The Telegraph 2024-06-12 00:00:53

LIVE Hunter Biden guilty on all counts in gun trial

Hunter Biden has been found guilty in a federal gun trial which laid bare humiliating details of the US president’s family drama.

The president’s son was convicted by a jury in Delaware on all three of the counts relating to buying a revolver in 2018, which the prosecution said he did while addicted to crack cocaine.

Jurors deliberated for three hours after leaving the courtroom in Wilmington on Monday afternoon.

The 54-year-old now theoretically faces up to 25 years in prison – though as a first-time offender it is likely he will not serve a custodial sentence.

Joe Biden said last week that he would accept the jury’s verdict and ruled out a presidential pardon for his son.

The verdict comes in the midst of the Democratic president’s re-election bid and will no doubt be used as campaign fodder by Donald Trump and his allies.

Hunter Biden has spoken openly in a memoir about his struggle with a crack cocaine addiction before getting clean more than five years ago.

His own words came back to haunt him, when lurid excerpts of his autobiography were played for the jury.

During the trial Mr Biden’s ex-wife and two former girlfriends testified for prosecutors about his habitual drug use and their failed efforts to help him get clean.

Mr Biden now faces a second federal trial in September on charges alleging he failed to pay at least $1.4 million (£1.1 million) in taxes over four years.

Follow the latest updates below.

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LIVE Sunak promises £17bn in tax cuts

Rishi Sunak has promised £17 billion of tax cuts in the Conservative manifesto.

Estimates provided by Conservative Campaign Headquarters (CCHQ) put the total cost of the promised tax cuts over the next Parliament at £17.2 billion.

Halving employee national insurance contributions is the most expensive at £10.3 billion, followed by the abolition of self-employed NI contributions at £2.6 billion and increasing the tax-free pension allowance at £2.4 billion.

Doubling the threshold for paying high income child benefit tax charge (HICBC) to £120,000 will cost £1.3 billion, abolishing stamp duty for first-time buyers £590 million, and the suspension of capital gains tax when landlords sell houses to their tenants £40 million.

Mr Sunak has put tax cuts at the centre of his re-election campaign in a bid to draw a dividing line between him and Sir Keir Starmer.

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

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Vegan activists vandalise King’s official portrait

Vegan activists have vandalised a portrait of the King.

Footage shows two Animal Rising protesters appearing to deface the painting of the King, by Jonathan Yeo, with Wallace and Gromit stickers.

The men use rollers to plaster a picture of Wallace, from the children’s film series Wallace and Gromit, alongside a quote which states: “No cheese, Gromit. Look at all this cruelty on RSPCA farms.”

A statement from the activist group said they had chosen to redecorate the portrait of the King on Pall Mall in Philip Mould gallery to bring attention to animal cruelty.

The action was intended to raise awareness of Animal Rising’s investigation of 45 RSPCA Assured farms, described as “indefensible” by Chris Packham and “effectively fraud” by Crown Court Judge Ayesha Smart.

The action played on the King’s love of Wallace and Gromit and his status as Royal Patron of the RSPCA, the group said.

Daniel Juniper, former Early Years Practitioner and one of those involved said: “With King Charles being such a big fan of Wallace and Gromit, we couldn’t think of a better way to draw his attention to the horrific scenes on RSPCA Assured farms! Even though we hope this is amusing to His Majesty, we also call on him to seriously reconsider if he wants to be associated with the awful suffering across farms being endorsed by the RSPCA.

“Charles has made it clear he is sensitive to the suffering of animals in UK farms; now is the perfect time for him to step up and call on the RSPCA to drop the Assured Scheme and tell the truth about animal farming.”

The report, released by Animal Rising on Sunday, contains investigations from 45 farms across the UK – including chickens, pigs, salmon, and trout.

It alleges 280 legal breaches and 94 breaches of Defra regulations.

The portrait of the King will be on public display at the gallery until June 21.

The first official portrait of the King since the Coronation was unveiled last month.

It was painted by Jonathan Yeo, who began work on it in 2021 with sittings at Highgrove and Clarence House.

The final of four sittings took place in November 2023, with Yeo aiming to capture his Majesty’s “life experiences” and how his “role in our public life has transformed”.

The portrait was unveiled by the King, in front of the Queen, the artist and his family, at Buckingham Palace.

It was commissioned in 2020 to celebrate the then-Prince of Wales’s 50 years as a member of The Drapers’ Company, intended to be ready for the anniversary in 2022.

The canvas is around 8.5ft by 6.5ft when framed and will eventually hang in Drapers’ Hall.

Philip Mould told The Telegraph he was “delighted to say there was absolutely no damage” to the painting.

It is understood there were four perpetrators responsible for the stunt, two of whom were filming.

They entered the gallery wearing rucksacks and as members of the public.

Staff later unpeeled the two Wallace and Gromit themed stickers and asked the protesters to leave.

In 2012 the Duchess of Cornwall said her husband, the then Prince Charles, enjoyed watching Wallace and Gromit.

The Duchess revealed royal viewing habits when she met children at a reception at Clarence House.

She did so at an event where she was unveiled as patron of the Big Jubilee Lunch, which aimed to bring communities together to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

She told the children: “I love Shaun the Sheep. He’s really funny. My husband Prince Charles – Wallace and Gromit are his favourite people in the world. We always sit and watch them – it’s one of his favourite films.”

The gallery has reported the incident to the police.

The Metropolitan Police was contacted for comment.

Buckingham Palace declined to comment.

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June temperatures at half the level of this time last year

Temperatures in June 2024 are at half the level of 2023, the Met Office has said, although warmer weather is predicted towards the end of the month.

While London was experiencing 32C (89.6F) a year ago, temperatures were around 16C (60.8F) in the capital on Tuesday. Similarly Cambridge had temperatures of 30.3C (86.5F) on June 11 2023, and 15C (59F) on the same day in 2024.

Temperatures are around 2C (35.6F) below average for the time of year, with scattered showers this week that could turn into heavy rain by Thursday, while some areas could see ground frosts.

The Met Office said the cool temperatures were not unusual historically but they are a clear contrast to 2023’s balmy weather.

“You only have to go back to 2020 to see a cool start to the month and the temperatures then were further below average than we’re currently experiencing,” said a spokesman. “This is just normal variability of the UK weather.”

He added that ground frosts in June were much more common in the past, decreasing from 1.8 days for 1961-1990 to 1.3 days for 1991-2020, which could add to the sense that 2024’s chill is unusual.

Temperatures are expected to rise closer to the average by the end of the week but rainy conditions could make it still feel chilly.

“The UK is currently under the influence of a cool pool of air from the north, with a northerly airflow helping to subdue temperatures somewhat for the time of year,” said Stephen Dixon of the Met Office. 

“From Thursday, a front of rain from the west will bring a period of wet weather for much of the country, with 20-30mm of rain likely in some western areas, with totals reduced somewhat further east.

“This front will be the start of a period of more unsettled weather, with low pressure continuing to have an influence on the forecast through the weekend and into the start of next week.

“This means an unsettled weekend of weather is likely for much of the UK, with a mixture of showers and some more persistent rain at times.”

Summery conditions possible

But longer forecasts suggest that towards the end of June there may be warmer weather. The BBC said there could be a “trend towards calmer and even summery conditions” after the middle of the month in southern England and Wales.

The picture for Scotland was less sunny with “a risk of somewhat wetter and windier conditions”, the BBC said.

Jonathan Webster, the curator of RHS Garden Rosemoor, which is preparing for its Festival of Roses, said the weather was actually prolonging some flowering periods.

“Because we’ve got the moisture the plants are growing away happily,” he said. “It’s good for plants because it’s been moist with a bit of heat.

“Now, it’s not extreme cold, and some things will have an extended flowering period as we’ve still got moisture and the soil hasn’t dried out.

“Heat can stress plants and flowers, so some things will last longer due to less stress of heat or drought. Heat makes flowers end sooner.”

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Watch: Protester throws ‘coffee cup and wet cement’ at Nigel Farage

Police have tackled a protester who threw objects at Nigel Farage while he was on the campaign trail.

Mr Farage was waving at a crowd of supporters in Barnsley town centre from the top of the Reform battle bus when a man appeared to throw something towards him.

The Reform UK leader, 60, can be heard shouting “oh” and a loud thud is audible as the object hits the body of the bus.

A man wearing a red hoodie and backpack can be seen reaching into a bin before launching another object towards Mr Farage.

The individual then attempts to run away but is tackled by several uniformed police officers.

The crowd can be heard cheering and clapping as the assailant is arrested.

Mr Farage said he had been warned by police not to get off the bus.

He added he believed the objects were some wet cement from a work site and a coffee cup.

Posting the video on Twitter, Mr Farage, who is standing as an MP in Clacton, Essex, wrote: “My huge thanks to South Yorkshire Police today.

“I will not be bullied or cowed by a violent Left-wing mob who hate our country.”

Mr Farage added: “These people want to stop my election campaign. That’s never going to happen.”

Speaking later while campaigning in Ashfield, Nottinghamshire, Mr Farage said the attack on him o was “pretty nasty”.

He said that the police tipped them off early that it was “not a very good idea” to leave the battlebus.

He added: “Protest is allowed. Protest is part of our democratic process. But protest needs to be within certain bounds. Protest does not involve chucking cement towards me, or even stones.

“I don’t mind if someone shouts something rude at me, I would probably shout it back. But when it comes to violence that actually poses a real threat.”

He added that would be in hospital now if he had got off the bus and that people who throw objects during campaigns should “absolutely” go to jail.

A South Yorkshire Police spokesman said: “We have arrested a 28-year-old man on suspicion of public order offences following disorder in Barnsley Town Centre today (June 11).

“It is believed that the man threw objects from a nearby construction area. A suspect was quickly detained and remains in police custody.”

Second time Farage targeted

It is the second time Mr Farage has been targeted while campaigning for the general election. Last week he was hit by a milkshake in Clacton, Essex.

Victoria Thomas Bowen, 25, was charged with assault by beating and criminal damage when a milkshake was thrown over Mr Farage as he left the Moon and Starfish Wetherspoon pub in Clacton-on-Sea in Essex on Tuesday last week.

Mr Farage was seen with the yellow drink splattered across his dark blue suit as he boarded his campaign bus.

During a campaign walkabout in Newcastle in 2019, he had a £5.25 Five Guys banana and salted caramel milkshake thrown at him.

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Neighbours raise the roof in bitter row over repairs at their Grade-II listed homes

A row has broken out between two elderly neighbours after one put up scaffolding in the other’s garden.

Gill Hayes-Newington, 90, has threatened legal action after she came home to find scaffolding crowding her flowerbeds and overlooking the bedroom window of her Grade II-listed cottage in Halesworth, Suffolk.

The structure had been erected by builders employed by her neighbour Dr Andrew Jones, 65, so that repairs could be made to the roof of his own Grade-II listed home.

Ms Hayes-Newington, a retired social worker, is adamant she knew nothing about the scaffolding until it went up, describing her neighbour’s actions as “egotistical” and “discourteous”.

She added: “He has violated and invaded my privacy – the scaffold blocks my bedroom window and they can peer right in. How would you react if you came home to find your neighbour’s scaffolding in your back garden?

“It is egotistical for them to assume this is OK and to assume that I didn’t have plans, such as a garden party with my friends.”

Dr Jones said his roof can only be safely accessed by scaffolding, which is mostly in his garden but also has some struts placed on Mrs Hayes-Newington’s side of their shared garden wall.

The retired town councillor added that he actually owns the thin strip of land on Mrs Hayes-Newington’s side, on which the scaffolding rests, and insisted that he warned her about the work in advance.

The pair have been neighbours on Rectory Street, a cul-de-sac in the market town, for more than a decade.

Dr Jones said: “My partner and I of course conferred with Gill about the essential maintenance to my roof.

“It is a little complicated because my home extends to her side of the wall so technically the scaffold, though her side of the wall, is in line with my house.

“I am very sorry that Gill is distressed by the work to my roof and the scaffold in her garden, but as she knows, the work is essential in order to maintain the Grade II-listed property.

“Furthermore she even knows the builders who are doing the work as they have done jobs to her home too.

“If she is taking legal action, I don’t think it will go far.”

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Stop hosting work socials at pubs to include Muslim staff, law firms told

City law firms have been urged to stop hosting work socials at the pub over fears they exclude Muslim staff.

A report by Rare, a UK graduate recruitment company specialising in diversity, said the legal profession’s “big drinking culture” is unfair to those who abstain from alcohol.

It suggested that law firms introduce more cooking, painting or pottery classes to boost team bonding, rather than hosting events centred on booze.

As part of its research, Rare interviewed 10 aspiring lawyers of Pakistani and Bangladeshi origin, many of whom had worked for law firms as interns.

One Muslim interviewee, named Rabia, said she felt forced to drink alcohol at legal networking events to fit in.

She said: “If you say you’re not drinking, the [response is] always: ‘No, have one’. ‘No’ never seems to be like a finite answer. There is a lot of pressure [to drink] even if you didn’t want to.”

Some complained that they weren’t seen as “fun” among their colleagues if they did not drink, and were not invited to socialise as a result.

They also recalled feeling uncomfortable at formal social events held in pubs or bars, with many choosing to miss out because of their religious beliefs. 

In particular, Muslim women wearing hijabs were found to be at greater risk of family and community disapproval if seen at bars or pubs. 

One interviewee named Hamza said: “It feels dishonourable in terms of religious beliefs going into a pub because that’s a place that we don’t really like to associate ourselves with.

“It basically creates a disconnect between us and our colleagues because they collectively will go to the pub and drink for a very long period of time and really get to know each other.”

The interns claimed alcohol-fuelled events stopped them from building the relationships needed to secure coveted training contracts, many of which come with the promise of six-figure salaries upon completion. 

The City lawyers working themselves to death

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The report called on law firms to review their approach to organising work socials, although recognised it would be unrealistic for all events to be completely alcohol-free. 

The report also found some Muslims would be more comfortable attending social gatherings held at the office rather than pubs and bars. 

Naomi Kellman, head of research at Rare and author of the report, said it is “crucial” for employers to open up the conversation around religious practice at work.

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