The Telegraph 2024-03-12 01:00:33


Princess of Wales makes unexpected public appearance after ‘Photoshop’ picture apology

The Princess of Wales issued a personal apology on Monday for editing a photograph of herself with her three children before making an unexpected appearance in public in the face of growing speculation about the Royal family.

The Princess, who is not due to attend public engagements for weeks to come, was photographed with her husband in the back of a car leaving their Windsor home.

She had earlier offered an apology for a Mother’s Day photograph which was accused of being digitally “manipulated”, admitting: “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.”

She is understood to have wanted to take immediate responsibility for the mistake. The Princess has faced significant public pressure in recent weeks, and would have been keenly aware of how closely her appearance would have been scrutinised.

On Monday night, Kensington Palace was facing growing pressure to disclose what precisely had been edited, as the public questioned why it was deemed necessary to alter a family photograph featuring Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis which had been taken by their father.

The original unedited picture is not set to be released and the Palace has not yet confirmed that any particular steps will be taken to prevent similar errors in the future.

The statement has also called into question previous photographs taken of and by the Wales family.

Hours after releasing the apology, the Princess was unexpectedly photographed in a car on a public road en route to London for what was described as a private appointment.

Joined by the Prince, who was on his way to the Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey, the Princess was seen looking out of the window in Datchet, near to Windsor.

The Princess has so far taken great care not to be seen in public since an operation in January, and has been caught on camera only once – by a paparazzi with the images only published overseas.

She had been keeping a low profile at home in Adelaide Cottage while she recovers from abdominal surgery.

However, the picture taken on Monday was on a public road, as the Prince was on his way to a public engagement, and palace sources confirmed it was her sitting in the back of the car.

The Mother’s Day photograph, published on social media by Buckingham Palace, was thought to have been intended to quell speculation about the Princess’s health.

After initially being praised for its warm smiles and wholesome family scene, with the Princess looking happy and healthy, social media users began pointing out apparent errors on Sunday.

By the evening, five major global photography agencies – Getty, Associated Press, Agence France-Presse, Shutterstock and Reuters – had issued a “kill notice” for the picture, suggesting it did not reach their editorial standards.

“At closer inspection, it appears that the source has manipulated the image,” the AP notice said. A spokesman told The Telegraph: “The photo shows an inconsistency in the alignment of Princess Charlotte’s left hand.”

On Monday morning, the Press Association said it too would be withdrawing the photograph from distribution, saying it had been issued in “good faith” but that Kensington Palace had failed to respond to requests for “urgent clarification” about its concerns.

At 10.30am, the palace issued the Princess’s statement directly on Twitter, including its sign off with the initial C:

It is extremely rare for members of the Royal family to offer on-the-record written apologies, particularly signed off personally.

Later in the day, the Prince of Wales was seen smiling at the Commonwealth Day service, walking through Westminster Abbey in procession with the Queen followed by the Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh and the Princess Royal.

He later delivered a speech at an event for his Earthshot Prize and its new funding platform Launchpad, in which he warned humanity was in a “critical decade” to save the planet.

The photograph had been the first authorised image of the Princess since Christmas Day, when she walked to Sandringham church with the Royal family.

It was taken on Friday night by the Prince of Wales at Adelaide Cottage, the family’s Windsor home.

However, analysis of the photograph’s metadata – the information attached to a picture about its source – suggests that multiple images had been merged to produce it.

A horizontal line stretching across the Princess’s chest appears to indicate that the section of the image featuring her face was cut out and replaced, slightly out of alignment.

Questions have also been raised about Princess Charlotte’s jumper, which appears inconsistent in terms of its colour and focus, and seems to have part of the wrist missing.

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

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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 deputy 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 had not 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”.

The New Conservatives group on the Right of the party have said Mr Sunak must “change course urgently” as they insisted responsibility for Mr Anderson’s defection “sits with the Conservative Party”.

In a statement on behalf of the group – a collection of 20 or so MPs who mostly represent 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.”

They added: “We urge our colleagues to work with us to develop a bold new offer, consistent with the spirit of 2019, that will convince our lost voters that we present a genuine alternative to Labour and the best hope for Britain.”

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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Potholes are your problem to fix, council tells 101-year-old woman

 A 101-year-old woman was told by her council that the potholes on her road were her problem to fix.

Residents in Watchet, Somerset, claim that they live on “the most potholed road in England” and accused their local authority of refusing to repair it.

Residents in the seaside town say they are unable to safely use the lane, which has a total of 21 potholes.

“They said we could do the work ourselves and fix them – absurd,” said Brian Pankhurst, 79. “We are all elderly residents and don’t have that kind of money.”

The lane’s residents include Sheila Nicholls, who at 101 is one of Somerset’s oldest people.

She said the situation was “awful” and “very unsafe”, with six people having fallen over on the road surface and two of those ending up in hospital.

‘‘How can you tell a 101-year-old to fill their own potholes,” Mr Pankhurst said.

Their road leads on to the former West Somerset Mineral Line, which is an 11-mile long route of a Victorian-era railway. It is now a popular walking and cycle route that connects the town to Washford village.

Somerset council admitted “there are some potholes” but insisted that the lane was “still accessible for walkers” and that it was not solely responsible for the lane’s upkeep because it was a public right of way.

Local authorities are required to maintain all public roads, whereas a public right of way is a privately owned road that the public are entitled to use but which the local authority is not necessarily required to maintain.

“This lane is a public right of way, not a public road, which is used by residents to access their properties,” a spokesman said.

“Therefore, the responsibility for the upkeep of this lane is complex and there will need to be a shared approach to maintenance going forward.”

‘Absolutely appalling’

But Mr Pankhurst said it was unacceptable that the council had not repaired the lane since locals alerted it to the potholes two years ago.

“Since an email in October from the council saying they would come and take a look, we haven’t heard anything. They think if they ignore us they can get away with it,” he said.

“The council are trying to say it is our responsibility, but if it

’s our responsibility why was it tarmacked in the first place?

“It is not a private road, it is a footpath – and that is public. Why should we be responsible for maintaining it? That is absolutely appalling.”

Locals signed a petition in 2022 asking that the council resurface the lane rather than filling each pothole individually.

‘Getting worse and worse’

But rather than listening to their concerns, he says the council’s highways team told them it “was nothing to do with them”.

“It has been going on for two years and it is getting worse and worse,” he said.

“They have tried to blame it on cars – but people have barely got cars round here as we are all retired; it is absurd. Everyone is getting fed up with it.”

The council spokesman added: “We do understand people’s concerns and we are going to work with residents to try to come to a workable solution.”

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Caribbean countries say UK must pay reparations for ‘indentured labour’

Caribbean nations are set to demand that Britain make reparations for indentured labour in addition to slavery, in a major expansion of the campaign to address colonialism.

Countries that have pushed for payments on slavery are now planning to seek reparative justice surrounding the 500,000 indentured workers shipped from India to work on sugar plantations after African slaves were freed.

Under the indenture system, workers agreed to work for a set number of years in exchange for a pay-off at the end, such as land or a return passage to their place of origin, but most never returned after being duped into their bonded labour.

Exporting indentured labour to the Caribbean was pioneered by Sir John Gladstone, a 19th-century landowner in British Guiana, and father of William Gladstone, who would become prime minister.

Guyana, as it has been known since independence in 1966, received the most indentured labourers of any Caribbean colony, and its leaders are in favour of fresh action to secure reparations.

President Mohammad Irfaan Ali told The Telegraph:  “All those nations that benefited from abominable systems need to do the morally right thing and to accept their complicity in historical wrongs.”

He said leaders were “prepared to examine” the issue of “the atrocities committed under Indian indentured immigration”.

‘History is on our side’

Mr Ali believes the push for reparations will be successful, saying:  “There is a growing awareness in both Britain and in many European capitals about the need for reparative justice. History is on our side, and we are also on the right side of history.”

He said his government would work with other Caribbean nations and “continue to raise the issue of reparative justice whenever we are afforded the opportunity to do so”.

While Mr Ali is “convinced that there were grave atrocities committed under Indian indentured immigration”, he made clear “that these cannot be compared with the genocide against indigenous peoples and African enslavement”, which was a “crime against humanity” and would remain the focus of Caribbean campaigning.

Guyana is one of 14 member states within the Caribbean Community (Caricom), which has sought reparations from Britain and other former colonial powers. It has recently pivoted to a plan to demand payments from businesses and institutions connected to slavery. 

Caricom, which is chaired by Mr Ali, previously set out its formal demands in a 10-point plan detailing why and in what form slavery reparations should be given, from apologies to payments and debt cancellations.

In 2014, this was put to European governments that have not offered any redress to date. David Cameron ruled out reparations in a 2015 visit to Jamaica, highlighting Britain’s role in eliminating the slave trade, and Rishi Sunak rejected calls for reparative payments in 2023.

The Telegraph has learned that this list of demands is currently being updated to include indentured labour, with the formal document set to be put to Britain and other former colonial powers.

Heads of government in the Caribbean will then help to decide the best way to lobby Britain and other countries for reparations.

Indenture came with basic freedoms and pay, and pulled in labour from Portugal, Ireland and China as well as India.

The issue is distinct from chattel slavery, under which African slaves were treated as property with no rights, no pay and no prospect of freedom from their bondage.

Because of these differences, it has been suggested by some sources that using Caricom’s existing infrastructure of slavery campaign groups may be inappropriate.

Indentured labourers were bound to agreements to work for a set amount of time, and while they were paid, the use of so-called “coolies” was brutal and known in the 19th century as “a new system of slavery”.

Sir John Gladstone’s aim was to replace slave labour following abolition taking effect in 1834.

Slaves faced a period of “apprenticeship” until 1838, during which time they remained tied to the land as a source of cheap labour for planters.

As this date approached, Gladstone wrote to friends in the Foreign Office in 1837 and obtained permission to recruit “hill coolies from Bengal” to work his land – a replacement for slave labour which was taken up by other planters across the Empire.

In 2023, his descendant Charles Gladstone travelled to Guyana to offer a formal apology for the practices of his great-great-great grandfather.

Indentured labourers were largely recruited from the illiterate Indian peasantry, often without knowing what they were signing up to, and shipped to the Caribbean where they faced years of hard labour, disease and a lack of basic rights.

More than 200,000 East Indian labourers went to Guyana under the indenture system, and the largest ethnic group of its modern population – 39 per cent – is now of Indian descent.

Indentured labour was also used in other colonies, including South Africa, where young lawyer Mohandas Gandhi, later conferred with the honorific “Mahatma”, would first make his name campaigning successfully against the system which was officially abolished in 1917.

 

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‘Sexual abuse’ affected my relationships with women, says Earl Spencer

Earl Spencer has said the sexual abuse he allegedly suffered as a private school pupil has affected his relationships with women.

In a book to be published this week, the Earl, who is the younger brother of the Diana, Princess of Wales, claims he was molested by a female assistant matron at Maidwell Hall prep school in Northamptonshire in the 1970s.

He writes that the alleged paedophile, who was in her late teens or early 20s, sexually abused him and other pupils while they were in their dormitory beds at night.

Discussing the book on ITV’s Lorraine morning show, the 59-year-old was asked about how the alleged abuse had affected his relationships with women in his life.

He said: “I think that’s logically the case. I have to have been affected. This isn’t all about me. I look at my friends and contemporaries from this school and other schools that were equally bad and I can see the effect on them psychologically is so hard.

“The good thing is, you could plonk me anywhere in the world and I’m going to survive because I went through this.

“At the same time, something small but important in me died during those five years in that school.”

‘This is so appalling’ 

Earl Spencer told Lorraine Kelly that he did not plan to write the memoir, A Very Private School.

He said: “I just kept a little folder on my computer and I put memories of this school in there.

“Then I suddenly realised I had 700 headings and themes of nightmarish things that happened at the school, and happy ones – I made friends and had a good education.

“Then I met a friend who had been there who had his life completely devastated. He was sexually assaulted very seriously many times.

“He had never told anyone about it, and he told me, and I said ‘this is so appalling’ and he just grabbed my arm and said ‘someone has to write about this’.

“At that stage I was wondering if I would write it, because it’s quite a thing to take on, but then I thought ‘right, I’m going to do this now’.”

Maidwell Hall has described the allegations as difficult to read and has made a referral to the Local Authority Designated Officer.

A spokesman for the school has urged other pupils with similar allegations to come forward and report them to either the school, the local authority or the police.

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Potholes are your problem to fix, council tells 101-year-old woman

 A 101-year-old woman was told by her council that the potholes on her road were her problem to fix.

Residents in Watchet, Somerset, claim that they live on “the most potholed road in England” and accused their local authority of refusing to repair it.

Residents in the seaside town say they are unable to safely use the lane, which has a total of 21 potholes.

“They said we could do the work ourselves and fix them – absurd,” said Brian Pankhurst, 79. “We are all elderly residents and don’t have that kind of money.”

The lane’s residents include Sheila Nicholls, who at 101 is one of Somerset’s oldest people.

She said the situation was “awful” and “very unsafe”, with six people having fallen over on the road surface and two of those ending up in hospital.

‘‘How can you tell a 101-year-old to fill their own potholes,” Mr Pankhurst said.

Their road leads on to the former West Somerset Mineral Line, which is an 11-mile long route of a Victorian-era railway. It is now a popular walking and cycle route that connects the town to Washford village.

Somerset council admitted “there are some potholes” but insisted that the lane was “still accessible for walkers” and that it was not solely responsible for the lane’s upkeep because it was a public right of way.

Local authorities are required to maintain all public roads, whereas a public right of way is a privately owned road that the public are entitled to use but which the local authority is not necessarily required to maintain.

“This lane is a public right of way, not a public road, which is used by residents to access their properties,” a spokesman said.

“Therefore, the responsibility for the upkeep of this lane is complex and there will need to be a shared approach to maintenance going forward.”

‘Absolutely appalling’

But Mr Pankhurst said it was unacceptable that the council had not repaired the lane since locals alerted it to the potholes two years ago.

“Since an email in October from the council saying they would come and take a look, we haven’t heard anything. They think if they ignore us they can get away with it,” he said.

“The council are trying to say it is our responsibility, but if it

’s our responsibility why was it tarmacked in the first place?

“It is not a private road, it is a footpath – and that is public. Why should we be responsible for maintaining it? That is absolutely appalling.”

Locals signed a petition in 2022 asking that the council resurface the lane rather than filling each pothole individually.

‘Getting worse and worse’

But rather than listening to their concerns, he says the council’s highways team told them it “was nothing to do with them”.

“It has been going on for two years and it is getting worse and worse,” he said.

“They have tried to blame it on cars – but people have barely got cars round here as we are all retired; it is absurd. Everyone is getting fed up with it.”

The council spokesman added: “We do understand people’s concerns and we are going to work with residents to try to come to a workable solution.”

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Met chief hits out at ‘armchair commentators’ who criticise police

Sir Mark Rowley has attacked “armchair commentators” who criticise the police, as he defended officers who arrested an anti-Hamas protester.

The Met Commissioner said policing was “complex, challenging and messy” and officers were often forced to act quickly and decisively without the benefit of seeing a full incident unfold.

He said they were also forced to do their job in the “glare of hundreds of people who were ready to film their every moment” and then were quick to criticise them on social media.

His comments came in the wake of a row at the weekend over the arrest of a man carrying an anti-Hamas placard at a pro-Palestinian rally.

Niyak Ghorbani, 38, an Iranian man who was carrying a sign reading “Hamas is terrorist”, was pulled to the ground and handcuffed by officers during Saturday’s march through central London.

He was arrested over an allegation of assault but was later de-arrested after officers reviewed footage of the incident.

The incident has led to criticism of the Met, with Robert Jenrick, the former immigration minister, accusing the force of failing to tackle “the mob” and putting free speech at risk.

He said: “This shameful incident is the logical endpoint of consistently prioritising ‘community relations’ over even-handedly enforcing the law: the mob is emboldened and free speech is threatened.

“It’s a chilling inversion of what law enforcement is about. Two-tier policing must end.”

But in a lengthy statement, first published on the LinkedIn website, Sir Mark hit out at what he called “armchair commentators”.

He said: “The reality is that policing is complex, challenging and can look messy. We expect officers to arrive on the scene quickly and act with limited information based on what they see.

“They don’t have the benefit of being able to watch a full incident unfold before deciding what to do, they have to be decisive and act quickly. And they do so in the glare of hundreds of people ready to film their every moment.

“There aren’t many professions where from the minute you arrive at an incident to the minute you leave, you are filmed and then critiqued by an army of armchair commentators.

“Yet this is what happens to our officers and they still come back to work the next day.”

Sir Mark also warned of the impact this was having on his officers, claiming it could put people off remaining in or joining the police.

He said the Met would always support its officers and criticised those who attacked the police for “point scoring”.

“No police officer should be subject to abuse just for doing the job that the public and senior leaders ask and expect of them. We won’t accept it, and where it crosses the line into criminality we will take action.

“It is right that we are accountable and we will continue to explain ourselves in reasoned discourse and debate. But I will always stand up for my officers when they are abused or used for point scoring.”

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