The Telegraph 2024-02-27 16:30:26

JK Rowling says ‘I’m sick of this s—’ after transgender cat killer is called a woman

JK Rowling has criticised a transgender cat killer and murderer being referred to as a woman as it emerged judges have been told to refer to defendants by the pronouns they want.

Scarlet Blake, a 26-year-old who was born male but identifies as female, was sentenced to life in prison with a 24-year minimum term at Oxford Crown Court on Monday for murdering a stranger.

Rowling, the Harry Potter author, who has been vocal about her gender-critical beliefs and views on transgender issues, spoke out after Sky News described Blake as a woman.

Sharing a clip of the news show video on Twitter, the author wrote: “I’m sick of this s—. This is not a woman. These are #NotOurCrimes.”

It comes as it emerged that guidance for judges tells them to “respect” the gender identity of those who appear in court.

The guidance, which features in the Equal Treatment Bench Book, says: “It should be possible to respect a person’s gender identity and their present name for nearly all court and tribunal purposes, regardless of whether they have obtained legal recognition of their gender by way of a Gender Recognition Certificate.”

It also tells judges that a person’s gender status should not be disclosed unless it is necessary and relevant to the legal proceedings.

The Sky News headline read: “BREAKING: A woman who filmed herself killing a cat before putting the animal in a blender has been jailed for life for murdering a man four months later.”

In a separate post, the author added: “Crime statistics are rendered useless if violent and sexual attacks committed by men are recorded as female crimes. Activists are already clamouring for this sadistic killer to be incarcerated in a women’s prison.

“Ideologically driven misinformation is not journalism.”

Blake had live-streamed a video in which a cat was strangled, skinned and dissected before its body was put in a blender. After the dissection, Blake tells the camera in a monosyllabic tone: “One day I want to learn how to do this to a person”.

Months later, Blake hit Jorge Martin Carreno over the back of the head with a vodka bottle in July 2021 and choked him before pushing him into the River Cherwell, where he drowned. Blake will be sent to a men’s prison for the murder.

Rowling’s comments came after a writer for the Guardian announced that she was boycotting the newspaper for failing to tell its readers that Blake was transgender.

Louise Tickle, an award-winning journalist who had written for the Guardian for more than 20 years, accused it of “deceiving its readers” for using the word “woman” in its headline and omitting the fact Blake was transgender in an article covering the case.

Tickle accused the newspaper of “actively deceiving readers into believing that there is a sudden upsurge in women engaged in violent, homicidal and sexually motivated criminality”.

“It is disgraceful. There is no excuse for it. Sometimes people suggest that the anger around this kind of factually inaccurate reporting is overblown, performative, unkind, or petty. It is not,” she wrote.

The Guardian has now included a note under its online article to say the following: “This article was updated on 23 February 2024 to add further details and biographical information, including reference to Scarlet Blake’s transgender identity, which were not included in the agency copy on which our initial version relied.”

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Prince William pulls out of godfather’s memorial service for ‘personal reasons’

The Prince of Wales pulled out of a memorial service for his godfather, King Constantine of Greece, at the eleventh hour on Tuesday, citing “personal” reasons.

Kensington Palace refused to disclose further information but insisted that the Princess of Wales, who is recovering from abdominal surgery, “continues to be doing well”.

A source said only that the Prince was “no longer able to attend due to a personal matter”.

He is expected to attend a planned engagement on Thursday at a synagogue where he will discuss the rise of anti-Semitism with young campaigners, and another public event on Friday.

William, 41, who was to give a reading at the service at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, on Tuesday morning, called the Greek royal family to inform them he would no longer be attending.

The Queen led members of the Royal family after the King was also forced to pull out following his cancer diagnosis.

Charles, 75, a great friend and second cousin of King Constantine, had been staying at Windsor Castle but left by helicopter before the service began. He was not expected to meet any members of the Greek royal family privately as he continues his cancer treatment.

Dozens of foreign royals travelled to Windsor to attend the service, flying in from Spain, Jordan, Denmark, Bulgaria, Serbia and the Netherlands.

The Duke of York, making a rare public appearance, led a group of his own family members, including his ex-wife Sarah, Duchess of York and Princess Beatrice. Zara and Mike Tindall arrived at the chapel by coach.

The Duke, who attended in a personal capacity on the invitation of the Greek royal family, was warmly greeted on arrival by the Right Rev Christopher Cocksworth, the Dean of Windsor, and sat in the front row.

The Princess Royal, 73, who has just returned from Namibia, where she attended a memorial for late president Hage Geingob on behalf of the King, was also present, with her husband, Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence.

They were joined by the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, Princess Alexandra, 87, who was in a wheelchair, and her daughter, Marina Ogilvy, and the Duke of Kent, 88.

Other guests at the sombre, hour-long service included Sir Jackie Stewart, the former Formula One world champion, and Penny Knatchbull, Countess Mountbatten of Burma, both close friends of the Royal family.

The Queen, 76, smiled as she arrived at the entrance to the chapel shortly before 11am in a navy wide-brimmed hat, a matching pinstripe blazer and skirt.

As she took her seat inside, she had a brief chat with Princess Anne, who was sitting next to her.

The Dean, who gave the bidding, said King Constantine, who was forced into exile following a military coup, had “lived through times of great change and challenge”.

He added: “We give thanks for his unwavering commitment to the good of his people, his steadfast love of his wife and family, his ability to face the future with hope and faith even in the face of adversity.”

The first reading, Ithaka by C P Cavafy, was read by King Constantine’s children – Princess Theodora, Prince Nikolaos, Princess Alexía and Prince Philippos.

The bible reading, Revelation 21. 1–7, that Prince William was due to give was instead given by the late King’s elder son, Crown Prince Pavlos.

The service ended with the Russian Orthodox chant known as the Kontakion of the Departed, which was sung at the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral in April 2021.

The Queen later hosted a private reception for guests including Queen Anne-Marie, former Queen of the Hellenes, at Windsor Castle, just a stone’s throw from Adelaide Cottage, home to the Prince and Princess of Wales and their children.

The Princess was admitted to the private London Clinic for abdominal surgery on January 17. She was discharged almost two weeks later and is now recuperating at home in Windsor. She is not expected to return to work until after Easter.

The Prince of Wales immediately cancelled all engagements in his own diary to look after his wife and their three children. He has carried out only a handful of public duties since she was discharged.

The King was admitted to the London Clinic for treatment for an enlarged prostate just days after his daughter-in-law underwent surgery.

During the procedure, further tests were carried out and it emerged days later that he had an undisclosed form of cancer, prompting him to cancel all public-facing duties as he undergoes treatment.

King Constantine, Greece’s final King, who reigned from 1964 until 1973, died on January 10 last year, aged 82.

The Princess Royal and Sir Timothy represented the British Royal family at his funeral, held in Athens a week later.

Constantine was godfather to both Prince William and Lady Gabriella Windsor, the daughter of Prince and Princess Michael of Kent.

He was a first cousin once removed and sailing partner of the late Duke of Edinburgh and enjoyed a close friendship with the King.

It was at his 60th birthday party at Highgrove in 2000 that Prince Charles finally introduced Camilla Parker Bowles to his mother, Elizabeth II.

The young King Constantine, who had won Olympic gold in sailing, was initially hugely popular.

But he had squandered much of that support with his active involvement in the machinations that brought down the popularly elected Centre Union government of prime minister George Papandreou.

The episode, still widely known in Greece as the “apostasy” or defection from the ruling party of several politicians, destabilised the constitutional order and led to a military coup in 1967.

Constantine eventually clashed with the military rulers and was forced into exile.

The dictatorship abolished the monarchy in 1973 and a referendum after democracy was restored in 1974 dashed any hopes Constantine had of reigning again.

He lived in exile for many years in Hampstead Garden Suburb in north London, before returning to his home country in 2013.

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Britain’s wonkiest pub must be rebuilt ‘brick by brick’

The owners of Britain’s wonkiest pub have been ordered to rebuild Crooked House after it was unlawfully demolished.

South Staffordshire Council served an enforcement notice to the owners of the pub after a fire and subsequent demolition of the building in August last year.

Despite engaging with the owners since the demolition, the council said formal action was deemed necessary.

The notice requires Crooked House to be restored to its original state within three years. Its owners have 30 days to appeal.

The building was demolished, with just the foundations and segments of a wall remaining intact, following a fire at the 18th-century pub in Himley, near Dudley in the West Midlands.

Police previously said the fire was being treated as suspected arson, with five men and one woman arrested in connection with the incident.

A request for listed status for the Crooked House was submitted a week before it burnt down and Andy Street, the West Midlands mayor, called it to be rebuilt “brick by brick” after the destruction.

Historic England previously said it was keen to “consider all possible avenues”, with the local council hoping to see the pub reconstructed.

Marco Longhi, the MP for Dudley North, said: “The demolition of the Crooked House shook our community here in Dudley and across the Black Country, so it’s fantastic news that an enforcement notice has been served on the owners for demolition without consent.

“The Crooked House owners are now required to rebuild the site back to its former glory and I will not rest until the Crooked House is built back brick by brick.”

The enforcement notice was served on Adam and Carly Taylor and the company secretary of Warwickshire-based ATE Farms Ltd, which bought the inn from pub operator Marston’s. 

Issued by South Staffordshire District Council, the notice said the demolition of the building constituted a breach of planning controls.

The notice reads: “The unauthorised demolition of the building resulted in the loss of a community facility of local historic significance and interest.

“At the time of demolition, Historic England was in receipt of an application to list the Crooked House. However, due to its demolition, Historic England did not have the opportunity to assess it and determine if it was suitable for listing.”

The order also specifies the pub should be rebuilt “so as to recreate it as similar as possible to the demolished building” before it was razed by a digger on August 5 last year.

Roger Lees, the council leader, said: “A huge amount of time and resources have been put into investigating the unauthorised demolition of the Crooked House.

“We have had great support from the local community, our MPs and the Mayor of the West Midlands, and from the campaign group whose aim is to see the Crooked House back to its former glory, which is the key objective of the enforcement notice.

“We have not taken this action lightly but we believe that it is right to bring the owners, who demolished the building without consent, to account and we are committed to do what we can to get the Crooked House rebuilt.”

A Staffordshire Police investigation into the circumstances around the blaze continues, and anyone with information is being urged to contact the force.

Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, welcomed the order for the 18th-century pub to be restored in a tweet.

In a message posted on the Save The Crooked House (Let’s Get It Re-Built) Facebook page, Mr Street thanked the group’s 35,000 members for their “tireless” campaign.

He wrote: “Hi everyone, today is obviously a monumental day in the campaign to get the Crooked House rebuilt.

“South Staffordshire District Council deserve enormous credit for holding their nerve and pursuing this enforcement action.

“However it would never have happened if it wasn’t for the tireless work of each and everyone one of you in this group. What you have done to keep the Crooked House at the forefront of people’s minds has been exceptional, and as Mayor I want to personally thank you all.

“I said at the time of the tragedy that the owners had messed with the wrong community, and you haven’t half proved that right. Thank you.”

The last landlord of the pub has welcomed the decision for it to be rebuilt.

Lee Goodchild, 46, ran the establishment from September 2022 until it shut down in June 2023.

Mr Goodchild said: “I think it’s excellent news. Whether it will ever open as a trading pub remains to be seen, but at least people are going to get to see the Crooked House rise again.”

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Police hunt woman over ‘corrosive substance attack’ at Tube station

Police are hunting a woman after a suspected corrosive liquid was thrown over two boys in a London Tube station on Saturday.

Just after 8pm, the boys reported having a liquid thrown on them at Elm Park Tube station in Havering, east London.

British Transport Police are searching for the culprits and and released CCTV footage of three people on Tuesday.

The woman of interest has long brown hair and is seen walking along a Tube platform wearing a white top and carrying a puffer jacket.

Walking beside her is a person wearing a black face covering, a baseball cap and a black puffer jacket.

Another CCTV image captures the pair approaching the barriers with a man in a black jacket.

Investigating officer Det Insp Marvin Bruno said: “Violence in any form will not be tolerated on the rail network and we would like to reassure the travelling public that our officers are working tirelessly to identify and apprehend those responsible.

“We are really keen to speak to the people in the images, or anyone else who witnessed the incident, as we believe they have information which could help our investigation.

“If you know them or have any information that might help, please get in touch.”

The boys were treated at a hospital and their injuries are not thought to be life-threatening or changing.

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Live Post Office latest: I was victim of smear campaign, Henry Staunton tells MPs

Former Post Office chairman Henry Staunton has said that he is a victim of a “smear campaign” after a fallout with Business Secretary Kemi Badenoch.

“We all know that things were moving far too slowly … and the reason why people have latched onto what I said in the Sunday Times was that finally someone was being honest about how deep seated the problems were and why nothing was being done,” he told MPs on the Business and Trade Committee.

“I still think that more could be done, at least to make compensation more generous, and the process of getting justice less bureaucratic.

“But I will at least have achieved something if the sunlight of disinfectant, which the Secretary of State so approves of, means that Government now lives up to its promises.

“What the public wants to know is why was everything so slow? … And why does everything remain so slow? I’ve spoken up on matters of genuine public concern, have been fired, and am now subject to a smear campaign.”

Follow the latest updates below and join in the conversation in our comments section

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BBC apologises over Huw Edwards sex scandal

The BBC has apologised to the family of the young man at the centre of the sex scandal involving Huw Edwards, after a review found that the corporation mishandled their complaint.

Edwards, who was the BBC’s highest-earning newsreader, was suspended in July last year over a claim that he had paid £35,000 to the man, who was 17 when the alleged relationship began, in exchange for sexually explicit images.

The family contacted the BBC in May to raise their concerns but the complaint was not escalated to senior management.

An independent review, conducted by Deloitte and published on Tuesday, found that “the potential wider significance of this issue for the BBC was not recognised” by the corporate investigations team that received the complaint.

The mother contacted a tabloid newspaper with her claims once her attempts to speak to the BBC failed. The resulting scandal led to Edwards being taken off air in July, and he has not appeared since.

Leigh Tavazia, the BBC’s group chief operating officer, said: “Although our existing processes and systems are, on the whole, working effectively, this review shows that we need to join them up better to ensure no matter how a non-editorial complaint comes into the BBC it is escalated swiftly, when needed, and dealt with by the right people.

“Where the review identifies process improvements we accept those in full, and we are delivering on an action plan with a number of enhancements already in place.

“The report identifies specific process shortcomings in the presenter case. The initial complaint in this case was not escalated quickly enough to senior management and we have apologised to the complainant for this.”

Failings of the system

The review found that the complaint was not logged on the case management system contemporaneously, “meaning that there was no opportunity for wider visibility of the case within the BBC”.

It also found “insufficient” documentation recording what internal inquiries or searches were carried out at the time by the corporation investigations unit, which tried and failed to contact the family.

The review stated: “There was no documented process for contact with the complainant and/or follow up, such that when initial attempts to contact the complainant were unsuccessful, the steps to be taken were not sufficiently clear and the process followed was not documented.”

When the story of the alleged sex scandal was initially reported, the presenter’s identity was not disclosed, leading to days of speculation.

But Edwards’s wife, Vicky Flind, finally named him in a statement, revealing that he was being treated in hospital for “serious mental health issues”.

The BBC is conducting a second investigation into Edwards’s behaviour. Two police forces concluded that the presenter had no criminal case to answer.

The mother’s husband made the first contact with the BBC on May 18 2023, at the corporation’s Cardiff offices, and was directed to Audience Services.

Audience Services escalated the complaint to corporate investigations on May 19 but it was only referred to the “Specialist Case Management Framework” reserved for serious matters on July 6, after the allegations had appeared in the press.

A lawyer for the young person at the centre of the allegations told the BBC last year that the mother’s claims to The Sun were “totally wrong and there was no truth in it”. The lawyer added that “nothing inappropriate or unlawful has taken place between our client and the BBC personality”.

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Royal Air Force Cadets told to stop saying ‘marksman’

The Royal Air Force Cadets (RAFC) have been branded “over-sensitive” after ordering members to stop using the word marksman as part of a “gender neutral” rebrand.

Teenage cadets and adult instructors have been ordered to stop using the centuries-old term as part of an overhaul of shooting badges that members can earn.

An internal RAFAC document issued this month and seen by The Telegraph says: “The new nomenclature is gender-neutral; the terms ‘marksman’ and ‘marksmanship’ must not feature when referring to the new shooting badges.”

It comes as part of a long-running row within the Ministry of Defence over diversity policies that have led the Defence Secretary to intervene amid fears about combat effectiveness.

Grant Shapps has said that time and resources are being “squandered to promote a political agenda” within his department.

Last year, General Sir Patrick Sanders, the Chief of the General Staff, said he was “deadly serious” about changing military rank names to be more gender inclusive.

The RAF dropped the terms airman and airwoman in 2021 in favour of aviator and renamed the rank “aircraftman” to “air specialist”.

The year before, the Royal Navy said it was moving away from “gendered language” by replacing the term “unmanned” with “uncrewed”.

The term marksman is defined in the Cambridge Dictionary as “someone skilled at shooting accurately”.

‘PR stunt’ 

An Air Cadet instructor with years of marksmanship training experience said he thought the rebranding exercise was being carried out to make certain senior staff look good.

“What gets me is that they’re putting these new changes on social media, which to me looks like they’re doing it as a PR stunt as they never normally publish badge amendments on socials,” said the instructor.

A leading shooting organisation said the move did not appear to be based on any complaints about language used in shooting training.

Tim Bonner, chief executive of the Countryside Alliance, said: “Great women shots like Annie Oakley have always been complimented on their marksmanship.

“In the absence of anyone actually being upset by the description, it looks as though the Air Cadets are being over-sensitive.”

The RAFAC is a Ministry of Defence-sponsored organisation for those aged between 12 and 19.

Shooting training in the RAFAC is carried out with air rifles, precision target rifles that fire live ammunition, and a cadet-specific version of the military-issue SA80 rifle.

The cadet forces use military training methods to teach young people how to safely handle potentially dangerous equipment in a structured environment, fostering self-discipline and personal responsibility.

Last year it emerged that transgender Air Cadets were being allowed to wear “chest binders” under rules that prevented local squadron commanders from telling their parents about their children’s desire to transition to another gender unless given permission by the child.

Cadets who have begun transitioning are “permitted to use facilities, such as toilets and ablutions” of the gender of their choosing, the policy also said.

The Telegraph has disclosed that the military has 111 diversity champions and advocates, and 93 separate “diversity networks” for personnel to discuss issues including race, gender and mental health.

‘Woke culture poisons discourse’

Earlier this month, Mr Shapps said there was a “woke culture that has seeped into public life over time and is poisoning the discourse”. He has commissioned a formal review into how widespread the MoD’s diversity policies are.

Maj Gen Julian Thompson, commander of 3 Commando Brigade in the Falklands war, previously said: “The setting up of multiple roles to champion diversity in the Armed Forces will only deplete the combat effectiveness of our troops. We did not win in the Falklands by waving the LGBT flag, or talking to each other about diversity.”

The MoD was approached for comment.

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