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Surge in slaughter of birds of prey
Birds of prey are being illegally shot, trapped and poisoned in near-record numbers across the UK, but particularly in England, with over two-thirds of the confirmed killings in connection to land managed for gamebird shooting, the RSPB has said. The 2021 Birdcrime report, which the charity produces annually, reveals that 108 birds, including golden eagles, peregrine falcons and white-tailed eagles were among those targeted by gamekeepers trying to artificially boost numbers of game birds on their land, so paying customers can shoot them.
In England alone there were 80 confirmed incidents – this is the second-highest figure on record for the country after 2020’s “unprecedented surge”, the RSPB said. But the charity warned that the confirmed cases only represent “the tip of the iceberg”, and many more illegal killings will not have been recorded. It also issued an urgent call for the rest of the UK to follow Scotland’s lead in licensing grouse moors, in which licences can be rescinded in the event of any connection between the estate and criminal raptor persecution. The laws are yet to come into force.
Man cleared of assaulting MP with traffic cone
A man accused of assaulting former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith with a traffic cone has been cleared by a district judge, who ruled he had no case to answer. Sir Iain had told Manchester Magistrates’ Court how he feared for his wife and her friend when he had the cone “slammed” on to his head as they were followed by protesters hurling abuse at him during the 2021 Conservative Party Conference in the city centre.
Yesterday, district judge Paul Goldspring said the evidence which identified Elliot Bovill, 32, as the person caught on CCTV putting the orange and white cone on the 68-year-old MP’s head was “weak” and “tenuous”. Mr Goldspring dismissed the common assault charge against Mr Bovill, of no fixed address, saying there was no case to answer.
The trial of co-defendants Radical Haslam, 29, of Douglas Street, Salford, and Ruth Wood, 51, of Cambridge, continued with Mr Bovill watching from the public gallery. Mr Haslam and Ms Wood both deny using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour with intent to cause harassment, alarm or distress.
Mother charged with murder of three-year-old son
A mother appeared in court yesterday charged with murdering her three-year-old son. Christina Robinson, 28, appeared before
Newton Aycliffe Magistrates’ Court, County Durham, where she faces a charge of murdering Dwelaniyah Robinson and a separate alleged offence of child neglect. Dressed in a denim jacket and a blue top for the brief hearing, Ms Robinson did not enter pleas and her case was adjourned to Newcastle Crown Court tomorrow.
The chairman of the bench, Suzanne Chivers, told the defendant that the magistrates’ court had no power to consider bail and Robinson was remanded in custody. Earlier, Durham Police said the emergency services were called to a house in Bracken Court, in Ushaw Moor, Durham on 5 November. Dwelaniyah was taken by ambulance to the University Hospital of North Durham, but he could not be saved, the force said.
Murder-accused ‘living as fugitive in Yemen’
The son of a billionaire suspected of murdering a Norwegian student in London is living in Yemen after fleeing the UK, a relative has claimed. Farouk Abdulhak is accused of the rape and murder of Martine Vik Magnussen, 23, in Mayfair in March 2008.
He fled to Yemen via Egypt in the hours after her death and despite efforts by Martine’s family and the UK and Norwegian authorities has not returned to Britain to face the charges. An anonymous family member has told a new documentary on Discovery Plus that he mostly remains at home under guard and has few friends.
Farouk Abdulhak is the son of the late billionaire Shaher Abdulhak, who was known as the king of sugar because the source of part of his fortune was soft drinks. He was friends with Martine, who was studying at Regent’s Business School. Friends say she had politely rejected his advances. Martine’s father, Odd Petter Magnussen, said that he will “keep fighting” to get Mr Abdulhak back to the UK to face the allegations. The five-part documentary Martine: Chasing Justice is available to stream on Discovery Plus.
NHS boss ‘shocked’ ward managers not on seven days a week
The NHS’s mental health director has warned trusts they should have ward managers working seven days a week amid national safety concerns. Claire Murdoch, national director for mental health at NHS England, said she was “shocked” to hear in some NHS trusts ward managers were not working and overseeing the quality and safety of wards seven days a week, warning some were “Monday to Friday” people.
Her comments came in response to questions from The Independent about a potential national review of safety within inpatient mental health services which ministers are considering, following several high-profile scandals in recent months. An NHS consultant claimed the NHS ran like the “Mary Celeste” during the weekends and that moving hospital services to operate seven days would help tackle the growing backlog.
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