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Britain records 15 more coronavirus deaths in the preliminary toll

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britain records 15 more coronavirus deaths in the preliminary toll

Britain today announced 15 more coronavirus deaths in the preliminary toll — taking the official number of victims to 46,314. 

Department of Health chiefs have yet to confirm the final daily figure, which is often much higher because it takes into account lab-confirmed fatalities in all settings. 

The early count — which only includes a fraction of the Covid-19 deaths in England — is calculated by adding up updates declared by each of the home nations.

NHS England today declared 13 victims in hospitals across the country. Wales recorded two in all settings. No fatalities were registered in Scotland or Northern Ireland

For comparison, 89 deaths were officially recorded yesterday and 83 were declared last Wednesday. Around 60 Brits are now succumbing to the life-threatening infection each day, on average.

In other developments today:

  • Aberdeen was put back into lockdown as Nicola Sturgeon revealed pubs, cafes and restaurants will be shut and people would be banned from travelling more than five miles from their homes;
  • Britain’s jobs bloodbath continued with hundreds of jobs axed at high street giants WH Smith and M&Co, meaning the number of workers facing redundancy as a result of the Covid crisis is now above 100,000;
  • One of Britain’s leading hair loss clinics reported a link between Covid-19 and hair loss after survivors complained the disease caused their locks to fall out in clumps three months after their battle;
  • France could lose control of its coronavirus outbreak at any time, according to the country’s top scientific body that warned a second wave was highly likely; 
  • Delaying quarantine measures at the border was a ‘serious mistake’ that allowed 10,000 infected people into the UK accelerated the virus spread, a major report by MPs warned.
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The UK also recorded another 89 deaths, meaning 60 people are dying a day on average. Just nine deaths were recorded yesterday — but counts are always lower on Mondays because of a recording lag at weekends. For comparison, Government figures show 119 victims were announced last Tuesday

Department of Health chiefs yesterday announced that another 670 people tested positive for the virus, taking the rolling seven-day average to 802. 

It was the first time the rate had been above 800 since July 2. For comparison, the rate was 697 last Tuesday and has been on the up for more than a fortnight amid growing fears of a resurgence.

Government statistics show the official size of the UK’s outbreak now stands at 306,293. But the actual size of the outbreak is estimated to be in the millions, based on antibody testing data.

The deaths data does not represent how many Covid-19 patients died within the last 24 hours — it is only how many fatalities have been reported and registered with the authorities.

And the figure does not always match updates provided by the home nations. Department of Health officials work off a different time cut-off, meaning daily updates from Scotland and Northern Ireland are out of sync.

The count announced by NHS England every afternoon, which only takes into account deaths in hospitals, does not match up with the DH figures because they work off a different recording system.

For instance, some deaths announced by NHS England bosses will have already been counted by the Department of Health, which records fatalities ‘as soon as they are available’.  

But the fatality curve is no longer flattening as quickly as it was, with the rolling seven-day average number of daily deaths having been in the sixties since July 18. 

It can take infected patients several weeks to die, meaning any spike in deaths won’t be immediately apparent in government figures.

ONS figures — released every Tuesday — revealed overall deaths are still below the number usually expected at this time of year, based on an average from the previous five years.

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Too many children are being tested for coronavirus, top paediatrician claims

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too many children are being tested for coronavirus top paediatrician claims

Too many children are being tested for coronavirus because of an ‘understandable’ but ‘misplaced’ fear over outbreaks in schools, a leading paediatrician has claimed.

Professor Russell Viner, from University College London, demanded schools should instead remain fully open in the face of a second wave and cease their ‘flip-flopping’ between closures and openings which are ‘harming’ the education of youngsters.

He was speaking after his recently published study revealed those under 20 are 44 per cent less likely to be infected with the virus than adults.

This means, he argues, that schools are at lower risk of the viral outbreaks. Previous research has also unmasked the risk of children dying from the disease is far less than one per cent, compared to a rate closer to 10 per cent in those aged over 65.

Government data shows around 626,500 youngsters were swabbed between 28 May and the end of August, almost double the number of 70 to 79-year-olds tested, at 364,000, and those aged over 80, at 350,000 tests completed.

The UK’s ‘world-leading’ testing system has lurched from crisis to crisis in recent weeks, as demand for swabs went through the roof when children returned to the classroom and parents went back to their offices.

The NHS has warned this morning that the beleaguered system ‘is not up to the task’ of managing an expected further spike in demand over winter.

The Government is carrying out around 245,000 tests a day at present, but Boris Johnson has promised to get this figure to 500,000 by the end of October. Industry leaders have already warned they are ‘a few weeks’ behind this deadline due to delays getting vital equipment. Officials are still light-years away from the ‘Operation Moonshot’ target of 10million tests a day.

Professor Russell Viner, from University College London, said schools should stop 'flip-flopping' between opening and closing due to the reduced risk to children

Professor Russell Viner, from University College London, said schools should stop ‘flip-flopping’ between opening and closing due to the reduced risk to children

A study has found children are 40 per cent less likely to catch the virus than adults (stock)

A study has found children are 40 per cent less likely to catch the virus than adults (stock)

Hundreds of pupils sent home due to Covid-19 outbreaks in schools 

Dozens of schools across England and Wales have reported cases of the virus, resulting in staff and children being sent home.

The Department for Education revealed last week that four per cent of Britain’s 30,000 state schools were ‘not fully open’ due to coronavirus outbreaks. This compared to one per cent seven days ago. 

A school visited by Boris Johnson on August 26 – Castle Rock High School in Coalville, Leicestershire – was one of many that put a number of pupils in self-isolation ‘as a precaution’ after a staff member tested positive.

During his visit, Mr Johnson said that ‘continuing to be out of school’ was the biggest risk to children.

 Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said it was ‘impossible’ to eliminate the risks of transmission in school or the wider community.

He added: ‘It is therefore likely that disruption will continue over the coming weeks and months’. 

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Professor Viner warned The Guardian that the UK is being ‘overcautious’ by testing so many children.

‘There is clearly limited capacity in testing at the moment,’ he said. 

‘We need to be thinking: “Are we testing too many children?” because of our understandable but probably unscientific and misplaced concerns about children being infected in schools.’

He added: ‘We need to stop some of the flip-flopping of schools opening and closing and recognise that we are probably testing too many children.

‘In the event of seemingly inevitable future waves of Covid-19, there is likely to be further pressures to close schools.’

The Department for Education revealed last week that four per cent of state schools are ‘not fully open’ due to coronavirus outbreaks, where whole year groups have been sent home after one pupil in them tested positive for the virus.

This compared with one per cent seven days before. There were 20 schools in the country that were completely shuttered last week.

Professor Viner’s study, published in leading medical journal JAMA Pediatrics last Friday, pulled together data from studies on 41,640 children and young people around the world up to the age of 20.

It found that primary school children had the lowest rates of infection, while the oldest group, aged 17 or 18 to 20, had similar infection rates to adults.

He stressed the study focused on children’s ability to catch the virus only. Their ability to spread it will be the subject of a separate study. Other studies have shown children are just as likely to catch Covid-19 — but barely suffer any symptoms.

Children under 12 had 60 per cent lower odds of becoming infected with Covid-19 compared to adults, if someone in their home had already been infected.

The paper says: ‘There is weak evidence that children and adolescents play a lesser role than adults in transmission of SARS-CoV-2 at population level. This study provides no information on the infectivity of children.’

NHS Providers warned this morning that the UK’s testing system is not up to the task, saying its capacity must be quadrupled within three months with dramatic turn arounds in testing times if it is to meet winter demand.

Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, said: ‘If NHS Test and Trace is under pressure now, it’s likely to face even greater pressures this winter.

‘We’ll all, understandably, want the reassurance of a test if we have a cold, flu or a bug with coronavirus-like symptoms.

Matt Hancock has hailed the app a success as he says 10 million people have downloaded it

The app has been plagued by problems since it launched on Thursday

Matt Hancock’s new coronavirus tracing app, which the health secretary has hailed as a huge success, has been hit by multiple flaws and bugs this weekend which have left users confused

‘NHS Test and Trace therefore has a major task on its hands to expand capacity, expand the number of testing sites, expand the number of tests being processed for the next day, and expand its ability to deal with local outbreaks.

‘While there are top level plans in place to do this, we need more detail and the NHS trusts that we represent want to know what contribution they will need to make.’

Mr Hopson said test and trace ‘has become as important a public service as treating heart attacks, catching criminals and fighting fires’.

He told BBC Breakfast that going into winter, the country would need ‘probably four times as many tests as we’ve currently got’.

In response to the Government’s inability to keep up with demand, Matt Hancock launched a coronavirus tests priority list last week.

It places those in acute clinical care or those due to receive it at the top, followed by care home workers and residents, and NHS staff, including GPs and pharmacists.

Fourth are those in outbreak management and surveillance studies, fifth are teachers, while last in line is the general public.

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham says 10pm curfew is doing ‘more harm than good’

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manchester mayor andy burnham says 10pm curfew is doing more harm than good

Boris Johnson‘s 10pm coronavirus curfew is doing ‘more harm than good’ the mayor one of the UK’s biggest cities warned this morning – as weekend scenes showed kicked-out drinkers dancing to a brass band in the street. 

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

He warned the curfew was acting as an incentive for behavior which was the opposite of what the measures were aiming to achieve.

The former Labour leadership contender said: ‘I think there needs to be an urgent review of the emerging evidence from police forces across the country. My gut feeling, is that this curfew is doing more harm than good.’

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

The city is also currently under heavier lockdown rules than much of the UK with people banned from mixing with people they do not live with. 

West Midlands Police were alerted to the potentially dangerous breach and spoke to people to tell them to go home.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lockdown fines across Britain

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

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

England (over 18s):

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

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

Wales (over 18s):

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

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

Scotland (over 16s):

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

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

Northern Ireland (over 18s): 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Every operator predicted this. Shambolic.’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘This was repeated right across the UK.’

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

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

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

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

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Louis Theroux’s Life on the Edge: Viewers in tears for former member of Westboro Baptist Church

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louis therouxs life on the edge viewers in tears for former member of westboro baptist church

A former Westboro Baptist Church member left Louis Theroux viewers ‘in tears’ last night after admitting being cut off from her family has become ‘more painful’ since she became a mother.  

Megan Phelps-Roper, now 34, from Kansas, left the notorious church in 2012, after 27 years of controversial preaching, which included picketing the funerals of American soldiers and publicly celebrating when strangers were diagnosed with cancer. 

Appearing in BBC2’s Louis Theroux: Life on the Edge last night, Megan spoke of the ‘pain’ she feels being ostracised from her family and how, after becoming a mother herself, it has become even more difficult to think of her own mum, Shirley Phelps-Roper. 

Viewers were left in floods of tears over the emotional programme, with some saying: ‘Meghan saved herself by leaving her family environment. You only get one mother and it is extremely sad that she cannot reconcile with hers. I get it.’

Former member of the Westboro Baptist Church, Megan Phelps-Roper, now 34, appeared on BBC2's Louis Theroux: Life on the Edge last night and said becoming a mother had made her own estrangement from her family more painful

Former member of the Westboro Baptist Church, Megan Phelps-Roper, now 34, appeared on BBC2’s Louis Theroux: Life on the Edge last night and said becoming a mother had made her own estrangement from her family more painful 

Another wrote: ‘Tonight’s episode was heartbreaking on so many levels. Louis handles all these really difficult subjects so carefully.’

One added: ‘I always thought the presence of Louis Theroux and his questions had a huge impact on the younger members of Westboro, more than they could say.

‘Maybe even contributed to their leaving.’

One said: ‘Thorough enjoyed #LifeOnTheEdge. I found myself getting rather emotional about each of the revisited stories, but not in an uncomfortable way. Emotion you can give way to without any shame.’ 

The documentary maker first met Megan along with her siblings when he visited the church in 2007 to make his programme The Most Hated Family In America

The documentary maker first met Megan along with her siblings when he visited the church in 2007 to make his programme The Most Hated Family In America 

During the programme, Louis said that when Megan left the church in 2013, she got in touch with him.

He explained they had stayed in contact over email and have since become friends. 

Speaking with the presenter over Zoom, Megan opened up about her struggles since leaving the church and her estrangement from her family, saying: ‘It changes over time, the way the pain feels. 

‘It changes because I’m changing. I’m older, I am a mum I have these memories of my mum coming up all the time now.  

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Many of those watching at home were left in tears over the emotional segment on the programme

Many of those watching at home were left in tears over the emotional segment on the programme 

‘Sometimes it’ll make me happy and sometimes it’ll make me cry.

She said: ‘She’s my mum, it never goes away it’s not the past it’s now and that is incredibly painful no matter how long it’s been.’  

Westboro Baptist Church has made international news many times for its strong views against homosexuality.

It was founded by the late Fred Phelps who, according to the church, had 13 children, 54 grandchildren.  

Louis said he has remained in touch with Megan since they first met in 2007, and revealed since she left the church they have become friends

Louis said he has remained in touch with Megan since they first met in 2007, and revealed since she left the church they have become friends  

Megan, who left the controversial organisation in 2013, said she remains 'in pain' over her estrangement from her family and mother

Megan, who left the controversial organisation in 2013, said she remains ‘in pain’ over her estrangement from her family and mother 

Made up mostly by the Kansas-based Phelps family, the religious group blames most tragedies – from the death of American soldiers to the recent massacre of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School – on what they call a ‘pro-gay’ agenda in America. 

Theroux first encountered the group – known for its inflammatory homophobic hate speech – for his 2007 documentary The Most Hated Family In America, and again for a follow-up in 2011 in America’s Most Hated Family In Crisis.   

The original documentary saw members holding placards with the words ‘God Hates Fags,’ ‘Fags Doom Nations’ and ‘Thank God for Dead Soldiers’, at the funerals of U.S. personnel killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, and publicly celebrating when a stranger contracts cancer. 

In 2013, Megan announced that she and her sister Grace, now 26, had left the controversial Westboro Baptist Church.  

Megan spoke of the 'pain' she feels being ostracised from her family and how after becoming a mother herself, how difficult it can be to think of her own mum, Shirley Phelps-Roper (pictured right)

Megan spoke of the ‘pain’ she feels being ostracised from her family and how after becoming a mother herself, how difficult it can be to think of her own mum, Shirley Phelps-Roper (pictured right) 

Writing on medium.com at the time, she said: ‘Up until now, our names have been synonymous with “God Hates Fags”.

‘We know that we’ve done and said things that hurt people. Inflicting pain on others wasn’t the goal, but it was one of the outcomes. We wish it weren’t so, and regret that hurt.

‘We know that we dearly love our family. They now consider us betrayers, and we are cut off from their lives, but we know they are well-intentioned. We will never not love them.’ 

Her Ted talk I Grew Up in the Westboro Church – Here’s Why I Left, in which she details the shift in her perspective that caused her to leave the church, has been viewed over nine million times online.

Theroux first encountered the group - known for its inflammatory homophobic hate speech - for his 2007 documentary The Most Hated Family In America

Theroux first encountered the group – known for its inflammatory homophobic hate speech – for his 2007 documentary The Most Hated Family In America

Megan was just five when she joined her family in daily pickets: ‘I’d stand on a street corner in the heavy Kansas humidity, said Megan in the Ted Talk. 

‘I was surrounded by a few dozen relatives with my tiny fists clutching a sign I couldn’t read yet, gays are worthy of death. This was the beginning.’  

Megan ran the church’s social media presence, posting on Twitter up to 150 times a day from her phone.  

After joining Twitter, Megan found users were genuinely curious about her beliefs, and she began meeting people she argued with on Twitter while picketing  around the US. 

She said: ‘The line between friend and foe was becoming blurred, we started to see each other as human beings’.  

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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