Connect with us

Published

on

Ben Stokes has announced he is to take an “indefinite” break from cricket to ”prioritise his mental well-being”.

The England all-rounder will initially miss the upcoming Test series against India.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) said it fully supported his decision.

Managing director of England Men’s Cricket, Ashley Giles, said: “Ben has shown tremendous courage to open up about his feelings and wellbeing.

“Our primary focus has always been and will continue to be the mental health and welfare of all of our people.

“The demands on our athletes to prepare and play elite sport are relentless in a typical environment, but the ongoing pandemic has acutely compounded this.

“Spending significant amounts of time away from family, with minimal freedoms, is extremely challenging.

More on Ben Stokes

“The cumulative effect of operating almost continuously in these environments over the last 16 months has had a major impact on everyone’s wellbeing.

“Ben will be given as long as he needs, and we look forward to seeing him playing cricket for England in the future.”

Continue Reading

UK

Post Office scandal: Ex-boss accused subpostmasters in email of having ‘their hand in the till’

Published

on

By

Post Office scandal: Ex-boss accused subpostmasters in email of having 'their hand in the till'

A Post Office boss blamed cash shortfalls caused by computer glitches on branch managers “with their hand in the till”.

An email written by Alan Cook, who was managing director of the group from 2006 to 2010, has been read out to the public inquiry into the Horizon IT scandal.

Giving evidence on Friday, he said it was an expression he would “regret for the rest of my life”.

Mr Cook was at the helm when about 200 prosecutions were brought against subpostmasters.

Despite being in charge, he said he was “unaware” it was the Post Office that had brought criminal proceedings against individuals – and that during his time in the top job, it did not feel like the Post Office “had a crisis on its hands”.

Alan Cook arrives to give evidence to the Post Office Horizon IT inquiry.
Pic: Reuters
Image:
Alan Cook arrives to give evidence to the Post Office inquiry. Pic: Reuters

An email sent by Mr Cook in October 2009 to a Royal Mail Group press officer said: “For some strange reason there is a steadily building nervousness about the accuracy of the Horizon system and the press are on it now as well.

“It is… strange in that the system has been stable and reliable for many years now and there is absolutely no logical reason why these fears should now develop.

More on Post Office Scandal

“My instincts tell me that, in a recession, subbies (subpostmasters) with their hand in the till choose to blame the technology when they are found to be short of cash.”

Pressed over his remarks at the inquiry, Mr Cook said: “Well that’s an expression I will regret for the rest of my life. It was an inappropriate thing to put in an email – not in line with my view of subpostmasters.”

Hundreds of people were wrongly convicted of stealing after bugs and errors in the Horizon accounting system made it appear as though money was missing at their branches.

Victims faced prison and financial ruin, others were ostracised by their communities, while some took their own lives.

Fresh attention was brought to the scandal after ITV broadcast the drama Mr Bates Vs The Post Office, prompting government action.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Alan Bates speaks at Post Office inquiry

Earlier, as he began giving evidence, Mr Cook said he wanted to “put on record most strongly my personal apology and sympathies with all subpostmasters their families and those affected by this”.

He also told the inquiry: “I was unaware that the Post Office were the prosecuting authority.

“I knew there were court cases but didn’t realise that the Post Office in about two-thirds of the cases had initiated the prosecution as opposed to the DPP (director of public prosecutions) or the police.”

During his time as non-executive director of the Post Office, Mr Cook said it was his “regret” he failed to properly understand minutes of a meeting which said the organisation had a “principle of undertaking prosecutions”.

He said: “It never occurred to me reading that that the Post Office was the sole arbiter of whether or not that criminal prosecution would proceed.”

Mr Cook added: “I had never come across a situation before that a trading entity could initiate criminal prosecutions themselves.

“I’m not blaming others for this, it’s my misunderstanding but I’ve just not encountered that type of situation.”

He acknowledged he should have known the Post Office was making prosecutorial decisions.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Jailed subpostmistress watches evidence

Counsel to the inquiry Sam Stevens asked: “Your evidence is still that in no point in the years that you were the managing director, (nobody) in the security or investigations team raised the fact that they made decisions to prosecute?”

Responding, Mr Cook said: “That is my position, definitely.”

He went on: “I never asked that question – well I did obviously when we got to the Computer Weekly article (in 2009) which we’ll get to but prior to that point I had gone through not picking up that.

“I’m not blaming them for not spelling it out enough, to be frank I’m blaming me for not picking up on it.”

During his time at the Post Office, Mr Cook said in his witness statement it was not apparent there was a problem with the Horizon system, pointing out that financial audits “did not identify a systemic issue”.

He added: “It is a matter of deep regret to me that I did not recognise that the early issues raised in 2009 were an indication of a systemic issue before I left POL (Post Office Limited) in February 2010.

“In addition, I have since learned that the annual rate of prosecutions brought by POL in the seven years prior to my appointment (ie since 1999) had remained steady during that time, and continued to remain steady during my time in office and thereafter. It did not feel, at the time, that POL had a crisis on its hands.”

Continue Reading

UK

Harry Kane’s children involved in three-car crash in Germany

Published

on

By

Harry Kane's children involved in three-car crash in Germany

Harry Kane’s three eldest children were taken to hospital as a precaution following a three-car crash in Germany.

The collision happened on Monday at around 5.15pm local time near Munich, just as the 30-year-old landed with Bayern Munich for their Champions League quarter-final match against Arsenal.

Munich Police said a Renault with four people had been turning left to gain access to the A95 motorway when it collided with an oncoming Mercedes carrying three of Kane’s children, aged between three and seven, travelling on state road 2071.

Pic: Hohenschaftlarn Fire Department
Image:
The accident is being investigated. Pic: Hohenschaftlarn Fire Department

The Renault then skidded and also hit a Land Rover.

Police said: “All occupants of the vehicles involved suffered minor injuries as a result of the collision.”

Kane’s children, Louis, Vivienne, and Ivy were taken by an ambulance to hospital as a precaution.

The Munich force put the accident damage at tens of thousands of euros.

More on Germany

It added: “The junction area was partially closed for around two hours while the accident was being investigated. There were traffic disruptions.”

The England captain has four children with his wife, Kate.

His youngest child, baby Harry, born last August, and his wife were not in the vehicle.

Harry Kane. Pic: PA
Image:
The 30-year-old swapped London for Munich last summer. Pic: PA

Read more on Sky News:
Prince William and George spotted in first public outing since Kate’s cancer announcement
Astronaut Tim Peake hopes to head back to space

Kane swapped London for Munich last summer as he left boyhood club Tottenham to join Bayern on a four-year deal.

He spent the first few months of his stay in Germany in a hotel as his wife Kate and their young family stayed behind before they all made the move into a new house after Christmas.

He has been taking German lessons to learn the language.

Continue Reading

UK

Early-stage trial shows promising results for ‘desperately needed’ chlamydia vaccine

Published

on

By

Early-stage trial shows promising results for 'desperately needed' chlamydia vaccine

An early-stage clinical trial has come back with promising results for a chlamydia vaccine, researchers have said.

There is currently no jab to protect against the disease, which is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in the UK.

Almost 200,000 cases were identified in England alone in 2022, a nearly 25% rise from the year before, according to latest NHS figures.

Chlamydia is a common cause of infertility in women. It can cause pelvic inflammatory disease, which can lead to scar tissue which makes it harder to get pregnant if left untreated.

The bacteria can also cause an eye infection that is responsible for vision loss in 1.9 million people worldwide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the US.

An early clinical trial of the experimental vaccine, led by researchers in the UK and Denmark, found it was safe and induced an immune response, according to findings published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases journal.

More than 150 people took part in the study between 2020 and 2022 at the National Institute for Health Research in London.

Participants were equally split between healthy men and women with an average age of 26. None of them had chlamydia.

The researchers tested several different dosages of the vaccine, and participants got either the jab or a placebo on three separate days over a period of almost four months.

Read more:
STI rates soar in UK
Gonorrhoea and syphilis diagnoses hit record levels
New test for ‘most common STI you’ve never heard of’

Although the vaccine induced an immune response, Dr Hilary Reno, medical director of the St Louis County Sexual Health Clinic, said questions remained about its effectiveness.

She said: “Does it confer the ability to hold off infection with chlamydia? If you do have an infection, does it mean you’re more likely to have an asymptomatic infection?

“We don’t know that and that’s what the next phase of studies would be.”

The researchers are now planning to launch a larger, “phase two” trial that would look at the vaccine’s effectiveness.

The hope is that one day the jab will be able to prevent both infections in the reproductive system, as well as in the eyes, said Jes Dietrich, a senior scientist at the Statens Serum Institute in Denmark and a lead author of the study.

In addition to a shot in the arm, participants in the study also received a vaccine in the form of an eye drop.

“I was very pleasantly surprised because it’s really difficult to induce immunity in the eye,” Dr Dietrich said.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Measles cases surge across the country

David Harvey, executive director of the National Coalition of STD Directors in the US, said the vaccine was “desperately needed”.

One of the other most common STIs is the Human Papillomavirus (HPV), although most people with the virus have no symptoms.

Some strains are associated with cervical cancer and the UK has been offering all secondary school girls an HPV vaccine since 2008.

Continue Reading

Trending