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Man ‘plotted terror attacks on London tourist hot spots’, court hears

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EPA

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The London Pride parade was among targets, the court heard

A man who was cleared over a sword attack on police outside Buckingham Palace went on to plan a series of terror attacks, a court has heard.

Mohiussunnath Chowdhury, 28, was found not guilty of a terror charge over an incident outside the palace in 2017, Woolwich Crown Court heard.

He is accused of later planning attacks on places including London’s Madame Tussauds and London Pride parade.

Mr Chowdhury, of Kirkwood Road, Luton, denies the charge.

He appeared in court alongside his sister, Sneha Chowdhury, 25, who is accused of doing nothing to stop his plans.

Ms Chowdhury, of the same address, denies two charges of failing to disclose information about acts of terrorism.

In the attack outside Buckingham Palace in August 2017, two unarmed officers suffered cuts to their hands when they fought to disarm Mr Chowdhury as he shouted repeatedly “Allahu Akbar” (God is the greatest).

The prosecution told the court that after he was cleared at the Old Bailey, Mr Chowdhury bragged to undercover officers who had him under surveillance that he had deceived the jury.

He also unwittingly confided in them plans to target busy London tourist attractions, with the Madam Tussauds museum and an open-top tourist bus among the potential targets discussed, prosecutor Duncan Atkinson QC said.

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Sneha Chowdhury is accused of doing nothing to stop her brother’s plans

“Believing them to be as sincerely committed as he was, he told them of his devotion to the cause of violent Islamic extremism, the basis for this devotion and the skewed religious beliefs that underpinned it,” Mr Atkinson said.

He said Mr Chowdhury was “motivated by dreams of martyrdom for the cause of Islam, and inspired by preachers of hate”.

“The object was to unleash death and suffering on non-Muslim members of the public who happened to be present, using a firearm, sword and even a van as part of an attack,” he said.

The prosecutor told jurors they could consider Chowdhury’s “assertions” to the undercover officers that he was “indeed trying to carry out a terrorist attack in 2017 and that he had deceived the earlier jury that acquitted him of it”.

Mr Atkinson added: “Whatever the position in 2017, he was unquestionably preparing for terrorism in 2019.”

Mr Atkinson said Mr Chowdhury’s sister had “better reason than anyone” to understand what her brother was thinking and wanting to achieve, but she did nothing to stop him.

Mr Chowdhury is charged with one count of engaging in conduct in preparation of terrorist acts, collecting information likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism and of disseminating terrorist publications.

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Brighton 1-1 Chelsea: Alireza Jahanbakhsh’s stunning effort earns Seagulls point

Cesar Azpilicueta has scored three goals in his past 11 games in all competitions, as many as in his previous 118

Alireza Jahanbakhsh scored with a spectacular overhead kick to stun Chelsea and earn Brighton an unlikely point at the Amex Stadium.

The Seagulls were poor for most of the match and looked set for defeat before the Iranian substitute, who scored his first goal for the club on Saturday, brought the home support to their feet in the 84th minute with an early contender for goal of the month.

Cesar Azpilicueta gave Chelsea the lead with his third of the season when he fired in from close range after Tammy Abraham’s shot was blocked by Aaron Mooy.

Brighton’s attacking threat was largely nullified by Chelsea’s defence, although aside from the goals they produced the clearest chances – both thwarted by the brilliance of keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga.

The Spaniard produced a one-handed stop to deny Aaron Connolly and then saved Neal Maupay’s low drive with his feet.

The point extends fourth-placed Chelsea’s advantage over Manchester United in fifth to five points. Brighton move up a place to 13th, above Burnley on goal difference.

Big blow for Lampard’s side

This result is another setback for Frank Lampard and his side, who looked assured of an eighth league win on the road this season.

Prior to Jahanbakhsh’s goal his defence had suffocated Brighton’s attack.

Having been accused of being sloppy at times this season, Kurt Zouma, Antonio Rudiger, Reece James and skipper Azpilicueta were at their dogged best – rarely allowing an opposition ball to find its way into the six-yard area.

Youth graduate James shone the brightest, and manager Lampard has a potential diamond. Aside from providing support for his centre-backs, the 20-year-old was exceptional as an attacking force down the right.

Brighton’s Dan Burn will not want to face him too soon having left the pitch holding his arm in the 22nd minute following a collision with the England Under-21 player.

The Blues, however, were as poor as Brighton in attack, and keeper Mat Ryan had less to do than his opposite number. The only time he was called into action in the second half was to make a routine low save from Christian Pulisic.

Jahanbakhsh steals the headlines again

Tears of joy to a look a disbelief – what a week it has been for Jahanbakhsh.

A lack of first-team opportunities had frustrated the Iranian since he made a £17m move from AZ Alkmaar in July 2018, so the outpouring of emotion when he opened his Brighton account against Bournemouth last weekend came as no surprise.

Manager Graham Potter did not reward the 26-year-old winger with another start, but having watched his other attackers fail to make much of a dent in the Chelsea defence he threw on Jahanbakhsh in the 68th minute.

Connolly came close to beating Arrizabalaga with a low drive before Jahanbakhsh tried the more unconventional method and, with his back to goal, he found the Chelsea bottom right with a superb acrobatic effort.

More to follow.



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London’s City Hall provides Christmas meals for homeless

Sadiq Khan hands out food

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Sadiq Khan helped serve 100 Christmas Dinners to guests at City Hall

Christmas dinners have been served to Londoners who are reliant on the city’s homelessness services.

Hairdressers and opticians were also made available at City Hall before guests were given a three-course meal.

Last year, 8,855 people were seen rough sleeping in London, an 18% increase since last year, and more than double the number in 2010.

“Events like this help bring a sense of community back in to London,” Claire, a former rough sleeper, told the BBC.

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Claire said she had been “looking forward” to the Christmas Dinner

Claire, who spent 30 years either living on the streets or in prison, said: “It’s the type of event that does matter. It forms partnerships and builds bonds.

“If it wasn’t for the support of St Mungo’s, I’d either be dead or doing what I was before.”

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Guests were treated to rendition of carols by the London International Gospel Choir

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Around 100 people who use London’s homeless services were invited to City Hall

Guests were chosen from the thousands of Londoners that currently receive assistance from services funded by City Hall and delivered by charities St Mungo’s and Thames Reach.

But Claire said services were still “hit and miss”.

“Where I live I’m still waiting for support with my mental health,” she added.

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Sadiq Khan said “it is shameful that in one of the richest cities in the world we still have the levels rough sleeping that we do”

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Guests were given a three-course Christmas Dinner

Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “St Mungo’s and Thames Reach are struggling with finances.

“Since I became mayor we’ve more than doubled the amount of money we’ve spent on rough sleeping and the size of our outreach team.

“But we’re just scratching the surface. We’ve not got the money or the resources to do much more – as it is I’m criticised for going outside my remit and my power.

“It is both heartbreaking and shameful that in one of the richest cities in the world we still have the levels rough sleeping that we do.”

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Free opticians services were put on by charity Humanity First

Last year 15,470 people were accepted as being homeless by London councils.

There were 55,000 families living in temporary accommodation, such as bed and breakfasts and hostels.

Hundreds more people are estimated to be sleeping on London’s night buses.

Petra Salva, Director of Rough Sleeper Services at St Mungo’s, said: “It’s wonderful that the Mayor has opened the doors of City Hall for this festive event.

“Christmas can be a time of mixed emotions for clients in our services and our staff work hard to support those who stay with us over the holiday period.”

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Labour leadership: Emily Thornberry to run for Labour leadership

Emily Thornberry

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PA Media

Shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry has become the first MP to officially enter the race to replace Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader.

Writing in the Guardian, she said the next leader needed to have “the political nous and strategic vision to reunite our party”.

Sir Keir Starmer, Yvette Cooper, Lisa Nandy have said they are also considering standing in the election.

Meanwhile Tony Blair has accused Labour of “letting the country down”.

He also attacked the Labour leadership for going into the election with a “strategy for defeat”.

Jeremy Corbyn has said he will stand down as leader “early next year” and the race to replace him could start on 7 January.

In an article announcing her candidacy, Ms Thornberry criticised Labour’s decision to back an election earlier this year saying it was like “crackers voting for Christmas”.

She said she had written to the leader’s office warning “it would be ‘an act of catastrophic political folly’ to vote for the election”.

“Instead, I said we should insist on a referendum on his proposed deal, to get the issue of Brexit out of the way before any general election.”

“We wilfully went into a single-issue election with no clear position on that issue .”

Underlining her own leadership credentials, Ms Thornberry said she “took the fight” to Boris Johnson when he was foreign secretary and “pummelled him every week”.

She said those wanting to be Labour leader needed to answer the question: “Do you have the political nous and strategic vision to reunite our party, rebuild our machine, gain the trust of the public, give hope to our declining towns and smaller cities, and never again waste the opportunity to take back power?”.

Ms Thornberry has been the MP for Islington South and Finsbury since 2005.

We’re off – Emily Thornberry is the first to formally say she’s definitely going to stand to replace Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader.

There’s been an awful lot of huffing and puffing without people putting their heads above the parapet, and I think she’s decided she might as well get on with it.

She’s the shadow foreign secretary and was was highly critical of Mr Corbyn for his neutral stance over the UK’s membership of the EU.

The fact that the party membership is still overwhelmingly Remain will help her cause, as will the fact that she was seen to have done pretty well when she stood in for Jeremy Corbyn at Prime Minister’s Questions.

She’s been loyal to Mr Corbyn but, at the same time, she doesn’t identify closely with Mr Corbyn’s team.

I suspect her difficulty, maybe, is that she will be fishing in similar waters to a number of other female MPs who may enter the leadership race such as Jess Phillips, Lisa Nandy and Yvette Cooper.

They’ve got to get 22 Labour MPs to back them if they want to get on the ballot paper – so that is the first hurdle they’ve got to get over.

Shadow justice secretary Richard Burgon, a close ally of Mr Corbyn, said he welcomed the fact Ms Thornberry had entered the race, although he said he would prefer shadow business secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey to become leader.

He told BBC 2’s Politics Live it was important that someone “from the left of the Labour party”, who had backed Mr Corbyn’s original leadership bid, should be among the list of leadership contenders.

He said that Ms Long-Bailey – who has not formally declared her candidacy – understood why the party lost support in seats that had supported Brexit, and knew how to help areas that have lost industrial jobs.

“But I think it’s welcome that the members are going to have a real choice,” he added.

Meanwhile, Sir Keir Starmer has told the BBC he is “seriously considering” putting himself forward for the Labour leadership.

The shadow Brexit secretary said Labour has “a mountain to climb” following its general election defeat.

Another potential contender Yvette Cooper, who lost to Mr Corbyn in the 2015 Labour leadership contest, said she would “decide over Christmas” about whether to stand.

She told Radio 4’s Today programme that Labour had “a long road to travel,” adding that the party needed to tackle anti-Semitism, restore “kindness to our politics” and be more “inclusive”.

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Yvette Cooper was a cabinet minister in ex-PM Gordon Brown’s government

Reflecting on Labour’s defeat, Sir Keir – who was calling for another EU referendum – said the party had failed to “knock back” the Conservatives’ “get Brexit done” slogan.

He also attacked the Labour’s manifesto arguing it “had too much in it” adding “we couldn’t see the wood for the trees”.

Looking to the party’s future, he said: “What Corbyn bought to the Labour party was a change of emphasis – radicalism that really matters – we need to build on that, not oversteer and go back to a bygone age.”

Asked whether he considered himself to be a Corbynite, Sir Keir said: “I don’t need someone else’s name tattooed on my head to make decisions.”

Labour’s defeats in the North of England constituencies has led some to say the next leader should not come from London.

However Sir Keir said the Labour leader needed to “be able to talk to everyone” in the UK.

The former director of public prosecutions also insisted that “my background isn’t what people think it is”, adding that he had “never been in any other workplace than a factory” before he went to university.

Other candidates believed to be considering running to be leader include:

  • Tottenham MP and ex-Business Minister David Lammy
  • MP for Norwich South and ex-shadow Treasury minister Clive Lewis
  • MP for Birmingham Yardley Jess Phillips
  • Wigan MP and former shadow environment secretary Lisa Nandy

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Fulham handed disorderly conduct charge after penalty protests against Bristol City

Fulham felt they should have been given a penalty when Neeskens Kebano went down in injury time

Fulham have been charged with failing to ensure their players conducted themselves in an orderly fashion during their 2-1 Championship loss to Bristol City on Saturday.

The Cottagers felt Neeskens Kebano was fouled in the box in the 93rd minute, but referee Jeremy Simpson did not award a penalty.

It led to heated exchanges with Stefan Johansen and Tom Cairney being booked.

Fulham have until Friday (13 December) to respond to the charge.

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Joseph McCann: Rape accused ‘will not give evidence’

Joseph McCann

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Metropolitan Police

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Joseph McCann’s barrister told the Old Bailey he has “declined to come” to court

A man on trial accused of a string of sex offences has declined to come to court and chosen not to give evidence.

Joseph McCann, 34, is accused of 37 offences, including rape, kidnap and false imprisonment, against 11 women and children over the course of two weeks in April and May.

Mr McCann was expected to show up at the Old Bailey on Monday, having opted not to attend before.

But on Wednesday defence barrister Jo Sidhu QC said he “declined to come”.

Mr Justice Edis said: “His absence from the trial is not evidence in the case. You must not infer from his absence that he is guilty of these offences.

“His decision not to give evidence is a separate matter and I will come to that later.”

Jurors were also told they must consider the case “in an objective, calm way”.

The judge said: “I gave you a warning that you would have an emotional reaction in this case and there is no doubt that warning turned out to be right in respect of some of what you listened to in the case.

“It was also intended to remind you and to direct you that an emotional reaction to material is unlikely to be a helpful guide to your decision-making when you come to decide the case.”

Mr McCann, of Harrow, west London, denies the charges against him.

The trial continues.

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Renee Hector: Former Tottenham defender leaves Charlton Women

Hector ‘sank into depression’ following online abuse

Ex-Tottenham defender Renee Hector has left Charlton for “personal reasons”.

The 24-year-old spent less than four months with Charlton, having joined from Spurs after helping them to Women’s Super League promotion.

Hector suffered the first recorded case of racist abuse in women’s professional football and has previously spoken about dealing with depression.

“Charlton is a great club and I thank them all for their support and understanding,” Hector tweeted.