The Telegraph 2024-04-25 16:00:32

Live Yousaf’s political future could lie in Alex Salmond’s hands

Alex Salmond’s Alba Party could decide whether Humza Yousaf is forced to resign as First Minister in a vote of no confidence that has been tabled at Holyrood.

Labour and the Liberal Democrats confirmed they would support a motion tabled by Douglas Ross, the Scottish Tory leader, stating that “the Parliament has no confidence in the First Minister, in light of his failures in government”.

This means Mr Yousaf needs the backing of the Scottish Greens – who are furious with him for throwing them out of his government – or Alba Party MSP Ash Regan.

If the Greens back the vote of no confidence, there would be 64 votes in favour and 63 SNP MSPs against.

Ms Regan voting with the SNP would tie the vote at 64 each, giving Holyrood’s presiding officer Alison Johnstone the casting vote. Ms Johnstone is duty bound to vote for the status quo, meaning Mr Yousaf would survive.

It would be an extraordinary turn of events, as Ms Regan lost out to Mr Yousaf in the SNP leadership contest last year then defected to Alba. The First Minister said at the time her defection was “no great loss”.

Mr Salmond told Times Radio: “Inadvertently, Humza Yousaf has managed to make Ash Regan, an Alba MSP, the most powerful MSP in the Scottish Parliament because she now has the swing vote in the parliament.”

You can follow the latest updates below and join the conversation in the comments section here

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Live Weinstein lawyers hail ‘tremendous victory’ as conviction overturned in #MeToo setback

Harvey Weinstein’s lawyers have hailed the disgraced Hollywood mogul’s “tremendous victory” after New York’s highest court overturned his 2020 sex crimes conviction in a blow to the #MeToo movement.

“We all worked very hard and this is a tremendous victory for every criminal defendant in the state of New York,” lawyer Arthur Aidala said immediately after the ruling came out.

In a 4-3 decision, the state Court of Appeals said the trial judge made a critical mistake by allowing testimony from women who claimed that Weinstein assaulted them, even though they were not part of the charges he faced.

The actor Ashley Judd, one of the first women to go public with her allegations against Weinstein, said the ruling was “unfair to survivors”.

“We still live in our truth,” she told the New York Times. “And we know what happened.”

Follow the latest updates below.

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Nato nuclear weapons sent to Poland will be a priority target, Kremlin threatens

Nato nuclear weapons would become a primary target for Russia if they were deployed to Poland, Kremlin officials have warned.

“Moves in this direction will not provide greater security (for Poland or other nations that host such weapons),” said Sergei Ryabkov, the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister.

Separately, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that any nuclear weapons deployed to Poland would be legitimate targets in the event of war with the alliance.

It came as Alexander Lukashenko, the President of Belarus, said Russia had deployed “several dozen” tactical nuclear weapons in his country.

Belarus said last June it had begun taking delivery of the weapons, the first time that Russia has deployed nuclear missiles in a foreign country since the Soviet era.

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Post Office chief ‘misled High Court about Horizon’

A former Post Office boss has been accused of misleading the High Court by claiming she did not know Horizon could be accessed remotely before 2018.

Angela van den Bogerd testified under oath in March 2019 during the Mr Bates vs the Post Office case that she first became aware that transactions could be inputted without a sub-postmaster’s knowledge in November 2018.

But the inquiry has been shown a number of emails which show she was told this was possible in 2010 and 2014.

Questioning her, Jason Beer KC, lead counsel to the inquiry, asked: “That [your High Court testimony] was false, wasn’t it?”

Ms van den Bogerd, who held a number of roles in the organisation from 1985 until 2020, replied: “At the time, I didn’t think it was.”

She had earlier apologised for the “devastation” caused by the Horizon scandal but insisted that she “didn’t knowingly do anything wrong” and “did the best I could and to the best of my ability”.

Ms van den Bogerd, who was at the Post Office in various roles from 1985 to 2020, also admitted that the burden of proof was on sub-postmasters accused of theft or false accounting to prove they were not guilty.

The onus was therefore not on the Post Office to definitively rule out that Horizon faults were the reason for discrepancies.

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Laurence Fox ordered to pay £180,000 after calling two people paedophiles on Twitter

Laurence Fox has been ordered to pay a total of £180,000 in damages to two people he referred to as paedophiles on social media after losing a High Court libel battle.

The actor-turned-politician was successfully sued by Simon Blake, a former Stonewall trustee, and Crystal, a drag artist, over a row on Twitter, now known as X.

Mr Fox called Mr Blake and Crystal, who is a former RuPaul’s Drag Race contestant whose real name is Colin Seymour, “paedophiles” in an exchange about a decision by Sainsbury’s to mark Black History Month in October 2020.

The Reclaim Party founder counter-sued the pair and broadcaster Nicola Thorp over tweets accusing him of racism.

In a judgment in January, Mrs Justice Collins Rice ruled in favour of Mr Blake and Mr Seymour, dismissing Mr Fox’s counter-claims.

In a ruling on Thursday, the judge said Mr Fox should pay Mr Blake and Mr Seymour £90,000 each in damages.

She said: “By calling Mr Blake and Mr Seymour paedophiles, Mr Fox subjected them to a wholly undeserved public ordeal. It was a gross, groundless and indefensible libel, with distressing and harmful real-world consequences for them.”

At a hearing in March, Lorna Skinner KC, for Mr Blake and Mr Seymour, had said the pair should receive “at least six-figure sums” from Mr Fox, calling a suggestion the pair should only receive a “modest” award “nonsense”.

However, Patrick Green KC, for Mr Fox, said the starting point of damages should be between £10,000 and £20,000, with the total being “substantially lowered” due to an apology from Mr Fox and the absence of malice.

Massive reporting

During the hearing in March, Mr Green also said there was no need for the Lewis actor to publicise the ruling decision on his social media.

He said in written submissions: “This has been the most high-profile libel action of the year and both the trial and the judgment were massively reported in the media…. There can be few, if any, original publishers in the present case who will be unaware of its outcome.”

The barrister added: “The outcome of this long-running case literally could not be better known than it is already.

“For whatever passing doubts or vague suspicions that may have at some time subsisted in the minds of readers, only a modest financial award in compensation should be due.”

Mr Green added: “The remarks were quickly retracted and apologised for, and at the very least it was clear to the public at large at an early stage that the allegation was baseless.”

Mrs Justice Collins Rice declined to make an order requiring Mr Fox to publish a summary of the judge’s decision on his Twitter account.

Ahead of Thursday’s ruling, Mr Fox described the original judgment as a “bullies charter” and said he disagreed “profoundly” with the result.

He said in a post on X: “I don’t know what the judge will award these people. But the costs of these proceedings are enormous. So a whopper of a cheque is getting written in the next few days.”

Mr Fox added: “We are seeing the courts used maliciously across the West and that is a very concerning trend. So enjoy the victory guys and I hope it is short lived!”

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Labour accused of failing to keep Britain safe ‘in a dangerous world’

Labour has been accused of failing to keep Britain safe in a “dangerous world” after the party refused to back the Government’s boost to defence spending…

Blood-soaked horse Vida may never serve again after London rampage injuries

Two ceremonial Army horses seriously injured after bolting through central London on Wednesday may never be able to perform their duties again.

Vida, a grey pictured covered in blood as it charged through the streets, has undergone surgery and is resting under observation in Hyde Park Barracks.

Another horse with worse injuries, named Quaker, was transferred to an equine hospital after undergoing surgery.

Both Quaker and Vida are being closely monitored, and doubts remain as to whether they will recover enough to resume active duties.

The other two Household Cavalry horses that bolted, named Trojan and Tennyson, are resting under the observation of Army veterinary officers, but are expected to make full recoveries and resume their duties shortly.

Trojan was the horse seen running with Vida through Aldwych, along Fleet Street and past St Paul’s before the pair were finally stopped at Limehouse, east London.

Army vets are still trying to establish whether Quaker was the horse seen crashing into a tour bus on Buckingham Palace Road or whether Trojan recovered enough from the impact to be able to race on for several more miles.

“I’m afraid we simply don’t know at this stage who was the one who hit the bus,” said an Army source. “It was quite a confusing and fast-moving sequence of events to piece together.”

Speaking about Vida and Quaker, an Army spokesman said: “We are hoping that both these horses make a recovery. Whether they will recover enough to return to official duties, it’s too early to know for sure.

“But they’ve been given the best veterinary treatment possible and remain under close supervision.

“Vida was the most visibly injured, and the pictures of the horse running through London soaked in blood were horrifying. Vida was operated on overnight and is currently in stables at the Hyde Park Barracks under observation.

“Quaker was also operated on overnight, but it was decided to move the horse to an equine hospital in the early hours for more specialist treatment. The extent of the injuries is not completely clear, but we don’t believe at this stage there are any broken bones. The blood seen on Vida was consistent with lacerations.”

An Army source told The Sun that Vida was “lively” and had a history of being spooked. The horse is thought to have kicked a soldier in the head during the King’s Coronation.

The spooking of the four horses coincided with a separate incident on Wednesday when another horse from the Household Cavalry was filmed rearing and throwing off a trooper during exercises on Horse Guards Parade

A man filming is heard saying shortly before the incident: “The horses are having a bit of a dance show this morning, they’re not settling down as quick as they usually do.”

Seconds later, there is commotion among the crowd as a black horse appears unsettled and moves in a frantic manner. Several of the horses are seen tugging against their harnesses as the first horse bucks and throws the rider off.

The man filming then says: “Oh a trooper has been thrown. What is going on with the horses today?”

As a medic tended the fallen rider, his colleagues tried to calm their own steeds. Moments later, the crowd applauded as the fallen rider managed to get to his feet.

In the rush-hour incident, four pedestrians were injured after the horses careered through the streets, smashing into vehicles including a Mercedes-Benz people carrier.

The horses had initially been spooked by the noise of concrete being shifted by builders at a property in Belgravia.

Lt Col Matt Woodward, Commanding Officer, Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment, later said: “A small group of horses were spooked by construction work in a quiet side street in Belgravia where building materials were dropped from height right next to them.”

After bolting into Wilton Crescent, the horses ran to Belgrave Square, leaving hoof marks in the tarmac and damaging parked hire bikes and an electricity junction box. 

In total, ambulance crews treated four people in three separate incidents in Buckingham Palace Road, Belgrave Square, and at the junction of Chancery Lane and Fleet Street in the space of 10 minutes.

By 10.30am, all horses had been recovered and returned to Hyde Park Barracks.

The Army said three soldiers who were injured would “recover fully and return to duty”.

Inspector Myles Hilbery, of City of London Police, said: “This was a dynamic incident, and the courageous actions taken by police officers from our roads policing team prevented further harm and distress to the horses and members of the public.” 

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