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Facebook: Another three billion fake profiles culled

Facebook logo Image copyright Reuters

Facebook has published its latest “enforcement report”, which details how many posts and accounts it took action on between October 2018 and March 2019.

During that six-month period, Facebook removed more than three billion fake accounts – more than ever before.

More than seven million “hate speech” posts were removed, also a record high.

For the first time, Facebook also reported how many deleted posts were appealed, and how many were put back online after review.

Fake accounts

Facebook said the rise in the number of deleted fake accounts was because “bad actors” were using automated methods to create large numbers of them.

But it said it spotted and deleted a majority of them within minutes, before they had any opportunity to “cause harm”.

The social network will now also report how many posts were removed for selling “regulated goods” such as drugs and guns.

It said it took action on more than one million posts selling guns in the six-month period covered by the report.

Prevalence

For some types of content, such as child sex abuse imagery, violence and terrorist propaganda, the report estimates how often such content was actually seen by people on Facebook.

The report said that out of every 10,000 pieces of content viewed on Facebook:

  • fewer than 14 people saw nudity
  • about 25 people saw violence or graphic content
  • fewer than three people saw child abuse imagery or terrorist propaganda

Overall, about 5% of the monthly active users on Facebook were fake accounts.

Appeals

For the first time, the report reveals that between January and March 2019 more than one million appeals were made after posts were deleted for “hate speech”.

About 150,000 posts that were found not to have broken the hate speech policy were restored during that period.

Facebook said the report highlighted “areas where we could be more open in order to build more accountability and responsiveness to the people who use our platform”.

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Bittersweet Symphony song dispute is over

Richard Ashcroft Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Richard Ashcroft referred to Bittersweet Symphony as a “masterpiece”

One of rock music’s most famous injustices has finally been resolved.

For the last 22 years, The Verve haven’t made a penny from Bittersweet Symphony, after forfeiting the royalties to The Rolling Stones.

The song was embroiled in a legal battle shortly after its release, after The Verve sampled an orchestral version of The Stones’ song The Last Time.

As a result, writer Richard Ashcroft had to sign over his rights to Mick Jagger and Keith Richards – until now.

Speaking as he received a lifetime achievement prize at the Ivor Novello Awards, Ashcroft announced: “As of last month, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards signed over all their publishing for Bittersweet Symphony, which was a truly kind and magnanimous thing for them to do.”

Ashcroft acknowledged that it was the Rolling Stones’ late manager, Allen Klein, who had been responsible for the situation, rather than the musicians themselves.

“I never had a personal beef with the Stones,” he told the BBC. “They’ve always have been the greatest rock and roll band in the world.”

He went on to thank Jagger and Richards for acknowledging he was responsible “for this [expletive] masterpiece”.

“It’s been a fantastic development,” he added. “It’s life-affirming in a way.

According to Rolling Stone magazine, the royalty dispute arose in 1997 when The Verve sought permission to sample a symphonic version of The Last Time, recorded in 1965 by the Andrew Oldham Orchestra.

They agreed to license a five-note segment of the recording in exchange for 50 percent of the royalties, but Klein claimed the Verve voided the agreement by using a larger portion of the song.

ABKCO Records, Klein’s holding company, filed a plagiarism case, after which The Verve relinquished all their royalties and publishing rights to ABKCO, and the song credit reverted to Jagger and Richards.

The situation rankled The Verve for years.

“We were told it was going to be a 50/50 split,” recalled bassist Simon Jones.

“Then they saw how well the record was doing they rung up and said, ‘We want 100 percent or take it out of the shops, you don’t have much choice.'”

The bitterest pill came when the song was nominated for a best song Grammy – with Jagger and Richards’ names on the ballot.

Asked in 1999 if he believed The Verve had been treated fairly, Richards replied: “I’m out of whack here, this is serious lawyer [stuff].”

However, he added: “If the Verve can write a better song, they can keep the money.”

  • Protest music dominates songwriting awards
  • Ryan Tedder slams ‘ludicrous’ copyright cases

Ashcroft picked up the Outstanding Contribution prize at Thursday’s Ivor Novello Awards, which recognise achievement in songwriting.

Other winners included Deep Purple, Dido and Mariah Carey, who won the special international award.

“I rarely get acknowledged for my songwriting, which is the core of who I am,” said the diva in a video message – due to the fact she’s performing at an AIDS gala in Cannes on Thursday evening.

“It’s a beautiful thing to feel appreciated for the music I’ve been making for my entire career.”

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Mariah Carey has had 18 number one singles in the US

Carey has written or co-written 17 US number one singles, including Vision of Love, Hero, We Belong Together and Fantasy.

Her festive hit, All I Want For Christmas Is You, is a modern-day standard, and was streamed a staggering 38 million times in the UK last year alone.

Grime pioneer Wiley received the “inspiration” prize and instantly handed it over to his father, the reggae musician Richard Cowie.

“It’s because of him that I do it,” said the star. “I want to big up my dad.”

Socially-conscious punk band Idles won album of the year, while The 1975 took home two prizes – songwriters of the year and best contemporary song for the state-of-the-nation pop anthem Love It If We Made It.

Organisers hailed the “brilliantly diverse” range of songwriting talent in the UK, noting that 70% of this year’s nominees were being recognised for the first time.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Matty Healy of The 1975

Full list of winners and nominees

Songwriters of the year – The 1975

Special international award – Mariah Carey

Inspiration award – Wiley

Best song musically and lyrically

  • Nica Libres At Dusk – Ben Howard (winner)
  • Four Out Of Five – Arctic Monkeys
  • Nina Cried Power – Hozier

Best contemporary song

  • Love It If We Made It – The 1975 (winner)
  • Black Rose – Ghetts ft Kojey Radical
  • Blue Lights – Jorja Smith

PRS For Music most performed work

  • These Days – Rudimental ft Jess Glynne, Macklemore and Dan Caplen (winner)
  • Shotgun – George Ezra
  • Breathe – Jax Jones ft Ina Wroldsen

Best album

  • Joy As An Act of Resistance – Idles (winner)
  • Cocoa Sugar – Young Fathers
  • I’m All Ears – Let’s Eat Grandma

Best original film score

  • Phantom Thread – Jonny Greenwood (winner)
  • American Animals – Anne Nikitin
  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse – Daniel Pemberton

Best television soundtrack

  • Requiem – Natasha Khan and Dominik Scherrer (winner)
  • Flowers (Series 2) – Arthur Sharpe
  • Happy New Year, Colin Burstead – Clint Mansell

Best original video game score

  • Sea of Thieves – Robin Beanland (winner)
  • Assassin’s Creed Odyssey – Joe Henson and Alexis Smith (The Flight) and Michael Georgiades
  • Q.U.B.E. 2 – David Housden

International achievement – Deep Purple

Outstanding song collection – Dido

Outstanding contribution – Richard Ashcroft

Ivors Jazz Award – Django Bates

Follow us on Facebook, on Twitter @BBCNewsEnts, or on Instagram at bbcnewsents. If you have a story suggestion email [email protected].

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Football coach Bob Higgins guilty of abusing trainees

Bob Higgins Image copyright Solent News & Photo Agency
Image caption Bob Higgins had denied molesting 24 boys

A former youth football coach who held “supreme power” over the futures of budding players has been found guilty of indecently assaulting boys.

Bob Higgins sexually touched and groped 24 victims, most of them trainees at Southampton FC and Peterborough United, between 1971 and 1996.

Bournemouth Crown Court heard his status as a “God-like” figure enabled his decades-long campaign of abuse.

A jury found him guilty of 45 counts of indecent assault.

Higgins’ conviction will allow a Football Association (FA) review into child sex abuse allegations to conclude its investigations, a spokesman said.

The independent review, led by Clive Sheldon QC, would continue working to establish what the clubs and the FA knew about Higgins.

During Higgins’ trial, prosecutors told the court the defendant was “idolised” by trainees, who viewed him as a mentor and father figure.

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Media captionEx-footballer Dean Radford said trainees treated Bob Higgins like “god”

Victims said they were abused during post-exercise soapy massages, in Higgins’ car while he played love songs on the stereo and at his home where he cuddled with boys on his sofa

Adam Feest QC said Higgins had shown a “systematic and all-pervasive pattern of grooming behaviour” in gaining the trust of the boys and of their parents.

‘Keep quiet or risk losing everything’

Image copyright Other

During his time as a coach, Bob Higgins worked with young footballers who would go on to become national heroes and household names.

But others were not so fortunate.

Some were haunted by their ordeals, and gave up on football entirely.

Such was Higgins hold over those he abused, many felt unable to say anything, even to close family members, for up to 30 years.

Read more: The ‘star-maker’ who abused young footballers

The allegations arose after the NSPCC set up a dedicated helpline for people who had encountered childhood abuse within football.

It was launched after a number of former footballers, including Billy Seymour, spoke on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme in November 2016.

Higgins faced trial last year, but a retrial was ordered after jurors failed to reach a verdict on all but one count of indecent assault.

Image caption Victim Billy Seymour died in a car crash in January

Mr Seymour, a Southampton youth player who went on to play for Coventry City and Millwall, waived his right to anonymity to speak publicly.

He gave evidence at last year’s trial but was killed in a car crash in January before he could give evidence at the retrial.

‘Arrogance and lies’

Quiet sobbing from the packed public gallery became audible as guilty verdicts were returned on all six counts relating to Mr Seymour.

Higgins showed no emotion as the jury returned verdicts after more than 41 hours of deliberations.

In a joint statement issued through police, his victims said: “Higgins’s arrogance and lies have finally caught up with him.

“When Bob Higgins returned to court eight weeks ago, he gave a clear message to us all with his continued refusal to accept responsibility for what he did to us as children. However, that message made us all stronger and more determined.

“At last, after all these years, we can finally get a sense of closure and try to move on from this nightmare.”

‘It doesn’t disappear’

Image copyright PA
Image caption Greg Llewellyn waived his right to anonymity following the end of the trial

At Higgins’ earlier trial, the single guilty count related to former Southampton junior player Greg Llewellyn.

He was abused in the defendant’s car around the time of his 14th birthday on their way to a training session.

He said he had an “overwhelming sense of anger” afterwards and had punched Higgins during the practice.

Now aged 50, he said the ordeal had “caused me many difficulties in relationships, marriage, none of those positive.”

“It doesn’t disappear because there are always circumstances or scenarios that remind you of what happened,” he said.

Although responsibility for the abuse lies with Higgins, Mr Llewellyn said Southampton FC could have done more to protect the young players.

He said the coach’s “total carte blanche control” allowed him to do things “that simply wouldn’t happen today”.

“I can’t hold the club responsible but you have to point the finger and there was some negligence there but there was only one perpetrator,” he said.

Det Ch Insp Dave Brown, of Hampshire Police, said Higgins’ victims suffered “horrendous experiences” at the hands of a “predatory paedophile”

“He thrived on controlling and manipulating his victims and knowing that he held the career prospects of many young men in his hands.” he said

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionPolice said Higgins kept vital documents from 1991 which were used against him in court

Police believe there could be more victims, who Det Ch Insp Brown urged to come forward.

Higgins is due to be sentenced at a later date.

Southampton FC has not yet commented.

His is the latest in a string of high-profile prosecutions of former football coaches.

  • Earlier this month Jim McCafferty, 73, a coach and kit man for the Celtic youth team was jailed for six years nine months after admitting a series of child sex abuse crimes
  • George Ormond, who helped in Newcastle United’s youth set up, was convicted of a string of sex abuse offences spanning 25 years
  • Last February Barry Bennell, who worked at Manchester City and Crewe Alexandra, was jailed for 31 years for 50 counts of child sexual abuse
  • Michael ‘Kit’ Carson, who worked at Norwich City, Peterborough United and Cambridge United, died in a car crash on the day he was due to face trial

The FA also said its review was also awaiting the outcome of further investigations into allegations of abuse by Barry Bennell.

  • A BBC South Today documentary about the Higgins case, A Saint and a Sinner, is available until 21 June on BBC iPlayer

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PSG president Al-Khelaifi charged with athletics corruption

President of PSG Nasser Al-Khelaifi, 12 Feb 19 Image copyright Getty Images

A French judge has charged the president of Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) football club, Nasser Al-Khelaifi, with corruption over Qatari bids to host the world athletics championships.

Judicial sources quoted by AFP news agency said the case focused on the championships held in 2017 and 2019.

Mr Khelaifi, who is also the boss of Qatari TV channel BeIn Sports, has been under investigation since March.

Two payments totalling $3.5m (£2.8m), made in 2011, are under scrutiny.

London won the bidding to host the championships in 2017, but Qatar is hosting this year’s championships in September-October.

It is alleged that the payments were made by Oryx Qatar Sports Investment – a firm jointly owned by Nasser Al-Khelaifi and his brother Khalid – to a firm run by the son of Lamine Diack, ex-president of the IAAF, the world athletics governing body.

Lamine Diack, 85, was charged with corruption in March in relation to the case, while an arrest warrant has been issued for his Senegal-based son, Papa Massata Diack. Lamine Diack was IAAF chief in 1999-2015.

Read more on athletics inquiries:

Allegations denied

The French term “mis en examen” – meaning “charged” in English – does not automatically trigger a trial, but means that prosecutors strongly suspect wrongdoing.

Another BeIn Sports executive, Yousef Al-Obaidly, is also under investigation in France over the awarding of the 2017 championships. He is a PSG board member.

Mr Obaidly, quoted by his lawyer, called the allegations “utterly baseless and unsubstantiated” and said he would contest them.

In January, Mr Al-Khelaifi was elected to the executive committee of European football’s governing body Uefa. Uefa told the BBC it is “monitoring the situation”.

In a statement, the IAAF said: “We continue to be available to the French prosecutor to share any information that may assist the investigation.

“However, we have not seen the specific indictments referred to by the media. The dates published in the media appear to coincide with the bidding timetable for the 2017 IAAF World Championships which were awarded to London.

“The 2019 World Championships bid process began in February 2014 with a decision in November 2014. Our rights holder for the region was, and still is, Abu Dhabi Media, who signed as a partner in January 2014.”

A lawyer for Mr Khelaifi denied any wrongdoing on the part of his client, saying the Oryx payments were fully transparent.

“Nasser Al-Khelaifi was neither a shareholder, nor a director of Oryx in 2011. He did not intervene either directly or indirectly in the candidature of Doha,” he said.

PSG won the French Ligue 1 championship this season, but were knocked out of the Champions League by Manchester United.

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Whorlton Hall: Hospital abuse missed despite at least 100 official visits

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Media captionUndercover BBC filming shows staff swearing, mocking and taunting patients with autism and learning disabilities

Whorlton Hall hospital had at least 100 visits by official agencies in the year before abuse of inpatients there was discovered, the BBC has learned.

Inspectors, council officials and NHS staff all visited the County Durham unit – sometimes in teams of two or three over the course of several days.

But the scale of mistreatment of people there with learning disabilities and autism was not spotted.

Campaigners said the authorities had failed in their jobs.

Undercover filming by the BBC’s Panorama programme – aired on Wednesday – showed patients at the 17-bed unit being mocked, taunted, intimidated and repeatedly restrained.

The footage also included shocking scenes where some staff can be heard using offensive language to describe patients, while another calls the hospital a “house of mongs”.

A police investigation has been launched and 16 staff suspended.

  • How we uncovered abuse at specialist hospital
  • Hospital ‘abused’ vulnerable adults

The Care Quality Commission (CQC), which regulates the sector, went in three times – in March, April and July of last year. One of the visits lasted two days and involved a team of three after concerns were raised by a whistle-blower.

The inspection found breaches of regulations in relation to staffing and good governance, but the hospital kept its good rating.

CQC deputy chief inspector Dr Paul Lelliott said it was “now clear we missed what was going on”.

He said the regulator was sorry. He said inspectors spoke to staff and patients as well as independent people familiar with the hospital. But no concerns were raised.

“This illustrates how difficult it is to get under the skin of this type of ‘closed culture’,” he added.

Image caption In one case, a patient at Whorlton Hall was told by her care worker that her family are “poison”

On top of the CQC visit, there were multiple visits by 10 different councils and local NHS bodies.

Durham Council visited the hospital 33 times over the past year – 12 because of safeguarding concerns – with the rest largely related to the placement of new patients at the 17-bed unit.

The council’s corporate director of adult and health service, Jane Robinson, said: “We found no evidence suggesting issues of the nature shown in the programme.”

Richard Kramer, chief executive of disability charity Sense, criticised the approach taken by authorities.

He said agencies were maybe too likely to take the word of staff at “face value”, rather than insist on observations and on seeing the person.

“This appears to be a case of professionals not investing time and resources to fully review the care and support,” he added.

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionCaroline Dinenage MP calls treatment of vulnerable patients in NHS-funded hospital “appalling”.

Earlier on Thursday, Care Minister Caroline Dinenage told the House of Commons she was “deeply sorry that this has happened”.

Ms Dinenage said that after the government and the Care Quality Commission were told of the allegations of abuse at Whorlton Hall, “immediate steps” were taken to ensure the safety of the patients there.

And she questions needed to be asked over whether the activity at Whorlton Hall was criminal, if the regulatory and inspection framework is working and also over the commissioning of care services.

The unit has now been closed and all the patients moved to other services.

Watch BBC Panorama: Undercover Abuse Scandal on BBC iPlayer.

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India election results 2019: Narendra Modi secures landslide win

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Media captionBJP supporters celebrate as their party looks set to win a clear majority in parliament

Indian PM Narendra Modi has secured another five-year term after winning a landslide general election victory.

His Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) looks set to win about 300 of the 543 seats in parliament, in what Mr Modi hailed as “a historic mandate”.

The main opposition alliance, which is headed by Rahul Gandhi’s Congress party, has admitted defeat.

The vote had been widely viewed as a referendum on the prime minister’s Hindu nationalist politics.

“We all want a new India. I want to bow down my head and say thank you,” Mr Modi said in a victory address to BJP supporters on Thursday evening.

More than 600 million people voted in a marathon six-week process.

Mr Modi has not just exceeded exit poll predictions but has also won a larger share of the vote than the 2014 elections, partial results show.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Many viewed the election as a referendum on Mr Modi (L) who won a landslide in 2014

At a press conference in Delhi, Mr Gandhi conceded the general election as well as his Amethi seat in Uttar Pradesh, which he had held since 2004 and his family had held for decades.

What are the numbers?

Partial and declared results show Mr Modi’s BJP is projected to win 300 seats on its own, and combined with the party’s allies, this number reaches nearly 350.

The main opposition Congress party is expected to win fewer than 60.

A party or coalition needs at least 272 seats to secure a majority in the 543-member lower house of parliament, or Lok Sabha.

India votes 2019

In 2014, the BJP won 282 seats – the biggest victory by any party in 30 years – and with its allies it secured 336 seats in that parliament.

The Congress, which won just 44, suffered its worst defeat in 2014 and with its allies took up just 60 seats in the lower house.

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionIf you haven’t been paying much attention, here’s what you’ve missed

This year 900 million voters were eligible to take part in seven rounds of voting, making it the largest election the world has ever seen.

The final result may not be known for several hours or longer.

An election all about himself

Narendra Modi made this an election all about himself.

He should have faced some anti-incumbent feeling. Joblessness has risen to a record high, farm incomes have plummeted and industrial production has slumped.

Many Indians were hit hard by the currency ban (also known as demonetisation), which was designed to flush out undeclared wealth, and there were complaints about what critics said was a poorly designed and complicated uniform sales tax.

The results prove that people are not yet blaming Mr Modi for this.

A combination of nationalist rhetoric, subtle religious polarisation and a slew of welfare programmes helped Mr Modi to coast to a second successive win. He also mined national security as a vote-getter in a manner never seen in a general election in recent history.

“It is all right if there’s little development, but Modi is keeping the nation secure and keeping India’s head high,” a voter in the eastern city of Kolkata told me.

Mr Modi is a strongman, and people possibly love him for that.

  • Modi reinvents Indian politics

What has the response been?

“This election was fought not by politicians but the people of this country – but it’s the people of this country who have emerged victorious,” Mr Modi told thousands of supporters at the BJP’s headquarters in Delhi.

“We will never give up our ideals, our humility and our culture,” he added.

Party members cheered, banged drums and set off fireworks when the results started to emerge. As the prime minister arrived, he was showered with rose petals.

Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj, a senior BJP leader, said in a tweet that the BJP had won a “massive victory”.

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan congratulated Mr Modi for his victory on Twitter, and said he looked forward to working with him for “peace, progress and prosperity in South Asia”.

The BBC’s Zubair Ahmed in Delhi says Congress Party staff, who had been hoping for a much improved performance, looked lost for words.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Rahul Gandhi and his sister Priyanka had been hoping to improve on a dismal Congress performance last time

Where were the key contests?

The BJP alliance is projected to win more than 50% of the vote in the huge northern state of Uttar Pradesh, which sends more MPs to parliament than any other state (80).

This took election observers by surprise as the party was expected to be seriously challenged by a tie-up between two powerful regional parties, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Samajwadi Party (SP), which had previously been bitter rivals.

The BJP is doing better than expected in West Bengal, where it is projected to take 17 parliamentary seats – up from two in the last polls.

Four of India’s five southern states – Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu and Kerala – have long eluded the BJP and appear to have done so again in this election. They look set to take just three of the 91 seats up for grabs.

In this part of the country, the party contests few seats, relying instead on alliances with regional heavyweights.

What challenges does Modi face?

In his victory speech, Mr Modi said there were only two castes in India now. “The poor and those who want to work to bring them out of poverty. We need to empower both.”

Growing unemployment and fears of a recession will see Mr Modi face demands to provide jobs for the millions of young people entering the labour market in coming months.

Under his first term, India’s economy – the world’s sixth largest – lost some of its momentum. A leaked government report this year put the unemployment rate at the highest it’s been since the 1970s.

Farmers in India will also be hoping he will prioritise the agricultural industry, after a crop glut and declining commodity prices saw their incomes stagnate.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption India has seen huge protests by farmers in recent years

Many saw this election as a battle for India’s identity and the protection of minorities. A strident – and at times violent – Hindu nationalism has become mainstream in the past five years, with increased attacks against minorities, including the lynching of dozens of Muslims accused of smuggling cows.

And national security was put into the spotlight after a suicide attack by a Pakistan-based militant group killed at least 40 paramilitary police in Indian-administered Kashmir in February. India then launched unprecedented air strikes in Pakistan, prompting it to respond in kind and bringing the two countries to the brink of war.

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‘This is ridiculous’ – Man City board member on Guardiola to Juventus rumours

Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City have collected 198 league points over the past two Premier League seasons

Reports that Pep Guardiola will leave Manchester City to manage Juventus are “ridiculous”, says the English club’s board member Alberto Galassi.

Guardiola led City to an unprecedented domestic treble of Premier League, FA Cup and Carabao Cup this season.

Several Italian media outlets have reported that the Spaniard will replace Massimilano Allegri, who is leaving Juve at the end of this campaign.

“This rumour is unfounded,” Galassi told Sky Italia.

Guardiola signed an extension to his deal with the Premier League club last year and is contracted at Etihad Stadium until 2021.

In March, when rumours about him joining the Italian champions – who have won the past eight Serie A titles – were also circulating, Guardiola said he would stay at City for at least the remainder of his contract, unless he was sacked.

I am not going to Juventus – Guardiola

AGI Sport in Italy reported that the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss, 48, has agreed a four-year deal with Juventus, with a salary of £21m per season.

They also said the official signing would take place on 4 June, with the presentation at Allianz Stadium in Turin on 14 June.

Galassi added: “A club like Juventus would not have allowed such news to come out like this. Manchester City could not have been left out without knowing and being advised.

“It is unbelievable that the media pursue these kind of rumours. This is ridiculous. Guardiola wants to stay.

“He is a great professional and he can’t believe his words are not listened to. He does not want to leave. Therefore, the problem does not exist because the whole matter does not exist.”

Galassi also said he has spoken to Juventus vice-chairman Pavel Nedved on Thursday.

“I have known him for a very long time,” said Galassi. “We laughed at these rumours, and we realised that this whole issue had become ridiculous.”

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In pictures: Brazilian inmates create fashion behind bars

An inmate crochets clothing as part of "Ponto Firme" project in the Adriano Marrey maximum security penitentiary in Guarulhos, Brazil on May 22, 2019. Image copyright AFP

Glamorous locations and top name designers are what the models from the São Paulo Fashion Week are used to but on Wednesday they instead showed off creations by unheard-of designers in the less than inviting setting of the Adriano Marrey maximum security jail.

Models present crochet clothing creations made by inmates as part of "Ponto Firme" project in the Adriano Marrey maximum security penitentiary in Guarulhos, Brazil on May 22, 2019. Image copyright AFP

A prison courtyard with bars instead of a roof became an impromptu catwalk as the models showed off colourful crochet tops adorned with dangly tassels.

The proud designers and creators of the pieces crowded around the walls to admire each other’s work. Some of them were still finishing off their latest creations.

A model presents a creation as inmates crochet clothing as part of "Ponto Firme" project in the Adriano Marrey maximum security penitentiary in Guarulhos, Brazil on May 22, 2019 Image copyright AFP

For the creators dressed in regulation khaki trousers and white T-shirts, the pieces were rare bursts of colour against the grey prison walls.

Models present crochet clothing creations made by inmates as part of "Ponto Firme" project in the Adriano Marrey maximum security penitentiary in Guarulhos, Brazil on May 22, 2019. Image copyright AFP

The unusual show is part of a project to rehabilitate inmates by teaching them to crochet.

  • Watch: The Brazilian criminals learning crochet in prison

The programme has been running for three years and is the brainchild of Brazilian fashion designer Gustavo Silvestre.

Brazilian designer and craftsman Gustavo Silvestre is pictured before a presentation of "Ponto Firme" project in the Adriano Marrey maximum security penitentiary in Guarulhos, Brazil on May 22, 2019. Image copyright AFP

Inmates who join the programme get their sentences reduced by one day for every 12 hours of the course they complete.

An inmate crochets clothing as part of "Ponto Firme" project in the Adriano Marrey maximum security penitentiary in Guarulhos, Brazil on May 22, 2019 Image copyright AFP

Many of the inmates are serving sentences for crimes such as drug trafficking or robbery. One of them is Felipe Santos da Silva who told Agence France Press news agency that crocheting “calms me down, it helped me overcome smoking and using drugs”.

An inmate poses with a crochet clothing creation as part of "Ponto Firme" project in the Adriano Marrey maximum security penitentiary in Guarulhos, Brazil on May 22, 2019 Image copyright AFP

Another inmate, 41-year-old Fidelison Borges, said the event had helped lift his self-esteem.

“I was proud of myself seeing my creation being modelled and even more proud to know that people liked that piece that I made,” the convicted robber said.

All pictures subject to copyright.

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Brexit: Theresa May’s withdrawal bill delayed

Theresa May Image copyright AFP

Theresa May’s Brexit withdrawal bill will not be published or debated until early June, the government says.

The prime minister is under pressure to resign following a backlash from her own MPs against her pledged “new deal” on Brexit.

Andrea Leadsom quit as Commons Leader, saying she could not announce the bill which had “new elements that I fundamentally oppose”.

She has been replaced by Treasury minister Mel Stride.

Downing Street has confirmed that the prime minister met Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt and Home Secretary Sajid Javid at No 10 on Friday morning and would “give full consideration their views” about the bill.

Mrs May had told the Commons that the Withdrawal Agreement Bill – the legislation needed to implement the agreement between the UK and EU – would be published on Friday so MPs would have “the maximum possible time to study its detail”.

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Media captionGovernment delays Brexit bill publication

Mrs Leadsom had been due to announce when it would be introduced to Parliament on Thursday, but resigned on Wednesday night.

Standing in for her, government whip Mark Spencer told MPs: “We will update the House on the publication and introduction of the Withdrawal Agreement Bill on our return from the Whitsun recess.”

He added that the government planned to publish the bill in the first week of June.

“We had hoped to hold second reading on Friday 7 June,” he added. “At the moment, we have not secured agreement to this in the usual channels. Of course we will update the House when we return from recess.”

Second reading is when MPs get a first chance to debate legislation, before deciding whether it should proceed to detailed scrutiny.

Responding for Labour, shadow Commons leader Valerie Vaz said: “The prime minister has once again put her own political survival ahead of the national interest.

“It is clear that the prime minister does not command a majority in her approach to Brexit and she has failed to accept this political reality.”

Hunt on Trump visit

US President Donald Trump is due to make a three-day state visit to the UK from 3 to 5 June.

Asked who would be in 10 Downing Street when he arrives, Mr Hunt said: “Theresa May will be prime minister to welcome him and rightly so.”

It is possible for Mrs May to quit as Conservative leader before Mr Trump’s visit, but continue as prime minister on a caretaker basis.

Mrs Leadsom said on Thursday she had “no doubts that I made the right decision” adding: “I felt I couldn’t, in all conscience, stand up and deliver the business statement today with a Withdrawal Agreement Bill in it that I couldn’t support elements of.”

She did not answer questions about whether she was planning to run for the leadership.

What is the Withdrawal Agreement Bill?

The UK needs to pass a law to implement the withdrawal agreement – the part of the PM’s Brexit deal which will take the country out of the EU – in UK law.

In a mini-reshuffle prompted by Mrs Leadsom’s resignation, Mel Stride, who had been Financial Secretary to the Treasury, has replaced her as Commons leader.

He has been replaced on the Treasury team by Jesse Norman, whose previous role as a transport minister has been filled by Michael Ellis. Rebecca Pow has been made a junior minister at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, replacing Mr Ellis.

On Wednesday, members of the Conservatives’ backbench 1922 Committee held a secret ballot on whether to change party rules, to allow the prime minister to face a vote of no confidence immediately.

Mrs May is due to meet the chairman of the committee, Sir Graham Brady, on Friday.

The results, in sealed envelopes, will be opened if Mrs May does not agree to stand down by 10 June.

Mrs May survived a no-confidence vote of Conservative MPs in December. Under existing rules, she cannot be challenged again until December this year.

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Transgender women given access to Hampstead Heath ponds

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Media captionIn July, there was a debate over whether trans women should use the women-only pond

Transgender women have been given full access to a women-only pond under a new policy.

Swimmers will be able to use ponds “aligning with their gender identity” on Hampstead Heath in north London.

The City of London Corporation’s (CoLC) new rules said admission would be granted on a case-by-case basis.

Feminist campaigner Amy Desir, who uses Kenwood Ladies’ Pond at Hampstead, called the policy “absolutely disgusting”.

But writer and trans-commentator Jane Fae said she was “entirely unsurprised” by the CoLC policy.

She said: “All they have done is endorse the law as it stands. If they had done the opposite they would have been taken to court.”

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Stonewall said transgender men and women had been legally accessing the ponds for “many years”

A consultation on attitudes to gender identity held last year received nearly 40,000 responses.

CoLC said 65% of the valid respondents to last year’s survey favoured ensuring trans people did not suffer discrimination.

But 46% of the total responses to the consultation were disregarded as invalid on the basis that those respondents did not answer any questions, other than to identify themselves and declare the reason for their interest in the survey.

The gender identity policy also ensures transgender staff are not subject to “less favourable treatment” at work.

Stonewall director Laura Russell said it was “not a new rule”.

She added: “Trans people’s right to use single-sex spaces, regardless of whether they have legal gender recognition, has been the law for nearly a decade.

“The 2010 Equality Act clearly protects trans people from being discriminated against when accessing services.”

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Hampstead Heath has three bathing ponds, including a male only, female only and mixed sex pond

Ms Desir, from feminist campaign group ReSisters UK, said the policy “disproportionately discriminates against young women” and was “open to abuse”.

She added: “Under the policy any man can self-identify and declare themselves a woman.

“The CoLC is deliberately misusing the Equalities Act and basing the policy on a biased survey.”

Last year, female activists demonstrated against the right of trans women to use the women’s pond by using the men’s pond.

The Kenwood Ladies’ Pond Association said it welcomed the decision.

A spokeswoman said: “The Ladies’ Pond is a single sex space and the KLPA is committed to helping to create there an inclusive environment for all women, including transgender women, which is free from discrimination, harassment or victimisation.”

Edward Lord, chair of the CoLC establishment committee, said: “This policy will ensure our public services do not discriminate against trans people.

“All communities should be fully respected, and equality and basic human rights upheld.”

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