The Telegraph 2024-02-28 16:30:30

Prince Harry to appeal police protection ruling

Prince Harry will seek to appeal a High Court ruling over his right to automatic police protection in the UK after his claim was dismissed by a judge.

The Duke of Sussex is preparing to take his case to the Court of Appeal after it was rejected by Sir Peter Lane in a written ruling on Tuesday.

Harry took legal action over the February 2020 decision of the Executive Committee for the Protection of Royalty and Public Figures (Ravec) after being told he would no longer be given the “same degree” of protection when in the country.

But Mr Justice Lane dismissed the Duke’s challenge and concluded that there was no unlawfulness by Ravec in reaching its decision.

Harry, who was not present at the December hearing, lives in North America with wife Meghan and their children after the couple announced they were stepping back as senior royals in January 2020.

At a hearing in London in December, the US-based duke’s lawyers said he was “singled out” and treated “less favourably” in the decision by Ravec – a body that falls under the remit of the Home Office.

They said a failure to carry out the risk analysis and fully consider the impact of a “successful attack” on him meant the approach to his protection was “unlawful and unfair”.

The Government said Harry’s claim should be dismissed, arguing Ravec was entitled to conclude the Duke’s protection should be “bespoke” and considered on a “case-by-case” basis.

In his 52-page partially redacted ruling, Mr Justice Lane said Harry’s lawyers had taken “an inappropriate, formalist interpretation of the Ravec process”.

He added: “The ‘bespoke’ process devised for the claimant in the decision of 28 February 2020 was, and is, legally sound.”

The judge said he accepted comments from Sir Richard Mottram, the former chairman of Ravec, who said that, even if he had received a document setting out all of Harry’s legal arguments in February 2020, “I would have reached the same decision for materially the same reasons”.

Ravec has delegated responsibility from the Home Office over the provision of protective security arrangements for members of the Royal family and others, with involvement from the Metropolitan Police, the Cabinet Office and the royal household.

Harry returned briefly to the UK on Feb 6 without his family after making a transatlantic dash to be with his father following the shock news of the King’s cancer diagnosis.

The Duke’s lawyers told the judge in December that Harry believes his children cannot “feel at home” in the UK if it is “not possible to keep them safe” there.

The majority of the proceedings were held in private, without the public or press present, because of confidential evidence over security measures for Harry and other public figures.

Mr Justice Lane said his ruling contained redactions because if such information was made public it would have “a serious adverse impact on the individuals concerned, as well as being contrary to the public interest, including that of national security”.

Home Office lawyers had argued that the Duke was no longer a member of the group of people whose “security position” was under regular review by Ravec, but he was “brought back within the cohort in the appropriate circumstances”.

The court was told it was “simply incorrect” to suggest there was no evidence that the issue of impact was considered, adding that the death of Diana, Princess of Wales was raised as part of the decision.

Following the ruling, a Home Office spokesmn said: “We are pleased that the court has found in favour of the Government’s position in this case and we are carefully considering our next steps. It would be inappropriate to comment further.

“The UK Government’s protective security system is rigorous and proportionate.

“It is our long-standing policy not to provide detailed information on those arrangements, as doing so could compromise their integrity and affect individuals’ security.”

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Owners fined after 11 people broke backs at trampoline park

Eleven people broke their backs at a trampoline park and hundreds more were injured, leading to a group of concerned senior doctors visiting the site.

David Elliot Shuttleworth, 34, and Matthew Melling, 33, were the directors of Flip Out Chester, where a customer was injured the day after it opened and 270 more were hurt before it closed down two months later.

Some suffered “life-changing” spinal injuries and the number of people taken to A&E at the local hospital led to a delegation of medics visiting the site to see what was going on, Chester Crown Court heard.

Customers, including many children, were injured after using the Tower Jump, where people landed in a foam pit.

Nurse Liza Jones, 26, was one of 11 people to break their back. Speaking to MailOnline in November last year she said: “I had a burst vertebra, I was told in hospital that if there had been any movement, I could have ended up paralysed.

“I landed in the way I’d been told to, but I was one of three people who suffered broken backs that day. They were in the hospital next to me. We were told to land on our bottoms, but that puts all the force up through your spine.”

There was a “cavalier” approach to safety, the court heard, despite multiple people being injured on a daily basis.

The worst injured suffered damaged vertebrae, some resulting in life-long health problems, while many others suffered “knee to face” injuries causing dental and facial injuries. 

Shuttleworth, of Stoke on Trent, and Melling, of Spinningfields, Manchester, both pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to a single count of negligence under health and safety law between December 2016 and February 2017.

Judge Michael Leeming said that he was passing sentence on the basis the defendants were negligent rather than committing deliberate acts or cost-cutting at the expense of safety, and that he was constrained by the sentencing guidelines and the law.

They were fined and ordered to do community service.

He said: “There’s no evidence the company took any steps at all, including reasonably practical ones, to reduce or eliminate those risks. 

“Common sense says investigating why an accident has happened reduces the risk of further accidents.

“The sentence will be less than many people hoped for and many people think you deserve.”

Shuttleworth was fined £6,500 and Melling £6,300, with each ordered to complete 250 hours of unpaid community service.

Shuttleworth was also ordered to pay £50,000 costs and Melling £10,000 costs, to go towards the £250,000 prosecution costs and council investigation.

‘Risk of harm’

Earlier, the court heard both men had run a franchise business, Flip Out Stoke, and on Dec 10 2016 opened Flip Out Chester, a “wildly successful” operation, which had 200,000 customers in the two months it was open.

But just a day after opening, one person was injured using the Tower Jump, a feature of the park where customers could jump from a height of up to 5.3m (17ft 3in) into a foam pit below, which presented a “risk of harm” to anyone using it, the court heard.

Between the day of opening until Feb 3 2017, 270 members of the public suffered injuries using the Tower Jump, 11 suffering spinal injuries, four requiring surgery, with 123 injured by knee to face contact along with various other injuries including broken ribs and sprained wrists.

On Jan 6, a staff member broke a vertebrae after jumping from the tower. The next day, there were 11 accidents, six on Jan 13 and six on Jan 18.

Despite the injuries on a daily basis, the business continued to operate, the court heard.

On a single day, Feb 1 2017, three people suffered back injuries, all being taken to the Countess of Chester Hospital in the city.

‘Unfortunate attitude’

Staff there were already monitoring A&E admissions from Flip Out and decided they had to act. Medics sent a letter to the trampoline park and a delegation of senior doctors visited two days later.

The local council was also alerted and an investigation launched, with the Tower Jump closed on Feb 3 2017.

Judge Leeming said Shuttleworth had the “unfortunate” attitude which suggested minor injuries “go with the territory” at a trampoline park.

Both former directors, who both now earned about £80,000 each working as business consultants, had been “chastened” by the investigation and prosecution, the court heard.

The defendants’ company, Shuttleworth and Melling Ltd, went into liquidation in 2021. A number of personal injury claims are being pursued or have already been settled.

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Nigel Owens ‘prouder of Welsh farmer address than refereeing Rugby World Cup’

Nigel Owens has told crowds gathered for the Welsh farming protest that he was prouder to speak at the event than he was to referee the 2015 Rugby World Cup. 

The international rugby union referee and professional farmer said it was “an honour” to be addressing the 8,000-person strong demonstration outside the Senedd in Cardiff amid Welsh Government plans for a new sustainable farming scheme.

He said: “In 2015, I was very privileged to referee the World Cup final in Twickenham – the proudest moment of my career.

“But today I’m even prouder to come and speak in front of good, decent people. An honour to be here to speak and to support you today as a fellow farmer.”

The protest is aimed at challenging a Welsh Labour Government proposal that plans to overhaul EU-era subsidies and requires farmers to dedicate 20 per cent of their land to tree planting and wildlife. 

Some 5,500 rural jobs and around £200m in farming income could be lost under the new scheme, according to analysis conducted for the Welsh Government. 

Thousands have descended on Cardiff today in opposition to the change for what could be one of the largest farming protests Britain has ever seen.

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Animal activists ‘buy and rehome three of King’s pigeons’

Animal activists have claimed they purchased and rehomed three pigeons from the King’s Sandringham estate as they urged him to cut ties with pigeon racing.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) said the retired birds were bought at a charity auction earlier this year with documents showing the transfer from the Royal Lofts in Norfolk.

In a letter to the King, the group said it took ownership of the birds to “spare further suffering” and had moved them to a bird sanctuary in Wales where they will receive “the royal treatment”.

The pigeons have been renamed Vera, Cliff, and Dover in honour of Dame Vera Lynn who backed a Peta campaign to end pigeon racing before she died in 2020.

Peta has now called on the King to end the Royal family’s association with pigeon racing.

Suggestions of ill-treatment dismissed

Elizabeth II was a pigeon fancier and president of the Royal Pigeon Racing Association. She was said to have maintained a flock of up to 200 birds at Sandringham.

Peta activists say pigeon racing can be a “fatal pastime” for the birds, particularly over long distances in which pigeons are left exhausted and disorientated.

But the Royal Pigeon Racing Association said it rejected the statement that pigeon racing is a cruel sport.

In a statement provided to the BBC, Chris Sutton, the chief executive, dismissed suggestions of ill-treatment and added the welfare of the birds was “paramount” when taking part in long-distance racing.

He said: “Throughout their entire lifetime, during competition or at rest, we provide a secure and suitable environment.

“As fanciers we ensure that the pigeons receive the necessary training and support prior to competition, which we conduct at the appropriate time in the safest weather conditions.”

In response, a Sandringham spokesman said its pigeon loft “adheres to all standards and regulations required”.

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Young people choose TikTok over BBC for news

Twice as many young people get their news from TikTok than the BBC, a new report has revealed.

Over 40 per cent of 18 to 24 year-olds use the Chinese-owned app at least once a day to inform themselves about current events.

This is more than double the 19 per cent who reported that they go to the BBC for their news, according to a survey commissioned for strategic communications firm Charlesbye.

The report has raised concerns about the consequences of large numbers of people “dismissing regulated news sources” in favour of TikTok and other social media platforms.

It comes despite nearly two thirds of Gen Z claiming they were more likely to trust content from traditional news outlets than social media outlets.

But 37 per cent of young people admitted that social media feeds were still their primary news source, compared to 23 per cent preferring television channels and 13 per cent using newspapers.

Lee Cain, founding partner of Charlesbye, warned that the change in news consumption will lead to people “becoming more susceptible to fake news and conspiracy theories”.

“We are witnessing an increasingly fragmented news environment – with more channels, platforms and influencers all vying for consumers.

“This has resulted in a greater number of people dismissing regulated news sources in favour of echo chambers that reflect their existing views and prejudices.”

Mr Cain, a former Downing Street communications director, added: “These echo chambers will result in large sections of society becoming more susceptible to fake news and conspiracy theories – and we are already seeing its impact in everything from reduced vaccination rates to rising holocaust denial.”

In 2022, TikTok was forced to roll out measures to combat Holocaust denial on the app – after Unesco found 17 per cent of its content related to the topic either denied or distorted events.

Legally bound

The BBC is legally bound to present news with “due impartiality” and to report it with “due accuracy”.

The broadcaster, along with other news channels, is answerable to Ofcom on the question of impartiality and is expected to acknowledge and correct any “significant mistakes” on air.

TikTok, as with any social media platform, is not bound by such rules with any of its hundreds of millions of users able to upload content.

Several traditional media outlets, both broadcast and news print media, have set up channels on TikTok to appeal to a younger audience. BBC News has three million followers on the platform.

TikTok was banned on UK Government devices last year, following a security review. It has also faced intense calls for a ban in the US over its links to China.

The company that runs the social media platform has consistently denied that it is influenced by the Chinese government.

The research, which involved more than 8,000 people, also raised concerns about the effects of deep fakes on the political landscape.

Four focus groups were held where participants were shown online deep fakes of Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, and Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer.

When asked for their opinions on what they had seen, all participants assumed that the material was genuine.

Defending deep fakes

Participants continued to defend the sentiment of the material even after being told it was not real if it reinforced their existing values or prejudices, according to the report.

Earlier this month, Mr Khan said that an AI-generated deep-fake audio of him making inflammatory remarks before Armistice Day almost “caused serious disorder”.

Mr Cain said that it showed deep fakes, even if exposed not to be real material, “not only have the potential to spread disinformation but to further entrench and divide society, driving a wedge between opposing factions in what is an already polarised arena.”

James Cleverly, the Home Secretary, this week warned in The Times that the world had entered an era of “deep fake and AI-generated content to mislead and disrupt” ahead of meeting tech company bosses.

A spokesman for TikTok said: “As our popularity has grown, UK news organisations have also reached new audiences through our platform.”

TikTok gave a list of news organisations that ue the site, including the Daily Mail with more than 10 million followers and 20 million fsollowers for the BBC across several accounts.

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Rishi Sunak demands 80 extra police patrols a week in ‘hotspots’

Rishi Sunak wants police to deploy up to 80 extra patrols a week in “hotspot” constituencies where there are community tensions amid an increase in threats to MPs following the Gaza conflict…

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Israel-Hamas war: Hamas fires ‘Soviet rockets’ at Israel from southern Lebanon

The military wing of Palestinian group Hamas said it fired a volley of rockets towards northern Israel from south Lebanon.

Hamas’s armed wing the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades said in a statement it targeted two Israeli military sites with two barrages of “Grad rockets”, a Soviet-era multiple rocket launch system.

The attack from south Lebanon came in “response to Zionist massacres against civilians in the Gaza Strip and the assassination of martyred leaders and their brothers in the southern suburbs” of Beirut, the statement added.

The Israeli military said in a statement that “approximately 10 launches which crossed from Lebanon into northern Israel were identified”, adding that sirens had sounded in north Israel’s Kiryat Shmona area.

Air defences “successfully intercepted a number of the launches,” the statement said, adding that the army “struck the sources of the fire in Lebanon”.

Israeli police reported property damage in the Kiryat Shmona area but no wounded.

Last year, the Israeli military said some Hamas fighters were operating out of southern Lebanon. 

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