World News

Two face attempted murder charges for defying South Africa quarantine

Two people face attempted murder charges in South Africa after ‘refusing to go into quarantine when they tested positive for coronavirus’

  • One suspect is a tourist who tested positive during a stay at Kruger National Park
  • He allegedly left his lodge and interacted with others despite orders to isolate
  • Second suspect is a salon owner who allegedly continued working with the virus
  • Coronavirus symptoms: what are they and should you see a doctor?

Two people are facing attempted murder charges after allegedly refusing to go into quarantine in South Africa, it has emerged. 

One of them is a tourist who tested positive for coronavirus while staying in the Kruger National Park but is accused of ignoring orders to self-isolate in his lodge, South African media says. 

The other is a salon owner in the city of Ladysmith, who was arrested after 27 people came into contact with him at his workplace and a religious gathering he attended after allegedly refusing to go into quarantine.  

South Africa’s 57million people are today beginning a nationwide lockdown as the number of cases hit 709, becoming the worst outbreak in Africa. 

South Africa is investigating two people who are accused of refusing to go into quarantine (file photo, a health worker unrelated to those cases tests a motorist Johannesburg)  

According to TimesLive, the infected tourist is accused of leaving Kruger National Park despite being ordered to remain in his lodge.

Police minister Bheki Cele said the man was tracked down to holiday accommodation and then taken into quarantine in hospital. 

‘The tourist ignored the instruction and proceeded to St Lucia in KwaZulu-Natal, where he apparently interacted with an unknown number of people,’ he said. 

Health officials are now desperately trying to trace anyone who might have come into contact with him.

Police are investigating the man under emergency regulations announced by South African president Cyril Ramaphosa.  

The second suspect, a 52-year-old salon owner, was ordered to quarantine himself after returning from ‘various’ other countries, according to The South African. 

‘On his return on March 18, he was tested positive with Covid-19 and was instructed to self-quarantine for at least 14 days pending the blood results,’ a police spokesman said.

‘However, he allegedly continued with his business and in doing so disregarded the instructions by a doctor.’

Authorities are seeking 27 people who may have come into contact with him, either at his salon or at a religious service he attended. 

South African president Cyril Ramamphosa, pictured in Cape Town last month, has ordered a 21-day lockdown to stop the spread of coronavirus 

Both suspects are facing charges of attempted murder, South African news outlets reported yesterday. 

South Africa currently has 709 confirmed coronavirus cases, with no reported deaths. 

The country’s health minister Zweli Mkhize has warned that infections are expected to keep rising.

President Ramaphosa himself has tested negative after taking the test as a precautionary measure, his office said today.   

The president underwent the test on Tuesday on the advice of physicians and received his results on Wednesday night, a statement said. 

Ramaphosa has ordered some of the toughest measures on the continent, including a 21-day lockdown which starts today.

He has also deployed the army to support the police.

Businesses are bracing for the lockdown, with Airlink becoming the latest local airline to suspend flights from midnight on Thursday. 

State power utility Eskom has applied for its critical staff to be exempt from the stay at home order so electricity supplies can continue uninterrupted. 

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World News

Brits could face UNLIMITED fines if they break rules to gather in groups of more than 2

BRITS could face unlimited fines if they break the new rules to gather in groups of more than two.

The Prime Minister this week announced massive restrictions on movement to battle the coronavirus crisis.

⚠️ Read our coronavirus live blog for the latest news & updates

He told the nation they could only leave their homes for four specific reasons, and they could never gather in groups larger than two.

New regulations will see police stepping in to hit them with fines for breaching them from tomorrow.

Doing so will see them slapped with fines starting at £30, with no cap on how much people could be forced to pay.

Downing Street have repeatedly warned that they could hike the fines considerably if people don't follow the rules.

Speaking yesterday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “All non-essential shops and community centres are closed as of today, and gatherings of more than two people in public must stop.

“These measures are not advice; they are rules.

“They will be enforced, including by the police, with fines for non-compliance starting at £30 but up to unlimited fines.”

Businesses also face unlimited charges too if they continue to stay open despite being ordered to shut.

Mr Johnson's draconian measures which will change every aspect of Brits' lives included:

  • Tens of thousands of non-essential shops were ordered to close
  • Communal play and exercise areas inside parks will also be shut down, but not parks themselves
  • Places of worship such as churches and mosques must also shut, except to host for funerals
  • Travel on roads, trains and buses was also banned, unless it’s essential to get to work.

Currently magistrates can fine people up to six times their weekly income, but this could go even higher.

The unlimited fine is part of a new hardline approach from the Government, and comes after Brits flooded the nation's streets and parks despite being warned to stay home.

This morning Housing Minister Robert Jenrick said police would enforce the rules to “protect everyone”.

He said: “We have a unique opportunity to help people get through this.

“Most people are complying. A minority as ever are flouting the rules, and it's right the police try to move those people on and protect the rest of society.”

However, the Criminal Bar Association told The Sun the legal system may struggle to handle cases if too many go to the courts.

Vice chair James Mulholland QC said: “Hefty fines at the very top end of the scale send the correct strong message that public gatherings present a serious danger in these critical times for the nation.

“A balance needs to be struck between deterrence and police enforcement as the magistrates currently will not be able to deal with a tsunami of public disorder prosecutions given the emergency lockdown that has also put all courts on a lean emergency footing”

Despite the plans to issue fines, the police are expected to try and convince people to follow the rules first.

Metropolitan police commissioner Dame Cressida Dick said: "My view is that my officers will just carry on talking to people and advising people.
"The vast majority of people want to comply with the law, the vast majority of people want to keep their society safe."

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Presley Gerber says new face tattoo was an Instagram filter

Looks like Presley Gerber‘s new ink wasn’t so permanent after all.

Cindy Crawford and Rande Gerber’s son, 20, debuted a new face tattoo on Tuesday, but revealed shortly after that his new artwork — a large star with “LA” in the center, located on his left cheek — was simply the work of an Instagram filter.

“It was a filter lol damn,” the model shared on his Instagram Stories. “Also I don’t ‘want to be hood’ wtf u don’t know me chill I’m grateful if I wanted to I could be posting money n s—t but I don’t so stuff please or imma delete my gram it stressful [sic].”

The troubled star had the word “misunderstood” tattooed on his right cheek by celebrity artist JonBoy in February. Many of his fans criticized the choice, and he defended himself on an Instagram Live afterward.

“If I thought this was going to ruin my face or I didn’t want this, I wouldn’t have done it. I think that’s a pretty obvious thing … It says ‘misunderstood’ because that’s how I felt my entire life,” Gerber said.

The model, who is completing a DUI program stemming from his New Year’s Day 2019 arrest, has plenty of other permanent ink, including multiple tattoos on his neck and fingers, a marijuana leaf inked on his hand and his sister Kaia’s name written in cursive on the back of his arm.

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Arsenal team to face Man City: Lucas Torreira out for 10 weeks with Shkodran Mustafi facing fitness test – The Sun

SHKODRAN MUSTAFI is facing a late fitness test for Arsenal's clash with Manchester City at the Etihad on Wednesday.

The 27-year-old defender returned to training after missing the win over West Ham at the weekend and is back in contention.

Mustafi suffered a hamstring injury during Arsenal's Europa League defeat by Olympiakos last week but could return on Wednesday.

Pablo Mari is expected to continue at centre-back if the German is not fit enough to return on Wednesday night.

Granit Xhaka and Dani Ceballos are likely to line-up in midfield with Lucas Torreira facing 10 weeks on the sideline.

Mikel Arteta is likely to play a 4-2-3-1 formation for the rearranged Premier League showdown.

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Aaron Carter gets new face tattoo dedicated to girlfriend Melanie Martin

Aaron Carter has added another piece of art to his growing face tattoo collection.

The singer, 32, recently got inked with his girlfriend Melanie Martin’s first name above his right eyebrow. Carter showed off the new design this week while getting his hair colored by hairstylist Brandon Peach, who posted a close-up look at the tattoo.

Carter became Instagram-official with Martin in January and has since posted many loving photos with her. “This relationship will NOT be derailed all aboard choo choo,” he captioned a recent selfie of them. The day after Valentine’s Day, he posted a photo of the pair kissing with a lengthy caption, revealing that Martin had moved into his home.

He also hinted that another face tattoo — the word “love” underneath his eye — was inspired by their relationship.

Besides the word “love” and Melanie’s name, the troubled star has tattoos of three crescent moons on his cheekbone. On the other side of his face, Carter has a huge tattoo of a Medusa face that spans from his hairline to his jaw, which he debuted in September at the height of drama with his brother Nick Carter and other family members.

At the time, the artist responsible for the massive tattoo, Herchell Carrasco, told TMZ that Carter actually wanted to cover his entire face in tattoos, but Carrasco declined the request.

“Before I tattoo anyone, I take into consideration their mental state,” Carrasco said about his experience tattooing Carter’s Medusa design in the singer’s home. “In Aaron’s case, I assessed the situation and I genuinely felt he was in a good place mentally to get tattooed.”

“[Carter] wanted to keep going and I had to stop him,” Carrasco added. “I couldn’t cover his whole face in a tattoo. I just couldn’t.”

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World News

Calls for Dubai ruler to face UK justice over kidnap of his daughter

Calls for billionaire Dubai ruler to face UK justice over kidnap of his daughter from UK streets amid claims Labour’s Robin Cook shut down police probe against him as a ‘diplomatic favour’

  • The ruler of Dubai ordered henchmen to abduct Princess Shamsa, a judge found 
  • The teenager said guards injected her with sedatives and rendered her to Dubai
  • Yet when Cambridgeshire police launched a criminal probe, it was allegedly shut down amid ‘interference’ by the Foreign Office – as a diplomatic favour
  • British authorities are facing pressure to bring the Gulf state monarch to justice

Ministers helped a billionaire sheikh get away with the kidnap of his daughter from the streets of Britain, the High Court has heard, and now British authorities are facing pressure to bring the Gulf state monarch to justice.

The ruler of Dubai, a friend of the Queen and close UK ally, ordered henchmen to abduct Princess Shamsa from Cambridge in 2000, a judge found.

The teenager said armed bodyguards grabbed her, injected her with sedatives and rendered her to Dubai, where she was tortured. 

Yet when Cambridgeshire police launched a criminal probe, it was allegedly shut down amid ‘interference’ by the Foreign Office – as a diplomatic favour. 

In an astonishing ruling, Sheikh Mohammed al-Maktoum, one of the world’s richest men, is today also exposed as having waged a campaign of ‘fear and intimidation’ against his youngest wife, Princess Haya, who fled to Britain last year fearing that he would kill her. 

Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein and Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum attend Derby day at Epsom Derby festival at Epsom Downs on June 3, 2017 in Epsom

The High Court said billionaire Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum – a friend of the Queen – had Princess Shamsa (pictured) abducted from Cambridge after she went on the run in 2000

The court found he masterminded behaviour which, on the balance of probabilities, potentially runs ‘contrary to the criminal law of England and Wales, international law and internationally accepted human rights norms’.

Now for the first time, the alleged kidnap cover-up under Tony Blair’s government of 2000 can be reported. 

At the time, Labour was supposedly pursuing an ‘ethical foreign policy’. But now it is alleged the then foreign secretary Robin Cook, who died in 2005, effectively shut down a serious criminal inquiry into a helpless girl’s kidnapping. 

Shamsa had begged British detectives to save her, but they were forced to drop the case.

In an explosive ruling following a 10-month High Court child custody battle between the sheikh and Princess Haya, it can be revealed:

  • The court found the sheikh responsible for kidnapping Shamsa from Cambridge in 2000.
  • He also sent commandos to abduct another runaway daughter, Princess Latifa, during her escape bid in 2018, the court found.
  • Both princesses were locked in a Dubai palace and remain imprisoned to this day.
  • Oxford-educated Princess Haya fled with their two young children to London after discovering the truth about Shamsa and Latifa.
  • She feared her daughter Princess Jalila was being lined up for a forced marriage aged 11 to the notorious Saudi crown prince accused of killing journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
  • Sheikh Maktoum also discovered his wife was having an affair with her British bodyguard.

Public officials are now facing pressure to bring the sheikh to justice, after a judge found that he orchestrated the abduction.

Now it is alleged the then foreign secretary Robin Cook, who died in 2005, effectively shut down a serious criminal inquiry into a helpless girl’s kidnapping

Following the judge’s ruling, Shami Chakrabarti, Labour shadow attorney general, said: ‘This is clearly a shocking judgment. Both Priti Patel and Dominic Raab must urgently investigate why a criminal inquiry into a kidnap in Cambridge appears to have been impeded.’

The British lawyer for Princess Latifa, David Haigh told the Guardian he would be submitting the judgment to the United Nations’ working group on enforced or involuntary disappearances.

‘We are delighted with the judgment,’ he said. ‘It’s vindication for everything we have been saying, vindication for Shamsa, Latifa and Haya.’

Haigh added that he and Latifa’s close friend Tiina Jauhiainen were interviewed by Cambridge police in late 2019. 

He said: ‘It is now clear to see why Sheikh Mohammed did not want these judgments to be made available to the world. They show him as someone unfit to be in charge of children, let alone a state that is an ally of the UK.’  

Princess Haya is pictured at the Court of Appeal with Baroness Fiona Shackleton, February 28

First the High Court, then the Appeal Court and then the Supreme Court all threw out his bid for secrecy, ruling the world should know what Sir Andrew McFarlane, the president of the family division of the High Court, had concluded about his ‘criminal’ behaviour 

Today’s bombshell revelations come after Sheikh Maktoum lost a desperate bid to keep the case secret. He hired eight top British QCs at enormous cost but they have not been able to stop his humiliation.

First the High Court, then the Appeal Court and then the Supreme Court all threw out his bid for secrecy, ruling the world should know what Sir Andrew McFarlane, the president of the family division of the High Court, had concluded about his ‘criminal’ behaviour.

In a victory for open justice, it can be revealed that the Gulf ruler’s own ex-wife fought against him for the public’s right to know the ‘evil’ secrets of the Dubai royal family.

A million Britons visit the United Arab Emirates, of which Dubai is part, each year. The 70-year-old sheikh owns Godolphin stables, a favourite of the Queen, in Newmarket, Suffolk. He and Princess Haya, 45, his sixth and youngest wife, are regulars at Royal Ascot. 

Last April, Princess Haya fled in their private Boeing 737 to Britain with their children, Princess Jalila, 12, and Prince Zayed, eight. They are now holed up in an £85million mansion in central London. 

The sheikh – who is worth £14billion – launched a High Court case to demand the ‘summary return’ of his son and daughter, but it has backfired spectacularly, with him losing his children and his wife, and his standing as an international statesman.

Oxford-educated Princess Haya mounted her own escape from Dubai after discovering the truth about Shamsa and Latifa 

Now for the first time, the alleged kidnap cover-up under Tony Blair’s government of 2000 can be reported

Oxford-educated Princess Haya mounted her own escape from Dubai after discovering the truth about Shamsa and Latifa. 

Sir Andrew heard evidence from former Cambridgeshire Detective Chief Inspector David Beck who investigated Shamsa’s abduction and had requested official permission to visit Dubai to interview her.

Charles Geekie, a QC for Princess Haya, told the High Court there was ‘interference’ in the police inquiry and ‘a direct interest being expressed by the foreign secretary’. 

The Foreign Office has since admitted it ‘does hold relevant information’ on the case, but claimed it ‘would be likely to prejudice relations between the UK and other states if it was disclosed’.

In his ruling, Sir Andrew said: ‘The allegations that the father ordered and orchestrated the kidnap and rendition to Dubai of his daughters Shamsa and Latifa are of a very high order of seriousness. I have found he continues to maintain a regime whereby both of these young women are deprived of their liberty.’

Sir Andrew said Haya wanted him to conclude Dubai had ‘made representations’ to the Foreign Office ‘to bring an end to the investigation’ but it was not possible to prove this.

The sheikh did not appear or call any witnesses during the court case, and has not appealed against the findings. 

Last night he said: ‘This case concerns highly personal and private matters relating to our children. The appeal was made to protect the best interests and welfare of the children. The outcome does not protect my children from media attention in the way that other children in family proceedings in the UK are protected. As a head of government, I was not able to participate in the court’s fact-finding process. This has resulted in the release of a ”fact-finding” judgment which inevitably only tells one side.’

Timeline of the legal battle between Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and his wife Princess Haya bint Al Hussain 

The High Court in London has published rulings relating to the legal battle between Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and his former wife Princess Haya bint Al Hussain of Jordan.

Here is a timeline of events in the case.

July 15, 1949 – Sheikh Mohammed is born in Dubai.

May 3, 1974 – Princess Haya born in Amman, Jordan.

August 15, 1981 – Princess Shamsa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum is born to Sheikh Mohammed, who has several wives.

December 5, 1985 – Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum is born.

Summer 2000 – During a visit to England, Shamsa runs away from her family and seeks immigration advice to try and stay in the UK.

August 2000 – Shamsa is taken from the streets of Cambridge by men working for her father. 

She is taken to her father’s home in Newmarket, before being taken by helicopter to France and then to Dubai. She has not been seen in public since.

March 2001 – A woman claiming to be Shamsa contacts Cambridgeshire Police, saying she has been taken from England to Dubai.

December 2001 – The Guardian publishes an article suggesting Shamsa has been abducted from the UK.

April 2004 – Sheikh Mohammed and Princess Haya are married.

December 2, 2007 – Al Jalila born.

January 7, 2012 – Zayed born.

February/March 2018 – A video of Latifa is uploaded to the internet, in which she gives a detailed account of important events in her life. She also describes what she knows about her sister Shamsa’s time in England and her subsequent abduction.

December 6, 2018 – The BBC broadcasts a documentary called Escape From Dubai: The Mystery Of The Missing Princess.

February 7, 2019 – Sheikh Mohammed divorces Princess Haya under sharia law without her knowledge. She says this date, which coincides with the 20th anniversary of her father’s death, is deliberately chosen to ‘maximise insult and upset to her’.

April 15 – Princess Haya travels to the UK with Jalila and Zayed.

May 14 – Sheikh Mohammed issues proceedings at the High Court in London seeking the summary return of his two children with Princess Haya to Dubai.

May 22 – First High Court hearing before Mr Justice Moor – the media, who are unaware of the hearing or even the proceedings, do not attend.

July 16 – On the eve of a ‘scoping hearing’ to consider media issues before Sir Andrew McFarlane, president of the family division of the High Court, Princess Haya issues applications to make the children wards of court, for a forced marriage protection order and for a non-molestation order.

July 17 – Three journalists attend and lawyers for Sheikh Mohammed apply for them to be excluded. Sir Andrew says the hearing is relatively short while those in court ‘simply scope out what lies before us’ and to consider what information, if any, should be given to the media. The judge adds that the parties will issue a short statement explaining the nature of the proceedings.

July 18 – With the permission of the court, the parties release the following statement: ‘The parties to these proceedings are HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and HRH Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein. These proceedings are concerned with the welfare of the two children of their marriage and do not concern divorce or finances.’

July 30 – At a hearing to work out issues, including the question of media reporting and to how to proceed to a final hearing to determine the welfare issues, Sir Andrew allows the media to report that Sheikh Mohammed has applied for the summary return of the children to Dubai, and that Princess Haya has applied for the children to be made wards of court, for a non-molestation order and a forced marriage protection order.

November 12-13 – Sir Andrew conducts a hearing to make findings of fact in relation to Princess Haya’s allegations against Sheikh Mohammed.

December 11 – The judge delivers his ruling on the fact-finding hearing. However, strict reporting restrictions preventing its publication remain in force.

January 17, 2020 – The judge delivers a ruling on a series of ‘assurances and waivers’ given by Sheikh Mohammed to Princess Haya. He also conducts a hearing to determine whether his earlier rulings should be made public.

January 27 – Sir Andrew concludes that his earlier rulings should be published, but the publication is postponed pending a Court of Appeal challenge by Sheikh Mohammed to this decision.

February 26 – The Court of Appeal hears Sheikh Mohammed’s challenge.

February 28 – Three leading judges dismiss his appeal and refuse to grant him permission to appeal to the Supreme Court. The stay on publication remains in force to give the father chance to make a fresh challenge to the Supreme Court.

March 5 – The Supreme Court announces that it has refused permission to appeal and all previous rulings are made public. 

The judge’s conclusions are that Princess Haya was subjected to a sustained campaign of fear and intimidation by her former husband. He also finds that Shamsa and Latifa were abducted on their father’s orders.

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Meghan 'was smiling face in dull institution', says Dame Hilary Mantel

Meghan Markle ‘was a smiling face in a dull institution’ and ‘too good to be true’ for the monarchy, says Booker Prize-winning Wolf Hall author Dame Hilary Mantel

  • Dame Hilary Mantel spoke with Harper’s Bazaar ahead of release of her new book
  • The Mirror & the Light is the final installment of her bestselling Tudor trilogy 
  • Said she is ‘pleased’ Prince Harry, 35, and Meghan’s, 38, marriage is surviving
  • Revealed she ‘would have bet’ that if the Duchess left, ‘she’d have to leave alone’ 
  • Author suggests ‘abominable racism’ was involved in Meghan leaving the UK

Meghan Markle ‘was a smiling face in a dull institution’ and ‘too good to be true’ for the monarchy, according to novelist Dame Hilary Mantel.  

The British Booker Prize-winning author, 67, spoke with Harper’s Bazaar to celebrate the publication of the final installment of her bestselling Tudor trilogy, The Mirror & the Light.

Photographed at Hampton Court Palace, the author said she was pleased that Meghan’s marriage to Prince Harry had survived the couple’s decision to stand down as senior royals.  

Dame Hilary explained: ‘I’m pleased that it’s the marriage that’s surviving and the connection with the monarchy that has to go because I think almost all of us would have bet that if she [the Duchess of Sussex] left, she’d have to leave alone.’ 

Dame Hilary Mantel, 67, called Meghan Markle, 38, a ‘smiling face in a dull institution’ as she said she feared the Duchess would be forced to leave the royal family alone 

The British Booker Prize-winning author suggested ‘abominable racism’ was involved in the Duchess of Sussex’s decision to leave the UK (pictured, the Duchess on her final royal engagement before announcing her plans to step back from the family in January) 

She added: ‘Though, none of us know the details of how this is going to work out.’

‘I think that Meghan was too good to be true,’ Hilary admitted. ‘She was a smiling face in a dull institution, she cheered the nation up no end, or at least men and women of good will.’ 

Harry and Meghan rocked the Royal Family in January when they announced they would step down as senior royals, less than two years after their marriage. They intend to split their time between the UK and Canada. 

Speaking about the treatment of Meghan, Hilary insisted: ‘I do think abominable racism has been involved. People who say that’s got nothing to do with it – well, they need to check their privilege!’  

The  author (pictured) spoke with Harper’s Bazaar to celebrate the publication of the final instalment of her bestselling Tudor trilogy, The Mirror & the Light

Talking to the BBC this week, Hilary reiterated her belief that racism had played a part in the criticism aimed at the Duchess. 

The author said: ‘I hesitate to call her a victim. But I think there has been an element of racism in the invective against her. I think it’s more deeply embedded in people’s consciousness than any of us are willing to admit.’

She added: ‘There’s an intense concentration on the bodies of royal women. If anyone doubts that, we only have to look at what happens when our royal ladies are pregnant and when they give birth. 

‘They are perceived as public property in the same way that Tudor women were perceived.’

Prince Harry, 35, and Meghan (pictured) rocked the Royal Family in January when they announced they would step down as senior royals, less than two years after their marriage

The treatment of royal women was ‘sad’ and ‘objectionable’, she said, because ‘it is simply turning the individual woman back into a breeder’. 

Asked about the duchess, she said that scrutiny of royal bodies ‘does include the skin’.

In 2016, Harry said media coverage of Meghan had ‘racial undertones’ and novelist Sir Philip Pullman claimed Meghan ‘is attacked by the British press because she’s black’. 

In 2013 Dame Hilary came under fire for likening the Duchess of Cambridge to a ‘shop window mannequin’ who would become a ‘jointed doll on which certain rags are hung’.

The April issue of Harper’s Bazaar (pictured) is on sale from 04 March 2020

The comments were condemned by then prime minister David Cameron as ‘completely misguided’, although she said her words had been taken out of context. 

Despite Hilary winning a Booker Prize for both her first and second novel in her series about Thomas Cromwell, the powerful minister in the court of King Henry VIII, she says it never matters at the time of writing.

She explained to Harper’s Bazaar: ‘I’m keeping my eye on the content of the book, and asking, “Does that succeed with readers?”

‘The whole issue of prizes, bestseller lists and so on is out of my hands. When you’re actually writing day-by-day, I don’t find any of that matters.’ 

She also revealed how it felt writing her protagonist Thomas Cromwell’s death, admitting she broke down into tears.

‘Actually, it’s really embarrassing, this, but when it came into my head how it must go, I was in Sainsbury’s at the checkout,’ she recalled.

‘My hands were packing and tears were falling really, really fast onto my hands. And by the time I got into the car park, I’d done it. It was emotionally processed.’ 

The Mirror & the Light (£25, Fourth Estate) is published on 5 March. The April issue of Harper’s Bazaar is on sale from 04 March 2020.

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ABC workers face anxious wait over job, program cuts

David Anderson did not mince words at a Senate Estimates hearing last October. “There will be job losses,” ABC’s managing director warned. “It's not something I can quantify at this point in time. There's still more work to be done.”

Towards the end of March, Anderson will reveal a five-year plan for the national broadcaster. To the frustration of staff, it’s unlikely to specify which parts of the organisation will bear the brunt of these cuts or how many workers they might lose.

Several senior sources spoke about the situation at ABC on the condition of anonymity, given sensitive funding negotiations are yet to be finalised.

“All these media reports claiming the redundancy numbers will be finalised in March are just wrong,” says one ABC executive. “What we need is some clarity [about long-term resourcing] from the government.”

ABC managing director David Anderson is lobbying the federal government to lift a freeze on the broadcaster’s funding.Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

In 2018, the federal government announced a three-year freeze of ABC’s annual funding indexation, which took effect last July. This will force cuts of around $28 million in 2020-21 and more than $41 million the following year.

“As I have said previously, the indexation pause the ABC is faced with in this current triennial budget cycle has – and will continue to have – significant effects on ABC content and services,” Anderson says. For this reason, he is urging the government to lift the freeze.

ABC chair Ita Buttrose has put the same request to Prime Minister Scott Morrison. “I did have a very constructive conversation,” she told Radio National on Monday. “The ABC is making the case for funding to be fully restored so we can deliver all of the services and meet all the expectations of our Australian audiences.”

[The ABC] has more financial certainty than any other media organisation in the country.

A more likely outcome, according to ABC executives, is the government allocating a special grant for emergency broadcasting while keeping the freeze in place. “We’re hoping for an answer soon but it could be months away, which could delay our final plans for job cuts,” says one senior manager.

A spokesman for Communications Minister Paul Fletcher says the ABC’s $1 billion-plus annual budget gives it “more financial certainty than any other media organisation in the country”.

“Many television and radio broadcasters, including the ABC, worked tirelessly during the recent devastating bushfires to provide timely news and information,” the spokesman says. “ABC local radio is extremely important to regional communities and our national broadcaster should prioritise emergency broadcasting during crises.”

A plan to expand ABC’s presence in outer suburbs and increase its coverage of “bread and butter issues” is a major part of the five-year blueprint, sources say. This includes a new bureau in the Sydney suburb of Parramatta, with the number of permanent staff doubling to six. Headed by Kathleen Calderwood, it will house two local community journalists and serve as a base for other other ABC staff such as police and court reporters.

In suburban areas without the population density to justify a stand-alone office, cheaper solutions will be sought. These may include more flexible working arrangements, journalists embedding themselves in communities and public events. (One such event in Melbourne’s Box Hill led to a report about the suburb’s reputation as a “mini-Shanghai”, which drew a large readership and a Quill Award nomination.)

“Pretty much everyone in the ABC agrees with the critics who say we should decentralise out of inner-Sydney and Melbourne,” says a veteran journalist. “But that costs money and you can’t have it both ways. Every cut to our budget puts pressure on us to centralise even more.”

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