EJECTION FOR GRAPHIC TRUTH

An anti-abortion group, Life, was kicked out of the Lambeth Country Show last month after a few of the 150,000 visitors complained that their stall was “inappropriate”.

The stall featured plastic models of foetuses at various stages of development laid on a time-line, and this was deemed upsetting by organisers Lambeth Council to visitors who had had abortions. A teacher visiting, Katie Stacey, 26, said that abortion was a “perfectly legal medical procedure” and that women attending a family event “should not feel attacked for their right to choose it.”

Life say they are considering legal action against what they see as censorship. Question is, for all of our thinking teachers of the young out there, does being “perfectly legal” make it right?

TOP LOSSES

The Shangri-La Hotel, which occupies floors 34-52 of the Shard has lost more than £60 million since it opened four years ago.

The five-star hotel offers spectacular views over the Capital as well as marble bathrooms, an infinity pool 600 feet off the ground and a standard room rate of £399.

Reasons for the losses have been rocketing costs and a very competitive hotel landscape in London, where 5,000 new rooms were added in 2016.

OLYMPIA MAKEOVER

Olympia Exhibition and Conference Centre is to get a £1 billion refurbishment under plans drawn up by its new owners, Yoo Capital. (Evening Standard)

These include a new 1,500 seat theatre, another performing arts centre, a cinema, two hotels and a number of new restaurants. The exhibition halls are having mezzanine floors put in to increase floor space for exhibitions, the main delivery hub is to be moved underground and Yoo Capital has launched a campaign to get the Tube service from Earl’s Court to Olympia reinstated, a move that will be much appreciated by the all-important visitors.

VINHO VERDE

To a tasting of Vinho Verde wines from quintas (farms) in North-West Portugal and available in the UK.

The wines are increasingly popular in the UK as the demand for light, fresh wines with low alcohol and calories grows – apparently last year we necked more than 1.5 million litres with a value of 3.4 million euros.

The big grape variety, and getting bigger is Alvarinho and this was the grape used for one of our high-scorers, the Casa Do Capitao – Mor Reserva 2016 from the Quinta de Pacos which delivered a fruity vanilla and lychee hit. (Importer Casa Leal) Also excellent was the Alvarinho Deu La Deu Premium 2015 from the Adega Dde Moncao with lots of fresh citrus. (Importer Clarke Foyster) However our top favourites were a very fruity white from Arinto grapes and an equally fruity rose from Espadeiro e Tintas grapes, both from 2017 bottlings by the Quinta de Linhares. (Importer Lisbon Wines Ltd)

DE NIRO HOTEL SCRAPPED

Plans by actor Robert De Niro and BD Hotels for a hotel in Covent Garden have been scrapped.

The Wellington Hotel was to have 83 bedrooms, a spa, a restaurant and a members club and would have taken up the whole Strand side of Covent Garden, spreading across six buildings However BD Hotels say that a change in the economics killed it. Covent Garden landlord, Capco (formerly owners of Olympia) say that they have not reached satisfactory commercial terms, presumably agreement on rent.

BD Hotels have 24 hotels in the USA, including the Greenwich Hotel, co-owned with De Niro and developed in conjunction with him. In 2015 De Niro commented that he was talking to BD about another Greenwich-style property in another city, but that it “had to be the right city”.

NO NEPOTISM HERE, RIGHT BRUV?

The former CEO of Excel exhibition and conference centre, David Pegler is to be sued for more than £2million by his former employer and Excel owner the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC).

ADNEC say that they sacked Pegler last November because they found out he was employing his brother, Richard Pegler there on a deal worth up to £120,000 a year and failed to tell either ADNEC or the Excel board about it. ADNEC also allege that David Pegler put “inappropriate pressure” on two potential suppliers to Excel to employ his brother in a high-paying job saying that this would give them a competitive advantage when seeking contracts with Excel, an aspect that has been denied by Pegler.

Pegler, say ADNEC, also took a number of first class flights and train journeys that were against Excel’s rules on expenses.

David Pegler is counter-suing ADNEC for £1 million for the loss of his job.

THE BUTTERFLY TREE

If a bittersweet film about beauty, and the loss of it floats your boat then you’ll love The Butterfly Tree.

This ravishingly-shot and quirky Australian film from 2017 is the visually stunning debut of its writer and director Priscilla Cameron and stars the very talented Melissa George as a lovely former burlesque dancer, Evelyn who opens a flower shop in a small town in lush Queensland, entrances a local teacher, Al, (played by Ewen Leslie) while bewitching a sixteen year old boy, Fin, (played by Ed Oxenbould) without realising that Fin is Al’s son. Fin’s love of beauty reflects in his hobby of gazing at butterflies caught under a tent he has rigged up in a fig tree. Sometimes he kills them and uses their wings to decorate a photo of his beautiful mother, Rose, who hanged herself when he was thirteen. Continue reading

Charity Matters Jun/Jul 2018 ISSUE 79

HEARTLESS FRAUD Charitable donations and public money has been sponged up by fraudsters claiming to have been involved in the Greenfell Tower tragedy, to get …

NO ONE TO TURN TO A report for Save The Children into the abuse of children by charity aid workers, No One To Turn To, contains horrific accounts of instances …

NICE WORK Fundraising companies are doing rather well out of charities that employ them and their teams of “chuggers” (charity muggers). A report last month in the …

DEATH OF RSPCA SAVIOUR An RSPCA inspector died trying to save 40 gannets that had been trapped on a rock at Porthchapel Beach, Cornwall during Storm Imogen in …

BIAS COULD LOSE CHARITY STATUS The Legatum Institute, a charity think tank, has been warned by the Charity Commission that it could lose its charitable status if …

KNOW YOUR KNOTWEED Conservation charity Plantlife has issued some information about Japanese knotweed following research which showed that less than 20% of …

NO SKINNY-DIPPING The National Trust has issued warnings based on Health and Safety to members of the public seen swimming naked in its lakes at Woodchester …

HEARTLESS FRAUD

Charitable donations and public money has been sponged up by fraudsters claiming to have been involved in the Greenfell Tower tragedy, to get handouts and stays in hotels.

One fraudster, Joyce Msokeri, 47, from Zimbabwe was jailed for four and a half years in April for convincing charity workers she had lost her husband in the fire and faking trauma to swindle £19,000 and claim a room in a Hilton hotel. Another was Vietnamese illegal immigrant Anh Nhu Nguyen, 57 who was comforted by Prince Charles as he falsely claimed he had lost his wife and son to swindle £11,270. However he was a serial fraudster with 17 aliases and was jailed for 21 months in February.

Also jailed, for 18 months in early June was business student Mohammad Gamoota, 31, who falsely claimed to be the son of a victim to swindle £7,000 and a free stay in a hotel. And two fraudsters, Elaine Douglas, 51, and Tommy Brooks, 52, who both came to the UK from Jamaica illegally 16 years ago face jail after swindling £120,000 in benefits by claiming they lived in Greenfell Tower. They also enjoyed a spend of more than £20,000 on pre-paid credit cards and eight months in a four star hotel costing £400 a night, where they complained about the free food they were given.

Police say that they have arrested another nine individuals, eight men and a woman, suspected of the heartless fraud.