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Emirati minister of tolerance accused of ‘serious sexual assault’ by Hay literary festival organiser

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emirati minister of tolerance accused of serious sexual assault by hay literary festival organiser

The Emirati minister of tolerance has been accused of ‘serious sexual assault’ by the organiser of the Hay literary festival in Abu Dhabi. 

Caitlin McNamara says she was attacked by Sheikh Nahyan Mubarak Al Nahyan, 69, on Valentine’s Day earlier this year.

McNamara, 32, who was in Abu Dhabi working on the launch of the festival in the city has now been interviewed by Scotland Yard.

She has waived her right to anonymity and, in an interview with the Sunday Times, spoken publicly about the alleged assault.

The sheikh – who is a member of Abu Dhabi’s ruling family and likes to be known as the ‘Sheikh of Hearts’ – denies any wrongdoing, and said over the weekend that he was ‘surprised and saddened’ by the claims made by McNamara.

On Saturday, the director of the Hay festival pledged never to return to the UAE while the Sheikh remains in his post as the minister of tolerance in the United Arab Emirates cabinet.

Sheikh Nahyan Mubarak Al Nahyan, 69, (pictured) has been accused by a British woman - Caitlin McNamara - of sexually assaulting her on Valentine's day in Abu Dhabi

Sheikh Nahyan Mubarak Al Nahyan, 69, (pictured) has been accused by a British woman – Caitlin McNamara – of sexually assaulting her on Valentine’s day in Abu Dhabi

Sheikh Nahyan Mubarak Al Nahyan is a member of the royal family of Abu Dhabi – the fourth richest royal family in the world.

According to Business Insider, it controls a sovereign wealth fund with assets estimated to be worth £640bn, including Manchester City football team.

McNamara had spent almost six months working at the Sheikh’s ministry after being hired by the Hay festival to organise its first event in the UAE.

On the morning of the alleged assault, she told The Times that she received a phone call from the Sheikh inviting her to dinner, saying she had never spoken to him on the phone before then.

‘After six months there I was used to being summoned to meetings at all times of day,’ she told the newspaper. ‘And no one said no to Nahyan — he was like a god.’ 

But instead of heading to the palace, she said the car that picked her up drove in the opposite direction and started going away from the city, with the driver not telling her where they were driving to.

McNamara said that she was taken across a bridge to a small island that she believes to be the exclusive Al Gurm resort, where many of the Emirati royals own properties, and then to the Sheikh’s house.

There, she was taken inside where she met the Sheikh, who she said was very friendly towards her, giving her with a hug and producing a £3,500 watch with gold and diamonds. 

They were also drinking wine, she said, which surprised her as it is prohibited in the country.

After trying to keep the conversation professional, talking about a poet – which irritated the Sheikh – McNamara then claims that he started touching her.

‘It was creepy,’ she said. ‘He was on the sofa next to me and began touching my arm and feet and I was pulling away, then he got forceful… Suddenly, it clicked why I was there. I felt so naive.’

At that point, McNamara said her situation dawned on her, and she began thinking of ways she could escape from the home and the island without offending him by making him think she was rejecting him.

McNamara, 32, who was in Abu Dhabi working on the launch of the festival in the city has now been interviewed by Scotland Yard

McNamara, 32, who was in Abu Dhabi working on the launch of the festival in the city has now been interviewed by Scotland Yard

After she tried to find excuses to leave, McNamara said the Sheikh instead took her on a tour of the house, at one point ‘grabbing her face and kissing her’, and when inside a gold elevator, she claims he assaulted her again.

‘We got in a gold lift where he pushed me against the wall and began rubbing my breasts in a weird way like windscreen wipers,’ she claimed. 

‘He pulled up his kandora and was naked under, and got on top of me. I pulled my dress down but he put his hands up my dress and his fingers inside of me.’

Nahyan has denied the allegations. 

Eventually, McNamara told The Times that she was able to get downstairs, out the door and into a car away from the island, and the following morning took a two-hour taxi to Dubai.

In the days that followed, she claims that the Sheikh tried to contact her multiple times. 

On February 25, the festival opened as planned, and on March 5, she flew back to London as the coronavirus pandemic started to gather pace. 

‘What he had done affected everything,’ she said, telling The Times that she has since split up with her long-term boyfriend, lost her job and feels she could never return to the UAE.

During lockdown, she reached out to Philippe Sands – renowned writer and human rights barrister – who put her in touch with Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, a leading voice on women’s rights.

‘For a man who is a leading minister of his nation to grossly violate a women who is there to organise a major cultural event is criminal,’ Kennedy told The Times. 

‘The UAE should sack him immediately but I suspect that will not happen. His family owns the country.’

As soon as lockdown ended, McNamara contacted to the police, giving them a three hour interview at the Family Unit in Stratford, east London.

Following the interview, the police took her security concerns so seriously they fitted panic alarms in her flat. 

The Sunday Times reached out to the Sheikh and his representatives for a response to the allegations but he did no directly respond, the newspaper reported, but it did receive a response from a London libel lawyers Schillings with a statement.

‘Our client is surprised and saddened by this allegation, which arrives eight months after the alleged incident and via a national newspaper,’ it said. ‘The account is denied.’ 

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Is this £10.7m mansion in St George’s Hill the perfect pandemic pad?

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is this 10 7m mansion in st georges hill the perfect pandemic pad

A brand new mansion in a gated private estate in leafy Surrey could prove the most appealing spot amid the global pandemic.

We were given an exclusive tour of the £10.7million house for sale on St George’s Hill, Weybridge.

The private estate has been home to various celebrities over the years, including singers John Lennon and Tom Jones. 

Exclusive tour of a Surrey mansion: Beech Rise on St George's Hill, Weybridge, is for sale for £10.7million

Exclusive tour of a Surrey mansion: Beech Rise on St George’s Hill, Weybridge, is for sale for £10.7million

The grand entrance hallway includes an impressive chandelier and leads into a large dining room

The grand entrance hallway includes an impressive chandelier and leads into a large dining room 

Much of St George’s Hill popularity lies in it being a 964 acre green oasis hidden from the world, while at the same time being easily accessible to London and Heathrow. 

It has a mix of contemporary and older large family homes, which can cost seven, or even eight figures.  

We were invited onto the gated enclave to see one of those properties – a brand new luxury mansion called Beech Rise.

MailOnline Property was given an exclusive tour of the house by Savills estate agents

 MailOnline Property was given an exclusive tour of the house by Savills estate agents

The house has two water features in the back garden, along with plenty of outdoor seating space

The house has two water features in the back garden, along with plenty of outdoor seating space 

Inside, there is a large swimming pool complex that has large glass doors overlooking the garden

Inside, there is a large swimming pool complex that has large glass doors overlooking the garden

The home is surrounded by greenery with views of the treetops from its extensive balconies.

It covers more than 12,712 square feet and sits on an acre of land – and it is this extensive space indoors and out that makes this property so attractive amid the restrictions placed on people’s movements during the pandemic.

If pandemic instructions mean you have to stay home, there is indoor swimming pool and a cinema room to make your time in the property as comfortable and enjoyable as possible.

And outdoors, there is landscaped garden designed by Chelsea Gold medal winners Landscape Architects. It includes several terraces, two water features and a large lawn area.

Perfect for staying home: No mansion would be complete without its own cinema room

Perfect for staying home: No mansion would be complete without its own cinema room

The luxury feel of this kitchen is created with some statement lighting and striking furniture

The luxury feel of this kitchen is created with some statement lighting and striking furniture

Increased your alcohol intake during lockdown? You'll never run out of a bottle with this wine cellar

Increased your alcohol intake during lockdown? You’ll never run out of a bottle with this wine cellar

Simon Ashwell, of Savills – the estate agent handling the sale, which led the property tour – said: ‘Under the current restrictions, it is lovely to have an oasis of tranquillity that this property offers you.

‘It is surrounded by trees, and the size of the property gives you the opportunity to find a quiet place to work, somewhere to go for a swim or even just a quiet spot to watch your favourite television programme.’

He added: ‘The scale of this property is that it sits proud on the hill and so you’re in the treetops. From every room, you see the trees and then the sky – it is a fantastic backdrop for the house.’

Inside, there is a welcoming galleried hallway with marble floor. The large kitchen has several seating areas with views out to the terrace and gardens.

There is a separate dining room, a study and five bedrooms – along with additional staff accommodation.

Beech Rise has three storeys, with the top floor having views across the surrounding treetops

Beech Rise has three storeys, with the top floor having views across the surrounding treetops

A mansion for entertaining: The dining room can easily accommodate a dozen family and friends

A mansion for entertaining: The dining room can easily accommodate a dozen family and friends 

Time to relax: The leisure complex includes a sauna, steam room, gym and separate bar area

Time to relax: The leisure complex includes a sauna, steam room, gym and separate bar area 

Make a day of it during lockdown: The leisure complex extends across the entire ground floor

Make a day of it during lockdown: The leisure complex extends across the entire ground floor

THE SURREY DIGGER’S TRAIL 

The so-called ‘Diggers’ first broke the ground on St George’s Hill on 1 April 1649 as they set out to make the earth a ‘common treasury for all’. 

The hill is associated with their project and ideas, and it is from here that their influence, and the practice of Digging, spread to many parts of England.

The actual site of their Digging is thought to have been on the lower, southern slopes of the hill.  One contemporary account describes it as being ‘next to Campe Close’, which probably corresponds with the estate’s Camp End Road of today. 

The Diggers hoped that many would join them in their work, and for months their activity was one of the biggest news stories of the day.  It was from St George’s Hill that they issued their manifesto, The True Levellers Standard Advanced, in April 1649.

As the Diggers’ influence increased, so did the hostility of local landowners. 

Prominent among these was the lord of the manor, Francis Drake. With two violent accomplices, John Taylor and William Starr, Drake organised gangs to attack the Diggers and destroy their houses, crops and animals. 

Drake hoped that the army would help him to suppress the Diggers, but after visiting their settlement General Fairfax concluded they were doing no harm.

Following a court case against the Diggers – at which they were forbidden to speak in their own defence – and further attacks, they abandoned St George’s Hill in August 1649. They established a new settlement at Little Heath, near Cobham, where they were active until finally evicted in Easter 1650.

 

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Making a grand entrance: The front of the house has pillars extending up two floors, with an arch over the doorway

Making a grand entrance: The front of the house has pillars extending up two floors, with an arch over the doorway

The main living room has seating surrounding a feature fireplace and bi-folding doors onto the garden

The main living room has seating surrounding a feature fireplace and bi-folding doors onto the garden

The main bedroom has a dress room and its own balcony to enjoy the surrounding treetop views

The main bedroom has a dress room and its own balcony to enjoy the surrounding treetop views

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Mother and father of former Manchester City academy player call for more mental health support

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mother and father of former manchester city academy player call for more mental health support

The mother and father of former Manchester City academy player Jeremy Wisten have shared an emotional tribute to their son following his tragic death at the age of 18.

Malawi-born defender Wisten was found unresponsive at the family home in Baguley, Wythenshawe, on Saturday and despite the best efforts of the emergency services was pronounced dead at the scene.   

The footballer, who moved to the UK with his family as a child in 2003, had played for City’s elite youth squads after joining in 2016.

Today his father Manila, 53, and mother, Grace Wisten, 46, said they ‘couldn’t have asked for a better son’ and called for more mental health support for young people, both in the education system and in football. 

Manchester City academy player Jeremy Wisten was found unresponsive at the family home in Wythenshawe on Saturday

Manchester City academy player Jeremy Wisten was found unresponsive at the family home in Wythenshawe on Saturday 

Manila told the Manchester Evening News: ‘We are very saddened and shocked by our son’s death. We love him and always will love him.

‘He was a very happy boy who was taken away too soon. He was very friendly and always smiling.

‘He loved football and was aiming for a career in the game. He was very popular at Manchester City, at school and with his friends. Not just here but also in his homeland in Malawi.’

‘We have been inundated with messages from different types of people we would not expect to hear from’ he added.

‘We are very grateful for that and it has helped us to cope. But it is still so difficult to understand how we came to be in this situation.’

The footballer, who turned 18 earlier this month and who has two sisters aged 20 and 27, came to the UK from Malawi with his family in 2003 when he was just a baby, living in Trafford before moving to Wythenshawe three years ago. 

He attended Altrincham Church of England Primary School and Wellington high school in Timperley before later moving to St Bede’s College in south Manchester.

His family said the United supporting teenager, who was a centre-back but could play across the defence, played for Altrincham FC and De La Salle FC in Salford before becoming part of City’s Elite Squad at under-13 level in 2016.

However they said a knee ligament injury derailed his progress. 

The footballer, who turned 18 earlier this month, came to the UK from Malawi with his family in 2003

The footballer, who turned 18 earlier this month, came to the UK from Malawi with his family in 2003

Manchester City and footballer Raheem Sterling have shared their condolences following his death

Manchester City and footballer Raheem Sterling have shared their condolences following his death

‘During the last year at Manchester City he was injured and spent a long time without playing’ his father said.

‘He did recover but then had not played enough football the year prior to be considered for the next level. Of course it was very frustrating for him.

‘He went for trials elsewhere but because he hadn’t played much football it proved very difficult.

‘We helped him look after himself and encouraged him to take up other sports to keep himself fit, until he left us.’

‘He enjoyed his time at Manchester City very much,’ his father said.

‘We are very grateful for the opportunity they gave our son.

‘In particular his first head coach Mark Burton, he was an amazing coach and they won three national championships for their age when he was manager. But we would also like to thank all the staff at Manchester City.’ 

His family said they are still awaiting a coroner’s report on his medical cause of death.

They said it was not immediately obvious to them that their son was suffering with any mental health difficulties.

And they are now calling for more mental health education for parents as well as more mental health support for young people, both in the education system and in football.

‘I think that football clubs and schools need to pay careful attention to the mental health of their boys and girls’ Manila said.

‘I also think boys or girls whose contracts come to an end or are released by all clubs need some care beyond that time.

‘I think there is often a focus on this at the professional level in sport but maybe not so much at the lower level.

‘Furthermore, it would be good if mental health education was extended to parents. I think this would help cases like that of our son.

‘We want to prevent a family going through the same experience as us.’

In a statement released on Sunday Manchester City said: ‘The Manchester City family are saddened to learn of the passing of former Academy player Jeremy Wisten.

‘We send our deepest condolences to his friends and family. Our thoughts are with you at this difficult time.’

Former academy teammates Tommy Doyle, Liam Delap and Cole Palmer, who have now made their first team debuts, joined established stars Raheem Sterling and Aymeric Laporte in paying tribute to the youngster.

City legend Vincent Kompany tweeted tonight saying: ‘Very saddened to hear about the passing of Jeremy Wisten. My thoughts are with his family and friends. This is truly devastating news. RIP Jeremy.’

A crowdfunding campaign raising for money for his family has already raised nearly £10,000.

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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US airstrike in northwest Syria killed seven leaders of al-Qaeda, officials say

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us airstrike in northwest syria killed seven leaders of al qaeda officials say

The United States believes it killed seven senior leaders of al-Qaeda in Syria in an airstrike last week as they were meeting near the Turkish border, US Central Command said Monday.

A Central Command spokeswoman, Major Beth Riordan, said the strike was conducted in Idlib, in northwest Syria, on October 22. She did not identify the seven leaders by name. 

‘The removal of these AQ-S leaders will disrupt the terrorist organization’s ability to further plot and carryout global attacks threatening U.S. citizens, our partners, and innocent civilians,’ she said.

‘AQ-S takes advantage of the instability in northwest Syria to establish and maintain safe havens to coordinate terrorist activities,’ she added. ‘With our allies and partners, we will continue to target al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations.’

In total 17 jihadists died in the strike, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. 

The United States believes it killed seven senior leaders of al-Qaeda in Syria in an airstrike last week as the leaders were meeting near the Turkish border (file photo - a MQ-1B Predator remotely piloted aircraft flies overhead during a training mission, in Nevada)

The United States believes it killed seven senior leaders of al-Qaeda in Syria in an airstrike last week as the leaders were meeting near the Turkish border (file photo – a MQ-1B Predator remotely piloted aircraft flies overhead during a training mission, in Nevada)

In total 17 jihadists died in the strike (pictured: A US fighting armoured vehicle takes part in a patrol near the Rumaylan (Rmeilan) oil fields in Syria's Kurdish-controlled northeastern Hasakeh province)

In total 17 jihadists died in the strike (pictured: A US fighting armoured vehicle takes part in a patrol near the Rumaylan (Rmeilan) oil fields in Syria’s Kurdish-controlled northeastern Hasakeh province)

In her statement, Riordan did not specify the total number of fatalities resulting from the strike.

The British-based Observatory said the strike had been targeting a dinner meeting of jihadists in the village of Jakara in the Salqin area.

The village lies in Syria’s last major rebel bastion of Idlib, which is dominated by the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham group, led by a former al-Qaeda affiliate, and its rebel allies.

Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman told Military.com that five non-Syrian jihadists were among those killed, but their nationalities were not immediately known.

‘They had been invited to dinner in a tent on a farm in Jakara,’ he said.

‘It was a meeting of leaders opposed to HTS and who reject the Russia-Turkish deals’ that led to a fragile truce in Idlib, he said. ‘Some were close to Hurras al-Deen.’

The Idlib region is the largest area in Syria not currently under government control. It is home to nearly three million people.

Idlib is being threatened on one side by the Syrian government troops loyal to President Bashar Assad who is backed by Russia and on the other by the Turkish military which is moving more troops into the area.

The US also conducted an airstrike against al-Qaeda in Syria, near Idlib, on October 15.

US military officials said that the drone strike was carried out by the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC).

Rahman said that a Jordanian and a Yemeni military commander from the al-Qaeda-affiliated Hurras al-Deen group were killed when a missile fired from a drone hit their car. 

People collect scrap steel rods from the rubble and destruction in the aftermath of aerial bombardment in the town of Ihsim in Syria's rebel-held northwestern Idlib province, on October 18

People collect scrap steel rods from the rubble and destruction in the aftermath of aerial bombardment in the town of Ihsim in Syria’s rebel-held northwestern Idlib province, on October 18

The Idlib region is the largest area in Syria not currently under government control. It is home to nearly three million people

The Idlib region is the largest area in Syria not currently under government control. It is home to nearly three million people

On Sunday, Afghanistan claimed it killed a top al-Qaeda propagandist on an FBI most-wanted list during an operation in the country’s east.

The reported death of Husam Abd al-Rauf, also known by the nom de guerre Abu Muhsin al-Masri, follows weeks of violence, including a suicide bombing by the Islamic State group Saturday at an education center near Kabul that killed 24 people.  

Details over the raid that led to al-Rauf’s alleged death remained murky hours after Afghanistan’s intelligence service, the National Directorate of Security, claimed on Twitter to have killed him in Ghazni province. It said one of its members was also killed in the operation. 

The agency released a photograph late Sunday afternoon it described as al-Rauf’s corpse, which resembled FBI images of the militant leader.

The Afghan presidential palace issued a statement Sunday saying al-Rauf had been killed and warning it ‘proved that the threat of terrorism and the Taliban’s links to terrorist networks are still in place.’

‘The Taliban should prove to the people, the government of Afghanistan and the international community that they are ending their links with terrorist groups, including al-Qaeda,’ the statement said. They ‘should stop the war and violence and facilitate a dignified and sustainable peace in the country.’

Federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York filed a warrant for al-Rauf’s arrest in December 2018, accusing him of providing support to a foreign terrorist organization and being part of a conspiracy to kill US citizens. 

The FBI put him on the bureau’s ‘Most Wanted Terrorists’ list, which now includes 27 others.

Al-Qaeda did not immediately acknowledge al-Rauf’s reported death. The FBI declined to comment. The U.S. military’s Central Command and NATO did not respond to requests for comment.

The reported death of Husam Abd al-Rauf, also known by the nom de guerre Abu Muhsin al-Masri, follows weeks of violence, including a suicide bombing by the Islamic State group Saturday at an education center near Kabul that killed 24 people

The reported death of Husam Abd al-Rauf, also known by the nom de guerre Abu Muhsin al-Masri, follows weeks of violence, including a suicide bombing by the Islamic State group Saturday at an education center near Kabul that killed 24 people

Back in Idlib, on Monday, Russia was blamed for an airstrike on a training camp in the region that killed more than 50 Turkish-backed militia fighters.

The daytime attack was deemed one of the heaviest blows to the opposition’s strongest groups.

Youssef Hammoud, a spokesman for the Syrian opposition, said the airstrike targeted a military training camp for Faylaq al-Sham. Faylaq al-Sham is the largest Turkish-backed armed group and one of the most disciplined and best trained.

Turkey has long supported Syrian rebel forces and has used many of those fighters to bolster its military campaigns in Libya and Azerbaijan.

The camp, at Jebel al-Dweila, not far from the Turkish border, was hosting training sessions for new recruits, according to a war monitor and another opposition spokesman. Leaders of the camp were among those killed, according to Hammoud.

A fighter with the Turkey-backed Faylaq al-Sham rebel faction in Syria shoots in the air during the funeral of 10 of the faction's fighters in the northwestern city of Idlib, on October 26

A fighter with the Turkey-backed Faylaq al-Sham rebel faction in Syria shoots in the air during the funeral of 10 of the faction’s fighters in the northwestern city of Idlib, on October 26

People attend funeral of fighters killed in an airstrike in the town of Idlib, Syria, Monday

People attend funeral of fighters killed in an airstrike in the town of Idlib, Syria, Monday

Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the war in Syria, gave a higher toll of 78 fighters dead and nearly 90 wounded. Rescue efforts were still under way, the Observatory said.

Syrian rebel groups vowed to retaliate.

‘We, the factions of the National Front for Liberation, will respond to these violations,’ said Naji al-Mustafa, another spokesman for the Turkish-backed fighters, threatening to target government and Russian positions. He called the strike a ‘crime’ by Russia.

After a string of military victories backed by key ally Russia, the Syrian government has regained control of around 70 percent of the country, according to the Observatory.

The war, which broke out after the bloody suppression of anti-government protests in 2011, has killed more than 380,000 people and displaced millions of Syrians from their homes.  

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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