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Now Tory conference is hit by tech glitches too

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now tory conference is hit by tech glitches too

The Tory party‘s online conference descended into shambles as it suffered technical glitches.

As Rishi Sunak addressed the Conservative conference for the first time as Chancellor yesterday, the transmission went dead and he was left speaking into an empty vacuum. 

Just two days earlier, exhibitors were temporarily unable to log into the virtual conference as Michael Gove participated in a ‘fireside chat’. 

This is yet another embarrassing episode for the beleaguered PM, who has been dogged by technological issues in recent days. 

It comes in the wake of the test and trace shambles, with the news that 16,000 people who tested Covid-positive last week went unreported because of a ‘computer glitch’.

Business leaders waiting for a virtual question and answer with Boris Johnson and Mr Sunak. Pictured, the PM chairing his weekly Cabinet meeting remotely from the Cabinet room of No10 Downing Street during the coronavirus

Business leaders waiting for a virtual question and answer with Boris Johnson and Mr Sunak. Pictured, the PM chairing his weekly Cabinet meeting remotely from the Cabinet room of No10 Downing Street during the coronavirus

As Rishi Sunak addressed the Conservative conference for the first time as Chancellor yesterday, the transmission went dead and he was left speaking into an empty vacuum

As Rishi Sunak addressed the Conservative conference for the first time as Chancellor yesterday, the transmission went dead and he was left speaking into an empty vacuum

Business leaders waiting for a virtual question and answer with Boris Johnson and Mr Sunak faced a buffering screen for almost an hour. 

The session was delayed by around 50 minutes, according to the Times, with one business owner telling the paper: ‘It’s been a complete shambles to be honest.’

Yesterday, a staggering  rise in coronavirus cases was recorded in Britain as the Department of Health announced 12,594 more positive tests – more than triple the 4,368 that were recorded a fortnight ago.

Last Monday’s data, which would usually be a good point of reference, is now unreliable because of a catastrophic counting error at Public Health England, meaning September 21 is the most recent Monday with an accurate number. 

Officials confirmed that the huge number was a clean count that did not include any cases left over from the weekend’s data blunder at Public Health England that saw 16,000 test results from the past week tacked onto Sunday night’s update.  

Instead, the more than 12,000 new infections emerged after the fog had cleared from the counting catastrophe – believed to have been caused by an Excel problem in outdated software at PHE – and marked one of the biggest one-day rises so far for Britain.

The extraordinary meltdown was caused by an Excel spreadsheet containing lab results reaching its maximum size, and failing to update. Some 15,841 cases between September 25 and October 2 were not uploaded to the government dashboard.

As well as underestimating the scale of the outbreak in the UK, critically the details were not passed to contact tracers, meaning people exposed to the virus were not tracked down. 

The technical issue has now been resolved by splitting the Excel files into batches.

Boris Johnson, left, and Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak, right, in London yesterday

Boris Johnson, left, and Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak, right, in London yesterday

Health Secretary Matt Hancock faced the House of Commons to explain the extraordinary episode, which he said ‘should never have happened’. 

He told MPs an investigation was being carried out into how thousands of cases had dropped out of the system. 

Labour slammed the government for ‘failing on the basics’, while Tory MPs weighed in to warn public confidence is being ‘undermined’ and demand the military is brought in to help. 

Mr Hancock revealed that he was told on Friday night that the cases had gone missing, and urgent contact tracing had started on Saturday morning. However, only 51 per cent of the cases had been contact traced as of this morning. 

Mr Hancock laid the blame squarely on ‘legacy’ software system at Public Health England, amid a bitter spat over who was responsible for the shambles. He said he had already ordered it to be replaced. 

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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DAVID LEAFE looks back on the life of Bobby Ball following the funnyman’s death aged 76 

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david leafe looks back on the life of bobby ball following the funnymans death aged 76

Although not known for cracking jokes in public, Her Majesty the Queen could not resist a light-hearted exchange with the comedy duo Cannon and Ball after the Royal Variety Performance of 1987.

The previous week they had been introduced to the Duke of Edinburgh at a charity dinner.

‘We were told to address him as ‘Your Majesty’ when we were introduced,’ recalled Bobby Ball. ‘But I said, ‘Ow are you cocker? All right?’

‘When we were lined up to shake hands with the Queen after the command performance, she came to me and said ‘Hello cocker, how are you?’ It was great.’

The royals were among the many fans of a comedy partnership which ended with the news of Bobby Ball’s death in a Blackpool hospital at the age of 76. He had been admitted for a chest infection but tested positive for Covid-19.

In their heyday, comedy duo Bobby Ball (left) and Tommy Cannon (right) were bringing home £200,000 a month. The pair had met in the 1960s while working as tractor welders

In their heyday, comedy duo Bobby Ball (left) and Tommy Cannon (right) were bringing home £200,000 a month. The pair had met in the 1960s while working as tractor welders

At its peak, the Cannon And Ball Show was one of ITV’s most successful light entertainment programmes, drawing Saturday night audiences of up to 20million people.

As catchphrases like ‘Rock on Tommy’ and ‘You little liar’ entered everyday conversation, and no less an authority than Eric Morecambe described them as ‘the next Morecambe and Wise’, their popularity saw their summer tour in 1985 outsell Bruce Springsteen.

Although they continued to tour after television executives decided that middle-aged northern comics had had their day, Bobby Ball’s career resurgence in later life took him in a different direction – acting in popular TV series including Last Of The Summer Wine, Heartbeat, Benidorm and The Cockfields.

One of Ball's best-known roles was as Lee Mack's dad in Not Going Out. Pictured: Ball (right) with comedian Lee Mack (left)

One of Ball’s best-known roles was as Lee Mack’s dad in Not Going Out. Pictured: Ball (right) with comedian Lee Mack (left)

He also appeared on I’m A Celebrity and Strictly Come Dancing, but one of his best-known roles was as Lee Mack’s dad in Not Going Out. Mack – pictured below right with Ball – once described him as his real-life ‘comedy father’.

‘The first thing I can remember as a sort of performance was doing Bobby Ball impressions in the playground at school,’ he said.

‘He has a magical sense for comedy that nobody has been able to replicate.’

That gift was key to an act following in the traditions of Laurel and Hardy, with Tommy as the straight man exasperated by his silly sidekick Bobby.

A typical sketch went like this:

Tommy: ‘Tell them what you did last week when you went to British Home Stores to buy a house.’

Bobby [to the audience] ‘Yes, well, he sent me to Homebase for the foundations.’

Tommy: ‘What else did you do? Went to the greyhound track and bet on the rabbit.’

Bobby: ‘It won, didn’t it?’

Such exchanges belied a very real friendship between the two men who were both from Oldham and had mothers who worked in the local cotton mills.

Born Robert Harper in 1944, Bobby originally fancied himself as a singer, as did Tommy Cannon – born Thomas Derbyshire – who was six years his senior.

They met in the 1960s when they worked as welders at a tractor factory and in their spare time they toured working men’s clubs as a singing double-act until they realised that comedians were being paid £3 a night more than they were. They duly added a comedy element to the act, with Bobby sitting in the audience and heckling Tommy.

All went well until Bobby’s trousers fell down on his way to the stage, after which he began wearing the trademark braces twanged to hilarious effect from then on.

After years on the northern club circuit, they hit the big time – ITV giving them their own show following their guest spot on Bruce Forsyth’s Big Night Out – and suddenly the £20-a-week welders were taking home £200,000 a month. They bought matching Rolls-Royces, beachfront homes in the Canary Islands and even yachts. But fame and fortune soon took a toll.

Bobby Ball (left), who is survived by his second wife Yvonne (right), became a Christian in later life as did his comedy partner Tommy Cannon

Bobby Ball (left), who is survived by his second wife Yvonne (right), became a Christian in later life as did his comedy partner Tommy Cannon

Bobby, who was by then married to his second wife Yvonne, began womanising, drinking a bottle of whisky a day and frequently getting into fights.

He and Tommy fell out, refusing to be around each other any more than their work required and not speaking off-stage for three years.

A turning point came in 1986 when they were appearing together in pantomime in Bradford. There, Bobby’s conversations with the Alhambra Theatre’s chaplain saw him turn to Christ and he made amends with Tommy who followed suit and became a Christian seven years later. 

Later they would interpose their comedy tours with gospel shows and together wrote one of the unlikeliest publications of the 1990s, Christianity For Beginners: Faith, God And All That, by Cannon and Ball.

Their shared beliefs helped cement a bond which endured long beyond the height of their fame. 

Yesterday, Tommy Cannon, 82, said that he was ‘devastated’ to have lost ‘my partner, my best friend.’

He also described Ball as ‘the funniest man I know’, a sentiment which will be echoed by his many millions of fans – including, no doubt, those royal ‘cockers’ known more formally as Prince Philip and the Queen.

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Arrest threat to model, 23, after she fails to attend court over London ‘assault’ on her ex-husband 

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arrest threat to model 23 after she fails to attend court over london assault on her ex husband

A model dubbed ‘the Brooke Shields of Kuwait’ is facing arrest after she failed to appear in court for allegedly assaulting her former husband.

Social media influencer Rawan Bin Hussain, 23, who has five million followers on Instagram, is accused of attacking Mohammed Youssef Migariaf in London‘s Hyde Park in June. 

She is also said to have damaged a £200 shirt belonging to the Libyan businessman.

Mother-of-one Bin Hussain, who has a law degree from King’s College London, was due to appear in Westminster Magistrates’ Court charged with assault by beating and criminal damage. 

Social media influencer Rawan Bin Hussain, 23, who has five million followers on Instagram, is facing arrest after she failed to appear in court for allegedly assaulting her former husband Mohammed Youssef Migariaf

Social media influencer Rawan Bin Hussain, 23, who has five million followers on Instagram, is facing arrest after she failed to appear in court for allegedly assaulting her former husband Mohammed Youssef Migariaf

The magistrates were told that she was unable to attend because she was attending the Family Court in Dubai, and chairman Dianne Lennan issued a warrant for her arrest.

While studying law, Bin Hussain, of Fitzrovia, central London, was also working towards gaining her private pilot’s licence from the Oxford Aviation Academy. 

In an interview in 2018, Bin Hussain said she was dubbed the ‘Brooke Shields of Kuwait’ by a magazine while living in Los Angeles.

She is also said to have damaged a £200 shirt belonging to the Libyan businessman

She is also said to have damaged a £200 shirt belonging to the Libyan businessman

She said of her popularity on Instagram: ‘I’ve got so many followers because I have an interesting lifestyle. I do full-time law school and part-time aviation.

‘To me, education comes first. Whether you have lots of money or not, you’re nothing without education… My whole life, I’ve worked so much to get good grades in high school to come to London and study.’

She added: ‘I got bullied so much in school for being overweight, but I put all my effort and all my energy into graduating as a top student and on working on myself – and look where I am today.’

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Coronavirus Scotland: Nicola Sturgeon unveils 5-tier lockdown areas

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coronavirus scotland nicola sturgeon unveils 5 tier lockdown areas

Nicola Sturgeon today admitted she cannot rule out imposing nationwide coronavirus restrictions on Scotland ‘in the next few weeks’ as she unveiled her new five-tier plan for local lockdowns. 

The First Minister this afternoon revealed which parts of Scotland will be in which tier when her new rules come into force from Monday. 

She urged people to ‘dig in and stick with it’ but she conceded rising infection rates could ultimately force her to ditch her regional approach in favour of a blanket national crackdown.

Ms Sturgeon’s tier system goes from a rating of zero which broadly equates to normal life, all the way up to Level Four where people would be subject to the kind of lockdown restrictions imposed across the UK at the end of March. 

The majority of local authority areas will start in Level Three which means people who live there will be prohibited from socialising indoors or outdoors with anybody they do not live with. 

Nicola Sturgeon today unveiled her new five-tier plan for local lockdowns as she said which parts of Scotland will be subject to which restrictions

Nicola Sturgeon today unveiled her new five-tier plan for local lockdowns as she said which parts of Scotland will be subject to which restrictions

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Nicola Sturgeon’s five-tier lockdown system: Which areas are in which tier?

Level Zero: No areas.  

Level One: Highland, Moray, Western Isles, Orkney, Shetland. 

Level Two: Aberdeenshire, Aberdeen, Fife, Scottish Borders, Dumfries & Galloway, Argyll & Bute, Perth & Kinross, Angus. 

Level Three: Inverclyde East, Dunbartonshire West, Dunbartonshire, Renfrewshire, East Renfrewshire, City of Glasgow, South Ayrshire, East Ayrshire, North Ayrshire, Stirling, Falkirk, Clackmannanshire, City of Edinburgh, Midlothian, West Lothian, East Lothian, Dundee, North Lanarkshire, South Lanarkshire.

Level Four: No areas.

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Ms Sturgeon said: ‘We are, as of now, making progress in Scotland. But cases are still rising and the situation we face is fragile. And across Europe the pandemic is accelerating.

‘So I cannot rule out a move back to nationwide restrictions in the next few weeks, including at Level Four.

‘That could happen if, for example, cases in parts of the county start to rise faster again, to the extent that controlling spread with travel restrictions will not be effective.’

The new tiered restrictions will come into force from 6am on Monday and Ms Sturgeon told MSPs in Holyrood that decisions to change the levels of each local authority area, depending on increases and decreases in infections, will be put before the Scottish Parliament on Tuesdays. 

Any changes would then come into force from the following Friday.  

The decisions will be reviewed each week and the next review will take place on November 10, with any changes coming into force on November 13.

Ms Sturgeon said that no local authority areas will be placed in the Zero level to begin with. 

More isolated parts of the country like the Highlands, Moray, the Western Isles, Orkney and Shetland will be placed in the second lowest level of restrictions. 

Meanwhile, Aberdeenshire, Aberdeen, Fife, the Borders, Dumfries and Galloway, Argyll and Bute, Perth and Kinross and Angus will be in placed into Level Two. 

Speaking in the Scottish Parliament, the First Minister said there was a ‘finely balanced’ decision made to put the Borders and Argyll and Bute in Level Two rather than Level One, which she said was due to their proximity to areas where the level of coronavirus was higher.

Ms Sturgeon said: ‘In both cases one of the key factors in reaching our decision was the interconnection with neighbouring areas – particularly with health services in Lothian and Greater Glasgow and Clyde.

‘We have also considered the impact of travel from nearby areas with higher prevalence of Covid-19.

‘As a result we have decided to take a cautious approach by applying Level 2 to both areas. We will, however, consider this decision very carefully at the next review point.’

The Scottish central belt which includes Edinburgh and Glasgow, as well as Dundee, Inverclyde and Ayrshire, will all start in Level Three. 

North and South Lanarkshire were being considered for Level Four earlier this week, according to a letter from the Scottish Government to local authority body Cosla, however the decision was made to put the council areas into Level Three.

The First Minister said: ‘There is evidence in recent days that the situation is stabilising. That is undoubtedly down to the compliance and sacrifices of local people.

‘And the local councils, NHS Lanarkshire and the police believe they have strong partnership plans in place to maintain that progress under current restrictions.

‘For these reasons – and given the severity of Level Four restrictions – we have decided that North and South Lanarkshire should remain in Level Three at present.

‘However, I want to be very clear that this has been a borderline decision and it is one that we require to keep under review – not just weekly, but on a daily basis.’

Ms Sturgeon urged people to stick to new travel restrictions which will come into force from Monday. 

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Under the new five-tier system of restrictions, local authority areas in Level Three or Four are asked not to travel outside their local authority area.

Those in lower level areas have also been asked not to travel into council areas which are subject to higher restrictions.

The First Minister said: ‘I know travel restrictions are unwelcome and can be controversial, but they are an absolutely essential part of any regional approach to tackling Covid.

‘They are – unfortunately – a price we must pay for more targeted restrictions.

‘If people don’t abide by the travel advice, the virus will spread from high to lower prevalence areas, and a differentiated approach will become unsustainable.

‘In these circumstances, we would have to return to national restrictions.’

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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