Theatre owner criticises PM after football fans inflict ‘significant damage’ to his buildings
Theatre owner Sir Cameron Mackintosh has criticised Prime Minister Boris Johnson after football fans scaled the walls of one of his theatres before England’s game against Italy.
In a letter to Mr Johnson, he wrote: “As was widely reported and condemned on social media, at approximately 5pm [on 11 July], around 50 people broke through fencing at Wyndham’s Theatre and climbed on to the delicate canopy of this 19th century, Grade II listed building in the heart of the West End.
“Despite similar incidents after the semi-final, the police appeared insufficiently resourced to deal with this vandalism and the danger posed to the trespassers, and it was only later that riot police finally arrived.
“No doubt, had England won the match – which we were all rooting for – the situation would have greatly worsened later in the evening. Significant damage was inflicted on the theatre, with repairs estimated in the tens of thousands, and the incident could easily have resulted in serious injury or fatality.”
Sir Cameron called the scenes a “grim metaphor” for how he feels they have been treated during the pandemic, saying the theatre industry has been left to “fend for itself”.
He added that theatres have been denied direct financial help and that the isolation rules are “unworkable”.
The impresario – who is behind London iterations of Hamilton and Mary Poppins – goes on to ask the prime minister why theatres have only been allowed to open with a capacity of 50% or 1,000 and comply with “extensive” mitigations, yet “tens of thousands of people” were allowed to head to central London with “seemingly little to no crowd management”.
The theatre in question is due to open on 7 August with a production of Leopoldstadt.
Speaking to The Times, Sir Cameron said that COVID “caveats are causing us chaos”, revealing that during its first day of rehearsals for Hamilton this week, 15 cast members had to be sent home due to track and trace, while re-openings of Hairspray and Prince Of Egypt had to be postponed.
Football fans were gathered across central London on Sunday ahead of England’s game at Wembley Stadium, with some spotted scaling buses, cinemas and restaurants, as well as letting off flares and fireworks in Leicester Square.
This was despite efforts to enforce social distancing across the capital, as thousands arrived for the game.
Sunday’s match, which England lost on penalties to Italy, had an attendance of more than 60,000 and was part of the government’s pilot events scheme – despite theatres having their audiences capped.
In response to Sir Cameron’s criticisms, the Home Office directed Sky News to Priti Patel’s tweet from Monday, which said: “A huge thank you to every police officer who’s been working in Wembley & across the country throughout #EURO2020.
“You’re a credit to policing in this country & should be incredibly proud.
“I condemn the violent minority who assaulted you last night – these thugs aren’t true fans.”
Taylor Swift’s dad accused of punching photographer in face after Sydney show
An Australian photographer claims he was punched by Taylor Swift’s dad in Sydney following the singer’s concert.
Ben McDonald said he told police the incident happened at Neutral Bay Wharf, where Swift and her dad had just come ashore from a yacht hours after the singer’s final show in the city.
While officers did not release names, police said they are investigating an alleged assault by a 71-year-old man on a 51-year-old man at 2.30am local time.
Swift’s representatives have not responded to a request for comment, but a spokesperson told Rolling Stone magazine two people were “aggressively pushing” to get to Swift.
They added that the people grabbed security and threatened a member of the singer’s staff.
Mr McDonald said media had been waiting to picture the star as she walked towards two cars.
“There were about four or five security there and at one point, one of the American security started shoving his umbrella into me and my camera and then Taylor got in her car,” he said.
“Someone else came running at me and punched me in the left side of my face.
“Initially, I thought it was an Australian security that was trying to be the hero of the moment in the front of the Americans, but as it turned out it was her father.”
Mr McDonald said he recognised Swift’s father, Scott Swift, from a picture online – adding that he doesn’t have any bruising and didn’t need any treatment.
“In 23 years, I haven’t been assaulted and punched in the chops, particularly by the talent’s dad,” he said.
“We didn’t go rushing down the jetty. We didn’t go rushing to the back of the boat. We waited for her to come up. Kept it very civil.
“But no, they… put the umbrellas up and umbrellas over her and then shove the umbrellas into our faces and then make out that we’re the ones making contact with them.”
Swift left the country on Tuesday after more than 600,000 fans saw her Eras Tour performance across seven concerts.
Matthew Perry’s X account ‘hacked by fraudsters’ urging donation to fake foundation
The X account of Matthew Perry has been targeted by hackers, according to reports.
A foundation set up in honour of the Friends star, who died last October, appeared to be the target of a link in a pinned post at the top of his profile urging people to donate.
However, the post actually linked to duplicate site.
An Instagram post from the Matthew Perry Foundation said: “We have received reports that Matthew’s official X page has been hacked and is directing users to a fraudulent site soliciting donations via cryptocurrency.
“Please do not donate to this site or share the fraudulent posts on social media.
“MatthewPerryFoundation.org is the only website associated with the Foundation, and we are only accepting donations through this site.”
A caption added: “This is the only official Matthew Perry Foundation Instagram account, and we will only ever post official Foundation communications.
“Please report imposter accounts, and do not submit donations through any channel other than MatthewPerryFoundation.org. #MatthewPerry.”
The post was also flagged by X’s community notes feature saying that the account had been hacked and the link was fake.
Perry’s death was ruled an accident from the “acute effects of ketamine”. The actor, was found “unresponsive in the pool at his residence” on 28 October last year.
Most famous for playing Chandler Bing in hit US sitcom, Perry was open about his battle with addiction, setting up a sober living facility for men who were also struggling.
Following his death, the foundation was created in his name to help those struggling with addiction.
Jennifer Aniston, who played Rachel Green in Friends, was among those who urged support of the foundation.
The actor was recently honoured during the in memoriam segment at the SAG Awards, after there was controversy at the BAFTAs following his omission from their remembrance roll call.
Producer accuses Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs of forcing him to have sex with prostitutes
A music producer has accused Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs of sexually assaulting him and forcing him to have sex with prostitutes.
The suit, filed in New York, accuses the music mogul of repeated instances of unwanted groping and sexual touching.
It also says the music producer was forced to work in a bathroom while Combs showered and wandered around in the nude.
Combs’ lawyer, Shawn Holley, labelled the events described in the lawsuit “pure fiction”.
“We have overwhelming, indisputable proof that his claims are complete lies,” he said.
“We will address these outlandish allegations in court and take all appropriate action against those who make them.”
In the lawsuit, the producer claims Combs made him solicit sex workers and pressured him to sleep with them.
It also described a time when the producer suspected he had been drugged after waking up in a bed with a pair of prostitutes.
The claim is one of several sexual assault lawsuits filed against Combs in recent months, including a lawsuit from the R&B singer Cassie that was settled last year.
Another of Combs’ accusers is a woman who claims he raped her two decades ago when she was 17-years-old.
Combs has denied all the allegations.
In a statement in December, he described the claims as “sickening” and his accusers of “looking for a quick payday”.
“Let me be absolutely clear: I did not do any of the awful things being alleged. I will fight for my name, my family and for the truth,” he said.
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