The Telegraph 2024-02-16 18:00:40


Alexei Navalny, Russian opposition leader to Putin, dies in prison

Alexei Navalny, the imprisoned opponent of Vladimir Putin, has died in his Arctic jail.

The Russian opposition leader “felt ill” on Friday after a walk, “almost immediately lost consciousness” and died soon after, prison authorities said.

Mr Navalny had been serving a 19-year sentence under brutal conditions, after being convicted in a string of cases he and his allies said were politically motivated.

Seen as Mr Putin’s most vociferous and potent critic, he had been poisoned and harried through the courts, but had refused to flee Russia.

Rishi Sunak described the death of the 47-year-old lawyer and anti-corruption activist as a “huge tragedy [for] the people of Russia”.

“As the fiercest advocate for Russian democracy, Alexei Navalny demonstrated incredible courage throughout his life,” the Prime Minister said.

‘Putin should be held accountable’

Lord Cameron, the Foreign Secretary, told reporters on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference “we should hold Putin accountable” for his death.

Antony Blinken, the US secretary of state, said Russia was “responsible for this”.

“His death in a Russian prison, and the fixation and fear of one man, only underscores the weakness and rot at the heart of the system that Putin has built,” Mr Blinken said in Munich.

Kamala Harris, the US vice-president, said Navalny’s killers “will be brought to justice”. 

“We should fight this horrific regime… this regime and Vladimir Putin should be personally held responsible for all the atrocities they have committed in these last years,” she added.

Mr Navalny’s death was also quickly condemned as murder.

Stephane Sejourne, France’s foreign minister, said Mr Navalny had “paid with his life for his resistance to a system of oppression”. He added: “His death in a penal colony reminds us of the reality of Vladimir Putin’s regime.”

Dmitry Muratov, the Russian newspaper editor and 2021 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, told Reuters he believed the death was “murder”, brought on by the conditions in which Mr Navalny had been held.

Volodymyr Zelensky said it was “obvious” that Putin was behind it, “like thousands of others who were tortured to death because of this one man”.

Russian news agency Interfax reported that doctors had spent 30 minutes attempting to resuscitate Mr Navalny, with state press service Tass adding that his cause of death was “being established”.

Targeted for assassination

Mr Navalny had previously been poisoned in an attempted assassination. In 2020, while campaigning in Siberia ahead of regional elections, he became seriously ill on a flight from Tomsk to Moscow, and tests later confirmed that he had been exposed to Novichok, a complex Soviet nerve agent.

His family flew him to Berlin, where he remained in a medically induced coma to recover. 

After he returned to Russia, he was imprisoned in 2021. His sentence was extended in August 2023, with harsh conditions including a ban on talking to cellmates and constant exposure to light.

That sentence was condemned by Washington as politically motivated and “an unjust conclusion to an unjust trial”.

Mr Navalny had, by then, for years been the most prominent opposition politician in Russia and had led major street protests against corruption and Putin’s regime.

His supporters long feared he would die in prison, an eventuality Joe Biden, the US president, said in June 2021 “would be devastating for Russia”.

“Tortured in prison”

In December, Mr Navalny went missing from his prison colony for two weeks, later re-appearing at the “Polar Wolf” colony in the Arctic Circle, which is considered to be one of the country’s toughest jails.

He was “fine” when a lawyer visited him at the prison on Wednesday, his main legal counsel Leonid Solovyov told Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta.

The newspaper published video footage of him appearing in court on Thursday, which it said showed him “healthy and cheerful”.

Dmitry Gudkov, the exiled Russian opposition politician, said: “Even if Alexei died of ‘natural causes’, they were triggered by his poisoning and the ensuing torture in prison. (Navalny’s) blood is on Putin’s hands.”

Jens Stoltenberg, secretary general of Nato, said Russia must be made to answer “all the serious questions about the circumstances of his death”.

The Kremlin said it had “no information” on how Mr Navalny died.

Leonid Volkov, Mr Navalny’s former campaign manager and one of his closest advisers, said a lawyer was on his way to the remote prison colony where he had been held, in Yamal, western Siberia, to confirm his death.

Kira Yarmysh, Mr Navalny’s spokesperson, said there was currently “no confirmation”.

Russia will hold a presidential vote in March, which is expected to hand Putin a fifth term as president.

Moscow has for years sidelined opposition figures, a clampdown that intensified after the Kremlin ordered Russian troops into Ukraine in 2022.

Boris Nadezhdin, a vocal opponent of the war, was disqualified from standing in March’s election despite earning the 100,000 signatures necessary to get on the ballot.

Live Wellingborough and Kingswood by-elections live: Tory members want me instead of Rishi Sunak, claims Nigel Farage

Nigel Farage has claimed Conservative members want him to lead the party instead of Rishi Sunak after the Tories suffered two further by-election defetas in Wellingborough and Kingswood.

Mr Farage, who is the honorary president of Reform, told BBC Radio 4: “I think if you asked Tory Party members right now, they’d vote for me to be leader and not Rishi Sunak and that I have no doubt at all and that’s backed up by polling.

“But look, let’s focus on this general election. I’m backing Reform, we’ll have to see what active role I play, and maybe, maybe after the Tories lose heavily, maybe they’ll actually rethink what they actually stand for. Let’s see.

“What we do need in this country is a centre-Right government at the election after this that believes in a small state, encourages entrepreneurship, controls its borders and actually believes in this country. That’s what I believe we need.”

Asked if he was ruling out the possibility of leading the Tories, Mr Farage replied: “At some point in time people like myself and Jacob Rees-Mogg have to be in the same party. Whether that’s Reform, whether that’s the Conservatives, whether that’s something new, I don’t know. But logically, that wing of the Conservative Party and Reform have to be on the same team.”

Reform finished third in both the Kingswood and Wellingborough by-elections as Labour snatched the seats away from the Tories.

Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg said the Right-wing of British politics must “reunite” in order to stop Sir Keir Starmer entering 10 Downing Street “by the back door”.

Mr Sunak said: “A vote for anyone who isn’t the Conservative candidate, whether that’s Reform or anyone else, is just a vote to put Keir Starmer in power.”

You can follow the latest updates below and join the conversation in the comments section here.

Prince Harry: King’s cancer can ‘reunify’ Royal family

Prince Harry has suggested the King’s illness could help “reunify” the Royal family as he discussed the monarch’s cancer diagnosis for the first time in public.

In an interview with US breakfast television show Good Morning America, Prince Harry said “I love my family” and that he was “grateful” to be able to spend time with his father last week.

The Duke’s whirlwind visit to see the King for around 45 minutes prompted speculation the two men, estranged since he stepped down as a working royal, may be on the point of rebuilding their relationship.

In the interview, aired on ABC, it was suggested a family illness could have a “reunifying effect”, and when Prince Harry was asked “is that possible in this case?” he replied: “Yeah, I’m sure.”

The Duke of Sussex and his wife Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, are in Canada staging events with Invictus competitors to mark a year to go until Prince Harry’s Invictus Games, for wounded and sick veterans and military, is staged in the country.

The Duke and Duchess are being followed by a film crew led by Will Reeve, the son of the late Superman star Christopher Reeve, who interviewed the Duke in the winter sports town of Whistler, which is hosting the 2025 Invictus Games alongside Vancouver.

Gesturing towards Invictus competitors, Prince Harry said: “Throughout all these families I see it on a day-to-day basis, the strength of the family unit coming together.

“I think any illness, any sickness brings families together.”

Buckingham Palace has not given details about the King’s cancer and Prince Harry declined to divulge any information when asked about his “outlook” on the King’s health, replying “that stays between me and him”.

But he said he would be visiting his father in the future: “I’ve got other trips planned that would take me through the UK or back to the UK, so I’ll stop in and see my family as much as I can.”

There was no meeting between the Duke and his brother the Prince of Wales last Tuesday after Prince Harry spent time with the King at Clarence House.

The breakdown in the bond between the brothers can be traced back to the early period of Prince Harry’s relationship with wife Meghan, when his then-fiancee had a falling-out with the Princess of Wales in the run-up to their wedding.

Since stepping down as working royals in 2020 and moving to California, the Sussexes have aired allegations and grievances against the monarchy and members of the Royal family which have also soured relations.

Speaking to Reeve, Prince Harry said: “Look, I love my family.

“The fact that I was able to get on a plane and go and see him and spend any time with him, I’m grateful for that.”

The Duke was asked about his life in the United States, something he described as “amazing”, and whether he had contemplated becoming a US citizen, with Prince Harry saying he had “considered” it.

He added: “The American citizenship is a thought that has crossed my mind but certainly not something that’s a high priority for me right now.”

Asked how he “processed” what was going on with his family in the UK, Prince Harry replied: “I have my own family, as we all do. My family, and my life in California is as it is.”

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are bringing up their two children, Prince Archie, aged four, and two-year-old Princess Lilibet, in the celebrity enclave of Montecito in California.

Prince Harry said: “The kids are doing great, the kids are growing like all kids do very, very fast. They’ve both got an incredible sense of humour – make us laugh and keep us grounded every single day, as most kids do.

“I’m just very grateful to be a dad.”

During the interview, footage was shown of Prince Harry trying the skeleton bobsleigh, one of the winter sports being introduced at the Invictus Games next year for the first time.

The Duke said hosting the biennial games, and the one year to go events, were his “… annual fix, to be among this community and have a laugh, have fun – no matter which nation they’re from the banter’s the same.

“I get a lot of energy just from being around these guys.”

Seven migrants found in lorry at Newhaven ferry port

Seven migrants have been found in the back of a cross-Channel lorry, prompting a rapid investigation from emergency services, according to local reports.

The lorry is said to have arrived at the East Sussex port of Newhaven on the Seven Sisters passenger ferry, arriving from Dieppe on Friday morning.

Border Force and police were at the scene on Friday, while pictures show several ambulances in attendance.

Sussex police said: “A man has been arrested on suspicion of facilitating illegal entry to the UK, and a second man has been arrested for illegally entering the UK.

“The ambulance service has taken six further people to hospital for treatment.”

A South East Coast Ambulance spokesman said: “We were called at 9.40am this morning to an incident at Newhaven Ferry Port.

“A range of ambulance resources have attended, including our HART [Hazardous Area Response Teams], alongside other emergency service partners.”

Responding to media reports about the incident, Maria Caulfield, the MP for Lewes, which includes Newhaven, said online: “Very concerned about these reports. From my office in Newhaven we can see lots of activity opposite at the port and thanks to the emergency services responding.”

It is understood the lorry driver has been arrested on suspicion of facilitating illegal entry to the UK. Six migrants have been taken to hospital and one has been arrested for suspected illegal entry.

The Home Office do not believe any migrants have died but this is yet to be formally confirmed.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “Border Force are supporting emergency services in response to an incident at Newhaven Ferry Port.

“While the incident is ongoing, it would be inappropriate to comment further.”

Cat Deeley and Ben Shephard named new This Morning presenters

Cat Deeley and Ben Shephard have been confirmed as the new presenters of ITV’s This Morning after the departure of Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby last year.

The long-serving double act’s 14-year tenure on the morning show ended in acrimony in May when Schofield admitted lying about an extramarital affair with a younger male colleague.

Deeley and Shephard have both guest-presented the programme since then and will take up the reins permanently on Mondays to Thursdays from March onwards.

Alison Hammond and Dermot O’Leary will continue to present on Friday mornings.

Deeley’s appointment marks her return to mainstream television presenting in Britain for the first time since Stars in Their Eyes in the mid-2000s.

The 47-year-old, who shot to fame in the late 1990s as a co-presenter of ITV’s Saturday morning children’s programme SM:TV Live with Ant and Dec, said the pair would “do our best to take care” of This Morning.

She said: “This Morning is and always will be the viewers’ show.

“Ben and I both know how much people love it, and with the help of an amazing team of people, we’re going to do our best to take care of it.”

She later moved to the United States where she was nominated for five Emmy Awards for presenting the dance talent show So You Think You Can Dance? between 2006 and 2022.

Shephard, 49, moves over from presenting ITV’s breakfast programme Good Morning Britain on Thursdays and Fridays.

“This really feels like a very special moment for Cat and I to be part of the next chapter of This Morning,” he said.

“It’s an honour to be trusted with the reins, join Alison and Dermot and all the team that work on and off screen and do such a great job.”

Schofield quit ITV in May after admitting to an “unwise, but not illegal” relationship with a male colleague more than 30 years his junior.

Willoughby remained on the show in the aftermath, telling viewers she hoped to “start this new chapter and get back to a place of warmth and magic that this show holds for all of us”.

But she quit This Morning in October in the wake of an alleged plot to kidnap and murder her.

She had been on a period of leave and said she chose to step back “for her family”.

O’Leary and Hammond stepped in for the pair in their absence, with Josie Gibson and Craig Doyle also presenting.

The appointments of Deeley and Shephard represent what bosses will hope is a turning point after a turbulent 10 months since the allegations against Schofield first emerged.

Martin Frizell, This Morning’s editor, said: “The team and I have relished the opportunity to try new things these past few months and remind viewers what a massively talented team both on and off screen we have here at This Morning.

“We can’t wait to welcome Ben and Cat fully into the fold next month and witness the start of another exciting chapter in the show’s 35-year journey.”

Hammond competed in the third series of Big Brother in 2002 and in 2020, with O’Leary, replacing Eamonn Holmes and Ruth Langsford as This Morning’s Friday presenters.

O’Leary started his career as a DJ on BBC Essex and won his television break in 1998 on Channel 4’s T4.

He is most famous for presenting The X Factor and also hosts a Saturday breakfast show on Radio 2.

Willoughby continues to present ITV’s Dancing on Ice after walking away from This Morning and taking a two-month hiatus at the end of last year.

Live Putin is responsible for Navalny’s death, says Biden – follow latest

Vladimir Putin is responsible for the death of Alexei Navalny, Joe Biden said in a press conference held after the Russian opposition leader’s death.

The US President said: “Make no mistake: Putin is responsible for Navalny’s death… What has happened to Navalny is yet more proof of Putin’s brutality.

“No one should be fooled, not in Russia, not at home, not anywhere in the world. Putin does not only target the citizens of other countries, as we’ve seen with that’s going on in Ukraine right now – he also inflicts terrible crimes on his own people.

“[Navalny] was so many things that Putin was not. He was brave, he was principled, he was dedicated to building a Russia where the rule of law existed and where it applied to everybody.

“Navalny believed in that Russia – he knew it was a cause worth fighting for and obviously even dying for.”

Watch the press conference in full above.

Being good-looking is a bad career move if you went to a lowly university

Attractive people might seem to have hit the jackpot in the evolutionary lottery, but when it comes to job hunting, they do not hold all the winning numbers, research suggests.

Cambridge University has discovered that a pretty face can actually prevent people from gaining a job interview if it is not complemented by a good education.

Likewise, more visually-challenged candidates could end up struggling to be hired if they went to a good university.

Experts at Judge Business School, Cambridge believe the phenomenon occurs because hirers become confused by candidates who do not fit into normal expectations.

Attractive people are generally expected to be better educated, and more successful while the opposite is true for unattractive people. When applicants do not follow the pattern, recruiters assume they will be a bad fit for both high and low status positions.

Christopher Marquis, Sinyi professor of Chinese management at Cambridge, said: “Basically, our findings suggest that the inconsistent signals sent by (conflicting) cues lead to more uncertainty for the evaluator and so a lower likelihood of that applicant being selected.

“Our study focuses not only on characteristics such as attractiveness and education, but how particular status combinations fit with the job context involved.”

For the study, the researchers sent 2,095 fictitious CVs to employers in China, where headshots are included in job applications.

The resumes were completed as if from eight different candidates who varied in sex, university status and attractiveness.

The team received 193 callbacks from companies and found a “striking pattern”. The four most successful candidates had either a combination of lower university status and lower attractiveness or higher university status and higher attractiveness.

In contrast, the four least frequently called-back applicants had lower university status and higher attractiveness, or higher university status and lower attractiveness. There was no difference in sex.

The team believes good-looking people from elite educational institutions send out “unambiguous signals of competence” but both traits must be there to succeed.

More entitled and less hardworking

Some studies have shown that more attractive job candidates are more likely to be hired, but others suggest employers might disfavour attractive candidates – perhaps because they perceive them as more entitled and less hardworking, or assume they will have more options and leave quickly.

Previous research has also found that people who look visibly happy are deemed to be more hireable than those with a more sombre expression, be it a frown or serious demeanour.

The University of Toronto found that a smile exudes confidence and willingness in applicants, the study authors said, as well as making a person seem more attractive.

However the University of Maryland discovered that good-looking men are less likely to be given a job in a competitive workplace environment than their plainer competitors.

It was hypothesised that attractive men are often seen as more competent, and so those who will be working alongside them are unlikely to want increased competition.

The Maryland team also found that women considered to be good looking faced a struggle when they applied for jobs more usually associated with men or positions for which appearance was not seen as being important to the job.

The new study will be published in the American Journal of Sociology.