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Michael Cohen: If Trump Wins ‘There Will Never Be Another Election Thereafter’

Michael Cohen, a former personal attorney for Donald Trump, said Friday on MSNBC’s “The ReidOut” that if the former president wins the election in November, “there will never be another election thereafter.” Host Joy Reid said, “Let me play what you said in 2019 about Trump when you testified to Congress.” In 2019, when testifying before Congress, Cohen said, “Given my experience working for Mr. Trump, I fear that if he loses the election in 2020, there will never be a peaceful transition of power. And this is why I agreed to appear before you today.” Reid said, “We now know there’s been a 600% spike in threats to election workers, following the lawsuit to take Donald Trump off the ballot. We’re talking about election workers quitting in states like Arizona. You predicted he would not leave office peacefully. He didn’t. If he is convicted in this New York case, what do you think will happen next?” Cohen said, “Well, I think of course that he will continue to try to rally his troops, his MAGA army. But a better prediction that I would like to make is that if God forbid a million times that Donald wins in 2024, my prediction is that there will never be another election thereafter.” Reid said, “I agree with you.” Follow Pam Key on Twitter @pamkeyNEN

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Biden Campaign Botches Rollout of Hispanic Outreach Effort in Miami

The Biden campaign has been taking flack in some Florida circles for what some have said was a botched rollout of its Hispanic outreach effort in the Sunshine State. According to Fabiola Santiago at the Miami Herald, the Biden campaign introduced their Hispanic voter outreach effort at a party attended by Florida Democrat Party Chair Nikki Fried, Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff, and Miami Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava. Santiago referred to the photo advertising the event as: “Three gringos launching ‘Latinos con Biden-Harris’ in posh Coral Gables.” Biden campaign/FL Dems botched a Hispanic outreach event In Miami ✅didn’t invite local media ✅Then, @fabiolasantiago (who often reflects their politics!) wasted them in @MiamiHerald ✅Dems attacked her ✅top Hispanic media coming to her defense https://t.co/0iHwInC42I https://t.co/XP4yQzlsU3 pic.twitter.com/SOSj9xVfRb — Marc Caputo (@MarcACaputo) March 29, 2024 The event reportedly featured no local media or major Hispanic stars in the Democrat Party. Santiago took this to mean that the Biden campaign has ceded the state to Republicans while preferring to focus on Hispanic voters in swing states like Arizona. Per the op-ed: Sending the Second Gentleman, as charming as he is, means we aren’t an important state. He isn’t a top presidential campaign surrogate in the party like the Obamas and Clintons. He’s not a rising star relevant to Latinos like California Senator Alex Padilla, son of Mexican immigrants and climate change combatant, credited with passage of the POWER On Act to address disasters. Or like eloquent New York congressman Hakeem Jeffries, in line to be speaker of the House if Democrats regain the majority. Democrats could have brought to town Biden’s education secretary, Miguel Cardona, a respected educator born in Connecticut of Puerto Rican parents. He could’ve eloquently taken on the diminishing value of a Florida education based on GOP political indoctrination, the way the state is alienating instead of embracing minorities, and the appointments of the governor’s cronies to important education posts. Democrats also could have brought to the launch Biden’s Cuban American Homeland Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas — and pushed back very publicly locally on the sham effort by Republicans, including the Cuban Americans from Miami in Congress, to impeach him. Democrats in the state had little appreciation for Santiago’s criticism of their rollout and openly attacked her. “We were highly disappointed to see the [Miami Herald] opinion column by [Fabiola Santiago], said the Democratic Hispanic Caucus of Florida on X. “The article not only failed to recognize the presence of statewide Democratic leadership but also diminished the critical role of the Second Gentleman of the United States, Douglas Emhoff.” The post went on to list the many Hispanic leaders in the state who attended the event held at the new Hispanic Caucus headquarters. We were highly disappointed to see the @MiamiHerald’s opinion column by @fabiolasantiago, where the 3/29/2024 article not only failed to recognize the presence of statewide Democratic leadership but also diminished the critical role of the Second Gentleman of the United States,… pic.twitter.com/zXPRTAlnjZ — Democratic Hispanic Caucus of Florida (@Hispanic_Caucus) March 29, 2024 The criticism of Santiago, a respected Hispanic voice in Florida media, set off alarm bells. Do you guys, out of all people, really want to pick a fight with @fabiolasantiago ?? Really??Please, tell me, how many Hispanics, know who Mr… what ever his name is, is??? https://t.co/G5k3lECh5h — Roberto R. Tejera (@RobertoRTejera) March 29, 2024 Paul Roland Bois directed the award-winning Christian tech thriller, EXEMPLUM, which can be viewed for FREE on YouTube or Tubi. “Better than Killers of the Flower Moon,” wrote Mark Judge. “You haven’t seen a story like this before,” wrote Christian Toto. A high-quality, ad-free rental can also be streamed on Google Play, Vimeo on Demand, or YouTube Movies. Follow on X @prolandfilms or Instagram @prolandfilms.

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Beaten, abused and humiliated. The successful adult men who are still frightened little boys inside…

Giles Moffatt is aware that it sounds ridiculous. Grown men — especially ones who come across as born leaders, brave and determined — should not want to bolt from the table if certain foods are served, or even mentioned. And yet here we are. ‘Roast dinners . . . I can’t do them, even when my wife tries to make them all lovely,’ he says. ‘I can’t eat sliced lamb. Mint sauce? I know it’s silly but I find it hard even to say the words. All that sort of food reminds me of sitting at the table with him. It takes me back to a place I do not want to go, even now.’ The man across the refectory table from Giles — the bogeyman who has haunted his dreams for decades — was John Brownlee, housemaster at Edinburgh Academy, one of the most prestigious private schools in the land. Brownlee was also a sadist, bully, torturer and, as Giles says, ‘monster’. This week, Brownlee, 89, was found by a court in Edinburgh to have conducted a systematic campaign of violence and torture against children in his care over a 20-year period. Children such as the TV presenter Nicky Campbell, 62, whose determination to speak up about abuse he suffered at the school led to an army of other victims coming forward. Nicky Campbell, who testified about Brownlee doing ‘a knuckle dance down my skull’ during one of his beatings, wept afterwards TV presenter Nicky Campbell, pictured at the age of 10, witnessed classmates being abused The determination of Campbell, pictured as a schoolboy, to speak up about abuse he suffered at the school led to an army of other victims coming forward Children like Giles, who on his first night at Edinburgh Academy — an eight-year-old who had never been apart from his mother before — was dragged from his bed by Brownlee, hauled across the linoleum floor (‘to this day, I cannot bear the sight or the smell of linoleum’), taken up to the ‘punishment floor’ and beaten with a snooker cue. School days? This was more a torture regime. No wonder Giles describes it as ‘utter hell’. He would lie in terror every night, frozen at the unmistakable sound of Brownlee’s approach; his footsteps on the corridor outside the dormitory, accompanied by the distinctive rattle of his clacken — a sports bat with a spoon-shaped head perfect for beatings — as it was dragged along the radiator. That sound still reverberates in the heads of men today. How pitiful it is to hear Giles — a former advertising executive now aged 51, and a father to twin girls of 19 — describe the horrors he took into adulthood with him. As well as beatings, there were punishments which involved being plunged into cold baths, locked in sheds (Giles once spent a whole weekend in one with two other boys, for some minor infraction, fed only water and bread). Their ‘norm’ involved having metal combs scraped across their scalps, being throttled to the point of unconsciousness and -having their heads bounced off walls, doors, metal lockers — all at the hands of Brownlee. Boys whose asthma attacks -disturbed the housemaster — who lived at the school with his wife and two sons — were dragged upstairs and punished, while their pals cowered in their beds. ‘We hoped those poor boys with asthma would die,’ says Giles, who now lives in the South of England. ‘Not because we wanted them dead, but because we thought if they died what was happening would be exposed.’ Overall the abuse at the school took place from 1954 to 1995. It was physical, psychological and sexual, and involved other members of staff, too. Teachers such as Hamish Dawson, who died in 2009. Nicky Campbell, 62, has said Dawson sexually abused him. And maths teacher Iain Wares, described during the inquiry as one of the most prolific abusers in UK history. He is still alive, and aged 84, fighting extradition from his home in South Africa. Giles tells me that for much of his adult life he thought he must have imagined the most horrific thing he witnessed: a six-year-old boy with nervous incontinence — the youngest boarder there — being publicly humiliated for -soiling his bed sheets. Outside, with all the others forced to watch, Brownlee made him strip and inserted a hose in the child’s anus. ‘That will teach you to s**t yourself,’ he said. ‘When I finally sat in a police -station, two years ago, and told that story, I didn’t expect anyone to believe it,’ Giles explains. ‘But when the only thing the officer queried was the first name of that boy, I thought “Woah! You have heard this story before”. Then, I was sure it had happened. It all happened, and now a court has confirmed it.’ On Wednesday justice — or a version thereof — was finally served. Brownlee was formally excused an official trial due to his advanced dementia, but a rare quasi-trial, known in Scotland as an ‘examination of facts’, saw Sheriff Ian Anderson rule that he had -committed more than 30 assaults, and was responsible for ‘extreme criminal bullying’. Many of his 70-odd victims — who had kept their terrible childhood secrets to themselves for decades — were in court. Nicky Campbell, who testified about Brownlee doing ‘a knuckle dance down my skull’, during one of his beatings, wept afterwards. Giles was not there in person because today he flies to Nepal and next week will lead an expedition up Everest. It is a boys’ trip with a difference. All six of his climbing mates are survivors of the abuse. Edinburgh Academy teacher John Brownlee, now 89, was found by a court in Edinburgh to have conducted a systematic campaign of violence and torture against children in his care over a 20-year period Giles Moffatt was one of those haunted by the abuse he suffered at the boarding school This ‘band of brothers’, as Nicky Campbell has called them, will be raising money for the NSPCC, and the climb — postponed from last year, because of the court proceedings — will be a liberating one because, for the first time, some emotional baggage will have been discarded. As Nicky Campbell said this week: ‘It’s as if someone has told the grown-ups and now, the grown-ups have believed us.’ Giles, too, still can’t quite take in the fact that a court believed them. There are 70 survivors in the WhatsApp support group he set up. They reckon that there are at least 3,000 men out there who were abused by Brownlee and other teachers, some of whom are still, horrifyingly, at large. ‘I was in a state of shock for about four hours afterwards,’ Giles says. ‘Most of us had gone into this thinking that no one would believe us, that the rest of the world was either out to get us, or certainly couldn’t be trusted.’ Even a little time spent in the company of a man like Giles makes you understand why it is so important that historical child abuse cases are investigated. It is not so much about bringing perpetrators to account; but in validating the stories of those who have suffered. Today, Giles tells me that the impact on the boys involved has been catastrophic. It is believed that 13 former Edinburgh Academy pupils have killed themselves. Dozens of victims — Giles included — have testified to lifelong problems with alcohol and drugs. Giles himself has attempted suicide in the past. Then there is the sheer volume of mental health issues and failed marriages. These children, raised on fear, know no other way of being. ‘Because we are doing this Everest trip, I have been thinking a lot about climbing — one of the only good things school introduced me to — and I’ve boiled it down to this: it’s because I’m fundamentally scared of people,’ says Giles, an experienced climber. ‘I’m better in environments where there are none.’ Many of his former schoolmates are the same: still scared little boys, all these years later. ‘It was brought home to me when we all got a lot of the guys who were in the support group together on Zoom to discuss the modus operandi for the inquiry last summer,’ Giles says. ‘I remember the array of screens, with all these men in their 50s, 60s, 70s in front of me, and I didn’t see that. It was like talking to eight and nine-year-olds. ‘I call us the Lost Boys from Peter Pan because we have been frozen in time, forever eight.’ If the victims here were frozen in time, then so was the perpetrator. Giles says that although he knows Brownlee is ‘a frail old man’, in his head he is still ‘a looming giant’. For decades Giles rarely spoke about his ordeal. When he got married 20 years ago, his wife knew some of what he had gone through, but his parents, who are both now dead, did not know the full extent. His Scottish father worked as an accountant in Paris but wanted his son to have a British education. ‘They never would have believed it,’ Giles says. ‘Brownlee was a Jekyll and Hyde character — a sadist to us, but perfectly charming to the parents.’ Very few of these ‘lost boys’ kept in touch with each other once they’d left school, too traumatised and ashamed (‘because we all blamed ourselves’, says Giles). READ MORE: Nicky Campbell weeps in his wife’s arms as judge finds his ‘sadistic monster’ prep school teacher abused him and other pupils in 20-year reign of terror Advertisement It was only when journalist Alex Renton shone a light on abuse at boarding school, after recalling his own experiences at a different academic institution, and Nicky Campbell then spoke about what had happened to him, that the floodgates opened. ‘I thought I’d handled what happened, but it was when my daughters were at school that I had to accept I hadn’t,’ Giles explains. ‘I couldn’t walk into an assembly hall when they were performing without feeling sick. I couldn’t sit through a Christmas carol concert. But it was only when I heard Nicky speak about it that I realised I had to come forward, too.’ So did others. Graeme Sneddon, who is 63 and has four children of his own, was a day pupil at -Edinburgh Academy and has vivid memories of how Brownlee would physically lift boys off the ground by their hair. ‘When we were nine, we would only have weighed only around 5 st, and he would kick and punch us, and beat us with cricket bats,’ he recalls. ‘Sometimes he would trap our heads in lockers and then thrash our backsides with golf clubs. It was the most painful thing in the world, and I will never forget the sound of it — like a firecracker going off.’ Graeme, a former marketing professional who lives in Edinburgh and is about to get married for the third time, says bluntly: ‘I’ve been frightened all my life. I’ve found it hard to trust people and it’s the reason why so many of our marriages have broken down. ‘My last two broke down because my life was so chaotic, but I quit drinking four years ago.’ Graeme will be at Giles’s side on the ascent of Everest. Though not contemporaries at the Academy, they, like many others, have bonded since reconnecting through the ‘lost boys’ club’. But he says a friend, who had not been in touch since they left school, has come back into his life and will be a guest at his wedding. ‘If there is a silver lining to come out of this it is that I’ve found my band of brothers, as Nicky [Campbell] calls us. We are all damaged men, but we are all intelligent, kind, decent people, and we want to stop this abuse happening to other people.’ John Graham, 56, has a son and a daughter, and works in the motor trade. A boarder at Edinburgh Academy from the age of 11, he thought school would be ‘like in the Enid Blyton books’ but that was soon thrashed out of him. His first beating happened because he did not know the French word for ‘four’ (it was his first French lesson). Like Nicky Campbell, John was sexually abused by teacher -Hamish Dawson. ‘Once I got a Saturday morning detention and was told to go to Mr Dawson’s room,’ he recalls. ‘We all knew he was a bit “touchy feely” but when I got there, I was on my own and he started -nuzzling into my neck and trying to undo my buckle. ‘I could feel his erection pressing into me and was terrified. ‘I managed to get away from him and said that if he ever did anything like that again that I’d tell my big brother.’ He adds: ‘I still sometimes wake up in the middle of the night with his face looming over me. What haunts me is there was another, younger boy due to have detention with me, and he would have arrived after I’d run out. ‘I can’t bear to think what happened to that boy on his own with Dawson after I’d gone. We’d hear about his abuse of boys in the classroom — touching them, putting his fingers where he shouldn’t — all the time. ‘I told the housemaster what had happened with Dawson and nothing happened to him, but I was moved to a different house.’ But John was not safe there either — another teacher ‘made my life hell’, he says. ‘This teacher had beaten Nicky Campbell black and blue a few years earlier, and his parents complained but nothing happened. ‘He was a real bully. He only ever tried to physically beat me once, but his mental torture was relentless. I often say that bruises heal but the mental scars don’t. ‘After I’d left the school — half-way through the fifth year because I couldn’t stand it any more — I’d sometimes sit outside his house and think about killing him.’ John — who links the break-up of his first marriage and alcohol problems he suffered (‘although I’ve been sober for 16 years now’) to his childhood — opened up about the abuse only a few years ago, when his current wife playfully grabbed him. ‘Normally, I’d laugh, but on this occasion, I was in the kitchen and felt trapped. I was transported back into Dawson’s room again and I burst into tears. I explained it to my wife and I sobbed like a baby that day,’ he says. The legacy of John’s schooldays is there every single time he visits the bathroom. ‘One time we all got beaten by Brownlee for one of the boys -dribbling over the side of the -toilet when he went to pee in the middle of the night. To this day I still sit down to pee,’ he says. What courage these men still show, every day. John, who lives in Norwich, says the band of brothers ‘saved my life’, literally. ‘I had a real wobble about everything a few months ago and told the rest of the group that I was “done” and I couldn’t cope any more,’ he says. ‘Giles realised there was something “off” about my message and called me. What he didn’t know when he rang to chat was that I had taken measures to kill myself that evening.’ Some might argue that justice still hasn’t been done, given that Brownlee will not die in prison. None of these men seems to care too much about that. ‘Once, I would have done, but I don’t have to see an old man go to prison. Just having our stories heard, and believed, is enough,’ says Giles. He says he is no longer ‘consumed by anger’ and fuelled by ideas of revenge, as he once was. ‘Although if I was given three months to live, I would like to pay him a visit. I’d take him with me.’ But Giles and his fellow climbers will not be taking Brownlee with them up Everest. ‘He’s not coming with us, even in our heads,’ says Giles. ‘It is finally time for us to move on. That part of our lives is over, at last.’ To donate to the survivors’ Everest climb go to justgiving.com/team/uprising Anyone who has experienced abuse at any other school can contact the Edinburgh Academy survivors group for support at easurvivors.info

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ANDREW NEIL: They’ve trashed the schools, the health service and the economy. Now the SNP are set to…

Under a new law which comes into force on -Monday, if you live in -Scotland you risk being charged with a ‘hate crime’ for something you say anywhere, including in your own home. Even your children will be able to report you to Police Scotland, which — from among its already over-stretched, -lacklustre ranks — will deploy 500 ‘hate crime -champions’ to bring the ‘haters’ to justice. Petty crime is pretty much ignored by the Scottish police these days, but its oh-so-woke-and-weak leadership vows to -investigate every hate incident, in keeping with its recent appetite for -acting as the McPlod enforcement wing of the SNP. Clearly scouring social media postings from a warm office is safer and more congenial than patrolling Glasgow’s -Sauchiehall Street on a Friday night when the pubs are emptying out. Those who think they’ve been slighted or ridiculed will be able to report it, -anonymously if they wish, to more than 400 new ‘reporting centres’ spread across the country, including one in a Glasgow sex shop (seriously) and a mushroom -farm (again, seriously). It will be enough that someone feels what you said was hateful; they don’t have to prove that it was. In other words, if I think what you said is a hate crime, it’s a hate crime. Even if the police decide what you said wasn’t quite hateful enough to merit being charged, you could still be logged, without your knowledge, in a police non-crime hate incident (NCHI) database, to which future prospective employers could request access. So your career could easily be stymied simply by the recording of a crime you didn’t commit. It is, I think you must admit, quite a clever way of ensuring that only ‘right-thinking’ (i.e. liberal-Left) folks are ever appointed or promoted, especially in Scotland’s bloated, well-paid public sector. Yes, I am aware that Monday is April 1. But, contrary to all appearances, this is no April Fool. Rather it is an all-too-real Orwellian nightmare with a -Scottish accent, brought to us by the same people who’ve trashed Scotland’s once world-class schools, made the Scottish health service unfit for purpose, turned Scotland into the drug-related death capital of the world and run the Scottish economy into the ground. What the SNP has already done to education, health and economic growth, it now plans to do to free speech — destroy it. It seems the more the SNP is incapable of delivering even the basics of good government — turning Scotland into a social and economic backwater in the -process — the more it insists in sticking its nose into areas of life where it has no business and no proper purpose. Its modus operandi after 17 wasted years in power — wasted chasing the pipe dream of -independence while making a hash of everything that improves the quality of life for ordinary Scots — is to give up on problems it’s incapable of solving and invent new, peripheral ones, such as the idea that Scotland is a cesspit of hatred. The new Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Act 2021 is entirely unnecessary — the -product of a collectivist political culture which thinks government has the right, nay the duty, to intrude into every aspect of life. Scotland already has laws which deal with hate speech and -threatening or abusive behaviour, which is only right. But from -Monday, the offence of stirring up hatred will be explicitly extended to disability, religion, sexual -orientation, age and, of course, transgender identification. It is the equivalent of a modern, -secular blasphemy law for the wokerati. Joanna Cherry KC, an astute SNP MP, who has fallen out with her party establishment, warns it will be weaponised by trans-rights activists to silence and even criminalise their critics. It’s already happening. The redoubtable J.K. Rowling, in the vanguard of defending feminist rights against the trans onslaught, has already been warned by -activist lawyers that many of her previous tweets ‘most likely -contravene the new law’ and she should ‘start deleting’ them. Of course, she will do no such thing. Just how much free speech will be curtailed depends on how the police implement the new law. There are no grounds for -optimism. It was passed in 2021, but delayed from becoming law for three years to work out how it could be implemented (there’s a definition of bad legislation, if ever there was one). Police guidance has not been made public. All we know is that, after three years, there’s only a two-hour online course for -officers which the Scottish Police Federation has said is ‘not fit for purpose’ and a ‘recipe for disaster’. The Association of Scottish Police Superintendents, which represents many of the country’s most senior police officers, warns that an ‘activist fringe’ will ‘weaponise’ (that word again) the new law to advance their agendas and that Police Scotland will be ‘swamped’ by spurious claims. The police in England have been wisely advised to ignore -tedious Twitter spats. No such guidance has been given to the Scottish police. The English High Court ruled in 2021 that the approach to hate speech that will be the law of the land in Scotland from Monday would have a ‘chilling effect on freedom of expression’. The -Scottish courts, often in thrall to the SNP, have had nothing to say. But actors and playwrights have been warned by the police that ‘performing a play’ could constitute a breach of the law if it contained hate speech; and -novelist Val McDermid, hitherto a Nicola -Sturgeon cheerleader (like most of Scotland’s pseudo–cultural class), has warned the new law could even cover what fictitious -characters in a book say. The Edinburgh Festival may soon have to consider moving to Berwick. The new law will unleash whole platoons of the zealous woke, who will patrol social media with the sole purpose of finding -something hateful about which they can then rush to complain to one of these 400 reporting centres. Innocent people could find themselves facing criminal charges for merely expressing an honest opinion. Scots women have already been arrested for putting up stickers calling for -single-sex prisons. A Tory member of the Scottish parliament discovered he had been logged (secretly) on the police database for a ‘hate -incident’ just for questioning -gender self-identification. His anonymous accuser turned out to be a trans activist. A country which has already been turned into a grievance-mongering machine by the SNP (it’s always Westminster’s fault, even the rain and midges) will be fertile territory for what’s being designated a Clype’s Charter (‘clype’ being a good Scots word for snitch). Mark carefully the words of what constitutes a hate crime: ‘any crime which is perceived by the victim or any other person to be motivated, wholly or in part, by malice, ill will or prejudice towards a person or social group’. Hard to think of a more -comprehensive definition of a Clype’s Charter. Scotland’s first minister, the hapless Humza Yousaf, is fully complicit in all this. He has just -finished his first year in office. His only distinction, so far, is to be the only SNP first minister not to have been arrested. He was justice minister when Sturgeon put her weight behind a new hate crime law. He remains committed to it, claiming (wrongly) that there is a high bar before anyone can be prosecuted, when it seems that words need only be ‘painful’ to the ‘victim’ for people to be charged, not just ‘hateful’. He also promised to lead a wide consultation process before implementation. Instead, he retreated to his Bute House bunker. No wonder there is a growing mood even in the SNP to dump him. But the damage has already been done. It is a tragedy of -historic proportions for Scotland. In the second half of the 18th -century — when new ideas of -freedom, democracy and human rights were taking root across Europe and the American -colonies — -Scotland was the crucible of the British Enlightenment. Oxford and Cambridge were then intellectual backwaters, while the universities of Glasgow (Adam Smith) and Edinburgh (David Hume) led the way in spearheading Britain’s contribution to the new Age of Enlightenment. On Monday, Scotland enters a new Dark Age. It is entirely unnecessary and wholly self-inflicted. It will add intellectual decline to the country’s social and economic decline, which are gathering pace. It will not be easily reversed. The Labour Party, which looks set to replace the SNP as the dominant party in both Holyrood and Westminster, voted for the SNP’s new hate crime laws. Both are part of a lumpen -collectivist consensus which has dominated Scottish politics for decades. Scots will have only themselves to blame for their country’s continued decline towards irrelevance as long as they continue to vote in such large numbers for these -censorious clowns.

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STEPHEN GLOVER: The Church of England’s gone stark, raving bonkers. If it persists in telling white…

Readers of Private Eye will remember the magazine’s fictional vicar, the Rev J. C. Flannel. He is a worldly, waffley, wishy-washy sort of fellow. Flannel steers clear of religious conviction. He is the kind of bland clergyman who likes to blather on about TV soap operas in order to seem relevant. The Rev J. C. Flannel has been overtaken by history. He would be out of place in the modern Church of England. For one thing he is male and white, which would put him at a disadvantage in some quarters. More important, I doubt that Flannel could get to grips with the craving for ‘racial justice’ born of ‘critical race theory’ that obsesses so many Anglican bishops and -senior clergy. I know the Church of England pretty well. My father was a priest, as were two uncles. Two of my brothers-in-law were bishops, and a third a canon. A nephew is a vicar. I can say with confidence that the Church whose ways I have observed, and in which I have worshipped, is one of the least racist institutions in our country. However, the folk who run the C of E think differently. For many of them -racism is ‘embedded’ — this is a key, often-used word in critical race theory — in our national Church, and must be rooted out. They would doubtless say that, if I don’t discern endemic racism in the Church, it is because I am a white, relatively privileged person. Racism is buried so deep that you can’t necessarily see it. It is cause for shame and, if I and people like me can’t appreciate this truth, it is because we are fundamentally racist. Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, has proclaimed that the Church of England is ‘deeply institutionally racist’ and called for ‘radical and decisive’ action. This has entailed setting up a -Commission for Racial Justice, and the appointment of a ‘racial justice directorate’. The belief that the Church is -profoundly racist is widespread in higher ecclesiastical circles. -Anyone who doesn’t share it would be well-advised to keep quiet if interested in promotion. When he was a black ordinand, Calvin -Robinson was told by Sarah Mullally, Bishop of London: ‘As a white woman I can tell you that the Church is -institutionally racist.’ He didn’t agree. Robinson subsequently left the C of E, and is now a priest in another denomination. This past week — Holy Week, when Christians recall the Passion and Crucifixion of Christ — wondrous storms have raged that have made me seriously wonder whether the Church of England has gone stark, raving bonkers. Miranda Threlfall-Holmes, who is white and Archdeacon of Liverpool, declared on social media: ‘Let’s have anti-whiteness, and let’s smash the patriarchy.’ An archdeacon is one rung below a bishop in the ecclesiastical hierarchy and, although she may sound like a demented adolescent, Dr Threlfall-Holmes has resided on this earth for 50 years. Unsurprisingly, some people were dismayed by her unsolicited eruption. She partly backtracked, assuring us that ‘whiteness does not refer to skin colour per se but to a way of viewing the world where being white is seen as normal and everything else is considered different or lesser’. This is unlikely to reassure many white people. In view of Dr Threlfall-Holmes’s right-on opinions about the historical burdens of whiteness, I’ve little doubt she will soon be made a bishop. Not to be outdone in this spate of Merseyside madness, the Rector of Liverpool, Canon Crispin Pailing, this week decided to resign. He told his congregation that he could ‘no longer, in good conscience’ represent a Church which ‘perpetuates bias and discrimination against sections of society’. Dr Threlfall-Holmes’s somersaults followed some unconvincing cartwheels performed by the Archbishop of Canterbury in an interview with Times Radio. Justin Welby was asked about the Diocese of Birmingham’s recent advertisement for an Anti-Racism Practice Officer (Deconstructing Whiteness)’ to work in an 11-strong ‘racial justice’ team. This post is entirely consistent with Dr Welby’s -misguided programme to stamp out imagined racism in the C of E. And yet, confronted with the absurd advert, the Archbishop became giggly and disowned it. He said it sounded like the BBC management lingo used in the satirical sitcom W1A. This was disingenuous, partly because Dr Welby has -zealously promoted ‘racism officers’, and partly because he is himself no stranger to impenetrable, bureaucratic language. The Commission for Racial Justice he set up was evidently not intended to be balanced, fair and proportionate. Seven of its 12 members are non-white, including its chairman, former Labour Cabinet -Minister Lord Boateng. The Commission produces periodic reports whose effect is to engender guilt in white -members of the Church -of England. Having examined the biographies of its members, I think it probable that almost none of them could be described as even remotely Tory. Several of them haven’t tried to conceal their disdain, even dislike, for traditionalists, and have tweeted or retweeted remarks on social media that are both Left-wing and lacking in Christian charity. For example, Professor Duncan Morrow, who is white, has laid into the Tories more than once. ‘When this round of Conservatives finally allow the UK population to choose their successors, they will be remembered for austerity, Brexit and Covid parties.’ Another member — Anthony Reddie, who is professor of black theology at Oxford -University, and himself black — has retweeted posts criticising Margaret Thatcher, Nigel Lawson and Rishi Sunak. He has written a book which he describes, in terms straight out of the critical race theory playbook, as ‘a black theology take on decolonising knowledge’. Reddie also hates the upper classes: ‘There’s a reason why no one likes the English upper classes. Anyone who honestly believes that colonialism was benign and for the good of the colonised is either a fool or something unspeakable.’ If I ever find myself warming to Justin Welby, I’ll remember how he sanctioned a Commission for Racial Justice that appears to be both biased and viscerally opposed to the values of many members of the Church of England, let alone huge swathes of the wider population. Why has the Church become gripped by the secular, American-bred critical race theory to such an extent that, under Dr Welby’s leadership, it is effectively renouncing its past achievements, and lashing itself for its present supposed shortcomings? I believe it is being gradually taken over by people for whom God comes second, and sometimes distantly so, to fashionable, Left-wing political theories. I also believe that if it continues along this path the C of E will condemn itself to certain extinction as our national Church. This may not take long. The Church of England’s wrong-headed obsession with racial justice is putting it at odds with some members of its dwindling congregations, as well as with many in wider society for whom the Church seems increasingly irrelevant. Take the issue of slavery reparations. Earlier this month, a body called the Oversight Group — an off-shoot of Dr Welby’s Commission for Racial -Justice — recommended that the Church of England should pay £1 billion in reparations to atone for its historic links to the slave trade. Previously it had pledged £100 million. The Oversight Group is chaired by the Barbados-born Bishop of Croydon, Rosemarie Mallett, whose background is that of an academic sociologist. She signs up wholeheartedly to the racial justice agenda. In an interview last year, she asserted that ‘racism — this binary of black and white — was born out of slavery’. She also claimed that the ‘Church [has] walked together with colonialism, imperialism, chattel slavery’. No mention of the devout Anglican, William Wilberforce, who with fellow Christians successfully campaigned for the abolition of slavery in the British Empire, which took place in 1833. Slavery was an unconscionable evil, and I am appalled that the Church of England should have briefly benefited from it 300 years ago. But raising £1 billion isn’t going to undo what happened. The C of E could spend that amount of money to far greater effect on existing challenges. I can’t, of course, see into Dr -Mallett’s mind. But I believe that many who advocate reparations are not so much interested in -restitution as in weighing down white churchgoers with perpetual guilt from which they will never be freed. That is an essential -component of critical race theory. White responsibility for slavery can’t be expunged. It is forever ‘embedded’. That word again. Last month, the Jamaican-born Rose Hudson-Wilkin, Bishop of Dover, told the General Synod that the Church needed to ‘further embed racial justice’ and shouldn’t be afraid of being called ‘woke’. The Church’s racial preoccupations are also evident in its attitude towards asylum seekers. Anyone can have reasonable doubts about the workability of the Government’s Rwanda scheme. I certainly do. But the bishops have consistently championed the interests of mostly non-white illegal immigrants over those of white and black people who live in this country and are sorely pressed by crumbling -infrastructure and a lack of affordable housing. The failure of the bishops to come up with a plausible alternative scheme to stem the flow of illegal immigrants suggests to me that they aren’t really interested in doing anything about it. The C of E hierarchy has also demonstrated a near total indifference to well-documented stories about Anglican priests offering conversion to Muslim asylum seekers who are insincere. In some cases immigrants invoke their newly acquired religion to prevent their being returned to countries where Christians are persecuted. Immigration files published this week show that convicted sex offender Abdul Ezedi was granted asylum after claiming to have converted to Christianity. His application was backed by a Baptist — not Anglican — minister. Ezedi, who threw himself into the Thames after attacking a woman and her two daughters with a -corrosive substance in January, was given a Muslim burial earlier this month. The extent to which Anglican priests are involved in such conversion scams is unclear. Former Home Secretary Suella Braverman may have exaggerated when accusing the Church of ‘facilitating industrial-scale bogus asylum claims’. But there is surely a case to answer. Not as far as the C of E is concerned. The Iranian-born Bishop of Chelmsford, Guli Francis-Dehqani, has dismissed Mrs Braverman’s concerns in her role as the Church’s ‘lead bishop’ on immigration. She denied that the Church had ever enabled bogus conversions. Dr Francis-Dehqani has described the Government’s Rwanda scheme as ‘immoral’. It is of course the duty of the Church to care, as Christ did, for those who are poor or persecuted. Almost all Christians would agree with this. That is not the issue. The issue is whether white churchgoers — and white society in general — should be made to feel guilty for the sins of their -distant ancestors and their own ‘embedded’ racism. This is what is demanded by powerful activists, who I believe are driven by motives that are more secular than religious. Many devout priests are alarmed by these developments. One of them recently pointed out to me a letter in the Church Times by an Indian-born Anglican vicar. It argued that white bishops, deans and archdeacons should stand aside in favour of people of ‘global majority heritage’ like him. That sounds to me like racism. Tomorrow is the greatest day in the Christian year. Like many others, though a diminishing number, I shall go to church. I’m happy to say that the Rev J. C. Flannel won’t be present. Nor will there be any mention of ‘racial justice’. But I know that behind the scenes in my church — our national Church — there are many working away, intent on making us feel perpetual shame for the sins of the long dead, and trying to shape what would be a very bleak future.

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Why Geri’s pool plans have sent some locals off the deep end! The Horners try to keep villagers…

There are fewer than 200 residents in this picturesque parish in rural Northamptonshire, where the gardens of thatched cottages are blooming with spring snowdrops and primroses. There is no pub, no shop, no village Post Office; just a winding country road along which you’ll meet an occasional local walking their dog or riding their horse. If you’re really lucky (a sentiment not every villager shares), you might come across the parish’s very own celebrity: the former Spice Girl Geri Halliwell, who keeps 14 horses at her sprawling farmhouse in the village. Geri, 51, and her husband Christian Horner, 50, the boss of the Red Bull Formula 1 team, own a Grade II-listed former vicarage worth £1.6 million in this idyllic spot, and have been splitting their time between this property, a home in North London and another pile in Hertfordshire for almost a decade. Christian bought it in the 2000s and today it’s a country retreat for their blended -family: he, Geri, their seven-year-old son, Monty, Christian’s daughter Olivia, ten, and Geri’s daughter Bluebell, 18. The singer’s social media portrays an -enviably wholesome and bucolic family life here: Geri is pictured tending to the horses, goats and donkeys; cuddling her chickens; knocking up a peach crumble in the Aga; and even honing her skills on a vintage -sewing machine. But beyond the wrought-iron gates and stone walls that protect the property from prying eyes, it’s a somewhat different story. Not only has the couple’s marriage been under intense scrutiny after a tumultuous few months in which Christian was accused — and subsequently cleared — of ‘inappropriate behaviour’ towards a female employee (who is appealing the decision), but now a spat with their neighbours is threatening to blight their tranquil country existence. At the root of it all is a planning application, in which the pair propose to build an outdoor swimming pool — 40ft by 16ft, with a deep end of 6ft — in the grounds of their country home, along with a fountain, -decorative topiary and surrounding sun-loungers. The plans, drawn up by Oxford-based Riach Architects, went under the radar when they were lodged on January 2, days after Christian had been named in the New Year Honours List for services to motor sport. They were accompanied by -letters of support from the parish council and conservation office. But a series of strongly worded objections from irate neighbours has since appeared on the local council website, suggesting that not everyone is quite so content for the Horners’ lavish plans to go ahead. The main bone of contention is the location of the proposed pool, which would be just over the boundary wall and directly across the road from the 13th-century church and graveyard. ‘It would be the height of -disrespect to be standing in the churchyard during an – internment, to be distracted by screaming, shouting and splashing from a short distance away,’ writes one objector. ‘This is a tiny but particularly beautiful village in a rural -community with its own cricket team. I request that the peace of the area is preserved as it is now, so that locals and visitors can -continue to enjoy a village that they chose for its beauty and peacefulness.’ Another angry neighbour writes: ‘This end of the village is a -conservation area and buildings are listed. It has historically been a peaceful and quiet part of the village.’ This local also objects to the installation of a red telephone box, which the Horners reportedly had winched into their -garden last year. ‘[It is] visible over the wall and can be seen from the road,’ the complaint reads. ‘It is out of place and its colour does not fail to catch the eye.’ Of course, some will regard all this as ocean-going Nimbyism and mean-spirited nit-picking. But village gossip is a virulent thing and there is little else on the lips of locals this week. After all, it is not often that controversy comes to roost in this serene spot — far less one that makes national headlines. Though their names have been redacted on the council website, the Mail tracked down one of the objectors to the Horners’ swimming pool plan and spoke to them at their home. ‘They do whatever they like,’ the villager (who didn’t want to be named) says of Geri and her husband, whom she married in 2015. ‘They replaced a lean-to with a giant greenhouse and now they want a swimming pool on the other side of the wall. ‘They have so much land where they could put it, but they chose to put it as close to their -neighbours and the church as they could go. There will be noise pollution from the pump to heat the pool and noise pollution from people jumping in and out, [as well as] children screaming. We don’t want that. ‘When everyone else in the village has plans to float, they have to put up a notice [outside the -property] announcing their intention and keep it up for six weeks. ‘I have not seen the Horners do that. We actually found the planning officer doing this for them — sticking the notice about the swimming pool to a telegraph pole.’ One might think that Geri and Christian would be adept at navigating the planning process by now. After all, Christian has made no fewer than 38 planning applications for the property and its gardens since 2007, including building a tennis court, an orangery and indoor s-wimming pool. Since Geri moved in, there have been another five. In 17 years, only one — an application to build a dry-stone wall in place of a fence — has been refused. The neighbour whom the Mail spoke to this week alleges there is ‘favouritism’ being shown by the council towards the celebrity couple. ‘I rang up the planning officer who happened to tell me he was a petrolhead and a massive fan of Formula 1,’ they said. ‘We know people in the village who have made small alterations to their gardens and had to jump through hoops to get approval from the council. ‘In some cases it takes 18 months, but when the Horners do anything it is waved through in a matter of weeks, even if it is retrospective approval.’ The villager insists they used to have a good relationship with Geri and Christian, but things have soured due to the couple’s -‘disrespect’ of the area. When the family are in -residence (for weeks at a time, mostly during school holidays), there are often large gatherings which have rubbed some locals up the wrong way. There was an opulent party for Geri’s 50th birthday in 2022, and the couple host one to mark the British Grand Prix every year — after all, Silverstone is not too far away. Others report seeing helicopters landing on or near the -property. In 2022, the couple enjoyed a ‘date night’ helicopter flight to Glastonbury Festival. Though they may not live there permanently, their presence seems hard to miss. ‘They have floodlights on every corner of the house and it -obliterates the night sky,’ one neighbour complains. ‘It’s like Colditz. ‘As a keen astronomer, I can tell you there are no stars to be seen when they are at home.’ Not everyone feels quite so hostile towards their starriest residents, however. Indeed, amid a chorus of -birdsong and the distant hum of mowers on a spring afternoon in the village this week, there were plenty of residents willing to voice their support — and give their names to the Mail. Ina Fox, 45, a brand strategist who lives down the road from the Horners, says the complainants are simply ‘jealous’. ‘If they want to improve their home and make it better and build something to give them pleasure, then what is the -problem?’ she asks. ‘They are preserving an old building and adding to it for future generations. ‘I have been in the village for six years and I don’t know if there has been a funeral in that time, so the chances of their swimming pool disrupting one seems very slim to me.’ Neighbour Camilla Arthur, 60, agrees. ‘I have found them to be very friendly,’ she says. ‘I’ve been round for supper. They are absolutely lovely. I can’t believe anyone has complained. It’s not like they are proposing a 50-metre pool that will be seen from far and wide. No one will know this is there. ‘And this is Britain — there will probably be only five days in the year when you’d want to use an outdoor pool.’ Another neighbour, a 41-year-old woman who didn’t want to be named, describes Geri and Christian as ‘simply the best neighbours that you could wish to have’. ‘They are very thoughtful -people,’ she adds. ‘They turn up at all the village celebrations and show their faces — they don’t have to do that. ‘When they do throw parties, they give hampers from – Fortnum & Mason to all the near neighbours to compensate for any noise.’ A resident of a Jacobean -mansion on the other side of the church, owned by descendants of the Duke of Wellington, brands the planning objections ‘absolute nonsense’. ‘There are four other outdoor swimming pools in the village, and ours is only 20 yards from the church door — even closer than the Horners’,’ he says. ‘My children play in it every day in the summer and we’ve never had any issue with noise.’ Of his famous neighbours, he insists: ‘I have never heard a bad word from anyone in the village about them. This is their second home . . . they are good, community people and very friendly.’ But this isn’t the first time Geri and Christian have found themselves on the wrong side of some locals as they renovate their house — something Christian has described as his ‘hobby’. In 2022, they made headlines after they built a barn for Geri’s horses, for which the council granted part-retrospective -planning permission — despite, villagers alleged, staunch -opposition. The barn, which replaced a previous structure, was described in letters of complaint to the council as ‘hideous’ and was said to obstruct mobile phone signals in the area. Neighbours claimed the couple had re-routed public footpaths to suit their needs, installed gates that were out of keeping with the approved style, and described their horses as ‘a -menace on the footpaths to the public’. Then, as now, the council was accused of showing ‘favouritism’ towards the Horners. One resident asked, in a letter of complaint: ‘What is it with this council — do they cave in to the rich because they don’t have money to fight them in court?’ Another said: ‘Don’t the -council care of the favouritism being shown to the wealthy here? Unacceptable.’ The former Ginger Spice is not unfamiliar with these sorts of accusations. In 2007, before she met Christian, she had a fallout with residents of her leafy London street after building a 12ft brick wall around her £4 million house. She had planning permission for the structure, but locals were up in arms, describing it as a ‘monstrosity’ that made her house ‘look like a prison’. Perhaps, having been through all this before, planning -objections — and the accompanying local furore — are just water under the bridge. After all, having a celebrity couple, with a reported joint fortune of £50 million, among your inhabitants can be no bad thing for a small parish like this. Villager numbers have fallen by 10 per cent since the 2001 census — and there’s no draw like that of an A-lister in residence, particularly one prepared to spend, spend, spend. There are no costs listed in the latest plans, but the average fee for building an outdoor swimming pool is up to £150,000 — surely a boon for local trade and construction companies. The overseeing council said it was unable to make detailed comments on an ongoing -application, but that all relevant factors would be considered before making a decision. A spokesperson added: ‘All planning applications are assessed and determined on their own merits in line with local planning policy.’ Riach Architects did not respond to requests for comment, nor did representatives of Geri or Christian Horner. To date, they have not spoken about the plans. With the gates of the Horner house firmly shut this week, the couple did not appear to be at home — although with the Easter holidays now in full swing, they may yet make an appearance. If they do drop by, locals will be eagerly awaiting an update on the swimming pool furore — and perhaps a delivery of one of those posh hampers to make up for all the fuss.

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What a dramatic comeback by cheating Kyle!  England ace was kicked out by his wife Annie after…

There was a sudden flurry of WhatsApp messages doing the rounds in Cheshire WAG-land a few weeks ago. Blinged-up iPhone 15s were pinging non-stop through the well-heeled villages which are home to numerous footballers’ wives and their friends. The reason for the excitement? There was a new instalment in the Kyle Walker love -triangle saga that has had the UK gripped for most of this year. It appeared the Manchester City and now England captain — and notorious Lothario — Kyle Walker had pulled off yet another -dramatic save with his long-suffering and pregnant wife, Annie Kilner, prepared to give him yet another chance. Her humiliation had been the talk of the town after it was revealed earlier this year that Walker, 33, had fathered not one, but two children with model and influencer -Lauryn Goodman. When the news broke, Annie unceremoniously kicked him out of the -family’s sprawling, £3.5 milion Prestbury -mansion. Now it’s being widely speculated that Annie, who is due to give birth to their fourth child any day, has agreed to try and rescue their marriage. As any pregnant woman will know, giving birth without your baby’s father at your side is a daunting prospect. While Annie declined to comment on her relationship with Kyle, sources close to her said that they are ‘delightfully happy as a -family unit’. The couple are also ‘so excited and looking forward to the birth of their fourth child’. And Annie was at the England game last Saturday where her three sons joined Kyle on the pitch at Wembley. For three months Walker had been banished to a nearby apartment where he was licking his wounds and desperately trying to win back Annie, his teenage sweetheart, whom he met in their home city, Sheffield, when she was 15 and he 17. It was a battle that neither he nor his friends thought he would — or could — win. But time, albeit just a few months, is a big healer, it seems. ‘The longer it all went on, it was becoming increasingly likely that Annie was going to take him back,’ a source close to the scenario tells me. ‘You could tell that Annie was edging towards having him back. Of course at the beginning she was absolutely bloody furious and she kicked him out. The deceit broke her. ‘But seriously, we hoped that she would stay strong and not give in to him but you can’t force somebody to wake up. It’s the same old story, once again.’ Meanwhile, Kyle is said to be both jubilant and relieved. For as well as having his cosy family set-up back on track, he looks increasingly likely to now avoid a costly divorce (he’s said to earn £160,000 a week) — something he was thought to have been dreading. In fact, friends say he has been boasting that he has won Annie back, even telling his footballing -circle that he has got her ‘fully back’. There had been hints at a reconciliation. On March 4, Annie returned to Manchester City’s -Etihad Stadium, where she’d cheered her husband on during home games for the past five years. She was joined by her sons, Roman, 11, Riaan, seven, and five-year-old Reign, who watched their dad’s team beat Manchester United 3-1. For Annie, it was a big deal. She was one of the most high-profile WAGs at the club and to be back there, knowing that her marriage had been talked about, could not have been easy. One friend said: ‘It was an -important step for Annie. So much has happened in the past three months, so for her to do that was pretty brave.’ Indeed, the past 12 weeks have been a devastating whirlwind. The Kyle/Annie/Lauryn triangle has had so many twists and turns that even those watching closely have struggled to keep up. While footballers are hardly known for their fidelity, Kyle Walker’s -history of being caught offside is extraordinary. It all began in 2020, when Lauryn, who’s known Walker since 2009, gave birth to her son, Kairo, and named him as the father. Walker moved out of the family home to rental accommodation in nearby Hale before Annie agreed to take him back, on the condition that he sever all contact with Lauryn bar his ongoing financial commitments. But Annie’s life almost became more difficult in August 2022 when Lauryn revealed she was planning to relocate closer to Cheshire with her son, so that he could be nearer to his father. The footballer explained how he’d attended a meeting at a solicitor’s office to try to stop the move, which was when he met his son for the first time. Although Lauryn didn’t relocate to Cheshire, the couple resumed contact and Walker bought her a lavish £2.4 million house in an upmarket area of Hove, East Sussex. However, things became a lot more complicated in early October 2022 when Kyle travelled to London for groin surgery and met up with -Lauryn. The date obviously went well, for weeks later she announced she was pregnant again, but didn’t specify who the father was. With the rumour mill grinding, on December 27 last year Lauryn -messaged Annie directly to confirm that Walker was, indeed, the father of her second child. Until then, Kyle had kept his -mistress’s pregnancy a secret from his wife and has said it was Annie’s own pregnancy which was ‘the straw that broke the camel’s back’. The saga even forced Kyle to do a ‘mea culpa’ interview in which he spoke of his ‘idiot choices and idiot decisions’ over his secret children and said he bitterly regrets betraying ‘soulmate’ wife Annie. He said in January: ‘What I’ve done is horrible and I take full responsibility. I can’t begin to imagine what Annie is going through. I’ve tried to ask her but there’s pain and hurt. ‘The man that’s meant to love, care and be there for her … did this. ‘The only person to blame is me. I have roles and responsibilities that I’m aware of and I’ve made -stupid choices. But I need to own up to my mistakes — I owe it to everyone.’ Lauryn was, predictably, furious hearing that Walker appeared to be dismissing her and their -children as ‘mistakes’. In an interview with the Mail, she hit back at her ex, saying: ‘I can take it from strangers, but hearing that from their dad was unimaginably cruel. ‘They are my priority now. I am completely over fighting with Kyle, or his wife, but I will fight tooth and nail for those two for the rest of my life. It’s horrifying that our children will one day have access to those videos and words. I think he has forgotten how cruel the school playground can be. It breaks my heart.’ So with such a -turbulent, and -devastating, history seemingly behind them, will the Walkers be able to move on? Will the hostilities that have engulfed the young lives of all of the footballer’s -children ever end? Absolutely not, says a source familiar with the scandal. ‘Lauryn wants her children to be a big part of Kyle’s life,’ the source told me. ‘She wants her two to know their siblings and have a relationship with them. Lauryn doesn’t see why they can’t be one big family, but obviously for Annie that has all manner of difficulties. ‘And for Annie, it means that Lauryn will be in their lives for ever, which seems like a nightmare. ‘It’s tricky because it should be all about the children but when there is so much hurt involved in a situation it is hard. Very hard.’ Any hopes of a ceasefire were dismissed last weekend when, with Annie watching from the stands, Kyle walked their children on to the pitch at -Wembley for -England’s friendly against Brazil. For Kyle, it was a big moment. He was captaining the team for only the second time — and for the first time at Wembley — and the -significance was not lost on Lauryn. She was said to be hurt and angry that Kyle hadn’t chosen to include their son, along with his half-siblings, on the pitch. It prompted an outburst from her friends, who lambasted the footballer as ‘shameless’. The friend said: ‘Kyle knows exactly how to push Lauryn’s buttons, he’s been doing it for years. When they were together he would use all the same tricks and excuses to get what he wanted out of her — and denied responsibility for things that he did. ‘Kyle clearly knew he was goading Lauryn by doing that, he’s shameless, but she’s focused on her own children and has -exciting projects -coming up. ‘She doesn’t care to engage with the endless attempts to provoke a reaction out of her. Lauryn and Kyle know the truth, no matter what he tries to -re-write to enable him and Annie to play happy families in public. It’s a shame to see children wheeled out as part of a row between adults and his many infidelities.’ As for Annie, will she ever find it in herself to forgive and forget? After all, the couple have been together for all her adult life. She has previously described their early bond as ‘love at first sight’. But those who know her say that while she is keen for -Lauryn’s children not to suffer, for her they will always be a reminder of what Kyle has done. Some in her friendship circle have been desperate to see Annie move on and find a happy ending without him — she did previously date another man, Josh Cox, -during their last split in 2020. But friends say that Kyle knows exactly what to say to Annie and her family when the going gets tough. I’m told Kyle has used Annie’s loyal sister, Sian, as a ‘gateway’ to his wife, and she has been a big factor in winning her back. But sources say her softening to Kyle is likely to infuriate other family members, some of whom are said to be ‘utterly disgusted’ by the way she has been treated. Some have repeatedly urged Annie to ‘walk away for good’, saying a full separation is for the best for their children, with the insider adding: ‘She can’t let go. It’s like she doesn’t want anyone else to have him.’

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‘Paddy and I split two years ago but the children don’t know. They wouldn’t understand – and haven’t…

Two years have passed since the marriage of Christine McGuinness to her husband, TV presenter and comedian Paddy, fell apart. Their three young children are still completely unaware of this, however. Not that Christine is deliberately keeping the split — which has been widely reported — from them: being autistic, the children struggle to grasp the concept of relationships, so ‘would not understand’, she says. Besides, as far as twins Leo and Penelope, ten, and Felicity, seven, are concerned, nothing has actually changed. Their parents still live together at the family home in -Prestbury, Cheshire, and they’re still close, affectionate and very much a -committed unit. Which is exactly how Christine, who was also diagnosed as autistic as an adult, likes it. Her greatest ambition was always to keep her family together, she says. ‘I always wanted my children to have both parents involved, regardless of our situation, and I’m happy that that’s the way it is,’ she says. ‘They have a mummy and daddy around, who love and support them. ‘We want to share Christmases and holidays, so none of us misses out. And I think we’ve got enough mutual respect for each other to put our differences to one side. ‘One thing that we will always agree on is that we want the children to be impacted as little as possible. We chose to have these children together, regardless of what’s happened between us, and we will co-parent them for as long as they need.’ Exactly what brought about the end of their 11-year marriage is something Christine, 36, won’t discuss ‘for legal reasons’. But it can’t have been an easy decision. ‘Time is definitely a healer,’ is all she will say, fixing me with her huge brown eyes. ‘And I’m just very sure about my priorities: my children, my work and then me.’ Still, the McGuinness family set-up is one most couples, navigating the -acrimony which so often follows a break-up, would struggle to contemplate, especially if either was minded to date again. However, while Christine — a beauty with a figure the goddess Venus herself would covet at 5ft 10in tall and a size 8 — could surely never be short of potential suitors, she insists she has no interest in finding love again. ‘I’m pretty certain I’ll never marry again,’ she says, unequivocally. ‘I married once and thought I’d be married for life. It’s just not something I ever want to do again. ‘I don’t want to explore dating at the moment — I’ve never even seen a dating app — it doesn’t excite me at all.’ Christine was 19 and working as a model and dancer in Paris when a mutual friend introduced her to Paddy. He is almost 15 years her -senior and, at the time, was still living in his hometown, Bolton, and launching his career in stand-up comedy after appearing alongside -fellow comedian Peter Kay in his TV series, Phoenix Nights. Paddy later went on to present Top Gear and the -dating show Take Me Out. While neither of them has spoken publicly about the reasons for their split, Christine says Paddy is free to date whomever he chooses. ‘It’s -absolutely not my business any more what he does in his private life,’ she insists. But surely, given that they’re both still in the family home, Paddy dating might be a little, well, awkward? ‘I mean, obviously not under the same roof,’ she says, laughing. ‘But he’s free to date outside of the house. It’s his life. ‘If anything changes in either of our personal lives which might affect the children, or he wants to move on into a serious relationship and get his own place, then we would need to sit and talk about it again. But, right now, it’s working for us all.’ Paddy spends a lot of time working away, which may be one reason their unusual set-up is achievable. Over the past couple of years, -Christine, who presented a documentary last year called Unmasking My Autism, has taken on more TV work, including appearing in the latest series of BBC reality TV show Pilgrimage — as one of seven celebrities trekking along North Wales’s Pilgrim’s Way — as well as Channel 4’s Celebrity Hunted, in which ten high-profile -people try to avoid detection by former police and intelligence officers. She agreed to do the latter because one of her ‘closest friends’, Duncan James, member of the boy band Blue, was also a contestant. They first met on ITV’s Strictly The Real Full Monty, in 2022. Their friendship blossomed when Christine -confided in Duncan about her very recent (and, at the time, unknown to the public) autism diagnosis. Christine, who’s an ambassador for the National Autistic Society and a supporter of Caudwell Children, a charity which helps families access autism services, was diagnosed three years ago at the age of 33 while -making a documentary about her children’s condition. Autism is characterised by social and communication difficulties and sensory issues. Having struggled throughout her life to make friends, Christine hadn’t -realised that keeping in touch was essential to actually maintaining friendships. ‘Before my diagnosis I never understood why I struggled to make friends and to socialise. Now I get myself much more. I intentionally try to make friends — and stay in touch with them,’ she says. It was her relationship with Duncan that was also the inspiration for the second of her children’s books, The Magic Is You, The Magic Is Me, which is out now. She wrote the picture books to help raise awareness about autism and to help others who may struggle to understand classmates with the neurological condition. She’s batted away rumours in the past that she and Duncan were -anything more than friends: ‘He’s just a really good, kind person who reassures me when he sees I’m struggling in public. I’ve never had that in my life before,’ she says. ‘We presented an award at the -British Diversity Awards together last week and I was terrified beforehand. When I arrived, he said: “I’ve arranged a quiet room upstairs, just for us. And if you want to sit in the main room, I’ve made sure we’re at the front so there’s an easy exit and you’re not in the middle of the crowd.” ‘Then I was so scared going on stage — but I really wanted to do it, because the award was going to a business that supports autistic children. So Duncan read the majority of the script, and all I had to say was: “And the winner is…” ‘He’d thought of everything I might need and, to me, that’s a real friend; the kind of person I want in my life and wish I’d had growing up.’ Christine’s upbringing was challenging, to put it mildly, and a world away from the life she lives now. One of three siblings, she was raised on a council estate by a single mum who juggled three cleaning jobs to put food on the table. Christine was a baby when she crawled over one of the needles her father used to inject heroin, prompting her mum to flee the family home in Blackpool, taking Christine and her older sister back to her hometown of Liverpool. Growing up, Christine, a one-time Miss Liverpool, was lucky if she saw her father once a year, when she would go to stay with her grandparents in Blackpool. He remained addicted to heroin for 40 years and she has lost count of the number of times she dashed to his bedside, having been told he would die. Painfully accustomed to him abdicating his fatherly responsibilities, surely the worst, and most public, blow must have been his failure to turn up to walk her down the aisle on her wedding day, in 2011? ‘I wanted my dad to give me away because it was -tradition,’ she says now. ‘But, -actually, I’d got that far in life without him, so it was fitting that I walked down the aisle on my own.’ Hard though it is to imagine, Christine says she feels no bitterness towards him, insisting that she has always considered his addiction an illness, something beyond his control. In fact, only in the last year —spurred on, she thinks, by the death of his own parents — has her 62-year-old father managed to quit his drug use. And Christine could not be prouder, so much so she’s even considering allowing him to meet her children. ‘It has never happened before, not so much because he was a heroin addict, but more because my children struggle meeting new people,’ she says. ‘I only want them to have people in their lives who are actually going to be around regularly, and that was something he could never commit to because of his addiction. ‘I’m going to keep visiting him — making sure that he has stayed on the right track — and then, yeah, Dad meeting my children is definitely something that I’d like to happen.’ Traumatic experiences in her younger life (which Christine, having eschewed therapy, deals with ‘by looking forward, not back’) have made her fiercely protective of her own children, especially her daughters. Among them is the eating disorder, which started when she was eight and, she says, she’s only really just got a grip on, thanks to her increased understanding of herself post–diagnosis. ‘Autism is what led to me -having an eating disorder,’ she says. ‘I couldn’t, still can’t, stand “wet food” (anything with a sauce or gravy) in primary school, so I just wouldn’t eat. ‘Then, at secondary school, the canteen was a nightmare for me — having to queue up, all the noise and different smells, the people, not being sure where I was sitting — it was different every day. I just couldn’t cope with that environment. ‘It’s one of the first things I spoke to the headmaster at my children’s school about. I said: “I need you to reassure me they will be offered somewhere quieter and something they will eat.” And he was fine with that. ‘That was never an option for me. But then, nobody really knew about autism back then.’ Christine says she has her -children, who need her to be a strong advocate, to thank for turning her into the determined, capable woman she is today. ‘I couldn’t bear the thought of my children going through anything that I went through when I was younger,’ she says. ‘Because I’ve been there and understand it, I have no problem in going into school and saying: “This needs to change, I need you to do this and I want to see the school counsellor.” ’ The McGuinness children started school, aged four, only able to say four words: ‘Mummy’, ‘Daddy’, ‘please’ and ‘thank you’. Although their speech has improved considerably since, they still don’t chat like other children their age. ‘There is still quite a bit of delay, there,’ says Christine. But all three have one-to-one help in the classroom and are ahead of their years academically. And they have great conversations between the three of them.’ She is hugely relieved that they can all remain at the same school until they’re 18, avoiding the trauma of transitioning to -secondary school and all the change that would entail. Paddy has admitted publicly to struggling to come to terms with his children’s disabilities, and the realisation that they won’t ‘get better as the years go on’ — something he says contributed to him being diagnosed with clinical depression several years ago. And yet Christine, who has some -concerns about whether their children will be able to live -independently, have jobs and -relationships, has fewer worries. ‘In paediatric and therapy appointments the experts will talk about the kids only liking beige food and having sensory issues around noise and light, and I’ll think: “And?” ’ she says, laughing. ‘They’re so much like me, I’ve never pushed them to do or eat things they don’t like. ‘I’m also able to reassure them: “Mummy’s autistic as well, and has got friends, goes to work and enjoys her quiet time, too. You’re going to be fine.” ’ Still, parenting three autistic children — who can meltdown over being given the ‘wrong’ sort of bread or the battery on the laptop running out — is hard work. Christine will never forget the shock of another parent, witnessing her struggles, saying: ‘I bet you wish you didn’t have children.’ But, generous soul that she is, she puts this down to ignorance about autism, and it spurred her on to keep talking about it. ‘Yes, it’s challenging, difficult even, I’m not denying that,’ she says. But they are amazing, -magical children and I love them so much. They couldn’t be more wanted.’ In fact, while Christine understands how trying her life might look to an outsider, she goes a step further. ‘I wasn’t sure what I was here for, why I was existing, before -having my children,’ she says, her eyes tearing up. ‘I knew, growing up, that I wanted to be a mother, but never knew what else I wanted outside of that role. ‘I didn’t even know myself, before my diagnosis, which only came about because of my children. ‘Now I can confidently say that bringing up three brilliant, autistic kids, at the same time as raising awareness about the condition, is my purpose in life.’

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The £5 million will war! So who should get John and Joan’s fortune – his devoted daughter and…

By all accounts, the ‘slap-up’ tea held in the gardens of Grade II-listed Rodlease House in the New Forest was a relaxed and convivial affair. The handful of guests who tucked into chocolate cake on that March day almost exactly five years ago included a former Royal British Legion secretary, a senior adviser at American investment bank Morgan Stanley, a British Airways executive and wealthy elderly widow Joan Sutcliffe, whose late husband had been managing director of BP. Depending on whose account you believe, Joan’s last will and testament either was — or wasn’t — witnessed and signed in the midst of this jolly afternoon in Hampshire in 2019. In the wake of the 90-year-old former air hostess’s death in a care home a year later, that £5 million will — apparently a replacement for one she’d written in 2011 — has been branded a forgery and is now at the heart of an extraordinary legal row being played out at the High Court in London. On one side is Joan’s 68-year-old stepdaughter Bridget Spencer, who was stunned to find herself cast aside in favour of 70-year-old Mark Pidsley, a former leading light in the British Legion’s Lymington branch. He is said, in legal documents, to have become a ‘sudden presence’ during Joan’s twilight years, although he claims to have known her for 40. Mr Pidsley and his son David are named as both executors and trustees in the second, ‘poorly drafted’, will which, if ratified, will also give them control of almost all of Joan’s millions in the form of a discretionary trust. This includes a four-storey house in Putney, south-west London, and a quayside villa in Lymington, Hampshire. Mrs Sutcliffe also owned a holiday apartment in France. To cap it all, a couple said to have witnessed Joan’s will while taking tea on March 25, 2019, now claim they did no such thing. They also accuse Mr Pidsley of making up a letter, which they say he asked them to sign, featuring a flowery account supporting his version of events that day. A frightful state of affairs, and somewhat surprising given the pedigree of most of those involved in this unseemly fracas. Privately-educated Mr Pidsley, a former photographer whose garden backs on to Joan’s Lymington home, is descended from a family of highly-decorated Army officers. His grandfather was First World War hero Brigadier Wilfred Gould Pidsley, whose photographs hang in London’s National Portrait Gallery. Last year, Mark and wife Lesley Ann hosted the Lymington Society’s annual garden party at their home. While Joan had no children — nor any nephews and nieces — Bridget Spencer is the only surviving daughter of Joan’s late husband, BP managing director John Sutcliffe, who, as a Cambridge University undergraduate in the early 1940s, worked as a codebreaker at Bletchley Park. In the 1970s, he rubbed shoulders with world leaders while negotiating global crude oil prices across the Middle East and Africa. As if any further name-dropping were required in the telling of this colourful saga, the Mail has learnt this week that among witnesses prepared to give evidence in the case is Lady Isabel Courtenay, the wife of BAFTA-winning actor Sir Tom Courtenay. The couple were Joan Sutcliffe’s neighbours in Putney for more than half a century. Lady Isabel told the Mail this week that while she couldn’t say much because of the ongoing case, Joan was ‘very alone’ in her later years. ‘She always thought men were better than women in a way and knew more than them, so she trusted them too much,’ said Lady Isabel on the doorstep of her Victorian home. ‘She always listened to what they said and would believe it.’ Another of Joan’s former friends, who asked not to be named, added: ‘Inheritance and family relationships are always a tricky thing and Joan and Bridget did not always get on but I can’t believe that Joan would have wanted to leave this awful row as her legacy.’ Meanwhile, a Lymington source who has spoken to Mark Pidsley since the row over the will began, told this newspaper: ‘He says he is very upset by the case and that he’s done nothing wrong. ‘He and his son simply offered to be executors and trustees to help, without any intention of gaining anything. Joan just wanted some of her money to go to those who had supported her in Lymington.’ The roots of this acrimonious and costly legal quarrel lie, unsurprisingly, in complicated familial relationships criss-crossing back to the moment in the early 1970s when Croydon-born BOAC air hostess Joan Hayward clapped eyes on wealthy married oil executive John Sutcliffe on a transatlantic flight. Privately educated at Old Palace, a girls’ school in Croydon, Joan — known as Joanne to friends — joined BOAC (British Overseas Airways Corporation) in 1956, serving on Stratocruisers, Comets and 707s as one of the airline’s so-called Flighty Birds. She had previously worked as a translator at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg before returning to London to study French, drama and music at Goldsmith’s College. After joining BOAC she lived in Australia and Singapore before relocating, in 1964, to Santiago in Chile where she was put in charge of the firm’s South American air stewardess team. She met John Sutcliffe around a decade later. Their ensuing affair signalled the end of Mr Sutcliffe’s 35-year marriage to his wife Jean, a former driver at Bletchley Park. She had given up work to raise the couple’s two daughters, Jocelyn and Bridget, and moved around the world with her husband. After John and Joan married in 1979, they divided their time between Putney and their two other homes — the Victorian villa on the waterfront in Lymington where they owned a boat, and an apartment in Vence in the South of France. John kept in touch with his two daughters. Bridget, the youngest, was already married with children by the time her father remarried. Jocelyn, meanwhile, moved to Cyprus to work. Tragedy struck when Jocelyn died from a brain tumour in 2005. When John died two years later, in 2007, he left everything to Joan. One of his friends told the Mail this week that ‘John would have fully expected that one day, his money would go to Bridget and her three children as was laid out in the 2011 will. After working hard all his life he must be turning in his grave about everything that is going on’. Indeed, in the 2011 will, drawn up with a solicitor four years after John’s death, Joan left everything to former school bursar Bridget and her three children, aside from small amounts to friends and charities. But the 2019 will left nothing to Bridget, and just £2,000 each to her children Rebecca, 46, Victoria, 45 and Harry, 41. According to court documents, Joan’s family knew nothing of the will change. None of them has ever met Mr Pidsley. In court, Bridget’s barrister, Fay Collinson, said: ‘In around 2018, Joan began to experience forgetfulness. In late 2018, Bridget Spencer became concerned about the sudden presence of Mark Pidsley in Joan’s daily life. ‘Mrs Spencer learned from Joan that, whilst visiting Lymington, she experienced car trouble. Mark Pidsley, who lived nearby but with whom Joan has no previous substantive relationship or acquaintance, offered to drive Joan from Lymington to Putney. ‘Mark Pidsley, whom Joan had never mentioned to Mrs Spencer, friends or neighbours before, then proceeded to stay at Joan’s home in Putney for several days. He arranged repair of her car, took her to medical appointments and began considering her confidential paperwork.’ In legal documents, Bridget was said to have been so concerned that she contacted one of Joan’s oldest friends to ask if they had heard of Mr Pidsley and his wife. The friend, Carol Tilley, replied by email: ‘Goodness Bridget, this is not good. I have never heard of this person and it seems that Joan has become very vulnerable.’ Joan’s close friend and former BOAC colleague, 87-year-old Frances Falk, who spoke to the Mail this week, said she briefly encountered Mr Pidsley in 2019 and then again after Joan died in September 2020. ‘Mark Pidsley phoned me, maybe in 2019, going on about all the things he’d done for Joan and how he’d put her in some care home temporarily while he repaired her house and she was so happy there,’ said Frances at her home in Surrey. ‘Then he called me after she’d died and told me how he’d looked after her and how happy she was and how she would be buried next to her John and how she was peaceful and happy.’ She claims that Mr Pidsley got in touch with her again ‘some time later’ to hint that she was a beneficiary of Joan’s will. ‘He phoned me and said: “I’ll come and see you. You can have a bottle of champagne”. In the end, he didn’t come. He didn’t mention a sum of money but said: “The solicitor will be in touch with you. It will all be good news.” I just kept saying how sorry I was that she had died.’ Frances later discovered she had been left £1,000 in the 2019 will — a third of the £3,000 left to her under the 2011 will. She plans to give any amount she receives to charity but has heard nothing since. A Sutcliffe family source has told the Mail that Bridget did not learn of Joan’s death until after she had been buried in a woodland cemetery near Lymington. According to court documents, Bridget was unable to see an unredacted copy of the 2019 will until June 2021. The two witnesses who Mr Pidsley claims put their signatures to Joan’s will during afternoon tea in March 2019 are the owner of Rodlease House Simon Parker — a senior adviser at Morgan Stanley — and his partner Marie Jeanette Pollack, an executive trainer for British Airways. As well as denying they signed Joan’s 2019 will — and insisting they only put their signatures to a lasting power of attorney agreement between Joan and Mr Pidsley — court documents reveal another curious incident took place in July 2021, a month after Bridget got sight of the 2019 will. Mr Parker and Ms Pollack claim that an ‘agitated’ Mr Pidsley arrived at Rodlease House uninvited and asked them to sign what is referred to in court documents as ‘the July letter’. On reading it they realised it ‘contained a number of untruths’. Aside from the ‘fictitious letter’, they claim it was the first time they learnt of the 2019 will and were ‘alarmed to see that the final page bore what appeared to be their signatures’. The ‘July letter’, written by Mr Pidsley, read: ‘During the wonderful weather of March 2019, Simon and myself invited Joanne to the country estate in Boldre. We walked around the garden and then had a slap-up tea with [her] favourite chocolate cake. During tea, she explained to Simon and myself that she needed to sign her will and have two people witness her signing it. She asked if we could do this and we were very happy to, and did so after tea.’ Mr Parker and Ms Pollack refused to sign this ‘July letter’ and refute the version of events. Mr Pidsley, meanwhile, claims he drafted and wrote the letter following a conversation with Ms Pollack. He says their account is ‘contradictory, incorrect and inconsistent with the documentary evidence’. In court his barrister, Brie Stevens-Hoare KC accused Bridget of making ‘speculative, spurious allegations’ and said the ‘allegation of forgery and fraud’ against him would be refuted. The source in Lymington told the Mail: ‘The witnesses will have just forgotten what happened, maybe because there was a lot going on in their lives. Mark is confident the challenge to the 2019 will is going to be thrown out.’ In fact, given the case has been adjourned, this ugly row is likely to drag on for some time yet. It’s certainly hard to believe that no-nonsense Joan Sutcliffe would have wanted these legal shenanigans to be her legacy. ‘I’m so sorry that her passing has caused such a fracas,’ says her dear friend Frances. ‘I wish we could go back to how we were; young and happy and travelling around the world.’

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Arnold Schwarzenegger in high spirits after pacemaker op: ‘You won’t hear me complaining’

Camera IconJust like his terminator character, it looks like Arnold Schwarzenegger is now part machine after having a recent pacemaker operation. Credit: Instagram/Instagram Arnold Schwarzenegger in high spirits after pacemaker op: ‘You won’t hear me complaining’ Daily MailMarch 30, 2024 10:19AM Topics Share to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail UsCopy the Link

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