Harvey Weinstein: #MeToo monster looked every bit a broken man

And the Oscar goes to… Harvey Weinstein: #MeToo monster looked every bit a broken man as he shuffled into court, but he’s just as shameless and defiant as ever, writes TOM LEONARD

Shirt collar askew, ill-fitting suit and grey face a picture of misery and forbearance, Harvey Weinstein shuffled into a Manhattan court this week hunched over a walking frame.

Two tennis balls stuck on the rear feet of the frame, presumably for a smoother ride over the marble floor of the court house, added to the shambling and bizarre image.

It was in every sense a theatrical arrival — and nobody knows about theatre better than Weinstein the Showman.

But his legal team said their client was about to undergo surgery for a back injury and that it was they who insisted he use the frame against his objections.

‘Mr Weinstein didn’t want the Press thinking he was seeking sympathy. He’s in pain,’ said Donna Rotunno, one of his lawyers.

Film producer Harvey Weinstein arrives to New York Supreme Court in New York, U.S., on December 11

Given the once all-powerful Hollywood mogul’s unmatched skill for promoting his films such as Shakespeare In Love and The King’s Speech, and co-ordinating Oscar campaigns, Weinstein will perhaps forgive cynics for wondering whether he was up to his old tricks just a few weeks away from the start of his trial for serious sex offences. 

After all, it was only two months ago that the 67-year-old was spotted in seemingly far finer fettle, drinking mineral water in a Manhattan bar surrounded by a group of friends.

They were there for Actor’s Hour, a regular music and stand-up comedy event for aspiring young actors.

Considering Weinstein stands accused of preying on dozens of young actresses over the years, it seemed a spectacularly ill-judged place for him to pitch up, and he was publicly confronted over his presence by two women. However, they — rather than Weinstein — were the ones asked to leave.

It is two years since more than a dozen women first accused the then undisputed King of Tinsel Town of sexually harassing, assaulting or raping them. (A-listers Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie and Cate Blanchett later came forward to say they, too, were among his alleged victims.) 

Weinstein (pictured with Georgina Chapman at the 89th Annual Academy Awards in 2017) has denied five charges of rape, sexual assault, and ‘predatory sexual assault’

But Weinstein today is defiant, rather than penitent, as the final reel plays out in a legal drama that will either see him incarcerated for the rest of his life — or pull off a spectacular courtroom victory.

Weinstein, who denies any criminal wrongdoing, has denied five charges of rape, sexual assault, and ‘predatory sexual assault’.

He allegedly raped a woman in a New York hotel room in 2013, and forcibly performed oral sex on a second woman at his Manhattan flat in 2006. Other Weinstein accusers will be allowed to take the stand as witnesses to illustrate a pattern of abusive behaviour.

Given that it was Weinstein’s alleged offences that ignited the #MeToo movement globally, this trial — which starts on January 6 — promises to be the legal sensation of the decade.

Some feminist commentators are describing it as a groundbreaking moment in the battle for gender equality and against predatory men.

‘This moment was years in the making,’ said Tina Tchen, former First Lady Michelle Obama’s chief of staff and now the president of Time’s Up, which campaigns against sexual harassment.

The film producer Harvey (pictured outside New York court) allegedly raped a woman in a New York hotel room in 2013

This week it also emerged that Weinstein and the board of his bankrupt film company had reached a provisional $25 million (£19m) settlement with more than 30 actresses and former Weinstein staff who accuse him of sexual misconduct.

It was hardly the crushing victory and vindication the women had hoped for — as the anger of many at the announcement made clear — and not least because Weinstein will not have to admit wrongdoing, and the money will be paid out by his insurers.

Strategically, it leaves Weinstein free to concentrate on the more serious issue of his criminal trial, and the people in his small circle of contacts nowadays say he thinks of little else.

Repeated surgery on his injured back (sustained in August after crashing his car to avoid a deer) has left him weaker, while a reportedly healthier attitude to food and drink has resulted in a 25lb weight loss.

But he looks shrunken, is said to have high blood pressure and barely sleeps. A source described Weinstein as physically ‘breaking down’.

Emotionally, he’s also taken a battering after his wife, the British designer Georgina Chapman, left him in 2017 after ten years, taking their two children, daughter India, nine, and son Dashiell, six — although he sees them regularly.

However, friends say Weinstein is in other ways exactly the same — just as combative and determined as ever, even if this time his goal now is not to win Oscars, but to stay out of prison.

He reportedly spends most of his time alone in his Manhattan flat, ‘obsessing’ about the trial and his accusers, continually ‘Googling’ what’s written about him — and dreaming of a film career comeback.

‘He feels like he is owed an apology from Hollywood,’ a friend told broadcaster CNN recently. ‘I think there’s a part of him that thinks that he will come out on the other side of this and be welcomed back to some version of his old life.’

That would seem a fantasy for a man who is now an international pariah — although not so remote that some of his more than 80 accusers fear he may try to exact revenge on them.

It appears the egotistical Weinstein believes — or at least has convinced himself — that he’s guilty of no crime and that, if it hadn’t been for the MeToo Movement whipping up outrage about powerful male predators in Hollywood, he would still have a stellar career and a marriage. 

He argues that his accusers, who simply had affairs with him, just want to be famous.

Like many fallen titans whose power was based on fear, rather than charm or likeability, Weinstein — a notorious bully in his heyday — has found few rallying to his side. Lonely and isolated, he’s in touch only with a handful of old friends.

Most of his contact is with employees, several of whom have decided life is too short and the damage to their reputation too great to work for the demanding Weinstein.

As for his legal representatives, he has so far parted company with four lawyers, and is now down to a four-strong team.

Two of them are women, although a string of other prominent female lawyers reportedly turned Weinstein down. Even publicist Michael Sitrick, New York’s shadowy king of ‘crisis communications’ for various disgraced celebrities, dropped Weinstein last year.

Friends say Weinstein’s ‘biggest regret’ is the break-up of his marriage. He talks to his 43-year-old former wife Georgina only to discuss arrangements for the children.

She insists that she knew nothing of Weinstein’s infidelity and must also contend with the fact that his notoriety has crippled her fashion company, Marchesa.

Since last year Chapman has been living on a converted farm in Bedford Hills, an uber-wealthy suburban hamlet outside New York City where — despite a surplus of famous neighbours including billionaire George Soros, Donald Trump, Glenn Close and Ralph Lauren — she keeps a low profile.

Weinstein reportedly rents a small home nearby so he can be close to their children.

It’s unclear what properties, if any, he owns now — he began selling his various homes about six months before the allegations against him first emerged.

He made almost $56 million (£42m) from selling six properties — including a Manhattan office and homes in Connecticut, the Hamptons and West Hollywood — which his spokesman said he put towards his divorce and legal costs.

His lawyers have urged him to keep a low profile, but a restless Weinstein, who’s been accused of intentionally disabling the electronic ankle bracelet he has to wear to record his movements, has refused to completely retreat from public view.

In recent months, he has been spotted at various New York hotspots, including the glitzy restaurant Cipriani.

It was there in the summer that he attempted to befriend Alysha Marko, a 33-year-old art dealer.

She said he asked her to join him for dinner, and offered to lend her dresses from his wife’s collection. She declined but he called the following day to discuss buying one of her paintings. When she again said no, he turned up at the gallery and picked out a painting but later changed his mind.

So how does he spend his days? Weinstein talks to his lawyers, reads voraciously and gets through up to a dozen books a week, according to his spokesman.

He has ‘intense’ weekly therapy sessions and friends say that he is ‘trying to stay healthy’.

Does Weinstein feel any remorse over his treatment of women? Of course, he can hardly admit to feeling too regretful or he risks undermining his claim that his sexual activities were always consensual.

‘Remorse is the wrong word for it,’ his spokesman told the Mail. ‘He’s had a lot of self-reflection on the type of person he was and the way people reacted to him. He doesn’t like the fact that anybody felt hurt by him.’

That won’t stop his legal team doing their best to discredit his accusers at the trial. They’re expected to argue that the women knew the rules of the game in Hollywood — that sexual favours were traded for career breaks.

Successive Weinstein lawyers have chorused that he may have acted immorally by cheating on his wife, but he committed no crime.

They have amassed a trove of emails — some already made public — showing that some of his accusers remained very friendly with him after their alleged ordeal. (The women counter they were simply terrified of what he might do to destroy their careers).

This approach may well work, prominent U.S. defence lawyer Mark Geragos told me.

He suspects jurors will read the emails and conclude that this is just another instance of the notorious Hollywood casting couch and that ‘sex is the currency of the realm’ in Tinseltown.

Mr Geragos predicts that if this case falls, parallel investigations in London and Los Angeles into allegations against Weinstein will also collapse. ‘Harvey’s not unlike other powerful alpha males I’ve represented,’ said Mr Geragos. ‘They don’t just want to win, they want redemption.’

Might he also want revenge, too?

Katherine Kendall, one of the first actresses to accuse Weinstein, said many of his alleged victims worry the arch-manipulator will come after them if he’s acquitted.

‘People are scared of him for good reason,’ she told me. ‘He absolutely blocked people from having careers, he threatened people verbally and physically,’ she said.

Kendall, who claims Weinstein once chased her naked around his flat and tried to stop her leaving, said: ‘There’s a fear among the women I’ve talked to that he’s going to build a case against everyone, make up lies against people and start planning his comeback.’

An Italian model, who accuses him of sexual assault but who wants to maintain her anonymity, said: ‘He will never give up. Anyone else in his shoes would tread softly, but not him.’

‘He’s a vindictive type and will go after us. To ruin a reputation you could just go on the internet and hire trolls to do it. He’s shown he’s determined enough to do that.’

Should Weinstein win his court battle, friends and his lawyer, Donna Rotunno, say he wants to continue making films and possibly set up a production company in Europe. Sources say he believes — as was the case with director Roman Polanski, who built a successful career in Europe but faces arrest on child rape charges if he ever sets foot in the U.S. again — Europeans would be more tolerant of his alleged behaviour.

However, his spokesman insists Weinstein’s future priority will be to ‘make the world a better place’ — by setting up hospitals and promoting gender equality. He denied the theory Weinstein might move abroad, possibly to Italy, saying: ‘Above all else he’s got his family here and he lives for them.’

Of course Weinstein may find victory in court far easier than winning over public opinion. But, unbelievably, what once seemed inevitable — that Harvey Weinstein would be overwhelmed by the sheer weight of damning and disgusting accusations against him — now looks far from assured.

 

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How Tory young guns led a working class revolution that smashed the Red Walls of Labour heartlands – The Sun

A WORKING class revolution smashed the Red Wall of Labour heartlands and turned the North blue.

The Brexit backlash swept away generations of Labour rule and saw Tory young guns Dehenna Davison and Jacob Young lead the charge with stunning victories.


Delighted Dehenna, 25, became Bishop Auckland’s first Conservative MP since the seat was created in 1935 and won with a majority of nearly 8,000.

Now one the youngest MPs, she said: “It is a chance to shape a better Britain. This election was not about maintaining the status quo.

“It has been a vote for change to transform and unite our nation.” Few in the hard-up North East town yesterday were surprised by the result.

McDonald’s worker John Brown, 63, said: “Jeremy Corbyn is a clown. He and his party took us for granted.

“They assumed we would back Labour because we always have.” Hairdresser Juliet Metcalfe, 56, said: “For the last three years the will of the people has been blocked.

“People voted for Boris Johnson because he’s going to follow through with the result of the 2016 referendum.”

In the run-up to the election Dehenna spoke of the family tragedy that now guides her politics. She was just 13 when her dad Dominic was killed by a single blow to the head in the pub.

She recalled how she sat in a hospital waiting room as doctors battled in vain for 45 minutes to save him. She said: “I still picture it. I can tell you what the colour the walls were and everything.”

BREXIT BACKLASH

Sheffield-born Dehenna attended every day of the resulting murder trial — and the crushing not guilty verdict. She said: “It gave me a very clear sense of injustice. I grew up overnight.”

Paying tribute to her family after her win, she said: “I stand here today as a Conservative because of the values they instilled in me — hard work, aspiration and grasping every opportunity you get.”

Dehenna, known as Dee, worked in a computer game shop before studying politics at Hull University, then spending a year as an aide to Jacob Rees-Mogg.

In 2018 she appeared on Channel 4 show Bride and Prejudice as she prepared to marry 59-year-old hubby, councillor John Fareham.

In Redcar, near Middlesbrough, Jacob Young defeated Labour’s Anna Turley with a swing in votes of 15.5 per cent.

At 26, Jacob will join Dehenna as one of the new breed of MPs after smashing Ms Turley’s 9,485 majority and returning with his own of 3,527.

The ardent Brexiteer said: “People round here felt like they were ignored, felt like they weren’t listened to and that’s been borne in the result.” He told voters: “I’m listening. I want to know what I can do on your behalf.

“There’s a lot of things that we want to do here and, now that we’ve got a Conservative majority government, we can finally deliver some of them.”


Jacob had followed his dad and grandfather into the chemical industry, where he worked as a lead technician for a global petrochemical company.

He was an active part of the Leave campaign and in 2017 stunned Labour to become the first Tory to represent Coulby Newham on Middlesbrough council.

There was little sympathy for out-going Ms Turley. Single mum-of-three Rosalyn Rhodes, 39, runs a vape shop next door to her Labour office.

She said: “She refused to listen to us. That’s not how it works. It may have come as a huge shock to her and Labour. But don’t ever under-estimate the British people.”

Grandad Jed McMahon, 60, said: “Labour stuck two fingers up at 17.4million who voted to Leave. We have had three years of them saying. ‘We’re not doing this, we’re not doing that.’

“They ignored us, they wouldn’t listen. They forgot who put them there in the first place.”

A 19-year-old Tory voter, who did not want to be named, said: “Anna Turley voted against our Brexit vote 35 times. She decided she knew best.”

Elsewhere across the North, Tony Blair’s former constituency of Sedgefield became blue with local lad Paul Howell securing a 4,500 majority.

Outgoing Phil Wilson, like so many of his colleagues blamed Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. He said to suggest otherwise was “delusional”.

Blyth Valley, Northumberland, turned Tory for the first time. Retired managing director Keith Ritson said: “I never thought I would see a Tory win here. They didn’t use to count the Labour vote, they weighed them.”

Alex Stafford, 32, the first Tory to win in Rother Valley, South Yorks, said: “It shows there’s no such area as a safe Labour area.” Britain’s oldest MP Dennis Skinner, 87, lost his Bolsover seat to the Conservatives after 49 years as his vote share plunged by 16 points.

And in Nottinghamshire the Tories took Bassetlaw with a spectacular 18 per cent swing. Triumphant Brendan Clarke-Smith turned a 5,000 deficit into an 18,000 majority to end an unbroken run of Labour dominance stretching back to 1929.

He said: “In 2016, 68 per cent of people in this constituency voted to Leave and have waited a long time.”

Retired miner Herbert Chapman, 75, blamed Corbyn and his Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell. He said: “I have voted Labour all my life but I never will while those two c**** are in charge.

"Pardon my language but they are awful people. They have poisoned Labour.” Estate agent Gemima Parker, 19, blasted Corbynistas on social media.

She said: “His followers would pile in on anyone on Twitter if they disagreed with them. They were utterly vile.”

Former MP John Mann, who had held the seat since 2001, was a Leaver and a strident critic of Corbyn over anti-Semitism but took a peerage in October.

His replacement was due to be former councillor Sally Grimson, but her selection was blocked by Labour’s Momentum-dominated National Executive Committee who parachuted in their own candidate, Keir Morrison.

Baron Mann said “the Labour Party might as well not exist” if it does not learn lessons from its crushing defeat.


BLACK COUNTRY'S BLUE

THE Tories won ten of the 13 seats in the Black Country.

Dudley North elected its first Tory MP as Marco Longhi landed a stonking 11,000 majority.

Incumbent Ian Austin had quit Labour in February while blasting Mr Corbyn as “unfit to be PM”.

The two West Bromwich seats also went blue for the first time.

Tory Nicola Richards, 24, won in the East, overturning ex-Labour deputy leader Tom Watson’s 7,713 majority to win by 1,593.

In West Bromwich West, Shaun Bailey won a 3,799 majority. Two of three Wolverhampton seats also swung to the Tories.

Stuart Anderson beat Labour’s Eleanor Smith by 1,661 votes in Wolverhampton South West.

Jane Stevenson won a 4,080 majority in the North East seat, which had been held by Labour’s Emma Reynolds since 2010.

In the city’s South East Tory Ahmed Ejaz reduced Labour’s Pat McFadden’s majority to 1,235.

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Murderer mum Louise Porton will tuck into THREE festive feasts over Christmas after killing her two daughters – The Sun

A MONSTER mum who killed her daughters to make way for her sordid sex work will gorge on three festive feasts behind bars this Christmas.

Twisted Louise Porton, 23, will also enjoy other Yuletide goodies such as mince pies and satsumas as she plays party games and watches telly with fellow lags, jail sources say.


Porton, who sold sex for £30, was jailed for life for suffocating Lexi Draper, three, in January last year before murdering 16-month-old Scarlett Aughn just 18 days later.

Yet despite her heinous crimes, she will be treated to a Christmas Day lunch with all the trimmings, a slap-up meal on Boxing Day and another roast on New Year's Day.

For the Christmas Day meal at Foston Hall Prison cons will dine on a starter of soup, roast turkey, stuffing, sausage and bacon roll, or savoury nut roll or halal roast chicken.

Sprouts, carrots, gravy and roast spuds will also be on the menu in the Derbyshire nick.


And Porton can look forward to a dessert of Christmas pudding with white sauce or fresh fruit – if she has room for it, of course.

Last night a former inmate said there's always plenty of food on offer during the festivities at Foston Hall.

She said: “There’s usually a Christmas tree on the wing near the offices.

“Christmas lunch is usually okay but hardly restaurant standard. There’s always plenty of it though, which is welcome. The staff always make sure everyone has a good time.

“Not that Porton really deserves to celebrate Christmas. Just think how much her kiddies would be looking forward to Christmas and she denied them any more Christmases due to her selfless, evil ways.”

Porton's Boxing Day and New Year's Day lunches will also be roast dinners.



At Porton's trial,  judge Mrs Justice Yip branded the killings “calculated” and “evil”.

Porton, of Rugby, Warks, denied the murders at Birmingham Crown Court.

The jury of ten men and two women heard how Porton “would do whatever she could” not to have her daughters around.

They had heard how she offered to perform sex acts during shoots for cash and told punters that she would send nude pictures if punters funded her “shopping”.

She told one customer how “they can have sex despite being in a shared room with both children present if they’re quiet”.

And she told another man, called Jayce: “Tell me how much you put in and I will do pictures.

“If you put enough in we can meet up and I will f*** you.”

The Sun Online previously revealed how Poton has developed a penchant for chocolate- spending all her prison cash on Kinder Bueno bars.

When asked about Porton's culinary treats this Christmas, a spokesman for the Ministry of Justice said: "We cannot comment on individual prisoners."

 

 

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Boston Marathon bombing survivor flips off 'terrorist supporter' outside court

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Boston Marathon bombing survivor Adrianne Haslet was anything but coy Thursday when she confronted a lone supporter of convicted killer Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, resulting in a brief but heated exchange outside a Boston federal courthouse.

Haslet was walking toward the entrance of the courthouse, where Tsarnaev’s lawyers are urging a U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel to overturn his death sentence, when she saw a man holding a sign that read “Free Jahar.”

BOSTON MARATHON BOMBING: TSARNAEV’S ATTORNEYS TO APPEAL DEATH SENTENCE, SAYING HURRY POOL TOO TRAUMATIZED 

Footage captured by Fox-affiliated Boston25 showed Haslet offering the man her middle finger before saying “F— you.”

The two exchanged a few more words before Haslet walked inside the building.

She later posted a video to her Instagram story where she said she hadn’t planned to make the news by “flipping that guy off” but she also had never thought she would run into a “terrorist supporter.”

Haslet, who lost her leg in the April 15, 2013 attack, was attending an appeals hearing for Tsarnaev, who attorneys claim received an unfair trial.

He was convicted of 30 charges, including conspiracy and use of a weapon of mass destruction, in the attack that killed three people and injured more than 260 others. Now 26, he is in a supermax prison in Colorado. His brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, was killed in a gun battle with police days after the two detonated two pressure-cooker bombs near the marathon finish line.

Tsarnaev’s lawyer argued the 2015 trial should never have been held in Boston because of the intense local media coverage and the emotional toll the attack had on the region.

Haslet took to Instagram Wednesday to share her thoughts on Tsarnaev’s appeal.

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“I would like to make something crystal f*ing clear to the ‘defense’ and the press who is hounding my family and me this week,” her post read.  “MAKE NO MISTAKE. I will testify again in a heartbeat. But believe me when I say. YOU DO NOT WANT ME TO. I was strong then. I am even stronger now. You do NOT want me back on that stand. No matter the city.

“See you in court tomorrow.”

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Former Wales rugby star Gareth Cooper fleeced out of £1m

‘I was deceived and manipulated by the person I trusted the most’: Former Wales rugby star Gareth Cooper tells of despair as ex-wife who defrauded him for £1m is spared jail to look after their children

  • The 40-year-old rugby star, from Bridgend, met then wife Debra Leyshon in 2001
  • Mr Cooper set up a gym and freight business using earnings which his wife ran 
  • But Leyshon started to take out loans behind his back when business struggled  
  • Leyshon admitted 13 counts of fraud, Thomas admitted two ahead of sentencing
  • Sentenced to two years jail, suspended for 24 months, at Cardiff Crown Court

The 40-year-old rugby star (pictured outside court) from Bridgend, south Wales was left ‘devastated’ after his then-wife Debra Leyshon, 41, and his friend and business partner Simon Thomas, 47, fleeced him out of the huge sum

A former Wales rugby star’s ex-wife was walked free from court today despite ‘deceiving and manipulating’ him out of more than £1milllion, leaving him bankrupt. 

Gareth Cooper, who also played for the British Lions during a 12-year career, used the nest egg he’d saved up to set up two gyms and freight businesses to be run by his wife Debra Leyshon.

The 40-year-old, from Bridgend, south Wales was left ‘devastated’ after his then-wife, and his friend and business partner Simon Thomas, 47, fleeced him out of the huge sum, leaving him penniless and forced to move back in with his elderly parents.  

Leyshon was jailed for two years, suspended for 24 months, at Cardiff Crown Court. 

Judge David Wynn Morgan allowed her from custody with a suspended sentence to bring up the couple’s three children.

A court heard she pretended believed they were ‘thriving’ – but they were struggling financially and Leyshon was taking out loans behind Mr Cooper’s back.

The ex-Wales scrum-half found out his wife had even re-mortgaged the family home and four other properties.

Roger Griffiths, prosecuting, said: ‘He knew nothing about this.

‘In February 2017, Mr Cooper was made bankrupt and ordered to court. A month later it was agreed he had been the victim of fraud before starting a lengthy police investigation.’

In a victim impact statement, Mr Cooper said: ‘Debra and I are now divorced.. I cannot forgive what she has done, but she is the mother of my children.

The court heard Mr Cooper met Leyshon in 2001 and they married four years later (pictured together on their wedding day). The couple moved into his house in Pencoed and had three children together

‘During the last three to four of our marriage, Debra changed. She became more distant.

‘She became very secretive about how the businesses were going. When I asked her, she would fob me off.’

As legal costs piled up, Mr Cooper – capped 46 times for Wales and toured New Zealand with the Lions – was forced to move back in with his parents and had to borrow £120,000 from their pensions.

He said: ‘This was at a time when they should be planning for their retirement. I will always be profoundly grateful for their support.

‘I was deceived and manipulated by the person I trusted the most – my wife and the mother of my children.

‘I do not think I will ever be the same again.’

In a further statement read to court today, Mr Cooper said: ‘To find out that it was my wife and mother of my children that did this to me left me dumbstruck.

‘The most difficult thing has been to come to terms with Debra’s deceit. She was responsible and the court will have to deal with her as is appropriate.’


Mr Cooper (pictured playing for the British and Irish Lions in 2005) used his rugby earnings to buy a property in Pencoed as an investment in 2006, followed by three other properties. He also set up a freight business and gym, which his wife and business partner ran

Towards the end of his career Mr Cooper had the idea of converting a storage unit into a gym called No 9 Fitness – a reference to the position he played (he is pictured playing for the British and Irish Lions against Argentina in 2005)

Leyshon, 41, of Bridgend, South Wales, admitted 13 counts of fraud, amounting to just over £1million.

Mr Cooper’s friend and business partner Simon Thomas, 47, admitted two counts of fraud adding up to £380,000.

An associate, Mark Lee, admitted one count of fraud amounting to £50,000.

Judge David Wynn Morgan said: ‘You committed these offences in order to obtain mortgages and loans pretending to be your husband without his knowledge.

‘Cooper who has limited business acumen but founded the business because he trusted you to run them.

Geordan Murphy, Jonny Wilkinson, Denis Hickie and Gareth Cooper (right) line up for the pre-match anthems during the Rugby Union International Match between the British and Irish Lions and Argentina at the Millennium Stadium on May 23, 2005

‘You convinced him that the businesses were thriving but in fact you applied for loans and mortgages to raise money to keep the businesses afloat.

‘The first Mr Cooper knew about it was in 2017 when he was told he was bankrupt.

‘Debra Leyshon, you played the leading role. You abused the trust that Mr Cooper had put in you.’ 

Thomas was jailed for 16 months, suspended for 24 months and was disqualified from being the director of a company for eight years.

Lee was jailed for nine months, suspended for 24 months. The trio will face a Proceeds of Crime Act hearing next year.

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Bailey the beagle dances to reggae in the kitchen

Party animal! Bailey the beagle shows off his hilarious moves as he dances in the kitchen

  • Wendy Berenguer was at her home playing a reggaeton song over speakers
  • Going into the kitchen she caught Bailey the beagle dancing to the beat
  • The plump pooch excitedly moved his paws from side to side to his owner’s amusement

This is the hilarious moment a dog is caught dancing to a hypnotic beat.

Wendy Berenguer, from Naples, Florida, had decided to put on some calming Puetro Rican reggaeton music at her home.

But going into the kitchen, she catches her beagle, Bailey, dancing excitedly to the beat of the tune, much to her amusement.

Wendy shared the video of her beagle’s seemingly impromptu kitchen groove on her Facebook page for the world to see the dog’s impressive skills.

In the footage, the dog can be seen sitting up and twisting from side to side along with the rhythm of the reggaeton track, which originated in Puerto Rico in the 1990s.

As the pooch notices that it’s being filmed, it pauses for a moment, adjusts into another position and resumes wagging its tail and shaking its paws. 

The footage has since gone viral, with 15 million people viewing the talented dog’s moves.

Going into the kitchen, Wendy Berenguer catches her dog Bailey dancing excitedly to the beat of some reggaeton music, much to her amusement

But dog owner Wendy might be benefiting from more than just a viral video as a result of the pooch’s hilarious dancing.

Several scientific surveys have shown that owning a dog is good for your heart because they encourage you to be healthier and reduce stress.

Experts at St Anne’s University Hospital Brno, who recently analysed the health of hundreds of people found those who had a furry friend, found dog owners were more likely to be physically active, and also have a better diet.

As the pooch notices that it’s being filmed, it pauses for a moment, adjusts into another position and resumes wagging its tail and shaking its paws

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Vladimir Putin accompanied by SIX bodyguards while going to BATHROOM

From Russia With Loo-ve: Vladimir Putin is accompanied by SIX bodyguards while going to the BATHROOM during Ukraine peace talks at the Elysee Palace

  • Russian leader, 67, was filmed leaving the bathroom in Paris’s Elysee Palace 
  • A total of six bodyguards crowded round him as he slowly exited the toilet 
  • Putin appointed armed guard as delegation member so he could sit in on talks 

Vladamir Putin was spotted going to the toilet with six bodyguards while at a Ukraine summit in Paris.

The Russian leader, 67, was filmed leaving the bathroom after five bodyguards made sure his surroundings were safe. 

Another bodyguard walked behind him as he left the toilet in Paris’s Elysee Palace. 

An ex-chief of a German intelligence service told BILD that Putin’s actions were ‘outrageous’.  

Putin then appointed one of his large armed guards as a delegation member so that he would be allowed to sit in the negotiations room. 

The German intelligence chief added that is was an ‘open provocation and threat’.  

The four-way summit was attended by Putin, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky

Ukraine and Russia agreed to the release and exchange of all ‘conflict-related detainees’ by the end of the year

The four-way summit was attended by Putin, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Ukrainian President  Volodymyr Zelensky.

It was seen as a critical opportunity to take steps to end five years of conflict in the east of Ukraine. 

Ukraine and Russia agreed to the release and exchange of all ‘conflict-related detainees’ by the end of the year.

They also promised to disengage military forces in three regions of Ukraine by the end of March next year. 

Additional talks will be held in four months to take stock of the ceasefire’s progress. 

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Conservatives win Workington: Boris Johnson's party storms home

Workington Man DID back Boris Johnson: Tories storm home in totemic constituency with a 9.7% swing from Labour

  • Workington was targeted by the Conservatives who saw it as crucial to majority
  • The constituency voted 61 per cent in favour of Brexit during the Referendum 
  • The Conservative’s Mark Jenkinson romped home with 49.3 per cent of the vote 

The Conservatives have taken the Workington seat from Labour in a huge swing. 

Mark Jenkinson romped home with 49.3 per cent of the vote, knocking Labour’s Sue Hayman into second. 

The result represented a stunning 9.7 per cent swing for the Tories, in a seat that has been Labour since 1918, apart from a brief period in the 1970s. 

The constituency voted 61 per cent in favour of Brexit during the 2016 Referendum. 

Workington had been a key target for Boris Johnson’s party, with attracting the ‘Workington man’ seen as crucial to Tory hopes of a majority. 

Mark Jenkinson romped home with 49.3 per cent of the vote in Workington, a traditional Labour safe seat

The term is a reference to ‘an older, white, non-graduate man from the north of England with an interest in rugby league and a tendency to vote Labour’.

This demographic, according to a Tory think-tank, was who the PM had to win over to gain a majority. 

And the Conservatives delivered emphatically, beating Labour by 4,176 votes. 

‘Workington Man’ is the brainchild of Lord O’Shaughnessy, a former Director of Policy for David Cameron, who wrote a report for Onward, a group which was founded by Will Tanner, a former adviser to Theresa May.

The use of voter stereotypes as a targeting tactic dates back to at least Margaret Thatcher’s repeated electoral wins in the 1980s where the working-class ‘Essex man’ switched allegiance from Labour to the Tories.

Voter stereotypes used during previous elections include the 1996 ‘Mondeo man’, the 1997 ‘Worcester woman’, and the 2003 ‘Bacardi Breezer Generation’ of 18 to 25-year-olds, among others.

And this time, the Tory targeting of the Workington Man has paid dividends.  

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Boy who was burned during nativity was wearing a SHEEP costume

Boy, eight, who was horrifically burned during nativity play was wearing a SHEEP costume that caught fire when a shepherd’s candle was dropped

  • A candle slipped out of a child’s hand and fell on to the boy dressed as a sheep 
  • The Year 3 pupil suffered serious burns and is in critical but stable condition 
  • A man and a woman who helped the child were injured and taken to hospital  

A school nativity play descended into horror when an eight-year-old boy was set on fire.

Shocked parents watched as a candle slipped out of a child’s hand and fell on to the boy, who was dressed as a sheep.

They told how the victim’s father jumped up and shouted, ‘My son! My son! He’s on fire!’ as the flames quickly spread and his son was engulfed in seconds.

An image posted by Addiscombe Catholic Church just weeks ago shows families setting up a festive display inside the place of worship 

The boy was injured during the incident at Our Lady of the Annunciation Church on Bingham Road, Croydon, on Wednesday afternoon 

Police are carrying out investigations following the incident in which a child sustained severe burns. He remains in critical but stable condition

The Year 3 pupil, who was airlifted to hospital, suffered serious burns and was in a critical but stable condition yesterday.

A man and a woman, who are believed to have tried to help the child, were also injured and taken to hospital.

Last night, parents questioned the school’s health and safety policy after the children – some as young as seven – were allowed to hold naked flames on stage.

It comes five years after Strictly Come Dancing host Claudia Winkleman’s daughter suffered severe burns when her Halloween costume caught fire. 

One parent reported seeing children in tears after seeing the child engulfed in flames, while another witness later saw children filing out the building (pictured, police outside the building)

The TV presenter has since urged parents to be more vigilant about the potentially dangerous and flammable materials used in children’s fancy-dress costumes.

Students from St Thomas Becket Catholic Primary School had been performing their nativity play in the Addiscombe Catholic Church in Croydon, south London, on Wednesday.

A mother in the audience said the incident happened just ten minutes into the performance as pupils sang on stage. She said they were all holding candles when a boy dressed as a shepherd dropped his.

The woman, who wanted to remain anonymous, said: ‘I don’t know exactly how it happened, maybe he tripped, but it went on to the boy in front of him wearing a sheep costume.

London Air Ambulance and LAS attended the scene. Police were called to the church in Croydon on Wednesday, 11 December at 14:21

Tory candidate from Croydon, Mario Creatura, tweeted about the incident and said his mother works at the school. He paid tribute to the ‘brave school staff who put themselves in harms way to help’

‘It was one of those cheap ones you get. I don’t think they’re very safe. It went up in flames. Everyone was panicking and the kids were all crying. No one really knew what to do, it was a shock.

‘I don’t know why they were all allowed to hold naked candles? They could have used battery-powered ones. It doesn’t make sense – was no one thinking about the health and safety?’ 

The school’s head, Noel Campbell, said: ‘Our whole school community is devastated by the incident that occurred at our carol service.

London Air Ambulance and London Ambulance Service attended the scene. The child has been taken to hospital, his next of kin have been informed (pictured, emergency services outside the church today)

Police (pictured outside the scene) have said the child suffered serious injuries as a result, while a man and a woman, who are believed to have tried to help the child, were also injured

‘Our thoughts and prayers are with the child and his family at this difficult time. Following this incident our pupils, staff and families are being given support.’

The London Fire Brigade and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) were informed after the incident. An investigation will now be opened into the incident by either HSE or Croydon council.

An HSE spokesman said: ‘HSE has been informed by the emergency services, who have led the initial response. We will liaise with the local authority to establish which agency is best placed to take this forward.’

The incident took place at Our Lady of the Annunciation Church (above) on Bingham Road. Two adults were also treated for burns at the scene 

A London Ambulance service spokesperson said three people were treated at the scene for burns, including a child, a man and a woman

London Fire Brigade warning over candles after boy left with severe burns at carol service

London Fire Brigade has warned teachers and parents against using real candles after a young boy was left with critical burns when his nativity costume caught fire.

Three people, including the child, were injured during the incident at Our Lady of the Annunciation Church in Bingham Road, Croydon, at about 2.10pm on Wednesday.

The boy, believed to be between the ages of seven and 10, was taken to hospital by air ambulance and remains in a critical but stable condition.

Pupils from St Thomas Becket Catholic Primary School in south London were attending the nearby church for a musical nativity celebration when the boy’s costume came into contact with a lit candle.

A man and a woman were also taken to hospital by road.

London Fire Brigade assistant commissioner for fire safety Dan Daly said: ‘This horrific accident is a stark reminder of the risk real candles can pose.

‘They are a completely unnecessary hazard when it comes to children and school plays.

‘Sadly this isn’t the first time we have seen clothing and costumes set alight by candles and people need to recognise the risk and prevent these incidents from happening again.

‘People should not be using real candles – especially around children, costumes and decorations – when there are far safer alternatives available.’

Mr Daly added LED or electric candles should be used, especially in the festive season when clothing and decorations can pose additional hazards.

London Ambulance Service attended the scene on Wednesday afternoon and later called officers from the Metropolitan Police, who are not investigating the incident.

The Health and Safety Executive was also informed.

Croydon Council will now review the incident with the school, the Archdiocese of Southwark and London Fire Brigade.

A council spokesman said: ‘Our thoughts are with all those affected by this very sad incident and we are supporting staff, pupils and the wider school community.

‘We will be working closely with the school, the diocese and London Fire Brigade to review the circumstances to minimise the risk of anything like this happening in the future.’

Head teacher Noel Campbell said: ‘Our whole school community is devastated by the incident that occurred at our carol service yesterday.

‘Our thoughts and prayers are with the child and his family at this difficult time.

‘Following this incident, our pupils, staff and families are being given support.’

A statement from the archdiocese said: ‘The Archdiocese of Southwark was informed of an incident that occurred at Our Lady of the Annunciation Catholic Church in Addiscombe, which led to a child suffering serious burns and two adults also sustaining injuries.

‘At this time our thoughts and prayers are with the child and those injured, their families, and the school and parish community.

‘The archdiocese and school involved are co-operating fully with the ongoing investigation.’

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Tasnim, 20, always knew her father was a murderer

How I found the courage to meet my monster of a father: Woman, 20, whose dad murdered her mother when she was just 16 months old learns an even darker secret – he is suspected of being part of the Telford child grooming gang

  • Tasnim Lowe, 20, has a box filled with items from a mother she can’t remember 
  • She was 16 months old when she was found wrapped in a blanket in the garden
  • Mother Lucy Lowe, perished in house fire at their home in Telford, Shropshire
  • Father Azhar Ali Mehmood, who was imprisoned for pouring petrol into the house, is now eligible for release 19 years later 

The dog-eared A4 book is decorated with stickers befitting a teenage girl: the logos of fashionable brands and a popular cartoon character. But its inauspicious appearance belies the treasures to be found inside.

It’s a diary containing the usual entries about everyday life along with references to a much older boyfriend who is clearly no good for her.

One page in particular stands out for Tasnim Lowe. On it, written in blue biro, is a letter from a mother to her ten-day-old daughter.

‘I’ll always be there for you no matter what. Remember to live life to the max because I want the best for my little girl. Love you loads always and forever, Mummy.’

Tasnim Lowe, 20, lost her mother in a house fire at their home in Telford, Shropshire, started by her father when she was 16 months old

The words bring tears to Tasnim’s eyes. She is the little girl mentioned; the book one of only a handful of surviving items belonging to the loving mum she cannot remember.

‘There are three diaries and I keep them in a memory box,’ says Tasnim, now 20. ‘It’s really nice to be able to learn about her and find out things I’d only ever know if we’d had a heart-to-heart. It makes me feel closer to her.’

Tasnim was just 16 months old when she was found wrapped in a blanket in her back garden after a house fire killed her mother, Lucy Lowe, then 16 and pregnant with her second child, her gran, Eileen, 49, and aunt Sarah, 17.

Tasnim’s grandfather George, now 74, escaped and vowed to bring Tasnim up.

In a shocking twist, the perpetrator of the fire was Tasnim’s father, taxi driver Azhar Ali Mehmood, then 26. He told police he’d saved Tasnim but was later imprisoned for life after it was discovered he’d poured petrol inside the home and set it alight.

Now, 19 years on, Mehmood is eligible for release — with a decision from the parole board expected early next year. Tasnim has long sought answers as to why her dad committed the triple murder. Her brave search has led her to scour court transcripts for clues — and even visit her father in prison when she was 16.

But it wasn’t until March 2018 that a newspaper exposé delivered the most horrifying revelation of all.

She has no memories of her mother Lucy Lowe, pictured holding Tasnim as a baby, but has a memory box of some of her mother’s possessions

It was claimed Lucy had been just one victim of the child grooming scandal in Telford, Shropshire, which has been described as Britain’s ‘worst ever’. Mehmood was thought to be part of a ring, dating back to the Eighties, that preyed on up to 1,000 children.

‘I found this out on Mother’s Day of all days,’ says Tasnim. ‘The article described how my dad groomed Lucy from the age of 14, and that other girls being abused were threatened with “ending up like Lucy” — in other words, dead — if they told anyone. I was so confused at first. When you’re taught a certain story, you think that’s the only story it could possibly be.

‘It was really difficult to accept this completely new perspective, and it was so personal.

‘Then there’s the fact that I was the product of rape. It’s really not nice thinking of yourself like that. I have to remind myself that my dad did what he did, that was his choice, not my choice. I’m my own person.’

And what a thoroughly impressive person she has become.

Despite her tragic story, Tasnim is a measured, thoughtful young woman who has recently moved into her own flat, is in a relationship and has a job as a support worker.

She wants to be an advocate for her mother, whose plight as a teenager was overlooked — ‘I’m determined to be her voice’ — and to speak out for other children born as a product of rape, whom she feels are largely ignored by society. Recently, she filmed a BBC Three documentary about her life.

Where others may have gone off the rails or at least become embittered or distrusting of the world, Tasnim insists: ‘Although what has happened has been tragic and terrible, I won’t let it affect my life and how I view everything — relationships, friendships and such.’

Her taxi driver father Azhar Ali Mehmood was jailed forlife after he was found to have poured petrol into the house and set fire to it. But, 19 years later, he is now eligible for release

She says she has always known about her mother’s death and can’t remember the moment she was told. Neither can she recall first noticing the brown scar that snakes down her left cheekbone — a burn from the flames. ‘It’s just always been there,’ she says. ‘When I’m not wearing makeup people often think I’ve got food on my face. They think it’s chocolate; it’s funny.’

She admits that growing up with her grandfather was hard at times: ‘He did his best — he’d just lost his whole family and suddenly he was in charge of a toddler. We lived with his mum, my great nan, after the fire. I was ten when she died and it was just grandad and me.

‘It was difficult at primary school when there were parents’ evenings and sports days. I was the only one with my grandad attending and it was a clear difference.’

Tasnim lived with her grandfather until she was 12. After that she stayed with ‘various family members’ before going into foster care at 14. ‘Me becoming a teenager was distressing for my grandad because of what had happened to his two teenage daughters.

‘My experience of foster care was mixed. People found my situation difficult to deal with because it was so complex, unique. Not having close family meant I found it hard to relate to people, I guess.’

Although she never dabbled with drugs or fell in with the wrong crowd, she says her education suffered and she left school at 16.

Tasnim pictured at a memorial in BBC programme ‘Why Dad Killed Mum: My Family’s Secret’

‘There were lots of people in and out of my life,’ she says. ‘My childhood was quite confusing. Who should I look up to? Sometimes when I was with living with family members, I couldn’t physically get to school and education wasn’t my main concern. It was more a case of getting through the day.’

She began seeing a counsellor after starting secondary school. ‘There isn’t a day that goes by without me thinking of the family I’ve lost,’ she says. ‘I began to want more answers than my grandad could give.’

A court order had stated that she couldn’t have contact with her father until she was 16.

‘My grandad accepted the idea. He understood that I needed to find out things that he might not be able to tell me.’

Social services arranged the meeting at Featherstone Prison, Wolverhampton. ‘I had an hour with my dad,’ she says, ‘which was not very long. I was really, really nervous.

‘It wasn’t the best timing. It was the first week of college so I was already really anxious about that and on top of that I had a bad cold.

‘I walked into the room and I didn’t really know what to do. He got very tearful. He looked just like the old photos.’

Unaware, then, of the child grooming gang, she felt ‘really conflicting emotions’ about her dad. On the one hand he had killed her mum but on the other hand he was her only surviving parent. He spoke about what happened but he maintained his innocence. It wasn’t really the answer I was looking for.’

Tasnim pictured with diaries from her mother Lucy Lowe in BBC programme Why Dad Killed Mum: My Family’s Secret

The one-off meeting left her feeling confused but relieved that she had ‘crossed that bridge’.

Then she saw the front page news about Telford’s child grooming scandal after friends started texting her about the story.

‘It was the first time I thought of my parents’ relationship in a completely different way. I saw Lucy as very much a child and a victim. I’ve always seen Lucy as a child because she’s a schoolgirl in the few photos I have of her. I’ve never really thought of her in a parent role because I have no memory of that. That’s why I don’t refer to her as my mum.’

Although the revelations gave Tasnim potential answers in terms of motivation for the killings — her father may have feared being exposed — it raised other questions, namely, why no one had suspected or tried to intervene.

‘At the end of the day Lucy was 13 when she met my dad, who was nine years older,’ she says. ‘Why didn’t anyone question that age gap? She was 14 when she got pregnant with me. A child!’

When she raised these queries with her grandfather, he had revelations of his own. He admitted having heard Lucy cry ‘rape’ three times one evening.

He had raced upstairs to Lucy’s bedroom and knocked the door down but Tasnim’s dad had run off. The cries of rape that night were reportedly heard by neighbours, too. Yet no one went to the police.

Just a week later the triple murder was committed. ‘It’s very difficult for me to hear anyone say: “I knew your mum was being abused — I could have gone to the police but I didn’t.” As a result my mum isn’t here, along with my aunty and grandmother.

After the fire Tasnim’s grandfather George, now 74, pictured, decided to bring her up

‘It did upset me and made me angry. And it made my grandad quite distressed. He now knows that he should have done something.

‘Then again, knowing what I know, I doubt anything would have been done back then.

‘I’ve heard so many accounts where parents have gone to authorities and said: “This is happening to my kid, what can you do?” and they’ve not done anything about it. Can you trust the authorities that are meant to protect you? It makes me realise how alone Lucy must have felt and that makes me very sad.’

Considering nearly 1,000 children were sexually exploited by the grooming gang in Telford, it would seem there were many people turning a blind eye.

Tasnim says: ‘After all, there were all these girls not attending school, ending up pregnant — surely alarm bells should have been rung by the schools? What about doctors or sexual health workers?

‘For my generation it’s inconceivable that children weren’t listened to back then. I feel Lucy was ignored: she didn’t have a voice. I’m determined to be her voice.’

During the BBC film, Tasnim confronted the police about her dad not being prosecuted for child sex abuse and spoke to her local MP about including her mother’s story in the independent inquiry into Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) commissioned this year. They are two issues she feels passionately about.

But senior police admit there will be no fresh probe into Mehmood’s alleged sex offences. This is because they should have been addressed in the initial trial, but at the time they were focused on getting a triple murder conviction. Still, Tasnim insists: ‘My dad should be charged with child sexual exploitation. Not charging him belittles the ongoing abuse Lucy suffered at my dad’s hands. He should be on the sex offenders’ register for the safety of others.’

Yet what may surprise people is that Tasnim’s feelings towards her father aren’t black and white.

Tasnim pictured with her grandfather George at the age of four. She was raised by him after her mother died in a house fire

While her grandfather makes the point that 18 years means six years for each life, which ‘is barely anything’, Tasnim says she tries to ‘remain quite neutral’.

‘My main focus has always been my safety and that of my grandad and the rest of my family.’

She adds: ‘I have my opinions about my dad’s sentence but I don’t want to air them. My main aim is to raise awareness, not to stir up negativity.’

Astounding magnanimity? Or the intense confusion of a young person who has never known what it is to have parents?

For now, Tasnim is trying to push forward with her life. As much as she wants answers about her past, she doesn’t want to be imprisoned by it. When she wants to feel close to her mother, she tends her memorial garden near the old family home. There are also the precious diaries to keep her memory alive.

The police returned them to Tasnim at the end of last year. It’s not known why they kept them for so long.

Inside, there is evidence of other men abusing Lucy and references to Mehmood pressuring her not to tell the authorities about underage sex.

It is devastatingly sad evidence of what a vulnerable teenager had to endure and how alone she must have felt. Has she read them all?

‘No, not yet,’ Tasnim says. ‘I like to take it steady with the diaries. They are very important to me; I have a little read and then put them away.’

As intense and upsetting as some of the entries may be, Tasnim says: ‘I don’t want to rush through them,’ adding, heartbreakingly: ‘I don’t want them to ever end.’

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