Day: November 7, 2017

OXFORD UNIVERSITY ISLAMIC LECTURER IN RAPE AND SEXUAL HARASSMENT ALLEGATIONS

Four women have spoken of suffering abuse during relationships with Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan, who has taken a leave of absence from his prestigious teaching post at Oxford University.

It is understood the four women have not filed formal complaints, but have been in touch with French journalists to describe their experiences.

He allegedly targeted three of them when they were aged between 15 and 18 years  according to the newspaper The National‘s report.

The latest development follows a string of damning rape and sexual assault allegations about Mr Ramadan, a professor at Oxford University and the grandson of the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.

Mr Ramadan has denied the allegations and is counter-suing for libel.

According to The Tribune de Geneve newspaper, the incidents took place in the 1980s and 1990s when he was teaching in his hometown of Geneva.

Caroline Fourest, a French author who has written a book and a documentary on Mr Ramadan, told The National that she began hearing complaints about him as far back as 2009. The four latest women who have made direct claims about Mr Ramadan’s behaviour all live in Europe – in France, Belgium and Switzerland.

The consensual relationships with Mr Ramadan are alleged to have turned violent or abusive. “Not all were raped — they didn’t all experience the same amount of abuse,” Ms Fourest said. “I met two girls who were trapped in a sadistic relationship, and one who was a victim of rape with hard violence. Another was vague about what she experienced.”

 

Accusations about Mr Ramadan’s love life have circulated in European newspapers since late last month. One woman, Majda Laroussi, published pictures of Mr Ramadan half naked in a hotel room. Another, Lucia Canovi, spoke to other French journalists and says she is in contact with many more victims. Sexually explicit screenshots of Mr Ramadan on a Skype call, taken by an unnamed woman, have also been leaked to The National.

“What they describe confirms he is a Machiavellian character,” Ms Fourest said. “A predator is very smart to take advantage of girls who were vulnerable and target those who will be too scared to complain. In that case, the girls are too ashamed to speak up, and frightened by the Muslim Brotherhood. He had double standards, in his personal life as well as his professional life.”

She added: “My real fear is that we are only hearing from women in Europe. Mr Ramadan has been on countless trips around the world, giving lectures and speaking at conferences over the past 30 years. What about the women he encountered in Senegal, Yemen and Qatar? Will they be able to make complaints?”

Those who have made complaints say they have been inundated with insults and abuse.

French writer Henda Ayari, who lodged a rape complaint against the 55-year-old Swiss national on October 20, told The New York Times that she was subjected to an onslaught of vitriol since naming him as her attacker.

“The reaction, the buzz, really frightened me,” she said. “I am very scared of being recognised when I go out in the street. I am scared that they will hurt my children, that they know where I live. It is very hard.”

Ms Ayari has also received online death threats on her Facebook page.

“If complainants in France are receiving death threats, you can imagine how hard it is for women in other countries, in the Middle East and North Africa, to speak up,” Ms Fourest said.

Mr Ramadan has said the allegations are part of a campaign by his enemies to blacken his name. In a Facebook post last week, he said a new legal suit would follow “within a few days, in response to the campaign of lies launched by my adversaries”. He did not respond to requests for comment.

However, Ms Fourest has no doubt that the complaints are genuine. “Maybe some of the women were seduced by him, but they didn’t give their consent for rape and violence,” she said.

On Tuesday following the mounting allegations of rape and sexual assault, Oxford University announced Mr Ramadan would be taking a leave of absence. Mr Ramadan is professor of Contemporary Islamic Studies at St Antony’s College in Oxford, which is financed by Qatar.

A statement released by the University said the decision had been made by “mutual agreement” with immediate effect.

“Professor Ramadan’s teaching, supervising and examining duties will be reassigned, and he will not be present at the University or College. The University has consistently acknowledged the gravity of the allegations against Professor Ramadan, while emphasising the importance of fairness and the principles of justice and due process,” a spokesman for the University of Oxford said.

“An agreed leave of absence implies no presumption or acceptance of guilt and allows Professor Ramadan to address the extremely serious allegations made against him, all of which he categorically denies, while meeting our principal concern – addressing heightened and understandable distress, and putting first the wellbeing of our students and staff.”

On Saturday, Aisha Ali-Khan, a prominent women’s activist in the UK, filed a petition asking Oxford to suspend Mr Ramadan while the investigations are underway.

Ms Ali-Khan told The National that she had heard reports of Mr Ramadan’s sexual misconduct going as far back as 2008. In 2011, she spoke to an officer of the Metropolitan Police, the London police force, about a possible victim in the UK but no charges were filed and the matter was later dropped.

On Friday, Ms Ali-Khan submitted a Freedom of Information request to the Met Police, demanding to know if any other women have lodged complaints against Mr Ramadan in the past. She has yet to hear back.

“Following the most recent allegations as revealed by The Tribune de Genève and The National, questions are now being raised about the safety of the female students who encountered Mr Ramadan in his role at Oxford,” Ms Ali-Khan said.

“Parents whose daughters were in Oxford are now bound to ask: ‘Could our daughters have been subjected to sexual harassment by him given the nature of the allegations that are now coming out?’”

She added: “I am really afraid of the numbers could be incredibly high, especially if some of his victims are Muslim women who may be reluctant to come out and speak about sexual assault in case it compromises their or their family’s honour.

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LONDON PROSECCO LOVERS TO GET THEIR OWN DEDICATED BAR

We have wine bars and coffee bars so why not Prosecco bars?

The capital’s very first permanent bar dedicated to prosecco is set to open near Tower Bridge next year, Timeout London reports.

This sure will be great news for lovers of fine Italian wine in the city.

The aptly named Prosecco House is due to launch in February 2018 at One Tower Bridge and will be offering all-day drinking from a list of over 20 types of the fizzy wine.

Served from 11am when the bar will open for business each day, prosecco will be sourced from five vineyards in Veneto, Italy, as selected by the bar’s founder.

Glasses will start at £7.50 and prosecco-based cocktails including spritzes and bellinis will also pepper the drinks list.

Meanwhile, a menu of cicchetti, meats and cheese will continue the Italian theme. Even the decor will include nods to Italy, with plush marble sourced from the country and paired with swank-sounding velvet bar stools in burnt orange.

prosecco house

Guests will also be able to buy bottles to take away, and Prosecco House will be offering London’s first prosecco delivery service via Uber Eats and Deliveroo to continue the fizzy wine party in your own prosecco house. Well, as they say, once you pop, you just can’t stop.

prosecco house

Prosecco House is due to open in early February 2018 at 1 Crown Square, One Tower Bridge, SE1 2SE.

NORTHERN IRELAND HEATH SERVICE PAYING AGENCY NURSES £120 PER HOUR TO PLUG SHORTAGE

Northern Ireland’s cash-strapped health service is paying up to £120 an hour for agency nurses as it struggles to plug chronic staff shortages, it can be revealed.Hospitals and clinics are becoming increasingly reliant on agency nurses due to difficulties in filling staff posts.

The Press Association has learned that the Department of Health is having to pay between £40 and £120 per hour for uncontracted private agency nurses to ensure health facilities can be kept open.

Health bosses have admitted that the situation is not sustainable.

The Scottish Nursing Guild (SNG) is one of the most high profile agencies to supply agency staff in the region.

A nurse.

The Department of Health confirmed to the Press Association that payments to SNG can “range from some £40 per hour to a high of some £120 per hour.”

In a statement the Department said this “would be higher and in some cases significantly higher” than rates paid to staff nurses and contracted agency nurses.

The Department added that payment rates to Scottish Nursing Guild will vary, according to posts and shifts being filled and that the highest rates will typically involve specialist nurse roles over public holiday periods.

According to its website, SNG’s payrates for registered nurses range from £24 an hour to £82.50. The higher pay rate is for a nurse in charge of a specialist unit on a bank or public holiday.

Martin McGuinness death
SDLP MLA Patsy McGlone has called for an Audit Office review of agency spending

SNG is not one of the Department of Health’s contracted suppliers, which means there are no set rates to what the agency can charge.

The Department said SNG “have taken a conscious decision not to tender for work and enter into a contractual relationship at set rates”.

A spokesperson for the Department added that SNG are only used as a last resort, when all other options to secure staff cover have been exhausted, such as bank and contracted agency staff.


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Thus it can come down to a choice to use Scottish Guild in such circumstances, or to close facilities as safe staffing levels could not be put in place,” the spokesperson added.

They continued: “Agency and locum staff are only engaged when necessary, for instance providing cover where there are vacancies and in cases of sick leave and maternity/paternity leave.

“Without transformation of Health and Social Care, agency and locum costs will continue to increase. This is not sustainable, particularly at a time of serious financial pressures right across the public sector.”

SNG could not be reached for comment.

SDLP MLA Patsy McGlone described the expenditure as “ludicrous” and called for the Audit Office to carry out a review of spending.

WELSH LABOUR MINISTER SUSPENDED BY PARTY AMID ALLEGATIONS OF SEXUAL IMPROPRIETY FOUND DEAD AT HOME

A former Welsh Government minister who stepped down from his role following  allegations of sexual impropriety has been found dead.

Carl Sargeant was found at his home in Connah’s Quay, north Wales, at 11.30am today.

He is believed to have taken his own life.

The married father of two, had been suspended by the Labour Party in light of the allegations.

He had held a number of ministerial posts during his political career, most recently as Communities Secretary.

In a statement on Twitter on November 3, Sargeant said: “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 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.

“Given the nature of the allegations, I agreed with the First Minister that it was right that I stand aside from cabinet today. I look forward to returning to Government once my name has been cleared.”

Tributes have been paid to him from within the Labour Party and across the political spectrum.

In a statement, his family paid tribute to the keen football fan, who supported Newcastle United and had entered politics after the closure of the Shotton steelworks in the 1980s.

They said: “He wasn’t simply a part of our family. He was the glue that bound us together.

“He was the heart of our family. We loved him so very much.

“We are devastated beyond words, and we know our grief will be shared by all those who knew and loved him.

“We are in shock and grief. We ask that our privacy is respected at this time.”

First Minister Carwyn Jones described him as a friend.

“He will be a great loss both to our party and to the Senedd. My heartfelt sympathies are with his family at this difficult time.”

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said: “This is terrible and deeply shocking news. My thoughts and profound sympathy are with Carl’s family, friends and colleagues.”

All National Assembly business has been suspended.

COURT ORDERS FAYOSE TO PAY COMPENSATION TO DISMISSED FAYEMI’S APPOINTEES

The Ekiti State Governor Ayodele Fayose, has been ordered by a court to pay over N234 million to chairmen and members of statutory commissions appointed  by former Governor Kayode Fayemi.
Gov-Fayemi1
Former Governor Kayode Fayemi appointed the officials dismissed by Fayose
The order came as a result of a successful suit brought against the governor for dismissing them without following due process.
Fayose had sacked members of the State Independent National Electoral
Commission (SIEC), Civil Service Commission (CSC), House of Assembly
Service Commission (HASC) and Local Government Service Commission
(LGSC) on assumption of office in October 2014 while their tenures were still subsisting.
The officials, through the suit filed on their behalf by Femi Falana (SAN), had urged the court to reverse their unlawful dismissal and reinstate them into the respective positions
The claimants said they had not served out their tenures by the time the governor sacked them.
The court gave the verdict while delivering judgment in separate suits filed by the sacked members of the commissions against the governor of Ekiti State and the Attorney General of Ekiti State.

VINDICTIVE WEINSTEIN HIRED SPIES AND PRIVATE INVESTIGATORS TO DIG DIRT ON HIS VICTIMS AND JOURNALISTS WHO TRIED TO EXPOSE SEXUAL HARASSMENT ALLEGATIONS

The NewYorker has revealed that rather than being contrite or ashamed for his behavior of persistently sexually harassing actresses and models, disgraced producer Harvey Weinstein hired private investigators to unearth the past of many of his victims as well as the journalists who were in the process of exposing the allegations against him.

It is believed that this was for the purpose of blackmailing his numerous victims into silence. This process of suppressing allegations that he had sexually harassed or assaulted numerous women started in the fall of 2016.

According to the story published in the NewYorker He began to hire private security agencies to collect information on the women and the journalists trying to expose the allegations. According to dozens of pages of documents, and seven people directly involved in the effort, the firms that Weinstein hired included Kroll, which is one of the world’s largest corporate-intelligence companies, and Black Cube, an enterprise run largely by former officers of Mossad and other Israeli intelligence agencies. Black Cube, which has branches in Tel Aviv, London, and Paris, offers its clients the skills of operatives “highly experienced and trained in Israel’s elite military and governmental intelligence units,” according to its literature.

Two private investigators from Black Cube, using false identities, met with the actress Rose McGowan, who eventually publicly accused Weinstein of rape, to extract information from her. One of the investigators pretended to be a women’s-rights advocate and secretly recorded at least four meetings with McGowan. The same operative, using a different false identity and implying that she had an allegation against Weinstein, met twice with a journalist to find out which women were talking to the press. In other cases, journalists directed by Weinstein or the private investigators interviewed women and reported back the details.

The explicit goal of the investigations, laid out in one contract with Black Cube, signed in July, was to stop the publication of the abuse allegations against Weinstein that eventually emerged in the New York Times and The New Yorker. Over the course of a year, Weinstein had the agencies “target,” or collect information on, dozens of individuals, and compile psychological profiles that sometimes focussed on their personal or sexual histories. Weinstein monitored the progress of the investigations personally. He also enlisted former employees from his film enterprises to join in the effort, collecting names and placing calls that, according to some sources who received them, felt intimidating.

In some cases, the investigative effort was run through Weinstein’s lawyers, including David Boies, a celebrated attorney who represented Al Gore in the 2000 Presidential-election dispute and argued for marriage equality before the U.S. Supreme Court. Boies personally signed the contract directing Black Cube to attempt to uncover information that would stop the publication of a Timesstory about Weinstein’s abuses, while his firm was also representing the Times, including in a libel case.

Farrow-Harvey-Weinsteins-Army-of-Spies-STORY

Boies confirmed that his firm contracted with and paid two of the agencies and that investigators from one of them sent him reports, which were then passed on to Weinstein. He said that he did not select the firms or direct the investigators’ work. He also denied that the work regarding the Times story represented a conflict of interest. Boies said that his firm’s involvement with the investigators was a mistake. “We should not have been contracting with and paying investigators that we did not select and direct,” he told me. “At the time, it seemed a reasonable accommodation for a client, but it was not thought through, and that was my mistake. It was a mistake at the time.”

Techniques like the ones used by the agencies on Weinstein’s behalf are almost always kept secret, and, because such relationships are often run through law firms, the investigations are theoretically protected by attorney-client privilege, which could prevent them from being disclosed in court. The documents and sources reveal the tools and tactics available to powerful individuals to suppress negative stories and, in some cases, forestall criminal investigations.

In a statement, Weinstein’s spokesperson, Sallie Hofmeister, said, “It is a fiction to suggest that any individuals were targeted or suppressed at any time.”

In May, 2017, McGowan received an e-mail from a literary agency introducing her to a woman who identified herself as Diana Filip, the deputy head of sustainable and responsible investments at Reuben Capital Partners, a London-based wealth-management firm. Filip told McGowan that she was launching an initiative to combat discrimination against women in the workplace, and asked McGowan, a vocal women’s-rights advocate, to speak at a gala kickoff event later that year. Filip offered McGowan a fee of sixty thousand dollars. “I understand that we have a lot in common,” Filip wrote to McGowan before their first meeting, in May, at the Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills.

Filip had a U.K. cell-phone number, and she spoke with what McGowan took to be a German accent. Over the following months, the two women met at least three more times at hotel bars in Los Angeles and New York and other locations. “I took her to the Venice boardwalk and we had ice cream while we strolled,” McGowan told me, adding that Filip was “very kind.” The two talked at length about issues relating to women’s empowerment. Filip also repeatedly told McGowan that she wanted to make a significant investment in McGowan’s production company.

Filip was persistent. In one e-mail, she suggested meeting in Los Angeles and then, when McGowan said she would be in New York, Filip said she could meet there just as easily. She also began pressing McGowan for information. In a conversation in July, McGowan revealed to Filip that she had spoken to me as part of my reporting on Weinstein. A week later, I received an e-mail from Filip asking for a meeting and suggesting that I join her campaign to endprofessional discrimination against women. “I am very impressed with your work as a male advocate for gender equality, and believe that you would make an invaluable addition to our activities,” she wrote, using her wealth-management firm’s e-mail address. Unsure of who she was, I did not respond.

Filip continued to meet with McGowan. In one meeting in September, Filip was joined by another Black Cube operative, who used the name Paul and claimed to be a colleague at Reuben Capital Partners. The goal, according to two sources with knowledge of the effort, was to pass McGowan to another operative to extract more information. On October 10th, the day The New Yorker published my story about Weinstein, Filip reached out to McGowan in an e-mail. “Hi Love,” she wrote. “How are you feeling? . . . Just wanted to tell you how brave I think you are.” She signed off with an “xx.” Filip e-mailed McGowan as recently as October 23rd.

weinstein-accusers-18-large-169
At least 18 women have accused Weinstein of sexual harassment and in some cases, rape

In fact, “Diana Filip” was an alias for a former officer in the Israeli Defense Forces who originally hailed from Eastern Europe and was working for Black Cube, according to three individuals with knowledge of the situation. When I sent McGowan photos of the Black Cube agent, she recognized her instantly. “Oh my God,” she wrote back. “Reuben Capital. Diana Filip. No fucking way.”

Ben Wallace, a reporter at New York who was pursuing a story on Weinstein, said that the same woman met with him twice last fall. She identified herself only as Anna and suggested that she had an allegation against Weinstein. When I presented Wallace with the same photographs of Black Cube’s undercover operative, Wallace recalled her vividly. “That’s her,” he said. Like McGowan, Wallace said that the woman had what he assumed to be a German accent, as well as a U.K. cell-phone number. Wallace told me that Anna first contacted him on October 28, 2016, when he had been working on the Weinstein story for about a month and a half. Anna declined to disclose who had given her Wallace’s information.

Over the course of the two meetings, Wallace grew increasingly suspicious of her motives. Anna seemed to be pushing him for information, he recalled, “about the status and scope of my inquiry, and about who I might be talking to, without giving me any meaningful help or information.” During their second meeting, Anna requested that they sit close together, leading Wallace to suspect that she might be recording the exchange. When she recounted her experiences with Weinstein, Wallace said, “it seemed like soap-opera acting.” Wallace wasn’t the only journalist the woman contacted. In addition to her e-mails to me, Filip also e-mailed Jodi Kantor, of the Times, according to sources involved in the effort.

The U.K. cell-phone numbers that Filip provided to Wallace and McGowan have been disconnected. Calls to Reuben Capital Partners’ number in London went unanswered. As recently as Friday, the firm had a bare-bones Web site, with stock photos and generic text passages about asset management and an initiative called Women in Focus. The site, which has now been taken down, listed an address near Piccadilly Circus, operated by a company specializing in shared office space. That company said that it had never heard of Reuben Capital Partners. Two sources with knowledge of Weinstein’s work with Black Cube said that the firm creates fictional companies to provide cover for its operatives, and that Filip’s firm was one of them.

Black Cube declined to comment on the specifics of any work it did for Weinstein. The agency said in a statement, “It is Black Cube’s policy to never discuss its clients with any third party, and to never confirm or deny any speculation made with regard to the company’s work. Black Cube supports the work of many leading law firms around the world, especially in the US, gathering evidence for complex legal processes, involving commercial disputes, among them uncovering negative campaigns. . . . It should be highlighted that Black Cube applies high moral standards to its work, and operates in full compliance with the law of any jurisdiction in which it operates—strictly following the guidance and legal opinions provided by leading law firms from around the world.” The contract with the firm also specified that all of its work would be obtained “by legal means and in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations.”

Last fall, Weinstein began mentioning Black Cube by name in conversations with his associates and attorneys.

The agency had made a name for itself digging up information for companies in Israel, Europe, and the U.S. that led to successful legal judgments against business rivals. But the firm has also faced legal questions about its employees’ use of fake identities and other tactics. Last year, two of its investigators were arrested in Romania on hacking charges. In the end, the company reached an agreement with the Romanian authorities, under which the operatives admitted to hacking and were released. Two sources familiar with the agency defended its decision to work for Weinstein, saying that they originally believed that the assignment focussed on his business rivals. But even the earliest lists of names that Weinstein provided to Black Cube included actresses and journalists.

On October 28, 2016, Boies’s law firm, Boies Schiller Flexner, wired to Black Cube the first hundred thousand dollars, toward what would ultimately be a six-hundred-thousand-dollar invoice. (The documents do not make clear how much of the invoice was paid.) The law firm and Black Cube signed a contract that month and several others later.

One, dated July 11, 2017, and bearing Boies’s signature, states that the project’s “primary objectives” are to “provide intelligence which will help the Client’s efforts to completely stop the publication of a new negative article in a leading NY newspaper” and to “obtain additional content of a book which currently being written and includes harmful negative information on and about the Client,” who is identified as Weinstein in multiple documents. (In one e-mail, a Black Cube executive asks lawyers retained by the agency to refer to Weinstein as “the end client” or “Mr. X,” noting that referring to him by name “will make him extremely angry.”) The article mentioned in the contract was, according to three sources, the story that ultimately ran in the Times on October 5th.

The book was “Brave,” a memoir by McGowan, scheduled for publication by HarperCollins in January. The documents show that, in the end, the agency delivered to Weinstein more than a hundred pages of transcripts and descriptions of the book, based on tens of hours of recorded conversations between McGowan and the female private investigator.

You can read the full report in TheNewYorker

NIGERIA: KADUNA TEACHERS THREATEN TO SHUT DOWN SCHOOLS STATEWIDE FOLLOWING EL RUFAI’S SHOCKING DISMISSAL OF OVER 21,000 TEACHERS

The Kaduna State chapter of the Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT) has given the state government a two week ultimatum to rescind its decision to sack 21,780 primary school teachers.

The union has also dragged the state government before the industrial court over the issue.

A report in This Day newspaper says the teachers were said to have failed a primary four exam, administered on them during a recent competency test by the government.

The state government had already advertised for the recruitment of 25,000 teachers to replace those who failed the exam.

But at a press conference yesterday in Kaduna, the  NUT said arrangements had been concluded for an indefinite strike if the state government did not suspend the planned sack within two weeks.

State chairman of the union, Comrade Audu Amba, who read an open letter  to Governor El-Rufai during the press conference said it was

Initially agreed by all stakeholders in the education sector that the pass mark for the competency test be pegged at 60 per cent, while those who are unable to score up to 60 per cent be retrained.

“The NUT, Kaduna State wing  as a responsible stakeholder in the educational sector even though aware of the position of the law as it relates to the body statutorily empowered to regulate the teaching profession, cooperated with the Kaduna State government under the mistaken believe that the intention of the state government was altruistic,  in the sense that it is aimed at enhancing state.

“However, with the benefit of hindsight, we now know better” Amba said.

He regretted further that “in a classical display of bad faith which started as a rumour, the Kaduna State government unilaterally and arbitrarily pegged the pass mark for the competency test at an unprecedented 75 per cent

“That, the NUT, Kaduna State wing wrote a letter to you,  appealing to your conscience to rescind the decision above, but as usual,  you ignored the letter and went ahead with your avowed determination to impose your will against the consensus of bonafide stakeholders in the educational sector.

Read the full letter here  


 

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