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King Charles’ first official portrait targeted by animal rights activists | UK News

Animal rights activists have targeted a portrait of the King, appearing to paste over his face with the animated character Wallace.

A speech bubble, reading, “No cheese Gromit. Look at all this cruelty on RSPCA farms,” was also put onto the painting at the Philip Mould gallery in central London.

It was the first official portrait of The King, by artist Jonathan Yeo, since the coronation, which was unveiled at Buckingham Palace last month.

Pic: Animal Rising/Jonathan Yeo 2024/Reuters
Pic: Animal Rising/Jonathan Yeo 2024/Reuters

Animal Rising said two of its supporters were responsible for the stunt, saying the artwork was targeted because of the King’s love of the British stop-motion Wallace and Gromit comedy franchise created by Nick Park and his status as Royal Patron of the RSPCA.

In a post on the group’s website Daniel Juniper, one of those involved, said they wanted to draw his attention to alleged cruelty reported on RSPCA-assured farms.

Pic:Animal Rising
Pic: Animal Rising

“Even though we hope this is amusing to his Majesty, we also call on him to seriously reconsider if he wants to be associated with the awful suffering across farms being endorsed by the RSPCA,” he said.

“Charles has made it clear he is sensitive to the suffering of animals in UK farms; now is the perfect time for him to step up and call on the RSPCA to drop the assured scheme and tell the truth about animal farming.”

A video posted on social media site X shows two protesters approaching the painting before attaching the posters using paint rollers, then walking away.

The portrait shows the King wearing the uniform of the Welsh Guards, which he was made regimental colonel of in 1975, and was originally commissioned in 2020 to mark his 50 years as a member of The Draper’s Company in 2022.

The King sat for Mr Yeo on four occasions between June 2021 and November 2023 at both Highgrove in Gloucestershire and Clarence House in London.

The renowned portrait artist’s past subjects include Idris Elba, Cara Delevingne, Sir David Attenborough, Nicole Kidman, Malala Yousafzai, and former prime ministers Sirs David Cameron and Tony Blair.

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Labour activists face ‘disciplinary action’ if they support abandoned Rochdale candidate Azhar Ali | Politics News

Labour has told its activists they face “disciplinary action” if they continue to campaign for the party’s abandoned Rochdale by-election candidate Azhar Ali.

The party’s branch in the North West has emailed activists in the region to warn they must no longer canvass for Mr Ali now that Labour has withdrawn its support for his candidacy over alleged antisemitic remarks he made last year.

The party’s rulebook states that support for any political organisation or candidate that is not Labour is prohibited.

Mr Ali first faced criticism when the Mail on Sunday reported that he had told a meeting of community activists last year that Israel deliberately allowed the Hamas atrocity to take place in order to give it the “green light” to invade Gaza.

A number of shadow ministers initially stood by Mr Ali and said he would remain the candidate in light of his “unreserved” apology for the “deeply offensive, ignorant and false” comments.

Follow live: ‘Problems mounting’ for Starmer

However, the party withdrew support for Mr Ali when further remarks were published by the Daily Mail in which he allegedly blamed “people in the media from certain Jewish quarters” for fuelling criticism of a pro-Palestinian Labour MP, as well as claiming Israel planned to “get rid of [Palestinians] from Gaza” and “grab” some of the land.

It also temporarily suspended him from the party pending investigation.

On Tuesday night, Labour suspended another of its prospective parliamentary candidates, Graham Jones, after he allegedly referred to “f***ing Israel” at the same meeting where Mr Ali is reported to have made his comments.

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How Labour’s latest row unfolded

In the email to Labour members, seen by Sky News, the party writes: “As you will be aware, the Labour Party has withdrawn its support for Azhar Ali as the Labour Party’s candidate and the Labour Party campaign in Rochdale has now ceased.

“In view of these developments, we must inform you that members are not permitted to campaign in the by-election on behalf of Azhar Ali.

“If members are found to do so, they will be subject to disciplinary action in accordance with the Labour Party’s rules.”

It added: “We understand that this news may come as a disappointment to many of you.

“We would like to thank you for your hard work in challenging circumstances.”

Sir Keir Starmer insisted on Tuesday that he had taken “decisive action” to withdraw support for Mr Ali, saying: “It is virtually unprecedented to withdraw support for a candidate in the way that I withdrew support for this candidate yesterday.

“That’s what a changed Labour Party is all about.”

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Sir Keir calls the decision to withdraw support for Mr Ali a ‘necessary decision’.

However, the Labour leader has been criticised for not acting immediately after Mr Ali’s remarks came to light, with housing minister Lee Rowley telling Sky News the episode showed “the Labour Party is in a real mess”.

“It is just extraordinary to see some of the things that are coming out now, some of the conspiracy theories,” he told Breakfast With Kay Burley.

“It is showing that the Labour Party really hasn’t got a grip on this, that it is a party which has not changed [and] a party which will say anything to win government.”

Sir Keir’s decision to withdraw support for Mr Ali creates an unusual situation whereby he will still appear on the ballot paper as the Labour candidate – because it is too late for his name to be removed – although the party is not backing him.

Labour has also confirmed that in the event Mr Ali wins the contest on 29 February, he will sit as an independent MP on entering the Commons.

The incident with Mr Ali has also angered those on the left of the party, with campaign group Momentum accusing Sir Keir of “double standards” and ” trying to save one of their own”.

Read more:
Why Labour can’t replace Azhar Ali – and what happens if he wins
This is Starmer’s biggest crisis as Labour leader – and there may be worse to come

Mr Ali led the Labour group on Lancashire County Council before being selected as a candidate for the Rochdale by-election, set for 29 February.

He was hoping to replace Labour stalwart Sir Tony Lloyd, who died in January, and had been the Labour MP since 2017.

See below the full list of candidates and the political parties they represent:

Azhar Ali, (listed as Labour Party, but now no longer endorsed as its candidate)
Mark Coleman, Independent
Simon Danczuk, Reform UK
Iain Donaldson, Liberal Democrats
Paul Ellison, The Conservative Party Candidate
George Galloway, Workers’ Party of Britain
Michael Howarth, Independent
William Howarth, Independent
Guy Otten, Green Party
Ravin Subortna, The Official Monster Raving Loony Party
David Tully, Independent

Arrests after Keir Starmer confronted by pro-Palestine activists in Glasgow | Politics News

Two people have been arrested after Sir Keir Starmer was confronted by pro-Palestine activists in Glasgow.

The Labour leader was met by activists holding Palestinian flags as he arrived at Glasgow Central Station on Thursday evening.

Sir Keir has faced criticism over his stance on the Israel-Hamas war since voting against a ceasefire in Gaza and claiming “Israel has the right” to withhold power and water from Palestinian civilians.

A wave of Labour frontbenchers, including senior MP Jess Phillips, resigned last month in order to back an SNP motion calling for a ceasefire – while some Labour councillors have quit the party over Sir Keir’s position on the war.

As he arrived in Glasgow, one protester shouted: “Keir Starmer you are facilitating Israel’s genocide in Gaza. Stop the massacre of over 7,000 babies.

“Freedom for Palestine, stop the genocide. You’re responsible for killing babies in Gaza.”

Another activist shouted: “Starmer, why did you vote for continued genocide?”

Others called him a “war criminal” and said “you should be in prison”.

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Labour hit by wave of resignations

The protest continued outside the Crowne Plaza hotel, where activists accused Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar of “supporting genocide”.

Sir Keir was in Glasgow to speak at a Scottish Labour winter gala fundraising event.

He was also confronted during his train journey to Scotland, with a passenger asking him: “Keir, how many more children in Palestine have to die before you call for a ceasefire?

“Over 7,000 children have died. Over 7,000 children have been slaughtered by Israel. This is unacceptable.

“What happened to human rights? What happened to democracy?”

Read more:
Why does Starmer not support a ceasefire in Gaza?
People ‘upset and hurt’ by Labour’s initial reaction to Israel-Hamas war
Analysis: Starmer tries to woo Tory voters but is it worth riling up Labour’s left-wing?

Responding to the footage, Ellie Reeves, Labour’s deputy national campaign co-ordinator, said: “I’m sorry to see those scenes, we have set out what we think is the right thing.

“We welcomed and called for the cessation in hostilities that we saw last week.

“I’m sorry that that hasn’t held and there’s now been further violence.

“We’re facing a humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza and everything needs to be done to avoid that.

“I want to see a further cessation of hostilities, the rest of the hostages released, but also aid going into Gaza.”

A Police Scotland spokesperson said the force was “aware” of the protests, adding: “Two people have been arrested in connection with assaulting police officers at Congress Road and inquiries are ongoing.

“There have been no reports of any injuries at either protest.”

Gordon Ramsay’s three-star Michelin restaurant taken over by climate activists | UK News

Climate change activists have occupied Gordon Ramsay’s three-star Michelin restaurant in London.

Members of Animal Rebellion entered Restaurant Gordon Ramsay on Hospital Road, Chelsea at around 6pm on Saturday.

Wearing smart casual clothing, they sat at tables reserved for guests of the high-end restaurant.

They held mock menus outlining the environmental costs of items served on the restaurant’s menu, including steak and veal.

Gordon Ramsay. Pic: AP/Invision
Gordon Ramsay. Pic: AP/Invision

In a statement, the group said they were campaigning for a plant-based food system and the creation of a mass-rewilding programme.

Lucia Alexander, a 39-year-old auxiliary nurse from the east of England, said the restaurant was a “perfect example” of inequality in the UK.

“Whilst Gordon Ramsay serves food costing a minimum of £155 per person, more than two million people are relying on food banks in this cost of living crisis,” she said in a statement provided by the group.

“Instead of restaurants making colossal profits at the expense of animals, workers, and our climate, we need to feed everyone by supporting farmers and fishing communities in a transition to a plant-based food system.

“A plant-based food system requires 75% less farmland to grow food, allowing us to feed millions of additional people without the reliance on exploitative and inefficient animal farming industries.

“This is the answer to the cost-of-living and climate crises.”

‘Inappropriate and disrespectful’

A spokesperson for Restaurant Gordon Ramsay said: “Everyone is entitled to their opinions and beliefs.

“However, to force your way into a restaurant, disturbing hard-working staff going about their jobs and ruining the evening of guests who have waited months for their reservations is incredibly inappropriate and deeply disrespectful.”

A spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police said no arrests were made.

They said officers were called to reports of a group of protesters “refusing to leave the premises”.

“Officers attended. The restaurant was closed, and the protesters left. There were no arrests.”

It comes after two activists from the group were arrested on Friday after reportedly approaching Sir David Attenborough at a Michelin-starred restaurant on the south coast.

Sir David Attenborough is to be given a second knighthood for services to television broadcasting and conservation.
Sir David Attenborough

Dorset Police said Emma Smart, 45, was arrested on Thursday evening after allegedly causing a disturbance and refusing to comply with officers after they asked her to leave Catch At The Old Fish Market in Weymouth.

Animal Rebellion said she approached the table where Sir David was dining in an attempt to deliver a letter to him, and shared images of her being dragged away by police at 8.45pm.

Smart, an ecologist from Weymouth, said she wanted a five-minute conversation with Sir David about the need to address climate change.

According to Animal Rebellion, Smart targeted his visit to the Catch restaurant because of its expensive seafood menu.

Just Stop Oil activists halt M25 protests after days of widespread disruption | UK News

Just Stop Oil has said it is halting its protests on the M25 after causing days of widespread disruption on the major motorway circling London.

Its supporters have been climbing overhead gantries in several locations, forcing the police to close vast sections of the road for safety while officers remove activists.

“From today, Just Stop Oil will halt its campaign of civil resistance on the M25. We are giving time to those in government who are in touch with reality to consider their responsibilities to this country at this time,” the group said today.

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Tailbacks caused by Just Stop Oil

“We ask that the prime minister consider his statement at COP27, where he spoke of the catastrophic threat posed by the ravages of global heating, the 33 million people displaced by floods in Pakistan, and the moral and economic imperative to honour our pledges.

“You don’t get to recycle words and promises – you owe it to the British people to act.

“Today is Remembrance Day, we call on you to honour all those who served and loved their country. Take the necessary first step to ensure a liveable future and halt new oil and gas.”

The group did not say whether campaigners would resume action on the M25 if their demands are not met.

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Climate finance boost is ‘right thing to do’

The demonstrations began on Monday as the latest COP27 international climate change summit in Egypt got under way.

Dozens of people took part in the protests and were detained – despite the Metropolitan Police “proactively” arresting campaigners suspected of planning the action.

Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Matt Twist said the action was “criminality”, not protest.

“This was a very significant and co-ordinated effort to cause massive disruption to the entirety of the M25,” he said.

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Just Stop Oil return to M25

Essex Police made several arrests across a stretch of the M25 during the course of the group’s four-day campaign.

It’s chief constable, BJ Harrington, told Sky News the group’s actions were “unlawful” and “dangerous”, warning protesters were not only risking their own lives, but that of motorists and police officers too.

One police officer was injured in a crash with two lorries while responding to protests on the motorway on Wednesday.

Campaigner Indigo Rumbelow, told Sky News’ Mark Austin on Thursday the climate crisis is set to get “worse and worse and worse unless we act”.

She accepted the disruption is “not pleasant”, adding: “We feel empathy for all those people out there”, but insisted the action was necessary to get the government to listen.

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Just Stop Oil: ‘Do you love your children?’

National Highways has said dealing with the Just Stop Oil protests is costing it “a lot of money”.

It has secured a High Court injunction to prevent protesters disrupting England’s busiest motorway.

The court has granted a further injunction which aims to stop unlawful demonstrations on the M25, which encircles Greater London, in an attempt to end disruption to the busy road by the environmental group.

It means that anyone entering the motorway and fixing themselves to any object or structure on it, and anyone assisting in such an act, can be held in contempt of court.

They could face imprisonment, an unlimited fine, and the seizure of assets.