Parliament is to discuss the activities of an evangelical church accused of being a “cult exploiting young people”.
London based SPAC Nation, praised for helping ex-gang members, has been accused of financial exploitation and fraud by Croydon North MP Steve Reed.
The church, which is under investigation by the Charities Commission and the Met Police, denied the claims.
It accused the MP of discrediting the church for political gain.
Wednesday’s parliamentary debate was brought by Mr Reed, who told the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme the scale of the exploitation was on the level of the Rotherham child abuse scandal.
A report by BBC Panorama featured former SPAC Nation members who accused the church of wrongdoing, with one former senior member saying the church “has to be shut down”.
One member claimed she was persuaded to commit benefit fraud by a trustee, while another said she had a £5,000 loan taken out in her name without her knowledge.
Mr Reed said he had also been contacted by former members about an alleged sexual exploitation and had passed this, and all information, on to police.
The MP claimed thousands of “susceptible” young people were “befriended”, separated from their families and friends and “brainwashed” before being “coerced into making fraudulent applications for loans”.
But SPAC Nation’s Reverend Dapo Adegboyega denied all the Labour MP’s accusations.
He confirmed the church “had been engaging with the charity commission for months,” adding: “An inquiry is not a finding of wrong-doing.”
The pastor said the commission was simply carrying out its duty to check matters.
“As of now we are not aware of any investigation,” he added.
He accused the MP of deliberately launching his accusations during the 2019 general election campaign by contacting “faceless individuals on the internet” to besmirch one of the town’s Tory candidates who had connections with SPAC Nation.
In December, the charities regulator revealed it had opened its own investigation into SPAC Nation’s safeguarding and finances.
The Charity Commission said it was still carrying out a review of the church’s procedures.
The Metropolitan Police is still reviewing allegations of possible fraud and other offences before deciding whether to investigate further.
Alireza Jahanbakhsh scored with a spectacular overhead kick to stun Chelsea and earn Brighton an unlikely point at the Amex Stadium.
The Seagulls were poor for most of the match and looked set for defeat before the Iranian substitute, who scored his first goal for the club on Saturday, brought the home support to their feet in the 84th minute with an early contender for goal of the month.
Cesar Azpilicueta gave Chelsea the lead with his third of the season when he fired in from close range after Tammy Abraham’s shot was blocked by Aaron Mooy.
Brighton’s attacking threat was largely nullified by Chelsea’s defence, although aside from the goals they produced the clearest chances – both thwarted by the brilliance of keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga.
The Spaniard produced a one-handed stop to deny Aaron Connolly and then saved Neal Maupay’s low drive with his feet.
The point extends fourth-placed Chelsea’s advantage over Manchester United in fifth to five points. Brighton move up a place to 13th, above Burnley on goal difference.
Big blow for Lampard’s side
This result is another setback for Frank Lampard and his side, who looked assured of an eighth league win on the road this season.
Prior to Jahanbakhsh’s goal his defence had suffocated Brighton’s attack.
Having been accused of being sloppy at times this season, Kurt Zouma, Antonio Rudiger, Reece James and skipper Azpilicueta were at their dogged best – rarely allowing an opposition ball to find its way into the six-yard area.
Youth graduate James shone the brightest, and manager Lampard has a potential diamond. Aside from providing support for his centre-backs, the 20-year-old was exceptional as an attacking force down the right.
Brighton’s Dan Burn will not want to face him too soon having left the pitch holding his arm in the 22nd minute following a collision with the England Under-21 player.
The Blues, however, were as poor as Brighton in attack, and keeper Mat Ryan had less to do than his opposite number. The only time he was called into action in the second half was to make a routine low save from Christian Pulisic.
Jahanbakhsh steals the headlines again
Tears of joy to a look a disbelief – what a week it has been for Jahanbakhsh.
A lack of first-team opportunities had frustrated the Iranian since he made a £17m move from AZ Alkmaar in July 2018, so the outpouring of emotion when he opened his Brighton account against Bournemouth last weekend came as no surprise.
Manager Graham Potter did not reward the 26-year-old winger with another start, but having watched his other attackers fail to make much of a dent in the Chelsea defence he threw on Jahanbakhsh in the 68th minute.
Connolly came close to beating Arrizabalaga with a low drive before Jahanbakhsh tried the more unconventional method and, with his back to goal, he found the Chelsea bottom right with a superb acrobatic effort.
More to follow.
Christmas dinners have been served to Londoners who are reliant on the city’s homelessness services.
Hairdressers and opticians were also made available at City Hall before guests were given a three-course meal.
Last year, 8,855 people were seen rough sleeping in London, an 18% increase since last year, and more than double the number in 2010.
“Events like this help bring a sense of community back in to London,” Claire, a former rough sleeper, told the BBC.
Claire, who spent 30 years either living on the streets or in prison, said: “It’s the type of event that does matter. It forms partnerships and builds bonds.
“If it wasn’t for the support of St Mungo’s, I’d either be dead or doing what I was before.”
Guests were chosen from the thousands of Londoners that currently receive assistance from services funded by City Hall and delivered by charities St Mungo’s and Thames Reach.
But Claire said services were still “hit and miss”.
“Where I live I’m still waiting for support with my mental health,” she added.
Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “St Mungo’s and Thames Reach are struggling with finances.
“Since I became mayor we’ve more than doubled the amount of money we’ve spent on rough sleeping and the size of our outreach team.
“But we’re just scratching the surface. We’ve not got the money or the resources to do much more – as it is I’m criticised for going outside my remit and my power.
“It is both heartbreaking and shameful that in one of the richest cities in the world we still have the levels rough sleeping that we do.”
Last year 15,470 people were accepted as being homeless by London councils.
There were 55,000 families living in temporary accommodation, such as bed and breakfasts and hostels.
Hundreds more people are estimated to be sleeping on London’s night buses.
Petra Salva, Director of Rough Sleeper Services at St Mungo’s, said: “It’s wonderful that the Mayor has opened the doors of City Hall for this festive event.
“Christmas can be a time of mixed emotions for clients in our services and our staff work hard to support those who stay with us over the holiday period.”
Shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry has become the first MP to officially enter the race to replace Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader.
Writing in the Guardian, she said the next leader needed to have “the political nous and strategic vision to reunite our party”.
Sir Keir Starmer, Yvette Cooper, Lisa Nandy have said they are also considering standing in the election.
Meanwhile Tony Blair has accused Labour of “letting the country down”.
He also attacked the Labour leadership for going into the election with a “strategy for defeat”.
Jeremy Corbyn has said he will stand down as leader “early next year” and the race to replace him could start on 7 January.
In an article announcing her candidacy, Ms Thornberry criticised Labour’s decision to back an election earlier this year saying it was like “crackers voting for Christmas”.
She said she had written to the leader’s office warning “it would be ‘an act of catastrophic political folly’ to vote for the election”.
“Instead, I said we should insist on a referendum on his proposed deal, to get the issue of Brexit out of the way before any general election.”
“We wilfully went into a single-issue election with no clear position on that issue .”
Underlining her own leadership credentials, Ms Thornberry said she “took the fight” to Boris Johnson when he was foreign secretary and “pummelled him every week”.
She said those wanting to be Labour leader needed to answer the question: “Do you have the political nous and strategic vision to reunite our party, rebuild our machine, gain the trust of the public, give hope to our declining towns and smaller cities, and never again waste the opportunity to take back power?”.
Ms Thornberry has been the MP for Islington South and Finsbury since 2005.
We’re off – Emily Thornberry is the first to formally say she’s definitely going to stand to replace Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader.
There’s been an awful lot of huffing and puffing without people putting their heads above the parapet, and I think she’s decided she might as well get on with it.
She’s the shadow foreign secretary and was was highly critical of Mr Corbyn for his neutral stance over the UK’s membership of the EU.
The fact that the party membership is still overwhelmingly Remain will help her cause, as will the fact that she was seen to have done pretty well when she stood in for Jeremy Corbyn at Prime Minister’s Questions.
She’s been loyal to Mr Corbyn but, at the same time, she doesn’t identify closely with Mr Corbyn’s team.
I suspect her difficulty, maybe, is that she will be fishing in similar waters to a number of other female MPs who may enter the leadership race such as Jess Phillips, Lisa Nandy and Yvette Cooper.
They’ve got to get 22 Labour MPs to back them if they want to get on the ballot paper – so that is the first hurdle they’ve got to get over.
Shadow justice secretary Richard Burgon, a close ally of Mr Corbyn, said he welcomed the fact Ms Thornberry had entered the race, although he said he would prefer shadow business secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey to become leader.
He told BBC 2’s Politics Live it was important that someone “from the left of the Labour party”, who had backed Mr Corbyn’s original leadership bid, should be among the list of leadership contenders.
He said that Ms Long-Bailey – who has not formally declared her candidacy – understood why the party lost support in seats that had supported Brexit, and knew how to help areas that have lost industrial jobs.
“But I think it’s welcome that the members are going to have a real choice,” he added.
Meanwhile, Sir Keir Starmer has told the BBC he is “seriously considering” putting himself forward for the Labour leadership.
The shadow Brexit secretary said Labour has “a mountain to climb” following its general election defeat.
Another potential contender Yvette Cooper, who lost to Mr Corbyn in the 2015 Labour leadership contest, said she would “decide over Christmas” about whether to stand.
She told Radio 4’s Today programme that Labour had “a long road to travel,” adding that the party needed to tackle anti-Semitism, restore “kindness to our politics” and be more “inclusive”.
Reflecting on Labour’s defeat, Sir Keir – who was calling for another EU referendum – said the party had failed to “knock back” the Conservatives’ “get Brexit done” slogan.
He also attacked the Labour’s manifesto arguing it “had too much in it” adding “we couldn’t see the wood for the trees”.
Looking to the party’s future, he said: “What Corbyn bought to the Labour party was a change of emphasis – radicalism that really matters – we need to build on that, not oversteer and go back to a bygone age.”
Asked whether he considered himself to be a Corbynite, Sir Keir said: “I don’t need someone else’s name tattooed on my head to make decisions.”
Labour’s defeats in the North of England constituencies has led some to say the next leader should not come from London.
However Sir Keir said the Labour leader needed to “be able to talk to everyone” in the UK.
The former director of public prosecutions also insisted that “my background isn’t what people think it is”, adding that he had “never been in any other workplace than a factory” before he went to university.
Other candidates believed to be considering running to be leader include:
- Tottenham MP and ex-Business Minister David Lammy
- MP for Norwich South and ex-shadow Treasury minister Clive Lewis
- MP for Birmingham Yardley Jess Phillips
- Wigan MP and former shadow environment secretary Lisa Nandy
Fulham have been charged with failing to ensure their players conducted themselves in an orderly fashion during their 2-1 Championship loss to Bristol City on Saturday.
The Cottagers felt Neeskens Kebano was fouled in the box in the 93rd minute, but referee Jeremy Simpson did not award a penalty.
It led to heated exchanges with Stefan Johansen and Tom Cairney being booked.
Fulham have until Friday (13 December) to respond to the charge.
A man on trial accused of a string of sex offences has declined to come to court and chosen not to give evidence.
Joseph McCann, 34, is accused of 37 offences, including rape, kidnap and false imprisonment, against 11 women and children over the course of two weeks in April and May.
Mr McCann was expected to show up at the Old Bailey on Monday, having opted not to attend before.
But on Wednesday defence barrister Jo Sidhu QC said he “declined to come”.
Mr Justice Edis said: “His absence from the trial is not evidence in the case. You must not infer from his absence that he is guilty of these offences.
“His decision not to give evidence is a separate matter and I will come to that later.”
Jurors were also told they must consider the case “in an objective, calm way”.
The judge said: “I gave you a warning that you would have an emotional reaction in this case and there is no doubt that warning turned out to be right in respect of some of what you listened to in the case.
“It was also intended to remind you and to direct you that an emotional reaction to material is unlikely to be a helpful guide to your decision-making when you come to decide the case.”
Mr McCann, of Harrow, west London, denies the charges against him.
The trial continues.
John McDonnell has apologised for the way the Labour Party initially handled anti-Semitism claims.
The comments come after Jeremy Corbyn declined to apologise after in a BBC interview with Andrew Neil.
The Labour leader was asked four times whether he would like to apologise after Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis claimed “a new poison – sanctioned from the very top – has taken root” in Labour.
Mr Corbyn said his government will protect “every community against the abuse they receive”.
Jose Mourinho has been appointed Tottenham manager after the sacking of Mauricio Pochettino on Tuesday.
Former Chelsea and Manchester United boss Mourinho has signed a contract until the end of the 2022-23 season.
“The quality in both the squad and the academy excites me,” said the 56-year-old Portuguese. “Working with these players is what has attracted me.”
Spurs chairman Daniel Levy said: “In Jose we have one of the most successful managers in football.”
Tottenham reached the Champions League final last season under Pochettino, but lost 2-0 to Liverpool in Madrid.
The Argentine, who was appointed in May 2014, did not win a trophy in his time in charge of the north London club, with Spurs’ last silverware being the League Cup in 2008.
Levy said Mourinho has “a wealth of experience, can inspire teams and is a great tactician”.
“He has won honours at every club he has coached,” he added. “We believe he will bring energy and belief to the dressing room.”
Mourinho still has a home in London and won three Premier League titles – in 2005, 2006 and 2015 – as well as one FA Cup in two spells at Chelsea.
Having taken over at Manchester United in May 2016, he won the Europa League and Carabao Cup with them in 2017.
Mourinho was sacked by the Old Trafford club in December 2018, with the club 19 points behind league leaders Liverpool, and had not managed another side before joining Spurs.
He has also previously managed Portuguese side Porto, where he won the Champions League in 2004.
At Italian club Inter Milan, Mourinho won a league, cup and Champions League treble in 2010 and was named Fifa’s world coach of the year, while he led Spanish team Real Madrid to the La Liga title in 2012.
He takes over a Spurs side that are without a win in their past five games and have slipped to 14th in the Premier League, 20 points behind leaders Liverpool after just 12 matches.
Tottenham Hotspur Supporters’ Trust had said “many fans thought Poch had earned the right” to try to turn around the side’s form and that “there are questions that must be asked of the board”.
Following Mourinho’s appointment, it said it had “concerns about how Jose and our club’s executive board will work together”.
It added: “The club must ensure it does not find itself in the same position in two or three years’ time, and we need to hear from the executive board what the long-term thinking behind this appointment is.”
Mourinho’s first match in charge is a trip to West Ham United on Saturday (12:30 GMT kick-off).
Spurs go to Manchester United on 4 December, and host another of Mourinho’s former teams – Chelsea – on 22 December.
Mourinho has turned down a number of managerial opportunities, including in China, Spain and Portugal, since leaving Old Trafford.
BBC sports editor Dan Roan
Spurs have never hired a manager as expensive or demanding as Mourinho, nor spent the kind of money on players that he became accustomed to at clubs such as Real Madrid and Manchester United.
But Spurs have come a long way in recent years under Pochettino. They have a new £1bn stadium and training ground, and spent four successive seasons in the Champions League.
They now have a European pedigree, and a hugely talented squad.
Mourinho has been out of the game for almost a year but retained a home in London.
His tribulations at Manchester United saw him lose his ‘Special One’ status, but his many achievements in the game still command widespread respect.
An “angry pig” confronted engineers in a London street, delaying their repair of a burst water main before it was led away with a bag of crisps.
The pipe burst on Lamberts Road, Surbiton, damaging nearby railway equipment, which caused train delays.
Thames Water said their efforts to reach a valve to cut the water were initially hindered by “a large pig” which was “acting aggressively”.
It is not known what flavour crisps were used to lead it away.
Damage caused by the flooding of tracks and signalling equipment meant limited trains have been able to run along the line.
Disruption is currently expected to last until 16:00 GMT although Network Rail said engineers were carrying out inspections.
Thames Water said engineers “were quickly on site” to deal with the burst 120cm (48 in) pipe, but they had been unable to initially carry out the work because of the pig, which is thought to be someone’s pet.
A police ban on Extinction Rebellion protests in London last month was unlawful, High Court judges have ruled.
The Metropolitan Police imposed the ban, which prevented two or more people from the group taking part in protests, under the Public Order Act.
But judges have ruled that police had no power to do this because the law did not cover “separate assemblies”.
Activists say the police could now face claims for false imprisonment from “potentially hundreds” of protesters.
The Met said it would “carefully consider” the ruling.
The protests cost £24m to police and led to 1,828 arrests, with 165 people charged with offences, the Met says.
During the court hearing, the force had argued that the ban was the only way to tackle widespread disruption.
Announcing their judgement, however, Lord Justice Dingemans and Mr Justice Chamberlain ruled in favour of Extinction Rebellion.
Lord Justice Dingemans said: “Separate gatherings, separated both in time and by many miles, even if co-ordinated under the umbrella of one body, are not a public assembly within the meaning of… the Act.
“The XR [Extinction Rebellion] autumn uprising intended to be held from October 14 to 19 was not therefore a public assembly… therefore the decision to impose the condition was unlawful because there was no power to impose it under… the Act.”
The judges noted that there are powers within that act which may be used lawfully to “control future protests which are deliberately designed to ‘take police resources to breaking point”‘.
During 10 days of climate change protests last month, activists shut down areas around Parliament and the Bank of England, and targeted London City Airport.
Police had previously warned protesters to keep demonstrations in Trafalgar Square, or risk arrest – before issuing a city-wide ban on 14 October, under Section 14 of the Public Order Act.
The court was told that the ban was issued on the same day as a message posted online by London activists.
It told protesters to adopt the “be water” tactics used by demonstrators in Hong Kong.
“Be water, crowds split up into fast moving groups and pairs, that network via phones,” it said.
“You gather at particular spots in large numbers, until the police response building then you move to a new disruptive site.”
The ban was lifted four days later, with officers saying that it was no longer necessary because demonstrations had ended.
BBC home affairs correspondent Daniel Sandford
This was a radical tactic adopted by the Metropolitan Police on 14 October – banning all future Extinction Rebellion protests across London for several days.
But it has backfired. No police force likes to have their actions described as “unlawful”.
Today’s High Court ruling takes away from officers the ability to impose a city-wide ban of future protests, which means demonstrators wanting to be “like water” – where they split into fast-moving groups – will be difficult to control if they are trying to disrupt a whole city.
So police will have to deal with what is in front of them.
If a specific protest in a specific place gets out of hand they will be able to close it down, but it will have to be a decision made by an officer on the spot, and not by someone sitting in a police station worrying about what protests may happen the next day.
Responding to Wednesday’s ruling, Extinction Rebellion UK tweeted “we won’t be silenced”.
Green Party peer Jenny Jones – who was among those to bring the legal challenge – described the ruling as “historic” and criticised ministers for speaking out in favour of the ban.
Met Assistant Commissioner Nick Ephgrave said the decision to impose the ban had been “reasonable and proportionate” and “was not taken lightly”.
He added that the police “would not and cannot ban protest” and that the ruling was made specifically on whether officers could arrest demonstrators for assembling in central London.
“There is no criticism from me of the decision to impose the condition, which was made with good intent and based upon the circumstances confronting the command team at the time,” he said.
“It did in fact result in the reduction of the disruption. Nevertheless, this case highlights that policing demonstrations like these, within the existing legal framework, can be challenging.”
What does Extinction Rebellion want?
Extinction Rebellion’s legal victory follows two weeks of protests in the UK last month.
The group (XR for short) wants governments to declare a “climate and ecological emergency” and take immediate action to address climate change.
It describes itself as an international “non-violent civil disobedience activist movement”.
Launched in 2018, organisers say it has groups willing to take action in dozens of countries.
It uses an hourglass inside a circle as its logo, to represent time running out for many species.