The Telegraph 2024-07-03 02:12:26


LIVE General election latest: Tories gain on Labour as Reform support drops, poll shows

The Conservatives have reduced Labour’s poll lead amid a decline in support for Reform UK, a poll has suggested.

The Redfield and Wilton Strategies survey of 20,000 voters put Labour on 41 per cent and the Tories on 22 per cent, giving Sir Keir Starmer’s party a 19-point lead.

The strategic consultancy firm last week put Labour’s lead at 23 points.

The poll, which was conducted from June 28 to July 2, also found that support for Reform has dropped by two points to 16 per cent.

The findings come as the Conservatives ramp up warnings about what a Sir Keir Starmer “supermajority” would mean for Britain in a bid to minimise the size of Labour’s expected landslide victory.

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

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Lucy Letby found guilty of trying to murder another baby girl





Convicted child killer Lucy Letby was told by a judge “she will be in court” for her sentencing after she previously refused to attend.

The 34-year-old was found guilty of attempting to kill a premature baby girl by dislodging her breathing tube while she worked a night shift at the Countess of Chester Hospital’s neonatal unit in February 2016.

Last August, Letby was convicted of the murders of seven babies and the attempted murder of six others between June 2015 and June 2016.

However the jury was unable to reach a verdict on a single allegation of attempted murder related to Baby K, a baby born 15 weeks prematurely.

At Manchester Crown Court on Tuesday, following a three-week retrial, Letby was found guilty of attempting to kill another child. Jurors took two hours and 20 minutes to decide that she had tried to claim another victim.

At her previous trial Letby refused to attend court to hear her sentence.

Following her latest conviction, trial Judge Mr Justice Goss, who sentenced her previously, told the former neonatal nurse: “Having been convicted of this offence of attempted murder you will be sentenced for it.”

“That sentencing hearing is on Friday morning and you will be here for that.

“Obviously you are serving a whole life sentence in any event.”

Sentencing hearings

The Government announced last year it planned to introduce legislation to force criminals to attend sentencing hearings.

Under the plans, if someone refuses to attend they will be committing contempt of court and will face having a further two years added on to their sentence.

Letby is one of only a handful of prisoners currently serving a whole life order, meaning she will never be released.

In his closing speech to the jury, Nick Johnson KC, prosecuting, said: “Lucy Letby is an extraordinary person, not in a good way. She has murdered seven children and also tried to murder six. Thirteen separate children.

“And you now have to consider whether she also tried to murder [Baby K]. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the shocking and dreadful context of this case.”

‘Very uncomfortable’

The case centred around the allegations of a consultant paediatrician whose evidence was also crucial during Letby’s first trial.

Dr Ravi Jayaram claimed he caught Letby “virtually red handed” standing beside Baby K’s incubator as the child’s oxygen levels dropped rapidly. He said he had gone into the intensive care unit, where the baby was being looked after, because he felt “very uncomfortable” knowing that she was alone with the child.

Dr Jayaram said he was concerned as by this point that there had been a number of incidents on the ward, which he believed were linked to Letby. He claimed he entered nursery one, where the most poorly babies were cared for, and found Letby standing next to the incubator “doing nothing” as the baby deteriorated in front of her.

The court heard an alarm that should have been sounding was not, and Dr Jayaram said it appeared to have been silenced.

He told the court that he decided to remove the breathing tube from Child K’s mouth and ventilated her again through a face mask, saying: “She picked up extremely quickly. Her colour improved, her saturations improved, I could see her chest was moving normally. That was a relief.”

‘Didn’t want to believe’

In cross-examination, Ben Myers KC accused Dr Jayaram of fabricating the silent alarm and the fact that Letby was standing beside the incubator to “create suspicion where it did not exist”.

He said: “If you had seen anything like you are suggesting, you would have gone to police or raised it with managers.”

Mr Myers also noted that rather than removing Letby from the ward, he was content for her to finish her shift after he went home, adding: “How could you just walk off the unit if there is a nurse who may have been killing babies?”

Dr Jayaram replied: “I knew other people were in there with her.” He added that he “didn’t want to believe” Letby could have been responsible.

He claimed the Countess of Chester Hospital had told him it would “absolutely be the wrong thing to go to the police” because there would be “blue and white tape everywhere”.

In his closing speech, Mr Myers launched a scathing attack on Dr Jayaram, saying: “Dr Jayaram’s evidence is, we say, an insult to the collective intelligence of everyone in this courtroom. We say it’s ridiculous and it’s unbelievable.

“You are a senior consultant and one of the leads for the unit, and you believe someone is killing babies and trying to hurt them. What would you do? You would tell the management and, if they dragged your heels, you would tell the police. It’s not rocket science. A child would know what to do.”

Letby gives evidence

Giving evidence, Letby, who was speaking for the first time since being convicted at the same court of the murders of seven babies, protested her innocence on all counts. She said she had never deliberately harmed a child, adding: “I am not guilty of what I have been found guilty of.”

The court heard that Baby K was born extremely prematurely at 2.12am on Feb 17 2016, weighing 692g.

Letby said she remembered the child because it was unusual for such a premature baby to be cared for at the hospital rather than being immediately transferred to a specialist unit.

In a defence statement made before her previous trial, Letby said: “I do not believe anyone on the unit had sufficient experience to look after a 25-week baby. Certainly none of the nursing staff did.”

She maintained that Baby K was “capable of dislodging the tube”, and did not accept that the “post-delivery care” was of “optimal standard”.

In his closing speech, Mr Johnson said the accusations of sub-optimal care and questions over whether Baby K should have been born there rather than a specialist hospital amounted to “throwing the mud of incompetence at the doctors and hoping some would stick”.

He added: “The truth is, ladies and gentlemen, is that Lucy Letby had a fascination with the babies she had murdered and attempted to murder, and with their families. She took pleasure in her murderous handiwork.”

‘Staff had to think the unthinkable’

Nicola Wyn Williams, a senior crown prosecutor with CPS Mersey-Cheshire’s complex casework unit, said: “Lucy Letby has continually denied that she tried to kill this baby or any of the babies that she has been convicted of murdering or attempting to murder. 

“The jury has heard all of the detailed evidence, including from her in her own defence, and formed its own view.

“Our case included direct evidence from a doctor who walked into the nursery to find a very premature baby desaturating with Letby standing by, taking no action to help or to raise the alarm. She had deliberately dislodged the breathing tube in an attempt to kill her.

“Staff at the unit had to think the unthinkable – that one of their own was deliberately harming and killing babies in their care.

“Letby dislodged the tube a further two times over the following few hours in an attempt to cover her tracks and suggest that the first dislodgement was accidental. These were the actions of a cold-blooded, calculated killer.

“The grief that the family of Baby K have felt is unimaginable. Our thoughts remain with them, and all those affected by this case at this time.”

In a statement issued by Cheshire Police, the parents of Baby K said: “Justice has been served, and a nurse who should have been caring for our daughter has been found guilty of harming her.

“But this justice will not take away the extreme hurt, anger and distress that we have all had to experience.

“It also doesn’t provide us with an explanation as to why these crimes have taken place. We are heartbroken, devastated, angry…and we may never truly know what happened.”

Letby will be sentenced on July 5.

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John Terry brands BBC ‘disgrace’ after poking fun at Cristiano Ronaldo’s tears





Cristiano Ronaldo was left in floods of tears after missing a penalty in Portugal’s European Championship round of 16 win over Slovenia in Frankfurt on Monday night.

The BBC poked fun at Ronaldo’s expense, first calling him “Misstiano Penaldo” in their highlights reel of his penalty miss and then later Gary Lineker posted a doctored image of Ronaldo crying with the former England striker looking on in the background. The picture, in which Ronaldo replaces a tearful Paul Gascoigne from Italia ‘90, was viewed over 350,000 times on X.

Former Chelsea captain John Terry, who missed a crucial penalty in the shoot-out of the 2008 Champions League final, was critical of the BBC’s stance and posted on Instagram: “BBC this is a disgrace!”

Portugal coach Roberto Martínez praised Ronaldo after a rollercoaster night and said: “He [Ronaldo] doesn’t need to care that much and that’s why I thank him for being the way he is, for caring for the group … I was certain he had to be the first penalty taker and show us the way to the victory.”

“I think we all felt very proud of our captain. The dressing room was delighted with what he’s doing. I think he gave us all a lesson, that you need to live every day as if it’s the last one.

“You need to have real high standards and never give up – life and football gives you difficult moments, and the way he reacted is a real example that we are very proud of in Portuguese football.”

Telegraph Sport outlines how Ronaldo’s evening went from one of frustration to despair before finally ending in sheer relief.

9 minutes

A cocky Ronaldo taunts Slovenia with a bit of showboating by playing keepy-uppy, which does not endear him to Petar Stojanovic, who brings him down.

14 minutes

A sign of things to come as the forward cries out and throws his arms up in frustration after a cross from Bernardo Silva goes just over his head. Not long after, he goes down too easily looking for a penalty.

35 minutes

He may have only scored one free-kick in major tournaments but no-one is taking the first dead-ball sighter of the game off Ronaldo, who sends it inches over the crossbar.

39 minutes

Ronaldo manages to laugh off referee Daniel Orsato moving a second free-kick from wide on the left even further out before blasting it miles wide.

56 minutes

He finally gets a free-kick on target but his howitzer is all power and no precision, flying straight at Jan Oblak.

72 minutes

Ronaldo’s head drops as he sends yet another free-kick over the crossbar from even further out after the longest of run-ups.

89 minutes

This is the moment. Diogo Jota’s reverse pass finds Ronaldo, who has just Oblak to beat, but his tame shot is saved.

90+1 minutes

Ronaldo tries to whip up the Portugal fans to make more noise after winning a stoppage-time corner.

103 minutes

Jota wins a soft penalty for Portugal and Ronaldo looks destined to be the match-winner.

105 minutes

But, after a long delay, Oblak pulls off a jaw-dropping save onto the post. The half-time whistle is blown and Ronaldo dissolves into floods of tears. His team-mates try in vain to console him and Portugal’s fans struggle to rally him before he finally composes himself.

120 minutes

After a stuttering run-up, Ronaldo narrowly beats Oblak from the spot with Portugal’s first penalty of the shoot-out. He apologises to the fans for his earlier miss, his relief later palpable after a 3-0 win on spot-kicks.

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‘State schools are in pieces – my 4-year-old autistic daughter is living proof of that’





Are you currently on a state school waiting list because of Labour’s private school tax plans? Email money@telegraph.co.uk.

Sam Howell is running out of time. There are 61 days until the start of term and her daughter, Maddie, 4, who has autism, is facing the prospect of being left without a school place in September.

It’s certainly not for want of trying. Sam has visited a dozen schools over the past year within a 20 mile radius of her home in Burgess Hill, West Sussex, but all can either not cater for her daughter’s behavioural needs or are full.

As a last resort, the council has given her a place at a local mainstream school which says they can only accept Maddie if they receive more funding to adapt the school to fit her needs, a funding application which isn’t guaranteed to be accepted.

The current preschool she attends has also ruled out being able to accommodate Maddie meaning she cannot be held back to wait for a space to open up at a special educational needs school.

Ms Howell fears Labour’s tax raid on private education will pile even more pressure on the state school sector – with children like Maddie left to bear the consequences.

She says: “100pc the system is going to fall to pieces, absolute pieces because there are going to be no spaces for anyone.

“There are going to be children who aren’t getting any help. It will be horrendous.

 “It’s [state schools are] failing the children and you just feel so alone dealing with it.

“There’s not enough staff to be helping, there’s not enough funding. The schools don’t have the experience trying to keep up with the rapid increase of all of these children coming to the surface with learning difficulties and it’s so hard to get a diagnosis.”

Funding for special educational needs and disabilities (Send) pupils in state schools has remained frozen for more than a decade and Sam says the signs are clear to see.

“If you’ve got a diagnosis it’s real, the struggle that child is having whether they are on the spectrum or they’ve got another disorder, these children need help and it’s as if they just don’t belong anywhere and schools clearly don’t have the money to facilitate these children, they are getting lost and it’s failing them massively. It’s awful as a parent to see it happening and to go through it.” 

Sam’s experience presents a snapshot of the experiences of thousands of parents with children who have special educational needs and disabilities. It is precisely why so many have turned to the private sector.

There are currently 111,154 Send pupils in private schools who receive additional support. The figure, which equates to almost one in every five pupils, has grown dramatically in recent years. It’s up 7.5pc from last year alone and almost 70pc in the past decade.

But Labour’s tax raid on private schools looks set to put an end to that.

The party has said pupils with an Education and Health Care Plan (EHCP) will be exempt from VAT. What they haven’t mentioned is this document, which sees the local authority cover the cost of school fees, is nigh on impossible for families to access.

Labour’s own shadow education secretary previously admitted the system is “broken” with the backlog stretching back two years in some instances for children to have their paperwork processed.

Of the 111,154 Send pupils in the private sector, 103,508 don’t have an EHCP. Using Labour’s own estimations it means up to 7,246 pupils, often with diverse and complex needs, will be forced out of private schools and into a state system which is already crumbling. In Scotland, no such funding scheme exists.

Sam says it is hardworking single-parent families like her who will be the losers of Labour’s policy.

“There will be a domino effect, it will be awful,” She says on the shortage of spaces.

“Surely they [Labour] can see how bad this is? It’s nationwide, this issue.”

Sir Keir Starmer has repeatedly defended the controversial policy by saying the £1.5bn the party hopes to raise as a result of the levy will be spent on state schools, including the flagship pledge to recruit 6,500 new teachers.

The figure may sound grand but given there are more than 25,000 state schools in Britain, it means for every school that gets one additional teacher, three schools will get none. A brief look at Labour’s manifesto shows none of the £1.5bn raised would be spent on support for Send pupils in state schools.

Julie Robinson, the chief executive of the Independent Schools Council, which represents around 1,300 private schools, has called on Labour to carry out a “full impact assessment” to understand what impact its VAT levy will have on Send pupils.

She said: “Over 100,000 children and young people without an EHCP receive specialist Send support in our schools.

“VAT on their parents’ fees will disrupt education for thousands of them, placing further strain on state Send provision, which is already in crisis.

“Without a full impact assessment, Labour cannot say what the immediate effect of its policy would be on Send services and local councils.

“There is a real risk that they would unintentionally pour fuel on a fire that is already very much ablaze.”

As for Sam, she is at a loss with what to do and feels she will be left with no choice but to keep her daughter at home come September, which will see her fall further behind her peers.

“Maddie is dysregulated and has unpredictable behaviour. She can get very upset or aggressive because she can’t control her emotions and her communication is behind,” she says.

“I feel forced to say ‘ok let’s chuck her in this mainstream and hope for the best’ but as her mum I just don’t feel comfortable with it. I feel for them and I feel for my daughter.

“Because of how unequipped they are, I will have to keep her with me and just deal with it.”

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King attends Ceremony of the Keys to mark start of scaled back Holyrood Week





The King has been presented with the keys to the City of Edinburgh in an ancient ceremony marking the start of a two-day visit to Scotland.

His Majesty was handed the keys on a red velvet cushion by the Lord Provost at the Palace of Holyroodhouse, his official residence in Edinburgh.

He wore a blue suit rather than the kilt he donned for last year’s ceremony, his first as monarch.

The traditional Ceremony of the Keys signals the start of Holyrood Week, the sovereign’s annual July visit to the country to celebrate Scottish culture, community and achievement.

This year’s events have been reduced to just two days due to the general election. The Royal Family last month postponed any engagements that may have appeared to “divert attention or distract from the election campaign”.

The King, 75, will also be required in London at the end of the week as the newly elected Prime Minister visits him to ask permission to form a new Government.

The King and Queen, 76, flew to Edinburgh by helicopter from Birkhall, their Scottish home, where they had spent the weekend.

The monarch was greeted by a guard of honour provided by Balaklava Company, 5th Battalion in the gardens of the palace. He received a Royal Salute before inspecting the troops through an avenue of Archers, the ceremonial unit that serves as the King’s bodyguard in Scotland.

A royal gun salute was simultaneously fired at Edinburgh Castle to mark his arrival.

The Lord Provost, Councillor Robert Aldridge, then presented the Keys to the City of Edinburgh to His Majesty, saying: “We, the Lord Provost and the members of the City of Edinburgh Council, welcome Your Majesty to the capital city of your Ancient and Hereditary Kingdom of Scotland and offer for your gracious acceptance the Keys of Your Majesty’s good City of Edinburgh.”

According to tradition, the King merely touched them before returning them to the Lord Provost for safe keeping, replying: “I return these keys, being perfectly convinced that they cannot be placed in better hands than those of the Lord Provost and Councillors of my good City of Edinburgh.”

Music was provided by The Band of the Royal Regiment of Scotland and Pipes and Drums of 2nd Battalion Royal Regiment of Scotland.

In the audience was D-Day veteran Cyril Bird, 100, from Edinburgh, who was serving with the Royal Tank Regiment in Normandy.

His wife, Liz, said: “As a country we do this thing really well. It’s so important to keep these traditions alive and well and very important to my husband and fellow D-Day veterans to be here.

“It’s also marvellous to see the King looking so well considering everything he is going through.”

Queen mingles with literary royalty

The Queen was later hailed for her “infectiously enthusiastic bookishness” as she hosted a literary reception at the Palace of Holyroodhouse.

Guests including authors Sir Alexander McCall Smith and Sir Ian Rankin mingled with local publishing industry representatives and book shop owners.

Sir Ian said Edinburgh was “a very inspiring place”, adding: “Although it’s a very small city it’s like Doctor Who’s Tardis, it’s much bigger on the inside because it has all these different versions of itself in there waiting to be explored by writers of various hues.”

He told the Queen that he was currently signing “lots of sheets of paper” for signed editions of his new book and that his wife had made him promise he would take a break after his latest one.

Earlier, the King held an investiture, knighting, among others, Sir Alexander, creator of The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series, which has sold more than 20 million copies in the English language alone.

Sir Alexander said his knighthood was a “wonderful thing” and that his famous fictional detective Mma Precious Ramotswe would be “very happy” for him after being honoured by the King.

He said: “The King is marvellous, he’s an example to all of us, he does all these things and does them so beautifully in such a friendly fashion.”

Others honoured included Paul Mealor, professor of composition at the University of Aberdeen, who composed Coronation Kyrie for the King’s Coronation last year.

King stays late at party to meet guests

The King, accompanied by the Queen and the Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh, later attended a garden party at the Palace of Holyroodhouse, where he asked to stay later than planned in order to meet as many people as possible.

Among the guests was a rescue dog called Kratu from Transylvania, which the King could not resist stroking.

Tess Eagle Swan, the owner for whom Kratu is an Autism support dog, said afterwards that His Majesty, who has a number of homes in Transylvania and visits the region regularly, told her that he knew the breed, which is normally used for guarding.

“He was taken with how gentle he was,” she said.

The King was also tickled as he chatted with vicar Rev Mark Miller from Stockton-on-Tees, Co Durham.

Mr Miller said afterwards: “I told His Majesty, ‘Welcome to the fun section,’ and he was in hysterics.”

The King also spoke at length to Dr Belinda Hacking, 52, an NHS psychologist, and Mrs Victoria Webber, 42, an NHS breast surgeon, who have become the first female High Constables in the Palace’s 800-year history.

The role was created in the early 16th century to protect the monarch in residence at Holyrood, enforcing law and order within the precincts of the palace and the Holyrood Abbey Sanctuary.

Dr Hacking said it was “an absolute honour” to become one of the first women to take on the ceremonial role.

Mrs Webber added: “People have been really intrigued  and interested. It’s a ceremonial role and we have our day jobs but it’s been wonderful so far and a huge honour to be here with Their Majesties today.”

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Prosecutors accept Trump’s call to delay sentencing after immunity ruling





Prosecutors in Donald Trump’s hush money trial have agreed to his legal team’s demand to delay the sentencing after the immunity ruling by the Supreme Court.

The final decision now lies with Judge Juan Merchan, who oversaw the trial. He will consider the request from Trump’s legal team for the process to be paused.

The possible delay comes after the Supreme Court ruled that “official” actions taken as a president cannot be used as evidence in cases concerning “unofficial” actions.

Joshua Steinglass, one of the assistant district attorneys who tried the case against the former president, wrote: “Although we believe defendant’s arguments to be without merit, we do not oppose his request for leave to file and his putative request to adjourn sentencing pending determination of his motion.”

During the trial, in which Trump was found guilty of 34 counts of falsifying business records, prosecutors used tweets from his presidential account to explain his relationship with Michael Cohen, the star prosecution witness.

He was convicted of covering up “hush money” payments to Ms Daniels, a porn star, in the run-up to his first presidential campaign in 2016, and was due to be sentenced on July 11.

Trump’s legal team now argues that the Supreme Court ruling undermines his conviction, and that the sentencing should be paused for the court to consider the ruling.

The New York district attorney’s office said that while it believed Trump’s request to be “without merit”, it would not oppose a delay. The former president’s lawyers said they would file papers making their case by July 10, and the prosecutors said they would respond two weeks later.

It could mean Trump will not be sentenced before the Republican National Convention, which begins on July 15.

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Social worker denied job over views accuses judge of setting ‘dangerous precedent for Christians’





A devout social worker who was rejected for a job because of his views on homosexuality has accused a judge of setting a “dangerous precedent for Christians” after he lost part of his discrimination claim.

Felix Ngole, 46, claims Touchstone Leeds discriminated against him because of his religious beliefs when they refused him the job as a hospital discharge mental health support worker in 2022.

He has vowed to appeal after an employment tribunal upheld part of his claim but ruled he was not discriminated against by the failure to employ him.

Mr Ngole said it set a “dangerous precedent as it gives employers the freedom to block Christians, and anyone who doesn’t promote LGBTQI+ ideology, from employment”.

He added: “I have never been accused of forcing my beliefs on anyone. I have supported vulnerable individuals from all backgrounds, including LGBT.

“If we get to the point where if you don’t celebrate and support LGBT you can’t have a job, then every Christian out there doesn’t have a future.”

Offer was withdrawn

He had previously won a Court of Appeal case against Sheffield University, which had wanted to prevent him from completing his social work degree after it became aware of a Facebook row in which he said homosexuality and same-sex marriage were a sin.

Touchstone agreed he was the best-qualified candidate and offered him the job, based in Wakefield, West Yorkshire. However, after management discovered the legal row about his views the offer was withdrawn and he was called back for a second interview.

In a published written judgment, employment judge Jonathan Brain agreed that Mr Ngole was directly discriminated against when Touchstone rescinded the initial job offer, but rejected further claims of discrimination around the second interview and the final decision not to give him the job.

The tribunal also rejected Mr Ngole’s claims of indirect discrimination and harassment.

During the hearing earlier in 2024, Touchstone argued that vulnerable LGBT patients requiring mental health support could be more likely to harm themselves if they found out about Mr Ngole’s views on homosexuality.

But the Cameroon-born grandfather, who lives in Barnsley, argued that his religious views would not prevent him from looking after someone who is LGBT.

Judge Brain said: “The expression of his beliefs rooted in his religion was a material reason for the decision taken by Touchstone to withdraw the conditional job offer on June 10 2022. The direct discrimination claim must therefore succeed.”

But the ruling went on: “Offering a second meeting or interview was the least intrusive way of proceeding.”

It added “It is difficult to see how being properly questioned about that suitability once his orthodox Christian views had come to light reasonably could be considered a violation of his dignity or to create an intimidating environment for him.”

Judge Brain said: “They [Touchstone] simply could not take the risk of the discovery by a vulnerable service user of the claimant’s views. The effect upon such an individual may be potentially devastating.

‘Actions were justified’

“Balancing the interests of the respondent in preserving the mental health of their service users against the wishes of the claimant to work for the respondent and his ability to work elsewhere gives of only one answer.

“The balance favours the respondent, and their actions were therefore proportionate and are justified.”

Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre which supported Mr Ngole, called the judge’s reasoning “contorted”.

She said: “This ruling opens up the reality of employers discriminating against and denying employment to anyone who does not celebrate and promote complete LGBT affirmation.

“We are creating a society where social workers, doctors, nurses and psychologists, for example, have to be silent or face accusations that merely holding their protected beliefs could lead to patients coming to harm.”

Touchstone said: “We very clearly and publicly pride ourselves on being a strong ally to the LGBTQI+ community, as well as all religious communities.

“We would never want to lose the trust of the communities that we work so hard to support and serve, nor are we prepared to compromise our values at any time.

“We believe we did the right thing in defending this action and acting in line with our values, with the principle aim being to protect our service users, staff and all involved with our charity.”

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