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Harvey Weinstein jailed for 23 years in rape trial

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Harvey Weinstein arrives at a Manhattan court house for the second day of his trial on January 23, 2020Image copyright
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Weinstein (pictured in January during his trial) was taken to hospital after being found guilty last month

Disgraced film producer Harvey Weinstein has been sentenced to 23 years in prison for rape and sexual assault.

He was found guilty in a trial in New York last month, a dramatic fall from grace for one of Hollywood’s most powerful figures.

The 67-year-old appeared in court on Wednesday in a wheelchair.

His lawyers had appealed for leniency, saying even the minimum sentence of five years could be a “life sentence”.

But prosecutors argued Weinstein should be given the maximum possible sentence given his “lifetime of abuse” towards women and “lack of remorse” for his actions.

Weinstein addressed the court for the first time on Wednesday, saying he had “deep remorse” but described him and other men as “totally confused” by events in comments seen as critical to the #MeToo movement.

Dozens of women have come forward with allegations of sexual misconduct, including rape, against Weinstein since October 2017.

He has consistently denied wrongdoing and his lawyers have vowed to appeal against his conviction.

These were the first charges to make it to trial. Weinstein still faces further criminal charges, for rape and sexual assault, in Los Angeles, where officials have started extradition proceedings.

What was he convicted of?

Weinstein was found guilty of committing a first-degree criminal sexual act against production assistant Miriam Haley in 2006 and of the third-degree rape of aspiring actress Jessica Mann in 2013.

New York jurors acquitted him of the most serious charges, of predatory sexual assault, which could have seen him given an even longer jail term.

All six women who testified against him during his trial sat together on Wednesday as he was sentenced and told to register as a sex offender.

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Media captionMiriam Haley comments on Weinstein’s guilty verdict

The two women he was convicted of assaulting both read out victim impact statements in court.

“It scarred me deeply, mentally and emotionally,” Ms Haley, who is also known as Mimi Haleyi, said of the assault where Weinstein forced oral sex on her. “What he did not only stripped me of my dignity as a human being and a woman, but it crushed my confidence.”

Ms Mann criticised Weinstein’s lawyers for trying to “twist the truth” during the trial, and said she hoped for a future where “we no longer have to worry about monsters hiding in our closet”.

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr thanked the court for the tough sentence, saying it put “predators and abusive partners” elsewhere in society “on notice”.

“Harvey Weinstein deployed nothing less than an army of spies to keep them silent. But they refused to be silent, and they were heard,” he said of the women who testified. “Their words took down a predator and put him behind bars, and gave hope to survivors of sexual violence all across the world.”

What has the reaction been?

“Harvey Weinstein’s legacy will always be that he’s a convicted rapist,” the group Silence Breakers, which speaks out against sexual assault and harassment and includes Weinstein accusers, said in a statement.

“He is going to jail – but no amount of jail time will repair the lives he ruined, the careers he destroyed, or the damage he has caused.”

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A sketch of Weinstein during his sentencing

Speaking outside court, Gloria Allred, who represents three of the accusers, held up a sign with the words: “This is what justice looks like.”

“If you are a sexual predator and you are confused, all you have to do is remember this – 20 plus three years,” she said.

“For all those who are still preying on women, who want to engage in the high risk-taking of harming women and thinking you’ll get away with it, that gamble is likely not to pay off for you anymore,” she added.

“And if you’re a high-profile figure, don’t expect anything but equal justice.”

The US Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) praised the significant prison term Weinstein was given.

“This case – and the national reckoning about the pervasiveness of sexual violence it sparked – will have a lasting legacy,” president Scott Berkowitz said in a statement.

“We hope that survivors will feel encouraged to come forward, knowing that it can truly make a difference in bringing perpetrators to justice.”

How did we get here?

  • Allegations against Weinstein began to emerge in October 2017, when the New York Times first reported incidents dating back decades
  • Weinstein issued an apology acknowledging he had “caused a lot of pain”, but disputed the allegations
  • As dozens more accusations emerged, Weinstein was sacked by the board of his company and all but banished from Hollywood
  • A criminal investigation was launched in New York in late 2017, but Weinstein was not charged until May 2018 when he turned himself in to police.

How the Harvey Weinstein scandal unfolded



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Coronavirus: Ofcom ‘assesses’ David Icke TV interview

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David Icke on London Live

The UK’s media watchdog is looking into a TV network’s broadcast of an interview with conspiracy theorist David Icke about coronavirus.

Ofcom said it was “assessing this programme as a priority”, following London Live’s screening of the programme on Wednesday evening.

It follows YouTube’s introduction of stricter misinformation rules after a later interview with Mr Icke by the same team was streamed on its platform.

The government has expressed concern.

‘Inaccurate claims’

“Clearly that station is regulated by Ofcom. And I would be expecting Ofcom to take appropriate action,” said Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

“Clearly they are independent but I will be in touch with them to understand what action they are taking in respect to that.”

A tweet by London Live to promote the programme – produced by an independent company that also offers training services – prompted a backlash ahead of the broadcast.

But Ofcom is able to intervene only after a programme has been broadcast.

And it has now received 19 complaints about the programme from the public.

Last week, the watchdog sanctioned a community radio network for having broadcast a discussion that “contained potentially harmful views about coronavirus”.

“During the current pandemic, it’s important that potentially misleading information about the coronavirus is not broadcast on radio or TV,” Ofcom said at the time.

“This includes inaccurate claims about potential causes, symptoms, and treatments for the virus.”

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London Live screened a warning notice several times during the programme

On Tuesday, YouTube deleted copies of a later interview with Mr Icke – embedded into the production company’s site and hosted on YouTube’s platform – and announced it would wipe any other videos that also falsely linked Covid-19 to 5G mobile networks.

The production company, however, has since reuploaded this interview to another US-based service – Vimeo – to allow it to continue to be seen.

Mr Icke does not mention 5G by name in the interview broadcast by London Live, although at one point he does refer to an “electro-magnetic technologically generated soup of radiation toxicity”, which he claims has damaged old people’s immune systems. Scientists have previously rubbished suggestions mobile networks cause such harm.

London Live is owned by the Russian businessman Evgeny Lebedev, who also owns the Evening Standard and Independent newspapers.

It screened a notice during advert breaks, saying the views expressed in the programme were “not necessarily those” of the network and displayed the address of the government’s Covid-19 website.

BBC News has asked the network for comment.



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Paul Lambert: Ex-BBC producer who was ‘fixture of politics’ dies

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Paul Lambert

A former BBC producer described as a central character at Westminster and master of interviewing politicians on the street has died aged 61.

Paul Lambert, affectionately known as “Gobby”, was often heard on TV shouting questions at ministers.

He left the BBC in 2014 to become communications director of UKIP.

His daughter Danni said on Facebook the family were “devastated”. BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg described Mr Lambert as a “fixture of politics”.

Writing on Twitter, she added he was a “friend of everyone for so long – such sad, sad news”.

‘Master of the doorstep’

Based on Downing Street, Mr Lambert’s voice was heard on countless news reports putting ministers on the spot as they went about their business.

The nickname “Gobby” was a reference to Mr Lambert’s booming voice, which he used to project awkward questions towards politicians as they entered cars or walked down the street, known in broadcasting as a “doorstep”.

“The point really is to fill in the pieces of the TV bulletin piece that you haven’t got pictures to fill in. You know someone isn’t going to say anything, you just need something to happen,” Mr Lambert explained in 2013.

Others paying tribute on Twitter included political journalist Michael Crick, who said Mr Lambert was a “master of the political doorstep”.

Trade Minister Conor Burns said: “I remember the first time he shouted questions at me as I walked into Parliament. Went inside with a feeling I’d properly arrived.”

Former leader of UKIP Nigel Farage said Mr Lambert was a “unique man and great fun to work with”.

Craig Oliver, a former editor of flagship BBC News bulletins and ex-director of communications at No 10, said: “The start of a thousand TV news reports was Gobby shouting, ‘Are you going to resign?'”

Robert Peston, ITV’s political editor, said Mr Lambert was a “gent of the old school” who had “the best nose for a story”, while Sky News presenter Sophy Ridge described him as a “legend”.

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Media captionNewsnight compiled clips of Mr Lambert’s work when he left the BBC in 2014

BBC health editor Hugh Pym said Mr Lambert “always went the extra mile and asked the right question”, and BBC news presenter Reeta Chakrabarti said he was “such a central character in our Westminster newsroom for years… and a thoroughly nice man”.

Mr Lambert – who started his working career as an electrician – left the BBC ahead of the 2015 general election to lead communications for the UK Independence Party.



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Disney Plus racks up 50m subscribers in five months

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Ming-Na Wen arrives for the premiere of Disney+'s The MandalorianImage copyright
Albert L. Ortega

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The Mandalorian featuring Ming-Na Wen is a Disney+ offering

Disney’s new video streaming service has hit more than 50 million subscribers since its launch five months ago.

When Disney Plus last announced viewing figures in February it had reached 26.5 million subscribers.

Since then, this has almost doubled as more people are online and stuck at home due to virus clampdowns.

Disney Plus, which rivals Netflix and Amazon Prime, rolled out to the UK and other parts of Europe last month.

All three streaming platforms are enjoying a huge boost in viewing figures as cinemas remain closed and people are forced to stay indoors.

Disney Plus originally set a target of 60 million to 90 million subscribers by the end of fiscal 2024, when it was first launched in the US in November.

“We’re truly humbled that Disney Plus is resonating with millions around the globe,” said Kevin Mayer, a Disney spokesman.

Its subscription figures were given a boost by its audience in India, where Disney Plus was launched last week. Disney reported eight million new subscribers in India.

After the announcement on Wednesday evening, shares in Disney jumped 7% on Wall Street. The entertainment group has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, having to close its theme parks across the globe.

It has also had to stop production on new content and delay releases for potential blockbusters like Mulan and Black Widow.

Disney Plus is still behind both Netflix and Amazon Prime Video in terms of global subscriptions. Netflix added almost nine million net global subscribers during the fourth quarter of 2019. At the end of last year, it had over 167 million paying subscribers globally. Amazon now has more than 150 million viewers.

But Disney Plus, which includes films and TV shows from Disney, Pixar, Star Wars and National Geographic, has grown much faster than its rivals.

“What Disney Plus has achieved in five months took Netflix seven years,” said Chris Fenton, a movie industry analyst. “Disney Plus possesses all the ammunition needed to surpass Netflix, and it also has the potential bazooka of China. If any American streaming service can gain access to the 1.4 billion people of China, it’s Disney Plus.”



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