Outrage as fly-tippers dump rubbish in Lincolnshire country lane


A mountain of rubbish dumped outside a Lincolnshire village by fly-tippers has caused outrage, with one local calling the litterers ‘scumbags’.

The huge pile of waste larger than two Transit vans was discovered in a lane just outside of Fulbeck near Sleaford on Tuesday.

The revolting-looking mess includes household insulation, plastic, clothing,  a deflated football and police cordon line.

Residents said they were disgusted that someone would be so careless to dump the rubbish and pass the effort and expense onto someone else to clear up. 

A mountain of rubbish dumped outside Fulbeck near Sleaford, Lincolnshire, village fly-tippers has caused outrage, with one local calling the litterers ‘scumbags’

The pile of rubbish including household insulation, plastic, clothing, a deflated football and police cordon line was discovered on Tuesday

The pile of rubbish including household insulation, plastic, clothing, a deflated football and police cordon line was discovered on Tuesday

Tina Clarke said: ‘Jeez thats like a tipper truck full! Utter scumbags, I hope they are dealt with properly, a little fine is NOT good enough.’ 

Michelle Stubbs wrote: ‘Scum that do this it’s our beautiful countryside for heaven’s sake haven’t you learned anything.’

Val Marsden commented ‘how ghastly’, while Eve Thompson wrote ‘disgusting’ and Jackie Jacks added ‘shocking’. 

Margaret Thompson said: ‘That’s disgusting hope you find out who dumped it and prosecute them.’

Fly-tipping reporting app ClearWaste Tweeted: ‘This massive, disgusting fly-tip has just been discovered in Fulbeck in #Lincolnshire. 

‘It will cost the local council thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money to clear away.’

South Kesteven District Council has been alerted and is tracking down the fly-tippers. 

The authority said: ‘We’re aware of this substantial fly-tip near Fulbeck and are investigating for evidence before we clear it away.

‘Thank you for reporting this – if you see tipped rubbish, or can help our investigation into this incident, call us on 01476 406080 – thank you.

‘Always check your waste carrier is legal and registered via 03708 506506.’

Wheat farmer Andrew Ward was heartbroken to find this massive three lorryload pile of waste dumped on a country lane at his farm in Leadenham, Lincolnshire

Wheat farmer Andrew Ward was heartbroken to find this massive three lorryload pile of waste dumped on a country lane at his farm in Leadenham, Lincolnshire

He called on the government to take action and accused them of not caring as this doesn't happen in London. He also called on MP Dr Caroline Johnson to get involved

He called on the government to take action and accused them of not caring as this doesn’t happen in London. He also called on MP Dr Caroline Johnson to get involved

Fly-tipping cases in nearby Boston, Lincolnshire, have more than doubled during the lockdown period, according to Boston Borough Council. 

There were 798 cases between March and the end of June this year compared with 342 during the same period last year. 

In June this year alone, there were 254 cases compared to 68 in June 2019.

Chris Allen Head of Environmental Services Boston Borough Council said: ‘The Covid outbreak has definitely had an impact. 

Has fly-tipping surged during the UK’s coronavirus crisis? 

As tips kept their gates locked during lockdown, fly-tipping is feared to have surged by 300 per cent as a ‘wave of rubbish’ blighted England’s green and pleasant land.

Analysis of reports to councils by the universities of Southampton and Portsmouth between March and April suggested the rise.

Fly-tip monitoring app ClearWaste said it had seen a 75 per cent rise in reports, and West Oxfordshire District council revealed it had dealt with three times the normal number of incidents. 

Experts have warned that people were loading cars with rubbish and, upon finding tips closed, simply dumping it on the way home.

ClearWaste manager Martin Montague also said he had heard of people buying second-hand fridges, filling them with waste, and dumping them by the roadside.

Fly-tipping rose in the UK last year, where national figures show an eight per cent increase.

‘There’s been a lot more people at home generating more waste, more DIY, clearing out gardens, sheds and attics. We’ve definitely seen an increase in the volume of waste.’ 

The mountain of rubbish is the latest in a series of high profile examples of increased fly-tipping during lockdown, with a farmer in nearby Leadenham calling for government action after discovering more piles of waste earlier this week.

Wheat farmer Andrew Ward was heartbroken to find at least three lorryloads of industrial waste abandoned on a road he uses to get to his fields in Lincolnshire.

He was devastated to find a heap of rubbish including a dragon, child’s bike and the roof of a garden shed blocking access to a neighbour’s field less than half a mile away.

Fly-tipping in England surged by a staggering 300 per cent during lockdown, research by the universities of Southampton and Portsmouth showed, as tips kept their gates bolted for almost three months. 

Horrifying heaps of waste including car tyres, clothes, suitcases and doors were pictured scourging the countryside in Newport, Wales, in April this year.

Cardboard, rubble and bits of plastic all made up the enormous heap dumped in Lincolnshire. 

Filming the devastation, Mr Ward said: ‘The government don’t see this type of thing, this doesn’t appear in London.

‘They don’t understand and I don’t know whether they care about what’s going on in the countryside. We don’t need words anymore, we need action.

 ‘This is not your local one man and a van turns up to a house. This is three lorryloads of commercial, industrial waste. 

‘If I ever find out where that came from it will be straight back on their doorstep. It’s beyond comprehension – it’s deplorable people think this is acceptable. There’s butterflies, birds and bees around here, and people walk their dogs too.’

Mr Ward owns more than 700 hectares of land, and was made an MBE in 2014 for services to farming resilience. He appealed to their local MP Dr Caroline Johnson to take up the issue with the government.

The local council has been to survey the three truckload tip, he said, and are making plans to remove it.

Fly-tipping in Britain has surged by almost 300 per cent since lockdown, according to a study. Pictured above is waste abandoned in Leeds, West Yorkshire

Fly-tipping in Britain has surged by almost 300 per cent since lockdown, according to a study. Pictured above is waste abandoned in Leeds, West Yorkshire

A university analysis of fly-tipping this year said that there were few facilities available to take on extra waste, with tips shuttered and charity shops unable to take in clothes, leading to a surge in illegal dumping.

A website where people report fly-tipping, Clearwaste, said it had seen a 75 per cent surge in reports of dumping beside roads and in green areas during lockdown.

Its manager Martin Montague told the BBC that he had heard of people buying second hand fridges during the pandemic shopping rush, filling them with waste, and dumping them.

Officials said many were taking rubbish to recycling centres but, upon finding it closed, were simply dumping it outside on the way home.  

Councillors siad people are dumping waste, like this in Leeds, when they find tips are closed

Councillors siad people are dumping waste, like this in Leeds, when they find tips are closed

Fly-tipping in Collyhurst, Manchester

Dumping in Sherbourne, Dorset

Above is fly-tipping in Collyhurst, Manchester (left) and Sherbourne, Dorset (right)

Fly-tipping in England surged by eight per cent last year with more than one million incidents, but the figure for 2020 is expected to be even higher.

Nearly two-thirds of fly-tips involved household waste, said DEFRA.

Responding to this year’s fly-tipping in the UK, a spokesman said: ‘Fly-tipping blights communities, spoils our countryside, and poses a risk to human health and the environment.

‘We all have a role to play in keeping our environment clean and now more than ever people must work together to support their communities during this challenging time.’ 

Terror police arrest four in east London and Leicestershire raids


Armed anti-terror police use chainsaw to break into east London home during raid on hideouts of suspected plotters – as four men are arrested in joint operation in capital and Leicestershire

  • Man, 27, was arrested at an address in east London with help of armed officers 
  • Two men, 31 and 17, were arrested at a nearby property also with armed officers
  • A 32-year-old was arrested by counter terrorism police in Leicestershire 

Armed police have stormed an east London property with a chainsaw – as four men were arrested for plotting a terror attack.

Dramatic video shows a squad of gun-toting officers bursting into a house on Ilfracombe Gardens in Goodmayes, Redbridge, shortly before a man is dragged out and handcuffed.

The man is led away by two officers wearing armoured vests, while another is seen watching the house through the scope of what appears to be a mounted sniper.

Separate video from a neighbouring property near Green Lane by Goodmayes Park also shows armed police descending on a block of flats.  

Scotland Yard said the heavy police operation in Goodmayes related to an ongoing anti-terror investigation which today saw four people arrested in both the capital and Leicestershire. 

Witnesses described hearing gunshots, but the Metropolitan Police said no shots were fired during today’s raids. 

Dramatic video shows a squad of rifle-wielding officers bursting in on a house in Goodmayes, Redbridge, before a man is dragged from the house

Scotland Yard said the heavy police operation related to an ongoing anti-terror investigation which today saw four people arrested

Scotland Yard said the heavy police operation related to an ongoing anti-terror investigation which today saw four people arrested

The man is led away in handcuffs by officers

Another officer appears to watch the house through the lense of a mounted sniper

The man is led away in handcuffs by officers, while another officer appears to watch the house through the lense of a mounted sniper

Constables arrested a 27-year-old at an address in east London, a 31-year-old and a 17-year-old at a nearby property, and a 32-year-old in Leicestershire, Scotland Yard said in a statement. 

The 27-year-old was bitten on the foot by a police dog and has been taken to hospital with minor injuries 

Armed officers were involved in the two raids in the capital but the Metropolitan Police said no shots were fired.   

Police are currently combing through the three addresses, and a search is also underway at a fourth address in East London as part of the investigation. 

The Met said: ‘All four men were arrested on suspicion of being concerned in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism under section 41 of the Terrorism Act.’

They are being held in police custody while detectives continue their ‘proactive investigation’.

Separate video showed armed police descending on a block of flats, also near Goodmayes Park

Separate video showed armed police descending on a block of flats, also near Goodmayes Park

Uniformed police officers stand by at the property in Goodmayes where armed officers descened upon today

Uniformed police officers stand by at the property in Goodmayes where armed officers descened upon today

The raid on the property on Ilfracombe Gardens left residents ‘a little bit shaken’. 

One said he did not know the people living there very well ‘as they don’t speak very good English’.

He added: ‘Quite a lot of people come in and out (of the house). They are a bit of a loud family, really. We don’t speak to them that much compared to our other neighbours.

‘There are a lot of people coming and going, to know who actually lives in the house is a bit of a mystery.’

The neighbour, who asked not to be named, said he was doing shopping for his grandmother, who was at home and had been left ‘a bit shaken’ by the incident.

The showed armed police descending on a block of flats, also near Goodmayes Park.

Eoin Moylan, 22, said: ‘I heard glass breaking and a woman screaming then a loud bang. I thought fireworks had gone wrong. I saw police in uniform.’

‘The noises could have been flash bangs because there was smoke as well,’ he told the Barking and Dagenham Post. 

An ambulance swooped on the home near Green Lane at 1.28pm and one person was taken to hospital. 

Boy, 13, beat police officers while shouting ‘Black Lives Matter’


The selfie-taking teenager (centre), who cannot be named for legal reasons, kicked the officer as he was struggling with a suspect on the ground during the incident in Hackney, north-east London

A policeman attacked by a mob in the street has slammed society’s ‘skewed view’ of officers after a 13-year-old boy who shouted ‘black lives matter’ and took a selfie during the melee was punished by the courts.  

The selfie-taking teenager, who cannot be named for legal reasons, kicked out at the officer was struggling with a suspect on the ground during the incident in Hackney, north-east London.

The incident, which was captured on video and went viral on social media, was broken up when a concerned member of the public, carrying a baseball bat, tried to break-up the struggle. 

Today the teenage attacker claimed in court that he carried out the assault on the officer because he saw him holding a suspect in a headlock.

And he said he was ‘scared’ after everything he had seen in the news regarding the death of American George Floyd and the subsequent world-wide protests by the Black Lives Matter movement.

Meanwhile, the officer, PC Andrew MacPherson, said in a victim impact statement, read out in court, that he was ‘disappointed’ by the incident.

He said:  ‘They decided to assault police officers without any context or knowledge of what was happening beforehand.

‘It speaks to their character. I am disappointed but not surprised by people who would rather film a video to put on social media.

‘It is sad that society has become skewed in its view of policing. Police officers are judged by one of many thousands of incidents.’

He added: ‘If I had reacted differently, I am certain I would have been called a racist police officer. My face and name could have been all over the internet and papers. What would this have done to me?’

Video footage (pictured left) showed three men and the teenager (far right) around the police officer during the incident in Hackney on June 10

A concerned member of the public carrying a baseball bat came to break-up the incident

Video footage (pictured left) showed three men and the teenager (far right) around the police officer during the incident in Hackney on June 10. A concerned member of the public carrying a baseball bat (pictured right) came to break-up the incident

PC MacPherson’s comments come as his teenager attacker today appeared at Stratford Youth Court, in London, following the incident on June, June 10, in which he also kicked another officer.

He pleaded guilty to two counts of assaulting an emergency worker at an earlier hearing and was today sentenced to nine month referral order, ordered court costs of £307, including £100 compensation to each of the police officers. 

The court heard how PC MacPherson and PC Reem Ali were attacked during the incident, as was one member of the public.  

Prosecutor Varinder Hayre said the teenager, riding a bike, was the fourth person to arrive at the scene and found the officer struggling on the floor with another man.

She told the court: ‘The situation started to escalate. The police officer had to activate his emergency button.

‘[The teen] got off his bicycle while filming the scene on his mobile telephone and kicked PC McPherson on his collar bone while he was still on the floor.

‘[The teen] jumped back out of the way and took a selfie of himself.

‘PC Ali was kicked in the leg by a large male who is another defendant in this case [The teen] kicked PC Ali on the back of her right knee causing her leg to swing forward.

‘The police officers were aided by a member of the public carrying a baseball bat who tried to diffuse the situation.’

When police seized the teenager’s phone and examined it they found a video of the boy shouting ‘Black Lives Matter’ during the attack, in which PC MacPherson suffered a bloody graze on his shoulder, suffered muscle pain in his chest and back and pain in his ribs.

PC Ali escaped without serious injury. The court heard the teen was interviewed the following day and made full admissions to his part in the assault.

The prosecutor added: ‘He believed he was helping the defendant. Combined with everything that he had been seeing in the news in regards to Black Lives Matter he had been helping the defendant who had been seen in a headlock.

‘[The teen] said he did kick the officer while he was on the floor and for that he was sorry.’

Ms Hayre also read out victim impact statements from PC Ali.

The teenager today appeared at Stratford Youth Court (pictured), in London, following the incident on June, June 10, in which he also hit and poked another officer

The teenager today appeared at Stratford Youth Court (pictured), in London, following the incident on June, June 10, in which he also hit and poked another officer

PC Ali said: ‘People want five minutes of fame now and perhaps he got the five minutes of fame he wanted.

‘I was disappointed at other people who recorded the incident rather than helping the police officer.

‘The only real men in that incident were PC MacPherson and the man with the bat. That has definitely kept my faith in humanity.’

She added: ‘I do not feel welcome by some members of the BAME community. I was called a racist and evil for just doing my job. I was trying to help my colleague who was on the floor but they were shouting ‘Black Lives Matter’.’ 

Mitigating, Stephen McCabe said the boy was acting ‘impulsively’ and did not know what was happening at the time, incorrectly believing it to be similar to the George Floyd killing by officers in Minneapolis that sparked protests around the world. 

‘He’ll be 14 in a few weeks time. He acted impulsively and didn’t know what was happening. He just got involved and started filming. He didn’t plan to go out and cause trouble with the police.

‘He saw something that was happening and lost the ability to think clearly.’ 

The teenager also gave a letter of apology to the court. 

Chair of the bench, Sharon Higgins said: ‘Life’s about learning. It really is. When we see people in uniforms, it’s hard to look past the uniform and see the human being.’

Marvin Henderson, 34, outside Thames Magistrates Court

Jordan Thomas, 20, outside Thames Magistrates Court

Three other people have been charged with attacking the two police officers in Hackney, East London, have been pictured after appearing in court. Pictured: Marvin Henderson, 34, Jordan Thomas, 20, outside Thames Magistrates Court. They have denied all charges against them and are due to have a trial on Friday

Paul Kabemba, 33, was the third suspect to be arrested and he too was pictured near the court. He also denied the allegations and will also go on trial on Friday

Paul Kabemba, 33, was the third suspect to be arrested and he too was pictured near the court. He also denied the allegations and will also go on trial on Friday

Sentencing, she said: ‘You committed assault by beating of two emergency workers – that’s the police officers involved.

‘This is a serious offence, there’s no getting away from that and take that into account on sentencing.

‘But we do feel as a 13-year-old this has been a wake up call for you. We also acknowledge the support of your parents, they must be very worried about you and that’s something for your family to think about.

‘We understand this was an impulsive action at the time and you were encouraged by an adult to get stuck in there.

‘Your feelings were heightened at the time because of what was happening in the US and the Black Lives Matter movement at the time.

‘We recognise your remorse and admission at the earliest possible stage.’ 

Paul Kabemba, 33, Jordan Thomas, 20, and Marvin Henderson, 34, from Hackney, north east London, were also arrested after the incident.

The trio, who denied all charges against them at Thames Magistrates’ Court in June, will face a trial at Wood Green Crown Court on Friday.

Boy, 13, beat police officers while shouting ‘Black Lives Matter’


The selfie-taking teenager (centre), who cannot be named for legal reasons, kicked the officer as he was struggling with a suspect on the ground during the incident in Hackney, north-east London

A boy, 13, who kicked a police officer in the head while shouting ‘Black Lives Matter’ in an ‘unprovoked attack’ on the streets of London has today been given a referral order.

The bike-riding teenager, who cannot be named for legal reasons, also took a selfie of the officer who was struggling with a suspect on the ground during the incident in Hackney, north-east London.

The incident, which was captured on video and went viral on social media, was broken up when a concerned member of the public, carrying a baseball bat, tried to break-up the struggle. 

Today the teenage attack claimed in court that he carried out the assault on the officer because he saw him holding a suspect in a headlock.

And he said he was ‘scared’ after everything he had seen in the news regarding the death of American George Floyd and the subsequent world-wide protests by the Black Lives Matter movement.

The teenager today appeared at Stratford Youth Court, in London, following the incident on June, June 10, in which he also kicked another officer.

He pleaded guilty to two counts of assaulting an emergency worker at an earlier hearing and was today sentenced to nine month referral order, ordered court costs of £307, including £100 compensation to each of the police officers. 

The court heard how PC Andrew MacPherson and PC Reem Ali were attacked during the incident, as was one member of the public.  

Video footage (pictured left) showed three men and the teenager (far right) around the police officer during the incident in Hackney on June 10

A concerned member of the public carrying a baseball bat came to break-up the incident

Video footage (pictured left) showed three men and the teenager (far right) around the police officer during the incident in Hackney on June 10. A concerned member of the public carrying a baseball bat (pictured right) came to break-up the incident

Prosecutor Varinder Hayre said the teenager, riding a bike, was the fourth person to arrive at the scene and found the officer struggling on the floor with another man.

She told the court: ‘The situation started to escalate. The police officer had to activate his emergency button.

‘[The teen] got off his bicycle while filming the scene on his mobile telephone and kicked PC McPherson on his collar bone while he was still on the floor.

‘[The teen] jumped back out of the way and took a selfie of himself.

‘PC Ali was kicked in the leg by a large male who is another defendant in this case [The teen] kicked PC Ali on the back of her right knee causing her leg to swing forward.

‘The police officers were aided by a member of the public carrying a baseball bat who tried to diffuse the situation.’

When police seized the teenager’s phone and examined it they found a video of the boy shouting ‘Black Lives Matter’ during the attack, in which PC MacPherson suffered a bloody graze on his shoulder, suffered muscle pain in his chest and back and pain in his ribs.

PC Ali escaped without serious injury. The court heard the teen was interviewed the following day and made full admissions to his part in the assault.

The prosecutor added: ‘He believed he was helping the defendant. Combined with everything that he had been seeing in the news in regards to Black Lives Matter he had been helping the defendant who had been seen in a headlock.

‘[The teen] said he did kick the officer while he was on the floor and for that he was sorry.’

Ms Hayre also read out victim impact statements from the officers.

PC MacPherson said: ‘I won’t describe myself as upset at any point and walked away without significant injury.

‘They decided to assault police officers without any context or knowledge of what was happening beforehand.

‘It speaks to their character. I am disappointed but not surprised by people who would rather film a video to put on social media.

The teenager today appeared at Stratford Youth Court (pictured), in London, following the incident on June, June 10, in which he also hit and poked another officer

The teenager today appeared at Stratford Youth Court (pictured), in London, following the incident on June, June 10, in which he also hit and poked another officer

‘It is sad that society has become skewed in its view of policing. Police officers are judged by one of many thousands of incidents.’

He added: ‘If I had reacted differently, I am certain I would have been called a racist police officer. My face and name could have been all over the internet and papers. What would this have done to me?’

PC Ali said: ‘People want five minutes of fame now and perhaps he got the five minutes of fame he wanted.

‘I was disappointed at other people who recorded the incident rather than helping the police officer.

‘The only real men in that incident were PC MacPherson and the man with the bat. That has definitely kept my faith in humanity.’

She added: ‘I do not feel welcome by some members of the BAME community. I was called a racist and evil for just doing my job. I was trying to help my colleague who was on the floor but they were shouting ‘Black Lives Matter’.’ 

Mitigating, Stephen McCabe said the boy was acting ‘impulsively’ and did not know what was happening at the time, incorrectly believing it to be similar to the George Floyd killing by officers in Minneapolis that sparked protests around the world. 

‘He’ll be 14 in a few weeks time. He acted impulsively and didn’t know what was happening. He just got involved and started filming. He didn’t plan to go out and cause trouble with the police.

Marvin Henderson, 34, outside Thames Magistrates Court

Jordan Thomas, 20, outside Thames Magistrates Court

Three other people have been charged with attacking the two police officers in Hackney, East London, have been pictured after appearing in court. Pictured: Marvin Henderson, 34, Jordan Thomas, 20, outside Thames Magistrates Court

Paul Kabemba, 33, was the third suspect to be arrested and he too was pictured near the court

Paul Kabemba, 33, was the third suspect to be arrested and he too was pictured near the court

‘He saw something that was happening and lost the ability to think clearly.’ 

The teenager also gave a letter of apology to the court. 

Chair of the bench, Sharon Higgins said: ‘Life’s about learning. It really is. When we see people in uniforms, it’s hard to look past the uniform and see the human being.’

Sentencing, she said: ‘You committed assault by beating of two emergency workers – that’s the police officers involved.

‘This is a serious offence, there’s no getting away from that and take that into account on sentencing.

‘But we do feel as a 13-year-old this has been a wake up call for you. We also acknowledge the support of your parents, they must be very worried about you and that’s something for your family to think about.

‘We understand this was an impulsive action at the time and you were encouraged by an adult to get stuck in there.

‘Your feelings were heightened at the time because of what was happening in the US and the Black Lives Matter movement at the time.

‘We recognise your remorse and admission at the earliest possible stage.’ 

Paul Kabemba, 33, Jordan Thomas, 20, and Marvin Henderson, 34, from Hackney, north east London, were also arrested after the incident.

The trio, who denied all charges against them at Thames Magistrates’ Court in June, will face a trial at Wood Green Crown Court on Friday.

Amazon will start listing names and addresses of merchants in effort to hold counterfeiters to task


Amazon will start publicly listing the names and addresses of third-party merchants in an effort to hold counterfeiters accountable

  • Amazon will require merchants to list their names and addresses 
  • The move will look to shed light on anonymous sellers and inform customers  
  • It will augment broader moves by Amazon’s Counterfeit Crimes Unit 

Amazon will look to crack down on bootleggers by requiring them to publicly list their names and addresses on

According to a report from Business Insider, the new requirement was sent in a note to sellers this week and will take effect on September 1st. 

‘These features help customers learn more about the businesses of a seller and the products that they are selling,’ the note says, according to a report from Business Insider.

‘We are making this change to ensure there is a consistent baseline of seller information to help customers make informed shopping decisions.’

Amazon recently created a special division assigned to weeding out counterfeit products on its platform through investigation and civil lawsuits (stock)

The effects of publicly listing the name and address of a seller will be twofold according to Amazon.  

It will make it harder for sellers to stay anonymous while also give customers added agency when deciding when and from whom they buy goods on the platform. 

According to Business Insider, the idea behind the added transparency requirements was taken from a Department of Homeland Security report on counterfeiting which states:

‘To increase transparency on this issue, platforms should significantly improve their pre-sale identification of third-party sellers so that buyers can make informed decisions, potentially factoring in the likelihood of being sold a counterfeit or IPR infringing merchandise.’ 

The requirements will be a part of a broader initiative by Amazon which recently announced the formation of a Counterfeit Crimes Unit consisting of ‘former federal prosecutors, experienced investigators, and data analysts’ that will be responsible for holding bootleggers to account.

Specifically, the division will attempt to facilitiate civil lawsuits, help brands in their investigations, and also partner with law enforcement in their separate efforts to combat counterfeiters.  

‘Every counterfeiter is on notice that they will be held accountable to the maximum extent possible under the law, regardless of where they attempt to sell their counterfeits or where they’re located,’ said Dharmesh Mehta, Vice President, Customer Trust and Partner Support at Amazon. 

The introduction of a new unit devoted to stopping counterfeiters is no coincidence. Amazon has struggled to deal with phony products on its platform, leading some major retailers to stop selling goods through the company.

In November, Nike stopped selling products on Amazon’s platform saying that unlicensed distributors were a major factor. 

The company has also invested heavily into attempting to stop counterfeit products from being sold. 

Gillian Taylforth’s ex survived a shooting when gun ‘misfired’


The ex-fiancé of former EastEnders star Gillian Taylforth survived being shot in the stomach because gunman’s weapon misfired, friends claim.

Dave Fairbairn, 64, who is now stable in hospital, was confronting gangsters threatening to burn down his ex-fiancée’s house while he was on bail over a huge £850,000 cannabis factory. 

Fairbairn revealed to a friend that the bullet – which missed his vital organs – fired before he heard ‘lots of clicking’ during the incident in Enfield, North London. 

The Sun reports that he told a friend:  ‘All I can remember is this bang, then lots of clicking.

‘I think the trigger was being pulled again and again.

‘I was lucky some people found me and called the ambulance.’

Dave Fairbairn and Gillian Taylforth are pictured together above on November 21, 2015

He had been arrested three months ago over a drugs farm found in Arrington, Cambridgeshire, by police. 

He was detained by officers at the time on suspicion of cultivation of cannabis and handling stolen goods.

Two other man aged 32 and 37 attempted to run off when police arrived but were stopped and arrested on suspicion of cultivation as well as immigration offences. 

Authorities confirmed to MailOnline all three have now been bailed until later this month.

Fairbairn was shot on Sunday at close range near a Toby Carvery car park in Enfield. On Monday he was stable in hospital following surgery to have the bullet removed, The Sun reported. 

Ms Taylforth, 64, is said to be in shock following news of the shooting. 

She and Fairbarn have remained close despite calling off their wedding in December. 

Mr Fairbairn was arrested and bailed after police discovered this Cannabis factory in Arrington, Cambridgeshire

Mr Fairbairn was arrested and bailed after police discovered this Cannabis factory in Arrington, Cambridgeshire

Officers have been interviewing his neighbours following the shooting. 

One said police were ‘asking about Dave’, saying he was not in any trouble but officers could not reveal why they were asking about him. 

The car park of the nearby Toby Carvery had been cordoned off after the shooting, which is said to have taken place in the woodland next to it. 

Ms Taylforth split from fiancé Fairbairn after six years together in late 2019 (pictured: The pair together in May 2015)

Ms Taylforth split from fiancé Fairbairn after six years together in late 2019 (pictured: The pair together in May 2015) 

Close-knit family upbringing of EastEnders star

Gillian Taylforth was brought up in north London and lived in Islington, with her extended family all as neighbours.

She has spoken in the past about her father – who worked as a printer – being strict and how he had ‘ideas on what jobs the woman of the house should do’.

Taylforth lived at home until she was 26 and worked as a secretary, as well as taking on smaller acting jobs.

It was a tight family unit and her protective father would tell her what time she had to get in at night.

Taylforth said he would team up with her brother Ronnie to chase off muggers and thugs that might have their eye on her and her sisters.

She told the Independent in 1995: ‘My Dad was old-fashioned, very Victorian, a strong person in the family.’

Ms Taylforth split from fiancé Fairbairn after six years together in late 2019 after their relationship came under strain following a ‘string of disagreements’, reports at the time claimed. 

The pair were together since 2013 and Ms Taylforth, who is best known for playing Kathy Beale in EastEnders, originally parted ways with Dave two years earlier due to ‘fiery rows’ between the pair, but later rekindled their romance. 

Ms Taylforth’s relationship with him was her first following her split from her ex-partner of 23 years Geoff Knights. 

She shares two children with Knights, who tragically died of stomach cancer, aged 58, back in 2013. 

They had a stormy relationship but she once admitted in an interview ‘It was really tough as you don’t just stop having feelings for someone’.

Before his death Knights had been accused of breaching an order which barred him from contacting her directly.

But he had been too ill to attend court after collapsing and being sent to hospital as doctors discovered his cancer.  

In 2006, Taylforth needed three stitches in her scalp after Knights beat her up in front of their son while celebrating their 20th anniversary.

He was cautioned after Taylforth refused to press charges. 

In 1994 she was also involved in a high-profile court case when she sued The Sun for libel after they ran a story claiming she and Knights had performed sexual acts on a slip road on the A1 in their Range Rover.

Taylforth claimed that Knights had suffered an acute attack of pancreatitis and she was massaging his stomach to soothe his abdominal pain.

A police officer, however, claimed that she was performing a sexual act instead.

The jury returned a 10-2 majority verdict in favour of The Sun, after which Taylforth collapsed and was taken away by an ambulance.

The car park of the nearby Toby Carvery had been cordoned off after the shooting, which is said to have taken place in the woodland next to it

The car park of the nearby Toby Carvery had been cordoned off after the shooting, which is said to have taken place in the woodland next to it

The actress left EastEnders in 1988 and was cast as Jackie Pascoe-Webb in ITV’s popular televised drama Footballers’ Wives. 

She played the role for all five series, which made her the only cast member to appear in every series without taking a break.

In 2006, she played the role of Mandy Searle in Jane Hall and she also has appeared as a recurring panellist on ITV’s Loose Women.  

She won a regular part in police drama The Bill playing playing Sergeant Nikki Wright in 2006 before leaving two years later. 

In January 2013, Taylforth became a housemate on the eleventh series of Celebrity Big Brother. She was the fourth person to be evicted after 15 days.

Gillian Taylforth’s ex survived a shooting when gun ‘misfired’


The ex-fiancé of former EastEnders star Gillian Taylforth survived being shot in the stomach because gunman’s weapon misfired, friends claim.

Dave Fairbairn, 64, who is now stable in hospital, was confronting gangsters threatening to burn down his ex-fiancée’s house while he was on bail over a huge £850,000 cannabis factory. 

Fairbairn revealed to a friend that the bullet – which missed his vital organs – fired before he heard ‘lots of clicking’ during the incident in Enfield, North London. 

The Sun reports that he told a friend:  ‘All I can remember is this bang, then lots of clicking.

‘I think the trigger was being pulled again and again.

‘I was lucky some people found me and called the ambulance.’

Dave Fairbairn and Gillian Taylforth are pictured together above on November 21, 2015

He had been arrested three months ago over a drugs farm found in Arrington, Cambridgeshire, by police. 

He was detained by officers at the time on suspicion of cultivation of cannabis and handling stolen goods.

Two other man aged 32 and 37 attempted to run off when police arrived but were stopped and arrested on suspicion of cultivation as well as immigration offences. 

Authorities confirmed to MailOnline all three have now been bailed until later this month.

Fairbairn was shot on Sunday at close range near a Toby Carvery car park in Enfield. On Monday he was stable in hospital following surgery to have the bullet removed, The Sun reported. 

Ms Taylforth, 64, is said to be in shock following news of the shooting. 

She and Fairbarn have remained close despite calling off their wedding in December. 

Mr Fairbairn was arrested and bailed after police discovered this Cannabis factory in Arrington, Cambridgeshire

Mr Fairbairn was arrested and bailed after police discovered this Cannabis factory in Arrington, Cambridgeshire

Officers have been interviewing his neighbours following the shooting. 

One said police were ‘asking about Dave’, saying he was not in any trouble but officers could not reveal why they were asking about him. 

The car park of the nearby Toby Carvery had been cordoned off after the shooting, which is said to have taken place in the woodland next to it. 

Ms Taylforth split from fiancé Fairbairn after six years together in late 2019 (pictured: The pair together in May 2015)

Ms Taylforth split from fiancé Fairbairn after six years together in late 2019 (pictured: The pair together in May 2015) 

Close-knit family upbringing of EastEnders star

Gillian Taylforth was brought up in north London and lived in Islington, with her extended family all as neighbours.

She has spoken in the past about her father – who worked as a printer – being strict and how he had ‘ideas on what jobs the woman of the house should do’.

Taylforth lived at home until she was 26 and worked as a secretary, as well as taking on smaller acting jobs.

It was a tight family unit and her protective father would tell her what time she had to get in at night.

Taylforth said he would team up with her brother Ronnie to chase off muggers and thugs that might have their eye on her and her sisters.

She told the Independent in 1995: ‘My Dad was old-fashioned, very Victorian, a strong person in the family.’

Ms Taylforth split from fiancé Fairbairn after six years together in late 2019 after their relationship came under strain following a ‘string of disagreements’, reports at the time claimed. 

The pair were together since 2013 and Ms Taylforth, who is best known for playing Kathy Beale in EastEnders, originally parted ways with Dave two years earlier due to ‘fiery rows’ between the pair, but later rekindled their romance. 

Ms Taylforth’s relationship with him was her first following her split from her ex-partner of 23 years Geoff Knights. 

She shares two children with Knights, who tragically died of stomach cancer, aged 58, back in 2013. 

They had a stormy relationship but she once admitted in an interview ‘It was really tough as you don’t just stop having feelings for someone’.

Before his death Knights had been accused of breaching an order which barred him from contacting her directly.

But he had been too ill to attend court after collapsing and being sent to hospital as doctors discovered his cancer.  

In 2006, Taylforth needed three stitches in her scalp after Knights beat her up in front of their son while celebrating their 20th anniversary.

He was cautioned after Taylforth refused to press charges. 

In 1994 she was also involved in a high-profile court case when she sued The Sun for libel after they ran a story claiming she and Knights had performed sexual acts on a slip road on the A1 in their Range Rover.

Taylforth claimed that Knights had suffered an acute attack of pancreatitis and she was massaging his stomach to soothe his abdominal pain.

A police officer, however, claimed that she was performing a sexual act instead.

The jury returned a 10-2 majority verdict in favour of The Sun, after which Taylforth collapsed and was taken away by an ambulance.

The car park of the nearby Toby Carvery had been cordoned off after the shooting, which is said to have taken place in the woodland next to it

The car park of the nearby Toby Carvery had been cordoned off after the shooting, which is said to have taken place in the woodland next to it

The actress left EastEnders in 1988 and was cast as Jackie Pascoe-Webb in ITV’s popular televised drama Footballers’ Wives. 

She played the role for all five series, which made her the only cast member to appear in every series without taking a break.

In 2006, she played the role of Mandy Searle in Jane Hall and she also has appeared as a recurring panellist on ITV’s Loose Women.  

She won a regular part in police drama The Bill playing playing Sergeant Nikki Wright in 2006 before leaving two years later. 

In January 2013, Taylforth became a housemate on the eleventh series of Celebrity Big Brother. She was the fourth person to be evicted after 15 days.

How can the agony for bereaved families and victims in high-profile court cases get even worse?


Victim: 21-year-old Hull University student Libby Squire was raped and murdered

More than 17 months have passed since Hull University student Libby Squire was raped and murdered after a night out with friends, and at every juncture in this horrific case her parents’ agony has been exacerbated by the torment of waiting.

For seven long weeks, after their 21-year-old-daughter went missing on January 31, 2019, Russ and Lisa Squire clung to the hope that she might be found alive, only to be told that her body had been washed up in the River Humber estuary.

Autumn had descended by the time they were authorised to arrange Libby’s funeral, a deeply moving occasion in the Buckinghamshire village where she grew up. A further four weeks went by before a Polish butcher was charged with a crime that repulsed the nation.

The trial at Sheffield Crown Court was set to begin on June 2. It seemed that Mr and Mrs Squire, who planned to attend every day of the scheduled six week hearing, might at last find out exactly how Libby met her end and — if he is found guilty — see her alleged killer face justice. 

This week, the legal proceedings ought to have been moving towards a denouement. Having listened to hours of harrowing evidence, the Squires’ torturous ordeal should have been nearing its end.

Instead they are waiting yet again. For in a further cruel twist, the trial has now been postponed until next January — one of an astonishing 41,000 criminal hearings caught in a backlog that was already mountainous before the coronavirus pandemic and is now of Everest proportions.

Among them are a plethora of high-profile murder cases, including that of a man who allegedly hid the bodies of his two female victims in a freezer for three years; and a financial consultant accused with her lover of murdering her new-born baby.

The sentencing of Hashem Abedi, 23, the brother of the Manchester Arena suicide bomber who made the nail bomb that caused carnage at the concert by singer Ariana Grande in May 2017, has also been postponed indefinitely. Abedi was convicted of 22 murders and other related charges, but it was deemed too difficult to accommodate all the interested parties — including the victims’ family members, some of whom wish to make statements in court — while conforming to distancing rules.

It is a story being repeated in all 92 crown courts in England and Wales, and despite the obvious challenges it must be remedied, and quickly.

Yet the logjam is so vast that it could take a full decade to clear, according to a shocking new report by Her Majesty’s Crown Prosecution Inspectorate.

It has become so grave that yesterday the Justice Secretary Robert Buckland was revealed to be considering legislation that would allow the number of jurors to be reduced from 12 to nine, in all but the most serious cases. If two members fell ill, just seven jurors could even be permitted to bring in a verdict.

The sentencing of Hashem Abedi, pictured above, 23, the brother of the Manchester Arena suicide bomber, has also been postponed indefinitely

The sentencing of Hashem Abedi, pictured above, 23, the brother of the Manchester Arena suicide bomber, has also been postponed indefinitely

This would mean overturning a fundamental tenet of law thought to date back to 725, when Welsh king Morgan of Glamorgan is believed to have decreed that legal cases must be tried by 12 jurors and a judge to represent Jesus and the 12 Apostles.

In recent history, the only time fewer jurors have been permitted came during World War II, when conscription cut the number of people eligible to serve.

Desperate times require desperate measures. It is thought that allowing smaller juries to comply with social distancing measures could increase court capacity by up to 10 per cent. That would mean staging an extra 8,000 trials a year.

The nightmare of trying to hold a safe trial during a pandemic was highlighted at the Old Bailey on Monday, when a juror hearing the murder trial of Aaron McKenzie — accused of stabbing to death his girlfriend and her unborn baby — was discharged after suffering symptoms of Covid-19.

His seat had to be deep-cleaned before the trial could continue.

Even before the pandemic struck, however, forcing court buildings either to drastically reduce their capacity to comply with social distancing rules or close down altogether, our courts were chaotically overburdened, with 37,000 crown court trials and a colossal 400,000 magistrates cases outstanding.

The Criminal Bar Association, which represents barristers’ views, is not alone in blaming this sclerosis on years of budget cuts, underfunding and court closures. However, since the lockdown began, halting all jury trials for months, the Crown Prosecution Inspectorate says the backlog has spiralled ‘exponentially’. 

A juror hearing the murder trial of Aaron McKenzie, court sketch above, accused of stabbing to death his girlfriend and her unborn baby, was discharged after suffering symptoms Covid-19

A juror hearing the murder trial of Aaron McKenzie, court sketch above, accused of stabbing to death his girlfriend and her unborn baby, was discharged after suffering symptoms Covid-19

Between early March and the end of May, it rose by 53 per cent, and 41,000 trials are now stuck in the pipeline, leaving countless victims and their families, and equally many defendants — many of whom will be axiomatically proved innocent in the fullness of time — in a judicial limbo.

Also consider this: in 2010, it took an average of 391 days for a criminal case to be resolved from the date of the offence was committed to sentencing. While we might think this an unacceptable length of time, today the number of days has stretched to 511.

Justice delayed is justice denied. Given that this country supposedly upholds this fundamental principle — a cornerstone of our democracy dating back to the Magna Carta — surely these statistics, pandemic or no pandemic, are utterly unacceptable?

How must Libby’s parents feel, as they prepare to wait an extra seven months before decamping to Sheffield (where the crown court has gingerly reopened, albeit for very short trials, with strict social distancing measures)?

Beyond telling me that she had learnt to ‘live in the moment’, and was resigned to waiting as long as necessary to learn the truth, her mother didn’t wish to discuss the emotional effects of the backlog.

However, Solace Women’s Aid, a charity that helps women and children who have experienced abuse, put me in touch with a young woman they have been supporting after she was allegedly raped.

She poignantly explained how it feels to be ‘just another number’ lost in the system, waiting for years for a vacant courtroom.

How must Libby’s parents feel, as they prepare to wait an extra seven months before decamping to Sheffield (Libby pictured with her mother Lisa Squire)

How must Libby’s parents feel, as they prepare to wait an extra seven months before decamping to Sheffield (Libby pictured with her mother Lisa Squire)

For Laura (not her real name), who is in her late 20s, works with young people, and lives in the South of England, the Kafkaesque nightmare began in the autumn of 2017.

The law prevents her from describing the alleged attack, but she can say what happened after she went to the police, about a week later.

Her first shock came when she was warned that it could take between 18 months and two years for the case to be resolved, and asked whether, with that in mind, she was ready to go through with it.

She said she was. ‘I’m quite a stubborn person and thought, no matter how long it takes, justice needs to be done.

‘I was also prepared to wait because I thought this might happen to other people. Maybe the person would do it again and maybe he wouldn’t, but I didn’t want to carry the burden of thinking I should have done something when I had the chance.’

Laura has no complaints about the police. Within a few weeks a suspect was arrested. Then, as the CPS slowly weighed the merits of the case, an officer specially trained in investigating sexual offences kept in regular contact with her.

Yet her anxiety was already causing panic attacks, and it was heightened whenever the officer phoned. Invariably to tell her there was still no news.

She says she felt ‘haunted’ and suffered nightmares. On top of all this, she harboured irrational feelings of being ‘stigmatised’ and faced the dilemma of who she could trust with what had happened to her.

Laura still daren’t tell some family members, including her grandparents who would be ‘devastated’.

Indeed, she was warned not to discuss the details of the attack with anyone, even her closest confidantes, for fear that what she said could be used against he in court.

Visiting the famous Central Criminal Court, above, in recent days has shown just how difficult it will be to clear the backlog while the virus remains with us

Visiting the famous Central Criminal Court, above, in recent days has shown just how difficult it will be to clear the backlog while the virus remains with us

Laura’s spirits were raised last November, when the CPS finally announced that they would press charges.

A trial was set for June this year. It was only a few days away when a CPS lawyer wrote to Laura with the devastating news that the virus had caused it to be postponed indefinitely. He said he understood that this must be frustrating and upsetting for her. But one doubts that anyone but Laura herself could comprehend the effects of this 11th-hour cancellation.

Such is the strain of her protracted wait that she has, at times, considered dropping the case. Had she done so, she would not have been alone.

Last year a study of rape cases in London revealed that 58 per cent of complainants withdraw their allegations, most commonly through the stress and trauma of the investigation and a desire to move on.

Since rape cases now take an astonishing 2,626 days, from offence to court verdict — yes, that is more than seven years — and just three per cent result in a conviction, this is hardly surprising.

It says much for her strength of character, however, that Laura has opted to press on — no matter how long it might take to reschedule the trial.

In recent weeks, both the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Burnett of Maldon, and Justice Secretary Mr Buckland have acknowledged the crisis in our courts and spoken of the radical steps necessary to clear the vast backlog.

Following the lead of the NHS, they include setting up ten emergency ‘Nightingale Courts’ — no-frills halls of justice, sufficiently spacious for the safe social distancing of jurors, lawyers, defendants, witnesses and the public. These might be sited in colleges or public buildings.

The possibility of dispensing with juries altogether in less serious cases, and allowing them to be heard by a judge sitting with two magistrates, is believed to have been ditched following strong opposition from practising lawyers, who said it would represent ‘an assault on justice, a blow to the common man’.

Last week, however, the government announced a raft of other measures.

An additional £142 million will go towards technological improvements and modernising courtrooms so they comply with new safety guidelines.

Following an apparently successful pilot scheme, more ‘virtual’ trials are to be staged remotely using video conferencing links.

The logjam is so vast that it could take a full decade to clear, according to a shocking new report by Her Majesty’s Crown Prosecution Inspectorate

The logjam is so vast that it could take a full decade to clear, according to a shocking new report by Her Majesty’s Crown Prosecution Inspectorate

Judging by the farcical scenes in some of England’s already shabby courtrooms (lawyers regularly tweet photos of leaking ceilings, ripped carpets and filthy benches) these improvements can’t come soon enough.

Visiting the famous Central Criminal Court in recent days has shown just how difficult it will be to clear the backlog while the virus remains with us.

As only one person at a time is permitted to walk through the imposing main door, robed barristers, solicitors, jurors and court staff must queue for up to an hour each morning just to enter the building.

Jurors can be sworn in — by a judge using a microphone — as they stand, two metres apart, in the marbled corridors. The public benches are sealed off with yellow and black hazard tape. There are Covid warning signs and floor-markings everywhere.

Banished to rickety old chairs usually reserved for the press, barristers have complained that their gowns are being torn by nails poking through the rough fabric. Some learned counsel also augment their wigs with face masks and rubber gloves.

When a trial is concluded, the court staff must deep-clean all the furniture, walls and floor — a process that takes a full day.

Adding to all this indignity, a few days ago, rainwater dripped into the library and holding cells.

Meanwhile, the list of delayed trials grows ever longer — and for women such as Laura the torment of waiting for justice becomes ever more insufferable.

How can the agony for bereaved families and victims in high-profile court cases get even worse?


Victim: 21-year-old Hull University student Libby Squire was raped and murdered

More than 17 months have passed since Hull University student Libby Squire was raped and murdered after a night out with friends, and at every juncture in this horrific case her parents’ agony has been exacerbated by the torment of waiting.

For seven long weeks, after their 21-year-old-daughter went missing on January 31, 2019, Russ and Lisa Squire clung to the hope that she might be found alive, only to be told that her body had been washed up in the River Humber estuary.

Autumn had descended by the time they were authorised to arrange Libby’s funeral, a deeply moving occasion in the Buckinghamshire village where she grew up. A further four weeks went by before a Polish butcher was charged with a crime that repulsed the nation.

The trial at Sheffield Crown Court was set to begin on June 2. It seemed that Mr and Mrs Squire, who planned to attend every day of the scheduled six week hearing, might at last find out exactly how Libby met her end and — if he is found guilty — see her alleged killer face justice. 

This week, the legal proceedings ought to have been moving towards a denouement. Having listened to hours of harrowing evidence, the Squires’ torturous ordeal should have been nearing its end.

Instead they are waiting yet again. For in a further cruel twist, the trial has now been postponed until next January — one of an astonishing 41,000 criminal hearings caught in a backlog that was already mountainous before the coronavirus pandemic and is now of Everest proportions.

Among them are a plethora of high-profile murder cases, including that of a man who allegedly hid the bodies of his two female victims in a freezer for three years; and a financial consultant accused with her lover of murdering her new-born baby.

The sentencing of Hashem Abedi, 23, the brother of the Manchester Arena suicide bomber who made the nail bomb that caused carnage at the concert by singer Ariana Grande in May 2017, has also been postponed indefinitely. Abedi was convicted of 22 murders and other related charges, but it was deemed too difficult to accommodate all the interested parties — including the victims’ family members, some of whom wish to make statements in court — while conforming to distancing rules.

It is a story being repeated in all 92 crown courts in England and Wales, and despite the obvious challenges it must be remedied, and quickly.

Yet the logjam is so vast that it could take a full decade to clear, according to a shocking new report by Her Majesty’s Crown Prosecution Inspectorate.

It has become so grave that yesterday the Justice Secretary Robert Buckland was revealed to be considering legislation that would allow the number of jurors to be reduced from 12 to nine, in all but the most serious cases. If two members fell ill, just seven jurors could even be permitted to bring in a verdict.

The sentencing of Hashem Abedi, pictured above, 23, the brother of the Manchester Arena suicide bomber, has also been postponed indefinitely

The sentencing of Hashem Abedi, pictured above, 23, the brother of the Manchester Arena suicide bomber, has also been postponed indefinitely

This would mean overturning a fundamental tenet of law thought to date back to 725, when Welsh king Morgan of Glamorgan is believed to have decreed that legal cases must be tried by 12 jurors and a judge to represent Jesus and the 12 Apostles.

In recent history, the only time fewer jurors have been permitted came during World War II, when conscription cut the number of people eligible to serve.

Desperate times require desperate measures. It is thought that allowing smaller juries to comply with social distancing measures could increase court capacity by up to 10 per cent. That would mean staging an extra 8,000 trials a year.

The nightmare of trying to hold a safe trial during a pandemic was highlighted at the Old Bailey on Monday, when a juror hearing the murder trial of Aaron McKenzie — accused of stabbing to death his girlfriend and her unborn baby — was discharged after suffering symptoms of Covid-19.

His seat had to be deep-cleaned before the trial could continue.

Even before the pandemic struck, however, forcing court buildings either to drastically reduce their capacity to comply with social distancing rules or close down altogether, our courts were chaotically overburdened, with 37,000 crown court trials and a colossal 400,000 magistrates cases outstanding.

The Criminal Bar Association, which represents barristers’ views, is not alone in blaming this sclerosis on years of budget cuts, underfunding and court closures. However, since the lockdown began, halting all jury trials for months, the Crown Prosecution Inspectorate says the backlog has spiralled ‘exponentially’. 

A juror hearing the murder trial of Aaron McKenzie, court sketch above, accused of stabbing to death his girlfriend and her unborn baby, was discharged after suffering symptoms Covid-19

A juror hearing the murder trial of Aaron McKenzie, court sketch above, accused of stabbing to death his girlfriend and her unborn baby, was discharged after suffering symptoms Covid-19

Between early March and the end of May, it rose by 53 per cent, and 41,000 trials are now stuck in the pipeline, leaving countless victims and their families, and equally many defendants — many of whom will be axiomatically proved innocent in the fullness of time — in a judicial limbo.

Also consider this: in 2010, it took an average of 391 days for a criminal case to be resolved from the date of the offence was committed to sentencing. While we might think this an unacceptable length of time, today the number of days has stretched to 511.

Justice delayed is justice denied. Given that this country supposedly upholds this fundamental principle — a cornerstone of our democracy dating back to the Magna Carta — surely these statistics, pandemic or no pandemic, are utterly unacceptable?

How must Libby’s parents feel, as they prepare to wait an extra seven months before decamping to Sheffield (where the crown court has gingerly reopened, albeit for very short trials, with strict social distancing measures)?

Beyond telling me that she had learnt to ‘live in the moment’, and was resigned to waiting as long as necessary to learn the truth, her mother didn’t wish to discuss the emotional effects of the backlog.

However, Solace Women’s Aid, a charity that helps women and children who have experienced abuse, put me in touch with a young woman they have been supporting after she was allegedly raped.

She poignantly explained how it feels to be ‘just another number’ lost in the system, waiting for years for a vacant courtroom.

How must Libby’s parents feel, as they prepare to wait an extra seven months before decamping to Sheffield (Libby pictured with her mother Lisa Squire)

How must Libby’s parents feel, as they prepare to wait an extra seven months before decamping to Sheffield (Libby pictured with her mother Lisa Squire)

For Laura (not her real name), who is in her late 20s, works with young people, and lives in the South of England, the Kafkaesque nightmare began in the autumn of 2017.

The law prevents her from describing the alleged attack, but she can say what happened after she went to the police, about a week later.

Her first shock came when she was warned that it could take between 18 months and two years for the case to be resolved, and asked whether, with that in mind, she was ready to go through with it.

She said she was. ‘I’m quite a stubborn person and thought, no matter how long it takes, justice needs to be done.

‘I was also prepared to wait because I thought this might happen to other people. Maybe the person would do it again and maybe he wouldn’t, but I didn’t want to carry the burden of thinking I should have done something when I had the chance.’

Laura has no complaints about the police. Within a few weeks a suspect was arrested. Then, as the CPS slowly weighed the merits of the case, an officer specially trained in investigating sexual offences kept in regular contact with her.

Yet her anxiety was already causing panic attacks, and it was heightened whenever the officer phoned. Invariably to tell her there was still no news.

She says she felt ‘haunted’ and suffered nightmares. On top of all this, she harboured irrational feelings of being ‘stigmatised’ and faced the dilemma of who she could trust with what had happened to her.

Laura still daren’t tell some family members, including her grandparents who would be ‘devastated’.

Indeed, she was warned not to discuss the details of the attack with anyone, even her closest confidantes, for fear that what she said could be used against he in court.

Visiting the famous Central Criminal Court, above, in recent days has shown just how difficult it will be to clear the backlog while the virus remains with us

Visiting the famous Central Criminal Court, above, in recent days has shown just how difficult it will be to clear the backlog while the virus remains with us

Laura’s spirits were raised last November, when the CPS finally announced that they would press charges.

A trial was set for June this year. It was only a few days away when a CPS lawyer wrote to Laura with the devastating news that the virus had caused it to be postponed indefinitely. He said he understood that this must be frustrating and upsetting for her. But one doubts that anyone but Laura herself could comprehend the effects of this 11th-hour cancellation.

Such is the strain of her protracted wait that she has, at times, considered dropping the case. Had she done so, she would not have been alone.

Last year a study of rape cases in London revealed that 58 per cent of complainants withdraw their allegations, most commonly through the stress and trauma of the investigation and a desire to move on.

Since rape cases now take an astonishing 2,626 days, from offence to court verdict — yes, that is more than seven years — and just three per cent result in a conviction, this is hardly surprising.

It says much for her strength of character, however, that Laura has opted to press on — no matter how long it might take to reschedule the trial.

In recent weeks, both the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Burnett of Maldon, and Justice Secretary Mr Buckland have acknowledged the crisis in our courts and spoken of the radical steps necessary to clear the vast backlog.

Following the lead of the NHS, they include setting up ten emergency ‘Nightingale Courts’ — no-frills halls of justice, sufficiently spacious for the safe social distancing of jurors, lawyers, defendants, witnesses and the public. These might be sited in colleges or public buildings.

The possibility of dispensing with juries altogether in less serious cases, and allowing them to be heard by a judge sitting with two magistrates, is believed to have been ditched following strong opposition from practising lawyers, who said it would represent ‘an assault on justice, a blow to the common man’.

Last week, however, the government announced a raft of other measures.

An additional £142 million will go towards technological improvements and modernising courtrooms so they comply with new safety guidelines.

Following an apparently successful pilot scheme, more ‘virtual’ trials are to be staged remotely using video conferencing links.

The logjam is so vast that it could take a full decade to clear, according to a shocking new report by Her Majesty’s Crown Prosecution Inspectorate

The logjam is so vast that it could take a full decade to clear, according to a shocking new report by Her Majesty’s Crown Prosecution Inspectorate

Judging by the farcical scenes in some of England’s already shabby courtrooms (lawyers regularly tweet photos of leaking ceilings, ripped carpets and filthy benches) these improvements can’t come soon enough.

Visiting the famous Central Criminal Court in recent days has shown just how difficult it will be to clear the backlog while the virus remains with us.

As only one person at a time is permitted to walk through the imposing main door, robed barristers, solicitors, jurors and court staff must queue for up to an hour each morning just to enter the building.

Jurors can be sworn in — by a judge using a microphone — as they stand, two metres apart, in the marbled corridors. The public benches are sealed off with yellow and black hazard tape. There are Covid warning signs and floor-markings everywhere.

Banished to rickety old chairs usually reserved for the press, barristers have complained that their gowns are being torn by nails poking through the rough fabric. Some learned counsel also augment their wigs with face masks and rubber gloves.

When a trial is concluded, the court staff must deep-clean all the furniture, walls and floor — a process that takes a full day.

Adding to all this indignity, a few days ago, rainwater dripped into the library and holding cells.

Meanwhile, the list of delayed trials grows ever longer — and for women such as Laura the torment of waiting for justice becomes ever more insufferable.

Police to be told to prosecute shoplifters stealing under £200


Priti Patel demands that shoplifters stealing items worth less than £200 are prosecuted after complaints thefts are being ignored by police

  • A study of 3,500 retailers revealed that abuse towards workers had increased 
  • There is a feeling that complaints of minor thefts are being ignored by police 
  • Some shops have now even resorted to private prosecutions to pursue thefts 
  • Now, the Home Office will write to police chiefs urging them to prosecute thefts 

The Home Office will write to police chiefs urging them to prosecute shoplifters who steal less than £200 of goods, in a bid to tackle violence against shopkeepers.

The news comes as it was suggested supermarkets and convenience stores may be resorting to private prosecutions to pursue thefts after complaints they are being ignored by police. 

The move is the result of information provided by nearly 3,500 retailers, trade associations and unions which suggested abuse towards shop staff had increased, with a ‘significant number’ saying they did not report incidents to the police. 

Home Secretary Priti Patel’s department will write to police chiefs urging them to prosecute shoplifters who steal less than £200 of goods

Currently, there is a feeling among shop owners that they are being ignored by police when reporting thefts

Currently, there is a feeling among shop owners that they are being ignored by police when reporting thefts

The crime and policing minister Kit Malthouse will write to police and crime commissioners and chief constables ‘underscoring the importance of working closely with local businesses to tackle this issue and emphasising that the theft of goods valued up to £200 from a shop should be prosecuted as a criminal offence,’ the Home Office said.

The department has also pledged to work with the National Retail Crime Steering Group (NRCSG) on ways to support staff in reporting crimes.

Mr Malthouse said: ‘Shopworkers are the beating hearts of our communities and violence or abuse against them is utterly unacceptable.

‘We are determined to drive down these crimes and crucially, ensure that shopworkers are fully supported in reporting incidents to the police.’

The crime and policing minister Kit Malthouse will write to police and crime commissioners and chief constables

The crime and policing minister Kit Malthouse will write to police and crime commissioners and chief constables

According to law firm Fieldfisher, police forces were no longer responding to, or investigating, most thefts below £200 unless there was a threat of violence towards staff and shops were considering private prosecutions as a result of public prosecutors being under strain.

The firm said anecdotal information it had gathered indicated many stores no longer report offences to the police, and instead are issuing exclusion orders, banning people from their stores.

It added that the Association of Convenience Stores Crime Report 2019 estimates the number of incidents of shop theft has increased significantly over the last year, costing an estimated £246 million in 2019, equivalent to over £5,300 for every store in the UK, or what amounts to a 7p tax on every transaction.