News | Anorak

News Category

FA Cup fail: BBC announce Manchester United to play Chelsea and Spurs

And to the live draw for the FA Cup semi-final. Lynsey Hipgrave is the designated BBC blonde sports presenter tasked with announcing the matches. The balls are pulled from U-bend beneath the FA Cup plug hole by Gianfranco Zola and Petr Cech.

The numbers in the hat are – and if anyone knows the method behind the numbering, do tell:

1 – Tottenham
2 – Manchester United
3 – Chelsea
4 – Southampton

They come out in order: 2, 1, 3, 4.

It’s Manchester United v Tottenham. It’s Chelsea v Southampton. Or as Hipgrave puts it: it’s Spurs v Southampton. It’s Man United v Chelsea.



You had one job.

Posted: 18th, March 2018 | In: Chelsea, manchester united, News, Sports, Spurs | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Danny Welbeck has now dived for Arsenal and Manchester United – now for England

‘The dive gets a big fat 0. Nothing can excuse it, embarrassing,” wrote the Daily Mirror’s John Cross in his awarding of player scores at the end of Arsenal’s Europa League victory over AC Milan. The Sun gave Welbeck 9/10, not mentioning what Cross called Welbeck’s “blatant dive to win a penalty”. Italy’s Corriere della Sera delivered its match verdict: “Affondati da un tuffo” (“Sunk by a dive”).

Welbeck will discover tomorrow whether he will face any retrospective action for that alleged dive. Uefa hold an option to act if the match referee or delegate raise concerns. But there is no word that anyone has done. The Football Association has the power to review the cheating and ban divers for two games. More power to the FA. But they matter not in this instance.

It’s all rather dispiriting. England players diving is all the rage. Gareth Southgate’s latest England squad features the following forwards: persistant diver Dele Alli, Raheem Sterling (“We know that Raheem Sterling dives well, he does that very well” – Arsene Wenger), Danny Welbeck, slippery-booted Jamie Vardy and Marcus Rashford.

As Daniel Taylor notes: “Raheem Sterling and Jamie Vardy have made an art form of initiating contact with the defender and then going down in the penalty area. Marcus Rashford’s dive to win a penalty against Swansea last season was one of the reasons why the FA beefed up its rules.”

Here’s Welbeck playing for Manchester United against Wigan in 2012:



Diving is a horror. But not enough is being done to end it. The players don’t care. The media admires it – Corriere dello Sport actually made Welbeck man of the match. And the clubs just see it as a marketing opportunity:



Carry on diving, then.


Posted: 18th, March 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, News, Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Ellen Barkin gets a lift to Terry Gilliam’s Harvey Weinstein apology

When not teaching us how make Monty Python-style stop animation, Terry Gilliam is opining about Harvey Weinstein. The killer line comes: “Harvey opened the door for a few people, a night with Harvey — that’s the price you pay.”

No word from the disgraced movie mogul, last seen nipping into The Meadows in Arizona for treatment to whatever syndrome his behaviour can be filed under. “The Meadows exists to heal your trauma,” oozes the reassuringly expensive clinic, where Weinstein has been housed since last October. We wish him well with his morbid attraction to actors and plant pots.

And here to help Harvey get well is Gilliam, who tells AFP:

“It is a world of victims. I think some people did very well out of meeting with Harvey and others didn’t. The ones who did, knew what they were doing. These are adults; we are talking about adults with a lot of ambition.”

Variety adds:

Gilliam also claimed that some of the women didn’t actually suffer, but used Weinstein to further their careers, and that he knew women who walked out of meetings with the mogul before getting sexually abused.

Meanwhile… on twitter, Ellen Barkin – who starred in Gilliam’s 1998 film Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas – tweeted:



Whatever can she mean?

terry gilliam weinstein

Posted: 18th, March 2018 | In: Celebrities, News | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

School canes teenagers for participating in national school walkout

17th May 1972: School children holding a demonstration in Hyde Park against caning in schools. (Photo by Evening Standard/Getty Images)


Three pupils at Greenbrier Public School in Arkansas who partook of national school walkout day on March 14, 2018 – part of a protest against gun violence after the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where 17 people were murdered – were reprimanded in the old fashioned way: two swipes of a paddle across the buttocks.

A mother of of the of the spanked students did as she must and took to twitter. @JerusalemGreer tweeted:

My kid and two other students walked out of their rural, very conservative, public school for 17 minutes today. They were given two punishment options. They chose corporal punishment. This generation is not playing around.

This generation got off lightly. Two spanks is not six of the best. When British children walked out of school in 1972,  Prime Minister Edward Heath mobilised MI5 and Special Branch to monitor the schoolchildren revolutionaries. Mr Heath asked Margaret Thatcher, then the Education Secretary, to compile a report which warned: “Some boys and girls are already beginning to develop political attitudes in an immature way…”
The tweeting mother’s son, Wylie Greer told all to the Daily Beast:

Walking out of class at ten on Monday morning was not an easy thing. Many students were vocally insulting and degrading to the idea of the walk-out and anyone who would participate. At 10:00, I walked out of my classroom to a few gaped mouths and more than a few scowls. I exited the building, sat on the bench, and was alone for a few seconds. I was more than a little concerned that I would be the only one to walk out. I was joined by two others eventually, two of the smartest students at the school. We sat outside the front of the building and were approached first by the principal, who asked us “if he could help us” and “if we understood that there would be consequences.” After we answered affirmatively, he went back inside. A few minutes passed and the dean-of-students approached us. He asked “what we were doing,” we told him that we were protesting gun violence. He told us to go inside. We refused.

After the 17 minutes had passed, we re-entered the building and went to our classes. Over the next two hours, all three of us were called individually to talk with the dean-of-students. He offered us two choices of punishment, both of which had to be approved by our parents. We would either suffer two ‘swats’ from a paddle or two days of in-school suspension. All three of us chose the paddling, with the support of our parents.

I received my punishment during 6th period. The dean-of-students carried it out while the assistant principal witnessed. The punishment was not dealt with malice or cruelty, in fact, I have the utmost respect for all the adults involved. They were merely doing their job as the school board and school policy dictated. The ‘swats’ were not painful or injuring. It was nothing more than a temporary sting on my thighs. The dean-of-students did stress however that not all punishments like this ended this way.

I believe that corporal punishment has no place in schools, even if it wasn’t painful to me. The idea that violence should be used against someone who was protesting violence as a means to discipline them is appalling. I hope that this is changed, in Greenbrier, and across the country.

Wylie A. Greer

Class of 2018

Greenbrier High School, Arkansas

The Daily Beast says it tried to speak with Greenbrier Public School, but the assistant principal hung up on them.

Image: 17th May 1972: School children holding a demonstration in Hyde Park against caning in schools.

Posted: 18th, March 2018 | In: News | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Cannabis can cure eczema and psoriasis but the law says tick to the steroids or else

If you suffer from eczema and psoriasis, researchers at the University of Colorado have encouraging news: a compound of cannabis could alleviate your ordeal. The paper’s lead researcher, Dr Robert Dellavalle, says: “There’s a large segment of the population that doesn’t like using steroids, even if they are topical steroids on their skin. [CBD] could be an alternative, natural product for them to try.”

CBD is short for cannabidiol. It’s non-psychoactive. It is not addictive. In 2016, the UK regulatory body the MHRA said CBD was a medicine, meaning anyone wishing to offer it legally in the country should secure a licence. UK law decrees that cannabis possesses no therapeutic value. Sell it without a licence and place yourself in danger of arrest for possession. In short: do not help yourself. If you think CBD helps salve your flaky skin and itchy lesions, know that it doesn’t. Be told.

But the evidence is gathering.

Ian Hamilton, a drug researcher at York University tells MailOnline: ‘There is emerging evidence that chemicals within cannabis might offer potential health benefits. But we will need more than one research trial to be done before we can say whether this works of not.”

In the meanwhile, keep smearing on the steroids. According to the NHS:

Side effects of steroid tablets can include:

indigestion or heartburn
increased appetite, which could lead to weight gain
difficulty sleeping
changes in mood and behaviour, such as feeling irritable or anxious
an increased risk of infections – especially chickenpox, shingles and measles
high blood sugar or diabetes
weakening of the bones (osteoporosis)
high blood pressure
Cushing’s syndrome – symptoms such as thin skin that bruises easily, stretch marks on the thighs, and fat deposits in the face
eye conditions, such as glaucoma and cataracts
mental health problems, such as depression or suicidal thoughts

You’re in discomfort. You want to try a treatment with negligible side-effects. But the State says you can’t try cannabis on pain of law.  The drugs policy is cracked. Whose body is it: yours or theirs?

Posted: 17th, March 2018 | In: News | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Fiery Jack Wilshere has outgrown Wenger’s dull and directionless Arsenal

Let’s not abuse Jack Wilshere for trying to negotiate the best terms at Arsenal. Most fans would agree to an £80,000-a-week deal plus bonuses Arsenal are offering Wilshere to extend his current deal that runs out at this season’s end. But if we thought we could get more, we’d try.

The caveat is, of course, that Wilshere is an Arsenal fan, whose been at the club since age nine. And given theoretic options on offer, most Gunners would take a hungry Wilshere, who fronts up on the pitch, to remain at the club over the moribund and uninspiring Arsene Wenger (wage: £10m a season) and replace the panicky and hapless Granit Xhaka as the team’s fulcrum.

Why does Wilshere need Wenger’s Arsenal? Is Wilshere improving under the Frenchman? Is anyone?

And Jack The Lad has a way out. Everton are ready to pay him a whopping £8 million signing-on fee to join them on a free transfer in June. Will he take that? Surely not. Even a palsied Wenger is better than a pugnacious Sam Allardyce, who’d teach Wilshere what: to better challenge for headers?

Wilshere might have yet to rediscover that burst of pace that took him away from opponents, a skill dented by cruel and lengthy injuries, but he has oodles of perseverance and drive. Arsenal are sensible to temper a new deal given the state of Wilshere’s ankles, but to let go of one of the few players possessed of personality, who connects with fans and looks like he actually cares, would be giving up on much more than one player. It’s be more evidence that Wenger’s regime is ending in abject failure.

Posted: 17th, March 2018 | In: Arsenal, News, Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

The Madeleine McCann Research Group has a theory

Madeleine McCann: a look at the missing child in the news. Journalist Paulo Reis send us a link to news in the Portugal Resident. We open the link with hope that this is news of what happened to the child who vanished in 2003 and became the media’s benchmark for all missing people, a innocent life reduced to hacks pressing ‘f9’ on the keyboard to generate new sensation where only one bald fact remains: child vanishes.

The most recent story on ‘Our Maddie’ in the British press went like this in the Mail: “Kate McCann’s 50th birthday is ‘tinged with sadness’ as she reaches another milestone without her Maddie… but the family hope the police will continue their search.” Who need fact when you can mine emotion and present it as news?


One artist’s impression of the suspect


The story begins with new of something called the “Madeleine McCann Research Group”:

A team of independent investigators working over the last decade has come up with what it believes may have happened to Madeleine McCann.

Believes. That it is. No fact. Just belief.

It is independent of the official story. It doesn’t work to the accepted timeline and it doesn’t involve gypsies, blundering burglars, or Eastern European child smugglers.

What it could be, we know not. Maybe she morphed into an ant and crawled away? Well, some people do believe stuff like that happens. And let’s not get started on alien abduction, portals and Lord Lucan.

Says a member of the investigating group, the theory has been run past professionals from all walks of life, time and again.

Nine out of ten plumbers agree with the theory – it could have happened; but only three out of ten architects.

They have communicated their findings to British prime minister Theresa May, and the Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick… but the six-page letter laying out what they believe to be “credible evidence” appears to have changed nothing (although it was purportedly forwarded to the Grange ‘investigation team’).

What evidence – and evidence of what?

A new letter, translated into Portuguese – containing all the research, and the “detailed file of evidence” on which it has relied – has now been sent to the Portuguese Attorney General as well as newspaper and website journalists in this country.

We get a lot of stuff in the inbox here at Anorak. Some of it is, shall we say, a little odd. Anyhow, time to hear from an unnamed “source”, who opines: “It is a question of hoping one of them will have the courage to undertake what no-one seems willing to conduct in the UK: a serious investigation into what really happened to Madeleine Beth McCann.”

By “serious” they mean more serious that the highly expensive and involving Operation Grange investigation, which since its inception in 2011 has cost the British taxpayer £11m and come up with zilch? Someone at the aforesaid “Madeleine McCann Research Group” then assures us, “it is important that people follow this logically, and without preconceptions – however shocking the conclusion may seem.”



Madeleine McCann vanished in 2003. There are no suspects. No-one has been arrested in connection to any alleged crime linked to her vanishing. Innocence is presumed – we all agree on that, I hope. Any less position is detrimental to reason. And if you think you know what happened to the innocent child, don’t theorise on social media, call the police. They could do with a break. And you might even get s slice of that News of The World reward – anyone know what happen to the big pot of cash on offer?

PS: I’ve seen the document. It makes lots of claims based on supposition and what can be best described as educated guesswork. It throws more shade than light. It alleges claims Madeleine McCann was abducted are a “hoax”.

It begins:

From: The Madeleine McCann Research Group
28 February 2018
To: Exma Sra. Procuradora-Geral da República,
Drª Joana Marques Vidal
Rua da Escola Politécnica, 140
1269-269 LISBOA

Dear Drª Joana Marques VidalTo:

re: The Disappearance of Madeleine McCann: New evidence of what happened to her

We are a group of mainly British researchers. Most of us have studied the disappearance of Madeleine McCann in depth for the past 10 years. Our members and researchers include many people with professional expertise, such as ex-police officers, lawyers, photographers, computer experts and statement analysts.

No named author appears on the text.

To recap: Child vanishes. Such are the facts.

Posted: 17th, March 2018 | In: Madeleine McCann, News | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

YouTube killer gets 180-day prison sentence for fatal stunt

perez youtube shooting


YouTubers Monalisa Perez and her lover Pedro Ruiz III had a plan for fame and fortune. Perez would fire a bullet at Ruiz, who would cheat death by holding a hardcover book (an encyclopaedia) across his chest. They found the weapon: a .50 caliber, semi-automatic Desert Eagle, a powerful handgun. It features the largest legal caliber allowed for a handgun in the U.S. Would the book stop a bullet that could piece armour?

Perez and Ruiz thought so. Stood just a foot apart. Two cameras rolled. Around 30 people, including the couple’s 3-year-old daughter looked on. Perez fired once. The book failed. Ruiz was shot dead. Ruiz called 911 and told the operator what had happened. Last December, Perez admitted second-degree manslaughter. The Star Tribune surveys her punishment:

Monalisa Perez’s punishment, as outlined in an agreement to plead guilty to second-degree manslaughter, is a 180-day jail term, and lifetime bans on possessing a firearm or receiving payment for telling the story of the June shooting of 22-year-old Pedro Ruiz III outside their home in the northwestern Minnesota town of Halstad.

The sentence falls below state sentencing guidelines that would have sent her to prison. Norman County Attorney James Brue said that was proper under the circumstances for the 20-year-old mother of two.


Monalisa Perez


She keeps custody of her two children – and can serve the sentence in 10-day slices.

Is that a tough punishment? Hasn’t she suffered enough?

Posted: 17th, March 2018 | In: News, Strange But True | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Cold case rapist caught after urinating in a plant pot 30 years later

DNA cold case


Isn’t technology great? For 30 years, rapist Eric McKenna was at liberty. The 59-year-old had never been arrested for two rapes in England. In 1983 he raped a woman as she walked home alone Gateshead. And in 1988, he raped another woman also walking alone Newcastle. Both times he was armed with a knife.

But then he made an error: in 2016 he took a wee in a neighbour’s plant pot as part of a sustained campaign of harassment.

The neighbour called the police. They swabbed McKenna, of Clarewood Court, Newcastle. The DNA left at the crimes scenes all those years ago matched McKenna’s.

At Newcastle Crown Court, McKenna was handed a 23 year sentence.

Det Con Mick Wilson, of Northumbria Police, tells us: “In the 1980s we did not have the same forensic techniques available that we do now and we have secured a conviction thanks to those developments. McKenna thought he had got away with his crimes, but a neighbourly dispute and a moment of stupidity has landed him in prison for 23 years.”

Isn’t technology great. The police that failed to link two similar rapes, less so…

Posted: 16th, March 2018 | In: News | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Arsenal in Russia, a rerun of the Polonium derby and World Cup boycotts are for football haters

polonium arsenal


The quarter-final of football’s Europa League pits Arsenal against CSKA Moscow.

There has been no media balls about the English club boycotting the two-legged match, as there have been copious words on England not attending this summer’s World Cup in light of Moscow’s involvement in the attempted murders of Russian exiles Sergei Skripal, 66, and his daughter, Yulia, 33, in a chemical attack in Salisbury.

Any debate about England’s participation in this summer’s tournament invites us to wonder why now and not when the Russians allegedly secured their hosting of the tournament through bribes; annexed Crimea; the time Russian club Spartak Moscow referred to its black players as “chocolates”; or when, having seen the extreme violence after a match between England and Russia in Marseille in 2016, “British government officials” feared the fighting that left two England fans in comas was sanctioned by the Kremlin – a prominent Russian parliamentarian hardly quietened such notions when he  tweeted: “Well done lads, keep it up!”?

Labour politician John Woodcock wants “MPs to push for concerted international action over the World Cup… It should [a boycott] be on the table because of the appalling magnitude of what Russia has done.”

So Harry Kane is sacrificed to prove a politician’s point. All the players who dreamt of playing at a World Cup finals miss out because politicians and wonks who see football less as a fun leisure pursuit than a tool for top-down moral education want it.

But at least Arsenal can play on, and take their chances with the all-powerful, conniving Russians – who have moved on rapidly from bringing down the West through a ‘farm’ of nerds on Facebook and twitter, to unleashing chemical weapons in Wiltshire. And the Gunners might have something to fear. The last time the two clubs met in 2007, traces of polonium (the poison used to kill ex-Russian spy Alexander Litvenenko that very same day) were later found at the Emirates…


Posted: 16th, March 2018 | In: Arsenal, News, Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Snapchat invites users to think about assaulting Rihanna

Snapchat wants to know if its users would prefer to “Slap Rihanna” or “Punch Chris Brown”. There’s no option ‘c’, but if there were it would most likely be: do we know which marketing boffin thought it wise to turn criminal assault into larks? You’ll no doubt recall that in 2009 Chris Brown used his fists to put his then lover Rihanna in hospital. Brown pleaded guilty to felony assault.

Nine years laster, and domestic abuse is rebranded as a leisure activity.


rihanna slap


Snap, the company that operates Snapchat, tells the BBC that the poll was published “in error”.

“The advert was reviewed and approved in error, as it violates our advertising guidelines,” says Snap. “We immediately removed the ad last weekend, once we became aware.”



Rihanna used her Instagram account to respsond:

Now SNAPCHAT I know you already know you ain’t my fav app out there! But I’m just trying to figure out what the point was with this mess! I’d love to call it ignorance, but I know you ain’t that dumb! You spent money to animate something that would intentionally bring shame to DV [Domestic Violence] victims and made a joke of it!!!! This isn’t about my personal feelings, cause I don’t have much of them…but all the women, children, and men that have been victims of DV in the past and especially the ones who haven’t made it out yet….you let us down!  Shame on you. Throw the whole app-oligy away.

And just like that Snap’s stock tumbled 4%.


Posted: 16th, March 2018 | In: Celebrities, News | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Unilever be gone: Marmite maker leaving Britain don’t matter a damn

The maker of Marmite, Unilever, has announced that it is to give up its UK headquarters and move to Holland. This doesn’t matter a damn. No, really, it’s a triviality of no import at all. It’s also nothing to do with Brexit, They even say this themselves:

Unilever, the Anglo-Dutch group, said on Thursday that Brexit played no part in its decision to choose Rotterdam over London for its single legal base.

It’s always useful to take peoples’ word for such things.


Asylum seekers and economic migrants swear by it


Unilever has always been a slightly odd company anyway. It’s long been near half Dutch anyway. And it reports its results, does its internal accounting, in euros as well, something a bit odd for a UK company. But then no large multinational is really from or in any one country anyway. There’s some slight importance, mainly due to where the senior execs get to live, to where head office is. Other than that it doesn’t really make any difference.

The factories are going to remain where the factories are. That doesn’t change when HQ moves. The company will still have its shares listed in London. Because you don’t have to be a UK company to do that. In fact, there are FTSE100 members who don’t do any business at all in the UK, they just use the stock market as the place they’re listed and that’s it.

The change won’t even make any difference to taxes collected. Now, as it wasn’t in the past, we don’t tax foreign profits made by companies with an HQ in the UK. We tax only on the profits they make from business in the UK. And we tax companies without a UK HQ on exactly the same basis. Foreign profits aren’t taxed by us, profits made in the UK are.

Unilever moving HQ to Rotterdam makes very little difference therefore. Sure, a few wine bars will miss the spending of the top execs but other than that, pretty much nothing. No factories will move, tax collected won’t change, it’s all a bit of nothing in proper economic terms.

Shrug, have fun over there folks is the correct response.

Posted: 16th, March 2018 | In: Money, News, The Consumer | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

RIP Jim Bowen: When Gameshow TV Hit The Bullseye

Jim Bowen RIP Bullseye


So it’s farewell to Jim Bowen, my Bullseye Tumblr muse. He was the engine of that show, propping up hours of awkward banter with shy contestants like Colin the carpet tufter from Dridlington (my favourite ever contestant name town and occupation combo) shuffling in their seats, eyes down. They had only come to win a dinner service, maybe a luggage set, they didn’t want all this razzle dazzle.  He chatted to them about their home town, their family, their job, and would valiantly press on whenever the banter couldn’t overcome the nerves and didn’t land, as it once didn’t with a shopkeeper from Diss who took umbrage at Jim saying he had DISS-satisfied customers. The man disagreed (DISSagreed!) Jim explained what he meant. “I know what you meant,” he muttered irritably; right, on with the show!



Jim really came into his own during the quiz portion of the show, routinely asking anyone who responded to a question with a self doubting tone “are you asking me or telling me?” They would confirm that they were indeed telling him and he was duly appeased. Except for one time, when a woman threw him by saying “I’m asking you”. He paused and in a low sombre voice said “I’d prefer it if you’d tell me”.

He wasn’t very consistent bless him, oscillating between violently and unnecessarily shushing the always silent audience whilst the contestants considered their answer and then occasionally jabbering all over their thinking time. My favourite such occasion was when he asked a woman about a cathedral that had burned down “…which cathedral was it?…it was a cathedral…but…but it’s got another name for a cathedral” MOOOOOOOO. Thanks for that Jim.



Another classic was when he spent a man’s thinking time telling him he looked like Rumpole of the Bailey. The man looked annoyed at this comparison and then came Bully’s roar which annoyed him further. Afterwards Jim apologised to the glowering contestant for offending him but maintained that he did look like him.



That man should count himself lucky that at least he didn’t get the I’m surprised you didn’t know that” treatment on a question about STDs.



The quiz section led to everyone’s favourite part of the night; the famed prize board. Where Jim would get to announce such bizarre prize hauls as “pound puppies and fine wines” (GAMBLE!) and physically drag people to what they had won and also to what they hadn’t won. Like when he pushed two unhappy contestants up onto a beach set and made them sit unhappily in cane chairs so they could watch footage of a holiday they had failed to obtain, having lost all of their other prizes in the process. But they had a good day and that is all that matters. Plus you got a tankard win or lose.

I will leave you with a clip of Jim being serenaded by some very 1980s men for far too long. His face in the middle is wonderful.



Thank you Mr Bowen for all of the awkward moments, the great chat, the deliberately bad jokes, and for a show that I always find gives me the biggest of hugs whenever I watch it.

James Bowen (born Peter Williams; 20 August 1937 – 14 March 2018).

Posted: 15th, March 2018 | In: Celebrities, News, TV & Radio | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Free expression attacked as protestors invade London University Libertarian event

Students at King College, London, never got to hear American-Israeli writer Yaron Brook, chairman of the Ayn Rand Institute, and YouTuber Carl Benjamin address the school’s Libertarian Society at the Edmond J. Safra lecture theatre. Their talk was disrupted by people dressed in black masks who consider the speakers to be “‘white supremacists” and “fascists”.

The audience rowed with the anti-free activists. Apparently punches were thrown. Students say windows were smashed and smoke bombs let off. A “safe space marshal” (cost per hour: £12*) was injured. And then the whole building was cleared.



The great irony is that the assault on free expression was reportedly arranged by the authoritarian Antifa – a self-declared anti-fascist group.

This shutting down of debate is  sickness. These censors’ pursuit of a monocular world view is wholly reductive and palpably ignorant of what happens when individuals are intimated and become less free to speak their minds and test their own ideas, however ‘controversial’, in the arena of public discourse.

The Libertarian Soiety has made the following statement:

Last night an event organised by the KCL Libertarian Society invited controversial speakers Carl Benjamin and Yaron Brook. The event had to be cancelled after some people forced their way into Kings College London. The Police attended and we are fully co-operating with their investigation. KCLSU condemns the use of violence in any situation.

Universities create environments in which debate from all sides on issues of political, scientific, moral, ethical and religious significance is possible, and King’s is no exception. Our role is to ensure that all parties feel safe and secure in expressing their views without fear of violence of intimidation. We take our responsibilities to provide a safe environment for free, peaceful and respectful dialogue very seriously. KCLSU and King’s will be reviewing the incident to decide on appropriate action to be taken.

Responding to the incident, Momin Saqib, President of KCLSU said, “I am appalled by the acts that were perpetrated in King’s College London yesterday evening. I strongly respect and encourage the right to freedom of speech, the right to challenge each other and the right to peaceful protest. It is unfortunate that the event was marred by violence by people who took an extreme and an unacceptable approach. My heart goes out to the guards who got physically and mentally hurt and I wish them a speedy recovery.

Universities are places to facilitate intellectually stimulating discussions, environments for constructive debates, places where ideas get tested, which are all done in a bid for the advancement of human knowledge and the betterment of our society. However, any actions which contravene peaceful protest will not be accepted.

Hatred: whether it is based on – race, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, gender identity, trans status, socio-economic status, or ideology or culture is totally unacceptable and I strongly condemn it and I will always QUESTION it.

Everyone has the right to protest peacefully but any forms of aggression and violence are completely unacceptable.”

Amid the argy-bargy, someone managed to film a segment:



Anyhow. If you fancy policing free speech at King’s apply below.



Safe Space MArshall King's College

Via – ‘a Safe Space breech” [sic]


Work as an Antifa free speech patroller is believed to be unpaid.


Posted: 14th, March 2018 | In: News | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Poor and white Telford girls are the wrong kind of victims

From Rochdale and Rotherham and Oxford, we’re now reading grim news of horrendous sexual abuse in Telford, Shropshire. The Mirror reports on the claims that over 1,000 girls, some as young as 11, were raped – three were murdered – by gangs of predominately Muslim, Asian-heritage men over four decades. Huge news, then. Or not.


Sunday Mirror TElford

Sunday Mirror – Telford


One day on from the story only the Daily Mail led with it.  No other paper thought it worth a front page, including the Guardian, which champions the #MeToo movement, and The Times, which went big with the story of how Damien Green MP allegedly touched Tory activist Kate Maltby’s knee and attempted to seduce her. Why is that the suffering of 1,000 beaten and raped young women and girls from an unfashionable part of the world is ignored but so much space is afforded to better off, better educated and better looking victims?

The world knows what actress Rose McGowan says she experienced at the hands of movie mogul and “monster” Harvey Weinstein, but we don’t know what happened to Charlene Downes, the poor, white girl who vanished in Blackpool, Lancashire. Maybe if she’d been seen in the company of a famous face, we would have?


Joanne Williams notes on the #KneeToo movement:

The lack of comment on the Telford abuse scandal exposes the hypocrisy at the heart of the #MeToo movement. High-profile campaigners announce time and again that they are not driven by self-interest, but from a desire to help women less fortunate than themselves. Jane Merrick told all because, ‘I knew that by failing to act I was letting down not only my 29-year-old self, but also any other women who may have been subjected to the same behaviour since. More importantly, I would be failing to protect other women in future.’ Kate Maltby made a similar declaration: ‘It is true that I have many privileges that other women do not. That is why I owed it to others to come forward. When we see white, financially secure women saying #MeToo, we should ask: where are the voices that we are not hearing?’ Yet Merrick and Maltby, for all their self-sacrifice and sisterly compassion, have so far had nothing to say about the rape of teenage girls in Telford.

Time’s Up, the celebrity #MeToo spin-off, launched a fundraiser to pay legal fees for victims of sexual harassment and assault seeking justice. The aim, it said, was to ‘lift up the voices, power and strength of women working in low-wage industries where the lack of financial stability makes them vulnerable to high rates of gender-based violence and exploitation’. More than $16.7million was raised in less than a month. The British actress Emma Watson, one of the most generous and high-profile donors, posted on social media: ‘The clock’s been ticking on the abuse of power. I stand in solidarity with women across every industry to say #TIMESUP on abuse, harassment, and assault. #TIMESUP on oppression and marginalisation.’ Only, it seems, some women are more deserving of solidarity than others; some women’s voices are more worthy of being lifted up.

Too true. The story has yet to catch. The Sun cover it lightly on page 27; and the Express on page 11. The Mail uses the horror to give the BBC a kick, citing MPS “from across the political divide” who accused the BBC of “failing to cover the Telford scandal adequately”. What is adequate for what one victim calls a “whirlwind of rape” meted out to her between the age of 14 and 18? The Mail has the story on page 22, after first covering news of a new Harry and Meghan TV movie and Ken Small’s painting, which looks a lot like a Canaletto, but isn’t. Even the Mirror has it on page 5.


It’s not all about #MeToo. It’s also about them.

Posted: 14th, March 2018 | In: Key Posts, News | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Salma Hayek dresses like a Daily Mail reader

The hard working Daily Mail Reporter was helping readers sat in their Comfi-Gowns and support stockings identify the “Worst dressed women” at the Oscars.

Eyes are drawn to Salma Hayek, who came as a “Shiny disaster”. Her “dress was baffling to behold… serving as more of an eye sore than a style statement”. What a horror show.


Salma Hayek daily mail horror


And you too can get the look because just one line down, the same readers are told: “Shimmer in sequins like Salma wearing a Gucci gown… Whoever said sequins can’t be worn all over on a maxi gown must’ve not seen how good Salma Hayek rocked this one at the 2018 Oscars.”

Who said it? The Daily Mail did a moment earlier.


Salma Hayek daily mail horror


Baffling stuff.

Price on application.

Posted: 14th, March 2018 | In: Celebrities, Fashion, News | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

National Geographic comes clean over its smutty, racist past

It’s now the turn of the dentist’s waiting room to revisit its past with candour. Finally, the old magazines are being cast out. National Geographic has issued a mea culpa over its past. The magazine has hired University of Virginia associate professor John Edward Mason to trawl the archives and expose any and all evidence of racism he can find. Items like a 1916 photo of Australian Aborigines with the caption “South Australian Blackfellows” – “savages” who “rank lowest in intelligence of all human beings”.

Mason notes that until the 1970s non-white Americans were only portrayed as manual workers or domestic staff.

And there was the sex.

“Teenage boys could always rely, in the ’50s and ’60s, on National Geographic to show them bare-breasted women as long as the women had brown or black skin,” Mason tells NPR. “I think the editors understood this was frankly a selling point to its male readers. Some of the bare-breasted young women are shot in a way that almost resembles glamour shots.”

“Through most of its history, National Geographic, in words and images, reproduced a racial hierarchy with brown and black people at the bottom, and white people at the top,” says Mason..



The magazine’s Editor-in-Chief Susan Goldberg explains why the audit was needed:

I’m the tenth editor of National Geographic since its founding in 1888. I’m the first woman and the first Jewish person—a member of two groups that also once faced discrimination here. It hurts to share the appalling stories from the magazine’s past. But when we decided to devote our April magazine to the topic of race, we thought we should examine our own history before turning our reportorial gaze to others.

Race is not a biological construct, as writer Elizabeth Kolbert explains in this issue, but a social one that can have devastating effects. “So many of the horrors of the past few centuries can be traced to the idea that one race is inferior to another,” she writes. “Racial distinctions continue to shape our politics, our neighborhoods, and our sense of self.”

Times change. Much of the magazine’s photography has been incredibly good. The acid test is in whether or not people are still willing to pay for it…

Posted: 14th, March 2018 | In: News | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Stormy Daniels will reveal all about her candlelit romance with Trump if he returns $130,000 hush money

You know how it goes: you shag the billionaire and take his hush money. Then the billionaire becomes president of the US of And you realise you undervalued your services. And so it is that adult film star Stormy Daniels says she not longer wants the $130,000 she claims Donald Trump paid her to remain tight lipped about their affair. She thinks it best that she return the cash and place her story on the public record.


Stormy Daniels

Hush ‘n’ tell


Daniels, nee Stephanie Clifford, has laid out her plan in a letter to Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen. She has set a deadline of Friday for the return of the cash. She will then be at liberty to “speak openly and freely about her prior relationship with the president and the attempts to silence her and use and publish and text messages, photos and videos relating to the president that she may have in her possession, all without fear of retribution or legal liability.”

“This has never been about the money,” Clifford’s lawyer, Michael Avenatti, told NBC New. It’s the principle, right? “It has always been about Ms. Clifford being allowed to tell the truth. The American people should be permitted to judge for themselves who is shooting straight with them and who is misleading them. Our offer seeks to allow this to happen.”


Generous it is, indeed. And should Trump fall into a a trap marked ‘TRAP’ with huge arrow pointing at it, we can all marvel at how a man who outlined his mating ritual as “Grab her by the pussy” really treats women he fancies.

You can read Daniels’ letter in full here.


Posted: 13th, March 2018 | In: Celebrities, Money, News, Politicians | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Former Liverpool star Jamie Carragher cops a suspension for Manchester United fan attack

Photos of Jamie Carragher, the former Liverpool defender, spitting at a teenage girl are all over the media. Given his tongue chewing, whale-voice way of speaking, we first thought the huge spray was Carra’s mouth wrestling with “Ryan Sessègnon scores screamer”. But then the story came that after Liverpool’s defeat to Manchester United, Carragher had been the target of banter as he drove home. Sat in traffic, a passing United fan wound down his window and reminded Carragher of the final score: “Unlucky Jamie lad – 2-1!” The driver was with his 14-year-old daughter. Carragher showed that he’d lost none of his old bile and gobbed at the girl sat in the passenger seat.

It’s all on camera.


jamie carragher spitting


What happens next is a sign that football punditry is not as far removed from the on-field action as first appears. Team Sky Sports have suspended Carragher. He calls it “a moment of madness” – “four or five seconds I can’t explain”, calling to mind the “It’s not the kind of thing he’d do” defence favoured by manager’s explaining ‘Chopper’s’ studs-up challenge on the opposition nimble midfielder.

Carragher adds:

“It’s devastating for the family involved and I’m sorry for my actions. I called the family, obviously they were upset last night. That is my biggest regret, that a 14-year-old girl was caught up in the middle of this.”

Not in the middle. More full in the face.

And just like in actual football, after the suspension, comes the expert punditry. So here’s former England and Manchester United defender Gary Neville to review the action. “I’ve just watched Jamie Carragher say sorry,” he said. “No excuses, he’s made a big mistake… I’ve been on TV for three years with him and, in my opinion, this isolated incident shouldn’t stop us working together.”

But where are you both going to work?


Posted: 12th, March 2018 | In: Liverpool, manchester united, News, Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Jamie Oliver’s Blitzkrieg on your pizzas

Oi, fatso. Make that, oi, fatso suspect – put that box of fried chicken down and step away. News is that Britain needs to go on a diet – and it’s not one of lard, dripping and sugar. Public Health England (PHE) chief executive Duncan Selbie tells us: “Children and adults routinely eat too many calories, and it’s why so many are overweight or obese.”

If you eat more than you need you get fatter. Who knew?


Jamie Oliver knows more about you than you do


But what does it have to do with him? Lots, apparently. PHE says all fast food should contain 20 per cent less calories. PHE says if we don’t do as it wants us to, it will ask the government to re-introduce rationing. It won’t happen? You sure about that? The tax on sugary drinks is introduced next month.

Dr Alison Tedstone, PHE chief nutritionist, adds: “The evidence is clear that just telling people what to do won’t work. To reverse what’s been decades in the making, we need sustained action across the factors driving poor diets and weight gain.”


The British Minister for Food between April 1940 and 11 November 1943, Lord Woolton, receiving a cup of tea from a mobile canteen.

The British Minister for Food between April 1940 and 11 November 1943, Lord Woolton, receiving a cup of tea from a mobile canteen.


It’s Woolton Pie for all, you know, the pastry dish of vegetables dished up to suffering Britons in the Second World War when rationing was a necessity for all but the rich and royal. Frederick Marquis, 1st Lord Woolton (1883–1964), gave full throat to his love of the low-everything dish after he became Minister of Food in 1940. Was it liked? The Times noted that Woolton went full Jamie Oliver:

When Woolton pie was being forced on somewhat reluctant tables, Lord Woolton performed a valuable service by submitting to the flashlight camera at public luncheons while eating, with every sign of enjoyment, the dish named after him

And right on cue is our Own Minister of Fat Jamie Oliver to tell The Times: “When you get trapped in the disadvantaged cycle, the concept of middle-class logic doesn’t work. What you see is parents who aren’t even thinking about five fruit and veg a day, they’re thinking about enough food for the day… We can’t judge our equivalent of logic on theirs because they’re in a different gear, almost in a different country.”

Poor of taste and poor of intellect. Let’s colonise these cultural pygmies now. These Untermensch need schooling with new laws and restrictions. Thankfully, the minted Oliver and his elite sponsors will invade zis other country and teach the Britishers vat ist best fur zem. Grab your vegetables and zet zer blender to Blitzkerig! It’s war.


Posted: 12th, March 2018 | In: News | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

25% of People in Wales Are in Poverty – Nonsense If We Count Properly

A new report out insisting that 25% of the Welsh are living in poverty. Our conclusion might therefore be that we’d not like to have Labour running the UK as they have been Wales these past few decades. But that would be partial, extreme and unfair. The truth being that we’re measuring what poverty is wrongly:

Growing numbers of Welsh families are at risk of being trapped in poverty, a major report warns today.

Research by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation shows Wales has a higher rate of poverty than England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

What poverty is depends upon how we measure poverty. For the world as a whole we use the World Bank’s measure, $1.90 a day. There is no one at all in the UK living at this standard, not one single person.

Within the UK we use something called “relative” poverty. This is less than 60% of median household income. If you live in a household which gets less than 60% of £25,000 or so a year then you’re in poverty. Sure, it’s not great riches but it sure ain’t the same as that global poverty. Also, note that this is after benefits, this is total income, not just that from work. But note one more thing – that’s the national median income.

And incomes vary over the country. More than that, the cost of living varies over the country. It’s not just housing either – a pint’s cheaper outside London, outside the SE, than it is within either of them. But we don’t account for that at all. And as anyone who has ever tried it knows, trying to live in London on £25,000 a year is very different from trying to live on that in Abergavenny is.

The reality is that many of those described as “poor” in Wales actually have a higher standard of living – well, except for being in Wales – than many of those in London on nominally higher incomes. Britain does have regional variations in wages but it also has large regional variations in costs. Once we account for those differences, both of those sets of differences, much of reported poverty simply disappears.

The biggest problem we’ve got with poverty in the UK is that we just don’t measure it the right way.

Posted: 9th, March 2018 | In: Money, News | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Former Arsenal star sent off as life imitates Wotsits

Referee Dean Hulme asked former Arsenal player Sanchez Watt for his name. Watt, playing for Hemel Hempstead Town in a National League South game against East Thurrock United was going into the ref’s book.

“Watt,” said the 27-year-old. Hulme believed he was saying “what?” and sent him off for dissent. The card was soon rescinded.

“It was a human error,” Hemel Hempstead chairman Dave Boggins told BBC Sport. “The referee was man enough to rectify it. I think everybody found it amusing afterwards – including the referee. He came into the boardroom after the game and explained how he had made the mistake. He was very apologetic and saw the funny side of it. He was a good ref on the night to be fair to him.”

Watt a Wally:


Posted: 7th, March 2018 | In: Arsenal, News, Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Arsenal shocker: 12% of Gooners want Wenger to stay

Don’t open those eyes yet, Arsenal fans: Arsene Wenger is still there. But the Arsenal Supporters Trust (AST) has done its bit to defenestrate the manager and prick a supine, greedy board and absentee owner into action. AST members voted overwhelmingly against the Frenchman remaining as manager beyond the end of this season.

A whopping 88% of fans responded to an AST survey saying that they do not support Wenger continuing in charge for another season – last year it was 78%, and Arsenal still gave him a new two-year deal.

As Arsenal FC go full ostrich, we can marvel that 12% of Gooners want Wenger to stay. The same 12% also consider that dream of being tied naked to Nelson’s Column and forced to watch Gary Linker discuss Spurs matches to be the best they’ve ever had. Masochists, eh, they’ve never suffered enough.

Meanwhile, the Times says Wenger spent the hours after Arsenal’s defeat to the mighty Brighton telling his coaching staff that he is “the best man to take Arsenal forward”. He will not break his contract. So Arsenal will have to sack him.

Over to the hapless Ivan Gazidis, then, the Arsenal chief executive. The AST will hand him the results of its survey at a fans’ forum ahead of the match against Watford on Sunday. The meeting promises to be more interesting than the match.

Posted: 6th, March 2018 | In: Arsenal, News, Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Children failed by bigoted teachers and poor education

Does a teacher have the right to a life outside school? A Florida middle school teacher has been suspended from class for working nights as a white nationalist podcast host. The Huffington Post claims Dayanna Volitich, who teaches – get this – social studies at Crystal River Middle School, was also ‘Tiana Dalichov’, host of far-Right podcast show Unapologetic. The HuffPost alleges Volitich “suggests Muslims be eradicated from the earth and believes anti-Semitic conspiracy theories”. Part of the show reportedly features the following exchange on far-Right educators getting into schools:

GUEST: “They don’t have to be vocal about their views, but get in there! Be more covert and just start taking over those places.”

VOLITICH: “Right. I’m absolutely one of them.”

Its reminiscent of the Trojan Horse story in Britain. In 2014 Birmingham City Council was investigating a number of schools in the city after “receiving a copy of an anonymous letter referring to Operation Trojan Horse – a plot by some Muslim groups to install governors at schools. It claims responsibility for ousting four head teachers.”

Volitich’s school has issued a statement on Facebook:

On Friday, March 2, 2018 the Citrus County School District was made aware of a concerning podcast by a Huffington Post reporter. The reporter indicated they believed one of the persons participating in the podcast was a teacher at Crystal River Middle School. The Human Resources department was notified and an investigation was initiated immediately. The teacher has been removed from the classroom and the investigation is ongoing. Pursuant to Florida Statute an open investigation and materials related to it are exempt from public record and cannot be discussed until the investigation is complete.

If true, perhaps an anti-intellectualist like Volitich could find work as a home schooler?

David Allen Turpin and Louise Turpin home schooled their 13 children. Mr Turpin was registered in the state of California as the headmaster of Sandcastle Day School. In the school’s final year of business, the Turpins’ six school-age children were the only enrolled pupils. The Turpins are accused of abusing their children. Rachel Coleman, of the Coalition for Responsible Home Education, tells the Los Angeles Times: “Current law provides nothing to stop families like the Turpins from using home schooling to isolate and imprison their children.”

Why bother to get your weird, bigoted and agenda-driven views into an existing school when you can just set up your own?

You might ask what is the purpose of school? Is it to indoctrinate children with a monocular curriculum or to educate them through access to knowledge of the world and the dead?

In the UK, over 350 unregistered schools serving more than 33,000 children operate, according to Ofsted, the education regulator. “I have huge concerns about unregistered schools and the lack of regulation and inspection,” Robert Halfon, head of the Commons education committee, told The Times. “Any school of any kind shouldn’t be unregistered. There shouldn’t be room for grey areas. Even if they have less than five pupils and are open less than 18 hours they should be inspected and registered.”

The Times obtained five extremist books relating to Islam, including Dos and Do Nots of Islam and The Islam Way of Life. One was by Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips, a Jamaican-born extremist Muslim preacher who has been banned from Britain. Concerns have also been raised about illegal Christian and Jewish schools.

The Times then lists “Lessons for children”, but is unclear about the source of what follows. Another article in the paper says “Take home schooling out of the shadows”. So much for the thousands of parents who surely teach home-schooled children to be curious, doubtful, challenged and well-rounded – around 1.8millions children in the US are home-schooled. We don’t see many examples of the good. But we do see the alleged “lessons”, which are not exactly enlightened and progressive:

“It is lawful to give slight punishment to the wife for her adverse behaviour but it is not permissible to beat her black and blue.”

“If a sweet thing is left uncovered, swarms of dirty creatures are liable to prey upon it and corrupt it. Similar is the case of a woman. The current wave of rape incidents in regions where public exposure of women prevails, strengthens this argument beyond doubt.”

“Celibacy is an unlawful criminal indulgence in sinful violations involving sex. Socially it is a disruptive and destructive act amounting to disobedience to Allah.”

“Homosexuality is not only an abomination but also unbecoming to human dignity.”

Neil Basu, deputy assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, has gone on the record, claiming “segregated, isolated communities, unregulated education and home schooling are a breeding ground for extremists and future terrorists”. Time to make the British method more appealing then – less arbitrary in its authoritarianism that erodes freedoms hard won in the name of fighting the War on Terror and keeping us all ‘safe’.

Of course, if you’re rich, things can be different:

Emma Thompson and her husband, Greg Wise… withdrew Gaia, their 16-year-old daughter, from her private school in north London in the run-up to her GCSEs. “She loves learning and she’s terribly focused and hard-working,” Wise has explained, “but she didn’t like the sausage factory of formal education. I’ve no argument with that.” She is now taught by top tutors in a shed in their garden.

There’s more than one way to teach children. And if school is to be valuable and valued, we should be asking why adults can’t do more in the service of educating children, who should be equipped with the tools to judge a lesson or an opinion for themselves.

Posted: 6th, March 2018 | In: News | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Bradley Wiggins didn’t cheat and he never asked to be a national treasure

What would we think of Team Sky and Sir Bradley Wiggins if they were Russian, if the Tour de France winner and gold medal Olympian was a recipient of the Order of Saint Andrew the Apostle the First-Called and not a knighthood? Would we roll out eyes, sneer and demand they get thee hence?

The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) select committee says Sir Bradley Wiggins and Team Sky “crossed an ethical line” by using drugs allowed under anti-doping rules to enhance performance instead of just for medical need. Our judgemental MPs are, however, “not in a position” to know the content of a jiffy bag delivered to Wiggins at the 2011 Criterium du Dauphine. Team Sky says the jiggy bag contained a legal decongestant. But in the world of big-money sport, wherein vast sums are invested in shaving milliseconds off times and to give your athlete a ‘competitive’ advantage – lighter, stronger bikes; better fabrics; the most energy efficient nutrients; and the drugs – the proof was lacking and the MPs says there is “no “reliable evidence” to back up Team Sky’s claim.

“Drugs were being used by Team Sky, within World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) rules, to enhance the performance of riders and not just to treat medical need,” the DCMS committee report adds. Team Sky “strongly refutes” the “serious claim that medication has been used by the team to enhance performance”. Wiggins has also responded. “I find it so sad that accusations can be made, where people can be accused of things they have never done, which are then regarded as facts. I strongly refute the claim that any drug was used without medical need.”

Oh, and there’s more:

The long-awaited report, entitled “Combatting Doping in Sport”, also states Lord Coe, the president of athletics’ world governing body the IAAF, gave “misleading answers” in evidence about his knowledge of doping allegations in Russian athletics, before they were made in a German television documentary in 2014.

The DCMS committee was also “shocked” that British four-time Olympic champion athlete Sir Mo Farah received an injection of the legal supplement L-carnitine before the 2014 London Marathon that was not recorded on Farah’s medical records.

It’s what we don’t know that nags and pervades UK sport with a stink.

What was in that jiffy bag?

Former British Cycling and Team Sky doctor Richard Freeman received a ‘mystery package’ for Wiggins on 12 June 2011 – the final day of the Criterium du Dauphine in France, an event Wiggins won.

At the request of Freeman, Sutton arranged for then British Cycling coach Simon Cope to bring the package – he claims left for him in a sealed ‘jiffy-bag’ – out to La Toussuire for the end of the race.

Both Cope and Sutton deny knowing what was in the package, although Sutton told the committee he believes Freeman did administer the substance in it to Wiggins after the race, adding that Freeman had told him: “Brad’s been sorted.”

Ukad started an investigation into the contents of the package in September 2016, following an allegation, also seen by the DCMS committee, that it contained triamcinolone,

As the DCMS report notes, if Wiggins was given triamcinolone on 12 June 2011 without a TUE, it would constitute an anti-doping rule violation. Get caught misbehaving and you’re in line for a possible two-year ban and the loss of results. Wiggins won the Tour. In 2012 he won Olympic gold. But so what? “If” is not proof.

But there are records, right? There’s data on everything a top athlete does. So there are records of what was in the bag? After all, this is big money we’re talking about, to say nothing of athletes’ reputations. Er, no. Team Sky can’t produce the medical records. Say the MPs: “Such failure was unprofessional and inexcusable, and that failure is responsible for the damaging cloud of doubt which continues to hang over this matter.”

That there’s any doubt is shameful. It’s not like Team Sky had no warning.

Twelve years before, two months before the start of the 1999 Tour de France, US Postal team director Johan Bruyneel asked one of the team’s soigneurs, Emma O’Reilly, to travel from the south of France to Piles in Spain to pick up a medical product and take it to France before handing it on to Lance ­Armstrong.

O’Reilly never knew what the pills were but was sure they were not paracetamol. She met Armstrong in the car park of a McDonald’s restaurant outside Nice and handed over the drugs.

Lance Armstrong turned out to be a monumental cheat.

Team Says responds: “We take full responsibility for mistakes that were made. We wrote to the committee in March 2017 setting out in detail the steps we took in subsequent years to put them right, including, for example, the strengthening of our medical record keeping.”

Pad. Pen. Computers, Mobiles. Crayon. Paper. Photo copiers. Tablets. Faxes. Cameras. Memory sticks. Had only – had only – Team Sky kept some more records. But you live and you learn, eh.

The BBC:

In a letter revealed by the BBC in January, Ukad claimed its investigation had been “hindered” and may have even been “potentially compromised” by British Cycling’s failure to report doping allegations sooner.

The body criticised the “lack of accurate medical records” held by British Cycling. Freeman kept Wiggins’ medical records on a laptop that was stolen while he was on holiday in Greece in 2014, and no back-up copy was made.

Dang! Those foreign swine! But as the Greek police get on the case – those bungling clots have found nothing – we learn that Freeman” submitted written evidence for the report but was too unwell to appear at a DCMS hearing, before resigning from British Cycling in October because of ill health”. Let’s hope his own doctor keeps proper records and backs them up.


Winner of Sports Personality of the Year 2012, Bradley Wiggins accepts his award onstage from The Duchess of Cambridge during the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Awards 2012 at ExCeL Arena, London.


The upshot is that Wiggins, a supremely talented athlete possessed of incredible drive to succeed, is mired. He didn’t cheat. He didn’t ask to be knighted and feted by the great and good, turned from athlete to national treasure and a force for moral right. There’s a big stripe of subjectivity running through the story of drugs and Team Sky. Sport is all about rules. You find the limits by pushing. We’ve yet to see any proof that Team Sky broke them. But we have seen how the State latches on to sporting success. And we should wonder why.

As for what was suspected, David Walsh gave his Sunday Times readers the side-eye in September 2016. Walsh has been an invaluable source of news on competitive road cycling and Team Sky. So when he writes, we listen:

With the benefit of hindsight, there is irony in Wiggins expressing fears about other teams using needles when he was interviewed before the 2011 Tour. The day before he had received a 40mg injection of the corticosteroid triamcinolone acetonide. Freeman had made the application and supported it with testimony from ENT (ear, nose and throat) consultant Simon Hargreaves. Wiggins did suffer from asthma and had received three TUEs in 2009 that allowed him to inhale salbutamol and two other drugs. Inhalation of these drugs is not performance-enhancing and they can now be used without a TUE. A 40mg injection of triamcinolone is very different and though some experts claim it is not performance-enhancing, the experts by experience (bike riders who have abused it for decades) argue the opposite.

Twelve months later, four days before the start of the 2012 Tour de France, Wiggins received the same injection, 40mg of triamcinolone. Again it was Freeman who applied for the TUE, and UCI’s Mario ­Zorzoli’s name on the approval slip. Ten months later, 12 days before the start of the 2013 Giro d’Italia, another application for triamcinolone was granted.

A year later Wiggins won the 2014 Tour of California as his road racing career began to wind down. That victory came during California’s “hay fever season” but now there was no longer a need for a TUE.

But let’s not just look at cycling. British sport is reeling:

And to UK Athletics, whose former chief medical officer Dr Rob Chakraverty – now the Football Association’s chief doctor for the senior men’s England football team – the MPs want investigated by the General Medical Council (GMC), after being “shocked” he gave an injection of L-carnitine to athlete Sir Mo Farah without recording the dose on medical records.

The upshot is that British sport is a professional industry. Athletes, clubs, coaches and owners seek advantage where they can. It might not be in the Corinthian spirit to take drugs, but we do so love a winner.

Posted: 5th, March 2018 | In: Key Posts, News | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0