The Telegraph 2024-07-11 20:12:51


LIVE Wait until after Tory conference to appoint Sunak’s successor, says Alex Chalk – live updates

The Tories should wait until after the Conservative Party’s annual conference in the autumn to appoint Rishi Sunak’s replacement to allow leadership candidates to be put “under the microscope”, a former Cabinet minister has suggested. 

Alex Chalk, the former justice secretary, said the Tories must not “rush” the process of appointing a new leader. 

Mr Chalk told the BBC’s The Today Podcast: “The Conservative Party will win back broad base support if it shows that it is credible, it is calm, it is rational and it is focused relentlessly on answers to people’s problems.” 

Asked if that meant potentially delaying the choice of leader beyond the Tory conference at the start of October, Mr Chalk said: “Absolutely it does. My point about the credibility and competence, Rishi Sunak is both of those things, he is absolutely exceptional at analysing these various issues. 

“And the Conservative Party is just going to have to talk these things through.” 

He added: “I want to see all of these guys, I want to see them put under the microscope, how do they get on in broadcast interviews, how do they get on when they are off their preferred topic… I want to see all that, that takes time, I think we have that time, we shouldn’t rush it.”  

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Crossbow attacker kills BBC racing commentator’s family

The wife and two youngest daughters of John Hunt, a BBC racing commentator, have been killed in a crossbow attack at their home…

Ollie Watkins scores one of the greatest goals in England history – and Gareth Southgate’s subs work

When finally it came in front of the great terrace of Oranje fans, on 89mins 59secs exactly, the game ebbing, it felt like a revelation – a bolt from nowhere from substitute Ollie Watkins who was facing away from goal one moment, and thundering in the winner the very next…

End your run now, George Clooney tells Biden as he hosts Nato leaders





George Clooney called on Joe Biden to end his election campaign as the US president welcomed world leaders to a Nato summit in Washington DC on Wednesday.

The Hollywood star, who is a major Democratic donor and described himself as a friend of the president, said Mr Biden was no longer “the same man” voters saw in 2010, nor the candidate who stood for office in 2020.

Calling for the Democratic Party to “figure it out” at its national convention next month, he added: “We are not going to win in November with this president.”

The 81-year-old president is facing growing pressure from figures in his own party to make way for a younger nominee before November’s presidential election, following his disastrous debate performance against Donald Trump on June 27.

At least eight House Democrats have openly called on Mr Biden to not seek re-election, but Peter Welch became the first in the Senate to explicitly do so on Wednesday.

“For the good of the country, I’m calling on President Biden to withdraw from the race,” the Vermont senator said in an opinion piece in the Washington Post.

Clooney and Mr Welch’s remarks came as Mr Biden welcomed world leaders to Washington for the annual Nato summit, and met Sir Keir Starmer for the first time.

Both leaders will deliver press conferences on Thursday, with the spotlight particularly focused on Mr Biden after his recent string of gaffes.

Nancy Pelosi, the former House Speaker and Democratic grandee, said on Wednesday that she would support whatever decision Mr Biden makes on his campaign, ignoring his public insistence that he will fight on.

“It’s up to the president to decide if he is going to run,” she said. “We’re all encouraging him to make that decision.”

Mr Biden appeared to have silenced doubters within his own party this week with a forceful letter to his colleagues and an interview with ABC in which he said only the “Lord Almighty” could convince him to stand down.

But when Clooney became the latest high-profile Democrat to use his platform to urge Mr Biden to reconsider his campaign, it added to concerns about his health on Capitol Hill.

“The one battle he cannot win is the fight against time,” Clooney said in an article for The New York Times.

“None of us can. It’s devastating to say it, but the Joe Biden I was with three weeks ago at [a] fund-raiser was not the Joe “big f—ing deal” Biden of 2010.

“He wasn’t even the Joe Biden of 2020. He was the same man we all witnessed at the debate.”

In 2010, Mr Biden was caught on a hot microphone telling Barack Obama that his landmark health legislation was a “big f—ing deal.

Hakeem Jeffries, the Democratic leader in the House of Representatives, met congressmen on Wednesday and said he would pass their concerns to the president.

‘Terrifying threat of a Trump presidency’

Some Democrats are worried that Mr Biden will not only lose the presidency, but make Democrats in congressional races more unpopular. 

They have said that the presidency and both branches of Congress could fall to Trump, making it more difficult for Democrats to oppose his policies. 

Ritchie Torres, a Democrat representative in New York, said that Democrats needed to consider the “down-ballot effect of whomever we nominate”. 

“Blindness is not bliss,” he said, “amid the terrifying threat of a Trump presidency.”

Mr Biden’s presence on the ballot could turn New York, a previous safe haven for Democrats, into a “battleground” state, data shows.

An analysis by Cook Political Report, an election forecaster, suggested Mr Biden is likely to lose in the swing states of Nevada, Arizona and Georgia.

Mr Pelosi, 84, said the critics should wait until after the Nato summit before making any decisions about going public with demands for him to stand down.

So far, seven Democrats have issued public statements, with more speaking to journalists about their concerns behind the scenes.

Mr Clooney said that “every senator and congress member and governor that I’ve spoken with in private” believed the Biden campaign was headed for disaster.

There is no mechanism for Mr Biden to be deposed by his party, and any change in nomination would be made under a process designed by him.

Sir Keir flew into the Nato summit on Tuesday night after being sworn in as an MP in Parliament and met Mr Biden in the White House on Wednesday.

Asked what he wanted to get out of the meeting, he said he hoped to build on “a very special relationship we have between the UK and the US”.

“We make a unique contribution in Europe to Nato and therefore it’s a very good opportunity for me to talk to the President about how we take forward the important work at this summit,” he said.

He also suggested that Mr Biden was not too old for the job, arguing that his own government’s pledge to force peers to retire at 80 was not a reflection on the capabilities of any leader.

“We’ve got 800-plus members of the House of Lords, it’s simply too big. We need to reduce it,” he said.

“So it doesn’t reflect on how other elected representatives are chosen in other countries, it’s to do with the size of the House of Lords.”

Mr Biden’s Nato press conference on Thursday will be closely watched by critics for gaffes that will spur on their attempts to remove him.

His first event of the summit on Tuesday night appeared to pass without a hitch, and supporters hope that the scripted appearance will enable him to avoid any public mistakes.


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Concerns about his age come as Nato members discussed whether Ukraine should be allowed to use long-range missiles to strike military targets inside Russia.

Sir Keir said the UK government would continue to allow its weapons to be used by Kyiv in cross-border attacks, but stopped short of confirming whether that included Britain’s air-launched Storm Shadow cruise missiles.

He said the weapons would “obviously be used in accordance with international humanitarian law”.

The chief of defence staff, Admiral Sir Tony Radakin, had previously said the weapon could only be used inside “Crimea and mainland Ukraine”.

Anthony Blinken, the US Secretary of State, separately said that missile-equipped F-16 fighter jets would be delivered to Ukraine imminently, and would “be flying in the skies of Ukraine this summer”.

Ruben Brekelmans, the Dutch defence minister, said the discussions were focused on whether Kyiv can use long-range missiles to strike Russian aircraft before they mount attacks on Ukrainian territory.

He told The Telegraph the discussions were “about the range that those munitions can be used in Russia”.

Nato members will on Thursday release a communique setting out their joint approach to Ukraine for the next year.

The US and Germany have successfully blocked an attempt by some Eastern European countries to set out a timeline for Ukraine joining the alliance, amid concerns that could draw the West into direct conflict with Russia.

Instead, members will offer more military hardware and a “well-lit bridge” to membership that gives more detail on the criteria for membership than at last year’s summit in Lithuania.

In a nod to the ongoing conflict, Russia served “chicken kievs” at a dinner to celebrate assuming the rotating presidency of the UN Security Council on July 1.

The menu used the Russian spelling of Kyiv’s name, which is also commonly used for the dish.

Sergiy Kyslytsya, the Ukrainian ambassador to the UN, said: “The moral decay of Russian diplomacy is glaring.”

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Queen joins celebrities in Wimbledon’s Royal Box for women’s quarter-final





The Queen has arrived at Wimbledon to watch Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina face off against Russian-born Elena Rybakina in the tournament’s quarter-final.

Her Majesty was joined by an array of celebrities in the Royal Box including actors Keira Knightley, David Suchet, Richard E Grant and ABBA guitarist Björn Ulvaeys.

Other dignitaries included The Archbishop of Canterbury, Fergal Sharkey, the former punk frontman turned environmental campaigner, and Mark Carney, the former Governor of the Bank of England.

The Queen, wearing a cream linen giraffe dress by designer Anna Valentine, was seen shaking hands with ball boys and ball girls as she passed through the gates of SW19.

She later met former British tennis players Jamie Delgado and Laura Robson before taking her seat in the Royal Box.
The long shadow of Russia’s war with Ukraine was cast over Centre Court on Wednesday afternoon as Svitolina, 29, faced off against Rybakina, the world number four.

Only two days before, Svitolina had called for the All England Club to ban Russian players from competing after she broke down on court over the bombing of a children’s hospital in Kyiv.

Rybakina, 25, from Moscow, had represented Russia before switching to Kazakhstan in 2018 when she was offered funding and training by the Kazakhstan Tennis Federation (KTF) to support her career.

Svitolina, who has worn a specially approved black ribbon on her chest during her tournament run in solidarity with those killed in Ukraine, said earlier she would shake her opponent’s hand after the match, saying: “She changed her nationality, so it means she doesn’t want to represent her original country, so it works,” she said.

The late Queen had been an infrequent visitor to Wimbledon, making only four visits during her 70-year-long rule.
First in 1957, then 1962, 1977 and finally in 2010 when she watched Andy Murray triumph over Finland’s Jarkko Nieminen.

Royal biographer Brian Hoey, explaining the infrequent number of visits in his book Royalty Revealed: A Majestic Miscellany, wrote: “Tennis is not on the list of royal favourite sports.”

The Duchess of Gloucester has been earmarked as a likely candidate to present the Wimbledon trophies this weekend if the Princess of Wales is unavailable, as she continues her recovery from cancer treatment.

Debbie Jevans, chair of the All England Club said they would give the Princess “as much flexibility as possible” in determining whether she is able to fulfil her ceremonial duties as Club Patron on finals weekend, including leaving a decision until the morning of the women’s final on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Novak Djokovic, the seven-time Wimbledon champion, has sailed through to the semi-finals after his opponent, “honorary Brit” Alex De Minaur crashed out of the tournament with a hip injury.

Only an hour and half before they were to meet on Centre Court, Australia’s De Minaur, the world number nine, announced his withdrawal at a press conference.

A despondent De Minaur said it would have been “disrespectful” not to face Djokovic while not “100 per cent” ready.
De Minaur disclosed he had felt a “loud crack” while sliding to win a match point against France’s Arthur Fils on Tuesday.

He said: “It is devastating, no way to beat around the bush, you know… I haven’t really been able to enjoy what I have achieved this week, I knew as soon as I felt that ‘pop’ I knew something bad had happened.”

Asked when he might return to the court, he replied: “If I’m completely honest, I don’t know, they haven’t been able to tell me a definite recovery plan because this is such a unique injury, it is based on pain a little, right now it can be anywhere from three to six weeks it just depends on how quickly my body heals.”

De Minaur, 25, is seen as much a representative for the UK, as he is for Australia, over his romance with Katie Boulter, the British No1.

Boulter, 27, was knocked out this year by rival British player Harriet Dart, 27, in the second round of the tournament.
 

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Lucy Letby verdict: ‘There’s a chance this is a terrible miscarriage of justice’





After Lucy Letby was found guilty of seven murders and seven attempted murders, questions have started to emerge about some of the evidence used to convict the former nurse. 

On Tuesday, The Telegraph examined the concerns in the arguments used to convict Letby. 

In response, Telegraph readers weighed in on the guilty verdict. 

‘Ms Letby has been let down all round’

Some readers believe the evidence used to convict Letby was unreliable.

For example, Stephanie Findlay said: “There seems to be a problem when experts give probabilities. A juror has to be convinced beyond reasonable doubt, but when an expert says the probability is one in 73 million, the juror is virtually duty bound to accept the expertise.

“However, one could say that it is statistically improbable that anyone would win the lottery. So perhaps these probabilities should be compared to other improbable events like being run over by a bus or killed in a train crash, so the jurors understand that even if the chance is minuscule, it can happen.”

The reader concluded: “If Lucy is innocent, I hope she gets justice very soon.”

Similarly, David James thought The Telegraph’s investigation “hopefully will bring a step towards the case and conviction being reviewed”.

He continued: “It appears Ms Letby has been let down all round by the prosecution, defence lawyers and the appeal judges.”

A few readers were particularly concerned by the statistical evidence used against Letby.

Retired analyst Cassandra Blackley was “glad the DT ran this piece”. Ms Blackley has “repeatedly voiced grave concerns about the use of shift pattern evidence in convicting Letby, and repeated the Royal Statistical Society (RSS) warnings about its validity, often to howls of disapproval from other commentators. This piece is first-rate investigative journalism”.

Likewise, “I have always felt a bit uneasy about this case”, an anonymous reader began. They shared that their wife worked in the same hospital until recently, and although she didn’t work with Letby directly, they knew that some of the staff who worked with the former nurse still protest her innocence. 

“Secondly, the statistical evidence just seems a bit inconclusive. I still think she probably did it, but maybe there’s a 10-20 per cent chance that this is a terrible miscarriage of justice,” the reader said.

Richard Martin also pointed to “the statistical problems” which he argues “were absolutely clear at the time of the original trial and conviction, and several people pointed this out”.

“I can not really understand why Letby was not given leave to appeal,” they said.

‘I could find no evidence that was compelling’

Meanwhile, T. Platt, who is also “uncomfortable” with the guilty verdict, shared his experience as a lawyer: “I could find no evidence that was compelling, and way too much that could be shown to be unreliable.

“This doesn’t mean I think she did not do it, more that I can’t see how they can convict on the basis they have.”

One reader suggested there were issues with a trial by jurors as “fellow citizens” rather than “peers”.

Brian Harrington said: “It is very likely that none of the jury members were Ms Letby’s ‘peers’, i.e., with equivalent training, qualification, and experience in neonatal medicine. Being ‘fellow citizens’ of Ms Letby in no way makes them qualified to make decisions in this highly specialised field of medicine, and, in addition, the issue, (as pointed out in the Telegraph’s analysis), of sophisticated, advanced statistics. 

“Even the judge is not qualified to draw conclusions about the evidence presented. I would hypothesise that the jury’s verdicts are very likely based on which barristers they disliked least.”

In a similar vein F. A. McWeeney took issue with the make up of the jury: “My husband and I wondered how a jury could be found for the recent trial that was not influenced by their knowledge of the previous results.

“Juries are told to put any knowledge they may have out of their minds but how is that really possible?”

E.A. Harper-Wilkes believed Lucy Letby to be a scapegoat: “This whole business reminds me of Sally Clarke – the solicitor who was wrongly imprisoned for murdering her babies. It was a travesty of justice from which she never recovered and she and her husband were solicitors who knew how the law works.

“I believe it will turn out there were no ‘murders’ just an overburdened, unsanitary and badly managed unit dealing with very fragile babies – and bosses looking for someone to blame.”

‘Guilty all day long’

However, other readers were in little doubt of Letby’s guilt. 

Jon Bolton asserted: “Guilty all day long. Yes, the stats are questionable, but they were not key to the conviction.”

R. Bernden thought The Telegraph’s investigation was “interesting” but wouldn’t rush to judgment on the basis of this one report. “After all, the trial jury and the Court of Appeal judges did more than read a 2,000-word newspaper article.”

Hans Strand put forward his stance: “Dr Alexander Coward suggests that by showing only the days on which an incident occurred, it is flawed.”

“I suggest otherwise,” he asserted. “If a suspect is the only person present at each and every murder, that’s compelling evidence they are the murderer.

“We’ve been here before, of course, with the media and experts who know a lot about their small specialty but who have no overview of the entirety of the case going off on a wild goose chase.”

Mr Strand reflected on the White House Farm murders. “The media waged a long campaign to free Jeremy Bamber based on the fact that it is possible to chip away at individual bits of evidence and, yes, like Letby (and like most murders), no one actually saw him do it. However, take the evidence in its entirety as the jury did, and Bamber is clearly guilty.

“The same is doubtless the case here. There was a trial, a jury heard all the evidence, a decision was reached and a sentence passed. That’s how criminal justice works. The media should cease stirring things up for cheap drama and clicks.”

John Woods considered Letby’s appearance: “The problem is, we expect our mass murderers, especially of children, to look like monsters. But when they look like an attractive young woman, coupled with an air of vulnerability, we just can’t believe it let alone accept it.”

Reader Anne Halbert believes the legal process came to the correct verdict. She argued: “Looking at the chart on neonatal deaths, they have now reverted to the normal pattern of 0-1/year. Despite all these armchair experts who haven’t had the opportunity to review all the evidence, I believe the legal process came to the correct verdict: guilty.”

Some readers, like Marcus Moseley, are yet to be convinced either way. “I remain neutral,” he says. But viewed the investigation as “persuasive” and “speaking truth to power.”

Marcus Jacobs shared “if I was having a baby, I wouldn’t want to take the chance with having her care”.

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LIVE Trump would ‘reduce intel sharing with Nato’ if he wins election

Donald Trump is considering cutting back intelligence sharing with European Nato members if he wins November’s US presidential election, according to sources on both sides of the Atalntic.

Mr Trump’s advisers reportedly told officials that a reduced flow of intelligence would be part of a broader plan to scale back US support and cooperation with Nato.

The officials spoke to Politco anonymously, raising concerns that the move could impact the ability of Europe and the West to hold back further Russian expansion.

“It’s the American intelligence that helped convince a lot of Nato countries that Putin was resolved to invade Ukraine,” one European official was quoted as saying.

The issue of reduced intelligence sharing is expected to be discussed at the Nato summit in Washington this week.

Joe Biden, the US president, has expanded the amount of intelligence that Washington shares with its partners and allies during his time in office.

A senior Nato official warned in the Politico report that reduced intelligence sharing could lead to an emboldened Russia planning assassinations on European soil, as well as committing acts of “arson and sabotage”.

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