The Telegraph 2024-03-11 16:00:36

Live Princess of Wales makes unexpected public appearance in wake of photo editing row

The Princess of Wales has been photographed leaving Windsor Castle with her husband Prince William just hours after she apologised for editing a family photograph released by Kensington Palace.

The Princess was seen in the back of a car as it took William to Westminster Abbey for the Commonwealth Day Service.

She is not expected to attend the service and has been out of the public eye since undergoing major abdominal surgery in January to allow her to recuperate at home in Adelaide Cottage with her young family.

The unexpected sighting comes after five photo agencies Getty, Associated Press, Agence France-Presse, Shutterstock and Reuters, recalled an image of her alongside her three children released on Mothering Sunday over concerns it had been digitally altered. The PA news agency followed suit on Monday after failing to get clarification from Kensington Palace.

In a tweet posted from the Kensington Royal account, the Princess apologised for “any confusion” created over the photograph said to be taken by her husband last week.

She said: “Like many amateur photographers, I do occasionally experiment with editing. I wanted to express my apologies for any confusion the family photograph we shared yesterday caused. I hope everyone celebrating had a very happy Mother’s Day. C.”

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Live Our party is to blame for Lee Anderson joining Reform, say Tory MPs

The New Conservatives have urged Rishi Sunak to “change course urgently” as they insisted responsibility for Lee Anderson’s defection to Reform UK “sits with the Conservative Party”.

Richard Tice, the Reform leader, unveiled Mr Anderson as his party’s first ever MP on Monday morning following weeks of speculation about the future of the former Tory deputy chairman.

In a statement on behalf of the New Conservatives, 20 or so MPs who mostly representing seats in the North and the Midlands, Danny Kruger and Miriam Cates, its co-chairmen, said: “We regret Lee’s decision. Supporting Reform makes a less conservative Britain more likely. A Labour government would raise taxes, increase immigration, undo Brexit and divide our society.

“But the responsibility for Lee’s defection sits with the Conservative Party. We have failed to hold together the coalition of voters who gave us an 80 seat majority in 2019.

“Those voters – in our traditional heartlands and in the Red Wall seats like Ashfield – backed us because we offered an optimistic, patriotic, no-nonsense Conservatism. They voted for lower immigration, for a better NHS, for a rebalanced economy, and for pride in our country.

“Our poll numbers show what the public think of our record since 2019. We cannot pretend any longer that ‘the plan is working’. We need to change course urgently.”

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I want my country back, says Lee Anderson as he becomes first Reform UK MP

Lee Anderson has announced his defection to Reform UK, declaring “I want my country back”.

The former vice-chairman of the Conservative Party was suspended from the Tories last month over his refusal to apologise for his claims that Islamists had “got control” of Sadiq Khan and London.

Mr Anderson accused the Conservative Party of “stifling free speech” by forcing him to retract the remarks, as he insisted that he was speaking “on behalf of millions of people up and down the country who agree with me”.

He revealed that his elderly parents had pleaded with him over the weekend to quit the Tories, saying they could only vote for him if he joined Reform UK.

Announcing the defection at a press conference in Westminster on Monday morning, Richard Tice, the Reform UK leader, said Mr Anderson would be the party’s first MP.

Mr Anderson would also be the Reform party’s Red Wall “champion”, Mr Tice said, as he vowed to replace the Tories as the main alternative to “Starmageddon”.

Mr Anderson told the press conference: “I will start by saying I want my country back. Over the last year or so I’ve had to do a lot of soul-searching on my political journey. I don’t expect much in politics other than to be able to speak my mind.”

He said that led him to be “labelled as controversial,” but argued it was “not controversial to be concerned about immigration” or to “fight back in a culture war”.

Mr Anderson continued: “It is no secret that I’ve been talking to my friends in Reform for a while. And Reform UK has offered me the chance to speak out in Parliament on behalf of millions of people up and down the country who feel that they’re not being listened to.

“People will say that I’ve [taken] a gamble. And I’m prepared to gamble on myself, as I know from my mailbag how many people in this country support Reform UK and what they have to say. And like millions of people up and down the country, all I want is my country back.”

Later, in a huddle with print journalists, Mr Anderson said he had been “umming and ahhing” about the move for some time, while “trying to throw you lot off the scent”.

Asked if that was his intention when he told The Telegraph in January that there was no conceivable world in which he would join Reform, he said: “That’s just politics, darling.”

He added that he was “not bothered about if you can trust me”.

“It’s politics. We’re all grown-ups in this room, aren’t we? I’m not going to play my full hand. I’m not going to play a full hand, I’m not going to reveal my full hand to you,” he said.

Both Mr Anderson and Mr Tice predicted more defections would follow in the weeks and months running up to the general election.

Mr Tice said he expected more Tory MPs to follow the Ashfield MP in joining Reform, while Mr Anderson said: “It’s a sad day that I’m leaving my colleagues. But if I’m honest, this time next year they’ll be sat on the same benches as me.”

In a swipe at Rishi Sunak, the Ashfield MP said “nothing’s changing” under the Conservatives “apart from words”, adding: “People want more than words, they want action.”

“You sort of live in hope that things are going to get better and they’ve not got better. The Conservative Party is, what, 25 points behind, probably, in the polls. We keep saying that’s going to close nearer the election, well every day’s nearer the election… we drop a point every week,” he said.

Mr Anderson said there have been “several tipping points” for him over the past few months, including his “unpalatable” suspension “for speaking my mind”.

But he insisted he would have defected even if hadn’t lost the Tory whip, adding: “My parents have been saying to me for weeks now, you cannot win, we can’t vote for you for being in the Conservative Party. If my parents are saying that, what chance have I got?”

Mr Anderson also ruled out resigning and triggering a by-election, when asked about Mark Reckless and Douglas Carswell doing the same when they quit the Tories for Ukip.

“It’d be pretty reckless of me to suggest a by-election when we could have a general election in May,” Mr Anderson said. “It costs a fortune.”

The defection, which will be a blow to Mr Sunak, follows weeks of speculation about the Ashfield MP’s next moves.

As news of Mr Anderson’s defection to Reform spread throughout Westminster on Monday morning, one senior Tory backbencher captured the mood by saying that “disbelief is the feeling amongst colleagues”.

Meanwhile, Daisy Cooper MP, the Liberal Democrat deputy leader said Mr Anderson’s defection shows that Mr Sunak’s authority “lies in tatters”.

She said: “The man he personally appointed to be deputy chairman of the Conservatives has defected to another party. This is a prime minister who cannot govern his own party let alone the country.

“Even now Sunak is too weak to rule out Nigel Farage joining the Conservative Party. It just shows that there is now hardly a cigarette paper between the Conservative Party and Reform.”

A Conservative spokesman said: “Lee himself said he fully accepted that the Chief Whip had no option but to suspend the whip in these circumstances. We regret he’s made this decision.

“Voting for Reform can’t deliver anything apart from a Keir Starmer-led Labour Government that would take us back to square one – which means higher taxes, higher energy costs, no action on channel crossings, and uncontrolled immigration.”

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The seven telltale signs that show Princess of Wales’s family picture was doctored

An “inconsistency” with Princess Charlotte’s hand was the detail that suggested to one picture agency that Kensington Palace’s image of the Princess of Wales and her children had been manipulated.

Social media users claimed that part of her wrist was missing.

Others commented that the Princess of Wales was not wearing her wedding ring, while Prince Louis had his fingers crossed and a tree in the background appeared to have leaves in mid-March.

The picture, released by Kensington Palace with a Mother’s Day message, was recalled by picture agencies Getty, the Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters, which put out a “kill notice” to halt distribution.

“At closer inspection, it appears that the source has manipulated the image,” the AP notice said.

The agencies have a policy of not distributing photographs that have been overly edited. It is thought to be the first time a picture issued by the Royal family has been recalled in this way.

The controversial photograph is thought to feature as many as 16 inconsistencies according to eagle-eyed social media users.

The Princess apologised for “any confusion” after the manipulated image of her family, said to have been taken by Prince William in Windsor last week, was withdrawn.

The Telegraph had identified seven inconsistencies in the picture before the Princess took the blame in a tweet posted from the Kensington Royal Twitter/X account at 10.28am on Monday morning:

But social media users claim to have spotted several more clues that demonstrate that the photograph had been significantly doctored.

They alleged that the window knob behind the family would not have a reflection on the glass and that Prince George was missing a foot.

Others added that Prince Louis’s little finger on his left hand appeared longer than his index finger and that the wall he was leaning on was blurry in several places.

Suspicions were also raised about the Princess’s and her daughter Princess Charlotte’s hair.

They claimed that part of the Princess’s hair was blurred but that Prince George’s jumper behind it was not.

Others added that Princess Charlotte’s hair ended abruptly on her right shoulder and dipped in unnaturally further down.

They also said the corner of her skirt appeared unusually straight.

Dr Hany Farid, a professor of computer sciences at the University of California Berkeley, told the Telegraph that the issue with Princess Charlotte’s sleeve looked like a “bad Photoshop job”.

“I clearly see what is being referenced here, with respect to her sleeve. It looks like a bad Photoshop job,” he said.

“I know we talk a lot about AI lately but it is still possible to use traditional photo-editing tools,” he added.

“What you would be worried about here is if Kate wasn’t in this photo and had been digitally inserted. This would be a dramatic manipulation.”

There is no evidence to suggest that the Princess has been inserted into the photograph.

Dr Farid added: “You see her hands around the kids on both sides, you see her hair is touching the boy. The contact between her and the boy is very good.

“There are two likely stories. Perhaps there was something they didn’t like on the girl’s hand or sleeve, so they airbrushed it and did a bad job.”

Jake Moore, a former digital forensics officer for Dorset Police who now works as a global cyber security adviser for internet security company ESET, said clues of editing would lie in the lighting and direction of shadows in any picture.

He told the Telegraph: “The clues would lie in the lighting on the face, in the light and shade and the shadows. In a true image, the shadows will all be in the same direction as the light. 

“For example, if in one image of four people, the light is all coming from one direction, the shadows will all match.”

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Two arrested after police remove 34 bodies from funeral home in Hull

Police have arrested two people and removed 34 bodies from a funeral parlour over concern about the way the deceased were being cared for and stored.

A 46-year-old man and a 23-year-old woman were detained for questioning in Hull after an investigation was launched into the activities of three branches of the Legacy independent funeral directors.

The pair were arrested on suspicion of prevention of a lawful and decent burial, fraud by false representation and fraud by abuse of position.

Humberside Police also said 34 bodies had been removed from branches of the undertakers and taken to a local mortuary, while more than 350 people have contacted a helpline set up for worried families.

Concerns were initially raised about the conduct of the Legacy funeral directors business last week.

On Wednesday, police visited three branches of the firm on Anlaby Road and Hessle Road, in Hull and one in nearby Beverley.

As a result, a criminal investigation was launched, resulting in senior officers ordering that bodies be removed from the sites over the weekend.

Humberside Police’s Assistant Chief Constable, Thom McLoughlin said: “We can confirm that a man aged 46 and a woman aged 23 have been arrested on suspicion of prevention of a lawful and decent burial, fraud by false representation and fraud by abuse of position and remain in police custody at this time.

“As part of our investigation, as of today, we can confirm 34 deceased people have now been respectfully transported from Legacy funeral directors based on Hessle Road to the mortuary in Hull for formal identification procedures to take place.

“Since the report on Wednesday March 6, cordons remain in place at all three Legacy independent funeral directors premises.

“The dedicated phone line remains open and has received over 350 calls from concerned members of the public since Friday.

“We continue to encourage anyone who has used Legacy independent funeral directors and has concerns to call us on 0800 051 4674 or 0207 126 7619 if you are calling from abroad.”

On its website, the firm prided itself on “quality through care and respect” and said that it held “traditional funerals undertaken to meet your needs”.

It said it was “family owned and run” and that “we are an independent, family-owned business offering our clients an exceptional level of care and attention”.

The firm charges £970 for a cremation, including transport and a simple coffin, and £2,799 for traditional funerals.

It was established in 2010 and said it was “proud to serve” communities in Hull and East Yorkshire and it provided a “dedicated and unsurpassed personal service” that would “create a unique farewell for loved ones, with more flexibility and less constraint than our competitors”.

“With such breadth of experience, you and your family are assured the best service and care available,” it added.

The company’s accounts were overdue and it was due to be struck off the register, according to documents on Companies House this week.

In the financial year up to April 2022, it turned over £74, 450, made a profit of £5,000 and had two employees.

Police acknowledged that, coming on Mother’s Day, the news would be upsetting for anyone who might be affected.

“Each call we receive is being carefully handled and delicately assessed by a specialist team to ensure we have a thorough understanding of each family’s circumstances,” Mr McLoughlin added.

“We will get back to each and every one of you as soon as we can.

“Please be reassured that my staff and officers are working around the clock to deal with the unprecedented inquiries generated as a result of this incident.

“Families affected continue to be supported by family liaison officers at what we appreciate is an extremely distressing time for all involved.

“These officers are also working closely with our partners to ensure that families are provided with the most appropriate care and support for their personal circumstances whilst our investigation continues.

“Victim support also has a dedicated telephone line which is available to anyone who is experiencing distress or concern and would like advice and guidance.”

Mr McLoughlin added: “On behalf of all of our police officers and staff, particularly today, on Mother’s Day, our thoughts remain with all families that have been affected because of this incident.

“I know many families will need and want much more information and we will continue to release updates as soon as we are able but cannot jeopardise the ongoing investigation in any way.

“May I take this opportunity to remind the public to show the utmost respect and privacy for any bereaved families and their loved ones within our community.”

A spokesman for the National Association of Funeral Directors said the firm was not a member of its association.

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‘Plane just dropped out of sky,’ says passenger on flight from Sydney to Auckland as fifty injured

About 50 people needed medical treatment after being thrown from their seats by severe turbulence during a flight from Sydney to Auckland on Monday.

The plane, a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, was operated by LATAM Airlines which said it had suffered a “technical event during the flight which caused a strong movement”.

Thirteen of the injured passengers and crew were taken to hospital with one person in a serious condition.

Brian Jokat, a passenger, recalled how “all of a sudden the plane just dropped out of the sky”, just over half way through the three-hour flight.

Mr Jokat told New Zealand news outlet Stuff that he woke up from a nap to see the man from the seat next to him thrown violently into the ceiling of the plane.

“His back is on the ceiling and he’s up in the air and then he drops down and hits his head on the armrest,” said Mr Jokat. “The whole plane is screaming.

“The plane then started taking a nosedive and I was just thinking ‘OK this is it, we’re done’.”

No emergency landing required

The plane’s trajectory was quickly stabilised and no emergency landing was required.

Mr Jokat said he witnessed injured passengers and crew being treated in the aisles of the cabin.

“The ceiling’s broken from people’s heads and bodies hitting it,” he said. “Basically neck braces were being put on people, heads were cut and there was bleeding. It was just crazy.”

Mr Jokat, who had been wearing his seatbelt so did not suffer any injury, said there was no turbulence after the incident.

After landing safely in Auckland, he said the pilot came to the back of the plane in “shock”.

“I asked ‘what happened?’ and he said ‘my gauges just blanked out, I lost all of my ability to fly the plane’,” he added.

Another passenger told Radio New Zealand that some people who weren’t wearing seatbelts “flew through the cabin” and others “hit the roof”.

“One of the crew members got hit really badly on his head,” said the passenger. “He was sitting right behind me because there was an empty seat and they were asking us to not let him fall asleep,” said the passenger.

The flight originated in Australia with the plane due to stop over in Auckland before heading on to Santiago, Chile.

In a statement, LATAM Airlines said: “As a result of the incident, some passengers and cabin crew were affected. They received immediate assistance and were evaluated or treated by medical staff at the airport as needed.”

The airline added that it “deeply regrets any inconvenience and discomfort this situation may have caused”.

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Labour comes out against a UAE-backed takeover of The Telegraph

Labour has come out against a UAE-backed takeover of The Telegraph. 

Thangam Debbonaire, the shadow culture secretary, told The Spectator that the view of the party “is that foreign governments should not own national newspapers. This is a bid by a foreign power, funded by the deputy prime minister of the UAE, and as such this bid should not pass”.

It comes as the Government is understood to be considering an overhaul of Britain’s media ownership laws to restrict foreign state influence.

RedBird IMI, a fund 75 per cent financed by the UAE, is trying to gain control of The Daily Telegraph, The Sunday Telegraph and the Spectator magazine.

The attempted takeover is stuck in limbo as the Culture Department waits for the media regulator Ofcom and the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to complete investigations.

Ofcom is scheduled to deliver its report to Lucy Frazer, the Culture Secretary, today. She would then be able to block the deal following further investigation by the CMA of its potential threat to press freedom.

Ms Debbonaire told the Spectator: “My view – and the view of the Labour party – is that foreign governments should not own national newspapers. This is a bid by a foreign power, funded by the deputy prime minister of the UAE, and as such this bid should not pass. Labour is unequivocal and unambiguous on this point: ownership by a foreign power is incompatible with press freedom, which is essential in a democracy.”

Past concerns about foreign bids

Meanwhile Tom Tugendhat, the security minister who attends Cabinet, said the Government “shouldn’t be shy about standing up for ourselves” on foreign state ownership bids.

Mr Tugendhat said: “You’ll understand that I can’t comment on the RedBird deal specifically and I just wouldn’t want to prejudge it. It wouldn’t be right.

“However, look, more broadly, I’ve expressed concerns in the past about foreign bids of strategically important British assets. Whether that be Newport Wafer Fab or Arm or Deep Mind, I’ve already made my views clear.

“Before selling these kinds of assets we should ask whether it’s in the long-term interests of the United Kingdom. And if the answer’s no, we shouldn’t be shy about standing up for ourselves and saying so.”

In a significant intervention by a minister as the Government weighs up its options, Mr Tugendhat added later in his LBC interview: “This is a really important aspect of our national security and we’ve always made it very clear that when decisions need to be taken, we’ll take them and we’ll make the right decision for the United Kingdom.”

The Government has issued a write-round to ministers, proposing either giving Parliament a veto over any proposed foreign state ownership of UK newspapers, or determining a threshold for the Government to intervene in foreign state ownership bids based on the level or type of investment.

It comes after Baroness Stowell, the Tory chairman of the Communications and Digital Committee, tabled an amendment to the Digital Markets Bill which would give Parliament a veto on foreign states taking over UK news organisations.

It is due to be debated and voted on this Wednesday.

More than 100 MPs, led by Robert Jenrick, the former Tory immigration minister, have announced their support for the amendment from Lady Stowell, who was Tory leader of the Lords when Lord Cameron was prime minister.

However, Mr Sunak’s decision on what action the Government will take is expected to be made before the debate on Wednesday. Any government amendment would likely be made to the Enterprise Act.

It is understood that once the Government has decided upon its intervention, ministers would encourage Lady Stowell to withdraw her amendment.

MPs across political spectrum criticised deal

On Monday morning, Bridget Phillipson, Labour’s shadow education secretary, suggested that Labour would work with the Government on measures to protect newspapers and media organisations from “undue influence”. 

Asked about the proposed takeover of The Telegraph and Lady Stowell’s amendment, Ms Phillipson said that “right across the party lines” politicians want to protect the freedom of the press. 

Ms Phillipson told BBC Radio Four’s Today programme: “Of course questions of ownership are important. I think what all of us would want to see right across party lines is a free and fair press, and where we don’t have undue influence and we would want to look carefully at any proposals about that.”

The party had indicated that it would give its peers a free vote on Lady Stowell’s amendment, rather than instructing them to back it. 

Lady Stowell had written to the 170 Labour peers seeking their support.

The scale of concern about the proposed UAE-backed takeover of The Telegraph emerged in a House of Commons debate in January, when MPs from across the political spectrum criticised the deal.

Alicia Kearns, the Tory MP for Rutland and Melton, who heads up the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, said in that debate: “We are dealing with something that will make us vulnerable not for five or 10 years, but for the rest of our lives, and we cannot afford for our media to be undermined.”

John Nicolson, the SNP MP, said “allowing the UAE to take over The Telegraph would be unhealthy in principle for our democracy”.

Jamie Stone, the Liberal Democrat MP, said: “The message should be passed back to the Secretary of State and to the Government that we will not wear this.”

‘Illegal in many democracies, but not yet in ours’

Commenting on the Labour announcement, Fraser Nelson, the editor of the Spectator, told the Today programme: “This is the first time we’ve had a principled statement from a frontbencher. I think Labour has moved the dial now to say this is what’s at stake here, let’s not pretend as RedBird do that the Emiratis are acting in a private capacity.

“This is a fund run by the Emirati deputy prime minister, he’s not using his own money, and this shouldn’t be allowed. It’s illegal in many democracies, but not yet in ours.”

Asked about private individuals owning newspapers more generally, Mr Nelson replied: “Newspapers have always been owned by publishers and freedom of press has always been defined for 300 years as freedom from government.”

He added: “I don’t think anybody thinks The Times reflects Rupert Murdoch’s view, and the other newspapers he owns. But newspapers only work if they have a relationship with the readers, if readers don’t buy them, they stop. That’s where the power lies, the power doesn’t come from up high.

“What the Emiratis understand is there are lots of British ministers wanting lots of their money right now. No autocracy in the world has managed to buy a newspaper in a democracy, it’s never been the case. They’ve managed to buy wind farms and airports and what have you but never, never a newspaper. So a line could be crossed here. 

“This could be the point where Britain thinks that, actually, press freedom cannot be defended in the era of rising rich autocracies and that it’s okay to let governments own newspapers.”

Asked what he thought would happen to the Spectator, Mr Nelson said it would not become an “Arab Pravda” but it would “become [a tool] of influence, be seen as a tool of influence, that would lower confidence in the publication… This is a line that no other democracy has ever crossed for good reason, Britain has kept on the right side of the line for three centuries. I think we can still manage it now.”

Lord Moore, a former editor of The Telegraph, said he would likely quit his role as a columnist at the newspaper if the takeover went ahead. 

He told the Today programme: “It wouldn’t be a problem if it was owned by someone connected to the UAE. It would be a problem if it’s owned by what is in effect, the government of the ruling family of Abu Dhabi. The problem is not foreignness, it’s a foreign state owning a national newspaper.

“I don’t think there’s any country in the world in which a foreign state is allowed to own a national newspaper. And as soon as you have a government owning a national newspaper, it’s bound to lose independence and can’t be trusted anymore. And that seems to me to be, I think any journalist would recognise that as a red line.”

The peer said the UK Government could not conceivably own The Telegraph, adding: “Why would it be allowable that it should be owned by a foreign power?”

And asked if he would continue writing his Telegraph column if the RedBird sale went ahead, Lord Moore replied: “Oh no, I don’t think so.”

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