Ex- EDL Leader Tommy Robinson has been jailed for 13 months

    Tommy Robinson has been jailed for 13 months for breaking contempt of court laws with a Facebook Live video.

    The former EDL leader's sentence can be revealed for the first time after journalists challenged a reporting restriction put on the case at Leeds Crown Court.

    Robinson, whose real name was listed on court documents as Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, was arrested outside the court on Friday.

    He admitted committing contempt of court by publishing information that could prejudice an ongoing trial via a live stream on his Facebook page.

    The court heard how the footage, which apparently lasted around an hour, had been watched 250,000 times within hours of being posted online via Facebook.

    Supporters of the 35-year-old far right leader have protested over his imprisonment and have started a 'FREE TOMMY ROBINSON' petition which has already generated close to half a million signatures.

    Robinson was already subject to a suspended sentence for a contempt charge related to a separate case in Canterbury.

    The judge had warned him then he should expect to go to prison if he committed further offences.

    Robinson was given 10 months in jail for contempt of court, and a further three months for breaching the previous suspended sentence.

     

     

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    Landmark Forced Marriage Case, Where Mother Forced Teen Daughter to Marry Man in Pakistan 16 Years her Senior Ends in Successful Conviction

    By GRAHAME ANDERSON

    Mother

    In a landmark conviction a Birmingham mother who cannot be named has been found guilty on two counts of forced marriage. It's the first time this type of case has been successfully prosecuted in a criminal court in England. Forcing anyone to marry against their will is a serious criminal offence carrying a maximum prison sentence of seven years. It's legally defined as a forced union when one or both spouses haven't given their consent, and there has been some form of coercion, violence and threatening involved.

    Damning Evidence

    Birmingham Crown Court heard how the mother duped her teenage daughter into travelling to Pakistan to wed a man-16-years her senior, and a relative. She tricked the 17-year-old by telling her she was going on a family holiday. It was also revealed how the girl became pregnant after first having sex with the man when she was just 13. On her return to the UK she underwent an abortion before her GP alerted social services. The case for the prosecution said her mother 'made all the right noises', to suggest her daughter and the man were just 'two teenagers who sneakily had sex after she was referred to social services. Jurors were told of how the deeply troubled teenager had cried to her mother after signing a certificate to prove the marriage. In court, she said: "I didn't want to get married to him".

    In a letter presented to a judge the teenager wrote: 'I think my mother sold me for a British passport. I’m scared to go back to Pakistan. I hate it there.'

    No Relevant Case Law

    Judge Patrick Thomas QC told the jury the adjournment was appropriate as the case was “entirely novel”, with no other relevant case law to rely upon.

    The 45-year-old mother of four looked stunned on hearing her convictions of deceiving the victim to go to Pakistan, in order to enter into a false marriage, forced marriage and perjury, after she later lied about the incident in the High Court. She was found not guilty of a fourth charge of perverting the course of justice and will be sentenced on Wednesday.

    Elaine Radway, from the Crown Prosecution Service, applauded the "brave testimony" of the victim, saying: Forced marriage is a breach of human rights

    Forced Marriage Investigation

    The UK's Forced Marriage Unit has identified more than 8,000 cases in the past eight years but only one has resulted in a prosecution. Still a blight on 21st century life, nearly 1,200 possible cases were flagged up last year alone. Worryingly, more than a quarter involved victims under the age of 18, with children as young as 13 also involved. Figures may have been down 19 per cent on the previous 12 months, but this may not reflect the true scale of the abuse suffered by those involved. A third of forced marriages either took place or were due to take place in Pakistan, with Bangladesh being another popular country for the practice.

    Though it's not specific to one particular nation, the FMU did deal with focus cases in 65 different countries. There was no overseas element in 120 potential unions, with the actual forced marriage taking place entirely within the UK. Established in 2005, the FMU is jointly run by the Home Office and the Foreign Office. In the past six years the unit has provided support in 1,200 to 1,400 cases a year.

    A recent report confirmed 78 per cent of cases logged in 2017 related to female victims, while 256, or 21 per cent, involved male victims. It cited this was proof, men could also be forced into marriage.

    The Suffering of Victims

    Karma Nirvana, an organisation supporting victims of honour related abuse, disclosed they receive 300 calls a month about forced marriage and honour-based abuse. Many of these victims feel unable to report their suffering to the authorities.

    A spokesperson for the children’s charity NSPCC has said: “Children as young as 13 have contacted us worried about being forced into marriage yet fearing they will be cut out off their community if they refuse. “We would urge anyone worried about a child to speak up before it is too late, so that we can get help and prevent them being bound into something they would never ask for.”

    It's reported the charity Childline supervised 205 counselling sessions on the issue in 2016-17, a 12 per cent increase from the previous year. There were 6,099 visits to the Childline forced marriage page in the same 12-month period. The anxiety and fears children deal with in these cases can also lead to serious self-harm. Some resort to running away from home, and this in turn leaves them open to further abuse, or even to contemplate taking their own lives.

    Hard Truths

    Forced marriage is a form of child abuse and its secretive nature has made it difficult to grasp the true scale of the problem. Those aged 18 years or younger seem greater at risk. Legal experts will now be looking closely at this ruling regarding more possible prosecutions in the years to come.

     

     

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    Britain’s South Asian community remain high at risk from Mental Health. Does stigma make it harder to combat it?

    By GRAHAME ANDERSON

    At some point in life one in four people will experience mental health problems through a range of causes including stigma and discrimination. People of any status can be affected, but with Asian communities in mind taboos can be far reaching. In the past, such problems weren't addressed or talked about openly. Sufferers would be shunned, families excluded, and any issues would be a source of shame for those involved. These problems have yet to be solved, but more and more mental health professionals and groups are now working closely with Asian communities to help solve any communication problems.

    Role Model Help

    England cricketer Monty Panesar and role model to many Asian youngsters has himself been subject to mental health issues in the past. His highlighting of shame and labeling toward those suffering from mental health problems has won high praise.

    Now a mental health ambassador for the Professional Cricketers' Association, he said: "The cricketing world was very supportive and understanding, but in our Asian community there was no understanding of what mental health is.

    "When you play cricket, you want to be perceived as strong, resilient, able to be competitive. A lot of young Asians came forward after I went public and said, 'we're glad you opened up because it's a huge taboo in our community.”

    As one of the few Asian celebrities to speak out he's already helped to break down mental health barriers, following his experience of both paranoia and anxiety.

    Sharing Voices Together

    Asian Sunday spoke to Bradford charity Sharing Voices whose support for BAME communities and mental health, is making a huge difference to how they perceive mental issues. They told us: “The stigma still exists within South Asian communities. As a charity we feel small steps have been taken, and we have seen an increase in referrals. But this is still like a needle in a haystack, and many Asians are still suffering in silence, due to the shame.

    “One in five mental health inpatients comes from a BME background, compared with about one in 10 of the population as a whole. When services treat people from BME backgrounds, it's important a holistic approach and positive definitions of mental health are used, and that there is recognition of alternative perspectives and understanding.

    “The info is getting to most, but then it is up to the individual to act upon it, eg 'Yes I need help'. “I have tried committing suicide.”

    Another mental health expert said: “Some mental health problems go unreported and untreated because people in some ethnic minority groups are reluctant to engage with mainstream health services. It's also likely mental health problems are over-diagnosed in people whose first language is not English.”

    BAME Groups Remain High Risk

    The Mental Health Foundation told us: “BAME groups are still generally considered to be at higher risk of developing mental ill health. A 2015 review looked at the association between ethnicity, mental health problems and socio-economic status. It was discovered people from black ethnic minority backgrounds have a higher prevalence of psychosis, compared with the white majority population.”

    The 2014 Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey (APMS) revealed common mental health problems vary significantly by ethnic group for women, but not for men. Research has also shown high rates of suicide among young South-Asian women within the UK. As organisers of Mental Health Awareness Week, they focus on a major issue each year. The group's main theme for 2018 is 'Stress – Are We Coping?

    It's also true to say mainstream mental health services are working hard to provide both acceptable and accessible services to meet the needs of non-white British communities.

    Getting Communities To talk

    Oxford University graduate Shuranjeet Singh Takhar has experienced mental health issues during his studies as he explains:

    “Having gone through difficulties myself during my time at university, I was hugely helped by my house-mates who provided a formidable support structure to help me through tough times.

    “I recall a conversation I had at the gurdwara (Sikh spiritual centre) with a middle-aged Sikh man. I spoke about the increasing mental health issues in the local community. He dismissed my claims mental health was even an issue, asserting it was something of ‘my generation’. Seeing his rejection and blindness to a very real issue concerned me.

    “I started TarakĪ, a movement designed to fundamentally change how the Punjabi community understand, approach, and treat mental health difficulties and those suffering from them. TarakĪ means being forward-facing, progressive, and looking to a better future. We believe by working alongside local and national mental health initiatives, volunteers, and groups, we can make this change happen. TarakĪ wants to bring forward discussion about mental health to break down the negative stereotypes and assumptions associated with it. From this, we can begin to tackle mental health difficulties more effectively within the community.

    “Moving forward, it's imperative the Punjabi community work together to instigate real change in how mental health is understood and treated, much to the benefit of individuals, families, and friends.”

    Positive BBC Vision

    With more than 1million viewers each day Midlands based daytime drama BBC Doctors is well placed to play a major role in cutting back mental health taboos. In line with Mental Health Awareness Week they put together six hard hitting episodes designed to help raise awareness and encourage viewers to reach out for support and advice.

    Story Producer Nasreen Ahmed says “We certainly aren’t intending to conquer all the myths and concerns around mental health by the end of our week but if we can use our regular characters and our ‘world’ to help viewers understand a little better and reach out for any support that is out there and needed – then we will have achieved what we set out to do.”

    Food for Thought

    Such prominent media coverage will do much to get people talking in their communities. Mental Health Awareness Week is set to educate people much more on problems that can be overcome with good communication, understanding and professional help. It seems there's still a long road to travel, but mental health within the Asian community is beginning to be spoken about more freely.

    Mental Health Awareness Week 2018 is between 14 – 20 May. For more information visit www.mentalhealth.org.uk or contact www.sharingvoices.net

     

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    Press Watchdog finds The Times 'distorted' news about Muslim Foster Carers

    The Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) has ruled that The Times “distorted” coverage about a “white Christian child” who was placed with Muslim foster carers in east London.

    The Times front page, August 2017

    The newspaper ran three front page stories in August 2017 about a five-year-old girl “taken from her family and forced to live with a niqab-wearing foster carer” under the orders of Tower Hamlets council.

    The Times alleged that the foster parents had stopped her from eating bacon, removed her crucifix necklace and confused her by speaking Arbaic.

    The council complained to the Press watchdog, Ipso that the story published on August 30, ‘Judge rules child must leave Muslim foster home’, had broken the Editor’s Code regarding rules around accuracy.

    The press regulator upheld the council’s complaint that the paper had implied a judge had ordered the girl to be removed from her foster carers’ home to live with her grandmother.

    In fact, it was Tower Hamlets council who had sought to place the youngster with her mother’s family.

    The chief executive of Tower Hamlets council, Will Tuckley, told the BBC that the council had complained because it wanted to defend its own foster carers.

    He said: "From the start we had concerns about the validity of the allegations about the foster carers.

    "For example one allegation was that they did not speak English, even though that is a prerequisite for any foster carer.

    "The allegation that the foster placement was a bad choice by the council was also found by Ipso to be distorted information."

    The girl’s grandmother was later revealed to be a “non-practising Muslim” who did not speak English.

    In Wednesday’s edition of The Times, the Ipso ruling was mentioned on the front page, with the decision printed in full on page two.

    “Ipso’s Complaints Committee found that the article gave the impression that the judge had found that the placement was a “failure” by the council; and that this was why she was “removing” the child from her current foster carers, and placing the child with the grandmother,” the ruling read.

    “The Committee ruled that this was a distortion. The complainant had been in the process of assessing the grandmother, and when those assessments were complete, it applied to the court for the child to be placed with her.”

    Many from the third sector have welcomed the ruling, and have jointly issued a statement on the reporting of 'Christian child placed into Muslim Foster Care'

     "We are pleased that the regulators have decided to ask The Times to correct one of the four front page articles written on week commencing August 28th 2017 but we would also like The Times and related publications to note that hundreds of Muslim foster carers open their homes to both Muslim and non-Muslim children every year.

    "These carers vary in terms of how they practice their religion, as do all carers of any faith group. Foster carers, whether Muslim or non-Muslim,  work extremely hard in caring for children who are going through challenging times and as such, they are owed a great deal of respect and gratitude.

    "It is wholly unacceptable that one of these fostering families was denigrated by The Times and related press outlets. We would encourage and welcome news outlets to use their resources to work with us to improve society, particularly for the most vulnerable, and to give credit to good work where it is due." Read the statement, which was signed by many from the sector, which included humanitarian charity Penny Appeal's CEO Aamer Naeem, CEO of Nationwide Association of Foster Providers, Harvey Gallagher and CEO Kevin Williams of The Fostering Network

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    Mixed reactions to joint Syria air strikes by the US, the UK and France. NATO backs joint Syria strikes while UN appeals for restraint

    The UK has joined the USA and France in carrying out air strikes to suspected Syrian chemical weapons facilities on Friday. Theresa May's decision for Britain to join the strikes on Syria has met with mixed reactions.

    The Prime Minister said she judged the operation to be in Britain's national interest, adding that there was "no practicable alternative to the use of force".

    Her decision came despite demands from opposition parties that Parliament was consulted before any military action was launched.

    Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson backed the PM, writing on Twitter that the world was "united in its disgust for any use of chemical weapons, but especially against civilians".

    Other Tory MPs also publicly voiced their support, with Thornbury and Yate MP Luke Hall saying: "Speed is essential. A clear signal to anyone who believes they can use chemical weapons with impunity."

    Newark MP Robert Jenrick said: "My thoughts are with our servicemen and women - and those of our US and French allies. The cost to President Assad of using heinous chemical weapons must be higher than any perceived benefit. I strongly support the PM's decision."

    Also backing the joint air strikes by the US, the UK and France was NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg. He said that the strikes would reduce Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime ability to further attack the local population with chemical weapons, according to a statement.

    "NATO has consistently condemned Syria's continued use of chemical weapons as a clear breach of international norms and agreements," Stoltenberg said in a statement.

    "The use of chemical weapons is unacceptable, and those responsible must be held accountable," he added.

    Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has urged the members of the organisation to show moderation in the prevailing "dangerous" climate and to respect international law.

    Guterres' remarks came during a Security Council meeting on Friday, shortly before the strikes were launched in response to the alleged use of chemical weapons in the Syrian town of Douma on April 7.

    "I urge all member states to act responsibly in these dangerous circumstances," Guterres said.

    The Council has met four times this week to assess the Syrian situation but the sessions have ended without any agreements being reached.

    The debates have exposed the deep divisions between the US and Russia on the conflict, which led Guterres to say that "the Cold War is back - with a vengeance".

    Others who were against the strikes included Stewart McDonald, the Scottish National Party spokesman for defence, said UK forces had been engaged in "gesture bombing with no major international consensus".

    "Most worrying is that she has acted at the behest of presidential tweets and sidelined Parliament," he said on Twitter.

    "What does this new bombing campaign do to help move Syria towards peace? Nothing.

    "Instead, it has the potential to dangerously complicate the war, making matters on the ground worse for the people that the strikes are supposed to help. There is no peace strategy."

    Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon also said questions remained about how peace could be brought to Syria.

    She tweeted: "My first thoughts this morning are with the service personnel called to action.

    "Syria's use of chemical weapons is sickening - but the question that the PM has not answered is how this action, taken without parliamentary approval, will halt their use or bring long-term peace."

    Lib Dem MP Tom Brake tweeted: "Theresa May had no right to deploy British forces in #Syria without Parliament's approval. There was no threat to the UK. Nor does she have a majority in Parliament.

    Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn said Bombs won't save lives or bring about peace. In a statement he said: "Bombs won’t save lives or bring about peace.

    This legally questionable action risks escalating further, as US defence secretary James Mattis has admitted, an already devastating conflict and therefore makes real accountability for war crimes and use of chemical weapons less, not more likely.

    Britain should be playing a leadership role to bring about a ceasefire in the conflict, not taking instructions from Washington and putting British military personnel in harm’s way.

    Theresa May should have sought parliamentary approval, not trailed after Donald Trump. The Government should do whatever possible to push Russia and the United States to agree to an independent UN-led investigation of last weekend’s horrific chemical weapons attack so that those responsible can be held to account."

     

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