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Former Post Office boss Paula Vennells hands over 50 new documents ahead of scandal inquiry appearance | UK News

The Post Office scandal inquiry has said it will “urgently” review dozens of new documents it has received from former chief executive Paula Vennells.

The inquiry heard her legal team had conducted further searches ahead of her appearance next week and found 50 additional documents that had previously not been shared.

A spokesperson for the inquiry told Sky News: “Lead counsel to the inquiry Jason Beer KC confirmed this morning that the document was received by the inquiry at 11:17pm last night.

“The inquiry expects to receive further documents from Ms Vennells today, which it will review urgently.”

Mr Beer has previously raised questions about the necessity of receiving documents quickly – and reminded witnesses he “will not hesitate” to call them back to the inquiry if required.

It came as Ms Vennells‘s former colleague Alisdair Cameron, the Post Office’s former chief financial officer, faced questions on Friday about what he knew about the scandal.

He began his session with an apology to the sub-postmasters affected.

Screen grab taken from the Post Office Horizon IT Inquiry of Alisdair Cameron, chief financial officer and former interim chief executive of Post Office Ltd, giving evidence to the inquiry at Aldwych House, central London, as part of phases five and six of the probe, which is looking at governance, redress and how the Post Office and others responded to the scandal. Picture date: Friday May 17, 2024.
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Alisdair Cameron gave evidence to the inquiry on Friday. Pic: PA

Mr Cameron was also quizzed on a document he had written titled “what went wrong” in November 2020 for current chief executive Nick Read.

The ex-senior executive wrote: “We should have been tackling these issues 10 years ago.

“However, I do not believe that an earlier settlement was practically possible because the serious claimants believed there had been a miscarriage of justice and required recognition and an apology as much as they wanted money.

“Paula did not believe there had been a miscarriage and could not have got there emotionally.

“She seemed clear in her conviction from the day I joined that nothing had gone wrong and it was very clearly stated in my very first board meeting. She never, in my observation, deviated from that or seemed to particularly doubt that.”

Mr Beer asked: “So she was unwavering in her conviction that there had been no miscarriages of justice?”

Mr Cameron replied: “As far as I was concerned, yes.”

He said he had concluded that the Post Office had a “victim mentality” and its defence of the faulty accounting software was a “waste of public money”.

Read more:
Ex-head of IT ‘blocked Vennells’s number’
Post Office spin doctor said he was in a ‘corporate cover up’
Ex-Post Office boss accused of ‘lying throughout’ at inquiry

Mr Cameron also noted that the business was criticised for being “over-reliant on Horizon when we knew its weaknesses” and that the original prosecutions of sub-postmasters were a “deliberate miscarriage of justice”.

The final criticism was that the company should have “apologised and moved on years ago” and that defending itself had led to a “waste of public money and a postponement of justice”.

In the 2020 document, which was shown to the inquiry, Mr Cameron wrote: “At the heart of everything, the original sin of Post Office – and this may go back a very long time – is that: our culture, self-absorbed and defensive, stopped us from dealing with postmasters in a straightforward and acceptable way.”

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Sub-postmaster cases may be ‘tainted’

More than 700 sub-postmasters were prosecuted by the Post Office and handed criminal convictions between 1999 and 2015 as Fujitsu’s faulty Horizon system made it appear as though money was missing at their branches.

Hundreds of sub-postmasters are still awaiting full compensation despite the government announcing those who have had convictions quashed are eligible for £600,000 payouts.

Nicholas Rossi: Rape suspect who ‘faked death’ makes bizarre Utah court appearance after extradition from UK | US News

A rape suspect accused of faking his own death has made a bizarre first appearance in a US court after being extradited from Scotland.

Nicholas Rossi was flown out of the UK a few weeks ago after a long-running court battle during which he claimed to be a victim of mistaken identity.

US officials accuse him of raping a woman in 2008 and say he faked his own death – even setting up his own memorial service – before fleeing to the UK.

Rossi spoke in an apparent English accent at a Utah court on Tuesday, referring to the judge as “m’lady” and saying claims he wasn’t giving his true name were “complete hearsay”.

He claimed he was Arthur Knight Brown and spoke in a laboured, breathy tone while taking air from an oxygen mask.

Rossi gave his birth date in British format, with the day first followed by the month – opposite to the US standard.

Rossi in July 2022
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Rossi, outside an Edinburgh court in 2022, is accused of rape in Utah

The 36-year-old was first arrested after someone recognised him when he was ill with COVID and taken to a Glasgow hospital in December 2021.

A year later, Edinburgh Sheriff Court ruled his tattoos and fingerprints matched those of Rossi – as featured on an Interpol wanted notice.

Rossi suggested they had been done by an NHS employee when he was unconscious as part of an attempt to frame him – and insisted he was an Irish orphan who had never been to America.

However, it emerged he had changed his name four times in three years and concocted a number of stories to hide from justice.

Nicholas Rossi departs Edinburgh Sheriff and Justice of the Peace Court after an extradition hearing. Rossi has been fighting extradition to the US over rape allegations. Picture date: Wednesday July 12, 2023.
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Rossi routinely appeared in court in Scotland in a wheelchair

Four years ago, Rossi told media in the state of Rhode Island he had non-Hodgkin lymphoma and had weeks to live. An online obituary later claimed he had died on 29 February 2020.

The case played out over a number of years in Scotland, with Rossi dismissing his legal teams and representing himself as he appeared in court in a wheelchair and oxygen mask.

Judge Norman McFadyen said he was “as dishonest and deceitful as he is evasive and manipulative” when he approved the extradition last summer.

He lost an appeal in December and was finally flown to the US at the start of this month.

Rossi will next appear in court in Utah on 26 January and was denied bail.

Orlando Bloom joins Katy Perry in special Peppa Pig guest appearance | Ents & Arts News

Orlando Bloom will be joining the cast of Peppa Pig next year, playing a jeweller called Mr Raccoon.

The Pirates Of The Caribbean star will play Mr Raccoon the jeweller alongside his fiancee Katy Perry, who it was previously announced will be playing dressmaker Ms Leopard.

Katy Perry and Orlando Bloom attend the LA premiere of Amazon's "Carnival Row" at TCL Chinese Theatre on August 21, 2019 in Hollywood, California
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Perry and Bloom got engaged in 2019

The couple, who have been engaged for four years and who share a daughter, Daisy Dove, will star in a three-part episode celebrating the show’s 20th anniversary.

According to the show description, Mr Raccoon will assist Peppa and her friends with preparations for Mr Bull and Mrs Cow’s nuptials.

It’s the first wedding to take place on the pre-school show.

Sharing the news of Bloom’s guest appearance, the show’s official social media pages called it “Oinktastic news!” and clarified that both the casting and filming of the episodes had taken place ahead of the US actors and writers strikes which have held up the industry over recent months.

Olivier Dumont, the president of Peppa Pig’s parent company, eOne, said it was an “honour” to have Bloom, 46 on board, adding: “Orlando is an extraordinary actor, dad and philanthropist, and we’re proud to have him join the Peppa roster”.

As well as his three-year-old daughter with Perry, 38, Bloom has a 12-year-old son Flynn with his ex-wife Miranda Kerr.

Peppa Pig first aired in 2004 and has been translated into more than 40 languages and broadcast in over 180 territories throughout its 10 seasons.

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In 2021 it was the second most in-demand cartoon in America (beaten only by SpongeBob SquarePants), with acclaimed director Quentin Tarantino hailing it “the greatest British import of this decade” the following year.

Such is its influence, that it’s been blamed for the “Peppa effect” after American children began saying “mummy” instead of “mommy” and pronouncing tomato in the British way.

Last year, former British Prime minister Boris Johnson was ridiculed after enthusiastically discussing a visit to Pepper Pig World theme park in Hampshire during a speech to business leaders.

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Peppa Pig follows a four-year-old pig who lives with her family – younger brother George, Mummy Pig and Daddy Pig.

Bloom’s next big screen role will be quite the contrast, having recently landed the lead role in The Cut, a psychological thriller set in the world of boxing.

He will play a former professional boxer who is brought out of retirement to win back his championship title, but spirals out of control due to his gruelling training regime.

Peppa Pig Wedding Party Special will premiere in spring 2024.

Andrew ‘Freddie’ Flintoff makes rare public appearance nine months after Top Gear crash | UK News

England cricket legend Andrew ‘Freddie’ Flintoff has made a rare public appearance nine months after he suffered serious facial injuries in a car crash.

Flintoff was at Cardiff’s Sophia Gardens in Wales on Friday to watch England’s opening one-day international against New Zealand from the balcony.

The former England captain, 45, was filming for the BBC show Top Gear when he crashed at the Dunsfold Aerodrome in Surrey.

Flintoff, who was one of the presenters of the show, has kept a low profile since the accident.

However, the former all-rounder, who played in 79 Tests and 141 one-day matches for England, was pictured in an England coaching kit at Sophia Gardens on Friday.

The injuries from the Top Gear crash, which brought the filming of series 34 to a halt, appeared evident on his face.

Flintoff is a close friend of England managing director Rob Key and is set to be with the squad for the remainder of the series.

He is not due to be with the group for the upcoming World Cup in India.

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A statement from BBC Studios earlier this year said it had “concluded its investigation into the accident at the Top Gear Test Track in Surrey last December, which regrettably injured presenter Freddie Flintoff”.

It continued: “We have sincerely apologised to Freddie and will continue to support him with his recovery. Under the circumstances, we feel it would be inappropriate to resume making series 34 of Top Gear at this time.

“We understand this will be disappointing for fans, but it is the right thing to do, and we’ll make a judgement about how best to continue later this year. This has also impacted the production team, who we continue to support.”

Flintoff ended his international career in 2009 after helping England to an Ashes series victory over Australia before he retired from all forms of the game in 2015.

He went on to launch a career in broadcasting, which also included featuring on Sky’s “A League Of Their Own”.

Stephen Lawrence’s mother Doreen was effectively ‘gaslit’ by Daily Mail, court told – as Harry makes appearance | UK News

The mother of murdered teenager Stephen Lawrence was effectively “gaslit” by the Daily Mail, the High Court has been told – as Prince Harry made a brief appearance for the end of the privacy hearing.

Baroness Doreen Lawrence is one of a number of high-profile individuals, including the Duke of Sussex, accusing the newspaper’s publishers Associated Newspapers Limited (ANL) of concealing “wrongdoing” over the alleged unlawful gathering of their private information.

ANL vehemently denies the claims and has argued for the case to be dismissed. A four-day preliminary hearing has now concluded, with the judge to deliver a decision on whether the case should go to trial in writing at a later date.

The Duke of Sussex leaving the Royal Courts Of Justice, central London, following a hearing over allegations of unlawful information gathering brought against Associated Newspapers Limited (ANL) by seven people - the Duke of Sussex, Baroness Doreen Lawrence, Sir Elton John, David Furnish, Liz Hurley, Sadie Frost and Sir Simon Hughes. Picture date: Thursday March 30, 2023.
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Prince Harry made a brief appearance on Thursday

During Thursday’s session, barrister David Sherborne, representing the claimant group – which also includes Sir Elton John, Liz Hurley, Sadie Frost and former Liberal Democrat MP Sir Simon Hughes – said they had a “compelling case”.

It is alleged ANL commissioned 19 different private investigators to carry out a series of unlawful acts from 1993 to 2011 and beyond, which in some instances informed articles, Mr Sherborne said.

The group was “thrown off the scent by the way in which the articles were written”, the court heard.

Mr Sherborne later read out extracts from Baroness Lawrence’s witness statement, in which she said she felt “played for a fool” by the Daily Mail, believing the newspaper “really cared” about the injustice of the murder of her son Stephen.

“They were supposed to be our allies and friends, the good people, not the bad,” she said. Baroness Lawrence said she had believed information in articles about her had come from the police.

Mr Sherborne told the court: “That is nothing short of gaslighting Baroness Lawrence, that’s the form of concealment we are talking about.”

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David Furnish leaves the Royal Courts Of Justice, central London, following a hearing claim over allegations of unlawful information gathering brought against Associated Newspapers Limited (ANL) by seven people - the Duke of Sussex, Baroness Doreen Lawrence, Sir Elton John, David Furnish, Liz Hurley, Sadie Frost and Sir Simon Hughes. Picture date: Thursday March 30, 2023.
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Sir Elton John’s husband David Furnish was in court for the final day

The term gaslighting means to manipulate someone into questioning their own sanity or powers of reasoning.

Known as a campaigner and reformer, Baroness Lawrence has devoted herself to seeking justice for her 18-year-old son, an aspiring architect who was murdered in an unprovoked racist attack in southeast London in 1993.

The Daily Mail, under then editor Paul Dacre, campaigned to bring Mr Lawrence’s killers to justice, running a front page in 1997 that saw the newspaper brand five suspects “Murderers” – challenging them to sue if the headline was incorrect.

Baroness Lawrence was present in court for part of Thursday’s session, as were Harry and Sir Elton’s husband David Furnish, following appearances earlier in the week from Sir Elton and Frost.

Trial could be ‘substantial’ if it does go ahead

Adrian Beltrami KC, representing the publisher, previously told the court that all the claims “are rejected by the defendant in their entirety as are the unfounded allegations that are repeatedly made that the defendant either misled the Leveson Inquiry or concealed evidence from the Leveson Inquiry”.

The lawyer said the legal action against ANL has “no real prospects of succeeding” and is “barred” under a legal period of limitation.

After hearing the final arguments in the preliminary hearing, Mr Justice Nicklin told the court he would hand down his judgment on whether the case should go to trial as soon as he can.

He indicated earlier in the session that if the case does go to trial, it could be one that lasts for a “substantial period of time”.

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After hearing Baroness Lawrence’s claims during the first day of the preliminary hearing, an ANL spokesperson said: “While the Mail’s admiration for Baroness Lawrence remains undimmed, we are profoundly saddened that she has been persuaded to bring this case.

“The Mail remains hugely proud of its pivotal role in campaigning for justice for Stephen Lawrence. Its famous “Murderers” front page triggered the Macpherson report [an inquiry into Mr Lawrence’s death].

“Associated Newspapers, which owns the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday, vigorously denies all the claims against it.”

Matt Hancock sets up TV company following I’m A Celeb appearance | UK News

Matt Hancock has set up his own TV company following his appearances on two reality TV shows.

The former health secretary, who lost the Tory whip over his appearance on I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!, has already said he will stand down at the next general election.

The creation of television programming and broadcasting company Greenhazel, first reported by the Sunday People, suggests Mr Hancock hopes for more TV opportunities.

Mr Hancock is listed as the sole director of the firm which was registered with Companies House in January at an address in Newmarket, Suffolk.

The West Suffolk MP’s stint in the Australian jungle earned him £320,000 last year, of which £10,000 was donated to charity.

He also earned £45,000 for taking part in Celebrity SAS: Who Dares Wins on Channel 4.

Mr Hancock was health secretary for nearly three years but resigned in June 2021 after it emerged he had broken his own COVID guidance by kissing and embracing aide Gina Coladangelo in his office.

Ms Coladangelo greeted Mr Hancock when he left the jungle in third place and was by his side in the audience of ITV skating show Dancing On Ice earlier this month.

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The MP for West Suffolk has held his seat since 2010

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Mr Hancock’s appearance on I’m a Celeb was criticised by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and other top Tories, as well as mocked by some fellow MPs.

More than 1,000 complaints were made to broadcasting watchdog Ofcom over his participation.

Mr Hancock said he made donations to St Nicholas Hospice in Suffolk and the British Dyslexia Association from his fee, adding that the £10,000 he gave away was more than his monthly salary as an MP which is around £7,000 per month.

Records on the MPs’ register of interests also showed he had been paid £48,000 for an interview and the serialisation of his book, Pandemic Diaries, in the Daily Mail and Mail On Sunday newspapers.

Mr Hancock is due to give evidence to an inquiry into the government’s handling of the pandemic in the summer.

Ozzy Osbourne stuns crowd in surprise Commonwealth Games appearance | UK News

Rock legend Ozzy Osbourne made a surprise appearance onstage in his home city of Birmingham to close out the 2022 Commonwealth Games – just weeks after undergoing “life-altering” surgery.

The Aston-born musician, 73, was joined by members of his band Black Sabbath for the firework-fuelled performance of their hit song Paranoid.

“Come on, let’s go crazy,” Osbourne told crowd, as the band played the famous chords to Iron Man.

Wrapping up the short performance, he added: “Thank you, good night, you are the best, God bless you all – Birmingham forever.”

Osbourne was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2019.

And in June he was discharged from a Los Angeles hospital after undergoing what his wife Sharon called “a major operation” that would “determine the rest of his life”.

The rocker has also been dealing with the impact of a 2003 quad biking accident.

More on Commonwealth Games 2022

Earlier in the ceremony, notorious fictional crime gang the Peaky Blinders took centre stage as part of a celebration of the musical heritage of the West Midlands.

Ozzy Osbourne performs on stage during the Closing Ceremony for the 2022 Commonwealth Games at the Alexander Stadium in Birmingham

The international competition came to an end on Monday night after 11 days of sporting action.

The ceremony, held at the Alexander Stadium in Birmingham, saw performances from artists including UB40, Beverley Knight, Dexys Midnight Runners, Goldie, The Selecter and Jorja Smith.

Mercury Prize-nominee Laura Mvula, 36, also gave a special performance of a newly commissioned track inspired by Nick Cave’s Red Right Hand, the theme song to Peaky Blinders.

2022 has seen the most successful Commonwealth Games ever for the home nations, with a combined total of 275 medals, including 85 golds.

England led the way with 57 golds, behind only Australia in the medal table, and 176 in total, while Northern Ireland set national records and Scotland and Wales also thrived.

Fireworks go off as Ozzy Osbourne performs on stage during the Closing Ceremony for the 2022 Commonwealth Games at the Alexander Stadium in Birmingham

The Duke of Wessex officially closed the ceremony, saying: “Every four years, we endeavour to come together to celebrate our Commonwealth through sport.

“Thanks to the manner, style and enthusiasm with which you have competed, officiated, supported, organised and volunteered, you have, once again, brought the spirit and values of the Commonwealth to life.

“You have inspired us and hopefully future generations. You have also demonstrated what unites us. Thank you, Birmingham.”