UK news

Barclays stands firm over tennis star ban

By Marcus Dysch, April 30, 2009

The chief executive of Barclays Bank has responded to campaigners’ concerns about the company’s continuing sponsorship of a tennis tournament from which Israel’s top woman player was barred.

Retired stockbroker and Barclays shareholder Alan Diamond questioned John Varley in front of 1,100 people at Barclays’ annual general meeting last week.

The United Arab Emirates refused to grant a visa to Shahar Peer to compete in the event in February, prompting the withdrawal of support from the Wall Street Journal Europe and the cancellation of the Tennis Channel’s coverage.

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New award for Britain’s Shoah heroes

By Simon Rocker, April 30, 2009

An award is to be created by the government to honour British heroes of the Holocaust who risked their lives to rescue those persecuted by the Nazis during the Second World War.

Liam Byrne, the Minister for the Cabinet Office, announced the initiative on Wednesday, the day after Prime Minister Gordon Brown paid his first visit to Auschwitz, accompanied by his wife Sarah.

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Party drug kills medical student

By Marcus Dysch, April 30, 2009

A 21-year-old medical student has been found dead after taking a “party drug” which the Home Office failed to ban despite warnings of its dangers.

Hester Stewart’s parents paid tribute to their “caring, wonderful girl” and attacked the government for failing to implement plans to outlaw gamma-butyrlactone (GBL) last year.

Ms Stewart, whose family were formerly members of Brighton and Hove Orthodox Hebrew Congregation, died at a house in Brighton on Sunday morning. A container of GBL was found close to her.

It mixes with acid in the stomach to create date-rape drug GHB.

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Equality Bill will help us

By Leon Symons, April 30, 2009

The government’s new Equality Bill, which received its first reading this week, will finally put an end to the problem of students being forced to sit examinations on Shabbat or festival days.

It will also mean that observant Jews will be able to leave early for Shabbat and take festivals off without taking them out of their holiday allowance — and without fear of discrimination by their employer.

The new legislation also bars discrimination in private members’ clubs, so Jews and their guests cannot be refused entry or access to a bar.

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MP: no need to alter arms to Israel policy

By Simon Rocker, April 30, 2009

Andrew Gwynne, parliamentary chairman of Labour Friends of Israel, says there is no need for the government to change its policy over arm sales to Israel following a review of exports announced last week by the Foreign Secretary David Miliband.

Mr Miliband told the Commons that the government was “looking at all extant licences to see whether any of these need to be re-considered in light of recent events in Gaza”.

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Freedom of the City for Prosor

By Isabel Janner, April 30, 2009

From today Israel’s ambassador, Ron Prosor, might be eligible to herd sheep across London Bridge and wander around with his sword drawn — if only it were not for modern day health and safety regulations.

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Against the odds, Israel 61 show goes on

By Leon Symons and Marcus Dysch, April 30, 2009

Anti-Israeli demonstrators left children in tears but failed to disrupt the Zionist Federation’s annual family show to celebrate Israel’s birthday on Tuesday night.

The show was forced to move from the University College London-owned Bloomsbury Theatre at the last minute to the artsdepot in Finchley, north London.

The Bloomsbury claimed that a publicity picture of an Israel Defence Force entertainment troupe, who appeared in the show, breached the ZF’s contention that the event was cultural, and not political. The theatre had received complaints from anti-Israeli groups.

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Jailed fraudster told to hand over £40,000

By Lynda Roughley, April 29, 2009

A Salford businessman involved in a huge international “advance fee” fraud has been ordered to hand over more than £40,000 cash.

A Liverpool Crown Court judge ruled that Michael Rashman had benefited by £1,542,312 but found that his realisable assets were only £42,5000.

Rashman, 55, who is currently serving a sentence of four years and nine months, was ordered by Judge Gerald Clifton to hand over the cash by September next year or he will have to serve an extra three and a half years in prison.

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Hazel Blears in cross-party moves against BNP

By Bernard Josephs, April 29, 2009

A Cabinet minister is shortly to hold talks with her Conservative opposite number to discuss how mainstream parties should combat the threat posed by the far right at next month’s European elections.

Communities Secretary Hazel Blears will be discussing with her Conservative counterpart Caroline Spelman growing fears that the British National Party are on course to win at least one seat. The European elections will be held on June 4.

She revealed details of the meeting at a rally by the Jewish Labour Movement, aimed at mobilising efforts to halt the BNP’s political bandwagon.

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Hitler's paintings sale

April 29, 2009

A collection of 13 paintings by Adolf Hitler sold at auction last week for more than £95,000, far more than expected. They were painted between 1908 and 1914, when Hitler had ambitions to become a full-time artist.

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