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UK & World

This student took his Tinder profile to the next level by turning it into a PowerPoint presentation

February 21 2018

Standing out from the crowd on Tinder can be tough, but with the help of Microsoft PowerPoint a British student has managed just that – and gone viral in the process.Sam Dixey, a 21-year-old studying at Leeds University, made a six-part slideshow entitled “Why you should swipe right” – using pictures and bullet points to shrewdly persuade potential dates to match with him on the dating app. The slideshow includes discussion of his social life and likes, such as “petting doggos” and “laser tag”, and “other notable qualities and skills” – such as being “not the worst at sex” and “generous when drunk”.It even has reviews mocked up from sources such as “Donald Trump”, “Leonardo Di Capri Sun” and “The Times Guide to Pancakes 2011”.Sam told the Press Association the six-slide presentation only took about 20 minutes to make and “started off as a joke”.However, since being posted to Twitter by fellow Tinder user Gracie Barrow, Sam’s slideshow has been shared tens of thousands of times across social media.So, it’s got the seal of approval form Gracie, but how has the slideshow fared on Tinder? “I’d have to say it has been pretty successful,” Sam said. “Definitely a clear correlation of matches and dates beforehand to afterwards.“Most of the responses tend to revolve around people saying ‘I couldn’t help swipe right 10/10’ but I’ve had some people go the extra mile and message me on Facebook.“Plus some people have recognised me outside, in the library and on dates.”A resounding success.

UK & World

Zero-tariff frictionless trade with EU ‘vital’, says farming leader

February 26 2018

Zero-tariff, frictionless trade with the European Union after the UK leaves the bloc is vital, the new National Farmers’ Union president has said.Minette Batters, who last week was elected as the first female NFU president in its 110-year history, said Brexit and the renegotiation of trade deals provided the opportunity to make British food the envy of the world.In her first speech as president, the Wiltshire beef farmer said she wanted to build on the success of businesses already selling British produce to all corners of the world to boost food exports. She said she wanted to see an increase in cereals being sold to Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco, more premium dairy products to the US and Canada, and more pork, lamb and beef to countries such as China and Japan.She added it was time to “turbo-charge the Red Tractor” – the food and farming assurance mark – to build up the British food brand and ensure people around the world valued and demanded UK produce.But she warned: “This is not a time to turn our back on the EU market, it remains a crucial market for British farmers, with 40% of our lamb, 80% of our dairy exports and 75% of our wheat and barley exports currently going into Europe.“It is vital we have zero-tariff, frictionless trade with the EU marketplace.”She called on the Government to match its promotion of UK industry and defence interests abroad with support for farmers and pushing British agricultural goods.Amid debate over the future of farm subsidies, which the Government has said will be replaced after Brexit by payments for “public goods” – such as protecting the environment and high animal welfare standards – Ms Batters said: “We believe that the food we produce is a public good.“If we’re going to prioritise these standards and have the regulation that underpins them, that comes with a cost.“If you want a green world, if we really are serious about the environment, and really are serious about feeding the nation, we’ve got to look at how we’re going to fund that, we’ve got to recognise it’s got a price tag attached in it, we’ve got to invest in it.“The British public have said they want high welfare standards, they’ve said they want high standards of environmental responsibility, and it comes at a price. Those bolt-ons, effectively, are a public good.”Ms Batters also said it was a priority to secure access for seasonal workers from abroad to help with the harvest, warning growers “are so worried about this future harvest and bringing it in”.Along with Brexit, technological change would be “felt in our fields and farms more keenly than in any other industry”, she said, with drones, satellites and artificial intelligence helping target inputs and cutting the use of chemicals.

UK & World

Social workers involved in St Helena child abuse inquiry take legal action

March 23 2018

Two social workers who say an inquiry report into allegations of child abuse on the British overseas territory of St Helena destroyed their professional reputations have taken legal action.Claire Gannon and Martin Warsama, who worked on St Helena and made cover-up allegations, have sued the Foreign Office and the senior barrister who led the inquiry.They say they “stand by the accuracy and honesty of their disclosures” and say conclusions were reached on the basis of an inquiry which was procedurally unfair.Lawyers representing ministers and inquiry chairman Sasha Wass QC dispute their claim and say the litigation should not proceed.A judge was on Friday considering issues in the case at a High Court hearing in London.Barrister Neil Sheldon, who is leading a legal team representing Foreign Office ministers, asked the judge, Master Victoria McCloud, to halt the litigation and dismiss the claim launched by Ms Gannon and Mr Warsama.The inquiry had been set up by ministers following corruption and cover-up allegations which had been raised in newspaper articles and leaked documents and made by Ms Gannon and Martin Warsama.An inquiry report published in December 2015 concluded that: St Helena did not “attract sex tourism”; said allegations that the island in the South Atlantic was a “paedophiles’ paradise” were not true; reported “no corruption at all”; and found no evidence of any attempt by the Foreign Office, the Department for International Development, the St Helena government or police to cover up child abuse.The report said: “We stress that there was no ‘cover-up’ as alleged by Ms Gannon and Mr Warsama, rather an ignorance of proper safeguarding procedure.”Nicholas Bowen QC, who represents Ms Gannon and Mr Warsama, told the judge the conclusions of the Wass Inquiry “destroyed” the professional reputations of his clients.He said the inquiry process was “procedurally” unfair and said Ms Gannon and Mr Warsama were entitled to “just satisfaction” for their loss.Ms Gannon and Mr Warsama say their claim should not be dismissed but say evidence should be analysed at a trial.

UK & World

Businessman in ‘right to be forgotten’ fight with Google waits for ruling

March 7 2018

A businessman who wants Google to stop linking his name to internet media reports about a past crime is waiting to hear whether he has won an historic High Court fight.The man was convicted of “tax fraud” in the late 1990s and his case was reported in the media, a judge has been told.He says his conviction is legally “spent” and he has a “right to be forgotten”. Google bosses dispute his claims.Mr Justice Warby on Wednesday finished analysing evidence at a High Court trial in London which began last week. Barrister Hugh Tomlinson QC, who heads the businessman’s legal team, told the judge: “All he is doing is making a simple, straightforward request for some old material to be taken off the internet.”He said the information at the centre of the case was “spent” under legislation relating to the rehabilitation of offenders and had become “private”.“Google have simply failed to grapple with the importance of rehabilitation,” he said.“Mr Google having decided that his view of public policy is to be preferred.”He told the judge: “The whole point of the right to be forgotten is that in appropriate cases true information deserves to be forgotten.”Barrister Antony White QC, who is leading Google’s legal team, has told Mr Justice Warby that Google had “declined to delist”.Google bosses say the information is accurate and reports about “business malpractice” are likely to be of continuing relevance.They say the businessman plays a role in public life because he is a businessman and there may be investors who “want to know”.Mr Justice Warby is next week expected to analyse a similar case involving a second businessman.He says he will produce a ruling covering both cases on a date yet to be fixed.

Scotland

Parkinson’s discovery ‘may improve diagnosis for patients’

August 29 2016

Scientists are a step closer to developing a test for early-stage Parkinson's disease. A molecule linked to the brain condition can be detected in samples of spinal fluid, research has shown. The discovery may pave the way to earlier diagnosis of Parkinson's, improving treatment prospects. Parkinson's disease causes the progressive loss of neurons involved in movement, leading to uncontrollable tremors, rigid muscles and poor balance. An estimated 127,000 people in the UK have the disease, most of them over the age of 50. The test molecule is a protein called alpha-synuclein which forms sticky clumps known as Lewy bodies within the brain cells of people with Parkinson's and some types of dementia. Researchers at the University of Edinburgh used highly sensitive technology to differentiate between healthy and harmful forms of the protein. In early studies the technique accurately identified 19 out of 20 samples from Parkinson's patients, as well as three samples from people thought to be at risk of the condition. Dr Alison Green, from the National CJD Research and Surveillance Unit at the University of Edinburgh, said: "We have already used this technique to develop an accurate test for Creutzfeldt Jacob Disease (CJD), another neurodegenerative condition. We hope that with further refinement, our approach will help to improve diagnosis for Parkinson's patients. "We are also interested in whether it could be used to identify people with Parkinson's and Lewy body dementia in the early stages of their illness. These people could then be given the opportunity to take part in trials of new medicines that may slow, or stop, the progression of disease." The findings are published in the journal Annals Of Clinical And Translational Neurology. Dr Beckie Port, from the charity Parkinson's UK, said: "Parkinson's has no definitive diagnostic test - leaving an urgent need for a simple and accurate way of detecting the condition, particularly in the beginning stages. "Although early days, the fact that researchers have developed a new test that is able to detect abnormal alpha-synuclein in the spinal fluid of people with Parkinson's with remarkable specificity and sensitivity, is hugely promising. "Further research is needed to test more samples to see if the results continue to hold true, but this could be a significant development towards a future early diagnostic test for Parkinson's."

UK & World

‘Evil’ killer jailed for at least 20 years over hammer attack on teacher

March 6 2018

An obsessed house mate has been jailed for at least 20 years for killing a “caring” primary school teacher in a horrific hammer attack.Romanian Lucian Stinci, 34, was so infatuated with Florina Pastina, 36, that he installed spy cameras to watch her in the shower of the shared house where they lived in Croydon, south London.Even though she showed no interest in him, he sent her Valentine’s Day cards, describing her as the “most beautiful creature from the universe”, the Old Bailey heard.The night before the killing, he spent six hours drinking cider, taking 6 grams of cocaine and a Viagra-like drug as he watched sadomasochistic videos of women being tortured, raped, restrained and killed.On the morning of July 19 last year, stilled “fired up” by the drugs and extreme porn, Stinci texted a colleague to say he had something to do before work.Armed with a hammer from his bedroom, he hit Ms Pastina from behind as she made coffee in the kitchen.He then continued to batter her over the head as she lay on the floor, causing blood to spatter over the walls and ceiling.Ms Pastina also suffered burns to the pubic area from boiling water, which Judge Richard Marks QC said was “likely” to have been deliberately poured from a kettle, although he could not be sure.Having fatally injured his victim, Stinci used the same hammer to batter her nephew and niece Nicholas Hellen and Claudia Pastina, both 25.They fled the house and Stinci hid the weapon by the garden shed and changed his clothes before police arrived.Mr Hellen was left needing stitches for a cut on the head and his twin sister suffered bruises to the arm and thigh.Afterwards, investigators found seven videos of Ms Pastina in the shower at the house in Alpha Road, and four screen shots taken from Stinci’s secretly recorded footage.Last Friday, Stinci pleaded guilty to her murder as well as assault occasioning actual bodily harm, unlawful wounding and possession of cocaine.Jailing him for life with a minimum of 20 years, Judge Marks said it was a “vicious” assault, fuelled by cocaine and “disgusting” porn material.It was clear Ms Pastina’s former pupils “thought the world of her” and she was an “understanding person who was greatly loved”, he added. The court heard Ms Pastina came to Britain from Romania in 2010 while the defendant had lived in the UK for 10 years and worked as a supervisor for Mayday Hotels in Croydon.Earlier in a victim impact statement, Ms Pastina’s brother Florin Pastina described her as “beautiful and happy”.Detective Chief Inspector Noel McHugh, of Scotland Yard, said Stinci was an “evil, wicked man”.He said: “Florina will always be remembered by those who knew her as a truly amazing young woman, who had such a promising future.“She was described as such a talented teacher, who positively shaped the futures of her pupils.”A statement from her school in Thornton Heath said: “This has had a significant impact on the children, families and staff at the school.“I hope that now we can begin to remember her for the kind, caring teacher and person that she was.”

Parliamentarians plan appeal as they seek European court ruling on Brexit

February 9 2018

A group of parliamentarians plans to lodge a legal appeal in an attempt to secure a European court ruling on Brexit.The politicians believe the UK Parliament could unilaterally stop the UK leaving the EU if the final Brexit deal is deemed unacceptable by the Commons.They want a definitive ruling from the European Court of Justice (CJEU) on whether the withdrawal process triggered under Article 50 can be halted by the UK on its own, without prior consent of the other 27 EU member states.The group took its fight to the Court of Session in Edinburgh but on Tuesday Judge Lord Doherty turned down a bid to have a full hearing on whether to refer the question to the Luxembourg Court, ruling the issue is  “hypothetical and academic”, and that he is “not satisfied the application has a real prospect of success”.Now campaigners have announced plans to appeal against his ruling to the Inner House of the Court of Session.Two of the original group of seven have withdrawn – the SNP’s Joanna Cherry QC and Liberal Democrat Christine Jardine – while director of the Good Law Project, Jo Maugham QC, which has backed the crowdfunded legal action, has been added.The remaining five members are Green MSPs Andy Wightman and Ross Greer, SNP MEP Alyn Smith and Labour MEPs David Martin and Catherine Stihler.In a statement, Mr Maugham said they believe the judge’s decision was “flawed”.He added: “Establishing that, alongside the political route to revocability there is a legal route, is vital in the national interest.“If Parliament chooses not to withdraw the Article 50 notice then no harm is done by asking now the question whether it has that right.“But if Parliament does come to want to withdraw the notice, knowing it has the right to do so serves the national interest.“It improves the bargaining position of the UK, it ensures we retain the opt-outs and rebates that we presently enjoy, and it places the decision entirely in the hands of the UK’s Parliament and – if it chooses – its people.”Aidan O’Neill QC, representing the politicians, previously asked for the case to proceed through the Scottish court, arguing there was a genuine dispute between the two sides as to the proper interpretation of Article 50 which the court required to resolve.David Johnston QC, for the UK Government, insisted the application has no real prospect of success and that there was “no live issue” for the court to address.The policy of the UK Government is that the notification under Article 50 will not be withdrawn, he said.Finding in favour of the Government, Lord Doherty said: “Given that neither Parliament nor the Government has any wish to withdraw the notification, the central issue which the petitioners ask the court to decide – whether the UK could unilaterally withdraw the Article 50(2) notification – is hypothetical and academic.“In those circumstances it is not a matter which this court, or the CJEU, require to adjudicate upon.”

Supreme Court to announce decision in black cab rapist case

February 15 2018

The UK’s highest court is to give its decision on a challenge to a ruling which led to two women who were sexually assaulted by London cabbie John Worboys winning compensation.The Supreme Court has been told by lawyers for the Metropolitan Police that imposing a duty of care on officers in relation to their investigations would have an adverse impact on operational effectiveness.Between 2002 and 2008, Worboys, who was jailed for life in 2009, carried out more than 100 rapes and sexual assaults using alcohol and drugs to stupefy his victims.In 2014, after the High Court found that the Met were liable to the women for failures in its investigation, it said that DSD and NBV – who brought their claims under Article 3 of the Human Rights Act which relates to inhuman or degrading treatment – should receive £22,250 and £19,000 respectively.The Met, with the Home Office intervening in support, went to the Supreme Court – which will give its judgment on Wednesday February 21 – after the Court of Appeal backed the decision.It says the case is being pursued to establish legal principles for the future and the women who, it says, showed “considerable bravery”, will keep their damages whatever happens.Lord Pannick QC has told a panel of five justices that the imposition of an investigative duty raised policy concerns as the Supreme Court had repeatedly recognised.He asked them to allow the appeal so that a “dialogue” could take place with the European Court of Human Rights in StrasbourgLord Pannick said there was a concern that any such duty “will reduce the efficacy of police investigations of crime”.Article 3 did not give rise to an entitlement to damages for failings of a police investigation into criminal offending by a member of the public, he argued.Insofar as it did impose an obligation, that was confined to a requirement to put in place the necessary legal structures, but did not extend to the operational content of an individual inquiry into a particular alleged crime.Phillippa Kaufmann QC, for DSD and NBV, said the appeal should be dismissed because there was a duty under Article 3 to conduct an effective criminal investigation when an individual was subjected to serious violence – whether the perpetrator was a private individual or a state official.As identified by the Court of Appeal and the High Court this was a facet of the rule of law and the security and protection of the people.It was “a bare minimum safeguard in any civilised state”.This duty was repeatedly acknowledged by the Strasbourg Court and was not inconsistent with domestic law or incompatible with the common law, she added.Earlier this month, DSD and NBV welcomed a ruling which gave them and London Mayor Sadiq Khan the go-ahead to challenge what they describe as the  Parole Board’s “irrational” decision to release Worboys.Worboys, 60,  will remain in prison pending a full High Court hearing on March 13.

UK & World

Government wants to wait before deciding on future of civil partnerships

May 14 2018

Ministers want to wait until next year before consulting on the future of civil partnerships.Government lawyers told the Supreme Court the wait was “justified” so four whole years of data could be gathered following the introduction of same-sex marriage.The court is hearing the case of Rebecca Steinfeld, 37, and Charles Keidan, 41, who want a civil partnership but are prevented by legislation which says only same-sex couples are eligible.The academics, who live in Hammersmith, west London, suffered defeat at the Court of Appeal in February last year, but were given the go-ahead in August for a Supreme Court hearing.A panel of five Supreme Court justices, including the court’s president Lady Hale, began considering the couple’s appeal on Monday. James Eadie QC, representing the equalities minister, told the court the Government wants to wait until September next year before it considers what to do and would launch a public consultation.He said civil partnerships are “essentially identical” to civil marriage and were created to give legal recognition to same-sex unions at a time “when society was not felt ready” to recognise such relationships as marriages.Mr Eadie told the judges it is accepted Ms Steinfeld and Mr Keidan have a “genuinely held” objection to marriage, but the Government’s decision to “take some time” before deciding on the future of civil partnerships is “justified”.He said: “These are highly sensitive social (and indeed political) issues in which the Government and Parliament are currently, actively and seriously engaged on a defined timescale and process.“The process has taken some time – a fact that is in part due to an understandable and legitimate concern to gauge the reaction over a period of time to the introduction of the Marriage Act 2013.”He later added: “The future of civil partnerships raises difficult questions of social policy for which there is no obvious answer and Parliament has a Bill before it with different options to deal with those difficulties.”Mr Eadie told the court the number of civil partnerships formed in England and Wales fell by 85% in the first two years after the introduction of same-sex marriage. Karon Monaghan QC, representing Ms Steinfeld and Mr Keidan, argued the delay was unacceptable as they were “instantly” discriminated against from the moment the Marriage Act came into force.She told the judges the couple are in a “long-term and committed heterosexual relationship”.She added: “They share a profound and serious objection to the institution of marriage.“Whilst the appellants wish to formalise their relationship, their conscience does not permit them to do so through marriage.“Rather, they wish to enter into a civil partnership with one another.”In a statement outside court before the hearing, Ms Steinfeld and Mr Keidan called on the Government to “stop making excuses” and give everyone the choice to enter a civil partnership.The couple, who have two daughters aged eight months and two years, claim the Government’s position is “incompatible with equality law”.The Court of Appeal agreed the couple had established a potential violation of Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which relates to discrimination, taken with Article 8, which refers to respect for private and family life.But, by a majority of two to one, the judges said the interference was justified by the Government’s policy of “wait and evaluate”.They heard the couple have deep-rooted and genuine ideological objections to marriage and wish to enter into a legally regulated relationship which does not carry “patriarchal baggage”.The Government said it was decided, after public consultations and debate in Parliament, not to extend civil partnerships to opposite-sex couples, abolish them or phase them out at that stage.The aim was to see how extending marriage to same-sex couples impacted on civil partnerships before making a final decision which, if reversed in a few years, would be disruptive, unnecessary and extremely expensive.The hearing is expected to last two days.

Cross-party group loses bid to secure legal ruling on Brexit

February 6 2018

A cross-party group of parliamentarians has lost an early-stage bid to secure a European court ruling on Brexit.Seven politicians from four parties, not including the Conservatives, believe the UK Parliament could unilaterally halt the Brexit process if the final deal is deemed unacceptable by the Commons.They claim this offers a third option instead of Britain having to choose between a bad deal on the UK’s future relationship with Europe or crashing out of the EU with no deal.The group is ultimately seeking a definitive ruling from the European Court of Justice (CJEU) on whether the withdrawal process triggered under Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union can be revoked by the UK on its own, without first securing the consent of the other 27 EU member states.Their legal team went to the Court of Session in Edinburgh last week to ask a judge to refer the question to the Luxembourg court.On Tuesday, judge Lord Doherty refused to move the case to a full hearing at Scotland’s highest civil court, saying the issue is “hypothetical and academic”, and that he is “not satisfied the application has a real prospect of success”.The politicians have a right to appeal against the decision to the Inner House of the Court of Session.The seven elected representatives who launched the case are Green MSPs Andy Wightman and Ross Greer, MEP Alyn Smith and Joanna Cherry QC MP of the SNP, Labour MEPs David Martin and Catherine Stihler and Liberal Democrat MP Christine Jardine. None were present in court as the judge issued his decision.Aidan O’Neill QC, representing the politicians, previously asked for the case to proceed through the Scottish court, arguing there was a genuine dispute between the two sides as to the proper interpretation of Article 50 which the court required to resolve.David Johnston QC, for the UK Government, insisted the application has no real prospect of success and that there was “no live issue” for the court to address.The policy of the UK Government is that the notification under Article 50 will not be withdrawn, he said.Finding in favour of the Government, Lord Doherty said: “I am mindful that demonstrating a real prospect of success is a low hurdle for an applicant to overcome.“However, I am satisfied that that hurdle has not been surmounted. Indeed, in my opinion, the application’s prospect of success falls very far short of being a real prospect.“In my view, the Government’s stated policy is very clear. It is that the notification under Article 50(2) will not be withdrawn.”He went on: “Given that neither Parliament nor the Government has any wish to withdraw the notification, the central issue which the petitioners ask the court to decide – whether the UK could unilaterally withdraw the Article 50(2) notification – is hypothetical and academic.“In those circumstances it is not a matter which this court, or the CJEU, require to adjudicate upon.”The judge concluded: “I am not satisfied that the application has a real prospect of success … Permission to proceed is refused.”The legal action was launched following a crowdfunding campaign and is backed by the Good Law Project.Project director Jo Maugham QC tweeted after the hearing: “It’s plainly in the national interest that MPs, MEPs and MSPs, who face a choice whether to approve Theresa May’s deal, know what options are open to them if they don’t.“I will support an appeal against this decision – to the Supreme Court if necessary.”

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