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Stephen Crabb: PM’s comments ‘ill-judged and not befitting of a Prime Minister.’

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PRESELI Pembrokeshire MP Stephen Crabb says Boris Johnson must withdraw an attempted smear of Kier Starmer.

The PM made the slur in the debate on Sue Gray’s report into lockdown-busting parties hosted at Government offices and the PM’s 10 Downing Street residence.

Although constrained by the belated and ongoing Metropolitan Police investigation into the parties, Sue Gray provided severe criticism of the conduct of those who attended the parties.

Cornered and desperate to save his skin, Mr Johnson lashed out at Sir Kier over his period as Director of Public Prosecutions.

Mr Johnson repeated a far-right social media lie, saying: “[He] spent most of his time prosecuting journalists and failing to prosecute Jimmy Savile.”

The PM knew what he said was a lie and said it anyway.

Subsequent reports revealed he planned the smear, was warned against it and went ahead with it anyway.

Even when the lie is obvious and the liar’s motive clear, a liar cannot be called a liar in the House of Commons.
Boris Johnson lied.

THE TRUTH

Kier Starmer was Director of Public Prosecutions when Surrey Police investigated allegations against Savile.
During that investigation, Savile was interviewed under caution by the police.

As the PM is aware, being interviewed under caution is not proof of guilt. If it were, he would already have resigned.
When Surrey Police sent their report for review, Kier Starmer did not oversee the case. Instead, a senior crown prosecution lawyer reviewed their evidence.

Police claimed victims were “unprepared to support any police action”, for example testifying in court.
However, after Savile’s death, Kier Starmer ordered an Independent Inquiry into the case’s handling.

Alison Levitt QC headed the investigation.

She reviewed the Surrey force’s investigation and the decision not to prosecute.

She said the police treated the victims and the accounts they gave “with a degree of caution which was neither justified nor required”.

Three of the victims told her that if they had received more information from the police at the time of the investigation—and particularly if each had been told she was not the only woman who had complained—they would “probably have been prepared to give evidence.”

She criticised the reviewing lawyer for not pushing the police harder said she had “reservations” about the prosecutor’s decision not to press charges.

She said: “On the face of it, the allegations made were both serious and credible; the prosecutor should have recognised this and sought to “build” a prosecution.”

Lawyers who represented Savile’s victims condemned the PM’s comments as untrue.

Richard Scorer, head of abuse and public inquiries at law firm Slater and Gordon, said his clients were “appalled and disgusted” at the PM’s conduct in “weaponising their suffering for political gain.”

LOCAL MPs RESPOND

We asked three local MPs to comment on Sue Gray’s report and the PM’s lie about the opposition leader.

Stephen Crabb did not hang around with his answers to our questions.

Regarding the Sue Gray report, he said: “I am pleased that the Met Police are investigating. I await the outcome of their investigations. I called for this, hoping that we can somehow get to the bottom of this whole episode rather than just rely on allegations and media reports.

“As I have said before, these are very serious matters and an apology from the Prime Minister may not be a sufficient response once we get to the inquiries.”

On the Savile slur, Mr Crabb was to the point: “I thought the Jimmy Saville smear used by Boris Johnson towards Keir Starmer was ill-judged and not befitting of a Prime Minister. He should withdraw it.”

Jonathan Edwards MP said: “Politics is in a very dangerous place at the moment. I fear people’s trust in the democratic process is being quickly eroded.

“The Gray interim report clearly confirms either the Prime Minister didn’t understand his own policy or thought it didn’t apply to him. I think, however, the issue is far deeper in terms of detoxifying politics, and I can’t see how someone who excels at promoting culture war politics can possibly restore the values needed to sustain a healthy democracy.

“Much of the political strategies employed in Westminster surround misinformation, misrepresentation, and deliberate polarisation. Social media is the perfect conduit for such strategies, and they have proven to be extremely successful for Mr Johnson.  

“I fear that unless there is a deliberate attempt across the political divide for a systemic change in our approach to politics, especially engagement on social media, darker forces could easily come to the ascendancy.”

We put the same issues to Simon Hart MP.

Mr Hart’s office told us he would make a statement on his Facebook page, Simon Hart MP, on Wednesday afternoon (February 2).

No comment has been made by Simon Hart at the time of the publication of this article on Thursday, February 3. Should Mr. Hart make a comment on the issues we raised with him, we will add them to this story.

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Cheesy names for Folly Farm’s five Humboldt Penguin Chicks

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FOLLY FARM has announced the arrival of five new baby Humboldt penguin chicks—the first penguin chicks to hatch at the zoo since 2021!

Keepers have resumed breeding Humboldt penguins as part of a managed European Breeding Programme for the species, facilitated by their membership with the European Association of Zoos and Aquariums (EAZA). These chicks are the first to arrive at the zoo in three years!

Humboldt penguins are classified as a vulnerable species, facing numerous threats in the wild. Breeding had been on hold at Folly Farm, and the keepers are thrilled to be able to breed again.

The delightful new penguin chicks are growing rapidly and are snug in their nest boxes, cared for by both parents who alternate feeding duties while the other enjoys a swim in the pool. Chicks can double or even triple in weight every couple of days! In a few weeks, they will leave their nests and be taken by experienced keepers to their Penguin Nursery facility, where they will spend a few weeks learning to feed on whole fish and swim in their small ‘baby pool’, before graduating to the main pool with the rest of the colony.

The naming theme for this season is cheese, with the chicks being named Mozzarella, Camembert, Cheddar, Halloumi, and Gorgonzola. Who doesn’t love cheese?

Penguin Keeper and Assistant Zoo Manager Caz Davies shared her excitement: “We’re so excited to have chicks again. Each breeding season, keepers choose a catchy naming theme to easily identify the birds. Penguin chicks can’t be sexed until they’re a bit older and feather samples can be taken, so we’ll just have to wait for a gender reveal for now!”

‘Mozzarella’ was the first to hatch on 30 March to parents, ‘Magnum’ and ‘Feast’, followed by ‘Camembert’ on 2 April, whose parents are ‘Perci’ and ‘Puffy’. ‘Cheddar’ arrived soon after on 5 May to ‘Whippy’ and ‘Pippy’, and ‘Halloumi’ hatched on 10 May to first-time parents ‘Einstein’ and ‘Darwin’. ‘Gorgonzola’ is the youngest chick and hatched on 14 May to ‘Popple’ and ‘Pudding’.

Penguin Coast is currently home to 22 Humboldt and 14 Macaroni penguins. Guests won’t be able to see the newest arrivals quite yet—but keep watching Folly Farm’s website and social platforms for updates!

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Anticipation builds for more Northern Lights as solar activity peaks

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IN the wake of a mesmerising display of the aurora borealis last weekend, experts predict further celestial spectacles are imminent due to heightened solar activity. A substantial sunspot cluster, responsible for recent intense solar flares, is expected to face Earth again in approximately two weeks, potentially sparking more geomagnetic storms and Northern Lights displays.

Scientists at the Met Office, including space weather forecaster Krista Hammond, report that this activity is part of the approaching solar maximum, a peak phase in the Sun’s 11-year cycle marked by increased magnetic upheavals and sunspot production. This cycle, the 25th since systematic observations began in 1755, is proving more vigorous than anticipated.

Last Saturday’s geomagnetic storm, categorised as a G5—the highest alert level by both the Met Office and the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration—was the most severe since 2003. Triggered by multiple coronal mass ejections (CMEs), the storm disrupted high-frequency radio communications globally and posed challenges to various satellite operations.

The aftermath of the storm highlighted our vulnerability to space weather. SpaceX’s Starlink satellites experienced significant strain, leading to voltage spikes, as reported by the European Space Agency (ESA). The added radiation also disturbed GPS signals, impacting everything from aviation—necessitating the reroute of a transatlantic flight—to precision farming, with reported disruptions in GPS-dependent agricultural machinery.

On Earth, the heightened electrical currents tested power grid robustness worldwide. In New Zealand, some circuits were temporarily shut down as a precaution, while the UK’s electricity network operators implemented measures like extra back-up generation to manage potential voltage fluctuations.

This heightened solar activity brings not only stunning natural displays but also underscores the critical importance of preparedness for space weather impacts. The UK government ranks extreme space weather as a significant threat on its national risk register, citing potential severe consequences such as widespread power outages and infrastructure damage.

According to Sean Elvidge, a professor in space environment at the University of Birmingham, the recent storm serves as a reminder of the potentially devastating effects of more powerful storms, like the historical Carrington Event of 1859, which disrupted telegraph systems and caused widespread fires.

As the Sun continues its active phase, the role of advanced forecasting and international cooperation in mitigating space weather effects becomes increasingly crucial. Agencies like NOAA and the Met Office are enhancing their monitoring capabilities, ensuring that critical infrastructure and governments worldwide are forewarned of impending solar storms, thus safeguarding both modern technology and the daily lives dependent on it.

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Gething crisis: Tory Leader signals no-confidence motion in First Minister

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IN a bold assertion that could intensify the political instability in Wales, the Conservative leader in the Senedd, Andrew RT Davies, has indicated that a motion of no confidence against First Minister Vaughan Gething is increasingly likely. This comes in the wake of recent revelations and internal disputes within Welsh Labour that have put Mr. Gething’s leadership under severe scrutiny.

The controversy escalated following the dismissal of Hannah Blythyn, the minister for social partnership, who was accused by Mr. Gething of leaking confidential text messages to the press—an allegation she firmly denies. The leaked texts were reportedly from a pandemic-era group chat, which Mr. Gething admitted to deleting, details of which were first reported by Nation.Cymru.

This incident is part of a broader series of challenges facing Mr. Gething, including scrutiny over the substantial donations made to his leadership campaign. It was disclosed that his campaign had received £250,000, with a notable £200,000 contribution from a company led by a businessman previously convicted of environmental crimes. Mr. Gething announced he would be returning £31,000 to Labour from the campaign funds amidst this controversy.

In crisis: First Minister, Vaughan Gething

Adding to the upheaval, Mr. Davies criticised the First Minister’s leadership on BBC Radio Wales, questioning Mr. Gething’s transparency and ability to govern effectively. He emphasised the urgent need for Mr. Gething to justify his actions, particularly the sacking of Ms. Blythyn, to restore public trust in the government.

On Thursday, in an interview with ITV Wales, Mr. Gething defended his decision, highlighting the importance of trust and confidentiality among ministers and maintaining that his team was aligned on government priorities. He underscored the challenges faced by his administration and the need to focus on issues crucial to the Welsh populace.

Despite the turmoil, any formal motion of no confidence is not expected to be tabled immediately, owing to procedural and logistical considerations. With Labour holding half of the seats in the Senedd, the success of such a motion would hinge on cross-party support or abstentions from within the Labour ranks.

As tensions mount, the political landscape in Cardiff Bay remains fraught with uncertainty, with the potential for significant shifts in governance depending on the developments in the coming weeks.

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