May ‘disappointed’ at upskirting law block

Theresa May Image copyright Getty Images

Theresa May says she is “disappointed” an attempt to make upskirting a criminal offence in England and Wales did not progress through Parliament after one of her own MPs blocked it.

Conservatives have criticised Sir Christopher Chope for objecting to the private member’s bill.

If passed, it could see someone who has secretly taken a photo under a victim’s skirt face up to two years in prison.

The PM said she wanted to see it pass soon “with government support”.

Minister for Women, Victoria Atkins, said the government will allocate time for the bill in Parliament to ensure it does not get pushed down the list of private members’ bills, which would mean it could some time to return to the Commons.

Ministers are among those criticising Sir Christopher’s intervention, with Justice Secretary David Gauke also tweeting his disappointment with the lack of progress as the law “needs to be reformed”.

But his backbench colleagues have gone further – Tory MP Nick Boles tweeted that Sir Christopher was a politician “whose knuckles dragged along the ground”.

Sir Christopher has yet to speak out about why he blocked the bill but upskirting victim Gina Martin – who started the campaign for the new law – said he had told her he objected to it “on principle” because it “wasn’t debated”.

She also told the BBC that he said he “wasn’t really sure” what upskirting was.

“I said, ‘well, I can help you with that’,” Ms Martin added.

The bill was expected to sail through the Commons on Friday, but parliamentary rules mean it only required one MP to shout “object” to block its progress.

Sir Christopher’s intervention was met with shouts of “shame” from other MPs.

Image copyright Gina Martin
Image caption Ms Martin started the campaign after two men took a picture up her skirt but weren’t prosecuted for it

International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt tweeted that many will be “disappointed”, but that the hard work of campaigners and MPs to get the bill through Parliament “will not be in vain”.

Culture Secretary Matt Hancock said individuals “can delay, but not prevent” the bill from becoming law.

Other Tory MPs stronger with their criticisms included George Freeman, who used to lead Theresa May’s policy unit.

He said the move was “an affront to parliamentary democracy”, while Cheltenham MP Alex Chalk said Sir Christopher had “let us all down”.

Scottish Conservative MP Paul Masterton said the intervention did “damage” to the public’s view of the party.

And Conservative MP and chair of the Commons Foreign Select Committee, Tom Tugendhat, said it was “shaming” for his party.

Mr Tugendhat told BBC News: “It’s really objectionable that Christopher should have done this without even knowing what the bill was.

“I think it’s disgraceful to block a law that is designed to protect people from having their most intimate selves intruded upon. It’s completely unacceptable.”

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Media captionHear MPs shout “shame” after Sir Christopher objects to the bill

Tory MP and chair of the Commons Justice Select Committee, Bob Neill, has written to the prime minister to ask for the bill to be allowed its second reading, criticising the “arcane parliamentary procedure” that stopped it.

Liberal Democrat MP Wera Hobhouse, who brought the private member’s bill to Parliament, also criticised the “out-of-touch Tory” for “sabotaging” it.

Ms Hobhouse has asked for her bill to return to the House on 6 July.

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Media captionWera Hobhouse ‘angry’ after Tory MP blocks upskirting law

Justice minister Lucy Frazer said the government was “committed to making sure upskirting becomes a criminal offence and have every expectation that this will happen”.

So why did Sir Christopher object?

By Mark D’Arcy, BBC parliamentary correspondent

Image copyright PA
Image caption Sir Christopher shouted “object” to the bill, stopping it from progressing through the Commons

Sir Christopher is a leading member of a group of backbench Conservatives who make a practice of ensuring that what they see as well-meaning but flabby legislation is not lazily plopped on to the statute book by a few MPs on a poorly attended Friday sitting.

And after all this is a bill to create a new criminal offence, for which people can go to jail.

So, however worthy the cause, he insists on proper, extensive scrutiny, and he has spent most Commons Fridays for the last 20 years doing just that.

Indeed, a few minutes before he blocked the upskirting bill, he forced a delay to Seni’s Law, which also had strong support from the government.

He also opposed plans to give police dogs and horses extra legal protections from attack.

The upskirting bill is not dead – there will be other opportunities to get it passed – but they will only succeed if Sir Christopher and his allies can be persuaded not to object again.

The only other alternative is for the government to provide debating time for it, or, far more likely, to add the proposals to a bill of their own.

Labour MPs have also expressed their anger at the move by Sir Christopher.

Dawn Butler, Labour’s shadow minister for women and equalities, said: “It’s absolutely disgusting that a male Tory MP has blocked upskirting from becoming a criminal offence.

“If Theresa May is serious about tackling this vile practice, and injustices like sexism, she will need to show leadership and show there’s no place in the Tory party for Christopher Chope.”

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Media caption“He was laughing”: Three women tell the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire about their experience of upskirting

Ms Martin said she remained “positive and hopeful” about the bill and had arranged a meeting to discuss it further with Sir Christopher.

She started the campaign to change the law after two men took a picture up her skirt while she was at a concert in London’s Hyde Park last July.

Police said they were unable to prosecute as the picture was not graphic enough because she was wearing underwear.

What is the current law?

  • There is no law specifically naming and banning upskirting in England and Wales, victims and police are currently only able to pursue offences of outraging public decency or as a crime of voyeurism
  • Upskirting has been an offence in Scotland since 2010 when it was listed under the broadened definition of voyeurism

What are the limitations of the current situation in England and Wales?

  • Voyeurism only applies to filming actions taking place in private
  • Outraging public decency usually requires someone to have witnessed the action but upskirting is often unobserved
  • Unlike other sexual offences, people don’t have automatic right to anonymity

What does the new law propose?

  • As well as carrying a maximum two-year sentence, it would also allow, in the most serious cases, those convicted to be placed on the sex offenders register



Mark Beaumont beats 127-year-old Penny Farthing record

Scots cyclist Mark Beaumont rode 21.92 miles (35.3km) in an hour on the vintage-style bike to beat the 127-year-old British record at Herne Hill Velodrome.

But the Scottish cyclist was 290 yards short of the world record of 22 miles and 150 yards.

Mark holds the record for cycling around the world, which he did in 2017 in 79 days, 44 fewer than the previous record.



Eurydice Dixon: Comedian’s killing prompts anger in Australia

Eurydice Dixon at a comedy show Image copyright FACEBOOK
Image caption Eurydice Dixon has been remembered as a promising young comedian

The alleged rape and murder of a young comedian as she walked home at night in Australia has prompted an outpouring of public grief and anger.

The body of Eurydice Dixon, 22, was found at a football field in Melbourne early on Wednesday, only hours after she had performed a gig at a city bar.

A man, 19, has been charged by police.

Comedians and the public have inundated social media with tributes to Ms Dixon, in a case that has reignited local debate about violence against women.

For many, it has evoked memories of the 2012 murder of an Irish woman, Jill Meagher, whose death in an adjacent Melbourne suburb prompted a peace march involving an estimated 30,000 people.

Although not widely known, Ms Dixon has been remembered as a talented comedian at the start of her career.

“She had a great passion for women’s issues and social justice issues and she drew upon them a lot in the material that she produced as a comic,” fellow comedian Nicky Barry told the Australian Broadcasting Corp.

What have police said?

Authorities allege that Ms Dixon was attacked in the suburb of Carlton North sometime after leaving a bar in central Melbourne about 22:30 local time on Tuesday.

A 19-year-old man, Jaymes Todd, handed himself to police on Wednesday night. He was later charged with her rape and murder.

Local media reported that Ms Dixon was a few hundred metres from home when she was attacked.

According to The Age newspaper, she had earlier sent a text message to a friend saying: “I’m almost home safe, HBU [how about you].”

On Thursday, a court prohibited the publication of images of Mr Todd after his lawyer argued that he was vulnerable in custody, and that intense media scrutiny could affect the reliability of witness statements.

Mr Todd did not apply for bail and will face a court again on 3 October.

‘Right to walk home alone’

Ms Dixon’s death has also renewed a more general discussion in Australia about violence against women.

Many women on social media have shared their own thoughts about safety, with some detailing personal experiences.

Some also criticised police messages which had warned people to be aware of their surroundings, with some likening the language to victim-blaming.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews wrote on social media: “In a few days, women across Melbourne will hold a vigil in Princes Park for the life of Eurydice Dixon.

“They will do so firm in the knowledge that Eurydice died because of her attacker’s decisions – not because of her own. They’re right. And we need to accept that fact, too.”

An online fundraising page for Ms Dixon’s family has received more than A$30,000 (£17,000; $22,000) in donations.



Cate Blanchett and Sandra Bullock say they need to ‘stop being polite’

Sandra Bullock and Cate Blanchett Image copyright Warner Bros
Image caption Sandra Bullock and Cate Blanchett lead the film’s all-star cast

Ocean’s 8 has more A-list actresses than virtually any film in Hollywood history, but its stars say it’s time they demanded more equality behind the scenes.

With countless box office smashes to their names and a best actress Oscar in each of their trophy cabinets, Sandra Bullock and Cate Blanchett are Hollywood veterans.

“Old. We’re old. Is that what you’re saying?”

It’s one of many answers Blanchett delivers with a glint in her eye while speaking to BBC News, seated next to her co-star.

But, she adds, the pair’s latest movie is unlike any other she’s starred in recently.

“In my career, I’ve only ever made one other film with an all-female cast, and that was the first film I ever made, called Paradise Road,” she says. “So this is a very rare occurrence.”

Ocean’s 8 topped the US box office last weekend and has had mostly positive reviews – but one criticism it received is that it’s simply jumping on the back of a male franchise.

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Media captionSandra Bullock: “I never love the red carpet”

Speaking to the BBC last year, film critic Rhianna Dillon pointed out: “They could’ve just done a fantastic heist movie with women, and not have anything to do with Ocean’s anything.

“It’s frustrating that they always seem to have to piggyback off a male franchise to make any headway.”

I suggest to Blanchett maybe an original film could’ve been made instead.

“Absolutely! Bring it on,” she replies. But, she goes on to defend the thinking behind Ocean’s 8.

“When someone has an idea they’re really passionate about, as [director] Gary Ross did, he saw Sandy [Bullock] at the centre of this story, and I thought, ‘Wow, can that work? That’s got a lot of chutzpah that idea’.

“And when he listed the women he wanted to put together, he was so passionate about it, you think, ‘Great, go and make that’.

Image copyright Warner Bros
Image caption L-R: Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Mindy Kaling, Sarah Paulson, Awkwafina, Anne Hathaway, Rihanna and Helena Bonham Carter

“[The film] doesn’t say, ‘Only make extensions of franchises men have been in’. This film cannot stand for every single film.

“It’s when you have a cornucopia of female-driven narratives on screen that things are really healthy and exciting.”

Mindy Kaling, another of the new Ocean’s crew, admits: “Franchise fatigue is something a lot of people have.”

But, she adds: “There are lots of things, like the remake of Picnic At Hanging Rock [which] is affording so many roles for women, so I think it’s hard to look a gift horse in the mouth when it’s giving you so many opportunities.”

Image copyright Marion Curtis
Image caption While the principle cast is all-female, Blanchett says behind the camera things were “very male”

So, given the main cast is female, what was the gender split like in the crew?

“Very male,” replies Blanchett instantly.

“Costume designer was female,” Bullock adds.

Representation behind the camera is an issue Blanchett has been personally monitoring for some time.

“I’ve been doing this thing on every film set I’ve been on in the last few years, and having stepped away to run a theatre company for 10 years, I’ve come back, and all those clapper loaders who were women, they’re not [camera] operating. They’re not lighting,” she says.

“But all the clapper loaders who were men are operating and lighting. And so the career trajectory for the female members in the crew is [limited]… I’m very passionate about that.”

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption McDormand has called for inclusion riders in films, which ensure diversity behind the camera

“I think it’s part of what Frances McDormand was saying about inclusion riders.”

McDormand called for inclusion riders – clauses in film contracts which stipulate there must be equality among cast and crew – when she accepted this year’s best actress Oscar.

Blanchett and Bullock begin riffing off each other as they make clear how strongly they feel about this issue.

Cate: “I’ve always been quite proactive in things I can do as an actress in trying to wrestle with the character and subvert expectations and female cliches. But I’ve been very polite about what I ask for on set. And I think now, it’s like, you know what?…”

Sandra: “Stop being polite.”

Cate: “We need this proportion of men to women on crews.”

Sandra: “And also diversity. In terms of ethnicity and sexual orientation.”

Cate: “It’s not just to make women happy for a small moment in time.”

Sandra: “God forbid.”

Cate: “It’s a much more creative way to work.”

Image copyright PA/Getty
Image caption Rihanna, Sandra Bullock, Sarah Paulson and Cate Blanchett at the London premiere

Asked about the same issue later, Kaling says: “I do agree with the spirit of what Frances is saying, there’s a lot of under-looked people, specifically women, in crews.”

But fellow Ocean’s 8 star Sarah Paulson cautions: “I think whomever is best suited for the job is who should be hired, always.”

Paulson is no stranger to films but arguably made her name on TV, and last year won a Golden Globe and an Emmy for her role in The People vs OJ Simpson.

“There was a time where nobody wanted to do television, it was just a bunch of dodos, and it was like, ‘You can’t get any film work huh? Going over to TV? Aww, I’m sorry’,” she remembers.

“And now I feel like very accomplished people in the film world know that where the storytelling is, where the writing is, where the roles are, tend to be in television right now.”

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman star in Big Little Lies

Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon are among the stars of the big screen to have recently made the leap to TV, as the leads in HBO’s Big Little Lies. Meryl Streep is joining the show for the second season.

But, Paulson laughs, “I’m like, this was my place, and now like I can’t compete when Meryl Streep is doing Big Little Lies, like, what’s going to be left for me?! Nothing. Maybe we can go be the movie stars!”

Bullock agrees: “I honestly feel the Netflix world, the streaming world, is influencing the quality of films.

“Films are losing people to the streaming world, and I think we now need to step up our game in the film industry in order to keep an audience.”

Ocean’s 8 is released in the UK on Monday.



Children in England consuming ‘twice as much sugar as recommended’

A young girl takes a big drink of orange juice during a meal Image copyright Getty Images

Children in England have already consumed more than their recommended sugar intake for 2018, according to Public Health England survey – and we’re only halfway through June.

Four to 10-year-olds are eating more than twice as much sugar as they should per day, equivalent to 13 sugar cubes.

That amounts to 4,800 sugar cubes on average by the end of the year, the survey revealed.

It said sugary soft drinks, cake and pastries were the main causes.

The figures are based on a diet and nutrition survey of 1,000 children and parents.

‘Unnecessary sugar’

PHE encouraged parents to switch to lower or no sugar alternatives, saying “snacks and drinks are adding unnecessary sugar to children’s diets without us even noticing”.

The main sources of sugar in children’s diets are:

  • Sugary soft drinks (including squashes, juice drinks, energy drinks, cola and other fizzy drinks) – 10%
  • Buns, cakes, pastries and fruit pies – 10%
  • Sugars, including table sugar, preserves and sweet spreads – 9%
  • Biscuits – 9%
  • Breakfast cereals – 8%
  • Chocolate confectionery – 7%
  • Sugar confectionery – 7%
  • Yoghurt, fromage frais and other dairy desserts – 6%
  • Ice cream – 5%
  • Puddings – 4%

Fruit juice with no added sugar can be a healthier alternative to soft drinks, but if drunk in large quantities it can still contribute a large amount to sugar intake in children’s diets.

So PHE recommends that fruit juices and smoothies should be limited to 150ml a day.

Children should have no more than the equivalent of five to six cubes of sugar per day. Too much sugar in their diets can lead to weight gain, obesity and tooth decay.

Latest figures show that a third of children leave primary school overweight or obese and around a quarter of five-year-olds have painful tooth decay.

The sugar tax on soft drinks came into force in the UK in April, leading to some brands cutting the sugar content of their drinks.

Manufacturers now have to pay a levy on the high-sugar drinks they sell.

PHE is working with the food industry to cut 20% of sugar from the foods children consume most by 2020.

Caroline Cerny, from the Obesity Health Alliance, said: “These startling figures highlight the need for further robust action from government in their upcoming second edition of the Childhood Obesity Plan.

“A package of measures including restrictions on the advertising of junk food to children, action on price promotions on unhealthy products and clearer food labelling will help parents to make healthy choices and ensure their children have the healthiest possible start in life”.



Babies most likely to be born at 4am, study finds

Baby girl a few minutes after her birth Image copyright Getty Images

Four o’clock in the morning is the time most babies are born spontaneously in England, with the majority arriving between 01:00 and 07:00, a study shows.

While planned C-section births tended to happen on weekday mornings, births after induced labours were more likely to occur around midnight.

Overall, more than 70% of births took place outside regular working hours.

The analysis of five million births between 2005 and 2014 was carried out by University College London.

The researchers said there could be implications for staffing of midwives and doctors, with only 28% of births taking place between 09:00 and 17:00 on weekdays.

Birth trends

Since the 1950s, patterns of birth have changed because of rising rates of intervention, such as C-sections and inductions.

Prof Alison Macfarlane, research author from City, University of London, said that “current trends in obstetric intervention at birth may work in opposite directions”.

With rates of induction rising, she said induced births were more likely to occur at night, while rates of pre-planned caesareans – which are also going up – are likely to be scheduled for morning hours.

She added that more home births could “lower rates of obstetric intervention and affect these trends and impact on the overall timing of birth”.

Dr Peter Martin, lecturer in applied statistics at University College London, who was also part of the research team, said there could be an evolutionary reason for spontaneous births being concentrated at night.

“Our ancestors lived in groups that were active and dispersed during the day and came together to rest at night.

“So a night-time labour and birth probably afforded the mother and newborn baby some protection.”

However, this doesn’t explain why spontaneous birth numbers were 7% lower on Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

More than just birth

Sean O’Sullivan, from the Royal College of Midwives, said the research would help maternity services to organise their staffing rotas but individual services would also need to look at the patterns of birth in their local areas.

He said the work of midwives encompassed more than just birth, including antenatal and postnatal care, infant feeding and maternal mental health.

“Any planning of services must consider also these aspects of care,” he said.

Elizabeth Duff, senior policy adviser from the parent’s charity NCT, said: “This study tells us parents aren’t bothered about the timing of the birth as long as it results in healthy mums and babies.

“So it’s worrying that induction appears to be timed so that the babies are most frequently born around midnight, when senior staff are less widely available to assist if complications arise.”



Doubts raised over Universal Credit roll-out

Universal Credit website pic

The £1.9bn Universal Credit system may end up costing more to administer than the benefits system it is replacing, according to the National Audit Office.

Ministers can never know if it puts the promised 200,000 extra people in work or saves £2.1bn in fraud and error, the public spending watchdog says.

It adds some claimants waited eight months for payment amid the switch to UC, which rolls six benefits into one.

The government said UC will bring a £34bn return over 10 years.

It said more people would get into work and stay there longer and that it had taken a “listen and learn” approach to the introduction of the system.

The move to the UC system has long been criticised for its delayed and flawed implementation, with more than 110,000 people paid late in 2017 alone.

What is Universal Credit?

Universal Credit merges six benefits (income support; income-based jobseeker’s allowance; income-related employment and support allowance; housing benefit; child tax credit; working tax credit) into one.

It was designed to make claiming benefits simpler. A single payment is paid directly into claimants’ bank accounts to cover whichever benefits they are eligible for.

Claimants then have to pay costs, such as rent, out of their UC payment. It can be claimed by people whether they are in or out of work – but payment decreases as you earn more.

Read more

The Child Poverty Action Group questioned whether the government should push on with a programme that was “demonstrably failing”.

But the NAO report found that so many changes had been made to job centres and working practices that there was no “alternative but to continue”.

Eight years after work began on UC, only 10% of the total number of people expected to claim are on the system, the NAO says.

And one in five do not receive their full payment on time, the report adds.

A significant minority of those paid late, some 20% – these are usually the more needy and complicated cases – are waiting five months or more to be paid.

And yet the Department for Work and Pensions does not accept that UC has caused hardship among claimants, the report says.

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Media captionUniversal Credit has proved controversial almost from the beginning

The report points to a recent internal departmental report showing 40% of claimants are experiencing financial difficulties.

It says the DWP has not shown sufficient sensitivity towards some claimants as it will not accept late payments have caused hardship to people, because advances are available.

It argues if claimants take up these opportunities, hardship should not occur.

This approach had led the DWP to “dismiss evidence of claimants’ difficulties and hardship instead of working with these bodies to establish an evidence base for what is actually happening”.

“The result has been a dialogue of claim and counter-claim and gives the unhelpful impression of a department that is unsympathetic to claimants.”

Analysis of DWP payment data revealed that in 2017, around one-quarter (113,000) of new claims were not paid in full on time.

Late payments were delayed on average by four weeks, but from January to October 2017, 40% of those affected by late payments waited in total around 11 weeks or more.

Some 20% waited almost five months and about 8% had to wait for eight months.

Despite recent improvements, one-fifth of of new claimants in March 2018 did not receive their full entitlement on time. Some 13% received no payment on time.

Meg Hillier, chair of the Public Accounts Committee said the introduction of UC had been “one long catalogue of delay with huge impact on people’s lives”.

‘Financial misery’

A spokesman for the DWP said: “We are building a benefit system fit for the 21st Century, providing flexible, person-centred support with evidence showing Universal Credit claimants getting into work faster and staying in work longer.”

He insisted Universal Credit was good value for money and repeated the forecast that it will realise a return on investment of £34bn over 10 years against a cost of £2bn, with 200,000 more people in work.

“Furthermore, 83% of claimants are satisfied with the service and the majority agree that it ‘financially motivates’ them to work,” he said.

Jane Ahrends, of the Child Poverty Action Group, said the NAO presented a “justifiably bleak” picture.

“Today’s report must give ministers pause for thought,” she said.

“Will the government press on with a programme that is demonstrably failing – causing financial misery for families – or will it restore the money that’s been taken out of Universal Credit in an effort to rehabilitate it for struggling families.”

Emma Revie, chief executive of food bank charity The Trussell Trust, called for more support to be put in place for “groups of people most likely to need a food bank, and debt advice to be offered to everyone moving on to the new system”.



World Cup 2018: I’m going to Russia to show LGBT fans it’s OK to be who you are

Raheem Sterling, Dele Alli and Harry Kane behind an LGBT flag Image copyright Getty Images

This summer I’m joining around 10,000 other England fans in Russia to cheer on the Three Lions.

After clashes between England and Russia fans during Euro 2016, we’re all going to have to have our wits about us.

But, because I’m gay, I’m going to have to be extra careful.

LGBT+ fans have been told they face extra risks in Russia because of the country’s attitudes to homosexuality.

Image caption Getting ready for the journey over

I’m very nervous about going.

But once I’m there and I get to soak up the atmosphere, I’m sure the adrenaline will just start kicking in and all my worries will be gone.

I was inspired to go because everyone told me that as a gay supporter I shouldn’t.

The most common question I get from friends isn’t “when are you going?”, it’s “are you still going?”

That’s the idea – that I shouldn’t be going now.

I want to be able to show other LGBT supporters that it’s OK to be who you are and to go to events like this all over the world, regardless of what your situation is like.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Support for LGBT fans was on show at Euro 2016 in France

In 2013, Russia banned gay “propaganda” – and the UK’s Foreign Office says that “public attitudes towards LGBT+ issues are less tolerant than in the UK”.

The Football Supporters’ Federation advises gay fans to “not publicly display your sexuality” while in Russia.

If I were to arrive there with a rainbow flag, I would be shunned, pushed aside and maybe even given abuse for it.

However with the World Cup being a platform, I think that Russian people will be more understanding and acceptable because they’re getting people in from all over the world.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Premier League clubs have backed LGBT fans with the rainbow laces campaign

Having said that, if I was going with a partner I wouldn’t show any type of PDA (public display of affection) at all – I wouldn’t even hold hands or anything like that.

That would be a very difficult situation to put myself in because in previous relationships, I’ve always been very open with that sort of thing.

To then have to be closed off, it goes against everything that I am and believe in.

As it happens, I’m going with my best friend.

He’s straight and he’s quite nervous about being with me – because if someone did find out that I was openly gay, they would obviously assume that he was gay with me and it could be quite a conflict.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Vladimir Putin said LGBT athletes were welcome in Russia in 2014

Before the Winter Olympics in Sochi in 2014, Russian President Vladimir Putin gave assurances that gay people wouldn’t be discriminated against.

He hasn’t given those same assurances this time around.

It does make me on edge that he hasn’t addressed it – and it does make you wonder if his views and opinions have changed, or whether or not he actually cares about it.

The World Cup’s anti-discrimination chief Alexei Smertin tried to reassure minorities, saying people will feel “safe and comfortable”.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Alexei Smertin wants to reassure minorities that they will be safe in Russia

I think that given Russia is trying to sell itself on a world stage, it will deal with any instances of homophobia during the tournament.

I’m going to go there and be me.

I’ll probably tone things down a little bit – I don’t want to be drawing attention to myself.

But at the same time, I’m not going to change who I am for the sake of others.

Newsbeat is at the World Cup in Russia this summer.

You can follow our coverage on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

Or listen live at 12:45 and 17:45 every weekday on BBC Radio 1 and 1Xtra – if you miss us you can listen back here.



‘The prisoners can sense your fear’

Neil Samworth Image copyright Neil Samworth
Image caption Neil Samworth described the wards at HMP Manchester as “lawless” and “chaotic”

Neil Samworth used to love his job as a prison officer, but more than a decade after joining he says it left him angry, frustrated and living with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It meant he had to leave.

“Prisoners can sense fear in people’s faces,” the former guard tells the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme, remembering how he was the subject of their animosity.

There was a time when he was confident in the role, having started as a prison officer in 2001, and felt his experience gave him the edge over the inmates he looked after.

But a shoulder injury that occurred during a physical restraint in 2015 at HMP Manchester – formerly known as Strangeways – changed all that.

The injury left him unable to work for several weeks but much greater than that was the psychological impact.

The wards had become “chaotic” and “lawless”, he says, containing “extremely violent” prisoners with not enough guards on duty should the atmosphere turn sour.

‘Very confrontational’

The time off to reflect led him to become “angry, frustrated” and develop anxiety problems.

“It got worse over a couple of months,” he says, “and I referred myself to psychological services. I talked and talked and everything came out.

“I became very confrontational, which isn’t me.

“When that happens [while on duty], prisoners become hostile and start shouting in your face,” he says, which only made matters worse.

“We were so short-staffed, and when there was an incident it was hard to deal with, so they were being locked up more and more to keep control.”

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption HMP Manchester was described as “squalid” in a 2017 report by the Independent Monitoring Board

Then they’re “frustrated”, he says, which escalates the tension.

In 2017, there were 8,429 assaults on staff in England and Wales, Ministry of Justice figures show, up 23% from the previous year. Of these, 864 were classed as serious.

“I got assaulted a few times in prison,” says Mr Samworth – who has written the book Strangeways about his experience.

“I was punched, bitten and spat on so many times. It’s scary.”

By mid-2016, having being involved in a narrowly-averted riot, he took early retirement on mental health grounds.

He had suffered from anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from his experiences at the prison.


HMP Manchester, a high-security prison, houses around 1,200 male inmates.

A 2017 report by the Independent Monitoring Board said it was “squalid, vermin-infested” and “reminiscent of Dickensian England”.

In September 2015, a convicted murderer spent more than 60 hours on top of a Manchester prison because, he later told a jury, “no-one was listening” to his concerns about prison conditions.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Convicted murderer Stuart Horner spent 60 hours on top of the prison’s roof

During Mr Samworth’s time there, he worked on the prison’s most-populated wing, with inmates on three different levels.

It was home, he says, to both “normal prisoners” and those “who were locked up for radicalisation and terrorist incidents”.

He believes it led to many of the general inmates becoming radicalised.

“There were lots of impressionable people. One lad said, ‘I’m fighting a 10-year sentence and I can’t do it all on my own’,” he remembers.

“Others were getting really into it – all they were talking about was blowing things up.”

Child killers

Mr Samworth also worked on the hospital’s medical wing, “where you had everything from cancer patients and alcohol and drug detoxes to mental health patients – plus extremely violent and obstructive prisoners”.

Many would be on medication, but he says there was little officers could do if they refused to take it.

“We saw people incredibly unwell, with serious self-harming.

“Someone who’s detoxing will be bouncing off walls, hallucinating, and be extremely violent.

“We had child killers, paedophiles, violent rapists [on the ward] and there was no support from the prison really. We’d just deal with it in the unit.”

The Ministry of Justice said more than 14,300 prison staff had “already received new suicide and self-harm reduction training on top of the safer custody training already provided across the prisons estate”.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption In 1990, before Mr Samworth worked there, a 25-day riot took place at Strangeways – the longest in British penal history

Mr Samworth fears the strain on prison officers is now getting worse, with many experienced staff leaving in recent years.

“A massive part of prison [as a guard] was dynamic security, and knowing your prisoners well,” he says.

“There are thousands of relationships with prisoners and staff and that’s what kept prisons safe – as you knew what was going on, who was getting bullied.”

But newly-recruited officers – as well as not having this knowledge, he says – are no longer “allowed time to adjust” on first joining the profession.

“You’re put in charge straight away.”

The Ministry of Justice said it had “recruited over 3,000 prison officers in the last 18 months to improve safety” in England and Wales, adding that it had increased prison officer pay by an average of 1.7% to help retain experienced staff.

It is now two-and-a-half years since Mr Samworth himself exited the profession, and he says he has only just started to feel like a “normal person” again following his mental health problems.

“I did love the job but it got worse,” he concludes.

“So I’m glad in a way I left.”

Watch the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme on weekdays between 09:00 and 11:00 on BBC Two and the BBC News Channel in the UK.



Labour’s Janet Daby wins Lewisham East in by-election

Janet Daby Image copyright Labour Party
Image caption Janet Daby is the new MP for Lewisham East

Labour’s Janet Daby has won the Lewisham East by-election, which was triggered by the resignation of Labour MP Heidi Alexander.

The ex-deputy mayor of Lewisham won with 50.2% of the vote, and said she felt “humbled and delighted”.

Ms Alexander announced in May she was quitting Parliament to work for Mayor of London Sadiq Khan.

Ms Daby was picked as a candidate from a shortlist of black and ethnic minority women.

She received 11,033 votes, the Lib Dem candidate Lucy Salek 5,404 (24.6%) and the Conservative candidate Ross Archer 3,161 (14.4%).

  • Labour chooses by-election candidate

In her acceptance speech Ms Daby said her victory meant “we will not tolerate an extreme Brexit in Lewisham East”.

“We refuse to stand by and let a Tory government devastate our schools, our health service and our housing,” she added.

Ms Daby has been a councillor for Lewisham since 2010 and is the director of the Whitefoot and Downham Community Food + Project which she founded in 2013.

A total of 21,979 people turned out to vote in the by-election – 33.2% of the electorate.

There was an 19% swing from Labour to the Lib Dems, who saw a 20% increase in their vote share from the last election.

Image copyright UK Parliament
Image caption Former Lewisham East Labour MP Heidi Alexander is now Sadiq Khan’s new deputy mayor for transport

Labour won the south-east London seat at the 2017 general election with 32,072 votes – a majority of more than 20,000.

Their new majority is 5,629.

The full results in Lewisham East were:

  • Janet Daby – Labour 11,033 (50.2%)
  • Lucy Salek – Liberal Democrats 5,404 (24.6%)
  • Ross Archer – Conservative 3,161 (14.4%)
  • Rosamund Adoo-Kissi-Debrah – Green Party 788 (3.6%)
  • Mandu Reid – Women’s Equality Party 506 (2.3%)
  • David Kurten – UKIP 380 (1.7%)
  • Anne Marie Waters – For Britain Movement 266 (1.2%)
  • Maureen Martin – Christian Peoples Alliance 168
  • Howling Laud Hope – Monster Raving Loony Party 93
  • Massimo DiMambro – Democrats and Veterans Party 67
  • Sean Finch – Libertarian Party 38
  • Charles Carey – no description 37
  • Patrick Gray – Radical Party 20
  • Thomas Hall – Young People’s Party 18