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Iran jails ‘British spy’: Shahram Shirkhani former business associate of Tessa Jowell’s husband

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iran jails british spy shahram shirkhani former business associate of tessa jowells husband

The former business associate of Tessa Jowell’s husband has been sentenced by an Iranian court to ten years in prison on espionage charges.

Shahram Shirkhani spied for British intelligence services and allegedly passed on ‘sensitive information’, judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili said.

He is the former business associate of David Mills, The Times reported, the late husband of Baronness Jowell who died from a brain tumour in 2018.

Shirkhani, an Iranian-British lawyer, had been seeking to ‘corrupt authorities and recruit’ people for MI6, Esmaili added.

Shirkhani had also sought to give away information on ‘contracts related to the central bank, Melli Bank and the defence ministry’, the spokesman said.

Shahram Shirkhani spied for British intelligence services and tried to recruit Iranian officials for MI6, judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili (pictured) said

Shahram Shirkhani spied for British intelligence services and tried to recruit Iranian officials for MI6, judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili (pictured) said

Shahram Shirkhani spied for British intelligence services and tried to recruit Iranian officials for MI6, judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili (pictured) said

Mr Shirkhani, a founding partner at a Tehran law firm, was teaching in the faculty of law at Islamic Azad University when he was arrested, The Times said. 

Another man was also sentenced to 10 years behind bars in a separate case.

Masoud Mosaheb, who was co-secretary of the Iran-Austria Friendship Society, was handed the jail term. 

He was convicted of spying for Israel’s Mossad and the German intelligence services, the spokesman said, in ‘the guise’ of the general secretary of the Austrian-Iranian Society.

Mossaheb was found to have been providing them with information on Iran’s ‘missile, nuclear, nanotechnology and medical fields’, he added. 

Tessa Jowell is pictured with David Mills after she was presented with her Dame Commander insignia at Buckingham Palace on on January 25, 2013

Tessa Jowell is pictured with David Mills after she was presented with her Dame Commander insignia at Buckingham Palace on on January 25, 2013

Tessa Jowell is pictured with David Mills after she was presented with her Dame Commander insignia at Buckingham Palace on on January 25, 2013

Austria called in mid-2019 for the release of Mossaheb, who was then 72 years old. 

According to Austria’s Der Standard newspaper, Mossaheb had travelled to Iran to accompany a delegation from an Austrian research centre which had opened a subsidiary near Tehran.

After his detention in January 2019, his family had no contact with him for weeks before eventually learning that he was being held in Tehran’s Evin prison.

The Austrian-Iranian Society says its aim is to foster closer ties between the two countries, particularly in the economic sphere.

Esmaili also said five more people had been arrested recently for alleged espionage in the foreign, defence and industries ministries, companies working in the energy industry, and Iran’s atomic agency.

He did not give their identities or elaborate on their charges, but Iran is known for arresting and convicting those accused of spying on behalf of foreign countries, including the US and Israel.

MI6 is the foreign intelligence service of the United Kingdom government and is tasked with overseas collection and analysis of human intelligence to support national security

MI6 is the foreign intelligence service of the United Kingdom government and is tasked with overseas collection and analysis of human intelligence to support national security

MI6 is the foreign intelligence service of the United Kingdom government and is tasked with overseas collection and analysis of human intelligence to support national security

In July, Iran executed Reza Asgari, a former defense ministry employee convicted of spying on behalf of the Central Intelligence Agency. 

Mahmoud Mousavi Majd, a member of the Revolutionary Guard, was also executed last month. 

He was convicted of providing information to the US and Israel about top Guard general Qassem Soleiman.  

A court found him guilty of receiving large amounts of money from the CIA and Mossad to supply information on the Quds force, Soleimani headed, including the whereabouts of its commander.

However, Majd was not directly involved in the killing of Soleimani at Baghdad airport on January 3, having been arrested two years ago. 

Soleimani was killed in a US drone strike moments after he arrived in Iraq amid fears he was about to orchestrate attacks on the US embassy. 

The move brought Iran and the US to the brink of war, and in the end Tehran retaliated by firing a volley of ballistic missiles at US troops stationed in Iraq. 

Mahmoud Mousavi Majd

Mahmoud Mousavi Majd

Qassem Soleimani

Qassem Soleimani

Mahmoud Mousavi Majd (left), a translator who worked with Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, has been executed for helping the US carry out the raid which killed Qassem Soleimani (right)

In June this year, Iran hanged Jalal Hajizavar, also a former staffer of the defense ministry, after he had admitted in court he was paid to spy for the CIA.  

Tehran announced in December it had arrested eight people ‘linked to the CIA’ and involved in nationwide street protests that erupted the previous month over a surprise petrol price hike.

It also said in July 2019 that it had dismantled a CIA spy ring, arrested 17 suspects between March 2018 and March 2019 and sentenced some of them to death.

Trump at the time dismissed the claim as ‘totally false’.  

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Labour council leader calls for ‘immediate’ London lockdown and ban on visiting friends and families

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labour council leader calls for immediate london lockdown and ban on visiting friends and families

A Labour council leader today called for an immediate London lockdown which would include a ban on visiting friends and families. 

Jas Athwal, the leader of Redbridge Borough Council, made the plea after it was revealed that his borough and four others in east London saw a spike in cases last week which led to the capital being placed on the Government’s Covid watchlist.

It comes just two days after London Mayor Sadiq Khan urged the Prime Minister to outlaw house visits for nine million people in London as part of lockdown measures to tackle rising Covid-19 infections.

London was last week placed on the national lockdown watchlist due to a spike in coronavirus cases and hospital admissions, with Government advisors warning the capital’s R rate may now be as high as 1.5.

Jas Athwal, the Labour leader of Redbridge Borough Council, today called for an immediate London lockdown which would include a ban on visiting friends and families

Jas Athwal, the Labour leader of Redbridge Borough Council, today called for an immediate London lockdown which would include a ban on visiting friends and families

Jas Athwal, the Labour leader of Redbridge Borough Council, today called for an immediate London lockdown which would include a ban on visiting friends and families

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This is the same level seen in the North West, North East and the Midlands, which have all been stung by additional Covid-19 measures.  

Mr Athwal, 57, said that Redbridge had the most overcrowded houses in London and its town of Ilford saw most of the new coronavirus cases. 

He added that the picture in his borough could be much worse than imagined because of a ’44 per cent drop in testing capacity’ due to national laboratories not being able to cope with the number of tests they’re receiving.  

While speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme the Labour leader said: ‘We’ve got to start looking at what everybody else is doing – should we be allowing different households to mix? 

‘Quite clearly I think in overcrowded parts of London we’ve got to look at bringing that in so that different households can’t mix and we should be able to do this at the time of a national emergency.’

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Sadiq Khan has urged the Prime Minister to outlaw house visits for nine million people in London as part of lockdown measures to tackle rising Covid-19 infections

Sadiq Khan has urged the Prime Minister to outlaw house visits for nine million people in London as part of lockdown measures to tackle rising Covid-19 infections

Sadiq Khan has urged the Prime Minister to outlaw house visits for nine million people in London as part of lockdown measures to tackle rising Covid-19 infections

He added that meeting face to face should be stopped ‘immediately’. 

‘We should be able to speak on Zoom or social media but certainly mixing face to face should be stopped immediately because there are problems and we’re seeing the pandemic take hold and it’s only going to get worse with the flu season coming into play as well,’ he said. 

While the BBC has reported that Redbridge had 68 cases per 100,000 people over the last week, Mr Athwal believes the figure was 58.6.  

Mr Athwal also warned of a 44 per cent fall in testing in London between August and September and how that could mask the severity of soaring infections. 

Britain's coronavirus R rate could now be as high as 1.5, government scientific advisers warned on Friday after rises in all regions of the country

Britain's coronavirus R rate could now be as high as 1.5, government scientific advisers warned on Friday after rises in all regions of the country

Britain’s coronavirus R rate could now be as high as 1.5, government scientific advisers warned on Friday after rises in all regions of the country

He said: ‘A testing centre in the heart of Ilford was testing 700 to 800 people a day and it’s one of the biggest centres in London. 

‘However recently it’s only been testing 100 to 150 people per day because of capacity issues at the national laboratory so what we’re seeing is the numbers go down and of course if you’re losing that kind of capacity the figures are going to be distorted and they’re probably going to be a lot worse than what we’re being shown across the whole of London.’

WHAT AREAS ARE ON THE MOST RECENT WATCHLIST? 

The most recent watchlist, published last Friday, included:

INTERVENTION (number of infections recorded up to September 15 for every 100,000 people living there)

BOLTON – 212.7

BLACKBURN WITH DARWEN – 122.9

OADBY AND WIGSTON – 119.2

HYNDBURN – 117.6

PRESTON – 105.1

WARRINGTON – 105.0

TAMESIDE – 103.5

SUNDERLAND – 103.1

OLDHAM – 98.9

BIRMINGHAM – 98.0

BRADFORD – 97.5

LIVERPOOL – 95.8

WIRRAL – 95.6

BURNLEY – 93.8

KNOWSLEY – 92.9

ST HELENS – 91.6

BURY – 90.5

SALFORD – 88.8

LEICESTER – 86.7

SOUTH TYNESIDE – 86.5

ROCHDALE – 84.1

MANCHESTER – 83.6

GATESHEAD – 77.5

SOLIHULL – 77.2

SANDWELL – 72.1

NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE – 69.6

PENDLE – 61.3

HALTON – 60.7

KIRKLEES – 60.4

WOLVERHAMPTON – 60.3

CALDERDALE – 59.5

ROSSENDALE – 57.8

SOUTH RIBBLE – 52.5

SEFTON – 49.0

NORTH TYNESIDE – 48.5

WEST LANCASHIRE – 47.4

COUNTY DURHAM – 46.7

TRAFFORD – 45.7

CHORLEY – 35.1

WYRE – 34.2

FYLDE – 28.8

NORTHUMBERLAND – 24.7

LANCASTER – 22.9

RIBBLE VALLEY – 18.3

ENHANCED SUPPORT 

LEEDS – 75.5

BLABY – 65.7

STOCKPORT – 48.7

CONCERN 

SELBY – 65.1

HARTLEPOOL – 55.8

SHEFFIELD – 53.7

SPELTHORNE – 53.4

CORBY – 50.8

MIDDLESBROUGH – 47.0

NORTHAMPTON – 42.6

SCARBOROUGH – 42.3

HERTSMERE – 37.4

PETERBOROUGH – 30.3

STOKE-ON-TRENT – 27.4

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Mr Khan said: ‘It beggars belief. We all knew that in September there would be a greater need for testing,’ he added. ‘I’m really angry. It’s another example of lessons not being learned. You can explain the delay, incompetence in March. There’s no excuse now.’

When asked about the efficacy of the new measures that come into affect today – such as being able to fine people up to £10,000 for failing to self-isolate when necessary – Mr Athwal said: ‘Most definitely, I’m just wondering why it’s taken so long.’

He added: ‘I’ve heard cases of people who’ve tested positive and stopped at the airport still trying to get out of the country trying to travel. e

‘Certainly we’ve had cases where people have taken tests and they’re still going to work because they haven’t had a result. Surely logic dictates that if you’ve had a test what you should be doing is going straight home to isolate until you’ve have a result.

‘And of course there’s not really been any control over people who’ve tested positive to stay at home and some of these people have been known just simply to pop out to go to get something that they need. 

‘I think these fines will certainly deter people but we needed them much sooner. 

‘Because the businesses and residents had a lot of help like furlough payments and business grants but equally we’ve all got to do our bit and the way to do our bit is to isolate and make sure we stop the spread from getting any worse.’ 

Mr Khan’s proposed rules include a ban on households mixing at home in London, a measure which has already been imposed in Scotland, Wales and several parts of England.

Around 17million Britons are living under tougher coronavirus restrictions than the rest of nation after health chiefs yesterday confirmed extra measures for those living in Wigan, Stockport, Blackpool, Leeds and parts of Wales. 

The decision to impose further localised restrictions came as another 5,693 people tested positive for the virus and another 17 deaths were announced on Sunday.

The increase brings the UK’s total cases to 434,969.  

But the capital’s outbreak appears to have plateaued since spiking at the start of September, when taking into account separate data that analyses when positive samples were actually taken, not recorded. 

It can take suspected patients several days to get their test results back.    

Hospital admissions in the capital have tripled in a fortnight, with the rolling average rising from 11 on September 2 to 34.7 by September 19. 

It comes after officers were last week spotted visiting London pubs to turf out drinkers at 10pm after the City of Westminster ‘fun police’ peered through letterboxes looking for lock-ins, following the Prime Minister’s latest lockdown measures. 

Authorities were pictured at a bar on Portobello Road in Notting Hill, west London, booting people out as the curfew kicked in on Thursday.

Council inspectors have been peering through letterboxes and windows in an effort to track down pubs and clubs holding lock-ins past the curfew. 

Restrictions currently in place throughout England ban venues from being open after 10pm to try and slow down the spread of Covid-19 infections. 

Meanwhile, swathes of towns in the North of England and parts of Wales will be hit with local lockdowns tonight in a bid to curb spiralling infections. 

Health Secretary Matt Hancock confirmed Wigan and Stockport are to have local restrictions that apply to the rest of Greater Manchester reintroduced.

The Manchester towns were previously removed from restrictions on meeting with people in homes and private gardens after the infection rate fell in the boroughs. 

The case rate in Wigan currently stands at over 106 cases per 100,000, whilst Stockport has 71 cases per 100,000. From midnight tonight, residents will be banned from mixing indoors or in gardens with people outside their immediate household.

The same raft of measures have also been announced in Leeds and Blackpool – which now follows Lancashire in being placed under local lockdown restrictions, having escaped the measures last Friday.   

Rolling seven-day rate of new cases of Covid-19 in hotspot areas in England

In Burnley, 228 new cases were recorded in the seven days to September 23 – the equivalent of 256.4 per 100,000 people.

Burnley has the highest rate in England, up from 145.1 in the seven days to September 16.

Liverpool has the second highest rate, up from 131.1 to 243.8 with 1,214 new cases.

Knowsley is in third place, where the rate has risen from 132.6 to 241.9, with 365 new cases.

Other areas recording sharp increases in their seven-day rates include:

  • Newcastle upon Tyne (up from 87.2 to 228.8, with 693 new cases)
  • Pendle (up from 97.7 to 203.0 with 187 new cases)
  • Sunderland (up from 78.9 to 180.0, with 500 new cases)
  • Halton (up from 125.2 to 214.0 with 277 new cases)
  • Sefton (up from 74.2 to 162.8, with 450 new cases)
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Dozens of areas across England which have seen Covid-19 infection rates spiral over the past month are currently on the watchlist, which is updated every Friday. 

Authorities are separated into three different categories based on how quickly outbreaks are growing. 

Local restrictions are imposed in areas carrying the ‘intervention’ tag, while more testing is made available for boroughs listed as being of ‘concern’ and more detailed plans to control cases are made for areas under ‘enhanced support’.  

It comes as figures buried in a 188-page document suggested almost 75,000 people could die from non-Covid causes as a result of lockdown.

The startling research, presented to the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), will further increase pressure on Boris Johnson to hold back on introducing further coronavirus restrictions.

The document reveals 16,000 people died as a result of the chaos in hospitals and care homes in March and April alone.

And an additional 31,900 could die over the next five years as a result of missed cancer diagnoses, cancelled operations and the health impacts of a recession.

The toll of deaths directly linked to the virus last night stood at 41,936.

The estimates, drawn up by civil servants at the Department of Health, the Office for National Statistics and the Home Office, were presented to Sage at a meeting on July 15. 

The documents stressed that had nothing been done to stop the spread of the virus in March, 400,000 people could have died of Covid.

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Tory MPs label ‘idiotic’ 10pm pubs curfew a ‘sick experiment’ to ‘incubate a second wave’

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tory mps label idiotic 10pm pubs curfew a sick experiment to incubate a second wave

Boris Johnson’s 10pm coronavirus curfew was branded a ‘sick experiment for a second wave’ by his own MPs – as the mayor of one of the UK’s biggest cities warned it was doing ‘more harm than good’. 

Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham said the government’s drinking deadline was pushing crowds into supermarkets to buy booze to drink on the curbs or in homes. 

It came as scores of drinkers were spotted in trendy Moseley, Birmingham, on Saturday night twirling around to a brass bands, despite restrictions urging social distancing.

The PM’s curfew – which he announced last week – has been widely panned due to these predicable consequences. 

One Tory MP texted Politico: ‘Which clown-faced moron thought it would be a good idea to kick thousands of p***** people out from the pubs into the street and onto the tube at the same time?

‘It’s like some sort of sick experiment to see if you can incubate a second wave.’

A small crowd of 50 people gathered in Moseley, Birmingham, after the curfew came in

A small crowd of 50 people gathered in Moseley, Birmingham, after the curfew came in

A small crowd of 50 people gathered in Moseley, Birmingham, after the curfew came in

A brass band was seemingly playing to the group, who danced happily in the street

A brass band was seemingly playing to the group, who danced happily in the street

A brass band was seemingly playing to the group, who danced happily in the street

West Midlands Police said it had offered some words of advice and the crowd went home

West Midlands Police said it had offered some words of advice and the crowd went home

West Midlands Police said it had offered some words of advice and the crowd went home

Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham said the curfew was doing more harm than good

Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham said the curfew was doing more harm than good

Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham said the curfew was doing more harm than good

An eyewitness in Moseley told MailOnline: ‘We went for a quiet drink with some pals. We finished around 9.45pm, came out and as we were waiting for our Uber home, we heard a brass band start playing music.

‘Within seconds there were more than 50 people gathered, dancing as if they were in a nightclub pre-covid.

‘What does our government think is going to happen when they force venues to close at 10pm following 6 months of close to no business?

‘As someone who used to be involved in nightclubs, I am disgusted with how my beloved industry has been marginalised and deemed unviable, when we are the ones who would enforce staggered exit times to prevent chaos.

‘We are the ones who have that duty of care over our customers. Open the nightclubs back up. I haven’t spent my life delivering great times and irreplaceable memories for countless people to just be swept up under the proverbial rug by those who have no idea how we operate and assume they know best. Simply unacceptable.’

It is the latest problem caused by the new nationwide 10pm curfew, which has pushed drinkers out of pubs onto the streets.

Further video in Liverpool showed similar scenes as members of the public trying to let their hair down continued the partying away from bars.

Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, told Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘I received reports that the supermarkets were absolutely packed to the rafters, lots of people gathering after 10pm 

Groups of revellers out in Soho, London last night as Health Secretary Matt Hancock said there had been an 'acceleration of Covid-19 cases across the country'

Groups of revellers out in Soho, London last night as Health Secretary Matt Hancock said there had been an 'acceleration of Covid-19 cases across the country'

Groups of revellers out in Soho, London last night as Health Secretary Matt Hancock said there had been an ‘acceleration of Covid-19 cases across the country’ 

The images are a stark contrast to the night before, when pictures showed hoards of revellers flocking to the streets in their droves on Saturday night after bars and pubs kicked them out at 10pm

The images are a stark contrast to the night before, when pictures showed hoards of revellers flocking to the streets in their droves on Saturday night after bars and pubs kicked them out at 10pm

The images are a stark contrast to the night before, when pictures showed hoards of revellers flocking to the streets in their droves on Saturday night after bars and pubs kicked them out at 10pm

Vast swathes of Saturday-night drinkers were seen downing pints on empty roads in Soho, London, while others rushed to buy alcohol from off-licences in Leeds after the newly-imposed curfew rules meant venues shut early

Vast swathes of Saturday-night drinkers were seen downing pints on empty roads in Soho, London, while others rushed to buy alcohol from off-licences in Leeds after the newly-imposed curfew rules meant venues shut early

Vast swathes of Saturday-night drinkers were seen downing pints on empty roads in Soho, London, while others rushed to buy alcohol from off-licences in Leeds after the newly-imposed curfew rules meant venues shut early

Lockdown fines across Britain

The highest fine for flouting social distancing rules is £10,000, which can be issued to any organiser of an illegal gathering.

Fixed penalty notices vary in cost across Britain, the Met Police sets them out as follows:  

England (over 18s):

£100 for the first offence, lowered to £50 if paid within 14 days.

£200 for the second offence, then doubling for each further offence up to a maximum of £3,200.

Wales (over 18s):

£60 for the first offence, which may be lowered to £30 if paid within 14 days.

£120 for the second offence and for each further offence.

Scotland (over 16s):

£60 for the first offence, lowered to £30 if paid within 28 days.

£120 for the second offence, then doubling for each further offence up to a maximum of £960.

Northern Ireland (over 18s): 

£60 for the first offence, lowered to £30 if paid within 14 days.

£120 for the second offence, then doubling for each further offence up to a maximum of £960. 

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‘I think there needs to be an urgent review of the emerging evidence from police forces across the country. 

‘My gut feeling, is that this curfew is doing more harm than good and this brings me back to my central point.

‘It’s potentially contradictory because it creates an incentive for people to gather in the streets or more probably to gather in the home. That is the opposite of what are local restrictions are trying to do.

‘I don’t think this has been properly thought through to be honest and it also of course damages the bars and restaurants.’

Swathes of Saturday-night drinkers were seen downing pints on empty roads in Soho, London, while others rushed to buy alcohol from off-licences in Leeds after the newly-imposed curfew rules meant venues shut early.

Meanwhile, a huge queue of people formed outside Tesco Express in Portsmouth, Hampshire, as many opted to keep the night going with cans and bottles bought from the supermarket.

Following Saturday night’s scenes, chiefs at the British and Beer and Pub Association, a trade association which representing brewers and pub companies across the UK, have urged ministers to review the government-imposed curfew.

The industry bosses, who claim they were not consulted about prior to the announcement, have urged ministers to give venues more flexibility on closing times to allow customers to stagger their exits.

Emma McClarkin, CEO of the British Beer and Pub Association, who described the curfew as ‘another devastating blow to the beer and pub sector, said: ‘As we have seen this weekend, the hard 10pm curfew has led to the consequence of customers leaving venues and filling the streets en masse.

‘We would like to see the hard 10pm reviewed to allow us flexibility on doors closing time and allow customers to stagger their exits.

Crowds of people also took to the streets of Brighton city centre after pubs shut at 10pm on Saturday night

Crowds of people also took to the streets of Brighton city centre after pubs shut at 10pm on Saturday night

Crowds of people also took to the streets of Brighton city centre after pubs shut at 10pm on Saturday night

A huge queue of people formed outside Tesco Express in Portsmouth, Hampshire, as many opted to keep the night going with cans and bottles bought from a supermarket

A huge queue of people formed outside Tesco Express in Portsmouth, Hampshire, as many opted to keep the night going with cans and bottles bought from a supermarket

A huge queue of people formed outside Tesco Express in Portsmouth, Hampshire, as many opted to keep the night going with cans and bottles bought from a supermarket

‘Having not been consulted by the Government on the announcements last week, we do stand ready to work with the Government to find the safest and most practical ways to tackle coronavirus whilst crucially keeping our businesses and the hundreds of thousands of jobs they provide alive.”

Her comments come after Sacha Lord, night-time economy adviser for Greater Manchester, said the curfew was ‘ill-thought-out’.

He wrote on Twitter: ‘It’s very clear, across the UK, that this ill-thought-out 10pm curfew, has pushed everyone out of venues with socially distanced measures, into the streets, into off-licences, supermarkets, overcrowded public transport and house parties.

‘Every operator predicted this. Shambolic.’

It comes after pictures showed revellers pouring into the streets at 10pm on Saturday, as social distancing appeared to go out the widow as newly-imposed curfew rules came into play.

As well as in London and in Portsmouth, booze-fuelled crowds also gathered at the popular Harbourside area in Bristol, on the streets of nightlife-hotspot Newcastle and in student-heavy city York.

In Liverpool, mask-free rulebreakers gathered in a large crowd on the street, jumping and chanting in an impromptu party. Scenes in Liverpool prompted the city’s mayor to slam the curfew as ‘simply making things worse not better’

The influx of merry partygoers heightened the risk of spreading the virus even more as they crammed together on public transport – after Uber fares surged by 2.6 per cent due to increased demand in London.

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The shocking pictures come as Professor Mark Woolhouse from the University of Edinburgh – who sits on the Government’s Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling (SPI-M) – said a third wave of infections next year is ‘entirely possible’.

He warned Britain will have to live with the virus until ‘some kind of cavalry’ comes to the nation’s rescue in the form of a vaccine or rapid testing and said he is ‘doubtful’ a jab will be ready for mass roll-out in six months.

The Prime Minister’s decision to impose the 10pm curfew to avoid a potential second wave has been hit by criticism after it was revealed the move was not advocated by Sage – the panel of scientific experts chaired by Sir Patrick Vallance.

Sage members are said to be increasingly frustrated that they are being overruled while simultaneously being scapegoated for the harsher measures, according to the Daily Telegraph.

A former World Health Organisation director, Professor Karol Sikora, also highlighted concerns, saying: ‘Where is the evidence? Closing a little early will just hurt so many business owners.’

Sage scientists are reportedly calling on the Government to release their advice to exonerate them from any part in mooting a pub curfew.

Concerns about the potential impact on businesses appear to be echoed by the rest of the population as a Mail on Sunday poll found voters are now more worried about the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the economy than they are over the collective health of the nation.

The Deltapoll survey suggests that a majority of people – 51 per cent – think the impact on the economy is the greatest problem facing the UK over the next year, compared to 42 per cent who worry about the effects on health.

When asked about the impact over the next five years, the gap widens, with 66 per cent citing the economy and just 28 per cent mentioning health.

And an overwhelming 89 per cent are concerned about the impact of Covid restrictions – including the 10pm curfew on business – with just 8 per cent saying they are unconcerned.

The results suggest there is growing support for the position of Chancellor Rishi Sunak, who has argued in Cabinet against ‘doves’ such as Health Secretary Matt Hancock and Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove who want more stringent restrictions.

Mr Sunak’s ratings continue to soar, with an approval rating of plus 37. Boris Johnson, by contrast, receives a rating of minus 17.

A senior MP today revealed that Boris Johnson abandoned his plans for a second national lockdown over fears Rishi Sunak could quit as rift claims deepen.

Mr Sunak warned the economic impact caused by a second national lockdown would make his job near impossible.

He argued to keep Britain open to protect millions of jobs and businesses despite medical and scientific experts wanting tougher restrictions to stop the spread of the virus, The Sun reported.

The Chancellor has introduced a number of measures to save jobs and businesses throughout the pandemic, including the Job Retention Scheme and Eat Out To Help Out.

A senior MP said: ‘There were fears he would find it difficult to carry on if he was ignored.

‘It was all down to the Chancellor that we avoided delivering a hammer blow to the economy and took a more balanced approach instead. Rishi saved the day.’

Yesterday, Mr Sunak’s deputy swatted away suggestions of a rift between the Chancellor and Mr Johnson over the Government’s coronavirus strategy.

Chief Secretary to the Treasury Stephen Barclay insisted both men were working ‘in tandem’ and denied Numbers 10 and 11 were adopting different approaches.

On Thursday Mr Sunak said the nation needed to learn to ‘live without fear’, just days after the Prime Minister tightened coronavirus laws amid a steep rise in cases.

Responding to the shocking scenes on the streets of Liverpool yesterday, Mayor Joe Anderson took to social media to say: ‘A picture speaks a thousand words, and these three pictures of last night in Liverpool show why the 10.00pm closure of pubs and restaurants is simply making things worse not better.

‘This was repeated right across the UK.’

‘This was the first weekend in which the new 10pm curfew was in operation under tighter lockdown restrictions amid growing evidence of a second wave of coronavirus cases.’

In Greater Machester, Sacha Lord – the area’s night-time economy adviser – tweeted: ‘It’s very clear, across the UK, that this ill-thought-out 10pm curfew, has pushed everyone out of venues with socially distanced measures, into the streets, into off-licences, supermarkets, overcrowded public transport and house parties. Every operator predicted this. Shambolic.’

In Birmingham, police sent 1,000 revellers home from locations including a snooker hall, student party and massage parlour in a weekend-long coronavirus blitz.

Officers kicked out revellers from a string of locations where they found people ignoring the rules on social gatherings. 

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Tech boss transforms Napoleonic fort into party island after buying it for £555,000 

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tech boss transforms napoleonic fort into party island after buying it for 555000

A businessman has taken on the ultimate renovation challenge after he purchased a Napoleonic fort in a bid to transform it into a party pad. 

Mike Conner, 48, who is the CEO of tech company Appsbroker, snapped up Thorne Island near Milford Haven in Pembrokeshire, Wales, for £555,000 in May 2017.

The island, which comes with its own 100-man fort, was originally constructed in the 1850s to protect the busy port of Milford Haven from French naval attacks.

However, with it’s days of battle behind it, Thorne Island and its fort had been left lying empty for 17 years before Conner bought them.

Mike Conner, 48, (pictured) who is the CEO of tech company Appsbroker, snapped up Thorne Island (pictured) near Milford Haven in Pembrokeshire, Wales, for £555,000 in May 2017

Mike Conner, 48, (pictured) who is the CEO of tech company Appsbroker, snapped up Thorne Island (pictured) near Milford Haven in Pembrokeshire, Wales, for £555,000 in May 2017

Mike Conner, 48, (pictured) who is the CEO of tech company Appsbroker, snapped up Thorne Island (pictured) near Milford Haven in Pembrokeshire, Wales, for £555,000 in May 2017

The island, which comes with its own 100-man fort, was originally constructed in the 1850s to protect the busy port of Milford Haven from French naval attacks

The island, which comes with its own 100-man fort, was originally constructed in the 1850s to protect the busy port of Milford Haven from French naval attacks

The island, which comes with its own 100-man fort, was originally constructed in the 1850s to protect the busy port of Milford Haven from French naval attacks

Thorne Island and its fort had been lying empty for 17 years before Mike Conner purchased them in 2017

Thorne Island and its fort had been lying empty for 17 years before Mike Conner purchased them in 2017

Thorne Island and its fort had been lying empty for 17 years before Mike Conner purchased them in 2017

A group of Google executives even flew onto the island by helicopter for a party that started at the rooftop bar before moving down into the courtyard (pictured), where hidden speakers played music for them

A group of Google executives even flew onto the island by helicopter for a party that started at the rooftop bar before moving down into the courtyard (pictured), where hidden speakers played music for them

A group of Google executives even flew onto the island by helicopter for a party that started at the rooftop bar before moving down into the courtyard (pictured), where hidden speakers played music for them

Conner said that he has no budget for the renovation works which will transform the former defensive location into a party island. He also doesn't know how much he has spent so far but that the costs were 'off the scale'

Conner said that he has no budget for the renovation works which will transform the former defensive location into a party island. He also doesn't know how much he has spent so far but that the costs were 'off the scale'

Conner said that he has no budget for the renovation works which will transform the former defensive location into a party island. He also doesn’t know how much he has spent so far but that the costs were ‘off the scale’

Conner has big plans for the former defensive construct, with renovation works already underway to transform the fort into a party destination.

He said that he knew he wanted to buy the island the moment that he first saw it on a YouTube video.

‘I saw it and it was just, “Bam”, I wanted to buy it,’ he said. ‘I don’t have a timescale to finish, I don’t have a budget, I just want to enjoy doing the project.’

A few of the rooms in the former fort have already received a makeover, including a rooftop bar which has already played host to parties.

A group of Google executives even flew onto the island by helicopter for a party that started at the rooftop bar before moving down into the courtyard, where hidden speakers played music for them.

Proud owner: Mike Conner stands next to a Thorne Island sign. He has spent most of the summer on the island working to bring it back to life

Proud owner: Mike Conner stands next to a Thorne Island sign. He has spent most of the summer on the island working to bring it back to life

Proud owner: Mike Conner stands next to a Thorne Island sign. He has spent most of the summer on the island working to bring it back to life

Stunning: A bird's eye view of Thorne Island and its Napoleonic fort which Mike Conner purchased for £555,000 in May 2017

Stunning: A bird's eye view of Thorne Island and its Napoleonic fort which Mike Conner purchased for £555,000 in May 2017

Stunning: A bird’s eye view of Thorne Island and its Napoleonic fort which Mike Conner purchased for £555,000 in May 2017

The dad-of-three has spent much of his summer at the fort with wife Natasha and their children as he worked to renovate some of the bedrooms

The dad-of-three has spent much of his summer at the fort with wife Natasha and their children as he worked to renovate some of the bedrooms

The dad-of-three has spent much of his summer at the fort with wife Natasha and their children as he worked to renovate some of the bedrooms

Inside the property, Mike has created a welcoming lounge area which features a large brick chimney breast

Inside the property, Mike has created a welcoming lounge area which features a large brick chimney breast

Inside the property, Mike has created a welcoming lounge area which features a large brick chimney breast

There are plenty of places to sit and relax inside the former fort which had originally been built in the 1850s to house 100 soldiers

There are plenty of places to sit and relax inside the former fort which had originally been built in the 1850s to house 100 soldiers

There are plenty of places to sit and relax inside the former fort which had originally been built in the 1850s to house 100 soldiers

A few of the rooms in the former fort have already received a makeover, including a rooftop bar which has already played host to parties

A few of the rooms in the former fort have already received a makeover, including a rooftop bar which has already played host to parties

A few of the rooms in the former fort have already received a makeover, including a rooftop bar which has already played host to parties

Mike said: ‘I mean, can you just imagine the fun we have? We had a very jolly time.’ 

The dad-of-three has spent much of his summer at the fort with wife Natasha and their children though he doesn’t plan on living there permanently and will rent out all of the rooms when the renovation project has been completed.

A huge living space can be found inside with a vaulted ceilings and a sprawling open-plan kitchen.

The former soldiers’ garrison has been replaced by wood-burning stoves, mezzanine bedrooms with spiral staircases and plush new bathrooms.

Conner said he was shocked that nobody else wanted the property. He said: ‘I think how have I ended up with it. Why didn’t anyone else want to buy it?’

A radiator in one of the rooms at the property. Each radiator that has been installed weighs half a ton

A radiator in one of the rooms at the property. Each radiator that has been installed weighs half a ton

A radiator in one of the rooms at the property. Each radiator that has been installed weighs half a ton

Bathroom with a view! Thorne Island boasts an impressive view of the Dale coastline

Bathroom with a view! Thorne Island boasts an impressive view of the Dale coastline

Bathroom with a view! Thorne Island boasts an impressive view of the Dale coastline

Despite the scale of the project, Mike doesn't plan on living on the island permanently and will rent out all of the rooms when the renovation project has been completed

Despite the scale of the project, Mike doesn't plan on living on the island permanently and will rent out all of the rooms when the renovation project has been completed

Despite the scale of the project, Mike doesn’t plan on living on the island permanently and will rent out all of the rooms when the renovation project has been completed

However, there are a few challenges that he faces due to the remote nature and even has to ask visitors to take rubbish with them as they leave.

He said: ‘We usually ask people to take a bag of rubbish with them when they leave. Everything has to be taken off the island.

‘There aren’t any council services here. No one comes to pick up your bins.’ 

Conner described the cost of the ongoing renovations as ‘off the scale’ and said that ‘it’s massive, it’s complicated, and everything’s a bit different.’ 

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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