The Guardian 2024-03-23 16:01:41


Tass reports the Russian Investigative Committee has announced that the death toll from Friday’s shooting and arson terror attack at the Crocus City Hall has risen to 133.

41 people have been identified and named as killed by the ministry of health. 107 people are in hospital.

Explainer

Moscow concert hall attack: what we know so far

At least 133 people killed and scores wounded, according to authorities, after gunmen opened fire at Crocus City Hall. Islamic State has claimed responsibility

  • Moscow attack – latest updates

Scores of people have reportedly been killed and many wounded in an attack at a concert venue near Moscow.

Here is what we know about the shooting so far:

  • Vladimir Putin has told the Russian people that Ukraine is linked to the Crocus City Hall terror attack on Friday night that killed at least 133 people. In a video address lasting five-and-a-half minutes, the newly re-elected Russian president said Russian security forces believed they had apprehended all four direct participants in the attack, who were caught heading for Ukraine, which was preparing to receive them over the border. Kyiv has rubbished the claims. Eleven people have been detained in total.

  • Islamic State has claimed it carried out the attack, which Putin did not mention in his address. He described it as a “bloody, barbaric terrorist act” and said the victims were “dozens of peaceful, innocent people – our compatriots, including children, teenagers, and women”. He said the Russian Federation would “identify and punish everyone who prepared the terrorist attack”.

  • Ukraine has denied any link to the attack. Presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said attempts to connect the two were “absolutely untenable”. He said “Ukraine has not the slightest connection to this incident. Ukraine has a full-scale war with Russia and will solve the problem of Russia’s aggression on the battlefield”. Neither Putin nor the FSB publicly presented any proof of a link with Ukraine.

  • 107 people remain in hospital after the attack, including three children, one of whom is described as being in critical condition. After a drive to receive blood donations in Moscow, the deputy prime minister, Tatyana Golikova, said there is enough medicine, blood, and dressing materials”. Moscow authorities have said they will pay compensation to those affected, and arrange funerals for those killed.

  • Putin has declared Sunday a day of national mourning. People have been laying flowers and toys as a tribute to the victims at the site of the attack, and outside Russian embassies all around the world.

  • Images from inside the venue show that the auditorium has been completely gutted by fire and the roof has collapsed. Russian authorities say people died both from gunshot wounds and the effects of the fire.

  • The terrorist attack has been widely condemned around the world. David Cameron, Britain’s foreign secretary; Ursula von der Leyen, Emmanuel Macron and Nato have been among those condemning the attack and offering condolences. Putin spoke to the leaders of Belarus and Uzbekistan by phone. Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan also offered his support, saying terrorism is “the common enemy of humanity”.

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Moscow terror attack: Putin says all four gunman held as death toll reaches 133

Putin suggests – without evidence – that Kyiv may have been involved in attack, claiming attackers planned to flee to Ukraine

  • Moscow attack – latest updates

Vladimir Putin said Russia had arrested all four gunmen responsible for the shooting that killed 133 people at a concert hall on the outskirts of Moscow, claiming that the perpetrators of one of the worst terror attacks in the country’s history planned to flee to Ukraine.

Putin, in his first public comments on the terrorist attacks that shocked the nation, made no mention of Islamic State’s claim to have carried out the attack.

Instead, Putin on Saturday suggested without evidence that Ukraine may have been involved in Friday’s attack, saying that “the Ukrainian side” had “prepared a window” for the terrorists to cross the border from Russia into Ukraine before they were apprehended.

“They tried to hide and move towards Ukraine, where, according to preliminary data, a window was prepared for them from the Ukrainian side to cross the state border,” Putin said in a televised address.

But his comments came short of directly blaming Ukraine for the attack, saying that those responsible would be punished, “whoever they may be, whoever may have sent them”.

Islamic State, through an affiliated news agency, claimed responsibility for the attack late on Friday in a post on Telegram, in which they claimed the gunmen had managed to escape afterwards. On Saturday, IS released a photo of what it said were the four attackers behind the shooting rampage.

In a statement, the group said the shooting came within the context of the “raging war” between Islamic State and countries fighting Islam.

A US official said Washington had intelligence confirming Islamic State’s claim.

Russian officials and state news channels have been quiet about Islamic State’s claim to have carried out the attack.

Kyiv has vehemently denied it had any involvement in the attack.

Russia’s security services earlier said that 11 individuals had been arrested in connection with Friday’s terrorist attack at the Crocus City Hall outside Moscow, including four suspects involved in the shooting. Russian investigators said the four suspects were arrested the Bryansk region that borders Ukraine.

The four suspected gunmen were all foreign citizens, Russia’s interior ministry later said.

Russian officials have described the attack as an act of terrorism.

Earlier in the day, the FSB security service appeared to point the finger at Kyiv, saying that the gunmen were arrested while trying to cross into Ukraine.

“They had contacts on the Ukrainian side,” the FSB said in a statement.

Some Russian officials also speculated that Ukraine, the country against which Russia launched a full-scale invasion two years ago, was responsible.

Alexey Chepa, the first deputy chair of the state duma committee on international affairs, said the “events were connected to Ukraine”.

Ukraine’s foreign ministry said in a statement that Russian officials were engaged in accusations against Kyiv “with the goals of stirring up anti-Ukrainian hysteria in Russian society and creating conditions to boost mobilisation of Russian citizens into the criminal aggression against our state”.

Meanwhile, the death toll from the attack had risen to 133 by Saturday afternoon, according to a statement from Russia’s investigative committee. Putin declared a day of mourning for Sunday and passed his condolences on to the families of those killed in the attack.

Russian authorities said at least 145 people had been injured, with 16 people in a “critical state”.

“The number of victims of the terrorist attack will grow significantly,” said Andrei Vorobyov, the governor of the Moscow region.

Photos on Friday evening showed Crocus City Hall engulfed in flames as graphic videos appeared to show several people being killed by the unidentified gunmen. In one clip, three men in fatigues carrying rifles fired at point-blank range into bodies strewn about the lobby of the concert hall. ​​Other video footage showed people screaming, crawling on their hands and knees out of the music venue or fleeing down stairwells.

The attack came minutes before a veteran Russian rock band was to start playing in front of a sold-out audience.

Witness accounts describe scenes of chaos and confusion, with many concertgoers initially assuming the sound of gunshots was part of the show.

“We were sitting in the back rows, waiting for the show to start. At one point I noticed loud pops, like fireworks, thinking it was part of the concert,” one witness told the Meduza outlet.

The Russian investigative committee said those killed in the concert hall died of gunshot wounds and “poisoning” related to the fire.

The committee added that the attackers had used “a flammable liquid to set fire to the premises of the concert hall”.

Baza, a telegram channel close to Russia’s security services, said more than 10 bodies of the victims had been found in one of the toilets of the Crocus City Hall.

According to the channel, the victims were hiding from the shooting but later died because of the smoke.

The international community condemned the incident, with the UN security council calling it a “heinous and cowardly terrorist attack”.

The British foreign secretary, David Cameron, said the UK “condemns the deadly attack in the strongest possible terms”.

The Crocus City Hall shooting was the deadliest attack in Russia since the 2004 Beslan school siege, in which 334 people, including 186 children, were killed after being held captive by militants for two days.

Questions will be raised as to why Putin appeared to have rejected a terror warning weeks before the attack.

The attack on Friday came two weeks after western countries led by the US had issued terror warnings and told their citizens not to join public gatherings in Russia.

The group that claimed credit for the deadly terrorist attack was an Islamic State affiliate in Afghanistan called Islamic State Khorasan Province, or ISKP.

According to US officials, Washington had collected intelligence in March that ISKP had been planning an attack on Moscow, according to officials.

Putin had called the March warnings from western embassies a “provocation”.

But citing a source in Russia’s security services, the state agency Tass on Saturday admitted that Russian security services did indeed receive information from the US over a potential terrorist attack.

The FSB previously said it had foiled an attack on a Moscow synagogue by ISKP, a group that seeks to create a caliphate across Afghanistan, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Iran.

On Saturday, Russian state news aired footage of interrogations of three alleged attackers, including one where the suspect is speaking in Tajik through an interpreter.

ISKP has previously been reported to have recruited radicalised nationals from central Asia, including Tajikistan.

In one of the clips, circulated by Russian bloggers, members of the security forces are seen cutting off the ear of a man who is later interrogated over the attack.

Russian authorities had also recently carried out a series of raids against armed Islamist militants in the region of Ingushetia, leading to firefights between police and the fighters.

Paweł Wójcik, a specialist in Islamic State messaging and propaganda, said IS messaging after the Moscow attack was similar to previous attacks that the group claimed in Tehran and Kabul.

“The messaging we saw from IS following the attack was standard,” Wójcik told the Guardian.

Wójcik said IS would have “many motives” to launch a terrorist attack in Russia, including Moscow’s involvement in the campaign against IS in Syria, Mali and Burkina Faso.

Putin changed the course of the Syrian civil war by intervening in 2015, supporting the country’s president, Bashar al-Assad, against the opposition and IS.

Wójcik added that ISKP had recently “strongly embraced anti-Russia narrative in its propaganda output”.

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Analysis

Islamic State’s deadly Moscow attack highlights its fixation with Russia

Andrew Roth

The ISKP regional affiliate has a haven in Afghanistan and carried out recent bombings in Iran, suggesting it has capacity for major atrocities

  • Moscow concert hall attack: latest updates
  • Suspects detained as death toll rises after terror attack

Speculation about who carried out the shooting at the Crocus City Hall in Moscow has quickly indicated that the terror attack will have outsized political implications in Russia and abroad.

A claim has surfaced that the attack was carried out by Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP) a regional affiliate of the IS terrorist organisation. IS has been implicated in some of Russia’s largest recent terror attacks, including the 2017 bombing in the St Petersburg metro that killed 15 and injured 45.

US intelligence told American news agencies that there’s “no reason to doubt” the IS claims of responsibility.

The group, which is a branch of IS mainly based in Afghanistan, has increasingly focused its attention on Russia since the United States left Afghanistan in 2021. The group was formed in 2015 by members of militant groups, including those from Pakistan and Uzbekistan, and is active in central Asia and Russia. It carried out twin bombings in January in Iran that killed nearly 100 people.

“Isis-K and its allies retain a safe haven in Afghanistan, and they continue to develop their networks in and out of the country,” said Gen Michael Kurilla, the commander of US Central Command, during testimony to the House armed services committee in early March.

“Their goals do not stop there. They have called for attacks globally on anyone not aligned with their extremist ideology, and Taliban efforts to suppress the group have proven insufficient.”

The attack in Iran demonstrated the group’s “resiliency and indicates that they retain the capability and will to conduct spectacular external operations”.

Russia’s FSB security service said that on 7 March it had prevented an armed attack by the group on a synagogue in the Kaluga region near Moscow.

“It was established that the militants of an international terrorist organisation are preparing an attack on the parishioners of the synagogue using firearms,” the FSB said in a statement.

Within hours, the US embassy issued an unusual warning for American citizens to avoid large gatherings and in particular concerts, repeating calls for US citizens to leave Russia. “The embassy is monitoring reports that extremists have imminent plans to target large gatherings in Moscow, to include concerts, and US citizens should be advised to avoid large gatherings over the next 48 hours,” the embassy said on its website.

CNN reporters said they had been told that “since November there has been ‘fairly specific’ intelligence that Isis-K wanted to carry out attacks in Russia … US intelligence warned Russia about it”.

Putin changed the course of the Syrian civil war by intervening in 2015, supporting President Bashar al-Assad against the opposition and Islamic State.

“Isis-K has been fixated on Russia for the past two years, frequently criticising Putin in its propaganda,” said Colin Clarke of the Soufan Center, according to Reuters.

The claim by the group will largely divert attention by Russian officials that the attack may have originated in Ukraine.

Dmitry Medvedev, the former president of Russia who now is deputy head of the security council, said that if Kyiv’s involvement in the attack on the concert hall is proved, all those involved “must be tracked down and killed without mercy, including officials of the state that committed such outrage”.

Ukrainian officials had insisted that they had no link to the attack. “Ukraine certainly has nothing to do with the shooting/explosions in the Crocus City Hall (Moscow Region, Russia). It makes no sense whatsoever,” said Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to the Ukrainian presidential administration.

“Ukraine has never resorted to the use of terrorist methods,” he said. “It is always pointless.”

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Liberals struggle to hold power in Tasmania as minor parties surge at election

Party leading poll with 36.9% of vote, but suffered 12% swing against it since last election three years ago

The Liberal party faces having to negotiate with an expanded crossbench to hang on to power in Tasmania after winning the biggest share of the vote in the state election, but falling short of a majority of seats in parliament.

By late on Saturday, the Liberals, led by premier Jeremy Rockliff, were leading the poll with nearly 36.9% of the vote, but had suffered a 12% swing against it since the last poll three years ago.

The Labor opposition, led by Rebecca White, failed to benefit from the slump in support for the government, rising only marginally to 29.2%. Instead, voters swung to minor parties and independents, which shared nearly 34% of the vote.

The Greens, long a third force in the Tasmanian parliament, were on 13.4% while the Jacqui Lambie Network (JLN), running in a state election for the first time, received 6.7%, mostly in the north. Independents and smaller parties had 13.7% between them.

The split vote makes for a complicated count under Tasmania’s Hare-Clark electoral system, which will elect seven MPs in each of the state’s five multimember electorates after parliament agreed to expand the chamber from 25 to 35 members at this election.

As counting continued and with 18 seats needed for a party to govern in its own right, the Liberals appeared to have won 14 seats, Labor 10 and the Greens at least three, and potentially up to six.

But a handful of seats remain undecided, and the final result may come down to preferences and not be known for weeks.

JLN is vying for up to three seats, and appears well placed to win at least one, in the north-western electorate of Braddon. Kristie Johnston, an independent, is likely to be returned in the electorate of Clark, in central and northern Hobart. David O’Byrne, a former Labor leader now running as an independent, is competing for one of the final seats in Franklin, the state’s southern-most seat.

The big parties are also each vying for an additional seat.

Speaking alongside his family at the election tally room at Hobart’s Hotel Grand Chancellor, Rockliff said it “looks like a fourth consecutive win for the Liberal party” since it assumed power in 2014.

He said the party had clearly gained the most votes and most seats “by a large margin”, and Labor would not win enough seats to form a cabinet. But he said Tasmanians had “delivered a clear message” and he would work with the parliament they had voted for.

“I will seek to form a new government, to give Tasmanians the stability and certainty they need,” he said.

Addressing the crowd after Rockliff, White left open the possibility that the party could take power with support from the cross bench. She said the result showed there had been “a significant shift in the way politics operates in Tasmania”.

“We can expect to see this happen again and again. It is very likely Tasmanians will continue to elect minority governments, particularly with a 35-seat parliament,” she said. “It is also clear that people voted for change at this election. We’ll wait to see how the dust settles and for the final results to be determined.”

The Greens’ leader, Rosalie Woodruff, said the results “were sure looking good for the Greens”, and pledged to fight for its platform, including ending native forest logging. “Our message this election was that change is needed and change is possible. We’re fully committed to stepping into the next parliament with this in mind,” she said.

Jacqui Lambie, a federal senator who ran a largely unknown team of candidates under her name and could play a pivotal role in determining the future government, told ABC TV it was too early to say what her candidates would do if elected.

She said the Rockliff government had been “crap” and the premier had failed to “extend the hand of friendship” before election day when the Liberal party put up a website mimicking and attacking the Jacqui Lambie Network’s site and refused to take it down. “We’re not exactly feeling the love,” she said.

Rockliff became premier in 2022 after the resignation of his popular predecessor, Peter Gutwein. He called the election more than a year before it was due, blaming a standoff with two conservative MPs, John Tucker and Lara Alexander, who quit the Liberal party to become independents and turned a majority government into a minority.

Tucker and Alexander failed to be elected on Saturday. The successful candidates for the Liberals included Eric Abetz, a former minister in the Howard and Abbott federal governments who lost his senate seat in 2022.

The election was called as the state faces widely acknowledged crises in healthcare and housing, and without the government having acted on the recommendations of a damning commission of inquiry into the state’s response to child sexual abuse.

The government also faced criticism over a politically divisive deal with the AFL to build a mostly publicly funded stadium at Macquarie Point on the Hobart waterfront to host a new local team, the Tasmania Devils, due to join the league in 2028. The launch of the team last Monday was reignited as a point of debate in the final days of the campaign as it quickly signed up 150,000 foundational members.

White was leading Labor to a third straight election. The state Labor branch spent much of the term attempting to move on from factional fights that damaged its last campaign three years ago, and prompted a national executive takeover that ended just as the election was called.

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Catherine, Princess of Wales, receiving chemotherapy treatment for cancer

Royal says in recorded statement her condition was discovered after she had abdominal surgery in January

  • Catherine, Princess of Wales, announces she has cancer – live reaction
  • What we know about the Princess of Wales’s cancer diagnosis
  • Catherine’s statement in full

The Princess of Wales has disclosed that she has been diagnosed with cancer and is in the early stages of receiving chemotherapy treatment.

In a “personal message” filmed in the gardens of Windsor Castle by the BBC, Catherine told of her “shock” when her condition was discovered after she had major abdominal surgery in January.

She has since been the subject of wild rumours, and Friday’s news prompted Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer to condemn the “lurid” and “unfair” speculation of recent weeks.

Catherine said she and her husband, Prince William, had needed time to explain the situation to their three children, George, 10, Charlotte, eight, and Louis, five.

“This of course came as a huge shock, and William and I have been doing everything we can to process and manage this privately for the sake of our young family,” she said.

“As you can imagine, this has taken time. It has taken me time to recover from major surgery in order to start my treatment. But, most importantly, it has taken us time to explain everything to George, Charlotte and Louis in a way that is appropriate for them, and to reassure them that I am going to be OK.”

King Charles, 75, who is also being treated for cancer and was in hospital at the same time as Catherine in January, spoke of his pride at her “courage in speaking as she did”.

“Following their time in hospital together, [His Majesty] has remained in the closest contact with his beloved daughter-in-law throughout the past weeks,” Buckingham Palace said. “Both their Majesties will continue to offer their love and support to the whole family through this difficult time.”

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex said they wished “health and healing for Kate and the family”, adding: “[We] hope they are able to do so privately and in peace.”

The palace said Catherine, 42, started her chemotherapy treatment in late February. It is understood her public announcement of the news was timed to coincide with the children breaking up from school for the Easter holidays.

Sitting on a bench as she gave her statement, Catherine spoke for two minutes and 16 seconds. The message was filmed on Wednesday by BBC Studios, which is the corporation’s commercial global production and distribution arm. Wearing a white jumper with black stripes, the princess talked without apparent nerves but looked down briefly when talking of her family’s shock at the news.

The palace said Catherine had wished to provide a medical update in order to put an end to the speculation sparked by her admission to the London Clinic on 16 January for major abdominal surgery. At the time, the palace refused to confirm what Catherine was being treated for, but said the condition was non-cancerous.

Catherine said it was only after the surgery that the cancer had been found. In her statement – made public on Friday and which began with words of thanks for those who had sent messages of support – Catherine said she felt well and was “getting stronger every day”.

She added: “It has been an incredibly tough couple of months for our entire family, but I’ve had a fantastic medical team who have taken great care of me, for which I am so grateful.

“In January, I underwent major abdominal surgery in London and at the time, it was thought that my condition was non-cancerous. The surgery was successful. However, tests after the operation found cancer had been present. My medical team therefore advised that I should undergo a course of preventive chemotherapy and I am now in the early stages of that treatment.”

Catherine said she had been able to reassure her children that she would recover from her diagnosis. “As I have said to them; I am well and getting stronger every day by focusing on the things that will help me heal; in my mind, body and spirits,” she said. “Having William by my side is a great source of comfort and reassurance too. As is the love, support and kindness that has been shown by so many of you. It means so much to us both.”

It is understood that the cancer diagnosis was the “personal matter” that led to William pulling out from a memorial service for his godfather, King Constantine II, in late February.

The royal couple, who will celebrate their 13th wedding anniversary next month, have endured weeks of rumours about Catherine’s condition. The speculation was only fuelled when the first official photograph of the Princess of Wales to be released after her abdominal surgery two months ago was recalled by some of the world’s biggest picture agencies over claims it had been manipulated.

She soon after issued a public apology for the “confusion” and said she had been responsible for digitally editing the Mother’s Day family photograph.

Catherine asked in the statement issued on Friday for time and space for her to complete her treatment and said she looked forward to returning to royal duties.

She said: “We hope that you will understand that, as a family, we now need some time, space and privacy while I complete my treatment. My work has always brought me a deep sense of joy and I look forward to being back when I am able, but for now I must focus on making a full recovery.

“At this time, I am also thinking of all those whose lives have been affected by cancer. For everyone facing this disease, in whatever form, please do not lose faith or hope. You are not alone.”

The palace did not provide any further information about the type of cancer that had been discovered.

Responding to the announcement, Sunak condemned the treatment of the princess “by certain sections of the media around the world and on social media”.

Starmer said: “Any cancer diagnosis is shocking. But I can only imagine the added stress of receiving that news amid the lurid speculation we’ve seen in recent weeks.”

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Cancer charities praise ‘brave’ Princess of Wales for speaking about her diagnosis

Cancer Research UK’s chief executive says high-profile cancer cases such as Catherine’s can help others to seek help early

  • Princess of Wales receiving chemotherapy treatment for cancer
  • What we know about the Princess of Wales’s cancer diagnosis
  • Catherine’s statement in full

Cancer charities have praised the Princess of Wales for her “brave” decision to speak out about her cancer diagnosis as a way to encourage others to get their symptoms checked.

In a video message released on Friday, Catherine, 42, spoke of how her condition was discovered after she underwent abdominal surgery in January. In the weeks that followed her procedure, wild rumours flew around her absence and silence – but she said she and her husband, Prince William, had needed time to explain the situation to their three children, George, 10, Charlotte, eight, and Louis, five.

“This of course came as a huge shock, and William and I have been doing everything we can to process and manage this privately for the sake of our young family,” she said.

“As you can imagine, this has taken time. It has taken me time to recover from major surgery in order to start my treatment. But, most importantly, it has taken us time to explain everything to George, Charlotte and Louis in a way that is appropriate for them, and to reassure them that I am going to be OK.”

Catherine’s announcement prompted the cancer charity Maggie’s to post tips on how to talk to young children about cancer.

“We are incredibly sorry to hear the Princess of Wales’s news and our thoughts are with her,” said Dame Laura Lee, Maggie’s chief executive. “We also know how challenging and worrying a cancer diagnosis can be for the whole family, especially with young children, and our thoughts are with them all.”

Cancer Research UK’s chief executive, Michelle Mitchell, said high-profile cancer cases such as the princess’s can help others to seek help early, when “treatment is more likely to be successful”.

“Nearly one in two of us will develop cancer during our lifetimes, but many more are affected when someone they love is diagnosed with cancer,” she said. “High-profile cancer cases often act as a prompt to encourage people to find out more or think about their own health. If people spot something that’s not normal for them or isn’t going away, they should check with their GP.”

About 393,000 people in the UK are diagnosed with cancer each year, according to Macmillan Cancer Support.

“We hear from people all over the country, every day going through the experience the princess has described, and our thoughts are also with His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales and their children,” the charity said. “Many families will be sending solidarity to them.”

Amanda Pritchard, the chief executive of the NHS, said: “We know how difficult a diagnosis and treatment journey can be for patients and their families. Speaking out is really brave and can help others to get worrying symptoms checked.”

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‘Shock and sadness’: outside Kensington Palace, public express sympathy for Kate

Members of the public wish princess well after announcement that she is being treated for cancer

  • Catherine, Princess of Wales, receiving chemotherapy treatment for cancer
  • What we know about the Princess of Wales’s cancer diagnosis
  • Catherine’s statement in full

As the sun began to set outside Kensington Palace on Friday, there was shock and sadness after the announcement that the Princess of Wales was receiving treatment for cancer.

Shortly after the news was announced at 6pm, people began to take out their phones to read the news and stop to take pictures of the Prince and Princess of Wales’s residence.

Laila Cunningham, 42, said: “It’s shock and sadness really. My sister passed away two years ago at a young age so it’s very sad to see Kate go through that. I wish her a speedy recovery.

“It’s brave of her to come out and announce her diagnosis shortly after King Charles came out and said that he also had cancer. It must be a tough time for the family, especially for William with his father and wife both receiving treatment for cancer.”

Before the announcement, the Princess of Wales had not made a public appearance since late last year after receiving abdominal surgery, prompting concern and wild speculation about her whereabouts and condition.

A picture of Catherine and her children was released on Mother’s Day but was retracted by picture agencies after edits were discovered. The Princess of Wales later apologised for editing the pictures.

“I think social media is what it is, people speculate. I don’t think she even saw it probably,” Cunningham, who is a city of Westminster conservative councillor, added.

Suveer Arora, 66, said: “It seems like after the Queen’s passing, it’s been bad news, one after another. It’s like it’s all tumbling down. It’s very sad.

“It’s very sad, especially when you’re a young mum. Cancer impacts so many people.”

“We were very sad about the way Harry and Meghan were treated. It sounds like a house of cards falling down,” she added.

Surekha Arora, 71, said: “Every family needs to be together. Forgive and forget. Cancer is so sad at any age.”

The type of cancer Catherine has been diagnosed with has not been disclosed by the palace.

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‘You are not alone’: what the papers say about Princess of Wales’ cancer diagnosis

UK papers report on chemotherapy treatment after weeks of speculation about Kate’s health

The news that the Princess of Wales has been diagnosed with cancer and is being treated with chemotherapy was the main story in all the UK papers on Saturday.

The Guardian headlined its main story “Princess of Wales receiving chemotherapy treatment” and reported that she had been the “subject of wild rumours” in recent weeks, prompting prime minister Rishi Sunak and Labour leader Keir Starmer to condemn the “lurid” and “unfair” speculation. It also featured the breaking news story of the Moscow concert hall attack.

The Times splashed on: “Princess reveals her cancer and says: I’m going to be OK”. Catherine “clasps her hands on her lap and occasionally her voice falters as she delivers the news”, it reported.

The Daily Mail called it a “Kate cancer bombshell” and quoted the princess in its headline: “I am well and getting stronger every day… I am going to be OK”. It featured some of its top columnists on its front page, with Richard Kay writing “A terrible crisis for monarchy but it WILL survive this”.

The Daily Mirror’s headline was “Kate reveals cancer shock”. It highlighted a quote from the princess’s message in which she noted that the delay in revealing her diagnosis was due in part to the fact that “It has taken us time to explain everything to George, Charlotte and Louis … and to reassure them that I’m going to be OK.”

The Independent quoted the princess in its headline, writing: “Kate: I have cancer. It was a huge shock but I’m going to be OK.” It reported that she revealed the diagnosis in an “emotional” video and said that it had “taken time to process” but that her husband, William, had been a “great source of comfort”.

The i headlined its story “Kate reveals she has cancer and has started chemotherapy”. The paper wrote that the couple had “waited until their children began Easter holidays for announcement” and that the princess had asked for “time and privacy”.

The Daily Telegraph led with “Cancer came as huge shock” and reported that she had begun treatment in late February. In a second story the paper wrote that “sickening online trolls revelling in Princess’s misery ought to be ashamed.”

The Sun headlined its story, “Kate, you are not alone”, and said the princess had received a “huge outpouring of love and support” after revealing the news.

The Daily Express wrote “Kate: My cancer came as a huge shock” and said the princess had displayed “incredible bravery and fortitude” in her “unprecedented video message”.

The Financial Times led with “Kate puts an end to speculation” and reported that the video clip came after “weeks of frenzied speculation”. The princess also told other cancer sufferers, “You are not alone,” the paper wrote.

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Anti-abortion campaigner wins control of Brisbane LNP division

Concerns raised after former Cherish Life vice-president Alan Baker elected chair of party’s Griffith divisional council

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A prominent anti-abortion campaigner has won control of a Brisbane division of the Liberal National party, prompting alarm among moderates that “fringe infiltrators” were attempting to increase their influence as polls point to a state election win.

Alan Baker, a former vice-president of the anti-abortion lobby group Cherish Life, was elected chair of the LNP’s Griffith federal divisional council (FDC) by two votes on Thursday night.

The council controls preselections and campaigns in the federal seat of Griffith, which has been held by the Greens and considered Queensland’s most progressive.

Baker has been contacted for comment.

Sources have told Guardian Australia that Baker’s supporters turned up to Thursday night’s vote and quizzed the moderate faction’s candidate for chair about abortion.

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FDC chair positions are held by relatively low-level officials within the party structure but have a seat on the state council. Moderates said the election of Baker was nonetheless concerning, as the LNP looks on the verge of winning back power in Queensland.

The opposition leader, David Crisafulli, has promised not to change abortion laws. At the last election, the LNP downplayed its position to review abortion laws, amid concern that the issue damaged the party with city voters.

One LNP moderate said it was “absurd” the party would choose Baker to lead a progressive inner-city division.

Another LNP source said: “Fringe infiltrators can see an election victory around the corner and are desperate to increase their influence”.

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Anti-abortion campaigner wins control of Brisbane LNP division

Concerns raised after former Cherish Life vice-president Alan Baker elected chair of party’s Griffith divisional council

  • Get our morning and afternoon news emails, free app or daily news podcast

A prominent anti-abortion campaigner has won control of a Brisbane division of the Liberal National party, prompting alarm among moderates that “fringe infiltrators” were attempting to increase their influence as polls point to a state election win.

Alan Baker, a former vice-president of the anti-abortion lobby group Cherish Life, was elected chair of the LNP’s Griffith federal divisional council (FDC) by two votes on Thursday night.

The council controls preselections and campaigns in the federal seat of Griffith, which has been held by the Greens and considered Queensland’s most progressive.

Baker has been contacted for comment.

Sources have told Guardian Australia that Baker’s supporters turned up to Thursday night’s vote and quizzed the moderate faction’s candidate for chair about abortion.

  • Sign up for Guardian Australia’s free morning and afternoon email newsletters for your daily news roundup

FDC chair positions are held by relatively low-level officials within the party structure but have a seat on the state council. Moderates said the election of Baker was nonetheless concerning, as the LNP looks on the verge of winning back power in Queensland.

The opposition leader, David Crisafulli, has promised not to change abortion laws. At the last election, the LNP downplayed its position to review abortion laws, amid concern that the issue damaged the party with city voters.

One LNP moderate said it was “absurd” the party would choose Baker to lead a progressive inner-city division.

Another LNP source said: “Fringe infiltrators can see an election victory around the corner and are desperate to increase their influence”.

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Man charged with murder after alleged pre-arranged fight in Sydney’s west

Police allege the accused dumped an injured man on a street in Melonba and left him to die

A man will face court accused of murder following a pre-arranged fight after which he allegedly dumped his opponent in a western Sydney street and left him to die.

Emergency services were called to Georgina Crescent in Melonba about 8.45pm on Friday after reports a man had been found and was likely deceased.

Ambulance paramedics treated the 32-year-old at the scene for significant injuries to his head and body.

The man was declared dead by the time police arrived.

Shortly after, officers were alerted to a nearby collision involving a parked car where the driver had failed to stop.

Police identified the vehicle as having been used to convey the victim to the street where he was found.

A 38-year-old man allegedly discovered hiding in bushes close by was arrested and a crime scene was established.

It is expected police will allege in court that the two men were involved in a pre-arranged fight before the injured man was driven to Georgina Crescent, where he was found by a member of the public.

The accused man was refused bail by police to appear before Parramatta bail court on Sunday.

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Coffee drinkers have much lower risk of bowel cancer recurrence, study finds

Exclusive: Scientists say people with disease who drink two to four cups a day are less likely to see it return

People with bowel cancer who drink two to four cups of coffee a day are much less likely to see their disease come back, research has found.

People with the illness who consume that amount are also much less likely to die from any cause, the study shows, which suggests coffee helps those diagnosed with the UK’s second biggest cancer killer.

Experts said the findings were “promising” and speculated that, if other studies show the same effect, the 43,000 Britons a year diagnosed with bowel cancer may be encouraged to drink coffee. The disease claims about 16,500 lives a year – 45 a day.

A study of 1,719 bowel cancer patients in the Netherlands by Dutch and British researchers found that those who drank at least two cups of coffee had a lower risk of the disease recurring. The effect was dose dependent – those who drank the most saw their risk fall the most.

Patients who had at least five cups a day were 32% less likely than those who drank fewer than two cups to see their bowel cancer return, according to the paper, which was funded by the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) and has been published in the International Journal of Cancer.

Similarly, higher levels of coffee consumption also appeared to be closely linked to someone’s chances of surviving.

Again those who drank at least two cups daily had a lower risk of dying compared with those who did not. And, as with the risk of recurrence, those who had at least five cups saw their likelihood of dying fall the most – by 29%.

People in the UK drink an estimated 95m cups of coffee a day.

The research team leader, Dr Ellen Kampman, a professor of nutrition and disease at Wageningen University in the Netherlands, said the disease returned in one in five people diagnosed with it and could be fatal.

“It’s intriguing that that this study suggests drinking three to four cups of coffee may reduce the recurrence of bowel cancer.”

However, she stressed the team had found a strong association between regular consumption of coffee and the disease rather than a causal relationship between them.

“We are hopeful, however, that the finding is real because it appears to be dose dependent – the more coffee drunk, the greater the effect,” she added.

The study is the latest to show that coffee reduces cancer risk. There is already strong evidence that it lowers the risk of liver and womb cancers and some evidence that it does the same for mouth, pharynx, larynx and skin cancers. It is also already associated with a lower risk of developing bowel cancer.

Prof Marc Gunter, a co-author of the study and chair in cancer epidemiology and prevention in the school of public health at Imperial College London, said the findings were “very provocative as we don’t really understand why coffee would have such an effect in bowel cancer patients”.

He added: “But they are also promising as they may point towards a way to improve prognosis and survival among bowel cancer patients.

“Coffee contains hundreds of biologically active compounds which have antioxidative properties and may be protective against bowel cancer.

“Coffee also lowers inflammation and insulin levels – which have been linked to bowel cancer development and progression – and can have potentially beneficial effects on the gut microbiome.

“However, we need more research to go more deeply into the biology of why coffee might have such an effect on bowel cancer prognosis and survival.”

The WCRF has identified chlorogenic acid, which is also found in kale, as an agent that could provide a key part of the explanation because of its role in managing the body’s glucose levels and regulating insulin levels.

Coffee’s emergence as a potential protector against cancer is remarkable because until 2016 the World Health Organization classed it as “possibly carcinogenic” before changing its mind because the evidence did not exist to back that up.

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Candace Owens leaves Daily Wire site amid Israel and antisemitism tensions

Far-right commentator posts ‘The rumors are true – I am finally free’ following clashes with site’s co-founder Ben Shapiro

The far-right commentator Candace Owens left the rightwing Daily Wire website amid tensions over her alleged antisemitism and opposition to US funding of Israel’s war in Gaza.

“Daily Wire and Candace Owens have ended their relationship,” said Jeremy Boreing, co-founder of the site with the rightwing commentator Ben Shapiro, who has clashed with Owens and is a strong supporter of Israel and its actions.

In her own post, Owens, who hosted a commentary show for the site, said: “The rumors are true – I am finally free.”

Owens said she would bring her show to YouTube “after a brief hiatus”.

Hamas attacked Israel on 7 October, killing more than 1,100 and taking hostages. Israel’s air and ground onslaught in response has killed more than 30,000 people and pushed Gaza to the brink of famine.

Owens has criticised US support for Israel but also mused about “political Jews” and a “very small ring of specific people who are using the fact that they are Jewish to shield themselves from any criticism”, remarks Shapiro called “absolutely disgraceful”.

On Monday, on social media, Owens liked a post in which a user asked Shmuley Boteach, a well-known rabbi, if he was “drunk on Christian blood again”.

Owens subsequently came under fire from the Anti-Defamation League. The ADL, which campaigns against antisemitism, posted a report by the progressive watchdog Media Matters about remarks in which Nick Fuentes, a Holocaust denier and white supremacist, praised Owens for mounting “a full-fledged war against the Jews”.

Fuentes, the ADL said, “is praising Candace Owens’ vitriolic antisemitism. It’s hardly surprising, but it does set off alarm bells: when bigoted people come together to push an antisemitic agenda, it adds fuel to the fire of hate.”

Owens said: “I do not know Nick Fuentes … what I do know is that everyone can see what you guys are doing to me. Your pattern is well established and the world is waking up to it. My crime is having stood up for myself against your network of smears.”

She also said she was being attacked because she did not believe “that American taxpayers should have to pay for Israel’s wars or the wars of any other country”.

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Candace Owens leaves Daily Wire site amid Israel and antisemitism tensions

Far-right commentator posts ‘The rumors are true – I am finally free’ following clashes with site’s co-founder Ben Shapiro

The far-right commentator Candace Owens left the rightwing Daily Wire website amid tensions over her alleged antisemitism and opposition to US funding of Israel’s war in Gaza.

“Daily Wire and Candace Owens have ended their relationship,” said Jeremy Boreing, co-founder of the site with the rightwing commentator Ben Shapiro, who has clashed with Owens and is a strong supporter of Israel and its actions.

In her own post, Owens, who hosted a commentary show for the site, said: “The rumors are true – I am finally free.”

Owens said she would bring her show to YouTube “after a brief hiatus”.

Hamas attacked Israel on 7 October, killing more than 1,100 and taking hostages. Israel’s air and ground onslaught in response has killed more than 30,000 people and pushed Gaza to the brink of famine.

Owens has criticised US support for Israel but also mused about “political Jews” and a “very small ring of specific people who are using the fact that they are Jewish to shield themselves from any criticism”, remarks Shapiro called “absolutely disgraceful”.

On Monday, on social media, Owens liked a post in which a user asked Shmuley Boteach, a well-known rabbi, if he was “drunk on Christian blood again”.

Owens subsequently came under fire from the Anti-Defamation League. The ADL, which campaigns against antisemitism, posted a report by the progressive watchdog Media Matters about remarks in which Nick Fuentes, a Holocaust denier and white supremacist, praised Owens for mounting “a full-fledged war against the Jews”.

Fuentes, the ADL said, “is praising Candace Owens’ vitriolic antisemitism. It’s hardly surprising, but it does set off alarm bells: when bigoted people come together to push an antisemitic agenda, it adds fuel to the fire of hate.”

Owens said: “I do not know Nick Fuentes … what I do know is that everyone can see what you guys are doing to me. Your pattern is well established and the world is waking up to it. My crime is having stood up for myself against your network of smears.”

She also said she was being attacked because she did not believe “that American taxpayers should have to pay for Israel’s wars or the wars of any other country”.

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UK defence secretary given a ride from Canberra to Adelaide in Australian military fighter jet

In demonstration of Australia’s air combat capability, Grant Shapps travels in RAAF Super Hornet after meeting with Anthony Albanese

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The UK defence secretary, Grant Shapps, has caught a ride in the back seat of an Australian air force fighter jet after meeting with the prime minister, Anthony Albanese.

The visiting dignitary met with Albanese in Canberra on Thursday before being flown to Adelaide in a FA-18 Super Hornet, according to a report by the ABC.

Two of the aircraft, valued at $100m each, took off from Canberra shortly after 7pm, one with Shapps in the back seat.

A spokesperson for the Department of Defence confirmed the flight took place and said it was a good opportunity to show off Australia’s defence capability to a key ally.

“The flight was part of a demonstration of an important element of Australia’s defence capability, to one of our key defence partners,” a defence spokesperson said.

“As the Royal Air Force do not operate the F/A-18F Super Hornet, it was selected to demonstrate one component of Australia’s air combat capability”.

The trip was a smooth ride compared to an incident that occurred over a week ago when a Royal Air Force plane that was carrying Shapps from Portugal to the UK had its satellite signal jammed, according to a Reuters report.

Shapps is in Australia for annual Australia-UK ministerial consultations, his first visit since picking up the defence portfolio in a ministerial reshuffle by the British prime minister, Rishi Sunak.

On Friday the Australian government revealed it would seek to prop up the Aukus defence pact by sending $4.6bn to the UK to clear bottlenecks at the Rolls-Royce nuclear reactor production line.

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Hong Kong’s ‘alarming’ national security law comes into force

Law, which has in effect silenced opposition, comes into force with penalties of up to life in prison for treason and insurrection

Hong Kong’s new national security law came into force on Saturday, putting into immediate effect tough penalties of up to life imprisonment for crimes including treason and insurrection.

The law – commonly referred to as article 23 – targets five categories of national security crimes, and was swiftly passed by Hong Kong’s opposition-free legislature on Tuesday.

The US, the EU, Japan and Britain have been among the law’s strongest critics, with the UK foreign secretary, David Cameron, saying it would “further damage the rights and freedoms” of those in the city.

The US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, on Friday expressed “deep concern” that the law could be used to undermine rights and curb dissent, adding it could damage Hong Kong’s reputation as an international finance hub.

But the Hong Kong leader, John Lee, has called the passage of the “safeguarding national security ordinance” a “historic moment”.

He has often cited Hong Kong’s “constitutional responsibility” to create the new legislation as required by the Basic Law, the city’s mini-constitution since its handover from Britain to China in 1997.

Lee also said the law was necessary to “prevent black-clad violence”, a reference to Hong Kong’s massive and at times violent pro-democracy protests in 2019, which brought hundreds of thousands to the streets demanding greater autonomy from Beijing’s grip.

In response, authorities cracked down on protesters, and Beijing imposed a national security law in 2020 – targeting secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces – which has in effect silenced opposition voices among Hong Kong’s once-vibrant civil society.

Nearly 300 people have been arrested under the 2020 law so far.

But Lee – who has been hit with sanctions by the US for his role as security chief during the 2019 protests – has said article 23 was still needed to “plug” the legislative gaps of Beijing’s law.

Under the new law, penalties run up to life in prison for sabotage endangering national security, treason and insurrection; 20 years for espionage and sabotage; and 14 years for external interference.

It has also expanded the British colonial-era offence of “sedition” to include inciting hatred against China’s Communist party leadership, with an aggravated sentence of up to 10 years in jail.

City leader Lee is now empowered to create new offences carrying jail terms of up to seven years through subsidiary legislation, while the security minister can impose punitive measures on activists who are overseas, including cancelling their passports.

Police powers have also been expanded to permit detaining people for up to 16 days without charge – a jump from the current 48 hours – and to restrict a suspect from meeting lawyers and communicating with others.

The UK and Australia on Friday updated their travel advice to warn citizens about the risks of breaching the new law when travelling to Hong Kong.

The former US House speaker Nancy Pelosi said at a Friday press conference that the new law was an “alarming expansion of the Chinese Communist party’s assault on freedom in Hong Kong”.

A previous attempt by the government to introduce article 23 in 2003 was dropped after half a million Hongkongers protested against the law.

This time, public response in the city was muted after the law’s passage.

But protests are expected worldwide, from Australia and Canada to Britain, where a large Hong Kong diaspora relocated after the government’s crackdown on the 2019 protests.

“The purpose of this new law is to crush the only bit of freedom left in Hong Kong by extending sentences and expanding the definition of national security,” said US-based activist Frances Hui.

Hui – who is subject to a $128,000 (£102,000) bounty issued by Hong Kong authorities – called on the Biden administration to impose sanctions on those who took part in passing the new law.

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Neo-Nazis’ sentences over attack on hikers don’t reflect level of violence, Victorian prosecutor tells court

Director of public prosecutions launches appeal against sentences handed down to Thomas Sewell and Jacob Hersant

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Prosecutors are pushing for more jail time for two neo-Nazi leaders who attacked a group of hikers in a national park, arguing their original sentences were manifestly inadequate.

Thomas Sewell, 31, and Jacob Hersant, 25, were sentenced in October 2023 after pleading guilty in the county court to a violent affray in Victoria’s Cathedral Ranges state park.

Sewell received a 37-day jail term, reckoned as time served, while Hersant was ordered to complete 200 hours of unpaid community work over 14 months. The three days Hersant spent on remand were also noted in his sentence as time served.

Victoria’s director of public prosecutions launched an appeal of their sentences, with the chief crown prosecutor, Brendan Kissane, on Friday arguing they were manifestly inadequate.

Kissane told the state’s court of appeal that in her sentencing, Judge Kellie Blair had failed to recognise the “terrifying” incident was a serious example of the violent disorder offence.

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Blair had also placed too much weight on the pair’s late guilty pleas and she wrongly found their prospects of rehabilitation were good, the prosecutor said.

Sewell and Hersant were part of a group of far-right National Socialist Network and European Australian Movement members who set upon the hikers in May 2021.

Ten to 15 men ran toward the hikers’ car, concealed their identities and threatened the group of friends, including one with a knife.

Prosecutors at the time claimed Sewell injured his arm on a broken window, either by breaking it himself or reaching into the car, while Hersant was said to have reached through the driver’s side window to either turn off the car or take the keys.

On Friday, Kissane argued the original prosecutors had pushed for a combination sentence of up to a year in jail and a community corrections order for both Sewell and Hersant.

Their current sentences did not reflect the seriousness of the offending, nor did it deter the community from committing similar crimes, he said.

But Sewell’s barrister, Dermot Dann, told the court the DPP’s case was “highly questionable”.

He said Blair rightly took into account Sewell’s onerous six months in custody during the pandemic, in which he had spent most of his time in solitary confinement.

The sentencing judge also gave correct weight to Sewell’s plea, as it avoided the need for a trial with witnesses being called, Dann said.

He said Corrections Victoria had correctly assessed Sewell’s prospects through the usual approach, rather than being focused on his political views.

Hersant’s barrister, Christopher Carr, said his client’s “entrenched views” would not predispose him to reoffending or affect his prospects of rehabilitation.

Carr said the sentencing judge did not make an error as she properly took into account that Hersant was a young offender with no prior violent offences.

Hersant had already completed his 200 hours of unpaid community work and resentencing him to more jail time would hinder his rehabilitation, he said.

The court of appeal president, Karin Emerton, and justices Maree Kennedy and Christopher Boyce reserved their decision to a later date.

Outside court, Sewell told reporters the appeal was a “political witch-hunt”, adding that he spent his six months in solitary confinement “meditating”.

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‘Beer louts with unhealthy diets’: why British cooking still hasn’t won over the French

While UK gastronomy is finally being praised worldwide, France ranked it 60th out of 60 nations in new global survey

British cooking is finally starting to be recognised around the world. But try telling the French that. For them, la cuisine Britannique – c’est nul.

Figures revealed by VisitBritain at the Tourism Alliance’s insights conference last week showed just how far the UK has to go. An annual survey by Anholt-Ipsos of 60,000 people in 20 countries, which asked for their views on 60 nations, included a new question about food.

Overall, the UK was ranked a respectable 18th out of 60 on average, except by the French who placed Britain 60th – dead last.

Oh, and indeed, la-la. The UK is suffering from a reputational hangover, according to Michel Roux Jr, the English-French owner of Le Gavroche, which closed in January after 56 years. “It’s deep-rooted and its origins go back a long way to when food in this country was absolute pants and it was just boiled meats, vegetables boiled to death and cranberry jelly and mint sauce and all those horror stories,” said Roux, who also presents Five Star Kitchen on Channel 4.

“Historically, [the stereotype] still lingers, but the younger generation, the ones that have travelled to the UK, they know that isn’t true.” His father, Albert Roux, opened a British restaurant in Paris, Bertie’s, serving roast beef and Yorkshire pudding. “People were queuing – it was very successful,” Roux said. “I honestly believe now that London rubs shoulders with any other gastronomic city in the world. It’s certainly no longer the laughing stock – I think the French are just poking a stick at us.”

London has become the destination de choix for Paris’s superstar chefs. Jean-François Piège opened Mimosa at the Langham last week, joining Yannick Alléno’s Pavyllon, Anne-Sophie Pic’s La Dame de Pic London, Claude Bosi at Bibendum and Alain Ducasse, arguably the doyen of French cuisine, who has a three Michelin-starred restaurant at the Dorchester.

If the Michelin Guide is a yardstick, the UK is gastronomically respectable with 187 restaurants getting at least one star, compared with 269 in Spain and 228 in the United States. And defenders of British food are quick to point to the diversity of dishes available here. “The cosmopolitan British food scene is something you just don’t get in France,” said Tatty Macleod, a comedian whose British parents raised her in France. “Where I grew up in Brittany, there was no diversity of cuisine whatsoever – everything was galettes, crêpes or French food restaurants.

“The idea that there is such a thing as British cuisine just wouldn’t resonate with any French people. Can you imagine if someone tried to organise a culinary tour of the UK, and they tried to sell it to a French market? I can guarantee you’re not making a single sale in France. English food to them is essentially fish and chips.”

Not only fish and chips though. In the bible of Auguste Escoffier, the 19th century “king of chefs and chef of kings”, cuire à l’anglaise – to cook in the English style – is a terme culinaire for boiling in salted water.

“I came through the French kitchen system, which was quite brutal for someone British at that time,” said Michael Greenwold, who opened Paris’s first chippie, The Sunken Chip, in 2013. “They’d tell you to go and get some English stock from somewhere, and the joke was it was just water.”

Greenwold, who has returned to Britain and is now a hospitality consultant at the Russell Partnership Collection, said there was more openness to the UK among younger, liberal Parisians. After the 2012 London Olympics, French people adopted “So British” as a Cool Britannia-type slogan to refer to the UK’s music, fashion and culture, and Greenwold noticed that Parisians going to London would talk about having an ironic plate of fish and chips. “One of the reasons we did the Sunken Chip was that, while there was the traditional bashing of British food, it’s more like the British and the Germans – an ongoing joke. But the younger generation loves Britain.”

French restaurants have always had a strong appetite for British ingredients, such as Scottish langoustines and turbot, he added. “They just thought we didn’t know what to do with it.”

Perhaps it is the British approach to food that is alien – what Greenwold describes as the absence of a cucina povera, a healthy modern English peasant food tradition, or what Tatty Macleod calls “Greggs, pasties and deep-fried Mars bars”.

“We just have a completely different approach to eating,” Macleod said. “The concept of the sandwich, eating on the go – they don’t have that in France. Every French business has a cantine [canteen] or a ticket resto [a gold-plated luncheon voucher].” French people spend more on food, prioritise it, and don’t understand why the British don’t – “they think of Brits as beer louts with unhealthy diets”.

Appalling English food is a regular joke in Les Grandes Vacances, a 1967 film known in English as The Exchange Student, and perhaps UK tourism has to overcome similar real-life childhood scars. “We came to the UK on an exchange trip when I was 14, and there were these two boys, Pierre and Maxime, who complained about what their host family gave them for lunch,” Macleod said. “It was a cheddar cheese and Branston pickle sandwich and a packet of crisps. And the teachers gathered round the lunchbox, peeling back this white, processed bread and saying ‘what is this brown stuff?’ and smelling it and saying ‘these poor boys, they can’t eat this’.”

There are some French people keen to help their compatriots move on from old stereotypes. Sarah Lachhab and Aurélie Bellacicco have published two books on British cuisine, Écosse: avoine, haggis et cranachan and Angleterre: tea, piccalilli, pasty, and have gamely tried to point out that deep-fried Mars bars are a joke. Yet one interview shows they have a lot to do. Tell me, one interviewer at Konbini, a media company, asked them: “Jelly – is that really a thing in England, or simply a myth?”

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