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Etonians revolt over sacked teacher who questioned 'toxic masculinity'

800 Etonians revolt after teacher is sacked for questioning radical feminist dogma on ‘toxic masculinity’ as war on woke hits Britain’s top school

  • Will Knowland taught English at £42,500-a-year Berkshire school for nine years
  • Mr Knowland said he was dismissed over a lesson titled ‘The Patriarchy Paradox’
  • It was made as a virtual lecture to be put on the intranet – but it was never aired
  • Headmaster Simon Henderson dismissed Mr Knowland for gross misconduct 

It’s said that the Battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton. Two centuries later, Britain’s most venerable school has become a battleground in the War on Woke.

On one side is English teacher Will Knowland, who was fired after standing up for his belief that students need to hear a broad range of opinions.

On the other is headmaster Simon Henderson, who sacked him for gross misconduct amid the fallout from a lecture about the nature of masculinity.

Hundreds of pupils and members of the wider Eton community have now accused the school of hypocrisy, cruelty and a ‘complete lack of backbone’, and asked if Eton was ‘protecting its new image as politically progressive at the expense of one of its own’.

Will Knowland, who taught English at the £42,500-a-year school in Berkshire for nine years, said he was dismissed over a lesson titled ‘The Patriarchy Paradox’

In a petition supporting Mr Knowland, they say: ‘Young men and their views are formed in the meeting and conflict of ideas… which necessarily entails controversy and spirited discussion.’

Mr Knowland, they add, ‘is loved by all who have encountered him’ and the students ‘feel morally bound not to be bystanders in what appears to be an instance of institutional bullying’.

It’s a plea of such erudition that any English teacher, not just one in a politically correct pickle, would be delighted to know his students had written. It may not, however, be sufficient to save him.

‘Eton has been here for almost 600 years,’ said one source close to the conflict. ‘And this is a battle for its very soul. Cancel culture has arrived with cult groupthink reaching right into the heart of the school. It’s meant to be a bastion of learning and free speech. George Orwell went to Eton. What would he think? 1984 was meant to be satire, not a how-to manual.’

Mr Knowland’s sin was to question the current radical feminist orthodoxy. In September, he created an online lecture called The Patriarchy Paradox examining the prevailing idea of ‘toxic masculinity’.

In it, he argues that science and history offer evidence that masculine virtues such as strength and courage can be beneficial to women, the family and society.

A niche, knuckle-dragging opinion? Hardly. While it might be considered provocative to some, it is part of mainstream thinking. Mr Knowland believed Eton’s boys had the right to balance in a curriculum he felt had become dangerously skewed.

‘Suicide is the biggest killer of young men and I suspect this jaundiced view of masculinity currently so fashionable, is partly responsible,’ he wrote privately to colleagues after his shock dismissal.

Eton’s headmaster Simon Henderson sacked Mr Knowland for gross misconduct amid the fallout from a lecture about the nature of masculinity

One member of staff complained about the lecture, alleging it amounted to harassment in the workplace and was illegal under the Equality Act. (It’s not). That person was said to be particularly upset that Mr Knowland was asking students to consider the idea that a world without any men in it might be worse for women. The head sided with the complainant.

There could hardly be a better example of how the toxic diversity rows which have riven Britain’s higher education institutions are now heading for the country’s high schools and not just Eton, which has educated 20 British Prime Ministers and the Duke of Cambridge.

For Mr Knowland, those battles are no longer theoretical but a harsh reality. He is a father of five children, one of whom is disabled. He and his wife Rachel live in a grace-and-favour detached four-bedroom house owned by Eton. If he fails to win back his job on appeal next month, they will be homeless.

Nor does he have the kind of family fortune enjoyed by the majority of pupils at the £42,500-a-year school to soften his fall. He is from a modest background, educated at an independent school on a 100 per cent bursary.

Wife Rachel was a similarly gifted student, on the same kind of fully paid for place. Said to be soulmates, they have been together since they were 14. She glimpsed stardom as a singer eight years ago when she made it to the semi-finals of Britain’s Got Talent and was told by Simon Cowell: ‘You could have a really good career in this business…’

Instead she chose a life out of the spotlight, leaving Knowland the family breadwinner. Now they have everything to lose, including Mr Knowland’s future as a teacher, if he is ultimately censured by his professional body the Teaching Regulation Agency, as the headmaster has threatened.

Mr Knowland and his wife Rachel, pictured, live in a grace-and-favour detached four-bedroom house owned by Eton. If he fails to win back his job on appeal next month, they will be homeless

‘The headmaster felt some of the ideas put forward – such as the view that men and women differ psychologically and not all of those differences are socially constructed – were too dangerous for the boys to be exposed to,’ Mr Knowland wrote to his colleagues.

‘At Eton… we have always prioritised open, rigorous, discussion over concepts like ‘safe space’, ‘trigger warnings’, and ‘micro-aggressions’. I am concerned the college is in danger of succumbing to an educational trend that prioritises emotional safety over intellectual challenge. That’s why I staked my career on my belief in freedom of speech.’

But, he acknowledges: ‘They have the power to stop me setting foot in a classroom again. If that happens, I’m not sure how I will make a living.’

What, then, of the half-hour lecture that proved so controversial it cost him his job? Mr Knowland was in no doubt that it might become a talking point. Two and a half minutes in, he warns it might bruise some people’s feelings.

The video turns out to be a thicket of academic citations, with more than 40 references to other writers and thinkers.

It deftly weaves in contemporary cultural references to the likes of Sarah Jessica Parker in Sex And The City and Gerard Butler’s sweaty, bronzed Hollywood portrayal of Spartan King Leonidas.

It’s got everything from the classics to chick-lit, and from Nobel prize winning theories to cartoons. The Etonians who signed the letter conclude: ‘The common opinion is that Mr Knowland presented the ideas in his video with as much academic nuance and sensitivity as could reasonably be expected. His video is arguably a model for how to convey a contentious argument impeccably.

The lecture, created online because of the Covid crisis, was written for Eton’s Perspectives curriculum, introducing older boys to issues which are the subject of fierce public debate (file photo of Eton College)

‘We struggle to identify where Mr Knowland’s video steps out of the realms of academic debate and into genuinely discriminatory private opinion.’

The lecture, created online because of the Covid crisis, was written for Eton’s Perspectives curriculum, introducing older boys to issues which are the subject of fierce public debate. Mr Knowland uploaded it to the school intranet, and sent a link to the head of Perspectives (who has now resigned from the role) before it was circulated to all Perspectives teachers.

After that solitary complaint, Mr Knowland agreed to withdraw it before it was made available to pupils. Crucially though, he declined to take it down from his personal YouTube channel – Knowland Knows – which he runs with the permission of Eton.

The channel carries two very clear disclaimers: ‘The statements and opinions on this channel are not necessarily agreed or authorised by Eton College… and because of the nature of interpretation and discussion in English literature, the statements and opinions aren’t necessarily my own either.’

In his letter to colleagues, Mr Knowland says: ‘Because I believe passionately in free speech, I said I would only take it down [from YouTube] if given a clear reason, which is how I ended up being dismissed.’

‘He was treated in a very high handed, vindictive and aggressive way,’ says the Eton insider. ‘Will Knowland essentially challenged this woke ethos the head and some of his colleagues are trying to embed in the school. They seem to have got it into their heads that Eton has to be trying harder than anyone else to look progressive, but they’re over-compensating.

‘The head seems to think, misguidedly, that if it gets out that Eton is teaching a course saying masculinity isn’t toxic, it will be used by a woke mob to criticise the school, that they’ll be accused of upholding the patriarchy.’

Until his confrontation with the head, it appears Knowland had enjoyed a harmonious relationship with senior colleagues. Now he finds himself banished to Eton’s shadowlands, even as the number of signatories to the pupil petition for his reinstatement rose to more than 1,000 last night and donations to the fighting fund for his legal expenses approached £12,000.

Whatever happens, the aftermath is going to be tricky for headteacher Simon Henderson who was yesterday obliged to reassure parents about this ‘difficult and emotive issue’ (file photo)

Eton is committed to diversity. At the height of the Black Lives Matter protests in the summer, the school announced it would be ‘decolonising’ its curriculum. Boys are shown a film about a trans man who conceived and gave birth, and the school hosts workshops run by a gender equality charity.

So perhaps Mr Knowland should not have been as surprised as he was at the reaction to his lecture.

His appeal will be heard on Founder’s Day, December 8, by a panel chaired by former Cabinet Minister Lord Waldegrave, himself an Old Etonian. Mr Knowland will have the support of the Free Speech Union, whose founder Toby Young said: ‘This is a landmark case.

‘Schools must be places where children are taught all sides of these big questions and allowed to make up their own minds, not indoctrinated with the latest political orthodoxy.’

Whatever happens, the aftermath is going to be tricky for Simon Henderson who was yesterday obliged to reassure parents about this ‘difficult and emotive issue’.

‘We are limited in what we can say at the moment, given that a disciplinary process is ongoing,’ he wrote in a message.

‘Mr Knowland has chosen to publicise his version of events in advance of the disciplinary panel to which he has appealed. So as to be fair to all parties, the school cannot provide substantive comment before a final decision is reached. I appreciate that a lack of information is frustrating and leads to increased speculation, however the school needs to respect the integrity of the process.’

He must be anxious about the passionate response of the pupils. One, from a seven-generation family of Etonians, has asked him to resign and gossip yesterday suggested posters demanding the same could go up around Eton’s quad.

Then there’s that devastating letter from the boys which speaks of ‘very grave implications about the nature of freedom in this school and the moral stature of those in charge.’ It refers to the head’s order to remove the lecture from public view as a ‘capricious request,’ and urges Lord Waldegrave to overrule him ‘in favour of freedom of thought and expression’.

Mr Knowland, meanwhile, is longing to return to Eton and doesn’t see why he can’t.

He writes: ‘Respect for Eton – its past present and future – means upholding its traditions of discussion, argument and persuasion and eschewing the culture of intolerance that has swept through other institutions.

‘As Hailz Osborne [the school’s head of inclusion education] has said, in promoting diversity, which includes intellectual diversity, ‘the challenge is to enable people to say uncomfortable things’.’

It’s a challenge the college appears to have flunked.

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Labour calls for the Government to bring in MI5 to hunt 'chatty rat'

Labour demands the Government bring in MI5 to hunt for the ‘chatty rat’ mole who ‘bounced’ Boris Johnson into a second lockdown

  • Plans for England’s second lockdown were leaked on Friday following a meeting with just four Cabinet Ministers, forcing No10 to make an announcement
  • It sparked claims that a Minister or adviser – dubbed ‘chatty rat’ – was responsible
  • Shadow Security Minister Conor McGinn called for the government to act

Labour last night demanded to know if MI5 had been brought in by the Government in the hunt for the ‘chatty rat’ mole who ‘bounced’ Boris Johnson into a second lockdown.

Shadow Security Minister Conor McGinn wrote a letter to his Tory counterpart James Brokenshire asking him to ‘confirm whether security services resources could, or have been, deployed to help identify the source of this leak’.

He said that given the ‘considerable distress and confusion’ caused by the leak and the ‘clear security implications’, the Government should work ‘on a cross-party basis to help identify those responsible’.

Boris Johnson, pictured on November 10, is being urged to call in the police to identify the so-called ‘Chatty Rat’ who potentially risked lives by leaking plans for the second Covid lockdown

Plans for England’s second lockdown were leaked on a Friday night after a meeting attended by just four Cabinet Ministers, which led to an extraordinary scramble at No10 to arrange a special Saturday press conference to make the announcement.

It sparked claims that a Minister, or adviser – dubbed a ‘chatty rat’ by a senior Government source – had revealed the plans to bounce Boris into the shutdown.

Two Ministers who attended the briefing, Michael Gove and Matt Hancock, were ordered to surrender their phones, although both denied any wrongdoing. Suggestions that former No 10 advisers Dominic Cummings and Lee Cain were involved have also been denied.

Shadow Security Minister Conor McGinn, pictured, wrote a letter to his Tory counterpart James Brokenshire asking him to ‘confirm whether security services resources could, or have been, deployed to help identify the source of this leak’

In his letter, Mr McGinn says: ‘As you will be aware, alongside causing considerable distress and confusion for people, there are clear security implications regarding this leak. 

‘If it is possible for the most sensitive information, of national importance, to be released improperly, there are clear concerns regarding what other, potentially damaging, information can be leaked.’

Last night, Mr McGinn told The Mail on Sunday: ‘The leaking of the plans for a national lockdown could not be a more serious breach. These were highly sensitive plans, held in very few hands. 

‘It raises serious questions about security and propriety at the heart of Government. We must now use every tool available to uncover the source and take appropriate firm action.’

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Critics claim experts ignored their advice on well-aired restaurants

Critics claim scientific experts ignored their own advice that infection risk is low in well-aired restaurants

  • An advisory paper on the importance of ventilation was published in September 
  • It looked in particular at ‘aerosol transmission’ where virus is in water droplets 
  • However pubs and restaurants ordered to close anyway, critics have claimed 

Government scientists ignored their own findings on ‘low’ Covid infection rates – and ordered pubs and restaurants to close anyway, critics claimed last night.

An advisory paper on the importance of ventilation in reducing the risk of infection in enclosed spaces was published in September.

It looked in particular at ‘aerosol transmission’ – infections due to virus particles contained in tiny droplets of water that are carried a distance in the air when exhaled.

The paper, by experts at the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies’ Environmental and Monitoring Group (SAGE-EMG), found there was ‘currently no evidence’ for infecting someone more than two metres away from the spreader in well ventilated spaces.

Government scientists ignored their own findings on ‘low’ Covid infection rates – and ordered pubs and restaurants to close anyway, critics claimed last night

It added: ‘In most settings the risk of aerosol transmission is likely to be low if the ventilation rate achieves current design standards. For most workplaces and public environments, this equates to a flow rate [of air] of 8-10 litres per second per person.’

Building regulations going back to 2005 state that enclosed public places – which include pubs and restaurants – must have ventilation systems that provide an air flow rate of at least 10 litres per second. 

Hugo Osmond, founder of Punch Taverns, who now runs the Coppa Club at Tower Bridge in London, last night argued that the SAGE-EMG paper meant restaurants ‘by nature of their ventilation would qualify as safe’.

He added: ‘Every restaurant that has used a reputable ventilation company will have a system installed that delivers 10 litres per person per second.’ 

Mr Osmond, who studied medicine, said restaurants and pubs had been castigated as potential ‘super-spreader’ hubs, due mainly to the potential risk of aerosol transmission, ‘but this would appear to be contradicted by SAGE’s own paper’.

The document led to public advice to open windows regularly – but its other findings were not highlighted. Kate Nicholls, chief executive of Hospitality UK, said: ‘I’d estimate 80 per cent of pubs and restaurants, and close to 100 per cent of hotels and indoor leisure facilities, meet the ventilation standards.’

A Government spokesman said last night: ‘Unfortunately we know that the virus spreads readily in any indoor environment where members of different households or support bubbles spend time together. These restrictions do not single out restaurants and pubs but apply to a wide range of settings where the risk of transmission is high.’

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Second victim dead after Black Friday shooting in Sacramento mall

A second person has died after a Black Friday mall shooting in California.

One victim, a 19-year-old man, died at the Arden Fair Mall and another man, who was 17, was taken to a local hospital where he died, the Sacramento Police Department said Saturday.

Police said they were called to the shopping center at 6:11 p.m. Friday after getting a report of shots fired. The shootings were believed to be an isolated incident and police said they were looking for a suspect who was in his 20s.

The victims have not been identified.

“We are deeply concerned by the increase in gun violence in Sacramento and other cities during the pandemic, and have supported increasing our efforts to reach young people at risk,” Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg tweeted Friday night. “A gun is never the answer.”

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James Bulger killer Jon Venables racked up £25k legal aid bill for court cases

JAMES Bulger killer Jon Venables racked up a £25,000 legal aid bill for two recent court cases — most of it over charges he admitted.

His lawyers received £17,000 after he was caught with child abuse images.

The paedo, 38, was also given ­taxpayer-funded legal representation to keep his new name secret.

He had already been granted nearly £260,000 over the years for his lawyers’ fees in a string of legal claims.

Venables and Robert Thompson, both ten at the time, abducted two-year-old James in Bootle, Merseyside, in 1993 before torturing and killing him.

Both were freed from prison with new identities in 2001 but Venables was sent back in 2010 for having child abuse images on his computer.

He was released in 2013 before being jailed again for 40 months after admitting the same offence in 2018 — when awarded the £17,000 legal aid for a barrister and solicitor at the Old Bailey.

And he received £8,000 last year when he defended an application for his new name to be made public.

James’s family have not had any legal aid when fighting to keep him behind bars.

A source said: “Many lawyers will defend these costs as right and fair for the course of justice but the general public and the taxpayer will be appalled.”

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The naughty night Wills & Kate kissed and made up

The naughty night Wills & Kate kissed and made up: The Prince wore hot pants and a policeman’s helmet, she dressed in fishnets and a nurse’s uniform… no wonder her ‘look what you’re missing’ strategy came to fruition

To mark ten years since their engagement, we are running a major series on the compelling rollercoaster story of how William and Kate got together. Last week, we told how, after dating for four years, they split up – with William dumping her in a phone call to her office. Here, in the final part, with new insights, we chart how they rebuilt their relationship which many believe has helped save the Monarchy… 

The Royal love affair – between a future King and a coal-miner’s great-great-granddaughter – had gripped the nation, but it was over. Prince William, still troubled by his parents’ toxic divorce, had got cold feet over marrying his university sweetheart Kate Middleton.

In April 2007, weighed down by the millstone of anticipation from the public and Palace officials alike for an engagement announcement, he had called time on their four-year courtship.

Kate Middleton, pictured, was wearing a 1970s-style sequin dress and a huge sparkling ring on a night out in Mahiki nightclub 

During the time she and Prince William had split, she was seen in Mahiki with Henry Ropner

Kate was also seen leaving Mahiki with friends including Charles Morshead

The 24-year-old Blues and Royals officer felt he was too young to settle down.

Kate, five months his senior, was devastated. But not for nothing is the motto of the Scottish Middleton clan Fortis In Arduis (Brave In Difficulties).

Instead of moping, Kate, 25, kept herself busy while her family rallied round.

Mum Carole whisked her History of Art graduate eldest daughter to Dublin to support an artist friend at the private champagne opening of her exhibition and to visit the National Gallery of Ireland.

William celebrated their break-up very differently – with a trip to his favourite nightclub, Mahiki, in Central London. The venue’s co-founder had said of his club: ‘It brings together different worlds: it’s Kensington meets Essex. Somehow, these tribes work well together. Because one thing all Brits have is a sense of fun.’

The news of the couple’s split was not yet public, but those around William had a good notion of what was going on when he leapt on to a table, shouting: ‘I’m free!’

He then slipped into his version of the ‘robot dance’ – which, at the time, footballer Peter Crouch had made popular as a goal celebration – and suggested to his friends that they ‘drink the menu’. News of his split from Kate broke next day.

On a trip to Dublin in April 2007, Kate was photographed on Grafton Street with her mother Carole

Kate even dressed up with Bunny ears during a night out at Kitts in Sloan Square 

Kate was determined to put on a brave face. To help take her mind off her heartbreak, she signed up for a charity challenge with an all-female dragon boat crew through her school friend Alicia Fox-Pitt. Called the Sisterhood, they described themselves as ‘an elite group of female athletes, talented in many ways, toned to perfection with killer looks, on a mission to keep boldly going where no girl has gone before’. The 21 girls aimed to row across the English Channel to raise money for children’s hospices.

Fired by sisterly camaraderie and no longer inhibited by the protocol and weighty baggage of being a Prince’s girlfriend, Kate also accepted several invitations to social events and, in public at least, appeared more vibrant than she had been for some time. It was this new freedom that led many to comment that she had devised a ‘Just Look What You Are Missing’ strategy towards William.

She was joined in her London flat by her sister Pippa, who had just finished university. Spray-tanned and blow-dried, the pair together attended a series of upmarket social events such as the launch party for chum and author Simon Sebag Montefiore’s book Young Stalin. Kate was adamant that people should not see the hurt she was hiding inside.

April and May saw numerous nights out to venues where she had previously been a regular with William. Mischievously, she attended a party to promote a film about women obsessed with a brand of sex toy called Rabbit Fever.

Her choice of clothes sent subtle messages, too. Gone were frumpy tweeds, replaced by a slinky off-the-shoulder top and silky skirt displaying a bare midriff with a caramel tan. At the party, she even put on a pair of pink, silk bunny ears – and, as a fellow guest observed, ‘teased all the boys’. She vowed to ‘live life to the max’ and was seen out with William’s friend Guy Pelly and on the arm of eligible young men such as Charles Morshead and Henry Ropner.

Morshead, then 25, was a friend of William who insisted: ‘I was just being a friend to her. I’m not her boyfriend. She doesn’t have one at the moment.’

Shipping heir Ropner had dated William’s ex-girlfriend Jecca Craig at Edinburgh University, and the Prince was said to have comforted Jecca when she split from Ropner. Friends said the ‘tables were now turned’, with Ropner escorting Kate. Meanwhile, training with the Sisterhood became a welcome distraction for Kate, with 6.30am starts on the Thames. Fellow rower Emma Sayle recalled: ‘Kate was very down and I think the training became her therapy. She had always put William first and she said this was a chance to do something for herself.’

Indeed, years later, Kate herself confirmed that this period apart from William was very valuable mentally. She said: ‘At the time, I wasn’t very happy about it, but it made me a stronger person. You find out things about yourself that maybe you hadn’t realised.

‘I think you can get quite consumed by a relationship when you’re younger. I really valued that time for me as well, although I didn’t think it at the time!’

For his part, it wasn’t long before William was having second thoughts. Mindful, perhaps, of his father’s decision in his 20s not to marry his early love Camilla Shand, William did not want to make a similar mistake. But he still had to win Kate back.

He had broken her heart and she understandably wanted to ensure that if they got back together, it would be for the right reasons.

She was still emotionally tender when she took a holiday in Ibiza with her brother James and friends, including Marlborough classmate Emilia d’Erlanger. They stayed at Carole Middleton’s brother’s villa.

His wife noticed that Kate spent a lot of time on the phone and suspected it was to William.

For the Prince, June 2007 marked a pivotal point in his life.

Both Kate and William had been invited by their jockey friend Sam Waley-Cohen to a party at his family’s 17th Century manor house. Arriving separately, they spent hours locked in deep conversation, William trying to persuade her to give him another chance.

Some days later, she attended another party, at his barracks to celebrate the end of his training. Her mind was made up.

The theme was ‘Freakin’ Naughty’ and William wore hot pants and a policeman’s helmet, while Kate dressed as a naughty nurse in fishnet tights and a short dress.

Prince William was photographed leaving Mahiki nightclub in London after an enjoyable night on April 14, 2007

Tastelessly, there were blow-up dolls hanging from the ceiling and sexy waitresses serving lethal cocktails. Outside was a bouncy castle and plunge pool, but William and Kate stuck to the dancefloor, and that night, she stayed at his barracks. William said later about the period of their break-up: ‘We were both very young… we were both finding ourselves and being different characters. It was very much trying to find our own way and we were growing up, so it was just a bit of space and it worked out for the better.’

They tried not to make their rapprochement too obvious, but on July 7, William and Harry attended a tribute concert at Wembley Stadium in front of 63,000 people marking the tenth anniversary of Princess Diana’s death and what would have been her 46th birthday. Harry sat next to his then girlfriend Chelsy Davy, while William was beside his best friend Thomas van Straubenzee. Two rows back was Kate with her brother James.

The concert rocked to the sounds of Take That, Elton John, Rod Stewart and Duran Duran. As the rapper P. Diddy sang I’ll Be Missing You, it seemed that both William and Kate were done with break-ups and make-ups. They wanted to be together for ever.

At a post-concert party to thank the performers, they danced to one of their favourite tracks, the Bodyrockers’ hit I Like The Way You Move, before finding a corner – lit by candles and scattered with rose petals – to sip mojitos, kiss and whisper in each other’s ears.

A few weeks later they were together again for Camilla’s 60th birthday party at Highgrove.

Kate had been smuggled in to avoid publicity, but once inside, the pair enjoyed the glow of this new honeymoon period. Kate wore a long cream dress and sipped champagne as William mouthed the words of ‘It Had To Be You’ to her.

One downside to their reunion was that she felt obliged to pull out of the race with the Sisterhood. She was frustrated at being unable to complete the challenge but she had succeeded in pulling off a much bigger challenge. Her ‘Just Look What You Are Missing’ strategy had paid off.

The couple now had a lot to discuss, and lost time to make up for.

In September, they flew to the Seychelles in the Indian Ocean, staying at the Desroches Island Resort, having checked in under the names Martin and Rosemary Middleton. Unnoticed, they kayaked and snorkelled in the coral reef. At night, they relaxed over candlelit beach suppers.

It was during this trip that they made an agreement. They would definitely get married, but for the next few years they would work and enjoy the rest of their 20s.

Kate had been insistent she would not reignite their relationship without such a formal understanding. Yet was William really convinced?

Exclusive new Mail on Sunday photos published at the start of our series show William partying hard at a London club one Friday night at the end of September 2007.

On another night, Prince William posed with Ana Ferreira, left, at Elements in Bournemouth 

He was with his Army pals, ‘waving off’ Blues and Royals colleagues ahead of a foreign tour. After drinking in a private room ringed by banquettes with fellow officers in their off-duty uniform of jeans, stripey shirts and brown shoes, William took to the dancefloor at about 1am. He roared with approval when 50 Cent’s In Da Club boomed out with its lyrics ‘We gon’ party like it’s your birthday’.

An onlooker told the MoS that the Prince, fuelled by vodka and tonics, and tequila and sambuca shots, ‘started dancing with a big group of boys. At one point they all put their arms round each other and did a big group hug in the middle of the dancefloor.

‘It was bizarre: part ballroom dancing, part jumping up and down with odd hand movements – like a style particular to Sloanes.’

William then danced with a couple of girls, including one of the waitresses who spoke Spanish.

The onlooker told the MoS: ‘William then started dancing with a blonde in heels and a black corset which was saucily laced up at the back. He was twirling her around and doing almost salsa with her.

‘He had his hands on her waist and bottom.’

In hindsight, it seems that that wild night at the now-closed K Bar at the wrong end of the Fulham Road was Prince William’s last hurrah as a single man.

Duty – and true love – beckoned.

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Senate Republicans, eyeing 2024, look to derail Joe Biden’s cabinet nominees

Ambitious Senate Republicans are taking potshots at President-elect Joe Biden’s cabinet choices — setting up the potential for bruising confirmation battles in the early days of the new administration.

“What a group of corporatists and war enthusiasts – and #BigTech sellouts,” Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Missouri) snarked on Twitter this week, after Biden introduced his picks for diplomatic and security positions.

Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton, an influential member of the Senate Intelligence and Armed Services Committees, piled on.

“Sounds a lot like a return of the Obama administration’s foreign policy, and that foreign policy had disastrous consequences for our nation,” Cotton told Fox News Wednesday, singling out Homeland Security Secretary-in-waiting Alejandro Mayorkas as a particular target.

All of Biden’s initial nominees — including Mayorkas, Antony Blinken for secretary of state, and Jake Sullivan for White House national security adviser — had high-powered roles in the last Democratic administration.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) slammed the group as “orderly caretakers of America’s decline” in a fiery tweet.

“I support American greatness,” Rubio added. “And I have no interest in returning to the ‘normal’ that left us dependent on China.”

All three senators are already jockeying for position in the GOP’s 2024 presidential nomination race, a Politico/Morning Consult poll found last week — but far behind President Trump, who retains the support of a majority of Republicans.

Still, a series of Senate nomination fights will give the hopefuls a tempting stage, The Hill reported.

“What they’re doing right now is picking their niche issues,” GOP strategist Ryan James Gidursky told The Post.

“The issue that Josh Hawley is the most Trump-y on is big tech issues, so he’s speaking about that,” Gidursky said. “For Tom Cotton, it’s immigration.”

Cotton’s criticism of Mayorkas centered on his involvement in a 2012 scheme to give green cards to politically connected Chinese nationals that was criticized by the DHS inspector general in 2015. “That is disqualifying to lead the Department of Homeland Security,” Cotton said.

Hawley singled out Blinken, who has “backed every endless war since the Iraq invasion,” the senator tweeted. “Now he works for #BigTech and helps companies break into #China.”

“They all have reasonable concerns,” Gidursky said.

But while the US Constitution provides that the Senate must give its “advice and consent” to a president’s top nominees, legislators traditionally give great leeway to the incoming commander-in-chief — even when the executive branch is in the opposing party’s hands.

“The Senate really never defeats someone unless they have a big issue,” Gidursky said.

“If they were serious about trying to defeat one of these nominations, they would pick one and all focus around it,” he added. “The fact that they are dividing their attention makes it look like they are just going after niche issues for the base.”

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Cops search for double homicide suspect who ‘killed pregnant woman and her brother and abducted a 1-year-old boy’

POLICE are seeking a man accused of killing the mother of his child and her brother and kidnapping their one-year-old boy in Chicago. 

Clarence Hebron, 32, allegedly killed Jessica Abeal, 26, and her brother Damien Abeal, 27, before abducting their young son K’Marion P Hebron on Friday, Fox 32 Chicago reported.

Jessica Abeal was pregnant, according to the TV station.

The one-year-old boy was kidnapped on Friday morning around the 14200 block of South Tracy Avenue, according to police in Chicago’s Riverdale neighborhood. 

An Amber Alert was issued for the kidnapping, before K’Marion Hebron was dropped off unharmed at a police station on Friday evening, Illinois State Police said. 

Police are looking for Clarence Hebron in connection with the double homicide of the Abeals, whom police found murdered on Friday morning.

“At first it was Jessica, and I found out she was dead,” her cousin Ruby Bolden told NBC 5 Chicago. 

“Then it was Damien too. I hope they catch him, because this was really wrong. They didn’t deserve this.”

Clarence Hebron had been released from prison after being charged in multiple crimes including allegedly crashing into another vehicle in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood in 2019 and fleeing at a traffic stop where a woman was killed.

He was charged with driving with a revoked licenses causing a death and reckless driving, according to CBS 2 Chicago.

The Abeal family had gathered together for Thanksgiving at a home in Riverdale and Damien Abeal had stayed overnight, according to the TV station.

Police have not released details on how the Abeals died, or when Clarence Hebron allegedly entered the home. 

Clarence Hebron is described as 5-feet-4-inches tall, weighing 135 pounds and with black hair and brown eyes. 

He may be driving a 2009 silver Dodge Caravan with the license plate CA96676.

Anyone with information on Clarence Hebron is urged to call 911.

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Evil Mariead Philpott who killed her 6 kids freed after serving 8½ years

A MUM who killed her six children has been freed after serving just half of her 17-year jail term.

The release of Mairead Philpott, 39, sparked fury — with crime prevention campaigners saying: “Justice has not been done.”

Philpott’s kids died in an arson attack she and husband Mick plotted at their Derby home in 2012.

She tasted freedom yesterday after serving only 8½ years for manslaughter.

Last night David Spencer, of the Centre for Crime Prevention, said: “It makes an absolute mockery of the UK’s criminal justice system. Justice has not been done.

“Child killers like Mairead Philpott should not be free to roam the streets.

"She has served barely more than a year for each of the six innocent lives she callously took away.

“She is back on the streets while the taxpayer coughs up for her to get a new identity, protection, ­counselling and a place to live.

“The Home Secretary has promised a review of sentencing. This needs to be delivered urgently to ensure killers like Philpott serve the long sentences their horrific crimes deserve.”

Child killers like Mairead Philpott should not be free to roam the streets.

Tory MP for mid-Derbyshire Pauline Latham added: “Mairead Philpott should be serving a whole life sentence instead of being freed halfway through it.”

She described the crime as “horrifying” and said that “it will never, ever be forgotten in Derby”.

Last night, Philpott’s mother Vera, 62 — who has cut contact with Mairead — said she was appalled her daughter had been released so early.

Speaking at her home in Derby — less than a mile from where her grandchildren died — she said: “I don’t want her near my door.

“The sentence is not nearly long enough and we disown her after what she’s done.”

Twisted Philpott was freed from HMP Send in Surrey on the first day she was eligible to be released on licence.

A source said: “They launched a massive operation to make sure she was safe and not seen.

“Her convoy was like one given to a celebrity rather than a mum who killed her six children.

“Heaven knows how much it all cost, and it all seemed a bit much at a time of tight budgets.”

The sentence is not nearly long enough and we disown her after what she’s done.

Philpott was driven in an Audi Q3 as part of a convoy to a halfway house.

She was escorted by plain-clothes police as she was ushered into a 20-bed hostel.

The killer had a yellow parka-style jacket’s hood pulled over her head and was wearing a mask and clutching official paperwork.

Hostel staff and cops carried in her belongings, including in a see-through prison bag containing toiletries, slippers and clothes.

Philpott, who was a practising witch while behind bars, was helped in sneaking into the building without her face being seen.

She is due to stay at the hostel for three months — before being freed under a new name. She has a 7pm to 7am curfew.

An elderly woman at the halfway house has Covid, and was seen yesterday by paramedics, sources said.

Philpott was tested for the ­disease before her switch there.

She is set to be assigned an offender supervisor and manager.

And she will be offered counselling, life coaching — and yoga and therapy sessions — before being helped to find new accommodation.

Taxpayers must now fork out tens of thousands to protect her under a fresh identity.

Philpott was transferred to Send prison for the last month of her jail spell to help prepare her for life on the outside.


Our source added: “Philpott was not popular inside and she got a hard time because her crime was so sickening.

“That is likely to happen while she is in the hostel as well though.”

We revealed last month how the killer mum was set to be released on licence halfway through her term.

In the wake of her children’s deaths, she had shed “crocodile tears” when she appeared at a press conference to plead for the public’s help to catch the killers.

She and Mick were initially met with an outpouring of sympathy after the horrific blaze.

Children Jade, ten John, nine, Jack, eight, Jesse, six, and Jayden, five, died in the fire on the morning of May 11.

Neighbours made valiant attempts to save them.

Mairead’s son from a previous relationship, 13-year-old Duwayne — considered his own by Mick — died three days later in hospital.

But the couple’s behaviour at the press conference aroused suspicion and cops bugged the hotel room the Philpotts were given after their fire.

It emerged that Mick Philpott initiated the arson plot — hoping to frame an ex-girlfriend for the fire after “rescuing” the children.

She had left him weeks earlier — having lived in the same house as him and Mairead — and taken her children with her.

He was angry with her and wanted revenge.

The Philpotts also thought the blaze would result in them getting a bigger council house.

But their plan went tragically wrong as the three-bed council home was engulfed and Mick was beaten back by flames, leaving the children to perish.

He was jailed with his wife and their accomplice Paul Mosley, 53, in April 2013 for plotting the blaze.

The couple had shared a sordid threesome with their friend before the fire.

Days later — in a police surveillance operation — Mosley was taped receiving a sex act from Mairead, who hoped to keep him “onside”.

At Nottingham crown court, Mrs Justice Thirwall handed both Mairead Philpott and Mosley sentences of 17 years — and said they must serve at least half.

She gave father-of-17 Mick — already notorious for living on benefits and boasting about having two live-in lovers on TV — a life term with a 15-year minimum tariff.

The judge told Mairead: “You were prepared to go to any lengths to keep him happy.

You put Michael Philpott above your children and as a result they have died.”

The judge described the plot as “a wicked and dangerous plan” and described it as a “uniquely grave set of offences”.

Five years before the arson, Mick Philpott appeared on ITV’s The Jeremy Kyle Show, where he bragged about having 15 kids with five different women.

Mairead Philpott — divorced Mick while in jail — was allowed to write sexually-charged letters to men from behind bars.

In one she told a “boyfriend” she wanted to have more children with him when she was released.

She told her penpal he would be a “fantastic Dad”. Sickeningly, she added: “I hope you have a high sex drive because it won’t be me begging to stop.”

Locals in Derby reacted angrily yesterday to news of her release.

One former neighbour, a man who had known the Philpott family socially, said: ‘It is too short a time for her to be coming out.

“The justice system is completely wrong. If you had attended the funeral and saw those little caskets, it was heart wrenching.

It is too short a time for her to be coming out. The justice system is completely wrong.

“It is still very fresh in everyone’s minds round here.”

Another neighbour, who also did not want to be named, added: “It should be a life for a life really. She should have been given six life sentences.”

It is understood that Philpott is banned from returning to Derby- shire under the terms of her licence.

In a previous interview with The Sun, Mairead’s sister-in-law Charmaine said: “She should be locked up for life and die behind bars.

“Neither of them should ever, ever be allowed to walk free again. They’re both as bad as each other.”

A Prison Service spokesman said: “Offenders released on licence face strict conditions and can be returned to prison if they breach them.”

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Tier system could be scrapped in NINE WEEKS

Tier system could be scrapped in just NINE WEEKS: Boris Johnson promises Commons vote in the new year in bid to head off Tory backbench rebellion

  • PM has written to Conservative MPs offering them a second vote on tier system
  • The move comes amid anger at the impending introduction of a new tier system
  • A new tier system will be introduced when the national lockdown end on Dec 2 
  • But in a letter to MPs on Saturday, Johnson said the system would contain a ‘sunset clause’ that would see the regulations expire on February 3 

The coronavirus tier system could be scrapped in just nine weeks after Boris Johnson promised a commons vote in the new year in a bid to head off a Tory backbench rebellion.

The Prime Minister has written to Conservative MPs offering them a second vote on the coronavirus tier system early next year, having angered ome of his party with a plan to impose stringent restrictions across much of England.

A new tier system will be introduced when the national lockdown ends on Wednesday, and Johnson could struggle to get the measures through Parliament on Tuesday.

Boris Johnson has written to Conservative MPs offering them a second vote on the coronavirus tier system early next year as he seeks to head off a backbench rebellion in the Commons this week. Pictured: Johnson attends a session on COVID-19 situation update at the House of Commons on Thursday

But in a letter to colleagues on Saturday evening, Mr Johnson said the regulations would contain a sunset clause – or expiry date – of February 3, with MPs offered the chance to vote to extend them.

The Government will review local areas’ tiers every fortnight and bring the regulations before Parliament after the fourth review on January 27 which will determine whether the tier system stays in place until the end of March.

Mr Johnson also said the first such review, on December 16, would consider the views of local directors of public health, with a final decision on whether any areas should change tiers made at a Cabinet committee. The changes would come into effect on December 19.

In a further olive branch to MPs, the Prime Minister committed to publish more data and outline what circumstances need to change for an area to move down a tier, as well analysis of the health, economic and social impacts of the measures taken to suppress coronavirus.

Only the Isle of Wight, Cornwall, and the Isles of Scilly will be under the lightest Tier 1 controls, while large swathes of the Midlands, North East and North West are in the most restrictive Tier 3.

In total, 99% of England will enter Tier 2 or 3, with tight restrictions on bars and restaurants and a ban on households mixing indoors when the four-week national lockdown lifts on Wednesday.

The Prime Minister has angered some of his party with a plan to impose stringent restrictions across much of England when the national lockdown ends on Wednesday, and could struggle to get the measures through Parliament on Tuesday

Several senior Tories have expressed opposition to the plan, including the influential 1922 Committee chairman Sir Graham Brady (pictured)

Tory backbenchers accused the Government of risking catastrophic damage to the economy. One predicted that more than 50 Conservative MPs would rebel in a Commons showdown next week

Several senior Tories have expressed opposition to the plan, including the 1922 Committee chairman Sir Graham Brady who said he wanted to see people ‘treated as adults’ and trusted with their own health decisions.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Any Questions: ‘I find so many people have been engaged in a wholly responsible way in trying to make sure they can continue some kind of family life, some kind of social life, but being safe, being responsible throughout.

‘Especially the older people, who are typically more vulnerable to Covid-19, are also the people who are likely to be most responsible.’

Tory MP Craig Mackinlay, who represents South Thanet which has the second highest R-rate in the UK, said he is planning to vote against the new tiered restrictions on Tuesday.

He told BBC Breakfast that he would instead favour natural ‘self-regulation’ which he says happens when people see the R-rate in their local area starting to rise.

But Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, urged MPs to think what the NHS might be like in January, saying: ‘You need to take the precautions now to ensure that the NHS doesn’t get overwhelmed at what is always its busiest time of year.’

Anti-lockdown and anti-vaccine protesters stage a march in central London, England on November 28. Mr Johnson acknowledged on Friday that people felt ‘frustrated’ 

Mr Johnson acknowledged on Friday that people felt ‘frustrated’, particularly in areas with low infection rates which now face tighter restrictions than before the lockdown.

He said: ‘The difficulty is that if you did it any other way, first of all you’d divide the country up into loads and loads of very complicated sub-divisions – there has got to be some simplicity and clarity in the way we do this.

‘The second problem is that, alas, our experience is that, when a high incidence area is quite close to a low incidence area, unless you beat the problem in the high incidence area, the low incidence area, I’m afraid, starts to catch up.’

One furious MP – who asked not to be named – predicted that as many as 70 MPs would rebel against the new tiered measures in a Commons showdown next week, which could see Boris Johnson relying on support from Labour to get the new restrictions approved.  

Their anger has been fuelled by reports that it was ‘unrealistic’ to expect areas under the toughest Covid curbs – Tiers 2 and 3 – to move down to Tier 1 before spring, in a plan dubbed a ‘virtual lockdown’. 

But on Saturday, Michael Gove issued a stark warning to any MP’s planning on rebelling.

The Cabinet Office minister urged MPs to ‘take responsibility for difficult decisions’ to curb the spread of Covid-19, amid anger from some Conservatives that much of England will face stringent restrictions 

Almost the entire nation is set to be banned from socialising indoors until Easter, officials admitted last night. The senior sources said it was ‘unrealistic’ to expect areas under the toughest curbs – Tiers 2 and 3 – to move down to Tier 1 before spring

Under a ‘virtual lockdown’ revealed on Thursday, 99 per cent of the population was put in the top two tiers, which ban household gatherings and cripple the hospitality trade

Writing in The Times, Mr Gove said the decision to impose the restrictions was necessary to ‘pull the handbrake’ and avoid the ‘disaster’ of NHS hospitals – and private sector and newly-built Nightingale hospitals – becoming filled to capacity with only Covid patients and emergency cases.

‘Keeping our hospitals open, available and effective was not just crucial to dealing with Covid-19. It was imperative for the health of the whole nation,’ the pro-shutdown Tory minister argued.

‘But the only way to ensure we can take care of cancer patients, administer radiotherapy and chemotherapy, and help stroke victims and treat heart attacks is by protecting the NHS,’ he said, adding this could only be done by reducing the spread of the virus and thus limiting the number of Covid patients in hospitals. 

Mr Gove also claimed that reducing infections would save the UK economy, which has been decimated by shutdown restrictions that prevent the trade of the hospitality industry and retail, tourism and air travel. 

Michael Gove today warned up to 100 potential Tory rebels to put Britain’s interests first after officials admitted last night that almost the entire nation will be banned from socialising indoors until Easter

As official forecasts warn that the national debt could soar to £2.8trillion by 2025, he warned: ‘Think for a moment what would happen to our economy if we allowed infections to reach such a level that our NHS was overwhelmed.’

But his argument was attacked by former Supreme Court judge Lord Sumption today, who blasted the Government’s use of ‘extremely selective and tendentious’ data to justify shutdowns.

Lord Sumption, last year’s BBC Reith Lecturer, also told Radio 4’s Today programme that the Tiering system was ‘unenforceable’ and suggested that the public was growing increasingly unwilling to comply.  

On Saturday, A further 15,871 people tested positive for Covid-19 in the UK, marking a 20 per cent drop on the number of cases reported last Saturday. 

Saturday’s case total shaves a fifth off the 19,875 positive tests reported this time last week in a sure-fire sign England’s second nation-wide lockdown slowed the country’s spiraling infection rate.    

A further 15,871 people have tested positive for Covid-19 in the UK today, marking a 20 per cent drop on the number of cases reported last Saturday

Official figures have also revealed a further 479 coronavirus deaths – a 40 per cent rise on the 341 figure seen last Saturday

But Britain is not out of the woods completely as official figures have also revealed a further 479 coronavirus deaths – a 40 per cent rise on the 341 figure seen last Saturday.  

Today’s death toll is the highest Saturday figure seen since May 2 when 584 Britons lost their lives to the virus.

However it is the second-lowest death toll figure seen this week – after a massive 696 deaths were reported on Wednesday and 608 on Tuesday.

Those who died today likely contracted the virus weeks ago, potentially before the lockdown rules came into effect.

Today’s figures come amid a brewing Tory rebellion as furious backbenchers accuse the Government of risking catastrophic damage to the economy with its controversial system for life post-national lockdown.

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