INDEPENDENT 2024-02-15 00:04:10


Marjorie Taylor Greene hits out at David Cameron’s Nazi appeaser comparison

Hard-right Republican congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene said British Foreign Secretary David Cameron “can kiss my a**” after he urged the US Congress to pass aid to Ukraine and avoid repeating the mistakes of the past, citing the appeasement of Nazi leader Adolf Hitler in the lead-up to the Second World War.

The Democratic Senate has already passed a bill which would send further aid to Ukraine but the legislation faces a steep uphill climb in the House.

In an op-ed published in The Hill on Wednesday, Lord Cameron wrote: “As Congress debates and votes on this funding package for Ukraine, I am going to drop all diplomatic niceties. I urge Congress to pass it.”

“I believe our joint history shows the folly of giving in to tyrants in Europe who believe in redrawing boundaries by force,” he added. “I do not want us to show the weakness displayed against Hitler in the 1930s. He came back for more, costing us far more lives to stop his aggression.

“I do not want us to show the weakness displayed against Putin in 2008, when he invaded Georgia, or the uncertainty of the response in 2014, when he took Crimea and much of the Donbas — before coming back to cost us far more with his aggression in 2022,” Lord Cameron, a former UK prime minister, argued. “I want us to show the strength displayed since 2022, as the West has helped Ukrainians liberate half the territory seized by Putin, all without the loss of any NATO service personnel.”

James Matthews of Sky News asked Ms Greene: “David Cameron says that you should vote through funding for Ukraine. What do you say to that?”

“I think he tried to compare us to Hitler also,” Ms Greene said, mixing up the appeasers, whose conduct Lord Cameron did cite, and the Nazi leader.

Ms Greene has previously faced criticism for making comments comparing the use of masks during the pandemic to the Holocaust. She later visited the Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC and apologised for the remarks.

Speaking about Lord Cameron on Wednesday, Ms Greene told Sky News: “If that’s the kind of language he wants to use, I really have nothing to say to him.”

“He likened you can do to an appeaser for Hitler, in not voting through funding for Ukraine, are you an appeaser for Putin?” Matthews asked.

“I think that I really don’t care what David Cameron has to say. I think that’s rude name-calling, and I don’t appreciate that type of language. And David Cameron needs to worry about his own country, and frankly, he can kiss my a**,” she added.

Meghan Markle responds to Sussex.com website backlash

The Duchess of Sussex has defended her and Harry’s new Sussex.com site following a spate of criticism.

Meghan Markle praised the “attention to detail” and “creativity and care” of the designers, after critics pointed out the couple were told to drop use of HRH when they quit as working royals. Even their use of the title Sussex was debated at Buckingham Palace.

Responding to criticism, Meghan Markle said: “They’re not just designers; they are collaborators who elevate your ideas into visual identities. They’re a very special company. Plus they’re Canadian, so I’m a fan.”

Prince Harry has arrived in Vancouver alongside Meghan to discuss next year’s infamous Invictus Games after a shock relaunch of their website from Archewell to Sussex.com, in honour of their royal roots.

King Charles returned from the capital to Sandringham after having his latest bout of cancer treatment and was pictured smiling with the Queen as he arrived at Clarence House.

The Duke and Duchess flew into Vancouver from Santa Barbara after a shock relaunch of their website from Archewell to Sussex.com, honouring their royal roots.

Police officer describes horrifying moment Constance Marten’s baby was found in Lidl bag

Jurors have been shown the horrifying moment police discovered the remains of Constance Marten and Mark Gordon’s baby covered in leaves in a rubbish-filled shopping bag.

The infant, named Victoria, was found by officers in a disused allotment shed strewn with rubbish, out of date food and a blue tent, a court heard.

Police footage from body cameras played to the Old Bailey on Wednesday showed officers rifling through a tatty red Lidl carrier bag, pulling out nappies and an old Budweiser beer can before reaching into the bottom of the bag where the child’s body was discovered.

Marten, 36, who was in court wearing a pink blouse and black trousers, appeared to shake her head in the dock alongside Gordon, 49, after the distressing footage was played.

The couple both deny gross negligence manslaughter of their newborn daughter, whose remains were eventually found in the disused shed covered in rubbish “as if she was refuse”, the court heard.

The prosecution allege the couple’s “reckless and utterly selfish” behaviour led to the “entirely avoidable” death of the infant, after the pair spent weeks on the run living in a tent in freezing conditions to avoid the child being taken into care.

Giving evidence, PC Allen Ralph told the Old Bailey that the first thing he and a colleague noticed was the smell when he entered the shed in an abandoned area of a Brighton allotment on 1 March last year.

“I remember saying to him [his colleague] directly, either something is dead in there or something has died,” he told the court.

The officers discovered the bag for life tucked in a corner “out of the way” under a makeshift table – on which there was out of date milk and bread.

He added: “I lifted it and it was heavy and there was no reason for it to be heavy from what I could see inside.”

Asked what he could see, he continued: “To be fair I remember it quite clearly it was just a lot of rubbish. The only thing that made me bring it out more is I found two newborn baby nappies. That’s the first thing I could see.

“And then underneath that there was a pink rolled up bloody blanket. And then underneath that there was the rubbish, there was cans there was bottles. There were leaves – a lot of leaves – in the bag.”

PC Ralph said he saw what looked like the head of a doll in the bag, the court heard.

Forensics later arrived and confirmed the bag contained the remains of a deceased female infant.

Other items found in the bag included a quantity of soil and leaves, two golf club score cards, a bottle of petrol, a baby grow, a black blanket, some pages from the Sun newspaper dated 12 January, an old coke can and an egg mayonnaise sandwich packet with a 15 January use by date, the court heard.

In footage played to the court of a tearful police interview after the baby was found, Marten referred to Gordon as her husband and broke down as she told officers how she fell asleep with the infant inside her jacket, before waking up to find her dead.

“I had her in my jacket and I hadn’t slept properly in quite a few days and I fell asleep holding her sitting up and when I woke up she wasn’t alive…I believe I fell asleep on top of her,” the court heard.

She told the officers she had wanted to hand herself in, but was worried about the media coverage, and kept her daughter’s body so she could have a post mortem examination, having considered burying her or cremating her with petrol.

“So I have been carrying her around not knowing what to do really,” she added.

Explaining why they fled after their car caught fire on the M61 on 5 January, leaving her handbag, £2000 and a placenta wrapped in a towel in the burnt out car, she responded: “I panicked and didn’t want them to know who I was because I assumed they would take Victoria away so we ran away from the scene.”

She insisted wanted to keep the baby after her other four children were taken into care, telling the officer: “I wanted to keep her and parent her. I didn’t want…them to take her away from me.” She added: “Because my other four children were taken away from me so they would have taken her. I wanted to protect her from that.”

The tearful interview recorded at 9.15pm on 1 March came after she responded “no comment” in two previous police interviews after the couple was arrested on 27 February after almost eight weeks on the run, jurors were told.

In transcripts read to court, Gordon demanded to be treated with respect during a police interview as detectives were still searching for the baby, insisting: “I don’t think I should be talked to like a nobody.”

Jurors were told how Gordon refused to respond to questions about whether his child was dead or alive but demanded pain killers from police.

The Old Bailey heard he had seen a nurse about his swollen feet and numb hands before the interview began at Worthing Police station, but demanded to see a doctor.

“Like I’m getting sub-par treatment and I don’t think I should be talked to like a nobody…I should be treated with respect,” the court heard.

“I don’t appreciate being looked down on and talked to like I’m a nobody. Yes I’m in custody but it doesn’t mean I’m a nobody.”

Last week the court heard how Marten claimed her name was Arabella and told police “you can’t arrest someone for hiding a pregnancy” after she was arrested in Brighton at 9.35pm on 27 February.

The aristocrat was also heard begging “please stop – he’s not been well” as Gordon was handcuffed and pinned to the ground after they were spotted by a member of the public.

The couple were heard telling each other they loved one another shortly after they were captured by police, the court heard.

The pair both deny manslaughter by gross negligence of their daughter between 4 January and 27 February last year.

They also deny charges of perverting the course of justice by concealing the body, concealing the birth of a child, child cruelty and allowing the death of a child.

The infant’s remains were found in a plastic bag in a locked shed at an overgrown allotment in the Hollingbury area of Brighton on 1 March. The discovery came after Marten and Gordon were arrested in nearby Stanmer Villas.

The trial, scheduled to last until 8 March, continues.

Ukraine says it has destroyed Black Sea ship as Putin’s troops advance

Ukrainian forces have repelled over 50 of Putin’s attacks along the frontline as troops destroyed a large Russian military ship off the occupied peninsula of Crimea.

The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said 64 combat engagements occurred across seven regions of the front throughout Wednesday. Russia launched 4 missile strikes, 91 air strikes and 83 attacks, according to the Ukrainian military.

It comes as a Ukrainian news outlet published several videos showing a column of smoke rising over the sea off the southern coast of Crimea, as well as helicopters flying over the sea.

“The Ukrainian Armed Forces, together with the Defence Ministry’s intelligence unit, destroyed the Tsezar Kunikov large landing ship,” the military said. “It was in Ukrainian territorial waters near Alupka at the time of the hit.”

Meanwhile, the Ukrainian military warned that Vladimir Putin’s troops have advanced along the “entire front line” in Ukraine as Kyiv was forced to switch to defensive operations, the country’s military warned.

Family who left arranged marriage bride in vegetative state are jailed

A family who left an arranged marriage bride in a vegetative state after she was forced to take pills and doused with a corrosive substance has been jailed.

Ambreen Fatima Sheikh was 30 when she was “tricked or forced” to take the anti-diabetes drug glimepiride – which induced catastrophic brain injury – after she was brought to the UK from Pakistan following an arranged marriage, Leeds Crown Court heard.

Ms Sheikh was also doused in a caustic substance, probably some kind of cleaning fluid, which left severe burns, as she was abused in the house in the days leading up to her admission to hospital on 1 August 2015, a judge said on Wednesday.

It was initially thought Ms Sheikh, who is now 39, would die but, when her ventilator was turned off in hospital, she began to breathe for herself. The court heard that she has been left unaware of herself or her environment, without motor response or response to pain, and will never recover. Prosecutors said she only survives by being fed through a tube and will eventually die as a consequence of what happened to her, although this may not happen for many years.

Sentencing judge, Ms Justice Lambert said: “It is difficult to imagine a more serious injury, short of death.”

On Wednesday, Ms Sheikh’s husband, Asgar Sheikh, 31, was jailed for seven years and nine months along with his father, Khalid Sheikh, 55, and his mother, Shabnam Sheikh, 52. Asgar Sheikh’s brother, Sakalayne Sheikh, 25, was given a six-month sentence, suspended for two years, and his sister, Shagufa Sheikh, 29, was given an 18-month sentence, also suspended for two years.

The court has been told:

The court heard that Ms Sheikh came to the family’s home in Clara Steet, Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, in 2014 after an earlier arranged marriage with Asgar in Pakistan. The judge said she rarely left the house and never by herself. She had no independent income, no friends in the UK and could speak only a little English.

None of the family gave evidence in court and the judge said she could not say for sure when the abuse began.

The trial heard evidence that, soon after Ms Sheikh arrived in the UK, the family were not happy with her housework and chores, and Khalid Sheikh had suggested she should be sent back to Pakistan.

Concerns were raised by members of the extended family and two police officers carried out a welfare check in July but reported Ms Sheikh as being fit and well. The judge said she attached “little weight to that assessment” because Ms Sheikh spoke little English and her father-in-law was present during the visit.

She said she did not know who administered the corrosive substance, which left severe burns on Ms Sheikh’s lower back, bottom and right ear, and must have left her in considerable and lasting pain. And she said she did not know who “tricked or forced” her to take the glimepiride, which was prescribed to Shabnam Sheikh and is extremely dangerous to non-diabetics, even in small doses.

The judge decided there was a two to three-day delay between Ms Sheikh falling unconscious and the family calling an ambulance, during which she became highly dehydrated and inhaled fluids which may have exacerbated her brain injury.

Even when the family called 999, they lied about what had happened to her, the judge said.

“You would all have been aware of her pain and distress,” she said. “It’s just not realistic to conclude that you did not all know of Ambreen’s predicament and her desperate need for emergency medical care. You all also knew why she was in that condition.”

The court heard that Ms Sheikh is now being looked after in a palliative care setting and will not recover but could live for decades more.

She was in good health before her collapse and there is some evidence that she was a teacher in Pakistan, the court heard. One witness said she was “intelligent, bright, ambitious and happy-go-lucky” before she moved to the UK, and the judge said she was someone who would “light up a room”.

The judge said Ms Sheikh’s father is now dead and her mother is in poor health in Pakistan. She has seven siblings and one of her brothers has been over to visit her.

Asgar, Khalid, Shabnam and Shagufa Sheikh were all found guilty after a trial of allowing a vulnerable adult to suffer physical harm after a trial last year.

The offence carried a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison at the time of the offence but this has since been increased by Parliament to 14 years.

Asgar, Shabnam and Shagufa Sheikh were also found guilty of doing an act intending to pervert the course of justice.

All five defendants were found guilty of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

Following sentencing, DCI Matthew Holdsworth of the homicide and major enquiry team, said: “This has been an awful case in which a young, healthy woman has been catastrophically injured and robbed of her future by the very people she should have expected to protect her.

“While Ambreen still technically lives, it is tragically believed she may never regain consciousness.

“I am grateful that justice has at least been delivered for Ambreen today and that those responsible for her suffering have been punished for the truly wicked offences they committed.”

Unmissable New York State experiences

Is David Cameron’s policy on Palestine more progressive than Labour?

Lord Cameron was a controversial as well as surprising appointment as foreign secretary last November. The fact that he’s not directly accountable to the elected House of Commons triggered legitimate complaints, while the Tory right resented someone they thought a dangerous Remainer centrist being brought into government (notwithstanding the fact that it was he who granted them their in/out EU referendum).

In any case, Cameron, as a former prime minister, seemed to have been put in to amplify post-Brexit Britain’s voice in the world, and he has quietly set about that task by starting some radical initiatives. He’s taken a bold message on Ukraine directly to the US Congress, for example. In a remarkable departure, the old smoothie has declared in their journal, The Hill: “I am going to drop all diplomatic niceties. I urge Congress to pass it [an aid to Ukraine bill]…I do not want us to show the weakness displayed against Hitler in the 1930s.” But his emerging diplomacy in the Middle East is more portentous still…

We must throw harsh light and scrutiny on sexual abuse in hospitals

Such is the nature of the crimes, we may never know the true extent of the sexual abuse of vulnerable people in mental health hospitals. But collaborative investigations by The Independent and Sky News do go some way to tracing the extent of the scandal – and it is far wider than previously supposed.

Recently, an exposé by The Independent revealed that there had been almost 20,000 allegations of sexual assault and harassment on mental health wards in the past five years. Now we can add to that grim, almost unimaginable scale of callousness and human misery a further 4,000 such cases – which have been reported by patients and staff in private hospitals. Given that many of the victims are in a poor position to press their complaints, and the usual institutional instinct is to ignore, deny, and then cover up such incidents, it may be safely assumed that this total of 24,000 or so incidents is an underestimate – and quite possibly a grievous one.

The allegations, of which there are so many, seem well corroborated. The clinical negligence firm Leigh Day, a major player in the field, has said that across the cases it sees, NHS trusts are negligent – not only of those in their care, but towards their statutory duties under the European Convention of Human Rights (which would require them to ensure allegations of sexual harm are “coherently investigated”).