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Police commissioner accused of victim blaming after Everard case resigns

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Police commissioner accused of victim blaming after Everard case resigns

A Conservative police commissioner accused of victim-blaming in the wake of the murder of Sarah Everard has resigned after being told there was a “catastrophic lack of confidence” in his position.

Philip Allott, who oversees North Yorkshire police and the region’s fire service, was criticised after he said women “need to be streetwise” about powers of arrest and should “just learn a bit about that legal process” in case they were approached by officers.

He made the remarks in a radio interview after the sentencing of Everard’s killer, the Metropolitan police officer Wayne Couzens, who used his handcuffs and warrant card to abduct the 33-year-old from a south London street.

In an extraordinary meeting of North Yorkshire’s police, fire and crime panel on Thursday, Allott admitted making a “major mistake” in a “car-crash” radio interview but he refused repeatedly to resign despite a unanimous vote of no confidence from the 11-member panel.

However, three hours after the meeting he announced his intention to quit, meaning a byelection will now take place. He said: “I had hoped I could rebuild trust, to restore confidence. I was pleased that so many victims’ groups had accepted that I was genuinely sorry and were willing to work with me to help me in the mammoth task I had ahead.

“Following this morning’s meeting of the police and crime panel it seems clear to me that the task will be exceptionally difficult, if it is possible at all. It would take a long time and a lot of resources of my office and the many groups who do excellent work supporting victims. This is time victims do not have.”

Allott had faced a growing chorus of criticism since his comments 13 days ago, including from Boris Johnson, Priti Patel and Keir Starmer. Demands for his resignation grew this week when colleagues accused him of making “sexist and misogynistic” comments to female staff – allegations that he denies.

The details of these alleged remarks have not been made public and Allott said they had been leaked “to damage my credibility”.

The majority of his 32-strong team signed a letter urging him to quit, saying they were “shocked” and “dismayed” by his comments. They said his response to the criticism had been “dismissive and completely devoid of emotional intelligence or empathy, approaching disregard, for the human impact his words have had.”

Police, fire and crime commissioners (PFCCs) were introduced in 2011 with the aim of holding forces to account. However, they have faced constant criticism for being too weak, expensive – they are paid £70,000 to £100,000 a year – and because they can only be sacked if they are disqualified from holding public office.

Carl Les, a Conservative council leader who chairs the oversight panel, said there was a “catastrophic lack of confidence” in Allott and it was “frustrating” that he could not be dismissed from the £74,400-a-year role. Les has said he will write to the government to recommend that PFCCs are able to be dismissed if they lose a vote of no confidence.

Allott, who previously ran a PR firm and wrote a book about donkeys, said his comments had exposed “shortcomings in my understanding of violence against women and girls” and that he thought about the comments “every hour of every day”.

Nearly 11,000 people signed a petition calling for him to resign and almost 1,000 have complained to his office or the North Yorkshire police, fire and crime panel.

Hours before resigning, Allott sought to downplay the criticism, accusing BBC Look North of “raking over” his remarks by repeatedly broadcasting them. Appearing via video link at the meeting, he said: “I can see that tensions are running high. We’re still within less than two weeks of that interview. I have to say if everyone resigned who makes a mistake in terms of an interview – and I accept it was a sensitive interview – nothing would ever get done in the country.”

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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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