Furious Jussie Smollett DENIES he PAID two Nigerian brothers $3,500 to attack him

Empire star Jussie Smollett has furiously denied paying two Nigerian brothers $3,500 to attack him and says he is ‘angered and devastated’ after investigators in Chicago claimed he orchestrated his own assault.    

Smollett’s attorneys, Todd S. Pugh and Victor P. Henderson, told Entertainment Weekly: ‘As a victim of a hate crime who has cooperated with the police investigation, Jussie Smollett is angered and devastated by recent reports that the perpetrators are individuals he is familiar with. 

‘He has now been further victimized by claims attributed to these alleged perpetrators that Jussie played a role in his own attack. Nothing is further from the truth and anyone claiming otherwise is lying.’

His lawyers now say that one of men was Smollett’s personal trainer for a music video.  They added: ‘One of these purported suspects was Jussie’s personal trainer who he hired to ready him physically for a music video. 

‘It is impossible to believe that this person could have played a role in the crime against Jussie or would falsely claim Jussie’s complicity.’ 

The stunning turn of events saw the two men involved in the alleged hoax now fully cooperating with law enforcement, CNN reported Saturday.

On January 29, two men ‘yelled out racial and homophobic slurs’ while attacking Smollett, the actor told police. 

One of the assailants tied a rope around his neck and poured an unknown chemical substance on him, Smollett claimed at the time. 

Empire star Jussie Smollett (above) has hired Michael Cohen's high-powered criminal defense attorney, as the police investigation into the attack he reported last month took a sudden shift

Empire star Jussie Smollett (above) has hired Michael Cohen's high-powered criminal defense attorney, as the police investigation into the attack he reported last month took a sudden shift

Empire star Jussie Smollett (above) has hired Michael Cohen’s high-powered criminal defense attorney, as the police investigation into the attack he reported last month took a sudden shift

Jussie Smollett makes his first public appearance earlier this month following the alleged attack. He furiously denied paying two Nigerian brothers $3,500 to assault him

Jussie Smollett makes his first public appearance earlier this month following the alleged attack. He furiously denied paying two Nigerian brothers $3,500 to assault him

Jussie Smollett makes his first public appearance earlier this month following the alleged attack. He furiously denied paying two Nigerian brothers $3,500 to assault him

Abimbola 'Abel' (left) and Olabinjo 'Ola' Osundairo (right) were arrested on Wednesday night at Chicago O’Hare airport, as they returned from a trip to visit family in Nigeria

Abimbola 'Abel' (left) and Olabinjo 'Ola' Osundairo (right) were arrested on Wednesday night at Chicago O’Hare airport, as they returned from a trip to visit family in Nigeria

Abimbola ‘Abel’ (left) and Olabinjo ‘Ola’ Osundairo (right) were arrested on Wednesday night at Chicago O’Hare airport, as they returned from a trip to visit family in Nigeria

THE FULL STATEMENT FROM JUSSIE SMOLLETT’S ATTORNEYS

Lawyers Todd S. Pugh and Victor P. Henderson issued the following statement on Jussie’s behalf on Saturday night: ‘As a victim of a hate crime who has cooperated with the police investigation, Jussie Smollett is angered and devastated by recent reports that the perpetrators are individuals he is familiar with. He has now been further victimized by claims attributed to these alleged perpetrators that Jussie played a role in his own attack. Nothing is further from the truth and anyone claiming otherwise is lying.

‘One of these purported suspects was Jussie’s personal trainer who he hired to ready him physically for a music video. It is impossible to believe that this person could have played a role in the crime against Jussie or would falsely claim Jussie’s complicity.

‘Jussie and his attorneys anticipate being further updated by the Chicago Police Department on the status of the investigation and will continue to cooperate. At the present time, Jussie and his attorneys have no inclination to respond to “unnamed” sources inside of the investigation, but will continue discussions through official channels.’

During the attack, the assailants yelled ‘Empire f****t’ and ‘Empire n*****,’ the actor has long maintained. 

That narrative, however, is now under serious scrutiny by investigators, who reportedly have evidence that Smollett directed his ‘attackers’ to buy the rope used in the ‘assault’ at a local hardware store.

Documents prove two Nigerian brothers who work as extras on the highly rated Fox drama bought the rope which was found around Smollett’s neck at Crafty Beaver Hardware Store in Chicago.

The brothers made the purchase on the weekend of January 25. 

They also bought two red plain hats that they wore during the alleged attack, according to sources close to the investigation. 

Police believe that the red hats were purchased at a local beauty supply store in the Uptown section of Chicago.

‘We can confirm that the information received from the individuals questioned by police earlier in the Empire case has in fact shifted the trajectory of the investigation,’ Chicago Police spokesperson Anthony Guglielmi said. 

‘We’ve reached out to the Empire cast member’s attorney to request a follow-up interview.’ 

Chicago police are now ‘eager to speak to Jussie Smollett’ in light of the new information that was uncovered, according to ABC News.

‘We have been in touch with Smollett’s attorneys,’ a Chicago Police Department spokesperson said.

WHAT WE KNOW SO FAR ABOUT THE JUSSIE SMOLLETT CASE

Here is what we know so far about the alleged attack on Empire star Jussie Smollett and the ongoing investigation by the Chicago Police Department.

Since CPD is not commenting citing the ongoing probe, the public has been left to rely on Smollett’s version of events.

On January 29, Smollett was allegedly assaulted by two men at around 2am.

Reports indicated that he was allegedly beaten up and had a noose tied around his neck.

The alleged assault took place as Smollett was on his way home after buying a sandwich at a local Subway.

Initial reports indicated that the attackers were ‘white men’ who yelled ‘This is MAGA country’ while yelling racist and homophobic slurs and pouring bleach on him.

But during an interview with Robin Roberts of ABC’s Good Morning America, Smollett denied that his assailants wore red MAGA hats.

Smollett also told Roberts that contrary to reports, his ribs were not broken as a result of the incident.

After the assault, some began to wonder if Smollett concocted the entire story.

That there were those who doubted Smollett stems from a number of factors.

A Chicago Police spokesperson said on the day after the alleged attack that investigators were unable to find evidence of an assault.

The only surveillance camera at the scene was pointed in the opposite direction.

Smollett also phoned the police from his apartment rather than from the scene.

When Smollett initially refused investigators’ request to hand over his phone, this raised eyebrows.

Smollett then handed over his phone records, but they were redacted in order to protect the privacy of people not involved in the attack.

On Friday, police arrested two Nigerian men in the connection with the attack – only to have them released later.

Since both men are black, this has led some to be suspicious of Smollett’s claim that this was a hate crime.

Information emerged later on showing that Smollett knew the two men who were arrested since they were extras on Empire.

A theory floating around on social media stated that Smollett staged the attack because his character was being written off Empire.

But the show’s producers and writers quickly refuted that claim.

                                                                                                                                  Source: Slate

Scene: 'I was bruised but my ribs were not cracked, they were not broken. I went to the doctor immediately ... but I was not hospitalized,' said Smollett (map with inset of the scene where the attack occurred just outside Smollett's apartment)

Scene: 'I was bruised but my ribs were not cracked, they were not broken. I went to the doctor immediately ... but I was not hospitalized,' said Smollett (map with inset of the scene where the attack occurred just outside Smollett's apartment)

Scene: ‘I was bruised but my ribs were not cracked, they were not broken. I went to the doctor immediately … but I was not hospitalized,’ said Smollett (map with inset of the scene where the attack occurred just outside Smollett’s apartment)

Chicago PD confirmed on Thursday that the pair seen in this image from surveillance footage around the time of the attack on January 29 (above) were Abel and Ola Osundairo 

Chicago PD confirmed on Thursday that the pair seen in this image from surveillance footage around the time of the attack on January 29 (above) were Abel and Ola Osundairo 

Chicago PD confirmed on Thursday that the pair seen in this image from surveillance footage around the time of the attack on January 29 (above) were Abel and Ola Osundairo 

‘We made our intentions clear,’ he said. 

Brothers Olabinjo ‘Ola’ Osundairo, 27, and Abimbola ‘Abel’ Osundairo, 25, were cut loose from police custody late on Friday. They had been held since Wednesday, after being picked up at O’Hare Airport while disembarking a flight from Nigeria. 

The brothers were paid $3,500 before leaving for Nigeria and were promised another $500 upon returning, according to WBBM-TV

Earlier on Saturday, Smollett hired Michael Cohen’s high-powered criminal defense attorney, as the police investigation into the attack he reported last month took a sudden shift amid allegations of a hoax.

Attorney Michael Monico, a former federal prosecutor in the Northern District of Illinois, revealed in a radio interview on Thursday in Chicago that he is representing Smollett.

Monico, speaking on WGN’s The Roe Conn Show, did not reveal how long he has been representing Smollet or in what capacity. Monico last month took over as co-counsel for Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former lawyer.

It came as police in Chicago suddenly released the two Nigerian extras on Smollett’s show, who had previously been described as suspects in the attack, saying that ‘new evidence’ had emerged in their interrogations that requires further detective work.

JUSSIE SMOLLETT COULD GET 3 YEARS IN PRISON FOR FILING A FALSE REPORT TO POLICE

Mitchell Dutz, 18, was sentenced to three years in Illinois state prison for fabricating claims that three black men stole a car with a 13-month-old infant inside

Mitchell Dutz, 18, was sentenced to three years in Illinois state prison for fabricating claims that three black men stole a car with a 13-month-old infant inside

Mitchell Dutz, 18, was sentenced to three years in Illinois state prison for fabricating claims that three black men stole a car with a 13-month-old infant inside

Filing a false report to police in the State of Illinois is considered an act of disorderly conduct, which is a Class 4 felony.

That means that anyone found guilty could face between one and three years in prison.

By law, the crime of disorderly conduct is committed in Illinois by anyone who ‘transmits or causes to be transmitted in any manner to any peace officer, public officer or public employee a report to the effect that an offense will be committed, is being committed, or has been committed, knowing at the time of the transmission that there is no reasonable ground for believing that the offense will be committed, is being committed, or has been committed.’

Last week, a central Illinois man was sentenced to three years in state prison after he pleaded guilty to fabricating an Amber alert.

On December 15, Mitchell Dutz, 18, told police that three black men stole his car with a 13-month-old infant inside.

Dutz used a social media photo of a child he did not know to claim that there was a kidnapping, according to Peoria Journal Star

But police rescinded the Amber alert after it became clear that it was a hoax. 

Dutz pleaded guilty to motor-vehicle burglary and disorderly conduct.

Last month, a Chicago woman was charged with a felony after she allegedly made a 911 call that turned out to be a ‘swatting’ incident.

Keesha S. Ingram, 41, allegedly called police before dawn on December 11 to report that a man was threatening to shoot his wife in their home in Warren Township.

Sheriff’s deputies responded to the call. They arrived at the scene and set up a perimeter around the house.

Illinois police have issued an arrest warrant for Keesha S. Ingram, 41, who has been charged with disorderly conduct for allegedly calling police and fabricating claims that a man was threatening to shoot his wife

Illinois police have issued an arrest warrant for Keesha S. Ingram, 41, who has been charged with disorderly conduct for allegedly calling police and fabricating claims that a man was threatening to shoot his wife

Illinois police have issued an arrest warrant for Keesha S. Ingram, 41, who has been charged with disorderly conduct for allegedly calling police and fabricating claims that a man was threatening to shoot his wife

After making contact with the residents inside, the deputies determined there was no incident to warrant an arrest, according to the Daily Herald.

Authorities then determined that they were dealing with a ‘swatting’ incident whereby a person falsely reports an ongoing crime at a particular address in order to harass the individual who lives there.

An investigation led back to Ingram, who is alleged to have known one of the people who lived in the Warren Township home.

Investigators believe Ingram made the swatting call out of revenge against the victim, whom she accused of not paying her money that was owed to her. 

Ingram is still on the loose and is wanted for arrest, according to Patch

‘Due to new evidence as a result of today’s interrogations, the individuals questioned by police in the Empire case have now been released without charging and detectives have additional investigative work to complete,’ Guglielmi said in a statement on Friday night.

The Osundairo brothers’ attorney, Gloria Schmidt, spoke briefly to reporters after their release, hinting that Smollett’s legal future could hold difficulties.

‘There’s so many moving parts to this that will come out in time,’ Schmidt said when asked if her clients had helped Smollett stage the attack. ‘I’m going to let them tell their story when the time is right.’

Smollett made international headlines after reporting the attack on January 29, in which he said two men assaulted him at 2am on a Chicago street, shouting vile racist and homophobic slurs.

Michael Monico (above) revealed in a radio interview on Thursday that he is Smollett's lawyer

Michael Monico (above) revealed in a radio interview on Thursday that he is Smollett's lawyer

Michael Monico (above) revealed in a radio interview on Thursday that he is Smollett’s lawyer

The actor said that he fought back bravely as the two men shouted ‘this is MAGA country,’ poured bleach on him, and looped a noose around his neck.

Smollett has vigorously denied speculation that details of the attack were fabricated or staged, speaking out in an interview that aired on Wednesday just hours before the Osundairo brothers were detained. 

It is unclear at this time what the Osundairo brothers told police that would alter the course of the investigation.

‘The left is mentally insane’: Trump supporters say they are vindicated since ‘Jussie is a liar and a fraud’ 

As Jussie Smollett is now suspected by authorities of fabricating claims he was beaten by two men alleged to have been Trump supporters, the president’s backers said on Saturday that they are vindicated.

The president’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr, tweeted: ‘It appears that Jussie Smollett tried to manufacture a hate crime to make Trump supporters look bad and most of the media not only uncritically accepted his lies as facts for weeks, but attacked those who questioned the validity of his false story.’

Journalist Michael Tracey tweeted: ‘Popular culture and political media have been so relentless in their promotion of alarmist Trump-era narratives that all critical faculties go out the window when it comes to “hate” incidents that align suspiciously closely with everything pundits, celebs, etc. want to believe.’

Brian Flood tweeted: ‘CNN is all in on the Jussie Smollett news… but they keep forgetting the part where he claimed attackers were Trump supporters.’

‘There was never any real attack,’ according to Ryan Fournier.

Donald Trump Jr tweeted: ‘It appears that Jussie Smollett tried to manufacture a hate crime to make Trump supporters look bad and most of the media not only uncritically accepted his lies as facts for weeks, but attacked those who questioned the validity of his false story’

Donald Trump Jr tweeted: ‘It appears that Jussie Smollett tried to manufacture a hate crime to make Trump supporters look bad and most of the media not only uncritically accepted his lies as facts for weeks, but attacked those who questioned the validity of his false story’

Donald Trump Jr tweeted: ‘It appears that Jussie Smollett tried to manufacture a hate crime to make Trump supporters look bad and most of the media not only uncritically accepted his lies as facts for weeks, but attacked those who questioned the validity of his false story’

Journalist Michael Tracey blamed 'alarmist Trump-era narratives' created by 'popular culture and political media' which has led to 'all critical faculties go[ing] out the window'

Journalist Michael Tracey blamed 'alarmist Trump-era narratives' created by 'popular culture and political media' which has led to 'all critical faculties go[ing] out the window'

Journalist Michael Tracey blamed ‘alarmist Trump-era narratives’ created by ‘popular culture and political media’ which has led to ‘all critical faculties go[ing] out the window’

Brian Flood tweeted: ‘CNN is all in on the Jussie Smollett news... but they keep forgetting the part where he claimed attackers were Trump supporters'

Brian Flood tweeted: ‘CNN is all in on the Jussie Smollett news... but they keep forgetting the part where he claimed attackers were Trump supporters'

Brian Flood tweeted: ‘CNN is all in on the Jussie Smollett news… but they keep forgetting the part where he claimed attackers were Trump supporters’

Ryan Fournier tweeted: 'Jussie Smollett is a liar and a fraud'

Ryan Fournier tweeted: 'Jussie Smollett is a liar and a fraud'

Ryan Fournier tweeted: ‘Jussie Smollett is a liar and a fraud’

‘There was never any real attack,’ according to Ryan Fournier. ‘Jussie paid to be attacked and then made it look like Trump supporters did it'

‘There was never any real attack,’ according to Ryan Fournier. ‘Jussie paid to be attacked and then made it look like Trump supporters did it'

‘There was never any real attack,’ according to Ryan Fournier. ‘Jussie paid to be attacked and then made it look like Trump supporters did it’

Andrew Surabian tweeted: ‘And just like with Covington, the media was all too willing to help Jussie Smollett pull off his hoax and in the process frame Trump supporters in the court of public opinion before any actual facts came out’

Andrew Surabian tweeted: ‘And just like with Covington, the media was all too willing to help Jussie Smollett pull off his hoax and in the process frame Trump supporters in the court of public opinion before any actual facts came out’

Andrew Surabian tweeted: ‘And just like with Covington, the media was all too willing to help Jussie Smollett pull off his hoax and in the process frame Trump supporters in the court of public opinion before any actual facts came out’

‘Jussie paid to be attacked and then made it look like Trump supporters did it.

‘This is how mentally insane the left has become. They will do anything to bring us down.

‘Well it’s not happening because Jussie is going to jail.’

Fournier also tweeted: ‘Jussie Smollett is a liar and a fraud.

‘He needs to be punished for faking an assault and framing Trump supporters.’

Others compared the Smollett case to last month’s controversy surrounding the teens from Covington, Kentucky, who were filmed making faces at a Native American protester in front of the Lincoln Memorial.

A number of teens from a Catholic high school wore red ‘Make America Great Again’ hats.

Andrew Surabian tweeted: ‘And just like with Covington, the media was all too willing to help Jussie Smollett pull off his hoax and in the process frame Trump supporters in the court of public opinion before any actual facts came out.’ 

Late on Friday, police sources said that cops had seized a bottle of bleach from Smollett’s apartment, according to Fox News correspondent Matt Finn.  

Meanwhile, new information surfaced about the Osundairo brothers, who in the course of 48 hours went from ‘potential persons of interest’ to ‘potential suspects’ to being under arrest because investigators had ‘probable cause that they were involved in a crime’ to being set free. 

Since their release on Friday night, they have been staying at an undisclosed location. 

Police said that the brothers were the two men who were seen on a surveillance image released to the public, and Smollett positively identified the two men in the image as his attackers in a televised interview. 

The two brothers are both strongly opposed to President Donald Trump and fervently pro-LGBT, fellow Empire cast and crew members tell TMZ. Both men are said to be loyal fans of former President Barack Obama.

Smollett is said to be close with the brothers and would frequently approach them on set to discuss health and fitness.

Colleagues on the tight-knit Empire set said they had a hard time imagining that the Osundairo brothers could have been involved in the kind of homophobic and bigoted attack that Smollett described.

Abimbola, pictured, was booked on DUI and speeding charges in July 2015 according to Chicago arrest records

Abimbola, pictured, was booked on DUI and speeding charges in July 2015 according to Chicago arrest records

The brothers were picked up at Chicago O'Hare Airport on Wednesday

The brothers were picked up at Chicago O'Hare Airport on Wednesday

Abimbola, pictured, was booked on DUI and speeding charges in July 2015 according to Chicago arrest records. The brothers were picked up at Chicago O’Hare Airport on Wednesday

Police initially said that they tied the brothers to the reported attack using meticulous investigative efforts, including surveillance videos and information from ride-sharing companies. 

Although Smollett said he did not know who attacked him, both brothers are known to the actor and he follows them on social media.

Their shared Instagram account also features a video of them working out at the private gym in Smollett’s luxury apartment block.

The brothers left Chicago for Nigeria hours after the attack.  

Celebrities rally behind Empire’s Jussie Smollett after he is ‘brutally attacked’ in Chicago

Celebrities and fans alike rallied to lend their support to Jussie Smollett after the 35-year-old actor claimed he was attacked last month.     

Janet Jackson took to her Twitter to share a special message for the actor, along with a photo of the two of them together. 

‘Sending so much luv and healing energy your way @jussiesmollett. we know that you’ll continue to change the world,’ added Fergie.

The sentiment was shared by Shonda Rhimes, who said: ‘Sending love, healing, and support to @jussiesmollett. We ALL have a responsibility to rise up against the ignorance and hate out there. If you know who did this, REPORT THEM TO THE POLICE.’ 

Naomi Campbell posted a impassioned plea to Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to find the people responsible for the attack. 

 

 

Sending love to Jussie and the Smollett family after this horrific attack. We support you and pray that you find peace and justice,’ said John Legend. 

‘This is heartbreaking and terrifying…please pay attention to what’s happening here,’ said Zendaya. ‘Sending all my love to @JussieSmollett.’ 

‘No words. Love to you @JussieSmollett,’ added Margaret Cho. 

‘This is horrifying,’ said Jamilah Lemieux. ‘We love you @JussieSmollett. May justice be swift and unflinching.’

‘@JussieSmollett I love you,’ said Tika Sumpter 

 

‘@JussieSmollett praying you have a full and speedy recovery. So sorry this happened to you, added Raegan Gomez. 

Many condemned the racist and homophobic behavior and demanded justice.

Ana Navarro said: ‘I saw Jussie Smollett in Miami last week. I can’t believe this happened. It is sad and disgusting and and deplorable.’

The sentiment was shared by Reverend Al Sharpton, who added: ‘The reported hate attack on my friend and brother, actor Jussie Smollett is despicable and outrageous. The guilty must face the maximum.’

‘Sending so much love and prayers to you, @jussiesmollett. I’m in disbelief of what happened to you,’ added Eva Longoria. ‘It’s a senseless act that shall be met with justice! I can’t believe this is happening in 2019. This world has no room for hate. #AwaitingJustice’ 

 

Others took the moment to throw criticism at ‘gay jokes’ and Kevin Hart’s recent appearance on Ellen where he addressed the controversy surrounding his hosting the Oscars. 

Actor Ryan Jamaal Swain stated: ‘This is why holding “a little homophobic joke'”accountable is taken so FREAKING SERIOUSLY. To quote @amandaseales, you have to be overly confident…black gay men have to deal w/ not only racism but homophobia.’ It is always abt duality and a form of respect. @JussieSmollett

‘Given what we’ve seen so far, I fully expect the men who attacked Jussie Smollett to score a sit-down interview with Ellen at some point in the next few weeks,’ said Saeed Jones. ‘Maybe it will be a roundtable discussion with Kevin Hart.’

Their shared apartment was also raided by police, who took away bottles of bleach, electronics, a red hat and a pair of Nike shoes.  

The FBI is also involved in the investigation after Smollett reported receiving hate mail. 

Federal investigators have taken the lead on the mail case, and are supporting Chicago police in the investigation into Smollett’s report of an assault. 

Police have been cautious in their official public statements about the case. At last report, investigators still officially considered Smollett a victim in the case. 

Smollett has continued to angrily denounce any speculation that the attack did not occur as he described, ascribing racist motives to skeptics and saying that no one would doubt him if he had reported being attacked by non-white assailants.

‘I will never be the man that this did not happen to,’ he told ABC on Wednesday. ‘I am forever changed.’

Key moments in reported attack on actor Jussie Smollett

 January 29, 2019 

Smollet is seen with a cut cheek on Jan. 29

Smollet is seen with a cut cheek on Jan. 29

Smollet is seen with a cut cheek on Jan. 29

Jussie Smollett tells Chicago police he was physically attacked by two men in downtown Chicago while out getting food from a Subway restaurant at 2am. 

The black and openly gay actor tells authorities the men used racial and homophobic slurs, wrapped a rope around his neck and poured an ‘unknown substance’ on him. 

Smollett told detectives that the attackers yelled he was in ‘MAGA country,’ an apparent reference to President Donald Trump’s ‘Make America Great Again’ campaign slogan, which some critics of Trump have claimed is a racist dog whistle.

January 30

Chicago police say they’ve reviewed hundreds of hours of surveillance camera footage, including of Smollett walking downtown, but none of the videos show the attack. 

Police obtain and release images of two people they would like to question.

Police released this image of 'persons of interest' taken near the reported attack

Police released this image of 'persons of interest' taken near the reported attack

Police released this image of ‘persons of interest’ taken near the reported attack

Reports of Smollett’s attack draw outrage and support on social media, including from U.S. Senators Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, and Elizabeth Warren.

Both Booker and Harris called the incident a ‘modern day lynching’.

Joe Biden said: ‘We must stand up and demand that we no longer give this hate safe harbor; that homophobia and racism have no place on our streets or in our hearts.’ 

January 31

Trump tells reporters at the White House that he saw a story the night before about Smollett and that, ‘It doesn’t get worse, as far as I’m concerned.’

Smollett’s family issues a statement calling the attack a racial and homophobic hate crime. 

Smollett’s family says he ‘has told the police everything’ and ‘his story has never changed,’ disputing assertions leveled on social media that he has been less than cooperative and changed his story.

February 1

Smollett issues a statement telling people that he is OK and thanking them for their support. 

He says he is working with authorities and has been ‘100 percent factual and consistent on every level.’

February 2

Smollett gives a concert in West Hollywood, California, opening with an emotional speech, saying he had to play the show because he couldn’t let his attackers win.

At the end of the set, he announces that he fought back against his attackers, calling himself ‘the gay Tupac’.

Congresswoman Maxine Waters is in attendance at the concert. 

Smollet is seen performing on February 2, where he called himself 'the gay Tupac'

Smollet is seen performing on February 2, where he called himself 'the gay Tupac'

Smollet is seen performing on February 2, where he called himself ‘the gay Tupac’

February 13

Good Morning America airs an emotional interview with Smollett, in which he blasts speculation that the attack was staged as itself racist and hateful. 

Hours later, Chicago police pick up two Nigerian brothers at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport on their return from Nigeria.

Cops identify the two men as the individuals seen in the surveillance images released from the night of January 29. They were identified using records from a ride sharing service.

Sources confirmed that the men were brothers Olabinjo ‘Ola’ Osundairo, 27, and Abimbola ‘Abel’ Osundairo, 25.

Both had worked on Empire and they were known to be close to Smollett. 

Cops questioned them about the case. Police also searched the apartment where the men live. 

Brothers Olabinjo 'Ola' Osundairo, 27, and Abimbola 'Abel' Osundairo, 25, were detained by police on February 13

Brothers Olabinjo 'Ola' Osundairo, 27, and Abimbola 'Abel' Osundairo, 25, were detained by police on February 13

Brothers Olabinjo ‘Ola’ Osundairo, 27, and Abimbola ‘Abel’ Osundairo, 25, were detained by police on February 13

Police logs show the items that cops seized from the Nigerian brothers' Chicago home

Police logs show the items that cops seized from the Nigerian brothers' Chicago home

Police logs show the items that cops seized from the Nigerian brothers' Chicago home

Police logs show the items that cops seized from the Nigerian brothers' Chicago home

Police logs show the items that cops seized from the Nigerian brothers’ Chicago home

February 14

Two television stations in Chicago report the widespread belief among investigators that Smollett staged the attack as a hate hoax. 

Chicago’s police superintendent later said that he had no evidence to prove that the attack was a hoax.

Producers of ‘Empire’ dispute media reports that Smollett’s character was being written off the show.

High-powered criminal defense attorney Michael Monico reveals that he is representing Smollett.

February 15

Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielimi says the two ‘persons of interest’ are now considered suspects. He says the men are in custody but have not been charged with a crime.

Hours later, Chicago police release two men without charges after arresting them on suspicion of assaulting Smollett and holding them for nearly 48 hours. 

A police spokesman said the two are no longer considered suspects and that investigators have ‘new evidence’ to consider as a result of questioning them.

Stone the crows! First Keith Richards kicked hard liquor, now Mick Jagger has given up womanising 

Rolling Stones fans were stunned last week when hell-raiser Keith Richards revealed he’d finally given up the hard stuff.

But they’ll be even more shocked to learn that Sir Mick Jagger has ended his prolific womanising.

The legendary lothario is said to have bedded 4,000 women but he has found ‘satisfaction’ with ballet dancer Melanie Hamrick, mother of his youngest son, Deveraux.

As Jerry Hall and a succession of other partners learned to their cost, the singer has rarely, if ever, practised monogamy. However, he has vowed to be a ‘one-woman man’ from now on.

Melanie Hamrick (left) and Mick Jagger (right) started their relationship in 2014

Melanie Hamrick (left) and Mick Jagger (right) started their relationship in 2014

Melanie Hamrick (left) and Mick Jagger (right) started their relationship in 2014

Melanie Hamrick (pictured above) is the mother of Jagger's youngest son Deveraux

Melanie Hamrick (pictured above) is the mother of Jagger's youngest son Deveraux

Melanie Hamrick (pictured above) is the mother of Jagger’s youngest son Deveraux

Jagger, 75, and Ms Hamrick, 32, began dating in 2014, shortly after the tragic death of his girlfriend, fashion designer L’Wren Scott.

Despite the birth of Deveraux in 2016, friends admit that Jagger continued to ‘play the field’ until recently.

A New York source said: ‘When Mick and Melanie started dating, he made it clear to her that it would not be exclusive. He was totally honest with her.’

Jagger was most recently linked with stunning Hollywood movie producer Noor Alfallah, 22.

Noor Alfallah

Noor Alfallah

L'Wren Scott

L'Wren Scott

Jagger is said to have romantic ties with Noor Alfallah (left) and lived with fashion designer L’Wren Scott (right), who died in 2014

Luciana Gimenez

Luciana Gimenez

Jerry Hall

Jerry Hall

Luciana Gimenez (left) became famous after becoming pregnant with Mick Jagger’s child. Jagger also courted Jerry Hall from 1977–1999

The friend added: ‘Mick’s relationship with Noor went on for a couple of years and, sure, it overlapped with Melanie, but it has ended amicably.

‘He made a commitment to Melanie when they were in Mustique over Christmas. He’s finally ready to settle down and be a one-woman man.’

Jagger and his lover attended a Universal Music party in Los Angeles last Sunday after the Grammy awards. A source who saw the couple said: ‘He seems very happy and content in her company. He didn’t look at another woman all night. It’s the happiest I’ve seen him in years.’

Jagger is in LA working on new music and preparing for the Stones’ No Filter US tour, which begins in April. Meanwhile, Ms Hamrick has taken a leave of absence from the prestigious American Ballet Theatre to write a ballet set to the Stones’ music.

Jagger was married to Bianca Jagger, mother of his eldest daughter Jade, between 1971 and 1978. He later set up home with Texan model Jerry Hall, with whom he had four children. Long-suffering Jerry finally left him after 23 years when she learned Brazilian model Luciana Morad was pregnant with Jagger’s child.

Last week, Richards revealed that he had not only said goodbye to drugs but had given up spirits too – although he still enjoys ‘a little wine with meals, and a Guinness or a beer or two’.

 

Trump demands Europe ‘take back’ and lock up 800 ISIS fighters captured in Syria

President Trump wants America’s European allies to put more than 800 ISIS fighters captured in Syria on trial.

‘The United States is asking Britain, France, Germany and other European allies to take back over 800 ISIS fighters that we captured in Syria and put them on trial,’ the president tweeted late Saturday.

‘The Caliphate is ready to fall. The alternative is not a good one in that we will be forced to release them.’

Trump continued: ‘The U.S. does not want to watch as these ISIS fighters permeate Europe, which is where they are expected to go.

President Trump (seen at the White House on Friday) warned European allies of ISIS fighters 'permeating' the continent

President Trump (seen at the White House on Friday) warned European allies of ISIS fighters 'permeating' the continent

President Trump (seen at the White House on Friday) warned European allies of ISIS fighters ‘permeating’ the continent

‘The United States is asking Britain, France, Germany and other European allies to take back over 800 ISIS fighters that we captured in Syria and put them on trial,’ the president tweeted late Saturday

‘The United States is asking Britain, France, Germany and other European allies to take back over 800 ISIS fighters that we captured in Syria and put them on trial,’ the president tweeted late Saturday

‘The United States is asking Britain, France, Germany and other European allies to take back over 800 ISIS fighters that we captured in Syria and put them on trial,’ the president tweeted late Saturday

Trump is referring to the ‘800 foreign terrorist fighters’ that are now being held by the American-backed, Kurdish-dominated Syria Democratic Forces

Trump is referring to the ‘800 foreign terrorist fighters’ that are now being held by the American-backed, Kurdish-dominated Syria Democratic Forces

Trump is referring to the ‘800 foreign terrorist fighters’ that are now being held by the American-backed, Kurdish-dominated Syria Democratic Forces

‘We do so much, and spend so much – Time for others to step up and do the job that they are so capable of doing.

‘We are pulling back after 100% Caliphate victory!’

Trump is referring to the ‘800 foreign terrorist fighters’ that are now being held by the American-backed, Kurdish-dominated Syria Democratic Forces.

The ISIS members come from ‘over 40 countries,’ the Pentagon told CNN earlier this month.

Many of these ISIS fighters come from European countries, and the Kurdish-led SDF wants these nations to take their nationals off their hands.

But with American forces about to withdraw from Syria, there is concern as to what will happen to these detainees if Turkey – as expected – attacks Kurdish-held areas.

American officials have asked the Europeans to repatriate the citizens that are being held in detention in Syria.

But these governments have been hesitant to do so because of the limited evidence they have to use in a court of law proving their membership in ISIS.

British Prime Minister Theresa May

British Prime Minister Theresa May

French President Emmanuel Macron

French President Emmanuel Macron

There are more than 800 ISIS fighters in custody of U.S.-backed forces in Syria. European governments will have to decide how to repatriate their nationals who joined ISIS. British PM Theresa May (left) and French President Emmanuel Macron (right) are seen above

The Trump administration is warning that repatriating ISIS members without putting them on trial would lead to a surge in attacks.   

European governments are internally divided over what to do with suspected ISIS jihadis and their relatives who are returning from the battlefield.

The British government is being urged to allow a pregnant teenager who ran away from home to join ISIS to return to the United Kingdom. 

Shamima Begum’s family issued a statement appealing for government assistance ‘as a matter of urgency.’ 

Begum, now 19, resurfaced this week at a refugee camp in Syria where she gave an interview to the Times of London saying she didn’t regret her decision, but wanted to come home.

‘Given Shamima’s four-year ordeal, we are concerned that her mental health has been affected by everything that she has seen and endured,’ the family said in a statement to Britain’s ITV, describing her words as those of child who had been groomed by ISIS recruiters.

Begum was one of a group of schoolgirls from London’s Bethnal Green neighborhood who went to Syria to marry ISIS fighters in 2015 at a time when the group’s online recruitment program lured many impressionable young people to its self-proclaimed caliphate.

Her comments raise larger questions about how Western societies will deal with others who joined ISIS, but want to return to their home countries now that the extremist group is on the verge of collapse.

Though it is unclear whether Begum has committed any crime, her apparent lack of remorse has triggered criticism from many who believe her decision makes her a permanent pariah in Britain.

Shamima Begum, 19, is seen going through security at Gatwick airport before catching a flight to Turkey in 2015 to join the ISIS

Shamima Begum, 19, is seen going through security at Gatwick airport before catching a flight to Turkey in 2015 to join the ISIS

The British government is being urged to allow Shamima Begum (above), a pregnant teenager who ran away from home to join ISIS, to return to the United Kingdom

The British government is being urged to allow Shamima Begum (above), a pregnant teenager who ran away from home to join ISIS, to return to the United Kingdom

The British government is being urged to allow Shamima Begum (right), a pregnant teenager who ran away from home to join ISIS, to return to the United Kingdom. She is seen left going through security at Gatwick airport before catching a flight to Turkey in 2015 to join the ISIS

The head of Britain’s MI6 security service, Alex Younger, has warned that Britons returning from ISIS-held territory are likely to have acquired ‘potentially very dangerous’ skills and connections.

Though he didn’t comment on the Begum case, Younger said that while U.K. nationals have a ‘right’ to come home, public safety was the first priority.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid told the Times he ‘will not hesitate’ to prevent the return of Britons who ‘supported terrorist organizations abroad.’ 

But others have appealed for mercy, noting Begum’s age when she fled.

Though the family said they were ‘shocked’ by her comments, they said she should ‘be returned to the U.K. and be dealt with under the British justice system.’

‘The welfare of Shamima’s unborn baby is of paramount concern to our family, and we will do everything within our power to protect that baby who is entirely blameless in these events,’ they said in the statement. 

‘Shamima’s child who will also be British has every right as a total innocent to have the chance to grow up in the peace and security of this home.’ 

Enchanting new book reveals how wolves care for their elderly and always put family first

The silver stripes of the wolf’s coat gleamed in the afternoon sunlight. His black nose inhaled my scent deeply, his ears pointing alertly forward. 

We were inches apart now, and from the corner of my eye I could see the other members of his pack waiting. Every fibre of my being was focused on surviving the next few seconds.

The wolf’s powerful hindquarters lowered slightly as he prepared to jump. He flew towards me; his paws, the size of side plates, landed on my shoulders, his imposing fangs only a centimetre from my face. The world stopped. 

Wolves have taught me how important family is, to show affection to those we love, and to celebrate life, even if only for a brief moment. They have shown me what it means to be a human being. Three wolves are pictured together at Yellowstone National Park

Then he licked my face with his rough tongue. This was my first wolf kiss – the equivalent of a human handshake – and it was a fearsome introduction to these extraordinary animals. 

Now, after 25 years of observing the creatures loving, living and dying in the wilds of the US, Canada and Germany, I’ve learned the rather disconcerting truth: no species is socially so close to humans as the wolf.

Scientists who have studied the social systems of wolf packs over many generations all agree that man can, in fact, learn a lot about himself by watching these amazing animals. At first glance, of course, we couldn’t be more different.

The ‘big bad wolf’ of fairy tales is deeply rooted in our minds, along with the wolf’s fearsome reputation as a hunter. 

Yet it is no accident that many groups of indigenous people – from Native American tribes to Mongolians – see the wolf as the ancestor and totem of their own origins.

Author Elli H. Radinger is pictured above with a wolf. After 25 years of observing wolves, she writes that she has learned no species is socially so close to humans as the wolf

Author Elli H. Radinger is pictured above with a wolf. After 25 years of observing wolves, she writes that she has learned no species is socially so close to humans as the wolf

Author Elli H. Radinger is pictured above with a wolf. After 25 years of observing wolves, she writes that she has learned no species is socially so close to humans as the wolf

Both humans and wolves prioritise family and care for the elderly and thrive on harmony and ritual. This becomes even more significant if you compare the fact that even male primates, considered more similar to humans than wolves, don’t help feed their young or look after the old.

We both appoint leaders and use our individual talents for the good of the family or in our work. Some of us are patient and good listeners; others are impulsive and take new ideas further. Some are peacemakers and skilled negotiators.

When I observe these traits in wolves, I wonder why everything seems to be so much more complicated for us humans. 

In our modern, high-tech age we’ve become alienated from nature. We don’t even experience darkness and silence any more.

But wolves have taught me how important family is, to show affection to those we love, and to celebrate life, even if only for a brief moment. They have shown me what it means to be a human being.

Lesson one- From cradle to grave: family matters

Few scenes in nature are as heart-warming to observe as a wolf family. In contrast to the growling, fang-flashing creatures that we see in films, the lives of wild wolves are characterised by harmony and playful, affectionate interactions.

The pups are the beloved and protected treasure of the pack. The whole family looks after them, including aunts, uncles and older brothers and sisters. Old and wounded family members are brought food and never abandoned. Every member of the pack knows where his place is. For family, wolves will sacrifice their lives.

In April 2013, in a valley in Yellowstone Park, I watched a two-year-old wolf intervene in a turf war to save her mother and four newborn pup siblings. Her mother, the alpha female of the local pack, was being chased by 16 members of a rival, neighbouring group and was running for her life. 

Having crossed a road and tourist route, the attackers didn’t dare follow – but they now stood between the wolf and her days-old pups in the den. It fell to the wolf’s daughter to lure them in a different direction, which could easily have proved fatal. 

Elderly or sick wolves, too, are cared for by the pack. Old wolves are invaluable. A pack with just one elderly member has a 150 per cent better chance of winning in battles because of their experience – they will avoid a conflict they don’t think they can win [File photo]

Elderly or sick wolves, too, are cared for by the pack. Old wolves are invaluable. A pack with just one elderly member has a 150 per cent better chance of winning in battles because of their experience – they will avoid a conflict they don’t think they can win [File photo]

Elderly or sick wolves, too, are cared for by the pack. Old wolves are invaluable. A pack with just one elderly member has a 150 per cent better chance of winning in battles because of their experience – they will avoid a conflict they don’t think they can win [File photo]

But having easily outrun them, the rival wolves left, disgruntled, and didn’t reappear that year in the same territory.

Another special moment of love among siblings came one spring, when melting snow had transformed rivers into raging torrents. This is the time when wolf families move from dens to hunting grounds and may need to cross the rivers. The adults swim ahead, showing the little ones how it’s done. 

They howl from the opposite shore and encourage them to follow. One pup didn’t dare go in, and ran up and down wailing on the bank. Again and again it dipped a paw in the water and turned round. 

In the end, his sister swam back, grabbed a stick and distracted the pup with pulling games. Then she enticed him into the water with a stick and helped him to the other side.

Elderly or sick wolves, too, are cared for by the pack. Old wolves are invaluable. A pack with just one elderly member has a 150 per cent better chance of winning in battles because of their experience – they will avoid a conflict they don’t think they can win. 

In a pack known as Silver in Yellowstone, a young whippersnapper had become leader but treated the old deposed head with great respect – because the old gentleman was a master in the difficult art of bison-killing.

When they die, there is genuine grief. Cinderella, one of the females from the park’s ‘Druid’ pack, died during a hunting trip. Her partner retreated into the den where they had raised their pups and howled for the next three days. 

Six months later, his skeleton was found in an area where he had spent many months with his partner. How he’d died remained a mystery. Could it have been a broken heart?

Lesson two- Lead like an Alpha wolf

One bitterly cold day I spotted the Druid pack, a group of seven animals, whose alpha male was like the leading man in a movie. 

One biologist liked to compare him to Muhammad Ali or Michael Jordan: a unique talent with abilities beyond the norm. When he appeared, the wolf world seemed to hold its breath. He had a powerful build and radiated natural authority.

Leadership, in wolf packs, is not about being the bravest or the strongest – it depends on the group dynamic. But leadership is ultimately about harmony: to keep the family together [File photo]

Leadership, in wolf packs, is not about being the bravest or the strongest – it depends on the group dynamic. But leadership is ultimately about harmony: to keep the family together [File photo]

Leadership, in wolf packs, is not about being the bravest or the strongest – it depends on the group dynamic. But leadership is ultimately about harmony: to keep the family together [File photo]

This pack leader had two outstanding characteristics: he never lost a fight, and never killed a rival. Once he had made his position clear, he would let the defeated wolf live.

That day, a strange wolf – whom I later christened Casanova – approached the pack. The interloper was attractive with shiny pitch-black fur and gold-coloured eyes. The females must have gone weak at the knees.

One female courageously extended the tip of her tail – Cupid’s arrow whirred through the air. Her father charged: a short scuffle, a small bite.

Then Casanova unleashed all his charm, dancing around, wagging his tail and demanding to play. The parents succumbed, and gave up on their efforts to chase him away. 

Later, he rolled on his back when the boss approached, and licked his face. It demonstrated a high degree of social intelligence – if he had behaved otherwise, it could have meant the end. 

But it also showed the Druid pack leader’s intelligence. The pack’s collective interests were at stake: a new mate could only improve their chances of survival by increasing the genetic pool.

And leadership, in wolf packs, is not about being the bravest or the strongest – it depends on the group dynamic. 

But leadership is ultimately about harmony: to keep the family together. Despots are extremely unpopular – and, as I have observed, are often ousted.

Lesson three- Women hold all the wisdom 

What is universal among wolf packs is that key decisions – how, when and where to hunt or dig a den – are ultimately made by the highest-ranking female. 

In the end, everything of any importance to the family is geared towards them, too. While important decisions are taken by the male and female pack leaders together, in the event of doubt, the pack takes its lead from the alpha female.

One female wolf in Yellowstone, dubbed Angelina Jolie, was a legend. Everyone who saw her was fascinated. A young female wolf’s top priority is usually to find a partner and raise young. 

Angelina turned out to be one of the best hunters Yellowstone had ever seen. She liked hunting alone, and preferred fighting face to face. Once I watched as she attacked an elk cow on the shore [File photo]

Angelina turned out to be one of the best hunters Yellowstone had ever seen. She liked hunting alone, and preferred fighting face to face. Once I watched as she attacked an elk cow on the shore [File photo]

Angelina turned out to be one of the best hunters Yellowstone had ever seen. She liked hunting alone, and preferred fighting face to face. Once I watched as she attacked an elk cow on the shore [File photo]

Not Angelina. Throughout the first winter she had up to five suitors during the mating season, which is very unusual among wild wolves. She rejected the biggest and strongest contenders.

Instead she took up with two young brothers, and founded a family with them. Shortly after the birth of her first pups, Angelina left her den and within ten minutes had killed two elk cows – by herself. The males watched. It looked as if she was teaching the brothers how to hunt.

Angelina turned out to be one of the best hunters Yellowstone had ever seen. She liked hunting alone, and preferred fighting face to face. Once I watched as she attacked an elk cow on the shore. 

Treading water, she pressed her victim’s head under the water with all of her weight until the animal drowned, before leaving the body to drift to a sandbank.

Her one fatal error came when she left the protection of the national park. She was shot and killed, prompting an outpouring of letters and emails lamenting the loss – many from women who identified with the charismatic wolf.

Lesson four- How to teach your children 

Young wolves learn by observing their parents. But although they seem to have the freedom to do whatever they want, even wolf parents sometimes need to set boundaries. 

One summer I observed a family of wolves moving through Yellowstone’s Lamar Valley. One young wolf dawdled along behind. His family waited a few times until he caught up, but eventually they’d had enough. They ran on, and left the dreamer behind.

Realising he was lost, the young wolf howled to call them back, which had always worked in the past – but not this time. It wasn’t until the evening that his family returned to collect him. 

He had learned his lesson – he didn’t stray again. That is how wolf education works: while nothing is forbidden, the young learn that actions have consequences. 

There is no chance of playing one parent off against another – the wolf parents are united, and the whole family is involved in disciplining the offspring.

Lesson five- Choose your moment 

The strength of wolves lies in their ability to gauge a situation and then decide how to proceed. They know too well that it’s often better to practise patience first of all, to think the situation through. 

And that sometimes it makes no sense to take the next step. This logic was well demonstrated when I once watched a wolf pack driving a powerful bull elk to the edge of a cliff. 

They stared intensely at one another, like rivals before a boxing match. If the wolves were to attack, they would have fallen 20 metres into the abyss with their prey. 

The strength of wolves lies in their ability to gauge a situation and then decide how to proceed. They know too well that it’s often better to practise patience first of all, to think the situation through [File photo]

The strength of wolves lies in their ability to gauge a situation and then decide how to proceed. They know too well that it’s often better to practise patience first of all, to think the situation through [File photo]

The strength of wolves lies in their ability to gauge a situation and then decide how to proceed. They know too well that it’s often better to practise patience first of all, to think the situation through [File photo]

After long consideration, they gave up. The possibility of success wasn’t worth the risk.

Unlike people, wolves don’t always connect everything with achievement. We may feel humiliated if we fail to achieve what we set out to do. We think we can’t afford to make mistakes.

But the essence of patience lies in accepting the natural rhythm of life and not trying to adapt it to our human timetable. For several days in May 2011, I watched a one-year-old female wolf trying in vain to hunt pronghorns, one of the fastest land animals on Earth, able to reach speeds of more than 40mph.

She always hunted alone, and the other wolves seemed to take no interest in her undertaking, which they clearly deemed pointless.

But then one of the pronghorns stepped in a hole in the snow and stumbled. The wolf shot over and grabbed its prey by the ankle. The practice had paid off. Even today she likes hunting pronghorns.

Lesson six- Never stop playing 

Two-year-old Yukon is a grown adult wolf in Canada’s Banff National Park who still behaves like an adolescent. 

He kicks soft-drink cans around in front of him like a football player, before finally ‘scoring’ with them again and again. He is, like most wolves, plainly just having fun.

Adult wolves play chase, tug- of-war or hide-and-seek. They bring each other little gifts, usually small pieces of food or bones, and strut provocatively up and down in front of the others until they chase them. 

And old wolves playing with pups look as if they have fallen into a fountain of youth. One very popular game with the Yellowstone wolves is to break the ice on a lake or a river. They jump up and down on the ice with their front paws until it cracks.

Not everyone can withdraw into the wilderness to meet wolves. But all of us, if we are open, can experience the wisdom of wolves. What they’ve taught me is simple, writes author Elli H. Radinger [File photo]

Not everyone can withdraw into the wilderness to meet wolves. But all of us, if we are open, can experience the wisdom of wolves. What they’ve taught me is simple, writes author Elli H. Radinger [File photo]

Not everyone can withdraw into the wilderness to meet wolves. But all of us, if we are open, can experience the wisdom of wolves. What they’ve taught me is simple, writes author Elli H. Radinger [File photo]

Anything at all can be a toy: sticks, old bones and scraps of fur, and particularly anything humans have left behind, from clothing to rubbish. One winter I observed a bored female wolf plucking pine cones from a tree.

She threw them in the air like ping-pong balls, then either caught them or let them roll down the slope before sliding down after them. She was simply entertaining herself. Is that something we’ve forgotten how to do?

Sometimes I wonder whether our children actually know how to play. Looking at iPhones or iPads, the social activities so important for children’s development don’t take place. As adults, we are so preoccupied with our everyday routines that we often don’t even have time to play. Perhaps we should.

With wolves and other wild animals, we experience an intense present moment. We are ourselves, not who we were or want to be, or how we represent ourselves through the money in our bank accounts, or social media profiles. 

Not everyone can withdraw into the wilderness to meet wolves. But all of us, if we are open, can experience the wisdom of wolves. What they’ve taught me is simple. 

Love your family, and look after those entrusted to you. Never give up. Never stop playing.

© Elli H. Radinger 

 Extracted from The Wisdom Of Wolves, by Elli H. Radinger, published by Michael Joseph on Thursday, priced £14.99. 

Offer price £11.99 (20 per cent discount) until February 24. 

Order at mailshop.co.uk/books or call 0844 571 0640; p&p is free on orders over £15. Spend £30 on books and get FREE premium delivery.

Chernobyl cover-up: Soviets knew for 10 YEARS that reactor was an accident waiting to happen 

It was past midnight, and even at Chernobyl, the vast nuclear power plant overshadowing the quiet Ukrainian town of Pripyat, there was little sign of life aside from two off-duty workers fishing in the darkness on the concrete banks of a cooling pond. 

Their lines were still sunk in the warm outflow from the nuclear reactors when a thunderous boom engulfed them, an explosion so loud it sounded like an aircraft breaking the sound barrier.

The ground trembled. They were struck by a shock wave. And they watched as a plume of black smoke and hot debris arced upwards from the ruined plant.

Later, when the smoke had cleared, a shimmering pillar of ethereal blue-white light reached straight up into the darkened sky, disappearing into infinity. 

A guard stands by a sign at a closed off road leading to Chernobyl where an explosion occurred on April 26, 1986

A guard stands by a sign at a closed off road leading to Chernobyl where an explosion occurred on April 26, 1986

A guard stands by a sign at a closed off road leading to Chernobyl where an explosion occurred on April 26, 1986

Delicate and strange, the phosphorescence was created by the radioactive ionisation of air – an almost certain sign of an unshielded nuclear reactor open to the atmosphere.

The explosion at Chernobyl on April 26, 1986, remains the worst catastrophe in the history of nuclear power. About 30 workers and members of the emergency services died of acute radiation sickness soon afterwards.

The lives of the families living in its shadow were changed for ever, too. But the disaster went far beyond Pripyat.

Blown high into the atmosphere, radioactive debris from the newest of Chernobyl’s four reactors spread across Earth’s entire northern hemisphere, from Czechoslovakia to Japan.

A mile-high plume of the most deadly isotopes passed north and west, sweeping round Scandinavia, Snowdonia, Scotland and the Lake District.

In the three decades since the explosion, thousands of people are thought to have died of various cancers, with the estimates ranging from 4,000 upwards to – according to some projections – hundreds of thousands.

The explosion at Chernobyl on April 26, 1986, remains the worst catastrophe in the history of nuclear power

The explosion at Chernobyl on April 26, 1986, remains the worst catastrophe in the history of nuclear power

The explosion at Chernobyl on April 26, 1986, remains the worst catastrophe in the history of nuclear power

After years of work in archives around the world and interviews with scores of eyewitnesses, I have pieced together what really happened on that April night and in the terrible days that followed.

There were many episodes of selflessness and courage.

But the destruction at Chernobyl revealed the incompetence, corruption and moral decay that ultimately helped destroy the USSR from within.

The immediate causes were design flaws and a series of human errors made within the space of just a few terrifying minutes.

In some circumstances, the reactors built at Chernobyl were susceptible to a runaway chain reaction – the same process at the heart of an atomic bomb.

Indeed, there had already been a partial meltdown in Leningrad in 1975, where a confidential study made it clear that accidents were not merely possible, they were terrifyingly likely – even in the course of day-to-day operations. 

The immediate causes were design flaws and a series of human errors made within the space of just a few terrifying minutes

The immediate causes were design flaws and a series of human errors made within the space of just a few terrifying minutes

The immediate causes were design flaws and a series of human errors made within the space of just a few terrifying minutes

Yet for more than a decade, the USSR’s nuclear establishment kept these design faults a deadly secret.

In truth, the cataclysm was born of the planned economy and communist bureaucracy itself. 

For this was an empire of falsified statistics, of unattainable deadlines easily beaten by corner-cutting, sullen indifference to individual responsibility, terror at conveying bad news to superiors and chains of toadying yes-men clinging to their comfortable party privileges. They made the disaster at Chernobyl almost inevitable.

The control room for the fourth reactor at the plant was a large, windowless box, about 60ft by 30ft with a polished stone floor and low suspended ceiling. Beneath the sickly fluorescent strip lights, a rancid haze of cigarette smoke hung in the air.

It was 11.55pm on Friday, April 25, 1986, and the mood was tense. A time-consuming safety test scheduled to finish that afternoon had not yet begun. 

It was designed to check whether the water pumps that cooled one of the four reactors could be kept running in the event of a total power blackout.

In such a dangerous situation, the electricity for pumps that kept water circulating through the core would be cut and, although emergency generators would kick in, it would take time – potentially long enough for catastrophic overheating and a core meltdown to begin.

The test should have been carried out before the reactor was commissioned in December 1983 but, anxious to meet state-imposed deadlines, officials skipped it. Now it was to take place during a scheduled shutdown for maintenance.

The controls were manned by a team of four, a shift foreman at the back and three operators who sat at panels festooned with switches, buttons, gauges, lamps and alarms.

Yet for more than a decade, the USSR’s nuclear establishment kept these design faults a deadly secret

Yet for more than a decade, the USSR’s nuclear establishment kept these design faults a deadly secret

Yet for more than a decade, the USSR’s nuclear establishment kept these design faults a deadly secret

Just two months into the job, he was about to pilot the reactor through a shutdown for the first time in his life – an extraordinary responsibility

Just two months into the job, he was about to pilot the reactor through a shutdown for the first time in his life – an extraordinary responsibility

Just two months into the job, he was about to pilot the reactor through a shutdown for the first time in his life – an extraordinary responsibility

It was past midnight when electricity grid officials in Kiev gave the go-ahead and the control room began slowly to reduce the amount of power the reactor was generating so the test could take place.

Stepping up to the instruments on the reactor control desk was 25-year-old Leonid Toptunov. 

Just two months into the job, he was about to pilot the reactor through a shutdown for the first time in his life – an extraordinary responsibility. 

The test sounded simple enough: operators would press a button cutting power to the cooling water pumps, simulating a power blackout. Moments later, emergency diesel generators would start and the pumps would circulate water through the reactor core once again.

But then, at 12.28pm, Toptunov made a critical mistake and the computer began reducing the power beyond his control.

A series of alarms sounded, but Toptunov couldn’t stop the numbers from falling.

Within two minutes, the display was almost at zero – he had all but shut down the reactor before the test had even begun.

It should have been abandoned there and then, but it was not. Instead the order was given that the power should be increased once again ready for the procedure – leaving the reactor now disastrously unmanageable.

It was 1.22am. The control room was calm. It would all be over in seconds. But, by now, Chernobyl Reactor Number Four was a pistol with the hammer cocked.

Then, as the test began, every one of the design flaws moved into a deadly confluence.

Water passing through the core moved slower and grew hotter, and more and more of it turned to steam; reactivity increased further, releasing more heat and creating more steam.

But then, at 12.28pm, Toptunov made a critical mistake and the computer began reducing the power beyond his control

But then, at 12.28pm, Toptunov made a critical mistake and the computer began reducing the power beyond his control

But then, at 12.28pm, Toptunov made a critical mistake and the computer began reducing the power beyond his control

Inside the plant, the surviving workers were met with an apocalyptic sight. Broken glass, shattered concrete panels, tumbled blocks of graphite and lumps of metal lay everywhere

Inside the plant, the surviving workers were met with an apocalyptic sight. Broken glass, shattered concrete panels, tumbled blocks of graphite and lumps of metal lay everywhere

Inside the plant, the surviving workers were met with an apocalyptic sight. Broken glass, shattered concrete panels, tumbled blocks of graphite and lumps of metal lay everywhere

After just 36 seconds, the test was complete, and the order came to shut down the reactor.

But it was too late. Deep inside the reactor, the chain reaction was already out of control. The process leading to meltdown had begun. 

A frightening succession of alarms began to sound. Warning lamps flashed red. Electric buzzers squawked angrily. Toptunov shouted a warning: Power surge!

There was a roar and the building started to vibrate. The reactor was destroying itself. Within three seconds, its power leapt to a hundred times maximum. There was a loud bang. The uranium fuel pellets were melting. 

The temperature inside the reactor rose to 4,650C – almost as hot as the surface of the sun. 

A blast equivalent to 60 tons of TNT demolished the upper walls of the reactor hall and tossed the vast 2,000-ton steel and concrete lid of the reactor into the air like a flipped coin.

Almost seven tons of uranium fuel, together with pieces of zirconium and radioactive graphite, were hurled into the sky, together with a mixture of gas and aerosols containing some of the most dangerous substances known to man –iodine 131, neptunium 239, caesium 137, strontium 90 and plutonium 239. 

Inside the plant, the surviving workers were met with an apocalyptic sight. Broken glass, shattered concrete panels, tumbled blocks of graphite and lumps of metal lay everywhere. 

A few dazed operators ran here and there through showers of sparks and geysers of scalding steam.

A few dazed operators ran here and there through showers of sparks and geysers of scalding steam

A few dazed operators ran here and there through showers of sparks and geysers of scalding steam

A few dazed operators ran here and there through showers of sparks and geysers of scalding steam

The gigantic steel water tanks had been torn apart like wet cardboard, the ends of fractured pipework hung in mid-air and, above the wreckage, where the roof of the huge reactor building had once been, there were only stars. Reactor Number Four was gone.

When the first ambulances filled with firemen and workers from the plant pulled up at Medical-Sanitary Centre Number 126 in the early hours of Saturday morning, the staff were quickly overwhelmed. 

At first, no one understood what they were dealing with. The faces of some victims were a terrible purple; others, a deathly white.

Soon all of them were retching and vomiting, filling wash basins and buckets until they had emptied their stomachs, and even then unable to stop. The triage nurse began to cry. By morning, 90 patients had been admitted.

When the first ambulances filled with firemen and workers from the plant pulled up at Medical-Sanitary Centre Number 126 in the early hours of Saturday morning, the staff were quickly overwhelmed

When the first ambulances filled with firemen and workers from the plant pulled up at Medical-Sanitary Centre Number 126 in the early hours of Saturday morning, the staff were quickly overwhelmed

When the first ambulances filled with firemen and workers from the plant pulled up at Medical-Sanitary Centre Number 126 in the early hours of Saturday morning, the staff were quickly overwhelmed

The worst affected would later be taken to Moscow’s Hospital Number Six. They had been attacked by radiation from both inside and out.

As their white blood cell counts collapsed, infection crawled across the skin of the young operators and firemen. Thick black blisters encrusted their lips and the inside of their mouths. The skin of their gums peeled back, leaving them the colour of raw meat.

Unlike heat burns, which heal slowly over time, radiation burns grow gradually worse – expanding from wherever radioactive material had touched them, eating into the tissue below.

The men’s body hair and eyebrows fell out, and their skin darkened – first red, then purple, before finally it became a papery brown-black and curled away in sheets.

Inside their bodies, the radiation ate away the lining of their intestines and corroded their lungs.

As the scale of the crisis became clear, the Soviet authorities reacted with calls for patriotic sacrifice – and secrecy. 

When an official at Chernobyl said the 50,000 inhabitants of Pripyat should be warned, the director of the station cut his telephone lines.

As the scale of the crisis became clear, the Soviet authorities reacted with calls for patriotic sacrifice – and secrecy

As the scale of the crisis became clear, the Soviet authorities reacted with calls for patriotic sacrifice – and secrecy

As the scale of the crisis became clear, the Soviet authorities reacted with calls for patriotic sacrifice – and secrecy

The town knew something was wrong for sure by nightfall when even the radio speaker boxes in every apartment remained silent

The town knew something was wrong for sure by nightfall when even the radio speaker boxes in every apartment remained silent

The town knew something was wrong for sure by nightfall when even the radio speaker boxes in every apartment remained silent

Nuclear engineers on the morning shift tried to warn their families. Some managed to reach them by phone and told them to stay indoors, even though they knew the KGB was listening. 

One packed his family into the car to take them to safety, only to be turned back by armed police. The city had been sealed off.

The town knew something was wrong for sure by nightfall when even the radio speaker boxes in every apartment remained silent. 

These ‘radio points’ hung on the walls of homes throughout the Soviet Union, piping in propaganda just like gas and electricity.

But it was a full 32 hours after the accident before the order was given to evacuate, at 10am on Sunday, April 27.

By then Pripyat had already been dusted with nuclear fallout. (Apartment blocks in Kiev – 110 miles away – where the residents of Pripyat were rehoused, were later found to have hundreds of times the normal level of radiation.)

And there was no official statement from the Politburo until Monday evening, almost three days after the event.

‘An accident has taken place at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant,’ said an announcer from Radio Moscow. ‘Measures are being taken to eliminate the consequences.’

But it was a full 32 hours after the accident before the order was given to evacuate, at 10am on Sunday, April 27

But it was a full 32 hours after the accident before the order was given to evacuate, at 10am on Sunday, April 27

But it was a full 32 hours after the accident before the order was given to evacuate, at 10am on Sunday, April 27

The cloud of contamination had continued north and spread west to envelop Scandinavia, before drifting south over Poland and forming a wedge that moved down into Germany

The cloud of contamination had continued north and spread west to envelop Scandinavia, before drifting south over Poland and forming a wedge that moved down into Germany

The cloud of contamination had continued north and spread west to envelop Scandinavia, before drifting south over Poland and forming a wedge that moved down into Germany

The following evening, the Soviet Council of Ministers conceded that two people had been killed, that a section of the reactor building had been destroyed, and that Pripyat had been evacuated. There was no mention of a radioactive release, yet there was no escaping it, either.

The cloud of contamination had continued north and spread west to envelop Scandinavia, before drifting south over Poland and forming a wedge that moved down into Germany.

Chernobyl was headline news in the West.

Supported by the KGB, the Soviet nuclear industry was determined to suppress the truth – that the Chernobyl disaster was the conclusion to years of lying and ingrained incompetence. 

Initially, the Soviets stated that it was the result of an all-but-impossible coincidence of events.

Then, three months later, following a secret commission of inquiry, the Politburo issued its verdict: ‘The accident had been caused by a series of gross breaches of the operational regulations of the reactor by workers at the atomic power station.’ 

In other words, the workers were to blame. Court proceedings followed and the control room officials who had somehow survived the blast and radiation sickness were sent to prison camps.

There was no mention of any design faults in the reactor. But behind closed doors, Gorbachev and the Politburo already knew the facts – and that the Soviet nuclear industry had been hiding a terrible secret. 

They had known since 1975 and the Leningrad accident that one of their reactors was likely to explode – and with unspeakable consequences.

Constructed as giant cylinders of graphite, the Chernobyl reactors were more than 20 times the size of Western equivalents and capable of producing so much electricity that each one could power at least a million modern homes – a tribute to the Soviet obsession with colossal architecture and engineering – ‘gigantomania’. 

The USSR’s evangelical nuclear scientists had proclaimed this model the ‘national’ reactor and rushed it into production at stations planned from the Gulf of Finland to the Caspian Sea. They didn’t even bother with a prototype.

Yet, for all the boasts about the power of the ‘red atom’, the design of the massive Chernobyl reactors was hopelessly flawed. They were unstable and capricious, particularly at low power.

Initially, the Soviets stated that it was the result of an all-but-impossible coincidence of events

Initially, the Soviets stated that it was the result of an all-but-impossible coincidence of events

Initially, the Soviets stated that it was the result of an all-but-impossible coincidence of events

They had known since 1975 and the Leningrad accident that one of their reactors was likely to explode – and with unspeakable consequences

They had known since 1975 and the Leningrad accident that one of their reactors was likely to explode – and with unspeakable consequences

They had known since 1975 and the Leningrad accident that one of their reactors was likely to explode – and with unspeakable consequences

It is a particular irony that by spring 1986, Chernobyl was, officially, one of the best-performing nuclear stations in the Soviet Union, and scheduled to receive the Order of Lenin, the state’s highest honour.

Even the destruction unleashed by Reactor Number Four could not match the explosive political consequences that would follow.

Gorbachev’s personal reputation in the West as a reformer had been tarnished.

Now, on the third floor of a gloomy Kremlin office block, he accused the Soviet nuclear establishment of presiding over a secret state.

‘For 30 years, you told us that everything was perfectly safe. You assumed we would look up to you as gods,’ he said. ‘That’s the reason why all this happened, why it ended in disaster.’

It was devastating assessment. Even the Soviet nuclear bureaucracy had been undermined by secrecy, incompetence and stagnation. He knew now that the entire Soviet apparatus was rotten, and it intensified his drive for reform.

The Soviet public, too, began to discover just how deeply it had been misled.

Chernobyl finally shattered the illusion that the Soviet Union was a global superpower armed with technology that led the world.

Even the most faithful citizens faced the realisation that their leaders were corrupt and that the communist dream was a sham.

© Adam Higginbotham, 2019

Adapted from Midnight In Chernobyl: The Untold Story Of The World’s Greatest Nuclear Disaster, by Adam Higginbotham, is published by Bantam Press, priced £20. Offer price £16 (20 per cent discount, with free p&p) until February 24. Order at mailshop.co.uk/books or call 0844 571 0640. Spend £30 on books and get FREE premium delivery.

Fishnets and frocks at St Andrews fashion show – 17 years after Kate caught William’s eye

Students at the University of St Andrews strutted down the catwalk in their annual fashion show on Saturday – the same runway where Kate Middleton first caught Prince William‘s eye 17 years ago. 

Youngsters at the historic Scottish university could be seen glugging champagne, taking selfies and cheering on their peers as they enjoyed the 27th annual event.  

Models looked chic in floor length gowns, colourful swimsuits and daring lingerie during the famous show, while raising thousands of pounds for charity. 

In 2002, Kate was a young History of Art student at the university who wore a see-through black and gold slip dress, black underwear and a turquoise band as she walked down the runway.

The Duke of Cambridge was seated in the front row and was reportedly unable to take his eyes off his future wife, then 19, as she modelled the risque frock.  

It sparked a decade long relationship before the couple announced their engagement and were married at Westminster Abbey in London in 2011.   

And now the £30 skimpy dress which mesmerised Prince William, made by Designer Charlotte Todd, is estimated to be worth more than £100,000 and could increase ten-fold when she becomes Queen.

In 2010, the designer said ‘dress is a part of fashion history – the moment William could first have fallen in love with Kate’. 

This year’s fashion show, held in the university’s ancient campus, raised money for homeless charity Social Bite. 

Having raised over £550,000 for worthwhile charities over the 22 years, it combines well known designers with the flair of the country’s best student talent.

Students strutted their stuff down the catwalk at St Andrews university - where Prince William saw Kate Middleton model on the runway

Students strutted their stuff down the catwalk at St Andrews university - where Prince William saw Kate Middleton model on the runway

Students strutted their stuff down the catwalk at St Andrews university – where Prince William saw Kate Middleton model on the runway

In 2002, Kate was a young History of Art student who wore a see-through black and gold slip dress with a turquoise band as she walked down the runway

In 2002, Kate was a young History of Art student who wore a see-through black and gold slip dress with a turquoise band as she walked down the runway

In 2002, Kate was a young History of Art student who wore a see-through black and gold slip dress with a turquoise band as she walked down the runway

An array of models show off colourful swimsuits as they make their way down the catwalk at the 27th annual fashion show

An array of models show off colourful swimsuits as they make their way down the catwalk at the 27th annual fashion show

An array of models show off colourful swimsuits as they make their way down the catwalk at the 27th annual fashion show

Models looked chic in floor length gowns and donned colourful bikinis and fluorescent shorts during the famous show

Models looked chic in floor length gowns and donned colourful bikinis and fluorescent shorts during the famous show

Models looked chic in floor length gowns and donned colourful bikinis and fluorescent shorts during the famous show

Youngsters at the Scottish university could be seen glugging champagne, taking selfies and cheering on their peers as they enjoyed the 27th annual show

Youngsters at the Scottish university could be seen glugging champagne, taking selfies and cheering on their peers as they enjoyed the 27th annual show

Youngsters at the Scottish university could be seen glugging champagne, taking selfies and cheering on their peers as they enjoyed the 27th annual show

This year's fashion show combined well known designers with the flair of the country's best student talent

This year's fashion show combined well known designers with the flair of the country's best student talent

This year’s fashion show combined well known designers with the flair of the country’s best student talent

The famous fashion show is in its 27th and became well known after the Duchess of Cambridge strutted her stuff down the runway in 2001

The famous fashion show is in its 27th and became well known after the Duchess of Cambridge strutted her stuff down the runway in 2001

The famous fashion show is in its 27th and became well known after the Duchess of Cambridge strutted her stuff down the runway in 2001

The famous fashion show is in its 27th and became well known after the Duchess of Cambridge strutted her stuff down the runway in 2001

The famous fashion show became well known after the Duchess of Cambridge strutted her stuff down the runway in 2002

A model shows off a brightly-coloured one-piece. In 2001, Kate was a young History of Art student who wore a see-through black and gold slip dress with a turquoise band as she walked down the runway

A model shows off a brightly-coloured one-piece. In 2001, Kate was a young History of Art student who wore a see-through black and gold slip dress with a turquoise band as she walked down the runway

A model shows off a brightly-coloured one-piece. In 2001, Kate was a young History of Art student who wore a see-through black and gold slip dress with a turquoise band as she walked down the runway

Students sip on champagne as they cheer on the models at the infamous fashion show at the historic university

Students sip on champagne as they cheer on the models at the infamous fashion show at the historic university

Students sip on champagne as they cheer on the models at the infamous fashion show at the historic university

Having raised over £550,000 for worthwhile charities over the 22 years, the event continues to push the boundaries of what guests expect from a fashion show

Having raised over £550,000 for worthwhile charities over the 22 years, the event continues to push the boundaries of what guests expect from a fashion show

Having raised over £550,000 for worthwhile charities over the 22 years, the event continues to push the boundaries of what guests expect from a fashion show

Students have fun and pose with friends as they enjoy their university's fashion show where Prince William met Kate almost 20 years ago

Students have fun and pose with friends as they enjoy their university's fashion show where Prince William met Kate almost 20 years ago

Students have fun and pose with friends as they enjoy their university's fashion show where Prince William met Kate almost 20 years ago

Students have fun and pose with friends as they enjoy their university's fashion show where Prince William met Kate almost 20 years ago

Students have fun and pose with friends as they enjoy their university’s fashion show where Prince William first spotted Kate

Models look chic in floor length dresses as they raise money for homeless charity Social Bite

Models look chic in floor length dresses as they raise money for homeless charity Social Bite

Models look chic in floor length dresses as they raise money for homeless charity Social Bite

Two female models look dashing in a frill dress and colourful one-piece as they strut down the catwalk

Two female models look dashing in a frill dress and colourful one-piece as they strut down the catwalk

Two female models look dashing in a frill dress and colourful one-piece as they strut down the catwalk

Two female models look dashing in a frill dress and colourful one-piece as they strut down the catwalk

Two female models look dashing in a feathered dress and a colourful one-piece as they strut down the catwalk

Male models look dapper in suits as they storm the runway during the historic university's famous event

Male models look dapper in suits as they storm the runway during the historic university's famous event

Male models look dapper in suits as they storm the runway during the historic university’s famous event

A group of models smile as they walk down the runway. The fashion event was made famous after Kate Middleton modelled a sheer dress 

A group of models smile as they walk down the runway. The fashion event was made famous after Kate Middleton modelled a sheer dress 

A group of models smile as they walk down the runway. The fashion event was made famous after Kate Middleton modelled a sheer dress 

Malia Obama soaks up the sun in a stylish white bikini on a scorching-hot Miami beach

Barrack and Michelle Obama‘s eldest daughter Malia took time out of her busy school schedule to revel in the sunshine at a beach in Miami on Saturday.

The Harvard student swapped out Massachusetts’ chilly 40 degree temperatures for some southern Florida sunshine with three friends for the President’s Day holiday weekend.

Her British beau Rory Farquharson wasn’t anywhere to be seen, but the former First-Daughter didn’t seem to be too lovesick as she smiled and posed for photos beneath her beach umbrella.

Malia took time out of her busy Harvard schedule to enjoy some southern Florida sunshine over the President's Day holiday weekend

Malia took time out of her busy Harvard schedule to enjoy some southern Florida sunshine over the President's Day holiday weekend

Malia took time out of her busy Harvard schedule to enjoy some southern Florida sunshine over the President’s Day holiday weekend

Dressed in a white bikini, the 20-year-old swapped out Massachusetts' chilly conditions for Miami's 70 degree heat on Saturday 

Dressed in a white bikini, the 20-year-old swapped out Massachusetts' chilly conditions for Miami's 70 degree heat on Saturday 

Dressed in a white bikini, the 20-year-old swapped out Massachusetts’ chilly conditions for Miami’s 70 degree heat on Saturday 

Malia posed for photographs with her pals under the shade of their beach umbrella 

Malia posed for photographs with her pals under the shade of their beach umbrella 

Malia posed for photographs with her pals under the shade of their beach umbrella 

Clad in a stylish white bikini, the 20-year-old held two cold drinks in her hands in the scorching 70 degree heat.

Since her family left the White House, Malia has traveled around Bolivia and Peru, as well as working as an intern at The Winestein Company film studios in New York.

In August, she was pictured snuggling up to her boyfriend of more than a year in a London Underground station, having met at college. 

She commenced her second year at Harvard in the fall, and her younger sister Sasha will soon be heading off to college too.

A coy photograph posted to Sasha’s Instagram story suggested she won’t be following in Malia’s Ivy League footsteps, and is instead set to enroll at the University of Michigan later this year. 

The 20-year-old drank two cold drinks simultaneously to cool herself in the unrelenting heat

The 20-year-old drank two cold drinks simultaneously to cool herself in the unrelenting heat

The 20-year-old drank two cold drinks simultaneously to cool herself in the unrelenting heat

Her English beau Rory Farquharson wasn't anywhere to be seen, but the former First-Daughter didn't seem to be too lovesick

Her English beau Rory Farquharson wasn't anywhere to be seen, but the former First-Daughter didn't seem to be too lovesick

Her English beau Rory Farquharson wasn’t anywhere to be seen, but the former First-Daughter didn’t seem to be too lovesick

The eldest daughter of Barrack and Michelle, Malia has enjoyed her freedom since her family left the White House, embarking on a number of trips

The eldest daughter of Barrack and Michelle, Malia has enjoyed her freedom since her family left the White House, embarking on a number of trips

The eldest daughter of Barrack and Michelle, Malia has enjoyed her freedom since her family left the White House, embarking on a number of trips

Malia will likely return to Massachusetts before the end of the weekend to continue with her second year at Harvard University

Malia will likely return to Massachusetts before the end of the weekend to continue with her second year at Harvard University

Malia will likely return to Massachusetts before the end of the weekend to continue with her second year at Harvard University

Couple sue HS2 for ‘undervaluing their home by £60,000’ in landmark legal case

A couple who believe their home has been grossly undervalued by HS2 are launching a landmark legal case against the company running the controversial rail scheme.

Trevor and Justine Palin say their house is worth at least £60,000 more than HS2 has offered to pay for it under a compulsory purchase order for the proposed line.

The couple are planning to take the company to the High Court in a case which could pave the way for hundreds of other homeowners in a similar situation to take legal action.

Trevor and Justine Palin say they had their 150-year-old cottage in Knutsford, Cheshire, was valued at £485,000 but HS2 offered just £400,000. They decided to begin a crowdfunding appeal to raise money to take HS2 Ltd to a lands tribunal at the High Court

Trevor and Justine Palin say they had their 150-year-old cottage in Knutsford, Cheshire, was valued at £485,000 but HS2 offered just £400,000. They decided to begin a crowdfunding appeal to raise money to take HS2 Ltd to a lands tribunal at the High Court

Trevor and Justine Palin say they had their 150-year-old cottage in Knutsford, Cheshire, was valued at £485,000 but HS2 offered just £400,000. They decided to begin a crowdfunding appeal to raise money to take HS2 Ltd to a lands tribunal at the High Court

The development comes just days after it was reported Ministers are planning to axe the project for high-speed trains between London, Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield because of the spiralling cost.

Already more than £5.5 billion has been spent on the scheme and critics fear that it will eventually exceed the projected £56 billion budget.

The Palins’ 150-year-old cottage, set amid idyllic countryside in Knutsford, Cheshire, is located directly on phase two of the rail line, due to run from Crewe to Manchester. The couple first learned in 2013 that their home was to be demolished as part of the line’s construction.

The Palins say they had it valued at £485,000 but HS2 offered just £400,000.

HS2 has since ‘grudgingly’ raised their offer to £440,000, but Mr Palin, a commercial photographer, says the cottage is now worth at least £500,000. HS2’s compulsory purchase order rules say it should pay what would have been the market value if there had been no scheme plus ten per cent further compensation and expenses.

Mr Palin, 52, said the stress of the six-year battle with HS2 has caused him to have a nervous breakdown and be placed on medication by his doctor. 

He said: ‘We’re not Nimbys, and we appreciate the need for a rail link. HS2 has blocked us at every turn and offered us low valuations.’ 

Business consultant Mrs Palin, 50, said their two teenage children had also suffered because of the situation. She said: ‘The kids should have been having an idyllic upbringing in the country. Instead, they’ve lived under this awful shadow for six years.’

The development comes just days after it was reported Ministers are planning to axe the project for high-speed trains between London, Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield because of the spiralling cost [File photo]

The development comes just days after it was reported Ministers are planning to axe the project for high-speed trains between London, Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield because of the spiralling cost [File photo]

The development comes just days after it was reported Ministers are planning to axe the project for high-speed trains between London, Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield because of the spiralling cost [File photo]

The Palins say HS2 told them their final option was to resort to an ‘alternative dispute resolution’ where an independent panel of experts would determine the worth of the property – but the family would have to cover the £8,000 cost of the process.

They refused and instead decided to begin a crowdfunding appeal to raise money to take HS2 Ltd to a lands tribunal at the High Court.

Last night, the Palins’ solicitor Tony Houghton said: ‘Every single property offer negotiated by HS2, where people are not happy with the valuation, could be re-examined and potentially revalued as result.

‘We could have hundreds of homeowners coming forward.’

An HS2 spokesman said: ‘We are committed to paying fair and reasonable compensation to affected parties, and seek a fair deal for both the claimants and the taxpayer in all cases.’

To assist in the couple’s legal bid, click here: 

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/holding-hs2-to-account/

Victory for the Mail on Sunday as the government pledges £13million in funding to help parks

The Government today pledges a £13 million cash injection to help improve Britain’s parks.

In a victory for The Mail on Sunday’s Save Our Parks Campaign, Communities Secretary James Brokenshire has ordered that funds be made available immediately so that local authorities can buy new play equipment, spruce up tired green spaces and start creating 200 smaller ‘pocket parks’.

Mr Brokenshire said: ‘I want to commend The Mail on Sunday for the campaign to highlight the importance of parks because they are something that certainly matter to me. Our parks are precious and we need to protect them.

Communities Secretary James Brokenshire ordered that funds be made available immediately, but did not commit to ring-fencing the funds, but said it was the responsibility of councils to use funds to ‘deliver services in ways that recognise the importance of parks’ [File photo]

Communities Secretary James Brokenshire ordered that funds be made available immediately, but did not commit to ring-fencing the funds, but said it was the responsibility of councils to use funds to ‘deliver services in ways that recognise the importance of parks’ [File photo]

Communities Secretary James Brokenshire ordered that funds be made available immediately, but did not commit to ring-fencing the funds, but said it was the responsibility of councils to use funds to ‘deliver services in ways that recognise the importance of parks’ [File photo]

‘We will seek to get this funding out quickly to local authorities to give them the boost they need to make improvements to parks.’

Cash-strapped councils have slashed funding for parks by £15 million in the past two years, resulting in play areas being closed at a rate of almost two a week and hundreds of sites being sold off to housing developers.

Thousands of readers, celebrities and MPs have rallied behind our demand for action to stop the destruction and also to improve the maintenance of surviving parks.

Mr Brokenshire refused to commit to the ring-fencing of funds to force local authorities to spend at least £30 per household each year looking after green spaces. 

Thousands of readers, celebrities and MPs have rallied behind our demand for action to stop the destruction and also to improve the maintenance of surviving parks [File photo]

Thousands of readers, celebrities and MPs have rallied behind our demand for action to stop the destruction and also to improve the maintenance of surviving parks [File photo]

Thousands of readers, celebrities and MPs have rallied behind our demand for action to stop the destruction and also to improve the maintenance of surviving parks [File photo]

Instead, he said it was the responsibility of councils to use funds to ‘deliver services in ways that recognise the importance of parks’.

The £13 million package includes £9.7 million to ‘maintain, protect and increase recreational spaces’ and £1.2 million for a project by the National Trust and the National Lottery Heritage Fund to foster ideas on how to better fund parks.

The Government’s ‘pocket parks’ programme, which seeks to create hundreds of new small parks around the country, will get a further £2.75 million.

Campaigners welcomed the cash boost but also urged Ministers to go further. 

 

Chris Worman, who advises the Government’s Parks Action Group, said: ‘Without the Save Our Parks campaign I don’t think we would have got this far.’

Allison Ogden-Newton, chief executive of Keep Britain Tidy, said: ‘While this money is welcome, we need to look at ways to ensure that our parks get the investment they need year in, year out.’

Alison McCann, of Fields In Trust, a charity that works to protect green spaces from developers, said: ‘This funding will go some way to maintaining and improving the parks most in need. While the direction of travel is positive, there is still a concern that parks without legal protection are vulnerable to disposal for development.’

And Dave Morris, chairman of the National Federation Of Parks And Green Spaces, added: ‘The Government is finally waking up to the funding crisis.’

We must guard our green spaces– and this cash is just the start

By James Brokenshire

Communities Secretary 

Whether you use a park or not, nearly all of us can recognise their importance.

For millions, they are a gateway to the great outdoors, a place to go for a jog, to walk the dog or simply grab a moment away from the hustle and bustle of modern life.

I’ve been following The Mail on Sunday’s spirited campaign with keen interest and the passionate debate that it has rightly generated. And I want to assure readers that I share this passion.

Parks strengthen our communities and make areas more attractive places in which to live and work. They are communal spaces in which we can be together with friends, but also alone with our thoughts.

As such, no one wants to see much-loved green spaces fall into disrepair, playgrounds shut or be judged no-go areas.

Quite rightly, spending on our parks is a decision for local leaders, but where they have prioritised park protection, and indeed expansion, they have found the funds to do so.

The Orchard park in Bath is pictured after a revamp when a local organisation, Bath Recreation Ltd, stepped in to offer support. Community efforts helped raise £2,500 towards the new playground, which opened in the summer

The Orchard park in Bath is pictured after a revamp when a local organisation, Bath Recreation Ltd, stepped in to offer support. Community efforts helped raise £2,500 towards the new playground, which opened in the summer

The Orchard park in Bath is pictured after a revamp when a local organisation, Bath Recreation Ltd, stepped in to offer support. Community efforts helped raise £2,500 towards the new playground, which opened in the summer

We recognise that councils continue to face tough decisions. Last week, I confirmed their budgets will rise by £1.3 billion this year and we’ve also given local leaders more control over the money they raise and spend. 

One of the key demands of the Save Our Parks campaign has been for more dedicated Government funding to help those sites most at risk. And I have listened. Today I’m pleased to announce further funding of more than £13 million for parks and playgrounds.

Parks are an invaluable public asset. The new funding will make a big difference, but is only the start of what I hope will be a new conversation – one that focuses on how parks can add even more value to our towns, cities and communities.

Get the Peppa spray! ‘Security fears’ as toddler fans rush the stage at Peppa Pig show

A horde of Peppa Pig fans sparked security concerns after invading the stage at a musical.  

Children were held back by staff as they stormed the stage at the opening night performance of Peppa Pig: My First Concert at the Southbank Centre in London on Friday.

But one tactful toddler managed to slip by and hug the popular cartoon hog, the Sun reported. 

The chaos unfolded during the performance of the song Jumping in Muddy Puddles.

Peppa Pig first aired on May 31, 2004 and has become an international phenomenon

Peppa Pig first aired on May 31, 2004 and has become an international phenomenon

Peppa Pig first aired on May 31, 2004 and has become an international phenomenon

The popular cartoon has 254 episodes of the children's cartoon spanning five seasons

The popular cartoon has 254 episodes of the children's cartoon spanning five seasons

The popular cartoon has 254 episodes of the children’s cartoon spanning five seasons

One parent said: ‘It was lovely to see the enthusiasm of the little ones but things could have turned ugly.

‘Peppa sparked pandemonium. There was all sorts of electronics on the stage but fortunately everyone was safe.’ 

Peppa Pig first aired on May 31, 2004 and has become an international phenomenon – with 254 episodes of the children’s cartoon spanning five seasons. 

The musical, Peppa Pig: My First Concert, is an hour-long performance which features ‘everyone’s favourite Pig family’ learning how to conduct an orchestra.

According to Southbank Centre website: ‘Your little piggies can join in with Peppa and her family, and make their very own Oinkestra!’