UK news

Esther Rantzen will stand for election in Luton

By Jessica Elgot, July 28, 2009

Presenter Esther Rantzen has confirmed she will stand for election as an Independent MP in Luton South in the next General Election.

Labour MP Margaret Moran is standing down for her post in Luton after she was exposed by the Daily Telegraph for using £22,500 in expenses for treating dry rot at her home in Southampton.

The former That's Life presenter and founder of children's charity Childline said she was prompted to run after feeling such outrage at the MPs' expenses scandal, and has been hinting about her intentions for months.


Actor Harry Towb dies

By Jenni Frazer, July 27, 2009

The distinguished character actor, Harry Towb, has died, aged 83, at his London home.

Mr Towb is said to have been the only Jew born in the Northern Irish town of Larne, County Antrim, but he grew up in Belfast. His family lived for a while in Newcastle on Tyne before returning to Belfast.

Last December he appeared as David, the elderly fiance of scheming Janine Butcher in EastEnders, taking part in a storyline filmed at Hendon United Synagogue.


Amy Winehouse not guilty of assault

By Jessica Elgot, July 24, 2009

Amy Winehouse has been found not guilty of punching a dancer at a charity ball in Berkeley Square last September.

The Jewish singer denied assaulting burlesque dancer Sherene Flash by punching her in the eye after a friend tried to jump in the photograph that Miss Flash was taking of Ms Winehouse.

She was been found not guilty at City of Westminster Magistrates' Court.

Ms Winehouse could not attend her grandmother Esther's funeral because of her trial, but mother Janis has told the Evening Standard that Ms Winehouse will attend the shiva this week after her acquittal.


Richard Desmond loses libel battle

By Marcus Dysch, July 23, 2009

Newspaper boss Richard Desmond has lost his libel action over claims that he abused his position to pursue a vendetta against a rival media tycoon.

A High Court jury has decided by a majority that the Express Group owner was not defamed in Tom Bower's 2006 biography of the former Daily Telegraph owner Conrad Black.

Mr Desmond faces a bill for legal costs estimated at around £1.25 million.

Outside the court, Mr Bower said the jurors had "done a great service to British journalism".


Actress Jill Balcon dies aged 84

By Jessica Elgot, July 23, 2009

The Jewish actress Jill Balcon, the daughter of film producer Sir Michael Balcon, wife of Poet Laureate Cecil Day-Lewis and mother of actor Daniel Day-Lewis has died at the age of 84.

Jill Balcon was the daughter of eminent film producer Sir Michael Balcon who was the head of Ealing Studios and her paternal grandparents were Jewish refugees from Eastern Europe.

It was at boarding school at Rodean where she first saw her future husband, the future Poet Laureate Cecil Day-Lewis. She was 12, and he came to give a reading at school assembly.


Parents accuse hospital after their baby’s death

By Keren David, July 23, 2009

The distraught parents of a baby who died after contracting pneumonia have asked police to investigate their claims of negligence by the Royal London Hospital.

Meanwhile, the medical director of another east London hospital has refuted “malicious” texts about the case.

Leah and Chaim Herkovitch’s daughter, Shiri, was four months old when she died at the Royal London on July 11. Her parents had briefly left her bedside to visit their other three children at home in Stamford Hill, north London.


UK says scholarships for Israelis prove its anti-boycott stance

July 23, 2009

Britain’s ambassador to Israel, Tom Phillips, said this week that the new group of Chevening scholars — Israeli postgraduates going to study in the UK — were “living evidence” of the UK government’s robust response to the academic boycott of Israel.

This year there are 12 talented young Israelis — seven men and five women — who have been awarded British scholarships enabling them to study in universities all over the UK this coming academic year.


Embassy names its press attache

By Anshel Pfeffer, July 23, 2009

The new press attaché to the Israeli Embassy in London will be Amir Ofek, a 43-year old career diplomat.

Mr Ofek, a former infantry officer and graduate of Tel Aviv University, joined the Foreign Ministry’s cadet course in 1995 on the “communications and culture” track. His main foreign postings have been as first secretary at the embassy in Chile, and consul for public afairs at the New York consulate. He also served shorter periods in Belarus, El Salvador and Georgia.


TV-ban school challenged by local council

By Simon Rocker, July 23, 2009

Bury Council has challenged the admissions policy of a state-aided strictly Orthodox primary school which stipulates that parents should not have TV sets at home.

The council declined to go into details about its objection to the entry criteria of Yesoiday Hatorah (formerly Prestwich Jewish Day School).

But a spokesman for the Lancashire authority said: “During the consultation on admission arrangements for 2010, we highlighted our objections regarding the draft policies of Yesoiday Hatorah Primary School. However, the determined policies were not altered.


Israel envoy lauds Christian groups

By James Martin, July 23, 2009

Israeli ambassador to the UK Ron Prosor has thanked Israel’s Christian friends for their “constant support of the state of Israel in difficult times”.

In a unique event at the ambassador’s residence this week, Mr Prosor told more than 50 representatives of British Christian groups: “At a time when our enemies are getting louder in the UK, we truly appreciate the backing from another religious group.”