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Max Malins: Saracens full-back out for three months after breaking foot against Exeter

Max Malins made his Sarries debut against Scarlets in January 2017

Saracens full-back Max Malins has had surgery to repair a broken foot, ruling him out for three months.

The 23-year-old former England Under-20 international suffered the injury in Sarries’ 14-7 defeat at Premiership leaders Exeter on 29 December.

He will now begin a rehabilitation programme following Monday’s successful operation but is expected to be out of action until April.

Saracens are bottom of the Premiership table on -7 points.

The reigning champions were docked 35 points and fined £5.36m in November for breaching salary cap regulations.

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Civil partnerships: First mixed-sex unions take place

Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan

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Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan took their fight for civil partnerships to the Supreme Court

One of the first mixed-sex couples to become civil partners hailed it as a “unique, special and personal moment”.

Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan, who won a legal battle for the right to heterosexual civil partnerships, celebrated at Kensington and Chelsea Register Office in west London.

Previously, the law only allowed same-sex couples to be civil partners.

About 84,000 mixed-sex couples could form civil partnerships next year, the government says.

Introduced for same-sex couples in 2005, civil partnerships offer almost identical rights as marriage, including property, inheritance and tax entitlements.

After Ms Steinfeld and Mr Keidan won their legal bid at the Supreme Court in 2018 for the right to have a civil partnership instead of a marriage, the rules were changed to make them available to everyone.

Speaking on the steps of the register office, Ms Steinfeld said their “personal wish” to form a civil partnership came from a “desire to formalise our relationship in a more modern way, with a focus on equality, and mutual respect”.

She said: “So today is a unique, special and personal moment for us, a moment that we’ve been able to affirm our love and commitment to one another in the company of our beautiful children, Eden and Ariel, and close friends.”

Ms Steinfeld said it creates “new, modern possibilities” for thousands of people to express their love and commitment and ends “the unrivalled position of marriage”.

She called for “deeper discussions” on giving legal recognition to other kinds of caring relationships, including those between friends, siblings and co-parents.

Mr Keidan said they succeeded in their legal battle “against all odds” but added that their mental health has suffered under the strain.

Five years after being refused permission to give notice of a heterosexual civil partnership, Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan will finally become civil partners today.

Their conscientious objection to marriage and what they saw as its patriarchal associations led to a lengthy legal battle culminating in a unanimous Supreme Court ruling last year that the law was discriminatory and breached their right to a family and private life.

The government changed the law, opening such a union to the majority of the UK’s 3.3 million co-habiting heterosexual couples.

Many believe they are already protected by so-called “common law marriages”, but these do not exist.

As a result, they do not enjoy the same property, inheritance and tax entitlements as married couples and civil partners.

The government estimates as many as 84,000 mixed sex couples could become civil partners this year, giving them greater rights and protections within their relationships, without having to get married.

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Julie Thorpe and Keith Lomax are among thousands of opposite sex couples that are set to enter into a civil partnership

Another couple, Julie Thorpe, 61, and Keith Lomax, 70, said they were looking forward to being among the first mixed-sex people to officially enter a civil partnership – but it would not change their relationship “one jot”.

The couple from near Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire, have been living together for most of their 37-year relationship and have three children.

They will have a civil partnership ceremony at a register office in Halifax.

Ms Thorpe said: “It won’t change our relationship one jot. It will not make any difference to how we behave towards each other when we get up the next day.

“We have had a very successful relationship for 37 years and a bit of paper is not going to make any difference to that whatsoever. It does give us some legal protection within that relationship.”

Mr Lomax, a human rights lawyer, added: “It is a mutual celebration of all of those and also of the people who actually brought the case to court and changed the law in the first place, because that was a very brave and bold thing to do at considerable financial risk.”

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Croydon stabbing: Man, 60, found injured in street dies

Woodcroft Road

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The victim was found suffering from stab wounds outside a property in Woodcroft Road

A 60-year-old man has been stabbed to death in a residential street in south London.

Police and ambulance crews were called to reports of a stabbing in Woodcroft Road, Thornton Heath, Croydon, at 21:30 GMT on Monday.

The victim was found outside a property with knife injuries and was pronounced dead at 21:49, the Met Police said.

A 50-year-old man was arrested at the scene on suspicion of murder and taken into custody.

The suspect became unwell while in custody and was transferred to hospital where he is in a stable condition, police said.

Det Ch Insp Simon Harding said: “The victim was found injured in a residential street. While it is not a heavy footfall location, there may have been members of the public travelling through Woodcroft Road who saw something.

“I urge those people to come forward and speak to my officers without delay.

“No matter how insignificant you think it may be please do make the call.

“We are building the sequence of events leading up to and immediately following this attack which has led to a man’s death, your call could complete the picture.”

Inquiries into the circumstances continue.

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Love Island host Caroline Flack to stand down

Caroline Flack

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Caroline Flack is due to appear at Highbury Corner Magistrates’ Court on 23 December

Love Island host Caroline Flack has stood down from the show after being charged with assault by beating.

“I feel the best thing I can do is stand down for series six,” she said, describing ITV2’s Love Island as “the best show on telly”.

Police were called to the 40-year-old’s home in Islington, London, last week, where she lives with her partner, tennis player Lewis Burton.

She was bailed and will appear before magistrates on Monday.

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“There have been a significant number of media reports and allegations into my personal life,” she said in her Instagram story on Tuesday.

“While matters were not as have been reported, I am committed to working with the authorities and I can’t comment further on these matters until the legal process is over.”

The star, who was due to present the forthcoming winter edition of the popular ITV2 show – which is expected to start on 12 January – added: “However, Love Island has been my world for the last five years, it’s the best show on telly.

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Love Island won a TV Bafta award last year

“In order not to detract attention from the upcoming series I feel the best thing I can do is stand down for series six. I want to wish the incredible team working on the show a fantastic series in Cape Town.”

Flack began presenting Love Island in summer 2015, having fronted the 12th series of The X Factor alongside Olly Murs, and winning Strictly Come Dancing in 2014.

An ITV spokesperson said: “ITV has a long-standing relationship with Caroline and we understand and accept her decision.

“We will remain in contact with her over the coming months about future series of Love Island.”

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She won Strictly Come Dancing in 2014

On Monday, Burton wrote on Instagram that his girlfriend had been subject to a “witch hunt” since being charged, describing her as “the most lovely girl”.

“I’m tired of the lies and abuse aimed at my girlfriend. This is not a witch hunt, this is someone’s life,” he wrote.

The TV star mentioned him personally online, writing: “My boyfriend Lewis… I love you.”

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Flack and boyfriend Lewis Burton


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London Bridge attack victim Saskia Jones ‘was perfect soul’

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Media captionSaskia Jones wanted “to help the world”

A woman who was stabbed to death in the London Bridge attack was a “fearless warrior” determined to do good, friends have said.

Saskia Jones, 23, from Stratford-upon-Avon, was killed by convicted terrorist Usman Khan, 28, as she attended a prisoner rehabilitation event .

Her friend Sebastian Lefeuvre described the Cambridge University graduate’s death as senseless.

“She was just the most perfect soul and she’s gone,” he said.

Ms Jones and Jack Merritt, 25, who was also killed at the Cambridge University organised conference, are being remembered at a vigil and service in London.

Mr Lefeuvre, who had been friends with Ms Jones since they were teenagers, said he met her at a gym, adding she was as “relentless” with her workouts as she was in other areas of life.

“She had the drive and determination to become something,” he said.

“At 23 years old she had accomplished things that people hadn’t done in their lifetime.”

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Sebastian Lefeuvre said Ms Jones saw the best in people

Ms Jones studied criminology at Anglia Ruskin University before doing a masters at Cambridge University, where she carried out voluntary work with inmates at HMP Grendon.

She was applying to become a police officer.

Colleen Moore, a criminology lecturer at Anglia Ruskin who became her friend, described her as a “lovely woman” who was “fearless and a warrior”.

“She stood out above everyone – partly because she wanted to, she wasn’t afraid to say anything,” she said.

“There was no fooling her. She was really funny, she had a wicked sense of humour, she was cheeky and she was mischievous.”

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Colleen Moore said Ms Jones was passionate about criminology

Mr Lefeuvre said the death of his friend “doesn’t make sense”.

“I just feel really, really sad. Usman Khan got a second chance and Saskia didn’t and that’s it,” he said.

“She hadn’t even entered the real world yet. She was a young women ready to just get out there – and she’s dead.”

Jake Partridge, another friend from Stratford, said Ms Jones was quiet until you “got to know her”.

“She was loud then, she was vibrant,” he said.

“She’d have a joke with you and would put you in your place when you were wrong.”

He said he was “heartbroken”, adding: “It’s not fair, this world has changed.”

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Bloxham School, which released this picture of Ms Jones as a pupil, said she would be remembered for her generosity and kindness

Bloxham School near Banbury, where Ms Jones had attended, said it was “deeply shocked and saddened” by her death.

“Saskia was a much loved member of our community and will be remembered fondly for her generosity, kindness of spirit and commitment to serving others,” it said.

Holy Trinity Church in Stratford-upon-Avon held a minute’s silence and has opened a book of condolence.

Rev Patrick Taylor said some of Ms Jones’ friends had visited the church as well as strangers who felt that “something that often feels a long, long way away.. suddenly has an affect on a local community”.

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Flowers were left near the scene of the attack

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Uber loses licence to operate in London

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Media captionJamie Heywood, who manages Uber’s UK operation, says the firm will appeal

Uber will not be granted a new licence to operate in London after repeated safety failures, Transport for London (TfL) has said.

The regulator said the taxi app was not “fit and proper” as a licence holder, despite having made a number of positive changes to its operations.

Uber initially lost its licence in 2017 but was granted two extensions, the most recent of which expires on Monday.

The firm will appeal and can continue to operate during that process.

London is one of Uber’s top five markets globally and it has about 45,000 drivers in the city. Overall, there are 126,000 licensed private hire and black cabs in the capital.

If its appeal is unsuccessful, some think Uber drivers would move over to rival ride-sharing firms such as Bolt and Kapten.”There would be competition that would fill that void quite quickly,” Fiona Cincotta, a market analyst at City Index told the BBC.

Why won’t Uber get a new licence?

TfL said it had identified a “pattern of failures” in London that placed passenger safety at risk.

These included a change to Uber’s systems which allowed unauthorised drivers to upload their photos to other Uber driver accounts.

It meant there were at least 14,000 fraudulent trips in London in late 2018 and early 2019, TfL said.

The regulator also found dismissed or suspended drivers had been able to create Uber accounts and carry passengers. In one example, a driver was able to continue working for Uber, despite the fact his private hire licence had been revoked after he was cautioned for distributing indecent images of children.

Helen Chapman, director of licensing at TfL, said: “While we recognise Uber has made improvements, it is unacceptable that Uber has allowed passengers to get into minicabs with drivers who are potentially unlicensed and uninsured.”

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said: “I know this decision may be unpopular with Uber users, but their safety is the paramount concern. Regulations are there to keep Londoners safe.”

‘I feel safe using Uber’

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Donna Stevens says her experiences of using Uber in London have “always been positive”.

In her job as a carer she often works late, so regularly uses the service. “The drivers are friendly, courteous and professional. I can’t afford to get a metered taxi.”

She says that if Uber were to go, she would probably have to go back to using public transport late at night, which does not make her feel safe.

However, another reader, Kay, says she would not be sad to see Uber go.

“I complained a couple of months ago about a driver who made me feel so uncomfortable I abandoned the ride and walked home in the dark at 11 o’clock at night instead of staying in his cab.”

She says Uber gave her a £5 credit but did not apologise. “How is it OK to employ drivers that make women feel unsafe?” she says.

Is this the end of Uber in London?

Uber lovers in London, fear not! The company’s cars will not suddenly disappear from the capital’s streets.

Uber is going to appeal against this decision so a magistrate will have to decide whether Uber is fit to hold a licence in London, or not.

A decision from a magistrates court could take weeks or months and unless the court decides otherwise, Uber will retain its licence during this period too.

When TfL decided not to renew Uber’s licence in 2017, the company addressed some of the issues raised by TfL back then and then a magistrate later granted Uber a new licence.

On the face of it TfL is standing tough against perceived failings by Uber. But in effect it is letting the courts decide, at a later date, whether Uber should have a licence, or not.

What does Uber say?

Uber said the decision was “extraordinary and wrong”. It said it had audited every driver in London over the past two months and strengthened its processes.

Boss Dara Khosrowshahi tweeted: “We understand we’re held to a high bar, as we should be. But this TfL decision is just wrong. Over the last 2 years we have fundamentally changed how we operate in London.”

According to Uber, 24% of its sales come from just five cities, including London. The others are Los Angeles, New York City, San Francisco and São Paulo in Brazil.

In a public filing, it said: “Any inability to operate in London, as well as the publicity concerning any such termination or non-renewal, would adversely affect our business, revenue, and operating results.

“We cannot predict whether the TfL decision, or future regulatory decisions or legislation in other jurisdictions, may embolden or encourage other authorities to take similar actions even where we are operating according to the terms of an existing licence or permit.”

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In May, hundreds of Uber drivers in London, Birmingham, Nottingham and Glasgow staged a protest against the firm over pay and conditions

What do others say?

Business lobby group the CBI said customers valued Uber, and encouraged both sides to find a resolution.

But the Unite union – which believes Uber has unfairly taken business from black cab drivers – welcomed the news.

“Uber’s DNA is about driving down standards and creating a race to the bottom which is not in the best interests of professional drivers or customers,” said Jim Kelly, chair of Unite’s London and Eastern cab section.

Where else has banned Uber?

Uber has faced pressure from regulators around the world over the way it treats its drivers, competition concerns, and fears about passenger safety.

The US firm pulled out of Denmark in 2017 because of new taxi laws that required drivers to have fare meters and seat sensors.

Bulgaria and Hungary both stripped Uber’s right to operate following pressure from local taxi unions.

And in May, the ride-hailing firm pulled its UberXL service in Turkey without saying why.

What happened in London in 2017?

TfL first declined to renew Uber’s licence in September 2017, again over safety concerns. Back then it cited Uber’s approach to carrying out background checks on drivers and reporting serious criminal offences.

Uber’s use of secret software, called “Greyball”, which could be used to block regulators from monitoring the app, was another factor, although Uber said it had never been used in the UK.

However, TfL granted Uber a 15-month licence extension – later extended by two months – conditional on it making improvements to its business.

TfL can offer licences of up to five years, but it has been more stringent of late.

In July, Indian ride-hailing company Ola got a 15-month agreement for its entry into the London market, while ViaVan got a three-year licence renewal.


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Eddie Jones wary England’s Saracens stars may focus on club relegation fight

Some Saracens players could skip Six Nations – Eddie Jones

England head coach Eddie Jones fears some Saracens players could skip the Six Nations campaign to help their club avoid relegation after a 35-point deduction for salary cap breaches.

The deduction leaves the Premiership champions bottom of the table. They have also been fined £5.36m.

Sarries supplied six of the team who started for England in the 32-12 defeat by South Africa in the World Cup final.

“It could have a significant impact,” Jones told BBC Sport.

“It’s something we need to weigh up and look at very carefully.”

Saracens have decided not to appeal against the punishments imposed upon them for infringements over the past three seasons so go from third place to bottom of the Premiership on -22 points, 26 behind second-bottom Leicester.

Jones selected six of their players for the final in Yokohama, led by captain Owen Farrell. The others were Mako and Billy Vunipola, hooker Jamie George, second row Maro Itoje and full-back Elliott Daly, who is yet to play for the club after his summer move from Wasps.

“Obviously there may be some dislocation between Saracens players and the rest of the clubs,” said Jones, who was Saracens’ director of rugby in 2008-09. “That’s a reality.

“So we may have to work to mend those relationships a bit harder, and there might be some Saracens players who feel like they’ve got to play for their club instead of their country, to make sure they don’t go down. So we’ll weigh all those up as they come about.”

Saracens contributed eight players to the England World Cup squad, more than any other Premiership club

Former Sarries and England scrum-half Kyran Bracken believed Jones was correct to be concerned.

“Country comes first traditionally, but the players will feel a sense of loyalty to the club having won so much with them,” the 47-year-old told the BBC News Channel.

“The thought of potentially leaving comrades in the lurch and leaving young guys to it… some will decide to concentrate on Saracens.”

‘I didn’t realise how strong the class structure was’

Ensuring any issues between Saracens players and the rest of the squad do not do any damage is the latest challenge Jones must face as England coach.

Earlier he told BBC Radio 5 Live that the biggest hurdle he faced when he first took the job in January 2016 was getting to grips with the cultural differences within the group.

“I didn’t realise the how strong the class structure was in England, and how that affects the relationships between the players,” the Australian said.

“When you look at the England team from the outside it looks like a very homogeneous group but in fact it’s very diverse and there probably hasn’t been enough understanding of the diversity of the group.

“We spent a lot of time in our World Cup prep making sure we understood the value of diversity.”

A report this year revealed that 37% of male British rugby union internationals came from fee-paying schools.

Jones, who hails from a working class suburb of Sydney, was asked whether the difference came down to the stereotypical rugby divide of “posh public schoolboys and state school kids”.

“Something like that, yeah,” he said.

“If you’ve got a group of people in here now and you’ve got five Japanese people, five Australians and five South Africans, they’ll tend to congregate together and that’s OK if they’re not playing as a team.

“But if those 15 are playing as a team then you want that to be completely mixed, and they’re the subtle things I was reasonably slow to pick up on.”

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General election 2019: Greens supporting Labour in Chingford

Conservative MP Iain Duncan Smith

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Iain Duncan Smith has been MP for the area since 1992, when the constituency was known as Chingford

The Green Party has stood down its candidate to help Labour try to unseat former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith.

Mr Duncan Smith has been MP for Chingford and Woodford Green since 1997, and has a majority of 2,348.

The Green Party, Liberal Democrats and Plaid Cymru formed an electoral pact earlier this month. Supporting Labour in Chingford does not form part of that pact, the Greens said.

The Conservatives have been contacted for comment.

In a statement the local Green Party said the decision for John Tyne not to contest the election was made with the “ultimate hope of favouring the campaign of the Labour candidate” Faiza Shaheen.

A Green Party spokesperson it “was a decision taken by the local party”.

However, they added: “If Labour were serious in their concern for the environment they should reconsider their isolationist position on arrangements.”

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Faiza Shaheen will contest the constituency for Labour

Ms Shaheen, head of the Centre for Labour and Social Studies, said she was “so grateful” for the decision.

She said: “I will continue to fight hard for climate policy and democratic reform.”

The Liberal Democrats have selected Dr Geoffrey Seeff as their prospective parliamentary candidate for the constituency.

Mr Duncan Smith has been MP for the area since 1992, representing Chingford until 1997 when the boundaries were re-drawn to include Woodford Green.

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N’Golo Kante in Chelsea squad to face Ajax in Champions League

Kante has made just six appearances this season, including five starts

Chelsea midfielder N’Golo Kante is back in the squad for Tuesday’s Champions League Group H game with Ajax.

Kante, 28, has made just five starts in an injury-hit season, most recently suffering a groin problem.

“We’ve been able to get some work into him, he’s in the squad and he’s available,” said manager Frank Lampard.

Midfielder Ross Barkley (ankle) and defender Andreas Christensen (thigh) are also in training after injury lay-offs last month.

Victory at Stamford Bridge would see Chelsea go three points clear of Ajax in Group H and put them in a strong position to progress to the quarter-finals, with games against Valencia and Lille remaining.

“I said at the start that this group would be tight because all the teams could take points off each other. That has been proved to be correct,” said Lampard.

“After losing the opening game against Valencia, which was disappointing, we have shown a great reaction from that.

“I have to accept it’s expected of Chelsea to go through and that is no disrespect to any other teams. I have said already how hard the group is but it is more about our own expectations.

“That is maybe why we had that reaction. We wanted to prove ourselves, we wanted to go to Ajax and Lille and get results, and we did.

“But we won’t get carried away with ourselves in this group.”

Can Chelsea maintain 100% record against Dutch sides? – the stats

  • Ajax have never lost an away Champions League match in England (W1 D3 L0), winning most recently away at Spurs in April 2019. Their last away European Cup defeat on English soil was in April 1980, a 2-0 semi-final defeat against Brian Clough’s Nottingham Forest side.
  • Chelsea have a 100%-win record in Champions League matches against Dutch opponents, beating Feyenoord twice in the 1999-2000 season and Ajax this season.
  • Ajax have won their last five away Champions League matches – prior to this run, the Dutch side had won just four of their previous 38 away games in the competition (W4 D13 L21).
  • Ajax manager Erik ten Hag has managed more away UEFA Champions League games without losing than any other manager (seven games), winning five and drawing two. Only two managers have lost none of their first eight away games in the competition – Louis van Gaal (first 14 games) and Pep Guardiola (first 11 games).
  • Chelsea striker Michy Batshuayi has scored one goal every 47 minutes for the Blues in the Champions League (3 goals in 141 minutes) – the best minutes per goal ratio of any Chelsea player in the competition.
  • Dusan Tadic has been directly involved in eight of Ajax’s last 14 goals scored in the group stage of the Champions League (five goals, three assists), including six of their last seven away from home (three goals, three assists).



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