David Starkey: Police end investigation into interview with Darren Grimes

Police have dropped their investigation into an interview in which historian Dr David Starkey made controversial comments about slavery.

Dr Starkey made the remarks on YouTube to conservative commentator Darren Grimes, who was also investigated.

The historian accused the police of a “misconceived, oppressive” attempt to curtail freedom of expression.

He has previously apologised for saying in June that slavery was not genocide because “so many damn blacks” survived.

“It was a serious error for which I have already paid a significant price,” he said last week.

“I did not, however, intend to stir up racial hatred and there was nothing about the circumstances of the broadcast which made it likely to do so.”

The Metropolitan Police opened the investigation at the end of September, almost three months after an allegation of a public order offence was passed to them by Durham Police.

Last week, the Met said a senior officer had been appointed to review the investigation.

In a statement on Wednesday, Cdr Paul Brogden said: “It is the duty of police to assess and, if appropriate, fully investigate alleged offences and the public would expect us to investigate an allegation of this nature.

“We conducted initial inquiries to establish the full circumstances and sought early advice from the CPS. Having had the opportunity to review this, it is no longer proportionate that this investigation continues.

“We have made direct contact with the individuals involved and updated them on this decision.”

In response, Dr Starkey said: “The investigation should never of course have begun. From the beginning it was misconceived, oppressive and designed to misuse the criminal law to curtail the proper freedom of expression and debate.

“This freedom is our birthright; and it is more important than ever at this critical juncture in our nation’s history.” The outcome was also “a personal vindication”, he added.

Writing on Twitter, Mr Grimes described it as a “vexatious charge” that had involved the “unprecedented use of the Public Order Act to regulate speech & debate”.

During the original discussion, Dr Starkey told Mr Grimes that slavery “was not genocide” because “otherwise there wouldn’t be so many damn blacks in Africa or Britain would there? An awful lot of them survived.”

The subsequent outcry led Cambridge University’s Fitzwilliam College, Canterbury Christ Church University, The Mary Rose Trust and publisher HarperCollins to cut ties with him.

But figures from former home secretary Sajid Javid to ex-Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron and former director of public prosecutions Lord Macdonald of River Glaven criticised the investigation into Mr Grimes as a threat to a free media.

Missing Bristol Banksy gorilla appears at auction

An early Banksy artwork which mysteriously disappeared from the wall of a Bristol community centre last month has been put up for auction.

Gorilla in a pink mask had been on the wall of the former North Bristol Social Club in Eastville since around 2001.

In 2011 the building’s owner painted over it thinking it was just graffiti.

It has now been revealed the 100kg (220lb) artwork was removed from the Jalalabad Islamic Centre by an art restoration company and is being sold.

Vans were spotted parked at the site in mid-September, prompting speculation the familiar landmark was being restored.

Now, more than a month since it went missing, street art restoration company Exposed Walls has revealed it was given permission to remove it by the centre.

The centre’s owner, Saeed Ahmed, said he wants to raise funds to restore the 100-year-old building and give “money back to local charities in the Bristol area”.

“The reason for selling is because the building is falling to pieces and we wanted to safeguard the piece,” he said.

“But I do miss it. We used to have lots of people coming to look at it and now people come and see it’s gone.”

The 1.5m by 0.8m “aerosol on concrete” mural, depicts a gorilla holding up a pink masquerade mask.

Wayne Rock, from Exposed Walls, said it had been a “challenge” to remove it.

“It took four or five days to remove it. We had to create a hole and come from behind so that it didn’t break and we could release it,” he said.

“It’s been damaged with paint and has had a little bit of light restoration but it is brilliant.”

Also known as Glitter Gorilla, the piece is being sold online with the auction ending on 17 November.

The Chop: Sky pulls TV woodwork show over contestants tattoos

A TV contest for carpenters has been pulled from Sky schedules over concerns about one of its contestant’s tattoos.

One participant, Darren Lumsden, was accused of having a Nazi symbol on his face after the Sky History channel posted a clip from the show online.

The channel initially said the tattoos had “no political or ideological meaning whatsoever”.

However it then said it would not air the programme until it had investigated their “nature and meaning”.

The Chop: Britain’s Top Woodworker, hosted by Lee Mack and Rick Edwards, began on Thursday, with the second episode due to be aired this Thursday.

The series sees 10 contestants compete over nine weeks of carpentry challenges.

In the promotional clip, Mr Lumsden, from North Somerset, is seen with the number 88 inked on his cheek. As H is the eighth letter of the alphabet, the number can be used by white supremacists as numerical code for “Heil Hitler”.

In a statement on Tuesday, Sky History said his tattoos denoted “significant events in his life and have no political or ideological meaning whatsoever”. It said the number 88 on Mr Lumsden’s cheek referred to 1988, the year of his father’s death.

Viewers also raised concerns about some of his other markings, claiming they included other numerals that could be associated with white supremacist slogans.

Irish historian Elizabeth Boyle wrote on Twitter that she could see at least five potential Nazi and white power tattoos on his face.

In its initial statement, the channel said producers had carried out “extensive background checks” on all contestants and “confirmed Darren has no affiliations or links to racist groups, views or comments”. It added: “Any use of symbols or numbers is entirely incidental and not meant to cause harm or offence.”

However, that statement was deleted and a separate announcement said: “While we further investigate the nature, and meaning, of Darren’s tattoos, we have removed the video featuring him from our social media pages, and will not be broadcasting any episodes of The Chop: Britain’s Top Woodworker until we have concluded that investigation.

“Sky History stands against racism and hate speech of all kinds.”

Mr Lumsden has not responded to BBC requests for comment. Speaking to the Bristol Post about his tattoos in an article published on Monday, before the furore erupted, he said: “I have my daughter on the back of my head and my son on my cheek.

“When some people first meet me they are a bit shocked, admittedly. But they soon warm to me after a few minutes.”

End Sars protests: Growing list of celebrities pledge support for demonstrators

Manchester United star Odion Ighalo has become one of the latest celebrities to voice their support for protests against police brutality in Nigeria.

In a video on Twitter, the Nigerian striker called his country’s government “a shame to the world”.

It comes amid reports that several people have been shot dead or wounded during demonstrations in Nigeria’s biggest city, Lagos.

Officials denied there were any deaths and have promised an investigation.

Mr Ighalo, who has won 35 caps for Nigeria’s national football team, said in his statement that he could not “stay silent anymore”.

“I am ashamed of this government, we are tired of you guys and we can’t take this anymore,” he added.

Among those who’ve also expressed their support for the protests are actor John Boyega, and musicians including Estelle, Trey Songz and Chance the Rapper.

Pop singer Beyonce Knowles said in a statement that she was “working on partnerships with youth organisations to support those protests for change”.

Musician Rihanna shared a picture of a bloodied Nigerian flag on Twitter and said: “My heart is broken for Nigeria.”

Earlier this week, US rapper Kanye West also showed his solidarity with demonstrators, saying “the government must answer to the people’s cries”.

British-Nigerian boxer Anthony Joshua said he was exploring donations to support local hospitals and provide food packages.

“This was never a trend for me! It’s real life and I want to learn how to make lasting change,” he added.

The protests have also gained support from several high profile figures with no ties to Nigeria, including Twitter’s chief executive Jack Dorsey, and German-Turkish Arsenal player Mesut Özil.

Protests began nearly two weeks ago amid calls for the disbandment of a controversial police unit, the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (Sars).

The unit has been accused of illegal detentions, assaults and shootings, and was disbanded by Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari on 11 October.

But the demonstrations have continued around the country, with calls for more reforms to Nigeria’s security services, and the government more widely.

Over the last two weeks, an outpouring of support for Nigerian protesters has played out on Twitter, with various hashtags, but predominantly #EndSARS.

Protests have sometimes turned violent. Yesterday human right group Amnesty International said a group of armed people attacked protesters in the capital, Abuja.

In turn, police have accused people “posing” as protesters of looting weapons, and torching police buildings in southern Edo state.

In a video address on Monday, President Buhari said every police officer responsible for wrongdoing would be brought to justice, and that the disbandment of Sars was “only the first step in our commitment to extensive police reform”.

Turner Prize among Coventry City of Culture events

Coventry will play host to the Turner Prize in 2021, as one of a number of events revealed for its year as the UK’s City of Culture.

The Specials singer Terry Hall will also curate a three-day festival, it has been announced.

The Covid-19 pandemic means the start of the year-long programme has been postponed, with the opening now set to take place on 15 May.

Its creative director said plans were “rooted in the people of the city”.

“We know our programme will create a year of extraordinary experiences,” Chenine Bhathena told a digital launch event.

The exhibition of the Turner Prize’s shortlisted artists will run from 29 September 2021 to 12 January 2022, with the announcement of the winner on 1 December.

Turner Prize chair Alex Farquharson said he was “delighted” it would be held in the city, the first time in its history it will be hosted in the Midlands.

Also among the events is the CVX Festival, made by young people with city rapper Jay 1 who will co-produce live music with his brand ONE Wave.

Martin Sutherland, chief executive of the City of Culture Trust, said it had been working over the summer to “reimagine what a city of culture can be” following the pandemic, and he was “delighted” with what had been done.

Organisers said all the events were being planned in a “flexible and responsive way”, to allow them to go ahead in line with any guidelines in place at the time.

Ms Bhathena said they were looking to welcome visitors in a “safe, socially distanced way” and show people “what they can do, rather than what they can’t do”.

A full programme of events will be announced in January.

Fast & Furious franchise to reach end of the road after two more films

The long-running Fast & Furious movie franchise is to come to an end after two more films, according to reports.

Justin Lin will direct what will be the 10th and 11th films in the series, Deadline and Variety said.

The ninth film in the franchise will be released in May 2021, having been put back a year by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The action-packed film series began in 2001 with The Fast and the Furious, starring Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez and the late Paul Walker.

The franchise has since expanded to incorporate eight direct sequels, one movie spin-off and an animated TV series.

The series – which includes last year’s Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw – has so far generated $5.7bn (£4.3bn) worldwide.

Furious 7, released in 2015, is the most successful instalment to date, having made $1.5bn (£1.1bn).

According to Deadline, the final two films are likely to tell “a big story” that will reunite all the series’ core cast members. Distributor Universal has been approached for comment.

When The Fast and the Furious was released in 2001, few predicted it would spawn a global box office behemoth.

Modest in scale and named after a 1954 B-movie, its story of an undercover cop who infiltrates a group of vehicle-hijacking street racers was a hit with audiences, but was met with critical derision.

“The Fast and the Furious… scarcely lives up to its title,” sneered Entertainment Weekly, while The Washington Post dubbed it “Rebel Without a Cause without a cause”.

The BBC’s Neil Smith, though, gave a warm welcome to “a visceral, high-octane, Formula One of a flick” that was “the best movie of the summer”.

Walker returned, minus Diesel, in 2 Fast 2 Furious, which saw him and new co-star Tyrese Gibson fall foul of a Miami drug lord under the late John Singleton’s direction.

That was followed in 2006 by The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, which saw a new character – Lucas Black’s Sean Boswell – become involved in illegal street racing in Japan.

It was 2009’s Fast & Furious, however, that set the template for the series’ subsequent development as a globetrotting action franchise in the James Bond mould.

The film saw Brian O’Conner (Walker) and Dominic Toretto (Diesel) reunite and join forces to bring down a Mexican drug cartel.

Fast Five (2011) took the formula to Rio and introduced Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as Luke Hobbs, a US enforcement agent intent on bringing Toretto to justice.

In 2013, Fast & Furious 6 took the team to London before climaxing with an explosive showdown involving a cargo plane attempting to take off. The BBC subsequently calculated that a runway would need to be 18.37 miles (29.6km) long for the 13-minute sequence to be achieved in reality.

Fast & Furious 7 followed in 2015, although its release was overshadowed by Walker’s tragic death in a car accident in December 2013.

The film was the usual mix of outrageous stunts and exotic locations, but ended with a poignant coda that served as a tribute to the departed actor.

2017’s F8, aka The Fate of the Furious, introduced Charlize Theron as a new adversary and saw nuclear submarines join the series’ collection of high-performance vehicles.

2019’s Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw, meanwhile, saw Johnson’s character form a testy alliance with reformed criminal Deckard Shaw, played by Jason Statham.

Over the years, the Fast & Furious ensemble has expanded to incorporate such actors as Wonder Woman’s Gal Gadot, rapper Ludacris and Dame Helen Mirren.

The series has also spawned the Netflix animated series Fast & Furious Spy Racers as well as video games, live shows and theme park attractions.

Fast & Furious 9, aka F9, had been due for release in April but was put back by 11 months due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The film, which was shot in London and Edinburgh as well as Georgia and Thailand, is now scheduled for release in May 2021.

Sir David Attenborough says Covid-19 is threat to environment

Sir David Attenborough said the Covid-19 pandemic was a threat to the environment as politicians deal with the crisis instead of climate change.

The naturalist and broadcaster expressed his fears to environmental activist Greta Thunberg at a virtual wildlife film festival in Bristol.

The 94-year-old said Thunberg had given the world hope by energising young people to fight for the environment.

The teenager also praised Sir David’s new film A Life On Our Planet.

Sir David said several international climate conferences had been cancelled because of Covid-19.

“I am worried that people will take their eyes off the environmental issue because of the immediate problems they have on Covid-19,” he said.

Speaking from his home in London as part of Wildscreen’s “Planetary Crisis” conversation, he said Thunberg’s campaigning had made other young people demand action to stop climate change.

“If there is any sign of hope, and there is to be truthful compared to what there was 25 years ago, it’s because of what you’ve done and what you’ve done for young people,” he said.

“The world owes you a lot and I hope you are not paying too high a price for it, and it looks from what you are saying that you are managing to survive alright.”

Speaking from Sweden, Thunberg, 17, said since becoming known around the world for her activism, people were talking about her instead of climate change.

“It takes away focus from the climate process. All we are trying to do is raise public awareness and create public opinion,” she said.

“If enough people become aware and if enough people put enough pressure on people in power and the elected officials then they will have to do something because the politicians job is to get elected and to do as the voters ask.”

She praised Sir David’s A Life On Our Planet for the way it “connected all these issues, like the climate crisis, loss of biodiversity, loss of soil and over-fishing”.

Berlin mystery attack targets 70 museum artefacts

It is being described as one of the biggest attacks on art and antiquities in post-war German history, but it has taken more than two weeks to emerge.

At least 70 artefacts were sprayed with an oily liquid on Berlin’s Museum Island, a Unesco world heritage site that is home to five famous museums.

The attack took place on 3 October, the anniversary of German reunification.

German reports have speculated whether supporters of a far-right conspiracy theorist may have been involved.

Attila Hildmann, who has spread conspiracy theories about the Covid-19 pandemic, has also claimed that one of the five museums, the Pergamon Museum, is home to the “Throne of Satan”.

Berlin’s state criminal police agency released details of the attack late on Tuesday, 17 days after at least one unknown attacker targeted Ancient Egyptian sarcophagi, stone sculptures and 19th Century paintings.

The reason for the initial secrecy is unclear, and the story was only confirmed after police were approached by Die Zeit magazine and Deutschlandfunk radio. Other museums were not informed of the possible risk either, they report.

Investigators have emailed people who bought museum tickets on the day of the attack appealing for information.

Police told Der Tagesspiegel website they had been investigating the attack for a while “but for strategic reasons we’ve not made the case public”.

The oily liquid sprayed on to the dozens of artefacts has caused damage and left visible stains. A museum worker told Berliner Morgenpost that most of the damage was superficial. “Some of it we had to use a torch to find.”

The museums targeted include the Pergamon Museum, which is home to the renowned Pergamon Altar, erected by King Eumenes II in the Second Century BC. Pergamon was an Ancient Greek city in Asia Minor, or modern-day Turkey.

Local reports said a 9th Century BC sculpture had been attacked along with a 3D exhibit of the original Pergamon Altar, which is currently under renovation.

Artefacts were also attacked in the Neues Museum, Alte Nationalgalerie and elsewhere. The Neues Museum is home to a bust of Egyptian Pharaoh Nefertiti.

Museum Island has been targeted in the past.

In March 2017, a giant, gold coin worth around $4m ($3m) was stolen in a night raid on the Bode Museum.

Two cousins and a museum security guard were jailed in February for the theft of the Big Maple Leaf coin, which bears an image of Queen Elizabeth II. The thieves climbed in through a rear window and the gold coin was never recovered.

It is unclear if the attack was meant to coincide with German Unity Day.

But German reports have highlighted social media messages from Attila Hildmann in August in which he made outrageous claims about night-time practices surrounding the magnificent Pergamon Altar. The Pergamon Museum itself was built to house the monument.

In June, the conspiracy theorists addressed supporters from the steps of the nearby Altes Museum.

Then in August, while the Pergamon Museum was still closed because of the coronavirus pandemic, he described the altar as being the “centre of global satanists and Corona criminals”.

Hollyoaks anniversary: 25 years of memorable storylines

This week marks 25 years since Hollyoaks first appeared on Channel 4 and to celebrate, the show will see the return of some old favourites.

There will also be blackmail, a proposal, the discovery of a dead body and potentially a divorce for the village’s favourite couple.

For a tea-time soap, Hollyoaks has never feared tackling hard-hitting or controversial storylines.

The show has drawn praise for its portrayal of real-life issues, from gender, sexuality and mental health, to child abuse and far right extremism.

Ahead of the anniversary on Friday, here’s a look back at 10 of the biggest Hollyoaks plots.

Male rape has been tackled twice in Hollyoaks.

In 2000, Luke Morgan, played by Gary Lucy, was attacked by a fellow football player.

His rape was a soap first and generated national headlines. You could argue it’s still Hollyoaks’ most famous storyline.

At the time, producers worked with rape support groups.

It was something they did again in 2014 when teacher John Paul McQueen, played by James Sutton, was sexually assaulted by one of his students.

County lines is the term for when drug dealers in cities recruit young and often vulnerable people to transport and sell illegal drugs in small towns and villages.

They are often enticed by the promise of money but it can become violent and dangerous with no way out.

The storyline was introduced at the end of last year and saw Sid and Juliet drawn into dealing by Sid’s cousin Jordan.

The pair have now sold drugs in the village and recruited younger kids to join them.

Hollyoaks worked with the Children’s Society to develop the plotline and highlight how the issue can affect a whole community.

Emma Rigby won a British Soap Award for best actress for her portrayal of Hannah Ashworth, who had anorexia and bulimia.

Her character experienced the illness for years on screen, attracting praise from mental health charities for raising awareness.

As part of her story, one of her friends, Melissa, died of a heart attack due to a lack of food.

It was the first time a British soap had ever had a character die because of an eating disorder.

Ste Hay, played by Keiron Richardson, and Brendan Brady, played by Emmett Scanlan, were part of a love triangle in which Brendan abused Ste, fuelled by his struggle to accept his sexuality.

Before the plot developed, Richardson came out publicly on This Morning.

He said: “The storyline’s relevant to some situations in my life and if maybe I can help people that are going through the same thing then it’s a bonus.”

The plot was also used to highlight the issue of male victims of domestic abuse.

In the early 2000s Gemma Atkinson played Lisa Hunter, who turned to self-harm after being bullied by Steph Dean.

It was the first soap to feature such a plot, with Lisa hiding what she was doing from her family and friends.

Self-harm has since been covered several times in Hollyoaks.

In 1995, the national press covered the death of a teenage girl called Leah Betts, who died after taking an ecstasy tablet at her 18th birthday.

Less than a year later, Hollyoaks addressed drugs when the character of Natasha Anderson, played by Shebah Ronay, had her drink spiked at an18th birthday party.

She collapsed and died on the dancefloor.

Hollyoaks plotlines have often echoed real news stories.

In 2009, a controversial storyline had two characters who were living under false names after being convicted of killing a child when they were younger.

It was thought to be too similar to the murder of James Bulger and was subsequently scrapped.

In 2019, Hollyoaks explored the threat of far right extremism through Ste.

As Ste was a gay character, the move shifted the focus onto a new trend of recruiting minorities and not the stereotypical white, straight male.

It began with the death of his half sister during surgery. Ste believed a Muslim doctor was responsible and this made him an easy target.

He was even more vulnerable as he lost his job and house around the same time.

Again, the soap was responding to what was happening in the UK at the time and worked with Prevent and ExitUK who help people escape extremism.

In 2009, Anita Roy, played by Saira Choudhry, was racially abused by Gaz Bennett.

As a result of the bullying, she started bleaching her skin to look white – making Hollyoaks the first soap to ever tackle such a storyline.

Speaking to Newsbeat at the time, Choudhry said: “This is really challenging and the deepest thing I’ve ever read.”

Hollyoaks was the first British soap to introduce a character who experiences gender identity disorder.

Introduced to the audience as Jasmine Costello, the character identified as Jason.

The role was played by Victoria Atkin, who met transgender teenagers to research the character.

In 2010, Steph Cunningham was diagnosed with cervical cancer.

Steph, played by Carley Stenson, had ignored her symptoms and ended up needing a hysterectomy.

As with many other plotlines, producers – and Stenson – hoped to raise awareness of the issue among its audience.

If you’ve been affected by any issues in this story you can visit the BBC Action Line for help.

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Spencer Davis: Steve Winwood pays tribute to former bandmate

Steve Winwood has paid tribute to his former bandmate Spencer Davis, following his death at the age of 81.

Davis recruited Winwood on organ and vocals for The Spencer Davis Group, who had a string of hits in the 1960s.

In a statement on his website, Winwood said Davis was “like a big brother” to him.

“He was influential in setting me on the road to becoming a professional musician, and I thank him for that,” he added.

The Spencer Davis Group scored transatlantic hits with Keep On Running and Somebody Help Me.

Winwood was a teenager when he first met Davis during a gig at Birmingham University.

Davis was nine years older and the pair went on to to form The Spencer Davis Group, who toured with The Who and The Rolling Stones in the 60s. Winwood left the group in 1967 to form rock band Traffic, and went on to have a successful solo career.

“Spencer was an early pioneer of the British folk scene, which, in his case embraced folk blues, and eventually what was then called Rhythm and Blues,” Winwood said in his statement.

“He influenced my tastes in music, he owned the first 12-string guitar I ever saw.

“I’d already got a big brother who influenced me greatly, and Spencer became like a big brother to me at the time.

“He was definitely a man with a vision, and one of the pioneers of the British invasion of America in the sixties. I never went to the US with Spencer, but he later embraced America, and America embraced him.”

Davis died in hospital on Monday while being treated for pneumonia, his agent told the BBC.

Bob Birk, who worked with Davis for more than 30 years, also paid tribute, describing Davis as “a very good friend”.

“He was a highly ethical, very talented, good-hearted, extremely intelligent, generous man. He will be missed.”