall of Fame two decades after he committed suicide. Credit: Daily Cannon

 

Justin Fashanu, who in 1990 became the first English professional footballer to reveal he was gay, will be honoured on Wednesday by being inducted into the National Football Museum Hall of Fame.

Fashanu will be honoured on what would have been his 59th birthday — he hanged himself in May 1998 — an occasion also marked by a reminder from Manchester United that homophobia still exists in football.

Chelsea had issued a statement on Tuesday saying “a large group of Manchester United fans made unacceptable homophobic chants.

“A number of these away supporters were prevented from entering the stadium and others were ejected during the game.”

United also issued a statement in response.

Anti-gay chants “directed against Chelsea FC — or any other club — by some of our fans runs counter to our values,” read the statement.

“We were the first club to sign up to the TeamPride coalition and continue to collaborate with Stonewall and other anti-discriminatory organisations in this area.”

Fashanu’s niece Amal, who recalls her uncle’s tragic death when she was aged nine, will accept the award in Manchester.

Fashanu had a sublime talent and a penchant for scoring spectacular goals — one for Norwich against Liverpool in February 1980 was voted goal of the season.

Such efforts earned him a one million pound move to Nottingham Forest in 1981 — the first black player in British football to break that barrier — but he failed to click with the manager Brian Clough.

For Amal — who through the Justin Fashanu Foundation combats homophobia, racism and mental health problems in football — the award is long overdue.

“It is something quite important that is happening,” she told the Daily Mirror.

“It’s just like ‘wow’, he’s finally getting recognised and it is very, very impressive.

“People forget just how talented he was at football because he was gay.

“I was there at the museum four years ago and in my mind, I know this is bad, I was thinking, ‘Why isn’t Justin here?’

“It is a big move and a big step because they are recognising Justin on a whole new level now.”

  ‘Throw flowers at you’ 

Amal says there is still no appetite for her friends who play football and are gay to come out publicly.

“It would have to be a tough footballer. He would have to have a thick skin,” she said.

“It is still great, but I can’t lie and say it will be a rosy path and they are going to throw flowers at you.”

One person who found Fashanu’s coming out difficult to handle at the time was his younger brother John, Amal’s father, who accused Justin of being an “attention seeker”.

John — a muscular striker who was part of the ‘Crazy Gang’ Wimbledon side which stunned Liverpool in the 1988 FA Cup final — has changed his views and is now a trustee of the foundation.

“He (John) is championing the fact that there needs to be a change and we need to do it together to honour Justin,” said Amal.

AFP

Shard Stunt: Jailed British Daredevil Has No Regrets

British skyscraper climber George King gestures as he leaves HM Prison Pentonville in north London on January 10, 2020, on his release from imprisonment after free-climbing the London skyscraper, The Shard. DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP

 

 

A daredevil jailed for scaling The Shard skyscraper without permission or safety equipment walked free from prison Friday — and said climbing the London landmark was worth being jailed.

George King-Thompson, 20, was greeted by family and friends as he left London’s Pentonville prison after three months behind bars.

“I just saw it as success fee for achieving my dream so for that reason it was worth every second in there,” he told AFP moments after he was released.

“I’m happy it’s over… to be out in the open I feel like I’m floating.”

King-Thompson, a self-proclaimed “urban explorer”, was jailed in October for breaching a civil injunction on climbing the 309.6-metre-tall (1,016-foot-tall) tower, one of Europe’s tallest.

The six-month sentence, of which he served half, was criticised by supporters, including renowned free-solo climber Alain Robert — dubbed the “French Spiderman” for his own spectacular ascents.

Robert, 57, who has been scaling skyscrapers unaided around the world since 1994, flew to London from his current base in Bali, Indonesia, to greet King-Thompson upon his release.

“George’s case is quite insane,” he said, noting he himself had climbed different London towers six times without being jailed.

“I found it totally unfair, because if I am comparing the treatment that I’ve had over the last 20 years and what they did to this guy, it’s kind of disgusting.”

King-Thompson called Robert’s support “an honour”.

“He is the Muhammad Ali of urban free solo,” he said.

– Disproportionate –

King-Thompson, who had wanted to free-climb The Shard since first setting eyes on it aged 13, was initially given a police caution after conquering the pyramid-shaped building on July 8.

But the complex’s leaseholders, Teighmore, and another firm, LBQ Fielden, asked the High Court to jail him for breaching one of two injunctions against trespassing on the site.

The Shard had been previously targeted by so-called urban adventurers and Greenpeace activists.

King-Thompson, then 19, admitted he was aware of the injunction but “just did it anyway”.

His parents have said he did not understand the consequences, which they believe were disproportionate.

“He climbed a building… he should have had community service,” said his mother Hilary King-Thompson, 54, after hugging her son as he emerged through the prison gates.

“They just wanted George to be an example to everybody else — a deterrent,” added Dad Clive Thompson, 58.

Lawyers for the two firms declined to comment.

– ‘Mr Shard’ –

Despite breaching civil law and having no prior convictions, King-Thompson was sent to Pentonville in north London, which holds hardened criminals.

He said he regularly saw stabbings and attempted suicides there as well as cockroaches, rats and mice.

But he called it “a fascinating experience”.

“It’s a tough place but you can never let it get (you) down,” he added, noting he began work on a book to be released later this year.

“I never let myself feel sorry for myself. I just adapted to my environment and got on with it.”

He said other inmates “saw the humorous side” of his conviction. They nicknamed him “Mr Shard” and joked that he should climb his way out of jail, he added.

His mother said she hoped his climbing career could take now take a different route but he said: “I would never let adversity extinguish my spirit.

“I plan to shock the world again in 2020.”

AFP

Man Charged Over Deaths Of 39 People In UK Lorry

Police officers drive away a lorry, with black plastic visible at the rear, in which 39 dead bodies were discovered sparking a murder investigation at Waterglade Industrial Park in Grays, east of London, on October 23, 2019.

 

British police said Saturday they had charged a man arrested after a refrigerated truck was found earlier this week with 39 bodies inside with manslaughter and people trafficking.

Maurice Robinson, 25, from Northern Ireland, faces “39 counts of manslaughter, conspiracy to traffic people, conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration and money laundering”, police said.

Robinson was arrested shortly after the bodies were discovered in the truck at Purfleet on the River Thames estuary, after arriving on a ferry from the Belgian port of Zeebrugge early on Wednesday.

He will appear in court on Monday, Essex police said.

Three other people have been arrested in Britain in connection with the investigation, on suspicion of conspiracy to traffic people and manslaughter. They remain in custody.

They include a 38-year-old man and a 38-year-old woman from Warrington in northwest England, reportedly a couple. She is said to be the legal owner of the truck.

A 48-year-old man from Northern Ireland is also being held.

On Saturday, Irish police announced another arrest at Dublin port, of a man in his early 20s from Northern Ireland.

AFP