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Labour MP Kelvin Hopkins is suspended from the party

Hopkins, 76, has been MP for Luton North since Labour's election win in 1997 Ava Etemadzadeh, 2..

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  • Hopkins, 76, has been MP for Luton North since Labour's election win in 1997
  • Ava Etemadzadeh, 27, complained to whips' office and Jeremy Corbyn's office
  • She said: 'He hugged me and rubbed his crotch on me, which I found revolting'
  • He also served as Jeremy Corbyn's shadow culture secretary last summer
  • Labour spokesperson said investigation would be launched into 'allegations'

By James Tapsfield, Political Editor For Mailonline and Alex Matthews For Mailonline

Published: 16:39 EDT, 2 November 2017 | Updated: 14:24 EDT, 3 November 2017

Labour tonight appointed a barrister to probe allegations from a prominent activist that she was told to cover up being raped at a party event in 2011.

Karon Monaghan QC will investigate what happened to Bex Bailey as Labour scrambles to respond to the growing harassment scandal engulfing Westminster.

Jeremy Corbyn faced questions today after it emerged he had promoted an MP to the shadow cabinet after his office was told of harassment allegations.

Kelvin Hopkins was suspended from Labour over the claims last night but they were first passed to party officials three years ago.

Ava Etemadzadeh, 27, has said she initially complained to the whips' office about Mr Hopkins around three years ago. Mr Corbyn's office was aware of the allegations before he made Mr Hopkins shadow culture secretary last summer.

Labour also announced tonight it would soon appoint an independent specialist organisation for party members to report harassment. The party is discussing its needs with several external agencies, a statement said.

Karon Monaghan QC will investigate what happened to Bex Bailey (pictured) as Labour scrambles to respond to the growing harassment scandal engulfing Westminster

Karon Monaghan QC will investigate what happened to Bex Bailey (pictured) as Labour scrambles to respond to the growing harassment scandal engulfing Westminster

Labour MP Kelvin Hopkins (pictured) has now been suspended from the partyLabour MP Kelvin Hopkins (pictured) has now been suspended from the partyAva Etemadzadeh, 27 (pictured right) has said she initially complained to the whips' office about Mr Hopkins around three years agoAva Etemadzadeh, 27 (pictured right) has said she initially complained to the whips' office about Mr Hopkins around three years ago

Labour MP Kelvin Hopkins (pictured left) has been suspended from the party over allegations of harassment. Ava Etemadzadeh, 27 (pictured right) has said she initially complained to the whips' office about Mr Hopkins around three years ago

It is understood the 76-year-old politician was reprimanded for inappropriate behaviour by then-chief whip Dame Rosie Winterton when Ms Etemadzadeh.

Another complaint made to the leader's office last year is said to have been based on the same information so no further action was taken.

LABOUR SUSPENDS WELSH AM AFTER NEW ALLEGATIONS

Labour suspended a second senior politician in less than 24 hours today after Carl Sargeant resigned from the Welsh Government.

Mr Sargeant was confronted with 'allegations' about his 'personal conduct' by Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones.

The AM, who was Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Children, said he was resigning to clear his name despite not knowing what the allegations are.

He was suspended from Labour less than 24 hours after the party in London also launched a probe into veteran MP Kelvin Hopkins.

Mr Sargeant said he was told about the allegations by Mr Jones but had not been given details about the claims.

'I met with the First Minister today and he informed me allegations had been made about my personal conduct, which was shocking and distressing to me,' the Alyn and Deeside AM said in a statement on Twitter.

'The details of the allegations have yet to be disclosed to me.

'I have written to the general secretary of Welsh Labour requesting an urgent independent investigation into these allegations in order to allow me to clear my name.

But despite the allegations, Mr Corbyn promoted his left-wing ally from the backbenches to serve as shadow culture secretary in June last year. He stepped down from the post last October.

Mr Hopkins, MP for Luton North, was only suspended by the party last night after fresh questions were asked about his conduct. He has yet to respond to the allegations.

Mr Hopkins is the first Labour MP to be named in the Westminster sexual harassment scandal.

Ms Etemadzadeh told the Daily Telegraph: 'I know the leader's office was informed and they didn't act on it, which is disgraceful.'

She said she met Mr Hopkins in 2013, and the following year invited him to speak at Essex University, where she was chairman of the campus Labour society.

She told the Telegraph that afterwards: 'He hugged me… held me too tight and rubbed his crotch on me, which I found revolting.'

He is also alleged to have texted: 'A nice young man would be lucky to have you as a girlfriend and lover … Were I to be young… but I am not.

'Always your friend, and if you ever need a friend you have my number… xxx'.

Miss Etemadzadeh said she thanked him for his 'kind words' to defuse what he had said. Mr Hopkins was unavailable for comment last night.

Mr Hopkins, who has represented Luton North since 1997, will now be the subject of an internal investigation.

Mr Hopkins, 76, has been MP for Luton North since 1997 and served as Jeremy Corbyn's shadow culture secretary last summer.Mr Hopkins, 76, has been MP for Luton North since 1997 and served as Jeremy Corbyn's shadow culture secretary last summer.

Mr Hopkins, 76, has been MP for Luton North since 1997 and served as Jeremy Corbyn's shadow culture secretary last summer.

Despite allegations, Mr Corbyn promoted his left-wing ally from the backbenches to serve as shadow culture secretary in June last yearDespite allegations, Mr Corbyn promoted his left-wing ally from the backbenches to serve as shadow culture secretary in June last year

Despite allegations, Mr Corbyn promoted his left-wing ally from the backbenches to serve as shadow culture secretary in June last year

A Labour spokesman said: 'On the basis of allegations received by the Labour Party today, Kelvin Hopkins has been suspended from party membership, and therefore the Labour whip, while an investigation takes place.

'The Labour Party takes all such complaints extremely seriously and has robust procedures in place to deal with them.'

Mr Hopkins was one 36 MPs to nominate Jeremy Corbyn for leader of the Labour party in 2015.

Labour MP Jess Phillips told BBC Radio 4's Today programme Mr Hopkins should not have been promoted and the allegations did not appear to have been taken 'seriously' enough.

'There does seem to be a problem with some of the issues over the timeline in this case, and I think that potentially Kelvin Hopkins should not have been promoted,' she said.

Ms Phillips said she believes the case was handled 'perfectly well' within the procedures at the time, and that she has spoken to Ms Etemadzadeh who felt 'real solidarity' with Dame Rosie.

But she added: 'I am a bit concerned about the fact that Kelvin was then promoted afterwards, that does seem wrong to me. 'I think actually it's probably more cock-up than conspiracy if I'm allowed to say cock-up on the radio. 'I don't think that it was sort of political expediency; I think that people just didn't take it as seriously as it needed to be taken.'

Westminster is currently engulfed by a sex scandal, which saw Defence Secretary Michael Fallon resign yesterday.

In a resignation statement, the Defence Secretary, 65, said his past behaviour had 'fallen below the high standards we require of the Armed Forces'.

Theresa May was today forced to carry out an emergency mini reshuffle following Sir Michael's resignation, with chief whip Gavin Williamson installed as his replacement.

Mr Fallon's departure came after a explosive document, full of allegations against Conservative party members, was revealed.

Jess Phillips, pictured left with fellow Labour MP Stella Creasy at the Spectator Awards, said Labour will also need to 'clear out' its ranks of anyone found to have sexually assaulted or harassed peopleJess Phillips, pictured left with fellow Labour MP Stella Creasy at the Spectator Awards, said Labour will also need to 'clear out' its ranks of anyone found to have sexually assaulted or harassed people

Jess Phillips, pictured left with fellow Labour MP Stella Creasy at the Spectator Awards, said Labour will also need to 'clear out' its ranks of anyone found to have sexually assaulted or harassed people

Sir Michael Fallon sensationally resigned as defence secretarySir Michael Fallon sensationally resigned as defence secretarySir Michael Fallon with his wife Wendy PayneSir Michael Fallon with his wife Wendy Payne

Sir Michael Fallon (left yesterday) sensationally resigned as defence secretary (right with his wife Wendy) amid a growing Westminster harassment scandal

The dirty dossier runs to 42 names in total, and encompasses all levels of the Tory party.

It features six Cabinet-level ministers,12 lower-ranking ministers and some 10 former ministers, including a handful who served in the highest ranks of government, are also on the roll call.

But while a number of the MPs are alleged to have acted inappropriately, around 15 of the claims relate to consensual relationships or personal sexual preferences – without any apparent misconduct.

Labour has also been rocked by allegations – including that former NEC member Bex Bailey was raped by a senior official but told not to report it in case it harmed her career.

Labour MP John Mann has warned that a slew of other allegations could emerge as more women come forward.

Among the allegations are claims an unnamed senior Labour MP has been reported to the Leader's Office for abuse of a woman.

A second Labour MP is being privately accused of sexual assault of a woman – but they remain unnamed.

A third senior Labour MP is accused of 'wandering hands' and being over-friendly at student discos.

While The New Statesman reports other 'allegations of sexual misconduct that the party advised women to drop'.

While Labour MP Chi Onwurah told the Commons she had raised complaints about MPs' behaviour to young staff in parliament's bars.

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Australia

Sydney seaplane crash: Exhaust fumes affected pilot, report confirms

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The pilot of a seaplane that crashed into an Australian river, killing all on board, had been left confused and disorientated by leaking exhaust fumes, investigators have confirmed.

The Canadian pilot and five members of a British family died in the crash north of Sydney in December 2017.

All were found to have higher than normal levels of carbon monoxide in their blood, a final report has found.

It recommended the mandatory fitting of gas detectors in all such planes.

British businessman Richard Cousins, 58, died alongside his 48-year-old fiancée, magazine editor Emma Bowden, her 11-year-old daughter Heather and his sons, Edward, 23, and William, 25, and pilot Gareth Morgan, 44. Mr Cousins was the chief executive of catering giant Compass.

The family had been on a sightseeing flight in the de Havilland DHC-2 Beaver plane when it nose-dived into the Hawkesbury River at Jerusalem Bay, about 50km (30 miles) from the city centre.

The final report by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) confirmed the findings of an interim report published in 2020.

It said pre-existing cracks in the exhaust collector ring were believed to have released exhaust gas into the engine bay. Holes left by missing bolts in a firewall then allowed the fumes to enter the cabin.

“As a result, the pilot would have almost certainly experienced effects such as confusion, visual disturbance and disorientation,” the report said.

“Consequently, it was likely that this significantly degraded the pilot’s ability to safely operate the aircraft.”

The ATSB recommended the Civil Aviation Safety Authority consider mandating the fitting of carbon monoxide detectors in piston-engine aircraft that carry passengers.

It previously issued safety advisory notices to owners and operators of such aircraft that they install detectors “with an active warning” to pilots”. Operators and maintainers of planes were also advised to carry out detailed inspections of exhaust systems and firewalls.

Read from source: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-55862128

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Australia

Australia unlikely to fully reopen border in 2021, says top official

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Australia is unlikely to fully open its borders in 2021 even if most of its population gets vaccinated this year as planned, says a senior health official.

The comments dampen hopes raised by airlines that travel to and from the country could resume as early as July.

Department of Health Secretary Brendan Murphy made the prediction after being asked about the coronavirus’ escalation in other nations.

Dr Murphy spearheaded Australia’s early action to close its borders last March.

“I think that we’ll go most of this year with still substantial border restrictions,” he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation on Monday.

“Even if we have a lot of the population vaccinated, we don’t know whether that will prevent transmission of the virus,” he said, adding that he believed quarantine requirements for travellers would continue “for some time”.

Citizens, permanent residents and those with exemptions are allowed to enter Australia if they complete a 14-day hotel quarantine at their own expense.

Qantas – Australia’s national carrier – reopened bookings earlier this month, after saying it expected international travel to “begin to restart from July 2021.”

However, it added this depended on the Australian government’s deciding to reopen borders.

Australia’s tight restrictions

The country opened a travel bubble with neighbouring New Zealand late last year, but currently it only operates one-way with inbound flights to Australia.

Australia has also discussed the option of travel bubbles with other low-risk places such as Taiwan, Japan and Singapore.

A vaccination scheme is due to begin in Australia in late February. Local authorities have resisted calls to speed up the process, giving more time for regulatory approvals.

Australia has so far reported 909 deaths and about 22,000 cases, far fewer than many nations. It reported zero locally transmitted infections on Monday.

Experts have attributed much of Australia’s success to its swift border lockdown – which affected travellers from China as early as February – and a hotel quarantine system for people entering the country.

Local outbreaks have been caused by hotel quarantine breaches, including a second wave in Melbourne. The city’s residents endured a stringent four-month lockdown last year to successfully suppress the virus.

Other outbreaks – including one in Sydney which has infected about 200 people – prompted internal border closures between states, and other restrictions around Christmas time.

The state of Victoria said on Monday it would again allow entry to Sydney residents outside of designated “hotspots”, following a decline in cases.

While the measures have been praised, many have also criticised them for separating families across state borders and damaging businesses.

Dr Murphy said overall Australia’s virus response had been “pretty good” but he believed the nation could have introduced face masks earlier and improved its protections in aged care homes.

In recent days, Australia has granted entry to about 1,200 tennis players, staff and officials for the Australian Open. The contingent – which has recorded at least nine infections – is under quarantine.

Read from source: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-55699581

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Australia

Covid: Brisbane to enter three-day lockdown over single infection

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The Australian city of Brisbane has begun a snap three-day lockdown after a cleaner in its hotel quarantine system became infected with coronavirus.

Health officials said the cleaner had the highly transmissible UK variant and they were afraid it could spread.

Brisbane has seen very few cases of the virus beyond quarantined travellers since Australia’s first wave last year.

It is the first known instance of this variant entering the Australian community outside of hotel quarantine.

The lockdown is for five populous council areas in Queensland’s state capital.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced the measure on Friday morning local time, about 16 hours after the woman tested positive.

Ms Palaszczuk said the lockdown aimed to halt the virus as rapidly as possible, adding: “Doing three days now could avoid doing 30 days in the future.”

“I think everybody in Queensland… knows what we are seeing in the UK and other places around the world is high rates of infection from this particular strain,” she said.

“And we do not want to see that happening here in our great state.”

Australia has reported 28,500 coronavirus infections and 909 deaths since the pandemic began. By contrast, the US, which is the hardest-hit country, has recorded more than 21 million infections while nearly 362,000 people have died of the disease.The lockdown will begin at 18:00 on Friday (08:00 GMT) in the Brisbane city, Logan and the Ipswich, Moreton and Redlands local government areas.

Residents will only be allowed to leave home for certain reasons, such as buying essential items and seeking medical care.

For the first time, residents in those areas will also be required to wear masks outside of their homes.

Australia has faced sporadic outbreaks over the past year, with the most severe one in Melbourne triggering a lockdown for almost four months.

A pre-Christmas outbreak in Sydney caused fresh alarm, but aggressive testing and contact-tracing has kept infection numbers low. The city recorded four local cases on Friday.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s government has pledged to start mass vaccinations in February instead of March as was planned.

Lockdown interrupts ‘near normal’ life in Brisbane

Simon Atkinson, BBC News in Brisbane

At 8:00 today I popped to the local supermarket for some bread, milk – and because it’s summer here – a mango. I was pretty much the only customer.

When I went past the same shop a couple of hours later it was a different story – 50 people standing in the drizzle – queuing to get inside as others emerged with bulging shopping bags. “Heaps busier than Christmas,” a cheery trolley attendant told me. “It’s off the scale”.

Despite the “don’t panic” messages from authorities, pictures on social media show it’s a pattern being repeated across the city.

While shutdowns are common around the world, the tough and sudden stay-at-home order for Brisbane has caught people on the hop here after months of near normality.

But while such a rapid, hard lockdown off the back of just a single case of Covid-19 will seem crazy in some parts of the world, I’ve not come across too many people complaining.

And I don’t think that’s just because Aussies love to follow a rule. This is the first time the UK variant of the virus has been detected in the community in Australia.

And nobody here wants Brisbane to go through what Melbourne suffered last year. Even if it means going without mangoes.

Read from source: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-55582836

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