UK news

Portsmouth's Avram Grant caught in brothel

By Jessica Elgot, February 4, 2010

The Premiership manager caught by a tabloid reporter visiting a brothel has been revealed as Portsmouth manager Israeli Avram Grant.

Father-of-two Mr Grant, 54, was pictured leaving a “massage parlour” near Portsmouth’s training ground, on an industrial estate near the village of Horton Heath, where prostitutes allegedly charge £130-an-hour.

Mr Grant, who has been married to Israeli television personality Tzofit for 16 years, admitted to The Sun reporter that he knew the place was a massage parlour, but the paper has been unable to print his identity due to privacy laws.

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Benny Morris talk cut by Cambridge Israel society

By Marcus Dysch, February 4, 2010

Cambridge University’s Israel Society has been slammed for bowing to pressure from Muslim students to cancel a speech by a top Israeli historian.

Prof Benny Morris had been due to speak on Thursday, but the event was cancelled after complaints from, among others, the university’s Islamic and Pakistan societies who claimed he was an “Islamophobic hate speaker”.

Israel Society president Jake Witzenfeld called the cancellation “unfortunate but noble”, adding: “There was no intention to “give racism a platform”.

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Latin teacher innocent of sex abuse

By Robyn Rosen, February 4, 2010

A Latin teacher at an exclusive London prep school has been cleared of sexually abusing children.

Michael Gordon, 55, a member of Pinner and Northwood Liberal Synagogue, was found not guilty of 14 counts of sexual assault on a child under 13 and four of sexual assault between September 1 2006 and April 9 2009.

Southwark Crown Court heard last week that Mr Gordon, a teacher with 25 years’ experience, allegedly stroked the youngsters regularly and pressed himself up against them.

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Tzipi Livni: I'm coming to Britain

By Stephen Pollard and Martin Bright, February 3, 2010

Israeli opposition leader Tzipi Livni is planning to come to London to test the process for the issuing of arrest warrants for alleged war crimes.

Speaking exclusively to the JC, Ms Livni said: “I will do this not for me, not for provocation, but for the right of every Israeli to travel freely. I am not going to be restricted by extremists because I fought terror.”

The British system was, she said, “being abused by extremists for political reasons. Belgium and Spain have changed their laws, and the British know that they have to do so”.

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British botanist wins two Israeli awards

By Jessica Elgot, February 2, 2010

A Cambridge scientist has won two prestigious Israeli awards for his research in botany.

Sir David Baulcombe is professor of botany at the University of Cambridge and a Royal Society research professor.

He is known as an advocate for genetically-modified food, claiming in December in a article for The Guardian, that GM foods were still a vital part of global food security.

Sir David has received the $100,000 Wolf Prize for agriculture for his research into how plants defend themselves from viral attacks using “gene silencing”.

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Sir Victor Blank takes government panel role

By Jessica Elgot, February 2, 2010

The former chairman of Lloyds, Sir Victor Blank, will take an unpaid role as a government adviser on overseas investment.

Sir Victor, who left Lloyds after its disastrous takeover of HBOS, will sit on the new Investment Advisory Panel, created by Business Secretary Lord Mandelson for government department UK Trade and Investment.

The panel, which includes Dragon’s Den judge James Caan, is believed to have met for the first time this week.

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Brown meets Palestinian leader Abbas

By Jessica Elgot, January 29, 2010

Gordon Brown has met Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at Downing Street to discuss the peace process in the Middle East.

The two met for an hour in Downing Street where their discussion included the Arab Peace Initiative and the Palestinian economy.

A spokesman for Number 10 said: "They focused their discussions on the need to renew efforts towards a lasting peace agreement.

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Web racists have jail sentence cuts

By Robyn Rosen, January 29, 2010

Two men who were jailed for inciting racial hatred on a foreign website have had their sentences cut.

Simon Sheppard, 52, of Selby, North Yorkshire was sentenced to four years and 10 months, and Stephen Whittle, 43, Preston, Lancashire to two years and four months at Leeds Crown Court in July.

They appealed against the conviction and lost.

Today, the three appeal judges reduced Sheppard's sentence by one year and Whittle's by six months.

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Tony Blair: Middle East was my priority

By Jessica Elgot, January 29, 2010

Tony Blair has told the Iraq war inquiry that the Middle East process had been his priority for dealing with Islamic extremism, and that he was “frustrated” that the US had not done more.

Mr Blair said he kept pushing the Israel-Palestine issue: “You could describe me as a broken record through this period.”

But he stressed that he did not trade peace in the Middle East for the war in Iraq. He said: “It would not have been right to make [the Middle East] a pre-condition.

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Human Rights Watch seeks to prove Middle East 'balance'

By Simon Rocker, January 28, 2010

A top official from Human Rights Watch met Jewish representatives in London this week in an effort to persuade them that the organisation is not biased against Israel.

The New York-based human rights organisation — which condemned both Israel and Hamas over their conduct of last year’s Gaza war — has faced a barrage of criticism from Jewish groups over the year, with even its own founder, Robert Bernstein, recently accusing it of undue focus on Israel.

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