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Mother of murdered sisters backed by ex-police chiefs over bias claim

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Mother of murdered sisters backed by ex-police chiefs over bias claim

Three former police chiefs have said errors made in the search for two missing sisters was the result of bias, as the murdered women’s mother dismissed as “hollow” an apology for the blunders.

The mother of Bibaa Henry, 46, and Nicole Smallman, 27, found murdered in June 2020 in a London park, said her daughters’ friends and family were left to search themselves after the Metropolitan police failed to do so.

Mina Smallman said the partner of one of her daughters who found the body has been left haunted and maintained bias had been a factor despite a report from the police watchdog finding no evidence it was.

Britain’s biggest force offered the apology after a report from the Independent Office for Police Conduct found failings.

The two sisters, Henry, a senior social worker, and Smallman, a photographer, were murdered in the park where they had been celebrating the elder sibling’s birthday.

The next day police were called, but no physical searches took place. The following days the bodies were found stabbed to death.

Sue Fish, the former chief constable of Nottinghamshire, said on Tuesday that bias had been a factor: “I see plenty of bias. The IOPC report gives licence to continue to fail people of colour, and women of colour, into the future.”

“It does not have a finding of racism, it addresses things in performance terms and misses this everyday casual unconscious bias against people of colour and women.”

Former Met chief superintendent Dal Babu said the mother of the murdered sisters was right in insisting bias was a factor: “If this had been a white, middle class social worker, would police have dealt with it differently. I’m convinced they would have.”

Babu, who has defended white officers against racism claims when he thought they were unmerited, said an independent investigation was needed into how missing persons’ cases are handled.

Former Met chief superintendent Victor Olisa, a former head of diversity at the force, said: “I think there is bias, I know the investigation of missing persons is not as professional as it ought to be.

“There is bias, the IOPC can’t find it.”

The IOPC identified that two police staff and one inspector performed poorly, and will not face a disciplinary hearing, but undergo action to improve their performance.

A call handler referred to one of the missing women as a “suspect” and appeared dismissive when a friend of one of the sisters phoned asking for help, the watchdog found.

Mina Smallman said: “We’re not the only parties who suffered mental anguish at the hands of the Met police’s incompetent, reprehensible and blatant disregard of agreed procedures regarding missing persons.”

Smallman added: “The inspector on the second shift made erroneous assumptions about the whereabouts of our daughters. We’re also of the view that his unprofessional comments about Bibaa and Nicole’s picnic suggest racial profiling, misogyny or classism.”

The report has not yet been made public by the IOPC, which declined to comment on whether Smallman’s claims about the alleged comments made by the inspector were correct. The Met also did not comment. The Met said the inspector was working on a shift with 16 missing persons cases open, with his unit “under capacity by almost 50% during the Covid pandemic”.

Smallman said that police inaction led the family and friends to search themselves with harrowing consequences: “There were approximately 14 people – friends and family – involved in our own missing persons investigation, which started at approximately 4am on Saturday morning and ended with Nicole’s precious Adam discovering their bodies. This lasting image of his soulmate will forever remain in his mind’s eye.”

Smallman added the apology was not enough: “Sorry just won’t cut it. It’s too hollow … Sorry is something you say when you comprehend the wrong you have done and take full responsibility for it, demonstrating that by taking appropriate proportionate action – which the Met police have failed to do.”

The issues from the case are far from over for the Met. Two Met officers face criminal charges over the taking of photos at the scene where the sisters’ bodies were found murdered. They are scheduled to appear in court next week.

Danyal Hussein, 19, was found guilty of the sisters’ murder in July. He was said to have drawn up a “contract” in his own blood with a demon to sacrifice women in return for winning the lottery.

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Supreme Court Dismisses Suit Challenging Adeleke’s Candidacy

The Supreme Court has affirmed Ademola Adeleke as the authentic candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP in the just concluded Osun State Governorship Election.

This has laid to rest the suit filed by Dotun Babayemi, a governorship aspirant of the party who sought the invalidation of Adeleke’s victory.

In a judgement delivered by Justice Amina Augie, the five-member panel held that the court lacked jurisdiction to hear the suit after counsel for the appellant, Adebayo Adelodun, withdrew the earlier notice of appeal that was filed within time.

At the resumed hearing, Adelodun, who represented the appellant and Babayemi informed the court that he sought to withdraw the earlier notice of appeal to replace it with the fresh application he filed.

But the panel held that Section 285(11) of the constitution stipulated that an appeal on a pre-election matter must be filed within 14 days from the day of the decision, and that having filed the second appeal out of time, the apex court lacked jurisdiction to entertain the matter.

Justice Augie, therefore, dismissed the appeal for lack of jurisdiction.

Babayemi had asked the court to invalidate the primary election that produced the governor-elect, citing non-compliance with a court order.

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400 Staff To Lose Jobs As BBC Goes Digital

The British Broadcasting Corporation BBC world service has on Thursday disclosed that about 400 of its staff will lose their jobs as part of a cost-cutting programme and move to digital platforms,

The BBC said its international services needed to make savings of £28.5 million ($31 million) as part of wider reductions of £500 million.

In July it detailed plans to merge BBC World News television and its domestic UK equivalent into a single channel to launch in April next year.

BBC World Service currently operates in 40 languages around the world with a weekly audience of some 364 million people.

But the corporation said audience habits were changing and more people were accessing news online, which along with a freeze on BBC funding and increased operating costs meant a move to “digital-first” made financial sense.

BBC World Service director Liliane Landor said there was a “compelling case” for expanding digital services, as audiences had more than doubled since 2018.

“The way audiences are accessing news and content is changing and the challenge of reaching and engaging people around the world with quality, trusted journalism is growing,” she added.

 

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Environment

Hurricane Ian: Cities flooded and power cut as storm crosses Florida

Hurricane Ian: Cities flooded and power cut as storm crosses Florida

Hurricane Ian made landfall at around 15:10 local time (19:10 GMT) on Wednesday, smashing into the coast with wind speeds of up to 241km/h (150mph).

Dramatic scenes saw a hospital roof blown off, cars submerged and trees ripped out of the ground.

The category four hurricane was later downgraded to a tropical storm.

However, Floridians were warned that the most dangerous 24 hours lay ahead and the mayor of Tampa urged people to shelter in place through the night into Thursday morning.

“We are going to get the majority of the rain and the higher winds starting about 20:00, and they are going to last throughout the night,” Jane Castor said during a Wednesday evening briefing.

In a message posted on Facebook, the Weather Prediction Center told residents in the Central Florida Peninsula to expect “widespread life-threatening, catastrophic flash and urban flooding” continuing into Friday morning, with potentially up to 76cm (30ins) of rain falling locally.

Residents were ordered to leave their homes, but many have decided to remain and seek shelter indoors.

Mark Pritchett, who lives in the city of Venice, some 95km (60 miles) south of Tampa, described the “terrifying” moment he stepped outside his home as the hurricane made its way across the Gulf of Mexico.

“Rain shooting like needles. My street is a river,” he said in a text message to the Associated Press news agency.

In Lee County – the south-west region where Ian made landfall – police were prevented from responding to reports of looting at a petrol station because of the storm damage.

As a result, a curfew has been declared “until further notice”.

Lee County Manager Roger Desjarlais said that the Fort Myers community had “been – to some extent – decimated”. According to news agency AFP, some neighbourhoods in the city of 80,000 had been left resembling lakes.

State Governor Ron DeSantis described Ian as the “biggest flood event” south-west Florida had ever seen, and announced that 7,000 National Guard troops are ready to lead rescue operations in flood zones.

President Joe Biden will receive a briefing on Thursday from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Ian is now continuing to move north through Florida. Jacksonville International Airport, based in north-east Florida, cancelled all flights scheduled for Thursday.

The storm is forecast to emerge into the Atlantic by Thursday morning.

It is expected to reach Georgia and South Carolina on Friday. Virginia has also joined Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida by declaring a state of emergency.

Cuba’s western coast was hit by Hurricane Ian on Tuesday. Power has now been restored in some areas after the island was plunged into a total blackout. Two people are understood to have been killed in Cuba and more than 20 Cuban migrants are believed to be missing at sea.

Predicted path of Hurricane Ian. Updated 27 September

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