The Telegraph 2024-03-01 22:30:38


Rishi Sunak latest news: British democracy being targeted by extremists, says PM

Rishi Sunak has warned that extremists are trying to tear Britain apart as he called for the country to come together and “beat this poison”.

In a surprise speech on the steps of Downing Street, the Prime Minister said that “democracy itself is a target” and called out the “shocking increase” in extremism.

Mr Sunak urged the police to more tightly handle pro-Palestinian protests and issued a personal message to the marchers to reject radicals hijacking the demonstration.

The Prime Minister’s speech addressed the fallout from Hamas’s October 7 attack on Israel in Britain and came on the day that George Galloway won the by-election in Rochdale.

Mr Sunak said: “The time has now come for us all to stand together to combat the forces of division and beat this poison.

“We must face down the extremists who would tear us apart. There must be leadership, not pandering or appeasement.

“When they tell their lies, we will tell the truth. When they try and sap our confidence, we will redouble our efforts.

“And when they try and make us doubt each other we will dig deeper for that extra ounce of compassion and empathy that they want us to believe doesn’t exist, but that I know does.”

Recap on a dramatic day in Westminster and Rochdale below, and join the conversation in the comments here

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Lady Gabriella Windsor’s husband Thomas Kingston died from ‘catastrophic’ head wound, inquest hears

Thomas Kingston, the husband of Lady Gabriella Windsor, was found dead at his parents’ home with a “catastrophic head injury” and a gun close to his body, a coroner has said.

Kingston, 45, died at the property in a Cotswold village on Sunday.

Katy Skerrett, the senior coroner for Gloucestershire, said the financier, who was the son-in-law of Prince and Princess Michael of Kent, had lunch with his parents before his body was found in an outbuilding.

She said a post-mortem had been undertaken and that a provisional cause of death had been given as a “traumatic wound to head”.

As she opened an inquest into Kingston’s death, Ms Skerrett said she had been given evidence of the brief circumstances surrounding “this tragic incident”.

She said: “Mr Kingston was visiting his parents home in the Cotswolds on 25 February. He ate lunch with his parents.

“His father went out to walk the dogs. On his return, Mr Kingston was not in the house. After approximately 30 minutes, his mother went to look for him.

“His father forced entry into an outbuilding when he couldn’t gain entry. Mr Kingston was found inside with a catastrophic head injury. A gun was present at the scene.

Emergency services were called. Police are satisfied the death is not suspicious.”

The hearing, at Gloucestershire Coroner’s Court, lasted less than minutes. Several journalists and a Buckingham Palace representative were present but no family members.

Kingston once worked as a hostage negotiator in Iraq. Known as Tom, he read economic history at the University of Bristol before joining the diplomatic missions unit at the Foreign Office.

He was seconded to Baghdad as project manager for the International Centre for Reconciliation, based at Coventry Cathedral, in 2003. The following year, he cheated death in a suicide bombing in the Iraqi capital that killed 22 people.

Rev Canon Andrew White, then the vicar of St George’s Church, the only Anglican church in Iraq, worked closely with him.

He described him as a fearless and very committed Christian, telling The Telegraph: “I loved him so much. The thing about Tom was he was never scared. Whatever I asked him to do, he would do it with a big smile on his face in the middle of a war zone.” 

Kingston returned to the UK to work for Schroders, the global asset management firm, as an equity analyst before becoming the managing director of Voltan Capital Management and later a director of Devonport Capital, which provides short-term loans to businesses operating in the developing world.

His father was a hugely successful barrister, specialising in planning law. Also a devout Christian, he was elected to the General Synod in 2016.  His mother, Jill, is a trustee of a Christian healing centre and runs the Nadezhda Charitable Trust, which supports projects in Zimbabwe. 

Kingston was introduced to his royal bride by mutual friends and proposed on the car-free Channel Island of Sark, where his parents have a holiday home.

Lady Gabriella’s father, Prince Michael, is Elizabeth II’s first cousin and a grandson of George V. The couple married at St George’s Chapel Windsor in May 2019, in a lavish ceremony attended by an array of senior royals including the late Queen and Prince Philip.

The couple were said to have been happily married to the end and were most recently pictured together, beaming for the camera, on Valentine’s Day.

Buckingham Palace announced Kingston’s death on Tuesday evening. Lady Gabriella, paid tribute to her husband, describing him as “an exceptional man who lit up the lives of all who knew him.” She said his death had come as a “great shock to the whole family.”

Buckingham Palace said the King and Queen joined Prince and Princess Michael of Kent and all those who knew Kingston in grieving “a much-loved member of the family”.

A spokesman said: “In particular, Their Majesties send their most heartfelt thoughts and prayers to Gabriella and all the Kingston family.”

The brief hearing offered no clues to the reason behind Kingston’s death.

The news left friends and family stunned. Many have insisted that he and Lady Gabriella, who lived in London, were happily married and had no known financial difficulties.

Some have speculated that the traumas Kingston witnessed in Baghdad might have had long term effects but if so, they appear to have been hidden.

Canon White said this week of their time in Iraq: “We survived several suicide bomb attacks. We were regularly caught up in IED [improvised explosive device] attacks. Cars would blow up in front of us and we would just move on. We were always together and had 35 armed guards at all times.”

Both men are said to have been in Canon White’s Anglican church when it was targeted in a suicide-bomb attack. They entered the building just before the blast, which killed two of the congregation and 20 others.

The Kingston family is being supported by Buckingham Palace, which along with the police, has taken measures to protect their privacy for their own safety and security.

Prince and Princess Michael attended a memorial service on Tuesday for King Constantine of Greece at St George’s Chapel.

Lady Gabriella, known to friends as Ella, who was a goddaughter to the late King, stayed away as she was comforted by her family.

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Thousands of mourners chant ‘Putin is a killer’ during Alexei Navalny’s carefully controlled funeral

Thousands of Russian mourners chanted “no to war” and “Putin is a killer” as Alexei Navalny, the opposition leader, was buried in a hurried funeral on the outskirts of Moscow on Friday.

Two weeks after Vladimir Putin’s greatest challenger to power died in murky circumstances at a penal colony above the Arctic Circle, his family were finally permitted to lay him to rest in a carefully controlled service and burial.

Mr Navalny’s mother spent days in the Arctic trying to retrieve her son’s body as officials were pressing her into agreeing to a secret burial at a remote location.

After much public wrangling, Navalny’s body was finally delivered in the back of a black Mercedes van after alleged pressure on funeral directors not to provide a hearse.

It may have been a final attempt at humiliation but the funeral turned into something of a final rally, with anti-Putin chants and makeshift memorials left in the snow.

With all forms of dissent outlawed in Russia, Russian police had issued warnings against “unauthorised gathering” in an apparent attempt to discourage supporters of the man who led Russia’s pro-democracy movement for more than a decade.

Defying the threats, tens of thousands flocked to a remote working-class Moscow neighbourhood, where the 47-year-old politician lived most of his life.

‘It’s a huge loss’

By noon, flower shops in the area were reportedly out of stock.

Many of the mourners were wary of talking to reporters or identifying themselves in light of Russia’s draconian law against dissent.

Those who did talk spoke about how much Navalny’s work meant to them.

“It’s a huge loss,” Svetlana Petrova told the Associated Press. “I’m offering my deep condolences to his mother, his wife and children because not everyone can bear what they had to bear.”

Navalny’s supporters also travelled from elsewhere to say their goodbyes.

“For everyone who is here, those who can’t be here and those who were too afraid to come, Alexei was the person who not only gave his life fighting for something – he gave his life fighting for us,” said Nadezhda Ivanova, who had travelled from Russia’s westernmost city of Kaliningrad.

“This man is a hero for our country. We will not forget him and we will not forget what [the government] did to him.”

When asked what he would like to say to Navalny’s relations shortly before the funeral, Dmitry Peskov, a Kremlin spokesman, told Russian reporters he had “nothing” for the politician’s family, which named Putin directly responsible for his death.

Sombre gathering

Political rallies in Russia have been banned following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and the gathering of mourners on Friday looked like the very last that Navalny, who always attracted crowds of supporters, was able to organise.

The sombre gathering outside the church in Maryino, where many struggled to hold back tears, soon erupted into chants of Navalny’s name and “no to war”.

The church service, which was supposed to be open to the public, was cut unexpectedly short, reportedly under pressure from authorities. Outside, a group of Orthodox believers sang church hymns.

As church bells tolled to mark the end of the church service, the casket was swiftly taken away. Some mourners were able to breach the police cordons and reach the gate to hug Navalny’s mother. Others said to her: “Thank you for your son.”

Despite official warnings, tens of thousands of people thronged the wide streets of Maryino and marched in frigid weather for half an hour to the other side of the Moskva river to Borisovskoye cemetery.

Numerous police squads were on standby and did not interfere.

Neither Navalny’s wife, two children or brother, who all live in exile abroad, attended the funeral, fearing an immediate arrest.

To mark their presence at the funeral, the family ordered a wreath of white carnations with a ribbon saying: “To our sweet, darling and eternally loved husband and father.”

In a message on Instagram on Friday, Yulia Navalnaya, the politician’s widow, who last month vowed to keep up Navalny’s work, wrote of her love and devotion to her partner of 26 years.

‘He was so much fun’

“I don’t know how to live without you, but I will try to make sure you will be happy for me and proud of me out there. I don’t know if I can do it but I will try,” she said.

Two close allies of Navalny’s who hosted a live show on Friday commenting on the broadcast of the funeral visibly struggled with emotion.

“He was a brilliant man. He was so much fun to be around,” said Leonid Volkov, his former campaign chief.

“We’re going to work hard to keep up his work. We’re going to try to do our best to make him proud.”

At the cemetery, the politician’s parents planted kisses on the pale forehead of Navalny, and his mother covered his face with a burial shroud before the lid was closed and the coffin was lowered into the grave to the tune of Frank Sinatra’s My Way, one of his favourite songs.

The string quartet then played the closing soundtrack from Terminator 2 – his favourite film, which his allies said they used to make fun of.

Despite widespread fears, police did not interrupt the funeral procession, and crowds of mourners, who often broke into chants of “Putin is the killer”, were allowed to proceed peacefully across the bridge from the church.

For at least five hours, a string of supporters, many of whom sobbed and looked visibly distressed, filed through the cemetery gate to bring flowers and handfuls of soil to the grave.

Before the grave was filled and closed, the mother of Navalny’s widow thanked supporters for coming to the funeral.

“They were incredibly in love. They were an amazing couple – I’ve never seen a couple like that,” she said.

“He devoted his life to a big struggle but he did it with a big love and faith in the bright future of Russia.”

At least 91 people detained

Mrs Navalnaya’s mother and the politician’s mother then huddled together on plastic chairs by the graveside, sobbing as the gravediggers clanked their metal shovels, filling up the grave.

Ten minutes later, they covered the grave with fir tree branches, planted a large cross and a photo of a smiling Navalny.

Crowds milled around the area for hours, and many mourners who despaired of reaching the cemetery on Friday evening started setting up makeshift memorials in snowdrifts outside nearby buildings, leaving Navalny’s photos, candles and flowers.

Navalny supporters were also gathering in other Russian cities. At least 91 people were detained across Russia, including 19 people in a small village on the Volga, according to police watchdog OVD Info.

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Motorway 60mph restrictions to be scrapped

The 60mph speed restrictions on the M1 and M6 will be removed after National Highways admitted that air pollution would “ultimately be solved at the tailpipe”.

Since 2021, drivers have been forced to slow down at the M1 at Rotherham and the M6 at Witton,  in a bid to ascertain if driving more slowly helps reduce emissions.

The restrictions were supposed to last between 12 and 15 months, with National Highways promising that data showing if the schemes were working would be available last spring.

On Friday, the body said the sections would return to the national speed limit of 70mph after pollution had fallen in the areas, but could not say whether this was because of the trials or because there were more electric and hybrid cars on the road.

Angela Halliwell, the head of the National Highways’ carbon and air quality group, said: “There is an overall trend that air quality is improving across our network. Removing 60mph speed limits from sections of the M1 and M6 where air quality has improved is a positive step.

“Ultimately, air quality will be solved ‘at the tailpipe’ by vehicle manufacturers and changes in vehicle use.”

A new report released by National Highways this week shows that nitrogen dioxide levels fell in the Rotherham speed restriction zone from 39 micrograms per square metre (µg/m3) to 35 µg/m3.

Likewise, pollution has dropped in Manchester from 38 µg/m3 to 31 µg/m3.

The analysis showed there was no real change in average speeds following the introduction of the 60mph speed limit on the M6, as average speeds were already close to 60mph. Nitrogen dioxide levels were at 32 µg/m3.

National Highways said it was “highly unlikely” that the pollution would exceed the legal limit if restrictions were removed, but could not say how it had come to that conclusion. It said it would continue to monitor both locations.

However, the report also shows that some areas with speed restrictions have seen pollution levels increase, including the trial site at the M602 at Eccles, and the M4 at Hillingdon. Nitrogen dioxide levels have remained the same at the M5 at Oldbury.

Motoring groups have previously warned that speed restrictions could increase congestion and may worsen pollution.

The AA has argued that the most polluting vehicles, such as large lorries, were already limited to 60mph anyway, while police forces often allowed 10 per cent plus 2mph leeway to the speed limit, meaning drivers could still be driving near 70mph during the trials.

A spokesman for the AA said: “Removing the 60mph zones will allow traffic to move at speeds for which the roads were designed, thus improving journey times and the efficiency of the network.

“Where there are speed limits with no obvious reason, you lose the understanding and support of the driving public – eventually leading to anger.”

National Highways said that air quality was influenced by multiple factors and that building work near the speed restriction areas may have played a factor.

Earlier this week, National Highways refused an FOI request by The Telegraph asking to see the latest modelling and analysis for the 60mph zones, claiming that the experts needed a “safe space” to carry out their work.

Although the body accepted the information was within the public interest, it replied: “While this issue is live, a safe space is needed to think, continue with the ongoing analysis, and make decisions about the information.

“At this time, releasing part of the analysis may lead to a misunderstanding of the facts and impacts.

“Therefore this would not enable a reasoned and informed discussion to be held, either with internal stakeholders or members of the public as to whether speed limits introduced for air quality should or should not be retained.”

Experts called for the remaining limits to also be scrapped if there was no evidence they were working.

‘Arbitrary reductions’

Bob Bull, the chairman of the Alliance of British Drivers, said: “The practice of 50 and 60 mph limits on motorways on air pollution grounds appears to be worthless but causes frustration and bunching therefore against the safe flow of vehicles.

“As no results have been published, despite promises that they would be available a year ago, one can only assume the evidence does not support the arbitrary reductions.”

The lowering of the speed limit was introduced based on modelling that claimed it would significantly reduce the annual mean nitrogen dioxide concentrations in the affected zones.

It was suggested this would help the areas around the trials near Rotherham in South Yorkshire, Witton in Birmingham, Eccles in Greater Manchester and Oldbury in the West Midlands meet pollution limits one to two years earlier than expected.

The Telegraph understands the modelling did not take account of particle pollution produced by braking. The policy also penalises electric vehicles that produce no exhaust emissions and newer, less polluting cars.

Critics, including Sir John Hayes, a former roads minister, have previously said that National Highways should show that the trial was working or reinstate the national speed limit.

The AA has argued that the most polluting vehicles, such as large lorries, were already limited to 60mph anyway, while police forces often allowed 10 per cent plus 2mph leeway to the speed limit, meaning drivers could still be driving near 70mph during the trials.

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Royal Mail to increase cost of stamps again

Royal Mail is increasing the price of all postage stamps by 10p as the company battles plummeting enthusiasm for letters.

The price of first class stamps will rise to £1.35 from April, while second class stamps will cost 85p, the company announced today.

It is the second time in six months that Royal Mail has increased stamp prices. In October, the price of a first class stamp was increased by 14pc from £1.10.

Royal Mail said that letter volumes had fallen by more than 10 billion in the last two decades – from 20 billion in 2004 to 7 billion in 2023.

The increase comes despite Royal Mail being fined £5.6m by regulator Ofcom last year for failing to meet its delivery targets.

It comes as households face a barrage of price increases in April, with broadband, council tax, and water bills set to rise for millions.

Royal Mail said it had tried to keep price increases “as low as possible”, but added that the average adult now receives just two letters a week and spends less than £7 a year on stamps. The company made a loss of £419m last year.

Royal Mail also announced that prices would go up for sending parcels.

Increases for sending small and medium packages range between 8pc and 17pc depending on the weight band, while increases for special deliveries range from 15pc to 22pc. Franked letters will be unaffected, the company said.

Nick Landon, chief commercial officer at Royal Mail said: “We always consider price changes very carefully, but we face a situation where letter volumes have reduced dramatically over recent years, while costs have increased.

“It is no longer sustainable to maintain a network built for 20 billion letters when we are now only delivering seven billion.

“As a result of letter volume decline, our posties now have to walk more than three times as far to deliver the same number of letters as before, increasing the delivery costs per letter.”

In January, Ofcom unveiled a consultation paper which could allow Royal Mail to scrap Saturday postal deliveries. Reforms to the universal service obligation (USO) could also include overhauling first-and second-class delivery targets.

The company is currently expected to deliver 93pc of first-class post within one day of collection, and 98.5pc of second-class post within three working days.

But Royal Mail was found to have breached this requirement in November.

At the time, Ofcom said the company had “caused considerable harm to customers, and Royal Mail took insufficient steps to try and prevent this failure”.

A Telegraph survey revealed that almost half of Royal Mail customers had experienced delays in 2023.

Mr Landon has again appealed to the Government to overhaul the USO, following an unsuccessful bid last year.

He said: “It is vital that the universal service adapts to reflect changing customer preferences so that we can protect the one-price-goes-anywhere service, now and in the future.”

Royal Mail estimates reforming the USO could save the company hundreds of millions of pounds a year.


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Katherine Ryan: ‘We have sex more than twice a month now – we still really fancy each other’

How do famous names spend their precious downtime? In our weekly My Saturday column, celebrities reveal their weekend virtues and vices. This week: Katherine Ryan

6am 

I wake up at the foot of my children’s bed like a dog. I co-sleep with my two-and-a-half-year-old Fred and my one-year-old Fenna, who share a room. I’m waking up between three and seven times throughout the night but we get by.

6.15am 

The morning runs like clockwork. After getting my three dogs out of their bed and my daughter on the potty, I’m drinking my Lavazza-brewed coffee. Potty-training Fenna motivates me in the morning. I know it can be difficult for some, but I feel strongly that starting before they’re one is the right thing to do. It helps children with their autonomy and their communication skills. I’m not afraid of being controversial in my opinions. I think I’m impervious to criticism. I’ve accepted I can’t control whether people like me or not.

7.30am 

Fred is up and I feed the kids breakfast and the dogs have treats. We read books, play with toys and then I raid the fridge. I eat dinner for breakfast – green curry, chorizo, cheese wrapped around turkey with a bit of mustard in the middle – and I eat loads of it. My meals are back to front because breast-feeding makes me so hungry.

9am 

We’re all out of the house and head to High Barnet high street. My daughter Violet [14, from a previous relationship] has a personal trainer. I think it’s a healthy routine for a young woman and for mental health. I don’t exercise but I feel like my day has a lot of cardio woven into it, the kids like being tossed around.

9.30am 

Our routine starts with feeding the ducks, then shopping at a Turkish family-run grocery store, perhaps a book shop and a dirty chai latte with oat milk from Nkora coffee shop. And then our favourite thing – soft play. I was even there on Christmas Day.

12pm 

Home to feed the kids. We eat a lot of bananas and avocados. I try to avoid refined sugar, but with each child, I’ve become more permissive. Nothing gets in the way of Fred and raspberry cake.

2pm 

Nap with Fenna. I feel it’s unacceptable to nap on your own, away from all the children, but sleeping with child is allowed. I’m always tired. Parenting definitely impacts your relationship. [Ryan recently admitted to a Sunday newspaper to having sex twice a month.

That number has gone up a bit as the kids have got older. I do think it’s important. Luckily my husband Bobby [Kootstra, 40] and I haven’t been married that long and we still really fancy each other. But in reality, working parents who have small children are so knackered by nighttime, intimacy is just off the table. We have to find stolen moments in the day like before heading to work or during a nap, which isn’t always very alluring.

3.30pm 

Afternoons are unstructured – we see friends, go to the pub or the park.

4pm 

If I’m on tour, I leave the house in a tracksuit with wet hair and no make-up on to drive with my tour manager Annie to a venue. I can’t do my glam at home because the kids melt down. I’m traditional when it comes to show business. People have purchased tickets and come to see me so I should definitely be the best dressed person in the room. It’s the same for TV. 

I’m in a new TV comedy gameshow Out of Order [on Comedy Central] with host Rosie Jones and the other team captain Judi Love, who are not only great fun but they have great style. Before women arrived at the forefront of comedy, I’m not sure boys bothered that much – with the exception of Jimmy Carr who is very glamorous. They just had a couple of suits and you’d be lucky if they were clean. Women comedians have really elevated fashion in comedy.

5pm 

If all the family are home, Bobby cooks. He follows recipes whereas I make it up so he fired me from the kitchen. He’s great. He’ll make anything from bolognese to pad thai.

6.30pm 

It’s bath and bed time for Fenna and Fred. I don’t have much time for reading unless it’s by Julia Donaldson.

8pm 

I watch True Detective: Night Country with Bobby if Violet is out with her friends, or we loved The Traitors if we’re together. I feel it’s so important for our marriage that we watch a series together because there’s very little to look forward to in the evening.

10.30pm 

Bed. We don’t push it. I mean, we’re not stupid. I actually wish I could go to bed earlier.

Interview by Louise Burke

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Princess of Wales ‘still doing well’, Palace insists amid health speculation

Kensington Palace has reassured the public that the Princess of Wales is “still doing well” as she recovers from major surgery out of the public eye.

The statement came amid growing speculation about her health on social media. The Palace said “nothing has changed” since an update in January gave some details of the Princess’s abdominal surgery and recovery period.

“We always said that the Princess of Wales would be out until Easter, and we are not making any further comments,” said a spokesman. “The Princess of Wales is still doing well.”

The mother-of-three has been out of the public eye since Christmas. She, along with the rest of the family, had been expected to return to work in mid-January but instead had to cancel a series of engagements to undergo the surgery.

On Jan 17, Kensington Palace said in a written statement: “The surgery was successful, and it is expected that she will remain in hospital for 10 to 14 days before returning home to continue her recovery. Based on the current medical advice, she is unlikely to return to public duties until after Easter.

“The Princess of Wales appreciates the interest this statement will generate. She hopes that the public will understand her desire to maintain as much normality for her children as possible and her wish that her personal medical information remains private.

“Kensington Palace will, therefore, only provide updates on Her Royal Highness’ progress when there is significant new information to share.”

One further official update has been issued since then to confirm that the surgery was a success, with the Princess “doing well” and at home.

She is understood to have been at Adelaide Cottage, Windsor, with the Prince and their children since, making a short half-term break to Anmer Hall in Norfolk.

The Prince of Wales has resumed his public duties, including a rescheduled trip to a synagogue on Thursday, which the couple had originally planned to make together together to mark Holocaust Memorial Day.

Renee Salt, a 94-year-old Holocaust survivor, held his hand and told him: “I know if your wife had been well she would have been here. I miss her so much, I really do. Give her my best wishes.”

At the same event, the Prince told Jewish students: “Both Catherine and I are extremely concerned about the rise in anti-Semitism you guys have talked about this morning, and I’m just so sorry any of you have had to experience that. It has no place and it shouldn’t have.”

When the Prince pulled out of a memorial service for his godfather King Constantine of Greece on Tuesday, a Palace source said that it was for “personal” reasons and repeated that the Princess was still doing well.

The Palace has said it would not offer a “running commentary” on the Princess’s recovery.

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