Tag: lockdown

Liverpool City Region to go into lockdown after talks with government

(Reuters) – Liverpool City Region will go into the strictest “third tier” of new anti-coronavirus restrictions to be announced imminently by Britain, its leaders said late on Sunday after talks with the British government.

The government has decided that further measures and closures will apply to Liverpool City Region, its leaders, including Mayor Steve Rotheram, said in a joint statement.

“Pubs and bars; betting shops, casinos and adult gaming centres and gyms will close,” the statement added.

The leaders said the furlough scheme announced recently by Finance Minister Rishi Sunak was inadequate.

“Businesses in the region especially those in the hospitality sector and those serving it will be damaged and many will suffer long term damage or close for good”, they said.

The statement added that the leaders have agreed with the government to remain in dialogue to establish a “mutually agreeable” financial support package to mitigate the impact of new “Tier 3” restrictions.

“We also require clear definition of the exit strategy from Tier 3”, the statement said.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will set out new measures to try to contain a growing coronavirus crisis on Monday, outlining three new alert levels to better coordinate the government’s under-fire response.

Northern England has been particularly hard hit by a new surge in coronavirus cases that has forced local lockdowns.

In their statement, Liverpool City Region leaders acknowledged the government’s offer on new local arrangements and funding support for a coronavirus test-and-trace system.

The Sunday Times newspaper had reported earlier that mayors in the UK will be given more control over the test-and-trace system as the national government attempts to secure their backing for tough new lockdown rules.

(Reporting by Kanishka Singh; Editing by Jacqueline Wong and Michael Perry)

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Three-tier lockdown in England could last until ‘after Christmas’

Watch: Three-tier lockdown to last until ‘after Christmas’

England’s incoming three-tier lockdown could last until after Christmas, a government minister has said.

Prime minister Boris Johnson is set to announce the new coronavirus restrictions for England on Monday.

He will give a speech to MPs in the House of Commons later this afternoon before addressing the nation about the changes this evening, amid questions over whether the plan can drive down infections.

On Monday, culture secretary Oliver Dowden warned the new restrictions may be needed until into the new year.

“If those measures are successful we hope to be able to take areas out of those high levels of restrictions,” he told Sky News.

Culture secretary Oliver Dowden says the new three-tier lockdown system could remain in place until into 2021. (Sky News)
Culture secretary Oliver Dowden says the new three-tier lockdown system could remain in place until into 2021. (Sky News)

“The purpose of doing this is to ensure we get the virus under control so by the time that we get through to after Christmas we are in that position where it is under control.

“Indeed, I hope it will be sooner than that.”

Under the new plans, areas of England are expected to be categorised as medium, high or very high risk, which will inform the level of intervention required.

The new COVID-19 restrictions are expected to hit areas of the North of England, where infection rates are high, particularly hard.

Tier one areas would continue with ongoing restrictions such as the “rule of six” and the 10pm curfew on pubs, bars and restaurants.

Tier two could mean a ban on households mixing indoors, while tier three is expected to result in the closure of pubs, bars, casinos and gyms, as well as a ban on non-essential travel.

In a separate interview on Monday with BBC Breakfast, Dowden said the prime minister would announce the “full detail” of the plan, adding: “The proper way to do this is to put all the information out there at once.”

However, he revealed the “basic principle is that the country would be split into the three” tiers, adding that “the higher the levels of infection” an area had, “the higher the level of the category”.

He added: “The point of doing this now is to ensure we get the disease under control.”

He said areas under the tightest new restrictions would only be able to exit from them after “getting the infection under control”.

In an interview with BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Dowden said local leaders in areas that are in the very high risk tier would be able to impose their own “appropriate restrictions”.

A worker spray cleans the Beatles statue in Liverpool. New coronavirus restrictions in Liverpool, Warrington, Hartlepool and Middlesbrough will come into force on Saturday morning at one minute past midnight, Downing Street has said.
Liverpool could be one of the areas most affected by the government’s imminent three-tier lockdown system. (PA)

He said there is a “higher risk” of contracting COVID-19 associated with hospitality venues.

Dowden said MPs would be given the opportunity to vote on the three-tier plan on Tuesday.

Steve Rotherham, metro mayor of Liverpool, where coronavirus infection rates are among the highest in England, told Today the new measures “are likely to

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A declaration of our Covid lockdown rights for society as a whole

Gupta and her co-authors boast decades at the pinnacle of global science. Imposing lockdown measures across all age groups is having terrible health implications, they say – not least as the NHS has significantly restricted non-Covid treatments. We’re seeing “worsening cardiovascular disease outcomes, fewer cancer screenings and deteriorating mental health – leading to greater excess mortality in years to come”, the GDB says. And the impact on school children and students is “a grave injustice”.

Overall, it is the “the working class and younger members of society carrying the heaviest burden”, thunders the declaration, pointing to both the economic and health implications of society-wide lockdown. “Keeping these measures in place until a vaccine is available will cause irreparable damage,” the GBD says, “with the underprivileged disproportionately harmed.”

The declaration’s concept of “focused protection” suggests looking after the vulnerable by using care home staff who are already immune, delivering groceries to the elderly so they needn’t go shopping and families meeting older relatives outdoors instead of inside. “People who are more at risk may participate if they wish,” says the GBD, “while society as a whole enjoys the protection conferred upon the vulnerable by those who have built up herd immunity.”

So while the elderly and others shield if they want to, helped by their families, friends and the rest of society, the rest of us carry on. “Those who are not vulnerable should immediately be allowed to resume life as normal,” says the declaration. “Schools and universities should open for in-person tuition… and young low-risk adults should work normally, rather than from home.” Restaurants and other businesses should open, the GBD argues, with the arts, music, sport and other cultural activities resuming too.

All this, of course, is anathema to a political and medical establishment that has backed non-discriminate lockdown – and is now tightening restrictions even more. While Downing Street counters the scientific basis of the GBD, others go for straight character assassination.

The GBD is “a libertarian agenda packaged as science… a manifesto for selfishness,” says Gupta’s Oxford colleague Professor Trisha Greenhalgh. NHS Chief Executive Sir Simon Stevens says, disgracefully, that focusing on voluntary shielding among the over-65s amounts to “age-based apartheid” – comparing the motives of distinguished scientists with an immoral, repressive regime of racial subjugation.

As the insults fly, more and more scientists, examining the actual data on Covid cases, hospitalisations and deaths, are backing the GBD or similar strategies. Public opinion is also turning.

“I’m not a natural Telegraph reader, but I’ve been surprised by many of the people I’ve agreed with during this covid crisis”, writes Dan, emailing us on [email protected] “Sunetra Gupta’s calm, measured manner has been admirable as she’s been vilified by fellow academics and media.”

Join us on our metaphorical capsule of common sense, by listening to the latest Planet Normal podcast, which comes out every Thursday. It’s free – at www.telegraph.co.uk/planetnormal or via iTunes, Spotify or wherever else you get your podcasts.

 

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Liverpool leaders say city to go into lockdown after talks with government

FILE PHOTO: People stand in a queue to get tested for COVID-19 at a walk-through centre amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Liverpool Britain, October 6, 2020. REUTERS/Phil Noble/File Photo

(Reuters) – The city of Liverpool will go into the strictest “third tier” of new anti-coronavirus restrictions to be announced imminently by Britain, its leaders said late on Sunday after talks with the British government.

The government has decided that further measures and closures will apply to Liverpool, the city’s leaders, including Mayor Steve Rotheram, said in a joint statement.

“Pubs and bars; betting shops, casinos and adult gaming centres and gyms will close,” the statement added bit.ly/3iRyMrG.

Liverpool’s leaders said the furlough scheme announced recently by Finance Minister Rishi Sunak was inadequate.

“Businesses in the region especially those in the hospitality sector and those serving it will be damaged and many will suffer long term damage or close for good”, they said.

The statement added that the city’s leaders have agreed with the government to remain in dialogue to establish a “mutually agreeable” financial support package to mitigate the impact of new “Tier 3” restrictions.

“We also require clear definition of the exit strategy from Tier 3”, the statement said.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will set out new measures to try to contain a growing coronavirus crisis on Monday, outlining three new alert levels to better coordinate the government’s under-fire response.

Northern England has been particularly hard hit by a new surge in coronavirus cases that has forced local lockdowns.

Reporting by Kanishka Singh; Editing by Jacqueline Wong and Michael Perry

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Lockdown Enthusiasts’ Risk Aversion Is Producing a More Unequal Society

Now that Donald Trump exited from Walter Reed Hospital and the vice presidential debate aired, let’s turn to an apolitical analyst to understand what’s happening. Vaclav Smil, 76, native of communist Czechoslovakia and former University of Manitoba professor for four decades, has written 39 books on energy, technology and demography. “Nobody,” says Bill Gates, who has read every book, “sees the big picture with as wide an aperture as Vaclav Smil.”

What Smil sees now, he writes in a characteristically terse IEEE Spectrum essay, he finds puzzling. The COVID-19 death rate per million is about one-fifth that of the 1957-58 Asian flu and one-third that of the 1968-70 Hong Kong flu. Yet these earlier pandemics had only “evanescent economic consequences” and did not “leave any deep, traumatic traces in memories” of the 350 million people who, like Smil (and me), were 10 or older during both. “Countries did not resort to any mass-scale economic lockdowns, enforce any long-lasting school closures, ban sports events, or cut flight schedules deeply,” Smil writes.

Why not? “Was it because we had no fear-reinforcing 24/7 cable news, no Twitter, and no incessant and instant case-and-death tickers on all our electronic screens?” asks the non-cellphone owner Smil. “Or is it we ourselves who have changed, by valuing recurrent but infrequent risks differently?”

Some of both is my tentative answer. As I’ve written before, Americans’ child-rearing practices, as Jonathan Haidt and Greg Lukianoff have documented, are increasingly risk-averse. But not entirely consistently: Kids are kept in car seats till age 9 and then encouraged to ride bicycles in heavy traffic a few years later.

And some Americans are more risk-averse than others. Polls show that political liberals are more likely than political conservatives to wear masks and support extended lockdowns (except for “mostly peaceful” demonstrations against police).

Partisan politics and personal distaste for President Donald Trump play a role. As ProPublica’s Alec MacGillis documented in a searing New Yorker article, teachers-union members didn’t adamantly oppose reopening schools until Trump called for it. A Trump tweet saying that the sun rises in the east would, it seems, move many Americans to head out to the Pacific coast and wait for it to rise there.

But one-dimensional risk aversion has produced extended lockdowns with significant public health costs: reduced cancer and cardiac screenings, fewer childhood vaccinations, undue skepticism toward any COVID vaccine. And it’s plainly damaging liberals’ own causes.

Thus, Democrats, unlike Republicans, have been refraining from door-to-door campaigning — until Oct. 1, when Democrats decided they needed the personal touch.

Similarly, Democratic pols encouraged their voters’ aversion to voting in person, until they realized that there would be many spoiled or undelivered ballots in states with voters and officials unfamiliar with postal voting.

Lockdowns, more stringent in Democratic states than Republican states, have produced higher unemployment and greater drops in state revenues. Keeping unionized public schools closed is driving parents to private schools, home schooling and improvised pods.

As New York Times columnist Ross Douthat notes, schools are

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Lockdown backers’ risk aversion is producing a more unequal society | American Enterprise Institute

In between Donald Trump’s exit from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and the vice-presidential debate, let’s turn to an apolitical analyst to understand what’s happening. Vaclav Smil, 76, native of communist Czechoslovakia, University of Manitoba professor for four decades, has written 39 books on energy, technology, and demography. “Nobody,” says Bill Gates, who has read every one, “sees the big picture with as wide an aperture as Vaclav Smil.”

What he sees now, he writes in a characteristically terse IEEE Spectrum essay, he finds puzzling. The COVID-19 death rate per million is about one-fifth that of the 1957-58 Asian flu and one-third of the 1968-70 Hong Kong flu. Yet these earlier pandemics had only “evanescent economic consequences” and did not “leave any deep traumatic traces in memories” of the 350 million people who, like Smil (and me), were 10 or older during both. “Countries did not resort to any mass-scale economic lockdowns, enforce any long-lasting school closures, ban sports events or cut flight schedules deeply.”

Why not? “Was it because we had no fear-reinforcing 24/7 cable news, no Twitter and no incessant and instant case-and-death tickers on all our electronic screens?” asks the non-cellphone-owner Smil. “Or is it we ourselves who have changed, by valuing recurrent but infrequent risks differently?”

Some of both is my tentative answer. As I’ve written about previously, Americans’ child-rearing practices are increasingly risk-averse. But this is not entirely consistent. Kids are kept in car seats till age 9, then encouraged to ride bicycles in heavy traffic a few years later. And some Americans are more risk-averse than others. Polls show that political liberals are more likely than political conservatives to wear masks and support extended lockdowns (except for “mostly peaceful” demonstrations against police).

Partisan politics and personal distaste for Donald Trump plays a role. As ProPublica’s Alec MacGillis documented in a searing New Yorker article, teacher union members didn’t adamantly oppose reopening schools until Donald Trump called for it. A Trump tweet that the sun rises in the east would, it seems, move many Americans to head out to the Pacific coast and wait for it to rise there.

But one-dimensional risk-aversion has produced extended lockdowns with significant public health costs: reduced cancer and cardiac screening, fewer childhood vaccinations, undue skepticism toward any COVID vaccine. And it’s plainly damaging liberals’ own causes.

Thus Democrats, unlike Republicans, have been refraining from door-to-door campaigning — until Oct. 1, when Democrats decided they needed the personal touch. Similarly, Democratic pols encouraged their voters’ aversion to voting in person, until they realized that there would be many spoiled or undelivered ballots in states with voters and officials unfamiliar with postal voting.

Lockdowns, more stringent in Democratic than Republican states, have produced higher unemployment and greater drops in state revenues. Keeping unionized public schools closed is driving parents to private schools, homeschooling, and improvised pods.

As New York Times columnist Ross Douthat notes, public schools are now open for half of white pupils but only one-quarter of blacks and

Continue reading

Lockdown backers’ risk aversion is producing a more unequal society

In between Donald Trump’s exit from Walter Reed Hospital and the vice-presidential debate, let’s turn to an apolitical analyst to understand what’s happening. Vaclav Smil, 76, native of in Communist Czechoslovakia, University of Manitoba professor for four decades, has written 39 books on energy, technology and demography. “Nobody,” says Bill Gates, who has read every one, “sees the big picture with as wide an aperture as Vaclav Smil.”

What he sees now, he writes in a characteristically terse IEEE Spectrum essay, he finds puzzling. The COVID-19 death rate per million is about one-fifth that of the 1957-58 Asian flu and one-third of the 1968-70 Hong Kong flu. Yet these earlier pandemics had only “evanescent economic consequences” and did not “leave any deep traumatic traces in memories” of the 350 million people who, like Smil (and me), were 10 or older during both. “Countries did not resort to any mass-scale economic lockdowns, enforce any long-lasting school closures, ban sports events or cut flight schedules deeply.”

Why not? “Was it because we had no fear-reinforcing 24/7 cable news, no Twitter and no incessant and instant case-and-death tickers on all our electronic screens?” asks the non-cellphone-owner Smil. “Or is it we ourselves who have changed, by valuing recurrent but infrequent risks differently?”

Some of both is my tentative answer. As I’ve written about previously, Americans’ child-rearing practices are increasingly risk-averse. But this is not entirely consistent. Kids are kept in car seats till age 9, then encouraged to ride bicycles in heavy traffic a few years later. And some Americans are more risk-averse than others. Polls show that political liberals are more likely than political conservatives to wear masks and support extended lockdowns (except for “mostly peaceful” demonstrations against police).

Partisan politics and personal distaste for Donald Trump plays a role. As ProPublica’s Alec MacGillis documented in a searing New Yorker article, teacher union members didn’t adamantly oppose reopening schools until Donald Trump called for it. A Trump tweet that the sun rises in the east would, it seems, move many Americans to head out to the Pacific coast and wait for it to rise there.

But one-dimensional risk-aversion has produced extended lockdowns with significant public health costs: reduced cancer and cardiac screening, fewer childhood vaccinations, undue skepticism toward any COVID vaccine. And it’s plainly damaging liberals’ own causses.

Thus Democrats, unlike Republicans, have been refraining from door-to-door campaigning — until October 1, when Democrats decided they needed the personal touch. Similarly, Democratic pols encouraged their voters’ aversion to voting in person, until they realized that there would be many spoiled or undelivered ballots in states with voters and officials unfamiliar with postal voting.

Lockdowns, more stringent in Democratic than Republican states, have produced higher unemployment and greater drops in state revenues. Keeping unionized public schools closed is driving parents to private schools, home schooling and improvised pods.

As New York Times columnist Ross Douthat notes, public schools are now open for half of white pupils but only one-quarter of blacks and Hispanics.

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Irish government clashes with scientists over national lockdown

Ireland’s government has clashed with top scientific advisers after rejecting their call for a new national lockdown to tackle surging coronavirus infections. 

The request on Sunday night to place the entire country under the most severe restrictions came only three days after public health officials said there was no need for new national measures. 

The weekend move blindsided Micheál Martin’s government, provoking an angry response from ministers. Another comprehensive lockdown would shut large parts of an economy that is still struggling after the spring shutdown in which 600,000 jobs were lost.

After fraught talks with health officials and an emergency cabinet meeting, the prime minister gave a televised speech on Monday night to impose new hospitality sector restrictions that stopped well short of a national lockdown. Police overtime has also been increased to step up enforcement of the current restrictions.

The decision to defy health advice is the first big divergence between the government and health officials since the pandemic began in March. 

“The potential implications of such a move are severe and very different from those we faced earlier this year. It could involve the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs, with these concentrated in families and communities which are already facing difficulties,” said Mr Martin. 

But it was Leo Varadkar, deputy premier, who laid bare the acute tension between the government and the national public health emergency team, telling a TV interviewer that the demand to shut the economy was not “thought through” and came without consultation.

“I think what happened the last couple of days wasn’t good for anyone . . . and really wasn’t good for the Irish people, many of whom were worried sick today wondering whether they had a job tomorrow, wondering whether they were shuttering their business for the last time,” said Mr Varadkar. 

Leo Varadkar, Ireland’s deputy premier, speaking to the media in March
Leo Varadkar, deputy premier, said that the demand to shut the economy was not ‘thought through’ and came without consultation © Aiden Crawley/EPA-EFE

He accused top health officials of not grasping the implications of the advice they were giving.

“None of them would have to tell somebody that they were losing their job and none of them would have to shutter a business for the last time. And I’m not talking about the economy, I’m talking about something that could have happened to half a million human beings tomorrow.” 

Eoin O’Malley, associate professor of politics at Dublin City University, said it would not have been politically sustainable for the government to close the economy, but added that the rise in infection rates presented risks.

“I think there would have been hell to pay for it. That said, they are taking a huge risk in rejecting their advice because if there is a big escalation in deaths and hospitalisations they will no longer have any cover for their decisions,” he said.

“The [health emergency team] is very narrowly focused and probably the government is trying to think more broadly about society and the economy and the other impacts.” 

In

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Irish government rejects return to full coronavirus lockdown

The Irish government has rejected a recommendation to return the country to a full lockdown in the first clash with health chiefs since the Covid outbreak began.



Photograph: Paul Faith/AFP/Getty Images


© Provided by The Guardian
Photograph: Paul Faith/AFP/Getty Images

The surprise recommendation by the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) late on Sunday to impose the highest of five levels of restrictions possible with immediate effect had led to sharp criticism from some of the country’s most senior politicians, including the former taoiseach Leo Varadkar.

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While the rising spread of the virus is causing alarm and has led to partial lockdowns in several counties, most of the country is still on level 2 restrictions, involving fewer limits to social and economic activity.

Ministers faced opposition from politicians and business to what would have amounted to Europe’s first major second-wave national lockdown.

On Monday night, the cabinet opted to move the country to level 3 from midnight on Tuesday. This involves a ban on visits to houses by more than one other household and no more than six people, restrictions to restaurants and pubs, most of which remain open, no outdoor events, no matches or events unless elite sports and weddings restricted to 25 people.



a man and a woman sitting on a bench: A waiter serves customers at a pub in Dublin last month.


© Photograph: Paul Faith/AFP/Getty Images
A waiter serves customers at a pub in Dublin last month.

The taoiseach, Micheál Martin, said central to discussions about moving to level 5 was looking at the wider implications for the economy.

“What happens next is in our own hands,” Martin said in a televised address, saying some businesses may not be able to recover from a disproportionate reimposition of more severe restrictions. “It’s about protecting lives and livelihoods.”

Varadkar, who is now the deputy prime minister with responsibility for jobs, went further, telling RTÉ on Monday night that NPHET’s level 5 recommendation “hadn’t been thought through and there hadn’t been prior consultation”.

His was also critical of how NPHET has acted, saying “landing something on a Sunday night … without prior consultation” was not the right way to do things.

The decision will be debated in the Dáil on Tuesday and is expected to prompt clashes with the main opposition party, Sinn Féin, led by Mary Lou McDonald.

Varakdar said a move from level 2 to level 5 would have amounted to an “experiment” not tried elsewhere in Europe and that the body in charge of Ireland’s hospitals disagreed with the health chiefs’ capacity concerns.

The Irish Times said the decision had meant “the relationship between the government and NPHET has been fundamentally reset”.

As the fallout from the breakdown in the relationship with medical chiefs was beginning to hit, the government minister Thomas Byrne said on RTE radio on Tuesday morning that moving to level 5 would have created financial difficulties.

He said Varadkar has been “typically blunt” but he had “absolute confidence” in the chief medical officer, Tony Holohan.

The political editor of the Examiner said Varadkar had “not only thrown Dr Holohan under a bus but reversed

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Labour MP calls for second national lockdown

Labour councillor Claudia Webbe speaks during a leadership campaign rally in support of Jeremy Corbyn at Ruach City Church in Kilburn, north London. (PA)
Labour councillor Claudia Webbe speaks during a leadership campaign rally in support of Jeremy Corbyn at Ruach City Church in Kilburn, north London. (PA)

A Labour MP has called for another national lockdown as coronavirus rates rose dramatically after an IT glitch caused 16,000 cases to go unreported.

Claudia Webbe, who was suspended from the Labour party last week after she was accused of sexual harassment tweeted: “Govt has lost total control of #COVID19. A national lockdown is needed. Extend both the eviction ban for renters & furlough scheme. Protect jobs & introduce a #WealthTax.”

Party leader Sir Keir Starmer has maintained that a second national lockdown would be a “government failure”.

Starmer said in September that a second lockdown would take an “immense toll on people’s physical and mental health and on the economy”, and accused the government of losing control of the testing system.

On Sunday, it was revealed that nearly 16,000 cases of coronavirus went unreported in daily case figures between 25 September and 2 October due to an IT glitch, reportedly caused by an Excel spreadsheet reaching its maximum file size.

The error means efforts have been delayed to trace contacts of a person who tested positive.

Read more: Where did the missing 16,000 positive coronavirus tests come from?

On Monday, Labour accused the government of overseeing a “shambolic” system.

Leicester East MP Webbe, who back in June called on the government to introduce the first local lockdown, also called for an eviction ban and furlough scheme extension.

Watch: Starmer: Second national lockdown would be sign of government failure

The furlough scheme is due to end this month, to be replaced by the government’s new wage subsidy programme, the job support scheme, from 1 November.

Labour has demanded the government further extend the eviction ban to ensure people do not lose their homes as a result of the pandemic.

Read more: Rishi Sunak: ‘I don’t want to be prime minister’

Webbe was elected as a Labour MP in December’s general election after nearly 10 years as a councillor in Islington, north London. Earlier in her career, she had been an adviser to Ken Livingstone while he was mayor of London.

Last week Webbe was charged with harassing a woman after a file of evidence was passed to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) by the Metropolitan Police.

Diane Abbott and Claudia Webbe address protesters during a solidarity rally in Windrush Square, Brixton, south London, to show support for the Windrush generation in 2018. (PA)
Diane Abbott and Claudia Webbe address protesters during a solidarity rally in Windrush Square, Brixton, south London, to show support for the Windrush generation in 2018. (PA)

Webbe is due to appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on 11 November to face one count of harassment between 1 September, 2018, and 26 April, 2020.

Jenny Hopkins, from the CPS, said: 

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