Michael Jackson ‘innocent’ adverts to be removed

Michael Jackson Image copyright Getty Images

Transport for London say they will be removing advertisements that proclaim Michael Jackson is innocent.

It comes after a sexual assault victims’ charity said it was “concerned” about the adverts that have appeared on buses and bus stops.

Posters were put up in response to a documentary in which the singer is accused of child sex abuse.

The adverts have been financed through a crowdfunding campaign and feature the slogan: “Facts don’t lie. People do.”

The Survivors Trust said the message could discourage victims of sexual assault from coming forward.

In a statement to BBC Radio 1 Newsbeat, TfL says: “We have reviewed our position and will be removing these advertisements.

“They have been rejected due to the public sensitivity and concern around their content.”

Image caption The person who took this photo, who wants to remain anonymous, said: “A blanket statement to say that people lie is damaging to victims of sexual assault”

The Leaving Neverland documentary, broadcast in the UK on Channel 4 last week, featured claims by two men who say they were sexually abused by Michael Jackson when they were young.

Wade Robson and James Safechuck claim they were molested and described the alleged incidents in graphic detail.

The singer died in 2009 so cannot defend himself, but his family and fans have been protesting his innocence since the film was broadcast.

Michael Jackson’s nephew Taj told Radio 1 Newsbeat the allegations in Leaving Neverland felt like “the ultimate betrayal” but he believes they won’t have a lasting effect on his uncle’s legacy.

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Media caption“Every time I stayed the night with him, he abused me”

The poster campaign appeared after a “Michael Jackson Innocent” crowdfunding page hit its £20,000 target.

The page says: “Like countless others within the MJ Community and society in general, we would not think twice in turning our backs on his legacy, if we for one second felt that there was any truth at all in these heinous events… There is a huge group in society that believe and know he is innocent.”

It is reportedly being led by former Big Brother UK contestant and Jackson fanatic Seany O’Kane.

However the Survivors Trust said the adverts were inappropriate.

“We have been particularly concerned by the recent news that TfL has chosen to run an advertising campaign… that endorses Jackson’s innocence,” a statement from the charity said.

“The decision to prioritise advertising revenue over the option of remaining neutral on such an emotive topic is disappointing.”

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Neverland – Michael Jackson’s home

The charity said victims of sexual assault often did not come forward because they thought that they would not be believed.

“An advertising campaign such as this perpetuates this fear among survivors and is very misplaced,” the charity stated.

If you have been affected by any of the issues mentioned in this article you can find help at the BBC Advice pages.

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Tina Malone admits ‘Bulger killer photo’ Facebook post

Tina Malone leaves the High Court in London where she avoided jail Image copyright Kirsty O”Connor/PA Wire
Image caption Tina Malone leaves the High Court in London where she admitted breaching an injunction protecting the identity of James Bulger killer Jon Venables

Actress Tina Malone has been given a suspended prison sentence after she admitted breaching an injunction protecting the identity of James Bulger’s killer Jon Venables.

There is a global ban on publishing anything about the identity of Venables or his accomplice Robert Thompson.

Malone’s barrister said the ex-Shameless and Brookside star accepted she had breached the injunction.

She was given an eight-month suspended sentence and ordered to pay £10,000.

The 56-year-old actress pleaded guilty to the charge of contempt of court earlier.

Malone, who was wearing a leopard print coat, told the court she had been living in Liverpool at the time of James’s murder and knew his killers had been given anonymity when they were released.

Mental health problems

She shared the Facebook message in February last year, which was said to include an image and the new name of Venables, the High Court heard.

The court heard Malone initially said she had not been aware she had done anything wrong.

Her barrister, Adam Speker, said she had mental health problems at the time she shared the post and was caring for her five-year-old daughter and elderly mother.

He said his client understood Venables had been given anonymity for his protection but there were no characteristics of vigilantism in Ms Malone’s case.

Image copyright Merseyside Police
Image caption Jon Venables was 10 when he and Robert Thompson killed James Bulger

Venables and Thompson were 10 when they tortured and killed James after abducting the two-year-old from a shopping centre in Bootle, Merseyside, in 1993.

In November that year, they became the youngest children ever to be convicted of murder in England.

They have been living under new identities since they were released in 2001.

Solicitor General Robert Buckland QC said: “The injunction in this case is intended to both protect the identities of the offenders, but also innocent individuals who may be incorrectly identified as them.

“Posting this material online is a very serious matter and can result in a prison sentence.”

In January, two people were given suspended sentences after admitting posting photos on social media they said identified Venables.

Richard McKeag, 28, was handed a 12-month sentence and Natalie Barker, 36, was given eight months, both suspended for two years.

Earlier this month, the father of James Bulger lost a legal challenge to try to change the lifelong anonymity order.

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Catherine Shaw death: Woman missing in Guatemala had ‘blow to head’

Catherine Shaw Image copyright Lucie Blackman Trust
Image caption Catherine Shaw left her accommodation in Guatemala in the early hours of 5 March

A woman who went missing in Guatemala died of a blow to the head, a post-mortem examination has found.

Catherine Shaw, 23, from Witney, Oxfordshire, was reported missing after she left Hotel Mayachik near Lake Atitlan on 5 March.

Her body was found between four and six days after her death, the National Institute of Forensic Sciences of Guatemala told local media.

She was found on Monday near the top of the Indian Nose hiking trail.

The Lucie Blackman Trust, which supports British nationals in crisis overseas, said on Tuesday that “foul play was probably not involved”.

The preliminary report, released by the institute, said she was found naked, face-down and with visible blows to her body.

Miguel Angel Samayoa, the doctor who performed the examination, told AP there were no visible gunshot or stab wounds.

Further tests are still being carried out to find out more about the circumstances in which she died.

Image caption Ms Shaw’s body was found on a mountain near Lake Atitlan in Guatemala

On Tuesday the chief executive of the Lucie Blackman Trust, which has been helping Ms Shaw’s family, said speculation that she was raped and murdered was “incredibly unhelpful, distressing and unnecessary”.

Matthew Searle said Ms Shaw had been fasting and she may have passed out or fallen “due to her lack of intake of food and fluid”.

He added: “She was very much a nature lover and adored sunrises, so it seems quite conceivable that she went up the mountain to greet the sunrise, shedding clothing as she went.”

In a statement her parents, Ann and Tarquin, thanked those who helped find her or sent messages of support.

“Catherine just loved mountains and sunrises,” they said. “She died doing what she loved.”

Image copyright Shaw family
Image caption Catherine Shaw had previously visited Mexico and California
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Boris Johnson historic child sex abuse comments ‘horrific’

Boris Johnson outside LBC Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Boris Johnson was speaking to radio station LBC about police numbers and investment

Child sex abuse victims have criticised Boris Johnson for claiming police funding was being “spaffed up the wall” investigating historic allegations.

The Tory MP said in an interview with LBC that “an awful lot of police time” was spent looking at “historic offences and all this malarkey”.

One victim, Gary Cliffe, said the comments were “horrific”.

Children’s charity NSPCC said the former London mayor’s remark was an “affront to victims”.

Mr Cliffe, who was a victim of Barry Bennell when the serial paedophile youth coach ran junior clubs linked to Manchester City, added: “Mr Johnson needs educating on both child sex abuse and policing.”

Chris Unsworth, director of the Offside Trust, the organisation set up by survivors of child sexual abuse in football in the wake of the football abuse scandal, said Mr Johnson’s comments were “ignorant, dangerous, disgraceful and unbelievably distasteful”.

“Not only has he caused untold upset and offence among survivors and their families affected by child abuse, he has failed to understand that learning mistakes from the past is critical to keeping our children today safe.

“Boris Johnson clearly has no understanding whatsoever of the issues involved. On behalf of the thousands of people impacted by child abuse we demand an apology.”

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Barry Bennell ran summer holiday camps in the UK – including at Butlin’s

SAVE Association, which was also founded by men who were victims of childhood sexual abuse, called Mr Johnson’s comments “insensitive and ill-informed”.

A spokesman said: “These investigations allow us to learn and ultimately have been successful in incarcerating some of societies most abominable monsters.

“Johnson should learn to keep his mouth well and truly shut when it comes to subjects he simply knows nothing about. Child sexual abuse is definitely one of those subjects.

“When talking about spaffing money up the wall, can I remind Johnson of the colossal amount he spent in the London Garden bridge fiasco or the water canons debacle.”

What did Johnson say?

Mr Johnson was speaking to the radio station about police numbers on the streets and investment.

“Keeping numbers high on the streets is certainly important. But the question is where you spend the money and where you deploy the officers,” he said.

“One comment I would make is that I think an awful lot of the money, an awful lot of police time, now goes into these historic offences and all this malarkey – £60m I saw was being spaffed up the wall on some investigation into historic child abuse and all this kind of thing.

“What on earth is that going to do to protect the public now? What the people want is to see officers out on the streets doing what they signed up to do.”

The NSPCC added: “Bringing child abuse perpetrators to justice is not a ‘malarkey’ and such crass language is an affront to victims who have suffered in silence for decades.”

Rival politicians have also criticised Mr Johnson. with shadow police minister Louise Haigh tweeting: “Could you look the victims in the eye and tell them investigating and bringing to justice those who abused them, as children, is a waste of money? You shameless, dangerous oaf.”

The background

The National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) set up Operation Hydrant in 2014 to oversee investigations of “non-recent” child sex abuse within institutions or by people of public prominence.

Football became an area of focus in 2016 after several former players came forward publicly to tell their stories and the NSPCC set up a dedicated football abuse hotline.

Subsequent police investigations have helped to convict a number of paedophiles, including Bennell, who was last year convicted of 43 charges relating to 12 former junior players between 1979 and 1990 during his time working for Manchester City and Crewe Alexandra.

The Football Association has also set up an independent investigation into the issue, with FA chairman Greg Clarke calling the football child sex abuse scandal one of the biggest crises in the history of the game.

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Extra £100m fund to tackle knife crime – Hammond

People lay floral tributes near to where 17-year-old Jodie Chesney was killed Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Jodie Chesney was killed in a stabbing in an east London park as she played music with friends

Police have been promised an extra £100m by the government to help them tackle a knife crime “epidemic” in England and Wales.

The money will mainly go to the seven forces where violence is highest.

But the fund – announced by Chancellor Philip Hammond in his Spring Statement – falls short of the £200m to £300m requested by police chiefs last week.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said the extra money was “a drop in the ocean” after years of decreasing police budgets.

“Cuts have consequences and the government needs to urgently give our police the funding they desperately need,” he said.

Funding to police forces – which comes from central government and council tax – fell by 19% in real terms between 2010-11 and 2018-19, according to the National Audit Office.

Mr Hammond initially said police forces must use their existing budgets to tackle knife crime, following requests from senior officers.

The National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) welcomed the new money, saying it would boost the number of officers patrolling crime hotspots, increase the use of stop and search, and help to disrupt criminal gangs.

The funding would also be used to fund Violence Reduction Units that seek to tackle the underlying causes of violent crime.

The chancellor’s announcement follows a spate of fatal teenage stabbings, with two 17-year-olds killed in separate knife attacks in London and Greater Manchester earlier this month.

Jodie Chesney was killed in an east London park as she played music with friends, while Yousef Ghaleb Makki was stabbed to death in the village of Hale Barns, near Altrincham.

Mr Hammond told the Commons a “wider, cross-agency response to this epidemic” was required.

“Action is needed now. So the prime minister and I have decided exceptionally, to make available immediately to police forces in England an additional £100m,” he said.

Image caption Yousef Makki and Jodie Chesney, both 17, were killed in separate knife attacks two days apart

The money is for one year, with a longer-term funding settlement for the police expected to form part of the Spending Review.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid tweeted: “It’s vital police have the resources they need to crack down on the rising levels of knife crime.

“I’ve listened and we will be giving £100m extra to forces, targeting the hardest hit areas. I’ll continue to give police the support they need.”

The BBC’s political editor Laura Kuenssberg described the funding as a “political win” for Mr Javid, who has previously said police chiefs should be “listened to”.

The forces that will mainly benefit from the new funding are: Metropolitan Police, West Midlands Police, Greater Manchester Police, Merseyside Police, South Yorkshire Police, West Yorkshire Police and South Wales Police.

While 80% of the money is new Treasury funding, 20% is from the Home Office’s “re-prioritisation” of funds.

NPCC Chief Constable Sara Thornton said: “The additional government funding announced today is very welcome. It will help police forces strengthen our immediate response to knife crime and serious violence.

“Bringing violence down is a police priority.”

She said all forces across England and Wales were undertaking a week-long intensive operation to tackle knife crime, including test purchasing weapons from shops, weapons sweeps and speaking to young people about the dangers of knives.

Total knife offences in England and Wales

Offences involving a knife or sharp instrument

Chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales, John Apter, welcomed the additional funding, but said it was “just a short-term fix”.

“It is a sad state of affairs when the home secretary has to take a begging bowl to the Treasury in a bid to solve the crisis we find ourselves in,” he said.

“The government must make a significant investment in the spending review to give police the long-term boost they need.”

The new funding comes after the Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick said there was “obviously” a link between violent crime and falling police numbers.

However, Mrs May insisted there was “no direct correlation”.

There were 39,818 knife crime offences in the 12 months ending September 2018 – the highest number on record.

Out of the 44 police forces, 42 recorded a rise in knife crime since 2011.

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