INDEPENDENT 2024-04-29 16:05:01


Police officer who punched medical worker after mistaking him for suspect spared jail

A serving Metropolitan Police officer who assaulted an innocent man after mistaking him for a criminal has been spared jail.

PC Jonathan Marsh, 34, had been called out to Atlanta Boulevard in Romford, east London, on 13 November 2022 after a medical worker reported someone was damaging a sign outside and making threats to kill.

Marsh mistook Rasike Attanayake, who had called 999, for the suspect and bundled him to the ground before punching him in the back of the head.

Mr Attanayake was arrested and put in the back of a police car until officers realised their mistake and he was de-arrested.

Police-worn bodycam footage played to the court showed Marsh pulling Mr Attanayake to the floor, swearing at him and punching him in the back of the head.

After the incident, he complained to the Met Police and the force referred the case to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) for them to investigate.

Marsh had denied common assault but was found guilty at City of London magistrates’ Court.

He was sentenced to 12 weeks’ imprisonment, suspended for 12 months, and ordered to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work.

He was also to pay Mr Attanayake £1500 in compensation and a standard surcharge of £154.

The court heard that Marsh had no prior convictions and had received a number of positive character references.

District Judge Annabel Pilling described his actions as “disgusting and unwarranted”. She told the court: “I accept it was out of character and you lost self control.

“As a police officer, you were in a position of significant responsibility. (These actions) will reduce trust and confidence in police.”

Speaking after the trial, father-of-two Mr Attanayake, 42, originally from Sri Lanka, told the PA news agency the incident had left him with both psychological and physical damage.

He said: “I play cricket as a bowler, but I have been unable to play because of issues I now have with my shoulder. It will get better but I have missed two seasons already.

“Psychologically, I now get triggered by alarms and people in uniforms. I have been a law abiding citizen since I have lived in the UK.”

Mr Attanayake also confirmed he was yet to receive an apology from the Metropolitan Police, and claimed he had instead been told the incident was a case of “mistaken identity”.

On Monday’s sentencing, he said: “There has been justice and this shows the resilience of our legal system. No one is above the law.

“This has dented my trust in local police and I believe more training is needed for these type of incidents.

“But I have no grudge against (Marsh) and have no bad feeling for police. Has there been justice? Absolutely.”

IOPC regional director Charmaine Arbouin said: “Police officers may only use force when it is necessary, proportionate, and reasonable in the circumstances.

“There was no policing purpose or justification for the officer to strike the man, who posed no genuine risk.

“The shopkeeper was a law-abiding member of the public who had called the police to report a crime when he became a victim of mistaken identity.

“We appreciate cases of mistaken identity can happen, however Pc Marsh made no attempt to establish the facts and the situation escalated quickly when he immediately used unnecessary force on the man who posed no threat to him or his colleague.

“Now Pc Marsh has a conviction against his name.”

Trump too ‘busy taking himself down’ for Biden to need strategy against him, ex-staffer says

Donald Trump is too “busy taking himself down” for Joe Biden to worry about curating a “big political strategy” to face his presidential rival, according to Mr Biden’s former chief of staff Ron Klain.

Mr Klain, 62, who served under the current White House incumbent between 2021 and 2023, hit out at Trump following Mr Biden’s tongue-in-cheek address at the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner, where he made several jokes against Trump.

“I don’t think it’s a big political strategy to take down Donald Trump. I think Trump is busy taking himself down every day,” he told Jen Psaki on MSNBC.

“It’s important, though, for the president to make the contrast between the kind of presidency he’s brought and what he’ll do for four more years, and [what] Donald Trump has done, what Trump himself is saying he’s going to if he gets the chance to come back to the White House,” Mr Klain said.

Biden will enjoy this strategy to “needle” Trump, Mr Klain said, but that his real joy is being out on the road campaigning.

“I think the president loves to campaign. He loves being out there with people,” he continued. “He loves working the rope live and engaging voters, and so he gets in a good mood when he’s out on the road, and so the jokes come.”

Trump still holds an advantage over the president, according to a new CNN poll. His support holds steady at an estimated 49 per cent, compared with Biden being favoured by just 43 per cent of voters – down from January’s 45 per cent.

Trump is currently embroiled in a number of legal battles, including a hush-money case which makes him the first former US president in history to face criminal trial. Trump denies all the charges against him.

The former president has been issued a gag order by Justice Juan Merchan, restricting him from publicly speaking about jurors, lawyers, potential witnesses, court staff and their families involved in the trial. However, the Republican has been accused by prosecutors of breaking the order 10 times after writing a slew of what they have called “threatening, inflammatory” posts to his social media platform, Truth Social. He has also been vocal in front of reporters about what he calls a “witch hunt” prior to entering the New York City courthouse.

Age is a contentious issue for both candidates, with Trump being 77 and Biden 81, but the current president made light of that at the Trump the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner, also calling Trump “Sleepy Don” in reference to his alleged nap during jury selection of his hush money trial earlier this month.

Biden added that he was a “grown man running against a six-year-old,” before noting that Trump would have to endure “stormy weather,” an apparent jibe at the ex-president’s criminal trial, where he was accused of making a hush money payments to Stormy Daniels to allegedly suppress stories about an alleged affair. Trump denies both the affair and the charges against him.

The shameful tragedy of Miriam Rivera, reality TV’s first trans star

The case of Miriam Rivera is a shameful episode in the history of reality TV. Widely described as the first trans celebrity to emerge from British reality TV, Rivera, a trans woman from Mexico, rose to fame as the star and premise of There’s Something About Miriam, a dating show that aired on (the now-defunct channel) Sky One in 2004. In the series, six twentysomething lads spent three weeks trying to win the affections of the glamorous woman, while unaware that she was trans. They discover this only at the end of the series, in a reveal that provoked widespread tabloid fascination, a lawsuit and, later, abject condemnation.

In 2019, Rivera was found dead, having apparently taken her own life. Her story, explored in the new three-part Channel 4 documentary Miriam: Death of a Reality Star, is less well known than that of some other reality TV tragedies, such as the suicide of Love Island presenter Caroline Flack. But it’s also one of the most damning – a dismal story of exploitation, indifference and bigotry. The documentary purports to tell the tale “using Miriam’s own voice and words throughout”, but, mostly, it’s recreated using talking-head testimony from her friends, family and those involved in the reality show, as well as plenty of archival footage.

Rivera was born in 1981 in Mexico. She showed signs of gender dysphoria from a young age, and began socially transitioning and taking hormones while still a preteen. At 14, she ran away from home. “One night, I had a dream,” she later recalled. “I heard a voice as clear as life. She told me to be proud, be strong. She said the world was waiting for me. ‘Trust the future: things will come to you’.” Moving to Tijuana and then the US, Rivera floated around the New York ballroom scene as a young adult. After being scouted for an all-trans girl band called Speed Angels, she was noticed by TV producer Remy Blumenfeld. It was Blumenfeld who cast Rivera in a new British TV project, the series that would eventually become There’s Something About Miriam. At the time of filming, she was only 21.

There’s Something About Miriam was a spin on a premise that had only recently taken television by storm. The Bachelor, in which a roster of women vie for the attention of a pedestalled male singleton, had debuted to great success on American TV in 2002; gender-flipped spin-off The Bachelorette arrived one year later. There’s Something About Miriam took this idea and added a twist: an underlying deceit, obscuring the fact of Rivera’s transgender identity. Only at the end of their televised Ibizan courtship would the contestants learn Rivera’s backstory.

The cisgender public’s understanding of trans people in the early Noughties was much less informed than even now; the show’s treatment of Rivera was deeply problematic. There’s Something About Miriam’s very premise reinforced the transphobic myth that trans people are trying to deceive cis people into sexual relationships without their informed consent. And throughout the show, there were numerous jokes made, via the voiceover, about Rivera’s genitals. As the moment of the “reveal” approached, producers got increasingly skittish; a psychiatrist, Dr Gareth Smith, was flown in to help matters, but only for the finale.

“The last day of filming was the most frightening day of my life,” Rivera said. “Not only was I revealing myself to the guys, I was revealing myself to the world. As well as that, I had to be good on camera, because the whole series depended on the drama of that moment.” When the six contestants were told that she was trans, their reactions were very uncomfortable to watch: awkward laughter; confusion; complete shock. Off-camera, it was said to be even worse. Anger was directed at Rivera, threats at the show’s producer. One of the contestants is said to have torn down parts of the set in a rage. Amid all this, Rivera was whisked away, never to meet the contestants again.

Sky’s series was a point of major controversy before it even aired. The six men who featured on the show launched a joint lawsuit for conspiracy to commit sexual assault, defamation, breach of contract and personal injury, for the psychological and emotional damage the experience had caused them. While this legal battle was going on, Rivera, and the series, became a fixation of the tabloids. Footage from a pornographic video Rivera had shot when she needed money was weaponised by the contestants’ legal team and the media. Eventually, the case was settled for an undisclosed sum of money – in the new documentary, it’s claimed that the men ultimately received around half a million pounds between them, roughly half of which went to their legal representatives.

When the series did eventually air, in February 2004, it was a ratings hit for the subscription-only channel, luring in nearly a million viewers. There’s Something about Miriam is no longer available to watch on Sky; the series and its producer issued contrite statements included at the end of the Channel 4 documentary.

The focus was on the impact the series had on the men’s mental health; no such consideration was given to Rivera. She had signed up to the series knowing what it would entail but nothing could have prepared her for the mass transphobic backlash. The onslaught of negative media attention took a toll on Rivera, who was propelled into a position of precarious celebrity. There’s Something About Miriam was followed by a stint on the Australian Big Brother. Rivera moved back to the US but she was traumatised by the experience, and her life was fraught with personal problems. She traded off her newfound fame as a sex worker, developed a drug problem and became increasingly involved with dangerous people.

In 2007, she was admitted to hospital in critical condition after falling four stories off a rooftop. She described a man coming to her door and attacking her with a hammer; in the Channel 4 documentary, a close friend suggests that Rivera may have known the perpetrator but chose not to identify him. The incident left her with serious injuries, multiple fractures, and she had to undergo brain surgery. But she survived.

Much of the last decade of Rivera’s life is hard to piece together with any certainty. At one point, she went missing for six months without explanation, later alleging that she had been kidnapped and been a victim of sex trafficking. Her substance abuse worsened. Eventually, she returned to her home in Mexico. On 5 February 2019, Rivera’s body was found outside her apartment.

Authorities determined that Rivera had died of suicide at the age of 38. This has been disputed by some of those close to her, who have contested that she may have been murdered. Others, including her brother, have said they believe the official explanation.

The public injustices and private mysteries of Rivera’s life were also the focus of the 2021 podcast series Harsh Reality: The Story of Miriam Rivera, presented by trans actor Trace Lysette. But there’s much about Rivera’s life that will always be unknowable. To this day, her story remains a profoundly sad and unsettling one.

‘Miriam: Death of a Reality Star’ airs on Channel 4 at 9pm from 29 April to 1 May

If you are experiencing feelings of distress, or are struggling to cope, you can speak to the Samaritans, in confidence, on 116 123 (UK and ROI), email jo@samaritans.org, or visit the Samaritans website to find details of your nearest branch.

If you are based in the USA, and you or someone you know needs mental health assistance right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Helpline on 1-800-273-TALK (8255). This is a free, confidential crisis hotline that is available to everyone 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

If you are in another country, you can go to www.befrienders.org to find a helpline near you.

Depardieu questioned in custody over sexual assault allegations

French actor Gerard Depardieu has been detained for questioning at a police station in Paris, according to local reports.

The 75-year-old was summoned over two separate allegations brought by two women who worked with Depardieu on film sets in 2014 and 2021, broadcater BFMTV said.

The women have reportedly alleged that Mr Depardieu groped them during filming, once in 2014 on the set of The Magician and the Siamese. and the other in 2021, on the set of The Green Shutters.

The Paris police force said it wasn’t authorized to comment and directed questions to the Paris prosecutor’s office. The prosecutor’s office said it had no comment “at this stage.”

“We have no information to communicate or confirm before having assessed any eventual charges and directions,” the office said.

One of Depardieu’s lawyers, Christian Saint-Palais, was seen walking into a police station in the 14th district of Paris after lunching at a nearby restaurant.

“No need to ask me any questions,” he said. “You know very well that a lawyer cannot speak at this stage of the procedure, and personally I regret that other persons have spoken, so I won’t make any comment.”

One of the two new alleged victim alleged in February that Depardieu grabbed her and touched her breasts on the set of The Green Shutters. Her lawyer told BFMTV that her clinet was “passing through a corridor where Mr Depardieu was sitting”.

“He grabbed her, trapped her between his legs and touched her body up to her breasts,” the lawyer said. “She felt completely powerless, incapable of escaping this trap.”

The alleged 2014 assault was reported to police in January this year, Le Parisien reported.

Depardieu denies wrongdoing and says that any relationships he has had were consensual. In an open letter last October, he said: “I have never, ever abused a woman.” His lawyer is yet to comment on the latest allegations.

In 2020, he was handed preliminary rape and sexual assault charges following allegations from actor Charlotte Arnould dating to 2018. The case remains open.

A separate case filed last year and relating to allegations of groping on a 2007 film shoot was dropped by prosecutors for being past the statute of limitations.

Depardieu has faced public accusations by a dozen women of harassing, groping or sexually assaulting them.

Oscar-nominated Depardieu was long seen as a national icon in France. He has been a global ambassador for French film, having appeared in more than 200 productions, and enjoyed international fame with several roles in Hollywood.

But he has become a divisive figure in French society, with some women viewing him as a symbol of the country’s inability to tackle allegations of sexual abuse by powerful men in the wake of the #Metoo movement.

Others, including French President Emmanuel Macron and several well-known actors, have rallied to his defence.

“He’s an immense actor, a genius of his art,” Mr Macron said late last year. “He makes France proud.”

E2E Female 100 List for 2024 Revealed

For more information and to see the full E2E Female 100 2024 list click here.

E2E, in association with The Independent, proudly unveils the E2E Female 100 list, a definitive index recognising the exceptional achievements of the 100 fastest-growing female-led or founded businesses in the United Kingdom, based on their remarkable growth rates over the past three years.

The data underpinning this prestigious recognition is gathered by Experian and Go Live Data, ensuring a meticulous selection process that acknowledges businesses solely for their tangible contributions to the commercial landscape.

Spanning a myriad of sectors, these league tables serve as a testament to the remarkable endeavours spearheaded by women across the UK.

A celebratory gala dinner is scheduled for the autumn of 2024, hosted by Shalini Khemka CBE.

Featured in the list and demonstrating extraordinary growth are Darina Garland, co-founder and co-CEO at Ooni, who has seen an 88% increase, Alison Doherty, CEO at Sarah Raven’s Kitchen & Garden Limited who has seen an 83% increase and Fateha Begum, co-founder and executive director at Dare International Ltd who has seen an 81% increase in growth.

The E2E Female 100 constitutes a pivotal component of The E2E 100, a visionary initiative encompassing six league tables, complemented by expansive receptions and a plethora of associated content.

This initiative stands as a resounding testament to the exceptional calibre of UK enterprises, showcasing their unwavering commitment to excellence, consistent growth, and groundbreaking business strategies that reverberate not only within their respective sectors but resonate nationwide, and in some instances, globally.

Highlighting talent from every corner of the UK, this list underscores the rich diversity of businesses founded by women and the monumental successes they have achieved despite navigating through the challenges of an uncertain economic landscape.

Speaking about the list, Shalini Khemka CBE, founder of E2E says: “The E2E Female 100 list is a testament to the remarkable achievements of women in business. It showcases their talent, dedication, and resilience in navigating the business world. We’re still in a period of transition where women have to be recognised as much as possible to create parity in our economy, both in terms of general recognition, pay recognition, and equal opportunities, and I believe this list serves as a pivotal step towards achieving that goal. By shining a spotlight on the outstanding contributions of women entrepreneurs, the E2E Female 100 list not only celebrates successes, but also advocates for the recognition and equal treatment of women in business.”

Andy Morley, Chief Revenue Officer from The Independent, said: “It brings us great pleasure to highlight this extraordinary assembly of women, each having demonstrated remarkable strides over the past three years in their respective fields. The collaboration between E2E and The Independent for the E2E Female 100 provides a platform to spotlight the exceptional female talent across the UK whilst inspiring future generations of female entrepreneurs, and shows E2E’s commitment to championing female leadership in business.

Lord Bilimoria CBE, DL said: “As a founding Board Member of E2E, I’ve witnessed its transformation under the stewardship of Shalini Khemka CBE, evolving into a pivotal ecosystem supporting founders, business leaders, and investors. The Female 100 is a testament to E2E’s commitment to spotlighting the fastest growing female-led enterprises across the UK— a remarkable initiative that not only celebrates the achievements of these dynamic women but also serves as an inspiration for aspiring entrepreneurs. E2E’s dedication to fostering diversity and empowering female leaders underscores its invaluable contribution to the entrepreneurial landscape, shaping a future where opportunity knows no bounds.”

The tracks are independently compiled by Go Live Data and Experian according to specific criteria and official data. Each track is supported by our partners Champions (UK) plc, Go Live Data, Virtuoso Legal and Experian.

To find out more about E2E, visit https://www.e2exchange.com

Will the Tories cave to pressure and cap net migration?

With a general election approaching and Rishi Sunak’s position looking increasingly perilous, pressure is growing on the prime minister to announce an overhaul of Britain’s immigration laws.

Former immigration minister Robert Jenrick this weekend called for net migration to be capped at less than 100,000 each year.

The Tory right-winger used a Sunday Telegraph op-ed to argue the figure should be limited to the tens of thousands, months after official figures showed it had reached a record 745,000 in 2022.

Rishi Sunak’s general election dilemma is not getting any easier

Speculation about a snap general election has been swirling around Westminster for days. In an interview with Sky News, aired on Sunday, the prime minister refused to rule out a summer election but refused to rule one in either. The betting remains on the autumn, but the variables are many.

Once speculation about the timing of a general election has taken off, there is a sense in which any prime minister is damned if they do and damned if they don’t. Gordon Brown paid the price for being judged to have “bottled it” in the autumn of 2007 after what was seen as a generally successful first few months in power. It was a fateful decision that weighed on his time in Downing Street and probably contributed to his defeat three years later.

Theresa May arguably drew the lesson from that, calling a snap election as she approached her first year in office, only to lose the small, but serviceable, majority that she had inherited. The protracted parliamentary tussle over implementing Brexit was a consequence, and ultimately cost her her job.