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Clapham: Chemical attack manhunt continues for suspect convicted of sexual assault | UK News

A manhunt is continuing for the suspect in the Clapham chemical attack amid reports he was granted asylum after being convicted of a sexual assault.

Abdul Shokoor Ezedi is believed to have targeted a mother and two children with an alkaline substance in Clapham, south London, on Wednesday evening.

Sky News understands Ezedi was handed a suspended sentence for a sexual offence in Newcastle in 2018, and was discharged from probation supervision in 2020.

The latest development comes after police issued another photo of the former asylum seeker, who only had his application granted on his third attempt after arriving in the UK by lorry in 2016.

Clapham chemical attack latest: Suspect pictured with facial injuries

Sky News understands Ezedi, 35, was allowed to stay after a priest vouched for his conversion to Christianity, saying he was “wholly committed” to his new religion.

Ezedi had claimed his life would be in danger if he returned to his native Afghanistan.

On Thursday evening, Superintendent Gabriel Cameron said the new image, taken at 8.48pm on Wednesday, was of the last-known sighting of Ezedi in Caledonian Road, north London, and was less than two hours after the assault.

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How did Clapham chemical attack unfold?

“The image shows Ezedi with what appears to be significant injuries to the right side of his face. This makes him distinctive.

“If you see Ezedi, call 999 immediately. He should NOT be approached.”

The suspect, from Newcastle, is believed to have travelled down to London on the same day as the attack near Clapham Common.

Both Northumbria Police and the British Transport Police are helping the Met with the manhunt.

Pic: James Weech/PA Wire
Pic: James Weech/PA Wire

Officers have also confirmed a car involved in the attack belonged to Ezedi, while the substance used in the attack was alkaline.

A 31-year-old mother and her three-year-old daughter, alongside her other daughter, aged eight, remain in hospital following the incident.

The mother and the younger child may have suffered life-changing injuries, according to police.

Officers said the suspect was known to the woman and described the attack as “targeted”.

A total of 12 people were hurt during the incident, including the mother and her two children, and five officers who were injured as they responded.

Officers say Ezedi attempted to make off from the scene in a car following the incident, but crashed with another vehicle, and then made off on foot in the direction of Clapham Common.

One witness, who asked to remain anonymous, told Sky News: “He grabbed one of the two children and violently grabbed them and slammed them on the floor.

“The lady then shouted: ‘My eyes! My eyes! Call the police, my eyes!’

“Then I saw him run off. It was all so traumatising.”

Greater Manchester Police officer charged with sexual assault on a child | UK News

A police officer has been charged with sexual assault on a child.

PC Dean Dempster is accused of sexual assault on a child under 13 and misconduct in a public office, Greater Manchester Police (GMP) said.

The 34-year-old, who was posted to GMP’s Oldham district, is due to appear before Manchester and Salford Magistrates’ Court on Monday.

Dempster was charged after an investigation by GMP.

He has been suspended from duty and remanded into custody.

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Misconduct proceedings will resume when the full criminal case has concluded, the force said.

Zara Aleena: Sexual predator Jordan McSweeney who murdered law graduate wins appeal for shorter sentence | UK News

A sexual predator who stalked and murdered law graduate Zara Aleena has won an appeal to reduce the minimum term of his life sentence.

Jordan McSweeney, 29, stalked at least five women before he targeted 35-year-old Ms Aleena in Ilford, east London, as she walked home after spending an evening with friends in the early hours of June last year.

McSweeney dragged her into a driveway before brutally kicking her and stamping on her.

He then sexually assaulted Ms Aleena and left her for dead in an attack that lasted nine minutes and left her with 46 separate injuries resulting in her death after she was rushed to hospital.

McSweeney, who refused to attend his sentencing hearing, was handed a life sentence with a minimum term of 38 years in December at the Old Bailey after admitting Ms Aleena’s murder and sexual assault.

In a ruling on Friday, three judges at the Court of Appeal in London found the sentencing judge had imposed too high an “uplift” to the minimum term, replacing it with a life sentence with a minimum term of 33 years.

The Lady Chief Justice Lady Carr said: “Having correctly found that Ms Aleena must have been rendered unconscious at an early stage in the attack, the judge had lacked a sufficient evidential basis on which to be sure that there had been additional mental or physical suffering such as to justify an increase in the 30-year starting point.”

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Comedian Nish Kumar says presence of sexual predators in industry is ‘open secret’ following Russell Brand allegations | Ents & Arts News

Nish Kumar says young women have been advised to steer clear of dressing rooms used by ‘predators’ still working on the comedy scene.

The comedian also said the knowledge of Russell Brand‘s alleged abuse against young women was “a well-known open secret on the comedy circuit” and he thinks it’s likely “there’s more allegations to come”.

Cast member Russell Brand arrives at the premiere of "Rock of Ages" at the Grauman's Chinese theatre in Hollywood, California June 8, 2012. The movie opens in the U.S. on June 15.   REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni  (UNITED STATES - Tags: ENTERTAINMENT)
Russell Brand

Brand has been accused of rape, sexual assault and abuse and sexual misconduct by a number of women – claims he vehemently denies.

Speaking on his Pod Save The UK podcast, Kumar said: “This stuff is still happening, there are still people working in comedy who are the subject of open secrets.

“There are still people who work in comedy that we can’t name because again, of the threat of lawsuits. And there are still people working in comedy who people will say, ‘Oh, we don’t send young women into their dressing room’.”

The 38-year-old added: “Now at that stage for me, you should be sacked from that job. If you can’t have someone be around young women, they have no place in any kind of workplace.

“The tolerance of it is something that we are going to have to actually have a reckoning with.”

Kumar, who previously hosted The Mash Report and Late Night Mash – said he first heard about Brand’s alleged wrongdoings in mid-2017, and that “from that point onwards it was well known”.

He said it went on to be discussed by multiple comedians at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2018.

However, he said the “very specific and serious allegation” against Brand that he had first been made aware of was not one that was discussed in the Channel 4 Dispatches programme which aired at the weekend.

For that reason, Kumar said he thinks “it is possible that there’s more allegations to come”.

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Pointing to Brand’s diminishing TV work in the UK after 2019, Kumar said: “That’s simply because increasingly people were just not willing to work with him. Everyone was afraid to talk about it because of the threat of lawsuits, you know?

“And so, the only power people had was to withdraw participation from shows involving Russell Brand.”

Abuse of power is an industry wide problem

He said as a comedian working in the industry, he too felt a sense of “guilt” and “complicity”.

Kumar said: “Watching it as a cisgendered, heterosexual male comedian, you feel a certain sense of guilt and a certain sense of complicity because you’ve been working with production companies and producers who are providing an infrastructure that allows predators to thrive.”

He said the “indulgence” of top talent was “an issue that cuts across all of the industries,” and which needed to be addressed.

Kumar concluded: “The only people to come out of this with anything approaching any credibility are the victims who have been brave enough to step forward and the journalists who have worked extremely hard to produce rigorous pieces of journalism so that they could get around the threats of a very powerful man’s lawyers.”

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Brand, 48, was initially accused of rape, sexual assault and abuse by four women with the alleged offences taking place between 2006 and 2013.

The comedian and presenter denies the claims, and says all his relationships have been consensual.

Following the report by the Sunday Times, The Times and Channel 4’s Dispatches, two further women have come forward with allegations against Brand.

The Metropolitan Police says it has received an allegation of sexual assault against him dating back to 2003.

The BBC also says it is looking into allegations by a woman who claims Brand exposed himself to her and then laughed about it afterwards on his Radio 2 show.

In the wake of the claims, numerous companies have cut ties with Brand including his management company, a women’s charity and several of his YouTube sponsors.

Sky News has approached Russell Brand for comment.

Government backs making public sexual harassment a criminal offence | Politics News

Calls to make public sexual harassment a criminal offence have been backed by the government.

Priti Patel launched a targeted consultation in July when she was home secretary to see if women’s charities, the legal sector and the police thought the move was necessary.

And after five months, the Home Office has concluded it should be introduced after “the significant majority” of respondents were in favour.

A number of charities have campaigned for street harassment to be outlawed, with Plan International saying 75% of girls, some as young have 12, have experienced some form of public sexual harassment in their lifetime.

‘Strong support’

The Home Office announced its decision on the government website, saying the option it supported would see higher sentencing for behaviour that falls within section 4A of the Public Order Act 1986 – namely when a person uses threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour – when done because of the victim’s sex.

The statement said: “We note the significant majority of respondents in favour of an offence, and the strong support given to some of the possible reasons in favour of one, such as the deterrent effect of a new law and its ability to raise awareness, and its ability to provide clarity to the law and encourage reporting.

“We also note the other arguments put forward, such as its ability to help drive cultural change.”

Labour’s shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said “any action to tackle the epidemic of violence against women and girls is welcome”, but she urged the government to “go further and faster”.

She added: “Labour has a plan to put rape and domestic abuse specialists in every police force in the country, introduce fast-track rape courts and a domestic abuse register, and overhaul police training so that every victim gets the best possible support.”

Sky News has contacted the Home Office to find out the next steps.

Head of Royal Navy orders investigation into ‘abhorrent’ claim of ‘sexual bullying’ in submarine service | UK News

The head of the Royal Navy has ordered an investigation into “abhorrent” claim of “sexual bullying” in the submarine service.

Admiral Sir Ben Key, the First Sea Lord, said sexual assault and harassment has no place in the Royal Navy and that anyone who is found culpable will be held accountable.

Responding to the allegations personally on Twitter, he said: “I am deeply disturbed to hear of allegations of inappropriate behaviour in the submarine service and I want to reassure our people, and anyone who is reading this, that any activity which falls short of the highest of standards the Royal Navy sets itself is totally unacceptable and not a true reflection of what service life should be.

“These allegations are abhorrent.

“Sexual assault and harassment has no place in the Royal Navy and will not be tolerated.

“I have directed my senior team to investigate these allegations thoroughly.

“Anyone who is found culpable will be held accountable for their actions regardless of their rank or status.”

Read more:
Most women in armed forces have faced bullying, harassment and discrimination, inquiry finds

The statement from the First Sea Lord comes The Daily Mail said submariners compiled a “crush depth rape list” in which women were ranked in the order they should be raped in a catastrophic event, and that women were frequently screamed at, called c**** and hit with clipboards and pens.

Speaking to the newspaper, former lieutenant Sophie Brook, 30, said: “The best thing I ever did was leave the Navy but I worry about the women I left behind. It was just a constant campaign of sexual bullying.”

She told the newspaper she loved the job, but said: “It’s just unfortunate the ‘old boys’ club’ makes it such a hostile and misogynistic place.”

The Mail said Ms Brook left the Navy when she was investigated for sharing sensitive information about her submarine’s movement in an email.

The newspaper said she resigned in January but was formally dismissed in June and handed a suspended prison sentence.

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The Ministry of Defence (MoD) says that, while most Royal Navy personnel enjoy rewarding careers, for some, predominantly women, their experience has been affected by inappropriate sexualised behaviour.

They say they accept that more needs to be done and that they are improving reporting mechanisms for sexual offences.

Earlier this year, the MoD announced a zero-tolerance policy to sexual offences aligning the Royal Navy, RAF, and Army under one approach.