Pro-life protesters have lost their legal challenge against the UK’s first buffer zone around an abortion clinic.
Ealing Council implemented a 100m exclusion zone at the Marie Stopes centre last year after women complained of being intimidated.
The Good Counsel Network, which holds vigils outside the clinic in Ealing, west London, denied harassing women.
Three Court of Appeal judges dismissed the bid to overturn the ban on protests directly outside the facility.
Ealing Council imposed the public spaces protection order (PSPO) in April 2018 after failed attempts to find a compromise between the Christian protesters and pro-choice groups, which had staged counter-demonstrations from 2015 onwards.
The situation had “generated an atmosphere of tension”, the court heard, and clinic users had reported “intimidation, harassment and distress”.
Alina Dulgheriu and Andrea Orthova, who regularly attend vigils, mounted a legal challenge at the Court of Appeal in an attempt to overturn the exclusion zone.
It was argued the ban interfered with their rights for freedom of expression, freedom of religion or belief and freedom of assembly and association.
They also claimed that PSPOs were designed to protect people living nearby from anti-social behaviour, which was not applicable to one-off clinic users.
Ealing Council told the court some past users of the clinic are still “significantly affected by their encounters with the activists” many years on.
The authority’s QC said the council received a petition signed by more than 3,500 people urging it to take action.
‘Victory for common sense’
Master of the Rolls Sir Terence Etherton, Lady Justice King and Lady Justice Nicola Davies unanimously dismissed the protester’s claims, upholding an earlier decision in favour of the council by the High Court.
The judges ruled that “a PSPO was necessary to strike a fair balance between protecting the rights of the service users on the one hand and the protesters on the other”.
They said the High Court judge was entitled to have determined that the creation of a “safe zone”, which the protesters could not enter, and the provision of a designated area some way off – in which limited protest could take place – was “proportionate”.
After the ruling, Marie Stopes UK’s managing director Richard Bentley said it was “a victory for common sense, compassion and women’s right to make decisions about their own bodies”.
“We believe in the right to assembly, expression and to practise your religion, but this should never be at the expense of a woman’s right to legal healthcare.”
Two men have been charged after a 16-year-old boy was fatally stabbed in north London.
Alex Smith, from Wembley, was attacked in Munster Square, Camden, on Monday 12 August.
Yusuf Yusuf, 19, of Sandwell Crescent, West Hampstead, and Arif Biomy, 19, of Wickham Lane, Plumstead, have both been charged with murder.
A post-mortem examination found the cause of Alex’s death to have been a stab wound to the chest.
The Met Police said two men aged 23 and 18 arrested on suspicion of murder on 14 August had been bailed to return on a date in mid-September.
Another man arrested, aged 20, has also been released on bail until September.
Luminary Bakery, on a quiet north-east London backstreet, is not your typical café.
Behind the cakes and sourdough loaves is a thriving social enterprise aimed at helping women from disadvantaged backgrounds get their lives back on track.
This motive inspired The Duchess of Sussex to include the bakery in Vogue when she was a guest editor.
In return, the bakery made her a birthday cake and the Duchess thanked the social enterprise on Twitter.
A teenager found dead in Malaysia after vanishing on a family holiday had not been abducted, police say.
Nora Quoirin’s body was found beside a stream about 1.6 miles (2.5km) from the jungle resort of Dusun on Tuesday.
She died from internal bleeding probably caused by hunger and stress, a post-mortem examination revealed.
Malaysian Police said there was no suspicion the 15-year-old, who was discovered following a 10-day search, was the victim of foul play.
Nora died two or three days before she was found, the force believes.
Her unclothed body was found in an area that had previously been searched by rescuers.
She was described by her family as vulnerable having been born with holoprosencephaly, a disorder which affects brain development.
Her Irish-French parents, Meabh and Sebastian, previously said they didn’t believe she would have wandered off alone and feared she had been abducted.
Negeri Sembilan state police chief Mohamad Mat Yusop, said: “For the time being, there is no element of abduction or kidnapping.
“The cause of death was upper gastrointestinal bleeding due to duodenal ulcer, complicated with perforation.”
Further analysis would be carried out on samples taken from her body, he said, adding Nora’s family was now free to take her home.
Speaking after her body was found, Mr and Mrs Quoirin said their “hearts are broken” and paid tribute to their daughter as “the truest, most precious girl”.
They said Nora, who lived in London, had “truly touched the world” after her disappearance sparked a huge search operation and good wishes from across the globe.
A book of condolence was opened on Wednesday in Belfast, where Mrs Quoirin is from.
In a statement, the Dusun resort said it wanted to “extend support and assistance in whatever way possible to the Quoirins during these very difficult times”.
“We deeply regret that this has happened to the Quoirins during their stay here,” it said.
Nora Quoirin disappearance: Timeline
- 3 August: The Quoirins arrive at the Dusun forest eco-resort
- 4 August: Nora disappears from her room
- 5 August: The Lucie Blackman Trust says Malaysian police are treating Nora’s disappearance as a potential abduction, but officers deny any foul play is involved
- 6 August: Nora’s family say they believe she has been abducted
- 11 August: Malaysian police set up a hotline dedicated to receiving information about teenager
- 12 August: A reward of £10,000 – donated by an anonymous Belfast business – is made available for information leading to Nora’s safe return
- 13 August: A body is found in the search for Nora
It’s the time of year when many parents are buying their children’s school uniform – which some say can cost in excess of £200. Do schools need to relax their rules on branded clothing to help make it cheaper? Or can online swap groups and recycling schemes cut the cost of going back to school?
The cost of school uniform
Research by market analysts Mintel suggests British parents spend about £1.2bn on clothing and equipment for school.
The Department for Education (DfE) asked 1,183 parents about uniform costs in 2015 and found it came to almost £213 per child. Adjusting its figures for inflation, it would make the average cost of uniform in 2019 almost £230 per pupil.
What parents recalled spending
Source: DfE survey of 1,183 parents in 2015, figures adjusted for inflation
Adding in PE kit, parents recalled paying the equivalent to £70 more for primary school children and between £111 and £140 extra for those of secondary school age.
Separate estimates from The Children’s Society in 2018 put the total cost of uniform at £256 per primary school child and £338 per secondary school pupil.
How to cut the cost: Online swaps
One way of cutting the cost is to swap uniform with other parents. Thousands of people are members of social media groups that do this.
Yvonne Hall, 38, from Stockton-on-Tees, set up a Facebook group for parents to donate used school uniforms.
Her 16-year-old son changed schools in the first term of last year and Mrs Hall said she found herself with “another hefty uniform bill” of about £100 on top of the cost of the old uniform.
“I decided to donate the brand new uniform my son had only worn for a week on Facebook and it was snapped up instantly,” she said.
The page now has parents sharing uniforms, PE kits and revision guides.
A sample of 100 Facebook groups set up in Britain and containing the words “school uniform” and “swap” or “free” showed they had 34,110 members between them, an average of more than 340 each.
Does it have to be a new uniform?
Kate France wants to challenge what she calls the UK’s culture of “always buying new” school uniforms.
She set up the charity Uniform Exchange in Huddersfield in 2011 to help families who were struggling with the cost of basics items, but now says the project is also about reducing waste.
“If anything has got life left in it then we should be recycling,” she said. “By the time my kids get home in the evening, their uniform is covered in pen or mud.
“Any school uniform will look second hand by the end of the first week.”
What help is available?
Some councils or schools offer financial support.
In England schools can use the funding they get from the DfE’s pupil premium – money allocated for children from poorer backgrounds.
Hackney Council spent £72,300 on school uniform grants in 2018-19. Manchester City Council spent £208,529 on school uniform grants in 2014-15 but stopped offering them the following year.
A spokesman for the Local Government Association said funding cuts from central government had resulted in councils finding it “increasingly difficult” to provide grants for school uniforms.
In Scotland families can apply for a £100 grant in the same way they apply for free school meals.
From September families in Wales can apply for a £125 Pupil Development Grant, which comes alongside advice to schools to have gender neutral uniforms and minimal branding.
In Northern Ireland funding varies from £35.75 to £56 depending on the age of the child.
Is uniform cheaper in the supermarket?
The BBC compared school clothing on the websites of four large UK supermarkets and found the average prices were about £58 less for a primary school uniform and £118 less for a secondary school uniform than in the government’s survey of parents.
The saving is likely to be higher as the analysis is based only on buying one of each item, excluding any spares parents would typically purchase.
It also depends on whether schools would permit parents to use supermarket uniform or whether they have to have items with the school’s logo.
Can school uniform be cheaper?
Difference (£) between average cost of uniform in supermarkets and government estimates
What do suppliers say?
Suppliers of school uniforms said their costs were lower than the estimates in the government’s survey.
A spokeswoman for Price and Buckland said uniforms should be affordable for everyone, adding: “We work with some schools that offer pupil premium and offer vouchers to parents to support them with purchasing uniform.”
Michael Franklin from National School Uniforms said supermarket clothing, while cheaper, was generally “far inferior to the norm”, with bespoke items lasting “three times as long”.
Carolyn Budding from YourSchoolUniform.com said schools should take out contracts with single suppliers, who could “offer more competitive prices”.
“This is contrary to government advice to schools to offer a choice of suppliers,” she said.
What is the government doing?
Emma Hardy, Labour MP for West Hull and Hessle and a former primary school teacher, said schools needed to “poverty proof” their uniform policies and remove the need for clothing with school branding so they could be bought “from any shop”.
“I think if you can make uniform more accessible parents can make it just as smart as if it’s been bought from a specific school retailer,” she said.
A Department for Education spokeswoman said: “Our guidance states that schools should prioritise cost when setting uniform policies, including making sure uniforms are easily available at different outlets, and keeping compulsory branded items to a minimum.
“We have been clear that when there is a suitable time in Parliament, we intend to make this guidance statutory.”
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