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Jeremy Corbyn’s brother Piers leads new demonstration against Covid lockdown

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jeremy corbyns brother piers leads new demonstration against covid lockdown

Jeremy Corbyn’s brother Piers has fronted a new demonstration against the Covid lockdown rules as Londoners begin life under new Tier 2 restrictions.

The 73-year-old, who was previously fined £10,000 for his part in a previous rally, stood with a megaphone among the crowd that had gathered in Oxford Street earlier today.

The anti-mask protestors, who were flanked by police, held placards that read ‘burn your mask’ and ‘this is now tyranny’.  

The group is calling for an end to social distancing and face masks as well as wanting to halt any coronavirus vaccines. 

It comes as Londoners started adjusting to life in Tier 2 after waking up with more coronavirus curbs. 

Piers Corbyn, 73, who was previously fined £10,000 for his part in a previous rally, stood with a megaphone among the crowd that had gathered in Oxford Street earlier today

Piers Corbyn, 73, who was previously fined £10,000 for his part in a previous rally, stood with a megaphone among the crowd that had gathered in Oxford Street earlier today

Piers Corbyn, 73, who was previously fined £10,000 for his part in a previous rally, stood with a megaphone among the crowd that had gathered in Oxford Street earlier today

The anti-mask protestors, who were flanked by police, called for 'freedom' and held placards that read 'burn your mask' and 'this is now tyranny'

The anti-mask protestors, who were flanked by police, called for 'freedom' and held placards that read 'burn your mask' and 'this is now tyranny'

The anti-mask protestors, who were flanked by police, called for ‘freedom’ and held placards that read ‘burn your mask’ and ‘this is now tyranny’

The group is calling for an end to social distancing and face masks as well as wanting to halt any coronavirus vaccines

The group is calling for an end to social distancing and face masks as well as wanting to halt any coronavirus vaccines

The group is calling for an end to social distancing and face masks as well as wanting to halt any coronavirus vaccines

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34508816 0 image a 122 1602944664051

The protestors gathered in Oxford Street earlier today before marching through the capital after London was moved into Tier 2 level of lockdown

Mr Corbyn had been present during a smaller protest against the new measures in Soho last night which saw some revellers led away in handcuffs.

He said: ‘We’re here to drink against curfew. To oppose the lockdowns, to oppose job losses caused by lockdowns, to oppose all of it.

‘The whole lot should be lifted now.’ 

It comes as small groups were seen heading out for coffee and keeping to social distancing guidelines in the capital earlier today with more than half of England now living with heightened coronavirus restrictions. 

Regulations in the second level of lockdown means people must not socialise with anybody outside of their household or support bubble in any indoor setting nor socialise in a group of more than six outside – including in a garden.

Exercise classes and organised sport can continue to take place outdoors and will only be permitted indoors if it is possible for people to avoid mixing with others they do not live with or share a support bubble with, or for youth or disability sport. 

People can continue to travel to venues or amenities that are open, for work or to access education, but should look to reduce the number of journeys made where possible.  

Small groups were seen heading out for coffee and keeping to social distancing guidelines. Pictured: Three friends sitting outdoors at a cafe in Richmond-upon-Thames

Small groups were seen heading out for coffee and keeping to social distancing guidelines. Pictured: Three friends sitting outdoors at a cafe in Richmond-upon-Thames

Small groups were seen heading out for coffee and keeping to social distancing guidelines. Pictured: Three friends sitting outdoors at a cafe in Richmond-upon-Thames

Exercise classes and organised sport can continue to take place outdoors under the Tier 2 restrictions. Pictured: Runners out for fresh air along the Thames

Exercise classes and organised sport can continue to take place outdoors under the Tier 2 restrictions. Pictured: Runners out for fresh air along the Thames

Exercise classes and organised sport can continue to take place outdoors under the Tier 2 restrictions. Pictured: Runners out for fresh air along the Thames

More than half of England is living with heightened coronavirus restrictions. Pictured: Shoppers keep to social distancing guidelines in Richmond-upon-Thames

More than half of England is living with heightened coronavirus restrictions. Pictured: Shoppers keep to social distancing guidelines in Richmond-upon-Thames

More than half of England is living with heightened coronavirus restrictions. Pictured: Shoppers keep to social distancing guidelines in Richmond-upon-Thames

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34423666 8850295 image a 44 1602942580429

Meanwhile, police fought to enforce coronavirus laws in London last night as they faced defiance from both protesters and drinkers refusing to go home after being turfed out of pubs and bars at 10pm.

Officers were seen leading people away in handcuffs after encountering an alarming lack of compliance just hours before Covid restrictions were tightened. 

Boris Johnson yesterday thanked mayor Sadiq Khan for working with the Government to place the capital into the higher alert level – and urged Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham to also cooperate.

Mr Burnham is resisting the Prime Minister’s move to place the region into Tier 3 and is instead agitating for a nationwide lockdown, leaving negotiations with ministers deadlocked. 

But Mr Johnson yesterday used a Downing Street press briefing to warn that he is prepared to elevate Greater Manchester unilaterally, with sources suggesting he could impose harsher measures as early as Monday. 

Lancashire leaders struck a deal with Government and joined Liverpool in the most severe Tier 3 bracket, meaning all pubs and restaurants must close unless they can serve food. 

One runner went solo as he headed along the Thames earlier today as Londoners adjust to more curbs on their day-to-day lifestyle

One runner went solo as he headed along the Thames earlier today as Londoners adjust to more curbs on their day-to-day lifestyle

One runner went solo as he headed along the Thames earlier today as Londoners adjust to more curbs on their day-to-day lifestyle

Shoppers in Richmond-upon-Thames, west London, look carefree earlier today despite the new restrictions now in force in the capital

Shoppers in Richmond-upon-Thames, west London, look carefree earlier today despite the new restrictions now in force in the capital

Shoppers in Richmond-upon-Thames, west London, look carefree earlier today despite the new restrictions now in force in the capital

More than 28million people in England are now living under the top two tiers of restrictions. Pictured: Shoppers wearing facemasks in Richmond-upon-Thames, west London

More than 28million people in England are now living under the top two tiers of restrictions. Pictured: Shoppers wearing facemasks in Richmond-upon-Thames, west London

More than 28million people in England are now living under the top two tiers of restrictions. Pictured: Shoppers wearing facemasks in Richmond-upon-Thames, west London

Group of five rowers took to the River Thames earlier today as they enjoyed some fresh air amid the tougher new restrictions placed on the capital

Group of five rowers took to the River Thames earlier today as they enjoyed some fresh air amid the tougher new restrictions placed on the capital

Group of five rowers took to the River Thames earlier today as they enjoyed some fresh air amid the tougher new restrictions placed on the capital

As more than 28million people in England began living under the top two tiers:

  • Mr Johnson said the UK is developing the capacity to manufacture millions of fast turnaround tests for coronavirus which could deliver results in just 15 minutes;
  • The National Education Union rowed in behind Sir Keir Starmer’s call for a national circuit-breaker to get infections down; 
  • The Welsh Government were to meet to discuss a circuit-breaker lockdown and will announce any decisions on Monday;
  • Some 15,650 coronavirus cases were recorded in the UK on Friday, alongside 136 deaths;  
  • A senior scientist predicted Britain could be carrying out a million coronavirus tests a day by Christmas;
  • The Prime Minister’s attention briefly switched from the pandemic to warn a No Deal Brexit was likely as both London and Brussels ramped up their tough talk.   

At midnight last night people in London, Essex, York, Elmbridge, Barrow-in-Furness, North East Derbyshire, Erewash and Chesterfield were placed into Tier 2. 

In addition to following the nationwide restrictions – such as the rule of six and the 10pm curfew – two households will no longer be able to mix indoors, including pubs and restaurants. 

Londoners were last night spared the double blow of also having the city’s transport system grind to a halt after an eleventh hour bailout of TfL was struck after a day of high-stakes talks. 

It comes after police fought to enforce coronavirus laws in London last night as they faced defiance from both protesters and drinkers refusing to go home. Pictured: crowds in Soho as pubs closed at 10pm

It comes after police fought to enforce coronavirus laws in London last night as they faced defiance from both protesters and drinkers refusing to go home. Pictured: crowds in Soho as pubs closed at 10pm

It comes after police fought to enforce coronavirus laws in London last night as they faced defiance from both protesters and drinkers refusing to go home. Pictured: crowds in Soho as pubs closed at 10pm

A man was handcuffed and bundled into the back of a police van in Soho by police officers after the night descended into chaos when revellers were asked to go home

A man was handcuffed and bundled into the back of a police van in Soho by police officers after the night descended into chaos when revellers were asked to go home

A man was handcuffed and bundled into the back of a police van in Soho by police officers after the night descended into chaos when revellers were asked to go home

At it reached 10pm protesters held up signs and gathered together to protest the curfew and increasing restrictions

At it reached 10pm protesters held up signs and gathered together to protest the curfew and increasing restrictions

At it reached 10pm protesters held up signs and gathered together to protest the curfew and increasing restrictions

One man laughed as he was dragged away by police officers after joining a protest in Soho, London, against lockdown measures this evening

One man laughed as he was dragged away by police officers after joining a protest in Soho, London, against lockdown measures this evening

One man laughed as he was dragged away by police officers after joining a protest in Soho, London, against lockdown measures this evening

Police officers marched through Soho as they tried to break up illegal gatherings of more than six people in central London

Police officers marched through Soho as they tried to break up illegal gatherings of more than six people in central London

Police officers marched through Soho as they tried to break up illegal gatherings of more than six people in central London

Piers Corbyn held up a finger as he spoke to police officers in Soho. The conversation appeared to be animated as the police officer held out a hand

Piers Corbyn held up a finger as he spoke to police officers in Soho. The conversation appeared to be animated as the police officer held out a hand

Piers Corbyn held up a finger as he spoke to police officers in Soho. The conversation appeared to be animated as the police officer held out a hand 

Some in the capital were left puzzled that they were being hit with new restrictions when data revealed that places such as Devon, Oxford and Coventry had higher infection rates but were in the lowest Tier 1. 

Yet the capital’s mayor Mr Khan has said ministers are not going far enough and called for a short national circuit breaker, which is also being advocated by Mr Burnham who yesterday refused to cave to the PM’s threats.

The PM warned Mr Burnham he would impose Tier 3 measures on Greater Manchester if they could not reach an agreement as he warned of a ‘grave’ situation.

Speaking from Number 10, he said: ‘I cannot stress enough: time is of the essence. Each day that passes before action is taken means more people will go to hospital, more people will end up in intensive care and tragically more people will die.’

Mr Burnham and council leaders across Greater Manchester responded by insisting they have done ‘everything within our power to protect the health of our residents’, and said people and firms need greater financial support before accepting the lockdown.

They also suggested in a joint statement that Downing Street had delayed discussions, adding: ‘We can assure the Prime Minister that we are ready to meet at any time to try to agree a way forward.’   

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34479112 8850295 image a 61 1602942593678

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A woman appears to shout and raises her fist into the air while police officers stand waiting for the crowds to disperse in Soho on Friday night

A woman appears to shout and raises her fist into the air while police officers stand waiting for the crowds to disperse in Soho on Friday night

A woman appears to shout and raises her fist into the air while police officers stand waiting for the crowds to disperse in Soho on Friday night

Crowds jeered and shouted at police officers in Soho as pubs closed on Friday night. One teenager was pictured filming an officer with the camera light turned on on his phone

Crowds jeered and shouted at police officers in Soho as pubs closed on Friday night. One teenager was pictured filming an officer with the camera light turned on on his phone

Crowds jeered and shouted at police officers in Soho as pubs closed on Friday night. One teenager was pictured filming an officer with the camera light turned on on his phone

Two police officers wore disposable masks as they led one man away after revelers started shouting and jeering at the police

Two police officers wore disposable masks as they led one man away after revelers started shouting and jeering at the police

Two police officers wore disposable masks as they led one man away after revelers started shouting and jeering at the police

Protestors held up signs, with one man singing and playing the guitar while a friend showed him the lyrics on his phone

Protestors held up signs, with one man singing and playing the guitar while a friend showed him the lyrics on his phone

Protestors held up signs, with one man singing and playing the guitar while a friend showed him the lyrics on his phone

One person help up a sign that read: 'Shut up you fascist Tories. No one tells me what time to go to bed'. Another was pictured holding what looked like a guitar

One person help up a sign that read: 'Shut up you fascist Tories. No one tells me what time to go to bed'. Another was pictured holding what looked like a guitar

One person help up a sign that read: ‘Shut up you fascist Tories. No one tells me what time to go to bed’. Another was pictured holding what looked like a guitar

Scientists say up to one million Brits could be tested per day before Christmas 

Britain could be carrying out a million coronavirus tests per day by Christmas with results in just 15 minutes, a scientist working on the testing scheme has said. 

The source, who was not named, revealed the government is buying new machines capable of processing 150,000 tests per day with the aim of trebling the current capacity of 300,000.

Separately, trials of pregnancy-style tests which could provide results in just 15 minutes will begin in northern hotspots from next week.

‘It’s going pretty well,’ the scientist told The Times. ‘They have really scaled up their capabilities. By Christmas we’ll be at a million a day, I think.  That seems perfectly possible.’

Mr Johnson told a No 10 press conference on Friday that the new tests were ‘faster, simpler and cheaper’ and that work was being done to ensure they could be manufactured and distributed in the UK. 

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Despite talks with Greater Manchester ending in stalemate, a deal was done with Lancashire region’s leaders where 1.5million people are now living under Tier 3 to stem the ‘unrelenting rise’ in cases in the North West. 

Labour’s council leaders in Lancashire said they had been forced to accept the measures, with South Ribble’s Paul Foster saying they were ‘blackmailed’ and Blackpool’s Lynn Williams adding they had ‘no option’ to agree, as they secured an extra £30million of funding. 

Pubs and bars across Lancashire will close unless they serve food and alcohol as part of a sit-down meal, while stricter restrictions on socialising will also come into force.

People will not be able to mix with others in any indoor setting or private garden, as well as in most outdoor hospitality venues.

Casinos, bingo halls, bookmakers, betting shops, soft play areas and adult gaming centres will be forced to shut, while car boot sales will also be banned.

But gyms will remain open despite them being closed in the Liverpool City Region – the only other area under Tier 3 restrictions.  

Yesterday 15,650 coronavirus cases were recorded in the UK and 136 more deaths as the country grapples with a second surge of the virus. 

Sage said the reproduction number, or R value, of coronavirus transmission for the whole of the UK had nudged up to between 1.3 and 1.5.

The group also said there had been no change to the course of the pandemic in the last month, suggesting no effect from measures such as the rule of six.

However, at the Downing Street press conference, England’s chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said the R was not growing as fast as it would be without the measures people were following. 

The PM said he would try to avoid a national lockdown but was under growing pressure to impose a short circuit-breaker’.  

Britain’s biggest teaching union on Friday rowed in behind Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer in calling for an urgent two-week circuit breaker. 

The Education Union (NEU) said the move, which would see secondary schools and colleges in England closed for two weeks at half-term, was urgently needed to bolster the test and trace infrastructure. 

A man appeared to shout as he was grabbed by two police officers and taken away during an outburst in Soho, London

A man appeared to shout as he was grabbed by two police officers and taken away during an outburst in Soho, London

A man appeared to shout as he was grabbed by two police officers and taken away during an outburst in Soho, London

A man was put into the back of a police van after he was arrested and handcuffed as the pubs closed in Soho on Friday

A man was put into the back of a police van after he was arrested and handcuffed as the pubs closed in Soho on Friday

A man was put into the back of a police van after he was arrested and handcuffed as the pubs closed in Soho on Friday

Some revellers took their drinks with them into the street. One man was pictured holding a wine glass as demonstrators complained about the harsh restrictions behind him

Some revellers took their drinks with them into the street. One man was pictured holding a wine glass as demonstrators complained about the harsh restrictions behind him

Some revellers took their drinks with them into the street. One man was pictured holding a wine glass as demonstrators complained about the harsh restrictions behind him

A group ignored social distancing and joined in on what looks like a can-can dance in the middle of Soho as pubs closed

A group ignored social distancing and joined in on what looks like a can-can dance in the middle of Soho as pubs closed

A group ignored social distancing and joined in on what looks like a can-can dance in the middle of Soho as pubs closed

As the sun set drinkers bought rounds of pints to ensure they had enough to drink before the clock struck 10pm and they were told to leave

As the sun set drinkers bought rounds of pints to ensure they had enough to drink before the clock struck 10pm and they were told to leave

As the sun set drinkers bought rounds of pints to ensure they had enough to drink before the clock struck 10pm and they were told to leave

Social distancing measures were completely ignored by these revellers who danced in the street in Soho on Friday

Social distancing measures were completely ignored by these revellers who danced in the street in Soho on Friday

Social distancing measures were completely ignored by these revellers who danced in the street in Soho on Friday

Revellers continued the party outside of the pubs as police desperately tried to break up the crowds in Soho on Friday

Revellers continued the party outside of the pubs as police desperately tried to break up the crowds in Soho on Friday

Revellers continued the party outside of the pubs as police desperately tried to break up the crowds in Soho on Friday

A man and women were pictured sitting on the floor as two police officers spoke to them in Soho as pubs closed on Friday

A man and women were pictured sitting on the floor as two police officers spoke to them in Soho as pubs closed on Friday

A man and women were pictured sitting on the floor as two police officers spoke to them in Soho as pubs closed on Friday

Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the NEU, said: ‘Heads, teachers and school staff understand the educational impact of this, but we also understand that in exponential epidemics early action is essential. Taking action now can avoid more disruption later.’

On Friday, figures from the ONS showed that the highest rates of infection in England continue to be among young adults and secondary school pupils. 

Mr Courtney added: ‘This should be no surprise to either the Prime Minister or the Department for Education – scientists have consistency told them that secondary students transmit the virus as much as adults, and we have warned them that because we have amongst the biggest class sizes in Europe we have overcrowded classrooms and corridors without effective social distancing. 

‘Our classrooms often have poor ventilation, leading to airborne transmissions, and in many areas we have also have overcrowded school transport where children are mixing across year-group bubbles. 

‘These children live in families and are part of communities, so even if they have few or no symptoms themselves they are still part of spreading the virus to others, including to teachers and other school staff.’ 

He added: ‘Such a circuit-breaker could allow the Government to get in control of the test, track and trace system, and get cases lower to allow the system to work better.’ 

Mr Starmer has said a complete shutdown lasting two to three weeks could be timed to take place over half-term to minimise disruption but warned ‘sacrifices’ would have to be made to get the virus back under control.  

The growing calls come as a raft of statistics published this afternoon showed cases are still surging in England by as many as 28,000 new infections per day, according to ONS estimates for the first week of October.

The row continued as people in Tier 2 or 3 areas in England, as well as the central belt of Scotland and the whole of Northern Ireland, were banned from entering Wales from 6pm on Friday. 

Crowds of revellers teamed out of restaurants and bars at 10pm as the night ended. The crowds did not appear to be abiding by social distancing measures

Crowds of revellers teamed out of restaurants and bars at 10pm as the night ended. The crowds did not appear to be abiding by social distancing measures

Crowds of revellers teamed out of restaurants and bars at 10pm as the night ended. The crowds did not appear to be abiding by social distancing measures

Police officers stood in the middle of the street to monitor the situation and ensure it didn't escalate

Police officers stood in the middle of the street to monitor the situation and ensure it didn't escalate

Police officers stood in the middle of the street to monitor the situation and ensure it didn’t escalate 

Police officers tried to manage the crowds as revellers left the pubs and restaurants in Soho at 10pm this evening

Police officers tried to manage the crowds as revellers left the pubs and restaurants in Soho at 10pm this evening

Police officers tried to manage the crowds as revellers left the pubs and restaurants in Soho at 10pm this evening

People sit outside Comptons pub in Soho as they enjoy drinks with friends before the level of restrictions increase in the capital at midnight

People sit outside Comptons pub in Soho as they enjoy drinks with friends before the level of restrictions increase in the capital at midnight

People sit outside Comptons pub in Soho as they enjoy drinks with friends before the level of restrictions increase in the capital at midnight

Soho was packed with revellers making the most of the capital's final night in Tier 1 restrictions. Roads were covered in tables and chairs as customers were seated outside

Soho was packed with revellers making the most of the capital's final night in Tier 1 restrictions. Roads were covered in tables and chairs as customers were seated outside

Soho was packed with revellers making the most of the capital’s final night in Tier 1 restrictions. Roads were covered in tables and chairs as customers were seated outside

Revellers wore coats and jackets to keep warm as they enjoyed drinks outside Bar Soho in the centre of the capital tonight

Revellers wore coats and jackets to keep warm as they enjoyed drinks outside Bar Soho in the centre of the capital tonight

Revellers wore coats and jackets to keep warm as they enjoyed drinks outside Bar Soho in the centre of the capital tonight

A group of six women all hold blow-up microphones and don sombreros for a night out in Newcastle on Friday night

A group of six women all hold blow-up microphones and don sombreros for a night out in Newcastle on Friday night

A group of six women all hold blow-up microphones and don sombreros for a night out in Newcastle on Friday night

Women posed for the camera after a night of drinking in Newcastle on Friday evening. Tier 3 restrictions hang over the city

Women posed for the camera after a night of drinking in Newcastle on Friday evening. Tier 3 restrictions hang over the city

Women posed for the camera after a night of drinking in Newcastle on Friday evening. Tier 3 restrictions hang over the city

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During the peak of the crisis TfL's revenues dropped 95 per cent as people were instructed to work from home and footfall on carriages fell. It has risen slightly since lockdown was initially eased after the first wave, but today Mr Khan said passenger numbers will not return to pre-pandemic levels in the immediate future

During the peak of the crisis TfL's revenues dropped 95 per cent as people were instructed to work from home and footfall on carriages fell. It has risen slightly since lockdown was initially eased after the first wave, but today Mr Khan said passenger numbers will not return to pre-pandemic levels in the immediate future

During the peak of the crisis TfL’s revenues dropped 95 per cent as people were instructed to work from home and footfall on carriages fell. It has risen slightly since lockdown was initially eased after the first wave, but today Mr Khan said passenger numbers will not return to pre-pandemic levels in the immediate future

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34423288 8850295 image a 91 1602942595952

Commuters wear face-masks during morning rush hour on the Victoria Line of the London Underground in central London today

Commuters wear face-masks during morning rush hour on the Victoria Line of the London Underground in central London today

Commuters wear face-masks during morning rush hour on the Victoria Line of the London Underground in central London today

Tube and bus passengers are rising, but Mr Khan said passenger numbers will not return to pre-pandemic levels in the immediate future

Tube and bus passengers are rising, but Mr Khan said passenger numbers will not return to pre-pandemic levels in the immediate future

Tube and bus passengers are rising, but Mr Khan said passenger numbers will not return to pre-pandemic levels in the immediate future

Coronavirus positive tests in London have increased dramatically since the beginning of September but changes in recent weeks suggest the rate of rise is slowing down, with a 37 per cent increase in the seven days to October 7, compared to the almost double 84 per cent in the third week of September

Coronavirus positive tests in London have increased dramatically since the beginning of September but changes in recent weeks suggest the rate of rise is slowing down, with a 37 per cent increase in the seven days to October 7, compared to the almost double 84 per cent in the third week of September

Coronavirus positive tests in London have increased dramatically since the beginning of September but changes in recent weeks suggest the rate of rise is slowing down, with a 37 per cent increase in the seven days to October 7, compared to the almost double 84 per cent in the third week of September

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WHAT ARE THE THREE TIERS? 

TIER 1/MEDIUM

  • you must not socialise in groups larger than 6, indoors or outdoors 
  • certain businesses are required to ensure customers only consume food and drink while seated, and must close between 10pm and 5am 
  • businesses and venues selling food for consumption off the premises can continue to do so after 10pm as long as this is a take-out service 
  • places of worship remain open, subject to the rule of 6
  • weddings and funerals can go ahead with restrictions on numbers of attendees 
  • exercise classes and organised sport can continue to take place outdoors, or indoors with the rule of 6

TIER 2/HIGH

  • you must not socialise with anybody outside of your household or support bubble in any indoor setting
  • you must not socialise in a group of more than 6 outside, including in a garden
  • exercise classes and organised sport can continue to take place outdoors. These will only be permitted indoors if it is possible for people to avoid mixing with people they do not live with or share a support bubble with, or for youth or disability sport 
  • you can continue to travel to venues or amenities that are open, for work or to access education, but should look to reduce the number of journeys you make where possible 

TIER 3/VERY HIGH:  

  • you must not socialise with anybody you do not live with, or have formed a support bubble with, in any indoor setting or in any private garden
  • you must not socialise in a group of more than 6 in an outdoor public space such as a park 
  • pubs and bars must close and can only remain open where they operate as if they were a restaurant, which means serving substantial meals 
  • places of worship remain open, but household mixing is not permitted  
  • weddings (but not receptions) and funerals can go ahead with restrictions on the number of attendees 
  • you should avoid staying overnight in another part of the UK if you are resident in a very-high alert level area
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This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Youngsters throng onto the streets of Nottinghamshire on last night out before entering Tier 3

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youngsters throng onto the streets of nottinghamshire on last night out before entering tier 3

Students in Nottingham made the most of their final night of freedom by hitting the bars in fancy dress before Tier 3 restrictions came into force.

Revellers gathered in large groups and took to the streets on Thursday before the city moved into the ‘very high’ bracket at 12.01am on Friday. 

New rules ban buying alcohol from shops after 9pm and the carefree students were eager to take advantage of the previously relaxed measures. 

'Say Covid!' Students pose for a photo as they headed out in Nottingham in fancy dress on Thursday night to make the most of their final night of freedom before Tier 3 restrictions are enforced

'Say Covid!' Students pose for a photo as they headed out in Nottingham in fancy dress on Thursday night to make the most of their final night of freedom before Tier 3 restrictions are enforced

‘Say Covid!’ Students pose for a photo as they headed out in Nottingham in fancy dress on Thursday night to make the most of their final night of freedom before Tier 3 restrictions are enforced

A group of young men gathered to chant next to police cars, with officers watching on as the night of revelry unfolded before the new rules kick in

A group of young men gathered to chant next to police cars, with officers watching on as the night of revelry unfolded before the new rules kick in

A group of young men gathered to chant next to police cars, with officers watching on as the night of revelry unfolded before the new rules kick in

A police officer attempts to move on a crowd of maskless revellers who have gathered in the street, many in Halloween costumes

A police officer attempts to move on a crowd of maskless revellers who have gathered in the street, many in Halloween costumes

A police officer attempts to move on a crowd of maskless revellers who have gathered in the street, many in Halloween costumes

Cosy: One student headed out in a furry pink bear costume

Cosy: One student headed out in a furry pink bear costume

Many braved the cold and wet conditions

Many braved the cold and wet conditions

Many students and youngsters from the area headed out in unusual costumes, including one dressed in a pink bear onesie, and police officers with stockings

There were scenes of chaos outside the clubs and bars, with dozens gathering in close proximity to each other after 10pm, with few wearing masks

There were scenes of chaos outside the clubs and bars, with dozens gathering in close proximity to each other after 10pm, with few wearing masks

There were scenes of chaos outside the clubs and bars, with dozens gathering in close proximity to each other after 10pm, with few wearing masks

Fallen angel: An eagle-eyed shopper wearing a halo picked up a box of alcopops and was escorted home by her male friend before new restrictions are enforced in Nottingham

Fallen angel: An eagle-eyed shopper wearing a halo picked up a box of alcopops and was escorted home by her male friend before new restrictions are enforced in Nottingham

Fallen angel: An eagle-eyed shopper wearing a halo picked up a box of alcopops and was escorted home by her male friend before new restrictions are enforced in Nottingham

On patrol: A group of young women dressed up as police officers, complete with handcuffs, stockings and police caps, made the most of the night before Nottingham moves into Tier 3

On patrol: A group of young women dressed up as police officers, complete with handcuffs, stockings and police caps, made the most of the night before Nottingham moves into Tier 3

On patrol: A group of young women dressed up as police officers, complete with handcuffs, stockings and police caps, made the most of the night before Nottingham moves into Tier 3

In the market square in Nottingham city centre on Thursday evening, youngsters were seen posing for photographs dressed as minions from the film Despicable Me and chanting near police vehicles.

Nottinghamshire Police had issued a warning earlier on Thursday that they would have ‘no hesitation’ in fining people deliberately flouting the rules.

Assistant Chief Constable Kate Meynell said: ‘The aim of the measures is to save lives and lessen the burden on the NHS – which is becoming increasingly stretched as we approach the time of annual winter pressures in hospitals. Positive action now will save lives.

‘The people of Nottinghamshire have been incredibly supportive and patient with the national and local measures that have impacted on all our lives this year.

A group of students dressed up in Despicable Me minion outfits, while others headed out dressed in angel and devil costumes

A group of students dressed up in Despicable Me minion outfits, while others headed out dressed in angel and devil costumes

A group of students dressed up in Despicable Me minion outfits, while others headed out dressed in angel and devil costumes

A police officer with a dog attempts to control the wild scenes as hundreds of young revellers hit the town and gathered while they could

A police officer with a dog attempts to control the wild scenes as hundreds of young revellers hit the town and gathered while they could

A police officer with a dog attempts to control the wild scenes as hundreds of young revellers hit the town and gathered while they could

Nottinghamshire Police had issued a warning earlier on Thursday that they would have 'no hesitation' in fining people deliberately flouting the rules

Nottinghamshire Police had issued a warning earlier on Thursday that they would have 'no hesitation' in fining people deliberately flouting the rules

Nottinghamshire Police had issued a warning earlier on Thursday that they would have ‘no hesitation’ in fining people deliberately flouting the rules

New rules ban buying alcohol from shops after 9pm and the carefree students were eager to take advantage of the previously relaxed measures

New rules ban buying alcohol from shops after 9pm and the carefree students were eager to take advantage of the previously relaxed measures

New rules ban buying alcohol from shops after 9pm and the carefree students were eager to take advantage of the previously relaxed measures

Revellers gathered in large groups and took to the streets on Thursday before the city moved into the 'very high' bracket at 12.01am on Friday

Revellers gathered in large groups and took to the streets on Thursday before the city moved into the 'very high' bracket at 12.01am on Friday

Revellers gathered in large groups and took to the streets on Thursday before the city moved into the ‘very high’ bracket at 12.01am on Friday

‘Sadly there has been a minority of people who think the legislation doesn’t apply to them and we have been forced to take action, and in some cases hand out fines.’

‘In the last week we have given £10,000 fines to four people who organised parties with more than 30 people present as well as numerous £200 fines to people who wantonly broke the law.

‘The new Tier 3 restrictions will mean greater limits on socialising across Nottinghamshire but it is important people continue to follow the rules.

‘We will have no hesitation in fining people who flout the legislation with no regard for the impact their actions have on families and frontline key workers.’

Many were seen flouting the rule of six as they congregated in large groups in close proximity to each other, with police unable to control them

Many were seen flouting the rule of six as they congregated in large groups in close proximity to each other, with police unable to control them

Many were seen flouting the rule of six as they congregated in large groups in close proximity to each other, with police unable to control them

In the market square in Nottingham city centre on Thursday evening, youngsters were seen posing for photographs dressed as minions from the film Despicable Me

In the market square in Nottingham city centre on Thursday evening, youngsters were seen posing for photographs dressed as minions from the film Despicable Me

In the market square in Nottingham city centre on Thursday evening, youngsters were seen posing for photographs dressed as minions from the film Despicable Me

Spreading peace and love (and hopefully not Covid!): Many took the opportunity to celebrate Halloween while they were still able to head out with friends

Spreading peace and love (and hopefully not Covid!): Many took the opportunity to celebrate Halloween while they were still able to head out with friends

Spreading peace and love (and hopefully not Covid!): Many took the opportunity to celebrate Halloween while they were still able to head out with friends

It's-a-Tier-3, Mario! The city looked far from a pandemic hotspot as many hugged each other on the streets and ignored social distancing

It's-a-Tier-3, Mario! The city looked far from a pandemic hotspot as many hugged each other on the streets and ignored social distancing

It’s-a-Tier-3, Mario! The city looked far from a pandemic hotspot as many hugged each other on the streets and ignored social distancing

A pair of students tucked into McDonald's after partying away their final night before harsh new measures are implemented to curb infection rates

A pair of students tucked into McDonald's after partying away their final night before harsh new measures are implemented to curb infection rates

A pair of students tucked into McDonald’s after partying away their final night before harsh new measures are implemented to curb infection rates

Police watched the wild scenes unfolding but were unable to control the huge numbers gathering together on the city streets

Police watched the wild scenes unfolding but were unable to control the huge numbers gathering together on the city streets

Police watched the wild scenes unfolding but were unable to control the huge numbers gathering together on the city streets

Police had to disperse a large number of revellers as they danced and sung in the streets after the 10pm curfew

Police had to disperse a large number of revellers as they danced and sung in the streets after the 10pm curfew

Police had to disperse a large number of revellers as they danced and sung in the streets after the 10pm curfew

Devil-may-care attitude: Police have handed a number of £10,000 fines out in recent weeks at both the University of Nottingham and Nottingham Trent University

Devil-may-care attitude: Police have handed a number of £10,000 fines out in recent weeks at both the University of Nottingham and Nottingham Trent University

Devil-may-care attitude: Police have handed a number of £10,000 fines out in recent weeks at both the University of Nottingham and Nottingham Trent University

Despite the warnings, many young people took to the streets on Thursday evening ahead of the Tier 3 restrictions, with some seemingly looking to celebrate Halloween two days early.

A few police vehicles were present in the city centre and an ambulance was also nearby.

At a media briefing on Thursday, Nottinghamshire County Council leader Kay Cutts told reporters the force had asked for the alcohol ban to be implemented to stop students partying.

Police have handed a number of £10,000 fines out in recent weeks, as both the University of Nottingham and Nottingham Trent University said a deliberate flouting of coronavirus restrictions could result in exclusion.

Commenting on the alcohol ban, ACC Meynell said: ‘This is a welcome move following a number of gatherings and parties that our officers have had to disperse in recent weeks, in some cases leading to £10,000 fines for the organisers.

Despite the warnings, many young people took to the streets on Thursday evening ahead of the Tier 3 restrictions, with some seemingly looking to celebrate Halloween two days early

Despite the warnings, many young people took to the streets on Thursday evening ahead of the Tier 3 restrictions, with some seemingly looking to celebrate Halloween two days early

Despite the warnings, many young people took to the streets on Thursday evening ahead of the Tier 3 restrictions, with some seemingly looking to celebrate Halloween two days early

At a media briefing on Thursday, Nottinghamshire County Council leader Kay Cutts told reporters the force had asked for the alcohol ban to be implemented to stop students partying

At a media briefing on Thursday, Nottinghamshire County Council leader Kay Cutts told reporters the force had asked for the alcohol ban to be implemented to stop students partying

At a media briefing on Thursday, Nottinghamshire County Council leader Kay Cutts told reporters the force had asked for the alcohol ban to be implemented to stop students partying

There were scenes of chaos and hedonism on the streets as dozens chanted together and embraced each other, despite social distancing guidelines

There were scenes of chaos and hedonism on the streets as dozens chanted together and embraced each other, despite social distancing guidelines

There were scenes of chaos and hedonism on the streets as dozens chanted together and embraced each other, despite social distancing guidelines

Thursday could be the last night that many students are able to see large groups of their friends together for some time

Thursday could be the last night that many students are able to see large groups of their friends together for some time

Thursday could be the last night that many students are able to see large groups of their friends together for some time

Power Danger: Many seemed unconcerned by the rising infection rates in Nottingham as the second wave continues to accelerate through Europe

Power Danger: Many seemed unconcerned by the rising infection rates in Nottingham as the second wave continues to accelerate through Europe

Power Danger: Many seemed unconcerned by the rising infection rates in Nottingham as the second wave continues to accelerate through Europe

From Friday people in Nottinghamshire are not permitted to mix indoors or outdoors with anyone outside their household or support bubble

From Friday people in Nottinghamshire are not permitted to mix indoors or outdoors with anyone outside their household or support bubble

From Friday people in Nottinghamshire are not permitted to mix indoors or outdoors with anyone outside their household or support bubble

At the media briefing, Councillor Cutts said 'young people don't think they are ever going to catch anything' when asked why the alcohol ban had been put in place

At the media briefing, Councillor Cutts said 'young people don't think they are ever going to catch anything' when asked why the alcohol ban had been put in place

At the media briefing, Councillor Cutts said ‘young people don’t think they are ever going to catch anything’ when asked why the alcohol ban had been put in place

‘It is completely unacceptable to have parties when there is a global pandemic that is costing lives.

‘The legislation is clear that from tomorrow people in Nottinghamshire are not permitted to mix indoors or outdoors with anyone outside their household or support bubble, except in certain places like parks and play areas. It is really important that people respect and abide by this, and we know from experience that most people will.’

At the media briefing, Councillor Cutts said ‘young people don’t think they are ever going to catch anything’ when asked why the alcohol ban had been put in place.

She told reporters: ‘What we feared might happen, and what the police feared might happen is people would go to the pub, they’d have a meal and they’d have some drinks and come out and go straight to the off-licence and buy a bottle and go and continue their partying elsewhere.

‘We’re trying to stop that. That’s something which has been blighting a bit of Nottinghamshire… younger people don’t ever think they are going to catch anything.

‘So that’s where that came from and we have supported them on that.’

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Kim Kardashian and her birthday crew hit rock bottom, says Jan Moir

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kim kardashian and her birthday crew hit rock bottom says jan moir

For those lucky people cushioned by wealth, sequestered by acres, pampered by staff and soothed by circumstance, Covid-19 is merely a summer squall in their long winter of deep content.

The elites, the A-listers, the millionaires, the celebs? 

They are never knowingly undersupplied with lockdown loo rolls and bags of flour, nor do they have to choose, in a Welsh supermarket, between new shoes for the kiddies or a litre of vodka.

For someone like Kim Kardashian West, who is all of the above plus a famous bottom to boot, the onset of the current plague is nothing. A blip! 

JAN MOIR: For someone like Kim Kardashian West, who is all of the above plus a famous bottom to boot, the onset of the current plague is nothing. A blip!

JAN MOIR: For someone like Kim Kardashian West, who is all of the above plus a famous bottom to boot, the onset of the current plague is nothing. A blip!

JAN MOIR: For someone like Kim Kardashian West, who is all of the above plus a famous bottom to boot, the onset of the current plague is nothing. A blip!

Recent events suggest that Kimmy thinks a pandemic is something you take when you have a stress headache because Tiffany has run out of diamonds

Recent events suggest that Kimmy thinks a pandemic is something you take when you have a stress headache because Tiffany has run out of diamonds

Recent events suggest that Kimmy thinks a pandemic is something you take when you have a stress headache because Tiffany has run out of diamonds

Not even a dent in her bumper as she glides down the luxury highway from paradise to seven-star opulence and back again.

Girlfriend has got a beauty brand worth a billion dollars and an itch for glitz that simply must be scratched, no matter how many people are fighting for their lives on ventilators.

Does she even know what is going on out there in the real world? Recent events suggest not. 

Recent events suggest that Kimmy thinks a pandemic is something you take when you have a stress headache because Tiffany has run out of diamonds.

Oblivious to the suffering and sacrifices being made around the globe, the reality star and businesswoman shared pictures online with her 190 million followers of her 40th birthday celebrations.

‘This is 40!’ she posted, under photographs of herself paddling along a beach in a terrified bikini.

Kim K spent nearly a million dollars on chartering an 88-seat Boeing 777 to fly her dearest friends and family — including sisters Kourtney, Khloe and Kendall, brother Rob, husband Kanye West and mother Kris Jenner — to The Brando, a luxurious private island resort on an atoll in French Polynesia. 

Oblivious to the suffering and sacrifices being made around the globe, the reality star and businesswoman shared pictures online with her 190 million followers of her 40th birthday celebrations

Oblivious to the suffering and sacrifices being made around the globe, the reality star and businesswoman shared pictures online with her 190 million followers of her 40th birthday celebrations

 Oblivious to the suffering and sacrifices being made around the globe, the reality star and businesswoman shared pictures online with her 190 million followers of her 40th birthday celebrations

There followed the usual dreary round of sushi dinners, spa sessions and parties — it’s the lack of imagination that gets me. 

And all the poor masked staff, who had to look on while these Gatsby-esque grotesques partied like all was well with the world.

The birthday girl cavorted in vintage gold designer outfits worth thousands of pounds, while all the She- Kardashians wore the kind of make-up that runs about a fathom deep and could withstand a meteor shower.

Halloween might be on hold this year, but at least we still have the Kardashians to entertain us, the Munsters of the Insta-age.

‘After two weeks of multiple health screens and asking everyone to quarantine, I surprised my closest inner circle with a trip to a private island where we could pretend things were normal just for a brief moment in time,’ Kim posted. 

If she expected applause for such generosity and admiration for her extravagance, well, she was wrong

If she expected applause for such generosity and admiration for her extravagance, well, she was wrong

 If she expected applause for such generosity and admiration for her extravagance, well, she was wrong

If she expected applause for such generosity and admiration for her extravagance, well, she was wrong.

You could hear the raspberries being blown from here to Hawaii, the revels regarded rather sourly by those whose biggest adventure since lockdown has been a weekly trawl around the exotic fruits section of Marks & Spencer and a new hot water bottle.

Many claimed Ms Kardashian had been tone-deaf and insensitive to the pandemic — but be fair, there is a 15 per cent discount on the resort at the moment. How could she resist?

The holiday was outrageous by any standards but theirs — but I wonder if somewhere in the velvet shallows of Kim Kardashian’s mind, a tiny spark of awareness flared into life following the negative reaction?

‘Feeling so humble and blessed,’ she posted, suggesting she realised something was wrong and that a little bit of belated Mother Teresa-style abnegation wouldn’t go amiss. #soholy #whoopsie #buymylipstick.

You could hear the raspberries being blown from here to Hawaii, the revels regarded rather sourly by those whose biggest adventure since lockdown has been a weekly trawl around the exotic fruits section of Marks & Spencer and a new hot water bottle

You could hear the raspberries being blown from here to Hawaii, the revels regarded rather sourly by those whose biggest adventure since lockdown has been a weekly trawl around the exotic fruits section of Marks & Spencer and a new hot water bottle

You could hear the raspberries being blown from here to Hawaii, the revels regarded rather sourly by those whose biggest adventure since lockdown has been a weekly trawl around the exotic fruits section of Marks & Spencer and a new hot water bottle

One person who saw Kim's photos wrote: 'Disgusting. Would have been a more meaningful 40 if you took that money and helped families ruined by COVID. Your families selfishness never ceases to amaze me'

One person who saw Kim's photos wrote: 'Disgusting. Would have been a more meaningful 40 if you took that money and helped families ruined by COVID. Your families selfishness never ceases to amaze me'

One person who saw Kim’s photos wrote: ‘Disgusting. Would have been a more meaningful 40 if you took that money and helped families ruined by COVID. Your families selfishness never ceases to amaze me’

Still, one hopes that this clumsy display of selfish nonsense might clear the rosy fog of awe from the gaze of their fans. 

The Kardashians in general, and Kim in particular, have made millions marketing themselves to a young and impressionable audience who buy into their lifestyle and purchase their products.

Now we can see that beneath the glamour, decency and empathy towards their fellow human beings are in very short supply.

Ironically, Covid has a way of unmasking celebrities, revealing those who care and those who care only for themselves. 

The crust breaks and you look down into depths of ignorance, selfishness and entitlement that are frankly breathtaking.

From princeling to professional victim

Prince Harry has made another broadcast from his sofa. ‘Ignorance is no longer an excuse,’ he began, though it has served him perfectly well until this point.

Earnestly assessing his own bias on issues of race and class for GQ magazine, Harry said it had taken him many years to recognise his own unconscious prejudices. 

‘Having had the upbringing and the education I have, I had no idea what it was, I had no idea it existed.’

This piety is getting really tiresome. 

Prince Harry has made another broadcast from his sofa. 'Ignorance is no longer an excuse,' he began, though it has served him perfectly well until this point

Prince Harry has made another broadcast from his sofa. 'Ignorance is no longer an excuse,' he began, though it has served him perfectly well until this point

Prince Harry has made another broadcast from his sofa. ‘Ignorance is no longer an excuse,’ he began, though it has served him perfectly well until this point

For one would have thought that wearing a Nazi uniform to a fancy dress party and calling a colleague ‘P*ki’ — as he famously did — would have given the boy-princeling a wee pointer towards the flaws in his character. But no.

He seems keen to be seen to lightly flagellate himself for past ‘unconscious’ sins, while slyly blaming the British Establishment rather than himself.

It seems to have escaped Harry that there are millions of young men, with or without the benefit of his privileged background, who would never dream of doing or saying such awful things. 

But he is now a professional victim: a man-child who won’t take responsibility for his dubious choices and blames everyone else instead.

Tupperware is having a lockdown boom. Sales are rocketing as people cook from home and need something for the leftovers. 

I think my mother has some original Tupperware boxes from the 1960s. We should call them the Anton Du Bekes — slightly greying, but indestructible. 

What on earth did housewives use before Tupperware? 

Apparently, many used shower caps popped over bowls to keep food fresh — ugh! Next you’ll be telling me they strained yoghurt and jam through their tights! 

Tupperware is having a lockdown boom. Sales are rocketing as people cook from home and need something for the leftovers

Tupperware is having a lockdown boom. Sales are rocketing as people cook from home and need something for the leftovers

Tupperware is having a lockdown boom. Sales are rocketing as people cook from home and need something for the leftovers

Devastating news about Tracey Emin and her ‘bad cancer’. 

In a newspaper interview, she makes brave jokes — but admits that at one point thought she wouldn’t make it till Christmas.

The devoted party girl’s remorse about her lifestyle is particularly sad.

‘There are things I regret in my life that I can’t turn back on, I can’t change. I just wish I hadn’t spent so much time drinking and smoking. 

And partying — yeah, definitely. Really wish I could turn the clock back on that one,’ she said.

It makes some of her neon artworks even more haunting and piercing.

‘I whisper to my past, do I have another choice’ reads one she made in 2010. Another simply urges: Be Brave.

Devastating news about Tracey Emin and her 'bad cancer'. In a newspaper interview, she makes brave jokes — but admits that at one point thought she wouldn't make it till Christmas

Devastating news about Tracey Emin and her 'bad cancer'. In a newspaper interview, she makes brave jokes — but admits that at one point thought she wouldn't make it till Christmas

Devastating news about Tracey Emin and her ‘bad cancer’. In a newspaper interview, she makes brave jokes — but admits that at one point thought she wouldn’t make it till Christmas

I’m not falling for Lay Lady Babs 

Excuse me. Where is the actual proof that Bob Dylan wrote Lay Lady Lay about Barbra Streisand? He admired her, yes. 

He once sent her flowers, yes. There was even a note to her in his archives, but it hardly bristled with passion.

‘You are my favourite star,’ he wrote. ‘Your self-determination, wit, temperament and sense of justice have always appealed to me.’

Where is the actual proof that Bob Dylan wrote Lay Lady Lay about Barbra Streisand. Pictured: Streisand as Doris in The Owl and the Pussycat

Where is the actual proof that Bob Dylan wrote Lay Lady Lay about Barbra Streisand. Pictured: Streisand as Doris in The Owl and the Pussycat

Where is the actual proof that Bob Dylan wrote Lay Lady Lay about Barbra Streisand. Pictured: Streisand as Doris in The Owl and the Pussycat

Hmmm. Not exactly throbbing with loins aflame, is it? It sounds more like an homage to Officer Dibble on Top Cat than a declaration of sexual intent. 

Nothing in the note comes close to echoing the desire that smokes through Lay Lady Lay’s lyrics: ‘I long to see you in the morning light, I long to reach for you in the night.’

I prefer to believe Dylan was writing about all women, not just Miss Streisand. Although it is all in the ear of the beholder.

My friend, Joyce, thought it was about a charlady folding sheets. 

And for years I thought Neil Young’s The Needle And The Damage Done — about injecting heroin — was a lecture on taking care of your LPs. We were so innocent in Dundee!

Terrible modern conundrum for Bond star Naomie Harris, who was brought up by her single mother in a two-bedroom council flat in North London before securing a place at Cambridge.

Good for clever Naomie — who didn’t enjoy her time there — but where does that leave her in the snakes and ladders of contemporary wokeism? 

Should she play down her humble roots and talk up her posh education? 

Should she claim the usual victimhood of being female, while keeping the spotlight on her mixed Caribbean heritage? What is a girl to do? A mixture of it all, it seems.

Terrible modern conundrum for Bond star Naomie Harris, who was brought up by her single mother in a two-bedroom council flat in North London before securing a place at Cambridge

Terrible modern conundrum for Bond star Naomie Harris, who was brought up by her single mother in a two-bedroom council flat in North London before securing a place at Cambridge

Terrible modern conundrum for Bond star Naomie Harris, who was brought up by her single mother in a two-bedroom council flat in North London before securing a place at Cambridge

Be quiet, please. For audio books are not for me. There are too many voices in my head already to add an author crunching through the pages of their latest opus. 

I prefer reading books at my own pace, lingering over some passages and speeding lickety-split over others when it gets a bit boring.

However, I’ll make an exception for actor Matthew McConaughey. He has written his autobiography, Green Lights, and an audio version is available. 

Be still my beating eardrum. ‘It is about how to be a good man, how to be more me,’ he narrates; the sexy rumble of his Texan accent irresistible.

He has kept a diary for 35 of his 50 years and has ‘no interest in sentimentality or advice’. He just wants to share insights with y’all.

‘I’ve earned a few scars getting through this rodeo of humanity,’ he drawls.

Read on, Matthew. I’m all yours . . . sorry, I mean I’m all ears.

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Was agent Stakeknife a hero or a renegade? He was a spy for Britain at the very heart of the IRA

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was agent stakeknife a hero or a renegade he was a spy for britain at the very heart of the ira

Late last month it was announced there would be no further prosecutions of British Army veterans in relation to Bloody Sunday.

The shooting dead of 13 civilians by members of the Parachute Regiment during a civil rights demonstration in 1972 was one of the most controversial episodes in Northern Ireland‘s ‘Troubles’.

But one criminal investigation into the military’s role in that brutal conflict is still ongoing.

For the past four years, Operation Kenova has been looking at the activities of the Army’s super-agent inside the IRA, codenamed ‘Stakeknife’.

He was a key figure in the ‘secret war’ waged against the paramilitaries. Yesterday, Northern Ireland’s Public Prosecution Service announced its first decision based on the Kenova findings.

For the past four years, Operation Kenova has been looking at the activities of the Army's super-agent inside the IRA, codenamed 'Stakeknife'. That person — though he has always denied it — is widely believed to be Freddie Scappaticci. Pictured: Scappaticci walking behind Gerry Adams (right) at the 1988 funeral of IRA man Brendan Davidson

For the past four years, Operation Kenova has been looking at the activities of the Army's super-agent inside the IRA, codenamed 'Stakeknife'. That person — though he has always denied it — is widely believed to be Freddie Scappaticci. Pictured: Scappaticci walking behind Gerry Adams (right) at the 1988 funeral of IRA man Brendan Davidson

For the past four years, Operation Kenova has been looking at the activities of the Army’s super-agent inside the IRA, codenamed ‘Stakeknife’. That person — though he has always denied it — is widely believed to be Freddie Scappaticci. Pictured: Scappaticci walking behind Gerry Adams (right) at the 1988 funeral of IRA man Brendan Davidson

The man who is believed to be Stakeknife, and three others including two former MI5 officers and a senior prosecutor, will not be charged with perjury or misconduct in public office because of ‘insufficient evidence’. 

Further files presented by the Kenova team are still being considered by the PPS.

As Kenova nears its conclusion, the Mail’s own investigation has spoken to a number of former soldiers who worked undercover in Northern Ireland, recruiting and handling IRA agents like Stakeknife. 

Their testimony — never before told — throws new light on a disturbing chapter.

It is long after midnight on Carlingford Lough, through which runs the most easterly border between the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland.

All is quiet save for the slapping of the waves. But there is a deadly intent abroad; both on land and water. 

Aboard a darkened vessel lying at anchor half a mile offshore, a Special Forces sniper lies in wait. Beside him is an officer from a British Army intelligence unit.

His HQ has told him that a local IRA quartermaster is about to retrieve a Bushmaster hunting rifle from a hide in Rostrevor Wood, which fringes the lough on the County Down side.

So sensitive — and detailed — was the inside information that neither the sniper nor the intelligence officer were briefed on their mission until they stepped aboard the boat.

‘HQ knew exactly who the IRA man was, what kind of weapon he was fetching, where it was buried and what it was intended for,’ the intelligence officer recalls. 

‘I was told that, once recovered, the rifle was going to be handed over to an [IRA] Active Service Unit, which would then use it for an imminent assassination attempt on a senior RUC [Royal Ulster Constabulary] officer in X [I have excised the location for reasons which will become apparent].

‘This was an opportunity for a pre-emptive shoot.’

The hunter had become the hunted.

All went as predicted. ‘[Using night vision equipment] we watched him digging up the weapon and then zeroing it [shooting to test accuracy] against trees in the wood.’

But they still had to get permission to shoot him.

The man who is believed to be Stakeknife, and three others including two former MI5 officers and a senior prosecutor, will not be charged with perjury or misconduct in public office because of 'insufficient evidence'

The man who is believed to be Stakeknife, and three others including two former MI5 officers and a senior prosecutor, will not be charged with perjury or misconduct in public office because of 'insufficient evidence'

The man who is believed to be Stakeknife, and three others including two former MI5 officers and a senior prosecutor, will not be charged with perjury or misconduct in public office because of ‘insufficient evidence’

‘The situation did not fall within the British Army’s rules of engagement in Northern Ireland,’ says the intelligence officer. 

‘Was the IRA man threatening life at that moment? No. But this was not a standard operation. 

‘This was being run under a different set of rules. ‘Big boys’ rules’, as they have been called.

‘We had to get the green light from a call sign at Force HQ in Lisburn. The request was then patched over to London. 

‘In other words, to shoot this man was also a political decision.’

The tension mounted. The secure radio link faded in and out. The boat was shifting. They feared being spotted by local fishermen. 

‘Then the word came through. ‘No shoot.’ I said to the sniper, ‘Off target’, we upped anchor and were gone.’

He pauses. He adds: ‘I do know that within 24 to 36 hours a senior RUC in X was shot by the IRA with a similar, if not the same, rifle.’

The incident took place almost 40 years ago but this story, like others we can reveal today, has not been told until now.

Of course, the obvious question, which has lingered down the years, is this: ‘Why was the sniper ordered to hold fire?’

A plausible answer is he was told not to shoot in order to protect the source of the tip-off that had led to the potential ambush; to protect the British Army’s informant inside the IRA. 

To have shot the quartermaster in Rostrevor Wood that night might have blown his cover.

It is possible that all the relevant factors had been weighed in the balance and, at the last minute, senior figures had decided that to lose the agent was too high a price to pay in the long term. 

Even at the potential cost of a policeman’s life.

Scappaticci was born 73 years ago in South Belfast

Scappaticci was born 73 years ago in South Belfast

Scappaticci was born 73 years ago in South Belfast

That sounds incredible. But it sometimes happened. Certainly it seems to have happened repeatedly in the case of the super-agent codenamed Stakeknife. 

It might even have been Stakeknife himself who tipped off his handlers about the Bushmaster rifle plot.

Stakeknife sounds quite the hero. 

In fact, multiple sources agree that he was one of the cruellest and most bloodstained figures in the history of the conflict in Ulster. And his legacy refuses to go away.

Save for a rump of dissidents, the Troubles ended with the IRA ceasefire in 1994, the peace being formalised by the Good Friday Agreement four years later.

But after more than 3,000 military, civilian and paramilitary deaths and disappearances, many of them unsolved, a line could not be drawn neatly under three decades of mayhem. 

The families of victims whose killers had gone unpunished wanted justice. Or at least explanations.

Last month saw the announcement by prosecutors in Northern Ireland of their decision not to bring charges against any more than one former member of the Parachute Regiment in relation to the Bloody Sunday shootings in 1972.

But another criminal inquiry into the behaviour of the British Army in Northern Ireland remains ongoing. 

Operation Kenova is ‘an investigation into the activities of the person known as Stakeknife’.

That person — though he has always denied it — is widely believed to be Freddie Scappaticci. 

He has been living in necessarily discreet exile from his native Northern Ireland for almost two decades.

The indications are that Kenova, which began in 2016 and is led by the former Bedfordshire Chief Constable Jon Boutcher, is about to blow Stakeknife’s cover.

To quote Kenova’s own terms of reference: ‘The focus of this investigation is to ascertain whether there is evidence of the commission of criminal offences by the alleged agent including, but not limited to, murders, attempted murders or unlawful imprisonments attributed to the Provisional IRA.’

It will also look at whether there is evidence of criminal offences having been committed by members of the British Army, the security services or other government personnel.’

The potential for a sensational final reckoning that is deeply damaging to figures on all sides in the Troubles, is obvious.

Mr Boutcher said in December 2018 that the evidence he had gathered was of ‘prosecution standard’. 

In our own investigation into this secret, if not ‘dirty’, war, we have spoken to a number of former soldiers who served in undercover intelligence units in Ulster, recruiting and running double agents like Stakeknife. 

They have never spoken before. Their stories paint a compelling picture of extreme danger, ruthless and brutal decision-making, inter-unit rivalry and blurred moral boundaries.

Scappaticci was born 73 years ago in South Belfast, the son of Italian immigrants. ‘Scap’, as he is known in Republican circles, was said to have joined the IRA in 1969. 

In the summer of 1971 he was one of hundreds of Republican activists and paramilitaries interned in Long Kesh (known as The Maze prison). 

Many of these internees — such as Gerry Adams — would later rise to the top of the IRA and Sinn Fein.

By the time of his release in 1974, Scap’s credentials in the terrorist organisation were secured. 

A violent-tempered individual, Scap was in time promoted to the IRA’s feared internal security unit. 

Last month saw the announcement by prosecutors in Northern Ireland of their decision not to bring charges against any more than one former member of the Parachute Regiment in relation to the Bloody Sunday shootings in 1972

Last month saw the announcement by prosecutors in Northern Ireland of their decision not to bring charges against any more than one former member of the Parachute Regiment in relation to the Bloody Sunday shootings in 1972

Last month saw the announcement by prosecutors in Northern Ireland of their decision not to bring charges against any more than one former member of the Parachute Regiment in relation to the Bloody Sunday shootings in 1972

Its members were tasked with examining why operations had gone wrong and winkling out informers — or ‘touts’ — within the ranks. 

This is why they were nicknamed the Nutting Squad.

Once a tout confessed to betraying secrets to the Brits, he or she would invariably get a bullet in the back of the head — the ‘nut’. 

Using fists, hot plates, pokers and other implements of torture, the Nutting Squad was said to be excellent at securing confessions. 

Scap eventually became the unit’s second in command. 

The irony being that he was, it seems, the greatest tout of them all. How could the British Army have hoped to recruit a hardline Republican like Scap?

Such attempts presented grave risks. A former undercover soldier told me of one failure that ended in a bloodbath. 

He was sent to rendezvous with a young man on the fringes of the IRA who had been judged a potential recruit.

‘I had never met the “asset” before,’ he recalls. ‘Someone in the RUC had made the initial contact. 

‘Such [an operation] is so compartmentalised you only know the part you were supposed to play, because if you get [abducted by the Provos] that is all you can tell them.’ 

With any asset your job at first is to encourage a rapport and to gauge motive. I was the what we called ‘the icebreaker’. And if all went well I would become his handler.

 

‘Anyway, I walked into a trap. When I arrived in the pub, as arranged, he was clearly on edge. 

‘But that is quite normal in these situations so I dismissed it. Your job is to make them feel comfortable. 

‘We sat down together. Then I saw that he was really very sweaty, very nervous. It wasn’t right. 

‘With hindsight, I should have got up and left right there. Then three known [IRA] players walked in and I knew for sure I was in the s***.’

As the soldier began to look for an escape route the ‘asset’ pulled a gun and shot him at point-blank range. 

‘He was aiming for my head but because I was leaning back and turning he only got me in the neck.’

What did he do? His answer is matter-of-fact. ‘I drew my own gun and sent him to Milltown’ — that’s the Belfast cemetery where IRA volunteers are buried.

Bleeding profusely, the undercover soldier exchanged further shots with the other IRA men before escaping. It was his last undercover job in the province.

Scap’s alleged recruitment was down to the character of another undercover soldier who secured his cooperation.

It has been suggested that Scap had nursed a grievance after a beating at the hands of another IRA man. 

But several sources support the story that an NCO from the Devon and Dorset Regiment who won the Queen’s Gallantry Medal and George Medal for his agent work in Ulster was the deciding factor. 

The indications are that Kenova, which began in 2016 and is led by the former Bedfordshire Chief Constable Jon Boutcher (pictured), is about to blow Stakeknife's cover

The indications are that Kenova, which began in 2016 and is led by the former Bedfordshire Chief Constable Jon Boutcher (pictured), is about to blow Stakeknife's cover

The indications are that Kenova, which began in 2016 and is led by the former Bedfordshire Chief Constable Jon Boutcher (pictured), is about to blow Stakeknife’s cover

He simply had a gift for cultivating friendship and trust.

‘That was how it happened,’ a former colleague claims. ‘There were other factors too but it was essentially “pilotage”. 

You are gently holding the tiller and steering them towards a desired course of action.’

Given the codename Stakeknife, Scap reportedly came to be controlled by a section of the Intelligence Corps called the Force Research Unit (FRU), based in a manor house in Kent.

Stakeknife was not simply their star. 

Among competing intelligence agencies such as MI5, Special Branch and the 14 Intelligence Company (known as ‘the Det’), who did not always share the information or assets they had separately acquired, Stakeknife was the ‘jewel in the crown’ of British penetration of the IRA.

But this success presented a fundamental moral dilemma.

As former FRU handler Ian Hurst has pointed out in his book Stakeknife, which he wrote under a pseudonym, no one can be at the heart of a criminal organisation without committing offences.

‘Handlers of all services have recruited killers . . . throughout the Troubles,’ wrote the eventually disillusioned Hurst, some of whose claims have been questioned by former colleagues. 

‘This practice . . . is truly appalling when members of the security services know their agents are killing people and they do nothing about it.’

Stakeknife’s inside information saved lives, it has been claimed. But that was only part of a bigger, grimmer picture. Because he and his unit were also taking lives.

Informers or not, many of his alleged victims were IRA men; members of an organisation committed to murder to further their cause. 

If one of them ended up dead, trussed and naked with a bag over his head in a country lane, bearing the marks of torture, then few tears would be shed in the FRU or elsewhere.

But there were also civilians from the nationalist community who were providing information to the authorities until they were lifted by the Nutting Squad.

What is truly dizzying about the allegations made by Hurst and others is that a British agent — Stakeknife — was effectively being allowed to torture and kill other British informants in order to maintain his privileged position within the IRA.

A number of cases stand out as being remarkable. Frank Hegarty was the IRA Northern Command’s quartermaster and recruited by the FRU. 

The scale of this coup was confirmed when Hegarty told his handlers about a shipment of arms from Libya, which arrived in the Republic in late 1985. 

The British Army tipped off the Irish police. More than 100 assault rifles and thousands of rounds of ammunition were seized.

Thus compromised, Hegarty was whisked to a safe house in England. 

But he grew homesick and, allegedly encouraged by soothing telephone conversations with IRA/Sinn Fein supremo Martin McGuinness, he returned to Derry. 

There, he was abducted, ‘interrogated’ and killed by the Nutting Squad. Hurst claims that Stakeknife told his handler it was he who had ‘nutted’ the other FRU agent. 

Last night, Hegarty’s son Ryan declined to comment.

Joseph Fenton was an estate agent who lent properties to the IRA and allowed the RUC Special Branch to bug them.

Under early suspicion of being a British informant, he allegedly implicated a married couple, Gerard and Catherine Mahon, who were also acting as RUC informers. 

They were executed by the Nutting Squad. 

Fenton was later rumbled and confessed before being murdered; again, allegedly, by Stakeknife, who had apparently warned his own handlers to no effect what was about to happen.

Tom Oliver was a farmer and father of seven from the Cooley Peninsula on the other side of Carlingford Lough from Rostrevor Wood. 

A law-abiding man, he tipped off the Irish police about IRA activity in his area. An IRA-bugged pay-phone did for Farmer Oliver. 

In 1991 he was horribly tortured and killed, allegedly by Stakeknife’s men. Another informant had died.

Would Stakeknife really have been allowed such freedom from prosecution? A former Army agent handler told me: ‘Back then you did sometimes wonder why a particular individual had not been lifted [arrested].

‘But if you have a strategic asset as important as Stakeknife, you must balance how important that asset is [in the long term] against how far you will have to go to protect him. 

‘It would not be unthinkable for him to be completely protected. I know it was done for other people.’

Freddie Scappaticci was finally arrested in his provincial English safe house by Kenova detectives in 2018. There was an unexpected outcome from their search of his premises.

In December that year he appeared before Westminster magistrates and admitted two counts of possessing extreme pornography, some involving animals. 

He received a three-month jail sentence, suspended for a year.

‘You have not been before the court for 50 years — and that’s good character in my book,’ the magistrate told him.

That got a laugh in the drinking dens of Belfast where this week the Mail spoke to those who knew something of Scap. They believe that Kenova will be allowed to wither and die.

One Republican who had once ‘run with Scap’ rubbished the idea of a high-profile trial because it would ‘expose all the touts who put Scap in place and who are still in place themselves. 

The Brits aren’t going down that road. Plus it would mean if he was charged, his handlers would have to be charged, and then their bosses, so it’s going nowhere’.

He said Scap ‘did many, many stiffs himself’. But as an agent he had legal clearance.

A spokesman for Kenova repeated a statement first put out almost two years ago, saying: ‘[We have] now gathered more than 12,000 documents, secured 1,000 statements and conducted 129 interviews with witnesses, victims and families resulting in more than 6,000 investigative actions for the team.’

A former member of ‘the Det’ remarked: ‘Why rake over these coals? It’s over. Put it behind us and move on.’

Mr Boutcher and his Operation Kenova is determined those coals won’t grow cold yet.

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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