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NSW Police may not be able to stop Black Lives Matter protest in Sydney, despite pandemic

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nsw police may not be able to stop black lives matter protest in sydney despite pandemic

A radio interview may have killed NSW Police’s plans to stop next Tuesday’s Black Matters Lives rally in Sydney from going ahead.

The state’s police boss Mick Fuller vowed to do everything in his power to stop the July 28 rally from legally going ahead when he went on 2GB on Monday morning.

He told breakfast show host Ben Fordham he had already instructed assistant commissioner Mick Willing to take the matter to the Supreme Court.

The police chief added lives would be at risk, and that Victoria had shown how dangerous the protests can be for health with an alarming rise of new coronavirus cases.

In Melbourne, at least six protesters from the June 6 rally have since been diagnosed with coronavirus. 

The commissioner’s tough talking comments have since been described by Supreme Court judge as ‘very concerning’, since the interview occurred three hours before police even met with event convener Paddy Gibson. 

Black Live Matters activists attended Thursday's Supreme Court hearing (pictured) with the court set to decide whether the June 28 protest in Sydney can go ahead

Black Live Matters activists attended Thursday's Supreme Court hearing (pictured) with the court set to decide whether the June 28 protest in Sydney can go ahead

Black Live Matters activists attended Thursday’s Supreme Court hearing (pictured) with the court set to decide whether the June 28 protest in Sydney can go ahead

The activist’s lawyer Felicity Graham argued the police-initiated Supreme Court action was invalid at Thursday’s hearing.

Ms Graham said the law dictated police had to take any matters put by organisers at the meeting ‘into consideration’ before they went to the Supreme Court.

But they claim the radio interview shows police had already made their minds up about the protest. 

Mr Fuller’s comments showed that wasn’t the case, she said.

‘There’s no evidence at all (the commissioner) took into consideration representations made by Mr Gibson in writing or matters raised in the conferral process,’ Ms Graham told the hearing.

‘It’s clear the commissioner formed a view to oppose the holding of the public assembly and made the decision to go to court before even the representations had been received or the conferral process had taken place.’

NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller (pictured on July 8) urged Sydneysiders to pledge their support for the Black Lives Matter movement in alternative forums

NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller (pictured on July 8) urged Sydneysiders to pledge their support for the Black Lives Matter movement in alternative forums

NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller (pictured on July 8) urged Sydneysiders to pledge their support for the Black Lives Matter movement in alternative forums

Justice Ierace said he was ‘very concerned’ by the interview.

‘If it is to be the case that the commissioner said publicly he’d given instructions before the meeting, (then) on its face, that would be very concerning,’ he said.

NSW Police say Mr Fuller delegated responsibility to Assistant Commissioner Stacey Maloney, who made the decision to go to court after the conference.

She is due to give evidence when the hearing resumes on Friday morning.

‘At that time (of the interview), the commissioner wasn’t exercising a function under the Act in any event,’ said Michael Spartalis for NSW Police.  

Justice Ierace will decide on Friday whether the July 28 rally can go ahead amid a growing coronavirus outbreak in parts of Sydney.

NSW has suffered double-digit cases of coronavirus almost every day since July 13 after a freight worker from Melbourne spread the disease at a pub in south-west Sydney.

At least 4,000 protesters are expected to attend a Black Matters Lives rally in Sydney next Tuesday (pictured, the last rally on July 16 in the Harbour City)

At least 4,000 protesters are expected to attend a Black Matters Lives rally in Sydney next Tuesday (pictured, the last rally on July 16 in the Harbour City)

At least 4,000 protesters are expected to attend a Black Matters Lives rally in Sydney next Tuesday (pictured, the last rally on July 16 in the Harbour City)

If the protest is declared illegal, police will have the powers to move on or arrest demonstrators blocking roads and issue $1000 fines to those breaching restrictions.

At least 4,000 protesters are expected to attend the July 28 rally being organised for the family of David Dungay Jr, 26, who died in custody at Sydney’s Long Bay Jail in December 2015 after he was forcibly removed from his prison cell.

Five guards were later cleared by the NSW Coroner of any wrongdoing.  

Mr Dungay’s family still plan to attend on Tuesday, even if the rally is declared illegal. 

‘No matter what a court says, at the end of the day this is Aboriginal land and nothing should be able to stop us from protesting,’ his nephew Paul Silva told The Daily Telegraph.

‘The whole world has seen video footage of him being held down and begging for his life continuously.’

‘Me and my family have fought for the last five years.’  

A Supreme Court will decide whether Tuesday's rally in Sydney can go ahead (pictured, a previous Black Lives Matter rally in The Domain on July 5)

A Supreme Court will decide whether Tuesday's rally in Sydney can go ahead (pictured, a previous Black Lives Matter rally in The Domain on July 5)

A Supreme Court will decide whether Tuesday’s rally in Sydney can go ahead (pictured, a previous Black Lives Matter rally in The Domain on July 5)

Prime Minister Scott Morrison believe there should be no ‘special rule’ or ‘ticket’ for protests to breach the coronavirus restrictions on gatherings.

‘My response to that, as an Aboriginal person and a family member of an Aboriginal person killed in custody, is the special rule and ticket not to obey the law goes to police and Corrective Services in Australia,’ he told 2GB on Wednesday. 

Former prime minister Tony Abbott also slammed the rally, describing the Black Lives Matter protesters as ‘copycats’.

He claimed marches are ‘out of place’ in Australia after the movement swept over from the United states in the wake of George Floyd ‘s death.

‘I don’t like the copycat culture to start with but I particularly think that it’s out of place here,’ said on a podcast with Institute of Public Affairs John Roskam. 

‘I say to everyone unhappy with Australia, what country would you rather live in? Anyone who thinks that we are in some way racist, sexist, whatever, what country is better?’

‘And the truth is it’s almost impossible to identify one.’

More than 4,000 protesters are expected to attend next week's rally in Sydney, sparking fears a second wave of coronavirus cases will worsen (pictured, the June 6 protest in Sydney)

More than 4,000 protesters are expected to attend next week's rally in Sydney, sparking fears a second wave of coronavirus cases will worsen (pictured, the June 6 protest in Sydney)

More than 4,000 protesters are expected to attend next week’s rally in Sydney, sparking fears a second wave of coronavirus cases will worsen (pictured, the June 6 protest in Sydney)

Mr Gibson said it was ‘critical’ the rally went ahead next Tuesday, while the world was ‘finally listening’ to the concerns of black voices.

He said the risk posed by the protest was no more than the risk hundreds of people had taken in recent weeks by visiting the beach, packed markets or shopping centres. 

‘I do understand people would be concerned. I was at the markets on the weekend where hundreds, if not thousands, of people went through the markets,’ Mr Gibson told the Today Show earlier this week.

Since the start of June, NSW Police has gone to the Supreme Court four times to seek an order prohibiting the holding of a public assembly.

The first, a major rally in Sydney, lost its ‘authorised’ status then won a last-minute reprieve in the Court of Appeal on a technicality.

A Wollongong rally in mid-June was banned over the health risks while a Newcastle rally in early July was permitted after a judge ruled health risks were low.

The hearing heard that Commissioner Fuller went on radio to say he'd had already instructed assistant commissioner Mick Willing to take the matter to the Supreme Court, three hours before police due to meet with event convener Paddy Gibson (pictured left). He pictured with Paul Silva, the nephew of David Dungay Jnr

The hearing heard that Commissioner Fuller went on radio to say he'd had already instructed assistant commissioner Mick Willing to take the matter to the Supreme Court, three hours before police due to meet with event convener Paddy Gibson (pictured left). He pictured with Paul Silva, the nephew of David Dungay Jnr

The hearing heard that Commissioner Fuller went on radio to say he’d had already instructed assistant commissioner Mick Willing to take the matter to the Supreme Court, three hours before police due to meet with event convener Paddy Gibson (pictured left). He pictured with Paul Silva, the nephew of David Dungay Jnr

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War veteran charged with stealing from border wall campaign says claims are ‘politically motivated’

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war veteran charged with stealing from border wall campaign says claims are politically motivated

The triple amputee Iraq veteran accused of stealing from the We Build The Wall campaign along with Steve Bannon and two others, has claimed the charges leveled against him are part of a ‘politically motivated’ scheme targeting Trump associates. 

Brian Kolfage, 38, is charged with stealing $350,000 from the multimillion-dollar GoFundMe account he set up in support of President Trump‘s wall initiative in 2018.

Federal prosecutors last month alleged the Purple Heart had siphoned some of the money to fund his and his wife’s lavish lifestyle and had spent it on boats, an SUV, plastic surgery, jewelry, home renovations and credit card debt.  

Kolfage on Saturday spoke out against the indictment in his first interview since his arrest, accusing federal prosecutors in Manhattan of fabricating the allegations as part of a political witch hunt. 

Brian Kolfage, 38, and his wife Ashley, 33, are accused of being the main beneficiaries of the fraudulent scheme, according to prosecutors. The pair live in Miramar Beach on Florida's panhandle. They are pictured on their boat

Brian Kolfage, 38, and his wife Ashley, 33, are accused of being the main beneficiaries of the fraudulent scheme, according to prosecutors. The pair live in Miramar Beach on Florida's panhandle. They are pictured on their boat

Brian Kolfage, 38, and his wife Ashley, 33, are accused of being the main beneficiaries of the fraudulent scheme, according to prosecutors. The pair live in Miramar Beach on Florida’s panhandle. They are pictured on their boat

The triple amputee Iraq veteran (pictured in New Mexico last year) has been charged with stealing $350,000 from the multimillion-dollar GoFundMe account he set up in support of President Trump's wall initiative in 2018

The triple amputee Iraq veteran (pictured in New Mexico last year) has been charged with stealing $350,000 from the multimillion-dollar GoFundMe account he set up in support of President Trump's wall initiative in 2018

The triple amputee Iraq veteran (pictured in New Mexico last year) has been charged with stealing $350,000 from the multimillion-dollar GoFundMe account he set up in support of President Trump’s wall initiative in 2018

Kolfage launched the private wall effort in December 2018. He took it off GoFundMe recently because, he claimed, the company was not allowing him to fundraise for victims of assaults by BLM protesters

Kolfage launched the private wall effort in December 2018. He took it off GoFundMe recently because, he claimed, the company was not allowing him to fundraise for victims of assaults by BLM protesters

Kolfage launched the private wall effort in December 2018. He took it off GoFundMe recently because, he claimed, the company was not allowing him to fundraise for victims of assaults by BLM protesters

‘They made it up. It’s so blatantly false. If they can do this to us they can do it to anybody,’ he told the New York Post by phone. 

‘Everyone knows that the Southern District is really the sovereign district. They do their own things. They went after Rudy Giuliani. They do what they want to do and it’s politically motivated.’

Kolfage’s comments appeared to echo those of alleged accomplice Steve Bannon, who last month blasted his prosecution as a ‘political hit job’.

The former Trump advisor claimed the allegations were an attempt ‘to stop and intimidate people that want to talk about the wall.’

The GoFundMe initiative had raised $27million after it was backed by Republican donors in support of the border wall. 

Prosecutors however, say Kolfage, Bannon, Timothy Shea and Andrew Badolato allegedly used shell companies and a not-for-profit formed by Bannon to launder the money back to Kolfage and keep some for themselves.

Bannon and Kolfage are pictured in a video on the We Build The Wall website

Bannon and Kolfage are pictured in a video on the We Build The Wall website

Bannon and Kolfage are pictured in a video on the We Build The Wall website 

Former Trump advisor Steve Bannon leaves U.S. District Court - Southern District of New York located at 500 Pearl Street in New York City after he was arraigned for alleged scheme to defraud the non-profit on August 20, 2020. Three other men, Brian Kolfage, Andrew Badolato and Timothy Shea, were also arrested in this alleged scheme to defraud the non-profit, which authorities said raised more than $25 million

Former Trump advisor Steve Bannon leaves U.S. District Court - Southern District of New York located at 500 Pearl Street in New York City after he was arraigned for alleged scheme to defraud the non-profit on August 20, 2020. Three other men, Brian Kolfage, Andrew Badolato and Timothy Shea, were also arrested in this alleged scheme to defraud the non-profit, which authorities said raised more than $25 million

Former Trump advisor Steve Bannon leaves U.S. District Court – Southern District of New York located at 500 Pearl Street in New York City after he was arraigned for alleged scheme to defraud the non-profit on August 20, 2020. Three other men, Brian Kolfage, Andrew Badolato and Timothy Shea, were also arrested in this alleged scheme to defraud the non-profit, which authorities said raised more than $25 million

Bannon was arrested and later released after putting up $5million bail, secured by $1.75million in assets. 

In his interview with the Post, Kolfage also denied that his wife Ashley had received money from the scheme and claimed he is able to support his ‘good middle class family’ from the payouts he receives from the Department of Veteran Affairs. 

‘I’m not living a lavish life by any freaking means,’ he said. ‘Thank God I have a house that was given to me by the Gary Sinise Foundation.’ 

Kolfage with former President George Bush. He lost an arm and both his legs in 2004 in Iraq

Kolfage with former President George Bush. He lost an arm and both his legs in 2004 in Iraq

After returning from the war, Kolfage married Ashley - a former Chilli's waitress. They lived quietly until Trump's political victory, when they then became vocal supporters. The pair are shown with Eric Trump

After returning from the war, Kolfage married Ashley - a former Chilli's waitress. They lived quietly until Trump's political victory, when they then became vocal supporters. The pair are shown with Eric Trump

Kolfage with former President George Bush. He lost an arm and both his legs in 2004 in Iraq. After returning from the war, Kolfage married Ashley – a former Chilli’s waitress. They lived quietly until Trump’s political victory, when they then became vocal supporters. The pair are shown with Eric Trump (right) last February

Prior to the scandal, Kolfage had been hailed as a decorated war hero after he was nearly killed and lost an arm and both his legs in a rocket attack in Iraq on September 11, 2004.

Initially, Kolfage was celebrated by members of both parties.

In March, he told Reuters he had begun accepting $10,000 a month in salary from the wall organization, saying the amount was modest compared to salaries paid by other nonprofits of that size.

Actually, according to the indictment, he had received a one-time payment of $100,000 as early as February 2019, plus $20,000 a month routed through a Bannon nonprofit and corporations that were supposedly working on the wall project.

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BEN BRADLEY: Why I refuse to take part in ‘re-education’ that tells ordinary people they are racists

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ben bradley why i refuse to take part in re education that tells ordinary people they are racists
Ben Bradley (above), Conservative MP for Mansfield, has made it clear he will not be taking part in any 'Unconscious Bias' training

Ben Bradley (above), Conservative MP for Mansfield, has made it clear he will not be taking part in any 'Unconscious Bias' training

Ben Bradley (above), Conservative MP for Mansfield, has made it clear he will not be taking part in any ‘Unconscious Bias’ training

Imagine being called in to the boss’s office tomorrow morning, a bit nervous and unsure what it is you’ve done wrong, and being told you’ve been reported by a colleague.

You’ve been caught saying that you disagree with the idea that Black Lives Matter is helping to deal with racism, that in fact you don’t believe Britain is a racist country. And now you’re to be ‘re-educated’. You’re going on a course…

It sounds like something from Orwell’s 1984, yet hundreds of thousands if not millions of people in workplaces around the UK have been ordered to attend special training sessions of this sort.

Many push a ‘Critical Race Theory’ ideology that suggests that – whether you know it or not – your views are tightly defined by your age, gender and skin colour. And these courses are run by ‘educators’ who want you to recognise and ‘check’ your privilege, and to understand just how little you really know.

Now imagine your company is paying £1.4 million for this training. In fact, you work in the public sector, so it’s £1.4 million of taxpayers’ cash.

In the coming months all of us as Members of Parliament will be asked to undertake this Unconscious Bias training, which is the second phase of our re-education following a summer of ‘Valuing Everybody’ lessons ordered by the parliamentary authorities.

The Mail on Sunday revealed a few weeks ago that the company that has been recruited to run these Unconscious Bias lessons uses a blue puppet called 'UB', who looks like the Cookie Monster (file image, above), in their training sessions, which makes me think of it as some kind of primary school assembly

The Mail on Sunday revealed a few weeks ago that the company that has been recruited to run these Unconscious Bias lessons uses a blue puppet called 'UB', who looks like the Cookie Monster (file image, above), in their training sessions, which makes me think of it as some kind of primary school assembly

The Mail on Sunday revealed a few weeks ago that the company that has been recruited to run these Unconscious Bias lessons uses a blue puppet called ‘UB’, who looks like the Cookie Monster (file image, above), in their training sessions, which makes me think of it as some kind of primary school assembly

The first part – which I did attend – turned out to be a £750,000, two-hour journey around the benefits of not being horrible to your staff. Personally, I think I’m quite nice to my team in the office.

I’m also sure that if I wasn’t, those two hours would not have made the blindest bit of difference.

I’m fortunate, I suppose, that due to Covid-19 the session was held via Zoom rather than having to decamp to an office somewhere, though I don’t suppose that the reduced workload has reduced the cost at all! It was still a very expensive chat.

The Mail on Sunday revealed a few weeks ago that the company that has been recruited to run these lessons uses a blue puppet called ‘UB’, who looks like the Cookie Monster, in their training sessions, which makes me think of it as some kind of primary school assembly.

The puppet, whose name stands for Unconscious Bias, ‘helps’ to explain to the class how words like ‘lady’ and ‘pensioner’ should be avoided in case they cause offence. Now this company has been given another £7,000 seedcorn money to help plan the delivery of sessions for MPs and parliamentary staff.

I hope they can agree that at least the primary school puppet will not be necessary!

Did every single Premier League footballer really support Black Lives Matter, an organisation that campaigns to defund the police and smash capitalism? To my knowledge, every single one of them 'took the knee'

Did every single Premier League footballer really support Black Lives Matter, an organisation that campaigns to defund the police and smash capitalism? To my knowledge, every single one of them 'took the knee'

Did every single Premier League footballer really support Black Lives Matter, an organisation that campaigns to defund the police and smash capitalism? To my knowledge, every single one of them ‘took the knee’

I spoke out last week and made clear that I won’t be taking this training. It seems totally nonsensical to me that, in my role as a representative of a community that has typically felt left behind and voiceless for many years, I should be advised that there are certain words I shouldn’t use; certain issues that I should avoid; certain sensibilities that I should not offend.

How am I to raise the true feelings of an electorate that broadly feels like it’s being preached at by a metropolitan elite who neither understand nor care about them, if I have to walk on eggshells and dance around the problem?

In an environment where Leave voters have been labelled thick and racist for holding a view on uncontrolled mass immigration, despite proving many times that they are a majority in this country, which institutions or trainers down here in Westminster are qualified to tell me which views on the subject might be right or wrong?

Who has the right to say that those views are a result of ‘unconscious biases’, of white privilege, or of lack of understanding? The answer is nobody. There is no science to back this up, and nobody has that right. We live in a free country, with free speech and freedom of expression. We used to also have a robust and resilient approach to an argument that didn’t involve silencing everyone you disagree with.

Yet, here I am in 21st Century Britain reading a document from Challenge Consultancy, the company tasked with putting this training programme together. They offer to ‘work with the Cultural Transformation Team’ to deliver ‘Cultural Competency’ training – yes we are culturally incompetent now. I’m intrigued by the offer to help me to use ‘appropriate terminology’ and to ‘demonstrate ally behaviour’.

Given that this will be delivered in the same format as the first phase of this patronising rubbish, I think it’s reasonable to assume that this will similarly be costing more than half a million quid from the public purse.

Despite what these trainers may say, we are not defined by our physical characteristics. We do not have one homogenous view because of the colour of our skin. It’s nonsense. Our views are formed by countless different factors; from our lived experiences, our backgrounds and from the communities we grew up in, but we are individuals. We are not defined by others. We are free to define ourselves.

Time after time the documents explain that ‘the BAME community thinks x’ and ‘the BAME community is calling for y’, as if the entire black and minority ethnic community speaks with one voice on this, or on any issue. It strikes me as presumptuous and arrogant.

Who is qualified to police our language, or to say which views are right and wrong? Who polices those police, and makes sure that they aren’t pushing unconscious biases of their own? What is being done to ensure that the people who choose careers in delivering Unconscious Bias Training don’t choose that profession because they actually have their own agenda to push?

It was pointed out to me last week that, as an MP, I am in a fortunate position. Only my constituents can remove me from office.

The House of Commons can’t do a great deal to punish me if I don’t take the course. Yet outside Westminster, the reality is that most employees have no such independence and no power to refuse.

No wonder so many ordinary people are scared to voice dissent.

Did every single Premier League footballer really support Black Lives Matter, an organisation that campaigns to defund the police and smash capitalism? To my knowledge, every single one of them ‘took the knee’.

What would have been the consequences for the one who said no? I can’t imagine it would have been career enhancing. Societal pressure forces us to go along with things we disagree with, and that is not right or healthy for anyone.

With that in mind, I feel people like me have a responsibility to say something, and to do something.

I know that my concern is shared by millions of people around the UK from a variety of backgrounds – but particularly among constituents like mine who, for the most part, have not shared in the wealth generated by the booming economy in the South East.

I think Brexit is a symptom of this same divide too, and of the ‘left behind’ people and places who feel like they are being looked down upon by a detached metropolitan elite determined to police the way they think and talk. There is yawning chasm between our institutions and millions of the people that they are meant to work for.

Since I raised this, earlier last week, I’ve lost count of the number of colleagues who have offered their support – and have also promised to say no to the training. I’ve been stopped by Commons staff too who thanked me for speaking out against this ‘total nonsense’.

It’s sparked more interest than I could have predicted, and for that I am grateful.

Once again I call on colleagues in the privileged position of being able to speak out and to take a stand against this Leftist infiltration of our institutions, to do exactly that and put a stop to forced ‘re-education’ once and for all.

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ALEXANDRA SHULMAN: How a brazen fox wrecked my holiday… and my skin

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alexandra shulman how a brazen fox wrecked my holiday and my skin

I should have been basking in the soft September sun of the Adriatic last week but I wasn’t. Instead I was tearing my skin off at home in West London because of a close encounter with a fox.

It was a sunny afternoon so the garden doors were wide open, and when I saw the upturned composting caddy (demanded by our council), I assumed it was a local cat and thought little of it.

Coronavirus has turned the long-established feline territorial balance of power on its head and over the past months new cats have invaded our garden, previously lorded over by our cat Coco and her next-door neighbour Pumpkin. Coco is far too fastidious to rummage round anyone’s leftovers.

An hour later, I opened the door of the sitting room intending, somewhat guiltily in the middle of the afternoon, to sneak in a quick fix of Fauda, the Israeli drama that’s my current TV go-to, and discovered, curled up on the sofa where I usually sit, a bony fox.

I should have been basking in the soft September sun of the Adriatic last week but I wasn’t. Instead I was tearing my skin off at home in West London because of a close encounter with a fox, writes Alexandra Shulman (pictured)

I should have been basking in the soft September sun of the Adriatic last week but I wasn’t. Instead I was tearing my skin off at home in West London because of a close encounter with a fox, writes Alexandra Shulman (pictured)

I should have been basking in the soft September sun of the Adriatic last week but I wasn’t. Instead I was tearing my skin off at home in West London because of a close encounter with a fox, writes Alexandra Shulman (pictured)

As cosy as you like, as if it too were settling down for a Netflix box set.

Despite my shriek, it showed no inclination to move and was only shooed out with some difficulty by David, my boyfriend, dragged away from his computer to help deal with the situation.

Even after it finally vacated the sofa, it didn’t want to leave and wandered around the room on spindly legs while David tussled with window locks to open up a space large enough for it to slip out.

And here’s the dumb thing. Instead of getting out the vacuum cleaner and disinfectant and shoving the sofa covers in the washing machine, I sat down exactly where the fox had been, ignoring the few tufts of its hair, to watch my programme. 

When the itching began on my bottom all of four minutes later, I put it down to my catastrophising nature.

I opened the door of the sitting room intending, somewhat guiltily in the middle of the afternoon, to sneak in a quick fix of Fauda, the Israeli drama that’s my current TV go-to, and discovered, curled up on the sofa where I usually sit, a bony fox. (File image)

I opened the door of the sitting room intending, somewhat guiltily in the middle of the afternoon, to sneak in a quick fix of Fauda, the Israeli drama that’s my current TV go-to, and discovered, curled up on the sofa where I usually sit, a bony fox. (File image)

I opened the door of the sitting room intending, somewhat guiltily in the middle of the afternoon, to sneak in a quick fix of Fauda, the Israeli drama that’s my current TV go-to, and discovered, curled up on the sofa where I usually sit, a bony fox. (File image)

I sat down exactly where the fox had been, ignoring the few tufts of its hair, to watch my programme. When the itching began on my bottom all of four minutes later, I put it down to my catastrophising nature.  By the time I got to see my GP and said I was planning to go to Croatia (file image) the next day, we agreed it was probably best to postpone it for 48 hours

I sat down exactly where the fox had been, ignoring the few tufts of its hair, to watch my programme. When the itching began on my bottom all of four minutes later, I put it down to my catastrophising nature.  By the time I got to see my GP and said I was planning to go to Croatia (file image) the next day, we agreed it was probably best to postpone it for 48 hours

I sat down exactly where the fox had been, ignoring the few tufts of its hair, to watch my programme. When the itching began on my bottom all of four minutes later, I put it down to my catastrophising nature.  By the time I got to see my GP and said I was planning to go to Croatia (file image) the next day, we agreed it was probably best to postpone it for 48 hours

What nonsense, I thought. Of course you can’t be catching something this quickly from a bug or flea or heavens knows what on the sofa. You’re wearing thick cotton trousers. Do stop imagining problems.

The itching grew more persistent, but not unbearable, and after two episodes of Fauda, watching the Palestinians and Israelis blow each other up, I gave the sofa a quick clean and left the room. I could see nothing on my skin but it certainly didn’t feel right.

By the next morning I was convinced I had an allergic reaction to the fox hair. The usual arsenal of anti-histamines I keep to deal with insect bites were not doing anything. I started to Google to find where I might get a cortisone shot that in my self-diagnosis I felt might help.

But it was Saturday. Everywhere, including GP surgeries, was closed. Desperate for advice, I headed to our local A&E, which I discovered had been shut since April, so rushed to the next nearest at St Mary’s in Paddington, which was gratifyingly empty. 

Since most people are avoiding inessential hospital visits, I was treated almost instantly and sent home with steroid tablets. The nurse didn’t seem particularly interested in the story about the fox.

Over the next two days, the rash darkened into a deep purple and started to spread. Small hives began popping up on my torso, arms, back and legs and the original seat (literally) of the problem, but looked like nothing I had ever seen before. Maybe the bubonic plague.

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Sasha Swire’s hugely entertaining diaries of a Westminster Wag have made a mockery of everyone she came across. Cannily, she waited to publish Diary Of An MP’s Wife until her husband Hugo had got his knighthood in David Cameron’s resignation honours. I wonder what their close friend Dave – the target of many of the book’s most unflattering passages – thinks about that now?

London Fashion Week is currently taking place, though you wouldn’t know it. Like all live events, it has gone undercover: no big catwalk shows and parties. I’m not missing attending them myself – after 25 years at Vogue, I’ve had my fill – but I do miss looking at the glamorous goings-on, which would offer a much-needed antidote to the endless dire stories about the pandemic.

Can we still have Indian summers?

I would describe these wonderful September days as an Indian summer. But is that term now thought of as cultural appropriation, either as commonly assumed, coming from the bad old colonial days of the Raj, or, as I’ve discovered more likely, from the ousting of Native American Indians from their homes on the East Coast? Does anyone know?

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By the time I got to see my GP two days later (loyally, as my doctor of 40 years, he squeezed me into a crammed diary), I was deeply unhappy. I hadn’t slept for four nights – I was tearing my skin off. 

Maybe I was imagining this but it felt as if my stomach was swelling up, and my face had gone puffy.

I told the GP I was planning to go to Croatia the next day and we agreed it was probably best to postpone it for 48 hours. 

He thought it might be animal urine that had caused the problem and sent me off with more pills – and the observation that my infected skin should be featured in a text book.

The next day, as things worsened, he was clearly even more concerned and fixed me up with a dermatologist for a second opinion. 

Walking into the specialist’s office was like I imagine it would feel seeing land after a shipwreck. A port in the storm. Safety. Somebody who would know what was going on. He peered for some time and said the rash was not one he’d ever seen before and prescribed antibiotics.

On the way home, I talked to my ex-husband about my affliction and he said it sounded like scabies and did I have anything on my fingers? I snapped that my fingers were one of the few parts of my body unaffected and that nobody had mentioned scabies.

A week later and the second visit to the dermatologist proved my ex right. Finally I know I have been inhabited by sarcoptes scabiei canus – parasitic itch mites that burrow into the skin and cause scabies. 

I even have some of some pictures of the blighters. Nasty, fat, leggy little things. Fox scabies, for heaven’s sake!

Not usually transferred to humans and fortunately less contagious than the human version.

There have been foxes running around our street for years. Urban foxes are a plague in the city, particularly if, like us, you live near railway lines.

They howl like tortured babies in the dark of the night and leave torn-up rubbish bags strewn across the pavement. They stroll around nonchalantly, unperturbed by humans or cars.

Earlier in the summer we saw one snoozing happily in the ivy on the garden wall. Until now I had thought them unpleasant, although relatively harmless. But I know people who think they are part of a precious eco-system – and even feed them from time to time, like pets. These people are clearly insane.

And if you Google fox scabies, the first things to come up are websites urging us to care for foxes with mange (another name for it) as if they were poorly toddlers.

I talked to my ex-husband about my affliction and he said it sounded like scabies and did I have anything on my fingers? I snapped that my fingers were one of the few parts of my body unaffected and that nobody had mentioned scabies (file image). A week later and the second visit to the dermatologist proved my ex right

I talked to my ex-husband about my affliction and he said it sounded like scabies and did I have anything on my fingers? I snapped that my fingers were one of the few parts of my body unaffected and that nobody had mentioned scabies (file image). A week later and the second visit to the dermatologist proved my ex right

I talked to my ex-husband about my affliction and he said it sounded like scabies and did I have anything on my fingers? I snapped that my fingers were one of the few parts of my body unaffected and that nobody had mentioned scabies (file image). A week later and the second visit to the dermatologist proved my ex right

A neighbour who found one collapsed on a pile of rubbish bags outside the house called the RSPCA to ask for advice about what to do.

Their officers arrived immediately, cradled the sick fox in their arms to remove it and said she should cherish them as they kept the rats at bay.

I will be doing no such thing. Now, nearly two weeks on, my skin is still covered in prickly hives and I’m still counting the cost of my vulpine encounter. I have slept drenched in lice cream. 

I am now hugely familiar with 3am talk radio hosts. Everything I have worn or touched has had to be washed or dry-cleaned and the house has been steam-cleaned. The holiday cancelled.

I dread a fox coming near me again. There are so many in this neighbourhood that fox exterminators aren’t really an answer, and as for taking matters into my own hands, the idea of a poisoned fox among the dahlias is too horrible.

The other day somebody told us that male urine is a fox deterrent and that David should regularly pee in the garden to keep them at bay.

It might be worth giving a go. Frankly, anything is.

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