INDEPENDENT 2024-03-23 16:04:21


Mother of missing Briton begs Joe Biden to make boyfriend give answers

The mother of a Brit who vanished from her boyfriend’s yacht has pleaded with president Joe Biden “parent to parent” to appeal for Ryan Bane to come forward for formal questioning.

Sarm Heslop, 41, vanished from her American boyfriend Ryan Bane’s 47-foot luxury catamaran in the Caribbean on 8 March 2021. He is believed to have been the last person to see her alive.

The former flight attendant from Southampton, Hampshire, was last seen boarding Mr Bane’s boat where she had been working as a chef on Caribbean tours, after the couple matched on Tinder eight months earlier.

They had been out for dinner at the bar 420 to Center on St John, before returning to the £500,000 catamaran.

In a powerful open letter this week, Ms Heslop’s mother Brenda Street wrote: “I have reached the end of my patience and trust with the US Virgin Islands Police Department (USVIPD) who have neglected from the outset to communicate and carry out basic Police duties.

“When I met with the USVIPD in March 2022 and questioned their lack of action on that fateful night they looked me in the eye and admitted to ‘forgetting to call the coast guard, that was our fault, we forgot to do it’.

“This was their first admittance of failing to carry out their duties. Their communication since has been appalling and my daughter’s case is riddled with failures.”

She urged the president to appoint another government agency to take over this case, release CCTV of her last movements, investigate the failings of the USVIPD and appeal for Mr Bane to come forward for formal questioning.

She finished: “I would hope, and expect as a parent yourself, that you recognise, respect and empathise with the trauma I am going through and so I ask you, parent to parent, to show your understanding by taking action, acknowledging this letter and helping me find out what happened to my daughter.”

At the time of her disappearance, Mr Bane said the couple watched Netflix and fell asleep. He called 911 at about 2.35am the next morning, told police that he had been woken by the anchor alarm and went to investigate – and realised she was missing. Ms Heslop’s wallet, passport and phone had been left on board, and he said she might have fallen overboard.

The sea captain waited until 11.46am the next day to call the coast guard – a nine-hour gap which her friends and now family want him to provide a timeline for.

Mr Bane has never been formally interviewed by police and no forensic search of the boat, Siren Song, was ever carried out.

In the days after Ms Heslop’s disappearance, Mr Bane told family he was searching for her as he reportedly hired an attorney and declined to be interviewed by Virgin Islands Police. He sailed away in the days after the disappearance and was spotted in Caribbean islands before pictures recently emerged of him hitting the gym.

It is believed that Bane has returned to his family home in his home state of Michigan and is training to be a pilot.

The letter came as Ms Heslop’s best friend and flatmate for eight years Kate Vernalls, 42, joined the chorus of voices urging Mr Bane to come forward.

She told The Independent: “She had this energy about her, we hit it off straight away. I think I was definitely like who is that person? She was so confident – not in a bad way, she just gave off such a happy vibe.

“You can’t tell her she’s not going to do something. All you can do is support her. She would send photos of her adventures.

“She wasn’t trying to escape – it’s just what she wanted to do. She wasn’t living a dream, it was her reality.”

On Mr Bane, she urged him to come forward and clear his name, adding: “I think there is a huge amount of frustration that just builds to anger. But it’s just human behaviour – why do you not think you should be speaking to the police?

“If your name is all over the press and your face is on television, if you have nothing to hide, come forward and speak to us or the police and give an official statement.

“There is one person who knows more than anyone what really happened to Sarm. Unless he did genuinely sleep through everything.”

She added: “It is time for you to have your say, give your side of the story. We’re not going to stop pushing for answers or looking for her so come forward.

“We are never going to give up.”

It has also emerged Mr Bane has a domestic violence conviction dating back to 2011.

In a statement, a lawyer for Mr Bane said: “While we empathise with Sarm’s family’s frustration, Ryan Bane had nothing to do with Sarm’s disappearance. Ryan is heartbroken that Sarm went missing … The coastguard was twice on the vessel conducting a search and questioning Ryan. They had unfettered access to the vessel and Ryan answered all questions posed to him.”

A UK Foreign Office spokesperson said: “We are assisting the family of a British woman who has been reported missing in the US Virgin Islands and are in contact with the US Virgin Islands Police and the US coast guard.”

How Brazil is feeding Europe and the Premier League with young talent

For any Brazilian teenager breaking into the first team of a big club like Corinthians or Sao Paulo or Flamengo or Fluminense, there’s a good chance they’ve just earned themselves a lucrative ticket to European football. The five most expensive transfers in Brazil this season were all players sold to one of Europe’s major clubs, or Crystal Palace. Their average fee, according to transfermarkt, was £20m. Their average age was just 19.

Brazil has always been fertile ground for growing talent, but its export industry is busier than ever when it comes to the best young players, particularly en route to the Premier League. Over the past few years the number of Brazilians playing in the English top flight has risen from only 12 in 2018 to 33 last season.

Some of those arrive directly from Brazil, some from other European clubs, but almost all have something in common – leaving Brazil as a young player with a suitcase full of potential rather than the finished product.

European agents have embedded themselves in South America to facilitate the boom. There was a gap in the market for more than just handling contract negotiations but providing 360-degree support, from advice on career development down to how to use social media. Five of Brazil’s squad to face England on Saturday night are signed up to one agency, Roc Nation, which has Vinicius Jr on its books and is behind the next superstar talent, Endrick, and the 17-year-old’s move to join Vinicius at Real Madrid this summer. There would have been six Roc players in the Brazil squad had Arsenal’s Gabriel Martinelli not been injured.

“I don’t really think the flow of talent from Brazil to Europe has necessarily increased,” says Fred Pena, president of Roc Nation’s Brazilian venture. “Brazilian talent has been in vogue for over three decades. What has changed is the profile of the players that are being transferred to Europe. Mainly you see young talent, maximum at 20 or 21 years old, going to the big-five European leagues.

“Players 22 and over usually go to what is called ‘alternative’ markets such as the Middle Eastern countries – so Saudi, Emirates and Qatar – or Turkey, Russia, Ukraine, Asian countries, Mexico and MLS. The latter also take young talent, but not the top talent. The top young talent will go to the big five, with the Premier League by far being the primary destination.”

After Brexit, English clubs had initially found themselves shackled by the new Governing Body Endorsement (GBE) rules which foreign signings had to pass through. The criteria were strict and threatened to strangle clubs’ ability to buy rough diamonds and untapped potential abroad. But a new rule last summer loosened those rules and freed up the market, especially for clubs lower down the food chain sourcing lesser-known talent.

“The FA granted the clubs the right to sign at least two wild card players from anywhere in the world,” explains Alan Redmond, Roc Nation Sports International’s executive vice president. “That means players who may not have previously met the work permit requirements can now move. This will be really beneficial for our Brazilian business, as well as allowing all clubs to truly scout globally. The previous system perhaps favoured the wealthiest clubs.”

Brazilian football itself is going through something of an evolution, and there is some desire to re-energise its own domestic league. A 2021 law encouraged private investment in its clubs, and since then there have been a number of examples of new ownership in the Brazilian Serie A: Manchester City’s Abu Dhabi owners bought Esporte Clube Bahia in Salvador; the US-based 777 Partners, who are trying to add Everton to their portfolio, bought Vasco da Gama in Rio; US tech entrepreneur John Textor bought Botafogo; Ronaldo, one of Brazil’s greatest players, bought the first club he ever played for, Cruzeiro.

The scope for growth in Brazilian football is clear. Where the Premier League draws 50 per cent of its broadcast revenue from abroad, only 2 per cent of the Brazilian league’s TV income currently comes from international markets. There is significant untapped potential if it can sell the product to foreign viewers.

That shouldn’t be hard because the product itself is attractive. Brazil boasts historic clubs, full stadiums, fierce rivalries, talented homegrown players and no shortage of flair and entertainment on the pitch.

But organisationally, Brazilian football can resemble something of a basket case at times: there is a political split among top clubs which is preventing the kind of unity which sparked the English Premier League to life in the early 1990s, and the league is tainted by a history of corruption and scandal. Last season, Botafogo’s new owner, Textor, accused match officials of cheating following a 4-3 defeat by Palmeiras. “This championship has become a joke,” he raged at full-time. “This is f***ing corruption.”

In some ways the league is its own worst enemy. There is potential to grow the Brazilian Serie A into a thriving product in its own right, to complement its profitable business of selling homegrown talent. But building up the league requires the kind of cohesion and vision which is lacking right now at the top of Brazilian football. Selling assets is a way of paying off the debts which many of the major clubs are laden with, and it remains the fastest and most effective way to make ends meet.

And for the players, the allure of Europe’s elite is stronger than ever. It is a potential path to the very top of the game, as well as access to life-changing wealth not comparable to the sums they were earning in South America.

“Let’s remember that most youth athletes in Brazil come from poor families,” adds Pena. “They love football and are fans of domestic clubs certainly, but the possibility of taking their entire family out of poverty is the absolute priority. This is why Brazilian talent will go anywhere in the world where there is big money for them: Russia, Ukraine, China, Saudi, Qatar, Mexico…

“For me it is normal that today a Brazilian youth player is more interested in competing in the Premier League or Champions League rather than the Brazilian Serie A or Copa Libertadores. They want to compete with the best to then hopefully be considered the best.”

Ex-National Trust chief says charity going ‘in wrong direction’

The National Trust is going in the “wrong direction” and there are “serious flaws” in the way the organisation is being run, a former chairman of the charity has said.

Sir William Proby said he was reluctant to come forward and criticise the organisation or his successors but has concerns about where the charity is headed.

His comments come after a right wing think-tank accused the National Trust of being “undemocratic” and engaging in a “subversion of democracy” over changes to voting at its annual meeting.

Writing in The Daily Telegraph, Sir William said: “The National Trust has always attracted controversy. This is because of its importance in our national life and the passion which so many people feel for what it does. This is healthy and should be welcomed by the management and board of trustees.

“A truly democratic structure allows these issues to be debated, voted on, and the organisation can move on. Stifling dissent will only lead to a running sore of disaffected members outside the organisation, which inevitably will damage this great institution.”

Sir William added that he hoped the report would prompt the charity to restore its “democratic principles” and take another look at its governance structures.

The report, called National Distrust: The End of Democracy in the National Trust, was compiled by the Zewditu Gebreyohanes, a senior researcher at the Legatum Institute, a think-tank.

Ms Gebreyohanes is also the former lead of Restore Trust, a National Trust members’ campaign group that wants the charity to stick to its remit of the protection of historic building and away from “wokeness”.

The report criticises the new “quick vote” system implemented by the charity which allows members at the National Trust to vote for all the leadership recommendations in one go.

It claims this was implemented without the prior knowledge of members, is undemocratic and was introduced in 2022, just a year after the Restore Trust was created.

“A recent National Trust members’ resolution calling for the abolition of Quick Vote was defeated only with the use of over 54,000 Quick Votes, meaning that almost 80% of votes cast against the resolution were themselves Quick Votes,” it says.

“All candidates endorsed by Restore Trust – the grassroots campaign of critical members seeking to return the Trust to its statutory aims – would have been elected in both 2022 and 2023 had the results of each Trust-endorsed candidate not been inflated by over 55,000 and 72,000 Quick Votes in those years, respectively.”

It alleges that if a political party had been in charge of drawing up the reforms then the public would see it as “a significant abuse of power” and a “subversion of democracy”.

The report makes two recommendations. The first is that Lucy Frazer, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport should introduce legislation to prevent anti-democratic measures. And the second is that the Charity Commission should open an inquiry into Europe’s largest conservation charity.

A spokesperson for the National Trust said: “The National Trust is an independent charity, regulated — like all UK charities — by the Charity Commission.

“We have open and democratic governance processes, and are accountable both to our regulators and to our members. Our members firmly rejected a resolution suggesting government oversight in our work via an ombudsman at our AGM in 2022.

“‘Quick vote’ was introduced following advice from our independent election services provider that it is standard practice for large membership bodies. We will continue to take advice on what is standard electoral practice from accountable, regulated institutions that are experts in this field, and which have their own transparent systems of governance.”

Who could be Donald Trump’s vice president pick?

With the Republican National Committee (RNC) nomination all but formally secured for Donald Trump, all eyes are on who the former president will choose as his running mate in pursuit of the White House.

Already, rumours are swirling about Mr Trump’s short list of potential options – nearly all of which are people who have backed Mr Trump and denounced the 2020 election results, despite widespread evidence that it was not stolen.

It is unclear when Mr Trump will announce his decision, but he revealed Mike Pence as his running mate in July 2016, before the RNC held its annual convention.

Here are the potential options:

South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem has emerged as a close Trump ally and popular conservative having secured a second term in a landslide victory during the 2022 midterms.

The South Dakota governor is a strong advocate for gun rights, championing the National Rifle Association, and supports anti-abortion legislation. Her long hair and freshly whitened smile also reflect a similar look in other notable conservative women.

Mr Trump has brought Ms Noem on parts of his campaign trail in Iowa, Ohio and South Dakota and trumpeted her endorsement.

New York Representative Elise Stefanik is a fiercely loyal Trump ally who is slowly becoming a notable ultra-conservative in Congress.

Ms Stefanik is one of the people who voted against certifying the 2020 election results, she spread false claims of election fraud, defended January 6 rioters and pushed for legislation that would expunge Mr Trump from the impeachments.

Most recently she found stardom in criticising the leadership of three universities for their handling of antisemitism on campuses.

Though she is the third-ranking House Republican, Mr Trump reportedly said behind closed doors that he doesn’t trust her.

South Carolina Senator Tim Scott is a well-liked traditional conservative who has proven a knack for fundraising that could be helpful to Mr Trump.

Though Mr Scott launched his own campaign for president this year, as soon as he removed his name from the running, he quickly jumped on board Mr Trump’s – handing him a key endorsement before the South Carolina primary.

On top of that, he is the only Black Republican in the Senate, appeals to the conservative evangelical vote and has pushed for a 15-week federal abortion ban. 

However, Mr Scott is not the most loyal Trump ally on the list of potential picks and notably did not poll well nationally during his campaign.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio is a recent addition to the former president’s shot-long list of potential running mates.

Mr Rubio’s name carries some weight within the Republican Party because he is an experienced politician. He was a member of the Florida State Legislature before becoming a senator in 2010 and had a failed presidential campaign in 2016.

He is Cuban-American, a gun rights advocate, supporter of stronger border policies and is pro-Israel – all of which are relevant issues.

Ohio Senator JD Vance was an outspoken critic of Mr Trump but has become a staunch loyalist, making him a potential contender for the former president.

During the 2022 midterms, Mr Trump handed Mr Vance one of his coveted endorsements, which may have helped him secure his win.

Since then, he has repeated Mr Trump’s false claims of election fraud and defended the former president against critics.

Notably, Mr Vance has used extremely anti-immigration rhetoric to speak about the crisis at the US-Mexico border – a hot topic that Mr Trump has capitalised on to appeal to conservative voters.

Ben Carson is a retired neurosurgeon and former cabinet member in the Trump administration who is also one of the most prominent Black conservatives.

Mr Carson worked with Mr Trump as secretary of housing and urban development where he was accused of overspending to redecorate his office and making transphobic remarks, which he denied.

He has endorsed Mr Trump for the 2024 presidency.

Failed Arizona gubernatorial candidate and former TV news anchor Kari Lake is one of Mr Trump’s most outspoken advocates and defenders.

She has spread false claims of election fraud in the 2020 presidential election and taken a page from Mr Trump’s book in unfoundedly declaring election fraud contributed to her 2022 gubernatorial loss. She has lost multiple lawsuits in that pursuit and is now eyeing a spot as Arizona’s senator.

Though she is loyal to Mr Trump, Ms Lake is divisive within the Republican Party.

Florida Representative Byron Donalds could be a possible contender for Mr Trump’s vice presidential pick as an up-and-coming star in the Republican Party.

He is a Trump ally, advocate for gun rights, anti-abortion and said he would not vote to certify election results if he thought state officials were violating the law.

Mr Donalds made headlines last year when he unsuccessfully threw his hat in the ring for speaker of the House.

Political nepo baby Sarah Huckabee Sanders is a rising star in the Republican Party as the former White House press secretary and current governor of Arkansas.

As governor she has tackled “woke” issues through legislation like banning transgender students from using the bathroom of their choice, banning some gender-neutral terms and erecting a monument for aborted fetuses near the state Capitol.

Though she could be a potential pick, she recently found herself in the middle of a scandal involving a $19k lectern.

London is overpriced, flat and boring: so what is it for?

Growing up in Belfast in the late 1990s and early 2000s, any kid with a creative mind, an adventurous spirit or an entrepreneurial streak had one ambition: get yourself to London. London was where our lives would begin, a vast international incubator for good ideas.

We’d be inspired by the talented generations before us, galvanised by influences from people from other countries, and surely we’d find people with the money to make things happen.

Today, London has plenty of people with money. But London is no longer happening. It feels flat, overpriced and boring. Why? Because London has pushed out the people with ideas, hopes and dreams that made it an exciting place to be.

History, heritage, cuisine and culture in Split, Croatia

Historical buildings, pine forest hills and breathtaking views of the Adriatic Sea are just a few things to expect on a fun-filled trip to the old-world coastal city of Split. This ancient sliver of the country is steeped in eclectic history and blessed with abundant natural beauty, a dynamic food scene, and more cultural attractions you can shake a stick at. It’s an all-rounder, ideal to visit no matter the season and even for a quick city break since there are plenty of direct flights from UK cities, including Birmingham, Bristol, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, London and Manchester. Here’s our must-see, must-do guide to this stunning city…

Split is Croatia’s sportiest city, often referred to as The City of Sport, thanks to the number of professional athletes that hail from the city. In fact, Split is the city with the highest number of Olympic medal winners per capita. You can see their names proudly presented on Sports Walk of Fame on the city’s west coast, including Wimbledon champion Goran Ivanišević, double world high jump champion Blanka Vlašić, and ex–NBA star Toni Kukoč.

Catch a basketball game featuring the legendary KK Split, one of the most successful clubs in Europe, at the Gripe Sports Hall, or watch a football match with HNK Hajduk Split at the Poljud Stadium to feel the electrifying passion of local fans. If you’d rather participate, take advantage of Split’s drop-dead coastal location by trying windsurfing, kayaking, paddle boarding or sailing; many places offer equipment rental or lessons. Or, to keep it traditional, try your hand at ‘picigin’ – a local ball game from Split that is played at the beach.

For a more cerebral experience, immerse yourself in the city’s rich history, from Roman walls to UNESCO heritage sites and historical Old Towns. Wander through preserved Roman streets lined with Gothic and Renaissance buildings and visit the oldest cathedral building in the world, Diocletian’s Palace, built between 295 and 305 A.D. The beautiful basement halls here (more commonly known as the substructures) are one of the world’s best-preserved complexes from the era of classical antiquity and central to the historical centre of Split being added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 1979.

Dip your toe into the world of Croatian art at the Ivan Meštrović Gallery, wholly dedicated to the sculptor himself, renowned for his powerful and expressive works. There’s also the Museum of Croatian Archaeological Monuments, which delves deep into the city’s history across more than 20,000 artefacts. Plus, the museum itself is an architectural masterpiece.

If you want to learn all about the city’s history and citizens, the City Museum of Split is a must-visit. It was founded in 1947 at the stunning palace of the Papalić family and is a stunning example of late-Gothic style architecture.

There’s also the Ethnographic Museum of Split, situated inside a former residential complex in the southeastern quarter of Diocletian’s Palace. The museum holds a vast collection of artefacts that showcase the traditional way of life, customs, and cultural practices of the people of the Dalmatia region and beyond. You’ll find everything from household items and religious objects to traditional tools and clothing.

Leave some time in your itinerary to explore the city’s natural wonders and incredible beaches. Ideally situated on the Adriatic coast, Split houses some of Croatia’s finest and most picturesque beaches. Bačvice Beach is one of the most popular in the area, perfect for shallow bathing and basking in the sun; plus, there are many bars and restaurants along the front, and concerts take place throughout the summer months.

There’s also Bene Beach, located on the northeastern part of the leafy Marjan Forest Park, often referred to as the green oasis of Split. It’s usually a little quieter, so it’s perfect for finding a secluded spot, sheltered beautifully by the trees that border the shoreline. Hiking or biking in the forest park Marjan is also a great way to experience the natural landscape of the Dalmatian Coast. You can follow many routes through fragrant pine forests and scenic viewpoints – the Marjan Hill Viewpoint overlooks the entire Old Town. Finish off with a dip in the sea to cool off.

Kašjuni Beach is known for being particularly beautiful, surrounded by lush greenery and rocky cliffs. It tends to be a little quieter and less crowded with calm, crystal-clear water, ideal for snorkelling and swimming. While on the southern side of Marjan, you’ll find Kaštelet Beach, a small but peaceful fine-pebbled beach with shallow banks, perfect for dipping in and out of between basking in the sun.

Follow the scenic coastal promenade from the city centre, and you’ll eventually reach Trstenik, home to a well-equipped, picturesque beach popular amongst water sports enthusiasts. Here, you can enjoy windsurfing, kitesurfing, kayaking, paddle boarding and more. The surrounding neighbourhood is chock full of restaurants, shops and places to stay should you want to spend a few nights here.

Split also serves as an ideal hub for day excursions, offering easy access to the stunning Dalmatian islands and hinterland, each brimming with natural and cultural treasures. From the city, you can visit several of Dalmatia’s spectacular islands, including Brac, Hvar, Vis, Solta and many more. Bisevo Island is one of the most popular to visit, where the remains of a 1050 AD Benedictine monastery lay, and the Blue Cave, one of the must-see natural attractions in the country, renowned for its incredible glowy sun rays that shine through cracks in the cave, creating a magical blue glimmer.

Just a half-hour drive from the city centre, you’ll find idyllic hiking trails on mountains such as Mosor, Kozjak, and Biokovo. There’s also the Cetina River, where you can participate in heart-pumping rafting and canyoning adventures.

As a cultural hub, Split boasts a diverse timetable of not-to-be-missed events throughout the year, including Sudamja, Stories of Diocletian, Advent – Winter Joys, Split Summer Festival, the Split Carnival, Month of Gastronomy and the Split Marathon.  In recent years, the city has also emerged as a sought-after filming destination, hosting productions such as Game of Thrones and the Dark Tower movie. So it’s pretty fitting that the city is home to the Mediterranean Film Festival and the International Festival of New Film.

Food-wise, Croatia’s diverse and delicious cuisine varies significantly from region to region, with coastal areas focusing more on seafood dishes like grilled fish, octopus salad, and black risotto. Learn all about Croatian fare at a local cookery class, where you’ll get to sample and make delicious dishes and take recipes back home.

Split’s culinary scene is constantly evolving, with many restaurants opening in the city, especially in the historic centre and its surroundings. Several restaurants have been recognised by the world-famous Michelin Guide, but there are many more worth visiting, with menus brimming with local Mediterranean cuisine, often with a creative twist added by some of Croatia’s best chefs. Most of the local restaurants’ menus are made with regional, fresh produce, including just-caught seafood.

For an authentic Croatian experience and the most local atmosphere, travellers should dine at a traditional tavern-style konoba restaurant, the Dalmatian version of a tavern, where you can enjoy fresh fish and seafood and popular local meat dishes.

The local diet is also rich in seasonal vegetables, which vegetarians can enjoy in many of the city’s restaurants, with plenty of spots specialising in vegetarian and vegan fare.

Wine and olive oil are essential components of Split’s gastronomic makeup, meaning that restaurants are always stocked with exceptional Croatian wines, particularly those produced within Dalmatia. You can enjoy them with dinner or at a local wine tasting.

If you’re looking for local produce, Ribarnica is stocked with fresh seafood plucked out of the neighbouring Adriatic Sea. While Pazar Green Market is the place to go for fresh fruit, vegetables, herbs, cheese, cured meat, honey, and sweet treats, for delicious eats you can sample on the spot, or take home for a slice of Split you can reminisce with.

For more Split travel ideas and inspiration, head to Visit Split or check out Instagram or Facebook

There is still time for the West to change Israel’s mind on Gaza

According to the United Nations Children’s Fund – a body worthy of trust and respect, and well acquainted with conditions on the ground – “Rafah is Gaza’s last hope”.

In that case, the Israeli government’s continued apparent determination to launch an armoured ground assault on Rafah, coupled with the most recent failure by the UN Security Council to agree to call for a ceasefire, removes the last vestige of hope for the nearly 2 million displaced persons – many of them children – sheltering in flimsy tents around the city in southern Gaza.

If the record of the last five months or so since the atrocities of 7 October is a reliable guide to what will happen next, what remains of Rafah will be pulverised, many thousands more innocent civilians will be killed, maimed and orphaned, the incipient famine will intensify across the territory – and what is already a humanitarian disaster will grow still more hopeless.

Are politicians ever justified in using private jets?

The home secretary, James Cleverly, spent some £165,561 last year chartering a private jet for a one-day round trip to Rwanda to sign a fresh treaty that would, supposedly, negate the UK Supreme Court’s finding of fact that Rwanda is not a safe third country for the deportation of refugees. The sudden urgent demand for new assurances about human rights from the Rwandans was, it is fair to say, politically driven, as the prime minister sees the Rwanda plan as the key “deterrent” in his struggle to “stop the boats” full of asylum seekers crossing the English Channel.

The revelation is troublesome because it reinforces the charge that this is a government with a profligate attitude to taxpayers’ money; that its ministers enjoy indulging themselves; and that the Rwanda scheme is, as Cleverly once repeatedly remarked in probate, a “bats***” crazy waste of money. Chartering a private jet is also, if anyone still cares, one of the most environmentally destructive ways to travel by air. Politically, the turbulence generated by such trips can be extremely distressing…