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Researcher’s ‘relief’ at arrest of Tory MP accused of rape

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researchers relief at arrest of tory mp accused of rape

The woman who has accused a Tory MP of rape last night claimed that ministers care more about protecting him and the party than about safeguarding victims.

The former Parliamentary researcher in her 20s told of her relief after learning that the ex-minister was arrested at the weekend.

But she said she was ‘devastated’ when the Conservatives decided not to suspend the MP, who cannot be named for legal reasons. 

The alleged victim, who also cannot be named, said senior ministers ‘seem to care more about protecting the MP and the party than protecting victims and other women’.

She told ITV News: ‘It’s taken me a long time to build up the courage and strength to finally go to the police. It was a relief…to see he was arrested so quickly.’

The woman raised her allegations with Conservative chief whip Mark Spencer in April but claims he did not take any action or encourage her to contact police.

She accused him of evading questions about when he would suspend the whip from the MP, adding: ‘I felt like he did not take me seriously or recognise the severity of what had happened.’

Claire Waxman, the victims' commissioner for London, said not suspending the MP sends the wrong message

Claire Waxman, the victims' commissioner for London, said not suspending the MP sends the wrong message

Former deputy chief whip Anne Milton urged the senior Tory MP accused of rape to give up the whip voluntarily

Former deputy chief whip Anne Milton urged the senior Tory MP accused of rape to give up the whip voluntarily

Claire Waxman, the victims’ commissioner for London (left), said not suspending the MP sends the wrong message, while former deputy chief whip Anne Milton (right) urged the senior Tory MP accused of rape to give up the whip voluntarily 

It is understood Mr Spencer does not believe that a sexual assault was reported to him in their conversation, but he acknowledges that she told him of abusive behaviour and threats.  He suggested that she take her allegations to the appropriate authority.

The woman said: ‘I feel like the chief whip has never taken my allegations seriously or even cared. Since the news of the arrest the chief whip – or anyone from the party – has not contacted me at all, not to…offer support or anything.’

Mr Spencer yesterday insisted that the allegations against the MP are being taken ‘very seriously’ as the party came under increasing pressure over its decision not to withdraw the whip.

Boris Johnson was accused of ‘reneging’ on his promise to take sexual harassment complaints seriously. 

Former Tory deputy chief whip Anne Milton urged the MP to act voluntarily. She said: ‘Giving up the whip is a serious step. It would provide an appropriate way forward and should not be considered an admission of guilt.’

Mrs Milton told The Times: ‘In any other profession it wouldn’t happen that a person suspected of a crime would be carrying on as normal.’

Claire Waxman, the victims’ commissioner for London, quoted the Prime Minister. 

The accuser has raised her allegations with Conservative chief whip Mark Spencer (pictured today) in April but claims he did not take any action or encourage her to contact police

The accuser has raised her allegations with Conservative chief whip Mark Spencer (pictured today) in April but claims he did not take any action or encourage her to contact police

The accuser has raised her allegations with Conservative chief whip Mark Spencer (pictured today) in April but claims he did not take any action or encourage her to contact police

She said: ‘”Women must have the confidence that crimes, domestic violence and sexual abuse, are treated seriously” said Boris Johnson last year. 

‘However, not suspending an MP accused of rape while investigations are ongoing conveys a different message.’

MPs have previously chosen to suspend themselves after being accused of wrongdoing. 

Conservative Nigel Evans gave up the whip and the deputy speaker role in 2013 as he faced allegations of sexual assault. 

He was later cleared and recently became deputy speaker again. Amy Leversidge, of the FDA civil service union, said: ‘If this scenario occurred in any other workplace it would be quite reasonable and proportionate for the employer to suspend the individual to allow an investigation to take place. 

‘At this stage, it isn’t about guilt or innocence but rather a duty of care to everyone involved.’ 

Tory MP Caroline Nokes, chairman of the Women and Equalities Committee, called for reform of the system for making complaints against MPs. 

She said: ‘There needs to be a simple, well-publicised and known process for this sort of incident to be reported. 

‘It should not be reliant on a young (because many staff in Westminster are young) man or woman having to make their way to the chief whip, who can be a very daunting figure, or to the Leader of the House – whose very job title makes them sound remote from most people’s experiences.

‘I have long thought there needs to be a system whereby staff are directly employed by IPSA [Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority], giving them a direct route to complain to their employer who is then not the MP.

‘In any large organisation there needs to be a transparent process whereby a complaint can easily be made and, whilst Parliament has made progress, I am far from convinced we yet have a system that is fit for 2020.’ 

One senior female Tory MP said: ‘Of course, the MP should be suspended if there’s no way of identifying the victim.’

Labour said it sent a ‘terrible message’ that senior figures were able to secure ‘protection’ through their Westminster status.

Yesterday Mr Spencer said the police must carry out their investigation before ‘we can assess where we’re at’. 

He stressed: ‘I think it is down to the police to do that thorough investigation, not for the whips office to investigate this alleged crime.’

On Friday police received allegations relating to four incidents in London. They said a man was arrested on Saturday on suspicion of rape. 

He has been bailed until mid-August. The MP is accused of coercing the woman into sex while they were in a relationship. 

Chief whip Mark Spencer ‘knew senior Tory MP accused of rape was in a sexual relationship with woman – but was unaware of any allegations of sexual assault after she complained in April’

By James Tapsfield, political editor for MailOnline

Chief whip Mark Spencer today stood by his decision not to suspend the senior Tory MP arrested on suspicion of rape.

The party is under mounting pressure, including from the alleged victim, to strip the ex-minister of the Conservative whip.

But Mr Spencer said it was right to allow the police to conclude their investigation before taking any action, while also stressing the need to protect the identity of the accuser.

The former parliamentary researcher in her 20s has alleged she was assaulted and forced to have sex.

She claims that she was left so traumatised by their relationship last year that she ended up in hospital. 

Defending his handling of the case, Mr Spencer today said: ‘They are very serious allegations and we do take those allegations very seriously.

‘I think it is down to the police to do that thorough investigation, not for the Whips Office to investigate this alleged crime, it is for the police and the authorities to do that.

‘Once they’ve come to that conclusion, then we can assess where we’re at and the position that the MP find themselves in.’     

Opposition politicians have condemned the ‘shocking’ decision not to withdraw the whip from the MP. London’s Victims Commissioner, Claire Waxman, accused Boris Johnson of breaking a vow to treat abuse against women ‘seriously’.

However, a senior Tory source told MailOnline that suspending the MP would inevitably lead to them being identified. 

It was claimed today the Chief Whip was aware the MP was in a sexual relationship with a woman when she made a complaint about his behaviour – but not that there was an allegation of sexual assault.

Sources insisted that when Mr Spencer spoke to the woman in April he was not told of any accusation of serious sexual abuse by the unnamed former minister. 

A spokesman for Mr Spencer said: ‘The Chief Whip takes all allegations of harassment and abuse extremely seriously and has strongly encouraged anybody who has approached him to contact the appropriate authorities, including Parliament’s Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme, which can formally carry out independent and confidential investigations.’

Mr Spencer is understood to be adamant that when he spoke to the woman she did not refer to any ‘serious sexual abuse’.

However, sources confirmed he was aware that the pair had a sexual relationship.

The alleged victim has hit out at the party for not taking swift action, telling The Times: ‘It’s insulting and shows they never cared.’ 

Women within the Tory ranks are demanding the Party takes action after a former Conservative MP was last week convicted of sexual assault in a separate case.

An ex-Tory minister told the Daily Telegraph: ‘I’m surprised the whip hasn’t been removed considering what happened to Charlie Elphicke. I think the chief has a lot to answer for.’

Opposition politicians have condemned the 'shocking' decision not to withdraw the whip from the MP. Pictured, the Houses of Parliament today

Opposition politicians have condemned the 'shocking' decision not to withdraw the whip from the MP. Pictured, the Houses of Parliament today

Opposition politicians have condemned the ‘shocking’ decision not to withdraw the whip from the MP. Pictured, the Houses of Parliament today

The PM told MPs last year women ‘must have the confidence that crimes, domestic violence and sexual abuse, are treated seriously by our law enforcement system’.

Bur Ms Waxman warned on Twitter that ‘not suspending an MP accused of rape while investigations are ongoing conveys a different message’.

Asked about the situation in a round of interviews this morning, business minister Nadhim Zahawi told Sky News he did not know the details of the investigation.

‘There’s a victim here as well. I think it’s a right for us to wait until the police can do their investigation, and then you’ll be hearing from the chief whip as to what action will be taken,’ he said.

Supporters of the accused MP, who cannot be named, say he ‘totally’ denies the allegations after he was questioned and bailed by police. He has also been given the ‘100 per cent’ backing of his local party. 

In a statement issued by the former minister’s local association, its chairman said the MP disputed the allegations.

‘[The MP] has made us aware of allegations made against him,’ they said.

‘He denies these totally. And this association give him our 100 per cent support.

‘Some of the officers of this association have known him for around 25 years and from our knowledge of him in a political and personal capacity we can’t accept that there is any truth whatsoever in these accusations.’ 

The Metropolitan Police said it had received allegations on Friday of sexual offences and assault relating to four separate incidents at addresses in London, including in Westminster, between July last year and January this year.

A spokesman said: ‘The Met has launched an investigation into the allegations.’ 

A man in his 50s was arrested on suspicion of rape and was taken into custody at an east London police station, the force added. He was later released on bail to a date in mid-August.

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Terror of the e-scooters: Owners post guides showing how to override software to hit 40mph 

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terror of the e scooters owners post guides showing how to override software to hit 40mph

Electric scooter owners are offering online guides showing users how to override the devices’ speed-limiting software to reach up to 40mph.

A Mail on Sunday investigation has unearthed dozens of shocking video tutorials encouraging riders to manipulate the battery-powered vehicles and break the law. 

In one clip, a British rider promises viewers that their scooter will ‘go like a rocket’. ‘I don’t think you would feel safe going any faster but it’s so much fun,’ he adds.

Rental e-scooters were made legal on some roads in Britain this summer with their speed capped at 15.5mph.

Electric scooter owners are offering online guides showing users how to override the devices’ speed-limiting software to reach up to 40mph. An e-scooter user is seen riding through the pedestrianised town centre of Middlesbrough

Electric scooter owners are offering online guides showing users how to override the devices’ speed-limiting software to reach up to 40mph. An e-scooter user is seen riding through the pedestrianised town centre of Middlesbrough

Electric scooter owners are offering online guides showing users how to override the devices’ speed-limiting software to reach up to 40mph. An e-scooter user is seen riding through the pedestrianised town centre of Middlesbrough 

But our investigation has revealed how, with just a few taps of the device, owners can easily hack into the software and increase the top speed of some of the most popular scooters sold in the UK.

One British e-scooter owner, Dave Samuel, released a video showing viewers how to ‘unlock’ the Inokim OXO Electric Scooter, a popular model on sale in the UK for £1,300.

‘I’m making this video on how to derestrict the scooter from its factory setting of 15mph to full blown 40mph,’ he says, before giving detailed, step-by-step instructions about how to remove the limiter.

In a separate video, another Briton, Duncan Smith, reveals how to ‘hack’ the top speeds for the Xiaomi M365 scooter, another popular model available for £469 in Halfords.

‘By unlocking the scooter, by which I mean the speed limit that’s on it, you can go a little bit faster. I say a little bit faster but I mean this scooter will go like a rocket,’ he says.

In the clip, which sees Smith whizzing along public pavements – which is illegal – and weaving between young children, he explains how users can remove the software that limits the speed to 15mph and reach top speeds of 22mph. 

‘In my opinion, this is the hack that makes buying the Xiaomi Pro an absolute no-brainer compared to other more expensive e-scooters. Once you release the speed limiter on this thing it feels like a proper little rocket. I don’t even think you would feel safe going any faster but it’s so much fun.’ 

In a third video, a user explains how a Kaabo Electric Scooter, which sell in the UK for about £500, can be hacked so it reaches speeds of 25mph. In the comments sections of the video, one person wrote: ‘Just hacked my scooter! It really worked! I’m going rocket speed now.’

Last night, campaigners warned that the ‘hacks’ would lead to even more accidents and injuries on the roads. 

Rental e-scooters were made legal on some roads in Britain this summer with their speed capped at 15.5mph [File photo]

Rental e-scooters were made legal on some roads in Britain this summer with their speed capped at 15.5mph [File photo]

Rental e-scooters were made legal on some roads in Britain this summer with their speed capped at 15.5mph [File photo]

Luke Griggs, Deputy Chief Executive of brain injury association Headway, said: ‘It is extremely concerning to see online tutorials explaining how to remove the speed limiters on e-scooters. The production of such videos is irresponsible and is likely to lead to severe injuries and possibly fatalities. Tragically, it is not just the riders that will be placed in danger, it is innocent members of the public.

‘We are already seeing repeated reports of e-scooters being ridden on pavements at excessive speeds, with the most vulnerable in society being placed in harm’s way.’

Last night, Mr Smith said: ‘There are speed limits in public, so anything over 15mph would be for private use on private land. If you choose to break the law and go dangerously fast in public that is not my doing.’

Charity fundraiser, 57, died after he lost control of his e-scooter on a steep hill in the UK’s second such death, inquest hears

  • Barrie Howes, 57, was killed in a freak accident as he travelled home from work 
  • Mr Howes lost control as he travelled down a steep hill, inquest last week heard
  • His death is expected to raise questions on e-scooters on roads at high speeds 

By Jonathan Bucks for the Mail on Sunday 

A prolific charity campaigner suffered a fatal fall from his electric scooter in what is believed to be the second such death in the UK.

Barrie Howes was killed in a freak accident as he travelled home from work after heeding the Government’s call to avoid public transport in the early days of the pandemic.

The 57-year-old engineering instructor’s death is expected to raise questions about the ability of the e-scooters to navigate Britain’s roads at high speeds. 

Barrie Howes was killed in a freak accident as he travelled home from work after heeding the Government’s call to avoid public transport in the early days of the pandemic

Barrie Howes was killed in a freak accident as he travelled home from work after heeding the Government’s call to avoid public transport in the early days of the pandemic

Barrie Howes was killed in a freak accident as he travelled home from work after heeding the Government’s call to avoid public transport in the early days of the pandemic

In July, TV presenter Emily Hartridge, 35, was killed when her e-scooter collided with a lorry in London.

An inquest last week heard Mr Howes lost control as he travelled down Brompton Hill, a steep residential road in Chatham, Kent. He flew off and, despite wearing a helmet, was found by a passer-by suffering from traumatic brain injuries.

Mr Howes was airlifted to hospital in London where his condition deteriorated and he died nine days later on July 3.

Detective Sergeant Michael Champion, of Kent Police, said the scooter had a speed of 10 to 30mph but ‘on a steep incline, it would have increased by going downhill. 

He would have been going at quite a speed when he lost control and crashed’, he added.

The inquest heard Mr Howes was unable to drive because of eye problems and was on medication that meant he was more likely to bleed in an accident. 

His wife of 32 years, Claire, said he had been catching the bus to work ‘but it was really when lockdown started that the Government said avoid public transport if you can and he decided to get the e-scooter.

In July, TV presenter Emily Hartridge, 35, was killed when her e-scooter collided with a lorry in London

In July, TV presenter Emily Hartridge, 35, was killed when her e-scooter collided with a lorry in London

In July, TV presenter Emily Hartridge, 35, was killed when her e-scooter collided with a lorry in London

‘I want to thank the bystanders [who helped], especially at the moment when people don’t want to get too close.’

Mr Howes underwent heart surgery in 2006 and met Princess Anne through his fundraising efforts for the British Heart Foundation. 

As he undertook a charity trek of Peru’s Machu Picchu, he said: ‘It’s an opportunity to make the most of the second chance in life I’ve been given.’

In a public tribute, friend Karen Wood described him as ‘an outstanding pillar of society’. 

Even in death, Mr Howes helped others and his wife told The Mail on Sunday: ‘Some good has come out of the bad. Three of his organs have helped people to live on, his liver and two kidneys have been transplanted.’

A verdict of accidental death was recorded.

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Charity fundraiser, 57, died after he lost control of his e-scooter on a steep hill

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charity fundraiser 57 died after he lost control of his e scooter on a steep hill

A prolific charity campaigner suffered a fatal fall from his electric scooter in what is believed to be the second such death in the UK.

Barrie Howes was killed in a freak accident as he travelled home from work after heeding the Government’s call to avoid public transport in the early days of the pandemic.

The 57-year-old engineering instructor’s death is expected to raise questions about the ability of the e-scooters to navigate Britain’s roads at high speeds. 

Barrie Howes was killed in a freak accident as he travelled home from work after heeding the Government’s call to avoid public transport in the early days of the pandemic

Barrie Howes was killed in a freak accident as he travelled home from work after heeding the Government’s call to avoid public transport in the early days of the pandemic

Barrie Howes was killed in a freak accident as he travelled home from work after heeding the Government’s call to avoid public transport in the early days of the pandemic

In July, TV presenter Emily Hartridge, 35, was killed when her e-scooter collided with a lorry in London.

An inquest last week heard Mr Howes lost control as he travelled down Brompton Hill, a steep residential road in Chatham, Kent. He flew off and, despite wearing a helmet, was found by a passer-by suffering from traumatic brain injuries.

Mr Howes was airlifted to hospital in London where his condition deteriorated and he died nine days later on July 3.

Detective Sergeant Michael Champion, of Kent Police, said the scooter had a speed of 10 to 30mph but ‘on a steep incline, it would have increased by going downhill. 

He would have been going at quite a speed when he lost control and crashed’, he added.

The inquest heard Mr Howes was unable to drive because of eye problems and was on medication that meant he was more likely to bleed in an accident. 

His wife of 32 years, Claire, said he had been catching the bus to work ‘but it was really when lockdown started that the Government said avoid public transport if you can and he decided to get the e-scooter.

In July, TV presenter Emily Hartridge, 35, was killed when her e-scooter collided with a lorry in London

In July, TV presenter Emily Hartridge, 35, was killed when her e-scooter collided with a lorry in London

In July, TV presenter Emily Hartridge, 35, was killed when her e-scooter collided with a lorry in London

‘I want to thank the bystanders [who helped], especially at the moment when people don’t want to get too close.’

Mr Howes underwent heart surgery in 2006 and met Princess Anne through his fundraising efforts for the British Heart Foundation. 

As he undertook a charity trek of Peru’s Machu Picchu, he said: ‘It’s an opportunity to make the most of the second chance in life I’ve been given.’

In a public tribute, friend Karen Wood described him as ‘an outstanding pillar of society’. 

Even in death, Mr Howes helped others and his wife told The Mail on Sunday: ‘Some good has come out of the bad. Three of his organs have helped people to live on, his liver and two kidneys have been transplanted.’

A verdict of accidental death was recorded.

Terror of the e-scooters: Owners post guides showing how to override speed-limiting software to hit 40mph

  • Dozens of shocking video tutorials encourage riders to manipulate e-scooters 
  • In one clip a British rider promises viewers that their scooter will ‘go like a rocket’
  • Owners can hack into the software and increase the top speed in just a few taps

By Holly Bancroft for the Mail on Sunday 

Electric scooter owners are offering online guides showing users how to override the devices’ speed-limiting software to reach up to 40mph.

A Mail on Sunday investigation has unearthed dozens of shocking video tutorials encouraging riders to manipulate the battery-powered vehicles and break the law. 

In one clip, a British rider promises viewers that their scooter will ‘go like a rocket’. ‘I don’t think you would feel safe going any faster but it’s so much fun,’ he adds.

Rental e-scooters were made legal on some roads in Britain this summer with their speed capped at 15.5mph.

Electric scooter owners are offering online guides showing users how to override the devices’ speed-limiting software to reach up to 40mph. An e-scooter user is seen riding through the pedestrianised town centre of Middlesbrough

Electric scooter owners are offering online guides showing users how to override the devices’ speed-limiting software to reach up to 40mph. An e-scooter user is seen riding through the pedestrianised town centre of Middlesbrough

Electric scooter owners are offering online guides showing users how to override the devices’ speed-limiting software to reach up to 40mph. An e-scooter user is seen riding through the pedestrianised town centre of Middlesbrough 

But our investigation has revealed how, with just a few taps of the device, owners can easily hack into the software and increase the top speed of some of the most popular scooters sold in the UK.

One British e-scooter owner, Dave Samuel, released a video showing viewers how to ‘unlock’ the Inokim OXO Electric Scooter, a popular model on sale in the UK for £1,300.

‘I’m making this video on how to derestrict the scooter from its factory setting of 15mph to full blown 40mph,’ he says, before giving detailed, step-by-step instructions about how to remove the limiter.

In a separate video, another Briton, Duncan Smith, reveals how to ‘hack’ the top speeds for the Xiaomi M365 scooter, another popular model available for £469 in Halfords.

‘By unlocking the scooter, by which I mean the speed limit that’s on it, you can go a little bit faster. I say a little bit faster but I mean this scooter will go like a rocket,’ he says.

Rental e-scooters were made legal on some roads in Britain this summer with their speed capped at 15.5mph [File photo]

Rental e-scooters were made legal on some roads in Britain this summer with their speed capped at 15.5mph [File photo]

Rental e-scooters were made legal on some roads in Britain this summer with their speed capped at 15.5mph [File photo]

In the clip, which sees Smith whizzing along public pavements – which is illegal – and weaving between young children, he explains how users can remove the software that limits the speed to 15mph and reach top speeds of 22mph. 

‘In my opinion, this is the hack that makes buying the Xiaomi Pro an absolute no-brainer compared to other more expensive e-scooters. Once you release the speed limiter on this thing it feels like a proper little rocket. I don’t even think you would feel safe going any faster but it’s so much fun.’ 

In a third video, a user explains how a Kaabo Electric Scooter, which sell in the UK for about £500, can be hacked so it reaches speeds of 25mph. In the comments sections of the video, one person wrote: ‘Just hacked my scooter! It really worked! I’m going rocket speed now.’

Last night, campaigners warned that the ‘hacks’ would lead to even more accidents and injuries on the roads. 

Luke Griggs, Deputy Chief Executive of brain injury association Headway, said: ‘It is extremely concerning to see online tutorials explaining how to remove the speed limiters on e-scooters. The production of such videos is irresponsible and is likely to lead to severe injuries and possibly fatalities. Tragically, it is not just the riders that will be placed in danger, it is innocent members of the public.

‘We are already seeing repeated reports of e-scooters being ridden on pavements at excessive speeds, with the most vulnerable in society being placed in harm’s way.’

Last night, Mr Smith said: ‘There are speed limits in public, so anything over 15mph would be for private use on private land. If you choose to break the law and go dangerously fast in public that is not my doing.’

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Durham Students’ Union is ‘toxic and undemocratic’, official report finds

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durham students union is toxic and undemocratic official report finds

A left-wing students’ union which axed funding for an award-winning university newspaper is ‘undemocratic’ and gripped by a ‘toxic culture’, according to a damning report.

Durham Students’ Union is viewed with ‘hatred’ and ‘mistrust’ by students following bitter infighting and an election scandal earlier this year, the report unearthed by The Mail on Sunday reveals.

Last week we revealed how the union – which is run by a politically correct cabal of radical students – has pulled the plug on the print edition of Palatinate, the university’s respected student newspaper.

Durham Students’ Union is viewed with ‘hatred’ and ‘mistrust’ by students following bitter infighting and an election scandal earlier this year, the report unearthed by The Mail on Sunday reveals

Durham Students’ Union is viewed with ‘hatred’ and ‘mistrust’ by students following bitter infighting and an election scandal earlier this year, the report unearthed by The Mail on Sunday reveals

Durham Students’ Union is viewed with ‘hatred’ and ‘mistrust’ by students following bitter infighting and an election scandal earlier this year, the report unearthed by The Mail on Sunday reveals

Palatinate, which is handed out for free, was once edited by Fleet Street legend Sir Harold Evans, who died last week, and was a training ground for BBC broadcasters Jeremy Vine and George Alagiah.

Union chiefs blamed funding pressures and the Covid-19 crisis, but many students believe the decision was politically motivated and claim freedom of speech is being stifled.

A students’ union leader at Durham University describes herself as a man-hater

A Students’ Union leader at Durham University has described herself as a man-hater.

Nailah Haque’s Twitter profile until recently included the declaration: ‘Misandrist till I die.’ A misandrist is a person who despises men.

While the social media account is now defunct, Miss Haque, 21, pictured, was elected as undergraduate academic officer in February.

33659224 8776127 image a 6 1601148775936

33659224 8776127 image a 6 1601148775936

The international relations student from East London has encouraged union staff to detail which personal pronoun they use in their emails, and lobbied for the introduction of ‘pronoun badges’ for students and staff to wear. 

In July she presented a manifesto to Durham bosses on how to ‘decolonise’ the university.

She has also called on the university, which has an extensive collection of artwork, to ‘sell a Picasso and fund the work people of colour have been asking you to do for years’.

Miss Haque and the union did not respond to requests for comment.

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The move, which will save just £4,000 this term, is the latest in a string of controversies that has seen the union increasingly pitted against students.

The union is led by five student officers who are elected each year, but an election in February was rocked by a revolt, with more than 2,000 students – 58 per cent of those who voted – refusing to back any candidates and instead voting to ‘reopen nominations’.

Their ballot papers were disqualified by the union, a decision that provoked fury, with the university’s Labour club saying it was ‘nothing less than election rigging’.

Weeks after the fiasco, the union quietly published a damning report into how it makes decisions. MiraGold, a higher education consultancy firm, was paid £2,000 to interview a dozen people working for or linked to the union about its democratic processes.

‘It’s the culture around it, it’s actually quite toxic,’ one of the anonymous respondents said.

‘The level of hatred towards the student body has been a slow burn but [issues] have created this mistrust and irreparable reputation damage,’ said another. 

‘So much toxicity has already been brought into our procedures, it’s baked into the cake,’ said a third.

The report prompted the union to commission a ‘full-scale democracy review’, which will cost up to £7,000 – £3,000 more than the cost of funding Palatinate for a term.

The decision to halt publication of the newspaper was taken at a board meeting of the union’s trustees in July, without the two joint editors of the newspaper being present.

That same month, Palatinate revealed that just 29 per cent of Durham students who responded to a national survey said the union effectively represented their academic interests – the lowest score across all 137 UK universities.

The union said there were ‘no political influences’ on the decision to ‘temporarily’ halt the print production of Palatinate, which was established in 1948.

Among the complaints of those who protested in the February election is that the union’s assembly – where clapping is banned because some students may be sensitive to noise – passes ‘politically divisive’ motions and fails to engage with the ‘real issues’ facing students.

Motions passed over the past year include calling for a boycott of Barclays bank because of its holdings in fossil fuel companies and declaring the university ‘institutionally disablist’ – suggesting it discriminates against disabled people.

And recently the union’s Women’s Association renamed itself Durham’s Womxn’s Association. Woke organisations claim that ‘womxn’ is more inclusive of trans and non-binary women.

Seun Twins, the president of the union, has hailed Jeremy Corbyn ‘the white king’ and has committed the union to ‘unravelling the unfair power dynamics which permeate into a culture of privilege’. 

Defiant student journalists have raised over £3,500 to get their newspaper’s presses rolling again 

Student journalists have managed to raise more than £3,500 in an attempt to get their newspaper’s presses rolling again.

The fundraising campaign was launched after The Mail on Sunday revealed last week how Durham Students’ Union had axed the £4,000 budget to print the fortnightly paper Palatinate this term.

A GoFundMe online campaign, led by a former student, has raised £1,245 and more than £2,250 has been given in private donations – enough to pay for four editions of the paper, each with a print run of 2,000 copies. 

Despite the windfall, uncertainty remains as the union has not signed off on a health-and-safety risk assessment that is required before the free newspaper is distributed.

‘We have confidence that we are financially secure enough to print Palatinate,’ joint editors Imogen Usherwood and Tash Mosheim said. 

‘However, we are yet to have confirmation that we will be allowed to go to print next week – freshers’ week.’ 

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One student, who asked not to be named, claimed the union’s chief executive Gareth Hughes, a former Labour student activist who describes himself as a socialist on social media, is the ‘driving force’ at the union and that the student officers are ‘in thrall’ to him. 

‘He’s the person setting the agenda and calling the shots,’ the source said.

James Parton-Hughes, a former member of the Durham University Conservative Association, said: ‘The union is like a private club with a cancel culture and political correctness. I don’t think there is a single student who would say it should suspend printing of the newspaper. The union should be open to being held to account.’

The union said it could not comment on the MiraGold findings because it was too busy preparing for freshers’ week and dealing with the impact of Covid-19.

JEREMY VINE: Why the sound of my old Durham University paper being printed was the sound of freedom

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33659404 8776127 image a 16 1601156034775

For me – as a doubt-racked teenager – seeing my byline was like finally finding evidence I actually existed. The thrill never went, writes Jeremy Vine

There is a certain TV presenter who makes me a little bit cross whenever I see them on the box. 

The reason goes back several years, as all the best grudges do. In the shallows of our careers, the two of us had bumped into each other in a corridor and jealously compared notes. During the conversation I mentioned I had gone to Durham University.

‘Ah, me too,’ the other person said earnestly. ‘The student newspaper. Yep – being editor of that is definitely on my CV.’

‘Fantastic!’ I exclaimed, remembering long nights in the office of the paper, known as Palatinate. ‘I was editor too. In 1985. When did you do it?’

‘Oh, I never actually did it,’ came the answer. ‘I just put it on my CV.’

This seemed like a fraud of earth-bending magnitude, but I think the reason I felt especially sensitive is because you never stop being grateful to the first publication that puts your name in print.

Palatinate did that for me. The 72-year-old student paper is in the news itself now because Durham Students’ Union, which funds it, wants to stop the cash for its print edition.

To me, this is like telling a farmer he can’t keep any sheep but he can keep pictures of them. I am all for online news, but a paper needs printing or it’s not a paper.

The editors of the ink-starved publication contacted me with a private message on Twitter. To support them, I posted a gentle tweet. ‘The student newspaper has been printed for 72 years. Now the team have been told there is no budget for paper and ink. This is wrong, wrong, wrong.’

That tweet went a little bit crazy and caused what young people call a pile-on – if you haven’t heard the term before, it’s a bit like a pub brawl but without the beer glasses.

Part of the reason, I think, is that so many people now in top media jobs came through student newspapers. But the indignation was also fuelled by a very old-fashioned thought – the sound of a newspaper being printed is the sound of freedom.

I rang Imogen Usherwood, one of Palatinate’s joint editors, to ask why any aspiring journalist in 2020 would still want to see their work in print, rather than just online.

The answer gave me heart. ‘Having Palatinate printed means we have a physical presence on campus – in libraries, cafes, buildings and so on, which can’t really be matched online or with social media. When something is printed, you know it has to be right. Things can’t be altered later on, which holds us to account.’

For me – as a doubt-racked teenager – seeing my byline was like finally finding evidence I actually existed. The thrill never went. After graduating, I made a beeline for newspapers.

In 1986, the Coventry Evening Telegraph gave me my first job as a trainee reporter on a salary of £6,200 a year. 

There were no computers in the newsroom, just banks of manual typewriters with 85 journalists sweating buckets over them. And when I went out of the building at the end of the day to collect my bicycle, I walked past roaring presses on which I could sometimes see a flash of my latest article.

When I was editor, we ran regular exposés on the people who ran the students’ union – ardent Left-wingers who all seemed to become management consultants on graduation. Jeremy Vine is pictured far left with student journalists at Durham’s Palatinate newspaper in 1984

When I was editor, we ran regular exposés on the people who ran the students’ union – ardent Left-wingers who all seemed to become management consultants on graduation. Jeremy Vine is pictured far left with student journalists at Durham’s Palatinate newspaper in 1984

When I was editor, we ran regular exposés on the people who ran the students’ union – ardent Left-wingers who all seemed to become management consultants on graduation. Jeremy Vine is pictured far left with student journalists at Durham’s Palatinate newspaper in 1984

I have no idea what motivated the current crew at the students’ union (a mixture of paid staff and recent graduates) to turn off the printers. But in the 1980s, when I was there studying English literature – actually, ‘studying’ is a slight exaggeration – the tension between the newspaper and the union was so real you could smell it.

It became clear to me the students’ union was full of people who were basically doing a full-time degree in hating Mrs Thatcher.

She had just breezed into her second term, which had completely flummoxed them.

Back then, if you loathed Thatcher you were described as ‘sound’. If you loved her – about eight students in the entire university did – you were known as a ‘nutter’.

Student politics was never very grown-up, and I kept out of it.

The problem comes when a student newspaper is funded by a student body. When I was editor, we ran regular exposés on the people who ran the students’ union – ardent Left-wingers who all seemed to become management consultants on graduation.

On one occasion they had been angry at the university authorities and resigned en masse. When I declared this was ‘not a big story’ and relegated it to an inside page, they were furious. The penny dropped. They thought we only existed to tell the rest of the university how good they were.

At Durham I fell in love, discovered poetry and edited the student paper, and the greatest of these was… well, let’s just say finding the newspaper was like finding love.

If I close my eyes and breathe deeply, I can actually smell the inked golf ball which spun like a wizard’s orb in the hollow of our electric typewriter and was the closest thing we had to new technology. The room, possibly the messiest in County Durham, was tucked away at the back of the drab students’ union building. The carpet was smudged with stubbed cigarettes and the walls painted vomit yellow.

It didn’t matter. A dozen of us would find our way there every week like children entering a Christmas grotto and eagerly bash out our stories.

We would then – the absence of technology was truly stunning – glue the paragraphs to large pieces of card which would be shuttled to a local printer in a car.

It was the opposite of the internet. But friendships for life were forged there.

Joel Donovan (whose first words to me in 1984 were: ‘You’ve got a lot to learn’) ended up as a QC.

Richard Calland, the sports editor, who once arrived in the office at midnight wearing a trilby and fell across the photocopier in a drunken haze, is now a distinguished academic. Wendy Pilmer ran BBC Newcastle and then became a gardener. Tim Burt made a fortune in public relations.

Among other alumni are the impressive George Alagiah, Hunter Davies and Cristina Nicolotti, who runs a chunk of Sky News.

Sir Harold Evans was an editor of Palatinate before his legendary career on Fleet Street.

A lot of us seem to feel something big is happening here. Sure, this precious newspaper can just be another lump of colour on a student smartphone, but then it will be lost.

In the story of Palatinate we have a kind of miracle – 21st Century students, those digital natives we are told will live their lives packing every kind of tech imaginable, still get the greatest thrill from seeing their name in print on a large piece of folding paper.

And so long as the newspaper itself doesn’t fold, there is hope.

BBC presenter Jeremy Vine’s new novel, The Diver And The Lover, published by Hachette UK, is out now. The fee for this article has been donated to Palatinate.

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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