The Telegraph 2024-04-29 10:00:38

Live Humza Yousaf to resign at midday

Humza Yousaf is expected to announce his resignation as Scotland’s First Minister later today.

The SNP leader will quit ahead of a vote of no confidence at Holyrood, expected on Wednesday, that it appeared likely he would lose.

The development comes only four days after he held a press conference at his Bute House official residence to announce he was ending his coalition deal with the Scottish Greens.

Mr Yousaf will make a statement on his future at Bute House in Edinburgh at noon. 

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

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Watch: Two men try to force Jewish man into car boot

Police have launched an investigation after two men were seen attempting to force a Jewish pedestrian into the boot of a car.

The man appears to have been targeted by the group at around 5.30pm on Friday in Stamford Hill, north London.

Footage of the incident on Moundfield Road shows a black Volkswagen Cross coming to a stop in the middle of the road before two men exit.

A Jewish man, who is on the phone, backs away as one of the suspects wearing a bright orange top and beige shorts attempts to grab him. Meanwhile, the other man who emerged from the vehicle, is seen opening the boot of the car.

However the pair quickly return to the stationary car before driving away.

Shomrim, a north London neighbourhood watch group which monitors areas with large Jewish communities, posted the clip on social media.

The group called the incident an “attempted kidnap” and wrote on X, formerly Twitter: “Jewish male threatened by four males who demanded he gets into the boot of their car.”

The Metropolitan Police confirmed it was aware of the video and that it was investigating the incident.

Officers said one of the men allegedly told the victim to get into the boot of the car, shortly before driving off. The force said no arrests had been made.

Rise in anti-Semitism

It comes after a rise in anti-Semitic abuse in Britain following the Oct 7 attack on Israel by Hamas last year.

The Metropolitan Police came under fire last week after one of its officers threatened to arrest an “openly Jewish” man for walking in central London during a pro-Palestine protest.

Gideon Falter, the chief executive of the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, had just left a synagogue and was wearing a kippah skullcap.

Sir Mark Rowley, the Met Police Commissioner, faced calls to resign after he then defended the officer in question and described their conduct as “professional”.

Investigation under way

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: “An investigation is under way after a reported kidnapping attempt of a male in Stamford Hill.

“At around 5.24pm on Friday, April 26 the victim – a Jewish male – was walking on Moundfield Road, N16 when a car pulled up beside him and two males got out of the vehicle.

“The victim was approached by one of the males and allegedly told the victim to get into the boot of the car, shortly before driving off.

“The incident was reported to the police and an investigation was launched by officers based in Hackney.

“We are aware of a video being shared online and this will form part of our enquiries. We are in contact with the Shomrim and our enquiries are ongoing. No arrests have been made at this time.”

Shomrim was contacted for comment.

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Billy Vunipola tasered and arrested after assaulting police officer in Spanish bar

Billy Vunipola was tasered by police officers while being arrested at a bar in Majorca, on suspicion of a crime of disobedience and assaulting a police officer.

The incident took place in a bar called Epic in Palma, with local reports suggesting that Vunipola appeared upset and was under the influence of alcohol, taking off his shirt and threatening customers and employees with bottles and chairs before confronting the police officers, pushing and slapping one of them.

Vunipola, who is 6ft 2in and weighs more than 20 stone, required a second taser volt in order to be handcuffed by eight police officers at around 4.30am on Sunday morning, before later being taken to nearby Son Espases Hospital where he was reportedly sedated and bound to his bed surrounded by hospital guards and police officers.

Video footage later showed Vunipola, dressed in a navy shirt and beige shorts, being led from a police van into the Vía Alemán courts in Palma surrounded by four officers. It is understood that he has since been released on bail pending an investigation.

A spokesman for the National Police in Majorca, while not naming Vunipola, said in a statement: “In the early hours of [Sunday] morning, at 4.30am, we arrested a 31-year-old foreign man on suspicion of a crime of disobedience and assaulting a police officer.

“The events took place in a leisure establishment on the seafront in Palma, when a man was causing altercations inside the establishment.

“The man would not listen to reason and confronted the rest of the customers, and the security staff were unable to restrain him or remove him from the premises.

“The police were alerted and the officers, on seeing the man, who was shirtless and making gestures with his hands, cleared the premises. It was then that he confronted the police and attempted to assault the officers.

“The police officers tried at all times to get him to calm down, but the man would not listen to reason. At that moment, the man pushed and slapped an officer and a policeman pulled out his electric stun gun and fired a first time although the gun didn’t discharge.

“A second projectile was then fired, which did the job, and it was then that the officers jumped on him and proceeded to immobilise him by shackling him, later taking him to Son Espases hospital for assessment and arrest.

“[On Sunday] afternoon he was taken to court and released on bail pending an ongoing investigation. The identification of the alleged perpetrator cannot be provided in order to preserve his privacy.”

Vunipola was a replacement for Saracens in their win over Bath on Friday night, playing the final 23 minute of the match, before heading off on holiday given that the club are not part of this coming weekend’s European semi-finals.

The 31-year-old, who was born in Australia to Tongan parents, moved to Wales when he was a child and won a scholarship to Harrow School. He started his professional career with Wasps before moving to Saracens. 

The last of his 75 caps for England was in the Rugby World Cup semi-final defeat bv South Africa last year, but he was not selected for Steve Borthwick’s squad for this year’s Six Nations.

Vunipola is widely expected to leave Saracens for Montpellier next season. That move will effectively end any hopes of an international recall, because England players based overseas are ineligible for the national team.

Saracens said in a statement: “Saracens is aware of an incident involving Billy Vunipola in Majorca. We will of course deal with this incident internally, and will not make any further comment until then.”

Billy Vunipola’s battles with alcohol and the ‘what if’ hanging over his career

By Ben Coles

Billy Vunipola has admirably never held back from openly discussing his personal battles, publicly addressing his relationships with alcohol and mental health throughout a career which saw him make his international debut for England at 20 years old and become one of the best No 8s in the world, while also battling a torrid run of injuries.

This latest incident in Majorca, however, is by far the most serious, both in terms of the ramifications – being arrested in a foreign country for the first time – but also the wider context of this current stage of his career at the age of 31, about to depart the club which has become his home for more than a decade in Saracens with his England career also seemingly behind him.

Vunipola went through a 15-month gap between Test matches after being dropped by Eddie Jones following the 2021 Six Nations, before returning for the 2022 tour to Australia off the back of his form for Saracens. During that spell, he spoke with a therapist for seven months.

“It took me so long to get to that stage because I felt like I was indestructible until I got all my injuries,” he told World Rugby last year, having undergone knee surgeries and three fractured forearms.

“I felt like God broke me down because I was too arrogant, too confident in my own powers and I didn’t rely on God enough, which I didn’t. I needed someone to challenge me and take me away from that feeling you carry. 

“Some people after big injuries aren’t the same player. Now I feel like I’m back to just doing it and the next stage is the instincts, believing in myself. It’s a tough balance between being confident and arrogant and I was probably too far on the arrogant side.”

Vunipola also noted the importance of Calum Clark at his club, the former Saracens player who works as a performance psychologist.

In a podcast episode with former Saracens team-mate Jim Hamilton last year, Vunipola revealed that he first started drinking at the age of 25 following his first knee operation.

He said: “I went from not drinking my whole life to getting my first serious injury… and thinking I’m gonna start drinking. Just before that I broke up with my now wife and I don’t know, I was just going through a weird phase of just wanting to be that 20-year-old who never got to be a 20-year-old. It sounds silly, but I never did that.

“Fresh out of school I was playing for Wasps, on the brink of getting relegated. Even at 17, I played my first game in the Prem, so I never got to just be a kid. It sounds ungrateful but I did it at 25 in the middle of my career. It’s no coincidence that all my injuries happened when I went on a bender essentially for 10 months before I went crawling back to my wife.”

He apologised to his England team-mates during the 2019 Six Nations after returning late to the team’s hotel in Chiswick and breaking team protocol, following an alcohol-fuelled night out with former England centre Ben Te’o.

That incident came shortly after Vunipola had told The Times in November 2018 that he had stopped drinking, following a serious conversation during the summer from his family, including his brother, Mako, the Saracens and England prop.

“I had a lecture off my mum and dad, and my brother, and I finally listened to them. I’ve stopped drinking,” he said at the time.

In 2017 after England won the Six Nations, a dishevelled Vunipola was pictured being helped out of a Dublin hotel at 4.30am by a member of England’s security team, an image which was met with an almost positive reaction at the time with England’s players letting off some steam after a second straight Six Nations title.

“I don’t have any memory of that,” Vunipola said in 2019, reflecting on that moment. “All I know is that I am not getting in that state ever again.

“I have learnt from that, it’s a learning curve. I didn’t realise until the day after. It wasn’t a great time for myself, but hopefully I won’t do that to my family again. You’ve got to have some control of yourself and I probably didn’t. 

“I guess I did [say I was teetotal] but you have to own the situation. It’s funny to talk about now, but at the time it wasn’t that funny.”

Now, seven years later, an incident at a similar time in the morning raises serious questions about what happens next for Vunipola. Most importantly in terms of his personal well-being and ahead of any imminent legal ramifications in Spain, but also in terms of his career given that he is at a crucial crossroads; no longer an automatic starter at Saracens with the progress of Ben Earl and arrival of Tom Willis, on the cusp of leaving the club who have helped to nurture him into a world-class player for a new team in a new country and with the door to playing for England again seemingly shut. 

The news, frankly, is concerning.

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Britain ‘not in business’ of taking more migrants, warns Mel Stride

Britain is “not in the business” of taking more migrants, a Cabinet minister has warned Ireland after it vowed to send asylum seekers to the UK.

Mel Stride, the Work and Pensions Secretary, said he saw no reason why the UK should take back migrants from Ireland when the EU and France would not accept returns from Britain.

The row broke out after senior Irish ministers said they would draft emergency laws to send back refugees who had arrived from the UK to avoid being deported to Rwanda.

Last week, Micheal Martin, the Irish deputy prime minister, said the UK’s Rwanda policy was “impacting on Ireland” because people were “fearful” of staying in the UK and were seeking asylum in Ireland instead.

Return of migrants to UK

Simon Harris, the Irish prime minister, has asked for proposals for a new law to be brought to his cabinet this week to pave the way for the return of migrants to the UK.

However, Mr Stride said on Monday morning: “We are not in the business of having more Channel migrants in the UK.”

“We have a situation where people are coming across from France illegally. The French are not prepared to take back the illegal migrants. I don’t see why we should have any different situation.”

He added: “There are going to be discussions between the Irish Government and ours. I very much doubt we are going to end up in a position where we are going to say: ‘We are going to be taking anybody back’.

“Not least because when it comes to France and other EU countries, they are not in the business of taking people back either.”

British-Irish intergovernmental conference

The row is expected to feature in talks on Monday between Mr Martin and UK Northern Ireland ministers Chris Heaton Harris and Steve Baker as part of the British-Irish intergovernmental conference in London.

Helen McEntee, the Irish Justice Minister, has pulled out of the conference in London today in what was seen as a tit-for-tat following Home Secretary James Cleverly’s decision to cancel their meeting yesterday. Home Office sources cited a diary clash.

Immigration to Ireland rose by 32 per cent in the year ending last April, with asylum seekers accounting for more than 13,000 of over 140,000 arrivals. Irish ministers suggest that 80 per cent of the asylum seekers are crossing the border from the UK, and have cited the deterrence of Rwanda as a factor.

Mr Harris said on Sunday: “Every country is entitled to have its own migration policy, but I certainly don’t intend to allow anybody else’s migration policy to affect the integrity of our own one. 

“This country will not, in any way, shape or form, provide a loophole for anybody else’s migration challenges. That’s very clear.”

‘Deterrent effect’

However, Mr Stride was unapologetic about the Rwanda policy. Asked if it was designed to force migrants into Ireland, he denied it was the case but said it was designed to act as a deterrent.

He said: “The design is to ensure there is a deterrent effect. We passed the Rwanda Bill that means those coming here illegally can expect to be removed to Rwanda. What we are already seeing is a deterrent effect kicking in. That’s why we are seeing people moving from the UK into Ireland.”

Before Brexit, the return of migrants to EU countries was governed by the Dublin Agreement, under which migrants could be sent back to a safe third country through which they had passed before arriving at their destination.

This meant that asylum seekers arriving in Ireland from the UK, or migrants reaching the UK from France, could be returned if it could be shown that they had passed through a safe third country – that is, the UK or France.

But the UK left the scheme when it left the EU and no successor agreement was signed during the Brexit talks, meaning there are no formal returns agreements in place between EU countries and the UK.

A post-Brexit provision was, however, made in the case of the UK and Ireland, which meant Ireland could return asylum seekers to Britain. No asylum seeker has been successfully returned to Ireland, or vice-versa, under this post-Brexit arrangement since it was struck.

However, the Irish High Court last month ruled that the Irish government’s declaration of the UK as a “safe third country” to which it could return asylum seekers was unlawful, owing to the Rwanda Bill. The emergency legislation proposal seeks to overturn this judgement.

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Watch: Machete-wielding robbers trapped inside shop

Police are hunting two men after a have-a-go hero shop worker foiled machete-wielding robbers by trapping them in his store.

The incident took place in the Smethwick area of Birmingham earlier this month, when a gang entered a convenience store and threatened staff with a large knife.

CCTV footage of the attempted robbery showed one of the masked men demanding money from the till while threatening to stab the shopkeeper. At the same time, one of his accomplices began helping himself to items from the shelves.

But ignoring the danger, the quick-thinking member of staff ran from behind the counter, grabbed two bottles of wine and smashed them on the floor, disorienting the robbers.

He then managed to run out of the shop and close the door behind him, trapping two of the suspects, including the one brandishing the machete, inside.

Pulling on the door handle to prevent their escape, the shop worker was joined by brave passers-by who helped stop them fleeing. One of the robbers then began using the machete to smash the reinforced glass in the door in an attempt to get away.

The unarmed man claimed to be an innocent party who was being threatened by the one with the machete and he pleaded with the staff member to let him out. But those outside blocked the route by pulling the door tightly shut while holding a chair against the broken glass.

The suspects eventually managed to escape by climbing out through a bathroom window at the back of the property and are being sought by West Midlands Police.

Rajasingam Tharshiya, the owner of the Taas Express store, said one of the suspects managed to escape before the door was pulled shut, but the other two were trapped.

Describing his ordeal, he said: “These two lads came in with knives and started demanding money from my staff. He had the presence of mind to run from behind the counter and out of the door, one of them just beat him to the door and ran away.

“The other guy trapped inside started banging on the glass and the third man I believe was also with them, as they both escaped out of the bathroom window together.

“It’s almost like the man with the knife tries to take him as a fake hostage at one point to get my staff to try and open the door. Some other neighbours came to help pull the door shut – they were very brave, as he smashed up the windows.

“The police arrived while they were still inside, but were reluctant to go inside for some reason. At that point, they squeezed out of the bathroom window.

“It is very frightening this can happen, and our worker was very shaken up but luckily unharmed.”

A police spokesman said: “We were called just before 7pm on 18 April to reports of a disorder at a shop on Bearwood Road, Smethwick. A shop worker was threatened with a knife and offenders attempted to take items from the store.

“The shop worker, along with members of the public, attempted to lock the offenders in the store to prevent them from fleeing the scene. During this, the front door of the store was smashed.

“A boy, aged 17, was arrested on suspicion of robbery and has since been bailed pending further enquiries.”

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British man savaged in shark attack ‘aware and communicating’

A British tourist who was seriously injured in a shark attack off a Caribbean island is “aware of what is happening and can communicate” in intensive care, his wife has said.

Peter Smith, 64, from Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, was savaged 10 metres off the shore near the Starfish Hotel in Courland Bay on the north coast of Tobago on Friday morning.

He suffered damage to his left arm and leg, puncture wounds to the abdomen and injuries to his right hand, the full extent of which are still being evaluated after the attack by a bull shark.

He was in a “stable” condition in Scarborough General Hospital in Tobago on Sunday after undergoing surgery.

His wife Jo said in a statement through the BBC: “As of 9am local time today, Peter is aware of what is happening and is able to communicate a little, although he is still under strong medication.”

She thanked “two friends” who remained in the water during the attack to “battle” the shark, estimated to be 8ft to 10ft long and 2ft wide.

The couple had been holidaying on the island with friends and were due to fly home that day.

The Foreign Office said it was supporting the family.

Several beaches and coastal areas were closed and a $10,000 US (£8,000) bounty previously offered to anyone who could capture the shark was later retracted.

Last year, there were 69 unprovoked shark attacks and 22 provoked bites worldwide, along with 14 fatalities, according to the Florida-based International Shark Attack File.

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Plumbers rescue fox cub trapped in drainpipe

A fox cub was rescued from a drainpipe by plumbers after cameras revealed that it was trapped 2ft underground.

The baby fox was first discovered in Manchester by a homeowner who heard its barks from inside their property’s cellar.

They called in local group Fox Rescuers, who confirmed that the animal was trapped inside their four-inch-wide (10cm) wastewater pipe.

The team first tried to use a grasper to bring the fox out and later left food for the cub, but it refused to eat.

They then contacted the RSPCA and a plumbing firm who used a specialist camera to check that the cub was still alive and well.

The team then dug a hole and took out the pipe, finally freeing the fox.

It was taken away by Fox Rescuers, who hope to return it to the wild once it is rehabilitated.

Lee Ferrans, the RSPCA officer who helped with the operation, said: “The pipe was at a right angle which meant it was really difficult to get any equipment in there to free the cub.

“The Quick Drains team put a camera into the pipe so we could check the fox was still breathing and thankfully he was.

“We could see he was very distressed, he hadn’t eaten for a few days and he needed to get out as soon as possible.

“He is now with the Fox Rescuers who are doing a fantastic job of rehabilitating him. Once he is strong enough he will be released back into the wild.

“This was a great example of what we can achieve together for animal welfare and for every kind.

“Rescues like this are always tense as we all want the best thing for the animal. I’m just so pleased that this fox was freed, it was a real joint effort.”

Fox cubs arrive in spring following the fox mating season in January.

When born, they are deaf and blind and weigh just 100g. Their sight and hearing begins at around two weeks old.

The cubs are born with dark grey fur – with their red colouration coming through at around a month old.

And by six to eight weeks, fox cubs are weaned from their mum and start exploring outside the den on their own.

The RSPCA says that if you see a cub out on its own during the spring, it might not have been abandoned.

Instead, it is normal to see month-old cubs developing their survival skills above ground during the day and their parents are usually nearby, watching.

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