The Telegraph 2024-03-02 16:30:33


Christian and Geri Horner in public display of affection at Bahrain GP following ‘texts leak’

Geri Horner has arrived at the paddock in Bahrain holding hands with husband Christian Horner ahead of Saturday’s season-opening Grand Prix in a clear display of solidarity with her husband.This…

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Kemi Badenoch impressed by ‘message of peace and tolerance’ at mosque in UAE

Kemi Badenoch has hailed the “message of peace and tolerance” she found as she visited one of the largest mosques in the world.

The Business Secretary celebrated the “spectacular” Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in the United Arab Emirates as she shared pictures of her visit on social media.

Ms Badenoch paid a visit to the Middle East country last week to attend a World Trade Organisation conference.

On Saturday, she posted two pictures on X, formerly Twitter, taken during a visit to the mosque in Abu Dhabi.

Named after the late president of the UAE, it was constructed between 1994 and 2007 and is the largest mosque in the country.

Ms Badenoch tweeted that the visit to the mosque was the highlight of the trip. She added: “The architecture and design takes inspiration from all over the globe, emphasising a welcoming and profound message of peace and tolerance.”

During the WTO conference, the Business Secretary met Abdulla bin Touq Al Marri, the UAE minister of economy, as well as his counterparts from other Gulf states as part of the UK’s attempts to secure a trade deal.

The visit took place against the backdrop of the UAE’s bid to take over The Telegraph, with MPs from across the political divide raising concerns about the implications for free speech and the UK’s foreign policy.

Visit followed ‘Islamophobia’ controversy

In recent months, Government spokesmen have consistently said the takeover will not be discussed by ministers who talk to UAE figures about other matters.

Ms Badenoch’s visit also took place in the aftermath of a row over the Conservatives’ handling of Islamophobia accusations following the suspension of Lee Anderson.

Last month, Ms Badenoch said the Tory Party used the “term ‘anti-Muslim hatred’”, claiming that the definition of Islamophobia used by Labour and other parties “creates a blasphemy law via the back door if adopted”.

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Cambridge academic trapped in medieval tower uses eyeliner pencil and cotton bud to escape

A Cambridge academic used an eyeliner pencil and a cotton bud to escape a medieval tower after getting trapped in its bathroom…

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University researchers may be forced to record trans people’s biological sex

Universities could be forced to use the biological sex of trans people in their research instead of their declared gender, as the Government begins a major review into the use of data.

There is fierce debate among scientists and officials over the issues caused by conflating gender identity and biological sex in studies, and how this information should be gathered, stored and used.

Critics say using a person’s gender identity and not their sex at birth in studies and datasets is a denial of biological fact, and leads to factual inaccuracies that have a negative impact on future policy decisions.

An upcoming review of statistics on sex and gender from the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT) will focus on all public sector bodies, but The Telegraph has learnt it will also have powers to scrutinise universities, as well as other research institutions.

It will be led by Prof Alice Sullivan, the head of research at University College London’s Social Research Institute. Data held and processed by universities will be within the remit of Prof Sullivan as part of her work.

A final report and recommendations on how the sex and gender data of trans people should be treated will be handed to Downing Street by the end of August.

‘Respecting academic freedom’

The report will have the power to suggest that the biological sex of trans people should be used instead of gender identity in studies, and that it should also be recorded in official data.

The newly published terms of reference for the DSIT review state the process will “respect the principles of academic freedom and the independent institutional status of universities”.

“The review has two goals,” Prof Sullivan told The Telegraph. “First, identifying obstacles to accurate data collection and research on sex and on gender identity in public bodies and in the research system.

“Secondly, setting out good practice guidance for how to collect data on sex and gender identity.

“As such, barriers to research within the university system are within the scope of the review. We will be announcing a call for evidence in due course.”

Michelle Donelan, the Secretary of State for Science, previously claimed university bureaucrats were telling scientists they “cannot ask legitimate research questions about biological sex”.

Last year, Ms Donelan attacked the “utter nonsense” of academics and officials denying the existence of biological sex, saying it had an impact on official statistics that inform policy. “We are safeguarding scientific research from the denial of biology and the steady creep of political correctness,” she told the Conservative Party conference.

The Government says accurate data and statistics on biological sex “are important to good research and to effective policy making”, with implications in all aspects of society, including crime, health, education and the economy.

It says in the review document: “The Government has a strong interest in promoting high-quality data on sex, both in its role as a funder of research and as a producer and user of statistics.

“Accurate information on gender identity can also be useful in some policy areas.”

It comes as the Office for Statistical Regulation (OSR) is conducting its own review of the Office for National Statistics’ 2021 census data, which showed 262,000 people – or one in 200 people – were trans.

Concerns were raised that the numbers were skewed by non-native English speakers misinterpreting the question. The ONS admits it does not know to what extent incorrect interpretation altered the data.

The OSR this week published guidance on collecting and reporting data about sex and gender identity in official statistics, and urged organisations not to use the two terms interchangeably.

Ed Humpherson, director general for regulation at the OSR, said: “The core aim of the guidance is to encourage producers to think carefully about what they are collecting, and to be aware of the risks of conflating the concepts of sex and gender identity, particularly when they are looking to change existing data collections.”

A government spokesman said: “Accurate data and statistics on biological sex is vital for effective research and policy-making.

“This independent review will identify any obstacles to gathering information on sex and gender identity in public bodies and the research system and outline how it can be collected consistently to benefit us all.”

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Boiler tax set to be scrapped

The Government is preparing to ditch the so-called boiler tax in an announcement which could come as soon as this week, The Sunday Telegraph understands.

Claire Coutinho, the Energy Secretary, will not be proceeding with the policy, which had been blamed for pushing up gas boiler prices and criticised as a form of “government coercion”.

Under the Clean Heat Market Mechanism, manufacturers would be required to match, or substitute, 4 per cent of their boiler sales with heat pumps or face a fine of £3,000 for every installation they fell short by. 

The scheme was due to start in April, with the target rising to 6 per cent from April 2025.

Home heating companies had warned that the plans would force them to increase the price of their boilers by up to £120 – a move criticised by Ms Coutinho.

The Telegraph now understands that the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ) is preparing to announce that it will not be going ahead with the fines for at least the first year of the scheme.

Ministers needed to lay a Statutory Instrument by April to provide the legal powers to enforce the quotas, but this is no longer expected to happen.

Instead, 2024-25 will be treated as a “monitoring year” in which the Government tracks sales of heat pumps relative to boilers.

The move is likely to be welcomed by Conservative MPs on the Right of the party who had criticised the scheme.

Craig Mackinlay, the chair of the Net Zero Scrutiny Group of Tory MPs, wrote to Ms Coutinho in February urging her to “trust your instincts and scrap this harmful policy”, branding the scheme “Government coercion”.

“Consumer choice has to be at the heart of a Conservative, free-market approach to Net Zero,” he said.

Mr Mackinlay claimed that “the targets and central planning inherent in the Clean Heat Market Mechanism” came “straight from the failed socialist playbook of the past”.

“It was the right decision to review this policy,” he said. “We know that there are many siren voices encouraging you to impose the boiler tax. You must resist them and show the public you are on their side.”

While Ms Coutinho is expected to ditch the policy, she is still understood to have concerns about the functioning of the home heating sector, where four companies dominate 90 per cent of the market.

The Energy Secretary has already instructed her department to have conversations with the Competition and Markets Authority about launching an investigation into the market to ensure that competition is not limited and consumers are getting a fair price.

A DESNZ spokesman said: “No decision has yet been made and we remain committed to our ambition of installing 600,000 heat pumps a year by 2028.

“We want to do this in a way that does not burden consumers and we’ve increased our heat pump grants by 50 per cent to £7,500 – making it one of the most generous schemes in Europe.

“This pragmatic approach is working, with a nearly 40 per cent increase in people applying in January 2024 compared to the same month in 2023.”

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Duchess of York told by doctors her skin cancer has not spread, say friends

Doctors have told the Duchess of York that there appears to have been no spread of her skin cancer following another bout of surgery.

Sarah, 64, was told by doctors in January they had found a malignant melanoma during a second round of reconstructive surgery, following her breast cancer diagnosis last year.

The Duchess has now undergone further surgery to examine the area around the mole that was found to be malignant, as well as her lymph nodes.

A friend said she has learnt these were all “free of cancer” and doctors believe the disease has not spread.

While she must remain vigilant and have regular 12-week check-ups, the news is the “best possible outcome she could have hoped for”, and her prognosis is good.

The Duchess’s friend told The Daily Mail: “It is a huge relief for Sarah and the entire family after the most stressful time.”

Sources close to the Duchess said that while doctors are reluctant to use the term “cancer free” there was very much cause for optimism.

The friend added: “She was heartened to see there was an upsurge in people checking for details of melanoma on the NHS website after she made her diagnosis public.

“Her intention will be to get the message out about the importance of being vigilant about checking the size, shape, colour and texture of moles. If melanoma is caught early, it can be treated very effectively.”

During her second bout of reconstructive surgery last year, the Duchess’ dermatologist asked for some of her moles to be removed and tested, leading to her diagnosis.

The Duchess is now understood to be planning to celebrate her good news with a trip to Australia in the coming days to see her sister and take part in Global Citizen Now in Melbourne. The summit is designed to end extreme poverty around the world and focus on the climate change crisis.

The Duchess’s father, Major Ronald Ferguson, was having treatment for skin cancer shortly before he died in 2003. In 1999 the Duchess’s best friend and former flatmate, Carolyn Cotterell, died at only 43, following an 18-month battle with the disease.

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Greek vase made 2,500 years ago set to break world record at auction

A remarkable ancient Greek amphora vase that dates from 550BC could set a world record when it goes under the hammer on Tuesday.‌

It is believed that the object was created as a work of art rather than a storage jar and its estimate is £40,000 to £60,000.‌

Experts have concluded that it was produced by the “Swing Painter” – a recognised Athenian artist.‌

Standing more than 15 inches high (39cm) and weighing 3.25kg, the work of art is being sold by a private British owner.‌

The surface depicts a fearsome winged Gorgon and an aristocratic warrior who is helmeted in Chalcidian style and driving a four-horse chariot.‌

Beneath the primary scenes is a frieze of lotus buds and a band of Greek key motifs, and the neck is adorned with alternating red and black palmettes and elongated lotus blossoms.

‌Aaron Hammond, of Timeline Auctions in Harwich, Essex, said: “This is an astonishing survivor and could set a world record price.

‌“Its narrative bridges the worlds of legend and history to speak to us of the artistic legacy of ancient Greece and the timeless attraction of its myths and heroes.”

‌He added that the sculptor merged clay and pigment “to create a testament to the vibrancy and depth of Athenian culture” during the 6th century BC.

‌Ancient Greek painters rarely signed their work so classical archaeologists named them after their styles.‌

In this case, the painter of  amphora was known to have painted a vase with a garden swing which is why it has been nicknamed ‘The Swing Painter’.‌ 

He added: “He was working in Athens in the late 6th century and his black figure output included many mythological subjects.

‌“Usually these vases were made to hold olive oil, wine, milk, or grain, but this is more likely to have been a decorative object.

‌“Collectors will be excited by the vase coming onto the market.”

‌The amphora was acquired in Geneva in 1954 and once belonged to the Y. Forrer collection before finding its way into a private collection in Switzerland in 1999.

‌It passed through the hands of Gorny & Mosch in Munich and is owned by a British collector.

‌The previous record for a vase of this type is at the lower end of the estimate for this example.

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