INDEPENDENT 2024-03-30 16:04:15


Iranian TV journalist posts update from hospital after being stabbed

An Iranian TV journalist who was stabbed outside his London home in a horror knife attack has posted a picture from his hospital bed as counterterrorism police were called in to investigate.

Pouria Zeraati was described as being in a stable condition after being stabbed in the leg during the incident, which took place in south London on Friday.

Iran International spokesman Adam Baillie said on Saturday that the incident was “hugely frightening” but that Mr Zeraati was “doing very well” and recovering in hospital. Hours later, he posted a picture of himself in hospital, flashing the peace sign.

The London-based dissident channel aims to provide independent coverage of Iran but the Tehran regime has declared it a terrorist organisation. No arrests have been made so far.

Iran’s charge d’affaires in the UK, Mehdi Hosseini Matin, said “we deny any link” to the incident.

It came as witnesses claimed Mr Zeraati’s attackers were “clearly laughing” as they ran from the scene of the stabbing before getting into a car.

A neighbour, who did not wish to be named, said he was walking down the residential street with a friend and witnessed the aftermath.

He told the Evening Standard: “It’s a very quiet suburban road and we saw two young men sprinting towards us, about 20 yards away and then got into a car. They sped off.

“It felt odd. The two men were laughing, quite clearly laughing. I looked two of them in the eye – they were no more than a cricket pitch length away from me.

“We took the number plate and about 10 seconds later, there’s a man trying to flag us down. We tried to give first aid and take his jeans off.

“He had been stabbed, I think four times. He had his jeans on and he had a pool of blood on his leg. It was [awful] to see.”

Mr Baillie claimed the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) has been targeting journalists from the channel and their families.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “It was a shocking, shocking incident, whatever the outcome of an investigation reveals.

“But for him as a leading presenter, as with our other presenters and journalists, yes, it is a great shock. It’s the first attack of its kind.”

Asked what he believed lay behind the attack, Mr Baillie said: “We can’t say. The fact that [Counter Terrorism Policing] is leading the investigation probably speaks for itself.

“Along with our colleagues at BBC Persian, Iran International has been under threat, very heavy threats, for the last 18 months since the IRGC said ‘we’re coming for you’, which they have consistently repeated.”

He said the IRGC “get in touch through proxies, they don’t leave a paper trail”.

“No one’s going to call up from the IRGC and go ‘hey, it’s us’, but families have been taken in for questioning, and threatened.”

He added: “The scale of that has increased dramatically over the last few months. And the scale and the type of questioning is more aggressive, ‘tell your relatives to stop working for this channel’, and so on.”

The Met said in a statement that the motivation for the attack was not yet clear but added that Mr Zeraati’s occupation, coupled with recent threats towards UK-based Iranian journalists, meant the probe was being led by specialist counterterrorism officers.

Since 2022, several plots to either kidnap or kill British or UK-based individuals perceived as enemies of the Iranian regime have been disrupted by police, it is understood.

In January, the Foreign Office announced sanctions against members of the IRGC’s Unit 840 following an ITV investigation into plots to assassinate two of Iran International’s presenters in the UK.

Officials said the plot was the latest credible example of Iran’s attempts to kill or intimidate Britons or people with links to the UK, with at least 15 such threats since January 2022.

In a separate case in December 2023, an IT worker was jailed for three and a half years for spying on Iran International before a “planned attack” on British soil.

Magomed-Husejn Dovtaev carried out hostile reconnaissance for others unknown at the London headquarters of the Persian-language television channel in February.

After a trial at the Old Bailey, the Chechnya-born Austrian was found guilty of trying to collect information for terrorist purposes.

Anyone with information should contact police by calling 0800 789 321.

‘I quit’: Lizzo’s dramatic statement as she hits out at ‘lies’ against her

Lizzo announced “I quit” on Instagram on Friday (29 March).

The statement concluded a lengthy rant in which the singer said she was tired of being the subject of “lies”.

“I’m getting tired of putting up with being dragged by everyone in my life and on the internet,” she wrote.

“All I want is to make music and make people happy and help the world be a little better than how I found it. But I’m starting to feel like the world doesn’t want me in it.

“I’m constantly up against lies being told about me for clout & views… being the butt of the joke every single time because of how I look. My character being picked apart by people who don’t know me and disrespecting my name.

“I didn’t sign up for this s***. I quit,” she added alongside a peace sign emoji.

Lizzo’s representatives did not immediately respond to The Independent’s request for comment.

The Grammy Award-winning pop singer’s reputation faced serious damage last August when she was sued by three former members of her dance troupe.

Dancers Arianna Davis, Crystal Williams and Noelle Rodriguez accused Lizzo and her production company of assault, racial and religious harassment, fat-shaming, disability discrimination, and false imprisonment.

Days later, Lizzo denied the claims, branding them “false” and “sensationalised”. “I’m hurt but I will not let the good work I’ve done in the world be overshadowed by this. I want to thank everyone who has reached out in support to lift me up during this difficult time,” she said.

Then, in September, fashion designer Asha Daniels filed a lawsuit with the Los Angeles Superior Court, accusing Lizzo of allowing bullying, harassment and racial discrimination to take place behind the scenes of her tour.

A spokesman for Lizzo called the lawsuit “a bogus, absurd publicity stunt” and alleged Daniels had “never actually met or even spoke with Lizzo”.

In December, Lizzo’s lawyers filed to have Daniels’s lawsuit dismissed, arguing that it is “defective” because the allegations have no connection to California, where it was filed. According to the filing, Daniels lives in New York and worked with Lizzo on tour in Europe.

A lawyer for Daniels said Lizzo’s team was trying “to shift blame to the victims… Lizzo and her lawyers can continue trying to rationalise her illegal and wretched conduct but we remain committed to seeking justice for our clients, and look forward to our day in court where Lizzo can explain her behaviour in a public forum.”

The allegations fly in the face of Lizzo’s public persona. As a performer, she is known for promoting body positivity, women’s rights, LGBT+ rights, and anti-bullying. Throughout her career, she has crafted a globally successful brand of body positivity and self-love, backed up by a discography of empowerment anthems.

Putting the clocks forward this weekend could ruin your health

Putting the clocks forward is a rite of spring. Yes, it means lighter evenings, but also losing an hour’s beauty sleep… oh, and an increased chance of a heart attack or stroke.

According to a team of Italian scientists, writing in the Journal of Clinical Medicine, daylight saving – losing an hour’s sleep and then having to reset all the clocks in the house, eating into even more of your precious Sunday morning – is linked with the incidence of acute myocardial infarction.

There’s more bad news for timepiece-botherers. A Finnish study found an increased likelihood of stroke, particularly in the first two days after the clocks change. Women are also more at risk than men, as were those aged over 65.

The Kennedy who could be a kingmaker in the presidential race

Could it be that this November, for the first time in 64 years, a scion of arguably the most storied name in American politics could be elected president? That a great grandson of the US ambassador to the Court of St James during the Second World War, will write another chapter in the Kennedy history book?

Ok having given this the big build up, let me take a wrecking ball to my hyperbolic question: the answer is no. But, it could be that a Kennedy who is running for president as a third party candidate this November will be decisive in who does make it to the White House.

Robert Francis Kennedy Junior was nine years old when his uncle, America’s 35th president, John F Kennedy, was murdered. He was 14 when his father met the same fate in 1968, as he was campaigning to win the nomination to become the 37th president.

Princess to skip Easter service as Charles to ‘sit away’ from family

King Charles is due to attend an Easter Sunday service as part of his first public appearance since he was diagnosed with cancer but the Princess of Wales is not expected to go along.

Charles and Queen Camilla are expected to sit away from the rest of the congregation in a bid to protect the monarch’s health when they attend the service at St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle this weekend.

In previous years, the King and his wife have been joined at the event by Princess Anne and husband Vice Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence, as well as Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, and her daughters Princess Eugenie and Princess Beatrice.

Prince William and Kate are not expected to attend this year amid the duchess’s own cancer diagnosis and treatment.

It came as a palace source explained why Prince William had not appeared in Kate’s emotional video in which she announced her diagnosis. They said: “It is a message from the princess about her health, and she wanted to personally deliver the message on her own.”

The DUP must keep Sir Jeffrey Donaldson’s policy of sharing power

We cannot comment on the reason for Sir Jeffrey Donaldson’s resignation as leader of the Democratic Unionist Party, except to say that the due process of law must be respected.

But his sudden departure from the leadership of the largest unionist party in Northern Ireland does have implications for the government there. It was only last month that the devolved administration was restored in Belfast after a two-year suspension. This was a welcome step forward after difficult negotiations not just between Sir Jeffrey and Rishi Sunak, the prime minister, but between different strands of opinion within the DUP.

That the DUP will now face a leadership election, in which there is likely to be a candidate opposed to the restoration of devolved government, puts the newly functioning administration at risk.

Will Tory failure to help renters cost them even more votes?

The Renters (Reform) Bill is becoming a landlords’ charter, according to campaigners for the rights of tenants in the private rented sector. Michael Gove, the housing secretary, has written to Conservative MPs announcing changes to the bill to “bolster landlord protections” in the hope that these will overcome the resistance to the planned law.

The revised bill started its parliamentary passage in the House of Lords this week and will come before the Commons after the Easter recess.

The bill had been delayed by the threat from a group of pro-landlord Tory MPs to vote against it. They argued that the abolition of “no-fault” evictions would tilt the balance too much in favour of tenants and make private renting uneconomic for landlords, forcing them to sell.