UK news

Leeds United ex- director in blackmail charge

By Jessica Elgot, December 9, 2009

Former property magnate and director of Leeds United Simon Morris has been charged with conspiracy to blackmail.

Mr Morris, 32, was declared bankrupt a year after his business empire SRM Holdings Group collapsed with debts of around £50 million.

The charges come after a long investigation by West Yorkshire police into the demise of the business.

He will appear before magistrates in Leeds next week, jointly charged with an unnamed 49-year-old man from Hyde, Cheshire.

His co-accused is also charged with possession of a firearm and possession of an offensive weapon.

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Church 'wrong to stage Palestine concert'

By Robyn Rosen, December 9, 2009

The secretary of the Bloomsbury Central Baptist Church, which held a carol concert by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), has said that had he known how political the concert was, he would not have approved it.

Prof John Beynon, the retired principal of King’s College, London, spoke after Jewish and Christian demonstrators protested outside the Covent Garden church during a carol service which included readings from Caryl Churchill, whose play Seven Jewish Children caused controversy earlier this year.

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Stacey Solomon and Dannii Minogue go back to Essex school

By Robyn Rosen, December 9, 2009

Madness descended on Barkingside this week when X Factor finalist Stacey Solomon visited her former school.

Hundreds of King Solomon High School pupils lined the car park on Tuesday, eagerly anticipating the arrival of the 20-year-old, who left mid-way through her A-levels three years ago.

They chanted and waved homemade banners with the words: “We love Stacey” and “Stacey has the Essex Factor”.

After more than an hour, a blacked-out car glided through the school gates and the crowd went wild.

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Attack on Stamford Hill woman

By Robyn Rosen, December 9, 2009

A strictly Orthodox woman has been attacked after she disrupted an armed burglar in her home in Stamford Hill.

Police were called at 7.48am on Tuesday to reports of a burglar armed with a knife at an address in St Andrew’s Grove.

The burglar was disturbed by a woman, aged in her 50s, who was attacked by the male suspect, during which she was hit in the face and received a bloody nose and cracked tooth.

The suspect then made off with cash and jewellery. Police searched the area with a helicopter but failed to find the suspect.

No arrests have been made.

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Protest outside Palestinian carol concert

By Robyn Rosen, December 9, 2009

More than 60 protesters demonstrated outside a church which held a carol service with alternative songs condemning Israel.

The service was held at St Paul’s in Covent Garden by Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods (JBIG) on Tuesday and included readings from Palestinian writer Ghada Karmi, veteran peace campaigner Bruce Kent, Baroness Jenny Tonge and Lauren Booth.

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New UK ambassador to Israel

By Jessica Elgot, December 8, 2009

Matthew Gould has been appointed as the new ambassador to Israel.

He will take over from current ambassador Tom Phillips in late 2010.

Mr Gould, a former speech writer for Robin Cook, is currently the Principal Private Secretary to Foreign Secretary David Miliband.

He has also held positions in NATO, Tehran and Washington.

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Stacey Solomon at King Solomon High School

By Jessica Elgot, December 8, 2009

It was mayhem in Barkingside as Stacey Solomon and Dannii Minogue descended upon King Solomon High School with their X Factor entourage.

Pupils at the Jewish school waited outside for an hour for the X Factor finalist, who left the school three years ago.

Clutching homemade banners, the students screamed and shouted: “We love you Stacey” as the Dagenham diva made her way up the steps of the school, to be greeted by head teacher Spencer Lewis.

Inside, posters adorned the walls saying ‘Vote Stacey’.

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Rabbis attack Harrow anti-Muslim campaign

December 8, 2009

Leading community members in Harrow have condemned anti-Muslim campaigners planning a protest in the borough this weekend.

A letter signed by rabbis Aaron Goldstein, Hillel Athias-Robles, Kathleen Middleton, Frank Dabba Smith, and Michael Hilton has offered support for the borough's Muslims.

In an attack on “those whose only purpose is to spread hatred and fear”, they wrote: “We share the desire of the Muslim community of Harrow to respect our mutual traditions, to learn from each other's cultures and ways of life, and to live together in peace.”

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'Antisemitic' abuse at Salita match

By Faga Speker, Jonathan Kalmus and Jessica Elgot, December 7, 2009

The rabbi who accompanied boxer Dmitriy Salita to his fight against Amir Khan has expressed his shock at antisemitic abuse levelled at the Orthodox boxer and his supporters.

During the fight an Orthodox man was assaulted and abuse was hurled at Salita as he made his way to the ring.

The man from Manchester suffered a cut face when a drinks can was hurled at him along with antisemitic abuse during the Salita boxing match.

“After 76 seconds it was all hell let loose,” said the 45-year-old who wore a kippah to the fight.

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Conference guest guilty of hate speech

By Leon Symons, December 4, 2009

One of two South African guests believed to have been invited to a University and College Union conference in London to discuss a boycott of Israel has been found guilty of hate speech.

The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) has upheld a complaint against Bongani Masuku, the international secretary of COSATU, the South African trade union federation, made by the South African Board of Deputies.

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