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In the Press

  • A new national debate is needed to address the scale of social isolation and loneliness affecting growing numbers of disabled people and older people who risk being increasingly ‘locked out’ as modern Britain changes, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) will say today.
    In a landmark speech to mark the UN International Day of Persons with Disabilities and 20th anniversary of the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA), EHRC Commissioner and nine-time Paralympic gold medallist Lord Holmes is to call for national summits in England, Wales and Scotland with politicians, service providers, leaders in civic society and captains of industry.
    He will say more must be done to stop Britain’s growing number of disabled and older people being left behind and unable to participate in society and the economy, as technology and other societal trends transform Britain. And he will draw attention to how social exclusion and loneliness can be as damaging to health as smoking, excess alcohol consumption and obesity.
    Underpinned by the largest ever review of equality and human rights in Britain (Is Britain Fairer?), he will highlight trends in 10 areas as ‘roadblocks to opportunity’ – including the digital economy, transport infrastructure, public participation, employment and enjoyment of cultural activities.
  • New draft guidelines on abortion in the north say fatal foetal abnormality in itself is not grounds for lawful termination.
    The BBC reported on Thursday that the guidelines, drawn up by health minister Simon Hamilton, make it clear that abortions are only lawful if there is a serious risk to a woman's life or her mental or physical health.
    They say that fatal foetal abnormality in itself is not grounds for an abortion. And they do not refer to pregnancies resulting from rape or incest.
    Earlier this week, the Belfast High Court ruled that abortion legislation in the north is in breach of human rights law.
    Following a case taken by the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, the judge said grounds for abortion should be extended to include cases of fatal foetal abnormality and cases where pregnancies had occurred as a result of sexual crime, including rape or incest.
  • A teaching assistant at a Birmingham school at the centre of the Trojan Horse plot has claimed someone forged her resignation letter to stop her blowing the whistle on the conspiracy.
    Yasmin Akhtar told an employment tribunal that someone connected to Adderley Primary School in Saltley forged her resignation letter and also that of three other teaching assistants.
    She said they did it to stop the foursome telling Birmingham City Council about the plot to introduce hardline Islamic teaching at Adderley and other schools.
    Ms Akhtar, along with Rehena Khanom, Shahnaz Bibi and Hilary Owens, have taken the governors of Adderley to an employment tribunal claiming unfair dismissal in 2012 after their resignation letters were forged.
  • Minister of State for Justice Aodhán Ó Riordáin has said legislation passed by the Dáil removes the “chilling effect” of discrimination against people working in religious-run State institutions.
  • It's been a tumultuous year for Rowan County clerk Kim Davis. Could her trials and tribulations land her the coveted cover of TIME Magazine's Person of the Year for 2015?
    Readers have until 11:59 p.m. Friday to cast their vote on TIME's website. The winner of the reader poll will be announced Monday, Dec. 7. TIME’s editors will choose the Person of the Year and announce the winner on Dec. 9.
  • Two couples Grainne Close and Shannon Sickles and Chris and Henry Flanagan-Kanem, have been granted permission to judicially review the Stormont Assembly's repeated refusal to legislate for same sex marriage.
    They were, respectively, the first and second couples in the UK to enter into a civil partnership after Northern Ireland became the first part of the UK to make that option available in December 2005.
    The prominent case will be heard before Mr Justice Treacy at Belfast High Court.
  • A mental health champion will be appointed by every school in a £3 million pilot programme intended to identify and treat children suffering from depression, anxiety or other problems.
    More than 250 schools have agreed to join the trial and will select a teacher, teaching assistant or school nurse as a mental health “point of contact”. That person will forge a relationship with a counterpart in their local NHS children’s mental health service. The pair will be trained to work together to streamline the process of getting the correct treatment for children.
    Schools are in a strong position to identify children with mental health problems because teachers see pupils every day and can observe changes in how they behave in the class. School leaders complain, however, that once they have identified a child with a problem, they are often unable to get help.
  • The government’s plan to scrap the Human Rights Act has been delayed again due to “complex” proposals under which the supreme court might develop into a UK constitutional court.
    Michael Gove confirmed that the long-anticipated bill of rights consultation had been put back until 2016 when he appeared before the House of Lords constitution committee.
    “My original intention was to publish the [bill of rights] consultation before Christmas,” the justice secretary told peers. “It has now been put back. I expect it will be produced in the new year.”
    The delay, Gove indicated, was due to the possibility of “complex” constitutional changes involving the UK’s highest court which the prime minister had raised and which “requires serious thought”. 
    The new issue, the justice secretary explained, was “whether or not we should use the British bill of rights to create a constitutional longstop, similar to Germany’s constitutional court, and whether the supreme court should be that body”.
  • A heavily pregnant young woman was brutally stamped and kicked on the ground by her ex-boyfriend who was intent on killing their unborn baby boy, a court has heard.
    Malorie Bantala, 22, a Marks & Spencer shop assistant, refused Kevin Wilson’s pleas to have an abortion, so on the evening of 15 June he allegedly took matters into his own hands and recruited a teenager to help.
    Disguised in motorcycle helmets, the pair pounced on Bantala outside her home in Peckham, south London, deliberately targeting her stomach in a “cowardly and callous attack”, jurors were told.
  • Radical Muslim students made death threats while interrupting a lecture on blasphemy by a prominent human rights activist, it was claimed today.
    Maryam Namazie, who fled Iran's repressive regime and now campaigns against Islamic extremism, was speaking at the Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society of Goldsmiths in London.
    However, the event on Monday night was disrupted by students from the university's Islamic Society - which claimed that it would 'violate their safe space' because of Ms Namazie's outspoken views.

    One student switched off the projector after the speaker showed a cartoon of Muhammad, while a member of the audience claimed that an activist pointed his fingers at his head in the shape of a gun and said 'boom' in a bid to intimidate him.
    The Islamic Society spoke out in advance of the talk - titled 'Apostasy, blasphemy and free expression in the age of ISIS' - insisting Ms Namazie should not be allowed to speak because of her 'bigoted views'.


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