INDEPENDENT 2024-03-13 10:03:57


Why everything you think you know about daily step counts is wrong

It is one of those health messages that has become lodged into our public health consciousness. But despite us being told to aim for 10,000 steps a day, the average British person still only takes between 3-4,000 steps a day, according to the NHS. And those who work from home could be taking much less.

So, the new research from the London School of Economics (LSE) showing that walking 5,000 steps three times a week could add three years to your life will be welcome news for many. It seems that finally there is something that most of us can happily achieve without too much extra effort.

A third of us are currently considered inactive because we do less than the government’s guidelines of 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week, the equivalent of 20 minutes – approximately 2,400 steps – walking a day. The LSE research found that regular walking for more than two years adds 2.5 years to the life expectancy of physically inactive men and three years for inactive women.

Andrew Tate to be extradited to UK to face rape and human trafficking allegations

Andrew Tate will be extradited to the UK to face allegations of sexual aggression after his Romanian trial proceedings have concluded, a court has ruled.

Bedfordshire Police said the force has obtained a European arrest warrant and is working with authorities in Romania.

Controversial influencer Tate, 37, and his brother Tristan, 35, were detained on Tuesday after the UK authorities issued a warrant for charges dating from 2012 to 2015.

Appearing at Bucharest Court of Appeal, a judge approved their extradition for when their trial for separate offences of rape and human trafficking ends. They have both been released from police custody following the hearing.

It comes after lawyers representing four women who accuse Tate of rape and sexual assault wrote to UK police to request his detention over fears he would flee Romania.

A statement from law firm McCue Jury & Partners, the lawyers acting on behalf of Tate’s British accusers, said: “Last week, we received information that Tate might have been planning to flee Romania, where he is due to stand trial for separate allegations of rape and human trafficking.

It is believed this may have been sparked by comments made by blogger Adin Ross, who told his followers during a Kick live stream on 5 March that he had received a text from Tate, who told him he was leaving Romania for good.

In response, a spokesperson for the Tate brothers said they “unequivocally deny” accusations that they intended to abscond to evade judicial proceedings, adding they were committed to participating in the legal process.

“We believe this rumour has originated from a popular online influencer who misconstrued a text message from our clients while streaming live. There is simply no truth to it,” their spokesperson said.

The law firm representing the four women said the accusations were the subject of an investigation by Hertfordshire Constabulary closed in 2019, with the Crown Prosecution Service deciding against pursuing charges.

The women announced last year they were preparing to sue Tate in London’s High Court and launched a campaign page, which said it was their “one remaining route to hold him accountable”.

It is understood the current arrest warrant, issued by Westminster Magistrates’ Court, relates to other alleged offences being investigated by Bedfordshire Police.

In a short statement issued on Tuesday, the Tates’ representative said: “This bewildering revival of decade-old accusations has left the Tate brothers dismayed and deeply troubled.

“They categorically reject all charges and express profound disappointment that such serious allegations are being resurrected without substantial new evidence.

“The Tate brothers assert that the timing and circumstances surrounding the reappearance of these allegations raise serious questions about the motives behind this legal action.

“The suggestion that Mr Tate’s rise to fame may have played a role in these developments adds another layer of distress and concern.”

While his lawyer spoke to reporters outside of court, Tate has only tweeted on the platform Twitter/X: “The Matrix is afraid, but I only fear God.” The “Matrix” is a term that he uses to refer to a supposed wide-ranging conspiracy targeting men.

The Tate brothers are also charged with rape, human trafficking and forming a criminal gang to sexually exploit women in a separate case in Romania after being arrested in the country’s capital in December 2022 alongside two Romanian women.

They have denied the charges and are awaiting trial, with Tate winning an appeal in August 2023 to be released from house arrest. Both brothers are now able to travel within Romania but cannot leave the country, with their recent request to visit their hospitalised mother in the UK turned down.

In January, a Romanian court also overturned a decision to seize their assets, which included 15 supercars, more than 10 properties and 14 designer watches.

Former kickboxer Tate has attracted millions of followers in recent years by styling himself as the “king of toxic masculinity” on social media.

He has since been banned from certain platforms including Facebook and Instagram for espousing misogynistic views, which included that women were the property of their husbands.

England’s worst bus operator named by travel watchdog

England’s worst bus operator has been revealed by a transport watchdog.

The Transport Focus research showed that passengers travelling in urban metropolitan areas across England are less satisfied (78%) on average compared with those making journeys elsewhere.

Arriva in West Yorkshire has been ranked England’s worst bus operator.

Just 66% of passengers were satisfied with their last journey, a survey by watchdog Transport Focus covering 55 operators indicated.

Yorkshire towns and cities served by Arriva buses include Leeds and Wakefield.

Arriva, based in Sunderland, is one of the UK’s largest train and bus operators.

It is a subsidiary of Germany’s state-owned transport giant Deutsche Bahn but a takeover by US-based infrastructure investor I Squared Capital understood to be worth around 1.6 billion euro (£1.4 billion) was agreed in October last year.

The watchdog said: “This is not surprising as urban metropolitan services are the most likely to be affected by crowding, and are most likely to encounter traffic and roadworks, making services run late.

“Crowding makes people less satisfied, even when they can get a seat.

“Passengers who sat next to someone they didn’t know are significantly less satisfied than those who didn’t.”

The top-ranked operator was Stagecoach in Portsmouth, which had a passenger satisfaction score of 91%.

Transport Focus found that overall, 80% of bus passengers in England were satisfied with their last journey, with 8% dissatisfied.

It said bus drivers can “make or break a journey”, with passengers noting if they wait until someone is seated before moving off, and how careful they drive.

The research, which was conducted for the first time, gathered feedback on more than 35,000 journeys in England.

Transport Focus director David Sidebottom said: “It is good to see many passengers are satisfied with their journey.

“Eighty per cent overall satisfaction is a good start.

“However, wide variation in scores show that some passengers are being let down.

“As congestion continues to bite, Government, bus operators and local authorities must work together so that passengers see the improvements in reliability, journey times and better value for money fares promised in the national bus strategy.

“We’ll be using the results from this survey as a benchmark for local transport authorities and bus operators to drive improvements and attract more people onto buses.”

Graham Vidler, chief executive for industry body the Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT), said: “It’s great to see eight out of 10 passengers were satisfied with their last bus journey, and even better to see satisfaction as high as 90% in some areas such as Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole or the East Riding of Yorkshire.

“To drive improvements for bus passengers right across the country, operators and local authorities will want to learn from these high-performing places.

“These results also highlight the persistent challenge posed by road congestion when it comes to delivering reliable, punctual bus services, especially in peak periods.

“This is why it’s vital local authorities invest in measures to give buses priority on key routes, and it’s why CPT is calling on the next government to require all local authorities to improve bus speeds by 10% over the next five years.

“Given that bus drivers are the most thanked profession in the country, it’s also gratifying for bus operators to learn that this survey also found 85% of passengers were satisfied with their bus driver.”

The PA news agency approached Arriva for a comment.

Kate felt ‘awful’ over Mother’s Day photo furore after editing shot to make it ‘best it could be’

A major American broadcaster has now begun reviewing all Kensington Palace handout photos as the Princess of Wales feels “awful” over the doctored picture at the centre of an escalating royal row.

CNN revealed it has been forced to make the move after Kate Middleton publicly apologised and admitted to releasing an edited family photo of herself and her three children for Mother’s Day.

Within hours of the palace sharing it on social media, international picture agencies began recalling the image, citing fears it had been “manipulated”, as eagle-eyed royal fans pointed out numerous editing concerns.

Despite coming under pressure to repair the PR damage caused by the controversy, the palace refused to release the original unedited photo.

In a damning analysis of the furore, CNN said the image had been issued for editorial purposes and media organisations “expect those images to be accurate”. The broadcaster said they “regard it as unacceptable to move, change or manipulate the pixels of an image”.

The princess said she had just “tried to make it the best it could be” because she knew how important it was for it to be “a nice picture”, a royal insider told The Times.

UK braces for two-day washout with flood warnings in place

Britons have been asked to brace for heavy rainfall over the next couple of days with outbreaks of rain expected over the entire country.

This week has remained unsettled with occasional heavy rains. Showers also hit London with travel chaos, bringing the Paddington station to a halt on Tuesday.

The rainfall is expected to get heavier and wider over the next couple of days with more flood alerts in place.

The environment agency has issued 41 warnings for possible flooding and 171 alerts for potential flooding – 40 more than Tuesday.

On Wednesday, northern parts of the UK will experience a slow-moving band of rain, while southern England and Wales can expect drier conditions with mostly cloudy skies.

As this band moves away from Northern Scotland, leaving it with windy conditions and gales, it will cover Scotland, Northern Ireland, Northern England and Wales.

Heaviest rain is expected in Northern England of up to 8mm per hour.

“For much of the country it’s a cloudy start for the day and it’s also wet across Scotland, northern England as well as Wales,” said Met Office meteorologist Clare Nasir.

“The rain clears Northern Ireland through the morning. The central belt is seeing more cloud, but that should clear up as well.”

This band of rain is expected to stay longer over northern England and Wales bringing occasionally heavy showers throughout the day.

“So this rain continues to bother northern England, and northern parts of Wales, through Wednesday evening and overnight,” Ms Nasir said.

“And again some heavier pulses can’t be ruled out as it slowly nudges in across southern counties of Scotland, pushing across Northern Ireland as well.”

Further south, there will be some patchy drizzle over the west and some cloud from the Midlands, south Lincolnshire, down towards the southeast.

But the weather will remain exceptionally mild for this time of the year with mercury reaching around 14 or 15C in England, especially in the west.

And for Scotland and Northern Ireland there will be some sunshine through the afternoon.

The trend of rainy weather continues on Thursday, particularly in western regions where heavy rain is expected at times.

However, some fine and dry intervals are forecasted for the southeast. Temperatures are expected to rise gradually through the week.

“And again, some heavier bursts can’t be ruled out through Thursday evening and overnight,” Ms Nasir said.

“This whole system again, pushing north eastwards through Thursday evening, with clearer skies across the far north until much later and into Friday,” she said.

“It’s pretty much showery wherever you are.”

The weekend also brings continued unsettled but mild weather across the UK, the forecast shows. Sunday will see rain clearing eastward, followed by showers, potentially heavy in the west.

Island-hopping in the Ionian sea: a guide to Greece’s idyllic islands

Mamma Mia! It’s time to start thinking about a summer holiday, and there’s nowhere more picturesque and dreamy than a Greek island. With an estimated 1,600 isles, although not all are inhabited, there’s plenty to choose from that guarantee sparkling seas, golden sands, rugged nature, delicious food, and a warm welcome.

To help you find your ideal Greek island holiday this summer, travel experts Jet2holidays offer great-value breaks in more than 50 amazing destinations, including 21 in Greece. Hotspots and hidden gems, all boards and budgets, flexible stays and fab flight times – there’s something for everyone. With just a £60pp deposit*, 22kg baggage included and flexible monthly payments** to help spread the cost of your well-deserved holiday, it’s never been easier to get your next Greek getaway booked. 

What’s more, with the Jet2holidays sale now on, you can enjoy even better value on your break with up to £240 off† all holidays. Simply sign up for a myJet2 account, visit your independent travel agent or call the Jet2holidays contact centre. Book now and let the countdown to sunshine begin.

Here’s our pick of some of the best islands Greece has to offer…

Stunning beaches are a given in Greece, and in Corfu, the most beautiful include Agios Georgios, a long, horseshoe-shaped bay with a mix of sand and pebbles fringing calm, clear waters. Down the northwest coast is the pretty village of Palaiokastritsa which boasts six sheltered bays and offers boat trips to the fascinating Blue Caves. For a beach as romantic as its name, head to the Canal d’Amour, where a series of unique rock formations create intimate, narrow channels; legend has it that couples who swim between the sea walls together, stay together!

Explore the cobbled streets of Corfu Old Town, and take in pastel-coloured Venetian architecture while looking out for the new and old Fortresses which loom over the harbour. Base yourself at the swish Olivar Suites on the southeastern coast, a restful haven set in olive groves, away from the bustle.

Lefkas, also known as Lefkada, is an island connected to the Greek mainland by a causeway. Head to the beach at Porto Katsiki, located below a set of huge, looming cliffs which create a unique and dramatic landscape. Another gem is nearby Egremni, a classic, Caribbean-style stretch of white sand, fringing crystal-clear turquoise water, while if you fancy windsurfing, head to Vasiliki. On the east coast, check into the four-star, beachfront Porto Galini Sea Side Resort and Spa; handily, it’s just 15 minutes’ drive from Lefkada Town.

Also formerly under Venetian rule, landmarks including Church of the Pantokrator and the ruins of Agia Mavra Castle are worth a look. Escape to a pretty coastal village, such as Agios Nikitas or Nikiana, where you can take a table at a seafront taverna, and tuck into local speciality Englouvi lentils served with riganada (bread with olive oil, vinegar, and oregano). For a foray into nature, head to the spectacular waterfalls of Dimossari, near Nydri village.

Also known as Zakynthos, Zante is a popular island in the Ionian Sea, with a plethora of alluring beaches. The most famous is Navagio, which is surrounded by dramatic, honey-coloured cliffs and often called ‘Shipwreck Beach’ after the cargo boat which ran aground there in 1980, another must-visit is Agios Nikolaos, a serene pebbly stretch on Zante’s northern shore.

Stay at the luxury Domes Aulus Zante Autograph Collection, a laidback beachfront paradise on the south coast, near the quiet resort town of Kalamaki, where you can spot endangered loggerhead turtles. Zante has its own Blue Caves, a set of geological formations turned azure by the reflections of the sea, while its capital, Zakynthos Town, offers architecture influenced by its former Venetian, French and English rulers. Don’t miss the imposing Church of Agios Dionysios with its signature bell tower, and the ruins of the old Venetian Castle.

Sprinkled with Hollywood stardust, scenic Kefalonia was the location for the Nicolas Cage and Penelope Cruz movie, Captain Correlli’s Mandolin. Key scenes were shot in the harbour town of Sami, the stunning Antisamos beach and in the picturesque fishing village of Fiscardo. Kefalonia’s jagged coastline is made up of limestone cliffs, bays and strips of dazzling white sand, like Myrtos Beach in the north. Other standout beaches include Skala, bordered by thick trees and rocky outcrops, and the unusually named Xi beach, where white cliffs contrast with rare, rust-coloured sand.

Stay at the luxurious, contemporary, adults-only Thalassa Boutique Hotel Kefalonia on the southwest coast, a short drive from capital, Argostoli, where you can explore the Archaeological Museum, Municipal Theatre and historic castles and monasteries. For something more adventurous, explore the vast azure lake inside Melissani cave or hike Mount Ainos, the island’s highest peak, covered in pine forests and home to wild horses. Visit a winery such as Robola or Haritatos for a tasting.

Jet2holidays, the UK’s number one tour operator, offers package holidays you can trust where everything’s included. With you every step of the way, Jet2holidays has an incredible range of great-value, expert-rated getaways for all types of holidaymakers, across more than 50 stunning destinations. From the five-star luxury of Indulgent Escapes by Jet2holidays® to the compelling cities of Jet2CityBreaksVIBE by Jet2holidays for Insta-worthy stays that suit your style to family-friendly Jet2Villas, the boxes are ticked for every age, budget and interest. What’s more, with holidays secured for just £60pp deposit* and flexible payment options**, plus a host of perks like 22kg baggage and return transfers included††, it’s easy from start to finish. It’s all ABTA and ATOL-protected too, so you can enjoy sunshine with peace of mind. To find out more and book with the best, head here.

*On bookings made ten weeks or more before departure. **Terms and conditions apply. Please visit www.jet2holidays.com/part-payment for details. †Based on 4 people. On all holiday departures until 31 October 2025. . T&Cs apply. £60pp discount does not apply to Free Child Places. See http://Jet2holidays.com/promotions#60OFFMYJET2SALE ††Transfers are not included as standard on Jet2CityBreaks. Jet2Villas packages include car hire instead of transfers.

The Tory party’s reaction to comments about Diane Abbott is shameful

Was what the leading Tory donor Frank Hester said about Diane Abbott racist and sexist? The words, allegedly spoken at a private meeting of the software company he owns some years ago, are certainly not pretty.

They speak for themselves: “It’s like trying not to be racist, but you see Diane Abbott on TV, and you just want to hate all Black women because she’s there, and I don’t hate all Black women at all, but I think she should be shot.”

The fact that race and gender are the whole point of his remarks necessarily makes them racist and sexist, whatever personal philosophy Mr Hester may have tried to develop for himself about these societal challenges.

Can Reform UK hit the Tories at the ballot box?

Opinion polls will soon give us some idea of the electoral impact of Lee Anderson’s journey from deputy chairman of the Conservative Party to Reform UK’s first MP. As big as news of his defection was, it’s probably not going to move the political dial much further, but it might help Reform UK build some momentum in the coming months, eroding what’s left of the Conservative vote. On past evidence, the Budget won’t have boosted the government’s chances of winning a fifth term either. More defections, and grumbling about Rishi Sunak’s policies and leadership, might follow.

There could well be. As Shakespeare put it: “When sorrows come, they come not single spies but in battalions.” The speculation is that a few – less than a half dozen – might switch, if only because they think they have little to lose. Only two Tory MPs have thus far come out and called for Sunak to quit: Andrea Jenkyns and Simon Clarke, the latter of whom seems content to carry on as unofficial secretary of the Liz Truss Fan Club. Other potential recruits include Marco Longhi (Dudley North) and Jill Mortimer (Hartlepool), who’ve both recently defended Anderson, and perhaps Miriam Cates (Penistone) and Danny Kruger (Devizes). Interestingly, Hartlepool was where Reform UK party leader Tice stood in 2019 and won a creditable 25.8 per cent of the vote, and where he is due to stand again.