The Telegraph 2024-06-02 00:00:46

LIVE Reform takes lead in UK’s first ‘TikTok election’

In what’s being called the UK’s first TikTok election, readers may be surprised to find out who’s winning the battle for followers.

On the youngest mainstream social media platform, Reform UK – whose vote trends towards the elderly – has the most followers: 125,500, just ahead of Labour on 108,500, Sky news reported.

It comes as the party today unveiled a ‘battle bus’ of its own. Speaking at the launch event, Nigel Farage, the party’s honorary president, said he was “optimistic” that Reform could pick up “a good number of seats” come election day.

“We just need a couple more percentage point,” he said. “If we could get to that, then we could win a good number of seats. I feel there’s some momentum with us.”

Reform is also leading the way on Facebook, thought to be used by older voters, despite spending nothing on ads, according to the Times.

“In the first week of the campaign the Tories spent almost £200,000 on Facebook ads, and Labour more than half a million.
However, of the 52 most liked posts on Facebook by political parties since the election was called, 32 were posted by Reform.

Follow the latest updates below and join the conversation in the comments

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Tommy Robinson supporters shout out ‘hate chant’ at far-Right London demo

Supporters of Tommy Robinson led an offensive chant as thousands of Met officers worked to maintain the peace across the capital on Saturday.

Protesters supporting Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, shouted “who the f— is Allah” and other anti-Muslim chants as they marched through central London in their thousands.

The Metropolitan Police said they were on high alert having identified numerous individuals in the crowd “associated with violent disorder”.

The protest, organised by the far-Right activist, marched from Victoria Station, down Vauxhall Bridge Road and along the embankment to Parliament Square.

Meanwhile, a number of pro-Palestinian activists were arrested after breaching police conditions not to leave the pavement where they had gathered around Jubilee Gardens on London’s South Bank.

Police had earlier banned the group of around 50 protesters from entering the borough of Westminster, “to prevent the serious disruption they have said they want to achieve”.

The protesters from the group Youth Demand were also told they could not go onto any bridge over the Thames or leave the pavement after they told police they intended to block roads and bridges.

London also played host to thousands of football fans on Saturday, as Borussia Dortmund prepared to play Real Madrid in Wembley this evening.

Threatening atmosphere

Outside the Tate Britain gallery, far-Right demonstrators issued loud boos and offensive hand gestures at the gallery-goers sitting on the steps nearby.

Chants of “we want our country back” rippled through the crowd, which was led on its march by Robinson and the former actor Laurence Fox.

Robinson was surrounded by numerous security guards wearing earpieces, although the nearest counter-protesters were always at least 200 metres away. A red smoke flare was released during the march, but police did not intervene.

The crowd was festooned with Union flags and the flag of St George, as well as one supporting Donald Trump’s presidential bid.

Some of the flags had “enough is enough” written on them.

Numerous protesters wore “Make America Great Again” red caps, while a smaller number wore a variation saying “Make Britain Great Again”.

The police issued a statement saying: “Officers have identified individuals within the crowd who have a history of being involved in violent disorder.

“A number have football banning orders and are associated with hooligan groups from London and across the UK.

“There is also an element of the crowd previously well known for involvement in anti-lockdown protests during the pandemic and associated disorder.

“While there have not been any offences so far, a number of people in the crowd are intoxicated. The event still has a number of hours left to go.”

In Parliament Square, Laurence Fox made a five-minute speech to the crowd in which he accused the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, as well as the Met, of being corrupt.

He attacked trans ideology and “open door” immigration, ending by shouting “I want my country back”.

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Russia unleashes biggest missile attack in weeks

Russia unleashed the largest missile and drone attack against Ukraine’s critical infrastructure in more than three weeks on Friday night, firing a combined 100 missiles and drones.

The barrage targeted energy sites across the country, Ukrainian officials said on Saturday, damaging two thermal power plants and injuring civilians.

“The enemy launched 53 missiles of various types and 47 attack drones,” the air force said, adding that it shot down 35 of the missiles and all but one of the drones.

Russia has launched dozens of aerial attacks at Ukraine’s power facilities throughout the two-year war, causing significant damage and energy shortages as Ukraine’s stretched air defences struggle to repel the waves of drones and missiles.

“It was another extremely difficult night for the Ukrainian energy sector. The enemy struck two of our thermal power plants. The equipment was seriously damaged,” DTEK, Ukraine’s largest private energy firm, said on Telegram.

At least 19 injured

Officials said at least 19 people were injured. Twelve people, including eight children, were hospitalised after a strike close to two houses where they were sheltering in the Kharkiv region, said regional governor Oleh Syniehubov.

German Galushchenko, Ukraine’s energy minister, said Russia had targeted sites in five regions – Donetsk, Dnipropetrovsk, Kirovograd, Ivano-Frankivsk and Zaporizhzhya – stretching from near the eastern front lines to Ukraine’s west, which borders the EU.

Volodymyr Zelensky, the Ukrainian president, said Moscow was trying to “exploit” a lack of “determination” among Ukraine’s key Western backers and repeated his call for more air defence systems.

“Russia’s main goal is to normalise terror, to exploit the lack of sufficient air defence and determination of Ukraine’s partners,” he said.

“This is a test of humanity and determination for the free world. Either we pass this test together, or the world will plunge into even greater destabilisation and chaos,” he added.

In a daily briefing, Russia’s defence ministry said it had launched a “group strike with long-range… precision weapons against Ukrainian energy facilities that support the work of enterprises of the military-industrial complex”.

It said the strikes were a “response to attempts by the Kyiv regime to damage Russian energy and transport facilities”.

It also said it had hit depots with Western weapons.

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Man, 20, in court charged with murdering personal trainer on Bournemouth beach

A 20-year-old man has appeared in court charged with the murder of Amie Gray and attempted murder of Leanne Miles on a beach in Bournemouth.

Nasen Saadi, from Croydon, south London, was dressed in a grey sweatshirt and trousers when he appeared before Poole magistrates’ court on Saturday morning. He spoke only to confirm his name, address and date of birth.

He gave no indication of plea to the two charges.

Ms Gray, 34, a personal trainer and futsal coach from Poole, suffered multiple stab wounds in an attack on the beach at Durley Chine in Bournemouth at 11.42pm on May 24.

Despite efforts by paramedics to save her, she died at the scene at 12.24am on May 25.

Ms Miles, 38, who is also from Poole, was taken to hospital with serious stab wounds, but was discharged six days later.

Mr Saadi was arrested at an address in Croydon, south London, on Tuesday. Detectives from Dorset Police obtained a court extension for further time to interview him before charging him with murder and attempted murder on Friday evening.

The magistrates sent the case to Winchester Crown Court for a hearing on Tuesday, June 3. Mr Saadi was remanded in custody due to the seriousness of the charges against him.

Det Supt Richard Dixey, of Dorset Police’s major crime team, said: “Our thoughts remain with the family and loved ones of Amie Gray, as well as the woman who was seriously injured, and they have been updated with this latest development in our investigation.

“This matter has been the subject of an extensive investigation. The case will now be the subject of active court proceedings and it is vital that the justice system is allowed to follow its course.

“It is also important to stress that there should be no further commentary or sharing of information online or on social media that could potentially prejudice these court proceedings.”

Steve Lyne, Dorset’s assistant chief constable, said: “I would like to thank our communities in and around Bournemouth for their support and patience through what I know will have been an unsettling week for many.

“Our thoughts remain with the family of Amie Gray and the survivor of the incident on Durley Chine Beach. The closure of the beach around Durley Chine will have affected many local people, visitors and businesses and I don’t underestimate the inconvenience caused as a result.

“Many police officers and staff have not only been involved in the investigation throughout the last week, but also have maintained a highly visible presence in the town to answer any questions local people have had and try to be as accessible as possible at a time of heightened concern.

“I appreciate the public want to be, and indeed should be, given information to allay fears and concerns. That is balanced against maintaining the integrity of a highly complex investigation.

“Hopefully, Dorset Police has struck that balance to maintain public confidence as much as possible.”

David Sidwick, the police and crime commissioner for Dorset, also expressed his sympathies to Ms Gray’s loved ones, and to Ms Miles, saying he was “deeply saddened”.

Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner David Sidwick said: “I am deeply saddened by this devastating incident. My thoughts are with the family and loved ones of Amie Gray, as well as with the woman who was seriously injured.

“I also want to thank all the officers and staff who have worked around the clock on this investigation so far, as well as the community who have come forward and provided vital information so important to this type of enquiry,” Mr Sidwick added.

“While Dorset is generally a safe county to live and visit, I fully acknowledge this tragic incident means many may not feel safe right now.

“I want to assure you that dealing with violent crime is a priority and I will continue to ensure the force has every tool at their disposal to tackle reports of this nature.”

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Riot erupts at jail amid overcrowding crisis

Three inmates were taken to hospital after riot officers were called to tackle disorder at a jail where 10 offenders have died in the past three months, amid growing concerns about the prison overcrowding crisis.

Tornado riot officers, armed with batons and shields, were deployed to the G4S-run Parc jail in Bridgend, Wales, after about 20 prisoners refused to return to their cells and a fight broke out between offenders.

Three prisoners involved in the fight had to be taken to hospital for treatment, though their injuries were said to not be life-threatening. An air ambulance was scrambled but not used.

It is the first major disturbance since the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) was forced to introduce emergency measures to counter the overcrowding crisis, amid fears that it could run out of spaces.

The Prison Governors Association (PGA) has warned that tensions in prisons are a “tinderbox” owing to the overcrowding and have cautioned that a repeat of the Strangeways jail riot in 1990 could disable the system’s ability to accept new prisoners.

Ten fatalities

Ten inmates at Parc prison have died since Feb 27, with the most recent being 38-year-old Warren Manners on Wednesday. At least four of the deaths are believed to be drug-related, while one prison staff member has been arrested in connection with drug dealing in the jail.

Earlier in the week, families of those who have died held a protest outside the prison demanding “justice” for the deceased.

A gold command crisis operation is understood to have been activated on Friday evening after G4S requested help. Tornado officers specially trained to deal with riots were deployed.

A G4S spokesman said: “Staff at HMP Parc swiftly resolved two short-lived incidents involving prisoners on Friday, with no officers injured. Those involved will receive the strongest possible punishments, including criminal prosecution.”

G4S said the two incidents at the prison were unrelated and had been resolved without any injuries to staff. The company said it had a “zero-tolerance policy towards drugs”.

Dwindling space

Overcrowding has put jails on the brink of a repeat of the Strangeways riot, according to the PGA. Tom Wheatley, president of the Prison Governors’ Association (PGA), said some of the same “precursors” to the Strangeways riot were in place now, with jails just six weeks away from running out of spaces.

The 1990 Strangeways Prison riot was the longest prison disturbance in British penal history, lasting 25 days and resulting in one prisoner killed, 147 officers and 47 inmates injured, and much of the Manchester prison destroyed or damaged at a cost of £55 million.

Asked if the prison system could see a repeat of the riot, Mr Wheatley, former governor at HMPs Long Lartin, Nottingham, and Wakefield, said: “I really sincerely hope not, but some of the precursors of the Strangeways riot are in place again. Some of the factors that led to it are there.

“What we don’t have at the moment is the capacity that we would need [to decant prisoners] if we had a disturbance on the scale of Strangeways. I genuinely hope not, but it’s a hope rather than being safe in the knowledge that it won’t happen.”

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King invites D-Day veteran to Buckingham Palace

The King has met with a D-Day veteran at Buckingham Palace – just as the monarch prepares to make his first foreign trip since his cancer diagnosis.

King Charles, 75, presented Jim Miller with a card for his 100th birthday less than a week before he heads to France to mark the 80th anniversary of the Normandy landings.

It will be the King’s first overseas trip since he was diagnosed with cancer earlier this year and comes as he resumes a managed return to public-facing duties – while still undergoing treatment.

Speaking after his surprise invitation to the Palace and meeting with the monarch, Mr Miller said: “It was a special day and a real honour for me to meet the King and be presented with my 100th birthday card.

“I am humbled to reach such a great number, especially when I think of those who fell on the Normandy beaches all those years ago.”

He added: “The King was very interested to hear about my military service and personal experience of such a momentous and harrowing time.

“I am proud that I can still share my memories with the generations that come after me and thankful that young people are interested in what happened.”

Mr Miller served in the 11th Hussars during the Second World War and landed on Juno Beach on June 9, 1944, at just 20 years old. He arrived on the deck of an American ship with armoured cars in the hold, to take part in the Allied military operation to liberate occupied France and Western Europe.

Next week, King Charles will attend commemorative events and ceremonies on both sides of the Channel to mark the landings, alongside the Queen, the Princess Royal and the Prince of Wales.

The King, who is patron of the Royal British Legion, will join the charity’s commemorative event at the British Normandy Memorial at Ver-sur-Mer on June 6 with Queen Camilla.

Meanwhile, Prince William will attend the Canadian commemorative ceremony at Juno Beach, hosted by the Canadian government, alongside Second World War veterans and Armed Forces personnel. He will then attend the international commemorative ceremony at Omaha Beach, Saint-Laurent-sur-Mer, alongside 25 heads of state and veterans from around the world.

The Princess of Wales, who is being treated for cancer, is not expected to travel to France.

On June 5, Their Majesties, accompanied by the Prince of Wales, will attend the UK’s national celebration in Portsmouth, while the Princess Royal, the Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh and the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester will also attend events in the UK.

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Birmingham mosque’s new chief cast doubt on Hamas massacre casualty figures

The new imam of a Birmingham mosque implied that 9/11 was a case of a “bully” getting a “bloody nose” and appeared to cast doubt on the idea of hundreds of Israelis being killed on Oct 7.

Abdul Haqq Baker, the chief executive officer of Green Lane Masjid and Community Centre, also compared the situation in Gaza to the Holocaust and suggested that Hamas had treated Israeli hostages well.

Mr Baker is a former chairman of Brixton mosque in London who was last month announced as the head of Green Lane mosque in Birmingham, an organisation which has charitable status.

In a YouTube video recorded in 2021 to mark the 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, he recalled that on the day of the attacks he had bumped into a friend who had compared it to a bully getting a bloody nose – a metaphor which he used in a sermon a few days later.

Mr Baker said: “As I came out of the station I saw one of my old school friends. He knew I was Muslim, he wasn’t Muslim. And he looked at me and said ‘how you doing’… I said ‘it’s shocking isn’t it?’ He goes ‘yeah, the bully got a bloody nose’.

“Now that stuck with me so much so that when I gave the khutbah [sermon] on Friday… I mentioned that at the beginning of my khutbah, and I referred to my friend. I said ‘as one of my non-Muslim colleagues said, the bully has got a bloody nose’.”

Mr Baker has also made a number of controversial statements in the wake of the Oct 7 attack by Hamas and Israel’s subsequent military action in Gaza.

‘Atrocious parallel’

In a video recorded on Oct 28, one day after Israel launched its full-scale invasion of Gaza, he compared the situation in the territory to the Holocaust.

“We know about the atrocious – and I say this word – atrocious Holocaust that took place, World War Two, Nazi Germany,” he said. “We’re witnessing another parallel now in the 21st Century.”

In the video, he also appeared to cast doubt on whether hundreds of Israeli civilians had been killed on Oct 7.

Comparing the casualty figures to a claim – which was never verified – that 40 babies had been decapitated by Hamas, he said: “Beheading 40 babies – no evidence. Hundreds of Israelis killed. Only three or four funerals have been seen since. 

“How many funerals have we seen of the Palestinians?… How many funerals have we seen of the Palestinians in comparison to the funerals of the Israelis? Are you going to say ‘oh that they’re really private, so there are private ceremonies taking place’. What we know about the Zionists… when we look at the Zionist propaganda, they are very quick to market, to publicise, to advertise.”

The current estimate is that about 1,200 Israeli and foreign citizens lost their lives during the attack. In a later video recorded in January, Mr Baker said he did not “deny” that there had been “serious casualties” on Oct 7.

In the Oct 28 video, Mr Baker also appeared to suggest that Hamas had treated Israeli hostages well. “Many of us heard the elderly Jewish woman who was brought out of captivity when she was released. 

“Others heard of those when occupied territories were overrun, ‘that they were polite to us, they were good to us’, they said ‘we are Muslims’… we hear that a lot, that statement when people say ‘we are Muslims’ and immediately there should be a code of conduct, an ethics, when someone hears ‘we’re Muslim’.”

Green Lane mosque is no stranger to controversy. In November 2023, The Telegraph reported that its head imam, Zakaullah Saleem, told a congregation to pray for Allah to “destroy all those oppressing our brothers and sisters in Gaza”.

On another occasion in August 2023, a video of Mr Saleem went viral on social media in which he discussed the process of stoning a woman for adultery. At the time, Green Lane said the clip was “highly misleading” and lacked “context” and that the imam “did not suggest that these practices have a place in UK society”.

The Telegraph understands that the Charity Commission does not currently have any compliance case open into Green Lane.

A Charity Commission spokesman said: “We will assess the new information provided to determine if there is a role for the Commission.”

Mr Baker and Green Lane mosque were contacted for comment.

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