Sinn Féin member Brian Stanley apologises over insensitive tweet

A Sinn Féin member of the Irish parliament has apologised for a tweet about an IRA bombing in which 18 soldiers were killed in 1979.

Brian Stanley said the content of the now-deleted tweet was “inappropriate and insensitive”.

The post had linked the Narrow Water bombing, near Warrenpoint, to another at Kilmichael, County Cork, in 1920.

That incident saw 17 members of the Royal Irish Constabluary (RIC) killed.

Mr Stanley wrote: “The 2 IRA operation that taught the elite of d British army and the establishment the cost of occupying Ireland. Pity for everyone they were such slow learners.”

The tweet was condemned by First Minister Arlene Foster, who described it as “shameful”.

She said she planned to raise it with the Ceann Comhairle, the chairperson and speaker in the Dáil (Irish parliament).

In a Twitter post, she said: “Although deleted it is outrageous that someone with such warped view can hold a senior position in the Dáil.

“Sinn Féin talk about respect and equality but there’s not much sign of respect for victims.”

In a statement on Sunday night, a Sinn Féin spokesperson said the party had noted Mr Stanley, who is also the chair of the Dáil Public Accounts Committee, had deleted a tweet that was “inappropriate and insensitive and that he has apologised”.

The spokesperson added: “We all have a responsibility in this decade of centenaries to remember and commemorate the past in a respectful manner.”

Esther Dingley search: Six teams look for her in Pyrenees

Search teams and a helicopter have been out in the Pyrenees looking for a missing British woman who has spent six years on a campervan tour of Europe.

Esther Dingley, 37, last messaged her partner Dan Colegate via Whatsapp a week ago, when she was on top of Pic de Sauvegarde on the France-Spain border.

She had been due to return from her solo walking trek on Wednesday but has not been seen.

French authorities said six search teams had been out looking on Sunday.

A helicopter was deployed on the Spanish side of the border and another one is expected to go up on Monday on the French side.

The mountain gendarmerie unit in Bagneres-de-Luchon said teams had been out on Sunday in the area between Port de la Glère and Port de Vénasque.

According to the gendarmerie, witnesses told the Civil Guard in Spain they saw Ms Dingley on Pic de Sauvegarde, which is 2,730m above sea level, last Sunday.

A spokesperson said: “The problem is that we are in lockdown here so there aren’t that many hikers on the paths.

“Nobody has come forward with any information about her.”

On Monday mountain rescue teams are expected to search the more inaccessible areas while the weather remains good.

Ms Dingley had been travelling in the couple’s camper van while Mr Colegate stayed at a farm in the Gascony area of France.

The weekend she set out on the trek, the couple’s story about their adventures around Europe in the camper van since 2014 was published by BBC News.

Ms Dingley had started walking from Benasque in Spain on Saturday and had planned to spend Sunday night at Refuge de Venasque in France, Mr Colegate said.

Mr Colegate, who has gone to the Luchon area to help look for his partner of 18 years, said she had been away for a month and their last conversation had been about “how excited we were to see each other as this was her last trip before driving back”.

The couple had lived in Durham before deciding to pack up their lives and go travelling after Mr Colegate nearly died from an infection.

Police storm church broadcast in Milton Keynes over loud music

Police stormed into a church broadcast and incorrectly told a minister he was to be prosecuted for breaking Covid regulations.

Officers attended Kingdom Faith Ministries International Church in Milton Keynes last week after reports of loud music.

The pastor was told too many staff were running the online service forcing it to stop, a church spokesman said.

Thames Valley Police said there was a “misunderstanding” and apologised.

Rev Daniel Mateola was holding a legal broadcast service in the church to 150 online members of his congregation when two police officers arrived at the building on November 20, the Christian Legal Centre said.

The officers claimed there were too many people supporting the broadcast and demanded they leave.

The guidelines say “the numbers or people involved should be kept as small as possible to minimise risks and participants should follow social distancing guidance” but also states that technical support, musicians and singers are allowed if that is part of the usual form of worship.

When the pastor tried to refer police to the government guidelines on the safe use of places of worship during the pandemic, and insisted what they were doing was legal, a further seven officers were called, the centre said.

Pastor Mateola said officers had “escalated” the situation “unnecessarily” and the service had to be halted as staff left the building.

The Christian Legal Centre said four days later on 24 November officers went to Pastor Mateola’s home and informed him he was to be prosecuted for breaking government regulations.

An officer told him he had “broken coronavirus regulations…the music was blaring out loud”.

Pastor Mateola, who is one of a number of church leaders pursuing a judicial review against the English and Welsh government’s decision to close churches, said both incidents left him “deeply shocked” and that he was “being treated like a criminal”.

Thames Valley Police has apologised and said he will not face prosecution.

Ch Supt Robert France, from the force’s coronavirus response team, said: “It appears in this case that there has been a misunderstanding by our officers of the legislation in place in what is an ever-changing and complex area of enforcement.

“There has been a mistake in the issuing of this ticket and I would like to apologise for the distress I know this is likely to have caused.”

Socially-distanced Santas Grottos allowed to open

Santa’s grottos will be allowed in all tiers if they’re in venues that are permitted to be open, under new Christmas advice.

Door-to-door carol singing will also be permitted, it has been confirmed in the government guidance.

But if you live in tier three in England, you cannot attend a school nativity play – instead, you will have to live stream it or watch a recording.

Rules vary across the different nations of the UK and in different tiers.

Nativity plays will have to be performed within existing school bubbles, with no mixing across groups. Audiences in tier one and tier two areas will be subject to restrictions as well – like social distancing.

Santa’s grottos can open if they are in venues that are permitted according to the tier that region is in. But “appropriate Covid-secure measures” like social distancing have to be in place as well.

Some have already made arrangements for Father Christmas to speak to children via video-streaming sites, instead of face to face.

Carol singing – and carol services – can take place, as long as those attending adhere to the advice on singing safely, which has been put together with the help of Public Health England. Its advice includes singing in well-ventilated areas and keeping distance from each other. Door-to-door carol singing is allowed too, but in groups of a maximum of six.

Special rules have to be in place because singing increases the risk of transmitting the virus through small droplets and aerosols in the air.

The number of people at a carol event should be limited as well. Those performing professionally or as part of a supervised activity for under 18s are not limited in number, but should still follow the performing arts guidance – including things like wearing masks and managing capacity.

For any indoor events, joining in with singing will not be allowed this year. But people can sing if they are outside.

Christmas bubbles can be in place from 23 to 27 December, to allow up to three households to spend the festive period together.

People, in all tiers, can attend places of worship for services from 2 December, but the rules on who you attend with depends on which tier you live in, with no indoor mixing allowed outside of tier one. However, people in the same Christmas bubble can attend together.

Christmas volunteering – which can be a key part of the season for many – is allowed, but it is recommended you do this from home.

The rules on shopping depend on whether the shop is indoors or an outdoor market – and on the tier you live in. This will not change for 23 to 27 December when bubbles are in place, and includes Boxing Day sales.

Nottingham student halls party broken up by police

A party of 200 people at a halls of residence was broken up by police.

The gathering in the courtyard outside St Peter’s Court, Radford, which houses University of Nottingham students, stopped after midnight.

Nottinghamshire Police said officers were unable to arrest anyone as the crowd dispersed when they arrived, but they were still investigating.

It was one of a number of parties the force broke up overnight, prompting a plea to follow the rules.

Students across England are being tested next week as part of the government’s plan to allow them to return home between 3 and 9 December.

Shortly after 21:00 GMT officers handed out five £200 fines after responding to reports of a party in a field in Gonalston.

They said they were still trying to find the organiser and a driver who crashed into a police car as they fled the scene.

At about 22:30 officers were called to a flat in Pilcher Gate, in the city centre, where they gave £200 fines to 21 people.

Shortly after 23:30 two people were arrested in Valley Road, Carlton, on suspicion of assaulting a police officer who had been at another illegal gathering.

Just after midnight officers broke up a “large party” in St Ann’s and issued the organiser with a summons to appear in court.

Det Supt Andrew Gowan said: “The very last thing we want to be doing as police officers is to be punishing people for gathering together and having fun.

“However, the current national restrictions are in place to protect the wider public from harm and we will keep enforcing them for as long as we need to.

“It is deeply disappointing that so many needed such an expensive reminder that the rules apply equally to everyone.

“We understand that this is a difficult time but there really are no excuses for this kind of behaviour where people are blatantly ignoring the restrictions in such large numbers.”

Covid: Grottos allowed in new Christmas guidance

Santa’s grottos will be allowed in all tiers if they’re in venues that are permitted to be open, under new Christmas advice.

Door-to-door carol singing will also be permitted, it has been confirmed in the government guidance.

But if you live in tier three in England, you cannot attend a school nativity play – instead, you will have to live stream it or watch a recording.

Rules vary across the different nations of the UK and in different tiers.

Nativity plays will have to be performed within existing school bubbles, with no mixing across groups. Audiences in tier one and tier two areas will be subject to restrictions as well – like social distancing.

Santa’s grottos can open if they are in venues that are permitted according to the tier that region is in. But “appropriate Covid-secure measures” like social distancing have to be in place as well.

Some have already made arrangements for Father Christmas to speak to children via video-streaming sites, instead of face to face.

Carol singing – and carol services – can take place, as long as those attending adhere to the advice on singing safely, which has been put together with the help of Public Health England. Its advice includes singing in well-ventilated areas and keeping distance from each other. Door-to-door carol singing is allowed too, but in groups of a maximum of six.

Special rules have to be in place because singing increases the risk of transmitting the virus through small droplets and aerosols in the air.

The number of people at a carol event should be limited as well. Those performing professionally or as part of a supervised activity for under 18s are not limited in number, but should still follow the performing arts guidance – including things like wearing masks and managing capacity.

For any indoor events, joining in with singing will not be allowed this year. But people can sing if they are outside.

Christmas bubbles can be in place from 23 to 27 December, to allow up to three households to spend the festive period together.

You are allowed to travel to join the Christmas bubble from 23 December and once there, should follow the rules in that tier. You should return back home no later than 27 December. If you are travelling to or from Northern Ireland, you are allowed to travel on 22 and 28 December.

When Christmas bubbles are in place, it is recommended normal childcare bubbles are not used, other than where there is no other option, to stop the virus potentially spreading between different groups.

People, in all tiers, can attend places of worship for services from 2 December, but the rules on who you attend with depends on which tier you live in, with no indoor mixing allowed outside of tier one. However, people in the same Christmas bubble can attend together.

Christmas volunteering – which can be a key part of the season for many – is allowed, but it is recommended you do this from home.

The rules on shopping depend on whether the shop is indoors or an outdoor market – and on the tier you live in. This will not change for 23 to 27 December when bubbles are in place, and includes Boxing Day sales.

The Crown should carry fiction warning, says culture secretary

The culture secretary has said the creators behind TV series The Crown, based on the lives of the Royal Family, need to make clear the show is fiction.

“I fear a generation of viewers who did not live through these events may mistake fiction for fact,” Oliver Dowden told the Mail on Sunday.

He praised the Netflix drama, now in its fourth season, as a “beautifully produced work of fiction”.

But said: “It should be very clear at the beginning it is just that.”

Mr Dowden told the paper he intended to write to Netflix this week to express his concerns. The production company has so far declined to comment.

The latest series, which stars Olivia Colman as the Queen, has attracted criticism from some quarters for its depiction of royal events, in particular the breakdown of the marriage of the Prince and Princess of Wales.

The Mail on Sunday has led calls for a disclaimer to be added to the series.

Earl Spencer, brother of the late Diana, Princess of Wales, previously told ITV’s Lorraine Kelly he was worried some viewers would take the storylines “as gospel”.

“I think it would help The Crown an enormous amount if, at the beginning of each episode, it stated that: ‘This isn’t true but it is based around some real events’,” he said.

Peter Morgan, the show’s creator, has defended the fictionalised account of real-life events, describing the script as a “constant push-pull” between research and drama.

Actor Josh O’Connor, who plays Prince Charles in the current series, told BBC Breakfast: “What Peter does so brilliantly is he takes the historical facts… and then paints in between those ‘punctuation moments’.”

“Sometimes people will want to believe this is what happened. It’s always worth checking in and remembering that we’re actors, we’re not real and it’s not a real story,” he added.

But former Buckingham Palace press secretary Dickie Arbiter has accused the show of “stretching dramatic licence to the extreme”.

“It’s a hatchet job on Prince Charles and a bit of a hatchet job on Diana,” Mr Arbiter told the BBC.

And former royal correspondent Jennie Bond told the BBC Newscast podcast she feared some viewers might treat the show “as a documentary”.

It comes after Sarah Horsley, widow of Major Hugh Lindsay, said she was “very upset” by the depiction of her late husband’s death, in 1988, in an avalanche – after she asked for it not to be included in the drama.

Mrs Horsley told the Sunday Telegraph last weekend that The Crown’s producers replied with “a very kind letter”, saying “that they understood my concerns but they hope I will feel that they deal with difficult subject matters with integrity and great sensitivity”.

It is reported that viewing figures for season four of The Crown have already reached 29 million.

21 Savage: Tyrece Fuller charged with murdering rappers brother

A man has been charged with murdering the brother of a Grammy-award winning rapper in south London.

Terrell Davis, the brother of US rapper 21 Savage, was found injured in Ramillies Close, Lambeth, last Sunday. He died at the scene.

He was also a rapper and performed as TM1way.

Tyrece Fuller, 21, of Tavy Close, Lambeth, was charged on Saturday and will appear before Bromley magistrates on Monday.

In an online tribute, 21 Savage, whose real name is She’yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, posted a picture of the pair on Instagram as young boys and more recent images of Mr Davis.

He wrote: “Can’t believe somebody took you baby bro.”

Though based in the US, the rapper was born in Newham, London.

Dave Prowse: My first recollection of him was he was enormous

The first thing many people noticed about Dave Prowse was his size.

His imposing frame would take the bodybuilder and actor, who has died at 85 after a short illness, to Hollywood – and a galaxy far, far away.

As a young man, it took him to the doors at The Glen, the Bristol dance hall where he worked.

“There was never any trouble at The Glen,” remembers David Warren, who told the BBC he used to visit the venue on Mondays and Fridays.

“I was standing on the edge of the dance floor – it must have been in 1961 – and was conscious of someone standing next to me. I looked down and saw a pair of feet. I have big feet – size 11 – but these were enormous, huge.

“I turned and looked up and up and up. He was a giant.”

Yet for many of those who got to know Dave Prowse, it was his generosity and kindness they remembered.

“We lived a few doors away from Dave and his family when I was growing up,” Sandra Weakner told the BBC.

“Every Sunday morning all the children in the road would have keep fit with Dave and his children in his front room.

“I remember one occasion his daughter and I were told by Dave we were doing better than the boys. It made our day, especially as my brother was also doing it.”

Sandra, whose maiden name is Barrett, remembers Prowse travelling to the United States to play his most famous role.

“I remember him going off to America when he was being Darth Vader. We were out in the street waving him off.

“They were such a lovely family.”

Marina Grant was 14 when she first met Prowse. She lives with a disability and uses callipers to support her legs.

“My father heard Dave on the radio talking about how he used to wear a calliper as a child for his club foot,” she told the BBC.

“My dad got in touch with Dave and he kindly offered to give me personal training sessions at his gym for free.”

They stayed in touch for a time.

“Dave and his wife Norma even came to my wedding in 1989,” she said.

“He was a lovely man.”

Ian Edmed also trained at Prowse’s gym, in the 1970s and 1980s.

“My first recollection of him was he was absolutely enormous,” he told the BBC.

“He set me off on a lifetime in weights. And he was just one of those people who was larger than life. He was an inspiration to everyone who trained at his gym.

“He was an innovator. There weren’t many gyms in London at the time and it drew people from quite a way.”

Prowse’s was not the only famous face Ian recalls recognising there.

“The number of people I met there – Andy Ripley, the England rugby player; [bodybuilder] Frank Zane, Mr Olympia; Peter Davison, who went on to play Doctor Who, and his wife Sandra Dickinson.

“I missed Arnold Schwarzenegger – he turned up one evening.

“Dave was the type of person who people flock to.”

Ian moved away, but returned to they gym when his son, Scott, was born.

“Dave signed a photo for him. We’ve dug out the picture to send to my son today,” he said.

“For people of my generation, he’ll always be remembered as Darth Vader.

“When the mask was finally taken off and it was a different actor underneath he wasn’t very happy, I can tell you.”

But if there was any resentment – his voice was also dubbed – it didn’t stop him from engaging with the legions of Star Wars fans.

Derek Reeves is the chairman of the Croydon Symphonic Band, an award-winning amateur community wind band. A few years ago the band was due to perform music from Star Wars at Fairfield Halls.

“We had a phone call out of the blue,” he told the BBC. “It was Dave Prowse.

“He lived nearby and asked if he could come to the concert. He was a gentleman who was happy to stay behind and sign autographs after the concert and have photographs taken with the audience and band members.”

Prowse was a regular fixture at conventions, too. Attendees or exhibitors paying tribute on social media have emphasised his graciousness and generosity.

Mike Sparkes, 51, from Colchester, was at a wrestling reunion in 2010 when he unexpectedly bumped into Prowse.

“Back in the 1970s he trained a lot of the British wrestlers at the time,” Mike explained.

“He was an absolute gentleman. I grew up knowing him as the Green Cross Code man and he chatted to my then 10-year-old daughters about crossing the road and road safety.”

“He told them that he had helped your mum and dad learn road safety – meaning myself and my wife Helen – which he did as we grew up with the public information films,” Mike said.

“It was the only time I met him personally. But it is a really sad day today.”

Covid in Scotland: Where are the latest cases?

There have been 93,689 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Scotland and 3,722 people have died following a positive test for the virus, according to Scottish government figures.

This page is updated regularly and analyses the key figures for the coronavirus outbreak in Scotland.

Figures updated at 14:00 on 29 November 2020.

Over the past seven days there have been 6,328 cases detected following a test, with 746 confirmed on Saturday.

This next chart shows the number of daily confirmed cases after an NHS Scotland or UK government test since 1 August, along with a seven-day average.

The actual number of people infected since February will be far higher than the overall confirmed cases figure, as most people who had Covid-19 during the peak of the outbreak were not tested.

Scotland’s “second wave” has seen a much bigger surge in the number of cases because many more people are being tested.

The weekly number of positive tests per 100,000 people in each of Scotland’s 32 local authorities is now a key indicator of which Covid level a council area will be placed in.

The Scottish government works to a system of thresholds, while also considering other indicators such as hospital admissions when reviewing the levels.

The number of positive cases in each local authority is published daily by Public Health Scotland.

The most recent data often underestimates the number of positive tests as there are sometimes delays before results are recorded, so this chart uses figures from four days ago.

It is also possible to see rates for the past seven days by NHS health board.

Over the course of the outbreak, the highest number of cumulative cases has been in NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, reflecting the fact it is the most populous part of Scotland.

The first coronavirus death in Scotland was reported by NHS Lothian on 13 March and the number of daily deaths peaked on 15 April when 84 were reported.

Over the summer, Scotland went for a long period when there were no deaths following a positive test for Covid-19, but the rate of new deaths rose again in the autumn.

There are three ways to measure deaths from Covid-19.

The Scottish government’s daily announcement counts deaths within 28 days of a positive test for Covid-19, whereas the National Records of Scotland (NRS) counts all death certificates that mention Covid-19, even if the person has not been tested for the virus.

The NRS also publishes monthly data on excess deaths in 2020, compared with a five-year average.

At its peak, the coronavirus outbreak created a huge load on Scotland’s hospitals, with 1,520 Covid patients being treated across the country on 20 April.

The number of people in hospital is currently far lower than that, but it rose steadily in October before appearing to stabilise in November.

This chart shows the numbers of patients in Scottish hospitals since 11 September.

It is hard to compare the numbers in hospital now with figures over the summer as the Scottish government has recently changed the way it counts them.

From 11 September, only patients who test positive during their current stay in hospital, or in the two weeks before their admission, are included in the numbers.

They will also no longer be classified as Covid patients after 28 days in hospital or 28 days after their positive test, whichever is later.

This change led to a big drop in the number of people classified as Covid patients.

The number of hospital patients being treated in intensive care is also down from a peak of 208 in early April, but rose again during October.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) says the percentage of positive test results is a key measure when assessing the status of a Covid-19 outbreak within a country.

The organisation has stated that if less than 5% of samples from a comprehensive testing system return a positive result over two weeks then it is one indication an epidemic is under control.

Other indications include a continuous decline in hospital admissions and a decline in the number of new deaths over at least three weeks.

This chart shows the “positivity rate” in Scotland since 18 August.

The Scottish government changed the way it measures this rate on 19 October.

Previously, the government calculated it by dividing the number of positive cases with the number of newly-tested individuals each day.

However, it now calculates the rate using the number of positive tests reported each day.

The Scottish government said it changed the method to bring it into line with the WHO’s criteria, and because the previous measure was “likely to over-estimate the positivity rate” as more people were repeatedly tested.

Data on the number of positive tests each day (rather than positive cases) is only available from 18 August.

The R number, or reproduction number, is a way of rating a disease’s ability to spread. It is the average number of people that one infected person will pass the virus on to.

If the reproduction number is higher than one, then the number of cases increases exponentially.

The Scottish government has been monitoring the estimated R number in Scotland since the start of the outbreak.

Source for all graphs and figures: Scottish government’s coronavirus in Scotland and its daily briefing.

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