INDEPENDENT 2024-03-17 16:03:48


Trump says US will see ‘bloodbath’ if he’s not re-elected

Former President Donald J Trump is appearing as a special guest speaker at a Buckeye Values PAC Rally in Dayton, Ohio one day after his criminal trial was delayed.

Mr Trump is in the state to help boost the campaign of Bernie Moreno, a car dealership owner who has his backing in the state’s US Senate primary coming this Tuesday. The former president is wading into an abnormally vicious GOP primary that appears to be neck-and-neck between three candidates, with Mr Moreno holding a slight lead.

The race turned especially ugly over the past week as supporters of Mr Moreno’s rivals circulated a story from the Associated Press revealing that an email used by the businessman was registered on the sexual rendezvous site “Adult Friend Finder”; not to be outdone, Mr Moreno’s allies launched a mailer accusing another Republican in the race, conservative Frank LaRose, of being a closet ally of the LGBT+ community.

Additionally, it was a busy week for Donald Trump’s criminal cases.

Judge Juan Merchan has ruled that his New York hush-money trial will be pushed back by 30 days from today following a dump of new evidence for both parties to consider — the original start date was 25 March.

Strictly crisis as three stars ‘meet to discuss difficult experience’

Strictly Come Dancing pro Giovanni Pernice has addressed the controversy surrounding Amanda Abbington, who unexpectedly quit the show in 2023.

While the Sherlock star originally cited “medical reasons”, she went on to request what was described by a source as “tense” footage of her rehearsals with Pernice for a supposed investigation. The actor then revealed she was “diagnosed with mild PTSD after Strictly for several reasons”.

Now, Pernice has shared his thoughts on the subject – and his musings arrive at the same time as a fresh report claims the Italian dancer was the source of complaints by two other former celebrity partners during their time on the show.

It’s being alleged that Good Morning Britain host Ranvir Singh and former Love Island presenter Laura Whitmore, who previously said she was “uncomfortable” with Pernice, had a “tearful summit” with Abbington about their respective “difficult experiences” working with the dancer, “who is well known to be intense during training”.

A source told The Sun: “They met in person to share their experiences. Their meeting was emotional but heartwarming. They now know they are there to support each other after their tough times with Giovanni. Tears were shed.

“There is every possibility all three could take it further and formally complain to the BBC, but for now they’re comforting each other.”

The Independent has contacted Pernice, Abbington, Singh and Whitmore for comment. The BBC declined to comment.

This new claim arrives as Pernice spoke about Abbington’s decision to quit the show, which he called “a shame”.

Speaking on The Mirror’s Invite Only podcast, Pernice said: “It was a shame that she had to leave for medical reasons because I think, in my opinion, we could have gone all the way.”

Pernice said his reputation as a “perfectionist” comes from “caring” about the celebrity he’s partnered with, adding: “In every single part of the world, if [you’re] a professional dancer, we have to get these people on the Saturday night looking the best as they can.

“And if we get to have good scores at the end, I look back and say ‘I’ve done a great job’. We all care about our partners and we all want to look great on the Saturday.”

When it was claimed Abbington had requested training footage, the BBC said that “robust” duty of care protocols and “constant dialogue” occurs between the show’s producers and its celebrity contestants.

Pernice has been a part of Strictly since 2015, and won legions of fans due to his onscreen camaraderie with EastEnders actor Rose Ayling-Ellis. The pair won the show in 2021.

Since the news, Pernice has been supported by his fans, and by Debbie McGee, one of his former celebrity Strictly partners.

He was partnered with Whitmore in 2016, and Singh in 2020, finishing in ninth and fifth place, respectively.

Whitmore previously criticised the show’s bosses for forcing her to spend 12 hours a day with Pernice when she “just wanted to dance”.

She also said in 2018 that she was “extremely uncomfortable” with Pernice, stating: “I’m still not ready to talk in depth about my experience on the show… In the end I felt broken. I cried every day. And I really was broken, both mentally and physically, by the end.”

Steve Harley death: Cockney Rebel musician dies aged 73

Musician Steve Harley has died of cancer, aged 73.

The singer, who performed as part of Cockney Rebel, was touring up until January but was forced to cancel dates last month after being diagnosed with cancer.

He “passed away peacefully” at his Suffolk home on Sunday morning with his family by his side, according to his daughter Greta.

“We know he will be desperately missed by people all over the world,” she wrote.

“Whoever you know him as, his heart exuded only core elements. Passion, kindness, generosity. And much more, in abundance.”

His most well-known song was “Make Me Smile (Come Up and See Me)”, which got to No 1 in February 1975. The song was the first single to be released under the name “Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel”, as opposed to simply “Cockney Rebel”.

In July 1974, the original Cockney Rebel disbanded, and Harley then assembled a new line-up later in the year. “Make Me Smile” described Harley’s feelings on the band’s split.

In a social media post on 13 February, the musician’s team wrote that Harley had hoped he would be better next year: “Due to on-going treatment for cancer, Steve cannot commit to any concerts in 2024.

“Steve is hoping next year will be altogether different. He appreciates all your kind words and good wishes. Team SH.”

Cockney Rebel gained success in the mid-1970s for their glam rock music embracing their London roots. Before their only chart-topper, they enjoyed Top 10 hits with “Judy Teen” and “Mr Soft” in 1974.

The original band was made up of Harley, Jean-Paul Crocker, drummer Stuart Elliott, bassist Paul Jeffreys and guitarist Nick Jones.

Jeffreys and his wife Rachael were killed on the way to their honeymoon in the 1988 Lockerbie bombing while on board Pan Am Flight 103.

Harley sang the title track on the original Phantom of the Opera in 1986, and successfully auditioned to play the Phantom in the classic musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber.

The musician enjoyed a brief stint as a solo artist before the band regrouped in April 1990 after the success of Harley’s 1989 tour.

From 1999 to 2008, Harley presented the BBC 2 radio show Sounds of the 70s, which is currently hosted by Tony Blackburn.

Fans shared their condolences on social media, calling him a “brilliant musician and great story teller” and a “fab live performer”.

Another added: “RIP to the great Steve Harley who was responsible for one of the best pop songs ever recorded”.

“Make Me Smile (Come Up and See Me)” was confirmed as one of the most-played songs in British broadcasting by The Performing Rights Society, and over 120 versions of the track have been recorded by other artists.

In one of his final social media posts, Harley wrote a heartfelt tribute to DJ Steve Wright.

“The news of Steve Wright’s death has shattered me. We knew each other since the early Sixties,” he wrote.

“Steve managed to be both the guy down the street and a pro working on a higher plane at one and the same time. He made it all seem so easy. My loving best wishes and deepest sympathy go to his family.”

The Seventies icon was known for his larger-than-life personality and said in a 2005 interview with The Independent, “I never meant to be arrogant; just honest.”

He shared his previous experiences with ill-health, revealing that he had suffered from polio when he was just two years old and that his lengthy stays in hospital had inspired his love for writing.

He spent three and a half years in hospital between the ages of three and 16, including two spells of almost a year.

“I am solitary as a result,” he said of the experience.

Having shied from discussing his illness during his heyday, he belatedly addressed it in his song “The Last Feast”.

“It’s a primal scream. I remember pain beyond description after the surgery and I knew I was at the very brink of human tolerance and all the morphine in the world would not ease it. For a long time, my life was in a bedside cabinet and it was a notebook and pen, all words, words, words.”

Harley lived in north Essex with his wife, Dorothy, whom he married in February 1981. They have two children, Kerr and Greta.

McTominay stuns Liverpool with early Man Utd goal in FA Cup tie

Manchester United host Liverpool at Old Trafford today with a place in the semi-finals of the FA Cup at stake.

United have had mixed fortunes throughout this season and will be hoping to keep their hopes of silverware alive while delivering a blow to Liverpool’s hopes of giving Jurgen Klopp the perfect send-off. They have suffered at the hands of their most bitter rivals in recent years, though they did manage a 0-0 draw at Anfield earlier this season.

Liverpool remain in the hunt for a quadruple this season, having won the Carabao Cup in February and strolled through to the quarter-finals of the Europa League in midweek, and the Reds sit second in the Premier League.

Follow live updates from Manchester United vs Liverpool in the FA Cup quarter-finals below, and get the latest match odds and FA Cup tips here

Burnt-out car found in probe after 50 dead animals dumped outside shop

Police investigating after dozens of dead animals were dumped outside a shop in Hampshire have discovered a burnt-out car believed to be linked to the incident.

“Distraught” staff found the bodies of around 50 dead hares, as well as a barn owl and a kestrel, outside the Broughton Community Shop on Friday morning.

It follows several similar incidents reported in the area, including almost 30 rabbits being found outside a primary school.

Hampshire Police told The Independent in a statement on Sunday that they had discovered the burnt-out remains of a Suzuki Grand Vitara which is thought to be linked to the incident.

Detectives were reported a day earlier to be trying to identify the owners of the vehicle.

“We are still asking the public to send us CCTV or dashcam images of any cars matching this description seen in the Test Valley area around the time of the incident,” a police spokesperson said. They went on: “Officers are following all possible lines of enquiry and will be in the area today to provide reassurance to local residents.”

Locals reportedly believe the incidents are carried out by poachers sending a “message” to locals to keep them from interfering. The culprits are thought to be linked to gangs who broadcast their activities live on Facebook.

One local farmer, whose land has been targeted repeatedly, told the paper: “They are basically laughing in our faces. The horrific display they left outside our community shop is obviously meant to let us know they’re invincible.”

Describing the disturbing scene in the village of Broughton on Friday, Mike Hensman, treasurer of the village shop, said on Saturday: “There were hares on the patio outside the shop, blood on the doors. [There was] a raptor and an owl stuffed on to the handles of the shop.”

“The guy that opened the shop – he shoots so he’s used to this. And he’s still distraught. He’s struggling to cope with it because it was pretty horrific,” Mr Hensman added.

Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call 101, quoting reference 44240111410, or to visit the force’s website.

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 prison riot squad shortage is a sign of a much deeper crisis

The Independent has raised the alarm in its reporting of the state of Britain’s prisons over the past year. Our warning that overcrowding was becoming serious came long before Alex Chalk, the justice secretary, took emergency action a few days ago to release a large number of offenders two months before their sentences were due to end.

We have reported on the problems with recruiting staff, and the pile-up of prisoners held on remand as court backlogs push the system to capacity and beyond. Now we report the shortage of “Tornado squad” riot officers, those trained to deal with violent disorder, who are the last line of defence in a prison estate that is bursting at the seams.

Prisons are rarely a political priority and are always likely to suffer from underfunding. But the combination of the recruitment crisis throughout the public services and the rise in prisoner numbers caused by longer sentences and court delays has turned a chronic problem into an acute one.

What will the House of Commons look like after the general election?

We don’t know when the general election will come, or who will win, albeit we can make some fairly safe guesses. However, what is as near to certain as can be is that the next House of Commons will look, sound and behave very differently from the present one.

The preponderance of mostly male Conservatives standing down or facing likely defeat – and the sheer scale of that defeat, coupled with an influx of more gender-balanced and diverse Labour candidates – means that the next House will have a record number of female MPs, and more people from an ethnic minority background than ever before. It will also be younger, feature more members from LGBT+ communities, and, dare one say it, be more “woke” and open to newer ways of running parliamentary debates, dress codes, hours of work and much else. We are on the brink of a dramatic change