UK news

New looted art law effective ‘in autumn’

By Leon Symons, June 11, 2009

A new law to enable British museums and galleries to return looted art to its rightful owners rather than pay compensation should be law by the autumn..

The Holocaust Restitution Bill’s passage onto the statute books will clear the path for as many as 20 claims for the return of artworks in British collections by the end of the year.

The Bill passed the committee stage in the House of Commons on Wednesday with only minor amendments.

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Simcha on the Square is cancelled

By Simon Rocker, June 11, 2009

Simcha on the Square, the annual celebration of Jewish culture in Trafalgar Square, has been cancelled this year because organisers have been unable to secure enough funding from the Greater London Authority.
Instead, the GLA will be sponsoring a beefed-up Klezmer in the Park to take place in Regent’s Park on September 6.

The GLA had underwritten almost half the £100,000 cost of last year’s Simcha, the third since its inauguration.

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Manchester Beth Din may hear JNF row

By Leon Symons, June 11, 2009

he dispute between leading Israel charity JNF and philanthropist Cyril Stein will not be settled by the London Beth Din.
Instead, the charity has said it wanted the argument — over why it has withheld funds raised at a dinner organised by Mr Stein and destined for an Israeli organisation — to be heard by the Manchester Beth Din.
JNF chair Samuel Hayek said this week: “We were asked to submit to the jurisdiction of a beth din. According to the halachic advice that we have been given, if we were invited to a beth din it was our right to determine which one we would want to go to.

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Race charges denied by civil servant

By Leon Symons, June 11, 2009

A senior Foreign Office civil servant has appeared in court and pleaded not guilty to a charge of racially aggravated harassment.

Rowan Laxton, 48, appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday. He was charged with using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour or disorderly behaviour within the hearing or sight of a person likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress.

Mr Laxton remains suspended from his post as head of the Foreign Office’s South Asia desk. He is due to appear in court again in September 9 for an abuse of process hearing.

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Union blocks Friends of Israel stall

By Leon Symons, June 11, 2009

The trade union Unison has rejected a request by Trade Union Friends of Israel (Tufi) to run a stall during its annual conference in Brighton next week.

However, the union gave different reasons for the ban. Tufi has been told that the rejection was because of Israel’s action in Gaza and complaints by regional members. But a Unison member who spoke to deputy general secretary Keith Sonnet was told that as the union was having three Palestinian-run stalls, there was no room for Tufi.

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A kosher menu for a sheikh

By Marcus Dysch, June 11, 2009

As lunch orders go, it is one of the most unusual ever served by kosher caterer Tony Page.

But last week His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, ruler of Dubai, tucked into a London Beth Din-supervised feast at his private residence in Newmarket, Suffolk.

Sheikh Mohammed, whose wealth is estimated at around £11 billion, was hosting a delegation of Jewish business leaders from America — and chose Mr Page’s firm to provide the food.

The menu included a selection of smoked salmon, lamb with herb crust, and baked sea bass. Fresh fruit was served for dessert.

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She’s Jewish, Welsh and Loose… ish

June 11, 2009

ITV’s loose-lipped lunch time show, Loose Women, in which four women interview celebrities and discuss hot topics, got a new presenter this week.

Rachel Agnew, 40, won a national competition to join the regular line-up for five programmes — and perhaps the start of a new career.
She described herself on her audition tape as “Single, Jewish, Welsh and asthmatic”, adding that her husband had left on April Fool’s Day.

Her cheerful sense of self-deprecation won favour with her fellow panellists, who include Coleen Nolan and ex-Corrie Stars Sherrie Hewson and Denise Welch.

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Stamford Hill blasts postcode ‘boycott’

By James Martin, June 11, 2009

People in Stamford Hill are being refused quotes from a leading medical insurer, which says it is investigating “claims abnormalities” in the area.

The Western Provident Association (WPA) has refused to send brochures for its cash plan schemes to a number of JC readers.
They were told no policies were being sold to people from postcodes “under investigation”. These include N15, N16 and E5 — where many strictly Orthodox people live.

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Susan Boyle frenzy at clothes store

June 10, 2009

A Jewish-owned clothes store in Radlett was inundated with paparazzi after Britain’s Got Talent runner-up Susan Boyle came in for some retail therapy, on the recommendation of her Jewish doctor.

Ms Boyle was taken to Lulu & Fred by her private doctor, Dr Sarah Lotzof, just hours after coming out of a private clinic in north London after suffering what was reported as being a breakdown, following her defeat in the final of the ITV reality television show two weeks ago.

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Rachel Stevens mugged at home

June 10, 2009

Three men attacked singer Rachel Stevens at her north London flat, stealing jewellery and leaving her shaken.

The men followed the Strictly Come Dancing star as she arrived at her flat near Regents Park . They are believed to have stolen included her engagement ring, a necklace and her watch.

A spokesman for Stevens, 31, who came second in last year's Strictly Come Dancing show, said the experience had been "distressing" for her.

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: "It's believed the woman returned to her flat and was followed in to the premises by three males.

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